Or ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same- Part 2’.
It isn’t that there was nothing of note at US Classic on Saturday- there was. If nothing else, the veterans saw to that. It’s just that the Olympic team before Saturday was very likely Wieber, Douglas, Raisman, Ross and Maroney. And for my money, it still is.
Let’s consider why, one by one.
Not her best showing, but she can afford it. The missed bars routine should be no surprise to anyone, as she tends to screw up roughly 1 in 4. She remains a risk on the event, but one that the US are fairly likely to have to take anyway.
Unfortunately, the way her routine is designed means that one error tends to lead to more. Wieber’s lack of swing means she relies heavily on strength, speed and connections instead. When it works, it’s really a superb routine considering her modest ability on the event, but it’s hard for her to correct minor errors without being off for the next move.
This also means that there isn’t the option of making it a safer routine by just leaving out one problematic element, like eg Grishina’s shap transition. There’s nothing the US can really do to make this anything other than a risky set.
She looks to have grown a bit, too. Now is not the best time for the puberty fairy to bestow her blessings. But like Johnson in 08, she should be ok for the Olympics- just. (Although increasingly, my money is on Larisa Iordache for the AA. You heard it here).
The Olympic vault champion in waiting, and useless on any other event. I can’t think of the last time anyone was such a guaranteed gold medallist. It would help the selectors a lot if she could look usable on floor, but life wasn’t meant to be easy.
The big winner from the weekend. Four more extremely solid performances, and a big AA total. I could pick out the overscores, but why bother? International judges love her too. In all fairness, that first tumble on floor was sick hot. One of the best passes the world has seen in a long while. She also helped her case on vault. Still messy, but a lot safer looking than we saw from her in Jesolo.
It wasn’t quite fully rotated, but D panels this quad have consistently credited Amanar attempts that are more than 2.25 rotations. So this should be fine, 15.5 internationally no problem. Ross and Douglas are both better vaulters than her when they hit, but of course they didn’t. Miss Raisman is doing very well at making herself indispensable.
Another stunning bars set from her, and it was good to see her compete the piked Tkatchev without the 0.3 feet deduction. If she can stay healthy, she’s a lock. The US need her, to the extent that she can get away with fucking up yet another beam set even though that’s usually the kiss of death in Marta’s eyes. Her floor wasn’t bad either: if the Olympics were tomorrow, she’d probably lead off in TFs. So the question remains not whether Douglas will be on the team, but how many events she’ll do. Anything between one and four, frankly.
Probably her worst performance this year. But she can get away with one underpar beam set, and she did herself a huge favour on bars. It looks more and more like she might be on the team for UB/BB only. But that’s fine. None of the other potential contenders for that spot can actually hit two routines (more on that later) and of course she’s usable on the other two events if needs be. An Amanar off the mat is still likely to break 15.
It would be prudent for her to bang out a couple of 15.5s on beam at some point during the next few weeks, though, and land an Amanar on the mat. Just in case.
For the supporting cast, I have the following to say:
Liukin was fine, and that beam routine will probably be usable. She’s not getting a 6 D score for that internationally, even with both leo and reigning champion bonus. Not that anybody needed us to tell them that. But without bars, everything is speculation.
Bross, too, has done the bare minimum to remain in contention. I’m now ruling her out of the running for beam. That’s not to say she won’t end up competing it in London- you never know with the US injury record- but there isn’t enough time left for her to end up in anything close to a first choice lineup. She remains in the running for bars, and bars only.
There’s still lots left to do, and this is only, what, the second bars set she’s hit since Rotterdam. However, she now has a 15.2 on the team’s worst event under her belt. If she does this four more times by the end of Trials, she can’t be ruled out. And if she does get on, she should send flowers to Wieber.
Price looked good on vault and bars, and something tells me not to rule her out entirely just yet. Sarah Finnegan was nice, but unfortunately Marta probably won’t want her and Raisman on the same team. They’re both too weak on bars. There’s no reason why it couldn’t work, if the other three were Wieber, Ross and Douglas. And I confidently expect Raisman to pull a 14.5 on the event in London, putting her only a couple of tenths behind Wieber.
But still, with these two it’s probably either/or. If so, Raisman’s not likely to be the one that misses out, is she?
Stoi! readers, what do you think? Not about Memmel, ideally.