Things Are Happening – September 19, 2018

A. US men’s selection camp

The two-day selection camp for the US men’s world championship squad begins tomorrow. And guess what. It will be streamed! Like a real competition! Well done, you.

It’s almost like getting more eyes on what you’re doing is a…dare I say it…good thing? And that it…helps promote the sport and the athletes competing? WHAT. The women’s program is like, “I don’t understand…”

Competition schedule
Thursday, September 20 – 11:00am local time (Mountain)
Saturday, September 22 – 3:30pm local time (Mountain)

The competition is limited to just the 8 members of the training squad—Mikulak, Moldauer, Modi, Kimble, Yoder, Bower, Van Wicklen, Howard—who will be divided into the 5 team members and 3 alternates following Saturday’s competition.

The big news is the withdrawal of Donothan Bailey due to injury—because he was just casually having a great year, with his best chance ever to make a worlds team. Ah ha ha. Dead.

Bailey’s replacement is Trevor Howard, who I suppose is here because of the potential 14.5 score he brings on rings. OK? That’s interesting to me because I wasn’t too, too worried about rings. If you have Mikulak, Kimble, and Moldauer, that’s not a terrible rings score by any means, so perhaps Howard’s selection is revealing of more rings anxiety (or more Kimble anxiety) than I thought there would be.

The Bailey withdrawal is the best news for Modi and Bower since it means they have less competition for those remaining couple spots. Based on the scores from nationals, the teams produced by swapping in and out Bailey, Modi, and Bower (and Van Wicklen for that matter) were so similar that only the smallest margin was going to separate who made the team and who didn’t.

Above all, Marvin Kimble is the major story to watch at this selection camp because he missed nationals. That means we don’t really know what we’re going to get from him—in addition to it being Marvin Kimble to begin with, so of course we don’t know what we’re going to get from him. His high bar routines will be the most important of the entire selection competition because that’s such a weak event for the US right now and because he can potentially bring nearly a full point over what a non-Kimble team would score there. Stay tuned.

B. is for Britain and also Becky

Lots to report on the British side of things today. At the team championships, the big development was the performance of this unknown upstart named Becky Downie, who won bars with a 6.6 D score, the highest in the world.

She’s so confident with all those impossible releases that the most significant challenge for her in this yeti of a routine will be getting the endurance back to avoid having to cast at horizontal as she gets toward the end. Put together, this set could challenge Derwael and would make Downie a medal favorite at worlds once again.

Not to be overshadowed, Ellie Downie also made her return at this competition (Becky’s like, “NO MY SHOW”). Ellie missed on bars for a 13.3, which nonetheless put her in second, but also scored 13.3 for a hit on beam with a not-pushing-it 5.0 D, good enough for third. Let your British-team anxiety be quelled. A little.

Amelie Morgan also continued her assault on our prognostications for next year (when she becomes senior) by placing in the top 3 on every single event, including winning beam. We also saw Alice Kinsella take second on beam and vault, Taeja James win floor comfortably with a 13.550, and Kelly Simm win vault with 14.050 (tied with Kinsella overall but higher on execution).

British worlds selection for the women will get interesting, and much will depend on how far along Ellie is on vault and floor heading toward the end of October. That will determine how badly you need a James on floor or a Stanhope on vault to shore up one of those events. Stanhope can be easy to overlook, but if you have Becky and Fenton both on a worlds team, you need everyone else to have a big vault score. Stanhope will stay in the mix because of that.

Speaking of worlds, the British men’s team has been announced as Whitlock, Wilson, Hall, Cunningham, and Fraser. Brinn Bevan is the alternate.

Because of the return of Nile Wilson, someone was going to get sliced off the team that took silver at Euros, and the victim turned out to be Courtney Tulloch. Tulloch is a big potential score on rings that the team will miss, but he also has fewer essential events to contribute than the other contenders (besides Whitlock). The team needs Fraser, Hall, and Whitlock for horse, Cunningham made a great argument for himself with his performances on vault and floor at Euros, so to fit in Wilson—who will be vital on high bar and floor and provides something very useful everywhere but horse—I can see why Tulloch is the one who had to go.

