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Simone Biles Looks to the Future


Simone Biles had a historic competition at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, China. She took home gold medals in the all-around, beam and floor individual events as well as the team gold with her U.S. teammates. Additionally she won the vault silver medal. Biles was the first U.S. woman to win back-to-back World all-around titles in almost twenty years, since Shannon Miller accomplished the feat in 1993-94. She overtook Miller in the most world championship gold medals by winning six in the last two years to Millers five. Biles also became the first U.S. woman to win four gold medals at a single world championships.

Biles may very well be one of those once in a life-time gymnasts. She achieved these results by competing some of the hardest gymnastics skills with clean execution (the gymnastics basics: straight legs, pointed toes, correct body positions and stuck landings). And she did it with so much energy and power, it is easy to see that she has a lot of room to do even more. While most gymnasts look to be at the very edge of their abilities, Biles soars through the air with room and energy to spare.

Biles will resume full time training, with a slower pace and some time to work on new skills.”I am taking training a little bit easier right now and will learn a few new skills on a few events” said Biles in a media phone interview. Though she may not really need to continue adding to her difficulty score (she led the all-around competition in difficulty) she has not yet reached her limits by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, her shoulder injury earlier in the year caused her to have to downgrade bars from last year. After the world championships, coach Aimee Boorman mentioned in a tweet that now that her shoulder is healed, Biles will be looking to upgrade her second vault to a Cheng. In the interview this morning, Biles confirmed that she will be working toward the Cheng. She also shared that since her Amanar vault is so consistent, Marta Karolyi has encouraged her to try for the triple-twisting yurchenko. If successful, Biles would be the first woman in history to compete this vault.

As for other upgrades, Biles said she would also be looking to get bars back to her former level of difficulty by adding the shaposh half back in. She said she also might work the double-double layout on floor, a pass competed by only three other female gymnasts on the international elite level. And though she had phenomenal success this year, she was only able to hit beam like she does in training in event finals. Biles said she plans on addressing that in her training plan as well.

After leaving her longtime gym earlier in the year with Boorman, Biles trained for a while at another local gym. Now, they are training in a temporary location while the gym that her parents are building is completed. It is supposed to be completed in May or June of next year. For now, she is content to be training somewhere they can call World Champions Centre. “In the beginning they kept telling me they were going to start building [and it wouldn’t happen]… but I am busy training. I don’t really pay attention to the details, it’s not my business.” Running a gym is not something she sees in her future, and is something she is happy to leave to her parents.

What she does see in her future is college gymnastics. Earlier this year, Biles committed to UCLA, and she is firmly committed to maintaining her NCAA eligibility. Though she will put all of her energy and training into shooting for the 2016 Olympics, she currently does not have plans to go pro. “My parents have talked about it a little bit but haven’t pushed me. They are letting it be my decision.” Biles acknowledged that things might change in the future, but for now that is her direction.

With Biles’ power, energy, determination and team of supporters, it seems that for her the sky is the limit. Literally.

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Team Line Up and Event Qualifier Predictions


With podium training already in the books and a few days left before qualifications, the time to speculate is ripe. After looking at the line up and performances in podium training, here are the likely line ups for Team USA in qualifications and team finals and predictions on event finals qualifiers. There aren’t a lot of surprises here, but one point of speculation is how much the US will use Kyla Ross during team finals.

The US team is likely to be very dominant in the team competition. Ross has the capability to not only contribute on every event in team finals, but also to win a silver medal in the all-around and event medals on beam and floor. In order to give her the best chances of individual success, resting her injury would be wise. However, Marta Karolyi tends to put the focus of the needs of the team first. It will be interesting to see if she decides to rest her or use her on all four events.

What are your thoughts?

Vault

Qualifications

  1. Madison Kocian
  2. Alyssa Baumann
  3. Kyla Ross
  4. MyKayla Skinner
  5. Simone Biles

Team Finals

  1. Alyssa Baumann or Kyla Ross (If they decide to rest Kyla Ross for individual finals
  2. MyKayla Skinner
  3. Simone Biles

Event Finals Qualifiers

Simone Biles

Simone Biles on vault in podium training.

