Things Are Happening – October 9, 2018

A. US worlds selection camp

The US will be streaming a worlds selection competition for the very first time on Thursday at 3:00 ET. It seems like USAG is actually doing something right, so I’m off to sit in a small box and be shocked for 16 hours. I’m sure something will go terribly wrong like there won’t be scores or they forgot to invite the gymnasts, so don’t worry.

No official time has been given for the announcement of the team (there’s our USAG!), but it’s going to be sometime later on Friday.

By way of a preview, here’s what those camp attendees who weren’t named to the nominative team need to do at the select camp to change the default outlook.

Jordan Chiles – Hit an Amanar every damn time she even looks at the vault. If she’s not hitting an Amanar, she won’t disrupt the nominative team. If she is, she has an excellent argument to go to worlds to deliver one event, likely in place of Kara Eaker.

Ragan Smith – Score 14+ on floor and 14.2+ on beam. Smith will need to have magically gotten healthy since nationals, of course, but if we see 2017 Smith show up, you start entertaining the possibility of replacing the McCallum-Eaker duo with Smith and a vaulter.

Shilese Jones – A good all-around competition probably lands her the alternate spot at this point, but she could improve the nominative team’s scoring potential on vault, so outscoring the other DTYs by multiple tenths and going 14.8+ is her best route. It would also help Jones if Smith has a good competition since Jones and Smith complement each other well (Jones could be the vaulter named above, but would need Chiles not to be hitting an Amanar).

Alyona Shchennikova – Her argument is all about bars. She would need to score a 15+ on bars and beat Hurd by multiple tenths there to make a useful one-event argument similar to the one Eaker is trying to make for beam. Basically, Shchennikova needs to beat Hurd on bars by more than Eaker beats Hurd on beam to say she’s the one-eventer of your dreams.

If none of those things happen, the nominative team is probably safe. I’m viewing that nominative group as default right now, so at this camp, they just have to keep doing what they’re doing.

One other thing: No matter where you fall on the Jade Carey opinion spectrum, I think we can all agree that USAG needs to have some sort of set, public criteria by which it decides who’s eligible to go the individual apparatus qualification route like Carey is, and who is not even if she might want to. I’ll be interested to see if they scramble to put something together simultaneous to the selection camp.

B. Other worlds teams

China hasn’t yet selected who among its nominative six will be the alternate and who will be the five team members, but we do know that Fan Yilin is not among the options for worlds because she’ll be going the apparatus world cup route instead in an attempt to qualify an individual Olympic spot.

This is, first, a reminder that those apparatus world cup standings are going to get real and winning the series will be super tough. It’s also a reminder that the situation is quite different for China than it is for the US women since China can’t necessarily depend on getting an Olympic spot from the all-around world cups (it’s certainly possible, but not a guarantee), so sending realistic contenders to attempt the apparatus route is much more of a necessity for China in its quest to get the two individual bonus spots at the Olympics.

Things do get fraught because China—while probably now a favorite for a team medal at worlds this year—is not a lock for that either. If China misses out on a medal, there will be some, “But you could have taken Fan Yilin for bars” aftermath screaming.

For Germany—as we feared—Pauline Schäfer has pulled out of contention for worlds. She was limited to just bars at nationals, and she doesn’t really make sense for Germany if she can’t contribute beam and floor, which she can’t right now because of a foot injury. She’ll be replaced by Leah Grießer, and the alternate is now Carina Kröll. I’m desperately worried about beam.

Belgium has confirmed that its team is the obvious five of Derwael, Klinckaert, Brassart, Hermans, and Deriks.

The Netherlands has also confirmed that its nominative six (Wevers, Van Pol, Visser, Volleman, Veerman, Polderman) are still in place, with the alternate to be decided. More on that later.

Yulia Inshina announced her retirement this week. Back in 2011, Inshina competed at worlds for Russia and made the beam final. She later switched to AZE and has competed regularly at major international events for the last couple quads. Inshina was on the nominative worlds roster for Azerbaijan this year, so…apparently not.

C. Youth Olympic Games

The Youth Olympic Games, with its insane, arbitrary team competition and four-day qualification process is currently ongoing.

