Morgan Hurd and 2019

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I still maintain that one of Tom Forster’s worst decisions in his short tenure was to not put Hurd on the 2019 Worlds Team.

Who would have thought, when she hit this routine, as the reigning World AA bronze medalist, World FX silver medalist, and World AA champion less than 2 years prior, and with a team that had a hole on bars, that she wouldn’t have even made the World Team:

But for falling on a Toe On at world Trials, and for not having a brain malfunction on floor at Nationals, she would have probably been around 4th AA at both Nationals and Trials.

This was a poor and short sighted decision, IMO. And to not even put her as Alternate and instead to take SKINNER?! Of course she lost a bit of faith in herself. Who knows what might have happened if they took her to Worlds.

I’m still mad (almost as mad as Marta not sending Key and Baumann to 2015 Glasgow but that’s another matter).
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Having a brain malfunction on floor is a pretty big issue. I’d say it’s up there with Simone’s TF vault in Tokyo. You can’t just ignore it.

This is the flip side of focussing on athlete welfare- you end up not putting athletes in potentially stressful situations
That was a discussion previously on Gymcastic.
If the selection committee is going to look at
“previous results”…then they should do so instead of a World or Olympic Trials taking precendence.

To be transparent, USAG can determine a list of meets that are eligible to get a “team score”. Then these scores can be banked and then a low score dropped.

Riley McCusker should have been taken to Tokyo instead of Skinner once McCusker was selected for the team. Even though Skinner’s one vault made her more valuable to the team score than McCallum. We know why McCallum was chosen and given what happened to Simone, it was best she was on the team and not Skinner for those bars and beam scores.
Skinner in hindsight finished the highest on vault and won silver. Everyone expected Skinner to be two per’d by Biles and Carey (and she was).

However, McCusker’s fall night 2 of Olympic Trials did her in. In reality, she had hit 5 other routines before that fall and given the idea of a +1 specialist, McCusker made the most sense, selection wise.

Hopefully with more athletes getting international selections, the push for gymnasts to do two vaults, and looking at highest scoring teams with Memmel and Sacramone not afraid to make the right decisions, we will have less of the Hurd or McCusker scenarios.

Part of the reasons Tom did this sort of thing was to come across as not the bad guy.

Previously Marta made unusual choices for teams (although sometimes they paid off).
Dowell was taking in 2013 and then benched so Maroney could do AA, even though she was 2 per’d. Dowell had the ability to make UB finals, but she had a history of choking in big meets so we will never know what the TRUE reason was for being benched.

I get trying to create the least amount of controversy when selecting teams but, the best team should be picked, not the one who hits on trials day…but that is also a philosophy set into procedure by Marta who wanted to wait and pick who was hitting on that day…didn’t necessarily mean who had earned a spot.
She just didn’t earn her place on the team. That’s how it goes. Didn’t she also make a random error on floor at trials?

I don’t think not being selected for worlds affected her future performances. She was losing her edge long before she wasn’t selected for 2019 worlds. And she even looked much better at 2020 American Cup.
Even though Skinner’s one vault made her more valuable to the team score than McCallum. We know why McCallum was chosen and given what happened to Simone, it was best she was on the team and not Skinner for those bars and beam scores.
Why was it best that McCallum was on the team given Simone’s withdrawal? McCallum contributed 55.166 to the team score during finals, which is a few tenths less than Skinner scored during the olympics qualification round.

I agree that McCusker should have been the +1 gymnast with a good chance for qualifying to the bars final (though in retrospect, what would a hit McCusker bars routine have done for USA besides probably just knocking Suni out of the medals?)… but I never understood the appeal of McCallum who wasn’t nearly as consistent as her reputation seemed to suggest, and who was competing superior gymnastics in 2019 vs. 2021, versus Skinner who seemed to be peaking just in the knick of time.
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I think with McCallum, most of us were surprised her AA totals compared so unfavourably to Skinner’s in Tokyo. Skinner pretty much got what everyone thought, whereas that wasn’t so for Grace. Also, it took quite a lot of things not to come together for the 4th spot to come down to either of them looking as they did, really. None of those things were individually shocking in themselves but cumulatively, the competition for the US 4th and 5th slots was nowhere near what it could’ve been.

