Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Drama, Gossip, Rumors and Final Thoughts Prior to Nationals

I was roaming around WWGYM today and found some very INTERESTING tidbits from Nationals, including some reports on the podium training sessions. As I have mentioned before, Nationals are incredibly important for all of the girls, especially the bubble girls that actually have a CHANCE at going to the Olympics. Without further ado:

Drama, Gossip, and Rumors (These are JUST rumors, so don't go to town thinking that they are all true)

  • Chelsea Davis, the new dark horse who is coached by '91 World AA Champ Kim Zmeskal, has apparently sustained a knee injury and will not be competing any events besides bars. Knee injury or not, Davis is certainly not going to Beijing even with strong political favor with coach Kim Zmeskal being a former Karolyi star. Martha K. mentioning Chelsea as a dark horse was likely a psychological ploy to scare the other girls into working harder, and Martha K. has stated that we will still see Davis at trials (along with Sloan who isn't doing AA). Kim Zmeskal being Davis' coach likely prompted Martha K. to let this unknown go to trials, and this political favor could pay huge dividens if Davis presses onward to London 2012.

  • There have been reports that a judge said that Jana Bieger will be the sacrificial lamb of these championships, i.e. the Natasha Kelley underscoring fiasco of last year. Apparently the judges will score all the other bubble girls highly provided if they hit their routines to their capable start values, i.e. hit routines and NO missed connections. There will be harsh penalties for missed handstands, missed connections, wobbles, etc. Also, expect huge marks from Liukin for hit bars and beam routines. Not sure if any of this info is legit but that is the scoop.

  • There have also been reports that the equipment being used in Boston is that of Janseen-Fritsen, the same brand of equipment being used at the Games. However, the equipment is being disguised as the AAI equipment that is generally used in American meets. At Nationals look closely for hit routines on floor from Samantha Peszek, as there have been many reports that she can't tumble any where near as well when she is not competing on an AAI floor mat.

  • Shayla Worley has been rumored to be withdrawing from Nationals altogether and to be petitioning to trials, though apparently she looked reasonably solid in the podium training.

  • CONFIRMED: Ashley Priess has withdrawn and WILL NOT be petitioning to trials. The reasons to this are largely unknown, but ANGRY THOUGHTS are to come later in the post.

Podium Training Reports

Shawn- Landed her Amanar successfully, FX music is to the movie "August Rush," struggled a little with her switch leap/layout-back pike series on beam.

Nastia- Looked very strong, has not upgraded tkatchev + pak and I haven't heard anything about a DTY or triple twist dismount off BB either.

Chellsie- Excellent UB work, apparently trying to get a double front 1/2 dismount (though this isn't any more valuable than a double front). Landed her piked double Arabian and looked good on beam minus one fall on her piked barani. Looked shaky with her yurchenko 1.5, however.

Sam- Inconsistency with DTY (!) and inconsistency with 2.5 twist + layout front full, but has showed strong double-doubles and a 1.5 twist through to double pike upgrade. Looked good on bars and beam, but apparently hasn't showed her planned double/double dismount off UB.

Shayla- Looking out of shape, apparently she is suffering from a back injury. Did some individual skills on bars and had a couple good routines on beam but showed a bunch of missed yurchenko 1.5's. Whether she will even be even competing tonight remains uncertain, but if she does continue she will likely stick to just doing bars and beam.

Alicia- Hasn't shown anything but timers on vault, but was rock solid on beam and has the EXACT same floor music/choreography/tumbling. Hopefully she has been working on a couple upgrades for trials; the U.S. needs them.

Ivana- Missed handstands and tkatchev is STILL low on UB (stuck her full-in dismount, though). Good DTY's, planning a double front upgrade on floor but has been struggling with it.

Bridget- Likely only competing bars and beam, but looked especially solid on bars. Showing a good layout full-in dismount, and Ashley's withdrawal opens a huge door for Bridget to make the team.

Jana- Have surprisingly heard very little about.

Thoughts On Ashley Priess' Withdrawl and How It Changes the Selection Landscape

It is unclear whether Priess' retirement has anything to do with an injury (though there have been rumors of back issues), she came to one training in session in Boston and looked OK and all of a sudden just vanished. I wonder if Priess was simply afraid or unwilling to go through the selection process, or felt she wouldn't be able to deliver a strong performance as she hasn't competed at a major meet since 2006 Worlds. But if Ashley's decision was based on not believing she was useful enough to make the team, than she was very unwise to bow out of the race. Scores of 15.75 and 15.8 on bars at the Karolyi International meet, though likely a bit inflated, are scores that the U.S. would like to get their hands on for a lead-off bar worker. Martha K. has stated how CRUCIAL performances on bars will be when determining the Olympic team. Ashley being sent for bars only would also provide strong scoring from judges who would be persuaded to score her favorably for being good enough to be on the current world champion team for just one event. I was actually going to go as far as predicting that if Ashley hit her routines at Nats/Oly Trials with scores like those at the camp they would pick her over Worley, Sloan, Bieger, and Hong. However, I suppose I should just look at the subject matter this way: Bowing out of the Olympic selection marathon means that she wouldn't have been physically or mentally ready to go to the Olympics even if she had gone for it. As for the team, I think that Chellsie Memmel has joined the Fab 3 as locks for the team. However, I wouldn't say Samantha Peszek is a lock YET. The last two spots will obviously come down to a 3rd bar worker and a 3rd vault/floor worker.

