Category Archives: Elite Things

2019 Spring/Summer Schedule

Your viewing guide to the competitions of the next month in handy-dandy US time zones (except not so handy because middle of the night).


Saturday, May 18

JO Nationals
10:00am ET/7:00am PT – Senior A, Junior A
2:45pm ET/11:45am PT – Senior B, Junior B
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT – Senior C, Junior C

Zhaoqing World Cup

10:00pm ET/7:00pm PT – Qualification Session 1

Sunday, May 19

Zhaoqing World Cup
5:00am ET/2:00am PT – Qualification Session 2

JO Nationals
10:00am ET/7:00am PT – Senior D, Junior D
2:45pm ET/11:45am PT – Senior E, Junior E
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT – Senior F, Junior F

Monday, May 20

Zhaoqing World Cup (Olympic Channel link TBD)
3:00am ET/12:00am PT – Finals Day 1

Tuesday, May 21

Zhaoqing World Cup (Olympic Channel link TBD)
2:30am ET/11:30pm PT – Finals Day 2

Thursday, May 23

Osijek World Cup
9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Qualification Day 1

Australian National Championships
11:30pm ET/8:30pm PT – Junior Day 1

Friday, May 24

Australian National Championships
4:30am ET/1:30am PT – Seniors Day 1

Osijek World Cup
9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Qualification Day 2

Canadian National Championships (FLO)
3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT – Junior Women Day 1
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT – Senior Women Day 1

Saturday, May 25

Osijek World Cup (Olympic Channel link TBD)
9:45am ET/6:45am PT – Finals Day 1

Canadian National Championships (FLO)
11:00am ET/8:00am PT – Junior Men
5:00pm ET/2:00pm PT – Senior Men

Australian National Championships
11:30pm ET/8:30pm PT – Seniors Day 2

Sunday, May 26

Osijek World Cup (Olympic Channel link TBD)
9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Finals Day 2

Canadian National Championships (FLO)
10:00am ET/7:00am PT – Junior Women Day 2/Junior Men EF
2:30pm ET/11:30am PT – Senior Women Day 2/Senior Men EF

Thursday, May 30

Koper World Cup
9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Qualification Day 1

Friday, May 31

Koper World Cup
9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Qualification Day 2

Saturday, June 1

Koper World Cup (Olympic Channel link TBD)
10:00am ET/7:00am PT – Finals Day 1

Parkettes Elite Qualifier
All day – Optional Sessions

Sunday, June 2

Koper World Cup (Olympic Channel link TBD)
10:00am ET/7:00am PT – Finals Day 2

Parkettes Elite Qualifier
All day – Optional Sessions

Friday, June 7

Auburn Elite Qualifier
All day – Optional Sessions

Saturday, June 8

French National Championships
8:20am ET/5:20am PT – Junior Women
11:50am ET/8:50am PT – Senior Women & Men

Auburn Elite Qualifier
All day – Optional Sessions

Sunday, June 9

French National Championships
8:00am ET/5:00am PT – Women’s & Men’s Event Finals

Wednesday, June 19

Asian Championships
TBD – Men’s Team/All-Around Final

Thursday, June 20

Asian Championships
TBD – Women’s Team/All-Around Final

Friday, June 21

Asian Championships
TBD – Event Finals Day 1

Saturday, June 22

American Classic
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Juniors
6:00pm ET/3:00pm PT – Seniors

Asian Championships
TBD – Event Finals Day 2

Thursday, June 27

Junior World Championships
4:00am ET/1:00am PT – Men’s Team/AA Sub 1
(RUS, USA, GBR, UKR, HUN, CAN, MEX, VIE)
7:15am ET/4:15am PT – Men’s Team/AA Sub 2
(CHN, JPN, FRA, ESP, ARG, CZE, BEL, UZB, KAZ, ECU, NOR, NZL)
10:00am ET/7:00am PT – Men’s Team/AA Sub 3
(TUR, KOR, ROU, TPE, SWE, MGL)
1:15pm ET/10:15am PT – Men’s Team/AA Sub 4
(GER, ITA, BRA, AUS, EGY, AZE, IRI, LAT)

European Games
7:00am ET/4:00am PT – Women’s & Men’s Qualification – Session 1
11:00am ET/8:00am PT – Women’s & Men’s Qualification – Session 2

Friday, June 28

Junior World Championships
3:00am ET/12:00am PT – Women’s Team/AA Sub 1
(USA, GBR, UKR, HUN, TUR, FIN)
5:00am ET/2:00am PT – Women’s Team/AA Sub 2
(RUS, ITA, BEL, ESP, GRE, PAN)
7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Women’s Team/AA Sub 3
(AUS, KOR, MEX, ARG, UZB, KAZ)
9:30am ET/6:30am PT – Women’s Team/AA Sub 4
(FRA, GER, ROU, SWE, BLR, SGP)
12:00pm ET/9:00am PT – Women’s Team/AA Sub 5
(CHN, JPN, BRA, CAN, EGY, POR)

