The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

US Nationals – Senior Women Day 1 Live Blog

7:00pm CT
NBCSN stream
International feed

If you’re looking at that start list and already getting heart palpitations about the routines you know won’t be shown on the broadcast even though they should be, then yes.

In the first rotation, of course we’ll have Simone Andromedon Biles likely unveiling the triple double opening pass. “And that right there. If she does that…what we call a skill…if she does that skill…just like that…at the world championships…that will become the Biles.”

But, we’ll also have some critical beam routines opening up that rotation as Wong and Lee try to make world championships cases. It’s tough to get into a beam picture with Biles, Eaker, McCusker, but you’ve got to start somewhere. We’ve also got a big moment for Skinner showing this floor routine. If it’s not vaguely close to 14ish, it will be a tough argument. The US has lots of high 13s on floor.

Tom Forster has said that the members of the Pan Ams team automatically get invites to the world selection camp, which makes sense and takes a little bit of the pressure off their performances here, but just how many people will be getting invites to that camp remains unclear. You can make a good argument for all but about three members of the field, which should keep things extra interesting. Which, I mean, go full Hufflepuff and take everyone and treat them just the same? But that seems unlikely.

Only one today who isn’t doing the AA (at least so far) is Blakely, who looks like she’s not doing bars per the live scores.

Ooh. Starting with a shot of Tokyo. NBC is already POPPING OFF.

Simone plans on being even better than ever. As opposed to planning on getting worse. As people do.

Well, it’s not a polo shirt. Nastia is currently molting.

Tim is promising TWO MORE NEW BILES tonight.

Cecile is more nervous than Simone, Jordan, and Trinity combined.


We’re at 4 minutes of the Simone standing cam.

Rotation 1

Word from the arena is that Simone’s triple double has been given a provisional J rating.

Wong – BB – switch to straddle, gorgeous – bhs loso loso series, very solid – L turn to full turn, fairly smooth – switch leap – aerial to split ring jump to wolf – split ring position isn’t ideal but otherwise great – side aerial with a LARGE break, bend at the hips and leg up – side somi – 3/1, mostly around, hop to the side, some legs.

One large error in there, a number of skills that were perfect as well.

Hurd – VT – solid DTY, got her twist around – good direction – bounce back

14.450 for Hurd. Useful score.

McCallum – VT – Jack of Diamonds leo – also hits her DTY, good form, loses the legs a little at the end  – not as much distance as Hurd – hop to the side. Good. 14.700.

13.950 for Wong on beam.

Chiles – FX – Dad Jokes Express hasn’t pointed out that Chiles and Biles rhyme yet, and I don’t really know what to do with that – wolf turn double – DLO, very good, chest up, just a little hop – front 2/1 to front lay, basically nailed landing – switch ring – switch side 1/2, probably credit? – 1.5 through to double tuck, bounce back – split jump 1.5, abbreviated – double pike, just a bit chest down, small slide back.

Definite improvement over Classic. Nice routine.

13.750 for Chiles. Not huge but it works and a really nice E score for her there.

14.350 for Lee on beam which we didn’t see. That works.

McCusker – BB – wolf turn triple, good, wolf turn double, almost as solid – “and really she had the gold medal” at Pan Ams, except she didn’t? – lovely leap combination as usual – bhs bhs layout, leg-up check but saves it – switch to switch 1/2 to Korbut, pretty nice rhythm in connection – side aerial, no trouble – bhs bhs double tuck, hop back. One large break, got most of her combinations, will be a big score.

I notice that we’re not seeing Trinity Thomas on floor… But, you know, she did the Biles.

14.500 for McCusker with 6.0, so she didn’t get her full difficulty, but a hit score that will be among the highest.

13.750 for Thomas on floor, same as Chiles.


Biles – FX – hands down on the triple double – someone’s going to do some anger floor – Biles to stag, great Biles, a little meh on the stag, was not really feeling that stag – double wolf turn, no issue – front full to full in, just a little hop – switch to split leap 1.5, which was a little under today, so may not get credit – double double tucked, small slide.

“I’m just pissed off already.” SAME SIMONE.

Also, not be lost in Simone falling on the triple double, that fall was hilarious looking.

