Gymnastics

2018 Doha Worlds: Finals Notebook

2018 Worlds are over. As always, it was filled with ups and downs. But I’d say there were more ups than downs overall this year. Here are some notes and observations from the six days of finals. (At least, what I can remember. I forgot to write a lot of stuff down in real time.)

The New Format

Prior to this year, the two teams paired together for the final would compete in blocks  with the three team members from each country competing back-to-back-to-back. For example:

team A, member 1
team A, member 2
team A, member 3

After they went, the first team to perform on the apparatus would be followed by a brief warm-up, then:

team B, member 1
team B, member 2
team B, member 3

Starting at these Worlds, the teams alternated competitors with no 2nd warm-up during the rotation:

team A member 1
team B member 1
team A member 2
team B member 2
team A member 3
team B member 3

There was a little concern about how it would work for certain events, particularly men’s parallel bars and women’s uneven bars, because of the individual preferences gymnasts have for the preparation of these apparatus. From what I can tell, it didn’t cause any major problems during the competition. I noticed that different countries to have to collaborate with each other quite a bit more than normal to make it work, though. For example, I noticed Laurent Landi of the US helping the Russian team set up the bars for their next competitor after a US gymnast had gone.

Men’s Team Final

The medalists for the men’s team final were expected to be (in alpha order): China, Japan and Russia. It ended up that way, but it surely wasn’t straightforward.

At the halfway point Japan appeared to have a decent chance at gold. But a botched parallel bars routine left them concentrating on preserving bronze instead of going for gold.

That left China and Russia battling for the top of the podium. Punctuated by a brilliant vault rotation for both teams, they stayed close through the rest of the meet. Ending on high bar, things were going smoothly until Xiao Routeng, the last Chinese competitor, fell leaving the door open for Russia.

Nikita Nagornyy basically needed the score he received in prelims, but a slight error left him with score 0.049 short of the score needed to win.

But despite coming up short of gold, the Russians had reason to celebrate. The result is Russia’s first worlds medal in 12 years for the guys.

Women’s Team Final

The women’s team final podium ended up in an expected order with the podium being the US, Russia and China, but we had some drama getting there. Four or five teams had a chance at the podium during the last rotation, most notably Brazil and France, but in the end the three usual suspects ended on the podium.

What does the record setting margin of victory by the US say? That despite not being able to trust the organization at present moment, the team members can still trust each other.

A Bit Strange But True: The highest score of the women’s team final was on bars, not vault or floor. And it was by Simone.

Per the new Olympic qualifying procedures, the medalists from both team finals (China, Russia and Japan for the men; the US, Russia and China for the women) are now the first three men’s teams qualified for Tokyo. Continue reading “2018 Doha Worlds: Finals Notebook”

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Gymnastics

2018 Doha Worlds: Caribbean Gymnast Qualifying Results and Some Other Thoughts

This year’s round of qualifications was—thankfully—less hectic and injury-riddled than last year in Montreal. Here are some highlights from the four days of qualifications.

Caribbean Gymnasts Qualifications Summary

Worlds newcomer Raegan Rutty of the Cayman Islands obviously enjoyed her big stage debut. After finishing quals in 81st position, she had some fun taking pictures.

 

The delegation from Cuba is probably disappointed with their results. However, the issues started a couple of months ago. It was then that it was uncovered that the federation would not be sending its standout female gymnast Marcia Videaux to Doha because of monetary concerns. In fact, the only reason Randy Leru was able to attend is because Manrique Larduet was able to secure an Olympic scholarship for attendance costs.

Once in Qatar, their fortunes didn’t improve unfortunately. Manrique had to withdraw from from the all-around because of a hand injury, and ended up just outside of the high bar final (he is first reserve in case any of the competitors ahead of him withdraw). Randy missed out on any finals as well, finishing 78th in all-around qualifications.

