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Team USA – 2013 Team Analysis

January 3, 2014

Alright, here are all of the numbers that you never knew you wanted. You may still not want them, but if you’re a super nerd like me, analyzing teams is fun! Here are some select optimized teams using team USA’s 2013 scores. This kind of optimization, particularly with the average scores, was quite successful in predicting the members of the fierce five (not that we didn’t all see that team coming).

These are not all of the teams that I have calculated (only about 1/3), and if you are interested in seeing more of them, I’d be happy to publish them as well (or send you my mess of a spreadsheet). I am, however, only going to publish two teams in each category of gymnast’s high scores, low scores, average scores and highest credited difficulty scores.  Those categories are

  • Six-person teams using scores of gymnasts from the 2013 Senior National Team
    This is essentially who we would expect to have made a world team this year if there had been a team competition at worlds
  • Five-person teams using scores of gymnasts from the 2013 Senior and Junior National Teams, in addition to gymnasts who are not on the current national team but competed internationally this year
    These teams can be thought of as a super early, unrealistic Rio prediction. Please keep in mind, this is just what the number are telling us. If I took a stats class, maybe I would be able to calculate how unrepresentative this type of data has been in the past, but I’m not really into stats (okay, this is all kind of stats related, but I used CS so it’s okay!)

These scores are almost all from USAG’s official results page. If difficulty scores weren’t listed there, the girls lose out on that difficulty. If somebody wants to provide additional difficulty scores, feel free to do so. I got some of the Mexican Open scores, but not all of them. I wanted to include that because it was a legitimate international assignment. You can see the scores I was working with here (I strongly recommend downloading the excel file).

Alright, here they are. Some of the teams, with counting scores in bold!


6 Seniors Vault Bars Beam Floor All Around
Simone Biles 15.933 14.850 15.100 15.233 61.116
McKayla Maroney 16.000 14.300 12.666 15.250 58.216
Elizabeth Price 15.700 14.833 13.833 14.466 58.832
Kyla Ross 15.366 15.500 15.250 14.500 60.616
MyKayla Skinner 15.250 13.550 14.250 15.000 58.050
Madison Kocian 14.950 15.000 14.800 13.700 58.450
Total 47.633 45.350 45.150 45.483 183.616
5 Gymnasts Vault Bars Beam Floor All Around
Simone Biles 15.933 14.85 15.1 15.233 61.116
McKayla Maroney 16 14.3 12.666 15.25 58.216
Elizabeth Price 15.7 14.833 13.833 14.466 58.832
Kyla Ross 15.366 15.5 15.25 14.5 60.616
Bailie Key 15.1 14.45 15.55 15 60.1
Total 47.633 45.183 45.9 45.483 184.199


6 Seniors Vault Bars Beam Floor All Around
Simone Biles 15.852 14.391 14.485 14.692 59.419
McKayla Maroney 15.775 14.300 12.666 14.696 57.437
Kyla Ross 15.247 15.250 14.759 14.069 59.325
Kennedy Baker 14.117 13.617 14.417 14.300 56.450
Madison Kocian 14.700 14.517 13.617 13.417 56.250
Madison Desch 14.600 12.175 13.733 14.650 55.158
 Total 46.874 44.157 43.661 44.037 178.729
5 Gymnasts Vault Bars Beam Floor All Around
Simone Biles 15.852 14.391 14.485 14.692 59.419
McKayla Maroney 15.775 14.300 12.666 14.696 57.437
Kyla Ross 15.247 15.250 14.759 14.069 59.325
Norah Flatley 13.783 14.000 15.050 13.467 56.300
Katelyn Ohashi 14.900 14.566 15.333 14.400 59.199
Total 46.874 44.207 45.142 43.787 180.010

note: I let Ohashi’s scores count as highs and averages, but I am not counting them as lows.

