The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – April 9, 2021

A. European Championships

Against all odds, the European Championships appear to be happening. And kind of soon!

This is the final opportunity for European athletes to secure Olympic spots, and in keeping with the theme, something strange is happening! Those Olympic spots (2 each for MAG and WAG) will be awarded based on the AA standings from qualification, rather than from the all-around final. OK great?

The FIG lovvvessss basing very important things on qualification, and it’s so counterintuitive. Isn’t the final supposed to be…like…the final?

I was against this at first because it’s just so weird, but I do kind of get it. Kind of. The idea here is to make sure everyone has a chance to get the spot. So, for example, Italy has a nominative team of Villa, Alice D’Amato, Maggio, and Ferrari. Villa and D’Amato competed as part of the Italian squad that qualified a team to the Olympics and are therefore ineligible to earn an additional Olympic spot for Italy at this competition. If Villa and D’Amato were to make the all-around final, then Italy wouldn’t have anyone eligible to get an Olympic spot. By basing things on qualification, Maggio could theoretically get in there and get a spot for Italy even if she places behind ineligible countrywomen like Villa and D’Amato. (With no temptation to fake-injury-scratch someone from the AA final.)

On the other hand, this does bring the eternal conundrum of score-rising through the qualification day into effect. At this meet, athletes from a single country don’t all compete in the same subdivision, and with different countries being assigned different subdivisions through the draw (Russia and Romania WAG have spots in the final subdivision, Great Britain and Italy do not), you haven’t necessarily created the most even playing field possible.

Regardless, the favorites to get the two spots on the women’s side at this point would be one of the Russians (limit one per country, and Listunova, Urazova, and Gerasimova are all in the hunt) and Larisa Iordache. But it’s going to take a hit meet. So it should be an exciting lengthy-qualification-day.

If a Russian were to earn a spot, that spot would go to the country to be assigned at Valentina’s whim, whereas if Iordache were to get a spot, that spot would be hers and hers alone (no one can just give it to Ponor) because Romania did not qualify a team to the Olympics.

Here’s the schedule with US time zones.

Wednesday, April 21
4:00am ET/1:00am PT – WAG Subdivision 1
7:30am ET/4:30am PT – WAG Subdivision 2
10:00am ET/7:00am PT – WAG Subdivision 3
12:30pm ET/9:30am PT – WAG Subdivision 4

Thursday, April 22
4:00am ET/1:00am PT – MAG Subdivision 1
8:00am ET/5:00am PT – MAG Subdivision 2
11:00am ET/8:00am PT – MAG Subdivision 3

Friday, April 23
7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Women’s All-Around
11:00am ET/8:00am PT – Men’s All-Around

Saturday, April 24
7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Event Finals Day 1

Sunday, April 25
7:00am ET/4:00am PT – Event Finals Day 2

Of note, the American Classic (it’s like the US Classic, but less!) is also supposed to take place on Saturday, April 24, but we’ve received no info about that so far. At least it does still appear on FLO’s broadcast schedule of US events, not like the women’s camps that were promised in the announcement and then quietly removed from the schedule.

Info we did receive, however, is that when the senior women’s national team is named at championships, it will include the top 6 AA guaranteed, and the rest of the spots will be discretionary. That’s a change from the 2021 elite qualification chart, which originally said the top 10 AA would automatically make national team. Sounds like someone wants a little more freedom in selecting the national team, which is a departure for this regime.

B. Olympic Qualification Disasters

Meanwhile, the Asian Championships are expected to be formally called off, and though the Pan American Championships are still scheduled to go forward the first weekend of June in Brazil, it’s…Brazil are you OK? Because I think you’re not?

While it’s probably logistically unfeasible, the US should seriously explore getting those hosting rights back and holding some sort of Pan Am Olympic qualification in conjunction with nationals because, the way things are trending, that may be the only way the US men would have a shot at getting any +1 Olympic spot.

There’s some disagreement over what will happen when continental qualifiers are canceled (surprise!), but here is the provision in the rules. As usual, it’s very clearly written and precise.

I read that to mean they would continue where they left off awarding spots from the AA standings in 2019 and that any country that already has a single individual qualified through those world AA standings is out of luck.

