The surprises of the nominative list

About a month before the start of the 2015 artistic gymnastics world championships, the FIG released a nominative list of the athletes that might be representing their countries in Glasgow. This list is not final. In fact, each team is allowed to make as many changes as they want before the qualifications begin. That means, that some of the athletes whose names are included in this list, may never get in a plane for Glasgow while others may take their places. Important competitions and internal tests like the Romanian nationals, the Novara Cup or the USA world selection camp have not taken place yet so the athletes in contention still need to prove that they have what it takes to represent their home countries at the most important competition of the year. That being said, the nominative list can give us an idea of the gymnasts who are being considered for their country’s worlds teams.

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photo by UGA athletics

One of the names I was most excited to see on the list was Canada’s Brittany Rogers. After helping her country achieve a historic 5th place finish and qualifying into vault finals at London, Brittany retired from elite gymnastics and started competing for the University of Georgia. However, with the Rio Olympics only a year away, she returned into elite training so she can have a chance to become a two times Olympian. There was never a doubt that she is a very talented athlete and she could definitely offer a lot to the team especially on vault and bars, but comebacks in gymnastics are far from an easy thing and we haven’t seen Brittany competing any world class routines yet. The Canadian gymnastics federation recently announced their world team and she is part of it so I’m very excited to see what she’s capable of. However, notably absent from the Canadian team is Commonwealth Games finalist Maegan Chant, who has been among her country’s strongest athletes during the quad. She is a powerful vaulter and tumbler with impressive skills, like a front layout half out on vault, a double layout on floor and an aerial round of on beam so I’m surprised to see she is only going to be a reserve for the team this time around.

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photo by Inside gymnastics

An other name who is surprisingly missing from her country’s nominative team is world champion Huang Huidan of China. During the quad, she has been a rock for her team as well as one of the strongest gold medal contenders on the uneven bars. 2015 hasn’t been a great year for her but I still think she has a lot to offer on bars and beam. The Chinese team already includes two bars and beam specialists: Zhu Xiaofang and Fan Yilin. They are both first year seniors and they are the Asian championships bars and beam champions. It was previously announced that Huang will actually be on that team instead of Zhu so we should definitely not count her out yet.

The explosive Yesenia Ferrera, who stole the show at the 2014 Panamerican championships is also not listed to compete. The Cuban star injured herself at the Anadia world cup and according to this post, she is out of the national team due to discipline issues. I’m not sure what her status is right now but I really wish she will actually end up competing at worlds, even though I don’t know how likely this is. Kristyna Sankova is not listed among the other Ukrainian athletes, which makes me think that she’s probably injured while everyone’s favorite, Anna Pavlova, seems to be healthy enough to represent Azerbaijan.

photo by FIG

The fabulous Marta Pihan Kulesza is also not set to compete for Poland. The two times Olympian suffered from an injury that took her out of the European Games earlier this year but she recently returned to competition at the Poland vs Austria vs Hungary friendly meet. She didn’t post any massive scores, but even though she’s still recovering, she still is one of her country’s best gymnast so I really hope she will be ready to compete at Glasgow.

The Romanian team does not include European champion Andreea Munteanu but this is not necessarily surprising since Andreea has been struggling for the entire year. It’s crazy to think that the team has more confidence to an athlete like Larisa Iordache, who hasn’t competed for the whole year, or Catalina Ponor, who is just coming back to the sport, or even Diana Bulimar, who recently had surgery instead of this year’s European champion but Andreea hasn’t been progressing for a long time. However, she will still have a chance to fight for a spot on the team at the upcoming Romanian nationals.

After lots of drama and questions, Olympic and World champion Aliya Mustafina, is part of Russia’s nominative team. Aliya was supposed to take a break in order to let her body rest but it seems like she changed her mind and she has set her mind to Glasgow. If it was anyone else I would doubt whether or not she’d be able to come back in shape but Aliya has achieved more surprising things in the past.

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photo by Christy Ann Linder

And then we have USA which is undoubtedly the best team in the world right now. Most gymnastics fans agreed that Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Bailie Key and Maggie Nichols are going to be part of the team while the last member would be someone between Madison Kocian, MyKayla Skinner or Alyssa Baumann. However, to everyone’s surprise, Bailie Key, who had consistently been top 5 All Around and top 3 on bars and floor was actually not in the nominative list while the last member of that nominative team was Brenna Dowell out of all people. Νοw, I root for Brenna just as hard as everyone else, I would LOVE to see her competing at the sport’s highest stage after coming so close in the past and I actually think she could fit very well into the team. Ηer bars set is one of the most exciting ones being done in the world and if I definitely prefer it to a routine like Kocian’s, which is obviously awesome but it’s very similar to a million other routines we’ll see.

Let’s see how Brenna would fit into a team of Biles, Raisman, Douglas, Nichols and Skinner.

