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Off the top of my head…

I’m still in awe over Vanessa Zamarripa’s vault.  She unquestionably has the best laid out Podkopayeva ever done.  Not only could she definitely throw a full twist in there, but it would be bigger and better than Cheng Fei’s.  If she throws it and makes it at nationals, she should absolutely be considered for the world team.  If she doesn’t, there’s no chance.

It might sound a little crazy, but it wouldn’t be out of the question to consider her for bars for the world team.  She may only have a 5.3 D-score, but with her execution (9.25 here), think how safe of a choice she could be.  And of course she may be able to add in a couple of upgrades.  I absolutely loved her Deltchev!  She has great form, great pirouettes, and best of all, great casts handstands.  How many gymnasts can we say that about?

Sacramone is now a lock for the world team.  It almost looked like she traded in her 2008 body and bought a brand new one!  She was slim, fit, quick, clean, sharp, and powerful…MUCH more so than in Beijing.  Winning vault and beam was more than she could ever asked for at this competition…unless something dramatic happens between now and nationals, I would say that she, Bridget Sloan, and Rebecca Bross have all but stamped their tickets.

What were Aly Raisman and Mihai Brestyan THINKING throwing that vault???  She trotted down the runway like she was going to do a simple Yurchenko full!  I know that sometimes your block can be just a little off, but seriously?  Are you going to tell me she actually MADE some of those in practice that week?  I believe they were probably good at camp as Tim alluded to, but I would have a hard time believing she stood one of those up in Chicago.  That was stupid, scary, and VERY costly…it cost her the all-around title and her entire image heading into nationals.

It also looked like Raisman was a little lost in her twisting in Chicago…it’s strange to see a girl who has competed a THREE-AND-A-HALF on floor actually UNDERROTATED a triple full.  I was very happy to see her throw the piked double Arabian, as her prior tumbling was too weak for her capabilities, and she does that 1 ½ to double Arabian VERY well.  That triple full has kind of screwed up her routine all year because she can’t land it well…may be time to consider another pass instead.

Final thought about Raisman…it was great to see her actually throw upgrades into ALL FOUR of her routines.  Perhaps that’s why she threw the vault…she figured she was upgrading everything else and didn’t want to leave vault out.  She’s still got a good shot at the world team, but with Sacramone’s thunderous emergence and Kytra Hunter’s out-of-this-world floor routine and super vault, her spot is by no means guaranteed.

Speaking of Kytra Hunter….WOW!  So many people seemed to have written her off in the past month or two, but I’d say she shut them right up with that performance.  I could care less about her missing bars…not only did she show one of the best floor routines in the world and an awesome DTY, but she nailed beam in the final rotation with one of the highest D-scores.  I wasn’t a fan of her floor choreography earlier this year, but I must say it did grow on me a little and she actually looked much less awkward dancing through that routine at this competition.  If it were me, I’d have her on the world team.  She brings a guaranteed strong vault score, possibly our best floor score, and a solid backup option for beam.

Bross’s bars is legit, but I think it’s time for a new beam dismount.  That double Arabian scares the you-know-what out of me, and it’s probably starting to do the same for her and her coach.  I’ve seen her rush it, miss her foot, go really crooked, almost blow out a knee, and now completely miss her set and fall short.  She should simply do what NO ONE seems to do anymore…DO A DOUBLE TUCK AND STICK IT.

Sloan did what she needed to do…hit bars and beam and show that she is still in shape, has added a couple of new skills since worlds, and that she can still compete.  I LOVE the toe-on piked Tcatchev to Pak, but will someone PLEASE tell me why she still does that stupid combination on the low bar?  Overall the routine is MUCH better than it was, but she’s STILL capable of more.  A bar worker as good as she is shouldn’t be counting two C-skills like that, and that toe-on going forwards just looks silly.  It pretty much requires you to jump off the bar and looks like a cheesy skill, not to mention the fact it has messed up her routine twice now!  Kristen Maloney used to do that skill and it looked ridiculous.  Take that out!

Mattie Larson was AWESOME, just as she has always been.  It was great to see her confident beam set (minus the dismount), the gorgeous new double layout on floor, and an improved bar routine.  She’s got a strong chance at the world team, but I’m not totally convinced it will happen yet.  I’d like to see her take that double pike out of the floor routine…she had plenty of trouble with that back in 2008 and obviously still doesn’t nail it consistently.  I’d like to see her do the Arabian double front for the second pass and put the triple full at the end.  Keep the 2 ½ to front layout…she has one of the best ones around.

I hate to say it, but Sammy Shapiro is the Hollie Vise of this quadrennial…the bars and beam specialist who gets injured frequently and won’t let go of floor and vault.  Although Hollie did finally ditch floor and vault in 2004, it happened a little too late.  Perhaps Sammy should learn from that and from these injuries she keeps sustaining and go ahead and start focusing on the events where we need her – bars and beam.  If Sammy could just focus on becoming the best bar worker we have, she’ll be so valuable that nothing else she does will even matter.  What WILL matter is if she can stay healthy, and right now floor and vault are seriously jeopardizing her entire career.

It was neat – and quite surprising – to see Whitcomb and Jetter leading the competition after three events.  Seeing them both choke on beam a bit probably doesn’t help their reputations much, unfortunately.  Although Whitcomb does have one of our highest D-scores on bars with a 5.9, I’m not convinced she should make our world team because of it.  There’s something about her handstand position that looks a little awkward, and she puts that Gienger close to the bar quite often.  It’s a possibility, but I see her as claiming an alternate spot right now.  On another note, she reminds me a lot of Rachel Tidd.  And although Jetter surprised many by placing 2nd all-around, it’s important to note her highest individual event placing was 5th…and that was on vault, where we have plenty of strong contenders.

I think Mackenzie Caquatto has a better shot than Whitcomb at making that world team.  I LOVE her bar routine – so dynamic, exciting, aggressive, and clean.  That routine was smokin’, and her 15.05 puts her RIGHT in the thick of things.  If she can hit that routine both days at nationals, I say we put her on.  We just have no depth on bars right now, and she may well be the best filler we have.

I’m sorry, but Tasha Schwikert is NOT a commentator.  Occasionally she’ll throw out a meaningful comment, but they’re few and far between.  Watching her try to talk live to the camera is downright painful…that little bit where she said Sacramone was ready to “kick some butt” and where she could hardly think of the name of the competition was difficult to bear.  I’m afraid she needs to do some serious practice before talking on camera like that next time.

The only thing that might have been more awkward was watching her and Tim Daggett try to interact on camera…YIKES! I felt so proud of Tasha when she successfully named all members of the 2000 Olympic squad (I thought FOR SURE she would leave someone out), and then Tim goes and names Elise Ray again after Tasha already named her?  What the heck was that all about?  Sorry guys, that team didn’t work this time.  Alicia is pretty awesome though…very honest and engaging to listen to…too bad she won’t be able to keep commentating while she’s competing!

Chelsea Davis wasn’t shown at all, but I did see her bars and beam and both were pretty good.  If she had a few more tenths on bars, she may be in the running, but I’m not sure it’s enough for now…she had a 5.6, 14.55 score, which tied her with Zamarripa for 5th on the event.  She’s such a solid competitor, though, that it wouldn’t surprise me if Marta still continues to watch her closely at nationals.  She seems like she’d be a great team player and a reliable asset…but not quite sure where she fits in unless she beefs up bars a little more.