But Why?: Reflections on the US Olympic Team

We officially have the US women’s Olympic squad. The four-woman team will be Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, and Grace McCallum, and the two individual competitors are Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner.

Which makes total sense and is logically sound at every turn.

Just kidding, it’s a clown fire, obviously.

So let’s get into it. We always knew it was going to be extremely close for the fourth spot on this team, and it ended up being even closer than that. But if we dive into the actual numbers from Olympic Trials, this is what we see.

Based on each athlete’s best score from trials on each event, we end up with these 3-count team scores

Biles, Lee, Chiles, Skinner: 177.662
Biles, Lee, Chiles, Wong: 177.396
Biles, Lee, Chiles, McCallum: 177.395
Biles, Lee, Chiles, Eaker: 177.329
Biles, Lee, Chiles, Jones: 177.296
Biles, Lee, Chiles, DiCello: 177.262

And based on each athlete’s average score from the two days of trials, we end up with these 3-count team scores

Biles, Lee, Chiles, Skinner: 175.080
Biles, Lee, Chiles, Wong: 174.981
Biles, Lee, Chiles, Eaker: 174.831
Biles, Lee, Chiles, McCallum: 174.730
Biles, Lee, Chiles, Jones: 174.681
Biles, Lee, Chiles, DiCello: 174.647

In both methods, the team with MyKayla Skinner comes out on top, followed by the team with Leanne Wong. The team with McCallum is in third and fourth place respectively.

What we saw at trials was a team of Biles, Lee, and Chiles that didn’t really need any help, but the routine that provided the biggest boost to the score was Skinner’s vault, thanks to her difficulty. That’s why I would have selected Skinner for for the fourth spot. She earned it with her results at trials more than the other contenders.

Now, it is very close and there are absolutely valid reasons to want someone like McCallum (though this argument also extends to Wong and DiCello) on that team instead of Skinner despite Skinner making up the highest-scoring group. Most significantly, McCallum provides more realistic routines on all four pieces. She would be a better Swiss army knife to slot into any and every role should someone get super injured, or someone get “I’m kind of injured but you don’t want to remove me from the team because I can still do bars,” or if you simply want to rest someone in the team final because it’s a long event and you’re going to win anyway.

There’s a reasonable and viable strategy behind selecting a non-Skinner, and it would have been more reassuring had Tom Forster cited something in that vicinity as a reason for selecting McCallum. Because it would have meant there was…any kind of strategy or idea here, or any reason for a person to be in this job instead of just a piece of paper with the all-around standings on it.

Instead, we got this cute little gem:

But isn’t the process…selecting an Olympic team? So wouldn’t “the integrity of the process” involve selecting the highest-scoring Olympic team based on the athletes’ results?

Tom says he didn’t want to change the integrity of the process, but he himself did change the integrity of the process by actively revoking the highest-scoring team and instead selecting a different individual, one who ranked as the third- or fourth-best option for that spot based on the actual results of trials.

He repeatedly said he wanted “the athletes to select themselves,” but that’s what Skinner did by being part of the highest-scoring team. McCallum didn’t select herself because she wasn’t part of the highest-scoring team. Forster and the committee are the ones who intervened to select McCallum in contradiction to what the results of trials dictated—exactly what they claim to want to avoid.

It’s like he’s stuck in a perpetual state of 1996 and is unwilling to recognize that individual all-around scores have no bearing on the team final score because of 3-up, 3-count and therefore should not be considered if the purported aim is to select the best team, or select the athletes who earned it with their results on the day, or to remove politics from the selection. He actively did not select the athlete who earned it with her scores and actively injected politics into the selection.

But that’s not even the weirdest part. I can get on board with the McCallum team. The reasoning behind it is pretty suspect, but the team itself makes plenty of sense, and I fully support the ability of a team selector to reject the highest-scoring team from a single trial if there’s a good reason to do so. But you need to cite that good reason, not a bad one.

The flat-out stupidest aspect of selection is the placement of Skinner in a +1 position along with Carey solely because she finished 5th all-around, even though that’s nothing, especially for an individual spot.

