The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – June 20, 2019

A. US Olympic selection procedures

USAG has been releasing information all over the place this week. You’re shocked I know. (Except for when it comes to the senior national team verification from last weekend, in which case, it didn’t happen.)

Item #1) The 2020 Olympic selection procedures are out, including a couple significant changes from the previous quad.

First, the top TWO all-around gymnasts from Trials will now automatically be named to team. That’s back to how it used to be. In 2016, only the winner of Trials automatically made the team.

So…that’s kind of a lot for a four-person team. That’s half the team. You guys know how I don’t much care for “automatically on the team based on this all-around finish” rules because it can handcuff the ability to select the actual best possible team for a team-final format. Probably won’t, but it could. You might have a Carly 2004 situation that changes up some permutations.

I know they’re trying to make Olympic Trials seem as though it’s not the pointless charade that it obviously has been for the last several quads (like Martha didn’t have that team picked out 6 months beforehand…), but this is not my favorite.

The procedures have also introduced what is already known as the Simone Clause, whereby athletes may now injury petition directly onto the 2020 Olympic team. Pretty obviously the only person who would ever have an injury petition like this accepted is one Simone Andromedon Biles, just in case she’s injured and can’t compete at Trials. (Previously, it was possible to petition to Trials if you were injured, but not onto the team itself.)

But on the previous note, I once again like the opportunity to not be handcuffed by the results of the selection competition, so this allows you to put the person onto the team that you need to get onto the team. Like Simone. Cough Japan cough.

Item #2) USAG also unveiled new Safe Sport policies that are largely of the “shouldn’t that have been the policy already…?” variety. They emphasize reporting obligations on issues like verbal abuse and harassment (which are still the purview of USAG, which is going to keep being a problem) and adds policies regarding private coach/athlete interaction and parents being able to view training.

This is all progress, but I still come back to the issue that as long as one organization is expected to be the safety oversight organization, the athlete advocate, the coach advocate, the club advocate, and a promotion/marketing mechanism, you will have conflicts between those interests and you will have problems, no matter how many well-intentioned policy changes are introduced.

Also, the use of the British spelling of travelling totally makes me think they just copy/pasted these policies from some British organization’s rules. I’m not saying they did, I’m saying I wouldn’t be surprised.

B. Handspring front 2/1

We have a new vault! This week at the Korea Cup, Yeo Seojeong successfully completed the handspring front 2/1. She had attempted this vault before, unsuccessfully, but clearly some progress has been made in the intervening months. At least, you know, in terms of landing on her feet and kind of staying there. It’s nonetheless semi-terrifying.

The vault is a 6.2 D score, ranking it behind the Produnova and the Biles as the third most difficult vault in the code of points, and she managed a 15.100 for this effort. (E judges, meet me at camera 3…)

The cool part of this is the old “injured or happy?” question based on her facial expression afterward. It’s gymnastics. You’re never quite sure.

Yeo took the vault title (in a legit field that also included Chuso and Paseka, so credit there), Lee Yunseo of “we don’t need the Korean” fame won the bars title with a score over 14 to show that she may actually someday fulfill the potential we’ve seen from her on bars, and Luo Huan won the titles on beam and floor in a “you might regret not having the events I can do if you don’t pick me, China” kind of way.

C. Asian Championships

The Korea Cup stole some of the top competitors that might otherwise have ventured to the Asian Championships, which were a little depleted in terms of the field. And by a little depleted, I mean a lot depleted. But, we also got to watch some gymnasts do some hip circles on bars for D scores in the 2s, which is one of my favorite pastimes. (Not sarcastic.)

At the end of two days—because splitting the AA competition up and doing vault and bars one day and beam and floor the next day is all the rage now, sigh—China’s Zhou Ruiyu and Lu Yufei cruised in the all-around with scores in the 53s to go 1-2, with bronze going to Japan’s Natsumi Hanashima. China also dominated the team competition, winning by 5.5 points over Japan, with South Korea in third.

In the men’s competition, Lee Chih Kai won the all-around title over Hu Xuwei and Liu Rongbing of China. It’s not exactly China’s A team, but beating the Chinese MAG at anything…you take it. Liu probably would have been favored here going in, but a HB-tastrophe took him down to third. Milad Karimi also finished a surprisingly low 10th after pommels went…nope.

China did take the men’s team competition title—though Japan’s R team kept it fairly close—with Taiwan finishing in third place. Event finals still to come.

D. This weekend

You’re all commanded to watch the American Classic this weekend, which will be streaming on USAG’s YT, so you can talk about all the new juniors you just invented starting now and those three and a quarter seniors who are there.

The format and times of the competition have been changed (two days before the event, you know, like one does) so that the first session (10:15am MT) remains juniors only but the second session (1:45pm MT) will be juniors/seniors combined.

We also have the conclusion of the Asian Championships, for which there has been streaming, and some other results to watch, including from Dutch nationals.

Next week, action at Junior worlds and the European Games begins on Thursday the 27th, so it’s about to get…I don’t know…interesting or whatever? There will be things to shove your eye holes in front of.

E. GymCastic

Bela and Nunno and complaining about them! That’s basically the deal in this week’s commissioned episode.

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