U.S. Senior National Champions and National Team


Simone Biles made what everyone already knows official. At this point in USA gymnastics, she is in a league of her own. She decisively won back to back U.S. National Championship titles, this time by over four points – with a fall. Over a two day competition, she looked incredibly strong, relaxed and consistent until the very end of her beam routine where she fell. And when you are so far ahead that you are competing with yourself, that is frustrating. But on the scoreboard it hardly mattered. Biles also walked away with the national title on floor and vault.

Kyla Ross won her second silver national all-around title, as well as her second national beam title. Ross is also in a league of her own this year firmly capturing the silver despite two uncharacteristic falls on night one. Ross proved to everyone that she is indeed human on the first day of competition with a fall on floor and on bars. Her almost inhuman consistency and perfection are marveled at around the world, and they returned in full force on night two, where she earned the highest execution score total. 

Maggie Nichols, the only gymnast on the medal podium to hit eight for eight routines, took the bronze. At this championship, Nichols put an exclamation point on her statement from the U.S. Secret Classics. She is a consistent all-around gymnast who can be depended upon to hit on any event. She also won the bronze on bars, an important event in USA gymnastics.

Apart from the three all-arounders, Ashton Locklear made quite a splash at this competition, easily winning the uneven bars national title. Between the national championships and classics earlier this month, she has posted the highest bar’s scores in the world this year with her incredibly clean and difficult bar routine. 

The top six all-around gymnasts were automatically added to the national team. Additionally, four more gymnasts who were named to the Pan American Games team were also added. Ross and Biles, who have loads of international experience were left off the team, letting other gymnasts gain much needed international competition experience. 

U.S. Senior National Team

Alyssa Baumann, Plano, Texas/WOGA, Simone Biles, Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre, Madison Desch, Blue Springs, Mo./GAGE, Brenna Dowell, Odessa, Mo./GAGE, Amelia Hundley, Fairfield, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics, Madison Kocian, Dallas/WOGA, Ashton Locklear, Huntersville, N.C./Everest Gymnastics, Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minn./Twin City Twisters, Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif./Gym-Max and MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz./Desert Lights.

The gymnasts leaving on a bus on Sunday to Canada to represent the USA at the Pan American Games are Baumann, Desch, Hundley, Kocian, Locklear, Nichols and Skinner.

The results for the all-around top six and the even medalists are as follows.

All-Around

  1. Simone Biles, Spring, Texas, 122.550
  2. Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 118.300
  3. Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minn., 117.900
  4. Alyssa Baumann, Plano, Texas, 116.100
  5. MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz., 115.450
  6. Amelia Hundley, Hamilton, Ohio, 112.200

Vault

  1. Simone Biles, Spring, Texas, 31.025
  2. MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz., 30.225

 Uneven Bars

  1. Ashton Locklear, Hamlet, N.C., 31.050
  2. Madison Kocian, Dallas, Texas, 30.750
  3. Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minn., 29.400

Balance Beam

  1. Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 30.550
  2. Simone Biles, Spring, Texas, 30.300
  3. Alyssa Baumann, Plano, Texas, 30.300

Floor Exercise

  1. Simone Biles, Spring, Texas, 31.150
  2. MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz., 30.000
  3. Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minn., 29.000

March National Team Camp


At March Verification Camp. Photo by Simone Biles
At March Verification Camp. Photo by Simone Biles

The final selection camp for the US Women’s Teams competing at the City of Jesolo Trophy, the Pacific Rims Gymnastics Championships and the Tokyo World Cup will be this weekend at the women’s national team camp. These camps are held roughly every month at the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas. Sometimes these camps are to help in training and preparation, but other months they are more the format of a meet. The results of these internal meets help determine the assignments for individuals and composition of teams for upcoming competitions. The March training camp is generally one of these such camps, selecting teams for the spring competitions.

Team USA’s entries for the City of Jesolo Trophy (to be held March 22-23 in Jesolo, Italy) will be announced on Monday at the conclusion of the camp. The gymnasts representing the USA at the and the 2014 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships (April 9-13 in Richmond, B.C., Canada) and the Tokyo World Cup, (April 5-6 in Tokyo, Japan) will be announced later in the month.

