Things Are Happening – March 22, 2019

A. Individual Apparatus Olympic Qualification

The first half of the Olympic apparatus qualification series concludes tomorrow in Doha (it will resume in November in Cottbus), so we’re starting to get an actual, reliable impression of how things will go.

On women’s vault, Jade Carey just did outscore Maria Paseka to take her second victory in as many weeks, but it was a close one. The #1 qualifier Paseka performed what was not-even-arguably her best Amanar ever in the final, but she struggled to control her landing on the Cheng (still an improvement over last week’s miss, though not as strong as in qualification), which put her just behind Carey.

Carey now has 2 wins and 1 second place to give her 85 points out of a possible 90 points in the qualification standings. As I’ve noted before, we expect Andrade to qualify with a team at 2019 worlds and therefore have her points from Cottbus reassigned, which would then give Carey the maximum 90 points.

So…done, she’s qualified for the Olympics right?

Not so fast. It’s still quite possible, especially if Carey stops attending events at this point, for someone like Maria Paseka to win three of the four remaining competitions and get 90 points of her own, sending the two of them to a tiebreak of best scores. Which could go either way. That’s why, even though the US women’s nonsense apparatus rules stated that the org would pay to send athletes to only 3 competitions, they’re going to need to send Carey to a couple more next year if for no other reason than to try to keep Maria Paseka from getting wins.

Otherwise, this spot is still up for grabs. Speaking of spots that are still up for grabs, bars. Nina Derwael won her second event in the series in Doha, just outscoring Fan Yilin in the battle of the bars queens that we’ve always hoped for—but this is very much an Olympic backup plan for Derwael, who is highly likely to qualify a spot at 2019 worlds. When points are redistributed after the 2019 world championships, I think we’re going to end up with two 30-point competitions for Lyu Jiaqi and two 30-point competitions for Fan Yilin, and that’s going to be goooooood down the stretch.

For the men, Lee Chih Kai recovered from a rough competition in Baku to win his third pommel horse title so far in the series, snatching the maximum 90 points for himself. Like Carey, now he just has to make sure no one else gets to 90. But with Lee, there’s the added complication that he may very well qualify at 2019 worlds, which would give Weng Hao of China his glimmer of hope back.

On floor, Shatilov’s victory in Doha has given Israel three titles in four events, but since the first two of those went to Dolgopyat and the third to Shatilov, the leader in the standings is currently Carlos Yulo with one win of his own along with two 3rd places. On rings, Liu Yang has not participated in the last two events, but since he won the first two, he must still be considered the frontrunner if he competes in the second half of the series.

For tomorrow, the story will be Carey’s pursuit of the qualification lead on floor in addition to her lead vault—as well as the fight for second place between Mori and Ferrari. On beam, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . Those standings are still so ambiguous that we won’t really know what’s happening until next year. Marine Boyer has a good shot to take the lead after this meet, but she’s also one of those athletes we expect to become ineligible after 2019 worlds.

For the men on Saturday, watch for Yang Hakseon’s sudden push for the vault spot after winning in Baku, as well as the Srbic/Zonderland/Miyachi high bar battle entering its fourth round. On Pbars, Zou Jingyuan is going to win, but since he’s ineligible for an apparatus spot, there’s a good chance that Ferhat Arican can continue his run of 2nd and 3rd place finishes to keep the lead there.

B. What else?

Saturday also brings the all-around world cups in Birmingham. On the men’s side, Nikita Nagornyy is getting the nod for Russia and hoping to follow Dalaloyan’s lead from last week by taking the win over Pakhniuk and Sun Wei, who are both competing here as well. Kazuma Kaya, always capable of getting a Japan-level AA score on a good day, is hoping to break that podium, and Bart is hoping to go 6-for-6 after coming dramatically close in Stuttgart. On the women’s side, Riley McCusker makes her 2019 debut, with Ellie Downie and Aliya Mustafina aiming to keep her from the title.

Last weekend, Ellie Downie put up a strong AA performance (with even stronger potential displayed) to win the all-around title at the British championship, and if that is any indication of her current level, she should place very well in Birmingham. Sadly, an injury to Kelly Simm at the British meant that she has had to be replaced on the Euros team by Claudia Fragapane, who is nearly fully back and placed second to Downie in the floor final. If you’re looking for some requisite British team controversy to sink yourself into (and when aren’t you?), Georgia-Mae Fenton won the bars and beam event titles at the British and yet is not on the Euros team.

