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US World Championships Team Named


USAG announced the women’s team for the 2018 world championships today with relatively little associated drama or outrage. What is even going on in the world?

That’s what happens when you open the doors on the selection competition—everyone is less surprised by the actual team because…yeah, we saw the routines too.


The six traveling to Doha will be Simone Biles, Riley McCusker, Morgan Hurd, Grace McCallum, Kara Eaker, and Ragan Smith.

-Who’s in this photo?
-Only Simone. Bye.

No official alternate has been named yet. It’s not unusual for the US to wait to differentiate the five on the team and the traveling alternate for a worlds team competition until the last possible second (or how about just never tell anyone, including the athletes, and wait for the Christmas morning of start lists—FUN GAME!)

Still, it usually becomes pretty clear who that alternate is as we go. Right now, we’re in a position of assuming the alternate is Ragan Smith and that the nominative five remains the nominative five. We shall see.

I say this is an unsurprising team because 1) Biles, 2) McCusker has had a great summer and nailed the competition yesterday as a total lock, 3) McCallum took 3rd AA yesterday with what now looks like an essential floor score, so the fall on bars didn’t matter too much, 4) Eaker has been doing Eaker super consistently on beam, 5) Hurd didn’t have an awesome meet yesterday but didn’t fall or anything, wasn’t really on the bubble before that, and still makes a ton of sense for the team, and 6) Smith placed in the top 5 AA and ranked as the best among the “contenders.”

For the first five, yesterday’s competition really just served to confirm previous assumptions based on previous competitions. For the sixth spot, the original nominative alternate was Shilese Jones, and that looked likely to change after yesterday’s performances since she got outscored in the AA by Smith and Chiles.

I did wonder about including Smith on the team as the “current-maybe-alternate” because of injuries. She’s the most held-together-by-only-wishes of the six named to the Doha squad, and you typically want your alternate to be the healthy one who can fill in at a moment’s notice. Still, among the “other four” options, Smith definitely has the highest scoring potential and did the best yesterday. If you believe in her intact-ness, it makes sense as a decision.

If Smith continues to rise, she could supplant a member of the five, but it will be tough. The assumed five right now needs to use Hurd’s bars score (and hopefully floor score) and needs to use McCallum’s floor score, and Eaker’s beam score is astronomical, so to get a spot on the team over one of them, Smith would have to prove she has the better score than one of those people on a significant event.

Our next discussion is, who doesn’t do beam in qualification? I would have assumed McCallum, but she has been making her case for an AA chance and did so again yesterday by placing 3rd AA with a fall.

Another note: Imagine how you would have reacted to this team if you hadn’t seen Ragan Smith since nationals? If you hadn’t seen the routines or the scores from selection, and hadn’t known she placed 5th AA? This is why opening the doors to the selection camp is as good for the selection committee as it is for those of us who want to watch. It saves many headaches for everyone.

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