Category Archives: Stuff and Nonsense

Things Are Happening – October 13, 2017

A. Morgan Hurd is world champ, BTW

That happened. It needs to be addressed. It’s very exciting, even if the all-around competition itself was a little “where is everyone else?”

It felt like a normal all-around competition, but where the lead group of six suddenly went missing right before the meet and we were just left with everyone else. Still, it made up for that by being super close and featuring a group of frontrunners that was very easy to support and for whom it is very easy to enjoy success. A highlight of a somewhat trashy worlds.

Plus, Hurd will be a great example in all future “nationals means nothing” arguments because nationals means nothing. Almost as little as Classic.

If you’re me, you’ve already started casually pondering “What’s the 2018 team going to be?”-related questions and then died from thinking about it. I know that we always say, “That team is going to be impossible to pick!” and then it ends up being super possible to pick because of gymnastics. But also, you guys. When the current world champion is just in the maybe pile…

Which brings us to…

B. Simone’s Unvacation

We can’t really say comeback, because she never officially left, but Simone has taken the next step in returning from her…extended, pretty stressful-seeming vacation?…by detailing her plan for 2018 competitions.  Basically, she watched #trashworlds and was like, “Alright, enough of that racket. Mama’s home!” Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 13, 2017


Things Are Happening – September 22, 2017

I’m back! Much has happened since I abandoned you, some of it even interesting, so let’s get into the highlights.

A. Worlds team drama

Finally, the FIG unveiled the nominative roster for worlds, meaning we kinda/sorta/barring any last minute tricks know who will be in Montreal in a week’s time. In case you missed it, I’ve already broken down the US team. Short version: without knowing the ranch scores, it’s fairly easy to justify this as a reasonable team, though one without “everyone here will win a medal” ability, which is a bit of a change from recent years. Much of the dissatisfaction with this team seems to be born of a feeling of “I just wish the options were better,” which is manifesting as “this was the wrong person to take.”

The drama and gymternet betrayals are not limited solely to the US, however, with the international field bringing its own wagonload of sturm und drang.

So, yeah, Italy. Continue reading Things Are Happening – September 22, 2017

Things Are Happening – September 1, 2017

A. Post Hiatus

First, a little housekeeping. You won’t see any new posts for the next several weeks as I will be gallivanting around England going, “La la la” and not sitting here writing things. I’ll be back in time for a few worlds previews before heading off to Montreal.

This post is a little longer than usual to tide you over.

B. Chinese National Games

Qualification is complete at the Chinese National Games, with predominately the usual suspects doing the usual things. Scoring looks fairly realistic because of domestic Chinese competitions. It’s not crazy tight like it used to be (everyone gets a 7.0 E!), but…normal. Worlds-level scoring. Calmer than pretty much all the other domestic competitions.

In the all-around, the leader is junior Chen Yile, just to establish what the internet is going to be obsessed with for the next year. She’s followed by Liu Tingting, then Wang Yan, Luo Huan, and Shang Chunsong in that order. They’re all quite tightly packed, so this result is not decisive, but it does reinforce the idea that Liu and Wang would be the two AAers for China at worlds. Luo really needs to start beating Wang to make her case since it will be very tough for Luo to get a specialist spot.

On vault, Wang Yan and Liu Jinru qualified 1-2, both performing their Rudi and Tsuk 2/1 combos. (Apparently you guys really don’t like the term Kas 1/1, though it is the more accurate reflection of the technique used. Yes, it’s a MAG term. But…so is Tsuk. I get scolded either way, so I’m not too bothered.)

On bars, Fan Yilin qualified first, well in front of the rest of the group. That’s a critical result in helping to make her case. If Wang Yan is one of the AAers, then China will definitely need to take a medal-contending bars specialist to worlds (because otherwise what’s even the point), and Fan is reestablishing herself as the top nominee.

I heard at nationals that this dismount (which Riley McCusker also performs) has been reevaluated to a D. It used to be an E. Continue reading Things Are Happening – September 1, 2017

Things Are Happening – August 25, 2017

A. Tabitha Time

Stanford was ready. Less than two weeks after announcing that Kristen Smyth has been sent to a farm upstate with lots of open areas to run around, Stanford revealed that the prodigal daughter is set to return. Tabitha Yim has left Arizona after two seasons to take the head coaching job at Stanford. Yippee hooray!

