USA Gymnastics opens up it’s elite season with the annual City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy. The seniors they are sending are as diverse in their situations as they are in their gymnastics strengths. From reigning world champions to returning Olympians to first time debuters, we will see the gamut in Jesolo.
Gymnastike is on the scene, and providing as many routines as possible from the training sessions in Jesolo, which you can access with a Gymnastike Gold subscription. These videos provide a look into the training sessions for the meet.
The Reigning World Champions
Simone Biles comes into the competition fresh off of her dominating win at the AT&T American Cup just a few weeks ago. She also comes in as the reigning two time world champion, and for now, is considered unbeatable. Joining her are three other members of the 2015 World Champion Team, Kyla Ross, Alyssa Bauman and alternate Maddie Desch. Ross declined her place at the AT&T American Cup to have more time to work on upgrades. So this is the first opportunity to see the fruits of her labor. All three will be looking to prove that they are still in the mix for this year’s worlds team despite the new competition.
Simone Biles looks as great as she looked just a few weeks ago at the American Cup. Her vault is dreamlike, her bars are solid and even better connected than in training for the American Cup. She had a few minor wobbles on beam, but was steady and confident and floor continues to be her playground as she stuck a double layout fullout with ease.
Kyla Ross brought some upgrades to Jesolo on bars. She has not showcased the pak full that she had mentioned training earlier this year, but did bring in a new combination and a new dismount. The routine: toe on + toe full + Maloney + Pak + van Leeuwen (form break here), toe half + jaeger, double front dismount. Ross also brought in a dramatic and creative new floor routine. She continues to grow in her artistry on this event. She did not show the whip to double arabian, but had solid tumbling and dance throughout. Beam and floor are both as solid and beautiful as last year.
Alyssa Baumann will be looking to make a statement that her beam routines are what the USA needs, and that she can contribute on any event. And her training in Jesolo definitely helped to make her case. On floor she showcased three difficult turns- a Memmel, a double L turn and a quadruple turn as well as a piked full out. Her beam looks beautiful, and she does one of the most solid, upright standing arabians in the world (second only to Nia Dennis). The routine: arabian, switch ring, backhandpring step out + layout step out, switch split + switch half, full turn, front aerial, sheep jump, onodi + wolf jump, aerial, roundoff double pike dismount. Baumann completes the package of being able to represent the US on any event with a solid double twisting yurchenko on vault and a beautiful bar routine.
Maddie Desch put in solid training sessions, however she needs cleanup work on all of her events. She threw a solid DTY on vault, however landed with quite a low chest and without the flight dynamics of many of the other US gymnasts. Desch puts together quite an impressive bar routine, but will need to clean up some form issues and landing on her dismount. The same is true on beam. Desch has some great skills, but needs to work on amplitude. All in all, Desch looks solidly like she belongs in Jesolo, but will need to continue sharpening her skills and performance as the year goes on.
Senior International Debuts
Bailie Key is not stranger to the international elite scene, making her fourth appearance at the City of Jesolo Trophy. She comes into Jesolo as the reigning junior all-around champion for two years running. Key was injured and did not take part in the junior national championships last year, but her resume is long and distinguished. Her senior debut has been widely anticipated, and Key will be expected to be a major player for the podium this year. Key is competing the same delightful floor routine from last year, and she has added a double wolf turn. Tumbling upgrades are also expected but were not shown in the training videos. She brings the same strong, consistent beam routine as last year though re-worked and with a wolf full turn. Its on uneven bars that Key shows the most upgrades adding a Ricna + pak combination and a Chow + overshoot to handstand + stalder 1/1 + Ray. Her bars have beautiful flow and form with just a slight form break on her new low bar work. Her DTY on vault showed a lot more form issues than she used to have, but it was just one vault.
Emily Schild is actually a second year senior, but injury kept her out last year so this will be her senior debut. Schild showed a lot of promise at the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup, but has never quite put it all together due to injuries and mishaps. She will be looking to give a solid performance in Jesolo. There were no training videos of Schild on vault, which has been her strongest event in the past. She showed a pretty and well done floor routine in training, but depending on the tumbling passes may be lower in difficulty than many of her US teammates. Her beam routine was clean, showing off her beautiful lines, but had some major form breaks in her back tumbling. Schild has gorgeous lines and a great swing on bars, with lots of great inbar work. However, a number of form breaks keep it from being really solid, but her full twisting double layout dismount is fabulous!
Megan Skaggs is another first year senior, and this will also be her first international assignment. She has a quick and expressive floor routine to some exotic music that is fun to watch. On both beam and bars, Skaggs has a lot of potential with difficult skills and pretty lines. However, she needs to do clean up on a lot of wobbles and form breaks. She pulled around a DTY that landed quite low.
Returning from Injury
Last but not least is Maggie Nichols, who missed out on last years world team selection camp and worlds due to injury after making a name for herself at the 2014 US competitions. Nichols has a great floor routine with a lot of energy and expression, including a piked fullin and a triple turn. She has a nice beam routine with a piked front tuck with a half and a switch ring. She had the cleanest DTY next to Ross. And where Nichols really makes a statement is on bars. She brings in seven connected skills! Toe 1/1 + Chow + pak + Maloney + overshoot to handstand + toe 1/2 + van Leeuwen. Nichols will be one to watch.
These ten world class seniors are all showing great consistency in training. While the gold is likely wrapped up, it will definitely be a battle for the other two spots on the podium. Winning, not just trophies, but helping to position them for selection to a much bigger international competition later this year.
Photo from Simone Biles Twitter.