American Classic Rosters

We’re just 10 days away from the US elite summer season getting underway again with the BUM BUM BUM…American Classic?

The American Classic: Mattering since 2018.

I guess. We’ve decided.

The meet that used to take place at the ranch over 4th of July (#NeverForget) is now an actual public competition instead of a secret secret made of secrets. We even have a roster release and everything. Rosters are also out for the Hopes Classic which takes place the day before, but I don’t care about that, you’re too young. Go watch the Frozen trailer with Kylie C.

So here’s a quick breakdown of what’s going on with the field for juniors and the field for seniors (such as it is).

Juniors

Olivia Ahern (River City)
Ciena Alipio (West Valley)
Love Birt (First State)
Skye Blakely (WOGA)
Charlotte Booth (Brandy Johnson’s)
Sophia Butler (Discover)
Kailin Chio (Gymcats)
Addison Fatta (Prestige)
eMjae Frazier (Parkettes)
Elizabeth Gantner (JPAC)
Karis German (WCC)
Emily Golden (EVO)
Mia Heather (San Mateo)
Levi Jung-Ruivivar (Paramount)
Lauren Little (Everest)
Nola Matthews (Airborne)
Zoe Miller (WCC)
Sydney Morris (First State)
Annalise Newman-Achee (Chelsea Piers)
Sophie Parenti (San Mateo)
Anya Pilgrim (Hill’s)
Ariel Posen (MG Elite)
Joscelyn Roberson (NE Texas)
Sienna Robinson (Brown’s)
Katelyn Rosen (Mavericks)
Lyden Saltness (Midwest)
Jamison Sears (World Class)
Chavala Shepard (Hopes and Dreams)
Ava Siegfeldt (World Class)
Mya Witte (Genie’s)
Jamie Wright (World Class)
Eva Volpe (Pearland)
Ella Zirbes (Flips)

American Classic conflicts with Junior Worlds in Hungary, so we won’t see those who ultimately make the J-worlds team (Spencer, stop trying to make J-worlds happen, it’s not going to happen). Of the nominative group—DiCello, McClain, Greaves, Blakely—only Blakely is even on the preliminary roster here, though she’ll pull out of this competition if she makes the team. Continue reading American Classic Rosters

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The Japan Problem

I would say everything turned terrible this weekend, but like it wasn’t terrible before. Everything continued being terrible this weekend.

The big news is that, for reasons entirely beyond the grasp of sanity, Japan has decided Mai Murakami is not eligible to be selected for the world championships team. That’s sort of a problem in that, you know, she’s the defending all-around silver medalist, the best gymnast in the country, and one of the best gymnasts in the world. Oh also Japan’s performance at this year’s world championship will determine whether it qualifies a full team to the Tokyo Olympics. Just that.

We’ve always quaintly made fun of Japan’s preposterous selection procedure, where they select the worlds team 88 months in advance for some reason, base selection on placement at irrelevant meets, and pick gymnasts who are not the best options and who don’t even end up competing in the team final (cough), but it was all games and sprinkles until it started to affect Mai Murakami.

So here’s what Japan is trying to pull: Japan uses the combined standings after two days of national championships and one day of the NHK Trophy to determine the majority of the spots on the world championships team. This is despite those events being held in April and May and worlds being in October. Apparently, no one has ever seen the problem with that.

Out of the 5 members of the worlds team, 4 of the spots are assigned based on those combined standings at the conclusion of the NHK Trophy. So this year, the top 3 all-arounders booked their spots on the worlds team—Asuka Teramoto, Hitomi Hatakeda, and Aiko Sugihara. (Chiaki Hatakeda actually placed 3rd, ahead of Sugihara, but she is still a junior.)

