2015 World Championships Team Preview: USA
The United States World Championship team includes the reigning World all around, beam, and floor champion, the reigning Olympic all around champion, the reigning Olympic floor champion, an individual World bronze medalist, a team World gold medalist and bars specialist, the dark horse of the quad, and an NCAA gymnast. The seven gymnasts below will train in Texas and then head to Glasgow where one will be named the alternate and the remaining gymnasts will compete for the United States. The extremely deep team will face the most competition between themselves in qualifying to finals and earning places in lineups.
Simone’s utter domination of the sport will continue at the 2015 World Championships to the surprise of absolutely no one. She will attempt to defend her all around title again and will likely qualify to and medal in the the vault, beam, and floor event finals. Although unlikely, she could even compete in the uneven bars final. She qualified to the bars final in 2013 and the year after the Olympics tends to have weaker competition, which assisted in her earning a spot in the final. Regardless of the quality of the rest of the field, Simone does not tank on bars nor does she lose a large quantity of points on execution or missed handstands. She simply does not perform jaw dropping gymnastics the way she does on other events. Simone needs one medal at this World Championships to tie and two medals to beat Alicia Sacramone’s record of ten career World medals and that accolade sits well within Simone’s reach.
Many doubted the legitimacy of Gabby Douglas’ comeback and thought her return to the sport centered around extending her Nike contract but publicity and sponsorships do not put gymnasts on World Championships teams. Gabby’s gymnastics has earned her a spot on the team and she may fight for an all around final spot if she brings back her Amanar vault and performs additional upgrades at which she previously hinted. She can currently contribute the most on bars in a team final and could round out a very experienced beam team along with Aly and Simone.
Aly Raisman stomps around the Karolyi Ranch, bangs on doors, warns her fellow gymnasts to be quiet, and then returns to a room full of junior gymnasts who sit around and watch someone brush her hair, similar to the mean girl in A Little Princess. She completes these activities by 7:45pm so she lay her weary head to rest at 8:00pm on the dot. Aly will engage in the same activities in Glasgow, Scotland at the World Championships, sans the juniors. Aly could compete in the all around during qualifications and then possibly on vault, beam, and floor or any combination of those events during the team final. She could contend for a beam or floor medal and has consistently finished high in the all around rankings at world level competitions but has yet to earn an individual all around medal. Finally reaching the all around podium would definitely result in a lot of this.
Maggie is not only the dark horse of the quad but the work horse. She sits in a similar place that Aly Raisman occupied at this point in the last quad in that she had a slow and steady rise as opposed to the sudden and meteoric rise of gymnasts like Gabby Douglas or Simone Biles. Maggie upgraded all of her events this year, including the addition of an extremely valuable Amanar vault, and competes consistently and with great composure. Maggie does not have a standout event but she also lacks a significantly weaker event, which makes her a valuable asset in any lineup.
Mykayla Skinner competed on the 2014 gold medal winning World Championship team, earned a bronze medal on vault, and narrowly missed out on a medal on floor. She could contend for a vault medal again with her Cheng and a double twisting Yurchenko vaults. The return of Aly Raisman may jeopardize her place in the floor final due to the two per country per final qualification rule. Mykayla could contribute on these same events in a team final although a greater number of Amanars on this year’s team diminishes the usefulness of her double twisting Yurchenko.
Brenna earned the alternate spot for World Championships in2013 and then the non-traveling alternate spot in 2014. Brenna’s position on this team demonstrates that hard work, persistence, and dedication pay off. Brenna has amazing skills on bars and performs fantastic routines but her inability to compete consistently has contributed to her repeated alternate status. Hopefully she will not serve as the alternate for a third year in a row and will perform her incredible bar routine that includes a Tweddle to Ezhova combination as well as her unusual front tumbling passes on floor in Glasgow.
Madion Kocian competed in the all around during qualifications but solely on bars during the team final at the 2014 World Championships. She earned first place on the event at both the Secret US Classic and P&G Championships and fills a gap created by gymnasts such as Aly and Simone who excel on vault, beam, and floor. Madison performs a Pak salto to Chow 1/2 and an abundance of inbar and Stalder skills on her strongest event.