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
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
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
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