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.

Who’s Who in 2012: Alicia Sacramone


Continuing my series of our Olympic Contenders, here is Alicia Sacramone.

I will admit it. Alicia is my favorite gymnast. She wasn’t always. I was enamored like everyone else with Shawn and Nastia in 2008. But since her comeback, I have come to respect and enjoy her so much. She is such a mature, inspiring, fun person. And her gymnastics is so fun to watch! Her vault is sky high. Her beam is so dynamic. And her new floor routine is one of my all time favorites! It has passion, beauty, great expression of the music and of course, power!

Alicia had such an incredible 2011 year. She was in the best shape of her life. I have never seen her look as good as she did in podium training for worlds. And then…. she tore her achilles tendon two days before prelims. My heart broke! Now she is on the long road of trying to rehab what used to be a career ending injury.

I think Alicia has to upgrade on vault if she is to make the team. Even though Alicia is a world class vaulter, all of our alll-arounders can currently match or come very close to her score. Though her beam is steady and sharp, we have a handful of gymnasts that can fill the bill on beam. It was looking a little ify on if she was going to get her floor down and I wonder if it is worth it for her to train that with her achilles. Alicia is an incredible team leader and brings so much personality to USA gymnastics. But with only five on a team, I just can’t envision her making the team unless she brings in the highest valued USA vault. She was going to debut her handspring laid-out double twist at the 2011 Worlds. So I am really hoping that she can not only come back to her former strength in the short time she has, but to be able to compete that vault as well!

Why I Love Our Comeback Queens.


You dont see a lot of successful comebacks in women’s gymnastics. Once someone leaves the sport, it is incredibly difficult to make it back. Especially after they have left the teenage years behind. I have been struck with just how hard comebacks are in recent interviews with Nastia and Shawn. The ever positive girls all sound a bit frustrated, a bit tired. There is a reason not many women make comebacks to gymnastics in their 20s. It is HARD.

Here is a compilation of some recent interviews:

Some people say that these girls have had their time, its time to let the next generation of gymnasts take over. After all, look at 2011 Worlds. A team full of rookies dominated. They looked like the most calm, collected, seasoned veterans out there. They hit routine after routine. We don’t need the veterans to win. And I agree. I think that we can win without them. But I think that we can win with them as well! And there is something else they bring that should not be underestimated. Maturity.

The maturity that Alicia, Nastia, Shawn and Chelsie bring to gymnastics is so good for the sport. These young women are incredible role models and they are so inspiring. They inspire ME! And if I had a daughter in gymnastics, they are the people I would want her to look up to. I love watch interviews with our older girls.  They bring depth and personality to their interviews learned from years of being in the spotlight. And there is just something beautiful about their gymnastics. It is seasoned. Mature. Their movement is more graceful, more “full.” Look at the difference between ALL of their artistry and dance from their teenage years to now. I would so much rather watch their current routines. And I hope that I get to see Jordyn, Aly and many of the others as mature gymnasts in the future as well! Creating a normalcy of older gymnasts in the US would do nothing but improve the sport in my opinion.

I, for one, am really hoping that our olympic team is a blend of young and mature. Of superstar young girls and seasoned veterans. Only time will tell if any of them can make it back in time AND stay injury free in our incredibly demanding selection process. But I am rooting for them!