The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Women’s Olympic Trials – Day 2 Live Blog

One last day of this whole situation. 8:00 ET/5:00 PT.

So where are we?

Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, and Jordan Chiles were on the default team before trials and all did what they needed to do on day 1. Chiles’ buffer over the contending group is not a full fall, so she will be eager to hit floor closer to her capabilities today in order to keep herself in the top group should something go wrong on beam or whatever. But really it’s about the 4th spot. As it was, as it always will be.

MyKayla Skinner is currently in 4th place and would make up the highest-scoring team based on the situation on day 1. In terms of team-score permutations, she’s in control right now because her difficulty on vault and floor is the highest and she’s very, very likely to come up with the best vault score among the contenders.

But, Skinner had the beam routine of her elite life on the first day to end up exactly 1 tenth ahead of McCallum and 3 tenths ahead of DiCello. Can she keep up that all-around placement on day 2? And if she doesn’t, will her vault and maybe-floor be enough to get her on a team?

McCallum and DiCello both did well on the first day, but will be aiming for a few more tenths across the board on each event. McCallum will be eager to pick up that beam score and do what she did at nationals. McCallum outscoring Chiles on beam, even if it’s by a tenth, would be significant for her because it would give her another area to add tenths as a 4th member (and would make it harder for Skinner to beat her in the AA).

DiCello can also pick up some tenths on beam but will aim more toward getting her floor back into the 14s, where it was at nationals, and using a higher bars score to try to move up in the AA. DiCello has struggled on bars since the switch over to Senoh for nationals and trials, but she got a 14.600 on bars at Classic, and bringing back something close to that would be a game changer for her AA score.

Given the current state of the all-around standings, those three seem to be generally accepted as the ones in the race here. I will gladly die on the “but the team score with Leanne Wong is right there too” hill because the reason she’s way back in the all-around is her disastrous day 1 beam. If you’re using Biles, Lee, Chiles on beam, that doesn’t matter, but I don’t actually think she has a real-life shot at this point because of her current all-around placement.

For me, McCusker remains the frontrunner for the +1, but I also have exactly no idea how they’re going to interpret that spot, or what they’re going to value, or if they’re just going to cop out and pick the next person in the all-around. McCusker goes on bars right away today, so that will be a thing.

Also in the first rotation, McCallum and DiCello will both be on vault, a relatively risk-free event, but they will be eager to blunt the advantage that Skinner has in any possible way by improving on their 14.633 and 14.600 scores respectively from day 1. Skinner is on bars, which is a pretty much insignificant event for potential team contribution, but surviving it for another mid-13 will be critical for her ultimate placement.

Let’s get going.

Mike Tirico here to tell Tim how to pronounce “exclamation point.”

Nastia what. She’s going to just…flap away. Inspired by her old beam choreography.

The trio taking us through the team format. Sweating through the possibilities.

Rotation 1

Biles – VT 1 – Chengs with no problem – just a little foot cross, largeish bounce back. 15.400

Eaker through bars with a pretty piked jaeger.

Biles – VT 2 – Amanar – strong one of course, but also a large-ish bounce back.

“Sucks.:

McCusker – UB – h crap a fall on her opening toe full – resumes with toe full to maloney to tkatchev – Ricna to Pak to stalder Shapo 1/2 is good – hits dismount but a BIG OL DEAL. Will they take her for a +1 with a 1/2 performance at nationals? Who else do you even take?

Sunisa Lee with pretty good control for her on her DTY today. 14.600 for Lee. Puts potentially more emphasis on the floor scores today.

Chiles – VT – excellent DTY, great height, small hop. 14.933

Just 13.566 for Riley. The +1 is going to be chaos.

Skinner – UB – weiler 1/2 to maloney to tkatchev, hit, a little close – Ray, some elbows, connects fine into pak – crazy legs on van leeuwen but hit – full to Fabrichnova – chest a bit lower but a solid hit.

DiCello with a REALLY nice DTY landing, small hop in place. Should be a big number, close to Chiles. Yeah 14.833.

“Morgan Horde.”

Long wait on Skinner’s score. 13.500, about on track from day 1.

Malabuyo went 14.333 for a DTY.

Done with part 1 of the first rotation, the big news is the Riley fall, also Lee and DiCello improving on vault is significant.

Wong – UB – toe full, a bit late but connects into maloney to pak to van leeuwen, good legs together – stalder 1/2 to jaeger – cast 1/2 – stalder – DLO, lands deep with a lunge forward.

