The Jade Carey Problem

Whew boy. Back at it again. Here we go.

The news we had long feared came yesterday when USAG announced the roster for the women’s worlds selection camp, a roster absent Jade Carey. Jade Carey declined her invitation to the selection camp in order to go to Apparatus World Cups instead and attempt to earn herself a named spot at the 2020 Olympics.

“But why?” you ask. SIGH. Because everything is terrible. Duh.

First, let’s discuss the reasons Jade Carey would make the seemingly insane decision not to go to worlds this year when she definitely would have made the team and could have won three medals.

The Olympic qualification rules state that any gymnast who qualifies a team spot to the Olympics cannot then qualify another Olympic spot specifically for themselves through the Apparatus World Cups. The US women are heavily favored to earn team qualification to the Olympics at World Championships this year, so the athletes on this year’s team can’t then go on to Apparatus World Cups to try to earn a named Olympic spot for themselves.

So what if Jade Carey had decided go to worlds this year?

That wouldn’t have prevented her from making the 2020 Olympic team. But, she would have had to be assigned one of the unnamed spots belonging to the US as a country (either a team spot or an individual spot). It wouldn’t be guaranteed.

That’s why I can see the reasoning behind this call for Jade Carey. If she stays healthy, goes to at least three Apparatus World Cups, and performs successfully in all of them, she really should get a spot at the Olympics. That would be a guaranteed spot for her, one that isn’t subject to the whims of a selection committee or Steve Penny-style backroom dealings like the other Olympic spots would be, one that no one can take away from her. Jade Carey would be going to the Olympics, and she would know that by April 2020 and could sip cocktails on the terrace while everyone else is stressing about Trials. You can see the appeal.

For her.

(And I think some other elites might be looking at this and saying, “Hey, that does sound nice…”)

But I don’t see the appeal for the US women’s team leadership.

That’s why the program needed to put its foot down and say, “We’re not sending anyone to the Apparatus World Cups.” Because this is super stupid strategically for the US women as a program.

After qualifying a team to the Olympics, the US has the opportunity to gain 2 extra individual Olympic spots, and has three methods to choose from in gaining those spots: Apparatus World Cups, All-Around World Cups, and Continental Championships.

Of the three, the Apparatus World Cups that Jade Carey is planning to pursue are the riskiest for the US women’s team because the spots go to the athlete rather than the country. If Jade Carey earns an Olympic spot through the Apparatus World Cups, but then gets injured in 2020 and can’t go to the Olympics, her spot reverts to the next person in the Apparatus World Cup rankings, who won’t be an American. The US would lose one of its 6 Olympic spots and be down to just 5.

That’s the most significant reason that the US shouldn’t really want anyone gaining a named spot at the Apparatus World Cups. The spot doesn’t belong to USAG, and an injured athlete couldn’t be replaced with an American reserve.

Even if there isn’t an injury, the US would be locked into sending Carey regardless of how the national team looks in 2020. What if a new senior comes along in 2020 who’s even better on vault and floor? You have to send Carey anyway, and there’s no point in using the other non-team individual spot for another vault/floor worker because you already have those events covered. Any other VT/FX specialists that might come along are SOL.

I also foresee inevitable problems with the fact that—when it comes down to it—the US basically just selected Jade Carey for the 2020 Olympic team, and did so without any kind of official trials process or selection procedure being followed. They just said, “You’re the one who gets to go guarantee yourself an Olympic spot.”

What if Gabby Perea comes back healthy in 2019 and is amazing on only bars and wants to try to get an Olympic spot just for bars through the Apparatus World Cups? Tom Forster has already said they won’t allow two people to try to earn spots through apparatuses (understandably because of the injury worries noted above), so how do you explain to Gabby Perea that she doesn’t get to do that because you already picked Jade Carey for the Olympics without any kind of procedure? That Perea has to try to get her spot the normal way at Trials but Carey doesn’t have to? This seems like a giant bramble of unfairness claims waiting to happen.

Concerns like these are why it seemed obvious to us observers that the US women should try to qualify their two extra Olympic spots through the other two methods—All-Around World Cups and Continental Championships—and not bother with the Apparatus World Cups. Spots earned by those other two methods would be unnamed, which means the US could have earned its six Olympic spots—four team athletes, two individual athletes, all unnamed—and could have selected anyone for any of those six spots, including Jade Carey, including all the members of the 2018 Worlds team.

Tangent: I should note that this strategy I’m proposing is specific to the US women, and I wouldn’t really advocate it for anyone else. The US women are in a unique position of dominance and would be all-but-guaranteed to earn one of three spots from the AA World Cups and one of two spots from Continental Championships. Other programs, including the US men, are not in the same position of dominance to assume those limited spots as given and will need to pursue multiple routes in order to cover their bases, including the Apparatus World Cups.