The thing about Simone falling on the triple double is that it doesn’t…matter? Interesting if we see it again, though

Skinner – FX – Moors, solid landing, small slide – definite pike and some knees – front tuck through to full in, good control small step – L hop full to swtich 1/1, not around so probably credit as switch 1/2 there – double double tucked, chest well down but under control on the landing – split leap 1.5, short of 180, maybe around – double L turn – 2.5, secure landing, small hop. Big improvement there but the E score will probably be in the 7s.

14.350 for Biles will still be among the highest scores of the day.

Didn’t see Carey on beam, 13.500, which looks like a hit.

Skinner just does get into the 8s in E score with 8.000. I thought it would be high 7s. 13.700, so lower than Thomas and Chiles. She’d also have hoped for higher D than 5.7, but I had some leap downgrades in there.

I think she lost 4 tenths on dance element downgrades versus her intended routine? Will have to go back and look at that.

They’re making Andrea Joyce do a piece about the Congressional report, like she’s a journalist.

Interesting that we’ve done this piece instead of Eaker’s beam, but it did not go great. 13.750 for Eaker.

OK, I know she’s the star and we’ll all obsessed, but the Simone Cam is getting a little excessive. Like, let the girl pee or whatever.

Rotation 2

Hurd – UB – shap to stalder full to tkatchev – good – one short hs – Ricna to Pak, very clean – stalder shoot, nice – toe 1/2 to front giant 1/2 toe full to FTDT with a college stick salute, but a very clean routine. Nice.

“Kyla Williams.” It’s Kayla. And also is she? I thought that was just temporary for Pan Ams, and then it was going to be…….Anna Li? Oopsie?

14.400 for Hurd.

Once again NBC is kind of just deciding to ignore the individual spots qualification for the Olympics.

Big 14.750 for Chiles on vault.

13.950 for Lee on floor. “Sunisa Lee doesn’t exist” is an interesting decision.

McCusker – FX – full-in struggles on the landing, a bounce-0stagger back and OOB – front 2/1 sequence is a little slow in connection but nice individual skills – double pike, bounce back – wolf triple, slow but around – switch ring and switch full, I’d say credit for the switch full this time – double tuck, a bit rough on the landing with a bounce back.

Stuck bars dismount for McCallum

Biles – VT – Cheng – she’s not quite on today – huge bounce back out of that vault – gorgeous in the air of course, but she bounced back so far she almost went off the mat. Still 15.300. A bit of Simone bonus there, but little to take in the air if anything

Didn’t see the full routine for McCallum, but just a 13.500 there.

Biles – VT 2 – Amanar – pace forward, a little larger pace than she would like but mostly her normal.

Just 13.250 for McCusker on floor. These standings today are going to be…interesting.

Skinner – VT 1 -She pulls out the Amanar after not doing it in PT – step to the side and a lot of twisting onto the table – to the point where it’s very similar to her Cheng but with two hands

14.650 for first vault.

Skinner – VT 2 – Cheng – lands it successfully with a bounce back – quite a bit of piking – anyone else think the little logo on the bottom of her leo was a Georgia logo for a second and were like…uh? – we didn’t get a replay of the block, but it was a Skimmer.

We never got a score for that, right?

Carey – FX – Moors, pretty nice, hop back, some knees and position but a bit more laid out than Skinner’s – popa, a bit bouncy – DLO 1/1, nearly stuck, small slide, same piking – L hop full – switch leap 1/1, short of 180 – double double tuck, small hop – front tuck through to full in -oooooh she landed it but it got very low there with a lunge forward

14.300 and Tim thinks it’s harsh? 8.000 E score, same as Skinner, have to take into account potential background music deductions.

“Kara Acre” it’s a thing now.

Eaker – FX – front lay to front 2/1, little hop – 3/1, loverly in the air, small hop – Memmel to full turn, she’s so consistent getting that turn around – 2.5 to front full, another small hop but not a lot to take there – actually struggled in a split leap full most of all, a little crooked and hoppy on the landing – I’m bothered by this crease in the floor – double pike, a bit deep and a bounce back – switch ring 1/2 is…a switch ring 1/2

13.650. They’re complaining about the E but it’s one of the highest E scores of the day, so that’s the standard. And she had that weird leap.

