USA vs the World

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.

I couldn’t.

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:

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

25 thoughts on “USA vs the World

  1. Russia is probably the closest to having a team that can give the us a challenge as they seem to be the only team that is competitive on all 4 events… they actually have close the vault gap (at least d scorewise).

    In a 3 up format the world team is very close to US esp given the seeming lack of amanar on us team currently…. us is saved by the fact of having multiple top fx scores.. I think us would still comes out on top as they are the strongest single team but w a significantly smaller gap 2014..

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    • Russia’s current 2015 score is 236.998 with a team of Spiridonova, Kharenkova, Paseka, Kramarenko, Ksenia Afanasyeva, and Alla Sosnitskaya. Most of their scores are from Russian Champs and a few Euro Champs aside from Kramarenko where her scores came from Universidad Trials and Bundesliga.
      Definitely a smaller gap from last year, and without Aliya.

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      • I assume that in the above team, aliya will replace kramarenko (or seda who might be alternate)? That would be nice that aliya will finally get some rest by not having to do vault in team final? Russia still need her scores on other 3 events. That is one good team! probably the best one since london since vika at the top of her game… Wonder where vika will fall in this time….

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  2. Well, this is kind of depressing, in that while I’m glad USA is strong, I wish that was more competition.

    Interestingly, if we were to pick a team final lineup (3 up – 3 count) using these numbers, Skinner would not be used. You’d end up with a 5 person team, in which Biles does all 4 events, Ross does everything but floor, Douglas does vault and beam, Key does UB and floor, and Raisman performs floor only. Of course it is all speculation, but I think the return of Raisman and Douglas has made Skinner irrelevant for Team USA.

    I’m glad for Russia that they are showing themselves to be a strong vaulting team again.

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    • Skinner is by no mean irrelevant yet, esp given the lack of more cheng and amanar for us right now.. She is showing on her instagram getting her amanar back in shape. I think that given that she knows her only leverage left is vault at this point, I bet she is working extra hard on both cheng and amanar. I think (and hope) that she will have both down… lets not forget she did win bronze vault last yr and if she gets her cheng and amanar down she still is in great position for another vt medal…

      If by classics or nationals we see amanar from key, gabby and aly, the us would be well on its way to living up to the nick “united states of amanars” but will have to see. And even then by doing two vaults, skinner has relevant as another vt medal.. There will be at least 1 specialist spot and there is not too many us specialists that are ef medal contenders

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      • That’s true. If she competes higher valued vaults she could be important for the team. I probably should have mentioned that my comment has more to do with Rio than this year’s world championships. Skinner did very well to get a vault medal last year and her vaults were quite clean! I wonder, though, if the selection committee will have to sacrifice a second vault medal in order to do what is best for the team overall once that 6th spot is eliminated for the Olympics. Raisman can contribute well on vault if she has her amanar back, is great on beam, and amidst the heavy hitters around the world on floor right now, she probably has a better chance than Skinner does to pick up a medal there. Of course, Skinner could prove me wrong! It just seems like, with these scores, she wouldn’t fit into a 3 up – 3 count scenario, especially in Rio. But there’s plenty of time for things to work themselves out until then.

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  3. I don’t think Skinner is irrelevant at all. Her vaulting continues to be some of the USA’s best, even without an Amanar. Even if Raisman and Douglas get their Amanars (likely), I don’t see Skinner falling out of a vault line-up in Marta’s eyes. On floor, there’s so much criticism of Skinner’s Moors. The reality is, Skinner has scored pretty darn well on her floor in international competitions. Obviously, Raisman’s floor is great; not Douglas’ strength. Again, given what Skinner has produced competitively on vault and floor, she’ll remain very much in the mix.

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    • I was just going by the scores in the article, which was kind of the point of the speculation here. I don’t know how Skinner’s training is going, but I was simply observing that the scores above do not even put her in top 3 spots on either of her specialty events. Raisman, Douglas, Key, and Ross all scored higher on vault in the chart (maybe that information is skewed, if Jesolo scores were severely inflated?). Of course, if she had her Cheng and Amanar she would be scoring higher, but I don’t know Again, given these numbers, if put on a worlds team she would be valuable in qualifications only, but not in the team finals. She could still qualify to a vault final, but Raisman and Biles would likely make floor finals ahead of her. The main reason why I said what I did is because in looking ahead to the Olympics, I’m always curious to see who that 6th member of the worlds team is who will not be able to be used at the Olympics. In this situation, it is Skinner.

