Checking in with a few more teams that have been named since the last edition with GB, China, France, Japan, Australia, Canada.
We officially have the US team. Last night, the women’s program decided they hate floor tenths and demoted Kailya Lincoln to the Pan Am Games squad, but went with the next-highest-scoring team of five athletes in Simone Biles, Shilese Jones, Skye Blakely, Leanne Wong, and Joscelyn Roberson.
This squad currently enjoys an advantage of about 7 points over the next-closest team based on 2023 averages:
Around the same advantage exists over the rest of the countries when we look at the 2023 peak numbers for each team member:
So what I’m saying is the US looks like 7-point favorites to retain a team title that they won by 3 points last year without Simone. Sounds about right.
OK, enough of the boring stuff. Now let’s get into what on earth is going on with Italy.
On the one hand, everyone is broken. Now, in addition to the injuries to Asia D’Amato and Martina Maggio, Giorgia Villa has also withdrawn from worlds, while team member Angela Andreoli has been limited to not performing floor because of her own injury issues.
I’m starting to think that the witch who appeared in a cloud of smoke and offered Enrico Casella a team medal in 2019 wasn’t on the up-and-up after all. Did he even ask whether the elixir that created a generation of gymnasts who perform with the unmatched splendor of a thousand falcons came with the loophole that they had only three total legs to share among them?
Yet, somehow, the scores are still theoretically there. Even excluding Serie A results, this team average really holds up compared to the non-US countries:
There’s absolutely no bars safety net on this team, there are definitely holes (chasms? abysses?) in this floor lineup, and they have to put a significant workload on Iorio—all of which is to say these scores may very well be a mirage. But, if Alice D’Amato and Manila Esposito bring the level of gymnastics they performed at the national championship a couple weeks ago, this team still has massive scoring potential.
Going by 2023 highs, Italy also current sits 2nd in the standings behind the US:
Brazil has gone with the expected six of Rebeca Andrade, Flavia Saraiva, Jade Barbosa, Julia Soares, Lorrane Oliveira, and Carolyne Pedro, and while they have not yet defined an alternate, the general assumption based on the scores and the everything is that the alternate role will go to Pedro.
So, now, how does this team shape up against the other medal contenders? Using average, the Brazilian team scores like this (using Andrade’s floor from 2022 since she hasn’t done floor this year):
This 163.088 team average also holds up well, staying a touch ahead of China’s 163.031, and ahead of the 162.330 for Great Britain. What Brazil will mostly enjoy about this picture is that—as was the case with Great Britain—this definitely understates the scoring potential of several routines in there (for example, Saraiva scored 14.200 on floor at worlds last year), and a good hit day would score better than this.
What this score definitely tells us is that Brazil as team medalists in 2023 is far from a crazy idea. They’re missing the track record that the GB team has (Olympic bronze, then world silver), but they have the gymnastics to make a realistic case as the second best team at worlds on talent.
And then for best score of the year (so again, best floor of 2022 for Andrade):
The Dutch team is official as well following two trial events, with a five of Naomi Visser, Eythora Thorsdottir, Vera Van Pol, Sanna Veerman, and Sanne Wevers, joined by Tisha Volleman as the traveling alternate, while Elze Geurts joins Kaliya Lincoln on the Team of Betrayals.
This Dutch team has been scoring pretty well this year and should be considered a favorite for Olympic qualification with a solid shot at reaching the team final (scores have put them consistently in that 8-9 range). Their averages right now are a little behind the Japan/Frances of the world but keep them ahead of the Canada/Australias.
|Vera Van Pol||13.314||12.909||12.392||12.692|
The Netherlands fares a little better when it comes to maximum scores, moving ahead of Japan in the hierarchy. Basically, when Eythora stays on all the events at the same time, the sun comes out.
|Vera Van Pol||13.967||13.267||13.300||13.333|
The tough run for Germany has continued with the Elisabeth Seitz Achilles tear, which bites a big chunk out of Germany’s scoring potential for worlds this year. Germany has named a six-member squad of Pauline Schäfer, Emma Malewski, Sarah Voss, Meolie Jauch, Lea Marie Quaas, and Karina Schönmaier and will be thanking grey-eyed Athena that Sarah Voss is back from injury in time for worlds because otherwise this team would be in real(er) trouble.
For team-score purposes I have Schönmaier as the alternate because she adds the least to the team score, but you’d have to think it could be anyone who isn’t in the Schäfer-Malewski-Voss crew. But really, without Seitz, Germany will need new senior Meolie Jauch’s potential bars score to come through.
For average, we’re looking at this:
|Lea Marie Quaas||13.153||12.228||11.933||12.528|
This average puts Germany squarely in the bubble zone for the top 12 for Olympic team qualification—and kind of in the low end of the bubble zone at that, below the yearly averages for teams like South Korea and Mexico (!) and Hungary and Romania (!).
This squad does have the gymnastics to pull it off and rise above all the aforementioned nations, especially if Voss has a big day, which would elevate score projections significantly. But the underdogs are swarming and will be eager to take out a perennial qualifier that has reached each of the last four Olympics as a team. Even the maximum score team, which features some fairly ambitious numbers overall, still doesn’t rank in the top 12 among max team scores at worlds this year.
|Lea Marie Quaas||13.500||12.950||12.800||13.150|
Speaking of South Korea…
For much of the year, South Korea and Australia have been heading up the “teams that could spoil the party” conversation with regard to Olympic qualification, and there’s a reason for that.
This is a top-12 team average right now, and this picture is built up of……mostly reasonable scores. There’s nothing out of the question here, even in a tightly scored worlds environment.
Not having super weird scores this year is what South Korea will lean on because, when we switch over to peak scores, they don’t rank among the top 12 countries. Taking in this whole picture, though, I would say South Korea’s peak scores are among the least insane of all the countries. No, they’re not all going to happen at worlds with hits, but these scores aren’t as peppered with laughable domestic nonsense and could end up closer to real life.
Why has Mexico become the cool new spoiler pick for Olympic qualification? Here’s why.
This team average currently ranks in exactly 12th place, showing that Mexico is certainly in the qualification mix and it…might…not even require some crazy circumstances or a meltdown from another country or three to get there. And if they actually all hit beam, then watch out.
Significantly for Mexico, most of the athletes on this team just competed at the Paris World Cup, after which this team score increased by 3 tenths. Three tenths isn’t some super huge amount, but it does allow us to assume that these numbers for Mexico aren’t necessarily fictional—if the scores they got at a real FIG event (even one with some funkadelic results *cough* beam final *cough*) were improvements over the scores they had been getting.
Like South Korea, that’s what Mexico will hold onto because peak scores in 2023 see them drop below a number of the European countries that Mexico is outscoring on average.
Don’t forget about Hungary. This team should be considered right in the mix for Olympic qualification, and their scores this year have also been hovering around that 12th-place cutoff.
Basically, after that Japan/France/Netherlands group in the top 9 teams, and then Australia (Australia really should be in the group for Olympic qualification, but also it’s been so long since they’ve had results that you don’t trust it), there would be just 2 Olympic team spots left. South Korea is in there, Germany is in there, Mexico is in there, and definitely Hungary is in there.
Hungary’s max scores this year paint a particularly impressive image, but they are also deeply reliant on Zsofia Kovacs carrying all the luggage (thought not necessarily as much as in years past since new senior Bettina Lili Czifra has been scoring so well). Kovacs competed at Hungarian Championships last weekend but did not perform full difficulty, so it may be a race against time to see if she is able to deliver these kinds of numbers at worlds.
This 156.392 is right on par with the numbers for Hungary and Mexico. It’s just one of those things where you look at these scores and how team-competitive they are, and then look at the cemetery that is the last 10-15 years of Romanian gymnastics, and decide it’s all a hallucination. But they have the gymnastics to be discussed as legitimate Olympic team qualifiers.
I won’t say that these are among the scores I trust as the most…realistic, but the potential game changer for Romania is that Lilia Cosman and Amalia Ghigoarta are both legitimately lovely on bars. Sometimes Ghigoarta gets a 9 in a way that recalls the worlds team of 2015, but her form certainly does not. But what that 2015 team had that this year’s team doesn’t is three DTYs.
We’re still waiting on a few teams like Spain and Belgium, but what we’ve seen from scores so far this year would have those teams a couple points back of this group.