Very disappointing that Nia Dennis retained her inconsistent streak, falling on both of her rafter-scraping releases. There was no stopping Bailie Key with four more stellar routines, and Laurie Hernandez cleaned up on floor with much better landings. I'm also liking her beam the more I see it, I hope she regains her BHS-LOSO-LOSO, because even if hers is flat..it's a cool series. Unfortunately, while there were plenty of clutch performances, there were a lot of meltdowns other than Nia's splat central on bars, both Ariana Agrapides and Alexis Vasquez completely fell apart on bars, damning their chances of making the National Team, which indeed- neither of them made, despite killer potential. But the reason is simple, the junior national team goes by AA placement, not potential. In the case of Ariana, I don't think they would have expected her to make it as she's not up to scratch on beam or bars yet, though incredibly strong on vault and floor. Still, she has a LOT of time, not turning senior until 2017. Alexis would have easily made it over Polina Shchennikova but that bars routine dragged her right down. Speaking of Polina, her day 2 did her no favours, compounded by a weak performance day 1. She has gorgeous lines and leaps, but not a whole lot else at this point and her bars routine was a but of a mess form-wise.
Norah Flatley and Vanasia Bradley also show a lot of potential, hoping for great development with these two. It would be great to see the WOGA girls, Nadia Cho especially, continue to build difficulty on their pet events because that is their ticket to teams and while WOGA remain unbelievably weak at vault with non-spectacular tumbling, they aren't going anywhere near the all-around.
|Nia. Copyright- USAG- John Cheng|
Bailie is an interesting gymnast. She doesn't have the spark, amplitude or dance of some of the other girls and you would think that would make her boring, because clean gymnastics alone are generally not enough. But somehow it is, and I think it's her mastery of all four events as well as the many upgrades she's planning- Bailie is NOT a 5.4 bars difficulty gymnast and her beam too has more skills in the works. Nia, hmm. She's a star in the making, but obviously needs more consistency as well as polish. I'm very happy that her form and her leaps are surprisingly good. Perhaps straightening her knees before letting go of the bar before a release will help her out- it looks to my non-technical eye as if her knee bend drives her too high and that's the problem, making them very difficult to catch. That said, I am in LOVE with her releases. But it's no good if catching them is 50/50 and I'd be very happy to see her more stable with them, even if a few inches of height has to be sacrificed. Laurie is incredible. She jumped about 20 places or so in the all-around from last year. Feisty, fantastic. She brings to mind another f too..frantic. Not on floor or at least, not in my opinion, but on bars where she's too rushed and doesn't allow enough time to be sure of her next move and hit handstand perfectly. This was more noticeable in her day 2 routine. It worked for her and she hit, it's just something I'd like to see toned down in the future.
Update- I've just seen that Laurie and Bailie will compete at Junior Japan! This meet traditionally attracts top juniors so it could be amazing and make up for the lack of USA at YOG, and the one spot per country for just one specific birth year YOG will have anyway.
I really like the MG elite one- they wore it at Parkettes and another meet too, though I don't like how high the collar is. But it's unusual and the design is Celtic, which is a win-win in my view. Nia Dennis' leotard was beautiful, so was Melissa Reinstadtler's and Chow's girls one was a beautiful colour. None of the rest were offensive as such- except CGA. Great colours, could have been lovely but way too much mesh ruined the whole thing and made it inappropriate. If there must be mesh, may it be black or anything not-nude, and only on arms/neck. Not torso, ugh.
McKayla Maroney continues to impress, this time leaving no doubt about her tumbling on floor, where she definitely did not go out of bounds on the double layout and saved a slight bit of overrotation on the double pike pretty smoothly. If she can nail the stag leap out of the double arabian, then she has it made- she can challenge Larisa Iordache, equal Simone Biles and put pressure on Ksenia Afanasyeva. Awesome. Her vaults were also much better, it's obvious and she said it herself that she makes sure to really drive the Mustafina because the Olympics one plays in her head. Her knees are a little softer on her amanar than they were last year, I'd love to see her tighten up a bit, but make no mistake- she still utterly dominates that vault. Definitely a lock for the worlds team, though of course Marta has just startled everyone by saying she hopes McKayla will do the all-around there. For sure, there have been a lot of disappointments about girls in line for the 4th place, but I don't think anyone was expecting this. If Madison Kocian is not ready in time, then I fully support this. If she is ready, then I'm torn, because as great as it would be for McKayla to do the all-around, I'd really like for Madison to get the experience. She could be very valuable in a worlds team finals after all.