MyKayla Skinner

MyKayla Skinner on vault in podium training.

Bars

Qualifications

  1. MyKayla Skinner
  2. Simone Biles
  3. Kyla Ross
  4. Madison Kocian
  5. Ashton Locklear

Team Finals

  1. Kyla Ross
  2. Madison Kocian
  3. Ashton Locklear

Event Finals

Madison Kocian

Madison Kocian in podium training.

Ashton Locklear

Ashton Locklear in podium training.

Alternatively Kyla Ross will be right on the heels of these two. If either of them falter, she will be right there to jump into event finals.

Kyla Ross in podium training.

Beam

Qualifications

  1. MyKayla Skinner
  2. Madison Kocian
  3. Alyssa Baumann
  4. Simone Biles
  5. Kyla Ross

Team Finals

  1. Alyssa Baumann
  2. Simone Biles
  3. Kyla Ross

Event Finals

Simone Biles

Simone Biles in podium training.

Kyla Ross

Kyla Ross in podium training.

Alternatively, Alyssa Baumann can easily sneak into finals if one of these two falter.

Alyssa Baumann in podium training.

Floor

Qualifications

  1. Madison Kocian
  2. Alyssa Baumann
  3. Kyla Ross
  4. MyKayla Skinner
  5. Simone Biles

Team Finals

  1. Alyssa Baumann or Kyla Ross (If they decide to rest Kyla Ross for individual finals)
  2. MyKayla Skinner
  3. Simone Biles

Event Finals

MyKayla Skinner

MyKayla Skinner in podium training.

Simone Biles

Simone Biles in podium training.

All photos by John Cheng via USA Gymnastics

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Kyla Ross Pushes Through Injury


Podium training today held an unusual sight, that of Kyla Ross all taped up. Though Ross has battled some back injuries this year, she is not a gymnast you usually see with a lot of tape on her body. Not so today. “I’m kind of held together by tape right now,” Ross said in an interview with Inside Gymnastics. “The last few days at the ranch, I think I kind of overstretched it doing a few leaps. It’s my hip, groin and hamstring – that whole area.”

Kyla Ross on floor during podium training. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnastics

A few of Ross’ leaps on beam looked a little tentative, not hitting her normal full split. Despite the injury, she looks more polished and precise than she has all year on beam. She did a great floor routine, dynamic and poised, however without her upgrade of a whip to double arabian from earlier in the season. Vault was not her normal clean DTY, however Inside Gymnastics reported that she hadn’t been training vault much throughout the week. She did a beautiful bars set, but with some small form issues. All in all she did four clean, solid routines. If they weren’t up to the normal Kyla Ross standard, they were definitely within reach.

Ross has been working hard to shine at these championships and doesn’t want to let the injury get in the way.  “I have the motivation knowing that I’ve been training really hard all this year,” said Ross. “I really want to come out and compete, give it my all and I don’t want anything to stop me.” She will no doubt give it her all in qualifications, and with two more days of training and healing she will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with.

Ross comes into these championships as the defending silver medalist in the all-around, on beam and on bars. She will be looking to defend her all-around title and top the podium with teammate Simone Biles in the all-around. Always consistent on beam, she has a great chance of making finals on that event and trying to win a beam medal. However on bars, she has had to downgrade her routine this year due to her back injury, and topping teammates Ashton Locklear and Madison Kocian will be no easy feat to make it into bars finals.

Here are her routines from Podium Training.

 

 

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USA Women are Persistent About Being Consistent


Six serious faces took on the World Podium today as the U.S. Women’s team made their first official foray into the 2014 World Championships. After a week of training and acclimating in Nanning, China, the U.S. women seemed ready for business during today’s podium training. And as has become the norm, they hit routine after routine on event after event.

