U.S. Selects World Championships Team

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U.S. women’s national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and her selection committee have announced the team that will be sent to this year’s world championships, and it’s a fierce one.

Six-time world champion Simone Biles and two-time 2012 Olympic gold medalists Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman headline a team that also includes 2014 gold medalists MyKayla Skinner and Madison Kocian, 2015 U.S. silver medalist Maggie Nichols, and 2014 American Cup silver medalist Brenna Dowell.

With incredible depth and only two athletes bowing out of the process – Kyla Ross who withdrew voluntarily after a lackluster season and Madison Desch after struggling with back pain all summer – the decision was clearly a difficult one, with everyone who didn’t make it someone who could’ve contributed to the team and who likely would be welcomed on any other team in the world at the moment. It speaks a lot about just how insane this year’s depth is when you consider that Ross, who likely wasn’t going to factor had she stayed in the mix, was an all-around medalist at world championships and contributed on all four events in team finals just one year ago. There are absolutely gymnasts with huge potential left at home, but there simply just wasn’t enough room for everyone.

But the team chosen is a perfect solution to the puzzle. All ground is covered in terms of both the team final as well as maximum individual medal potential, and these gymnasts should once again come home with the team gold by quite a huge margin if all goes according to plan.

Of course, Biles is setting up for her third straight all-around win, and unlike last year, she is now virtually unbeatable. Since 2014, her vaults have gotten even cleaner, her healed shoulder has allowed her to clean up bars while adding five tenths in difficulty, and she’s stacked on another three or four tenths on both beam and floor, both of which are typically effortless sets for her.

Douglas and Raisman, meanwhile, have had some of the greatest comebacks in U.S. history, beginning with their impressive returns in Jesolo this March. With only six months back in the sport, they’re both already competing at levels we could’ve expected from them at their prime in 2012. Both eased right back into their spots on the national team as if they’d never left and could do some major damage in Glasgow later this month.

The rest on the list don’t have quite the pedigree of these three, but are all international medalists with major accomplishments of their own. Both Skinner and Kocian performed excellently in their first times on the worlds stage in Nanning, China in 2014, and this will be the first world championships for Nichols, who was expected to earn a spot last year but was injured at the Pan Am Championships just a month before.

For Dowell, it’s her third year named to the team in some capacity, but if she ends up competing in Glasgow – there’s still no distinction between actual team members and the traveling alternate – it will be her first time actually given the chance to show her routines after being demoted from competitor to alternate in 2013 and then only earning a non-traveling alternate spot last year. She could end up alternate again this year, but given the depth and the fact that she only had about a month between finishing up her NCAA season and returning to elite, it’s probably much more than anyone could’ve expected.

The non-traveling athletes who will stay at the Ranch and continue to train with the team are Bailie Key and Alyssa Baumann.

I think a year ago, most would’ve expected first-year senior Key, who dominated the junior international field in 2013-2014, to be one of the top choices for the team, but an elbow injury and growth spurt led to some decrease in her difficulty and technical ability on her once-best event, beam. She did make great waves on bars, however, and has a superb floor routine, but she lacks the Amanar on vault – something nearly all of her teammates now possess – and while her bars and floor are good, she has teammates who have consistently outperformed her on both this season. I’ve said it before, but perhaps it’s a good thing we won’t see her this year. It means she’ll escape the intense pressure going into 2016, so if she doesn’t make it next year she won’t face the immense (and often harsh) scrutiny of the press and public, but if she does make it, it’ll be a happy surprise.

Overall, this selection process was probably more suspenseful for U.S. fans than the worlds team final will be. The incredible depth means the biggest competition for U.S. gymnasts are no longer the Chinese or the Russians or the Romanians on an international stage, but rather their own teammates at home on the ranch in Texas. The other gymnasts in contention included Nia Dennis, Rachel Gowey, Amelia Hundley, and Ashton Locklear.

