Sunday, 28 July 2013

Secret Classic

Well that was a very interesting day/night of competition! I have just about caught up to speed on youtube, given the issues with the stream. It's unfortunate that podium training streams were clearer, but I'm very grateful it was streamed worldwide at all, particularly juniors which has not been done before, and perfect quality videos were going up so fast anyway. Loooong post ahead.

First of all, McKayla Maroney has just done herself a lot of favours. Granted she performed her two strongest events only- but how strong they were! Her block on both vaults is still superb, and I don't doubt coaches all over the world are and will be analysing it, if they haven't been for the last four years. The amanar was as lofty as ever and the half-on-layout full-off (Okay saying Mustafina is a lot quicker but I should make an attempt to give it its proper name every so often, since it's not named for Mousse-tafina as stated in the commentary last night) was a lot better than last year. Her technique has improved on it, I don't mean judging by the London EF one as such, but rather Trials, Classics, Nationals- she landed it ever so slightly short each time, but no fear of that this time. She did tuck on it before landing slightly too early but still, really excellent vaulting, and from a gymnast who has had three surgeries since last we saw her. I am not alone in mourning the loss of her 3.5 twist on floor, but maybe she can have the endurance in the future to replace the 2.5-layout with it. In this code she does not need a combination pass so that wouldn't be an issue. Thrilled that she stuck her very neat double arabian, great upright landings on her other passes too. The double layout out of bounds isn't too concerning, it's a brand new pass and with more time in the gym she should be well able to shorten her run slightly. The d-score awarded was 5.8, though her leaps were a bit questionable so she was probably penalised there. Still the highest execution awarded on floor and hopefully she can break 6.0 difficulty with this routine. She has a new shap-half on bars, though we didn't see that in competition. Looking forward to seeing her compete all-around at Nationals, though I don't think we'll see her factoring in to the all-around this year at least. Fierce 2013 debut, and proof once again that she means business.

I am torn about Kyla Ross. She scored very well, had great execution as always, and has upgraded her floor. Unfortunately, she downgraded her beam, fell on her last pass on floor, and her bars were unchanged. As was her vault. It looks like endurance could still be an issue on floor, not sure if it was that or just a fluke but she has stated before that she has endurance problems with a full 4-pass routine so..it's what I'm assuming. Her beam routine was also uncharacteristically hesitant. She stepped up and won the all-around, yet she did not really use this competition to its full advantage trying out things, and her all-around competition was not exactly stellar, with no Elizabeth Price and both Simone Biles and Lexie Priessman not competing all 4 events. I believe she can in fact score as well or almost as well as she did here in Antwerp. But gymnasts who have equal execution like Viktoria Komova if she comes back strong or others, even teammates, with much higher difficulty, have an advantage and her coaches really need to close that gap. If floor is an issue, beam and bars should at least be worked on. 5.7 beam is really quite disappointing. I'm not just saying that because she's not one of my favourites- I find her quite stiff and her gymnastics unexciting- but I love her lines, admire her execution and utter mastery of her routines and I don't want to see her get swallowed up by others. Bailie Key, who is three years her junior, came very close to beating Kyla's AA total. This is a Bailie who was suffering from a stomach bug, did not show upgrades she already has, and went over time on beam. That really should not be happening. Kyla showed stunning work, but I don't think it's enough to keep her head above water as an all-arounder when the juniors turn senior so I'm hoping for more at Nationals.

Bailie. Source- John Cheng/USA Gymnastics
Speaking of Bailie, she was supposed to just do two events due to the stomach bug, and then stepped back into the all-around fray at the last minute. Very admirable, and great routines from her, considering. I wouldn't judge them as the best she can do in the circumstances and quite a few strong juniors helped her along with falls, but I think Bailie made it clear that she would still pretty much be on top had everybody else hit and she herself been fully healthy. A great boost for her heading into Nationals. I really love her style, she's very clean and really sparkles on floor...despite the best efforts of her interesting choice of music. She has more than ever cemented herself as the junior to watch.

And back to seniors, I really enjoyed Kennedy Baker on floor for her incredible tumbling. Perfect 1.5-double arabian- stag and her second pass is more laid out and Dos Santos 2 looking than it was last year. The Downie-Pak combination on bars is just awesome. Unfortunately, she didn't seem to have much life in her, especially noticeable on floor where she was just going through the motions. I get the impression that she's more on the periphery now and that she'll make the switch to college gymnastics when she can. Fellow Texas Dreams gymnast Peyton Ernst on the other hand, is working her way up and up. She's extremely steady and impressed on all four events, especially with her lovely leaps. I thought her DTY was underscored in comparison to Kyla's, both had issues but 0.5 was too high a disparity, from the angle we saw. Peyton seems like a workhorse type, a great gymnast to have in a team final. I'm not so sure about whether she can shine individually just yet, she doesn't stand out enough I think though maybe she can change that with a few smart upgrades. A little more polish and toepoint and she could really be exceptional.