In 2011, the U.S. women’s program began a new era of dominance in consistency. Podium training, qualifications, team finals, all-around finals, and event finals look pretty much the same. Hit routine after hit routine. Compete, hit, repeat. Of course, there have been a few exceptions, but for the most part, gone are the nail-biting days of wondering if a gymnast is going to fall. Because, they just don’t. Aristotle has said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not an act, but a habit.” Martha Karolyi and the rest of the U.S. coaching staff have hit the sweet spot of making a habit of excellence, peaking their gymnasts at just the right time to hit every time on the world stage.

The 2014 U.S. women’s World Championship team contains a number of gymnasts – five of the seven- who have not competed at a world championship level before. Every one of them has competed at an international meet at least once, but in the world of USA gymnastics, many of these girls are virtually untested. Most USA gymnasts begin competing internationally as juniors, and by the time they hit the senior ranks, they have had a number of international meets under their belt.

But you would never have known it from podium training. Each gymnast went out and did what they are trained to do. Hit their routine. There were a few bobbles here and there but only one miss, a fall on beam from Ashton Locklear. Every other routine looked like it was coming from a veteran competitor, and Locklear looked fabulous on bars, the event USA is counting on her for.

Veteran competitors Kyla Ross and Simone Biles have been helping the girls who are newer to the international stage. “I feel like I have helped them quite a bit, me and Kyla have led them through the ropes, and if they are having a down day we know what to say because we have been there.” said Biles in an interview with USA Gymnastics. And though it seems only yesterday that Ross was team baby, she has in fact firmly held the role of team leader the last two years.

Simone Biles keeping things light hearted during podium training. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnatics

And speaking of the team, after a year off from the team competition at last year’s championships,  Biles and Ross  are excited to compete with the team. “Having the girls’ support and being able to support everyone else is really fun,” said Ross. And though Biles is defending her World All-Around Champion title, she is here to win a team gold. “Winning a team gold would mean everything to me because I am a team person so I think that would be a lot of fun to do. Last year was individuals so you had to just do it on your own, but this year is team so you can  do it together and just be proud of everyone.” When asked about her individual aspirations, the bubbly teenager cast them aside. “I don’t think I am very pressured, but a lot of people are pressuring me into being the world champion again, but I just throw it out of my head and think of it as a normal competition.”

The women begin their bid for the medal podiums Saturday, October 4th at 6am EST. USA gymnastics will be livestreaming the qualification rounds for USA, Russia, China and Romania/Great Britain. They will also livestream the team, all-around and event finals in conjunction with Universal Sports. Check out the schedule to make sure you don’t miss any of the action. All livestreams, as well as individual US routines will also be archived on the USA youtube channel, where you can already watch a replay of podium training.

U.S. Women’s team poses at podium training. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnatics

 

Simone Biles Refuses to be Lonely on Top


In 2014, Simone Biles is without a doubt the most dominant gymnast in the world. She does some of the most difficult gymnastics with such ease, it is hard to comprehend just how incredible it really is. She defies the normal “rules” on floor, ending her routine with a pass that many gymnasts start with, and doing it with so much bounce to spare that you honestly wonder how many flips and twists it will take to nail those feet to the ground.

But Biles is not one to follow the rules. Most gymnasts present a serious demeanor on the floor, not watching other competitors routines and zoning in on what they have to do. Though there is nothing wrong with that, it’s just not her style.

Biles is all smiles and energy on the competition podium right up until she starts her event and again immediately as her feet touch the floor for her dismount. Except floor, where the sincere grin just never stops. Between routines she can be found chatting with other teammates, cheering on fellow competitors and laughing with her coach.

Simone Biles videobombs Kyla Ross's interview with USA Gymnastics.

Simone Biles videobombs Kyla Ross’s interview with USA Gymnastics.

