Category Archives: World Championships

Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Broke the Romania

Before we get to the nonsense, the scoresheets for day 2 of WAG action.

And now, brace yourselves, because Romania.

DAY 1:
-Obviously, Romania’s performance is the big talking point because it was the worst thing ever to happen in the history of time. It was like the black death, but with more poor hip circles. I think we all felt it would be a mess going in (I may have used the words “garbage fire”), but I still firmly believed that Iordache would be able to pull them through to the TF anyway. I was wrong. Romania currently sits in 8th after the first day, and will drop pretty deep into the test event field when it’s all over since there are legitimately six more teams with a chance to pass them yet to perform. Something needs to be done. We can’t let Romania go the way of Ukraine. Nadia needs to throw some Nadia money at the problem, like now.

-It started out not completely disastrous, just sort of meh. Floor was OK, no major errors, just uninspiring (and I thought a little harshly scored). Vault was perfectly fine. And then bars was even worse than last year. Somehow. Jurca hit, and then the covered wagon fell into the gully, and everyone drowned while getting dysentery and losing all the cattle and children. It was very “How many times, Alyssa?” How many times, Romania? Even beam was wobbly and emotionally scarring, featuring yet another fall from Iordache. The rest of the world is too good right now for Romania to have one event be that weak. This will continue to happen, though the Romanians will still be a favorite to get out of the test event. They just need to cut up some old mats and wrap them around Ponor, resurrect Izbasa, commission Interpol to find Ana Porgras, and hurl Nadia into a time machine. It’ll be fine.
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2015 US World Championship Team

You might have heard, but some big, earth-rattling news came out today: Norah Flatley has announced for UCLA.

I can’t think of anything else that happened.

I guess there was the other tiny matter of the US World Championship team. We’ll have to muster the energy to distract ourselves from National Norah Flatley Day to think about that for a moment. In what would certainly have been a surprise earlier in the summer and would have been a pretty big surprise after nationals as well, the team is Biles, Raisman, Nichols, Douglas, Kocian, Dowell, and Skinner, with the alternate to be named as late as humanly possible. It comes as less of a surprise now after the withdrawal of Ross, the apparent natural-disaster implosion of Key, and the Spoiler Alert Roster from the end of September that told us this was the way things were leaning, though I’m still scheduling time for a sad-nap about Alyssa Baumann.

Unlike normal, it isn’t immediately clear which gymnast will be the alternate in this group, but it looks likely to be Dowell or Skinner, with Skinner making the most sense to me. I won’t entertain the blasphemy that it might be Nichols. I won’t. Skinner is usable on vault and floor, but she wasn’t top three on those events at nationals, which kept her out of all the highest-scoring team permutations as she came in behind Raisman’s Junkanar on vault and variously behind Douglas and Nichols on floor. We can hope Raisman’s Junkanar has become slightly less junky in the intervening months. Floor will be the closest battle on this team through training, and I’m sure that third TF spot won’t be decided until after qualifications.

At the same time, Dowell also didn’t make a mark on the highest-scoring team permutations at nationals either because, even on her one bars hit during the summer competition season, she scored the same as Biles and wasn’t in the top 5 on the day. The main lesson, once again, is that camp matters and Nationals…not so much. Honestly, this is as US team that probably won’t need its alternate even if an injury occurs. There will be strong, likely backups already in the 6. 

It’s a huge accomplishment for Dowell even to make the seven, a prospect I thought was iffy when she announced she was deferring (which I still question because even with making this team, the Olympics remain a very tough ask), but it ended up being a perfect confluence of events for her with Locklear not able to get her difficulty back and Kyla pulling out. Suddenly, a bars door was open and she walked right through it.

As for Bailie Key, has anyone ever gone from pre-summer lock to not-even-the-alternate so quickly without an injury? I do have to say, it was always work to try to shoehorn her into teams with a “maybe she can do bars?” argument. What became apparent at Nationals is that she isn’t necessary to the team on any event, and if consistency has become a problem, that seals it. If she’s going to have any hope for 2016 at all (dreams that were pretty much just decapitated), she needs an Amanar and they need to go back to the drawing board with that beam routine. To me, it’s a tear down. Start from scratch. She was a beam star as a junior, and she should be a top three beamer for this team right now. The fact that she isn’t close to that is a problem.

Beam. I’m hoping this roster indicates that Gabby Douglas is doing another one of her late-season beam renaissances because otherwise this team is looking a little light on beam. Maybe not light, but questionable compared to its potential score. Baumann seemed to have a chance at a beam spot because she’s capable of gaining a solid five tenths over the scores Douglas, Nichols, and Kocian were getting at nationals. To see her not among the seven tells me that a third high-14s beam score must have emerged during the camps to make any Baumann benefit negligible. Or Martha just really likes MyKayla Skinner’s company. 

If Skinner is indeed the alternate, the conversation about who goes on which events in qualification gets very interesting. Especially for Aly “I’m coming back because of unfinished business in the AA” Raisman. Watch that space in the coming weeks. It’ll be fun. Also, the US competes in qualification at a totally reasonable time for us this year. Mid-late morning (depending on where you are)! On a Saturday! What is this exciting witchcraft? 