Saturday, June 29

European Games
7:00am ET/4:00am PT – Women’s & Men’s All-Around

Junior World Championships
8:00am ET/5:00am PT – Event Finals Day 1

Sunday, June 30

European Games
6:00am ET/3:00am PT – Women’s & Men’s Event Finals

Junior World Championships
8:00am ET/5:00am PT – Event Finals Day 2

Wednesday, July 3

University Games
4:00am ET/1:00am PT – Men’s Team/Qualification

Thursday, July 4

University Games
3:30am ET/12:30am PT – Men’s Team/Qualification

Friday, July 5

University Games
4:00am ET/1:00am PT – Women’s Team/Qualification

Saturday, July 6

University Games
8:00am ET/5:00am PT – Men’s All-Around
12:30pm ET/9:30am PT – Women’s All-Around

Saturday, July 7

University Games
5:00am ET/2:00am PT – Event Finals Part 1
10:00am ET/7:00am PT – Event Finals Part 2

Saturday, July 20

US Classic
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Juniors
6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT – Seniors

Saturday, July 27

Pan American Games
TBD –  Team/Qualification

Sunday, July 28

Pan American Games
TBD –  Team/Qualification

Monday, July 29

Pan American Games
TBD –  All-Around Finals

Tuesday, July 30

Pan American Games
TBD –  Event Finals Day 1

Wednesday, July 31

Pan American Games
TBD –  Event Finals Day 2

Thursday, August 8

US National Championships
2:00pm ET/11:00am PT – Junior Men Day 1
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT – Senior Men Day 1

Friday, August 9

US National Championships
2:00pm ET/11:00am PT – Junior Women Day 1
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT – Senior Women Day 1

Saturday, August 10

US National Championships
2:00pm ET/11:00am PT – Junior Men Day 2
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT – Senior Men Day 2

Sunday, August 11

US National Championships
2:00pm ET/11:00am PT – Junior Women Day 2
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT – Senior Women Day 2

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Chinese Nationals — What Happened There?

If you were looking for a comfy, cozy competition where the expected people won titles and a clear picture of the potential Chinese worlds team emerged…Chinese Nationals was not that. Honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So let’s get into it. Here’s what you need to know to keep up as a responsible gymnastics citizen of the world.

All-Around

Your national all-around champion is Liu Tingting. In recent months (year), LTT has been limited to only bars and beam, but she has returned on all four pieces in 2019—using a Yfull on vault and a fully Netherlands-ified floor routine to build up sufficient scores to let her exceptional bars and beam routines carry her to competitive all-around totals.

The highlights are always going to be bars and beam, but this lovely turn-a-thon floor routine ranked quite well throughout the competition, and given a Chinese team that’s still grasping at straws when it comes to floor, this is at least a “well, we can always use Tingting” routine that reduces the potential urgency to find floor workers—even if the D score is pretty low.

Continuing her tradition of rising to the occasion in the all-around competition at nationals, two-time defending champion Luo Huan snatched a silver medal this year, putting together a comprehensively hit two-day all-around competition, with 14+s on bars and beam in both qualification and the AA final.

Things fell apart for Luo in the event finals, with misses on both pieces souring the final impression of her meet. Of the people who competed at nationals, she is currently a top-3 necessity on bars and beam, but China has a lot of people who can be “the bars and beam gymnast,” like Chen Yile who missed the competition with injury, so it’s not going to be a secure position for Luo moving forward. Continue reading Chinese Nationals — What Happened There?

Perfect Chinese Beamers Who Never Saw the Light of Day

With the Chinese national championship getting underway this week, now is an opportune time to delve into the most important subcategory of all the subcategories of Chinese gymnasts—perfect beamers who show up to nationals and are better than anything anyone has ever attempted and deserve all the gold medals, and then immediately disappear into the sands of time never to be seen again.

Whether they are injured forever, are only useful on beam, have never once actually hit a routine in their lives ever, or are just criminally overlooked in a controversial scandal, these gymnasts never competed on a major international team, which only adds to their legend.

(Note: There will be recency bias here because…YouTube. The most perfect Chinese beamer to have ever Chinese beamed probably competed domestically one time in 1985 and then turned to liquid like Alex Mack and seeped out of memory forever, but we don’t know who she was and have never seen her, so…you know…let’s talk about the last 15 years.)

Liu Hou

If you can’t get on board with this front aerial to two feet connected to Rulfova, then I have nothing for you. The sheer extension on the layout stepout mount and front aerial. The moving dismount tribute to Yang Bo to indicate humanity. It’s a win for all of us.

