The women’s team final, always one of the most exciting events at a World Championship, did not disappoint this year in Doha, Qatar. The second to eighth place finishers all were within just four points of each other and it was a battle until the very end, where Russia and China just edged out the other contenders for podium spots. The U.S., led by reigning Olympic all-around champion Simone Biles, dominated the competition from start to finish to claim their fourth straight World Championships team gold medal.

Team USA women atop the podium at the 2018 World Championships Photo: John Cheng

In the first rotation, Team USA jumped out to an early lead on vault, with first year senior Grace McCallum and reigning World all-around champion Morgan Hurd joining Simone Biles to hit three incredibly solid vaults and notch a rotation score nearly three points ahead of the rest of the competition. China started out their competition on the uneven bars and had a few struggles, but not having any falls allowed them to claim second place after the first rotation.

Beginning on vault with the U.S., Russia had to absorb a fall but with the strength of veteran Angelina Melnikova and Irina Alexeeva’s hit vaults, they were able to stay within a point of China and go into the second rotation in third place. Canada, Japan, Germany, Brazil, and France all also had a few struggles in their first rotations, leaving them a little over a point behind Russia.

The United States continued their domination in the second rotation, with three hit bar routines from Hurd, Biles, and Riley McCusker, who was competing in her first World Championships.

Russia was able to use the strength of their three strong bar routines, led by two-time reigning Olympic uneven bars gold-medalist Aliya Mustafina, to take over the second place spot at the halfway mark, mounting an almost three-point lead over China, who struggled on beam. Japan, France, and Germany were all able to use China’s beam struggles to get within two points of the third place spot, making the last two rotations extremely exciting.

Despite an uncharacteristic mistake from Biles, Team USA widened its lead on the balance beam in the third rotation. McCusker redeemed herself with a nailed routine under the team final pressure after falling in qualifications, while beam specialist Kara Eaker proved herself by posting the highest beam score of the day on her signature event.

Simone Biles on floor during the Women’s Team Final competition at the 2018 World Championships Photo: John Cheng

Russia also hit all three routines on beam, solidifying their second place standing heading into the final rotation. The race for bronze got crazy, with Brazil putting together an incredible vault rotation to jump into third, closely followed by France, Germany, and then Japan, while China was bumped all the way to seventh and Canada trailed almost three points behind in eighth.

The race for bronze was wide open going into the final rotation, with every single team still in contention making for a thrilling finish. The United States easily cruised to victory, with birthday girl McCallum, Hurd, and Biles all hitting their floor exercise routines to seal the Worlds team gold by a record-breaking 8.5 point margin.

Russia was able to hold on for silver despite a few mistakes, finishing half a point in front of third place China, who managed an incredible jump all the way from seventh to third with three clean vault, as the rest of the teams had some serious struggles in the final rotation. Canada’s vault rotation also made up for their earlier struggles on bars and beam, as they were able to jump from eighth to fourth to finish behind China, followed by France, Japan, Brazil, and then Germany.

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