Through a fun twitter discussion, I realized that I have a formula for picking my Olympic team. It seems very obvious to me, but just in case Martha isn’t aware, I will spell it out.
The Big Three: Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman. Enough said.
The Bar Specialist: Replace Aly Raisman’s bar score. Kyla Ross is the most consistent. Then Rebecca Bross. Then Bridget Sloan. Anna Li currently has the most potential for the highest score. Then there is the wildcard Nastia Liukin. Basically, it will depend on who performs best for podium training and the two days of trials. Right now, Ross has proven herself. Everyone else will have to prove that they can consistently score higher (or much higher) than Ross
The Fifth Spot: If you choose Sloan, Li, or Ross, you need a beamer. This means Finnegan or ASac. If you choose Ross or Liukin then you just need the person who adds the most tenths to ANY area. Maroney on vault. Anna Li on bars. ASac on vault and beam. Finnegan on beam and floor. In that order. Also weighing in is Douglas’ consistency on floor and beam, and if we will need a score to replace hers. Or maybe a second bars specialist to replace Wieber. It will all come down to the math -averages and highs.
Now that we are all blue in the face with proclaiming our teams, the Olympic Trials need to arrive already so we can sanely go back to our normal lives. But really, who wants to?
It has been only eight months since Alicia Sacramone tore her achilles tendon on floor, just days before prelims at the 2011 World Championships. It didn’t seem possible that someone could come back so quickly, but if anyone can do it, it’s Sacramone. She doesn’t sugar coat the process, saying again and again that she worked incredibly hard to make it back. And make it she has.
Sacramone competed on vault and bars at the 2012 Visa National Championships prelims. She came back looking like she always does: powerful, confident and reliable. Her vaults weren’t quite at the world champion level they were before her injury, but they are very close. She did the most solid beam routine of the competition, wowing the crowd with her aggressive, fluid style on beam. She also added a sheep jump – and a very nice one at that!
Sacramone knows that to make the team, she has to bring even more. She hopes to add her connections back in and hit her vaults perfectly. She is also trying to upgrade her vault for Olympic Trials. She reportedly was going to do an upgraded vault in vault finals at the World Championships last year before she was injured. She is contemplating bringing floor back for Trials as well. She says she has the skills but just is not quite yet able to put them all together.
Sacramone is an incredibly talented athlete and an inspiring personality. She speaks her mind and always gives authentic, candid interviews, making her a well loved gymnast. Here are some of her routines and interview from Prelims.
What a night! After last year’s disastrous prelims, I wasn’t sure what tonight would bring. What it brought was a real competition. Things are heating up in the USA and these girls mean business. Make it easier on the selection committee? No thank you.
Let’s Start At the End
Gone are the days of Jordyn Wieber’s easy wins. Jordyn had a decent vault and a solid bar routine, but wobbled quite a bit on beam. Gabby had an awesome bars set, and put up mostly solid performances on the other events. It came down to the last routine where Jordyn needed over a 15.25 to win. She went out and hit a solid floor routine. The announcer announced the end of night and people began to file out while the rest of us sat with baited breath waiting for the score. And they TIED! I don’t know why it shocked me so much, but it did. What a finish. Gabby and Jordyn both had decent nights, but they both can do better. Things are getting interesting.
Things that make you go Hmmm…
Nastia did a bar routine. Her swing is still there. It is still beautiful. But she didn’t do a dismount and it was definitely not a “hit” routine. Then she went and nailed beam. Hmmm…
Rebecca Bross hit a GREAT bar routine! Looked just like her old self. She went to beam, looked strong and agressive, and then sat down her dismount. Again. She has not made that dismount in competition in over a year. Hmmm…
Our Amanar factory seems to have a hold on production. Jordyn and McKayla seem to be the only ones who consistently land their amanar well. And most of the girls are scoring in the mid/low 15.0’s. Not much higher than they would with a DTY with a lot more risk. Hmmmm….
Well, there is the obvious Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman (who finished third). Then there’s Alicia Sacramone. What injury? She looks just like she always did, and came back with an awesome vault and the most solid beam routine of the night. Elizabeth Price quietly came out and did her job with little fanfare. But she definitely made her bid.
Douglas on bars. Maroney on vault. Raisman on floor. Nuff said. But can you really ever say enough about those awesome pieces of gymnastics? Sarah Finnegan on beam. WOW. She came out and hit her skills. It was a delight to watch. In my opinion, she does the wolf turn better than anyone has ever done it.
Some of My Favorites
I loved seeing Sacramone go out and nail it. I loved Sarah Finnegan’s floor routine. And her beam routine. I loved Jordyn’s floor routine and waiting for the score. I loved watching Bridget compete again. I loved watching Nastia do bars. I loved the energy in the arena.
1. Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich., 60.650
1. Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va., 60.650
3. Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass., 60.200
4. Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 59.750
5. Elizabeth Price, Coopersburg, Pa., 59.600
6. Sarah Finnegan, St. Louis, Mo., 59.150
7. McKayla Maroney, Long Beach, Calif., 58.700
8. Kennedy Baker, Flower Mound, Texas, 58.050
1. McKayla Maroney, Long Beach, Calif., 15.925
2. Alicia Sacramone, Winchester, Mass., 15.025
3. Brandie Jay, Ft Collins, Colo., 14.750
1. Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 15.500
2. Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va., 15.450
3. Rebecca Bross, Plano, Texas, 15.200
4. Anna Li, Aurora, Ill., 15.150
5. Bridget Sloan, Pittsboro, Ind., 15.100
6. Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich., 15.050
1. Sarah Finnegan, St. Louis, Mo., 15.350
2. Alicia Sacramone, Winchester, Mass., 15.200
2. Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass., 15.200
4. Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 15.100
4. Nastia Liukin, Parker, Texas, 15.100
6. Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va., 14.800
1. Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass., 15.450
2. Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich., 15.250
3. Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va., 15.050
4. Sarah Finnegan, St. Louis, Mo., 14.800
5. McKayla Maroney, Long Beach, Calif., 14.600
6. Elizabeth Price, Coopersburg, Pa., 14.550
There is nothing secret about the Secret US Classic (so named for it’s sponsor). Plenty of bloggers are on site, Gym Examiner is giving live updates, USA Gymnastics and Gymnastike are posting podium training videos and the seniors will be live-streamed and broadcast on Universal Sports. It’s enough to make a gymnastics fan do cartwheels of joy! As we gear up for the competition tomorrow, here are the rumors and things we can expect from the U.S. Secret Classic.
All Around Competitors
After so many gymnasts announcing that they would just be doing a few events, I began to despair about the all around for this meet. But it is looking like it might e a great competition after all. In fact, it might give us a preview of that coveted second all around spot for the Olympic team. Gabby Douglas is apparently doing the all around after all according to an article in the Des Moines Register. Aly Raisman will be competing all around, as will Kyla Ross and Anna Li. Chellsie Memmel still has to qualify to nationals so she will be competing all-around as well. Many others may join in the fray, but we will have to wait and see. Either way, it should be be a great competition!
According to camp videos and podium training videos, we have upgrades galore – and not surprisingly most of them are on bars. Anna Li, Brandie Jay, McKenzie Wofford and Wieber all have upgrades on bars from the last time we have seen them. Sabrina Vega has upgrades on beam, McKayla Maroney has upgraded her second vault and has minor upgrades other places.
Despite a US reputation, we might be in for a real treat on floor. Sarah Finnegan is absolutely delightful to watch on floor – her poise and style are light, elegant and refreshing to see. Anna Li will be debuting her new routine as well. Is it a floor routine or a heart pulling, dramatic and breathtaking dance piece? I am not sure! It is incredible though and a treat to watch. And of course we will be treated to the beautiful lines of Nastia Liukin as she returns to competition on beam and Kyla Ross.
We will finally see a few more pieces toward completing the puzzle of our US Olympic team. It should be a great weekend!
Continuing my series of our Olympic Contenders, here is Alicia Sacramone.
I will admit it. Alicia is my favorite gymnast. She wasn’t always. I was enamored like everyone else with Shawn and Nastia in 2008. But since her comeback, I have come to respect and enjoy her so much. She is such a mature, inspiring, fun person. And her gymnastics is so fun to watch! Her vault is sky high. Her beam is so dynamic. And her new floor routine is one of my all time favorites! It has passion, beauty, great expression of the music and of course, power!
Alicia had such an incredible 2011 year. She was in the best shape of her life. I have never seen her look as good as she did in podium training for worlds. And then…. she tore her achilles tendon two days before prelims. My heart broke! Now she is on the long road of trying to rehab what used to be a career ending injury.
I think Alicia has to upgrade on vault if she is to make the team. Even though Alicia is a world class vaulter, all of our alll-arounders can currently match or come very close to her score. Though her beam is steady and sharp, we have a handful of gymnasts that can fill the bill on beam. It was looking a little ify on if she was going to get her floor down and I wonder if it is worth it for her to train that with her achilles. Alicia is an incredible team leader and brings so much personality to USA gymnastics. But with only five on a team, I just can’t envision her making the team unless she brings in the highest valued USA vault. She was going to debut her handspring laid-out double twist at the 2011 Worlds. So I am really hoping that she can not only come back to her former strength in the short time she has, but to be able to compete that vault as well!
You dont see a lot of successful comebacks in women’s gymnastics. Once someone leaves the sport, it is incredibly difficult to make it back. Especially after they have left the teenage years behind. I have been struck with just how hard comebacks are in recent interviews with Nastia and Shawn. The ever positive girls all sound a bit frustrated, a bit tired. There is a reason not many women make comebacks to gymnastics in their 20s. It is HARD.
Here is a compilation of some recent interviews:
Some people say that these girls have had their time, its time to let the next generation of gymnasts take over. After all, look at 2011 Worlds. A team full of rookies dominated. They looked like the most calm, collected, seasoned veterans out there. They hit routine after routine. We don’t need the veterans to win. And I agree. I think that we can win without them. But I think that we can win with them as well! And there is something else they bring that should not be underestimated. Maturity.
The maturity that Alicia, Nastia, Shawn and Chelsie bring to gymnastics is so good for the sport. These young women are incredible role models and they are so inspiring. They inspire ME! And if I had a daughter in gymnastics, they are the people I would want her to look up to. I love watch interviews with our older girls. They bring depth and personality to their interviews learned from years of being in the spotlight. And there is just something beautiful about their gymnastics. It is seasoned. Mature. Their movement is more graceful, more “full.” Look at the difference between ALL of their artistry and dance from their teenage years to now. I would so much rather watch their current routines. And I hope that I get to see Jordyn, Aly and many of the others as mature gymnasts in the future as well! Creating a normalcy of older gymnasts in the US would do nothing but improve the sport in my opinion.
I, for one, am really hoping that our olympic team is a blend of young and mature. Of superstar young girls and seasoned veterans. Only time will tell if any of them can make it back in time AND stay injury free in our incredibly demanding selection process. But I am rooting for them!