The United States Olympic Team

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There were really no surprises on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, with national team coordinator Martha Karolyi selecting the five she’s had her eye on all year while going for the three alternates who best fit as replacement athletes for this particular group.

Ten-time world champion Simone Biles, 2012 Olympic all-around champion Gabrielle Douglas, 2012 Olympic floor champion Aly Raisman, 2015 world bars champion Madison Kocian, and newcomer Laurie Hernandez make up the five who will compete in Rio de Janeiro this August while world champions MyKayla Skinner and Ashton Locklear will serve as alternates alongside first-year senior Ragan Smith.

Karolyi told the press following the meet that her decision to go with Douglas – who fell on beam in both days of competition here to finish seventh all-around – was based on what she can do for the team on bars. The spot came between her and Locklear, though Locklear wasn’t as high on Karolyi’s list due to her inability to contribute on other events if needed.

While I agree that Douglas does help the team on bars, she adds no more than a couple of tenths there whereas Skinner – who placed fourth after the best weekend of her life – can add at least five tenths on vault and another few on floor while also likely bringing in a medal on vault.

With the U.S. team so far ahead of all other countries, it didn’t really matter who went in that spot, and Karolyi justified her decision by speaking of Douglas’ potential to contribute more than what we’ve seen so far this summer based on how she generally tends to get into her best competition shape and mindset when a medal is on the line.

Choosing the team comes down to far more than numbers when you’re a shoo-in for the gold medal, to be frank. The press wanted Karolyi to defend her decision for Douglas yesterday, and it was clear she wasn’t really sure how, answering “she’s going for bars” several times but then getting frustrated and saying “I’ve answered this five times already” before storming away from the media session.

The thing is, Karolyi doesn’t have to justify her decision. Because logically, taking Douglas just for bars doesn’t make sense. At all. I’ve discussed the business side of gymnastics decisions before and what does make sense is bringing the reigning Olympic champion to hopefully get back into fighting form so she’ll make the all-around final along with the reigning world champion. Even though it’s not as close as the media will make it out to be, the story itself is a fantastic one, the once-in-a-lifetime dream Olympic Games narrative.

Personally, I would’ve preferred Skinner on the team. She came back from a heinous beam performance at nationals to have the meet of a lifetime, climbing slowly all season long to reach what is the pinnacle of her elite career, peaking right when she needs to and showing a tremendous confidence and passion for the sport with her smiling and fist-pumping and waving and dancing after all of her awesome routines.

I’ve talked to many a casual viewer this weekend. It seems the whole country was rooting for Skinner, and the whole country is very confused as to why she’s not on the team. Skinner herself seemed happy about getting as far as she did, but definitely a bit frustrated about it not working out, stating that she got her hopes up to see she finished fourth. Her tears were a mix of happy and sad, but she should be incredibly proud of the journey and for getting as close as she did. Four years ago, she didn’t even make it to trials, and the work she’s done this quad has been unbelievable. In a perfect world, she fits the team better and would be representing the United States in Rio.

That said, I understand the decision to take Douglas. Please don’t think I’m “hating” on her because she got this spot. Many people are totally against her for whatever reason, but it’s not exactly “hate” to discuss and rate a gymnast based on how she performs. As I’ve said before, if you take away Douglas’ name, your impressions of her at this meet would be that she is a great gymnast, but one who doesn’t contribute much and isn’t consistent enough. That’s a fact. If this was a blind selection process with no names attached to scores and trials actually mattering (because let’s face it – alternate decisions aside, they don’t matter), Douglas would not be on this team.

Douglas made the team not based on what she did or didn’t do in San Jose, but rather based on the precedent she set in 2012 and again in 2015. That’s a fully valid reason to take her to Rio, even if Karolyi seemed hesitant to admit this. Douglas has made an incredible return to the sport which is why I’ve been defending her all summer long, believing in her ability to come out and show us what she’s truly capable of. The pieces are all there. It’s just a matter of putting everything together all at once. She has a great DTY, an incredible bars set, strong work on beam (as she proved with her angry beam on day two at nationals), and good enough work on floor to bring in strong numbers internationally. A team decision comes down to more than just one meet, so while Skinner killed it this weekend and left a huge final impression on the selection committee, overall this season, Douglas is worthy of a spot and more than earned it.

You can fight about these two to death and both sides would have legitimate arguments, so I’ll let you do that in the comments while I move on. Biles, Hernandez, and Raisman continued to be locks for the team even with some little spots here and there they’ll hope to work on before August. Most surprisingly was Biles’ fall on her barani on beam during the second day of competition, but really, with Biles called an Olympian in the press for months at this point, she had nothing to worry about. She was making this team.

Kocian, meanwhile, had a fall on beam on day two, but hit the most brilliant bar routine of her career and secured her spot over Locklear, who got the Anna Li alternate spot, something no one was shocked to see based on Karolyi’s own admission that Kocian would act as a built-in alternate on vault and floor while Locklear couldn’t offer that to the team.

As for Smith, I had guessed on GymCastic that she’d go as an alternate specifically for beam, but I thought that spot would be between her and Nichols. According to Karolyi, Nichols was never really part of the conversation due to her recent injury and surgery, so despite her strong performances on vault and floor this weekend, her lack of an Amanar and inability to reach the top three on floor took her out of both the team and alternate equations, with Skinner the clear winner for the vault and floor alternate spot. Smith, who finished fifth all-around, made the most sense both as an all-arounder and for her beam, where she placed second behind Hernandez. The 15-year-old competed with strep at nationals and a cold here, performing admirably in a tough field and handling the high-pressure competition with the maturity and class of someone much older.

So that’s the U.S. team and why it came to be. Love it or hate it, they’ll still win gold and by a pretty good margin. Depth is a bittersweet problem to have, and in this case, several potential event medalists – Skinner on vault, Locklear on bars, and even Smith on beam – will not get the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games because of something beyond their control. They performed as best as they could this weekend, but at the end of the day, the decision was made for reasons that have nothing to do with them.

I’ll be back with a separate article highlighting those who didn’t make it, because they didn’t get the coverage they deserved on television and are worthy of more than a postscript.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

136 thoughts on “The United States Olympic Team

  1. “I’ll be back with a separate article highlighting those who didn’t make it, because they didn’t get the coverage they deserved on television and are worthy of more than a postscript.”

    YAAAAAAAS. Still so mad about that coverage.

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  2. Thanks for the article – I always appreciate your commentary. I understand that Gabby has a place on the team – I get her bars in the bigger picture of the team final and I understand her history of improving. The piece that I think they’ve got wrong (USA Gym, Steve Penny, etc.) is that they see the Gabby decision as a good business decision. Perhaps… but I also see it as a BAD business decision b/c these type of unclear decisions are what make the four-year fans give subjective sports like gymnastics and ice skating the “side eye.” It’s hard to take it seriously as a sport when these are the decisions and it’s not based on the actual sporting trials. I love gymnastics and I want it to hit the big stage and I fear these kind of decisions actually hurt it in the long run in popularity.

    That said – there is a lot of talent on this entire squad and narrowing it down was always going to be tricky. Congrats to all the athletes on the team, including the alternates, and congrats to those who performed their hearts out. So much talent!

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    • Yeah, I agree…I think people assume most four-year fans want Gabby on the team because she is a big name but everyone I know who isn’t a gym fan is like WHY THE EFF DIDN’T MYKAYLA MAKE IT?! Like, they’re legitimately rioting. If anything the decision looks like politics to an outsider who doesn’t understand why Gabby can fit the team in a way, and it makes the decision-makers look corrupt. I think Martha could have done a better job of explaining the decision to the press, or at least being a little more honest about the whole “potential” aspect because I didn’t hear her say “potential” once. I heard her say “she’s going for bars.” But…really, she’s not.

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      • Exactly! My friends and family who don’t follow the sport like I do but who watched this weekend were texting me angrily about the team. My sister commented that it’s weird to keep the rising stars from having the opportunity that they earned.. and I think she nailed the sentiment of the crowd with that statement. I hate that some of these feelings are being directed at the gymnasts b/c that’s definitely not it. They deserve to be excited and enjoy it. Thankfully they’ll all be trapped in 20-hour workouts soon at the Ranch and won’t know or care anyways. 🙂 I look forward to reading your post on the rest of the athletes too!

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      • Actually, many E4Y fans think it should have been Ashton. I’ve fielded several texts and emails today asking me to explain Gabby over Ashton rather than Gabby over MyKayla. I’ve not seen the NBC coverage yet (I was at Trials live), so I’m not sure whether this is being caused by something in the NBC commentary.

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    • Yeah, I think USAG and USOC thought they could sold the magic story gabby being back. But i think they underestimate or didn’t expect that even though a lot of people are fangirling gabby, the large amount of people have now questioned exactly what are they thinking in making this decision. It was obvious that marta couldn’t provide a satisfactory answer.

      Also, I think JC also brought up the point that trial was supposed to be the say it all, end of the line, the buck stop here but in truth it is effective only just another competition in part of many. I think a lot of people falsely thought that everything happened there is the sole determiner so when marta took into consideration other factors and competition everyone is like wtf? They should have made it more apparent upfront. But of course nbc being nbc, they only just want more drama and not true journalistic coverage..

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      • That’s exactly the point. In every other sport that has trials, the top placements go to the Olympics, regardless of their precedents. The problem is that gymnastics have trials which aren’t real trials, especially because the focus is on the team competition, and the five top placements don’t necessary make the best team. Like any other team, you don’t decide the members only because of their individual placements. It’s rather a sort of puzzle, but obviously it’s hard to understand this for people who aren’t so much into gymnastics but are interested in it in Olympic years, unless you explain it better. Like, let’s consider the Netherlands. They have selected their team through several trials, all of which counted towards the final decision, not just the last one. Probably, it would have been better to explain things in this way, remembering multiple times that all the competitions matter, not only the final one. But then, it could still be hard for fans to understand, because all the other trials work differently. The real point is that this is the nature of the sport, where putting together a team means not only to take the top players, but also to cover all the roles for a team competition which requires different strengths on each apparatus.

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      • I think that’s what frustrated me when reading a lot of the comments from fans…most based their opinions only on Nationals and/or Trials and not holistically. You can’t compare gymnastics trials to any other trials because the dynamics and logistics are so different. ex. Track and Field or Swimming…it wouldn’t matter what you did at any other point if you can’t turn it on and win when it counts because that’s the format in the Olympics. Gymnastics is all about consistency over extended periods of time and so your track record is always going to factor into decision making. Plus, like everyone has said, a gymnastics team is a puzzle that has to be pieced together. I don’t think Skinner’s vault on it’s own is more valuable than Gabby’s bars but I also know what Gabby had done leading up to nationals…everyone is acting like none of that should have counted.

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  3. I was very disappointed to see Gabby on the team. Marta is the one who is always harping about “what have you done for me lately.” Yet Gabby seems to be the exception to the rule, at least in 2016. Further, why is she permitted to always “peak late” while the other girls are expected to kill it every time they go out? That’s a luxury that only she seems to get. Beyond all that is her own admission that she doesn’t have the passion she once did, and she needs to get it back. Putting someone on an Olympic team when they lack the passion to do their own sport is ridiculous. Forget the falls and mistakes. She was mailing in each and every one of her routines knowing that she had a guaranteed spot no matter what. That was the infuriating part of all of this. Marta’s defensiveness when asked to explain her decision to award Gabby a spot is very telling.

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  4. Thank you Lauren and yes, we need to move on. The reference to Gabby’s precedent/past performances in 2012 and 2015, though, sound a whole lot like taking an athlete for their name – not for their mental and physical preparedness which Marta has preached ad nauseum to the media for the past 6 months. Marta stormed off from the press on Sunday night because they would have nailed her for the hypocrisy. Given what you talked about in terms of a network-inspired Simone-Gabby Rio showdown (lol), I’m expecting a benched Laurie or Aly for AA in Rio – but still reserving a little hope for fairness. Please. Thx again for all you bring to the sport.

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    • Well, it WOULD be like taking Gabby based on her name for 2012 if she didn’t come back and do it all again in 2015. It’s more about the fact that she can tend to look not great in training or the earlier meets and then come out and kill it when it counts. That’s precedent, not name. If she didn’t have that history of hitting when it counts, I would say it was solely for her name, but I think Martha knows that once Gabby gets to the ranch, Martha will whip her into shape and she’ll be fine. I think if you look back to 2011 when both Shawn and Chellsie were left off of the worlds team and then again in 2012 when Nastia was left off of Rio, it’s clear Martha doesn’t take girls just because of something they accomplished four years ago. Gabby has had a super strong comeback even though this summer she’s gone downhill a little. But she was also fifth AA at nationals last year and won worlds silver with a great performance, so I think Martha is expecting her to do what she did last year, which isn’t out of the question. I hope for their sake it works out for them. And I trust Martha…she’s generally smart and can see what we as fans can’t always understand until we see it happen.

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      • I guess I just wasn’t super impressed by 2015 – all it showed me was that Gabby was slightly better than Aly in qualifications and that Maggie didn’t get the chance she deserved. Because had she, chances are Gabby wouldn’t have been on the podium. I don’t really care that Gabby “peaks late” and needs more time, because that luxury isn’t given to anyone else. All the other girls were expected to show their stuff before and at trials. And if it takes Martha whipping her into shape each time, then maybe her work ethic and drive needs to be assessed. Just sad all around. I’m dreading finding out who doesn’t get to do AA to make room for Gabby and the desired plotline. Aly who has worked so hard to prove she deserved the podium in 2012 and who is arguably an even better gymnast now??? Laurie who has an had amazing year and proved that she truly could be 2nd in the world??? Truth is, whoever the 2 Americans are that make it will probably be on the podium – so if it happens to be Gabby it’s really only because she didn’t have to compete against her teammates on that day. At their best I think Simone is number 1 and then Aly, Laurie, and Gabby are 2-3-4 or 3-2-4 or 3-4-2 or whatever on any given day.

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      • Sorry, I do not agree. The 2012, 2015 thing whether it be precedent, a medal or whatever is a clap trap for Gabby that doesn’t hold water in 2016. With several variations of team make-up leading to gold, the team selection didn’t ultimately need to be Marta’s choice this quad. It was the network’s. I’m calling Bryant Gumbel. Now.

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        • Personally I agree. Which is why I also agreed with Danell Leyva getting left off of the men’s team. I think whoever’s ready when the team is named should be the one to go and that’s not Gabby. But I get what they’re trying to do with Gabby and it’s worked before so I understand why they’re willing to give it another shot. Because beam falls aside, she had good days and has good routines. If she had more meltdowns and came in like Nastia without a full bars routine and still made it then yes, it would be a huge problem. But even though I don’t agree with what they’re doing, I get why they’re trying to make Gabby happen again this year.

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      • I hate to disagree, but in my opinion it didn’t really work with Gabby in 2012. She faltered in qualifications and totally bombed both of her event finals, finishing 7th and 8th. So under pressure in London she did very well on 2 days and rather poorly on 3 days. She’s inconsistent and I fear what could happen in a team final if she falters and causes other girls to perform poorly because she casts such a dark shadow over the mood of the team.

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      • I agree with everything Jen said. I can never understand why people go on so much about Gabby being the world silver medalist? Had Maggie been given the chance to do AA in qualifications, it would have likely been her not Gabby. Given how much medals depend on these somewhat arbitrary decisions (like who gets to do AA qualifications over whom), I don’t see why they are then afterwards made out to be such a big deal – clearly the medal isn’t a reason or indication to rate someone higher than someone else when that other person could have just as easily won the medal had they just been given the chance.

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    • I really don’t think people are giving Gabby enough credit. Up until nationals and trials, she had exactly the 2016 season that she needed to have to be in top contention. Yes, she was 5th at nationals last year. Bailie Key was 4th and didn’t even make the Worlds team as the traveling alternate, so obviously placement isn’t all-important and Skinner isn’t the first person to get knocked off of a team based on someone else’s potential. I didn’t hear this much outrage about Dowell being on the team and completely tanking it at Worlds….Skinner didn’t do vault in qualifications in order to give Dowell her chance to have her skill on FX named and to make bars finals even though Dowell had struggled to make her routines all season but got it together at camp. It happens. Moving on…Gabby went from 5th at nationals to being pretty much a rock at worlds except for her fall on beam in qualifications. Had she not fallen, she would’ve competed that event in TF and a hit routine for her in AA finals scored .2 higher than Aly’s hit routine in TF. Maggie didn’t even break 14 in TF. The last spot for AA quals was actually between Aly and Maggie and Martha gave Aly the spot, but she had her worst meet ever. She then went on to have a major miss at literally every competition this season until Nationals. In contrast, Gabby beat Maggie at American Cup and she won again in Jesolo even without having her full difficulty. She was third on bars at Classics behind Maddie and Ashton and again at Trials. Aly looked great all 2015 and then barely showed up to Worlds….besides the fact that the international judges didn’t score her routines even remotely close to how she was scored domestically. And she is only just now looking like herself (even though that Amanar still needs work). No one is complaining about her or doubting that she earned her spot but everyone is up in arms about Gabby like Gabby hadn’t been consistent leading up to Nationals. I don’t think she should be give an AA spot over Aly or Laurie in Rio but I also don’t think people are being fair in their assessment of Gabby. That’s not to say that Skinner shouldn’t have made it and I agree with Lauren’s assessment of the whole issue but the Gabby bashing really needs to stop. She’s on the team. It’s done. Let’s be supportive now.

      Question, though. Let’s say Gabby sucks at camp or doesn’t improve enough by Rio. Could they put Skinner in instead even if Gabby wasn’t injured? Or are alternates only allowed in at this point if a named athlete gets injured?

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      • The last spot in 2015 was between Maggie and Gabby – Martha has said Gabby almost didn’t make the team. She was 5th at Nationals behind Aly, who was 3rd. I think Gabby should be on this team – but you can’t compare 2015 to 2016, at least not really because there is the huge force of Laurie. I don’t think it much matters though because we can speculate all day long about why Martha chose her or whether it’s fair – fact is that she and Aly have been around along time – they have longer track records to look at and like it not, that’s part of the selection process. Time to move on and hope that the right choice is made for AA in Rio. I don’t think they can replace anyone without an injury – whatever petition is made to replace goes through IOC. So I don’t know if they can’t say “omg she’s horrible mentally and will lose the gold for the U.S.” and then the IOC committee will change her out. haha. My guess is that if she just doesn’t improve, they will go with an excuse like her ankle or something that has been a problem in the past so that the public will believe it.

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      • Well, if this is Russia, you can bet that VRod definitely has the power to pull someone up to even the time 24 hr before qual without any explanation other than shes not good enough and doesn’t face the media firing squad…

        But here in US, unless there is a real injury or like gabby being completely headcased or unsalvageable, she will go to rio. I mean if she completely lose it in an extreme case, it s possible. But if the current trajectory continues they are unlikely to replace her. It would look so bad, even worse fallout in the media.

        So yes, they could always for ANY reason, but highly unlikely unless actual injury

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      • @WP I hear you. I guess my thought was that if Gabby’s place is justified based on what they think she’ll be able to do by Rio and she doesn’t deliver, would she still be used even if it was to the detriment of the team? The alternates will be at camp and in training, too, so it’s not like a switch couldn’t be made. And I don’t think that anyone who’s been paying attention wouldn’t understand if Gabby was taken out. Most people weren’t happy about her making it…I think the people defending her were more gym fans than not. From what I could see, E4Y people judged her based on nationals and Trials and weren’t happy with her performance. I think most people would understand just fine if USA Gym was like, “Gabby didn’t get herself together. MyKayla has been on. We’re making the switch.” lol but I think you’re right in that’s most likely not going to happen.

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  5. Don’t know if you saw the broadcast but the way NBC presented the Trials, definitely made the general public think that something was rotten going on.
    Before beam…
    Tim “All Gabby needs to do is stay on her feet on these last two events and she’ll be going to Rio.”
    After the fall and during floor warm ups…
    Al “What’s the position Gabby is in?”
    Tim “Actually, Gabby’s stock went up as she hit bars.”

    Like WTH! There was a definite change in presentation of the storyline. No logical person could wrap their heads around someone’s stock going up after a fall! If you’re going to spin the story of Gabby being an UB specialist, don’t suddenly present it after beam, do it before bars! This sudden change of the script reeked of something going on behind the scenes.

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    • Yeah…I haven’t watched the NBC broadcast, but that’s the feeling I got from people who did, especially those who don’t follow the sport regularly. People were assuming Gabby only got it because of what she accomplished four years ago.

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    • I completely agree about the NBC broadcast. It seemed to me when I was watching that they’d gotten a new directive from higher up and they really did change the narrative FAST.

      The other thing they kept doing was essentially emphasizing that trials didn’t really matter and the team was already set (and had been for a long time). Which, of course, is true, but I can definitely see how that would seem super unfair and frustrating to a general audience that’s used to seeing competitions decided on scores and that day’s performance. Tim Daggett tried to explain the “team jigsaw puzzle” a few times, but it really wasn’t convincing because… well, math. At the end of the day, it’s Martha’s decision and she’s usually right, just like Lauren said, but I really do understand how very off this all looks to mainstream viewers.

