Things Are Happening – August 22, 2018

A. Pan American Championships team

Following nationals, the US named its Pan-American Championships team as Grace McCallum, Shilese Jones, Kara Eaker, Trinity Thomas, and Jade Carey—going exactly by the all-around standings from nationals with the exception of the three worlds-lock gymnasts: Biles, Hurd, and McCusker.

It’s a quality, perfectly acceptable, well-balanced team (if a little light on bars with Shchennikova as only the alternate). I don’t, however, care for the approach of using the direct all-around standings to make a team. That’s not typically going to bring out the highest-scoring group in a team competition or be the most efficient use of spots. Why even have a selection committee if they’re not going to do any selecting?

In this case, I think particularly of someone like Jordan Chiles. She’s actually in the conversation for worlds because of vault—but is also so erratic in her hitting that she remains a very questionable selection. Pan Ams could have provided more data points for a borderline candidate like her.

In true shallow USAG fashion (trying to solve problems only cosmetically without addressing the underlying frustrations), they’re attempting to eliminate perceptions of bias by making more selections via all-around results. Team formats being what they are, however, that approach doesn’t work.

The only way you can try to eliminate perceptions of political unfairness or bias against athletes in gymnastics selection is by publicly, transparently, and logically explaining your decisions so that we can judge for ourselves whether those reasons make sense, or whether you’re just a biased garbage factory. What you can’t do is announce a list of names and then disappear in a cloud of smoke.

This issue is coming up intensely on the men’s side right now with John Orozco’s anger about Donnell Whittenburg being left of the team. Someone is always going to be upset and think team selections are unfair—that’s part of the job of naming teams, someone’s going to be pissed and the coaches and athletes will always semi-hate you—but you have to be open about the reasoning in choosing the people you did. Otherwise, you’re going to invite assumptions of bias.

Why wouldn’t the athletes assume something fishy is going on if they’re never given good reasons as to why decisions are made?

I personally would not have placed Whittenburg in the worlds selection group of 8 because he’s not far enough along yet and isn’t even showing basic routines on some of his most important events. I would, however, have put him on the national team because he could be worthy of a place on a future worlds team at full strength.

Also, if Whittenburg wasn’t going to be named to anything at all after showing up at nationals with semi-meh performances on rings and PBars, regardless of the reasoning, he should have been told in advance of the competition that there was no point in doing what he was doing.

Expectations need to be made clear to every athlete. National team coordinators should be sitting down with every athlete and saying, “This is where I see you fitting (or not fitting). This is what you need to do to keep that up. This is what you need to do to change your position. I need to see this many competitive routines. I need to see you getting healthy.” Or whatever it may be. Your place in national team setups or in the eyes of the selection committee should never be a mystery.

B. The Jade Carey situation

I get into this in the update to the 2020 Olympic qualification explanation, but…

Rumblings from nationals were that Jade Carey is not putting herself in the mix for worlds this year in an effort to gain a nominative Olympic spot through event world cups instead. This needs to be false. That would be an extremely stupid decision for the US program to make. Do not do that. You do not want that. Send Jade Carey to worlds. Do not send any athletes to event world cups. Those spots do not make sense for the US women. You do not need to go for them. Repel that instinct.

One more thing to add: Some people are confused about the individual spots. Whether a spot is qualified through the apparatus route or the all-around routes has no bearing on how many events you can end up competing at the actual Olympics. Everyone has the option to compete four pieces, to compete one piece, whatever. It doesn’t matter how that spot was earned once you’re there.

C. Asian Games

Team action at the Asian Games concluded today and our dreams of an epic China/Japan showdown on both the women’s and men’s sides will have to wait for the world championship since Japan elected not to send its worlds delegations to this event. And China said, “Thank you for all the gold medals. Sincerely, China.”

China, having sent what are pretty much its A teams, romped to team gold in both the men’s and women’s competitions, winning the men’s competition by over 12 points and the women’s by nearly 7. On the women’s side, we’re still very worried about China having to put up a 5.0, 5.0, 4.7 lineup on floor and several fulls on vault. It didn’t matter in this competition, but it will at worlds.

Japan wasn’t expecting a ton from its own women’s team, but it’s still quite significant that North Korea beat the Japanese for the silver medal. This new generation of North Koreans is legit and should easily make the top 24 at worlds if this competition is any remote indication of ability.

Chen Yile took the women’s AA gold fairly easily with 55.950, ahead of Luo Huan and Kim Su Jong. For the men, Lin Chaopan reversed the results from worlds, winning gold ahead of Xiao Ruoteng, who took bronze. Shogo Nonomura won silver.

