The Vault Finalists – Start List, Predictions, Qualification Video and Score Round up


Tomorrow (Saturday October 5) are the first two event finals of the World Championships. You can watch live in the US here starting at 8:30am EST.

The 2013 WAG World Championship vault finalists in the order they will compete (start list) are:

  1. 218 STEINGRUBER Giulia SUI
  2. 133 PENA ABREU Yamilet DOM
  3. 233 CHUSOVITINA Oksana UZB
  4. 238 PHAN Thi Ha Thanh VIE
  5. 191 NETTEB Chantysha NED
  6. 229 BILES Simone USA
  7. 200 HONG Un Jong PRK
  8. 231 MARONEY Mc Kayla USA

Their qualification scores were:

  1. McKayla Maroney USA 15.641
  2. Simone Biles USA 15.550
  3. Hong Un Jong PRK 15.249
  4. Phan Thi Ha Thanh VIE 14.966
  5. Giulia Steingruber SUI 14.799
  6. Oksana Chosovitina UZB 14.750
  7. Yamilet Pena DOM 14.683
  8. Chantysha Netteb NED 14.516

The general predictions (and I agree) for this event finals are pretty easy. The top three will finish the same way they qualified:

  1. McKayla Maroney USA
  2. Simone Biles USA
  3. Hong Un Jong PRK

The plot twist will be an possible half twist. Hong Un Jong has submitted a Triple Twisting Yurchenko to be named after her. If she is able to add a half twist to her amanar and stay on her feet, she will undoubtedly win. We have yet to see her do the vault, but anything can happen in a World Championship Final!

Check out each of their qualification vaults!

McKayla Maroney USA 15.641 
6.300 (D) + 9.550 (E) = 15.850

6.000 (D) + 9.433  (E) = 15.433

Simone Biles USA 15.550
6.300 (D) + 9.600 (E) = 15.900

5.600 (D) + 9.600 (E) = 15.200

Hong Un Jong PRK 15.249
6.300 (D) + 9.333 (E) = 15.633
6.400 (D) + 8.566 (E) – 0.1 = 14.866

Phan Thi Ha Thanh VIE 14.966
5.800 (D) + 9.066 (E) =  14.866
6.200 (D) + 8.866 (E) = 15.066

Giulia Steingruber SUI 14.799
6.200 (D) + 9.166 (E) = 15.366
5.000 (D) + 9.233 (E) = 14.233

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCM9MLHo4OQ

Oksana Chosovitina UZB 14.750
6.200 (D) + 8.800 (E) = 15.000
5.500 (D) + 9.100 (E) 0.1 = 14.500

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcwJ7OJlxKE

Yamilet Pena DOM 14.683
1 7.000 (D) + 7.900 (E) =  14.900
2 5.800 (D) + 8.666 (E) = 14.466



Chantysha Netteb NED 14.516
5.800 (D) + 9.133 (E) – 0.1 = 14.833
5.200 (D) +9.000 (E) = 14.200

McKayla Maroney – the Princess of Poise


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Photo by John Cheng

McKayla has gone through so much in the past year, it truly is quite amazing that she is not only at Worlds, but has improved since last year. Three surgeries, media frenzy, meme fame and a changed life. She has made no bones that she has some unfinished business called doing her best at the Olympic vault finals. So between now and then, she will give gymnastics her all.

Though vaulting is what she shines at, she really wants to be an all-arounder. And floor is her favorite event. So it was incredibly meaningful for her to be able to compete all around in the qualifications. She didn’t have her most spectacular day, but she did really well.

She started her day out on floor. She had a number of small bobbles on her landings and her leaps weren’t quite all the way split. But it was really a great routine. Many on the gymternet felt like she was really underscored here.

After seeing her INCREDIBLE vault in podium training, this amanar was anticlimactic. But it was a normal, amazing vault from McKayla.

Her second vault however, was one of her better ones.

McKayla is not known for her bars. But this was most definitely one of the best bar routines she has ever done!

On the other hand, this beam routine was most definitely not her best. Getting into the swing of competing beam again often takes some time.

As always, the highlight of the day was McKayla’s interview. Such poise, so much authenticity, and so much grace. i fall more in love with this girl every interview.

She only qualified into the vault finals, being another victim of the 2 per country rule on both floor (where she tied with Kyla Ross but the tie was broken with Kyla’s higher E score) and the all around (where she placed 5th in the world).

