The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

US Women’s Podium Training of Truth

Get your Martha Eyes ready. Get your uneven-bars-lineup pens out. It’s time for the US women. (What? You don’t have an uneven-bars-lineup pen? I don’t even think I know you.)

We’ve already had some developments in the earlier sessions.

Hong Un Jong performed her TTY and almost remained living on one of the attempts. It’s a risky little game if she tries to do that in qualification.

Shang Chunsong’s everything felt yucky and terrible. She fell four times on beam, once on bars, and did little else.

Paseka is fine and great now apparently, having recovered from her bout with Gargoyle Back to perform her normal vaults. It does, however, sound like Tutkhalyan did bars and will have a shot at the AA.

Mustafina did normal Mustafina, alternating between upgrading to her eponymous bars dismount and just popping off beam because of an overabundance of life.

GB’s lineups are as expected, with Ellie Downie and Fragapane the only two AAers.

Rebeca Andrade is, in fact, upgrading to the Andramanar, a nice little boost to Brazil’s potential standing in the 5-10 race.

Now, to the America people from America! The most anticipated “order in which people are standing” in the history of gymnastics.

Breaking news: Aly is the tallest. Martha is wearing a t-shirt.

Unlike the men, it looks like everyone is training every event.

US on floor, touch warmup beginning. No one has forced Gabby to get rid of her back tuck out of the full-in, I see. Simone hopped on her full-in. Off the team.

Warmup over. We begin with Gabby.

Douglas – FX – nearly finishes double L to L this time, better than trials, but not quite, strong double arabian to stag. full in, pause, to back tuck. It’s not connected – leans a little out of the double Y but that would get credit. The Ferrari is also still here (boo) – hop back on double pike. Hops again on double tuck, but solid, fine. Turns a bit improved from trials.

Kocian appears to be going at the end, since she’s the one who won’t do it in competition, so watch that order when it comes to bars.

Hernandez – FX – hop back on DLO – strong landing on double arabian into stag – a little off line on third pass, which you can tell from this angle especially – squatty landing on double tuck with a hop back.

Simone before Aly? Trolling us with the order like the men?

Biles – FX – Usual bounce back on DLO 1/1 – very controlled landing on Biles. Just the tiniest bit short on double double with a hop forward – obviously excellent – no trouble in this first three routines. Jaw caress from martha.

Raisman – FX – 1.5 to double arabian to layout, comfortably in bounds this time – a little bouncy on her split 1.5 – double L is tight but around – Dos stantos to stag, loses her legs a bit in the air but very good landing – very strong DLO landing – back leg particularly low on switch this time – no trouble double pike.

No issues with this floor lineup. They’ll lead by a bunch on floor by repeating this exact thing.

Kocian – double araiban to stag – lovely twisting – stays in bounds on second pass – double wolf was a tad short of two full – strong double tuck – switch ring is wonderful – lunge back and OOB on double pike – she’s looking particularly intact these days.

“You can sit on the chairs, you can sit on the ground, whatever you want.” Martha so generous.

The US gymnasts are pleased that the floor is bouncier than they thought. Not as hard as they expected.

Martha also doesn’t think the arena is too bright. So take that, men’s team.


Martha nad Mihai discussing something very urgent and specific with one of the employees/volunteers.

Aly says she feels like she’s dreaming. It doesn’t feel real. She’s so media trained she says her media training answers even when she’s not being interviewed.

We move to vault!

Compulsory comment about how high Simone’s timer is.

Casual stuck Amanar from Simone. Right down the middle. OK, so there’s that. Various states of timers otherwise. Aly warms up double full.

High Cheng from Simone as well, bounces back out of it.

Hernandez DTY a little short bounce forward. Douglas also short on her DTY with a lunge forward. Pick it up, ladies.

Raisman – sticks an Amanar. Well now. Well well well. Still legs, but damn that landing. She’s all giggles and smiles about it.

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Next one was pretty similar too.

Hop forward from Simone on her next Amanar. Very strong Cheng, tiny bit short, small hop forward. “NO PROBLEMS” is Martha’s comment.

Martha has never been prouder of her little trophy.

Also Kocian is doing a full.

Very strong Amanars from Biles and Raisman. We’ll see which DTY gets the call up in TF. Will be a qualification decision. Douglas’s second attempt was the best one of the duo.

I don’t think Simone’s Cheng has looked higher than it does today.


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“The judges have the most difficult job of all,” says the PA announcer. Cut to the gymnasts being like, “They what now?”

The camera people are doing a pretty good job of practicing cutting away from butt closeups so far.

Aly cleaning up after everyone on vault.

Ellie Black has been caught recording in the arena. TROUBLLEEEEE.

