Category Archives: Elite Things

American Cup Preview

American Cup.

Obviously, what we’re all most looking forward to is the NBC team’s inevitable bungling of the delicate task of communicating what has been happening with Nassar, the Valeri resignation, and the overall melting of USA Gymnastics into a primordial pile of slime. Did I say looking forward to? I meant EYE STAB.

But I guess there will be gymnastics too. Snore. Here’s what to expect.


Stay with me. We’ll get to the women in a second. But first you have to read about the men. All things being as they’re supposed to, this should end up a contest between The Kenzo and The Yul. They finished third and seventh respectively at worlds last year and have shown the highest scoring potential of the bunch in the past year or so. Most of the other competitors are all-arounders at a slightly lower level or have a couple really strong events but not the six complete routines needed to stand out.

At worlds, The Kenzo outscored The Yul in the all-around final by about a point and a half, which is where his favorite status originates. Still, weird things happen at American Cup so it’s far from wrapped up. We need only look back to last year when The Yul defeated The Oleg to take the title. By contrast, The Kenzo is still pretty new to the AA game and is a less-established favorite than The Oleg was then. He certainly has the difficulty edge over The Yul by about a bajillion tenths—but so do most people since The Yul’s aim is always to make it up on execution.

That’s what he’ll hope to do compared to someone James Hall, whom you’ll remember from having Resting Stoner Face and being a solid all-arounder. Hall is just coming off winning the English Championship with an 84, which is not necessarily a DUN DUN DUH world-beating score, but repeated at American Cup should put him right up there. That’s around what Modi scored to finish 3rd last year.

This will also be a significant competition for Allan Bower, who (kind of) controversially did not make the worlds team in 2017 despite finishing second at nationals with an 86.1 on the second day. He followed that recently with a somewhat disappointing Winter Cup to finish 4th, behind Mikulak, Kimble, and Modi. If Bower wants to get a team spot this year, he’ll need to show not just the ability to score well as an AAer, but more importantly that he has standout events the team might need. That’s what we haven’t seen yet from him. Otherwise, it’s hard to see him getting much of a look in a Mikulak-Moldauer world.

Sun Wei of China always attends American Cup and is sort of there, not really at the level to make a Chinese worlds team but also way better than most other people/countries. Look for him to be the type who can sneak up there and then everyone goes, “Oh, yeah, him” and then forgets about it two seconds later.

Francisco Barretto Junior has a few events—high bar is usually the best but he also scores well on PBars and sometimes horse. Nestor Abad of Spain is replacing Joel Plata and will inevitably break your heart. I fear Phillipp Herder will follow the great German tradition of showing up at American Cup and falling 150 times because he’s German and it’s pommel horse, but do keep an eye on floor and PBars. Petro Pakhniuk is mostly known as a PBars specialist, so I’ll be interested to see how he stacks up in the all-around.


The favorites

American Cup is never much of a competition on the women’s side, partially because the US gymnasts are just better than everyone else, partially because it’s the first week of March and no one else is even trying to be remotely good yet, and partially (especially pre-WC era) because of SCAM SCORING. Oh SCAM SCORING, I love you so much.

That’s why the presence of Mai Murakami adds an exciting twist to this year’s proceedings. Murakami qualified first at worlds in 2017 and was on track to defeat Morgan Hurd in the all-around final if not for a fall on beam on her double spin. A full-strength Murakami is the strongest gymnast in the competition on vault and floor and has the ability to win the whole thing, the main issue being whether we’re actually going to see a full-strength Murakami. She’d need to bring full floor-tumbling difficulty to have a solid shot at this, which may be a lot to ask at this point in the year.  Continue reading American Cup Preview


US National Team Camp – July Update

We have finally emerged from the cave. Now that we are graced with rosters from the monthly national camps—like the one that concluded today—this has given birth to a new phenomenon wherein one looks at the roster, recognizes 90% of the people, but then also says, “……Her? What is a…that?”

So, let this be a place to keep track of which characters made a cameo in which of the monthly episodes; what international assignments resulted from those camps; applicable placements in senior (S), junior (J), and physical abilities (PA) standings; national team status; Classic/nationals qualification status; recent results; expected D-scores; and anything else important to know about these friends both familiar and foreign. Continue reading US National Team Camp – July Update

US National Team Camp – Who Are These People?

We have finally emerged from the cave. Now that we are graced with rosters from the monthly national camps—like the one that concluded today—this has given birth to a new phenomenon wherein one looks at the roster, recognizes 90% of the people, but then also says, “……Her? What is a…that?”

So, let this be a place to keep track of which characters made a cameo in which of the monthly episodes; what international assignments resulted from those camps; applicable placements in senior (S), junior (J), and physical abilities (PA) standings; junior/senior status; results dossiers; most recent D-scores; and anything else important to know about these friends both familiar and foreign. Continue reading US National Team Camp – Who Are These People?

Jesolo Seniors Live Blog

Today, the senior US team rumbles into Jesolo to international-experience up a storm against teams from Russia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, France, and Belgium.

Earlier in the day, all the US juniors scored 199 billion to run away with the competition. BUT NO ONE SAW IT COMING. Perea took the AA with 57.550, followed by O’Keefe with 57.300 and Malabuyo with 56.700. Those would have been really good junior scores in the last code, let alone this one.

The first half of rotation 1 has Italy on vault, France on bars, USA 1 on beam, and Russia on floor. The second half has Brazil on vault, Canada on bars, Mixed Group on beam, and USA 2 on floor. They’ll rotate from there.

Continue reading Jesolo Seniors Live Blog

Elite Skill and Routine Databases

What’s that skill that she performs?