But I agree, it doesn’t really matter in retrospect which one of McCallum and Skinner was the 4th. We said at the time that it wasn’t likely to make a difference to the team title and, as it turned out, we were right. Just not in the way we thought.
If we’re just comparing Skinner to McCallum, Skinner went basically lights out in prelims, and we all know McCallum had errors in the team final. So McCallum’s scores were potentially higher.

I’d have justified McCusker’s bar spot frankly, but realistically, she wasn’t going to medal anyway.

And Tom picked that team based on two things: he had Simone, and he didn’t want to hear any b!tching about someone being third or fourth and relegated to alternate or worse.
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I’d have bet on Skinner going 4 for 4 over McCallum, having said that. The NCAA experience made a difference and Grace has never been quite as consistent as we’ve often given her credit for.

Agree about Tom though. He expected, as we all did, that it wasn’t going to matter much who the 4th was anyway, and he chose the easiest option to defend that also didn’t challenge his 25 year old grievance.
Yeah, McCallum lost 5 tenths on beam for a missed requirement and then had landing errors on FX in QF. And then in the team final she was basically off the entire day. Perhaps she was nervous after seeing Simone have so much trouble.

She had good scoring potential, many of us had her challenging Suni in the AA based on podium training. She looked great and Suni was having some minor issues. She just didn’t execute in competition. That sissone + full turn dance for dance CR was such a dumb move from the McCallum camp. People were saying it should be changed long before Tokyo.
I’d have justified McCusker’s bar spot frankly, but realistically, she wasn’t going to medal anyway.
It only took a 14.500 to earn a bronze medal in the bars final! So I think it was in fact realistic for McCusker to have earned a bars medal. I think we saw her getting high 14s and even one 15 during the elite season, and I think she’s actually one of the few gymnasts whose domestic E-scores of mid-8s would have actually held up in Tokyo (but I made the point earlier that in this particular instance it probably would have come at the expense of the bronze that Suni settled for after a significantly downgraded routine).
But there was no way to know the bars final would so low quality. 14.566 was the 8th place qualifier.
At this point, I don’t think it’s even worth discussing McCallum’s selection for Tokyo because as it turns out, she performed better in the team final than two people selected above her. None of her scores were dropped in QF and her AA score wasn’t the lowest. Then in TF there was only one rotation where she got the lowest score (bars), and statistically she put in the most points for the team total. So it’s like, whatever, she did her part.
But Riley was competitive with the bars field regardless of the EF outcomes… She scored a 15.100 for this routine, and the Tokyo bars judges weren’t particularly stingy with their E-Scores (8.5-8.666 for most of the finalists) so I don’t see why a similar score would have been out of reach for her. She was certainly not a medal shoo-in, but the rationale for naming her to the open specialist spot was stronger than for anyone else, including Skinner whose inclusion was only retroactively justified by luck (bad luck for USA, good luck for Skinner).

But at this point I’ve circled back to making unoriginal points in a discussion that was already debated ad nauseam back when selections were made, so I digress… 😉
There was always a realistic chance Skinner would end up medalling. There wasn’t much to choose between her and Jade, and I think the panel here had Jade ahead based on podium. Jade also was coming in having poorly controlled her Amanar in both finals she’d been in.

But it was duplication, obviously. That was the main weakness in her case.
On paper, Skinner had a chance of medaling, but Tokyo qualifications was Skinner’s best meet and she qualified for no finals. That vault silver was due to a ridiculous series of events as opposed to her being able to outscore Simone or Jade to qualify and not needing Carey to balk and Yeo to fall.
I would have been happy to see McCusker in Tokyo over Skinner, don’t get me wrong. I just think she would have been on the bubble to make finals.

Shame she got injured at Classics that year. I was really curious to see what Brian Carey was able to do with her.

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