Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Highlights of Glasgow

Yup, definitely still wishing worlds was yet to come instead of finishing a few weeks ago.


Glasgow is a great city, I really enjoyed it. Not exactly spectacularly different to Dublin...certainly they have the same mild at best-wet and cold at worst weather systems, but that's okay since I don't have much time for the sun anyway. I'm getting good at picking hotels and always aim for an old one that's not a dump. Our hotel was not only a spectacular Victorian behemoth of a building, it was right in the centre and above the train station, which was a whopping 2 stops away from the arena. Seriously convenient. Glasgow seems to have a bad reputation here, most people made a face and suggested Edinburgh instead, a very nice city which spectacularly lacked the main reason for going in the first place. I get the impression it used to be a rough place but you can tell a lot of work has gone into regenerating it and I always felt safe, even on Hallowe'en night which is a spectacularly dangerous night back home. Very friendly place.

The arena itself is fantastic, very fancy. The seats are tiered quite high and I'm not happy that the 'priority' seats released first afforded me seats in the upper tiers only, despite buying a few hours after release. Clearly I am dedicated, do not shaft me on this. I'll know next time not to go ahead and buy, I just thought that was the availability. Lol. Antwerp was very, very different. Anyway, the view was fine, I just suffered jealousy of the people with seating much lower down. But it WAS good to get a great overall view, and our best seats were for the AA which was most important to me.


I never realised that introductions were missing from worlds, but it really added a lot to the atmosphere and it was wonderful to see teams and individuals recognised like this, with their huge flag behind them and some very catchy music-sometimes even matching the gymnast in some way. Nice bit of hype-building and I really hope that's not the last we've seen of it.

Diverse finals/better depth

It was just great to see much more diverse finals than we are used to, echoing MAG almost. This hasn't been an overnight change, but was more noticeable than in past worlds I thought. It's a big jump from the last Olympics and will be interesting to compare to Rio's finals. Vault was as usual the most diverse, but beam wasn't far behind for once. Two Dutch girls. While beam itself has suffered bigtime this quad and inconsistency even among the best is still a major issue, the fact that it's less deep than last quad is balanced out for me by the refreshing different styles on display, afforded by the diversity of the finalists. If only they could stay on the beam.

Floor and bars are stronger than ever, which is very exciting and bodes well for next year. And that was a floor final without Aly Raisman. Considering the quality of this year's floor final, there were quite a few big names missing. When you think that next year we'll be expecting Simone Biles, a second American such as the aforementioned Aly though medal-winner Maggie was certainly a worthy finalist, Ellie Black, Giulia Steingruber, Shang Chunsong, Ellie Downie, Claudia Fragapane, Larisa Iordache/?? Catalina Ponor ??, Vanessa Ferrari, Sae Miyakawa, Ksenia Afanasyeva and more to be vying for places...

On bars, the standard has definitely been raised. There have always been routines of the calibre the 4 gold medallists showed (what a sentence) but not quite so many. And there are plenty that are right behind them. The fact that most routines are fairly similar and shap-heavy is a bit of a drag, but some managed to stand out, such as Shang Chunsong with multiple releases, and Ruby Harrold for her unique skillset. A great routine to cap off the final.

The AA rankings both in qualifiers and finals were certainly an unusual mix, it was great to see Giulia Steingruber qualify 2nd behind only the untouchable Simone Biles and even though a fall on beam put paid to a repeat in finals, it really bodes well for how far she has come as an all-arounder. A shaken Romania clawed back to great places in the AA, from which they were completely out of the top 10 in qualifying-Larisa Iordache of course admirably clawing her way to bronze and Laura Jurca showing her potential finally to finish in 8th after qualifying 22nd. The best though was seeing Mai Murakami completely unexpectedly finishing 6th. It will be great to see Russia have more of a presence in the AA next year hopefully, with Seda's inconsistency putting paid to any glory there, but it was nice to have the focus more spread out.

GB Bronze Team Final

I don't think anyone expected that, and it blew the roof off. To get their first ever team final medal on home soil is just incredible. Seeing their reactions when the score came in and the realisation that their vault scores had been enough - it looked like they didn't let themselves believe it could be even after Russia imploded- was just such a great moment, historical and heartwarming. I didn't think it was possible-they are still a team that are on the way, having made huge strides but still affected by issues such as depth and messy form lowering scores, and of course it's a team final that didn't have Romania in it and had Russia counting no less than 4 falls-but it comes to the same thing, it doesn't matter what you CAN do, unless you can put it together when it counts like in the team final, and GB certainly accomplished that.

