US Worlds Team “Selected”

Sigh.

Of course it’s not a bad team. All of the options would win the team final at worlds, and so will this one. It’s fine. But…

The all-around standings, you guys.

Like Gigapets and baggy windbreakers, some things were better left in 1996.

The US women’s worlds team exactly mimics the all-around standings from yesterday’s selection camp (so why did they even have an extra day of events—or a national team coordinator?), with the team named as Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Kara Eaker, MyKayla Skinner, Jade Carey, and Grace McCallum.

An alternate has not yet been announced, but if we’re really going by all-around standings, one would presume McCallum is the alternate for the time being. She would also be my alternate on this particular team of 6.

This is basically a case study in why I have such a problem with using the all-around standings from a single competition—or using a single competition at all—because while this team was indeed the highest-scoring possible team based on yesterday’s selection camp scores (so good for you for that, we’ll take it), that was a super weird meet—an outlier—unlikely to be repeated at worlds. That group of 5 ended up being the highest-scoring team solely because some key people sucked on bars. If your goal is to select the team you expect to score the highest at worlds, this ain’t it.

We had the same problem with junior worlds, where Konnor McClain was not on the team because she fell on beam at trials, even though she pretty clearly would have been on the best possible squad. Tom Forster has said her prefers to use the all-around, and this appears to be no different. It’s similar to the Japanese team not selecting Mai because she was unavailable for a critical meet. Putting too much weight on that competition (it’s wayyyyyy worse with Japan because that meet was so early) inhibited your ability to select the actual best possible team.

That’s why basing the team on one competition instead of using an overall impression of the many meets this summer on which to base a decision is a lazy abdication of responsibility.

Adding here that we don’t know what happened on day 2, and because we don’t know what happened on day 2, we can’t make arguments based on it. Maybe let us know what happened on day 2, because say, if Hurd had another rough one on bars, you can start to justify this insanity a little bit more…

For example, if you were to take the average scores from the national championship, the team as selected (assuming McCallum as alternate because of AA standings) would score 1.425 lower than the highest-scoring team from that meet.

Using the system that was used to select the men’s team—which I quite like in general—the women’s team that was selected would have been the 4th-highest scoring team option—so not wholly terrible, but definitely not your highest-scoring team by a clear margin.

So what if worlds qualification ends up more like the two days of nationals than like selection camp? You’ve just cost yourself a fall and a half. Sure, the US is still ahead of every other country by a lot— and I do believe that in an ideal system recent results should be given more weight than older results like Classic—but taking all of the meets into account gives you a much better representation of what might happen at worlds than choosing a single competition on which to base the decision.

WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE SPREADSHEETS?!?!

It also sucks to be a member of the highest-scoring teams using more…logical?…methods, knowing that you earned a spot on the worlds team based on your scores this year, and then not be selected because of a shallow and inaccurate impression of fairness entertained by a selection committee that is…too scared to select the team members that earned those spots based on their scores this year?

So, with that rant out of the way, let’s talk about the actual team, what routines people will compete, and why there are some holes in this group.

Here’s where I see the lineups for this team (once again, assuming McCallum is your alternate for now):

VAULT – (Lee) Skinner, Carey, Biles

This is a high-scoring vault team. No arguments there, except for that you’ve overloaded vault unnecessarily, which brings us to…

BARS – (Skinner) Eaker, Biles, Lee

So yeah, you have Kara Eaker doing bars in a team final for some reason, and Skinner going in qualification (could be Carey in qualification too). You’ve picked up some tenths on vault by adding Skinner in there, but on balance, you’ve lost more than that by not having Hurd’s bars routine. You’re underwater by about 3-4 tenths with that trade given the scores from this summer’s meets.

And if someone gets hurt, you have no safety net at all here.

BEAM – (Skinner) Lee, Biles, Eaker

Killer beam team…as long as those exact three gymnasts go. Otherwise, it’s a disaster.

The one thing I will say that I like about the named team is that it’s not over-concerned about having good qualification scores and safe backups—being so worried about the 4th-best routine across all four events is something I’ve criticized about past teams—but we may be going too far the other direction here.

FLOOR – (Skinner) Lee, Carey, Biles

Here’s where I think you best see the problems with this team, even though this floor team is excellent. It’s…too loaded? Floor is one of Skinner’s things, it’s her event, but she’s pretty clearly the 4th-best floor score on this team going by what we’ve seen this year. So, you’re bringing a floor worker who isn’t even going to do floor in team final? That seems…dumb?


Basically, the US can get away with selecting a team through such methods because it is so much better than every other country, but if that dynamic changes, this would be a real problem. Because this is not the best possible team.

Another key issue here: If you’re just using the results of the all-around at selection camp, it’s not an approach I agree with, but it’s a thing. You can do that. People do. But, if you decide that’s what you’re going to do, then that needs to be written into the selection procedures. And that is absolutely not what the selection procedures currently say. They instruct the committee to use a whole bunch of competitions like Classic and nationals to decide the team, and if you were doing that, you would never have come up with this particular team.

206 thoughts on “US Worlds Team “Selected””

  1. USAG selection based on “consideration given for potential team, all-around, and individual event medals.” There is a lot going on we do not know about. I tend to believe it’s more about medal count since there’s so much room for errors in TF than based on AA rankings.

    This team is going to have a 5+pt lead over China in TF even if there are multiple falls. Assuming Simone, Suni and Kara do all events in Q, one of them will be 2-person’d out for AA, just like Simone, Jade and Mykayla will be 2-person’d out on VT. But they could all medal if someone misses in Q. That is not the case if Leanne or Morgan were on the team.

    Grace is the logical alt since she’s the most well-rounded and hasn’t hit a top 2 AA, 4 for 4 this season and wouldn’t medal on any EF. I’m very happy with their decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But you can’t have Simone, Sunisa, and Kara do AA in qualification and have Simone, Jade, and Mykayla do vault in qualification. If you’re going by medal potential, you pick the three vaulters, because a fluke error keeping one of the vaulters out of the EF is a much bigger chance than a fluke error keeping a US gymnast out of the AA (even if they could likely overcome the error in either scenario.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “But you can’t have Simone, Sunisa, and Kara do AA in qualification and have Simone, Jade, and Mykayla do vault in qualification. ”

        4 people go up in Qualification, 3 people in TF.

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      2. Thanks Mary, Jasmine. I totally just had a moment there! I guess no AA for Kara then, which makes me sad. All of these girls are incredible and it’s unreal that so many amazing gymnasts aren’t going to be able to show what they’re really capable of internationally.

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    2. If both Carey and Skinner are on the team I’d probably pull Skinner from Q on VT (or Carey if she’s doing worse than Skinner) and put her back in for TF, honestly. Rather have three AA candidates in quals than three VT EF candidates.

      Of course, you can totally argue that it makes more sense to put three in for VT EF because it’s more likely a fall in Q takes one out of the final (whereas Lee or Eaker could fall in AA quals and still make it, so you’re pretty much guaranteed two competitors). That would also make sense. I just personally think AA is more important than VT medals and would rather give all the best AAers a chance.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s all good and fair, to just pick top 6. Most any other sports spots are awarded to who won on that day. Olympics medals are won on that day who performed it, not the potential or your performance in the qualifying but when the final is final, you better fully deliver.

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    1. except the press release says “Biles automatically qualified and the remaining five were selected based on selection criteria, including results from the 2019 American Classic, GK U.S. Classic, U.S. Championships, international competitions and the World Team Selection Camp; D and E scores earned at any official international assignment or national event; consistency; the composite strength of all World team members, with consideration given for potential team, all-around, and individual event medals; world-class presentation; and readiness to compete.”

      This selection wasn’t based on most of those things.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How do you know it wasn’t? The guidelines say the team was selected based on “selection criteria, including…” and then lists a bunch of things, making no mention of how much weight was given to each criteria or that its a comprehensive list of everything they considered. It seems like fans are doing a lot of assuming and crying out because selection didn’t happen they way they assumed it would be done, when the stated criteria in the guidelines makes no promises and basically amounts to “we will select whomever we want.”

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      2. I still believe that the gymnasts and coaches knew it was most likely top 6 AA barring anything super weird, and that most if not all of them agreed with this as a process. I am betting they get a lot more communication from Tom than USAG press releases and I bet it is truthful or intended to be. I think that’s one area in which he’s left the Martha era behind.

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    2. But the go is not top six finishers like the 50 yard dash. It should include what set if athletes compromise the best possible score in the three up team final as well as providing an acceptable 4th place athlete on each apparatus. This year’s final available set of athletes was rather wonky with a huge drop off on bars from 3 to 4 and a similar drop on beam. Hopefully next year will see a couple of athletes filling those gaps who would not create the equivalent gap on another event.

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  3. ‘So, you’re bringing a floor worker who isn’t even going to do floor in team final?’
    Exactly what happened with Diana Chelaru for Romania in London 2012… lol… And she was even doing her weakest event only at TF.

    Also, the alternate is presumed to be Skinner…

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  4. Lauren has said multiple times that she’s heard from people in the national team realm that they prefer choosing by AA standings precisely because the field is so stacked and it’s a straightforward way of cutting through all the arguments over half-tenths. That is one thing I would really like this blog to address given Spencer’s “the athletes need to be given a voice” mantra post-Nassar. Especially since he so frequently seems to have some complaint whenever the gymnasts do actually have a say (some not being shown on the first camp stream last spring, Tom Forster being chosen as NTC…)

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  5. I LOVE watching Jade! She always looks so calm and in control. Though her power is incredible, it’s her style of calm gymnastics I enjoy. Grace McCallum also has the same quite calm style. Watching Grace is relaxing not stressful. I enjoy watching everyone but some of the gymnast with more of a frenetic, tense disposition just are not my personal preference. Does anyone else feel the same?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s incredibly rude! I’m sorry I posted anything positive. I certainly wasn’t baiting you for that kind of negativity! My image of you is ruined:(

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      2. The only time I have ever seen Spencer post comments, he posts as BBSituation, so no, I don’t think that is “the” Spencer.

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      3. Using Spencer’s name to keep trolling is a new low and I hope he bans your IP for this shit. You are not slick, go the fuck away, you add nothing of value here.

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      4. I am assuming that this is not “the” Spencer from this blog and Gymcastic because he has never made such degrading analogies. To the poster, you are awful. You have defamed “the” Spencer as the comments show some people thought he made this comment. Moreover, as the mother of a special needs child, your words are beyond hurtful.

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    1. Jade looks like she’s on tranqs, Mykayla like someone just threw catnip at her and Grace forgot this isn’t a circus act.

      Their artistry is hard to watch. All amazing gymnasts and athletes, but…yeah.

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      1. Delete your comments not yourself.

        Also, I love the podcast and would have had to boycott if that was “the “ Spencer. I would have been sooo disappointed 😦

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      2. In addition to being rude, you clearly know nothing about circus because there is artistry in circus and technique very much matters. Have you ever seen an aerial act that doesn’t have clean lines and pointed toes?

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  6. Seriously, I don’t get how everyone is so outraged about Hurd. Spencer pointed out she needed to hit bars, and she didn’t. She’s struggled all year. It makes sense that she’s only the alternate.

    Skinners trajectory of improvement makes sense that she is selected, whether you like her or not!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. AMEN. I love Morgan but the consistency unfortunately hasn’t been there this year. Better for her to get some rest and come back strong for 2020, especially when the US doesn’t need her bar score to win anyway.

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  7. I actually do not mind this team. I do not necessarily think that you would have picked up more on bars with Hurd than you would on vault with Skinner. I think that it is pretty even (Mykayla can score close to 15 on vault and Eaker close to 13.6-13.8 compared to Morgan 14.4 on both vault and bars.) But I think that Skinner’s vault is more stable than Morgan’s bars and, if there is a fluke vault from Jade and Skinner were to make finals, she would have a strong chance for Silver. While if there was a fluke fall from Sunisa or Biles, I don’t see Morgan medalling anyway on bars. As much as I love Morgan’s gymnastics, right now i am not convinced. And I do think that it will be interesting to see how Mykayla actually scores on floor internationally.

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  8. So many assumptions being made in this blog today. I get the feeling it’s because Morgan didn’t get the team and Mykayla did. I guess “peaking” only matters if it’s someone you like and they actually do it. All meets this year are suddenly equivalent? But I digress.

    Consistency is a criteria too per USAG, especially when it comes to bringing specialists that have zero medal chance as your 5th. But Morgan demonstrated when it really mattered, she wasn’t there for it on UB. She literally posted her lowest score this year on it. So why risk it?

    Morgan *might* gain 0.4 points offsetting Mykayla, but she might flop *again*. I think consistency was rewarded here. Mykayla has shown tremendous growth, dedication and her momentum is going up. Morgan’s scores have been hovering the same for 2 years now, rarely hitting 4 for 4, while her teammates pass her up. It happens.

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    1. i’m gonna need you to check for yourself that Morgan won 4 worlds medals in 2 years while her teammates which supposedly pass her up didnt. This year Morgan is 1st on bars at US Classic and 2nd at US Nationals. Skinner didnt even finish top 3 on floor and only 3rd on vault.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “Using the system that was used to select the men’s team…”

    How do you convert medal capabilities to a score for a nice spreadsheet like we got for MAG? The men’s team will not medal and no one on it will medal except possibly Sam. That’s night and day against WAG.

    The named WAG team is literally the most individual medals with a top 3 configuration using MCCLURE. Jus’ say’n. ❤

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  10. Just had a thought… this should be interesting with Morgan not making the team, since I’m assuming Olympic Channel was counting on her making it to make the All Around series more interesting. I’m curious to see how they frame it in the next few episodes.

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    1. She was picked for the tragedy element. No shade intended, but it was pretty clear she was a long shot last year when Simone came back, the progression of her teammates and the upcoming seniors. I would have put her odds at 25% last year, 10% now.

