Category Archives: Stuff and Nonsense

Things Are Happening – October 16, 2018

A. What a Bono

How’s a person supposed to preview worlds sufficiently when things keep happening?

Anyway, to the surprise of no one, USAG’s interim disaster Mary Bono resigned today as CEO, not quite four days after being hired. Although, the announcement came late Friday, and the next two days were weekend days, so we’re looking more at 1.33 business days at best (no credit as a wolf double). That means there’s still some discrepancy over whether this counts as defeating MLT’s short-tenure record or not. Thoughts and math welcome.

In her resignation statement, Mary spares a thought for the real victim in all of this—herself. For how dare she be forced to suffer at the hands of her own thoughts, words, and actions. Charitably, she also spares a thought for the secondary victim—us—for not getting to experience the wonder that is her. I guess.

The second paragraph is probably my favorite. “I had a storyline to roll out, I tell you! A storyline! Look how calculated to garner sympathy and deflect criticism it was!” That storyline, and the lack of understanding that we the public are looking for qualifications not storylines, is probably what accounts for the board making this bizarre selection in the first place. Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 16, 2018

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Things Are Happening – October 13, 2018

A. Take Out the Trash Day

If you thought your paying-attention duties had ceased after the naming of the women’s worlds team, you neglected the importance of the patented USAG Friday night news dump.

In it, USAG revealed several things it hoped you were already too drunk to pay attention to closely. First, the humble peasants were allowed to see the selection procedures that govern which gymnasts will be allowed to take the Jade Carey Route through apparatus world cups to gain personal qualification to the 2020 Olympics. Basically, it’s Jade Carey and no one.

First, to be eligible, you must meet at least one of these criteria:

You’ll note the words “current national team member” cropping up in all of them. You’ve always had to be a national team member to get international assignments, so there’s nothing new or particularly onerous or unreasonable here, but these requirements do signal a desire to narrowly limit the number of people who can try for this. It tells me they don’t really want people with past elite success like Ashton Locklear or MyKayla Skinner just popping up and yelling, “Send me to Azerbaijan!”

Only three seniors currently meet these standards: Biles, Hurd, and Carey. Because we expect Biles and Hurd to compete at worlds this year with the team, that would leave only Carey able to go this route. But, these rules do not specify junior/senior, so by my reading, Sunisa Lee and Leanne Wong would both also be eligible for those early 2019 apparatus world cups (once they turn senior) through criterion 2, should they want that.

I don’t think that will happen because both will probably still see themselves as AA, team-spot contenders at this point, but it should be possible. Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 13, 2018

Things Are Happening – October 9, 2018

A. US worlds selection camp

The US will be streaming a worlds selection competition for the very first time on Thursday at 3:00 ET. It seems like USAG is actually doing something right, so I’m off to sit in a small box and be shocked for 16 hours. I’m sure something will go terribly wrong like there won’t be scores or they forgot to invite the gymnasts, so don’t worry.

No official time has been given for the announcement of the team (there’s our USAG!), but it’s going to be sometime later on Friday.

By way of a preview, here’s what those camp attendees who weren’t named to the nominative team need to do at the select camp to change the default outlook.

Jordan Chiles – Hit an Amanar every damn time she even looks at the vault. If she’s not hitting an Amanar, she won’t disrupt the nominative team. If she is, she has an excellent argument to go to worlds to deliver one event, likely in place of Kara Eaker.

Ragan Smith – Score 14+ on floor and 14.2+ on beam. Smith will need to have magically gotten healthy since nationals, of course, but if we see 2017 Smith show up, you start entertaining the possibility of replacing the McCallum-Eaker duo with Smith and a vaulter.

Shilese Jones – A good all-around competition probably lands her the alternate spot at this point, but she could improve the nominative team’s scoring potential on vault, so outscoring the other DTYs by multiple tenths and going 14.8+ is her best route. It would also help Jones if Smith has a good competition since Jones and Smith complement each other well (Jones could be the vaulter named above, but would need Chiles not to be hitting an Amanar).

Alyona Shchennikova – Her argument is all about bars. She would need to score a 15+ on bars and beat Hurd by multiple tenths there to make a useful one-event argument similar to the one Eaker is trying to make for beam. Basically, Shchennikova needs to beat Hurd on bars by more than Eaker beats Hurd on beam to say she’s the one-eventer of your dreams. Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 9, 2018

Things Are Happening – September 26, 2018

A. This week

Your two assignments for the week are the Paris Challenge Cup and the German Championships.

The format for the Paris Challenge Cup is a little different, with just two days of competition—qualification on Saturday (beginning 2:00pm local) and the finals on Sunday (beginning 1:30pm local).