Skinner and Carey are two gymnasts with the exact same strengths and event final prospects who will cancel each other out at the Olympics, making this a supreme act of self-sabotage on the part of the selectors. The US already had two vault medal contenders locked onto the team in Biles and Carey, as well as two floor medal contenders in Biles and almost anyone else on the team depending on the day. The US in no way needed to add another potential medalist on those events because they were already highly likely to have two coming out of the previously established five team members. That’s just a waste.

Can Skinner come in and make the vault final and win a vault medal at the Olympics? Absolutely. At this point, she looks like a favorite to do so, but that doesn’t improve the USA’s medal haul because she’s just knocking Carey—whose trials Amanar showed that while she might lose to Skinner, she’s still able to vault among the best in the world—out of that spot.

The US is strong enough that the goal should be to put two potential medalists into every single final, and when already presented with Biles, Lee, Chiles, and Carey, the one remaining hole is a second possible medalist on bars to go along with Lee. That’s why Riley McCusker was such an obvious selection for the additional +1. Her bars added something that the other five did not already have, and selecting her despite a fall on the second day would have been an excellent example of a team director ignoring a single result (McCusker went 5 for 6 on bars this year) for a good reason: the selection of McCusker would have given the US more medal prospects.

I also do not subscribe to the notion that the +1 needed to function as a built-in all-around alternate. Only three people need to go in the team final on each event, and you have a team of four. Grace McCallum is already your built-in alternate. And if you’re really that worried about having a fourth routine in qualification should someone go down at the last minute, Jade Carey is right there. The other +1 absolutely did not need the all-around too.

For all the focus this year on how Jade Carey might lose the US an extra Olympic spot based on her team decision, Tom Forster effectively did just that himself by selecting Skinner for the +1 and placing two athletes in the individual positions who will function as a single gymnast, vying against each other for event final spots that only one of them can take. For all intents and medal-contending purposes, the US women now have five Olympians instead of six.

47 thoughts on “But Why?: Reflections on the US Olympic Team”

  1. Maybe this is stupid but I have a theory as to why they didn’t bring Riley:

    Unless she hit with a 15 every meet, there’s no way they were ever taking her. Why? Because with 2 bars specialists, there’s a chance that Simone would be 2-per’d out of the bars final. No bars final for Simone, no chance for her to earn an Olympic medal on every event. I think either the selection committee or USAG wants to give Simone every medal opportunity possible, which means getting her into that bars final, which she’s capable of doing.

    It’s not the smartest choice score wise, and it sucks for Riley (even though I have doubts that she’d even medal at all), but that’s my theory. Personally I would have put Mykayla on the team with either Grace or Kara as the +1. I still don’t think I’d send Riley as she’s had consistency and health issues, and she didn’t hit at trials when she needed to.

    1. But that still does not explain the team decision. I can understand not taking Riley. But skinner earned a spot on that Olympic team, not an individual but the team. Wong earned a shot on the team. But Tom once again ignoring all logic went with rank order.

      1. The best explanation I can think of is he just wanted another all arounder to be able to take on any event on a team final, should they decide to rest one of the others. It’s not an invalid strategy, and would have been perfectly acceptable if he had A, said that he was going to make that a factor from the beginning, or B, used that as justification for putting Grace on the team after the team was chosen. But since he did neither of those things I’m confused on that front as everybody else 🤷‍♂️

  2. If someone on the team of 4 gets injured before the start of competition, are they able to call up Jade or MyKayla to the team and sub an alternate in as an individual, or are those two locked in to their individual spots? I would think that they can’t sub someone for Jade since she got a nominative spot, but I wasn’t sure how that would work for MyKayla’s spot.

    Also, the MyKayla pick makes me wonder if they think Jade is not going to be up to snuff for the Olympics. Although it’s probably more likely that it was just that MyKayla was too good to leave off the team and she can make event finals whereas Grace won’t, so they divided up the two spots that way.

    1. I believe Jade’s spot is hers bc she earned it through World Cups, so they can’t slot someone else into her spot. Mykayla’s belongs to the US, so I think they could put an alternate in there. Someone correct me if I am wrong though.

