The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – July 26, 2018

A. 47 + Lies = 80

So, Kerry Perry did a Congress again, and it went just as terribly as you would expect. We’ll get there in a second.

But first, the most insufferably unsurprising part of all came right before the hearing itself, when USAG totally coincidentally launched its progress page for implementing the recommendations in the Daniels Report. You know, over a year later, like you do. In theory, this is a good thing. We’ve been calling for actual accountability in USAG’s commitment to implement the report ever since it came out, and this is a step in that direction. But also…you guys.

First, if you click on each of the individual points, you’ll see that USAG has implemented only the broadest and least important of the points, mostly the ones that don’t directly affect individual athletes, and has quite a charitable and passive definition of the word “implemented.” Basically, all they’re doing is showing you the sentence they added to the bylaws that vaguely concerns that topic, or just saying “Yep we did that” or “Uh…SafeSport?” Anyone can add a sentence to the bylaws and then ignore it.

Examples: They’re supposed to put people with expertise in child protection on the leadership team. That’s “implemented” with zero examples of who those people are or what their expertise is. They’re supposed to expand reporting methods to encourage and facilitate reporting. That’s “implemented” because of an email address and an online reporting form that isn’t even linked to here (nice work), with no discussion of efforts to reach out to and educate the athletes on this so that they know it exists and how it works and what to do with it. How is that really encouraging and facilitating reporting? Passive passive passive.

But best of all, you’ll note that the handy-dandy little pie chart says that 47% of the recommendations have been implemented.

Hmmm. That’s interesting. Remember back in March when KP proudly told us that over 80% of the recommendations had been put into effect?

So that was…wait for it…[looks around furtively]…a lie to make yourself look better?

I’m very, extremely surprised. Much shock.

It now appears they were combining the “implemented” and “in progress” categories and pretending that all of them were already done in order to get over 80% (that would make 86%). Much like when KP went in front of the House and pretended the Athlete Task Force that didn’t exist yet was already done. It’s the USAG special.

“Implemented” and “in progress” are not the same thing. That’s why they’re two different terms. One of them is done, and one of them isn’t. Stop lying to make yourself look better than you are. You’re going to get caught. It’s like we’re dealing with 5th graders again and again and again.

And have you made any progress on any of these items since you were “80%”-ing us in March? You’ve had more than a year, and 47% isn’t very good. That’s an F, by the way. Like an F-, really.

B. It was Thursday

To the hearing itself. The most entertaining part was when Senator Blumenthal kept pressing KP about the answer that USAG filed in a Michigan court last week saying That Guy was not “an employee or agent of USAG” and we all collapsed out of death because he was your team doctor. 

Her initial response was basically, “I’ve never heard of anything. Who is a court? What am I? Where am I? What are any of us, when you really think about it? Are we art? Is art art?” Because of empowerment.

Robot Kerry Perry got so confused by how much she had to pretend she didn’t know that she malfunctioned and had to revert to her fail-safe, “I wasn’t with the organization at that time.”

At which point Senator Blumenthal replied that it happened last Thursday.

[Slow clap]

Yeah. She’ll “have to look into that.”

Finally, Blumenthal got her to say, “Larry Nassar was absolutely an agent of USA Gymnastics” in direct contradiction of USAG’s answer in Michigan, so that was a victory.

Also, does anyone else start reciting KP’s lines along with her when she goes into Greatest Hits mode? Because I do. “Their stories have broken my heart, but also…[say it with me now]…strengthened my resolve.” It’s like the worst concert of your life. Next time, all the survivors in the audience should stand up and just start doing her lines for her.

Elsewhere on the panel, a burbling sack of diarrhea named John Engler decided to continue calling Kaylee Lorincz a liar and we’re done with him forever. Just go.

Also, Aly tried to meet the new CEO of the USOC, and it went USOC-ish-ly.

C. Ashton

Before Tuesday’s Senate hearing, Ashton Locklear appeared at the pre-hearing press conference to join the legion of survivors and announce that she is done accepting the toxic sludge.

Per her account to the NYT, that toxic sludge includes Han, her coach at Everest. Try to keep acting surprised every time we learn that a coach might actually be a dick. Ashton discusses him hitting her with a cellphone, calling her stupid, and ignoring her when she tried to report That Guy to him, among many other transgressions.

Hearing about situations like this also reminds me why it’s especially awful that all those coaches tried to defend the circumstances at the ranch. It was no big deal, you guys, because the personal coaches were there to take care of anything the athletes needed.

Were they, though? Were they?

“Hi, would you spend a week every month in the middle of a forest chaperoned only by a guy who throws phones at you while you desperately try to impress a vulture? But don’t worry, at night a rapist will come into your cabin.”