Kyla Ross – The Empress of Elegance


by John Cheng, USAG

Kyla Ross has gone from the Queen of Clean to the Empress of Elegance. Last year, I was always so impressed with her beautiful lines and lightness of movement. But her gymnastics didn’t keep my attention. It didn’t inspire me. No longer. Kyla now commands my attention on every event.

The change is not only in her incredibly improved expression, artistry and dance on floor and beam. Her experience in Olympic competition, the media frenzy, fame and the incredible bond of her team has given her a poise, a presence, a confidence that shows in everything she does. From her interviews to her height, her bright red lipstick to her beautiful routines, Kyla has grown up.

Kyla stepped out onto the floor today in a beautiful red leo with red lipstick to match. She looked gorgeous. And fierce! She was raring to go, always the first one off from the line-up to prepare for the event.

She did a beautiful DTY, but not the best she can do. She had a much bigger hop on her landing than normal, but it is still quite a gorgeous vault.

5.800 (D) +9.366 (E)  = 15.166

Kyla’s has such a light and airy swing and competes bars with a calmness that is almost peaceful to watch. She is a little short on a few of her handstands, but other than that, it was a great routine. Stuck landing and all.

6.400 (D) + 8.733 (E) =15.133

Kyla competes beam like she is dancing in the clouds. Every movement is done with a lightness and a preciseness that just makes it look like she is floating. This was a great routine. She missed one of her connections and had the tiniest of wobbles. But this is a routine I will watch a few times.

5.900 (D) +8.666 (E) = 14.566

I really am falling in love with this floor routine. The choreography is beautiful, playing with little nuances and hits in the music and really expressing the music well. And Kyla is performing it so well. She has great musicality, expressiveness and of course, execution. This is undoubtedly the best floor routine she has ever done. And a stick on her last pass to boot!

5.700 (E) + 8.633 (D) = 14.333

And perhaps where she has grown the most is her ability to interview. She is delightful, humble, authentic and just fun to hear from.

What a great start from our Empress of Elegance!

And Then There Was Drama


We have been wondering for many months if it would be a three way race in the USA for the top two coveted all around finals spots at the World Championships, or if Marta would put up two all-arounders and give two others the opportunity to qualify for event finals. She had said after US Nationals that she would be happy to go with the three all-arounder scenario and then take an alternate, but time would tell.

When the selection committee selected Brenna Dowell as the fourth member of the World Championship team, it was a little unclear as to what path they were taking. If Brenna perfectly hit her new bar routine, she might have an opportunity to make it to the bar event finals. But Brenna makes more sense as an all around alternate than as an event specialist. Peyton Ernst seemed to have more potential to make it into the beam finals than Brenna did to make it into the bars finals. So the selection of Brenna gave us our first clue that Marta might still be on the three all-arounders path. However, all official standings showed McKayla Maroney competing vault and floor and Brenna competing bars and beam.

Until yesterday. As podium training began, it became obvious that a shift had been made. International Gymnastics reported it first that McKayla Maroney would be competing the all around and Brenna would be an alternate. Read the full interview here. “All three have looked like All-around medal contenders in the training sessions we’ve observed here in Antwerp, but only two will be able to advance to All-around Finals due to the Worlds rules. So, one of the greatest battles during Prelims could be the battle among the three Americans for the two coveted Finals spots.”

Yes, we went from predictable to high drama. Isn’t it the American way? It must be mentioned how hard it must be for Brenna Dowell. And I agree. To come all the way to Antwerp and end up not competing is heart-breaking.  There have been many cries around the gymternet of how unfair it is because she has worked so hard. And I agree, it must be a heartbreaking experience. But I must admit. I think McKayla has worked incredibly hard for this opportunity as well.

Without a doubt, McKayla is the most popular, well spoken, sought out of the Fierce Five. She must have turned down so many opportunities to return to training. She went through three surgeries, an incredible media frenzy and still seemed to return to training better than ever, upgrading on floor and improving astronomically on beam and bars. Here McKayla talks about how very much she loves the sport.

