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

Preview of P&G Championships – Seniors. What They Have to Prove.


In history past, the National Championships outcome determined many things, including a place on the national and world teams. However, these days it is just an important stepping stone. Ok, maybe a boulder that gets you halfway across the river sized stepping stone, but still, just a step. For today’s gymnast, the selection for a spot on the national and world stage is a journey rather than a result of one important competition. So for each gymnast, the weight of their performance at this competition on their chances for a spot on the national or world team, the size of step this competition is for them, depends on where they are at in their journey. Let’s take a look. (As we look all pics are from Christy Linder’s Facebook page… you’ll want to check it out!)

Just Stay on Course

Right now, there appear to be three ‘lock” positions on this year’s world championship team, Simone Biles, Gabby Doublas and Aly Raisman. Biles has absolutely nothing to prove.  She could fall in the river (or on each event) multiple times, and it just wouldn’t matter. Her only job is to stay healthy and continuing on being one of the most amazing gymnasts in history. Douglas and Raisman don’t have a whole lot to prove either. At both Jesolo and Secret Classics they have shown that they are still able to hang with the best of the best, and are on track to be at the front of the pack come world team selection camp. Barring injury, these three seem to be locks for this year’s World Championship team, and they just need to stay on course to not just make the team, but most likely win more World Championship medals.

Simone Biles finishing vault at the P&G National Championships. Photo by Christy Linder.

Gabby Douglas flying high on bars at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Aly Raisman is sharp on beam at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Step it Up a Little Notch

The next three girls Maggie Nichols, Kyla Ross and Bailie Key seem to be the most likely to take the last three World Championship team spots. They are all strong all-arounders and could definitely contribute to the team on any event if needed. Nichols is probably the surprise leader of this group. Nichols is strong on all four events, and could easily lead off team USA in any one of them. Her super clean amanar vault makes her a huge addition to USA’s vault line-up, and the combination of the two factors make her very close to a lock on the team. However, she is still climbing the ranks and proving herself, so it will be key that she hits at this competition.

Ross and Key are both known for the same things- clean lines, clear heads and consistency. However, the issue for both is that they don’t bring in high enough scores to overcome the four mentioned above. While it is unlikely that any other girls will overtake them in the all-around, there are a handful of girls that can contribute higher scores on an individual event. For Ross to maintain her place as a bars and beam specialist, she will definitely need to show progress towards her newly upgraded bars routine. Both girls will need to score high and hit with consistency.

Maggie Nichols strutting her stuff at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Kyla Ross showing what she is made of at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Bailie Key on beam at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Show Your Specialities

There are a few other girls who have an outside chance of making a worlds team because of one or two events if they are able to consistently and significantly outscore one of the girls above. Numerous combinations of the girls above could make a strong bars line-up for a worlds team, but it is not a sure thing that any of them would medal in an event finals. Madison Kocian, Ashton Locklear, Rachel Gowey and Brenna Dowell would all like to fill that gap. While each of them need to make a strong showing on at least one other event, it is CRUCIAL that they each hit a strong uneven bars routine. From Locklear, who placed fourth at last year’s uneven event finals at the World Championships but has been injured ever since, to Gowey and Kocian coming back from longer injuries, to Dowell making the switch back from NCAA, each gymnast has a rich resume and a strong ground to stand on, but a lot to prove.

Madison Kocian on bars. Podium training at P&G Championships, photo by Christy Linder.

Ashton Locklear on bars. Podium training at P&G Championships, photo by Christy Linder.

Rachel Gowey on bars. Podium training at P&G National Championships. Photo by Christy Linder.

Brenna Dowell on floor. Podium training at P&G National Championships. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp.

Alyssa Baumann was on last year’s world championship team as well, and is a standout on balance beam. While team USA will have a STRONG balance beam line up, again it is less likely for them to top the podium on this event. If Baumann can come in with one of the top beam routines, she might be able to make a case for her spot on the worlds team. However, this would be a VERY tall feat for her.

