A. Elite Canada
Elite Canada for the women begins today and continues through the weekend—signalling the unofficial start of the elite season after a long, cold January. The senior elite AA competition is today at 5:20 ET, junior elite begins tomorrow at 12:00 ET, and both competitions conclude Sunday at 12:00 ET, the juniors with a second day of AA and the seniors with event finals. Flo has live streaming if you want to play that game.
Ellie Black is competing, so guess who’s the favorite to win. Ana Padurariu is also expected to rank well, though most interesting among the main players should be the performance of Isabela Onyshko, who was really struggling toward the end of 2018 and missed out on a spot at worlds as a result. At full strength, Onyshko remains one of the best Canadians, but you also wonder if Ana Padurariu is edging her out of the first tier since Padurariu’s contribution profile is similar. Watch that space.
Also keep an eye on people like Sophie Marois, Laurie Denommee, the Woos, Haley de Jong, new senior Emma Spence, and still-junior Zoe Allaire-Bourgie as they jockey for positions in the hierarchy of worlds and future Olympics contenders. At this point, you certainly feel like Black, Padurariu, Olsen, and Moors are a step above, but the process is so long and so far from being complete.
B. Buckeye Classic and elite qualifier
The first elite qualifier of the US season is currently underway. On Thursday, 20 new people got their elite compulsory scores (which you only have to do once and then never ever again because it’s literally pointless for modern elites, sigh). In the first session of the optionals, Stephanie Berger from Brestyan’s qualified to the US Classic with a 51.750 AA score.
Flo just has the L10 competition, but you can follow along with the elite qualifiers through USAG’s scores.
In the second session, Kristal Uzelac Floortreasure competed vault and beam, scoring 13.650 on vault and 9.950 on beam. That vault score is on track for a two-event or three-event score (if she adds floor at a later qualifier), since you need to average 13.250 for a two-event qualification score and average 13.000 for a three-event qualification score.
Among qualifiers, juniors Emily Golden (EVO) and Ella Zirbes (Flips) qualified to Classic from the second session.
C. National team rankings
I would typically provide the February update to the national team rankings today, but since there are exactly no scores to add from the month of January, the next full update will come on March 1st. The only changes at the top from last month’s rankings would have come from July scores expiring, which dropped Italy and the Netherlands a few spots, Italy falling to 10th and the Netherlands to 12th, Germany moving up to 9th by default.
Poland will also experience a ranking plunge in the next update due to the official retirement announcement from beam star Katarzyna Jurkowska-Kowalska, leaving Poland with just three athletes to use.
D. Roster news
Birmingham, the third AA world cup in the series following American Cup and Stuttgart, has released its rosters for the 2019 edition, to be held on March 23rd.
The women’s field features Riley McCusker, Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos, Brooklyn Moors, and Ellie Downie as the lone representative of the host nation (GB gets only one women’s competitor despite hosting because all WAG countries that finished in the top 8 at worlds accepted their spots—though if any country pulls out, GB will be in line to add a second WAG gymnast).
Somewhat perplexing is the presence of Aliya Mustafina on the Birmingham roster—not simply because she’s already on the Stuttgart roster for the previous weekend and GIRL SLOW DOWN YOU ARE A GIFT—but because she has also been announced as a participant in the Superstars exhibition in London on the very same day as the Birmingham World Cup, March 23.
This probably means that Aliya is just going to pull out of the Superstars exhibition at some point in the near future (or has already), but you know you’re also kind of worried that they may not realize these are two different events taking place in two entirely different cities. I mean, USAG is struggling with that too. Valentina thinks all bloated capitalist ass trenches know each other. Either that or someone took my other website wats-up-aliya-is-actually-twins.tumblr.com a little too seriously.
Joining McCusker, Dos Santos, Moors, Downie, and Mustafina to round out the women’s field are Nagi Kajita, Liu Jieyu, and Anna Reis. On the men’s side, GB does get two competitors and has selected Nile Wilson and Brinn Bevan to do battle against Nikita Nagornyy, Sun Wei, Kazuma Kaya, Alec Yoder, Petro Pakhniuk, Christian Baumann, and of course, our Bart. Bart has ALL THE MEETS.
Before his appearance in Birmingham, Alec Yoder will also compete at Winter Cup in a fortnight’s time, along with every member of the current senior national team (sans Donothan Bailey). That includes Eddie Penev, who is slated to make his return to competition at Winter Cup after missing 2018 with all the broken. The top 6 AA finishers on day 1 make the national team, and then 6 other people will be added at the end of the competition, allegedly using that stupid-ass 10 Points Program. Yeah, we’ll see.
E. Other things
Kara Eaker’s DTY.
Meanwhile, Noleg Verniaiev had another ankle surgery because Noleg. So that means he’ll probably come back to competition 11 days from now and be like “this mummy will do only vault and floor, full difficulty.”
This week‘s NCAA recap asks the question, what’s the best lineup order strategy? Plus, the stick stick, the money gun, CAROL, non-Carol, sexism, and the latest on USAG being not great.