Simone Biles comes in with the most difficulty at a 25.1. That is almost a point ahead of McKayla (24.2) and Kyla (24.0).  The real test here will be in consistency and in execution. Simone’s career is short, and not one yet that you can identify a pattern. However, US Nationals day 1 is the only time she has yet put 4 for 4 together. She has looked incredible in podium training, and with the proven results of Marta’s training camps, there is no solid reason to believe that she won’t come out and hit routine after routine. That being said, there is nothing that compares to the Olympic experience of McKayla and Kyla.

If Simone hits all her routines in prelims, McKayla and Kyla, best friends since they were little girls, will be battling it out for the second all around finals spot. McKayla comes in atleast .2 ahead in difficulty, but will most likely lose out more on beam and bars. On the other hand, Kyla cannot compete with McKayla on vault and floor. In the end, it will come down to stuck landings, legs together, and pointed toes. This will be a competition where every tenth counts.

All in all, I do believe it will be a race for the two all around spots (which I STILL disagree with as much as I EVER have!). Simone is looking AMAZING and if she hits, she will claim one of the two American spots. McKayla and Kyla will come down to sticks, form and a little bit of luck to see who makes it into the finals. They come into this competition with the lowest start values of all of the all around competitors, but the highest consistency and execution of all of the competitors

It is ironic, because often the controversy about difficulty vs execution is often about American vs European. But this year, the best execution but lowest difficulty will come from one, if not two of the American’s. The drama has begun to see who will make the top two..

Stress Fractures Fracturing Dreams


When the news began to spread that Jordyn Wieber might have a stress fracture, the snarky comments about excuses began. Even though they shouldn’t have, they surprised me. After all, when a dominant, consistent gymnast all of a sudden starts putting in uncharacteristically subpar performances, it is more common than not that an injury – usually a stress fracture- is part of the equation. Jordyn is not the first, and as competitive gymnastics continues to get more and more difficult, I am sure she will not be the last.

In fact, the heartbreaking story of a gymnast who shows so much potential to dominate gymnastics who then comes down with a stress fracture before or during a major competition has become so commonplace it is treated as something that is barely newsworthy. Let’s look at the many past American hopefuls who have suffered Jordyn’s fate. Then we will talk about why stress fractures fractures dreams.

Kim Zmeskal was a brilliant world champion in 1991. Everyone expected her to claim all the glory in the Olympics.

Americans had high hopes for Zmeskal and the U.S. team heading the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, with Zmeskal earning the cover of both Time and Newsweekmagazines before the Games. In the U.S. National Championships and Olympic Trials, Zmeskal battled an emergingShannon Miller, with Miller defeating Zmeskal at the Trials.[5]

Zmeskal disappointed at the Games, falling off the balance beam during her compulsory routine on the first night of competition. Although she would rebound with performances on the floor, vault, and bars, Zmeskal was in 32nd place after the compulsories and 5th on the American team.[6] She would further rebound with impressive scores of 9.912 on beam, 9.95 on vault, 9.9 on uneven bars, and a 9.925 on floor during the finals of the team competition, moving Zmeskal into 12th place and into the all-around competition by finishing third among the American women. Her combined score of 39.687 for the night was the highest of any competitor.

Although earning enough points to compete in the all-around competition, Zmeskal would again falter during her first event, the floor exercise, stepping out of bounds. It would later be revealed that Zmeskal was suffering from a stress fracture in her ankle before the Olympics began. (Wikipedia)

Next comes Dominique Moceanu in 1996.

Dominique Moceanu 1996

Moceanu’s national and international successes, combined with her plucky, bubbly attitude, earned her attention and a wide fan base both in and out of the gymnastics community. In the months leading up to the Atlanta Olympics, she was one of the most recognizable faces of USA Gymnastics, eclipsing more decorated teammates such as Shannon Miller andDominique Dawes. Before the Olympics, she was featured in Vanity Fairand wrote an autobiography, Dominique Moceanu: An American Champion. The book was highly successful and ranked number seven on the New York Times’ Best Sellers List.

Moceanu was expected to be a major medal threat at the 1996 Olympics. However, following the 1996 U.S. Nationals, where she placed third in the all-around, she was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her right tibia. Her injury forced her to sit out the Olympic Trials, and she was petitioned onto the team on the strength of her Nationals scores.

At the Olympics, still struggling with her injury and sporting a heavily bandaged leg, Moceanu contributed to the team gold medal, turning in strong performances and she qualified for the event finals on balance beam and floor exercise. However, she faltered in the last rotation of team finals, falling on both vaults, a situation which directly resulted in the U.S. chance of a gold medal resting solely on teammate Kerri Strug‘s final vault. Strug injured herself in the successful attempt, and Moceanu only advanced to the all-around finals as her replacement. Mistakes cost Moceanu a medal, and she placed ninth. In the balance beam event final, Moceanu fell when she missed a foot on a layout and crashed into the balance beam on her head. She finished the exercise and went on to a strong performance in the floor finals later that day, finishing fourth and just missing a medal. (Wikipedia) 

Next comes Courtney Kupets.

Courtney Kupets 2008

In 2004, there was a fierce battle between Courtney and Carly Patterson for the title of America’s best. But once at the Olympics, the fight seemed to go out of Courtney, who had always been a consistent and fierce competitor up to that point (and after I might add). Uncharacteristic pain in her hip caused her to be replaced by Mohini Bhardwaj on beam during the team finals at the last minute. She went on to “underperform” in the All Around Finals, placing 9th instead of battling for the gold. Though she would say in interviews that she had no excuses and injury was not a big factor, after the Olympics it was revealed that she had a stress fracture in her hip.

The 2008 Olympics passed with other injuries, but no stress fractures.

Rebecca Bross 2010

In 2009, Rebecca Bross took gymnastics by storm, and lost the world championship with a fluke fall. She dominated in 2010 and once again came into the World Championships expected to challenge for gold. After complaining of shin pain throughout the lead up to the competition, and giving in to uncharacteristic weak moments throughout the championships, it was revealed after the fact that she had a stress fracture as well.

So after a qualifications full of unusual small mistakes and then a floor finals filled with the same, in all honesty I assumed Jordyn had a stress fracture or another similar injury. It seemed the most likely scenario. It surprised me when people started saying they were making excuses.

It is laughable to me that what the normal public would consider a broken hip, leg or ankle gymnasts consider as a “nagging pain.” I find it almost absurd that they consider those injuries as “not an excuse for their performance.” But I know gymnasts and the pain they work through regularly. I guess it is normal. What I find completely absurd is that the fans and the public feel the same way. These athletes are competing on broken limbs! Most people can hardly walk with this type of pain. Not an excuse?

Maybe it is because unlike other major injuries, gymnast are able to actually compete on and train on injuries like stress fractures (and plantar faciitis in the case of Romania’s Larisa Iordache). This gives the impression that they are ok. It is hard to understand why they make all these little mistakes. Of course there is pain. But beyond the pain, lets look at why these nagging injuries seem to affect performances by causing lots of little, uncharacteristic mistakes.

Gymnasts do hundreds if not thousands of repetitions of skills to create “muscle memory.” This is when they are able to perform the skill without actively thinking about it, they just do it. This allows them to perform the skill under the incredible pressure of competition. Gymnasts refer to this as “numbers.” They just need to get in the gym and do more numbers to be consistent. An injury like a stress fracture impedes this process in two ways.

The first, is a decrease in numbers performed during practice. In order to help the injury not turn into something that will absolutely prohibit them from competing, it is necessary to do less numbers so there will be less pounding on the injury. As this is the very heart of elite level training, this without a doubt affects their ability to perform the skills on demand. When an elite gymnast decreases their numbers significantly, their performance almost always diminishes as well.

The second is that gymnasts do these skills over and over again the exact same way to create that muscle memory. But even though they can grit through the pain of the break, their body is responding differently than it usually does. The ever so slight flinch on take off or landing changes the timing they are used to. It is not enough to prevent them from doing the skills, but is enough to make falls and balance checks on beam (where centimeters make all the difference) inevitable and stuck landings much more unlikely.

And don’t get me wrong. Stress fractures, a common injury in the gymnastics world, are very painful. The courage that these gymnasts show to train and compete on these injuries needs to be recognized and not brushed off. The courage of Jordyn Wieber to perform as brilliantly as she did in team finals despite her stress fracture is incredible.

At the end of the day, stress fractures have fractured many gymnasts’ dreams over the years. Let’s celebrate their courage or rail against the sports world that leads teenagers to compete on broken limbs. But let’s not diminish the role that these injuries play and claim that they are no excuse.

When you hit perfection – And when you miss it.


