The 2017 US Worlds Team

USA Gymnastics has just tweetnounced that the worlds team for 2017 is Ragan Smith, Jade Carey, Ashton Locklear, and Morgan Hurd.

So hmmmmmmmmm.

This was the rare year (among recent years) that we knew we were going to see a surprise no matter what because the second AA spot was so up for grabs. No clear option presented itself after the McCusker withdrawal.

BUT, it turns out that tonight’s big winner is Morgan Hurd, beating out Jordan Chiles and Trinity Thomas for the second all-around spot on the team. In the last post about team permutations, I noted that Hurd was close enough to the others to make it conceivable that she could beat both Chiles and Thomas at the selection camp. I assume that’s what must have happened for her to get the second AA spot since she was clearly behind Chiles and Thomas at nationals. She was still close enough that if she was the one who hit at camp…the choice makes sense.

As we learned from the videos (videos! From selection camp!), Thomas did not upgrade all the way to a DTY—put it on your Christmas list—still stepping up to the 1.5, though. That would have provided her with some lift in scoring potential, but not as much as she may have needed. Also, this is completely speculative, but while we got partial videos of everyone from the selection, Thomas’s routines were…more partial than those for the other major AAers. It could indicate errors that were taken out. That would make me more comfortable with the Thomas snub, if she totally botched selection. Otherwise, it is a snub, no two ways about it.

Chiles, meanwhile, has been named the alternate. I do still believe that Chiles has the higher peak scoring potential than Hurd when she hits because of her vault, but it’s close enough that just a few wobbles here and there would flip it, and if that’s what happened, then Hurd can very easily make sense as your AA option.

The thing is, however, that Hurd could show up at worlds, hit in the AA final, get a mid to high 56, and still not necessarily medal. She’s going to be in the hunt and a good contender, certainly, but it’s not a typical US-style sure thing.

That was going to be the case no matter who the US selected for that second AA position, but it’s something to get mentally accustomed to.

I won’t spend any time on Ragan Smith and Jade Carey because Smith was a total DUH, and once we saw the videos from selection of Carey hitting her two vaults and looking quite strong in the floor tumbling, Carey became a DUH as well.

Now…Locklear.

Let’s talk about this.

As we learned from the selection videos, Locklear still has not added back her inbar skills, which seemed to put her status on the team in doubt. But, you know, apparently not.

If Locklear shows up at worlds with a 5.5 D, she can still get a good score because Locklear (she should have the highest E and could break 14.5), but that’s not really going to be impressive enough in this field, is it? It shouldn’t be. I hope it isn’t because…5.5.

How the committee justifies putting Locklear on the team: Presumably they looked at what they had—which was Smith, Carey, and a second AAer that turned out to be Hurd—and saw that they were left with a UB/BB spot.

There’s not really anyone remaining who’s shouting her necessity for the team on bars and beam, so why not go with Locklear for bars? Locklear can still get close to the best bars workers and score a competitive total. Now, I would have preferred using that spot to take Thomas for beam in an Ivana-Hong-2009 role, but Thomas for beam wouldn’t be a caps lock MEDAL FAVORITE either. We can say, “Oh, Locklear shouldn’t be that competitive for a medal on bars with a 5.5,” but who would be super competitive for a medal in that spot?

That said, I also think Valeri+ may have been afflicted with a little “this team doesn’t have a true bars worker so we have to bring a bars worker!!!!!!” thinking, going for a well-rounded team when an individual worlds occasionally necessitates a well-lopsided team to maximize medal potential. This particular US group isn’t best-in-the-world on bars, and that’s fine. They could have just focused on the other events.

If you thought Trinity Thomas was a gymternet favorite before…

Now that she’s the snubbed and aggrieved underdog?

Watch out.

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32 thoughts on “The 2017 US Worlds Team”

  1. Okay, I’m a little biased as I dislike Ashton, but what’s the point in bringing her? She’s not the number one US bar worker, and Alyona with her form has outscored her all season. Now, her form is so much cleaner, as we saw in the videos, I was honestly so impressed. I also just really don’t want Ashton at worlds. BUT, I honestly never thought Morgan Hurd would be at worlds this year, but I’m so excited. Though, I wish Jordan had made it and done her two vaults.

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  2. It’s interesting that you focused on Thomas as your snub with this team, as it seems many others are pointing to Alyona and her bars. (athlough I dont totally buy it since her max score has been a 14.5, right there with smith). Also for Thomas, her main hope would be a beam final, which with this team its clear they are hoping for Ragan and Morgan, especially since morgan bought back her full in which ups her d score to higher than thomas (it was a little questionable in the video though like her head was almost on the ground).

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  3. When I saw Trinity’s wack vault, she was dead to me this year for Worlds. I didnt care. Done. Log off! Bye! She wasnt top 2 in anything, her only chance would have been an AA, but with a Yurchenko full and half, she would have needed to travel back into 2008 and have a massive bar set ala Nastia Liukin. But no! So she can have several seats. Sorry not sorry. As far as Locklear goes… WTF is everyone trying to convince themselves about these magical inbars? MAGICAL INBARS, IF SHE GETS HER MAGICAL INBARS BACK… really? Lets travel back to 2014 with those Magical Inbars, in the EF… What place did she finish with those magical in bars? Um 4th. Did she have the highest 3 ecore? No. So… gurl bye!!!! But yet at the same time, no one else could really fill a bars spot. And her on beam? lmao. sure Jan. But I guess we needed some filler at Worlds… Even if she does bring out her magical inbars… will it really matter internationally? It sure didnt in 2014 World EF.

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    1. Right, I don’t think anyone is arguing Ashton would have been a lock for the team even with the inbars, but it makes even less sense that they’re taking her without them.

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      1. Aww a delicate rose. It seems odd to tell someone ‘ what they should have said’ in order to make you feel comfortable’ Triggered much? Hurry, scurry to a safe place. I will pray for you… And the aggression lasted literally 2 seconds. Relax. The reason for the aggression was BECAUSE I LOVE HER. Her lines etc. And with the juniors coming up, and Simone etc her chances are getting harder in the years to come. You’ll live. Yikes are for bikes!

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  4. I’m a huge Morgan Hurd fan and so happy for her! I love Ashton but surprised a time her being picked. Hope she can prove us all wrong. Whoever the previous comment was from “D”… can I come sit with you at your table. You seem like a hoot and a half! Also… JADERADE!!! Yesssss

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  5. With this choice, I feel all is right in the world of gymnastics. Here are the reasons why:
    1.) Morgan is more artistic than Jordan
    2.) Morgan has higher D scores than Trinity
    3.) Morgan appears to have absolutely killed it in the training videos from camp (full in on beam, double double floor, solid DTY). Whereas we saw some very obvious handstand and form issues from trinity and jordan just in the 2 minute highly produced clips.
    4.) Ragan is our best all around gymnast. She is not my favorite gymnast , but she is our best chance to win another world all around title. Although if we see that horrendous floor choreo and music in floor finals, I may not watch.
    5.) Jade Carey has a realistic shot at world medals on both of her events. Her floor tumbling makes me smile, its so lofty and easy. Her dance, although simple, does show some musicality. The choice of the music and more classic choreo is soo needed for floor finals in comparison to Ragan’s routine (ick)
    6.) Ashton has experience, having been the only lady to have a previous world’s experience under her belt. She consistently delivers. She also has the best executed bar routine in the world. D score is a question mark of course.
    7.) Let’s remember who the national team coordinator is. Its Valeri Liukin. He is not going to pick power over polish. Look at Nastia, Madison, Alyssa Baumann, Ivanna Hong. He prefers the classic line, the toe point, the details over an Amanar. Let’s applaud his leadership and this series of outstanding choices to put the art back in artistic gymnastics.

    Personally, I was skeptical of Morgan after nationals. But if you watch the videos, and you remember who is the coordinator, its just what was going to happen. Look at the quality of the elements combined with the quantity of D score. When you do, Morgan beats both Trinity and Jordan.

    Lets wish all of these amazing athletes the best of luck as they compete on the world stage.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally agree with your comment. Especially regarding Locklears selection. For UB and BB specialist there was just no clear choice of this group of girls. Locklear comes clostest to a shot in the UB final. And i think the fact that she has been to a world championships before has been an advantage for her. She can take the role of kind of a team leader because she is more experienced and older than this otherwise totally new group of gymnasts..

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    2. I agree with this, especially when it came down to Valeri. He has Jade and Ragan who have higher difficulty routines and power but have the ability to make it into the finals on 3/4 events and earn solid E-scores. After nationals the nominative list seemed obvious and I’m sure Ashton hadn’t just competed beam because she was bored, she knew if she stood a chance of making the team she had to have something more than bars since she wasn’t at her full difficulty then. She’s made the Worlds team for bars only before, gotten to the finals but failed to medal because her d-score wasn’t high enough to keep her from losing by less than .02. So I’m sure she, her coach, and Valeri all know that it’s a risk to try to make it on just her execution and I doubt she wants to be in 4th place again. I thought Alyona looked SO much better technique wise in the camp videos, but taking her and hoping she would hit was riskier at the end of the day as much as I hate to admit it. Trinity, Alyona, and Jordan are all a little over a month apart in age and 16. They’re hopefully not going anywhere! Remember when Aly didn’t make AA or any event finals at Worlds in 2015? Sometimes a year is all they need to go from missing out to medalists. I think in order to keep them at their best and psychologically able to handle the pressure their time will come later. I’m trying to make peace with it that way because who knows how pissed we’d be if we saw videos from the Marta-era.

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  6. I’m going to put a positive spin on this Thomas snub…it’s going to fuel her to work harder in the gym on upgrades, and I think we’ll see some awesome gymnastics out of her in 2018. Since there’s not a team medal up for grabs, I think they were able to take chances on Hurd and Locklear and see how the do/measure up at Worlds. I’d love to see Ashton look solid on beam.

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  7. There’s pretty much an unwritten cap on non-vault E-scores of 9.0. The very maximum Locklear can get with her current routine is 14.5 which isn’t going to do anything. And is she expected to be 3rd beam worker?? I think she’s hit a total of 1 routine in major competitions in over a year. I was rooting for Locklear last year and I still think she is one of the nicest bars workers ever, but this decision makes no sense. Shchennikova looks like a better option at this point with her considerable difficulty advantage and form improvements.

    Hopefully Carey will be given beam over Locklear. Carey obviously hasn’t been great on beam, but she’s shown more in fewer competitions than Locklear has.

    The Hurd selection surprised me a bit at first, but I can get behind this for two main reasons:

    First, Chiles’ gymnasts, while still fantastic, seems most likely to be hit hard under international scoring. She has big deductions built into all her dance elements and there is a heaviness to her gymnastics that wouldn’t sit well with an international panel. Had she had a Cheng rather than a Lopez for a second vault, I think she would have made it for sure.

    Second, Thomas bringing anything less than a DTY was going to seal her fate and a decent Y1.5 wasn’t going to cut it. On a 6 person team, she would have been guaranteed to make it as the trusty person who could be put up for a solid score on 3 events, but she just doesn’t cut it this year on a 4 person team.

    Still, Hurd doesn’t instill much confidence because her very best this year was only a “well it wasn’t awesome, but at least she didn’t fall”. Her upgrades are promising and I have to assume she nailed camp.

    On paper, this team seems to have the potential for 2 medals in the all-around, bars, beam, and floor and 1 on vault, but an alarming number of those medals are very questionable. This will be an interesting Worlds indeed…

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    1. I agree. However the 2-medal potential on bars seems unrealistic to me. At best, Locklear *could* sneak onto the podium, but I don’t really think either Smith or Hurd (whoever makes it to finals, if any) have a chance. The bars field il pretty strong as it is (and I’m not even including Locklear).

      On a different note, Carey’s kick-out on her double double on floor is quite amazing. Now, if she only tried to make it seem like she’s having at least a little fun performing the whole thing…

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    2. With all the new crop of Juniors next year, Emma, Mailie, Gabby, etc and if Simone is back… Trinity is gonna need a little more than just a double yurchenko. We shall see.

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  8. I am a big Ashton fan and always have been. I heard she is saving her in-bars because of her back issues and that she showed her in-bars at the first day of training camp. I don’t think Valeri would have taken her if she didn’t have her in-bars back. Believe me, she will bust those in-bars out when she needs to… at worlds. I love, love the fact that they took a chance on Morgan Hurd as I am a big fan of hers. I just hope the pressure doesn’t get to her and she bombs… I still think we have possibilities for medals in AA, V, BB and FX with a possibility for UPB if Ashton does the routine I think she will. Also, Russia’s top bar worker is injured and out and the Chinese never really hit in competition. Nina Derwal of Belgium has a good chance and Eremnia of Russia. Ashton has the experience, the polish and I think she can do it! This is her year to finally hit at Worlds and bring home that medal. It may not be gold but any medal would be fantastic. Bars is going to be the most competitive which is strange for some reason. The least competitive will be, I think, balance beam and floor. Good luck to all these girls. Go USA!

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    1. I dom’t think you can say the Chinese don’t hit bars in competition, at least not for WC EF.

