The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – February 11, 2021

A. Olympic qualification news

Yesterday, the FIG finally proclaimed the inevitable. With Germany and Great Britain unable to host their intended all-around Olympic qualifiers, that series has officially been canceled. (Though Tokyo is still planning to hold its event in May, which also serves as the gymnastics test event.)

Given the cancellation, the Olympic spots that would have gone to the top three teams at the end the all-around series instead have been awarded to the top three teams from qualification at 2019 worlds. For the women, that’s the USA, Russia, and China. For the men, that’s Russia, China, and Japan. Those nations have now all achieved a +1 Olympic spot to be bestowed upon any athlete they choose.

So here’s where we stand now with the women:

WOMEN – Qualified Team
(4 athletes)
Spot #1
Spot #2
United States
(Any athlete)

(Jade Carey)*
(Any athlete)
(Any athlete)

(Fan Yilin)*
Great Britain
(Vanessa Ferrari
OR Lara Mori)*
(Urara Ashikawa)*
* – Nominative spots earned from Apparatus world cups should be considered unofficial until the (alleged) conclusion of the series at Doha in March. But this is who has them.

The men’s apparatus world cup spots are still much more up in the air than the women’s—with many more what-ifs and intra-country tiebreak scenarios in play—so I’m going to wait to make that chart until we see what happens in Doha.

Speaking of which, the nominative entry list for Doha (March 10-13) came out today. Yu Linmin is not participating, so Jade Carey is now assured of winning the vault series outright without having to go to a tiebreak (Carey would have won the tiebreak anyway, so it didn’t really matter). Because of her better overall finishes across all competitions, Jade Carey Vault wins the tiebreak over Jade Carey Floor, leaving the floor spot to come down to Vanessa Ferrari or Lara Mori, both of whom are slated to compete at Doha.

Ferrari and Mori are currently tied on points at 80, so if either one wins the floor title in Doha, she gets the Olympic spot. I’ll get into more specifics closer to the event, along with all the permutations for the men’s spots. Lottts of athletes are on the list for Doha, the large majority of whom are not in contention for the Olympics, so mostly people just want to get out there and compete.

Among the noteworthy just-wanting-to-compete athletes on the list, who are either already qualified or can’t qualify from this event: Larisa Iordache, Nina Derwael, Rebeca Andrade, Flavia Saraiva, Tin Srbic, Claudia Fragapane, Rhys McClenaghan, Artem Dolgopyat, Epke Zonderland, Marta Pihan-Kulesza, Marian Dragulescu, Anastasia Iliankova, Ahmet Onder, Petro Pakhniuk, Igor Radivilov, and Oksana Chusovitina. So it’s not your grandma’s apparatus world cup. Unless your grandma is Chuso. In which case it is.

B. NCAA week 6 preview

Obviously, I had to talk about my one true passion—the hilariously deceased Olympic qualification process—so this week’s NCAA preview is getting shoehorned in here. But it’s a good weekend!

Friday evening (7:30pm ET) brings the most anticipated SEC meet of the season as #1 Florida visits #2 LSU. It’s kind of a weird 1-2 matchup because Florida has clearly been the stronger team throughout the season thus far and, because of that, should be considered a more comfortable favorite than you would usually have in a 1-2 meet. But, LSU’s home status can make things interesting. If scores are flying and good is getting 9.950 while medium gets 9.900, then there’s not going to be much separation heading to the end of the meet.

We’ll see if LSU feels the pressure to get Kiya Johnson back on floor this week because, if things are close at the end, that Bryant-Johnson punch at the end of the floor lineup would be unstoppable. At least at full health. As for the other events, Florida has looked crisper and more confident on bars and beam so far this season and has a few more 9.9s in the back pocket there and will expect to win both events. Theoretically, vault could be even between these two teams, but LSU being without Edwards last week and Johnson’s DTY not looking ready yet turned that event into the weak one last Friday. LSU will need to improve its vaulting this week.