So why on earth wouldn’t the US women have just gone with the much simpler and better strategy of qualifying extra spots through the AA World Cups and Continental Championships, rather than bothering with the Apparatus World Cups at all?

That’s an excellent question, Gladys. I don’t really know the answer to that.

A complicating factor here is the unconfirmed scuttlebutt that the FIG has communicated to nations that they cannot prevent an athlete from trying to qualify through the Apparatus World Cups if she or he wants to do so.

Which….psssssssh. That is such meaningless FIG garbage. Of course they can prevent athletes from going to competitions. Gymnasts can’t just show up to World Cup events on their own. USAG, as the federation, has to enter them in the competition, and World Cup events are not mandatory. USAG could just…decide not to enter anyone in those meets. What could the FIG even do about that? Plenty of countries don’t enter anyone in World Cup competitions.

USAG absolutely could have defined the Olympic qualification strategy that worked best for the US as a program, and by agreeing to send Jade Carey to Apparatus World Cups, it’s choosing not to do that.

Are we surprised? No.

And that brings me to another point. While you can totally see why this strategy is extremely appealing to Jade Carey, it’s not without its risks for her as well. The biggest risk is that she has to depend on USAG, an organization in the grips of turmoil that is known for its comical lack of competence and organizational abilities even at the best of times, to actually send her to the events she needs to compete in.

I’m honestly concerned that USAG will say, “Hey, Jade, the FIG told us we can’t officially prevent you from going to the Apparatus World Cups to try to get an Olympic spot, so go ahead,” but then won’t actually have its act together to enter her or send her to those specific Apparatus World Cup events. That would be the cruelest possible thing to do to her, but it’s also USAG, so I’m definitely not ruling it out as a possibility.

I mean, this is the organization that told us Tori Tatum was named as the replacement athlete for the junior Pan Ams specifically because she was age-eligible for the Youth Olympic Games but also had no intention of actually sending a WAG athlete to the Youth Olympic Games anyway.

The other potential risks for Carey are that…a lot can happen in two years. It’s a really, really tough decision to give up an opportunity to go to a World Championship right now for something you might be able to do in two years. Who knows what can happen?

I’m also questioning what this means for NCAA plans. Six of the eight Apparatus World Cup events conflict with NCAA weekends in 2019 and 2020. With the best three world cup results counting in the final standings, athletes must plan to go to a bunch of these meets to ensure they get the necessary results. It’s not exactly a quick and easy jaunt from Oregon State to Qatar or Australia or Azerbaijan and back.  Does pursuing this route mean no NCAA until after 2020?

So in the end…I get it and I don’t get it.

I mostly get it for Jade Carey. She wants to seal an Olympic spot for herself without having to rely on these losers at USAG to hand it to her. That makes sense. It is, however, not necessary. Jade Carey could have gone to both worlds this year and the Olympics in 2020, but her individual Olympic spot simply wouldn’t be guaranteed. It would have to be assigned to her at Trials. Just like every other Olympic spot.

For USAG, I don’t remotely get it. This strategy is risky in terms of ensuring six US WAG gymnasts get to the Olympics, and it doesn’t allow for the US to cultivate its best-scoring team come the summer of 2020. Instead, it will be locked into one team member well before the Trials process begins. It very well could work out wonderfully, but it also might not. And if it doesn’t, you’re stuck with it.




85 thoughts on “The Jade Carey Problem”

  1. Thank you, Spencer. You explained so well why I keep coming back to the following: “It’s USAG, logic and competence do not apply”.

  2. What I don’t get: if the U.S. qualifies 3 extra spots (one nominative from apparatus world cups, one from AA world cups, one from Continental Championships…what happens? I had sort of figured, since Continental Championships happen last chronologically, that one wouldn’t count. Then in that case, if the nominative athlete tore an achilles in July 2020, the US would suddenly only have the 1 extra spot, would suddenly the Continental Champion retroactively earn a spot over the 2nd place finisher?

    1. Nope, my read is that if they technically qualified x3 through each of the different means, the Continental up is the last to occur and therefore would not be utilised by the U.S.

      If the recipient of the apparatus named spot gets injured, such is life and that spot goes to the next eligible gymnast. And none for Gretchen Weiners/the CC recipient goodbye.

      1. So if the apparatus spot person gets injured the day BEFORE the Continental spot is determined, the U.S. could get it (because at that point they only have 2) – but if it’s the day AFTER, the U.S. would be stuck with only one spot? Even though they earned the continental spot and now have only 1 “extra” spot used?