The meet continues with event finals on Thursday and Friday, after which I’ll do a whole recap of the competition. Women’s vault has already gotten weird, with Liu Jinru doing a Pavlova on vault for a 0.000 in qualification, Dipa Karmakar getting two-pered out of the final and then withdrawing from the meet, and Yeo Seojong showing an excellent rudi to emerge as South Korea’s greatest hope.

D. Worlds draw

Somewhat lost in the nationals shuffle was the reveal of the draw for the world championship, but don’t worry, it’s terrible.



I say it’s terrible because the FIG has introduced a bye rotation on the women’s side this year to allow for the unnecessarily large number of mixed groups it has also introduced. In 2014, there were 6 mixed groups of 7 athletes each; this year there are 13 mixed groups of 4-5 athletes each. They also got rid of a subdivision for some reason. There were supposed to be 12, and now there are 11.

If they had used 12 subdivisions and made the mixed groups up of 5-6 athletes (which is bigger than the team sizes, but that’s no different than it was in 2014), they could easily have avoided using bye rotations. But FIG gonna FIG.

The second we get rid of byes in NCAA, the FIG decides that byes sound like a great idea? #murdermurdermurder

As for the actual subdivision placement, the US and Japanese women compete on the first day, with China, Russia, and Great Britain going on the second day. Most of the biggest men’s teams will go on the second day, except for Russia, which got the very first subdivision.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter. Concerns about the scores rising through the competition and benefiting the later subdivisions tend to be leftovers from the 10.0 years. That’s very 80s-90s. It’s not much of a thing in the D-E era.

E. The same rigamarole

Someone accuses a coach of abuse. More people accuse the coach of abuse. Other people say those first people are liars. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Maybe just wait, listen, acknowledge, and think.

And remember that old adage from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Everyone sucks. Everywhere. All the time.”

F. What else?

Valeri is still working with the Brazilian women’s team. Keep your eyes and ears peeled.

Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian were on CBS This Morning, accompanied by Miss Val, to tell of their own experiences as survivors.

And the myriad people connected to USAG who are questioning their timing and motives can go eat a porcupine. They’re not the problem. You are the problem.

We know coaching abuse is far from just a US problem. But in other countries, they sometimes decide to do this thing where you get fired instead of, like, a trophy.

In better news, Paul Ruggeri got engaged!

G. GymCastic

This week, it’s one of our longest episodes yet (you’re welcome?) because we had kind of a lot to talk about regarding nationals. Equal parts excitement and rage: the GymCastic special. We even spend a good, solid amount of time on the men. Men!

Also, buckle in for next week’s episode because Jessica interviewed Aly Raisman while she was in Boston, and it’s going to be GOOOOOOOOD stuff. [tea emoji] [tea emoji] [tea emoji]

H. Beam routine of the week

1988 all-around champion Yelena Shushunova died last week from complications due to pneumonia at age 49.


82 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – August 22, 2018”

  1. Please incessantly call USAG to explain the FIG rules to them. It seems like one person kinda read them and is now just telling everyone false info.

    1. Spenc, i don’t know how much power or influence or connection you have, but can you please talk to the insiders at USAG about this whole qualification things and carey? Need to definitely know if they are really thinking wrongly about the rule or if they understand the rule but just decide to go the wrong way anyway.

  2. Chiles for vault or Shchennikova for bars are POTENTIAL routines for Worlds and they both should be on the team for additional vetting. All Shchennikova needs is a dismount. Already frustrated with Tom.

    1. People definitely remember who Ragan Smith is and I’m pretty sure the consensus is that she should take a nap and heal up instead of trying to compete and risking further injury.

      1. agreed, this is not the olympics. no point stressing herself out. look at how strong riley came back after rehab from injury.

  3. Aw man, I’m sorry to hear about Elena Shushunova. Now I feel a little bad about how, just last week, I was ruminating on 2018 being the 30th anniversary of my holding a grudge about the 88 All-Around results.

  4. I’m fine if people want to wait, listen, and not speak either way until a proper investigation is done into abuse claims. But I can’t help noticing this attitude only seems to be gaining popularity once it’s Ashton Locklear’s coach that is accused. It seriously seems like the Locklear prejudice is so strong that people don’t want to fully accept they might have to have sympathy and support for her.
    Not since Jamie Danztscher has the gymternet taken such a “let’s wait and hear everybody’s side” attitude. Every athlete who has come forward since Maggie has been met with certainty and support, and the gymternet has had no problem calling for the heads of any member of the USAG women’s program, even innocent ones, just because their name was attached to the organization. But suddenly it’s Locklear and…eww, hold on, let’s just be quiet and not decide anything either way. There is nothing wrong at all with waiting for all the facts, but this is not the attitude the gymternet had for every survivor who came before Locklear.

    1. I didn’t mean to imply Locklear’s coach was accused of sexual abuse. But neither was Ohashi’s and no one has questioned her account of her experiences.

