Though I can certainly still envision several scenarios for this year’s women’s world team, there are six gymnasts who I feel have proven themselves the most over the past year, and based on the U.S. Classic and Visa Championships, I’d have to make them my team. This team may not be the six that Martha picks, and it may not be the six that many fans would pick. But to me, it makes the most sense because I feel these gymnasts have earned their world spots the most. And I think the event scenarios work as well or better than any team I could come up with. My six are:
I know this team doesn’t include a bars specialist. But the more I think about it, I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense to put a bars specialist in there; in fact, I’m not even really sure we really have a bars specialist.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s entirely possible that Mackenzie Caquatto, Chelsea Davis, Cassie Whitcomb, or even Samantha Shapiro could end up on this team if they are rocking bars at these selection camps – probably in place of either Kytra Hunter or Bridget Sloan, depending on Bridget’s health status. But the truth of the matter is, I think this team works very well without them, and I’m not sure that any of those other four gymnasts would actually add more than potentially a couple of tenths to the team even with a hit bars set. Let’s look a possible team finals lineup with my team to see what I mean:
Sloan or Raisman
Rasiman or Bross
Before we freak out about not having a bars specialist, let’s look at what we have. We have six girls who all have a DTY or better on vault. We have 6 girls who could realistically be put up on beam, and five girls who could realistically compete floor (Sacramone isn’t doing floor yet), and on bars…well, Bross and Sloan are our two best, and Larson is just about as good as any “bars specialist” we would put in anyway. We could possibly squeeze just a few tenths more on bars out of Caquatto, Shapiro, or Whitcomb (maybe a couple out of Davis), but I think this team more than makes up for that by keeping our most powerful tumblers and vaulters in there.
And besides, I’m afraid to say that the chances are quite high that at least one of our girls will sustain an injury to her leg, knee, ankle, foot, etc. – something that will keep her from being able to compete on floor and/or vault. We’ve been blind-sided twice now at the last two Olympic Games by getting girls injured and not having enough backup for team finals on floor. Well maybe it’s time we learned from that and put a couple of extra girls in who could put up big numbers on that event. Let’s face it…none of those four bars specialists are going to be able to contribute on any other event, whereas all six of the girls on my team can contribute on multiple events. It might make more sense to take our chances with Larson on bars and have more options to use on the other three events where injuries are more likely to be an issue, rather than take our chances with a bars specialist who might only bring two or three tenths – if she hits under pressure.