 

They say that it is lonely at the top. But that is just not something Biles is willing to accept. Though she is serious about her gymnastics, and can immediately get into her zone when she needs to be, it is obvious that she values her teammates and her relationships with them more than anything else out on the floor. She is the first one to congratulate a fellow competitor on their routines, and it is unlikely that any gymnast mounts an event that Biles has not cheered on. She is known by all for her infectious smile and tackling other gymnasts with her bear hugs. McKayla Maroney says of Biles, “It’s impossible not to love her.”

Her twitter feed reads like a memoir to all the people she loves and can’t live without.

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So though Biles is miles ahead of her competitors when it comes down to the score, she is determined to walk the Road to Rio step by step and arm in arm with her U.S. teammates. This bouncy bundle of joy is changing all the rules about how to compete gymnastics. And giving many people in the world a lesson on how to live life.

 

U.S. Senior National Champions and National Team


Simone Biles made what everyone already knows official. At this point in USA gymnastics, she is in a league of her own. She decisively won back to back U.S. National Championship titles, this time by over four points – with a fall. Over a two day competition, she looked incredibly strong, relaxed and consistent until the very end of her beam routine where she fell. And when you are so far ahead that you are competing with yourself, that is frustrating. But on the scoreboard it hardly mattered. Biles also walked away with the national title on floor and vault.

Kyla Ross won her second silver national all-around title, as well as her second national beam title. Ross is also in a league of her own this year firmly capturing the silver despite two uncharacteristic falls on night one. Ross proved to everyone that she is indeed human on the first day of competition with a fall on floor and on bars. Her almost inhuman consistency and perfection are marveled at around the world, and they returned in full force on night two, where she earned the highest execution score total. 

Maggie Nichols, the only gymnast on the medal podium to hit eight for eight routines, took the bronze. At this championship, Nichols put an exclamation point on her statement from the U.S. Secret Classics. She is a consistent all-around gymnast who can be depended upon to hit on any event. She also won the bronze on bars, an important event in USA gymnastics.

Apart from the three all-arounders, Ashton Locklear made quite a splash at this competition, easily winning the uneven bars national title. Between the national championships and classics earlier this month, she has posted the highest bar’s scores in the world this year with her incredibly clean and difficult bar routine. 

The top six all-around gymnasts were automatically added to the national team. Additionally, four more gymnasts who were named to the Pan American Games team were also added. Ross and Biles, who have loads of international experience were left off the team, letting other gymnasts gain much needed international competition experience. 

U.S. Senior National Team

Alyssa Baumann, Plano, Texas/WOGA, Simone Biles, Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre, Madison Desch, Blue Springs, Mo./GAGE, Brenna Dowell, Odessa, Mo./GAGE, Amelia Hundley, Fairfield, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics, Madison Kocian, Dallas/WOGA, Ashton Locklear, Huntersville, N.C./Everest Gymnastics, Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minn./Twin City Twisters, Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif./Gym-Max and MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz./Desert Lights.

The gymnasts leaving on a bus on Sunday to Canada to represent the USA at the Pan American Games are Baumann, Desch, Hundley, Kocian, Locklear, Nichols and Skinner.

The results for the all-around top six and the even medalists are as follows.

All-Around

  1. Simone Biles, Spring, Texas, 122.550
  2. Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 118.300
  3. Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minn., 117.900
  4. Alyssa Baumann, Plano, Texas, 116.100
  5. MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz., 115.450
  6. Amelia Hundley, Hamilton, Ohio, 112.200

Vault

  1. Simone Biles, Spring, Texas, 31.025
  2. MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz., 30.225

 Uneven Bars

  1. Ashton Locklear, Hamlet, N.C., 31.050
  2. Madison Kocian, Dallas, Texas, 30.750
  3. Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minn., 29.400

Balance Beam

  1. Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 30.550
  2. Simone Biles, Spring, Texas, 30.300
  3. Alyssa Baumann, Plano, Texas, 30.300

Floor Exercise

  1. Simone Biles, Spring, Texas, 31.150
  2. MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz., 30.000
  3. Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minn., 29.000

U.S. Junior National Champions and National Team


Jazmyn Foberg of MG Elite blast on to the junior scene by winning the Junior National All-Around title in her first year competing at the national championships. Consistency and calm were the key, as Foberg hit routine after routine over the two day competition. Eight for eight is the mantra every gymnast repeats, but Foberg was the only junior gymnast on the podium able to actually do it. Foberg also took  top honors on uneven bars, her favorite event.

