Another Take on Olympic Teams
My current vote for Team USA is Jordyn Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas, Alexandra Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Kyla Ross. My main reason for picking Maroney is her gold medal worthy vaults. Yes, Marta wants team gold but I don't think that she can simply ignore a chance at a vault medal. Honestly, we have very few routines that are almost guaranteed to medal in the same way Maroney is. I do believe that the other 4 could make event finals and will but I don't think we have such an amazing shot at gold on any event other than vault.
As we all know, Maroney suffered from a "mild concussion" and nasal fracture during warm ups for Day 2 of Visa Championships. I sincerely hope that she recovers in time but I'm not optimistic. I hope McKayla proves me wrong! Concussions are nothing to play around with. I've had too many friends out with concussions to count. One friend, a volleyball player, had a concussion and is still dealing with the medical problems 3 years later. Another friend, a soccer player, was often seen in the training room easing back into exercise slowly. I would go get ice for my shoulder after swim practice and she was usually on the bike. She was finally happy when the trainers let her work out for 30 mins and get her heart rate high enough that she started to sweat. This took her months to get to that point. Another friend had to stop playing ice hockey because of her concussions. While all of these people are different and none of them are trying out for the US Olympic Team in a few days, my experience with concussions is what scares me for Maroney.
I recently asked people on Twitter who they thought would be on the team if you had to take the Big 3 (Jordyn, Gabby, and Aly) and Nastia. I took Maroney out because I fear she will not be ready in time for Trials. Why Nastia? I guess "Nastia" can be replaced with "UB specialist" but Team USA needs her bars badly. Nastia has two factors in her favor over someone like Anna Li: she has a team final worthy beam routine and she is well known internationally and will be judged as such. I'm genuinely curious what position we'd be in if Nastia hits 2 >6.5 bar routines at Trials. Again, don't want to start the hype and speculation but the Selection Committee clearly wants her to prove herself. What position will we be in if she does?
Anyway, assuming the team is Big 3 + UB/Nast, who would you take in the 5th spot?
As we all know, Ross has a weak FX but the Big 3 can cover the US on floor. She adds an event final and team final worthy bars routine. She is also an AA gymnast that is able to substitute anywhere should we need it. Marta has said that the position of the Big 3 is secure, it's the last 2 spots that are questionable. Kyla is pretty close to a rock since she is consistent and can be used anywhere. Also, she can serve as our UB specialist and also has a strong BB.
VT - (Kyla/Gabby) Aly, Jordyn
UB - (Jordyn) Kyla, UB, Gabby
BB - (UB/Gabby/Kyla) Aly, Jordyn
FX - (Kyla) Gabby, Jordyn, Aly
Finnegan has the FX that Ross does not. She also has an incredible start value on BB (6.9) that, should she execute it well, is event finals worthy. The nice thing about this lineup is that both Gabby and Aly would get to do AA in prelims. Is that a reason to take Finnegan? Who knows.
VT - (Sarah) Gabby, Aly, Jordyn
UB - (Aly) Gabby, UB, Jordyn
BB - (Gabby/UB) Aly, Finnegan, Jordyn
FX - Sarah, Gabby, Jordyn, Aly
So amazed when she did that!
This potential addition made me the happiest. If Maroney is gone, we are down a good vaulter. Like Nastia, Alicia has an international presence and we know how she'll be judged. Using her on VT is necessary. She also said that she is working on floor but just needs to the endurance to compete a routine. Will she have it ready by Nationals? Who knows!? Would the US use her on BB given her past Olympic history? Probably not, but it's nice to know that she could be used if needed. Someone also mentioned that Aly's vault is not that reliable since it's practically tucked. Ross has downgraded back to a DTY. Gabby's is good ... when it's good. Alicia will hit her Rudi (front handspring on, 1.5 twist off) in the same way McKayla can hit her Amanar. Like Maroney, she also has event finals potential. Is this enough to get her on the team? The problem would come on FX so as long as Alicia shows something at Trials, she could be used in prelims, much the same way Ross would be used. Again, the nice thing about this lineup is that both Gabby and Aly will get to do AA.
VT - Gabby/Aly, Alicia, Jordyn
UB - (Aly) Jordyn, UB, Gabby
BB - (UB/Alicia) Aly, Gabby, Jordyn
FX - (Alicia) Aly, Gabby, Jordyn
Those abs :O
The next gymnast that probably comes into play is Elizabeth Price or Ebee. Everyone's been hopping on the Ebee train lately and it makes me incredibly happy. Ebee has had some trouble on beam which is why she hasn't sparked our interest until Nationals where she was able to hit 8 for 8 and land in 5th, just behind the Big 3 and Kyla Ross. I think consistency at Trials will be her deciding factor of making the team or an alternate position. The nice thing about Ebee is her vault. Her vault is up there with Jordyn's, in my opinion. She doesn't have quite the block of Maroney but she gets the height and twists so quickly. There's almost no doubt that she's right round and she definitely isn't tucked throughout. She also has an UB routine that we could use in the case that we don't take an UB specialist (Big 3, Ross, Price). Price also has some amazing passes on floor - she practically does a laid out double double! Ebee's bars can score better than Aly's and her floor is stronger than Ross'. Is her boost on vault enough to make the team? Bonus: Big 3 get to do AA.
VT - Gabby/Aly, Ebee, Jordyn
UB - (Aly/Ebee) Jordyn, Gabby, UB
BB - (UB/Ebee) Gabby, Jordyn, Aly
FX - (Ebee) Gabby, Jordyn, Aly
Of the 4 gymnasts, Sacramone has the most international experience. However, this is the Olympics where 4 years prior she had 2 errors. On the other hand, she has fought long and hard to make this comeback successful - twice. The nice thing about Ross is that she could be our UB specialist allowing for a team of Big 3 + Ross + Sac. Finnegan brings the BB and FX difficulty like no one else so she makes a strong case. Price finished 4th in the all around at Nationals. Who will get these last 2 spots?
If you had to make a team without Maroney, who would it be? I do hope she gets well soon and still vies for that spot!
Credit: Heather Maynez for GymExaminer