State of the National Teams Address

Now that the NCAA season has ended with KJ successfully verbal vogueing Oklahoma to a 4th national title…

..let us (and by us, I mean me) take a moment to get reacclimated to the world of elite gymnastics and the state of the various national teams. Because we need something to occupy the time until things get good again.

Beginning with the US because I know that’s what you’re here for.

United States

The US team gave us an unexpected gift this spring by sending nearly every healthy senior national teamer on an international assignment—like they have money again or something. That means we actually have something to go on rather than the usual prognostication using only cloud shapes and whistles. Over the last two months, we’ve seen everybody—though of course, having actual performances and results to go on has only made things more complicated rather than less.

Taking only the international assignments from 2019, here are the top scores received by each athlete on each event. (So that means the AA total is the sum of those best scores on each piece, not the highest AA score received at a single day’s competition).

Top 3 on each event are in bold.

Simone Biles 15.400 14.300 14.200 14.900 58.800
Sunisa Lee 14.200 14.700 14.150 14.333 57.383
Emma Malabuyo 14.533 13.633 14.400 14.233 56.799
Leanne Wong 14.666 14.100 14.066 13.933 56.765
Grace McCallum 14.566 14.200 13.833 13.866 56.465
Kara Eaker 14.066 14.100 14.666 12.466 55.298
Alyona Shchennikova 14.433 14.633 12.966 13.166 55.198
Morgan Hurd 14.233 14.300 12.933 13.633 55.099
Sloane Blakely 13.633 13.500 13.766 13.566 54.465
Shilese Jones 14.700 11.600 13.033 13.800 53.133
Riley McCusker 13.133 14.400 12.166 13.366 53.065
Aleah Finnegan 14.400 12.866 12.533 12.866 52.665
Gabby Perea 13.567 12.900 12.367 13.333 52.167
Jade Carey 15.066 0.000 0.000 14.600 N/A

So, we’ve got a little bit of a race on our hands.

At least so far. The US women won’t compete again for a while, but the story of June-August will be the clash between those who have been making teams so far this quad (Hurd, McCusker, McCallum, etc) and those new or newly healthy seniors (Lee, Wong, Malabuyo, etc) who have recorded some of the top numbers so far this year. It’s a deep field, and not everyone is going to worlds.

Is the idea that we’ll see the likes of Lee, Wong, and Malabuyo make the world championships team this year simply a case of new-toy syndrome? Every year of this quad has brought the “I’m not sure if Morgan Hurd has the scores to keep up a position on the team…” refrain back out, and every year she’s like, “World all-around medal hi.” Does that happen again? Or do we actually have a new normal this year?

Heads up: If you try to make the highest-scoring team of five in a 3-up, 3-count scenario using those scores above, your team is Biles, Lee, Carey, Eaker, and Shchennikova.

I know. I’m not saying that’s real life, but the fact that people like Lee and Hurd and Wong and Malabuyo can all contribute a realistic 3 events (and sometimes 4 events) in a team final makes things very tough on the rest of the club—and also opens up possibilities for those 1-eventers. If you have Biles taking 4 events and Lee taking 3-4 and Carey taking 2, you can afford a 1-eventer on the team, if not a couple.

That, in turn, sucks for whoever ends up toward the bottom of the pack of those 3-4 eventers. Case in point: Emma Malabuyo has the 3rd-best total scores in the above chart, but because of what Biles, Carey, and Lee can cover, she’s only in bold on beam despite having 3 very TF-ready scores. And if you’re bringing someone solely to cover beam, that’s Kara Eaker—not Malabuyo—despite Malabuyo’s superiority in the all-around. That’s the kind of push-and-pull we’ll be treated to this summer while trying to formulate teams.

Most important to watch: The non-Biles all-around contender with the best floor score. Once we know who that person is, we’ll know what other gaps still need to be filled on a US team. Because there are currently 11 pretty realistic options for a 5-member worlds team.

Keep in mind that this year the Pan American Games run in between US Classic and US Nationals. A team of 8 (5 + 3 alternates) will be named at the conclusion of American Classic in June, and then the 5 team members will be confirmed/named officially at the conclusion of US Classic in July. Many of the top seniors will be aiming for this team—especially those borderline worlds candidates looking for an opportunity to prove their worth—so expect even some of the bigger names to be farther along in their process/actually competing at events like American Classic (for which we still do not have a location—hey guys) to try to get those spots.


I encourage you to keep an eye on the race for team spots in China because things are about to get serious. Recently, the story for China has been trying to cobble together three non-horrifying routines on VT/FX, and that quest has almost fully determined team selection. “OK, we have to use these exact three VT/FX gymnasts, so the other two spots will go to the two gymnasts with the best combined UB/BB scores, end of conversation.”

I don’t want to pretend like that problem has gone away, but right now China’s squad enjoys the most depth we’ve seen in a solid four years, if not more, given the scores that newer athletes like Qi Qi, Li Qi, and Tang Xijing have delivered so far this year.

Just as a biographical refresher, Qi Qi’s performance at Jesolo earned her the highest vault and floor scores for China in 2019 (with an actual floor D over 5 and reliable DTY on vault). She’s making a case as the new Wang Yan, although original recipe Wang Yan is also slated to return from her break-tirement at next week’s Chinese nationals, which will be fascinating.

Li Qi is next in line as China’s new beam queen, winning Doha with a 14.333. We’ve seen her compete only beam this year, but when she burst onto the scene as a junior in 2017, it was with strong vault and floor scores in addition to beam. One of the things I’ll be looking for from her next week is whether she has those other scores back. With Fan Yilin already locked in as China’s most valuable 1-eventer, it’s going to be very difficult for anyone else to make teams with 1 event. China doesn’t have as many high-scoring 3-4 event contributors in a TF scenario as the US does.

That’s where the all-arounders come in. When you start to put together Chinese teams considering these top-scoring specialists, you have Liu Tingting, whom you absolutely want on UB/BB, and Zhang Jin, whom you can use on VT/BB/FX, and Qi Qi as your current VT/FX heir, and Fan Yilin with her huge UB, and Li Qi with her BB score—but it doesn’t work. There are too many holes on too many events, and three compete routines on almost no events. That means China will expect to have to replace some of these specialist scores with slightly lower scores from all-arounders who are more necessary because they can cover more events.

That’s potentially a role for Tang Xijing, who burst onto the scene with a pretty strong showing at Youth Olympic Games last year. She has the competitive composition on bars and beam—even if the scores aren’t always going to be huge 14s—but can also deliver something at least semi-reasonable on floor. But the de facto occupant of that all-around position is still last year’s star Chen Yile. We haven’t seen Chen yet in 2019, so she will need to use her performance at Chinese nationals to reassert herself and prove that she is still the most compelling of the “I can cover at least 3 events” options.

Nationals will also be a critical benchmark for someone else we haven’t seen yet in 2019, Luo Huan. Luo typically performs quite well at nationals, and she’ll need to again this year because she may be in danger of getting pushed out of the first tier. Luo’s best piece is bars, but it’s China and bars, and if you have Fan YL and Liu TT and Chen YL and Tang XJ, Luo might be seen as simply extra there. Luo also valiantly filled in on vault and floor in the worlds team final last year, but that was sort of a “we have literally no other choice” situation, and with someone like Qi Qi providing more depth this year, that kind of fill-in routine becomes less necessary.

To mimic what I did with the US, here’s the scoring chart for China’s senior performances on international assignments this year.

Liu Tingting 13.567 14.500 14.967 12.867 55.901
Tang Xijing 13.800 14.350 13.267 12.900 54.317
Zhang Jin 13.867 12.733 14.050 13.450 54.100
Liu Jingxing 13.367 13.667 13.600 13.000 53.634
Qi Qi 14.500 12.733 12.033 13.550 52.816
Liu Yufei 13.233 13.300 12.566 12.600 51.699
Liu Jieyu 13.033 11.666 12.200 12.700 49.599
Zhao Shiting 0.000 0.000 13.566 12.766 N/A
Fan Yilin 0.000 14.933 0.000 0.000 N/A
Lyu Jiaqi 0.000 14.366 0.000 0.000 N/A
Li Qi 0.000 0.000 14.333 0.000 N/A
Yu Linmin 14.233 0.000 0.000 0.000 N/A


How do you solve a problem like Angelina Simakova? That’s issue #1 (and also issues #2-#10) for Russia in 2019, because if you were to take the performances Simakova put together to win the all-around championship at Russian nationals as the expectation, then you could start to put together a fairly straightforward squad for Russia that fulfills the necessary requirements on each event.

