USA gymnastics team advances to the finals, but former Ute MyKayla Skinner misses the cut

American star Simone Biles leads the way in the all-around competition

(Morry Gash | AP) Mykayla Skinner, of United States, performs on the beam during women's artistic gymnastic qualifications at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo.

The domination of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team was one of the expected storylines of the Tokyo Olympic Games. But they hardly looked anything like the dominating team they are supposed to be during their qualifying round.

The U.S. qualified for Tuesday’s team finals, but did so finishing second to Russia in their qualifying round after a series of mishaps, totaling 170.562 to Russia’s 171.629. Luckily for the U.S., Sunday’s scoring doesn’t carry over to the finals so the U.S. will get a much needed fresh start.

The disappointment extended to the individuals too as former Utah gymnast MyKayla Skinner failed to qualify for any of the event finals.

Per International Gymnastics Federation rules, Skinner had to finish in the top eight overall and in the top two of her country to qualify for event finals.

She just missed making the cut on vault, her best event. Skinner finished with a 14.866, which was good enough for fourth overall on the event. But since she finished behind fellow Americans Simone Biles (15.186) and Jade Carey (15.166), who were first and second in the qualifying, Skinner can’t compete in the finals.

Skinner and Jordan Chiles tied for third out of the U.S. women on the floor with 13.566 while Biles had the team high 14.133 and Carey had a 14.1.

Skinner was third out of the U.S. women on balance beam with a 13.233 while Suni Lee had the high mark of 14.2 and Biles had a 14.066 despite stumbling out of her dismount. Skinner was fifth out of the U.S. women on the uneven bars, her weakest event, with a 13.666.

Utah gymnastics coach Tom Farden, who stayed up through the night watching the live feed was still proud of the former Ute.

After being an alternate on the 2016 Olympic team, Skinner left the program a year early to pursue her dream of competing in the Olympics. She recently announced she won’t use her final year of eligibility with the Utes, choosing instead to pursue a pro career.

“She beat all the odds in making the Olympics,” Farden said. “It wasn’t an easy path for her and I am forever proud of her. She has dreamt about being an Olympian for years and it was a long journey.”

Future Ute Grace McCallum was given the crucial leadoff spot for the American team and landed out of bounds on the floor, but she was hardly the only one to have issues.

Lee had notable breaks on floor and landed her vault poorly and Chiles struggled through her bars routine and fell off the balance beam.

(Ashley Landis | AP) Grace McCallum, of the United States, performs on the balance beam during the women's artistic gymnastic qualifications at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo.

Biles, who struggled at the Olympic Trials, had another subpar night in the qualifying. She landed out of bounds on a vault and stumbled on her beam and floor landings.

Biles still made the event finals in vault, balance beam and floor and all-around.

“You could tell the expectations were weighing heavy and they were tense and tight in spots,” Farden said of the Americans. “The chemistry was just off.”

Biles led the all-around competition with 57.731 while Lee was third (57.166), Carey was ninth (56.265), Skinner was 11th (55.398) and McCallum was 13th (55.165).

The all-around finals featuring the top 24, with the same two-per-country rule applying, are Thursday.

Farden was still excited to see McCallum do well in her other events, particularly on the vault where she finished fifth out of the U.S. women with a 14.533 and fourth among her teammates on the bars with a 14.1.

“Being in the leadoff spot on so many events, she gave the other athletes confidence to build off,” Farden said. “Whether it is the world championships or the Pan Ams or the biggest of the big meets, she is steady. She doesn’t get too high or too low.”

McCallum was a bit of a surprise addition to the team, earning her spot after a strong performance at the Trials that put her in the fourth spot, just ahead of Skinner.

“Just being one of the four selected to the team is a huge feather in her cap,” he said. “It’s going to be a huge confidence booster for her.”