The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

US Nationals Women’s Day 2 – Live Commentary

Pre-meet notes:

-Laurie Hernandez has withdrawn from the competition after her day 1 knee injury. If she were to continue in the process, she would have to petition to trials, but is that really going to be accepted since she hasn’t shown Olympic Trials-level gymnastics this year?

-Uchimura has been named to Japan’s Olympic squad as their +1. The men’s team of four will be Hashimoto, Kaya, Tanigawa W, and Kitazono.

-Katelyn Jong won the US junior title earlier today, with Madray Johnson 2nd, Kaliya Lincoln 3rd, Joscelyn Roberson 4th, and Kailin Chio 5th.

-17 US men have already been named to the national team/trials based on their championship performance, and that doesn’t even include Yoder yet, who will need to be added. It’s a big group. Trials fields used to be that big but haven’t had that many people in a long time.

I’m certainly looking at how McCallum and DiCello fare today because they have low AA placements after mistakes on day 1, but they’ll both advance to trials anyway, so it’s not the end of the world regardless of what happens.

But, as things look right now (and they change every day), Biles, Chiles, and Lee are compelling options and that fourth spot is all over the place. Comparing the scores from the likes of McCallum, DiCello, and Wong to see how they match into that team will be an important national pastime.

I’m also curious to see where we stand with people like Hurd and Memmel and whether they advance to trials—and whether Hurd can recover for a better showing on her events today.

The first half of the first rotation will have Biles, Chiles, and Memmel on beam. So how is NBC going to manage the “oh you don’t get to see the beginning” schedule with that one? Their whole game is in those first 10 minutes.

Rotation 1

In terms of things they’re not going to show us anyway, Eaker fell on bars to start off for a 12.700. She had a good AA finish the first day, but really she’s going to have to start performing THE BEAMS and do it now.

A 13.850 for Malabuyo on bars is a very strong number again. She’s on track to automatically advance to trials, which I would not have picked a few months ago.

Chiles returns to getting 14s on beam with a 14.050, and it seems we have a Memmel Arabian fall again. Le sigh.

OK so Chiles hit beam, Memmel didn’t. Basically that’s our night.

14.000 for Wong on bars is a big deal for her AA hopes.

Just 12.150 for Memmel on beam.

And now the broadcast has started.

Biles – BB – OH LOOK WE’RE JUST IN TIME FOR SIMONE – wolf triple, no trouble – aerial to split to straddle, a bit tight, fine and secure – bhs loso loso, right on – switch to switch 1/2, again a check to break the combo to back pike but not as larger of a break as night 1 – side aerial, small check – straddle 1/2 and split 1/2 from side position are connected tonight – bhs bhs full-in dismount, small hop back, good chest up.

Very strong start.

Chiles – BB – replay of her routine – side aerial to a single loso, REALLY crooked and a good save to barely even check, did leave out a loso – aerial to straddle – side somi, leg-up check – switch and switch 1/2, short of split on switch 1/2 and some legs – straddle 1/2 from side is secure – sissone to wolf – FTDT dismount is a lot better, chest lower and a lunge, but solid.

14.900 on beam for Biles.

Carey on VT now – stays with the DTY, overdoes it with a large bounce back. Only a little leg crossing. Small pike throughout.

Carey’s second vault is the Lopez, and again a large bounce back out of it. If she weren’t already qualified we would be very concerned about this. But…

Score is up for McCallum, which is just 13.150 on bars, only a tenth better than her miss from the first day.

S Lee – FX – double double tucked, lands pretty well under control, chest more down today, small hop – switch ring looks good – split full is around – will get credit for double L turn, pretty – 1.5 to front full, small hop – wolf triple and wolf double, smooth, flexes her foot initiating the triple but that’s about it – double tuck, a little off balance on landing, we couldn’t see whether she was OOB on that last pass, but her chest position there was a lot better.

DiCello also only just 13.550 on bars. That’s a lot better than day 1 but not what she should be scoring on bars. She makes her case with mid-high 14s on bars. I hope we get to go back and see those routines.

Skinner 13.050 on beam. She was 12.550 with a fall on day 1.

13.700 for Lee with a 0.1 OOB. That’s around what she got on the first day, but this routine was stronger. Score more realistic than some of the rainbow unicorn bows given out on day 1.

Now we’re checking in on Chellsie to rub salt in the wound. Highlights of her bars in 2008, but taking out the audio of Al saying it’s her last routine ever. La la la.

Maintain that Chellsie’s husband is a professional forest.

Memmel – BB – check on switch mount – split to straddle is good – bhs los loso, check, some knees – aerial – popa, around for credit – side aerial, quite secure – front tuck, deep but held it – illusion turn, little arm wave bend – arabian and falls – double pike, lunge back.

Well crappit.

Blakely also got a very good number for her DTY, 14.550.

In the overall standings, DiCello sits in 8th, McCallum down to 10th, Blakely up to 6th.

Back from commercial. Oh god Peng is so loud.


Anyway Shilese Jones went 15.000 for a DTY with a 9.6 E score.

Rotation 2

Biles – FX – triple double is very strong again, not quite as good as day 1, a little short, small hop – Biles lands short and doesn’t connect into stag, stakes a shuffle back – switch full – wolf triple is good – front full to full in, lunge back OOB – split leap 1.5 is around – double double is very strong, small slide.

So struggled a little on the Biles I, though far less OOB than yesterday, I counted only .1.

The obsession gymnastics commentators have in making sure You Appreciate How Hard This Is is very off-putting. Like, I don’t watch things because they’re hard. I don’t want live coal mining.

Lee – VT – hits her DTY again, a little under rotated just like the first day, pretty large bounce back

McCusker went 15.100 on bars. Hope we go back to see that.

Wong – BB – switch to straddle, good – side aerial to loso, hit, small check – L turn, very composed into full turn – switch and totally botched it, balked on it and has to redo – redoes with a switch ring – aerial, small check before split ring jump, another arm wave – wolf jump full, a little under rotated – split leap to side somi is hit – straddle 1/2 from side, another check – 3/1, more under rotated than the first day – lunge back.

Simone 14.950 on floor. Lee 14.300 for vault.

Carey – UB – Church is hit – blind, yezhova, hit – maloney to bhardwaj, nice height, only a little leg break – van leeuwen, some form but hit – giant full, late – FTDT, small hop. Good.

Just 12.700 for Wong on beam. She needs another floor 14 today.

McCallum – BB – candle mount, rolls quickly out of it – wolf triple and wolf double, solid – straddle 1/2, bit of a lean – split leap to side aerial to loso, hit, pulls it around – aerial, solid – sissone to full turn, check – double pike, step back. Another mostly solid beam for her.

13.600 for Carey.

DiCello is getting the “and none for Kayla bye” so far, but she fell on beam.

13.750 for Skinner on floor is a thing for her.

McCallum another 14.200 on beam.

My favorite story we’ve heard so far is that Leanne gets mad at her parents for giving her too many compliments. I identify with this so strongly.

I’m concerns that the Chiles floor routines is like THREE PEOPLE away and they’re already teasing it. We’re not seeing any other routines before that, are we?

13.650 for Emily Lee on beam.

Update on Laurie’s withdrawal.

Eaker – BB – switch mount, hit but not connected – switch side, pretty – y spin, better – aerial to split ring jump, small arm adjustment – side aerial to loso to loso is right on – sissone to split leap to side somi, very good again – switch to switch 1/2 to korbut, definitely connected – switch ring, low back leg, small hop – bhs 2.5 dismount, very strong.

Definitely her best routine of the year. That was more like it.

A look back at DiCello going right over on her candle mount and hopping right off. 12.550.

Still just 14.200 for Eaker. Same as McCallum and only .150 ahead of Chiles, so still not really a beam specialist kind of score.

Chiles – FX – hits wolf triple, slightly orthopedic position in the turn – DLO 1/1 is excellent again, a bit more of a bounce back – DLO, small slide – switch through to split leap 1.5, perahps a tad under but probably enough for credit – front 2/1 to front 1/1 is nearly a problem again, lands short with a side to the side and some tucking but better than day 1 – double pike, too easy, her largest bounce back of the routine.

Jordan collapsed onto the mat. Ready for NCAA performing.

14.000 on floor for Chiles. That works.

Things remain Biles-Lee-Chiles-Carey.

Emma Malabuyo got 14.600 (!!!!) on beam. She’s now up to 5th AA. Wong is down to 7th, McCallum 9th, DiCello 14th.

Rotation 3

Skinner – VT – Tim thinks floor comes after vault. Hits her Cheng, pikes it down and has some tucking. Bounce back. I actually think that one was weaker than her first day 1, which was a tenth lower. 15.000 for this. Hits her Y2.5, just a little short with a hop back. Good work

S Lee – UB – Niabeiva with a lot of straddle into bhardwaj, no connection out of it today – van leeuwen – piked jaeger to pak – maloney to gienger – giant full – FTDT, stuck landing with a stagger.

I LOVE that she has so many different routine options. This was a totally different order than on day 1.

Foot hit after the Bhardwaj as well it seems. Still 14.900, which because of the lower D, means she got the same E as the first day.

As we’re still not seeing much of McCallum/DiCello, McCallum went only 13.400 on floor, but DiCello got 14.050, which she really needed after the first two events.

A look back at Jade on beam – aerial to split to straddle, secure – bhs loso and walks back out of it, no more connection – switch to switch 1/2 to back tuck is quicky – side aerial, check – switch side – split jump 1/2 from side, solid landing, foot form – bhs bhs double tuck, lunge back. Just 12.750.

14.250 on beam for Blakely – Blakely is going to enjoy a BIG score lift after night 2.

Finally get our first look at Nastia Stefani for the night. Does she travel with a suitcase full of hair?

Chiles – VT – excellent DTY as always, though a bit less control in the landing with a more sizable hop back – leg cross at the end, slightly off line. Good. 14.900

Chiles – VT 2 – Tsuk full – just extremely clean in the air – bounce back, beautiful.

Memmel – VT – rough DTY today, ended up putting her hand down, couldn’t get it all the way around. Just 13.100.

14.400 on bars for Jones is a huge number.

Biles – VT 1 – actually even more distance on her Cheng than the first day, though a bounce back this time. Casual 15.500 with a 9.550 E score.

Tim literally just repeating Nastia about Simone’s technique.

Biles – VT 2 – Amanar, huge again obviously, another pretty large bounce forward.

Talking about Maroney. Very clearly a jackal producer was in Tim’s ear being like, “TALK ABOUT NOT IMPRESSED FACE.” Ugh.

Wong – FX – double L, lovely – doubel double tucked, chest well down, but landed – whip to 3/1 is a problem, large awkward stagger – L hop full – switch ring – 2.5 to front full, much better, secure landing, some leg crossing – double pike, lunge back – better second 1/2 but that’s not going to get her close to the 14 she would want after that low beam score.

Hurd got 11.600 on beam. Yikes.

13.600 for Wong on floor. She’ll be down out of the top 8 now, but does get to finish on vault.

Wait, Terry and Paula Pell went to elementary school together?!?! Why haven’t we talked about that instead of anything else?

Back to look at Morgan’s beam. A fall on the tuck full, again on the side aerial to loso.

A look back on Malabuyo’s floor. Oh, beam, we were looking for beam. But this is fine too – DLO, a bit chest downy – full in, pretty comfortable, some form at the end – switch ring – split leap 1.5, a little soft in the air but around for credit – double tuck, shuffle – finishes front tuck to double pike, chest down, hop forward

Going to get interesting for these top 8 spots.

Rotation 4

Emily Lee is done with a 54.550 today, which is a really solid AA for her. Eaker ends with 13.900 VT and a 54.500 total, similar to her first day because she improved on beam and floor a lot but had the bars miss.

