Panic abound on the gymternet earlier this week – “Is that tape I see on McKayla in that picture?” “She seems to be favoring her right foot in every picture.” “McKayla didn’t train today!” After the second day of light training, the panic became more pronounced. It definitely appeared that something was wrong. However, all USA gymnastics would say is that she hurt her toe, but is fine.
Fine is the same word they used to describe Anna Li on July 24 when she took a nasty fall from the uneven bars. It turns out the injury was worse than they thought and she is wearing a neck brace. “She tore a ligament in her neck, and she has been advised to wear the collar as well as check with a physician upon her return to the States. As a result, she is no longer training as a replacement athlete.” (Gymnastike)
McKayla did vault in podium training like a champ, but did not do floor. Finally, in the first interviews given in London, McKayla revealed that her toe is broken. NBC sheds light on the situation.
Maroney broke the toe in May, then aggravated the break in June. When she landed her beam dismount last Thursday, she split the bone even further. She did only light training the next few days to protect the toe.
McKayla’s view on the situation?
“Bad things happen you just have to make the best of it,” Maroney told NBCOlympics.com. “It does hurt. It’s broken. How is it not going to hurt? I just try to ignore it and I have worked so hard to be here I can ignore the pain for a little bit.” (For the whole interview, check out NBCOlympics.com)
It is not uncommon for a gymnast to compete on a broken foot. Chellsie Memmel did it in 2008. Rebecca Bross did it in 2010. But I can only imagine how painful it is! Here is hoping that no more injury is sustained to her toe, and that ALL the gymnasts (from all the countries) stay healthy from here on out.
And now it is time to take a look at our different bars specialists. First up, Anna Li. After an enormously successful NCAA career, Anna Li returned to elite gymnastics. She made the World Team in 2011, but after an abdominal injury became to painful, she was relegated to alternate. Her upbeat attitude and constant smiling support of the team as an alternate at the 2011 World Championships was as impressive as her incredible bars routines. At the 2012 Visa National Championships, Anna Li posted a difficulty of 6.7 and 6.9. This is by far the most difficult bar routine in the US. For comparison, Gabby Douglas posted a 6.5 and 6.6. She has recently blogged that she is working on her 7.1 routine. The only other gymnast posting that high of difficulty is China’s He Kexin (who may or may not be at the 2012 Olympics).
Anna Li also competes beam. But her difficulty scores are way too low to be used in a team finals situation. If Anna Li can upgrade her bars difficulty to a 7.1 AND improve her E score to be in the 8.9 range, she will make an incredibly strong case for herself as a bars specialist. This, along with another gymnast who can bring a high vault score and beam score might get her on the team.
Anna Li impresses me as a team leader, an incredibly sweet spirit and someone who can score the high bars scores we would need to keep a minimal gap with Russia on bars. She will need to bring her very best to Trials and compete two well-executed, high difficulty, hit routines.
Anna Li has also choreographed on of my very favorite floor routines with her mother. It is still to be seen if she will ever compete this routine again after a rough start at the US Secret Classics, but even the dance through was worth it. It gave me chills!
Through a fun twitter discussion, I realized that I have a formula for picking my Olympic team. It seems very obvious to me, but just in case Martha isn’t aware, I will spell it out.
The Big Three: Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman. Enough said.
The Bar Specialist: Replace Aly Raisman’s bar score. Kyla Ross is the most consistent. Then Rebecca Bross. Then Bridget Sloan. Anna Li currently has the most potential for the highest score. Then there is the wildcard Nastia Liukin. Basically, it will depend on who performs best for podium training and the two days of trials. Right now, Ross has proven herself. Everyone else will have to prove that they can consistently score higher (or much higher) than Ross
The Fifth Spot: If you choose Sloan, Li, or Ross, you need a beamer. This means Finnegan or ASac. If you choose Ross or Liukin then you just need the person who adds the most tenths to ANY area. Maroney on vault. Anna Li on bars. ASac on vault and beam. Finnegan on beam and floor. In that order. Also weighing in is Douglas’ consistency on floor and beam, and if we will need a score to replace hers. Or maybe a second bars specialist to replace Wieber. It will all come down to the math -averages and highs.
Now that we are all blue in the face with proclaiming our teams, the Olympic Trials need to arrive already so we can sanely go back to our normal lives. But really, who wants to?