McCallum – VT – also a stronger DTY from her – small hop in place – some ragged legs but will be close to DiCello on that one. 14.766

Jones falls on bars and I hate everything.

McCallum and DiCello both move ahead of Skinner as expected because they were on vault and she was on bars, but because they both improved their numbers on those events more than Skinner did, they’ve tightened up the race even more.

Andrea, what is a “gymnastics don’t ever give up” campaign?

Carey – UB – hits Church to gienger – yezhova with some legs – maloney to bhardwaj, again som legs – toe shap 1/2, legs together – FTDT, small hop

We’re looking back at Skinner on bars. I love that they have no comments about her form whatsoever.

13.733 for Carey on bars. Higher than Riley’s score. Ouch.

So rotation 1 is done. I mean I’m still picking McCuskerr as my +1, but will they?

Laurie even giving us a standings update. She’s perfect.

Rotation 2

Chiles and Skinner will both be up to start this rotation.

Chiles – UB – piked jaerger, hit – toe full to tkatcehv – piked tkatchev to pak – a bit short on cast hs on low – maloney to gienger is clean – FTDT, stuck with a stagger. Solid.

Skinner held for TV.

Skinner – BB – rolls out of it a little quickly on candle mount but fine – bhs full, leg check but hit – side aerial – small pause before jumps – switch to switch 1/2, little pause before back tuck – straddle 1/2 from side with a larger leg uip break – hits straight full – L turn with a check to full turn – round off full in, chest well down with her head nearly on the mat with a lunge forward.

I counted about 7 tenths more in E deductions than the first day.

DiCello – UB – short first hs – talder full to stalder shap to tkatchev and falls. Devastating. Reumes with piked jaeger, piked tkatchev to pak to toe shap 1/2 – FTDT, hop.

13.400 for Skinner. Down 0.733 from the first day. I might be a seer.

Just 12.800 for Dicello. Skinner and DiCello both opening the door for McCallum if she can walk through it.

Malabuyo – UB – stalder full with legs – maloney to tkatchev, a bit low but hit – hesitation on cast hs – hits jaeger – pak – van leeuwen with legs apart – DLO 1/1, hop forward. A hit but a little off.

Wong – BB – switch to straddle, pretty – side aerial to loso, clean – L turn to full turn, slight teeter in L turn – switch ring, arm wave correction – aerial to split ring jump, pause in between – wolf jump 1/1, great – side somi, pauses before split jump 1/2 but good individual elements – 3/1 dismount, hop forward but a huge improvement.

McCallum – UB – a big one – stalder full, a bit late but connects into maloney to pak to stalder shap 1/2 – toe 1/2 to piked jaeger, a hair close – Ricna – cast 1/2 – FTDT, hop back. Some moments, not her cleanest, but a hit that will keep her in position.

14.000 for Wong on beam. Man, if she had hit beam on day 1, she would be right in this.

Also an even 14.000 for McCallum on bars, which is another improvement for her over the first day. She’s the one of the “contending 3” who is up on her day 1 scores at this point.

Carey – BB – full turn – aerial to split jump to straddle jump, hit – bhs loso loso with a lean correction – switch to switch 1/2 to back tuck, will get credit for that combo – split leap to side aerial – switch side – split jump 1/2 from side – bhs bhs double tuck, chest forward, small hop – a good one for her.

Clean bars for Drayton, but just a double tuck dismount. Nice work in the bars.

A look back at Shilese on beam – sissone to full turn, fab – arabian, hits it, just a bit deep – front tuck, solid – bhs loso series – side aerial, good – switch 1/2, short of split the normal amount – split jump 1/2 from side, hit – straddle 1/2 from side, really nice straddle position shown – bhs bhs double pike

Fatta finishes beam with a bounce back on her 2/1.

Biles – UB – weiler error, large pauses but works into the 1/2 with a leg break – maloney to tkatchev, hit – toe full to piked tkatchev to pak, no trouble – van leeuwen, hit – Fabrichnova with a bounce back – not a good one but doesn’t matter

Eaker opens beam with a very large wobble on her switch side – y turn – aerial to split to straddle is pretty – side aerial to loso, loso, pulls it out – switch to switch 1/2 to korbut – switch ring, pause – does korbut after – so that two korbut thing is by design.

Lee – UB – Nabieva to bhardwaj, does not do the combo today – van leeuwen – hit – piked jaeger to pak to maloney to gienger – hits – FTDT, small hop – really good execution though, even though not full D.