Ooooh a throwback to Riley’s bars from 80 hours ago – full to maloney to tkatchev looks great – Downie, comfortable – Ricna to pak to stalder shap 1/2, very clean – higgins – double front 1/2 out, only a small shuffle to the side.

Hot damn, a 14.100 on vault gives Malabuyo a 56.000 today! Skye Blakly also got a 55.700. Way better.

Chiles – UB – blind to piked jaeger, catches a little close but fine – toe full, good finish position into tkatchev – piked tkatchev to pak, strong – a couple handstand angles – maloney to gienger – FTDT, stuck landing. Well there now. Excellent.

Tim trying to make “DID LAURENT TOUCH HER” happen and he obviously didn’t.

14.600 for Chiles on bars. Big deal.

Oh, Nastia, they never had pop quizzes at Valeri Academy, and we all know it.

57.550 for Chiles. Her best AA score ever.

Memmel – UB – falls on her opening Hindorff – resumes on the low bar – maloney to clear hip and has to hop off again like she did on night one – and she’s going to salute and walk off.

Well, we’ll always have night 1.

Shilese Jones just 11.750 on beam after a series balk.

1.00 D score and a 3.950 for Memmel on bars. Like, thanks a lot?

Biles – UB – weiler 1/2 to maloney, legs – to tkatchev, good – toe full to piked tkatchev to pak, no trouble – arch in handstand on low, pulls it back – van leeuwen, solid leg positions – double double tucked, small hop.

Jordan in tears, Simone telling her she deserves it. So glad everyone was talking over it.

Wong 14.550 vault, McCallum 14.500 vault, DiCello 14.400 vault.

14.700 for Simone, 60.100 final.

Wong – VT – a look back at a fine DTY, chest forward a little bit more this time.

Lee – BB – triple and double wolves, very smooth – aerial to split to bhs, lovely split, good rhythm in combo – switch ring to split leap, shows solid back leg height on her ring – switch to switch 1/2 to split ring jump, just slight form there – side aerial to loso loso, pulls it around but a wobble on the last one – leg up – 2/1 dismount, small hop. Nice.

Hurd got another 12.600 on floor.

Carey – FX – starts with the Moors – really clean, showing better second salto shape than she used to – bounce back – heel drop on doubel L turn – front layout, legs apart, to full in, small hop – L hop full – switch full, around – DLO, holds the landing well despite coming in a little short – double tuck, bounce back. A bit better than day 1.

Lee goes 14.700 on beam to move .500 ahead of Chiles.

Skinner went 13.500 on bars, but that’s going to see her come up just shy of McCallum and Blakely for the automatic trials spots once Carey’s floor score comes in.

13.650 for Carey on floor brings her into 6th.

Malabuyo finished 4th you guys.

So, automatically to Trials are Biles, S Lee, Chiles, Malabuyo, Wong, Carey, Blakely, and McCallum. And then presumably a crop ton of other people will be added. Certainly Skinner, Eaker, DiCello, McCusker. I would assume Jones and Emily Lee.

Then it’s going to get interesting to see what they do with Hurd. (And Memmel and Hernandez I suppose.)

1. Biles – 119.650
2. S Lee – 114.950
3. Chiles – 114.450
4. Malabuyo – 110.450
5. Wong – 110.150
6. Carey – 110.000
7. Blakely – 109.550
7. McCallum – 109.550

So trials/national team news is out, and they did not advance Morgan Hurd to trials. I have some thoughts. Her performances here certainly weren’t putting her in contention and didn’t merit a trials spot, and it’s honestly unlikely she was getting back to a high enough level in the next three weeks, but also they advanced Amari Drayton, Addison Fatta, Zoe Miller, and Ava Siegfeldt to Trials, who are never in a million years making the Olympic team. But you couldn’t give Hurd three more weeks on the outside chance she could put an all-around together? Doesn’t really track for me.

Also Aleah Finnegan is not on the trials team. She’s stronger than several who made it.

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