Reese’s Cup 1996 – A GIFcap

1996 Reese’s International Gymnastics Cup


Hey, what does this dude have against Viktoria Karpenko?

Ahhhhhhhh kill it. KILL IT.

“Is my wig gonna come off?” – Andrea Bertha Joyce

Live look at Russian podium training
Continue reading Reese’s Cup 1996 – A GIFcap


Things Are Happening – September 26, 2018

A. This week

Your two assignments for the week are the Paris Challenge Cup and the German Championships.

The format for the Paris Challenge Cup is a little different, with just two days of competition—qualification on Saturday (beginning 2:00pm local) and the finals on Sunday (beginning 1:30pm local).

We’re expecting a high-quality field for this one. France (of course), Spain, Hungary, and Ukraine are sending most of their top athletes. Japan and Romania are also sending big MAG contingents, Chuso and the usuals will be there, and we’re expecting both Downies to compete for Great Britain. Caveat: The roster hasn’t been updated in exactly forever and lists Becky Downie as doing vault, so……take it with a grain of……ignore it. SO EXCITED FOR BECKY DOWNIE’S TWO VAULTS THAT EXIST.

Elsewhere, there’s still much to decide in the realm of the German worlds teams, so this weekend’s national championship will be telling. On the women’s side, Sophie Scheder is on the roster to return after missing both Euros and the most recent trial in Stuttgart, and Elisabeth Seitz is looking to continue her return from injury after showing solid progress at the trial. Ideally, your German team is probably Seitz, Schäfer, Scheder, Bui, and Voss (which has been true since Tabea Alt got injured) but we need to see where Scheder and Seitz are and if they’re up to worlds level right now.

That team would be pretty weak on beam besides Schäfer, so there’s still an opportunity for a Timm or Kröll or Grießer to get in if Seitz or Scheder aren’t up to worlds level yet. All-around competition is on Saturday (1:30pm for the women, 6:00pm for the men), with event finals on Sunday beginning at 12:00pm. All times local.

B. Last weekend

The event world cups got back underway in Szombathely last weekend, and the host nation will be quite pleased with its performance on the women’s side with Dorina Böczögö taking the floor title and the returned Zsofia Kovacs taking the beam title. Kovacs missed Euros with injury, but if this meet is any indication, she’s on track for worlds. The Hungarian women outperformed expectations at Euros to make the team final even without their best gymnast, so they’ll be quite optimistic for worlds chances with her. I’d say a top-12 finish is a tough ask but not completely out of the realm of possibilities as a team goal. Top 15 is definitely doable. Continue reading Things Are Happening – September 26, 2018

US Men – World Championship Selection

The second day of selection camp is upon us. At the end of today, we will know the five-member US men’s team traveling to Doha at the end of October. I’ll be keeping up with the scores at the top of the post here (along with the day 1 numbers) and following along with the action as we go.

Mikulak 14.65 14.9 13.65 14.5 15.15 13.85 86.7
Moldauer 13.95 14.15 13.95 14.65 14.35 12.8 83.85
Yoder 13.25 14.9 14.05 14.05 13.15 13.15 82.5
Modi 14.2 14.55 13.4 14.45 13.65 13.55 83.85
Van Wicklen 13.8 11.95 13.15 14.85 12.95 13.65 80.2
Bower 13.9 14.35 12.7 14.65 13.5 X X
Howard 13.65 X 14.6 14.5 13 12.85 X
Kimble X 15 14.0 X X 13.55 X

Continue reading US Men – World Championship Selection

Men’s Selection, Day 1

Mikulak 14.5 14.9 14.15 14.6 15.35 14.25 87.75
Moldauer 14.6 14.6 14.25 14.7 14.55 13.4 86.1
Yoder 13.75 14.6 13.5 14.15 14.2 13.3 83.5
Modi 14.4 12.8 13.3 14.4 14.4 12.75 82.05
Van Wicklen 13.1 12.95 13.65 15 13.15 12.9 80.75
Bower 14.25 13.7 13 14.35 13.35 X X
Howard 13.65 X 14.55 14.05 12.7 12.3 X
Kimble X 13.5 13.6 X X 12.95 X

A few notes on what transpired at the first day of men’s selection competition yesterday, as we prepare for the final day of the selection process tomorrow at 3:30pm MT.