Nia Dennis managed to grab the silver medal despite two falls on her first day of competition and a fall on the second day. Dennis came into the meet as the favorite to win. She brings the most difficulty, and has been the highest scoring junior of those competing at nationals in earlier international competitions this year. However, it seems that she just succumbed to nerves this go round.

Norah Flatley rounded out the podium with the bronze medal. Flatley, who could easily compete in a senior level world championship beam final right now shocked everyone with a fall on beam BOTH days. However, he was still able to find a spot on the podium with her beautiful, clean gymnastics.

Jordan Chiles came in most recently winning the 2014 Secret U.S. Classics two weeks ago. She had an incredibly rough first day, but was able to come back the second day and put in a great performance. As she still has a lot of time left in her gymnastics career, the experience of coming back and performing well is a great thing.

The top six gymnasts automatically qualified to the junior national team. Bailie Key was injured and did not compete at nationals, but was added to the team as well due to her phenomenal success over the past year. As three of the seven will be seniors next year, it is likely that more juniors will be added at a later time.

U.S. Junior Women’s National Team

Jordan Chiles, Vancouver, Wash./Naydenov Gymnastics, Nia Dennis, Westerville, Ohio/Buckeye Gymnastics, Norah Flatley, Cumming, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics, Jazmyn Foberg, Morganville, N.J./MG Elite, Emily Gaskins, Fairfield, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics, Bailie Key, Montgomery, Texas/Texas Dreams, and Alexis Vasquez, West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics.

All-around results and even medalists are as follows:

All-Around

  1. Jazmyn Foberg, Bayville, N.J., 114.950
  2. Nia Dennis, Westerville, Ohio, 114.500
  3. Norah Flatley, Cumming, Iowa, 112.550
  4. Jordan Chiles, Vancouver, Wash., 111.600
  5. Alexis Vasquez, West Des Moines, Iowa, 111.150
  6. Emily Gaskins, Coral Springs, Fla., 110.800

Vault

  1. Nia Dennis, Westerville, Ohio, 30.000
  2. Olivia Trautman, Champlin, Minn., 29.700
  3. Jordan Chiles, Vancouver, Wash., 29.650

Uneven Bars

  1. Jazmyn Foberg, Bayville, N.J., 28.850
  2. Norah Flatley, Cumming, Iowa, 28.400
  3. Nia Dennis, Westerville, Ohio, 28.150

Balance Beam

  1. Alexis Vasquez, West Des Moines, Iowa, 29.400
  2. Ragan Smith, Lewisville, Texas, 29.000
  3. Lauren Navarro, La Verne, Calif., 28.700

Floor Exercise

  1. Nia Dennis, Westerville, Ohio, 29.600
  2. Ragan Smith, Lewisville, Texas, 29.150
  3. Jordan Chiles, Vancouver, Wash. and Victoria Nguyen, West Des Moines, Iowa, 28.750
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Jazzy Foberg – The Real Deal


In March of 2013, Jazmyn Foberg (Jazzy as she is affectionately known) made a decision that would change the entire trajectory of her life. She started training with Maggie Haney at MG Elite. And now she finds herself topping the junior division scoreboard as she heads into the second day of competition for the P&G U.S. National Championships.

Jazmyn Foberg of MG Elite at the P&G National Championships. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnastics.

Her meteoric rise from not even qualifying for nationals last year to topping the leaderboard this year is quite rare in the sport of gymnastics. But her success is not a surprise to coach Haney. “What excites me the most about Jazzy is how fast she is progressing. She has improved so much in the past year; it’s actually amazing. She is a totally different gymnast now then she was one year ago. If she continues to improve at this rate; the sky is the limit for her!”