    2. I don’t think people are saying not to believe Ashton. I think the message is that if you had a different experience with Han, maybe wait to see what the investigation turns up rather than shouting out the positive experience from the rooftops.

      1. While I can’t deny that people developed a hatred against Locklear largely due to the fact that she is/was a Trump supporter, the difference is that there are more dimensions surrounding the Locklear situation. With Nassar all of his accusers were quickly believed and accepted/supported because it became extremely clear very quickly that he was a serial child abuser who had taken advantage of the Karolyi’s/MSU’s “shut up and deal with it” approach for decades. People were more hesitant to accept Locklear in the “my coach is a piece of shit too” thing because gymnasts training at Everest claimed that she was bullying them and constantly verbally berating them and saying that her actions against the gymnasts got her kicked out instead of her deciding to leave on her own. Now more gymnasts are saying that Han is physically abusive so maybe people will begin to take what Locklear is saying more seriously, but I can see why there was initial skepiticism.

      2. I see that now. I think you may be right. It’s difficult to know what people are saying because everyone’s talking around the edges on this one, I may have read their intentions backwards.

      3. I would still like to know where the Locklear bullying thing originated though. I basically saw 1 person post it as a rumored reason when she left Everest and since then nothing but people repeating that one idea. I’ve never heard anything from any actual Everest gymnast or parent or coach to support it, so it disturbs me how far people have ran with it on no evidence. Not saying it can’t be true, but there is no actual basis to believe it. Reminds me of all the speculation against Gabby and against Chow when those two split. There was never any information from the actual parties so people just went with rumors, half of which were just ideas made up by posters who were guessing. It doesn’t seem very responsible to keep perpetuating this idea unless someone comes up with a real reason, or a real person, who can factually support it.

      4. There was a gym blogger (Lauren I think?) that did a phone interview with an Everest gymnast who is in NCAA now who said that Locklear was bullying and belittling some of the girls at Everest, and that it was leading to issues developed by the girls as a result as well as issues within the gym concerning Locklear. There was a file and post about it that someone on Tumblr recovered that confirmed this information but I believe it has since been deleted.

      5. So Lauren herself posted this information at some point and then deleted it? It does seem like Lauren is communicating with Emily Schild in some manner, or had, but it all feels like that old telephone-gossip game. Someone told someone that someone said…I guess it’s just feels like the gymternet applies its standards unevenly based on who they already like. Simone Biles literally said straight out that she was being bullied and everyone jumped on her for “overreacting” because they didn’t want to think badly of their beloved bookreading favorite. But the gymternet hears that someone told someone that Locklear did “something” to “someone” and the gymternet gives it all this serious consideration.

      6. While I think that the bullying claims is a serious situation and Locklear should be held accountable if it turns out to be true, people are biased toward Locklear, no doubt. Like with Morgan and Simone, both were held in high regards by the gym community, and people were willing to put it down to a slight moment of immaturity for both and pass it off, as well as people being quick to forgive and forget after they appeared to be fine around each other at nationals. But with Locklear right now and Skinner, people have constantly pulled at stuff they did in the past, whether long in the past or recently, to justify their hatred of them. Off topic, in regards to previous question I do think she’s under investigation by safe sport.

      7. She may absolutely be under investigation by Safe Sport, but again, I just want to know what is the basis for this idea? There was no announcement from the USAG or SafeSport a la Naddour. There is a big difference between being allegedly reported to USAG for underage drinking, and bullying people significantly enough to warrant an investigation.
        There is also a big difference between blogging sites saying they “heard” something from “somewhere” and actual online journalists who cite their sources (you can still give context to an anonymous source and indicate whether your info comes directly from a connected person or if it’s thirdhand), and journalists ideally corroborate claims with a 2nd independent source.
        It could all be true. For all I know, Ashton might torture kittens in her spare time. But the internet frustrates me. Things get repeated over and over until they’re taken as fact, but when you try to find a legitimate source for these things, the ice gets very thin and people start dancing and disappearing, with many reluctant to admit there isn’t a solid basis to the claims.

    3. Please don’t get me wrong, there is never an excuse or reason for abuse of any kind but I question timing for Kayla, Maddie and Ally. I have images of huggy-kissy with Marta (not Kayla) but I take issue with holding info until you get the result you want (i.e.) an Olympic berth or a second Olympic berth and then coming out with the story. My respect would have been stronger to call out the culprits prior to the Olympics. It was like I have to suck up and play nice until I get my reward then I’ll testify. There was plenty of time to do the right thing – they would still have made the team but I feel the timing is suspect. I am not questioning that it happened but I guess they felt they had to play the game. How could they have acted like Marta was a long lost aunt and then flipped the switch. My respect for them would have been ten fold if they had testified earlier and maybe saved a few younger athletes. THey were high profile and would have drawn a lot of attention to the situation. My heart goes out to any and all who suffered at the hands of Nasser and the neglect of USAG. But maybe it would have ended sooner if some of the big names, Ally, Jordan, Maddie, Kayla, Gabby, had come forward sooner rather than padding their team possibilities.

