A. This week
Your two assignments for the week are the Paris Challenge Cup and the German Championships.
The format for the Paris Challenge Cup is a little different, with just two days of competition—qualification on Saturday (beginning 2:00pm local) and the finals on Sunday (beginning 1:30pm local).
We’re expecting a high-quality field for this one. France (of course), Spain, Hungary, and Ukraine are sending most of their top athletes. Japan and Romania are also sending big MAG contingents, Chuso and the usuals will be there, and we’re expecting both Downies to compete for Great Britain. Caveat: The roster hasn’t been updated in exactly forever and lists Becky Downie as doing vault, so……take it with a grain of……ignore it. SO EXCITED FOR BECKY DOWNIE’S TWO VAULTS THAT EXIST.
Elsewhere, there’s still much to decide in the realm of the German worlds teams, so this weekend’s national championship will be telling. On the women’s side, Sophie Scheder is on the roster to return after missing both Euros and the most recent trial in Stuttgart, and Elisabeth Seitz is looking to continue her return from injury after showing solid progress at the trial. Ideally, your German team is probably Seitz, Schäfer, Scheder, Bui, and Voss (which has been true since Tabea Alt got injured) but we need to see where Scheder and Seitz are and if they’re up to worlds level right now.
That team would be pretty weak on beam besides Schäfer, so there’s still an opportunity for a Timm or Kröll or Grießer to get in if Seitz or Scheder aren’t up to worlds level yet. All-around competition is on Saturday (1:30pm for the women, 6:00pm for the men), with event finals on Sunday beginning at 12:00pm. All times local.
B. Last weekend
The event world cups got back underway in Szombathely last weekend, and the host nation will be quite pleased with its performance on the women’s side with Dorina Böczögö taking the floor title and the returned Zsofia Kovacs taking the beam title. Kovacs missed Euros with injury, but if this meet is any indication, she’s on track for worlds. The Hungarian women outperformed expectations at Euros to make the team final even without their best gymnast, so they’ll be quite optimistic for worlds chances with her. I’d say a top-12 finish is a tough ask but not completely out of the realm of possibilities as a team goal. Top 15 is definitely doable.
On other events, European silver medalist Jonna Adlerteg of Sweden dominated the field for the bars title, and Ofir Netzer of Israel scored an upset to win vault after Nancy Taman of Egypt fell on her DTY.
Szombathely also proved a successful venture for Spain, grabbing two silvers for Cintia Rodriguez and a bronze for Paula Raya, and the second-tier Japanese men that are still better than any other nation could ever hope to be gobbled up most of the medals on the men’s side.
Canada had an interesting one. Laurie Denommee made all four finals and took silver on vault (though will be disappointed by a fall in the final on floor), but Isabela Onyshko really struggled with mistakes on all three of her events in qualification to miss the finals entirely. That performance could have worlds team implications, especially if Canada is left deciding between Padurariu and Onyshko. BUT, you can come up with a very reasonable team that includes both of them. Much will depend on who can vault. I still have many questions about Canada’s WAG team and am looking into cloning Ellie Black. Be back soon.
At Australian Classic, which actually took place the previous weekend, Georgia-Rose Brown won the all-around title ahead of Mizzen and Whitehead. Emma Nedov returned to place 4th. Georgia Godwin and Talia Folino did not compete. Fact of the day: the last time Australia sent a full team to a worlds/Olympic competition that did not include at least one person named Georgia was 2007.
Back to recency, Ilaria Käslin took the Swiss national title in a walk as expected, while Pablo Brägger returned to take the men’s title by just a smidge over Benjamin Gischard.
C. Worlds teams
Speaking of those Swiss people I’ve just named, they’re all on the worlds team. The Swiss women’s team will be Käslin, Meier, Siegenthaler, Wildi, and Barloggio. The only change from the Euros team is veteran Caterina Barloggio coming in instead of Thea Brogli. We haven’t seen Barloggio in ages, but on a good day she’ll get a 12 on most pieces. The men’s team will be able to bring back Brägger, Yusof, and Baumann, which should seriously boost the scoring potential from a depleted Euros team that nonetheless finished a valiant 5th in the team final.
