USA’s Epic Year in Gymnastics – The Early Meets

2012 was arguably one of the best years in the history of USA Gymnastics. What a wonderful year to be a USA gymnastics fan. As we anticipate 2013, lets take a look back at this amazing year.

We started with the American Cup in February. This competition was touted as the place where the champions in an Olympic year go on to become the all around Olympic champions. Gabby Douglas was undoubtable the star of the night. She burst onto the scene as an alternate who’s scores would not count, but she unofficially won the competition. She quickly rose from bar specialist status to all around threat as she debuted her Amanar and upgrades on beam, floor and, most especially important, bars. Jordyn Wieber was the official champion. She had a bit of a bumpy start on bars and as she debuted new upgrades on beam, but held on to win the meet. Aly Raisman was the silver medalist with a newly upgraded floor routine and the first solid Amanar she has performed in competition. Aly and Jordyn made the world stand up and take notice as they both performed incredible Amanars.

March was a busy month, first bringing the Kellogg’s Pacific Rim Championship. Highly anticipated as a showdown between Gabby and Jordyn, it quickly turned into a one woman show as Gabby fell on vault, twice on beam and scratched floor after injuring her ankle on vault. Jordyn unequivocally regained her status as America’s star as she put up 4 great performances to dominate in the all around and her highest scoring floor routine yet to win floor finals. Kyla Ross came out strong in her senior debut, taking second in the all around and winning beam finals with her beam routine that seems to float on air. Gabby came back fighting on bars, showing more upgrades and winning the bars finals with her high flying routine.

Then it was on to Italy for the City of Jesolo Trophy Meet. Once again, Kyla Ross showed her beautiful execution and went on to win the all around. The ever solid Aly Raisman had an unusually rough day, with steps and wobbles on almost every event. Surprisingly, bars was her most solid event. Showing the hard work she has been putting in there, she went on to take the silver all around medal. Sarah Finnegan was an unexpected breath of fresh air as she burst onto the scene in her senior debut with a third place finish. Her beautiful lines and elegance are a delight to see on the US scene. McKayla Maroney came to her first meet of the season with a new floor routine and upgraded bars. She was of course, the high scorer on vault with her seemingly effortless Amanar. Rebecca Bross had a disappointing day with a fall on bars in her first international meet since her injury. She showed promise however, seeming to have much of her fight and skills back (performing a perfect bars routine in warm ups).

After a few months break, came the Secret US Classics. What began to immerge here was an incredible picture of the depth of the US team and the reality that earning a place on the USA Olympic team was likely to be harder than winning an Olympic gold medal. Nastia and Chellsie began their bid in 2012 to make a second Olympic team, while the stars of this quad continued to prove their dominance. Probably one of the most controversial outcomes of this competition was Chellsie Memmel’s failure to qualify for nationals and the subsequent denial of her petition to be allowed in. The outrage from gymnastics fans was felt for weeks to come, and will probably be one of the most hotly debated topics for years to come. Aly continued to look solid, Jordyn continued to be dominant but struggled to make her beam connections and Gabby continued to add doubt to her ability to perform when her routines counted.

There were some memorable highlights for me from the Classics. Nastia’s incredible beam, where she reminded me and the rest of the world why she was an Olympic champion. Alicia Sacramone’s incredible comeback from her achilles injury. Anna Li’s incredible floor routine- so beautiful and expressive.

At this point in the year, we began to see the make up of the USA Olympic team. Though many on the gymternet began predicting this team in April, most (like myself) assumed that it would change over the next months. This was the “team at this point” not the team that would go to the Olympics. Too many comeback stars and first year seniors remained in the mix.

Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross, McKayla Maroney.

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