Sunday 4 August 2013

More bad news! But some good

I'm sure plenty of people are aware of this but it's news to me as a new gymnastics fan, and presumably others too. At worlds qualifications in Antwerp, (and any post-Olympics worlds) only 3 gymnasts per country can compete each event. This means that there isn't room for 3 gymnasts to battle it out for the all around final and have a fourth specialist compete for her chance in event finals. First of all, this truly makes Maria Paseka redundant this year since Ksenia Afanasyeva can equal or better her vaults while also being a floor favourite, whereas Paseka can only challenge on vault. Unfortunately for Afan, this also means that she's highly unlikely to compete all-around if Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina are fighting fit, unless they only bring these three gymnasts. This is now an ideal opportunity for Anastasia Grishina to impress on beam and bars with some upgrades- I wrote her off before since without upgrades she cannot challenge for a medal anywhere, and while she probably still won't they'll be happy enough to give her the chance I think.

It's no bother to Romania who are only bringing three girls but it makes US Nationals more important as it will effectively decide their second all-arounder, as they also cannot have Simone Biles, Kyla Ross and Brenna Dowell/ Peyton Ernst/ Elizabeth Price battling it out in qualifications. This makes the inclusion of a beam/bars specialist like Peyton Ernst/Abigail Milliet or a healthy Katelyn Ohashi more likely than I previously thought as a team dominated by strong vault/floor workers makes less sense than ever since they can't all compete for the chance to qualify, let alone qualify. For me, despite her strong performance and some floor upgrades, it also betters the case of Kyla not competing the all-around since if you think about it, her floor and vault spots are practically a waste when you consider what the US have in store on those events. Not a particularly popular opinion and I will absolutely shed it IF Kyla has more upgrades in store and really closes the door on anyone else doing the all-around in her stead. Of course, Simone Biles could implode completely as an all-arounder and have to fight McKayla Maroney for a vault/floor spot...there are a lot of possibilities.

For China, it is a golden opportunity for any floor/vault specialists for they cannot have a team where they're all vying for beam and bars spots. If Tan Jiaxin and Sui Lu do well at National Games and if the latter is happy to delay her retirement, they make the most sense since Tan has two strong vaults (DTY/ Tsuk 2/1) as well as a very good hope of making bars finals for which she can battle Yao Jinnan and Shang Chunsong for in qualifications, while not interfering with Sui Lu's chances of similarly battling Yao and Shang for a beam finals spot and potentially floor. Zeng Siqi is still a logical pick for a beam spot though she will need to be back on the National Team by then, but she's not useful on another in short I'm really looking forward to National Games more than ever.

Let the various Nationals/Cups begin!

The good news which is widespread by now is of course that Chellsie Memmel will be competing in power tumbling, aiming for a worlds spot. Chellsie, despite being substantially decorated, never received her rightful Olympics experience thanks to injuries and also never received her due from USAG despite saving them at no less than two world championships team finals with some individual medals- including two world titles- thrown in for good measure. She was of course unfairly treated last year, and I had thought with her subsequent retirement, barely-there Pro Gymnastics Challenge appearance, long career filled with injuries and last but not least, upcoming wedding, that we had seen the last of her in a competitive gymnastics way at least. But underestimate her at your peril! I'd love to have been a fly on the wall when certain people in USAG got wind of this. Power tumbling worlds is pretty close but presumably, she didn't begin training just last week or when she broke the news. Really looking forward to seeing how she gets on in her training and if she doesn't make the worlds team, rest assured CFM remains more of a BAMF than ever. I don't usually use acronyms and I tend not to swear here...but these ones just flow when mentioning this inspirational, incredible gymnast. Go Chellsie!


  1. I think Paseka still has a shot. First off, I don't know if that 3/event will apply on vault since technically the other athletes aren't qualifying for VT EF. Unless another Russian has 2 vaults which would make things VERY interesting. It does give Grishina a better shot.

    Think this rule also makes the US bars/beam spot more interesting and also makes me VERY curious how McKayla will do in the all around. That shuffles things around a lot. I mean, imagine if she beats Kyla or places top 3!

