Things Are Happening – February 7, 2020

A. Maggie Haney suspended

The long-delayed Maggie Haney hearing finally started this week and within 13 seconds resulted in a provisional suspension, pending the results of the hearing and investigation into allegations of verbal abuse such as threats, bullying, and harassment in addition to having gymnasts compete while injured.

It is at least somewhat encouraging that USAG has decided the prospect of garbage behavior like that gets you a suspension now, instead of a cake like before. Cut to the other elite coaches hiding their Most Verbal Abuse trophies from previous quads.

For now, Maggie has been added to the suspended members list and prohibited from contact with minors. There is a logistical wrinkle to this since Riley McCusker is 18 and could therefore continue to train with Maggie should she so choose—but there could not be any minor gymnasts in the gym at the time, and Maggie couldn’t coach at camp or at meets. So basically she’s suspended from coaching for the time being.

Meanwhile, let’s just copy and paste this from 1900 other posts at this point: Listen to people when they tell you about their own experiences. Don’t listen to people when they tell you about the experiences of others and what obviously could not possibly have happened, because they’ve never seen it. The egotism in that attitude remains remarkable to me. As though your personal experience is more accurate or important than others, or is universal fact that can be exactly mapped onto all other people. You don’t know. We don’t know. We weren’t there. So just listen.

B. Simone’s Yurchenko double pike

In fun news, Simone posted a video that you’ve definitely seen by now of her doing a Yurchenko double pike into a pit. It’s into a pit, so…you know…just, settle. But also, it’s Simone. And cool. And remarkable how realistic it looks as a proposition. She’s completing that vault early enough to try to land it for realsies, even though the only possible reason to do this vault is just to say that she can, and did.

Because nerd, my favorite part of this whole thing is theorizing about the prospective value of a Yurchenko double pike, since we don’t really have any equivalent skill values to go on by comparison.

Currently, the highest-valued vaults in the code are the Prod and the Biles at 6.4. This would certainly be the most difficult vault in the code, so as a start, it has to be above 6.4. In considering the value of the double pike, we also have to leave room for a prospective value of a Yurchenko double tuck, should someone do it. Because the code has started regularizing the value of individual vault upgrades at 0.4 each, we can assume that the double pike would be 0.4 more than the double tuck, which is a helpful standard to go on. I would also consider the Yurchenko double tuck to be more difficult than any vaults in the current code, so I’d say you put the prospective double tuck at 6.6. The code tends to like to go with even numbers for no reason, but I’m not complaining because it makes me feel safe—counting backwards by evens is so much more relaxing than counting backwards by odds, am I right? AMIRIGHT?

So if you theorize that the double tuck should be 6.6, then the double pike would go to 7.0.

I’m not saying that’s what the WTC would do. I’m saying that’s what I would do (there’s actually also a solid argument for the double pike at 7.2). The most likely thing the WTC would do is consider the Yurchenko double tuck at the same value as the Produnova at 6.4—those vaults are the same value in the men’s code, and the FIG likes to pretend the MAG and WAG codes are the same sometimes—and then go 6.8 for the Yurchenko double pike. That’s my guess. Or, they could consider the double tuck 6.2 and go 6.6 for the double pike if they really want to be dicks, but the outrage would be immense.

Or, they’ll just say it’s too “dangerous” and give it 2.4. WTC things.

C. World cup rosters

The rosters for the all-around world cups in Stuttgart and Birmingham have no been released, so let’s go through them.

Stuttgart men
David Belyavskiy (RUS)
Oleg Verniaiev (UKR)
Lin Chaopan (CHN)
Kazuma Kaya (JPN)
Yul Moldauer (USA)
James Hall (GBR)
Pablo Braegger (SUI)
Nestor Abad (ESP)
Andy Toba (GER)
Lukas Dauser (GER – wildcard)
Caio Souza (BRA)
Tang Chia-Hung (TPE)

Stuttgart women
Sunisa Lee (USA)
Angelina Melnikova (RUS)
Ana Padurariu (CAN)
Asia D’Amato (ITA)
Elisabeth Seitz (GER)
Kim Bui (GER – wildcard)
Asuka Teramoto (JPN)
Kelly Simm (GBR)
Tisha Volleman (NED)
Wei Xiaoyuan (CHN)
Aline Friess (FRA)
Alba Petisco (ESP)
Senna Deriks (BEL)

