Simone Biles Flies High Above the Rest at the 2015 P&G National Championships


Simone Biles once again put her name in the history books, earning her third consecutive national title, with a two-day combined score of 124.1 and a out of this world 63 all-around score on the second day. The race for second and third was tight and changed throughout the night, but Maggie Nichols who shone from start to finish, managed to claim the silver with a 119.15. Aly Raisman grabbed the bronze with a 118.55. Key followed closely for fourth with a 118.35 and Douglas rounded out the top group with a 117.95.

Biles began the nights with a 61.1 all-around, a 1.4 lead over Nichols. Douglas, Raisman and Key all followed closely at just over a point to 1.2 behind. There was a full house at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the crowd was electric. The one at a time format made sure each gymnast got their due.

Rotation One began with Nichols on bars. She started her evening out with a bang, showing off her light, flowing bar routine with a stick to boot for a 14.8. Ross was up next on vault, delivering a double twisting yurchenko, but landed with her chest quite low for a 14.55. Douglas followed suit on bars, delivering a strong routine on her best event with just a small hop on landing. Biles started the night out on beam. This event has been a trial for her this week, but she overcame her earlier jitters with one of her best beam routines ever, including a stick on her dismount scoring an out of this world 15.9.

Raisman also got started on her best event, rocking the entire arena with her sky high tumbling, and hitting two solid floor routines in a row (minus a blip on her split half to end) for a 15.5. Key finished up the top group on beam as well. Redeeming her fall yesterday, she hit a great routine for a 14.55. At the end of the rotation Raisman had moved up a spot to third, overtaking Olympic teammate Douglas.

Rotation two kicks off with four big hitters in a row. Starting with Raisman on vault. She threw her amanar and landed with a locked knee but seemed to be ok, scoring a 15.35. After a great warm-up, Kyla fell on her dismount once again on bars, earning a 14.05. Douglas had a good beam routine with a few wobbles to earn a 14.2. Biles completely redeemed herself on floor, sticking her last pass for good measure for a whopping15.85.

Ashton Locklear nailed her bar routine, scoring a 15.45. Key took the floor with her tuxedo ringmaster leo to perform an enchanting routine that earned a 14.7. Nichols was last up on beam, where she competed a solid beam routine earning a 14.65. At the end of rotation, Raisman had gone into second, overtaking Nichols by .35.

Key led off rotation three on vault with a double twisting yurchenko. She has a fairly large hop on the landing but is beautiful in the air for a 15.2. Skinner hits her packed floor routing two nights in a row, earning a 14.8. Next up are Gowey and Kocian on bars, both trying to show their contributions to the team as bars specialists. Gowey scored a 14.7 and Kocian scored a 15.6 for her gorgeous bar routine. Nichols danced her way through her high tumbling floor routine for a 14.15. Biles followed her on vault, rocking her amanar for a sky high e-score of 9.9 and a 16.3.

Raisman was up on bars, where she did one of her cleaner bar routines for a 14.1. Ross looked to redeem herself on beam, showing a solid routine with a stuck dismount scoring a 15.25. Douglas finished out the rotation rocking her floor routine and improved by almost point from night one for a 14.8. At the end of the rotation Biles was in the lead followed by Raisman, Nichols, Key and then Douglas, all separated by eight tenths.

The last rotation was a battle for the podium, led out by Nichols on vault. Nichols hit a great amanar for a 15.85. Douglas vaulted a clean double twisting yurchenko with a small hop for a 15.15. Biles finished out one of her most dominant nights of competition on bars, where she earned a 14.95, totaling a 63 all-around for the night. Raisman followed on beam, needing the beam routine of her life to hold on to second. She was solid, scoring a 14.95, but it was not enough to hold on to second. Ross hit her tumbling passes on her floor routine, but missed a lot of her leaps and looked tired at the end, earning a 13.8. Key ended on bars, with a beautiful routine, just one overbalanced handstand to score a 15.3, pulling up into fourth. Alyssa Baumann finished out an incredible night of competition with her beautiful beam routine for a 15.05.

Biles won her second national championship on vault, with Skinner for the silver. Kocian took the bars title followed by Locklear, then Key. Biles won another title on beam, with Baumann taking the silver and Ross the Bronze. Raisman won another floor national title followed by Biles for silver with Key and Skinner tying for bronze.