  3. Amen to all you said. Here is my question. All of this is just assuming Jade Carey wouldn’t make the cut for the 4 member 2020 US Olympic TEAM. But what if the USA wanted or needed her on the team (yes, unlikely, but she has been working hard on all around/bars/beam) and she already has an individual spot. Could she be on the 4 member team, or is she basically signing away any chance of that? This whole thing is so F-ed up. Good Job Tom.

    1. If they added Jade to the team, her individual spot would be reallocated and USAG would not want to do that. By taking the individual apparatus route, Jade is essentially forfeiting all chances of being part of the 2020 team.

  4. How can USAG even endorse this madness? is there any chance you can ask tom directly on his justification? we don’t have the connection but for someone like you who does have at least some connection to usag, you MUST do something about this…

    If nothing else, we should all start a petition!!

  5. I don’t understand why the US is only sending one person to go after nominative spots. They are only allowed to earn one nominative spot. If Gabby Perea does come back strong and can go out and earn a bars spot (or Ashton Locklear), there would theoretically be a tiebreak between Jade and Gabby for which one actually gets the spot and the US would still only end up with one nominative spot. I actually think this would be a more fair way of doing it. Send out Jade, Ashton, Gabby, etc. (I was going to say Kara Eaker but she probably won’t be eligible since she is going to Worlds. Damn) Maybe even send out multiple people per event. So that if one person gets injured then you get lucky and the next in line might be a US person. Worth a shot if people are going to insist on doing the nominative route?

    1. Honestly, not getting that there’s a tiebreak between two of the same country seems the least of USAG’s issues with this qualification system

  6. If I’m USAG I wouldn’t want to rely on fate going their way come 2020… there’s something called KARMA and there’s isn’t very good right now.

    I have to admit while I would feel bad for the gymnasts if injuries happened and they couldn’t live their dreams, it would be poetic justice if USAG lost a spot or two.

    1. but it would be too late then… we all need to do something right now while we still can!!

    2. Except that’s a gymnast who will have to pay the price not usag. I already feel for the girl who is told… you would have been in spot 6 but we messed up and only have 5.

    3. What a horrible thing to say! The only people punished would be the US women gymnasts who need all the bolstering and encouragement they can get right now. Why in the world would you want to gymnasts to be punished?? Think before you say something stupid like that again.

  7. THANK you for voicing all of my thoughts so clearly. It’s not smart for the United States as a whole, it’s not fair to other athletes who don’t have the same opportunities to qualify this way, and it doesn’t consider the fact that Carey may not be the best, or 2nd best vault/floor specialist by the time the Olympics roll around.
    Allowing this to happen makes sense for Jade Carey and Jade Carey only. Her decision is completely understandable for herself, but the USAG shouldn’t allow it to happen, and THANK you for laying out why they don’t need to allow it to happen.

  8. Someone is seriously going to get screwed out of an olympic spot, entirely because usag appointed someone who doesn’t understand how the rules work.

  9. “A complicating factor here is the unconfirmed scuttlebutt that the FIG has communicated to nations that they cannot prevent an athlete from trying to qualify through the Apparatus World Cups if she or he wants to do so….
    Tom Forster has already said they won’t allow two people to try to earn spots through apparatuses (understandably because of the injury worries noted above), so how do you explain to Gabby Perea that she doesn’t get to do that because you already picked Jade Carey for the Olympics without any kind of procedure?”

    I also see loads of unfairness claims waiting to happen. Really?

    1. Now that you say that, those two statements together don’t make logical sense. If the USAG can’t prevent Jade Carey from trying to qualify through Apparatus World Cups then Tom Forster isn’t allowed to say they won’t allow two people to qualify that way. He can’t have it both ways. He can’t let Carey go try and say he can’t prevent her, and at the same time prevent every single other USA athlete from trying because he doesn’t want 2 people to qualify that way.

  10. Enough talking among all of us fan and bitching!…..

    The question is can we do something about this? are we just gonna chill and write a bunch of responses? I think we should do something about it!

  11. An added complication (particularly relevant in light of USAG’s ongoing legal trouble): I suspect they are worried about the Carey family suing them if they don’t let her try to qualify. There is precedent for such lawsuits ( and I’m sure that’s the first thing USAG is worried about these days. Question is, won’t they also risk a lawsuit anyway by athletes who will be left out due to Jade taking up a spot?

    1. If that is really a consideration, the USAG should just go ahead and brave a lawsuit because this is one situation I can’t see the Careys getting much support from. It’s blatantly obvious that Carey getting to try and qualify this way not only risks the USA losing a spot due to injury, but is unfair to every other potential specialist as there was no qualification, competition, or selection process available to them to decide who is allowed to earn a spot this way.
      I have no great love for the USAG but I do care about all athletes getting a fair shot to make the Olympic team with selection parameters as equitable and pre-set out as possible. Not just choosing one girl because she happens to be ready 2 years before the Olympics.

  12. I’m worried that this would encourage someone like Skinner to come back in 2020 enter the world cups and snag that FX/VT spot from Jade rendering Jade’s efforts useless, because they’re pretty much neck and neck in terms of difficulty at full strength. Is she doing this on the assumption that no one else is, and in particular someone with her similar strengths like Skinner and Raisman who could realistically beat her out of that spot if they decide to do the same?

    1. Oooh I wany Skinner to have redemption come back do bad…. maybe she should do this too!

      1. Me to. Would love to see Carey and Skinner battle each other on the World Cup circuit. Isn’t it in USAG’s favour if they end up 1-2 in the rankings – so if one gets injured at least the spot remains with the USAG.

        It’s a fair way to do this for vault/floor workers, but bars/beam specialists are sort of screwed – or can both extra spots be earned this way. Can the US have a guaranteed ATHLETE specialist for vault/floor AND bars/beam?

  13. If the FIG says countries can’t prevent gymnasts from trying to qualify through the apparatus cups, then how can Tom Forster say that he won’t allow more than one? By not allowing stop someone like Gabby Perea to go, wouldn’t he then be violating the same rule? …Obviously, we all know USAG will do what USAG wants and get around the rule however they want (because USAG ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) but it seems like by allowing only one gymnast to go, they’re making themselves liable to the (valid) claim that they’re preventing anyone else from doing the same thing.

    1. Well regardless of how many Tom allows, the FIG only allows one nominative spot from the event World Cups. Perhaps Tom misspoke. As I said above, I think they would be stupid to limit themselves to sending only one athlete to try to get the spot. And frankly, leave themselves open to lawsuits if they do that. And I think USAG is already busy enough with the lawsuits they have.

    2. YES! This is my point every time people keep just *saying* this, like it’s a well accepted fact. I’m yet to see the FIG ruling in question anywhere, and based on Forester’s own statements, it’s clearly not true.

  14. I really think that all the parents of the other gymnasts who are praying for a specialist role in 2020 should band together ASAP in a class action lawsuit. There is no way in hell it is legal for them to only allow Jade Carey this opportunity and not open it up for all. Either all get a chance or none. Even Simone Biles isn’t getting this kind of gifted Olympic spot and she is SIMONE FREAKIN’ BILES (GOAT)!

  15. I agree that this is just asking for trouble, that even Simone doesn’t technically have a guaranteed spot,. Terrible hypothetical: why if Simone and injures her wrist in Spring 2020, forcing her to be limited to floor and vault, but she is still much better than Jade. She’s basically a lock for Olympic gold. Then, depending on the team composition, it might actually be redundant to have Simone take the other individual spot. Who deserves the spot more?

  16. Thanks, Spencer, for expressing how absurd this whole situation is and how incompetent it makes the national team staff look. Jade Carey owes us no explanation – who wouldn’t go ahead and guarantee themselves a spot at the Olympics if USAG isn’t competent enough to to stop you? – but Tom Forster needs to come out immediately and defend this decision. As Spencer points out, it’s wildly unfair to every other American gymnast with Olympic aspirations, especially those who were expecting to contend as event specialists (I’m half expecting Kara Eaker to withdraw from consideration for Worlds to do the same thing as Jade); also, the prospect that the deepest WAG program in the world might only send five gymnasts to the Olympics when they could send six is horrifying. To be honest, the more I think about this the angrier it makes me. I honestly don’t see how taking this wholly unnecessary risk isn’t grounds for firing. What a betrayal of the rest of the American field.

    I also expect USAG to be opening itself up to lawsuits if Forster denies another gymnast the opportunity to qualify this way. USAG is on the verge of bankruptcy already. The idiocy of these people.

    1. Calling it horrifying is over stating it a bit, I don’t know, in gymnastics terms, it’s ludicrous and not for the overall best but I prefer to keep things in the perspective, of well, actual real life tragedies and the like.

  17. Most of my anger is at these new qualification rules. Did no one at FIG realize they were gutting worlds with this set up?! We now have heathly, medal contenders boycotting worlds.

    1. I agree with you that all this anger should first and foremost be directed to the FIG rules.
      But in fact I think they wanted to give more relevance to the Event world cup series and that’s why someone was like “You know what would be a good idea? To make people qualify for the Olympics!”
      But this is you *so* not working out: For countries with only a little bit of depth that have a specialist (take Sanne Wevers for example) they will probably still want her on the team, after all she could provide a glorious beam score! – which she can’t be if she qualifies this route.
      For countries with a lot of depth like the US, Russia it creates this problem that only athletes that peak way before the Olympics can go this route, not more than one can take this route (2 at the max) because of the 6-per-team-cap and it creates all sorts of terrible drama. It also doesn’t achieve what the FIG is setting out to do: Help diversify the competition. The US would now have 6 athletes that are medal contenders, two of whom are competing just for themselves, so likely for event medals. This cries for a sweep of the medal table like never before, with the US realistically trying for 1-2 on all events!
      So in the end, the FIG doesn’t achieve their goals, it creates all sorts of drama and possible law suit (I can’t blame anyone that wants to sue USAG over this, but this really isn’t all their fault!) and in the end, while, yes, the event cups have more relevance, the US is likely to dominate the games more then ever.

      1. OK, yeah, I asked a question below that your comment touches on. I still struggle to understand the system, but the way I understand it, it seems really short-sighted by FIG if its intent is to diversify the competition. In my head the rule should be constructed more like the new rule for NCAA…. it used to be that if you wanted to qualify as an individual to Nationals, you had to flat-out win your event. But now I believe (and Spencer would definitely know for sure) that you don’t have to win your event to move on… you just have to be the highest-ranking person whose team isn’t qualifying to finals, i.e., this is your only way of getting a spot. I feel like FIG would need to write the rules similarly if these event cups are actually intended to diversify the field. Otherwise they’re really not helping ANY country.

    2. Great point! Perhaps the reason some Netherlands athletes are not going????

  18. I hope the other girls’ coaches are talking to each other and coming up with a solution. Because this whole thing is absurd.

  19. Are we really concerned the US won’t win enough medals at the Olympics? Simone BY HERSELF is capable of winning 5 medals, probably gold, plus we have more than enough depth to put up a gold metal winning team at pretty much any time, with or without Jade and Simone. If Jade and her coach asked to do this and were permitted, I see no problem with this. Anyone else could have asked as well, it just seems like they were first. Swimming, diving, track, etc., all individual Olympic sports, qualify nominative spots as well and I’m ok with gymnastics doing that too. And if it doesn’t work, we’ll find out that the Carey experiment was a failure and we won’t do World Cup for 2024. I like that Tom is trying something new and giving more agency to the individual over USAG/the country. Marta would NEVER do that and I think this is just as much of a statement on his part of supporting athletes over “guaranteed Olympic glory.” Way to do something different USAG.

    1. How is that fair to anyone else? So let’s see…. why don’t we encourage everyone to also try out coke and meth and well, if you die or have to be hospitalized or get addicted, then it didn’t work and it won’t happen in the future? lol..

      This is like common sense shits….

    2. I wasn’t aware swimming, diving and track had nominative spots (are you sure?) But even if they do, swimming and track also have timed, completely objective Olympic trials for athletes to qualify. Swimming and diving also, I believe, have way more spots available than gymnastics does. The U.S. doesn’t get to send all of their best athletes on every single event. They only get a max of 6 spots total to divvy out between team, all-around, and 4 events. It’s not a fair comparison of selection processes.
      The thing is, letting Carey do this doesn’t support the athletes, it supports Jade Carey only. It actually shuts down an Olympic opportunity for every other athlete before they even have a chance to compete for it. It’s almost the opposite of supporting the athletes.
      This is not about being concerned the USA won’t win enough medals. It’s about making sure all athlete contenders have the same opportunities to be selected. I could care less about what process brings the most medals. I care about an equal and identical selection criteria for all.

  20. Tom said that USAG supports Jade’s decision. Nowhere it is said the no other gymnast can choose to go that route. Let’s wait with all the anger to the point where there are multiple Americans who win their respective apparatus world cups. RIght now we don’t know yet. If there was no rule before, they have to come up with it at the end. For now every girl who wants to can choose the same way as Jade did. We will see at the end.

  21. Well if the US can control the individual spot in the following two meets, then the second slot would be gone before it would be an issue for someone to try next year for an individual spot. This would make Tom’s comment about Jade being the only one make sense. I also wonder what will happen if for some reason Jade doesn’t win – whether through injury or mistake. Does she then get back into the USAG team fold – or is she tossed to the curb? If she does win, does she remain on National Team?

    1. If Carey somehow doesn’t qualify through the apparatus world cups, then I assume USAG will send people to the continental championships to snag their 6th spot.

      Carey is hitting the jackpot with this arrangement assuming she stays healthy and assuming USAG keeps their promise to Carey. This effectively locks her into an Olympic spot without any competition other than the world cup competitors.

  22. It’s absolutely absurd of USAG to allow this and is blatant favoritism. USAG should have stated from the start that they would not be trying for an individual (nominative) spot and then this matter would be moot. Now they’ve opened a can of worms that is going to stink things up even more than they already are.

  23. Thanks so much, Spencer, for laying this out so clearly … wonder if the USAG officials are secretly bookmarking this article for their own reference, lol.

