May 28, 2013

How to Speak Gymnastics Part 2: I before E

Names of Germanic origin seem to cause people a lot of problems with the order of the i and the e.
I before E, except after C, or when sounding like "why" as in "why are you trying to do that forward hip circle?"




You can remember that Weiler is the one with the e first because if you're Wieber, the Weiler hurts your E-score. Or, you can just remember it like a normal person. 

Finally, in my continuing effort to have a series of borderline-psychotic arguments with the women's Code of Points (the first step is admitting you have a problem), let's talk about this.

Really, women's code? TBC? To be confirmed? You've had about 50 years since Willie Weiler Weilered. This really calls your level of efficiency into question. It's almost like you don't have a team of experts working around the clock to confirm this information.

May 25, 2013

How to Speak Gymnastics: The Flare and the Flair

Oh, Code of Points. No one is ever going to accuse you of being written clearly, but we've got to work on your vocabulary. It's embarrassing.

I'm barely even going to touch why flair is capitalized and in quotation marks in the first description. Is it a proper noun? Is it named after Evangelina Flair, the originator of the skill? Are you using it sarcastically?

No, stop. The important thing here is that you have selected the incorrect word and have inspired generations of people weirdly obsessed with gymnastics to mimic your mistake. I believe you were looking for flare.

The noun flare means, among other things, "a spreading out or widening." It has evolved from the verb of the same spelling, which originated in the 16th century to mean "to spread out in display." This is the exact sense intended in gymnastics (we're very traditional). The legs are spread out in display, and everyone goes, "Oooooh."

Flair, on the other hand, means "stylishness and originality," and while a flare may certainly be performed with flair, flair is a concept or a quality and not a skill in gymnastics. That would be like naming skills after enthusiasm or pizzazz. Flair is something you have; flare is something you do.

Let's review. Peng Peng Lee will be our study partner. 

Step one: flair

Step two: flare

The end. 

May 22, 2013

Pro Gymnastics Challenge Night 3 Recap: That Was a Deltchev!

Tonight, children, gather round and you shall learn of the miracle of the Professional Gymnastics Challenge, how a single day's competition managed to burn for three whole nights. We enter this final stage of the event with the teams tied at two points each. We're running out of events at this point, so the rope climb relay has now become one of the gymnastics apparatuses. It's like a PE class from the 50s, but televised. I make fun because it's so silly, but the relay turns out to be legitimately the most entertaining portion of the whole event. It's a good lesson that sport is simple. Just put some people on a rope and make them race and shout. Basic competition is always interesting, unless it's dressage. 
In a nearly identical finish, the US comes from behind and wins by a foot. There is some discussion about dropping to the ground versus completely finishing the climb, but whatever. It's a rope climb. Are there real rules? As is always the case in relays, the US wins it in the transitions.

May 21, 2013

Pro Gymnastics Challenge Night 2 Recap: A Work in Progress

After another brief introduction with competitors looking determined and assuring us that this is an event unlike anything we've ever seen before, we arrive in the arena for the second section of the action from the Professional Gymnastics Challenge, and guess who's dancing (apart from Zam the Ham, constantly)? It's all the boys. Since forfeiting seems to be the theme of this competition, I hereby declare than any boy dancing for the audience at this event or any other event has forfeited any claim that the men can't dance to music on the floor exercise. You seemed to be enjoying yourselves quite a bit there, gentlemen.
Before the start of the vaulting round, Suri interviews Zam and Josh Dixon. Zam the Ham uses her UCLA training well and does the best job of anyone in the competition at committing to the performance both on and off the apparatuses. Interviews are fundamentally weird and ridiculous and have to be just as much of a performance as the routines. Zam does a good job at committing to the cheese here. Suri recognizes this and does her best Tyra Banks impression by publicly complimenting Zam for having a personality.  

May 20, 2013

Pro Gymnastics Challenge Night 1 Recap: Sport or Circus?

