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)
Individual
Spot #1
Individual
Spot #2
United States
(Any athlete)

(Jade Carey)*
Russia
(Any athlete)
China
(Any athlete)

(Fan Yilin)*
France
Canada
Netherlands
Great Britain
Italy
(Vanessa Ferrari
OR Lara Mori)*
Germany
Belgium
Japan
(Urara Ashikawa)*
Spain
* – 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

Jessica Bendinger Interview GymCastic: The Gymnastics Podcast

Jessica Bendinger Interview What got cut from the movie. Scary NYC punk shows in the 1980's and of course legendary punk band, Bad Brains who get a nod in the movie. The continued relevance of Stick It. Pitching movies about women to a Hollywood system constipated by gender and structural bias. Why she started her Mob Queens podcast Alternative to the Bechdel Test Training at Muriel Grossfeld's gym with Marcia Fredrick and Don Peters Needing more diversity in Stick It. Our mutual love for Oana Ban and Mattie Larson as both a gymnast  and bad ass hero. Gymnastics, PTSD and nervous breakdowns. Jessica pitches Stick It 2, genderless mafia gymnastics revolution or Stick It 2, the horror version: Escape from the Ranch. Listen to our full episode about  the movie 422: Stick It (Commissioned) JOIN CLUB GYM NERD  Join Club Gym Nerd for access to Behind the Scenes episodes. Behind The Scenes: Project K Behind The Scenes: LIVE after NCAA Finals Behind The Scenes: Live After NCAA Semifinal I Behind The Scenes: Aimee Boorman to the Netherlands Behind The Scenes: Beam Smash Regionals Buy our awesome clothing and gifts here. We have masks too! RELATED EPISODES 422: Stick It (Commissioned) Episode 36: Maddy Curley from Stick It and Brooke Buffington On Their New Gymnastics Movie! 368: No-No-Nunnoisms (Commissioned) 367: Shawn and Nastia: From Feud to Friendship (Commissioned) 365: 1988 Olympics Team Competition (Commissioned) Unitard Revolution Behind The Scenes: Project K Michigan Wins! Behind The Scenes: LIVE after NCAA Finals Soviet Gymnastics: Not the Specter of Evil (Commissioned) Behind The Scenes: Live After NCAA Semifinal I 2021 NCAA Championship Preview Behind The Scenes: Aimee Boorman to the Netherlands Regionals Got Weird Behind The Scenes: Beam Smash Regionals
  1. Jessica Bendinger Interview
  2. Unitard Revolution
  3. NCAA Championships Recap and Jaime Santos Esq explains the NCAA case before the Supreme Court
  4. Soviet Gymnastics: Not the Specter of Evil (Commissioned)
  5. 2021 NCAA Championship Preview

19 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – February 11, 2021”

  1. Dianne Durham was so ridiculously good, so vastly superior to Mary Lewd Wretched it was a bad joke, and so screwed out of her rightful place.

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    1. From her Wikipedia:

      At the US team trials for the 1984 Summer Olympics, Durham was in sixth place after the first day. Competing for one of seven slots, she was expected to make the team and become the first Black gymnast to compete for the United States at the Olympics, as Luci Collins had made the team but did not have the chance to compete due to the US boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games. However Durham injured her ankle on vault and withdrew from the competition, on the expectation she would to be petitioned onto the Olympic team. She only learned later that she was ineligible because she had not competed at the 1983 World Championship due to injury, and expressed regret no one had told her that finishing the trials on an injured ankle was her only route to the Olympics. Károlyi objected to denying the prior year’s national champion a slot on the team: “She was the first Black kid to ever make it to a national title. This is a pretty big injustice to not have Durham on the Olympic team. The team needs her, the country needs her.” But he did not succeed in persuading the USA Gymnastics Federation. Durham retired from competition in 1985.

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      1. It’s my understanding that Karolyi reiterated to her that she should petition rather than risk injury, either not knowing that she wasn’t eligible to petition, or not believing they’d uphold that rule. Who knows, but she indicated that she could have competed if she had to.