Liu Hou was a stellar beam junior in the 2004 quad—this little baby beam routine from 2003 is a must-watch as well—and actually had pretty solid longevity for a “never saw the light of day” Chinese beamer, continuing through to get some international assignments in Europe in the spring of 2007. Continue reading Perfect Chinese Beamers Who Never Saw the Light of Day

State of the National Teams Address

Now that the NCAA season has ended with KJ successfully verbal vogueing Oklahoma to a 4th national title…

..let us (and by us, I mean me) take a moment to get reacclimated to the world of elite gymnastics and the state of the various national teams. Because we need something to occupy the time until things get good again.

Beginning with the US because I know that’s what you’re here for.

United States

The US team gave us an unexpected gift this spring by sending nearly every healthy senior national teamer on an international assignment—like they have money again or something. That means we actually have something to go on rather than the usual prognostication using only cloud shapes and whistles. Over the last two months, we’ve seen everybody—though of course, having actual performances and results to go on has only made things more complicated rather than less.

Taking only the international assignments from 2019, here are the top scores received by each athlete on each event. (So that means the AA total is the sum of those best scores on each piece, not the highest AA score received at a single day’s competition).

Top 3 on each event are in bold.

VT UB BB FX
Simone Biles 15.400 14.300 14.200 14.900 58.800
Sunisa Lee 14.200 14.700 14.150 14.333 57.383
Emma Malabuyo 14.533 13.633 14.400 14.233 56.799
Leanne Wong 14.666 14.100 14.066 13.933 56.765
Grace McCallum 14.566 14.200 13.833 13.866 56.465
Kara Eaker 14.066 14.100 14.666 12.466 55.298
Alyona Shchennikova 14.433 14.633 12.966 13.166 55.198
Morgan Hurd 14.233 14.300 12.933 13.633 55.099
Sloane Blakely 13.633 13.500 13.766 13.566 54.465
Shilese Jones 14.700 11.600 13.033 13.800 53.133
Riley McCusker 13.133 14.400 12.166 13.366 53.065
Aleah Finnegan 14.400 12.866 12.533 12.866 52.665
Gabby Perea 13.567 12.900 12.367 13.333 52.167
Jade Carey 15.066 0.000 0.000 14.600 N/A

So, we’ve got a little bit of a race on our hands.

At least so far. The US women won’t compete again for a while, but the story of June-August will be the clash between those who have been making teams so far this quad (Hurd, McCusker, McCallum, etc) and those new or newly healthy seniors (Lee, Wong, Malabuyo, etc) who have recorded some of the top numbers so far this year. It’s a deep field, and not everyone is going to worlds. Continue reading State of the National Teams Address

Spring 2019 Elite Schedule

Your viewing guide to the elite competitions of the next month in handy-dandy US time zones (except not so handy because middle of the night).


Thursday, March 14

4am ET/1am PT – Baku Apparatus World Cup Qualifying Day 1

Friday, March 15

4am ET/1am PT – Baku Apparatus World Cup Qualifying Day 2

5am ET/2am PT – Stuttgart Team Challenge Qualifying – Women

8am ET/5am PT – British Championships – Junior women

9:45am ET/6:45am PT – Stuttgart Team Challenge Qualifying – Men

Saturday, March 16

4am ET/1am PT – Baku Apparatus World Cup Finals Day 1

6am ET/3am PT – British Championships – Women Sub 1

7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Stuttgart All-Around World Cup – Men

10:30am ET/7:30am PT – British Championships – Men & Women

12pm ET/9am PT – Stuttgart Team Challenge Final – Women

Sunday, March 17

4am ET/1am PT – Baku Apparatus World Cup Finals Day 2

5am ET/2am PT – British Championships – Junior women – Events

7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Stuttgart All-Around World Cup – Women

