Category Archives: Olympic Trials

2016 Olympic Trials Part 2: Martha’s a Little Teapot

And we’re back. It’s the final night of Olympic Trials, and in just a few short hours, Biles, Douglas, Raisman, Hernandez, and Kocian I mean, five definitely-not-already-decided athletes will learn that they have made the Olympic team.

As is only traditional, the final night of the most significant US gymnastics competition in four years begins with a deferential acknowledgement of the biggest star in all of gymnastics.

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I, of course, am referring to Bela Karolyi. Who is here because of reasons.

He touched Simone on the shoulder. OMG THAT’S HOW SHE DOES IT. BELA HAS ANOTHER ONE.

“Just about everything you’re going to see tonight matters,” Al says. But not everything, he adds, as Maggie Nichols falls through the trap door and into the piranha dungeon. Another one bites the dust.

OK, can we please discuss the HEART OF THE OCEAN that Trautwig is wearing on his finger? Damn, that thing makes Nastia’s rock look like an idiot.

rock1

So, Princess Al of Monaco welcomes us to the competition, at which point we learn what an utter shitstorm Gabby Douglas has been, and there are probably other people in the meet too I guess. Anyway, she has to hit 4-for-4 tonight, otherwise she should basically go compete for Belarus and will never make the team ever. Continue reading 2016 Olympic Trials Part 2: Martha’s a Little Teapot

2016 Olympic Trials Part 1: The Night of Uber Important Water Cups

The competition may be over, but NBC’s coverage is forever. Chilling. The hard truths.

As I wallowed in the stands in San Jose, painfully cut off from the sage judgment of Trautwig and his merry band of colored shapes, I felt lost, bereft, confused. Entirely powerless to interpret the events unfolding before me. Was that disaster “ginormous” or “of epic proportions”? Is Laurie Hernandez “hot stuff” or “one fun kid”? I JUST DON’T KNOW. I could only sit and imagine what eloquent turns of phrase were being inflicted upon the audience at that very moment.

Now, through the magic of the internet, I am in the dark no longer. Won’t you join me for day 1? Once more, into the flames.

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Christ the Redeemer Statue: 1, Brenna Dowell: 0

As the broadcast begins, Trautwig the Redeemer transforms back into his human form to welcome us to San Jose, the Jan Brady of California, and introduce the only three gymnasts competing for spots on the five-woman Olympic team. LOCKS!

He presents Simone Biles, who is good, Gabby Douglas, who is literal trash, and Aly Raisman, who failed like a rotten failure in the all-around in 2012. Because that’s her defining career moment. Continue reading 2016 Olympic Trials Part 1: The Night of Uber Important Water Cups

Olympic Trials in Review

Back from Olympic Trials!

If you want all the details on what went down on the floor, in the arena, in the mixed zone, and on various random street corners outside the venue at trials, be sure to listen to our GymCastic recaps of night one and night two, featuring a full breakdown of that time John Macready blindfolded those girls and made them crawl on their hands and knees to find his treats, along with a very heated, very confusing argument about whether Aly Raisman should do the AA at the Olympics.

If you weren’t at the meet, you missed out on……like not that much. You’re fine. Although you were denied a lot of marching, and waving, and hugging, and more marching, and more hugging, and Amelia Hundley, and more Amelia Hundley, and Christina Desiderio almost dying on bars while Bill Strauss was like, “I can’t,” and John Orozco’s falsetto, and Aly Raisman nearly falling backwards off the podium and landing on her head right before beam. Plus, you missed out on your complimentary post-competition trash bag full of cereal, presented by Kellogg’s. Kellogg’s: Here’s a trash bag.

The absolute highlight of the whole competition was seeing thousands of little kids excitedly grab their free bags of mystery swag after the meet only to realize that it was just cereal. It was like watching MyKayla Skinner walk out for the team announcement all over again, but a thousand times in a row.

MyKayla was not happy with her cereal, you guys.

But then again, you got Trautwig instead, so you entire life is a nightmare. I can’t wait to watch and recap the NBC broadcasts. Don’t worry. It’s coming. Continue reading Olympic Trials in Review

A Very Important Trials Preview

The Olympic Trials are just a few short days away, and there are still so, so, so many questions we need answered, like whether Maggie Nichols is going to show up with 2015-style with competitive top-three vault and floor routines to send tremors through the presumptive team of Biles, Raisman, Douglas, Hernandez, and Kocian.

And that’s it.

Crap.

How’s a person supposed to preview Olympic Trials under these conditions? When we’ve had so many competitions that we already know everything and have talked about it 45 times? I can’t work like this!

But of course I kid. Trials will be much more entertaining and interesting than simply waiting to see whether or not Nichols hits an Amanar and then cryogenically freezing ourselves until the Olympics. I mean, I’ll be at the meet, so it’s already more important and glamorous than anything else that has happened this decade. (Keep an ear out because we’ll be Gymcasticing from trials.) Plus, there are actually several other questions that will need answering in addition to the Nichols equation.

