Minneapolis hosts USA Gymnastics Olympic trials

A gymnast on the bars.
Sunisa Lee competes on uneven bars during the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials at America's Center in St Louis, Mo.
Carmen Mandato | Getty Images 2021

Minneapolis will be the center of the USA Gymnastics universe this week.

The country’s best gymnasts will be competing at Target Center, vying for a spot on Team USA's men’s and women’s Olympic gymnastics teams.

Among the competitors are St. Paul native Suni Lee, who was one of the stars of the last Olympic games, and Shane Wiskus of Spring Lake.

The two are competing in competitive men’s and women’s trials, which will begin on Thursday.

In the days leading up to the competition, athletes will be training on the floor and perfecting their routines.

The men and women both compete in several events. Both men and women compete in the floor exercise and the vault.

Women also compete on the uneven bars and the balance beam, while men compete on the pommel horse, the high bar, parallel bars and the rings.

Each of these events are judged on two things: execution and difficulty.

“Every event is a little bit different in what they’re looking for. But really, there’s two scores,” said Jenny Hansen, the head coach of the University of Minnesota Women’s Gymnastics team. “One is their difficulty, you know, how difficult are the elements in their routines and then they have an execution score. So that’s how well they do them, how good is their form and their artistry and the level in which they perform the elements.”

While the routines are judged for scores, there are other elements that the Olympic coaches will be watching for, including who their best and most consistent athletes are and who can help round out their team.

The highest scoring all-around score will automatically qualify. The men and women each have guidelines of how the teams are picked. For women, the top scorer in the all-around qualifies automatically.

Then the others are picked based on this competition and recent competitions. Coaches will try to pick one or two more athletes who are strong on the all-around to be able to compete.

“And then from there, if you get to these amazing all rounders, it's really just finding strength on the other events,” Hansen said. “Because they don’t need everybody to compete every event. They don’t put up five athletes in each event. So then they’re just kind of looking to round out who are the strongest in the other events.”

The men have a similar process, with the top all-around scorer (if he’s in the top three of three of the events), with coaches picking out the rest of the team based on strengths and performances in this and recent competitions.

Tickets are available online.

For those going in person, the events are as follows

  • Thursday: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. — Men’s Day 1 

  • Friday: 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. — Women’s Day 1 

  • Saturday: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. — Men’s Day 2

  • Sunday: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. — Women’s Day 2

You can watch online or on television on USA, NBC and Peacock.