Recently in Training

5:04 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

I've been slacking guys.

Maggie Nichols is working a full in on beam. She won't be going to Italy to allow herself more time to heal from her knee injury and also for skill development. Looking forward to seeing her compete again.

A video posted by Maggie Nichols (@swaggiemaggie2016) on

Double twisting Yurchenko for Canada - juniors Rose Woo and Megan Roberts have joined Shallon Olsen in the DTY department. This bodes well for Canada as all 3 of these juniors are eligible for Rio and are already competitive with the current seniors. Upgrading vault only helps to make them more competitive internationally. The vaults aren't great just yet but they still have a year to perfect them.

Megan Roberts has also started working a toe-on Shaposhnikova half or a van Leeuwen. Extra bonus points for using my current favorite song on Taylor Swift's new album.

Thema Williams of Trinidad has extended her training experience at Geddert's Twistars. Here she is working a toe on-toe 1/1-Tkatchev combination.
A video posted by Thema Williams (@themarttt) on

US junior Jordan Chiles is working a double double off uneven bars. She, unfortunately, is not Rio eligible as she turns senior in 2017. Chiles has shown quite a few upgrades so i'm curious what she'll compete this year versus her senior debut.

Lexie Priessman is starting to flip again! It's nothing major but it's still exciting to see after she's had both upper and lower body surgeries.
A video posted by Lexie Priessman (@lpriessman2016) on
Christina Desiderio is working her new BB routine. She has a triple wolf turn and a bhs-bhs-layout 2 feet combo. You can watch it here.

Portions of Laurie Hernandez and Jazmyn Foberg's UB routines are available. Hernandez has the Downie (stalder piked Tkatchev) in her routine and has the Ricna (stalder straddled Tkatchev) connected to a Pak salto.
A video posted by Plum Practicewear (@plumpracticewear) on

Jazzy has the same combination as Roxana Popa - Maloney to immediate Gienger.
A video posted by Plum Practicewear (@plumpracticewear) on

MAG - #inspireageneration
There have been more in MAG but I thought this one was particularly sweet. Giarnni Regini-Moran (GBR) is working on a Cassina - laid out full twisting Tkatchev. He's glad to be joining this elusive club. Watch it once. Then watch the little girl in the foreground. Inspire a generation :)
A video posted by >GIARNNI< (@giarnni_regini_moran) on


Jordyn Wieber Announces Retirement

8:46 AM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

Photo Credit: Dan Johnson Photography

The 2012 Olympic Team Champion Jordyn Wieber of the USA has officially announced her retirement. At the age of just 13 years old, Wieber won her first major international title at the American Cup in 2009. In 2011, for her senior debut, Wieber once again won the American Cup and went on to become World Champion in a final that came down to thousandths of a point. Wieber's success continued into the Olympic year where she was named to the Olympic Team that would go on to win gold, the first for the USA since the Magnificent Seven in 1996. While Wieber did not make the all around final, she did have the opportunity to compete in the floor final although her performance was hindered by a stress fracture in her right leg. Her floor performance in the team final is something that will stick with fans of the sport for a long time as she came back from such heartache to have the performance of a lifetime.

"Yes, it’s time to for me to retire from elite gymnastics. But I can honestly say that I don’t have any regrets looking back on the past 15 years.

"I had my share of injury set-backs, falls during competitions, bad practices and disappointment. But I honestly believe that all of those experiences helped make me who I am, and who I will become.

"It goes without saying that the Olympics was the highlight of my career. As I move on from the sport, I want to be sure it is known that I am completely fulfilled and content with my experience at the Games. It was difficult to accept the reality of having an injury at the most crucial moment in my career. I am grateful that I was able to compete and be part of winning the Olympic Team Gold.

"Retiring from gymnastics wasn’t an easy decision because it is a world I love. I loved the people, the competition, the traveling, the challenge. I loved the support I felt from gymnastics fans across the world. I truly appreciate all the kindness that was expressed over the years.

"Gymnastics was an experience that changed my life forever and it will always be part of my life."

You can read Jordyn Wieber's full retirement announcement here. Wieber's contributions to USA Gymnastics and to the sport will be missed.

What are you favorite Jordyn Wieber memories and moments?


Ginnaste: Vite Parallele - MTV Series on Italian Gymnasts

1:24 PM Arabian Punch Front 3 Comments

Ginnaste: Vite Parallele (Gymnasts: Parallel Lives) is about to start it's third series on MTV Italia. The previous protagonist of the series, Carlotta Ferlito, has stepped down from her role in the series and up and coming talents Enus Mariani and Elisa Meneghini have taken over. The new season starts March 16 and features of the main characters have been posted. (The videos are only available if you have an Italian IP address.)

Enus Mariani - video
Enus Mariani talks briefly about her back injury that kept her out of gymnastics for 2 years. During the time off, she very sad because all that she could do was watch her teammates train. Thanks to her parents support she found the strength to hold on and come back stronger than ever. Enus has 2 tattoos, one on her forearm that says "the best is yet to come." The second is on her side and is a tattoo with the E and a crown because most of her friends call her the queen.


