Reflections after US Nationals

This competition initially looked to promise a bit of a shake up. Wieber seemed a bit ropey in podium training, rumours abounding about Liukin, plus Sloan and Sacramone were back in the game. People thought we might be partying like it was 2004. It didn’t really deliver.

The team was evidently Wieber, Raisman, Maroney, Douglas and Ross before start of play. For our money, and assuming Maroney’s broken nose doesn’t fuck things up too much for her, it still is. There are a number of reasons for this. The main one is that the five locks did pretty well, and the pretenders not well enough.

We probably don’t need to spell this out to anyone who likes gym enough to find our blog, but let’s do it anyway:

VT- Douglas/Raisman, Wieber, Maroney

UB- Wieber, Ross, Douglas

BB- Wieber, Raisman, Ross

FX- Douglas, Wieber, Raisman

Let’s now discuss the reasons why this remains the case.

Wieber is a hella tough competitor. Yes, her growth spurt is happening at just the wrong time. Yes, her absolutely massive bellend of a coach needs to not tweet during competitions, given that use of mobile devices could lead to her being disqualified. And yes, she got more help than Douglas and as such should probably have finished second rather than first.

But none of this particularly matters. Jordyn went 8 for 8 in a high pressure scenario, and we think she’ll make like Shawn Johnson and manage to just squeeze through the Olympics before the puberty fairy really bites.

Douglas was, for our money, better. But she can’t complain too much, it’s her own fault she fell off beam. Clearly the US can’t trust her to hit this event and she won’t be an option for TFs, but she made a good case for herself as the 3rd floor worker.

Gabby’s tendency to silly OOBs seems to have waned somewhat as the season has progressed, and she’s looking more like someone who’ll repeatedly break 14.5 in London. Good good, especially as Maroney still hasn’t done anything about that disaster of a third pass yet.

Elsewhere amongst the locks, Raisman was Raisman. Maroney’s Amanar remains sumptuous, and Kyla Ross made the smart decision to sod the Amanar and live to fight another day.

Now, it isn’t that there aren’t weak spots in the proposed TF lineup. Wieber on bars is the most glaring, and as such there were several athletes all gunning for a bars specialist slot. Nastia Liukin, Rebecca Bross, Anna Li and Bridget Sloan were all, we thought, in the mix. None of them made a sufficiently compelling case for herself, though.

Liukin simply didn’t show a full routine. Though she’s coached by a master of peaking, it’s hard to believe there’s sufficient time left for her to do so. Sloan and Bross hit and hit well. One of them would be the obvious choice for the 6th spot on the team, if only there was one. As there isn’t, both of them are shit out of luck. One wonders what might have been if Valeri had had the sense and balls to tell Marta to fuck off to the far side of fuck when she insisted on Becca doing AA at Nationals last year.

Following her nail in the coffin Classics fuck up, Li treated us to an Olympic medal worthy set. She doesn’t have a chance in hell, but we’ve enjoyed her elite comeback and hope for one final thrilling set at Trials.

If the best elements of all three were to combine, perhaps Maroney should then be worried. But as it is, nobody is combining the necessary consistency with a big enough score to justify dropping a guaranteed gold medal winner.

The major point in favour of a bars specialist is Wieber’s inconsistency. While her score for a hit routine isn’t brilliant, she can get 14.7 internationally and that would be just fine if it could be relied on. It can’t. She fucks up about a quarter of the time. Even if she hits every set between now and Olympic podium training, a sub 14 set will still be a fair possibility.

This is nothing to do with headgame, and not something that can be solved by removing a particular skill like eg Ross doing a DTY instead of an Amanar, or Grishina cutting out the Shap transition. So this is simply a problem that the US have to carry into London, particularly as Raisman is nearly as inconsistent and will score a few tenths lower.

