Laurie Hernandez Out with an Injury

Maggie and Laurie work on flexibility. Photo from Maggie’s Girls Facebook Page

One of our favorite smiling faces was missing from the recent National Team Training Camp pictures. According to Maggie’s Girls Facebook page, Laurie injured her wrist and will be out of the spring competition season.

Laurie slipped off the beam somewhere mid January and fractured her wrist. She will be in a cast for six weeks, so this will effectively keep her from being ready for any of the March international assignments. In the meantime, she is in the gym training hard to keep up her conditioning and flexibility. On the upside, they are using this time for beam upgrades!

We will look forward to seeing those upgrades, and wish Laurie a speedy recovery!

And since it is impossible for me to think about Laurie without wanting to see her floor routine…

The Gabby Douglas Story Roundup

“What’s cooler for you, the multiple gold medals or a movie about your life?”  Emotional Mojo asked Gabby Douglas in an interview about her upcoming movie, “The Gabby Douglas Story.” The movie based on Gabby’s Olympic journey, comes out this Saturday at 8/7c on Lifetime. “Beyond the Headlines: The Gabby Douglas Story” will follow at 10/9c.

Gabby talks about different aspects of her journey with Emotional Mojo as they look at different scenes from the movie. She says that one thing she loves about the movie is that is shows her family’s struggles. She hopes that those inspire people. To hear what’s cooler, watch the end of the interview.

Arsenio Hall sat down with Gabby and the two girls who play her in the film. I was very impressed with the two actresses – Imani Hakim and Sydney Mikayla. Sydney is a precocious, bubbly ten year old who embodies all of the things we loved about Gabby and reminds me so much of interviews with Gabby in the years before the Olympics. Imani talks about how her journey to become an actress has some similarities to Gabby’s story with great poise. They both embody who Gabby is and make me want to see the movie!

Gabby talked with USA Gymnastics about the movie (read the interview here).

“It was a little weird to be on the set because the actors are portraying my family and me,” Douglas admitted. “But it was a really cool process to see how they picked the little Gabby and the older version of me.”

She also talked about how fun it was to see billboards on both sides of the country. McKayla Maroney seems to think so to.

“What a pleasant surprise bumping into one of my “FIERCEST” best friends/my teammate/and TWO TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST Gabby Douglas, on my bike ride today – she was pretty focused!”

There are a number of fun interviews with Gabby surrounding the movie, which tell more about her journey. Here are some of my favorites.

A cute “Gabby on Gabby” with Gabby and Imani

Gabby and Natalie Hawkins talk about their thoughts and differing perspectives on competition.

Gabby and Natalie talk about confidence and finding that confidence and the hard work in her journey.

And finally, here is the preview. Don’t forget to watch it tomorrow or set your DVRs!

Jordyn Wieber Lives Naturally High

A great video from Jordyn talking about living in the natural high of working and training hard and the joy of gymnastics. Jordyn seems to be incredibly relaxed in these interviews, and gives more relaxed, natural answers then we often get to see. This is a fun view of Jordyn’s love of the sport, the role models in her life and her influence on others.

To be Known and Loved – the Story of Mattie Larson.

What do you do when the American dream doesn’t come true? When you work hard, harder than most people can ever imagine, and it just never quite comes together for you? When everyone expects you to be a sensation? When you win – and then fail- on the largest stage in your field?

That is the story of Mattie Larson. Mattie was a celebrated junior, who showed so much promise. A talented all around gymnast, Mattie was most beloved for her floor. She showed so much pizazz and artistry, in the midst of incredibly beautiful and difficult tumbling. And she drew you into her performance, mesmerized with her loveliness. Just the kind of story we Americans love, a young protege who begins to delight us with her prowess.

But even in the midst of that, Mattie was plagued with injury. She missed out on the 2008 Olympics due to a leg injury and worked her way through 2009 battling injuries as well. Then 2010 finally seemed to be her year. After dazzling America with a charming and powerful performance at Nationals, Mattie fell short on the world stage – twice. Her falls on floor were costly in America’s bid for the World gold, and the backlash against her seemed to be more than she could bare.

But even with her failure, America loves Mattie. In a world of trash talking about gymnasts, people root for Mattie. We so want her to succeed. We know her. And we love her just the same.

Mattie decided to leave elite level gymnastics after that, and turned to NCAA. To Miss Val, who had known and loved Mattie since she was seven years old. It seemed that with Miss Val’s loving tutelage, and their power combination of incredible choreographer and dazzling performer, it would finally be Mattie’s time to shine.

And Miss Val’s influence did seem to help Mattie in the mental aspects of the sport. The brought together two delightful floor routines. But in the end, it was not to be at UCLA either. Plagued with injury still, she never really found her stride. Even so, we continue to love Mattie and root for her to succeed.

What is it about Mattie Larson that we all love? Of course, there is the obvious answer. She has dynamic, beautiful gymnastics, gorgeous lines and enchanting performance abilities. But I think it goes beyond that. There is so much in Mattie that we can relate to.

