Category Archives: Stuff and Nonsense

Things Are Happening – November 9, 2021

A. FIG Elections

In gymnastics administration news that’s hard to get worked up about, Watanabe Morinari has been reelected as president of the FIG by a margin of 81-47 over his challenger, president of European Gymnastics Farid Gayibov. By the standard of international sports cabals, this counts as significant because of its tight margin. The ballots at these things usually look more like:


So, how do we feel about this? It’s hard to say. Gayibov’s proposal did feature some worthwhile commentary on improving the format of the FIG’s annual competition series—instead of the largely unwieldy and pointless parade of challenge cups and apparatus cups and world cups that…what do they even mean and what’s the difference?—aiming to give it more of a thesis statement and make it more TV friendly. At the same time, Gayibov is also part of the brain trust behind SmartScoring, the failure that gave us a streaming blackout for European Championships this year. Because who could have predicted increased interest for an Olympic qualifier during an Olympic year?

Watanabe, meanwhile, got in trouble for Japanese embassies lobbying gymnastics federations on his behalf, which is kind of a no-no.

But I largely have a 6th-grade-class-president feeling about the whole thing.

In other election news, Ali Al-Hitmi won his election and replaced Vassiliy Titov as an FIG vice president. Nellie Kim, meanwhile, was reelected as a vice president but had to go to a second ballot for it to happen, so someone’s getting tased in the spleen. Li Li Leung was elected to the executive committee in dominant fashion. The previous US representative on the executive committee was Ron Galimore, so…a step up?

B. Convoluted Swiss Nonsense

The week of Convoluted Swiss Nonsense began with the Arthur Gander Memorial, a some-routines competition dominated on the women’s side by Angelina Melnikova, who elected to compete vault, bars, and floor (wisely assuming that she had long since used up her quota of beam hits for 2021). Melnikova recorded the highest score of the competition on all her events. Tais Boura of France managed a very compelling 13+ score on beam to take the silver, and Ciena Alipio finished third with competitive scores on vault and beam but just an 11.700 on bars, which put her behind Boura. Giorgia Villa competed only bars and beam, instead of the three events everyone else did.

In the men’s division, the Autumn of Moldauer continued. Following his near-medal AA performance from worlds, he competed floor, horse, vault, and pbars at Arthur Gander to take the gold medal, finishing ahead of the likes of Nagornyy, Kovtun, and Onder. The scores were, you know, a little “15s for everyone!” but the placement bodes very well for his increased competitiveness mission in the current quad. The pbars upgrades are working very well for him thus far.

The team of Melnikova/Nagornyy also fully dominated the mixed pairs competition at the Swiss Cup, winning the first round by over 3 points, winning their semifinal over Italy by nearly 2 points, and winning the final over Ukraine by more than 2 points. Nagornyy opened the door for Ukraine in that final with a miss on pbars, giving Kovtun a big lead for the men’s routines, but Hubareva’s 11.250 on bars was easily defeated by Melnikova’s 14.550 to give Russia the win. Alice D’Amato replaced Giorgia Villa on the roster and helped Italy to a bronze medal.

As for the US, Olivia Greaves injured her knee in training and had to withdraw from the competition. Yul Moldauer did still compete a first-round routine, but as there was no women’s score to add to it, the US was immediately eliminated along with another surprise elimination from Team Germany, which had a 9.800 bars disaster from Kim Bui and finished 2nd-to-last.

C. What’s Next?

The cancellation of the Voronin Cup takes one of the larger events off the remaining elite calendar, but there’s still some fun stuff.

Elite Gym Massilia in Marseilles returns to the schedule this weekend, with the Open division beginning at 9am on Friday, the Masters division (the main event) at 4:30pm on Saturday, and event finals at 3:00pm on Sunday. No roster has been released yet, but we do know the event is going to be streamed on the Vogoscope App if you buy a virtual ticket. [Update: Just downloaded the app to check it out, and the virtual ticket for the Masters division alone is $14.99. I was like, “Psssh, I could sleep for free.”]

