The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Selection Camp Live Blog

Over the next two days, 13 gymnasts will compete for 5 spots on the world championships team. Today’s competition is streamed on the USAG YouTube page, beginning at 4:45pm ET, and obviously I’ll be following all the routines here.

I’ll keep a live score table going at the top of the page, and then skill-by-skill analysis for each rotation lower down as we go.

Simone Biles15.35013.85014.55014.80058.550
Sunisa Lee14.55015.00014.55014.10058.200
Grace McCallum14.70012.70014.40013.75055.550
Morgan Hurd14.40012.55014.05013.10054.100
Jade Carey15.25013.35013.40013.90055.900
Leanne Wong13.20014.15014.05013.30054.700
Kara Eaker14.00013.90015.20014.00057.100
Jordan Chiles13.10013.85013.05013.20053.200
Aleah Finnegan13.20013.200
MyKayla Skinner15.05013.50013.65013.85056.050
Trinity Thomas14.00013.45013.35011.75052.550
Faith Torrez14.70013.50013.10013.55054.850
Emily Lee14.40013.05014.20011.80053.450

One thing worth pointing out before we begin is that the US will announce 6 names following the selection camp, without necessarily specifying who the alternate is. It’s typically pretty obvious to figure out who the intended alternate is through context and team permutations, but perhaps not this year with such a close race for those last couple spots.

My key routines

Kara Eaker BB – It’s essential for Eaker to hit beam both days of selection competition. When she hits the kind of beam she can and scores close to a 15, it’s almost mathematically impossible to keep her off a team. If she misses, and her beam scores/average from camp is more like a low 14 or even in the 13s, it’s very easy to just take the next best all-around gymnast instead.

Morgan Hurd UB – In the absence of Riley McCusker, Hurd’s bars routine is the logical, seemingly necessary choice to go in a team final. If she hits mid-14s on bars again at camp, especially if all the other athletes (except Lee and Biles) are stuck around 13.9, that makes for an extremely compelling argument.

Grace McCallum VT – Especially post-McCusker, many prospective teams feature McCallum in the alternate role. To get onto a team of five, her vault needs to be significant tenths clear of the rabble of DTYs, and it would help her case if she could outscore Lee on floor as well.

Leanne Wong BB – Wong is probably in the position where she needs to put up a strong AA performance here to get onto a team that way, but her 14.550 on beam on the second day of nationals was a “take me for this routine” kind of score. She may be in competition with her teammate Eaker, where if Eaker isn’t 15ing on beam, then Wong’s beam routine (plus her strong DTY) may combine to look more compelling.

The format of the competition is out. They’re doing five rotations with two rotation groups, and in the middle three rotations, both rotation groups will be going at the same time, but in the first and last rotation, there will be just one group going.

Looks like they want everyone starting on floor to mimic qualification at worlds. USAG already warning us that we won’t see every routine. But shouldn’t you alternate routines? So that Tom and company can see everyone? Just me? OK cool.

The start time on the live stream just jumped back 15 minutes, in case you need to take that into consideration. Annnnd now we’re back to the original time.

The first rotation will feature only Group A (Biles, Carey, Chiles, Eaker, Finnegan, Hurd, Wong) on floor. The rest will start in rotation 2.

The stream has started. This relaxed-seeming atmosphere is really not matching my internal state.


We’ve already had an Eaker/Acre moment.

Rotation 1

We’ve seen double doubles from Simone and Carey and a DLO from Hurd and DLO 1/1 from Chiles so far in the warmup.

Eaker – FX – front lay to front 2/1, stuck with some knees – this floor is not lined up at all – 3/1, just a hair under rotated but nice form – double Y spin, definite credit, nice – 2.5 to front full, small shuffle – switch ring and split leap full – double pike, a bit deep, slide back. split ring 1/2 to finish. Nice start. 5.4/14.000. OK NOW.


Biles – FX – triple double, step back, stays in bounds – Biles to stag, very solid – switch 1/1, definitely around – wolf turn double, one of her smooth ones – front full through to full in, a little short with a hop forwar d- switch to split leap 1.5, I’d say that was around – double double, that one with a larger bounce back and OOB.

