The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Winter Cup Live Blog

Elite? Wha? Who’s she? I barely know. Switching gears today for a live blog of the senior women’s session at Winter Cup, where the likes of Konnor McClain, Skye Blakely, Katelyn Jong, and insert name will compete for the first time in the new triennium and the first time under the new code. Goodbye candle mounts, multiple wolf turns, split leaps, and 1/2 jumps from side position, we hardly miss ye.

At stake will be…teams for that team competition in Stuttgart next month, with the top 3 AA today automatically getting spots on the squad. Hopefully we see a random new-era gymnast emerge who we’ve never heard of before who crushes all expectations and a couple skulls. The top scorer—by a lot—among those who’ve had to compete at the elite qualifiers is Ashlee Sullivan of WOGA.

First rotation start list:  Screen Shot 2022-02-26 at 9.51.48 AM

Meanwhile, my NBC affiliate is currently showing Nightly News with Lester Holt Kids Edition. That’s a thing? Because nothing says HEY KIDS like the words “nightly news with Lester Holt.” You know there are CARTOONS that exist, right? And you could be watching those instead? Watch those instead. They’re great.

Update on how the men exist, Guimaraes winning the title. We did not in fact get an update on the stupid bonus system, which is the only update I wanted. Everyone’s score was like 16.678 for no reason and it was amazing. NBC Lady had to say some SOCCER words and it was an adventure. Felt very comfortable with the terminology. Very.

It’s the Konnor McClain Winter Cup!

Rotation 1

Sullivan – FX – DLO 1/1, solid, small rebound – DLO, somewhat deep, lunge back – L hop full to switch 1/2, slightly awkward stepping in between the two – attempted double L turn maybe not around for credit but close – front tuck through to double tuck, bounce – split leap full, solid – double pike, stumble back, a couple steps. Should score well, good tumbling difficulty. Donatella will give it an X. 12.850. 7.450 E score.

Nastia: “My mom didn’t coach me. She was my first coach.” Good.

Blakely – FX – DLO, chest up, bounce back – switch ring to split leap full, nice switch ring, split full OK – full in, chest down and a bounce back – wolf 2.25 turn – front 2/1 to front tuck, comfortable, little hop, some legs – switch full, got it around – double tuck, hop back.

Tim just called WOGA WOGO.

Expect a higher execution score than Sullivan for body position and dance elements and the like.

13.250 for Blakely. 7.850 E.

Alipio – FX – just a double tuck first pass, step – L turn 2.5ish, good horiztontal position – switch ring to switch 1/2, nice toe point – y spin double, also around for credit – back 1.5 to front full – wolf turn double, also fine – double pike is rough, very short, hand down. Composition wise there’s not a lot of tumbling going on, which is not necessarily a bad idea. That’s the lesson learned from the Olympics. Do less. But she struggled to complete that full routine. February.

3 routines and a commercial! Fun! No notes!

11.850 for Alipio with a fall. 6.850 E score. So worth noting that with a hit she would have outscored Sullivan, who did DLO 1/1 and DLO, while Alipio did double tuck and double pike.

Tim and Nastia with their annual complaining about the code. I mean I wouldn’t say they really made it HARDER this time. Just changes. Not necessarily more difficulty, just different. And if you want to get an 8 E score on floor, try doing a single artistry.

“Waiting for head judge to finalize score. Just crazy.” But…why?

When I (ME) think you’re complaining too much, it’s a problem.

Frazier – BB – aerial to split to straddle, solid – front tuck, very secure – split ring jump, fairly OK back leg, not a lot of closure but good split – wait wait she’s doing the side jump 1/2? – bhs layout, larger check, some pike throughout – switch ring – double pike is excellent.

There’s disagreement about this on twitter, but I don’t think she’s getting side jump 1/2 credit with the new technique since she doesn’t complete the 1/2 turn before initiating the split, which is what they want. Watching it back she definitely is attempting to do it differently but I think they’re going to be extra harsh on that. We shall see. And that layout is very much risking downgrade. Basically everything that’s risky is in this routine.

And they give her 5.5/8.200.

