The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – September 22, 2021

This was supposed to be about the nominative rosters for worlds, but since the FIG hasn’t released them yet following the September 20th deadline (tick tock, enemy), here are some notes on various things.

A. Worlds teams we do have

Following two worlds trials, the Dutch women’s team has been named as Vera Van Pol, Sanne Veerman, Naomi Visser, and Elze Geurts. While most of the team seemed straightforward based on the trials, there was some concern over whether Geurts—who posted the top AA score back at the first Olympic trial but didn’t make the team—would be named since she had to withdraw from the second worlds trial midway through, but she will appear at worlds. “So now you can all shut up about it,” said the Netherlands.

Canada’s women’s team will be Rose Woo, Cassie Lee, Laurie Denommee, and Audrey Rousseau. It’s nice to see Rose Woo on the team as she had a good argument for the Olympic team had Canada elected to focus on team score rather than event prospects. On the men’s team, look for Felix Dolci to do some actual things among this field at worlds.

France will send three women to worlds: Coline Devillard, Carolann Heduit, and Celia Serber. This is a prime opportunity for Devillard to challenge for a worlds medal on the one occasion each quad when she doesn’t get left off the squad because because she can’t contribute other events to a team score.

B. Chinese National Games

We’re currently in the midst of Chinese National Games. Qualification and team finals have been completed, with AA and event finals still to come later this week.

Returning to the all-around after not being able to compete floor (or successfully compete her DTY) at the Olympics, Ou Yushan won qualification, followed closely by Wei Xiaoyuan and Lu Yufei. Tang Xijing qualified in 5th—though did go on to have the highest AA score of anyone in the team final, so keep an eye on that. It was 2023 senior Qiu Qiyuan who qualified ahead of Tang in 4th, establishing herself as this fall’s exciting new junior who has never breathed pollution and hasn’t ruined your life yet.

Ou Yushan also featured on the Guangdong team that cruised to the title, though she struggled in the TF and it was down to Luo Rui to carry the province with her 55 in the all-around.

Both Wei Xiaoyuan and Luo Rui appear on China’s nominative roster for worlds, along with Li Shijia who qualified into the beam final in first place in her return from injury, and Qi Qi. So basically all the next gymnasts in line after the Olympic team.

The women’s AA will be at 3:00am ET/12:00am PT on Friday morning for those of us in the US, with event finals following the next two days and beginning at 2:30am ET/11:30pm PT. Streaming is here.

On the men’s side, Zhang Boheng has enjoyed a “leave THIS off the Olympic team, you turd-turtles” competition so far and is establishing himself as a medal favorite in the AA for worlds.

C. Romania

At Romanian Nationals, 2023 senior Amalia Puflea and 2022 senior Ana Maria Barbosu dominated proceedings with real competitive grown-up scores. Barbosu got a 14.000 on bars both days of competition. Bars. That is all.

D. NCAA changes

At its annual “let’s try to fix things, but not all of them, and not that well” meeting, the NCAA women’s committee resolved to add a rest day to the schedule for regionals and nationals. Now, the first and second rounds at regionals will be Wednesday-Thursday, with the regional final on Saturday. At nationals, the semifinals will be on Thursday, with the championship on Saturday.

This will lead to more stupid mid-week meets at terrible times that no one can watch even though it’s postseason elimination, but it’s a necessary change in the interest of athlete non-death. Next, we have to get them to hold the regional meets at better and staggered times instead of all at once (and establish that postseason meets can be held on Sundays, but don’t hold your breath for that one).

The committee has also added a new two-minute medical evaluation period if a gymnast gets injured mid-routine, after which they may still resume their routine if deemed able. Currently, athletes only have the fall-remount time on bars and beam to figure out if they still have a foot or not, and there is no mechanism to evaluate an injury on floor and still continue (if you stop and the trainer comes out, your routine is done). So this is better. Though I’m sure still full of problems. Is two minutes enough? Who’s getting the final word as to whether the two minutes can be invoked or not? How many minutes are you allowing for the inevitable music restart problems after you stop a floor routine?

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