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After losing multiple world medalist Rebecca Bross, struggling through the most disastrous national championships we’ve ever seen, and selecting five world championship rookies for its seven-member squad, could the USA women really still be the favorites for the world team title in Tokyo?  The numbers say yes.

 

Below are some number-crazy charts that summarize the D-scores of the Big Four women’s teams (Russia, USA, China, and Romania) at both the worlds in Rotterdam last year as well as the upcoming worlds in Tokyo…considering the 3-up-3-count team finals.  It should be noted that these scores aren’t perfectly accurate, and in fact it would be nearly impossible to make them so.  D-scores change when certain skills are missed or not given credit, and of course gymnasts change their routines unpredictably from time to time.  But these numbers are simply the best reflection I could get of what each gymnast’s “intended” D-score was last year and will be this year.

 

Obviously I had to guess which gymnasts would be used in team finals this year, but in most instances this is quite easy to predict.  I also made the following assumptions:

 

  • That Huang Qiushuang would remain the Chinese alternate
  • That Sabrina Vega would be the American alternate
  • That Alyona Polyan would be the Russian alternate
  • That Russia would compete two Amanars (Paseka and Nabieva; did not assume that Komova would compete an Amanar)
  • That Catalina Ponor would compete for Romania (used her on beam and floor)

 

 

D-Score Analysis of The Big Four Women’s Teams in 2010 and 2011

 

RUS

USA

CHN

ROM

2010

2011

2010

2011

2010

2011

2010

2011

Vault

18.8

18.8

17.9

19.3

17.4

17.4

17.4

17.4

Bars

18.9

19.4

18.6

19.4

20.9

21.0

17.5

18.4

Beam

18.3

18.7

18.7

18.5

18.6

19.3

17.8

19.0

Floor

17.3

18.0

17.8

18.2

17.0

17.5

17.4

17.6

Total

73.3

74.9

73.0

75.4

73.9

75.2

70.1

72.4

 

 

Ranking The Big Four Based On D-Scores 2010

 

Team

Total D-Score

Final Team Score

Estimated E-Score Average

1.  China

73.9

174.781

8.406

2.  Russia

73.3

175.397

8.508

3.  USA

73.0

175.196

8.516

4.  Romania

70.1

173.096

8.583

 

 

Ranking The Big Four Based On D-Scores 2011

 

Team

Total D-Score

Final Team Score

Estimated E-Score Average

1.  USA

75.4

?

?

2.  China

75.2

?

?

3.  Russia

74.9

?

?

4.  Romania

72.4

?

?

 

What does this all mean?  First of all, it means that the 2010 world championships was actually China’s to lose, given they had the highest D-score total of any team.  They suffered two falls on bars and one on beam, which dropped them to third place.  It also means that 4th place Romania actually had the highest execution total of any of these teams at worlds last year.  Most wouldn’t have guessed that this team, which was clearly outclassed in terms of difficulty by the other three, in many ways outperformed all of them.  Had it been an old code of points in which practically all gymnasts started from a 10.0, Romania would have won!

 

These numbers also tell us that this year, the USA appears to be entering the world championships with the highest total D-score of any team – just a couple of tenths ahead of China, about five tenths ahead of Russia, and about three points ahead of Romania.  Even without Rebecca Bross, the USA has improved its difficulty on every event except for beam (where Bross brought quite a large D-score), due in large part to two new Amanars on vault, three new big D-scores on bars, and Jordyn Wieber’s high D-scores on every event.

 

China will likely have nearly identical D-scores on vault and bars as last year, but should bring a few more tenths on beam and floor, due to the addition of Tan Sixin and Wu Liufang on beam, Yao Jinnan on floor, and Sui Lu’s slight upgrades on floor.

 

Even without Mustafina, Russia has still gained about a point and a half in total D-score, due mostly to Anna Dementieva’s improvements in difficulty on several events.  Viktoria Komova essentially replaces Mustafina on bars and beam, but Dementieva’s increased D-score on bars, beam, and floor will help keep this team within just a few tenths of the USA and China.  It should be noted that I assumed Russia would have two Amanars in the team finals (Paseka and Nabieva), as I supposed that Komova would not yet be ready to compete hers again.  If all three were to compete an Amanar, this would boost Russia’s total D-score ahead of both the USA and China.  Overall, it looks like it will be incredibly tight between these three teams!

 

Finally, Romania had a similar boost in difficulty as the USA had – at least two points over its Rotterdam total.  This came primarily from improved D-scores on both bars and beam from several gymnasts, as well as the addition of Catalina Ponor’s big beam and floor scores.  Although Romania’s D-score is still about two-and-a-half to three points behind these top three teams, keep in mind this team had the best execution of any team at worlds last year and is likely to have even better execution this year.  Two tenths per gymnast across 12 routines = 2.4, and three tenths per gymnast across 12 routines = 3.6.  Although it appears this team trails quite a ways behind the top three, I still wouldn’t count them out for a medal.