As our readers no doubt know, the US Olympic team will be announced later today. I’ve not yet managed to view all of Night 1- am particularly looking forward to Raisman’s unpenalised OOB- but what I have seen plus scores and comments leads me to be reasonably confident in my prediction.
It’s seemed for a while now that the team is set in stone provided none of them get injured out (a big caveat, on Marta’s watch). Wieber, Douglas, Raisman, Maroney and Ross. McKayla’s unfortunate injury at Nationals led to a small question mark over her for a while, but she put paid to that. Who the fuck cares about bars when you can vault like this?
Fly bitch fly, indeed.
Now there are some arguments that can be made against this team. For example, using Sacramone instead of Maroney might yield a higher team score. It’s possible that the 0.4 or so she’d lose them on vault would be more than neutralised by what she’d add on beam- and of course Alicia would win the gold on vault if McKayla weren’t there.
It’s also possible she’d add more to the team score than Raisman: not having Aly on floor might lose the team 0.5 or so, and arguably Alicia could add more than this on vault and floor. Nonetheless, I don’t see it. Equally, Kyla being a bit weaker than she should be on beam left the door open for a UB/BB specialist, but nobody’s been forthcoming. So this is where we are. The five are the five are the five. Their names will be the ones read out tonight.
Arguably, the alternate situation is more interesting. USAG can name three, and they usually do for the Olympics. Let’s hope this year is no exception.
For me, the big issue is whether there’ll be a bars alternate. It would certainly make sense for there to be one: there are only one usable bars sets on this team, so if one of them goes down, her replacement needs to be usable on bars. Nobody wants to see either a Raisman or Maroney in TFs situation.
However, the list of candidates are not inspiring- not because they’ve not shown some nice work, but because Marta is not in love with any of them. I had thought Bridget Sloan was the favourite, but the poor thing had to pull out with an elbow injury. Never a favourite of mine, but it’s a damn shame for an elite career to end like that. Without her though, the candidates are Anna Li and Rebecca Bross. Neither is exactly politically favoured, and both are spectacularly useless on anything other than bars. Liukin is, alas, not in contention. Perhaps if the team were being picked in another 2-3 weeks, but it isn’t. She’s out.
Anna Li’s routine is exciting, and she’s on her best run of hit sets for ages.
She actually won bars on Night 1. Alas, NBC didn’t even show her routine. We think we know what that means. It’s possibly for the best: much as I enjoy that set, it’s risky as fuck. The Rybalko is an untested move internationally for a WAG, and we’ve not seen a lot of Shushunovas under the new code. Can we say built in deduction?
Bross is also on a pretty good run, for bars anyway. She hit at Classic, twice at Nationals and again on Friday. This is a solid, 15.2ish set that she looks like she can do til the cows come home.
However, I’m wondering if Marta will chance it and pick neither. Sacramone, Price and Finnegan are all useful on multiple events, and have had a better overall showing than either of the bars girls. And injured athletes are usually able to do bars. Depends what the injury is, of course, but Marta has competed a lot of gymnasts who were too injured for 3 of the 4 events in recent years, and all of them did bars.
So with that in mind, I’m going to go for Sacramone, Finnegan and Price. Personally I’d have Bross for Price, much as I like Ebee. But Marta won’t.
Stoi! readers, you have approximately twelve hours to tell us what you think…