September 28, 2014

2015 NCAA Schedule

NCAA gymnastics. Like a pearl in a mud factory. That's not an expression, but it should be.

It's coming. Kind of not that soon, but it's still coming. The excitement is starting to build. Bridget Sloan is so excited she's doing double layouts about it. I agree, Bridget. I agree.  

And yet, there's still so much waiting to do. We have over three whole months until the first meets begin (and a whole World Championship of Extreme Ankle Wrapping to get through first—beginning this week!), but we can start to smell it. The dust clouds are gathering. The schedules are being released.

We're still waiting on a number of schools to get with the program. I'm not naming names (Big Ten), but you need to get those schedules out yesterday. Even so, enough schools have released their competition slates for 2015 for it to make sense to put together my annual season schedule. I'll continue adding teams over the next month as the final schedules are released to us lowly plebs. 

The full composite schedule for D1 and D2 teams can be found at the tab above (for easy reference throughout the preseason and season). Or just use THIS LINK. I have capitalized that for no reason. It felt like the thing to do, but I didn't mean to holler. I'm sorry.

All the usual disclaimers apply. Many teams have not released their schedules yet, and many of the days and times could change, especially as TV schedules are made and adjusted, particularly for the Pac-12 Network. (Do we know what the SEC Network plan is yet and how much coverage they are taking on?)

The current schedules released by the schools also feature all the usual contradictions in time zones (since apparently we don't teach that at colleges) and meet participation (where six different teams think they're all competing in the same quad meet), but we'll get all that figured out as we go.

Once we get closer to the season, I'll do a quick-reference, greatest hits version of the schedule to isolate the top meets, but for now, enjoy the behemoth.

September 18, 2014

2014 USA Worlds Team

I feel obligated to have something to say about the US team for World Championships announced last night by USA Gymnastics, but I'm struggling to muster the energy because ultimately there wasn't much decision in it at all. Utterly predictably, enough people were hit by the injury bus along the way to make the team a default.

Named to the team were Simone Biles, Kyla Ross, Alyssa Baumann, Madison Kocian, Ashton Locklear, MyKayla Skinner, and Maddie Desch, with the alternate to be named once . . . it's Maddie Desch.

The only question was Brenna Dowell, who is the non-traveling alternate, which is code for "even if we need you, we won't use you because we'll be in China and that's far away. SEE YA." Someone would have to get injured before they leave for the non-traveling alternate to come into play. Without competing the AA this summer, she would have needed quite the camp performance to prove her worth. And because Desch was selected over her as a "we can throw you in anywhere because meh" alternate selection, we can assume that didn't happen. I'm fine with it. Get thee to a K.J.

The team final (which, by the way, is at 4:00am for west coasters—fun!) lineups seem pretty straightforward with this group, with Ross, Skinner, and Biles on vault, Ross, Kocian, and Locklear on bars, and Ross, Baumann, and Biles on beam. There's more parity on floor, so I assume the default will be Ross, Skinner, Biles, and then we'll see if anyone falls in prelims to create an argument over who should go in TF, a la Mattie in 2010.

This was the US team submitted for the nominative roster and the one nearly everyone predicted once the injuries shook out. So yeah. At this point, I'm more interested to see if the announced Russian team is actually the one that happens.

September 14, 2014

Let's Discuss Your Skill Set - 2014 Edition

(Before we begin, Bailie Key has verbally committed to Florida. For the moment, let's put this in the "we'll see" category along with Biles and UCLA. We have some big years to get through first.)  

Now to the business at hand. I've gone and done it again. The elite season is all a-flurry. Classic and US Championships are behind us and Mrs. Karolyi's Wild Ride begins tomorrow, which means we have a brand new batch of American routines to dissect to find out which skills are becoming more popular, which skills are becoming less popular, and how that relates to our expectations for the current code of points. Numbers! Thoughts! Squinting!

Below are tables listing the skills performed by US senior gymnasts this summer (with the exception of skills like giants and back handsprings because obviously), broken down by event and skill type. The percentages indicate the proportion of gymnasts who chose to perform each skill, and the info from 2013 and 2012 is included as well for comparison.

Notes: The colors indicate an increase/decrease of at least 10 percentage points in a single year. As with the past two years, I counted the skill attempted—even if it shouldn't receive credit—because this is about evaluating intended composition. This year, I also included the seniors who competed at Classic but not Championships just to give us a few more people to work with. There weren't exactly a lot of seniors this year. And as such, keep in mind that it doesn't take that many gymnasts performing a skill to create a large change in the %s.


-Can we talk about these toe-ons? And why? Everyone and her coach's elderly aunt who always needs to be picked up from the dry cleaners for some reason is doing a toe circle with no pirouetting this year. That skill is booming, up from just 14% in 2012. Now it's in almost half of routines. The stalders are getting in on the action as well with 20% doing stalders compared to none last year. 

A couple people need these C elements to count as part of their 8, but many who perform the toe-on aren't using it as a counting skill. Is it a rhythm thing? Is everyone systematically being forced to put toe-ons that don't count into their routines because of a yet-to-be-determined evil plan involving bees and world domination? It could be a backup skill in case something else gets downgraded, but that's what B giants before the dismount are for. And why suddenly now? What has changed to make this skill more useful than before? Anything?

-We're also seeing slight decreases in the numbers of toe-on fulls and stalder fulls being performed. These decreases are not too large or significant, but they make sense since D pirouettes are less valuable now that skills must have flight to earn significant CV.

-Overall, the routines this season contain more pirouetting skills than last season, which runs slightly counter to the expectation that flight would progressively take over for pirouetting in the 2013-2016 quad because of the changes in CV. It's something to keep an eye on in 2015 and 2016.  

-The Weiler kip moment appears to be passing. Good.

-JAEGERS! Everyone needs a Jaeger! THERE ARE NO OTHER RELEASES! We can call this the tyranny of the grip-change requirement, but it's getting worse.

-The tkatchev is not as popular this year for some reason. It's not really a code issue, since E tkatchev variations connected into paks are extremely valuable for CV. This may just be a year with fewer gymnasts capable/comfortable with that type of skill. This is the year of Ashton Locklear and Madison Kocian on bars, and they're more of the Russian style than the Tweddle style.

-Bye, gienger. We'll always have NCAA.