Leaving aside the prospects of Raisman as a bars specialist and my dream team for a moment, Scam did shake things up in the US camp. The real one, not the one in my head. There were winners and losers emerging from the events of Saturday, and most of them weren’t even there.
The single most significant routine of the day was Gabby’s Amanar:
And the reason for this is that it leaves room for the US to take two bars specialists. Gabby’s bars upgrades were also a treat, of course, but they don’t necessarily change that much. She was the US’s best bars worker before Scam – Bross needs to get through a routine before she gets that accolade back again – and she still is. Only difference is, she’s now an EF medal contender.
This set starts from 6.5, and the version she did on podium training could certainly score 9 or close to it internationally.
That’s comparable to Komova’s world title winning routine. The Russians and Tweddle are upgrading, as Stoi! has previously discussed, but Douglas is in the mix. Her EF chances are irrelevant to the team selection though, really. Marta is more than happy to leave potential individual medallists at home if need be, or even out of the lineup despite there being a big gap in it (Anna Li could easily have taken bronze in Tokyo).
But with Gabby as a killer AAer with particular strength on vault and bars, that may leave Marta’s highest scoring team as 3 AAers plus 2 bars specialists. Wieber and Ross are both AAers with huge potential, great vaults and ok but not ideal bars. Taking those two plus Gabby leaves room for two bars specialists: Bross, Liukin, Caquatto, Sloan, Li, whoever really. Bross is probably the favourite, but it could be any two. Like so:
VT- Douglas, Ross, Wieber (fabulous)
UB- Douglas, bars specialist 1, bars specialist 2
BB- Douglas, Wieber and Ross could do it, or the bars specialist could be used here too
FX- Douglas, Wieber, Ross
Of course, there may not be two bars specialists worth taking. But this leaves room. It’s also bad news for Maroney, which is a damn shame. But she looks less and less like a necessity, Olympic vault champion in waiting though she is. Her Amanar is sumptuous, and makes all others look a big disappointing in comparison, but it’s probably only adding a couple of tenths max. Her floor is fine, but not top notch. Raisman and Wieber can easily outscore her, Ross and Douglas might. And that third pass is trouble waiting to happen. The reality is that, as a one eventer, there are others who’ll have the potential to add more. Maroney is likely to require injuries from others and upgrades on floor to allow her to make the team. Some of both will no doubt happen, though.
Regarding bars, I hope we all noticed Nastia’s expression during Gabby’s routine. The other watching Olympic AA champions were all enchanted. Miss Liukin, less so. She much preferred only having to measure up against 15s, not 15.5s. Again though, I don’t think Gabby’s bars upgrades are necessarily that important in terms of team selection. Liukin won’t be competing with her for a bars specialist slot after all, and the odds were that Gabby was going if healthy anyway.
Gabby wasn’t the only one showing a new Amanar of course, but I don’t think Aly Raisman’s was particularly significant. She wasn’t in the top 3 vaulters in the US before doing it, and she still isn’t.
Fair play to her for getting it round: many people, Stoi! included, doubted whether she’d be able to fully rotate one. And she has. I don’t like some of her Amanar landings though- check out the ones from podium training and warmups too. They look a bit too much like an injury waiting to happen. I watched enough Mustafina to be able to spot those coming.
So with that in mind, I still think Raisman’s route onto the team is the same as it was before: beam and floor. That’s what she should keep working on. They don’t need her on vault and not even Marta is cynical enough to use her as a bars specialist, tempting as that thought is. Don’t get me wrong, she might well end up being chosen, vaulting and throwing an Amanar. We can rule nothing out, not when Marta has a long lineup of fresh talent to squander. I just think I’d be thinking carefully about the risks, if I were Aly.
Her DTY at worlds got 15.233. Most of those Amanars are going to top out at 15.6 internationally, max. I’m not entirely sure that’s worth the injury risk, particularly on an event where the US are already stacked. It doesn’t really even change her place in the US vault ranks either. With or without it, she is their 5th best vaulter- 6th if Sacramone makes it back. Nobody else has a better DTY or a weaker Amanar than she does. Maroney, Ross, Douglas and Wieber are all ahead of her, either way. And the rest are behind.
We are now three months away from Olympic selection. If Marta’s reign teaches us anything, it’s that nobody is too good to be wasted by overtraining. For this reason, it’s stupid to say there are any definites now, or to rule anyone out. Nonetheless, I think Scam shook things up a bit. As always, it functions best as a US intrasquad rather than pretending to be a legitimate international competition. 2012 was no different.
Stoi! readers, what implications do you think last weekend had for the US?