The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

US Nationals – Senior Women Day 2 Live Blog

7:00pm CT. NBC. International stream. Scores.

Thus we arrive at the ending. Of course, the race for the title remains in 0% doubt, but Simone’s eh of a day on night 1 does change the skill-competing dynamic a little for herself.

I imagine if she had hit the triple double on the first day, we wouldn’t be seeing it again, but as she didn’t, she’s going to have to do it again tonight. The double double on beam, however, was successful on day 1, so it seems there would be less incentive to put that one back in again.

But to the real show—all the other spots. The standings after the first day were basically like you put everyone in a rock polisher and went, “This is the ranking.”

I mean what even is that nonsense? The surprise would be if they stay in anywhere close to the same positions after tonight’s competition.

I don’t expect the likes of Eaker and McCallum to repeat their struggles today to the same extent, but they’re already two points out of second place, so there may not be an opportunity for them to move up drastically in the standings even if they hit solid meets tonight. There’s just so much ground to make up. Hurd is likely in the same boat. She had three good events last time and then a monstrous floor experience, but that floor experience was enough to truly devastate her ranking.

It’s important for all three of those gymnasts to recover today, but I still expect to see them all on NT and at the selection camp. More and more athletes, however, are being added to the list of those who hope the team is just named by “rank order” at selection camp and that prior performances and consistency aren’t taken into account.

In terms of immediate consequences, the most significant performances of the day belong to Thomas, Chiles, and Skinner. I say that because we’ll have 10 people named to the national team after today, and I wouldn’t be surprised if those go straight by the all-around standings. Plus, Tom Forster has said that members of the Pan Ams team will be invited to selection camp regardless of their performances here. If we assume the national team all get invites to camp, along with Finnegan who was on the Pan Ams team but looks unlikely to finish top 10 at this point, that’s already a lot of people—more than were brought to selection camp last year. Someone like McCallum is more likely to receive an exception if she has another disaster because she was on the worlds team last year, but the same consideration may not be extended to the others.

That’s why I think those who didn’t go to Pan Ams have to hang onto their spots in the top 10 today. It’s going to be really easy to say “oops, didn’t make the cut” otherwise. (Sadly, it might already be curtains for Jones and Torrez in their hopes to make it to selection camp after lower scores on day 1, despite Torrez breaking 14 on beam.) Thomas is up at #5 after the first day, which is amazing and should keep her safe, but there’s less than a fall separating the tie at #5 and Emily Lee in 12th. (Meanwhile, I’m low-key rooting for Emily Lee to make the top 10 because you wouldn’t have picked that one.) Lots can change today.

Sunisa Lee’s performance on day 1 was exceptionally significant in catapulting her right back into likely team scenarios with the same everywhere-but-vault usefulness we saw at Jesolo. Lee was part—and an essential part—of the highest-scoring worlds team you could create using night 1 scores—along with Biles, Carey, McCusker, and Hurd. Despite missing on bars, McCusker’s beam score was still useful enough to get her on the team, and despite that floor disaster, Hurd’s bars score was nearly as necessary as Lee’s because you had McCusker missing bars and Biles doing her “piece of shit” bars routine. So those bars scores had to come from somewhere else. I’m interested to see how the highest possible team score plays out today if Biles and McCusker hit good bars routines because that will change the dynamic.

Also Jade Carey is all-around now, and they’re having to pull up the floor in the arena right now. So just the usual.

Here’s the start list:

McCallum and Hurd on floor. Chiles and Skinner on beam. Some significant routines in that first rotation. Bets on whether Trinity Thomas gets to exist tonight? Or is Skinner still the only one doing college and elite in the same year?

Also, if you’re in the US but in the tape delay states (WHAT YEAR IS THIS?), you’ll have to use the stream to watch live. Remember back in the day when we had to wait to watch the competition 3 hours late? No wonder there’s war. How did we survive the darkness?

