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
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Exactly two years ago, five young girls made history at the 2012 Olympics. It is hard for any gymnastics fan not to get choked up thinking of that night. And if you are just tuning back into the gymnastics world for the upcoming elite competitions, then undoubtedly the status of each of the Fierce Five gymnasts is on your mind. Coming off of the 2012 Olympics, each gymnast expressed their desire to continue in the sport of gymnastics and make a run at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. And so, the question constantly remains – when are they returning?
Kyla Ross, the youngest member of the Fierce Five has not missed a beat since the 2012 Olympics. She has competed at nearly every major competition since then, and is undeniably one of the USA’s shining stars. Ross is expected to headline both the Secret US Classics and the P&G National Championships this August. She looked great in podium training and well prepared for the season.
McKayla Maroney has also continued to train towards Rio despite four, count them four, leg surgeries since the games. Shortly after successfully defending her World Championship Vault title last year, Maroney took a rest from gymnastics to heal up some knee issues. After having some knee pain at Worlds, she discovered she had tendonitis in one knee and a fracture in the other. Unfortunately rest was not enough and she finally underwent surgery in March. Maroney had six to eight weeks of therapy following surgery, and was released to return to training in late May or early June. She assured people in an interview with International Gymnastics (AWESOME interview that you have to watch!) that she will be working hard to be back for P&G National Championships and World Championships this year. However, she has yet to return to a national team training camp and has not yet released any information about her competition status. Update: In a social media video she made today, Maroney said that she would not be competing this season.“I just want to say how much I appreciate you guys following me, supporting me, being there for me even though I can’t compete this season with my injuries.” She also gave a great interview to USA Gymnastics catching us up on the details of her injuries and her commitment to Rio.
Gabby Douglas made her serious return to training this spring with a return to her former gym in April. After her trial period with coach Chow was over however, she decided that this was not the best training option for her and has set out to find a new gym to make her bid to Rio. She is currently training at Buckeye Gymnastics, however it is not known if she will stay there long-term. Douglas impressed Marta Karolyi at the June National Team Training camp with her level of physical fitness, however Karolyi was hoping to see her compete at the Secret U.S. Classics and the P&G National Championships to help determine if she would be ready to compete at this year’s World Championships according to an interview with NBC Olympic Talk. Douglas is not competing this weekend at Classics, though it has not yet been announced if she will be competing at the national championships later this month. Update: New coach Kittia Carpenter of Buckeye gymnastics confirmed that Douglas will not be attempting to comeback to competition until 2015. Check out the full story here.
Aly Raisman announced earlier this year that she would be pacing her comeback slowly and focusing on attending her first national team training camp after the World Championships in October. A few videos have come out as well as an interview here and there that indicates she is training seriously and working hard, just pacing her return to competition. She will be focusing on 2015.
Jordyn Wieber is the one member of the Fierce Five who has not yet resumed training at the elite competitive level. From all appearances, she thoroughly enjoyed taking a year off from gymnastics and any heavy training to attend her first year of college and be team manager for UCLA gymnastics. Though Wieber has maintained that she is working to stay in shape, she has yet to announce a decision about a serious return to competitive gymnastics. She maintained for the last year that she wanted to try a year of college and then decide what to do. As we are coming up to the start of a new school year, it seems that her decision should be coming soon.
In the current regime of USA Gymnastics, the likelihood of most of these incredible gymnasts being able to represent the USA at two Olympics is slim. The nature of the sport combined with the incredibly successful system that is currently in place makes it difficult for the older gymnasts to compete with the young fresh talent coming up. However, if anyone can do it, the Fierce Five can. With two years to go, there is still time for each of them. Though with the realities of gymnastics, the ticking of the clock is always a loud sound.
McKayla was not impressed on the podium, she was delighted. At the end of an exciting vault final, where McKayla was really challenged by others, she seemed to drink in the experience while the anthem played. Her eyes sparkled as she smiled a deep smile of contentment and a little giggle.
This was a great vault final, opening up with two beautifully executed, stuck vaults from Giulia Steingruber from Sweden. These were the same two vaults Alicia Sacramone won her world title with.
Next up Yamilet Pena survived another handspring double front attempt. She did not however, get it to her feet. It is a bit of a mystery. She always looks so upset that she didn’t make it, as if she really thought she had it. Yet we rarely actually see her make it. She falls on her second vault as well. Not a happy camper.
Oksana Chusovitina completes two clean vaults with some not so clean landings. But seriously, the fact that she is still competing and making finals is just mind boggling. Phan Thi Ha Thanh followed her with a fall and near knee injury. After her was Chantysh Netteb who fell on her vault and did injure her knee. Her vault was super high and clean, so this was surprising, and so sad.
Then the competition heated up with the top three gymnasts all at the end. Simone Biles threw a powerful and clean Amanar apart from her ankle cross. Almost sticks it and then has to take a hop back.
