McKayla Maroney – the Princess of Poise


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Photo by John Cheng

McKayla has gone through so much in the past year, it truly is quite amazing that she is not only at Worlds, but has improved since last year. Three surgeries, media frenzy, meme fame and a changed life. She has made no bones that she has some unfinished business called doing her best at the Olympic vault finals. So between now and then, she will give gymnastics her all.

Though vaulting is what she shines at, she really wants to be an all-arounder. And floor is her favorite event. So it was incredibly meaningful for her to be able to compete all around in the qualifications. She didn’t have her most spectacular day, but she did really well.

She started her day out on floor. She had a number of small bobbles on her landings and her leaps weren’t quite all the way split. But it was really a great routine. Many on the gymternet felt like she was really underscored here.

After seeing her INCREDIBLE vault in podium training, this amanar was anticlimactic. But it was a normal, amazing vault from McKayla.

Her second vault however, was one of her better ones.

McKayla is not known for her bars. But this was most definitely one of the best bar routines she has ever done!

On the other hand, this beam routine was most definitely not her best. Getting into the swing of competing beam again often takes some time.

As always, the highlight of the day was McKayla’s interview. Such poise, so much authenticity, and so much grace. i fall more in love with this girl every interview.

She only qualified into the vault finals, being another victim of the 2 per country rule on both floor (where she tied with Kyla Ross but the tie was broken with Kyla’s higher E score) and the all around (where she placed 5th in the world).

Simone Biles – The Queen of Springs


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Photo by John Cheng

Simone Biles is USA’s Queen of Springs. I really think there are springs in her legs! The way she tumbles is just amazing. She is doing some of the hardest floor passes in the world and yet it seems like she is just getting started. She does these high flying skills that should take everything she’s got and instead she has power to spare. And she punches off the beam like she is tumbling on the floor.

Simone has such a sweet personality, and the joy of gymnastics just shines through everything she does. I used to coach a gymnast who would be barrelling down the vault runway and just break into a huge grin. Every single time. She just loved it so much. Simone does that as well. You can tell her smiles on floor are as more from her love of doing what she is doing than putting on a performance.

Simone had an incredible day of qualifications. She just hit everywhere! She started out on bars, where she earned a higher execution score than even Aliya Mustafina!

6.000 (D) + 8.800 (E) = 14.800

Simones presentation and poise on beam has improved so very much this year.  She really hit her skills with precision and attacked the beam.

6.100 (D) + 8.300 (E) = 14.400

Simone completely rocked floor. Her tumbling passes were sky high and mostly stuck. She performed her little hear out and was a joy to watch on floor.

6.500 (D) + 8.533 (E) = 15.033

Simone gave McKayla a run for her money on vault! She put up two awesome vaults.

You can tell she is just having the time of her life. Love the quote “Actually, I was telling Brenna [Dowell] before I was getting ready to march out, Martha [Karolyi] scares me more than the judges, so I saw the judges and I was fine!”

Simone is going into the All Around finals as the leader of the pack. She also qualified for every event finals. She is the first American to do that since Shannon Miller!

Kyla Ross – The Empress of Elegance


by John Cheng, USAG

Kyla Ross has gone from the Queen of Clean to the Empress of Elegance. Last year, I was always so impressed with her beautiful lines and lightness of movement. But her gymnastics didn’t keep my attention. It didn’t inspire me. No longer. Kyla now commands my attention on every event.

The change is not only in her incredibly improved expression, artistry and dance on floor and beam. Her experience in Olympic competition, the media frenzy, fame and the incredible bond of her team has given her a poise, a presence, a confidence that shows in everything she does. From her interviews to her height, her bright red lipstick to her beautiful routines, Kyla has grown up.

Kyla stepped out onto the floor today in a beautiful red leo with red lipstick to match. She looked gorgeous. And fierce! She was raring to go, always the first one off from the line-up to prepare for the event.

She did a beautiful DTY, but not the best she can do. She had a much bigger hop on her landing than normal, but it is still quite a gorgeous vault.

5.800 (D) +9.366 (E)  = 15.166

Kyla’s has such a light and airy swing and competes bars with a calmness that is almost peaceful to watch. She is a little short on a few of her handstands, but other than that, it was a great routine. Stuck landing and all.

6.400 (D) + 8.733 (E) =15.133

Kyla competes beam like she is dancing in the clouds. Every movement is done with a lightness and a preciseness that just makes it look like she is floating. This was a great routine. She missed one of her connections and had the tiniest of wobbles. But this is a routine I will watch a few times.

5.900 (D) +8.666 (E) = 14.566

I really am falling in love with this floor routine. The choreography is beautiful, playing with little nuances and hits in the music and really expressing the music well. And Kyla is performing it so well. She has great musicality, expressiveness and of course, execution. This is undoubtedly the best floor routine she has ever done. And a stick on her last pass to boot!

5.700 (E) + 8.633 (D) = 14.333

And perhaps where she has grown the most is her ability to interview. She is delightful, humble, authentic and just fun to hear from.

What a great start from our Empress of Elegance!