      1. This comment is so ignorant it hurts. Literally the entire reason the whole organization is under attack rather than just Nassar himself is that they fostered a culture of silence where girls felt like they were risking their spots on Olympic (etc.) teams if they spoke up. These girls train 40+ hours a week for YEARS to achieve this goal. They were not “sucking up and playing nice to get their reward,” they were staying silent out of sheer fear that their lifelong dreams would be crushed before them if they dared to come forward. Don’t forget we are talking about LITTLE GIRLS here, the large majority of whom are under 18 and it would require almost unattainable strength, maturity, and sacrifice for them to have spoken up in a culture where it was so widely frowned upon to do so. The fact that they even spoke up when they did is a testament to how truly strong they are and the incredible young women they have become.

      2. I’m not sure who “Kayla” is – Kyla? McKayla? But that this poster can’t even get the gymnasts’ names right is just a start to illustrating how ignorant the post is. First, let’s start with timing of when people came forward. While many of these gymnasts felt uncomfortable with what Nassar was doing, they have also said that they believed it was a legitimate medical procedure. Aly has said that, Kyla has said that, Madison has said that. Aly first realized that what he was doing was abuse following the conversation with Fran the “interviewer” hired by USAG and following that, contacted USAG again to make sure they fully understood her story, suggested they contact McKayla Maroney (without whom USAG may not have even fired Nassar or contacted law enforcement), and had her parents repeatedly follow up with USAG. Who by the way told her to keep quiet or it would interfere with the investigation of Nassar. Not just that she wouldn’t be on the team but that the investigation itself would be jeopardized. Aly fully cooperated with law enforcement as did McKayla Maroney and I don’t think you should hold women in their late teens responsible for not going to the press with sexual abuse stories when actual law enforcement was not doing anything about this predator. It took time for each of them to decide that they wanted to go public.

        Throughout all of this, Kyla and Madison had no idea what was even going on or that there was even a situation. They still thought that Nassar had performed a medical procedure on him. I don’t know at what point when they realized after many other women had come forward that they had been abused too but it may have taken longer for them to process. There was an example of one woman who spoke at the sentencing who had initially defended Nassar, who had said “he performs this same procedure on me but it’s a medical procedure” because it took that woman a longer time to process and to realize that no – what he was performing wasn’t legitimate. And then once they realized, they may have still thought, no, I can keep this private especially because Nassar may have already been in jail or at least plead guilty by the time they came to that realization. But they have now come to realize that other people need to be held accountable. And they can use the power they have to try to help hold organizations like USAG accountable.

        And for the record, I don’t think Kyla or Aly or Madison have said anything against Martha. They are also not among the athletes suing her. Mattie Larson has been outspoken against the Karolyis and is suing them but she has never been very positive toward them. Get your facts straight.

  5. 2020 is a dream comes true in sorta way fir US in that they could put up to 6 AA performance in qual if they want… we have seen how in the past they are limited in being able to have less than the number of AA routines in qual…. No more….lol 🙂

  6. The selection committee is sending a very clear message about their selection criteria: We want all-arounders!!!!!

    For this year, it doesn’t matter who gets put on what teams. The US women will win Pan Ams, the US women will win worlds. We can maximize the team score, but it really doesn’t matter what the score is when you’re wearing the gold medal.

    I think they should select event specialists to win event medals. Let’s maximize medals, not team final points.

    I feel for Donnell Whittenburg. But he’s not ready to be put on the National Team. If his performance at Nationals qualifies for the National Team, then almost every collegiate gymnast deserves to be on the National Team. He is Donnell, he’s great. We get it. But past results don’t count. Rest up and get ready for next year.

    1. the sticky point is that other injured athletes were named to the National team this year (and have been before) so their past results or potential are clearly counting for a lot, and no one out of all the petitioners has a stronger argument for what he can bring and has brought, then Donnell.

      1. Donnell deserves to be on the National Team as much as Eddie Penev does. It come across as Donnell being penalized for performing at Nationals instead of petitioning.

