Team USA was not performing up to their highest standings. Some mistakes on floor, a fall on the uneven bars, some extra miscues on the balance beam - the Americans seemed a tad bit rusty during the qualification phase at the World Gymnastics Championship in Glasgow, Scotland.
That's ok, though, because they have something the rest of the world doesn't - Simone Biles.
Team USA leads after the completion of the qualification round with a score of 236.6. They have a five point lead over Team Russia, the next nearest team, heading into the Women's Team Final.
The story for the Americans is two time world champion Simone Biles, who is dominating the competition right now. She outscored everyone in the competition in three out of the four rotations. Her score of 15.96 on the floor is more than a point better than her nearest competitor, and it set the stage for one of the most amazing displays in gymnastics history.
The rest of Team USA played solidly, but they are likely disappointed with some of the performances. Brenna Dowell had audio issues on the floor exercise, and had to perform her routine to the sound of claps from the audience. Dowell's day would continue to be rough, as she fell from the uneven bars.
The most disappointed after qualification, however, has to be Aly Raisman. The defending Olympic gold medalist on the floor exercise, Raisman will not be returning to the finals in that rotation after stepping out of bounds on a pass. She would continue to have a rough day, as she fell from the uneven bars and struggled on her balance beam dismount. She will not make the event finals in any rotation, which is a big surprise given her experience and her skills. She also will not be making the finals of the all-around, even though she finished fifth after qualifications, which is a great position despite her struggles.
In the end, though, these are all minor problems that Team USA moved on from, thanks in part to Biles' dominating performance and the performance from some key role players. Margaret Nichols scored a 14.7 on the floor, good for third place and a spot in the event finals. Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas didn't blow the judges away in any one event, but was incredibly solid in every rotation, and finds herself in third place and in the all-around finals. What might be remembered at the routine that really boosted Team USA, however, was Madison Kocain on the uneven bars. The uneven bars have been Team USA's weakest event since the retirement of Nastia Liukin in 2008, and a big routine was not expected from this team; and yet, Kocain's 15.23 total puts her in third place overall and made sure that the Russians didn't get too close to Team USA's lead. With Aliya Mustafina, who was expected to be on the team, being a last minute scrap, Team Russia has an almost impossible task of trying to catch Team USA.
The surprise team of the event is Team Great Britain, who is currently in third place after qualification. They have a two point lead over China, who struggled during qualification. The rest of the top eight were Italy, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands. The Netherlands are five points behind Great Britain, so the bronze medal position is wide open.
The huge surprise is Romania, who failed to make the finals. Romania was hoping to rely on the one-two punch of Larisa Iordache and Catalina Ponor, but Ponor, who was eyeing the World Championships for a comeback, was scrapped after having ankle surgery last week, and Iordache seriously struggled all day, and currently sits 18th in the all-around.
Speaking of the all-around, Biles currently has a four point lead over the rest of the field. As long as Biles avoids something catastrophic, a third straight World Championship should be hers. She leads a surprising contender, Guilia Steingruber of Switzerland, with Douglas in third. Elsabeth Black of Canada currently sits in fourth. Steingruber and Black are separated by less than a point, so silver and bronze are up for grabs. Raisman finished in fifth, but due to a rule that allows only two competitors per country to advance to the finals, Raisman will not be competing for gold. It is the reverse of what happened in London three years ago, when Raisman made the finals of the all-around competition at the Olympics over World Champion Jordyn Weiber.
Biles will also compete in the event finals in the floor exercise, vault, and balance beam, all events she currently leads in, after the conclusion of the all-around competition.
The women's team final will take place Tuesday, October 27th. VAVEL will offer LIVE play by play of the event beginning at 2:30 PM Eastern.