Day 1 – Friday, August 9, 6:30pm CT (NBCSN)
Day 2 – Sunday, August 11, 6:30pm CT (NBC)
It’s the big one. At least until selection camp. Which, let’s be honest, is the bigger one. While Simone is Simone and blah blah blah, the supposed expansion of the senior national team to 10 members all named after nationals means that each of the 17 gymnasts in the senior field has something legitimate riding on this competition. Let’s go one by one.
It may seem strange, but the least significant stakes in this meet accompany the performance of Simone Biles, the inevitable champion. She’s going for her casual sixth national championship, and it would take a catastrophic number of falls for her not to achieve that (I’m thinking at least four across the two days, probably more like five or six). Even if that were somehow to happen, it wouldn’t change anything with regard to her world-favorite status. Here, she just has to show up and give the people a thrill.
In that regard, let’s talk about that triple double. Because Simone showed us the triple double in podium training at Classic, that means she basically has to compete it at nationals, right? That’s the implicit agreement? Correct.
Blakely’s goal here will be to try to make the national team, and as a member of that Pan Ams training squad of 8, she has to think she’s at least in the picture. But it’s going to be difficult. Blakely competed three events at Classic (VT, BB, FX) for a 39.900, and you have to think she needs to add back bars at nationals to have a shot at a national team spot. Bars isn’t always a great score for Blakely, but she did go 13.500 at Gymnix this year, which is her best score on the event as a senior elite. If we take that number and add it to her Classic total, that would put her at 53.400 in the all-around, which would have placed 13th.
We don’t know exactly how these national team spots are going to be assigned, if it will go directly by AA or if there will be some kind of thought and strategy used, but I have to think Blakely is the kind of athlete who needs to get there by AA placement. Blakely is capable of scoring much better than she did at Classic on both beam and floor—she didn’t fall but can realistically add at least a half point to her E score on both pieces—but she’s probably looking at needing to have an ideal meet both days of competition to get into that top 10.
For the most part, Jade did Jade on vault and floor at Classic. Of course there are form things we can go into, but she tied for both the 2nd-highest floor score in the competition and the 2nd-highest vault score. Her argument to go to worlds to compete vault and floor for the team and for possible individual medals remains quite strong, and as long as she keeps it up on those events, she’s in solid shape.
To me, her bars and beam routines are essentially irrelevant to her prospects. Putting together worlds team permutations, I don’t see a possible realistic team where she does those events even in qualification. They have no bearing on her quest for an individual Olympic spot and should have no bearing on her position on the national team, which should be a lock. I say should.
Still, hitting bars and beam at nationals could put her surprisingly high in the all-around standings.
Without much training time under her belt, Chiles set a solid progress point at Classic, particularly with a beam routine that looked more confident than we’ve ever seen her on that event.
That Classic performance was good enough for 11th place in the AA, but to get on the national team, and to make the selection camp group, we’re going to have to see Chiles level-up again at championships beyond what we saw at Classic. She’ll need to reproduce those strong bars and beam routines while also delivering the floor landings and difficulty—or, dare I say, bring back the Amanar again. If she does, she’ll have an excellent shot at getting on the national team, but Chiles is certainly not in a safe position. She has to hit, hit, hit at nationals to make it happen. Last year, she didn’t hit, hit, hit at nationals, placed 11th overall, and didn’t make the national team—though she did attend the selection camp as a non-national team invitee. Continue reading US Nationals – Senior Women’s Preview