The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

World Championships – Women’s Podium Training Day 1

I’m here in the arena in Liverpool for the first day of women’s podium training, where we’ll have two of the ten subdivisions in action. The first subdivision will feature the US and Belgium, while the second subdivision will have Spain and what’s left of Romania.

In this first subdivision, we’ll get some insight into the US lineup decisions and who might end up doing the AA based on the competition order. We’ll also have Nina Derwael, who hasn’t competed yet this year.

The women will have 90 minutes for each subdivision, the same amount of time the men had in their first of two podium trainings, which has caused some consternation at the event since the men have 2 more events to get through in the same time period.

The floor vacuuming team just yelled “four minutes,” so that’s where we are.

Athletes being introduced now. There’s no stage in the arena to do a little intro dance, just a floor-level catwalk.

All six US women in the floor first touch. Blakely will start.

Blakely – FX – DLO 1/1, pikes down some, bounces OOB – DLO, bounce back, solid – wolf doubleish – switch ring to split leap 1.5 attempt, not quite all the way – front 2/1 – switch 1/2 – double tuck, small movement, chest down. Fine.

Nina started for Belgium on beam, a tentative one with a couple larger lean checks, but she stayed on. Had the funky split ring in there – gainer pike full dismount –

Jones – FX – wolf double, good – double double tucked, hop back – split leap full – lovely high DLo, slide back – double L turn – front tuck to double tuck, shuffle – L hop full to switch 1/2 – nice one. Don’t use it up!

Chiles – FX – 1.5 to FTDT, hop back – DLO 1/1 is around, chest down – wolf double – L hop full to split leap full – switch side 1/2 probably not getting all the way around – front loso to double tuck, step back

We have an ankle roll for Belgium on beam dismount. I was watching the US but it wasn’t Nina, Brassart, Verkest, or Vaelen. So let’s go with Louon.

Carey – FX – DLO 2/1 is back – DLO 1/1 second pass – switch full – front loso to double tuck, bounce back – split leap full didn’t go for that position – FTDT, short landing, lunge. So she’s bringing back some difficulty.

Wong – FX – double double tuck, landed, chest down – popa – goes for the piked double arabian, very deep, nearly sits it but doesn’t – L hop full to switch 1/2 – 2.5 to pike 1/2, litle hop – double pike, bounce back.

Zeiss will go next, so this order tells me the four in Q will go Blakely, Jones, Chiles, Carey, and then Wong is the odd one out, which we would expect on this event based on selection.

Zeiss – FX – 2.5 to front pike, some leg crossing on the 2.5 – back 1.5 is very low, tries to connect into front full and sits it down.

So the US went one and done on routines and now will wait for the other events to finish.

Nina 2nd beam turn – loso mount, good – bhs loso, clean – switch to split ring leap – aerail, small pause before split jump to bhs – side somi – wolf double – gainer pike 1/1, hop forward. MUCH more solid than her last turn.

Zeiss did get back up on floor and redid the pass she fell on in her turn.

Looks like Wong is warming up in the first spot on vault. Blakely 5th and Zeiss 6th.

Wong sits down her first DTY attempt, lots of leg crossing.

Now Chiles and Carey doing timers for their second vaults.

Jones with a super high DTY (and not her best block even), a couple steps back, not really trying to control the landing today.

Blakely pretty clean DTY, small step back.

Zeiss hits a DTY, crossed legs, step –

Now Wong does a timer for a round off 1/2 on vault.

Chiles deep on a Lopez attempt, sits it down, not REALLY a try to land.

Carey warms up a Lopez.

Next tries:

Wong – gets her DTY to her feet this time, step back, lots of leg crossing still. A struggle.

Wong will do another vault – A Lopez, has to tuck it some at the end –

Jones – another strong DTY with a hop back. She has looked good in this rotation.

Chiles – good DTY, hop back, some leg crossing.

Chiles VT 2, easy Lopez this time, a large bounce back

Carey managed to stick a Cheng just now, it was alllllll over the place in the air, but she channeled Paseka and was like, I LAND THIS.

