I think that is the only way to describe what the United States women’s gymnastics team did today.
The girls were the favorites going in, but we all knew that Russia and possibly Romania/China could fight them for it. However the US did qualify in first, and they have been close to unbeatable this quad.
But we also knew there were some issues. Jordyn Weiber, as we know, missed out on an AA berth. McKayla Maroney was competing on a reinjured broken toe and coming off a concussion and nasal fracture at Nationals. Gabby Douglas would be on beam, where she not infrequently falls. What would happen when the pressure was really on, in an unforgiving three up three count format?
The US started on vault, and holy shit was it big. We are now the United States of Amanar, with Jo, Gabby and McKayla all doing the very difficult vaults. Jo and Gabby were both clean with nearly stuck vaults. Best Amanar Jo has ever done. McKayla, meanwhile, did what might be the best vault ever done. It was stuck cold, it was crisp and clean and tight and beautiful, and really there is no excuse for her getting such a low score–and it was still the highest score of the meet. McKayla should have gotten a 10 E score, period. Seriously.
The Russians, meanwhile, did their best, with a stuck DTY from Mustafina, a step on the red fir Komova and a big step off the mat from Pasaka.
On bars, Russia did a great job. A really great rotation for them, for real, and they narrowed the gap. After three spectacular routines (Komova, Mustafina, Grishina) they were behind by .399.
But the US also hit. Weiber kicked things off with a good, if not fabulous, bars set; she was a little muscled but it was definitely hit. Then Kyla did her job, with a clean, lovely bars set. And finally Gabby came around and did her usual bars routine, with its crazy-high releases. Seriously. Crazy. JUST SO HIGH.
On beam, the US went first–more on that in a sec–and the pressure appeared to hit Mother Russia. Mustafina and Komova were both extremely wobbly, and in fact the latter was overscored. Surprisingly, Afanasyeva–not always known as the best competitor–was nearly flawless on the event.
But the US? Well. Kyla went up and hit with maybe 2 tiny bobbles. Gabby went next, and I had a hard time watching to be honest. But she was so, so good. She hit better than I’ve ever seen. There were again a few tiny bobbles, but it was fantastic. And Aly came up and was quite
and hit her usual routine (although she actually played it safe with her first pass, taking out the punch layout). I hope she had fun. Aly was a great leader throughout the meet. At one point I heard her tell Gabby that her bars score was one of the highest, and that now she needed to go to beam and be steady, hit her landings like Marta says, etc. It was adorable.
And of course it was enough. They won. They won big, by five points. They were utterly dominant. They were basically untouchable. They made a few mistakes, but they were very, very tiny mistakes.
Other stories that came out of TF? Well, Russia did an OK job, but really their only excellent rotation was bars. They were fantastic on that event–truly fantastic–but it was nowhere near enough, if you are going to then headcase the other three.
Romania, who has had to rebuild their program after 2004, did a nice job getting bronze. Cata Ponor especially was awesome on beam. China basically just kept making dumb mistakes but still landed in 4th. Meanwhile, Canada had an amazing story, ending up fifth! That is by far their highest finish ever, and good for them. Great Britain, Italy and Japan finished in the final three slots.
But what this evening will be remembered for is the utterly dominant showing of the American woman. What a night. Of redemption for Jo. Of confidence for Gabby. Of doing the best vault the world has ever seen for McKayla. Of being clean and crisp for Kyla. Of leadership for Aly.
Congratulations, Fierce Five.