Netherlands qualifying for team final

Up there in terms of achievements with GB's medal. Who'd a thunk it? Doubly fantastic since it means they've qualified a team to the Olympics. Their greatest achievement to date on worlds and Olympics stage was Celine Van Gerner placing 12th in the London Olympics. Competing singly for her country, since NL haven't qualified a team to the Olympics in a long, long time, if ever. And this isn't even through the Test Event, but directly through worlds. This is a team who I was hoping would individually make a final or two, so that I would be able to watch them in person, but I never anticipated team final. One of those elegant types to enjoy watching but withhold hope from. They definitely had some issues in team finals, which was perhaps not surprising, but were nevertheless glorious to watch from the very moment they came on stage and performed their stunning and elegant salute, encompassing all they are as a team.

Netherlands individual qualifying and finals

Staying with the Dutch girls, I was flabbergasted to see Lieke Wevers qualifying 5th into the all-around. In the best way. Considering her start values, it highlights how vital execution and expression can be to scores, and how seriously FIG can take it. Sadly, Eythora Thorsdottir was just barely knocked out of the AA herself, but snuck into the beam final. Of course, she proceeded to have the oddest fall there but she was in good company with 50% of the finalists falling and it was still great to see her in person. I didn't dare hold out hope that Sanne Wevers would hit in the beam final, after qualifying second but having a nightmare in team finals-no outright disaster but failing her connections and thus a composite requirement, but lo and behold, beam silver! Brilliant result!

US steadiness

When you see teams with enormous potential dealing with enormous flaws- such as mass inconsistency from Russia, chronic lack of depth, political issues and abysmal bars from Romania, lack of depth, politics and power from China, form issues, lack of depth and minor inconsistency from GB etc. etc....it is just so GREAT to see a team nail everything. 12 solid, hit routines. Not only do they show power and consistency, but confidence, and the skills are always secure, you never have to hope the gymnast will rotate it fully. It's refreshing. Their qualifications performance was just so jarring and odd, but never fear, they were back to their robotically solid selves when it counted.

Watching Simone Biles in person

History in motion, she is fascinating to watch and it's fun to think that I've so far been able to see her in action twice, considering she will go down as one of the most legendary and talented gymnasts of all time. It's just bizarre to be blown away by her routines and know that she still has more to give and the potential for yet more difficulty.


Getting their act together for team silver. I've become too used to falls and mistakes from them, and qualifications did not inspire confidence, so I was thrilled to see them so solid in finals. Not perfect, (why can you never stay on the beam Wang Yan??) but 11/12 and a really quite super vault rotation of all things is still not to be sniffed at.

Shang Chunsong 4th AA, general hit record

She has previously stood out at worlds for all of the wrong reasons, so to witness her hitting again and again (yup, fell off beam after waiting far too long for the judges in quals but...just quals) and coming so close to beating Larisa Iordache was wonderful. She'll always be let down as regards AA as long as she carries a flat FTY, but to come so close is impressive. It's also nice to see her become the face of her team, and gain a ton of fans. The spread of her story has definitely helped, and has helped explain her circumstances etc, but I do feel a bit uneasy about it considering how detailed it is, just wondering does she know or did she give permission for all of it. Anyway, to come away from worlds with 2 4th places and one of them undeservedly low is disappointing, but she still has great performances and showed more of her potential than she has previously on the international stage.


Coming back from being a complete nonentity in the all-around and a meltdown in the team finals to shine in event finals, with no less than 3 golds and 1 silver. Despite some qualms about colours of some of those medals, there's no doubt they were impressive and it's great they were able to make a comeback.

Harsh scoring

I definitely have some issues with individual scores but overall, I felt the scoring was harsh and fair. It was reassuring to see them come down hard on things, on a relatively equal playing field.

Last but definitely not least..

Meeting the Biles

Still feels bizarre to have been invited to meet them, and very flattering to have my blog recognised. I had a great morning to start off event finals day 1, lovely people.