Her second fault was a thing of beauty. Great height and distance with perfect form! This most definitely put up a huge challenge for McKayla.
Next was Hong Un Jong. She had submitted the TTY to be named after her, so speculation was rampant. She hadn’t actually done one in Antwerp, so it seemed unlikely that she would throw it at the finals. If she was going to win gold, she needed to throw it. But she was almost assured a medal if she stuck with her Amanar. And to the relief of American fans everywhere, she stuck with the Amanar. After all, if she competed it, it was not likely to be a great TTY, and it just feels “right” that it should be called a Biles or a Maroney. (Won’t that be interesting if that is determined soley by competition order in prelims next year? How do they decide that?!?). Anyways, Hong did a powerful Amanar with lots of power to spare, but a huge bounding step forward. Not enough to surpass Simone.
And as we all assumed it would, in the end it came down to McKayla. But this year, she had to have two great vaults to win. And that she did. She did a gorgeous Amanar that just barely landed out of bounds.
And a great second vault as well with just a small step to defend her World title.
The American team really has become something special in their bond to each other. A huge hug between McKayla and Simone, lots of laughter and smiles as they walked to the awards podium. What a great pair.
Step One on her four year path to Rio and an Olympic vault medal is complete. And done in the ever impressive Maroney style.
Tomorrow (Saturday October 5) are the first two event finals of the World Championships. You can watch live in the US here starting at 8:30am EST.
The 2013 WAG World Championship vault finalists in the order they will compete (start list) are:
218 STEINGRUBER Giulia SUI
133 PENA ABREU Yamilet DOM
233 CHUSOVITINA Oksana UZB
238 PHAN Thi Ha Thanh VIE
191 NETTEB Chantysha NED
229 BILES Simone USA
200 HONG Un Jong PRK
231 MARONEY Mc Kayla USA
Their qualification scores were:
McKayla Maroney USA 15.641
Simone Biles USA 15.550
Hong Un Jong PRK 15.249
Phan Thi Ha Thanh VIE 14.966
Giulia Steingruber SUI 14.799
Oksana Chosovitina UZB 14.750
Yamilet Pena DOM 14.683
Chantysha Netteb NED 14.516
The general predictions (and I agree) for this event finals are pretty easy. The top three will finish the same way they qualified:
McKayla Maroney USA
Simone Biles USA
Hong Un Jong PRK
The plot twist will be an possible half twist. Hong Un Jong has submitted a Triple Twisting Yurchenko to be named after her. If she is able to add a half twist to her amanar and stay on her feet, she will undoubtedly win. We have yet to see her do the vault, but anything can happen in a World Championship Final!
McKayla has gone through so much in the past year, it truly is quite amazing that she is not only at Worlds, but has improved since last year. Three surgeries, media frenzy, meme fame and a changed life. She has made no bones that she has some unfinished business called doing her best at the Olympic vault finals. So between now and then, she will give gymnastics her all.
Though vaulting is what she shines at, she really wants to be an all-arounder. And floor is her favorite event. So it was incredibly meaningful for her to be able to compete all around in the qualifications. She didn’t have her most spectacular day, but she did really well.
She started her day out on floor. She had a number of small bobbles on her landings and her leaps weren’t quite all the way split. But it was really a great routine. Many on the gymternet felt like she was really underscored here.
After seeing her INCREDIBLE vault in podium training, this amanar was anticlimactic. But it was a normal, amazing vault from McKayla.
Her second vault however, was one of her better ones.
McKayla is not known for her bars. But this was most definitely one of the best bar routines she has ever done!
On the other hand, this beam routine was most definitely not her best. Getting into the swing of competing beam again often takes some time.
As always, the highlight of the day was McKayla’s interview. Such poise, so much authenticity, and so much grace. i fall more in love with this girl every interview.
She only qualified into the vault finals, being another victim of the 2 per country rule on both floor (where she tied with Kyla Ross but the tie was broken with Kyla’s higher E score) and the all around (where she placed 5th in the world).
McKayla Maroney is doing all around on the world stage! Marta had said this was the route she might go, but it is really exciting to see McKayla finally have this opportunity. She has worked so hard for it this year.
We have seen the 2012 team Olympic vault replayed so many times. Could this one even be better? I know the 10.0 in execution seems to be gone forever. But come on people! Award this kind of brilliance!
Bars is not McKayla’s strength. But she does have a nice swing, and this is the tightest form, most well executed routine I have seen her do.
She fell on one routine and stuck another, This seems to be a compilation of the two.
All pictures and videos by USA Gymnastics
She shimmies and shakes and and swoons with the best of them. And this vaulter can tumble. Really impressed with both the upgrades and the consistency of McKayla’s floor.
McKayla has, in my opinion, become one of the best interviewees in the sport of gymnastics EVER. Well, okay, maybe equal to Alicia Sacramone. But she always has authentic, heartfelt, interesting, non-trained things to say.
