The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Women’s Olympic Team Final

Well, this is going to be more interesting than it was supposed to be! The US women’s flat performance in qualification resulting in a one-point deficit to Russia has added layers upon layers to this one.

The US women should still be considered the favorites in this final because they performed so far below their potential level in qualification, compared to a Russian team that nailed the meet, and have much more than a point they can gain on that showing with even an average meet today. Also Russia has to hit beam again. But this is certainly not the foregone conclusion it should have been based on the everything. And there will be plenty of time to talk about why.

The big start list news was the inclusion of Grace McCallum in the all-around for the team final. It’s a bold move, though I have learned better than to try to read actual strategy into any decision beyond that she got higher scores than Chiles on bars and beam in qualification. Resolving the beam start value issue will be essential. Have they bothered? We’ll find out. McCallum has looked pretty steady thus far across PT and qualification so there’s every reason to feel confident you’re getting hits out of her, though Chiles has been a rock all year on bars and beam, with higher scores than McCallum on bars, and tossing her aside after a single bad day is a big choice. We’ll see if it ends up being an act of self-sabotage.

The other controversial move is the dumping of Ou Yushan on beam, who had a wobbly day in qualification but could have China’s best score on a good day. Throughout the year, she has been China’s least consistent beamer among the options, but I still would have gone for broke if I were China because they need to make a BIG move to get close to 1-2—yet don’t necessarily even need to hit all that well to get third. I think fear of having a mess and dropping to 4th like at worlds in 2019 has informed that decision. Which, I mean, it’s a legitimate fear.

GB dropping Jessica Gadirova on beam is also a thing, and Belgium does not appear to be going for it here as they’re not using Nina on vault. Presumably, this is to give Nina some rest for finals, but it’s a drop in score for the team total.

Expect the US and Russia to be well ahead of the field after the first rotation because vault. China will need to keep it close while on bars, a deficit of tenths rather than points. In qualification, the US had an edge on vault of just .367. It will need to be larger today if the US is to reverse course, all of which would have to come from Simone improving her score because McCallum and Chiles vaulted at their top level in qualification. With a more controlled landing, Biles could expect to gain 5 tenths on her qualification vault score. Or, counterpoint, will she pull out the double pike?

Was it exciting, John? It sounds like it’s exciting? Will it be exciting?

Laurent is eyeing that vault with a “you better not pull a Sydney” intensity.

Intros happening now.

Melnikova looks like she’s about to nerve-barf. Same.

The problem for the US in qualification wasn’t “those little tenths.” More like those big tenths.

US leo is much better today. They’re 2 for 3 in that department. Should have just used that reject art project from qualification for PT. Oh, it’s worse up close. Let’s just pretend we only see this one from afar. A total Monet.

Rotation 1

Derwael is getting started on beam while vault and bars continue warming up – good loso mount – bhs loso, secure – switch to split ring leap, good switch position – aerial to split, some back foot – side somi, larger break, arm wave and leg up. Finishes gainer pike full, small hop.

Simone warming up Amanars.

Melnikova – VT – pretty solid DTY, medium scoot back, some leg crossing, I’ll take it.

14.600 is an improvement on qualification.

McCallum – VT – not her strongest DTY, step to the side and out of the area, shouldn’t score as well as Q

Ou Yushan with a dead hang after her gienger in combination on bars – good high piked jaeger – some rather short handstand positions – FTDT, hop in place

14.3000 for McCallum, she’s down .233 on qualification. Advantage Russia.

Urazova – VT – high DTY, does have to take a larger bounce back though, a little bit of leg crossing, fine

14.466 for Urazova is down on qualification.

Ou Yushan just 13.233. Lots of large handstand finishing position deductions there. Oh Ou.

Chiles – VT – solid DTY landing, didn’t quittteee ger her normal block but it ended up working out because she was right down the center with only small movement. 14.666 though, still down a bit on qualification.

Akhaimova – VT – Akhaimova hits her rudi, but a larger bounce back this time – large leg break on block, gets it together sort of in the air.

14.733 for her, gets nearly the same score as qualification. US will need Biles to come through with a big one now.

Biles – VT – Nooooo what happened?!?!?!?! She bailed out of that vault, just like she did in warmup, she only did a Y 1.5, landed deep, lunge forward. Disaster.

Tang – UB – Maloney to pak, good – toe short 1/2, solid – healy to ling to front giant full to piked jaeger, much better vertical positions on handstand – DLO, stuck landing – awesome routine.

13.766 for Simone on a Yurchenko 1.5. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED THERE????