  7. I disagree with the Pan Ams team AA complaint. It’s good for McCallum to get another chance to show she can consistently compete at a high level. Kara Eaker, based on the BBSituation’s scores, is a potential candidate for the World team so we need another look at her. Shilese Jones gives the team a strong vault and the gorgeous Trinity is the definition of an ace B-teamer. Gorgeous, but not quite strong enough for worlds.There’s no way you can leave her off. And if Jade Carey wanted to be a lock for Worlds, she should have done more difficult vaults at Nationals. That would have solidified her spot. Right now she only marginally adds value on floor and vault, but not in a must-take-me kind of way.
    I’m the biggest Chiles fan but she simply wasn’t good enough at Nationals. She showed 1 Amanar and inconsistency everywhere else. That’s not enough of an argument to make either Worlds or Pan Ams. Same with Schecova. Her only case was on bars and she only hit 1 routine. Both Chiles and Shchennikova are great gymnasts who could potentially add a lot to either team but at a certain point, you have to take (and reward) the people who did perform, which is what places 4-8 really did.

  8. I was absolutely dumbfounded on Saturday that Eddie Penev was on the men’s NT and Donnell wasn’t. Both have been world class contributors in the past, both are injured, but Donnell is much further along in his rehab as evidenced by his ability to participate at all at nationals! I take Orozcos point seriously: who are the athletes who have been cast aside like this in recent years (and especially, per the podcast, have been told they don’t work hard enough)? The examples that come to mind are Orozco, Whittenburg, and Kimble- does the MNT have a race problem?

  9. My question about this whole Jade Carey business is why her? She is great, don’t get me wrong but why are they naming her specifically like she just said ‘I wanna go to the Olympics’ and they have said ‘OK’. There are probably about 10 gymnasts in the USA who could go to to event world cups and win the series and get a nominative spot at the Olympics. So why her specifically? Doesn’t seem very transparent or fair to other specialists.

    1. Am I the only one who hates Jade Carey’s floor? She doesn’t dance or put any artistry into her routine at all – it’s like she’s not even trying. Riley’s floor is a lot nicer and fun.

      Difficult tumbling passes are nothing wishing the artistry.

      1. You are NOT the only one. Her floor is awful. I don’t know if the nationals judges just didn’t take artistry deductions or if the code is really that lopsided, but her scores were appallingly high for that travesty. I have never really “gotten” the argument that the code disfavors artistry before now- I always thought a clear majority of the US girls do a great job and most of the complaints about the code are sour grapes, but now I’m questioning everything because Jades routine is just SO BAD and gets rewarded anyway. Can we please put up Morgan, Simone, Riley, and Kara Eaker as our floor rotation at worlds? I dare the rest of the world to call us unartistic then…

      2. She needs a dance coach, STAT! I get being shy and not everyone is a natural performer. It’s not just the lack of real choreography, it’s the lack of energy and spark. Think of Aly back in 2010. Not much expression or dance ability, but she had energy and worked her tail off to improve.

      3. Yeah I’m really biased because of it and don’t want to see her at worlds just so she could take a medal away from a gymnast that actually has some artistry. I know Jade isn’t exactly a “duh, she’s making the podium no matter what” kind of gymnast on floor, with Melnikova and Murakami both capable of getting scores that we typically expect from Jade, but still.

      4. I know she’s going to Oregon, but watching her routines, all I could think was…if only she signed to UCLA and Coach Val could get her claws on her!

        You don’t have to be a great dancer, but a great choreographer, can work with your style, perhaps even coax you out of your shell a bit, and make all the difference.

        I felt Madison Kocian’s floor was blah when she was elite (although she did have flourish unlike Jade), but her floor has become more enjoyable to watch while at UCLA. She most likely won’t be an Ohashi-type performer, but she’s leaps and bounds ahead of where she was.

      5. Jade’s choreography, or lack of, is dreadful. I feel like I’m watching a men’s routine when I watch her floor routine…..stand in corner, run, Chuck some mad crazy skill….saunter over to next corner, wave arms a bit, run, Chuck next mad skill,….more sauntering (but never dancing!), repeat until music in the background is finished , salute and walk off the floor…..get a score 2nd to Simone for said crazy skills/no dance routines.

        I saw her in person at Championships and it wasn’t any better. She’s a talented gymnast but the murmur in the crowd was “she needs a dance coach!”

      6. Glad I’m not the only one.

        Kytra Hunter (Florida) is a good role model for Jade to improve her floor. Kytra had powerful tumbling passes and found proper dance moves that worked for her. Of course Kytra also had energy and a true desire to improve.

        In NCAA Jade will hopefully be knocked down with low scores at Oregon until she improves her floor. I actually see her bars and beam as being very good NCAA routines where she’ll get McMurtry 10s (i.e. 10s on events that in elite she didn’t score well on), but for me she’s a three-even NCAAer until she improves floor.

        Would love to ask Miss Val’s opinion Jade’s current floor… 😉

    2. Because realistically, is Jade going to make a 4 person team as an all-arounder? No way. But based on last year’s worlds, she IS a medal contender on two events. So for her, the only route is as an individual. Just not the world apparatus cup route because that makes no sense for the US.

