Stretching Out: A Proposed U.S. Women's World Team
(13 votes, average 3.08 out of 5)

With all the mounting anticipation of who will make the U.S. women's world championship team, I hereby offer my picks, as well as the lineups for team finals and preliminaries. These choices are based solely on what I observed over two days of intense competition at the Visa championships in August, as well as from the CoverGirl Classic in late July.

My proposed 2011 U.S. World Team:

Jordyn Wieber (pictured here), McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Alicia Sacramone, Gabrielle Douglas, Anna Li. Alternate: Chellsie Memmel. If needed, Memmel can perform a clean routine on uneven bars but could really help on balance beam, where she placed second to Sacramone at Visa championships.

TEAM FINAL (prelim competitors in parentheses):

Vault: Wieber, Maroney, Sacramone (Douglas, Raisman).

Two Amanars and a handspring-rudi combine for a formidable vault team—the best in the world. Maroney and defending world vault champion Sacramone could go 1-2 on this event in either order. Wieber could join that party too if she did a second vault.

At Visas, only three gymnasts did two vaults, which remains a mystery. At the 2010 Rotterdam worlds, only 35 gymnasts tried to qualify for the vault final, compared with 187, 188 and 184 for bars, beam and floor, respectively. And more than half of those 35 had a combined D-score of just around 10.0. Gabriela Janik (POL), for example, placed 15th on vault with 5.3- and 4.6-valued vaults. If you can do an Amanar, that means you are already one of the best vaulters in the world. So it would eventually pay to learn a second vault.

Uneven Bars: Wieber, Li, Douglas (Raisman, Maroney).

Both Wieber and Li had 6.5 D-scores at Visa Championships, while Douglas had 6.4. Only the Caquatto sisters came close (Mackenzie, 6.0; Bridgette, 6.3).

With Rebecca Bross injured, U.S. national team coordinator Marta Karolyi simply has to roll the dice on bars, so she might as well choose the highest-scoring bars team and hope they hit. Li showed her toughness at Visas by covering a minor error and completing her routine on one of the two days. And while Douglas is very young (15) and had a major brain cramp on beam in St. Paul, bars is an entirely different animal. Li and Douglas tied for third place on bars at Visas, behind silver-medalist Mackenzie Caquatto, who is reportedly injured. Wieber won the event.

Balance Beam: Wieber, Raisman, Sacramone (Li, Maroney).

Karolyi has few other options on beam, an event that could well determine the fate of the U.S. team at the world championships in Tokyo. Of course, the same is true for every other country.

Floor Exercise: Wieber, Raisman, Maroney (Douglas, Sacramone).

While Wieber and Raisman are locks, Maroney gets in for her 6.1 D-score compared with Sacramone's 5.7. Unless the latter, who was the floor world champion in 2005, has improved dramatically since Visas, Maroney should get the nod on floor.

The preliminary lineup allows Maroney and Raisman to join Wieber in the all-around qualification, which will send only two per country to the final. Could there be a more random, meaningless rule at a time when the list of gymnasts who do all four events continues to shrink?

Personally, I believe the women's team should have been selected at Visa championships, just as the men's team was. Performing on a podium in front of judges, TV cameras and responsive crowds is the best dress rehearsal for any major competition.

By waiting, a certain stress factor eventually takes its toll. While the U.S. men's world team has been able to strengthen its bond and polish routines since August, its female counterparts have been forced to endure many sleepless nights, worrying about their individual fates. Mercifully, it finally comes to an end today.

Comments (11)add comment

Jimmy Delanty said:

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Those are my picks too! Others prefer Mackenzie in place of Gabrielle, but I love Gabrielle and she is just going to keep getting better.
 
