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The Numbers Might Surprise You: The Real USA Dream Team?

I’ve done enough venting about the women’s age restrictions over the last few years.  This year, instead of providing my opinions regarding how nonsensical these restrictions are, not to mention how destructive they are for our sport, our fans, and for the world and Olympic aspirations of some of the most talented female athletes in America, I’ve decided to simply provide some interesting facts.


Here are some very curious statistics I noticed regarding the women’s competition at this year’s Visa Championships:


  • More total gymnasts competed in the junior competition than in the senior competition (25 vs. 20)


  • TWICE as many junior gymnasts competed eight full routines compared to senior gymnasts: 24 juniors vs. 12 seniors (didn’t count Chellsie Memmel since she didn’t finish bars on Day 2 and didn’t count Rebecca Bross since she didn’t compete bars on Day 2).


  • If we combined the individual event standings between the juniors and seniors, a junior gymnast would have had the top score on three out of the four events, including the top TWO scores on beam.  They also would have had at least one gymnast in the top three on all four events.


  • If we combined the all-around standings between the juniors and seniors, the juniors would have had three of the top four all-arounders, and five of the top ten all-arounders.


  • The top three all-around scores among the junior gymnasts totaled nearly three points higher than the top three all-around scores among the senior gymnasts (353.9 vs. 351.05).  If we count the top SIX all-arounders in each group, this difference increases to over five-and-a-half points (692.65 vs. 687.1).


  • If we combined the all-around and event results between the juniors and seniors, the hypothetical world team that would have likely resulted would have included three juniors and three seniors.



Let’s take a look at what the hypothetical event and all-around results would have been had the juniors and seniors been combined (top six on each event and top ten all-arounders shown; junior gymnasts listed in bold):




1.  Jordyn Wieber 31.80
2.  McKayla Maroney 31.75
3.  Lexie Priessman 31.55
3.  Alicia Sacramone 31.55
5.  Mykayla Skinner 30.45
6.  Aly Raisman 30.15



1.  Katelyn Ohashi 30.15
2.  Jordyn Wieber 29.75
3.  Mackenzie Caquatto 29.70
4.  Kyla Ross 29.60
5.  Anna Li 29.45
5.  Gabrielle Douglas 29.45



1.  Katelyn Ohashi 31.05
2.  Kyla Ross 30.45
3.  Alicia Sacramone 30.10
4.  Chellsie Memmel 30.00
5.  Jordyn Wieber 29.90
6.  Shawn Johnson 29.40



1.  Katelyn Ohashi 30.05
2.  Jordyn Wieber 29.90
3.  Rebecca Bross 29.50
4.  Lexie Priessman 29.15
4.  Aly Raisman 29.15
6.  Sarah Finnegan 29.10



1.  Jordyn Wieber 121.30
2.  Katelyn Ohashi 120.95
3.  Kyla Ross 117.65
4.  Sarah Finnegan 115.30
5.  McKayla Maroney 115.15
6.  Lexie Priessman 115.10
7.  Aly Raisman 114.60
8.  Mackenzie Caquatto 112.50
9.  Sabrina Vega 112.05
9.  Amelia Hundley 112.05


If we were to have made a “Dream Team” for the world championships from these results, we would have likely come up with something like this:


USA Hypothetical “Dream Team”

Jordyn Wieber

McKayla Maroney

Alicia Sacramone

Katelyn Ohashi

Kyla Ross

Lexie Priessman



Aly Raisman

Mackenzie Caquatto


This team would literally include the top three scorers on every event except for one – Mackenzie Caquatto, who would have been third on bars but would have likely been replaced by Kyla Ross, who scored just one tenth lower but was also second on beam.  Note Rebecca Bross was third on floor but obviously couldn’t be used due to injury.  Lexie Priessman, the next highest scorer on floor, would be the logical replacement, particularly considering Priessman also tied for third on vault.


Of course we could begin theorizing what kind of team Russia and China could come up with if allowed to use junior gymnasts, but I would feel quite confident in saying that this American Dream Team would dominate them, largely due to vault.  Note this team would have FOUR of the best Amanars in the world as well as a laid-out rudi from Sacramone, while a combined team from Russia or China would have nowhere near this kind of vaulting arsenal.


I believe these facts speak for themselves, but I wanted to leave this topic with just a few rhetorical questions:


  • If gymnasts under age 16 aren’t “mentally ready” for big-time competition, why are they outscoring their elder counterparts?


  • Aren’t the world championships, by definition, supposed to represent the very best gymnasts a country has to offer?


  • If more total gymnasts are participating and twice as many gymnasts competing in the all-around in the junior division compared to the senior division, doesn’t this suggest something about when the gymnasts are peaking in terms of physical ability and health?


  • If the junior gymnasts, as a group, are showing greater scoring potential and depth than the senior gymnasts, doesn’t this provide further evidence that the cutoff age is simply off the mark?


  • If the total number of all-arounders between the juniors and seniors was just 36 and the total participants just 45 (which could easily be adjusted if necessary), wouldn’t it make sense to simply combine them into one incredible elite competition, and leave “junior gymnastics” to the Junior Olympic Nationals?




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  1. Anon September 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    While I see where you’re coming from, I still agree with the age rules. Not to mention, you can’t really look at US scoring since it’s not the same as international scoring. It’s higher so that skews the numbers a bit

  2. Tmoney September 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    I beg to differ: I believe international judging favors non us athletes. For example komovas beam, at the; Ghent cup was way overscored.

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  4. TC September 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    Totally agree with you Andy. Where are the much better older girls that FIG keeps telling us about? At the Visa championships most of the older girls either did not or could not finish on all 4 apparatus over the two days. Even internationally so many of the kids are all beat up and broken down by the time they hit 17 or 18, while the healthy juniors are sitting at home twiddling their thumbs.

    To continually be told how physically and mentally damaging the sport is to the junior athletes while at every turn there is ample evidence to the contrary is at best perplexing. The routine “maturity” that apparently comes with age was not very apparent to myself at the Visa championships. You would think that our little dancing superstar Shawn would knock our socks off with some electrifying dancing but at least this spectator saw no evidence of it. Actually the only visible thing that she (and in retrospect historically speaking many older gymnasts) brought to the meet was some extra weight. Hardly the “new” Shawn Johnson that we have been waiting for with bated breath as we head toward the Olympics. It seems at least to me that the old version was so much better.

    Too bad that by the time 2016 rolls around we will be sitting here again reminiscing about how great the eligible kids used to look when they were junior age.

  5. Ra September 19, 2011 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    Ohashi was overscored the entire competition. Her DTY is horrible. Her floor is sloppy. Her bars are a mess especially her dismount.

    I love that when Kyla Ross competes OUTSIDE the US she scores as well as Kaitlyn 0n bars.

    The judges in the junior session is different then the seniors. That itself proves your opinion is meaningless.

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