  3. Skinner on the main team still could potentially knock out Jade Carey so being the +1 instead of the team mean nothing in terms of a 2 per country. So whether Skinner was on the team or as an individual doesn’t matter in terms of “fairness to Jade.

    Unfortunately, McCusker missed a bars set during Trials and only showed once that she could go above 15 to challenge for a medal. 14.4-14.8 was likely not going to medal without a few falls in finals. McCusker was also carrying an injury.

    After she took herself out of the running there was no viable +1 and Eaker was not showing it on beam either, especially with Suni outscoring her on both days of Trials and Simone falling day 2.

    With a team of Carey, Suni, Chiles, and Biles they have event finals covered so the 4th team member and other +1 were always going to be potentially 2 per’ing someone out if finals. Hell. Carey got 2 per’d out of floor in Stuttgart.

    At the end of the day, McCallum was 4th, consistent across two nights of competition, has scored well internationally, has been on two previous World teams, and can fill any hole in team finals, plus makes a strong lead off performer in TQ.

    Skinner vs McCallum with .3 over the average of all the meets is so minute. McCallum makes sense over Skinner due to UB and BB.

    1. Yes and no. Taking Skinner for the team would at least be screwing Jade for the benefit of the team. Harsh, but you know, patriotism and stuff. Now it’s just screwing Jade for the sake of? Mykayla and her fan’s feelings??? Retribution for 2016? Revenge?

    2. See, I agree with this. Three tenths across several competitions is negligible in the long run, especially on a team where it won’t make a difference. Skinner deserved a ticket to Tokyo and no matter where you placed her, she had the potential to 2-per someone out of finals. Riley doesn’t have a bar routine that is medal worthy internationally and the U.S. has no other bar workers to give the +1 position to. Any other athlete you added to the team or as an individual will risk knocking a teammate out of finals. In addition, McCallum is stronger all around and can pick up the slack on any event in a pinch whereas Skinner cannot. In light of all those things, this arrangement makes sense. The only other person who would fit in as the 4th team member as well as McCallum does is Wong, but she’s not dependable enough in my opinion. She’s gorgeous when she hits, but can also be a complete disaster and you never know which Leanne will show up that day. I do know that this whole situation as brought to light the fact that the U.S. needs to go back to their junior program and work harder on uneven bars.

  4. I have to wonder if there is a chance of a last-minute swap of Grace and Skinner based on Olympic training camps these next few weeks. If Skinner’s beam and floor can build from her day 1 trials, she’d almost be the better “you could put her anywhere” gymnast.

    Either way, this selection is dreadful. Just swapping McCallum and Skinner would have been reasonable if Tom felt compelled to pick the top 5 athletes.

    His “integrity of the process” comment is such meaningless BS. I think he’s too unaware to realize that his mousy, noncommittal responses to questions over the past few years have caused considerable confusion. He effectively kept gymnasts in the dark regarding what he was looking for which is basically what Martha did (at least her last 2 Olympic teams made sense).

    Tom is a horrendous communicator, noncommittal, and has added nothing of value to the US women’s team. Sure he seems nicer, but he’s absolutely literally worthless. They could have fired Tom years ago, cancelled the gym scoring software account, and disbanded the “selection committee” and you would not have noticed a thing was different.

    Maybe the goal is to have an impotent automaton as the women’s coordinator – basically a corpse to fill a position. However, that is a course correction so far in the other direction that they’ve gone off the other side of the cliff.

    I am already fearful of the backlash Grace is going to receive from this decision that she had no part of. I am hoping for her sake that she can provide at least 2 value-added routines to the team final just so her spot looks more justified. If she ends up competing a mediocre DTY in the team final as her sole contribution, there will be no end to the drama.

    1. My issue with Forester is that he was disingenuous about the whole process. If you’re going to just take the top 5 AA with the top 4 as the team, I think the athletes deserved to know that going in. Especially someone like Riley who was potentially putting a college career on the line by competing injured. If she truly had no chance of getting the +1 position, she could’ve pulled out of trials weeks ago and spent time healing which would’ve served her better. I don’t have an issue with the end result since an argument could be made for why it was done that way, but it should’ve been relayed up front so everyone knew what was expected of them.

