That, my friend, is not a good thing. Hollie Vise was given an adoring fluff piece by NBC at the 2000 International Team Championships. Then, Hollie was a 12 year-old girl fantasizing of making the 2004 Olympic Team while training her very hardest at WOGA, the same gym teammate Carly Patterson trained at, going on to win AA gold at the 2004 Olympics and where current nine-time world medalist Nastia Liukin trains. Long story short, it didn't happen. Hollie was strong in 2003, winning beam and placing 2nd AA at Nationals and winning gold with her team and on uneven bars at Worlds. However, a back injury slowed her 2004 efforts and didn't compete until the Olympic Trials. By this time she was just competing on her two best events, bars and beam. Judges were stingy with Vise's scores at the Oly Trials while locks such as Patterson, Courtney Kupets, and Courtney McCool were given the benefit of a doubt time and time again. Hollie fell of beam at the Karolyi camp meet and appeared to be off the team. However, in a decision that shocked many, Hollie was left off the team entirely, not even being chosen as an alternate. The team certainly would've used a healthy Vice in Athens, replacing Patterson's shaky UB effort and Kupets' injury on beam in team finals. The U.S. underestimated the need for good back-up UB/BB workers, and this was a job that Vise, or Chellsie Memmel, could've gotten done.
Now, four years later, reports have been swirling around (including mine) that Shayla will not compete in Beijing, Shock Horror, because of the widely rumored but unconfirmed injuries she has been suffering from and the resurgence of Chellsie Memmel and Ashley Priess' UB work. A blog called The Olympic Effect (which unfortunately I don't think its editor is still blogging) had a USA women's selection post outlook of its own back in January. In it, the editor basically is saying Shayla will be on the team due to her strength on all four events and undeniable political favor, saying things such as Worley "is one of Martha Karolyi's favorites" and that she could be a "formidable challenger for the Olympic AA crown." First of all:
- Martha Karolyi's supposed "favorites" are the Fab 3 (Shawn, Nastia, and A-Sac) because they bring home the most medals. Martha does like Shayla and favors her a bit, but I wouldn't say all that much over the other USA bubble girls. Martha has mellowed a bit since Athens and won't go to town with favoring gymnasts before the games. After all the team is being announced on July 20th, the LAST POSSIBLE DATE that the USOC will allow any Olympic teams to be announced. Martha will be considering EVERYTHING when it comes to making the squad and Shayla will not have everything Martha wants even if healthy.
- Shawn and Nastia are locks for the two U.S. AA final spots barring a major disaster. Shayla's DTY upgrade appears unlikely due to the injuries, her bars needs a bit of upgrading and her dismount NEEDS TO GO, standing Arabian needs to be abolished from her beam routine, and floor exercise lacks the raw power that we see from A-Sac/Shawn/Sam P.
The Injury Report: Addicted2Gym reported that Shayla left the camp early because of back/hamstring issues. (remember that a teared hamstring was what kept her out of most of 2006). I am very sure that this is true, because Shayla did not compete in the Karolyi International meet with all the other girls who have only competed once or not at all this year. (Shayla has competed only once this year, competing very lackluster at Scam). Shayla was also passed over for BOTH the Italy meet and Pacific Rim when USA didn't have a full A-list team at either meet. There were many reports prior to the Scam Cup that Shayla was injured, yet still showed up at Madison Square Garden and competed nervously. Shayla likely was injured, but competed anyway just so she wouldn't piss off or concern Martha K.
What does Shayla contribute to the team? Shayla can certainly contribute to the team, but to what extent is debatable. On vault, there is a possible DTY upgrade which she was planning on competing at the American Cup (she told this in an Inside Gymnastics interview) but instead competed a cleaner Yurchenko 1.5 twist at that event. A DTY, unless if done very well, is unnecessary with Shawn, A-Sac, and Sam P. likely candidates to compete vault in team finals. Uneven bars is her best contribution to the team, with a 6.7 A-score. Chellsie Memmel and Ashley Priess scored a high of 16.0 (6.9 A-score) and 15.8 (6.6 A-score) at the recent Karolyi meet. Bridget Sloan is said to have a 6.7 A-score as well, and all of this improvement from other bar workers has the potential to decrease Worley's chances of making the squad significantly, as this is her money event. Shayla is good here, but her inconsistent double front dismount which is also severely cowboyed is a hotbed for deduction. Shayla's very good on beam, but Martha should feel safe with the fab 3 competing potentially 16+ scores in team finals. On floor, Shayla's lack of difficulty and power make the national team staff to likely shy away from using her in a team final there.
Calling For Donations: Shayla publicly announced that she wanted all of her fans to donate money to enable all of her family to go to Beijing and see her go for the gold in person. People have been quick to point out that this is very premature, as theoretically we don't even know if Shayla will make the Olympic Trials yet. (though of course she will, even if injured) However, the team is announced July 20th, just 2.5 weeks away from the start of Olympic competition. This would be far too little time to get all of the money she would need to get ALL of her family to Beijing safe and sound. Shayla is perhaps being a little arrogant with this, perhaps already thinking that she will be on the Olympic team. But absolutely, if she wants to get money, it is best to start getting it now. My only question is: What will happen to the money if she doesn't make the team?
Crazy Coach: Jeff Wood is somewhat of a younger, American version of Bela Karolyi. He is a big bear of a man, he is very intense out on the floor, yet shows his weak spot by hiding behind the curtains during Shayla's beam routines. He also gives his big bear hugs, practically suffocating the stick-thin Worley in the process. I noticed Jeff Wood's demeanor get much more stern at the 2007 Nationals, despite Worley having a great competition and finishing 2nd AA. Jeff could be pushing Shayla through injury, which could prove extremely detrimental to her quest of going to Beijing. Difficulty plus Execution reports that Jeff Wood was extremely angry that Chellsie Memmel and Ashley Priess are surpassing Shayla's UB standards. Jeff needs to calm down, but it couldn't hurt to upgrade on bars for her sake of making the team and also for the sake of the USA team, unless of course she IS HURT.
More and more it is beginning to look like Shayla will be lucky to even be an alternate. As I was analyzing her contribution to the USA team, it really appears as though that UB is the only event which we need her on, and we don't even need her there if Chellsie and Ashley continue to improve on that apparatus. This is of course considering that Shawn, Nastia, A-Sac, and Sam P. are healthy and roaring to go at the arrival of the Games. However, if Chellsie gets the 5th spot on the team and the last spot comes to down to the bars specialists, i.e. Shayla and Ashley, I would actually pick Shayla. Ashley doesn't contribute much of anything besides bars and her start value (as of now) is .1 below Shayla's. The judges know Shayla a bit more and will likely score her a tad more generously than they will with Ashley. Shayla is a potential back-up on beam and vault if she has a good DTY. However, if Ashley beats Shayla on bars at both Nats/Oly Trials, they have to pick Ashley. Period. With all that said, Shayla's spot is in jeopardy. She has to deliver just like everyone else and MUST HIT all four bar routines a Nats/Oly Trials. Everyone considered Shayla a lock last year. However, now it is DO or DIE for Shayla. Shayla doesn't want to be another Hollie Vise, a talented performer who peaked at the wrong time and let an injury step in the way of her Olympic dream. Sadly, it could very well happen.Totally Random Comment: Bela Karolyi lists one of his favorite things he and Martha like to do in Houston is going to the ballet. Houston Ballet is an excellent company, and I always feel honored to be dancing at its academy, where I am currently training.
That is all.