MyKayla Skinner was another member of last year’s world championship team, but if ever there was a year where you cannot rest on your laurels, it is this year. With Raisman and Nichols in the mix, Skinner has dropped a notch in her contributions on floor and vault. She will need to perform the routines of a lifetime on both events to show that she still has a place on the world team.

Step Up to the Plate

Amelia Hundley has mostly hit when it has counted, and has shown that she can come back and give it her all at the recent Pan American Games. Hundley is a strong all-arounder, and can definitely deliver on bars and floor. However, to keep pace with the other girls who could contribute either as an all-arounder, a bars specialist or a floor specialist, Hundley will have to deliver some of the best routines she has ever performed. As will Madison Desch. Desch was an alternate at the 2015 World Championships and was recently selected to compete at the Pan American Games. Looking like a lock for the all-around, Desch fell on beam and ended up second. While Desch is a strong gymnast, she just needs to show higher scores and more consistency than in the past.

Nia Dennis has been a gymnast that many have expected to top the podiums at this point in her career. Undeniably talented, Dennis could be in the mix. However, her consistency has always been an issue. A recent gym change could be what Dennis needed to move from talented but inconsistent to a contender. If Dennis wants a place on this year’s world team, she will have to reflect that in her competition.

Emily Schild is the picture of clean lines and technically perfect gymnastics. She has been stepping up to every challenge given to her this year, unfortunately, her scores are just not on par with the rest of the field. The same can be said of beautiful to watch Lauren Navvarro and Polina  Shchennikova. Both round out the senior field with gymnastics you don’t want to miss, but often is.

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

USA Sweeps 2015 Jesolo Event Final Golds


Continuing a weekend of winning, Team USA swept the gold medals in the individual event finals, and took 13 out of 14 possible medals in total. Two-time World all-around champion Simone Biles of World Champions Centre, won three gold medals, one in every final she entered. Lauren Hernandez of MG Elite also won two junior event gold medals, both adding to the all-around and team golds they each won yesterday.

In the senior division, Biles won the gold in vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Kyla Ross of Gym-Max Gymnastics won the gold on her signature event, uneven bars. Biles was the only senior US gymnast eligible for the vault finals, but the US went one-two on bars and beam and took the gold and bronze on floor.

Marta Karolyi congratulating Simone Biles. Photo by by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Biles took the vault title with a 15.525 (15.9 vault 1; 15.15 vault 2). Arianna Rocca of Italy took second with a 14.500, followed and Elsabeth Black of Canada was third with a 14.2.

Simone Biles on vault. Photo by by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Biles withdrew from the bars final, allowing Bailie Key of Texas Dreams to compete. (Since the USA primarily uses Jesolo as a training competition, this is the only meet where they will have a gymnast withdraw from event finals to allow another gymnast to compete.) Ross won the gold with her newly upgraded routine, scoring a 15.25. Key took silver with a 15.100. Sabrina Gill of Canada rounded out the podium with a 14.300.

Kyla Ross on uneven bars. Photo by by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Biles scored a 15.25 to win the beam final. Alyssa Baumann of WOGA Gymnastics took second with a 14.55. Carlotta Ferlito took third, scoring a 14.3.

Simone Biles takes beam gold. Photo by by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Biles scored a whopping 16.05 -an astronomical score on floor- to take the floor gold. Erika Fasana of Italy squeaked into second with a 14.9, edging out Aly Raisman of Brestyan’s American Gymnastics, who scored a 14.85 for third.

Simone Biles bounds her way to floor gold. Photo by by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

In the junior division, Hernandez won the bars and floor golds. Jazmyn Foberg of MG Elite, won the vault, and Norah Flatley of Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute, took beam.  The USA juniors also took silver in three finals and bronze in the fourth.

Lauren Hernandez. Photo by by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Foberg scored a 14.600 (14.9, 1st vault; 14.3, 2nd vault) to win the vault title, with Shallon Olsen of Canada just behind her with a 14.55 for second. Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams Gymnastics took third with a 14.35.