Each athlete wanting to represent the US at these competitions will have to show that they are ready to compete full-routines in an international competition setting to Martha Karolyi and the rest of the selection committee. The selection committee will look at their current state of readiness along with each gymnast’s track record to determine the make up of these teams.

Three seniors and three juniors will be selected to represent the US at the Pacific Rims Gymnastic Championships. At least six juniors and six seniors will be selected to represent the US at the City of Jesolo Trophy. The juniors and seniors attending the camp and vying for spots are listed below. Current national team members are denoted in bold. If a gymnast is selected who is not currently on the national team, they will be added to the national team before competing internationally as well.

Juniors

Abby Paulson, Twin City Twisters
Alexis Vasquez, Chow’s Gymnastics
Ariana Agrapides, MG Elite
Bailie Key, Texas Dreams
Christina Desiderio, Parkettes
Emily Gaskins, Cincinnati Gymnastics
Emily Schild, Everest Gymnastics
Jordan Chiles, Naydenov
Lauren Navarro, Charter Oak
Nia Dennis, Buckeye
Norah Flatley, Chow’s Gymnastics
Olivia Trautman, Twin City Twisters
Ragan Smith, Texas Dreams
Victoria Nguyen, Chow’s Gymnastics

Seniors

Alyssa Baumann, WOGA
Brenna Dowell, GAGE
Elizabeth Price, Parkettes
Kyla Ross, Gym-Max
Madison Desch, GAGE
Madison Kocian, WOGA
Maggie Nichols, Twin City Twisters
MyKayla Skinner, Desert Lights
Peyton Ernst, Texas Dreams
Rachel Gowey, Chow’s Gymnastics
Simone Biles, World Champions Centre
Veronica Hults, Texas Dreams

Lexie Priessman, Amelia Hundley, McKayla Maroney and Laurie Hernandez are the current national team members who are not in attendance.

Kyla Ross Sparkles in Silver


Kyla Ross joins the distinguished company of gymnasts Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, Jana Bieger and Rebecca Bross as World Championships All Around Silver medalists. Kyla put in an incredible all around performance, counting only small, tiny mistakes in her performance.

Kyla has put a great deal of time and effort into her artistic and dance performance aspects of beam and floor. Not only did this pay off in the scores on these event, but in winning the Longiness Prize for Elegance. This is an incredibly prestigious award that goes to the athlete who demonstrates the most remarkable elegance during the all-around final of an international competition at the world level.  Winning over gymnasts such as Mustafina is quite a feat, and shows just how much Kyla has improved in this area.

Kyla started off the competition with an almost flawlessly executed vault. She didn’t stick it, but it hardly gets better than this. She has a lower difficulty vault than only Simone, but scored the highest execution score of the competition.

She moved on to bars where she once again scored higher than anyone else on the execution score, and posted the third highest bars score of the competition. It was a beautiful, typical Kyla, bar set.

Kyla moved into beam just barely trailing Simone. Simone put up a good set, but not her best. Then two gymnasts before her fell. I was glad to see Kyla turning away from it all, not watching! Kyla went up and did a beautiful beam routine, earning her third consecutive highest E score of the competition, and the highest beam score of the night.

Kyla pulled into the lead heading into floor. She did a beautiful floor routine with an E score beat only by simone. However her difficulty led her to the 7th highest floor score of the night, and ultimately to the silver.

Kyla, like Simone showed incredible sportsmanship and from this unemotional girl, you could really see that she was just enjoying the experience. She was all smiles. What an incredible, consistent all around performance she put on! WHEN she upgrades back to her amanar, she will undoubtedly be in the hunt for the gold.

Kyla Ross has moved from the event specialist to solid USA All Arounder in her second senior year. She has moved from the youngest to the team leader. She is an incredible friend, incredible cheer leader, and incredible gymnast. It is hard not to be impressed with her.

All Photos by John Cheng and Videos by USA Gymnastics

McKayla Maroney – the Princess of Poise


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Photo by John Cheng

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).