Worlds Final Thoughts

The World Championships are over for another year. Sigh. Now we have to return to normal sleep schedules of more than 2.5 hours per night. Like losers. On the plus side, this means it’s officially time to start thinking about the NCAA season again. I’ll be starting up the freshman profiles again in the coming weeks. We’ve got some good ones. But first, a few final thoughts about Worlds, including multiple mentions of Cheng Fei. Because I need to.

1) My theory that the best things about gymnastics competitions never have anything to do with actual gymnastics continues to hold up.

2) You should never stop watching this video. Ever. The bee was my third-favorite gymnast at these championships. Such poise. Such grace. It knows how to hit a cue.

3) This year is the most I’ve ever watched of a World Championships. So many sessions. And I was bleary-eyed for all of them. Scott Bregman and USA Gymnastics are nailing this whole coverage thing. Live coverage of Russia’s qualification session? Sure. Because heaven.

4) Simone Biles has 9 Worlds medals. 9. She basically just has to make the team next year to set the US record. Technically, I would say she’s tied for the record already. As much as I adore Alicia Sacramone, she wasn’t even in the same country as the team competing when she got her 10th, so it doesn’t count.

5) Only one member of the 2010 US team ended up making the Olympic team (Aly Raisman), and to be honest, I wouldn’t be all that shocked if it happened again for the 2014 team.

6) Competitive women’s AA final! Until things started to take shape a few weeks before Worlds, I don’t think many people thought it would be this competitive, but combine a slightly shaky Biles with a hitting Iordache and we had a real competition. An interesting one. For four whole rotations. We haven’t had a legitimate, international, multi-year rivalry in a long time, and I would love if Biles and Iordache got that going for the next few. With a Mustafina thrown in for luck.

7) Hopefully this competitiveness will put to rest the silly idea that Simone running the table in the AA this quad and winning all the competitions through the Olympics is inevitable. It’s not inevitable. There are challenges both in the US and outside the US.

8) Kyla Ross. Keeping it simple. Don’t fall, win medal. Repeat.

9) The Chinese women are hard to watch on floor right now. Dance of the Splintering Stick Figures. We need some Cheng Fei action out there. Stat.

10) Speaking of Cheng Fei, is the ragged Cheng the new hip thing on vault? At least it’s a different entry. I expect to see a number of Sosnitskaya Chengs at Worlds next year. It’ll be a thing.

11) Huang Huidan should have won bars.

12) But that’s really the only individual gold medal result I’m feeling worked-up about, which is pretty good. I think you can argue that Hong Un Jong was just another member of the broke-ass Cheng club and that she wasn’t adequately penalized for her landing on that vault, but the difficulty deficit was always going to be hard for Biles to make up, even with superior execution.

13) Also Beckie Downie didn’t medal on bars, so the final is invalid.

14) If you don’t fulfill all five composition requirements in your routine, as you try to land your dismount, the mat should automatically retract revealing a shark tank below.

15) These acro series on beam. I love originality and creativity and people not doing the easy, expected thing as much as the next person, but you have to be smart about it. I was very disappointed that Mustafina wasn’t able to muster some kind of acro series in EFs, especially because she has so many routine options to choose from and is usually good at routine improvisation.

16) That said, Mustafina still got the bronze on beam. HA! Only Aliya could miss a CR and still win a medal. Many are up in arms about this. I’m not.

17) Mustafina’s reaction to her floor bronze was priceless. Such shock and joy. Oh sorry, I meant COLD COMMIE DIVA. I forgot my narrative for a second. How silly of me. Many are up in arms about this one as well, and I’m still not, even if this is the weakest floor routine she has ever had. She still carries the hell out of it. Do I have a Zamarripa-esque blind spot where Mustafina is concerned? Maybe. I also don’t care. 

18) For those of us who focus on women’s gymnastics, the joke is that we can’t stand watching pommel horse, but I enjoy it (at least from people not in the “happy to get a 12.000 category,” but that’s true of every event). I find it visually soothing, like watching a screen saver, especially from people who make it look easy like Berki.

19) Speaking of Berki, let’s hear it for the talls! While our Dear Wonderful Shatilov didn’t make floor finals (mostly because he is currently sporting unauthorized facial hair), Berki and Moznik both got medals. I think those two might legitimately come up to my chin, which is an accomplishment. We’d actually look like part of the same species. 

20) So yes for pommel horse, but less yes for rings. That’s my 6th place men’s event. Although the “sup y’all” chin lift still makes me laugh every single time, so that’s something. In breaking news, parallel bars has moved to the top spot on my men’s event rankings. There is little more satisfying in the world than a perfect handstand on pbars.

21) Ryohei Kato looks exactly like a porcelain doll. I imagine that immediately after a competition ends, he goes all Toy Story and flops to the ground before being put back up on an old lady’s shelf.

22) Who is in charge of selecting the between-rotations music at Worlds? I really hope there’s a committee about it and they take it super seriously. With graphs and flow charts.

23) The World Championships of Hilarious Pronunciations finished on a high. During the men’s hbar medal ceremony, the PA guy introduced the gold medalist “Epic Zonderland.” Fitting.