THE RANCH WAS FINE YOU GUYS. IT WAS LIKE SUMMER CAMP. WHAT A LEARNING EXPERIENCE.

D. Classic

Your only assignment this weekend is US Classic. In the news, Lilly Lippeatt has withdrawn from the junior field, but that’s the lone start list change reported so far.

Your work schedule is as follows:

Friday, 8:00 ET – Junior podium training
Friday, 10:00 ET – Senior podium training
Friday, 2:30 ET – Hopes competition
Saturday, 1:30 ET – Junior competition
Saturday, 8:00 ET – Senior competition

Everything is streaming on USAG’s Youtube except for the seniors, for which you’ll have to go to the streaming for NBC or the Olympic Channel.

Simone will be competing the Moors, the Fabrichnova, a Shap 1/2, and the Cheng. “Normal.”

On bars, if she’s doing Weiler 1/2 + Shap + Tkatchev, Toe full + piked tkatchev + Pak + Shap 1/2, Fabrichnova…that would be a 6.4 D score. Now, I’ve assumed quite a few combinations in there. That second combo is a lot, but separate the toe full and the Shap 1/2 off of that combo, and she’d still be at 6.1 D.

The Cheng is a 6.0 D, and the floor is looking like it could be 6.7. On beam, if she keeps everything the same but adds a front pike (and a triple wolf, which she didn’t mention in Scott’s interview but has trained), she’s looking at a 6.5 D with all connections given. Schäfer won beam in 2017 with a 5.5 D.

E. More terrible Euros news

Who’s the next team to be hit with the everything-is-awful axe? Why, it’s Belgium. Congratulations! Belgium just posted about its Euros team that is suddenly made up of four people—Derwael, Klinckaert, Brassart, and Deriks—none of whom are Rune Hermans (or Julie Meyers, who was originally on the team).

The major blow to the team would come on bars and beam, where Hermans would certainly have competed. Ideally, she would have gone on floor as well, but we didn’t see her compete floor in the Netherlands a couple weeks ago. Deriks and Brassart can combine to fill in the missing events, but Belgium probably loses a full point in scoring potential without Hermans.

Italy isn’t doing so hot either with the news that Martina Maggio is out (again) with a knee injury. Italy hasn’t named its official team yet, but Maggio was going to be on it if she hadn’t gotten injured. Now, I’d say this improves the prospects for Sofia Busato and her DTY to go and make up a team of Mori, Grisetti, Basile, Ricciardi, and Busato. The two other members of the final training group are Linari and Cereghetti.

[EDIT: Ah ha ha ha ha. Remember that time yesterday when I said this? Well, apparently Ricciardi has a broken toe and Mori has muscle pain. At least, there must be something because Italy announced its final team as Basile, Busato, Cereghetti, Grisetti, and Linari. A.k.a., anyone who is left.]

Mori is injured and Ricciardi is semi-maybe-injured? At least that’s the explanation we’re going with as Italy has announced its final team as

For Switzerland, it keeps getting worse. Now, Lynn Genhart is out and will be replaced on the team by Thea Brogli. The team will lose some tenths on bars with this switch but may actually improve on floor depending on Brogli’s current level.

F. Other things

-China is going full-speed ahead with its team for the Asian Games (August 20-24), selecting a first-choice squad of Chen Yile, Liu Jinru, Liu Tingting, Zhang Jin, and Luo Huan.

-Your one real-life meet of the past week was the Central American and Caribbean Games, which ended up being a Cuba-fest as Cuba took the women’s team title, the women’s all-around title (Vidiaux), and the men’s all-around title (Larduet). The hosts Colombia did break the streak by winning the men’s team title.

Yamilet Peña edged Vidiaux for the vault title, while Ahtziri Sandoval won bars, Bianca Leon from Puerto Rico won beam, and Vidiaux came back to win the floor title.

-The Chris Brooks merry-go-round has finally reached its conclusion with him taking a position as an assistant coach on the Oklahoma men’s team.

-Eddie van Hoof has been hired as the new head coach of the Canadian men’s team. He’s the former head coach of the British men’s team who was suspended for alleged misconduct by British Gymnastics last year, then fired early this year, and then in April they reached some kind of mysterious settlement where his membership was reinstated.

G. GymCastic

This week, we have a preview of the US Classic with Mary Wise from IGN, coach of Adeline Kenlin. We dig right into all the major competitors, what we’re excited about, and what you need to make sure to pay attention to this Saturday.

Note: We pre-recorded this episode, so if there’s out-of-date information—say about what events Simone is competing, or something—that’s why.

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