6 Seniors Vault Bars Beam Floor All Around
Kennedy Baker 13.850 13.550 14.300 14.050 55.750
Simone Biles 15.733 13.05 13.133 13.7 55.616
Madison Kocian 14.450 14.100 12.800 12.900 54.250
McKayla Maroney 15.6 14.3 12.666 14.333 56.899
Elizabeth Price 14.233 12.25 13.5 14.366 54.349
Kyla Ross 15.166 14.55 14.533 13.35 57.599
Total 46.499 42.950 42.333 42.749 174.531
5 Gymnasts Vault Bars Beam Floor All Around
Kennedy Baker 13.850 13.550 14.300 14.050 55.750
Simone Biles 15.733 13.05 13.133 13.7 55.616
Norah Flatley 13.750 13.750 14.600 13.250 55.350
McKayla Maroney 15.6 14.3 12.666 14.333 56.899
Kyla Ross 15.166 14.55 14.533 13.35 57.599
Total 46.499 42.600 43.433 42.083 174.615


6 Seniors Vault Bars Beam Floor All Around
Simone Biles 6.3 6.1 6.3 6.5 25.2
Peyton Ernst 5.8 6.0 6.3 6.0 24.1
Kyla Ross 5.8 6.4 6.0 5.7 23.9
MyKayla Skinner 6.4 5.6 6.2 6.4 24.6
Lexie Priessman 6.3 5.9 5.4 6.3 23.9
Elizabeth Price 5.8 6.3 0.0 0.0 12.1
Total 19 18.8 18.8 19.2 75.8
5 Gymnasts Vault Bars Beam Floor All Around
Simone Biles 6.3 6.1 6.3 6.5 25.2
Brenna Dowell 6.3 6.1 5.8 6.2 24.4
Kyla Ross 5.8 6.4 6.0 5.7 23.9
MyKayla Skinner 6.4 5.6 6.2 6.4 24.6
Bailie Key 5.8 5.4 6.5 6.0 23.7
Total 19.0 18.6 19.0 19.1 75.7


  • Biles, Maroney and Ross are on all of the teams (excluding difficulty for Maroney). They really are carrying this team
  • I expected to see Brenna and Bailie on more of these teams.
  • I was surprised to see Flatley, Baker and Desch on these teams, especially the average score teams which are most representative of the true situation.
  • There were 924 possible combinations of gymnasts to make up each of the 6 senior teams. There were 26,334(!) possible combinations of gymnasts to make up each of the 5 gymnast teams. Math is fun, guys!

Some Thoughts on Day One of Prelims

October 2, 2013

Kyla Ross (photo: USA gymnastics)

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:

Subdivision 3
Noel Van Klaveren-
Tatiana Nabieva-
all around, bars
Simone Biles-
all of them!
Carlotta Ferlito-
Shang Chunsong-
all around, bars, beam, floor
Phan Thi Ha Thanh-
Subdivision 4
Larisa Iordache-  
all around, beam, floor
Vanessa Ferrari-
all around, floor
Aliya Mustafina-
all of them! (less likely than Simone though)
Ellie Black-
Ruby Harrold-
McKayla Maroney-
all around (has to beat a teammate), vault, floor
Subdivision 5
Yamilet Peña-
vault (with the terrifying Produnova)
Vasiliki Millousi-
Giulia Steingruber-
all around, vault, floor
Asuka Teramoto-
all around, bars, beam
Sandra Izbasa-
Victoria Moors-
Becky Downie- 

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.

Antwerp Prelims- Results and Videos Page

October 1, 2013

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.