That bizarre night 1 also reminded me of nationals four years ago, when night 1 was a total splat fest and Aly fell on a split jump on beam and Kyla was in 11th and Simone fell on floor. Very similar dynamic. That year, 8 of the eventual top 10 improved their scores on night 2. We’ll see if tonight plays out the same.

Nastia is bucking for a spot at the Met Gala tonight.

Tim going out on a limb to agree with Nastia that Simone is the best ever.

Terry has already used the word “hoppin'” twice. The only two gymnasts are Simone Biles and half of Jordan Chiles’ face.


Skinner – BB – candle mount, right through handstand – bhs back full and she falls. Still so weird to me to see Skinner fall on beam after how accustomed we’ve become to her college routines – switch to switch 1/2 to back tuck – that switch is much improved, but she’s losing more than she gains with that switch 1/2 by a large margin – finishes with a stuck double tuck.

13.850 for Eaker on vault. Two tenths better than day 1.

Carey – VT 1 – Starts with the Cheng – nicely done, pace back, the usual twisting form and piking in the air – good distance – chest a little down. Still looking very reasonable.

15.000 is a bit high for me for that, but good vault.

Carey – VT 2 – They’re trying to explain Carey’s apparatus world cup route and it’s just a word salad. Struggles to land the Amanar today, big amplitude but a large bound forward and some extra lunges

Tim is saying that Jade wants to get a spot on the four-person team, but I’m going to assume that’s just Tim making things up because that would cause A MESS of problems and likely reduce the US to 5 five spots at the Olympics

Biles – wolf triple hit – aerial to split to straddle, a little slow in connection with a small check after aerial – bhs loso loso, very solid – switch to switch 1/2, a little pause to back pike – side aerial, solid – split jump 1/2 with a check – sissone to wolf – just does the full-in this time, hop back. A few checks. Her normal.

12.900 for Skinner on beam. Which is only about 6 tenths lower than day 1, which is interesting.

YELLOW. We’re still just yelling the names of colors.

McCusker – VT – DTY a bounce back which is somewhat an unusual error for her because if there’s any issue she usually lands it short – legs crossed, kind of a large bounce back

14.650, a really good vault score for her

Lee – VT – DTY lands her vault staggered again, but pretty solid landing compared to what we’ve seen – step to the side and out of the area – chest well down on landing

14.700 on beam for Simone. She went 14.950 for day 1.

Good thing Simone and Trinity are friends so we get to see Trinity.

Wong – VT – DTY – such a pretty vault – great height and form, bounce back. That needs to be quite a bit higher than McCusker’s, but vault judging and whatnot.

Leotard update: If someone was like, “You know what’s classy? The prostitutes at Versailles.”

14.750 for Wong’s vault is just a tenth higher than McCusker. Wrong. WHERE AM I?

13.650 for Thomas on beam, a couple tenths higher than day 1.

Hit beam for Chiles for 13.500

McCallum – FX – double double is a little better, but still landed in a ball shape with a hop forward – front 2/1 to front tuck, a bit short with a hop back – switch ring and switch 1/2, fine – wolf triple, not her usual level but still good, just teetered a little at the end – full-in, also a bit short, hop forward, just does stay in bounds – split leap full, would like to see a bit more 180 there – double tuck, very strong and stuck.

14.000 for McCallum. Pretty high for me. Reminiscent of Di Cello’s floor score in the juniors. So at least it’s consistent?

Hurd – FX – music problems – it started before she was ready – getting into her pose and she was off, so she stepped off – didn’t begin her routine so it should be fine – double double, stellar landing, one of her best – front lay to front 2/1, small step – switch ring split leap 1.5, probably will ve given as split full – double tuck, solid – split ring jump 1/1 – split jump 1/1 – double pike, slide back. Really solid routine. Good one. Not doing her full difficulty without the DLO and I think we’ll see some dance element downgrades, but should be a high E score.

13.750 for Hurd with a 5.3 D score. Not enough E score separation there with an 8.450, but that is the highest of the rotation.