Simone Biles quite clearly had an off day, with a fall on bars, a wobbly uncertain beam, a fall on her last pass and no vault at all, after she crashed an amanar in warmups. I'm not sure what to think. On the one hand, it's Classics and it's always known as a splatfest, we have seen extremely consistent Nationals and/or worlds performances from girls who did badly at Classics before. Simone also had upgrades on floor to contend with which have not been competed yet. On the other hand, she really had trouble with every single event and she did fall at both American Cup and Chemnitz, though two falls out of something like 18 routines doesn't sound like much for the competitions she was at earlier this year. So she can be consistent or not? Was it just nerves or can it be explained by sickness? She did say last week she was at home sick and said recently she's a little under the weather. She cannot be counted out of the all-around just from this competition, but she will need to hit her routines out of the park at Nationals in order to avoid rivalling McKayla Maroney for a specialist spot. That said, her floor routine was incredible until the fall- excellent double double, sky-high double layout-half out which were both almost stuck and a clean 2.5-punchfront which helped absorb the landing she usually had issues with. I wonder what she can do, double-double-stag, full-in double layout, 1.5-tucked full, piked double arabian...that is the plan eventually, and of anyone she is capable. She also has a Cheng in the works. Simone hopefully can learn a lot from her day and come back fighting at Nationals, she's definitely not out of the running for the all-around spot and people who say she is are counting their chickens.
Brenna. Source- John Cheng/USA Gymnastics
Brenna Dowell impresses me more everytime I see her. She used this competition very wisely, throwing some brand new skills like a toe-on Tkachev half (!!!) and trying out some previous upgrades, like a full-in double layout and an amanar. Her bars have seriously cleaned up, with three very dynamic releases, with the middle one only ever done by the queen herself, Beth Tweddle. Brenna's attempted connection, from the Tweddle to a straddle back, is I think an interim measure as she doesn't get CV from that transition, it being too easy. I'd imagine an Ezhova is in her near future, but the straddle back is good practice. Sure she missed the connection in competition, but she nailed it in podium training. Likewise, her beam connections aren't there yet either, but look well on the way. She has a nice skill selection there too but seeing how much she has improved on bars...I'm really hoping she can tighten her form on beam some more. The full-in double layout was a bit clunky but still secure, and the front double pike-leap was perfect. Slightly short on the tucked double front, but in general she achieved a lot and has a good bit of guidance now on things to work on. Smart use of this competition. Her third place, given the new skills, was well deserved and she can certainly better her score. One to watch.

Would-be third place is Abigail Milliet who sadly counted a fall in her exquisite beam routine, but still scored 14.2 for it as she has a whopping 6.4 difficulty. Her bars were really lovely, her DTY was secure and floaty, and her floor was gorgeous. She's very elegant and stylish and with a few upgrades in her bar routine could definitely be very helpful to team USA. Really enjoyed watching her. Madison Desch also had a very nice beam, slightly wavery but that's not a big surprise given her injury and recovery. She did just this one event and petitioned through to Nationals on the back of it and happily succeeded. She has a layout full up her sleeve for the future, and a nice floor.

Laurie. Source- John Cheng/USA Gymnastics
In the junior ranks, hot favourites Laurie Hernandez, Nia Dennis and Polina Shchennikova all had falls, and all on beam with Nia falling on bars also. Laurie went on to dazzle on floor, Nia's arabian still stole the show on beam and her floor and vault too was excellent..but I'm not sure about Polina! Her bars difficulty is very high, but it was, as I thought in the camp videos- a bit sloppy with less than stellar execution and she got slammed for it, almost outscored by Norah Flatley whose difficulty was nine tenths lower. I'm not sure if she can shine as a beam/bars specialist, but it would be nice especially on beam where she has gorgeous work, like her Mostepanova split pirouette in handstand. Laurie Hernandez' bars were bit baffling. She stalders her way through the routine which while impressive, appeared to leave her open to be flayed by the judges in execution, who were quite harsh with her routine in comparison to others. It could do with a bit more variation but she still has three more years before it really matters so I'm not that concerned about her. WHAT a dancer, her floor is just magnetic. A fantastic highlight of the 200+ routines. Nia did not really seem herself, though still showed great work. The arabian, as mentioned, is just jaw-dropping, absolutely perfectly upright. Her floor has 6.2 difficulty which is great to see. Would love to see her point her feet more, especially on bars. A worthy rival of Bailie all the same, despite errors here.