I'll probably do a part 2 to this, with lowlights, routines, things like that. Definitely still more to talk about this worlds. What were YOUR highlights? Favourite unexpected hitters? Or moments from off the competition floor? Best hair bow?

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Event Finals

I'm definitely still in the post-Glasgow slump. Hard to believe it's been and gone, when I've been waiting for it since the moment Antwerp worlds ended.

Anyway, last things first! How about those event final podiums?

I've gone through vault already, and my opinion hasn't really altered. I think the top two were deservedly close, but the edge was with Hong un Jong. When they are both performing the same vaults though with their own set of flaws, it's so hard to call. I'd like if the podium was slightly reshuffled, but I'm definitely not mad or anything. It was really sad to witness Giulia Steingruber injuring herself after already fearing the worst when she put up 5.8 for the second vault. Thankfully, it looks like she avoided doing any major damage and will still be good to go for Rio. I really love how diverse that final was- USA, China, Russia but also Mexico, Switzerland, North Korea, Great Britain and India. Another low point was Dipa Karmarkar's Produnova- looking forward to the day they are either removed or no longer worth the risk-and also Alexa Moreno Medina's lack of mastery of her vaults, they were really just about rotated and a complete scramble.

Bars though, definitely had crazy judging. A tie was justifiable, but not 4-way. The podium to me should have been Viktoria Komova-Gold, Fan Yilin-Silver, Daria Spiridonova-Bronze. Daria had a few too many handstand errors to be further up, while Madison Kocian is possibly justifiable for a tied bronze. I think that while she is very dynamic, she has too many tiny form errors adding up such as leg separations/bent elbows. I'm not sure if this was visible on any streams, but each time a score came in, the big screen showed it against the current highest score, which was pretty cool. For bars they used a different 15.366 every time as current highest, but when Vika's score came in, she showed up against herself as the score to beat. Highlighted how very weird the whole thing was. Interesting podium ceremony to witness too! Very curious to know if there will be repurcussions from this...hopefully not future tie-breaking at worlds.

I went into beam without any high hopes, knowing that most finals these days have a ridiculously high number of falls. Even with that though, I held out for Wang Yan to medal and the Dutch girls not to fall. Eythora had the unwelcome draw of first-up, and had such a strange fall. Looked from my angle and from watching it back that it was salvageable, but I'm glad she even made the final and it was still a glorious routine, though a bit frightening when her head veered back near the beam after dismounting. The biggest shock from Viktoria Komova's routine wasn't that she had a major error, but that she didn't jump off in resignation like we are too used to seeing time after time. A nice routine otherwise with the usual gorgeous form, although it was overly hesitant. I can't enjoy watching her beam because it's too nerve-wracking and she rarely flows anymore. What was somewhat funny was the shock and negative reaction to her score from the crowd around us when her score came in, who seemed to have forgotten the major save and how costly they are. I've seen some comments around that the best part of the final or the 'real victory' of it was her not falling, which is really quite sad. Anyway, back to business of beam finals with more actual falls, from Ellie Black on her full twist, Wang Yan on her layout and Seda Tutkhalyan on her layout full. None of these were a surprise, all 3 have been splatting regularly all yearThey all seem fully capable of their high difficulty, but seem to get a bit lost in landing of their hard skills in a competitive setting. Hopefully they can rework things a bit, even downgrade, to get proper consistency.

Thankfully, we were graced with some hit routines. Simone Biles pretty much nailed everything, I was particularly pleased her 2.5 wolf had no wobbles and her Barani-once a vulnerable part of the routine-was completely secure, everything after that especially the super-flighty BHS-LOSO-LOSO series and practically stuck dismount was a bonus. Considering how sadly used we are to seeing several wobbles, broken connections and really hesitant work if not outright falls from top routines, it is such a relief to see such clean, difficult work in a flowing routine. Lieke Wevers, as the second qualifier, stepped up to the plate and delivered a gorgeous routine. Not quite as steady as she can do it, but it was much closer to her lovely quals routine than the messy TF one. Pauline Schaefer also had a nice routine -plenty of little wobbles-but nothing serious. It's well composed and impressive even without her own skill in it. I love this podium, but that was a rough final. Far too many falls and major errors. I'm over this quad's beam and looking forward to whatever FIG have in store for it after Rio.