The beauty and peril of gymnastics is the expectation of perfection. Of hitting every single time. Nobody’s perfect right? Oh, except Olympic gymnasts. You can miss a shot in basketball and still win the game, make a poor serve or return in volleyball and still win the game. But not so in gymnastics. Being off even by a centimeter can cost you a medal, cost you your dreams.

And so it was so for McKayla Maroney – both the unrewarded hitting of human perfection and missing it as well. In the team finals, McKayla Maroney performed one of the most spectacular vaults of all time. Superimposed on the same vault as Uchimura (one of the most perfect male gymnasts of all time) was McKayla Maroney’s team vault. It is so much higher than any female gymnast had a right to be, higher than Ushimura’s by far, even though the women’s vault is lower, with perfect form and a stick to boot. A vault that would have earned a perfect 10 in any other gymnastics era, still scored higher than any female vault has in this quad.  It was a moment of beauty and perfection. But not of surprise. It is all we expected of McKayla.

Then came the Vault finals. The commentators talked of competing for silver, as it was inevitable that McKayla would win the gold. To all of you that have tuned into gymnastics for the first time since the last Olympics, this may have seemed to be sensationalism by the commentators. But the reality is, that the entire gymnastics community in every country has assumed that IF McKayla made the US team, they would be competing for silver on vault. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that she would win the gold.

After all, who could even remember McKayla not performing an incredible vault, much less falling? In today’s world of social media, you have to go all the way back to 2009 to see McKayla fall on vault in practice, warm up or performance. One time in three years. In a time where all of her teammates are as likely to sit down vaults in podium training and warm up as they are to hit them in competition, it is almost unfathomable that McKayla won’t hit vault- in practice, in warm up, in competition. She could do it following a week off for a concussion, she can vault anywhere at any time.

Such dominance and perfection leads us to expect, well perfection. Anything less is a disappointment. And that is exactly what happened to McKayla in Vault Finals. Anything else.

Was it nerves that got to her? We, and probably even she, will never know. McKayla did, for her, a disappointing first vault.   She landed in the red and did not achieve her normal level of perfection. So when she went for the second vault, she really wanted to deliver. Did she come in to high? Did she tried to hard to stick? Whatever happened, the unthinkable resulted. McKayla Maroney fell on a vault.

Ahh how the pendulum swings. One vault is the best we had ever seen. The next is sitting on her butt. McKayla Maroney had done the unthinkable. She lost the vault finals.

Maybe it was to remind us that gymnasts are not robots, but they are in fact human. Maybe it was to remind us that nobody, absolutely nobody is perfect. No matter what the reason, the results stand. The best female vaulter of all time (in my and many other”s opinions) would not walk away from the Olympics with a Vault gold.

A fluke of nerves, of tiredness, of trying to achieve perfection? We will never really know. But to those of you just tuning into gymnastics, know that this was a FLUKE. McKayla has not sat down a vault in podium training or warm up that has been shown, or in competition since 2009. In contrast, she has done more perfect vaults, higher, with more perfect form and difficulty than any woman in history. What she did in vault finals was absolutely a fluke.

Sandra Izbasa, who never dreamed she would be competing for a vault gold with Maroney in the mix, laughed often as she received the news of her win, and her medal. We can never know exactly what she was thinking. But I took it like this. LOL! We all know that Maroney is the superior vaulter. Sure, I will take the gold medal today. But is is kind of laughable.

I hope and believe that this “loss” will inspire McKayla to continue on in gymnastics, which will inevitable lead to more great vaulting. Many have looked forward to her introducing the Yurechenko 3/1. I think that will be awesome. But even moreso, I look forward to more beautiful floor routines and inspired interviews from a gymnast who is fast becoming one of my all time favorites – as much for her sincere, spunky, heartfelt interviews as for her out-of-this world vaults.

From Flying Squirrel to Golden Girl


Gabby Douglas has been known as the Flying Squirrel for her high flying antics on the bars. Undoubtedly  the best bar worker the USA currently has in their arsenal, Gabby began to make her bid as a true All Around threat at the US National Championships back in June. She had shown a flash of brilliance earlier in the season in the American Cup but had not maintained that brilliance through the rest of the spring. It was in St. Louis that she challenged Jordyn Wieber for the National Title and almost won. Her next foray came at the Olympic Trials where she earned the only automatic spot of the USA team by scoring the highest All-Around total over two days. Even so, Gabby had never put together four hit routines in one night.
As we pondered the All Around gold possibilities, Blythe from The Gym Examiner said, “You only have to put it all together once. It just has to be on the right night.” That Gabby had the talent was never a question. But could she hold up under the intensity of the Olympic spotlight? Could she put it all together that one time, the night of the All Around finals?