It’s not a surprising move in that Tabitha is basically the most important thing to come out of Stanford since [insert important science reference I’m too lazy to Wikipedia here]. She was a star athlete at Stanford, became assistant coach, struck off to get her feet wet as a head coach elsewhere, championed smart changes to the sport, and now has returned to lead Stanford to glory (?) (TBD).

Her life experience as “broken elite who didn’t make the Olympics and then put herself back together mentally and physically and redefined herself as an NCAA star” should also resonate in coaching and recruiting. That’s like Stanford’s main demo. Plus, Tabitha’s track record in improving Arizona’s attendance (below) in the two years she was there provides a faint glow of optimism that she might make it a priority to step up Stanford’s marketing and attendance, at least from 0 to 1.

The issue I see arising is that it’s not exactly the fresh start many had called for. This isn’t Stanford wiping the slate clean after Kristen. Tabitha was Kristen’s assistant coach for five seasons, saw it all, and is very much part of that old guard. Will a team that was unhappy with Kristen accept Tabitha as bringing a real change of culture and environment?

For Arizona, there’s REALLY not enough time now before the year starts to search for a brand new head coach, so they have already announced that John Court’s blazers will be the interim head coach.

B. Russian Cup

Good old Russian Cup, getting Russian fans’ hopes up so that they can be cruelly dashed at worlds since 1842.

This year’s Russian Cup is being held directly on the heels of US Nationals, mostly so that Valentina can be like, “MINE TOO. Also this, my gymnasts over here.” As is typical with Russian Cup, an unclear and indecipherable level of Valentina Bonus has been in effect depending on the day and (probably) how much she hates the gymnast who’s going, so this competition isn’t really about the accuracy of the scores.

Also, I’m starting a vodka company called Valentina Bonus. It’s going to be undrinkable. Continue reading Things Are Happening – August 25, 2017

Things Are Happening – August 11, 2017

A. Jake Dalton retires

Jake Dalton Toe Point has pointed its last toe. Pour out a comically large bicep. Or something. I don’t know how this works.

The bam-bam-grrr events tended to be his things, but I was always partial to parallel bars.

Year in and year out, Dalton made teams to compete the power events during an era in which he had plenty of competition for those spots. Vault/floor gymnasts like Legendre, Ruggeri, and more recently Whittenburg probably can’t count how many teams they didn’t make because their strengths overlapped too much with Dalton’s and Dalton was already a lock for the team. His execution and relative consistency allowed him to rise above the rest.

B. P&G Championship rosters

I was going to do a post about the women’s roster for nationals upon release, but it was boring so I didn’t.

The senior women’s field will be comprised of everyone who competed at Classic except Laney Madsen, who did not get her qualifying score. Victoria Nguyen is also slated to compete after pulling out of Classic with injury, and Sydney Johnson-Scharpf will appear at nationals after having her petition approved. (She was sick at Classic and also technically got the necessary qualifying score at Cracky-Scoring Iceland Meet. It just wasn’t a national team assignment and therefore didn’t count for her qualification needs.)

Several gymnasts also managed to achieve only two- or three-event qualifying scores at the classic meets, so while they were allowed to compete the AA at US Classic, they can compete only on those specific events at nationals. Here are the event scratches in spreadsheet format because of course I did.

On the junior side, the field is much smaller than it was at classic because of the somewhat harsh qualifying standard (only harsh in that scores from elite qualifiers cannot be used to qualify to nationals—the qualifying score must come from the ranch, an assignment, or a classic meet). It’s a necessary harshness, though, because otherwise the nationals field would just be too large. We still have 31 juniors making it in as is.

Sadly, Madelyn Williams—the winner of the Faux-gines Prize for Elegance from US Classic that I just awarded—is not among them as she has pulled out of nationals. Continue reading Things Are Happening – August 11, 2017

Things Are Happening – August 4, 2017

A. Zero Downies

The summer of 2017 is not a great time in Downie Land—and therefore not a great time for any of us—as Ellie suddenly revealed that she has been gravely injured since March and competed at Euros even though her ankle was attached by only a single strand of floss, which seems like it would have been hard.

So, now she’s having surgery, which means we’ll have exactly zero Downies at worlds this year what with Becky’s elbow injury from Euros as well.