It was disappointment for Audrys Nin Reyes of the Dominican Republic as well. He struggled on his pet event, vault, ending up completely off the podium (literally) after the landing of his first attempt and almost in the lap of a judge. The Dominican Republic also had to forego sending a woman competitor because of monetary concerns.

Again, the largest delegation from the region came from Jamaica. In fact, it was the first time the country was able to compete as a team on the women’s side.

Continue reading “2018 Doha Worlds: Caribbean Gymnast Qualifying Results and Some Other Thoughts”

Gymnastics, Olympics

How Tokyo 2020 Olympic Spots Will Be Determined for Women’s Artistic Gymnastics

Up until now, gymnastics qualifying for the Olympic Games largely took place at the World Championships the year prior to the Olympics and at the Olympic Test Event held approximately six months after that World Championships.

Starting with qualifications for the 2020 Olympics, the time frame has stretched to the two years prior to the Olympics. Though, the bulk of qualifications will still be in the latter half of 2019 and the first part of 2020.

Below is an overview on how the 98 women (48 as part of teams and 50 as individuals) who will compete at the Olympics in Tokyo will qualify.

VIA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

– 2018 Worlds: The top 3 teams will qualify for Tokyo. This is by country only, not by name for the gymnasts who competed.

– 2019 Worlds: The top 9 teams, other than the already qualified 3, will qualify for Tokyo. Again, this is by country only, not by name for the gymnasts who competed.

– 2019 Worlds: The top 20 individual all-arounders who are NOT on one of the 12 qualifying teams qualify for Tokyo 2020. These spots go to the individual gymnasts and CANNOT be transferred.

– 2019 Worlds: Individual event medalists who are not on one of the qualifying teams –or– one of the additional 20 all-arounders qualify for Tokyo 2020. Like with the all-arounders, these spots go to the individual gymnasts and CANNOT be transferred.

VIA APPARATUS (INDIVIDUAL EVENT) WORLD CUPS

– The overall series winner on each event over the course of the 2018 AND 2019 seasons (November 2018 – March 2020) qualifies for Tokyo 2020.

– The top 3 finishes for each gymnast over the two seasons will be used for the calculation.

– The winner CANNOT have competed at either 2018 Worlds or 2019 Worlds, if the gymnast’s team qualified at either of those competitions. Doing so would mean that the gymnast would’ve technically qualified twice, even though the spots earned for the team are non-nominative and don’t belong to the gymnast.

– If the series winner has already qualified for Tokyo 2020 via a top-12 World Championships team, the next highest in the ranking who wasn’t on a top-12 team gets the qualifying spot.

– The winner of the qualifying spot CAN be from a country of one the top-12 teams, but just couldn’t have been a member of either one of the 2018 or 2019 Worlds teams.

*Special note: Individual event qualifiers will have the option of competing on all 4 events at the Tokyo Olympics.

VIA ALL-AROUND WORLD CUPS

– Only the top-12 qualifying teams will be invited to all-around (AA) World Cups in 2020 (to be held in March and April of that year).

– From those 12 teams, the top 3 countries will earn a Tokyo 2020 qualifying spot. These 3 spots are non-nominative, meaning they don’t belong to a specific gymnast.

– Countries don’t have to send the same gymnast to each of the AA World Cups.

VIA CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

– Per Olympic rule, two gymnasts from each continent, excluding Antarctica, must be represented.

– In 2020, the top 2 all-arounders from the following meets: African Championships, Asian Championships, European Championships, and the Pan-Am(erican) Championships will earn a qualifying spot to Tokyo 2020. The top all-arounder from the 2020 meet to be held in the region of Oceania will also earn a qualifying spot.

– Gymnasts who are a member of a top-12 team and competed at either 2018 Worlds or 2019 Worlds are NOT eligible to earn one of these spots.

– If the top 2 eligible gymnasts (or the 1 from Oceania) are from a top-12 team, the qualifying spot belongs to the country. If the top 2 eligible gymnasts are not from a top-12 team, the qualifying spot belongs to the gymnast.