Nastia Liukin Cup Delayed Live Blog

9:46 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

Alicia Boren
Photo Credit: USA Gymnastics

Delayed pseudo-live blog of the Nastia Liukin Cup. I think it's great that we end up with some future elites and future Level 10 champions at this compeition so I just wanted to document my thoughts on the athletes now. The broadcast mentions Gabby Douglas and Mykayla Skinner as previous attendees but I fell in love with Utah's freshman Kari Lee at the NL Cup one year ago. Freshman Gator and recipient of a Perfect 10 Alex McMurtry gained fame at the Nastia Liukin Cup. Hope to see some future greats :)

Always interested to see what things professional outlets are doing with social media

Rotation 2
Madison Osman FX (Michigan) - nice HIHO. Nice choreo. Unfortunate last tumble. Ahhh same gym as Shayla Worley. Explains the presentation.
Kaitlin Deguzman - nice full pirouette to double tuck. Beautiful lines.
Cassidy Keelen VT - that was a nice DTY. Seeing all these girls doing DTYs makes me want more people to try it in NCAA when the time comes.
Olivia Karas UB - nice cover. She has little form things but such is life. Loved the toe on pike front stick. That was awesome.
Loving all these braids.
Anna Glenn FX - loved her whip  2/1 and love her choreo. UCLA will be lucky to have her.
Abby Heiskel FX - another good steal for Michigan

VALERI <333333

Proud Papa and proud baby girl!

Lexi Graber VT - k I like her. FTY but so so clean in the air. Bama? Oh, girlfriend is definitely gonna get that stick.
Alicia Boren VT - 2nd VT better in air but bigger hop. She'll also get that stick at Florida.
Rachel Lukacs VT - nice DTY with hop forward. 2nd was better in air. Nice nice.
Chae UB - misses a few handstands. Almost misses her hands on pirouette before dbl front dismount but manages to get it all around ok. She's shooting for elite.
Makenna - another pretty beamer for Utah!!! to join Kari

"It's hard to get up but easy to fall." - Martha Karolyi

Rotation 3
Olivia Karas - that was a nice whatever that was??? haha
Cassidy Keelen - nice Tkatchev but unfortunate dead hang
Anna Glenn VT - that was an amazing vault. Great for UCLA
Abby - like her performance quality but almost think this song is too big for her if that makes sense

Missed a few because Martha was distracting me :P

Boren UB - I knew the fall was coming so sad :/
Rachel Lukacs UB - ... yay dismount?
Makenna Merrell FX - seriously. Utah will be lucky to have her and will do great things.
Carly Bauman VT - Chow's gymnast. Yo! Her FTY went better than her layout. So Chow's not with her.
Kynsee Roby FX - hmm need to find her beam 9.725. She has great presentation and carriage. Unfortunate fall. Aww poor girl.

Rotation 4
Lexi Graber BB - k. I like her. Decent bhs-layout 2 ft. Nice leaps. Great presentation.
Maddie Karr VT - ooh damn. That was pretty!!! 1.5TY. Better 2nd one. High five from Mihai! Going to Denver. That'll be good!
Alicia Boren BB - some back leg issues but great acro, dbl tuck dismount.
Rachel Lukacs - Georgia? Ooh they'll get that beam and fix those bars if they need it. That stick though.
Makenna Merrell - 1.5TY. Utah can fix this.
Chae Campbell FX - Nice execution - clean tumbling and leaps, and good presentation.

Kiya Johnson BB - few back leg leap issues but otherwise solid. Beautiful 2.5!!! Damn!
Olivia Karas FX - Awesome routine. Great presentation!
Anna Glenn UB - Wait so Anna Glenn NCAA 10 on UB? Little step on dismount but she landed off the edge of the mat. Held as best as she can.

Great meet. I wished they showed a few more juniors but such is life. There didn't seem to be that Sydney Johnson-Scharpf or Morgan Hurd junior this year on the broadcast. Overall some great gymnastics. I really enjoy watching the meet and this year wasn't any different. Looking forward to see who comes up from the juniors and what the seniors will do as they finish their JO career and headed to college.

[Will add links tomorrow]

Who were you favorite gymnasts to watch?


Sabrina Vega: Back at Camp

9:32 AM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Sabrina Vega
Photo Credit:: USA Gymnastics

Sabrina Vega was a member of the 2011 gold medal winning World Championship team for the USA. After much success as a junior, she was able to continue that success into her senior debut. At 2011 US Nationals, she finished 5th in the all-around, 5th on balance beam and 4th on floor exercise. Sabrina earned a place on the 2011 World team and went on to finish the qualifying round in 9th in the all-around. In team finals, Sabrina was the lead off on both uneven bars and balance beam, setting the pace for Team USA that would eventually end with Vega and the rest of the team being named World Champions. The 2012 Olympic Trials did not go as hoped and Vega finished in 10th place in the all around and was not named to the team.