Very long wait to come up with Simone’s score. NO ONE WAS READY FOR THE SET FROM THIS UNKNOWN. 6.7/14.800

Wong – FX – solid Dos Santos to stag, comfortable landing – deep double arabian with a fiarly large lunge out – 3/1, very secure landing – popa a little bouncy – leaned out of double L turn but may get credit for finishing the turn first, borderline – 2.5, struggles on the landing, large lunge out and loses her knees a bit. Got that upgrade from the 2/1, but probably loses more in E than it was worth because of the landing. 5.2/13.300

Carey – FX – Moors bounce back, just OOB it looked like – double L, gets leg around, a little heel hesitation – DLO 1/1, slide back and an awkward little stumble on the carpet and OOB again – double double tuck, nailed that landing, more typical for her on that one – split leap 1.5 attempt, I’d give just the full – front tuck throigh to double tuck, solid landing, chest a little down. Not her strongest. 6.1/13.900

30 minutes, 4 routines. NBC would be proud.

Chiles – FX – double wolf is around, tentative but around – her DLO 1/1 is quite nice, and a very solid landing – DLO, chest down a bit, bounce back – switch ring – switch side 1/2, good amplitude – 1.5 through to double tuck, chest low, slide back – split leap 1/1, around, not quite to 180 – front 2/1, comes up way short and falls. Drat. That DLO 1/1 was so good too. 5.6/13.200.

I have some concerns about these scores. Like a 7.6 E score on floor with a fall.

So Eaker outscored Carey on floor.

Hurd – FX – double double tucked, just a little over and a slide back into the corner, stays in bounds – DLO, another medium bounce back, stayed in – switch ring, nice – split ring full, probably credit as 1/2 but close – front lay to just a front full, and then it looked like she tripped on choreography or going into a leap and it was weird? – split jump full, nice – double pike, a bit short, hop forward. 5.2/13.100

Now it’s warmups for the second rotation.

I guess Eaker was the winner of that first rotation.

Rotation 2

E Lee – FX – nice DLO, nearly stuck, small step back – really sluggish looking 2.5, can’t punch out of it and just ends up on her side, second fall of the day, quite a few people struggling with this floor – double tuck, slide back – double turn, not quite around – popa is nice – double pike, small step back. 4.3/11.800

Jordan Chiles just warmed up an Amanar. The landing was rough.

Torrez – FX – DLO 1/1, nice with a bounce back – split leap full – DLO, very strong, only the smallest movement – switch – switch 1/2, good extension – OK definitely took that double wolf turn to her knee – front tuck through to double tuck, bounce back – good full in, small hop back – nice routine. 5.5/13.550

Wong – VT – ooooof, really odd DTY, fall with hands down. And her won in the warmup was so high and good, too. 5.4/13.200

Thomas – FX – switch leap full – Biles – YEOUCH, short and falls, but glad she didn’t hurt herself because that could have been a hyperextension landing – DLO is nice, bounce back – switch ring – split leap 1.5, definitely around, that was good – front layout, no punch and crumples into a ball. This floor rotation has been a disaster – double pike, deep but holds it. 5.3/11.75

So we didn’t see Jade’s first vault. Good thing it is not significant. But she just nailed an Amanar as her second vault, so that works, just a small step. Solid vault.

She got 15.25 for her Cheng.

S Lee – FX – double double tuck, chest is a knee-eater but she landed it, slide back – DLO, small slide, hit – wolf turn triple, got it around, followed by the double, hit – 1.5 to front full, some knees, a little hop – switch ring – splti leap full – double tuck, bounce back. Some chest positions, but she successfully survived the floor of death.