United States loses a point and a half on its vault score from qualification.

On the topic of things you didn’t see coming…

14.500 from Tang to get them back on track after Ou’s low score.

Heduit has some moments on bars, a little crooked on a stalder full, a low and close piked jaeger, but she gets through it. Deep dismount.

Brassart falls on her beam mount.

Asia D’Amato – FX – DLO, nice height, hop back

Lu – UB – tkatchev to gienger, solid – some legs in healy and ling but OK – piked jaeger and fallllllsss.

D’Amato through floor with a shit, but was quite low on final double tuck.

Jennifer Gadirova – BB – switch to switch 1/2, small check to back tuck – check on choreography – bhs loso loso, hit with a little lean – aerial to straddle to split jump, low back leg – hop on dismount

Murakami attempts triple y spin on floor, will get double – double double tuck, bounce back – DLO, bounce back – 2.5 to front full, hop – double L turn – switch ring – kind of hoppy but fine

DJDS – UB – Nabieva, just a tad close – pak, good – shaposh to bhardwaj, nice, really pretty – large hesitation in inbar though with an elbow break – DLO 1/1, a little short, hop.

France will score ahead of China on bars —a big deal.

After 1
Russia 43.799
USA 42.732
France 41.399
China 41.066
Italy 40.366
Japan 40.066
GB 38.866
Belgium 36.999

Uneventful and normal!

Word is that Simone has left the floor. The other three are rotating to bars.

Chiles is up there warming up bars. What we still don’t know is whether Simone is scratching the whole meet or just bars.

Simone is back out there but taking off her bars grips.

Rotation 2

McCallum – UB – small hesitation on first hs – stalder full to maloney to pak to stalder shap 1/2, good – piked jaeger – Ricna, hit, very late 1/2 turn, FTDT, good landing. 13.700. 4 tenths down on qualification.

Asia D’Amto hits a DTY, a little underrotated, hops back

Zhang – BB – candle mount – switch ring to split ring jump – bhs layout to 2 feet, large break, bend at the hips, lean correction – aerial to split jump to straddle – switch, check, breaks connection – bhs bhs 2/1, stuck.

News that Biles is out of the whole team competition. Wow.

Urazova was a little close on her piked jaeger, FTDT, step back. Goes 14.866, strong number.

Chiles – UB – piked jaerg good – toe full to tkatchev – piked tkatchev to pak, hit well this time – maloney to gienger, FTDT, nailed it. Really nice to see her come back and hit that routine.

Boyer – BB – round off 2 foot layout, another huge break there, bend over a step and a turn to save it

Zhang was at 13.900 on beam before her.

14.166 for Chiles, .466 strong than McCallum, who was in the lineup ahead of her to begin with.

Melnikova – UB – inbar full, nice to komova to pak to van leeuwen, excellent – inbar 1/2 to piked jaeger, a littel close but fine – 1/2 turn, short – toe full, very late into FTDT, holds the landing. Good, but also not quittteee as good as qualification.

Just 12.066 on beam for Boyer.

Derwael hits double tuck on floor, step back

Tang – BB – loso mount is excellent – round off layout, very solid, confident – switch ring, check, breaks combination to split ring to korbut – switch to split ring, pause befroe bhs – aerial to split to straddle – 2/1, nearly has the stick but ends up taking a large lunge. Good one overall, in the individual elements, but did break several connections.

14.933 for Melnikova is high for me.

Lee – UB – nabiev to bhardwaj to malooney to gienger, gets her combination piked jaeger to pak to van leeuwen, hit – giant full – FTDT, stuck landing. It was a bit more of a struggle to get all of her difficulty in there, but she did so.

Meanwhile 13.733 for Tang on beam is a bit tight there.

DJDS – BB – front pike mount, very good – punch front pike, also solid – bhs layout 2 feet, strong – split to wolf jump – split jump 1/2 from side, excellent – switch 1/2, a little short but secure – aerial to split to bhs – switch ring, small check – double tuck, bounce back

Jessica Gadirova – FX – double double tuckish – step back and OOB – DLO, great height, bounce back –

Lee gets a 15.400 on bars. A big deal score.

Listunova – UB – Komova to Ricna, good – inbar full to pak to stalder shaposh 1/2, strong – inbar 1/2 to jaeger – late 1/2 turn on high Fabrichnova, step back, crazy legs. Valentina in the stands having kittens.

Apparently Gadirova didn’t go OOB? 13.833.

14.900 for Listunova. Russia expanding its already large lead to 2.5 now.

