Road to Rio

Rio Preview – Beam Finals

Balance beam this quad has been anything but predictable.  In 2013 I would have never thought that Simone Biles would be a two time World Champion, or that Sanne Wevers would medal on the event after missing out on making finals in the previous quad.

But that is what’s amazing about beam, it’s so unpredictable.  But let me try anyway to make some sense into this event.  I’m taking the following data mostly from the wonderful The All Around.

D-Scores

Gymnast   Difficulty Score
 Simone Biles (USA)  6.8
 Sanne Wevers (NED)  6.7
 Shang Chunsong (CHN)  6.7
 Fan Yilin (CHN)  6.7
 Claudia Fragapane (GBR)  6.7
 Seda Tutkhalyan (RUS)  6.7
 Isabela Onyshko (CAN)  6.5
 Flavia Saraiva (BRA)  6.5
 Wang Yan (CHN)  6.5
 Aly Raisman (USA)  6.5
 Laurie Hernandez (USA)  6.5
 Daniele Hypolito (BRA)  6.4
 Ellie Black (CAN)  6.4
 Marine Boyer (ROU)  6.3
 Aliya Mustafina (RUS)  6.3
 Angelina Melnikova (RUS)  6.3
 Elisa Meneghini (ITA)  6.3
 Thi Ha Thanh Phan (VIE)  6.3

So many gymnasts within 0.5 of each other!  And this is just the difficulty scores with routines they’ve competed so far this year, not including any new possible connections and skill that would be added for Rio.  At the top of the list is 2x world champion Simone Biles who has won each title hitting when other frontrunners don’t, but she hasn’t shown to be the most solid on beam recently.  Sanne Wevers is at the top of the 6.7 list because she’s actually preparing a 6.9 difficulty set for Rio, with a mount series of a 1/1 BHS to two BHS step outs as well as having an Okino turn.  The other 6.7 gymnasts include the two Chinese favorites Shang Chunsong and Fan Yilin.  The most iconic inconsistent gymnast of the quad Seda Tutkhalyan is here as well as Claudia Fragapane who is relying on big tricks since she lacks in execution to bump up her difficulty.

The next group starts at a 6.5 and here is Brazil’s best chance for a medal with Flavia Saraiva.  Her beam routine could actually start at a 6.9 if she hits all her connections and gets credit for all her skills (including her whip being credited as a layout) but the 6.5 is the highest she’s been credited for so far this year.  I will say that if she hits in the beam final there is no way she’d be leaving without a medal, but she didn’t hit either of her beam routines at Worlds last year so that task might be too much for her.  Wang Yan is in the list too and would have to hope her consistency has also improved last year from Worlds to make an impact here.  The 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner on beam, Aly Raisman, is one of the two Americans in this group and she’ll be hoping her steadiness will prevail over some of the other gymnasts with better executed but worse consistency.  The other American, Laurie Hernandez came away from the Olympic Trials as America’s best gymnast on beam.  Her set has both consistency and execution to hopefully let her go far on the event in Rio.

I thought about ending the list here, but there are several more major contenders who are in the next two groups, but namely the 2016 European Champion and 2013 World Champion on beam, Aliya Mustafina.  She’s unpredictable with what routine she’ll show up with and how hard it will be, but predictable enough to know that whatever it is, she’ll be a contender.

There are other gymnasts not in this list that could make some impact here.  2004 Olympic beam champion Catalina Ponor has been getting back up to speed on her best event and came away with the bronze medal in the European event final this year.  Bronze medalist from Worlds last year, Pauline Shafer, has been showing beautiful and clean gymnastics recently and is hoping to make up a small D-Score dent with it.

An important thing to note – a 5.6 routine from Eythora Thorsdottir made finals last year, and a 5.7 routine from Viktoria Komova qualified her fourth.  While the level of competition will hopefully improve in Rio, it goes to show that this final is completely wide open.

2016 Best Scores

Gymnast   Highest Score
 Simone Biles (USA)  15.700
 Laurie Hernandez (USA)  15.700
 Sanne Wevers (NED)  15.650
 Angelina Melnikova (RUS)  15.400
 Aly Raisman (USA)  15.350
 Seda Tutkhalyan (USA)  15.333
 Shang Chunsong (CHN)  15.200
 Tabea Alt (GER)  15.200
 Catalina Ponor (ROU)  15.166
 Flavia Saraiva (BRA)  15.150
 Pauline Schafer (GER)  15.133
 Aliya Mustafina (RUS)  15.100
 Fan Yilin (CHN)  15.100
 Isabela Onyshko (CAN)  15.100
 Gabby Douglas (USA)  15.050
 Marine Boyer (FRA)  15.000
 Ellie Downie (GBR)  14.950
 Lieke Wevers (NED)  14.950
 Becky Downie (GBR)  14.800
 Jade Barbosa (BRA)  14.800
Note – a 14.233 qualified into the event final last year.
Another note – I did not include Madison Kocian’s 15.55 from the WOGA Classic that was heavily criticized for how overscored it seemed.

Another great range of athletes, with several who weren’t included in the difficulty scores list making an appearance here.  Ellie and Becky Downie, Jade Barbosa, Lieke Wevers, and especially Tabea Alt who is in the top eight scores of the year.

Predictions

Here are my predictions for the eight event finalists and how they’ll rank in finals.  Unfortunately I’m not included Flavia Saravia here which I would love to see in finals but her hit ratio in the past worries me, same with my personal favorite Seda Tutkhalyan

  1. Laurie Hernandez
  2. Sanne Wevers
  3. Shang Chunsong
  4. Tabea Alt
  5. Angelina Melnikova
  6. Catalina Ponor
  7. Simone Biles
  8. Fan Yilin
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2 thoughts on “Rio Preview – Beam Finals

  1. I am pleasantly surprised you have Laurie as #1. Totally agree. Not sure about Simone going 7th. I think she’ll be silver. Sanne has major consistency issues.

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    • My pick for Simone to get seventh is just based on her issues on beam throughout the trials process. And I would much rather her have an issue in beam finals instead of team or all-around finals. However, you are right in thinking she’ll most likely get at least silver. Sanne has major consistency issues but I feel like it’s been getting better recently, but we’ll find out for sure in Rio!

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