Category Archives: Stuff and Nonsense

Things Are Happening – August 10, 2018

A. EVO

EVO Athletics—the gym in Florida where Aimee Boorman works now—announced today that it will be the temporary home of US women’s national team while a permanent training facility is constructed/discovered/wished upon.

That means that EVO will host events like the worlds selection camp and the prep camps this year (developmental camps are still scheduled to be held at the Flip Fest location as of the latest calendar).

Of course, the cynical part of me is going, “You just wanted to be vaguely associated with Aimee Boorman so that no one would criticize this decision because everyone loves her,” even though it’s not like Aimee is suddenly running the camps. She’s not going to be storming in with a cape yelling, “By your powers combined, I’m AIMEE BOORMAN!”

But, USAG did have to find a temporary location that’s free of NCAA conflicts of interest, current elite conflicts of interest, and being-just-someone’s-house conflicts of interest, with the necessary facilities and without a history of being terrible. EVO seems to fit those requirements well.

B. The deal with the nationals roster

As we discuss on this week’s GymCastic, the mystery of Deanne Soza’s qualification to nationals has been solved. Sort of.

The word on the street is that following US Classic, the International Elite Committee met and decided to lower the three-event qualifying score from 39.750 to 39.500, allowing Soza to get in with her performance from Classic. You know, like how you change the rules after a competition? And don’t even bother to tell anyone? How that’s a thing that happens? Continue reading Things Are Happening – August 10, 2018

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Things Are Happening – August 3, 2018

A. European Championships – Belgium Drama

Following yesterday‘s intense (and apparently secret…) team qualification day, the big news has become Belgium.

Belgium performed splendidly on Thursday, securing qualification in third place ahead of Great Britain and the Netherlands (as well as the favored-but-suddenly-disastrous Germans in 10th). But today, Belgium announced that it is pulling out of the team final in order to focus on event finals and remaining healthy for worlds.

The wha…?

This turn of events is a useful reminder that Belgium is still a tiny gymnastics nation, one that has been punching above its level recently because of a small, extremely talented generation but is not as established as any of the other countries its competing against. Belgium is in Glasgow with only four gymnasts, not as some sort of cool political statement, but because there aren’t really any other available options.

On this team of four, Senna Deriks is currently not able to compete floor and Nina Derwael’s ankles are hurting, and…well…the ability to comfortably put up three athletes on each event in a team final dissipates pretty quickly. Belgium is clearly already worried about getting more injured and not having enough people to go to worlds in a few months.

The other factor here is less tangible. Because of not having a huge pool to choose from historically, Belgium hasn’t secured a ton of team accomplishments over the years and has therefore not developed that rabid THE TEAM IS ALL culture that’s so strong around gymnastics programs like the US. (For reference if you’re not an insane American: At the 2008 Olympics, US gymnasts won AA and BB gold, and those Olympics were viewed as “just OK” because of the team silver.) Continue reading Things Are Happening – August 3, 2018

Things Are Happening – July 26, 2018

A. 47 + Lies = 80

So, Kerry Perry did a Congress again, and it went just as terribly as you would expect. We’ll get there in a second.

But first, the most insufferably unsurprising part of all came right before the hearing itself, when USAG totally coincidentally launched its progress page for implementing the recommendations in the Daniels Report. You know, over a year later, like you do. In theory, this is a good thing. We’ve been calling for actual accountability in USAG’s commitment to implement the report ever since it came out, and this is a step in that direction. But also…you guys.

First, if you click on each of the individual points, you’ll see that USAG has implemented only the broadest and least important of the points, mostly the ones that don’t directly affect individual athletes, and has quite a charitable and passive definition of the word “implemented.” Basically, all they’re doing is showing you the sentence they added to the bylaws that vaguely concerns that topic, or just saying “Yep we did that” or “Uh…SafeSport?” Anyone can add a sentence to the bylaws and then ignore it.

Examples: They’re supposed to put people with expertise in child protection on the leadership team. That’s “implemented” with zero examples of who those people are or what their expertise is. They’re supposed to expand reporting methods to encourage and facilitate reporting. That’s “implemented” because of an email address and an online reporting form that isn’t even linked to here (nice work), with no discussion of efforts to reach out to and educate the athletes on this so that they know it exists and how it works and what to do with it. How is that really encouraging and facilitating reporting? Passive passive passive.

But best of all, you’ll note that the handy-dandy little pie chart says that 47% of the recommendations have been implemented.