At the end of the night, Aimee Bowman was named coach of the year, Biles was named athlete of the year and Raisman was named sportsman of the year. The national team named on this night were the top six in the all-around Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols, Aly Raisman, Bailie Key, Gabby Douglas and Madison Kocian. Also added to the team were Nia Dennis, MyKayla Skinner, Alyssa Baumann and Kyla Ross.

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Vault

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Photo by Christy Linder

Secret U.S. Classics Seniors Recap and Results


The energy in the Sears Centre Arena was electric for the 2015 Secret U.S. Classic. Simone Biles of World Champions wowed the crowd the whole night through to win the gold with a 62.4. Gabby Douglas of Buckeye Gymnastics came out strong in her first US meet since 2012 for silver, earning a 60.50. Nichols showed she was out to make a name for herself with her new amanar, and gorgeous, consistent routines on every event for a 60.0.

Bailie Key of Texas Dreams came out strong in her US senior debut, just missing the bronze with a 59.45. Raisman had a great night, competing her amanar for the first time, but fell on a newly upgraded floor pass, ending the night with a 59.05. Kyla Ross of Gym Max only competed on two events due to a hurt heel.

Rotation One

Nichols performed her new amanar vault with just a slight step on landing. Douglas looked great on bars, the arena exploded before and after her routine with just a hush while she competed. She flew high on all her release moves for a 15.4. Key competed beam like the veteran she is in her first US senior meet, scoring a 14.45. Raisman pulled out a surprise amanar in warm ups and competed it beautifully, but with a step to the side that went out of bounds for a 15.4. The crowd went even wilder for Biles on beam, where she was solid on her new barani and front pike, and just had one major wobble for a 15.25.

Brenna Dowell fell on a release after hitting her routines in podium training and warm ups in her first meet back as an elite. Alyssa Baumann fell on beam, but hit the rest of the routine with her normal gorgeous lines. Ashton Locklear is still getting back into routine condition, and though she performed on beam, she was not scored.

At the end of rotation one Nichols was on top with a 15.8 follow by Raisman and Douglas with a 15.4. Biles

Rotation Two

Nichols started off the rotation with a gorgeous bar routine for a 14.95. Key opened up with a gorgeous double layout, and continued on with her fantastic new routine to score a 14.8.  Douglas hit an awesome, perfectly solid beam routine for a 14.9. Raisman showed her ever improving bar routine, where she scored a 14.2. MyKayla Skinner debuted her new floor routine, but put her hands down on her last pass after looking very winded.

Ross missed her hand in her new bhardwaj release and had to stop. Then she fell again. She got back up with determination to compete the rest of her routine while the crowd cheered her on, and she looked great.

Biles led at the halfway point with a 31.3, followed by Nichols with a 30.75 and Douglas with a 30.3.

Rotation Three

Key opened up the rotation on vault, showing a clean Yurchenko double for a 14.9. Biles rocked her amanar vault with just the tiniest of hops for an incredible 9.7 execution score and a 16.0. Raisman followed her on beam. After an almost perfect routine in warmups, she had a few wobbles but stuck her incredibly difficult Patterson dismount to earn a 15.1. Ross came back after her bar routine with a beautiful beam routine with one major wobble on her side aerial for a 14.55. Douglas continued onto floor where she got the crowd clapping along with her upbeat music and hit all her leaps, turns and tumbling for a 15.0. Nichols continued on her fantastic day with a solid, beautiful beam routine scoring a 14.45.

Sabrina Vega showed off on floor in her first meet back since 2011, competing a more simple routine, but doing it very well until the last pass when she put her hands down.

The third rotation ended with Biles in first with a 47.3, Douglas with a 45.3 and Nichols just behind with a 45.2.

Rotation Four

Entering the last rotation, Raisman was five tenths behind Nichols and six behind Douglas as they moved to her best event. However, with Douglas on vault, it seemed unlikely she would be able to catch her. Madison Kocian performed a beautifully flowing bar routine, scoring the highest bars score of the night, a 15.6.  Biles finished on bars, where she has greatly improved and ends with a stick to put an exclamation point on her very successful competition. She earned a 15.1 to cap off her night. Raisman took the floor to a roaring crowd, but fell on her newly upgraded second pass. She went on to wow with everything else, but her was not enough to make the podium. Nichols came out strong on floor, scoring a 14.8. Key finished her night with a great bar set, scoring a 15.3 and just missing the bronze.

