Finals competition at the 2017 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships kicked off with an exciting women’s all-around final in Montreal last night. With three-time defending champion Simone Biles taking a year off, it gave opportunity for a new gymnast to be crowned world all-around champion for the first time since 2013 as the US looked to continue its dominance, with 2010 the last time a US gymnast did not win the world all-around gold medal.
The competition started off with some devastating news, as the USA’s Ragan Smith, a strong favorite to win the all-around title, had to withdraw from the competition due to an ankle injury during vault warm ups in the training gym. This left Morgan Hurd as the USA’s sole all-around competitor, and gave the reserve athlete, Romania’s Iona Crisan, a chance to compete.
The first rotation started with a solid 14.6 from Canada’s Ellie Black on vault to start her competition in third, while Mai Murakami of Japan scored a high 14.665 on vault to put her in second. Nina Derwael of Belgium started on the uneven bars, her best event, and scored a high 14.996 to put her in first place after the opening rotation.
During the second rotation the race began to tighten. After a beautifully executed, 14.3 bar routine from Morgan Hurd and a solid routine from Ellie Black, the two were in a deadlock for first place at 28.833. Not only was there a tie for first, there was a tie for second between Mai Murakami and France’s Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos, seemingly fighting for the bronze.
The race between Morgan Hurd and Ellie Black for gold became even closer in the third rotation, while the bronze medal started to become less clear. On beam, third place Mai Murakami had an unfortunate fall, receiving a score of only 12.0, knocking her out of third. Russia’s Elena Eremina shined on balance beam, with beautiful execution earring her a 13.133, the second highest beam score of the day, to move her into bronze medal position, edging out De Jesus Dos Santos and Murakami.
Morgan Hurd stayed on the beam for a solid routine, but a number of wobbles earned her a 12.666 on the event. Ellie Black competed a nice routine until one of her final skills in which she wobbled and touched the beam, but still earned a 12.866 to take sole ownership of first place.
The competition came down to the last event for the gymnasts fighting for a medal, with floor exercise set to decide the podium. Mai Murakami competed a beautiful, high difficulty floor routine, scoring a huge 14.233 in an attempt to regain position to earn a bronze medal. However, Elena Eremina competed a solid 13.6 routine, and between her consistency across all four events and Mai’s fall, the huge score was not enough to surpass Eremina, who locked in a world all-around bronze medal for Russia.
Morgan Hurd competed a solid floor routine, with only a slight step out of bounds on one of her tumbling passes. The routine earned her a 13.733, and a final all-around score of 55.232. It came down to Ellie Black competing for the gold in front of her home crowd on the floor. While she competed a very solid routine, it was not enough to catch Hurd. Black ended with a 13.433 on floor, and an all around score of 55.132, a tenth behind the new world all-around champion Morgan Hurd.
The gold medalist, Morgan Hurd, is a first year senior from the US who finished only 7th all-around at the P&G Gymnastics Championships just a month and a half ago, causing her to be a somewhat surprising pick for the worlds team. However, her elegance and ability to hit under pressure proved her to be a gymnast that the USA can count on. She has the potential for even more upgrades, and looks to be a fantastic asset for the US, now and in the future.
Silver medalist Ellie Black of Canada made history in her home country as Canada’s first ever world all-around medalist. Her difficulty and consistency are both competitive and consistent, something Canada has struggled with as a program, despite making impressive inroads to become a rising program. Black looks to be a great start for a new generation of Canadian gymnasts, bringing in a long awaited world medal for her country.
Elena Eremina of Russia, all-around bronze medalist, was the junior European all-around champion, and proved to be transitioning to her senior career seamlessly. Her consistency on all events, along with beautiful uneven bar and balance beam execution, signals a bright future for Eremina and Russian gymnastics.
Japan’s Mai Murakami brings the whole package to start off the floor finals. She sells her choreography, has good landings, controlled turns and the highest degree of difficulty out of anyone in the competition. She starts out with a quadruple turn and a double twisting tucked double back. The Japanese continues with a back double layout, a back two and a half twist to full twisting front layout and dismounts with a double pike and a hop on the landing.
Murakami earns a 14.233 with 5.9D and 8.333E.
Home hope Brooklyn Moors, winner of the Longines Prize for Elegance award, shows off her beautiful artistry throughout this floor routine. The Canadian mounts with a solid front handspring double front with half twist. She continues with a front handspring double twisting front layout to a full twisting front layout. She does a switch ring to full twisting switch ring. Moors ends with a back two and a half twist to punch front, earning a 13.650 with 5.2D and 8.45E
Italian Lara Mori delivers a very powerful floor routine and truly engages the audience with her facial expressions and eye contact. She mounts with a slightly piked back double layout, landing with her chest forward and hopping. She does a nice double Y turn to illusion followed by a back two and a half twist to front layout, taking a big hop on the landing. The Italian performs a full twisting double back, hops on landing, and dismounts with a solid triple twist. Mori earns a 13.220 with 5.4D and 7.866E.
American Jade Carey, who won the world vault silver medal yesterday, delivers a strong floor routine. She starts by absolutely nailing her first pass, a tucked double double with incredible amplitude. She also gains a lot of height on her full twisting double layout. She continues with a front handspring double twisting layout to stag jump and dismounts with a full twisting double back, landing with her chest completely upright. Carey earns a 14.200 with 5.7D and 8.5E, the highest E score of all her competitors.
Claudia Fragapane of Great Britain gives a captivating performance by telling a story through her choreography and interacting with the crowd. She begins with a full twisting double layout and loses balance on the landing, hopping multiple times on one leg. The Brit continues with a back double layout to stag jump. Fragapane nails a double arabian and sticks her ending pass, a back double pike. She earns a 13.933 with 5.6D and 8.333E.
Canadian fan favorite Ellie Black begins her routine with a back two and a half step out to double back, bobbles on the landing and going out of bounds with both feet. The world all-around silver medalist continues with a front handspring double twisting layout to front tuck and ends her routine with a unique yet challenging full twisting front handspring step out to back double pike, rebounding with her chest down. Black earns a 12.900 with 5.3D and 7.9E.
Brazilian Thais Fidelis shows off her elegance through her graceful leaps, tumbling and exceptional toe point. She begins with a one and a half twist to double arabian and takes a big step forward on the landing and one foot out of bounds. She performs a lovely whip to triple twist, followed by a full twisting double back and dismounts with a double pike where her feet shuffle forward on the landing. Fidelis earns a 13.666 with 5.5D and 8.166E.
Vanessa Ferrari of Italy suffers an unfortunate floor routine. She begins with a double twisting double back and shuffles to the side on the landing. She continues with a heartbreaking whip to full twisting double back, injuring her lower leg in a dangerously low landing and hitting her head to the ground. Ferrari is unable to finish the routine. Our best wishes go to Vanessa Ferrari, hoping for a swift recovery.
The floor exercise finals featured some incredibly difficult tumbling and elegant dancing. Japan’s Mai Murakami wins the gold, Jade Carey of the US takes silver, and Britain’s Claudia Fragapane earns a bronze medal.