The Gymnova Cup in Belgium runs Saturday and Sunday, with the junior AA on Saturday at 1:30pm, the senior AA at 5:30pm, and event finals on Sunday at 2:00pm. Clubs from Belgium, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, and Finland among others are slated to attend. The website does have an alleged link for streaming, it just doesn’t go anywhere yet.

This weekend also brings us the Northern European Championships, where teams from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden (MAG only), Isle of Man, Faroe Islands, and Jersey will compete in Cardiff. The subdivisions are Saturday at 10:40am and 3:50pm local time, with event finals on Sunday starting a 9.35am. It’s an important competition for those teams that don’t normally get to compete as independent entities but are preparing for next year’s Commonwealth Games. I haven’t seen any information about streaming yet, though.

Starting Monday, the junior US women will be at a national team selection camp for the Junior Pan American Games in Colombia, which has gymnastics running from November 26-29.

In NCAA news, the signing period for athletes joining college teams for the 2023 competition season begins tomorrow, and I’ll put up the usual page to keep track of it all.

Things Are Happening – November 2, 2021

A. Convoluted Swiss Nonsense

Even though we’ve entered the post-Olympics, post-worlds stupor, there’s actually still a fair amount of gymnastics happening over the next couple months what with the Voronin Cup and the junior Pan American Games and the usual competitions in France and Belgium. This week is marked by the annual Convoluted Swiss Nonsense meets, with the Arthur Gander Memorial on the 3rd and the Swiss Cup on the 7th.

For the uninitiated, these meets welcome mixed pair teams from around the world to compete select apparatuses in various rounds to try to crown a winner. At the Arthur Gander, the men and women compete individually. In the first round, the women select two events to compete and the men select three events, with the top 6 gymnasts in each division advancing to the final round. In the final round, they must compete an additional routine (not one of the apparatuses they already competed) to determine the overall winner. At least, that’s the usual format. Last time around, they all just competed all their intended routines on their chosen events at the same time. Whatever.

The Swiss Cup, meanwhile, is like, “That’s a dumb format, get a load of this multi-paragraph system.” At the Swiss Cup, the 10 mixed pairs compete as teams instead of individually. In the first round, everyone competes a single routine, and the two weakest teams are eliminated. In the next round, everyone on the remaining 8 teams competes another routine on a different apparatus. The scores from each of the first two rounds are combined, and the top 4 teams then advance to the semifinal bracket.

In the semifinals, the teams go head-to-head with everyone competing a routine on a third different event. For this round, all the scores are wiped, so only the semifinal results decide which teams advance to the final. In the final, the athletes on the two remaining teams compete a fourth routine, but this time, they are allowed to repeat an apparatus that they already competed, and only the final-round scores decide the winner. 

The key strategic consideration at the Swiss Cup is what event to save for the semifinals. You need to score well enough on your first two events combined to make sure you’re in the top 4, but then you also have to save a good enough event for the semifinals to get you into the final on that score alone. So, needless to say, this is weird and pointless and I love it.

The team of Melnikova/Nagornyy (because Melnikova doesn’t need a break or anything) will headline each event, with Giorgia Villa, Ilia Kovtun, Yul Moldauer, and Ahmet Onder also gracing us with their presence at both. Kim Bui will compete at the Swiss Cup, and Moldauer will be joined by Ciena Alipio at Arthur Gander and Olivia Greaves at the Swiss Cup.

The Swiss Cup will be broadcast on SRF Zwei starting at 12:45 CET on the 7th if you have a VPN set to Switzerland.

B. NCAA is coming

The season (I know it’s a college sports thing just to call it “season” instead of “the season,” but kill me please) starts in about two months, which counts as soon and means preview season is upon us. Deal with it.

