Can I break some news to you? There are guys in this competition. I know. Weird, right? Here are the scoresheets for tomorrow's (tonight's) opening day of Koheichella 2015.
The women's qualification finished today, and I'm still slightly unclear about whether it was a fever dream or real life. Aly Raisman is inconsistent now, or something, and I don't really understand what to do with that. At least no one tried to perform a Dirty Romania on us, so that's always a positive.
-Welp, the US went today. As expected, the Pink Eagles are leading by roughly a googol. That said, it didn't go super awesomely awesome. They had three falls, which according to the Martha Rules, is six falls too many. When a third of the team is having a near emotional breakdown in the post-meet interview, you know it wasn't an ideal day.
-The biggest news was that Carmen Sandiego stole Aly Raisman and replaced her with some nervous, erratic hot pink replica. Aly threw herself out of bounds on her opening floor pass, won the gold medal in the triple jump on her vault landing, and then 2010-2011ed her bars routine. Fortunately, in true "Here's my beam-ah! NEXT BEAM-AH!" fashion, she came back and was solid enough to be useful on beam, although she did not get D panel credit for...really anything. The judges were just like, "No skills here..." The US filed a petition on the D score, which Nellie Kim threw immediately into the round circular filing system in the corner of the room. Raisman won't advance to any event finals or the all-around, though she will advance to an awesome narrative for next Trials season, so that's something. I'M FULL OF REDEMPTION.
-Aren't you really impressed that I got through two whole paragraphs before turning into a barrel of slime about the Maggie Nichols AA qualification situation? Because I am. I'll just say this: Maggie would have needed a 12.985 on bars to take the second US AA final spot. And after that, I'm just going to stare straight ahead and blink a whole lot. Once Martha is done yelling at the team, she needs to buy Maggie an apology alpaca or something. Whatever they use for currency in Karolyiopolis. Because Maggie got hosed by the system here. Fight the power!
-As it is, Gabby is going to the AA final. She had a monster of a day for three events (i.e., her best landings maybe ever), but then slightly lost her mind on beam. Still, 75% of the day was the best she has looked since August 2nd, 2012 by about a thousand percent. She's perfectly capable of having another one of those didn't-you-know-I'm-the-best days in the AA final and sailing her way to silver.
-It was nice to see Kocian make the bars final this year after falling in qualification last year, though one Brenna Dowell didn't have such a lovely time with life. Did she get on the bad side of a Native American lupine trickster spirit at some point? Brenna finally gets to compete at Worlds, and then just as she's about to start floor, the concept of sound ceases to exist, and then she goes to bars and turns to jelly in the middle of a kip then does her shap 1/2 into an invisible wall made of pain, scoring a 2. Well, at least Mykayla Skinner gets a friend for TF! YAY FOR TEAM ADVENTURE!
-Speaking of Mykayla Skinner, she got to put on a leo and be introduced along with the team members. Which was weird, and a little sad, didn't you think? It was too "we're all champions here" for my taste.
-Meanwhile, through all this, Simone was just like, "My favorite color is winning," and rolled through the day like it was nothing. As we've come to expect. I was pleased, though, to see how composed she was on beam in this situation, since it's always a nervous event for her and she was going up following a rash of mistakes.
-Other teams happened too.
-We have to talk about the greatest moment of the entire day, China's introduction, when everyone was supposed to salute but Shang was just like, "I have a question..."
-In this moment, we are all Shang Chunsong.
-China had a less extreme version of Romania's case of the splatty-splatty-bad-bads, also deciding to take this opportunity to fall into literally every place. Interestingly, China had almost exactly as many mistakes as Romania did, but had the start values and random high-scoring hits sprinkled in to make it not devastating, just worrying. China finished behind Great Britain in 4th, which isn't great for a team that's supposed to win silver here.
-China has pockets of excellence. For instance, Shang and Wang are capable of getting good scores on floor (though I officially despise the "3/1" to immediate front tuck), but there's always a catch, like having to come up with a third floor score. Ruh-roh. Also of concern is having to rely on Shang, Wang, and Fan all to hit beam in TF instead of getting Pinocchio-legs at the first sign of an acro skill, and those very charitably scored DTYs. ("I'M A TRIANGLE! 9.000 E SCORE!") In the warmup, quite a few of the Chinese vaulters landed their DTYs in handstand. Incorrect.
