Jesolo – The first look at Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman


This years’ City of Jesolo Trophy competition may prove to be one of the most exciting in this annual meet’s history. The presence of two time World Champion Simone Biles, Olympic and World Champion Kyla Ross, and the returning 2012 Olympic Champions Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman brings quite the impressive roster to this meet.

Gymnastike is on the scene, and providing as many routines as possible from the training sessions in Jesolo, which you can access with a Gymnastike Gold subscription. These videos provide the first look to the question that is on everyone’s mind.

How will Raisman and Douglas look? Is their comeback for real? Can they compete at their former level? And the answer is a RESOUNDING yes. They look like world caliber gymnasts early in their season. They showed solid beam and bars routines, solid double twisting yurchenko on vault, and dance throughs on floor with improved artistry. There is no more room to doubt that their comeback is for real. Here are the details on their training session.

Gabby Douglas

Douglas did a double twisting yurchenko in both days of training. It is solid and powerful, but has some form issues in the air, a bit pikey coming down and some landing deductions. That being said, it is a solid vault.

On bars, there were a few issues in each routine shown, but overall it is a great bar routine. Not quite as much high flying action as in 2012, but great releases and combinations. The routine: Piked stalder full (struggled at the top on day 2 of training but hit it nicely day 1)+ piked Tkatchev + Pak (struggled with the connection on day 1 but had a great day 2), piked stalder + piked stalder half+ Endo half + Chow, dismounted with a double layout.

On beam, Douglas looked steady and confident. She hit her skills well and traveled through the routine at a nice pace. Her leaps and jumps all hit full splits and showed her former agility. The routine: Stoop mount, front pike, back handspring stepout + layout stepout, standing full, switch ring leap, front tuck, full turn, switch split + switch split half, front aerial + sissone  + split jump, back handspring stepout + back handspring back tuck (timer dismount).

Douglas brings a brand new floor presence, showing definite improvement in artistry and musicality. She did a two pass routine showing off her new routine with a Memmel turn, double arabian (added a stag jump in tumbling training), switch ring leap + split leap 3/2, a double L turn (a bit rough the first day, beautiful the second) and a Ferrari. She ended with a double back.

Aly Raisman

Raisman also did a double twisting yurchenko in both days of training. She had a little bit of leg form the first day which looked better the second day. But she had a lot of power, solid landings and overall looks great on vault.

Raisman has said that she still feels the sting of not getting an all-around medal at the Olympics. In this comeback she is definitely making a bid to be an all-around contender and is working hard on improving her bars. She had some form breaks and missed a cast handstand, but she seems to have a little better form here- feet together, toes pointed more, greater extension in her swing. The routine: Mount, Maloney + straddle Tkatchev, hop blind + straddle Jaeger, stalder, overshoot to handstand, toe full, Ray, toe 1/2, tuck double front dismount.

On beam, Raisman brought her steady, methodical routine that makes her so dependable on this apparatus. Everything was solid and powerful. She had a few small form issues, but looked clean and controlled. She also brought in a lot of new connections! The routine: Leap mount, pike front + wolf, backhandspring + layout to two feet (feet slightly apart in air) + split jump, switch leap 1/1, aerial, switch leap + switch half (really missed 180 on this) + back tuck, front tuck + sissone, 1/1L turn +1/1 turn, roundoff double back (timer dismount).

Dancing with the Stars taught Raisman more grace and it shows in her new floor routine. A great mix of graceful arm waving and her Jewish folk music along with her always powerful tumbling. The routine: 3/2 twist through to double arabian (added a front tuck in tumbling), switch full + split jump (missed hitting her splits in both jumps), double layout!, switch ring leap + split leap 3/2, full turn.

Overall, the two look just as they should at this point in the year. Some clean up work to be done, some more skills to be added, but confident, fit and ready to compete.

The Latest on Gabby Douglas


Gabby Douglas after winning the all-around final in London. Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty

It would seem that Gabby Douglas has settled in to train at Buckeye Gymnastics in Powell, Ohio in her bid to defend her Olympic title at the 2016 Olympics. With the recent coaching changes, Douglas has pushed back her timeline to return to competition and will not compete in the P&G National Championships later this month. Nor will she petition to the World Team selection camp this fall, focusing on 2015 instead.

Kittia Carpenter is the girls’ team director at Buckeye Gymnastics, Gabby’s new gym. In an interview with USA Today Carpenter said, “She wants to come back looking as strong as she left and she didn’t feel she’s quite there yet.”

In addition to regaining her former skills, Douglas will need to update her routines and combinations to be consistent with the new Code of Points, which changes after each Olympics. And in order to be competitive, she will need to continue to increase her difficulty (start) values. Carpenter said she wants to add new skills on uneven bars and floor exercise to boost her start values.

Douglas assured the Associated Press earlier in the month, “I’m committed to Rio, I’m not going to let anything get in the way of that.” Carpenter echoed her belief in Douglas’ determination to make a run at the 2016 Olympics. “She’s training 30 hours a week, and is limiting her commercial and appearance commitments to one day a week.”

Marta Karolyi shared her opinions with USA Today on the matter saying, “Time will tell. I’m not crazy about lots of changes. I like stability and I know from my times when I was directing coaching gymnasts, I liked to develop a relationship with my gymnast. It takes time to develop those kinds of relationships.”

Karolyi is hopeful but cautious about the future. “I really hope — she is very talented and I was surprised at how well she came back after a big break. Physically, she was very fit. My wish is that she will be consistent in her training. And if that’s what she will do, I think she will be fine. But if she jumps up and down and left and right, it will be much harder.”

Liang Chow, Douglas’ former coach expressed sadness at her departure earlier in the month, but has been supportive of her decision to find new coaching. He commented on the situation to the Des Moines Register saying, “I’ve been coaching the sport for a number of years. And I went through many athletes. Some athletes stay with your program for a long, long period of time. Some athletes, they have a different approach as far as coaching style or your philosophies. I totally respect their own opinions — they have the right to choose their own coach.”

He went on to express his best wishes for her, “Of course, when you work together day in and day out, you’re going to miss her. I want her next chapter to be a successful one.”

Chow reiterated those sentiments on Friday after podium training at the Secret U.S. Classics. “I wish them the best of luck. We all have to move on. She has her dreams to achieve and I have my duties to perform.”

With so many people in her court rooting for her success, hopefully moving on and achieving her dreams of Rio is exactly what she will do.

 

Aly Raisman Pushing Back her Comeback


Aly Raisman has been shooting for a return to competition at the 2014 Secret Classics since her return to training last fall. She had taken a full year off from training after the Olympics and has been back in the gym for about seven months, working on a return to gymnastics. In the past, she has said that getting back into training the full number of hours she needs to train to return to her previous level of competitiveness has been her biggest challenge.

Aly Raisman at Best of the US with Johnny Weir. Photo by Aly Raisman (twitter)

And though she has been trying to meet that challenge head on, the wisdom of her coaches has been to take it slow. A pow wow between Martha Karolyi, her coaches Mihai and Silvia Brestyan has led to a decision to wait until 2015 for a comeback to competition.  According to NBC, Raisman said at the Best of U.S. Awards on Wednesday, Martha and Mihai and Silvia Brestyan, my coaches, they all decided just to wait and to take it slow and to not rush. My goals are more 2015 and 2016.”

Her next step toward that goal will now be focusing on readiness to attend a national team training camp after the 2014 World Championships. Many of the gymnasts have said over the years that the training camps and Karolyi can be more intimidating than the judges and big competitions. Raisman seems to echo that sentiment. “It’ll be my first time being at training camp in over two years, so I think it’ll be [Karolyi’s] way of really watching me,So I’ll be really nervous, but I’m working really hard so she can see the improvement.”

aly-raisman

Aly Raisman at the premiere of Bachelorette in Los Angeles Image Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Raisman has been adamant since winning her Olympic medals in 2012 that she wanted to continue to compete and planned to stay in the sport for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Many gymnasts have found the path to returning to the commitment of intense training in the midst of fame and opportunities after winning an Olympic medal to be a difficult one. Raisman is no different, but seems to continue to press ahead with her goal, if more slowly than her fans would like.

 

Lingering Impressions from Secret Classics


After so many months of waiting and wondering, the first of the big three meets to determine our 2012 Olympic team has come and gone. After marinating for a few days, here are my lingering impressions from the 2012 Secret Classics.

Some things are like riding a bike. Once you learn, you never forget (even if you are a little rusty.) 

Such was the case with Nastia Liukin. She was nervous during podium training and looked unsure before she mounted the podium for the beam. I thought, “Sigh, this is gonna be rough.” But the green flag went up and you SAW the change. She transformed in that moment. Nastia prepared to mount the beam with a look in her eyes that said “This, I know how to do.” It was a gymnastics moment I won’t soon forget. She went on to compete a solid, respectable beam routine. Oh, one that just happened to tie as the third highest score. Yes, I continue to have faith in her comeback.

Aly just keeps getting back on each event, each performance with the same consistency. She has learned how to hit. And she just keeps hitting.

Gymnasts CAN have floor routines that give me chills.

I LOVED Anna Li’s dance through. It literally gave me chills. No matter where this venture takes her, I will always be grateful that she gave us that beautiful floor routine. And Sarah Finnegan. WOW. The girl is more breathtaking on floor every time she goes out there. I love her routine and love that she can get in so much difficulty with only three passes. Pass on the boring double back, thank you very much. These two moments were such highlights for me.

Things that have become commonplace that should continue to wow me.

Maroney on vault. Wieber on beam. Douglas on bars. Raisman on beam and floor. These are spectacular performances that should draw praise again and again. But we have become so used to them they often go unmentioned. They were as beautiful to watch as ever. Once again, I am grateful to be in a time where the USA has amazing depth and so very many talented gymnasts.