Things Are Happening – June 14, 2021

A. It’s Not Nabs

The Nabieva 1/2 revolution is officially upon us, just in time for the Olympics.

At the Osijek World Cup this weekend, Nina Derwael competed her Nabieva 1/2—now Derwael, because this was a world cup event—showing a 6.7 D score with the new Derwael receiving a predictable H value. Since the Nabieva is a G, adding a 1/2 twist takes it up to an H.

But the performance of this skill was not without controversy in…pretty much every other department. The only one we trust, Tatiana Nabieva, was not having that lack of layout position in her royal court.

I mean…there’s no lie here.

In practice, I’d expect Derwael to get layout credit for this skill and probably a minor execution deduction. But going by the actual pictures in the code, this exact position is supposed to receive a downgrade—at least in elements in which there is no turn. Which brings us to our next point.

…Is this a turning element? Is she actually turning in this toe-on layout Tkatchev 1/2? Derwael’s technique is to perform a regular Nabieva right through to grasping the bar and then use the crossed position of her hands to force the 1/2 turn in the swing through.

In the women’s code, there’s no mechanism to say, “Yeah but you have to turn in the air if it’s a turning skill” since I guess no one could have possibly foreseen this, so once again I fully expect this to get credit as a laid out Tkatchev with 1/2 turn for Derwael at the Olympics. And ultimately with only minor deductions. But you can bet if Sunisa Lee is in that bars final, NBC is going to decide to really care about the specifics of Nabieva 1/2 execution starting at that moment and never again.

Derwael was not the only athlete to debut a 1/2-turning Nabieva this weekend, with Sanne Wevers skipping a grade and going straight past the clear-hip layout Tkatchev to the clear-hip layout Tkatchev 1/2 at Dutch trials on Sunday.

Unlike Derwael, Wevers does initiate her 1/2 twist before grasping the bar, so there’s less question of whether this is an actual 1/2 twist. In terms of deductions, though, Wevers would incur far more execution deductions than Derwael would on her version because of the crazy legs on catch.

In nonsensical and totally predictable news, Wevers’ skill has also received an H rating, just like Derwael’s. A couple problems with that. This is a break with precedent because other Tkatchevs out of a clear hip are rated a tenth higher than their sisters with a toe-on entry (i.e., the Hindorff at E, the Ray at D), but now it seems that all layout Tkatchevs are being viewed as Gs and all 1/2 turns are going to be viewed as Hs.

Sure? Shrug emoji? Psychiatric institution entry?

Plus, the technique Wevers uses to perform the skill is way more difficult than what Derwael does, and we’re not seeing that reflected in skill value.

It’s another example of the FIG deciding to cap skills in ways that defy their own logic once they start getting too difficult or highly valued, even though YOU PICKED AN OPEN-ENDED CODE.

We’ll also have to see if Wevers’ skill stays in the routine, or if it was more of a “I wanted to try something” situation, because the above GIF depicts her second attempt. She fell on the first attempt, in a routine where she ended up falling three times and getting a 9. Wevers is on my Dutch team regardless because of…hello, beam…but I could see an effort to safety-up this routine if she’s still struggling to hit it when things start mattering.

This weekend’s competition was just the first of two Dutch trials and, phew, because naming that team is basically impossible at this point. Eythora Thorsdottir did not participate in this trial but hopes to be ready for the second event in a couple weeks, so there’s only so much one can do in terms of putting together a Dutch team until we know how Thorsdottir is looking and whether she’s ready to contribute Olympic scores.

What we do know is that Elze Geurts sealed the all-around victory at this first trial while showing a DTY, which is a big result for her. In terms of those who could join the team and balance out Sanne Wevers not doing vault and floor, Geurts is currently looking like the best option. I’d expect Tisha Volleman to try to bring back the DTY at the next trial, which she could use to make that same case for herself instead. The role of balancing out Sanne’s events has typically fallen to Volleman in recent years.

B. “Likely Gerasimova”

A little update on the state of the Russians after event finals.

Following Valentina’s pre-EF proclamation that the fourth member of the women’s team would be “likely Gerasimova,” Akhaimova showed up to the vault final and improved tremendously on her handspring rudi from the first two days of competition, scoring a 14.766. That kind of score would, in fact, contribute to the Russian team total and helps close the gap between the potential Gerasimova team and the potential Akhaimova team.