      1. If Jade can get her floor and vault scores high enough, she should be considered for a 4-person Olympic-team, especially since she’s shown she can do bars and beam if needed. If you have an Olympic team of Simone, Morgan, Riley, and Jade for example, you put Simone and Morgan up on all 4 events, give Riley beam and bars, and give Jade vault and floor. If any one of those get injured, you still have 3 athletes who can do all 4 events.

        Just as Aly could have done bars in TF if needed, Jade can do bars and beam and more than make it up with her floor and vault if she is indeed that good at vault and floor by the Olympics.

        This scenario all depends if Jade is significantly above the pack at both of her strong events and continues showing steadiness and improvement on her weak events.

      2. Exactly. The are going to want 4 really strong all arounders for the Tokyo team. Right now, I’d say Jades the only person with both a really solid shot at qualifying through event world cups (were she sent) and almost no chance of being on the Tokyo team (unless her UB goes up 1+ points in the next two years, which I suppose could happen).

      3. No way will the 2020 US Olympic team consist of: Simone, Morgan, Riley and Jade.

        Simone is the ONLY lock of the group. The other will be competing with athletes currently in junior – Leanne Wong, perhaps – or the injured first-year seniors if they can comeback healthy and strong. Then there’s the Ragan factor, whom just needs to heal and get healthy.

        And I know it’s unlikely at this point but I am still holding out hope Aly decides to go for her third Olympics – Simone and Aly side-by-side on the AA podium just feels right. 🙂 Then they can takeover USAG, clean out the dead weight and make things good.

  10. I’m definitely old school here, but I hate that we have a selection committee at all!!! The team should go by the all around standings. Whoever did best on that day, deserves to go (Worlds, Pan-Ams, Olympics, etc.) Especially the Olympic Trials. Why even have them if they don’t matter? Whoever does best at the trials, deserves to go to the Olympics. They performed the best under pressure, on that day. Who cares what they do in the gym, and selection camps. Totally different atmosphere. Every other sport does it that way, why should gymnastics be different?

    I was so annoyed at the 2016 trials when Bart/Tim? (or whoever was commentating – can’t remember) kept saying that the US was so strong they could field two completely different teams at the Olympics, and still take the gold. So….why not let whoever finished 1st – 5th, actually go to the Olympics? It was the Olympic Trials, wasn’t it?

    Life is tough, sometimes you fall during the most important meet of your life, and don’t qualify. Or you get injured, and miss the competition completely…those are the breaks.

    1. Because going by AA standings doesn’t necessarily maximize scoring or medal potential

      1. “Because going by AA standings doesn’t necessarily maximize scoring or medal potential”

        Because that’s all that’s important 😉

      2. I mean… in team selection… yes? I guess there’s also issues of if an athlete’s injured not selecting her, but that applies to either selection procedure.

        In your response, you’re clearly trying to tie my point to what we all say about USAG valuing success over athlete well-being. I fail to see how making selection based on AA placement would contribute to that. You can make athlete well-being your primary concern and still choose the strongest team.

      3. I totally see/get your point Mary 🙂 Like I mentioned in my original post, I’m just old school and prefer the other way. Whoever is best on that day, gets to go. For me, it makes it that much more interesting 🙂

      4. Oh, I see. I guess I took your initial response as more aggressive than it was intended to be.

    2. That’s how swimming does it. You have to score in the top two (or 8 if you’re a sprint freestyler on a relay) at Olympic Trials to go. If Katie Ledecky got mono the day of Olympic Trials and got 3rd in the 800 free, she wouldn’t make the team for that event even though she’s the world record holder.

      1. well, that might be another reason why you have to use more than just 1 data point from just one day…. i am in favor of using several data points over a period of time with more weight closer toward the actual competition.

      2. But if a Ledecky or a Phelps were in Ledecky/Phelps form and broke their arm the day before trials, you know some petitioning system would fall out of the sky. It’s just when we see these “favorite” athletes struggle at trials, it usually not a fluke, it’s indicative of something else (think Missy Franklin in 2016 – her performance of being “not Missy Franklin awesome” had been going all year, and continued into the olympics).
        Some people are just THAT much better than everyone else.

      3. Yes, but another swimmer would be expected to bow out so Ledecky could compete in an event she’s 99.9 per cent assured a gold medal.

      4. Funnily enough, that exact scenario happened in Australia in 2004 when Ian Thorpe, the defending Olympic champion, did a false start in the 400m freestyle at Nationals/Trials. Craig Stevens, who came second, received a lot of pressure to give up his spot for Thorpe and ended up receiving a big payout from a tv network for the rights to his announcement that he would step aside. While Thorpe went on to win the gold medal, it is still viewed as a very dirty moment in Australian sport.

