I think it's fitting that on this day we get a glimpse of the amazing McKayla Maroney in action, since she is a favourite of mine.. Trying not to be biased here but she had three surgeries with the last in December and is only back a few months in the gym. No bother to her it seems..as she unleashes not just the amanar (and her second vault from 2011, the Lopez) but a brand new double layout! Her coach also taught Mattie Larson her own amazing version of this skill, but even so it's not one I would have envisioned for her. We have seen tantalising double layouts before like Jordyn Wieber's that never materialised, but McKayla does look stronger than before so with extra stamina on floor it would slot in nicely. Maybe 3.5, double layout, 2.5-front layout and double arabian. She's more of a twister so I think she would find this easier than taking out the third pass and slotting in a double pike to end instead. She used to do a double arabian so that's not new but its return is very welcome since her knees are glued together..how often do you see that? Inga Sckarupa, Anna Myzdrikova and Sarah Finnegan..nearly as rare as a TTY! As for bars, hmm. They are better and I wasn't afraid watching them that she was about to majorly mess up, a definite improvement. The dismount has always been spot-on, maybe she could double it if she has the stamina.
USAG are trickling out the videos, yesterday showed Brenna Dowell and Kyla Ross, also training new skills. I've harped on about Kyla's lack of difficulty before but I really hope she has more in the bank than what's she's showing here. The bars and beam combinations do look nice and will bump up her score, it is floor that's quite disappointing. Double tucks are too easy, whips or not. She needs to chuck her beam one too. Here's hoping for a lovely Geinger-Pak-Stalder-Shaposh and maybe side aerial-LOSO-wolf jump-sheep...double pike dismount. And a floor with no double tucks or twists! It has been suggested that the floor skill could be a timer for a whip-double arabian. Here's hoping! I find it hard to get excited about Kyla's gymnastics, as lovely as her lines are there's very little spark to her..which doesn't just come with difficulty. Regardless, I want her to do well as she has enormous potential and it would be a shame if she was crowded out and bumped into NCAA too early. Come on Kyla, 6.6 bars, 6.5 beam, 5.9 floor and 5.8 vault!
Now Brenna is really busting out the big skills. Here comes the first showing of her amanar..and a thoroughly unexpected full-in double layout! Brenna is an extremely hard worker, acknowledged by her coach as his best gymnast in that regard, and she has made great strides of improvement in the last year- her bars have cleaned up bigtime. Not that they are perfect, but they are a lot better. She favours front tumbling, by contrast to just about everyone else, so these huge back tumbles are a real surprise. I love how clean it is when she begins the twist in the full-in, though it's hard to tell if she pikes down or not, it seems like she does but I don't think it's significant enough for actual downgrade. This girl could be a real surprise, and a super solid contributor for team finals.
Here is Rebeca Andrade's amanar! It's not as clean as some of the best, but it's so floaty and easy for her..just like McKayla Maroney's in that sense. She beat British powerhouse Tyesha Matthis who unveiled a double double, but she also fell off beam and her DTY to counter was not enough. The meet was barely publicised, fielding two Brazilian teams against a whole host of British clubs. Jade Barbosa won the senior AA..looks like a junior AA was not contested as such judging by the lack of number 1 beside Rebeca's name. Competition was not fierce and Jade appears to have struggled, but still an encouraging result given her recent return to the gym. Sadly Ruby Harrold looks to have had major trouble with her bars again. The results are here and here. It's worth noting that Rebeca is missing a compositional requirement on bars (a release), so that's why her d-score is so low. Beam and bars ARE very promising but need a ton of upgrades. Watch the vault here.
Romanian and Chinese Junior Nationals start this weekend. Not all of the Chinese girls will compete, but a sizeable proportion. This is more important for Romania who are looking to EYOF of course. I think that team depending on size has pretty much pointed itself out though- in order of importance: Andreea Munteanu, Andreea Iridon, Madalina Blendea, Laura Jurca, Silvia Zarzu with Paula Tudorache maybe worming her way in.
Stale news by now but Oksana Chusovitina won the Trnava Gymfest AA. She posted the highest scores on beam and bars, just pipped to the post on vault by what must have been an incredible DTY from Anna Pavlova, who managed a 15. Oksana also claimed the vault title and placed second on beam. Anna won the floor event final. Full results are here.
I've updated the list of gymnasts turning senior this quad. You can find it here. All gymnasts marked with an asterisk are new additions to it, and all worth watching if you haven't heard of them! First and foremost if you only pick one unknown to watch would be Elizabet Vasileva, who is a rythmic-artistic crossover. All (European) girls born in 1998 and 1999 are elegible for EYOF. YOG is 1999 ONLY, and restricted to one per country. Junior Euros next year will be for 1999 and 2000 girls. I was sooo excited when I heard new senior Maddie Leydin verified a Counter-Kim-geinger combination. Sadly, though I had hoped it wasn't an error- it is; she actually does a Markelov-Geinger combo. Included in the same routine are a Ricna, Pak and shaposh, pretty impressive!