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Paris 2024

Summary & Recap of Day 1 of the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials

An analysis of the first night of competition at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials

June 28, 2024

World All-Around Bronze Medalist Frederick Richard currently leads the way at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials. On day one, Richard finished on floor, nailing his full-twisting double tuck dismount on floor to end his night with an impressive 85.600. Three-time National All-Around Champion Brody Malone sits in second place with an 85.100. In a close battle for third, the position belongs to Tokyo Olympian Shane Wiskus, who continues to prove his consistency throughout the Olympic Selection Process.



The 2024 U.S. Olympic team will be selected based upon the two nights of competition here at Trials, paired with results from the National Championships a few weeks ago. Five men will make the team, though the selection won’t be as simple as the top 5 all-around standings. Of the five-man team, team USA is looking for three scores on each apparatus to compile the highest team total. For the U.S, the strategy is simple: Earn its first team medal at the Olympic Games since Beijing in 2008.


No Change


Brody Malone - Malone did not show as strong of a night as he did at nationals, though he still performed well. He continued to impress on high bar (even with a slight error), parallel bars and still rings. Considering his injury, it is impressive to see him compete the difficulty on floor and stick his vault (scoring 14.600). Malone’s comeback has been nothing short of remarkable, and similarly hit routines on Saturday would earn him a spot on Team USA.


Yul Moldauer - He did not have the best competitions, but Moldauer still hit where he needed to. Yul had a very good Nationals, so his routine averages between all three nights still remain competitive. It will be crucial that he hits a good night 2 if he wants to return to the Olympic Games


Stock Up


Asher Hong - Hong certainly helped his case during the first day of competition. After a disappointing Nationals where he finished in 10th place, Hong finished 5th in the all around at night one of the Olympic Trials. More importantly, though, Hong hit the routines where Team USA currently has gaps in a team lineup. Beginning the night on rings, he displayed a 14.450 showing multiple E-valued strength skills, including a  back up rise to inverted cross (E) and back up rise to maltese hold (E). Hong moved to vault, where he has potential to perform among the best in the world. He competes a Ri SI-Gwang, with a massive 6.0 difficulty score. The U.S. has been open about pushing difficulty over the last three years, though Hong was one of three gymnasts to compete a vault over a 5.2 difficulty. While not perfect, he stayed on his feet to earn a 14.350. Additionally, Hong provided solid scores on parallel bars and floor, scoring a 14.650 and 14.350, respectively.



Frederick Richard - Frederick Richard sits at the top of the standings at the 2024 Olympic Trials. He improved his parallel bars considerably compared to nationals, and avoided mistakes on his other key events. He maintained his mid-to-high 14 mark on floor, and is one of two gymnasts in the U.S to score above a 14 on high bar. These three events make Richard a heavy favorite for a spot to Paris.


Shane Wiskus - Wiskus felt the energy of his home crowd, having grown up just 20 miles away from the Target Center, where the trials are being held. The crowd was into Wiskus’ routines all night, and the 2020 Olympian continued to show dependability hitting 6 for 6 at the first day of competition. Wiskus has just one fall (where he jumped off rings after feeling insecure with his grip), through his 18 routines in the 2024 Olympic Selection Process. While he struggled to finish in the top 3 on any events at nationals, Wiskus currently sits in third on floor. Wiskus will need to continue to score well on events where others are faltering, like pommel horse and high bar, and remain consistent to have a shot of making the team.


Paul Juda - Paul Juda has kept himself in the conversations for Paris with his fourth-place all around score of 84.150. Juda did help his case last night, primarily via clutch landings on floor and impressive flared skills on pommel horse. Juda’s 14.600 on floor has him currently in second, nearly matching his 14.700 from night one at Nationals. While multiple athletes fell on pommel, Juda was able to capitalize on the situation, earning a 14.050 and placing top three on the event. With two top three placements on day one of trials (and not too far off of a third place finish on HB) Juda may be able to fit into a top scoring team scenario.