With that in mind, there’d be an arguable justification for taking a bars specialist instead of Maroney, even if she didn’t add as much to the team score as McKayla does. A reliable 15.4 routine, perhaps. It would be a safety thing. The bars specialist might add only 0.5 compared to Maroney’s 0.8 and guaranteed gold medal. But she’d also stop the US having to use a potentially gold medal losing routine. And make no mistake, one of Wieber’s banana backed muscled through efforts could do just that.
The problem is, no such bars specialist exists. Bross and Sloan don’t score well enough to make it worthwhile. Yes, both are quite safe pairs of hands on the event, but they’re not far ahead enough of Jordyn to make it worth giving up a guaranteed vault gold. They’d get about 15.2 internationally, and ideally one would want a bars specialist to be at 15.5 or more. Li can do that, on a good day, but she’s just as likely to fuck up as Jordyn is. Possibly more so.

It also struck me that things aren’t quite as rosy for the US on vault as they previously seemed. Don’t get me wrong, they’re the best in the world by some distance and may yet sit out an Amanar in prelims. But Maroney aside, none of them are particularly reliable. We can probably remove Kyla’s vault from the equation, but the other three have all thrown at least two Amanars this year that made me fear for their knees. Or in Gabby’s case, general health.

We all felt this one, from Jordyn on Night 1.

Raisman wasn’t a lot better, either. Those two are going to have the joints of octagenarians by Olympic prelims if they carry on like this.

With that in mind, we’re not entirely ruling out either Sacramone or possible Best Parkette Ever Elizabeth Price yet. Not because either has a realistic chance of breaking into the team as things stand. But because even with a newly minted, not as mortally dangerous selection process, things can still go wrong. Especially with a homicidal, cruel, manipulative bullshitter like Marta at the helm.

Obviously not trying to jinx anyone here, but Maroney’s broken conk is a reminder to us all of how easy it is for a random accident to come out of nowhere in this sport. And we’ll be pleasantly surprised if none of the locks throw another Amanar that’s asking for trouble between now and London prelims.

So, after several months, the team for London looks pretty much the same as it did back in March. We’re not calling it just yet, but there isn’t a lot of time left for anyone to shove anyone else off the team based on cold hard merit alone.

Over to Mother Russia for the next installment. We’re off to open up a Twitter account to needle John Geddert.

By Clara


17 responses to “Reflections after US Nationals

  • Stoi!

    Oh yes, and coaches can yank gymnasts (though the US never do unless there’s an injury). But only for others who have qualified. So eg if Raisman, Wieber and Ross qualify top 3 on beam and Douglas is 10th, Marta could yank Raisman for Ross but not for Douglas.

  • Stoi!

    John, yes it would be possible at worlds. Not the Olympics though. I also have a feeling that if the athlete who competes in prelims is subbed, she’s out of the competition from then on. not sure though.

    Robyn, night one is called prelims. The top 8 teams from prelims make TFs. The prelim format is 5-4-3, and in TFs is 5-3-3. The top 24 make the AA and top 8 on each event make the EF, however each country can only have 2 qualifiers to each. So for example the US and Russia are both likely to have 3 AAers in the top 24, but only 2 can advance. Russia will probably have 3 bars workers in the top 8, but 1 will have to miss out.

  • Robyn

    Can I get a refresher course on how the qualifications work at the Olympics?

    For instance, I know event finals qualifications are based on night one of team competition, but is it top 2 from each team? Top X number of the overall field?

    And is qualification for the All Around based on night one? Do you have to compete all 4 events that night? Your coach can yank you and sub in whoever they want anyway, right? (Tatiana Gutsu being subbed in and winning gold in 1992 comes to mind.)

    Are scores combined for nights 1 and 2 of team competition or do night one scores get thrown out?

    Sorry if these are elementary questions, but I feel like the format is always changing and coaches sometimes end up doing what they want anydamnway.


  • Stoi!

    Ooo-sa-fan I don’t think they’re actually allowed to do that in the Olympics. Only worlds. Otherwise, it would be a good option.

    Alternates wise, they can take up to 3 and mine would be Sacramone, Sloan and Finnegan.