But, it also means there are some open spots to be won by gymnasts who might not previously have seemed likely to make the British worlds team, a team that looked like an inevitable Ellie, Becky, Tinks, Frags quartet only a couple months ago. Tinks and Frags are probably the top two AAers if they have their lives together, but now Georgia-Mae Fenton has a real shot at a bars spot if she can work out how not to get injured right on the eve of competitions, and then there’s room for one more. Gabby Jupp can come back and do beam, right? Right. Good idea, me.

B. Man Championships

BREAKING NEWS: When the women compete at P&G Championships two weeks from now (I’m not ready), there’s also some kind of men’s competition going on at the same time. Like a man championship. Huh. Learn something new every day.

(This year, you know the man days will be when everyone goes to Disneyland…)

USAG has the roster for us, so now we know that the men’s senior field will be as follows: Continue reading Things Are Happening – August 4, 2017

Things Are Happening – July 26, 2017

It’s a special Wednesday edition of Things Are Happening because later this week we’ll have, you know, Classic.

Hopes – July 28, 2:30 p.m. CT – ScoresWatch
Juniors – July 29, 1:00 p.m. CT – ScoresWatch
Seniors – July 29, 6:30 p.m. CT – ScoresWatch

Speaking of…

A. Classic roster changes

The big development of the last few days is that Victoria Nguyen has withdrawn from Classic with a suddenly acute case of Chow’s.

It is a slight breach of etiquette because typically with a Chow’s withdrawal you’re supposed to compete at Classic, be perfect, and then get injured and withdraw from nationals (GOWEYMEMORIES). For the moment, though, it looks like Nguyen is still planning to compete at nationals.

Her spot in the senior start list has been taken by Gabby Perea (because junior national team members are competing with the seniors this year), who originally did not enter the event because of an ankle injury but now has popped up and plans to compete bars.


Here is the set she’s currently working on (with a cut in the video).

Inbar 1/1 (E) + Toe-on Shap (D) + Stalder Tkatchev (E) + Pak (D) + Stalder Shap 1/2 (E) = 0.7 CV
Inbar 1/2 (D) + Jaeger piked (E) = 0.1 CV
Double layout (D)
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.8
D-SCORE = 6.4

If she puts that all together in the same competition routine, it’s pretty much the ideal bars composition for the current code, alternating E and D flight elements to squeeze out as much CV as possible while limiting the number of handstand positions that need hitting to as few as possible.


The women’s European Youth Olympic Festival, or EEEEEYYYYOOOOFFFFF, which rolls right off the tongue, got underway today with a bit of an upset in the team competition. An under-strength Russian team managed to defend its title over the favored Italians because the Italians went all “you get a 12, and YOU get a 12, EVERYBODY GETS A 12” on beam and floor. Vanessa Ferrari’s like, “Welp, looks like another quad for me…” Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 26, 2017

Things Are Happening – July 14, 2017

A. The Cimpian affair

Romania, I can’t even begin. At least you’re spicing up the slow-news season. That’s something.

Because of internet and Nicolae Forminte being on Faceplace, we’ve recently learned that Romania’s Olivia Cimpian—of “she’s one of their gymnasts now” fame—has left Deva for Hungary with the intention of competing for Hungary in the future. I’m sure that will go fine and there won’t be any drama. Everyone just wants what’s best for the gymnasts, he said choking.

For now, Cimpian is in limbo, not competing for Romania but not yet eligible to represent Hungary.

In terms of future team prospects, Cimpian was not necessarily lined up to be the big, big star for Romania this quad, but she does have a useful DTY and her departure is another blow to Romania’s already extra-limited depth. Theoretically, if Romania has Ponor, Iordache, Jurca, Crisan, Golgota, and…uh….Ocolisan? Angela Lansbury? going this quad, they can put together a reasonable team on three events, but not having Cimpian puts them one step closer to a 2015-2016 situation where everyone has to be healthy at the right moment otherwise the tower tumbles. And quickly.

If Cimpian’s nationality change actually works out at some point, she’d certainly be in line to make teams for a Hungary squad that has Kovacs, Devai on vault, and Makra (we hope) but gets into the lower 12s pretty quickly on most events. Cimpian would provide a more competitive core of routines. In fact, if you go into the national team rankings and take Cimpian away from Romania and give her to Hungary, Hungary would be less than a point behind Romania.