Floor was such a great final routines-wise, so deep. But the podium...not happy with it at all. Simone Biles had yet another great routine and claimed gold by a mile, no arguments there, but silver and bronze are questionable. Ksenia Afanasyeva completed her tumbling and leaps with ease, not so much her turns though. She received 0.3 in d-score for a turn she did not complete, bearing in mind Shang Chunsong did not receive credit for a turn she did not complete. Both were obviously not around, so where was the consistency there? Afan's routine was a bit lacklustre by her old standards, little expression or enthusiasm and just dull, but it was the d-score that I had the major problem with. It didn't deserve to be in the top half of the scoreboard as a result. I would have put Sae Miyakawa in second- she had a glorious routine, super clean tumbling with only 2 slightly short landings to mar it and really and truly deserved a medal. Shang Chunsong had the floor routine of her life-such a pity she didn't complete the turn, but even with that, she deserved a slightly higher score. It seems like they are killing her for her legs/knees in twisting passes (which isn't even clear in real time), but not killing Maggie Nichols, whose leg form is much looser/untidier in her tumbles. Both were great, I would have had them tie or Shang barely ahead.

What does your floor podium look like? Who would you have put ahead on bars? What are they going to do with beam to fix it? This time exactly a week ago it was all over....aghhh the realisation that the next European worlds are FOUR YEARS AWAY...

I definitely have more stuff in my head to post, moreso reactions rather than rehashing competitions, in the next few days.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

What a day

Just a short one because I only have my phone and blogging on it is a bit painful in terms of long posts. Having a brilliant time at worlds and I have a LOT to write about but today gets a special mention.

First of all, I was invited to breakfast by none other than Ron and Nellie Biles, Simone's parents! They are fans of my blog. I am a big Simone fan so it was a great experience to meet such lovely people, I feel very grateful and honoured. Worlds is even more fun when something completely unexpected like that happens.

Secondly, what a competition! I don't even know what to say and I'm really looking forward to watching the broadcasts. It was obvious vault would be close, but I'm not sure what to think about the podium order. Both Hong un Jong and Maria Paseka had excellent vaults, but I thought Hong would have just edged it. Not quite as dead centre as Paseka perhaps (I'm a need the stream to verify that) and she did have deep hips on one vault, but they were overall much neater as Paseka's vaults are definitely marred by the huge straddle-like leg split she has on blocking. One of those results that could go either way I suppose, but a tie if not an outright win for Hong sits better than me. It was great to see Maria's emotion though after a so-far worse than mediocre showing for Russia.

Simone was always going to have her work cut out for her for gold, given that she has 0.8 less difficulty than either of the other two, so she would really have needed sticks for both vaults, or almost sticks. Although she managed it in qualifying, I think her ranking was fair this time around given her landings.

And bars. LOL bars. On the one hand, this was another that was always going to be close so a tie was not hugely surprising. However, a record-breaking tie like that is beyond bizarre. To me, Viktoria Komova seemed to be just that bit slightly ahead of the pack. Most of the rest had more tiny errors, less dynamic, flattish releases, flexed feet, shallow inbars, bent elbows. Madison Kocian is a fabulous bars worker, very zippy and precise but I do think she has more of these tiny flaws than the rest and falls slightly below their level. I don't think too many would have pegged her for gold. Not that anyone would peg 4 girls for gold anyway.

On the one hand, ties are fun. Gold for everyone! All of the amazing routines are world champion routines! But it does scream of inadequacies in the judging system that so many couldn't be separated. The debate about that will rage for quite a while I think..

Sunday, 25 October 2015

This is why predictions are a fool's game

I was thinking about doing them earlier this year, but couldn't get any kind of proper idea of podiums together at all, so I abandoned it. Which is just as well because..

Romania are not only not in team finals, they're far from it, in 13th place. I was afraid they would struggle to make TF earlier this year with news of lack of motivation and poor scores..then less afraid when Catalina Ponor came back again. It's not surprising that they missed it, Romania have been heading in this direction for years, but it is shocking when it actually happens- and it to miss by so much.

China had their best rotation on vault, and then completely messed up bars and beam. And floor, though that's not a surprise. They had major issues but also suffered from some dodgy scoring it seems. My hope is that they can only be better than this in team finals, not least because they only have to field 3 per event.

