The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

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?


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

Congressional Hearings and GOAT Tour Preview GymCastic: The Gymnastics Podcast

Club Gym Nerd members can watch the podcast being recorded and see video clips of the gymnastics while we discuss. Please login to your Club Gym Nerd account to listen and/or watch this episode. Not a member? Join here. GOATour Rehearsal Jessica went to rehearsals for the tour and HAS to tell you about what she saw, how it's different from—and so much less lame than—every other tour, and how many times she cried (it was a lot). Congressional Hearings Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nichols testified in front of a Senate committee on the FBI mishandling of the criminal ex-doctor case. We discuss: the SCATHING report from the OIG on the coverups and failures of the FBI, what we learned from their testimony, what we still want to find out, and whether this is actually going to help anything at all or if it's all just an exercise in ego and showboating for senators. US Men's Worlds Team Following two days of selection camp, the US men's world team has been named. We break down the utter tragedy of gymnastics that was the first day as well as how non-controversial the ultimate selection was…except for some noteworthy absences from the field. Gymternet News The Chinese National Games have started, it's time to irrationally get your hopes up about Romania again, and some worlds teams have been named. Plus, more news and your feedback. JOIN CLUB GYM NERD Join Club Gym Nerd or buy a gift membership for access to Behind the Scenes episodes. Behind the Scenes: Smudging Behind the Scenes: Rodeo Exercise Machine Behind the Scenes: Adventures in Crying at Disneyland Behind the Scenes: Kensley's Wedding Behind The Scenes After Olympic Trials Buy our awesome clothing and gifts here. We have masks too! And Pride gear! RELATED EPISODES 2000 Olympic Trials (Group Commission) The History of Olympic Trials Controversies How to Stage a Gymnastics Protest Tokyo Olympics Recap
  1. Congressional Hearings and GOAT Tour Preview
  2. 2000 Olympic Trials (Group Commission)
  3. The History of US Olympic Trials Controversies (Commissioned)
  4. How to Stage a Gymnastics Protest
  5. Tokyo Olympics Recap

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