Brenna Dowell

NBC Olympics

Inside the #RoadtoRio photo shoots

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Bringing together over 100 Summer Olympians and Olympic hopefuls with puppies, samba dancers and supermodels, NBC Olympics and the United States Olympic Committee partnered for an extensive five-day media summit in West Hollywood, Ca. The athletes took part in photo shoots, interviews and video segments all in preparation for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over the course of the summit, participants shared behind-the-scenes moments on social media using the #RoadtoRio hashtag. NBC Olympics also launched its official Snapchat account, with the username NBCOlympics. Here are some of the highlights:

Olympians fell in puppy love:

 

Then got a crash course in Brazil’s signature dance, the samba:

 

A photobooth with props let the athletes–and even Bob Costas–show off their silly sides:

 

Olympic fans like Alessandra Ambrosio and Flula dropped by:

 

In between shoots, athletes from different sports mingled:

 

The faux-Rio beach was the perfect set:

 

But these Olympic stars needed only a simple white backdrop to shine:

 

Follow NBC Olympics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat (username NBCOlympics).

 

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U.S. women’s gymnastics team faces familiar dilemma at World Championships

Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman
Getty Images
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Three U.S. women are vying for two spots in the World Gymnastics Championships all-around final in Glasgow, Scotland, which brings to mind a tearful episode from the London Olympics.

Rules dictate a maximum of two women per nation can compete in the all-around final at a Worlds or Olympics, so one of these three women will not be in the all-around final at Worlds in Glasgow on Thursday:

World champion Simone Biles
Olympic champion Gabby Douglas
Olympic fourth-place finisher Aly Raisman

The two highest scorers out of Biles, Douglas¬†and Raisman in Saturday’s qualifying¬†will advance to the all-around final.

Biles has won nine straight all-around competitions dating to 2013 and is favored to become the first woman to win three straight World all-around titles.

In three all-around competitions this year, Raisman holds a 2-1 head-to-head advantage over Douglas after both gymnasts took 2013 and 2014 off.

Another American,¬†Maggie Nichols, beat Douglas and Raisman in the P&G Championships all-around in August but is not on the¬†qualifying¬†start list for the U.S. on uneven bars. If that holds, she won’t be eligible for the Worlds all-around final.

At the London Olympics, three U.S. women competed on every apparatus in qualifying — Douglas, Raisman and 2011 World all-around champion¬†Jordyn Wieber. Wieber placed fourth overall in all-around qualifying in 2012, competing while injured and¬†missing¬†the all-around final because she was the No. 3 American in qualifying.

This will mark the fifth straight World Championships where the U.S. has had more than two women do the all-around in qualifying, so it’s an expected problem.

In 2011, Douglas was the third-ranked¬†American in all-around qualifying — behind Wieber and Raisman — and missed the all-around final.

In 2013,¬†McKayla Maroney¬†was the third-ranked American in all-around qualifying — behind Biles and¬†Kyla Ross¬†— and missed the all-around final.

In 2014,¬†MyKayla Skinner¬†was the third-ranked American in all-around qualifying — behind Biles and Ross — and missed the all-around final.

This year’s U.S. team is so deep that Skinner,¬†who finished in the top four in two events at the 2014 World Championships, was designated an alternate at this year’s Worlds and is not expected to compete in Glasgow.

Biles, Douglas, Raisman, Nichols, Brenna Dowell and Madison Kocian are slated to compete for the U.S. in qualifying on Saturday and the team final Tuesday. The U.S. seeks a third straight World team title and is a heavy favorite given it dominated in 2014, prevailing by 6.693 points without Douglas, Raisman and Nichols.

The U.S. women who qualify for the all-around final will be medal favorites, likely along with Romania’s Larisa Iordache. Iordache took silver behind Biles last year but did not perform well in qualifying Friday.

MORE GYMNASTICS: World Championships broadcast schedule

U.S. women’s gymnastics World Championships team analysis

Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles
AP
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The U.S. women’s gymnastics team that will try to win a fourth straight global title at the World Championships in three weeks in Glasgow, Scotland, is¬†arguably the most accomplished in American history.

It’s the first time a U.S. men’s or women’s team for Worlds has included two past Olympic or World all-around champions —¬†Simone Biles¬†and¬†Gabby Douglas.

