Secret U.S. Classics Seniors Recap and Results


The energy in the Sears Centre Arena was electric for the 2015 Secret U.S. Classic. Simone Biles of World Champions wowed the crowd the whole night through to win the gold with a 62.4. Gabby Douglas of Buckeye Gymnastics came out strong in her first US meet since 2012 for silver, earning a 60.50. Nichols showed she was out to make a name for herself with her new amanar, and gorgeous, consistent routines on every event for a 60.0.

Bailie Key of Texas Dreams came out strong in her US senior debut, just missing the bronze with a 59.45. Raisman had a great night, competing her amanar for the first time, but fell on a newly upgraded floor pass, ending the night with a 59.05. Kyla Ross of Gym Max only competed on two events due to a hurt heel.

Rotation One

Nichols performed her new amanar vault with just a slight step on landing. Douglas looked great on bars, the arena exploded before and after her routine with just a hush while she competed. She flew high on all her release moves for a 15.4. Key competed beam like the veteran she is in her first US senior meet, scoring a 14.45. Raisman pulled out a surprise amanar in warm ups and competed it beautifully, but with a step to the side that went out of bounds for a 15.4. The crowd went even wilder for Biles on beam, where she was solid on her new barani and front pike, and just had one major wobble for a 15.25.

Brenna Dowell fell on a release after hitting her routines in podium training and warm ups in her first meet back as an elite. Alyssa Baumann fell on beam, but hit the rest of the routine with her normal gorgeous lines. Ashton Locklear is still getting back into routine condition, and though she performed on beam, she was not scored.

At the end of rotation one Nichols was on top with a 15.8 follow by Raisman and Douglas with a 15.4. Biles

Rotation Two

Nichols started off the rotation with a gorgeous bar routine for a 14.95. Key opened up with a gorgeous double layout, and continued on with her fantastic new routine to score a 14.8.  Douglas hit an awesome, perfectly solid beam routine for a 14.9. Raisman showed her ever improving bar routine, where she scored a 14.2. MyKayla Skinner debuted her new floor routine, but put her hands down on her last pass after looking very winded.

Ross missed her hand in her new bhardwaj release and had to stop. Then she fell again. She got back up with determination to compete the rest of her routine while the crowd cheered her on, and she looked great.

Biles led at the halfway point with a 31.3, followed by Nichols with a 30.75 and Douglas with a 30.3.

Rotation Three

Key opened up the rotation on vault, showing a clean Yurchenko double for a 14.9. Biles rocked her amanar vault with just the tiniest of hops for an incredible 9.7 execution score and a 16.0. Raisman followed her on beam. After an almost perfect routine in warmups, she had a few wobbles but stuck her incredibly difficult Patterson dismount to earn a 15.1. Ross came back after her bar routine with a beautiful beam routine with one major wobble on her side aerial for a 14.55. Douglas continued onto floor where she got the crowd clapping along with her upbeat music and hit all her leaps, turns and tumbling for a 15.0. Nichols continued on her fantastic day with a solid, beautiful beam routine scoring a 14.45.

Sabrina Vega showed off on floor in her first meet back since 2011, competing a more simple routine, but doing it very well until the last pass when she put her hands down.

The third rotation ended with Biles in first with a 47.3, Douglas with a 45.3 and Nichols just behind with a 45.2.

Rotation Four

Entering the last rotation, Raisman was five tenths behind Nichols and six behind Douglas as they moved to her best event. However, with Douglas on vault, it seemed unlikely she would be able to catch her. Madison Kocian performed a beautifully flowing bar routine, scoring the highest bars score of the night, a 15.6.  Biles finished on bars, where she has greatly improved and ends with a stick to put an exclamation point on her very successful competition. She earned a 15.1 to cap off her night. Raisman took the floor to a roaring crowd, but fell on her newly upgraded second pass. She went on to wow with everything else, but her was not enough to make the podium. Nichols came out strong on floor, scoring a 14.8. Key finished her night with a great bar set, scoring a 15.3 and just missing the bronze.

Full Results at SecretClassic.com.

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Secret US Classics Junior Results and Recap


The arena was ablaze with sparkling leotards as the juniors took the stage at the Secret US Classics. After an exciting competition, Lauren Hernandez of MG Elite topped the podium with a 58.45. Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams won the silver with a 57.70, while reigning national junior champion Jazzy Foberg of MG Elite followed behind her for the bronze with a 57.40. Hernandez led the entire meet, while Smith built up her scores with consistency and topped it off with a fantastic floor routine to take the silver. Foberg was also strong throughout the meet, however stumbles on her floor landings kept her just out of reach of the silver.

Rotation One

Jordan Chiles went for her new amanar vault, the only junior attempting this difficult skill, but touched her hand down to prevent herself from falling backward. She ended the rotation in third with a 14.6. Ragan Smith also started on vault, scoring a 14.7 with a clean double twisting yurchenko. Grace Quinn tied her for second in the first rotation with a beautiful double twisting yurchenko of her own.