McClain – FX – DLO 1/1, some pike, litlte hop forward – good switch 1/2 – DLO, chest forward, again little hop – switch ring to split leap full, a little under on split full – wolf double, clearly around – 1.5 to front full, solid, little hop – only a back layout final pass. Nice start, not a full routine yet.

13.150 with a 5.2 D score. Highest E on floor so far.

Morgan – BB – wolf triple, pulls it around – side somi, secure – another split jump 1/2 from side position whyyyyyyyyyyyy – bhs loso, small check, knees – split leap to aerial, again the split leap has been downgraded to an A so that combination no longer gets bonus – side aerial, secure – switch to switch 1/2, short, large leg up check – bhs to just a layout dismount.

Lots of things in that one for no credit. Which, if you’re just like, “I’m competing at Winter Cup and then I’m going to do L10 and college” is fine because those are still valuable there. But if you’re trying to compete as an elite, why?

Oooh six whole routines in the first rotation. Camryn Richardson leads because she did vault and a DTY.

NBC using any opportunity to show that picture of Suni with Charles Barkley, which is correct. LOLLL a montage of all the gymnasts getting a 10 culminating Simone getting engaged. Because the true victory for any female athlete is snaring a man.

Rotation 2

Blakely – VT – solid DTY, step back, should get a good number – she had a little angle and bent elbows on block but I didn’t think it was as big a deal as Tim and Nastia do. 13.800

Alipio – VT – Y1.5 with a deep landing and a large crossover step to the side – pretty form in the beginning but didn’t fully get it around. 13.200

Two vaults and another commercial!

“They lowered all the vault scores!” needs to be contextualized with the information that vault was scoring way too high compared to the other events and this was an attempt to bring scores more into line with the other events.

McClain – VT – excellent height on her DTY, good layout position, bounce back

Frazier – FX – split jump full, hit – double double tucked, chest down, step forward – DLO, bounce back – switch ring to split ring 1/2, very low front leg so risking some credit there – wolf turn, a little out of control but pulls it around – front full through to double tuck, lunge forward – switch 1/2 is nice – solid work overall. Best floor of the bunch so far. 13.500 with a 7.800 E score.

Sullivan – VT – DTY is brought around pretty well, hop back

German – UB – inbar to inbar full, pretty late – inbar shap to tkatchev, through it – piked ricna, close catch – pak, hit – stalder shap – blind to front giant 1/2 to DLO, bounce back.

Mueller – BB – front tuck mount, pretty good, small hop – wolf double, solid – punch front and falls – split jump to straddle – side aerial to loso, another fairly large break but saved it – switch leap, breaks connecting into switch 1/2 but among the more realistic switch 1/2s in there – double tuck, hop. Potential.

One thing I like is that the scores stopped updating.

McClain takes the lead after 2, followed by Frazier and Blakely. So no surprises there. Jong is 4th, whom we have not seen.

Rotation 3

Little – VT – hits a yfull. We haven’t seen her return to that time when she was like 18 months and doing a DTY. A solid college 9.800

Nastia’s like, most athletes don’t pay attention to the scores but I knew EXACTLY how many tenths I had over Shawn.

Frazier – VT – big amplitude of her DTY, overdoes it and a large bounce back, but fairly solid layout position, a little bit of soft knees and leg crossing. 13.750

Barros – BB – wolf turn, solid – lone back tuck – side aerial to loso, secure landing – switch, check, no connection – switch 1/2, short – aerial, small hesitation before split and straddle – bhs bhs double pike, takes is pretttty close to the beam, step forward. 13.100

Nastia, which gymnastics have stood out to you? Um, the three we’ve seen.

McClain – UB – weiler 1/2, solid hs and lovely toe point -stalder shap to attempted clear hip full, does an accidental clear hip 1.5 with a large leg break, corrects, adds 1/2 turn to go the right way – Church to pak is huge – van leeuwen, small leg break – just a double pike dismount, step back. A mistake and a low D dismount but some very good moments as well. Signs of bars progress. 12.450

Sullivan – UB – toe full to maloney to pak, a little low but hit – van leeuwen with some crazy legs – tkatchev, close but hit – front giant 1/2 – DLO dismount, clean position, step. 12.600

Blakely – UB – toe 1/2 to piked jaeger, solid – Ricna to pak, small leg break on Pak – van leeuwen, legs – solid hs work – toe full, late into double tuck, small step. Things of course and another easier dismount but probably the most composed bars we’ve seen.

