Floor Finalists – Start List, Qualification Scores and Videos, Predictions.


The Women’s World Championships will wrap up tomorrow with the Floor Finals. How this week has flown! You can watch them live here. Event finals start at 8:30am EST.

Here is the start list (the order they will compete in):

170 FERRARI Vanessa ITA
179 MURAKAMI Mai JPN
229 BILES Simone USA
204 IORDACHE Larisa Andreea ROU
218 STEINGRUBER Giulia SUI
205 IZBASA Sandra Raluca ROU
232 ROSS Kyla USA
110 BLACK Elsabeth CAN

This is how they qualified into finals:

  1. BILES Simone USA 6.500 (D) + 8.533 (E) = 15.033 Q
  2. IZBASA Sandra Raluca ROU 6.200 (D) + 8.533(E) = 14.733 Q
  3. IORDACHE Larisa Andreea ROU 6.100 (D) + 8.400(E) = 14.500 Q
  4. FERRARI Vanessa ITA 6.300 (D) + 8.200(E) = 14.500 Q
  5. MURAKAMI Mai JPN 6.300 (D) + 8.166(E) = 14.466 Q
  6. ROSS Kyla USA 5.700 (D) + 8.633(E) = 14.333 Q
  7. STEINGRUBER Giulia SUI 6.100  (D) +8.033(E) – 0.1 = 14.033 Q
  8. BLACK Elsabeth CAN 5.800 (D) + 8.200(E) = 14.000 Q

My Predictions

I think that all of the gymnasts performed well in qualifications. I don’t think there is someone in the field that can do significantly better than they did, and I think the top girls are all pretty solid competitors. So I am actually going to go with the order that they qualified in.

  1. Simone Biles
  2. Sandra Izbasa
  3. Larisa Iordache

BILES Simone USA 6.500 (D) + 8.533 (E) = 15.033 Q

IZBASA Sandra Raluca ROU 6.200 (D) + 8.533(E) = 14.733 Q

IORDACHE Larisa Andreea ROU 6.100 (D) + 8.400(E) = 14.500 Q

FERRARI Vanessa ITA 6.300 (D) + 8.200(E) = 14.500 Q

MURAKAMI Mai JPN 6.300 (D) + 8.166(E) = 14.466 Q

ROSS Kyla USA 5.700 (D) + 8.633(E) = 14.333 Q

STEINGRUBER Giulia SUI 6.100  (D) +8.033(E) – 0.1 = 14.033 Q

BLACK Elsabeth CAN 5.800 (D) + 8.200(E) = 14.000 Q

Kyla Ross Soars to Silver


The Uneven Bars Final was packed with talented girls and difficult routines. Unlike the vault finals, a number of different outcomes seemed likely. In fact, the only thing I got right on my bars predictions was Kyla Ross in silver.

Gymnastics Coaching tweeted: “looks like I’m going to be eating my words. … I’m the guy who said Kyla couldn’t medal on Bars.” And then I remember that I was of the same opinion earlier this year. I couldn’t be happier to be wrong. And I need to remember to wait til closer to competitions to form those opinions! Especially because Simone Biles almost medaled in bars!

The Final started off with Yao Jinnan. This title was hers to win or lose. If she hit, it was unlikely that anyone could beat her. But as has so often been the case with the Chinese in finals, she fell. Granted, the skill she fell on is crazy hard. But she has hit it again and again. It was so disappointing. She held herself together well until the finals were over, when she burst into tears.

Huang Huidan was up next, and put up an excellent routine. One Chinese coach has said in the past, if one of us falls, we all must fall. She seemed to break that tradition by staying on the bar and hitting a clean routine.

After her came Rebecca Downie. With high swinging bars and an innovative routine, Rebecca is a crowd pleaser. However, she too succumbed to the pressure of a World Championship Finals and fell off at the end of her routine.

Sophie Scheder followed with a clean, beautifully swung routine. She has such great lines on bars! She is a pleasure to watch, but was not able to challenge for the top spots.

Simone Biles came up next. I am still getting used to the fact that Simone qualified for a bars final. And she lived up to the spot, hitting her routine!

Kyla Ross followed Simone, putting up her ever consistent, ever beautiful bar routine. She bested everyone except Huang. Going into the last two gymnasts, could it be that America would go two, three; that Simone would medal on bars?