Not to be overlooked, Alabama is going to Georgia at 6:00 ET on Friday, which always remains a delightful one. Georgia will be dependent on the bye week having allowed people like Magee, Nguyen, and Oakley to continue getting their events back—and Lukacs perhaps adding back some difficulty—so that the scores can get into the more competitive portion of the 196s. Because otherwise, Alabama enters as a comfortable favorite.

Also keep in mind this week that Saturday at 4:00pm ET brings the inaugural meet for Long Island University, and…talk about not having any idea what to expect from a performance. We have nothing to go on! For a first meet in program history, during a pandemic, just having five scores to count on each event would be a win. We’ve seen teams do less this year. But there are also some legit names on this team who have competitive skills, so perhaps bare minimum expectations are undershooting this group’s potential.

For the most recent inaugural meet perspective, DII Lindenwood’s first meet in 2013 was a 185.925, while DI Arkansas’s first meet in 2003 was a 193.300.

I’m also interested to see Michigan return to action on Monday afternoon with a dual against Nebraska. Michigan looked really good in that first meet, but what has the temporary team shutdown done to them?

Full schedule and links

Meanwhile, we had two 10.000/9.900 splits for Central Michigan on floor today for some 9.800 routines, so that was a lark.

C. Dianne Durham

1983 US National Champion Dianne Durham died last week, sparking renewed appreciation for her status as the first black US all-around champion, for the fact that she had the gymnastic ability to become The Mary Lou had injuries played out differently, and for her being unjustly kept off the 1984 Olympic team because of Bela not knowing the rules/thinking they didn’t apply to him. But none of us are bitter about it or anything.

It also brought to light something I didn’t know, that despite her national championship, Durham was never selected for the US gymnastics Hall of Fame. Now, the Hall of Fame is a stupid and arbitrary PR contest that doesn’t actually mean anything or reflect athletic accomplishments at all, literally no one could tell you who is in it and who is not, and under normal circumstances I would be like, “Whatever.” But when you look at the way they flat-out throw Hall of Fame inductions at the current famouses (Gabby Douglas has been put in there 3 whole times) and the sheer number of people who never won a national championship who are in there, it becomes particularly glaring that Durham isn’t among them. Her gymnastics and her trailblazing both independently warrant being in the Hall of Fame, and together, well…

Expect some celebrations and and attempts to rectify that embarrassing oversight at this summer’s events.

D. What else?

Kriztian Berki—he of “the one who makes you not hate pommel horse” fame—has announced his retirement. Olympic champion, three-time world champion, six-time European champion, best pommel horse worker of a generation. Berki missed out on qualification to the 2016 Olympics after coming up short of making the event final at 2015 worlds—among the scenarios that led the FIG to try to add more apparatus specialist qualification opportunities to the Olympics and ah ha ha ha IT WENT FINE. Since then, he has been out of competition for quite some time, occasionally toying with posting videos to show that he’s still the best one, but a comeback this quad never materialized and it seemed like retirement was only a matter of time.

Aliya Mustafina has been placed in charge of the Russian junior national team. Brb, sending arms to equip Aliya’s guerilla militants in deposing Valentina.

At last weekend’s WOGA Classic, Jordan Chiles went 55.450 in the all-around despite a couple falls, delivering an extremely confident beam routine and a hilarious floor miss. So it was really a win-win.

E. GymCastic

Carly Patterson's Album Interpreted and Dr. Dave Tilley PT Gymnastics Myth Busters GymCastic: The Gymnastics Podcast