VT: (Gabby/Aly), Maggie, Brenna, MyKayla, Simone (maybe 6.3 if she gets her amanar back if not 5.8/ 6.3/6.3/6.4/6.3)

UB: (Aly) Maggie, Simone, Gabby, Brenna (5.8, 6.0 6.1, 6.4, 6.7)

BB: (MyKayla) Maggie, Gabby, Aly, Simone (6.0, 5.9/6.2, 6.3, 6.8. 6.9)

FX: (Brenna/Gabby) Maggie, MyKayla, Aly, Simone (5.8/5.8, 6.0, 6.5, 6.7, 6.8)

start value with four events counting (qualifications): 103/102.7

start value with three events counting (team finals): 78.2

If MyKayla Skinner is the alternate and Madison Kocian is part of the team we have:

VT: (Gabby/Aly), Gabby/Ally, Maggie, Brenna, Simone (6.3 + 6.3 + 6.3 + 6.3)

UB: (Aly/Maggie) Simone, Gabby, Brenna, Madison (6.1, 6.4, 6.7, 6.5)

BB: (Madison) Maggie, Gabby, Aly, Simone (5.8, 6.2/5.9, 6.4, 6.8, 6.9)

FX: (Gabby) Brenna, Maggie, Aly, Simone (5.8, 5.8, 6.0 6.7, 6.8)

start value with 4 scores counting: 102.5/102.2

start value with 3 events counting: 78.1

(team start values without Brenna here)

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photo by Christy Ann Linder

I counted Brenna’s vault as an amanar because I think that she doesn’t even have a chance of being considered unless she’s capable of that skill. Now those are some massive numbers, and if Brenna makes the team instead of Bailie, their difficulty total will be higher. However, nobody ever doubted that Dowell is ridiculously talented and capable of amazing skills. The problem always was her lack of consistency. In fact, with an amanar and her fabulous bars set she would be an ideal pick for team USA but the problem is that having a high start value is not enough, you also need to prove you can hit your routines under pressure and Dowell hasn’t done that. The thing Marta values the most is consistency. She wants her athletes to train the same routines over and over again for months so they can go out there and compete them without any errors at the major competitions. Every athlete in contention for the worlds team has been training like that for the whole year but Brenna only had a couple of months to put full routines together and I’m not sure if Marta would trust her. In addition to that, she often does great at camp and then underperforms at competitions. It’s not that she has meltdowns and falls multiple times during the same routine but she’s just not as sharp and as solid as she should be. From what we’ve learned, Brenna was great at the last training camp but that doesn’t mean that she will be great at worlds too and Marta knows that. On the other hand, Bailie Key has barely had any mistakes for the entire year and she has proven she can handle the pressure at the Jesolo Trophy, the Secret Classic and the National championships. Her start values are a bit lower, but she will probably receive higher execution scores because she’s cleaner and more consistent than Brenna so I’m having a hard time leaving her home. Meanwhile, with Paseka looking strong, Skinner’s chances for a vault medal don’t seem as great as before and since the main reason why they’d take her to worlds was an extra individual medal, I’m not sure she’ll be getting a ticket to Glasgow. The official team USA will be announced after the conclusion of the next training camp so we just have to be patient until then. I don’t want to say that Dowell has absolutely no chance to be considered, but she would need to stick one amanar after the other and to nail every single bars routine in order to just be in the mix for an alternate spot.

There are no other major surprises in the list and even though I wish Tea Ugrin was part of team Italy and I’m ridiculously excited to see Roxana Popa, who was diagnosed with a torn ACL at the end of last year to be part of the Spanish I can’t say that I’m shocked by any of those things

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8 thoughts on “The surprises of the nominative list

  1. You never know how a final will turn out so leaving skinner at home because her chances in a VT final are 1/4 (if we count Hong, Biles, Paseka, and herself) doesn’t make sense… after all, that’s still higher than any Americans chances of a medal on UB (so why bring kocian or Dowell at that rate?). The point is always to optimize your event finals placings, so if you can get two into every final, wouldnt you choose the option that gives you the maximum medal potential? Besides, Skinner scores higher internationally (15.7 range with her cheng and she’s been seriously training the amanar for Camp). Steingruber has back problems and is doing fty’s as we speak; she’s downgraded her entire vt/fx/bb program so Skinner’s chances of a medal are actually more like 35%, stronger than most other EF chances for USA even though we have a great team. Hong was injured in Spring as well, so who are we really kidding? Skinner goes because its not so much a question of why we should send her but ‘why not?’ Her domestic fx scores match up to her 2014 World’s scores (lest ppl conveniently forget again that Skinner has been tested and proven) so she’s reliable as a TF floor option.

    She’s also the only girl on this team smart enough to realize that supply and demand is king. Last quad it was bars. This quad USA needs a girl with a second vault.

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    1. Hi, I never said MyKayla has no chance to go to worlds. She clearly is a top contender and my predicted team is: Biles, Raisman, Douglas, Nichols, Key and then either Skinner or Kocian.

