2015 US World Championship Team

You might have heard, but some big, earth-rattling news came out today: Norah Flatley has announced for UCLA.

I can’t think of anything else that happened.

I guess there was the other tiny matter of the US World Championship team. We’ll have to muster the energy to distract ourselves from National Norah Flatley Day to think about that for a moment. In what would certainly have been a surprise earlier in the summer and would have been a pretty big surprise after nationals as well, the team is Biles, Raisman, Nichols, Douglas, Kocian, Dowell, and Skinner, with the alternate to be named as late as humanly possible. It comes as less of a surprise now after the withdrawal of Ross, the apparent natural-disaster implosion of Key, and the Spoiler Alert Roster from the end of September that told us this was the way things were leaning, though I’m still scheduling time for a sad-nap about Alyssa Baumann.

Unlike normal, it isn’t immediately clear which gymnast will be the alternate in this group, but it looks likely to be Dowell or Skinner, with Skinner making the most sense to me. I won’t entertain the blasphemy that it might be Nichols. I won’t. Skinner is usable on vault and floor, but she wasn’t top three on those events at nationals, which kept her out of all the highest-scoring team permutations as she came in behind Raisman’s Junkanar on vault and variously behind Douglas and Nichols on floor. We can hope Raisman’s Junkanar has become slightly less junky in the intervening months. Floor will be the closest battle on this team through training, and I’m sure that third TF spot won’t be decided until after qualifications.

At the same time, Dowell also didn’t make a mark on the highest-scoring team permutations at nationals either because, even on her one bars hit during the summer competition season, she scored the same as Biles and wasn’t in the top 5 on the day. The main lesson, once again, is that camp matters and Nationals…not so much. Honestly, this is as US team that probably won’t need its alternate even if an injury occurs. There will be strong, likely backups already in the 6. 

It’s a huge accomplishment for Dowell even to make the seven, a prospect I thought was iffy when she announced she was deferring (which I still question because even with making this team, the Olympics remain a very tough ask), but it ended up being a perfect confluence of events for her with Locklear not able to get her difficulty back and Kyla pulling out. Suddenly, a bars door was open and she walked right through it.

As for Bailie Key, has anyone ever gone from pre-summer lock to not-even-the-alternate so quickly without an injury? I do have to say, it was always work to try to shoehorn her into teams with a “maybe she can do bars?” argument. What became apparent at Nationals is that she isn’t necessary to the team on any event, and if consistency has become a problem, that seals it. If she’s going to have any hope for 2016 at all (dreams that were pretty much just decapitated), she needs an Amanar and they need to go back to the drawing board with that beam routine. To me, it’s a tear down. Start from scratch. She was a beam star as a junior, and she should be a top three beamer for this team right now. The fact that she isn’t close to that is a problem.

Beam. I’m hoping this roster indicates that Gabby Douglas is doing another one of her late-season beam renaissances because otherwise this team is looking a little light on beam. Maybe not light, but questionable compared to its potential score. Baumann seemed to have a chance at a beam spot because she’s capable of gaining a solid five tenths over the scores Douglas, Nichols, and Kocian were getting at nationals. To see her not among the seven tells me that a third high-14s beam score must have emerged during the camps to make any Baumann benefit negligible. Or Martha just really likes MyKayla Skinner’s company. 

If Skinner is indeed the alternate, the conversation about who goes on which events in qualification gets very interesting. Especially for Aly “I’m coming back because of unfinished business in the AA” Raisman. Watch that space in the coming weeks. It’ll be fun. Also, the US competes in qualification at a totally reasonable time for us this year. Mid-late morning (depending on where you are)! On a Saturday! What is this exciting witchcraft? 

