The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Pan-American Worlds Qualification

The first day of women’s competition at Pan Ams—which doubles as world championship qualification—is in the books, and we have a semi-major development: Brazil’s 1st-place finish over the United States.

Brazil went 161.967 with one counting fall—compared to the US on 160.466 with two counting falls—the difference maker being beam, beam, and more beam. Brazil’s three counting performances were exquisite (and even Pedro’s leadoff miss showed lovely form), with Flavia Saraiva staying on the apparatus and therefore scoring exactly one million points, Rebeca Andrade performing confidently to go over 14 as well, and the less-discussed Julia Soares showing she can keep up with both of them with her routine that displayed wonderful rhythm and execution. 

Brazil also outscored the United States on vault, both teams bringing two DTYs to the party, though struggled to some extent on bars and floor. On bars, the first two gymnasts fell in a rotation that desperately needed to be saved by Andrade’s exceptional routine, which nearly went 9 in E score. A fairly OOBish floor rotation could have used that same saving, but Andrade previous announced that she is not performing floor at this year’s competition. Rather, Saraiva recorded Brazil’s best floor score on her way to winning the continental AA title.

As for the US women, they performed three events and also beam to finish in a comfortable but uninspiring second place. Today’s 160.466 is about 4.5 points down on what the DTB Pokal team did (McClain, Frazier, Sullivan. Blakely, Matthews) and about 3.5 points down on what the Jesolo team did (McClain, Jones, Frazier, Mueller, Miller), so not an awesome day in the scope of this year’s US performances but more than sufficient for the given purposes.

Things started acceptably on bars in the first rotation, where Miller led the team thanks to her stratospheric D score, followed by Blakely with one of her more comfortable recent bars sets. DiCello had a little bit of trouble, with a pause in casting up after her Church and another handstand issue, but ended up with a mostly equivalent execution score to the others.

Then, nearly everything fell into a garbage pail in the second rotation, when only Lexi Zeiss was able to stay on the beam, a feat which carried her to the all-around silver medal and the deeply unofficial US MVP award I just invented. Mueller came off on a side aerial in the leadoff spot, DiCello fell on her bhs loso loso series and later grabbed the beam on her side jump 1/2 (#thenewtechniqueisharderyall), and Blakely fell on her fhs front tuck series—though does get points for a smoothly accidental wolf 2.5 correction off the top.

Floor was the strongest and most comfortable event of the day for the US, with DiCello demonstrating excellent control in her landings for the top score and Blakely showing a useful 5.7 D score with a DLO 1/1 and a DLO. Most of the team went over 8 in execution, so they’ll take that. On vault, Zeiss was once again the leader with her solid DTY, while Blakely landed short on her own DTY with a lunge, and DiCello downgraded to the full after missing her double at selection.

So that happened. But it was just the appetizer, and we’ll see a rematch of this Brazil/USA showdown in Sunday’s team final at 10am local Rio time. Which really could go either way depending on who stays on more apparatuses.

Finishing an easy 3rd in team qualification was Canada, which started off trying to mimic the US’s rough time on beam but righted things for competitive results on the remaining three events. Because Canada competed at the same time as Brazil, the stream was like, “Which is a Canada?” and we have no idea what these routines looked like, but check mark for worlds qualification.

Also putting a check mark next to worlds qualification in the final rotation were Argentina in 4th and Mexico in the 5th and final spot. Argentina should be quite pleased about finishing ahead of Mexico and making it a fairly anxiety-free experience by outscoring next-best rival Colombia on every event and by more than six points overall. Mexico had some iffy moments in there, featuring three scores in the 9s that needed to be dropped, but ultimately finished right with Argentina, with none of the other teams coming close enough to challenge.

In the all-around, 11 spots at worlds were available for the women. With the top 13 in the all-around all coming from qualifying teams, the individual spots began with Tyesha Mattis (formerly of GB and now representing Jamaica) in 14th place and went from there. The full list is in the chart below. Just missing out on qualification to worlds by one spot was Olivia Kelly, who represents Barbados and made noise in the first subdivision with her lovely beam.

WOMENTeamsAll-Arounders
Europe
August 11-14
1323
Pan-AmericaBrazil
United States
Canada
Argentina
Mexico
Tyesha Mattis (JAM)
Laura Pardo (COL)
Ana Karina Mendez (PER)
Antonia Marihuan (CHI)
Ginna Escobar (COL)
Milca Leon (VEN)
Franchesca Santi (CHI)
Alais Perea (ECU)
Annalise Newman-Achee (TTO)
Franciny Morales (CRC)
Karla Navas (PAN)
AsiaChina
South Korea
Japan
Taiwan
Aida Bauyrzhanova (KAZ)
Rifda Irfanaluthfi (INA)
Milka Gehani (SRI)
Dildora Aripova (UZB)
Nadine Joy Nathan (SGP)
Ominakhon Khalilova (UZB)
Korkem Yerbossynkyzy (KAZ)
Sasiwimon Mueangphuan (THA)
AfricaEgyptCaitlin Rooskrantz (RSA)
Naveen Daries (RSA)
Fatma Boukhatem (ALG)
Lahna Salem (ALG)
OceaniaAustraliaKeira Rolston-Larking (NZL)
Reece Cobb (NZL)

Men’s qualification will conclude later in the day with the final subdivision. There are 4 team spots available for the men, and the US currently leads qualification, followed by Canada and Colombia as expected. The final subdivision features Brazil, which should qualify comfortably, and Mexico trying to beat out Colombia for that final spot.

 

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