Kyla Ross Pushes Through Injury


Podium training today held an unusual sight, that of Kyla Ross all taped up. Though Ross has battled some back injuries this year, she is not a gymnast you usually see with a lot of tape on her body. Not so today. “I’m kind of held together by tape right now,” Ross said in an interview with Inside Gymnastics. “The last few days at the ranch, I think I kind of overstretched it doing a few leaps. It’s my hip, groin and hamstring – that whole area.”

Kyla Ross on floor during podium training. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnastics

A few of Ross’ leaps on beam looked a little tentative, not hitting her normal full split. Despite the injury, she looks more polished and precise than she has all year on beam. She did a great floor routine, dynamic and poised, however without her upgrade of a whip to double arabian from earlier in the season. Vault was not her normal clean DTY, however Inside Gymnastics reported that she hadn’t been training vault much throughout the week. She did a beautiful bars set, but with some small form issues. All in all she did four clean, solid routines. If they weren’t up to the normal Kyla Ross standard, they were definitely within reach.

Ross has been working hard to shine at these championships and doesn’t want to let the injury get in the way.  “I have the motivation knowing that I’ve been training really hard all this year,” said Ross. “I really want to come out and compete, give it my all and I don’t want anything to stop me.” She will no doubt give it her all in qualifications, and with two more days of training and healing she will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with.

Ross comes into these championships as the defending silver medalist in the all-around, on beam and on bars. She will be looking to defend her all-around title and top the podium with teammate Simone Biles in the all-around. Always consistent on beam, she has a great chance of making finals on that event and trying to win a beam medal. However on bars, she has had to downgrade her routine this year due to her back injury, and topping teammates Ashton Locklear and Madison Kocian will be no easy feat to make it into bars finals.

Here are her routines from Podium Training.

 

 

USA Women are Persistent About Being Consistent


Six serious faces took on the World Podium today as the U.S. Women’s team made their first official foray into the 2014 World Championships. After a week of training and acclimating in Nanning, China, the U.S. women seemed ready for business during today’s podium training. And as has become the norm, they hit routine after routine on event after event.

In 2011, the U.S. women’s program began a new era of dominance in consistency. Podium training, qualifications, team finals, all-around finals, and event finals look pretty much the same. Hit routine after hit routine. Compete, hit, repeat. Of course, there have been a few exceptions, but for the most part, gone are the nail-biting days of wondering if a gymnast is going to fall. Because, they just don’t. Aristotle has said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not an act, but a habit.” Martha Karolyi and the rest of the U.S. coaching staff have hit the sweet spot of making a habit of excellence, peaking their gymnasts at just the right time to hit every time on the world stage.

The 2014 U.S. women’s World Championship team contains a number of gymnasts – five of the seven- who have not competed at a world championship level before. Every one of them has competed at an international meet at least once, but in the world of USA gymnastics, many of these girls are virtually untested. Most USA gymnasts begin competing internationally as juniors, and by the time they hit the senior ranks, they have had a number of international meets under their belt.

But you would never have known it from podium training. Each gymnast went out and did what they are trained to do. Hit their routine. There were a few bobbles here and there but only one miss, a fall on beam from Ashton Locklear. Every other routine looked like it was coming from a veteran competitor, and Locklear looked fabulous on bars, the event USA is counting on her for.

Veteran competitors Kyla Ross and Simone Biles have been helping the girls who are newer to the international stage. “I feel like I have helped them quite a bit, me and Kyla have led them through the ropes, and if they are having a down day we know what to say because we have been there.” said Biles in an interview with USA Gymnastics. And though it seems only yesterday that Ross was team baby, she has in fact firmly held the role of team leader the last two years.

Simone Biles keeping things light hearted during podium training. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnatics

And speaking of the team, after a year off from the team competition at last year’s championships,  Biles and Ross  are excited to compete with the team. “Having the girls’ support and being able to support everyone else is really fun,” said Ross. And though Biles is defending her World All-Around Champion title, she is here to win a team gold. “Winning a team gold would mean everything to me because I am a team person so I think that would be a lot of fun to do. Last year was individuals so you had to just do it on your own, but this year is team so you can  do it together and just be proud of everyone.” When asked about her individual aspirations, the bubbly teenager cast them aside. “I don’t think I am very pressured, but a lot of people are pressuring me into being the world champion again, but I just throw it out of my head and think of it as a normal competition.”

The women begin their bid for the medal podiums Saturday, October 4th at 6am EST. USA gymnastics will be livestreaming the qualification rounds for USA, Russia, China and Romania/Great Britain. They will also livestream the team, all-around and event finals in conjunction with Universal Sports. Check out the schedule to make sure you don’t miss any of the action. All livestreams, as well as individual US routines will also be archived on the USA youtube channel, where you can already watch a replay of podium training.

U.S. Women’s team poses at podium training. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnatics

 

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

The Beam Finalists – Start List, Qualification Scores and Videos, Predictions


Tomorrow we see Beam Finals! You can watch here. Event finals start at 8:30am EST.

Beam has definitely been up and down, with some brilliant routines and many falls. Hopefully tomorrow will be everyone’s best. But in a beam final, that is rare. Larisa Iordache leads the pack in difficulty, and will be keen to prove herself after an uncharacteristic fall in the all around on her best event. Kyla Ross will be hoping that her excellent execution will get her on the podium and Shang Chunsong will be trying to repeat her qualifications performance.

Here is the start list:

  • 211 MUSTAFINA Aliya RUS
  • 171 FERLITO Carlotta ITA
  • 170 FERRARI Vanessa ITA
  • 119 SHANG Chunsong CHN
  • 229 BILES Simone USA
  • 232 ROSS Kyla USA
  • 204 IORDACHE Larisa Andreea ROU
  • 210 RODIONOVA Anna RUS

The women qualified in this order:

  1. IORDACHE Larisa Andreea ROU 15.266 Q
  2. SHANG Chunsong CHN 14.866 Q
  3. ROSS Kyla USA 14.566 Q
  4. RODIONOVA Anna RUS 14.466 Q
  5. BILES Simone USA 14.400 Q
  6. FERRARI Vanessa ITA 14.216 Q
  7. FERLITO Carlotta ITA 14.216 Q
  8. MUSTAFINA Aliya RUS 14.133 Q

Beam is a precarious event to compete on and to predict. But I will give it a shot just for fun. It is after all, my favorite event.

  1. Larisa Iordache
  2. Kyla Ross
  3. Anna Rodionova

I think Larisa will fight back and take her best event. She really is the beam queen. I think Kyla’s consistency and execution will win out over everyone else. With so many Chinese falls, I am not willing to bet on Shang this go around. Bronze really could go to anyone, but I am going to go with Anna just because her beam is so wonderful to watch.

1 204 IORDACHE Larisa Andreea ROU 6.400 (D) + 8.866 (E) = 15.266 

2 119 SHANG Chunsong CHN 6.100( D) + 8.766 (E) = 14.866 Q

3 232 ROSS Kyla USA 5.900 (D)  8.666 (E) =14.566 Q

4 210 RODIONOVA Anna RUS 5.900 (D) + 8.566 (E) = 14.466 Q

5 229 BILES Simone USA 6.100 (D) + 8.300 (E) = 14.400 Q

6 170 FERRARI Vanessa ITA 5.700 (D) + 8.516 (E) = 14.216 Q

7 171 FERLITO Carlotta ITA 6.200 (D) + 8.016 (E) = 14.216 Q

8 211 MUSTAFINA Aliya RUS 6.000 (D) + 8.133 (E) = 14.133 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 Bars Finalists – Start List, Predictions, Qualifications Scores and Video Roundup


Here are your 2013 World Uneven Bars Finalists. They will compete in the Saturday morning event finals session, starting at 8:30am. You can watch it here.

The gymnasts will compete in this order:

  1. 118 YAO Jinnan CHN
  2. 121 HUANG Huidan CHN
  3. 145 DOWNIE Rebecca GBR
  4. 150 SCHEDER Sophie GER
  5. 229 BILES Simone USA
  6. 232 ROSS Kyla USA
  7. 211 MUSTAFINA Aliya RUS
  8. 148 HARROLD Ruby GBR

The qualified in this order:

  1. YAO Jinnan CHN 15.433
  2. ROSS Kyla USA 15.133
  3. HUANG Huidan CHN 15.133
  4. DOWNIE Rebecca GBR 15.100
  5. MUSTAFINA Aliya RUS 14.900
  6. BILES Simone USA 14.800
  7. HARROLD Ruby GBR 14.600
  8. SCHEDER Sophie GER 14.566

My predictions for the podium….

  1. Aliya Mustafina
  2. Kyla Ross
  3. Rebecca Downie

The Chinese are without a doubt the leaders. But I just have a feeling they will both fall. I hope not!!! I think Aliya will pull an Aliya… come out super fierce for finals. But this one is pretty wide open. If Yao Jinnan hits, she will win it.

Here were their routines in qualifications:

1 YAO Jinnan CHN 6.700 (D) +  8.733 (E) = 15.433 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM2FniCtrys
2 ROSS Kyla USA 6.400 (D) +  8.733 (E) =  8.733 15.133 

3 HUANG Huidan CHN 6.600 (D) +  8.533 (E) =  15.133 

4 DOWNIE Rebecca GBR 6.600 (D) +  8.500 (E) =  15.100

5 MUSTAFINA Aliya RUS 6.200 (D) +  8.700 (E) =  14.900 

6 BILES Simone USA 6.000 (D) +  8.800 (E) =  14.800 

7 HARROLD Ruby GBR 6.300 (D) +  8.300 (E) = 14.600 

8 SCHEDER Sophie GER 6.400 (D) +  8.166 (E) =  14.566

The Vault Finalists – Start List, Predictions, Qualification Video and Score Round up


Tomorrow (Saturday October 5) are the first two event finals of the World Championships. You can watch live in the US here starting at 8:30am EST.

The 2013 WAG World Championship vault finalists in the order they will compete (start list) are:

  1. 218 STEINGRUBER Giulia SUI
  2. 133 PENA ABREU Yamilet DOM
  3. 233 CHUSOVITINA Oksana UZB
  4. 238 PHAN Thi Ha Thanh VIE
  5. 191 NETTEB Chantysha NED
  6. 229 BILES Simone USA
  7. 200 HONG Un Jong PRK
  8. 231 MARONEY Mc Kayla USA

Their qualification scores were:

  1. McKayla Maroney USA 15.641
  2. Simone Biles USA 15.550
  3. Hong Un Jong PRK 15.249
  4. Phan Thi Ha Thanh VIE 14.966
  5. Giulia Steingruber SUI 14.799
  6. Oksana Chosovitina UZB 14.750
  7. Yamilet Pena DOM 14.683
  8. Chantysha Netteb NED 14.516

The general predictions (and I agree) for this event finals are pretty easy. The top three will finish the same way they qualified:

  1. McKayla Maroney USA
  2. Simone Biles USA
  3. Hong Un Jong PRK

The plot twist will be an possible half twist. Hong Un Jong has submitted a Triple Twisting Yurchenko to be named after her. If she is able to add a half twist to her amanar and stay on her feet, she will undoubtedly win. We have yet to see her do the vault, but anything can happen in a World Championship Final!

Check out each of their qualification vaults!

McKayla Maroney USA 15.641 
6.300 (D) + 9.550 (E) = 15.850

6.000 (D) + 9.433  (E) = 15.433

Simone Biles USA 15.550
6.300 (D) + 9.600 (E) = 15.900

5.600 (D) + 9.600 (E) = 15.200

Hong Un Jong PRK 15.249
6.300 (D) + 9.333 (E) = 15.633
6.400 (D) + 8.566 (E) – 0.1 = 14.866

Phan Thi Ha Thanh VIE 14.966
5.800 (D) + 9.066 (E) =  14.866
6.200 (D) + 8.866 (E) = 15.066

Giulia Steingruber SUI 14.799
6.200 (D) + 9.166 (E) = 15.366
5.000 (D) + 9.233 (E) = 14.233

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCM9MLHo4OQ

Oksana Chosovitina UZB 14.750
6.200 (D) + 8.800 (E) = 15.000
5.500 (D) + 9.100 (E) 0.1 = 14.500

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcwJ7OJlxKE

Yamilet Pena DOM 14.683
1 7.000 (D) + 7.900 (E) =  14.900
2 5.800 (D) + 8.666 (E) = 14.466



Chantysha Netteb NED 14.516
5.800 (D) + 9.133 (E) – 0.1 = 14.833
5.200 (D) +9.000 (E) = 14.200

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

Kyla Ross Sparkles in Silver


Kyla Ross joins the distinguished company of gymnasts Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, Jana Bieger and Rebecca Bross as World Championships All Around Silver medalists. Kyla put in an incredible all around performance, counting only small, tiny mistakes in her performance.

Kyla has put a great deal of time and effort into her 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.

Kyla started off the competition with an almost flawlessly executed vault. She didn’t stick it, but it hardly gets better than this. She has a lower difficulty vault than only Simone, but scored the highest execution score of the competition.

She moved on to bars where she once again scored higher than anyone else on the execution score, and posted the third highest bars score of the competition. It was a beautiful, typical Kyla, bar set.

Kyla moved into beam just barely trailing Simone. Simone put up a good set, but not her best. Then two gymnasts before her fell. I was glad to see Kyla turning away from it all, not watching! Kyla went up and did a beautiful beam routine, earning her third consecutive highest E score of the competition, and the highest beam score of the night.

Kyla pulled into the lead heading into floor. She did a beautiful floor routine with an E score beat only by simone. However her difficulty led her to the 7th highest floor score of the night, and ultimately to the silver.

Kyla, like Simone showed incredible sportsmanship and from this unemotional girl, you could really see that she was just enjoying the experience. She was all smiles. What an incredible, consistent all around performance she put on! WHEN she upgrades back to her amanar, she will undoubtedly be in the hunt for the gold.

Kyla Ross has moved from the event specialist to solid USA All Arounder in her second senior year. She has moved from the youngest to the team leader. She is an incredible friend, incredible cheer leader, and incredible gymnast. It is hard not to be impressed with her.

All Photos by John Cheng and Videos by USA Gymnastics