    1. It won't make a distinction between who is doing two vaults and who isn't, it will still be 3 gymnasts on vault full stop. Unfortunately I think Paseka's only shot now this year is injury to someone else.

      I really can't see McKayla factoring into the all-around this year, but stranger things have happened! Very hard to know without her bars/beam start values. Can the upcoming meets get anymore exciting??? I can't wait!

  2. I am really disappointment with the rules because they can't actually fight for the AA spots.

    I say Paseka has no chance. Vika and Aliya get the AA spots, so they fill up two of the spots on each event already. Afan gets the remaining vault and floor spots. Nastya gets the remaining bars and beam spots even if she is a headcase. Masha just can't fill in anywhere with these rules.

    On the US side, if they take McKayla, Simone, Brenna/Ebee, and Kyla, someone is getting left out. On vault, all of them have amanars, besides Kyla. Kyla wants an AA spot though. McKayla and Simone get vault spots, but who do you give the last one to? Brenna/Ebee and Kyla want to do AA. That isn't going to work! On bars, Kyla and Simone get spots. The last spot could go to Ebee/Brenna or if McKayla is able to do AA well at Nationals, maybe her. Beam is Kyla, Simone, and really anyone. On floor, Kyla has the same problem. She wants to do AA, but she isn't as strong on floor. You can have any of them on floor, but Kyla is going to be the weakest. I am not seeing Kyla getting an AA spot unless she does the amanar. I see Simone or Ebee/Brenna, even McKayla if she hits.

    Romania is only sending 3 gymnasts, so they should be fine in quals line up.

    China needs a vault/floor specialist like you said. I see Shang and Yao doing AA. Tan Jiaxin can do floor/vt/bars. Zeng Siqi can do beam.

    1. Tan Jiaxin's floor is a bit up in the air. Vault power doesn't automatically translate. It's a new event for her, sure would be interesting if she nails it at Nationals and if Zeng is the fourth girl since if it's Sui, she'll get the third floor spot.

      USA's team is really a mess to configure. Sure, we can pretty much say that Kyla, Simone and McKayla are locks but not if Simone biffs in the AA again and what capacity is Kyla going in? Who is the fourth girl? Will Brenna/Ebee's execution get slaughtered in Antwerp anyway so any difficulty lead they have over Kyla become null? Can Kyla upgrade? It just raises more questions than answers..

    2. I know! USA is so confusing! There is also the chance that McKayla could be an AA threat, but I wouldn't bet on it. She is too inconsistent in the AA.

  3. With the US, The AA competition has always been the first priority. The US will always send 2 all-arounders. That leave spots for 2 specialists. Kyla will get the nod for one of the AA spots regardless of her difficulty for this reason: she has placed in the top 2 spots in the AA in every competition she has competed in this year, even beating people with relatively higher difficulty. Of she continues to place in the top 2 at nationals and the selection camp, she will get the spot. Plus, it will help to have her as a leader to set an example for the lesser experienced 2nd all-arounder.

    As for the 2nd AA spot, this was guaranteed to Simone Biles (Ohashi is injured) until she revealed that she still has consistency issues. Is as hits at Nationals and the selection camps, then I believe it will still go to her. Mckayla Maroney will get the FX/VT spot and Ernst/Dowell/Milliet will be left to battle for the UB/BB spot. The thing is, USA doesn't really have a good UB/BB specialist other than Ohashi and Ross, so one thing they might do is forget that Spot, and have Maroney compete only vault. Then they could bring someone like Lexie Preisman for FX only, and have Ross and Biles compete AA. Ross can make AA, UB, and BB finals. Biles can make AA, VT, FX, and have an outside shot at BB and UB finals. Maroney can make VT finals and Preisman can make FX finals. I guess we'll see!

    1. Kyla needs mistakes from others to beat them. It comes to the same thing, her consistency gets her rewards..but it's not the same thing exactly. She would not be my pick for the AA as I don't like her gymnastics, I'd prefer Brenna and what I really wanted is those two and Simone fighting for the two spots in prelims. That is what all teams with more than the required amount of strong all-arounders do and is precisely what the US did last year. I realise that Kyla will deserve her AA spot, I would just prefer both spots to be won in prelims than already decided.

