Ah, American Cup. The first international competition of the season, and always an interesting one. I'd have to say that the interest lies mainly in the fact that it showcases the top American gymnasts, the fact they they are there and will almost automatically take the top 2 of the 3 medals and prize money available (except a lot won't, since they aren't pro), the earliness of the season and the distance tends to put a lot of federations off. It's a huge factor in why the rest of the top 4 don't bother with it. To say it's moreso to do with the scoring and old butthurt from Aliya Mustafina losing to Jordyn Wieber is well, wishful thinking. It probably doesn't help, but I'd be very surprised if it was a major contributory factor.
In totally shocking news, Simone Biles dominated, as expected. We are seeing the most powerful gymnast ever, who will go down as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest. She certainly has quite a lot of people who do not appreciate her style of gymnastics, but she doesn't have to be the favourite to be the best.
As I was saying in the comments of my last post, I do not feel that she is beatable. She's on a different level and she's also on a trajectory...she showed upgrades here, and she so clearly has a lot more to give. The TTY alone would of course boost her phenomenal difficulty into the stratosphere, but even if she doesn't do that, it's the little things here and there..the Mustafina on bars, with maybe a Fabrichnova possible, the introduction of the Khorkina transition hopefully and a more valuable dance skill on floor, and even a bigger tumble for her last pass because hey, she looks capable of a double layout or similar there.
It all just puts her out of reach. Nanning Simone was already beyond everyone else, the American Cup one yet more so, and she's got plenty left in the tank as she gears up for the summer season heading into Glasgow, and the longer goal of Rio. Bailie Key is a magnificent gymnast and I am REALLY looking forward to seeing the two compete, but I just don't see Bailie being victorious. Especially because as mentioned, Simone still is not at her peak.
Back to the actual competition....watching her almost, almost stick that huge vault was just incredible. We've gotten so used to the big hop, but it just makes it so much more impressive. Would love to see her continue to land it like this, or with reduced movement on landing. She really has equalled McKayla Maroney with this vault and matching The Great One's Olympic score was I felt justified. It's good to see her bars routine progress from last year, where it was quite cookie-cutter, it was solid and the dismount was fantastic although I was disappointed we didn't see that extra half-turn, albeit knowing already she wasn't going to debut it there. I'm seriously in love with her BHS-LOSO-LOSO on beam, the highlight of the routine. A pity she was wobbly but it's very early in the season, I expect jittery beams in March. Floor blew me away with the competitive debut of the full-twisting double layout and the leap added to the Biles. They look fabulous, and while moving the Silivas to the third pass means it's a bit less explosive, the fact that it is third makes up for that. Considering the big hops on some of her landings, it was a bit overscored, and so were beam and bars, but not by much. A bit more than half a point altogether. And that's nothing, when it still means you can and will legitimately score over 61 internationally.
Considering how Mykayla Skinner looked in podium training, I'm glad she was able to keep it together in competition. I do love her DTY also. When she's 'on', I really enjoy some of her skills, and her power and enthusiasm. This Mykayla is just not there yet, and wasn't exactly the easiest to watch. It's hard not to think that her training seems to focus on skill acquisition, rather than honing and improving her form.
Not doing the AA isn't the wisest idea in the US National team, limiting the events you can bring in even a prelims score in. But, I think it would be a wise decision for Mykayla to focus on vault and floor. I'd love to see her be schooled on blocking, and really work on her leaps on floor, when she cannot be used on either beam or bars it seems like a waste to detract from time that could go to her star events. Jessica Lopez with her low difficulty but super form beating her for 2nd would have been a good wake-up call perhaps.
It was a bit of a disappointing competition with a few falls, Jessica Lopez threw away a medal on beam, Ellie Black fell on her ambitious clear hip-Shang and Claudia Fragapane had a heartbreaking complete meltdown on floor. That coupled with gymnasts like Mykayla Skinner and the ever-competing Vanessa Ferrari just seeming off...not the most thrilling world cup, and that's coming from a gigantic Simone Biles fan. I'm still trying to catch up on quite a few routines, not having been able to watch the competition live...it's a long one to sit through otherwise, and it's hampered by the fact that a good bit of my free time is going towards WWF/WWE videos on youtube, an old interest recently rekindled into basically an obsession. Just. So. Entertaining.
On that note, other than the falls and ill-preparedness forming the negatives along with the weak-ish field and Simone's awesomeness, new skills and great combinations from people like Ellie Black being the positives...it's a little difficult to sum up this competition.
What were your highlights? Do you see Bailie besting Simone? Can she legit do an 8.0 floor routine? How fun was Mykayla Skinner's hair? Is Jessica Lopez actually 12?