Here is a breakdown of team finals spots look to be sewn up assuming Shawn, Nastia, A-Sac are all on the team (Chellsie is not officially a lock until she has competed well at these Nationals). Tier A represents those that are legitimate uses in a team final. Tier B represents those that have potential to contribute on this event but have not shown competitive readiness on that event as of late or is not an experienced competitor. Tier C represents those that are needed only in an emergency. This "contest" includes everyone besides Johnson, Liukin, and Sacramone. Someone who is not granted status in any of the tiers will not have any chance of contributing on the respective piece of apparatus in a team final.

Points Awarded:

Tier A (VT/BB)-3 Tier A (FX)- 4 Tier A (UB)-5

Tier B (VT/BB)-2 Tier B (FX)-2.5 Tier B (UB)-3.0

Tier C (VT/BB)-1 Tier C (FX)-1 Tier C (UB)-1.5

Vault: Sacramone, Johnson, ?

Tier A: Hong, Peszek

Tier B: Olivia Courtney, Mackenzie Caquatto (top U.S. Classic vault mark), Stageberg

Tier C: Memmel, Worley, Ashley Stott, Hill, Sloan, Corrie Lothrop, Bieger, Larson, Trani, Brittany Ranzy

Uneven Bars: Liukin, ?, ?

Tier A: Memmel, Sloan, Worley

Tier B: Bieger

Tier C: Hong, Peszek

Balance Beam: Johnson, Liukin, Sacramone

Tier A: Memmel

Tier B: Peszek, Worley, Bieger

Tier C: Hong

Floor Exercise: Johnson, Sacramone, ?

Tier A: Memmel, Peszek, Hill, Bieger, Sloan

Tier B: Larson, Stageberg

Tier C: Hong, Worley, Courtney

The Results: Remaining Three Spots on the Team

Memmel=13 points

Peszek=10.5 points

Sloan= 10.5 points

Alternates (I believe only two alternates will be selected, but I have listed the next top 3)

Bieger= 10 points

Worley=9.5 points

Hong= 6.5 points

While the points I have listed theoretically indicate that Sloan and Peszek would get the last two spots with Bieger and Worley as the two alternates, these points are based on if Shayla is healthy and ready to go, specifically the bars. Hong can actually get on the team if she finishes ahead of Peszek on vault at both Nationals and Olympic Trials. Anything less than that and she is an alternate at best. Jana Bieger is unlikely to be on the team even if she is in good form, because she is PERFECT alternate material. If a girl is to get injured Jana could potentially fill in on any event, especially on bars and/or floor, but wouldn't contribute any valuable scores that the U.S. doesn't already have. Worley is the wild card in all of this madness. If she can gut it out and have UB scores worthy of a top 3 finish at the Olympic Trials (especially) where she will hopefully be healthier, than she probably could go. But if Shayla performs lackluster or doesn't compete at all in Boston (which seems likely), they will still let her go to trials but in that scenario I think Bridget has actually got herself a ticket to go to Beijing. Sam P. has good political favor, and if the rumors of Bieger being scored harshly hold true Peszek should be going. Peszek isn't of such great use to the team unless she can magically pull out an Amanar or a 6.4/6.5 A-score on floor, with Memmel looking to contribute on FX as well.

The drama begins tonight at 7:00 P.M. in Boston.

Next Post: Commentary on Day 1 of Nats to come tomorrow.

That is all.


Isis said...

Thanks for that commentary!

And I oh so want Ivana and Bridget on that team. At least one of them, if they can't both go. I like Ivana better, but what I like her best on is floor (so pretty!), and she ain't gonna be doin' no floor in the TF, possibly not even in the quals (what's her FX A-score anyway?); and if she's not going to be showcasing her floor at all in Beijing, then I'd rather see Bridget on the team, doing bars.

Audrey said...

Another awesome post!

I love your points system, that is a pretty cool and efficient way to look at it!

pink-machete said...

Wow after Day 1 the top FOUR really established themselves, especially Chelsea second highest scores on beam and bars- Well Done. Sam is looking pretty good too. The real battle on day 2 is gonna be between Bridget and Jana. Ivanna looks to have little shot at this point

Kelly B said...

I have to differ a little bit from your picks, and here's why. First off, I think you're right on--Alicia, Shawn, Nastia, and probably Chellsie for four of the spots. Where I differ is in how you select alternates. Because everybody's health seems so precarious (I guess if we had a bunch of 14-yo He Kexins on the team it wouldn't be an issue) I think you want more well rounded alternates. My alt pics would be Jana and Ivana, as they can both fill in virtually anywhere in a pinch and actually kind of complement each others strengths. So the last two spots are between four girls as I see it: One spot will go to either a healthy Shayla Worley or else to Bridget Sloan, for bars. The other slot will go to either a completely consistent Mattie Larson or else more likely to Sam Peszek, for vault/floor.

Just my two cents...maybe we should start a pool for the final team... :)

inna said...

i just want to say that i love your blog the best of all cause u speak it how it is! and not only by who is your favorite :)

MRR said...

Thank you so much for the compliment.