Strengths and Weaknesses of the World Championship Training Squad – 2014 Team Members
USA Gymnastics announced the World Championship training squad which includes the entire 2014 team as well as the traveling alternate. Learn their strengths and weaknesses as well as where each gymnast could fit in on this year’s world championships team.
Strengths: The 2013 and 2014 World All Around champion has a phenomenal Amanar vault as well as a second vault that she could do in her sleep. Simone also has ginormous difficulty and excellent form across events.
Weaknesses: Simone scores the lowest on bars; however, she could easily be trusted to perform on this event in a team situation. She has a 6.2 difficulty score, which is high for someone who is typically not considered a bar swinger, impeccable form, and placed fifth on this event at the P&G Championships.
Worlds Potential: At the 2014 World Championships, Simone competed on vault, floor, and beam. The United States is so far ahead of the rest of the world that Simone could contribute on bars, despite the fact that it’s her weakest event. Simone also has a high probability of earning additional individual medals in the all around as well as on multiple events. She is a guaranteed lock for this Worlds team unless she decides to forfeit her American citizenship and compete for Belize (which she should do for the 2024 Olympics).
Strengths: Alyssa competes a difficult beam routine with great form and execution.
Weaknesses: Despite a gorgeous beam set, Alyssa has low start values on vault, bars, and floor.
Worlds Potential: Alyssa competed only on beam last year during the World Championships team final and during qualifications she failed to qualify to the event finals. This year Alyssa competed an upgraded beam routine during the P&G Championships. Alyssa would most likely need to be able to contribute on another event in order to be named to the World Championships team but does not have another team finals worthy event.
Strengths: Ashton excels on bars and competed as a bars specialist at the 2014 World Championships. She also recently received the highest execution score on bars at the P&G Championships with 9.25 points.
Weaknesses: Ashton has recently returned to the gym following shoulder surgery and competed a less difficult routine than she was competing a year ago. She also struggled on beam at P&G’s, most likely as a result of training less as she recovered from surgery.
Worlds Potential: At this point, Ashton can only contribute on bars and it is unlikely that she would be brought along to the World Championships for one event unless she was guaranteed a gold medal. Ashton’s current bar set would not be in medal contention in an event final.
Strengths: Kyla’s excellent execution scores balance out her average difficulty scores and make her a perennial top gymnast in the United States and in the world.
Weaknesses: Kyla has struggled on bars recently, which is odd considered she’s usually the poster child for consistency. She also has had some injuries over the past few years that have prevented her from upgrading her difficulty on most of the events.
Worlds Potential: At the 2014 World Championships Kyla competed on each event in the team final competition; however, it’s unlikely that she would be able to do the same this year. Kyla barely placed in the top 10 at P&G Championships and struggled on bars, which typically is her standout event. After a rough bar set, Kyla destroyed beam and earned the highest execution score on the event for the meet, which demonstrates her ability to forget previous errors and excel on the next event. The resilience Kyla displayed is an important quality to have on a World Championships team. UPDATE: Kyla has withdrawn from the selection process and will not seek a spot on the team this year.
Strengths: Mykayla competes two vaults, which makes her one of two USA gymnasts eligible for a vault medal. She also competes a very difficult floor routine. Mykayla is also a very powerful tumbler which greatly increases her difficulty on floor.
Weaknesses: Mykayla has difficult skills and is great when she hits (see: backhandspring full twisting back tuck on beam on Day 1 of P&G Champinships) but her big skills carry an innate risk. Mykayla also has low difficulty and execution on bars.
Worlds Potential: Skinner medaled on vault and missed out on a floor medal by a very slim margin. She could make the team based on medal possibilities on these events alone, especially because she could be used on either of these events in a team final as well. Skinner’s form breaks hurt her execution scores yet she still manages to place well in international competition.
Strengths: The future UCLA Bruin is the current national bars champion and contributed on this event in the team final at the 2014 World Championships.
Weakness: Although no gymnast could ever be described 100% healthy, Madison seems more accident prone than most. Additionally, Madison has low start values on all events except bars.
Worlds Potential: Madison could fill in a gap left by a gymnast who excels on power events but struggles on bars, such as Skinner, Biles, or Raisman. Similar to Ashton Locklear, the ability to medal on this event would increase her likelihood of making the World’s team.
Strengths: The 2014 traveling alternate achieved that status because she could fill in on any event in case of an injury. She is an even gymnast across the apparatus.
Weaknesses: Maddie does not have a standout event. She competed a full twisting layout on beam during the Pan American Games but fell on it during each stage of the competition and subsequently removed it from her routine at P&G’s. Maddie also has low difficulty across the board.
Worlds Potential: Maddie pulled out of the second day of P&G Championships as a precaution but it puts her ability to remain healthy throughout a marathon competition such as World Championships in question.