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Things Are Happening – April 9, 2019


A. European Championships

Thought you had a moment of peace? Wrong. Euros.

Podium training is already complete, and competition begins tomorrow with men’s qualification. The big news so far on the women’s side is all the absences. Aliya was originally not named to the Russian team, but then she was named to the Russian team because of Russia things, and then she was like, “actually pass…”

Nina Derwael and Axelle Klinckaert are not there either, nor are Zsofia Kovacs, Elisabeth Seitz, or Kim Bui. And Steingruber and Becky Downie and Sanne Wevers are all still out. So it will be difficult to find the point.

On the fun side, we do have Eythora, Melanie DJDS, Ellie Downie, Angelina Melnikova and the Russian gang, Pauline Schäfer, all of the new Italian seniors, and Diana Varinska.

Last year, De Jesus Dos Santos won the unofficial AA title (there was no actual all-around competition in 2018, just like there’s no team competition this year), and if she elects to compete all events, she’ll be a major contender again, along with Melnikova. Though you wouldn’t really be surprised if Giorgia Villa is just like, “I LIVE NOW” and gets a huge AA score. And if you’re a fan of investing in sugarplum dreams and then getting your heart broken, a good day from Ellie Downie and Diana Varinska and Eythora Thorsdottir could put them up there.

Maria Paseka enters as the comfortable favorite for the vault title, with Coline Devillard likely her best challenger. In the absence of Derwael on bars, we’re looking at Anastasia Iliankova with the best chance at a high score, with Jonna Adlerteg there for a good shot at a medal. It’s not a super deep bars field with so many major contenders missing, so people like Melnikova, Varinska, Villa, and Ellie Downie may also fancy their chances at a medal.

On beam, Pauline Schäfer and Marine Boyer come in with the most famous track records of success, and we’re obviously going to need Eythora to make the final as well. On floor, if Melnikova has worked out her passes since nationals, she can snatch an excellent score, though Fragapane is also back to make a run at that one, and of course we know MDJDS can get big scores there.

On the men’s side, Oleg is slated to compete here following his decision to live the rest of his life as a hospital (which we totally respect and support), so that will be interesting. All of the best boys from Turkey and Switzerland and Great Britain are attending to make our lives a better place, and Russia is going to win…most of the medals?

Thankfully, the European Championship may have its life together this year because there is streaming, even of qualification. We can make this work.

Here’s the schedule with US time zones for our pitiful American eyes.

Wednesday, April 10
4am ET/1am PT – MAG Subdivision 1
(CRO – Srbic; ISR – Medvedev; ARM – A Davtyan)

8am ET/5am PT – MAG Subdivision 2
(UKR – Verniaiev & Radivilov; RUS – Abliazin & Lankin; TUR – Yusof & Baumann; TUR – Arican & Onder; GBR – Hall & Fraser; FRA – Frasca; ROU – Dragulescu)

11am ET/8am PT – MAG Subdivision 3
(RUS – Dalaloyan & Nagornyy; GBR – Bevan & Whitlock & Cunningham & Tulooch; ISR – Dolgopyat & Shatilov; NED – Zonderland & Schmidt; GER – Nguyen; SUI – Hegi)

Thursday, April 11
4am ET/1am PT –WAG Subdivision 1
(RUS – Paseka & Iliankova; FRA – Boyer & Charpy; UKR – Bachynska & Osipova)

7:30am ET/4:30am PT – WAG Subdivision 2
(GBR – Downie & Morgan; ITA – Asia D’Amato & Villa; SWE – Adlerteg; GER – Schäfer; ROU – Ivanus)

10am ET/7am PT – WAG Subdivision 3
(ROU – Golgota & Ghiciuc; ITA – Alice D’Amato & Iorio)

12:30pm ET/9:30am PT – WAG Subdivision 4
(RUS – Melnikova & Simakova; FRA: De Jesus Dos Santos & Devillard; NED – Thorsdottir; GBR – Kinsella & Fragapane; UKR – Varinska & Radivilova)

Friday, April 12
7am ET/4am PT – MAG All-Around

11:30am ET/8:30am PT – WAG All-Around

Saturday, April 13
7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Event Finals Day 1

Sunday, April 14
7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Event Finals Day 2

B. USAG Nationals

Your college championship assignment this weekend is USAG Collegiate Nationals — the national championship for schools that have fewer than 7.5 scholarships instead of the typical 12.

The favorites for the team title will be Lindenwood, just coming off a regionals appearance, and the team that Lindenwood beat out for that regionals position, UIC. But also don’t count out hosts Bridgeport or an Air Force team that just went 195.725 to win the MPSF conference title.

The top two in each semifinal advance to the four-team final on Saturday.

Friday, April 12
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – USAG Championship Semifinal 1
Air Force
West Chester
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – USAG Championship Semifinal 2
Saturday, April 13
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – USAG Championship Team Final
Sunday, April 14
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – USAG Championship Event Finals

The team qualifiers are also joined by individuals from Brown, Centenary, Seattle Pacific, SEMO, Southern Connecticut, and Penn.

I’ll add a streaming link and live scoring link here when we know what they are.

C. Tokyo World Cup

Lost (at least for me) in the hubbub of regionals weekend was the Tokyo World Cup, the final all-around world cup event in this year’s four-meet series.

On the women’s side, your three standouts were Morgan Hurd, Ellie Black, and Asuka Teramoto, who took the medals in that order. Hurd was a sorceress to save a DTY after she nearly missed her hand, and to save a switch ring on beam where nearly zero feet landed on the beam, but keeping those routines together proved to be just enough. It allowed her to use superior scores on bars and floor to take the title, only a smidge ahead of Ellie Black, who stuck her handspring front full on vault and was exceptionally secure on beam. Teramoto shined with her rudi on vault, which gave her the lead after one event, and a fab whip whip 3/1 on floor.

Next year, these all-around events will have Olympic qualification implications, with the three best countries overall at the end of the four events earning non-nominative places at the Olympics. If that had been the case this year, those extra spots for WAG would have gone to the US, Canada, and Japan. I know. No Russia, no China.

On the men’s side, those spots would have gone to the US, Russia, and China, with Sam Mikulak lifting the US to first place in the final standings with his victorious performance in Tokyo, where he hit all the events, even high bar, at the end of the meet, when he had to hit to win.

Because the US men are looking pretty unlikely to get an extra spot from the apparatus WCs at this point, getting one of these AA spots next year becomes exceptionally important in the quest to have a full Olympic team of 4+2. They’ll once again have to fend off Russia and China in addition to a Japanese squad that will presumably take this a lot more “we’re sending our best people to each event” next year. Lots of work for Mikulak and Moldauer you can assume. Next year isn’t going to be “let’s see who we can give an international assignment.” It’s going to be “Dear Sam, we need to win these meets. Go everywhere.”

Also, Bart, we’re worried about you and your head after all those Cassina falls.

D. NCAA coaching carousel

It’s not all about the Val. Mark Cook, who has been head coach at Arkansas since its inaugural season in 2003, announced today that he will also be retiring after 16 seasons. The carousel begins again. Where she stops…not yet.

Recently, it has seemed like Arkansas was setting things up for an inside hire with the crew of Jaime Pisani Armbrust and the McCools—promoting Jaime and Mr. McCool to associate head coach positions before the season—but you never know.

That means we already have an open UCLA position, and an open Arkansas position, and an open Central Michigan position (that’s not official yet because Reighard is just on “administrative leave,” but we know where that’s going), plus retirements from Seattle Pacific and Southern Connecticut. Who’s next?

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