After three events of women’s qualification (everything but beam—because we’re living in a cuckoo clock), Giorgia Villa leads the way, followed by Anastasia Bachynska of Ukraine and Amelie Morgan of Great Britain. Tan Xijing of China is just behind and Ksenia Klimenko is having to play serious catch-up after falling on a Yfull. The women’s all-around final is Friday.

In case you care about the team competition where a bunch of random gymnasts are thrown together for some reason to represent nothing, Team Rosie Maclennan is leading the team competition. But you don’t care, because it’s entirely meaningless.

D. Getting ready for worlds

In a preparation competition, Belgium and the Netherlands beat up Romania and stole its lunch money over the weekend.

Belgium had an excellent competition, taking 4 of the top 7 all-around spots. Most important was the performance of Rune Hermans, showing countable routines on bars, beam, and floor, which should increase Belgium’s scoring potential from Euros on all three pieces. Also encouraging was Senna Deriks performing the all-around after being limited to just bars at Euros.

The only things holding Belgium back at Euros were injuries and a lack of depth, which contributed to the decision to pull out of the team final. It’s looking like a much heartier slate of routines now.

A strong performance for Naomi Visser from the Netherlands likely reinforces that she’ll be called upon to compete four events for a semi-depleted Netherlands side. Of slight concern may be Vera Van Pol competing only vault and bars since I was seriously counting on her for floor in team permutations.

We didn’t get a great or clear answer on the Sanna Veerman vs. Kirsten Polderman question. Veerman gives you bars, but if you have Wevers, Visser, and Van Pol, you may not care so much about her bars. Meanwhile, if you’re concerned about Van Pol on floor, Polderman did better there.

MY clear answer is that Elisabeth Geurts beat both of them on vault and floor, so if you’re looking for someone to supplement the team score right now and complement Wevers, isn’t it Geurts? Apparently not.

Romania…is Denisa Golgota. Otherwise, we saw a performance littered with 9s and 10s on bars that reignites fears that Romania could implode at worlds at not make the top 24. Ioana Crisan was listed in the tentative alternate spot on Romania’s nominative worlds team, but she was one of the brighter spots and recorded a 12.000 on bars and 13.100 on beam here, both essential scores. Right now, it seems clear you’d want her on the team rather than Holbura in the effort to avoid counting multiple 10s on bars.

E. GymCastic

Please plan on doing nothing else with your life except listen to GymCastic. Ever. From last week, we have two episodes for you—The Jade Carey Situation, and the Olympics of Difference Makers commission.

This week, we’re going to have TWO MORE episodes, a fun little debate where Jessica and I use the Jade Carey situation as a jumping off point to debate the merits of team versus individual gymnastics, as well as a commission all about 1993 NCAA Nationals. I mostly get distracted by the early-90s fashions and talk only about that.

19 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – October 9, 2018”

  1. So sad for Romania to continue the free fall path.. hard to believe they are even in danger of not even making top 24…..

    As for the world cup path, i can sort of see why carey is making that decision as she feels like she probably won’t be able to make it as one of the 4 AA on the 2020 team…. she would have likely got one of the two non team spots anyway since she’s probably not the top 4 AAers… but i guess in this way she gets two chances to go after that spot as well as having more control over it?

    of course it’s good for her but might not be us team best interest… but it is what it is…. it’s all done now.

    1. on the plus side, maybe we will start to see some real competition and high caliber gymnasts for event worlds cup….. obviously the lower tier nations and gymnasts will now have less chance of winning a medal in what used to be easier competitions…. oh well, there goes the argument for more diversity? lol…

    2. Following Classics I was thinking that Carey was (surprisingly) a pretty good candidate for a 4 person team – yes her bars and beam are not something you want to ever use, but they do exist. And her improvement over the last year was so impressive that she seemed to me to have potential for much more. Plus her VT and FX are second best in the country. Your 2020 team would be the top 2 AA, Carey, and a UB/BB specializing AAer.

      But maybe Carey and her coaches are worried that she can’t physically hold up to training four events at the elite level plus being a competitive VT and FX specialist. That’s my new theory for why she dropped her most competitive vaulting program this year and is pursuing apparatus cup qualification over a World team spot.