Pauline Schaefer of Germany, the balance beam bronze medalist at 2015 worlds, begins the finals with a graceful routine. She wobbles on a back-handspring layout stepout but continues with a beautiful double turn. She performs her eponymous skill, the Schaefer, a unique side somi with a half twist. The German competes a front aerial followed by two jumps and wobbles on the second. She concludes with a solid side aerial and a gainer layout dismount. She is very happy with her performance and scores a 13.533 with 5.5D and 8.033E.
It has been a pleasure watching Russian Elena Eremina’s beautiful artistry throughout her first world championships. She begins her performance with a Y turn and a wobble, followed by a back-handspring layout stepout layout stepout series and a balance check. She also wobbles on her front aerial. Eremina does a beautiful split leap to side aerial and a switch leap to split jump. The Russian, who finished third all-around two nights ago, dismounts with a round off triple twist but stumbles on the landing with her chest down and taking several steps to the side, almost stepping off the mats. She earns a 12.966 with 5.4D and 7.566E.
Ellie Black is having a successful world championships competing in her home country, winning the silver medal in the all-around competition on Friday. Unfortunately, her balance beam performance does not showcase her full capabilities. She mounts the beam with a switch leap connected to leaps and jumps followed by a balance check. The Canadian executes a nice triple turn to full turn combination but wobbles at the end. Black does a solid front pike and a good BHS layout with a slight wobble. She is off balance during the take off for her front tuck, causing her to put her hands on the beam and fall off. She dismounts with a nice double pike with a small hop on the landing. She earns a 12.400 with 5.7D and 6.7E.
Mai Murakami begins with a nice switch leap mount and continues with a flawless front pike. The powerful Japanese’s back-handspring layout stepout includes a slight wobble and flexed feet. She does a beautiful switch ring and a side aerial. Murakami bobbles on her double turn and breaks the connection between her front aerial and split and straddle jumps. She dismounts with a powerful double pike dismount, landing with her chest up and taking two large steps back. She earns a 13.066 with 5.4D and 7.666E.
Asuka Teramoto of Japan starts out with a triple turn and finishes with her foot behind her, loses balance and puts her hands down on the beam. She continues with a very nice BHS back-handspring layout stepout layout stepout and leap series. Teramoto does a solid side somi and switch half. The Japanese performs a nice onodi but wobbles at the end. She does a front aerial and breaks the connection before doing a side aerial. Teramoto dismounts with a round off triple twist, landing with her chest up and taking a step on the landing. She earns a 12.966 with 5.6D and 7.366E.
Morgan Hurd, the 2017 all-around world champion continues to dominate her first world championships by giving an excellent performance performing on the balance beam. The American starts with a very difficult full twisting back tuck, stuck. She wobbles three times upon completion of her side aerial. Hurd does a nice switch leap to split leap and a solid back-handspring layout stepout. She pauses between her front aerial and split jump to straddle jump. The 16-year-old American does a nice front tuck and full turn and has a minor wobble on her switch ring. Hurd dismounts with a challenging full twisting double back with some form issues but lands with her chest up and takes just a small hop. Hurd earns a 13.400 with 5.7D and 7.8E
Liu Tingting of China gives a nice performance on beam at her first world championships. She shows off her incredible flexibility and artistry throughout the routine, including her impressive connections. She begins with a very intricate mount and unique first tumbling pass, a stuck front handspring step out to front tuck, setting her apart from her competitors. Liu does a switch leap and wobbles and performs a ring leap to a back handspring swing down to straddle sit. She does a nice full turn and split leap to side aerial and a split jump wolf jump combination. The Chinese continues with a front aerial to ring jump to back-handspring step out combination. She bobbles on a switch ring and dismounts with a well executed double twist. Tingting earns a 12.766 with 5.5D and 7.366E.
German Tabea Alt concludes the balance beam event finals at her first world championships. She begins with a round off layout mount followed by a small wobble. She does a side aerial to layout stepout with slight arm movement at the end. She wobbles on a full turn and her leap series. She performs a flawless front aerial to straddle jump and a great switch ring. Alt does a nice leap to side somi combination with minor arm movements at the end. She gains incredible height on her roundoff double back dismount, landing with her chest up and taking a small hop. The German is incredibly happy following her performance and earns a 13.300 with 5.7D and 7.6E.
Overall, the 2017 world championships balance beam final included excellent artistry but also many wobbles. Germany dominates the podium as Tabea Alt takes the bronze medal, Morgan Hurd wins silver, and Pauline Schaefer brings home the gold for Germany, crying tears of happiness.
As Day 6 of competition comes to a close at the 2017 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Montreal, six out of the 16 gymnasts that qualified have been awarded medals in the vault and uneven bars event finals.
The vault final began with Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber who competed a clean first vault, scoring a 14.633. Steingruber followed up with a solid double-twisting Yurchenko for an average score of 14.466, allowing her to win the bronze medal. Canada’s Shallon Olsen, who submitted a triple-twisting Yurchenko prior to the competition, opted to compete an Amanar, and subsequently fell on the landing. Olsen redeemed herself with a beautiful Cheng, scoring an average of 14.233.
Russia’s Maria Paseka, the defending world champion, competed a Cheng with rough form and a low landing, however, managed to be awarded a controversially high score of 14.700. For her second vault, Paseka performed a gorgeous Amanar with a small hop on the landing, thus edging out the competition and putting herself in first place, with an average of 14.850. Next, Wang Yan of China scored a 14.500 for her clean Rudi. Wang landed low on her second vault, causing her to receive an average score of 14.350. Jade Carey of the United States showcased her power with excellent amplitude on her Amanar, which caused her to take two large steps forward on the landing. Carey performed another huge vault with her Kas full, scoring a 14.733 and putting her in second place, behind Paseka despite superior execution.
The world all-around silver medalist, Ellie Black of Canada, was next to compete and hit two clean vaults, putting her in fourth place with an average of 14.416. The legendary Oksana Chusovitina, at 42 years old, competed a handspring front layout full and a Tsuk 1½, in order to receive an average score of 14.366 and a huge round of applause from the Montreal crowd. Last to compete was Sae Miyakawa of Japan who was low on her Tsuk 1½ and had an unfortunate fall on her double-twisting Yurchenko, scoring a 13.8 and confirming a spot on the podium for Paseka, Carey, and Steingruber.
Following the vault final and medal ceremony, the eight gymnasts set to compete in the uneven bars event final marched into the Olympic Stadium. Diana Verinska of the Ukraine was up first on the apparatus and displayed a lovely Tkatchev to Jaeger combination, however was short on a few handstands throughout the routine, causing her to score a 14.583. Nina Derwael competed a strong routine and scored a 15.033, putting her in first place for the time being.
Next, Anastasia Iliankova of Russia performed a solid routine scoring a 14.900, putting her ahead of Verinska. World all-around bronze medalist Elena Eremina, also representing Russia, performed a beautiful routine with some leg separation and a short handstand, however, scored a 15.100, moving her into the gold medal position. Representing China, Luo Huan displayed her lovely pirouettes in a solid routine, scoring a 14.566. The defending world champion, Fan Yilin, also representing China, posted a huge 15.166, in a solid performance with just a tiny step on the landing.