2. Will Madocklearashtocian finally catch on as the official BARS FIGHT nickname?
Only if Locklear beats Kocian by plural tenths. Otherwise, they’ll be back to their original mashup couple name, Kocian.

3. Will Gabby Douglas hammer throw a sack of Japanese kitchen knives labeled “stay pressed” into the crowd after finishing top three on bars on night one?
Will be tough for her, but she finished 4th AA at nationals and needs to do something heroic to make sure she earns one of the AA qualification spots at the Olympics. Continue reading A Very Important Trials Preview

Mikulak, Dalton, Naddour, Brooks, Orozco

Well, we’ve all aged several years.

I actually don’t hate this team, contrary to what Amy Poehler’s face says. It’s been a long night. And Paul Feelings are not easily shaken off by logic or reality.

There will be plenty of time to dissect this in detail in the coming weeks, and then in even more detail after the US finishes fifth in the team final (too soon…?), but the US men’s Olympic team has been named following the harrowing events of the second day of Olympic Trials.

In a tender piece of mercy, Paul Ruggeri obliged us by falling on high bar in the first millisecond of the meet, ensuring that he was not getting selected in this lifetime and sparing our nerves and feelings once the announcement of the team rolled around. Scoring below Naddour on vault also didn’t help.

The big news here was the eviction of Donnell Whittenburg, which is more of a surprise of perception than it is of reality. If you’ve been reading my posts about the men’s team, I kept saying, “I do think Whittenburg will be on the team, BUT…” which is a reflection of his perceived status in the group (making all those worlds teams, being an American Cup choice…) but also the fact that running the team permutations kept spitting back convincing teams that did not include him.

During the broadcast, Tim was talking a lot about “oh…this rings score here, these floor landings there,” but really I think it came down to the fact that he and Jake Dalton cancel each other out. A team with both of them would always have some serious deficiencies on a couple other events. (There was still an argument for a Mikulak, Dalton, Whittenburg, Orozco, Leyva team that didn’t have those deficiencies, but Naddour put an end to that argument with his trials performance. That team wasn’t happening.)

Whittenburg didn’t so much throw his spot away, as we may hear. He just got beat by Jake Dalton. Dalton was better. And the strong performances from Brooks and Orozco at trials suddenly created a Whittenburg-less team option that might actually be able to score…theoretically…OK.

I really did enjoy our narrative switch from night 1 of “WHITTENBURG IS THE #2 LOCK” to night 2 of “WHITTENBURG HAS ONLY VERY LITTLE CHANCE.” Methinks Tim had a little sit down with the selection committee where they explained some things to him in a “Whittenburg is not making this team” kind of way.

Continue reading Mikulak, Dalton, Naddour, Brooks, Orozco

Trials 2016: The Olympic Team Is Nobody

Continuing their mission to make everything complicated and impossible, the men concluded the first day of Summer Winter Cup last night, and it went terribly. At least for me.

If you don’t start behaving, NO ONE’s going to the Olympics. I WILL TURN THIS CAR AROUND.

Sam Mikulak remained a lock for the team but aggressively botched his first two routines, still somehow managing to score 14.975 on PBars even with a fall. This competition successfully confirmed that Sam Mikulak could strip naked, glue tassels to his nipples, and do the macarena and still get a 16, while also doing nothing to deter conspiracy theorists who believe that the Chosen Ones will get the Chosen Scores regardless of performance (see also: Jake Dalton’s floor).

In the most important news and the only topic any right-minded person cares about, things didn’t go great for Paul Ruggeri on high bar for 14.650. It’s not so devastating if you look at the actual results (Paul remains in the top 3 on three events even after last night’s competition), but in the world of gymnastics where narrative is king and evidence is merely the court jester, it’s not a good look.

I said in the preview that selecting a team is way easier when Ruggeri is doing poorly and as such he couldn’t give the selection committee any reason to slap him with the alternate paddle, but that’s just what he did. Let’s all hope he gets saved by the algorithm. Everyone except Chris Brooks has messed up high bar at some point during the process, but Ruggeri did so more recently than some of the others. Continue reading Trials 2016: The Olympic Team Is Nobody

Women’s Podium Training and Men’s Podium Talking

The videos are here! The videos are here!

For an Amanar, that sure did consist of only two twists.

Also, Vanessa Ferrari’s routine composition is not a role model!

I’ll be interested to see what D score Gabby gets for this because I’m not giving credit to that back tuck out of the back full or that turn combo. That’s why it’s called podium training, though. Deep breaths. She’s certainly trying to squeeze every last tenth out of that routine to make a push as the third floor worker.

Cheryl Hamilton certainly had some background faces and some conversations with Kittia about that one.

