The women trained on the podium in the late afternoon Wednesday. All were dressed in official Olympic trials warm-up suits and tank leotards. Following are notes from the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
• Nastia Liukin: The 2008 Olympic champion looked much stronger on bars in podium training than at the Visa championships in St. Louis. She did one full routine with a tucked barani-out dismount. Coach/Dad Valeri Liukin was giving some fairly vigorous pushes at the bottom of each giant, so it's hard to tell how much of the routine was really hers. A few minutes later she remounted and did a second half by herself, but Valeri stepped in at the end to give her a bump on the dismount, which was landed quite well.
Beam shouldn't be an issue for Nastia, but we'll see if she can show a little more confidence than she did in St. Louis.
"Once we get to trials, it's showtime," Nastia said. "I think the performances you compete will speak for themselves."
• Alicia Sacramone: Sacramone did vault and beam here, just as she had at Visa championships. She said she can do all of her floor tumbling but just didn't have enough time to put together a full routine. Asked if her veteran leadership from the Beijing Olympics would help her get selected to the team, she said, "I think leadership is important. Is it enough to get someone on the team? I don't think so."
She's rooming with Bridget Sloan in San Jose, and was asked who was sloppier. Sacramone said she likes to keep things organized, so she knows where everything is. She said Sloan just throws everything down in a heap: "It just looks like a bomb hit it."
• Alexandra Raisman: Her muscular legs help her to complete the most difficult tumbling pass being done today (1.5 twist through to Arabian double tuck, punch front layout -- why not a front-full?), but they also contribute to her loose form on uneven bars. When she tightens her legs for bars, her feet have a way of missing each other. Her Amanar continues to improve, with more vertical landings.
• Gabrielle Douglas: Douglas did more reps than most but seems to be able to handle it. She struggled on bars a bit, when her Stalder-full kept finishing too early and failing to go over the top. Also, her inside Stalders barely pass the bar; it would be nice to see her rotate in deeper.
Douglas's only big mistake at Visas was a fall on beam, and she said "I was so mad" after, and just got back up and hit all of the remaining skills. Since then, she says her beam coach, Liwen Zhuang "has whipped me into shape."
Liang Chow never used to let Shawn Johnson know her scores and he's using that same strategy with Douglas. "I think I've improved so much in the mential situation," Douglas said, adding that her coaches have really helped her in that area. "We all make mistakes. We're human."
• Jordyn Wieber: All business, just like her coach John Geddert. Wieber looked machine-like but still has her own unique appeal. Her gymnastics just looks bigger and more explosive than most of her competitors. Though she still lacks a bit of amplitude on bars, she keeps form throughout. And as Geddert hinted in St. Louis, she threw a nice full-twisting double layout off bars instead of her usual double layout. It adds 0.1 to her D-score, which can be lost with one small step on the landing. Geddert told me Wieber is just as consistent landing the double layout as she is the full-twisting version. I think that's a smart gamble.
• McKayla Maroney: Maroney's injury seems to be history. She tumbled well on floor, and her Amanar is still the best in the world. She has a hard time controlling her long legs on bars, however, but that's not where the team needs her.
• Rebecca Bross: She has so much to prove here after St. Louis, where she did fairly well on bars but wasn't even close on her Arabian double beam dismount. She landed a solid one here, however, and looks like a more focused gymnast than three weeks ago. She told me she did "a lot" of double Arabian dismounts since Visas.
She also told me she tried to come back on floor exercise after injuring her right knee at the 2011 Visas, but "it was decided" she should focus on bars and beam. Sounds like it wasn't her decision.
• Kyla Ross: She looked solid, as usual. There is just something effortless about her work everywhere, except perhaps vault, where she played it safe in St. Louis by doing a double-twisting Yurchenko. She plans to do the Amanar here to improve her all-around score -- and her chances of an Olympic team berth.
Read complete coverage of the U.S. Olympic Trials in the July/August issue of International Gymnast Magazine.