Wednesday, September 21, 2011

USAG names Worlds & Pan Am squads

Howdy Kittens,

Catty Comments here! Your USA women's gymnastics teams for 2011 Worlds and Pan Ams have just been named, and they are:

2011 Women's World Championships Team
Oct. 7-16, 2011, Tokyo, Japan
Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va./Chow's Gymnastics and Dance Institute
Anna Li, Aurora, Ill./Legacy Elite Gymnastics LLC
McKayla Maroney, Laguna Niguel, Calif./All Olympia AOGC
Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass./Brestyan's American Gymnastics
Alicia Sacramone, Winchester, Mass./Brestyan's American Gymnastics
Sabrina Vega, Carmel, N.Y./Dynamic Gymnastics
Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich./Gedderts' Twistars USA
Non- traveling alternate: Shawn Johnson, West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow's Gymnastics and Dance Institute

Head coach: John Geddert of Geddert's Twistars USA
Asst. coach: Jiani Wu of Legacy Elite

2011 Women's Pan American Games Team
Oct. 24-29, Guadalajara, Mexico
Bridgette Caquatto, Naperville, Ill./Legacy Elite Gymnastics LLC
Jessie DeZiel, Rogers, Minn./Twin City Twisters
Brandie Jay, Ft Collins, Colo./GK Gymnastics
Shawn Johnson, West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow's Gymnastics and Dance Institute
Chellsie Memmel, West Allis, Wis./M and M Gymnastics
Bridget Sloan, Pittsboro, Ind./Sharp's Gymnastics Academy
Replacement athletes
Grace McLaughlin, Allen, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics
Hallie Mossett, Los Angeles, Calif./West Coast Elite Gymnastics
McKenzie Wofford, McKinney, Texas/Zenith Elite Gymnastics Academy

Head coach: Marvin Sharp of Sharp's Gymnastics
Asst. coach: Jiani Wu

What's notable is the youth movement Marta went with for the Worlds team. I'm so happy that she's throwing down for Olympic gold, and the team title this year is secondary. The only athletes with Worlds experience on the team are Raisman & Sacramone. Her risks ensure that she will have as much Worlds experience as possible from all of her major 2012 Olympic contenders. Marta will know exactly how all of these girls perform in big competitions before selecting a team for London.

Right now, Vega is assumed to be the alternate. She's a gorgeous, solid AA gymnast with no major weaknesses and no major difficulty scores. And she can actually dance.

Douglas is a HUGE risk - she is an excellent AA athlete with a good bars routine who is highly unpredictable in competition. She can hit, or she can completely melt down. Hopefully Marta can work the same training magic with Gabby that she did last year with the then-inconsistent Raisman. Either way, she will soon know what Gabby is capable of in major competition.

One-event wonder Anna Li is the feel-good Blind Side athlete of the year. In a major motion picture of this team, Morgan Freeman will narrate Anna Li's story. A recent UCLA graduate, instead of giving up on her Olympic dreams, she buckled down, continued to train at UCLA, then AOGC, then returned home to be once again coached by her parents at Legacy Elite, who happen to be the Team USA bars coaches du jour. SHE'S NOT EVEN ON THE NATIONAL TEAM. Yet here she is, gunning for London and gutting her way onto a Worlds team.

My TF lineup predictions are:
VT: Wieber, Sacramone, Maroney
BA: Douglas, Wieber, Li
BM: Sacramone, Clubfoot the Raisman, Wieber
FX: Sacramone or Maroney, Clubfoot, Wieber

This leaves the Pan Am team with three former World AA champions - Sloan, Memmel & Johnson. None of them are happy to be named to the B team. However, if any make lame excuses for dropping out of the competition, Marta will NOT be happy. I think they're stuck going to Guadalajara and getting a tan sandwiched between training sessions to impress Marta with their desire to make the London Olympic team.


  1. Bizarre. I know they were pushed into a corner with the injuries to Bross and Macko, but Douglas? Really? The meltdown queen? And when was the last time a non-national team member made a World or Pan Am team??? That's got to be a first. I think Marta's toying with the minds of Johnson, Memmel, and Sloan to find out how bad they really want it next year. Considering the overall inexperience of our Worlds team, I think a bronze would be huge in Tokyo.

  2. This decision was made simple once Macko and Chellsie Memmel became broken. (And who the heck knows where Bridget Sloan was start value wise in her comeback from injury).

    Literally, the only two girls remaining with good UB start values (even if they are way risky) are Anna and Gabby Douglas.

    I'm starting to think that Marta has all these training camps because she knows some of the girls will break, some will get healthy, and then the team will pretty much just pick itself without her having to do a damn thing.

  3. I love the people questioning this decision. Please tell me who you would have do bars... Gabby is a mess, but she can sometimes do a good bar routine. And she can screw up her bar set and probably still outscore Shawn Johnson's weak set. And Chellsie's shoulder problem prevented her from going full out in camp.

    So who do you want doing bars in Finals at Worlds? Raisman? THREE girls on this team are weak on bars, so who do you select? Do you take the risk of Chellsie's shoulder popping out mid-routine or do you take the risk that Gabby Douglass may crash and burn? If Chellsie has to pull out, she scores a 0 and the team gets 8th. At least if Gabby blows it, they can still challenge for a medal.

    The rest of the world isn't that great right now. Mustafina is out injured and Komova isn't at full strength. Romania's best gymnast is not yet a Senior and Izbasa is injured. China can't vault or do floor. This team has as good of a chance as anyone to win, even if they fall.

  4. Anon at 9:28.....and if Gabby balks on bars, like she did on beam at Nats, we're toast. I would have taken Memmel. Her shoulder has popped out on bars at Worlds before, and she kept right on competing. She's tougher and she's more experienced.

  5. Anna Li is basically a one-event gymnasts at this point, unless there's a beam emergency. If she blows bars at Worlds - like she did at Nationals - she can kiss London goodbye.

  6. Considering that Douglas has been fairly consistent on bars and the reports were that she has been hitting at camp, I'm not sure why it's so surprising that she was named to the team. I'm not sold on her, but she is one of the few gymnasts who is uninjured enough to compete AND can hit a bar routine with a good start value.

    Chellsie probably was not ready, B Caquatto (unlike Douglas) cannot hit her 6.5 set, we have no idea what Sloan looks like, and Shawn only has a 5.5 D score, almost a point lower than Douglas. That's not going to cut it at Worlds. I do worry that all 3 of the UB TF girls are iffy on handstands, but they were the best that the US has to offer.

    I like the team for 2 reasons: 1) Marta is going for broke with the highest scoring potential. It's a risky team, but it's better to take the risk now than in 2012, and that leads me to 2) Marta has created a situation where everyone who looks to be a contender for the Olympics (other than B. Caquatto and Ross) will have big time international experience. Even if Gabbyy and Anna melt down, she knows that they can't be trusted in London.

    Winning gold in 2012 is the ultimate goal, and this team's performance will either muddy that picture if the girls handle the pressure well or if they crumble under the pressure, then Marta knows who to cross off the list.

  7. You really don't need any conspiracy theories to understand this one. We were screwed after Macko (and before her Memmel and Bross) got broken. Li and Douglas make sense for bars even given their riskiness. REally if Johnson had been picked instead, then we would have reason for thinking there was something finky going on. And I say this being a Johnson supporter.

    Shawn needs more time and higher scores. Memmel has a screwed up shoulder (that thing DID sublux and they were trying to hide how bad it was...Marta called that "I saw it come out on the video"). Sloan has still shown nothing publicly and we have no clue where she is in terms of coming back.

    The whole thing makes a lot of sense.

    Even Vega instead of Johnson for the alternate makes sense since Vega has a solid 4 events and Johnson has not shown floor yet (and had previous chances to do so, but did not have it yet, so it is not jus the ankle...knee is a concern also.)

  8. When you think about it, this is a great time to use Worlds as a "testing ground" to see who can hack it and who can't. Romania's in a rebuilding phase and would be happy with bronze, and Russia is missing it's biggest star. In a Worlds field that is relatively "thin," Marta can throw a risky team out there and presumably still have them end up on the podium.

  9. Yeah, there are serious handstand issues in this bar lineup (including Wieber who is getting overscored in the US on bars), but we don't have any other choices. Everyone else is injured, or their start values are crap, or they are woefully inconsistent. And Memmel did not show full bar sets at camp earlier in the week, so she's still probably dealing with the shoulder problem, and that is just an even bigger risk to ask her to be a bar specialist right now.
    I hate that people are going to judge these girls' mental capabilities based on Worlds. One competition is not enough to judge anybody. They are human and sometimes will just screw up. But sadly, because they only compete at 2-3 competitions a year, we end up judging them based on one or two routines and will say they can't mentally handle it if they screw up these Worlds. Ugh.

  10. I can only speculate as to what a great gymnast Anna Li would have become if she had not wasted some of her finest years at UCLA. I would have thought after that time that she would have at least had a good floor routine. It was just a sad case of a coach who could not pull the best out of one very talented gymnast,

  11. I don't know what crack you're smoking but anna was great at ucla. She needed to be there. If she kept training elite that whole time she we be in a wheelchair now knowing her history of injuries. Our elite system destroys athletes while ncaa let's them actually have fun. Which sounds like a better option to you?

  12. I think it's crazy that Wofford wasn't named to either team. She's got decent bars- something we need. Plus her lines would likely appeal to international judges. HOWEVER, looks like all of the rumors about her having a meltdown at camp are true. Don't cross Martha or Valeri. Yikes.

  13. Anon at 11:31, I think people are moreso saying that if Li and Douglas meltdown, they will be done for London as opposed to saying that they have to be free of mistakes. It does suck that they're aren't more opportunities to see these girls in pressure (team) situations though.

    From some of the message board comments that I've seen, I also think people forget that their favorites weren't always rock solid. Shawn fell 4 times at her first Worlds. Bridget was a bit of a mess at Olympic Trials (and to this day, she's not solid on beam), but she was given another shot at camp and hit at the Olympics. Terin is another one who wasn't known for her consistency, but she hit her one event in 2003 and then performed very well in 2004 in Athens. I think it's good to give new people experience, so Marta has the best information going into London.

  14. I was surprised they didn't take Shawn. She won beam at the first selection camp and has been doing really well on that event since she added her full back in. Yes we don't have people for UB but we don't have extremely strong beamers either. Many thought they would take Shawn instead of Li and if they had to, put her up first on UB in team finals--she still has a solid routine w/good execution (ONE OF THE ONLY ONES of the group WITH GOOD HANDSTANDS) and can be relied upon to hit (and then Gabby and Wieber), and stack beam with Shawn, Wieber and Sacramone to compensate for the lower UB SVs. Take Sloan as the alternate since she is said to have been doing well w/bars in her comeback so if they get to Tokyo and Dougie flips out, Sloan could step in for that position. Either way I don't think Li is proven as an elite or that she is amazing enough on UB to essentially be taken as a one even specialist--its crazy. Its one thing to take a one-eventer if its Nastia for ex., but Anna Li? No.

  15. Agree with anon above. Though for someone like Douglas (& Vega if she is called to perform) one might worry what their mental state will be moving forward if they DONT hit. Think of Mattie Larson last year at Worlda. Her poor performance on floor really seemed to affect her going forward. Worlds is a big stage to mess up being so young ESPECiALLY the year before the olympics.

  16. I think Shawn Johnson is in a very good position—if she impresses at Pan Am. Marta will take note. If not, not such a big loss there and she won’t get ‘crossed’ off London.