-Both China and Russia have areas of greatness and areas of worry, and in TF, it may come down to which team's batch of three wildly nerve-racking beam routines is the least disastrous. All the heart attacks. Troubling for China, though, will be the fact that even though bars should be a strength for both teams, Russia's hit bars routines significantly outscored China's hit bars routines in qualification. Giving up major tenths on bars is the cardinal sin of Chinese gymnastics. Well, second to eating. (I went there.)
-Also, those floor routines are really boring.
-The highlight for China was probably Fan Yilin's bars routine, the kind of clean, impossibly difficult (yet also not terrifying, memo to Tan Jiaxin) routine we expected from China in the Yang Yilin/He Kexin days of yore. I hope she's around doing that routine for a while.
-In other news, Netherlands! This leaping bag of free diamonds finally put it together and qualified both to the team final and Rio, primarily on the back of a damn clinic on how to do beam like a glorious wonder instead of like a truck driver with crabs. Netherlands has been this talented for a while, but this time, the team found both the consistency to go with it and three major talents all together at the same time instead of one or two. I was going to say I want to adopt Eythora Thorsdottir, but it should probably be the other way around. I need her help.
-It's a somewhat similar story for France and Belgium. Both countries will have to go to the test event after finishing 10th and 11th respectively, but both showed very respectable, encouraging results that should set them up well to challenge for a spot next April. Unfortunately, the undoing for both was vault difficulty, with the highest D score for either team being a 5.2."[French accent] Because we are too beautiful to vault like some, how you say, beast." I'M CULTURALLY SENSITIVE.
-That's the next step for both these teams, though. Right now, they're about two or three DTYs from making a team final. Vault is the place to rake it in now since the execution scores are so much higher than on other events, which is also preposterous and unacceptable, but c'est la vie. (FRENCH THEME.) France was 15th on vault and Belgium 17th. For that matter, Netherlands was 18th, but the Dutch had those big beam scores to balance it out so it didn't come back to haunt them. France and Belgium didn't have quite the same big score on another event.
-What also linked all three teams was a commitment to clean, medium-lowish difficulty routines. YUCK. HOW DARE THEY. Note that France, Belgium, and the Netherlands all finished in the top 8 on floor, which I don't think many of us would have called going in since none is known for tumbling work, and they all did it with D scores in the 5.4-5.6 range. Nothing fancy. Nothing huge. Just clean work executed into the high 13s. It's encouraging to see that rewarded, and I do hope the success of these three teams will lead others to recognize that perfect execution on medium-difficulty routines actually can work.
-On the flip side, Australia. Australia had one of those very, exceptionally, very, very not good days, finishing in 14th after being a legitimate contender for TF coming in, forcing Peggy Liddick to do some serious anger-decoupaging tonight. She's going to glitter the shit out of some shit. Australia often sneaks in at 8th place, but not this time. A nightmare day on beam was their primary undoing, but none of the scores were really strong enough to challenge the top 8. There's still the test event, but they must step up every event to get a full team to Rio. Work to be done.
-The BeloAmericans scored 51s in the AA. You're welcome, Belarus. Enjoy your reinvigorated program. Another job well done, thanks to America. *high-fives self*
-In the AA, it really is Biles and the filthy peasants. Steingruber qualified in 2nd with a fall after a strong day on the other three events. Good AAs don't often come in bunches for her, so here's hoping she's able to do 2 in a row this time. Here's also hoping that Larisa hasn't cried herself into a puddle yet and can redeem Romania a little. She'll be starting in the beam group, which is crazy, but she'll be right in it for a medal. As will Ellie Black. She's just got to be the sturdy little engine. Let the messes be messes and just bum hop her way right onto the podium. Also, if she bum hops her way onto the podium...
-Lieke Wevers will be in the lead group for the AA final! I'm very pleased about that because she has the misfortune of being an alternate for both the bars and floor finals, along with getting two-per-countried out of being an alternate for the beam final. Which kind of sucks. Congratulations, you're almost good enough! Enjoy your nothing! But also, NETHERLANDS has to deal with two-per-country rule problems. You have officially arrived.
-Brittany Rogers didn't make any finals. Gymnastics, this is your fault. Check yourself.
-Ellie Downie ended up making both the vault and floor finals, which is thrilling after her disappointment in the AA. There's an opening for both the silver and bronze on floor now that Raisman is out, and while it will be very hard for Downie to sneak a medal on floor over the likes of Miyakawa and Afan, this is a floor final full of people notorious for inconsistency, so get ready for some strange.
-Nush got a 51.999! Spot for Jamaica at the test event. Spot for my heart in a bowl of kittens.