ADDITIONAL QUALIFIERS

– It’s also a requirement that the Olympic host nation have at least 1 participant. Making the assumption Japan will qualify as a team, this spot will be opened to the next highest all-arounder from 2019 Worlds who is not already qualified.

– The last spot is the tripartite invitation. This qualifying spot is offered to a gymnast from a country that had an average of less than 8 athletes compete at the previous two Olympic Games (in this case, Rio 2016 and London 2012). If unused, this spot will be opened to the next highest all-arounder from 2019 Worlds who is not already qualified.

The official procedure for qualifying from the FIG can be found here.

Gymnastics

Random Thoughts from 2018 Classics

The late summer competition season is here for women’s artistic gymnastics. European Championships start this week (August 2 thru August 12). In the U.S., the season kicks off with the marathon competition day that is Classics, or more formally the 2018 GK U.S. Classic. Held yesterday, here are some random thoughts.

Let’s start with the juniors (per usual)…

This is the perfect way to describe Zoe Gravier‘s floor routine to me. Some didn’t like it. I couldn’t turn away. I need her to end up on a NCAA team with good choreographers. Not everyone can pull off a routine like this–and she sold it.

Overall, the junior gymnasts were quite impressive on beam. All-around winner Leanne Wong definitely was.

If the names didn’t give it away, you would definitely be able to figure out who Aleah Finnegan and eMjae Frazier are related to. Their styles are very reminiscent of their older sisters Sarah and Margzetta, respectively.

On to the seniors… Continue reading “Random Thoughts from 2018 Classics”

Gymnastics

The Top 12 Teams of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gym Season

Before we get to the thoughts, perhaps my favorite line from a fluff piece ever (played as the opening before the semifinals): “It does not matter how great of an athlete you are, you cannot play gymnastics. And that’s where the brawn comes in.”

1. UCLA
The concern coming into Nationals was their vaulting. Obviously, you can give away a little elsewhere if you have bars and beam like that. I told my sister on Saturday just before the meet started I thought only two teams had a chance to win if Oklahoma had a hit meet: UCLA and LSU, but they’d have to be perfect. I didn’t expect to actually see it. UCLA got two perfect 10s from Peng in the only two events she competes–and they needed every bit of it.

Peng also had my favorite post-meet quote: “I’m so excited and I have no tears in my eyes because I think they’re partying on the inside.”

2. Oklahoma
Like I mentioned before, it was going to take perfection to beat them. OU was a little off at the beginning on beam–and I mean just slightly, but it didn’t seem like it was going to make the difference. Yet, it did by a mere 0.0375. I do wonder if the rotation order got them a bit by having to start on an apparatus that is a noted strength for them when scores tend to be tight early in a meet. However, it’s OU. The separation between their best and fourth best events isn’t as dramatic as it for other teams. This was just a great, and really closely contested meet.

3. Florida
The last rotation was so much fun (and a bit stressful) with the four main contenders competing at the same time. Florida put up a valiant effort on floor–the event that gave them the most difficulty this season–in that final rotation, but had lost a little too much on beam to make up the difference.

4. LSU
LSU had a very similar meet to Florida. Went lights out their last event, vault, like Florida did on floor, but had lost too much ground from their beam rotation. And when I say lost too much ground, I’m only referring to two tenths!

5. Utah
Not a bad effort in Super Six, but noticeably off the pace of the top four with a performance a little below their normal effort on floor and vault.

6. Nebraska
Happy to see them make the final after being so, so close last year. After the first two rotations during the first National semifinal, it was clear Nebraska held its own destiny in getting to the Super Six final. Every year it seems, they start a little slowly but by the end they’re right there. They were out of it from the start with a rough bars rotation in the final, but a great year.

