Which women will make the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team?


With the 2021 U.S. Championships in the rearview mirror, the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team picture is getting a bit clearer.

Given her dominance, seven-time U.S. all-around champion Simone Biles is essentially a lock for the Tokyo Olympics, while Jade Carey has mathematically clinched an individual spot (more below).

The complete U.S. Olympic gymnastics team roster will be named at the conclusion of U.S. Olympic Trials (June 24-27 in St. Louis, Missouri).

Which gymnasts will compete at U.S. Olympic Trials?

Following the conclusion of the 2021 U.S. National Championships on Sunday, 18 women were selected for the 2021 U.S. National team and U.S. Olympic Trials:

  • Simone Biles, Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre
  • Skye Blakely, Frisco, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics
  • Jade Carey, Phoenix, Ariz./Arizona Sunrays
  • Jordan Chiles, Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre
  • Kayla DiCello, Boyds, Md./Hill’s Gymnastics
  • Amari Drayton, Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre
  • Kara Eaker, Grain Valley, Mo./Great American Gymnastics Express
  • Addison Fatta, Wrightsville, Pa./Prestige Gymnastics
  • Shilese Jones, Westerville, Ohio/Future Gymnastics Academy
  • Emily Lee, Los Gatos, Calif./West Valley Gymnastics School
  • Sunisa Lee, St. Paul, Minn./Midwest Gymnastics Center
  • Emma Malabuyo, Flower Mound, Texas/Texas Dreams
  • Grace McCallum, Isanti, Minn./Twin City Twisters
  • Riley McCusker, Brielle, N.J./Arizona Sunrays
  • Zoe Miller, Spring, Texas, World Champions Centre
  • Ava Siegfeldt, Williamsburg, Va./World Class Gymnastics
  • MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz./Desert Lights Gymnastics
  • Leanne Wong, Overland Park, Kan./Great American Gymnastics Express

Athletes not automatically selected were allowed to petition to compete at U.S. Olympic Trials, but USA Gymnastics did not accept any petitions.

One particularly notable omission is 2017 world all-around champion and 2020 American Cup all-around winner Morgan Hurd, who had two surgeries on her elbow in March. Hurd, who is known for her activism and social justice work, competed only two events at U.S. Championships (finishing 23rd on floor and 26th on balance beam).

Also missing is two-time Olympic medalist Laurie Hernandez, who withdrew from Championships on Friday after hyperextending her left knee while warming up on balance beam.

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: Jordan Chiles qualifies for Tokyo, 3 years after nearly quitting gymnastics (video)

How will the 2021 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team be selected?

In a change since previous Olympics – where each team consisted of five athletes – the Tokyo Olympics will feature a four-person team competition.

But that doesn’t mean that only four women will make the U.S. team.

Confused? You’re not alone.

Here’s how it works:

Olympic team event (4 gymnasts):

The U.S. qualified a four-person team by winning gold in the team event at the 2018 World Championships. Those four spots will be filled as follows:

    1. First place in the all-around at U.S. Olympic Trials (very likely Simone Biles, who hasn’t lost an all-around competition since 2013)
    2. Second place in the all-around at U.S. Olympic Trials
    3. Selected by committee
    4. Selected by committee

Individual Olympic spots (2 gymnasts):

Two spots are available for individuals. These athletes will still be part of the U.S. team, but they won’t be allowed to compete in the team event.

    1. Jade Carey (mathematically clinched via 2018-2020 apparatus World Cup series, more below)
    2. Selected by committee

Wait, how did Jade Carey qualify for the Olympics ahead of Olympic Trials?

After the 2016 Rio Olympics, the international federation that oversees gymnastics (FIG) revamped Olympic qualification procedures for the Tokyo Games. One of the major changes was allowing athletes to earn individual Olympic spots by name.

Jade Carey, who is coached by her father Brian, took advantage of this new pathway. In 2018, Carey opted not to compete at the World Championships, knowing that if she won a medal as a member of the U.S. team, she would not be eligible to earn an individual quota spot.

“I’ve known about this qualification process for over a year,” Brian told OlympicTalk in 2018. “I’ve studied it, researched it and stayed up to date on changes… We didn’t make the rules. It’s just my job to stay on top of the rules, stay updated, make sure I’m doing what’s in the best interest for my athlete.”

In April 2020, Carey mathematically clinched a spot at the Tokyo Games thanks to her strong performances on vault and floor at four World Cup competitions between 2018 and 2019.

Carey is still expected to compete at U.S. Olympic Trials. And if she finishes first or second in the all-around, she would automatically earn the right to compete for the U.S. in the four-person team event in Tokyo.

If she accepts that spot, the quota place she earned by name could not be filled by another American gymnast, meaning the U.S. would only send five women to the Games instead of six.

“It would be up to her,” U.S. high performance director Tom Forster said on Sunday night.

After her sixth-place finish in the all-around this past weekend, it seems unlikely Carey will finish in the top two at Trials. And Carey is not expected to be selected if she finishes third or fourth, given that her individual spot would then be lost.

However, it should also be pointed out that, once Carey gets to Tokyo, she will still have the chance to compete in the individual all-around.

During qualification in Tokyo, individual athletes will be allowed to compete on any/all events except the team event. So even though Carey earned her Olympic spot thanks to strong showings on vault and floor, she would still be allowed to compete on uneven bars and balance beam, and therefore has the potential to qualify for the individual all-around final.

The two-per-country rule would still apply, meaning only the top two Americans (whether entered as individuals or team members) would be able to compete in the individual all-around, as well as individual event finals.

What’s particularly interesting is that when Carey decided to aim for individual spot, that choice made sense given that she wasn’t a particularly strong all-arounder, but had massive potential on both floor and vault (she won world silver medals on both at 2017 Worlds). But in the years since, Carey has also made strides on uneven bars and balance beam. And given that she is currently on a different timeline than the rest of the U.S. team (and also dealing with an ankle injury), it doesn’t seem like she has yet shown her full potential. Ahead of U.S. Championships, Carey trained a triple-twisting double back layout on floor, a skill that would make her an even stronger contender for a medal in that event. (Biles also does a triple-twisting double back on floor, but in the tucked position.)

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: MyKayla Skinner, alternate in Rio, impresses at Olympic Trials

Ok, so which women will make the four-person U.S. Olympic gymnastics team?

Simone Biles

Biles has long been considered a near-lock to make the U.S. Olympic team. In addition to winning a record-breaking seventh all-around national title at the 2021 U.S. Championships, Biles also extended her undefeated streak: she has won every all-around competition she’s entered since March 2013.

VIDEO: Every replay of Simone Biles’ Yurchenko double pike vault

Also at U.S. Championships, two additional women set themselves apart from the rest of the field: Suni Lee and Jordan Chiles.

Suni Lee

Lee was the only athlete not named “Simone Biles” to claim a national title at U.S. Championships. With her family in the stands, Lee – who claimed three medals at 2019 Worlds – posted the highest score on uneven bars and also finished second in the all-around, a particularly impressive achievement given that the 18-year-old is currently coming back from a foot/Achilles injury.

“She seems like she’s right back where she was in 2019,” Forster said on Sunday night.

RELATED: With father in the stands, Suni Lee shines on uneven bars (video)

Jordan Chiles

Chiles finished third in the all-around, continuing a streak of consistent performances. She started her season by winning February’s Winter Cup and then continued her momentum with a second-place finish at last month’s U.S. Classic.

“Jordan has shown great consistency this year,” Forster said. “She’s done an incredible job and she looks like a solid contender.”

Two years ago, Chiles was on the verge of quitting the sport, but she ultimately decided to move to Texas, where she now trains alongside Biles at World Champions Centre. After Sunday’s competition, Biles gave her new training partner high marks.

“She did exactly what she was supposed to: out here tonight – and at Classics – and at Winter Cup,” Biles said. “If we keep this going, we have a good shot of making the Olympic team together and going to Tokyo.”

RELATED: Jordan Chiles rekindled her love of gymnastics by moving 1,800 miles

Apart from Biles, Chiles, and Lee, who else is in the mix for the four-person U.S. Olympic gymnastics team?

Quite a few athletes!

At U.S. Championships, gymnasts who finished fourth through ninth were separated by less than a point. Here’s the list of top finishers:

1. Simone Biles, Spring, Texas, 119.650
2. Sunisa Lee, St. Paul, Minn., 114.950
3. Jordan Chiles, Spring, Texas, 114.450
4. Emma Malabuyo, Flower Mound, Texas, 110.450
5. Leanne Wong, Overland Park, Kan., 110.150
6. Jade Carey, Phoenix, Ariz., 110.000
7. Grace McCallum, Isanti, Minn., 109.550
7. Skye Blakely, Frisco, Texas, 109.550
9. MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz., 109.500
10. Kara Eaker, Grain Valley, Mo., 109.050
11. Kayla DiCello, Boyds, Md., 108.800
12. Shilese Jones, Westerville, Ohio, 108.500

Fourth place marked an impressive comeback for Emma Malabuyo, the 2017 U.S. junior silver medalist whose career has been defined mostly by injuries in the years since.

“Clearly Emma Malabuyo was super impressive,” Forster said. “She came out of a very, very low position at the U.S. Classic, and it’s great to see her back in her international form that she was in a couple years ago since she’s wrestled with a couple injuries here and there.”

Because the Olympic team event uses a “three up, three count” scoring system, the top four athletes in the all-around at Olympic Trials might not necessarily represent the four athletes who can best contribute to the U.S. team’s score.

For example, the highest-scoring three-count team from both days of U.S. Nationals would be Biles, Lee, Chiles, and fifth-place finisher Leanne Wong, while the highest scoring team using only night two scores would be Biles, Lee, Chiles, and MyKayla Skinner.

Finally, don’t count out two-time team event world champion Grace McCallum (who is coming back from hand surgery earlier this year), Skye Blakely (a 16-year-old who was 35 days too young to compete in Tokyo before the one-year postponement), and Kayla DiCello (the 2019 U.S. junior all-around champion).

To determine how to complete the team, Forster says he will use a ProScore tool that allows him to consider “every possible scenario of team formation to get the highest score.”

What about the other individual Olympic spot?

On Sunday night, Forster confirmed that an athlete doesn’t need to be a strong all-arounder to earn the final individual spot.

“Whoever is really stepping up and showing the best potential for winning a medal – or medals – will earn that spot,” he said.

Riley McCusker (second on uneven bars behind Lee at Championships) and MyKayla Skinner (second on vault behind Biles) are prime contenders for that spot. Suni Lee – if she isn’t selected for the team event – would also be a clear choice due to her strength on uneven bars.

What’s expected of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team in Tokyo?

Quite simply: gold.

The U.S. women’s team has won the last two Olympic team gold medals and the same is expected in Tokyo, regardless of which four athletes make the team.

In addition to leading the U.S. team, Simone Biles is also favored to win four individual gold medals (all-around, floor, vault, and balance beam), and should contend for a medal on uneven bars (her so-called weak event).

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: Olympic hopeful Gabby Thomas: the world’s fastest epidemiologist?

NBC Olympics researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this story.

Note: a previous version of this story misstated the name of the software used to calculate team scores. It is ProScore, not Prosport. 

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Kaillie Humphries elevates another fresh U.S. face to podium status in two-woman bobsled World Cup

Kaillie Humphries of USA, Kaysha Love of USA in action at the 2 women's bobsleigh during Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
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PARK CITY, UTAH – Kaillie Humphries extended her podium streak on Saturday at the IBSF World Cup, where she and U.S. push athlete Jasmine Jones finished third in the two-woman bobsled.

The third-place finish in Park City marked the sixth podium for Humphries at the Park City track, which hosted the 2002 Olympics, and was Jones’ career-first World Cup podium in just her second World Cup start.

“This is our first race together, so really excited about that,” said the 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships titles. She earned her 29th career World Cup win on Friday in Park City in the women’s monobob.

“Definitely a work in progress. … The runs weren’t perfect, but I’m really happy with our starts, happy with our drives minus a few little mistakes. It’s a good starting point, and we’ll look to grow from here.”

Humphries and Jones finished with a combined, two-run time of 1:37.69, 0.32 behind winners Kim Kalicki and brakewoman Leonie Fiebig of Germany at 1:37.37. Fellow Germans Laura Nolte and Lena Neunecker were second at 0.23 back.

Kalicki and Fiebig broke a 16-year-old track record with their first run, laying down a time of 48.60 seconds and besting the time set by Americans Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming – the 2006 Olympic silver medalists – in December 2006 (48.73). It also marked the second straight victory for Kalicki, who’s won five career World Cup titles including last week’s two-woman bobsled race in Whistler, Canada.

“I was hoping Kaillie would get [the record],” said Rohbock, who is now a U.S. team coach and was on hand to see her record fall. “That first run there, she had that little skid in the bottom, so that didn’t help, but Kailee’s always putting up a great performance. And Jasmine, another great brakewoman, so we’re really lucky that we have that depth.”

For Team USA, it marked the second straight week that a fresh face earned her first podium finish while competing with Humphries. Last week in Whistler, push athlete Emily Renna and Humphries placed third in Renna’s first-ever World Cup appearance.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP COVERAGE: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“Being able to race with her was really special,” said the 29-year-old Renna, who was a college track athlete at University of Rhode Island. “It’s really nice to be around seasoned veterans. It definitely makes you feel better in the back sled with you when you’ve got a good pilot who knows the track.”

Renna finished in eighth place in Park City with 12-year U.S. team veteran and pilot Nicole Vogt (1:39.04). Vogt partnered with Jones in her first World Cup last week where they finished seventh in Whistler, 1.33 seconds behind winners Kalicki and German teammate Anabel Galander.

“To have an opportunity to be with Kaillie in my World Cup debut – it’s exciting,” said the 26-year-old Jones, who was a collegiate track and field athlete at Eastern Michigan. “I just feel like I have so much more in the tank to give, and I’m just hungry for it.”

Jones is particularly gratified with her performance after returning full-time to bobsled less than 18 months ago following the birth of her daughter, Jade Quinn Jones, in February 2021. The Greensburg, Pa., native returned to training just five months postpartum, having sat out the 2020-21 season. She competed on the North American Cup last year, finishing the season with a win (the third NA Cup title of her career) and a third place in Lake Placid.

“I’m thankful,” said Jones. “Opportunity is the main thing, and I just feel blessed to have my first World Cup podium. I’m screaming on the inside. I may not show it, but I am jumping for joy because I’m just that excited and happy to have this accomplishment.”

She admits, however, it’s not always easy to compete balance a full-time competitive career with being a mom.

“Sometimes it’s a struggle being away from my daughter,” said Jones, whose mom takes care of Jade while she travels. “I try to get my facetimes in every night and just know that when I’m pushing, I’m doing it for her. Hopefully sometime in the future I’ll have her around on the sidelines cheering me on, and that’s my main motivation – that this is for her.”

The BMW IBSF World Cup continues its North American swing Dec. 16-18 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Kaillie Humphries faces IVF journey head on — and collects monobob World Cup win along the way

Gold medallist Kaillie Humphries of Team United States celebrates during the Women's Monobob.
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PARK CITY, UTAH — Kaillie Humphries knew the quest to start a family would impact her 2022-23 season, but it’s certainly not slowing down Team USA’s reigning monobob Olympic gold medalist, who captured her first World Cup title in the discipline on Friday.

The 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic golds (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships, earned her 29th career World Cup win and her third victory on the Park City track, where she won the two-woman bobsled competitions in 2012 and 2016. Competing in Utah – as well as North American World Cup stops in Whistler last week and in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Dec. 17-18 – is one of the reasons that Humphries pushed pause on her journey to motherhood.

“I’m excited,” Humphries said following the win, marking her second straight podium in monobob following a third-place finish last week in Whistler. “I was excited for this year before it started. It’s part and parcel of why my husband and I delayed the IVF process and starting a family this season. To be able to be back in North America and have the first half of the season here – it’s been a long time since we’ve had that, so I wanted to be able to compete and it feels awesome.”

That’s not to say the leadup to this season has been without its share of hiccups. In fact, Humphries admits that following the Beijing Olympics, she had hoped to get pregnant immediately, but she and husband Travis Armbruster had to pivot when a diagnosis of stage 4 endometriosis made it clear that in vitro fertilization would be the best path for pregnancy.

“Right after the Olympics, I was like, ‘We’re going to get pregnant; it’s gonna be all good,’” she said. “I thought, my body has always performed, and it wasn’t going to be an issue. Fast forward to I find out we have to do IVF. We do the first egg retrieval, and it doesn’t go as well as I had hoped — which anybody that’s done this process knows, you can’t control any aspect of it. And so having to do a second round of egg retrieval, …it pushed everything back.”

What’s more, it brought Humphries’ training to a standstill at times, when she would have to limit all physical activity during the three-week period surrounding the egg-retrieval process.

“It impacted my training coming into this year a lot,” she says, “but I also think it definitely reset my hormones, which turns out I needed. I don’t think was a bad thing. I knew coming into this year, I wasn’t going to be in the same shape as I have been in the past, and I had to make peace with that. I know that each and every race I’m racing myself into shape, and each race is a preparation for January’s World Championships.”

Humphries also chose to share her IVF journey publicly, and she’s documented every step of the way, believing that her story makes it less scary not just for her but also for other women and female athletes who might be facing the same thing.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“My husband and I weren’t sure that we wanted to share it at first,” she admits. “But I felt it was important just to showcase this. I have nothing to hide. And as much as there are parts of me certain days when I think, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ At the end of the day, I know I’m not alone in this.

“It’s important, I do have a voice, and I want other people to know, as an Olympic gold medalist, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. Infertility exists in the female body, and it’s important that I talk about it in my journey and hopefully that’s inspired other people.”

She says she’s received an outpouring of support, which has been particularly gratifying as she continues to put a painful breakup with Team Canada in the rearview mirror. Humphries, who was born in Calgary, competed for Canada for 16 years, winning three Olympic medals including a bronze in Pyeongchang in 2018. But the relationship came to an abrupt end later just five months after the 2018 Games, after Humphries alleged emotional and mental harassment by a former coach.

Winning a gold medal in Beijing just two months after her U.S. citizenship was finalized proved to be turning point for Humphries, who commemorated the milestone with two new tattoos. She first added the date of her win – Feb. 14, 2022 – to the back of her left hand and a larger rose and skull illustration to the back of her right knee and calf, all of which commemorate her triumph over that darker period.

“The skull represents a rebirth and a growth, overcoming challenges and/or obstacles and turning something negative into something positive,” explains Humphries, who says she chose the rose because it’s the national flower of the U.S. as well as a symbol of love won or lost. She notes that she has “an actual Olympic one” planned for August 2024, which is when her favorite tattoo artist is next available.

Humphries has also found the silver lining in her IVF journey, as the competition season has been a welcome break from some of the self-imposed pressure.

“By pushing pause for four or five months and competing, it allowed me mentally to know that we can go into all of next summer and all winter focusing on just doing the actual embryo transfers and having a good pregnancy,” she says. “I don’t feel stressed to try and get pregnant right away. I felt like I was becoming competitive with myself, wondering why isn’t this working? Why can’t I do this? I tried to control too many things, and I started to get really frustrated. Mentally, it was hard. So, by pushing pause, going back to what I know — which is the sport, which is what I love – it’s allowed me to control a little bit of my future.”

Humphries’ season continues Saturday as the IBSF World Cup from Park City concludes with the two-woman bobsleigh.