In qualifications, it seemed that she would do it. She held it together, performing incredibly on vault, bars and beam. When it came to floor however, her old nerves crept in. Gabby had a major mistake on her second pass and literally bounded out of bounds. Doubt may have crept back in to others minds, but not into hers.

Gabby came out into team finals and gave the performance of her life. She cleanly hit every routine with nary a bobble. Her All-Around score was easily the highest that had yet been put up in the games. She did it! Four incredible hit routines in one night! She had put it all together!

Was it possible that she could do it back to back? Watching her cool, collected demeanor would say that it was. And as it turned out, Gabby put it all together twice. On the two nights of nights.

Gabby led from start to finish. Opening up with one of the best vaults she has done, she emphatically said that she meant business. She continued on throughout the night, hitting her high flying beam routine, sailing through her complex beam routine and tumbling her way to Olympic gold. It was a beautiful, incredible, performance. Scoring the highest All-Around score of the entire quad (four years between Olympics) Gabby truly won gold.

But it is not only the gold medal around her neck that earns her the newly donned Golden Gabby nickname. It is her golden personality. Gabby’s smile is impossible to resist. She has that bounce in her step, that spark in her eye that hint at her bubbly, positive personality. The only thing that comes more quickly than her brilliant smile is her infectious laugh.

Gabby has stolen our hearts with more than her dazzling performance. Her true grasp of the honor it is to represent her country oozes through every word. The responsibility and maturity she feels as a role model to the gymnasts – especially the African American gymnasts – she has inspired is beyond her years. And her playful personality warms our hearts. She will be a beloved gymnast for years to come.

Gabby Douglas, you were extraordinary. Thanks for making some incredible sacrifices to make your dreams – and ours- come true. You truly are a star.

Two Per Country And Other Such Rules – My Take on the Debate


There has been quite a bit of  publicity given to the two gymnasts per country rule after that rule kept the reigning World Champion Jordyn Wieber out of the All-Around Finals. First let me say, that though this scenario has brought the reality of this rule home to the public, this is by no means the first time gymnastics fans have expressed disagreement. This rule has kept many a legitimate medal contender over the past eight years from even competing for a medal. Jordyn is by far not the first. But watching the reigning World Champion make no major mistakes, put up an incredible All-Around score above 60 points and finish fourth in the qualification round and then finding out that she won’t be able to compete fires up the emotion of the casual and serious gymnastics fan alike.

Let me start out with explaining the official reason behind this rule. The idea was to give countries with less gymnastics resources more chances to both have the honor of competing and representing their country as well as to actually win a medal. Usually having a winner in a final sparks fire for the sport in a country (think Mary Lou Retton in the USA or Beth Tweddle for Great Britain) thereby spreading the sport of gymnastics around the world.

In America, it is almost impossible to understand this rule. In the USA, we value the contributions and the success of the individual. Finding the best performance means finding the best individual. To win but not be pitted against everyone else who might have beat you is not a real win at all. Finding the TRUE best is the highest value. In other cultures the honor of representing your country is the greatest achievement, not the individual winning.  Allowing as many as possible to attain that achievement is a higher goal that finding the best.

I think what it really comes down to is if you believe that the “point” of the Olympics or World competition it to celebrate sport across the world and bring all the nations together to compete or if it is an opportunity to find the best individuals in each sport and in the various events of that sport. The medals awarded would say that it is about finding the best. The Olympic spirit would say that it is about brining all nations together. And therein is where you find fans divided around the subject.

Also, they have added rules to limit the number of gymnasts competing from each country (five per team) to allow more individuals from countries that could not qualify a team, again with the idea of spreading gymnastics and allowing more the chance to compete.