That would be extremely terrible as qualification at the continental championships was supposed to be available to athletes from countries that had already qualified a team but could still win more spots (like the US men or Japanese women) or countries that already had a single individual but could qualify more individuals (like the Brazilian women). So those athletes/countries shouldn’t be excluded from any spot redistribution should those events be canceled.

In other qualified-Olympic-athlete news, North Korea won’t participate in the Olympics this year, which means Kim Su Jong will have to give up her Olympic spot. Next in line is Megan Ryan of Ireland, who outscored teammate Emma Slevin by a single tenth that day. Both athletes are on the list for Euros.

Qualifier Julie Erichsen of Norway has also just recently injured her Achilles, so if she is unable to go, the next in line after Ryan would be Maria Kharenkova, who ALSO just recently injured her Achilles (this sport is fine, we’re all fine). So after her, the next people in line are Argyro Afrati of Greece, then Maia Fishwick of New Zealand.

Also gymnast injury-reveal videos are becoming my favorite thing.

C. Simone Media Summit

Simone dropped in to the Olympic media summit to tell everyone that she does plan to debut the Yurchenko double pike in competition at some point before the Olympics, that she’s planning to do the all-around at US Classic now that the Tokyo World Cup was canceled, and that she continues thinking it’s dumb (because it is) that there’s no touch warmup in event finals, which will inhibit her from feeling comfortable doing the YDP there.

It looks like we’re gearing up for “no one touch in event finals” to be a major story at the Olympics that everyone picks up because of Simone Things, and I’m here for it because it makes no sense and needs to change.

In other Simone-adjacent news, Aimee Boorman has been announced as one of the Dutch team coaches for the push to Tokyo. I think that orange jacket is really going to work for her. Although she did kind of pick the wrong Olympics to work with the Dutch team because there won’t be a Heineken House this year.

Anyway, I fully expect gymnastics to reach the point in coming years where literally every coach except Aimee Boorman is suspended and she has to coach every national team simultaneously.

D. USAG Championships

On the list of very helpfully named American gymnastics competitions that are so easy to differentiate, the USAG Championships (collegiate version) is upon us this weekend.

This is the national championship for teams without the full complement of scholarship positions that the famous schools have. Competing this year are Southeast Missouri, Centenary, Air Force, Lindenwood, and Texas Woman’s.

Team competition is Saturday at 3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT on ESPN+, followed by event finals the next day at 2:00pm ET/11:00am PT.

E. GymCastic

In which we discuss all the weirdest things that happened at regionals.

WATCH HERE Club Gym Nerd members can watch the podcast being recorded and see some of the gymnastics we discuss, plus get access to all of our exclusive interviews and Behind The Scenes episodes.  Please login to your Club Gym Nerd account to listen and/or watch this episode. Not a member? Join here. GYMKATA This week, the episode Jessica and Spencer have been training in the woods for their whole lives: Gymkata. In 1985's action film spectacular, the dear departed Kurt Thomas must travel to the very real and geographically consistent nation of Parmistan to try to survive THE GAME, a totally unnecessary obstacle course where people kill you at the very beginning. We discuss: For a closed central Asian nation, everyone sure is American and can come and go as needed Very 3-dimensional female characters with clear goals and lines (JKKKKKKK) MULLETS Men holding giant birds for no reason Cool technological weapons, like a…little axe? That thing where you find a dead body and hear a BOIYOINGGGGG sound The most accurate depiction of US military presence in Asia ever committed to film A horse just decking some dude An actual character named Thorg How Kurt Thomas is fully, unironically good at action movie The "Village of the Crazies" and how it gets DARK A guy in a white robe with the butt cut out (!) And of course, the iconic town square pommel horse fight: featuring RANDOM GOAT JOIN CLUB GYM NERD Join Club Gym Nerd (or give it as a gift!) for access to Behind the Scenes episodes. Buy our awesome clothing and gifts here. We have a Ukraine Fundraiser design, all proceeds go to the CARE Ukraine Crisis fund. RELATED EPISODES & RESOURCES Donate grips and tape for Ukrainian gymnasts Donate to family of Alabama volunteer assistant coach in Ukraine To follow the effects of the Russian invasion to Ukraine on gymnastics, go to Gymnovosti The Leotard Episode: Part Deux NCAA Championships 2022 Winter Cup Recap Spitfire: The Movie (Commissioned) Nadia: The Movie (Commissioned)
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F. Roxana Popa’s Nabieva

The end.

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