Hmmm. That’s interesting. Remember back in March when KP proudly told us that over 80% of the recommendations had been put into effect?

So that was…wait for it…[looks around furtively]…a lie to make yourself look better?

I’m very, extremely surprised. Much shock.

It now appears they were combining the “implemented” and “in progress” categories and pretending that all of them were already done in order to get over 80% (that would make 86%). Much like when KP went in front of the House and pretended the Athlete Task Force that didn’t exist yet was already done. It’s the USAG special.

“Implemented” and “in progress” are not the same thing. That’s why they’re two different terms. One of them is done, and one of them isn’t. Stop lying to make yourself look better than you are. You’re going to get caught. It’s like we’re dealing with 5th graders again and again and again.

And have you made any progress on any of these items since you were “80%”-ing us in March? You’ve had more than a year, and 47% isn’t very good. That’s an F, by the way. Like an F-, really.

B. It was Thursday

To the hearing itself. The most entertaining part was when Senator Blumenthal kept pressing KP about the answer that USAG filed in a Michigan court last week saying That Guy was not “an employee or agent of USAG” and we all collapsed out of death because he was your team doctor.  Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 26, 2018

Things Are Happening – July 20, 2018

A. WHAT IS RUSSIA

Valentina announced today that she cut open the belly of a crow under the gleam of a solstice moon, the spilling innards of which instructed her to select a Euros team of Angelina Melnikova, Angelina Simakova, Lilia Akhaimova, Irina Alexeeva, and Uliana Perebinosova.

…………….

Obviously, I’m in heaven. This team is so damn weird and special, and I’m more excited for bars and beam than I can possibly say. (Admittedly, I’m excited in that “what if someone barfed during the royal wedding” kind of way, but still excited.) But also, um, a couple questions. Question #1: Why do you hate blood pressure? Question #2: Viktoria Komova, explain?

Well, according to Valentina, Komova was not selected for Euros despite finishing 3rd AA at Russian Cup because…wait for it…she has back pain and is inconsistent.

You’ve literally described every single Russian gymnast of the last 20 years, as well as all five other members of the team you selected. I have back pain and inconsistency just from saying the word “Russia” aloud right now. You’ll need to be more specific.

Also, Komova says her alleged back pain is not a thing.

Tell us more, Vika. Tell us more. You mean Valentina might have been disingenuous and inventing injuries again? I’m shook.

Oh yeah, Ilyankova is not on the team either, despite recording a 15.300 on bars at Russian Cup and placing 2nd AA. So…huh?

This is going to sound bad, but…she better be injured. You know what I mean. There’s internet rumor of a limp, which is the only way I can really see it making sense to take Perebinosova as a bars specialist over Ilyankova.

Perebinosova was too injured to compete at Russian Cup three weeks ago—and I was under the impression that she was “out of Euros”-injured—but apparently she’s better than Komova and Ilyankova suddenly, so that’s going to make for a super fun Euros competition. Alexeeva also missed Russian Cup—and doesn’t have the peak scoring potential of Komova on bars and beam or Ilyankova on bars—so the fact that she was chosen to do bars and beam means we can only assume she showed up to the final selection and American-consistency-ed all over everyone’s ass.

And Valentina was like, “WHAT IS THIS HITTING WITCHCRAFT. YOU’RE MY NEW DAUGHTER. VIKA LOCK YOURSELF IN A DUNGEON.”

That’s 1000% what happened because it looked to all the world like Komova and Ilyankova were going to be on this team and then suddenly…

Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 20, 2018

Things Are Happening – July 13, 2018

A. Qualified

Following American Classic, our list of senior gymnasts currently qualified to nationals has grown longer.

Morgan Hurd – 2017 worlds team member
Ragan Smith – 2017 worlds team member
Jade Carey – 2017 worlds team member
Ashton Locklear – 2017 worlds team member – OUT
Jordan Chiles – 2017 worlds team alternate
Margzetta Frazier – February verification
Grace McCallum – February verification
Maile O’Keefe – 2018 American Cup
Trinity Thomas – 2018 Tokyo World Cup
Gabby Perea – April verification
Adeline Kenlin – April verification (2 events – UB/BB)
Alyona Shchennikova – April verification
Shilese Jones – American Classic
Shania Adams – American Classic
Madeleine Johnston – American Classic
Kara Eaker – American Classic
Madelyn Williams – American Classic (3 events – VT/UB/BB)
Audrey Davis – American Classic (2 events – VT/UB)
Riley McCusker – American Classic (2 events – UB/BB)

We’ll see Biles and Malabuyo at US Classic (and obviously any petitions they might need after that point will be granted). Plus, there are others in the mix like Olivia Dunne, whom we expect to add her name to this list at Classic or through petition, so it should be a pretty hearty field. Last quad, the senior fields at nationals got too small and exclusive (13 people in 2013 and 2014), so I’m pleased to see we’ll be back over 20 competitors this year.

