Category Archives: Stuff and Nonsense

Things Are Happening – June 14, 2018

A. Junior Pan Ams

Women’s team and AA competition concluded yesterday at the Junior Pan Ams, with the US taking the team title by 7 points over second-place Canada. The hosts Argentina beat out Brazil for the bronze.

Jordan Bowers won the AA title with a 54.750, followed by Canada’s Zoe Allaire-Bourgie with 53.450, and Leanne Wong with 52.950. Tori Tatum finished fourth overall with 52.600.

The top seven countries in the AA here each qualified 1 spot to October’s Youth Olympic Games if they want it. That would be USA, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala. (Panama’s athlete Hilary Heron finished ahead of Guatemala’s, but Heron is a 2004 baby and is not age-eligible for the YOG.)

The US is still ostensibly claiming that it’s not sending a female artistic athlete to the YOG (as per the original plan), but USAG also stated that it selected Tori Tatum for the team because she is age-eligible for the YOG. So huh?

There was some question over Tatum’s selection as a replacement for Sunisa Lee because Tatum finished behind Lippeatt, Pilgrim, and McClain at the verification meet at WCC, and those standings were used to choose the junior Pan Ams team. USAG’s explanation for the selection was that Tatum is YOG-eligible as a 2003 baby, while the other three are not. That would seem to indicate that USAG is planning to send a woman to YOG after all. Or is just a total garbage barge in all respects at this point, which is also true.

Anyway, if the US doesn’t send anyone, the next spot goes to Costa Rica.

On the men’s side, Brandon Briones of the US took the all-around title, with silver to Diego Soares from Brazil and bronze to Felix Dolci from Canada. The team standings followed the same pattern: Canada in 3rd, Brazil in 2nd, and the US in first.

All event finals will take place on Friday, and all the gymnasts have frostbite because the competition is being held in an industrial meat freezer. FUN!

B. Nationality news

Laney Madsen—who appeared at US Classic in 2017 to chuck all the beam difficulty into your face and competed most recently at an elite qualifier in January—has announced that she’s representing Bulgaria now and will be doing so at worlds this year.

Uh…OK? Sure?

This isn’t a BeloAmerican situation because Madsen’s mother is Bulgarian—so she has an actual connection to the country and equal heritable legitimacy to represent Bulgaria as to represent the US. Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 14, 2018

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Things Are Happening – June 6, 2018

A. That Senate Hearing

You guys. I cannot even begin.

Yes I can. Let’s get into it.

(Watch here. Except probably don’t. Your life is worth more than that. RESPECT YOURSELF.)

Anyway, Rhonda Faehn, Lou Anna Simon, and “Steve Penny” appeared in front of a Senate subcommittee so that a bunch of senators could congratulate each other for how awesome they are for most of the hearing—and then rush the panelists to spit out answers quickly because suddenly they’re running out of time for questions. Oh, I wonder how that happened.

Dear Senators, the thing about your epic opening statement is that nobody cares about you and you don’t have anything to say. You know how annoyed you get when a no-personality youngun is running around making an endless and pointless video about how little personality they have? That’s you, in these hearings. You’re the SnapChat in this situation.

Whatever. The most important thing we have to talk about is Steve Penny taking the 5th and refusing to answer any questions. Well, except for the first question that was like, “Is your name Steve and do you suck?” You know he wanted to take the 5th on that one too, but it was just a biographical statement of fact, so he had to say yes. After that, no answers.

Everyone has to use this opportunity to remind each other that taking the 5th doesn’t necessarily imply guilt. But also Steve Penny. Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 6, 2018

Things Are Happening – June 1, 2018

A. June 5th is the day

On June 5th at 3:00 ET, we will finally see Steve Penny, Lou Anna Simon, and Rhonda Faehn testify in front of the Senate, where…spoiler alert…they might even be forced to answer questions about their actions.

We have a few.

I’m particularly interested to see Bad Penny try to account for why he told everyone they had to shut up about the investigation—and whether he actually has any receipts to show that he was instructed by the FBI to keep everything secret, as USAG has always claimed.