    3. I wish I could like this 5,000 times. I completely agree except because of the 3 up 3 count, they can’t totally go by AA standings. For example, the top 5 AAers might all be great on V, BB, and FX but terrible on bars. But they can still have a set system. On a 5-member team, the top 3 AAers qualify, and after that, plug the numbers (the actual scores the gymnasts received) into a Top Scoring Team calculator and whichever 2 athletes add the most points- there’s your team. It may not field the strongest team, but it would field the team that performed the strongest in the qualifying meet. Everyone would know ahead of time that they were competing in a completely objective system and don’t need to please anyone but the judges.

  11. “Concerns about the scores rising through the competition and benefiting the later subdivisions tend to be leftovers from the 10.0 years. That’s very 80s-90s. It’s not much of a thing in the D-E era.”

    Wow I really don’t agree. Did we watch the same Rio Olympics?

    1. Scores still do rise throughout qualifying rounds and even on individual days. In Rio we saw Ponor get knocked out of the floor final because she was in the first subdivision. Similarly, we saw Aly get a 14.733 on bars because USA was in the final subdivision.

      Domestically, we see massive score inflation on the final event. Nothing else could explain the 8.8 E on beam Chiles received for her Wolfkino routine.

      This is not something that has gone away.

      1. Maybe we should have USA in the first div to set the standard early on….lol…1st team in 2019 gets the honor of first perfomance 🙂

  12. Why was Miss Val part of the interview? This will probably be a wildly unpopular opinion because I know people love Miss Val on this site, but she has seemed to put herself in the middle of the Nassar situation. It’s odd to me because several of the gymnasts who have come forward also attended UCLA. Did none of them ever tell her prior to 2016 when the story broke in the national media? She seems close to Antolin, Dantzscher, and seemed to have a good relationship with Mattie Larson. Had she been informed, she should have contacted police or at least discussed the issue with UCLA’s compliance folks, who then could have reached out to MSU. Not to mention her husband, in his role at UCLA, has made some coaching hires that certainly make me doubt that UCLA takes the Me Too movement seriously.

    1. Lots of possibilities here. Maybe Dantzscher et al didn’t feel comfortable speaking up about their abuse, even to Miss Val, so she had no idea. Maybe she did know and tried to inform USAG executives but was shut down because she has no real bearing and is not involved with the organization. I doubt UCLA’s “compliance folks” would have seen that as an issue they should have stuck their nose in, given that it didn’t happen at UCLA (not that they shouldn’t have taken it seriously, but I can see them refusing to get involved, whether that was the morally right thing to do or not).

  13. So if the hypothetical 2018 worlds team is biles, hurd, mccusker, carey, and eaker and the US qualifies a team of 4, does it mean now that none of these 5 can compete in any of the 2020 AA cups or the 2020 PanAm team because the rule says you cannot have 1 gymnast earning more than 1 spot? i mean the 2018 worlds team only earns 4 olympics spots so it would be completely unfair to ban 5 gymnasts from being used to get the two other national non-nominative spots…

    So if these 5 are banned, then i guess you have to have a lot of depth to have at least 1 different gymnast to try out for the 2020 AA cup as well as at least 1 more different AA gymnast to get a spot in 2020 PanAm?

    If this is true, then this rule would absolutely so favor programs like US…. we keep hearing about all the talks of changing the rules because US is so dominant…..well, this would just favor the US a lot more ……lol…

    1. The world team members who earn the spot are precluded from earning the individual spot at Pan Ams but not at World Cups.

    2. Sorry, just to clarify – not at the AA World Cups for the non-nominative spots. Because of course, they are precluded from the nominative spots at the event World Cups. The inconsistency of these rules are crazy.

      1. The Worlds team members should be able to earn the NOMINATIVE spots- if their whole thing is having to display depth, the nominative spots at least require the team to make the strategic choice for that gymnast not to be on the team!

        These “no members that earned the team spot” rules would be far more logical if the Worlds teams and the Olympic teams were the same size.

    3. So that means any of those 5 on worlds team can still be send to any of the 2020 AA cups to earn another non-nominative spot? Like if they want to, they can send simone to all 4 of 2020 AA cup competitions?

      But all 5 are banned from earning any individual non-nominative spot at 2020 PanAm? meaning any of the 5 or all 5 could be there to win the 2020 Pan Am team but any one of these 5 just can’t be counted for the purpose of AA ranking to get that additional spot and they would need to have someone else outside of these 5 ranking in the top 2 AA to earn that extra spot?

      1. you think? lol… all these things about how US so dominant we have to change the rules around… These new rules actually kind of helping them out even more now i think…

  14. When I read that people hate Locklear because she is/or was at one time a Trump supporter, I nearly died. Really! We are now hating on 20 somethings for being conservatives?

