The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Women’s All-Around Live Blog

Today, the Simone Show moves into phase 2, the SIMONE part, featuring special help from her trusty assistant Aly Raisman. The most interesting item gleaned from qualification (reinforcing what we learned at trials) is that while we have been saying for years that Simone could fall twice and still win the Olympic AA, that’s not necessarily true. One fall, yes. One fall and some 2015 AA issues, probably fine. But two falls would start to be a problem.

The #2 American was always going to be the favorite for silver, but the margin by which Raisman leaped ahead of the other non-Americans in qualification was surprising. Two whole points, and two whole points ahead of people like Andrade and Tutkhalyan who had pretty much ideal meets for them and won’t expect to do much more today. That’s why medal expectations have turned toward Mustafina, one of the few in the competition who could go into the 59s with four hit routines, in spite of her underpowered 2016 floor.

Still, the race for bronze remains as wide open as it has seemed ever since Iordache got injured, but Mustafina’s 58 with a fall in qualification does appear to put her in the front of the pack, especially with Melnikova not advancing and Shang not looking at full strength so far in the competition. But those of us who are looking for an insane result somewhere still have bronze to cling to. In start list news, Brazil has officially pulled Saraiva from the all-around final to be replaced by Barbosa, ostensibly because they want her to focus on the beam final, even though it’s—you know— possible to do both. Barbosa was originally two-perred out of the AA final, so she is able to go in as a replacement.

Replacement athletes slot into the starting-order position of the person they’re replacing, rather than the one based on their own rank, so while Barbosa’s AA ranking would have her starting on floor, she’s actually starting on beam where Saraiva would have started. Not sure she’s thrilled about that, especially after TF.

Group 1 (vault): Biles, Raisman, Andrade, Tutkhalyan, Mustafina, Wang
Group 2 (bars): Thorsdottir, Murakami, Onyshko, Seitz, Teramoto, Black
Group 3 (beam): Lopez, Steingruber, Wevers, Brevet, Barbosa, Shang
Group 4 (floor): Derwael, Downie, Vanhille, Ferlito, Scheder, Ferrari

Don’t sleep on group 3 in your stream prioritization. With Shang and Steingruber in there, we may have more medal contenders in the third group than in the second. But I guess we’ll know early since they start on beam. Candles for Giulia.

Also, in case you were wondering, Aly Raisman is the first US gymnast since Shannon Miller to make two Olympic AA finals. This is also the fourth Olympic/World AA final for both Raisman and Biles, tying them with our darling Kathy Johnson on the US list, still behind Miller’s six. Johnson’s number is made more impressive by not having a world championship every year and by not being able to go to 1980.

Gabby Douglas barely missed out on this final by finishing one spot behind Raisman in qualification, the third time in four Olympic/World competitions together in which she has finished qualification exactly one spot behind Raisman (4th/5th in 2011, 2nd/3rd in 2012, 2nd/3rd in 2016).

The competition will begin with three straight Amanars, and then we won’t see one again for the rest of the day. Expect Simone to jump out early, along with Aly if she continues doing her Amanar like that. Seitz should also be right up near the top of the early rankings because she begins on bars.

Coaches marching in with their bags to see who can be the first to hit Simone in the face with a giant gym bag. They all came pretty close.

Simone got to stand next to Wang, first time being not the shortest in a lineup.

Derwael and Seitz competing for the Longines Prize for Technicolor Peacock.

Warmups now – First time Simone hasn’t stuck her Amanar in the touch so far at this meet. Saving it this time?

Rotation 1:

Andrade – VT – Amanar – a little short this time, hop back and to the side –  I preferred her earlier vaults in this competition, with the step forward. Still 15.566.

Wevers – BB – switch to sheep, and she’s off on the sheep. Oh Lieke! 13.066.

Raisman – VT – Amanar with a larger hop forward this time, more reminiscent of her vaults earlier in the year. Still good, but not qualification or TF level. 15.633.

Onyshko 14.166 on bars.

Biles – VT – HUGE bound forward this time, reminiscent of her vault in the AA last year, also her weakest of the competition so far. 15.866. How that score is higher than her TF score, one of life’s little mysteries.