Giulia Steingruber qualified second to the AA, ahead of Gabby Douglas. Both had falls, so they're equal. Gabby is not competing at her full level of ability, or her 2012 level, but she is nevertheless very strong so it's seriously impressive for Giulia, who continues to steadily improve, to surge ahead of her.

Japan competed super strong, despite losing a key player to injury recently, and qualified higher than anticipated. They are always steady but their difficulty usually makes them hover much lower.

NETHERLANDS are in TF and are going to Rio! This is a beautiful team but I didn't hold out hope for that as they're also quite inconsistent. Not only was the team effort super impressive but they also have Lieke Wevers 5th in the AA and Sanne Wevers 2nd in the beam final and Eythora Thorsdottir 8th! Sanne's beam was a highlight for me.

Team USA were fractured and nervous, not showing their usual businesslike consistency at all. For the first time since 2010 in worlds or Olympics, they had a fall. 4 in fact, from 3 routines from 3 girls. This is not what we're used to, not from this level of talent. Of course, they still qualified 5 points ahead of anyone else, but even that doesn't change the fact that qualifications went about as bad as it could have for them.

Aly Raisman was shaky and showed none of her usual rock-like tendencies when she competes for her team. OOB on the layout was a disaster and knocked her out of floor finals, then compounded with the bars fall, huge bounces on her amanar landing (on what was otherwise quite a nice one for her) and a very safe downgraded bean routine meant she was also knocked out of the AA final. No individual finals and she was practically a given for AA and floor silver!

Some things though, are not that surprising..

Larisa Iordache was always going to have an uphill battle to be anything like the gymnast she was last year, having a tough year injury-wise and team pressure wise. It's not too shocking to see her far down the list of AA qualifiers, although it is sad. I was very much hoping she would knock it out of the park somehow and show herself capable of AA bronze. She COULD still do that, but it's looking unlikely.

Simone Biles was her usual superhuman self, acing everything and leaving everyone else in the dust. Her 15.933 on floor means she could have fallen and still qualified first which is just ludicrous and says everything about her ability. It also makes dirt of the argument that she would never score anything approaching 16 for it at worlds as she had been doing in the US. Beam has where she's shown more vulnerability (well, any) and the wolf was the culprit there, but I don't think she'll have any major issues and it wasn't enough to prevent her qualifying first. Nor was the fact that she competes a 5.6 vault enough to stop her doing the same on vault, where's she's up against girls with 0.8 more difficulty. Killer execution is still important it seems.

What is great about this worlds is how open it is. Gold is a lock on some events, but precious little else is. There's a huge amount of non big-4 in event finals and high in the AA qualifying list...more than I can remember seeing in the last few years, and that's always a positive thing. Team bronze is up for grabs, so is the AA and floor after Simone, vault is going to be tight, and bars is an interesting one. The scoring of the Chinese gymnasts is going to be shaken up in event finals when they're all on an even keel. Not to mention the prospect of a Dutch medal on beam. I am EXCITED.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Back...just in time :)

I think it's a sign that Chrome will NOT let me sign it to blogger there and I have to use internet explorer that I suck at blogging this year. This is due to a combination of a job that is bananas, killer fatigue, a ridiculously addictive book series taking up my time, and not having a laptop most of the time. BUT anyway, worlds is HERE and I'm flying out on Tuesday! At about 7am but hey, the flight cost a tenner.

At the moments my thoughts are much less cohesive than usual, it's difficult to catch up. I just watched most of Russia's qualification which was very interesting and I'm now watching USA's podium training stream. I tried to watch Romania's qualification, but the unblocker won't work for it. Another sign....by all accounts it would be a depressing, frustrating watch so I might be better off giving it a miss. I will try GB's next though. The most impressive thing from Russia's qualification is probably Seda's save on her layout full. I'm not used to impressive fights to stay on from them, it was great.

I'm fairly surprised at Mykayla Skinner being officially named as USA's alternate. It doesn't make a whole bunch of sense, since she is the best non-Simone EF medal hope that they have. I could not be more thrilled that Brenna Dowell is finally ON the team, WILL compete, AND will get a named skill! I just want all of the good things for her and am so impressed she is in this position at all. Not only are they potentially squandering an EF medal though, Mykayla is of little use on beam and bars so not exactly number 1 alternate material. Of course, it doesn't really matter when they have such an insane advantage anyway, but they normally act as if every tenth and medal count so...yup, surprised. But pleased. I was so sure it was between Brenna and Maggie. Maggie of course looks far too strong to be 'just' an alternate....but she doesn't stand out enough to be used extensively otherwise, and she would slot in anywhere.