    2. you would have noticed things were different. USAG would have had more money in their pockets.

    3. I’m less sold on the “Skinner can go anywhere” argument. In a pinch she could. She has usable all-around for sure. But the most likely routine they may want is actually bars in TF, right? I recall Simone resting out UB in 2016 to keep her from literally competing four full all-arounds. If that’s the plan this year too, the McCallum choice makes a lot more sense to me. I wouldn’t want to go in planning to use Skinner on bars in TF (which is very different than being OK using her if there was an injury). With Lee outscoring all of the contenders but Wong on Day 2, I feel like what they may have actually benefitted most from was a VT/UB person. Which the US doesn’t really have.

      1. Simone is our second highest uneven bar score. She will probably qualify for the event final. She’s going up in the team final. This isn’t 2016 were here bars were just average.

      2. So now I’m sad because the VT/UB person is totally Shilese but since she fell at trials she lost all her chance:/ I want her to be a bit more consistent because she could do wonders

    4. It is interesting because they put both Suni and Grace on the world championships team where they made MyKayla be the alternate again and both Grace and Suni had falls. But I am not trying to knock them in any way. I think they are both beautiful and worthy gymnasts and I think the team will win a gold medal but giving My Kayla the individual spot may have taken away a gold medal from her. I think it will be a great Olympics and interesting to see what will happens but I might have switched two of the spots if they had asked me : )

      1. Yes. I honestly feel like Mykayla gets the short end of the stick when it comes to selecting teams.

  5. So I’m looking though USAG financial statements and I see Brett McClure’s salary listed as between 110-115k (depending on the year) but I can’t find anything for Tom Forster.

    Also, absolutely disgusting to know but Kerry Perry and her scarves made over 700k in 2018.

    1. and yet we have athletes who make USAG their money and their families struggling to cover the cost of their training.

  6. I am in agreement that it should have been Skinner on the team and Rusker in the individual spot.

    As for putting Skinner in the individual spot being a waste of that spot, is it really? As noted above if S were on the team she could still potentially have knocked JC out of the vault finals anyway. One possibility that I have considered (or at least considered when I believed there was a strategy to the selection process) was that putting Skinner as the specialist could be an intentional action against JC. From what I can glean from public statements JC has not endeared herself to the gymnastics poobahs. I don’t think they give a rat’s behind whether or not JC gets a medal. I suspect Tom F et all would rather see MS win a vault medal instead of JC, and yes, only one of them can medal.

    That scenario requires a thought process and strategy, so I’m less certain about that than I would be if I thought there was. Bu, ya never know.

    1. Eh, that sounds awfully complicated for Forester. The more likely scenario is that he’s a guy that doesn’t like to rock the boat and he took the easy way out by taking the top 4 AAs as the team and the fifth AA as the individual. Its straightforward and takes away the potential for being blamed for making a bad decision if say, for example, McCuscker didn’t end up making the bar final after being given special consideration. Given the blowback USAG has gotten from the Karolyi shenanigans, it looks like he decided to play it safe.

  7. Man I like Grace a lot, but trials was the only competition where she has not fallen in the year… yes, her bars and floor could score 14, which could boost her chances over Skinner, but she is consistently scoring 1 point less (thank god they took the Ricna out);and I’m sure her total average is less than hers and Sunisa’s… Literally, they took trials as the only meet these girls competed for the whole year!?

    1. That’s how like MOST of the rest of the olympians are chosen in other sports though…who wins Olympic trials…the best on any given day…not saying that’s how it SHOULD be, but it’s not really an argument against the choice. My issue isn’t with who was selected- though I would have flipped Skinner and mccallum, I do think no one else stepped up enough to push mccallum out of a 4th place finish… my issue is with the lack of preparation by the committee. I don’t think it’s a transparency issue. I do actually think Tom is transparent. I just genuinely think he didnt have a plan for how to pick the team and he’s bad at thinking on the fly so he was just rambling. He’s not a good spokesperson. He said they wanted the athletes to pick themselves. Which is idiotic and shows he is wrong for the team coordinator spot.