Continue reading “The Top 12 Teams of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gym Season”

Gymnastics

2018 Pre-Postseason NCAA Women’s Gym Super Six Prediction (and other thoughts)

Not much has changed in the way of favorites as the NCAA women’s gymnastics season enters the postseason. Here’s how the top teams are shaping up for the last postseason before the new format goes into effect. (To read my thoughts from before the season started, click here.)

1. Oklahoma (Preseason #1)
When you set the regular season scoring record and your “off” meets net a high 197, you are the undisputed title favorite.

2. LSU (Preseason #3)
LSU is certainly a strong possibility too, but they’ve had more moments this season of little breaks throughout the meet that add up than OU. However, with the way this sports year has gone this far—the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl for the first time and a #16 seed knocking off a #1 seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament for the first time—I can’t shake the possibility of it finally being time for LSU to win a National Championship.

3. UCLA (Preseason #6)
Vault will be key. UCLA tends to give up some ground to the top two on vault. If UCLA can keep vault (and to a lesser extent, floor) close, their bars and beam can make up a little gap.

4. Utah (Preseason #5)
If you don’t consider LSU as a dark horse pick for the title, Utah is a good choice. In fact, I’ve had this gut feeling all season that if it all comes together at the right time, and they get a little leniency with the beam connections, they’ll be right in it as well.

5. Florida (Preseason #2)
Maybe a year away. I mentioned their big freshman class coming in and, while very talented, that inexperience has shown consistently throughout the season. Kennedy Baker suffering a torn Achilles didn’t help either.😪

6. ???
Usually Super Six is a given for Alabama (Preseason #4)—and it certainly can still happen. However, this team hasn’t shown the maximum score potential this year the top five have, and is very vulnerable to getting knocked out by a number of teams if those other teams have a solid day on the right day. I get the feeling this Super Six spot may come down to the draw and which teams are in which semifinal. Not to mention if there are any surprises from Regionals.

Further Down the Ranking:
Do you remember that Arizona State finished 41st last season? The turnaround of the last couple of seasons took a MAJOR leap forward this year, recording their most wins since 2006. As the season heads to conference championship weekend, Arizona State currently holds a position as a seeded team for Regionals in 17th.

The way Georgia‘s season started, it looked like it could be a disaster. Already with a thin roster, they could’ve let the first meet injury to Gigi Marino, which in addition to the preseason injury list left them hardly able to put up enough gymnasts on each event for a full score, tank their season. But adversity does one of two things to a team: it either tears them apart or it galvanizes them. It did the latter for UGA, which going into conference championship weekend is a respectable 18th.

Also, shout out to George Washington (#19), particularly their senior class of Brooke Bray, Camille Drouin-Allaire, Sara Mermelstein, Elizabeth Pfelier, Madeline Seibold, Jillian Winstanley, and Alexandra Zois.  They made this a team you had to keep an eye on for the last four years.

Gymnastics, Music

Good Mood Music: In the Mood

Another genre of music I enjoy: big band or swing.

The genre was at its peak in the 1940s, although it had a resurgence in the late 1990s into the early 2000s. Big band music is typified by four sections of instruments: saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a rhythm section that consists of a guitar, piano, double bass and drums.

One of the most recognizable pieces of big band music is “In the Mood.” The most popular version of this song was done by Glenn Miller and Orchestra in 1939, but it was actually a cover of the original done by Edgar Hayes and Orchestra the year prior.

The Glenn Miller version got a big boost when it was featured in the movie Sun Valley Serenade in 1941, a movie I profiled a musical scene from last year.

I first heard the song as a part of Kim Zmeskal’s floor routine in the early 1990s. (Side note: I just happened to publish this blog entry on her birthday.)

It’s actually one of two big band songs that make up her music. The other is “Sing, Sing, Sing,” originally done by Louis Prima and the New Orleans Gang. The two songs, as well as many others, are commonly heard together because of a compilation medley done by Larry Elgart in the early 1980s called Hooked On Swing.