Category Archives: Elite Things

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

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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?

Pan American Championships

This weekend, it’s all about Peru. The nations of the Americas are heading to Lima to compete for the Pan American gymnastics championship.

At stake is qualification to the 2019 Pan American Games (the top 8 nations advance). But more pressingly, this competition serves as a final opportunity to make a world championships case for gymnasts from nations that haven’t yet decided their final teams and are using this competition to test out borderline candidates.

Schedule

Friday, September 14Men’s Qualification/AA/Event Finals

10:40am ET/7:40am PT – Subdivision 1
(Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Costa Rico, Uruguay, Trinidad & Tobago, El Salvador, Bolivia)

3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT – Subdivision 2
(Colombia, Venezuela, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Peru, Ecuador)

7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT – Subdivision 3
(USA, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Chile, Guatemala)

Saturday, September 15Women’s Qualification/AA/Event Finals

11:10am ET/8:10am PT – Subdivision 1
(Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Jamaica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Bolivia)

1:30pm ET/10:30am PT – Subdivision 2
(Mexico, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Trinidiad & Tobago)

3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT – Subdivision 3
(USA, Brazil, Canada, Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cayman Islands, Aruba)

Sunday, September 16Team Finals

11:50am ET/8:50am PT – Men’s Team Final

5:00pm ET/2:00pm PT – Women’s Team Final


The trampoline competition has been streaming on the Peruvian federation’s Facebook, so we’re optimistic that artistic will be as well. Continue reading Pan American Championships

Asian Games – What Happened There?

The Asian Games is a big ole deal, you guys. It’s an absolutely massive, quadrennial sports competition that either rivals or exceeds the actual Olympics for sheer size and brings together all the Olympic sports, plus some other things that might not be sports like soft tennis (real?), and some other things that definitely aren’t sports like bridge (get out of my sight).

So, here’s what happened.

Women’s Team

The deepest and strongest delegation at the Asian Games, China casually pranced to a gold medal in the team final by a distinctly Simone margin of victory. The obvious highlight of China’s TF performance came on beam, where Chen Yile and Liu Tingting both hit their huge 6.3 routines. The risky wonder that is Luo Huan didn’t even need to be used in the team final as China was able to opt for the lower difficulty, crisp work of Zhang Jin instead, revealing what an embarrassment of options China has on beam right now. The composition is smart, the execution is fluid, and hopefully that will be rewarded at worlds.

Bars did not go well in the team final. It didn’t matter. Bars didn’t need to go well for China to win, and for the most part, Chinese bars remains Chinese bars. Right now, China doesn’t have a clear D advantage over countries like the US and Russia the way it has in past years (for example, Biles has a 6.1 now and the Chinese team peaked at 6.0 here), but China should at least be able to keep pace with its scores. Bars is not the real concern. The concerns are vault and floor.

On vault, China had to use two Yurchenko fulls in the team final here. The hope will be that Zhang’s DTT and Chen’s DTY can return for worlds so that they could join Liu Jinru to make an acceptably competitive vault lineup. At least one needs to happen because China can’t be throwing out fulls in a worlds team final. Japan would absolutely eat that up. Continue reading Asian Games – What Happened There?

Euros Team Selections

The European Championship is less than a month away, and if you’re me, you’re already way too excited about it. Nominative rosters have been released and several countries have announced their final team selections, so let’s check in on who’s definitely going, who should be going, and every nation’s overall prospects.

Once we get closer to the event and the teams are finalized, I’ll do a full scoring analysis.

RUSSIA

Nominative roster:
Viktoria Komova, Angelina Melnikova, Angelina Simakova, Uliana Perebinosova, Maria Kharenkova

We know this nominative roster is nonsense because Perebinosova is injured and not going to Euros, so it probably just reflects some elaborate Valentina mind game (“I’d rather take an injured ghost than you, Varvara”).