I'd like to also belatedly chime in with the general sentiment on Alaina Kwan and Kylie Dickson competing for Belarus. It stinks. It was of course already dodgy enough considering neither girl has any connection at all to the country and has never been there, but to replace their own National Team girls without even an attempt at equal footing for places is pathetic. I cannot read/watch interviews with the two girls either as they have no idea what they're doing other than 'Yay worlds!'. They are young, but they should be coached a little better. One of the more infuriating phrases was how they described the US team as being 'already picked' without any sort of appreciation that they are nowhere near the standard required, and did not even make Nationals....aghhhh. I must remember to check up on how they're doing now.

I'm still absorbing the news that Romania won't make team finals. Mental. In a way, considering how weak they are, fresh injuries and their star not at her best, it shouldn't be surprising. But it's so shocking! I feel like I can't really comment on team's performances yet until I work my way through the streams. I'm impressed by what I saw of Russia but I've seen precious little else.

Back to the stream for now. I cannot WAIT to see Simone live in action again. I will post a bit during worlds but since it'll be my phone, it won't make for 'proper' posts either.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Every single Nationals leotard ranked

Except podium training because I am but one person. Here we go!

And the winner is....

Olivia Dunne Day 2. This is perfection. Black makes the best background, and the mesh is pretty with not too many sparkles. The design is so original and striking, and perfectly proportioned. This is a dream and has nothing I would change. 10/10

Honourable mention

MG Elite Day 2. This was the best photo without pesky obscuring medals. Stunning colours, and I love how the fade is vaguely vertical, it's unusual. Somewhat celestial. Gorgeous sparkle patterns on this too. 9.5/10

Read on for the rest of the 63 leotards in total...

Monday, 17 August 2015


I'm going to do this post differently to the usual, I've tried twice and both times gotten completely bogged down in it. Definitely some post-Nationals exhaustion going on- GMT makes it an ordeal! So I'll do it in a Q&A format, mixing up juniors and seniors. Feel free to add questions in the comments and I'll stick my view at the top of this post.

Are you happy with the order of the junior podium?

Ideally I'd like Deanne Soza on it. She is everything....except competitive fire but she has time for that hopefully. I was sort of rooting for Jazmyn as the underdog as she really surprised me even though she already has last year's title. But she gave it away on floor...although they only took 0.2 for her out of bounds when it should have been 0.4 but that was enough. Not that I don't love Laurie. Ragan has improved a ton, really enjoying her beam and floor in particular. A pity her bars are letting her down and her vault block is still dodgy but the vaults themselves are secure. So yes, I'm happy with the podium.

Shouldn't Gabby Perea and Morgan Hurd have made the national team?

Although Gabby would have had she not fallen, I doubt either of their coaches expected it at this point of the season so it's unlikely the girls fully expected it if they hit. Gabby is so young and although Morgan is 2001, she hasn't been elite that long and her routines are still getting there, her difficulty is quite low. The spots will be saved for seniors but next year when only Jordan Chiles will be on the NT, they'll be added. Probably at January camp.

Cute incoming! Copyright USAG/John Cheng

What's wrong with Kyla Ross?

Seems to be endurance. Whether it is her typical reduced endurance compared to others or is directly related to a niggling injury is impossible to know. Worlds is still 2 and a bit months away which is a lot of time. There's no point in writing her off at this point. If she is consistent at September and selection camp she could make the team. She may be better off taking a break and focusing on Rio though.

Who should be the second all-arounder at worlds based on Classics and Nationals?

Gabby I think. I am torn between her and Aly for it. Aly's bars duhhh are a weak point but they are better than before and they score decent internationally so they mightn't be a hindrance. Her amanar though...needs to improve or be dumped as it's currently not worth doing. If anyone can though I think she can. Not that it will be beautiful but I expect it to be secure. On the other hand, Gabby showed consistency and is strong everywhere. She wasn't perfect but there was nothing worrying. It's possible she could bring her amanar back. But Aly is soooo reliable and has a monster floor to balance out bars. Hmm.