Armine just doing some floor routines on the side

Wong – FX – Dos Santos to stag is very strong – 3/1 and did not do the 3.5 but hopped out kind of like she was expecting to do a 3.5 – switch ring to L hop 1/1 – 2.5 to layout, whips over her layout but solid landing – popa – drops a little in the heel on double L but sells it OK – 3/1, hop back. That’s going to be a problem because it’s a repeated skill.

Tim thought that Wong was going to adjust mid routine and do a 2/1 final pass? You know GAGE gymnasts are instructed not to think!

See: Nastia thinking it was weird that Yul Moldauer would have different routine options. The US women’s program has a problem in that regard.

We’re still talking about Ohashi’s floor? Also, this was not the video that went viral.

Andrea is interviewing Miss Val. ASK HER ABOUT MARIA CAIRE. And I like how she’s pretending she cares about this meet.

So anyway, that was a thing.

After 2:
1) Biles – 29.650
2) Hurd – 28..850
3) Chiles – 28.500
4) Skinner – 28.350
5) Lee – 28.300

You know, like the standings you had? We have Eaker way down in 11th and McCusker in 9th and Wong in 14th. SO YEAH.

Rotation 3

McCusker – VT – DTY – one of her better ones, small hop forward – crossed feet in the air and a pike down, so won’t be the highest E score, and not the distance of some others. Tim and Nastia are more into this vault than I am.

14.450 is a little high for me. Tim thinks it’s low.

We’re just ignoring Trinity completely, which is cool. 14.200 on bars.

Biles – UB – Weiler 1/2 – cast pretty short – Shap to Tkatchev – toe full to pike tkatchev tp Pak, cleanly done – toe Shap 1/2, solid – some short handstands – Double double, lands it with her chest well down, small hop.

She’s going to tell us that she’s competing at 1% of her ability tonight?

Can Simone just be on mic for the whole meet?

14.050 for Biles.

Skinner – UB – Hesitation in Weiler 1/2 with a bend at the elbows but does it – Toe shap to tkatchev with some crazy legs – Ray to pak, legs apart – arch in cast hs – Shap 1/2 with legs – giant full – FTDT is solid, small hop. The form has completely gone with the upgrades, but she hit it.

Carey – VT 1 – pretty solid Cheng for her – small hop back and some piking and crazy legs on the block but good direction


Just 13.050 for McCallum on beam. Not her day so far either.

Carey – VT 2 – solid Amanar as well, crossover lunge forward and some knees but that’s one of her best series of vaults we’ve seen.

13.000 for Skinner on bars, which is a win for her. It’s quite high for me. Only a half point lower than Simone’s E score.

Chiles – UB – piked tkatchev – tkatchev to Gienger, smooth – missing some hs – piked Jaeger, hit – bail, a bit too floppy there – giant full to FTDT, hop back. My NCAA brain wasn’t happy with the cast handstands, but a strong routine.

13.650 for Eaker’s 1.5 on VT, with the two tenth domestic deduction just CUZ FUN HEY.

13.550 on bars for Chiles.

Wong gets 14.700 on her DTY, which will bring her score up. She’s now tied with Skinner.

Lee – VT – She had two solid scores to start, but this will be the clincher – DTY, she landed it – it’s totally crunched over with a lunge back, but she got it – better than some of the ones we saw in PT.

Morgan Hurd was one of just “three gymnasts chosen” for All Around.

Hurd – BB – back full, solid, nailed it – side aerial, nicely done – bhs loso, very floaty, smoothly done – aerial to split ring jump, good position – switch to straddle to split, well connected and pretty – small check on full turn, her first balance check – switch ring, check, not too big – double pike, hop back. Really good. She’s having a strong day.

After 3 events

1) Biles – 43.700
2) Hurd – 43.000
3) Carey – 42.800
4) McCusker – 42.200
5) Lee – 42.150
6) Chiles – 42.050
7) Thomas – 42.000

14.150 for Hurd on beam. Breaking 14 on beam is a huge deal for her.

Hurd is having a great day, as is Carey. She still has to do bars, so she’ll fall from 3rd, but that in itself is an accomplishment.

McCusker bounces back to 4th after vaulting, and she’ll be in good shape to move back up more if bars goes as normal.

Still very surprising to see Eaker down in 12th. And Wong in 8th. But Eaker didn’t get her beam and Wong had that floor disaster. McCallum also surprisingly down in 10th.

