A. Japanese Worlds Team
Last weekend brought us Japan’s NHK Trophy, the second event in the selection process for Japan’s worlds team. Japan slightly adjusted its women’s world selection procedures this year to be even more rigid and stressful, automatically selecting the top 4 AAers following NHK, leaving just one spot available for an event gymnast who could add something to the team score.
Defending world beam champion Watanabe Hazuki held the AA lead heading into NHK but immediately fell on her upgraded Yurchenko 1.5 in the first rotation, injecting the necessary amount of chaos into the proceedings. Ultimately, Watanabe had a tough day but just did hold on for the 4th and final automatic spot on the worlds team, with world beam bronze medalist Miyata Shoko leading the overall standings, Kishi Rina bringing the best DTY and floor difficulty to take 2nd, and 2022 world team member Fukasawa Kokoro in third—all receiving automatic spots onto the worlds team.
The remaining spot is decided following the national event championships and will be based on who adds the most to a team score when joining the 4 automatically qualified gymnasts. The frontrunner for that spot right now is 2021 world beam champion Ashikawa Urara, who missed the team last year, since she already has a two-routine beam average over 14 (event nominees count the average of their best 2 scores across the selection process), though there is still the possibility for someone else to bust out at the event nationals and get the two scores they need to provide more to the team total.
The one in a rough position right now is 2022 world team member Sakaguchi Ayaka, who hit three events in the team final last year for Japan, including a DTY, but missed out on the automatic spots this year and just doesn’t yet have the 2023 scores to make the same argument as Ashikawa’s 14 on beam. But if Ashikawa is on the worlds team with Fukasawa and Watanabe, Japan may struggle to find a third competitive VT/FX score to go up with Kishi and Miyata and may wish that Sakaguchi were there again.
B. Canadian Nationals
Aurelie Tran took this year’s Canadian national title in dominant fashion, ending up more than three points ahead of 2021 Olympian Ava Stewart in the two-day total. We’ll see Tran on Canada’s Pan-Ams team this coming weekend, prospectively alongside national bronze medalist Jenna Lalonde, 4th-place finisher Cassie Lee, and 2022 world team member Sydney Turner.
There’s not a ton that can be gleaned about this year’s worlds team based on Canadian Nationals this year because it’s so early (Japan’s like, “you mean late?”) and because a lot of the big players weren’t in the all-around mix. And also because we had a better view of the rock climbing wall than we did of, like, bars.
Ellie Black and Shallon Olsen made only brief benedictions to the competition—Black competing bars and hitting for a 13 on the second day, and Olsen competing downgraded vaults—while world team members Emma Spence and Laurie Denommée did not compete. Remaining world team member Denelle Pedrick had a solid first day with a DTY that ranked as the top vault score, but missed on vault on the second day and scratched floor.
So basically TBD.
C. Chinese Nationals
The Chinese national championship is currently in progress, with qualification and the men’s team final complete and the rest of the competition running for the remainder of the week.
Women’s qualification was pretty much dominated by new senior Qiu Qiyuan, who recorded the top number in the AA as well as on both bars and beam, competing a layout jaeger on bars and a back handspring Arabian series on beam. She is the new One We Believe In.
Previous One We Believe In—Ou Yushan—also had a solid day in qualification to place 2nd, most critically leading the field on floor with a 13.650 and the most competitive difficulty. That remains a deeply essential routine when she is healthy enough to perform her difficulty. Also, Shang Chunsong qualified into the floor final in 3rd.
Meanwhile, vault is an event.
World bars champion Wei Xiaoyuan currently sits 4th in the all-around—which is a nice result for her because she’s going to have some 12s in there—and 2nd on bars behind Qiu, while many of the other familiar faces had more trouble. Zhang Jin, whose DTT is typically valuable enough to get her on teams, qualified in 12th with her highest score coming on bars, Tang Xijing placed 17th, and last year’s new potential BB/FX savior Wu Ran placed 26th.
Meet back here after finals.
It’s a big weekend for worlds qualification purposes with both Pan Ams and African Championships on tap. Lots of promises about Pan Am streaming, so there should be something when we get down to it. Pan Am Sports Channel has it listed.
Friday, May 26
11:15am ET/8:15am PT – Africans – WAG Competition
11:30am ET/8:30am PT – Pan Ams – MAG Subdivision 1
USA, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic
4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT – Pan Ams – MAG Subdivision 2
Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Panama, Costa Rica
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT – Pan Ams – MAG Subdivision 3
Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Peru, Jamaica, Ecuador
Saturday, May 27
6:20am ET/3:20am PT – Africans – MAG Competition
12:50pm ET/9:50am PT – Pan Ams – WAG Subdivision 1
Brazil, El Salvador, Peru, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba
2:50pm ET/11:50am PT – Pan Ams – WAG Subdivision 2
Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, Barbados, Uruguay
4:55pm ET/1:55pm PT – Pan Ams – WAG Subdivision 3
USA, Canada, Colombia, Panama, Dominican Republic
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT – Pan Ams – WAG Subdivision 4
Argentina, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Ecuador, Costa Rica
Sunday, May 28
11:30am ET/8:30pm PT – Pan Ams – MAG Team Final
5:05pm ET/2:05pm PT – Pan Ams – WAG Team Final