The United States Worlds Team Preview

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Prelims have come and gone, and the U.S. is currently leading both as a team and in all individual spots. But we still have one more team finals preview to go, and it’s their turn!

The U.S. team is led by reigning World champion Simone Biles and 2012 Olympian Kyla Ross. The rest – Ashton Locklear, Madison Kocian, MyKayla Skinner, and Alyssa Baumann – are all incredibly inexperienced in comparison, but though they had a few nervous mistakes in qualifications, they’ve looked remarkably together, considering how green they really are.

As a team, vault is without a doubt the best, even without Amanars. The group posted over a 61 in prelims thanks to two perfect DTYs, Skinner’s Cheng, and Biles’ Amanar, showing that clean vaults of lesser value can still be incredibly important. Bars is probably their next best event, even though they had to count a mistake and Skinner’s low difficulty routine, and then on beam and floor, they should be able to put up two great routines and one decent one.

Biles this season has made some mistakes, falling on beam at nationals and then losing herself in her bar routine in prelims yesterday, but otherwise she is dominating and, as she proved yesterday, can still win the all-around with a fall (she didn’t fall yesterday, but her execution took a huge hit for her mistake). She is currently leading on vault, beam, and floor in addition to the all-around, and honestly, what else can I say about her? She’s stupendous.

Unlike last year, Ross has struggled some in 2014, beginning with a fall on beam at Jesolo. She’s made mistakes on every event but vault and also had to cut back on difficulty almost everywhere due to injuries. She’s gone her entire elite career without a season-ending injury, which is remarkable, as she’s almost 18…so perhaps it’s finally all just catching up to her, but really I blame her general inconsistency on pain because when she does hit, her technique is still flawless. She should contribute everywhere in the team final, though I could see if they swap her out and Baumann in on floor, just to give her a break.

Skinner came into this season looking messy at Classics despite Martha Karolyi raving about how much stronger she’s getting. But then, starting with nationals, Skinner has been out for blood and hasn’t fallen or made a major costly mistake since. The Pan Ams all-around, vault, and floor champ is never really clean on bars yet is scoring higher internationally than she did in the U.S., and she’s currently in second on both vault and floor, the two events she’ll contribute in finals. She also missed out on the all-around final by about a tenth, currently 4th behind Kyla in 3rd. She reminds me a bit of Aly Raisman, who also was scored higher internationally than she was at home (and also landed in 4th place in the all-around a lot…TWINSIES!).

I was impressed with how Kocian, Locklear, and Baumann handled themselves in prelims and hope they can continue it through to team finals. Kocian was exceptional on vault and floor, considering she hasn’t competed on either in over a year, and her bars problem was the first time she’s had issues on the event out of every routine she’d competed this season, so I doubt she’ll repeat that mistake in team finals…and hope that she can clean up bits and pieces on beam to hit a higher score there.

Baumann should go up on beam in finals for sure, and then possibly also on floor or even vault, where she would be able to give Ross a break. Locklear will just go up on bars, but she’s a very worthwhile one-event gymnast.

The Gymternet’s Team Final Predictions

Not really predictions, because the three team final gymnasts went in the last three spots during qualifications, but you never know – things can change! On vault, it should be Biles, Skinner, and Ross with Baumann as the alternate. Bars will be Locklear, Kocian, and Ross with Biles as the alternate.

On beam, I expect it will be Biles, Ross, and Baumann with Kocian as the alternate and on floor, we’ll see Biles, Skinner, and Ross with Baumann as the alternate.

The High Scores

We took our potential team finals lineups and plugged in each athlete’s high score this year to see what their maximum earning potential looks like. You know, just for fun.

VT Biles 15.900 Skinner 15.650 Ross 15.300 ALT Baumann 14.900
UB Locklear 15.850 Kocian 15.500 Ross 15.000 ALT Biles 14.750
BB Biles 15.700 Ross 15.350 Baumann 15.150 ALT Kocian 14.700
FX Biles 15.800 Skinner 15.100 Ross 14.800 ALT Baumann 14.450

Top Pick– 185.100
Alternate– 183.650
Average– 184.375

The Low Scores

Same as above, but using each athlete’s lowest score this season.

VT Biles 15.900 Skinner 15.000 Ross 15.050 ALT Baumann 14.200
UB Locklear 14.975 Kocian 14.750 Ross 13.950 ALT Biles 14.550
BB Biles 14.600 Ross 13.433 Baumann 12.900 ALT Kocian 13.000
FX Biles 15.500 Skinner 13.400 Ross 13.750 ALT Baumann 12.650

Top Pick– 173.208
Alternate– 171.958
Average– 172.583

Even their low scores are higher than most teams’ high scores, so they could basically all have their worst days ever and still challenge for the gold medal.

Let’s Be Real

We know not everyone is going to have their best or worst day during team finals, so here, we averaged each athlete’s scores on each event to get a more realistic idea of what will probably happen.

VT Biles 15.900 Skinner 15.317 Ross 15.210 ALT Baumann 14.550
UB Locklear 15.345 Kocian 15.101 Ross 14.713 ALT Biles 14.683
BB Biles 15.183 Ross 14.737 Baumann 14.340 ALT Kocian 14.038
FX Biles 15.650 Skinner 14.362 Ross 14.340 ALT Baumann 13.988

Top Pick– 180.198
Alternate– 178.851
Average– 179.525

Definitely a doable score if everyone hits. They averaged a 58.75 in prelims, which would be about a 176.25 in a three-up situation, and that includes mistakes.

It’s no surprise that the U.S. has the highest prediction average going into the team final. It’s a full six points ahead of China’s, and while I think in reality the U.S. and China will be slightly closer, I still think the U.S. has a clear edge, as they score pretty consistently on every single event. China has one real standout event – bars – but then decent vault and beam, and a shockingly scary floor rotation. They’ll really need to count on falls from the U.S. to put up a fight, and judging on how consistent the U.S. has been thus far, I just don’t think it’ll happen.

And now, for the final results in our team final prediction!

1. United States, 179.525
2. China, 173.011
3. Russia, 172.493
4. Great Britain, 170.984
5. Romania, 169.246
6. Italy, 166.770
7. Germany, 166.430
8. Japan, 165.909

Thanks for reading this series! We had a lot of fun playing with numbers and hope it showed an interesting, realistic look at how each team should perform in finals based on how they’ve performed so far this season. Now enjoy the REAL World Championships!

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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