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    • Yes, completely agreed about NBC. They actually went so over the top trying to justify Gabby’s spot as the night went on that I think it made the decision look worse.

      It went from “Well, Gabby just needs to stay on the next two events and she’s going to Rio” to “Well, it actually doesn’t matter that Gabby just fell off beam again, all she needs to do is land four passes on floor and she can pack her bags for Rio”. I thought Tim started off being sort of objective, and then it was like a sudden 180-degree shift in tone near the end of the competition. It definitely came across as someone said something to him behind the scenes after beam like, “She’s going to go and we can see how this might look questionable to the viewers, so justify it for them with whatever narrative works.” So we end up with Tim dismissing the possibility of anyone else making the team (Skinner), the slow-mo replay of Gabby’s bar routine, etc. It was overkill to the point that it was hard NOT to pick up on the script change lol.

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      • Why is NBC in cahoots with USAG? Does Tim have no spine or code of ethics?

        Gabby’s bar routine was a miss. She had to add an element, which reduced her difficulty value. Botching bars on both days was terribly disappointing for our bars specialist… Meanwhile, Ashton never misses, beat Maddie at the last Worlds they both attended and still doesn’t make the team.

        Complaints should be filed. It’s about time Martha leaves as she’s tarnished her reputation.

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        • Yeah, I’d like to better understand the connection and relationship USAG has with NBC. It is obviously monetary, but what are the features of these types of business deals? I’m hoping someone can educate the fan base on this. An educated fan base (yes, even about business aspects of sport) can hold a particular sport more accountable – in this case gymnastics – for its performance as a governing body and even how they relate to media. Power to the people baby.

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  6. I am happy with this team. Putting all the dramas and Gabby’s attitude aside, her potential for the team finals is hard to be overlooked. Even though she is just the shadow of her 2012-self, she can still contribute towards the team gold. Gabby should realise how important she is for the team more than her dreams of getting the all around gold.

    To be honest, Gabby’s bar is not as stellar as others but is still usable. I personally would want Simone,Aly and Laurie to fight for the AA spot. However, we have to wait what the line up will be depending on their training sessions. What scares me is that in the event that Gabby will be asked to sit UB for team qualification to give way for Aly and Laurie to do AA, this might affect her performances throughout the Olympics.

    Let’s just hope that Marta uses her magic one last time to motivate Gabby.

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    • My expectation is that they will be afraid to put Gabby on team final bars without her doing qualifications. Thus Aly will get shafted because Gabby isn’t mentally strong enough to a finals routine without a prelims as Maggie was.

      It’s interesting how many people are getting shafted to take care of Gabby’s needs. Skinner is getting shafted on the assumption that Gabby just needs Martha’s personalized assistance and then everything will be okay. Again, none of this is Gabby’s fault, but the numerous adjustments and considerations being made for “what Gabby needs” give the impression of a very high-maintenance athlete and are completely unfair to the others who would not receive the same coddling.

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      • you are probably right – but I think it will be Laurie who doesn’t do AA. Martha is all about seniority i.e. Maggie sitting out in 2015. It’s not right or fair. Gabby should absolutely sit out AA. If she isn’t mentally strong enough, then she shouldn’t be on the team

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    • how much does that say about her mental game if sitting out an event in qualifications would affect the rest of her performances? That’s what’s killing me. Everyone else is having to accommodate what works for Gabby. Team first guys! If she can’t put her individual goals aside and do it for the team when she is told to, then what use is she?

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    • I think Gabby should not compete bars in qualifications so that Aly and Laurie can both do so. We don’t need her in quals. I bet Simone will score better than her on bars anyway in quals and they’d use her instead since she doesn’t miss.

      I think Gabby’s problem is more than motivation. She does not have the skill level to compete for the US at this time. Reality TV is taking too much of her schedule… she had to blame it on Kittia rather than herself.

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      • I think you are going a little overboard in saying she doesn’t have the skill level to compete for the US. Her DTY is actually better than Laurie’s, though the scores don’t reflect that. Even adding an extra stalder before her Chow 1/2, she would still score above anyone else, besides Kocian and Ashton from US. Her beam is worth usually 6.2-6.3. Finally, her FX is a 5.9.

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    • I also agree with the team. With everything being “fair” (or “close” to it), the top 5 scores from Championships and Trials combined is Simone, Laurie, Aly, Gabby, and Kocian. So I’m satisfied with the team’s selection. I even like our alternates although my heart breaks for Maggie.

      And people keep making a big fuss about Skinner. She’s a GREAT gymnast and I LOVE her tumbling. But I think she shot herself in the foot at Championships by finishing outside of the top 8 and having to be invited to the Trials. I think the Trials is becoming a battle for the alternates, not a spot on the actual team. It’s sad that Skinner’s coach did not inform her of her standings after Championships. Kinda reminded me of Sabrina Vega in 2012. What is starting to bother me about Skinner is that she and her parents are upset about her not making the team. News flash: A LOT of other girls did not make the team. Skinner is becoming a sore loser and it’s sad because she is a GREAT gymnast.

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  7. “Douglas made the team not based on what she did or didn’t do in San Jose, but rather based on the precedent she set in 2012 and again in 2015. That’s a fully valid reason to take her to Rio.”

    This is the precedent of being subpar in qualifying competitions and getting better later? In what world is that a valid reason to take someone to the Olympic team? Basically it’s giving Gabby extra credit for competing worse.

    Mykayla Skinner’s precedent is being consistent in qualifying competitions and consistent when given the chance to compete afterwards. She proved that in 2014 Nationals and Worlds, in 2015 Nationals, and all year in 2016 save one bad beam routine.

    Douglas’ gift onto the team seems to be based on her history of failing at Nationals. And Douglas had 4 chances to have a clean night. She succeeded on 0 of them. 1 bad night is completely understandable. 1 bad meet is forgiveable. After each bad night, I kept expecting her to have a great meet the next day, but she never did. To place her on the team 4 flawed nights in a row requires an outrageous degree of favoritism I can’t believe anyone would try to defend.

    Based on Karolyi’s logic, Douglas could have done only bars at Trials and the result would have been the same since her performances on the other 3 events gave no reason to put her on the team over Skinner.

    And let’s talk about those bars. That super-valuable, can’t do without few tenths edge on bars. She only had 1 night where she scored over 15.1.

    Do scores not matter anymore? Does proving one’s worth in competition? By the scores, Douglas adds a small amount to uneven bars and nothing else. You cannot defend her by the scores as a backup since Skinner outscored her on 3 events.

    Douglas said in the interview after she was named to the team that she just needed a little more time.She probably does, but no one else is getting extra time and the girls who were shafted showed up on time. Douglas could be great if she hits, but competition is not about who could be great, but who shows that they are when they’re asked to be.

    I realize this is not Douglas’ fault they named her to the team, but Karolyi and the committee should be ashamed of themselves.

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    • It’s definitely not on Gabby that she made it. And I don’t think that people are “hating” on her, so much as they are making the comparisons between her and the other gymnasts. Martha claims this is her last team and she’s retiring (but we’ve heard that before, looking at you Bela). But even if she does comeback, in her mind she believes it’s her last time and the gold is a clench, so she chose the girls she wants to win with. It’s not fair or justifiable to have Gabby there. All of the arguments made in her defense, can be refuted easily. If she’s only there for bars, that makes her a specialist. Why wouldn’t you choose Ashton as the second specialist though. (The “good back up” argument is weak, Ashton and Kocian together, or Kocian alone are acceptable back ups.) The “puzzle” argument doesn’t make sense either. Because the team could look however and the gold is still a lock. If we needed higher bars scores to win, sure, but we don’t. Reality is, Biles, Aly, and Laurie could make up the team and if they all hit, they could win. I’m not an E4Y fan, I follow it obsessively and I still think Skinner made the most sense. She proved herself. And maybe some think she is being a sore loser, but why are we expecting someone who, in the eyes of the public, was shafted, and is still a teenager, to not say how she really feels. It could be done more graciously or with more tact, but again, that guidance should come from the parents. And they feel the same way…
      It has always made me cringe when the girls can’t say what they really feel and have to say the “right” thing. Jo after quals in London was forced to go to the media box. She managed to say the “right” thing, but why couldn’t she say my dreams were just shattered?! Or Shawn, after not just hyped media, but she herself said over and over she wants to be the best, then had to smile and say she wasn’t disappointed because they wanted to go 1,2 together. She was able to say how she felt later, but had to toe the line while still under the Karoyli thumb.
      And reality is, by taking Douglas over Skinner or Ashton, were losing medal potential. Gabby isn’t good enough to get an ef medal. And, history shows she’s a hot mess in ef. Ashton and Skinner could possibly medal.
      My husband, who knows almost nothing about gymnastics, but watched the trials with me, really didn’t understand Gabby making it, so I do think the e4y fans will have a harder time with it, that being said, if Gabby gets to do AA over laurie or Aly, it will be a huge injustice. It’s often reported wrong, and people forget that Aly was the first place us qualifier in London and 2nd overall with Komova 1st. Gabby just barely beat Weiber. I think the only thing Gabby’s career has shown is that she a natural ability, but she’s consistently inconsistent. If her errors don’t matter because “she hits when it matters,” why doesn’t that apply to everyone? Why is she getting special treatment? Why is someone who has said they need to work harder (implying she wasn’t giving it everything she had) on an Olympic team, when there are other options?
      Martha knew that pretty much any combination would do and that the fifth spot, didn’t really matter, so she picked based on personal preference. It’s sad. Gabby had her shot. Aly definitely earned her second shot. Gabby didn’t.

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      • And, it’s not like it’s the end of the world to pass on a former Olympian. Alicia Sacramone in 2012 had a solid comeback and wasn’t named to the team. That precedent has been set by the selection committee. It’s a shame that the media has run wild with crafting this narrative of the 3-times World Champion and the Defending Olympic All Around Champion as teammates and rivals. I’m pretty much on the fence about Douglas. I think excluding Nationals and Trials, she did what she had to do to solidify herself as a viable pick for the team. What I had thought was without Douglas, USA is able to give the top 3 all arounders (Biles, Hernandez, and Raisman) a fair fight at those 2 spots. You then fill in with a Kocian/Locklear-and-Skinner combo. The draw back to this is that in TF Hernandez, Kocian/Locklear, and Biles compete UB and I don’t think Martha wants to overtax Biles by asking her to compete all 4 in the team final. I think she would rather hedge her bets and take some pressure off Biles by having her sit bars in TF–that’s why Douglas is on the team, and Skinner is bumped down to alternate, and Douglas, Hernandez, and Raisman have to fight it out for that last AA spot. Hernandez will probably get the short end of the stick and have to sit out qual. on UB, even though I like her much more for AA than the others. Raisman’s goal in her comeback was the AA medal she missed out on in 2012.

