A. WHAT IS RUSSIA
Valentina announced today that she cut open the belly of a crow under the gleam of a solstice moon, the spilling innards of which instructed her to select a Euros team of Angelina Melnikova, Angelina Simakova, Lilia Akhaimova, Irina Alexeeva, and Uliana Perebinosova.
Obviously, I’m in heaven. This team is so damn weird and special, and I’m more excited for bars and beam than I can possibly say. (Admittedly, I’m excited in that “what if someone barfed during the royal wedding” kind of way, but still excited.) But also, um, a couple questions. Question #1: Why do you hate blood pressure? Question #2: Viktoria Komova, explain?
Well, according to Valentina, Komova was not selected for Euros despite finishing 3rd AA at Russian Cup because…wait for it…she has back pain and is inconsistent.
You’ve literally described every single Russian gymnast of the last 20 years, as well as all five other members of the team you selected. I have back pain and inconsistency just from saying the word “Russia” aloud right now. You’ll need to be more specific.
Also, Komova says her alleged back pain is not a thing.
Tell us more, Vika. Tell us more. You mean Valentina might have been disingenuous and inventing injuries again? I’m shook.
Oh yeah, Ilyankova is not on the team either, despite recording a 15.300 on bars at Russian Cup and placing 2nd AA. So…huh?
This is going to sound bad, but…she better be injured. You know what I mean. There’s internet rumor of a limp, which is the only way I can really see it making sense to take Perebinosova as a bars specialist over Ilyankova.
Perebinosova was too injured to compete at Russian Cup three weeks ago—and I was under the impression that she was “out of Euros”-injured—but apparently she’s better than Komova and Ilyankova suddenly, so that’s going to make for a super fun Euros competition. Alexeeva also missed Russian Cup—and doesn’t have the peak scoring potential of Komova on bars and beam or Ilyankova on bars—so the fact that she was chosen to do bars and beam means we can only assume she showed up to the final selection and American-consistency-ed all over everyone’s ass.
And Valentina was like, “WHAT IS THIS HITTING WITCHCRAFT. YOU’RE MY NEW DAUGHTER. VIKA LOCK YOURSELF IN A DUNGEON.”
That’s 1000% what happened because it looked to all the world like Komova and Ilyankova were going to be on this team and then suddenly…
From the nominative list, Kharenkova also did not end up making the final cut. Sadly, this seemed kind of inevitable because her recent performances haven’t been…good. Though once again, who among you isn’t inconsistent?
This is how I assume the rotation lineups will go:
VT: Akhaimova, Melnikova, Simakova
UB: Alexeeva, Perebinosova, Melnikova
BB: Alexeeva, Simakova, Melnikova
FX: Akhaimova, Simakova, Melnikova
It’s still not a disaster by any means. It looks to me like a team selected based primarily on “WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT FLOOR?” panic, which was a very real concern for many potential teams. This is the best possible floor team Russia could come up with (and even has a useful backup score from Alexeeva should she be at full strength), but in loading up the floor options, it has revealed some serious gaps on other events.
You can’t really blame Russia for not selecting anyone exclusively for her beam prowess (like a Zubova or Kharenkova) because they’re all going to fall anyway, but this is certainly a thin and inconsistent beam group. When Melnikova is your rock…
The bars lineup now also relies on a hit from Perebinosova, who is 4-for-7 this year in competition, and the vault lineup relies on Akhaimova and Simakova. That could be great. On paper, these are Russia’s best vaults, but Simakova fell on 2 of 3 at Russian Cup, and while Akhaimova upgraded to a rudi earlier this year, at Russian Cup she was showing handspring pike 1/2s for charitable mid-13s. So that’s going to be a wrinkle to watch.
This team can get by, potentially even do well, but I have to think there must be something going on with Komova because her presence would clearly improve the scoring potential of this team on bars and beam—you could argue by five tenths. You hope what’s going on isn’t just Valentina being so drunk.
The sports-industrial complex actually did something right for a change, awarding the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year’s ESPYs to all the survivors as a group.
You should watch the introductory video
As well as the acceptance speech.
Aly starting by listing those years. She has gotten gooooood at this.
Rachael Denhollander couldn’t be there because she was basically mid-baby at the time, but this morning she successfully connected being a badass to birthing a child for 0.2 CV.
C. Go Empower Yourself
My deepest apologies, but on Tuesday, you’re going to have to pay attention to Congress again because Kerry Perry is back. This time, she’s going in front of the Senate to invent more task forces and say “empowered” and “independent Ropes and Gray” and pretend like she’s done things that are actual things. (Is she going to try to cry this time? I feel like she might try to cry.)
She’s appearing alongside Suzanne Lyons again (they were both in front of the House last time), but making his debut appearance as the third member of this little troupe will be John Engler. He’s the most outwardly and aggressively awful human being of the three, so I anticipate much of the focus will be on him because he’s just so cartoon-villain terrible. Let’s hope the senators decide to run for reelection all over him.
C. Tokyo 2020
The preliminary schedule for the 2020 Olympics was revealed this week with the correct amount of punctuality—two years early.
You get me, 2020.
