The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – January 14, 2021

A. Stuttgart World Cup Canceled

Stuttgart, one of the three remaining all-around world cups in the Olympic qualification series, has said a big old NOPE to hosting the event this March. Per the FIG, they’re still hoping to find a different city in Germany to host the event (k…….) so that the process can go ahead as planned. Ish.

According to my frenemy, the 2020ONEST Olympic qualification procedures, the all-around series can go ahead and count if only three events are held instead of the planned four, but that would hinge on the Birmingham event still happening, which is—to put it mildly—a question mark at this point. If Birmingham can’t be held and no replacement hosts are found, then the series would contain just two events, the 2020 American Cup and the 2021 Tokyo World Cup planned for May. The Tokyo World Cup is also the Olympic Test Event, so if that can’t happen, we’re in much deeper water.

If there are just two events, the series wouldn’t count and the theoretical Olympic spots awarded from this series would be reallocated to “the highest ranked eligible NOC based on the team ranking results of Qualifications of the 2019 World Championships.” So, since all the countries are eligible for the spot at this point, the general consensus seems to be this means the top three from qualification at worlds. That would be USA, China, and Russia for the women and Russia, China, Japan for the men.

B. The Laurie Hernandez Comeback

One of the underrated best things in the history of Twitter happened a couple days ago, when Laurie Hernandez wrote this

and, first of all, Laurie Hernandez’s emergence as a delightful public weirdo is one of the few recent joys we have. Also, as she later confirmed, this indicates that she does indeed plan to compete at the inaugural women’s Winter Cup at the end of February. Like compete. As a gymnast.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Winter Cup? In February? Is that one actually happening? I mean I’m sure it shouldn’t, but we’re also chugging along with an NCAA season at this point, so…

Meanwhile, Memmel is currently a maybe for Winter Cup because of the ankle.

C. Nile Wilson Retires

Official Face of Your YouTube Suggestions and occasional Olympic medalist Nile Wilson announced his retirement today. Nile was part of the British team that won silver at the 2015 World Championships, then went on to win bronze on high bar at the 2016 Olympics and win the all-around championship at the Commonwealth Games in early 2018, which ended up being his final appearance in a major competition.

British high bar is like, “Oh. Crap.” But I’m sure you’ll still get to enjoy him challenging the world’s shortest penguin to a handstand competition or whatever happens on that channel.

D. Old News

I haven’t done one of these in a while so there’s the whole issue of Oleg Verniaiev’s suspension to get to. Just that. What we know is…nothing. Still nothing. Oleg Verniaiev’s FIG license has been provisionally suspended pending the results of an investigation, which appears to shed some light on the actual reason he withdrew from Euros, but no one is allowed to talk about what, why, when, or how. That’s the entirety of what we know. But it probably ain’t good.

E. NCAA Week 2 Preview

Full schedule and links.

The first “big deal” meet of the season will come on Sunday at 5 ET/2 PT when Utah travels to Oklahoma to test itself against one of the presumed Big Two in the 2021 NCAA season. Oklahoma’s first-meet performance was about a half point stronger than Utah’s, so a clear margin but not a completely insurmountable one.

Utah currently ranks ahead of Oklahoma on floor after one week, though I’d imagine both teams will say they can do a lot better on floor than they did last time. Oklahoma and Utah are also two of the strongest teams in the country on beam, so Oklahoma’s primary advantage lies on vault and bars. The Sooners will be eager to build up an early meet advantage through more difficulty on vault and through bars handstands. It’s possible that Utah could try to bust out some of its additional Y1.5s to try to keep pace with Oklahoma, but it’s worth noting that last weekend at a podium meet Utah elected to play it safe with the vaults from Stanhope and Rucker, so upgrading to their 1.5s for this weekend would be a lot.

Elsewhere, the first big-time SEC showdown of the season will see Georgia go to Florida on Friday at 7:00 ET (replayed on ESPN2 on Sunday following the Utah/OU meet), where Florida will be the heavy favorite but Georgia will look to tighten things up on nearly every event to get to a more comfortable portion of the 196s.

LSU heads to Arkansas on Friday for an 8:30 ET rematch—because that’s the kind of thing that happens with this year’s schedule—after LSU narrowly escaped by a couple tenths at home against Arkansas last weekend.

The Big Ten also gets started this week, but Rutgers has already been forced to withdraw from its Saturday tri meet against Michigan and Ohio State because of COVIDings.

Friday’s early action includes an Illinois/Nebraska meet that should be interesting, as well as the season debut for Denver, which heads to Iowa State. Also, I’m planning to live blog for seven straight hours tomorrow. So, you know, it’ll get weird.

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