The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – December 20, 2019

A. American Cup

USAG announced the first entrants for the American Cup, revealing that Morgan Hurd and Sam Mikulak will grace us with their presences—with the second US gymnast for each division to be named later. Presumably, the selection of Hurd is designed specifically to shut up those of us who still aren’t done talking about the worlds selection process. Nice try.

The sub-announcement here is that Simone will not be competing at American Cup, because otherwise…they would have announced her. I’m guessing Simone will end up going to the Tokyo one because of Olympic host and whatnot.

This American Cup will be different from any other American Cup because of its status as an Olympic qualifier. It’s the first event in the series to determine which three countries on the women’s side and men’s side will earn an additional +1 Olympian to go to Tokyo along with their already qualified teams of four.

All 12 nations that qualified teams to the Olympics are eligible to send athletes to AA world cups this year, so with the extra wildcard spot that the US receives as host, that means we’ll have 13 men and 13 women competing at American Cup rather than the traditional nine. Because of that, the competition has had to make a slight format change.

Instead of the usual system—where the men would start with floor and horse and then the women (and NBC) would join the competition in the third rotation—the men and women will be competing in two entirely separate sessions, with the women in the usual time slot and the men competing later in the afternoon. This is absolutely necessary because American Cup is already wayyyy too long, and now you’re adding a bunch more gymnasts. It needed to be split up. For my sake, if no one else’s.

This is also a win for dedicated MAG fans because they’ll see more routines than the usual 3.75, though probably a loss for men’s gymnastics exposure because you know the women will still be on NBC and the men will at best be on NBCSN, if not just on streaming.

I’ll be interested to see the rest of the AA world cup selections for the US men this year because unlike the women (who can send all different people to the different meets and still be comfortable winning the series) the men don’t have that luxury and need to be very strategic about who they’re sending to which meets to try to place in that top 3—without breaking Mikulak by just sending him to all of them.

B. UCLA Signings

Because only losers announce all their signings during signing week anymore, UCLA yesterday added two additional gymnasts to its class for the 2021 season—scrappy little nobodies named Emma Malabuyo and Ana Padurariu.

Malabuyo and Padurariu are huge recruiting gets and could both be massive stars in college gymnastics…but also have extensive injury histories that mean their signings do not come without risk. The class they’re joining (which also includes Jordan Chiles, Frida Esparza, and Chae Campbell) will have to do a loooooooot to replace this year’s seniors and can’t afford critical members to be all, “Oh actually I’m super broken from elite and my back is just spiders and I won’t compete.” They have to do much routines. Many 10.

There’s still as yet no word on Brooklyn Moors, who is also theoretically supposed to be part of this class but wasn’t in the initial announcement or the Malabuyo/Padurariu announcement.

C. What Else?

-Andreea Raducan was like GET ME OUT OF THIS and resigned from her position atop the Romanian federation because she doesn’t need that shit. Hasn’t the woman been through enough? And now you’re going to try to make her fix that basket of snakes?

-Amy White of “bring me the secret documents and the toe of a pregnant newt, don’t ask why” fame is no longer with USAG starting now mysteriously. Also Maggie Haney’s hearing is going to be in January.

-Kenzito is competing again, showing a 6.9 D score on floor at the Toyota International. Meanwhile, Melnikova arrived at the women’s competition and said, “ALL THE TITLES ARE MY TITLES.”

D. GymCastic

In our final episode of the year, we catch up on all the news from December, including a discussion of the Jon Horton twitter dust-up re: the Simone tour (about which I have some feelings on the undercurrent of resentment of women’s success that tinges so many of the comments about “just wanting to grow MAG”) and the Russian Olympic ban that’s totally not going to end up being a ban, you guys. When Russians win gold, they’ll just raise a flag of Valentina’s face and play “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” and you’ll barely know the difference.

We also hand out our very serious Best of 2019 Awards and discuss our Best of the Decade lists.

#NeverForget

E. OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeee

I’m going gymternet silent for the next nine days, but I have scheduled pieces to run here and there during that period (more team previews, the updated WTF Is NCAA Scoring posts), so you won’t notice I’m gone. Like when you put the pillow in the bed in movies so your parents don’t know you’ve snuck out and how that’s definitely a real thing that works.

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