C. This weekend

The Szombathely World Cup begins with qualification on Friday, continuing with finals on Saturday and Sunday. Both days of finals begin at 3:00pm local time (9am ET, 6am PT) and will be shown on the Olympic Channel.

The men’s field features Verniaiev, Dragulescu, Shatilov, Calvo, Georgiou, Muntean, and most of the usual world cup suspects. Look out for Onyshko, Denommee, Kovacs, Karmakar, Devai, and Cintia Rodriguez on the women’s side, as well as Jonna Adlerteg who is on the list for both bars and beam. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen her on anything but bars.

We also have the Swiss Championships on Saturday, Ilaria Käslin entering as the favorite on the women’s side in the absence of Steingruber, and the men’s competition featuring the returns of Eddy Yusof, Pablo Brägger, and Christian Baumann for what should be quite an impressive group.

D. Last weekend

In addition to the Pan American championships and British team championships, last weekend brought us the first trial for the German worlds team, where Kim Bui won the all-around, bars, and floor. Sarah Voss won vault, and Pauline Schäfer won beam.

Elisabeth Seitz made her return at this competition in the all-around, not performing her full difficulty on bars in terms of connections, but looking like she’s reasonably close to getting back there given another month plus.

Carina Kröll also did herself a solid with silver-medal performances in the all-around and on beam and floor. If Germany is looking for some different options at worlds (especially on beam) after trouble at Euros, she could be positioning herself as someone to watch.

Elsewhere, Caitlin Rooskrantz proved she’s not just a bars specialist by taking the national all-around title in South Africa, and Dorina Böczögö won the national title in Hungary, a meet that also featured the return of Zsofia Kovacs.

E. Booooo

Celine the Cat will not be on the Dutch worlds team this year because she’s having Achilles surgery. If Eythora is available, the Netherlands should be able to slot her into the team and not lose anything from its Euros scores, but this does spoil our hopes of a potential Dutch dream team at worlds this year.

Because of that horrible situation with her coach and the aftermath, Sae Miyakawa will not be attending worlds for Japan.

F. GymCastic with MLT

Whew boy, here we go. You can now listen to Jessica’s conversation with Mary Lee Tracy and Miss Val. Warning: you may have to throw your device of choice against a wall several times during the course of the interview. I found MLT’s performance (and I use that word quite intentionally) to be both fascinating and extraordinarily frustrating. I can’t wait to debrief about it.

Amanda Jetter comes up several times in the interview, and she and her dad also spoke with Fox19, which is worth reading for your contextual and fact-checking needs (also your WHAT needs).

And then MLT started tweeting about it defensively, like no lessons have been learned from the Facebook incidents of 2018, and then deleted all of it. SIGH. One step forward, two steps back. One step forward, two steps back.

37 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – September 19, 2018”

  1. “The Szombathely World Cup …”
    I thought I had suddenly developed dyslexia trying to read that.

  2. You guys need to stop seriously. Just like there is no perfect victim way to respond, yall are doing the same things done to victims, to the people who you want to blame and be the downfall for it all. Eye for an eye! It’s gross! STFU!

    1. Tbh something about this whole thing is grossing me out as well. Despite the failures and blindness and mistakes in the USAG, there is something that grosses me out in this judgy-self-righteous internet lately. Gymnastics social media is starting to resemble the eager crowd salivating to the sounds of Shame! Shame! as Cersei walks naked through the city.
      I hope survivors continue to speak out. I hope all elite athletes speak out and voice their anger, judgment, pain, problems, and concerns. I hope they receive public support and I hope that changes are made based on the experiences they express.
      But I take no pleasure in watching Mary Lee Tracy, a human being, struggle to deal with this changing tide. This tide of judgment from people who, if they were conscientious gymnastics fans at all, knew exactly what the atmosphere and conditions at the Ranch and in gymnasiums in general, were for the past 30 years. Martha’s methods and attitudes were no secret. The fact that gymnasts were isolated from their parents was no secret. The fact that gymnasts hid and hoarded food was no secret.
      As the BBS links to, MLT’s methods were humorously chronicled by Spanny years ago. Where was the outrage and the barrage of tweets from Gymcastic, etc. back then? There wasn’t any because EVERYBODY let it go, and go on, and that includes the gymfans now wanting MLT to flagellate herself before them. Think about that. If you were really outraged enough, why not go on a social media shaming-spree 4 years ago? But you didn’t. And MLT didn’t. Nobody did anything until Nassar and until the gymnasts themselves started speaking out. Nobody includes all the gymnastic fans who are now wanting to tear MLT for not doing what they didn’t do themselves pre-Nassar.