On bars, Maggie is looking pretty much on track with where she was last year. It’s a 6.0 difficulty, which isn’t necessarily going to make a splash on these days when you’ve got the Locklears and the Kocians and the Gabbys and then Hernandez doing 6.4, but that dismount landing looked normal and secure without tentativeness.

On beam, nothing looked too troubling or scary either. There are still a few unfortunate moments like that wolf jump to front tuck, but at least she has seen the light and eliminated the two consecutive wolf turns at the beginning, so let’s all celebrate forever what we have been given. Looks like she’s going for 6.1 here.

We’ll see if she ends up competing the AA, but she also showed some floor tumbling. Continue reading Women’s Podium Training and Men’s Podium Talking

Men’s Olympic Trials Preview

Again with the men!

Amidst the hoopla of next week, with all the competitions and the podium trainings and the women’s things to care about, I’m deeply concerned that I may forget to preview the men’s Olympic Trials. Deeply. AND THEN WHAT WOULD WE DO?!?!? So, just to be safe, I’m doing it now.

It is the Olympic Trials, after all. And as we know, competitions of this magnitude cannot officially begin without making a ranked and numbered list of items most pertinent to the outcome and to our lives. It’s what separates us from the animals.

So, here’s what I’ll be watching at next week’s Man Trials.

1. Everyone except Sam Mikulak

I mean, sure. For fun, obviously. But Sam is pretty…much the least important part of the Olympic Trials. He’s going to Rio. It’s happening. Mikulak is the US’s least pipe-dreamy shot at getting somewhere close to an all-around medal, and the team may or may not need him on all six events in the team final (more on that later).

He could fall a crapload of times at Trials, and that wouldn’t change his status, nor would it matter that much in the long run because his Trials performance won’t be at all indicative of how he’ll fare at the Olympics, either way. All of us who are not warlocks have long since given up trying to predict when Darth Sam will decide to rear his ugly head.

So, to the others.

2. Donnell Whittenburg — Lock or Likely?

Heading into nationals, I think most of us viewed Mikulak and Whittenburg as close-ish to lock status with everyone else fighting for the remaining three spots. Then something happened on the second day of nationals, namely Whittenburg going to Womp Town via the Splatty Express. Suddenly, the highest-possible team score coming out of nationals belonged to the Mikulak, Dalton, Brooks, Ruggeri, Naddour quintet, leaving out Whittenburg and casting at least some doubt on his team status by opening the question of whether he and Dalton ultimately cancel each other out too much.

Whittenburg is supposed to destroy the world on vault and floor, but at nationals, even his hits were a couple tenths behind Dalton, Ruggeri, and sometimes Mikulak, making him look more like a 1-2 eventer than the 4-eventer the team needs him to be. Now, I still think Whittenburg erases that doubt with a hit meet and ultimately will make the team because he has been part of the In Club this whole quad and the men’s selection committee only punishes members of the In Club for poor performances when they’re Danell Leyva. But, there are more questions around him now than there should be, along with a somewhat compelling argument for excluding him largely because of…

3. Beam of starlight, Paul Ruggeri

To my mind, no development at nationals complicated the team selection picture more than Paul Ruggeri’s top-three placement on three events. Mwahahaha. Picking a team is so much easier if Paul Ruggeri doesn’t do well (there are only so many NO ME GUSTA pommel horse routines you can put on one team), but if he continues TFing on vault, floor, and high bar, how do you say no to that? Continue reading Men’s Olympic Trials Preview

*FINAL* US Men’s Olympic Team Calculator

NOTE: This has been updated to include the final results from Olympic Trials.

Because we’ve all (and by “we’ve all,” I obviously mean just me) been agonizing over various US men’s team options ever since nationals made everything harder, I’ve put together a handy-dandy little calculator so we can assess and compare all the possible groups of five Olympians (both realistic and five-Paul-Ruggeris-type). That way, everyone can join in the fun! This is what fun is, right?

Go ahead and give it a whirl!

Here’s how it works: In the cell next to “Team Member #X,” write the surname only of the gymnasts on a prospective Olympic team. Once you’ve listed at least three gymnasts, you’ll see a three-up, three-count total for that team on each event—as well as a full team total—based on the scores from nationals.

There are two options here, the first one is based on the highest score received by each gymnast at nationals (if you’re a glass-half-full kind of person), and the second one is based on the average score received by each gymnast at nationals (if you’re a glass-half-pommel-horse kind of person).

As a handy reminder of who the people are and how their last names are spelled (be sure they’re spelled correctly), here are the 18 remaining options for the US men’s Olympic team: Mikulak, Brooks, Dalton, Modi, Melton, Whittenburg, Moldauer, Kimble, Ruggeri, Orozco, Maestas, Naddour, Oyama, Bailey, Penev, Leyva, Legendre, Wynn.