On Kyla, Gabby, and How It Doesn’t Really Matter

It occurs to me I never wrapped up my thoughts on the national championship, so here are just a few behind-schedule cognitive tangles about that competition before we move on to remembering that there are still two more national team camps before the WC squad is named and two more months until the actual competition.

On day 2 of nationals for the women, the world righted itself, with most of the competitors remembering that hitting routines is a thing you should probably do. It also reinforced why prospective team selection is such a fun game. There are a TON of realistic permutations for Worlds teams this year, all of which will end up scoring very similarly to one another, and some of which belie visual impressions from the competition. But which one do you choose?

Take Kyla, for example. Expectations are a funny thing. Kyla has been a top-2 AAer for the US this whole quad, majoring in not sucking at bars. So when she suddenly has a nasty Nationals and looks weak on bars, the sky is falling. That was certainly the attitude of our broadcast team. Al was even asking whether Kyla would make the selection camp. (Tim was like, “Derp. Obvi she’s making the selection camp.”) Yes correct, Tim.

But to me, and contrary to the overall tone of things, Kyla helped her chances to make the team with her performance on day 2 of nationals. At least, she made an argument for including her in the squad that she didn’t make on day 1. No, bars is not happening. But at this moment, it’s not really about bars for her. That’s the big change in expectations we have to make. With her current routine composition, Kyla isn’t making the team to do bars in TF even if she shaves several inches off her height and lands a dismount. (If she returns to her planned 6.3 and can hit by selection camp, it’s a different story, but that’s a lot to do.) Right now, it’s about beam. That’s where she can be top three. And she stepped up like hell there and did her job on day 2.

In fact, because she did her job (scoring several tenths ahead of a connection-free Aly Raisman and a strong Alyssa Baumann, and a point ahead of a wobbly Gabby Douglas), suddenly a team with Kyla on it makes a little sense now and outscores many of the other permutations. At least on the day. Playing the same game I did for day 1 scores, here’s the way some possible teams stack up according exclusively to their day 2 scores. 

Biles, Raisman, Nichols, Key, Kocian, Ross – 185.500 (Day 1: 181.750)
VT – 47.500: Biles 16.300, Nichols 15.850, Raisman 15.350
UB – 45.850: Kocian 15.600, Key 15.300, Biles 14.950
BB – 46.100: Biles 15.900, Ross 15.250, Raisman 14.950
FX – 46.050: Biles 15.850, Raisman 15.500, Key 14.700

This team didn’t score very well based on day 1 scores, but on day 2 it was stellar. Note that there’s a serious name missing from this group. This is why the numbers and team combinations sometimes don’t reinforce original visual impressions. Gabby had a pretty nice performance on day 2 (not Classics nice, but solid), and Kyla did not. Nonetheless, here we are, with this team and a 185.500. Now, I still think Gabby is necessary to the team and is among the safest selections, but she needs to show some “you have to take me” scores at camp to confirm her spot, particularly by outscoring Bailie Key on bars. Showing Classic-level beam would be nice too, though that wouldn’t be so nice for Kyla.

And to be fair, it’s not like a team with Douglas on it is scoring at all differently from this one. It’s just an interesting development. If you’re asking me my team, Gabby is on it without much hesitation.

Biles, Raisman, Nichols, Douglas, Kocian, Ross – 185.400 (Day 1: 181.850)
VT – 47.500: Biles 16.300, Nichols 15.850, Raisman 15.350
UB – 45.650: Kocian 15.600, Douglas 15.100, Biles 14.950
BB – 46.100: Biles 15.900, Ross 15.250, Raisman 14.950
FX – 46.150: Biles 15.850, Raisman 15.500, Douglas 14.800

Biles, Raisman, Nichols, Key, Kocian, Locklear – 185.400 (Day 1: 181.350)
VT – 47.500: Biles 16.300, Nichols 15.850, Raisman 15.350
UB – 46.350: Kocian 15.600, Locklear 15.450, Key 15.300
BB – 45.500: Biles 15.900, Raisman 14.950, Nichols 14.650
FX – 46.050: Biles 15.850, Raisman 15.500, Key 14.700

Biles, Raisman, Nichols, Douglas, Kocian, Locklear – 185.300 (Day 1: 182.100)
VT – 47.500: Biles 16.300, Nichols 15.850, Raisman 15.350
UB – 46.150: Kocian 15.600, Locklear 15.450, Douglas 15.100
BB – 45.500: Biles 15.900, Raisman 14.950, Nichols 14.650
FX – 46.150: Biles 15.850, Raisman 15.500, Douglas 14.800

(I REALLY like this team, but it relies on someone—Douglas—pulling a third beam routine together to be as competitive as the others.)

