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Simone Biles Flies High Above the Rest at the 2015 P&G National Championships


Simone Biles once again put her name in the history books, earning her third consecutive national title, with a two-day combined score of 124.1 and a out of this world 63 all-around score on the second day. The race for second and third was tight and changed throughout the night, but Maggie Nichols who shone from start to finish, managed to claim the silver with a 119.15. Aly Raisman grabbed the bronze with a 118.55. Key followed closely for fourth with a 118.35 and Douglas rounded out the top group with a 117.95.

Biles began the nights with a 61.1 all-around, a 1.4 lead over Nichols. Douglas, Raisman and Key all followed closely at just over a point to 1.2 behind. There was a full house at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the crowd was electric. The one at a time format made sure each gymnast got their due.

Rotation One began with Nichols on bars. She started her evening out with a bang, showing off her light, flowing bar routine with a stick to boot for a 14.8. Ross was up next on vault, delivering a double twisting yurchenko, but landed with her chest quite low for a 14.55. Douglas followed suit on bars, delivering a strong routine on her best event with just a small hop on landing. Biles started the night out on beam. This event has been a trial for her this week, but she overcame her earlier jitters with one of her best beam routines ever, including a stick on her dismount scoring an out of this world 15.9.

Raisman also got started on her best event, rocking the entire arena with her sky high tumbling, and hitting two solid floor routines in a row (minus a blip on her split half to end) for a 15.5. Key finished up the top group on beam as well. Redeeming her fall yesterday, she hit a great routine for a 14.55. At the end of the rotation Raisman had moved up a spot to third, overtaking Olympic teammate Douglas.

Rotation two kicks off with four big hitters in a row. Starting with Raisman on vault. She threw her amanar and landed with a locked knee but seemed to be ok, scoring a 15.35. After a great warm-up, Kyla fell on her dismount once again on bars, earning a 14.05. Douglas had a good beam routine with a few wobbles to earn a 14.2. Biles completely redeemed herself on floor, sticking her last pass for good measure for a whopping15.85.

Ashton Locklear nailed her bar routine, scoring a 15.45. Key took the floor with her tuxedo ringmaster leo to perform an enchanting routine that earned a 14.7. Nichols was last up on beam, where she competed a solid beam routine earning a 14.65. At the end of rotation, Raisman had gone into second, overtaking Nichols by .35.

Key led off rotation three on vault with a double twisting yurchenko. She has a fairly large hop on the landing but is beautiful in the air for a 15.2. Skinner hits her packed floor routing two nights in a row, earning a 14.8. Next up are Gowey and Kocian on bars, both trying to show their contributions to the team as bars specialists. Gowey scored a 14.7 and Kocian scored a 15.6 for her gorgeous bar routine. Nichols danced her way through her high tumbling floor routine for a 14.15. Biles followed her on vault, rocking her amanar for a sky high e-score of 9.9 and a 16.3.

Raisman was up on bars, where she did one of her cleaner bar routines for a 14.1. Ross looked to redeem herself on beam, showing a solid routine with a stuck dismount scoring a 15.25. Douglas finished out the rotation rocking her floor routine and improved by almost point from night one for a 14.8. At the end of the rotation Biles was in the lead followed by Raisman, Nichols, Key and then Douglas, all separated by eight tenths.

The last rotation was a battle for the podium, led out by Nichols on vault. Nichols hit a great amanar for a 15.85. Douglas vaulted a clean double twisting yurchenko with a small hop for a 15.15. Biles finished out one of her most dominant nights of competition on bars, where she earned a 14.95, totaling a 63 all-around for the night. Raisman followed on beam, needing the beam routine of her life to hold on to second. She was solid, scoring a 14.95, but it was not enough to hold on to second. Ross hit her tumbling passes on her floor routine, but missed a lot of her leaps and looked tired at the end, earning a 13.8. Key ended on bars, with a beautiful routine, just one overbalanced handstand to score a 15.3, pulling up into fourth. Alyssa Baumann finished out an incredible night of competition with her beautiful beam routine for a 15.05.

Biles won her second national championship on vault, with Skinner for the silver. Kocian took the bars title followed by Locklear, then Key. Biles won another title on beam, with Baumann taking the silver and Ross the Bronze. Raisman won another floor national title followed by Biles for silver with Key and Skinner tying for bronze.

At the end of the night, Aimee Bowman was named coach of the year, Biles was named athlete of the year and Raisman was named sportsman of the year. The national team named on this night were the top six in the all-around Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols, Aly Raisman, Bailie Key, Gabby Douglas and Madison Kocian. Also added to the team were Nia Dennis, MyKayla Skinner, Alyssa Baumann and Kyla Ross.