In this case, words like improved don’t even begin to capture the monumental progress Foberg has made. Last year at the Secret U.S. Classics, she placed 26th and missed out on qualifying for nationals. Her teammates Laurie Hernandez and Ari Agrapides went on to phenomenal success at nationals, where Hernandez took the all-around silver and Agrapides won the national vault title in the junior division. “I think it was very good for Jazzy to see Laurie & Ari have such successes last year. I think that Jazzy became very motivated after watching them go to camp after camp and even watching Laurie have International assignments. I feel like this was like dangling a carrot in front of Jazzy. It motivated her and this is what she wants and is willing to work towards,” said Haney.

Foberg’s hard work began to pay off earlier in 2014, where she won the all-around and the uneven bars at the 2014 Buckeye Elite Qualifer. She continued to gain speed at the American Classic in Huntsville, Texas where she won the all-around, vault and bars. Then there was the 2014 Secret U.S. Classic. Oh what a difference a year can make.

After a great showing at the national training camp, Foberg was one of the junior gymnasts selected to compete in the senior session. Foberg took the early lead in the competition, and as a result was featured twice in the NBC broadcast. For a junior elite gymnast, that is some pretty heady stuff. But Foberg took it all in stride. As it seems she always does. Haney said of Foberg, “I would describe Jazzy as a very “chill” kid. She is level headed and I never have any surprises with her. Inside the gym, Jazzy is extremely focused and very good at making corrections and feeling what she is doing.” Foberg went on to place 5th in the all-around at Classics.

Jazmyn Foberg, featured on the live broadcast of the 2014 Secret U.S. Classics as a junior.

Foberg came into nationals looking confident and ready to compete. Nia Dennis leads the junior field in difficulty, and has generally been considered the favorite to win after strong international performances earlier in the year. Right behind Dennis has been Norah Flatley, Chow’s latest star who has excellent execution and a stellar beam routine. And then there is Jordan Chiles, who took everyone by surprise winning the Secret U.S. Classic earlier this month. Foberg came into the meet with the second highest difficulty planned, and a strong desire to follow in the footsteps of her teammates and stand on that medal podium.

She started out the first day of competition with a strong double twisting Yurchenko that scored a 14.6. This gave her the early lead after rotation one, a position she only relinquished for one rotation the rest of the day. Moving into her strongest event, Foberg put up the second highest bar score of the competition; but a strong vault from Dennis pushed her into second half way through the meet.

With her two strongest events behind her, Foberg was going to need to put up solid routines and mistakes from the other girls to regain the lead. And that is just what she got. Dennis performed a beautiful bar routine, but fell on her dismount. Flatley had a shocking fall on beam, but still scored a 14.4 with her incredible routine. Foberg remained focused despite all the falls around her and hit a solid beam routine, putting her back in the lead. A lead she was able to hold onto in the last rotation as Dennis had a second fall.

“I would like Jazzy to be remembered as a calm & consistent competitor. Jazzy is really a great kid and I don’t think she should be underestimated,” said Haney. Done and done. As many of the juniors succumbed to nerves, Foberg continued to develop her reputation as a calm and consistent competitor. Adding this to the beautiful lines MG Elite is becoming known for, Foberg has proven that she is the real deal. “She had already far exceeded my expectations for this year; so now I know what she is capable of… I have already raised my goals and expectations for her. The plan is to make her a master on bars. So hopefully she will be remembered as a great bar worker who does a lot of releases!”

Whether or not Foberg is able to hold onto her lead tomorrow in the second day of competition, it is clear that she has legitimately come into her own as one of the juniors to watch on the Road to Rio. Her strong all-around abilities, cool and consistent performance personality, and her great bar work  firmly ingrain her into the mix of gymnasts who are strong contenders for 2016.