For me, it is the results that speak as to the success of these rules. In 2000 there were gymnasts competing in the AA final from 3 countries not fielding a full team. In 04 there were still only 3, 08 there were 4.(TheCouchGymnast) This year there were 4. So in the end, only allowing two gymnasts per country and five gymnasts per team has not really increased the number or countries represented in the All-Around Finals. No gymnast from a non “powerhouse” country has ended up on the podium. It has just meant that no one country can “sweep” the medals. And it has kept many gymnasts that legitimately could have won a medal from even competing.

I will concede however that the same is not true in event finals. Many gymnasts from non powerhouse countries have medaled in the different event finals. Those gymnasts HAVE spurred a spark for gymnastics in their country.

I am American. Though I understand the challenges in many countries of finding the resources and training to compete in a sport like gymnastics, and the desire to have our wonderful sport spread across the world, in the end I think the best should have the opportunity to compete for a medal. No matter what country they are from – or how many are from that country. Before the Olympics started, I counted 13 (ish?) people that had put up one of the top 8 scores in the all-around or on an event this year that did not make their team because of the five per team rule. Some that would have almost surely medaled and did not even have a chance.

In summary, I agree that Jordyn is one of many victims of this rule. And I even agree that this backlash would not have happened had Aly been the one who did not make it. But Aly is not the reigning World Champion, and in fact has not placed in the all-around at all on the world stage. And many, many fans have been complaining these rules for years. This situation just highlights why it is so frustrating. I am hoping that the backlash from it will actually bring some change. If the change had been more gymnasts to compete, a wider variety of countries to medal, then keeping it might make sense. But it was a well intended attempt that has not worked. It is time to put it to rest and allow those who have scored in the the top the opportunity to fight for a medal.

The outrage of Nastia Liukin getting silver instead of gold on bars in 2008 even though she scored the exact same D score and E score as the gold medalist He Kexin led to a rule change for this Olympics. And though it will never give Nastia a gold on bars, it at least will keep others from the same fate. And though Jordyn Wieber will never get to compete in the 2012 All-Around finals, hopefully she will be the last gymnast to experience that fate.

Format and Scoring for Women’s Gymnastics


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. 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.
  • Then you add the two together and get your final score.

What’s the format of the competition?

Things will kick off on Sunday with Qualifications. As the title implies, this round of competition qualifies gymnasts and teams on finals. This year only five members are allowed on each Olympic gymnastics team. Four of those five members will compete on each event, and the scores obtained at prelims will qualify them on for the rest of the competitions.

Team Qualifications

Twelve teams have qualified to compete at the Olympics from either last year’s World Championships or the 2012 London Test Event. Each 5 member team will put up four gymnasts on each event and the top three scores will count. Those teams are:

Team Finals

The top eight teams from qualifications will advance on the team finals on Tuesday. In the team finals, each team will put up three gymnasts and all three scores will count (often referred to as 3-up 3-count). Here’s more on the contenders.

All-Around Finals

The top 24 gymnasts will advance on to the finals with the exception that only two gymnasts per country can advance on. The finals will be on Thursday 8/2. Here’s more on the medal hopefuls!

Event Finals

The top eight from each apparatus will qualify into the Event Finals held next Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Once again, only two gymnasts per country are allowed on to each of the individual competitions. Follow the link for the hopefuls on each event: Vault, Bars, Beam and Floor.

Olympic Women’s Gymnastics for Dummies


Many gymnastics fans (I was one of them!) only watch gymnastics on an Olympic year. It makes sense. Gymnastics is hard to find on TV. But now, thanks to social media and the internet, gymnastics is easier than ever to follow. So, if you are just rejoining the elite gymnastics world, rejoice! It will be much easier to follow gymnastics! In the meantime, here are some things to help you catch up.

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. 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.
  • Then you add the two together and get your final score.

How will the Olympics Work?

Things will kick off on Sunday with Prelims. This year only five members are allowed on each Olympic gymnastics team. Four of those five members will compete on each event, and the scores obtained at prelims will qualify them on for the rest of the competitions. These are team finals (Tuesday), all-around finals (Thursday) and event finals (Next Sunday, Monday and Tuesday). Only two gymnasts per country are allowed on to each of the individual competitions.

When Can I See Gymnastics?

This year NBC will be live streaming every Olympic competition on NBCOlympics.com if you have a qualified cable subscription. It is VERY important to verify your sign in before things get started! Do that here. Not only can you watch it live, you can choose which event stream to watch and catch every routine you want to see! USA Prelims will be at 9:45am EST on Sunday, Team Finals 11:30am EST on Tuesday and All-Around Finals at 11:30am EST on Thursday. All events will be on Prime Time that evening on NBC.