Afterwards, Vega made the difficult decision of moving from her home in New York to living with a host family in Missouri to train with Al and Armine Fong at GAGE. We have not seen her in competition due to multiple injuries - shoulder surgery and a knee injury. In November of 2014, Sabrina returned to camp and at the January 2015 camp, we were finally able to see what she's been up to - on beam anyway. Here are a few of the skills she showed. She also showed a double wolf turn on beam.

While some of these skills have been in her routine in the past, it's great to see Vega training after such a long (long long long) time. She was not at the February camp but let's hope it's due to fewer invites this time around and not injury! Jesolo is coming up and it seems unlikely that she will compete as she does not yet have an FIG license for the USA. Hopefully we do get to see Sabrina Vega compete in the lead up to Rio. Her floor stays with me as one of my favorites and I will continue to root for her until her last days in this crazy sport.

You can ready my interview with her from Nov 2013 after the gym change here and part 2 here.


At the Ranch: Senior National Team

8:31 PM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

Alyssa Baumann
Photo Credit: USA Gymnastics

It's crazy to think that a month has already gone by and the athletes are at camp again! USA Gymnastics uploaded videos of the National Team members at the ranch and I am forever grateful. The team looks great for so early in the season. As always, I'm curious to see what upgrades we'll get to see in competition this year and even towards Rio. You can ready my thoughts on the juniors here. The senior lineup is an exciting one, amplified by the new seniors (featured in this last set) and the returning Olympians - Kyla Ross, Aly Raisman, and Gabrielle Douglas.

We'll start with a personal favorite. Maggie Nichols was injured at the 2014 Pan American Championships and underwent knee surgery for what was said to be a dislocated kneecap. She's returned full force and is already back to training three events, not sure about vault. At camp, she showed her new UB connection: toe full - Chow (stalder Shaposhnikova) - Pak - Maloney - bail - toe 1/2 - van Leeuwen (toe on Shaposhnikova 1/2). Quite the combo! On beam, she's showing fabulous flexibility on her front aerial - sissone - split jump. Per her instagram and, she's training a full in on beam and full twisting double layout on floor but won't try to make the Jesolo team in order to allow herself more time to heal.

Most surprising for me was Alyssa Baumann. She showed a new Ricna on uneven bars. On beam, she showed a switch split - switch half - back tuck combination. On floor, she showed a strong double pike (enough for Mihai to nod in approval) and a nice double layout. Although those aren't upgrades, something about her strength and attack on each of the skills is what made me take notice. I was surprised to see so many new things. I was looking forward to her competing at WOGA Classic but she unfortunately scratched the meet after multiple falls on uneven bars.

Honorable mentions obviously go to Ashton Locklear and Felicia Hano. Locklear's combo is literally insane: in bar stalder full - Galante (in bar stalder straddled Tkatchev) - Pak - Chow (stalder Shaposhnikova) - bail - stalder shoot to high. And it looks so easy for her! She's also working skills on beam and floor exercise, most notably a triple full. Hano showed her Biles (double layout half out)! I was told that she was training the Biles on my visit to Gym Max but since I didn't see it, I kept quiet so I'm glad we're already getting to see it. Although Hano isn't known for her uneven bars, I wish that more of her uneven bars was shown since the last time she competed that event was in 2013 when she sustained a concussion. Now, she's back on the uneven bars, swinging well, and working a Ray to Pak in her routine. Hopefully we get to see her compete it this year.

The Olympians... Deep breath. Who to start with?

Kyla Ross, who recently committed to UCLA, kept things relatively the same. She didn't do her Bhardwaj. Don't hurt me. It exists I swear! But she did get the UB combo that was giving her trouble. She had the toe 1/1 - Maloney - Pak and was able to get the Van Leeuwen connected and it looks great. Kyla's beam looks pretty much the same. Her floor was also the same but she's upgrading. Trust me, she's working upgrades!

Aly Raisman. What to say about our Olympic Champion Aly Raisman? I think there are some aspects to Aly's gymnastics that looks better. But there are also some things that I forgot how bad they were. We'll just go in order. First off, Amanar vault! That was most surprising since I really didn't think she'd have it ready so early. Whether it's ready for competition is a different story but she's already showing it which is amazing! On uneven bars, Aly's weakest event, instead of doing Maloney to Pak like everyone else, she does Maloney to immediate Tkatchev. What in the world? That was unexpected as well. Was it pretty? Maybe not but good to see that she's reworking her routine. Beam seems like the same old Aly, just a few changes to fit this code. Some of her leaps seem a little better, a tiny bit better, but there are still some form issues. She "starfishes" her back layout (legs apart), her back leg in her sissone could be higher, and there are just the usual foot flexion issues. I'm curious about this combo: side aerial - switch split - switch half - back pike. I like it and am just curious, when or if we'll see it in competition. She looks great on floor, showing her three passes between the two videos. Again, I was as surprised and excited about the Amanar as I was about seeing the arabian punch front. It might not be consistent just yet with the 1.5 but those videos were from January camp. She has time. Aly's double layout was also a huge surprise. Her knees are bent but it's great to see her working new skills at this stage in the game. It makes for interesting tumbling passes when her routine comes together (and upgrade possibilities).

Returning Olympians video and continues to playlist below or here

What surprised you most about the senior videos?