Not if Aliya Mustafina had anything to say about it. Aliya threw her heart into it. It was enough to overtake Simone, but not Kyla and Huang.

Last up was Ruby Harrold. Ruby has an innovative, interesting routine! She performed it well, but it was not enough to change the medal standings.

In the end it was Huang, Kyla and Aliya. Kyla and Simone both talked to the press in the mixed zone about being pleased with what they did and how they needed to go back and rest up for tomorrow.

McKayla is Not Impressed. She is Delighted!


McKayla was not impressed on the podium, she was delighted. At the end of an exciting vault final, where McKayla was really challenged by others, she seemed to drink in the experience while the anthem played. Her eyes sparkled as she smiled a deep smile of contentment and a little giggle.

This was a great vault final, opening up with two beautifully executed, stuck vaults from Giulia Steingruber from Sweden. These were the same two vaults Alicia Sacramone won her world title with.

Next up Yamilet Pena survived another handspring double front attempt. She did not however, get it to her feet. It is a bit of a mystery. She always looks so upset that she didn’t make it, as if she really thought she had it. Yet we rarely actually see her make it. She falls on her second vault as well. Not a happy camper.

Oksana Chusovitina completes two clean vaults with some not so clean landings. But seriously, the fact that she is still competing and making finals is just mind boggling. Phan Thi Ha Thanh followed her with a fall and near knee injury. After her was Chantysh Netteb who fell on her vault and did injure her knee. Her vault was super high and clean, so this was surprising, and so sad.

Then the competition heated up with the top three gymnasts all at the end. Simone Biles threw a powerful and clean Amanar apart from her ankle cross. Almost sticks it and then has to take a hop back.

Her second fault was a thing of beauty. Great height and distance with perfect form! This most definitely put up a huge challenge for McKayla.

Next was Hong Un Jong. She had submitted the TTY to be named after her, so speculation was rampant. She hadn’t actually done one in Antwerp, so it seemed unlikely that she would throw it at the finals. If she was going to win gold, she needed to throw it. But she was almost assured a medal if she stuck with her Amanar. And to the relief of American fans everywhere, she stuck with the Amanar. After all, if she competed it, it was not likely to be a great TTY, and it just feels “right” that it should be called a Biles or a Maroney. (Won’t that be interesting if that is determined soley by competition order in prelims next year? How do they decide that?!?). Anyways, Hong did a powerful Amanar with lots of power to spare, but a huge bounding step forward. Not enough to surpass Simone.

And as we all assumed it would, in the end it came down to McKayla. But this year, she had to have two great vaults to win. And that she did. She did a gorgeous Amanar that just barely landed out of bounds.

And a great second vault as well with just a small step to defend her World title.

The American team really has become something special in their bond to each other. A huge hug between McKayla and Simone, lots of laughter and smiles as they walked to the awards podium. What a great pair.

Step One on her four year path to Rio and an Olympic vault medal is complete. And done in the ever impressive Maroney style.

The Empress of Elegance Wins the Longiness Prize for Elegance


Kyla has put a great deal of time and effort into the artistic and dance performance aspects of beam and floor. Not only did this pay off in the scores on these event, but in winning the Longiness Prize for Elegance. This is an incredibly prestigious award that goes to the athlete who demonstrates the most remarkable elegance during the all-around final of an international competition at the world level.  Winning over gymnasts such as Mustafina is quite a feat, and shows just how much Kyla has improved in this area.

In years past, Kyla was always known for her clean lines. But this could not exactly be described as elegance. This past year she has put in a good amount of time with Dominic Zito, a noted choreographer who has worked with many elite gymnasts over the years, working on the artistic aspect of her gymnastics. That plus the experience and poise she has developed in her Olympic experience and the 2 inches she has grown has led to an incredible elegance that was not formerly present in her gymnastics.

And so I am so excited that all her hard work has paid off and that she is being recognized internationally for her elegance. Great job Kyla!