Birmingham men
Sun Wei (CHN)
Oleg Verniaiev (UKR)
Nikita Ignatyev (RUS)
Joe Fraser (GBR)
Giarnni Regini-Moran (GBR – wildcard)
Kazuma Kaya (JPN)
Ahmet Onder (TUR)
Yul Moldauer (USA)
Pablo Braegger (SUI)
Diogo Soares (BRA)
Joel Plata (ESP)
Lukas Dauser (GER)
Tang Chia-Hung (TPE)

Birmingham women
Grace McCallum (USA)
Alice Kinsella (GBR)
Ellie Downie (GBR – wildcard)
Alice D’Amato (ITA)
Ana Padurariu (CAN)
Elisabeth Seitz (GER)
Aleksandra Shchekoldina (RUS)
Marine Boyer (FRA)
Zhang Jin (CHN)
Cintia Rodriguez (ESP)
Vera Van Pol (NED)
Hitomi Hatakeda (JPN)
Maellyse Brassart (BEL)

–Anyone else think it’s weird that Ellie is the wildcard in Birmingham while Kinsella is the GB athlete whose result counts for Olympic points?
–Birmingham presents another event where Russia is not sending its very best new WAG seniors. Is this a try? Did Valentina get them all arrested for eating dairy already? Russia will be favored to get an extra Olympic spot out of the European Champs but isn’t necessarily going to get one from the apparatus WCs, and therefore kind of…needs the all-around to get to 6 Olympians? Are you going to screw this up, Russia?
–Obviously Oleg is going to all of them because Oleg. But we also have Pablo Braegger giving him a run by being on the list for the first three events, as is Yul Moldauer. Looks like Mikulak will do American Cup and Tokyo, and Moldauer will do Stuttgart and Birmingham (while also being the WC at American Cup).
–Ana Padurariu is on the list for both Stuttgart and Birmingham and if she survives, it will have been a gift from the heavens.
–Italy WAG really does have every opportunity to get an Olympic spot from the AA world cups.

Meanwhile, in American Cup developments, new British senior Jennifer Gadirova will replace the still-injured Amelie Morgan, while Rene Cournoyer has been selected to fill out the final men’s place, which means that Korea, Italy, France, Turkey, and Kazakhstan all declined the spot first.

For now, Chinese gymnasts still appear on the lists for the all-around world cups and the Melbourne apparatus world cup, but coronavirus-panic travel bans may make it impossible for them to travel to compete. It’s a sucky situation but one without an obvious fair solution. The Iranian gymnasts who’ve apparently had their visas denied are also still on the list as of now, and we can only hope it will remain that way.

D. Elite Canada

Canada’s first big competition of the elite season gets underway today, and the gang’s all there—including Ellie Black, scheduled to make her competition return from injury, and Shallon Olsen because…why the hell not? (Note that Olsen is still on the list of competitors but is not present on the start list for Friday night when Alabama is also competing, you know, in a whole different country. Rose Woo is another on the original roster who does not appear on the day 1 start list.)

Ellie Black is typically the default favorite at all Canadian competitions, though it will be worth watching her level at this point because I wouldn’t expect her to be full Ellie-Blacking it at this point (and, tellingly, she isn’t on the list for any of the first three AA world cups), which could provide an opening for the likes of Ana Padurariu and Brooklyn Moors.

Senior competition begins at 8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT on Friday and continues with the second day on Sunday at 5:00pm ET/2:00pm PT. The juniors start on Saturday at 11:30am ET/8:30am PT and continue with the second day at the same time on Sunday. The competition is on FLO, and full scoring and stream links can be found at the Streams & Scores page in the top menu as always.

E. GymCastic

This week, a sort-of-depressing episode about Maggie Haney’s suspension and USAG’s bankruptcy settlement offer and the crimes of That Guy is saved by the beacon that is Simone’s vault video…

38 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – February 7, 2020”

  1. YES! I love discussions about difficulty values!

    I don’t agree that a Yurchenko double tuck is more difficult than the Produnova. Front handspring vaults are more difficult than the equivalent Yurchenko vault with the same body position and twisting. A Yurchenko layout is not nearly as difficult as a front handspring layout because back tumbling is always easier than front tumbling and a Yurchenko entry gives you more power.

    With that being said, I believe the Produnova is undervalued. It should currently stand alone as the most difficult vault because for women, adding a second salto to a vault is more difficult than any combination of entry, body position, and number of twists performed so far.