Professional gymnastics is a tough sell, but the fight is worthy. We should all be in favor of increasing opportunities for those in the post-college age groups to compete gymnastics outside of the limited elite realm. Compete is the operative word there. All other non-elite, non-NCAA incarnations of gymnastics, like the post-Olympic tours and the Skating and Gymnastics Spectaculars, go squarely for circus value. Frankly, I don't see how that kind of event appeals to anyone over the age of seven, nor do I see it as the ideal path for professional gymnastics events.
Even though those circus events continue to exist, the post-Olympic tour is an arena-specific, little girl-based showcase. It's not a grown-adult thing or a TV thing. As for the Skating and Gymnastics Lacklusters, they would never exist without the skating part. Sashaying around a balance beam near a wind machine to some pop knockoff like "We Are Under No Circumstances Resuming This Relationship" by Saylor Twift is not exactly what I would call "TV material."   

For this professional event to be an enjoyable viewing experience, it must allow gymnastics to be a sport, not an exhibition activity. It's never not going to be horribly cheesy, don't even hope for that, but I want to see less of a "Valeri Liukin in a cowboy hat," "John Macready trying to get people pumped" atmosphere and more of a "gymnastics is an enjoyable sport to watch, so stop shouting" atmosphere. I think this competition mostly succeeds in that respect and certainly falls on the sport side of things.

May 11, 2013

Level 10 Nationals Day 2

First, a bit of news. Missouri has hired Shannon Welker from Michigan as the new head coach. Release

The Senior A and B divisions primarily feature gymnasts set to enter NCAA in a few seasons, so there's only a limited amount of information we can take from JO results. Much can change over those years. The Senior C and D divisions are comprised mostly of gymnasts set to join NCAA teams in a few months, so these results are much more informative in terms of potential contributions, which can be evaluated based on teams' weaknesses and losses after the 2013 season.

Full results can be found at meetscoresonline.

Senior C

Top 10 AA
T1. Kara Lovan - Oklahoma 2013-2014
38.200 (VT - 6th, UB - 1st, BB - 15th, FX - 7th)
Oklahoma's incoming class is crazy good. Remember this. They won't let Florida get away with counting a fall again.
T1. Baely Rowe - Utah 2013-2014
38.200 (VT - 4th, UB 4th, BB - 3rd, FX - 26th)
Methinks there's a place for you in the beam lineup. A certain few of the Utes should send her a welcome muffin basket about their not having to compete beam anymore.
3. Myia Hambrick - LSU 2014-2015
38.175 (VT - 5th, UB - 20th, BB - 2nd, FX - 1st)
She'll be entering in the class tasked with replacing the scores from Morrison, Dickson, and Mathis and will be a key contributor. She's a Georgia-based gymnast electing to go to LSU. There were years back when that would have been a notable surprise.
4. McKenzie Wofford - Oklahoma 2013-2014
38.075 (VT - 20th, UB - 1st, BB - 4th, FX - 17th)
Wofford would have been favored to win this division given her previous elite success. She didn't just compete elite as a second-tier athlete; for a second, she was in the conversation for team selection. If competing L10 now gives her a better chance to be healthy through NCAA, that's the ultimate gem of college recruitment.
5. Samantha Nelson - Arkansas 2013-2014
37.925 (VT - 25th, UB - 14th, BB - 6th, FX - 3rd)
Arkansas has spot talent in the younger classes but definitely needs an infusion of multiple-event gymnasts to help support the upperclassmen.
T6. Pua Hall - UCLA 2014-2015
37.850 (VT - 1st, UB - 17th, BB - 8th, FX - 34th)
A strong result for the future Bruin, but she's still a year away. She'll be in the class coming in after Courtney and Sawa leave, so the 9.800 vault is something to keep an eye on. I recall she had nice power but some leg form on vault back when she competed a 1.5 as an elite.
T6. Gigi Marino
37.850 (VT - 2nd, UB - 37th, BB - 15th, FX - 10th)
8. Courtney Bisbe - NC State 2013-2014
37.750 (VT - 16th, UB - 8th, BB - 15th, FX - 17th)
9. Nicole Medvitz - Penn State 2013-2014
37.725 (VT - 44th, UB - 4th, BB 1st, FX - 22nd)
10. Caroline Morant - Brown 2013-2014
37.700 (VT - 12th, UB - 12th, BB - 23rd, FX - 15th)
Talia Chiarelli - Michigan 2013-2014
VT - 10th, BB - 4th, FX - 3rd (Top 10 on vault, beam, and floor, 49th on bars. Is that on the seal of Brestyan's? Brestyan's: 1st in friendship, 49th on bars.)