Jazmyn Foberg on vault. Photo by by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

The rest of the events saw the USA go one-two. On bars, Hernandez won gold with a 14.5 and Flatley took silver with a 14.25. Rose-Kayling Woo of Canada rounded out the podium with a 4.050.

Lauren Hernandez rises to the occasion with her new bar routine. Photo by by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Flatley took top honors on her signature event, scoring a 14.9 on beam. Victoria Nguyen of Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute took the silver with a 14.4. Woo took her second bronze, scoring a 13.75.

Norah Flatley impresses on beam. Photo by by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Hernandez brought out a new crowd pleasing floor routine to win the floor gold with a 14.650. Smith scored a 14.250 for silver, and Megane Roberts of Canada took the bronze with a 13.900.

Lauren Hernandez performs her heart out for gold on floor. Photo by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

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 USA Team Breakdown and Training Recap – The Seniors


USA Gymnastics opens up it’s elite season with the annual City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy. The seniors they are sending are as diverse in their situations as they are in their gymnastics strengths. From reigning world champions to returning Olympians to first time debuters, we will see the gamut in Jesolo.

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 a look into the training sessions for the meet.

 

The Reigning World Champions

Simone Biles comes into the competition fresh off of her dominating win at the AT&T American Cup just a few weeks ago. She also comes in as the reigning two time world champion, and for now, is considered unbeatable. Joining her are three other members of the 2015 World Champion Team, Kyla Ross, Alyssa Bauman and alternate Maddie Desch. Ross declined her place at the AT&T American Cup to have more time to work on upgrades. So this is the first opportunity to see the fruits of her labor. All three will be looking to prove that they are still in the mix for this year’s worlds team despite the new competition.

Simone Biles looks as great as she looked just a few weeks ago at the American Cup. Her vault is dreamlike, her bars are solid and even better connected than in training for the American Cup. She had a few minor wobbles on beam, but was steady and confident and floor continues to be her playground as she stuck a double layout fullout with ease.

Kyla Ross brought some upgrades to Jesolo on barsShe has not showcased the pak full that she had mentioned training earlier this year, but did bring in a new combination and a new dismount. The routine: toe on + toe full + Maloney + Pak + van Leeuwen (form break here),  toe half + jaeger, double front dismount. Ross also brought in a dramatic and creative new floor routine. She continues to grow in her artistry on this event. She did not show the whip to double arabian, but had solid tumbling and dance throughout. Beam and floor are both as solid and beautiful as last year.

Alyssa Baumann will be looking to make a statement that her beam routines are what the USA needs, and that she can contribute on any event. And her training in Jesolo definitely helped to make her case. On floor she showcased three difficult turns- a Memmel, a double L turn and a quadruple turn as well as a piked full out. Her beam looks beautiful, and she does one of the most solid, upright standing arabians in the world (second only to Nia Dennis). The routine: arabian, switch ring, backhandpring step out + layout step out, switch split + switch half, full turn, front aerial, sheep jump, onodi + wolf jump, aerial, roundoff double pike dismount. Baumann completes the package of being able to represent the US on any event with a solid double twisting yurchenko on vault and a beautiful bar routine.

Maddie Desch put in solid training sessions, however she needs cleanup work on all of her events. She threw a solid DTY on vault, however landed with quite a low chest and without the flight dynamics of many of the other US gymnasts. Desch puts together quite an impressive bar routine, but will need to clean up some form issues and landing on her dismount. The same is true on beam. Desch has some great skills, but needs to work on amplitude. All in all, Desch looks solidly like she belongs in Jesolo, but will need to continue sharpening her skills and performance as the year goes on.

Senior International Debuts

Bailie Key is not stranger to the international elite scene, making her fourth appearance at the City of Jesolo Trophy. She comes into Jesolo as the reigning junior all-around champion for two years running. Key was injured and did not take part in the junior national championships last year, but her resume is long and distinguished. Her senior debut has been widely anticipated, and Key will be expected to be a major player for the podium this year. Key is competing the same delightful floor routine from last year, and she has added a double wolf turn. Tumbling upgrades are also expected but were not shown in the training videos. She brings the same strong, consistent beam routine as last year though re-worked and with a wolf full turn. Its on uneven bars that Key shows the most upgrades adding a Ricna + pak combination and a Chow + overshoot to handstand + stalder 1/1 + Ray. Her bars have beautiful flow and form with just a slight form break on her new low bar work. Her DTY on vault showed a lot more form issues than she used to have, but it was just one vault.

