Arizonans MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey Join U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team
MyKayla Skinner of Gilbert finally is an Olympian.
The 24-year-old, who trains at Desert Lights, finished fifth all-around Sunday after the second day of women’s competition at the U.S. Olympic Trials in St. Louis and was named as the plus-one specialist for the Tokyo Olympics.
Those ahead of Skinner — Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum — were named to the U.S. team for the Tokyo Olympics, July 23-Aug. 8.
Skinner joins Jade Carey, 21, of Arizona Sunrays as a U.S. gymnastics Olympian. They are the first women to make the U.S. team while training in Arizona (Kerri Strug trained out of state when she made her Olympics in 1992 and 1996).
Carey, who qualified for the Olympics as an individual in February 2020, competed only on bars and beam Sunday. She did not compete in her best events (vaulting and floor) due to an apparent leg or ankle injury.
Skinner was an Olympic alternate in 2016 for the Rio Games after finishing fourth all-around. She also was an alternate to the 2019 World Championships after returning to the international elite level after three years of college gymnastics at Utah.
On Sunday, Skinner scored 55.666 all-around, almost a point below Friday (56.598). She was higher on vaulting and uneven bars but lower on balance beam and floor exercise.
Her two-day score of 112.264 with .300 behind McCalllum with the two reversing positions all-around from their Friday standing.
Skinner was second on vault behind Biles, seven on beam and floor and ninth on bars.
Biles, 2016 Olympic and five-time World all-around champion, was first at 118.098 despite a rough meet by her standards. Sunisa Lee finished ahead of Biles on Sunday with a score of 58.166 and second for two days at 115.832. Chiles was third at 114.631.
Riley McCusker of Arizona Sunrays competed only on bars at the trials due to an ankle injury suffered May 22 at U.S. Classic. She scored 13.566 Sunday, down from 14.800 Friday, and was fourth overall in the event.
“We looked at possible (Olympic) team scores and realized it was just a couple of tenths difference between them,” said Tom Forster, U.S. women’s national team high performance coordinator. “Looking at the whole two-day process and U.S. Championships as well, it seemed appropriate to go in rank order so that’s what we did.
“One of my big things taking on this job was keeping the integrity of the sport itself, and that competition is competition. If we used MyKayla in the team, her vault is higher than anybody else except Simone’s, but if my opinion and the selection committee’s opinion it wasn’t enough to warrant putting her in that position.”
But because Skinner is so consistent on vault, Forster said, it warranted having her as a specialist because of her medal potential on that event alone.
“I was heart broke for Riley when she fell on her mount tonight, but when it comes down to it MyKayla also has world-class start values and execution on vault and she hit so that’s how we decided.”
Carey said she is “feeling good” about her trials performance. “Day 1, I was really happy with vault. It’s been a while since I’ve competed 2 1/2 so I was very pleased with how that went. Tonight we just decided to go with bars and beam just so I could rest my ankle a little bit and get back to the gym and get after it.”
Carey said she is planning to attempt a triple twisting, double layout on the floor in Tokyo.
Skinner did not talk to the media after the meet because of time constraints but will do so Monday.
McCusker has trained with Carey at Arizona Sunrays since February 2020 and as Forster said was a contender for the specialist position that went to Skinner.
“I’m really, really proud of her,” Carey said. “She worked so hard, and she has done so many amazing bar routines. I’m proud of everything she’s accomplished. It’s amazing how much she has had to go through and she still made it here.”