Saturday Live Blog – January 5, 2019

Saturday, January 5 Scores Stream
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – [25] NC State @ Michigan State LINK BTN+
Flo
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [18] Ohio State @ [7] Georgia LINK SEC+
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Penn State @ [5] Utah LINK FREE
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [2] Oklahoma @ [12] Arkansas LINK SEC+
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [10] Kentucky @ TWU LINK FREE

Yesterday was SUCH a first day. Even the teams that scored well had a bunch of falls, which is very much what we get in the first weekend, but I have to say there might have been a little more “not cute” than even I expected.

The judging is all over the place. We had some moments of pretty tight evaluation—that judge going 9.700 for Olivia Karas’s Yfull when Bev almost exploded in Cancun, some of those beam scores at the Cal/LSU meet—but it was not consistent, even within the same meet or the same rotation, as we also saw a number of judges not super interested in the new pause deductions on beam and throwing out 9.9s, two vaults going 9.975 that weren’t quite 10.0 level, some realllll home floor for the big-name teams.

So overall nothing new here. Sunrise sunset. Continue reading Saturday Live Blog – January 5, 2019

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Friday Live Blog – January 4, 2019

Friday, January 4 Scores Stream
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [9] Michigan, Iowa State, West Virginia, Rutgers (@ Cancun Classic) FLO
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [8] Cal @ [4] LSU LINK SEC+
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [19] Missouri, [23] Minnesota, UIC @ [20] Arizona State LINK FREE
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Iowa @ [14] Auburn LINK SEC+
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Temple, SEMO, Northern Illinois @ [6] Alabama LINK SEC+
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [11] Nebraska @ [1] UCLA LINK ESPN2
11:00 ET/8:00 PT – Illinois State @ Alaska LINK FREE

IT’S HAPPENING.

The day starts in Cancun, where once again, no one invited us. Primary focus this evening will be on Cal/LSU and Nebraska/UCLA, but pretty much every meet today is worth at least a look in, so expect some bopping around. Continue reading Friday Live Blog – January 4, 2019

Things Are Happening – January 4, 2019

A. Well…

…actually things aren’t really happening. Except for the start of NCAA season. And it’s been kind of nice. The headlines on USAG’s site are about things like Morgan Hurd harmlessly visiting a gym instead of, you know, a golf ball being named Senior Vice President of Slapping Your Dumb Daughter in Her Stupid Face, or whatever they’re usually up to over there.

Oh, there is Maroney’s lawsuit being put on hold because of USAG’s Chapter 11 filing (that sound you hear from USAG is mwahahahaha), and the misconduct allegations against Sergio Galvez, who was head coach of the national tumbling team until October, and…

Damn it. Ruining it. Ruining it. Ruining it.

Anyway…

B. Kenzo is our prince

Kenzo performed a perfectly accurate rendition of Mai’s floor routine, complete with choreography and leaps, and it was delightful, would score amazingly, was clearly practiced A LOT, and he’s the hero of the world. If everyone were Kenzo, there would be no war, is what I’m saying.

“What a glorious delight! What beautiful, harmless joy! We must destroy it!” said a couple internets.

So, a few people got their swimsuit areas in a bunch because heaven forbid a grrrrr men’s sport be blah blah blah yuck girly dancing or whatever.

I find the premise of the entire argument about whether men’s floor should have music kind of exhausting. Do I watch a typical men’s floor routine and think, “I wish you were Kyle Shewfelt?” Sure. Obviously. I’m a human being, aren’t I? But do I watch a typical men’s floor routine and think, “I wish this had music?” Not really.

But when a guy shows floor with music like this, and he’s into it and wants to do it…it’s AWESOME.

The issue is not that men’s floor needs to change to be more like women’s floor. They’re separate events, in separate sports, both with value. The problem is the artificial gendering of these two different sports, that girls get funneled into one and boys into the other. Gymnastics as a sport should be encouraged to embrace the differences between MAG and WAG, rather than trying to smoosh them into one another—but get rid of those names. Have men’s and women’s divisions of both of these two sports, for the boys who desperately want to BEAM like sensible gentlemen, for the girls who loved that tumbling stuff but leave gymnastics the second it starts to get too…ugh girly and stupid and sparkles and leos and dancing and yuck, and for those who just want to define their sport for themselves without being told which one they’re supposed to do.

The idea that your gender should have any bearing on what apparatuses you’re allowed to do (because WOMAN-ELEGANT and MAN-STRONG) is uncomfortably old-fashioned. So if we’re going to continue talking about gymnastics finally leaving the 1970s…let’s talk about it.

Continue reading Things Are Happening – January 4, 2019

NCAA Week 1 Preview

Full Schedule and Links

Marquee Meets

[11] Nebraska @ [1] UCLA
Friday, 6:00 PT, ESPN2

The first “live on real television” meet of the season pits two of last year’s Super Six teams against one another with Nebraska paying a visit to defending champion UCLA.

