Rio 2016 - Notes from Podium Training

7:52 PM Arabian Punch Front 8 Comments

The Olympics are finally here! While tomorrow is the Opening Ceremony, competition has already started for soccer. In gymnastics, the men had their podium training yesterday while the women had their session today. Thankfully, we had access to the US during training and here are a few notes from the women's session today.

Note: The gymnasts warmed up and then saluted the judges. The saluted routine is the one I'm calling the "competition" routine.

Laurie Hernandez, Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman
None of the athletes really went "all out" in terms of performance but the skills were all there.
- Hernandez: Overall hit routine. It's weird to see her not in full Baby Shakira/Human Emoji mode. The dance moves were there. Her tumbling was good, just the front double full was a little questionable.
- Douglas had trouble on all of her dance elements I would say. She fell out of her opening double Y and was in a huge lunge going into the L turn which brought her dangerously close to going out of bounds. Her tumbling, however, was great. Her full in to back tuck was also solidly connected. It wasn't rebounded per say but connected just as well as Ferrari's had been.
- Biles and Raisman were both incredibly solid and hit
- Kocian on floor is so impressive to me. She doesn't need to do it at this point but I suppose that's part of why she made the team. I really like this routine.

There's lots of discussion about the lineup here but there are a few things to consider. First off, it's podium training, everyone competed and the lineups are subject to change. Sure. Secondly, Simone has to warm-up 2 vaults so her going 3rd on floor, gives her a little more time to rest her legs before going again on vault. And, yes, she's last in the vault lineup but warms up first.

Laurie Hernandez, Gabby Douglas,  Aly Raisman, Simone Biles
- Hernandez was short on her warm up DTYs but did well on her competition one. She seemed to twist a little late. Maggie assured Martha that she shows up on competition day.
- Douglas was also short on her warm up vaults but had a very solid stick/near stick in her competition routine.
- Biles has to warm up quickly since she has to do a second vault. Others were still doing timers or FTY when she went for her first Amanar. And stuck it right down the middle. Her competition one was landed offsides and then she hopped out of bounds. She warmed up a Lopez then did a great Cheng. The vault final will really be interesting with Hong working the TTY.
- Raisman! She stuck the crap out of her warmup Amanar. This one was her competition one with just the slightest shuffle. But right down the middle. She tried not to smile after the warmup one but then she saw Simone and they gave each other the largest smiles. It was a sweet moment.

Uneven Bars
Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian, Laurie Hernandez
- Raisman usual routine. First off, the girls warmed up full routines on bars and beam. Her first one was head on and loked fine. Her competition one was from the side and looked ... like Aly
- Biles had a few minor things in her routine - leg separation on her Maloney and gets a little stuck in her full pirouette after it. Otherwise, good routine.
Funny moment: Biles gets down and sees Aly without grips but wonders if they have to do another routine. They find out they only need to repeat if they have something to work on and Aly has a huge sigh of relief.
- Douglas hit an excellent routine. She was working very hard to get every handstand and she did. She also did her full difficulty routine with the Chow 1/2 and everything went well, including a stuck double layout dismount.
- Kocian hits a great routine. Martha praises her for going for one of the connections but asks for a little more on her Jaeger release. In her competition routine, she had a little shuffle on the landing. In her follow up routine, she gets great height on her Jaeger, enough to frighten me, though she catches  a little close, and she sticks her dismount.
- Laurie Hernandez went last on this event. One would think she's going last on the event because she won't compete it but Martha hasn't made a decision yet. Sure. Hernandez, though, has a rough routine with her usual leg separation on the stalder full but then she also has a leg separation on her Pak which isn't her usual. The next routine was better and she sticks her dismount. I think she was a little rattled because she was last up for warmups when the "30 second warning" went off.

Balance Beam
Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, Simone Biles
Confession: I was maybe 75% focused on beam. Things went well, overall.
- Douglas did ok with some hesitant connections. She hit her full once and the second time had a slight leg up wobble.
- Raisman hit. A little crooked on Patterson but otherwise ok.
- Hernandez was doing well until the second half of her routine when she had one bend at hips wobble and another small wobble. Good double pike dismounts though.
- Biles hit. She went for a second routine and didn't do her second layout step out. Her Barani is her Barani. Otherwise, her full in looks great. Repeated that and it again looked great.

And there you have it. Overall, team USA looking incredibly solid. The big question is who will do the all around.