        I think they should allow countries to send 2 teams. That would be kind of amazing, and put a lot of pressure on a country’s olympic committee to find the proper funding and infrastructure for the sport…

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  8. the comment about it not being a “blind selection process” made me think…that’s actually a great idea 🙂 Don’t let the selection committee watch the competition and just give them the score sheets with no names and get them to pick the team that way! It would certainly be interesting haha

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    • Unlikely unless actual serious injury… The fallout would be too much for them to deal. Would even be worse fallout and image compared to now..

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  9. Make it a point system. Take the top 5 from P&Gs and Trials. Is that fair? Top 5 would be Simone, Laurie, Aly, Gabby, and Madi. Problem solved right? Is everyone happy now? Dang if they do and dang if they don’t.

    In the end someone is always going to be disappointed and heart broken. In this case it’s MyKayla & Ashton. Ragan seems more humble than the both of them. And poor Maggie. My heart breaks for each of them.

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    • You can be upset about not making it while still being humble. MyKayla was more than humble when I talked to her. She was obviously frustrated, as anyone would be, but wasn’t a brat about it either.

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      • Retweeting unpleasant comments about teammates is not being humble. But I think her coach is not a good example for her, as he did the same thing. I think his ignorance of how the selection process works is what had her hopes up so high (see Sabrina Vega). MyKayla needed to peak earlier to make her case, and she simply didn’t. That doesn’t change the fact that she’s a pretty darn good gymnast. She’s an Olympian for goodness sake, something a lot of other gymnast cannot say.

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      • I think skinner was always going to be an alternate and didn’t Martha say that it was a difficult choice between gabby and Ashton? Not skinner?

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    • Actually the top 5 from P&Gs and Trials would have been Simone, Laurie, Aly, Gabby, and Maggie. Madison would have been out. When teams were decided the way you suggest, if you didn’t compete at Nationals, your Trials scores counted double. So you can either double Maggie’s Trials scores, or assume that, had this been the criteria, she would competed 4 events at Nationals and give her the vault and floor average she had at Trials. Either way, Maggie comes out ahead of Maddie.

      But there’s little reality to be found in going with this method anyway, because if all the girls had known that top 5 AA was what it took to make the Olympic Team, they probably would have made adjustments to their weak events, etc.

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      • Maggie would have had to compete all events at Championships in order to contend for a spot at Trials (and be given a “fair” shot). I do think that the selection process is flawed and needs to be tweaked. But I do not disagree with the decision they made. They got it right in the end.

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  10. Who do you think Marta’s going to cut out of all around? Gabby, Laurie or Aly? I actually think that Madison will sit out of beam, floor and vault, and can pull in higher numbers with Laurie as well as being able to rest Simone by sitting Aly, but Aly is so strong AA that I feel like she’ll rather sit out Laurie, or pull a Diana Bulimar and just put Gabby in TF only instead of qualifying.

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    • Something that’s been nagging me today is what they were saying about Aly at Classics….how Martha didn’t want to use her on bars even in qualification…which led me to believe at the time that Aly was out of the AA picture and I picked this exact team based on that. Then she won Classics and came in second at Nationals and third at Trials. I think that threw a monkey wrench in most people’s minds…but for me, Aly hasn’t had consistent AA performances until nationals and trials. She’s had a major miss at every competition starting with Worlds last year. Gabby hadn’t had any major misses until day 2 of nationals and Laurie’s only had two major misses all year (both on bars…once at Jesolo and then again on day 1 of Trials). If you put Simone, Gabby, and Laurie in the AA, the team actually makes sense. Madison does bars and Aly does the other 3 events. MyKayla becomes a factor when you put Aly in the AA because she’s the best 5th person in that scenario…but if you put Aly as a 3 event specialist, Gabby makes the most sense as the 3rd AAer behind Simone and Laurie, with her and Laurie duking it out for the 2nd spot in qualifications. I think Aly has the most difficulty out of the three but her bars scores are pretty crippling and her routines aren’t scored as high internationally. Also, she imploded in qualifications at Worlds so maybe they don’t want to risk that this time around. I don’t think Martha’s favoring experience….I think Gabby’s been more consistent over a longer period of time and I think the international judges are more receptive to her than they are Aly. And Laurie’s proven to be even better than Gabby and more consistent than both imo. Obviously we won’t know until we know, but I don’t think Aly’s getting “shafted” if she gets left out of the AA picture. I do not think that Laurie is going to be kept out of the AA, though. They were scoring her outrageously high at Trials and I think that was for a reason.

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  11. The issue I have with the whole “she gets better as the season goes on” argument is that in neither 2012 nor 2015 was Gabby so lackluster. Sure, she wasn’t at her best in the domestic season in 2015, but she hit more than one beam routine.

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    • yep. everyone is like but 2012! but 2015.! ummm she was on the podium at nationals and won trials in 2012…and she was clearly in the top 3 in 2015.

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      • She was definitely 5th at Nationals in 2015 lol Bailie Key was 4th AA and didn’t even make the team. She wasn’t “clearly” top 3 because a lot of people felt that Maggie should have done AA at Worlds, not Gabby. She has been lackluster at nationals and Trials but she performed well all season and didn’t have a major miss until day 2 of nationals. There’s obviously room for improvement but I can almost guarantee that Martha’s not gonna have her in Rio looking simple.

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  12. …Moving forward and speculating the team’s realistic d-scores. I dont really understand the need for a third Amanar. If we tally the maximum potential overall d-scores in a 3-up-3-count format from 2012 and similarly compare this against the 2016 team, and also taking note that Amanar in this quad has been devalued, this team has a potentially greater d-score because every apparatus, but Vault, has a higher combined DV.

    So in 2012 (max potential) DV were:
    VT – 6.5,6.5,6.5
    UB – 6.4,6.4,6.6
    BB – 6.2,6.5,6.5 (i used Kyla here since Jordyn was never gonna get credited for her connections)
    FX – 6.1,6.1,6.5

    The 2016 team:
    VT – 6.3, 6.3, 5.8
    UB – 6.5, 6.5, 6.7
    BB – 6.5, 6.5, 6.8
    FX – 6.2, 6.6, 6.9

    We see that the 2016 team’s FX is already 1.0 greater than its predecessor. Furthermore, it is 0.3 and 0.6 higher on the UB and BB respectively. So that is an advantage worth of 1.9 across three apparati. On VT, however, this year’s team lags by 1.1 points from that of 2012. Therefore if we put everything into perspective this team is better by 0.8 in difficulty.

    As long as USA polish its execution as much as it could and even fall twice, they will still win gold. China has potentially the second highest score in terms of difficulty but their floor and UB routines attract a lot of deductions which gives USA more cushion for errors. As for Russia and team GB, they are miles away in difficulty that they are not immediate threats for the gold medal.

    I remember how nervous I was watching Gabby on beam and Jordyn on bars in London but they delivered. I hope this will be reflected in Rio as well.

    Lauren– do you think that Laurie has enough time to “perfect” her current 6.5 UB routine or will Marta ask her to water it down for Rio?

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  13. I hope ashton was proud of what she had accomplished . (And was actually even be considered for that last spot). She did everything she could in spite of lots of things beyond her control stacked against her.

    Won’t even have to say anything about skinner that hasn’t been said. I love her attitude and the sassy way she danced off the floor podium!!

    I am glad to see both Ragan and Locklear will be back next yr and can’t wait to see what else they have…

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  14. Lauren,

    I’ve been an avid reader of your site for about a year now and I just wanted to let you know how impressed I am by your thoughtful, unbiased analysis. The sport has desperately needed high quality commentary and coverage–thank you for being the first (and best!) to provide it!

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    • Thank you so much! I appreciate it a ton…I obviously have a lot of personal opinions but I think there needs to be a place to look at all sides of the story and my goal is to always do that!

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  15. I’m curious how this team is going to go up on qualifications. 4 all arounders and 1 event specialist. Putting Madison and Gabby up on bars prevents Laurie or Aly getting a shot at the AA final.

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  16. Just curious, why didn’t gymnasts do two vaults? If MyKayla had shown her Amanar and Cheng would it possibly have made a difference?

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    • No, it wouldn’t have made a difference. Martha already knows what MyKayla can do, and they decided to not do two so they could rest and focus on the rest of the competition since there was no vault medal riding on it here.

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  17. For some reason I was so personally invested in Madison and Aly…. like crying when they were named to the team. I also love Laurie and of course Simone, but I’m just so happy that Madison overcame her injuries and that Aly has had such a great comeback, they seem so nice and I was just so happy all their hard work paid off. Thank you Lauren for your amazing coverage! I watched NBC’s coverage but it was great being able to check in here to see how the 8-10 gymnasts we didn’t get to see full routines for did 🙂 Can’t wait to watch Rio!!

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  18. Lauren–I want to reiterate the compliment by the poster thanking you for your objectivity. I do think it’s great that you also add your opinion because it’s an opinion based on a LOT of knowledge (and also because gymternet!), but you are really good about separating the two.

    I’m glad that you (unlike some of the other journalists) don’t completely buy the story that there is no “business” involved in this decision. I think we just have to ask ourselves, what, exactly, IS that business? If it is building the fan base, then last night did NOT help. It was so frustrating for people to watch and realize that the trials don’t really count for much. That’s illogical to the casual fan. But more important, they are like, why are we watching? Just so NBC can get more money? And that leads to what the business actually is, I believe. NBC pays SO MUCH MONEY for the Olympics, they virtually have to milk the crap out of everything they can. It is pretty much impossible to watch NBC all weekend and see Gabby in several Olympic-related commercials over and over again, and not start hearing in your head, “Things that Make You Go… Hmmm.”

    (Side note: if they wanted to make it look like the decision was just the committee’s, maybe Steve Penny shouldn’t have bee-lined himself into the room 2 secs after the selection group closed the door.)

    I’m not upset that they picked Gabby; I get it, even if it’s not totally my favorite choice. I think and now hope she will shine in Rio. But I’m sick of “the narrative” (and I am now sick of that phrase!). It will be very telling if she gets to go for the AA in quals.

    Finally, thanks also A HUGE TON for planning a second article on the other competitors. I was so murderous when they made that announcement (and freakin’ Trautwig couldn’t even pronounce “Emily” correctly! It was too hard for him to have the words Emily and Amelia in the same sentence) that my husband refused to watch the rest of the show with me. 😉

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    • I agree. Lauren is awesome. Love this blog. The combination of information and opinion is what hard core gym nerds want.