In bad news for Akhaimova, every single person in the entire world had a disastrous beam in the event final. Even though the disaster including Gerasimova on this occasion (for silver), I’d imagine that horror show will maintain Beam Fear as the biggest concern for the Russian team heading into the Olympics. And not trusting the other people to hit beam is pretty much entirely why Gerasimova would be on Valentina’s favored team in the first place.

Meanwhile Zubova ended up winning the beam title.

Take her?

Kidding?

Not actually kidding?

C. Thank you, Germany

Germany really helped all of us with our self care this weekend by naming a straightforward and ultimately sensible Olympic team of Elisabeth Seitz, Sarah Voss, Pauline Schäfer, and Kim Bui, with Emelie Petz as alternate.

It wasn’t a complete no-brainer of a decision because teams with Petz in place of Bui were scoring pretty close to the named team through the selection process, and Bui fell on bars at the final trial which mean she wasn’t part of the highest-scoring team based on that day alone.

But—and stay with me on this one—sometimes a single routine isn’t the best indicator of who should be on an Olympic team. Taking into account scores from the national championship all-around, national event finals, and the final trial, the named team enjoyed a consistent edge of about 4 tenths across various permutations. This is the highest-scoring team.

At this point, the German team is looking at a peak score in the 164s and an average score around 161, which puts them below the level of the named teams for Japan and Great Britain, which are looking at peak scores in the 168s, with Japan averaging in the 166s and GB averaging in the 163s.

D. The French Team

France also announced its Olympic team today, which is theoretically absent much drama as well. But, we don’t have scores from the final internal trial (THUMBS DOWN), so it’s not really possible to say how much sense this team makes.

Anyway, Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos, Carolann Heduit, Marine Boyer, and Aline Friess will be heading to the Olympics. De Jesus Dos Santos was obvious, and after a dominating nationals performance, Heduit became obvious as well, showing routines that France will probably use on every event should the team advance to TF. She’s an essential addition to make up for the injury to Lorette Charpy.

Marine Boyer has been on every single team ever, so seeing her here is not a surprise despite the fact that she has been struggling on beam this year and missed both routines at nationals. She’s going to be part of the best-case-scenario team score—and still managed to finish 2nd AA at nationals even without good beam numbers.

For the fourth spot, the team went with Aline Friess, presumably because of vault. Friess had a handspring rudi at 2019 worlds, which has helped her sort of muscle Coline Devillard out of the way because Friess can also provide at minimum qualification/backup routines on the other events. If she has her rudi, I can easily see that adding more tenths to the team than any other option for the final spot. This team may be a little light in terms of a third bars score without Charpy, but not I’m sure there were any other team options that would have provided a better bars score.

Next up on the team naming front is Canada’s announcement on June 17th. The Dutch team will have their final trial on June 26th, and the Belgian team will be decided following the FIT Challenge the weekend of June 26th and 27th.

In terms of Spanish team selection, we know that both Ana Perez and Cintia Rodriguez won’t be going to the Olympics because of injury. So it was fun while it lasted?

E. The McCools

Jay Clark is getting the band back together. (Those sweet 2010 season memories?)

In a total coaching staff refresh, LSU announced that Courtney McCool and Husband McCool will be joining Jay’s staff following 1) the retirement of Bob Moore and 2) Ashleigh Clare-Kearney switching to a real job in the athletics department that doesn’t need to have the title “volunteer” in front of it like she’s a museum docent. That honor will instead go to McCool, who looks like she will still be in the volunteer capacity, with Husband and Ashleigh Gnat as the assistant coaches on staff.

F. Doha list

The nominative list for the Doha World Cup—final apparatus Olympic qualifier—has been released, and I’m actually semi-surprised by the fact that there are more than 11 people on it. I thought it would just be anyone still in contention for a spot and no one else…because why would you?

It may still end up being that way, but for now…

Ferrari and Mori are scheduled to compete as they vie for the floor spot, which is still TBD, though Ferrari needs a win to have a shot. The absence of Yu Linmin also means that Coline Devillard (who is on the list for this meet) has clinched 2nd place on vault should something happen with the Jade Carey spot.