Stock Down


Donnell Whittenburg - The experienced veteran suffered a few too-many mistakes. Whittenburg rolled out of his 6.0 vault, resulting in just a 13.700. Team USA would love to use him on vault in a team-final scenario, but the vault needs to be consistent for it to be worth the risk. Additionally, Whittenburg struggled on floor to score a 13.650. He put his hands down on his opening pass - a full 1.0 deduction. This score is down from as high as 14.300 from Nationals a few weeks ago. Whittenburg was seen by many as a direct competitor to Asher Hong, both fulfilling the roles of rings, vault, and floor scores. Unfortunately, Hong outscore Whittenburg on all three key events. Day 2 of trials will be crucial for Whittenburg to regain his US nationals form.



Stephen Nedoroscik - What? How could an event leader’s stock go down? For Nedoroscik, being the pommel horse leader just isn’t quite enough. As a World Champion on this apparatus, he does have serious hopes to be selected to Paris. However, he’ll need to boast a score in the low-to-mid 15 range, with difficulty around 6.4. Last night, Nedoroscik earned a 14.45, with just a 5.6 difficulty score. He kept deductions to a minimum, but this was not the routine Stephen Nedoroscik hoped to compete. With internationally-competitive routines scoring in the mid 15’s, Nedoroscik needs to prove he can compete with those marks to be selected to Paris.



Khoi Young - At night two of the 2024 National Championships, Khoi Young looked unstoppable. A 15.000 on pommel horse paired with a 14.850 on vault lead to an incredible 86.100 all-around mark. However, Young just looked off at the first day of U.S. Trials. He had a few minor mistakes, and then a devastating 11.650 on pommel horse with two falls, resulting in just a 79.600 final tally. There are some concerns to Young's PH routine, considering he has only hit once out of the three routines he has shown in the selection process. Young sits in 12th place All-Around heading into tomorrow’s final day of competition. He can still turn things around, but it will be crucial that he hits pommel horse on day 2.





Where the U.S. Needs Help


Pommel Horse


Pommel Horse has been a nemesis of team USA in the past, but things seemed to be different in this Olympic Cycle. Many All-Around athletes showed improved scores, and the country had a plethora of specialists scoring above 15. However, things seemed to turn around again on day one, with many falls and other mistakes. Again, Juda stepping up to hit pommel last night was a big step for his selection. Team USA may be selected based upon who can hit pommel horse in night two of competition here at Trials.


The Numbers Behind Hong vs Whittenburg


These two have such similar strengths, and these six routines are some of the highest difficulty the U.S. has on any event.




Both athletes are capable of scoring mid-14 on rings, and they both have floor difficulty scores above 6.0. Vaulting is crucial for these two athletes, given they are two of the three athletes the U.S. has at Trials who compete a vault over a 5.2. When totalling all three nights so far, Whittenburg has a slight advantage on floor while Hong leads on rings and vault. These routines are all must watch come tomorrow afternoon.


High Bar


Malone and Richard. That’s the list of high bar scorers above a 14.000 so far between all three days of competition in the selection process. The selection committee will look at high bar as an area of need, but where else can a potential high bar worker be used?



There’s Cameron Bock, who finished third on high bar at Nationals, but scored just 13.250 last night. Bock also helps team USA on pommel horse and potentially floor. Then there’s Shane Wiskus, who showed yet another seemingly clean high bar routine, though it only netted a 13.550. Aside from high bar, Wiskus could help the U.S. on floor, rings, and potentially pommel horse. Paul Juda upped his difficulty on high bar compared to his routines from Nationals, but it still yielded a 6th place standing with a 13.450. As previously mentioned, Juda’s floor and pommel scores are competitive, but he’ll need to prove his worth on multiple events. A high bar score near 14 would help his case tremendously. In total, whoever ends up placing third on high bar might just find themself on the Paris team.


Conclusion


The selection committee will be looking at all four days of competitions, two days of nationals, and two days of trials. Each gymnast still has an opportunity to overcome their errors and make their best case to the selection committee.


The competition resumes on Saturday June 29. The competitions will begin at 2:00 local time (Central time zone). The Olympic team will be named directly following the competition.




Article by: Aiden Whitehead


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