January 25, 2014
 UCLA @  Utah Live Blog
This week, Sam talks to Danusia. Now, I love hearing from Danusia. I'm a human being, after all. But honestly, the point of these videos is for us to hear from Miss Val. I want her to tell me that she doesn't want to talk about beam because she's not worried about beam.
The meet will be shown on the Pac-12 Network, and hopefully we won't have any interminable women's basketball to deal with, but you never know. We've already had quite the eventful little weekend for people who like having strong opinions on things (so, all gymnastics fans), and don't expect it to end yet. These two teams helped invent being outraged about scoring.
Dear judges, please don't treat Florida's 49.875 on floor as a challenge.
We've had a lot happen already today. LSU got back into the 197 picture at 197.175 with big showings on vault and floor, as is their tendency. Courville was very 9.9 and Hall got into the 9.9s on floor for the first time this season. Auburn also put up a significant 196.850, mimicking LSU by getting most of that value from vault and floor. I've been impressed by what I've seen from MJ Rott so far, and she could be that necessary third link with Atkinson and Guy to make Auburn a top 10 team.
Michigan did them one better by recording a 197.325 in their home opener. Floor arrived this week for 49.500, and most significantly, beam was a distinctly un-horrifying 49.250. The fall even came in the last position, so no one had time to jump out of their skin with worry. That 49.250 is the second-highest beam score for Michigan in the last four seasons.
I finally got to see a full meet for Oklahoma for the first time this season, as the Sooners went to Arizona and won 197.575-196.875. As for the scoring, I don't even know anymore. High scores? Probably. Sure. But at this point . . . on a scale of 1 to 10 Floridas, it was like 6.5 Floridas. The best moment of the meet was the end of Taylor Spears' bars routine, with the final perfect handstand and glorious stuck double arabian. And I'm starting to get on the Chayse Capps train. I see it, people. I understand the reasons for your idolatrous shrines. Floor was the weak event for the Sooners by far. Pretty much everyone had at least one poor pass, either bouncing way out of it or landing super short. Brewer was supposed to do the AA but went missing after bars. Do we know what happened to her?
Arizona had a scary moment when Jordan Williams peeled off the bars going for her double front dismount and almost dismounted right into the face of the mat girl who just got out of the way. The camera cut away immediately, but Williams stayed down for a while and looked hurt.
Even though it was the lowest-scoring event for Arizona, I was most pleased by their beam. It was a wobbleburger, but a few of the people in that rotation moved quite elegantly through their routines. Hey now, Arizona.
But now to UCLA and Utah. The meet will begin promptly at 9:30 ET/6:30 PT. Be there, or be unable to comment on the scores.
Phew. Amanda Borden is back this week. Otherwise, how would we know how wide the beam is? It's eight inches, right? FOUR? Are you kidding me???
"Rowdy Red Rocks Rooters" - It's alliteration night in Utah.
Hopefully a gymnastics meet will break out at some point during this ChristianMingle commercial. Important question: Is the Gabby Douglas Story going to be a ChristianMingle commercial?
Uh oh, Val has her glasses on. That must mean the lineup is changing.
Rotation 1- Utah on vault, UCLA on bars
1. Tutka - leg break on the block on her yfull, but better control in landing than we have seen, small step back, some piking. 9.875. It's the new 9.800.
2. Lofgren - Sticks her yfull, well done, some piking down and not the power/distance we will see from others. 9.900.
3. Damianova - Better power than Lofgren, fairly large hop back. 9.875.
4. Delaney - Great yfull, strong power, just a hop in place. I would say it would probably be a 9.900 in a vacuum, but it was stronger than Lofgren's. 9.925.
5. Wilson - The usual huge Yfull, still a hop back though, and there is, as always, a small amount of piking. 9.925. Get that stick and she'll be back in the 9.950-9.975 range consistently.
6. Dabritz - Sticks her 1.5 - an insignificant foot adjustment but basically a stick, so watch out for the score. They've been enthusiastic so far leading up to this, and it's the strongest of the group. 9.975.