Jazzy Foberg 2013 Secret U.S. Classics

Jazzy Foberg 2014 P&G National Championships

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2014 P&G U.S. National Championships Senior Preview and Predictions


Fourteen seniors took the floor today for podium training in preparation for the 2014 P&G U.S. National Championships. The championships kick off tomorrow with the junior women at 1p.m. EST in the CONSOL Energy Center – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The seniors take the floor later that evening at 7:30p.m.

An already thin field was stretched a little thinner as Rachel Gowey fractured her ankle during training and was forced to withdraw. Only eight of those competing are currently planning on competing in the all-around. Apart from the prestige of winning a national title, the gymnasts will be looking to make a case for being named to the Pan American Games team immediately following the competition, and/or invited to the 2014 World Championships team selection camp to be held in September.

Simone Biles of World Champions, Kyla Ross and Felicia Hano of Gym-Max, Maggie Nichols of Twin City Twisters, MyKayla Skinner of Desert Lights, Amelia Hundley of Cincinnati, Madison Desch of GAGE, Alyssa Baumann of WOGA, and Macy Toronjo of Texas Dreams are the gymnasts who will be competing for the coveted title of 2014 U.S. National Champion. 

Barring major disaster or injury, the title is all locked up. Current World Champion Simone Biles proved two weeks ago at the Secret U.S. Classics that she is in a league of her own. In today’s training, Biles had a few shaky go rounds on bars and missed the last skill in her tumbling series on beam once. She also had some quite large hops in her tumbling. However, none of these are things that will likely show up in her performance tomorrow or affect the outcome of the meet. The reigning US National Champion, Biles looks, healthy, happy and ready to defend her title.

The silver medal is firmly in the grasp of Kyla Ross, 2012 Olympian and 2013 World All-Around silver medalist. At Classics, Ross led the rest of the field by 2.5 points and if she puts in her normal steady performance it is hers for the taking. Ross looked calm and collected on the podium today, with her normal (how does such fluidity and steadiness ever become normal) solid performance.

The real battle will be for the bronze. Defending bronze medalist Brenna Dowell of GAGE is still recovering from an earlier ankle injury and will only be competing bars. So the third spot on the podium is wide open. Maggie Nichols took this honor two weeks ago at Classics. Her strong and steady performance then, and today in podium training, give her solid ground to make a bid for the podium. MyKayla Skinner comes into the meet with some of the most difficult gymnastics. However she often takes huge deductions on execution and has a hard time getting through her ridiculously hard floor routine without a fall. If Skinner is able to put together eight clean routines, she may just take the spot. She will be looking to prove her consistency on floor and vault as these are the events she would most likely be used on in a team setting. Skinner looked great on beam during training, but struggled on vault. She got through all the skills in her floor routine, but took a really long rest in the corner to do so.

Amelia Hundley has been a standout throughout her junior career, and she will want to make a statement at these championships. Hundley is one of those super dependable, consistent gymnasts you want on your team. Her exciting floor performances and strong bar routine help her make a case to be on the world team. A strong showing at nationals will be an important step for her.

The rest of the field are unlikely to find their way up onto the podium. Madison Desch and Alyssa Baumann are competing in the all-around, but will be looking to make a case to make the Pan American and World Championship teams as specialists. Desch is beautiful on bars and brings in a well-rounded performance everywhere else. Baumann is a stand out on beam. Though they will be focusing on hitting all eight routines, these events will be crucial. They both looked clean and solid on their pet events during training today.

In addition to the all-around, some of the gymnasts will just be competing on a few events. Injuries prevent Madison Kocian of WOGA, Ashton Locklear of Everest, Brenna Dowell of GAGE and Veronica Hults of Texas Dreams from competing on all four events, but these gymnasts will be looking to win titles on individual events as well as show the selection committee why they should be considered for a spot on one of the upcoming international assignments.

Madison Kocian has put up the highest bar score of the U.S. women on an international stage this year. She will be looking to contribute at the Pan American Games and the World Championships on bars. She will also be competing on beam, an event she could be called on if needed.