In addition to those three, Nagi Kajita, who placed 7th overall and 5th among the seniors, was selected as the 4th members of the worlds team. Of note, she was selected ahead of Ayaka Sakaguchi, who finished 5th overall (4th among seniors), which is significant because it was a weird decision that didn’t look to be in the best interests of the team score, and was also an instance of Japan looking past the official standings to make a selection—showing that it’s not all “the results are the results” all the time. Continue reading The Japan Problem

Things Are Happening – June 7, 2019

A. The weekend ahead

No world cup events to watch this weekend, but I am looking forward to see what transpires at the FIT Challenge in Ghent. All the main Belgians will be there, alongside what (at least per the nominative rosters) should be a strong crop of Australians, several of the top-tier Dutch, and pretty much all the healthy gymnasts in the entire country of Romania. With those teams together, this should be a seriously informative preview of the race for the last couple Olympic team spots.

This weekend also brings the national championships for both France and Brazil (hopefully there’s no electricity sabotage-protest at Brazilians again this year, and by that I mean hopefully there is an electricity sabotage-protest at Brazilians again this year). France is even live streaming event finals on Sunday at 2:00pm local time, so at least someone has it together. Sadly, Marine Boyer is out.

The weekend also brings another US elite qualifier, this one at Auburn (in Washington, not Alabama). There’s one session for optionals on Friday evening, and then three more on Saturday, so keep an eye on those results if you’re fascinated. At least weekend’s Parkettes qualifier, eight more juniors got their qualifying scores to advance to Classic (led by Frazier The Younger). No seniors got their AA scores, with Victoria Nguyen just missing out on the requisite number, but Abigael Vides of WCC did get a three-event score for vault, beam, and floor.

B. NCAA developments

We’ve had some fairly significant team commitment news come over the last couple days, most exciting to me is word that Italy’s Clara Colombo is heading to Nebraska. Colombo is a viable all-arounder who is particularly adept on bars and has come closest to making Italian teams in the past because of her ability to go over 13 on UB.

Getting the second-tier Italian elites who do well in Serie A but never make the big teams into NCAA gymnastics is an all-time dream, though the language requirements typically seem an insurmountable issue. If this is the start of a trend, I’ll be over the moon. It’s a match made in face glitter.

Other elites heading to college: Laney Madsen has announced her commitment to UCLA. We don’t yet know what season (it’s still a verbal commitment not an NLI signing, which the 2019-2020ers did last November), but UCLA is hard at work trying to establish what’s going to happen when the Ross/Kocian/Hano class goes, with Chiles and Moors already set to start in that critical 2021 season. Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 7, 2019

No Skill For You

Today’s journey addresses skills that were officially named for specific athletes in the code of points at some time in the past, and then the code was like “BYE CINDY” either to just the name, just the skill, or even both. Fun for the whole family!

Note: There are many instances of this phenomenon (like many), and this should not be considered an exhaustive account by any means.

The Khorkina(s)

As part of the vast international conspiracy against Svetlana Khorkina because so very many people are jealous of her beauty and greatness, multiple skills once named after her are no longer attributed to Her Regal Khorkness in the code of points.

The Markelov—as it is named in the men’s code—was once named for Khorkina, who had been performing it since her early days when she had a ponytail (laser beam sound effect) and ponytailed her way onto the international stage at 1994 worlds.

But nearly immediately following Khorkina’s retirement, the skill was snatched away from her for undisclosed reasons, so while it still appears as an element in the code of points, it is no longer attributed to anyone by name.

The Markelov is not the only skill that was viciously stolen from Khorkina. She also once had the hop 1.5 to front support named after herself, and her name no longer appears associated with that skill either.

It is not, however, all about Khorkina [crack of thunder, he’s struck down dead], as we’ve also seen the elimination of the named element The Ziganshina, which used to be the tuck 2/1 to front support. Like Khorkina’s elements, that skill still exists (and was in fact upgraded from B to C in 2013, so the code is into it), yet it is mysteriously no longer named after Natalia Ziganshina.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s horrible looking, but when has that ever been a consideration before?