      Well it will be between Ernst and Milliet really, since Dowell's beam is not great. And that sucks, because she's an excellent floor and bars worker and has an amanar to boost her AA score. I just don't like the fact gymnasts like her, Lexie, Peyton or Ebee will more than likely not have the chance to potentially be the second all-arounder.

    2. I did know about this rule, and I definitely agree that it sucks. It would be great to give someone like Ebee or Brenna of Lexie a shot in the AA and be able to see whether or not their execution actually does get slaughtered. If not, they could beat Kyla. If so, they probably cannot beat her unless she falls, and as we all know, she rarely does that.

      I do agree with Rod that the AA is going to be Marta's priority, and that she will choose two gymnasts for that and fill in around them. I have wondered if Marta might hedge her bets with Kyla and Simone -- one gymnast with very high difficulty who could win it all if she hits, and one more consistent gymnast with lower difficulty who could win it all if other people fall. One wild card, one sure bet. But who knows. Maybe Marta doesn't think that way. If Simone implodes at Nationals, though, we might get to see Lexie or Brenna or Ebee in the AA after all. (I actually think my ideal imaginary team would be Simone and Ebee in AA, with Kyla on UB/BB and McKayla on VT/FX, but that seems unlikely given Ebee's injury. I just really want Ebee to get her chance to shine on the world stage, and this seemed like her year.)

      I do think the medal potential will determine the specialists, which is why McKayla seems so likely. If Katelyn Ohashi is able to get better in time for camp and verify beam, I think she might go to Worlds just for that. McKayla could go up on bars for an attempt in addition to her floor and vault tries. Otherwise, maybe Abigail Milliet, since she has the potential to score above 15 and perhaps contend for a medal. Or anyone who can put up a great, world-class score on an event other than vault at Nationals. It really is a shame that Katelyn Ohashi is injured, as she would fit in so well as a beam/bars person.

    3. Yes the 2005 and 2009 teams filled in around the all-arounders for the US, it's just that they weren't near as deep then in general! Kyla and Simone are a good combination when you put it like that. Right now Brenna has an 0.6 difficulty lead on Kyla from Classics, though she broke connections there on bars and beam so it could be a point or so. Lexie has an 0.8 lead on Kyla IF she does an amanar and a 5.9 beam, but she has more upgrades planned. It makes Nationals more interesting than ever.

      This should really be Katelyn's year, this format is made for her. Very unfortunate timing but she could get beam back in time.

    4. You know, I wasn't really sold on Brenna after Classics for some reason, but I just went back and watched her routines and now I feel differently. She really is so talented, and in looking back, I think she was a bit underscored on everything except for vault at Classics. She did have some small errors everywhere, though (little steps and OOB on floor, wobbles on beam, step on bars and extra swing after the missed connection) and if she could clean those up and make her connections, she could probably score half a point higher on every apparatus (except vault). That would put her right up with Kyla. But of course Kyla had a fall. Of course, you already know all this! But maybe, as you originally thought, Brenna could make the team as a sort of back up AA gymnast. She could train all 4 in podium training, and then if someone was injured or looking off in podium training, Brenna could do AA. If not, she could do all but VT. Really, though, I have no idea. It seems unlikely to me that Brenna could medal on any event at Worlds. I feel like she could make multiple finals, but couldn't really contend with the very best.

      I am conflicted.

    5. Brenna is so hardworking and solid and has improved so much, check out her bars in 2012 and now even. She has flourished while the other GAGE girls have been injured and I just want good things for her ha. She certainly would not medal in bars without numerous falls from others, but she could make it- I think her routine will do Tweddle half-Ezhova, like Tweddle herself since the straddle back doesn't give connection bonus. Her floor to me is a medal contender, but then there are soo many medal contenders on floor this year.

      She stands out to me in the AA moreso than individually. I'm not convinced she would get slaughtered in execution in Antwerp, sure maybe, but people have been waiting years for Aly Raisman to be hammered execution wise and it just hasn't happened, except Jesolo last year.

      I feel like Kyla will absolutely deserve the AA spot even moreso with some more upgrades on beam and bars (I feel like she's been at roughly the same level for years now whereas the others have shot ahead) but that Brenna deserves the chance..