The order they’re lining up for bars is Raisman, Biles, Douglas, Kocian, Hernandez, seeming to indicate that Hernandez is indeed the odd woman out.

“Welcome to bars!”
“Thank you!”

Well, that’s adorable.

As I said in the preview, I’m not saying I like it, I’m saying ti’s going to happen.

We’ll be eagle-eyeing Laurie’s warmup on bars now. It looked ragged at the beginning but normal once she got going. This is not a bars decision, this is an AA decision.

Raisman – hits shap to taktchev well – jaeger – bail legs together – legs on following full – sticks double front – normal Aly bars.

Biles – weiler 1/2 to shap is good, not quite vertical on shap – hesitation in full but works through to tkatchev – piked tkatchev to pak – takes it far but catches and connects. A moment or two in there but otherwise normal Simone.

Aly is really worried that she took her grips off too early. Love.

Douglas – inbar full to piked tkathev to pak is solid – inbar half to endo to shap 1/2 caught – sticks DLO. Good one. Will score well.

Kocian – inbar full tconnect to shap into pak to shap 1/2 – strong jaeger – a little arched in her stalder, stalder full to tuck full. Yep.

“You were brave to connect.” Martha feelings.

Hernandez – crazy legs stalder full – hiptchev – to piked hiptchev – to Ricna to pak – connected comfortably – handstands look good – pulls in tuck full a touch, hop forward, will still be in contention to go for the team final.

Team going back up to do bits and pieces. And by team, I mean a couple of them. Aly was like, THOSE GRIPS ARE OFF.

Bars is as expected. Normal. Regular. Douglas improved from some of the nationals/trials especially. Looks more like Classic. Hernandez also better than trials, full difficulty with no hiccups.

Kocian works her opening connection again.

Now replays until beam.

Oh yeah, there’s still beam. It was all about bars that I forgot there were other events.

Lineup for beam, as expected, is Gabby, Aly, Laurie, Simone, Madison.

Of course, I did say on Gymcastic at trials that if Laurie didn’t do the AA, I was going to burn Martha. So I should probably start planning for that. But I do believe this is the inevitable outcome and that Aly is more likely to get a higher AA score than Laurie here, in spite of what happened at trials.

Douglas – BB – front pike small check – loso series hit – no trouble on tuck full – hits switch 1/2 – pauses after front tuck into questionable wolf connection but no wobble – usual switch ring – walkover good – small hop on a somewhat low double pike. Good. She looks ready to me. AA between her and Aly will be FASCINATING.

Raisman – BB – wobble on front pike – hits layout, legs apart – switch to back tuck – her pike jump is actually a little more realistic than Gabby’s – switch 1/2 is still her switch 1/2 – does connect out of front tuck – L turn to full turn – deep on Patterson with a lunge forward, her weakest in a while. Not the stick we’ve been expecting. Overall fine and good.

Hernandez – BB – front pike small slide – walkover to lovely leaps – check on losos – hits sheep – front tuck to wolf – wobble on side aerial stays on – strong switch and switch 1/2 combo, good positions and rhythm – hop back double pike.

Biles – BB – 2.5 wolf with small check but not a trials moment – barani is good, small bend but chest position better – perfect two loso series – pause after switch half to break connection into back pike – walkover to wolf is good – short landing on full in dismount with lunge forward. OK, not her great one.

Kocian – BB – very strong arabian – good switch – loso series with wobble – walkover to sheep – side aerial – another solid showing – really enjoying how it buffers every time a new banner ad loads. Step on double pike.

Douglas going again – wobble on the back full this time – also tighter on swithc 1/2 – the first go was stronger – got better as it went.

Raisman again – sticks layout, better overall position that time – solid on all her acro – she’s nailing this second routine, except for a check on her full turn – hop on double arabian again

Hernandez again – looking similar to the first time – large wobble on loso series this time but stays on again – deep front tuck, small check – double pike hop back

Simone again – better wolf 2.5 this time – much worse barani, large break and hand on the beam – biggest mistake of podium training so far for anyone – the rest looked normal Simone. Interesting that she seems to be having a few issues on beam, just like she did at trials.

Don’t worry. She’s just going to burn the arena to the ground.

Kocian again – arabian has been very good on both turns – wonderful switch ring – good loso – she looks quite solid – not a bad backup 5th option to have – very deep double pike but to her feet.

Simone going again with her dismount, good.

“OK, girls, uh good.” “A few places we can refine some stuff, but I was very pleased.” Martha’s thoughts.


Beam had the most issues with a few people looking wobbly, but nothing major. They look wildly ready for qualification.

The news will be that right now Laurie is out of the AA.

Just another casual podium training with zero falls. You know, like no other country has.

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