September 29, 2013

Skill Frequency 2013

A few months back, I began looking at the frequency with which skills appeared in US WAG routines in 2012 with the idea that I would then do the same thing for 2013 and compare the numbers to see how the code change was affecting routine composition. Then, I never did that. Fortunately, Uncle Tim tweeted me saying, "If you don't do those goddamn skill frequencies for 2013, I will stab you in the eye with a grapefruit spoon." (It may not have been exactly that. Who can remember?)

So, here we go. While you take a break from speculating about McKayla Maroney's bars capabilities and Aliya Mustafina's floor endurance, enjoy some charts. With colors! The colors are supposed to be red and blue, but you never know with me, so if they're actually purple and orange, just deal with it.

As before, the percentages next to the skills indicate the proportion of gymnasts who performed each skill at National Championships, and skills are sorted by the frequency of their appearances in 2013 senior routines. Some basic skills like giant swings and back handsprings are not included because, obviously 100%. Numbers from 2013 and 2012 are listed side-by-side for easy comparison. Cells highlighted in blue reflect an increase in frequency of at least 10 percentage points over 2012, while cells highlighted in red reflect a decrease of at least the same amount. For the most part, any change less than that is statistically insignificant given the small number of routines we're working with (especially for the seniors). Even some of the larger changes may be attributable to normal variation in routine construction rather than code influence, but I'll talk through some of the larger changes as we go.

NOTES: Because there were so many more juniors, the junior routines have a much larger bearing on the total frequency column. Also, the charts include only skills performed during 2013 Nationals. Many skills dropped off the charts from 2012, but none that were performed more than one or two times last year. I didn't do vault because it's fairly straightforward. Yurchenko land. I classified the skills by what was attempted rather than what would actually be credited because this is about intended composition.


The toe-on full continues to reign as the D pirouetting skill of choice. Even though this code emphasizes release+release combinations, the toe-on full is still a valuable tool connected to a tkatchev or transition for .1 CV.

What's interesting is that the trend favoring toe-on skills over stalder skills seems to be increasing for the seniors, but the opposite is taking place for the juniors. There is a marked increase in the frequency of several of the stalder skills for the juniors. I'm not sure if there is a tangible reason for that, but it's happening. It should be noted that the large majority of those junior stalder fulls might be finishing their turns sometime by the end of the year. Maybe.

So, the Gienger died. That's weird, right? Very abrupt and very dead. The Jaeger just consumed it, apparently. Natural selection. We saw tons of toe-on Tkatchevs this year from the seniors. There are still fewer E releases being performed than I would expect given the new code, but it's early days, and this was not a particularly astounding bars group. They were just happy to get their jaegers in and get out of there.

September 20, 2013

2014 NCAA Schedule

It's almost here, people. Only 3.5 short months away. That's a cup of coffee, really. A cat nap. It's time to start emotionally preparing and deciding how many regrets you're going to have this year. I'm going for maybe something like four. That seems safe.

[ELITE TANGENT] I'm feeling particularly NCAA antsy because we're still over a week away from Worlds, which is forever. Still, the updated women's roster was released today. It's so pitiful. I'm betting right now that the cutoff score for the AA final is lower than the junior qualifying score to US Nationals (51.500). Too harsh? At this rate . . . honestly, the Australians who aren't even going are still in medal contention. Silver lining: an attending Icelander has the last name Odinsdottir. That's awesome. If I were a dottir, I would be taking that name as my own instantly. [/ELITE TANGENT]

But for now, enough NCAA teams have finally released their 2014 schedules that I can put together a composite schedule that is beginning to verge on reliable. We're still waiting on a Tardy Timothy or two to release their schedules (I'm referring to you, Nebraska), and Georgia is being total molasses in getting the meet times out, so keep that in mind. Otherwise, the schedule below should tell you what you need to know about the top teams' seasons.  

Oddly, the season is going to false start on the first weekend with only a couple teams competing, which is uncomfortable. It's like during the Olympics when a few events begin before the opening ceremonies. It's just wrong. The actual season won't begin until the 10th of January.

Lots of Saturday meets this season, especially in the Pac-12 as dictated by the TV requirements of the Pac-12 Network. Fortunately for those of us who get the network, many more meets will be on TV this year. Fortunately for those who don't, I'll be my usual live blogging self during all of the good ones, awarding Amanda Borden's hair a 9.825 and maybe talking about the actual gymnastics if there's time. There are also way too many Monday meets for my liking. It's like Stanford's whole schedule.

As usual, the SEC teams have the most challenging schedules because of their conference requirements, and we'll have all the usual mouth-watering match-ups. In particular, circle Alabama hosting Florida on February 28th. Oklahoma's schedule also stands out because, well, look at those road meets. One is the Bart and Nadia Special (which is a home meet in everything but name), two others take place in the state of Texas, and another is in Florida. Those road scores are going to be flying for the Sooners all year long. Don't be remotely surprised by a #1 Oklahoma team for a good chunk of the season.  