France, too, has announced its teams for worlds, with an injury to Coline Devillard forcing the French to drop a last-minute twist on us. In her absence, Euros alternate Louise Vanhille will join the team of MDJDS, Boyer, Charpy, and Bossu in Doha. Without Devillard, the team loses a ton of scoring potential on vault, perhaps a full point since they’ll have to replace her with a Yurchenko full, likely from Vanhille. Vanhille can fill in with a useful score on any of the other pieces, though with the other four team members, France already has those events well covered.
For the French men, Augis is out from the bronze medalist Euros team and will be replaced by Zachari Hrimeche, who made the vault final at worlds last year. Samir Ait Said is an alternate.
Speaking of alternates, Bram Verhofstad is only an alternate for the Dutch men, so the competition is canceled. After missing the team final at Euros, it appears the Dutch wanted more coverage on events and were only winning to take one event specialist in Epke. Bart Deurloo and Casimir Schmidt are still on the team, so we might live. Might.
The deadline for nominative registrations is tomorrow at 11:59pm Swiss time. The FIG tends to be pretty pokey about getting the nominative rosters to us once the deadline elapses, but we should know fairly soon which gymnasts all the countries are planning to pretend to take to worlds.
D. What’s up with Komova?
I barely even…
Word on the street is that Komova is out of the running for the Russian worlds team and has stopped training.
Does that mean we need to start applying the R-word? I’m not. Partially because of cryptic Instagram references to training videos. Mostly because of Russia. We’ve lived through enough years of Tatiana Nabieva going, “I’m retired! *Shaposh 1/2*” and Valentina going, “This one is a fat, lazy hag who will never do gymnastics again *Perfect layout Jaeger in the background*” to ever trust the Russian women’s team with the R-word.
In Russian gymnastics, retirement is like podium training or having a working spine. It doesn’t actually matter.
Komova could still have been an asset to the Russian worlds team this year, but with the five people who made the Euros team, plus Mustafina (and still the option of Ilyankova), there are many, many comparably scoring teams Russia can come up with.
E. NCAA roster updates
Peyton Ernst has announced her retirement. Ernst competed one year at Florida, elected to transfer to Alabama rather than medically retire, sat out a year because the SEC rules are petty AF, and then returned last season to compete most weeks on beam, going 10-for-12.
It has been a constant injury battle for Ernst, who finished 4th AA at nationals in 2013 and has basically never been healthy since. Injuries meant she was only ever able to compete beam as a college athlete (and only a hands-free beam most of her first year at Florida), but it sounds like her retirement really came down to just being done with gymnastics.
We also finally have a roster for UCLA, which confirms that Rechelle Dennis is not taking a fifth year after all and that last year’s walk-on freshmen Sofia Gonzalez, Rebecca Karlous, and Lilia Waller are no longer on the team. The Bruins only have one walk-on freshman this year and four freshmen overall, which is their smallest freshman class since 2013. Usually, there are a LOT of walk-ons who never see the light of day.
Oregon State has also released a Jade Carey-free roster. Carey is currently still in Arizona training. If she’s planning on starting school in January (like Mackenzie Caquatto did when she went to worlds in 2010), she wouldn’t appear on the roster until then.
F. NCAA training updates
Official training has started for the 2019 season, which means videos, videos, and more videos.
Oklahoma has a couple Y1.5s it’s showing off, from Nicole Lehrmann and Anastasia Webb.
Webb struggled with controlling the landing on her Omelianchik at times last season and did not make Oklahoma’s final vault lineup. The quest to bring a six-10.0 start vault lineup to nationals is alive again this year. No one has done it yet. Several teams have a shot.
Oklahoma is also getting ready to put Olivia Trautman in that floor lineup, the event where she’ll be needed the most.
Meanwhile, Trinity Thomas…
You can also watch Deanna’s now-annual videos inside UCLA’s preseason bond-a-thon.
Georgia is winning preseason right now by showing us training event rankings. The dream.
This week, we have A LOT to say about our complex reactions to that Mary Lee Tracy interview from last week. We also break down Miss Val’s retirement, Pan Ams, and Kensley’s trip to the men’s selection camp.