As has been the case since her entry into the senior ranks, McKayla Maroney is the heavy favorite to win the Vault Championship. McKayla is firmly committed to training through the whole quad and making the Rio Olympic team. Wouldn’t it be an incredible feat for her to win Vault gold every year along the way? Though it seems ludicrous in the sport of gymnastics, It is an actual possibility for McKayla. The fluke fall on vault that lead to one of the most popular memes ever, that lead to a hunger and desire to compete four more years may have been one of the best things that ever happened to McKayla- and to gymnastics fans. Because most likely, it WAS a fluke that will not happen again. And as long as she continue in gymnastics, McKayla will grace us with the most incredible vaulting display we are likely to see.
For those of you that have never seen McKayla vault in person, let me assure you that it is one of the most magical things you have ever seen in gymnastics. Cameras just cannot capture the speed and power with which she gracefully barrels down the vault runway. The explosion that is McKayla coming off of the vaulting table. And the way she continues to gain height as she twists through the air. There is nothing else like it.
Simone Biles comes in a close second to McKayla. To look at her, it would seem that she could out power anyone in the world. And she almost can… anyone but McKayla that is. Simone doesn’t get quite the explosion that McKayla gets, but she makes up for it in her catlike landings. Though she has yet to do it in a competition, I have seen her stick two amanars cold in warm ups. Simone will make a definite run for the podium.
Next up as a vault contender is Hong Un Jong from North Korea. Hong Un Jong won the 2008 Olympic gold medal competing the same difficult vaults she will be competing at Worlds. It is amazing to think that she is still capable of that level of competition! She actually comes in with the most difficulty that will be completed. If she is able to compete them cleanly, she will be a front runner
With such a small field, we were able to see each and every gymnast compete at this senior national championships. This was such a treat! Here are all the national champions, the best routines on each event, and your new national team. All photos and videos are from USA Gymnastics.
1. McKayla Maroney
2. Simone Biles
3. MyKayla Skinner
Without a doubt, McKayla’s amanar on day 2 was the highlight of vault. A 9.7 execution score for a 16.0.
1. Kyla Ross 30.95
2. Simone Biles 28.95
3. Brenna Dowell 28.75
Kyla’s routine the first night scored the highest of the meet, a 15.5. Her bars are just breathtaking.
1. Kyla Ross 29.95
2. Simone Biles 29.9
3. Kennedy Baker 28.95
Kyla Ross needed a 15.45 to tie Simone in the final routine of the night. A big wobble kept her from it, but she still put up an awesome 15.2.
1. McKayla Maroney 30.1
2. Simone Biles 30.0
3. MyKayla Skinner 29.75
McKayla Maroney is making the case to be on the world team as a floor specialist as well. Three stuck passes, gorgeous turns and leaps, performed her heart out… THAT was a floor routine. 9.15 execution on floor…
I walked into the arena and was immediately struck with how different the atmosphere was from last year. Last year at Nationals, the air was electric with the tension, nerves and excitement of an Olympic year. This year felt so relaxed and laid back in comparison.
I took my seat next to an older African American gentleman. He was really nice and as we chatted I asked what had brought him. He said he was Kyla Ross’s grandpa! Turns out I was sitting near a few family members. Kyla’s uncle was there, and we were sitting behind Mike and Erin Maroney. And then I had a celebrity sighting…. Tarynn Maroney!
Tarynn is McKayla’s little sister… she is without a doubt going to be a star and is so incredibly cute. Anyone who follows McKayla on twitter is treated to a bunch of adorable pictures of Tarynn and the sweet relationship between them. Erin was playing on her iphone with one of those cute brass rings case. We had a fun little chat about it. Mike’s face lit up when I gushed about how cute Tarynn was and how much I loved her on twitter. But the highlight of my evening was watching Kyla’s proud grandpa cheer her on and bringing him up to speed on some of the intricacies of gymnastics. I sent a tweet for him wishing her luck.
After the competition, I went with @lchops96, @jennifercarolyn and @SpannyTampson to a fun little Irish Pub for dinner. And after a while, who did we spot, but Al Trautwig and Andrea Joyce! And after a bit, Tim Daggett joined them. We tried to subtly take pictures by pretending to be taking pictures of each other. Which made us laugh a lot.
As dinner wrapped up, I decided that I am way too old to be fangirling. So on our way out I asked them for a picture. I told them we were gymnastics bloggers and Al said “Oh no, you are going to use this picture to say this is the idiot (or something like that) that I always tell you about.” Tim had been on a podcast with Spanny and had to go to great lengths to explain what a podcast was to Andrea.
After the pic, Tim and Al politely went back to their group, but Andrea stayed for a short but hilarious conversation. We were talking about how Kyla has grown up so much and she was reliving an interview when Kyla was a junior – complete with a Marta impersonation and a discourse on vitamix. She was so much fun!
Today I am looking forward to the 50th celebration and the induction of the Fierce Five into the Hall of Fame. Oh yeah, and some more incredible gymnastics!