Also still significant will be whether the FIG redistributes the points that Carey previously earned on floor when they officially award her the vault spot. That could seriously affect a potential Ferrari/Mori tiebreak situation.

Epke Zonderland is listed, though he stated that he’s not going to compete if Miyachi doesn’t attend (in which case Zonderland’s spot is secure). Since Miyachi isn’t on the list, don’t expect Zonderland to show either.

Petrounias is on the list and will need to win rings and defeat Liu Yang on the score tiebreak to get the rings spot, which would then throw the Chinese spot into disarray with a number of tiebreak scenarios that we’ll have to work through if it happens.

G. GymCastic

Tokyo Olympics: Women's All Around Final GymCastic: The Gymnastics Podcast

All the details you didn't see on tv, direct from Tokyo. Sunisa Lee almost flew off bars but WISELY changed both her floor and beam routines to become the first ever Asian American, Hmong, all around Olympics Champion. Rebeca Andrade came back from three ACL surgeries to win silver with a gorgeous Cheng, and Melnikova proved her place after winning gold with her team. Plus all the deets from your favorites like Popa, Jade and Brooklyn. 
  1. Tokyo Olympics: Women's All Around Final
  2. Tokyo Olympics: Mens AA Final
  3. Tokyo Olympics: Women's Gymnastics Team Final
  4. Tokyo Olympics: Men's Team Final
  5. Tokyo Olympics: Women's Qualifying

9 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – June 14, 2021”

  1. Once again, the WTC has botched the valuing of a skill. When it comes to Tkatchev variations, the toe-on variations are valued one-tenth less than stalder, clear hip, and inbar variations with one major exception which I will explain below.

    Prior to the 2013-2016 code, the toe-on variations were worth the same as stalder, clear hip, and inbar variations, including the Tweddle (toe on straddled hecht with half turn). In the 2013 code revision, the toe-on Tkatchev (Ray) was devalued to a D (same as the regular Tkatchev), but they missed the Tweddle which stayed an F instead of being downgraded to an E and equivalent to the Kononenko (long hang swing Tkatchev with half-turn).

    Since the Nabieva is an G, any stalder, clear hip, or inbar entry to a layout hecht should be an H. Adding a half turn should make it an I…

    Regarding execution, I think Derwael is right on the very cusp of a downgrade. Any more pike and it should be downgraded to……a skill that actually doesn’t exist… there isn’t a toe-on piked Tkatchev with half-turn in the Code.

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  2. Has anyone else noticed that there’s a Team USA Fund commercial that’s replaced video of Simone Biles with video of Suni Lee? It’s one that I’ve always laughed at because it was about how when your lifetime dream is put off a year “you want it even more”, but initially only showed athletes who’ve competed in at least one Olympics or Paralympics already. I think it actually makes it a more accurate commercial to use Suni, but it’s the only athlete change in the commercial since I first saw it over a year ago. The change is since US Nationals. Interestingly, I think Suni does the exact same moves in the new version as Simone did in the original.

    (I would have put this comment on “The Big Three… and Me?” as I think it was more relevant, but I wanted to at least mention it somewhere.)

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    1. I didn’t remember that Simone had been in the commercial before; thank you for mentioning it. Interesting change – was Simone wearing Nike by any chance in the previous version?

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      1. I can’t remember, sorry. The commercial definitely isn’t all Nike athletes, though. It includes Katie Ledecky who is with TYR. (I’m not sure if there are any swimmers with Nike)

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  3. Since the ability to comment on most recent post has been removed, I’m going to put my comments here:

    No one showed their peak gymnastics across all events they competed, so trials is going to be more intense than ever before. However, even when not at their very best, the scores put up by Biles, Chiles, and Sunisa Lee are tough to beat with the exception of vault.

    This is where McCusker is starting to look more and more like a viable option, even if she is unable to do vault and floor – she is one of a few gymnasts who can improve quite a bit on the main 3’s bars and beam score. 15 on bars and 14.5 on beam are very possible for McCusker and would add more than anyone is adding on vault alone. However, there is a risk using McCusker on the team if she can’t do vault or floor.

