All posts by balancebeamsituation

Men’s Olympic Trials Day 1 – Live Blog

Trials. It’s happening.

For the first day of men’s competition, I’d say the most important performance belongs to Shane Wiskus. He was on all the prospective teams before nationals, but his performance at that meet left other options looking at least as viable. A real hit on high bar as well as improvements on vault would do wonders for his chances.

So in the first rotation, seeing if Wiskus can come up with better vault landings than he had at nationals will be significant, as will Brody Malone on high bar, who needs to produce another hit there to be like, “I’m obviously on the team.”

Leading off the first rotation will be Donnell Whittenburg attempting a Ri Se Gwang I, so…it won’t be boring.

Also we’re starting with the three rotation groups on vault, PBars, and HBar for some reason. You know, like the order you have. And then on day 2, they’re starting on floor, rings, and Pbars. There must be a reason for this madness…but what?

NBCSN is the TV broadcast, and the apparatus stream is here.

Oooh, Nedoroscik got the coveted “third person we cut to” role, following Malone and Mikulak. Big upset.

Nastia is going as Rita Skeeter for men’s.

Colin Van Wicklen will not compete. And then there were 19.

Sam interviewed by Andrea. Chill and love and good and love.

Rotation 1

Whittenburg – VT 1 – Tsuk double tuck 1/1 – actually successfully lands it, which is a big deal for him, hops back, but, you know, not a fall. 15.050, huge.

Modi – HB – german giants, struggles working out of them and scrapes his leg – hit the rest. 13.600 and a 7.7 E score, about exactly what he was doing at nationals.

Whittenburg hits his double front second vault but actually a weaker landing than the first vault, large lunge forward.

Mikulak – VT – very solid Kas 1.5, small hop forward, a bit of knees. Good. 14.350

Briones has a really nice finishing position on his tak 1/1 on HB, but then the tak 1/2 was basically horizontal. Finishes with DLO 1/1, stuck.

Really nice Kas 1.5 from Wiskus, what he needed, but a bit of knees and a small hop. Strong.

Bock clipped his foot on a front straddle on PBars. He follows 13.450 from Bower there.

Just 13.300 for Briones on HB.

Loos – HB – Yam, good – tkatchev – tkatchev 1/2, clean catches – tak 1/2 somewhat crooked, not as late as Briones – DLO 1/1, stuck landing, a bit of piking throughout. Good start. 13.200, just a 4.9 D score.

14.600 on vault for Wiskus. Giant score.

Malone – HB – “we’ll talk more about the rodeo as we go along” MUST WE? – Cassina, just does get his hands around, a little leg break – Kolman is good – layout tkatchev to tkatchev 1/2, hit – layout tkatchev 1/2, comfortable – tak 1/1, nearly went over the wrong way but pulled it back well – DLO 2/1, somewhat short, hop forward. Some errors but will still be a solid score.

14.450 with a 6.5 D score. Quite a bit lower than he was getting at nationals, but still a useful HB score in the US.

Tim trying to make something out of Yul taking a long time to chalk the PBs. Like, he’s obviously in a scoring delay, just like always?

Moldauer – PB – good front straddle 1 1/14 – diam is nicely done – small hesitation out of peach – hits makuts cleanly – front tuck 1/2 – double front 1/2 out, chest pretty well down but he holds the stick with a lean. Solid start.

14.4 from Moldauer, down a bit on his nationals scores.


I actually was surprised by that score, but I’m sure they weren’t pleased by that chest position on landing.

Vaulters, Malone, and Mooldauer lead the AA after 1.

Rotation 2

Briones – FX – double front pike, hop – double double is clean, small hop – front 2/1 just a little short – really solid work overall

Bower – HB – yam, some pike – Kovacs is hit – layout tkatchev, some shape but hit – tak 1/1, nice vertical – stalder – DLO 1/1, hop back. Through it. 12.950.

Mikulak – PB – front toss, clean – healy, good – disastrous 1/2 turn attempt out of peach, loses his legs and doesn’t get to handstand – front straddle to long swing is good, bhavsar also solid – tippelt extremely clean – stutz, nice – double front dismount, holds stick with a lean. Most of it was great, but a large error in there.

13.900 for Briones on floor, OK but he can get 14s. Loss matches him with a 13.900 as well.

13.950 for Mikulak. Rough days.

Malone – FX – front full to double pike, hop – 2.5 to front 2/1, small hop – double double, nearly finds stick – 1.5 to front 1.5, hit – 3/1, step back. Better than nationals.

Yoder finishes PBars with a double front 1/2 that’s so high. 13.900 there.

13.750 for Bock on HB, scoring much better than at Pan Ams.

14.600 for Malone with an 8.6 E score. Hugely up on his nationals numbers.

Wiskus – PB – healy, clean – peach to giant to front tuck 1/2, lands it well, slight hestiation on catch and missed a hand but covered it well – good handstand on diam, front straddle – good swing through bhavsar – tippelt, solid – double front, small hop. Pretty work.

Moldauer – HB – tak 1/1, late and some tucking – yam, quite low and some piking – tkatchev – tak 1/2, tucks it, very late that time – DLO 1/1 is clean and stuck. Survived?

Whitteburg – PB – healy, leg break but gets to handstand – peach 1/2 with some walking – double back to arms is nice but all over the place on some of these handstand control moments – double front onto the bars – front pike – great flight elements – double front 1/2 out, saves the stick with a swim. OK.

Modi went 14.150 on floor, which is a really strong result for him.

OUCH. Yul just 12.450 on HB. I’m not sure he was expecting thattt low, Tim. You can’t put Bower on a team with him the way they both got 12s on HB today.

That means Wiskus will have the lead after 2 rotations.

After 2:
Wiskus 29.100
Malone 29.050
Mikulak – 28.300
Whittenburg – 28.250
Neff – 28.150

Moldauer down in 11th after that HB. Bower is 13th. They’ll move up now that HB is done, but no mistakes allowed.

Saying that Nedoroscik was “on track” to win an apparatus spot is quite a statement. There was a lot of hitting a winning between where he was and winning PH.

Rotation 3

Loos is starting us off on PH – has a lot of hip angle moments and does not come up to handstand on dismount.

The high bar apparatus stream has this cool feature where it freezes during every release.

Just 12.400 for Loos. 13.300 for Bock on floor.

Malone on horse now – his work is pretty low to the pommel and there are a number of little leg breaks in here, so I don’t expect a high execution score.

Tim has done even more analysis of the MAG gymnast butt situation than I have.

We’ve got a dueling Wiskus HB and Nedoroscik PH situation right now, which is fun.

Immediate fall for Nedoroscik. This is why we can’t have nice things. I don’t want to do this meet anymore.

What a jewel he is.

Looking back on Wiskus on HB – no Cassina today – hits Kolamn with some legs – Kovacs is hit – tak 1/1, pulls it around to handstand pretty well – tak 1/2 is later, which has been a theme – DLO 1/1, stuck landing, some knees throughout. Solid work.

13.800 for Wiskus. He’d really have wanted a 14, but getting 13.800 without the Cassina…

Moldauer – FX – punch randi si short, hop forward – better landing on second pass, stuck – front 2/1 to front full, stuck – 2.5 to rudi, a pretty large bounce back – 3/1, holds the stick. 14.250. Gets away with a pretty solid number there.

Modi has a hesitation up to handstand on horse and the usual things, but through it.

Dyer – FX – double front pike 1/2 out, solid – double double layout, small hop – a couple small hops, nothing large – double front tuck 1/2 out, same – 2/1, clean – Tong Dei gets a yell – 2.5 to 1/2, very clean and stuck – double dobule tuck with a stagger back, chest down.

Mikulak – HB – Cassina is hit – Kolman, also gets it – layout tkatchev – tkatchev – tkatchev 1/2 is a problem, muscles out of itwith a hesitation – tak 1/2, gets vertical but a clear leg break there – DLO 2/1, hop back. OK, not super clean. I’m surprised by 13.850 a bit.

Why are they pretending to be surprised by Yul’s floor score? That was not a good one for him, and he got away with a good number.

Bower – FX – double front pike, large bounce forward – double double tuck, stuck landing, good – front 2/1 to front full – holds a couple sticks, has a few moments of slightly ragged legs in twisting – 3/1, a bit short. OK, not ideal. Still gets 14.400.

We’re halfway done and Wiskus is retaining the lead.

After 3:
Wiskus – 42.900
Malone – 42.450
Mikulak – 42.150
Nedd – 41.500
Moldauer/Whittenburg 41.100

Whittenburg managed to stay in the top 5 after a 12.850 on HB, to illustrate how today is going.

Andrea with a special report on Paul Juda.

Diab is up on rings, and if Nedoroscik and Yoder can’t get their PH together. A small hesitation in an inverted cross, but ottherwise quite good – double double tuck, hop back.

“One of the best routines of your life.” So the HYPERBOLE IS OUT tonight.

Juda is a little stuttery on his scissors at the beginning on PH, but a really solid routine after that, lovely flare work.

14.500 for Diab isn’t going to get that spot.

Wiskus – FX – double front pike, bound forward, possible OOB – double front 1/2 out, secure landing, some legs apart – double double tuck is clean, small hop – 2.5 to front full, holds it well – very low 1/2 turn in combination, comes out totally horizontal and has to save it – 3/1, holds it with a lean. One large error though.

Malone 14.200 on rings, again a little lower for him but a useful score.

Neff 13.600 on floor, another solid number for him.

Wiskus gets to 14.000 for floor.

Whittenburg – FX – front full to double front pike, short, stumble back – double double layout, hop, chest forward – double front pike 1/2 out is apretty solid, but another fairly large hop – double double tuck, chest forward, hop – nice stick on final pass.

Moldauer through PH with a hit, which is important for him.

Mikulak – FX – punch rudi, stuck, good – back 2.5 to double front, well short, just does save it with a squat – double front pike, great stick – front 2/1 to front full, hit – 2/1, stuck – 3/1, holds the stick with quite a lean that will get deducted. Had the deep squat, but I expect a real score.

Moldauer will certainly take a 14.100 for his PH.

14.600 on floor for Mikulak. That will work. He’ll be ahead of Malone and close to Wiskus now.

Bower is through PH with a good hit, though the mistakes he needed other people to have today aren’t really happening, with Wiskus hitting HB and Moldauer hitting PH.

After 4:
Wiskus 56.900
Mikulak 56.750
Malone 56.650
Moldauer 55.200
Neff 55.100

So…it’s exciting for the top 3 spots right now. Though I think what we’ve learned so far tonight is that the top 4, aka your team before any of this started, is looking pretty good.

Yoder to PH in this rotation.

Rotation 5

Malone – VT – nearly finds the stick on his Kas 1.5, small hop back

14.500 for him there.

An upset: The Gunther Cam.

Wiskus gets through PH with a 13.500. Whittenburg will have to get through it now.

Whittenburg nearly survived PH, looked like he was going to, but came off at the end right before dismount.

Moldauer sticks double double tuck after rings.

Mikulak up now on horse – he’s ALL OVER THE PLACE in the legs department throughout that thing. But…he stayed on?

Mikulak just 13.150 on horse. No better than nationals despite staying on.

Critical PH from Yoder now. Big hit for him. Very nicely done.

Loos with a Kas 2/1 and hit with a bounce back.

15.050 for Yoder.

Neff loses his swing toward the end on PH, which will drop him out of the top 5.

I feel like Tim is overpromising in the Yoder regard. If Nedoroscik hits his full difficulty on day 2, I could still see it being him.

After 5
Malone – 71.150
Wiskus – 70.400
Mikulak – 69.900
Moldauer – 69.250
Briones – 68.750

So, still seeing no reason for that four not to be the four, even though pommel horse.

And now the USOPTC group gets to end on…RINGS. What a climax.

Rotation 6

Nastia is like, “Brody Malone has already won, all he needs to do is 7 more routines perfectly.”

We’ve got a hit Kas 1.5 from Moldauer for 14.400, a solid number today. Two small steps.

Dyer goes for Kas 2/1, comes up short, chest down and a bit of a stagger. Second vault is an excellent handspring double front, stuck.

14.100 on rings for Whittenburg, which is one of the better rings scores of the day, but not a specialist score.

Mikulak on rings, some low angle on a planche – mostly fine, one handstand hesitation – double double tuck and a large bounce back.

Eeesssh 13.300 on rings for Mikulak.

Modi 13.950 on PB, finishes up on 82.550. Mikulak will finish behind Moldauer now.

Bower VT – Kas 1.5, nice stick, very much his usual, some leg form. Still goes 14.500.

Wiskus finishes on rings – only bursts a couple of forehead arteries, so a successful day for him – good handstands – double double tuck dismount, lunge back

The 13.900 for Wiskus on rings, which is solid for him and puts him well ahead of Moldauer and Mikulak.

Malone finishes on PB – slightly short on hs to start – Makuts very nice – bit of angle getting up to hs on peach – tippelt, clean – healy, good – diam, a little bit of travel – stutz is clean, double pike, a little short with a hop.

Malone – 85.250
Wiskus – 84.300
Moldauer – 83.650
Mikulak – 83.200
Briones – 82.700
Modi – 82.550
Bower – 82.500
Juda – 82.200

So now let’s work with some numbers.

No surprise, but the Malone, Wiskus, Moldauer, and Mikulak team is the best-scoring group by a clear margin.

The next-best would have Bower in place of Mikulak, of which there is a 0% chance of that happening.

Will be interesting to see what happens with PH on day 2, and whether Whittenburg upgrades his second vault to try to get in there as a specialist. Though will be tough if Yoder gets another 15 on PH or Nedoroscik goes huge because that’s kind of where their mind has been.

Olympic Trials – Broadcast Schedule and Links

Thursday, June 24
Scores Stream
6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT – Men’s Trials Day 1 LINK NBCSN

Friday, June 25
Scores Stream

7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT – Women’s Trials Day 1
(First half of rotation 1)


NBC stream

8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT – Women’s Trials Day 1
(Remainder of competition)

Saturday, June 26
Scores Stream
3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT – Men’s Trials Day 2
(Rotation 1)

NBC stream

4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT  – Men’s Trials Day 2
(Remainder of competition)

Sunday, June 27
Scores Stream
8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT – Women’s Trials Day 2
(First half of rotation 1)

NBC stream

8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT – Women’s Trials Day 2
(Remainder of competition)


All of this requires a US-based cable log-in, so don’t ask.

The 10 Most Important Routines at Olympic Trials

By way of a preview of the Olympic Trials—which start tomorrow, as in actually tomorrow—I’m dispensing with some of the headlines we’ve played into the ground and instead running through what I view as the actual most important routines in the competition for defining what the Olympic squads will look like.

So, no, Simone’s routines aren’t that important. She could vape right into a baby’s crib as her beam mount and still make the team.

1. Grace McCallum’s Bars

Much attention will be on Grace McCallum at trials because she has recently found herself only a few tenths shy of a place on the highest-scoring potential teams—all while competing below the level we’ve seen from her in the past. Progressing back up to her 2019 quality could very well get McCallum a top-4 all-around placement and a spot on the team.

I was tempted to say floor is the most important for McCallum because that’s somewhere she could add a tenth or so to the team score by stepping up some of the tumbling and give herself another compelling event, but the real appeal of McCallum is her “all-arounder you could use anywhere” status. Her best Olympic case is that she gives you anything and everything. A tenth over here, a tenth over there, a backup routine over there.

So the main problem for McCallum is the uncomfortable fact that she has missed on 5 of her last 6 competitive bars routines dating back to 2019 worlds trials (with one big score from worlds qualification mixed in there). Without figuring out bars, she’s not going to place very well in the all-around, and without placing well in the all-around, do we really see her being taken for an Olympic team in this era?

2. Leanne Wong’s Floor

That 14.200 from the first day of nationals. That 14.200 on floor put Wong on the highest-scoring team based on that day’s scores and (along with a usually-clean DTY) could serve as her ticket onto an Olympic team. But that’s quite a could.

That 14.200 floor would have to show up both days of competition at trials, a level of consistency we have not yet seen. Wong’s other 2021 floor scores have ranged from 12.950 to 13.900, and none of that is really going to cut it.

At times this year, Wong has gone 14.200 on floor, 14.450 on beam, and 14.800 on vault. Those are all Olympic team scores, showing that she has the capability within her to make this team, but those scores have not been showing up more than once in a blue moon, and definitely not together in the same meet. Wong must have the meet of her life at trials, turning personal peaks into her normal, to make that team.

3. Sunisa Lee’s Vault

TWIST, I know.

Now, vault may not be that important for Sunisa Lee’s specific individual chances since she and Jordan Chiles just need to go through with a majority of hits at this point to make the team. Lee would make the Olympic team for…literally any other event before vault, but her score there will be extremely important for all the borderline gymnasts in defining what the highest-scoring US team ends up needing.

The lower Lee scores on vault, the more advantageous it is for a vault-specific gymnast like MyKayla Skinner. If Lee is scoring around a 14.2 on vault, then Skinner’s potential 15 adds a huge amount to a team score and could legitimately put her on a highest-scoring team for that event alone. If Lee is going 14.5+, however, then Skinner’s vault isn’t adding nearly as much, and those who have a combination of small amounts on various events like McCallum are going to look more appealing.

4. MyKayla Skinner’s Floor

On that note, Skinner has looked consistent enough with her vault landings this year that we can basically assume a high score there.

But, Skinner is really going to want a second compelling event that can help her case if her vault score doesn’t end up adding that much—or that can cut into the all-around argument where others currently have the advantage over her (this is the Tom Forster era after all).

That second event for Skinner would be floor, but floor has been a bit of a ride this year. Skinner went just 13.000 on the first day of nationals, and even a big improvement on the second day got her to just 13.750. That 13.750 is where Sunisa Lee was scoring on floor anyway, and Lee is currently in default position as the #3 floor worker on the US team behind Biles and Chiles. Skinner would really need to be able to go 14 on floor at trials to give herself a compelling two-event argument.

5. Shane Wiskus’s High Bar

That’s right, I mentioned a man. Wiskus’s high bar at trials was going to be fascinating regardless considering that the last time we saw him he fell three times and everyone was like, “You know what my favorite skill is? Concussion testing.”

But in addition to just needing to come back from that debacle, Wiskus’s high bar is also extremely significant for his argument to make a US team. If Yul Moldauer is on the US team, he’s not going to deliver a strong high bar score in a team final, therefore if someone like Wiskus can produce a clearly usable high bar, that’s going to add a solid amount to a team total and make a very good case.

But if Wiskus can’t get the high bars scores, the US may just say, “Well, high bar is effed regardless. What’s up with pommel horse?”

6. Riley McCusker’s Bars

The news that Riley McCusker will be limited to bars and beam at trials has taken some of the nuance out of her selection argument here as I don’t see her being put on a four-member team without showing all four events at trials. Now, that doesn’t mean she won’t end up as part of the actual highest-scoring team based just on her bars and beam scores (she very well could—and I’ll be sure to talk about it if it happens), but they’re totally not doing that for the team.

This does, however, crystallize McCusker’s status as the frontrunner for the still undefined +1 position. Good beam work at trials would certainly reinforce that argument, but honestly as long as she continues hitting bars the way she did on the second day of nationals, she should have that +1 spot locked up. Falls from her, on the other hand, would be chaotic. McCusker is such a good option for the +1 that if they decide not to go that direction…what direction would they even go?

7. Stephen Nedoroscik’s Pommel Horse

The race for the US men’s +1 got lighter this week with the announcement that Eddie Penev was injured trying to upgrade his vault and will not compete at trials. His absence serves only to reinforce that we’re probably looking at Pommel Horse Fight between Stephen Nedoroscik and Alec Yoder for the +1 (unless the selectors decide to learn Alex Diab’s name for the first time).

Nedoroscik has the potential for higher difficulty and outscored Yoder by the smallest smidge at nationals and therefore probably holds the fate of that spot in his own hands if he hits to his potential at trials. But it’s pommel horse. So…

8. Kayla DiCello’s Beam

For the most part with Kayla DiCello, you can take any argument you have for Grace McCallum and translate it to DiCello because they are pretty much twins when it comes to their contribution to a team (and a fair amount of their routine composition). But the hitting has been a little different. While DiCello has been successfully making her argument for floor with 14s on both days of nationals, she has been struggling on beam in addition to bars.

Even if DiCello’s floor scores and a solid DTY make a really good scoring case for her inclusion on the team, it’s almost impossible to see her being taken in real life if she’s continuing to place low in the all-around thanks to misses on the other events. She’s got to figure out beam to have a chance to make this team.

