Everything You Need To Know Before The Women’s Gymnastics Team Final
If you aren't watching the USA Women's Gymnastics team in the Olympics then you're either way out of the loop, or you just really hate winning. If either of those is the case, then you've come to the right place to get straightened out. So welcome aboard.
There is no American team in Rio that is more dominant in their sport right now than the women's gymnastics squad. Led by Simone Biles, hailed as the best gymnast in the world and possibly the greatest American gymnast of all time, the five women competing on behalf of the United States absolutely obliterated the competition during the qualifying round this past Sunday.
Sunday was the day for every team and athlete to give their best performances in order to qualify for not just the team final, but for the all-around final and the individual apparatus finals as well. Each of the five women on Team USA qualified for at least one individual apparatus final, and Biles and team captain Aly Raisman will compete in the all-around. But that will all take place on Thursday, August 11th.
We're here to break down what you need to know for the team final on Tuesday, August 9th. The women's gymnastics team final is one of the most anticipated events of any Summer Olympics, and Team USA is one of the heaviest favorites in Olympic history. If you are even a semi-patriotic sports fan, you will be hooked; even if you've never watched a day of gymnastics in your life. NBC has done a fantastic job with their prime time broadcasts so far, and Tim Daggett and Nastia Liukin are an exceptional commentating team that is informative and experienced. In other words, they will make sure that you understand what's going on.
Still, a cheat sheet never hurt anyone. So here is everything that you need to know before the women's team final on Tuesday night:
1. The five women on the USA Women's Olympic Gymnastics team are Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian.
Simone Biles is 19 years old. She is a first-time Olympian but is the three-time World Champion, with 10 World Championship medals and 14 WC medals overall.
Aly Raisman is the team captain and the oldest member at age 22. She was a member of the United States gold medal team in London, and she is the reigning Olympic gold medalist on the floor.
Gabby Douglas is 20 years old, and she was also a member of the United States gold medal team in London. She is the reigning Olympic all-around gold medalist.
Laurie Hernandez is the youngest member of the team at 16 years old and she is a first-time Olympian. She finished 2nd in the all-around at the 2015 World Championships, and is also a beam specialist; although she failed to qualify for the beam finals in Rio.
Madison Kocian is 19 years old and she is a first-time Olympian. Her role on the team is as an uneven bars specialist, on which she is the reigning world champion. She had the top overall score on the bars in Sunday's qualifying round, making it the only event in which Biles did not receive the top score.
2. The USA is one of eight teams that qualified to compete for the gold, silver & bronze in the team final.
The points that teams accumulated on Sunday to qualify for the team final are thrown out and everyone starts from scratch on Tuesday. But that doesn't mean that the rankings within the top 8 are meaningless. Here is how everything shook out on Sunday:
1st - USA: 185.238
2nd - China: 175.279
3rd - Russia: 174.620
4th - Great Britain: 174.064
5th - Brazil: 174.054
6th - Germany: 173.263
7th - Japan: 172.564
8th - Netherlands: 171.929
So those are the eight teams you will see competing on Tuesday night, and the point totals next to them are the accumulated scores of each team on each of the events: floor, uneven bars, vault and balance beam. Four team members competed on every event, and the top three scores were taken to be put toward the team total.
As you can see, the United States finished 10 full points ahead of second place China. The point differential between China and eighth place Netherlands was less than four. So it was basically a race for second place, which is how people anticipate the final shaking out. But make no mistake about it, the chance for an upset in this competition is there. Nothing is ever a given in gymnastics, and the Chinese and Russian teams are still spectacular.
3. Team USA is favored to have the highest score in every single event.
After the way qualifying shook out, the American women are now favored to put together the highest overall score in every single event. Unlike in qualifying, only three team members will compete in each event, and all three scores will count; so the stakes are higher. As it stands right now, this is who is projected to compete in each event for USA in the team final:
Floor: Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas or Laurie Hernandez
Balance beam: Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez
Uneven Bars: Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian
Vault: Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas
4. The scoring system isn't quite as intimidating once you understand how it works.
Despite what you might know from the lore of Olympics past, there is no such thing as a "perfect 10" anymore. It makes things a little less black and white, but allows for a much wider range of additions for difficulty and deductions for mistakes.
So the way it works is that there are three separate panels of judges; each of which takes on the task of assessing a specific part of the routine. The first panel starts off at zero, then adds points every time the gymnast meets the requirements for that specific events, and also adds points when they successfully perform difficult moves. They are also known as the "D (difficulty)" panel.
The second panel starts off each score at 10, then deducts points for a lack of execution or artistry. So if you see a stumble or a fall or a hop on the landing, this is the panel that will assess the deductions for that mistake. They are also known as the "E (execution)" panel.
Those two scores are added together for the final total score, and a third two-judge reference panel is charged with checking the scores from the other two panels and making sure they are correct.
That's not so bad, right?!
5. Tuesday's team final will be London-star Gabby Douglas' time to shine, as she failed to qualify to compete in the individual all-around.
The most coveted title for any gymnast is to be named the Olympic all-around gold medalist. The United States women have taken home that honor for the last three Olympics, including most recently in London in 2012 when Gabby Douglas won the all-around gold.
So you might be wondering why Douglas didn't qualify to compete for the all-around this time around, and that's a fair question; and one that has become a topic of controversy. Only two women from each country are allowed to compete in the all-around final. So despite the fact that she finished ahead of everyone else in the field of 24 finalists outside of her two teammates, she is ineligible to move on.
Just to give you an idea of how much that blows for Douglas, take a look at the scores of the top 8 all-around finalists:
1st- Simone Biles (62.366)
2nd- Aly Raisman (60.607)
3rd- Gabby Douglas (60.131) *didn't qualify
4th- Rebecca Andrade (58.732)
5th- Seda Tutkhalyan (58.207)
6th- Aliya Mustafina (58.098)
7th- Wang Yan (57.599)
8th- Eythora Thorsdottir (57.566)
So Douglas finished head and shoulders above Andrade, but because her country is stacked, she misses out. That's rough. She will still be competing in the uneven bars final though, so make sure to pay attention because she'll be battling Kocian on that event on Thursday.
**TV broadcast times:
Tuesday, Aug. 9, 3-5:15 p.m. - LIVE
Tuesday, Aug. 9, 8 p.m. on NBC Primetime - TAPE DELAYED
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