What I am “Secretly” Looking Forward To


I wonder how many play on words we can use around the Secret U.S. Classics? Corny puns aside, I cannot wait for the competition to begin. Here are some stories to watch and what I am looking forward to.

Debuts

Anna Li will be debuting two new events and competing in the all around. Nastia Liukin will be competing for the first time in three years and will be debuting her beam. Jordyn Wieber will be debuting another upgrade, this time on bars. We will see many gymnasts compete for the first time this year, including Sabrina Vega, Chellsie Memmel and McKenzie Wofford.

Proving Consistency

Gabby Douglas is out to show that she is a serious all around contender for London. She is out to show that her performance at the American Cup was not a fluke and that she can be consistent and hit all four events. Rebecca Bross is out to prove that she can be counted on for bars and beam despite a shaky start at Jesolo. Sarah Finnegan will be out to show that she can seriously contribute on floor and beam. And McKayla Maroney wants to make her contribution on vault hard to ignore with her practically Olympic gold medal lock vaulting.

My Highlights

I very much want Gabby to go out and prove herself! I can’t wait to see Sarah Finnegan’s floor and beam and am hoping that she will have all of her upgrades. I desperately want Rebecca Bross to show who she is on beam and bars and am looking forward to the fierceness of Chellsie Memmel.Regardless of where it takes her, I can’t wait to see Nastia on beam again. And I am really hoping for a good all around battle between Douglas, Raisman, Ross, Li, Memmel, Finnegan and Maroney.

Don’t miss it on Universal Sports or livestreamed on universalsports.com at 5:00 pm!

 

 

Rumors and Previews of the Secret U.S. Classic


There is nothing secret about the Secret US Classic (so named for it’s sponsor). Plenty of bloggers are on site, Gym Examiner is giving live updates, USA Gymnastics and Gymnastike are posting podium training videos and the seniors will be live-streamed and broadcast on Universal Sports. It’s enough to make a gymnastics fan do cartwheels of joy! As we gear up for the competition tomorrow, here are the rumors and things we can expect from the U.S. Secret Classic.

All Around Competitors

After so many gymnasts announcing that they would just be doing a few events, I began to despair about the all around for this meet. But it is looking like it might e a great competition after all. In fact, it might give us a preview of that coveted second all around spot for the Olympic team. Gabby Douglas is apparently doing the all around after all according to an article in the Des Moines Register. Aly Raisman will be competing all around, as will Kyla Ross and Anna Li. Chellsie Memmel still has to qualify to nationals so she will be competing all-around as well. Many others may join in the fray, but we will have to wait and see. Either way, it should be be a great competition!

Upgrades

According to camp videos and podium training videos, we have upgrades galore – and not surprisingly most of them are on bars. Anna Li, Brandie Jay, McKenzie Wofford and Wieber all have upgrades on bars from the last time we have seen them. Sabrina Vega has upgrades on beam, McKayla Maroney has upgraded her second vault and has minor upgrades other places.

Beautiful  Routines

Despite a US reputation, we might be in for a real treat on floor. Sarah Finnegan is absolutely delightful to watch on floor – her poise and style are light, elegant and refreshing to see. Anna Li will be debuting her new routine as well. Is it a floor routine or a heart pulling, dramatic and breathtaking dance piece? I am not sure! It is incredible though and a treat to watch. And of course we will be treated to the beautiful lines of Nastia Liukin as she returns to competition on beam and Kyla Ross.

We will finally see a few more pieces toward completing the puzzle of our US Olympic team. It should be a great weekend!

April National Team Training Camp


April National Team Camp Line Up courtesy of USA Gymnastics

Gymnasts making a bid for a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team attended the last national team training camp at the Karolyi Ranch April 20-30, before the series of U.S. based competitions to select the team begin. The camp schedule started with media time, conditioning and a short workout on Saturday followed by two days of verifications. Sunday, the gymnasts verified their current progress on vault and bars to Martha Karolyi and the rest of the national team staff. Then on Monday, they showed their readiness on beam and floor. Photos from the camp can be seen on the USA Gymnastics Facebook page. Looks like the girls had fun.