9. Yul Moldauer’s Pommel Horse

Yul Moldauer should be considered a top-3 favorite for the Olympic team. Sam Mikulak is Sam Mikulak and could struggle as much as he did on the first day of nationals and still make the team, and Brody Malone’s national championship put him in very good position as the one other American who might score an 86. Beyond that, Moldauer typically makes the most sense for teams because of how many different options he can provide.

But Moldauer struggled on horse at nationals, so sort of like Sunisa Lee’s vault, his performance on PH at trials could have massive implications for the other people hoping to make the team. If he (or Mikulak, who also had horse problems at nationals but is a big ol’ lock) continues struggling on horse, that’s going to make someone like Allan Bower—who can contribute the most reliable pommel horse the US has for well over 14s—look very appealing as someone who can shore up that event. And you just ignore the first TF spot on high bar because whatever.

If, however, Mikulak and Moldauer look strong on horse at trials, you might feel pretty comfortable with how that event looks and turn instead to what Shane Wiskus might provide on high bar as a potential boost to the team score.

10. [Insert Gymnast Here]’s Beam

There are several gymnasts at trials—including Kara Eaker, Emma Malabuyo, Emily Lee, and Skye Blakely—who can pull out a truly massive beam score on their day. We have not seen it nearly consistently enough to put any faith in that from any of them, but if Riley McCusker does not end up performing like the favorite for the +1 that we all think she is, eyes may turn to what a beamer can provide if one of these athletes pulls out two days of 14.5+ work at trials.

Things Are Happening – June 19, 2021

A. China’s Olympic Test

This week, China conducted its first internal test for selecting the Olympic team, and like most competitions at this point, it pretty much only made the decision cloudier. Thanks a lot.

Zhang Jin took the all-around by the smallest smidge over Tang Xijing in 2nd and national champion Lu Yufei in 3rd. All three were separated by less than a tenth, and since they were already in the first tier of options heading into the competition, they’ll remain so following those performances.

Perhaps the most significant development, however, was the injury to Li Shijia (who led nationals after the first day) when working on her DTY, which forced her to scratch the competition. We don’t yet know the severity of the injury or whether it will preclude her from competing in the second test in a few weeks, but it may be a significant wrench in proceedings because, even if she is able to come back quickly, will she be able to perform a DTY? That’s an important potential piece separating her from some of the other contenders.

Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 19, 2021

The Big Three…and Me?

As the Olympic Trials approach with the speed of molasses (more than a week?!?!?!), the only thing becoming clearer is that nobody knows what the hell we’re supposed to do about this 4th team spot.

To illustrate that, today’s Score Corner takes a look at the average score across two days of the national championship and how each contender slots into a 3-up, team-score scenario with Biles, Lee, and Chiles already in place.

Every single option ends up within 6 tenths of each other. Fun!

Simone Biles15.67514.72514.62514.800
Sunisa Lee14.35015.10014.30013.725
Jordan Chiles14.92514.52514.00013.775
MyKayla Skinner14.95013.62512.80013.375
Simone Biles15.67514.72514.62514.800
Sunisa Lee14.35015.10014.30013.725
Jordan Chiles14.92514.52514.00013.775
Shilese Jones14.92514.35012.10012.875

In the event that Biles, Lee, and Chiles produce three compelling scores on bars, beam, and floor, those who can improve upon the Sunisa Lee vault number are going to add the most to the team, which is why we see those Skinner and Jones teams as producing the highest score.

In reality, I would be quite surprised if it ends up working out this way as I expect the ability to contribute a higher floor score, as well as real all-around options as needed, will be valued in selection. But, this is what we have from nationals.

Simone Biles15.67514.72514.62514.800
Sunisa Lee14.35015.10014.30013.725
Jordan Chiles14.92514.52514.00013.775
Kayla DiCello14.52513.22512.60014.050
Simone Biles15.67514.72514.62514.800
Sunisa Lee14.35015.10014.30013.725
Jordan Chiles14.92514.52514.00013.775
Leanne Wong14.65013.35013.17513.900

The next bunch of teams, with DiCello and Wong, comprises those who can add a little bit on vault and a little bit on floor. In this scenario, that’s not quite as beneficial as those who add a bigger vault number, but in practice this approach may be more treasured for its greater breadth of possible contribution (with Wong also harboring the potential to be able to increase that beam number if she were to, like, hit).

Continue reading The Big Three…and Me?