2016 USA Olympic Trials Day 1: Nothing and Everything is Different, As Usual
Recap and thoughts on Day 1 of the 2016 Olympic Trials.
Reigning Olympic all around gold medalist Gabby Douglas (we only have a month left to say it so let’s throw it in anywhere we can) had a rough meet. A fall on a relatively easy skill on beam, some missed connections on beam, and mediocre floor routine left the 2012 two time gold medalist in seventh place in the all around, which is a rough place to be when nine gymnasts will be eliminated and only five will continue on in the hopes of becoming America’s Next Top Gold Medal Gymnast. Gabby fell on beam during the 2012 Olympic Trials and continued on to win the Trials and the automatic team spot and competed beam during the London team final.
A Sports Illustrated article quotes Gabby as saying “I just haven’t felt the same passion” which is much more worrisome than falls in competition. She claims something needs to change before the final day of competition on Sunday but many recently retired elites have stated that the second they began to question their passion and commitment to the sport they knew it had ended. Additionally, Gabby levitated next to the beam at P&G Championships but during day 1 she hopped off the beam. Perhaps the coach-on-the-floor switcheroo distracted her more than her momager would lead people to believe and a day to process everything will put her back in the right frame of mind.
Gabby will most likely make the Olympic team unless she has a major meltdown on day 2. In 2012 Marta Karolyi vehemently stated that she would not bring a gymnast for one event yet Mckayla Maroney traveled to London, competed on vault, then cheered her head off without competing for the remainder of the competition. The general consensus is that the US Olympic Committee pressured the Selection Committee into bringing Maroney because she was almost guaranteed the United States an additional gold medal. The situation demonstrates the influence the USOC has over the Selection Committee and they would not leave the reigning Olympic all around champion behind unless she was horribly unprepared and had only begun putting together full routines a few weeks prior to Trials. Gabby has been training and competing consistently with good results, which greatly assists the USOC in cheering from her corner.
Reigning three time World Championships all around gold medalist Simone Biles had a hilarious and inevitable wolf turn wobble that proved her humanity. Simone seldom competes absolutely flawlessly but her decimation of the remainder of the field makes one forget that she sometimes takes steps on vaults and does not completely nail every single landing. Simone’s silly wolf turn hiccup hopefully will help her not make eye roll worthy mistakes in future important competitions. If she makes mistakes while the stakes are low, which they are here because one would have to know nothing about the sport and maybe be missing a plethora of brain cells, also known as Al Trautwig, in order to not bring her to Rio, she will know how to avoid making similar mindless and flukey mistakes in the future.
Aly Rasiman has the most impressive focus and drive. Day 1 overall was rather messy which could possibly be attributed to the fact that it is OLYMPIC TRIALS THE MEET THAT DECIDES WHETHER OR NOT YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAMS COME TRUE AND WHEN EVERYTHING FOR WHICH YOU’VE WORKED FOR FIFTEEN YEARS BECOMES WORTH IT OR NOT but one would never know that while watching Aly. She competed exactly how she did in Jesolo, Pac Rims, Classic, and P&G Championships. Her Amanar has been scaring the crap out of people for five-ish years now but she has not injured herself yet so why not keep competing it. It will be interesting to see if she competes on vault during the team final or if a more cleanly executed double twisting Yurchenko bumps her out. Strange how the United States of Amanar has become United Simone and Aly of Amanar.
Ashton Locklear’s beautiful bars most likely will not be seen in Rio and it has nothing to do with her fall on beam during Olympic Trials. Despite frequently the best bar set in the country and tying one of the gaggle of 2015 uneven bars gold medalists, only training two events handicapped her from the beginning. The Selection Committee can always justify the decision to not put her on any team with the fact that she can only compete on half of the events.
Maggie Nichol’s extremely unfortunate knee injury seems to have greatly hampered her training and perhaps her shot the Olympics, which is an extremely frustrating conclusion to a quad of consistent improvement. Maggie made a wise decision to avoid competing an Amanar
Madison Kocian has beautiful bars which goes without saying but GymMapStics prefers Ashton Locklear’s because of toe point and leg length reasons. Very important reasons that have everything to do with gymnastics and not aesthetics.
Laurie Hernandez has almost secured her spot on the team. She had a huge error on bars but remained on the bars and did not incur the massive deduction many assumed she would receive. The judges never deduct for her signature split pirouette, which has made appearances on both the low and high bar, so it should surprise no one that they did not deduct for a sheep jump shape handstand and a million extra swings.
Mykayla Skinner had one of the best meets of her life and NBC actually televised a few of her routines which suggests she may have locked in an alternate spot. She opened her floor routine with one of the best double twisting double layouts performed by either gymnasts who have ever competed it. A few years ago very few people would have predicted that she would place fourth in the all around at Olympic Trials. Mykayla has a reputation for being a daredevil and throwing difficult skills, much like Simone. Aimee has stated that Simone competed huge skills despite subpar form because she had to keep Simone engaged in the sport and at the time she enjoyed the difficulty and over time Simone learned she had to work on the less fun aspects of gymnastics such as stretching and flexibility. Skinner seems to have taken a little longer to learn this lesson but has greatly improved in her leaps and jumps in the past few years.
Ragan Smith finished day 1 in fifth place and finished tenth on vault, ninth on bars, third on beam, and eight on floor. Unfortunately, the rest of the United States excels on beam along with Ragan and she does not have any other team finals worthy routines. Ragan only turned senior this year and hopefully will have a few more solid years in elite.
Brenna Dowell, Rachel Gowey, Christina Desiderio, Amelia Hundley, and Emily Schild allegedly competed but video evidence suggests otherwise.