9 thoughts on “2015 US World Championship Team”

  1. the team does look light on beam… but they are counting on aly and Simone to both hit and bring good scores to make up any small deficit by 3rd beamer… which is not completely unreasonable… gabby beam should hopefully be enuf as she's more consistent here than in 2011…

    I hate it but you should at least entertain a possibility of Maggie being the alt …. bc in 3 up 3 count she has no place… and vt doesn't count anymore bc everyone except kocian has Amanar or Cheng… Maggie is actually much more valued and much more likely to make Rio compared to skinners kocian or Dowell as team get smaller… but she does need to get top3 in something to not end up being ebee…


  2. I'm with you on your assessment of Bailie Key. To me, she seemed like a nervous competitor at P&G and Nationals. I assume that continued and maybe affected her consistency. I also somewhat agree with you on her chances for next year. Completely out of it? No. Highly unlikely she'll make the Olympic Team? That's where I'd put my money. Key does have a shot, but she'll have to go back to the drawing board as you wrote above.

    There are so many possibilities as to who gets what event in qualifications. That will probably be the most interesting thing to watch regarding the team event. It's hard not to see the US blowing away the competition. Which US team members get AA (besides Simone) and who makes event finals will also be interesting. I think event finals will probably be the highlight of this Worlds.

    Although the US will probably dominate team and AA, beam, the EF gold and silver for bars, beam and vault could go to other countries with the US maybe medaling on beam and vault. On vault, Paseka and Hong both have an Amanar and a Cheng, and nowadays difficulty seems to trump execution. Biles and/or Skinner may squeak in for a bronze, or a silver if Paseka or Hong fall/screw up. On beam you have Iordache, Shang Chunsong from China, and Tutkhalyan from Russia all with higher D scores. If they hit, they may sweep the podium, although we'll likely see one (or two?) of them mess up in EF and perhaps Biles will medal if she hits?

    On floor, it's Biles if she hits then everyone else. Bars, hmmm, I'm not sure. I assume it'll be the Chinese vs. the Russians on that event, but if there are mistakes, I could see Kocian perhaps grabbing a medal.


  3. I don't believe anyone outside camp actually seen it this year but it's more likely true than not. I doubt marta would've considered her w/o a solid amanar…


  4. Maggie and bailie not out of rio but they really need to step up and get top3 in at least 1 or 2 events s well as key also getting amanar… kyla should just concentrate 90% of her time to beam/bars as she needs to be top3 in both since she's no longer AA viable, given lack of amanar and weak fx…

    As for beam, I wouldn't worry as much about D score as consistency and staying on…. Biles bb D score is 6.8-6.9 so she's not giving up any disadvantage there… Aly D score is also up to 6.8. But again its all about who can stay up and who can make all the connections that's important… I bet US will likely get at least 1 beam medal…

    for fx, anything less than 2 medals for US would be a disappointment. actually anything less than gold and silver means someone makes a sizable error…

    for vt, US will get at least 1 medal.

    its unlikely US will be on podium for bars… Then again the least unexpected can sometimes happen? Who would've thought brenna is where she is now back 2 months ago?

    Even if US will likely win TF by a mile, I am still excited to see all their routines..


  5. I have to argue that Maggie is top three on vault. In fact, I believe she has the second best vault in the US right now, even better then Skinner's Cheng, especially when being scored on an international level. Her Amanar is very clean with great height and with an extra two months to improve from Nationals, I believe she will definitely have a place in the vault line-up for team final. Looking back to 2012 and considering the Amanars of Ali and Gabby, I do not think they will be as good as Maggie's right now, even in a year from now. Certainly not Ali's vault. As for floor, I think Maggie is in contention for the third spot in team finals this year. It is between her, Gabby, or Skinner. If we go by scoring from Nationals, she would be the girl going up.


  6. If I was Locklear, Dowell,or Kocian (bars specialist), I would focus my attention on my specialty plus try desperately to develop an Amanar and a second vault. Probably the only girl that could do that is Dowell. When I think about a year from now at the Olympics, I believe in terms of event finals, we will have two girls qualify easily and likely medal on beam and floor … probably Biles and Raisman. That leaves of bars and vault. Biles will make a vault final. If Dowell for instance could produce two vaults that could make it to a vault final, along with a bar routine that would get her to that final as well, her value would sky rocket.


  7. Not related to this post, but I liked your Super Six analysis on the NCAA Gym News site. I agree with you- Alabama is my too-early pick for a winner, and I'm not sure it's going to be a trendy pick. I'm interested to see if we're right. Alabama exceeded expectations last year and I can see them picking up where they left off and building further.


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