The Chow(s) Continue reading No Skill For You

Live, Laugh, Nabieva

In honor of Tatiana Nabieva returning to the Russian national team and being announced as part of the Universiade squad, let’s spend a vital moment or two appreciating our first and (to date) only fully sarcastic gymnastics career. The woman who invented doing elite gymnastics as a prank, Tatiana Nabieva.

Noted primarily for her two most famous inventions, 1) the layout Tkatchev on bars

and 2) fierce investment in floor choreography

Nabieva is actually so much more.

She is a dance icon.

A fighter.

A slapstick comedian.

And a master of endurance.

Continue reading Live, Laugh, Nabieva

Koper World Challenge Cup

The spring Challenge Cup series wrapped up over the weekend in Koper, featuring enough vault-related insanity to keep us satiated until the series picks up again in September. Or, like, until the real meets of the summer and whatnot. Here’s what happened.

Men’s Floor

Someone finally got all my memos. While I spent last week’s recap of Osijek’s floor final lamenting that Tomas Gonzalez’s execution should be compelling enough to outweigh landing errors and keep him ahead of most mushy-kneed mortals and yet SOMEHOW WASN’T, this week the judges fell into line and awarded Gonzalez an 8.8 execution score. That allowed him to take floor gold on the execution tiebreak over the superior difficulty of Milad Karimi.

Karimi was great, but…

So…

Last week in Osijek, brand new teenage child Aurel Benovic was among several competitors who missed out on medals but impressed with execution and potential, and those qualities came through for him this weekend with more controlled landings and a serious upgrade in difficulty (now at 6.1) in a bronze medal performance. Watch out for this one in coming years.

Meanwhile, special commendation goes to the Norway federation for getting its male gymnasts shorts that fit. Note to the Japanese federation and those muumuus the whole team wears on floor.

Also everyone got their party favor bags from Kyle R’s birthday.

If there’s not an iPad in there…

Women’s Vault

Though the vault final was supposed to be the domain of home-nation hope and last week’s champion Teja Belak, it proved instead to be the Marina Nekrasova party. Nekrasova stormed in with an exceptional landing on a handspring layout full and a nearly-as-comfortable Tsuk 1.5 to take the gold medal.

Nekrasova’s vaulting was the highlight of the final, and while Teja Belak did well to land her vaults in a similar fashion to last weekend—and honestly had a bit stronger in-air execution than Nekrasova—she fell just short in the difficulty department to sit in second place. Continue reading Koper World Challenge Cup

Things Are Happening – May 31, 2019

A. A dissertation on the nature of the mixed combination bonus on women’s floor exercise

Since the dawn of humanity, it is our curiosity that has defined us as a people. The quest to seek out new frontiers, the passion to uncover the unknown, the

OK Simone has some upgrades.

She tweeted the gymternet to the ground this week by posting a Biles + front layout and a triple-twisting double back. I know.

I mean, girl was going out of bounds all over the place last season, so she’s got to start making these passes harder on herself, I guess.

So just to clarify, Simone won the floor title at worlds last year a full point ahead of silver medalist Morgan Hurd, and with a D score 0.9 higher than anyone else in the final. Now she’s planning to add an acro combination worth 0.2 and a new element that’s presumably going to be rated at I-value.

The Biles to front layout will replace the Biles + stag, for an upgrade of a tenth over last year’s peak D score of 6.7. What the triple double would replace…we don’t know yet. Potentially it would go in place of the double double tucked to add another 0.1, but there could be all kinds of rearranging of other passes as well. You wouldn’t put it past her to ditch the front 1/1 through to full-in for being too easy (I mean, what is she, an infant?) and swap out that full-in for a harder element in combo. Many, many options.

(Yes, I know, the triple double is on a tumble track, but also it’s Simone so of course she can, and at this point she wouldn’t be posting it if she weren’t adding it for real.)

Also, because I’ve been really into named skills lately: Naming conventions are such that the triple-double would be known as the Biles II, even though it would be her third eponymous skill, because you only number them within a specific apparatus, not overall. It would be her second named floor skill. Continue reading Things Are Happening – May 31, 2019