It would allow for using vital routines like Paseka’s vault (which is going to provide a solid 0.8-1.0 over a replacement option) and Iliankova’s bars (which is going to provide a solid 0.7 over a replacement option), because the trio of Melnikova, Mustafina, and Simakova would suffice for all the other routines in a team final. Like so.

Angelina Simakova X X
Angelina Melnikova X X X X
Aliya Mustafina X X X X
Maria Paseka X
Anastasia Iliankova X

If, however, you have even the slightest worry that Angelina Simakova will score a 10 on floor again like she did at Euros, then this team is absolutely non-viable because there’s no backup floor routine. There’s not even a qualification floor routine to begin with.

And if you can’t use Simakova on floor, then things get really messy. You wouldn’t mind Akhaimova for vault and floor like at worlds last year, but Akhaimova can’t contribute UB or BB, so who would she even replace in this team of five? Simakova? And then Iliankova has to do beam, where she hasn’t competed in 2019 and hasn’t broken 13 in over a year? Or does she replace Iliankova, and you lose those critical tenths on bars? No ideal solution.

Based on scores from international assignment in 2019, the best replacement choice for Simakova on beam and floor would be Zubova, which is the best possible illustration of how messy this would get without a reliable Simakova. I’m presenting the notion of Varvara Zubova for a beam and floor hit at worlds.

That’s why it is so essential, despite Simakova’s recent inconsistency, that Russia not play the old throw-her-on-the-scrap-heap game. They need to find a way to get her hitting because she presents necessary scores on the exact events Russia needs right now.

If Simakova is not hitting come this fall, you kind of have to start blowing things up and might not be able to bring all the ideal routines in the other four team spots. You start saying, “OK, you could bring Akhaimova for floor, and then you could bring Klimenko for bars instead of Iliankova because even though you drop some tenths on bars and an EF medal possibility, she might give you a beam score…” And we don’t want to play that game.


The All-Japan Championships just concluded, where the big news for the women was less in the emergence of new characters and more in Asuka Teramoto upsetting Mai Murakami for the all-around title.

In terms of Japanese team scenarios, Teramoto and Murakami are both as locked as a lock could ever lock. Japan desperately needs both of them, and both are very realistic options to contribute the all-around in a team final scenario—as they did last year along with Hitomi Hatakeda. Hatakeda has a necessary bars score for Japan right now, and is pretty much as likely as any of the other contenders (if not more likely) to hit 13 on beam and floor, so her position continues looking pretty solid.

What I’d like to see from Japan as we move through 2019 is a little more risk or experimentation in team selection. Japan tends to be very conservative in picking its squads for major meets, sort of just going with the next best all-arounders and the people we’ve seen before. It resulted in an inefficient use of team spots at worlds last year in that 2 of the 5 members didn’t compete any routines in the team final (Aiko Sugihara was not able to compete the entire meet and was not replaced in the five).

That meant Japan had to use Hitomi Hatakeda’s 1.5 on vault despite having DTYs who’ve barely had an international assignment before sitting at home. Instead, they brought Nagi Kajita to worlds, who has a bit more difficulty on bars than the main group but is not necessarily consistent or clean enough to outscore the “just get through with a solid hit” routine from Murakami. Kajita ultimately sat for the team final.

That’s why I say more can be done with those remaining positions. At All-Japans, Akari Matsumura placed 3rd on vault with a DTY, just ahead of Kiko Kuwajima (the one who got that huge beam score at the 2018 WOGA Classic) also with a DTY—and a 5.8 BB and 5.4 FX. I’d hope Japan would use this year to send out someone like that who can pump up the team score, even if just on one event. We’ve also seen Mana Oguchi perform well on beam at world cups, and new senior Azuki Kokufugata received a huge floor score at Gymnix this year, so it will be worth watching whether Japan decides to break out of the bubble this year or just go with the typical group of all-arounders again.


I want to include Brazil in this post because Brazil really should be considered a team on the level of these other contenders, though there’s not a ton to break down in terms of the Brazilian team right now because there isn’t as much parity among the senior options. You have a pretty clear group that’s better than the rest of them.