      USA’s main focus has always been the team. Obviously, theyy are the top contenders and they can win by quite a big margin but their goal is to have the highest team scoring potential possible and a bars specialist will help them do that. Simone will probably score between 14.7 – 15 on bars while someone like Kocian will score between 15 – 15.4 for a hit routine so she could improve the team’s total just as much as MyKayla would which is why I think that those two are the ones fighting for the last spot in my opinion. I just think that MyKayla’s chances would be even better if she was guaranteed a vault medal if she hit and this is not the case right now.

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  2. The nominative list this year shows that Marta is throwing a curveball by maximizing event scores rather than just AA.

    There is only one reason why Brenna would make the team: a strong bar worker with an amanar. Brenna did verify the amanar at camp so I would go ahead and count her amanar in your team calculation. We haven’t seen how it looks now but her 2014 amanar looks a little better than aly’s current one. As for ub, she got 2nd at last camp so she certainly has the ability to put up great bar score. I agree with everyone about her reliability too but maybe she’s peaking right now and is more reliable at camp on her pet event? The point is that Marta is privileged to this kind of information that we aren’t. If Marta decide to bring Brenna at the end, I would trust her in that but we will have to wait and see…

    I do think Key has more overall value than Brenna. Key has a better reliability track record. However, if Marta wants a good bar worker with an amanar, key will need to step up. It would help key case a lot if she can bring up an amanar by next camp and step up her ub. She and Brenna are sort of going for the same position and Brenna is up right now due to her amanar. Even if Key is not selected for Glasgow, she is still absolutely in the running but she would know exactly what to do.

    Which bring us back to Maggie. If you have a strong bar worker with an amanar, there is unfortunately no more reason to have Maggie doing any routine now since she wasn’t top3 anywhere else aside from vt but now everyone got amanar…. On the other hand, bc of how balanced she is that makes her an exceptional alternate, the best alternate ever IMO, crazy bc in ANY other team in the world, she would be a front runner…

    Christina, you should do your line up calculation with this proposed team. I think this line up would give the highest SV:

    VT: (Raisman, Dowell) Douglas, Skinner, Biles
    UB: (Raisman, Biles) Dowell, Douglas, Kocian
    BB: (Kocian, Skinner) Douglas, Raisman, Biles
    FX: (Dowell/Kocian, Douglas) Skinner, Raisman, Biles

    Final note, Larisa got an impressive 60.95 at Romanian nationals. Even if we bring up score inflation at nationals, I still think it’s very impressive. She will certain challenge whoever the 2nd US AA is. This will make AA final very interesting.

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    1. I actually agree that vault is the only event where Maggie could contribute in team finals so if other people appeared with amanars she wouldn’t be THAT useful but after how well she has done I just can’t leave her at home, like she was 2nd AA at nationals, that has to count for something

      VT: (Raisman, Dowell) Douglas, Skinner, Biles 6.3 x 3 + 6.4 (assuming everyone has amanars)
      UB: (Raisman, Biles) Dowell, Douglas, Kocian 5.8, 6.1, 6.7 6.4 6.5
      BB: (Kocian, Skinner) Douglas, Raisman, Biles 5.8, 6.0, 6.4, 6.8. 6.9
      FX: (Dowell/Kocian, Douglas) Skinner, Raisman, Biles: 5.8 for all three of them, 6.5, 6.7 6.8
      102.9 with 4 scores counting an 78.7 with three scores counting on each event

      Which proves that if Brenna has an amanar similar to the one she had in 2013 (which imo is just as good as Maggie’s) and she could hit her bars set she would be perfect for that team. I definitely believe that. But the question is, can she do that? And the truth is that she has never done her absolute best during a competition and this is why Marta generally doesn’t really trust her.

      Larisa proved that she still is right up there with the best in the world and I definitely think she will challenge for the AA podium. I’ll definitely write more about Romanian nationals

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  3. Honestly, with Raisman, Gabby, Mykayla, and Simones vt, this team doesn’t even really need Key to do an amanar, but they do need Key to get better score in ub. It just that Brenna right now seems to be a little ahead of the game. I do agree about reliability factor but we will just have to see how this works out. Regardless, at this time this single position is a fight between Key and Brenna.

    Believe me, I don’t feel good about Maggie situation either and her 2nd at p&g should count for something, but even with Key replacing Brenna, we would still be back to where Maggie doesn’t have any top3 to use in TF. And that is what it will come down to at the end of the day for a team line up as evident by the calculations. Maggie fits that alternate role so perfectly bc you can count on her evenness and reliability and relatively high score as a back up role if an emergency comes up. Unfortunately there’s really no other way and I think even Maggie probably has realized that herself. But she should not be at all disappointed. She knows exactly what she needs to do to be in better position for Rio.

    Good thing about it is that she will have the easiest time getting a gold medal in TF, by doing nothing at all. And if there’s anytime at all an alternate deserve to also get a gold medal by just being alternate, Maggie totally deserve that gold!!

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  4. Kyla has officially dropped herself from worlds selection :(.. not unexpected but still sad …. hope she will come back to kick ads in 2016

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