Steingruber beam – check after walkover in opening combination – large bend on side somi but stays on – check on punch pike – fine loso series, bent knees – front tuck is solid – gainer piked full, hop forward. Stayed on but a couple significant checks 13.666

Wang – VT – low landing on rudi, step forward

stuck tuck full for Murakami on bars –

Mustafina – VT – double full, near stuck, small slide back, usualy Musty legs. 15.200.

Seda – VT – floppy-legged DTY, larger bound back. 14.866.

Thorsdottir – UB – shap to pak, smallest leg break – toe shap to bail, large leg break manages to hold it well, good save to minimize deductions – nice toe point in jaeger, could be higher – sticks tuck full. 14.200. Deep breath. Survived.

Lopez – BB – very strong layout series – check on a tigher switch side – wolf jump full – check on walkover, leg up – side aerial, side somi – 2.5 hop forward. Stayed on, only minor errors. JESSICA!

Black – UB – toe shap to hindorff is solid – piked hindorff also strong – jaeger to pak, loses leg form throughout, doesn’t have the toe point – shap half to a very short cast hs – step forward on dismount. 14.500. It’s not a clean routine, but she will take a bars 14.500 right to the bank.

Shang hits beam! secure punch front to wolf – nails double turn – walkover to sheep – side aerial sissone – 3/1 dismount with small hop – her best of the meet. 14.833.

Teramoto has a short hs toward the end of bars – hop to the side on tuck full – 14.566.

Barbosa – BB – round off bhs mount, excellent – round off to layout is nailed – switch side – L turn – check on side aerial – lean on punch front – lone switch leap – double pike – hits beam. Phew. 13.700.

Seitz – UB – toe shap to ricna is solid – high jaeger – piked ricna to pak connected – hitting hs – shap 1/2 – late on toe full but otherwise good vertical – tuck full hop in place 15.233. Moves into 4th just above Mustafina and just below the Amanars as expected.

Brevet – BB – lovely switch but does pause in combo to switch half with a check – walkover to sissone – y spin 1/4 to cover up balance check – knees on loso series – side aerial – side somi – double pike – fine, good.

After 1:
1. Biles – 15.866
2 Raisman – 15.633
3 Andrade – 15.566
4 Seitz 15.233
5. Mustafina 15.2

To rotation 2! Mustafina will expect to take the lead after this one.

Charitably, they will be letting Aly Raisman go first on bars and then never have to do it again ever.

Steingruber – FX – double double tuck, just keeps it in with a hop, someone not stepping over – love the position and amplitude on her complex leaps – DLO full is short and staggered by she stays up – better full in, deep but more secure – 14.733.

Swear ALy almost walked into the bars before starting her routine – toe full to shap to tkatchev is solid – jaeger – solid bail – full, doesn’t connect to shoot and has to cast again, a bit short on that hs, leg break and a hop back on the double front, not what she did in qualification but once again, probably good enough. 14.166. She is letting Mustafina into it with these scores, though.

Lopez – FX – full in, hop – whip 3/1 is shrot of rotation with a lunge forward –

13.900 for Murakami on beam.

Biles – UB – weiler 1/2 – to toe shap – toe full to tkatchev – piked tkatchev to pak is wonderful – a little close on shoot back to high – sticks dismount as always – 14.966. That works.

Thors dottir – BB – two part switch ring but we don’t care because it’s lovely – small check on illusion – walkover to split to wolf – L turn – switch to y spin with a check – 3/1 bounce back –

Wang – UB – weilering – L gripping even though it’s not her thing – very high jaeger – pak – nothing connected – dead hang after shoot to high – DLO hop back.

Shang – FX – 3/5 to side pike diagonal, her new pass – 1.5 to 3/1 to front tuck, low chest on 3/1, more than usual – 2.5 to half – will be swimming in amplitude deductions – double pike chest down but relatively secure.

Balck – BB – front pike is strong, minor check on layout series – small hop back on tuck full series – switch to switch 1/2, questionable connect and a wobble after – front tuck to wolf no trouble – 2.5, a couple hops to the side. That’s the one she wanted in team. 14.566.

Mustafina – UB – inbar full to toe shap to pak to toe shap 1/2, lovely, excelletn rhythm – piked jaeger – toe full – Mustafina with a hop. Good one – she grimaces like her world just ended, so you know it will be a big score. 15.666. Enough to go just ahead of Biles.

