The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

US Women’s Selection Camp – Day 1

Today, the 10 women who remain standing will begin their quests to make this year’s worlds team with the first day of selection camp competition. The competitors are:

Rotation group A (start on vault)
Shilese Jones, Skye Blakely, Nola Matthews, Jordan Chiles, Addison Fatta
Rotation group B (start on floor)
Jade Carey, Amelia Disidore, Marissa Neal, Lexi Zeiss, Leanne Wong

In terms of pre-camp scores, they paint a pretty clear picture that Jones, Chiles, Carey, and Wong would be on the highest-scoring US team, basically regardless of which approach you try to take. Average, peak score, nationals only, all of 2022…it’s the same people. The only fifth member who adds something to that team score would be Skye Blakely on beam if she replicates her 14.300 from Pan Am Trials or her 14.250 from the WOGA Classic, so that’s basically where we are heading into this competition.

The outright AA winner today automatically makes the team, but unless things get really crazy that shouldn’t be news because we have 3 people who have more or less automatically made the team.

I’m looking out for:

  1. Leanne Wong’s health. She was injured at nationals and didn’t do the AA. Honestly, just doing her normal 14 on bars should be enough to get her on this team in a sensible world, but the lingering stench of the 2018-2021 all-around selection strategy remains pungent. We’ll see how much she pushes it on all four—and how relevant that becomes.
  2. Skye Blakely’s beam. Her theoretical beam score would help the US team, but we didn’t see that performance at nationals. If she’s not hitting beam, she’s opening the door for someone else to get a mid-13 on beam and look like she’s the one who could add something to a team score on an event where the US is somewhat light following McClain’s withdrawal.
  3. Traveling alternate. The US women’s team typically names a squad of 6 without officially defining who the traveling alternate is until after podium training. At least one “someone else” is going to make it onto the flight, and everyone competing here will at least entertain a slight possibility. Lexi Zeiss and Addison Fatta are probably the frontrunners at this point given their all-around scoring potential and their successful results at Pan Ams and Szombathely respectively, but if you end up deciding to look at whose selection results add the most to a team score should a frontrunner go down, then we may be looking at Matthews’ bars, Neal’s beam, or Disidore’s vault. But really, based on precedent, I’d imagine it’s going to be pure AA standings when it comes to the alternate.

So far, warmup reports from Jessica and Scott at the event indicate that everyone is amazing and no one has ever known sadness. I’ll be the judge of that.

We are currently in the post-warmup milling about portion of the event.

Everyone is in the same The Queen of Spiders Has Her Now leo.

Rotation 1

Carey – FX – DLO 1/1, bounce back, some legs – DLO, comfortable, slide back – L hop full to switch 1/1, completes the turn – front loso to double tuck, bounce back – split leap full, some short position – FTDT, most secure landing. So no big upgrades but a difficult routine and competitive hit. 13.800 w/ 5.7 D

Jones – VT – DTY – pretty solid DTY, hop back, not her most controlled landing but fine, great distance, some legs apart. 14.500

Blakely – VT – DTY – good legs together and rotation, lunge back is larger than Jones’ – 14.200

Disidore – FX – double dobule tuck, quite deep, chest down, large lunge forward to save it – DLO to her hands and knees – L hop full, a bit low – wolf double is around – switch 1/2 – 1.5 to front 2/1 is a nice pass – a little under rotated on popa – double pike, chest down, hop to the side. 11.350

Matthews – VT – OK DTY – easily hit, some pike in the air, bounce back. 12.900

Chiles – VT – very high DTY but an uncontrolled landing, large bounce back – 14.200

Neal – FX – double Arabian, lunge forward – FTDT, chest down, lunge back – split leap full is around – 2.5 to front lay, low on the lay but got it around with a step – double pike, bounce. 12.600

Chiles – VT 2 – exceptional Lopez – good layout shape, only the slightest pike, and only small movement in place.

Fatta – VT – good distance on her DTY, small amount of legs, hop back. Should score competitively with the “team” gymnasts DTYs. 14.050

Zeiss – FX – 2.5 to front pike, good control, leg crossing on 2.5 – 1.5 to front full, again some legs, only a little movement – wolf double – switch to switch 1/2, solid elevation – double tuck, bounce. 13.200

Fatta – VT 2 – Tsuk lay full, some ragged legs, bounce back, solid hit.

Wong – FX – L turn double, turn is around, leg dropped a little toward the end – double double tuck, chest forward, lunge back – double arabian piked is very deep but she saved it with a lunge back, it was excellent in the warmup – L hop full to switch 1/2 – combo pass is an issue again, 1/2 twist with a deep lunge to the side, just stays in – double back, deep with a step.

Landing errors on floor shouldn’t really do anything to her chances, but that was not ideal. 12.450. So there’s some AA work to do.

Rotation 2

Blakely – UB – stalder 1/2 to piked jaeger, a little low but hit – stalder tkatchev to pak, some legs apart, comfortable – toe full, solid finish, no connection – van leeuwen, just a bit of feet – toe 1/2, late – double front 1/2 out is new and workable, lunge back. 13.450

Disidore – VT – gets her DTY around, chest down, hop to the side and out of the area. 13.350

Either this feed is super delayed or that clock behind vault is wildly slow and it’s killing me.

Matthews – UB – toe full, late – stalder shap to Ricna, nice, good toes – jaeger, high – pak, good, just a bit of feet – van leeuwen, can’t get her hand around and falls. That’s a shame for her as this is the routine she needed the most. Finishes DLO, hop back. 12.550

Disidore – VT 2 – Handspring pike 1/2 is solid, not the biggest but good shape, bounce back, nice NCAA option.

Chiles – UB – toe full, arch but around – piked tkatchev to pak, very good – maloney to gienger, comfortable – piked jaeger – bail, clean handstand to toe shoot – FTDT, nice stick. Very solid routine. So many cast handstands to be issues but very solid. 14.350

Neal landed a very solid Y1.5, just some knees.

Zeiss – VT – DTY is around but kind of a struggle, chest down, bounce to the side, leg form. 13.750

BIG LOVE the stream cutting out for Fatta’s bars. No notes on this paid service.

Anyway we’re back now. Fatta went 13.300 on bars.

Wong – VT – Hits a DTY, bounce back, some hip angle and chest position on landing, good distance and direction. 14.150

And we’ve cut out again. Flo is dead, long live Flo.

We’re back to see Jade Carey hit a Cheng – not her best but fine, chest forward, step.

And we’re out again.

Back for the rotation break! Fun!

Jones goes 14.500 for a bars routine that we missed. Carey’s Cheng goes 14.300, which is not great as far as better-than-DTY vault scores go. She’s behind Jones there.

AA is currently Jones, Chiles, Carey, Blakely, Fatta – with Wong .750 back of the top 5 in 7th place. Bars and beam hits would make up that margin, but you know, hits.

Rotation 3

Matthews with an early fall on her series on beam – pretty wolf turn – switch to split, back foot, into bhs – aerial – double tuck, chest

Neal – UB – maloney to pak, good height – van leeuwen – toe 1/2 to jaeger, good – and the stream is out again. I’m having so much funnnnnnn.

Anyway I guess Matthews went 12.450 on beam and Neal went 11.800 on bars.

THE US COULD SEND THREE TEAMS TO THE OLYMPICS AND THEY WOULD ALL WIN GOLD.

Seeing the end of Chiles on beam with a secure double pike, small hop. 13.300.

Zeiss went 13.350 on bars.

Wong – UB – stalder 1/2 to jaeger, nice – toe full, good finish to bhardwaj, form, some legs – maloney to pak, hit – misses feet and extra cast hs before van leeuwen, hit, small leg break – DLO, holds the stick. Good overall. Will get hit for the extra hs but not too too much. 13.800. That will put her ahead of Zeiss by a tenth going to beam.

Fatta – BB – wolf triple, good first two, slows down on the third but gets it around – switch to split, solid – bhs loso series, good extension, clean – aerial, small arm wave, breaks connection – side aerial, check –

Carey – UB – Ray, hit – yezhova, solid – maloney to bhardwaj, clean – van leeuwen, solid – giant full – FTDT, stuck. A good one. 13.600

Fatta finished her beam routine out with a hit. 12.700

Disidore – UB – short first hs – Piked tkatchev to pak, some legs on pak, hit – full turn on low is late – van leeuwen, legs together, some feet – stalder 1/2 to jaeger, close catch – orphan giant 1/2 on hgih – DLO, pike way down, bound forward. 12.000

Shilese has been waiting for this beam routine for 84 minutes.