Full Results at SecretClassic.com.

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Secret Surprises, A Look At Senior Podium Training and Upgrades


In many ways, the Secret US Classics can be one of the most exciting meets of the year. It is the time when we see impressive upgrades, gymnast debuts and begin to really get an idea of the overall picture for the US women’s team. It is also a meet where anything can happen, as the girls routines are not yet polished and perfected. This year boasts an extra level of excitement with the return of many beloved gymnasts, upgrades in unexpected places and the place in the Olympic cycle where gymnastics fans can begin to see glimpses of next year’s Olympic team.

“The energy in the arena was intense,” said gymnastics photographer Christy Linder. Gone were the smiles and casual jokes, instead the girls had stoic, focused expressions. And while it is still early in the lead up to the selection of the world and ultimately the Olympic team, the intensity of the competition is beginning to show. With just over a year to go, everyone has Rio on their mind.

“Classics is always really important. It is the meet right before championships, so it allows you to see where you are and it allows you to try out your new skills… and to see if it is still worth it to push for the new skills, because after this meet you can’t really try anything new at championships or world championships,” said Aly Raisman in an interview with USA Gymnastics after podium training. Raisman is trying out a new skill on floor, adding a front tuck after her incredibly difficult pike double arabian in her second tumbling pass. “That’s still something relatively new, adding it into the floor routine, so hopefully tomorrow it will go well.”

And Raisman is not alone. In 2012 the USA seemed like an amanar factory. However, the number of gymnasts performing this high scoring vault consistently has diminished to just one – Simone Biles. Returning gymnasts Gabby Douglas, Raisman and Brenna Dowell all competed the amanar previously. Bailie Key is also training this vault. But the only person to actually show it in podium training today was Maggie Nichols. Welcome to the amanar club Maggie!

Speaking of Simone Biles, though she already has the most difficulty in the world by far, she is always pushing herself for more. Biles showed off two new skills on beam. “I added a Barani on beam [front tuck with a half twist] and a front pike… and then I got a new floor routine, so I am excited about that… and then I was supposed to compete a Cheng on vault, but that’s not going to happen, so hopefully for P&G’s,” said Biles in her post podium training interview. Biles also added a full twisting double layout on floor at Jesolo earlier this year and will be competing that along with a brand new floor routine.

Kyla Ross has spent this year focusing on bar upgrades. “I’ve been working hard to be able to compete a more difficult routine,” said Ross. She debuted a Bhardwaj (full twisting pak, a transition flip from the high to low bar) during podium training and also a new double front dismount. She has also changed some of her connections on beam. However, bars and beam are all we will see tomorrow as she won’t be competing all-around. “Unfortunately I am not going to do the all around this weekend because I hurt my heel a little bit, but I am hoping to go back after this competition and train hard for P&G’s.”

Bailie Key will not let her US senior debut come and go without upgrades of her own. “Training has been going really well. I am excited to compete here as a senior at the Secret Classic, and I thought training here, podium training, went really good too. I am most excited for floor because that is my big upgrade. I am putting a double layout in and moving my other passes back,” said Key. Along with her upgrade, Key also brings a brand new floor routine of her own.

Gabby Douglas is excited to be competing again, but will wait to unveil her new upgrades until P&G National Championships. “I’ve been working on a little bit of upgrades, which you guys will see at P&G’s, and being consistent and patient,” said Douglas after podium training. She knows that to make another Olympic team, she is going to have to give it her all. “We have so many good girls, all fighting for that spot and the competition is more dynamic… all the gymnasts, especially me, are going to have to pull out the best of the best. Especially with Simone. We’re gonna all have to bring out our best skills.” Douglas gave us a preview, showing off her new floor routine.

In addition to the upgrade frenzy were a number of familiar faces making their way back into the elite scene. Brenna Dowell, Polina Shchennikova and Sabrina Vega are all returning to elite gymnastics. Dowell just took a short hiatus to try her hand at college gymnastics. After a successful freshman year, she showed up to podium training looking better than ever on bars. Shchennikova showed off her gorgeous lines and flexibility on beam and bars, reminding everyone why she has been one that always catches your eye. Vega has been out since the 2012 Olympic Trials and is looking to begin her journey back into competition this weekend.