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Vault

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Photo by Christy Linder

Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnastics

MG Elite Battles it Out for Junior Gold at the the 2015 P&G National Championships


Laurie Hernandez of MG Elite finally took her own junior national title, defeating defending national champion and teammate Jazmyn Foberg by one tenth. She scored a two day-total of 117.50 for the gold. Foberg put up an incredible fight, with her strongest all-around showing yet, scoring a 117.40. Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams wowed the crowd on floor and beam, taking bronze with a 116.45.

The juniors entered into day two with Jazmyn Foberg of MG Elite the surprise leader in a bid to defend her national title with a 58.35. She held the lead over teammate Laurie Hernandez who trailed by six tenths. Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams followed by five tenths in third.

In the first rotation, Foberg led off on vault with her strongest vault yet, a double twisting yurchenko that rivals any of the seniors, scoring a 15.2.  Hernandez followed up with a strong vault of her own, scoring just below her with a 15.1. Smith started on beam, where she delivered a rock solid beam routine worthy of a senior world team finals, scoring a 15.2. Aloyna Shchennikova scored a 14.35 on bars. The three leaders continued to distance themselves from the rest of the field in this rotation, but the order remained the same.

Smith was the highlight of rotation two, bringing down the house with her floor routine that is so full of personality, charm and sky high tumbling to earn a 14.65. Hernandez did her best bar routine yet, stuck landing and all for a huge score of 15.2. Foberg answered with a huge bar routine of her own, scoring a 14.65. However, it was not enough to stay in the lead, as Hernandez pulled into the lead by half a tenth!

Rotation three began with Jordan Chiles on floor, who put together a strong routine after a rough go on beam in rotation two. Christina Desiderio did a beautiful beam routine. While neither was able to break their way into the top three, they solidly held their places in fourth and fifth. Foberg was up first of the top three. She had a super solid go on beam, earning a sky high 9.0 escore and a 14.7. Smith put up a tight, clean vault for a 14.9. Hernandez answered with a 9.0 escore of her own and a 14.7, staying in the lead.

The last rotation in an eight rotation battle for gold begins with Foberg on floor. She tumbled more cleanly than ever before, but went out of bounds twice. Still, she improved her score from night one by three tenths for a 14.5. Smith did an excellent bar routine with a stuck landing to cap off her amazing competition and a 14.3. Hernandez needed to improve her night one score by one tenth to tie. She answered the challenge with a 14.55 to take the National Title. Chiles ended the night with a solid vault and in fourth.

The individual events had a few others make their way into the top three. Jordan Chiles won vault and Emily Gaskins took the bronze. Alyona Shchennikova took the bronze on bars and Christina Desiderio took the bronze on floor. The top three all-arounders took all the other medals. Results below with full results on pgchamps.com.

Laurie Hernandez, Jazmyn Foberg, Ragan Smith, Jordan Chiles, Christina Desiderio, and Sydney Johnson-Scharpf are the new Junior National Team as the top six finishers. Others may be added in the future.

What an epic way to end these three epic junior careers. They are all three eligible for the Rio Olympics next year and definitely made their mark today.

Watch the entire competition, it’s totally worth it!

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Photo by John Cheng

Amelia Hundley Withdraws from Nationals


Amelia Hundley came into Nationals off of a successful outing at the Pan American Games. After a decent night on day one, it has been reported that she is withdrawing from competition with a slight meniscus tear. Updates will be added if more information comes out.

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Earlier, Hundley did an interview with Athletes in Action, where she talked about how her faith and family helped her work through injury as she prepared for the P&G National Championships. It seems she will once again need to rely on these things.

A Night Full of Surprises- Day One Recap of P&G National Championships


The first night of competition for the P&G National Championships was quite a roller coaster, reminiscent of the 2011 National Championships. Three of the top five girls had falls, including a number of falls from girls that were so unexpected, everyone’s jaw dropped. Probably the only two things that went as expected were Simone Biles leading at the end of the night and Maggie Nichols having a fantastic night of competition. Most everything else was fair game to give gymnastics fans quite an emotional ride. And that was after the fan favorite fluff showing the National Champions over the years.

Biles walked away from the night leading the standings, but had a rough night of competition. That being said, most gymnasts would give everything to have a 61.1 on their best night. She began the night with one of her best bar routines, scoring a 15.15. She had a rough day on beam in podium training, but she was able to stay on in competition. However, she had a few significant wobbles, leaving her with a 14.8. Biles moved on to floor, where she showed her characteristic power and charm throughout, until the very end where she landed her easiest tumbling pass on her hands and knees. Even with a fall, she has the second highest floor score, a 14.9. The true test of a champion is seeing how they come back after a mistake. Biles has rarely been tested this way, and she passed with flying colors. She ended her night on vault, where she stuck her sky high amanar, a feat she is usually only able to do in warm up, scoring a whopping 16.5.