      If she didn’t infuse her opinion into her articles, I’d stop reading because it would be too boring. As long as opinions are informed and not towing the line of the big man, they spark thought and interest.

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    • Yeah, great point. What is “the business of gymnastics?” I know that this sport is valuable to NBC. But are they able to manipulate teams like a reality tv show? Could NBC say to USAG “Gabby is on the team or else we are not covering future Nationals?”

      I hope not.

      But narratives bring in viewers. Viewers bring in money. Money makes USAG the best WAG team in the world. There is a symbiotic relationship between sports and entertainment and money and success. Mostly I’m ok with that. I just wish they were honest about it.

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    • I think the business side is a huge factor in this decision, but I think it’s coming more from endorsements/sponsors (i.e. Barbie, etc). If the athlete paid by these sponsors doesn’t make the team it looks bad/devalues the product and/or ad. NBC can create a storyline out of anything and have had no problem in the past with unknown athletes (I.e. The Kyla/McKayla lifelong friendship). They’ve got a team full of stories without Gabby. I don’t think its media hype- I think it’s corporate sponsors telling USAG they want her on the team since they just made a Gabby Barbie doll, etc. it’s good for business for the sponsors/endorsers to have her on the team. And since Gabby herself admitted she had lost passion for the sport in the SI article, I wonder if it’s Gabby’s motivation too?

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  19. Basically Mckayla got Mirai’d. She performed when it was supposed to count but really it was never going to matter. Did anyone else notice that Gabby’s mom was wearing the same Team USA necklace as the selection committee? Now maybe that was a coincidence but was it also coincidence that Gabby released her Olympic Barbie this morning? I’m kinda grateful for the Gabby drama because it’s taking a lot of heat off Simone.

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  20. Why has the focus on bars been so great this year? In 2012 the US didn’t have a bars specialist and still won the gold; I’ve heard the rationale that bars are more important because they had three amanars in 2012, but if they took Mykayla they would have three amanars (or two amanars and a cheng) again, and beam and floor seem to be at equal or better levels to 2012. Is the bars focus because the amanar isn’t as valuable as it was? Does it have to do with not wanting to make Simone do the all-around in team finals?

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    • I think the 2012 scenario was Maroney–a world class vaulter–and Ross–an internationally liked gymnast and solid UB–together were a package deal. So Kyla Ross wasn’t technically a bar specialist, but she had the aesthetic and clean execution of one. You also had Douglas who contributed a high-scoring bars set. The combination of the 2 bars-oriented gymnasts helped balance bringing Maroney. I might be mis-remembering this, though… The 2016 rendition of this is Kocian as the Maroney, with Hernandez/Raisman as the Ross. With Douglas on the team, though, there are guaranteed 2 high-scoring UB routines (Kocian and Douglas) that can bring up a lower scoring one (Hernandez) in TF.

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  21. Lauren, I just hope ur ad revenue jumps. As OVER this constant Gabby talk (and inability of keyboard thugs to move on w life) I genuinely hope the hard work u put in pays off, esp thru this Oly year summer! Much respect for ur ability to have ur own favs (like ev1 else) but maintaining the ability to think rationally while having a damn clue! Hats off to you!

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  22. Lauren – You’re objectivity in the face of a sport and selection committee that can be subjective is wonderful and should continue to be commended.

    I have never been a Gabby fan…not in 2012 and certainly not now. While I can understand the rationale for choosing her for the team I don’t like it. I hope that she is able to rise like Martha predicts, and if not I hope that Martha and the rest of the coaching staff do the whats best for the team.

    I am truly worried for who will be this years “Jordyn” – and get screwed by the 2 per country rule, because lets face it Simone will win (barring something catastrophic) and then 3 of the remaining girls could easily contend for a medal. It will be heart-wrenching. (wouldn’t it be great if the US could send multiple teams – like if you hit a qualifying score at a worlds/world cup or national meet you automatically get to go..ah one can dream)

    I am excited for your second article. Also, any word if those that didn’t make it are sticking around for 2017?

    I am also curious if you had a chance to speak to any of the athletes parents (or the athletes) about concerns about Zika, I know Gabby had a less then eloquent quote about it, but wondering about the rest of the girls. Especially since hearing that Hollie Vise isn’t going to support her hubby because of it and the recent drop out of athletes from other sports (namely golf and basketball).

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  23. Did Martha really say that the spot was between Gabby and Ashton? If she chose Ashton, the line up for bars in qualification would be Simone, Maddie, Ashton + Aly/Laurie. In that case it would me Martha to chose the 2nd AA (because only 2 can actually make the finals so why put 3 up there, right?)… Saying that it was between Ashton and Gabby makes no sense because in that scenario everyone would choose Ashton. I could possibly deal with just 2 AA qualifiers because of what I wrote above. But Ashton on the team would mean her qualifing into EF possibly with Madison so bigger chance for individual medals… And I’m not even mentioning MyKayla for vault medal…
    I really hope that her choosing Gabby doesnt mean that she’s doing AA… :-/ Plus I know that Martha can get the best of the girls but really, how much you can get someone in better shape in 9-or-what days of camp? In that time they should really just to the final polishing…

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    • She did say that they were thinking either gabby or ashton for that last spot but then said that they couldn’t b/c they would have to put up the suboptimal vt of kocian. A bit ironic b/c most people including lauren thought that Skinner was actually in the running for that spot. Not saying anything but I guess it was easier for her to explain her way out of it since ashton can’t offer anything else aside from bb/ub and it would probably be a little harder to try to explain how skinner is not considered when skinner did rank above gabby and is an AA.

      The point is that like it or not and fair or not, I believe that they had a mindset a long time ago that gabby would do ub in qual at and also would be good enough by her own merit to be running in the AA contests along aly and laurie with equally good scores. I mean, who wouldn’t? How could you not as she did come back and won silver fair and square in 2015 worlds and won AC 2016 with great form? We all thought she was good. I thought she was good. And then for whatever reason, things start to unravel at nationals… They thought she would just shake it off and come back and kill it at trials as well as bringing the amanar back…..And then things just got even worse at trials. Of course it didn’t help that Skinner surprised everyone and killed it! So now they are left sort of in a little disarray….

      Ota, the answer is that Gabby is absolutely doing ub in qual and AA….. As such, like someone who has put it a lot of investment into something, at this point they feel like they have a good chance of still able to work and make that investment becomes good again. Given gabby track record, I say it’s possible but not highly probable as there is just not much time left at all and you can only do so much at this point. I think someone mentioned that it’s most likely that at this point they would just work on getting whatever she has right now consistent and forgoing anything else like amanar and of course that bars upgrade wont come at all…. So without any upgrade, she pretty much needs perfect execution on whatever routines she has right now to challenge laurie and aly. And it’s an uphill battle because gabby’s D score is behind laurie’s by 0.4 and behind aly by 0.7. If she did have the amanar, that would have helped her a lot with that extra 0.5 pt as well as perfectly providing that third amanar that marta (and we all wanted)……

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    • The US will never only put 2 AA up in qual. No team in their right mind would. Any team that have enough depth will put up at least 3 AA. Yes, you can only qualify 2 but you want at least 3 so you can get the best candidate with the highest possible score there.

      And this is what I predict: gabby will be likely 2 per countried out if the current trajectory is not changed.

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      • That was my point – why Martha said it was between Gabby and Ashton when if they chose Ashton it would mean just 2 AA spots? As you said, doest make any sense…
        I know what you wrote about Martha saying that but I cannot still get over that stupid quote 😀 :-/

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      • Exactly! the plan was just to bring one ub specialist all along, b/c otherwise you will have to bench one if you bring both so you can have 3 AA up in qual. Given team usa and marta priority, they would always choose having 3 AA up in qual over having 2 ub specialists in qual with only 2 AA doing qual. It just happened that gabby strong point is also bars so she was supposed to be one of the 3 AA all along and also conveniently would also qualify to bars.

        And then of course that plan just completely unraveled. I mean it’s not a bad plan to start out with….but then for whatever reason, gabby couldn’t deliver on it so far regarding being a good AA (with also an amanar that they want)… So this is now what we are left with…

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    • I think we’ve all been assuming that Aly will be doing AA….but at Classics, Tim Daggett said that they didn’t want to use Aly on bars even in qualifications…which would mean she wouldn’t be doing AA. She said that her fall on bars at Classics wasn’t a big deal because she wasn’t making the team for bars (which she isn’t), but as an AAer, falls on any event WOULD matter and, at that point, Aly hadn’t gotten through 4 events cleanly in one competition since 2015 nationals.

      That being said, if we take Aly out of the AA and look at it that way, the team actually makes sense. If Simone and Laurie are doing AA and Madison and Aly are doing 1 and 3 events respectively, Gabby is actually the next logical choice and “she contributes on bars” is actually good justification for her getting that last spot…Maggie didn’t have an outstanding event, we didn’t need Ragan on beam, and Gabby’s top 3 on bars behind Ashton and Madison but she’s stronger AA than both of them when she hits. Plus she still has the highest international AA total behind Simone this season. Ashton also makes sense in that scenario because if Aly isn’t doing bars at all, Ashton becomes the bars specialist and Madison competes AA. Since they don’t want Madison to have to do vault in qualifications, Gabby makes the most sense. Her being the first reigning Olympic champion to make a second team since Nadia doesn’t hurt her case, either. Also, it explains why Skinner would not have been in the conversation. If Skinner makes the team, Aly has to do bars. I’m thinking that Gabby’s spot was hers to lose after Worlds last year, as was Maggie’s. Maggie got hurt and not having an Amanar took her out of contention. Gabby’s spot definitely became questionable, but I don’t think she faltered ENOUGH to make the selection committee think she wasn’t worth taking. And I’m guessing that Aly’s performances between Worlds and Classics took her out of the AA picture….if it’s true that the 3rd spot was between her and Maggie and Aly got it but didn’t come through…plus she lost to Mustafina in London because of a major mistake on beam and her less-than-impressive bars, maybe they’re not willing to risk it again and they want to give Laurie a chance.

      That’s the only line of reasoning I can think of that works….because if Aly’s doing AA, there’s just no reason to bring Gabby and we all know it. Skinner not even being considered for the 5th spot in that scenario doesn’t make sense and Martha has always made sense before, even if I didn’t agree with some of her decisions.

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    • And I’m also wondering if the idea was actually to keep Aly from even potentially being the second gymnast in the final. She wasn’t supposed to make the final in London, but she did. Maybe they want to ensure that Laurie gets the second spot and, if not her, then Gabby. Or vice versa. As long as it doesn’t go to Aly….also explains gassing Laurie’s scores at Trials. hmm….plot twist, perhaps?

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  24. Going off what I said earlier about loving Aly, everyone should go look at the picture Kim Z instagrammed of Aly and Ragan it’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen!!

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    • Yes that is exactly why aly is my favorite gymnast. She should not have to sit out AA, but if she does you know she will absolutely handle it with grace and support her team. Nobody out works her and nobody gives more to her their teammates. In my mind this and her proven scores all summer mean more than all of Gabbys potential.

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  25. I think that they will bench Aly for qualifications actually. Martha will never put up Laurie In to without seeing how she scores first in quals because in all actuality Laurie is so over scored here I wouldn’t be surprised to see her be the Kyla Ross of this team. Kyla got 15.6+ throughout trials and couldn’t even break 15 at the olympics with a hit routine.

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    • I agree that Laurie was overscored a lot. However, I think Gabby will sit out bars in quals. Aly and Laurie have earned their AA spot.

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  26. Honestly, the thing that makes me the the angriest is that either Aly or Laurie will get deprived of the opportunity to qualify for the AA. Had they taken Ashton the same situation would occur, in that one of them will not get to do bars in qualifying, but it would sting less because Ashton’s bars are higher scoring and gorgeous and consistent. Now, one of the two gymnasts who finished one and two at both Nationals and Trials will have to miss out on this opportunity so that a gymnast who is being given more chance to prove her readiness can have that chance. It is beyond unfair. No one else is given that extra grace period. Maggie Nichols could certainly have used that time to get back into shape but she wasn’t given that chance. And speaking of Maggie, Gabby only qualified to the AA in 2015 because Martha played favorites again, this time with Aly, and then Aly screwed up all of her events. Maggie would have outscored her in qualifying if she had been given the chance. And to really throw back, she got lucky with qualifying in 2012 because of how Jordyn’s beam routine was designed. Yes, she did deliver in the AA competition both times, and I was happy for her and proud of her. But that was then and this is now, and she did not show mental of physical readiness at this time. This time, Aly and and Laurie deserve to try for the AA along with Simone. If Gabby gets to do it, then it is almost as bad as the 1985 worlds substitutions of Shushunova and Omelianchik, or the 1992 replacement of Gustu, and equally as bad as all the times Belu yanked Marinescu in favor of Amanar.
    I completely understand under the new format that you can’t just take the top five AAers. I compare it to picking a basketball team: you wouldn’t pick only centers or only guards. But it does not make sense to take Gabby for bars when she doesn’t add as much as Skinner would with her vaults. And if resting Simone is so important, then why was she, of all people, forced to compete at trials? If anyone deserves to get in on past accomplishments then it is her. If Martha wants the authority to select the team without a trials process (again, similar to basketball) then they need to change the freaking rules for selection and make it very clear how things are going to work. Don’t say things like top 2-3 AA and top three on one or more events. For pity’s sake! And it is crazy that “oh now that I’m on the team I will buckle down and work really hard” is the attitude that Martha is rewarding.
    I certainly hope that after Martha retires that whomever takes over avoids this level of favoritism (preferences are bound to happen since that is human), sends more gymnasts to smaller competitions that aren’t team based to give them the experience that Martha insists they need but then deprives them of, and will do what is in the best interest of the sport and not one particular athlete. I know that money and business are an issue, but this sort of thing DOES NOT happen in other sports (except for figure skating occasionally, which is another sport that suffers from the perception that everything is not kosher). I really hope it is Rhonda Faehn, and not Valeri Liukin, who takes over. Nothing against him personally, but I doubt he could be as partial as I would like the coordinator to be when he owns an elite gym and his daughter is the commentator.
    All grousing aside, what’s done is done, and thinking about what is going to happen will just make us angrier than we already are. I hope Simone got all of her whoopsies out of the way at trials and just comes in and destroys the place. And I hope Laurie will destroy beam in qualifying and in the final and that she stays around for the rest of the quad. On a positive note, Gabby’s VT was much better night two of trials and was better than Laurie’s night one so if she performs that in finals I will be happy. Laurie’s block makes me think she is going to crash every time. Oh, one more thing. Martha said that she decided against Ashton because of the possibility of someone getting hurt. Understandable. But then she said they would have to use Madison’s vault if that happened which would be embarrassing for the US. Really? Her clean FTY would be embarrassing?

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    • Actually in 2015 Gabby was the one who almost didn’t make the Worlds team – Aly placed higher than her at Nationals and in camps that year. So really Maggie got screwed by Gabby being given the chance again and then Aly having an off day. And even so, Martha took 2 bars specialists that year, so really Maggie just got screwed in general with the team makeup. The only year that Gabby has actually been “ready” was 2012 and even then, they almost held her off beam in quals because she had a mental breakdown when they got to London. If Martha follows the same path at 2015, she will leave the newbie out of AA, meaning Laurie. Which is a darn shame because that girl is going to be a star. I would love to see it be Simone, Aly, Laurie and I would be happy with whichever 2 girls made it to finals. And I know Aly and Laurie would both be happy for the other one, genuinely.

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      • Lauren said that the last spot was between Maggie and Aly so where are you getting that it was between Gabby and Maggie from? Scoring higher doesn’t mean you’re in contention for anything, so that can’t be the basis for that conclusion. Bailie Key was 4th at Nationals and ended up being the second alternate to the Worlds team…obviously there are other factors involved in selecting who gets to do what.

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  27. Thank you for all the work you’ve been doing during these trials, Lauren. I always love how professional your articles are, that they address concerns without getting personal. I was in the camp that would have rather had Mykayla make the team, but I can understand USAG’s decision even if I don’t agree with it. I think the biggest disconnect that I hope USAG will be more transparent about, both with its fans and especially with its athletes (because it sounds like some of the athletes don’t get this impression from the system), is that unlike other sports, USAG doesn’t actually want you to peak at trials. They want you to peak a year earlier. The 2015 Worlds camp and competition are when you have to prove to USAG that you’re ready for the upcoming olympics, and I suspect that some of their gymnasts (and maybe coaches) thought that they needed to peak and reach their fullest potential later (i.e. closer to the actual competition). Now, I am not necessarily under the impression that this would have changed anything–I don’t know if Mykayla could have looked the way she did at Trials any earlier, Maggie couldn’t have prevented her injury, and Ashton’s routine was just as clean this time last year (and she still wouldn’t have been able to do vault and floor). But I think it might help with expectations, and the fact that several gymnasts seemed surprised by the decision the selection committee made after Trials suggests a disconnect or a miscommunication. While it is frustrating as a spectator and fan to feel like Trials doesn’t matter and the team is already chosen, it must be exponentially more disappointing as a gymnast to believe that Trials DOES matter, only to realize too late that it doesn’t.

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    • Not sure if I completely agreed with your statement about usag want them to peak in 2015.. unless you mean that as a joke… lol 🙂 but yeah, it would seems like what you say to a lot of people now….

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      • I don’t mean to say peak as in, “You need to be better at Worlds than you will be at the Olympics,” so I guess in that sense I was joking and should have been more clear 🙂 What I should have said is that–my perception of what USAG wants–you need to get to your highest potential for Worlds and then STAY at your highest potential, and you’ll be given a little more of the benefit of the doubt if you don’t. If you’re not on that Worlds team then you’re at a much bigger disadvantage than maybe USAG has let on (then again I don’t know what happens behind closed doors). If you truly do peak at Trials, as Mykayla Skinner did, then it seems Martha will still see you as too much of a risk to put on the Olympic team because you haven’t been that good at any of the competitions prior–which is the definition of peaked, but isn’t the kind of timeline they want to see. So in a sense making that Worlds team (not as an alternate) should be just as high priority as trying to make the Olympics. It seems that Martha for the past two quads has tried as much as possible to take members of the previous year’s Worlds team as the Olympic team (minus new seniors e.g. Kyla and Laurie). If you compete at Worlds, you’re on Martha’s list for the Olympics and the appearance I’m getting is you have to screw up pretty big to be crossed off of it–whereas if you aren’t on that list to begin with you are already at a bigger disadvantage and won’t get the leeway that those other girls will. And if that is the case then I can truly understand that–they want a history of performance that shows you can hit pressure sets when it counts. But in that case it makes it hard for the media to sell that Trials counts in the way that they want it to appear. That’s the perception I get, but of course I’m biased towards my own perceptions just like everyone else. I certainly think this Olympic cycle has been very unique in that I agree that the business side of things is playing a bigger role than ever before for gymnastics, and I think it played a big role this past weekend. Regardless, I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s opinions on this thread, I think every discussion and opinion, even those different from mine, has been a great and valid one (and more importantly, love the civility and respectfulness of this comment thread).

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    • I too think that a few gymnasts truly thought they had a shot – most knew where they stood going in, but I think Mykayla, Maggie, Ashton, and maybe even Ragan thought it was still possible. I don’t believe for a second that it was really Gabby vs. Ashton for that last spot – Martha would never risk putting up only 2 AA in qualifications. Truth is that Gabby is not going for bars. She really isn’t going for anything more than the fact that she is who she is. People want to compare her mistakes at trials to other champions in the past, but you can’t do that because the field this year is so deep. Carly Patterson could fall twice and still be the favorite to win. Gabby shouldn’t have that luxury. Trials mattered exactly none, except maybe for the alternate positions.

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  28. As unfair as the whole selection was, and as little as I like her persona and gymnastics, I just feel terrible for Gabby. Looking at her face, her eyes, her body language at the competition and in interviews, it is painfully obvious that she is depressed. She honestly sounds like she’s about to cry at any moment. She reminds me of Vanessa Atler at the 2000 trials, where she said later that despite all the pressure to compete and perform, “all [she] wanted to do was go home”. Now, for whatever ill-informed reason, Gabby’s on the team, and the pressure just got racheted up even more. I don’t have a good feeling about how this is going to end. I don’t even like her, but I just want her to go home, rest, and find herself outside of gymnastics and reality TV.

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    • This is beautifully written and impressively empathetic. Kudos. I’m coming around to this point of view as well.

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    • I agree it seems like Gabby is not doing well mentally. If she is like this now…how will she be in the bigger spotlight of having to attempt to defend her 2012 title. Seeing that she is likely done with WAG after the games, I worry for her mental health and how she will be able to adjust. Seems like may be USAG and USAOC may want to get her a sport psych ASAP.

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  29. As unfair as the whole selection was, and as little as I like her persona and gymnastics, I just feel terrible for Gabby. Looking at her face, her eyes, her body language at the competition and in interviews, it is painfully obvious that she is depressed. She honestly sounds like she’s about to cry at any moment. She reminds me of Vanessa Atler at the 2000 trials, where she said later that despite all the pressure to compete and perform, “all [she] wanted to do was go home”. Now, for whatever ill-informed reason, Gabby’s on the team, and the pressure just got racheted up even more. I don’t have a good feeling about how this is going to end. I don’t even like her, but I just want her to go home, rest, and find herself outside of gymnastics and reality TV.

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    • I agree with your observations. I think one of the main reasons that most people do not care for Gabby is because of the persona she has out there on the floor. She just looks miserable, unhappy and depressed. She has had more coaching changes than anyone has had in a while in gymnastics. I hope she can find herself after this Olympic games.

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  30. I was a big Gabby fan in 2012 and thought she had a great Olympics. She didn’t really mess up in Quals – she finished 3rd (ahead of the reigning World Champ), and qualified top 8 on bars and beam. That’s not a bad day. She hit 4 for 4 in team finals and in AA finals. By the time EF rolled around, she was probably tired and had bad routines on each, but all in all, to say she didn’t hit at Quals is a little ridiculous. She was 3rd. But because of the dearth of AAers who aren’t from the US, her 2015 comeback story is a little misleading. We all know that Maggie deserved that chance or that if Aly hadn’t fallen off bars, she would have had the 2015 comeback story. It is the same situation in 2016: the 2 US AAers will have a real shot at the podium, no matter if it’s Aly, Laurie or Gabby who gets to try for the 2nd spot. The bottom line is that Gabby can contend for an AA medal – but does she deserve to even try over Aly and Laurie who are more deserving? It killed me at ’15 Worlds when she was deemed 2nd best in the World, but was really only 4th best in her own country earlier in the year. If it weren’t for Simone’s dominance, maybe I’d think of it differently, but Gabby has no realistic shot at defending her AA gold – unless Simone has a meltdown of epic proportions. So this simulated drama of Gabby coming back to defend her gold has no real shot of coming true, they should give the opportunity to the US girls who have earned it – and that’s Laurie and Aly duking it out in Quals for the 2nd US spot.
    As far as Gabby making the team overall, my preference would have been Mykyla because she adds points and adds another potential EF medal. But if US luck is terrible and 2 out of Aly/Laurie/Simone get injuried in Quals, we’ll be happy Gabby is there instead of Mykyla.

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    • It’s true, they need someone who can step up if someone gets injured after the team is set. But Maggie or Mykayla could have brought in similar scores on beam/floor and Simone could fill in on bars in an emergency situation, so it could have worked. Just sad really, but at least gabby will be out of the gymnastics picture after these games.

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  31. Lauren, thank you for the awesome coverage! I love that you have your opinions, but you stay unbiased. I was rooting for all the girls. They are all amazing and have worked so hard. I am happy with the team, even if it’s not my favorite. I really like Gabby’s gymnastics, but I feel bad for her…what is going on?! So much drama. Firing Kittia, her lose of passion, her knee “injury”, needing a father figure…I hate all the excuses. Part of me is totally in her corner and part of me thinks this is ridiculous. What’s your opinion about all the drama?

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  32. The reasons for Gabby’s inclusion can be summed up to three points: Her bars difficulty, her potential versatility and Marta’s faith in her based on her history. Once you explore and take into account all those points Gabby’s spot makes sense even if it doesn’t seem entirely fair or earned. http://theartofgymnastics.blogspot.com/2016/07/and-so-it-ends-or-begins.html

    My personal dream team would have been Simone, Aly, Laurie, Madison and Ragan. I know everyone was pulling for MyKayla to make the team but I think you summed it pretty nicely why she didn’t. Yes, Skinner has been climbing her way up the ladder since 2014. But her real add is on vault only and while that’s valuable, it isn’t vital. The thing I like about Ragan is that she adds a nice floor and beam and a DTY that is better than Laurie’s. She could perform all three in prelims and there would be no Sophie’s choice between Laurie and Aly on bars like there is now with Gabby in the mix.

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  33. What role do the alternates play? Do they stay in the village? Do they receive a team medal? I saw a news article that listed McKayla as 1st alternate.

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    • Alternates train at camp & they go to Rio, but they don’t stay in the village or participate in opening/closing ceremonies. They are sequestered nearby to be called on, if needed, to my knowledge. There’s no such thing as a first alternate. Mykayla gets a spot if they need VT or FX, based on an injury.

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    • Yeah, I just wish that the alt at least got some kind of recognition like at worlds. Maybe they should at least have their names called out if nothing else? They trained as hard as anyone. And in this case, 2 of them actually ranked higher at trials than two of the actual team members.

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  34. Gabby’s selection : “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark”.
    The mix of business, entertainment and favoritism cannot be completely good for an olympic sport.

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  35. So just something to discuss as a break from the controversy. Suddenly aliens came and kidnapped the whole USAG team b/c they were bored with whatever entertainments they had and want the best human tumbler slaves. US has 36 hrs to cough up a team.

    I guess we will start with the 3 already there: skinner, ragan, locklear. (good thing they were housed in separate places… Phewww…)

    To that I will fly in Nichols and Dowell.

    (Qual)/TF
    Vt: (ragan), dowell, nichols, skinner
    ub: (ragan), nichols, dowell, locklear
    bb: (dowell), skinner, nichols, ragan
    fx: (dowell), ragan, skinner, nichols

    TF score using Trials lower scores: 177.7 rounded down to 177 to account for domestic inflation…

    EF
    AA: ragan, nichols, (can also have skinner do AA by replacing ragan bars with skinners)
    VT: skinner (decent medal chance)
    ub: (hopeful qualify dowell), locklear (questionable for medal?)
    bb: ragan (decent medal chance if hit)
    fx: (hopeful qualify skinner, nichols)

    So this team can possibly still pull a gold team if they don’t count any fall and if china doesn’t hit all their routines (given china record, they will likely count at least 1 fall). Podium finishh is still expected from this team if not gold. All in all, not bad for a solid B team! And who knows, they probably can still win a few individual medals 🙂

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  36. (I commented last night but it doesn’t seem to have gone through; apologies if this shows up twice!)

    Why has bars been such a focus in the selection process this year? In 2012, the US didn’t have a bars specialist and still won. I’ve heard the rationale that it’s because there were three amanars in 2012, but with Mykayla there would be three amanars/two amanars and a cheng this year. Is it because the amanar has been devalued? Does it stem from the desire to not make Simone do the all-around in team finals?

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    • Yes, both. Amanar devalued. also resting simone. As well as to give away as little as possible in this rotation to china and Russia. remember how Russia almost erased the us amanar lead with their bars in 2012? China could conceivably do something similar if they hit all their bars routines, although it probably won’t be as close b/c they are not as strong as Russia was on vt..

      in 2012 douglas served as their #1 ub specialist along with kyla and they were both also good AA.. However, US has come a long way since then with regard to bars. They have consistently stayed ahead of russia in bars in team competitions due to being very consistent even if not having the highest difficulty top bars as well as just very slighly below china’s. The US bars depth has significantly increased since and douglas bars is now just 3rd. Hence the rise of the bars specialist this year.

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      • It’s actually crazy that the Amanar was so devalued. They should just take way more deductions from girls who do it poorly. It’s getting devalued again next quad and will only have .4 over the DTY. That’s just ludicrous.

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  37. I don’t know why people keep saying Gabby was a top gymnast all year and Skinner didn’t compete well. Gabby won AA at the American Cup, Skinner won AA at the Glasgow World Cup. Neither competed AA at Classics, but both hit their specialist events.

    At Nationals, Gabby had multiple misses- a significant error on bars, a bad floor routine, and a fall on beam. And the one good routine she had on bars scored the same as Simone’s best bar routine at Nationals.

    Whereas Mykayla only had 1 miss at Nationals, on beam, which was pretty disastrous, but it was only 1 missed routine, which she came back to prove was a fluke by nailing both her routines at Trials. Gabby fell on beam at Nationals and then proved it was a pattern by falling both days at Trials. And Mykayla, unlike Gabby, hit her specialist event both days of Trials and both days of Nationals.

    At Trials, Gabby had 2 beam falls, a bad bars dismount and a lackluster floor, whereas Mykayla outperformed herself on all 8 routines.

    There have only been 3 meets this year where all the top girls competed at the same time. Gabby was the best at Jesolo, and did not perform well at Nationals or Trials. Surely Nationals and Trials should count for more than 1 meet in the spring. And when you take all the meets both girls competed in all year, Mykayla was actually more consistent than Gabby, so I don’t buy the Skinner only competed well at Trials argument. I think it’s just that people remember Gabby’s results better than Skinner’s because Skinner wasn’t on anyone’s radar to make the team for most of the year.

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    • I don’t think anyone at all would think that douglas is in any current shape or form worthy of AA. As much as I hate to admit to myself and I even feel like skinner got the worst of it handed to her, douglas does have things that would fit into the puzzle that you just can’t obtain from skinner and that is namely a 15+ bars as well as the ability to fit into any other 3 rotations with 15 vt and middling 14 on bb and fx. Skinner is great for another ef medal, but we all know that is lower priority on karolyi… As is seen, skinner actually have higher beams score than douglas at trial due to douglas falls but if douglas hits she is capable of higher beam score than skinner.

      US would win the team no matter if it’s douglas or skinner. karolyi wants the most well rounded team with multiple back ups on each and every events. She likes to be able to switch people out between qual and tf if someone meltdown (see jordan bb in 2012, aly vt in 2015, dowell ub 2015 and even douglas bb in 2015,) so in this regard douglas has a little edge over skinner.

      The nuances for these strategic decisions are not easy to explain to the media in a 5 min presentation. Its impossible to explain it to a casual viewer who see this only every 4 yr as well.

      Personally, I think US has enough in them that they should taking mykayla and go for another vt medal. They could absorb the lower bars score in qual and tf and also let both aly and laurie duke it out. But skinner going does carried with it the higher risk of less back up on ub. But I do see the reason why having douglas carries a lower risk…..

      I actually feel sad, annoyed and angry that gabby doesn’t take her training as seriously as she could really be doing. Marta wasn’t lying when she made those comments.

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    • MyKayla won Glasgow with a 56.999 against a weak pool…her best finish all season before Nationals + Trials was a 57.9 at Jesolo (where she lost to Gabby, Laurie, and Aly). Gabby won American Cup with a 60.165 and that’s still the second highest international finish for an American behind Simone. And she won Jesolo with a 59+ score even without performing her full difficulty. Lastly, she didn’t have a fall on beam at nationals. She had a shaky routine on day one and missed a connection on bars, but she definitely didn’t have any falls. She had a major mistake on bars on Day 2 at nationals but she hadn’t had any falls since Worlds qualifications until she fell on beam at Trials. And as “bad” as you say Gabby was, she still beat MyKayla on both days of competition at Nationals even with MyKayla hitting all 4 of her routines on Day 1.