1. Courtney - leading off? Already a lineup change. DANUSIA HAS THE FLU! ALERT! THE WORLD IS OVER! toe one, strong shaposh, short handstand, bail, lots of toe-ons in this routine, stuck her tuck full - best dismount of the year for her. 9.750.
2. Craddock - Overbalances her first handstand and then falls on her tkatchev. Ruh Roh. Comes off again after her pak. An extremely rough routine. This score will be in the 1s.
3. Mossett - strong stalder shoot, lovely jaeger, hits her pak, a couple handstands here and there, again the major elbow bend on the stalder, fine double back. It's a hit, so there's that. 9.750.
4. DeJesus - Very close on the gienger catch with crazy legs, handstands not as strong as last week, sort of step/salutes her tuck full with some low knee-chest action. 9.475.
5. Sawa - Great Ray, strong toe-on, leg break on the bail, large step on the double pike dismount. Those bars were wobbling all over the place. 9.750.
6. Peszek - She looks so pissed waiting to go. Even her smile was pissed.great full turn and gienger, excellent bail, small hop on DLO. At least someone showed up today. 9.875.
UCLA was slopsville on bars. Just a lot of messy gymnastics, added to the fact that they didn't get nearly the kind of scoring they have received the last couple weeks at home, and the total is rough. Utah had strong landings for the most part, but the judges were definitely feeling good at the beginning of that rotation. I would say there's not enough separation in those scores to reward the stronger vaults comparatively, but Utah at least showed up in the first rotation.
Utah 49.600, UCLA 48.625
Val is protesting the bars scores. You go, Val. Love a protest. Olivia Courtney's score goes up .025. Oh, that'll do a lot.
Rotation 2 - UCLA on vault, Utah on bars
1. Hughes - Looked a little close on her tkatchev catch, but it was fine, hop on the tuck full dismount, and a little knee face like DeJesus. 9.825.
2. Wilson - Some floppy leg separations on both her gienger and her overshoot, handstands looked OK, hop back on the tuck full. 9.900. No. How was that routine stronger than Peszek's?
3. Hansen - Fine jaeger, small leg break on the pak, half turn on low bar looked a little better than usual, very squatty on tuck full dismount with a large lunge back. 9.800.
4. Lothrop - Gets her jaeger, strong bail, last handstand looked a tad short, sticks DLO. Should be a quite good score. The biggest issue is the amplitude in her bars work, but that often is not factored into the deductions. She doesn't rise up on the jaeger or the DLO compared with the really strong incarnations of those skills. 9.925.
5. Damianova - Leg sep on the shaposh, gets bail, perhaps a small adjustment in the feet on the double back, but the form on her double back is excellent just like on floor. 9.925.
6. Dabritz - Good first handstand, catcher her jaeger, very nice bail, hop back on the tuck full. Probably the best of their rotation, so let's see what happens. 9.950.
1. Cipra - nice power on her yfull to open, hop back. 9.850.
2. Bynum - Yhalf, short landing with a step back, she hasn't really hit this yet. It's always short or over. 9.850.
3. Sawa - Going third? Short on her yfull landing, weakest for her on the year so far, doesn't really give away a step but has to fight not to do so. 9.800.
4. Courtney - Going fourth? Usual Yfull, but with a large step back, also her weakest of the year. 9.800.
5. Pinches - still a work in progress on the yfull, not a ton of distance, some piking and a hop. 9.800.
6. Mossett - Great height on her yfull, but a large hop back. They are not there with the landings at all today. 9.750.
After 2: Utah 99.125, UCLA 97.725
Not UCLA's day. They're sloppy, not landing well, and not remotely the team we have seen for the first two weeks. Really all Utah has to do at this point is hit. They're looking much better than UCLA today. It's not really a contest so far.
Syd Sawa is telling us about her alien floor and performing and selling. The UCLA watchwords. Cory is crazy dancing in Val's face, and she's just saying, "Stop it. Stop it. Stop it." over and over again. Best part of the meet for UCLA so far. That's how this has gone.
Rotation 3 - Utah on beam, UCLA on floor:
1. Lothrop - takes a big wobble opening on beam, and another small check on the loso series. Minorly short on switch. Strong and high 1.5 dismount. 9.800.
2. Rowe - wobble on her full turn, hits her loso series, switch side was strong, solid front toss, short on her 1.5 with a large lunge back. Some moments of legs here and there as well, but she'll compete beam for them for a long time. 9.825.
3. Hughes - FYI Breanna, I've already had four beam falls on my fantasy lineup this week, so I'd prefer a hit from you, but you know, no big deal. Hits loso series, large wobble on her side aerial to hold onto it somehow (what did I just say?), step forward on 1.5 dismount. 9.750.
4. Wilson - Only the smallest of corrections on her layouts series, switch doesn't hit 180, short on her popa and comes off the beam, no way to save. Excellent 1.5 to finish. 9.350.
5. Delaney - Interesting situation for her now after the fall. Nice loso series, hits her tuck full leap, pretty work, wobble on gainer loso, hop on gainer full. Oh girl, if you're going to do a gainer full you need to stick it. But I'm glad she's making this rotation because she has a nice look on beam. 9.850.
6. Lofgren - Small correction on side somi, hits stag, nowhere close on her loso and comes off, so this just became a little bit of a meet - or would have if it had been closer to begin with. Oh, Utah, you just can't get through without counting a fall can you? 9.325.
1. Mossett - y spin, good height on her double back but may have gone OOB or just saved it, needed a little more control on that landing. Layouts middle pass. Dance elements look very nice. Short landing on double pike with a step forward. Eh. 9.800.
2. DeJesus - Double pike to open, could be higher, same with double tuck, but both landed securely. Sophina's hips just had a conversation with me. It was enlightening. 1.5 to front layout dismount is well done. Good routine. Judge chatter. 9.825. (One judge gave it a 9.750, not sure what her deal was.)
3. Cipra - Really strong double pike, 1.5 to front layout could have some better legs on the layout. I still really like this routine, but even the choreographic performances seen flatter for UCLA than at home - which is expected but shouldn't happen. A little locked and short on the final double pike, but strong, gives away little. Rushed on split full at the end potentially, but not too much weaker than her routine from last week. 9.875.
4. Bynum - Bounces out of her DLO and goes right OOB, a little stumble on her double back landing. Everything's just kind of worse than it has been. So many more mistakes that destroy the score. 9.675.
5. Courtney - OK, someone needs to hit a real routine one of these times, UCLA. Slides with the back foot on the double arabian but mostly controlled, lovely middle pass into loso, could question the splits, but I do that for everyone who isn't Rheagan Courville, hits double pike dismount. 9.900.
6. Sawa - really strong double back to open, and quite secure on the double pike as well, 1.5 to half to stag is hit as well. That was basically identical to last week, so this will be a good comparison of scoring between home and road. 9.925.
Utah was not great on beam there, which would have opened the door if the meet were closer going in or if Utah weren't going to floor and UCLA to the nasty beam. Falls for Utah, plus the others all had wobbles and issues, so no one really hit a clean, inspiring routine. UCLA started to get it together a little bit in those floor routines, but still some issues with tumbling control and OOBs.
After 3: Utah 147.700, UCLA 147.050
So yeah, not that close. UCLA desperately needs to solve a problem like beam right now, though. Danusia has recovered from the flu suddenly to warm up on beam. I'm pretty sure her transverse aerial can cure the flu, so that makes sense.
Rotation 4 - Utah on floor, UCLA on beam
1. Lofgren - Secure double pike to start, split full wasn't there, finishes her whip double full very early but pikes a little to control it, rudi to loso is good. That's much better than what we were seeing from her at the end of last year. 9.800. I haven't seen her do floor since those 9.6s, so I'm pleased.
