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Things Are Happening – May 24, 2019


A. NCAA code changes

Acting in his official capacity as essential interpreter between the NCAA coaches and us lowly peasants, Greg Marsden has kept us updated on the decisions made by the WCGA about rule changes in NCAA for next season.

The big-girl committee votes in June on whether to adopt any of these things for realsies, so for the moment consider these merely as proposals.

The big headline is the lowering of the base value of routines from 9.5 to 9.4. Currently, routines start at 9.5 and have to earn 5 tenths of bonus to get up to a 10.0 start. With a 9.4 base instead, everyone would now have to earn 6 tenths of bonus to get up to 10.0.

What I like about this proposal is that it functions as a relatively non-micromanaged way of encouraging a little more risk. It says you have to do something else, but it’s up to you what that something is. An understandable criticism of more specific changes like requiring a same-bar release (which was not recommended by the WCGA) is that it would lead to even more boring and compulsory routine construction than we have now.

Part of the hope from the 9.4 proposal is that teams will have to get a little more creative in adding that extra tenth of risk so that we’re not seeing the same routine over and over and over again. I also hope this would help brings bars, beam, and floor a little more into line with vault, where much of the lineup on most teams is not starting from a 10 these days. If we see more teams say, “Well, we’re just going to have to put up a 9.9 start or two on floor now,” I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think that’s a positive for keeping the events scoring similarly and a positive for differentiation.

Of course, in reality everyone’s just going to figure out the lamest and most boring possible way of adding another tenth and do that. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t going to affect too many routines on the very top teams, where the majority of gymnasts already have more than 5 tenths of bonus—or have options of easily adding another tenth that they’ve only chosen not to perform because there’s no point.

As a way of undercutting its own decision and rendering it kind of toothless (the NCAA gymnastics special), some bonus and skill values have been increased accordingly with the lowering of the base value. You can check out Marsden’s thread for the whole rundown of skills.

On bars, those who have a D same-bar release or an E transition would get an extra tenth of bonus and therefore wouldn’t need to alter their routines. People with Shap + bail and a DLO or FTDT dismount would also not have to change their routines because that content already gets 6 tenths in bonus. So don’t expect to see a lot of changes in bars composition next season.

I would have preferred to see some other adjustments considered on bars—saying that a bail doesn’t fulfill the turning element requirement anymore (you should have to show the ability to pirouette as part of your breadth of bars competency) or downgrading the DLO and FTDT dismounts from E to D—to require a little bit more be done on the bars, but no luck.

On beam, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the idea of the double wolf turn being bumped up from D to E. Fun. So very fun. Because when I watch NCAA, I think, “This really needs more people attempting double wolf turns.” They’re also planning to bump up some CV for combination dismounts, but one thing I really like is the proposal that acro + dismount combinations on beam can no longer fulfill up to level.

What that means: Currently, if you are fulfilling your acro series requirement with a combination that does not receive connection bonus—so combinations like bhs+layout stepout or aerial+bhs—you then have to include an additional D acro element or E dance element somewhere else in your routine. Otherwise you’ll be hit with a 0.1 up-to-level deduction.

Lately, we’ve seen a lot of people fulfill this requirement with a side aerial + layout full dismount combo, the side aerial being that additional D acro element. Under the new proposal, that combination would no longer avoid the UTL deduction, so gymnasts would have to add some other risk into the routine as well. I’m super sick of the side aerial + layout full dismount, so I’m on board here.

On floor, to help people get up to their 6 tenths of bonus, gymnasts would now receive an additional tenth of bonus for finishing routines with a double salto or an E pass. So basically, anyone finishing with a double tuck or a double pike doesn’t have to change her routine, but people finishing with a rudi will have to add an extra tenth of bonus somewhere else to get back to a 10.0 start. In theory, I like it. In reality, it means that we’re just going to see gymnasts switch the order of their passes to they can open with a rudi and finish with a double tuck.

No change on gymnasts being able to get away with doing switch side + popa and no other dance elements, I see.

B. Osijek World Cup

Qualifications have wrapped up at Osijek in relatively non-dramatic fashion. We have many more competitors here than at Zhaoqing—a function of being in Europe and convenient for the European countries and all—so it was tougher to make finals, but not tough enough that those with top difficulty couldn’t absorb a fall.

Anastasia Agafonova of Russia is the top qualifier on bars, despite falling on a piked Jaeger, because she has an advantage of at least a point in D score over the rest of the field. She’ll win the title if she hits in the final. Angelina Radivilova was also able to absorb a missed routine in qualification and still place in the top 8.