You know…the twisty one, with the flippity-boo?

It’s called what? Named after who?

Remember that weird dismount? That what’s-her-name does? What’s her name?

Who was the one who did that not-ugly skill at the Olympics?

What the mother of crap is an Ono?

Important questions, all. Let this be your opportunity to answer them.

That’s right, it’s time to wake up, elite fans. Though we’re currently ensconced in the glory and wonder of the NCAA season, I have also added a couple new elite-specific features to the site. I’m basically da Vinci. The first is the Elite Skill Database, which contains links to individual pages for 250 skills currently being performed in elite gymnastics. You can check it out here:


Each skill has its own dedicated page including its code of points description, value (and recent value changes if applicable), example GIF, various names you’ll hear it called, and a brief biography of the skill regarding its odd naming conventions, current popularity or lack thereof, treatment by judges, tips for identification, or fundamental ugliness. Whatever is most relevant to the skill in question. So, if you’ve ever wondered about my specific feelings toward every single skill that exists in gymnastics (for some reason), you may now read them. For example, the Amanar.

The most exclusive skills will also contain a list of the elite gymnasts currently performing that skill, just in case you wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night and need to know who’s doing a Bhardwaj. This is just for the rarer skills, so something like a double tuck on floor won’t have a competitor list because that would just be a list of every living person. Don’t necessarily treat these lists as completely exhaustive, currently including the 150 or so elite gymnasts who have pages in the partner of the skill database, the Elite Routine Database. Continue reading Elite Skill and Routine Databases

On Championships, Both Man and European

Seventeen days. Seventeen whole days of barren desert wasteland until the beginning of the men’s Olympic Trials and women’s nationals, with nothing to quench our thirst but a mirage of Maggie Nichols doing an Amanar that turns out to be a cactus with a snake stuck to it.

What are we supposed to do? Snob out about salto positions during the diving trials by saying things like, “It’s just hard for me to watch diving because of all the cowboy technique…”? I mean, I guess we could do that. But it’s just not the same. IT’S NOT THE SAME I TELL YOU.

Still. One day at a time. One competition at a time. Just need to hit four-for-four. And, because all the competitions in the entire history of the solar system converged upon each other last weekend, several items slipped through the cracks, so it’s time to circle back around and address a couple of them.


For some reason, the women’s senior event finals at the European Championship took place in the middle of the night, almost like they were on a different continent or something. Really inconsiderate.

On vault, Giulia fully Steingrubered all over the place and used the D-score advantage from her rudi to sneak just ahead of Ellie Downie’s superior execution scores and win her first gold of the day. Bronze went to the extremely injured Ksenia Afanasyeva, who was so injured that she had to do two vaults in an event final.

DTY+Lopez is the event-final vaulting regimen of choice for pretty much everyone these days, which is why the rudi remains such a valuable asset for Steingruber. While the three Amanar+Cheng sisters (Biles, Hong, and Paseka) will be the medal favorites in Rio, Steingruber is setting herself up as the next best bet with vaults that will keep her ahead of Team DTY+Lopez and Team Prod Chucker. Continue reading On Championships, Both Man and European

Euros 2016: Meldonium? I don’t know her.

Maybe the meldonium was the problem the whole time. THEORY.

This weekend saw the conclusion of European Championship Episode 1: You Only Want Me For My Chest Muscles, featuring the men’s team and event finals.

-In the team competition, the Russian men began their (allegedly) post-meldonium (allegedly) era (allegedly) in a blaze of wondrous glory as it seems that Nikolai’s morning meldonium was how Valentina had been delivering her witch’s hex potion to the team this whole time. Now free from this heinous curse, the Russians were finally able to throw off their shackles and transform into a nostalgia-inspiring and largely unrecognizable flurry of…like…good. Lots of good. Hitting 18-for-18 good.

-Russia might as well have rolled into the team final wearing those weird masquerade-ball masks with the huge beak because I don’t even know who was waltzing with us this weekend. Nikolai with the good hair hit all his routines, Belyavskiy landed a vault (with his feet no less!), and Abliazin only Abliazined once on floor. (I feel like he also may have stepped out of bounds randomly before one of his passes, but whatever. Abliazin things.) It was remarkable. We’ll never see its equal. Seriously. So I hope you’re proud of using up your hit for the year already, Russia.

-Following qualification, it was clear that Great Britain would have needed a hefty dose of splatty-splatty-bang-bang from Russia to win this thing, and Russia did not acquiesce, leaving Great Britain with a perfectly respectable silver after its own solid performance. All the Brits pretty much hit to their capabilities, improving on the team total from qualification, but GB did not have the difficulty to best a Russian performance that would have made things challenging even for a Whitlocked British team.

-As expected, the battle for third came down to Switzerland and Ukraine, and it appeared that Switzerland had opened the door for Ukraine when the sheer gravitational pull of Pablo Braegger’s earring sent him careering sideways into a brick wall on vault, followed by Oliver Hegi taking a page from Greg Marsden’s book and making a very good case for four-on-the-floor as he dismounted high bar.

-Braegger should take some advice from Belyavskiy, who has worked very hard to adjust his earring technique, and it clearly paid off on his team final vault.

-These Swiss falls would have given Ukraine at least an opportunity to snatch that bronze, but then poor old Igor lurched up to high bar and said, “NO THANK YOU PLEASE,” scoring a handful of loose change and taking Ukraine right out of the medal hunt. There was no coming back from that disaster, and Oleg’s own minor catastrophe on floor simply sealed Switzerland’s ultimately gigantic margin for the bronze.  Continue reading Euros 2016: Meldonium? I don’t know her.