    • OOO-S-A-FAN

      Sooo… your saying Maroney can’t fake an injury, back outta team finals and let a bar specialist step in? That sucks:(


    It looks like they might only use Maroney in Qualifications then bench her for team finals to bring in a bar specialist for team gold…
    That way Maroney can get her individual medal in finals.
    Qualification Day
    VT – Raisman – Douglas – Wieber – Maroney
    UB – Raisman – Wieber – Ross – Douglas
    BB – Wieber – Douglas – Raisman – Ross
    FX – Ross – Douglas – Wieber – Raisman
    Team Finals
    VT – Raisman – Douglas – Wieber
    UB – Bar Specialist Alternate – Ross – Douglas
    BB – Wieber – Raisman – Ross
    FX – Douglas – Wieber – Raisman
    In my opinion it would be Anna Li if she would take out that hop full and a half because she gets .5 off on it every time for finishing soooo late w/it.
    her new bar set should be… CB = Connection Bonus
    Jaeger (D) + Pak Salto (D) .1CB
    Piked Stalder w/full turn (E) + Piked Khorkina Transfer to High Bar (F) .2CB
    Straddled Stalder w/full turn (D) + Hop Full Turn (D) + Shushunova (G) .3CB
    Full Twisting Double Straight Dismount (E)
    Start Value = 7.0
    She’ll get good execution with that routine and maybe score a 15.8 with it.
    – A Piked Khorkina Transfer to High Bar is that half turning Shaposh thing everyone is doing now. (just so we’re clear)
    If Not ANNA LI then a Becca Bross could get it done or by some miracle…
    Nastia Liukin. Isn’t Bross’ new start value on bars going to be a 6.7 soon? I READ that somewhere on the gymternet form a Valeri quote.

    • john

      Is this scenario even remotely possible? Have Maroney compete in prelims and then replace her with a bars specialist during TF???

      • OOO-S-A-FAN

        it seems like it would doesn’t it? Maroney can qualify to Vault Finals then say “ouch my back” or something, then Team USA needs to bring in an alternate for Team Finals…
        Later she’ll show her “determination and bravery” for showing up to Vault Finals to get herself an individual gold. AND maybe a Team Final Gold for being used in Qualifications right? After all, her vault score was used towards the Team Total in Qualification day right.

  • Brett

    This blog never fails to make me laugh. ‘her massive bell end of a coach’ being my personal favourite.

  • christina

    “Especially with a homicidal, cruel, manipulative bullshitter like Marta at the helm.” ahahaha, amanars are good but it’s not fan when you have to hold your breath every time sb vaults.
    “Regarding the overscores, it’s just standard in US domestic competition isn’t it? ” Aly’s 15.800 on floor (a floor score that can beat Komova’s bars :P) took oversoring to a brand new level in my opinion.
    Who are your alternates? I’d say Price, Finnegan and Sloan/Vega (but the out of nowhere girl, Kennedy Baker beat them both(

    • M

      How many alternates are countries allowed? Are we sure it is 3? France named their team, they only have 1 alternate. I hear Russia is going to only have 1 alternate and possibly Romania as well.

    • emmasrandomthoughts

      amanars are good but it’s not fun when you have to hold your breath every time sb vaults.

      Indeed! I would far rather see somebody stick a DTY (or an even easier vault) than to see Jordyn nearly destroy her knees.

      The FIG should devalue the Amanar, so that a stuck DTY can get a higher score than a scary Amanar.

  • Louise Anderson

    My favorite line: One wonders what might have been if Valeri had had the sense and balls to tell Marta to fuck off to the far side of fuck when she insisted on Becca doing AA at Nationals last year.

    Poor Bross – I really feel for her for some reason. I think just seeing her trucking away and hoping while feeling that she really doesn’t have a chance. I hope I’m wrong and she gets an alternate spot.

    I also enjoy the term “pretenders” for those still dreaming of the Olympic team.

    I’d love to see Gabby win at Olympic Trials …

  • Stoi!

    Heh we do relatively straight analysis sometimes too- studded with bile, of course. Regarding the overscores, it’s just standard in US domestic competition isn’t it? As usual, Raisman and Wieber appeared to get the best of it, but that happens internationally too. I did enjoy the total loss of sense in the final rotation or so on Day 2, it was like the judges were all competing to see who could be the least realistic.

    Finnegan is lovely, but life isn’t that kind.


  • M

    Wow, this was actually a tame reflection, thought there would be more sarcasm, lol especially after seeing what Luikin did, and the numerous overscores for their athletes. That was just…..

    What do you think of maybe Finnegan being that 5th spot?

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