    Maybe USAG worries that, without a guaranteed spot, Jade will not want to stick around for the entire lengthy and uncertain trials process, but will drop elite, preserve her body, and just go ahead with her NCAA path. (Maybe the Careys indicated this, especially if Jade has already started online classes.) In any case, not having to go through the process closer to the Olympics will preserve her body better, lessen her chances of injury, and pretty much guarantee that she will stay in elite and push for top form in 2020.

    Which doesn’t make it any more fair, but adds another factor into the decision-making process.

    Also, as others have noted, it’s possible that Tom simply meant that the nominative spot (only one allowed, per FIG) would already be earned by Jade before any other US gymnast is ready to try the nominative route, not that they wouldn’t allow anyone else to go.

    1. I just don’t think Jade is good enough that it would make sense for USAG to want to talk her into sticking around for two more years by promising her this opportunity. Like maybe if it was Simone… maaaaaybe you could justify the relative injustice of giving her a guaranteed spot. But Jade – while very talented – is not even the best FX and VT gymnast within her own country, let alone the world. It’s not like her going or not going to the Olympics over any other gymnast is going to dramatically affect the number of gold medals the US gets.

    2. I like jade. but she is not irreplaceable. If she decides to not go to selection camp for worlds and go to college , that’s her bad decision that she and her dad should live with.

      1. “that’s her bad decision that she and her dad should live with” – I’m not sure it’s a bad decision. If it were my kid, I could see doing the same. Putting yourself through that process is absolutely not for everyone. Many gymnasts as adults have still not recovered from the stress and other impacts.

      2. so you are going to forgo the 99% guaranteed 2018 worlds team gold along with a much better than 50% chance of both silver or bronze at least on fx and vt for something in 2020?

        What i think is that this is 90% the problem laying with tom and usag…. they are going to open themselves to a lot of problem down the road with this…

  24. How does the new process work for other countries?

    I get for USAG the new system is a bit of a mess because of the depth of gymnasts, but what countries will actually favour this new approach and can anyone use it to their advantage to become a medal contender (Brazil, Germany, Canada, or other smaller countries)?

    1. the nominative spots are really for countries with only a few outstanding gymnasts and especially ones that are good only in 1 or two events.. So that they can try to qualify to the olympics without having to be an AA

      so it is definitely not designed for US, with great depth and esp emphasis on AAers.

      1. Unless you’re the Netherlands, and then you’ve got a fairly small pool of gymnasts you can use in a five-person setting to earn a team spot… and that includes Sanne who wouldn’t really be useful in a four-person setting and is a world-class specialist

        This nominative spot issue is just super thorny and I feel like there had to be a better way of dealing with it (also why team-earning gymnasts can earn non-nominative spots BUT NOT NOMINATIVE ONES is beyond comprehension)

  25. Agree with all your points, but I have another question and want to set aside the US team’s/US individual gymnasts’ interests for a minute. I know this is all a competition and that it’s not “unfair” for someone to qualify according to the rules. But from an equity perspective… am I correct in feeling that this would feel “unfair” to gymnasts from smaller programs, i.e., this is not in the spirit of why the new qualification system was put in place? Like would… I don’t know… Dipa Karmakar for example be going “crap, I really needed this chance and now I’m probably going to be edged out from a gymnast from the US who likely would have made it anyway”?

    I’m not trying to blame the Careys or even USAG… a competition is a competition, and it’s not like FIG can make a rule and be like “oh but if you’re a big program, pretty please don’t come to this competition!!” I’m just looking for clarification as to whether my interpretation is correct, or if these spots would have always likely gone to gymnasts from big programs anyway.

    1. you could look at that way….. these event nominative spots are really not meant for countries like US.. they are designed for countries with only a few outstanding gymnasts and ones that are not quite AA and are good in 1 or 2 events.

    2. I totally agree (and that’s entirely on FIG for not figuring out how they actually wanted this system to work and making rules that correlated)

      1. For the FIG, the main goal was to promote the Individual Apparatus World Cup series by making it a part of Olympic Qualification. They left it to the countries to figure out how to cope with that.
        As for Dipa, her best chance to qualify to Olympic Games is to make it to the VT final at 2019 Worlds. Each final has three nominative spots for gymnasts who are not from countries that qualified a team (finalist that are form countries that qualified a team are not eligible to earn a nominative spot).

  26. OK SORRY another question. Total hypothetical: what happens if now the floodgates open and a whole lot of US gymnasts want to qualify this way, and the US ends up having a different individual win each apparatus? They can only qualify two people, so how does FIG determine which two? (I guess this really applies to any country, although the US is of course the country with the best possibility of this actually happening.)