Aly and Laurie? What about Gabby? Based on today's competition, Douglas is definitely going to be one of the all around gymnasts. She looks better than she's looked for most of the year. Raisman was her usual self, the question being left to the judges on beam connections and execution. Hernandez made things tricky. She is a great uneven bar worker and could have certainly been used in team finals but during bars and after, she got a little nervy. Based on her competition today, I wouldn't put her in the AA and she's a question mark for bars in team final. But what about the whole year before this? This is all true but if you can't handle the pressure in podium training, how will you do when the lights are truly on? Personally, I think Laurie will be fine but I don't think she'll be in the all around.

There's also the fact that Douglas and Raisman are USA's defending all around gymnasts. The same way that Aly competed bars over Maggie Nichols at Worlds 2015 to put Raisman in the all around, the same will likely happen here. It's tricky since Laurie went pro so technically she is marketable but she doesn't have the same fan base... yet!

Speaking of Laurie going pro, I thought it was weird if she wasn't doing AA as well but after seeing the beam lineup, it makes sense. She could possibly take Raisman out of beam finals. Based on the routines we saw today, it'll be tight. And, to be quite honest, I wouldn't count Douglas out on beam either if the other two have any errors.

All I will say is that podium training made me incredibly excited for competition to start!
Opening Ceremony Aug 5, 7:30 PM ET
More of the Olympic schedule - MAG and WAG - can be found here

What did you think of Podium training? Who do you think will be the all around gymnats?


  1. I'm actually surprised by how you put Laurie on beam. I think Laurie is certainly better than Aly and Gabby on beam. She has outscored them all year I believe. Laurie outscored Simone 3/4 times this summer in fact. I would expect Laurie to be in beam final. I think she could very well beat Simone and the rest of the field.

    Hong is "working" the TTY but it looks very scary and I do not believe she landed it. Even if she lands, Simone would still be favored to win based on superior E scores, though it wouldn't be a sure thing. I think it's pretty fool hearty for Hong to try it. She gains less than 50% chance of getting a medal if she lands the vault, and if she doesn't land, she won't medal.

    1. Laurie surprised me today and I think that's the only reason I'm considering the others. She was shaky on bars, there's no doubt but it affected her again on beam. I think she's deserving of that 3rd spot and glad she has it but I don't think it's an easy event final for her to make. On the other hand, I think Laurie going after beam will actually be good for her scores.

      Hong's TTY. Ugh. Where to even start! I agree with everything you've said though. Landing = gold. Fall = no medal. Honestly, I think the vault final is going to come down to the athlete order more than anything. If Hong is after Paseka or Biles, she'll be able to think about throwing it. I'm glad that we're actually seeing it since it's been rumored for so long! Not what I imagine Biles' or Maroney's would have looked like but it exists... kinda.

    2. The thing is I'm not sure Hong gets gold even if she lands. Simone's Cheng has been getting 15.8-15.9, which I think is a realistic expectation for her in event finals. The best Hong has ever scored on the Cheng is 15.6, and usually she is more around 15.4-15.5, sometimes lower. Simone's Amanar is pretty consistently at around a 16 internationally. If Simone can be expected to gain an average of .3 on the Cheng, that means Hong is going to have to score better than a 16.3 on the triple, which is an E score of 9.5. Even on the Amanar, she has only achieved that E score once in the past two years. I think she has enough form deductions in the air that she would basically have to stick or take a .1 step on the landing in order to maybe pull it off. That's not realistic based on what I saw.

      So, even with this harder vault, she either needs to show a significantly improved Cheng or she needs Simone to take a .3 step on her Amanar, which happens once in a while but not often.

      That's fundamentally why I don't get it. People are acting like she'll be a lock for gold if she lands the vault, but, mathetmatically, that doesn't appear to be the case. The increased difficulty, when you get right down to it, is only worth .25 to her average score, and she's farther behind Simone than that if you just average their Cheng/Amanar combo. Even if Hong lands the triple, she still needs Simone to be subpar in order to win gold. And if Hong doesn't land the vault, no medal at all. Why take the risk?

  2. I think Nancy meant it's between Aly and Laurie for the last all around spot, as in Simone and Gabby are for sure competing AA.

    1. Yes, Iit should read like "What about Gabby? Why is it not between Gabby and Laurie?"

  3. There is a two per country rule.

  4. There is a two per country rule.