    1. I’ll hate anyone for voting for a white supremacist. Doesn’t matter how old they are!

      I’m not sure why anyone seems bent out of shape about this. To me, Ashton came across as an uneducated person excited that a celebrity won an election, but even if she was a Trump voter… why shouldn’t I hate someone who supports a politician that says Mexican immigrants are rapists and other countries are shitholes? If you can’t hate someone for that, what on earth does it take?

  15. I’m a relatively new gymfan so forgive me if I’m not understanding things correctly. I get why it makes sense for the U.S .to “not send individuals to the world cup events” so they can keep the spots as non-nomative and decide on their own who gets to go.

    However what is to stop someone like say Jordan Chiles for example from reading the tea leaves as the Olympics get closer and seeing that there isn’t a place for her on a team of all arounders and going on her own to the event world cup events to try and earn a spot. Can you only go to the event cup events if you are officially sponsored by your country?

    1. For these FIG events you have to be officially sent by yr federation… cant just willy nilly pay for yr own ticket and show up…. so no chiles cant do that…

      1. Thank you. That answers my unasked question about MyKayla Skinner deciding to try for World Cup qualification on her own after her junior season at Utah. I guess she would need USAG verification to try to earn herself a spot.

        I thought the two individual spots were just that and the athletes who earn them would NOT be allowed to compete in the team final or any team events.

  16. The issue i think that confuse a lot of people is that being conservative or supportive of conservative issues is actually to me a separate issue from liking trump… There are obvious divisive issues like abortion, gun right, etc, that each one of us can have our right of taking side on. I don’t have as much issue if ashton feels the needs to expand gun rights, or pro life or even limiting further the number of immigrant as long as you are not discriminating and have a good reason because that’s her right to take a side of the debate…

    But the issue i think a lot of people including me having is that when someone who is a cheater and lie about it (let’s me real about trump and his affairs) and call anything they don’t like as “fake news” when something is true. Also on things such as climate change, that has broad scientific data proving it…. the issue is that you are like denying the science data. I have a lot less problem if trump just say yeah but business cost for implementing any change is just too high so we are going to cut back the regulation. i would accept explanation any day (even if i still think something or some regulation can still be in place). But when you basically completely goes against the scientific data and then just say “fake news” again just because you don’t like the data, that is what I and a lot of people have problem with…

    when something is true but just when you don’t like it, you just then call everything as “fake news” and then deny it, that is actually the issue…..

    Anyway, i digress…. I still like ashton….. if she supports conservative sides of issues and have a good reason for it, i am ok with it. but if she likes trump as a role model, then i would take issue with that….

    1. Democrats and Republicans need to band together and get Trump out of the Oval office ASAP. I don’t agree with Pence and his stance on most issues, but at least he’s a politician and not a buffoon created by “reality” TV.

      In honour of the late John McCain do him proud and put partisanship aside for the good of the USA on this issue.

  17. i don’t get why people think jade has no chance of making the olympics. usa wag has shown time and time again they focus 100% on TF. if jade is in the best scoring group of 4-3-3, she is on the team. her bars not being TF does not matter, specially now that the coordinator probably isn’t averse to using alternates if needed like martha was.

    and even if they didn’t think that way, they can just give her a non-nominative individual spot so she can try for her EF medals. there is zero reason whatsoever for jade to bother with challenge cups. if she keeps herself at the top of the VT and FX game, she makes the olympics. the end.

    1. It does seem like we gym fans fave better grasp of the rules doesn’t it? lol… which is why anyone with some connection to the higher ups at USAG needs to have a chat with them and see what is their real understanding or reasoning…

    2. I think the issue is Jade is not on the top of her game with the vaults she showed at US nationals in 2018, and her floor routine should not be scoring high – with any luck international judges will deduct for the lack of artistry.

      1. i do agree with that, she doesn’t seem like a guaranteed medal like last year… but that’s now. 2018. the olympics are 2 years away. for all we show she might have a TTY and a tsuk 2.5 by the olympics. she might have retired from elite. we don’t know, but either way, challenge cups should be irrelevant for usa wag.

  18. These new rules for 2020 are very confusing for me; reading these comments trying to explain them, actually has my head spinning.
    This may be a dumb question, but as previously stated, im totally confused. So….let’s say someone from the US qualifies to the Olympics as an individual thru the world cup and ultimately qualifies to the AA final?. What does that do to the 2 per country rule? She is there as an individual, not as part of the team.

    1. you mean if some US gymnast qualified to olympic with a nominative event cup position (assuming US would allow whoever it is?)..

      Nothing different. 2 per country still apply. the two with the highest AA score from US in qual will be in the AA final…. no matter if they are part of the 4 in the team or if they are the two not part of the 4 member team.

      1. and yes, this means the usa might have SIX all arounders trying for the two spots at the AA final. that’s going to be fun.

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