Rotation 4

Biles – BB – BUT WILL SHE DO IT – triple wolf turn, a little hesitant – aerial to split to straddle, solid – bhs loso loso, small lean – switch to switch 1/2 to back pike, good position on switch 1/2, small check on back pike – side aerial, good – split jump 1/2 from side with a large break, bend at the waist – bhs bhs DOUBLE DOUBLE hit it and it was gooooooooood. Better than the PT ones. Just a small hop.

Impressive. Still some issues in that beam routine, but that dismount is what we’ll remember.

14.950 for Biles there. 6.6 D score.

Carey – UB – Ray, solid – Yezhova, very solid – arch on cast but pulls it back – Shap to bhardwaj, there are leg breaks but they’re not actually that bad – giant full – FTDT and stuck. Hey! Form things but a really good routine for Jade

Skinner – BB – candle mount – Tim and I think you need to show the hs position for longer – bhs back full, pretty solid, just a small lean – knees – side aerial to split to straddle, secure – switch to switch 1/2 to back tuck, probably gets series credit, short of switch position – split jump 1/2 from side, well short – L turnto full turn, a little teeter in the L turn – double tuck, small hop. Good one. Lots of deductions on dance elements, but not a lot of checks.

13.300 for Carey on bars. Big for her to break 13.

Let’s talk about how much they’re mentioning Skinner and college, and we haven’t shown Thomas at all.

13.550 for Skinner on beam to finish at 54.900. Really solid AA score for her. Carey, meanwhile goes 56.100 in the AA. 56.100.

58.650 for Biles to finish. 1.350 lower than Classic. Will lead easily.

Lee – UB – Nabs to Pak, leg break on the Nabs but solid connection – Shap to Bhardwaj, lovely Bhardwaj – Toe Shap 1/2, quite strong – giant 1.5 to piked jaeger – short on a cast 1/2 – FTDT, basically stuck. Really strong routine.

Tim seems to be not super aware of how deep bars is internationally.

14.050 bars for Wong, which also works, 55.400. Would have been a really strong total if not for floor.

14.750 for Lee on bars. Very good. She moves ahead of the gang to 56.900 and currently in 2nd.

McCusker – UB – stalder full to toe shap with some legs – connected to tkatchev – Ricna to pak, to Stalder shap 1/2, hit well – toe on – 1/2 turn and doesn’t get up over the bar and has to hop off. Oh Riley. Resumes for the dismount, small hop forward.

13.500 for her there. 55.700 AA and in behind Carey and Lee in the AA.

Hurd – FX – double double, solid enough, slide back, some chest down, definitely worth it to do – front lay to….WHATTTTT layout 1/2? – didn’t do anything out of it – switch ring – split leap 1.5, close – DLO and takes it right to her knees. Oh Morgan. split jump full – double pike, deep with a hop to the side.

Now Tim is saying you can’t change your routine mid-stream. Didn’t we say he wanted Leanne Wong to do that?

Surprised that the DLO wasn’t planned because she did do it in PT?

13.400 for Thomas on beam.

Yikers. 12.050 for Hurd on floor. 55.050.

McCallum – FX – double double tucked, pretty low chest but a bit higher than at Classic – front lay to front 2/1 to front tuck, popped it right up but got it to her feet – wolf triple is very smooth – full in, secure landing but forward – split leap full – double tuck, small slide, just a bit deep.

So, you guys, Sunisa Lee is going to be in 2nd, and Jade Carey is going to be in 3rd. McCusker 4th and Wong and Thomas tied for 5th.

“A spectacular…finish…for Simone Biles.” Simone giggles.


You know, the standings you predicted.

If you want a case study in why you can’t take the all-around standings from one competition and be like, “THIS IS THE TEAM.” Please see today.

Initial reflections: TBH, this is one of those “just throw it out” kind of days. Nothing went to plan, and you can’t read too much into it. We’ll see what happens on the next day. But kind of excited to see who would end up in the highest scoring team of five based on only today.

Weirdly, it would still be Biles, Lee, Carey, McCusker, Hurd. So not super crazy. In reality, that team is probably a little over-strong on bars and under-strength on floor versus what the US could put together, but not an awful idea.

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