STUTTGART, Germany - There were no medals awarded for this performance. Still, what a great night for the Americans to say they have the best gymnastics team in the world.
From Nastia Liukin's graceful comeback to Alicia Sacramone's "Remember Me?" floor routine, the US women set themselves up as the team to beat at these world championships - and maybe next year in Beijing, too - with a razor-sharp and nearly mistake-free romp through the gym in qualifying yesterday.
They scored 245.025 points, 3.85 points better than China.
Maybe the best story belonged to Sacramone, of Winchester, Mass. Last year, she felt gypped by the half-point deduction she received on floor for a small stop during a dance move - a technicality that not even all the judges really agreed upon.
It kept her out of event finals, with no chance to defend her world floor title. She'll get a chance to win it back this year thanks to a 90-second dose of attitude.
"I let it be known, I'm back for floor exercise and everybody better watch out," Sacramone said. "It was like, 'This is for last year.' "
Liukin also looked at last year as a missed opportunity. She hurt her ankle before worlds and has been nursing it back to health ever since.
Liukin finished second in the all-around, one spot behind Steliana Nistor of Romania and just ahead of American national champion Shawn Johnson. Johnson was ahead of Liukin after three events, but fell on her bars dismount.
Closing the deal in Wednesday's finals, will be a more difficult challenge, but the point made yesterday is that the US is a deep, talented threat. China figures to be America's biggest challenger in the finals. Russia and Romania should also be there.