Checking Out Some D – Post-Classic Edition

Secret Classic is just Secret Classic. It’s the first step, not the decisive step. It’s never truly going to ruin anyone’s chances all by itself (which is code for “don’t write off Madison Kocian just because of that”), but this year’s competition did reveal a couple key changes in the D-score rankings as well as reinforcing the viability of several contenders on specific events, gymnasts who were closer to question-mark territory before the meet (which is code for “Aly Raisman had an important meet in spite of bars”).

So, as before, I have taken the current difficulty scores for the senior elites advancing to nationals and arranged the Ds by size, now updated to include the routines performed at Secret Classic if they reflected an upgrade (or change in composition—for instance, I put Rachel Gowey’s bars D back down to 6.3 from 6.5 as it appears she’s no longer doing inbar skills).

Once again, I removed the stick bonuses from the D scores because stick bonuses are the work of a multi-headed demon creature from below the sea and serve only to make the US scores even more misleading and unrealistic than they might be otherwise. Yurchenko fulls for seniors are also awarded just 4.7 instead of 5.0 at US competitions (because only stupid foreign jerks who are totally untalented do Yurchenko fulls), so I restored those to their actual 5.0 D level as well.



Among the Timmy D comments heard ’round the gymternet during the competition was the categorical statement that Aly Raisman will not be doing bars in qualification at the Olympics. …OK?

Now, will Aly Raisman have the weakest bars routine on the Olympic team? Yes. But that didn’t stop Martha from holding Nichols out of the AA at worlds last year to give Raisman a shot at qualifying, only to have Nichols return to the lineup to perform her first bars routine of the competition in the team final (a conventional-wisdom no-no, but a decision that worked out well).

I wouldn’t be all that surprised if it happened again at the Olympics. Though imagine the hell that will be raised if, say, Laurie Hernandez gets held off of bars in qualification so that Raisman can do the all-around instead of her.  Continue reading Checking Out Some D – Post-Classic Edition


*FINAL* US Men’s Olympic Team Calculator

NOTE: This has been updated to include the final results from Olympic Trials.

Because we’ve all (and by “we’ve all,” I obviously mean just me) been agonizing over various US men’s team options ever since nationals made everything harder, I’ve put together a handy-dandy little calculator so we can assess and compare all the possible groups of five Olympians (both realistic and five-Paul-Ruggeris-type). That way, everyone can join in the fun! This is what fun is, right?

Go ahead and give it a whirl!

Here’s how it works: In the cell next to “Team Member #X,” write the surname only of the gymnasts on a prospective Olympic team. Once you’ve listed at least three gymnasts, you’ll see a three-up, three-count total for that team on each event—as well as a full team total—based on the scores from nationals.

There are two options here, the first one is based on the highest score received by each gymnast at nationals (if you’re a glass-half-full kind of person), and the second one is based on the average score received by each gymnast at nationals (if you’re a glass-half-pommel-horse kind of person).

As a handy reminder of who the people are and how their last names are spelled (be sure they’re spelled correctly), here are the 18 remaining options for the US men’s Olympic team: Mikulak, Brooks, Dalton, Modi, Melton, Whittenburg, Moldauer, Kimble, Ruggeri, Orozco, Maestas, Naddour, Oyama, Bailey, Penev, Leyva, Legendre, Wynn.

On Championships, Both Man and European

Seventeen days. Seventeen whole days of barren desert wasteland until the beginning of the men’s Olympic Trials and women’s nationals, with nothing to quench our thirst but a mirage of Maggie Nichols doing an Amanar that turns out to be a cactus with a snake stuck to it.

What are we supposed to do? Snob out about salto positions during the diving trials by saying things like, “It’s just hard for me to watch diving because of all the cowboy technique…”? I mean, I guess we could do that. But it’s just not the same. IT’S NOT THE SAME I TELL YOU.

Still. One day at a time. One competition at a time. Just need to hit four-for-four. And, because all the competitions in the entire history of the solar system converged upon each other last weekend, several items slipped through the cracks, so it’s time to circle back around and address a couple of them.


For some reason, the women’s senior event finals at the European Championship took place in the middle of the night, almost like they were on a different continent or something. Really inconsiderate.

On vault, Giulia fully Steingrubered all over the place and used the D-score advantage from her rudi to sneak just ahead of Ellie Downie’s superior execution scores and win her first gold of the day. Bronze went to the extremely injured Ksenia Afanasyeva, who was so injured that she had to do two vaults in an event final.

DTY+Lopez is the event-final vaulting regimen of choice for pretty much everyone these days, which is why the rudi remains such a valuable asset for Steingruber. While the three Amanar+Cheng sisters (Biles, Hong, and Paseka) will be the medal favorites in Rio, Steingruber is setting herself up as the next best bet with vaults that will keep her ahead of Team DTY+Lopez and Team Prod Chucker. Continue reading On Championships, Both Man and European

Secret Classic LIVE BLOG

It’s here. It’s finally here. The fifth-most important night of the elite gymnastics season. Just like you’ve always dreamed about. I hope you’re as excited as Sveta.

In the eternally wise words of Martha Karolyi, “THERE IS NO NEXT YEAR.”

But first, it has already been a busy day in the gymnastics world, beginning with the women’s team final at the European Championships. It looked like it would be a close-fought thing between Russia and Great Britain, but that turned out to be a thousand types of false. Great Britain poured into the arena today with a chronic case of the no-thank-yous, featuring a Harrold fall on bars followed by Fragapane and Becky Downie falls on beam. Today just wasn’t a good day. At all. Though if you’re looking for positives, silver at Euros was a huge accomplishment for Team GB as recently as 11 seconds ago. Now, Great Britain can have a poor day, fall all over the place, and still finish second rather comfortably.

It’s sort of a shame because I was getting ready to complain about how drastically Russia was being held up in executions scores (those vaults…), but it didn’t end up mattering because the Russians only managed to fall a distinctly un-Russian once (Seda’s inevitable mistake on her full on beam) and were therefore able to allow Mustafina to clomp through her half-a-floor-routine at the end and still win easily and deservedly.

In the clawing fight for bronze, France recovered from a bars catastrophe in qualification and hit nearly a complete meet, using superior bars D to outpace the home Swiss, who counted falls from Kaeslin on bars and Steingruber on beam again, an Italian team that improved on its qualification performance but was still a little too fallsy, and a Romanian team that had an unfortunate little beam experience that it could not afford coming off normal Romania bars.

The European Championship was directly connected via rebounding flight series into the junior Secret Classic, where WOGA’s much hyped Russian-named Russian-DNA Russian, Irina Alexeeva, triumphed by the slimmest of margins. Aleexeva has added a strong floor to her already well-publicized WOGA-junior-beam-Ohashi-magic, which helped her come out just ahead of Texas Dream Emma Malabuyo, who used a DTY to gain a bit of an edge but finished a touch behind Alexeeva on the remaining events. Gabby Perea of Legacy Elite sidled in for third, winning bars (as we would only expect from a Li family joint), but I was most impressed by her fantastically nailed beam routine in which she taught a clinic on how to land a full-twisting back.

Pre-event favorite Jordan Chiles finished fourth, following what has become a very, very familiar pattern for her. She hits a solid Amanar which makes everyone go, “WOW SHE’S THE BEST FUTURE WORLD CHAMPION OF ALL,” but then she falls on beam and flies out of bounds a couple times on floor to plummet down the rankings. Every time. Just behind Chiles were GLASSES Morgan Hurd, Maile O’Keefe, and Deanne Soza, all of whom had three strong events but one issue-riddled event, that event being beam for Soza and Hurd and bars for O’Keefe.

Fun fact: If the top-five juniors here (Alexeeva, Malabuyo, Perea, Chiles, and Hurd) had competed as a team at senior Euros today, they would have finished 0.162 behind Russia for gold.

But enough of that racket! It’s time for the seniors! What of the Raismanar? And the Hernandebars??? And the whoeverfloor????? Too many questions. Let’s get some answers. HA HA HA HA. Just kidding. We won’t get any answers today. It’s just Classic. Martha only wants you to be at 74% right now. Continue reading Secret Classic LIVE BLOG

Secret Classic Podium Training

I haven’t been obsessively refreshing the USAGym youtube page all day. You’ve been obsessively refreshing the USAGym youtube page all day. What is obviously the most important day of your life, Secret Classic podium training, is finally here and the videos are flooding in for our intense dissection needs, providing us with…WAIT.

Has Skinner gotten rid of both tomato-armpit AND stab-a-boob???

THIS WILL NOT STAND. This better just be a podium training acro-through, and she’s saving the difficult and important parts of the routine for competition. Otherwise, I don’t know what I’ll do. Shut up with that full-in dismount whatever, I WANT TOMATO ARMPIT. I mean, we do get “rigor mortis pottery” at the beginning of this video, and then “I’m nervous about my upcoming hip replacement surgery” toward the end, but THAT’S IT. Not good enough. She also appears to have added in her own homage to Ol’ Flappy. Derivative.

In important upgrade news, Laurie Hernandez showed up like a monster to upset the bars cart with this upgraded 6.4 bars routine.

Serious team final implications with this, as it potentially gives Hernandez a second event to help make her case (along with beam). This separates her from the pack of 6.1 bars options (like Biles and Nichols) and helps turn the attention away from vault (and who has an Amanar) and onto what Hernandez can potentially add on bars and beam, which could total more than an Amanar adds anyway. The execution is fine, though not ideal (those damn stalder full legs), so we’ll need to see how this is evaluated to see how much she’s really gaining here. To be a viable bars option, you have to beat Biles by at least a couple tenths since the team could always just put up Biles and be fine. Continue reading Secret Classic Podium Training

Euros 2016: Aliya Hits When Aliya Wants

European Championships – Senior women’s qualification

-In qualification, Great Britain edged Russia by a mere tenth to advance to the team final in 1st place. I have to say I’m a bit surprised it ended up being as close as it was given the various exhumed corpses Russia was forced to prop up with broomsticks, put some lipstick and eyelashes on, and throw onto the apparatuses.At the same time, GB did not have Queen of Varna Ellie Downie competing bars or beam, didn’t get the necessary bars score from Ruby Harrold, and had to count a beam fall from Fragapane on her exact-sphere with a full twist. Is “frightened armadillo ball” one of the acro shapes?

-Team GB will expect to do a bit better on bars and beam in the team final but did dominate floor, outscoring all the other teams by several billion points and not looking like they were about to die with every turn. Fragapane and Harrold showed quite impressive control in tumbling, and Downie scored well enough to get into the floor final in spite of a couple minorly iffy landings and going OOB on her Flying Dos Santos. On floor, pretty much every other team was going, “1 1/3 Y spin, stumble, CREDIT PLEASE????” and the judges were going, “No…”

-Russia also suffered a fall on beam when Tutkhalyan came off on her full, causing Valentina to pull out her wand and blast Seda’s name off the Black family tapestry once and for all. Russia did come back with some untouchable bars routines to close the gap with Great Britain, and in a bit of a surprise there, Mustafina and Melnikova beat Spiridonova, two-perring her out of her bars final and not helping Spiridonova’s Olympic team chances even a little bit.

-Now, let’s talk about Mustafina. In typical Aliya fashion, she appeared at podium training earlier in the week looking like she has been Anastasia Romanov this whole time and just emerged from 100 years spent living in a series of underground tunnels. She definitely had all the plagues and might have been a baby opossum in a leotard. Continue reading Euros 2016: Aliya Hits When Aliya Wants

(A Few) Things Are Happening – June 1, 2016

1. Schedule, schedule. 

First things first. We have a beautifully bloated and gigantic weekend of gymnastics in front of us (weekends begin on Thursday, right?) so if you’re wondering what your life is, it’s this and nothing else.


4:00am ET/1:00am PT – European WAG Qualification Sub 1
6:10am ET/3:10am PT – European WAG Qualification Sub 2
9:20am ET/6:20am PT – European WAG Qualification Sub 3
11:30am ET/8:30am PT – European WAG Qualification Sub 4 (all the big teams except France)


1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – European Junior AA Final
2:30pm ET/11:30am PT – Secret Classic Hopes Championship
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT – Men’s P&G Championship Day 1


11:00am ET/8:00am PT – European Senior Team Final
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Secret Classic Junior Session
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT – Secret Classic Senior Session


5:00am ET/2:00am PT – European Senior Event Finals
8:30am ET/5:30am PT – European Junior Event Finals
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Men’s P&G Championship Day 2
9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT – Secret Classic Senior TV Broadcast (NBCSN)

Will I be live blogging Secret Classic on Saturday? Of course I will. I’m disappointed that you even had to ask.

2. European juniors Continue reading (A Few) Things Are Happening – June 1, 2016

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama