A. Is for Ashton
I alluded to ASHTON DRAMA ALERT last week because she had been mysteriously removed from the national team list on the USAG website. Really, just her gym was stricken from the record, not Ashton herself as a human person.
The deal right now: Ashton Locklear has left Everest. As for the rest…don’t worry about it. Yet.
So I’m going to use this opportunity to talk about Ashton’s gymnastics moving forward. (What? Actual gymnastics? Say it ain’t so?!?) We’re at a turning point for one-event specialists with the increasingly shrunken team sizes not benefiting those specialists who come from team-focused countries that don’t care about apparatus world cups.
Did the last world championship—along with the impending emergence of Gabby Perea—serve as the writing on the wall for Locklear’s time as a US bars specialist and international team member? For the answer to be no, Locklear would have to get enough crazy bars difficulty back to shove herself onto a 5-person worlds team with only one contributing event. It’s possible (she and Kocian both made a 6-person team), but her bars would have to be really worth it.
In that respect, I understand the occasional push we hear that ASHTON IS GOING TO TRAIN THE ALL-AROUND AGAIN, the idea being that having prelims-usable sets helps her chances to make a team. But at the same time…don’t. The real way she makes a team again is if her bars D is so aggressively good that you can’t NOT take that routine—meaning it provides a significant upgrade over a Biles or Smith “well, we could just use that and it would be fine” routine. Working hard to get a 4.8 D score on floor doesn’t help her stay healthy enough to unearth her “you must take me” difficulty on bars.
Plus, if you’re looking to 2020, Ashton’s route would be in one of the individual spots since a 4-4-3 (Q) and 4-3-3 (TF) format is very unfriendly to one-event gymnasts. Being a legit medal contender on bars (with the other events entirely irrelevant) is how she’d get that spot. The question now is whether she physically has that in her still.
B. Melbourne World Cup
Qualification has concluded at the first world cup event of the year in Melbourne, and it was…fine I guess?
Chen Yile, the savior of China, leads the field on bars by nearly a full point and on beam by more than 1.5 points. Because she’s, like, better than everyone else.