Why was Nia's d-score on floor so low on Day 2 when she hit her passes?

She didn't do the front full before the double tuck, so she lost 0.5. Not too sure if that was intentional or if she realised she was slightly off and it would have killed the pass. Nor did she do it Day 1 but the judges closed their eyes and awarded it 5.7. Sigh.

Favourite junior Texas Dreams army member?

Emma Malabuyo I think. She is just lovely. Abigail Walker is too cute, so tiny!

Biggest surprise this junior season?

Jazmyn. I really thought she would fall back, seeing as she won last year in the absence of Bailie and Laurie. Although she's lacking a standout event - at least until she gets more comfortable with her tumbling - she is super strong, and so consistent. A mini Aly in the making. Would love to see her clean up her foot form on bars though. Sydney Johnson-Scharpf was a nice surprise too. After creating a buzz a few years back, she seemed to be fading and was plagued with inconsistency and dreadful bars. Major improvement even though she still fell. While her bars will never be pretty, they're noticeably better. And her floor complete with Dos Santos is amazing! Delighted she is back in the game.

Best improvement between Classics and Nationals, junior and senior?

Brenna Dowell. WOW. Fluke falls on both events at Classics...to killer AA sets both days. Hands down on bars day 2 but doesn't really take away from her achievement. To go from training only 20 hours a week during college with just a few elite skills retained to this is incredible. I'm beyond impressed. Delighted she's been invited to the selection camp but unfortunately, US depth is more than likely going to squeeze her out, again.

Brenna is perfection. Copyright USAG/John Cheng

What about Laurie's floor?

I....don't like it. It has grown on me slightly but I can't like it. I've defended her style a billion times but this one crosses the line for me, I think it's her facial expressions. So unnecessary. She also has far too many static exaggerated poses that interrupt the flow. I'd like her to draw back a bit.

Just say no. Copyright- USAG/John Cheng

Feelings on Jordan Chiles?

Jordan is enormously talented with killer potential. She unfortunately remains extremely inconsistent. I thought she would have progressed more as a competitor and I think the amanar was a bad decision. I'm unsure if she will be made as much as she could be at her current gym.

Most shocking fall?

It's a toss up between Simone on floor or Aly on beam. The solidest of the solidest on super-strong events for them. Just plain weird.

Saddest fall?

A good few contenders but I'm going to go with Gabby Perea on beam. She was doing so well! And she's so young with gymnastics beyond her years in terms of precision and polish.

How about that shamrock leo?

I for one am THRILLED it wasn't mentioned in the broadcast. Either the trio did their geography lessons or didn't need to, which would be better again. I don't expect people outside of the British Isles to understand the complicated make-up of the UK and how Republic of Ireland is NOT in it but part of Ireland is blah blah...but if you're pandering to Glasgow as the host city with your music and plan on incorporating colours etc....then you need to get these right. Pandering is fine with me, once some very basic research is done. Although I'm sort of hoping she makes the team and wears a leo with a big Welsh dragon on it because that would be hilarious LOL.

How about the senior podium?

Well gold was a given. Interesting that Simone has increased the lead she had in 2014 with a fall, and with fantastic competitors who weren't around then. Silver and bronze were very much up for grabs and I thoroughly enjoyed that fight. I was delighted for Maggie who was the model of consistency and of course, continuing to show her crazy improvement on 2013-2014. And it was great to see Aly up there too looking like she never left.

Most baffling composition/skill?

Bailie Key's beam! The layout caused major issues day 1 and she was still short day 2 even with the obvious extra effort that went into it. Clearly, they've worked out that this is her best option. I think if she could hit bhs-loso-loso then she'd have it, it's the obvious choice and is valuable this code. The layout needs to become a pike so she can land it seeing as it will never get layout credit anywat and she can work up d-score on turns and leaps, or they could try out bhs-arabian if she has the lift for that. Or arabian-walkover. Something.different.please. Her dismount needs to be dumped too, she gets no set on it and the deep landing is a killer. If she can't get the triple full around, I wonder could she do a 2.5? Or even a double tuck, for a better landing.