Jones – BB – arabian, excellent save as one of her feet slips, minimizes the wobble – switch to sissone, pretty – bhs loso, good extension and elevation – switch side, a bit crooked angle on split – straddle jump from side – split 1/2 from side, some foot position – side aerial, comfortable – bhs bhs double pike, bounce back. A beam hit. On her way to clinching her spot today. 13.600

Blakely to finish the rotation on beam, one of the most important routines of the day.

Blakely – BB – should roll legs mount, good – wolf triple, solid – back tuck full, hit, leg up check – fhs front tuck, grabs the beam – switch to switch 1/2 to back tuck, solid – aerial, small pause before split jump – side aerial, solid – double tuck, some cowboy, solid landing, step back. Well, a large error in there that will prevent her from getting a “YOU NEED THIS” score.

13.550 for Blakely still puts her in 2nd on the event thus far and keeps her in 4th AA going to floor. So not a complete disaster.

AA is Jones, Chiles, Carey, Blakely, Wong. A big beam hit from Wong in the next rotation is all we need for a very, very straightforward selection process.

Rotation 4

Chiles – FX – 1.5 through to FTDT, hit, bounce back – DLO 1/1, a bit short, hop forward – L hop full to split leap full, some feet – switch side 1/2, not quite all the way around, so a credit risk – front loso to double tuck, small movement. 14.250 is a bit high for me.

Zeiss – BB – bhs mount hit – hits her bhs loso loso series with a little lean – wolf double, slow but solid – she had a larger break on an aerial later in the routine but kept it on, step on dismount – 12.900

Fatta – FX – 2.5 to double tuck, nicely done, got it around – DLO super super low, hands down, critical for her AA ranking today after Zeiss just stayed on beam – split jump full – front 2/1, crossover step. 12.500

Wong – BB – switch to wolf jump full, not quite around and a large lean – bhs loso series, secure – L turn, drops a little at the end, good toe point – switch ring is secure – aerial to split jump, small check – side aerial to sissone to wolf, pretty and smooth elements – side somi, hit – 2.5 dismount, hop forward, leg crossing. One larger error but should still be a good score. Hmm, 12.850, low. A lot of that is D score.

Jones – FX – wolf 2.25, definite credit – double double, solid, small hop back – split leap full, a little low on front leg – DLO, good height, bounce back, stays in bounds – double L turn, also definitely around – front tuck to double tuck – L gop full – switch 1/2, a bit short of split. 14.100

Nice one. That will win her the day.

Carey – BB – bhs loso loso, secure landing – side aerial, pause before split jump straddle jump – aerial, check before switch and swithc 1/2 – switch side, hit – bhs bhs double pike, step back

Blakely – FX – DLO 1/1 to open – secure landing, pike – DLO, chest down, small shuffle – switch ring to split leap 1.5 attempt, a little under – front 2/1, some twisting form, good landing control – switch 1/2 – double tuck, has to squeeze for dear life a little, shuffle back. Not bad. 13.450

Wong ends up finishing the AA only .050 ahead of Zeiss today, but ahead, and with a top-3 score on bars.

Armine’s stopwatch is a person of interest in every investigation.

Matthews – FX – 3/1, basically around, good control on landing, a bit of leg crossing – wolf double – 1.5 to front full, OOB with both feet – final pass is solid double tuck

Disidore – BB – loso mount hit, step back – press handstand to bhs loso, crazy form and falls – switch and a very short switch 1/2 to korbut – side somi, another fall – another large break on a side aerial – switch side, under split – double pike, bounce back. 10.700

Carey went 13.750 on beam because beam specialist.

Matthews goes 13.050 on floor, waiting on Disidore’s score and Neal’s routine on beam.

Neal – BB – switch to split 1/2, a bit short on split, nice switch – bhs bhs loso some crazy legs in those bhs – side aerial is good – L turn – aerial, leg position but secure – side somi, lean and leg up – double pike, chest down, large bounce back. Stayed on. 13.250 is a nice number.

No need to consult Excel on this one.

Jones, Chiles, Carey, Blakely, and Wong were the only athletes with top-3 scores on any event today.

I’d imagine Zeiss’s AA score today will get her on the traveling 6 as well. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I’m probably partial to Fatta for that position, but that floor fall might have spoiled her chances.

%d bloggers like this: