How did Utah’s trio of Olympic hopefuls do the first day of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials?
MyKayla Skinner, Grace McCallum and Kara Eaker all had their moments, setting themselves up for contention for an Olympic berth when the trials resume Sunday night.
MyKayla Skinner really couldn’t have done much better Friday night at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials. The same can be same for Grace McCallum and Kara Eaker.
The trio of Utah gymnasts — past and future — were among the 18 hopefuls who competed in the first day of the Olympic trials in St. Louis, Missouri, and the three Red Rocks all had their moments, finishing fourth, fifth and seventh overall.
There are five Olympic spots up for grabs, four with the team and one individual berth.
Simone Biles led all gymnasts with an all-around score of 60.565 and won balance beam, floor exercise and vault. Sunisa Lee finished in second with a score of 57.666 and won uneven bars, while Jordan Chiles finished in third place with a 57.132.
Skinner led the way for the Utah gymnasts with what was her best all-around performance of the year and quite possibly the best meet of her career. She scored a 56.598 to finish right behind Chiles. At various points in the meet, the Arizona native was actually in second and third place overall. It wasn’t until the final rotation that Chiles, a favorite to make the Olympic team, was able to pass Skinner in the standings.
Skinner’s vault — she competed a Cheng — earned a 15.133 and was the third-best vault performed in the competition. Her beam routine — she earned a 14.133 — had her celebrating like she was back inside the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah.
McCallum, meanwhile, finished with an all-around score of 56.498. Like Skinner, McCallum was strong on vault and scored a 14.633. McCallum also earned a 14.166 on floor and displayed the ability on all four events that made her a U.S. national team member in both 2018 and 2019.
As for Eaker, she had her best showing of the year on her best event: beam. Her 14.400 was good for third and her all-around score (55.565) wasn’t far off an elite pace either.
Where do they stand?
The top two finishers at the conclusion of the two-day competition are guaranteed a spot on the Olympic team. After Day 1, those guaranteed berths seem all but wrapped up by Biles and Lee.
The final three spots will be determined by a selection committee and Skinner, McCallum and Eaker all gave the committee something to think about.
Skinner showed off her high degree of difficulty and was rewarded with high scores as a result. And she still has room for improvement on both bars and floor, as she scored a 13.466 and a 13.866 on those respective events. If the competition had ended after Friday night, the committee would have been hard pressed not to bring Skinner to Tokyo.
McCallum, meanwhile, continues to improve after having had surgery earlier this year. She displayed the kind of all-around ability that could earn her a berth on Team USA. Her weakest event of the night was bars, but her 13.833 signified a step forward, as she had struggled to stay on the event in previous meets. As for beam, she nearly fell, but held on to score a 13.866 and has shown even better potential on the event already this year.
As for Eaker, her calling card is beam and she showed why Friday. Her routine was one of the highlights of the night. She also showed enough on the other three events, especially vault, to warrant at least some consideration for an Olympic berth.
The Olympic Trials will resume Sunday night at 6 p.m. MDT. The scores of the competition are cumulative, which leaves Skinner, McCallum and Eaker in excellent position to make one final run at the Tokyo Olympics.