B. MAG national qualifier

The US men are gathering at the training center tomorrow to compete in a national qualifier (much like the US women did last weekend), the last chance to qualify to nationals for those who did not make the national team after Winter Cup or qualify to nationals based on NCAA finishes. So, people like Whittenburg, Penev, and (of note) Mikulak are competing but don’t actually need the results because they’re already qualified to nationals. It is a much more important competition for someone like Marvin Kimble, who didn’t so much with the good at Winter Cup, isn’t on the current national team, and might just be living in the woods now? Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 14, 2017

Things Are Happening – June 30, 2017

A. The week’s coaching news

We’ve now received confirmation that the Eastern Michigan head coaching position is just the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, with Josh Nilson setting a record by resigning 19 days after he was hired, citing family reasons. (Side note: it’s a shame asshole politicians have ruined “family reasons” for people who actually have family reasons.)

Just as a reminder, 13 months ago, Jay Santos was still the head coach at Eastern Michigan. So that will be Jay Santos, Sarah Brown, Josh Nilson, and New Coach all in a little over a year.

This week, Michigan State also happened to remember that gymnastics is about more than just ignoring sexual assault complaints. It’s also a sport, and Michigan State’s is a program that kind of needs to try to move on from the “make a card for Larry Nassar” era. So, last year’s interim head coach Mike Rowe has officially been named the permanent head coach, resolving one of still-open positions.

Team Outgoing coach Reason Incoming coach
Penn State Jeff Thompson Everything Sarah Brown
Michigan State Kathie Klages Larry Nassar Mike Rowe
NC State Mark Stevenson Retired Kim Landrus
Georgia Danna Durante Fired Courtney Kupets
EMU Sarah Brown To Penn State Josh Nilson
Illinois Kim Landrus To NC State Nadalie Walsh
Pittsburgh Debbie Yohman Retired Samantha Snider
Ohio State Carey Fagan Promoted Meredith Paulicivic
Alaska Paul Stoklos Retired
Utah State Nadalie Walsh To Illinois
EMU Josh Nilson Family reasons

B. NCAA postseason changes

A couple follow-up notes to yesterday’s committee announcement.

One of the complaints about the new and improved format is that it will lead to fewer opportunities (this is the same argument that formed the foundation of SEC resistance and stalled the move for years and years…and years and years). Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 30, 2017

Things Are Happening – June 23, 2017

A. All the NCAAness

So much. Suddenly, so much has happened.

First item: Samantha Durante confirmed that she’s off to LSU for the upcoming season, which is a sort of hilarious F-U to Georgia for firing her mom. “Oh really? Because I went and found a better team.”

I was wondering what LSU would do with that Kaitlin Szafranski scholarship after she left for Arizona State (though do we ever really know what the scholarship situation is at any school?)

The Freshman Playlist has been updated to reflect this and a couple other late developments for the upcoming season, including Gabriela Bouza-Lazo signing with Boise State.

We’ve also learned that Ashley Hiller, who just left Florida, is joining Oklahoma for next season. So, it wasn’t about finding a place where she could get a scholarship or compete more, then. But you know, maybe she’ll Nicole Turner.

In coaching news, a bunch of assistant coaching positions were filled this week, with Elise Ray initiating her quest to form a New Michigan Empire by selecting Ralph Rosso as her new assistant. His qualifications include seeming nice for the 11 seconds I talked to him at nationals (really all that matters).

Sarah Brown also announced her new assistants at Penn State as Dallas Becerra, who was her assistant at EMU, and Rob Drass, who was her coach at Missouri. With Sarah Brown and Kupets, that makes two coaches this year whose former head coaches now work for them. (Technically.) (Suzie work for none y’all.)

Utah State (head coach), along with Illinois, Denver, and Arkansas (assistant coach) have posted their openings with the NCAA. Still no word from Michigan State or Alaska.

B. Child labor

I typically don’t post about fetus verbals because it’s my super-effective form of silent protest (you don’t get your verbal acknowledged until you’re a senior gymnast), but we did have some higher-profile junior verbals this week, with Emma Malabuyo saying she’s going to UCLA and Maile O’Keefe saying she’s going to Utah.

They’re both on the Olympic track and years away from college, so whatever, but just…this is what’s happening for the moment.

UCLA might be passing Alabama as Texas Dreams’ new Florida. If that sentence makes any sense. Which it doesn’t.

C. Larisa the tease

We also have a new video of Larisa Iordache teasing everyone by training some massive upgrades, including a double double tucked bars dismount, a 3.5 on floor, and a Shaposh + Hindorff combo on bars. The majority of these upgrades actually look pretty realistic, but I’d also say, you know, hold your horses. Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 23, 2017