What are our chances in London?

The US won the 2011 World Championships by a huge margin. We have incredible depth in the all around as well as a large advantage on vault. There’s this magical vault called the Amanar that has an extra 1/2 twist than the vault most gymnasts are competing. It adds .7 to the start value (the D Score of vault). Most countries are struggling to have any gymnasts that can currently perform the vault. The US will perform an amanar for every vault counted during the Olympics.  That ends up being a 2.1 advantage over most other countries in Team Finals if they aren’t able to put up Amanars. But there are a lot of Amanar rumors going on from other countries. In addition, the US has been weak on bars. The US has great chances. But the competition will be fierce this year.

Who is our team competition?

For a deeper run down, check out my post Who’s Who in 2012: The Team Contenders.

Russia was incredibly strong in 2010. The USA dominated in 2011. Russia’s amazingly fierce and talented Aliya Mustifani was out last year and their other top gymnast was not at her peak. With both of them back, plus a strong new senior there is every expectation that they can bring a battle for gold. Romania has come from behind and is putting the pressure on. They beat Russia at the European Championships this year and just keep getting better. China continues to be strong. Not as strong as they looked in Beijing, but they still factor in to the mix.

Check out these posts if you are interested in Who’s Who in the all-around or on vault, bars, beam or floor.

Who are the USA’s gymnasts?

This American generation is incredibly strong and the five member team is made up of young gymnasts. However, they all have a lot of international experience and four of the five were part of last years World Championship team.  This team of rookies took Worlds by storm. Even with the last minute loss of their team leader, they had one of the most dominate performances in a long time, hitting every single routine in prelims and in team finals. All but one of the 2008 team made a run for this Olympics, but with the strength and depth of these young gymnasts, were not able to make the team. Follow the link for a more in depth write up on each gymnast.

Jordyn WieberJordyn is in her second season as a senior and is the current World Champion. She competes some of the most difficult skills in the world with dynamic precision and impeccable form. Her weakest event is bars, if you can call an event where you make world finals weak. Jordyn is mentally tough and focused. Her biggest challenge this year will be the pressure of being the one everyone is trying to beat. She will compete all-around in Prelims and Team Finals and will be looking to win the all-around gold. She might make a few event finals as well.

Gabrielle DouglasGabby is also in her second year as a senior. She is phenomenal on bars. She SWINGS bars with incredible fluidity, beautiful lines and high flying tricks. Gabby was a bit unpredictable on the other events last year, but really came into her own this year, upgrading on every event, and competing with a new confidence and poise. She capped off the season by winning the Olympic Trials. Gabby will compete all-around in Prelims and will be looking to win the all around gold. She will definitely be competing bars in the Team Finals, and the other events will most likely be decided depending on how Prelims go.

Alexandra RaismanAly is in her third season as a senior and is our USA rock. She is so steady and comes through with performances that look just like she practices. She is phenomenal on floor and great on vault and beam. Bars is her nemesis and keeps her from fighting for the gold. Aly continues to improve her form and has some major upgrades on floor- doing some of the most difficult tumbling in the world. She will do all around in the prelims and will most likely be used on beam and floor in Team Finals and possibly vault. Aly will also be looking to challenge for a gold on floor.

McKayla MaroneyMcKayla is another second year senior and is the current World Vault Champion. She does the infamous amanar with such ease, grace and an explosion of power, it is in a class of its own. She also has a beautiful, artistic floor routine with lots of difficulty. However, her landings have been fairly inconsistent.  She is on the team for one reason, vault. She will compete vault and floor in Prelims and will be looking to win the vault gold. She will compete vault in Team Finals and floor will most likely depend on how Prelims goes.

Kyla RossKyla comes into her senior year as a two time Jr. National Champion. She particularly shines on bars and beam but is also great on vault. Though Kyla can hold her own in the all-around and on vault in most places, she comes in fourth in the all around and fifth on vault on this team. She will be competing bars and beam in the Prelims and undoubtedly in the Team Finals. She will be hoping to qualify for event finals on those two events as well.

All Athlete Pictures Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

This year could be one of the most exciting years in gymnastics history. Make sure and tune in!