    I would be very happy to see the Produnova increased to a 6.8 with the Yurchenko double tuck at 6.6 and the Yurchenko double pike at a 6.8 or 7.0. (Piked vaults only award 0.2 more than the equivalent tucked version in the code, so you’d have to determine whether to apply the 0.2 “bonus” to the entire vault or to each salto).

    Of course, I could see this vault being slapped with the “it’s-too-dangerous” cap of 6.4 also…

    1. Yes, I agree that the Produnova isn’t necessarily easier. Produnova and YDT should have the same value, no matter what it is. Yurchenko is a harder technique no master, but it gives more power to complete the skill – in such an insane skill as a double salto vault, it makes things a wash.

      I also take issue with Spencer’s shade at MAG and WAG doing things the same way sometimes. I don’t even think that happens when it actually should? (Aka, WAG needs to copy MAG’s difficulty rankings for floor passes yesterday.)

      1. This was me and WordPress logged me off. I like to not be anonymous, specially when I just took issue with something in the post lol.

    2. You shouldnt really compare the y d tuck or pike to a handspring full. The handspring full is only 1 flip…

      Comparing to the prod is fair because both required 2 flips (it is A LOT harder to do 2 flips and then land). All the tty , biles are easier bc they only have 1 flip with twists

    1. No unfortunately. 🙁 Sounds like she has not yet recovered from her injury. Sucks that she is not even recovered enough to compete bars.

      Also, I believe Ellie Black said in an article that she was aiming towards competing AA at the Canadian championships, so based on that I’m only expecting to see bars from her here. Probably bars with no dismount. And not expecting to see her at the Tokyo WC. Would be happy to be wrong and see her further along but I am keeping expectations low.

  2. What is the fair approach for China and the world cups? It feels so wrong for them to potentially lose Olympic spots due to something that has nothing to do with any of the athletes or programs involved. I’m tempted to suggest they should be allowed to compete via video stream from some neutral location in their home cities (i.e. not the gym/equipment they train on every day), but that sets a weird precedent and is probably open to abusing in some way.

    1. I think this was floated in passing in the latest Gymcastic episode (it’s certainly not my original idea): have the athletes travel to another country and wait out the 14-day period until they’re eligible to come into the US. Not sure whether that would work or what the Australia situation would be, though. I’d have more faith in the US government to accommodate the athletes if it weren’t currently being run by a bunch of incompetent monsters but here we are….

      1. If they are in areas under quarantine, presumably they aren’t able to leave at all?

    2. Hmmm that’s an interesting point. I doubt FIG has considered it. But they definitely shouldn’t lose out for something that’s beyond their control.

  3. I’m sore that Grace is going to Birmingham. I’m not sure what the logic is for her and Morgan going to the AA cups, but there’s plenty of other strong AA’rs with less international experience that could use it with similar total scores.

    Also the likelihood of Simone competing that vault by Tokyo is near zero. That’s a seriously absurd risk with so much on the line, for nothing but another skill to be named after.

    1. Why are you mad that Grace and Morgan are going to a WOrld Cup but not that Simone is going? I’m pretty sure she has plenty of international experience.

      Also, these cups are to earn an extra spot to the olympics, so in theory Forster wants the top four AAers to go. It’s not the best time for retesting Kara’s rings or Mykayla’s block.

      1. Morgan isn’t top 4 AA nor was she on the Worlds team. Kayla DiCello will likely beat her as the wildcard. Have to admit Morgan was an odd choice.

        I’m fine with Grace going, although Leanne is lacking much international experience and seems more likely Tokyo bound than Morgan or Grace.

      2. Simone and Sam are going to Tokyo AA Cups, probably for the advantage of working on the equipment, both of whom are fundamental spots on US teams in Tokyo.

        Almost any US national girl could go to these AA Cups and get a top 3 spot, I’m not sure why they chose who they have, but Leanne makes a lot more sense than Morgan considering she’s a better all arounder. Grace was the likely choice for Birmingham all along in my opinion.

        Leanne has an amanar that would likely score a 15, it’s that good, plus consistent 14.5ish BB and 14+ UB, all events the team would probably want. Morgan has a 14.5ish UB, nothing else top 4; Grace is top 4 AA, no big events.

        Tokyo individual stocks:
        100% – Simone, Jade
        85% – Suni
        80% – Leanne
        70% – Kara
        50% – Riley, MyKayla
        40% – Grace, Kayla
        20% – Morgan

        Since TF said top 2 AA at Olympic trials are guaranteed spots, that can change things up. It’s also the best chance Grace can get there.