      1. People did, you just didn’t notice. None of that chat really died down since the 1990s – it’s just that more people (you) are paying attention now. That’s progress, not shaming, and since MLT still owns a gym and has learned nothing, since Tom Forster is still coordinator, and since half the gymternet is still defending Valeri Liukin, it’s not even that MUCH progress.

  3. Agreed that the interview was infuriating. I appreciate how Jessica asked good questions, but she left her off the hook too easy on a lot of them. 95% of the time MLT used justification of “well I didn’t know.” Her apologies seemed half-hearted.

    I think we all just wanted hear MLT say, “I get it. I was wrong. I’m sorry- end of story.” Instead it was, “I’m sorry if anyone was offended, but [reason 1, reason 2, reason 3].”

    1. YES, phrasing apologies as “I’m sorry IF I ever made you ever feel xyz” is utter hogwash and a complete shirking responsibility. Multiple former gymnasts have come forwad and said how MLT made them feel. There is no if, she DID do these things and she DID make these gymnasts feel that way. I’m not anti MLT but I’m also not going to pretend that this performance was adequate. Seems like she needs some media training herself, especially with the social media snafus!

  4. also was very grossed out by Jessica praising MLT for putting her kids through media training…that has nothing to do with anything. i feel like jessica always sucks up to whomever she’s interviewing.

    1. I think media training can be a very important and healthy thing, making sure the athletes are comfortable doing interviews so that it’s not an added stress at big meets and making sure they know how to protect themselves. (Ie. That they’re permitted to decline q’s that make them uncomfortable and how to do so, ect.) I do agree that bringing it up as “oh look what a progressive coach you are now” is not appropriate, especially when MLT seems so unable to understand her fault in all of this.

    2. Jessica is a terrible excuse for a journalist and it’s a damn shame that someone like her runs the biggest (only?) gymnastics podcast.

      1. You do realize that you don’t have to listen to gymcastic…. it’s not mandatory for participating in the gymternet…

      2. I think Jessica is trying to be something different than a journalist here. Rather than slamming MLT, making her wrong, and creating distance, she is acknowledging MLT’s willingness to listen and engaging in dialogue to try to educate her and help her see how she can be a better, less harmful coach. You can hear in Jessicas own words her intention for the interview on the episode prior to it.

        I admire Jessica for taking this stance to try to help the old guard of coaches understand what they clearly have no clue about.

  5. Fascinating podcast. MLT did very little to change my overall opnion on her (which is that she just does not get it) but I was surprised at some of the positive changes she talked about… but then was put off by how these items were presented as “see look how progressive and different I am” while never actually understanding her roll is the usag mess. I will also add the some of the stars I had in my eyes for Miss Val were cleared in the course of listening to this interview. I was sad about this but now it’s made news of her retirement a less upsetting revelation for me, so there’s that.

    1. She definitely seemed to be patting herself on the back a lot. I’m glad that she has changed and seen that previous methods were not good, but she her excuse was always “I didn;t know”. Yes, she took over her gym very young and was inexperienced. She acts like the 90’s were the dark ages when in fact there was plenty of info out there about nutrition, sports psychology and things like background checking employees who work with children. You could hear Miss Val’s “WTF?” at her not knowing what an exit interview is. She seems to have been content to just live in her little bubble with her head in the sand.