Also please ask him whether there are any other secret NDAs that “don’t exist wink wink.” And a lot about Fran. And though it may not be the focus of the subcommittee, while you have him here, if you want to ask him about his involvement in the Olympic team selection in 2016, that would be cool too. Grill him like a porterhouse.

Sadly, this particular subcommittee is comprised of some of our nation’s more insufferable senators, who may or may not just be sentient melted thumbs in suits. So while we can dream that it will be less nauseating than the House hearing, don’t hold your breath. Still, since all three who are testifying are no longer in their positions, hopefully there will be less BSing about “moving forward we plan at some point to look into blah blah blah.”

Unfortunately, you’ll notice that Martha will not be testifying despite originally being on the list and refusing to appear, just like Steve Penny. While the Senate subpoenaed Penny and Lou Anna Simon to appear, it has agreed to accept written answers to questions from Martha, denying us the opportunity to see Martha try to Karolyi-Method the Senate. A real shame. We’ll need to get her under oath at some point, certainly. We have 40 years of questions built up. Let’s begin with Emilia Eberle…

I think the senators might be scared of Martha, and rightfully so. It would take Martha exactly one second to zero in on all that jealousy and resentment and pit them against each other through shame and eating disorders and inferiority complexes. By the end of the hearing, she would have organized a presidential selection camp for 2020 at the ranch and had them all fighting to be asked to attend.

So let’s make this a monthly thing. Next month can be Martha, Ron Galimore and Fran.

Now, Rhonda. Unlike Penny and Simon, Rhonda agreed to attend and did not have to be subpoenaed. Depending on how the hearing goes, Rhonda’s presence may be overshadowed by Penny and Simon, since they’re both so aggressively terrible that they each need several weeks of individual hearings to even begin scratching the surface, but I’m fascinated to hear Rhonda answer questions about her role in this, starting with “So…like…what are you all about?” What was the deal with you? Rhonda has a lot of timeline and responsibility questions to answer, and now that she’s out at USAG, we’ll see what she has to say. Sitting right next to Steve Penny.

B. Osijek and Koper

It’s that time of year again, when all the event specialists from mid-range countries gather in European cities you pretend you’ve heard of to compete in the World Challenge Cups (event-only world cups).

Osijek

Last weekend, we were re-introduced to the Diana Varinska Show. Varinska arrived in Osijek to perform in a way that was…not even a little Ukrainian at all. She won three gold medals, you guys! Bars was the most expected of Varinska’s three titles because she had a massive D advantage over the rest of the field, but staying solid enough on beam to win and showing a very respectable 5.4 D on floor were perhaps even more significant feats. Those wins show Varinska to be internationally competitive as an all-around gymnast in a way we haven’t seen from a Ukrainian in almost a decade. Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 1, 2018

Things Are Happening – May 24, 2018

A. KP Duty

Blehhhh. Where do I start? Kerry Perry and other associated NGB heads and USOC and SafeSport leaders went in front of the House E&C Committee this week to do……nothing? Basically?

If you hate yourself, you can watch the entirety of the hearing here.

KP’s performance (no Oscars here…) was particularly irritating in that her opening statement was largely cribbed from her previous apology video—you didn’t view this hearing as important enough to take the time to construct new sentences?—and in her cynical and disingenuous “INSERT EMPATHY HERE” moments intended to portray herself as an emotionally connected figure while distracting from the fact that she was providing no information and avoiding questions entirely.

It was all “I wake up every morning and am sickened…” No. Don’t care. Answer the question. Were you asked about your morning routine, or were you asked about something relevant? Oh, it was something relevant? Then talk about that.

“I think about this every day…” Oh, did you want a standing ovation? I think about this every day too. Doesn’t make me a qualified CEO. Do better.