Well Morgan Hurd just vaulted out of frame, but it looked like a bounce back on her DTY. They just have her a

Eaker – VT – didn’t get the best block on her 1.5 and had to tuck a little more than usual but landed it, hop to the side. They’ll all using an extra mat for vault so far. 5.0/14.000

Skinner – FX – Moors, basically stuck landing right on the line – front tuck through to full in, also solid landing – L hop full to switch leap full attempt, probably switch 1/2 credit – double double tuck, a little deep but held onto the landing – split leap 1/1 attempt was basically completed in sissone angle, so that will be a major E issue – upgrades to a 3/1 final pass and hits, a little under but around enough for credit. Good hit.

McCallum – FX – important routine for her as some people have struggled on floor. She can help her case if she doesn’t. double double tuck, shorter like nationals with a lunge forward – front lay to front 2/1 to front tuck, under on the front tuck with a bound – switch 1/2 – wolf turn smoothly around as usual – full in was good, just a little slide forward – split leap full, good height – double tuck, fine, small slide. She got through. 5.7/13.750

They just posted an Amanar score for Morgan Hurd. But like, no, right? Right?

Apparently Simone went 15.350 for her Cheng.

We also have Sunisa Lee with 14.100 on floor.

USAG is also posting the 14.800 score for Hurd on vault. I think we saw her do a DTY in the background though, so I’m anticipating a correction.


Thomas – VT – almost NCAA ready 1.5 until she stepped forward at the end, just a little bit of knees. But good. 5.0/14.000

Chiles – UB – piked tkatchev, good – toe full, a it late into tkatchev to gienger, hit – piked jaeger, solid – bail, a bit better vertical position, just a little hip angle there – FTDT, a little fling out, hop. 5.6/13.850

The Hurd score has been fixed to 14.400 for a DTY. Sanity restored.

Skinner – VT – good Cheng, aside from the one-arm and whatnot, step back but chest pretty well up on landing. 6.0/15.050

Hurd – UB – Important routine for her – inbar Shap to Stalder full to tkatchev – good legs on Ricna to pak – very clean – annnnnnd struggles on a toe on attempt attempt, has to recast, goes over and then comes off the bar. Oh dear dear dear.

Skinner – VT – Hits her Amanar – large lunge forward and some knees, but a hit vault –

Hurd resumes with her dismount combination, but the damage done. Trouble routine there. 5.9/12.550

Score posted for Sunisa Lee on vault that doesn’t make mathematical sense, so we shall see.

McCallum – VT – solid DTY, well controlled landing, small hop – some knees. 5.4/14.700

14.550 is a good DTY score for Lee.

Emily Lee with a strong DTY of her own, small slide back, good direction, knees. 5.4/14.400

Eaker – UB – Church to Pak, good – toe Shap 1/2, very nice leg position – clear hip to a full that’s very late – toe 1/2 to piked jaseger, comfortable – DLO, stuck. Solid for her. 5.5/13.900

Torrez – VT – just a bit short on her DTY, small adjustment forward. 5.4/14.700

The length and inconsistency of this meet is going to send my trash corpse right into a coffin.

Biles – UB – weiler 1/2 to toe shap good – tkatchev – full to piked tkatchev to pak, solidly done – short hs before her van leeuwen, but hit well, good legs – double double tucked attempt, takes it right to her hands. OK nothing matters don’t worry. 6.2/13.850

Wong – UB – short first hs – inabr to Komova, hit – pak to stalder shap 1/2, better – inbar 1/2 to jaeger, hit – some loose back and handstand moments – toe full – DLO, OK, hop back. A hit. It works. 5.9/14.150

Carey – UB – Ray, hit – Yazhova, pretty nice – small arch on hs – Shap to Bhardwaj, legs but not extreme – Van Leeuwen, some knees – clear hip, short of vertical – full turn – FTDT, hit routine – a very “good for Jade” bars, but it was a hit. 5.3/13.350

Rotation 4

Skinner – UB – small hestiation in first hs – weiler 1/2 with leg s- shap to tkatchev, close catch but worked through – Ray to Pak – a little arch on low bar – Van Leeuwen with some crazy legs – double double tucked dismount, quite deep with a lung eto the side. 5.8/13.500. Well, she pumped up the difficulty enough to get a score I guess?

We’ve missed the beginning of Hurd on beam – split ring jump and dance combo looked lovely – really tentative switch leap with a check to the side – upgrades back to the full in dismount! It was pretty good, lunge back. Not sure what happened on some critical elements at the beginning though. 5.8/14.050

McCallum – UB – weiler 1/2, small arch – Maloney to tkatchev, hip angle but caught – takes her piked Ricna too far and falls. Well, no one gets to go to anything. Resumes – pak with some legs – toe Shap 1/2 toe full to FTDT, a litttle low bit secure. 5.5/12.700

Honestly, we’ve seen Hurd and McCallum fall on floor and Wong fall out vault, so it almost turns into a wash among them. But you wonder if Admiral Rank Order will see it the same way.

Eaker – BB – switch leap to split ring, usual – y spin good – aerial to split ring to back handspring, smooth combination – side aerial to loso loso, very secure – side somi, good – switch ring to bhs to Korbut, pretty – switch to switch side, solid – bhs bhs 2.5, nearly stuck. Good. 6.8/15.200

Eaker had a niiiice day. She of everyone did the best to help her chances.

Emily Lee just held onto a piked jaeger on bars – finishes DLO. 5.3/13.050

Torrez with a bit of legs on her shap to pak combo – Shap 1/2, small leg break – piked jaeger, feet but pretty solid – bail to shoot – DLO, held the landing well. 5.4/13.500

Biles – BB – joining midway with aerial to jumps, broken connection – bhs loso loso, just a small lean – switch to switch 1/2 to back pike, kept the connection going – side aerial, solid – split jump 1/2 from side position – bhs bhs FTDT, good. 6.2/14.550

Thomas – UB – can’t get up to hnadstand on weiler 1/2 and has to do it again – full to shap to clear hip, hit – tkatchev to pak, nice – toe shap 1/2 – DLO, nice and floaty and nearly stuck. Good finish. 5.5/13.450

Wong – BB – switch to straddle, check, bit of leg up on the check – bhs loso loso, hit, small lean – L turn is well controlled into full turn – switch ring, hit – aerial to split ring jump, good – side aerial, secure – side somi, hit – 3/1 dismount, a bit under, hop back. But a good hit. She needed that. 5/8/14.050

Carey – BB – aerial to split to straddle, solid – bhs loso to whatever, a bit of legs and a check – split leap to side aerial, secure – switch leap 3/4, split jump 1/2 from side, not to 180 – switch to switch 1/2, short to back tuck, maybe connection but a little slow for me – double tuck, step back. 5.5/13.400

We didn’t see Sunisa on bars (cool!), but she went 15.000 and is on the team.

Finnegan – BB – she exists! araibian to split to jump jump 1/2 combination! Just pulls the combo through, deep on that first arabian – hits her two loso series – switch to sissone, hit – split jump 1/2 from side, very nice split psotion, check – split ring jump – aerial, solid – side aerialt o bhs 1.5, off line with a hop to the side. 5.2/13.200

Chiles – BB – full turn – bhs loso loso series, solid – aerial to straddle, small pause before bhs there – straddle jump 1/2 from side position – side aerial to split, short on split – switch, can’t connect out of it and does a little hesitation hop that was fun – side somi, hit – double pike, bounce back

Time for final rotation warmup now. Basically what we’ve seen so far is Eaker, Carey, and Lee having really strong days and helping their cases to join Simone. Then we have to decide about Hurd, McCallum, Wong for the final spot, which would have been a pretty easy decision if Hurd had hit bars, but alas no. She’ll need to hit that as one of her events tomorrow.