Congratulations to all of the women selected, and to all of those who made it this far but couldn’t go all the way. If only teams could be 13 strong.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

32 thoughts on “U.S. Selects World Championships Team

  1. Gosh such depth. I really wish Bailie had made it, but I am soooo excited for Brenna!! You said you wrote this post ahead of time–was your prediction correct? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t see any real surprises here, other than perhaps Brenna. Hopefully she’ll make it out onto the floor this year; I can’t imagine being alternate three times. I feel terrible for Bailie, but with the depth of this team, she just wasn’t ready for prime-time this year.

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  3. Just saw on another blog that Key and Alyssa Baumann will continue to train at the Karolyi Ranch with the team. Guess that would make them the non-traveling alternate(s)??

    Liked by 1 person

  4. BRENNA!!! Gosh they better let her compete this time!

    Non-traveling Alternates are Key and Baumann, according to gymnastike.org

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  5. Its crazy that Brenna still won’t get her double pike named because she wont be competing floor. (or she won’t compete at all if shes named alternate).

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      • She only needs to perform in qual to get it named. She obviously has no chance of performing fx in TF or EF.

        The protest by Brenna stans and the ensuing lynch mob could get VERY violent if marta makes brenna alternate again :)….. I do believe 3rd time a charm for brenna though. I just can’t contain myself that she made it!!! and this year is actually would be the hardest year compared to 2013 and 2014..

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    • The gymnast from Sweden who used to compete the front double pike years ago, Veronica Wagner, is also going to worlds… so they both potentially could compete it and it not be named!

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      • Can’t remember… vaguely think she was either just getting back to competition or was a bit injured at that point. Not that useful, sorry!

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  6. Good article, but I feel I should mention that Biles only increased her bars by 4 tenths. The 6.2 she’s received domestically was due to the stick bonus, her true start score is 6.1 as it was in 2013.

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  7. I really like this team and I believe that Marta has a very good reason as to why Brenna is on the team. It can’t just be her bars, since it doesn’t make sense that both Kocian and herself are selected for simply being bars specialist. I suspect that Brenna has her Amanar back and being a vault/bars specialist makes the team even stronger and she will compliment Aly’s floor and beam. On the other hand, this means that the only sensible alternate in this scenario is Maggie Nichols. Maggie doesn’t have a stand out event and her chances of being in the all around finals is just as good as Aly and Gabby who are specialists. Assuming that Maggie will be part of the 6-person team, her contribution will mostly likely be on VT only, a team of Simone+Raisman+Skinner can still score 46.5+, and if you replace Raisman with Maggie, the score will only increase by 0.3 at most, which means that either Brenna/ Kocian will be the alternate. Now, if you remove Nichols, the US will instead have a powerful lineup on bars with Kocian+Douglas+Dowell, which will increase their total score better than 0.3.

    With regards to Skinner and the VT finals, the gold and silver will be between Hong and Biles, therefore the bronze will be a battle between Paseka and Skinner. Skinner is not assured of any medal unless she has got her Amanar & Cheng.

    The second all around spot in the US, and most likely the silver medal in the AA finals, will be a fight between Raisman and Douglas. So the qualification will be brutal. I really hope Aly gets it, but I reckon Gabby will.

    USA’s medals will certainly be: Team, 2 AA, 1 VT, 1 BB, 1 FX. There is a good chance that they will win extra medals on VT,BB and FX and a really slim chance on UB. For the BB finals, it will depend on Iordache and the other 2 Chinese; for FX, it will depend on Iordache and Miyakawa; VT, from Paseka.

    I hope everyone is healthy and hits as the individual finals will be very interesting to watch!

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    • yeah, I think that’s why Lauren think Maggie is likely the alt… aly will still likely do her Amanar for AA but Brenna Amanar was better… so US will have all vt in qual over 6+… so right off the first rotation they already have a massive advantage…

