So. That was a hell of an Olympic Trials, wasn’t it?
The Olympic Team is, as predicted by everyone on the planet:
no surprises til you get to the alternates, who are:
There isn’t a ton to say about the Fab Five. I think the TF line up remains the same: vault will be Weiber, Douglas/Raisman, Maroney, ub will be Weiber, Ross, Douglas, bb will be Ross, Raisman, Weiber, fx will be Douglas/Maroney, Raisman, Weiber. McKayla will win vault gold, of course. I except both Gabby and Jordyn to challenge for the AA title. I would also not be surprised to see a certain Gabby qualify to UB finals and for Aly to qualify to floor finals. Weiber is also a possibility for floor and/or beam.
The surprise is the alternates. I think everyone knew Price would be named, as she can fill in beautifully on vault and floor and possibly beam. Finnegan isn’t a huge surprise either, she’s a lovely worker. Of course she trains with the Fongs, so her chances of remaining healthy are not what I’d call large.
The real surprise is Anna Li. She has an incredible bar routine and I am tremendously glad that she made it–but I think that the only reason she did is because Nastia and Becca both went down. Still, this is fantastic for Anna and for the sport. It’s great to have athletes go back to elite–or go elite in the first place–after college and actually have some success.
Aside from the naming of the team, the big story from Trials was saying goodbye. We said goodbye:
To Alicia Sacramone. I think many were surprised that she did not make the team at least as an alternate, and I’ve heard it said that its a slap in the face. I must disagree; Alicia had her chance at Olympic glory. I am genuinely sorry–for real–that her O’s experience was not all she wanted. But she did have her chance. And she is also a world champion on vault, which of course no one will ever be able to take away from her. Alicia not swinging bars OR competing floor really did not help her case.
But Alicia went out with a bang; a beautiful, sky high, stuck DTY. What a great way to end a career.
Then there was one Nastia Luikin. Now, Nastia apparently decided to really come back about 8 months ago, and it just wasn’t enough time. Not even close. Over the course of Classics, Nationals and Trials, she never managed to get up her endurance enough to doa full bar routine with dismount. Either she did a routine plus dismount with mistakes and extremely heavy spotting or she did an OK interior and a layout off. It is insulting that she made it through to Nationals and Chellsie Memmel did not, although this isnt really Nastia’s fault. Anyway, she fell on her Geinger on bars Night 2–a skill I think she has missed once in her career–and to her credit, got back up, finished the routine and then hit a beam routine. And then we said goodbye to Nastia, too. Although she was never my favorite gymnast, you cannot deny that she was one of the best there has ever been, and we will miss her.
Of course we said goodbye to Bridget Sloan before the competition really started, when she sprained her elbow during podium training. I alkways really liked Bridget; she often seemed to just come out of nowhere and kick some ass. She is a World Champion as well as an Olympic silver medalist, and she helped the team in Bejiing with a terrific DTY in TFs. We will miss Bridget, too.
By far the saddest, though, was Becca Bross. You guys know how I feel about Becca. I hate Valeri. I think he’s an asshole who has, consciously or not (probably the latter) been sabotaging Becca. She is one of the saddest stories I’ve ever seen in this very tough sport replete with sad stories. As far as I can tell, Becca has been fairly miserable for years, especially after her mishandled injury–which was caused by bad coaching. (see my post here). At Trials, Becca fell three times on her bars. Becca used to be a rock solid competitor on all four events and even recently as she has been screwing up beam she has been hitting the hell out of bars. But not at Trials. She peeled off. She peeled off again. Finally she came off on her Pak, and Valeri told her to just salute and be done. It was heartbreaking. She went out well in the end–for the first time in quite awhile she hit her dismount–but really and truly, Becca’s story is just devastating. In my fantasy world Becca goes to a coach with a heart–I want her with Chow–and wins 2013 Worlds as a fuck you to Valeri; but whatever happens, I hope very, very much that Becca finds something that makes her happy. She deserves it.
So. It was an exciting couple of days. We have a team that will definitely challenge for gold. We have three solid alternates. And we have a lot of gymnasts to say goodbye to.
all photographs copyright Vanessa SV Steck. Do not reproduce without permission.
Best Comeback: Alicia Sacramone, who won vault and did quite well on beam. I STILL don’t think there’s a place for her on the team–we have lots of vaulters and even lots of beamers, and I’m not sure Marta would put her back on beam in TF again–but still, she did a great job.
Most Mediocre Comeback: Bridget Sloan. I LOVE Sloan, but she hit the hell out of two bar routines and then did vault, floor and beam routines that were…eh.
Worst Comeback: Nastia Luikin. Look, Nastia is one of the all time greats. No one can ever take that away from her. But after flubbing 3 out of 4 routines this weekend–including not managing to put together a full bar routine–she should be done. She got a pass to Trials. I’m calling foul. Which brings me to
Biggest Hypocrite: Marta Karolyi. Duh. She tells some gymnasts that specialists need to be amazing, and also is apparently telling Nastia that she has time. It’s one or the other, bitch. It’s total bullshit that Nastia made it to Trials.
Biggest Case for Putting Her in All Events in TF: Jordyn Weiber, who hit bars very, very well both nights.
Biggest Case for Putting Her in Floor in TF: Gabby Douglas, that was a fantastic routine.
Most Rock Solid, and All of You Haters Can’t Change That: Aly Raisman, who is admittedly kinda awful on bars, but is so fucking steady EVERYWHERE. and her floor is unreal.
Saddest Non Serious Injury: McKayla Maroney, who crashed a 3.5 twist to her back and ended up with a concussion and a fractured nose. Shouldn’t keep her from London, and Marta better take her. That vault is the best in the world, maybe ever. It’s always sad when we don’t get to see her Amanar, but that seems like a total fluke on floor.
Saddest Beam Routine: Gabby. DO NOT FALL. I need her to compete AA in prelims, make AA finals, and WIN. GET YOUR HEAD TOGETHER GABS. My favorite gymnasts tend to be the ones who can go up there and just make that beam their bitch.
Highest Flying Releases: Gabby, again, that routine is amazing.
Most Cemented Spot: Kyla Ross. I still find her gymnastics oddly unexciting, but I think that unless something really unexpected happens she’s on it. She’s consistent, clean, and as Tim and Elfie kept reminding us, Marta loves her.
Creepiest Coach: Al Fong. It’s always, always, always Al Fong.
Coach Who is Obviously Putting His Daughter in Front of Other Athletes: Valeri Luikin.
Craziest Bar Routine that They Didnt Even Bother Showing: Anna Li, who hit a HUGE 6.9 routine!
Seriously Bullshit: Nastia makes Trials, and I LIKE Nastia.
Saddest Performance; Becca Bross, beam. I like Becca and I think between injury and overbearing coach/parents and that goddamn dismount she is just a mess. She needs to retire and go on vacation. Somewhere where she is of legal drinking age and there is a swim up bar.
So…based on this, my team is:
Raisman, Ross, Weiber, Maroney, Douglas
VT: Douglas/Raisman, Weiber, Maroney
UB: Weiber, Ross, Douglas
BB: Ross, Weiber, Raisman
FX: Weiber, Raisman, Douglas
Hell of a team.
IF Maroney is hurt to the extent that she can’t compete, then I think that opens the door for Price, who can cover vault very well, or Sacramone, who can do the same. Otherwise I’d say those 2, along with Sloan, are alternates.