Norah. Source- John Cheng/USA Gymnastics
We need to talk about Norah Flatley. 15.2 on beam out of 6.4 difficulty. She broke that ridiculous connection and still got by far the highest beam score of the day, juniors or seniors. She also went overtime, so really 15.3 and higher when she hits the front aerial-front aerial-side aerial-split jump-back pike. She had the highest execution on beam and on bars of any junior, and bested only by Kyla Ross on both events among seniors. Norah led after two rotations and placed an astonishing fourth overall. This is her first elite competition, and the girls who beat her have been elite for years. What a great competition for her!

Watching Mykayla Skinner made me annoyed. Here is a girl with quite obviously unbelievable talent and an incredible skill set- including a Fabrichnova, double double laidout, bhs-arabian and bhs-tucked full combinations on beam, double double tucked, Cheng and an amanar (not competed). But she's going absolutely nowhere with such poor basics and execution, and with coaches who seem to not care at all about that, her block on vault, and the wisdom of her passes on floor. Her leaps are deplorable, bars and beam extremely messy..the list goes on. What is the point of having her throw a laidout and tucked double double and double arabian when she doesn't have the energy for her last pass? She also fell on a pass in her last competition too, and this time was very short on the double double, done as a third pass. 6.3 difficulty is not much of a reward for a crazy routine like that, they need to rearrange it. This is the first time we've had a good view of her Cheng in action and it was very impressive, especially as she blocks off of one hand. I'm no technical expert but it looks to me as if the vault table is in her way, rather than a medium to propel her. Some moments of greatness, I loved her beam connections despite the wobbles and the laid-out double double was amazing, and definitely laidout. On vault she has enormous potential also. But I don't see it happening for her in elite, and I blame her coaches. Squandering talent, pushing her forward on the back of difficulty is no good when her foundation is so lacking.

The tag team of Lexie Priessman and Amelia Hundley have definitely improved since their showing in Europe earlier this year. Both particularly impressed on floor. I'm happy they're not going full-on with difficulty yet though, and pleased Amelia's beam and bars continue to look better each time.

The junior competition produced several shining gems that I hadn't gotten acquainted with yet, though several names were familiar. Gabby Perea and Hope Masiado stood out on floor for having gorgeous lines, Ragan Smith was stunning on bars, Alonza Klopfer shows nice potential on floor but the best were Christina Desiderio, Molly Frack and Emily Gaskins. They're not from gyms you'd expect- the latter from CGA and the former two from Parkettes but wow were they good. Molly was superb on beam and floor, nice skills and a great performer. She also showed potential on bars. Emily and Christina both did Alexandra Eremia's split planche on beam, it's stunning. Emily has a lovely lightness and elegance to her, she really sparkled on floor and beam and Christina seems to have it all, the skills, potential difficulty, and form. I almost forgot Deanne Soza who seemed very promising, especially on beam where she has quite a lot of skills under her belt- pity about the fall.

Highlights

- Laurie Hernandezfloor. Love the music, tumbling, dance. She utterly owns the floor when her music begins.
- McKayla Maroney's tumbling and vaults. Refreshingly great.
- Norah Flatley's elite debut.
- Abigail Milliet's beam, beautiful.
- Brenna Dowell's toe-on Tkachev-half, and front double pike..and amanar.
- Pure gymnastics. The stream wasn't great but there was no lingering shots of gymnasts taking off grips and drinking water.
- Nia Dennis' arabian.
- Ariana Agrapides overrotated DTY. Awesome, she's not even elegible for Rio.
- Mykayla Skinner's double double laidout.
- Simone Biles' double layout-half out and double double.
- Kyla Ross' lovely high double arabian-stag.
- Kennedy Baker's first two passes and Downie-Pak.
- Polina Shchennikova's mount sequence.
- Molly Frack and Christina Deseridio on beam and floor.
- Lexie Priessman on floor. Great passes and nice choreography.
- Amelia Hundley on floor, great work.
- Bailie Key's assured quality in her work, even when sick.
- Sydney Johnson-Scharpf's dance on floor.
- The height on Nia Dennis' releases, even though she came to grief on one.
- Alexandra Marks' long, lovely lines.
- Emily Schild's, Nia Dennis', Kyla Ross' and Peyton Ernst's killer DTY's.
- In general, the abundance of lovely work among the juniors especially.
- The absence of outrageous scores.

Not-so-highlights

- The absence of Elizabeth Price, Rachel Gowey, Jordan Chiles, Bailey Ferrer, Bridget Dean and more.
- Really bad tour-jete's. EVERYWHERE.
- Not entirely consistent scores on bars and vault, some harsh scores relative to others.
- Mykayla Skinner's bars and beam.
- Bent knees majorly infesting beam.
- Falls everywhere- Nia's, Laurie's, Simone's and Abigail's were particularly sad.
- Meltdowns amongst juniors, sad to see and hard to watch.
- WOGA, minus Katelyn Ohashi, seem to be a bit lost. Nothing really stood out about their gymnasts.