It’s the first time a U.S. men’s or women’s team for Worlds has included any¬†past individual Olympic champions — Douglas and¬†Aly Raisman.

Biles, Douglas and Raisman were three of the seven women named to the team by USA Gymnastics following selection camp competition in Texas on Thursday night.

The others are 2014 World Championships team members¬†MyKayla Skinner¬†and¬†Madison Kocian; Brenna Dowell, who traveled to the 2013 Worlds but didn’t compete, and Worlds rookie¬†Maggie Nichols.

One of the seven women must be designated an alternate before Worlds, as nations can use a maximum of six in competition in Glasgow.

The team includes zero women under the age of 18, a first in U.S. gymnastics World Championships history. That hasn’t happened at the Olympics since 1952, according to sports-reference.com.

The U.S. roster¬†is without¬†Olympic team champions¬†McKayla Maroney, who hasn’t competed since the 2013 Worlds, and¬†Kyla Ross, who announced her withdrawal from Worlds team selection on Oct. 1 without citing a reason. The other member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team,¬†Jordyn Wieber, is retired.

At Worlds, the U.S.’ biggest competition will likely come from the other three women’s gymnastics powers — China, Romania and Russia. Russia’s early roster includes three members of its five-woman 2012 Olympic silver medal-winning¬†team, including¬†Viktoria Komova, the Olympic all-around silver medalist.

An interesting competition within the U.S. team could be which two women advance from Oct. 24 qualifying into the Worlds individual all-around final Oct. 29. If more than two U.S. women compete on all four events in qualifying, then the two with the highest overall scores advance to the all-around final.

MORE GYMNASTICS: A look at recent Olympians’ comebacks

Here’s a look at the U.S. team and each gymnast’s credentials:

Simone Biles:¬†The two-time reigning World all-around champion and three-time reigning U.S. champion.¬†The 18-year-old Texan could become the first woman to win three straight World all-around titles. She could also break¬†Alicia Sacramone‘s U.S. record for career Worlds medals. Sacramone earned 10 medals over five Worlds. Biles has nine in her first two, after bagging a U.S. women’s record five medals at a single Worlds in 2014. Biles has won nine straight all-around competitions, with her last defeat coming March 30, 2013.

Gabby Douglas:¬†The Olympic all-around champion will compete at Worlds for the first time since¬†her 2011 debut. She took 31 months off from competition after London 2012, returning in March.¬†She’s finished fourth, second and fifth in three all-around competitions this year, with Biles winning all of those titles.

Aly Raisman:¬†The Olympic floor exercise champion is also at Worlds for the first time since 2011 after taking a 31-month break following London 2012. She’s finished third, fifth and third in three all-arounds this year, all won by Biles. Raisman earned the P&G Championships floor exercise title¬†in August over Biles, the two-time reigning World champion in the event.

Maggie Nichols: The Little Canada, Minn., native whose Twitter handle is @MagsGotSwag12, finished second in the P&G Championships all-around, behind Biles and ahead of Raisman and Douglas. She was third at the 2014 P&G Championships and looked destined for her first Worlds team then until dislocating her left kneecap the following week.

Madison Kocian:¬†She’s the P&G champion on uneven bars, the only apparatus for which she was used in the 2014 World Championships team final. The last American to win an Olympic or Worlds uneven bars title was¬†Nastia Liukin¬†in 2005.

Brenna Dowell:¬†She made the 2013 Worlds team and traveled to Antwerp, Belgium, but was designated the alternate with Biles, Ross and Maroney competing in the all-around in qualifying. At that Worlds (but not this one), a maximum of three women per country could compete per apparatus. She was also an alternate for the 2014 Worlds team and is strongest on uneven bars and floor exercise. Dowell, who is taking a year off from competing for the University of Oklahoma, is the first U.S. women’s gymnast with NCAA experience to make an Olympic or Worlds team since Sacramone in 2011.

MyKayla Skinner: Skinner finished third on vault and fourth on floor exercise at the 2014 Worlds and then second to Biles in the all-around at the American Cup on March 7. She was second on vault and third on floor at the P&G Championships in August.

MORE GYMNASTICS: Analyzing U.S. men’s World Championships team

*Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to the University of Oklahoma as Oklahoma University.