Simone Biles Looks to the Future


Simone Biles had a historic competition at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, China. She took home gold medals in the all-around, beam and floor individual events as well as the team gold with her U.S. teammates. Additionally she won the vault silver medal. Biles was the first U.S. woman to win back-to-back World all-around titles in almost twenty years, since Shannon Miller accomplished the feat in 1993-94. She overtook Miller in the most world championship gold medals by winning six in the last two years to Millers five. Biles also became the first U.S. woman to win four gold medals at a single world championships.

Biles may very well be one of those once in a life-time gymnasts. She achieved these results by competing some of the hardest gymnastics skills with clean execution (the gymnastics basics: straight legs, pointed toes, correct body positions and stuck landings). And she did it with so much energy and power, it is easy to see that she has a lot of room to do even more. While most gymnasts look to be at the very edge of their abilities, Biles soars through the air with room and energy to spare.

Biles will resume full time training, with a slower pace and some time to work on new skills.”I am taking training a little bit easier right now and will learn a few new skills on a few events” said Biles in a media phone interview. Though she may not really need to continue adding to her difficulty score (she led the all-around competition in difficulty) she has not yet reached her limits by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, her shoulder injury earlier in the year caused her to have to downgrade bars from last year. After the world championships, coach Aimee Boorman mentioned in a tweet that now that her shoulder is healed, Biles will be looking to upgrade her second vault to a Cheng. In the interview this morning, Biles confirmed that she will be working toward the Cheng. She also shared that since her Amanar vault is so consistent, Marta Karolyi has encouraged her to try for the triple-twisting yurchenko. If successful, Biles would be the first woman in history to compete this vault.

As for other upgrades, Biles said she would also be looking to get bars back to her former level of difficulty by adding the shaposh half back in. She said she also might work the double-double layout on floor, a pass competed by only three other female gymnasts on the international elite level. And though she had phenomenal success this year, she was only able to hit beam like she does in training in event finals. Biles said she plans on addressing that in her training plan as well.

After leaving her longtime gym earlier in the year with Boorman, Biles trained for a while at another local gym. Now, they are training in a temporary location while the gym that her parents are building is completed. It is supposed to be completed in May or June of next year. For now, she is content to be training somewhere they can call World Champions Centre. “In the beginning they kept telling me they were going to start building [and it wouldn’t happen]… but I am busy training. I don’t really pay attention to the details, it’s not my business.” Running a gym is not something she sees in her future, and is something she is happy to leave to her parents.

What she does see in her future is college gymnastics. Earlier this year, Biles committed to UCLA, and she is firmly committed to maintaining her NCAA eligibility. Though she will put all of her energy and training into shooting for the 2016 Olympics, she currently does not have plans to go pro. “My parents have talked about it a little bit but haven’t pushed me. They are letting it be my decision.” Biles acknowledged that things might change in the future, but for now that is her direction.

With Biles’ power, energy, determination and team of supporters, it seems that for her the sky is the limit. Literally.

Simone Biles Refuses to be Lonely on Top


In 2014, Simone Biles is without a doubt the most dominant gymnast in the world. She does some of the most difficult gymnastics with such ease, it is hard to comprehend just how incredible it really is. She defies the normal “rules” on floor, ending her routine with a pass that many gymnasts start with, and doing it with so much bounce to spare that you honestly wonder how many flips and twists it will take to nail those feet to the ground.

But Biles is not one to follow the rules. Most gymnasts present a serious demeanor on the floor, not watching other competitors routines and zoning in on what they have to do. Though there is nothing wrong with that, it’s just not her style.

Biles is all smiles and energy on the competition podium right up until she starts her event and again immediately as her feet touch the floor for her dismount. Except floor, where the sincere grin just never stops. Between routines she can be found chatting with other teammates, cheering on fellow competitors and laughing with her coach.

Simone Biles videobombs Kyla Ross's interview with USA Gymnastics.

Simone Biles videobombs Kyla Ross’s interview with USA Gymnastics.

 

They say that it is lonely at the top. But that is just not something Biles is willing to accept. Though she is serious about her gymnastics, and can immediately get into her zone when she needs to be, it is obvious that she values her teammates and her relationships with them more than anything else out on the floor. She is the first one to congratulate a fellow competitor on their routines, and it is unlikely that any gymnast mounts an event that Biles has not cheered on. She is known by all for her infectious smile and tackling other gymnasts with her bear hugs. McKayla Maroney says of Biles, “It’s impossible not to love her.”

Her twitter feed reads like a memoir to all the people she loves and can’t live without.

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So though Biles is miles ahead of her competitors when it comes down to the score, she is determined to walk the Road to Rio step by step and arm in arm with her U.S. teammates. This bouncy bundle of joy is changing all the rules about how to compete gymnastics. And giving many people in the world a lesson on how to live life.

 

Jazzy Foberg – The Real Deal


In March of 2013, Jazmyn Foberg (Jazzy as she is affectionately known) made a decision that would change the entire trajectory of her life. She started training with Maggie Haney at MG Elite. And now she finds herself topping the junior division scoreboard as she heads into the second day of competition for the P&G U.S. National Championships.

Jazmyn Foberg of MG Elite at the P&G National Championships. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnastics.

Her meteoric rise from not even qualifying for nationals last year to topping the leaderboard this year is quite rare in the sport of gymnastics. But her success is not a surprise to coach Haney. “What excites me the most about Jazzy is how fast she is progressing. She has improved so much in the past year; it’s actually amazing. She is a totally different gymnast now then she was one year ago. If she continues to improve at this rate; the sky is the limit for her!”

In this case, words like improved don’t even begin to capture the monumental progress Foberg has made. Last year at the Secret U.S. Classics, she placed 26th and missed out on qualifying for nationals. Her teammates Laurie Hernandez and Ari Agrapides went on to phenomenal success at nationals, where Hernandez took the all-around silver and Agrapides won the national vault title in the junior division. “I think it was very good for Jazzy to see Laurie & Ari have such successes last year. I think that Jazzy became very motivated after watching them go to camp after camp and even watching Laurie have International assignments. I feel like this was like dangling a carrot in front of Jazzy. It motivated her and this is what she wants and is willing to work towards,” said Haney.

Foberg’s hard work began to pay off earlier in 2014, where she won the all-around and the uneven bars at the 2014 Buckeye Elite Qualifer. She continued to gain speed at the American Classic in Huntsville, Texas where she won the all-around, vault and bars. Then there was the 2014 Secret U.S. Classic. Oh what a difference a year can make.

After a great showing at the national training camp, Foberg was one of the junior gymnasts selected to compete in the senior session. Foberg took the early lead in the competition, and as a result was featured twice in the NBC broadcast. For a junior elite gymnast, that is some pretty heady stuff. But Foberg took it all in stride. As it seems she always does. Haney said of Foberg, “I would describe Jazzy as a very “chill” kid. She is level headed and I never have any surprises with her. Inside the gym, Jazzy is extremely focused and very good at making corrections and feeling what she is doing.” Foberg went on to place 5th in the all-around at Classics.

Jazmyn Foberg, featured on the live broadcast of the 2014 Secret U.S. Classics as a junior.

Foberg came into nationals looking confident and ready to compete. Nia Dennis leads the junior field in difficulty, and has generally been considered the favorite to win after strong international performances earlier in the year. Right behind Dennis has been Norah Flatley, Chow’s latest star who has excellent execution and a stellar beam routine. And then there is Jordan Chiles, who took everyone by surprise winning the Secret U.S. Classic earlier this month. Foberg came into the meet with the second highest difficulty planned, and a strong desire to follow in the footsteps of her teammates and stand on that medal podium.

She started out the first day of competition with a strong double twisting Yurchenko that scored a 14.6. This gave her the early lead after rotation one, a position she only relinquished for one rotation the rest of the day. Moving into her strongest event, Foberg put up the second highest bar score of the competition; but a strong vault from Dennis pushed her into second half way through the meet.

With her two strongest events behind her, Foberg was going to need to put up solid routines and mistakes from the other girls to regain the lead. And that is just what she got. Dennis performed a beautiful bar routine, but fell on her dismount. Flatley had a shocking fall on beam, but still scored a 14.4 with her incredible routine. Foberg remained focused despite all the falls around her and hit a solid beam routine, putting her back in the lead. A lead she was able to hold onto in the last rotation as Dennis had a second fall.

“I would like Jazzy to be remembered as a calm & consistent competitor. Jazzy is really a great kid and I don’t think she should be underestimated,” said Haney. Done and done. As many of the juniors succumbed to nerves, Foberg continued to develop her reputation as a calm and consistent competitor. Adding this to the beautiful lines MG Elite is becoming known for, Foberg has proven that she is the real deal. “She had already far exceeded my expectations for this year; so now I know what she is capable of… I have already raised my goals and expectations for her. The plan is to make her a master on bars. So hopefully she will be remembered as a great bar worker who does a lot of releases!”

Whether or not Foberg is able to hold onto her lead tomorrow in the second day of competition, it is clear that she has legitimately come into her own as one of the juniors to watch on the Road to Rio. Her strong all-around abilities, cool and consistent performance personality, and her great bar work  firmly ingrain her into the mix of gymnasts who are strong contenders for 2016.

Jazzy Foberg 2013 Secret U.S. Classics

Jazzy Foberg 2014 P&G National Championships

Nastia Liukin Cup Sr AA Champion Routines


Mackenzie Brannen and McKenna Kelley tied for first with a 38.425. Here is a little more about them and each of their routines.

Mackenzie Brannan
Mackenzie is 17 years old and trains at Capital Gymnastics in Austin, TX. Her biggest accomplishments have been competing at the U.S. Championships four times, the Nastia Liukin Cup three times and winning the National Floor title in 2013. She is also proud to ce competing for the University of Alabama next year. The biggest thing gymnastics has taught her is to “Enjoy the journey.”

Vault – 9.750

Bars – 9.700

Beam – 9.500

Floor – 9.475

McKenna Kelley
McKenna is a 16 year old and trains at Stars Gymnastics in Houston, TX. She won this event 30 years after her mom, Mary Lou Retton won the American Cup. McKenna placed fifth at the 2013 J.O. Nationals, and is verbally committed with LSU for 2015. Her goals are to finish strong the rest of the season and go out with a bang my senior year. She’d also like to leave a mark in the NCAA. McKenna says “Gymnastics has taught me … I can overcome anything if I put my mind to it…”

Vault – 9.750

Bars – 9.350

Beam – 9.650

Floor – 9.675