For UCLA, the judgment monocles will be fixed to this performance, not only because a championship inherently brings more eyes and an expectation of setting the standard the following season, but because UCLA is still trying to get itself out from under a sticky reputation for starting the season poorly.

The reputation is earned. More often than not in the last decade, UCLA has started the season with a missed meet. The last time the Bruins won the title (2010), they began the following year with a sluggish, fall-laden 195.300 in a loss to Utah. Even in 2018, UCLA started the season counting a fall on vault in its very first rotation.

Based on the impressive level of progress shown in December’s Meet the Bruins exhibition, particularly on vault and floor, there’s no reason to expect a missed meet from UCLA out of the gate other than history, but the hits still have to come. Oklahoma and LSU, two programs that have tended to score 197 in recent season openers, will be quite eager to start faster again this year and say, “OK, all that UCLA blah blah blah is over, back to us now.”

A hit start will be especially important for UCLA because Nebraska hardly presents pushover first-meet competition. Finishing the 2018 season in 6th place, and then being ranked 11th in the preseason poll for some reason, Nebraska will be looking to open the first meet of the post-Kendig era with continuity by saying, “Hi, we’re better than you think we are—again.”

Nebraska, however, also has a reputation for starting the season slowly—going sub-196 in each of its last four openers—a result that wouldn’t make a dent if repeated on Friday. Still, we know that Nebraska can be a very 196 team, so UCLA certainly won’t feel the luxury to count a fall and still win this one despite being the clear favorite.

Telling in Nebraska’s quest to challenge will be the very first rotation on bars, a question-mark event for the roster right now. With injuries to Roby and Orel, Nebraska will leo-up only three available gymnasts who have competed bars before in Houchin, Crouse, and Schweihofer, so there will be some serious pressure on multiple new routines to get through (and get through with real scores) in their debuts.

While the headline freshmen debuts will belong to Marz Frazier and Norah Flatley for UCLA, the performances from Abby Johnston and Sarah Hargrove for Nebraska will be equally significant in determining the course of their team’s season.

Like UCLA, Nebraska will be hoping to pour on the 10.0 starts on vault this year with some new 1.5s that have made cameos in training, so a major story to track will be how many of those vaults for both teams actually make it into the lineup with usable landings now that things are real. While it’s early, that will present a helpful benchmark for how competitive these teams might be on vault moving forward.


[8] Cal @ [4] LSU
Friday, 7:00pm CT, SECN+ 

LSU enters its season opener at home in a similar position to UCLA: the clear favorite but without the luxury of having a bad meet and still winning—not against a team as strong as Cal.

For the Tigers, after finishing 4th last season and being ranked 4th in the preseason poll, they’ll be looking to block back any subtly creeping “Is LSU going to be as good this season…?” questions with a big early score.

Because we saw LSU perform in a preseason exhibition, we mostly know what to expect from these lineups. Still, particular interest will be paid to the newly arrived (and therefore still fairly mysterious) Bailey Ferrer since we didn’t see her in that exhibition. Ferrer will be an essential cog on multiple pieces, her strengths vault and floor, but perhaps most essentially in shoring up a bars lineup that doesn’t enjoy a surplus of options this year—especially if the team has to be cautious with Priessman’s Crest Whitestrip of a shoulder.

The curiosity cat will also have its back arched about a new-look beam lineup, without Hambrick and Macadaeg but with the same expectations for 9.9-itude. Can the freshly formed center of the lineup keep up with LSU’s beaming of last few seasons?

You know Cal is moving up in the world of NCAA gym with the team eschewing participation in the traditional NorCal Classic this year (which typically takes place in the land that time forgot), and instead traveling to LSU to open the season with a high-profile clash against a national title contender.

Just how “moving up in the world” Cal is this season will rest significantly on much-sought freshmen Milan Clausi and Maya Bordas. Both won their divisions at JO Nationals in 2017, so expectations are high—but so is the level of mystery as we wait to see how freshmen integrate themselves into teams on the first weekend. With vital freshmen, not to mention the uncertain status of Toni-Ann Williams who missed the elite season with an elbow injury, Cal has a number of questions to answer in this first meet.


What else?