Rotation 5

McCallum – BB – candle mount, hit – wolf turn triple, very smooth – wolf double, same – staddle 1/2 from side, hit with a lean – side aerial loso loso, hit with feet and a small lean – aerial – sissone to full turn – double pike, just a little down but hit. Solid routine. 5.7/14.400

The idea that a human person would get an 8.7 E on beam though

E Lee – BB – full turn witha little check – punch front, solid – bhs bhs to layout, very nice amplitude on that layout – check on switch 1/2 – side aerial to loso, secure – switch ring – split jump 1/2 from side – aerial, check – bhs bhs double pike, chest over but secure. 6.1/14.200

Torrez – BB – back full, nailed it – bhs loso loso, also very strong – switch to switch 1/2 to back tuck, nice – punch front and falls, was going so well before that – split leap to side aerial – pretty good speed in connection of side jumps too – double pike, large lunge back. 5.9/13.100

Thomas – BB – switch leap mount – split to tuck jump 1/2, lovely but not connected to the mount – side somi, hit – full turn – aerial to split to Korbut – side aerial – sweitch side to split jump 1/2 front side to straddle 1/2 from side – got a little rushed in those combinations toward the end but kept the combo going – one-arm bhs to loso – switch to switch 1/2, a bit short with a check – 2/1, bounce back. Nice way to finish. 5.3/13.350

S Lee – BB – wolf turn triple, good, only the slightest bit of arming it – split jump to sissone, pretty – aerial, hit – bhs bhs layout, fairly high, just a small shuffle back – switch to switch 1/2 to back tuck, got low in that combination, on the 1/2 and back tuck but held on – side aerial and pulls out of it with no combination – switch ring – split ring jump – double tuck, a bit deep, lunge back. 6.0/14.550

So this will be interesting. Skinner is in line for a very high AA placement with a hit beam here.

SKinner – BB – candle mount, teetering there – bhs back full, stuck, crazy legs – pause before bhs so no combination – side aerial with a lean, broken series there too – switch to switch 1/2 to back tuck, secure – she’s hitting this set, won’t get the D she wants because of pausing in series – split jump 1/2 from side – L turn, possible credit as full turn, connected to full turn – she added in the FTDT dismount, landed it with hips well over, step to the side. 5.8/13.650

58.200 for Lee. She comes up only a few tenths back of Simone.

Skinner finishes 4th AA and probably won’t make the team. This story sounds familiar.

So, just a heads up, your highest-scoring team based only on today would have Skinner on it, along with Carey, Lee, Biles, and Eaker. I don’t think that will actually happen because of bars, but just know that’s what the team would be.

That would also be your RANK ORDER team, so there’s that.

I am still agreeing with myself from about an hour ago, that of course Biles is a lock. Sunisa Lee has to be considered a lock after today, you want Carey on vault and floor, and Eaker had a great day with that undeniable beam score. And then you’re left looking at a 6th member. You’re good with Biles/Lee/Eaker on beam. You’re good with Biles/Lee/Carey on floor. You have Biles/Carey on vault (and if Lee vaults the way she scored today, then you might be OK with her as your third vault, though that hasn’t typically been how her DTY fares. And then you have bars, with Biles/Lee but really would like a 3rd good routine.

That’s why, even though Hurd had a weak day today, she should still be considered an option. That bars routine.

Skinner has at least got herself in the mix by being on the highest-scoring team of the day.

Wong is in contention because her bars score would be so useful based on today’s performance, but the DTY is typically key for her, and that fall really hurt.

McCallum is right there as well, with the 6th-best AA score of the day, but the bars fall didn’t help. She’s your “well, we have her for vault and floor and she’s far more useful as a backup on bars and beam than Skinner.”

What this comes down to is how much weight you’re putting on today alone. We had some uncharacteristic falls that I would typically throw out as the kind of thing that happens, but if you’re all about THIS IS THE TRIAL, then it’s bad news for people like Hurd and Wong who didn’t finish well in the AA and had falls.

If we use the MCCLURE system—now take the last 4 domestic meets (camp, 2 days of nationals, classic), drop the low score and average the remaining 3, your highest-scoring team would be Biles, Lee, Eaker, Carey, and Hurd, with Hurd hanging around there to do bars because today’s score is dropped. That’s the method that was used to decide the men’s team for worlds, and that’s where I would be right now, though I think Hurd has to hit bars tomorrow to get back in that spot.

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