10am ET/7am PT – British Championships – Senior women – Events

11am ET/8am PT – Stuttgart Team Challenge Final – Men

Wednesday, March 20

8:30am ET/5:30am PT – Doha Apparatus World Cup Qualifying Day 1

Thursday, March 21

8:30am ET/5:30am PT – Doha Apparatus World Cup Qualifying Day 2

Friday, March 22

9am ET/6am PT – Doha Apparatus World Cup Finals Day 1

Saturday, March 23

9am ET/6am PT – Doha Apparatus World Cup Finals Day 2

9am ET/6am PT – Birmingham All-Around World Cup – Men

2:30pm ET/11:30am PT – Birmingham All-Around World Cup – Women

Saturday, April 6

10pm ET/7pm PT – Tokyo All-Around World Cup – Women

Sunday, April 7

1am ET/10pm PT (April 6) – Tokyo All-Around World Cup – Men

Wednesday, April 10

4am ET/1am PT – European Championships – MAG Subdivision 1

8am ET/5am PT – European Championships –MAG Subdivision 2

11am ET/8am PT – European Championships – MAG Subdivision 3

Thursday, April 11

4am ET/1am PT – European Championships – WAG Subdivision 1

7:30am ET/4:30am PT – European Championships – WAG Subdivision 2

10am ET/7am PT – European Championships – WAG Subdivision 3

12:30pm ET/9:30am PT – European Championships – WAG Subdivision 4

Friday, April 12

7am ET/4am PT – European Championships – MAG All-Around

11:30am ET/8:30am PT – European Championships – WAG All-Around

Saturday, April 13

7:30am ET/4:30am PT – European Championships – Events Day 1

Sunday, April 14

7:30am ET/4:30am PT – European Championships – Events Day 2

Friday, April 26

All-Japan Individual Championships – Qualifying

Saturday, April 27

All-Japan Individual Championships – Men’s events

Sunday, April 28

All-Japan Individual Championships – All-Around Finals

The Jade Carey Problem

Whew boy. Back at it again. Here we go.

The news we had long feared came yesterday when USAG announced the roster for the women’s worlds selection camp, a roster absent Jade Carey. Jade Carey declined her invitation to the selection camp in order to go to Apparatus World Cups instead and attempt to earn herself a named spot at the 2020 Olympics.

“But why?” you ask. SIGH. Because everything is terrible. Duh.

First, let’s discuss the reasons Jade Carey would make the seemingly insane decision not to go to worlds this year when she definitely would have made the team and could have won three medals.

The Olympic qualification rules state that any gymnast who qualifies a team spot to the Olympics cannot then qualify another Olympic spot specifically for themselves through the Apparatus World Cups. The US women are heavily favored to earn team qualification to the Olympics at World Championships this year, so the athletes on this year’s team can’t then go on to Apparatus World Cups to try to earn a named Olympic spot for themselves.

So what if Jade Carey had decided go to worlds this year?

That wouldn’t have prevented her from making the 2020 Olympic team. But, she would have had to be assigned one of the unnamed spots belonging to the US as a country (either a team spot or an individual spot). It wouldn’t be guaranteed.

That’s why I can see the reasoning behind this call for Jade Carey. If she stays healthy, goes to at least three Apparatus World Cups, and performs successfully in all of them, she really should get a spot at the Olympics. That would be a guaranteed spot for her, one that isn’t subject to the whims of a selection committee or Steve Penny-style backroom dealings like the other Olympic spots would be, one that no one can take away from her. Jade Carey would be going to the Olympics, and she would know that by April 2020 and could sip cocktails on the terrace while everyone else is stressing about Trials. You can see the appeal.

For her.

(And I think some other elites might be looking at this and saying, “Hey, that does sound nice…”)

But I don’t see the appeal for the US women’s team leadership.

That’s why the program needed to put its foot down and say, “We’re not sending anyone to the Apparatus World Cups.” Because this is super stupid strategically for the US women as a program. Continue reading The Jade Carey Problem

Pan American Championships – What Happened There?

The US team is what happened there, to the surprise of no one.

On the women’s side, the United States won the team title by five and a half points over a valiant Brazilian team, and was never truly challenged in the process, winning each event.

Brazil won’t really mind the 5+ point deficit to the US—that’s about what we would expect to see right now between Brazil and a B+ US squad—and that team final performance showed marked improvement over qualification, where the margin between the two teams ended up a surprisingly hefty nine points.

In qualification, it was vault of all things that did Brazil in after DTY disasters from both Saraiva and Barbosa, but the team resolved those problems for the final to buoy the final score. That improvement, coupled with a few more mistakes from the US side in the final, shrunk the margin to five points.

Digging deeper, the world championship candidates on the US team all pretty much did their jobs, helping us resolve nothing at all. Thanks a lot. We needed to see Kara Eaker win beam and hit two routines that scored well into the 14s, which she did. We needed to see Grace McCallum win the all-around and continue proving she has a usable, international-level score on any event as needed, which she did. We needed to see Jade Carey be a force on vault and floor and win those pieces, which she did, and while Carey did not as yet upgrade the DTY, the big and necessary floor score sort of made up for that and didn’t compromise her current position.

What’s difficult here is the scoring standard. Scoring looked pretty loose to me, a little looser than US nationals, with the judges far more willing to go into the mid-8s in E score than I expect we’ll see at worlds. So, it doesn’t give us a great point of comparison. Are Grace McCallum’s beam and floor routines actually higher-scoring than Morgan Hurd’s, as this meet would lead us to believe? I’m not sold on that.

McCallum nonetheless did help her world championships case with this performance, solidifying herself as the US’s #4 all-arounder with believable, TF-ready routines on three events. Continue reading Pan American Championships – What Happened There?