When I first heard, Jordyn Wieber will replace injured Nicole Hibbert at the 2011 American Cup, I was absolutely fine with it. The better the gymnasts, the better the competition. And I think everyone will agree with me that Wieber is a better and more capable gymnast than Hibbert. That’s still my opinion – from a viewer’s point.
From a coach’s or a gymnast’s point I have a totally different opinion after the annoying commentators Elfie, Tim and Al informed us about the fact that Aliya Mustafina‘s coach Alexander Alexandrov was furious about adding Wieber to the field. His argument Wieber isn’t old enough doesn’t count – according to the rules a gymnast has to turn 16 the year she’s competing. But the argument they didn’t expect someone else than the 24 all-arounders from Worlds to compete counts for me.
The FIG changed the rules very quickly after they realized there aren’t eight competitors from the all-around final in Rotterdam who can participate in the World Cup. So I could imagine the Russians only accepted the invitation because they knew exactly they didn’t need full difficulty in order to win the meet. Let’s say it one last time – as other European countries they are just not ready so early in the year. Maybe the FIG really begged them to come (I don’t know, I could imagine. Tim or Al said they didn’t really want to come in the first place.) – after all the FIG changed the rules in order to make World Cups more attractive for the viewers. A World Champion is definitely a crowd puller. And what I also know is that Aliya Mustafina won’t go to such a meet in the United States if she isn’t absolutely sure that she will win. So Hibbert’s replacement with Wieber really must have been a little shock for the Russians.
The US girls especially like to repeat over and over that they don’t look at other competitors. They try to give their best and don’t care about who else is on the floor. Maybe they really don’t care. But normally – and that’s absolutely fine – you check out your competitors. You want to know against whom you have to compete. And you adjust you routines if your competitors are stronger or weaker. That’s what Alexandrov and Mustafina surely did before the meet. They looked at the AA competitors from last World Championships and they knew that they will win this meet – with a DTY and lower difficulty on the other apparatus.
So, while I loved to watch the competition as a viewer and gymnastics fan and while I’m absolutely fine with the scoring, I don’t agree with the lineup changes. In my opinion it would have been more fair to let only seven gymnasts compete – Wieber could have competed but her scores wouldn’t have counted.
And I’m not sure if the FIG did the right thing, to upset the Russians. After all, they want them to come to other World Cups…