That default team right now is Andrade, Saraiva, Barbosa, Fidelis, and Oliveira, and while we’ve seen athletes like Carolyne Pedro get opportunities this year, I don’t really anticipate the scores from those second-tier gymnasts breaking into the default group. Daniele Hypolito will be a contender until the end of time, but she has an uphill climb in that she’s not going to be able to contribute the bars score that this default team most sorely needs (why Oliveira is a more likely team member—she has a possible bars score so that Saraiva doesn’t have to go). Hypolito would therefore have to prove more necessary and reliable on beam and floor than Fidelis, which is not easy to do.


What the performances of Ellie Black and Ana Padurariu have done this year is provide Canada the opportunity to be very discerning in its use of specialists to round out a team.

Of course, you’re always happy to use Ellie Black on all four pieces in a team final, and you need Ana Padurariu on bars and beam at minimum, but Padurariu also has the highest floor score among all Canadians in 2019. That’s the biggest development so far this year, and we’ll have to watch and see if it upsets the floor picture for team selection as we go through the next 5 months. Because there are some options. Canada still absolutely needs vaults, so Shallon Olsen remains a necessity on any major team. But Brooklyn Moors really should outscore that Olsen floor routine by enough to remain a necessary contributor for that event. They both have big tumbling, but if Moors isn’t outscoring Olsen by 5 tenths on floor as she did at worlds last year, then something is wrong.

But will Canada feel that including Black, Padurariu, Olsen, and Moors is overloading floor too much—to the detriment of other events? That (and with an eye toward a four-member team 2020) is a reason Moors must keep developing those other pieces, so that she’s more than just a floor routine it would be nice to have.

Moors provided an important beam set at worlds last year, which absolutely helps her—or has Dana Duckworth turned Shallon Olsen into enough of a beamer now that she can cover that position as well? For this year’s purposes, Canada still needs a third vault and a third bars routine. The bars issue is the most pressing, but I’m not sure the mythical bars specialist who can round out the team with a 14 on bars…exists. She didn’t exist last year, which is why Canada selected Sophie Marois’s vault to fill out the worlds team and just threw up Brooklyn Moors on bars because someone had to do it.

Canada could go with the same strategy again (and actually the exact same team wouldn’t be weird at all), but if Canada decides that it needs Marois as a third vault, and someone else as a third bars routine, does that shove out a member of the presumed four? Or is it not worth it?

Canadian nationals are coming up in about three weeks, and I’ll be watching whether vaults and bars routines emerge that make enough sense to elbow their way into the picture.

55 thoughts on “State of the National Teams Address”

  1. Is Isabela Onyshko still a person and can she still be a good on bars because if yes then problem solved for Canada, no?

    1. Onyshko is still a person but she didn’t look great at Elite Canada. We’ll see how far along she has come by Canadian Nationals.

      Canada’s need for people on bars and vault has me thinking there is the perfect person to fill those holes, but she appears to be kinda-sorta-retired even though there hasn’t been a retirement announcement and that’s Brittany Rogers.

  2. Yeap, US has the same “we have too depth of a national team” problem every single year..they really could have 2 medal worthy team…maybe we should apply the 2 per country rule also to TF……lol..

    I pretty much see Biles, next 2 best AAers, Carey, and a specialist (Eaker could seal the deal here with a consistent DTY and slightly upgraded bars or fx since there’s not really any real US bars world medal type routine currently)

    while we are still talking about skinner, she would pretty much be competing directly against carey for the same position for 2019 worlds. at this point, i am leaning more toward carey just because skinner has been out for so long and probably will need a fair amount of time to get back all her elite routine….

    1. Is Ragan Smith still a person? I thought back in November she signed with OU with the intention of deferring until after the 2020 Olympics, but with her injured ankle and all the depth is it even worth it for her to continue to pursue elite anymore?

      Anyone have any updates on Ragan’s progress injury-wise?

      1. I think she’s in a boot (again) right now so I’m assuming she’s doing limited numbers at most.

    2. I think, as far as specialists go, Riley McCusker might be a contender. We know she’s a very strong AAer when she hits, but what you really want her on a team for is UB and BB (plus, having her as backup on FX and VT is sure handy). Gabby Perea is also kind of a wildcard for that role. Otherwise, agree that Eaker nabs the spot for BB, especially given that she has a strong AA developing – she would have scored well into the 56s at Gymnix without a weird fall on FX at the last minute.