      Tom isn’t a villain to me. He’s just hapless. USAG was looking for a good positive atmosphere and happy face for these athletes to see and he’s great at that (according to the gymnasts) but he should be head national team coach or something. The national team coordinator literally needs to COORDINATE and organize and plan and execute and be a good speaker- and he had no discernible talent for that. And, as Spencer said, they paid him six figures when a piece of paper with the AA scores ended up doing his job.

      1. The hard thing about gymnastics that you will almost never see in sports, like swimming, diving, and running is you actually have to consistently stay on the apparatus. You can be the most amazing gymnasts but if you cannot stay on the bars 6/8 times, but you hit at trials, I would not trust you to hit at the Olympics. In a sport that for most teams placements are decided by hundreds of a point, consistency matters. The reason the Soviets were so successful in the ’80s was that they send their most consistent gymnasts. They send the girl who did not fall off the beam (now we do need to look at the average of scores more because we aren’t in the perfect 10 world) That’s why they were supposedly using proscore to help select the team. To not only find the highest scoring, but the most consistent over the course of the competition season.

  8. I agree with the original post.

    I understand the arguments about Riley falling last night BUT so many other athletes also made mistakes or had falls. We could say the same about injuries. (I.e. Sunsia is still recovering from injury, Jade is injured) I think even if Riley had nailed it last night, the plan all along was just to take the top 5 or 6 all-arounders.

    Even if they had taken Riley and worse case she fell in qualifications, it wouldn’t have been anymore of a waste of the spot than having 3 vault specialists. One of those 2 individual spots will NOT get to compete because of the 2 per country rule (Simone will make the EF as the highest scorer of the USA).

    Riley had the potential to score high and had a better medal chance than any other possible +1 spot. Kara would have gotten 2 per country’d by Simone and Sunsia. Floor would have followed a similar pattern. Riley has scored above Simone on bars most other occasions this season. The potential for another medal was there but with the decisions made we will never know.

    I think there was a strong lack of expectations. If they weren’t going to take a beam or bars specialist (as Tom said, it is too risky), then they shouldn’t have given hope where there was none. Also, it seems to me, that one should be aware and very interested in how our athletes scores compare to other athletes in other countries. I feel like a free pass was taken (at the expense of the athletes) by the committee because they knew any team with Simone would win.

    What is going to happen in 2024? I don’t know that I care to watch next time.

    1. I completely agree about Riley. Not taking her, at least as an alternate, AND leaving an empty alternate spot, is a hard snub that Tom and USAG has to answer for. Id file an inquiry just because I can if I was her coach. Because they have AA gymnasts with multiple falls as alternates and Riley was generally consistent AND could have got back beam and the other events with another month to prep. If someone got hurt and they needed bars and beam, pulling her in would produce higher potential scores than any other alternate. To take away that chance, even slim, as an alternate, is just really insulting and flat out wrong.

  9. Actually the selection committee was supposed to be looking at both days of olympic trials and nationals, which makes Grace’s case significantly worse.

    Grace scored less than Simone, Suni and Jordan on every event except VT. So, she’s really on the team for VT in the TF, where she averaged 0.2 higher than Suni. MyKayla would have gained 0.7 to the TF on VT; Leanne would have gained 0.6 on VT/FX.

    The +1 spot, again, was supposed to be based on 4 days, so Riley hit 3 out of 4 times, which is worth it, especially since she’ll have a month to recover and probably compete BB as well. As far as injuries, that’s what alternates are for.

    I’m disgusted by USAG for this. They managed to choose a team without the highest score, without the highest medal chances, and without following the rules they wrote. They let the athletes down and the entire gymnastics community.

    1. I mostly agree, but I also think that while both Nationals and Trials should be considered, Trials should be weighted much more heavily in all cases (its closer to the Games, no need to peak two months early), and in cases where someone is coming back from injury that should be doubly true.