Though Biles led the standings at the end, this night belonged to Maggie Nichols. Shining on every event, she posted a 59.7 and led the first three rotations. Starting on vault, Nichols threw her newly debuted amanar, and looked like a veteran. Scoring a 15.8, the same as she did at Classics, she is quickly making her way to be a staple in a world vault line-up. Showing the same consistency on bars, she scored a 14.95, again the same score as at Classics. Nichols moved to beam, where she successfully debuted her new incredibly difficult full twisting double back dismount for a 14.4. She ended her night on floor, where she looked like she was having the time of her life and enchanting the crowd, earning a 14.55.

Gabby Douglas just held on to the third spot, but had a very consistent night to earn a 58.7. Douglas has not returned to her previous level of difficulty, but she is showing a mental toughness and consistency that she didn’t have in 2012. She also started on vault, where she showed a clean DTY that showed lots of room for an easy amanar and scored a 15.1. She moved on to show an easy swinging, high flying bar routine for a 15.3. Douglas went on to beam, and showed another consistent routine for a 14.45. Douglas finished on floor, where she had a lot of wobbles out of her turns and jumps, but managed to hold on to third with a 13.85.

Aly Raisman and Bailie Key each followed by just a half a tenth to finish fourth (58.65) and fifth (58.6) respectively after both having issues on beam. Raisman fell on a jump connection after landing a little off on her layout and Key put her hand down on the beam on the same skill. However, they both had great nights on every other event. Kyla Ross had her own “worst nights” with a fall on her bars dismount (but she made her Bhardwaj) and putting her hand down on floor to finish 12th.

Other notable mentions were the top three girls on bars, who all may have potential to contribute to a world team. They each delivered hit bar routines that go a long way to making their case. Gowey also added a great beam routine, showing she can be used on both events if needed. Alyssa Baumann scored the highest beam score, delivering a 15.1 and was the only one to break a 15. MyKayla Skinner showed great improvement from Secret Classics, and put in a solid performance on each event. Brenna Dowell also had a great night, making her way back to her former elite level. Nia Dennis also put in one of her best performances, landing in the top three scores on vault and beam.

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VAULT

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BARS

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BEAM

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FLOOR

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Preview of P&G Championships – Seniors. What They Have to Prove.


In history past, the National Championships outcome determined many things, including a place on the national and world teams. However, these days it is just an important stepping stone. Ok, maybe a boulder that gets you halfway across the river sized stepping stone, but still, just a step. For today’s gymnast, the selection for a spot on the national and world stage is a journey rather than a result of one important competition. So for each gymnast, the weight of their performance at this competition on their chances for a spot on the national or world team, the size of step this competition is for them, depends on where they are at in their journey. Let’s take a look. (As we look all pics are from Christy Linder’s Facebook page… you’ll want to check it out!)

Just Stay on Course

Right now, there appear to be three ‘lock” positions on this year’s world championship team, Simone Biles, Gabby Doublas and Aly Raisman. Biles has absolutely nothing to prove.  She could fall in the river (or on each event) multiple times, and it just wouldn’t matter. Her only job is to stay healthy and continuing on being one of the most amazing gymnasts in history. Douglas and Raisman don’t have a whole lot to prove either. At both Jesolo and Secret Classics they have shown that they are still able to hang with the best of the best, and are on track to be at the front of the pack come world team selection camp. Barring injury, these three seem to be locks for this year’s World Championship team, and they just need to stay on course to not just make the team, but most likely win more World Championship medals.

Simone Biles finishing vault at the P&G National Championships. Photo by Christy Linder.

Gabby Douglas flying high on bars at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Aly Raisman is sharp on beam at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Step it Up a Little Notch

The next three girls Maggie Nichols, Kyla Ross and Bailie Key seem to be the most likely to take the last three World Championship team spots. They are all strong all-arounders and could definitely contribute to the team on any event if needed. Nichols is probably the surprise leader of this group. Nichols is strong on all four events, and could easily lead off team USA in any one of them. Her super clean amanar vault makes her a huge addition to USA’s vault line-up, and the combination of the two factors make her very close to a lock on the team. However, she is still climbing the ranks and proving herself, so it will be key that she hits at this competition.

Ross and Key are both known for the same things- clean lines, clear heads and consistency. However, the issue for both is that they don’t bring in high enough scores to overcome the four mentioned above. While it is unlikely that any other girls will overtake them in the all-around, there are a handful of girls that can contribute higher scores on an individual event. For Ross to maintain her place as a bars and beam specialist, she will definitely need to show progress towards her newly upgraded bars routine. Both girls will need to score high and hit with consistency.