      Jade Carey continues to really do herself a favor by performing two competitive vaults. No one else in the field in the US is really doing that right now, except Simone. Skinner would be Jade’s only competition there for a Worlds team. Carey is also markedly stronger than the rest of the pack (again, except for Simone) on FX, but will need to continue to push herself to stay ahead of people like Wong and Lee there.

      1. The team could definitely be biles, mccusker ,hurd, eaker, carey…

        The thing though is that leeanne wong could definite challenge hurd or mccusker if she can keep up that AC score… Hence why i said next 2 best AAers.

      2. @ WP, for sure. wong and lee (among others) clearly have the goods to challenge for the AA spots.

        hurd’s edge, IMO, is her grit and her ability to peak at just the right moment. unlike new/newish seniors like lee, wong, and malabuyo, she has nothing to prove right now. i’m sure she will reenter the conversation around nationals, as usual…

      3. For ease of conversation and to save typing characters let us ALWAYS just place Simone Biles at the Chosen One and that the US Olympic team in 2020 only has room for THREE gymnasts, plus the 1-2 individuals spots.

        The choices for those three positions in 2020, and the four spots on the World Championship team in 2019 will be interesting – does USAG go with a younger team of gymnasts who have rarely competed at the senior level, or do they go with older more veteran seniors who are hanging around before college?

        Usually the gymnasts selected for the Pan Am Games team are the ones who can pretty much count on NOT going to the Olympics the following year – there are rare exceptions but the norm is this is your biggest competition before elite retirement, have fun. But this year USAG could use the Pan Ams to give younger gymnasts international experience and see how they do in the lead up to the Olympics. For the first time in a while (2008 maybe) the members who need to be selected for the Olympic team aren’t obvious a year or so in advance.

    3. Yeah, the US is so stacked, they don’t have the same issues as other countries in forming the 5-man team. I support the 2 per country TF 🙂 (and maybe also 3 per country in all-around, haha)

      Based on current 2019 scores, I would go: Biles, Carey, Eaker, Wong and Lee.
      Of course there’s some time between now and August, upgrades, consistency, the fact that Morgan was some months post surgery, are factors that will shake things up.
      Personally, I think Jade Carey’s AA potential could be a major factor. If she can manage around 27.0 between bars and beam ( keeping her current vault/floor constant), I’d say that’s a solid AA contributor to the team. So it could be Simone, Jade, next AA, two specialists (which would be bars/beam anyway because Biles/Carey on vault/floor).

      Regardless, it’s going to be interesting leading up to worlds. I’m just going to enjoy the process.

      1. This is such an exciting field. Jade is an interesting option in the AA, and I think she should continue to UB/BB, but primarily to boost her value as a specialist. in other words, she’s an even more appealing option for a team when she can offer medal-worthy routines on fx and vt PLUS a decent backup routine on at least one other event (bb, in her case). for me, jade is like the “power gymnast” answer to mccusker – inherently a specialist, but with a viable AA set.

      2. The way the US has been putting emphasis everyone even “specialists” is trying to do as many events as they can which allows them to avoid all these problems thats facing china and RU…

        Ots about time paseka picks up bars again while retrain her cheng…lol.. 🙂

      3. AA finals used to be 36 athletes with 3 per country rule. I fully endorse a return to this system. It allows space for even more diversity.

      4. Fig should go back to 36 and 3 per wotlds… They can do anything they want at worlds anyway… I mean i understand you can force the olympics committee but dont see why they cant make it happen at worlds after we see the 4 way tie for gold in bars in 15…lol

  3. I love (and by love I mean hate) how Brittany Rogers disappeared the minute her strengths were needed to fill out major teams. I kind of though Emma Spence would’ve been able to fit the vault/bars piece once she became senior but she doesn’t look competitive on those events right now. Right now the remaining four spots on the US team, the final spot on the Canadian team and the three spots other than Mustafina/Melnikova for Russia is looking very interesting. For Canada I’m wondering whether Olsen might be able to put up the 13+ beam score that they would love to have. They ended up putting her up at worlds to hover around a mid 12 and that was before she made major form improvements during NCAA. Then again doing a clean set in college is much different than replicating it in elite.

  4. I know her D score was laughably low but I just wanna say I really liked Luo Huan’s FX at World’s last year and thought her E scores were way too low throughout the competition.

