And we’re back. It’s the final night of Olympic Trials, and in just a few short hours,
Biles, Douglas, Raisman, Hernandez, and Kocian I mean, five definitely-not-already-decided athletes will learn that they have made the Olympic team.
As is only traditional, the final night of the most significant US gymnastics competition in four years begins with a deferential acknowledgement of the biggest star in all of gymnastics.
I, of course, am referring to Bela Karolyi. Who is here because of reasons.
He touched Simone on the shoulder. OMG THAT’S HOW SHE DOES IT. BELA HAS ANOTHER ONE.
“Just about everything you’re going to see tonight matters,” Al says. But not everything, he adds, as Maggie Nichols falls through the trap door and into the piranha dungeon. Another one bites the dust.
OK, can we please discuss the HEART OF THE OCEAN that Trautwig is wearing on his finger? Damn, that thing makes Nastia’s rock look like an idiot.
So, Princess Al of Monaco welcomes us to the competition, at which point we learn what an utter shitstorm Gabby Douglas has been, and there are probably other people in the meet too I guess. Anyway, she has to hit 4-for-4 tonight, otherwise she should basically go compete for Belarus and will never make the team ever.
Also, Martha appears to be recommending that Gabby perform a synchronized swimming routine to “I’m a Little Teapot.”
We know Martha is still disappointed about night one, though, because she gives Gabby the rare C6-vertebra-caress instead of the traditional neck pinch. Might as well have dumped her in a vat of slime in the town square.
Apparently, an L turn is a required skill now. Learn something new every day.
OH THANK GOD. We see a replay of Gabby picking the paper cup. The most critical development of night one. Everyone write a thesis about it.
FLUFF IS HERE. Bringing it for night two. Tonight’s submission is an elegant piece entitled “Falls and Ankle Tape in D Major.” Sadly, other than falling-off-beam-injuries-hugs, it doesn’t have much of a cohesive theme. It’s definitely not playing a character, and the connection of music to movement is very tenuous. ALL THE ARTISTRY DEDUCTIONS.
Back in my day, young whippersnappers, we knew how to fluff. We would fluff from morning to night. Fluff fluff fluff fluff. And they weren’t just glorified youtube edits either. They were about how Mo Huilan’s mother is garbage and hates her because of communism, or how the entire town of Deva is in a gymnastics-candle apocalypse cult. You know, important work.
You guys, the home movies of the gymnasts as level 4s are in HD now…….
IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE GRAINY VHS, I TELL YOU!!!
As the competition begins, Simone goes OOB and is automatically off the Olympic team for disgracing the nation. Afterward, she finds Aimee, who has had the lovely job of holding Simone’s ratty, disgusting used tissue for her during the routine because of the glamorous world of coaching. Aimee’s life is basically a rap video.
It’s a good thing Raisman gets her vault out of the way quickly so we can get to the important stories, like hearing about the “13 women” (it’s 14) and how silent and drama they were backstage, when you could almost feel the drama because of how drama they looked.
It’s a really great story, and that’s the end of it because of shapes.
“Green is good, yellow is eh, red is bad.” Also, the cow go moo, and the dog go bark.
Following this journey into bright colors, it’s time for us to see Skinner planning her definitely spontaneous floor celebration dance for the end of the competition.
At which point Al says, “She looks like she’d be a good teammate.”
YEAH I THINK SO TOO.
Right up until she doesn’t get what she wants.
According to Tim, a lot of people in the know think Skinner is a contender for the team. Who are these people in the know? And why don’t they know that the team was decided in May?
After Skinner’s Cheng, the first thing her coach says is, “That was definitely two hands, no doubt about it.” You know, like the first thing you should be worried about for your Olympic Trials vault. Tim starts going, “STICK STICK STICK STICK,” but Nastia descends from her mountain palace to tell him that it wasn’t. Gold star.
Brace yourself. It appears Tim has taken over “OUT OF BOUNDS” duties from Trautwig. WHAT WORLD IS THIS???