Maggie Nichols strutting her stuff at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Kyla Ross showing what she is made of at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Bailie Key on beam at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Show Your Specialities

There are a few other girls who have an outside chance of making a worlds team because of one or two events if they are able to consistently and significantly outscore one of the girls above. Numerous combinations of the girls above could make a strong bars line-up for a worlds team, but it is not a sure thing that any of them would medal in an event finals. Madison Kocian, Ashton Locklear, Rachel Gowey and Brenna Dowell would all like to fill that gap. While each of them need to make a strong showing on at least one other event, it is CRUCIAL that they each hit a strong uneven bars routine. From Locklear, who placed fourth at last year’s uneven event finals at the World Championships but has been injured ever since, to Gowey and Kocian coming back from longer injuries, to Dowell making the switch back from NCAA, each gymnast has a rich resume and a strong ground to stand on, but a lot to prove.

Madison Kocian on bars. Podium training at P&G Championships, photo by Christy Linder.

Ashton Locklear on bars. Podium training at P&G Championships, photo by Christy Linder.

Rachel Gowey on bars. Podium training at P&G National Championships. Photo by Christy Linder.

Brenna Dowell on floor. Podium training at P&G National Championships. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp.

Alyssa Baumann was on last year’s world championship team as well, and is a standout on balance beam. While team USA will have a STRONG balance beam line up, again it is less likely for them to top the podium on this event. If Baumann can come in with one of the top beam routines, she might be able to make a case for her spot on the worlds team. However, this would be a VERY tall feat for her.

MyKayla Skinner was another member of last year’s world championship team, but if ever there was a year where you cannot rest on your laurels, it is this year. With Raisman and Nichols in the mix, Skinner has dropped a notch in her contributions on floor and vault. She will need to perform the routines of a lifetime on both events to show that she still has a place on the world team.

Step Up to the Plate

Amelia Hundley has mostly hit when it has counted, and has shown that she can come back and give it her all at the recent Pan American Games. Hundley is a strong all-arounder, and can definitely deliver on bars and floor. However, to keep pace with the other girls who could contribute either as an all-arounder, a bars specialist or a floor specialist, Hundley will have to deliver some of the best routines she has ever performed. As will Madison Desch. Desch was an alternate at the 2015 World Championships and was recently selected to compete at the Pan American Games. Looking like a lock for the all-around, Desch fell on beam and ended up second. While Desch is a strong gymnast, she just needs to show higher scores and more consistency than in the past.

Nia Dennis has been a gymnast that many have expected to top the podiums at this point in her career. Undeniably talented, Dennis could be in the mix. However, her consistency has always been an issue. A recent gym change could be what Dennis needed to move from talented but inconsistent to a contender. If Dennis wants a place on this year’s world team, she will have to reflect that in her competition.

Emily Schild is the picture of clean lines and technically perfect gymnastics. She has been stepping up to every challenge given to her this year, unfortunately, her scores are just not on par with the rest of the field. The same can be said of beautiful to watch Lauren Navvarro and Polina  Shchennikova. Both round out the senior field with gymnastics you don’t want to miss, but often is.

With One Year to Go, The Road to Rio Starts at Next Week’s P&G National Championships


Gabby Douglas at the 2015 Secret U.S. Classic. Photo by Christy Linder

The 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships bring an incredible amount of excitement, as the depth of the women’s field continues to grow. Among the women currently competing are eight world championship medalists and three Olympic medalists. Between them, they have won 21 World and Olympic medals, the World team titles in 2011 and 2014 and the team gold medal at the Olympic Games in 2012. This year also brings the current World Champion head to head with the current Olympic Champion at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Aug. 13-16.

Simone Biles of World Champions Centre, the reigning two time World all-around champion, will seek to defend her National title and tie Kim Zmeskal for three consecutive National all-around titles. Looking to make their own mark will be returning Olympic all-around champion Gabrielle Douglas of Buckeye and Olympic medalist Aly Raisman of Brestyan’s American Gymnastics, competing in their first National Championships since the Olympics. Biles and Douglas went one-two in the recent Secret U.S. Classic competition.

Fellow Olympic medalist Kyla Ross of Gym-Max will be competing, along with junior standout Bailie Key of Texas Dreams, who will be making her senior National Championship debut. Maggie Nichols of Twin City Twisters will also take the stage, as she seeks to make the podium at nationals after finishing third at the recent Secret U.S. Classic.