    To be honest I think China has the most solid lineup and shot for gold, as long as headcase Huang stays alternate and doesn’t go into the rotation. Sometime between last year’s worlds and the World Cup, China’s girls have really emerged.

  17. Anon at 7:30
    Wofford just got a cast off her foot like a week or two ago. Bars are completely ready and I guess beam has been looking pretty good, but why rush it or take her to Pan Ams without floor or vault ready.

  18. I'm sorry, but when has Raisman been inconsistent? Granted she's horrible to watch, but I don't think she's ever been a headcase...

  19. Well this is the 2009 Visa Day 2 FX routine Raisman threw when she was about to win the Junior AA title.

    And this is her 2010 Visa Day 2 beam routine where she rocked the 1st part of the routine, then touched the beam on a leap, and then almost knocked her head on the dismount.

    And numerous issues hitting bars, but it's not like anyone cares about her bars at this point.

  20. Anna Li does not have a great routine. She never hits her handstands and she always makes some mistake.

    She should thank her mother. Marta's pet for making this team because she did not earn it.

  21. This team makes sense given the situation: Macko is out, Memmel bars set is not difficult enough and she did not even perform a full set every day at camp, Johnson is currently a 3 event gymnast and her strongest even is NOT bars. China has team with bar sets ranging from 6.8-7.1. Russia also has high bars start values.

    Team USA had no choice to add Anna Li, and Gabby because they come the closest along with Wieber to matching the other teams. Otherwise, we would be giving our advantage on vault right back. I imagine Gabby will be restricted from beam and maybe even floor if necessary and mainly focus her for bars which she usually hits.

  22. Catty Comments, sure she's fallen before, but I don't think this makes her a headcase per se. Going by your definition, every single US gymnast (except maybe S. Johnson, but even that is arguable) would qualify as a headcase... For instance, Liukin had slip-ups on beam at Nationals both in 2005 and 2006, but I don't think anyone would really call her inconsistent.

    Moreover, at that time, Raisman's troubles on floor were more often than not related to the triple full (way high but barely rotated), which leads me to the conclusion that this particular skill was the problem, not a headcasey personality. Once the technical issues were fixed, she stopped falling on the skill. I guess I should have worded my comment better - I felt like your assessment was that Raisman was a headcase and that Marta had "fixed" her, and I disagree with that, but I do agree on the fact that the triple full was inconsistent. However, I feel like the inconsistence was limited to this particular skill (and to the endurance issues linked to the execution of that skill, like stumbling forward on the double pike), and that it went away once she started to perform it better, mostly due to Mihai's or whoever else's technical coaching, not to Marta's intervention.

    As for beam, almost every US girl has fallen at least once or twice in a major meet, so I don't consider one (two with this year) fall off beam a inconsistency issue, nor do I think Marta had anything to do with Raisman not falling off beam after 2009 except for Nationals this year.

    Wow, big case made for a gymnast I honestly don't like that much! Sorry for the novel and I hope it is understandable, as English isn't my first language. As an aside, I love your live commentary and I hope you will cover Worlds this year!

  23. Raisman HAS been inconsistent in the past, but inconsistent is different from "head case", which I don't think anyone was trying to accuse her of (boring, styleless and robotic is a different story).
    I am looking forward to Worlds, at least it will interesting! Somebody start popping the popcorn! We need to start a pool.

  24. I say 1 out of 3 odds that they break someone and SJ has to fly out. Next bet?

  25. WHOA. Anon at 6:45PM that was talking about Raisman.

    English isn't your first language? REALLY? Because you just spoke with way better grammar, spelling, and punctuation than my university students do when they email me or try to talk to me after class.

    Sweet lord.

  26. Anon @ 6:45pm:

    1) Your English is really, really good. I would never have guessed it wasn't your first language!

    2) Please look twice - never in entire post or the comments did I call Raisman a "headcase." I maintain she was inconsistent prior to making the 2010 World team. Imo she has become a much, much more consistent competitor ever since. My assumption and my sources say that Marta really worked with her in preparation for Worlds.

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