After night 1,
the members of the team a few gymnasts picked entirely at random went into the “Truth Booth” to say that they’re really honored and media trained. TEH TRUTH CONFESSIONS.
Apparently, the judges HATED Laurie’s floor routine for a totally normal 14.700 that’s even a little high given her two uncontrolled landings and OOB.
I know, Brenna. I can’t believe they’re not showing you either.
“Gabby Douglas needs to be so much better than she was on night one because this could be the final night.”
…….of her life???
For the second day in a row, Tim says, “Christian Garaldo,” so that’s awesome. But, unlike the first night of competition, NBC scoured the stands to find Kittia Carpenter, seen here grading some spelling tests.
“Kitty is very close to beam…where the fall happened,” Al says suggestively. Because…she put a curse on it?
Gabby vaults, and in typical Gabby fashion, she does everything 100x worse than normal, and it’s by far her best landing of the year. Christian whispers something that, based on Gabby’s reaction, we can only assume was deliciously sassmonster.
“A RARE SMILE. SHE MAY HAVE REFOUND THE JOY SHE RECENTLY LOST.” I’m saying that any time anyone laughs now.
“I guess if they’re being really critical, they’re going to take a tenth off.”
“Being really critical” = “meeting their minimum job expectations”
KNEE SCAR KNEE SCAR KNEE SCAR floor KNEE SCAR KNEE SCAR. Al notes that the selection committee looked away from Maggie’s floor routine. Yes, that can happen when Steve Penny is incessantly yammering in your ear literally all night long. He would not leave them alone.
Tim follows this up by casually dropping Tatiana Perskaia and Oksana Omelianchik with no problems whatsoever.
Omelianchik: easy peasy.
Terin Humphrey and Christian Gallardo: apocalypse.
Ragan Smith is “one of those bubble kids.”
The Nadia and Kobe friendship is the best thing to come out of trials.
I know, Kobe. Her splits always look like that.
“Legends, gymnastics and otherwise,” says Al in the best comment he has ever made. That’s also how I classify legends: Gymnastics and Otherwise.
“Think about it. He could be anywhere on earth today, and he’s here.” I KNOW WHY WOULD A REAL MALE ATHLETE COME TO THIS GARBAGE FIRE?
But I thought Laurie was bars/floor?!?!
HOW CAN YOU PUT HER ON BEAM????
Also none for Gabby Douglas.
This is the clearest evidence of how much NBC was struggling to make a sporting event out of this and create some kind of suspense for a team selection that was essentially inevitable. We knew Gabby was making the team. They knew Gabby was making the team. But they were desperately trying to come up with some story, paying more attention to that than communicating the process and reasons behind it until the very end.
The watchful eyes of Martha Karolyi.
I DON’T WANT TO BE SEEING BRENNA DOWELL’S VAULT RIGHT NOW.
Tim has the INSIDE SCOOP: “I talked to Martha Karolyi, and she said, ‘Gabby will be on the team,’ and then I said, ‘What if she’s horrible?’ and Martha said, ‘What’s your name…Gerald?'”
The US could take 11 teams to the Olympics and finish 1-11 in the team final!!!!!
This “the US could take [insert number] teams” stuff is really getting out of hand.
After all the years of hearing that Aly just has to “get through” bars, this routine is suddenly VERY IMPORTANT because of her Olympic AA hopes. Well, she’s going to be the weakest on the team on bars no matter what. It’s just a matter of whether they decide to overlook that to get her into the AA.
ANDREA JOYCE TIME!!!
Andrea: Gabby, could you talk about your level of joy and whether you lost it or got it back, emotions please quantify on the spot.
Gabby: Sure. Intensity. Aggressiveness. Focused and fierce. Uproot. Feelings. Fight.
Andrea: Pulitzer Prize please.
