Tag Archives: Aly Raisman

2017 versus 2016: A Beam Comparison

As an addendum to my flitting, meadow-based prance through the new Code of Points, it’s time to take a closer look at beam. Here, I’ve selected a few example routines from major beam players in 2016 (chosen for definitely important reasons and absolutely not just because they were the easiest to find on youtube). Below each routine is a comparison of what the intended D score was in 2016 to what the D score would be for the same routine under the 2017-2020 code.

It’s a way of starting to become comfortable with the new code (and as such, condescending and snarky corrections are most welcome), as well as an opportunity to dissect some of the significant code changes in order to see how beam composition will have to adjust in 2017 to avoid the bigger pitfalls.

Clearly, some gymnasts will have to make more changes than others.

Let’s start with Sanne Wevers’ routine at the 2016 Test Event.

Sanne Wevers
2016 2017
Bhs 1/1 mount – E Bhs 1/1 mount – E
Double L spin – E Double L spin – E
Side aerial + side aerial + aerial – D+D+D = 0.3 CV Side aerial + side aerial + aerial – D+D+D = 0.1 CV
Triple spin – E Triple spin – E
L spin + single spin + double spin – C+A+D = 0.2 CV L spin + single spin + double spin – C+A+D = 0.2 CV
Switch split + bhs 1/1 – C+D = 0.1 CV Switch split + bhs 1/1 – C+D = 0.1 CV
Gainer layout dismount – D Gainer layout dismount – C
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – EDDDD – 2.1 Acro – EDDDC – 2.0
Dance – EED – 1.4 Dance – EED – 1.4
CV – 0.6 CV – 0.4
Total D – 6.6 Total D – 5.8

The D score for this particular routine would decrease by 0.8 in 2017, with two significant obstacles emerging. The main one is the elimination of the 0.1 CV for non-rebounding D+D connections, something Wevers was taking advantage of twice in that side aerial + side aerial + aerial walkover combination. She would still receive the 0.1 series bonus, but not the extra 0.2 for connecting the individual D skills.

The other is the dismount. At the Olympics, Wevers upgraded her dismount to a gainer “layout” full, which is a D value in the new code, but her Test Event routine highlights the problem for those still performing the regular gainer layout. The gainer layout is now a C, yet in the above routine, Wevers would still have to count it among her 8 skills—in place of the D-valued bhs 1/1—because it’s the dismount. As in the previous code, the dismount must be counted.

And that, children, is how the WTC eliminates unwanted skills.

It’ll be interesting to see what those who were relying on non-rebounding combinations do in the next quad: do they give in and go for rebounding acro, or just add more spin combinations?

Speaking of non-rebounding, how’s Aliya doing?

Let’s take one of Mustafina’s good ones, where she got credit for an acro series, to see how the changes would affect her.

Aliya Mustafina
2016 2017
Double spin – D Double spin – D
Split leap + sissone + side somi – A+A+D = 0.1 CV Split leap + sissone + side somi – B+A+D
Switch 1/2 + onodi – D+D = 0.2 CV Switch 1/2 + onodi – D+D = 0.2 CV
Side aerial – D Side aerial – D
Aerial + aerial + bhs – D+D+B = 0.2 CV Aerial + aerial + bhs – D+D+B = 0.1 CV
Switch ring – E Switch ring – E
Round-off + double tuck – B+D Round-off + double tuck – B+D
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – DDDDD – 2.0 Acro – DDDDD – 2.0
Dance – EDD – 1.3 Dance – EDD – 1.3
CV – 0.5 CV – 0.3
Total D – 6.3 Total D – 5.6

Aliya would lose 0.7 overall for this routine: the 0.5 CR, 0.1 for the sissone + side somi (since D acro + A dance no longer gets connection value—all of those A dance elements will be replaced with split jumps in the next quad since that’s a B now…………….), and 0.1 for the two aerial walkovers combination, running into the same problem that Wevers does.

As far as I can tell, non-rebounding acro will still be allowed to fulfill the 0.5 CR for an “acro series,” so if Aliya does decide to keep going, the Legend of Aliya and the Acro Series might live on, and on, and on.

I actually thought the new code would be worse for Aliya’s routine composition, but she doesn’t lose all that much and could adjust around the new regulations pretty simply and comfortably.

Now, let’s address the winner of the new beam code, Simone Biles. Obviously.

Simone Biles
2016 2017
Wolf spin 2.5 – E Wolf spin 2.5 – D
Barani – a fantasy mystery Barani – probably definitely F now?
Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV
Punch front + sissone – D+A = 0.1 CV Punch front + sissone – D+A
Switch split + switch 1/2 + back pike – C+D+C = 0.2 CV Switch split + switch 1/2 + back pike – C+D+C = 0.3 CV
Aerial + wolf – D+A = 0.1 CV Aerial + wolf – D+A
Bhs + bhs + full twisting double tuck – B+B+G = 0.1 CV Bhs + bhs + full twisting double tuck – B+B+G = 0.3 CV
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – GEDDC – 2.3 Acro – GFDDC – 2.4
Dance – EDC – 1.2 Dance – DDC – 1.1
CV – 0.7 CV – 0.8
Total D – 6.7 Total D – 6.3

In the 2017 code, the half turn into back tuck is an F skill instead of an E. Apparently, that is what Simone performs? He says with a question mark? But, then, what is the value of the half-twisting body chuck? (No, I’m literally never letting it go.)

Biles definitely has received F credit for that barani in the past too, but if you want to give her F credit for sure now instead of just sometimes-mostly-ish-in-the-US-probably, then go for it.

Simone’s current routine composition fares very well in the new code. She does drop some tenths (the wolf 2.5 downgrade and D+A elimination take her down a total of 0.3), but critically, she would make that value back in other places without any composition changes.

Switch+switch 1/2+back pike picks up an extra tenth because of the new mixed-series bonus, and the new dismount CV is basically made for her. Without any composition changes at all, her total CV would actually increase.

Laurie Hernandez’s routine is a somewhat different tale.

Note: this video is of her championships routine, but the chart below uses her updated composition from later in the summer because it’s more interesting and more current, with the bhs+bhs+double pike replaced by round-off+double pike, and the lost tenth made up with an additional wolf out of the front tuck.

Laurie Hernandez
2016 2017
Front pike – E Front pike – E
Aerial + sissone + split – D+A+A = 0.1 CV Aerial + sissone + split – D+A+A
Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV
Sheep – D Sheep – C
Front tuck + wolf – D+A = 0.1 CV Front tuck + wolf – D+A
Side aerial – D Side aerial – D
Switch split + switch 1/2 – C+D = 0.1 CV Switch split + switch 1/2 – C+D = 0.1 CV
Switch ring – E Switch ring – E
Round-off + double pike – B+E Round-off + double pike – B+E
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – EEDDD – 2.2 Acro – EEDDD – 2.2
Dance – EDD – 1.3 Dance – EDC – 1.2
CV – 0.5 CV – 0.3
Total D – 6.5 Total D – 5.7

Laurie does not get off the hook quite as easily as Simone. She also loses D+A tenths and another tenth from the downgrade of the sheep (making that skill essentially worthless—time to learn a new D dance element everyone), but unlike Simone, Laurie’s current composition doesn’t make up those tenths anywhere else.

When Laurie returns in the next quad (when), I anticipate that learning a more difficult beam dismount will be a very high priority. Without it, she’s in danger of falling behind. Solely because she doesn’t get dismount CV, she goes from being two tenths behind Simone in 2016 to five tenths behind under the new code.

(We may have wondered about the advisability of Ragan Smith trying to add that Patterson in 2016, but it’s SOOO the 2017 code.)

Let’s talk about Aly.

Aly Raisman
2016 2017
Front pike + wolf – E+A = 0.1 CV Front pike + wolf – E+A
Bhs + layout – B+E = 0.1 CV Bhs + layout – B+E = 0.1 CV
Switch split + back tuck – C+C = 0.1 CV Switch split + back tuck – C+C
Side aerial – D Side aerial – D
Switch 1/2 – D Switch 1/2 – D
Front tuck + split – D+A = 0.1 CV Front tuck + split – D+B = 0.1
L spin + single spin – C+A = 0.1 CV L spin + single spin – C+A = 0.1 CV
Round-off + Patterson – B+G Round-off + Patterson – B+G = 0.2 CV
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – GEEDD – 2.5 Acro – GEEDD – 2.5
Dance – DCC – 1.0 Dance – DCC – 1.0
CV – 0.5 CV – 0.5
Total D – 6.5 Total D – 6.0

Parts of the new code are no friend to Raisman, but not all of it. In 2016, Raisman was using a crapload of those random 0.1 CVs to get her D score into the competitive zone and will now have to adjust for their demise in a couple places. In addition to the loss of a D acro + A dance, she won’t get CV for the switch split + back tuck either, a combination that must now include one D element to get bonus.

Like Simone, however, Raisman is saved by the dismount and the additional 0.2 that will come from connecting a round-off to a Patterson.

As alluded to in the code write-up, a Patterson is now worth four tenths more than a double pike: two tenths because of the skill value and two more tenths for the automatic connection. No one is doing a Patterson from standing.

The biggest victim of the new code may be Flavia Saraiva, as best illustrated by her attempted 6.8 difficulty from the Test Event.

Flavia Saraiva
2016 2017
Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV
Round-off + layout – B+E = 0.1 CV Round-off + layout – B+E = 0.1 CV
Switch split + split – C+A Switch split + split – C+A
Switch ring + sheep – E+D = 0.2 CV Switch ring + sheep – E+C = 0.1 CV
Punch front + wolf – D+A = 0.1 CV Punch front + wolf – D+A
Aerial + aerial + side somi – D+D+D = 0.3 CV Aerial + aerial + side somi – D+D+D = 0.1 CV
Round-off + double pike – B+E Round-off + double pike – B+E
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – EEDDD – 2.2 Acro – EEDDD – 2.2
Dance – EDC – 1.2 Dance – ECC – 1.1
CV – 0.9 CV – 0.5
Total D – 6.8 Total D – 5.8

Saraiva’s routine would drop a full point in the new quad because she basically does every single thing that has been downgraded in the official 2017 NONE FOR FLAVIA BYE Code of Points.

She loses two tenths of non-rebounding connection, another because of D+A, and two more for the downgrade of the sheep jump (one for the skill and one for the combination since it’s no longer D+D, which is required to get two tenths).

Saraiva is fully capable of getting back up there with the top Ds, but she’ll basically want to scrap the second half of this routine and start over.

By contrast, Eythora almost gets Flavia-ed by the new code, but she is saved by her dismount and spins.

Eythora Thorsdottir
2016 2017
Sissone + side aerial + swingdown – A+D+B = 0.1 CV Sissone + side aerial + swingdown – A+D+B
Split ring + sheep – D+D = 0.2 CV Split ring + sheep – D+C = 0.1 CV
Illusion – D Illusion – D
Split leap + aerial – A+D = 0.1 CV Split leap + aerial – B+D = 0.1 CV
L spin + switch split + Y spin + single spin – C+C+C+A = 0.3 CV L spin + switch split + Y spin + single spin – C+C+C+A = 0.4 CV
Round-off + triple full – B+F Round-off + triple full – B+F = 0.2 CV
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – FDD – 1.4 Acro – FDD – 1.4
Dance – DDDCC – 1.8 Dance – DDCCC – 1.7
CV – 0.7 CV – 0.8
Total D – 6.4 Total D – 5.9

The new code is not that happy with Eythora’s composition. It’s not having this sissone + side aerial nonsense or this sheep jump nonsense, but as was pointed out in the comments, the split leap becomes a B in the new code (BECAUSE WHY), so that’s still eligible for connection tenths when paired with D acro.

And yet, the new code saves Eythora like an endangered swan because she has an F dismount, and because the code is still desperately in love with spin combinations.

By my reading of the new series bonus rules, Eythora’s L spin + switch split + Y spin combo would qualify for an additional series-bonus tenth since dance elements can be used now. But we’ll have to see. Are spins definitely part of that?

In general, the most effectively HUGE-D beam routines in the next quad will have F or G dismounts and will also take advantage of three-element mixed dance/acro combinations that can get individual CV as well as a series bonus. So basically Simone’s exact routine.

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Bars Scores: Pretty Cracky, Right?

Right. Let’s get into it.

If, upon subjecting yourself to some of the bars execution scores from the Olympics, you began formulating questions like, “Huh?” “What?” and “How’s your crack addiction?” you were not alone.

To me, the most unexpected scoring-related development at the Olympics was those massive bars scores (high vault scores and beam taking forever were both way too predictable), especially compared to previous years.

This table lists the average execution scores awarded this quad during all world/Olympic finals (team, AA, and event) on each apparatus.

Year VT Execution UB Execution BB Execution FX Execution
2016 9.027 8.549 8.267 8.324
2015 9.097 8.259 7.906 8.338
2014 8.933 8.150 8.179 8.058
2013 8.962 7.848 7.716 8.117

We have some degree of Land of the Rising Scores happening on all the events compared to 2013, which is consistent with the 2012 quad when the execution scores were alarmingly low in 2009 and rose progressively from there. Continue reading Bars Scores: Pretty Cracky, Right?

Things Are (Still) Happening – August 19, 2016

A. RIP Olympics

The first step is saying the words out loud. The Olympics are over. While no one is expecting you to be emotionally prepared to move on quite yet, the end of the Olympics doesn’t have to mean the end of joy. There are still a number of Olympic postmortem issues we’ll need to work through (remember Seda?), a 2017-2020 code to have a lot of deep feelings about, and sooner than you think, the NCAA season.

If you’re new to the site as of this year’s Olympic process, welcome! I’m delighted to have you. Now be advised that NCAA gymnastics is the cool jam around here, and I’m going to force you to become obsessed with it whether you like it or not. It’s the best. A wonderful complement to modern elite. It’s like if gymnastics still used the 1992 code and the Unified Team and Romania competed against each other every weekend, except with a lot more temp tattoos and erratic and unprompted screaming to make fun of. And if you enjoy melting into a pool of sludge about crack-a-doo judging, NCAA gym is more than here for you. You’ll have a blast.

The thing I love most about NCAA when compared to modern elite is the increased stakes on every single skill. In elite, difficulty is decisive enough that whether Laurie Hernandez nails her layout stepout on beam or has a one-tenth check is sort of incidental. As long as there are no major errors, her score is going to be fine. In NCAA, a one-tenth wobble is the difference between an amazing routine and a disastrous one. The stakes on every single landing are gigantic, not just to hit it but to hit it ideally, resurrecting that feeling of constant tension and urgency through every movement that has been lost in the era of US elite dominance.

So, if you haven’t been drinking the NCAA Kool-Aid, pull up a chair and grab a glass. Let me be your guide. You’ll never be the same. In a good way. Mostly.

B. Ding Dong the Yurchenko Arabian Is Dead

Our long national nightmare is finally over. The NCAA Committee decided to release its adjustments to the 2016-2017 rules right in the middle of the Olympics so that exactly no one would be paying attention (solid work as usual), but it redeemed itself by doing the sensible thing (WHAT?!?!?!?!?!) and bringing all variations of the Yurchenko 1/2, arabian or otherwise, down to a 9.950 start value. Continue reading Things Are (Still) Happening – August 19, 2016

Olympic Preview — Team USA

I feel like I’ve been missing something in these previews. It’s nagging at me. Some fun underdog I’m ignoring, some minor outside medal contender that probably doesn’t have a shot but deserves at least a pity mention.

Oh that’s right. The US.

Previewing the US is an altogether different prospect than previewing the other teams because, in addressing the US medal prospects, it’s no longer about “potentially maybe could.” The US will win the team final, and Biles will win the all-around. Trying to create a scenario where either of those things doesn’t happen requires so many “what if” contortions and imagined mistakes that it’s not even worth going into. It’s still sports and anything can happen, but come on. It’s all about likelihood, and the likelihood of both these wins is offensively high.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t still things to talk about. Like, say, the qualification lineups. Buckle up.

Team
Simone Biles – Reigning Simone Biles 2013-2015
Gabby Douglas – Probably hasn’t accomplished anything, at least that I can remember, who is she?
Laurie Hernandez – Nicknamed “the human Shakira,” really needs to work on her shyness
Madison Kocian – Like…bars?, her leg fell off in February but she’s fine
Aly Raisman – Team great-grandmother, apparently turning 98, wheeled around the nursing home under a quilt because Nana gets cold

Projected Olympic Lineups Continue reading Olympic Preview — Team USA

2016 Olympic Trials Part 2: Martha’s a Little Teapot

And we’re back. It’s the final night of Olympic Trials, and in just a few short hours, Biles, Douglas, Raisman, Hernandez, and Kocian I mean, five definitely-not-already-decided athletes will learn that they have made the Olympic team.

As is only traditional, the final night of the most significant US gymnastics competition in four years begins with a deferential acknowledgement of the biggest star in all of gymnastics.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 1.42.46 PM

I, of course, am referring to Bela Karolyi. Who is here because of reasons.