Biles, Raisman, Nichols, Douglas, Kocian, Baumann – 185.200 (Day 1: 182.600)
VT – 47.500: Biles 16.300, Nichols 15.850, Raisman 15.350
UB – 45.650: Kocian 15.600, Douglas 15.100, Biles 14.950
BB – 45.900: Biles 15.900, Baumann 15.050, Raisman 14.950
FX – 46.150: Biles 15.850, Raisman 15.500, Douglas 14.800

Biles, Raisman, Nichols, Douglas, Key, Kocian – 185.150 (Day 1: 181.950)
VT – 47.500: Biles 16.300, Nichols 15.850, Raisman 15.350
UB – 46.000: Kocian 15.600, Key 15.300, Douglas 15.100
BB – 45.500: Biles 15.900, Raisman 14.950, Nichols 14.650
FX – 46.150: Biles 15.850, Raisman 15.500, Douglas 14.800

Some of these options emphasize why Bailie Key is part of a safer team selection (she can go up on any event whenever and give you a usable score, which is a very convincing argument with Martha), but if you’re only using her for bars in TF, there are other choices.

Biles, Raisman, Nichols, Douglas, Key, Ross – 185.100 (Day 1: 181.600)
VT – 47.500: Biles 16.300, Nichols 15.850, Raisman 15.350
UB – 45.350: Key 15.300, Douglas 15.100, Biles 14.950
BB – 46.100: Biles 15.900, Ross 15.250, Raisman 14.950
FX – 46.150: Biles 15.850, Raisman 15.500, Douglas 14.800

More than anything else, these scores reinforce that it’s all essentially the same. Based on day 2 (a day of hit routines), all these different teams—leaving off Kyla, leaving off Bailie, leaving off Gabby—are scoring within a few tenths of each other. Choose any of the above, and it will be fine. The final scores will turn out about the same, and no one will have much of an argument that the selected team is unfair. Do whatever. Have a ball.

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10 thoughts on “On Kyla, Gabby, and How It Doesn’t Really Matter”

  1. That's why this year team selection is so complicated: because there is no real clearcut single best choice. You can even throw skinner in the mix for another possible vt medal as well as to replace aly's not so pretty looking amanar (I do think skinner cheng will score higher than raisman' amanar as well as obviously safer).

    This will be a very hard choice for the selection committee… The top 4 or 5 is more or less selected it's the last 6th spot that's hard.

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  2. that last spot is just a toss up at this point and kinda doesn't matter honestly. the top 5 are so consistent and clean that they might as well just have all of them do AA and see where the AA spots and EF spots fall.

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  3. I think Simone, Aly, and Maggie are locks if healthy (in that order), and I think Douglas, Kocian, and Key are the next most likely if healthy (in that order). The Nationals Day 1 numbers are skewed because Raisman fell on beam, which I don't see happening again. I do think Douglas and Key are vulnerable to alternate status, IF neither of them nor Maggie is really nailing beam at the selection camp AND the bars/beam specialists continue to hit. Gabby can secure her spot on the team by nailing beam and floor at camp, Key needs to beat Nichols on floor and be up there with the bars specialists to be sure of hers (though both obviously have a great shot).

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  4. Oh, worth adding that if Key were able to put in her Downie (in addition to the Ricna, not replacing it), she'd count an F instead of C stalder shoot, and be up to a 6.4 SV, tied with Douglas and higher than Locklear (though by the same logic Douglas could add her Chow 1/2 to hit 6.5, and Locklear could add back her inbars for infinite SV).

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  5. I still think Skinner is a real possibility for vault and floor in team finals. She had the 3rd highest score on floor at championships and her vault last year scored .5 higher at Worlds than it was scoring at nationals. The one athlete who is scored higher internationally than in the US.

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  6. Since the magical 6th spot is proving to be the choice without an obvious answer. How would the options for these spots stack up against the rest of the world, in terms of their potential to make an EF. It seems based on your permutations, basically anyone could go and get a similar team score, and finding 2 AAers that are likely to make the worlds podium isn't hard from the list above, so after that, bringing home a swag of EF medals is surely the priority. Who would you choose to fill the uncertain spots if potential to medal in EF is considered?

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  7. Another approach to selecting the final team member or two is about who has the potential to be in the mix for the olympic team, but needs the world championship experience, which would encourage the selection of Key, and maybe even longer shots like Gowey and Dennis if they're showing up at camp with routines that would put them viably in the mix. Dennis is training (according to her ask.fm) an amanar, a church on bars, an arabian on beam, and I assume will have her 1.5 to double tuck back on floor – that adds up to a whole lot higher D score than she was showing at nationals. And, if Gowey can get her amanar and even a simple floor routine that she can hit, she could certainly be in the mix too.

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  8. That seems to be the argument for Skinner. That the US is going to win anyway, so bring someone who could get bronze on vault, but EF qualification has never been the consideration behind team selection (even when Anna Li could have been slotted in for an injured Sacramone). If it were, the others it would help would be Kocian/Locklear since they can make the bars final, even though there are a number of people internationally with higher potential D scores who will be favored to medal. The US's likely medalists on floor would be Biles and Raisman, who will both make the team anyway, and beam EF is such a craps shoot that it's hard to take anyone specifically for it.

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