13.833 for Simone on bars. Could actually be significant for the highest-scoring team for today at least because McCallum did better than Simone on bars in that rotation.

McCallum has 4th place by about 1.3 now, which is…not a small margin. DiCello remains 5th and Skinner 6th. Skinner will pick up around a point in the final rotation.

14.900 for S Lee

Rotation 3

Malabuyo on beam – hits arabian this time with a check – nice triple series – front tuck is very solid split ring jump –

Wong – FX – double L, looked around – silivas, pretty solid, slide back, chest -nice whip to 3/1, very good landing – L hop full – switch ring – 2.5 to front full, gets the skill this time, short with a bounce back – double pike, very strong landing –

Good 14.200 for Malabuyo on beam.

E Lee – BB – full turn, nice – side aerial to loso to loso, hit – bhs bhs layout, high, large break, leg-up check – aerial to split to straddle – her side somi is nice – hits bhs bhs double pike dismount

14.233 for Wong on floor. HUGE number.

Jones went OOB on her 1.5 double tuck.

McCallum – BB – hits her wolf triple and wolf double – straddle jump 1/2 from side – split leap, pauses before side aerial to loso, loses a couple bonus tenths there – aerial, hit – sissone to full turn and a lARGE break on the full turn – A FULL TURN – round off and a stuck double pike. She stayed on to keep herself in good stead, but won’t be the big score she wanted.

NBC looking back at Eaker’s 14.566, which I felt was VERY high.

13.800 for McCallum, a little lower than the first day.

Emily Lee’s beam makes the broadcast on replay.

Oh Nastia, you’ve never been to a recess.

OH NEVER MIND NO IT DIDN’T the video cut out.

On NBC, Grace’s full turn on beam got an “oh boy” from Tim.

McCallum will remain up on her yesterday scores after three events. Skinner and DiCello are way down, and a big floor coming up for Skinner.

I really like the height Zoe Miller gets on her straight jump full from side position. Like it’s a real skill or something.

Checking in on Operation Leanne Wong on floor, where she got that 14.233.

Quite possible that Wong ends up in 4th place on her day 2 score.

Biles – BB – wolf triple, fine – aerial to split to straddle – bhs loso loso, solid – switch to switch 1/2 to back pike, good connection – side aerial and falls – very werid day from Simone – almost saved it for the most preposterous save ever, and no I kind of wish she had – bhs bhs FTDT, hop back.

We haven’t seen her this off on a day that often. I kind of can’t wait for the post-meet interviews.

13.700 for Simone beam

S Lee – BB – wolf triple, good, wolf double, hit – aerial to split to bhs, clean – switch ring, small hesitation to split leap – switch to switch 1/2 to split ring jump, very secure – side aerial to loso loso, nailed – bhs bhs 2/1, she’s ON tonight.

Skinner – FX – split leap 1.5, short of split but clearly around – Moors, lands OOB, possible both feet, a shuffle on landing, interesting – double double tucked is very strong – wolf turn double – full-in, good, small hop back – leg-up full and switch 1/2 – front to 2.5, and a large lunge forward and another OOB.

Apparently they didn’t put the flag up for the second OOB, which is incorrect. Closeup of the Moors, both feet did go out.

Chiles – BB –

Lee 14.733

Chiles – BB – side aerial to loso, solid – chest after aerial to break connection into split to bhs – side somi, solid – switch to switch 1/2 straddle 1/2 froms ide, lean forward – sissone to wolf is good – FTDT, hits it, chest down but only a small hop. Another good one.

Skinner goes 13.500 on floor. I thought it would be a bit lower. But that’s .733 lower than Wong, and she won’t pick that up on vault.

Eaker has moved ahead of Skinner in the AA, but that will be revised after vault.

Skinner would need McCallum to fall at this point for her AA hopes.

DiCello – BB – hits candle mount – wolf triple and wolf double are good – side aeerial, comfortable – switch to sissone, small lean – bhs loso loso, solid landing – aerial to straddle to split jump – straddle jump 1/2 – bhs bhs double tuck, very short but landed, hop forward. A good hit overall, but after that bars…

She needs a Wong score on floor now. But basically so does McCallum to amke her team case.

13.800 for DiCello’s beam. Same as McCallum there. That will keep her 5th AA. Behind McCallum.

Rotation 4

Carey will not vault either, which was basically my trials strategy for her: Do nothing.