Favourite routines

Beam (junior) Norah Flatley (senior) Abigail Milliet
Vault (junior) Nia Dennis (senior) McKayla Maroney
Floor (junior) Laurie Hernandez (senior) McKayla Maroney
Bars (junior) Bailie Key (senior) Abigail Milliet

Favourite leotards

GAGE! It was lovely, gorgeous purple/violet against the white contrasting arms, a bit of sparkle. Simple but not plain. I also liked CGA, the assymetric white on black one, which reminded me a bit of the 1992 Unified Team's Olympic leo. A great departure from horrendous leos from both gyms. Girls Co-Op had a nice baby blue one with a white firework looking thing near the bottom. Kyla Ross' and Simone Biles both had nice leos, but not amazing. I much preferred Alexandra Marks' version of Kyla's leo. WOGA's leo was too sparkly. Delighted hot pink was not as much in evidence as I expected it to be. Still some offenders, like Ragan Smith and Chow's girls though. McKayla Maroney's leo had too much going on- lose the stripes going around to her back and it would have stood out in its own right much more. Black is a great colour on her though. The Texas Dreams leo was definitely different! Kennedy Baker looked amazing in it, but it washed out some of the others and was too small on some. I'm 50/50 on it, the pattern wasn't that great but I loved the gold. The MG elite leo, the lime green one, really suited Laurie Hernandez but too much mesh and the collar was awful.

Conclusion

Classics is a splatfest. But really, I don't think we're any further advanced with picking the two all-arounders in Antwerp. McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross have further cemented themselves as locks I think, Mykayla Skinner has done damage...I don't believe Simone Biles has, yet. Lots of upgrades shown, lots to hone for Nationals is the real message.

What were your favourite routines, leotards? Thoughts? I've embedded some videos in highlights for convenience.






34 comments:

  1. I felt so horrible for Simone. You could see she was not having a good day at all but it's better to get the mistakes out now rather than later. I'm so excited that Mckayla actually has a real comeback and is serious about it. I don't know if she'll last until Rio but I'd be happy with her making a couple more Worlds teams. I think Kyla said in an interview that they took out some of her harder beam elements for Classics and that they are putting them back in for Nationals. If she has a beam that's scoring what she did in Europe and has a 5.7-5.8 difficulty on floor then I would think she has a good shot to win the AA at worlds. If not, I think the best she could hope for is bronze and that is if others make mistakes.
    I was very impressed with Norah Flately. She was leading for a couple of rotations and a fourth place for her first elite competition is amazing. She really cemented her self as one to watch, imo.

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    1. Hmm, hopefully they had a reason, as in she wasn't hitting the upgrades at all but in general, Classics is the competition to give them a go, not Nationals, so if she wasn't doing them without a good reason, that sucks. Europe scoring was quite generous which is unusual, Jesolo has a reputation for harsh scoring but it didn't happen.

      Ha yes I hope Norah got a picture of the scoreboard at the halfway point! I think with growth she can slowly upgrade on floor and vault and bring them up to scratch.

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  2. Watching Simone have a meltdown was pretty surprising, though even the rock solid Kyla had mistakes. But I agree it probably hasn't done irreparable damage, though she badly needs to hit at Nationals and camps. Mckayla was great, I definitely enjoyed her floor as she is one of the few who can really dance and I now don't have to cringe before her third pass. Watching her DLO really made me cross my fingers that Mustafina can get hers in before Worlds.

    Kyla's probably cemented herself for being a solid competitor and there really aren't any seniors coming close to her on bars now. Promising signs with the floor being upgraded and I think she'll throw in her harder skills on beam for Worlds. Certainly things are looking better now than a few months ago! She and Skinner should swap coaches for a bit, haha. Skinner is doing way too much chucking on all events and has almost no block on her Cheng, it's so flat.

    I didn't watch most of the juniors, but Norah's beam was glorious and she looks so secure and confident with it. I'm really impressed with Chow's ability to coach such different gymnasts - Gowey and Flatley are very classical and elegant and have great flow, just contrast that to Gabby's style and Shawn's power gymnastics. I find that pretty awesome that he's able to work with the qualities of individual gymnasts and bring out the best in them.

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    1. Yes I think we've found the quintessential chucker and it's Mykayla. I wonder how her coaches justify her scores to themselves and her? It's a really crap situation. Stick her in Chows a few years ago and she would be right up there.

      I think Abigail could rival Kyla on bars. Not this year maybe, but next? We do have Nica, Amelia and Polina senior next year I suppose. And quite possibly the return of Gabby.

