June 8, 2014

How Very Mid-Quad Of Us

It's that time of year again, the time of elite thinking. The 2014 NCAA season is well behind us, and it's not really healthy to start thinking about the 2015 season in any depth for at least another three or four months (lying). So, it's once again time for my annual attempt to return my attention to the elite scene, with all its D scores and team selections and switch ring full turns, and dive in feet first. (I've never been much of a diver, so headfirst seems inadvisable. Even though that's the expression, I'm not comfortable with it, and it should change.) 

As we enter the second year post-Olympics, we're starting to move into that meaty area at the center of the quad where things start to get a little more real. In the first year of a quad, we can only learn so much. It's a year of posturing, where we just sort of quaintly applaud people who have decided to stick around but can't make any real conclusions about the future. It's so hard to keep up for a full quad, and what seems like a given in year one is often obsolete by year four. Just ask Ana Porgras and Rebecca Bross about that one.

True story: I forgot Ana Porgras's name a few months ago. I was like, "Who was that good Romanian? The one with the face?"

But as we move into the second year, we start to wonder about who's actually in this thing, not just to hang around the edge of a Worlds team here or there but to be a major player. Now the ramshackle, debt-ridden Rio venues become a glinting tease shining on the periphery of every conversation. It's not close enough to be a thing, not nearly, but if you're a gymnastics fan, you find yourself absentmindedly forming possible World and Olympic teams while chopping vegetables, or taking a shower, or drinking the blood of your enemies, knowing it's too early and that none of these people will even have working bones anymore by the time 2016 rolls around, but still resculpting and reimagining the picture with the emergence of every new Gowey of the month.

But should we entertain that taunting Rio glint, or shut it out? How much is year 2 really relevant to year 4 of a quad? I don't have any grand conclusions because every team is different and every quad is different, but it's worth looking at how the years compare as we progress through a quad, keeping in mind how much things tend to change, or in specific cases, stay the same. In that spirit, I took a look back at 2010 Worlds and compared those teams to the 2012 Olympic teams to get some idea of how things progressed from year 2 to year 4.