This, for our money, is where it gets interesting. And where the title will be decided.
Between them, the top four boast one stellar lineup who wouldn’t fall even if you were shooting at them, two potentially high scoring and equally potentially headcase rotations, and one lot who should all stay on but who have some worrying connections issues.
The safe bet to come out on top here would be Romania, of course. But both the Chinese and the Russians are capable of being up there with them if they all decide to turn up, face the right way, and sing from the same hymn sheet. The US have the lowest potential scores by some way, but could very easily find themselves second only to Romania. That’s why we love this.
Iordache and Ponor are both rockstars. Anything less than 15.5 for either would be a grave disappointment. Their D-scores are absolutely colossal, and neither is going to fall off. Cata just doesn’t. Larisa did in the European team finals, proving she’s human after all.
Now, this isn’t the first time she’s missed the full twist in competition, but we simply don’t see her making that mistake again. She’s Romanian. They do beam like they think there’s a pit of poisonous vipers underneath, just waiting to dig their fangs into anyone who falls. Actually, that’s probably how they train.
The third beamer will probably be Bulimar, though former World and European medalist Izbasa can be quite useful (and steady) here. Bulimar has outscored her recently though, so it’s likely to be her getting the nod. She isn’t up there with the superstars, but can hope for lowish-15 with a hit set. Quite something for a leadoff.
Lineup — Bulimar, Ponor, Iordache.
As Stoi! has previously discussed, this will be a risky lineup. Mustafina is usually pretty solid, Komova and Grishina are not.
Russia did have the option of mitigating the risk somewhat by naming the unspectacular but more consistent Inshina to the team, and they didn’t.
Hence…hang on to your muthafuckin’ babushka’s time!
We all know by now that Komova and Grishina can both do stunning mid 15’s work, or fall on a relatively simple element because a hair was out of place. There’s also another possibility, which they showed us in the European team competition: staying on and connecting nothing (think Grishina’s otherwise gorgeous Onodi + side somi combo, or Komova’s L-turn pass).
This means that each could post 14-something for what initially appears to be a “hit” set. If we had to pick, this is what we’d go for. It seems to be the commonest result for both of them in recent months – hit but underpar.
If Vika builds in time to the set to wobble after a back tuck one more time, Stoi! may have to disown her.
Bronwyn wanted to point out Komova’s arabian double dismount – will she do it in qualifications? Or depending on how shaky the rest of her set is? If they plan on going completely balls to the walls, we should see it in every session she competes – she needs it if she plans on connecting the bare minimum.
Lineup — Mustafina (build some momentum), Grishina, Komova.
This picture is quite like Russia’s. They’ve got the consistent one-multiple world medalist Deng Linlin. She never falls, and should be well into the low 15’s. They also have the headcase du jour.
Sui Lu is a possible Olympic champion on beam (we hope not).
Up there with the Romanians in scoring potential, she also rivals the Russians for consistency. Her beam hit record for Worlds at the moment is 3 hit routines of 6 competed. All 3 of those hit routines occurred in Tokyo, so we did think she’d perhaps sorted her shit out.
But alas, the Test Event fiasco disabused us of that.
Now, that was clearly a one off, and not likely to happen again. But while we don’t expect another 4-fall routine, she does have form for fucking up under pressure. And the problem is that when she falls, it doesn’t tend to be a 1 major mistake in the routine, salvage the rest of it, 14.3 job. She overruns. Her 13 on beam in the Rotterdam team final cost China the gold (although to be fair, most of the medalling athletes that night either attempted to or succeeded in losing the title – it was such a close splatfest).
In some ways, she’d be more suited to rotating with Komova and Grishina. It’s a shame gymnasts have to do rotations with teammates rather than gymnastic soul mates.
Yao Jinnan is somewhere in the middle. While she’s quite consistent, she too has form for mucking up beam when it counts, costing herself a World AA silver in 2011 by doing just that. Odds are that she’ll be ok, but we want to prepare readers for the possibility that she won’t be.
Lineup — Deng Linlin, Yao Jinnan, Sui Lu.
We have learned two main things from watching Raisman, Wieber and Ross throughout selection season – the first is that they’re not going to fall off, and the second is that they’re not going to connect everything.
It has been mentioned that John Geddert plans on ridding Jordyn’s beam routine of her oft-dubious connections that she never actually connects. We’d like to think that the international judges have grown privy to the fact that her front handspring isn’t actually a front handspring, and shouldn’t receive credit. It’s not like she doesn’t have enough difficulty already. A 15.2 isn’t totally out of the question for a watered down hit set. Which she’s more than capable of.
Now we’re not saying that US domestic scores are more inflated (who, us?) than the rest of the worlds, but we’re thinking that Aly Raisman scoring anywhere near a 15.4 on beam in London is as likely as Lindsay Lohan winning an Academy Award.
This more or less “hit” routine from Jesolo only received a 14.55 (8.15 in execution) in contrast to Nationals & Trials.
Apparently the Italian judges dislike club feet and leaps well short of 180 even less than we do. We’re thinking a score in between the generous & harsh is the best to hope for (14.9/15.0’ish).
Rookie Kyla Ross, is a beauty on this event – a boring beauty, but a beauty nonetheless. If the US qualifies anyone to beam finals, we’re hoping it’s her. Neither of us can cope with another linebacker display a la the 2011 event final again.
She doesn’t have the highest difficulty level, but she’s generally good at what she does. She has 3 crucial connection spots in her routine, and she’s usually good for botching at least one of them. Around a 15.3 for a mostly hit (and connected) set.
Lineup — Raisman, Ross, Wieber
Likely outcome –
1. Romania, quite comfortably.
2. USA (no falls, a couple of botched connections)
3. Russia (no falls, but a plethora of wobbles)
4. China (1 fall, maybe 2)
– Clara & Bronwyn