We’re expecting a high-quality field for this one. France (of course), Spain, Hungary, and Ukraine are sending most of their top athletes. Japan and Romania are also sending big MAG contingents, Chuso and the usuals will be there, and we’re expecting both Downies to compete for Great Britain. Caveat: The roster hasn’t been updated in exactly forever and lists Becky Downie as doing vault, so……take it with a grain of……ignore it. SO EXCITED FOR BECKY DOWNIE’S TWO VAULTS THAT EXIST.

Elsewhere, there’s still much to decide in the realm of the German worlds teams, so this weekend’s national championship will be telling. On the women’s side, Sophie Scheder is on the roster to return after missing both Euros and the most recent trial in Stuttgart, and Elisabeth Seitz is looking to continue her return from injury after showing solid progress at the trial. Ideally, your German team is probably Seitz, Schäfer, Scheder, Bui, and Voss (which has been true since Tabea Alt got injured) but we need to see where Scheder and Seitz are and if they’re up to worlds level right now.

That team would be pretty weak on beam besides Schäfer, so there’s still an opportunity for a Timm or Kröll or Grießer to get in if Seitz or Scheder aren’t up to worlds level yet. All-around competition is on Saturday (1:30pm for the women, 6:00pm for the men), with event finals on Sunday beginning at 12:00pm. All times local.

B. Last weekend

The event world cups got back underway in Szombathely last weekend, and the host nation will be quite pleased with its performance on the women’s side with Dorina Böczögö taking the floor title and the returned Zsofia Kovacs taking the beam title. Kovacs missed Euros with injury, but if this meet is any indication, she’s on track for worlds. The Hungarian women outperformed expectations at Euros to make the team final even without their best gymnast, so they’ll be quite optimistic for worlds chances with her. I’d say a top-12 finish is a tough ask but not completely out of the realm of possibilities as a team goal. Top 15 is definitely doable. Continue reading Things Are Happening – September 26, 2018

Things Are Happening – September 19, 2018

A. US men’s selection camp

The two-day selection camp for the US men’s world championship squad begins tomorrow. And guess what. It will be streamed! Like a real competition! Well done, you.

It’s almost like getting more eyes on what you’re doing is a…dare I say it…good thing? And that it…helps promote the sport and the athletes competing? WHAT. The women’s program is like, “I don’t understand…”

Competition schedule
Thursday, September 20 – 11:00am local time (Mountain)
Saturday, September 22 – 3:30pm local time (Mountain)

The competition is limited to just the 8 members of the training squad—Mikulak, Moldauer, Modi, Kimble, Yoder, Bower, Van Wicklen, Howard—who will be divided into the 5 team members and 3 alternates following Saturday’s competition.

The big news is the withdrawal of Donothan Bailey due to injury—because he was just casually having a great year, with his best chance ever to make a worlds team. Ah ha ha. Dead.

Bailey’s replacement is Trevor Howard, who I suppose is here because of the potential 14.5 score he brings on rings. OK? That’s interesting to me because I wasn’t too, too worried about rings. If you have Mikulak, Kimble, and Moldauer, that’s not a terrible rings score by any means, so perhaps Howard’s selection is revealing of more rings anxiety (or more Kimble anxiety) than I thought there would be.

The Bailey withdrawal is the best news for Modi and Bower since it means they have less competition for those remaining couple spots. Based on the scores from nationals, the teams produced by swapping in and out Bailey, Modi, and Bower (and Van Wicklen for that matter) were so similar that only the smallest margin was going to separate who made the team and who didn’t.

Above all, Marvin Kimble is the major story to watch at this selection camp because he missed nationals. That means we don’t really know what we’re going to get from him—in addition to it being Marvin Kimble to begin with, so of course we don’t know what we’re going to get from him. His high bar routines will be the most important of the entire selection competition because that’s such a weak event for the US right now and because he can potentially bring nearly a full point over what a non-Kimble team would score there. Stay tuned.

B. is for Britain and also Becky

Lots to report on the British side of things today. At the team championships, the big development was the performance of this unknown upstart named Becky Downie, who won bars with a 6.6 D score, the highest in the world.

She’s so confident with all those impossible releases that the most significant challenge for her in this yeti of a routine will be getting the endurance back to avoid having to cast at horizontal as she gets toward the end. Put together, this set could challenge Derwael and would make Downie a medal favorite at worlds once again.

Not to be overshadowed, Ellie Downie also made her return at this competition (Becky’s like, “NO MY SHOW”). Ellie missed on bars for a 13.3, which nonetheless put her in second, but also scored 13.3 for a hit on beam with a not-pushing-it 5.0 D, good enough for third. Let your British-team anxiety be quelled. A little.

