How Do You Solve A Problem Like Tom Forster?

Jess seems to know the code and Brian really helped Jade make stunning progress (sadly we didn’t see Riley’s work). Both did an exceptional job pacing their athletes to the Olympics.

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Nope, not even Brian. He didn’t understand that USAG could only send five gymnasts if Jade declined the +1.

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I would absolutely love Jess Graba as HPD. Not only does he have the coaching talent, but he was super savvy with the COP and also paced Suni Lee extremely well through what could have been a season ending injury. She peaked at the right time and had to go through the nationals and trials process unlike Jade who could water down significantly or skip apparatus.

Additionally, his ties with his brother in the NCAA would do well to finally bridge the gap between NCAA and USAG elite. There is no reason why more college gymnasts don’t do elite. If USAG even brought back a University Games team that would be some incentive to do some elite, and who knows what kind of specialists we could potentially get. Anastasia Webb wouldn’t clean up in elite Worlds but I think her clean execution would do well at a Universiade. With the potential depth of the US shrinking after this generation, building depth is always good. Russia and China have their reserve teams and often attend Universiade.

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Or he understood it perfectly and did not give a rat’s patootie who he would screw over.

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Russia have qualifying meets for universiade completely separate from the national team. Quite often it’s gymnasts not on the national team who go.

Graba came across well in Golden, and should be given massive credit for pacing and peaking an injury-prone athlete for Tokyo. Suni went 0 for 2 at Classics only to hit 29 consecutive routines at Nationals, Trials, and the Olympics. The irony is many thought she could only compete as a specialist; instead she brought home AA gold and struggled for one bronze in two EFs.

His composition ideas run hot and cold, but unlike GAGE he tends to learn from his mistakes. The 2019 beam with two acro series was a fool’s errand, but he reworked everything for 2020ne, and that routine turned out to be quite tactical and reliable. The original 2019 bars set was basically like 2020ne except for the Bhardwaj-Maloney, but it wasn’t ready, so she stuck with a 6.4 that she could hit. Graba somehow got the memo months before Derwael that the Nab 1/2 was a waste of time, or maybe Suni didn’t want to compete it.

I will never understand him keeping the double L on floor, though. That nearly cost her the AA gold, and even without the double back she still had 9 elements. Turns out he wanted the double back gone all along, but only could convince Suni to remove it after TF.

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I think he understood it. He just didn’t care. And why would he?

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Haha I wrote my reply before seeing yours! Ha exactly!

Oh my gosh wasn’t it. And the fact she kept falling and falling on the same series on the same SIDE of the beam, and they still didn’t nix it until 2020.

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I agree that Tom seems pretty dopey. Having said that, I’m hesitant to hang him out to dry on such a high level (on all but media relations, he clearly sucks there), without understanding the scope of his position from the USAG and how much direction he was given. We are making a lot of assumptions that his position captured the same scope of Marta’s. At this point, we don’t know that it did and it may not be all his fault.

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I think the idea of splitting the position into two would be a good one. I read that somewhere and the job seems like it isn’t done well by anyone so maybe the breadth of responsibility is too wide. One person who is the technical aspect who reviews routines and recommends changes to the athlete and coach, who attends to ALL the technical aspects and slaves away over the help desk etc. They watch gymnasts at camp and fly to the national team members’ gyms. But they work closely with people who are media trained, who do the talking, who are savvy in crisis management, who oversee safety. Get somebody who does everything else.

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This was a major point of confusion among several people in the community, including “trusted” media sources (Tim Daggett implied she could decline on air), but Brian supposedly didn’t know until Stuttgart Worlds that Jade would have to accept the spot.

The reason I believe he was genuinely in the dark is because he could’ve had Jade just do two World Cups prior to 2019 Worlds and wait to do a third, if it looked clear that she was likely to earn a spot and if Worlds suggested that a main team berth was imminent. That would’ve been an actual strategy instead of hauling ass to all the initial World Cups during 2018/2019. Mathematically she didn’t even need to attend Melbourne 2020, and because it was a fourth World Cup Brian had to foot the bill.

“The Careys originally thought they would have to decide in March whether to accept the individual spot or pass on it and take their chances with making the four-woman U.S. team. But Brian Carey said they were told at the world championships last fall that they will have to take the individual spot if Jade qualifies for it.”

“Ultimately, it was going to be her decision. But I was hoping that she would take that spot, anyway,” Brian Carey, Jade’s father and coach, said Monday before the national team’s first training camp of the year.