All photos by John Cheng from USA Gymnastics

World Podium Breakdown – Vault


As has been the case since her entry into the senior ranks, McKayla Maroney is the heavy favorite to win the Vault Championship. McKayla is firmly committed to training through the whole quad and making the Rio Olympic team. Wouldn’t it be an incredible feat for her to win Vault gold every year along the way? Though it seems ludicrous in the sport of gymnastics, It is an actual possibility for McKayla. The fluke fall on vault that lead to one of the most popular memes ever, that lead to a hunger and desire to compete four more years may have been one of the best things that ever happened to McKayla- and to gymnastics fans. Because most likely, it WAS a fluke that will not happen again. And as long as she continue in gymnastics, McKayla will grace us with the most incredible vaulting display we are likely to see.

For those of you that have never seen McKayla vault in person, let me assure you that it is one of the most magical things you have ever seen in gymnastics. Cameras just cannot capture the speed and power with which she gracefully barrels down the vault runway. The explosion that is McKayla coming off of the vaulting table. And the way she continues to gain height as she twists through the air. There is nothing else like it.

Simone Biles comes in a close second to McKayla. To look at her, it would seem that she could out power anyone in the world. And she almost can… anyone but McKayla that is. Simone doesn’t get quite the explosion that McKayla gets, but she makes up for it in her catlike landings. Though she has yet to do it in a competition, I have seen her stick two amanars cold in warm ups. Simone will make a definite run for the podium.

Next up as a vault contender is Hong Un Jong from North Korea. Hong Un Jong won the 2008 Olympic gold medal competing the same difficult vaults she will be competing at Worlds. It is amazing to think that she is still capable of that level of competition! She actually comes in with the most difficulty that will be completed. If she is able to compete them cleanly, she will be a front runner

Other contenders are:

Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland

Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan

Ellie Black of Canada

World Podium Breakdown – All Around


Though many exciting players have dropped out due to illness or injury, the 2013 Worlds All Around competition could actually almost live up to the expectations we all had of last year’s Olympic All Around Championships. The USA brings in two very strong all arounders in Simone Biles and Kyla Ross, who have both posted over a 60 all around score this year. Aliya Mustafina comes in healthier and more competitive than she has been since her injury. And Larisa Iordache has a chance to put in the performance that we all wanted to see last year. Any one of them has the ability to take the gold, and great gymnastics is in store.

The top five all around scores that have been posted this year mostly happened at the gymnasts’ perspective Nationals. Simone and Kyla pulled the top two, each scoring a 60.5. Aliya is right behind them with a 59.85. A new name to the all around podium possibilities this year is Giulia Steingruber from Switzerland. She scored a 59.4 at the Swiss Championships in early September. Larissa rounds out the top five of the gymnasts who will be competing at Worlds with a 58.55.

Simone and Kyla both looked great at US Nationals, and each still have a little bit of room for improvement. That is a great place to be going into Worlds. Simone comes in a full point ahead of Kyla in difficulty (D) scores, which usually means that Simone has to falter for Kyla to beat her. However, Simone has not had the most consistent history, and in her first major competition on a world stage, it would not be unheard of for her to do exactly that. Kyla has the advantage of her Olympic experience. She has been there, done that and just seems to get better under pressure. That being said, the USA has seemed to train their gymnasts to be machines on the world stage, and Simone is likely to be as well prepared for a solid competition as the past two years of girls have been.

Aliya also has a solid run at the gold. Reports are that she has had a cold, and isn’t as prepared as she would like to be. But she will be adding difficulty to her bars routine, putting her .5 behind Simone and .5 ahead of Kyla in the difficulty (D) score. It would be wonderful to see the delightful, mature Aliya combine with the fierce, unflappable Aliya of 2010 to grace the world stage. She is such a special gymnast, and seeing her return to an even better version of her former glory would be an incredible delight.

Giulia has dominated the all around in Switzerland for the past three years. However, this is the first year she has posted an all around score high enough to make a run for the podium on a world stage. Rumors are that she looked fantastic at the Swiss Championships. What a wonderful thing it would be to have a Swiss gymnast on the podium!

Last, but most certainly not least is Larissa. Everyone had such high hopes and expectations of her going into the Olympics. Something as common as plantar fasciitis hampered her dreams and our hopes for her. It would be wonderful to see a fully healthy Larissa come out and perform like we were all hoping to see last year.

It is unlikely that we will see anyone out of these top five on the podium. But anything can – and usually does- happen in elite gymnastics. Here is hoping that each of these girls comes into the all around finals healthy, happy and able to perform at their peak level. No matter what the order, that would be a win for all gymnastics fans.