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    2. That moron Karolyi, who was not yet in the position of absolute dictator of US gymnastics, fucked up and didn’t know Durham could be victimized on a technicality about petitioning. Later, of course, when he was obscenely abusing his power, he put Okino AND Campi on the 92 team in very similar circumstances. Of course, had USGF not been hyperfascist AND, more importantly, had Don Peters (yes, THAT Don Peters the sex abuser rapist) not HATED Karolyi and any of his kids so much, it wouldn’t have mattered. Peters completely screwed over Durham to get at Karolyi. It’s vomitous.

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    1. Less than zero chance. Ticks none of the boxes; they have Biles/Carey for big vault/floor scores (leaving completely aside what an ugly robot Carey is on floor–she has hard tumbling) and younger, better, more elegant gymnasts doing far more difficulty on bars/beam. Lee, McCallum, Eaker, diCello, Hurd, Wong, even McCusker–and if we count juniors, McClain, Greaves, Alipio… Chiles looks adequate on bars, not amazing. She looks like a leg/power gymnast getting through a bars routine reasonably well, and it’s not as if even her vaulting or floor scores are reliably huge.

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      1. You have to take Carey out since she can’t compete in TF. But it’s true that Chiles isn’t even particularly strong on her strong events (VT and FX)… hard to see how she’s going to spoil for a Tokyo team spot without a rock solid 6.0+ vault.

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      2. Not necessarily since we know Tom will put no thought into selection and just go by AA. If she hits and others don’t…

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  2. Jordan Chiles should stop destroying her body doing elite. She won’t make 2021, if it even happens. She should go to UCLA and have them destroy her body there.

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      1. Jordan should put all her eggs in the Amanar basket in the hopes that Tom actually uses some sense and puts together a team based on the highest team potential.

        While Simone + 3 DTYs is more than sufficient, bringing an Amanar plus 3 other usable events might work out mathematically.

        Simone and Sunisa Lee seem primed to compete the all-around in the team final which only leaves one more routine for each event needed. This is where a McCusker level gymnast fits in for bars and beam and someone else for vault and floor. Jordan could theoretically be that vault and floor worker if she manages to be the only other non-DTYs at Classic, Nationals, and Trials. Still a massive long shot, but not impossible if this is how team selection will actually happen. This is also how Skinner actually has a chance as well if she can somehow return with Chengs all 6 days of competition.

        This all banks on Tom not being useless and actually selecting the best team instead of counting to 4 and being done with it. I hope the team selection process for 2019 worlds was done as sort of a reset while the team was healing from the unrest and leadership changes. Hopefully now with Tom being in place for some time, he has the trust of everyone to do a real team selection process that maximizes and guarantees the team score.

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  3. Not a fan of Tom, but in a 4-3-3 format, it would be foolish not to take AA standings into account. When has the US ever taken the best team as of Olympic Trials /Last Camp and not seen at least one of them break a leg / foot bone, worsen an already broken leg / foot bone or tear an Achilles tendon / ankle ligaments? By the way, it was 1996. That was the last time. And that was with two people petitioning onto the team.

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    1. All 4 gymnasts will need to be able to do all 4 events this time around. A single injury means the remaining 3 gymnasts will need to do the all around. However, a maximized team score will likely not come from the top 4 all around gymnasts. I think 2 all around gymnasts plus 1 bars/beam and 1 vault/floor gymnast will result in the optimal score. Those 2 event specialists will still need to be very strong on the other 2 events but we don’t need to maximize pure all around scores when we only need 12/16 total available routines. Simone, provided she’s in good health, will do the all around which means we need 8 more routines from 3 gymnasts. Sunisa Lee seems set up for the all-around, so that leaves just one routine from each event needed from the remaining 2 gymnasts.

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  4. Can Larisa Iordache still qualify for Tokyo then? Can any of the new seniors from last year (who could not compete in the 2019 qualifiers because they were juniors) qualify? Is there going to be a test event like there was for Rio where Romania can still try and qualify? And what’s going on with Maria Holbura: I see on Instagram that she doesn’t appear to be at Izvorani with the rest of the team, is she retiring or just training at her home club?

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