      2013- Huang Huidan 1st
      2014- Yao Jinnan 1st, Huang Huidan 2nd
      2015- Fan Yilin 1st

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    2. If this is true, then this does change things quite a bit. It does concern me though that Locklear is so fragile that she can only afford to break out the inbars only when absolutely needed.

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  9. At this point it’s pretty clear that it’s unlikely Ashton will medal in the bars final, so the US would not be losing a medal by taking someone else in her place, but whoever they took would gain international experience which would be invaluable and maybe contribute to a medal in later years when it counts.

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    1. Jordan Chiles, Trinity Thomas, and Alyona Shchennikova are even less likely than Ashton Locklear to be medal contenders now or in future years, so why bring them? The up-and-coming juniors look promising, and Simone is talking of return. Ashton is the only one of those 4 really with even an outside shot at a medal this year, so she earns the spot on the team.

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    1. 4 other spots? 2018 Worlds team is 5 people. Maile, Emma, and Gabby P have 3 of them locked up good and tight. If Simone comes back, that’s 4 locked up. There’s one spot left for Ragan, Riley, and everyone else to fight over. And looking at the lineup, they’re going to need another Amanar, especially if Simone doesn’t come back.

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      1. Ok I think we are getting ahead of our selves… in 2014 everyone thought Bailie and Nia would be on the worlds team in 2015, didnt think Brenna would be back, banked on Kyla making a 3rd straight worlds team, doubted Gabby & Aly’s ability to make it back and never thought Kocian’s body would last another year. Yes there are at least 3 or 4 juniors coming up who will be in the mix but we have no way of knowing who is going to be competitive next summer, who upgrades where (and can safely compete them…) I would doubt that all 3 of the top juniors this year make the 2018 team (dont get me wrong I love all of their gymnastics). Could it happen? Yeah if they all magically fit the perfect little puzzle that is a worlds team, but not super likely.

        AND LET SIMONE COME BACK ON HER OWN TIME DAMMIT. last thing you want is for her to rush back and not be in her normal shape and get hurt.

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  10. Maybe this is a dumb comment but why is it inbars or bust for Ashton in terms of difficulty? There’s got to be other ways for her to add a few D tenths to her score – why not train a Fabrichnova dismount or Weiler lips or something. I know it’s easier said than done but the inbars have seemed like a no-go for long enough that she and her coaches could have come up with a few tricks in the meantime. The whole idea that the only way she can be competitive is with inbars is bizarre to me. She’s supposed to be a specialist – you’d think she’d have a broader repetoire on her speciality.

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    1. The word is that Locklear did verify inbars at camp. Thomas wasn’t snubbed. She was one of a few contenders and wasn’t picked. Thomas did a good job but she didn’t blow the field away or establish herself as a likely medalist on any event. And the “Ashton didn’t win her event” is getting old. Carey, Smith and McCusker were the only athletes to win an event and McCusker is hurt. Ashton did a better job on her event than anyone else did anywhere else. But for some reason it’s okay if Thomas doesn’t win an event, and okay if Thomas just makes finals but doesn’t medal at worlds but not okay for Ashton.

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  11. I really like Morgan (and hope she is elected president) and am really disappointed that she made the team. She has not performed well enough in major meets to warrant the choice. But honestly, this decision was obvious once you heard the NBC broadcast where Nastia was selling Morgan like a used car salesman, much like she did Gabby one year earlier. And despite the lackluster performance, one should have known that Nastia was speaking for Valeri as she spoke for Martha one year before. USA gymnastics is a club and does not treat many gymnasts like Jordan Chiles fairly.

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    1. Has Jordan performed well in many major meets? Literally her entire junior career, save a couple meets, was full of inconsistency. In this case you can’t use that as a reason, since they both have had major issues with hitting at competitions. They were close in scoring potential in AA, but without a second vault, Jordan doesn’t have a big shot at an EF, with an upgraded beam dismount (i dont think its really worth it given when she lands it her head is literally a foot off the ground) has a better shot at the beam EF. It was in jordan’s hands to show her 2nd vault and get that spot, without it, the choice was whoever looked better at CAMP and it was morgan this time.

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      1. Yes I can use consistency at major meets as a reason, thank you. Jordan was a much better gymnast at Classics and Nationals, placing 2nd. Valeri doesn’t like her body type; that’s the main problem. There is no evidence that Morgan outperformed Jordan at camp. The videos released certainly don’t show that. The choice was made long ago when Valeri decided he liked Morgan’s body and style and told Nastia to deliver Russian propaganda about it on NBC.

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