Fatta – FX – 2.5 through to double tuck, bounce back – double pike, chest down but mostly controlled – gets caught up in her wolf turn attempt, hits her foot and doesn’t get around anything – switch to split leap 1.5, not quite around on the 1.5 – split jump full – front tuck through to 2/1, jarred stagger back, kept it in bounds. That wolf turn was a win for comedy though.

Who’s winning? WHO KNOWS? WHO CARES?

Apparently Frazier is winning, followed by Blakely, then McClain, then Jong. Good to know!

Another conversation about who has stood out. It’s the gymnasts who are winning and we’ve seen.

Rotation 4

Jong – BB – she exists as a person???? – wolf double, a little tight but around – back tuck full, hit, bounce back, keeps it on the beam – front tuck, pretty solid, little lean – standing loso to back pike-ish – switch to pike jump, great attention to completion of pike jump position – double pike, pulled around, lunge back. 13.050

Frazier – UB – Nabieva was hit but attempted to connect into a Pak that went fully crazy, into a sheep position and way over the bar, couldn’t grab the bar – fall looked painful but she’s back up – toe full is good into maloney to tkatchev, solid – front toe 1/2 – DLO, small hop. Bars has always been the challenge for her. Actually some better executed moments at the end after that BIZARRE fall.

12.200 will still put her ahead of Jong.

McClain – BB – pause before standing back tuck full, excellent – bhs bhs layout, good lift, keeps hips pretty well open – switch to switch 1/2, solid – aerial to split jump to straddle jump, should get combination there – side aerial, little lean – switch ring, hit, some back leg position risk – bhs bhs double pike, hop back. Overall, the strongest routine of the day. That we’ve seen.

Nastia wants it to score over 9 in execution. And I want to never have to talk to anyone again. We don’t get what we want.

14.600 for McClain. Excellent.

Sullivan – BB – candle mount, which is now a C instead of a D, so you can still do it, it’s just not so valuable – “we see a lot of gymnasts do it but unique mount”…? – arabian, very solid bhs loso loso, hits it, lean to the side, some knees – aerail to straddle to split, comfortable – onodi, I mean she is a WOGA gymnast after all – lone switch – bhs bhs double pike, takes her a little off line, hop back

13.500 for her.

Blakely – BB – shoulder roll mounting – wolf triple is very solid – bakc tuck full, hit but a leg up wobble, leg up to horizontal – front hs to front tuck, saved it, large lean over, good save because one foot was off on the fhs – switch, pauses before switch 1/2, short back leg, into back tuck – aerial to split to straddle is hit – side aerial, arm wave wobble – double tuck dismount is hit, step to the side.

She needed over 14 to pass McClain, which won’t happen there.

“Good day for WOGA!” Nastia in the family commercial.

13.500 for Blakely.

I have no idea what Tim is talking about referring to bringing back originality in WAG.

Alipio – BB – loso mount, good form, leg up wobble – side aerial to loso loso, pulls it out, some low position – aerial to split jump, another wobble – wolf double, can’t get it around, got really slow in the second turn and falls – switch to switch 1/2, shy on switch 1/2 position, check, can the FIG’s next beam obsession be making less switch 1/2s? – side somi, secure – gainer tuck full, hop.

I hear END OF MEET music. So we’ll wait and see what the scores were!

But at least they tried to get Konnor 2024 started.

McClain’s beam the absolute highlight of this competition. Despite not having her full composition ready on every event, she was the standout performer today. Frazier had three solid events (my problems with the beam composition notwithstanding, she hit it well). Among the newer ones, Sullivan, Matthews, and Jong had the best days. We saw none of Matthews, but that’s a big result for her.

So it will be McClain, Blakely, and Frazier in the top 3, automatically making the team for Stuttgart. If you were trying to maximize team score, you’d add some bars to that group, but they may also just end up taking the next AAers.

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