Gabby does some solid improvisation on bars to add an extra stalder and avoid a break in rhythm before her stalder half, so GABBY IS 100% DEFINITELY GOING TO RIO SUDDENLY NOW SHE’S NOT TRASH ANYMORE.
As for the other people in this competition…
You guys, it’s time to give them a massive, not-condescending-at-all round of applause for awwwwwww trying their best and getting to San Jose all by themselves. How adorable. Be sure to give yourselves a pat on the back, “Brenna Dowell, Christina…um…Desiderio?, AyMillee Schild, Racial Gowey, and Amelia Hundley.”
Why did Al pronounce “Emily” like he had never seen the name before?
“What is this A…mill…eee?”
And I’m pretty sure “Racial Gowey” is a microaggression.
After Madison Kocian completes the-most-important-thing-she-will-ever-do-in-her-life-you-have-peaked-go-die-now, Simone’s vault is teased as “one of the spinniest vaults you’ll ever see.”
Spinniest? SPINNIEST? “That’s one of the spinniest football hurls you will ever see!” says a football commentator definitely.
Before Simone even vaults, Tim has already elected her Super President of Earth and has given her ALL THE SEC 10s. He’s totally Utah-fanning this vault and basically throws himself onto a disappointment pyre when she hops.
Simone still gets a 9.900 E, just getting hit with a tenth for the hop. The judges also could have taken for crossed feet and being off direction, so that identical vault would probably go 9.700 E at the Olympics, although you never know considering the Kool-Aid vault judging from the last Olympics.
Meanwhile, Nastia is like, “Remember that time I got a 9.800 E on beam at Pac Rims? Anyone? … Anyone?”
Post-vault, Simone gets a drive-by underboob slap from Armine. The greatest honor.
“The top spot, and that’s Gabby Douglas.” Nope.
Laurie Hernandez had her typical horrific touch warmup on bars and fell (it’s like a good luck fall), so in the arena when we saw that she took out a tkatchev for her competition routine, I assumed they planned that because she had just fallen on it in the touch. But, listening to her and Maggie talk on the broadcast, it sounds like it was an in-the-moment decision by Laurie.
Let’s take another look at Gabby’s beam fall from night one. Oh wow, she fell again this time. I was in suspense. “Could have maybe fought for it [chuckle] a little bit [chugs orphan blood].”
“So far, the karma between the coach and Gabby has looked very good tonight.”
Also, Gabby’s energy denizens have been flowing through the third house, and the universe realigned her peace crystals. So, she’s definitely going to…oh, she fell again.
AND SHE WENT BACK TO THE PAPER CUP AFTER THE FALL NOW IT’S A PATTERN.
She’s blowing on the water, you guys. I repeat, Gabrielle Douglas is blowing on her water. Who is Christina Desiderio?
At this point, Tim obviously received the note that Gabby is going to be on the team anyway because even though she just fell on beam, the narrative abruptly changed from…
…to “she’s fine and is going to be on the team 100% everyone.”
Since Gabby just fell, I feel like this would be a really good time for Andrea to go talk with Natalie. Fun! “So Natalie, how do you feel about your daughter sucking? Are your dreams slipping away? Would you like to cry for me now?”
Note that Arie got demoted down a row for Andrea to squeeze in there. I want an entire Douglas Family Gold episode about it.
…Instagram update on Michael Phelps’ son? Because everyone needs another chance to make fun of his name? Yes. Endorsed.
Also, Laurent is in the background doing “Angels in the Outfield” wings, in case you needed that in your life. Which you did.
Next, it’s Ashton Locklear on bars.
“Well, they’re watching this performance, that’s for sure.”
They were actually intently watching the beam performance from Amelia Hundley that was going on right then. The one you weren’t watching.
To Aly’s beam! On the broadcast, you did not get to see Aly almost fall backwards off the podium right before this. In the screencap, it’s not the best angle, but you can kind of see that the mat is a couple inches longer than the podium. Because of safety.