Ashton Locklear burst onto the scene two weeks ago at Classics with her whopping bar score of 15.7. With gorgeous lines and dreamy fluidity on both bars and beam, Locklear will be hoping to make these teams as a specialist. She is a first year senior, and was out with injury for most of last year, so she is still largely unproven on the competition stage.

Brenna Dowell has been one of the USA’s top gymnasts over the past year, and is usually a strong contender in the all-around. However injury has kept her out and right now she is trying to prove that her bars are worth bringing to a world stage. At Classics her bars bordered on disaster, but during training today she looked much improved and ready to compete her very difficult bar routine. She hopes to compete in the all-around by the selection camp next month.

Last but not least is Veronica Hults. Hults brings in beautiful gymnastics with beautiful technique and form. Her junior career was plagued with injuries and her senior career is starting out the same. However, Hults is beautiful on bars and beam and could definitely contribute to the US team on these events.

Predictions : just for fun. Tell me who you think!

All-Around

  1. Simone Biles
  2. Kyla Ross
  3. Maggie Nichols

Vault

  1. Simone Biles
  2. MyKayla Skinner

Bars

  1. Ashton Locklear
  2. Madison Kocian
  3. Kyla Ross

Beam

  1. Kyla Ross
  2. Simone Biles
  3. Alyssa Baumann

Floor

  1. Simone Biles
  2. Kyla Ross
  3. Amelia Hundley

Pan American Games Team

Maggie Nichols, Amelia Hundley, MyKayla Skinner, Madison Kocian, Alyssa Baumann, Ashton Locklear, and Madison Desch

World Championship Team

I think that all the competitors, minus Hano and Toronjo, will be invited to the selection camp. The selection for the team will not take place until that camp. I am sure that many things will change between now and then, but my predictions are:

Simone Biles, Kyla Ross, Brenna Dowell, Ashton Locklear, MyKayla Skinner and Maggie Nichols.

  • Vault- Biles, Dowell, Ross (Nichols, Skinner)
  • Bars- Locklear, Ross, Dowell (Biles, Nichols)
  • Beam- Ross, Biles, Locklear (Skinner, Dowell)
  • Floor- Biles, Ross, Nichols (Skinner, Dowell)
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The Latest on Peyton Ernst


Earlier this week, Peyton Ernst of Texas Dreams quietly withdrew from the 2014 P&G Senior U.S. National Championships. Gymnastike interviewed coach Kim Zmeskal Burdette to get an update on the situation. According to Burdette, Ernst had dislocated her shoulder doing a vault early in July. She had not had any problems with her shoulder previously. They worked to correct the problem and hoped for the best, but it happened again Monday, August 10th. Surgery became inevitable and will take her out the rest of the season. “Peytons [injury] has been the hardest one. She has been in such a good place, taking things step by step to try to make this world team,” shared Burdette. She went on in the interview to share about her disappointment for Ernst as she had finally began to believe in her ability to make the world team.

Ernst was a strong contender to make last year’s world championship team, but just fell short of the mark. She is a strong all-around gymnast, but stands out on beam and bars. Ernst was most definitely a strong contender for this year’s worlds team as she is likely to contribute a strong score to the team on those two events, has the potential to make a beam final, and is strong enough in the all-around that she can compete on any event if needed.

Ernst was nursing a sore ankle back in April when she received the call to jump on a plane early the next morning to fly from Texas to Vancouver, BC. She came to take the place of Simone Biles at the Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships. Ernst rose to the occasion and put in a stellar performance with very little prep time. However, when she returned home, it turned out that she had been competing with a hairline fracture in her foot.

Ernst rested the foot, and then returned to training.  When Ernst did not compete in the Secret U.S. Classics earlier this month, the plan was still for her to compete at nationals. However, the recent shoulder injury has put Ernst’s dreams of Worlds on hold for another year.

Ernst’s teammate Bailie Key, who is also out with an injury tweeted a picture of the two of them, with plans for “good times and tan lines” on Sunday. It appears the two are taking their injuries in stride and making the best of their forced time off.

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