Carey’s second vault is DTY, very solid, some leg crossing, small hop back.

Blakely – solid DTY again, medium step back.

Zeiss pulls around a DTY, chest well down.

The order here would seem to indicate a Q vault order of Wong, Jones, Chiles, Carey, but I would definitely have Blakely in the lineup instead of Wong based on this training rotation.

Maneuvering the use of time and apparatus in these mixed specialist groups has been an adventure.

The US moves to bars now in the third rotation.

Bars warmup order for their little partial first touches looks like Chiles, Carey, Wong, Jones, Blakely, Zeiss. So I guess we’re going to assume Blakely is out on bars at this point.

Louon has not returned for Belgium on the remaining events.

Chiles – UB – toe full to piked tkatchev to pak, solid – maloney to giegner, solid height on this one – piked jaeger, good – bail, hits vertical, connects to toe shoot – FTDT, near stick. Strong one.

Vaelen landed a rudi, lots of legs and a lunge.

Carey – UB – Ray, hit – yezhova, clean – maloney, legs, to bhardwaj, leg break only at the end – van leeuwen – giant full – FTDT, hop back. Fine.

Wong – UB – stalder 1/2 to jaeger – toe full to bhardwaj, leg spearation – maloney to pak, takes it too close to the bar and improvises a hip circle – van leeuwen is hit – DLO, a bit short, hop forward.

Jones – UB – stalder full to stalder shap to tkatchev – toe full to stalder tkatchev piked to pak, excellent – van leeuwen, hit – blind to front giant to double front, lunge forward. Another really nice one.

Blakely – UB – stalder 1/2 to piked jaeger, clean – Ricna to pak, good – teo full, gets to vertical pretty well – van leeuwen, some leg break – double front 1/2 out, near stick. She’s having a nice day. Second event where Blakely is allegedly not in the lineup but did not have the weakest routine.

Zeiss – UB – toe full is late into pak – maloney to gienger, gets it – yezhova, legs apart – van leeuwen – FTDT, good stick.

Wong gets back up and does toe full to bharwaj, maloney to pak – the pak is still close but works through it just fine this time.

The feelings about Laurent’s blue polo shirt that matches the leos are MIXED.

On to the fourth rotation.

Initial touch order on beam was Carey, Jones, Chiles, Blakely, Wong, Zeiss.

Nina just did a spectacular middle-of-routine in the initial touch.

Carey – BB – forward roll mount – full turn (because they feel she’ll get fewer deductions with that than if she tries to dance) – bhs loso loso is secure – side aerial to split to straddle, comfortable – aerial, some knee position – switch 1/2, short, a check – switch side, slightly crooked – split jump 1/2 from side, secure – bhs bhs double pike, large stumble back, a couple steps.

Jones – BB – Arabian, small check – switch to sissone, good – bhs, a bit of knee, to loso, small check – swtich side, leg-up wobble – good straddle jump from side – side aerial, solid – bhs bhs double pike, step back. Some things, but a good one.

Chiles – BB – bhs loso loso, right on – aerial to straddle to bhs, some feet in straddle, again secure – small hesitation in full turn – side somi – switch to sissone, slightly wobbly – side aerial, another small lean – switch side – double pike, step back. Only small corrections in that one, a good one.

Derwael – UB – Stalder tkatchev 1/2 to yezhova to Stalder shaposh to pak to maloney to bhardwahj – all connected – van leeuwen, good – toe full to FTDT, small hop. So she’s back. Excellent.

She went at the same time as Blakely so I missed some of her beam first touch, but I didn’t see a fall out of the corner of my eye or anything.

Wong – BB – struggles on her wolf jump full, grabs the beam – bhs loso, short on her loso and falls – L turn and falls again, she is really fighting it today – swtich ring, arm wave – aerial is pretty – side aerial, smooth – side somi, secure – 2.5 dismount, legs, hop forward.

Wong has had a rough podium training today across the events. Interested to see how her second beam routine goes.

Normally it would be ridiculous to have Wong on this team and not have her in the beam lineup, but…

Zeiss – BB – bhs mount – bhs loso loso and falls – wolf double is hit – side aerial, arm wave – split jump to sissone – switch 1/2, feet – aerial, short, step back – double tuck, good, small step.