The currently qualified juniors are

Kayla DiCello – February verification
Sunisa Lee – April verification
Jordan Bowers – April verification
Sydney Barros – April verification
JaFree Scott – April verification
Leanne Wong – April verification
Lilly Lippeatt – April verification
Tori Tatum – Junior Pan Ams
Konnor McClain – American Classic
Skye Blakely – American Classic
Olivia Greaves – American Classic
Ui Soma – American Classic
Aleah Finnegan – American Classic
Levi Jung-Ruivivar – American Classic
Sydney Morris – American Classic
Ciena Alipio – American Classic
Karis German – American Classic
Zoe Gravier – American Classic

B. Men’s National Qualifier

On Saturday, the US men will compete in their own version of the American Classic at the OTC—except there has been not a whisper of streaming or anything…because men’s. You’ve all opted out of the stream, and you didn’t have a choice.

Come on, guys. Grab a phone, make like a Russian, and instagram it or something.

Several of the big names will be competing—Mikulak, Penev, and Whittenburg—though all three have already qualified to nationals by virtue of being on the national team. Penev and Whittenburg have both been out with injury this year, so putting up scored routines here is a critical benchmark for them heading toward nationals and heading toward a worlds selection process where their overlapping FX/VT strengths will probably pit them head-to-head for a spot.

Keep an eye on…your local carrier pigeon or something…for results from this one.

Juniors compete at 12:30 MT and seniors at 6:00 MT, and you can check out the start list here.

C. Valeri in Brazil

Well well well well well well well well. Valeri Liukin led a national team camp in Brazil this month, his second time doing so this year. A guest-coaching stint may just be all this is (there has been no official announcement that he’s taking over or doing anything permanent), but Brazil does have a history of hiring Russian expats to lead the women’s program. Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 13, 2018

Things Are Happening – June 29, 2018

A. The Ranch

The DA and assistant DA in Walker County, Texas provided an update on the investigation into the ranch today, announcing that That Guy has been indicted on six counts of sexual assault of a child, and (the surprise here) that Debbie Van Horn has also been indicted for sexual assault of a child. This was for “acting as a party” in one of the assault charges against That Guy, according to the DA. Yikes. There’s more and more and always more.

If you haven’t been up on it, Van Horn is the one who was always sitting on the folding chairs amongst all the backpacks at every competition and you asked “who is that lady?” every single year—the trainer who we’ve said should have seen, should have known, should have watched, should have questioned, and should have followed up. But such a direct charge, acting as a party in the sexual assault of a child, comes as a surprise.

They didn’t announced any other indictments, but the investigation is ongoing. They did mention that several other people would have been charged with failure to report, but the two-year statue of limitations has expired, so they couldn’t charge them. They interviewed the Karolyis, Steve Penny, and Rhonda Faehn as part of the investigation, making a specific point of sassing Steve Penny’s lack of cooperation. “He didn’t provide much assistance.” Yep. We know.

Martha also definitely worked her magic because the DA and assistant DA were very keen to tell us about how the golden child did nothing wrong and was just a humble coach who was bamboozled by USAG. They found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the Karolyis, so it seems they’re off the hook here.

B. American Classic

While most of the US gymternet erratic-twirl-machine has been consumed with the news of Tom Forster becoming the new women’s High-Performance Team Coordinator, which I wrote up yesterday (short version: He sounds like the best of the available options, proceed with caution because of USAG and 90s coaching, hilarious GIF), we also received the roster for the newly broadcast American Classic on July 7th at Utah.