Representing Germany, Elizabeth Seitz scored a 14.766 for her performance which was flawed with some leg separation. With a huge form break on her toe full and a muscled handstand which caused her to come off the bar, Ashton Locklear of the United States was clearly devastated and in pain after her uncharacteristic performance on the uneven bars. Locklear scored a heartbreaking 12.766, concluding the competition and guaranteeing medals for Fan, Eremina, and Derwael as day one of event finals came to a close.
With the biggest gymnastics competition of the year now just mere days away, the entire team at Meet Scores Online has converged to preview the 2017 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Montreal. Despite this being the first year of a new quad and only an individual all-around and event worlds, the anticipation and intrigue is still high with this a wide open competition in many ways. Check out our country-by-country preview as well as some of the standout individuals competing and our predictions for the coming week in Canada.
Team: Ragan Smith, Morgan Hurd, Ashton Locklear, Jade Carey
After one of the most dominant quads in recent gymnastics history by any one country, winning all three world and Olympic team gold medals and taking all four all-around gold medals at the world championships and Olympics as well, this US team is slightly weaker but with enormous expectations to live up to. For Rio 2016 alternate and national all-around Ragan Smith, the pressure of continuing the streak of six straight world and Olympic all-around gold medals will be on her shoulders in Montreal, but those shoulders seem suited to handle the expectations at this years worlds.
Smith, the most experienced all-arounder on the US national team this year, has handled the expectations beautifully this year, winning the all-around both meets she’s competed in at the AT&T American Cup in March and at the P&G Gymnastics Championships just last month. Remarkably, the 17-year-old Texas Dreams gymnast will be competing in her first international competition of her still young career and despite that her prowess on uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise make her the favorite for that coveted all-around title. Smith’s insanely high difficulty on balance beam makes her the gold medal favorite on that event as well as a contender on a very weak floor exercise field.
Another all-around and balance beam and floor exercise hopeful is first-year senior Morgan Hurd. Hurd, despite finishing sixth all-around at nationals in August, showed improved consistency and difficulty at the worlds selection camp a few weeks ago, with her immense potential on balance beam and floor exercise helping her to a spot on the team. Hurd could also contend in the all-around where the 16-year-old Delaware native is likely to reach the all-around final if she hits like she’s shown she can in Montreal.
Arguably the most controversial pick of the US worlds team is also the most experienced gymnast on the national team, Rio 2016 alternate Ashton Locklear. Locklear, who placed fourth on the uneven bars just missing out on a medal at the 2014 world championships in Nanning, hasn’t made her way back to her full difficulty that saw her nearly make the Olympic team due to her world-class talent on the uneven bars, but the 19-year-old Everest gymnast still has some of the cleanest execution in the world, despite not having her inbars back yet, making her a legitimate medal contender if some of the other gymnasts have an off day.
The final gymnast to make the US worlds team is one many gymnastics fans may not have even heard of until three months ago, brand new elite Jade Carey. Carey, who was competing Level 10 a few months ago, punched her ticket to Montreal due to her insanely difficult vault and floor exercise routines, making her a possible medal contender on both. Carey possess the highest two-vault difficulty in the world, vaulting an Amanar and a tsuk double-full, putting her right up there in a wide open vault field.
Overall, the medal overview for Team USA looks solid, with Smith almost guaranteed to snag at least two in the all-around and on balance beam as well as potentially a third on floor exercise, and Carey with a good chance for a vault or floor exercise medal. Locklear’s speciality on uneven bars makes her a threat on that event with an outside chance to medal, and a similar story for Hurd as she could medal as well on balance beam or floor exercise.
Ragan Smith performs on the balance beam at the P&G Gymnastics Championships in Los Angeles/Getty Images
Team: Angelina Melninkova, Elene Eremina, Anastasia Illiankova, Maria Paseka
Russia’s 2017 world championship team includes Elena Eremina, Anastasia Illiankova, Angelina Melnikova and Maria Paseka. This team comprises both highly experienced gymnasts as well as rising stars.
Veterans Melnikova and Paseka represented Russia in Rio at the 2016 Olympics, whereas Eremia and Illiankova are first year seniors. Paseka, 22 years old, also competed at the 2012 Olympics in London where she won the bronze medal on vault. In Rio she placed 2nd on vault behind Simone Biles. Paseka won gold on vault at the 2015 World Championships and she will be looking to win another world vault title. Melnikova, 17, helped Russia win a silver medal in the team competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She won first on floor at the 2017 European Championships scoring a very solid 14.100.
Illiankova, 16, is looking to make a strong appearance at her first world championships. She earned a gold medal on bars at the 2017 Osijek Challenge Cup in May, scoring a 14.200. She also placed second on beam. Eremina, 16, is the 2016 European junior all-around champion and is in the running for an all-around title at these world championships. At the 2017 European Championships she won a silver medal on uneven bars, earning a 14.300, and placed fourth in the AA. At Jesolo she won first place on uneven bars and at the Russian Cup in August she placed second in every event except for balance beam where she earned a bronze medal. Eremina is definitely one to watch at this world championships. Look out for her nonstop bar combinations, including a Nabieva to a Pak salto and an inbar stalder to a stunning laid-out Jaeger.
Angelina Melnikova performs on the balance beam at the Rio 2016 Olympics/Reuters
Team: Liu Ting Ting, Wang Yan, Fan Yilin, Luo Huan
China’s world championship team is a group of strong contenders, specifically on balance beam and uneven bars. With China’s long time front-runner Shang Chunsong being left off the worlds team this year, it goes to show how much depth China’s program has right now. On uneven bars, Fan Yilin found herself in a four way tie for gold at the 2015 world championships, and will be the only of the four on the podium in Glasgow returning to defend her title with an impressive set. She has been competing a 6.3 difficulty that is rumored to be increased to a 6.5 difficulty, the highest in the world, by competition time. Fan has been widely regarded as a favorite to repeat as uneven bars champion. Her teammate, Luo Huan, will also be one to watch on the uneven bars. Although Luo does not have a as high of a difficulty score as some others in the field, her advantage comes from her amazing consistency, hitting all 13 of the bar routines she has competed this year. If some of the more competitive sets don’t hit, Luo could sneak onto the podium on her ability to perform under pressure alone.
China’s other traditionally strong event is the balance beam. Liu Tingting is China’s best shot on beam, with a 6.5 difficulty score and the highest international beam score this year. She has a great shot of making the podium, if she is capable of hitting all of her skills in this connection-packed routine. Judges can be stingy on what they count as connected, but as long as she can perform as strong as she has been this year, she absolutely can challenge for beam gold. Luo Huan and Wang Yan also are solid on the event, and have the potential to make finals. Luo is not quite as consistent, but has a good amount of difficulty in her routine. Wang’s difficulty is on the lower side, but she has shown good consistency this year, making for a strong beam lineup for China.