  5. Don´t forget about France! IMO, they´re (roughly) on the same level as Brazil, Canada and Japan
    Their obvious team is DJDS, Charpy, Boyer, Bossu, and Devillard
    VT: Boyer, DJDS, Devillard
    UB: Charpy, DJDS, Bossu
    BB: Charpy, Boyer, DJDS
    FX: Charpy, Boyer, DJDS

    BUT; Bossu´s spot (bars specialist) could be snatched by the likes of Celia Serber or Carolann Heduit. Bossu will have to be at the top of her game this year, because the other two could at least add depth to the fragile French team.

    1. The French team gets really interesting when you try to pare it down to 4. Agree that your lineup above is pretty much the team right now, and the obvious person to drop for 2020 is one of the specialists. But if you drop Bossu, you’re left with an opening for a good UB routine, and if you drop Devillard, who are you going to put on VT? IMO Devillard offers more to the team because VT scores run so high (she also seems to be developing an OK FX routine), but then you have to put Boyer up on UB. And that doesn’t account for whether or not Serber or Heduit might put together a strong AA set by 2020… IMO that could genuinely threaten Boyer’s spot, as she is not a true AA-er in the way DJDS and Charpy are…

      1. Yeah, I agree with you. France has one true all arounder in Melanie, two good three-eventers in Charpy and Boyer, a bag of specialists, and two promising newcomers with little to offer at this time. I think that with her improved floor set, and her potential DTY (she had it in 2016), Boyer is fairly close to a lock for Tokyo. She is too valuable on her three events to be left behind. Charpy is also too good on UB and BB to be left behind, and she could also be the third vaulter/floorer if necessary. With these three, it looks like VT: Boyer, Charpy?, DJDS UB: ?, Charpy, DJDS BB: Charpy, Boyer, DJDS FX: Charpy?, Boyer, DJDS
        With this the only obvious hole is on bars, where Cerber/Heduit could fill in with some time. In addition, they could improve on the other events, and fill in anywhere if needed.
        It sucks for Bossu and Devillard… Obviously they aren´t 100% out, but they need a second event to be considered, IMO.

      2. I agree with all of this, though it seems that they have been laying the groundwork for a Boyer/Charpy/DJDS/Devillard team for Tokyo (which I’d love to see, if only for sentimental reasons – their team ugly cry at Euros for Melanie was adorable). We’ve now seen Devillard compete FX and could genuinely contribute on that event in the first spot if they continue to develop her there. In which case you’d have:

        VT – Boyer, DJDS, Devillard
        UB – Boyer, Charpy, DJDS
        BB – Charpy, DJDS, Boyer
        FX – Devillard, Boyer, DJDS

        This would be a LEGIT VT/BB team if Boyer can bring back her DTY. It would be even more perfect if the stupid four-person rule would just go away – imagine adding someone like Bossu as a UB specialist to this team…

    2. Galaxy brain: Louise Vanhille upgrades her FTY and makes the Olympic team to do VT/UB in TF and the other two in QF

      I’d honestly take even a 1.5 from her over having either Devillard or Bossu on the team and not have 4 routines on an event in QF

  6. Also honestly that Russia team SHOULD be blown up. A repeat of the 2016 team is absolutely irresponsible. They can’t just put Paseka and Current Bars-Only-Ova on the same team and just leave the beam and floor lineups to rot again. This time they should expect to be able to make up the tenths of one of those two on the other events. In particular, I love Ilyankova but I don’t see why the team gives her a spot if Eremina becomes a thing again by worlds. At full strength, she is their actual best AAer.

    1. I think Melnikova is significantly better than Eremina at full strength but agree with everything else. I hope both her and Nabieva can make it back to an elite-competitive level somehow and mess with the team makeups.

      Is it injuries that prevents Paseka from training the other 3? I’ve seen her do reasonable FX and UB before, but no BB since she was a junior. Seems like even if she is the worst beamer in the world Russia should still insist that she train a backup routine.

      1. As far as I know, Paseka has not trained BB ever as a senior. Injuries have put FX out of her reach most of the time, but right now she is trying to get UB back. If she gets UB back, then it’s another reason to not add a bars-only gymnast – you can use Paseka in UB and then focus on beefing up BB/FX.