Name/Country Vault Bars Beam Floor AA
1 Kyla Ross USA 15.166 15.133 14.566 14.333 59.198
2 Yao Jinnan CHN 14.766 15.433 14.100 13.666 57.965
3 Jessica Lopez VEN 14.733 13.433 13.133 13.766 55.065
4 Anna Rodionova RUS 13.933 13.800 14.466 12.400 54.599
5 Rebecca Tunney GBR 14.866 13.600 12.200 13.466 54.132
6 Laura Waem BEL 13.900 13.533 13.433 12.766 53.632
7 Elisabeth Seitz GER 14.400 14.266 12.433 12.433 53.532
8 Leticia de Costa BRA 14.300 12.466 13.533 12.366 52.665
9 Dorina Boczogo HUN 13.666 13.033 13.066 12.733 52.498
10 Ida Gustafsson SWE 13.866 12.541 12.633 13.100 52.140
11 Sophie Scheder GER 14.166 14.566 10.966 12.433 52.131
12 Sung Ji Hye KOR 13.066 13.933 12.366 12.700 52.065
13 Lisa Verschueren BEL 13.700 13.200 12.966 11.733 51.599
14 Nadia Muelhauser SUI 13.900 12.500 12.000 12.033 50.433
15 Cinta Rodriguez ESP 13.200 12.566 11.400 13.100 50.266
16 Marcela Sandoval COL 13.233 12.758 12.033 12.133 50.157
17 Lisa Ecker AUT 13.833 12.466 11.600 11.700 49.599
18 Karla Torres Nunez MEX 13.766 11.666 12.033 11.433 48.898
19 Mira Boumejmajen FRA 13.183 12.266 11.200 12.166 48.815
20 Farida Ahmed Shokry EGY 13.366 10.566 12.433 12.166 48.531
21 Park Jisoo KOR 13.233 10.908 12.066 12.316 48.523
22 Demet Mutlu TUR 13.600 10.000 10.600 11.658 45.858
23 India McPeak IRL 12.566 10.633 11.333 11.266 45.798
24 Alice Janova CZE 11.266 11.866 11.266 11.133 45.531
25 Haldis Naerum NOR 12.700 10.600 11.300 10.900 45.500
26 Nicole Szabo RSA 11.600 11.233 11.100 11.566 45.499
27 Katrina Regidor CRC 13.233 10.766 10.075 11.200 45.274
28 Lo Yu Ju TPE 13.741 8.300 9.966 12.033 44.040
29 Shaked Malec ISR 13.600 9.900 10.066 10.366 43.932
30 Ayana Lee JAM 12.900 9.833 8.766 10.6 42.099
31 Alessia Leolini ITA 13.866 12.491 12.666 39.023
32 Martina Castro Lazo CHI 13.766 9.866 11.300 34.932
33 Mai Murakami JPN 14.558 14.466 29.024
34 Hong Un Jong PRK 15.633 12.016 27.649
35 Maegan Chant CAN 13.366 13.333 26.699
36 Makarena Pinto CHI 14.000 12.633 26.633
37 Kaitlyn Hofland CAN 12.933 13.600 26.533
38 Valerija Grisane LAT 13.766 12.466 26.232
39 Yu Minobe JPN 13.133 12.766 25.899
40 Nicolle Vasquez Aviles PUR 13.966 11.866 25.832
41 Michelle Lauritsen DEN 13.000 12.200 25.200
42 Alina Stanila ROU 12.266 12.700 24.966
43 Vera van Pol NED 12.166 12.666 24.832
44 Anna Geidt KAZ 12.866 11.866 24.732
45 Paula Mejias PUR 12.866 11.333 24.199
46 Melany Cabrera CHI 11.300 12.233 23.533
47 Inna Vassilyeva KAZ 11.800 11.700 23.500
48 Alexandra Choon POR 10.700 11.733 22.433
49 Sarah El Dabagh DEN 9.633 11.500 21.133
50 Huang Huidan CHN 15.133 15.133
51 Ofir Nezer ISR 14.300 14.300
52 Francesca Deagostini ITA 13.908 13.908
53 Zeng Siqi CHN 13.900 13.900
54 Sanne Wevers NED 12.233 12.233
55 Evangelia Plyta GRE 11.466 11.466
56 Karina Hube Lopez CHI 9.975 9.975

Chinese National Team: Stepping it up on Bars

September 5, 2013

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.

Huang Huidan

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.

Yao Jinnan

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.

Shang Chunsong

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.

Tan Jiaxin

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.

He Kexin

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!

Secret Classic Preview: Juniors

July 26, 2013

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 HundleyBoth 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 BaumannNica 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.

Click here for a full roster.

Secret Classic Preview: Seniors

July 23, 2013

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.

McKayla Maroney (photo: NBC)

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.

Is Simone Biles America’s top all-arounder? (photo: inside gymnastics)

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 DagenAriana 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.

Some Thoughts on Day 1 of the Russian Championships

March 4, 2013

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.

Other competitors

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.

Links: Full Results/Videos

Alex McMurtry Wins Nastia Liukin Cup

March 4, 2013

USA Gymnastics: March 1, 2013 - Competition &emdash; Alex McMurtry - All-Around Champion

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.