In addition to Biles and Ross, the remaining 2014 World Champion team gold medalists will all be competing: Alyssa Baumann and Madison Kocian of WOGA, Ashton Locklear of Everest Gymnastics and MyKayla Skinner of Desert Lights. Joining them will be the five members of the women’s team that recently won the team gold at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Ont., Canada:  Madison Desch of GAGE, Rachel Gowey of Chow’s Gymnastics, Amelia Hundley of Cincinnati Gymnastics, Emily Schild Everest Gymnastics and Megan Skaggs of Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta.

These athletes will be vying for spots on the National Team as well as invitations to the 2015 World Championship selection camp. With only one year left to the Olympics, every competition is significant in building each gymnasts resume as they make their bid for a spot on the 2016 Olympic team.

In addition to the incredibly exciting senior competition, will be an equally intense junior competition. Many of this year’s juniors will be eligible for Rio next year, and they will be looking to carve out their own spots on this year’s National Team. The junior women’s field includes reigning U.S junior champion Jazmyn Foberg of MG Elite and her teammate Lauren Hernandez who has taken gold in both junior competitions she has competed in this year, including the Secret U.S. Classic.

The junior women will take the floor for the first day of competition on Thursday, Aug. 13 at 1 p.m. followed by the seniors at 7 p.m. They will compete again on Saturday, Aug. 15, adding the two day total to determine the national titles. The juniors will again be at 1 p.m. and the seniors at 7:30 p.m. The full roster is listed below.

For more information go to pgchamps.com.

2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships women’s field
(by state; name, hometown, state/club, division)

Arizona
MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz./Desert Lights Gymnastics, senior

California
Lauren Navarro, La Verne, Calif./Gliders-Charter Oak, senior
Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif./Gym-Max Gymnastics, senior

Colorado
Alyona Shchennikova, Evergreen, Colo./TIGAR, junior
Polina  Shchennikova, Evergreen, Colo./TIGAR, senior

Delaware

Morgan Hurd, Middletown, Del./First State Gymnastics, junior

Florida
Emily Gaskins, Coral Springs, Fla./Palm Beach Gymnastics, junior
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Groveland, Fla./Brandy Johnson’s Global Gymnastics, junior

Georgia
Elena Arenas, Bishop, Ga./Georgia Elite Gymnastics, junior
Megan Skaggs, Marietta, Ga./Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta, senior

Illinois
Gabby Perea, Geneva, Ill./Legacy Elite Gymnastics LLC, junior

Iowa
Norah Flatley, Cumming, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute, junior
Rachel Gowey, Urbandale, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute, senior

Kansas
Madison Desch, Lenexa, Kan./Great American Gymnastics Express, senior

Massachusetts
Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics, senior

Maryland
Maggie Musselman, Crownsville, Md./Hill’s Gymnastics, junior

Minnesota
Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minn./Twin City Twisters, senior
Abby Paulson, Coon Rapids, Minn./Twin City Twisters, junior
Tori Tatum, Chanhassen, Minn./Twin City Twisters, junior
Olivia Trautman, Champlin, Minn./Twin City Twisters, junior

Missouri
Brenna Dowell, Odessa, Mo./Great American Gymnastics Express, senior

New Jersey
Christina Desiderio, Hackettstown, N.J./Parkettes National Gymnastics Center, junior
Olivia Dunne, Hillsdale, N.J./Eastern National Academy of Paramus, junior
Jazmyn Foberg, Bayville, N.J./MG Elite, junior
Margzetta Frazier, Erial, N.J./Atlantic Coast Gymnastics, junior
Lauren Hernandez, Old Bridge, N.J./MG Elite, junior

Nevada
Maile O’Keefe, Las Vegas, Nev./Academy of Gymnastics – Salcianu Gymnastics, junior

North Carolina
Ashton Locklear, Hamlet, N.C./Everest Gymnastics, senior
Emily Schild, Huntersville, N.C./Everest Gymnastics, senior

Ohio
Shania Adams, Plain City, Ohio/Buckeye Gymnastics, junior
Aria Brusch, Forest Park, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics, junior
Nia Dennis, Westerville, Ohio/Legacy Elite Gymnastics LLC, senior
Amelia Hundley, Hamilton, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics, senior
Shilese Jones, Westerville, Ohio/Buckeye Gymnastics, junior

Pennsylvania
Megan Freed, Bethlehem, Pa./Parkettes National Gymnastics Center, junior
Trinity Thomas, York, Pa./Prestige Gymnastics, junior

Texas
Rachel Baumann, Plano, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics, junior
Alyssa Baumann, Plano, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics, senior
Simone Biles, Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre, senior
Colbi Flory, Rockwall, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, junior
Bailie Key, Montgomery, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, senior
Madison Kocian, Dallas, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics, senior
Emma Malabuyo, Flower Mound, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, junior
Grace Quinn, Arlington, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, junior
Ragan Smith, Lewisville, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, junior
Abigail Walker, Carrollton, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, junior