Simone again hit all her routines which was enouraging. I mean, not falling, I definitely spotted her missing her toe-on. Still, a great weak for our new National Champion and it will really help her gearing up for worlds with that title already under her belt. Her second vault, the Lopez, is incredible. And way too easy for her. Introducing a Cheng at this stage is probably not a risk Marta would want to take (I saw it into the pit on Gymnastike beyond the routine, and it did look amazing) but it would be great if she could verify it in time. I'd also really love if she could bring back the 1.5 to tucked full-in and the double layout-half out to boost her difficulty a little there. Hopefully the 5.7 beam is not permanent, as it's quite a drop on her routine earlier this year- six tenths. She went the safe route, nailed it, now hopefully she can build on it.
|Kyla the vamp. Copyright- USAG- John Cheng|
Kyla had another very good day, though she was again shaky on beam- still uncharacteristic! It was great to see her determination running into the double pike that gave her trouble on day 1, and nailing it. Hopefully she can get all four tumbles as good as the first two landing-wise. I'm happy her difficulty has increased there and on beam too (though her 6.0 day 2 is said to be a wrong calculation by some?) I know her growth has been an issue, and the heel injury earlier this year and we're all blue in the face from saying this..but one or two more upgrades to her beam and on bars would be so helpful!
It wasn't to be Brenna Dowell's day. She didn't seem 'on' like she has been, it's possible she's dealing with injury or just wasn't feeling the best. Regardless, she remains a very strong all-arounder, but not consistent enough or clean enough to really make her mark. In the future I'm wondering if she dropped beam and really focused on the other three if she'd be better off. She's an incredibly hard worker and has already made big strides in improvement..I'd never underestimate her. But it definitely was Mykayla Skinner's day! This girl, who showed up and crashed her way through Classics and who showed immense improvement but still fell off beam twice on day 1...hit. Everything. Out of the park. So, so impressive. No, we will never enjoy her form on backhandsprings or her block on the Cheng but WOW. Her floor was fantastic and I was so annoyed they didn't show it..until they showed my girl Laurie instead. Delighted for her making the national team, hopefully she can be sent to a world cup or Pac Rims and be pitted against external competition and international judging. And hopefully she moves gyms because despite her turnaround, she still needs a lot of work.
I'm gutted Madison Desch and Abigail Milliet didn't make the National team, but it does make sense...it wasnt to be going by their performances. I'm sure both girls will come back strong at camp and make a great case for their inclusion though.
GAGE, again. Simone's patriotic leo was nice and simple but still stunning. Not a fan of either Kyla's or McKayla's..the colour was nice on Kyla but too much mesh, and McKayla's was just dull or something, but again loved the colour.
And in other news....
- Well known by now, but Viktoria Komova was only released from hospital today, after suffering for a week from what has been described as both gastroenteritis and stomach flu. She posted a picture of an IV which supports the view that she was badly dehydrated, and presumably very weak. Something like that is not serious as such, just a setback...but when you don't have much weight to spare it can really suck and I know from experience. She's due to start training again next week. Let us hope she's sent to Osijek world cup for some competitive experience..it's very close to Antwerp but she could really do with competitive experience if they're going to send her to worlds regardless..either as an all-arounder or a bars/beam specialist.
- Russian Cup was the emptiest competition ever. No Viktoria Komova, Anastasia Grishina, Anna Dementyeva, Aliya Mustafina, Ksenia Afanasyeva, Ekaterina Baturina or Evgeniya Shelgunova. In some circumstances, fan favourite Tatiana Navieva won the all-around, followed by Alla Sosnitskaya and Anna Pavlova. Tatiana also qualified first to every event final, except bars which Maria Paseka managed. Event finals are due to be broadcast, but it's basically a webcam..don't expect USAG awesomeness.
- Tatiana Nabieva won bars and vault finals. Second and third place respectively in both were Maria Paseka and Alla Sosnitskaya. Anna Pavlova only did one vault and pulled out of bars finals. Maria Paseka put her hand down on her amanar. I think she's firmly closed the door on an Antwerp spot now. Rumour is Anastasia Grishina hurt her back so that's why she didn't compete and we know for sure that Anna Dementyeva is not training at the moment, whether it's a break or a move towards retirement is not yet known, though Anna Rodionova has basically said the latter.
- It looks like Jordyn Wieber's plan is to train at UCLA. She can train with the team, just not compete. She'd be in close proximity to Gabby Douglas who will be training at Chris Waller's gym in LA, though it doesn't sound like it will be either intensive or committed.
- Canada's Gabriella Douglas is out of worlds contention with an injury :( Her pet events are beam and floor, and her strength is turns- really impressive work. She had a great shot at the team. Ellie Black was pulled from Pan-Ams at the last minute so let's hope she's not injured too. Their team is now likely to be Ellie Black, Victoria Moors, Maegan Chant and Kaitlyn Hofland.
- GB's Gabby Jupp has been cleared to start training on bars! Like fellow ACL-tear gymnast Aliya Mustafina, Gabby already has a very strong base on bars so it would be great if she could use her time off training on hard surfaces by really excelling on this event.
- Romania's Larisa Iordache, Diana Bulimar and Sandra Izbasa are going to compete (never rely on them not being pulled though) at Interland, a friendly competition in the Netherlands, starting on the 31st, which also has a large contingent from GB as well as the host country. An ideal opportunity for all involved to get some more competitive experience in. There will be quick hits from this and hopefully videos.