Well maybe I should have kept my mouth shut.
It seems that nearly every routine I highlighted as one of the most important for the selection of the world team ended in a fall or near-fall in tonight’s competition. There were definitely some positive notes as well…Larson’s floor routine was one of the best ever done, and Bross, Hunter, and Raisman were all solid. But It was as if several of the girls in contention for the world team could really sense what was on the line, and succumbed to the pressure. Let’s check our top ten list and see:
Mattie Larson’s beam: Started off as the best beam routine of the night, then had a large wobble and near fall.
Mackenzie Caquatto’s bars: Silly, silly fall – what the heck happened there?
Vanessa Zamarripa’s vault: Down to the knees…too bad. Must have lost the full point, as she scored a 14.3 out of 16.5.
Kytra Hunter’s floor: SOLID; loved the smile throughout the routine.
Aly Raisman’s beam: Large error on her tour je te half, though the rest was very solid. I think that’s a poor skill choice for her given she has trouble with hitting full splits on basic leaps.
Mattie Larson’s bars: Hit routine but missed a couple of connections (she seems too cautious with connecting that endo pirouette to the Shaposhnikova).
Kytra Hunter’s beam: SOLID
Aly Raisman’s floor: Strong routine, although I hate the double tuck!
Chelsea Davis’s bars: Disastrous fall…totally shocked at that one.
Cassie Whitcomb’s bars: Hit routine, finished 2nd on bars overall
So what does this all mean? Well, it’s very important to keep in mind that there is one BIG difference between the men’s and women’s world team selection processes. The men’s selection was based solely on the Visa Championships, and in fact the team was already announced today. The women’s selection, as has been the case for the past several years, will be primarily based on the mysterious selection camps that will follow in the next few weeks, and none of which we’ll ever see. Very close to the worlds in October, we’ll receive word of which girls have been named to the world team. It may or may not be the girls who were at their best at the Visa Championships.
For a point of reference regarding the women’s selection procedures and how much (or little) the competitions actually matter, let’s go back to 2008. Bridget Sloan fell all over the place at the Olympic Trials but performed well during the camps, and she was named to her first Olympic team. Jana Bieger, on the other hand, hit solidly at Trials and then fell on bars during the camp…and she essentially lost her spot.
It’s Martha’s selection camps that matter most. For this reason, I can’t say that anyone is officially “out” of contention because of a fall in tonight’s competition. But we can certainly make suggestions on where things stand at this point.
After tonight’s competition, here’s how I see the chances of the top contenders for the world team:
1. Rebecca Bross: Lock
2. Alicia Sacramone: Lock
3. Bridget Sloan: Likely a spot if she gets healthy, but no guarantee as of now
4. Mattie Larson: Very likely
5. Aly Raisman: Very strong chance
6. Kytra Hunter: Very strong chance
7. Mackenzie Caquatto: Still in contention
8. Cassie Whitcomb: Still in contention
9. Vanessa Zamarripa: Chances dropped but still an outside shot
10. Chelsea Davis: Chances dropped considerably
11. Samantha Shapiro: Doubtful but not impossible if she looks awesome at camps