      When people say MyKayla only performed well at Trials, they mean that she only showed that she had more to offer than vault at Trials. She has a ton of difficulty but she always gets nailed on execution and that would be doubly true in Rio. I’m thinking that Aly may not have made the team for AA because if anyone has been inconsistent in the AA it’s her…in which case, she’s actually being viewed as a 3-event specialist and Madison as a bars specialist. You take Simone and Laurie as AAers and the person who makes the most sense as the 3rd AAer is Gabby. MyKayla only came into the picture in our minds because we’ve all been assuming that Aly makes the team for AA…but Tim said at Classics that they don’t want to use Aly on bars in qualifications and Aly said herself that she’s not making the team for bars so a fall there didn’t really matter. Obviously she wants to show consistency and Martha loves gymnasts who CAN do all 4 events, but if you look at it as Aly not making the team to do AA, Gabby being chosen makes sense…as does Ashton being considered because Madison could do AA and Ashton could just do bars, still leaving Aly as a 3-event specialist. If Aly was never making the team to do AA, it makes sense that MyKayla would never have really been in contention to make the team.

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  38. I’m thinking that Aly may not have made the team for AA because if anyone has been inconsistent in the AA it’s her….up until Nationals, she literally hadn’t hit 4 good routines in one competition since before Worlds last year…in which case, she’s actually being viewed as a 3-event specialist and Madison as a bars specialist. You take Simone and Laurie as AAers and the person who makes the most sense as the 3rd AAer is Gabby. MyKayla only came into the picture in our minds because we’ve all been assuming that Aly makes the team for AA…but Tim said at Classics that they don’t want to use Aly on bars in qualifications and Aly said herself that she’s not making the team for bars so a fall there didn’t really matter. Since NBC has been right about everything else, I see no reason why that little tidbit wouldn’t factor in now. Obviously she wants to show consistency and Martha loves gymnasts who CAN do all 4 events, but if you look at it as Aly not making the team to do AA, Gabby being chosen makes sense…as does Ashton being considered because Madison could do AA and Ashton could just do bars, still leaving Aly as a 3-event specialist. If Aly was never making the team to do AA, it makes sense that MyKayla would never have really been in contention to make the team. I’m not saying that Aly shouldn’t do AA and I’d be happy to see her and Laurie duke it out for a spot behind Simone in the final….I’m just saying that everything actually makes sense if that’s the angle Martha’s been viewing all this from.

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    • Plus I seriously think they’re accounting for scoring disparities with Aly. Assuming she can put 4 clean routines together, there’s still no guarantee she comes out on top because she gets nailed on execution by international judges. Sucks but it was definitely an issue at worlds and I’m sure that’s something the selection committee has taken into consideration in all this.

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      • Aly actually was the one in 2012 that scored closest to her domestic scores internationally. She was ahead of Laurie in AA in Pac Rims and Nationals. Head to head, they are 2-2. Aly’s issue at Worlds wasn’t so much scoring disparity as it was mental doubt on her part. I really doubt Martha never viewed Aly was AA. When she no longer wanted Alicia Sacramone to do AA, she told her to drop bars. Martha continues to encourage Aly to do bars. I actually think Martha probably had Simone, Aly, and Gabby in mind to do AA. But now Laurie is making a huge run for it and Gabby dropped off. I think Gabby should sit out, but if she doesn’t, I could see Laurie sitting out AA just because she’s the newbie.

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      • This isn’t 2012, though. She was barely ahead of Laurie at Pac Rims and Laurie hadn’t upgraded her bars yet….and the point was that Aly had a major mistake. If Laurie had been doing her upgraded bars set, she would’ve beaten Aly. And it was a scoring disparity. She hit her BB and FX in TF and both were still super low compared to her domestic scores. She barely broke 14 on BB and she barely broke 15 on FX….she was scored mid to high 15s on FX and high 14s to low 15s on BB. Her scores at Worlds didn’t even come close to that. And I didn’t say that Martha “never” viewed AA as an AAer. Obviously she did if she gave Aly a chance to qualify to the AA at Worlds. I said “never” in reference to the final considerations for the team. If, by Classics, Aly was no longer being considered for the Olympic AA final, then the composition of the team and the gymnasts they were focusing on makes sense. I think as of October 2015, Martha did have Aly, Gabby, and Simone in consideration to do AA. After Worlds, I think that changed to Simone, Gabby, and Maggie….otherwise Martha would’ve had Aly do American Cup. As it were, Maggie was supposed to do Pac Rims, where she would’ve competed head to head against Aly….she was supposed to have her Amanar back by then, too, and I think she would’ve solidified her spot on the team at that point. When Maggie got injured, I think that opened the 3rd spot up again, but Aly messed up again at Pac Rims, whereas Laurie had a strong/consistent showing. Fast forward to Classics, where Laurie upgrades bars and Aly falls on bars. Laurie goes on to have solid showings at nationals and Trials and they think they can get Gabby together. Aly has a good difficulty and her execution has improved, but I don’t think they want to risk her tanking qualifications or coming up short again in the final like she did in London.

        I’d love to see her and Laurie battle it out for the 2nd AA final spot in Rio…I’m just saying what I think is the only line of reasoning that fits this particular group of girls. The team makes perfect sense if Aly doesn’t do AA.

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      • The international vs domestic scoring gap is a big myth. Aly’s E scores at worlds were about .2 higher than her E scores domestically. Her D scores were hammered on beam because she didn’t hit her connections and didn’t get her BHS layout credit.

        Same thing with Kocian on bars and basically all the Americans to be honest. It’s about .2 difference, not like .5 or 1.

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      • She got an 8.55 E at nationals on beam and never broke 8.266 at worlds (so it was closer to a .3 difference in execution) plus she never got full difficulty credit (the difference averaged around .5). I wasn’t referring solely to her execution scores. It’s the same for most people in some way or another but my point was that we don’t know how Aly will score with any level of certainty. Maybe it’s not a huge gap and she does well. Maybe it is a huge gap and Gabby does better. Happened in London (Aly was the national beam champ but scored behind Gabby on beam every time [quals, TF, AA] except the beam final), happened in Glasgow, so it’s not an impossibility in Rio.

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  39. Pingback: Can’t We All Just Get A Long? | JAG GYM Blog

  40. Interested in thoughts on theoretical replacements if each of the members were to get injured at camp.
    If Simone Laurie or Aly goes down – is Mykayla in? She would help on VT and FX and UB would unaffected (unless it’s Laurie who is injured in which case Simone would have to do AA in TF) but beam would be scary – do you put her in over Madison or Gabby? Or is Ragan in for beam coverage and you use Gabbys decent DTY on VT and take a bit of hit on FX with either Ragan or Gabby.

    If Gabby or Madison goes down its presumably only Locklear who would step in.

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    • If Kocian goes down Locklear slides right in. Probably the easiest decision
      If hernandez is down, smith goes in since they need to have that crucial beam score. smith also can cover all other 3 events just like laurie
      if aly or simone goes down, it’s between smith and skinner… This one is a hard choice because do you want to emphasize beam/bars or vt/fx….
      if gabby is down, locklear will probably replace her….

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  41. Legitimate question here: Everyone’s saying “Martha doesn’t actually care about Nationals or Trials when she chooses her team”, so what does she actually care about? When do the athletes have to prove themselves in competition?

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  42. come to think of it, if brenna wasn’t so inconsistent and got back her amanar, she would’ve fit perfectly into this slot providing a 15+ bars and that amanar as well as middling bb and fx

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  43. Great overview, thank you! Part of any Olympic sport is business and money. (Just look at the controversy going on now with Kate Grace) Regardless of whether it is said out loud, the sponsors are part of the decision making process. Those team pics that came out so fast after the team was named were done ages ago, as they had to be. The fluff pieces were done ages ago. Now the follow through has to be done. IMHO Marta cares about winning team gold (we’ll be fine there) and her legacy continuing, and you need money to keep a legacy going. It’s just a smart business decision. Everyone on the team is talented enough to be there.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Wonderful for Laurie. Love her! 😀
    But Gabby shouldn’t have made it, nor Madison. Gabby was such a brat during the trials. Not to mention she fell 2 times on the beam. Maggie should have at least bean an alternate. If they really wanted someone for bars, (and they chose Gabby) they would’ve chosen Regan or at least Ashton Locklear.

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    • …being a brat has literally NO effect on the selection? I don’t understand why you’d rather take Ashton than Madison, either, since Madison is a built in alternate on all four events while Ashton only has two. This has been discussed ad nauseam in the gymnastics community. And Ragan? For bars? Seriously?! She’s great, but the only reason Ragan would go would be for beam and floor. Martha would be insane to take her over Madison, Ashton, or Gabby SOLELY for bars. Honestly, where is this stuff coming from?

      Liked by 1 person

      • People just really love Ragan. Maybe it’s because she’s so little and cute? Not sure, but she’s possibly the most overrated gymnast in the US, and that’s saying something because she’s quite fantastic. But the gym community sometimes seems to act as though she’s the second coming of Simone. I have heard multiple times that Martha should take Ragan for bars. Now, her bars are fantastic compared to the world stage, but only middling for the US. People also kept insisting all year that Ragan was better than Laurie on beam, even though Laurie scored higher on average (even before this summer). Maybe the extra love comes from the fact that Ragan is the only American who truly does a BHS layout?

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        • Thank God some disaster didn’t happen to cause Ragan to make the (real) team. Her FX is just plain embarrassing with its cutesy junior-ness and would have looked so out of place on the Olympic stage.

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  45. Thanks for the post, Laurie!

    On another just-cuase-it’s-interesting note, this seems like one of the older Olympic teams the US has had in quite a while. Maybe not by average age when you throw 2004 in the mix, but with only 1 minor and it seems a bit of an outlier.

    With everyone but Laurie having at least 3 World+Olympic gold medals, it must be one of the most decorated, too.

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    • I would be surprised if it’s not the MOST decorated team like ever in term of the total # of worlds+olympic medals. Simone’s generous collection of world medals does help that out of course…

      The trend of older gymnasts are the products of harder skills that tends to require more body development, somewhat similar to the men side…

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  46. I’m hopeful that Gabby will rise to the occasion in Rio. Honestly, I’m glad to see her going because she inspired my daughter to do gymnastics. In any case, I have total confidence that the Fierce 5 will bring home gold this year. My 6-yr old daughter stars in this tribute video to our team. Hope you enjoy it, if you do please share and subscribe to our family content channel: Boss Bunch. 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_75Ta8k0DqM

    Liked by 1 person

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