      1. I think that Brian Carey saw an opportunity, amongst the clusterfuck that is USAG, that he could take advantage of the situation and get Jade qualified to the Olympics without having to worry about USAG somehow screwing her over. If Carey gets a spot, and she likely will, the Olympics are hers as ling as she doesn’t get injured. She can literally say FUCK YOU to USAG and not go through the Nationals or Trials process since the spot is nominative. I think it was super smart and savvy of her father. I can GUARANTEE you that Brian went to Tom Forster and came up with some explanation as to why Jade shouldn’t compete at Worlds, but instead try to get one of the +2 spots for USA. There was def. some kind of shenanigans that went on behind the scenes. Forster is a clueless fuck.

    3. This far out from the olympics, there is no way to know which younger gymnasts might emerge. At this point in the 2012 quad many of us thought Alicia was a lock for the team. Not only is this situation not in U.S. gymnastics best interest, it is entirely unfair to other gymnasts who might have a shot at the team. I personally think that Jade would be highly unlikely to make the 6-person team (whether as part of the team or non-team spots) because of her poor execution and artistry; the international judges will begin to deduct appropriately as they see her more. My hope is that up-and-coming gymnasts and coaches wage a protest at USAG and prevent them from allowing her to attend the individual world cup events. I would certainly support that.

      1. At this point in the Rio quad, Bailey Key was going to complement Simone Biles as the second AAer, while Mykayla the First was going to shine on vault when she returned from injury and Kyla Ross was still looking good for the 2016 team despite her growth spurt. Aly and Gabby were “retired” and Madison was perpetually injured.

        About the only thing that stayed the same two years later was Biles – and that’s only because she is a special talent who comes along once in a lifetime.

  2. Please, learn how to use full stops and punctuation instead of non-stop “…” WP!

    1. Lol. That would also save me from pressing buttons more times than needed?

      Carey beam and bars routines seem effortless enough for her during nationals but my guess is she and her dad really want to be unchallenged except by simone in vt and fx so they will pretty much concentrate everything there which seems easier than maling her into a top 4 AAer. And I kimda agree with that. Its still 4 up 3 count in 2020 qual. So all 4 on team are going to do AA anyway…it unlikely the US will select anyone other than top 4AAer… you definitely dont want any weakness when anyone could get injured last min and yr down to 3 members so I doubt they will risk complementary members

      1. there was an interview that came out the other day w/ her dad saying that one of the (obviously lesser) reasons they pulled her out of worlds contention is so she can strengthen her bars and beam and become a more competitive AAer in case the world cup thing doesn’t work out for whatever reason (rather than hyper-focusing on vault and floor for worlds). so no, I don’t think she’d be foregoing those two events entirely in favor of becoming a specialist.

      2. If Jade is a top 4 AAer in 2019, there is nothing that says she has to finish the event world cup series. At the moment she’s covering her bases I suppose.

  3. Once and for all:

    Who here wants Skinner to redshirt at Utah after her junior year and go after an Olympic spot via the World Cup circuit on vault/floor? Watching Carey and Skinner battle each other for one spot would make the World Cup events popcorn-worthy.

    1. we can all dream…lol… unlikely to happen..

      but i supposed nothing is for sure…. and that would also include jade shoeing herself into an olympic position… or the us won’t do additional positions thr AA cups…There is nothing that’s fixed in stone yet….

      The only thing that is 99% sure is that jade and trinity won’t be at 2018 worlds in doha… 99% and not 100% because a) USAG can name anyone they want b)she might change her mind in next few hrs 🙂

  4. “About the only thing that stayed the same two years later was Biles – and that’s only because she is a special talent who comes along once in a lifetime.”

    I doubt that’s the only reason since it’s happened quite a few times before.

  5. Would it be reasonable to put Eaker and Chilea on the same team? Like…Chiles vault/bars and Eaker beam/floor. Not the safest team but they’d probably still win even if someone misses. And if everyone hits, this would max out team score and individual medals, right?

    Eaker’s floor is so beautiful. Would international judges reward that?

    1. I’m crossing my fingers that Ragan Smith looks 2017 amazing on beam/floor and decent on vault/bars for good scores. I think she’s the only one who could drastically change the current “selected” team.

      Chiles would need to be perfect on her 2.5 vault every time and show she’ll never miss again to get on the team as it is currently.

      In other words, Chiles best opportunity to go to Worlds is if Ragan is healthy and back to her old form because then there’s an opening on vault (as for bars, both Chiles and Smith can battle to see who is doing better on competition day to see who leads off the 3-for-3). I think Ragan may be more consistent by a hair but it’s pretty close.

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