2013 American Cup Recap

March 4, 2013

USA Gymnastics: March 2, 2013 - Competition &emdash; Katelyn Ohashi
As we all know at this point, Katelyn Ohashi won the American Cup yesterday followed by her teammate Simone Biles and Canadian Victoria Moors. I actually thought that the competition overall was very good. We pretty much knew that one of the Americans was going to win it from the beginning, but the international athletes actually almost all went 4/4 and gave great performances. The scoring wasn’t horrendous and there were no big scandals this year. USAG was fantastic in providing coverage of both podium training and the competition, and hopefully has set a standard for themselves that will continue throughout the quadrennium.

Ohashi was consistent throughout and looked fairly calm. Her vault looks 1000x better than it did last summer when it looked like a serious knee injury was in her future. Her bars still need some work. I’m almost tempted to say that she should ditch her E pirouettes and try working on something else. They no longer earn her .2 connection bonus when connected to each other or releases, and she is losing tenths for leg separations and handstands on them every single time. Her beam and floor looked good- both had small errors, but still scored well and showed that she is an athlete who is not afraid to downgrade in the moment to avoid a fall, even if she loses a few tenths. This was all we could have asked for in her senior international debut.

It was the first international competition for Biles, and it sort of showed. She looked fantastic on vault and bars, winning both events, but fell apart a bit on beam and floor. Her Amanar is gorgeous and could legitimately be a triple by the end of the year. This amount of power makes her a prime-candidate for huge floor scores, but it won’t happen if she can’t gain some control over her landings. She gets a huge amount of air on her tumbling passes, but she consistently has .3+ landing deductions on them. Her bars have significantly improved since 2012, and are not going to be a problem for her all around hopes if she continues on her upward trajectory. Beam was her downfall last night, but I hope to see that improve. She looked great in training, and her full-in dismount is top notch. Simone obviously has tons of potential, but we’ll have to see how she can harness it. Hopefully we’ll see her compete later this month in Europe.

Third place finisher Victoria Moors has long been a fan favorite for her floor routines, but has emerged over the past year as a solid all around competitor. Her double twisting yurchenko looked great yesterday, and her bars and beam, while not huge in difficulty, are very steady. Floor is obviously where she shines with her double double, 1 1/2 to 3/1 and double tuck, paired with fabulous expression. I am hoping for a floor medal for her at this year’s worlds, and it is certainly a possibility.

Germany’s Elisabeth Seitz, a mainstay on the world cup circuit since her senior debut in 2010, finished fourth. Seitz has always been a bit of a trickster, but performed clean, safe routines Saturday. She looks to be in good shape after the Olympics, although she will be skipping the European Championships to finish up her high school exams. By the time worlds come around, I expect her to once again be in shape to fight for a spot in the top 10 all around and bars finals.

Vanessa Ferrari finished fifth, and has retained most of her skills from the Olympics. She still has a strong presence on the Italian team, which is getting better and better every year. Her most impressive event, of course, is floor. Compositionally, I’m not totally impressed with her routine this year. She has taken advantage of the lack of combination pass requirement in this code and is doing four double back variations, one with a sort of connected back tuck (I absolutely hate this trend). It is still impressive, however, to see her compete year after year, improving her form and completely changing her style.

Great Britain’s Gabrielle Jupp was also making her senior debut, and looked great all around. She doesn’t quite have the difficulty to compete with the top gymnasts in the world in the all around yet, but she has clean, upgradable routines on all of the events and in my opinion should be a lock for Euros this year. She is especially impressive on beam, where she performs a gorgeous layout steopout layout stepout series and a double turn. Her bars set is highlighted by a clean full twisting double layout dismount.

Japanese Olympian Asuka Teramoto competed better than you would assume considering her 7th place finish. She looked great on bars, and generally pretty solid on bars and beam. Her acro series, front aerial-side somi, impressed me because it was incredibly fluid. I wouldn’t say that she was “screwed over” on floor, but she did lose over .5 in difficulty on an under-rotated 3/1 dismount. Honestly, I think that it might not be a bad idea for her to try switching her 3rd and 4th passes to be safe.

