The stars of today were Kyla Ross during the first subdivision and Yao Jinnan during the second subdivision. Kyla got through 4 of her cleanest routines of the year and is looking to be in a position to make two if not three event finals as well as the all around. Floor may be a stretch, but she is second currently and if one of her teammates makes a mistake, it seems possible. She is also first in the all around and second on beam and bars. Yao, meanwhile, had a slightly shakier competition, in particular on beam where she fell. Currently, however, she may still make beam finals and is in first on bars. Her all around total is a little more than a point lower than Kyla’s, but that is with Kyla doing pretty much all that she can and a significant mistake from Yao. They could be close in finals.
Jessica Lopez is currently in 3rd, but almost 3 points below Yao. She performed a great double twisting yurchenko, but had to count a fall in her difficult bars set, and will likely not move on to finals. A realistic goal for her would be top 10, maybe even 8 all around. In fourth is Anna Rodionova, who is also currently 2nd on beam. She had some mistakes today, and will have to wait for Nabieva to compete (or not to compete) to see if she will compete in all around finals. Other well known all arounders who competed today include Rebecca Tunney (5th with a few mistakes) and Elisabeth Seitz (7th).
2008 Olympic vault champion Hong un Jong leads there with an Amanar and a Cheng. It will be interesting to see the American’s scores compared to hers today. Either way, vault finals are shaping up to be interesting. Another surprise (likely) qualifier to vault finals may be Mai Murakami, in second with a DTY and tsuk full. Mai also holds the top spot on floor, and performed a fantastic routine today. Chinese bars specialist Huang Huidan currently sits in 2nd on the event with a 15.133. With Yao in first, however, she has to hope that Shang does not outscore her tomorrow!
Unfortunately, we saw the likely end of event final hopes for some great gymnasts today. Those included Ida Gustafsson, who caught a gorgeous Def on bars (she can hopefully redeem herself in the all around) and Zeng Siqi and Sanne Wevers on beam.
And on to tomorrow, here’s a list of gymnasts competing tomorrow who I believe can challenge for EF or top 10ish all around spots:
Noel Van Klaveren- vault
Tatiana Nabieva- all around, bars
Simone Biles- all of them!
Carlotta Ferlito- beam
Shang Chunsong- all around, bars, beam, floor
Phan Thi Ha Thanh- vault
Larisa Iordache- all around, beam, floor
Vanessa Ferrari- all around, floor
Aliya Mustafina- all of them! (less likely than Simone though)
Ellie Black- vault
Ruby Harrold- bars
McKayla Maroney- all around (has to beat a teammate), vault, floor
Yamilet Peña- vault (with the terrifying Produnova)
Vasiliki Millousi- beam
Giulia Steingruber- all around, vault, floor
Asuka Teramoto- all around, bars, beam
Sandra Izbasa- floor
Victoria Moors- floor
Becky Downie- bars
I am sure that some of this is wishful thinking, but it gives you some idea who is still to come. I am also looking forward to seeing new seniors Noemi Makra and Ilaria Kaeslin, although I think their chances at finals are slim.
A live stream for US viewers starts at 7:30 AM EDT on the USAG youtube page. They will be streaming both subdivision three and four. This link can be used for live scoring, although I have heard that it is unreliable. You can also download the swiss timing java app here.
The results of the first day of prelims at worlds are below. Scores that I have found videos for are linked to those videos! I will add more as they appear.