      Yes, Kyla has cemented herself and looks better for an all around spot. I'm still puzzled at her difficulty though and I do think she will become less relevant definitely by 2015 if she's still around. It was a good opportunity to throw even her bars upgrades!

      I really recommend the juniors I mentioned. And yes, absolutely thrilled with Norah's performance! Disappointed we didn't get to see Rachel's super flighty and high BHS-LOSO-LOSO and her 3.5. That's true, he really has a mish mash, interesting!

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    2. maybe her coaches are being protective (over-protective?) about her growth spurt and are just trying to keep her injury free as much as possible. that's all i've got because they seem to adore kyla and would have her best interests at heart, gymnastics, health and otherwise.

      any other reason wouldn't make sense to me!

      polina's knees on bars really bothered me. there was something bross about them.. i couldn't tell if she was genuinely knock-kneed or she was just having a sloppy form moment. but i agree, abigail looks like someone who has that natural/effortless graceful swing and movement on bars and could do some beautiful work.

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    3. Yes, but she hasn't really upgraded substantially in the last few years. I just think she'll be crowded out and Classics really is THE meet to throw new skills at, not Nationals. Of course we don't know what goes in the gym, but discussing it is still fun and anyway, her coaches are well known as perfectionists.

      I didn't like her bars at all and I'm glad she got slammed for them, it will hopefully force her coaches to focus on her form. Now Abigail, her bars were great! She has a 6.4 beam and Kyla has 6.4 bars..now if one of them had both of those things it would be awesome ha.

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  3. Why wasn't Sarah Finnegan at classics?

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    1. Yes, we don't know how far into her recovery she is, but she had more than one issue. At this stage, she may concentrate on getting healthy for college if that's her goal. I really love Sarah and sad as I am that she wasn't at Classics, her injury (and Maddie's) allowed Brenna to improve massively so I suppose there's that silver lining.

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  4. Superb article! It was fascinating to read!

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  5. How old is Norah Flatley?

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    1. 13. She'll turn senior in 2016, so she's elegible.

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  6. Love the recap! We had a great time at the meet, and came away with many of the same impressions you did. McKayla's routines were great to watch. You could feel everyone in the arena pulling for her as she went. She seems to take such joy in performing, unlike some of the other girls. She really draws everyone right in.

    I was actually pretty impressed by Kyla. She showed a more difficult floor, and even though she fell, I think she can pull it off at Nationals. I was genuinely worried she wouldn't upgrade at all, so a 5.7 floor seems like a big improvement. Definitely, she will be on the lower end of the difficulty spectrum in an all-around final, but with her upgraded beam, she can surely contend for medals. I'd love to see her with more solid difficulty, but for this year at least, I would rather see her compete with routines she can handle. She doesn't seems like she has lots of extra energy at this point. I would be hesitant to want her to push it too much. I do think she will manage to get an AA spot for Worlds for this year.

    Simone was so sad to watch. She seemed deflated. Also, she is so tiny! I did see her hit two great Amanars in the warmup before the meet began, but in her warmup right before vault, she fell in a very scary way. I was very happy to see her get up, and very happy to see her scratch vault after that. I hope she can rock Nationals.

    Everything MyKayla Skinner does is terrifying. I hated watching her because I was sure she was about to get a serious injury. Her coaches need to scale back that difficulty big time. Her vaults were not bad -- she might be able to contend for a world medal -- but McKayla's were so much higher and cleaner, there is just no need for Skinner as she is. I completely agree with your assessment of her and her coaches.

    This meet left me completely unsure as to who could make the worlds team. It did make me think that Kyla would be in the AA, as gymnasts like Brenna and Peyton do not seem capable of beating her this year (maybe next year). I still think Simone will be in the AA as well, but if she isn't, then will she be fighting McKayla for that specialist spot? Who would win that? I think they are pretty evenly matched on their specialities. But if it is Simone (AA, VT, FX), Kyla, (AA, BB, UB) and McKayla (VT, FX), then maybe that fourth spot would go to someone like Abigail Milliet for bars and beam attempts, which I would never have predicted, but seems possible to me.

    Also, Jordyn and Gabby were about 20 feet in front on me for most of the meet, and they were both so sweet to the million obnoxious children screaming their names every 2 seconds. Jordyn also signed a million autographs before the competition, and they all signed a million autographs afterwards. I was very impressed. I would have been annoyed after about 10 minutes.

    Wow, sorry this is so long.

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    1. Great, glad it was fun! Did you see anything funny or interesting on the sidelines? I am so looking forward to being at a meet! I'd like to go to a less intense meet than worlds at some stage but there's nothing I wouldn't have to get on a plane for and I wouldn't really get plane tickets and accommodation for something like Jesolo really...