He touched Simone on the shoulder. OMG THAT’S HOW SHE DOES IT. BELA HAS ANOTHER ONE.

“Just about everything you’re going to see tonight matters,” Al says. But not everything, he adds, as Maggie Nichols falls through the trap door and into the piranha dungeon. Another one bites the dust.

OK, can we please discuss the HEART OF THE OCEAN that Trautwig is wearing on his finger? Damn, that thing makes Nastia’s rock look like an idiot.

rock1

So, Princess Al of Monaco welcomes us to the competition, at which point we learn what an utter shitstorm Gabby Douglas has been, and there are probably other people in the meet too I guess. Anyway, she has to hit 4-for-4 tonight, otherwise she should basically go compete for Belarus and will never make the team ever. Continue reading 2016 Olympic Trials Part 2: Martha’s a Little Teapot

2016 Olympic Trials Part 1: The Night of Uber Important Water Cups

The competition may be over, but NBC’s coverage is forever. Chilling. The hard truths.

As I wallowed in the stands in San Jose, painfully cut off from the sage judgment of Trautwig and his merry band of colored shapes, I felt lost, bereft, confused. Entirely powerless to interpret the events unfolding before me. Was that disaster “ginormous” or “of epic proportions”? Is Laurie Hernandez “hot stuff” or “one fun kid”? I JUST DON’T KNOW. I could only sit and imagine what eloquent turns of phrase were being inflicted upon the audience at that very moment.

Now, through the magic of the internet, I am in the dark no longer. Won’t you join me for day 1? Once more, into the flames.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.22.31 AM

Christ the Redeemer Statue: 1, Brenna Dowell: 0

As the broadcast begins, Trautwig the Redeemer transforms back into his human form to welcome us to San Jose, the Jan Brady of California, and introduce the only three gymnasts competing for spots on the five-woman Olympic team. LOCKS!

He presents Simone Biles, who is good, Gabby Douglas, who is literal trash, and Aly Raisman, who failed like a rotten failure in the all-around in 2012. Because that’s her defining career moment. Continue reading 2016 Olympic Trials Part 1: The Night of Uber Important Water Cups

Post-Championships Olympic Prospects

So…what happened at nationals? Nothing? Probably nothing.

A. YAWNSVILLE

Simone did Simone things and was brilliant in spite of taking up arms for World War III about her day 2 wobblefest beam routine. This is the major problem with NBC basically bestowing her with five automatic gold medals. Beam is still beam. “Oh, you only won four gold medals at the Olympics? Loser disappointment.”

Aly Raisman also received 5 out of 5 brick houses for bringing back Steady Aly to a degree we haven’t seen since 2012. Her eight routines were all exact duplicates of each other, just like we expect from her. It may be a hologram-fraud situation. MIHAI IS A CHARLATAN.

B. ???

Mostly, we need to talk about NBC’s team graphic, which made every human go, “But really?” and featured a wildly haphazard and truly offensive number of superfluous question marks. A) Three question marks is always too many question marks in a non-ironic context. One question mark will suffice. B) I definitely don’t have that many question marks about this team.

Laurie Hernandez came to nationals with a chance to confirm her spot on the Olympic team by hitting her normal routines, which she did. Tying Raisman on the first day and finishing third overall simply reinforced that she has become an integral part of the team at the level of Raisman and Douglas. She’s not Plan B. She’s Plan A.

C. OMG DOUGLAS IS HORRIBLE GARBAGE AND SHOULD BE NOTHING AND THE ALTERNATE Continue reading Post-Championships Olympic Prospects

Women’s P&G Championship Preview

Onward we travel to Women Part 2: The One That’s Slightly More Meaningful Than the Last One. It’s nationals, which means everyone needs to start trying now, doing the all-around, and maybe showing an Amanar or something. At the classic, we didn’t get any desperately chucked Amanars. I mean, come on. What is wrong with you people?

Classic did provide partial answers to a few pressing Olympic questions, but for the most part, I gave it a C- because of how many people didn’t compete events I wanted them to. (The most frequently competed floor skill at Secret Classic was nothing.) One routine? What are we even supposed to do with that? Nationals will be better.

While it’s not the final step in the Martha-brick road—we’ll hear a lot about how everyone is supposed to be at 90% this weekend (Oh no! I was competing at 92%! What will I do?!?!)—nationals will be the first legitimate opportunity to compare everyone on all the events at the same time and will provide our most viable glimpse so far of what a top three on each event might be.

