Most Difficulty In The 2017 NCAA Super Six: Balance Beam Edition

We are continuing our search to find out which teams had the most difficulty in their lineups at this year's Super Six finals by now turning our attention to the balance beam. As we mentioned in our previous look at the uneven bars, gymnasts start from a 9.5 difficulty level on bars, beam, and floor, and they are required to add bonus points to get to a 10.0 start value.

To get bonus points, gymnasts add in difficulty from "D" and "E" skills and connection bonus. "D" skills are worth an extra 0.10, while "E" skills are worth an extra 0.20. Gymnasts are only able to rack up a total of 0.40 in either the difficulty or connection bonus category; however, for the purposes of this exercise, and to show full difficulty range from each team, we are adding up all bonus, even if it might not be counted in judging.

On balance beam, "E" skills are a lot less common than what we saw on uneven bars. Gymnasts make up for this by adding in more "D" skills and connection value. Check out our ranking below for the most difficulty from the 2017 Super Six teams on beam. For the purposes of this ranking, we looked (where possible) at the actual routines performed at Super Six but did not count falls.

1. LSU

LSU made history this year with its performance on beam at Super Six finals. The Tigers ended on the event, and while they were not able to catch Oklahoma for the top spot, they had the highest team score on beam ever in a Super Six competition. 

Along with great execution, LSU brought a lot of difficulty on beam. Two gymnasts, Erin Macadaeg and Sarah Finnegan, performed "E" leap skills -- a switch leap half, adding 0.20 bonus for each. In addition, four gymnasts in the lineup performed at least two "D" skills in their routines (Finnegan, Sydney Ewing, Ashleigh Gnat, and Kennedi Edney). On connection value, LSU tied for second for the most out of any of the teams. Macadaeg performed the most connections in the lineup, with a difficult switch leap to switch half to beat jump connection and a front aerial to straddle jump. Ewing was right behind her and performed a back handspring to two-foot layout, cat leap to switch side, and standing layout step-out to straddle 1/4 connection. 

Check out the full breakdown:

"E" Skills - Total: 2 x 0.2 = 0.4
1. Switch leap half: Finnegan, Macadaeg

"D" Skills - Total: 11 x 0.1 = 1.1
1. Front aerial: Edney, Gnat, Macadaeg
2. Front toss: Edney
3. Layout to 2 feet: Ewing
4. Switch side: Ewing, Gnat
5. Standing layout stepout: Ewing
6. Side somi: Finnegan
7. Aerial cartwheel: Finnegan, Myia Hambrick

Connection Bonus - Total: 2.0
1. Edney: Front aerial (D) + Sissone (A) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20
2. Ewing: Back handspring (B) + Layout piked down to 2 feet (D) = +0.10, Cat Leap (A) + Switch side (D) = +0.10, Standing Layout Stepout (D) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20
3. Finnegan: Switch leap (C) + Switch half (E) = +0.20
4. Gnat: Front aerial (D) + Beat jump (A) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20
5. Hambrick: Hitch kick (A) + Side aerial (D) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20
6. Macadaeg: Switch leap (C) + Switch half (E) + Beat jump (A) = +0.30, Front aerial (D) + Straddle jump (B) = +0.20

TOTAL Bonus: 3.5

2. Alabama

In second place are the Crimson Tide, who achieved the most in connection value out of any of the teams. Alabama also tied LSU for the most "E" skills, thanks to Aja Sims and Kiana Winston, who both compete double tuck dismounts. For "D" skills, freshmen Wynter Childers and Maddie Desch both competed two skills. Desch also achieved the most in connection bonus during the season -- she competed a front aerial to back handspring, switch leap to split jump, and a dismount series of two back handsprings to 1 1/2 twist. Nickie Guerrero had one of the highest value connections with her tumbling series. She competed a back handspring to two layout stepouts for a total of +0.30 in bonus.