      Anyway, that's great about McKayla. Did you go to the juniors at all? I'd love to see Laurie's floor live! Yes, I'm really glad about her floor, which I don't think came across very well in the post. I would think her floor is maxed out now, or nearly so. Tumbling, twisting and turns are not really her forte so I don't know where she could even go from 5.7. It's beam and bars that scream upgrades, I'd be thrilled to see her with a 6.3-4 beam and 6.7-8 bars.

      I'd need to see Brenna at Nationals first. I hope her leaps can improve as well as her beam in general, so much else already has in her gymnastics and she's upgrading like an absolute beast so I wouldn't rule her out of the AA, ever. Does Peyton seem like a team gymnast, not exactly individual to you? I think McKayla would win, even if Simone throws a Cheng. McKayla has the experience.

      I thought it was hilarious when you could hear 'Go Kyla!' x1000 when she was just on the podium for vault..not even about go go.

      Haha well my post took forever and is probably the longest I've ever done, so no worries!

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    2. It was funny to see all the big names so close up. Jordyn and Gabby just seemed like typical teenage girls, texting and tweeting (and basically not watching the gymnastics that was going on). I saw Valeri Liukin running around looking frazzled and Marta watching and looking serious, but she was pretty far away. Rita Wieber was sitting directly behind us, in a VIP box with lots of friends and family. It was also interesting to see that MyKayla Skinner was the only gymnast who seemed to have a big, sort of obnoxious cheering section. They had signs that said "show us the Skinner" and stuff like that. They were right by the bars, unfortunately, so they had a great view of her worst routine. I was surprised that other gymnasts didn't have similar sections.

      I didn't get to see juniors, sadly. And I agree that Kyla seems to have maxed out floor. I noticed that both she and McKayla had their coaches spotting them on most tumbling passes all the way up through the end of warmup, so I was nervous to see whether they could actually handle those passes on their own. I hope they will both gain confidence and endurance before nationals.

      I think Brenna and Peyton both seem like team gymnasts at this point, but I definitely think they have all around potential, especially Brenna with her strong vault. I just see it happening more next year for them. If Kyla can beat both of them now even with a fall, then I'm not sure they can improve enough in the next several weeks to best her. Of course, if Simone implodes again at National Championships, then I do think Brenna and Lexie (and maybe Ebee??) would be fighting it out for that spot. But I hope that won't happen, and that we will get to see Simone at her best. I like both Peyton and Brenna, though. They are so different, but similar in the sense that I was never worried for them when I was watching. They both seemed calm and prepared and confident in their routines, and seemed to be having a good time between routines. Even though she missed the bar connection, Brenna's upgrades didn't seem to be too much for her to handle. I think that we have yet to see her at her full potential.

      The cheers for Kyla and McKayla were crazy. It seemed like loads of people in the audience just came to see them, and didn't really care about seeing anyone else. People kept yelling to McKayla while other gymnasts were performing, or walking up and down the aisles during routines and blocking people's views. It was frustrating. Hopefully at Worlds people won't be like that, as it is so much more important of a competition.

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    3. I can't even imagine what it will be like to see someone I've blogged about extensively drinking water a few feet from me, never mind actually compete! Hahaha obnoxious cheering section should so be a thing. Not sure I could deal with hundreds of screaming 8 year olds, but hey worlds will be more serious!

      That's very interesting that they were being spotted so much, I hope both are more confident by Nationals and that McKayla can get her DLO in bounds. Their height is working against them of course since they have to shorten their runs.

      I thought the scoring was interesting. There were no massive overscores at all, and in general bad execution was hammered. Not as much as it would have been had the meet been held in China, but still. I didn't expect Brenna's beam to be hammered like that, of course it should have been but I thought they might have gone a few tenths too far. Regardless, they know they have to work on it more. Brenna is a machine, I also don't think we've seen her full potential.

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  7. I really enjoyed Kyla's floor (until the fall, dagnabbit). Loved her bars. Agree that it would have been nice to see beam upgrades but I'm happy to leave that to people who actually know her, I GUESS :P

    Was surprised at how much I enjoyed Lexie and Amelia's floors (and Amelia's bars). Never been much of a fan before, I'm excited to see them compete more now.

    Brenna's bars in podium training = LOVE.

    Was really pleased with how well Norah Flatley and Nica Hults did. Looking forward to nationals now! Hope they get uploaded so quickly - it was brilliant being able to watch back almost as it happened!

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    1. Haha well discussing is half the fun. I'm happy with her floor, I think that is maxed out for her and it's a LOT better than 5.3. I don't even want an amanar from her if it's going to like her early 2012 one. It's just beam and bars really!

      Amelia, considering she is at least 5'5 has definitely come on in the last year. She looks like a senior in NCAA, yet her gymnastics is still at such a high level which is great. I wonder are there any pictures of her next to Norah Flatley or Ragan Smith? I'm impressed with Lexie too, though I'm kind of glad she didn't so beam as it's really not pretty. I'm wondering can she factor in at the top at Nationals.

