We’re now into the fifth month of a new code, a new cycle, a new wheel of celestial moonbeams, which means…we know absolutely nothing about anything. So here we go.
In the American department, the US has selected actual teams for a couple events thus far, so we have a fairly solid sense of the current hierarchy…at least the hierarchy that doesn’t include the gymnasts who have been competing in college or injured.
Based on the top scores recorded on each event so far this year, the highest-scoring team of five for the US right now would be this group, which also passes the eye test in terms of the gymnastics we’ve seen:
Other competitive scores in the currently active group include a bars from Nola Matthews, a beam from Kailin Chio, a floor from Katelyn Jong, and a…most of them?…from Ashlee Sullivan, but the above five would be the top-scoring team. Until all the college freshmen come back to elite this summer and take their spots. With Lee, Wong, Chiles, Carey, and potentially DiCello among others waiting to jump in, no one should expect this early-2022 group to be anything close to finalized.
Elsewhere in the upper echelon of teams, Russia is banned and the Chinese athletes have not competed this year, so we don’t yet know where their scores will factor in. Domestic events including Chinese nationals and multi-sport competitions like June’s University Games and September’s Asian Games have all been postponed, but China will have to send a group to the Asian Championships in Doha (June 15-18) in order to qualify a team to worlds, so we’ll know something by then.
Along with the Americans, Italy is the other nation putting forward high-level teams in actual competitions this year, with a top-scoring five that shapes up like this:
I’d consider it a fool’s errand to compare the actual team totals at this point, especially with a few less realistic Serie A numbers in there, but we have seen Italy semi-somewhat close to this US group on both occasions they went head-to-head this year, with deficits of 1.3 and 1.8.
Unlike the US and the changes we’ll inevitably see to the Best Gymnasts Club as the year goes on, this quintet would be a realistic team for Italy at any point. Even if Andreoli doesn’t start hitting beam, you’d be very happy with this five.
While the British have not yet sent a group to match up against the others in team competitions, we’ve seen an encouraging start to the year in domestic events, with most of the top athletes returning to compete.
Keep an eye on Achampong potentially moving up the ladder this year to disrupt the status of the established team members, as she and Fenton have recorded the most useful scores for a team so far with Amelie Morgan at Utah and absent from the domestic elite scene. And of course there’s the newly-re-AAing-again Becky Downie, who isn’t part of the highest-scoring team at this point but could very realistically push her way into the five when her bars scores get back to 14s.
In Japan, we have a team in the midst of rebuilding mode, with Murakami, Teramoto, and Hatakeda all having announced their retirements. Still, we did see a number of competitive routines at the All-Japan Championship last month (video: AA final).
While she wouldn’t be in the highest-scoring team of five right now because of the other apparatuses, consider world beam champion Ashikawa Urara a necessary member of the group going forward. That said, we have seen Japan shoot itself in the eye before with its stringent, AA-based selection procedures, so…maybe keep more of an eye on that space than you should have to?
For France, life looks very encouraging once you plug MDJDS into the group of gymnasts that have competed so far this year, a group that really should entertain expectations of a team medal at Euros as one of the three favorites with Italy and Great Britain.
An interesting factor to watch this year will be double Olympian Marine Boyer, who has been competing domestically but doesn’t have the scores so far to get herself on the highest-scoring team. Typically, it’s Devillard who finds herself on the outside because she doesn’t really have a second event to go with her vault. But, if you have MDJDS, Charpy, Heduit, and Friess, you wouldn’t mind a fifth gymnast with only 1 event if she’s giving you such a useful vault score.
For Canada, the repertoire of routines shown so far this year is definitely incomplete, but veteran Denelle Pedrick’s performance at Stuttgart does have her with counting scores on two events.
We’re also looking at a fairly incomplete picture of scores for other typical team final contenders like the Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil, and Germany, but there may need to be some alarms sounding for Germany because the absence of the long-standing stars in 2022 competitions has exposed some low scores that would put Germany behind teams like Romania and Hungary right now.