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      1. You could make that argument for any of the three gymnasts featured. Between the amount of upcoming Chinese potential and the fact that guessing whether a given Russian gymnast will be injured at a given time can be accurately predicted with a coin toss, it’s fully conceivable that Tokyo could come to pass with none of the 3 gymnasts on the show actually making an Olympic team.

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  11. What I find interesting is that no one is planning for the possibility that an injury may perhaps occur to Simone. Everyone keeps saying, “We’re one injury away from having to count a 13 on bars!?” The horror. But what if Simone were to get injured? It’s not out of the realm of possibilities since last Worlds she got kidney stones for heavens sakes. So maybe having Jade and MyKayla on the same team isn’t all the crazy especially if your best gymnast happens to go out. Hurd was in no way going to make up the tenths that would be lost if she had to replace Simone. Jade and MyKayla at least are a little closer on VT/FX.

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    1. If Simone did get injured, we would be up shit creek on bars and beam. I run hot/cold on Skinner’s persona and some of her fans annoy- but love her competitive nature and love that she was rewarded. That said, this line up has some definite deficiencies. If anything I think it will show that the path to that last spot on the Olympic teams is a big bars score and a second serviceable routine.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. rehabbing an arm injury is no small thing. Not a Morgan fan but appreciate her work and abilities but this season has been a rough one for her. She’ll be back and in better form for 2020.

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  12. I picked this exact team yesterday…i like it and we have a lot of veterans and only 1 new senior..Sunisa Lee. Yeah, i feel bad for Morgan but she is not top 3 on any event and her all around scores this year have not been stellar. Maybe it will motivate her to really up her game and get more consistent. I love this team and i think it was the right choice.

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  13. I think as soon as Tom looks at the lineups he’ll realize that either Skinner or Carey have to be the alt because of the lineups in qualification vs. team final situation. With Skinner and Carey both on the team and presumably doing VT in quals, one of them will get the shot for AA over Eaker which doesn’t seem fair. If you do give Eaker the AA shot, then either Skinner or Carey are just doing bars/beam in prelims which is comedy at its finest. The nice thing about Grace is that because she is such an all-arounder, she could absolutely fill in on McCusker’s presumed role as a bars/beam specialist in quals and give Eaker the AA shot, and have Grace just do bars in TF. Or, since she did finish runner-up on night 2 of nationals after all, she gets the AA shot and that way she is also prepared to vault in TF as well as bars.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Could the TQ have all 3 (Biles, Eaker, Lee) doing AA, and either Carey or Skinner (one each, one on floor and one on vault)?Its a lot of IF’s, but if Skinner competes vault and Carey floor, then Skinner becomes eligible for the world cup circuit and the US could activate the “Italy strategy” of having gymnasts ranked 1-2 for an apparatus, guaranteeing the spot but also leaving wiggle room when naming the team of 4 (without risking losing a nominative spot)?

      As far as who is the 4th competitor on UB/BB, I suppose of the two, I’d put either up on UB and Skinner up as the 4th beam score in quals, since it’d be dropped pending a catastrophe from the other 3 (I question Eaker’s consistency on beam, but meh, I like her!).

      I’m leaning toward the theory that McCallum “has” to be the alternate considering she is such a true all-arounder, so if anyone (including Simone) were to get injured, McCallum could literally compete as an AA gymnast with serviceable scores on every event.

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  14. On twitter we heard that Grace hit bars this morning. If that means she did the Downie+Pak+Chow 1/2 connection that she broke up yesterday, she delivered a 6.3 D and is, somewhat surprisingly, probably on the team for that bars score that everyone has been looking for! Strange to think that of all things bars might be the standout event Grace has been looking for.

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  15. Does this team enable anyone to take a rest… and not have to burn themselves out with three days of competition? Like the medium players can still win the team final allowing the individual medal contenders to rest up for the individual events or all around competition?

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  16. I think most people are overlooking the fact that if the team was chosen based off just the AA results from camp, then Torrez would be a non-traveling alternate along with Wong and Hurd would be completely out. And if Torrez had hit beam and finished ahead of McCallum and possibly Carey, do we really think she’d be on the team? I don’t think so. I don’t necessarily agree with this team but I don’t think they were lazy and just went by the AA results from camp even if it appears to be that way.

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    1. My theory is that the team after yesterday was Biles, Lee, Eaker, Carey, Skinner, and Wong-that’s every single top 3 score from camp. This morning, though, McCallum did well on bars (per twitter) which I think combined with her overall stability (since Wong had the struggles on both VT/FX) got her on the team.

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    2. I see why you would think that , but the thing is, Torres doesn’t even have an FIG licence, therefore she can’t compete at Worlds (why would they take a gymnast to a World’s selection who cannot even compete, I don’t understand… ) So it might be a “lazy” AA selection after all because even the alternates were selected that way.

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