The Top 8 All Around Finalists – Score and Video Round Up


Here are your top 8 All Around Finalists. They will be competing Friday, at 2pm EST. You can watch here Live. If you haven’t seen all of their performances, each score is linked to a video of their performance. (McKayla Maroney will not be competing due to the two per country rule). Also, for a taste of what’s to come, check out this playlist (or watch it below) of each of the top five gymnast’s qualifications performances back to back in Olympic order.

Rk Name NOC Total Vault UB Beam Floor
1 BILES Simone USA
60.133
15.900 14.800 14.400 15.033
2 ROSS Kyla USA
59.198
15.166 15.133 14.566 14.333
3 YAO Jinnan CHN
57.965
14.766 15.433 14.100 13.666
4 IORDACHE Larisa Andreea ROU
57.865
14.933 13.166 15.266 14.500
5 MUSTAFINA Aliya RUS
57.165
14.966 14.900 14.133 13.166
6 MARONEY Mc Kayla USA
57.149
15.850 14.300 12.666 14.333
7 SHANG Chunsong CHN
56.998
13.966 14.400 14.866 13.766
8 FERRARI Vanessa ITA
56.915
14.366 13.833 14.216 14.500
9 STEINGRUBER Giulia SUI
56.465
15.366 13.233 13.833 14.033

McKayla Maroney – the Princess of Poise


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Photo by John Cheng

McKayla has gone through so much in the past year, it truly is quite amazing that she is not only at Worlds, but has improved since last year. Three surgeries, media frenzy, meme fame and a changed life. She has made no bones that she has some unfinished business called doing her best at the Olympic vault finals. So between now and then, she will give gymnastics her all.

Though vaulting is what she shines at, she really wants to be an all-arounder. And floor is her favorite event. So it was incredibly meaningful for her to be able to compete all around in the qualifications. She didn’t have her most spectacular day, but she did really well.

She started her day out on floor. She had a number of small bobbles on her landings and her leaps weren’t quite all the way split. But it was really a great routine. Many on the gymternet felt like she was really underscored here.

After seeing her INCREDIBLE vault in podium training, this amanar was anticlimactic. But it was a normal, amazing vault from McKayla.

Her second vault however, was one of her better ones.

McKayla is not known for her bars. But this was most definitely one of the best bar routines she has ever done!

On the other hand, this beam routine was most definitely not her best. Getting into the swing of competing beam again often takes some time.

As always, the highlight of the day was McKayla’s interview. Such poise, so much authenticity, and so much grace. i fall more in love with this girl every interview.

She only qualified into the vault finals, being another victim of the 2 per country rule on both floor (where she tied with Kyla Ross but the tie was broken with Kyla’s higher E score) and the all around (where she placed 5th in the world).

Simone Biles – The Queen of Springs


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Photo by John Cheng

Simone Biles is USA’s Queen of Springs. I really think there are springs in her legs! The way she tumbles is just amazing. She is doing some of the hardest floor passes in the world and yet it seems like she is just getting started. She does these high flying skills that should take everything she’s got and instead she has power to spare. And she punches off the beam like she is tumbling on the floor.

Simone has such a sweet personality, and the joy of gymnastics just shines through everything she does. I used to coach a gymnast who would be barrelling down the vault runway and just break into a huge grin. Every single time. She just loved it so much. Simone does that as well. You can tell her smiles on floor are as more from her love of doing what she is doing than putting on a performance.

Simone had an incredible day of qualifications. She just hit everywhere! She started out on bars, where she earned a higher execution score than even Aliya Mustafina!

6.000 (D) + 8.800 (E) = 14.800

Simones presentation and poise on beam has improved so very much this year.  She really hit her skills with precision and attacked the beam.

6.100 (D) + 8.300 (E) = 14.400

Simone completely rocked floor. Her tumbling passes were sky high and mostly stuck. She performed her little hear out and was a joy to watch on floor.

6.500 (D) + 8.533 (E) = 15.033

Simone gave McKayla a run for her money on vault! She put up two awesome vaults.

You can tell she is just having the time of her life. Love the quote “Actually, I was telling Brenna [Dowell] before I was getting ready to march out, Martha [Karolyi] scares me more than the judges, so I saw the judges and I was fine!”

Simone is going into the All Around finals as the leader of the pack. She also qualified for every event finals. She is the first American to do that since Shannon Miller!

Kyla Ross – The Empress of Elegance


by John Cheng, USAG

Kyla Ross has gone from the Queen of Clean to the Empress of Elegance. Last year, I was always so impressed with her beautiful lines and lightness of movement. But her gymnastics didn’t keep my attention. It didn’t inspire me. No longer. Kyla now commands my attention on every event.

The change is not only in her incredibly improved expression, artistry and dance on floor and beam. Her experience in Olympic competition, the media frenzy, fame and the incredible bond of her team has given her a poise, a presence, a confidence that shows in everything she does. From her interviews to her height, her bright red lipstick to her beautiful routines, Kyla has grown up.

Kyla stepped out onto the floor today in a beautiful red leo with red lipstick to match. She looked gorgeous. And fierce! She was raring to go, always the first one off from the line-up to prepare for the event.

She did a beautiful DTY, but not the best she can do. She had a much bigger hop on her landing than normal, but it is still quite a gorgeous vault.

5.800 (D) +9.366 (E)  = 15.166

Kyla’s has such a light and airy swing and competes bars with a calmness that is almost peaceful to watch. She is a little short on a few of her handstands, but other than that, it was a great routine. Stuck landing and all.

6.400 (D) + 8.733 (E) =15.133

Kyla competes beam like she is dancing in the clouds. Every movement is done with a lightness and a preciseness that just makes it look like she is floating. This was a great routine. She missed one of her connections and had the tiniest of wobbles. But this is a routine I will watch a few times.

5.900 (D) +8.666 (E) = 14.566

I really am falling in love with this floor routine. The choreography is beautiful, playing with little nuances and hits in the music and really expressing the music well. And Kyla is performing it so well. She has great musicality, expressiveness and of course, execution. This is undoubtedly the best floor routine she has ever done. And a stick on her last pass to boot!

5.700 (E) + 8.633 (D) = 14.333

And perhaps where she has grown the most is her ability to interview. She is delightful, humble, authentic and just fun to hear from.

What a great start from our Empress of Elegance!

And Then There Was Drama


We have been wondering for many months if it would be a three way race in the USA for the top two coveted all around finals spots at the World Championships, or if Marta would put up two all-arounders and give two others the opportunity to qualify for event finals. She had said after US Nationals that she would be happy to go with the three all-arounder scenario and then take an alternate, but time would tell.

When the selection committee selected Brenna Dowell as the fourth member of the World Championship team, it was a little unclear as to what path they were taking. If Brenna perfectly hit her new bar routine, she might have an opportunity to make it to the bar event finals. But Brenna makes more sense as an all around alternate than as an event specialist. Peyton Ernst seemed to have more potential to make it into the beam finals than Brenna did to make it into the bars finals. So the selection of Brenna gave us our first clue that Marta might still be on the three all-arounders path. However, all official standings showed McKayla Maroney competing vault and floor and Brenna competing bars and beam.

Until yesterday. As podium training began, it became obvious that a shift had been made. International Gymnastics reported it first that McKayla Maroney would be competing the all around and Brenna would be an alternate. Read the full interview here. “All three have looked like All-around medal contenders in the training sessions we’ve observed here in Antwerp, but only two will be able to advance to All-around Finals due to the Worlds rules. So, one of the greatest battles during Prelims could be the battle among the three Americans for the two coveted Finals spots.”

Yes, we went from predictable to high drama. Isn’t it the American way? It must be mentioned how hard it must be for Brenna Dowell. And I agree. To come all the way to Antwerp and end up not competing is heart-breaking.  There have been many cries around the gymternet of how unfair it is because she has worked so hard. And I agree, it must be a heartbreaking experience. But I must admit. I think McKayla has worked incredibly hard for this opportunity as well.

Without a doubt, McKayla is the most popular, well spoken, sought out of the Fierce Five. She must have turned down so many opportunities to return to training. She went through three surgeries, an incredible media frenzy and still seemed to return to training better than ever, upgrading on floor and improving astronomically on beam and bars. Here McKayla talks about how very much she loves the sport.

Simone Biles comes in with the most difficulty at a 25.1. That is almost a point ahead of McKayla (24.2) and Kyla (24.0).  The real test here will be in consistency and in execution. Simone’s career is short, and not one yet that you can identify a pattern. However, US Nationals day 1 is the only time she has yet put 4 for 4 together. She has looked incredible in podium training, and with the proven results of Marta’s training camps, there is no solid reason to believe that she won’t come out and hit routine after routine. That being said, there is nothing that compares to the Olympic experience of McKayla and Kyla.

If Simone hits all her routines in prelims, McKayla and Kyla, best friends since they were little girls, will be battling it out for the second all around finals spot. McKayla comes in atleast .2 ahead in difficulty, but will most likely lose out more on beam and bars. On the other hand, Kyla cannot compete with McKayla on vault and floor. In the end, it will come down to stuck landings, legs together, and pointed toes. This will be a competition where every tenth counts.

All in all, I do believe it will be a race for the two all around spots (which I STILL disagree with as much as I EVER have!). Simone is looking AMAZING and if she hits, she will claim one of the two American spots. McKayla and Kyla will come down to sticks, form and a little bit of luck to see who makes it into the finals. They come into this competition with the lowest start values of all of the all around competitors, but the highest consistency and execution of all of the competitors

It is ironic, because often the controversy about difficulty vs execution is often about American vs European. But this year, the best execution but lowest difficulty will come from one, if not two of the American’s. The drama has begun to see who will make the top two..

McKayla Maroney Podium Training


McKayla Maroney is doing all around on the world stage! Marta had said this was the route she might go, but it is really exciting to see McKayla finally have this opportunity. She has worked so hard for it this year.

We have seen the 2012 team Olympic vault replayed so many times. Could this one even be better? I know the 10.0 in execution seems to be gone forever. But come on people! Award this kind of brilliance!

Bars is not McKayla’s strength. But she does have a nice swing, and this is the tightest form, most well executed routine I have seen her do.

She fell on one routine and stuck another, This seems to be a compilation of the two.

All pictures and videos by USA Gymnastics

She shimmies and shakes and and swoons with the best of them. And this vaulter can tumble. Really impressed with both the upgrades and the consistency of McKayla’s floor.

McKayla has, in my opinion, become one of the best interviewees in the sport of gymnastics EVER. Well, okay, maybe equal to Alicia Sacramone. But she always has authentic, heartfelt, interesting, non-trained things to say.

Simone Biles Podium Training


Ramping up the competition, Simone Biles also looked great in podium training.

Simone has so much power, she is great to watch on vault. In her first vault, she took a much bigger step than usual, but the second vault had her normal catlike landing.

No problem on bars, clean with a stuck dismount.

This might be one of the best beam routines I have seen Simone do. She is attacking the beam in Rebecca Bross style, and just hits. And her landing on a very tough dismount is just awesome!

Some people have said that Simone’s floor routine was one of the few things to get a spontaneous round of applause from the audience. It isn’t hard to see why. Smiles galore, sassy dance, hit leaps and jumps and the best landings I have seen in podium training. This girl is on fire!

Cute girl! She is just soaking it all in, loving the experience and having fun. Just what you want to see in a first senior outing. No nerves here.

All photos and videos by USA Gymnastics

Kyla Ross Podium Training


Kyla looked beautiful in podium training, as always. She has one of the most beautiful DTY being performed with just the slightest of little slides of her landing.

Her bars today weren’t quite as effortless and fluid as usual. In Gymnastike’s Beyond the Routine with Kyla done just before World’s Selection camp, Kyla was having a little trouble on bars and actually said that it was her hardest event. Should we be concerned? Nah. Kyla has been the most consistent bar’s performer of all the gymnasts going for the bar’s title. I am sure that she will put up the same beautiful routine she always does.

Kyla’s beam looked like always- like she is dancing in the clouds. So light and effortless. A small wobble and a bigger step than normal on her dismount. But she looks great.

Every time I watch this routine, I just CANNOT believe how far she has come in her performance this year. This routine is interesting, beautiful, has great musicality and expression of the music. In all honesty, I love it. I never thought I would say that. I LOVE Kyla Ross on floor. She needs to clean up her landings to save on those precious points. But it is as likely for her to stick her first two/three passes as not.

The highlight. Who would have thought that shy little Kyla could become so incredibly comfortable, herself, and fun in front of the camera. Love this girl.

All photos and videos 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.