Wong is back up on beam for a second try, just checked on choreo – switch to wolf jump full is pretty this time, good combo – bhs loso, step back – L turn, good, kept leg up – switch ring, lower back foot – aerial, smooth – side aerial, hit – side somi, arm wave – 2.5, legs, hop to the side. Miles better than her first routine.

Jones is repeating the Arabian a couple times.

So that does it for the first subdivision. Interesting day. Jones and Chiles looked very strong, and Carey mostly looked her normal and showed an upgraded floor. Blakely, much like the selection camp, did everything she could do. And then it’s sort of…what do you do with Wong? And is there anyone on national staff empowered to do something.

Even though she struggled on her pak today, I think you still want her possible bars score. And I don’t think, in the post-Martha era, you would just drop an athlete from the five and go with all AAers.

We’re into subdivision 2 now, and the stark reality of just two Romanians in this subdivision is really setting in.

Casabuena got a spot on a piked full in to start Spain’s floor and now she’s working Y spins.

Barbosu – UB – Ricna to pak, hit with legs – van leeuwen – toe on to blind to front giant 1/2 – FTDT, pings a little but holds the stick with some coaching help. Solid.

Preda – UB – clear hip 1/2 to jaeger, feet but caught – Ray, pak, straddled – van leeuwen, legs apart – toe full – double pike, step forward.

THE ENTIRE ROMANIAN BARS LINEUP HIT.

Emma Fernandez finishes out her floor turn with a double pike, bounce back

Casabuena – FX – hits her piked full in solidly – double y spin, around – double tuck, a little short, hop forward – pretty solid split positions and finished with a stuck double pike. That would score quite well if repeated in competition.

Barbosu added in a clear hip piked tkatchev in her next turn and it was successful.

Ok we’re going on to the next rotation with Spain on vault and the Romanians on beam.

Barbosu – BB- great front tuck mount – fhs, checks – sissone, short leg – does a fhs front tuck – switch to switch 1/2, secure – wolf double full, lean forward – split leap full, pulls it around, quite short of split – 2/1 dismount

Preda – BB – bhs mount is hit – side aerial to bhs, pretty – side somi, falls – switch to split to swingdown, good – switch 1/2 – split ring jump will probably get hit – full turn – aerial, good – 2/1, step to the side. Some really nice moments. A fall, but some pretty elements.

Meanwhile, Spain is working Yfulls, and we’ve got some mixed groups on floor and bars. Leon just come off on a gienger. Raz is back up on floor working leaps and wolf turns. Ofir Netzer back up to hit a very solid FTDT.

Adalsteinsdottir having her turn on bars – weiler to jaeger and falls – mat bounces her back up in the air, which gets a good laugh from the rotation group.

The two Romanians are just like, LET’S ALL DO 50 ROUTINES IN THIS WARMUP. Even they’re done now, just bars trying to finish up. We’ll see if they succeed.

Now literally everyone is done with this rotation, but there’s still time left, so everyone is just standing around.

A theme so far has been the coaches having a LOT of trouble adjusting the bars. The apparatus people are out with some WD40 now.

Nice 2.5 to front full from barbosu in the initial floor warmup.

Preda – FX – falls out of double y attempt, gets one spin around – double pike, small slide back – front full, dance-step out – double tuck very short, hands down – split leap full is pretty – switch ring to split ring 1/2 –

Barbosu – FX – wolf double turn, good – split leap 1.5, pulls the twist around, short of split – FTDT, chest down, lunge forward – 2.5 to front full, has to tuck and lands it somewhat short with a step back – doubel pike, chest down, jarred bounce back – double tuck, again very short with a lunge. That one was a struggle to get through.

Lihie Raz had been doing Yfulls. She went for a DTY there and landed it on hands and knees. And now just a Yurchenko timer.

Will be missing the final rotation of this one to prep for our late night GymCastic update show for members where we’ll discuss US women’s podium training and maybe a little bit more, like men or something.

Back to it tomorrow!

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