Jade has stopped in the middle of floor after two passes. Limps off in tears. Didn’t see what she did. Being loaded onto a chair now. This is all Flavia’s fault.

Teramoto – BB – floated onodi, really has flight in it, though her other acro is quite close to the beam – very secure early routine –

Seda – UB – pike toe takchev to pak is good, leg break on pak – shap to bhardwaj – shap 1/2 – WOGAtchev – double front with hop. Lots of form and feet areas in that routine, but a palpable hit. 15.033. Up ahead of Raisman. E score too high for that routine.

Brevet has the honor of going up on floor after Barbosa’s injury. Steps out on DLO. Her second pass is 1.5 to stag. It’s lovely, but come on…

Andrade – UB – toe shap to stalder full, quite late on that one – tkatchev to a pretty pak – to shap 1/2 – toe half to high piked jaeger – wonky orhpan half turn – hop on tuck full. Good. 14.033.

Seitz – BB – punch front is secure – loso series with a .3 break – side somi with small lean correction – walkover to sissone – double turn – side aerial – switch and split are tight and under – gainer layout stuck.

Wevers – FX – goes for triple L to triple spin, both close but not sure either will get credit – double back – switch ring to switch 1/2, lovely – falls out of triple attitude attempt, will get a double – 2.5 small hop – just falling out of her difficult spins right toward the end, which will hurt her D quite a bit since that’s the whole routine. 5.4 D, 8.733 E.

Onyshko – BB – secure on layout series – switch to side aerial with major swimming wobble to stay on – sticks tuck full series though – breaks a connection or two in there, so shouldn’t be peak D, and the large wobble – double tuck step back.

After 2:
1. Mustafina 30.866
2. Biles 30.832
3. Tutkhalyan 29.899
4. Raisman 29.799
5. Andrade 29.599
6. Shang 29.433
7. Downie 29.400

Biles will start on beam.

Thorsdottir – FX – 3/1 to front tuck – some hops, lovely spins – no trouble with 2.5 this time –

Biles – BB -good 2.5 wolf – solid split and pike jumps –  check on barani but OK – very strong two loso series – front tuck, small pauses in connection – individual skills ins witch to switch half to back pikeseries are good, I question the connections – front tuck is great – a little short on tuck full dismount with a very small hop. She hit the one she needed to make this comfortable. “What a great smile” is all the stadium PA can say. Ugh.

Shang stuck her yfull by the way. A piked mess, but stuck.

15.433 for Simone. She has been lower than qualification across the board but nothing that will cause her any trouble.

Derwael’s 15.3 on bars puts her ahead of Lopez and Thorsdottir.

Black – FX – 2.5 to double back is very good, just a small landing adjustment – short in these twisting switches – front double full to front tuck, scomes in a bit short with a stumble. Takes her double pike pass right into the corner. Couldn’t really have asked for better tough routines so far. 14.366. Ahead of Shang.

Wang hit her layout series on beam again! 3/1 dismount with hop back. She has quietly had a very good competition. Much better than expected based on the rest of the year. 14.666.

Steingruber rudi gets 15.366, very good, medium hop back. She’s ahead of Black now.

Mustafina – BB – here we go – does she have an acro series? The eternal question – small check on double turn – lovely splits, swims on side somi – switch 1/2 to onodi with a check – side aerial – walkover check – bhs – still no acro series to speak of – switch ring, a bit tight – double tuck with lunge back. I did not spot an acro series in there. Devastating. THIS ROUTINE COMPOSITION. 13.866 and a 5.3 D. Infuriating.

Seitz – FX – 1.5 to double back, lunge – 2.5 with hop to the side – double pike, low chest slide back

Seda – BB – Aliya just opened the door for Seda – layout series step back – switch to switch 1/2 – round off layout full, stays on beam somehow, takes about 50 steps back, but she’s so small that she was still on the beam – switch ring is quite good – double pike to her butt. OH. That’s our girl. Ugggggggggh.

Seda still gets a 13.8 and is still in 4th. That’s high for a fall and a massive wobble in that one.