Vault has not been a strong event for China in more recent years. However, they may have a contender in Wang Yan this year, who will be competing for a vault title with a vault combination with one the highest difficulties in the competition. If her form stays clean, she can definitely challenge for a medal. Floor will likely be a weaker event for China this year. Wang Yan is their best bet on floor exercise, competing a 5.9 difficulty. A clean, hit routine could potentially get her into the floor final, one of the weaker event fields this year at worlds.
As for all-around contenders, China’s previous all around favorite, Liu Tingting, recently announced she will only be competing balance beam due to injury. This gives Wang Yan and Luo Huan an opportunity to contend for a spot in the all around final. Wang has some high difficulty on floor and vault that she can use to her advantage in the all around competition. Luo has been deemed a classic all around gymnast, with not one outstanding event but consistency on all four events, which could help her make the final if there are mistakes from others in the competition during qualifications. Overall, China has very high medal potential with this year’s team.
Team: Larisa Iordache, Catalina Ponor, Ioana Crisan
Romania has announced that the three athletes they will be sending to compete at the world championships this upcoming week in Montreal, Québec, Canada, are Larisa Iordache, Catalina Ponor, and Ioana Crisan. It is expected that Iordache and Crisan will be competing in the all-around, with Ponor competing only on the balance beam and floor exercise. Although Romania opted to only send three gymnasts to Montreal, with veterans Iordache and Ponor competing, this team has great potential for multiple medals at worlds.
Having just missed out on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Romania’s golden girl, Larisa Iordache, now has her sights set on a world title. For several years Iordache has been dominating the field with multiple home, international, and World Cup titles on beam, floor, and in the all-around. Having yet to clinch a world title, Iordache is a fan favorite to medal in Montreal next week.
The three-time Olympian, Catalina Ponor, at 30 years old, will be considered a veteran at the world championships. It is likely that Ponor will make the beam final, as she displayed at the European championships that when she hits, her high difficulty allows her to surpass the competition. However, if Ponor struggles to compete a hit floor routine in qualifications, it is uncertain if she can make the final.
Larisa Iordache performs on the balance beam at Summer Universiade.
Team: Amy Tinkler, Claudia Fragapane, Georgia-Mae Fenton, Alice Kinsella
The four athletes selected to represent Great Britain at the 2017 world championships are Amy Tinkler, Claudia Fragapane, Georgia-Mae Fenton, and Alice Kinsella. Due to this being the post-Olympic year, it is expected that teams will not be as competitive as usual, and Great Britain is certainly no exception to this rule. However, with Tinkler and Fragapane both capable of medaling on floor, it is possible Great Britain could leave Montreal with multiple medals.
This being an individual world championships opens an opportunity for Tinkler to compete in the all-around competition. Tinkler has displayed at previous competitions that she is a competitive all-arounder and could post a very high score in the final. Kinsella will be the second all arounder competing for Great Britain in qualifications and despite her lack of consistency and difficulty, with a strong performance, could be a finalist.
Though she lacks the consistency that is necessary, Fenton could land a spot in the bars final this upcoming week in Montreal. However, Fenton will be more so competing to have the Stalder Tkatchev to mixed-grip named. Since Nina Derwael of Belgium will be competing the same skill, it will a competition to see who will be awarded the honor, and if both complete the skill, then unfortunately neither receives the name for the skill.
Team: Ellie Black, Isabela Onyshko, Shallon Olsen, Brooklyn Moors
Canada’s world championship team has home field advantage this year, getting the opportunity to compete in their home country. Team Canada is stronger this year than it has been in past years, so it is a great time for them to compete in front of a home crowd. Canada’s strongest competitor is Ellie Black, a great contender for the all-around final. Her difficulty is competitive enough on all the events to contend for a spot in the final, and potentially a medal with an outstanding competition. Her beam is on the more difficult side, and she has beaten beam front-runner Larisa Iordache this year on the event recently at Summer Universiade. If she can hit in the final, and others with more difficulty cannot, she has good medal potential.
Isabela Onyshko won beam at Canadian nationals this year and has qualified for world beam finals in the past, so she has a good shot at competing in beam finals in front of her home crowd. With a clean routine with a huge 6.8 difficulty score, she is definitely one to watch for in beam finals. Shallon Olsen has the second highest vault difficulty in the competition if she competes to her full potential, and is definitely Canada’s best shot at a vault medal. She has struggled with execution this year, however, if she can clean up her form for worlds, she has a great shot at the podium.
Brooklyn Moors is one of Canada’s better all-around gymnasts, taking home all-around bronze at International Gymnix earlier this year. She is also one of Canada’s best floor gymnasts, as she won floor gold at Pan-Americans. Due to depth of the competition this year, she is not a favorite to make many finals other than potentially a floor final with a well executed routine, but the young gymnast is a great asset to Canada’s future.
Ellie Black performs on the floor exercise at the Canadian Championships.
Team: Mai Murakami, Asuka Teramoto, Sae Miyakawa, Aiko Sugihara
Japan’s 2017 world championship team is unique in that all four members comprised their Rio 2016 Olympic Team that won fourth place in the team finals. Team members include Mai Murakami, Sae Miyakawa, Aiko Sugihara and Asuka Teramoto.
Murakami, 21 years old, won the all-around title at the Japanese Championships the past two years and scored a 14.800 on floor and a 56.100 in the all-around at the Japan Student Championships. This is her fourth world championships and is in the running for an all-around title. Miyakawa, 18, placed 6th in the all-around competition at the Japanese National Championships and won first on vault and floor exercise at the Japanese Individual National Championships.
Sugihara, 18, earned a silver medal in the all-around and a bronze medal on uneven bars and floor exercise at the All-Japan Championships in April. Teramoto, 21, represented Japan at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic games. In Rio she earned eighth in the all-around competition. This year she scored a 56.800 in the all-around competition at the Japan Student Championships in August where she earned a gold medal. She shines on vault and floor exercise and is one to look out for in the all-around competition. It will be fun to watch this team of veterans!
Mai Murakami performs on the floor exercise at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Team: Tabea Alt, Elisabeth Seitz, Pauline Schaefer, Kim Bui
For Germany, a talented gymnastics nation with a solid medal history, expectations should be high for this German team. While their one medalist from the Rio 2016 Olympics, Sophie Scheder, isn’t back from injury yet, this is a team consisting of the four other Olympians in Rio, including the women who finished just behind Scheder on uneven bars in fourth, Elisabeth Seitz, and 2015 worlds balance beam bronze medalist Pauline Schaefer.
The best all-around threat for this German team comes from Stuttgart and London World Cup champion, Tabea Alt. Alt, who has been one of the most consistent performers this year, is solid on all four events and particularly excels on the uneven bars where she will be attempting to have two skills named after her including a Zuchold ½ transition. The 19-year-old looked impressive across all four apparatus in her first place finishes in Stuttgart and London as well as at the recent German World Trials where she won first in the all-around and on vault, where she recently debuted a second vault, a Lopez, to add to her difficulty. Alt definitely won’t be a definitive favorite to reach the vault or uneven bars finals, but she’ll be an outside contender and will also be a top ten threat in the all-around.