2014 World Champions MyKayla Skinner, Alyssa Baumann, Ashton Locklear and Madison Kocian are all out to prove that they are still in the running this year, even with the return of so many other gymnasts. Kocian and Locklear are both coming off of injuries as well, and will be looking to show that they are fit and ready to go. Standout junior Nia Dennis will be making her senior debut, looking to make a place for herself as well.

All in all, the gymnasts everyone expected to look great, do. And the gymnasts we have been wondering about- look great as well.  This year, more than any before, seems to be an embarrassment of riches. Let the fun begin.

An All Star Cast Takes the Stage at the Secret US Classics


Tomorrow starts the final run up to the national championships with the Secret US Classics. Nine World and Olympic champions will take the stage as they fine tune their performances in preparation for the national championships and make the case for why they should be on the 2015 World Championship team. Headlining the competition is two-time World all-around champion Simone Biles of World Champions Centre and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kyla Ross of Gym-Max. 2012 Olympic gold medalists Gabrielle Douglas of Buckeye Gymnastics and Aly Raisman of Brestyan’s American Gymnastics will be making their first appearance in competition on US soil since 2012.

This year’s field boasts gold medal gymnasts spanning from World Championship team in 2011 through the 2012 Olympics to the 2014 World Championships. The USA has won gold in all of those years, and those gold medalists are making their bid to prove why they should each be on the national and world teams. More than 100 of the country’s top female gymnasts will be competing in the junior and senior divisions. The action will start with podium training on July 24, which will stream live at 9:00 a.m. ET (juniors) and 11:00 a.m. ET (seniors) and then will continue with competition on the 25th.

The juniors will take the stage at 1 p.m. on July 25 at the Sears Centre in Chicago. The seniors start at 6:30 p.m. Universal Sports television will broadcast live from 7:30-9:30 p.m. ET.  The competition will be simultaneously webcast on UniversalSports.com and on the official Secret Classic website.  If you miss it live, the broadcast will be available for on-demand streaming.

The official athlete list from USA Gymnastics:

Alyssa Baumann, WOGA/Plano, Texas
Simone Biles, World Champions Centre/Spring, Texas
Nia Dennis, Legacy Elite/Westerville, Ohio
Kylie Dickson, All Olympia/Los Angeles, Calif.
Gabrielle Douglas, Buckeye Gymnastics/Tarzana, Calif.
Brenna Dowell, Great American Gymnastics Express/Odessa, Mo.
Felicia Hano, Gym-Max/San Gabriel, Calif.
Bailie Key, Texas Dreams/Montgomery, Texas
Madison Kocian, WOGA/Dallas, Texas
Alaina Kwan, All Olympia/Cypress, Calif.
Taylor Lawson, Parkettes/Macungie, Pa.
Ashton Locklear, Everest Gymnastics/Hamlet, N.C.
Lauren Navarro, Gliders-Charter Oak/La Verne, Calif.
Maggie Nichols, Twin City Twisters/Little Canada, Minn.
Marissa Oakley, Phenom Gymnastics/Oswego, Ill.
Aly Raisman, Brestyan’s/Needham, Mass.
Lexy Ramler, KidSport/St. Michael, Minn.
Kyla Ross, Gym-Max/Aliso Viejo, Calif.
Polina Shchennikova, TIGAR/Evergreen, Colo.
MyKayla Skinner, Desert Lights Gymnastics/Gilbert, Ariz.
Sabrina Vega, GAGE/Carmel, N.Y.

