The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

World Championship Preview: All-Around

Let’s just cut to the chase here. No dilly dallying. Or “well, maybe if she basdkjfas;dlskfjas;ldkf.” Simone’s going to win the all-around title. After we get that out of the way, the subject always turns to [insert 2nd American here] who will win [insert silver or bronze here].

The performances of Sunisa Lee at US Nationals and the selection camp—where she just broke 58 AA—have established her as the odds-on favorite to win silver at worlds. It is not prohibitive and not a fall-resistant margin, but given the level that we’ve seen from her (and even accounting for home gifts), Lee has started to establish a clear advantage over the remainder of the mortals. At this point, we can’t say it’s a toss-up for silver. Lee has become the favorite for that position.

It’s also somewhat unusual to have a basically unanimous favorite for the second American spot in the all-around final. Usually we’re like, “WELP WHO KNOWS ALY GABBY JORDYN,” but this year it really should be Lee unless there are issues in qualification.

And then we move to the bronze medal. The non-American medalist of choice this year seems to be European champion Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos. What with that European championship and all. She’s the only non-US senior gymnast to have broken 57 in the AA this year (which she achieved at the semi-soft French nationals, but still), and DJDS is the most realistically high-scoring and well-rounded gymnast across four events among the rest of the field.

Part of me wants to just be like, “OK, end of preview.”

But there’s absolutely the opportunity for plenty of other people to medal, and I haven’t done any charts yet, so let’s get into it.

Here are my all-around top 25 rankings for the competitors at worlds. This uses average score on each event in 2019, dropping the low. For these rankings, I have included everyone appearing on worlds rosters, even if I don’t think they’ll actually do the AA in qualification, or if I think they’ll end up being the alternate, because we don’t actually know yet.

I didn’t round up in the actual calculations because I’m not a basic catfish, but I did round to three places in this chart for the purpose of display.

1Simone Biles15.42514.38814.77514.95059.538
2Sunisa Lee14.20014.76714.18314.15857.308
3Grace McCallum14.69214.05013.94613.96756.654
4Melanie DJDS14.71714.20813.54813.71756.189
5Kara Eaker14.02813.69514.81213.51756.052
6Liu Tingting13.48414.57114.61713.20655.877
7Ellie Black14.50614.07413.68813.55355.823
8Ana Padurariu13.75814.46814.12813.46755.821
9Jade Carey14.99413.17513.30014.28655.755
10MyKayla Skinner14.86713.42513.65013.80055.742
11Asuka Teramoto14.78313.91213.41613.33355.444
12Tang Xijing13.67514.23314.30613.12555.339
13Nina Derwael13.56614.97813.67313.06655.283
14Li Shijia13.80013.58814.75013.10055.238
15Angelina Melnikova14.30014.29113.16213.28355.035
16Giorgia Villa14.56713.85313.54412.86054.823
17Brooklyn Moors13.60013.19214.05013.78954.630
18Sarah Voss14.43313.20013.66713.25054.550
19Ellie Downie14.51313.84012.80013.39054.543
20Elisabeth Seitz14.01314.71012.48913.27754.488
21Hitomi Hatakeda14.03114.11913.22513.02254.397
22Giulia Steingruber15.00012.80013.53313.05054.383
23Flavia Saraiva14.41312.92313.17813.75654.270
24Alice Kinsella14.28313.90013.13312.95354.270
25Georgia Godwin13.94413.52813.15213.53054.153

A number of things:

There are people who should be on this list but have enough misses this season to take their averages well down, like Diana Varinska. Using simply the eye test or the ambiguous-expectation test, she’d be on this list with people like Bachynska and Golgota, and I’d bump some others off.

Grace McCallum finds herself third here. I don’t have McCallum as part of the team of 5 right now because putting her in place of any of the others would lower the squad’s TF scoring potential and require some more Excel rage, but if she does make it on the team, she probably has the best chance among the Americans of unseating Lee for the second place in the AA.

De Jesus Dos Santos does rank as the highest non-American here, but her margin ahead of Liu Tingting and Ellie Black is not large. Liu Tingting has been working the DTY, but it has sounded, er, um, questionable. If that vault is together, then look out.

The DTY note should also be kept in mind regarding Li Shijia and Tang Xijing, who don’t have any real-life DTY scores to go off of yet. If they deliver those vaults at worlds, bump both of them up several places in the list above.

Nina Derwael has shown vault and floor in competition just once this year. Bars and beam can carry her far enough that VT/FX don’t have to be great, but we barely know where they are on the spectrum at all. Likewise, it’s easy to think of Ana Padurariu as just bars and beam, but those events are so good, that she can get away with an FTY and still be in this conversation. Note Canadian domestic scoring, though.

Angelina Melnikova is a more compelling contender than average score gives her credit for being, and I’d say that holds for Giorgia Villa as well. Both have suffered enough falls this year bring their averages down, but performing actual, solid meets (I know) should see them close to the top because they have some of the highest scoring ability of the entire class.

What, did you think I would abandon peak score of the year as a measure altogether? Bah.

1Simone Biles15.65014.75014.95015.10060.450
2Sunisa Lee14.55015.05014.55014.33358.483
3Grace McCallum14.80014.55014.45014.25058.050
4Kara Eaker14.20014.10015.40014.0557.750
5Melanie DJDS15.00014.65014.10013.96657.716
6Ana Padurariu13.90014.92514.87513.86657.566
7Ellie Black14.70014.55014.03314.15057.433
8Giorgia Villa14.85014.75014.46713.30057.367
9Angelina Melnikova14.46614.60013.60014.06656.732
10Liu Tingting13.56714.63314.96713.36756.534
11Jade Carey15.06613.30013.50014.60056.466
12Ellie Downie14.50014.60013.33314.00056.433
13Asuka Teramoto14.93314.06613.70013.63356.332
14Tang Xijing13.80014.35014.66713.35056.167
15MyKayla Skinner15.05013.50013.75013.85056.150
16Georgia-Mae Fenton14.00014.80013.80013.40056.000
16Li Shijia13.80014.05015.05013.10056.000
18Alice D’Amato14.80014.65013.23313.25055.933
19Nina Derwael13.56615.30013.80013.06655.732
20Diana Varinska13.80014.40013.95013.55055.700
21Asia D’Amato14.90014.05013.43313.30055.683
22Georgia Godwin14.20013.67513.83313.96655.674
23Elisabeth Seitz14.50014.90012.70013.50055.600
24Flavia Saraiva14.60013.26613.83313.90055.599
25Eythora Thorsdottir14.20013.85013.80013.66655.516

Most tellingly, we see Villa and Melnikova move up the rankings when using peak score, and these positions are more representative of where I see them in the medal conversation. They should be considered in that Ellie Black group of contenders.

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