Probably the best medal threat for Germany this year is 24-year-old veteran Elisabeth Seitz, who is still aiming for her first world or Olympic medal. Seitz has narrowly missed out on the podium many times before but is once again a contender for a medal on the uneven bars. Seitz took the gold medal on uneven bars at both the German nationals and the German worlds trials, so she’ll be among the favorites to reach the event final in Montreal, with a higher D score than her compatriots Alt and Bui.
Another outside shot of a medal in Montreal is 2015 worlds balance beam bronze medalist Pauline Schaefer. The 20-year-old is a threat on both the balance beam and floor exercise, where she took the gold medals at the German world trials a few weeks prior. Schaefer will again be an outside contender for an event medal, a common theme with this German team, but having actually won that worlds medal in 2015 will make Schaefer a likely option to step up if some of the top balance beam workers fall.
Finally, a team full of veterans’ oldest veteran is 28-year-old Kim Bui, another uneven bars specialist for this German team. Bui has had an impressive last two months on bars, winning the bronze at the German world trials and the silver at Summer Universiade. Unfortunately for Bui, she may be another victim of the two-per-country rule, with both Alt and Seitz likely to score higher than her on uneven bars and keep her out of the event final even if they all three were in the top eight.
The story of Germany’s medal hopes this year comes down to the uneven bars and balance beam as their best shots. Alt, Seitz, and Bui will all be outside contenders to reach the event final on the bars whereas Schaefer will also be an outside shot for the balance beam final. Given the inconsistency of many of the top bars and beam workers, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Germany come away with one or possibly two medals, but they definitely will need some off days from the top contenders on those events.
Tabea Alt performs on the uneven bars at the London World Cup/Getty Images
Team: Tisha Volleman, Eythora Thorsdottir, Sanne Wevers, Lieke Wevers
Coming off a highly successful 2015 worlds and 2016 Olympics, the bar is set high for the Netherlands coming into this year’s world championships in Montreal. A talented and artistic team consists of Dutch all-around champion Tisha Volleman, European championships balance beam silver medalist and floor exercise bronze medalist Eythora Thorsdottir, Rio 2016 balance beam champion Sanne Wevers, and Dutch balance beam champion Lieke Wevers.
The Netherlands’ best shot in the all-around comes from Dutch all-around champion Tisha Volleman. Volleman is strong across all four events and will likely make the all-around final if she continues her strong hit rate in Montreal. Another one of the Dutch team’s best chances for a medal comes from European silver and bronze medalist Eythora Thorsdottir. The 19-year-old has had a stellar year, winning the all-around title to begin 2017 in Reykjavik before claiming silver on beam and bronze on floor at the European championships. Thorsdottir would be among the favorites to reach the event final if she can perform routines close to the insanely high quality she found at the European championships and if she can continue that would be a favorite for a medal on either beam or floor.
The other big medal threat for the Netherlands comes from Rio 2016 balance beam gold medalist Sanne Wevers. The 2015 world balance beam silver medalist has been slightly inconsistent on her signature event this year, with her best performance coming early this year at the Melbourne World Cup where she won the silver medal. For Wevers it’s still unclear how her routine will match up with the new code, given her many beautiful turns and dance elements. Sanne’s twin sister Lieke has competed even less than Sanne in 2017, only competing in two meets, but winning the gold medal at the Dutch invitational before coming to Montreal.
For the Netherlands, their best chances at a medal lies with either Eythora Thorsdottir or Sanne Wevers, even though Wevers is still a major question mark coming into Montreal. Eythora has the artistry and talent to sneak onto the podium in a super tough balance beam field as well as a weak floor exercise field, and if Sanne can recapture her Rio form and peak at the biggest competitions, as she tends to do, the Netherlands could have two medal contenders on the balance beam as well.
Eythora Thorsdottir performs on the balance beam at the Rio 2016 Olympics/Getty Images
Rebeca Andrade is one of the two gymnasts that Brazil will be sending to the 2017 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships this upcoming week in Montreal. Andrade competed alongside Flavia Saraiva, Jade Barbosa, Lorrane Oliveira, and Daniele Hypolito, for their home country at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Having had international competition experience, Andrade will be one to watch at the World Championships as she competes with Thais Fidelis, a talented first year senior.
Andrade is an all-around competitor who especially stands out on vault, where she displays her excellent execution. At the Varna Challenge Cup earlier this month, Andrade posted a 15.15 for her Amanar, the highest score on the event so far this season by any gymnast. Prior to this, Andrade won gold on vault with her Lopez and double twisting Yurchenko at the Koper Challenge Cup.
Besides being strong on vault, Andrade can also post a 6.1 difficulty score on bars, which could allow her to make the event final. Although she has consistently dealt with injuries throughout her career, Andrade is in great shape to medal at worlds this year, and be a significant all-around threat as well, potentially sneaking in for a medal.
Rebeca Andrade performs on the balance beam at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Yes, Oksana Chusovitina is STILL competing at 42 years old. This will be her 11th world championships and she is out to earn her 8th world medal on vault. Throughout her gymnastics career she has competed in 7 Olympic games, representing the Soviet Union, Germany and Uzbekistan. In Rio, Chusovitina competed for Uzbekistan and finished 7th on vault. She earned a silver medal on vault at International Gymnix this year scoring a 14.475 and won the vault title at the Baku and Doha World Cups in March with a 14.333. At these meets, Chusovitina competed a front handspring layout full and a one and a half twisting Tsukahara.
Giulia Steingruber is a standout from Switzerland who is great all-around competitor. She recently had surgery due to a foot injury that kept her out of competition for the majority of the year, but came back to win the all around at the Swiss Championships earlier this month. Her difficulty scores are a bit on the lower side right now due to her injury, but she still will be competing a solid 5.8 balance beam set to potentially challenge for a spot in the final, as well as competing for a spot in the all-around final.
Courtney McGregor, 18 years old, competes for New Zealand. She is a sophomore at Boise State University where she competes for their gymnastics team, making her one of several elite gymnasts doing NCAA as well. McGregor was the first gymnast to compete for New Zealand since 2000 at the Olympics in Rio. She finished 13th on vault, scoring a 14.533 with a double twisting yurchenko and a Lopez. She placed third on vault at the 2016 Pac Rim Championships. During floor exercise qualifications she competed a piked full in, back two and a half twist to front pike, a double back pike and a double back.
Despite a chaotic worlds team selection process, Italy’s best gymnast of the past decade 2006 world all-around champion Vanessa Ferrari is back more than ten years on from her first world medal. Ferrari hadn’t competed since the Rio 2016 games but came back just a few weeks ago at the fourth Italian Serie A, winning the bronze on balance beam and the silver on floor exercise despite looking very rusty. Ferrari, probably brought to Montreal for her experience, still has tremendous skill in the all-around and floor exercise, making her a threat for both finals even though it is unclear if she will do the all-around or not.
One of the under-the-radar all-around threats, Hungary’s Zsofia Kovacs has put together one of the most solid and consistent all-around years in this worlds field. Having finished second in the all-around at the European championships and the WOGA Classic, Kovacs has re-established herself as a strong gymnasts across all four events, with particular skill on the uneven bars, where she won silver medals at the Doha, Osijek, and Szombathely World Cups this season. While it would be a surprise to see Kovacs in any event finals in Montreal, the Hungarian veteran should make the all-around final and if she performs like she did at European championships, she’d definitely be around the top ten finishers.