Senior National Champions


With such a small field, we were able to see each and every gymnast compete at this senior national championships. This was such a treat! Here are all the national champions, the best routines on each event, and your new national team. All photos and videos are from USA Gymnastics.

Vault

1. McKayla Maroney

2. Simone Biles

3. MyKayla Skinner

Without a doubt, McKayla’s amanar on day 2 was the highlight of vault. A 9.7 execution score for a 16.0.

Bars

1. Kyla Ross 30.95

2. Simone Biles 28.95

3. Brenna Dowell 28.75

Kyla’s routine the first night scored the highest of the meet, a 15.5. Her bars are just breathtaking.

Beam

1. Kyla Ross 29.95

2. Simone Biles 29.9

3. Kennedy Baker 28.95

Kyla Ross needed a 15.45 to tie Simone in the final routine of the night. A big wobble kept her from it, but she still put up an awesome 15.2.

Floor

1. McKayla Maroney 30.1

2. Simone Biles 30.0

3. MyKayla Skinner 29.75

McKayla Maroney is making the case to be on the world team as a floor specialist as well. Three stuck passes, gorgeous turns and leaps, performed her heart out… THAT was a floor routine. 9.15 execution on floor…

All Around

1. Simone Biles 120.45

2. Kyla Ross 120.25

3. Brenna Dowell 116.55

Your Senior National Team

Simone Biles

Kyla Ross

Brenna Dowell

Peyton Ernst

Maggie Nichols

MyKayla Skinner

Kennedy Baker

Elizabeth Price

McKayla Maroney

Madison Kocian

Lexie Priessman

Aside

I dare you to find an unpointed toe or a bent leg amongst these sparkling juniors. In this group, great form and beautiful performances are the rule and not the exception. Watching this meet felt like watching a senior meet, except with floor routine after floor routine that were delightfully performed. Below are the results and a video of the top scoring routine from the two nights. And at the bottom are our new Junior National Team members! All photos and videos are from USA Gymnastics (Photos by John Cheng and Geoff Bolte).

Vault
1. Ariana Agrapides 30.750
2. Nia Dennis 30.200
2. Vanasia Bradley 30.200
The top scoring vault was a delightful vault by Ariana on day 2. She scored a 9.6 execution score (15.4) with a vault that was most definitely one of the highlights of the entire competition.
Bars
1. Amelia Hundley 28.55
2. Lauren Hernandez 28.45
3. Polina Shchennikova 28.3
The top scoring bar routine of either night was Veronica Hults, who scored a 14.65 on day 2.
Beam
1. Bailie Key 30.9
2. Norah Flatley 29.96
3. Laurie Hernandez, Alexis Vasquez 29.4
The top scoring beam routine was Bailie Key’s routine on day 2, scoring a whopping 15.5.
Floor
1. Bailie Key 29.75
2. Laurie Hernandez 29.1
3. Amelia Hundley 29.0
Bailie Key scored a 14.8 on day 1 and Laurie Hernandez scored the same on day 2. So here are both delightful routines.
All Around
1. Bailie Key 118.55
2. Laurie Hernandez 116.65
3. Amelia Hundley 113.75

Your New Junior National Team

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The top eight all-arounders were named to the Junior National team. It is not uncommon for Marta to add more.

Bailie Key

Lauren Hernandez

Amelia Hundley

Nia Dennis

Norah Flatley

Veronica Hults

Alyssa Baumann

Polina Shchennikova

Junior National Champions

P&G U.S. National Championships Uneven Bars Contenders


In this group of gymnasts, Kyla Ross will most likely run away with the Uneven Bars National Title. She is the only one with a high level of difficulty paired with excellent execution. Elizabeth Price, Simone Biles and Brenna Dowell all come in with enough difficulty to make the podium, their ability to execute well will definitely decide whether or not they make it. Peyton Ernst, Madison Kocian and Abigail Millet all swing bars with beauty, grace and excellent execution. Lexie Priess has a good mix between the two. Silver and Bronze are definitely up for grabs!

(Sc= Secret Classic, GRU= Germany, Russian USA Friendly meet, ATT= AT&T American Cup)

Kyla Ross (GRU 15.45; 1st SC – 15.4)

Elizabeth Price  (Glasglow 14.966)

Simone Biles  (1st ATT 14.8)

Peyton Ernst (2nd GRU – 14.7)

Madison Kocian (2nd SC 14.45)

Abigail Milliet (3rd SC – 14.4)

Lexie Priessman (4th T SC – 14.35)

Brenna Dowell – Lots of possibility.