We’re still waiting on some schedule stragglers, like Oklahoma cough cough cough, but enough teams have released their slates that I have made the 2022 master schedule and added it to the menu bar at the top. Here’s a quick look at the highlights, starting with opening day on Wednesday, January 5th and ending with the national championship on April 16th:

2022 NCAA Schedule Abridged

Wednesday, January 5
9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT Kentucky @ Arizona State
Thursday, January 6
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT Georgia @ Michigan
Friday, January 7
9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT BEST OF UTAH: Utah, BYU, Southern Utah, Utah State
Saturday, January 8
9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT COLLEGIATE CHALLENGE: Cal, UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon State, Arizona, Washington
Sunday, January 9
TBD Alabama @ Oklahoma
Friday, January 14
9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT Oklahoma @ Utah
Saturday, January 15
4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT Arizona State @ Michigan
Sunday, January 16
3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT Alabama @ Florida
5:00pm ET/2:00pm PT Stanford @ Cal
Monday, January 17
3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT UCLA @ Minnesota
Friday, January 21
6:00pm ET/3:00pm PT Florida @ Georgia
9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT Arizona State @ Utah
Monday, January 24
8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT Michigan @ Minnesota
Friday, January 28
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT LSU @ Georgia
8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT Arkansas @ Florida
TBD Alabama @ Auburn
Sunday, January 30
TBD Denver @ Oklahoma
Friday, February 4
10:00pm ET/7:00pm PT Utah @ UCLA
10:00pm ET/7:00pm PT Cal @ Stanford
Saturday, February 5
4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT Auburn @ LSU
Friday, February 11
6:00pm ET/3:00pm PT LSU @ Florida
TBD Georgia @ Alabama
Saturday, February 12
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT Utah @ Cal
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT Arizona State @ Arizona
Friday, February 18
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT BIG FIVE: Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio State, Maryland
8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT Oregon State @ Utah
9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT Alabama @ LSU
Saturday, February 19
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT BIG FIVE: Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan State, Rutgers, Penn State
8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT METROPLEX: Oklahoma, Denver, Washington, Stanford
Sunday. February 20
5:00pm ET/2:00pm PT UCLA @ Arizona State
Friday, February 25
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT Oklahoma @ Florida
TBD Georgia @ Arkansas
Saturday, February 26
3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT Michigan @ Nebraska
Sunday, February 27
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT NC State, Temple @ George Washington
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT Cal @ Arizona State
Friday, March 4
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT Iowa @ Iowa State
9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT Michigan @ Oklahoma
9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT Minnesota @ Utah
TBD Arkansas @ Alabama
Sunday, March 6
2:00pm ET/11:00am PT Elevate the Stage: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Auburn
3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT Cal @ UCLA
Friday, March 11
8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT Utah @ LSU
9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT Oklahoma, Boise State @ Arizona State
Saturday, March 12
4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT Auburn, West Virginia @ Michigan
Sunday, March 13
3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT Iowa @ Cal
4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT Arkansas, Oregon State, Nebraska @ Denver
Saturday, March 19
All Day Conference Championships
Wednesday, March 30
All Day Regional Play-Ins
Thursday, March 31
All Day Regional Semifinals
Saturday, April 2
All Day Regional Finals
Thursday, April 14
TBD National Semifinal #1
TBD National Semifinal #2
Saturday, April 16
TBD National Team Final

Things Are Happening – October 4th, 2021

A. Worlds

I put together a worlds headquarters here with all the info we have so far. It’s not a lot, mostly just the schedule and the 40% of rosters that have been announced, but I’ll add more when it exists. If it exists. We may need to remind the FIG that there’s a world championship in less than two weeks.

In team news, the German women’s program announced that only Pauline Schäfer will be attending worlds despite five gymnasts being in the mix for what the DTB reported would be four spots at worlds as recently as last Wednesday. It’s part of an unsatisfying trend for this weird old post-Olympics world championship where countries are sending only a single veteran who just went to the Olympics while declining their remaining spots. Those already-registered spots could have been used as a first major competition for the next tier of athletes, those who will presumably be asked to play a role in team qualification this quad. I mean, you can’t just ask Seitz to do everything forever, Germany.

