With scores collected from EVERY elite meet in 2015 (as of May 10), I attempted to find a six person team that could beat the US’s 2015 score.
Over 200 gymnasts in the 24 teams invited to qualify to Rio or the Test Event were taken into consideration. If the gymnast was in the top 5 in the world (minus the US) on any event or in the AA, they would be put into a separate spreadsheet. That spreadsheet included:
- Flavia Saraiva (BB) of Brazil
- Ellie Black (AA) of Canada
- Shang Chunsong (BB), Xie Yufen (UB), and Huang Huidan (UB, BB) of China
- Claudia Fragapane (FX) of Great Britain
- Erika Fasana (FX) of Italy
- Yuki Uchiyama (UB) and Sae Miyakawa (VT, FX) from Japan
- Elsa Garcia (AA) of Mexico
- Eythora Thorsdottir (BB) of the Netherlands
- Daria Spiridonova (UB), Maria Kharenkova (BB, AA), Maria Paseka (VT, UB), Ekaterina Kramarenko (UB, AA), Ksenia Afanasyeva (VT, FX), and Alla Sosnitskaya (VT) of Russia
- Giulia Steingruber (VT, AA) of Switzerland
In a 6-5-4 (six gymnasts on the team, five compete on each event, four scores count) Worlds qualification format, the group with the highest score consisted of Steingruber, Kharenkova, Paseka, Shang, Huang, and Afanasyeva. The total for Team World was a 239.207.
- 7 = Austrian Team Open
- 8 = Russian Champs
- 23 = European Champs
- 24 = Li Ning Cup
- 29 = Brazil World Challenge Cup
The United States, consisting of Simone Biles, Bailie Key, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, MyKayla Skinner, and Kyla Ross (alternates would have been Maggie Nichols and Alyssa Baumann), totaled a 242.366.
- 10 = American Cup
- 17 = Jesolo
With a difference of 3.159, the World Team would need almost 0.8 more on each event to “win”. Win is in quotations because this is all make believe and includes scores from seven different competitions (out of 31 on record so far in 2015). Though each competition may have qualified judges and several separate events (qualifications, team finals, all-around finals, event finals), we all know scores differ from meet to meet.
However, one could argue that the US could, or maybe should, lose an average of 0.8 off of each event due to generous scoring from their two competitions. The American Cup being notorious for overscoring, especially towards the Americans, and Jesolo having a noticeable skill difference between the US and their competition, sans a select few.
It can also be argued that the Russian Championships (and nearly all domestic competitions) are known for charitable scoring. Having said that, the same cannot be said for most Chinese domestic competitions, such as the Li Ning Cup, where it’s not unusual to see routines that would score higher internationally than they did in China.
It’s also worth noting that only three of the seven meets used for scores were FIG-sanctioned events (American Cup, European Championships, and the Brazil World Challenge Cup), though every judge from the seven competitions is qualified and knowledgeable about the Code of Points and FIG rules. The main difference between international and domestic competition, besides generous scoring and lack of international gymnasts, is a possible bonus system.
What about Aliya Mustafina and Larisa Iordache? It’s safe to say that they would most likely be on the World team had they not been injured this year. That being said, let’s go a bit further and pretend that they did compete sometime in 2015 and miraculously received their highest scores from 2014 Worlds. Would their scores be enough to beat Team USA?
After replacing Steingruber and Kharenkova with Mustafina and Iordache to receive the highest score possible, here are the results:
Team World gathered 2.381 more points but would still trail Team USA, but by less than eight tenths this time.
Iordache and Mustafina’s scores would likely be inflated given that the World Championships is the pinnacle of the elite gymnastics season that many (if not most) elite gymnasts train all year for. I could have used scores from earlier competitions from 2014, but more than likely those scores would be a little deflated and I wanted to give Team World their best shot.
Until this pretend Team USA vs. Team World competition comes to fruition, all one can do is speculate with attractive data.
Article by Joe Rinaldi