I think there’s an argument there. Not so much for beam because Fenton doesn’t have the D, but for bars certainly at an individual Euros. She is an event final contender, whereas Morgan and Kinsella are sort of filling the same role as one another—the #2 AAer. I would say if you’ve got Downie, Morgan, and Fragapane, you’ve got two people for floor and beam and AA covered, and vault covered as well as it can be, so what you’re left needing is another bars score to go with Downie.

Simultaneously to the all-around world cup, the Superstars of Gymnastics exhibition will be running in London, and we can only hope it is Alexei Nemov Show levels of insane. Otherwise, don’t bother.

C. GymCastic

On this week’s GymCastic, we took a deep dive into Vallapalooza, along with updates on the results from Stuttgart and Baku.

Short version: Simone good. Aliya beam upside down. Seitz DTY back. Rebeca Andrade all the scores in the team competition. Marina Nekrasova full-body unitard in Baku. Eythora beam perfect.

I mean, she actually goes apple-picking in the middle of this routine. Or, she’s selecting which talking birds will be her life-long attendants on her visit to Ye Olde Talking Bird Store.

20 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – March 22, 2019”

  1. But wasn’t part of the American strategy in the rules that they don’t really want someone to qualify through the apparatus world cup route? They should have no problem getting two of the non-nominative spots if they’re eligible, and surely USAG would rather they get to choose.

      1. Are they eligible to compete for points, though, if USAG isn’t backing them? I remember this being discussed at one point in the past but don’t remember what the conclusion was.

        If the Careys can self-fund, they absolutely should – not necessarily for vault, in my opinion, but on FX. Jade is winning FX in these WCs by a huge margin. If she goes and wins on more cup on FX, that gives her 90 points there and she would get the spot even in the event of a tiebreak, because no one on the WC circuit is going to break the 14s like she has. That would be the best way for her to lock down an Olympic berth.

      2. I’m with anon at 8:36. If Carey goes to Cottbus and wins floor with a score similar to the ones she got in Stuttgart and Doha, she will have a spot in the Olympics by winning the event World Cup spot on floor. The only way anyone else could get that spot would be for some person who wasn’t going to go to the Olympics with a team to come in with a floor routine with crazy high difficulty and go high 14s in all 3 of the remaining World Cups, and that would be a pretty crazy thing to have happen. I’m guessing that if she goes to Cottbus and wins floor with a mid-14s score, she is done with World Cups, regardless of whether or not Paseka is looking like she may be able to get the vault spot.

      3. Carey would want to win VT though–keep Paseka out of the Olympics totally. If she ends up with the FX spot and Paseka gets the VT spot, she has one more hard competitor to keep her from her Olympic medal. If she gets the VT spot, Paseka has to rely on Russia getting a +1 another way and giving it to her while someone notably lesser can get the FX spot and Jade will still have a decent shot at an FX medal too. She needs to block Paseka out and hope that someone she can easily beat gets the FX spot.

      4. @MollyMonster The problem is that the Careys would likely have to pay for this all themselves. If Jade is already a lock for the floor spot, I can’t see USAG sponsoring her to go to other apparatus finals just to ace out Paseka. And then there’s the issue that going to a bunch of apparatus finals to keep Paseka out doesn’t even guarantee that Paseka doesn’t get to go to the Olympics. She could still be picked to Russia’s team. It would seem like quite a lot of investment on the part of the Careys just for an attempt (that might not even be successful) at keeping one other competitor out of the vault finals.

      5. Right. Worrying about whether or not Paseka goes to the Olympics doesn’t seem like a good use of Jade’s time right now. Her focus needs to be on locking down an Olympic spot, and that means getting one more win on FX. Then, the goal is to stay healthy and perfect her gymnastics for 2020. It’s just way too early to be worrying about who’s going to be in the next Olympic VT final.

  2. Maybe I’m overthinking this, but is it even possible to block another gymnast from winning? If Carey is only eligible for points from 3 events, would the first place points from a non-counting event default to the 2nd place gymnast?