      I'm wondering whether Nica can snag a bars/beam spot for team finals next year. I'd think she has a better chance than Polina. NORAH! <3

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    2. I LOVE Amelia's bars. I like how she and Kyla manage their height. I wonder how tall is too tall for bars? I know there's a girl (Bulgarian maybe?) who has the bars raised.

      I will refrain from getting excited about Lexie's beam, haha. I was going to look it up, I might... not.

      I agree with Nica over Polina! Nica just seems to have something a little extra.

      Also loved: Biles' double layout half out (seems an excellent way of controlling the landing too)! And I actually liked Skinner's double double layout and Cheng. REALLY wish she had more guidance to clean up/get her power concentrated more cleanly. She has so much potential and power, but it's causing her more deductions than anything else at the moment.

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    3. That is Jana Sikulova of Czech Republic, she's 5'7. Sandra Izbasa was 5'6 and did not raise the bars. If McKayla is 5'4 and she's third in the lineup then Amelia who's first has got to be heading towards 5'6.

      I loved Skinner's power on the Cheng but the block- she is cheating it really. Could do with a week or two or AOGC for it. There's something about the DLO half-out, I think because you see more of the straight part that makes it seem more difficult than the full-in and double versions, it just looks great.

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  8. I was at the meet on saturday! it was my first meet so it was very interesting. Seeing marta live was definitely an experience. Marta almost seemed more interested in watching warm ups than watching the meet. During the senior meet she only payed attention to McKayla and Kyla. She clapped loudest for McKayla and seemed to be really into her routines. Same with kyla but to a much lesser extent. From that alone, I think that as of right now McKayla and Kyla are on Marta's team.

    Watching the juniors, it was interesting to note that 5 of the juniors in the top 10 are born in 2000 and will be first year seniors in 2016! They are (in order) Norah Flatley, Laurie Hernandez, Emily Gaskins, Christina Desiderio, and Grace Quinn.

    Christina was the only one using this meet to qualify for nationals, so I spent quite a bit of time watching her. She is really excellent on beam and I was impressed with her floor. She fell on vault, her first event, and Donna strauss looked super annoyed. Strauss pretty much only had eyes for Christina as she's their only junior eligible for Rio. The other 2, megan and molly won't turn senior until 2017!

    Alex Marks in the juniors had a really bad day and fell on both bars and beam and ended up scratching her first event as well. It was very interesting to watch Texas dreams, especially the juniors were adorable with eachother. I think Grace quinn is possibly the most adorable junior!

    On a final note, Melissa Reinstadler's mom and her friend were sitting right behind and it was really cute to see them get really excited especially on vault when she scored a personal best, her mom exclaimed "that was her first score above 14!" I also saw vicki priessman, lexie's mom who took Amelia somewhere after the junior meet and saw NIca hult's parents standing up and cheering at her bars awards :)

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    1. Oh cool! Glad you had a good time also. That kind of sucks that she only paid attention to them- what's the point, 2 people do not make a worlds team or future teams. Of course she sees them all at camp but competition is different and I would have thought her focus would be wider than that.

      I thought 4 or so girls qualified to Nationals at this meet? Juniors I mean. She was definitely listed as one of them, but yeah most of them qualified through the meet at the ranch or through verification or other competitions. I LOVE Molly and Christina, must go back and watch some more of Megan as I don't really remember her. Interesting that CGA and Parkettes have such fascinating and elegant juniors!

      Yes I saw that, but hey first real meet so hopefully she can shake it off. Gorgeous lines which I really enjoyed, she's so tall..

      Aww that is cute!

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  9. Even though this competition was a splat-fest, it still tells us a lot about where the U.S. stands this year.

    I was mostly impressed by the tumbling such as Simone's DLO 1/2. Although, I find it interesting that in 2009, gymnasts weren't attempting such hard skills on floor. Now, everyone's chucking DLOs, full-twisting DLOs, and double-doubles. Why (besides a need for a high D-Score)?

    I was overall disappointed with beam, not that there were so many wobbles and falls, but there was no fluidity much less an ATTEMPT at artistry. If judges really do start penalizing 0.1, 0.3, or 0.5 for lack of artistry, the Americans will really get hammered...

    Call me crazy, but I think the U.S. coaches focus more on big skills rather than execution. For example, Mykayla Skinner's coach is focusing too much on getting a skill named after her when he should remember that there's the rest of the routine to worry about as well. Don't even get me started on the leaps. Not just Skinner, but other gymnasts apply too. I don't see why they would perform a skill like a full twisting switch leap when they have bent knees on flics and BHSs.