      I find it sad that she still doesn’t realize how tone deaf she comes across, and that in spite of what progress she has made and changes that have been made at her gym, she still doesn’t see how toxic the culture at USAG and the ranch was, when HER OWN ATHLETES have been saying so! She really seems to think that he who shall not be named was the only problem, not USAG as a whole.

      Read the interview with Alyssa Beckerman, it is so well done and makes so much sense!

      1. Yes, I feel the same way and that Alyssa Beckerman piece is not getting it’s due chatter. She states her points so brilliantly, it is honestly the best take I’ve seen on USAG as a whole. Everyone needs to read it!!!!

  6. The greatest coach in the history of NCAA gymnasts just delivered a death blow this morning as I was drinking my coffee – NO Miss Val you cannot go. You are the best ever.

    It’s official UCLA needs to win the 2019 NCAA championship.

    My heart is breaking. 🙁

  7. MLT: “When i hear different survivors talk about how the culture allowed this predator to do what he did… I understand that. That just wasn’t my experience with my athletes.”

    What the actual ****. You have multiple athletes FROM. YOUR. GYM. that said otherwise.

    This is the problem here. MLT thinks that her experiences are her truth, and athlete’s experiences are their truths. No. If I punch the cashier at the grocery store and my experience was “he/she was rude to me,” that doesn’t mean that there are multiple truths here.

    She. Doesn’t. Get. It. Sad to say Jessica didn’t press her on those.

    1. I think it’s important to remember that abusers are master manipulators. They abuse their victims and they also make the other adults around comfortable. They cover up, lie, and befriend people to protect themselves. As an attorney who has worked DV and child abuse cases, I’ve seen it a lot. From an outside perspective, it’s hard not to think “how could they not know.” But once you dig into the psychology behind abuse, you realize parents, siblings, friends, coaches, etc. are sometimes manipulated themselves and, in a way, are a different type of victim of the abuser.

      All this to say, who really knows what MLT knew and when? Nassar was manipulating her and others the entire time, as well.

  8. MLT: “I defended him up until the pornography, then i was done.”

    Got it, so you weren’t done when you heard he had abused athletes? Bullshit.

  9. What was Jessica supposed to do? Pin MLT to a wall and force her to say she’s been a bad girl? I’d like you all to remember that this was an interview for a podcast, not a court hearing.

    Most of the right questions were asked. Said questions were often not answered in a satisfactory way, but honestly it’s not the interviewer’s job to press and push and force “truths” out of the interviewee’s mouth.

    1. In my opinion, Jessica responds to her interviewees in a way that not only does not encourage or insist that they provide actual answers to her questions, but ALSO validates their failure to do so. She simpers and agrees and sucks up. That’s inappropriate in my eyes. Sure, she can’t force the interviewee to say something specific, but she CAN make it clear when they are dodging or spinning a question. She doesn’t have to buy into their bullshit… and yet… she does! It’s like hearing a ten-year-old interview their favorite movie star every single time and it makes the show almost unlistenable.

      1. You can not force answers out of an interview subject. My strategy is not to have a lot of prepared questions – just a list of topics I would like to touch on, though if things go well not all the topics are asked – and then to listen to the answers and ask follow-up questions to what was said.

        Politicians are the WORST because all the do is recite prepared talking points and most of them won’t sway from the script no matter how much a reporter tries. Probably why the media enjoys reporting on the egomaniac in D.C. right now – he usually says whatever is on his mind and seems unprepared most of the time.

        I’m definitely a very different interviewer than Jessica in that I would probably sound boring because I don’t get excited like she does. Not saying there’s anything wrong with either approach we’re just two different personalities. I’m more the moderator of ‘The View’ who changes topics while my co-workers debate.

        The right question at the right time though can get a person to open up in ways that give you an interesting story. The question can be the simplest one as well.

      2. Riiigggghhhtt. Because that will create an air of comfort for the person to want to open up and relax. You just want a bloodbath, so you will be an ass and try to fight with a guest and make them answer. Cant make anyone do anything…

  10. Honestly, I’m tired of blaming people in the old USAG. Yes, lots of people ignored stuff they shouldn’t have. Lots of people are tone deaf. Do we need to spend more time rehashing it? Blame is cathartic, but it does not move anything forward. We need to build a new USAG, not beat the old USAG. It’s already dead!!!