Utah
Deanne Soza, Orem, Utah/Arete Gymnastics, junior

Virginia
Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va./Buckeye Gymnastics, senior

Washington
Jordan Chiles, Vancouver, Wash./Naydenov, junior

Secret U.S. Classics Seniors Recap and Results


The energy in the Sears Centre Arena was electric for the 2015 Secret U.S. Classic. Simone Biles of World Champions wowed the crowd the whole night through to win the gold with a 62.4. Gabby Douglas of Buckeye Gymnastics came out strong in her first US meet since 2012 for silver, earning a 60.50. Nichols showed she was out to make a name for herself with her new amanar, and gorgeous, consistent routines on every event for a 60.0.

Bailie Key of Texas Dreams came out strong in her US senior debut, just missing the bronze with a 59.45. Raisman had a great night, competing her amanar for the first time, but fell on a newly upgraded floor pass, ending the night with a 59.05. Kyla Ross of Gym Max only competed on two events due to a hurt heel.

Rotation One

Nichols performed her new amanar vault with just a slight step on landing. Douglas looked great on bars, the arena exploded before and after her routine with just a hush while she competed. She flew high on all her release moves for a 15.4. Key competed beam like the veteran she is in her first US senior meet, scoring a 14.45. Raisman pulled out a surprise amanar in warm ups and competed it beautifully, but with a step to the side that went out of bounds for a 15.4. The crowd went even wilder for Biles on beam, where she was solid on her new barani and front pike, and just had one major wobble for a 15.25.

Brenna Dowell fell on a release after hitting her routines in podium training and warm ups in her first meet back as an elite. Alyssa Baumann fell on beam, but hit the rest of the routine with her normal gorgeous lines. Ashton Locklear is still getting back into routine condition, and though she performed on beam, she was not scored.

At the end of rotation one Nichols was on top with a 15.8 follow by Raisman and Douglas with a 15.4. Biles

Rotation Two

Nichols started off the rotation with a gorgeous bar routine for a 14.95. Key opened up with a gorgeous double layout, and continued on with her fantastic new routine to score a 14.8.  Douglas hit an awesome, perfectly solid beam routine for a 14.9. Raisman showed her ever improving bar routine, where she scored a 14.2. MyKayla Skinner debuted her new floor routine, but put her hands down on her last pass after looking very winded.

Ross missed her hand in her new bhardwaj release and had to stop. Then she fell again. She got back up with determination to compete the rest of her routine while the crowd cheered her on, and she looked great.

Biles led at the halfway point with a 31.3, followed by Nichols with a 30.75 and Douglas with a 30.3.

Rotation Three

Key opened up the rotation on vault, showing a clean Yurchenko double for a 14.9. Biles rocked her amanar vault with just the tiniest of hops for an incredible 9.7 execution score and a 16.0. Raisman followed her on beam. After an almost perfect routine in warmups, she had a few wobbles but stuck her incredibly difficult Patterson dismount to earn a 15.1. Ross came back after her bar routine with a beautiful beam routine with one major wobble on her side aerial for a 14.55. Douglas continued onto floor where she got the crowd clapping along with her upbeat music and hit all her leaps, turns and tumbling for a 15.0. Nichols continued on her fantastic day with a solid, beautiful beam routine scoring a 14.45.

Sabrina Vega showed off on floor in her first meet back since 2011, competing a more simple routine, but doing it very well until the last pass when she put her hands down.

The third rotation ended with Biles in first with a 47.3, Douglas with a 45.3 and Nichols just behind with a 45.2.

Rotation Four

Entering the last rotation, Raisman was five tenths behind Nichols and six behind Douglas as they moved to her best event. However, with Douglas on vault, it seemed unlikely she would be able to catch her. Madison Kocian performed a beautifully flowing bar routine, scoring the highest bars score of the night, a 15.6.  Biles finished on bars, where she has greatly improved and ends with a stick to put an exclamation point on her very successful competition. She earned a 15.1 to cap off her night. Raisman took the floor to a roaring crowd, but fell on her newly upgraded second pass. She went on to wow with everything else, but her was not enough to make the podium. Nichols came out strong on floor, scoring a 14.8. Key finished her night with a great bar set, scoring a 15.3 and just missing the bronze.

Full Results at SecretClassic.com.