    Negativity aside, I thought it was great to see Maroney return. She is still sky high on vault and let's hope she gets more endurance on floor. Kyla has always been my favorite out of the Fierce Five, so I hope she won't fade in the background. Bailie Key is amazing considering she did so well despite an illness.

    Oh well...Nationals will be the final decider.

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    1. USA was relatively weak in 09, but so strong and deep now- I think that's definitely a big reason why difficulty on already strong events in USA gym has gone through the roof. They need high d-scores to contend with each other, nevermind internationally, and US gymnasts tend to excel more on power events so that's where the difficulty focus is.

      I was disappointed moreso with bent knees and awful leaps. Not just Skinner, it was everywhere. I don't really think you can generalise all coaches with that, there are plenty, like GAGE, Gym-Max and WOGA who emphasise form, and lots of smaller gyms. It really depends. Skinner is the perfect example of how being your gym's first ever elite can be bad, she's praised and pushed forward on the back of her impressive arsenal of skills, but it all falls down when her execution is spectacularly bad on two out of four events, and hindering your strongest events too. On the contrary, Simone Biles is a good example of this. I've watched the BTR episodes and the Gymcastic interview, her coaches seem to have a good thing going in coaching her, and scratching vault was wise...the extremely experienced Valeri Liukin failed to do this in 2011 after all.

      I'm much less bothered by the DLO OOB than her old third pass! Pretty sure she can keep it in.

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  10. Do you have any scoop on what happened with Rachel Gowey? They listed the Nationals competitors and she wasn't on it. Did she end up getting injured right before Classics?

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    1. I heard she hurt her back. No idea if it's just something that will take her out just for a few weeks- but unfortunately, she needed Classics! I was looking forward to seeing her BHS-LOSO-LOSO and 3.5 twist on floor. It won't hurt her in the long run I don't think- if she was needed for worlds she could be picked at camp, but she could have done with the experience.

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    2. Actually, it may be the case that she pulled out of Nationals. It's not clear whether she had qualified straight through to them or nor.

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    3. Read in comments on TCG that she's had stress fractures in her back... she's not listed on their list for Nationals either.

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  11. Poor Mykayla. She really needs a gym change and maybe (definitely) some work with a publicist. She has all the talent in the world but her coaches clearly have no idea how to handle it and I think it would do her well to work with someone who's more capable of molding her raw abilities into passable gymnastics.

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    1. Or even her parents or a sibling, she doesn't sound any worse than a cocky 16 year old but it doesn't across well on social media and no other gymnast is doing it- there are some more with 2016 in their name etc. but no more than that. I kind of ignore her on social media, yes she could do with a talk about it, but my god the hate she gets over it is so far out of proportion.

      Yes, anywhere that emphasises form! Chow's would be perfect but it's so far. Maybe Texas Dreams? I doubt any elite coach watching her was thinking, wow I would love to mould her, but who knows. It could be that's too far gone, but maybe at Utah they can hone her better.

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    2. Exactly! People are absolutely eviscerating her online these days just over a few tweets/comments she's made (that WERE kind of in poor taste, but still). I know the way she signs her name now with 2(olympic rings in place of 0)16 is way over the top but if that's the worst thing she's done she should definitely be cut some slack. It's not as if she's stolen from fans or gotten in massive trouble, she's just extremely confident in herself and just needs some advice regarding how to represent that to others in a little bit less abrasive way.

      The poor form/overexertion is really a safety risk too, especially in her floor routine. By the end of her floor routine this weekend she looked to me like she was completely exhausted after her third pass. It's so worrying to see a gymnast that exhausted in the middle of the performance. You just have to hope they don't crash any passes grotesquely and take themselves out of competition for a while.

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    3. Yes, the hate is pretty pathetic. It's quite endemic on tumblr like all nasty opinions.

      Yeah the last two passes were just beyond her capability. 6.3 is no reward for it.

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  12. hmm im one of the mykayla non fans but im not someone who posts mean things about her or uses tumblr to vent as i a) don't know the girl and b) have a life. i think it's super poor form to post someone's personal details online and refuse to take them down (i.e triple twists' home address). teenager or not internet security and personal safety is a BIG deal so that type of malicious behaviour rubs me the wrong way. we had it drilled into us at high school ten years ago so there is no way teens today don't realise the dangers of doing this. however i don't think systematic bullying in retaliation to how annoying she comes across social media is the best way to deal with that either. im sure deep down she's a nice enough girl just perhaps insecure and maybe a little lost in how to appropriately handle stuff.

    that said it IS a shame that that sort of discussion detracts from her gymnastics. i really think she could be GREAT on floor. she's fairly engaging and has great potential (i like how she smiles throughout her floor routine) but her coaches are doing her no favours at all. girl needs new coaches, someone who will be real with the girl about her gymnastics and how to portray herself to the public.

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