Yeah, it’s another gymnastics post. Don’t worry, I’m limiting myself to an absolute maximum of one per week—there are enough gymnastics blogs out there, we don’t need to turn this blog into one. Also, Cammy’s not really into gymnastics, so that could make things awkward. Anyway, there’s a reason for this post: Yesterday USA Gymnastics released the names of the women who have been invited to attend the first World Team Selection Camp. World and Olympic teams in Ladies competition are now determined not by any particular competition, but by a series of camps which are a combination of training and competition. The first camp will be 13-18 September and then somewhere between eight and twelve of the women will move on to a second camp 3-6 October which will determine the final team. The team is chosen by a selection committee headed up by Marta Karolyi. Going to the first came are: (courtesy of Gymnastike)
Rebecca Bross, Plano, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics
Mackenzie Caquatto, Naperville, Ill./Legacy Elite Gymnastics
Chelsea Davis, Lakeway, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics
Kytra Hunter, Frederick, Md./Hill’s Gymnastics
Amanda Jetter, Milford, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics
Mattie Larson, Los Angeles, Calif./All Olympia
Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics
Alicia Sacramone, Winchester, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics
Samantha Shapiro, Los Angeles, Calif./All Olympia
Bridget Sloan, Pittsboro, Ind./Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy
Morgan Smith, Clermont, Fla./Brandy Johnson’s Global Gymnastics
Cassandra Whitcomb, Cincinnati, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics
If you’re wondering why there isn’t a competition to determine the team, look up the shenanigans that went on with the 1992 Olympic team. And if you’re still not convinced of how problematic competitions are for forming successful teams, go to YouTube and look up Kim Kelly, then ask yourself if that 90 degree split would have scored well in Barcelona. Current competition format also means that the best team is not necessarily made up of the top six gymnasts. There are six women to the team, but in team finals only three compete on each event. So the game is to put together a team made up of six gymnasts that also gives you the top three on each event. It’s like a logic problem.
Now obviously I’m not an expert, and even more obviously I have no say, but just for fun, I’m giving you my thoughts and predictions on the team. Keep in mind that World Championships aren’t till 17 October, which leaves plenty of time for someone to get injured (gymnasts are very breakable), so this is all tentative.
Rebecca Bross will definitely be on the team. She’s the national champion and can easily compete all four events in finals.
Mattie Larson is also looking close to a lock. She could potentially go up on any event, though she’s had some problems on beam here and there. She has a glorious divalicous floor and the international look that Marta Karolyi loves (that’s code for “she remembers to point her toes, and she can dance”). She comes with the Johnny Weir official Diva certification, and at the moment USA Gymnastics needs a little more of that.
Alicia Sacramone looks to be in good position to make the team because they really need her vault. She’s also been solid on beam and could contribute on both events. I have doubts about Marta trusting her on beam in another major competition, but she’s seemed positive about her recently. ASac also brings personality to the team which, let’s face it, they need.
If Bridget Sloan is healthy and ready, she’ll be on the team, and like Bross should be able to go on any event. Being totally healthy is a big if though—even if she’s on the team she may not have all events back.
I think Raisman has probably done enough to prove her case and will probably be on the team. The drawbacks for her are that she’s started to look more rattled in competitions and she has terrible lack of toe point. She could be iffy at this point.
For the final spot I’m going to throw in Mackenzie Caquatto (please note: if you’re ever stuck for the name of a US gymnast, assume it’s Michaela or Mackenzie—there are a lot of them) as a bars specialist. She did fall off bars during finals at nationals, but it was on a nothing move and she came back and put up a great (for her) beam set. That shows a mental “toughness” that Marta seems to really like.
So the team would break down like this:
Vault: Bross, Sacramone, Raisman
Uneven bars: Bross, Sloan, Caquatto
Balance beam: Bross, Sacramone, Raisman
Floor: Bross, Larson, Raisman
Team: Bross, Sacramone, Sloan, Larson, Raisman, Caquatto
There’s a lot of wiggle room on this team; both Sloan and Larson could do more events than I have listed for them. This could be good in the case of a last minute injury.
Other possibilities: Marta could put Larson in on bars and pick another power gymnast instead of Caquatto. If so, I would predict that spot going to Kytra Hunter who is a phenomenal tumbler even if she lacks a little in the form and finesse department. Chelsea Davis could easily take Caquatto’s spot as bars specialist. If Sloan is out that will probably open things up for Hunter or Davis. Sam Shapiro also has those pretty “international” lines Marta loves, but she lacks experience and breaks if you breathe on her hard. But if she does well at camp they could look at this as an opportunity to give her experience. Cassie Whitcomb could be a possible bars specialist too, but Marta’s had a lot of opportunities to give her assignments in the past and hasn’t. It all really depends on the camps at this point.