|8||Leticia de Costa||BRA||14.300||12.466||13.533||12.366||52.665|
|12||Sung Ji Hye||KOR||13.066||13.933||12.366||12.700||52.065|
|18||Karla Torres Nunez||MEX||13.766||11.666||12.033||11.433||48.898|
|20||Farida Ahmed Shokry||EGY||13.366||10.566||12.433||12.166||48.531|
|28||Lo Yu Ju||TPE||13.741||8.300||9.966||12.033||44.040|
|32||Martina Castro Lazo||CHI||13.766||9.866||11.300||34.932|
|34||Hong Un Jong||PRK||15.633||12.016||27.649|
|40||Nicolle Vasquez Aviles||PUR||13.966||11.866||25.832|
|43||Vera van Pol||NED||12.166||12.666||24.832|
|49||Sarah El Dabagh||DEN||9.633||11.500||21.133|
|56||Karina Hube Lopez||CHI||9.975||9.975|
The Chinese National Games are taking place this week, and I have greatly enjoyed watching the incredible bars performances that their gymnasts have been putting out. They, along with the British gymnasts, are bringing out some incredible new skills and combinations that the new code of points is encouraging. The top girls are attempting a F+ release skill and/or crazy release combinations. And the best part is, these routines aren’t all the same. While the Russians produced some great bar work last quad, it was all a Shaposhnikova-variation fest (which the Chinese are doing a bit of too now- and thank god, because it greatly decreases the dead hangs). The Chinese of 2013 show their trademark pirouettes, but each gymnast also has something very unique and exciting in her routine- and occasionally a few things!
Here are some of my favorite routines.
What stands out: The beginning sequence of pike stalder 1/1-chow-pak-chow 1/2, as well as her slow, gorgeous one-arm pirouette and floaty Jaeger. She is one of the few gymnasts of the world doing both el-grip work and piked stalkers. My only complaint is that she shifts her hands so many times on some pirouettes.
What stands out: Yao has the same gorgeous opening chow-pak-chow 1/2 combination as Huang. Below is her hit, “safe” 6.7 routine from qualifications, with wonderful handstands. In team finals, she showed the real deal with a MO SALTO. Unfortunately, she fell, but you can watch the routine here. Or a hit Mo from training here.
What stands out: The piked hindorff, connected to a pak salto. No big deal. She also usually connects her sky-high tkachev and gienger, which you can see in her (missed) TF routine here. Below is her qualification routine, with a conservative 6.7 difficulty.
What stands out: Tan competes a gorgeous maloney-gienger combination and a hindorff-pak combo, as well as ending with a full twisting double layout, which she unfortunately fell on here. She used to connect the hindorff to the gienger, which was pretty cool, but I don’t think anyone can really complain about her current composition.
I don’t think I need to tell you what stands out in He’s routine. It’s the same one that won her a silver at the Olympics last year and the world title in 2009. We all know what she is capable of on this apparatus. With all of these up-and-comers, one might think that He would fall behind in difficulty, but she actually had the highest difficulty in qualification on bars with a 6.8! It has been said that this may be her last competition, and she will be greatly missed in the world of gymnastics. He managed to stay highly competitive on bars in a second quad, even when her body seemed to be working against her. Let’s hope she can say goodbye with a medal, even in this deep field!
The competition for the two EF spots for bars will be fierce between Huang, Yao and Shang, who have been named to the world team. I, for one, can’t wait!
The junior division at classics promises to be interesting as ever this year- with almost 50 competitors, there is a deep field and a lot of potential. Remember, 3 of the 2012 Olympians competed at this meet as juniors in 2009. It’s pretty safe to say that there’s going to be a Rio Olympian competing in the junior division tomorrow!
The junior national team has seen a major overhaul this year- the only two named at nationals last year to stay juniors were Bailie Key and Amelia Hundley. Both will be frontrunners for the all around title tomorrow! Key in particular has done very well this year, and has shown that she is well balanced on every event. Expect huge scores from her on beam and vault! Hundley, meanwhile, has struggled a bit this year but has done well at camp and has the difficulty to challenge the best of the juniors.
Joining them on the current national team are Polina Shchennikova, Nia Dennis and Laurie Hernandez. Hernandez is a fan favorite and a lovely performer who has gained a great deal of difficulty and confidence since last year’s elite season. She won the all around at the Parkettes qualifier with a score in the 57s and can do very well tomorrow. Be sure to listen to her GymCastic interview if you haven’t already! Dennis is another girl who has a great DTY, can fly on bars and shows a great mix of difficulty and amplitude on beam. I don’t think she’s going to be the star of the show right away, but she should certainly be looking to finish on the podium! Shchennikova is not as well balanced of an all arounder as the other national team members, but is a beautiful gymnast who many compare to Nastia Liukin and tends to bring in exceptional bars scores.