Emily Schild is actually a second year senior, but injury kept her out last year so this will be her senior debut. Schild showed a lot of promise at the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup, but has never quite put it all together due to injuries and mishaps. She will be looking to give a solid performance in Jesolo. There were no training videos of Schild on vault, which has been her strongest event in the past. She showed a pretty and well done floor routine in training, but depending on the tumbling passes may be lower in difficulty than many of her US teammates. Her beam routine was clean, showing off her beautiful lines, but had some major form breaks in her back tumbling. Schild has gorgeous lines and a great swing on bars, with lots of great inbar work. However, a number of form breaks keep it from being really solid, but her full twisting double layout dismount is fabulous!

Megan Skaggs is another first year senior, and this will also be her first international assignment. She has a quick and expressive floor routine to some exotic music that is fun to watch. On both beam and bars, Skaggs has a lot of potential with difficult skills and pretty lines. However, she needs to do clean up on a lot of wobbles and form breaks. She pulled around a DTY that landed quite low.

Returning from Injury

Last but not least is Maggie Nichols, who missed out on last years world team selection camp and worlds due to injury after making a name for herself at the 2014 US competitions. Nichols has a great floor routine with a lot of energy and expression, including a piked fullin and a triple turn. She has a nice beam routine with a piked front tuck with a half and a switch ring. She had the cleanest DTY next to Ross. And where Nichols really makes a statement is on bars. She brings in seven connected skills! Toe 1/1 + Chow + pak + Maloney + overshoot to handstand + toe 1/2 + van Leeuwen. Nichols will be one to watch.

These ten world class seniors are all showing great consistency in training. While the gold is likely wrapped up, it will definitely be a battle for the other two spots on the podium. Winning, not just trophies, but helping to position them for selection to a much bigger international competition later this year.

Photo from Simone Biles Twitter.

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.

Kyla Ross Pushes Through Injury


Podium training today held an unusual sight, that of Kyla Ross all taped up. Though Ross has battled some back injuries this year, she is not a gymnast you usually see with a lot of tape on her body. Not so today. “I’m kind of held together by tape right now,” Ross said in an interview with Inside Gymnastics. “The last few days at the ranch, I think I kind of overstretched it doing a few leaps. It’s my hip, groin and hamstring – that whole area.”

Kyla Ross on floor during podium training. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnastics

A few of Ross’ leaps on beam looked a little tentative, not hitting her normal full split. Despite the injury, she looks more polished and precise than she has all year on beam. She did a great floor routine, dynamic and poised, however without her upgrade of a whip to double arabian from earlier in the season. Vault was not her normal clean DTY, however Inside Gymnastics reported that she hadn’t been training vault much throughout the week. She did a beautiful bars set, but with some small form issues. All in all she did four clean, solid routines. If they weren’t up to the normal Kyla Ross standard, they were definitely within reach.

Ross has been working hard to shine at these championships and doesn’t want to let the injury get in the way.  “I have the motivation knowing that I’ve been training really hard all this year,” said Ross. “I really want to come out and compete, give it my all and I don’t want anything to stop me.” She will no doubt give it her all in qualifications, and with two more days of training and healing she will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with.

Ross comes into these championships as the defending silver medalist in the all-around, on beam and on bars. She will be looking to defend her all-around title and top the podium with teammate Simone Biles in the all-around. Always consistent on beam, she has a great chance of making finals on that event and trying to win a beam medal. However on bars, she has had to downgrade her routine this year due to her back injury, and topping teammates Ashton Locklear and Madison Kocian will be no easy feat to make it into bars finals.

Here are her routines from Podium Training.