Olympics 2012: Jordyn Wieber fails to qualify for all-around in women’s gymnastics

U.S. women’s team cruises through

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Raisman needed less than a 15 to knock Wieber down to third place, and she got it easily — and then some. She gets such great height on her tumbling passes that you could park a Mini Cooper beneath her; and she lands them with such pinpoint accuracy you want to check her feet for glue. The crowd was grooving and moving to her “Hava Nagila” music, and she lit up the arena with her performance and smile.

As Raisman climbed off the podium, Douglas, Maroney and Kyla Ross greeted her with hugs. By then, Wieberhad already disappeared, knowing her chance at the Olympic title had, too.

“I’m devastated for her,” said Geddert, who has trained Wieber her entire career. “Things just didn’t go her way today. It’s not that she had a bad day, it’s that other people stepped up and did better.”

The sudden shift in fortunes put a damper on what was otherwise a spectacular day for the Americans.

“We knew the Americans were going to be up there,” said Rebecca Tunney of Britain, which was in the same qualifying session as the Americans. “They’re going to be unbeatable.”

The Americans won the world title by four points last year — pretty much a runaway — and they’ve gotten even better, particularly on vault.

All four Americans do Amanars, one of the toughest vaults in the world — a roundoff onto the takeoff board, back handspring onto the table and 2.5 twisting somersaults before landing. It’s got a start value — the measure of difficulty — of 6.5, a whopping 0.7 above the vault most other gymnasts will do, and it gives the USA a massive advantage after just one event.

Even worse for their rivals, the Americans make those vaults look easy. Douglas’ toes were so pointed in the air she looked like a directional arrow while Maroney’s legs were ruler straight. Each American took a hop on their landing, but it was a minor deduction and the U.S. left the event with a score of 47.633.

Compare that to the Russians, who, despite Komova and Maria Paseka doing Amanars, still gave up 1.3 points on that one event.

They got some of it back on uneven bars, where Komova looked like a ballerina as she pirouetted on the upper bar. But the Americans also had the highest scores on balance beam and floor exercise — even with Wieber, Douglas and Ross going out of bounds.

Give Raisman some credit for that. She may not have Douglas’ elegance or magnetic smile, but she is steady and solid, and her routine on balance beam is a wonder to behold. She lands her skills with such assuredness she may as well be doing them in an open field rather than a 4-inch wide beam that’s 4 feet in the air, and there was barely a wiggle on her dismount.

Raisman scored a 15.1 or better on all but one event, and is in the running to make finals on both floor and balance beam.

“I think that we were really strong out there today,” said Raisman, the team captain. “Hopefully, we can do the same in finals.”

That depends on how well Wieber can put Sunday’s disappointment behind her.

“We will deal with that. We will try to help her as much as possible,” Karolyi said. “I would be very disappointed, too. She is reigning world champion, also U.S. champion. Today she wasn’t quite as sharp. She was very good, but not quite as sharp and the other two girls (who) surpassed her. So we will give her all the support.

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