    Let’s spend time brainstorming how to build the new USAG. How does a system prevent an individual from abusing gymnasts/fat shaming/treating people with disrespect/stealing money/bullying people/doing other “bad” things?

    Here are some ideas of mine. Feel free to add to the list:

    1. Install cameras in gyms and training camps. Coaches are under constant surveillance regarding their interactions with their gymnasts. Sae Miyakawa-like abuse will be brought quickly to light and dealt with.

    2. No trainer, therapist, coach, nutritionist, coordinator, etc. (no one employed by the USAG) interacts one-on-one with a gymnast in an enclosed private space.

    3. An outside auditor does random interviews with gymnasts regarding their experience with coaches, trainers, doctors, USAG personnel. This auditor is paid for by a non-USAG affiliated entity. This auditor makes the interviews and facts public. USAG is given the chance to respond publicly.

    4. A yearly audit of USAG finances, including employee salaries, USAG donors names and amounts, and organizational expenses, are made public.

    1. While there are still current staff at USAG who refuse to recognize and admit to their part in the perpetation of abuse culture within american gymnastics there cannot be any “moving forward”. Trust me, NO ONE is happy with the grinding futility of the last year, everyone wants to move forward and ensure current gymnasts have opportunities. The problem is that before any forward progress can be made the very first step is:

      1. All usag staff must have their “come to Jesus” where they said, “I was wrong, I will do better, I know better”. If they’re not able to do that then they need to leave.

      All the points you mentioned are great and should be implemented but as of right now you’re furnishing a house that still has rotten floor boards.

      I am so eagar to move on and have gymnastics news be about gymnasts and not about boards and CEOs but I recognize that until we fix the floor any gymnast that walks into USAG is at risk of falling through.

    2. @Grace — so you are advocating for no privacy for the gymnasts at all? Cameras in the gyms and camps? If a security camera is in WOGA, for example, it would likely film elites along with 5 year olds doing rec classes. Some parents won’t be comfortable with such filming. Not to mention, most security systems automatically delete footage after a certain period of time, sometimes as short as 24 hours. There are also state regulations that will need to be followed in regards to filming.

      Also, if USAG doesn’t pay the auditor who does? USOC? Gymcastic? You? And does the auditor have the right to interview anyone at any time? What happens when allegations of discrimination and targeting pop up (i.e. the current drug testing environment). What if a gymnast doesn’t want their personal info publically released?

      I want to see the system change, but I want athletes to maintain some level of privacy and control, especially while they are kids/teens.

  11. You all want to hold these people to the fire so much! It’s starting to get utterly ridiculous! It’s funny, when a rape/sexual abuse victim comes forward, all these people will say why didnt you do this? why didnt you that? why didnt you tell then ?, why this? why that? Which is horrid. And now you all are doing the same exact thing, eye for an eye, why didnt they answer this way? why didnt the respond the proper abuse kit manual? , why aren’t they an expert at this now? , why did they respond that way at the beginning? why are they still responding this way? They are horrible people!!! .. It’s the same exact mirror image of people who victim shame/blame and ask those horrid questions. A never ending cycle that clearly hasn’t ended. There will be no winners. No answers that all will – feel so quaint with. I honestly think on both sides, people who victim shame, and people who blame the people around the victims to be some ideal victim and some ideal expert after the fact, YOU WANT BLOOD! You literally want a blood bath… Eye for an eye! Nothing will suffice. My fucking god, Mothers who’s daughters/sons are molested in their own damn house can sometimes not even have a clue! And even more likely the Mother will outright deny, or be in denial if a child tells them… So this situation is utterly complicated and nuanced when it has to do with sports. Give MLT a fucking break. I have yet to hear any interviews with other coaches etcs. So for that she deserves something. But no… she wasnt a perfect victim expert!!!!! It’s like the Harvey Weinstein case. All the actresses, actors, etc were blamed THEY KNEW. THEY DID NOTHING. THEY DIDNT RESPOND WELL. Even Meryl Streep, oh she knew, she didn’t do or say anything,over and over over again, she’s this she is that when Meryl stated she didnt know, her working relationship with Weinstein was professional and normal, even called him a GOD during an award acceptance! Do yall hate her as much as yo hate MLT for saying that her experience with Nassar was great? Because she didn’t know? Because she didn’t respond as swift and correct? Because it took that long to break through? Mothers dont even believe their own children at times… A coach where none of her athletes had yet to come forward, the scandal hadn’t reached the maximum saturation as it has now, like chill tf out… You all keep demanding heads on platter, justice mobs… and it’s just a blood bath. Your feelings guide you, and nothing else. No critical thinking. Torches and pitchforks… I doubt anyone else is gonna try to step forward. And that hurts growth period! Cut people some slack. Just a little for the sake of growth and compassion. But nope… everyone must burn to the ground! Everyone!