Miracle upon miracles, both Romanians (Mihai and Ghiciuc) hit beam in qualification to advance in 2nd and 3rd positions, just behind Radivilova, but sadly Adela Sajn missed out in 9th place. Home-nation hopes Ana Derek on floor and Tijaca Tklacec on vault also advanced to their finals.

On the men’s side, the organizers held PBars on the first day and rings on the second day, so the entire competition is canceled. Israel has sent much of the top gang, so expect Dolgopyat and Medvedev to star on floor and vault respectively, and Croatian Tin Srbic was able to qualify comfortably on HB despite doing his way-easy routine. He did just a 5.4 D score and could add as much as a point to that in the final if he wanted to.

Finals are Saturday and Sunday—Saturday at 10:00am ET/7:00am PT and Sunday at 9:00am ET/6:00am PT—streaming on the Olympic Channel.

C. Australian and Canadian Nationals

Lest Europe be allowed to have all the fun, this weekend is also treating us to Australian and Canadian national championships.

The first day of competition in Australia has already concluded, and on the men’s side Mitchell Morgans leads the AA standings. (Well, actually Ethan Dick got the highest score among the competitors, but being from New Zealand, GET OUT.)

Friend of the gymternet Heath Thorpe placed 6th AA with top-6 finishes on FX, SR, VT, and HB. And also they made him do pommel horse and PBars, which is not fair.

On the women’s side, Georgia Godwin has made her triumphant return to sit in 1st place after the first day, just out-touching Georgia-Rose Brown by less than a tenth of a point. Those two have a serious lead over the rest of the field, with Emily Whitehead in third, followed by Kate McDonald and Emma Nedov. Talia Folino recorded the top score on vault, Godwin leads on bars and floor, and Brown leads on beam.

Finals are on Sunday, which will be Saturday night for those of us in the US.

The elite division of Canadian Nationals is just getting underway as I type with the first day of junior women’s competition. The senior women will compete today at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT, streaming on FLO, and competition continues with the men on Saturday and finals for everyone on Sunday.

On the women’s senior side, we’re all looking forward to the latest edition of the Black/Padurariu clash after Padurariu took the AA title at Elite Canada. Shallon Olsen and Brooklyn Moors will also be in action, along with the Woos and all your other typical favorites. It’s an exciting group.

D. So Long Terin

So, less than a month after Terin Humphrey decided to lose her mind on Facebook, she has been removed from her position as athlete representative on the selection committee.

Paul Ruggeri issued the Bye Bish Address:

Hmm, it’s almost like they don’t want you behaving unprofessionally on social media as a public representative of their organization or something. What a strange concept.

This shouldn’t have been an issue in the first place because Terin had already been in the position longer than the Daniels Report said an athlete rep should be in the position, but USAG didn’t so much care about that part.

I’ll maintain that I don’t think it was the original reposting of that stupid meme that got her, as much as I had a problem with that. I think it was the secondary rant and the doubling down against John Manly when USAG is desperate to stop looking like the bad guy…and is also clearly incapable of doing so.

What we’re seeing again and again from those within gymnastics is remnants of this mindset that being an accomplished coach (or whatever the job may be) is all that matters. The Karolyi effect. They were successful, so who the hell cares about the rest.

What you say and how you present yourself matters too. Even if you’re the greatest coach in history, you can’t act all trashy online and still expect to turn around and have these high-profile jobs because in these jobs, when you speak, you’re speaking for everyone. I mean, have you never had a job before?

E. NCAA coaching

Kristina Comforte has been announced as Associate Head Coach at UCLA.

Comforte has been a coach at Illinois and IGI since graduating from UCLA and seems a comfortable fit, though the interesting part of the hire is the associate title. That’s a title that typically goes to someone who has a level of seniority with the program (or another top program) or is a potential successor as head coach. Has UCLA found its head-coach-of-the-future to groom for the job?

We’re now still looking for one more member to round out Waller’s coaching staff. (Randy Lane is not going to continue with the program.)

F. GymCastic

Commission season! This week, an episode all about the Soviet/Romanian rivalry of the 1980s, complete with stories about cheating scores, team protest walkouts, and gymnast IMPOSTERS.

Next week’s commission will be the team competition, compulsories and optionals, from the 1988 Olympics. So get watching if you want to have done all the homework by the time the episode goes up.

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