B. Competitions

Speaking of sending only one athlete, Brazil’s lone WAG representative for worlds, Rebeca Andrade, unsurprisingly dominated the competition at nationals over the weekend.

She won the all-around by more than five points and then chilled on the couch for event finals to let some other people get some medals. Lorrane Oliveira took 2nd in the all-around and Christal Bezerra took 3rd, definitely not people you would want at worlds or anything. In comeback news, Jade Barbosa competed a couple routines and won EF silvers on bars and beam, while Daniele Hypolito also made her triumphant return to competition, 22 years after her first world championships.

C. Retirements and Opposite

Giulia Steingruber announced her retirement this week. In a senior elite career spanning 11 years, Steingruber competed at 6 world championships and 3 Olympics, winning an Olympic bronze in Rio. Most recently, she captured her 4th European vault title this April in Basel, 8 years after her first Euro gold. In Tokyo, Steingruber came just .050 shy of making another Olympic vault final.

Meanwhile, the Oksana Who Cried Retirement may have just broken her own land-speed record for un-retiring. Chusovitina announced this week that she will return to training to prepare for the 2022 Asian Games after previously emotionally retiring following her qualification vaults at the Olympics. You knew she would. I love how before the Olympics she was all, “You idiots, how dare you say I retire all the time, I’ve never ever tried to retire ever before, but this time it’s super for real,” and exactly one second later she’s like,

D. US Women’s Selection

Addison Fatta has withdrawn from the US worlds selection camp citing stress fractures. This brings the expected roster down to 9 athletes: Alipio, Blakely, DiCello, Drayton, Frazier, Greaves, McClain, Siegfeldt, and Wong. But we shall see.

Selection competition starts on Friday with the all-around, followed by each athlete doing two events on Saturday. We don’t have exact times yet. FLO sent an email advertising their coverage of the event, so, er, that. I’ll live blog it.

E. NCAA News

In a surprising move, Doctor Coach Rene Lyst has been hired by DIII Brockport as its new head coach. This will be her first college coaching position since she was fired by Arizona State in 2016 after 1.5 seasons, when she was put on HR-related administrative leave halfway through her second season. Sadly, it appears that drcoachlyst dot com is no longer a working website. A real shame for us all.

Things Are Happening – September 28, 2021

A. Chinese National Games

The Chinese National Games concluded over the weekend, with prospective worlds team member Wei Xiaoyuan taking the all-around title in a very tight race, just ahead of Ou Yushan and Luo Rui in 2nd and 3rd. Both Wei and Luo are on China’s nominative worlds team and should only have secured their positions with their performances at this competition, especially with so many of the other top athletes intending to retire after this meet. Meanwhile, Olympians Lu Yufei and Zhang Jin took 4th and 5th place, while Tang Xijing had a rough one with multiple misses, finishing in 13th.

In the women’s event finals, vault was a terror, with Yu Linmin winning the title despite doing everything except fall on her Cheng.

Deng Yalan nearly had it after a strong DTT, but a fall on her rudi took her down to second, and Qi Qi finished third with simpler, cleaner vaults.

On bars, Fan Yilin took another title at what is presumed to be her farewell competition, especially given her emotional reaction upon finishing her routine. Lu Yufei won silver, while bronze proved quite controversial with Wei Xiaoyuan taking the medal despite her coach clearly touching her as she tried to catch her Van Leeuwen, a major deduction that was not reflected in the final score.

The beam final brought a huge surprise, as a packed field including Guan Chenchen, Ou Yushan, Li Shijia, and Lu Yufei was defeated by new senior Zhou Yaqin, who achieved the impossible—getting her connections—to sneak into the gold position by a whisker ahead of Ou Yushan in second and junior Qiu Qiyuan in 3rd. Ou Yushan came back in the next final to get her gold medal with an Olympic-redemption floor routine, placing ahead of Zou Tong and He Licheng. Qi Qi and Wei Xiaoyuan both missed in the floor final.

In the men’s competition, Xiao Ruoteng said, “I haven’t been replaced YET,” beating Zhang Boheng by less than a tenth to take the all-around title. Sun Wei ended up in third, and worlds nominee Shi Cong finished 4th with 14s on every apparatus. Those who have been named to the prospective worlds team as event-specific contenders all confirmed their statuses, with Weng Hao winning pommel horse, Huang Mingqi winning vault, Lan Xingyu scoring 15.100 and finishing 2nd on rings behind the Olympic champion Liu, and Hu Xuwei winning high bar.

B. Worlds News

As of yesterday, the FIG has reopened the nominative registration process for worlds, with the current window now closing on October 4th. So I would guess we won’t get anything comprehensive in the roster department until then.

In terms of information we do have, the work plan has confirmed that there will be an event final touch warmup at worlds this year. The FIG approved the change earlier this month, but it was unclear at that point when it would go into effect. It’s now. In finals, the first four athletes will now get a touch warmup and compete, and then the second group of finalists will get their touch warmup.

C. Worlds Teams

It’s Tuesday, so Claudia Fragapane is injured again and has had to withdraw from the British team for worlds. No replacement has yet been named to join Becky Downie, Georgia-Mae Fenton, and Ruby Stacey on the squad. Taeja James is the only other gymnast who competed at the worlds trial.

Germany will be holding its second women’s trial for worlds on October 2nd. Pauline Schäfer, the lone Olympian who is back and trying for the team, competed only beam at the first trial and scored 13.250. The others going for worlds are Aiyu Zhu, Lona Häcker, Emma Malewski, and Lea Quass. Quass won the all-around at the first trial, though no one broke 50.

Meanwhile, the woe of how early the FIG conducts the draw for worlds has reared its ugly head again. Given Panama withdrawing and both Brazil and Ireland electing to send only one WAG athlete, subdivision 9 has already been reduced to just six gymnasts: the Mexico team, Rebeca Andrade, and Emma Slevin. Andrade and Slevin will both have rotation groups all to themselves. And then the FIG is like, “We need to reduce the length of the meet. But how?!?!?!” I have an idea…

D. US Women’s Camp

The US women held a pre-worlds-this-isn’t-a-selection-camp camp last week with 9 seniors in attendance: Ciena Alipio, Skye Blakely, Kayla DiCello, Amari Drayton, Addison Fatta, eMjae Frazier, Olivia Greaves, Ava Siegfeldt, and Leanne Wong. Presumably this will be the group trying for worlds at the actual selection camp on October 8th and 9th, though Konnor McClain has also expressed the intent to go for it.

As we’ve learned from the everything, it’s a fool’s game to try to map pre-Olympic level onto the period post-Olympics because we don’t know what the training status has been, but you would imagine DiCello and Wong will be the frontrunners for the team, given normalcy. Blakely and McClain should be in the mix as well given their scoring potential on beam, but with only three gymnasts able to do each event at worlds, that could get a little tricky. There’s no one in this group you’d take for a vault final and, outside the top all-arounders, there’s not a lot of scoring potential to be expected on floor, especially if they paid attention to what happened at the Olympics. (Ron Howard: “They didn’t”). So ideally you’d want to stack the team with beamers, yet the format doesn’t really allow it. That’s why, theoretically, Olivia Greaves’ ability on bars would fit very well onto a squad of four here, but she’s a big wildcard because we don’t know her level at this point.

Now, throw out everything I said in the previous paragraph because it’s painfully likely that they’re just going to take the top four all-arounders from camp regardless of what makes sense. You know there’s going to be some garbage like naming Skye Blakely to the team and then not having her do beam at worlds because there aren’t enough beam spots and she finished fourth all-around at camp or something. You know it. This is the confidence I have in the US women’s national team program at this point.

Anyway, by the actual selection procedures, only the all-around winner from day 1 of camp automatically gets a spot, and the rest of the team is up to the selection committee.