Aly always starts her run for her beam mount right at the end of the mat, which is a problem when there’s no podium under it. She stepped to the end of the mat and had to use all her beam skills to wobble and balance and stay on the podium. It was the best beam save of Aly’s career, and it wasn’t even on beam.
After that, she could obviously handle the actual beam and performed “the best beam routine that we’ve seen.” …..Ever?
“That’s about as happy as you’ll see Aly Raisman.” Oh yes, that frowning frownster Aly Raisman. She never smiles.
Should someone check on that lady?
Next, we get a look back on the previous night’s March of the Specials (which I elected not to attend, operating on the idea that I already know what Kerri Strug’s mouth looks like), but I think it was really unfair to put Daggett right next to all the younger ones who are still all fit. They should have been grouped by age. That was just mean.
GABBY IS GOING BACK TO THE OLYMPICS IF SHE HITS ALL FOUR PASSES. Now. Suddenly. Tim has to work really hard in the last third of the broadcast to try to explain why Gabby is making the team even though she has apparently sucked all weekend and MyKayla Skinner is perfect. He’s paddling this boat as fast as he can.
Can we also discuss how Gabby’s floor routine on night two was 985x better than her night one routine and got a lower E score?
Al: It’s pretty fun to make your second Olympic team.
Nastia: I can imagine, but I’m not sure how that feels.
Those fingernail marks are never coming out of that desk.
Now it’s time for the traditional “try to talk over Racial Gowey’s floor music” portion of the broadcast. Yeah, we wouldn’t want to have to see that.
Best part of the meet: Maggie runs to hug Simone after her routine (because that’s what you do, duh), and Simone goes, “Uh, your coach? Remember?”
On to Ragan Smith’s beam. “If you saw her in person, you wouldn’t believe it.” That she’s a person…?
After beam, Bela calls Ragan over because apparently he is literally obsessed with her, likely because she is the proper size, age, and thinness to be one of the gymnasts he approves of. I’m still worried that he’s going to try to shoot her, though.
So is Lurking Steve Penny.
That’s probably why Ragan followed this routine by casually cutting through her own foot with shears the size of her entire body.
Where exactly did this “Ashton Locklear is normally so steady on beam” narrative come from? She used to fall on basically every skill.
Ashton Locklear crying: 5; Aymillee Schild: 0
Once Tim told everyone what the team was going to be, it seemed like the rest of the meet would be a simple breeze through the remaining routines with some casual “Madison Kocian international look” nonsense thrown in for luck. That is, until Simone’s beamageddon.
On the plus side, it did allow Tim to get in a long-awaited “that’s shocking!”
Partial credit. However, we were really looking for “That’s, well frankly, that’s shocking.” Close, but not exact enough for full credit.
If I were a good person, I wouldn’t mention it, but I’m not, so…I TOLD YOU ABOUT THAT DAMN BARANI.
Tim declares that Simone could win the Olympic AA with a fall. Al goes, “Really?” Dear heart, did you not know that? Where you been? Tim has been telling you this for literally three years.
We move to Aly on floor so that Tim can say, “I don’t know how she fits it in one floor exercise area,” Aly’s cue to go immediately OOB.
Aly finishes up floor by giving the tearful Nastia Trials Wave.
Oh, but honey, you’re making the team.
Aly is sucking air like no one’s business after floor but still has to play “Where’s Mihai?” again as he remains on the other side of the floor. Help a girl out. Aly has to drag herself along with eight crutches and an oxygen tank to get to Mihai, who’s just lounging by the pool.
As was only fitting, trials concludes with Laurie Hernandez on beam, who gets a “FINAL ROUTINE OF TRIALS + LAURIE” score of 150 billion everythings forever.
With the competition complete, it’s time for the official team hug with all “9 + guests” of the competitors. Guess who’s already crying? It’s Aly.
There was a lovely moment here when the team all hugged and the crowd spontaneously started chanting “USA,” which was ruined later when Macready became so enamored of it that he forced everyone to do it 10 more times.
