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?


  1. Raisman - when there's no intention on doing a skill cleanly, it can return pretty quickly lol

    Kyla- UPGRADES pls. I know she's working them but its her strategy that frustrates me tbh. She seems to be keying in on bars but such a consistent AAer should be more aggressive everywhere. If she gets back her 2013 fx and upgrades the dance skills, she can finally reach a 6 or 6.1. Her bars and beam should all be above 6.5 because she alone has the execution, consistency,and confidence to handle it but it doesn't seem like shes even touching beam. Laney Madsen is proof that Gym Max can bring the heat so these reservations with moving Kyla's program forward must be from herself (I even recall that in 2013 her coaches wanted her to add the side aerial loso but she didnt want to) Iono. Im confused about her lol.

    Douglas-Impressed that shes gotten back everything except vault AND looks cleaner on her old skills, including her vault block. With a new Zito floor routine and plenty of upgrades, that she's been working for months but chooses not to debut in public yet, i think she'll make the worlds team. And give Komova a heart attack to boot.

    Baumann- her weakness is that her best work is done in training. And its been that way for three years now. Judging by the Woga Classic, this trend will unfortunately continue.

    Hano- Im anxiously optimistic about what a former T&T gymnast can do on FX and VT given enough time to acclimate to AG. I cant help but like her because she's adapting and improving so quickly.

    Skinner-Re Raisman

    1. Thanks so much for the comment!

      Raisman/Skinner - made me laugh... but hopefully it's just early and things get fixed. I like to think that Mihai wouldn't let such things go into competition when he had someone like ASac but, alas, it's entirely possible. After watching Skinner at PT, I really hope they work her technique. Flexed feet on UB, really poor block on her Cheng now that I can see the end effect, poor Moors, and that switch half on beam. Here's hoping she fixes these things.

      Kyla - a lot of people wonder that about Laney vs Kyla and I don't know what to say. I know they're working very hard on protecting her back so that might be part of it. I like her logic too that she'll have next year off from school and can have more time for gym and hopefully more time to work on upgrades that might make her uncomfortable. I think she'll be able to do it come 2016, I just don't know what to expect for 2015.

      Douglas - also impressed and Komova has already had multiple heart attacks I'm sure. No need for any more!

      Baumann oh Baumann. I really hope she can get it together. She managed to in 2014 and I think she has this competitive drive that's just amazing.

      Hano excites me too! Floor with that Biles and potential whip DLO. She can really go places. She was also working a second vault so hopefully she can get that back. That'll make her more competitive for some teams!

      Thanks again for the comment!