After 1
1) Biles – 73.350
2) Carey – 71.100
3) Lee – 70.650
4) McCusker – 70.350
5) Wong – 70.150
6) Thomas – 69.050
7) McCallum – 68.900
8) Chiles – 68.850
9) Hurd – 68.800
10) Eaker – 68.500

Andrea is talking with Li Li. “This organization has let down many people.” That’s new. Thank you. I mean, it’s still empty words, but at least she can put them together, which is a step up.


We’ll start with Simone here, Tim already promising she’s going to hit the triple double.

Biles – FX – successful trip dub, bounce back, possible OOB but I think she stayed in? – Biles with a little bounce nad not connection – wolf turn 2.25 was pretty crazy and out of control – front full through to full in – pulls it in a little to ensure she doesn’t go OOB so ends up a little short – split leap 1.5 looked around – double double, lunge back. She hit it this time, so she’ll be pleased. A number of landing bounces, so it won’t be in her hall of fame, but good one.

A fall on bars for Carey gives her 11.650.

15.100 for Simone. So she goes up .750 on day 1.

Oh look Trinity exists.

Thomas – FX – switch leap 1/1 a little crooked – nooooo she falls on her Biles this time after nailing it on the first day – of course the first routine of hers they show – DLO, bounce back – switch ring to split leap 1.5, good split position and very high – front 2/1, just a little deep and hoppy – double pike WHATTTT TRINITY – she had an awkward stagger landing and then fell directly onto her face.

OK, they’re not allowed to show her anymore.

At least she understands opportunities for comedy.

McCusker – UB – stalder full to toe Shap to tkatchev, solid – Ricna is fingetipped but she got it into her Pak, doesn’t connect to VL but does it later and it was lovely. Dismount – ooof, really deep, forward with a large lunge forward.

Yes, what she needs after her routine is some dickhead yelling, “DOWN THE STAIRS GOT TO WALK DOWN THE STAIRS” at her. Dude, she’s in charge of you.

Hurd – VT – DTY – hop back on her DTY, good direction, chest down a little and a stagger on landing, pretty much her normal.

Lee – UB – Nabieva to Pak to Toe Shap to Bharwaj and it’s GLORIOUS – toe shap 1/2, solid, just a bit of legs – giant 1.5 to piked jaeger, well done – cast 1/2 is short – really close to the bar on her FTDT but just a hop back. Excellent.

Tim and Nastia pretending Nina isn’t alive.

14.350 for Hurd on vault.

15.050 for Lee on bars. EYES.

Wong – UB – short first hs – inbar to Komova to pak to Stalder Shap 1/2, lovely – inbar 1/2 to jaeger, knees mushy in the air – toe full, pretty late – DLO is deep with a lunge forward. Not bad but the second half was not her cleanest.

13.900 on bars for Riley. On four tenths better than her fall routine from day 1.

13.800 for Wong. 13.300 on floor for Chiles.

Andrea has a special report – where she says I GOT THIS to Laurie Hernandez. And then explains it afterward. That’s what makes it so fun.

Skinner – FX – Moors is a little shorter than the first day, hop forward, knees and whatnot – front tuck through to full in, pretty solid, slide back – some of these dance elements will face downgrade for not being alll the way around – double double tucked, landed like McCallum kind of in a ball shape, but not a large bounce – double L, foot form but may get the two turns, willed that around – 2.5, solid, medium step forward. Hit.

Watching Jordan Chiles walk from event to event should be the whole meet.

OOF. 11.900 for Eaker on bars. She has really had a rough meet.

13.850 for Skinner is a tenth and a half better than the first day. Interesting. She broke 8 in E score.

We’re doing Ohashi recap again? This is the same interview from night 1.


After 2
1) Biles – 88.450
2) Lee – 85.700
3) McCusker – 84.250
4) Wong – 83.950
5) McCallum – 83.450
6) Hurd – 83.150
7) Carey – 82.750
8) Chiles – 82.250
9) Jones – 82.150
10) E Lee – 81.900

Skinner goes back up to 11th after her floor score. Eaker down to 15th. And Thomas has fallen to 14th and I’m now worried about her.