Junior Athletes

Shania Adams, Buckeye Gymnastics/Plain City, Ohio
Alyssa Al-Ashari, Twistars USA/Lansing, Mich.
Elena Arenas, Georgia Elite/Bishop, Ga.
Aria Brusch, Cincinnati Gymnastics/Forest Park, Ohio
Chae Campbell, Metroplex Gymnastics/Carrollton, Texas
Jordan Chiles, Naydenov Gymnastics/Vancouver, Wash.
Kaitlin DeGuzman, Metroplex Gymnastics/Rowlett, Texas
Christina Desiderio, Parkettes/Hackettstown, N.J.
Olivia Dunne, ENA Paramus/ Hillsdale, N.J.
Colbi Flory, Texas Dreams/Rockwall, Texas
Jazmyn Foberg, MG Elite/Bayville, N.J.
Margzetta Frazier, Parkettes/Erial, N.J.
Megan Freed, Parkettes/Bethlehem, Pa.
Emily Gaskins, North Port Gymnastics/Coral Springs, Fla.
Jaylene Gilstrap, Metroplex Gymnastics/McKinney, Texas
Lauren Hernandez, MG Elite/Old Bridge, N.J.
Anna Huber, Rochester Gymnastics/Rochester, N.Y.
Morgan Hurd, First State Gymnastics/Middletown, Del.
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Brandy Johnson’s/Groveland, Fla.
Shilese Jones, Buckeye Gymnastics/Covington, Wash.
Hannah Joyner, World Champion Centre/Spring, Texas
Adeline Kenlin, Iowa Gym-Nest/Iowa City, Iowa
Emma Malabuyo, Texas Dreams/San Jose, Calif.
Maggie Musselman, Hill’s Gymnastics/Crownsville, Md.
Tienna Nguyen, Zenith Elite/Allen, Texas
Maile O’Keefe, Salcianu Gymnastics/Las Vegas, Nev.
Abby Paulson, Twin City Twisters/Coon Rapids, Minn.
Gabby Perea, Legacy Elite/Geneva, Ill.
Adriana Popp, Girls Co-op Gymnastics/Easton, Pa.
Grace Quinn, Texas Dreams/Arlington, Texas
Madison Rau, World Champions Centre/Cypress, Texas
Alyona Shchennikova, TIGAR/Evergreen, Colo.
Caitlin Smith, Paramount Elite/Valley Village, Calif.
Ragan Smith, Texas Dreams/Lewisville, Texas
Deanne Soza, Arete Gymnastics/Orem, Utah
Tori Tatum, Twin City Twisters/Chanhassen, Minn.
Trinity Thomas,Prestige Gymnastics/York, Pa.
Abigail Walker,Texas Dreams/Carrollton, Texas

June National Team Camp – Pan Am Training Team To Be Selected


This month’s National Team Training Camp include’s the initial selection for the team who will represent the USA at the Pan American Games (to be held in Toronto from July 10-26). The five day camp ran this week at the Karolyi Ranch, and will culminate in the announcement of the eight-woman training squad for the games today at 1pm EST. The members of that squad will return at the end of the month, for the final selection camp to determine the five-member team.

Training session at the June National Team Camp. Photo via USA Gymnastics.

The gymnasts attempting to be be named to the Pan Am training squad spent the week finalizing the construction of their routines, and verifying these almost full routines with the National Team coaches. They also worked on continuing to refine their execution and artistry and testing their physical abilities. They will spend the rest of the month training at their home gyms to come back with full competition ready routines for the selection camp.

Victoria Nguyen, Aly Raisman and Norah Flatley hanging out at camp. “My girls 💗” via Aly Raisman Twitter

The seniors in attendance who are not vying for the squad, as well as all of the juniors are at a different phase in their training. They only verified half routines, wanting to peak at full routine competition readiness closer to the National Championships. They also worked on execution and artistry, as well as physical abilities testing.

Aly Raisman and Simone Biles at camp. Photo via Aly Raisman Twitter

The camp is headlined by five members of the gold medal winning 2014 U.S. Women’s World Team: Alyssa Baumann of WOGA; Simone Biles of World Champions Centre; Madison Desch of Great American Gymnastics Express; Kyla Ross of Gym-Max; and MyKayla Skinner of Desert Lights. Ashton Locklear of Everest and Madison Kocian of WOGA are still recovering from injury and was not in attendance. 2012 Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman of Brestyan’s American Gymnastics is also at the camp, however Gabby Douglas had a slight foot injury and did not attend, but is expected to return at the end of the monthaccording to USA Gymnastics Facebook Page. Those not in attendance will have the opportunity to petition on to the training squad.

