Thursday, October 8, 2015

USA Gymnastics Names World Championship Team

After a selection camp at the famed Karolyi Ranch in Texas, Martha Karolyi has named the 2015 World Championship Team. The team will be headlined by consecutive 2-time World All Around Champion Simone Biles, Olympic All Around Champion Gabrielle Douglas, and Olympic Floor Exercise Champion Aly Raisman.

Mykayla Skinner, 2014 World Championship team member, was named to the team, undoubtedly, for her vault and floor exercise. On vault, she has a decent shot at a medal this year with her Cheng and DTY/possible Amanar. Madison Kocian, also a member of the 2014 World Champion team, earns her spot in the lineup for her solid uneven bars. She has been the best in the US and is one of the top ranked gymnast on bars in the world, looking at a good chance of event finals and possibly the podium.

After missing out on the chance to be named to the 2014 team due to an injury, Maggie Nichols got back in the gym to rehab her knee. She's come back strong and was 2nd for most of the US domestic season earning herself much media attention. In addition to Biles, Douglas, and Raisman, Nichols rounds out the top 5 all arounders for the US aside from Bailie Key who was not named to the team.

To round out the team, Brenna Dowell has made a successful comeback from college to elite hitting her immensely difficult UB routine to make the team. In 2013, Brenna was named to the team then bumped to alternate in place of an entirely all around squad. In 2014, Brenna had an untimely injury that prevented her from being 100% for Nationals and the selection camp. For 2015, Dowell was able to finish her first collegiate season and also comeback and have a successful US domestic season. So successful that she was named to the team again. Now we wait to see if she will compete!

For now, the alternate will remain a mystery. Biles is a clear lock for the team. Douglas and Raisman, in my opinion, are also locks. Douglas supplies a much needed uneven bar routine and, reportedly, has shown her Amanar at camp making her all around marketability that much more impressive for the defending Olympic champ. Although Raisman does not thrive on uneven bars, her difficulty everywhere else is a huge asset for team USA. Being one of the top 2 Americans will be a competition in and of itself and Raisman is right up there with her Amanar and impressive floor set.

Skinner, Kocian, and Dowell all have event finals potential, not to mention Dowell having the possibility of getting the piked double front named after her. This leaves Nichols as the odd one out. An excellent all arounder but without the top 3 scores for the US on any one event but the immense ability to step up anywhere should anyone be injured or in qualifications. On the other hand, consistency has not always been on Kocian (other than this year) or Dowell's side.

Naming of the alternate will surely be interesting. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Funny Things Around the Gymternet May-Sep 2015

This was originally supposed to be posted for May-Aug and I missed that so figured I should post this now before it's December!

Olympian Larrissa Miller has some bad days too

A video posted by Larrissa Miller (@larrissa_miller) on

Perhaps one of the greatest athletes of this quadrennium, Simone Biles has her spills when working new skills too!

We've seen former World Champions and Olympians talk about the difficulty that is the double double and now we know why.

Sometimes things just don't go as planned.

When you're trying to be McKayla Maroney...

Vaulting is hard...

The problem with balking on beam


Even drills ar ehard sometimes! Also, I strongly recommend you follow Ashton on snapchat.

And how's the school year going so far?

Check back in a few days. I might add a few more from my favorites on twitter! :)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

BEL-SWE-AUT, A Review From the Stands

It is with great pleasure that I share with you this piece by Marijn on the Belgium-Sweden-Austria Friendly. Marijn also wrote about Volunteering Adventures at the Flanders International Team Challenge and was kind enough to share her thoughts on the friendly meet.


Upon entering the arena, the gymnasts were warming up. You could immediately feel the competition vibe of strong, focused athletes doing their thing in leotards that look about ten times more sparkly in real life. The second-row seat also reminded me how physically and mentally hard the sport of gymnastics is. I could hear their feet pounding on the ground and noticed their facial expressions a lot more. The Belgian gymnasts in particular looked nervous and insecure, although some team members managed to keep their cool.

First rotation
The Belgian team started off on floor with Cindy Vandenhole, Gaëlle Mys, Lisa Verschueren, Rune Hermans and Julie Croket. Although the girls only performed three tumbling passes - and double tucks and pikes were everywhere - their choreographies were fascinating and they sold their routines really well. Julie Croket also brought a new floor routine with Christina Aguilera music and a tucked full-in, 1.5 twist to full twist and a double pike as tumbling passes. She used an extra mat for her first pass and fell on her last pass, but her enthusiasm and well-executed leaps made up for it. The only thing that’s still on my wish list for team Belgium is cleaner landings and more difficult or more original passes.

Meanwhile on vault, Marcela Torres from Sweden pulled out of the competition, because her heavily taped hamstring was too painful. The star on this event was Emma Larsson, with a 1.5 twisting yurchenko almost stuck (14.033).

Second rotation
The next rotation was full-twisting yurchenko time for the Belgian team. Interestingly, Julie Croket changed her old front handspring vault to a FTY. During 30-second warm-ups bad luck struck her again as she injured her right ankle on the landing. Sigh. It is just heartbreaking how many times she has gotten injured right before a big meet and fought her way back, only to be knocked down again. As Julie was carried away by the physiotherapist, the rest of the team had to stay focused and hit. They rose to the challenge wonderfully. Rune, Cindy and Gaëlle scored around 13.500 and Lisa surprised me with a 13.800 and a block that makes me wonder whether she could get a 1.5 around if she trained it.

Third rotation
On uneven bars, the Belgians showed a lot more variation. Gaëlle was just happy to get through her routine without any major mistakes, while Lisa and Laura Waem showed off some great bars skills. Laura is still coming back from a knee surgery and therefore didn’t compete a dismount. First-year senior Cindy impressed me with her flowing rhythm and gorgeous tuck form in the dismount. Somewhere in between was Rune, with a lovely Chow at the beginning, unfortunately followed by an ugly pak and pirouette problems later on.

Fourth rotation
The balance beam didn’t show any mercy towards the gymnasts that day. Just like in general warm- ups, the Belgians had a lot of falls (and wobbles). To make matters even worse, they had to count all four scores, since Julie had to withdraw and Jelle Beullens only did exhibition routines on FX and BB. Fortunately, Gaëlle was there to save the day - and the provisional average of 11.250 - with a fantastic beam set that scored 14.200. After almost nine (!) years in the senior field, you can always count on Gaëlle to hit her favourite apparatus.

Emma Larsson concluded the competition on floor with a combination of artistry, energetic music, and powerful tumbling. Her opening pass was a double layout, followed by a full-in, a double tuck and a double pike. She did lose quite a few tenths in execution due to some extra steps, an uncontrolled landing and an out of bounds.

It’s a pity that I didn’t have enough eyes to take pictures, take notes, focus on team Belgium, keep an eye on team Sweden and have a good look at team Austria. Their D-scores were somewhat lower than the other teams and they couldn’t make up for it with Kyla-esque execution scores. Nevertheless, it was interesting to see what they came up with and I hope to see them grow just like team Belgium did in the previous years. That doesn’t mean that Belgium is there yet. They certainly have what it takes to make it to Rio as a team, but they do need to work on consistency and confidence. Maybe team USA can teach them how to be badass queens during competitions?

You can follow Marijn at spotlightgymnastics and can view her excellent pictures from the meet on flickr (HQ) or on facebook.

Thank you, Marijn!!

1. Belgium 211.549
2. Sweden 202.466
3. Austria 191.581

All Around
1. Gaelle Mys (BEL) 54.400
2. Rune Hermans (BEL) 52.783
3. Emma Larsson (SWE) 52.033

Results for the meet can be found here.