Onyshko with a slide back on double pike to finish – 13.900 for her.

Andrade – BB – large break on loso series, leg up – pauses after switch – switch half, small check – extremely low punch front, somehow stayed on – botches a leap and just does a nothing, or dear – repeats switch ring and it’s great – walkover to side aerial, slow in connection – this is a very tentative routine but she stays on – double pike with hop. 13.600.

Murakami floor – a couple low landings early and then nearly sits her third pass, she needed a better one than that.

Raisman – BB – layout was secure, a little more whippy and separated this time so may not get full credit but nailed – fine switch – hits her splits – side aerial – switch 1/2 is normal – nailed front tuck – L turn to full turn is connected this time – double arabian bounce forward – 14.866 means she likely didn’t get full difficulty. She’s a tenth behind Mustafina for now and will be expected to more than make that up on floor.

Biles leads by a casual point and a half. Mustafina still very comfortable-looking for bronze right now. The top three have a big lead over Steingruber in 4th. Shang is back in 7th and still has bars to go, so she should make up some group, but not enough to get into the medals.

So maybe Simone could have fallen twice after all.

After 3:
1. Biles 46.265
2. Mustafina 44.732
3. Raisman 44.665
4. Steingruber 43.765
5. Tutkhalyan 43.699
6. Black 43.432
7. Shang 43.316
8. Andrade 43.199
9. Downie 43.183
10. Wang 43.132.

Final rotation!

Wang starts the final rotation on floor and Adi Pops around – sticks final double pike – 14.900.

Black – VT – Handspring lay full is excellent – small hop forward – tremendous competition for her. 14.866. They’re scoring that vault harsher than DTYs even though they have the same start.

Black hit four, finishes 58.298. Looks on good track for the best Canadian women’s AA finish ever.


Great landing on a rudi for teramoto –

Shang hit bars for 15.233. Total 58.549. Good day for her, best she has looked at the Olympics.

Mustafina – FX – falls out of double L right at the end – good full in, bounce back but stays in – drops out of triple y – double y to double spin – 1.5 to front full, slall hop – just short of four on the quad spin – double tuck, slide back. Good one. Did what she could do, but the score really shouldn’t be all that much over 14.

Judges deliberating what they need to do to get Mustafina the bronze. I mean, deciding which turns get credit.

13.933. Ahead of Shang by a tenth. Got exactly the score she needed for that routine.

Seda – FX – DLO very low hop forward – two whips to double pike to fall. Identical to beam dismount. Seda Seda Seda…you’ll never get off Valentina’s Hate List with this attitude. Falls again on final double tuck. Well, that was terrible.

Thorsdottir just hit a lovely DTY, great legs, hop back.

Mustafina is inquiring her floor D, which was a 5.NONEFORYOU

Andrade – FX – full in excellent, near stuck – 2.5 to front full to hop – bounces back on double tuck – squatty double pike but landed.

13.766 for Andrade.

Lopez got 15.100 on bars and is currently in 5th! Dying!

Crowd is all cheering Re-be-ca, and Aly is like, “Could we please?”

Raisman – FX – 1.5 to double arabian to layout, solid again, right into the corner – a little bouncy on leaps – good double L – Dos Santos stuck, NBD – DLO just a tad under with a .1 hop forward – low back leg – solid double pike directly connected to all the tears for .2 CV. The girl has nailed this competition.


15.433 for Raisman – 60.098 total. Minimum silver. Simone needs to score only in the 13s.

13.7 for Downie on beam.

Biles – FX – DLO 1/1 hop back – Biles to leap – double wolf turn – good amplitude on leaps and position – sticks double double – could probably stop now if she wanted – solid full in with a hop. There it is. The relief of when the inevitable actually happens.

Everyone is crying in a little huddle – Mihai’s like “I don’t really do this,b ut feelings.”

Casual 15.933.

  1. Biles 62.198
  2. Raisman 60.098
  3. Mustafina 58.665
  4. Shang 58.549
  5. Black (!) 58.298


Lopez in 7th! Thorsdottir in 9th!

Simone and Aly waving on the podium. Invite Aliya up there? No? …No?

Also, another 4th place for Shang. Just like literally every other meet of her life. Her second consecutive AA 4th place finish.


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