So, here we go. Some time after Worlds, I'll begin going through the teams and looking at the freshmen to see where they might contribute.

Week 0 – January 3-5

Sunday, January 5
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Penn State @ Iowa State
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Stanford, San Jose State, UC Davis @ Sacramento State

Week 1 – January 10-12

Friday, January 10
7:00 ET/4:00 PT ­– Penn State, West Virginia, Ball State @ Kentucky
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Illinois @ Michigan State
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Michigan @ Iowa State
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Georgia @ Oklahoma
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Centenary @ LSU
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Western Michigan @ Arkansas
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Texas Woman’s @ Auburn
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Missouri @ Alabama

Saturday, January 11
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Oregon State, Bowling Green @ Ohio State
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Arizona @ UIC
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Air Force, Lindenwood @ Minnesota
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Northern Illinois @ Nebraska
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Cal @ Denver
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Boise State, Southern Utah, BYU @ Utah
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Florida @ UCLA

Sunday, January 12
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Georgia @ Stanford

Monday, January 13
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Minnesota @ Washington

September 15, 2013

US World Team

Some brief thoughts.

The US World team is as follows: Kyla Ross (obvio), Simone Biles (obvio), McKayla Maroney (triple obvio), and Brenna Dowell (okay. . . ).

The non-traveling alternate is Elizabeth Price. No traveling alternate was named, but let's be honest, it's Brenna Dowell. I imagine that was the main thought process behind her selection to the team. She was 3rd in the AA at Nationals, and if Maroney and Price aren't up to the task (as they weren't at Nationals), it appears she is the #3 AAer in the country right now. Therefore, she can step into an AA role if someone gets injured and be a legitimate participant. As it currently stands with her as the UB and BB specialist, she won't get a sniff at beam. It's not out of the question that she could pop into a bars final given the lack of depth going to Worlds from all the countries. However, she would have to outscore Biles in qualification to get a US spot (assuming Kyla scores in the 15s, which neither of the others can do). That's not a given. When we're comparing them to Ross, Mustafina, and the Chinese, both Biles and Dowell are well below that level.  

The interesting thing is that what we've seen from Dowell is less competitive on bars than a healthy Elizabeth Price in both difficulty and execution, which is why I think her selection was mostly a Martha "meh, it has to be someone" selection. In the past, Martha has shown an intense willingness to fill out possibly questionable spots on teams with the next best AAer who can jump into any role if necessary. Dowell basically got the Peszek spot on this team, even though it isn't a team worlds so that doesn't make sense. I had Price as my pick going in, figuring that none of the non-locks are that internationally competitive on beam and Price has the highest potential of the rest on bars, so I'm wondering if perhaps a lack of full AA difficulty or training time made Martha loath to select her for the team, knowing as we do how Martha loves people to have proved their consistency 1500 million times in a row before making a team.

September 1, 2013

A Post about Nothing

Why do such large portions of the gymnastics season insist on being so deeply boring? And then just when we get going - oops, boring again. The US elites are all away in their cupboards under the stairs preparing for their field trip to Six Flags Magic Martha, and the Russians are all made of rice paper and disappointment as usual. BUH. It's not like it will even get much better once selection camp begins because the only conversation is about who will sneak into that filler fourth spot to make up the numbers. The verification for that spot should just be a moving mats and getting water obstacle course. Actually, I would watch that. Note to USAG.

Honestly, I have come around to favoring the US sending a team of three AAers. It will never ever happen because of inevitable claims of unfairness from the other coaches and because of perception issues. Romania is sending just three, and when the team registrations first revealed that information, the prevailing reaction was "Oh, look how feeble Romania's program is now. They can't even come up with four gymnasts to send to worlds." The US would never risk that.

This boredom issue is why NCAA is so much less frustrating than elite. The season begins, and then there's always something happening. NCAA is at least a little concerned about not boring us with lulls. Speaking of, I've noticed on the 2014 schedules that this is one of those seasons where the first weekend in January falls too close to the first, so everyone is beginning the season during the second weekend in January. Championships, however, is still at the same time as always, so the overall season is one week shorter. This means quite a few teams have scheduled no bye weeks between the start of the season and conference championships, so the choices about resting the fragile will be something to watch.

While we're on NCAA, there's a new site going around called road to nationals with some handy charty charts that must have taken damn forever to create and that will make synthesizing information much faster for those of us who like to fill preseason time with NCAA statistical analysis.

Finally, I would like to register my severe disappointment with a number of NCAA programs for completely overhauling their athletic websites since the end of last season. Now I have to go through and change all my bookmarks. Incredibly inconsiderate. Sometimes, I almost feel like other people don't have my convenience constantly in mind. We must address this problem as a nation.

That's all.