Why the World Challenge Cups selection matters (look beyond the all-around standings!) – Other gym news – Thoughts from Morgan Price
The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, Sept. 17, 2022
USA Gymnastics announced this week that it would send six senior gymnasts to the upcoming World Challenge Cups in Paris, France, and Szombathely, Hungary, later this month.
Jordan Chiles, Jade Carey and Shilese Jones are headed to Paris, where they will compete in the 2024 Olympic venue.
Katelyn Jong, Addison Fatta, and Levi Jung-Ruivivar will compete in Szombathely and were also added to the senior national team.
This is great news for many reasons: More international competition experience for those lacking it, and international judging feedback with plenty of time to make adjustments prior to the Olympic run-up. We might see Jones or Carey get a skill named after them in Paris; the World Challenge Cups are an ideal, lower-stakes place to perform big tricks for all the glory.
My only quibble, and this is perhaps minor in the grand scheme of things, is that the gymnasts selected to compete here are the top five all-around finishers from the national team camp where they competed for the spots, plus Jones who showed only three events. I had hoped that using all-around scores as the basis for team assignments had gone the way of Tom Forster.
But the World Challenge Cups are not team events, and so the same strategy that we would like to see for, say, worlds, does not apply here. Chiles and Carey finished 1-2 in the all-around, yes, but they are also two gymnasts whose routines could most benefit from international feedback. They are also top Olympic contenders, and I think USAG is recognizing this by sending them to Paris. This is one of Jones’ first major international assignments, and by sending her to the Olympic venue, I’d like to think that USAG is saying, “We see you.” (Way overdue, of course! But it’s happening. I can feel it.)
The Paris event has many athletes who will be top U.S. competitors at worlds and, likely, the Olympics, including Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade and Flavia Saraiva, France’s Melanie de Jesus dos Santos, Belgium’s Nina Derwael, Canada’s Ellie Black and Hungary’s Zsofia Kovacs, so it’s also a good chance to see how the Americans’ routines stack up.
Jong, Fatta and Jung-Ruivivar were just off the national team at championships, but each has been on our radar for a long time. Going to Szombathely may be just the boost they need to break into the top senior ranks. Any of them could make a worlds team on the right day, and now they will have the chance to see how they will be scored by international judges and to familiarize themselves with the routine of a big international meet with less pressure.
The U.S. rarely sends athletes to World Challenge Cups. Carey notoriously competed solo, without USAG’s support, at several apparatus World Cup events to earn her Olympic spot. I like to think it was her success there that prompted a reckoning at USAG about the relevance of these events. Carey has always seemed unflappable at big events, and I’m sure attending those World Cups helped her develop that composure to some extent.
So sure, it’s easy to criticize the selection process if you look only at all-around rankings. But overall, I think USAG made some wise decisions here — to send athletes at all, and specifically these athletes. I think attending these events with these gymnasts at this time will pay off for the program over the next two years as it develops an Olympic team.
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Other gym news
Kentucky great Mollie Korth joins the Georgia coaching staff.
Konnor McClain, national champion, will make her first official visit to LSU this weekend.
Kim Bui spoke to International Gymnast about her retirement from the sport at 33.
Claudia Fragapane shows an original beam combo on her IG.
This Reddit thread about what gymnastics skill people would love to do is fun.
Five at The IX: Morgan Price
Fisk University gymnast Morgan Price gave an interview to The Tennessean this week about decommitting from Arkansas to compete for the first women’s gymnastics team at an HBCU. The article’s behind a paywall, but this video is not. It’s a great look into why she made the choice she did and why it was the right move for her.
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