Someone gave KP the terrible advice that it was most important for her to seem empathetic and bleehhhhhhh (while she has been criticized for not showing that she cares, caring is shown through specific personal actions, not disconnected, empty words in front of Congress). Hers was the wrong approach. To regain our trust that she might actually do something useful, KP needed to cut the figure of an angry, urgent, specific leader—not a mushy, desultory, paper-pushing apologist.

When it came to future actions or progress, all we heard were the most basic, glossed-over, shallow promises. Like this “Athlete Task Force.” What even is that? Who’s on it? How were these people chosen? What are they empowered (AHHHHHHHH) to do? Has it happened yet? When is it happening? You can’t just put words together and count them as accomplishments; you have to explain what they are. Also, that task force sounds like nothing. If that’s the kind of thing you’re hanging your hat on, I’m not optimistic.

KP was also quite ready to claim credit for proactively closing the ranch because she cares so much. Which took a tweet from Simone and public outcry to force her into doing. Continue reading Things Are Happening – May 24, 2018

Things Are Happening – May 18, 2018

A. Rhonda

Root-dee-doo. Another ho-hum day in USAG land. Nothing to report here.

Or, except, no, it’s all on fire again. Last night, word came on Marz Frazier’s twitter (you know, where information comes from in an organization where everything’s going fine and the lines of communication are A-OK…) that Kerry Perry asked Rhonda Faehn to resign from her position as senior vice president. Today, Kerry Perry announced that Rhonda is out (not that Rhonda resigned as requested), while saying super transparent things like, “This is a personnel matter that we will not discuss in detail.”

And she only used empowered twice. Per sentence.

So a couple things with that. Maybe more than a couple.

1) Whether or not you agree with the public majority of current national team members who say they want Rhonda to stay (honestly both camps have valid arguments here), it’s seriously a problem when those inside the national team feel so ignored, misunderstood, and shut off from the seats of power that they have to turn to social media to get the organization’s attention. While it’s great if gymnasts actually feel they can express personal thoughts on social media and scream them from the rooftops nowadays, they shouldn’t have to.

It’s not a sign of good leadership. Decisions made, no matter how unpopular, need to be communicated, explained, and justified to those in the organization whom they affect the most. If people are running to social media in search of public justice, you aren’t doing your job and are responsible for any ensuing controversy. You made this happen.

And now we’ve learned this.

“WE WANT YOU TO HAVE A VOICE BUT YOUR VOICE IS WRONG GET RID OF IT.”

The good guys team doesn’t have to be a completely united front with one opinion. And conflicting goals (“I WANT TO COMPETE,” “I WANT JUSTICE”), even within the good guys team, are going to cause friction and upset and misplaced blame all around. That’s natural and, while certainly not ideal, fairly inevitable. It doesn’t mean thoughts need to be immediately removed if not part of “WHAT WE THINK.” Continue reading Things Are Happening – May 18, 2018

Things Are Happening – May 8, 2018

I’m back with a special Tuesday edition of TAH to catch up on all the action I’ve missed.

A. Alabama

Shortly following nationals this year, Alabama head coach Dana Duckworth fired assistant coach and pants enthusiast Bryan Raschilla. It was initially a fairly surprising development because they seemed to have a good thing going, but the results absolutely have not been there, culminating in missing Super Six this year for the first time since 2007.

In the gymnastics community, the reaction to Dana’s head coach tenure has been quite enthusiastic, but those who are not intimately connected with the sport don’t see the vital importance of Super Six capelets, coaching beam with the chin-elevation of a theatrical grand dame, and saying, “You are beautiful, you are lovely, go out there and enjoy this.”

I mean…

I rest my case.

Anyway, over the past few months, the Alabama pressure on Dana has been mounting for not being able to match the championship pedigree of the Sarah years thus far. Some of that is selective rose-colored memory—Alabama had occasional streaks of 6th-8th finishes under Sarah too, in a less deep national environment—but Sarah also had championships to lean back on, which Dana does not have. Alabama has fallen a step behind Florida and LSU, instead of being on par with them, and is now facing pressure from Georgia again if nationals was any indication. Continue reading Things Are Happening – May 8, 2018