Senior elite
Shania Adams
Sloane Blakely
Jade Carey
Audrey Davis
Kara Eaker
Jaylene Gilstrap
Olivia Hollingsworth
Madeleine Johnston
Shilese Jones
Adeline Kenlin
Emily Lee
Isabel Mabanta
Grace McCallum
Riley McCusker
Alyona Shchennikova
Deanne Soza
Madelyn Williams

Junior elite
Ciena Alipio
Love Birt
Skye Blakely
Sophia Butler
Kailin Chio
Claire Dean
Kayla DiCello
Amari Drayton
Addison Fatta
Aleah Finnegan
Delaney Fisher
eMjae Frazier
Gabreille Gallentine
Elizabeth Gantner
Karis German
Trista Goodman
Zoe Gravier
Olivia Greaves
Maeve Hahn
Selena Harris
Kaytlyn Johnson
Levi Jung-Ruivivar
Alonna Kratzer
Lillian Lewis
Kaliyah Lincoln
Lauren Little
Mallory Marchelli
Konnor McClain
Sydney Morris
Brenna Neault
Sienna Robinson
Katelyn Rosen
Lyden Saltness
Abigail Scanlon
Ava Siegfeldt
Ui Soma
Calvary Swaney
Tori Tatum

The senior roster is fairly typical for American Classic, where the biggest names who have been competing recently do not attend because there’s literally no reason for them to, but we will see the likes of Riley McCusker, who’s getting back into competition form after a medium-sized injury absence, and Jade Carey, who has been adding skills on bars this spring.

USAG will be streaming the meet on YouTube, juniors at 11:00am MT, seniors at 4:00pm. Hopes sessions will be the day before.

Scores at this one are important because seniors need to have a 52.000 AA (or 39.750 three-event score, or 27.000 two-event score) to advance to nationals if they didn’t already reach that score at one of the verification meets or a USAG international assignment. (Jesolo and Gymnix don’t count for qualification since they weren’t official USAG assignments—because, you know, that makes the scores less valid or something?) As for the juniors, they need a 51.000 AA and cannot qualify with the three- or two-event score. Both juniors and seniors will have another chance to get their scores at US Classic on the 28th if they don’t get them at American Classic.

By my count, the seniors who have already qualified for nationals are Morgan Hurd (2017 worlds team member), Ragan Smith (2017 worlds team member), Jade Carey (2017 worlds team member), Ashton Locklear (2017 worlds team member – currently injured), Jordan Chiles (2017 worlds team alternate), Margzetta Frazier (February verification), Grace McCallum (February verification), Maile O’Keefe (2018 American Cup), Trinity Thomas (2018 Tokyo World Cup), Adeline Kenlin (April verification), Gabby Perea (April verification), and Alyona Shchennikova (April verification). Shilese Jones also got a 3-event qualifying score at April verification.

Note: Kenlin’s vault at the April verification was on a soft surface, so I’m not sure if that was allowed to count for her qualifying score. As always, this information is cobbled together and incomplete (because a public list is not kept by USAG due to FUN), so there may be others who have qualified already and we never saw those scores. Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 29, 2018

Things Are Happening – June 21, 2018

A. Alex Naddour

We learned last night that Alex Naddour has been added to the USAG Suspended Members list regarding allegations of sexual misconduct, including multiple complaints dating back to 2012, and again in 2016 for additional incidents.

2012?!?!? SOOOO glad you’re just starting to do something about this now, USAG. Another real bang-up job. So much empowering women I can barely even handle it all. I’m sure those women who had to make complaints in 2016 feel so empowered learning that you had already received a complaint about him four years earlier.

It can’t have been easy for them to report this and make their statements, especially knowing that the “but what about HIM?” vultures would be out in even more force than usual because he has a known name, so thank you.

As for Naddour, this would seem to reinforce my theory that to find the creeps, we must follow the trail of bad Olympic tattoos. For now, he is only suspended pending a hearing (can’t be employed by or work out with member institutions in the interim), and we don’t know how long that status will last. The nature of the complaints is still vague, other than that they deal with sexual misconduct, which is really all we need to know. I’m sure details will come out as we go, but keep in mind that this is USAG/USOC, and in the past, the threshold for any kind of action like a suspension has been “It’s so big that we can’t not.”

And as for USAG, this passage from the OC Register is such peak reactionary USAG lying nonsense that I can barely even begin.

“Alex Who????? Never heard of her. Oh, um, yes, after definitely just learning who Alex Who is today, Alex Who is suspended, which was always going to happen anyway because of justice and empowerment and certainly not because we were trying to get ahead of your story before it came out so we could look proactive for PR reasons. We do all the caring.”

Here’s another winner, the official statement from USAG to the OC Register:

BUT HE WAS PLACED ON THE SUSPENDED LIST. THAT’S WHAT THIS WHOLE THING IS.

I’m very convinced that they are handling this in a well-organized, professional manner with standards and a communicated approach and whatnot.

Stay tuned. Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 21, 2018