  10. All Tom had to do was put Skinner on the team and Riley in the +1 and say “we chose the team with the highest scoring potential, like we said we would” *Mic drop* No dissembling or “integrity of the process” nonsense. There is no strategy with this team selection and I feel the most for the girls who pushed their bodies to extremes for a specialist spot when ultimately it came down to a ranked all around pick. What a joke…

  11. A wild tought: since Skinner is now doing bars with no expectations, how about she tries to get the triple double dismount named after herself? She was kind of trying it out earlier this year, and it maybe didn’t look great but it looked possible… This timeline is a bit tight though. As long as she doesn’t hurt herself, worth a shot.

    1. I think that is a really cool thought! One great thing about having the individual spot is that she is not forced to “play it safe” for the sake of the team or anything. Very cool way of looking at it!

    2. I am not sure how ready or willing she will be to try it. But that is true that skinner has a lot of room to play with because she is now in it all for herself.
      She will still likely do all 4 events in qual. But i think both her and jade are now gonna redouble their training on esp VT because both of them now know that that is their best chance to bring any hardware back. They will also try to up their training for fx but that is a wild west because there is just so much good competition out there for the fx silver and bronze. Don’t forget the fact that Vannessa Ferrari KO the favored Mori at the last second to claim that fx spot; And she did it with a score of 14.2+!

      1. Skinner would be mad to do all 4 events in quals. She needs to make her vaults perfect and get the triple twist in on floor. They are her only shot (vault especially) at a medal. By all means keep training the others a bit in case of dire injury need for the team. But she’s not making AA, UB or BB finals so there’s no point. She’d be hard pressed to make floor too. Vault is literally her best shot.

      2. I think she said she intends to do all four. I get it, you train all events for years so you want to make some use or that. I believe that the vault training she does in not super time consuming, since you only can do it a few times in a row because it is so hard on the body. They will have to be super careful to not overcorrect and overtrain her.
        But also, this might depend on the order she goes in quals (do they rotate with the team?). Starting with vault would be fine, because the most pressure gets out of the way. But in this case she needs to conserve energy for floor.
        Now, starting with floor would be good too. She’ll have more energy to power through 4 passes and can get the nerves out before vault.

  12. It’s definitely a change of pace, because now at least Olympic Trials matter, unlike the rest of the history of U.S. gymnastics.

    One thing I heard Tom say is this year the U.S. could legitimately bring 3 teams to the U.S. Olympic trials, and any one of those teams could win gold. An interesting thought. Probably true. I’d be interested in a blog post from BBS to see who you would put on your 3 gold medal teams. What mix and match of your top 12 gymnasts could go 1-2-3 in team finals?

    1. I think that’s false? I remember reading recently that the U.S. without Simone – not even the B team – is within one fall of both Russia and China. The U.S. B team could win but it wouldn’t be far from guaranteed.

      1. It’s def Tom’s exaggeration! Without Simone, US would not be having real comfortable margin. Still favored but definitely would be a lot closer. That is what happen when you decreases the team down to just 4,

  13. Nobody (athletes) seemed over emotional or stressed after the competition like they usually do after trials. No tears really (except happiness). Everyone seemed sort of resigned or okay with their placements and results. Like they knew who was on the team. I’m seriously wondering if the committee told them that the top AAers would go unless someone REALLY stood out on a single event (which is why Riley was devastated- because even with 1 fall out of 4, she did stand out as exceptional on bars- we can debate medal potential but she was standing out). I think Grace seemed so happy go lucky because maybe she knew she had a spot and MyKayla was the only emotional one because of her placement as the fifth best had her questioning if Riley did enough as a specialist. And also explains why Riley is so stunned she isn’t an alternate.

    Someone else said it but this is an overcorrection from Martha. I think, she was manipulative, put undo pressure on athletes, created an unsafe atmosphere, and made choices based on favoritism (especially in 2016 IMO with Skinner and Nichols and Douglas and then in TQ with Laurie). However being manipulative and rigid transparently and being emotional and “supportive” with no structure are two sides of the same coin. We just want an unemotional and impartially transparently decided team. People have favorites and will be upset when they don’t make it (ie: Skinner should be an alternate because she doesnt add medal potential and it seriously undermines your other athlete Jade- even though I love her).

