The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

US Women’s Worlds Team Named

Rank order.

The US women’s program has named the world championships team: Kayla DiCello, eMjae Frazier, Leanne Wong, and Konnor McClain, with Olivia Greaves and Ciena Alipio missing out. Those four team members also happened to be the top four in the all-around standings at yesterday’s competition. Would you look at that. We don’t yet know what happened with today’s routines or whether they were used in any way to make a decision, but you know, the Forster Era and all-around standings.

So, as is very much the theme, the team you’d pick based on the actual scores from selection (at least the ones we have from yesterday) was not chosen. Since there’s no team competition this year, we can’t play “who makes up the highest-scoring team,” but McClain is the only athlete yesterday who did not finish in the top 3 on anything—except vault, which doesn’t matter because no one competed two vaults. Since only 3 people can compete each event at worlds, Friday’s competition did not present any scores-based or routines-based argument for McClain, so selecting her does not adhere to the “athletes select themselves” mantra or “the trial decides the team” approach that Tom Forster thinks he espouses. That’s why Olivia Greaves has a very legitimate Greave-ance (I love me) for not being named to the squad.

Now with that out of the way…I absolutely would have selected McClain for this team too if given the latitude to do so. As I said yesterday at the end of the live blog, Konnor McClain is the most talented gymnast in this field of six, and I’d look for any possible way to get her on this team. When she actually stays on, her beam is the single most believable event-medal prospect among any of these athletes. That is a world class routine and McClain should be a significant athlete for the US this quad, so it’s fully worth it to give her a try at worlds. You always gain more from bringing a nail-biter that could medal than from bringing a hit for 11th place.

But I don’t think that’s actually why McClain was selected, as much sense as it might make. This regime has never selected teams based on concepts like potential or talent. I think McClain was selected because she finished 4th in the all-around yesterday, which has no bearing whatsoever on anything. So…a choice I like but for reasons I don’t? That’s what I’m assuming based on precedent and also everything.

The big surprise to me—or at least it would have been a surprise before watching yesterday’s competition—is the inclusion of eMjae Frazier on the team. I’m not sold on her finals-making prospects because floor is the event where she made a case yesterday, and floor scores were quite elevated and unrealistic compared to the scoring we saw at the Olympics. Still, she was one of only two athletes to hit her routines, and I don’t think anyone who missed the team earned it more than Frazier did. Greaves did hit bars, her specialty event, but for a score that was still just in the 13s. Frazier had to score an upset at camp, and she did exactly that.

Plus, there was no way the Tomtoms were ever going to leave off someone who finished 2nd AA.

As for DiCello and Wong, no surprises there. DiCello got an automatic spot with her win yesterday, while Wong was the only other athlete to win an event (floor) and has top-2 all-around scoring potential in this group when she hits. Wong needs to be at worlds and earned it (close enough, it wasn’t great, but close enough) at Friday’s competition.

Next step…who does the all-around at worlds? Who does each event? Does Frazier’s 2nd-place finish at camp get her an all-around spot over Wong?

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