Breaking Down the 2013 World Championships (Plus US Team Predictions)


28905_412775208813763_658985593_nNow that the 2013 Elite season is firmly underway in the US, many are asking questions about the end goal of the season – the World Championships. Here is the breakdown for you.

The 2013 Artistic Gymnastics Championships will be held in Antwerp Belgium. They will begin on September 30th with an Opening Ceremony. Men’s and Women’s qualifications will take place from the 30th to October 2. Men’s All-Around finals will be on the 3rd, Women’s on the 4th and then Event Finals will be help on the 5th and 6th.

The year after an Olympics, there is no Team Finals competition at the World Championship. Each country may bring four gymnasts, and two per country may qualify for each final. The top 24 all-around scores will go to the All-Around Finals and the top eight will move on to each Event Final.

Most countries will be looking to bring the combination of gymnasts who will win the most individual medals. After each meet, I like to take stock and say, if I had to name a team today from the US, who would it be. So lets take a look at the possibilities in the US. All scores from below are taken from Uncle Tim’s awesome post.

All-Around

Kyla Ross -By John Cheng

Simone Biles and Kyla Ross have pulled the top two all-around scores this year. Simone scored a 60.4 at the City of Jesolo (the highest all-around score in so far in the world during 2013) and Kyla scored a 59.3 at the GER-ROU-USA Friendly Meet. Close behind are Katelyn Ohashi with a 51.199 at the American Cup and Elizabeth Price with a 59.165. If either of them are healthy enough to return before the selection camp, they could definitely play into the picture. Especially if Simone does not show consistency and the ability to hit when it counts at Nationals.

Simone Biles -By John Cheng

However, in addition to being a top all-arounder, Simone has put up some of the highest scores in the world on Vault and Floor. She is second only to McKayla on Vault and to Ksenia Afanasyeva on floor. This makes bringing her especially appealing as she has the ability to take home three medals. Lexie Priessman did not compete all-around at the Secret Classics. Her performances earlier this year looked a little lackluster, but she is the reigning US National Champion. And her performance on the events she DID do in Chicago showed only good things to come. So we shouldn’t count her out quite yet.

Event Specialists

Vault

McKayla Maroney has put up the highest score on Vault this year at the Secret US Classic, and seems a very likely candidate to be brought along for an event specialist medal. MyKayla Skinner will be working hard to overtake McKayla as she actually has more difficulty. However, she will need to make some major improvements in execution for that to happen.

Uneven Bars

Kyla Ross has the most potential to make the Uneven Bars final, and has actually put up the second highest bar score in the world this year (a 15.4 at the Friendly meet compared to Aliya Mustafina’s 15.5 at the Russian Nationals -though Aliya was doing a watered down version of her previous routine). Katelyn Ohashi is in the top 6 as well.

Balance Beam

Katelyn Ohashi has a monster beam routine, and has put up the top score in the world for beam so far. She scored a 15.8 at the Woga Classic to Larissa Iordache’s 15.65 at Anadia. Simone and Kyla rank in the top ten, but are unlikely to be up to the podium level unless Kyla brings a lot of upgrades (she watered down her routine at Classics).

Floor

Simone put up the second highest floor score in the world with a 14.9 in Jesolo behind Ksenia Afanasyeva’s 15.166 at the European Championships. Just behind her is Lexie Priessman with a 14.8 at the Secret Classic. 

So what does all that mean?!?

At the current state of competition readiness and health, Marta would most likely send Kyla Ross (AA, UB), Simone Biles (AA?, V, FX), McKayla Maroney (V, Fx?) and Lexie Priessman (Fx, AA?). If Katelyn comes back healthy and ready to compete, she could definitely take one of those slots (FX, BB, UB?). Though there are a number of other talented girls that could come into the mix (Peyton Ernst, Brenna Dowell, Abigail Milliet, MyKayla Skinner, and Elizabeth Price) all of them would have to put up higher all-around scores or a much higher event score than they have currently.

P&G US National Championships will shed more light on the team selection. But as there is likely to be another selection camp in September after Nationals, it definitely won’t tell the final story!