Lu – BB – switch ring to split ring, hit – round off layout, small step forward – aerial to split to straddle, check – side aerial, holds it – swtich to split ring, pause correction – she’s showing nice elements but like Tang is having too many pauses – 2/1 dismount, deep but keeps the stick.

John tells us that Simone’s withdrawal was not a physical injury. Mentally related.

After 2
Russia 88.498
USA 85.998
Italy 83.031
China 82.665
Japan 82.415
France 79.864
GB 79.199
Belgium 76.331

Italy is like, “REMEMBERRRRR.” China not really taking advantage as it needed to on its good events. Just 13.966 for Lu Yufei. No 14s for China on beam. Beam score down 8 tenths on qualification. US bars down 6 tenths on qualification. Russia improves bars from qualification.

Where am I, subheading: what is this life?

Rotation 3

Urazova – BB – loso mount, good – bhs loso loso, huge break and falls, oh Russia – aerial, check – man she’s break all the connections – wolf triple is solid – wolf double, good – side aerial, strong – sissone – just checking all around – 2.5, hop forward.

Maggio finishes bars with double pike, multiple hops back.

12.866 floor for Tang.

LOL John is going to get roasted for saying Urazova has the best ever wolf turns.

Kinsella hits a DTY, chest a bit down, lunge back

12.633 for Urazova.

McCallum – BB – candle mount, good – wolf triple and wolf double, good – stradlde 1/2 from side, large break, bend forward at the waist, keeps it on the beam – split leap to side aerial to loso, hits, small step – aerial, pause – split to sissone, does a leap series, low back leg but has her .5 CR – double pike, step back. Got through it.

Good high Gadirova DTY, 0.3 lunge back

Maggio 13.433 on bars, Sugihara 13.333

Alice D’Amato – UB – maloney to tkatchev, good – stalder tkatchev piked to pak to shap 1/2, good – lots of movement across the bar as always – giant full front, double front, larggeeee bound forward.

13.666 for McCallum. She’ll take it.

Melnikova on beam, bhs loso and falllllsss Russsssssia. Huge break, I thought she had it saved but then she leaned back the other way and could never save it – wolf double is good – side somi, arm wave – split ring jump, hit – double pike, chest down a bit, hop.

Nooo, Mai tries her piked taktchev and catches with only one arm, manages not to come off the bars but witll be the equivalent of a fall.

Just 12.566 for Melnikova on beam. Another opportunity for the US to gain at least a point.

S Lee – bb – wolf triple to wolf double, good – aerial, check, leg up – break combination to split bhs – switch ring to split leap, pretty – switch to switch 1/2 to split ring jump – side aerial to loso loso, strong work – bhs bhs 2/1, pretty large bounce back. Not her strongest beam but will be a good score.

Lu – FX – quad turn, gets it around well – full in, solid landing – 2.5 to front pike, small slide – double y turn – 2/1, fine – doubel tuck, bounce back. But fine work. They needed that.

Lee went 14.133, a little surprised it went that high compared to Q.

Listunova – BB – candle mount, good – wolf triple, solid – wolf double, small hesitation at the end – front hs front tuck, hits, step – split jump to wolf, lovely – switch to split ring, leg-up check – aerial to split ring to bhs, much more comfortable routine than the first two – double tuck, lunge back. Saves Russia.

DJDS – FX – DLO 1/1, great position in the air, small hop – full in, bounce back – switch ring to split leap full, trying for 1.5, not sure she got it – wolf double turn is a little crazy – front loso to double tuck, good control, small step – double pike is deep and short with a lunge forward

14.333 for Listunova is gigantic. Another higher beam score than you would have expected based on Q.

Chiles – BB – side aerial to loso, hit – aertial to straddle, looked like seh was going to have a check, does well to hold it into bhs – full turn – side somi, strong – switch to switch 1/2 – stradle jump 1/2 from side, solid – sissone, short back leg into wolf jump – just does the double pike, smart, small step.

As well as could have been expected. Nice bars and beam routines today. 13.433, a lower score but got a hit.

Russia will lead the US by 8 tenths going to floor, where Russia beat the US by 5 tenths in qualification, and that was with Simone.

After 3
Russia 128.030
USA 127.230
Italy 124.530
Japan 122.548
GB 122.331
China 121.830
France 119.664
Belgium 118.063

Italy in third but going to beam. China in 6th but going to vault. So don’t count China out yet. They should gain ground. Will Ou pull out the DTY to try to make it happen?

Rotation 4

At this point, Russia just basically has to not pull a Grishina 2012.

