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The U.S. Olympic Trials in Artistic Gymnastics in St. Louis concluded on Sunday with the second All-Around for the women, starring– of course – Simone Biles. She, Suni Lee and Jordan Chiles were well in front on Friday, scoring 57-plus, and three others in the 56s: Grace McCallum, Kayla DiCello and MyKayla Skinner.
Biles and the other prime contenders for the U.S. team started on Vault, with Biles scoring 15.400, just slightly less than on Friday (15.466). She was followed by Lee at 14.600, 0.200 better than on Friday and Chiles, scoring 14.933, just 0.033 less than in the first All-Around.
The fight was behind these three leaders, with DiCello, a surprise fourth in the first All-Around, scoring 14.833 on Vault. McCallum followed with a 14.766, keeping her in the mix; she was fifth on Friday.
Meanwhile, Riley McCusker, who was so brilliant on the Uneven Bars on Friday in her only event, fell on her first movement and scored only 13.566 as compared to 14.800. Will this end her chances for Tokyo?
Skinner scored 13.500 on Uneven Bars, an improvement from 13.466 on Friday. Jade Carey, on the team as a specialist through the FIG Apparatus World Cup program, had a tough time on the Uneven Bars on Friday (11.300), but rebounded with a nice routine and a 13.733 score.
Chiles started the Uneven Bars and improved to 14.433 from 14.300 on Friday. DiCello had trouble with a bad release, and scored just 12.800 (vs. 13.966). McCallum improved on Bars from 13.833 to 14.000, a real help for her.
The Uneven Bars and Biles have not always been on the best terms, but she had the no. 2 score on Friday at 14.600. She had a gaffe on an early move on the low bar, and had a skip on the landing, and scored significantly lower at 13.833. Lee followed her brilliant Friday routine (15.300) with not quite as perfect a program, but still the high scorer at 14.900.
Skinner moved to Beam, and had some difficulties, but stayed on and scored 13.400, down from the 14.133 she scored previously. Carey improved from Friday, scoring 14.433.
McCallum had a slight wobble on Beam, but scored 13.800, just short of the 13.866 she got on Friday. Biles, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, fell in mid-routine, and scored 13.700, well behind the 15.133 she scored on the first night. Lee was excellent with a triple somersault mid-routine and another on the dismount, and matched her 14.733 from Friday. Chiles was solid and stuck the dismount after a somersault and a full twist, scoring 13.900, down from 14.233.
Leanne Wong drew a lot of notice for her 14.233 on Floor, followed by Skinner, who executed a powerful tumbling routine on Floor, but stepped out on an early pass that cost her 0.300, resulting in a score of 13.500 vs. 13.866 on Friday.
McCallum flew out of bounds on an early tumbling run, suffering a significant deduction, earning 13.500 vs. 14.166 on Friday. Biles was sensational as always on Floor, developing sensational power on her patented double somersault with three twists tumbling run. But she stepped out with one foot on her first two tumbling runs, still scoring 14.600 vs. 15.366 previously. Lee followed with an elegant routine, with no major errors, earning 13.933, a bit step up from Friday’s 13.233.
Chiles was excellent on her Floor routine, hitting her tumbling passes and staying in control, bursting into tears as she walked off the podium. She shortly had reason to be happy, as she was rewarded with a score of 14.233, up 6/10ths from the first All-Around. DiCello skipped out of bounds on the first tumbling pass, scoring 13.500 vs. 13.966 from Friday.
Skinner was on Vault, displaying great speed and power, scoring 15.266 with just a step on the landing. That was better than her Friday score (15.133) and second only to Biles on Vault on the night. Wong was very good on her Vault, scoring 14.700, the same as on the first night.
Sunday’s All-Around scores actually showed Lee beating Biles (!), 58.166-57.533, with Chiles third at 57.499, a step above all others. The two-session scores had Biles the winner at 118.098, followed by Lee (115.832) and Chiles (114.631).
Then came the contenders for the final spots; McCallum was fourth at 112.564, Skinner fifth at 112.264 and DiCello in sixth at 111.231.
At the Trials, the two-Session event winners were Biles on Vault, Lee (30.200) on Bars, Lee on Beam (29.466) and Biles on Floor (29.966.)
The pressure of Sunday’s Trials was enormous and it showed on the competitors, but at the end, the Tokyo team was named with a view to the best scoring potential in the Team event. Biles, Lee and Chiles were obvious selections; the USA Gymnastics selection panel announced McCallum as the fourth member, plus Skinner as an individual competitor. The latter scored 30.399 on Vault on Sunday, second only to Biles’ 30.866.
Carey had already qualified as an individual. They’re on the plane, and the U.S. women will be favored to win a third straight Olympic Team gold in a little more than a month.
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