The selection committee then proceeds to take a 15-minute victory lap around the entire arena, because Martha won the championship.
I swear Rhonda really is Martha’s secret service agent. She’s assessing possible threats all over the place.
“And the women will go to their sequestered place.” Part of the new party game, RNC or Trautwig Comment. Really challenging.
As with the men, we have been told approximately 10 million times that the selection committee has 12 minutes. Obviously, Martha don’t play that, which means it’s time for improv classes with Al, Tim, and Nastia. You know, like you definitely haven’t had nightmares about.
We see the competitors walking into their own sequestered place, including “Gabrull-I-thi-gabby Douglas” That is what she prefers to be called, you guys.
P&G MOMS FLUFF. This time Nellie gets to be Simone’s mom instead of her grandfather’s wife. Look how that worked out.
BUT THEY HAD TO GIVE UP PROM HOW WILL THEY EVER GO ON IN LIFE THAT’S SUCH AN IMPORTANT THING. The whole “I had to give up prom” thing would be a little more tolerable if even once one of the male gymnasts said, “I had to miss prom.” But no. Because obviously who cares. BUT GIRLS DANCE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR LIFE FANCY DRESS FIND A HUSBAND.
I love how Wanda Hernandez is apologizing for crying, as if the producers aren’t in the back high-fiving each other because they got someone to cry.
“Some powerful stuff there.” = “SOMEONE CRIED YESSSSSSSSS”
Uh oh. Tim just told everyone what the team is going to be. How will we fill the rest of the time????
Apparently, by watching Al watch a clock and count down the seconds (ALL WE WANT FROM TELEVISION), until “an event that should be sponsored by Kleenex.”
HA HA HA HA HA. Fun fact: This event is actually sponsored by P&G, Kleenex’s rival company, so I’m sure P&G is super thrilled that Trautwig name-dropped Kleenex during an event it pays a shit-ton of money to sponsor.
It has been 18 minutes. I repeat, 18 minutes. You’re all fired. We’re 10 seconds from Mariah Careying all over everyone.
At this point, Steve Penny is already out in the arena, holding the list with the team on it, and waiting for Macready to finish interviewing the men’s team. Outwardly, everyone was going, “Men’s team, good for you, polite applause,” but inside was going, “SHUT UP AND GIVE ME THE NAMES YOU WORTHLESS GOON.”
Also, they brought out all eight of the men’s team (five team members and three alternates), and Macready went one-by-one to interview the five on the team, except he interviewed Leyva instead of Naddour, and it was super awkward.
It’s less awkward now that Leyva is on the team, but still…not that much less.
Also, John Orozco sang in falsetto, so that’s what you heard in the background. I love the idea that the TV audience heard this on the broadcast with no explanation whatsoever.
Still with time to fill, we move onto the “Who do you think will be shocked and devastated?” speculation game. WHAT A FUN CONVERSATION.
Next up, Tim Daggett will play “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” on the spoons, Nastia will lip sync for her life, and Al Trautwig will make his breakdancing debut.
It’s finally time. Phew. In the arena, the team walked out to wait by the floor before they were introduced, which would have taken some of the suspense out of the announcement if there had been any suspense in the first place.
Class photo. ISN’T EVERYONE HAVING FUN???
The best part of this whole announcement was how little Skinner wanted to be there.
Aly is never not gathering everyone in a circle to chant, “U-S-A!!!”
Andrea is never not trying to get people to cry in interviews.
Martha is never not schmoozing with Kobe and Nadia. Martha and Kobe talk show. RIGHT NOW. Come on, they’re not doing anything.
I’m so glad the broadcast ends with a shot of Kobe Bryant. He was the real hero of this competition.
But, sadly, it cut away right before we got a shot of Kobe and Ragan together. The height disparity between those two in a single picture would have been a really important moment in my life.
What do you think we’re here for?