Check out the full breakdown:

"E" Skills - Total: 2 x 0.20 = 0.40
1. Double tuck dismount: Sims, Winston

"D" Skills - Total: 7 x 0.10 = 0.70
1. Sheep jump: Childers
2. Front aerial: Childers, Desch, Winston, Keely McNeer
3. Side somi: Desch
4. Aerial cartwheel: Guerrero

Connection Bonus - Total: 2.1
1. Childers: Split jump (B) + Sheep jump (D) = +0.20, Front aerial (D) + Scale (A) = +0.10
2. Desch: Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) = +0.20, Back handspring (B) + Back handspring (B) + 1.5 twist (C) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
3. Guerrero: Back handspring (B) + Layout stepout (C) + Layout stepout (C) = +0.30, Switch leap (C) + Straddle jump (B) = +0.10
4. McNeer: Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
5. Sims: Switch leap (C) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20
6. Winston: Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20

TOTAL Bonus: 3.2

3. Utah

Like Alabama, Utah also added a lot of bonus from connection value. The Utes are tied with LSU for the most connection bonus, while they rank fifth for the most "D" skills. Utah had one "E" skill in its lineup, which came from MyKayla Skinner's double back dismount. Out of the "D" skills, Shannon McNatt and Maddy Stover both had two in their routines, while Missy Reinstadtler and Baely Rowe had the most connection bonus. Reinstadtler connected a front aerial to back handspring and a switch leap to straddle 1/4 -- both are worth +0.20 each. Rowe also had two connections that gave her +0.20 each -- her switch leap to straddle 1/4 and her two back handsprings to layout step-out series. 

Check out the full breakdown below:

"E" Skills - Total: 1 x 0.20 = 0.20

1. Double tuck dismount: Skinner

"D" Skills - Total: 8 x 0.10 = 0.80
1. Sheep jump: McNatt
2. Front aerial: McNatt, Reinstadtler, Stover, Makenna Merrell
3. Front toss: Rowe
4. Aerial cartwheel: Skinner
5. Ring jump: Stover

Connection Bonus - Total: 2.0
1. McNatt: Beat jump (A) + Sheep jump (D) = +0.10, Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) = +0.20
2. Merrell: Back handspring (B) + Back handspring (B) + Layout stepout (C) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
3. Reinstadtler: Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20
4. Rowe: Switch leap (C) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20, Back handspring (B) + Back handspring (B) + Layout Stepout (C) = +0.20
5. Skinner: Aerial cartwheel (D) + Sissone (A) = +0.10, Straddle jump (B) + Back tuck (C) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
6. Stover: Switch leap (C) + Straddle jump (B) = +0.10, Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) = +0.20

TOTAL Bonus: 3.0

4. Oklahoma

National champion Oklahoma places fourth in our ranking. The Sooners tied for second for the most "E" skills in their lineup (Maggie Nichols' double tuck dismount), came in fourth for "D" skills, and tied for fourth for connection value. 

Four gymnasts in the lineup had two "D" skills in their routines -- Chayse Capps, Stefani Catour, Nicole Lehrmann​, and Natalie Brown. Capps also landed her front aerial to hold a scale position, which gives an extra +0.10 in bonus. On connection value, Brown had the most in the lineup. She connected a front aerial to two back handsprings, giving her +0.30 bonus, and she also connected a beat jump to straddle 3/4 jump, giving +0.10. 

Check out the full breakdown:

"E" Skills - Total: 1 x 0.2 = 0.2
1. Double tuck dismount: Nichols

"D" Skills - Total: 10 x 0.1 = 1.0
1. Front aerial: Brown, Capps, Catour, Lehrmann, Nichols
2. Straddle 3/4: Brown
3. Double stag jump: Capps
4. Switch side: Catour, Lehrmann
5. Front toss: Charity Jones

Connection Bonus - Total: 1.7
1. Brown: Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) + Back handspring (B) = +0.30, Beat jump (A) + Straddle 3/4 (D) = +0.10
2. Capps: Front aerial (D) + Scale (A) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20
3. Catour: Cat leap (A) + Switch side (D) = +0.10, Cat leap (A) + Front aerial (D) = +0.10
4. Jones: Cat leap (A) + Front toss (D) + Beat jump (A) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split Jump (B) = +0.10
5. Lehrmann: Cat leap (A) + Switch side (D) = +0.10, Straddle 1/4 (C) + Shushunova (C) = +0.20
6. Nichols: Front aerial (D) + Beat Jump (A) = +0.10, Switch Leap (C) + Split Jump (B) = +0.10

TOTAL Bonus: 2.9

5. Florida

Fifth place goes to the Gators, who were the only team that did not have any "E" skills in their beam lineup. However, Florida is tied for second for the most "D" skills and tied for fourth for the most connection value. 

On "D" skills, Grace McLaughlin had the most in the lineup. McLaughlin competed a front aerial, side aerial, and double stag jump. She also added a lot in connection bonus in her routine, achieving +0.20 for her front aerial to back handspring series, plus an additional +0.10 for connecting a beat jump to the double stag. 

On connection value, Rachel Gowey comes out on top. She connected a switch leap to split jump, triple series of back handspring to two layout stepouts, and a cat leap to front aerial. The triple series got her +0.30 alone. Three other gymnasts in UF's lineup added a total of 0.30 in connection value -- McLaughlin, Kennedy Baker, and Alex McMurtry.

Check out the full breakdown:

"E" Skills - Total: 0

"D" Skills - Total: 11 x 0.1 = 1.1
1. Front aerial: Baker, Gowey, McLaughlin, Amelia Hundley
2. Side aerial: Baker, Hundley, McLaughlin
3. Front toss: McMurtry, Alicia Boren
4. Gainer layout: Boren
5. Double stag: McLaughlin

Connection Bonus - Total: 1.7
1. Baker: Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) = +0.20, Straddle jump (B) + Split Half (C) = +0.10
2. Boren: Switch leap (C) + Straddle jump (B) = +0.10, Cat leap (A) + Gainer Layout (D) = +0.10
3. Gowey: Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10, Back handspring (B) + Layout stepout (C) + Layout stepout (C) = +0.30, Cat leap (A) + Front aerial (D) = +0.10
4. Hundley: Cat leap (A) + Switch side (D) = +0.10
5. McLaughlin: Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) = +0.20, Beat jump (A) + Double stag (D) = +0.10
6. McMurtry: Cat leap (A) + Front toss (D) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Shushunova (C) = +0.20

TOTAL Bonus: 2.8


UCLA comes in sixth place in our ranking; however, it's worth noting that Katelyn Ohashi performed a different routine at Super Six than the one she did throughout the season. She normally performs a much more difficult tumbling series -- two back handsprings to a layout (or sometimes even a layout full). This connection would normally get her +0.30 in connection bonus, plus +0.20 for the "E" skill. Due to a slight injury, she performed a front aerial to back handspring instead, giving her just +0.20 for her series. 

Regardless, the Bruins still showed some impressive difficulty at Super Six. Kyla Ross was the only gymnast to perform an "E" skill with her switch ring leap. On "D" skills, the team competed the most out of any of the teams at Super Six. Peng Peng Lee performed a total of four in her routine -- the Homma flairs, double turn, layout to two feet, and aerial cartwheel. Almost every other gymnast in the lineup competed at least two "D" skills. On connection value, Mikaela Gerber, Madison Kocian​, and Ohashi had the most.

Check out the full breakdown:

"E" Skills - Total: 1 x 0.20 = 0.20
1. Switch ring: Ross

"D" Skills - Total: 12 x 0.10 = 1.2
1. Front aerial: Gerber, Kocian; Ohashi; Ross
2. Sheep jump: Kocian
3. Homma flairs: Lee
4. Double turn: Lee
5. Layout piked down to 2 feet: Lee
6. Aerial cartwheel: Lee, Ross
7. Side somi: Hallie Mossett
8. Ring jump: Mossett

Connection Bonus - Total: 1.3
1. Gerber: Front aerial (D) + Split jump (B) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
2. Kocian: Front aerial (D) + Sheep jump (D) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
3. Lee: Back handspring (B) + Back layout to 2 feet (D) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
4. Mossett: Split jump (A) + Ring jump (D) = +0.10
5. Ohashi: Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
6. Ross: Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10

TOTAL Bonus: 2.7


"E" Skill ranking:
1T. LSU: 0.4
1T. Alabama: 0.4
2T. Oklahoma: 0.20
2T. UCLA: 0.20
2T. Utah: 0.20
6. Florida: 0

"D" Skill ranking:
1. UCLA: 1.2
2T. LSU: 1.1
2T. Florida: 1.1
4. Oklahoma: 1.0
5. Utah: 0.80
6. Alabama: 0.70

Connection Bonus ranking:
1 Alabama: 2.1
2T. Utah: 2.0
2T. LSU: 2.0
4T. Oklahoma: 1.7
4T. Florida: 1.7
6. UCLA: 1.3

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