      I am anxious to know skinner Amanar status too…

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      • I doubt that Biles will win silver or gold on vault. Definitely bronze. She apparently will not do a cheng since she hasn’t verified one and pasekas Amanar and cheng have been getting cleaner and cleaner so if Hong Un Jong does the same vaults we’ll most likely see what we saw last year with difficulty over execution and those two will battle for gold. Skinner doesn’t have much of a chance of touching the podium she is ten times sloppier than paseka and Hong Un Jong even with the Amanar and cheng and I’m waiting for the day Martha tells her to quit before she kills herself with that horrendous technique. I never imagined she would allow anyone on the national team with such a bad foundation in terms of flexibility, toe point, and even simple things that you’re supposed to train as a 6 year old. Just last quad you would get an automatic zero for doing a one handed vault so,technically Skinner should be getting extremely poor averages for one vault. Dowell and Kocian have big potential for event finals in bars but nothing more than that, the russians and Chinese are too strong for them. Raisman can make beam finals as well as Biles but iordache is at a 6.7, Shang Chunsong is also at a 6.8 and tutkhalyan is apparently at a 6.6-6.7 so if Simone Biles actually gets the scores she should be getting (she didn’t deserve a 15+score with wobbles last year) there’s a slim chance she’ll miss the podium. As for floor we’ll most likely see a floor 1 and 2, the order being a no brainier. Douglas will be second AA because there’s only 2 tenths between her and Raisman and Raisman gives up those on bars and while raismans bars are much cleaner than they’re still not very good in execution. Douglas will most likely medal a bronze with iordache silver. Small chance of Douglas moving up to silver and even smaller chance of getting bumped off the podium. Nichols should be the alternate because her form probably won’t be taken very well and she’ll probably get a 15.5 max on vault because she bends her knees. The lineup if I’m correct will probably be Vault: Biles, Dowell, Skinner Uneven Bars: Kocian, Dowell, Douglas Beam: Biles, Raisman, Douglas Floor: Biles, Raisman, Skinner

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  9. I really love your articles!
    Hopefully Bailie will shine next year and surprise everyone 🙂 She has a great natural talent and competition-maturity (if that’s a word).

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  10. Pingback: The 2015 World Championships Team Master List | The Gymternet

  11. This could be the Rio team
    Short of injury – Biles Douglas Raisman – AA & 2 with exceptional 2 events each ( but can do AA) .

    It’s like 88 & 92 when the USSR left off many famous names .although I doubt those left off now will be so fondly remembered in 20 years time .

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  12. Too bad this team was chosen for difficulty flashiness and popularity in reality only really Simone aly and Maggie out scored her and with really only Simone a lot more but bailie will get the last laugh next year I’m glad her coaches didn’t push her I know she’ll show all the haters doubters she’ll be stronger than ever next year.

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    • I don’t think anyone is by any mean counting bailie out of rio yet. On contrary, smaller team means AA will be more valuable. But bailie do really need to get consistently top 3 in at least 1 or better yet 2 events with an amanar. Same goes for Maggie. She really needs to also get top3 somewhere…

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    • This team was based on utilizing specialists (team competition is not about AAers), routines that the public did not see, and most importantly, numbers. No favorites. Don’t whine because your favorite was not chosen.

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      • Really gob if aly and gabby weren’t I the the mix bailie would be on the team. Only aly has scored higher and not by much if you look at the scores through out the year bailie has been top 4 take out the over scoring favorites and Maggie’s amarar bailie is top three. Another note I know it’s the Romania nationals but I feel lordache can challenge Simone and get 2nd place

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  13. I was really starting to think Bailie was left off of the nominative roster to light a fire in her and motivate her to work harder to earn her spot.
    Over Skinner, who still surprises me. I agree with everyone here that she will not medal in vault, even with an amanar, unless one of the top 3 makes a big mistake. Her vault isn’t needed for TF, nor is her floor. They’d be better off using someone cleaner and more consistent (Nichols). I’m still hoping Skinner will be alt.

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    • I think there’s still a chance bailie could be added over Skinner. Their strengths are opposites but Bailie makes more sense because as you said, Skinner’s vault is really not needed in TF and yeah she’d make EF but probably wouldn’t medal. Bailie isn’t super high D score wise on beam, but she’s clean enough to score well, same with floor. I think having another solid beam is more crucial at this point than a chucked vault/floor combo a la Skinner.

      I love Maggie, but she still makes the most sense as an alternate because she’s consistent across the bored but not really stand out anywhere.

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      • Would bailie beam good enough to be used in TF? If not, then it won’t happen. Douglas beam is not so bad as it is right now. I think for 2016 if possible, bailie should do something to be top3 in beam. She used to be such a great beamer!

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