SAN JOSE, Calif. — Jordyn Wieber looks ready for London. As for the rest of the U.S. women, they still have some work to do.
The reigning all-around world champion was about the only one not affected by nerves Friday, breezing through the first night of the Olympic trials and all but assuring herself of the lone guaranteed spot on the five-woman London team. Wieber finished with 61.7 points, 0.3 points ahead of Gabby Douglas, who had to work out of a hole after making a big error on uneven bars, her first event.
Only the winner of the two-day trials competition is guaranteed a spot on the five-woman London team, with the remaining four to be picked by a selection committee following Sunday night’s competition. And some of the favorites will be sweating a little more after sloppy performances Friday night.
Aly Raisman, normally rock steady, finished a distant third after a big wobble on balance beam and going out of bounds on floor exercise, where she is the reigning world bronze medalist. Kyla Ross landed her vault on her backside and is fifth. McKayla Maroney fell off both uneven bars and balance beam and is seventh. And reigning Olympic champion Nastia Liukin had another rough night.
Liukin knows she needs to put up huge scores on uneven bars to have any shot at the team, and she failed to do it again. Clearly out of gas near the end of her routine, she stalled on a handstand on the upper bar and, as the crowd groaned, her legs folded over. She managed to stay on, but it cost her whatever momentum she had left. She didn’t get anywhere near the height she needed for her dismount, plopping onto the mat on her backside.
She scored a 14.05, better than she did at nationals three weeks ago but nowhere close to the 16 national team coordinator Martha Karolyi wants to see.
Bridget Sloan, the 2009 world champion, is out of the running for the Olympics after spraining her left elbow during warm-ups.
Wieber, on the other hand, appears to be peaking at just the right time.
The favorite for the all-around title in London started piling up the points immediately. She does one of the hardest vaults in the world – a roundoff onto the takeoff board, back handspring onto the vault and then 2.5 twists before landing – yet makes it look as easy as a simple cartwheel. She did land with her knees a bit locked, but it didn’t cost her much.
If Wieber has a “weakness,” it’s on uneven bars. She had some struggles at last year’s world championships, but there were no signs of them Friday night. She was smooth and controlled as she moved between the bars, and there was a breezy confidence to her release move.