2011 World team champions Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Sabrina Vega, Alicia Sacramone, Alexandra Raisman, Gabrielle Douglas and alternate Anna Li all attended the camp.  2009 World all-around champion Bridget Sloan, 2009 World silver medalist Rebecca Bross, and 2012 City of Jesolo Trophy all-around champion Kyla Ross were also present. Other senior gymnasts vying for a spot on the Olympic team in attendance were Amanda Jetter, Brandie Jay, Elizabeth Price, Brenna Dowell, Briana Brown, Grace McLaughlin, Sarah Finnegan, Mykayla Skinner and McKenzie Wofford.

Gymnasts were expected to verify at least two full events at camp. This requirement led to the noticeable absence of 2012 Olympic hopefuls Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin and Chellsie Memmel.  USA Gymnastics released the following statement regarding their absence on Facebook:

“At this stage of their training, they were unable to fulfill camp expectations, which were to verify at least two full events. They have decided to continue their training at their respective clubs in order to participate at the 2012 Secret U.S. Classic.” (USAGymnastics)

The process to determine the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team will continue with monthly training/verification camps and three major competitions. The first competition, the 2012 Secret U.S. Classic is just 3 1/2 short weeks away. It will be held in Chicago, Ill. on May 26, 2012. This will be the last qualifier to the 2012 Visa Championships, which will be in St. Louis, Mo., June 7-10, 2012. The top 8 all-round finishers from these championships along with any other gymnasts the Selection Committee chooses will advance on to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials-Gymnastics held June 28-July 1, 2012 in San Jose, Calif. The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team will be named at the end of the competition.

If I were Martha- My April Olympic Team


Martha Karolyi has said that there are a handful of times through the process of choosing the Olympic team that she says, “If I had to pick the team right now, who would I take?”  I am guessing that after two international competitions, this is one of those times. There are so many unknowns, so many “what ifs” that it feels almost impossible to pick the team that will go in July. But if I had to pick a team to go now, here’s who I would take.

Jordyn Weiber, Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney. My alternate would be Rebecca Bross.

This team is no surprise to most fans. I think with what we know right now, it is the pretty obvious choice for many people. With this team we have a powerhouse for the team final, two definite all around contenders, and a great possibility for a medal in each apparatus finals. I like it.

Check out the videos below to see what team finals would “look” like.

Vault: Aly, Jordyn, McKayla (+Gabby in prelims)

Bars: Jordyn, Kyla, Gabby (+Aly in prelims)

Beam: Gabby,Kyla, Jordyn  (+Aly in prelims)

Floor: Gabby, Jordyn, Aly (+McKayla in prelims)

The questions that remain are how the gymnasts we haven’t seen much of this year will perform. And of course, who will stay healthy and consistent.

Can Bross regain her former competition steadiness at her former level of difficulty? If so, I think she goes – and not as an alternate. Can Nastia come out as a possible gold medal bars worker? If so, I think she goes even if she has no other events to contribute. Can Alicia regain her floor and beam and upgrade her vault? If so, she might beat out Maroney.  She would be useable on more events, especially as a lead off on beam and maybe floor. Then there is Shawn Johnson, Sabrina Vega, Bridget Sloan, Chelsie Memmell, the Caquatto sisters, Sarah Finnegan and Anna Li. And all the other “surprises.”

Yes, this is far from decided.  I think in the end we will have 3 all-arounders, 1 bars specialist and then one bars OR vault specialist. Martha has said in previous interviews that she would possibly take 3 all arounders and 2 bars specialists. But, I think if Gabby and Kayla or Rebecca are our all-arounders, then it would make the most sense to take a bars specialist and a vault specialist. Only time will tell!