August 26, 2014


Another national championship done and done. And then it's over. And then what's the point of anything anymore? Guh.

Simone Biles is the star of the world. Obviously. She's just better than you. And by you, I mean everyone. She's a thoroughly enjoyable national champion. I even had a moment where I was eager to hear Simone's post-meet interviews, which is strange and new territory. Can you believe it? I want to know what she's going to say! Who was the last US gymnast who was engaging enough in interviews to make them worth watching? Alicia Sacramone? That's a victory in itself. Who even cares about the meet?

Especially because Simone's excellence made the whole thing not super exciting. We were left to try to enjoy the scraps of the fight for second, which is inherently non-dramatic. It's like when you're playing a board game with a group of people, someone wins, and then someone else inevitably says, "Do you want to keep playing for second?" and you're like ". . . no." That was this national championship. At least Sam Mikulak had the decency to kind of screw up on the first day so that he could mount a glorious and dramatic comeback on day 2 to make it competitive and down-to-the-wire and all the other things we like.

My favorite part of the men's second day was listening to Tim Daggett try to balance his commentary between "Jake Dalton is obviously not going to win—he finishes on pommel horse" and trying to force himself to pretend like Dalton was still in it for the title to feed into the Trautwiggy/NBCy need to turn up the drama and make everything into "THE BIGGEST MOMENT OF HIS LIFE," which I think Al said at least six times. Well, at one point he said, "the last rotation of his life," which was weird and morbid and I didn't know what was happening. Someone who has a lot of time and energy should go through all the old NBC broadcasts and cut together every time Al says that a routine is the biggest moment of someone's life. It would be an epic miniseries. Nastia alone probably had between 12 and 15 biggest moments of her life. 

August 17, 2014

Post-Classic, Pre-Championships Difficulties

Now that we have lurched ourselves in that strange, antsy interim period between Classic and Championships, it's time to revisit the difficulty scores for the US women based on what we learned at Classic, which was mostly nothing. Classic essentially served to confirm what we already knew, that Simone Biles and Kyla Ross are dominating the all-around picture, without providing many answers about the rest of the senior elite group.

But the picture has adjusted slightly, so I have updated the super cool, popular kid spreadsheets of  current D-scores on each event after the performances at Classic. I retained a couple D-scores that we haven't yet seen this season, like the 6.4 and 6.1 on bars for Ross and Biles respectively, because even though they didn't try those routines at Classic, both are intending to build back up to those scores as the year progresses. 

As necessary, I tried to remove the stick bonus from Classic (which was irritatingly added to the D-Score) wherever it reared its ugly head, so I have Biles at her real score of 6.5 on floor and Locklear at her real 6.5 on bars, but I grant I may have missed a few.


Biles, obviously. With Maroney injured and Price off to Stanford, Biles is clearly the best vaulter in the country. After that, it gets a bit interesting. 

Mykayla Skinner, you guys. What are we going to do about this situation? Without that many difficult vaults being done right now, 2014 would seem like the year for her to muscle her way onto the team as a vault specialist with that Dadaist Cheng of hers. Yet, at Classic she scored lower on vault than Ross, even if we take out Kyla's stick bonus. You don't get to be a vault specialist if you're scoring lower than Kyla Ross's DTY. That's the rule. We tend to look only at the highest difficulty vaults in formulating prospective team final scenarios, but the US could be perfectly fine at Worlds using Ross's DTY as a leadoff. They'd still have a big vault advantage. If Skinner is going to make it to Worlds as a vaulter, she'll have to prove that she is markedly and reliably better than Ross, which she hasn't done yet.

However, Skinner's vault fate may rest mostly in the hands of Gowey and Dowell, the final two current members of the Amanar club. Gowey went for the 2.5 at Classic and fell, so she'll have to prove some consistency with that vault at Championships/selection to be considered as a vaulter. She is a Martha favorite, though, so she'll have time to find that consistency. With Dowell, who even knows where she is with that ankle injury, but her 2.5 has been usable in the past. She'll still be in the conversation if she ends up showing four events soon. We have the potential for an entertaining vault showdown brewing among this group of non-Biles vaulters. A couple of them need to finish top 3 on vault at Nationals.

August 6, 2014

Classic Gymcastic

This week, I appeared (and by "appeared," I mean "giggled in the background while being surprisingly bad at pop quizzes") on Gymcastic with gems Jessica, Uncle Tim, and Lauren to talk about the Secret Classic and my feelings about Wu Jiani's amazing celebration, that woman in the background of Kyla's floor routine, the Texas Dreams leotard, Martha's taste in music, and maybe a little bit of gymnastics. Maybe.

Have a listen. I command thee. Which you should be doing every week anyway, because they're the best. If you're sitting around thinking, "Hey, I'm looking for a way to get nothing done on Wednesdays, but what do I do?!?" This is your answer.