  12. Not sure why so many people are adamant that MLT “apologizes” and says the right thing. I really don’t care if she does or not. Like honestly, I could not give less of a crap. The interview didn’t make me that angry – she didn’t say anything I didn’t basically already know, and also, her words are meaningless to me. If she’s been a bad coach, she should face the consequences, whether they be legal or simply that she loses customers at her gym. If she’s no longer a bad coach, her actions will tell us so. Critically, however, she’s no longer part of USAG leadership, so whether or not she “apologizes” has no bearing on the change of culture going forward. Her perspective as someone who was involved at the elite levels of US gymnastics during the Martha era is valuable, but beyond that, she is irrelevant.

    I get the sense that people may be directing their frustration with USAG as a whole towards MLT, maybe because she has engaged with the community at large and exposed herself to criticism where USAG leadership has gone radio silent. USAG leadership deserves all our rage, as they bear primary responsibility for what happened and the chaos of the last year. But MLT… she seems like a bit player in the grand scheme of things. Ration your outrage accordingly.

    1. No idea what she has to apologize for. Did she make mistakes training her athletes in the past? It seems like the evidence says yes she did. But the majority of those stories are 15-20 years old and she appears to have learned and changed her techniques. (I feel the same way about the people who think Al Fong at GAGE needs to be held accountable for life for mistakes made in 1990 or so, he seems to have learned from mistakes and his athletes have nothing but positive experiences these days.)

      Did she participate in the abuse of ‘he who shall not be named’? No. She made the mistake of defending him publically at one point, but has since taken back her statements. That is more than enough.

  13. You realized you just answered your own question?

    “No idea what she has to apologize for.”
    “She made the mistake of defending him publically at one point”

    1. I was once in an abusive relationship myself. We had a mutual friend who defended my ex within our friend group. Then the worst night of my life happened. And that friend saw the bruises. He saw the cuts. He saw the tears and ripped clothes. He looked me directly in the eyes and said, “I’m sorry. I never thought he was capable of this.” My response was that I once thought the same thing. I understood where he was coming from and he then understood the reality.

      The truth is that many people won’t believe someone they know is capable of abuse until they see it or its effects first-hand. Should they keep their mouth shut? Probably. But if you think there are false allegations being levied against a friend, you would likely stand up for them.

  14. I think a lot of the outrage at MLT is the rage people feel about Marta getting off free apparently, and USAG doing nothing .also Geddert should be in way more trouble than she is.I agree with some posters above that she is irrelevant and it does not matter if she apologizes or not.USAG is another issue.they should never have hired her.

  15. Becky is a BEAST!!! Love that she added the Tweddle -> Ezhova. Such stamina to make it through that routine. Just that final cast handstand, and she is golden.

    THAT is how you come back from injury. So impressed.

    And, I love that world bars gold looks like a battle between a Brit and a Belgian. Unless Russia brings Iliankova, I don’t think Nina and Becky can be challenged if they hit.

  16. Surprised to see “with Becky and Fenton everyone else needs a good vault score” – GMF actually won vault last weekend
    Georgia posted 14.4 and Lucy Stanhope posted 14.

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