The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – July 18, 2019

A. Worlds draw

The world championships “drawing of lots” (just say draw) has been revealed to us lowly peasants, and it’s…fine.

For the women, China, Canada, France, Romania, Germany, Belgium, Australia, and Ukraine were given the first day of qualification, which means that the US, Russia, Japan, the Netherlands, Italy, and GB got the second day. Australia and Ukraine have been placed in the first subdivision, so there’s some hemming and hawing about what that means for Olympic qualification chances. There is, however, not too much actual evidence to support the idea that competing in the first group is devastating in the open code era.

Last year, Belgium, Argentina, and Poland got put in the first subdivision, and Argentina and Poland were both able to qualify teams in the top 24 despite that being a borderline prospect heading into the competition, while Derwael recorded a bars score that held up in first place and an all-around score that held up in 4th place through to the end of the two days, in addition to her making the beam final with the #2 execution score given out across the whole two days. If you have the routines, you have the routines, and the judges have been willing to be there for you, even in early subdivisions. Sure, it’s going to be a challenge for Australia and Ukraine to make the Olympics and will require not counting falls in qualification, but that would be true regardless of the draw.

The US will compete in the final subdivision of the second day, beginning on floor, Russia competes late on the second day, and China and Canada compete in the final session of the first day.

Refreshingly, the top qualifier will go last in the women’s vault, bars, and floor finals, and second-to-last in the beam final, though why we can’t just have them compete in reverse qualification order is still a mystery to me. When the best people go up first, it turns into the most anticlimactic final.

Contrary to the definitive registrations (BUT I THOUGHT THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE DEFINITIVE), Poland is sending two people to worlds rather than one, so we may not face the Pihan-Kulesza/Janik problem after all.

The men’s draw contains 25 teams and not the typical 24 because Australia is also able to send a team to fulfill continental representation despite finishing 25th at worlds last year. Russia is the lone top men’s team competing on the first day, with Japan, China, the US and Great Britain all drawn into the second day. The US and Japan are paired together in the first subdivision on day 2.

B. NCAA transfer window

The hills are alive with the sound of transfers. First, Samantha Sakti has transferred from William & Mary to UCLA following her freshman season. Sakti peaked out at 9.925 on floor, 9.875 on beam, and 9.800 on vault last season. Obviously, it’s going to be quite a bit more difficult to make a UCLA lineup, but she has a high level full-in on floor that should make her at least a legitimate contender for that lineup. Sakti has a reasonable beam routine and good amplitude on a full on vault, so she could see time or be an exhibition/depth option kind of thing, though I’d say floor is the most likely place we’ll see her.

Maddie Quarles has transferred from Denver to Minnesota following a freshman season in which she dealt with injuries and we never ended up seeing a routine from her. Quarles was expected to contribute to Denver’s lineups on the leg events since she did show a Y1.5 in JO in 2017 and has E tumbling options.

Allie Smith has transferred from EMU to Washington for her senior season. She’s a vault and floor athlete who can supplement Washington on the exact events where the team was a little too thin last season, especially with a tucked Y1.5 on vault that I assume Washington will want to get into that lineup.

In non-transfer news, we learned that Abi Walker—former elite from Texas Dreams—is heading to Penn State in the fall. She was previously supposed to be a Georgia for the 2021 season.

Another important note in the NCAA world: an OU women’s gymnastics movie is being planned, telling the story of how EVIL BRENNA left the team in the lurch in 2016 by trying to pursue the Olympics and yet they still managed to win a national title. Or at least that’s how I read this description and casting notice, and I’m cackling. “Thin, white brunette with ponytail needed to play entire team.”

C. July schedule

US Classic, the European Youth Olympic Festival, and Pan Am Games will round out the month, so here’s what you need to keep track of.

July 19
2:30pm ET/11:30am PT – Hopes Championship

July 20
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – US Classic juniors
6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT – US Classic seniors (Olympic Channel)

July 23
2:00am ET/11:00pm PT – EYOF – MAG Qualification/TF 1
5:45am ET/2:45am PT – EYOF – MAG Qualification/TF 2
8:45am ET/5:45am PT – EYOF – MAG Qualification/TF 3

July 24
2:00am ET/11:00pm PT – EYOF – WAG Qualification/TF 1
4:00am ET/1:00am PT – EYOF – WAG Qualification/TF 2
7:00am ET/4:00am PT – EYOF – WAG Qualification/TF 3
9:15am ET/6:15am PT – EYOF – WAG Qualification/TF 4

July 25
4:00am ET/1:00am PT – EYOF – MAG All-Around Final
8:00am ET/5:00am PT – EYOF – WAG All-Around Final

July 26
6:00am ET/3:00am PT – EYOF – Event Finals Day 1

July 27
6:00am ET/3:00am PT – EYOF – Event Finals Day 1
4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT – Pan Am Games – WAG Qualification/TF 1 – Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Jamaica, Dom Rep, Cayman Is
6:20pm ET/3:20pm PT – Pan Am Games – WAG Qualification/TF 2  – Chile, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Colombia, Guatemala, Venezuela, Panama
9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT – Pan Am Games – WAG Qualification/TF 3 –
USA, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Uruguay, Bolivia

July 28
5:30pm ET/2:30pm PT – Pan Am Games – MAG Qualification/TF 1 – Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Ecuador, Dom Rep, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Bolivia
9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT – Pan Am Games – MAG Qualification/TF 2  – USA, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, Peru, Jamaica, T & T, Costa Rica

July 29
2:00pm ET/11:00am PT – Pan Am Games – WAG All-Around Final
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT – Pan Am Games – MAG All-Around Final

July 30
2:00pm ET/11:00am PT – Pan Am Games – Event Finals Day 1

July 31
2:00pm ET/11:00am PT – Pan Am Games – Event Finals Day 2

D. GymCastic

Our latest episode is a US Classic preview where (spoiler alert) we don’t mention every single gymnast in the competition, plus special guest Lindsey Green went to see the Magnificent Seven musical and YOU GUYS.

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