In a previous post I wrote about who I would take as my team based on what I saw at the Visa National Championships and where people currently are at. That team was Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney. The first three are widely considered locks while the last two spots are definitely up for grabs. Now it is time to dream a little bit and ponder different possibilities and scenarios.
Martha has made no bones that she is looking for at least one if not two more high bar scores. Kyla Ross is the most consistent second score (after Gabby). But Bridget Sloan is right behind her (in terms of averages) and Anna Li is ahead of her in terms of high scores. Anna Li has blogged that she is working on a 7.1 bars routine. If Li can come in and show hit 7.1 routines in podium training and two days of Trials, she could take the bars specialist spot. Though Bross is doing really well on bars, she has yet to beat Ross in terms of average or high score. She would have to up her game to be considered. And then there is Nastia Liukin, the wild card. Say what we will about Nastia, we have had few people with the bars talent Liukin possesses in the many years of American gymnastics. If Liukin can bring it, no one, not even Douglas can beat her. If she can do it, she has a definite chance. But she has a lot of improving to do in three weeks to show that potential.
I have made no bones about it. My absolute favorite gymnast is Alicia Sacramone. I can’t say enough how much she inspires me and how I admire her candid and authentic approach to gymnastics and life. In all honesty, I WANT her on that team. I know our girls are seasoned veterans, but there is a difference between worlds and the Olympics. I want Alicia to help guide this team and I want her to have the redemption she has been working for these past few years.
There are a few scenarios where I can see Sacramone make the team. One is if our bars/beam specialist ends up being a bars specialist only. For instance, If Anna Li can come and bring +.7 on bars, then putting in Alicia and Anna Li on over Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney might make sense. Li on bars could theoretically add the same advantage as Maroney on vault. Then Sacramone could add an additional advantage on beam AND vault (if she vaults like she used to, potentially another .4 over Aly on vault and consistency and anywhere between 2.0 and .1 over Gabby on beam). Another scenario is if Sacramone shows up with an upgraded vault and/or a solid floor routine. If Sacramone can bring the highest valued vault in America and do it well, she could win out over Maroney. Or if Sacramone can bring a team finals floor routine AND a 15.8 vault she could take that spot as well.
Now let’s talk Sarah Finnegan. After the Secret Classics, I really thought Finnegan had a legitimate chance. Hello 15.2 on floor! Up until Visa’s, the highest Douglas had brought in on floor was a 14.85. So the +3.5 on floor and the potential on beam made Finnegan a definite contender. Sarah’s first night beam score of 15.35 was the second highest of the Visa National Championships. However, Finnegan was not consistent on beam or floor at Nationals. Finnegan will need two things to happen. She will need to go out and do the two beam and two floor routines of her life. And she will need Douglas and Maroney to show that they are not able to bring in a high floor score.
The only other person I see sneaking onto the team is Elizabeth Price. I think that both Maroney and Sacramone would have to fall short for Price to take their place. Though Price has more events to offer in the case of an injury, in the end, others have stronger ones.
There are others in the mix, but I just don’t think any of them bring a high enough specialist routine OR a high enough all around to challenge for the remaining spots. So here are the teams I think could happen.
Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Anna Li, Alicia Sacramone
Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Nastia Liukin, McKayla Maroney
Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Rebecca Bross, Alicia Sacramone
Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross, Alicia Sacramone
Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, top two bars specialists (Li, Liukin, Ross, Bross)
Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross/Anna Li/Nastia Liukin/Rebecca Bross, Sarah Finnegan.
Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross, Elizabeth Price/Alicia Sacramone
And who is the team I really want to send?
Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Alicia Sacramone, Nastia Liukin.
Back in April I decided to pick a team after each major competition – who I would send if we had to send a team right then. I assumed that team would change each month. That apart from Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas it would shift with different combinations of people. Our field of athletes and potential Olympians is so deep, how could it not?
But, it hasn’t. Competition after competition, these are the girls and the combination that keeps coming out on top. Every which way you arrange the puzzle and do the math, this is your best bet for dependable, high scoring routines. And so, my team remains the same. And here is their introduction, along with the events I would put them on in team finals.
Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney.