There are the gymnasts out there who seem to be so mentally strong, nothing seems to rattle them. We love that about them, but most of us cannot really relate. We would be rattled. There are they gymnasts out there that love the sacrifice and discipline of training. They seem to be super-human in their ability to train and train – and love it. And we love them for it, but most of us cannot really relate. We would give up. There are gymnasts out there who seem to have issues in training, but when the pressure is on, they always come through. They shine under the the pressure that most of us would crumble under.

Mattie has so much brilliance, so much potential. And yet she misses. In life, we miss so much more than we come through in the clinch. We could be brilliant, but for whatever reason – physical, mental, emotional- we are not. We are rattled, we give up, we crumble. Yes, we love those that shine. But we often identify more with the agony of failure than the glow of success. Will any of us ever forget the look on Mattie’s face when she walked off the floor of team finals in 2010? We remember it so vividly because it is a feeling we have all had.

But we do not love Mattie because she fails. We love Mattie because despite her failures, she keeps trying. And has moments of beautiful, shining success. Sometimes, life comes together for us. The stars align, and all of our hard work pays off at just the right moment. Most of the time, it doesn’t. In Mattie, we see how to live authentically, with passion in the midst of both times in life.

We know Mattie. And we love her.

But what is as inspiring to us as Mattie, is the love and wisdom she has received from Miss Val, who has seem to constantly inspire and pick Mattie up. Who brought out the very best in her. And who helped her know when to retire with as much grace and dignity as she performed. When should Mattie quit? When gymnastics no longer brought her joy. When the part of it she loved became stale.

International Gymnastics did a great interview with Mattie that captures it well. 

I think it was a whole process since I’ve been at UCLA. I’ve known Miss Val (Kondos Field) and Chris since I was about 7, and they’ve known that, yes, I’ve had a lot of success in gymnastics, but it’s taken an emotional toll. It’s not an easy sport. My process here at UCLA made me feel that I could finally have a voice and make decisions for myself. For a while, I think I was ready to move on, and they finally gave me the chance to do so. I couldn’t imagine making this decision anywhere else or at any other time. I finally got clarity.

The most important thing that Mattie has, is that she is known – for her failures AND her successes – and loved despite them both. And in the end, that is a pretty amazing thing.

American Cup – Kyla out, Ebee in

And so it begins. It often seems that the roster for the American Cup is a bit of a game of musical chairs. Two years in a row, Kyla Ross finds herself without a chair when the music stops.

The American Cup is at a very awkward point in the elite gymnastics cycle. Many gymnasts are still focusing on skill acquisition for the upcoming year, others are nursing small injuries, saving themselves up for later in the year. Kyla once again finds herself in the later camp with a minor back injury.

Though it doesn’t have huge repercussions in the scheme of things for national and world titles, there is a prestige in winning the American Cup that Kyla keeps missing out on. Last year, Elizabeth Price and Kyla Ross were both replaced as the American representatives at the American Cup due to injury. Now this week, ironically, Elizabeth Price will be replacing Kyla Ross.

For Elizabeth Price, this is a chance to unpress pause on her last year of gymnastics. Ebee, as she is affectionately known, took the World Cup series by storm after the 2012 Olympics, where she was an alternate. She won the Stuattguart and Glasglow World Cup at the end of 2012, and looked to be America’s next big name in gymnastics going into 2013. Then, before the American Cup she injured her hip. She pulled out of the competition to recuperate and be prepared for the bigger competitions later in the year.

Then she injured her other hip later in the spring. Though she gave valiant performances at Nationals, she just wasn’t able to come back soon enough to be in play for the World team. Late 2013, she once again had phenomenal performances at the World Cups. Let’s hope she can truly un-press pause, and have the year in 2014 that we all thought she would have in 2013. Healthy, and a top player in the world of USA gymnastics.

Read more in the USA Gymnastics Press Release.

American Cup Field – Victoria Moors

Visa International Gymnastics 2012: MOORS Victoria/CAN

Victoria Moors is one of those rare gymnasts who combines extreme athleticism with poise, grace and beauty. She is a seventeen year old from Canada. She started her senior gymnastics career by representing Canada at the Olympics. Victoria is a wonderful all around gymnast and in fact is the highest placing female in the all around in Canada’s history. But Victoria  is truly celebrated for her work on floor.

She has incredible musicality and performance qualities. She fills in all the gray areas, dancing with subtlety and complexity. She draws you into her music, into her entire performance. Of all the wonderful gymnastics I have seen over the last few years in person, Victoria’s floor routine at the Pacific Rims in 2013 definitely stands out as one of my very favorite pieces of gymnastics.

At the same time she is dancing her way to your heart, Victoria is doing some of the most difficult tumbling in the world. In fact, one of the most difficult floor tumbling elements in women’s gymnastics – a double twisting double layout is now named after her. Victoria had this skill named after her at the 2013 World Championships. Here she does the same floor routine (even better in my opinion) with her new skill.

On top of this, she is just one of those personalities that just shines out on the floor. She is a delight to watch compete. And I CANNOT wait to see her double twisting double layout in person!!!