The complete camp roster is:

Alyssa Baumann, WOGA
Simone Biles, World Champions Gym
Jordan Chiles, Naydenov
Madison Desch, GAGE
Christina Desidero, Parkettes
Nia Dennis, Buckeye
Norah Flatley, Chow’s Gymnastics
Jazmyn Foberg, MG Elite
Margzetta Frazier, Parkettes
Rachel Gowey, Chow’s Gymnastics
Felicia Hano, Gym-Max
Lauren Hernandez, MG Elite
Amelia Hundley, Cincinnati
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Brandy Johnson
McKenna Kelley, Stars Gymnastics
Bailie Key, Texas Dreams
Lauren Navarro, Gliders
Victoria Nguyen, Chow’s Gymnastics
Maggie Nichols, Twin City Twisters
Abby Paulson, Twin City Twisters
Grace Quinn, Texas Dreams
Aly Raisman, Brestyan’s
Kyla Ross, Gym-Max
Emily Schild, Everest Gymnastics
Polina Shchennikova, TIGAR
Megan Skaggs, Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta
MyKayla Skinner, Desert Lights
Ragan Smith, Texas Dreams
Deanne Soza, Arete

Who’s Who in 2015- The Returning Olympians


The 2012 Olympians

Jordyn Weiber has officially retired from elite level gymnastics. And Kyla Ross never left. That leaves three of the Fierce Five to discuss their possible impact in 2015.

Aly Raisman – All-Around; Beam, Floor and possibly Vault

Aly Raisman, 2015 City of Jesolo Floor Finals. Photo by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Raisman returned to competition for the first time since the 2012 Olympics at the City of Jesolo Trophy in March. She showed incredibly strong training sessions before the competition. In the qualifications, she posted the third highest score on beam, even though it was not nearly as strong of a routine as she had shown in training. Though she has been training and amanar, she just competed a double twisting yurechenko. It was a clean vault that showed definite potential for her amanar in the future. She seems to have improved on bars. She also qualified for event finals on floor,and ended up with the bronze medal on the floor and in the all-around.

Gabrielle Douglas

Gabrielle Douglas. Photo by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Douglas also made her competition comeback appearance at the 2015 City of Jesolo Trophy. She came in fourth in the all-around and tied for third on beam and bars and fourth on floor. Douglas looked great in training, and her progress in training seems to be in an incredibly positive direction.

McKayla Maroney

Maroney has disclosed on social media that she has struggled both with adrenal fatigue and depression over the last year. She has also talked about her fear of getting injured again. Though she continues to refer to her training, and her dreams of competing in the 2016 Olympics, it is unclear on where she is actually at in her training and if she will return.

Team USA Dominates at the City of Jesolo


Team USA continues their streak of team and all-around dominance on the international stage at this year’s City of Jesolo Trophy meet in Italy. They won the junior and senior team gold medals and swept the all-around podiums.  Two-time World all-around champion Simone Biles of World Champions Centre won the senior division, and Lauren Hernandez of MG Elite won the junior all-around title.

The first day of competition determined both the team and individual all-around standings and served as qualifications for event finals to be held tomorrow. Team USA totaled 241.3 in the senior team competition, followed by Italy (224.35) and Canada (221.75). The junior competition was held earlier in the day, where the junior team took the gold with a 229.1, followed by Canada for silver (222.45) and Italy rounding out the podium with the bronze (208.15).

Senior Team Medalists. Photo by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics

The USA junior team. Photo by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics

For the all-around competition, Biles led the seniors with an incredible score of 62.1. Bailie Key of Texas Dreams took the silver in her senior debut with a 59.5, and Aly Raisman of Brestyan’s American Gymnastics totaled a 59.1 for the bronze in her fist competition since the 2012 Olympics. In addition to sweeping the podium, the USA posted the top 5 all-around scores, and with no two per country rule in place, took nine of the top ten spots.

Bailie Key, Simone Biles and Aly Raisman. Photo by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics

Gabrielle Douglas of Buckeye Gymnastics came in fourth in her first competition since the Olympics with a 58.9, and Alyssa Baumann of WOGA Gymnastics took fifth, posting a 58.7. Erika Fasana of Italy took sixth (57.55), and seventh through tenth went back to the USA.  The order was Maggie Nichols of Twin City Twisters (57.5), Megan Skaggs of Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta, (57.15), Madison Desch of Great American Gymnastics Express, (56.9), and Kyla Ross of Gym-Max Gymnastics (56.75). Emily Schild of Everest Gymnastics made her international debut and scored a 54.95.