  4. I don't think it matters that Kyla's vt/fx are a "waste" because only 2 gymnasts from each country can make it into event finals. Keep in mind that there is no team competition. Because Kyla doesn't perform two different vaults, she wouldn't make it into vault finals, giving the other AA gymnast (i.e. Simone) and another (i.e. McKayla) to make it into vault finals. The same for floor-- because Kyla doesn't have the best chance of making the floor finals, Simone and McKayla are able to compete in floor finals (if of course they have a high enough score). Don't count Kyla out of AA contention just because her vt/fx aren't high scoring enough! Remember there is no team competition and only the top two scoring gymnasts can make it into finals

    1. I know well there's no team competition or more than 2 per final. That doesn't change the fact that more than 2 can compete for those spots in prelims. I want more girls to be given that chance, so of course this is bad news for me and anyone else who it was news for. It doesn't matter that Kyla is not performing two vaults, she still has to vault, so only two other girls can vault. Same with floor, your intentions don't matter- it's still one of the three total spots since it's neccessary for the all around as well as event finals.

      I know that Kyla can do well in the all around. She wouldn't be my choice for the spot but I can indeed recognise that. If she had more upgrades it would be great as I don't believe she can score 60 at the moment.

    2. Makes sense about giving other girls the opportunity to make it into vt/fx finals but I have a feeling Marta doesn't think like that.. :(

      But yeah I agree that Kyla can't score 60+. I was really hoping she'd upgrade a lot, especially floor. IF she's put in for AA hopefully she can at least get a bronze..

      I guess we'll just see how everything works out.
      Love the rest of your blog by the way-- very informative. Keep up the good work (:

    3. Looking back at Brenna's scores in the Classics..I think they could be an indicator that the spot is Kyla's. I'm not big into conspiracy theories but I'd think there could be something there. Maybe.

      Floor is just not her event. She's not a great tumbler, twister, turner..and not big on endurance either. Bars and beam is really what she needs. She should be able to get her bars up to 6.6/7, and her beam significantly up, she downgraded it at Classics and only did a 5.7 routine. 6.4 would be nice there.

      Thanks! :) I'm coming close to the end of super-amounts-of-time-to-blog but I will still post..

  5. Twist!
    What if the US only took three girls? I know this will NEVER happen, but speculating is ALWAYS fun! :)

    Kyla - AA, Bars, Beam
    McKayla - AA, Vault, Floor, maybe Beam? who knows
    Simone / Peyton / Katelyn / Ebee / Brenna / etc - AA, Vault, Floor, Beam, Bars

    Of course, this would be banking on the idea that the third person could make finals in everything... which seems pretty unlikely. It also means that McKayla's bars or beam will be up to scratch. Again, this won't happen. But if it did, who would you pick for a three person US team?

    1. I would take Simone, McKayla and Brenna.

      Simone- AA, VT, FX (UB and BB attempts)
      McKayla- VT, FX attempts
      Brenna- AA, (UB, FX attempts)

      Kyla and Brenna's AA medal chances would I think be fairly similar but in this case Brenna has more of a shot at EF medals than Kyla..

  6. Good for Afan, I love her (floor especially, although Kazan left me somewhat underwhelmed - I'm hoping for more of her trademark dace elements for worlds). She just keeps getting better with age, which is great for her after she felt redundant following her Beijing disappointment.

    I'm really excited about US nationals now, there are so many possible scenarios. Part of me is wondering if Martha will give an AA slot to Kyla anyway even if there are better performers on the day (unless it were a disastrous Biles-style competition for her, of course, but I doubt it), to keep her motivated. For the time being she needs her as a bars worker. I'm thinking ahead to the next potential team situations already. If Kyla didn't make the world team now, I wonder if she'd keep going until Rio or if she'd go off to college. For her there are real alternatives. Until it is clear when other strong bars workers will be back in the mix, Marta might want to keep Kyla happy just for that purpose.