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Secret US Classics Junior Results and Recap


The arena was ablaze with sparkling leotards as the juniors took the stage at the Secret US Classics. After an exciting competition, Lauren Hernandez of MG Elite topped the podium with a 58.45. Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams won the silver with a 57.70, while reigning national junior champion Jazzy Foberg of MG Elite followed behind her for the bronze with a 57.40. Hernandez led the entire meet, while Smith built up her scores with consistency and topped it off with a fantastic floor routine to take the silver. Foberg was also strong throughout the meet, however stumbles on her floor landings kept her just out of reach of the silver.

Rotation One

Jordan Chiles went for her new amanar vault, the only junior attempting this difficult skill, but touched her hand down to prevent herself from falling backward. She ended the rotation in third with a 14.6. Ragan Smith also started on vault, scoring a 14.7 with a clean double twisting yurchenko. Grace Quinn tied her for second in the first rotation with a beautiful double twisting yurchenko of her own.

Hernandez started on bars as did reigning national champion Foberg.  Foberg was up first, and floated through her 6.0 bar routine for a 14.1. But Hernandez stole the show with her high flying releases and stuck landing for a 15.0, leading after the first rotation.

Rotation Two

Laurie Hernandez on beam during podium training at the Secret US Classics. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp

Jordan Chiles did a beautiful bar routine, but did not match Hernandez’s difficulty on bars and ended up with a 14.1. Foberg got through beam with just a few small wobbles, hitting her skills nicely for a huge 14.65, the highest score on beam to this point. Hernandez got up next, performing with her usual style and attack but had a large step back on her landing, leaving her with a 14.2. The rotation ended with Hernandez in the lead with a 29.2, Foberg in second 28.75 followed closely by Chiles with a 28.7.

Rotation Three

Ragan Smith in podium training. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp.

Chiles performed a beautiful beam routine, but fell on her back tuck. She finished the routine strong, but a 13.6 was low enough to just knock her off the podium at the end of the rotation. Foberg competed some impressive tumbling in her floor routine, opening with a full twisting double layout and a tuck double double for her second pass. She has some rough landings, and earned a 13.85, which was not quite enough to keep her in the top three. Christine Desiderio steped into the top three with the highest floor score of the meet at this point, earning a 14.85. Smith competed three solid routines in a row, and her consistency plus her incredible beam routine including a standing piked full earned her a 14.1 on beam moved her up in the standings. Hernandez wowed the crowd with her incredible floor performance, and was nearly flawless until her last pass when she stumbled back a bit and went out of bounds. However, a 14.35 kept her well in the lead. At the end of rotation three, Hernandez led with a 43.55. Ragan Smith moved into second with a 42.70. Desiderio was followed with a 42.65. Foberg and Chiles fell to fourth and fifth.

Rotation Four

Foberg and Hernandez side by side through it all. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp.

Only four tenths separated second through fifth places heading into the last rotation, and the competition was tight. Foberg and Hernandez were on vault, usually highest scoring event. Smith and Chiles were on floor and Desiderio was on bars. Foberg led off with a high double twisting yurchenko for a 14.8. Hernandez did a clean double twisting yurchenko with a small hop, earning a a 14.9,the highest vault score in the meet and enough to keep her solidly in the lead. Ragan Smith took the floor with her charming and charismatic routine, opening with a sky high double layout, a one and a half stepout through to a triple twist, a double arabian and a stuck double pike. She scored the highest floor score of the meet, a whopping 15.0, which kept her in second place. Desiderio fell on bars, knocking her off the podium. Chiles finished up the meet on floor where she fell on her opening pass. She finished up well, but three falls in one meet kept her from the podium.

Full Results at SecretClassic.com. Top scores in the all-around and each event are below.

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Secret Surprises, A Look At Senior Podium Training and Upgrades


In many ways, the Secret US Classics can be one of the most exciting meets of the year. It is the time when we see impressive upgrades, gymnast debuts and begin to really get an idea of the overall picture for the US women’s team. It is also a meet where anything can happen, as the girls routines are not yet polished and perfected. This year boasts an extra level of excitement with the return of many beloved gymnasts, upgrades in unexpected places and the place in the Olympic cycle where gymnastics fans can begin to see glimpses of next year’s Olympic team.

“The energy in the arena was intense,” said gymnastics photographer Christy Linder. Gone were the smiles and casual jokes, instead the girls had stoic, focused expressions. And while it is still early in the lead up to the selection of the world and ultimately the Olympic team, the intensity of the competition is beginning to show. With just over a year to go, everyone has Rio on their mind.

“Classics is always really important. It is the meet right before championships, so it allows you to see where you are and it allows you to try out your new skills… and to see if it is still worth it to push for the new skills, because after this meet you can’t really try anything new at championships or world championships,” said Aly Raisman in an interview with USA Gymnastics after podium training. Raisman is trying out a new skill on floor, adding a front tuck after her incredibly difficult pike double arabian in her second tumbling pass. “That’s still something relatively new, adding it into the floor routine, so hopefully tomorrow it will go well.”

