Since last year everyone has been talking about how excited they were to watch USA competing in worlds team finals. In this past years lots of things have changed for the team. We had lots of injuries, we had a retirement, we had young gymnasts exceeding expectations and then we had more injuries. But the one thing that has not changed is the fact that even after some struggles, USA is still the clear favorite to win that team gold medal.
One of the many reasons why they are the top contenders is vault. One would assume that a country that has lost a million of strong vaulters due to injuries/retirement would be weak at vault. But that’s definitely not the case for USA. Even without athletes like Maroney, Price, Dowell, Priessman and Gowey, who were capable of amanars, and others like Nichols and Ernst who had brilliant DTYs USA is clearly the strongest country in the world on this event. Kyla Ross should start their competition with her gorgeous DTY, which is one of the best being competed out there. Desch also has a lovely DTY but her execution is not quite as good as Kyla’s. Then MyKayla Skinner will take over and perform her Cheng. Now, we all know about the problems she has with her block, but she has competed internationally a few times and she has recieved high scores so I expect her to do the same here too. The line up will finish with the best vaulter in the world right now, Simone Biles and her nearly perfect amanar. After a rotation like that USA will definitely take the lead.
People always talk about how USA is weak on bars but that’s definitely not the case this year. Their line up, which will most likely be Kyla Ross, Madison Kocian and Ashton Locklear, is actually fantastic. Kyla has shown a dowgraded routine all year long since she performs toe ons instead of inbars. I’m not sure if she’s planning to compete her old 6.4 routine at worlds or if she’ll stick with the one she did at the national competitions (which starts out of a 5.9) but she should be able to get a good score regardless. Her execution is brilliant and makes up for any lack of difficulty. Madison Kocian made the team mainly for this event and she’s indeed fantastic. Unlike Kyla, she has legs separations in plenty of her skills and she will of course be deducted for that but her spectacular komova 2 + pak + chow 1/2 combination, her beautiful pirouettes and her sky high jaeger make up for any minor form errors. Words can’t express how happy I am to see this girl finally getting her chance to shine. It seems like she can’t get a break from injuries since 2010 so it’s fantastic to see her healthy enough to compete at the highest level. Then we have the lovely Ashton Locklear who was the big surprise for Team USA this year. Before classics nobody ever mentioned her as a contender for the worlds team. And yet, after hitting her gorgeous and unique UB routine every single time she competed it she got herself a well deserved ticket to China. She is inexperienced but she has been extremely consistent on this event so I’m not worried about her. If for whatever reason one of this girl is not able to compete, Simone Biles should take her place and deliver a less spectacular but equally solid routine for the team.
Surprisingly beam is the event where USA didn’t have lots of people to choose from. Some promising beam workers like Ernst, Gowey, Hults and Nichols struggled with injuries so USA doesn’t have endless options here. Simone Biles looks solid and confident on this event. She has lots of great skills, like her 2.5 wolf turn, her bhs + 2 losos combination and her front tuck but the highlight of her routine is without a doubt her full in dismount in combination which, in my opinion, is the best dismount the world has ever seen. Kyla Ross' beam is not spectacular but it is as solid as ever and her gorgeous leaps and her well performed acrobatic elements should give her a high score. A great score should also be expected by my favorite american gymnast currently competing: Alyssa Baumann. I fell in love with Alyssa back in 2010 when she was part of WOGA’s junior army. But after she had a rough competitions at that years nationals I thought she’d be one more beautiful headcase who would never be consistent enough to make it big. Thankfully this year she proved me wrong, she had very few mistakes all season and she proved that she can hit under pressure. I’d be lying if I said that I won’t be holding my breath while watching her on beam but I hope she does great because this is the greated opportunity she could possibly get to prove herself. She really is a gorgeous beam worker who has lovely lines, elegance, good difficulty, flexibility and execution. She starts her routine with a powerful standing araiban and she continues with a stunning switch ring. She also performs a lovely onodi and one of the prettiest switch leap + switch half combinations out there. Madison Kocian also has a lovely beam set but even though she’s capable of big skills (arabian, switch ring, front aerial + sheep jump) she doesn’t have a huge start value and she’s not very steady so it’s unlikely to see her in this line up. Maddie Desch has big skills too and shows huge potential on this event as a junior but she is a bit messy and shaky some times.
USA’s floor is not as strong as it could be since some of the best tumblers like Price, Priessman and Dowell are not on that team. However their line up can definitely not be considered weak. The first person to go here should be Baumann or Ross. Alyssa has played around with quite a few tumbling passes (DLO, 2.5 + front full, 2 whips to double tuck/triple, double pike, 1.5 + rudi etc) before she found a routine that works for her. It looks like her floor is inspired by Ludivine Furnon’s 2000 floor routine and even though I wish she had a bit more choreography I really enjoy her on this event. Kyla also has nice presenation and her tumbling, even though it is a bit easy compared to her teammates is extremely clean. Out of the two I’d love to see Alyssa making the line up but I think Kyla is a much more solid and reliable floor worker so she’s probably the best choice. Maddie Desch has some great tumbling, like a whip + double arabian + stag and a high triple full but hasn’t been consistent on this event for the last couple of years. Biles and Skinner are both amazing tumblers
and they both have one skill named after them. I don’t even remember an other team to have two gymnasts each of whom had a tumbling pass named after them in their line up. (wrong, MyKayla doesn’t have a skill named after her like I previously said, the lay out double double is named after Victoria Moors, I’m an idiot, sorry) MyKayla performs two double doubles and since Tori is out for the time being she’s the only woman capable of a double twisting double layout. She has form errors, her leaps are often poor and her artistry leaves a lot to be desired, nobody is denying that. But nobody should also be denying that she’s amazingly powerful and that her level of difficulty is phenomenal. The only person who can match her difficult tumblint is her teammate, Simone Biles. I can’t think of anyone else who’s as close to perfection as Simone on this event. Her tumbling is simply ridiculous, and she’s mostly clean and has learned to control her ladnings perfectly. And whether you like the way she dances or not you have to admit that her choreography is much improved and that she is is a fantastic performer who knows how to sell a floor routine. It’s extremely possible that Simone will be last on floor and that she will secure that gold medal for team USA and just thinking about this possibility gives me chills.
Out of all this girls Desch is the obvious choice for the alternate unless one of the others doesn’t look like herself at training.
So, USA had quite a few injuries, which is of course extremely unfortunate but they still are the clear favorite to win the team gold. And they are capable of winning plenty of individual medals. Simone Biles is the clear favorite to win AA, VT and FX and she’s also a potential finalist on beam, where it wouldn’t be impossible for her to medal. Kyla Ross is a contender for a beam and an AA medal and she could challenge for an UB medal if she has her inbars on bars back. Ashton Locklear and Madison Kocian are both contenders for bars finals. Alyssa Baumann is a potential finalist/medallist on beam and MyKayla Skinner is a medal contender on vault and floor. So USA has the potential to dominate in those world championships and I can’t wait to see them doing so.