2014 ATT American Cup Women’s Roster

I am so excited about this year’s field at the 2014 AT&T American Cup. It is quite a female field, full of fan favorites! A combination of very talented women who each stand out in a crowd on their own merits. I could (and will) go on about every one of these women and why they stand out in the world of women’s gymnastics. I am so very excited to see them in person at the AT&T Cup!

Women’s field

  • Canada – Victoria Moors – known for her incredible dance and the highest level of tumbling, watching Victoria on floor is a rare treat.
  • Italy – Carlotta Ferlito – full of personality and growing into an ongoing international presence in the midst of her tv superstardom, Carlotta is becoming more fun to watch every meet.
  • Italy – Vanessa Ferrari – Vanessa is one of the most well respected women in women’s gymnastics. She just keeps on going. She is a joy to watch on floor and beam, and seeing her on the floor in general is a piece of history.
  • Romania – Larisa Andrea Iordache – Larisa is without a doubt one of the best in the world on vault. Her floor routine has become one of my very favorites.
  • Spain – Roxana Popa Nedelcu – Roxana has quickly garnered attention with her brave, athletic and sparkling style.
  • Switzerland – Giulia Steingruber – is one of the most innovative bar workers in the world. Her attitude makes you love her and just want to see her get better every year.

It’s hard to say who the ACTUAL Americans will be. Hopefully, we will see our two World Champions!

  • USA – Simone Biles, Spring, Texas/Bannon’s Gymnastix
  • USA – Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif./Gym-Max

Who’s Who in 2014 – The Lay of the Land (Seniors)

As we head into the second year of the Olympic quadrennium, lets take a look at 2014’s likely senior players. We can look more in depth into individuals in the months to come, but for now lets just remember the lay of the land.

The current Senior National Team members are:

Name Club Current Residence
Kennedy Baker Texas Dreams Gymnastics Flower Mound, TX
Simone Biles Bannon’s Gymnastix Inc. Spring, TX
Madison Desch Great American Gymn. Express Lenexa, KS
Brenna Dowell Great American Gymn. Express Odessa, MO
Peyton Ernst Texas Dreams Gymnastics Coppell, TX
Madison Kocian WOGA Gymnastics Dallas, TX
McKayla Maroney All Olympia AOGC Long Beach, CA
Maggie Nichols Twin City Twisters Little Canada, MN
Elizabeth Price Parkettes National Gymnastics Center Coopersburg, PA
Lexie Priessman Cincinnati Gymnastics Cincinnati, OH
Kyla Ross Gym-Max Gymnastics Aliso Viejo, CA
MyKayla Skinner Desert Lights Gymnastics Gilbert, AZ

Current Junior National Team members who are now seniors:

Name Club Current Residence
Alyssa Baumann WOGA Gymnastics Plano, TX
Veronica Hults Texas Dreams Gymnastics Coppell, TX
Amelia Hundley Cincinnati Gymnastics Hamilton, OH  
Polina Shchennikova Tigar Arvada, CO

Abby Millet, Felicia Hano, Ashton Locklear, Melissa Reinstadtler are all current or new seniors who have attended one of the last few National Team Training Camps and may be names to watch. There are others out there who may or may not be around this year. There is evidence that Sarah Finnegan is making her way back to elite shape. Sabrina Vega is planning on being back for this year if all goes well. Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman are all said to be doing some training, but have not put anything out there lately that would seem to say they will be trying to be back for this season. Katelyn Ohashi is still quiet on her training front.

I can’t wait until we start seeing where these girls are at this year, and other new names the year may bring!

Say Hello to the 2014 Elite Season

The 2014 Elite season is beginning to ramp up with qualification meets. And though the first “big” meet of the year is still a month and a half away, it is at least drawing close enough that you can see it in the distance! Here is the schedule for the elite meets and the National Team Training Camps this year.

  • Feb. 28 Nastia Liukin Cup Greensboro, NC – televised (I’ll be blogging in person!)
  • Mar 1 AT&T American Cup Greensboro, NC – televised on NBC (I’ll be blogging in person!)
  • Mar. 22-23 Jesolo Meet Italy Jesolo, Italy
  • April 5-6 Japan World Cup Japan
  • Apr 6-13 Pacific Rim Championships Richmond, CAN (I’ll be blogging in person!)
  • Jul. 31-Aug 2 Secret U.S. Classic/Challenge TBD – I am sure it will be televised, not yet listed.
  • Aug. 20-24 P&G Gymnastics Championships Pittsburgh, Pa. – televised on NBC
  • Aug. 27-Sept.1 Sr. Pan American Championships Toronto
  • Oct. 3-12 World Championships Nanning, China I am sure it will be televised, not yet listed.

National Team Training Camps

  • Jan. 20-24 National Team Camp National Team Training Center
  • Feb. 21-25 National Team Camp NTTC
  • Mar 13-17 National Team Camp/Selection NTTC
  • May 1-5 National Team Camp NTTC
  • June 2-6 National Team Camp NTTC
  • June 29-Jul 3 National Team Camp NTTC
  • Sept. 17-24 World Champs. Selection camp NTTC
  • Oct. 23-27 National Team Camp NTTC
  • Nov. 21-25 National Team Camp NTTC