Has McCusker scratched beam? She has a zero on the scoreboard.

Tim’s most current basketball reference is Shaquille O’Neal.

Tim, you are not allowed to say “throwing shade.”

Rotation 3

Chiles gets 14.750 for vault. So she’s the one who doesn’t exist tonight I guess.

Lee – BB – wolf turn triple, very smooth – split jump to sissone is glorious – aerial, nice – bhs bhs layout to 2 feet, large break with a leg up check – switch to switch 1/2, another check, breaks connection into back tuck with a small hop – side aerial to loso loso is good, just the smallest hestiation – switch ring landed completely on one foot and a check to hold it – she looks tentative but hasn’t missed – double tuck, lunge back –

Hurd – UB – inbar to stalder full to tkatchev – hit – Ricna to pak, lovely – 1/2 turn on low with a little hesitation – toe 1/2 to front giant 1/2 – toe full to FTDT, stuck landing. Pretty routine. Good. I don’t think the handstand positions were as crisp this time, but otherwise great.

So do we think Riley is injured or Maggie is just locking her in a closet?

Skinner – VT 1 – does the Amanar, large lunge forward this time and another extra step – just a little under rotated coming into the mat – turns on the table again –

I see 14.600 for that.

13.850 for Lee on beam. Not her highest but still works.

14.600 for Hurd on beam is a huge number for her.

Skinner – VT 2 – much better on the Cheng today, a lunge back, but a bit cleaner in the air

Biles – VT 1 – good Cheng of course, still a large bounce back though – tons of distance, has the form – I mean basically I have two tenths off other than the landing and you can still justify as high as 9.500 E score for that. They go 9.300. Makes sense.


Word on McCusker is she is “physically ill.” SAME.

Biles – VT 2 – Amanar and it’s fantastic – little hop  forward. I’d give that a higher score than her Cheng despite the 0.2 deficit in D score.

Pleased to learn that Andrea Joyce knows what an app is.

15.600 for her Amanar, which means she got 9.800 E score. 9.8 you guys.

BIGGG 14.550 for Wong on beam, also significant for her prospects.

Andrea’s radar gun is the new bead bucket.

Now we’re hearing that Riley is sick. “Riley is not happy” apparently she didn’t want to pull out. Let’s talk more about her vomiting?

Carey – BB – aerial with a huge break, bends at the hips and just does save it – bhs loso to back pike, very solid, but that’s not a layout – split leap to side aerial, hit – switch leap 3/4 – switch to switch 1/2 with will probably get switch side credit because the split was very much to the side – bhs alone – she’s trying to connect so many leaps, but they’re all going to get destroyed in E score – double tuck, hop

After 3
1) Biles – 103.750
2) Lee – 99.550
3) Wong – 98.500
4) Hurd – 97.750
5) McCallum – 97.400
6) Chiles – 97.000
7) Skinner – 96.250
8) Carey – 95.850
9) Eaker – 95.300
10) Thomas – 94.500

Everyone helped out a little by McCusker withdrawing because it opens up another spot in the top 10. But also makes it even harder for those who don’t finish top 10 because there’s another person who has to be added to the selection camp team who won’t finish top 10 here.

Tom’s also not going to be able to go by rank order for the national team because he’ll have to add McCusker. Right? Right…?

They’re doing the same bit about Texas they did before.

McCallum – BB – Important routine for her – candle mount is good – wolf triple, nicely done, double is the same – straddle jump 1/2 from side position to straight jump 1/1 from side, and it’s not terrible – no trouble on her loso series this time – aerial to sissone to full turn – double tuck, step back. Good.

Lee – FX – double double, pretty solid, slide back, a bit of chest position – DLO, chest down but also under control, just a small adjustment – wolf triple, good – wolf double, also fine – back 1.5 to front full, solid – switch ring – split leap full, around – double tuck, mostly solid, bounce back.