2. Delaney - Powerful tuck full to open, strong layout to front full, came into this rotation at the last minute, botches her double back final pass with a big stumble bounce back - had a good one going until then. 9.700.
3. Wilson - Huge DLO, pikes it in a little in the second salto but good landing, front layout front full middle pass, low on double tuck dismount but a solid routine. 9.875.
4. Dabritz - Amazing stick on the pike full in. That's ridiculous. This is the best floor routine I have seen her do. Sticks the triple full as well. Crazy. That would definitely have received a 10 at Florida yesterday, for what it's worth, but so would everything. Couldn't really see the dance elements to judge, but very well done in that tumbling. 9.975.
5. Tutka - Bounces out of her tuck full pretty significantly, great pop into the split jump on her middle pass - that's how directly connected dance elements are supposed to look - strong double tuck to finish, so really just the very uncontrolled mount holding her back there. 9.825.
6. Damianova - Great double back to start, and another secure and clean floor routine for Utah. Only a couple issues here and there in this rotation, but strong skill performances overall.
1. Craddock - her opening full turn is always the best part of her routine, breaks in the hips on her front walkover to front handspring, fine side aerial, rushed through that split jump a little, small hop on layout full dismount. She's getting there, slowly but surely. 9.775.
2. Mossett - tentative on that full turn, lovely ring jump, pauses in her aerial to bhs connection but OK. It's strong, but still can get more fluid and comfortable in performing this as a routine instead of a set of disconnected skills, hop in place on gainer pike. 9.775.
3. DeJesus - Hasn't hit beam yet this year, strong walkover to bhs loso this time, but then comes in way low on her front toss and squats it with a big stumble, step on the front full. It begins again. 9.725.
4. Francis - Fourth? These lineups are all over the place tonight. I like it. Nice walkover to bhs, switch split is lovely, does a third dance element just in case, y spin is secure, this has been great so far, just the dismount. Sticks it again! Three times in a row. Excellent routine. Danusia Francis just cured the flu. 9.950.
5. Cipra - Major break on the loso, but she stayed on this week, so it's progress. Another major break on the split full. She could be so great on this event, but she just doesn't have the consistency yet. This will be one of the Val projects. Switch split is nice, but pretty much everything else had deductions. Good double full with small step. 9.600.
6. Sawa - Good switch, break at the hips on her side aerial. Everyone except Danusia struggling on beam again this week. She just came off on her series and it looked like she was dismounting. The announcer even said her name like she was done. Weird. No idea what happened there, looked like a Russian gymnast at podium training, just coming off because the bhs was weird? Rough beam again.
The story of this meet is a simple one. UCLA showed up for one event, Utah showed up for three, and that's why they won. UCLA's vault problems looked meet-specific. They haven't looked remotely like that at home, but the beam is still a major issue worth lamenting. Five people had significant issues in that rotation, and it's not the first time. They're like my fantasy team on beam. UCLA always has a bad road meet each season. Usually it's a 194, so if this is their bad road meet, that's OK. But it was bad. It was like Danusia's beam routine sitting on a golden throne as the queen, Sawa's floor sitting next to her on a slightly lower pedestal as the royal vizier, and then everyone else was just a peasant hoping to be granted the honor of glimpsing the royal personage - and it wasn't happening.
Utah had some very nice routines and some sloppy ones, but the nice ones outweighed the sloppiness. Dabritz's floor was the clear highlight of the meet. Scoring was too enthusiastic in the first two rotations for the quality of routines shown - on bars in particular, which accounts for a bit of the "You just went over 197 while counting a fall," but that's nothing new, here or everywhere. I've already filled my Caring-About-High-Scoring Meter for the weekend after Florida, so it just is what it is. Beam is still a problem. It's three weeks without breaking 9.850 now, which is a concern that shouldn't be ignored in the glow of a 197.
Final Score: Utah 197.125, UCLA 195.875