Returning from a season-ending injury at Cal last year to compete in Montreal for Jamaica, Toni-Ann Williams is one of several outstanding NCAA and elite gymnasts. Williams, a Ri 2016 Olympian, is competing in her first elite competition since Rio and after this worlds will be gearing up for another season with one of the top NCAA teams, the Cal Bears. Williams isn’t a threat to make any finals, but her fun gymnastics and NCAA plus elite background makes her an interesting individual to watch.
Thomas Cluck- 1. Ragan Smith, 2. Larisa Iordache, 3. Rebeca Andrade
Mary Fay Carr- 1. Larisa Iordache, 2. Ragan Smith, 3. Angelina Melnikova
Hannah Lerner- 1. Ragan Smith, 2. Larisa Iordache, 3. Angelina Melnikova
Casey Shearns- 1. Larisa Iordache, 2. Ragan Smith, 3. Angelina Melnikova
Thomas Cluck- 1. Rebeca Andrade, 2. Jade Carey, 3. Maria Paseka
Mary Fay Carr- 1. Rebeca Andrade, 2. Jade Carey, 3. Maria Paseka
Hannah Lerner- 1. Jade Carey, 2. Sae Miyakawa, 3. Oksana Chusovitina
Casey Shearns- 1. Rebeca Andrade, 2. Jade Carey, 3. Shallon Olsen
Thomas Cluck- 1. Anastasia Illiankova, 2. Fan Yilin, 3. Elena Eremina
Mary Fay Carr- 1. Nina Derwael, 2. Fan Yilin, 3. Ashton Locklear
Hannah Lerner- 1. Elena Eremina, 2. Ashton Locklear, 3. Luo Huan
Casey Shearns- 1. Anastasia Illiankova, 2. Fan Yilin, 3. Elena Eremina
Thomas Cluck- 1. Larisa Iordache 2. Ragan Smith, 3. Eythora Thorsdottir
Mary Fay Carr- 1. Ragan Smith, 2. Liu Ting Ting, 3. Larisa Iordache
Hannah Lerner- 1. Sanne Wevers, 2. Ragan Smith, 3. Eythora Thorsdottir
Casey Shearns- 1. Liu Ting Ting, 2. Ragan Smith, 3. Larisa Iordache
Thomas Cluck- 1. Mai Murakami, 2. Ragan Smith, 3. Angelina Melnikova
Mary Fay Carr- 1. Mai Murakami, 2. Ragan Smith, 3. Angelina Melnikova
Hannah Lerner- 1. Jade Carey, Mai Murakami, 3. Angelina Melnikova
Casey Shearns- 1. Mai Murakami, 2. Jade Carey, 3. Morgan Hurd
As the World championships near, the question of who will represent Team USA in Montréal, Québec, Canada has finally been answered, as USA Gymnastics announced that the four athletes selected to compete are Ragan Smith, Jade Carey, Morgan Hurd, and Ashton Locklear.
Being a 2016 Olympic team alternate and having dominated the competition field throughout 2017, Ragan Smith has been a favorite for the Worlds team for quite some time now. At the beginning of this year Smith came out with great determination and a big win at the American Cup, where she won the all-around title. Following this win, Smith debuted an upgraded bars routine at the U.S. Classic, which allowed her to place first on the event. To continue the streak, Smith came out strong at nationals with a new crowd pleasing floor routine, which helped her to clinch the all-around gold. Smith has great potential to medal in the all-around final in Montréal, as well as in the beam and floor finals.
Having vaulted her way into the elite scene earlier this year, previous level 10 gymnast, Jade Carey, is essential to Team USA as a vault specialist. Carey quickly became one to watch this year, as she was the only gymnast to compete two vaults at the P&G championships, thus making her eligible to compete in the event final at Worlds. While Carey’s two vaults, an Amanar and a Kaz full, need some cleaning up, her potential on this event as well as on floor is what landed her a spot on the team. Carey’s impressive tumbling, which includes a double-double and a full-twisting double layout, is world class and could contend for a medal at the World championships.
Morgan Hurd, an all-around competitor and first year senior, came out strong in 2017, however, has struggled with inconsistency throughout the season. Hurd competed internationally in Germany at the 2017 Stuttgart World Cup and in Italy at the City of Jesolo Trophy, but struggled to stay consistent at other competitions like the U.S. Classic. Despite consistency issues at nationals, Hurd is a fan favorite on floor, where she displays her excellent power and artistry. With improved consistency, Hurd will be a strong contender for an all-around medal at Worlds.
Ashton Locklear is known for her gorgeous lines and execution on uneven bars, which allowed her to land a spot as an alternate on the 2016 Olympic team. Locklear will serve as a leader on the team, as she is the only gymnast on the team that has competed at a World championships in the past. In 2014, Locklear competed at Worlds in Nanning, China, and won the team gold medal as well as placing fourth in the uneven bars event final. Prior to the 2016 Olympic Games, Locklear took time off from the sport to rest her body and tour the country on the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. Coming back from taking time off has been a long process and she has yet to regain her full difficulty on bars, which makes some question her ability to medal at Worlds. However, once Locklear adds her inbar skills back into her routine, the combination of her unmatched execution and higher difficulty will put her into contention for a medal on the event.
Jordan Chiles (alternate)-
Jordan Chiles, having struggled with injuries and coaching changes throughout 2016 and 2017, was a fan favorite when she returned to the scene at the P&G Championships last month. Chiles was one of many contenders for the second all-around spot on the Worlds team, as she is strong on all four events, including vault, where she was said to be training both and Amanar and a Lopez. Chiles will serve as the non-travelling alternate on the team, meaning she will not be travelling to Montréal unless necessary.
USA Gymnastics announced this week that on Wednesday, September 20th, we will learn who will be the four gymnasts competing at the World Championships in October following Worlds Selection Camp this week.
The selection process spans a few months. During the summer months, gymnast have a chance to show off their routines to the National Team coordinator and staff at the U.S. Classics and the P&G National Championships. Many gymnasts also will attend at least one National Team Camp.
Based on the top performances at these events, invites are then given out to a select group of gymnasts by the National Team coordinator to attend Worlds Team Selection Camp, a camp where gymnasts have their last shot to show off corrections and routines, and where the final decision on the team is made. All of the national team was invited to the camp, along with two other gymnasts.
This years athletes invited to Worlds Selection Camp are:
Riley McCusker (Has since withdrawn from the selection process due to injury.)
During a post Olympic year, there is no team competition. Therefore, the four women selected will solely be competing for individual event and all-around titles.
With so many rising stars in contention, it will be a test of who can shine on an international stage, the first step toward their Olympic dreams.
This weekend, the country’s best elite gymnasts visited Anaheim, California to compete at the P&G Gymnastics Championships. Both junior and senior women competed over a span of two days to vy for national all-around and event titles, and for seniors, a chance to make a case for a spot on the US World Championships team in October in Montreal.