CARLY PATTERSON'S ALBUM: BACK TO THE BEGINNING This episode has been commissioned by "Just an Ordinary Girl Putting Up a Fight to Get Out of This Temporary Life," who requested an episode analyzing the music of 2004 Olympic Champion, Carly Rae Patterson and her 2009 album, Back to the Beginning. We answer important questions like, which song is a metaphor for WOGA? And which one is really about Khorkina? Gymnastics Science Myth Busters with Dr. Dave Tilley PT, NCSA The internal work; therapy and/or self reflection, necessary to be healthy in our jobs and relationships Learning to have a healthy relationship with exercise after gymnastics The actual force impact of landings and falls and a yurchenko double back on the body The science behind back pain in gymnasts during puberty. Red S Syndrome (formerly Female Athlete Triad) and the damaging garbage nutrition fads hurting gymnasts. Gymnastics Myth Busted with an Dr. Dave Tilley PhD: You have to be short, young, and under-developed to be good at gymnastics and all skills have to be learned before puberty. False! We discuss the physical and psychological advantages of hormones and puberty for female gymnasts. Gymnasts and children should never weight train. False! The original study was based on children laborers and not safe, supervised weightlifting. Back pain, during puberty especially, is just a normal part of gymnastics and can't be prevented. False! We discuss the effect hormones have on ligaments and bones during healthy puberty and how coaches can help their gymnasts safely navigate this growth period. If you are overweight you will tear your achilles. False! BMI is not a factor in gymnasts achilles tears. Read the study here. Resources & References: SHIFT Movement Science and Gymnastics Education SHIFT Free Resource Lab  SHIFT Hero Lab: international online gymnastics education community Developing Powerful Athletes Pt 1  Developing Powerful Athletes Pt 2   Long Term Athletic Development Natalie Yurchenko Olympic Channel interview on yurchenko double back. Factors Associated With Achilles Tendon Rupture in Women's Collegiate Gymnastics Weight Training Safety & Performance in children and adolescents: The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries (BJSM)  Youth Resistance Training International Consensus Position Statement (BJSM)  Resistance training for children and adolescents (Translational Pediatrics)  Youth Resistance Training Position Statement Paper (JSCR) Plyometric training performance in elite-oriented prepubertal female gymnasts  Effects if Resistance Training in Youth Athletes  The effects of eccentric training on lower limb flexibility: a systematic review (BJSM)  Increasing muscle extensibility: a matter of increasing length or modifying sensation? (Phys Ther)  Regular stretch does not increase muscle extensibility (Scan J Med Sci Sports) Red S Syndrome and Disordered Eating in Gymnastics: Understanding Eating Disorders in Elite Gymnastics (Clin Sports Med) Disordered Eating in Women’s Gymnastics (JASP) The IOC consensus statement on RED-S (BJSM) Interaction among skeletal muscle metabolic energy systems during intense exercise (J Nutr Metab) JOIN CLUB GYM NERD  Join Club Gym Nerd for access to Behind the Scenes episodes. Buy our awesome clothing and gifts here. We have masks too! RELATED EPISODES Project K Project K: Decoding Romanian Secret Police Files on The Karolyis with Dr. Simona Petracovsch 368: No-No-Nunnoisms (Commissioned) 367: Shawn and Nastia: From Feud to Friendship (Commissioned) 365: 1988 Olympics Team Competition (Commissioned) 364: 80s Fight! (Commissioned) 327: 1993 NCAA Nationals (Commissioned) 325: Olympics of Difference Makers (Commissioned) 313: Best Floor Routines EVAH! (Commissioned) 312: 4th Is the New 1st (Commissioned) 309: Perfect Form – The O’Beirne Code (Commissioned) 308: 2004 Olympic All-Around Final (Commissioned) 306: Gymnastics Fails (Commissioned) 304: The GymCastic Olympics (Commissioned) 281: Myths, Legends, and Unexpected Moments PART 2 (Commissioned) 279: A Diva Is Magical: The Svetlana Khorkina Episode (Commissioned) 278: 2000 Sydney All-Around Final (Commissioned) 262: 1996 Olympic Event Finals (Commissioned) 258: The Fluff Cast (Commissioned) 256: 1996 Olympic All-Around Final (Commissioned) 255: 1996 Olympic Team Final (Commissioned) 252: Myths, Legends and Unexpected Moments in Gymnastics History (Commissioned) 228: Leotards (Commissioned) 225: 1992 Olympics Recap with Wendy Bruce (Commissioned) 185: 2008 Olympic All-Around Finals (Commissioned)
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  5. 2021 World Championships, Event Finals Day 2

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