There are a few gymnasts who I saw perform at the Parkettes qualifier who I would recommend watching out for. That includes two of Chow’s future stars: Norah Flatley and Alexis Vasquez. Both are fairly similar in their strengths- average juniors on vault, excellent on beam and good but not great on floor. Flatley has a lot of potential on bars with some el-grip work. Both of them strike me as gymnasts who will be excellent in the future, but don’t have the difficulty to challenge the top juniors right now- which is okay as this is their first big elite meet! Another “big” name is Ariana Agrapides, who is a teammate of Hernandez. She has a powerful DTY and keeps up that power on floor. Her biggest success as an elite so far was perhaps winning her session of the American Classic earlier this month. She may be tiny, but Ragan Smith shows some excellent gymnastics, particularly on beam and floor, and finished 2nd to Hernandez in Allentown earlier this year. Look out for her adorable “puttin’ on the ritz” routine! Ashley Foss was at nationals last year, and has had some impressive results this year. It will be interesting to see how her scores hold up against the top juniors. Christina Desiderio of Parkettes finished 2nd to her in Allentown in June, and shows clean and powerful gymnastics. Vanasia Bradley, meanwhile, has a lot of potential but has struggled and has not competed all around in recent meets- it is important that she hits here if she wants her first trip to nationals.
Emily Gaskins and Felicia Hano are both coming off incredibly successful level 10 seasons, and will be competing in their first classics. Gaskins has gorgeous lines and form, although she lacks some of the power of the older juniors. Hano, meanwhile, has a great DTY and looks to have potential on the other events.
Alyssa Baumann, Nica Hults and Alexandra Marks have been to classics before; Baumann has been out injured for a few years, but was once part of a very strong WOGA contingent on the national stage. Hults is gorgeous on beam and bars, and this year is her last chance to make a junior national team- something that fans have been waiting for for years! Marks is somewhat less experienced, but has beautiful lines and is training and even competing some tough skills, including a standing full on beam!
Finally, I’d like to give a shout-out to Lauren Farley and Sydney Johnson-Scharpf. Farley hails from WOGA, and is shows a lot of promise on beam. Johnson-Scharpf has become the darling of the gymternet this year, and shows a lot of sass on floor. She is very talented, but she may need some time to get her routines entirely elite-ready, particularly her bars.
The 2013 Secret US Classic is set to take place on Saturday, July 27th at 6:00 PM CDT and will be streamed live online here. The senior field includes an interesting mix of olympians, trials competitors, and new seniors. Expect to see new skills and routines and perhaps some mistakes. That’s what classics are all about.
The big headline for this competition could be the return of the beloved McKayla Maroney. Maroney looked great in videos from camp a few months ago- her signature Amanar is as high as ever, and she seems to have recovered most of her skills on the other events as well as learned some new ones. It will be interesting to see how many routines she competes- I don’t necessarily expect to see her in the all around. She should expect some pressure for the vault title, though- Mykayla Skinner, in my opinion, does not have much all around potential, but with a good Cheng and an Amanar or DTY, she could compete for any vault title in the world. The same goes for Simone Biles, who is currently competing a superb Amanar and a layout Podkopayeva, but is training a Cheng.
Biles will also be one of the frontrunners in the all around race- in fact, I would almost say that if she hits, she’s guaranteed a win. But I don’t know what to expect from her on anything but vault- bars, beam and floor can be shaky, with missed handstands, falls and bouncy landings. Also expect Kyla Ross, the second returning olympian, to be in contention for the all around title. Her floor difficulty is low as always, but she has new choreography and her bars have become world class. Somewhat unexpectedly, Brenna Dowell has been wining the all around at camps, so we should watch out for her as well. She has power and decent bars, which can be a good equation to make it to the top. Second-year senior Abigail Milliet missed out on trials last year, but has been showing some gorgeous gymnastics this year, and trains Amanars. Meanwhile, Kennedy Baker, a trials competitor, remains a bit of a question mark.
