The Christmas Eve of USA Gymnastics

Photo Credit: USA Gymnastics

Today feels like Christmas Eve to me. In my family on Christmas Eve, we always got to open up one present. I’d spend hours that day picking out the perfect present to open, creating lots of anticipation for it.  This evening, the women compete the first night of the Olympic Trials. We get to open up the first present, but still have to wait to open up the rest. But this first present, it will be awesome and worth the anticipation!

What should you be looking for over the next two days of women’s gymnastics? First of all, sit back and enjoy. Even at the Olympics, you will not see such an amazing display of gymnastics. If you love watching gymnastics for the sake of the high flying skills, breath taking flips and soaring leaps, graceful dance and lovely lines, then today will be a feast for the eyes.

Look for fierce competition. And deep friendships. These girls love and support each other like no other USA gymnastics group I have seen. They are truly best friends. But that doesn’t mean that each one of them won’t give it everything they have to make that team. Every single one of them will be putting it all out on the floor.

Look for the spots that we need to fill in for the “Big Three”. Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman are locks for the team apart from injury. So the next two spots go to the athletes that can best fill in their weaknesses or contribute a higher-scoring event than one of the “Big Three”. The most glaringly obvious spot is on bars. Raisman is weak on bars. Jordyn can compete on bars as a lead off spot, but we will definitely need another bars star to fill in the third team final spot. But look to see what other events we might need someone on. Both Gabby and Aly have been inconsistent this year on their amanars, sometimes not scoring that much higher than a DTY, the vault most of the rest of the teams will be doing. If we want to take advantage on vault, we need three HIGH scoring vaults. Gabby has also been inconsistent on beam and sometimes floor. We will most likely want to put someone else up on beam. However, if Gabby is inconsistent on floor over the next two days, we might need another floor score as well.

Look for the highest scoring bars specialist. Kyla Ross, Anna Li, Rebecca Bross, Bridget Sloan, Nastia Liukin. This is the score we need most, so start filling in the puzzle with the piece that makes the most difference.

Look for the highest value add after that. Up to this point, it has been McKayla Maroney. She adds .7-.8 over using Aly/Gabby’s vault. Look to see if anyone else can add more than that on one or two events combined. Sarah Finnegan on floor and beam. Alicia Sacramone on vault and beam. Another bars specialist.

Put all that together and we will have a good idea of our Olympic Team.

Look to see the honor that it is to all the girls competing. This is an incredibly tough year of gymnastics in the USA and each girl has accomplished so very much just to make it this far. They have so much to be proud of and we should be so proud of them as well! Revel in the fact that you are seeing some of the best gymnastics in the world!

Look forward to a weekend full of incredible gymnastics, dreams being fulfilled and a team being named!

Just Tuning In? Here is the Low Down on the Olympic Trials

Video by CSaccullo

There is one thing you can be sure of. This year, the US Olympic Trials are sure to be as exciting as the Olympics themselves in gymnastics. There is currently so much gymnastics talent in the USA, that the battle to get on the team is more difficult than the battle to win a team medal. What follows below is the basics for what is at stake at the trials, how the teams will be chosen, how the scoring system works and who the athletes are. If you are looking for a general what to look for in terms of athlete potential, check out my blog tomorrow: What to Look for at the 2012 Olympic Trials. Happy Watching!

Viewing Info

TELEVISION BROADCASTS: (Times are EASTERN*. Check local listings.)

Thursday, June 28
5:30 – 8:00 p.m. – NBC Sports (Formally Versus)
Men’s Competition Day 1

Friday, June 29
9:00 – 11:00 p.m. – NBC
Women’s Competition Day 1 – Live Streaming

Saturday, June 30
4:00 – 6:00 p.m. – NBC
Men’s Competition Final Day – Live Streaming

Sunday, July 1
9:00 – 11:00 p.m. – NBC
Women’s Competition Final Day – Live Streaming

Live streaming will be available on with a cable, satellite or telco TV subscription that includes MSNBC and CNBC. Lise streaming will NOT be available outside of the U.S.

*Television coverage of the women’s competitions on June 29 and July 1 will be tape delayed in the Pacific and Mountain time zones but available live nationwide online.

The Goal

Starting tomorrow, 15 female and 15 male gymnasts will begin two days each of competition. At the end of the Women’s Finals on Sunday, five men and five women will be named to the 2012 US Olympic Teams.  Up to three alternates will be named to each team as well. Ten gymnasts will achieve their ultimate dreams. Twenty will walk away, trying their best to hide their heartbreak and disappointment.

The teams will be chosen based first and foremost on the best combination for winning Olympic team gold. In addition, Team USA wants to send gymnasts with potential for Olympic All Around wins and then Event Final champions. There has been a lot of speculation as to how the announcement will be made. USA gymnastics has said that the athletes will be told prior to being announced to the crowd at the HP Pavilion and on NBC.

The Scores

I’m still confused by the scoring system!

Many people are. Here’s how it works.

  • First you have the D Score– D is for difficulty. The judges add up the value of the elements done in the routine. This includes basic requirements, the value of the skills in their routine and bonus points for connecting skills together. The D scores tend to be between 5.5 and 6.5 (ish) at the Olympic level, higher on some of the men’s events. Of course you have some lower and some higher.
  • Then there’s the E score– E is for execution. This is like the perfect 10 of old. You start at a 10 and are deducted for mistakes. These deductions are larger than they used to be, so this is why these scores are much lower than they used to be. A routine that looks near perfect to the average viewer will typically score around a 9.1. There is a pattern that these scores get higher in an Olympic year and some are speculating this will raise to about a 9.4. Needless to say, they are lower than you’re used to.
  • Then you add the two together and get your final score.
Another note on scoring. The last olympic cycle, gymnasts counted 10 elements in each routine (apart from vault) to make up their D score. Now they only count eight. This means that scores this Olympic quadrennium are LOWER than the last. This has confused many people, leading them to wonder if our gymnasts are worse this year than before the last Olympics. This is DEFINITELY not the case. We have the deepest American team ever assembled on the men’s and women’s side.

The Athletes

Here are all the women who have qualified for the Olympic Trials. If you are curious to know more about any of them and their chances, check out my Who’s Who in 2012 series. (Photos from USA Gymnastics)

And here are your guys.

 Good luck to all the gymnasts!