The USA Senior Team. Photo by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics

All of USA’s juniors finished in the top ten in the all-around in addition to sweeping the podium. Hernandez posted a 57.65 for gold followed by Norah Flatley of Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute with a 57.45 for silver and reigning National junior champion Jazmyn Foberg of MG Elite with a 56.55 for bronze. Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams Gymnastics was fifth (56.1) and Olivia Trautman of Twin City Twisters took sixth (55.2). Victoria Nguyen of Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute finished ninth (54.5).

Norah Flatley, Lauren Hernandez and Jazmyn Foberg. Photo by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics

USA Juniors with Marta Karolyi. Photo by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics

Both junior and senior event finals will be held tomorrow. In the senior ranks, Biles qualified to all four event finals in first, and Ross will join her in the bars final, Baumann in the beam final and Raisman in the floor. In the junior division, the qualifiers were Smith and Foberg on vault, Hernandez and Flatley on bars, Flatley and Nguyen on beam, and Hernandez and Flatley on floor.

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.

City of Jesolo Trophy 2015 Roster and Details


This weekend boasts one of the most exciting meets of the spring, as it gives us a first look at many of the US gymnasts. The City of Jesolo Trophy will be held March 2529, with team, all-around and event finals taking place on the 28-29. USA Gymnastics takes quite a large team to this meet, giving many gymnasts a chance to debut for the year as well as gain international experience. The senior squad includes 2013-14 World all-around champion Simone Biles, and 2012 Olympic team gold-medalists Gabrielle Douglas, Alexandra Raisman, and Kyla Ross. Junior 2013 Junior National Champion Bailie Key will make her senior debut.

The competition highlights competitions in both the junior and senior levels, in the team, all-around and individual event categories. As the defending Jesolo champions, the United States automatically qualify to the team and all-around finals, as does the host country, Italy on March 28. The other countries will participate in qualifying rounds March 25-27.

The March 28 competition will determine the team and all-around results in both the junior and senior divisions, and the top eight athletes, with a maximum of two per team, will advance to the event finals on March 29.  The competition schedule is:  March 25, junior team qualification; March 26, senior team qualification; March 28, junior and senior team and all-around finals; and March 29, individual event finals.

The Italian Gymnastics Federation will broadcast a livestream of the competition on its YouTube Channel,www.youtube.com/user/FGIfederginnastica.

The complete U.S. Team roster is included below.

Seniors

Alyssa Baumann, Plano, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics

Simone Biles, Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre

Madison Desch, Lenexa, Kansas/Great American Gymnastics Express

Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va./Buckeye Gymnastics

Bailie Key, Montgomery, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics

Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minn./Twin City Twisters

Aly Raisman, Needham, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics

Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif./Gym-Max Gymnastics

Emily Schild, Huntersville, N.C./Everest Gymnastics

Megan Skaggs, Marietta, Ga./Gymnastics Academy of Georgia

Juniors

Norah Flatley, Cumming, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute

Jazmyn Foberg, Bayville, N.J./MG Elite

Lauren Hernandez, Old Bridge, N.J./MG Elite

Victoria Nguyen, West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute

Ragan Smith, Lewisville, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics

Olivia Trautman, Champlin, Minn./Twin City Twisters

*Schild and Skaggs have been added to the senior national squad, with Trautman named to the junior team.

Picture by Kim Zmeskal-Burdette Instagram

The Latest on the Fierce Five – March 201


Three of the Fierce Five are undoubtedly back as players in the 2015 world of elite women’s gymnastics. Gabrielle Douglas, 2012 All-around and Team Olympic Champion and Aly Raisman, 2012 Team and Floor Olympic Champion are both hoping to make their comeback debuts at the 2015 City of Jesolo Trophy competition. Both have been at multiple national team camps, and are reported to look healthy and ready to compete. Kyla Ross has never left the world of elite gymnastics, and will be looking to continue to contribute to the US team as she has since the 2012 Olympics. Raisman, Ross and Douglas are all working hard to compete at the City of Jesolo Trophy competition at the end of March.

3/5 fierce five roomies- Aly Raisman via Instagram

3/5 fierce five roomies- Aly Raisman via Instagram

“October was my first training camp back,” said Raisman in an interview with USA Gymnastics. “Gabby was literally the only one I knew at October training camp.” Raisman doesn’t know the rest of the national team that well, but they definitely know her. “They are all so nice, but they’re all so young… Training camps now are a little bit different… it’s crazy because the girls now, when they come here, they ask for my picture and I feel like they know so much information about me. It’s crazy but it means so much to me because I was the same way. I remember coming to training camp when Shawn Johnson and Nastia first came back and I was just in awe… I wanted to copy everything single thing that they did. I remember Shawn used to eat these beets (the vegetables) and so I still eat them because she ate them.”

Raisman has all her skills back and is getting into routine shape for 2015. But she is waiting for the first competition of the year to really see where she is at. “I feel like until I compete it is not going to be where I want it to be… You are only as good as your last competition, so I know I still have a lot of work to do and I still have to prove myself.”

“Aly’s skill level is getting higher and higher,” said Marta Karolyi in the same interview. “I was very pleased with her tumbling. She is improving her bars, so I am looking forward to see what is happening. She is extremely enthusiastic about this whole comeback, and it looks like she honestly wants to be there. Realizing she has to fight to make the team, but wanting [it] very much.”

Kyla Ross has without a doubt become the rock and foundation of the US team over the last two years. Karolyi went on to say, “Kyla was always a girl who was very goal oriented, very disciplined and realizes that the every day hard work is what makes you better… Kyla as a person has become more and more confident with the years and the international success that she had and gradually she became a very quiet leader.” Ross is focusing 2015 on the one thing she has lacked over the past few years- increasing her start values. Ross is known for her perfect, high execution scores style of gymnastics. But she knows to continue to be the best of the best, she has to have more difficulty. “I have been focusing on the things I lacked last year, especially focusing on my difficulty and start value.” Ross in fact decided to stay out of the AT&T American Cup this year to give her more time to work on adding new skills to her routines. Check out the whole interview.

After the 2012 Olympics, Gabrielle Douglass honestly didn’t know if she would continue on in the sport. But after going to competitions and seeing others compete, she really begin to feel the desire. Especially to accomplish what no one has ever done before – to win back to back Olympic All-Around titles. “No one has ever done it before, and that is definitely pushing me,” Douglass told USA Gymnastics. “Gabby is an extremely talented girl, said Marta Karolyi, “I love her bar work… We will have to see how she does on these other events. She is one of these girls that needs this environment.. to see what is happening with the other girls, what is everybody doing and get into the rhythm.” When Douglas thinks about her training, half measures will not do for her. “I really want to make it big and I really want to make it better than last time,” she says. Apart from the coveted Olympic title, Douglas does not have any individual international titles to her name. In addition to adding a second Olympic title, she will be looking to add more National Championship and World Championship titles along the the way. Check out the whole interview with Douglas and watch her training.

Jordyn Wieber has now officially retired from elite gymnastics. On Friday before the American Cup, she released an update on her decision to retire from elite gymnastics. For anyone who has watched her joy at working with the UCLA team, this comes as no surprise. “It was after enrolling at UCLA when I realized that the juggling act of being a student, team manager and professional gymnast wouldn’t allow me the time that I needed to continue my competitive career. I also began to realize that I felt fulfilled with what I had accomplished in my gymnastics career, and was ready to move on to the next phase of my life,” wrote Wieber. It is so wonderful to see her so full of joy and so fulfilled. “Although I’m leaving the sport I love, the principles it taught — sacrifice, maturity, perseverance and dedication — are traits that will stay with me forever.”

And so that just leaves the most famous of the five, McKayla Maroney. Maroney has been incredibly quiet over the last year. After the 2013 World Championships, she underwent yet another surgery, trying to get her knee up to par for future competition. But Maroney has been absent from the elite scene far longer than her recovery should have taken, with no communication on her status. Recently, International Gymnastics Magazine published a teaser for their April edition with an update and promise of more details to come.

IG caught up with Maroney at the All Olympia Invitational her team was hosting at the Los Angeles Convention Center. She told them that she has had a long bout with adrenal fatigue. “I’m really, really excited for this year and coming back, just because I’m now healed,” said Maroney “I haven’t felt like this in a long time. I’m feeling great.”

In the world of elite gymnastics where youth reigns, it would be quite amazing for all four gymnasts to make the 2016 Olympic team. Simone Biles has been decimating the rest of the world of gymnastics for the past two years, and there are quite a few juniors who are incredibly talented and strong competitors. But the Fierce Five are appropriately named, and there is no doubt that each one will give an incredible fight to make the team.