Things Are Happening — August 20, 2021

A. Touch Warmup

The FIG House of Burgesses met this week in its fortress at the bottom of the ocean to come to several conclusions, the most important of which was the restoration of a touch warmup for event finals after everyone pointed out again during the Olympics how stupid not having one was. Hooray for pointing out stupid things!

It’s honestly a shockingly prompt reaction. I mean, sure, we’ve been complaining about this for 20 years, but 20 years is also pretty prompt for the FIG. I expected a working committee to be created to discuss the possibility of discussing restoring a touch warmup for the 2028 quad.

The absence of a touch warmup for EF was an unsafe dumbsie that also curtailed innovation with no real purpose, advantage, or explanation that withstood even the most basic logic test. It was just one of those weird things gymnastics did where everyone was like, “Bwelp, that’s how we do it.” Like straddling each other’s butts in height order to receive awards, or the concept of pommel horse.

B. Qualification Complication: Part Deux

The FIG meeting also approved some meet locations. The 2022 Apparatus World Cups for February and March will be in Cottbus, Baku, Cairo, and Doha, with Challenge Cups in Varna, Mersin. Osijek, Paris, and Szombathely.

The Challenge Cups are just for getting prize money for doing gymnastics, but starting in 2022 the four Apparatus World Cups will have additional world championships qualification implications for individuals. The 8 best gymnasts on each apparatus who don’t ultimately qualify to the world championship through another means will get a spot at worlds based on their performances at those four Apparatus World Cups.

Re: qualifying to the world championship through another means. In 2022, teams and all-arounders will have to qualify to worlds via the continental championships. Each continent is allocated a specific number of teams and all-around individuals that can qualify to worlds based on the gymnastics strength of that particular continent. Gymnasts who don’t end up qualifying through the continental championships with a team or as all-arounders can lean on their Apparatus World Cup performances to try to get a spot at worlds. Because just when you thought we were done with that Olympic qualification process…

These are the qualification quotas for 2022:

Women’s TeamWomen’s AAMen’s TeamMen’s AA
Host Country0101

There are plenty of issues that will crop up with this system in terms of stronger teams not qualifying while weaker teams do because of the continent they’re from, so just…get ready to have a Twitter argument about that next year. But the idea here is to make the continental championships matter a bit more, which is a solid aim, especially in the Americas where the US has always treated Pan-American competitions as a real afterthought.

Ostensibly, having a qualification system is supposed to shorten worlds to make it a little more manageable, as well as establish a minimum standard in order to qualify. It’s unusual that current gymnastics world championships have no official qualification standard, which means I—me—would legitimately be allowed to enter as long as I had enough money to hoodwink a poor unsuspecting country with no gymnastics program to let me represent them. You should at least need to have…maybe done a scored routine before, right?

That’s why I like the idea of a qualification pipeline. You have fully open events like continental championships and world cups that serve the purpose of giving competition experience and opportunities to gymnasts from a whole variety of countries, and then the gymnasts who come out of this crucible qualify to the world championship. But I have my doubts about how all of this will actually work.

There are just so many quota places available that…how much would this even change? If you’re just shoving the same number of gymnasts into fewer days of qualification because you want the event to be shorter…is that better? Or is that worse? Because it seems like it might be worse?

C. Speaking of World Cups

Just after I said last time that no rosters had been released for the Koper and Mersin Challenge Cups even though the registration deadline had long since passed…rosters were released for Koper and Mersin!

The fields are actually pretty hearty, especially in Koper, with even some Olympians already planning to check back in—including Larisa Iordache, who is on the list for Mersin. There’s also a nice mix of gymnasts I’ve never heard of on these lists, as it should be for an event right after the Olympics. Let the next quad begin! Koper event finals begin on September 4th, which should be the next closest gymnastics-watching opportunity.

9 thoughts on “Things Are Happening — August 20, 2021”

  1. Looking forward to the World Cups, but the geographic concentration is really extreme. Could we not have a single one in the Western Hemisphere? Or the Southern Hemisphere (I don’t think any of those are but could be wrong)?

      1. Technically, three are in Asia (Baku, Doha, Mersin) and one in Africa (Cairo), but pretty much as close as you can get to Europe without being in Europe (although Turkey competes in the European championships, Mersin, like most of Turkey, is in Asia). And, Paris is UTC +1 and Baku UTC +4, so three time zones.

        Still very, very unbalanced!

        I assume (hope) that this is temporary; I imagine other possible sites aren’t eager to host while Covid is still at its peak. As it is, Australia has already announced it won’t send gymnasts to Worlds because of this (qualifying individuals can apply to go anyway if willing to assume all risks themselves, i.e., the quarantine rules on return, risk of getting stuck elsewhere, etc.). I don’t suppose these sites will want to give up their host status, though, when things are more normal, so that’ll be interesting. Would they expand the number of competitions? I don’t really know whether it’s steady from year to year or not.

  2. Not a fan of this World’s qualification system as it currently stands… it’s gonna be annoyingly complicated, as it was for the Olympics, it seems! And I definitely think they will need to think about geography when it comes to the qualifying meets outside of Continental Championships. As others have pointed out above, they are all relatively accessible to those in Europe, albeit not actually all in Europe, but not accessible for those in other parts of the world who may be interested in other qualifying avenues. They also seem to be super early in the year/season to be a qualifier for an event that won’t take place until October. With how athletes in this sport try to pace themselves (which is similar to other elite athletes in other sports!) it seems there would need to be other qualifying opportunities closer to the event needing to be qualified for… especially with what’s going on with the pandemic. (Of course no one was thinking about that when they came up with this system… understandably so!)

  3. 2022 Worlds will have 24 teams and 20-22 mixed groups of 4 as opposed to 2018 Worlds which had 42-45 teams and 13-15 mixed groups of 4. It’s a ridiculous difference in size, and very necessary to convince cities to actually host a mid-quad worlds.

    1. I do like the idea of continental qualification to Worlds. It makes continentals more relevant and also reduces the subdivisions at Worlds.

  4. While the continental qualification system is typical FIG-levels of complicated, I do appreciate that there there is now an actual qualification system in place to attend the worlds. Gymnasts from developing countries will still get a significant multi-national championship to compete at and the size of the world championships will be reduced. This is a win-win from all sides.

    I’m also a fan of allowing event specialists to qualify through the Apparatus World Cups. The 2020 Olympic qualifying process was exceedingly biased in favor of AA gymnasts and I think this is a good way to reward event specialists. In my opinion, someone who is top 15 on an individual event is a stronger candidate for a Worlds/Olympics than a top 90 in the AA. I still maintain that Chuso should have qualified for worlds on the merit of her 12th place vault placement at the 2019 worlds rather than her 87th AA finish. There should definitely be spots for AA gymnasts, but it needs to be more balanced for 2024.

  5. IDK, since the Nassar scandal and the splatfest of 2017 worlds as well as reports from other countries of abuse I have lost a lot of hope for the sport. IDK why. I am not a stan of any country, I just really love gymnastics…IMHO between the COP, FIG and scoring and the treatment of gymnasts and the bias I just have lost a ton of interest. I hope this quad is interesting. I feel like gymnasts don’t enjoy it and I do not blame them. I just can not get back into it. Every quad is a smack to the face with ridiculous rules and scoring. I used to record every meet if I could not watch live, haven’t done that since 2017 Worlds. Sorry, for the rant.

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