    1. I think the FIG means that a gymnast will get points from every event where they achieve respective ranking, but only the three best rankings/points will count towards Olympic Qualification. That does not need to mean that that gymnast’s other rankings/points shall be reassigned, especially considering that the FIG has not said that they will apply chronological order within the series.
      I have a somewhat similar question. Suppose a gymnast wins 4 or 5 events. Which ones are the 3 counting ones? This becomes relevant in a case another gymnast also wins 4 or 3 events. We may end up with a tie-break situation where we need to compare “The final score of the three counting exercises” added together, but the rules do not specify, which is the counting exercise in case of equal ranks. I assume the logical solution would be to decide such situation in favour of the gymnast, I mean to pick the event where they achieved a higher total score, but I would prefer the FIG had addressed that situation in their rules, rather than to make assumptions.

    2. It wouldn’t be about the points gained though, if someone already has 90 points, they can’t get more. However they still earn the 30 points if they win a 4th Cup. It just doesn’t count toward their total. What the advantage would be in competing is that you are eliminating another gymnast from scoring 90 points. That would create a tie breaker situation. In that case, it comes down tot he average score of your 3 wins. Carey’s counting Cottbus right now where she had a lower score because she was vaulting a Lopez and not the Cheng. Carey going to another event and winning VT would take away a win from Paseka as well increase Carey’s VT average due to dropping Cottbus score on VT.

      For example if Carey and paseka both get 90 points from their three best outings, it would go to tie break.
      Average of 3 best VT wins would determine winner.
      IE- Carey 15.066 Paseka 15.166, then Paseka would get the spot.

      1. This is why Carey should just let VT stand as it is and self-fund her way to another WC to win FX for the full 90 pts on that apparatus. Even if someone else gets 90 pts and it goes to a tiebreak, Jade will win – her massive scores in the mid-14s are untouchable by the others competing for that spot.

  3. I was hoping you’d mention/address some of the articles that have come out on Simone – that her injuries are getting to her, that she’s planning to retire after 2020. She’s been the one without a major injury – I can’t think the least time she missed a meet due to injury – I was convinced they had some next-generation training techniques. But maybe the reality is that no senior gymnast has ever competed pain free, that it’s an integral part of the sport, and that’s a tough pill to swallow.

    Similarly, sounds like Madison Kocian was way more injured at the Olympics than anyone knew.

  4. It’s like we always thought Aly Raisman was so healthy and then it turned out in her book she had a ton of injuries.

  5. To me, Paseka’s vault score is an excellent example of the problem with vault E scores. There is no way a vault that is that messy from start to finish should receive an E score of 8.433. If a gymnast did a routine that was that messy throughout its entirety on any other event her E score would be abysmal. I don’t understand why the form deductions on vault are so similar in magnitude to other events because on vault, one skill is your whole routine. So if you have crossed legs on a triple full on floor, you get a deduction for having crossed legs during 1 out of 8 skills. Then if your legs are crossed in a front double full, you get another deduction. But if you have crossed legs throughout the flight of your vault, you have crossed legs for the majority of your routine, and you get one minor deduction for it. To me, the deductions should be larger to account for how significant the errors are in the context of the routine. With the current code, there is far too much emphasis on chucking a difficult vault and putting it to your feet anyway you can and not nearly enough emphasis on performing a clean vault.

    1. I agree. Her form on her preflight is atrocious, but it looks like they only deduct maybe .3 for the crazy straddled, bent legs. Her Amanar otherwise looks pretty good, but her Cheng is still kinda scary. Jade should still have been further ahead despite the .4 lower D-score. Her form on the Cheng wasn’t great either, but it was definitely better than Paseka’s. I wonder if she is having trouble landing the Amanar cleanly, since we know she has more than enough power for it. the DTY looks way too easy for her.

      1. I’m not even talking about her Cheng in general, I mean this one in particular. Her form on the Cheng is never very good, but this one was not good even compared to what she normally does. If all of her form issues combined with the multiple landing issues she had on the Cheng in EF still merit an E score well over 8.0, then the E scoring of vault needs to be changed.

  6. Hi,
    Where did you find out that World Cup points will be reassigned once athletes become ineligible for having qualified with teams, etc?


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