    McCallum and DiCello also are viable options. Unfortunately for them, they need to nail all 4 events with all difficulty and connections made for the score advantage to appear. They don’t have a single event where they can add 0.5 or more so they have to rely on 0.2 and 0.3 advantages here and there which they have not shown. I originally thought DiCello would provide a more consistent advantage on bars, but with Chiles getting so good at bars and DiCello faltering here lately, her bars argument isn’t there. However, if DiCello shows high 14s on bars, low 14s on beam, and keeps her 14s on floor, then I think the spot is hers.

    This is where Skinner continues to be a compelling option. She can provide that large advantage on a single, consistent event – vault – especially if judging is stricter on DTYs and less strict on Amanars and Chengs like what tends to happen at Worlds and the Olympics. What maker Skinner’s case even stronger is if she can eek out a few more tenths on floor from her nationals peak and if Carey can’t manage to get her vaults back. If Skinner shows two 14s on floor and Carey is stuck with a DTY and Lopez at Trials, I think that could be enough to push Skinner onto the team.

    And we still haven’t talked about the possibility that someone breaks out with two 15+ days on beam at trials. We’ve seen 15s domestically from several gymnasts and I would definitely watch the beam situation at trials, even if just for the 6th spot.

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  4. Also a comment re. the most recent post:

    I’m really surprised no one seems to have mentioned this when considering the 4 team make up but – unfortunately (for excitement’s sake) the USA is going to win the team final irrespective of who they take as their fourth member, so surely it makes sense to take the person that has the best shot at an individual medal (of course it would also be helpful if that person is capable of all around but that’s pretty much everyone). That approach probably would mean that Skinner is out (which would be a shame as I’m really routing for her – something I never thought I’d say) unless as someone mentioned above Jade doesn’t have her vaults back, in which case perhaps skinner becomes a better medal prospect on vault.

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    1. Your eminently sensible point got discussed a lot before comment sections here became quite limited. The nonsense about ‘AA gymnasts’ from Forster and others is a joke, considering that USA Gym exists only for medals and corruption. (Gymnasts are only a regrettably necessary annoyance to that organization and, of course, are not to be considered when making decisions affecting their careers/lives.)

      Now that Brit Gym completed its ugly vendetta against Downie, McCusker is by light years the most likely second medalist other than Carey (Biles and Lee being big favorites to be the first medalists on their strong events) unless Carey really is seriously injured and doesn’t even have her vaults back at Trials, in which case as you say Skinner might have a chance. If McCusker did a bars routine like her beautiful one from championships she would have an excellent chance in Tokyo. I am not a Carey fan but certainly hope serious injury isn’t the case; it was worrying that she did the Lopez and DTY at championships.

      Interesting you say that about Skinner and rooting for her. I admire her hard work but think her form is still too flawed, particularly on bars and beam where she is doing skills too hard/unsuitable for her. Her stans have made a cesspool of the comments on every youtube video which deals with US team selection; several of them must have moved there after Spencer took steps here, lol.

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    2. I definitely agree with the above two posts. I think there is a a slim, but real chance that the US women could get 2 AA medals, team gold, and 2 medals in each event final. Carey at her absolute best would join Simone on the vault and floor podium, Sunisa Lee should be on the bars podium, and a hit routine from Simone will easily make the beam podium. Both Chiles and Sunisa Lee also have high beam and floor final potential provided certain people miss/they have an excellent day.

      Beam is such a crap shoot, but McCusker has proved that she can get into the 15s on bars and into the high 14s on beam. If that’s what she does at trials, she should be one of the six gymnasts in Tokyo especially since one of the top 3 bars workers in the world is sadly out.

      Where things get complicated is if Carey is not 100% at trials and won’t be competing her full difficulty in Tokyo. I find it hard to believe that someone who can pull off a triple twisting double layout in practice is so injured that she can’t recover her full difficulty. However, seeing a mediocre DTY and Lopez at nationals was concerning, especially since she would be well-served to ward off any “well maybe we should take MyKayla as vault backup” talk. While I still think MyKayla could make sense on the 4-person team, her chances go up if Carey is unfortunately too injured by Tokyo to do her Amanar/Cheng pair of vaults. Of the non-Simone’s, either Carey or Skinner’s vault is the next most likely event medal (above Sunisa’s bars or anyone else’s beam). Not ending up with two vault medals would be a major missed opportunity.

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