May 10, 2013

Level 10 Nationals Day 1

The first day of competition at Level 10 JO Nationals featured the juniors and seniors in groups A and B, the younger gymnasts in each respective age division. For our immediate NCAA purposes, things won't get interesting until the Senior C and D divisions compete tomorrow, which will feature many of the athletes entering collegiate competition in the 2013-2014 year.  

Still, a fair number of the Senior A and B athletes have already given verbal commitments, as compiled and reported at collegegymfans, so we can at least have an early look at how some of the future teams will shape up. I'm not spending any time on the Junior A and B groups since they're hardly more than fetuses (though we know that's coming next, committing at 9 years old), but all results and scores for the competition can be found at meetscoresonline. For now, the seniors.

Senior A

Top 10 AA
1. Kari Lee - Arizona 2014-2015
38.300 (VT - 10th, UB - 5th, BB - 2nd, FX - 1st)
2. Kristen Nogaki - Michigan
38.100 (VT - 16th, UB - 1st, BB - 9th, FX - 4th)
3. Madison Cindric - Arizona 2014-2015
38.050 (VT - 19th, UB - 5th, BB - 5th, FX - 4th)
T4. Alyssa Shermetaro - Washington 2014-2015
38.025 (VT - 7th, UB - 19th, BB - 1st, FX - 11th)
T4. Bailey Gardner - Minnesota 2014-2015
38.025 (VT - 9th, UB - 9th, BB - 8th, FX - 4th)
6. Paige Zaziski - Arkansas 2014-2015
37.975 (VT - 3rd, UB - 3rd, BB - 17th, FX - 11th)
7. Ericha Fassbender - Florida 2014-2015
37.950 (VT - 3rd, UB - 14th, BB - 5th, FX - 16th)
8. Annie Juarez
37.775 (VT - 3rd, UB - 19th, BB - 15th, FX - 8th)
T9. Samantha Partyka - Utah 2014-2015
37.675 (VT - 1st, UB - 19th, BB - 34th, FX - 1st)
T9. Haylee Roe - Illinois
37.675 (VT - 16th, UB 14th, BB - 13th, FX - 8th)

Go ahead on, Arizona. For a team that lost a star at the end of the season and shows much more strength on floor and vault, those AA placements featuring strong bars and beam scores must be music. Fassbender, Partyka, and Shermetaro have all competed elite before and are performers to watch in the coming years. Many other notable gymnasts (including some former elites to keep serious track of) had certain strong events but missed the top 10, so here is everyone who finished in the top 10 on at least one event:

May 5, 2013

Where We Stand Now

Two weeks have already passed since National Championships. How did that happen?

Florida wins the title after being the best team all year. At this point, I have enough distance from the event to thank them for counting a fall on beam because it made everything much more interesting. We can safely (and finally) declare the era of the Big Four over, which has been the unofficial case for years now anyway. Oklahoma is now the best team never to have won a title. Will the call for more teams winning championships drop off now that Florida has won, or will it continue with Oklahoma as the new standard bearer? Five teams is still not that many.

At nationals, a number of the scores were wackadoo, but in general I would classify them as normal wackadoo. Original recipe wackadoo. A couple of the floor scores in Super Six were hyperwackadoo, but they were the exceptions. Slightly more troubling were some of the ranges on scores (primarily scores that ended up being fine because the extreme scores were dropped). There is always going to be crazy scoring in a subjective sport, especially in NCAA gymnastics where the subjectivity is compounded by a somewhat amorphous code of expectations as to which factors get evaluated and which don't. ("What's a flexed foot?" they asked innocently.) I've always argued that efforts in any level of gymnastics to make skill and routine evaluation more objective and straightforward do more harm than good, like Nellie Kim's decision that awkward, pointed-toe running = a satisfactory level of artistry. The judges do, however, need to be on the same page. I don't care if you're crazy, but you all need to be crazy at the same rate.