    1. That is why you do need sometimes a director that knows what’s best for the team and put his foot down at least on something…..Just because if he put his foot down on this doesn’t mean he is becoming a mean stern Martha….

      Tom is pretty much neglecting his duty to the team with this decision.

    2. There’s tie-breaking procedures since any given nation is only allowed to qualify one gymnast through the apparatus world cup series

  27. You’ve missed the apex of this triangle of dumbassery, which is: why doesn’t FIG make the apparatus cup spots non-nominative if a NF with a team qualified earns them, that way it matches with the other two routes and shit like this doesn’t happen at all? It’s a win win – fewer convoluted permutations of the quals standard for the FIG to manage, and the NF owning the spot means they don’t lose it if someone gets injured, which should make them happy. All spots for qualified team non nom, all spots for true individuals nom except those earned by AA placement (not medals) at WC seems pretty simple to me

    1. I assumed that the nominative spots were for gymnasts from federations with no other Olympic-quality gymnasts. Dipa Karmakar is a good example. She is the only female Indian gymnast capable of competing at an Olympic level. Who is India going to send in her place if she wins a spot but then gets injured? They have other gymnasts, and they are getting better and better every quad, but let’s be honest… none of them should be going to the Olympics over a qualified athlete from a deeper federation.

  28. Spence, are you able to do a follow up to this post with Tom’s justification for his decision to support this?

    There is no point asking Jade or her father/coach… I can see that her aim is to promote her chance to get to the olympics in anyway she can… be damn anyone else or fairness or farsightedness about how the future is unpredictable…….

    But we really need to know why tom/usag supports this. I am sort of resigned to the fact that we all can’t do anything to it but can we at least get a half reasonable answer from the horse;s mouth??

  29. All of your arguments for why this is terrible for the US program are completely accurate. However, I think this piece assumes too strongly a “Go get your spot Jade” position from USAG. Jade was supposed to go to selection camp, so clearly this wasn’t the path USAG chose. They can’t very well stop her from declining. I also would like more explanation from FIG regarding federations not being allowed to stop gymnasts from trying to qualify that way. It does seem like complete fluff that means nothing, but if that’s something hanging over them, that is still there for USAG to contend with.

    I also think USAG is somewhat stuck between a rock and a hard place with how to deal with the Careys here given the “USAG needs to do a better job supporting their athletes” issue, and their statement in response to Jade’s decision sounds very much in line with realizing that’s a common criticism they need to be seen as addressing. I agree beyond Jade this does open a potential can of worms, but Jade’s the only one staking her claim on this route now- Kara’s really the only other currently competing senior it would make much sense for, and she hasn’t declined her spot. If Perea or a rising senior next year wants to pursue this option as well and is barred, then that’s its own issue, but so far it hasn’t arisen.

    1. I totally agree with this. While Tom says he/USAG supports Jade, it would be pretty difficult for him *not* to say this given recent USAG media coverage. Can you imagine trying to explain all these rules to people who are just going to have the gut-reaction of ‘Oh USAG just wants to control every action of the girls and have all the power and look how that went in the past’?

      Someone on Twitter mentioned that USAG may not be able to stop individual girls from signing up for World Cups (even though it could not provide funding for participation) because of the Amateur Sports Act. Does anyone know more about this?

    1. I don’t know that he will, but I say Jonathan Horton should. He said if he only had to do high bar, he would.

  30. Technical question here, sorry if it has already been answered. I understand that there are nominative spots available on each apparatus in the cup series. But what if Jade were to win both FX and VT? I assume one of the runner-up athletes would get a nominative spot, but how would they choose which one? Jade is very capable of winning both those events…

  31. At least for this year’s worlds the upside is that selection just opened up. I’m happy that there are now two spots up for grabs that can be filled by McCullum, and Eaker (my personal choices), or anyone else at selection.

    1. Yep. And the other upside is that this could be good news for Canada and Brazil at 2020 Pan Ams (or possibly Argentina/Mexico/Cuba) who will be duking it out for two of the spots there instead of just one.

      1. No one can rule out that the US doesn’t also send someone to 2020 pan am spot….. so i wouldn’t say this yet

      2. WP- If the US has already earned two spots via the event World Cups and AA World Cups, they would be precluded from earning one at Pan Ams even if they send people.

      3. if pan am is after events cups and aa world cup, then i guess so

        but no one can predict the future on what will really happen to this whole thing yet…. jade could change her mind, usag could change their mind, fig could clarify the rules, etc, just saying way too early for argen//mex/cuba to celebrate right now…

      4. Pan Ams is after World Cups. That’s why everyone is so up in arms about this strategy. Maybe try reading the rules? Or if not, don’t bother commenting on things that you clearly don’t know anything about?