Hernandez started on bars as did reigning national champion Foberg.  Foberg was up first, and floated through her 6.0 bar routine for a 14.1. But Hernandez stole the show with her high flying releases and stuck landing for a 15.0, leading after the first rotation.

Rotation Two

Laurie Hernandez on beam during podium training at the Secret US Classics. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp

Jordan Chiles did a beautiful bar routine, but did not match Hernandez’s difficulty on bars and ended up with a 14.1. Foberg got through beam with just a few small wobbles, hitting her skills nicely for a huge 14.65, the highest score on beam to this point. Hernandez got up next, performing with her usual style and attack but had a large step back on her landing, leaving her with a 14.2. The rotation ended with Hernandez in the lead with a 29.2, Foberg in second 28.75 followed closely by Chiles with a 28.7.

Rotation Three

Ragan Smith in podium training. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp.

Chiles performed a beautiful beam routine, but fell on her back tuck. She finished the routine strong, but a 13.6 was low enough to just knock her off the podium at the end of the rotation. Foberg competed some impressive tumbling in her floor routine, opening with a full twisting double layout and a tuck double double for her second pass. She has some rough landings, and earned a 13.85, which was not quite enough to keep her in the top three. Christine Desiderio steped into the top three with the highest floor score of the meet at this point, earning a 14.85. Smith competed three solid routines in a row, and her consistency plus her incredible beam routine including a standing piked full earned her a 14.1 on beam moved her up in the standings. Hernandez wowed the crowd with her incredible floor performance, and was nearly flawless until her last pass when she stumbled back a bit and went out of bounds. However, a 14.35 kept her well in the lead. At the end of rotation three, Hernandez led with a 43.55. Ragan Smith moved into second with a 42.70. Desiderio was followed with a 42.65. Foberg and Chiles fell to fourth and fifth.

Rotation Four

Foberg and Hernandez side by side through it all. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp.

Only four tenths separated second through fifth places heading into the last rotation, and the competition was tight. Foberg and Hernandez were on vault, usually highest scoring event. Smith and Chiles were on floor and Desiderio was on bars. Foberg led off with a high double twisting yurchenko for a 14.8. Hernandez did a clean double twisting yurchenko with a small hop, earning a a 14.9,the highest vault score in the meet and enough to keep her solidly in the lead. Ragan Smith took the floor with her charming and charismatic routine, opening with a sky high double layout, a one and a half stepout through to a triple twist, a double arabian and a stuck double pike. She scored the highest floor score of the meet, a whopping 15.0, which kept her in second place. Desiderio fell on bars, knocking her off the podium. Chiles finished up the meet on floor where she fell on her opening pass. She finished up well, but three falls in one meet kept her from the podium.

Full Results at SecretClassic.com. Top scores in the all-around and each event are below.

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Secret Surprises, A Look At Senior Podium Training and Upgrades


In many ways, the Secret US Classics can be one of the most exciting meets of the year. It is the time when we see impressive upgrades, gymnast debuts and begin to really get an idea of the overall picture for the US women’s team. It is also a meet where anything can happen, as the girls routines are not yet polished and perfected. This year boasts an extra level of excitement with the return of many beloved gymnasts, upgrades in unexpected places and the place in the Olympic cycle where gymnastics fans can begin to see glimpses of next year’s Olympic team.

“The energy in the arena was intense,” said gymnastics photographer Christy Linder. Gone were the smiles and casual jokes, instead the girls had stoic, focused expressions. And while it is still early in the lead up to the selection of the world and ultimately the Olympic team, the intensity of the competition is beginning to show. With just over a year to go, everyone has Rio on their mind.

“Classics is always really important. It is the meet right before championships, so it allows you to see where you are and it allows you to try out your new skills… and to see if it is still worth it to push for the new skills, because after this meet you can’t really try anything new at championships or world championships,” said Aly Raisman in an interview with USA Gymnastics after podium training. Raisman is trying out a new skill on floor, adding a front tuck after her incredibly difficult pike double arabian in her second tumbling pass. “That’s still something relatively new, adding it into the floor routine, so hopefully tomorrow it will go well.”

And Raisman is not alone. In 2012 the USA seemed like an amanar factory. However, the number of gymnasts performing this high scoring vault consistently has diminished to just one – Simone Biles. Returning gymnasts Gabby Douglas, Raisman and Brenna Dowell all competed the amanar previously. Bailie Key is also training this vault. But the only person to actually show it in podium training today was Maggie Nichols. Welcome to the amanar club Maggie!