Vault: GD, JW, MM
Bars: JW, KR, GD
Beam: AR, KR, JW
Floor: GD, JW, AR
Wieber, Douglas and Raisman are considered locks for the team barring injury by most in the gymnastics world. This seems to include Martha Karolyi as she stated two spots were interchangeable (mean three were basically set). (Gym Examiner) They are the top three all-arounders each having a legitimate chance to make the all around podium in London and bring consistently high scores on each of their specialties for the team competition (Wieber: Vault, Beam and Floor; Douglas: Bars; Raisman: Beam and Floor). With these three in the mix, you need someone who can contribute on bars and beam and then one other gymnast who brings enough value on one or more events to replace the lowest score of the first three.
In contention to contribute on bars are Ross, Rebecca Bross, Bridget Sloan, Anna Li, Elizabeth Price, and Nastia Liukin. Ross can also contribute on beam and Bross, Liukin and Sloan are trying to make a case that they can as well. Price could make a huge contribution on vault in addition to bars. Ross, Price and Sloan are also all arounders, so they can step in at any point if in a pinch. Of this field, Ross is by far the most prepared and consistent. Li has the highest scoring potential but needs to prove that she can hit the routine consistently. Bross is just about even on bars with Ross, but has not shown consistency on beam. Liukin is a wildcard. She did not show bars at Visa’s that would put her on any team. It will really depend on how much she can improve in three weeks. Yes, of this grouping Ross is currently the consistent clear choice.
With these four spots, the fifth spot has to be someone that contribute enough tenths on one or two events to replace some of our lowest scores of the first four gymnasts. If you take the high scores from Visa’s you have McKayla Maroney on vault (+.75), Anna Li on bars (+.5) or Alicia Sacramone on beam (+.2) and vault (+.1). The obvious choice here is Maroney.
As alternates I would send Elizabeth Price, Alicia Sacramone and Bridget Sloan. This would cover our all around needs if we lose an all arounder, our bars needs if we loose a bar worker and our beam and vault needs if we loose a vault or beam worker.
What a night! After last year’s disastrous prelims, I wasn’t sure what tonight would bring. What it brought was a real competition. Things are heating up in the USA and these girls mean business. Make it easier on the selection committee? No thank you.
Let’s Start At the End
Gone are the days of Jordyn Wieber’s easy wins. Jordyn had a decent vault and a solid bar routine, but wobbled quite a bit on beam. Gabby had an awesome bars set, and put up mostly solid performances on the other events. It came down to the last routine where Jordyn needed over a 15.25 to win. She went out and hit a solid floor routine. The announcer announced the end of night and people began to file out while the rest of us sat with baited breath waiting for the score. And they TIED! I don’t know why it shocked me so much, but it did. What a finish. Gabby and Jordyn both had decent nights, but they both can do better. Things are getting interesting.
Things that make you go Hmmm…
Nastia did a bar routine. Her swing is still there. It is still beautiful. But she didn’t do a dismount and it was definitely not a “hit” routine. Then she went and nailed beam. Hmmm…
Rebecca Bross hit a GREAT bar routine! Looked just like her old self. She went to beam, looked strong and agressive, and then sat down her dismount. Again. She has not made that dismount in competition in over a year. Hmmm…
Our Amanar factory seems to have a hold on production. Jordyn and McKayla seem to be the only ones who consistently land their amanar well. And most of the girls are scoring in the mid/low 15.0’s. Not much higher than they would with a DTY with a lot more risk. Hmmmm….
Well, there is the obvious Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman (who finished third). Then there’s Alicia Sacramone. What injury? She looks just like she always did, and came back with an awesome vault and the most solid beam routine of the night. Elizabeth Price quietly came out and did her job with little fanfare. But she definitely made her bid.
Douglas on bars. Maroney on vault. Raisman on floor. Nuff said. But can you really ever say enough about those awesome pieces of gymnastics? Sarah Finnegan on beam. WOW. She came out and hit her skills. It was a delight to watch. In my opinion, she does the wolf turn better than anyone has ever done it.
Some of My Favorites
I loved seeing Sacramone go out and nail it. I loved Sarah Finnegan’s floor routine. And her beam routine. I loved Jordyn’s floor routine and waiting for the score. I loved watching Bridget compete again. I loved watching Nastia do bars. I loved the energy in the arena.
1. Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich., 60.650
1. Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va., 60.650
3. Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass., 60.200
4. Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 59.750
5. Elizabeth Price, Coopersburg, Pa., 59.600
6. Sarah Finnegan, St. Louis, Mo., 59.150
7. McKayla Maroney, Long Beach, Calif., 58.700
8. Kennedy Baker, Flower Mound, Texas, 58.050
1. McKayla Maroney, Long Beach, Calif., 15.925
2. Alicia Sacramone, Winchester, Mass., 15.025
3. Brandie Jay, Ft Collins, Colo., 14.750
1. Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 15.500
2. Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va., 15.450
3. Rebecca Bross, Plano, Texas, 15.200
4. Anna Li, Aurora, Ill., 15.150
5. Bridget Sloan, Pittsboro, Ind., 15.100
6. Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich., 15.050
1. Sarah Finnegan, St. Louis, Mo., 15.350
2. Alicia Sacramone, Winchester, Mass., 15.200
2. Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass., 15.200
4. Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 15.100
4. Nastia Liukin, Parker, Texas, 15.100
6. Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va., 14.800
1. Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass., 15.450
2. Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich., 15.250
3. Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va., 15.050
4. Sarah Finnegan, St. Louis, Mo., 14.800
5. McKayla Maroney, Long Beach, Calif., 14.600
6. Elizabeth Price, Coopersburg, Pa., 14.550
I have been waiting for this for so long – for the 2012 Visa’s to finally start! I can’t believe it is almost here. To be honest, I never thought I would see it live…. I am like a little kid waiting to go to Disney World!
What I am Excited For:
I can’t wait to see Alicia Sacramone compete in person. She is my favorite gymnast and I am a huge fan of her as a person and love watching her gymnastics. I am excited to see what Nastia brings to the bars. I am jumping up and down with anticipation to see McKayla Maroney’s Amanar and Mustafina.
What’s at Stake:
The top six all around finishers of tonight and the finals put together, plus six – eight other gymnasts of the selection committee’s choosing will move on to the Olympic Trials based on their performances here and at camps and meets from this year. In addition, the national team will be named, which allows gymnasts to compete internationally for the USA for the next year.
Though I think Gabby Douglas (talent and start value wise) could upset Jordyn Wieber and finish first, I think Wieber will do it. She is a tough competitor who doesn’t go down without a heck of a fight. I think Douglas will bobble here and there, but won’t have any major disasters and will come in second. The ever solid Aly Raisman will delight on floor and be solid everywhere else, rounding out the podium in third. I also think Alicia Sacramone and Nastia Liukin will kill it tonight, with solid starts to their Olympic bid.
I am hoping that McKayla Maroney will show improvement on bars and a fantastic floor routine. I am also hoping that Sarah Finnegan will do the beam routine we know she has in her and continue to wow us on floor. I am crossing my fingers for Anna Li to hit her bar routine as well.
Most of all, I am hoping that no one gets injured! But I have a feeling, that tonight’s going to be a good, good night!
After so many months of waiting and wondering, the first of the big three meets to determine our 2012 Olympic team has come and gone. After marinating for a few days, here are my lingering impressions from the 2012 Secret Classics.
Some things are like riding a bike. Once you learn, you never forget (even if you are a little rusty.)
Such was the case with Nastia Liukin. She was nervous during podium training and looked unsure before she mounted the podium for the beam. I thought, “Sigh, this is gonna be rough.” But the green flag went up and you SAW the change. She transformed in that moment. Nastia prepared to mount the beam with a look in her eyes that said “This, I know how to do.” It was a gymnastics moment I won’t soon forget. She went on to compete a solid, respectable beam routine. Oh, one that just happened to tie as the third highest score. Yes, I continue to have faith in her comeback.
Aly just keeps getting back on each event, each performance with the same consistency. She has learned how to hit. And she just keeps hitting.
Gymnasts CAN have floor routines that give me chills.
I LOVED Anna Li’s dance through. It literally gave me chills. No matter where this venture takes her, I will always be grateful that she gave us that beautiful floor routine. And Sarah Finnegan. WOW. The girl is more breathtaking on floor every time she goes out there. I love her routine and love that she can get in so much difficulty with only three passes. Pass on the boring double back, thank you very much. These two moments were such highlights for me.
Things that have become commonplace that should continue to wow me.
Maroney on vault. Wieber on beam. Douglas on bars. Raisman on beam and floor. These are spectacular performances that should draw praise again and again. But we have become so used to them they often go unmentioned. They were as beautiful to watch as ever. Once again, I am grateful to be in a time where the USA has amazing depth and so very many talented gymnasts.