  32. In this article, Jade’s father says that even if she does earn an Olympic spot via the world cups, SHE STILL MIGHT DECLINE IT for a chance on the team! Does he know that would screw the US over so they lose the spot altogether? From his perspective, I get wanting the best chance for your kid, but that is just downright shortsighted and unbelievably selfish,

    1. He knows that the US would loose the spot :

      “Even if she does qualify, she could decline the spot to prioritize trying to later be selected for the U.S. for the Olympic team event (in which case the U.S. couldn’t get that individual spot back, however. “We’re going to be very aware of that and very careful,” Brian said.).”

  33. Here’s a thought no one raised yet:
    Her dad says they want to leave as many doors open. Everyone is saying they don’t understand why Tom Forester is supportive of Carey’s path. They obviously discussed this, maybe they agreed to make it a possibility but not commit/ garuntee the spot 100%? Meaning- Carey will have to attend 3 competitions, she’s declining worlds this year but they might see next year that she is improving on the all around, or there are new gymnasts that might be more deserving of the apparatus spot and they ( meaning both USAG and the Carey’s) agree to let someone else take the spot. Or in other words maybe Tom is supportive because they promised to coordinate the moves in the coming 2 years? No other gymnast right now is willing to give up worlds for the chance for an apparatus spot. Carey’s dad mentioned she might give up the spot but will be careful with it, I read between the lines that it means it will be agreed upon with USAG. Imagine she declines the spot on her own decision and loose the team one of the spots … USAG would for sure not let her go for a team spot after such a move! She would only do that in advance, if at the last 3 competitions before the Olympics she is so improved she wants to go for a team spot- so she doesn’t go for a 3rd individual competition, loses her eligibility for individual apparatus, and USAG send someone else to achieve that spot.

  34. Excuse me if this has been addressed, but all of these twists and turns in the Gymworld have me feeling rather slow on the uptake. If Jade wins both vault and bars, can she compete both apparatus?

    Honestly, this gives me all kinds of feels about her turning her back on her teammates, and I think it would be amazing if Skinner came back and threw a wrench into this plan…

  35. I get the idea of keeping all the doors open and I know that the Olympics is THE deal and everything… but soooo much can happen in two years!

    She is practically throwing away an almost sure team gold – as she “only” won silver last year since it was individual worlds – for a slight chance of maybe making her qualification to the Olympics a little easier if she is still in the mix at that time. Don’t get me wrong, I am really rooting for her and would love to see her get that spot, I just hope she won’t have to regret not going to worlds this year!

  36. This might be a dumb question but I am still trying to figure out this whole process. What is the difference between the two extra spots that could possibly be earned through outside routes (including this one that Jade is after) and the USA Olympic Team spots? How affiliated with the USA team would these extra two girls be at the Olympics? Im assuming that they won’t be competing in the team competition but if they win individual medals would those medals be to USA? And can these athletes only compete in the events in which they qualified or can they branch out during the Olympics and compete outside of those events? I guess these extra spots are just confusing. Thanks!

  37. I think with all the controversy they didnt want to tell her no and get the negative press that could come if her dad choose to throw a fit which he might have it since he was planning on going another route. It really is unfair when u think about the team concept and picking the girls who have worked hard improved and competed well at the time of the Olympics.. it also may hurt her bonding with the team since evidently winning as a team doesn’t matter to her because she is a vault and floor specialist
    (I dont really need the team, I can get there on my own) it may not be how she feels but it is how it looks. I also think that some of this has to do with Jades skill level as well, I think her and her father are scared of being another Skinner ..if you remember Skinner was a part of the world championship build up to Rio but didnt make the team. Even though she was a vault medalist at world and did well at the trials. She had high D score in vault , floor and beam but her execution was low . I FIGURE jade doesn’t want that to happen to her .. as 2020 draw closer new junior step up other elite upgrade routine and she could fall short especially if her execution issues aren’t fixed you have to remember she was a unknown face once judges see you more they become more aware of individual issues that athletes have gone unnoticed prior. When I gymnast is known for not pointing her toes or separating her legs in flight the 1st time they might not hit them as hard might notice it as much but they next time they start hitting them hard.. the skinner effect the more toward Rio they judge her harder than at the start of the quad which is the opposite of norm scores normally start out tight each quad then get higher . Skinner went the other way. I think this us a concern for Jade fear the day when her diffcult isnt enough.. In the era of Biles we focus alot on Diffculty bc she ahead of the game but we most remember it’s not just diffculty that Bilee brings to the table it’s her execution as well. At national jade floor was just .2 lower in value but she scored alot lower she had D in the 6 but still scored in 14 she lost alot other gymnast have D scores in the high 5 and have gotten a 14 even if it was a low 14.

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