        If we assume a 2017 level Eremina and Paseka having usable UB, this leaves us with:

        VT: (Eremina) Mustafina, Melnikova, Paseka
        UB: (Paseka) Melnikova, Mustafina, Eremina
        BB: Melnikova, Eremina, Mustafina + someone
        FX: Mustafina, Eremina, Melnikova + someone

        An unbroken Simakova makes this a brilliant team, but failing that, this team has the luxury of experimenting with a bunch of BB/FX people because it has four VTs, four UBs, and even those BB/FX lineups as is are not the end of the world.

        The ideal scenario for Russia isn’t fixing Simakova, as Spencer said: by far, it’s getting Eremina back.

      2. Next year they’ll like their chances by having Urazova become a senior. Lauren described Urazova/Listunova as the new Mustafina/Komova duo and I really hope that they are minus the constant injury/interim retirements of Komova. If they can get Eremina close to a 2017 level in terms of the olympics they could have:
        Main Team: Eremina, Urazova, Mustafina, Menikova
        Individuals: Paseka, and then Klimenko/Iliankova/Spridonova/whichever of their primarily bars only gymnasts are best.

      3. Paseka had heel injuries that prevented her from training beam. She is training bars and floor and hopes to compete on these events but we don’t know when this will happen

      4. It seems so weird that you could have heel injuries that prevent you from training beam for your entire, lengthy senior career, yet your back injuries that required surgery and a metal rod implant don’t keep you from vault, bars, or floor…

        Of course I don’t actually know anything about Paseka’s situation and a Russian actively trying to avoid injury is something I support. But it does seem confusing!

      5. What about aleexeva? Is she still not a person as an AA that they could use more than 1 event? I mean she might not be the highest score in any single event but she is a usable AA that can put in ok score and provide backup on evrything?

      6. Paseka might get a good bars set back, she was great last she competed. But the real question – what about her inbars 😛

      7. @WP: Alexeeva sashayed away from Russia and is possibly preparing herself for NCAA? Does anyone know if she committed to any school already?

        If she was around, she’d be on the same boat as Klimenko, and I would consider taking either if the team needs her to have four routines on each event. Russia (and China) absolutely needs to stop building teams with no backups. Last year both countries saw their sand castles crumble and they had to put up FTYs and weak FXs in TF and were frankly very very very lucky mistakes from other countries meant both of them still medalled. Those lineups definitely didn’t earn it.

  7. Great summary! I’m curious how you come up with the best team of 5 for your National Team Rankings. Does it involve coding?

      1. I have the same spreadsheet you do except I have mine set to color code the top three on each even. Your page is so awesome and I enjoy hearing everyone’s input and thoughts beyond just team USA ! Your analysis is always spot on and so well thought out.

  8. Very 2012-esque situation with the U.S. team imo, with regards to the push-and-pull situation. Personally still bitter Sarah Finnegan didn’t fit into that team.
    I’m curious who the Maroney of this year will end up being, though. Is vault still the most advantageous event to bring a one-eventer on?

    It’s such a back and forth. You want everyone to do the all around because teams are so small this quad, right? So everyone works to be good all around; you’re never going to make it for just one or two events!! And then you end up with this exact situation where you’re pressed for standout scores on an event or two because you have so many okay ones.

    1. You mean for Tokyo or for worlds? I’m confused.

      I would say someone who can do an Amanar well has a leg up on any team because Vault is so loosely judged, it all comes down to difficulty. On other events, you could have more difficulty but the judges actually deduct things, so difficulty doesn’t automatically lead to the score. On vault, as long as you don’t fall, your D score is a good predictor of your final score relative to the field.

    2. I am not sure if you can call jade or even skinner a “maroney”. None of them are so boosted only by vt only like maroney. Maroney was an AA but much stronger relatively in vt even much more so over her fx… Carey and skinner vt are more even relative to their fx routines which are definitely team final worthy whether as maroney fx was only going to be used for qual..

  9. GB is in an interesting situation too with a lot of strong floor workers (Ellie Downie, Tinkler, Fragapane, Simm, James, Kinsella) and then a lot of bars/beamers (Becky Downie, GM Fenton). Vault could be a real problem and probably the deciding factor for who makes that four person team come 2020. I feel like the Tinkler v Fragapane showdown will be something to watch next year, provided they’re both healed up and competing at their best.