1) Mikulak and Moldauer are way ahead of everyone else. I wouldn’t use the scores, particularly for those two, as any kind of indication of their real-life scoring potential since they were high, occasionally to a comical degree. But compared to the rest of the selection field, they really are that far ahead of their teammates.

2) Marvin Kimble did not make his case. We’ve been waiting to see what level of competitiveness Kimble would show after missing nationals. His performances on the three events he competed on the first day were not yet at selection standard, particularly his critical HB routine where he got destroyed for an E score in the 6s—despite not falling—because of all the crazy form and late finishing positions.

Now, I’m still somewhat disposed to consider Kimble for the worlds team because of how disastrous everyone was on HB and what he potentially could score there. Even with a weak performance, his 12.950 wasn’t too different from the rest of the squad. That’s how dire things are on HB. Give me a possible 14 with the risk of a 12 over a guaranteed 13.2. I acknowledge, however, that a repeat of his HB performance on day 2 should eliminate Kimble from contention. But, if he manages a 14+…

Also hurting Kimble was the lowish score on rings, an event he would have been counted on to contribute to this team. He needed a 14 there. Right now, the US is left looking for a third good rings score, and that alters some of the selection dynamics. If only you had someone like Donnell Whittenburg competing…oh wait. Continue reading Men’s Selection, Day 1

The Miss Val Show

Miss Val hates gymnastics.

At least, that’s what people will tell you. Including Miss Val herself sometimes. She loves coaching. She loves heaping piles of life lessons and perspective upon unsuspecting 18-year-old elites who have never seen outside their own grips before. But watch gymnastics recreationally? She’d rather take a calculus test at a gum-chewing convention.

Perhaps that’s why it didn’t come as an inordinate shock today when Valorie Kondos Field announced that she will retire at the end of the 2019 season, after 29 years as the head coach of UCLA gymnastics. She has seemed to be moving in that direction for a while now, and…I mean…she hates gymnastics anyway, right?

Well…we’ll get to that.

If there can be just one defining characteristic of Miss Val’s UCLA, it’s THE SHOW. It has always been about THE SHOW. For better and for worse.

For better, UCLA is exceptionally conscious of how it presents itself to the world as a team, both gymnastically and non-gymnastically. If you go to UCLA, you’re going to be made into a performer, and you’re going to do a floor routine where you engage in battle with a heroin-addicted cocktail waitress only to learn that the cocktail waitress was you the whole time, whether you like it or not. You’re going to be mandatorily entertaining and kind of weird. It’s intrinsic in UCLA’s identity.

It’s no coincidence, then, that UCLA is typically the favorite team of international gymnerds who don’t even like NCAA (or claim not to), and the favorite team of olde-tyme purists who believe that nothing useful has happened in the world post-Mostepanova.

There’s something quite throwback about UCLA when it walks onto the floor. It’s very put together. You certainly won’t see an insane rat’s nest of a bun or a sloppy temp tattoo slapped on the cheek. A grizzled old 1970s Soviet coach would find the fewest things to murder about the UCLA team. That put-together, pristinely presented identity is pure Miss Val, and it extends to the routine performances themselves. There’s a refined sureness. Dare I even say…the calm confidence to do big beautiful gymnastics?

(It’s the Miss Val retirement post. I couldn’t possibly resist.) Continue reading The Miss Val Show

Things Are Happening – September 19, 2018

A. US men’s selection camp

The two-day selection camp for the US men’s world championship squad begins tomorrow. And guess what. It will be streamed! Like a real competition! Well done, you.

It’s almost like getting more eyes on what you’re doing is a…dare I say it…good thing? And that it…helps promote the sport and the athletes competing? WHAT. The women’s program is like, “I don’t understand…”

Competition schedule
Thursday, September 20 – 11:00am local time (Mountain)
Saturday, September 22 – 3:30pm local time (Mountain)

The competition is limited to just the 8 members of the training squad—Mikulak, Moldauer, Modi, Kimble, Yoder, Bower, Van Wicklen, Howard—who will be divided into the 5 team members and 3 alternates following Saturday’s competition.