“Anything can happen at any moment,” Brian Carey continued. “If you get a stomach flu at the Olympic trials, then you could be sitting at home watching.”

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Judging and skill choices are the biggest issues, particularly dance elements. The body shape stuff is inexcusable after 2019, so the higher-ranked brevets need to step up in the absence of coaches not getting it. I doubt the USA will ever have an HPC again, though, who is the total package of technical coaching, CoP knowledge, media-savvy, won’t trigger a series of Scott Reid articles, etc.

COVID and Simone withdrawing already provide plausible deniability for a Tokyo flop. USA WAG still managing 2 golds, silvers, and bronzes apiece with everybody medaling, and 2/3 of the squad medaling individually, should stave off any hard questions from execs or USOPC.

Now, USA might have gotten there the hard way, and Tom may have been vindicated largely on circumstance, which is maddening. Suni barely wins AA gold. Simone and Jade’s mega-flukes morphed vault finals into one where somebody who got two-per’d becomes their only hope. Suni and Simone walk away with EF medals from finals that nobody else from USA could have won, and if somebody else did medal on bars or beam, all they’d do is push the second American off the podium. And Jade keeps Simone’s floor gold warm in a fashion none of the remaining team could have done, and she got to Tokyo herself.

But at the end of the day, the medal haul is what it is. For all the talk of “fire Tom Forster during/after the Games,” Tokyo results won’t be what get him, if anything does. I don’t think he’ll ever be the sharpest or most effective, so I hope US judges really take some notes from Tokyo (lol).

I’m not sure what the alternative is, anyway. If the Fongs and KZB were acting a mess under Marta, I’m not sure there’s an HPC they would listen to, and I think a Bastille or Tuileries arc from the Landis is premature and unlikely.

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I know that but quite often members of the national team ARE on the Universiade team and often reserve team members compliment the team.

Galieva in 1997
Khorkina and Produnova in 1999
Ezhova and Privalova in 2001
Zamolodchikova and Ziganshina in 2005
Zamolodchikova in 2007
Klyukina and Zamo in 2009
Myzdrikova and Lozchecko in 2011
Afansayeva, Dementyeva, Paseka, Mustafna, Nabieva in 2013
Fedorova, Kramarenko, Nabieva, Elizarova in 2015
Akhaimova, Spiridonva, Paseka, Elizarova in 2017
Akhaimova, Nabieva, Perebinosova in 2019
These were all national team members who were also on Olympics, Worlds, or European teams.

The US has had the opportunity to field teams and stopped doing so in either 1999 or 2001.
With the gymnasts sometimes staying on a bit longer now and with NCAA gymnasts sometimes still doing elite (Thomas, Skinner) perhaps if there was a pipeline for NCAA gymnasts to qualify to US Nationals or at the very least, Universaide Trials (like they used to hold) perhaps it would encourage more NCAA athletes to consider training elite.

Reading this it made me think about some things. I wonder what it would be like if there wasn’t a ‘face’ to answer to? I feel like Tom is always pushed as the ‘Marta’ that the girls have to answer to and he’s seen as the person in power that makes the final decisions (though he has two other members of a committee that makes the decisions as to who makes the teams). I think the committee that makes the decisions shouldn’t even include the coordinator. Let those two entities be different and not connected. That way there would be much less pressure on the coordinator and less pressure on the athletes to need to please this one person (the person they should be able to comfortably reach out to for guidance on what’s expected from them in re: to performance, routine construction, etc). The coordinator’s only job could be to prepare the athletes through camps and then present them to a completely non connected committee who ‘objectively’ chose the team based on clear parameters.

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I think the third big issue is communication. It’s very clear that athletes received drastically different amounts of feedback from Forster (even if the feedback wasn’t particularly worthwhile), and athletes throughout the spectrum of the Olympic hopefuls had absolutely no idea what was expected from them and what they needed to do to advance or make the team. That is completely unacceptable.

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Some athletes were shafted in the amount of time and attention they got like Shilese. That’s an indication to me that there needs to be a technical person. Yeah her coach may not be a nice person and nobody wants to help him but it’s not Shilese’s fault.

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That also seems like it should be relatively low hanging fruit, especially if USAG were willing to divide the role up a bit and have someone with specific comms responsibility and expertise.

I don’t understand why every NT member or regular camp attendee doesn’t have a half hour Zoom meeting every month with the NTC to discuss goals, progress, and expectations

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Because they get more than that already.