Amelie Morgan also continued her assault on our prognostications for next year (when she becomes senior) by placing in the top 3 on every single event, including winning beam. We also saw Alice Kinsella take second on beam and vault, Taeja James win floor comfortably with a 13.550, and Kelly Simm win vault with 14.050 (tied with Kinsella overall but higher on execution). Continue reading Things Are Happening – September 19, 2018

Things Are Happening – September 13, 2018

A. This weekend

We’ll start with the fun stuff—competitions. The Pan American Championships will run from Friday to Sunday, with a preview of the women’s competition and full schedule here. This will be the last official competition opportunity for the large majority of the teams until worlds—and a critical case-making meet for some of the borderline American, Brazilian, and Canadian contenders. 

Germany will hold an internal test on Saturday to begin making its own worlds team decisions, the women hoping to find a solution to…whatever that was at Euros. That solution is probably named Elisabeth Seitz. She’ll return to competition here, none too soon for Germany’s sake, performing alongside Schäfer, Bui, Voss, and the usual suspects. Sophie Scheder is not competing.

Women are at 1pm local, the men at 4:30pm local. If you are avoiding-geoblocking savvy, there will be a live stream.

The following weekend, we’ll get back into the World Challenge Cups swing, with Szombathely, followed by Paris. Both Downies are on the list for Paris. The entire nation of Great Britain breathes a sigh of relief.

B. The awful stuff

The latest news from the land of crime—Erika Davis filed suit against That Guy saying that he drugged and raped her in 1992. And it was videotaped. She told her coach. The coach got a copy of the tape. Then the athletic director named George Perles, still a trustee at Michigan State (“but why aren’t the trustees holding anyone responsible?!?!?!”), forced the coach to turn over the tape, resign, and sign an NDA. 

You should go to prison! And YOU should go to prison! EVERYONE should go to prison!

“How could he have gotten away with it for so long?” they asked.

“Why didn’t the victims come forward sooner?” they asked.

There’s always a George. Looking out for a Larry. 

C. Raschilla to Auburn

We were all wondering what would happen to Bryan Raschilla after he got dumped by Alabama. Well, turns out he will be Auburn’s new volunteer assistant coach in the upcoming season. Because he’s just so green and needed to gain some valuable experience in a volunteer position.

Suzanne, always a trendsetter.

Guys, anyone who’s anyone has an insanely overqualified volunteer assistant coach on staff now. Four for the price of three!

Anyway, my All-Volunteer-Assistant coaching staff of Suzanne Yoculan, Bryan Raschilla, Jordyn Wieber, and Courtney McCool will coach you to all the national championships. Continue reading Things Are Happening – September 13, 2018

Things Are Happening – September 7, 2018

A. UIC

UIC (University of Illinois-Chicago) has announced that it will be shuttering its women’s and men’s gymnastics programs following the 2019 competition season. The UIC men’s team has been among the ever-dwindling number of varsity, non-club programs in men’s collegiate gymnastics, the elimination of which is a sad moment in reinforcing the seemingly inevitable lurch toward oblivion for men’s DI college gymnastics in the US—and the urgency of the situation for women’s gymnastics, which is not far behind. Without UIC, we’d be down to 81 women’s programs, several of which are on year-to-year life support right now. The number of “safe” programs is less than you’d think.

The loss of one is a loss for all, and if a program is lost with a whimper, it makes other athletic directors around the country think, “Well, we can get rid of gymnastics and no one will care.”

The decision is not being conceded, and there is precedent for hope. Programs have been saved before in the face of announcements that they were to be cut. So by all means scream about it to the required people. But, you know, if you happen to be a secret billionaire and haven’t told anyone until now, that would be helpful too.

B. Women’s National Camp

The women’s senior national team has gathered for its first camp at EVO, its new temporary home, for physical abilities testing, verification, and competitive pretending everything’s going to be fine.

This serves as the preparation camp for those attending Pan American Championships—the team will leave directly from the camp—and the “we’re considering you for worlds, so try not to suck” camp for the others who have been invited. The roster is Biles, Hurd, McCusker, McCallum, Jones, Carey, Eaker, Thomas, Shchennikova, Chiles, Smith, and Malabuyo. So, no surprises there—the top 11 AA finishers from nationals, plus Malabuyo. I suppose Malabuyo would be classified as the surprise inclusion, only because her back was too injured for her to compete about 30 seconds ago at nationals.

OMG IT’S A SEMICIRCLE INSTEAD OF A LINE.

It is cool that no one is standing like an arthritic Soviet zombie doll from the 70s—the way no one has stood ever. Getting the creepy out of gymnastics will be a lengthy process, with both small and large gains to be made along the way, and every little bit helps. Continue reading Things Are Happening – September 7, 2018