In addition to these gymnasts, there are many new seniors who are getting their feet wet at classics. This includes last year’s JR
national champ Lexie Priessman, although she has been at least partially overshadowed so far this year by newly added national team members Maggie Nichols and Peyton Ernst, who both did well internationally in the spring. Another question mark is 2012 silver medalist, Maddie Desch, who has not yet competed this year but is strong on beam. I expect them all to have a hard time making worlds this year, but improvements could help them make next year’s six-member squad. The same goes for Madison Kocian, who has been dealing with injuries for the past few years but was once a mainstay on the JR national team, and perhaps Rachel Gowey, a brand new elite from chows who has a lot of all around potential but looks like she needs more time to develop.
Other gymnasts competing are Lacy Dagen, Ariana Guerra, Erin Macadaeg and Grace McLaughlin. Notably missing are Elizabeth Price, Katelyn Ohashi, Sabrina Vega and Sarah Finnegan, as well as three Olympians.
I’m looking forward to seeing all of these girls compete. The top two all-around should be carefully followed both here and at nationals, as they will likely make the worlds team. I’m also interested to see who scores well on bars, as they could potentially take a bars specialist spot at worlds next year à la Mackenzie Caquatto.
I watched the (somewhat sketchy) livestream of the Russian Championships last night, and I thought I’d share a few thoughts about what I saw from the top finishers.
Aliya Mustafina- 1st AA 59.85, 1st VT 15.3, 1st UB 15.5, 1st BB 15.45, 3rd FX 13.6
Aliya’s scores pretty much show how her first all around competition since the Olympics went. Her vault was clean, as were her bars. There were some compositional changes on that event, moving certain stalder elements around because of the changes in the code. She also left out the second shaposhnikova half variation, but I expect to see that back for bigger competitions. I love the Onodi to double turn, but would not credit the switch half combo before it. Her confidence competing beam seems to be back to some extent. Aliya’s floor was not great last night. Her new routine will probably grow on me, especially when she performs it at a bigger competition, but the tumbling was a bit off yesterday. She downgraded her 2nd pass and landed it in a deep squat, and her triple full was uglier than usual. I’m not too worried, though. Mustafina always shows up looking prepared when she needs to.
Anastasia Grishina- 2nd AA 57.4, 4th VT 14.9, 2nd UB 15.0, 4th BB 14.9, 14th FX 12.6
I make it no secret that I love Grishina but am constantly frustrated by her. Yesterday was no exception, although I do think she looked a bit more confident with her new coaches. It’s hard to say from one competition. Her bars were pretty good, but I don’t like the Van Leeuwen. I get that 9/10 of the Russian team does them and it’s an E, but she doesn’t seem confident with it and doesn’t perform it well. I thought that although she missed some connections, her beam looked pretty good. Floor, however, was a bit of a mess. The double double was landed low (I wonder if they will end up keeping this), she competed a double full instead of her triple and she fell on her double pike dismount. Now that she’s doing a 2 1/2, I wonder if her coaches would consider making her final pass a double tuck. Her double tuck looked pretty good last year. The Memmel to illusion turn is a bit questionable because her Memmel rarely gets around, but it could be pretty.
Evgenia Shelgunova- 3rd AA 57.25, 6th VT 14.75, 7th UB 13.95, 2nd BB 14.95, 3rd FX 13.6
I am pretty sure that whenever I talk about Shelgunova, I sound like a terrible person. I have not been a fan ever since I first saw her vault in 2010. Having said that, I see the appeal. She’s a Russian who can hit beam, and really all events, under pressure. The idea that she would be taken to Europeans as an all arounder instead of Grishina, however, is crazy to me. Grishina didn’t have a good competition yesterday and beat her all around. She is better on every event when they both hit.