September 21, 2011
Votes: +0

Megz said:

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I don't see taking Li. Yes, she has an insanely difficult bar set, but she is not close to consistant on it. She missed at Classics, went 1 for 2 at Nats, and reportedly missed at camp 1. Not much out of camp 2 yet, but she tweeted she "hit", so I'll assume that's a hit for bars. Going 2 for 5 is not a great record and the point plus deduction she takes for a fall negates her fantastic start value. There's also the fact that she'll get hammered on her hop full being so far past handstand when she catches. I love Li, but I'm not sure she's worth taking just for bars when she isn't consistant and has a pretty large built in deduction on one skill. I would much rather see Wofford in Li's place for your prospective line up. She has a nice D score and has nice lines and swing. She would also be much more valuable on beam than Li (who went 0-4 from Classics through camp 1 IIRC). I do agree with your other 5 though.
 
September 21, 2011
Votes: +5

Umagurl said:

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Shawn Johnson?
How come noone mentions Shawn as a possible team member? Does she have no chance?
 
September 21, 2011
Votes: +0

Lindsay said:

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Well, that's why they don't pick the team straight out of Nationals-- Picking Gabrielle based on her Nationals debacle would have been ludicrous. Now with Macko injured and Chellsie Memmel seemingly still not at full strength, options are limited and Marta is going to have to take more risks. Obviously, performing in a camp setting with very few people watching and no medals at stake is a lot different than performing in front of thousands and on TV at Worlds, but I still understand why it makes sense to not pick the team right away after Nationals (One camp instead of two would have been better though. Whose idea was it to have two camps?!). I don't think we will put a necessarily reliable team on the floor at Worlds, but we may not have to do with the rest of the world also struggling with their own injury problems.
 
September 21, 2011
Votes: +4

Lindsay said:

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Oh, and Anna Li should not be doing beam any more than Gabby should, IMO. But at least for Team Finals, we are covered on beam. Bars and floor- especially bars- is a lot more dicey. We are one injury away from using Raisman on bars in Team Finals, and that's just not a good situation.
 
September 21, 2011
Votes: +1

Anonymous said:

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I'm not sure I understand the logic in choosing Douglas, considering her total meltdown at Nats. Didn't she balk three times on beam? Balking once on beam is unheard of for a senior elite, but THREE TIMES? I can't imagine Marta taking her after that debacle.
 
September 21, 2011
Votes: +3

Hobbes Jones said:

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Team
Let someone else pick the team; Not Marta! Her time is up!
 
September 21, 2011
Votes: +2

Dwight said:

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Douglas balked twice, then completed her beam dismount on the third try. She's really strong on bars, which is where they need a big score. It also is important to remember that if a gymnast is injured during qualifications, she can be replaced by the alternate for the Team Final. That's why I chose Memmel as alternate, because she has experience and can fill in on bars, beam and floor.
 
September 21, 2011
Votes: +2

Karl Warden said:

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NO Johnson!
Shawn Johnson is NOT ready for worlds yet. She's not doing floor and her leaps are NOT 180 degree splits or past and will get major deductions. I would love to see Li make the world team and nail her bars sets and make the final but let's face it, with this new 6 athlete team 3 up 3 count format, you cannot use a slot for an athlete who can really only contribute one routine... Also, How come everyone is so luke warm about Sabrina Vega! I think she's the real deal and on the up and up. She's peaking at the right time and is a GORGEOUS gymnast. The international judges are going to love her style of gymnastics. I think she's on the world team for sure. my 6 are: Weiber, Raisman, Vega, Sacramone, Douglas, Maroney (not sure if she'll be healthy enough) ALT: Memmel.
 
September 21, 2011
Votes: -1

WM said:

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Douglas??
Gabby Douglas is a beautiful gymnast, but I agree that you'd have to be bonkers to take her after her meltdown at Nationals. Chellsie Memmel would be a WAAAY better choice than Douglas. I would happily send Douglas to Pan Ams where she can get mentally stronger with more international competition under her belt. Li didn't do super well at Nationals, but she has tons of experience hitting under pressure.
 
September 21, 2011
Votes: +1

truthabout said:

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How is Douglas factored in when she has no experience and melted on all days?
 
September 21, 2011
Votes: +0

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