Continue reading NCAA Week 1 Preview

NCAA Week 1 – Schedule and Links

Friday, January 4 Scores Stream
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [9] Michigan, Iowa State, West Virginia, Rutgers (@ Cancun Classic) FLO
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [8] Cal @ [4] LSU LINK SEC+
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [19] Missouri, [23] Minnesota, UIC @ [20] Arizona State LINK FREE
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Iowa @ [14] Auburn LINK SEC+
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Temple, SEMO, Northern Illinois @ [6] Alabama LINK SEC+
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [11] Nebraska @ [1] UCLA LINK ESPN2
11:00 ET/8:00 PT – Illinois State @ Alaska LINK FREE
Saturday, January 5 Scores Stream
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – [25] NC State @ Michigan State LINK BTN+
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [18] Ohio State @ [7] Georgia LINK SEC+
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Penn State @ [5] Utah LINK FREE
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [2] Oklahoma @ [12] Arkansas LINK SEC+
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [10] Kentucky @ TWU LINK FREE
Sunday, January 6 Scores Stream
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [22] Illinois, Arizona, Bridgeport @ Central Michigan LINK ESPN3
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – [21] Stanford, UC Davis, San Jose State @ Sac State LINK  FREE
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – UW-Oshkosh @ Hamline
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Illinois State @ Alaska LINK FREE
Monday, January 7 Scores Stream
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – New Hampshire @ Southern Utah FREE
Tuesday, January 8 Scores Stream
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Brockport @ Cortland

Links will continue to be added as they become available.

*The meets on Monday and Tuesday will not count as part of week 1 for ranking purposes.

**#3 Florida, #13 Denver, #15 Washington, #16 Boise State, and #17 Oregon State are idle this week. Because of laziness probably. 


Meets marked ESPN2 will be broadcast live on TV and can also be streamed online at the link provided for those who have a log-in from a TV provider subscription—U-Verse, Spectrum, DirecTV, Dish, Xfinity, Verizon, Sling, Hulu, or YouTube TV.

Meets marked SECN+ may be streamed on WatchESPN for those who have a log-in from a TV provider subscription—U-Verse, Spectrum, DirecTV, Dish, Xfinity, Verizon, Sling, Hulu, or YouTube TV.

Meets marked P12N will be broadcast live on TV and can also be streamed online at the link provided for those who have a log-in from a participating TV provider subscription. A number of providers have dropped the Pac-12 Networks recently, including U-Verse, so make sure you still have access even if you did in the past. You’re safe for the first couple weeks but may be in trouble after that.

The Pac-12 Network provides an international subscription for those outside the US. Otherwise you’re probably left looking for last-minute bootleg streams, which do appear but can be finicky. That also applies if you are without the subscriptions listed above.

Meets marked FLO may be streamed through a paid subscription to FloGymnastics ($30/month).

Meets marked BTN+ may be streamed through a paid subscription to BTN+ ($15/month) or through FloGymnastics ($30/month).

Meets marked ESPN3 may be streamed on WatchESPN for those who have a log-in from a participating internet service provider, which is most of them.

Meets marked FREE are free at the link provided.

National Team Rankings – January 2019

How It Works
Taking into account all scores recorded at competitions in the last six months, each nation is given a team total based on how its best-scoring group of five senior gymnasts would do in a hypothetical 3-up, 3-count team final.

Each individual’s best scores may come from any official competition (they need not all be from the same meet), and whichever group of five gymnasts would produce the highest score is the one selected.

Countries that have not shown enough senior routines in the last six months to fill a 3-up, 3-count team on each event are not included.

Rankings will be updated at the beginning of each month, and scores will expire after six months in order to provide the most up-to-date snapshot of where nations are at the current moment. The current rankings include only scores from July 2018–December 2018. Now that 2019 has arrived, the newly senior 2003 babies have been added, noted with a “(2003)” next to their names.

Rejoining the rankings this month were Ireland and Guatemala, and dropping off was Cyprus.

Last month’s ranking is in parentheses. Continue reading National Team Rankings – January 2019

Explained: The New NCAA Championship Format

We’re five days away from the start of the NCAA season, so even though you’ve valiantly put off understanding the new championship format for as long as possible (and I’m so proud of you for it), it’s time to buckle down and do the thing.

The new postseason format instituted for 2019 is an improvement over the previous system in many ways, most notably because of the elimination of those bloated and interminable six-team meets with bye rotations. It still has its faults and problems from the previous format that have gone unresolved, which we’ll all be sure to complain about at every possible moment, but it’s a step. So here’s how it will go.

The season itself will progress as before. The teams will compete every weekend, they’ll all get overscored, you’ll be furious about it, and everything will be fine and normal. Following the conference championships, the top 36 teams will still advance to the elimination meets, as per usual, while the season ends for everyone else. After that, it gets new and different.

ELIMINATION ROUNDS

Previously, the 36 advancing teams would be divided among 6 regional sites—6 teams at each site—for a single day of elimination competition from which the top 2 teams at each site advanced to the national championship.

This year, the 36 advancing teams will be divided among 4 regional sites—9 teams at each site—for three days of elimination competition after which the top 2 teams at each site will advance to the national championship. Continue reading Explained: The New NCAA Championship Format