It was a bit of a rough senior international debut for Canada’s Maegan Chant, but hopefully she can view it as a learning experience. She has some built-in deductions, especially on bars, that need fixing, but she certainly has the potential, especially on vault and floor. She competed a beautiful double twisting tsukahara a few years ago, and that with her layout barani could take her to vault finals at the world level.

Kyla Ross did not compete, but her beam exhibition was solid as ever and she looked very good in training. Hopefully we’ll see some upgrades from her in Europe later this month!

Links: Full Results/NBC Broadcast/Individual Routines (NBC)/Unaired Routines/First 90 Minutes Broadcast

2013 Nastia Liukin Cup Preview

March 1, 2013

Gabby Douglas at the 2010 Nastia Cup (photo:

Over the past three years, the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup has become somewhat of  a mainstay in the level 10/elite gymnastics world. While there have been some complaints from fans about the cup “not being a real level 10 meet” and “drawing in too many former/current elites,” there is no denying that the competitors who qualify are a) extremely talented and b) ecstatic to be competing on the American Cup podium with Nastia looking on.

Competitors in the past have included many current collegiate stars, such as Diandra Milliner (Alabama), Kim Jacob (Alabama), Lia Del Priore (Utah), Georgia Dabritz (Utah), Lloimincia Hall (LSU), Sachi Sugiyama (Michigan), Caitlin Atkinson (Auburn) and Tory Wilson (Utah). Competitors have included many of the top level 10s (some with elite experience) who have yet to attend college, such as Charity Jones, Grace Williams and Alex McMurtry. Briley Casanova, Asi Peko and Kayla Williams had all been part of the US National team prior to competing at the Supergirl Cup, and Williams had won the world vault title. Gymnasts who have gone on from the Nastia Cup to make the US National team include Amelia Hundley, Mykayla Skinner, Polina Shchennikova, current junior national all around champion Lexie Priessman and, saving the best for last, current Olympic All Around Champion Gabrielle Douglas. For a competition that has only been going on for three years, that’s a pretty impressive list.

The gymnasts who qualified with the top scores for this year’s meet were Aja Monet-Sims and Brianna Brown with 38.725. They have both previously competed elite, and Brown made the junior national team in 2011. They have also both committed to compete in rival SEC schools, Alabama and Georgia. With lots of experience and talent, they may be hard to beat.

Charity Jones, 2012 Winner with a Chance to Defend Her Title (Photo: John Cheng)

The 2012 champion, Charity Jones, is returning to the cup in 2013 with her eyes on the prize. If she wins, she will be the first gymnast to earn two Supergirl Cup victories. Perhaps her most impressive event is vault, where she competes a strong yurchenko double full, but she is a steady competitor all around and will not give up easily. This is her last season as a level 10 before heading to compete for the currently first ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

Alex McMurty would like to think that third time’s a charm. She has competed in the Nastia Liukin Cup every year since 2011, and would love to improve ever-so-slightly on her second place finish last year. She has been highly successful as a level 10, winning two JO national titles and has recently committed to compete for the Florida Gators. Her power is displayed on vault, where she competed a yurchenko double full, and floor, where she has elite-level tumbling.

Another current JO national champion competing is Alicia Boren. She had one of the highest qualifying scores, and is certainly one to watch for, especially on floor where she competes a 1 1/2 to double tuck first pass and a full in last pass, which is rare even in elite.

Mackenzie Brannan will be competing at her second Nastia Liukin Cup after qualifying in 2011. She spent the last quad as an elite, but has returned to level 10 for this season. She is very clean on every event and will join Brown on the University of Alabama gymnastics team in 2014.

Two final gymnasts who I’d like to mention are Sydney Johnson-Scharpf and Bailey Ferrer. Both are very young, and have elite hopes. Johnson-Scharpf is the daughter of 1988 Olympian Brandy Johnson, has a great floor routine, and is (barely!) 2016 eligible. Ferrer is not 2016 eligible, but had one of the highest qualifying scores for this meet and is training some pretty awesome skills, including a Fabrichnova, double arabian half out and yes, an Amanar.

Of course, almost anyone competing tonight could win. We may or may not see a future olympic team member tonight, but we are guaranteed to see some great gymnastics.

For live scores and a webcast, click here. For a full list of competitors, click here. The meet will also be broadcast live on the Universal Sports TV channel.