The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – April 20, 2021

A. European Championships

The European Championships, which are actually happening, begin tomorrow with Larisa Day Women’s qualification, which will decide which two additional Europeans earn Olympic spots.

One semi-surprise from podium training/start lists was seeing Russia put Vladislava Urazova in the first subdivision with Gerasimova, while putting Melnikova in the final subdivision with Listunova. Melnikova is ineligible to earn an Olympic spot for Russia because she was part of the team that qualified at worlds, so I figured Russia would want to back-load the people most likely to get them an additional Olympic spot in the final group.

So either they’re not super-subscribing to the notion of score building (and Urazova should be able to get a total that holds up from the first subdivision if she does her normal), are supremely confident in Listunova’s ability to shoulder the load from the final subdivision alone, or value getting Melnikova into all the finals over this silly Olympic spot slop.

Regardless, Russia has many nominees who can get their additional +1 from Euros, which would then give them the maximum of 6 Olympians. Wednesday also presents Larisa Iordache’s lone opportunity to get to the 2021 Olympics. She must place in the top 2 among eligible athletes in tomorrow’s competition. Iordache will compete in the final subdivision.

Great Britain is hoping to play spoiler here and get a +1 Olympic spot, though Jennifer Gadirova was forced to pull out for precautionary injury reasons, which hampers their chances to some degree. The onus will now be on Amelie Morgan, Jessica Gadirova, and Phoebe Jakubczyk. Ukraine has Diana Varinska qualified already but could sneak Bachynska or Motak in there, and Italy is putting forward Vanessa Ferrari, who is going to wrench a competitive all-around out of herself in this meet if it kills her, and Martina Maggio.

Italy looks like the one country that really organized its subdivision assignments with the assumption that score building is going to exist, putting the Olympic-qualification-ineligible Giorgia Villa and Asia D’Amato in the first subdivision and the eligible Maggio and Ferrari in the third subdivision.

In men’s podium training news, Nikita Nagornyy did a triple pike on floor. And it was real. Now we know why he kept trying to kill himself during lockdown. It was mental preparation. The Russian men’s team is currently dealing with the news of Artur Dalaloyan’s partial Achilles tear on the eve of the Olympics, which is NOT GREAT.

Reposting the schedule with US time zones for reference. Qualification is all streaming here, and finals are here.

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

B. Japanese Olympic Team

The process has begun. Always the first to name its Olympic teams, Japan is now the majority of the way there following last weekend’s All-Japan Championships. The two-day competition forms 2/3rds of the selection process, combined with May’s one-day NHK Cup.

The top three athletes in the AA at the end of NHK will be automatically named to the team, and the fourth athlete will be added at the discretion of the selectors from among the top all-around athletes (this is what ruined things for Mai in 2019 because her injury kept her out of NHK, so she wasn’t among those top all-around athletes to choose from).

Thankfully—so far this time—it looks like all the major contenders for the women’s team are among the actual selection pool.

After All-Japan, Murakami Mai currently enjoys a two-point lead over Hatakeda Hitomi, who has a two-point edge of her own over Hiraiwa Yuna in third place. So, Murakami and Hatakeda currently look pretty comfortable to snatch two automatic Olympic spots as long as they are able to compete at NHK.

It’s nervy time for the rest. Hiraiwa has a basically negligible lead over Sugihara Aiko, with Soma Ui, Teramoto Asuka, and Hatakeda Chiaki not all that far behind. Teramoto is the one to be worried about right now, sitting in 6th. She went for her rudi on vault, and it did not go super great, then missed on bars on the second day. She’ll need to have a huge meet at NHK to move into the top 3, or at least show a solid rudi and hits on the remaining events to make a good case for herself for the discretionary spot. Miyakawa Sae, meanwhile, did pretty well on vault and floor but is royally screwed by the emphasis on AA in selection.

On the men’s side, the big news was Daiki Hashimoto, who sat in a very troubling 7th place after the first day but had such an immense performance on the second day for 88.532 that he jumped all the way to first and suddenly looks likely to take his rightful place on the men’s Olympic team, the selection for which is basically just an impossible blender. And that’s not even getting into the issue of one-event Kohei, who recorded a gigantic score on HB, and one-event Minami Kazuki, who recorded a gigantic score on FX. And there ain’t enough individual spots for the both of you.

The one-day NHK Cup will be held in the middle of May. That will come right after we’ll receive our first look at the Chinese selection process at Chinese Nationals, May 4-9. Selecting that Chinese team is going to be monstrous.

C. GymCastic

Lots of final thoughts on Michigan’s NCAA championship win and the entire event. Plus we got a statement from USAG on whether Jade would be considered for the main Olympic team of four despite having an individual spot sewn up.

The History of Olympic Trials Controversies GymCastic: The Gymnastics Podcast

OLYMPIC TRIALS CONTROVERSIES This week, we have a commission from Club Gym Nerd member Jasmine, who asked for an episode on the history of US Olympic Trials—how teams were selected and all the major scandals. And there have been plenty. 1980 – Olympic boycott hypocrisy and what happens when gymnasts tie for the last spot? (Or have alligators?) 1984 – The case of Dianne Durham and the Olympic petition 1988 – The Perils of Rank Order: The Early Years 1992 – The back-room meeting that kept Kim Kelly off the Olympic team 1996 – Only controversial if you're a Forster? 2000 – Atler. Nuff said. The Martha Years – Were teams really chosen months in advance? Plus, we make our proposals for an ideal Olympic team selection process for the United States   JOIN CLUB GYM NERD Join Club Gym Nerd or buy a gift membership for access to Behind the Scenes episodes. Behind the Scenes: Kensley's Wedding Behind The Scenes After Olympic Trials We Have Olympic Teams! Olympic Trials Day Two for Men & Women Live From Olympic Trials: Men & Women Day One Behind The Scenes: Post-Championships Debrief Behind The Scenes: Day Two US Women's Championships 2021 Behind The Scenes: Day One US Women's Championships 2021 Buy our awesome clothing and gifts here. RELATED EPISODES Vanessa Atler Jamie Datzscher How to Stage a Gymnastics Protest Tokyo Olympics Recap
  1. The History of Olympic Trials Controversies
  2. The 2000 Olympic Trials
  3. Liverpool World Championships Event Finals and Mega Worlds Recap
  4. Liverpool World Championships Men's AA Final
  5. Liverpool World Championships Women's AA Final
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