Now that my Grishina vs. Shelgunova rant is over, I pretty much saw what I expected from her. Shelgunova needs to clean up bars. Her routine has difficulty, but she is just not capable of executing it decently. The leg separations alone should get her .3 deductions on every skill that is rated D or above in the routine. This is not a routine that should go up in a major international competition. The other routine of hers shown was floor, which looked good. Her tumbing was clean and well landed. No complaints there. I want to like her, but I’m having a tough time actually doing it.
Ksenia Afanasyeva- 4th AA 56.85, 3rd VT 15.2, 11th UB 13.45, 8th BB 13.85, 1st FX 14.35
I’m so happy to see Afanasyeva continue to compete, and she did a pretty good job yesterday. Her floor was gorgeous. I think she may have gone out of bounds on her double layout, but it was a great routine overall. She’s another one who has added a beautiful turn combo. Her vault, from the scores, seems to have been great for her, but beam may have been rough. Neither was shown.
I only saw her floor, where she missed her triple full, but Dementyeva did not have a great meet. She seems to have hit bars, but that’s not going to be enough to take her to euros, and I don’t think any of her other scores were good enough to get her another chance in event finals here. Pavlova seems to have hit (she definitely hit bars and floor, which were shown), but she was never going to make another major team. Kristina Goryunova actually had a pretty good meet, but she isn’t scoring well enough on her best event, beam, to be considered as a specialist. Paseka and Nabieva both competed only on vault and floor. Paseka outscored Nabieva on both events, so if one of them is going to go to Euros, it should be Paskea, even without the Amanar. Actually, hopefully without the Amanar.
Right now, I’d say that the European team should be Mustafina, Grishina, Afanasyeva and Shelgunova OR Paseka. Mustafina and Grishina have chances at all around medals, along with a few possible event finals. Afanasyeva could medal on floor and make beam finals. Shelgunova could make the all around if Grishina bombs prelims, and possibly beam finals if selected. Paseka might be able to medal on vault.
Alexandra McMurtry of Richmond Olympiad won the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup on her third try, scoring 38.45. She had to absorb a very low 8.925 on bars in the first rotation, but came back to win event titles on beam, floor and vault on her way to winning the all around. The highlights of her performance for me included her first DTY and her sky-high first two passes (full-in and 2 1/2 to barani) with stuck, chest up landings. She is going to be fantastic at Florida.
Finishing in second place was Aja-Monet Sims of Brandy Johnson’s. She performed a solid beam routine for 3rd place on the event. I was particularly impressed with her floor choreography, which she seemed to enjoy. She also has a very nice Comaneci on bars, which was not shown in the broadcast but could be seen in the background.
Samantha Partyka, who some readers may remember from VISAs in 2010 and 2011, performed steadily all around and was the only gymnast to place top-10 on every event, finishing third overall. She looks much more mature than in years past and I am looking forward to seeing what she can bring to the level 10 scene and then the college scene in the next few years.
One pleasant surprise and the leader heading into the final rotation was Kari Lee, who eventually finished fourth. She performed clean, beautiful gymnastics, especially on beam where she earned the fifth-highest score of the night. She has an original mount and a layout stepout layout stepout series, which I love.
The top junior finisher was Reagan Campbell of Texas Dreams. She was especially impressive on floor, where she performed a nice full in, paired with beautiful choreography. She really does some beautiful gymnastics, and will do great regardless of whether she decides to stay level 10 or try elite again after this year.
Defending champion Charity Jones finished in a tie for 8th place. She had a decent meet, but had some small mistakes and didn’t quite look as sharp as she did last year, but I’m sure we’ll see her looking fantastic at Oklahoma a year from now!
Brianna Brown, who qualified with the highest score, earned the top score on bars but scratched beam and floor due to an injury. Hopefully we will see her come back strong for JO nationals!
Despite her not-so-impressive 23rd place finish, little Sydney Johnson-Scharpf was one of the stars of the show and is certainly one to look out for in the future. I think her bas and vault still need some work, but she is spectacular on beam and floor. NBC did not completely ignore the rightful winner and show her in their American Cup broadcast for no reason.
I was very impressed by all of the competitors this year, and imagine that we will see most of them doing great things over the next few years!
Click here for full results.