    1. GB really struggles with the four-person format, because while they have four good AAers in E. Downie, Kinsella, Simm and Morgan, some of their best gymnasts are event specialists. I think at the moment GB has three options for Olympic team composition: four AAers (E. Downie, Kinsella, Morgan, Simm), three AAers plus a specialist (E. Downie, Kinsella, Morgan/Simm, B. Downie/Fragapane/Tinkler), or two AAers and two specialists (E. Downie, Kinsella/Morgan/Simm, B. Downie, Fragapane/Tinkler).

      Given the current selection pool, I’d go with option C, and tell your specialists to train as many events as possible.

      1. At least with Tinkler and Fragapane in Option C, they are still good AA gymnasts even if they do have their better events. Same with bringing someone like Fenton. Unfortunately, as much as I love her, Becky Downie is dangerous on a four person team since she doesn’t even train the other two events.

    1. This basically kills any chance of MyKayla Skinner getting an individual spot by world cups now if Carey found a way to keep going to cups. Now Skinner needs to obtain her right to go to cups and go to Melbourne and beat Carey in both VT AND FX. All this year. Won’t happen. Skinner better start seriously training bars and beam now.

      1. i kinda think that was skinner plan to do AA and go for one of the 4 AAer team spot anyway. I mean i can’t see how she and spini could’ve planned her comeback any other way. Planning for the individual nonnominative or nominative would just be complete waste of time.

        We have seen what brenna dowell did so i won’t just dismiss skinner right away at all even if the odd against her….

    2. Yeah I wouldn’t assume Skinner is trying to go as a specialist. In fact, I think she makes much more sense trying to go for the team. She finished fourth AA at Trials in 2016 and with Carey’s VT and FX not a factor for the team, MyKayla is the only other athlete capable of Carey-esque difficulty on those TWO events (notwithstanding any potential Amanars). If Simone and someone like Lee did all 4 events in team finals, we could put Skinner on VT and FX and someone else on UB and BB without sacrificing too much of anything in qualifications. The question is less about whether Skinner can contribute and more about what skill level she’ll be able to get back to by next summer. If she’s at 2016 level or better, she makes a lot of sense. She’d add around a point on vault and she’d be capable of a 14+ score on floor.

      1. Plus acting as another back up for fx and vt medals should any of the other two by any small chance messed up….lol….pretty much to guarantee US 2 medals in fx and vt….

        Good to have someone also do an amanar. We need to get back to having 3 strong vts above dty again! United States of Amanars!

      2. Nope. She is training all 4. Saw her training bars on her instagram.

  10. I have said this 2 years in a row, so I’ll probably be wrong again, but I really don’t see Morgan Hurd fitting on the world team. Her biggest argument for making the team are her 2 world AA medals and her proven consistency and peaking when it counts the most. However, because the US is more stacked than ever, I think even peak Morgan won’t be enough to justify her a spot…

    I know this is an overused sentiment, but the US could legitimately bring two worlds teams that would easily place 1st and 2nd. The depth is incredible.

    1. Eh, I wouldn’t be shocked either way. I couldn’t even tell what “peak Morgan” was until well after nationals the past two years.

    2. I wish Morgan would focus on bars. I hope she doesn’t do something dumb and train an amanar and get injured she doesn’t need it. IMO her greatest strength against several of the others is bars if she could just pull a few more tenths out. Her weakness is beam unfortunately that’s what holds her back so I think she has to capitalize her strength on bars so she can take her spot from McCusker actually

    3. If by depth you mean the legit fact this is the worst quad in years, feels like the year after the Olympics and not 1 year before the games. Worst quad in years, that everyone is so double pike next to each other and you call it depth? lmao sure sis!. Its not just Americans. There are a few shining lights, but lets be real, this depth is everyone is pretty much at the same mediocre level. Everywhere. Smh! A few shining lights, but this quad, with its yurchenko fulls, its compulsory dismounts, its double twist winning beam dismount at worlds, essentially all the same bar routines, its a lame quad and you know it! No one is doing anything innovative at all. Sheep!

  11. If for some reason Simone focus on only AA at nationals only doing 1 vault. (If) skinner wins vault at nationals beating out jade. Can she petition for the world cup spots. Or is the spot only lock up for Jade.
    2) is Usag rules for qualifing roll over to the next yr meaning once a gymnast qualify, she is qualified for the entire squad or is it renew every yr so other gymnast get a chance.

  12. Brazil is better than China and Russia nowadays, and Rebeca Andrade may get a silver medal in October. I think that just Biles can beat her.

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