At this point, I would consider Melnikova, Komova, and Simakova locked. At the even-year European Championship, there is no all-around final and the team competition format is 5-3-3, so if you’re a nation like Russia that’s expecting team gold here, selection is all about finding three people for each event. This locked group would give us

Vault: Melnikova, Komova, Simakova?
Bars: Komova, Melnikova, (?)
Beam: Komova, Melnikova, (?)
Floor: Melnikova, Simakova, (?)

So from there, you more or less need one more person for each event. Now, you could use Simakova for bars and beam and Komova for floor, but you want to protect Komova as much as possible, and there are higher-scoring options than Simakova on bars and beam. The most value you could add to this team immediately would be with Ilyankova.

Vault: Melnikova, Komova, Simakova?
Bars: Komova, Melnikova, Ilyankova
Beam: Komova, Melnikova, Ilyankova?
Floor: Melnikova, Simakova, (?)

That’s the best available bars trio, and while Ilyankova is not an ideal beamer, I don’t know that there’s a more reliable option out there right now. She could end up doing beam at Euros. For the remaining spot, a lot comes down to whether you trust Simakova to vault (she should have a vital rudi but missed for 12s a couple times at Russian Cup). If you do trust Simakova, then you’re left looking for only a floor routine and another possible beam option. That’s why Kharenkova—now a beam and floor specialist—has seemed an appealing choice. Yet, her inconsistency and general Kharenkova-ness could be her undoing.

Still, Russia may elect to roll the dice with Kharenkova and put up this team.

Vault: Melnikova, Komova, Simakova
Bars: Komova, Melnikova, Ilyankova
Beam: Komova, Melnikova, Kharenkova
Floor: Melnikova, Simakova, Kharenkova

If that’s too scary, then you replace Kharenkova’s name with Alexeeva (if healthy) or Zubova in the above scenario, though Zubova is in the exact same consistency boat as Kharenkova. I’m not sure there’s much of a difference. It’s all terrifying.

Another sensible option could be to hitch the wagon fully to Ilyankova for beam and go with Akhaimova as the fifth team member. Akhaimova could provide a third floor routine as well as a backup vault option instead of Simakova—though Akhaimova’s vault scores haven’t been that big lately either.

Needing a third DTY (Russia just can’t show up to the team final with some full) is how Nabieva or Trykina would get on the team, but floor would be a real problem in that case.

This may be the hardest team to pick, but Great Britain is in the running for that as well. Continue reading Euros Team Selections

Tom Forster – Team Coordinator

USAG announced today that everything is totally fine and fixed, so you should stop asking questions and also bye.

And by that, I mean that Tom Forster has been selected as the new National Team Coordinator. Or, sorry, the new High-Performance Team Coordinator. Because that makes it all different and better. Nothing to see here. The performance is going to be so high. You won’t believe how high the performance will be.

Fans of the 90s will remember Forster of Colorado Aerials as the coach of Theresa Kulikowski, Kristy Powell and Doni Thompson—and Kerri Strug for a hot minute during her whistle-stop tour of America. Since then, he has held a lower-profile and more behind-the-scenes role in the elite coaching scene, and he was not the primary elite coach for the recent athletes from Colorado Aerials who may have been on your radar (Emily Muhlenhaupt, Kiersten Wang, Sharaya Musser).

That, quite honestly, could have been an influencing factor in the decision. He hasn’t had an opportunity to be publicly horrible in quite some time, which already put him on the high end of the list of candidates. And that seems to be the general reaction from within the gymnastics community—”it could have been worse”—what with names like Peggy Liddick floating around, and all. The consensus: he’s the best of the available options. The national team coaches seem to be optimistic about Forster, which means he will be given a chance rather than being thrown to the wolves immediately after the announcement. But of course, the proof will be in the…not being an aggressively ego-driven abusive maniac? Just that. We’re asking so much, I know. Stay cautious, my friends.

It may be unfair, but USAG has taught us to mistrust its process and automatically mistrust anyone it might think is suitable. Kerry Perry likes you? Well then what’s wrong with you? Continue reading Tom Forster – Team Coordinator