Skill-wise, the wolf turn. Although it was everywhere in varying levels of competence, the worst was Texas Dreams. Not one of them can do it, and yet they all do. I get the thinking behind it, I know it's valuable. But it's also a crime.

Favourite junior beam?

Ragan Smith. A joy to watch. So confident and solid, and difficult too. Except the wolf because of course that was hideous.

Pick a worlds team based on Nationals?

A lot can happen in the next 2 months. Simone duhhhh. Aly, Gabby and Bailie. That's really all that is needed to decimate the field. As I said before, I'm hesitant to include Mykayla for a vault medal when that's not really guaranteed. Pretty deep field there. I'm taking Maggie as a guaranteed solid team player usable anywhere, and has an amanar for TF. Number 6 is one of Mykayla, Madison or Kyla. Impossible to call.

Who has shown the best comeback thus far between Aly and Gabby?

In competition, Gabby. Not without flaws, but not with falls or dodgy errors either. Shows room for upgrades nearly everywhere except floor, I think that's maxed. But she has looked extremely dodgy in PT, whereas Aly has looked amazing all of the time in training, and was great in Jesolo. She has actually increased the height on her tumbles and has worked hard to improve problem areas. Aly edges it, barely.

What are Nia's chances this year and next?

Slim. Not making Pan Ams was damning. I'm glad she had good performances at Nationals and am hoping she can add back some of her difficulty and get her form back on track, it's definitely deteriorated. She still shows crazy potential but I'm not sure with the depth that she'll get the chance to shine this quad especially with so much to work on still. She is also seriously injury prone.

Favourite senior bars?

Ashton Locklear. I prefer her line on bars to Madison.

Thoughts on Emily Gaskins?

She's not standing out, and has deteriorated unfortunately. I don't see a whole lot happening for her and I don't think all of the gym changing has helped at all, rather the opposite.

Favourite under-the-radar senior?

Lauren Navarro. Not a good competition for her but I really love her beam.


Emma Malabuyo. She has stunning work. Also Trinity Thomas, she's quite powerful without being wild.

Best redemption from last year?

Cristina Desiderio. She fought bars and won, so pleased for her and a well deserved 5th place.

Fiercest routine?

Simone's Day 2 beam needs to be mentioned. The determination and almost anger was brilliant to watch. Taking absolutely no nonsense from the beam with a much smoother barani landing after awful trouble all week, and cements it all with a stick. Amazing.

Most impressive on floor - Simone or Aly?

They are both ridiculous. I can't pick.

180! Copyright USAG/John Cheng
Worst overscore

Jazmyn receiving only half of the OOB deduction that she should have done. It was way too obvious for that to be excusable, ridiculous. Or Simone's vault which was not as good as Day 1 and wasn't stuck....scoring higher, receiving the stick bonus. I almost forgot, just like the judges, Nia received CR for a requirement she did not fulfill on floor Day 1.

Major future talent that underwhelmed?

Morgan Hurd. Not that she wasn't noticed, just related really to the low difficulty she has. But she has got it all. Also I am majorly hoping Deanne Soza gets it together. Have you SEEN how perfect she is? These two are the queens of form and technique AND they are both from unknown gyms.

Most bad-ass moment?

Aly landing an amanar with her leg completely locked in a stance that would break so many....and no big deal, not affected. Surreal almost.

So what's Simone's next step?

Further world domination. The 2015 AA and FX titles, and VT (upgrade dependent maybe for gold again?) and BB medallist. Record breaking 4-time National champion next year, and another haul in Rio. Un-freaking-believable gymnast. We should never 'call' anything or any medals but once she's there, that's it.

Gymnastics-wise, I'm sure they'll be firming up that barani. Possibly a bit late for the Mustafina bars dismount, so I doubt we'll see that or the potential Khorkina this year. I think the Cheng is quite possible, since it was planned for this year.

Most important thing to take away from this meet?

The seniors are aiming to peak in October. The juniors are getting podium experience, trying out typically a lot of upgrades and tweaked routines and it does not matter if they splat all over the place, unless they never do anything but.

There were just so many great leotards going on. They're going to get their own post. As I mentioned at the top, if you want to ask me any questions directly I'll edit them into the post. Hard to think of all aspects of what I watched.

Who made your week? Or broke your heart? Favourite routines? Biggest surprise? Favourite lack of geographical knowledge embarrassment?