Defending junior national all-around champion Maile O’Keefe of Salcianu Elite had an outstanding competition to take home her second consecutive Junior National Title this weekend, finishing with a 114.450 all-around score over both nights. She also took home first on uneven bars, scoring a 14.200 night one and a 14.050 on night two. Maile also earned silver on vault with a 14.700 and a 14.600, floor exercise with a 14.050 and a 13.900 and balance beam with a 14.45 and a 14.5. This was Maile’s final Junior National Championships, as she turns senior in 2018 and will absolutely be one to watch next year.
Coming in second by two points was Texas Dreams standout and US Classic champion Emma Malabuyo, finishing both nights with an all around score of 112.450. Emma also won the national title on the floor exercise, scoring a 14.250 night one and a 13.800 night two. She also earned second on the uneven bars, with a 14.100 night one and a 13.850 night two. The junior national silver medalist also earned the bronze on vault, with a 14.500 night one and a 14.700 night two. Emma will also turn senior in 2018, and it will be fun to watch her and Maile continue to compete against one another at the senior level, with Emma coming out on top a few weeks ago in Chicago and Mailie winning this time around in Los Angeles.
The up and coming Kara Eaker of GAGE earned third all around, with the score of 111.250. She also won the junior national title on balance beam, scoring a 14.850 night one and a huge 15.150 night two. Kara has proven herself to be quite the talent on beam, and also showed her ability to perform well in the all-around during the competition.
Other notable performances include the national junior vault champion Leanne Wong of GAGE, scoring a 14.650 night one and a 14.800 night two to earn first place on the event. Adeline Kenlin of Iowa GymNest came in 4th in the all-around competition with a 109.75 and took home the bronze on balance beam with a 13.950 night one and a 14.550 night two. City of Jesolo Trophy champion Gabby Perea did not compete in the all around, but took home the third on uneven bars with a stellar 14.455 routine on night two.
Rio 2016 Olympic alternate Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams showed off her experience and poise with a convincing all-around national title, posting a 115.250 all-around score over two nights of competition. Ragan was also the national champion on balance beam, scoring a 14.500 night one and a massive 15.050 night two. She also took the national title on floor exercise showing off her new routine, scoring a 14.200 night one and a 14.350 night two. Scoring a 14.400 night one and a 14.100, Ragan earned third place on the uneven bars, where she has shown the most improvements and upgrades this quad. Ragan has showed throughout competition season she is the leader of the group, and ever improving.
Earning the national all-around silver medal was Jordan Chiles of Naydenov’s, scoring 111.850 in the all-around over two nights. After trailing Riley McCusker night one, she had a solid competition night two to grab second place, even with an error on balance beam on her wolf turn, which turned into a viral save moment on social media, in the final rotation. Jordan showed great difficulty and the ability to hit when needed this weekend, and put herself in the hunt for a spot on the World Championships team.
Riley McCusker of MG Elite came in third in the all-around competition, with a final all-around score of 111.650. Riley also won the national title on uneven bars, scoring a 14.550 night one and a 14.450 night two. She also earned second on balance beam, scoring a 14.400 night one and a 14.500 night two. This was a solid competition for Riley, after struggling with consistency and injuries this season, she was able to successfully hit both nights. She showed off her beautiful form and difficulty and will be a great candidate for worlds team selection.
Other notable performances include a national vault title for Jade Carey of Oasis, scoring a 14.700 night one and a 14.400 night two. Although Jade was the only athlete competing two vaults for a vault title, she is a clear standout on the event and makes a great case for the World Championships team. She also earned silver on floor exercise with a 14.100 and a 14.400, competing one of the highest floor difficulties in the world.
Rio 2016 Olympic alternate Ashton Locklear of Everest took home second on the uneven bars with a 14.400, but is still not competing her full difficulty on the event. Trinity Thomas of Prestige came in 4th in the all around with a 111.350, and took home bronze on both the balance beam and floor exercise.
2017 P&G Championships Preview
By: Hannah Lerner
The P&G Championships will take place on August 17-20 in Anaheim, California. 54 gymnasts from across the country will be competing for national titles and many are hoping to be selected onto the US National Team. This competition is also crucial for determining who will compete at the World Championships this fall. There will be a lot of familiar faces from the US Classic will be competing at P&G’s and many of those who only performed 1-2 events at the US Classic will be competing in the all-around at this competition.
Emma Malabuyo: photo by USA Gymnastics
The talent shines bright for the young stars competing in the junior session. Maile O’Keefe and Emma Malabuyo are in strong contention to win the all-around title. Malabuyo from Texas Dreams won the US Classic with a 56.750, outscoring all gymnasts in the entire competition, while O’Keefe came in second to Malabuyo. Gabby Perea from Legacy Elite was the junior all-around champion at 2017 Jesolo Trophy and only competed bars at the US Classic, winning with a 14.500. Other stars from the US Classic like Grace McCallum and Adeline Kenlin will be competing at this competition. Twin City Twisters’ Grace McCallum had the 3rd highest AA score of the junior competition at the US Classic and had the highest vault score of the night. IGN’s Adeline Kenlin won beam at the US Classic with a 14.850. GAGE’s Leanne Wong stood out at the US Classic with her impeccable form and artistry and will be competing at this competition.
Ragan Smith: photo by USA Gymnastics
There is certainly no lack of talent in the senior session, as Olympic alternates Ragan Smith and Ashton Locklear will be fighting for national titles, along with many others. Texas Dreams’ Ragan Smith won the 2017 American Cup and is certainly a favorite to win the all-around.
We will get to see Locklear perform on her best event, the uneven bars, as well as beam. Morgan Hurd will be competing in the all-around in this competition and is definitely fighting for a spot on the World Championships team. Hurd won the bronze medal in the all-around at the 2017 Stuttgart World Cup and has incredible execution and difficulty. Alyona Schennikova surprised many by winning the senior competition at the US Classic and will be looking to have another great competition and prove herself worthy of making the World’s team.
Riley McCusker: photo by USA Gymnastics
MG Elite’s Riley McCusker, winner of the all-around and beam titles at 2017 Jesolo Trophy, will be fighting to give a stronger performance than was seen at the US Classic, where she had minimal time to prepare after coming back from several injuries. Jade Carey emerged at the US Classic as a floor and vault powerhouse, winning those two events in the senior competition. If she performs well at this competition, she will have a solid argument to compete at World’s. Additionally, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf will compete in the all-around after only competing one event at the US Classic due to an illness. Chow’s Victoria Nguyen, who won silver in the all-around at the 2017 London World Cup, didn’t compete at the US Classic but will be competing in the AA at P&G National Championships.
A live stream of the senior and junior competitions will be available on the USA Gymnastics YouTube channel. Samantha Peszek, Jordyn Wieber and Jonathan Horton will host webcasts of the junior competitions on http://www.pgchamps.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @USAMSO for live tweets of the competition.
Schedule for the competition, pacific time:
Thursday, August 17: Juniors at 1 p.m., seniors at 7 p.m.