But until then, we still have a number of wispy, ghostlike issues that hopefully will look a good deal more corporeal by this time next week.

1. Minnesota Maygie

The Queen in the North’s meniscus is easily one of the top-five most famous cartilaginous clumps in US gymnastics history. It has single-handedly provided us with nearly all the uncertainty and meritless speculation we could have ever wanted from an Olympic selection process. Maggie Nichols’ level of competitiveness will be the single most important piece of new information we get from nationals.

Expectations should be tempered. Not only is it unrealistic to think that she’ll be all 2015 Worlds coming right off knee surgery, but this is also more or less her classic. She’s on a displaced timetable and won’t necessarily be expected to roll into St. Louis and perform at exactly 91.3% like the others. Nichols’ true competition of consequence will be Olympic Trials.

At the same time, we did learn an important lesson in 2012 from Nastia, who taught us that Sprawling Hair Shanty Town is the new bun. Also that even though we might say, “It’s just nationals. There’s still time to put together a bars dismount before trials,” mmmm…not that much time.

It’s unrealistic to expect a massive change in level in just two weeks. People don’t tend to upgrade between nationals and trials. I have to think that Nichols needs to show all her intended difficulty (*cough* Amanar *cough*) at least in podium training at nationals, especially while living in Martha’s Funhouse of Verification and Proving Yourself.

2. Koclear – How important is D? Continue reading Women’s P&G Championship Preview

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.

All-Around

pcaa

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

Secret Classic Preview

It’s happening. No turning back now.

Secret Classic. This Saturday. The biggest little competition in gymnastics. I say that because classic isn’t really…important. It doesn’t matter who wins. If you screw it up royally, you can still become world champion later that year. And the popular kids totally only do bars and beam, anyway.

For reference, if we look back to 2012 Secret Classic, Douglas did three events and messed up beam, Wieber did two events and messed up bars, Anna Li fell on bars, and Ebee had several natural disasters on both beam and floor, all of which we remembered exactly zero percent once we got to nationals and trials when it was ALTERNATE SPOTS FOR EVERYONE. So, I would caution against reading too much into the inevitable falls we’ll see at classic. People can (and do) come back from them later in the summer.

At the same time, this competition will set the tone for the composition choices we’ll see this year (if you have an upgrade, it needs to be shown yesterday), which will better separate realistic from unrealistic team permutations and clarify who are the favorites versus the challengers.

It’s also just plain exciting because OLYMPIC SEASON YOU GUYS. Classic is the beginning of the end of this journey…

Oh no. No. I feel a fluff piece coming on. Can’t stop it. Run. Save yourself.

“It begins [PAUSE] as a dream. [CHALK BUCKET. ADJUSTING GRIPS TO INDICATE HARD WORK.] But for five young women [PAUSE] what was once no more than a fleeting fantasy [BLURRY BLACK-AND-WHITE FILTER OVER THE CHEERING CROWDS OF GABBY’S 2012 WIN], is just a few short weeks from reality. [COLOR AND RESOLUTION RESTORED. COPACABANA BEACH.] Rio de Janeiro. [CHRIST THE REDEEMER STATUE.] All those long nights, spent bathed in golden dreams of a land called Rio, come down to this. [TIME LAPSE OF ARENA FILLING UP. WATCHFUL EYES OF MARTHA KAROLYI] A vault. [MARONEY’S 2012] A stick. [SIMONE STICKING THE BILES] …A lifetime. [BACK TO THE GYM. SOLITARY FIGURE REMOVES TAPE IN THE CORNER AS THE LIGHTS TURN OFF.]”

OK, now that we’ve got that out of my system, for the hour at least, here are a few of the routines and people I’m most interested by and will have the keenest vulture eyes on during Saturday’s Secret Classic.

1. The Gabbanar and the Raismanar

So much of the team composition (whether Hernandez or Nichols is better suited to help the team, whether a bars specialist is required to up the D score), will be decided by how many people have viable Amanars. Nothing that occurs this weekend will be more critical than the State of the Amanars Address.

There’s no guarantee that everyone will do every event, especially the leg events, but I have to think that Proof of Amanar is among the top priorities for all the top non-Simones. Nichols isn’t competing, meaning we’ll have to wait to see where she is on her vault journey (it begins as a dream…), but Raisman and Douglas can set the vaulting tone. Continue reading Secret Classic Preview