      3. I’d put Sunisa Lee at 100% at this point. Her bars and floor alone is enough to guarantee her not even considering her good vault and beam potential.

        It will be interesting to see if the team will need to count 2 DTYs or if one of the Amanar/Cheng gymnasts can pull up their other events enough.

        With Simone and Sunisa, you’re looking at MOST at 2 vault spots, 1 bars spot, 2 beam spots, and 1 floor spot remaining, though I could Sunisa doing the All-around leaving just one spot on each event. If that’s the case, then I say bring McCusker for bars and beam and Skinner for vault and floor (or possibly Wong if an Amanar materializes).

        I don’t see Grace, Kara, or Morgan working out in any way on the 4-person team.

      4. Only 3 are put up on team finals, all 4 on the team can try for AA and EFs in Tokyo in qualifications, the nominative and non-nominative can try for everything too. So no one will be limited except by the 2 per country rule after rankings.

        If they want most medals, Kara and Suni will go. If they prefer highest possible team score, Mykayla and Leanne are on it. That’s your Tokyo six.

        Will they just choose top 5 AA and Jade? Probably.

      5. Until someone competes an Amanar, they don’t have an Amanar. People talked about McCallum’s Amanar and Eaker’s DTY all last year and we never saw them – we actually didn’t even see improvements to the vaults they already had.

        I tend to think that Kayla DiCello has a good shot at beating Morgan at American Cup too, but everyone also thought that about Maile O’Keefe. You can’t really make pronouncements about how a junior will be as a senior.

        No one is a lock except Simone. Sunisa has the best shot, but if she falls off beam multiple times again (say, at Trials) and they really do take top 4, she won’t be going on the team.

      6. Leanne did her Amanar at camp in January. They were only asked to do one vault for evaluation and that’s what she used. That means it is competition ready. It was definitely a 15+, near perfect.

        So with that, a high beam and consistent uneven bars, she’s got a very strong case. In my opinion, the strongest case for the team without an event final medal.

        She’s at 57 like Grace, Riley and Kara for AA. Sunisa has about a half point edge and Morgan and Kayla a half point behind them. It really will come down to injuries, peak or trials and what the selection committee values most.

  4. I think FIG could make a perfectly valid argument that the Y double back IS dangerous.

    Also while I don’t agree that the double double off beam is dangerous, I do think that valuing it higher overvalues the dismount in BB routines and I support its undervaluation for that reason. You should not be able to have a huge D score just because your dismount is hard.

    1. Yes, you should, if your dismount is hard. That’s literally why we have an open ended code. They actually have encouraged doing hard dismounts the entire time either by a CR or the dismount CV. Why pretend dismounts being too hard is an issue now?

      1. I don’t agree. The most important part of a beam routine should be what happens on the beam.

        You can see similar attempts to limit scoring in various areas on other score caps on other events (e.g. when the ability to pirouette completely defined UB success in the 2008 quad). Although I think FIG should consider making exceptions to score caps, I don’t think it makes sense to always follow the logical progression if it overweights certain elements or certain apparatuses. That actually ISN’T why there is an open-ended code.

        And dismounts being too hard is an issue now because Simone pioneered her unusually difficult beam dismount. If you throw that dismount at the end of an extremely simple routine, you’re still up there with Lee or LTT in D-score. I don’t think that encourages either good or innovative beam gymnastics.

        I also disagree that FIG has been incentivizing hard dismounts – obviously you should get more points for throwing a harder dismount, but they also got rid of the higher-valued dismount composition requirement.

    2. Oh stop! Take yo gainer loving, double twist lovin ass elsewhere! This is ELITE! Blaming hard dismounts as if its a thing, as if what they do on beam without a hard dismount is soooo INNOVATIVE! bish where? The same connections, the same series, the 1 hundred leaps turns etc. But wanna cry over hard dismounts? Please leave!

      1. Garbage man is right. Promote him to garbage boss. Difficulty is difficulty no matter where it is performed and I disagree with any attempt of saying one type of element should be more encouraged than others – the E cap on any type of element shoukd be abolished. If they don’t want a kind of element to dominate composition, they should be remoced from requirements.

      2. “If they don’t want a kind of element to dominate composition, they should be remoced from requirements.”

        That argument is ludicrous and makes no sense. So if FIG decides they’re tired of people building D on UB by linking a thousand pirouettes and tacking one release on as a CR afterthought, then removing the pirouette requirement would … somehow solve that? Uh no.

        Love your quote above though, so appropriate even if I’m not going to agree with you or garbage barge above on routine composition.

  5. I can’t see Simone throwing that vault for Tokyo. Makes no sense why she would take that risk. Unless she has 2-3 disasters she’s pretty much going to win the AA gold and probably the vault.

    Whilst I agree the Produnova is undervalued, it was downgraded for a good reason. It was getting ridiculous to see athletes barely touching their feet first to the floor and getting a 14. At risk of causing themselves a catastrophic injury.

    I don’t think the double back is as difficult as Produnova, but it’s dangerous enough to be given a downgraded score. All around not worth the risk.

    1. Skills should be valued based on their actual difficulty and difficulty relative to other skills.

      I don’t like intentional downgrading just because some gymnasts performed the skill poorly and dangerously. The execution score should be able to take care of poorly performed difficult skills.

      The Produnova should be 0.4 higher than the Biles vault with any other double salto variations hovering around a 6.8.

      1. I kind of agree. But I don’t like seeing someone land on their a$$ and score 14 or blow a knee throwing a vault they have no business doing. It’s a really tough balance and I’m right on the fence about how to score it.

      2. But there’s a difference between dangerously performing a Biles or Amanar and dangerously performing a Produnova or Y double back. The likelihood of serious, life-changing injury or death is much higher on the latter two. A knee injury, even a severe one, is not even remotely similar to a traumatic neck or brain injury.

        I agree that E-score should discourage people from competing vaults that are too dangerous for them, and I’d prefer to see dangerous elements banned rather than devalued, but I’d rather see devaluation than rely on execution judging at this point. We’ve already seen that judges aren’t willing to take the deductions for poorly performed vaults, and the incentives are there for gymnasts to take huge risks.

      3. Fair point about the execution. Perhaps there needs to be a bigger deduction again for a fall. That would be a fairer way to discourage people performing skills they cannot do, rather thab punishing those that can by devaluing the skills entirely

    2. I hate this perception. This whole WHY DO IT, WHAT FOR, WHY TAKE THE RISK? NOT WORTH IT, If she was to do it in competition, which I doubt, but if she was going to do it, clearly she feels comfortable doing it. But the whole SHE DOESNT NEED TO, WHY DO IT, SO MUCH RISK, (pearl clutch) is so uninspiring. Maybe some girls who have the ability want to do THINGS because they CAN, and not cause they have 2. Maybe some want to be innovators in a sport filled with a sea of the exact same girls on the exact same level. Your why do it, the risk, is what keeps everyone at a stagnant level of SAME. Something I’m sure you and your whole circle are familiar with.

      1. Wow ok no need to get so angry or judgemental (me and my whole circle – what the hell is that about?!) My point is that she is only training it into a pit, not even with a mat landing into the pit. If she is even training it full stop and not just throwing it for fun. Reality is that the Olympics are 5 months away and she is leading everyone by a mile with the immense and unique skills she already performs. I’m merely stating my opinion. Perhaps when you grow up a little bit, you’ll be able to speak the adults politely on the Internet and state your own opinion. But regardless of my opinion, if she feels comfortable performing it, theb of course she will! I will enjoy seeing it. Enjoy your day.

      2. Landi has said in interviews that they use new skills to keep Biles motivated and inspired. With so little competition it would be easy to get complacent or bored. The most intriguing thing about the YDP was in the audio track… there is a male voice giving vocal queues on the block. While I don’t think they will risk it (or should), it was interesting to hear them treat it like it was another vault training exercise.

  6. We would have a completely different sport if the code was centered around safety. It isn’t, regardless of how much some of us might prefer that. Reject the skill, ban the skill or give it the proper difficulty rating – those are the choices.

    This is why Simone’s beam dismount difficulty was such an outrage, it were setting precedent for half measures – it’s too dangerous or it isn’t. The saddest part is that no one will know anymore about new skills until after athletes spend countless hours training and then having FIG laugh at them later.

    If this is where FIG is at now, there needs to be an inquiry process prior to even training new skills. That all said, I think Simone enjoys the sport too much to not want to leave a mark and have as many new skills named after her as she can. I think she will compete it, if only once, if she feels it’s safe enough. Let’s be honest, nearly every routine has a serious, catastrophic injury risk at that level.

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