And Raisman is not alone. In 2012 the USA seemed like an amanar factory. However, the number of gymnasts performing this high scoring vault consistently has diminished to just one – Simone Biles. Returning gymnasts Gabby Douglas, Raisman and Brenna Dowell all competed the amanar previously. Bailie Key is also training this vault. But the only person to actually show it in podium training today was Maggie Nichols. Welcome to the amanar club Maggie!

Speaking of Simone Biles, though she already has the most difficulty in the world by far, she is always pushing herself for more. Biles showed off two new skills on beam. “I added a Barani on beam [front tuck with a half twist] and a front pike… and then I got a new floor routine, so I am excited about that… and then I was supposed to compete a Cheng on vault, but that’s not going to happen, so hopefully for P&G’s,” said Biles in her post podium training interview. Biles also added a full twisting double layout on floor at Jesolo earlier this year and will be competing that along with a brand new floor routine.

Kyla Ross has spent this year focusing on bar upgrades. “I’ve been working hard to be able to compete a more difficult routine,” said Ross. She debuted a Bhardwaj (full twisting pak, a transition flip from the high to low bar) during podium training and also a new double front dismount. She has also changed some of her connections on beam. However, bars and beam are all we will see tomorrow as she won’t be competing all-around. “Unfortunately I am not going to do the all around this weekend because I hurt my heel a little bit, but I am hoping to go back after this competition and train hard for P&G’s.”

Bailie Key will not let her US senior debut come and go without upgrades of her own. “Training has been going really well. I am excited to compete here as a senior at the Secret Classic, and I thought training here, podium training, went really good too. I am most excited for floor because that is my big upgrade. I am putting a double layout in and moving my other passes back,” said Key. Along with her upgrade, Key also brings a brand new floor routine of her own.

Gabby Douglas is excited to be competing again, but will wait to unveil her new upgrades until P&G National Championships. “I’ve been working on a little bit of upgrades, which you guys will see at P&G’s, and being consistent and patient,” said Douglas after podium training. She knows that to make another Olympic team, she is going to have to give it her all. “We have so many good girls, all fighting for that spot and the competition is more dynamic… all the gymnasts, especially me, are going to have to pull out the best of the best. Especially with Simone. We’re gonna all have to bring out our best skills.” Douglas gave us a preview, showing off her new floor routine.

In addition to the upgrade frenzy were a number of familiar faces making their way back into the elite scene. Brenna Dowell, Polina Shchennikova and Sabrina Vega are all returning to elite gymnastics. Dowell just took a short hiatus to try her hand at college gymnastics. After a successful freshman year, she showed up to podium training looking better than ever on bars. Shchennikova showed off her gorgeous lines and flexibility on beam and bars, reminding everyone why she has been one that always catches your eye. Vega has been out since the 2012 Olympic Trials and is looking to begin her journey back into competition this weekend.

2014 World Champions MyKayla Skinner, Alyssa Baumann, Ashton Locklear and Madison Kocian are all out to prove that they are still in the running this year, even with the return of so many other gymnasts. Kocian and Locklear are both coming off of injuries as well, and will be looking to show that they are fit and ready to go. Standout junior Nia Dennis will be making her senior debut, looking to make a place for herself as well.

All in all, the gymnasts everyone expected to look great, do. And the gymnasts we have been wondering about- look great as well.  This year, more than any before, seems to be an embarrassment of riches. Let the fun begin.

Felicia Hano Injured During Podium Training- Withdraws from Secret US Classics


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Felicia Hano is injured on vault during podium training. Photo courtesy of Christy Linder Sharp.

Felicia Hano, training partner with Kyla Ross at Gym-Max Gymnastics in Costa Mesa, CA, injured herself today during podium training for the 2015 Secret US Classics. Though no official update has been given, the most recent update of the start list for tomorrow’s competition no longer has Hano on it.

The rotation was wrapping up and most of the gymnasts had left the vault. Hano remained, trying to get in a good vault after struggling through the rotation on her second vault. She was attempting a full twisting laid-out tsukahara. She landed short and immediately went down and rolled to her side, grabbing her right leg. Her coaches came to her aid and she sat up while they examined her. It is not yet clear what injury she sustained, though it is likely a knee or ankle injury.

Hano, a former trampolinist, made her senior debut in elite gymnastics last year at the US Classics, where she placed seventh on floor and 10th in the all-around. She went on to the P&G National Championships where she placed seventh on floor. She was also selected as a replacement for the Pan American team last year and was added to the US National team. The 2015 Secret US Classics would have been Hano’s first competition of the year.