A Little Olympic Preview
I really wanted to write more, but somehow I didn’t leave myself enough time, so here is a preview of team finals and the all around.
The Team Competition
As always, the medal contenders in the team competition will be the USA, Russia, Romania and China.
It’s easy to say for the team competition because there are only 12 possibilities. I’d say that Brazil is probably out. Great Britain, Japan, Canada, Italy, France, Australia and Germany all have a shot. Germany, after their surprise 6th at worlds last year, has seemed weaker, and they seemed to pick a team based on potential individual results, not team qualification, so they may be out. After a disappointing 5th at worlds, Australia could be in trouble, but they have looked pretty good. I know that I want Canada and Great Britain to make it. I guess if I had to predict, it would be Canada, Great Britain, Japan and Italy, but that could be 100% incorrect.
I want to say USA first, Romania second, Russia third.
I think it’s a pretty safe bet, in that I’m not counting on any team to do something that they have not been doing lately. Leaving the defending team champion off of the podium may seem crazy to casual fans, but the US and Russia have undeniably been the two powers of the quad and Romania may be gunning for the top spot with their revived team. The US looks good for gold, but it’s not 100% locked up. Russia could win or implode. I trust that Romania will hit, hit, hit, even though they haven’t exactly been doing that at worlds during this quadrennium.
What will it come down to?
As always, you hope that it comes down to the little things, stuck landings and all, and then if your favorite loses, you always blame that one landing. Really, though, I think it depends on a variety of factors. The US has the vault advantage, but Russia should have two Amanars (there would be no reason to take Paseka without one, and Komova has been shown training it), Romania should have at least one Amanar (Iordache), maybe a Cheng (Izbasa) and possibly an Amanar from Ponor and China has one from Huang. If bars scores for the Chinese look like what they have lately, they’re going to have a hard time, because a monstrous beam rotation (probably 2 world champions and a world silver medallist) can’t pull them out of the hole they are going to be in. For Russia, bars is the only sure bet. If I could watch this live, I would have a very hard time sitting through their vault rotation (no ACLs, please), their beam rotation (2 of Grishina, Komova and Afanasyeva) and their floor rotation (remember Euros?). It could actually be quite terrifying. Romania will hit routine after routine, but they’re going to be the only top team counting a 13 without a fall. The US team looks good everywhere and will be a force to be reckoned with. I expect something like 1st on vault, 2nd or 3rd on bars and beam and 2nd on floor from them.
The All Around Competition
Gabrielle Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, Alexandra Raisman if one of them has lots of trouble in prelims, Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova, Yao Jinnan and Larisa Iordache. I don’t see anyone stopping that from being the group that starts on vault, unless one of them falls in prelims and Huang Qiushuang hits everything.
This is a little bit tougher, because there are so many of them. I won’t try to make up an entire list, but here’s who I’d like to see: Sandra Izbasa, Hannah Whelan, Elisabeth Seitz, Celine Van Gerner, Kristina Vaculik, Victoria Moors, Anne Kuhm, Vanessa Ferrari and Carlotta Ferlito.