Speaking of Simone Biles, though she already has the most difficulty in the world by far, she is always pushing herself for more. Biles showed off two new skills on beam. “I added a Barani on beam [front tuck with a half twist] and a front pike… and then I got a new floor routine, so I am excited about that… and then I was supposed to compete a Cheng on vault, but that’s not going to happen, so hopefully for P&G’s,” said Biles in her post podium training interview. Biles also added a full twisting double layout on floor at Jesolo earlier this year and will be competing that along with a brand new floor routine.

Kyla Ross has spent this year focusing on bar upgrades. “I’ve been working hard to be able to compete a more difficult routine,” said Ross. She debuted a Bhardwaj (full twisting pak, a transition flip from the high to low bar) during podium training and also a new double front dismount. She has also changed some of her connections on beam. However, bars and beam are all we will see tomorrow as she won’t be competing all-around. “Unfortunately I am not going to do the all around this weekend because I hurt my heel a little bit, but I am hoping to go back after this competition and train hard for P&G’s.”

Bailie Key will not let her US senior debut come and go without upgrades of her own. “Training has been going really well. I am excited to compete here as a senior at the Secret Classic, and I thought training here, podium training, went really good too. I am most excited for floor because that is my big upgrade. I am putting a double layout in and moving my other passes back,” said Key. Along with her upgrade, Key also brings a brand new floor routine of her own.

Gabby Douglas is excited to be competing again, but will wait to unveil her new upgrades until P&G National Championships. “I’ve been working on a little bit of upgrades, which you guys will see at P&G’s, and being consistent and patient,” said Douglas after podium training. She knows that to make another Olympic team, she is going to have to give it her all. “We have so many good girls, all fighting for that spot and the competition is more dynamic… all the gymnasts, especially me, are going to have to pull out the best of the best. Especially with Simone. We’re gonna all have to bring out our best skills.” Douglas gave us a preview, showing off her new floor routine.

In addition to the upgrade frenzy were a number of familiar faces making their way back into the elite scene. Brenna Dowell, Polina Shchennikova and Sabrina Vega are all returning to elite gymnastics. Dowell just took a short hiatus to try her hand at college gymnastics. After a successful freshman year, she showed up to podium training looking better than ever on bars. Shchennikova showed off her gorgeous lines and flexibility on beam and bars, reminding everyone why she has been one that always catches your eye. Vega has been out since the 2012 Olympic Trials and is looking to begin her journey back into competition this weekend.

2014 World Champions MyKayla Skinner, Alyssa Baumann, Ashton Locklear and Madison Kocian are all out to prove that they are still in the running this year, even with the return of so many other gymnasts. Kocian and Locklear are both coming off of injuries as well, and will be looking to show that they are fit and ready to go. Standout junior Nia Dennis will be making her senior debut, looking to make a place for herself as well.

All in all, the gymnasts everyone expected to look great, do. And the gymnasts we have been wondering about- look great as well.  This year, more than any before, seems to be an embarrassment of riches. Let the fun begin.

Felicia Hano Injured During Podium Training- Withdraws from Secret US Classics


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Felicia Hano is injured on vault during podium training. Photo courtesy of Christy Linder Sharp.

Felicia Hano, training partner with Kyla Ross at Gym-Max Gymnastics in Costa Mesa, CA, injured herself today during podium training for the 2015 Secret US Classics. Though no official update has been given, the most recent update of the start list for tomorrow’s competition no longer has Hano on it.

The rotation was wrapping up and most of the gymnasts had left the vault. Hano remained, trying to get in a good vault after struggling through the rotation on her second vault. She was attempting a full twisting laid-out tsukahara. She landed short and immediately went down and rolled to her side, grabbing her right leg. Her coaches came to her aid and she sat up while they examined her. It is not yet clear what injury she sustained, though it is likely a knee or ankle injury.

Hano, a former trampolinist, made her senior debut in elite gymnastics last year at the US Classics, where she placed seventh on floor and 10th in the all-around. She went on to the P&G National Championships where she placed seventh on floor. She was also selected as a replacement for the Pan American team last year and was added to the US National team. The 2015 Secret US Classics would have been Hano’s first competition of the year.

An All Star Cast Takes the Stage at the Secret US Classics


Tomorrow starts the final run up to the national championships with the Secret US Classics. Nine World and Olympic champions will take the stage as they fine tune their performances in preparation for the national championships and make the case for why they should be on the 2015 World Championship team. Headlining the competition is two-time World all-around champion Simone Biles of World Champions Centre and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kyla Ross of Gym-Max. 2012 Olympic gold medalists Gabrielle Douglas of Buckeye Gymnastics and Aly Raisman of Brestyan’s American Gymnastics will be making their first appearance in competition on US soil since 2012.

This year’s field boasts gold medal gymnasts spanning from World Championship team in 2011 through the 2012 Olympics to the 2014 World Championships. The USA has won gold in all of those years, and those gold medalists are making their bid to prove why they should each be on the national and world teams. More than 100 of the country’s top female gymnasts will be competing in the junior and senior divisions. The action will start with podium training on July 24, which will stream live at 9:00 a.m. ET (juniors) and 11:00 a.m. ET (seniors) and then will continue with competition on the 25th.

The juniors will take the stage at 1 p.m. on July 25 at the Sears Centre in Chicago. The seniors start at 6:30 p.m. Universal Sports television will broadcast live from 7:30-9:30 p.m. ET.  The competition will be simultaneously webcast on UniversalSports.com and on the official Secret Classic website.  If you miss it live, the broadcast will be available for on-demand streaming.

The official athlete list from USA Gymnastics:

Alyssa Baumann, WOGA/Plano, Texas
Simone Biles, World Champions Centre/Spring, Texas
Nia Dennis, Legacy Elite/Westerville, Ohio
Kylie Dickson, All Olympia/Los Angeles, Calif.
Gabrielle Douglas, Buckeye Gymnastics/Tarzana, Calif.
Brenna Dowell, Great American Gymnastics Express/Odessa, Mo.
Felicia Hano, Gym-Max/San Gabriel, Calif.
Bailie Key, Texas Dreams/Montgomery, Texas
Madison Kocian, WOGA/Dallas, Texas
Alaina Kwan, All Olympia/Cypress, Calif.
Taylor Lawson, Parkettes/Macungie, Pa.
Ashton Locklear, Everest Gymnastics/Hamlet, N.C.
Lauren Navarro, Gliders-Charter Oak/La Verne, Calif.
Maggie Nichols, Twin City Twisters/Little Canada, Minn.
Marissa Oakley, Phenom Gymnastics/Oswego, Ill.
Aly Raisman, Brestyan’s/Needham, Mass.
Lexy Ramler, KidSport/St. Michael, Minn.
Kyla Ross, Gym-Max/Aliso Viejo, Calif.
Polina Shchennikova, TIGAR/Evergreen, Colo.
MyKayla Skinner, Desert Lights Gymnastics/Gilbert, Ariz.
Sabrina Vega, GAGE/Carmel, N.Y.

Junior Athletes

Shania Adams, Buckeye Gymnastics/Plain City, Ohio
Alyssa Al-Ashari, Twistars USA/Lansing, Mich.
Elena Arenas, Georgia Elite/Bishop, Ga.
Aria Brusch, Cincinnati Gymnastics/Forest Park, Ohio
Chae Campbell, Metroplex Gymnastics/Carrollton, Texas
Jordan Chiles, Naydenov Gymnastics/Vancouver, Wash.
Kaitlin DeGuzman, Metroplex Gymnastics/Rowlett, Texas
Christina Desiderio, Parkettes/Hackettstown, N.J.
Olivia Dunne, ENA Paramus/ Hillsdale, N.J.
Colbi Flory, Texas Dreams/Rockwall, Texas
Jazmyn Foberg, MG Elite/Bayville, N.J.
Margzetta Frazier, Parkettes/Erial, N.J.
Megan Freed, Parkettes/Bethlehem, Pa.
Emily Gaskins, North Port Gymnastics/Coral Springs, Fla.
Jaylene Gilstrap, Metroplex Gymnastics/McKinney, Texas
Lauren Hernandez, MG Elite/Old Bridge, N.J.
Anna Huber, Rochester Gymnastics/Rochester, N.Y.
Morgan Hurd, First State Gymnastics/Middletown, Del.
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Brandy Johnson’s/Groveland, Fla.
Shilese Jones, Buckeye Gymnastics/Covington, Wash.
Hannah Joyner, World Champion Centre/Spring, Texas
Adeline Kenlin, Iowa Gym-Nest/Iowa City, Iowa
Emma Malabuyo, Texas Dreams/San Jose, Calif.
Maggie Musselman, Hill’s Gymnastics/Crownsville, Md.
Tienna Nguyen, Zenith Elite/Allen, Texas
Maile O’Keefe, Salcianu Gymnastics/Las Vegas, Nev.
Abby Paulson, Twin City Twisters/Coon Rapids, Minn.
Gabby Perea, Legacy Elite/Geneva, Ill.
Adriana Popp, Girls Co-op Gymnastics/Easton, Pa.
Grace Quinn, Texas Dreams/Arlington, Texas
Madison Rau, World Champions Centre/Cypress, Texas
Alyona Shchennikova, TIGAR/Evergreen, Colo.
Caitlin Smith, Paramount Elite/Valley Village, Calif.
Ragan Smith, Texas Dreams/Lewisville, Texas
Deanne Soza, Arete Gymnastics/Orem, Utah
Tori Tatum, Twin City Twisters/Chanhassen, Minn.
Trinity Thomas,Prestige Gymnastics/York, Pa.
Abigail Walker,Texas Dreams/Carrollton, Texas