By way of a recap of the second day of women’s nationals, I’m just going to talk about the worlds team. Because that’s more fun.
Item #1: Ragan Smith is a lock
We know this. Smith won the national championship comfortably, is the top all-arounder the US has right now, and is the current favorite to become the world champion in 2017. She did her job at nationals, showing her upgrades with zero misses and just one wobbleburger across eight routines. She’s fine.
Item #2: The second all-arounder
Unlike the US men, who are best suited focusing on event medals even if the team itself is a little…huh?, the US women will be expected not only to win the all-around but to snatch two of the three medals, which happened in every AA final of the last quad. And then Larisa Iordache wins the other medal and everyone goes home happy. Done and done.
The surprise of nationals came from Jordan Chiles suddenly standing up (and accidentally going around three times) to take second place. She has improved tremendously across the three competitions we’ve seen from her this summer and has risen to take a place for herself in the second-AAer conversation, which she wasn’t even really in before nationals.
Also putting together a significantly hit performance was Riley McCusker, who went 8 for 8 to temporarily erase American Cup and Classic from our goldfish brains. SHE’S THE MOST CONSISTENT EVER.
McCusker finished third, but that’s a bit misleading. She would have finished second had FIG vault values been used at this competition. The FTY is a 4.6, but the US awards seniors only 4.4 for an FTY because of “Pull your ass together and stop doing baby trash, love Valeri and Rhonda” or something. Those extra four tenths would have put her into second over Chiles.
The expected upgrade back to a DTY for selection camp (presumably also aiming for her 6.1 D on beam instead of the 5.6 from nationals) keeps McCusker in a favored position for the second AA spot. She still has to show it and hit it—the DTY is not the most comfortable skill for her—but she does lead the conversation despite the rankings from nationals. The difference now is that she has company, and it’s not the company we expected it to be. If Chiles had hit her vault on the second day of nationals, she would have been at 57 in the all-around, which is not a casual score to beat. McCusker has to upgrade and hit at selection camp because the pressure will be on. She can’t cruise to an AA spot. Continue reading We Need to Talk about Worlds