Kyla Ross – The Empress of Elegance


by John Cheng, USAG

Kyla Ross has gone from the Queen of Clean to the Empress of Elegance. Last year, I was always so impressed with her beautiful lines and lightness of movement. But her gymnastics didn’t keep my attention. It didn’t inspire me. No longer. Kyla now commands my attention on every event.

The change is not only in her incredibly improved expression, artistry and dance on floor and beam. Her experience in Olympic competition, the media frenzy, fame and the incredible bond of her team has given her a poise, a presence, a confidence that shows in everything she does. From her interviews to her height, her bright red lipstick to her beautiful routines, Kyla has grown up.

Kyla stepped out onto the floor today in a beautiful red leo with red lipstick to match. She looked gorgeous. And fierce! She was raring to go, always the first one off from the line-up to prepare for the event.

She did a beautiful DTY, but not the best she can do. She had a much bigger hop on her landing than normal, but it is still quite a gorgeous vault.

5.800 (D) +9.366 (E)  = 15.166

Kyla’s has such a light and airy swing and competes bars with a calmness that is almost peaceful to watch. She is a little short on a few of her handstands, but other than that, it was a great routine. Stuck landing and all.

6.400 (D) + 8.733 (E) =15.133

Kyla competes beam like she is dancing in the clouds. Every movement is done with a lightness and a preciseness that just makes it look like she is floating. This was a great routine. She missed one of her connections and had the tiniest of wobbles. But this is a routine I will watch a few times.

5.900 (D) +8.666 (E) = 14.566

I really am falling in love with this floor routine. The choreography is beautiful, playing with little nuances and hits in the music and really expressing the music well. And Kyla is performing it so well. She has great musicality, expressiveness and of course, execution. This is undoubtedly the best floor routine she has ever done. And a stick on her last pass to boot!

5.700 (E) + 8.633 (D) = 14.333

And perhaps where she has grown the most is her ability to interview. She is delightful, humble, authentic and just fun to hear from.

What a great start from our Empress of Elegance!

Simone Biles Podium Training


Ramping up the competition, Simone Biles also looked great in podium training.

Simone has so much power, she is great to watch on vault. In her first vault, she took a much bigger step than usual, but the second vault had her normal catlike landing.

No problem on bars, clean with a stuck dismount.

This might be one of the best beam routines I have seen Simone do. She is attacking the beam in Rebecca Bross style, and just hits. And her landing on a very tough dismount is just awesome!

Some people have said that Simone’s floor routine was one of the few things to get a spontaneous round of applause from the audience. It isn’t hard to see why. Smiles galore, sassy dance, hit leaps and jumps and the best landings I have seen in podium training. This girl is on fire!

Cute girl! She is just soaking it all in, loving the experience and having fun. Just what you want to see in a first senior outing. No nerves here.

All photos and videos by USA Gymnastics

Kyla Ross Podium Training


Kyla looked beautiful in podium training, as always. She has one of the most beautiful DTY being performed with just the slightest of little slides of her landing.

Her bars today weren’t quite as effortless and fluid as usual. In Gymnastike’s Beyond the Routine with Kyla done just before World’s Selection camp, Kyla was having a little trouble on bars and actually said that it was her hardest event. Should we be concerned? Nah. Kyla has been the most consistent bar’s performer of all the gymnasts going for the bar’s title. I am sure that she will put up the same beautiful routine she always does.

Kyla’s beam looked like always- like she is dancing in the clouds. So light and effortless. A small wobble and a bigger step than normal on her dismount. But she looks great.

Every time I watch this routine, I just CANNOT believe how far she has come in her performance this year. This routine is interesting, beautiful, has great musicality and expression of the music. In all honesty, I love it. I never thought I would say that. I LOVE Kyla Ross on floor. She needs to clean up her landings to save on those precious points. But it is as likely for her to stick her first two/three passes as not.

The highlight. Who would have thought that shy little Kyla could become so incredibly comfortable, herself, and fun in front of the camera. Love this girl.

All photos and videos from USA Gymnastics