Awesome DTY from Fatta. Great landing.

McCallum – FX – Stnading there forever, being held a long time for TV – OH NOOOO – tries her Silivas, lands all the way OOB with a huge bounce back – fromt lay to front 21, lunge forward, stays in – switch ring – split leap full – wolf triple to wolf double, good – full in is very short, large lunge forward again – double back, survives it.

I thought she had it before that routine.

She needs to survive that with a 13.

She still gets a 13.500. That’s EXTREMELY high. Will be controversial.

Skinner – VT – does the Cheng first this time, higher start – lunge back, fairly large for her, the rest was her usual.

15.266, also very high, not enough to pass McCallum in the AA, behind her by three tenths.

Amanr was a bit better than the Cheng, small step forward.

Interesting that she just said “last meet”. Like, you might make the Olympics, girl.

McCallum getting the same score as Skinner on floor. I’m sure we won’t talk about that forever.

Biles – FX – triple double, lunge back OOB, won’t be happy with this one either – Biles, lunge forward, no combination, OOB – swtich full – wolf turn triple was not around, will only get credit for double, or should I mean – front alyout full to full in, switch to split leap 1.5 – double double, very solid

14.600, just a 57.533 r Biles.

Lee – FX – Silivas is strong – double L is a 2.5 – 1.5 to front full with a hop forward – wolf triple around – wolf double, a littel off balance to start – double tuck, small hop – that will be a good number and will reduce the significance of floor a bit in today’s evaluation.

13.933 is a huge score for Lee. Bad news for Wong as it reduces the influence of her 14.233.

58.166 for Lee, which beats Biles on the day. Chiles cannot pass Lee for the second automatic spot.

Chiles – FX – wolf triple, some stumble on landing – DLO 1/1 is solid today, small hop – DLO, bounce back – switch to split leap 1,5, maybe a hair under – 2.5 to front full, small hop – double pike, bounce – great day for her, definitely on the team

Wong – VT – good DTY, small hop back. 14.700 gives her 56.733. Will be 4th AA on the day, but that day 1…

Jones – VT -a a hugely high DTY as always, little hop back. 14.900

DiCello – FX – double double tucked, bounces back OOB, not as large as McCallum’s but still significant – DLO, small slide – wolf triple is good – wolf double, solid – 1.5 to front full, somewhat short, lots of leg crossing – split leap full – double pike, bounce back

We still have Malabuyo and Emily Lee on floor, but I’m going to start crunching some numbers.

WELL FUCK MY LIFE. Trials ends with Emily Lee crunchung her ankle on her Silivas and having to stop.

Anyway, based on day 2 alone:

Biles, Lee, Chiles, Eaker: 174.064
Biles, Lee, Chiles, Wong: 173.898
Biles, Lee, Chiles, Skinner: 173.864
Biles, Lee, Chiles, Malabuyo: 173.698
Biles, Lee, Chiles, McCallum: 173.631
Biles, Lee, Chiles, DiCello: 173.531

However, using both average score and best score over the two days, you end up with the Skinner team as the highest-scoring team.

I feel like it’s probably down to Skinner and McCallum. if you’re doing a 3-up, 3-count permutation, you’re going with Skinner. If you’re taking the AA score, you’re going with McCallum.

I could see Eaker for the +1, but really I think McCusker’s Olympic-score peak is higher. Though I don’t think they will reward that fall.

NBC actually helpfully giving us the nationals + trials numbers, where Wong provides the most contribution. Let’s hope.

SHOT OF TOM WALKING. SHOT OF TOM WALKING.

And we have a team. McCallum takes the 4th spot, and Skinner is an individual with Carey.

Putting Skinner in the individual spot with Carey is actively the stupidest possible thing you could have done. Just the worst possible use of that spot. If you’re trying to waste it, you did the right thing.

They named 4 alterantes, DiCello, Eaker, Malabuyo, and Wong. The next in AA rank order.

No strategy employed here at all. Just going down the list.

Was that a try?

I get the argument that Skinner works as a built-in alternate, but that’s a total waste of a spot, then. You get a +1 and you just use that person as an alternate? If you’re concerned abou tthat person doing the AA as needed as a backup, then Eaker is right there, who wouldn’t have been my choice but at least gives you a different look for an EF, rather than overlapping with Carey.

It’s why McCusker was the best choice, because she gave you a potential bars finalist that you didn’t have on the team (Simone could of course make the bars final too, but you know). To me, that one fall should not have erased what she offered.

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