    There should be a strategy…literally any strategy. If you go for POTENTIAL then you risk it with Leanne and Riley. If you go for consistency- I mean then you’re screwed but you probably take Grace over the others? Top team score potential- take Skinner.

    But Skinner as the +1 with no Riley AND an empty alternate spot makes NO sense. JUSTIFY IT TOM. Not for us, but for your athletes like Riley and Jade, who are clearly uncomfortable. With Martha she’d be like “well FU I do what I want” and everyone would be like “well okay then” but you can’t claim to be the new and improved supportive regime and then undermine and hurt your athletes still because you’re afraid to make competitive decisions.

  14. I think Skinner got named +1 because they knew they screwed her out of the team spot and to have her be an alternate rather than compete at the Olympics with some weak excuse ( and did I read correctly that someone from Grace’s gym was on the committee) would have really reeked of Marta II.

    I think she will do AA just to score higher than Grace and show everyone she would have been the pick and I hope she does and the talking heads all discuss how if she had been on the team we would have had a higher team score. Hope she makes and medals in more than one event final.

    1. I feel like Skinner always gets screwed out of being on the team. 2016 placed 4th and is a part of the 2nd highest scoring team (behind Locklear) and is an alternate. 2019 places 4th and is the alternate. while 2 athletes who placed below her were placed on the team. 2021 places 5th while being a part of the highest-scoring team and is not on the team. The rules always seem to change in order to make sure she is not on the team.

      1. Skinner always placed decent in the all around, but her strengths were not what the teams needed, which was always bars. 2015: Dowell UB, 2016 Douglas UB, 2019: McCallum UB.
        Skinner was just unlucky to be competing at the same time as powerful vault and floor workers such as Biles, Raisman, Carey,

    2. Jessie DeZiel trained at Twin City Twisters but she last competed for them a decade ago (2011) and had no interaction with McCallum at all.
      Her getting named to the team has nothing to do with the connection.

      1. But she has a connection with her gym. Gyms get huge enrollment boosts from having Olympians and Olympic champions come from their gyms. I’m no saying her judgment on team selection was impacted on it, but it is possible, especially after so many gyms struggled during the shutdown. She grew up at that gym and most likely has fond memories of that gym. To be fair and transparent, no one on the selection committee should have a connection to an athlete or an athlete’s gym. The second Grace became a possibility for that team, Jessie DeZiel should have removed herself from the process.

        Half the issues with Grace’s selection haven’t come from people not like Grace, but because of what Tom said to the media leading up to the Olympics. When you are saying to the media, you have this program that is going to help you pick the highest-scoring team, and then after trials say well Mykayla skinner was on the highest-scoring team, but it was close so we went with rank order to be fair. Hell, when your official broadcasters misunderstand how you are picking the team, something is wrong. Grace is only on the 4th highest-scoring team, that’s why she was written off in favor of other athletes. If he was just going to go with the top 4 from trials, then he should have said that. That would have been fair.

        We didn’t need strong bar workers in any of those cases. We wanted strong bar workers. Brenna almost never hit her bar routine. Marta still put her on the team and then never let her compete after she bombed it at worlds. Brenna basically became a second alternate. We still won without 3 dedicated bar workers. 2016, once again we didn’t need another bar worker. Marta just used that as her reason to bring Gabby. 2016 ould have been just fine using Simone, Laurie (remember we didn’t know about her injury at team selection, and Maddie. The 2 out of the 3 other options for the team could have easily done bars in an emergency (Regan/Maggie). Marta/Penny always wanted to bring an Olympic all-around champion back to the Olympics. I would not be surprised if Nastia hadn’t fallen at trials, Kyla Ross would not have gone.

  15. I mean, have none of you ever thought of the fact that he also feels the need to reward the athletes based on their performance? The way I see it MyKayla being competition for Jade isn’t great for Jade but it allows MyKayla the opportunity to try for it. She and Jade would be canceling each other out regardless of whether she had the team and individual spot.

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