In addition to introducing us to all the new sports like rock climbing and karate and upside-down rugby and ironic walking, the schedule also revealed exactly what godforsaken time of day we’ll have to wake up to watch Mixed Group 5 do front fulls to the music of someone who finished 10th on America’s Got Talent in 2011. I’m so excited. Living the dream.
Friday July 24, 2020
9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT – Men’s Qualification – Subdivision 1
Saturday July 25, 2020
1:30am ET/10:30pm PT – Men’s Qualification – Subdivision 2
6:30am ET/3:30am PT – Men’s Qualification – Subdivision 3
8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT – Women’s Qualification – Subdivision 1 & 2
Sunday July 26, 2020
2:10am ET/11:10pm PT – Women’s Qualification – Subdivision 3 & 4
7:20am ET/4:20am PT – Women’s Qualification – Subdivision 5
Monday July 27, 2020
5:00am ET/2:00am PT – Men’s Team Final
Tuesday July 28, 2020
5:45am ET/2:45am PT – Women’s Team Final
Wednesday July 29, 2020
5:15am ET/2:15am PT – Men’s All-Around Final
Thursday July 30, 2020
5:50am ET/2:50am PT – Women’s All-Around Final
Sunday August 2, 2020
4:00am ET/1:00am PT – Event Finals Day 1
Monday August 3, 2020
4:00am ET/1:00am PT – Event Finals Day 2
Tuesday August 4, 2020
4:00am ET/1:00am PT – Event Finals Day 3
OK, so who’s hosting our all-night watch parties with themed snacks and cocktails?
D. Men’s Elite Qualifier
We heard via Pony Express that the US men competed in an elite qualifier at the OTC last weekend. The end. That’s basically all we know.
It appears that Penev and Whittenburg did not end up competing despite appearing on the initial roster, but Mikulak did show—competing five events (everything but vault) and winning FX, SR, and HB. Donothan Bailey won PH, Cameron Bock won PB, and Colin Van Wicklen won VT in addition to the all-around. Van Wicklen led the group of 18 new qualifiers to nationals, a group that sadly did not include #2 finisher on horse Brandon Ngai or #3 finisher on horse Ellis Mannon because of USAG’s busted 20-point system. So great. It’s all up to you Alec Yoder.
E. Christ Romania
The drama-thon that is Romania continued this week with more Marian Dragulescu problems. Marian is very grumpy that he was not included in the team for Euros, so the Romanian federation responded with a statement yesterday saying, “His heart is actually broken and we are not medically cleared to send him to competition,” ending with, “Also, Marian is mean and he sucks. Goodbye.”
So I’m sure that’s the last we’ll hear of it…
Bonus Romanian drama: The news that Olivia Cimpian—who last year fled Romania for Hungary with hopes of
not sucking on bars competing for the Hungarians—has returned to Romania and is once again training in Deva.
There will be some inevitable logistical nightmares regarding who she is actually eligible to represent, and Romania will of course have to pretend like “we don’t even know if we want you back.” But, she had a DTY, so you super do want her back. Don’t front. Let’s just hope she actually gets to compete again at some point for somebody.
F. Meets or whatever
If you’re looking for a smidgen of actual gymnastics competition, the Romanian women did hold a friendly against Israel, at which Denisa Golgota remained the only friend in your life you can trust, and after which Israel was like, “Never mind, you all suck and none of you are going to Euros, bye.” Israel was planning to send four senior athletes to Euros, but now it’s just Ofir Netzer.
The Central American/Caribbean Games also get underway today with the men’s team final/qualifying. The women will follow tomorrow, with all-around finals on Sunday and event finals on Monday and Tuesday. Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela have sent teams on the women’s side. It’s exciting that we get to see Cuba sending a complete group, but none of them are Yesenia Ferrera.
In other news, the returned Ana Perez is the new Spanish national champion. Der.
Kiya Johnson, a Texas Dreams gymnast who was intending to join Georgia’s team for the 2021 competition season, has switched her verbal to LSU. She’ll presumably join an LSU 2020-2021 class that already includes Olivia Dunne, Elena Arenas, Haleigh Bryant, and Emma Kelley.
Italy has assembled a training group of 8 from which to select its team for Euros, a group that consists of Basile, Busato, Cereghetti, Grisetti, Linari, Maggio, Mori, and Ricciardi. Absent is Elisa Meneghini, who was on the nominative roster. Italy’s nominative roster was kind of bonkers, so we’ll see if this ends up making a little more sense in the end. Oh wait, I’m sure it won’t.
We’ve had a few more nominative roster changes for Euros: Emma Höfele officially replacing the injured Sophie Scheder for Germany (Höfele will compete VT and UB), Anina Wildi officially replacing the injured Giulia Steingruber for Switzerland (Wildi is slated to compete AA), Marta Pihan-Kulesza officially being added to Poland’s team after winning nationals (to do UB/BB/FX), and Mariana Marianito replacing Rafaela Ferreira for Protugal (to do BB/FX).
Zsofia Kovacs has still not been removed from Hungary’s nominative roster despite the news that she is injured.
Jessica is off this week, so you are instead treated to a BlogCast of my thoughts on the American Classic. We’ll be back with a regular episode next week previewing the U.S. Classic with a delightful guest.