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      • I hear your points for sure. Joe was very clear in pointing out the some of the variables that likely affected the scoring/table rankings in the article. We will see where Skinner emerges this season. IMO, she’s taken a BIG share of criticism, but actually vaults and tumbles cleanly with the exception of the struggle on the Moors.

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      • I wouldn’t say that cleanly. She actually messed up so bad on her cheng (even worse than her moors) during podium that she only did a DTY in competition at AC. She did really f up on her pet events at AC. I actually kinda for skinner but she does need to work to get back in the mix and i really do hope that she does.

        Guess we won’t see her for another month til classics…

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      • If simone is not included, I think you should put Skinner in her place as skinner scores better than baughman in vt and fx. Someone else do beam and bars… What would the score be like with skinner in place of simone?

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        • In a no Simone scenario, Mykayla is already on the team. Qualification routines by best score would be:
          Baumann (AA)
          Douglas (AA)
          Key (AA)
          Ross (VT, UB, BB)
          Raisman (VT, BB, FX)
          Skinner (UB, FX).

          Their score would still be 238.699.

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      • Right. Sorry. I was thinking more of TF. You should run a result of 3 up format with and without simone for US and world team.

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      • I’ll do that right now 🙂

        USA w/ Simone: 182.933
        USA w/o Simone (+Baumann): 180.433
        Simone adds 2.5 points.

        World w/o Aliya and Larisa: 181.390
        World w/ Aliya and Larisa (-Kharenkova & Steingruber): 182.556 (so close!)
        Aliya and Larisa add 1.166

        I’m sure I will be doing more hypothetical articles like this one when more scores are available.

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      • Nice! that is so close!! That does include handicaping US to only 1 amanar. So that would be interesting to see how many more amanar/cheng they will have by classics/nationals. Given the vault improvement by Russia and China, I think there is a high probability that we will see at least 2 more amanar/cheng on the US worlds team, which could theoretically give them close to another point.

        The analysis shows pretty clear that US certainly has gymnasts to capitalize even more on fx to make up for any devalue of amanar since last quad. It also shows how much more lagged behind world team is on fx (even taking into account for score inflation).

        I am actually a little surprised at the low number of US amanar/cheng right now (which will likely change).

        They definitely still can use some improvement on ub and bb compared to world team.

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  4. As I recall, Skinner was dealing with a mild injury (knee? but unsure) at American Cup and Marta then elected to keep her off the Jesolo team to promote healing. That may have accounted for the single vault as a DTY at AC. My main points about Skinner are that she’s BEEN in the mix and continues to be. It’s beyond exciting to see how everyone will perform this summer :-0))

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    • is the injury the cause or the effect of what happened in podium training at AC? I think it was the effect from her messing up on her cheng and moors at podium training rather than the cause (unless someone has certain information that she has a knee injury before AC causing her to crash…

      Skinner did really need a break to regroup after what happened at AC. Poor girl…. Glad that she at least pulled together a decent show for the actual competition with the only thing being removed is the cheng. She actually did a great bars routine for her so she does deserved some credit. What happened in podium could ve unglued a lot of gymnasts completely causing a pull out…

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    • World (-Mustafina & Iordache):
      Steingruber, Kharenkova, Kramarenko, Black
      TQ: 233.182
      TF: 176.582

      World:
      Mustafina, Iordache, Steingruber, Kharenkova
      TQ: 237.112
      TF: 180.062

      USA (-Biles):
      Key, Raisman, Douglas, Baumann
      TQ: 236.200
      TF: 178.500

      USA:
      Biles, Key, Raisman, Douglas
      TQ: 239.883
      TF: 182.183

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      • As expected, gap widens a bit more. US w/o Biles can now actually beat a world team w/o Musty and Larisa. With Biles they would be unbeatable w even bigger gap. Well, I hope that that Grandi was not trying to lessen US dominance bc he’ll be very disappointed.

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