The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Valentina: “Hold My Furs”

Not one to be outdone by a dramatic team announcement, Valentina Rodionenko immediately followed the US women’s worlds team announcement by emerging from a cloud of smoke going, “AND ALSO I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY,” revealing that Angelina Simakova has been removed from the Russian worlds team in favor of…dun dun dun…Maria Paseka.

So now the Russian squad is composed of Angelina Melnikova, Lilia Akhaimova, Aleksandra Schekoldina, Daria Spiridonova, Anastasia Agafonova, and Maria Paseka. We still don’t know what this means in terms of alternates, but we can hazard a guess.

Now only three of these six gymnasts…even…do floor?…so I’m thinking those three absolutely have to be on the team—Melnikova, Akhaimova, and Schekoldina. I’m already super excited at the idea of unearthing one of the others to do floor in qualification, but Russia could also just go 3-up, 3-count there. This was formerly a super strong Russian floor team, and it can still be strong, but only if those exact three are good to go. Otherwise disaster, with no alternate providing a safety net.

As for the other three, I don’t know why you would add Paseka to the team if she were just to be the alternate, so I’m thinking that either Spiridonova and Agafonova must be intended as the alternate, especially because they have the exact same strengths. Presumably the method for determining which one is the alternate will be as follows: Valentina throws a baby in between both of them, and whoever catches the baby is off the team because she doesn’t have the proper priorities.

Agafonova’s scores from the Paris World Cup were stronger than Spiridonova’s scores from Russian Cup, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Agafonova is NEW FAVORITE and gets named to the team.

Overall, this team just got a little more terrifying. If possible. There’s potential for a scoring upgrade if Paseka’s vaults are on track more than they were at Russian Cup, but no margin for error or injury on floor now. I also would have used Simakova on bars and…probably/maybe beam ish…and now you’re short an option and some potential tenths on both pieces.

France and Italy just got more excited about their chances, is what I’m saying.

Other team news

Australia named its WAG six as Georgia Godwin, Georgia-Rose Brown, Emma Nedov, Talia Folino, Kate McDonald, and Breanna Scott, but then Scott immediately had to withdraw due to injury and was replaced by Kate Sayer. Presumably Sayer is your alternate.

Belgium has named its WAG team as Nina Derwael, Maellyse Brassart, Jade Vansteenkiste, Margaux Daveloose, Senna Deriks, and Julie Vandamme, once again with the alternate to be decided later. Based on the meet in Germany, I’d say the alternate should be Vandamme (she didn’t rotate with the main team there and had some lower scores).

On the latest nominative roster update, Maria Pana has been slipped into Romania’s team in place of Iulia Berar. Pana’s scores at Romanian nationals were rather low, so I’d expect the team of five will now be Golgota, Crisan, Puiu, Holbura, and Ghiciuc, with Pana as the alternate, but we shall see. Romania things. Who knows. There will obviously be 7 hospitalizations before podium training.

Epke lives! Epke Zonderland, who was not originally on the nominative roster, has been added to the Dutch team of six.

Giulianna Pino—who competed at worlds in 2015 and then was on the UCLA roster for a couple years after that—has been added as Ecuador’s representative, replacing Genesis Gibson.

The nominative roster has also switched up the team for Mexico, putting Frida Esparza into the first five names and switching her with Jimena Gutierrez, who is now listed 6th. Based on Esparza’s bars routine from Guimaraes…yeah, she needs to be on that team.

Rounding up some other previous developments: Brazil confirmed that Carolyne Pedro is on the team of five while Leticia Costa is the traveling alternate, and Kelly Simm is the alternate for GB in place of the injured Amelie Morgan.

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