    Italy is holding its selection camp at the moment, and UK trials are starting this week. What is your prediction for them? It's really difficult without knowing what shape the girls are in, it's been a while since we've seen them in competition (and we won't until the end of the month). I guess they'll go for two AA slots and two bars specialists. No chance to challenge for medals (or at least finals) on any other event. Not until Ellie Downie is a senior, then things might become more interesting - looks like she has her Amanar ready to debut in competition! So I guess Becky Downie and Harrold for bars. And the AA spots to be decided between Whelan, Tunney and Fellows. Although Ruby might be in the mix for an AA spot after her good Euros performance? I don't really want to think about Rippin, I don't see her in the mix, not a fan of her gymnastics. Will be interesting to see where the likes of Romaeo or Teaker fit in, if they have any chance to challenge for a spot.

    1. I'm also hoping for more choreo from her, but if you look at it from the coaches point of view- she wasn't rewarded for it last year, so why bother when they can use the time and energy to up the d-score with turn combinations etc. Conservation of energy is important and it's the same reason why routines like Laurie Hernandez' will deteriorate, her tumbles are big but when her routine is maxed tumbling wise she's unlikely to have the same amount of energy invested in her dance as she does now.

      Yes I'm more inclined to think that Kyla will be handed the spot now too, not so much before when I thought there'd be a scrap for the second spot- Kyla has proved herself in that regard, and only really Ebee has valuable competitive experience as an all-arounder, and her AA status is in question.

      GB can't send two bars specialists, since only 3 can do bars in prelims and the two all-arounders will be in the mix too. The problem is, they don't have any shining beacons of hope on the other events just yet. I think their team will be Hannah and Rebecca for the AA with Rebecca in the hunt for some event finals spots too, either Ruby Harrold or Becky Downie for the bars spot which will be interesting since they both have around the same hit record. The fourth spot..they may not bother, but if they do Rippin would indeed have a good shot. Or Romaeo if she hits beam but I'm not really impressed with the new seniors apart from Jupp who is just so talented and whyyy does she have to be injured :(

      As for Italy, they are beam/floor heavy so a team of Ferrari, Ferlito, Meneghini, Campana does not make brilliant sense. They have some decent bars workers so I think they'll bring one of them- Gandolfi/De'Agostini?? Or a vaulter like Bugani. I think Ferrari and Ferlito will do the AA, Meneghini try to qualify for beam and floor and the fourth girl either vault or bars.

    2. It will be so interesting to see Great Britain in 2015. I think they will really be able to contend with the top nations when Tyesha Mattis and Ellie Downie turn senior, especially with a healthy Gabby Jupp. It would be really nice to see them break into the top 4, if they continue to improve I do think they have the potential in 2015

    3. And 2016 with Catherine Lyons! And Georgia Mae Fenton when she turns senior. Enormous potential with their power gymnasts and elegant girls. I'd love to see them make the top 4 the top 5.

    4. I don't know about Laurie Hernandez's floor deteriorating. She's got a D-score of 5.9 now, which is the same as McKayla Maroney's.

    5. I meant that it's unlikely we will see such a high amount of choreo/dance/performance in her routines in say 2 years. She's a junior for a few more years but especially with growth, she will more than likely scale it down to conserve her energy for tumbling. Many, many expressive juniors have dull routines as seniors for the same reason. Like Grishina, they practically killed her choreo.

  7. I completely agree with whoever said this would be Katelyn Ohashi's year. I also think that if she can even put together a beam routine by worlds selection camp, she'll be on the team because she has the best chance of challenging for a beam medal. However, it looks unlikely right now as she doesn't seem to be training seriously and seems to still be recovering.

    I think Elizabeth Price is unlikely to make the team after being out of competition for a year. She would really have to be extra impressive at nationals, for Marta to consider putting her on the team, which is a shame because so many people were really hoping for this to be her year after her phenomenal performance last year. Same for finnegan, she could've gone for beam this year if she was healthy :(

    I personally think the team will be comprised of Maroney, Biles, Ross and either Priessman or Ernst.

    Priessman can probably only help out for floor, and Ernst beam and maybe bars but they both seem like they could be useful in the future so it would be worth it for Marta to get them some experience. I really don't think she'll put Milliet on the team as she has next to no international experience. I'm not sure about Dowell either, if you remember at Ger, Rou, Usa meet in the spring Dowell was the one Marta chose to put on the non USA team along with Amelia who was only competing bars.

    Nationals will be very interesting for sure!