She had such a great competition and can be better.

14.450 for McCallum om beam. Big number.

Chiles finishes her day with 13.850 on bars.

Grace McCallum’s “cheering MyKayla on bars” face was the highlight of the meet.

Hurd – BB – back full, has to adjust with a lean this time to save it – side aerial is solid – bhs loso, right to the end of the beam, small check – aerial to split ring, small teeter there – switch to straddle to split, just lovely positions – switch ring, some foot position – double pike, good dismount, small hop. Not as solid as day 1 on beam but a useful hit.

14.000 for Lee on FX. Another day of 56 in the AA. McCallum 56.950 today.

Biles UB – Weiler 1/2 – Shap to tkatchev – toe full to piked tkatchev to pak – good – some hs – Shap 1/2, small leg break – some short handstands – double double tuck, very strong. Much better than yesterday. Not a piece of shit.

Hurd still goes 13.950 on beam, which is a good score for her despite being a bit tentative.

14.750 for Simone on bars. She goes 59.850 on day 2. 1.2 stronger than the first day.

12.750 on floor for Wong. Still doesn’t have that routine. That will drop her behind Hurd and McCallum in the AA standings.

Big comeback days for McCallum and Hurd. They’ll finish well in the overall standings and sort of be back to where they were in positioning for worlds.

Keep an eye on those standings for the fight for the top 10. Because this is all about national team watch and worlds selection invitation watch.

14.250 for Trinity Thomas on bars. OH IF NOT FOR THAT FLOOR ROUTINE.

12.800 on floor for Eaker. 53.450 today.

Carey – FX – bounce back on her Moors today and OOB – popa, a little bouncy – DLO 1/1, small adjustment on landing. That’s her best pass, she’s always so controlled there – double double tuck, some chest and a little stagger on landing – split leap 1.5 attempt that IO’ll say is a full – front tuck through to full in, better than day 1 on that landing, a couple steps back.

Is NBC going to be forced to show A COMMONER, or just talk about Simone until the end of the meet?

I think we all know the answer to that.

Carey 14.100 puts her in 7th AA.

Finnegan – FX – she does get to exist – really strong double double, basically stuck that landing – double arabian to stag, also exceptional – switch ring 1/2, ugh – 1.5 turn just cuz I guess – 2.5 to front tuck, quite deep in the front tuck – front 2/1, a little under rotated coming into the floor with a shuffle to the side

Waiting on a couple more scores here, but we already know the final standings.

1) Biles – 118.500
2) Lee – 113.550
3) McCallum – 111.850
4) Hurd – 111.700
5) Wong – 111.250
6) Chiles – 110.850
7) Carey – 109.950
8) Skinner – 109.600
9) Thomas – 108.750
10) Eaker – 108.100

So now interesting stuff with the national 10 team. It would seem pointless to me to leave McCusker off because you’re obviously going to add her to the NT at selection camp anyway so just name her now. But then you have Eaker in 10th in the AA, and you also need her on the NT.

Terry is telling us that 8 go to the selection camp. Are we confirmed for that with the women?

Andrea just said “wacky dance.”

You know Simone is happier today because she stopped herself from saying, “This is the worst one, obviously” when Andrea asked where this title ranks.

If you take only the scores from night 2, the highest scoring five-member team in a world championship format would be either Biles, Lee, Hurd, Wong, McCallum OR Biles, Lee, Hurd, Wong, Eaker. Both teams with the same score.

Of course that doesn’t include Riley, but interesting that Carey’s scores don’t get her into the top group today.

Actually scratch that. I didn’t realize they were putting Carey’s vault average on the scores instead of her first vault score. That puts her in place of McCallum on the highest scoring team.

OK, so the national team is the top 10 AA and McCusker. So they went to 11. How…reasonable and unremarkable. I’m stunned.

Now, who gets invited to selection?

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