After a full summer of gymnastics, the US team for the world championships has been chosen. I apologize for missing the US Classic, the US GYmnastics Championships, and the US Worlds Selection Camp. I worked this summer, which caused me to slack on my blogging. I will try to be better.
The USA team consists of Simone Biles, Riley Mccusker, Morgan Hurd, Kara Eaker, Grace Mccallum, and Ragan Smith, with Smith the likely alternate. Enjoy!
Simone Biles: After coming back at the US classic in July, Simone has shown us that she is still far-and-away the best gymnast in the world. Simone swept nationals (the first woman to do that since Dominique Dawes) and won the all around at selection camp, despite falling on her beam dismount. In addition, she unveiled the Cheng-half at selection camp (6.4 D) and scored an astronomical 16.0.
At worlds, Simone will be expected to win the All-around, vault, floor, and has been looking like a good bet for a beam gold as well (despite facing competition from Kara Eaker and Sanne Wevers, among others). She can also contend for the bars final, mainly due to her Van Leeuwen and Fabrichnova dismount (double-double off of bars) upgrades. Simone is certainly the leader of the team, and will likely be the top scorer on three out of four events (4/4 is possible, but unlikely). Though she’s a superstar, saying that she carries this team, or that her teammates would fail without her is insulting and untrue. Her teammates are a star-studded group of athletes, which includes:
Riley Mccusker: After coming back from a season-ending injury last year, I had tampered expectations for Riley this year. However, she blew my expectations out of the water, placing second in the all-around at the US Classic (behind Biles, and ahead of Morgan Hurd), and following that up with a third place all around finish at the US Championships. Mccusker has shown tremendous improvements, mainly on vault and bars, re-upgrading to a DTY on vault and adding a Ricna+Pak+Chow 1/2 combo on bars. Mccusker is looking like a likely bet for one of the all-around spots after finishing second at the selection camp, but will likely be relegated to bars and beam in the team final.
Morgan Hurd: After winning the world championships last year, Hurd seemed like a different gymnast, with such confidence, evidenced by her American Cup performance and the fact that she hit eight out of eight routines at nationals for the first time. Hurd placed third at the US Classic after falling on beam, second at nationals after hitting eight out of eight, and third at the selection camp, after hitting all of her routines, but making sizable errors on floor and beam. Hurd was put on this team with the intention of being the third all around gymnast, but her most recent performance has left some people questioning her status. Grace Mccallum beat Hurd (even with a fall on bars) at camp, so Morgan will have to show that she is still the #2-#3 all arounder when worlds roll around. In the team final, the only event Hurd will undoubtedly perform is bars, where she has been the consistent third-best on the team. If she can pull it together, she´ll also be expected to do floor and vault, where she can provide strong leadoff routines for team USA.
Kara Eaker: Eaker was put on this team for her spectacular beam routine. Despite a rocky start to her season, falling at the US Classic, Eaker has shown tremendous confidence and precision on the event, slowly climbing the rankings. Eaker placed second to Biles on the event at nationals, and then went on to win the Pan American Championship title on beam, solidifying her place as a contender for the team.
Eaker peaked when she needed to, placing first on beam at the selection camp with a MASSIVE 15.150. Though her routine is connection-heavy, and some are worried about her ring position being devalued, Kara has shown that she can aggressively hit her tricky connections, and is a true gold medal contender on beam if she hits. In the team final, Kara will be expected to anchor her specialty event, and I could see them putting her on floor if Hurd can’t pull it together (Eaker won bronze on floor at pan ams).
Ragan Smith: After a rough start to 2018, placing ninth in the all around at nationals, and consistently falling on bars, Ragan Smith rebounded at the selection camp. She managed to place third on beam, fourth on floor, and fifth in the all around, good enough to make the team, even if she is likely to take the alternate spot.
It is possible for her to sneak onto the main team. Her best shot will be to consistently outscore Kara Eaker on beam, which is a big ask, but it can happen, if Eaker opens the door. She could also take the spot currently held by Grace Mccallum, by outscoring her in the all around and on floor.
Grace Mccallum: This year, Grace Mccallum has been the little engine that could, winning the all around at Pacific Rims and Pan Ams, and following it up with a fourth place finish at nationals. At selection camp, Mccallum solidified her spot by finishing third with a fall on bars (a truly terrifying fall on the catch of her Van Leeuwen). When Jade Carey was in the picture, Mccallum seemed likely to take the traveling alternate role for the team. Without her, though, Grace provides a good DTY and a TF worthy floor routine, so she´s basically slipped into the role Jade Carey would play for the team. Though she should be one of the five, it is possible for Smith to pass her if she seems to be more prepared on floor, or if she is beating her in the all around.
Where is Jade?:
Notably absent from this team is World vault and floor silver medalist, Jade Carey. Carey showed up to nationals with an upgraded, and HUGE floor set, along with a DTY/Amanar and Lopez combo on vault. Jade won both of her events at pan ams, and was invited to the selection camp. Jade declined invitation to the selection camp and seems to be eyeing an individual spot at the Olympics for vault and floor. The Balance Beam Situation does a fantastic job of explaining the qualification procedure for the individuals, and why this is a good idea for Jade, but not so good for Team USA, so check them out!
VT: (Riley) Morgan, Grace, Simone
UB: (Grace) Morgan, Simone, Riley
BB: (Morgan) Riley, Simone, Kara
FX: (Riley) Morgan?, Grace, Simone
But what if Eaker is the alternate?
VT: (Riley) Morgan, Grace, Simone
UB: (Grace?) Morgan, Simone, Kara
BB: (Morgan) Riley, Ragan, Simone
FX: (Riley) Morgan, Grace, Simone
But what if Mccallum is the alternate?
VT: (Riley) Ragan, Morgan, Simone
UB: (Ragan) Morgan, Simone, Riley
BB: (Morgan/Riley) Ragan, Simone, Kara
FX: (Riley) Kara/Ragan, Morgan, Simone
For fun: Team #2: Shilese Jones, Jordan Chiles, Alyona Shchennikova, Audrey Davis, Trinity Thomas
VT: (Trinity) Audrey, Shilese, Jordan
UB: (Shilese) Trinity, Audrey, Alyona
BB (Alyona/Audrey) Shilese, Jordan, Trinity
FX: (Alyona?) Jordan, Shilese, Trinity