The big news is the withdrawal of Donothan Bailey due to injury—because he was just casually having a great year, with his best chance ever to make a worlds team. Ah ha ha. Dead.

Bailey’s replacement is Trevor Howard, who I suppose is here because of the potential 14.5 score he brings on rings. OK? That’s interesting to me because I wasn’t too, too worried about rings. If you have Mikulak, Kimble, and Moldauer, that’s not a terrible rings score by any means, so perhaps Howard’s selection is revealing of more rings anxiety (or more Kimble anxiety) than I thought there would be.

The Bailey withdrawal is the best news for Modi and Bower since it means they have less competition for those remaining couple spots. Based on the scores from nationals, the teams produced by swapping in and out Bailey, Modi, and Bower (and Van Wicklen for that matter) were so similar that only the smallest margin was going to separate who made the team and who didn’t.

Above all, Marvin Kimble is the major story to watch at this selection camp because he missed nationals. That means we don’t really know what we’re going to get from him—in addition to it being Marvin Kimble to begin with, so of course we don’t know what we’re going to get from him. His high bar routines will be the most important of the entire selection competition because that’s such a weak event for the US right now and because he can potentially bring nearly a full point over what a non-Kimble team would score there. Stay tuned.

B. is for Britain and also Becky

Lots to report on the British side of things today. At the team championships, the big development was the performance of this unknown upstart named Becky Downie, who won bars with a 6.6 D score, the highest in the world.

She’s so confident with all those impossible releases that the most significant challenge for her in this yeti of a routine will be getting the endurance back to avoid having to cast at horizontal as she gets toward the end. Put together, this set could challenge Derwael and would make Downie a medal favorite at worlds once again.

Not to be overshadowed, Ellie Downie also made her return at this competition (Becky’s like, “NO MY SHOW”). Ellie missed on bars for a 13.3, which nonetheless put her in second, but also scored 13.3 for a hit on beam with a not-pushing-it 5.0 D, good enough for third. Let your British-team anxiety be quelled. A little.

Amelie Morgan also continued her assault on our prognostications for next year (when she becomes senior) by placing in the top 3 on every single event, including winning beam. We also saw Alice Kinsella take second on beam and vault, Taeja James win floor comfortably with a 13.550, and Kelly Simm win vault with 14.050 (tied with Kinsella overall but higher on execution). Continue reading Things Are Happening – September 19, 2018

Pan American Championships – What Happened There?

The US team is what happened there, to the surprise of no one.

On the women’s side, the United States won the team title by five and a half points over a valiant Brazilian team, and was never truly challenged in the process, winning each event.

Brazil won’t really mind the 5+ point deficit to the US—that’s about what we would expect to see right now between Brazil and a B+ US squad—and that team final performance showed marked improvement over qualification, where the margin between the two teams ended up a surprisingly hefty nine points.

In qualification, it was vault of all things that did Brazil in after DTY disasters from both Saraiva and Barbosa, but the team resolved those problems for the final to buoy the final score. That improvement, coupled with a few more mistakes from the US side in the final, shrunk the margin to five points.

Digging deeper, the world championship candidates on the US team all pretty much did their jobs, helping us resolve nothing at all. Thanks a lot. We needed to see Kara Eaker win beam and hit two routines that scored well into the 14s, which she did. We needed to see Grace McCallum win the all-around and continue proving she has a usable, international-level score on any event as needed, which she did. We needed to see Jade Carey be a force on vault and floor and win those pieces, which she did, and while Carey did not as yet upgrade the DTY, the big and necessary floor score sort of made up for that and didn’t compromise her current position.

What’s difficult here is the scoring standard. Scoring looked pretty loose to me, a little looser than US nationals, with the judges far more willing to go into the mid-8s in E score than I expect we’ll see at worlds. So, it doesn’t give us a great point of comparison. Are Grace McCallum’s beam and floor routines actually higher-scoring than Morgan Hurd’s, as this meet would lead us to believe? I’m not sold on that.

McCallum nonetheless did help her world championships case with this performance, solidifying herself as the US’s #4 all-arounder with believable, TF-ready routines on three events. Continue reading Pan American Championships – What Happened There?

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama