USA Gymnastics announced the women’s artistic gymnastic team representing the US at the upcoming Pacific Rims Gymnastic Championships on the heels of the City of Jesolo Trophy meet. Martha Karolyi and the rest of the selection committee used the results from the meet to make their final selection for the upcoming championships in Richmond, B.C., Canada, April 9-11.
The team is made up of three seniors and three juniors, following the format of the competition. USA Gymnastics is sending USA’s best. This team is full of champions, including seniors Simone Biles, the reigning World all-around champion, Kyla Ross, the reigning 2013 World silver medalist and 2012 Olympic team gold medalist and Elizabeth Price, 2014 AT&T American Cup champion and four time World Cup aa champion. Rounding out the team are juniors Bailie Key, reigning US junior national champion, Nia Dennis, and Norah Flatley who all showed strong performances at the City of Jesolo Trophy meet last weekend, sweeping the medal podium.
The team will begin podium training on Monday, April 7th, preparing for the first day of competition on Wednesday, April 9th against 15 other countries from around the Pacific Rim. The USA will compete in the draw with Canada, China, Hong Kong and Panama at 7 p.m. PT for the team and all-around competitions. Juniors advancing on to event finals will compete on Friday, April 11th at 6 p.m. and seniors will compete on Saturday, April 12th at 2:30 p.m. The full schedule includes men’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline gymnastics.
Coming off of a great performance at the AT&T American Cup, Brenna Dowell and Elizabeth Price look to the future. They are both committed to collegiate gymnastics and were slated to begin competing NCAA this fall. With a great showing at the American Cup, they are both strong contenders for the 2014 World Championship team. But will they still be competing elite in the fall to even make a go of it?
Price is committed to Stanford. In January, she told Allie of Double Double Gym Blog that she had not yet decided if she would defer her scholarship until 2015.
Stanford was one of my top choices for college ever since I started looking at schools, and I knew gymnasts that went there who told me great things about the school, so I knew a lot about Stanford even before I went to visit. I decided to go there because I felt that Stanford is a great academic institution with a great gymnastics team. I haven’t decided yet whether or not I’m going to defer until 2015, but I still have time to think about it and make that decision later.
In the interview, Price went on to say that her goals for 2014 were to compete in more international meets, including another World Cup meet. After attaining her goal of competing in another World Cup so soon in the 2014 season, Price seems to have set her sights higher. In a post meet interview after the AT&T American Cup, she told Andrea Joyce of NBC, “I know a lot of great gymnasts have won this competition, so it is great to say that I am one of those girls. Hopefully I can soon say that I have won even bigger meets than this one.”
That being said, Price is not yet ready to make a decision about deferring. In the mixed zone, she told Gymnastike, “I haven’t decided whether I am going this fall or deferring a year or whatever, but I still have a lot of time to make that decision.”
Brenna Dowell is committed to the University of Oklahoma. She talked about her college choice with Arabian Punch Front.
I didn’t want to go too far from home. I wanted it to be driving distance so I visited a few schools that were close. I really like KJ and Lou. They were really nice and they made me feel like they really wanted to me to be on their team. I really liked the atmosphere and, from the people who I know that go there, I heard nothing but good things about it so I’m really excited to go.
Unlike Price, Dowell has made her decision on deferring. Following the American Cup, she told Gymnastike, “I am going to defer this year and try for the 2014 World Team.”
What she hasn’t decided is how long she will defer. According to Arabian Punch Front, her plans are to take it one step at a time. “Long term – I’m just taking it one year at a time and then I’ll decide what to do once it comes around. It’s my senior year this year. I’m going to defer college to try for Worlds this year and then I’ll decide what to do next year. 2016, yeah, I’m not sure yet.”
That seems like a good plan in a sport as precarious as gymnastics and in a country where it is harder to make an World or Olympic team than it is to medal once you are there.
As the 2014 American Cup get’s started, the energy is high and people are excited. At this point in the quadrennium, the tension around winning this event is absent and everyone is having fun.The lights dim, strobe lights fill the arena and we start with a little song and dance.The gymnasts march in and things start to get serious.
As expected, the American’s dominated on vault. Neither Elizabeth Price or Brenna Dowell brought their best vault, but they still shot ahead of the pack with their powerful amanars. Behind them was Giulia Steingruber with a nice rudi (the vault Alicia Sacramone used to do) and Victoria Moors with a DTY. The rest of the field had pretty low start values.
Next up, uneven bars. Brenna Dowell absolutely rocked bars, doing her crazy Tweddle+Ezhova combination better than I have ever seen it. In warm up she had bent legs and crazy form, but she did straight legs and feet together! The crowd went nuts. Carlotta Ferlito and Sophie Scheder both had a really great swinging set of bars. Carlotta had some form breaks and Sophie got a little off in her routine, but they both delivered cleanly. Victoria Moors and Vanessa Ferrari have both improved so much on bars over the years! They had a few little form issues, but got through fairly well. Roxana Popa Nedelcu started off so strongly on bars but then slammed her feet on the mat on her pak (immediately after the little girl behind me said, wow no one has fallen on bars) and then couldn’t recover and had to jump off. Elizabeth flew so high on her release moves, and went clean on her bars with a stick to boot. She increased her lead coming out of the second rotation.
Brenna is first up on beam where she was cleaner than she has been in training. However lots of bobbles and starts and stops and a missed connection left her with only a 13.3. Giulia and Victoria both brought nice, steady routines. Victoria did her full-in dismount and ended with a NCAA style finish! Vanessa, who has looked so strong in warmups did not have her best routine. She did a back tuck in a series that normally is a layout and had a few other mistakes. Elizabeth Price is up next and delivered what was probably her best beam routine I have ever seen her do! She missed a few of her splits, but was rock solid on all her skills and ended with a stick. Carlotta started with a beautiful beam routine, one of the prettiest of the meet. But she falls on one of her combinations.
The top four have been in the exact same order since the first rotation, and even with such a low beam score for Brenna nothing changes. Elizabeth, Brenna, Giulia and Victoria. This line-up is full of great floor workers, so this is a rotation to sit back and enjoy.
Things get started with Carlotta, who looks beautiful on floor. She really gets the crowd going with her clappable music and her enthusiastic performance, She does a graceful, sassy routine. Sophie follows her, with beautiful jumps, leaps and turns, but a fall on her last pass. Next up is Vanessa, who is one of the best in the world on floor. She does a great routine. So wonderful to see her floor routine in person! Roxana flies high in her double layout and then gets what might have been some of the loudest cheers on the night with her whip whip tumbling pass. A very fun routine. Giulia looks so much cleaner to me on floor than at worlds. She does a great routine as well.
Elizabeth is next and does a solid routine. She flies high, has solid landings and hits everything. I like this routine better than her previous one, but she still has some room to grow on the performance and dance side of floor. Brenna has such great tumbling skills and beautiful presentation. She is so beautiful on floor, but has a big hop on her first pass and lands out of bounds on her second pass. However, it is just enough to take second.
And we finish out the night with what I flew across the country for – Victoria Moors on floor. Victoria has quite a pike in her double twisting double layout and lands it out of bounds. But it is awesome to see! The rest of her routine is enchanting, every nuance of music used perfectly. The crowd was actually quiet – mesmerized I think. What a great ending to the meet!
There was a great presentation of medals and of World Cup standings at the end of the meet to wrap up the 2014 AT&T American Cup.
1. Elizabeth Price 59.966
2. Brenna Dowell 57.532
3. Giulia Steingruber 57.332
4. Victoria Moors 56.898
5. Vanessa Ferrari 56.766
6. Roxana Popa 54.865
7. Sophie Scheder 54.331
8. Carlotta Ferlito 53.632
With Simone Biles, Kyla Ross and Larissa Iordache all out of the American Cup due to injury, the all around competition looks to be much more wide open – and much more even than in recent years. Though I am sad not to see these amazing girls compete, it definitely sets us up for a great all around competition.
Elizabeth Price (Ebee) tweeted that they (her and Brenna Dowell) were “Ready to Go.”
Elizabeth Price has won three world cup events in the past two years. Brenna McDowell has yet to be tested on this type of international stage, but she has the goods if she delivers. The two Americans both have the advantage with their awesome Amanars on vault. But the international field is all looking very good and have all been tested on the world stage!
Vanessa Ferrari of Italy just keeps getting better with age. She came in sixth at the 2013 World Championships and has looked good here. Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland was just after her in 7th at Worlds. The next three girls were all packed together at Worlds. Victoria Moors of Canada in10th, Carlotta Ferlito of Italy in 11th and Roxana Popa Nedelcu of Spain in 12th. Rounding out the field is Sophie Scheder of Germany.
Things to watch for:
Victoria Moors on floor! I cannot wait to see this live! Victoria is one of my all time favorite floor workers, and with her double double layout, she will be hard to beat on floor if she lands on her feet. She has also brought in some upgrades on beam. Brenna and Elizabeth on vault. Sophie on bars. Vanessa on floor. Carlotta on beam.
And though I don’t write about men’s much…. you CANNOT miss Fabian Hambuechen on High Bar!
This looks to be a GREAT American Cup competition even without the prominent stars.
And so it begins. It often seems that the roster for the American Cup is a bit of a game of musical chairs. Two years in a row, Kyla Ross finds herself without a chair when the music stops.
The American Cup is at a very awkward point in the elite gymnastics cycle. Many gymnasts are still focusing on skill acquisition for the upcoming year, others are nursing small injuries, saving themselves up for later in the year. Kyla once again finds herself in the later camp with a minor back injury.
Though it doesn’t have huge repercussions in the scheme of things for national and world titles, there is a prestige in winning the American Cup that Kyla keeps missing out on. Last year, Elizabeth Price and Kyla Ross were both replaced as the American representatives at the American Cup due to injury. Now this week, ironically, Elizabeth Price will be replacing Kyla Ross.
For Elizabeth Price, this is a chance to unpress pause on her last year of gymnastics. Ebee, as she is affectionately known, took the World Cup series by storm after the 2012 Olympics, where she was an alternate. She won the Stuattguart and Glasglow World Cup at the end of 2012, and looked to be America’s next big name in gymnastics going into 2013. Then, before the American Cup she injured her hip. She pulled out of the competition to recuperate and be prepared for the bigger competitions later in the year.
Then she injured her other hip later in the spring. Though she gave valiant performances at Nationals, she just wasn’t able to come back soon enough to be in play for the World team. Late 2013, she once again had phenomenal performances at the World Cups. Let’s hope she can truly un-press pause, and have the year in 2014 that we all thought she would have in 2013. Healthy, and a top player in the world of USA gymnastics.
With such a small field, we were able to see each and every gymnast compete at this senior national championships. This was such a treat! Here are all the national champions, the best routines on each event, and your new national team. All photos and videos are from USA Gymnastics.
1. McKayla Maroney
2. Simone Biles
3. MyKayla Skinner
Without a doubt, McKayla’s amanar on day 2 was the highlight of vault. A 9.7 execution score for a 16.0.
1. Kyla Ross 30.95
2. Simone Biles 28.95
3. Brenna Dowell 28.75
Kyla’s routine the first night scored the highest of the meet, a 15.5. Her bars are just breathtaking.
1. Kyla Ross 29.95
2. Simone Biles 29.9
3. Kennedy Baker 28.95
Kyla Ross needed a 15.45 to tie Simone in the final routine of the night. A big wobble kept her from it, but she still put up an awesome 15.2.
1. McKayla Maroney 30.1
2. Simone Biles 30.0
3. MyKayla Skinner 29.75
McKayla Maroney is making the case to be on the world team as a floor specialist as well. Three stuck passes, gorgeous turns and leaps, performed her heart out… THAT was a floor routine. 9.15 execution on floor…
One week ago today the seleciton committee holed themselves up in a room and chose our 2012 US Olympic Gymnastics team. The team and the replacement athletes were introduced with much ceremony and celebration. But did they get it right?
For the most part, I believe they did. This is the team that has risen to the top at every point over the last few months. After each major performance, I have added up the numbers and looked at the mental strength and performances of the main contenders. And though I didn’t expect it, each time these were the girls I chose. They were the most common team on the “gymternet”. In fact, by the second day of competition, they were so widely acknowledged as the likely team that predictions and discussions turned to the alternates instead. But here are a few sticking points.
Elizabeth Price had the meet of her career at the Olympic Trials. In fact, she beat Kyla Ross in the All Around. Many have asked why Kyla was chosen over her. In the end, when you look at the make up of the different teams and the different ways you can mix and match scores, the 5th spot did not need to be a strong all-arounder. Instead, this gymnast needed to be able to score high and contribute on bars and beam in the team finals. Elizabeth is good on bars, but her highest score of the season was a 15.3 on the night of finals. Kyla has been scoring between 15.3 and 15.65 all season. Elizabeth’s weakest event is beam. Kyla is a strong, steady beam worker who has scored between a 14.7 and 15.5 this season. For the hole that needed to be filled, Kyla fit the bill. Elizabeth is a fabulous replacement for vault should she be needed.
Speaking of replacement gymnasts, the biggest argument is if Alicia Sacramone should have been put in over Sarah Finnegan or Anna Li. When it comes down to it, we had to have a replacement athlete for bars. So Anna Li (or Bross or Liukin) had to go as replacements. Alicia obviously doesn’t fill this spot. I actually would have put her in over Sarah Finnegan. Sarah has still not had a meet without a lot of scary wobbles on beam. I would much rather have Alicia as a replacement for beam, and think that with four strong floor workers already on the team, as well as Elizabeth as a possible floor replacement, that Alicia was a stronger choice. However, in my previous article I noted that Sarah has a much higher start value, and her high scores and potential high scores are higher than Alicia. So I can understand the committee’s decision, even though it broke my heart not to see Alicia go.
All in all, I do think the selection committee got it right! What about you?
As the men’s team was trying to keep the crowd amped up, chanting USA and doing the wave, Steve Penny walked out onto the floor. The moment everyone had been waiting for was at hand. The announcement of our US Women’s Olympic Team. At the same time he was walking out onto the floor, 14 girls were crowded into a room, waiting to hear their fate. Aly Raisman said in an interview with Gymnastike that Martha cried a bit and said it was a really hard decision for her, then got on with naming the team.
Gabby Douglas. Jordyn Wieber. Aly Raisman. McKayla Maroney. Kyla Ross.
Out on the floor, Steve Penny got to it much faster. He announced the names in rapid fire, one after the other. The girls were regrouping, trying to absorb the incredible news that the dream they had worked their whole lives for was coming true. With tears streaming down most of their faces, they grabbed their flowers and ran out onto the floor.
Then the alternates were called. Sarah Finnegan. Anna Li. Elizabeth Price. They bounded out onto the floor, joining the rest of the team. The men’s team, announced minutes earlier, joined them as well. Gold ribbon shot into the air from edges of the floor. Red, white and blue confetti shoot from a cannon in a constant stream like water coming from a fire hose. And the crowd roared. The deafening noise of sold out arena could be felt as much as heard. They all huddled in a circle. USA, USA, USA. They gathered confetti and threw it in the air.
As the celebration continued on the floor, the girls who dreams did not come true trickled out. Bela and Martha Karoyli went around to each one, Martha firmly holding their head and looking straight into their eyes, her trademark as she focuses in on each individual. A touching moment as both Bela and Martha huddled around Nastia. Valeri hugging Rebecca Bross. Nastia and Valeri sharing a brief hug and kiss. Sabrina Vega unable to hold back the tears, crying openly as people one by one came around to comfort her. Rebecca Bross mostly holding back the tears but showing some emotion here and there.
Eventually things died down inside the HP Pavillion, but the partying continued outside at the AT&T block party. First the men were up on stage, talking to the crowd. After they made their way off the stage, music blared as everyone waited for the women to come out. Behind the stage, the men got up on top of their bus and danced to “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” The families were off to the side of the stage celebrating and waiting for the girls to come out along with the crowd.
Rita Wieber was the first to spot them and started cheering and clapping. Jordyn blew cute, excited kisses to her family just before she walked on to the stage. Then she adjusted Aly’s jacket, making them all presentable. They interviewed Gabby for a bit and then the men joined them on the stage. The crowd lit their candles (passed out earlier), and everyone held them up in the air as Kenny Loggins sang “America The Beautiful”.
The girls headed off the stage and some insistent fans convinced Kyla Ross to come sign autographs as everyone else got into the van. An official finally pulled her away from her adoring fans and they drove off. As I walked away from the night, girls were desperately trying to get pictures with Jordyn’s brother Ryan – the original owner of the Wieber Fever moniker.
The live announcement of the Olympic team, the overwhelming emotions of celebrating with those who made it and crying with those who didn’t is a feeling, a moment in time, that I will not soon forget. And one that I am so very grateful I was able to experience. Thanks to USA Gymnastics, San Jose and all the gymnasts, coaches and fans who made it possible.
Many people have come to consensus on the team, but the alternates still seem to be up for grabs. Most people are choosing alternates based on having girls that can step in on any event. And I understand that philosophy – it is usually who alternates are. But we get to take not one, not two, but three alternates! And, in my mind, the team that is going already has people who can step in on any event should they need to.
So I am choosing my alternates by having someone that can contribute a team finals worthy score on every event should we loose someone on that event. This approach has led me to a surprising conclusion. For vault, I choose Alicia Sacramone. I could also see Elizabeth Price in this role. But Alicia is my very favorite girl and she could also win a vault medal. Bars has to be either Anna Li or Rebecca Bross. When it comes to the international judging and bars dependability, I choose Bross. Beam could be Sarah Finnegan or Alicia Sacramone. Finnegan can score higher, but Sacramone is much more dependable and Finnegan has never been tested on a world stage. Beam at Olympic Team Finals is a scary place to start. Last but not least is floor. The only choice for me is Sarah Finnegan.
So this leads to Alicia Sacramone, Elizabeth Price, Anna Li, Rebecca Bross, and Sarah Finnegan. My three would be Sacramone, Bross and Finnegan. What about you and why?
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?