McCallum – FX – double double, nearly the same mistake as qualification but keeps it in this time – but then front 2/1 in combination and she steps OOB – hits her wolf turns – full in, pretty solid – double tuck, OK, hop back. Fine but not ideal. On replay that was a 0.3 OOB. We’ll see if they caught it.

Heduit with a large bound back on her DTY.

Japan got a beam hit from Hatakeda for 13.333

Asia D;Amato with a large break on her loso mount, large leg-up break – switch to split leap, broken connection but nice elements – another bend at the hits on switch 1/2 – double pike, hop back.Through it but gave some away.

Tang – VT – nooooo hands down on her DTY.

Long wait for McCallum’s score but she ends up with 13.500. She had a pretty OK day all things considered and how this was impossible, though lower than Skinner’s and Carey’s AA scores from qualification, for reference on how things might have shaken out.

Urazova – FX – double Y turn – pike full in, hit step back – 2.5 to front tuck, good control – split leap – split leap full, around – just does squeak around her triple wolf – double is no trouble – double tuck, stuck – 2/1, small slide. 1 down, 2 to go.

Jesus Ou did got for the DTY and also fell. China what are you doing.

Murakami finishes beam with a solid double pike.

Friess hits a rudi, bounce back.

Urazova 13.366, surprised at just a 5.1 D. Thought that would be higher.

Chiles – FX – pulls around her wolf triple – DLO 1/1 was really flat for her this time, she goes OOB – DLO, also a little lower for her but controls it, small slide – split leap 1.5 – nooopppeee falls on her combination 3rd pass – and now balks on her dance series like she got lost – double pike, bounce back. The first real miss from the remaining US gymnasts today.

14.166 on bars for Kinsella. GB needs just a lowish 13 from Morgan to stay ahead of France

Maggio – good mount series, nice splits – bhs loso series witha check – switch ring, good – side aerial, secure – aerial, another arm dance – switch – 1.5, hop forward. She’s through it.

Chiles just 11.7 on floor.

Listunova – FX – DLO, chest down, small hop – falls out of double y a little but looks like she got it around – 3/1, chest down, hop forward – double L turn, hit – triple wolf finish is a bit borderline – 2.5 to front tuck, good

Morgan – UB – piked jaeger, good – Ricna to pak, some legs, OK, broken nexxection into maloney bhardwaj but hits – van leeuwen – giant full to toe tuck 1/2, bounce back. Through it.

Hiraiwa – BB – pulls around wolf truple – layout to 2 feet, large break –

Wow 14.033 for Morgan. Italy would need a huge break from D’Amato now.

Very checky beam for Hiraiwa.

Listunova 14.166.

Alice D’Amato would neede 13.6000 now

Lee – FX – double double tuck, solid, boiunce back – DLO, slide back – switch ring – split leap full – double L turn – 1.5 to front full, solid – borderline finish on her wolf triple – wolf double is good – double tuck, bounce back

Great Britain in good shape for bronze now, which is CRAZY.

Alice D’Amato – BB – front tuck mount, check, punch front, check – bhs loso, smoothly done – switch to split leap to split leap, very pretty – wolf double, around, a little teetering – switch ring, check – aerial, smooth – split jump 1/2 from side, lean forward – 3/1, very short, lunge forward, don’t see that doing it.

Melnikova – DLO, bounce back – almost pulsl around triple L, I think her heel dropped just a little too early – DLO, bounce back – switch to split ring 1/2, nice – front full to beat jump – wolf double – double y turn – dobule pike, shuffle back –

so It’s going to be Russia in 1st, USA 2nd, and Great Britain (!) for bronze.

Lots to unpack here on a day that…well I’m thinking this isn’t going to be one you’ll want to go back and watch a ton. But Russia won by 3.5 points!

As for the US, it was a valiant effort in impossible circumstances. Given how this competition had gone, they were never beating Russia without Simone’s routines.

Great Britain finished third, which is awesome and no one saw coming but in this mess of a meet, they had the least mess. Unfortunately, this will also give GB cover for not selecting Downie, but it doesn’t make that any less of an incorrect decision because her scores this year would have increased the team total as well as provided an individual medal.

But huge deal for them. No one thought they were going to win bronze, but they ranked 5th on scores coming in, China had an epic stinker today, and Japan hadmultiple issues from Mai, so Morgan’s beam fall didn’t end up ruining their lives. Italy almost got there, but just a fantastic job by that team to finish 4th. Imagine if they had all been healthy.

As for China, what a disaster on most of the events.

This is going to take some TIME to unpack.

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