Friday, August 18: Juniors at 1 p.m., seniors at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 19: Juniors at 12 p.m., seniors at 5 p.m.
Sunday, August 20: Juniors at 11 a.m., seniors at 3:30 p.m.
In a wide open field at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Illinois with many of the top US women’s worlds team contender opting not do the all-around, it was Alyona Shchennikova who seized the moment and took the senior title at the US Classic in Chicago. Shchennikova of 5280 Gymnastics, the younger sister of former US women’s national team member and current Michigan Wolverines gymnast Polina Shchennikova, was consistent and clean throughout the competition, showcasing her best gymnastics early on to score a dominant 54.950 all-around score, nearly two points higher than second place.
Coming in second place was one of the favorites going into the competition, Abby Paulson of Twin City Twisters. The 17-year-old also enjoyed a very solid competition, finishing with an all-around score of 53.100 overall, two-tenths better than third place finishers Luisa Blanco of WOGA and Kalyany Steele.
For Shchennikova, the 16-year-old began her competition with a bang, immediately scoring a big 14.350 on her solid double-twisting Yurchenko vault before another huge score of 14.500 on uneven bars, with her impressive Tskatchev and Ricna to Pak combination earning her a second place finish on that apparatus. A solid 12.850 and 13.250 on balance beam and floor exercise respectively sealed her first all-around finish here at Classics.
For the second place finisher Paulson, she was rock solid across the board, scoring a 13.000 on vault, a 13.350 on uneven bars, a 13.500 on balance beam, and a 13.250 on floor exercise, a very consistent showing from a very dependable gymnast.
Alyona Shchennikova on the balance beam during podium training at the City of Jesolo Trophy/FloGymnastics
A surprise third place finisher who impressed tonight was first-year elite Luisa Blanco of WOGA, fighting through an injury to put up a marker as to her talents and prospects as an outsider to make the world’s team. Blanco, an Alabama Crimson Tide commit, was also extremely consistent across all four apparatuses, scoring 13.400 on vault, 12.850 on uneven bars, a huge 14.300 on balance beam for second place, and a 12.350 on floor exercise to round out her meet.
Some potential world team members were also shining brightly in Chicago, as Rio 2016 US Women’s Gymnastics Team alternate Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams was insanely impressive on her two events of the night, uneven bars and balance beam, posting a big 14.550 on uneven bars to take the title on that event with two impressive upgrades, a brand new Downie and a new Ricna to Pak connection. On the balance beam, the American Cup champion’s signature event, Smith put up a huge 15.350, the highest event score of the night to take the title on that apparatus as well in large part due to her very difficult standing full and very clean double pike dismount.
Ragan Smith at the 2016 US Women’s Gymnastics Olympic Trials in San Jose/USA Gymnastics
The only other gymnast with major international experience in tonight’s competition was another Rio 2016 US Women’s Gymnastics Team alternate, Ashton Locklear, who finished fourth on uneven bars at the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Nanning. The 19-year-old reigning uneven bars national champion opted not to perform uneven bars tonight due to some pain and a poor performance during podium training yesterday on what Locklear called some very loose bars. The Everest gymnast did show some very impressive upgrades and clean execution on balance beam, with a triple and double wolf turns and her back-handspring layout stepout and side somi accentuating a very impressive balance beam routine for a 13.600 with only her hands down on her under-rotated double tuck dismount the only real dedcution.
Ashton Locklear on balance beam at the City of Jesolo Trophy/FloGymnastics
A gymnast who put her name on the map as a potential worlds team member was Jade Carey, who had a massively impressive night, winning the vault and floor exercise titles with a 14.350 on her hugely difficult tsuk double full and Amanar vaults and her double layout and double full tucked full in on the floor to show herself as a potential worlds medal contender on both events.
Finally two of the other potential favorites for a spot on this year’s worlds team in Montreal had solid showings as well with American Cup competitor and City of Jesolo Trophy all-around champion Riley McCusker of MG Elite scoring a 13.450 on uneven bars, a 13.000 on balance beam, and a 13.300 on floor exercise to keep her stock high despite having to not perform vault due to some serious injuries the past month.
Morgan Hurd was also good on the two events she competed scoring a 13.650 on balance beam and a 13.850 and skipping vault and floor exercise due to a nagging elbow injury.
Junior elite gymnasts from across the country competed in the U.S. Classic to show off their hard work and to qualify for the P&G National Championships. We saw a lot of incredible gymnastics from these rising stars.
Photo by John Cheng
Grace McCallum from Twin City Twisters’ took the all-around title in the junior session with a 54.15. Sydney Davis from WOGA was not far behind, scoring a 53.75, and Kara Eaker from GAGE won third place in the all-around with a 53.6. Six juniors competed in the senior session, results of which are not included here.
Photo by John Cheng
Some gymnasts especially stood out today. Grace McCallum performed a beautiful double twisting yurchenko, scoring the highest on vault with a 14.650. Madelyn WIlliams from San Mateo Gymnastics showed exquisite form on bars, taking the lead with a huge 14.300. Kara Eaker had the highest beam score with a 14.250. Her unique routine included a switch leap mount, a split leap to a side somi, and a beautiful side aerial LOSO LOSO series. Not to mention her round off BHS 2.5 twist dismount! Texas Dreams’ Annie beard took the floor title with a 13.4, showing off her creative choreography and clean tumbling.
Photo by John Cheng
TIGAR’s Jay Jay Marshall showed sky-high tumbling, opening with a dos santos and ending with a 1.5 twist to triple full. JaFree Scott from GAGE showed incredible potential on floor, nailing four double salto passes. Leanne Wong from GAGE presented a beautiful floor routine with impeccable form and nailed a triple full. Audrey Davis’ beam and bar routines earned her second place on both events. She showed classic WOGA precision on bars, finishing her pirouettes right on top of the bar and making her piked jaeger look effortless. Shilese Jones was a powerhouse on floor, opening with a huge double double.
It is safe to say that the future is bright for these gymnasts. We look forward to watching many of them at the P&G Championships!
This upcoming weekend some of the biggest names in elite gymnastics will be showcased at the 2017 U.S. Classic. Gymnasts from across the country will gather in Chicago, Illinois at the Sears Centre to compete and display their skills. This competition is the last opportunity for these gymnasts to qualify for the P&G Gymnastics Championships, which will take place next month in Anaheim, California. The athletes who have already qualified use this weekend as a final chance to prepare their routines for the national championships.
Among the 73 elite gymnasts competing this weekend are Rio 2016 US Women’s Gymnastics Olympic team alternates, Ragan Smith and Ashton Locklear, who headline the field for the senior competition. Specifically, Locklear will be competing to defend her uneven bars national title and is a fan favorite because at 19 years old, she is currently the most decorated active US gymnast. On the other hand, American Cup champion Ragan Smith is a favorite to win the all-around and if she competes all four events, it’s likely she will.
(Ashton Locklear competing on balance beam at the 2017 City of Jesolo Trophy)
Other big names featured in the senior competition include Riley McCusker, Morgan Hurd, Trinity Thomas, Alyona Shchennikova, and Abby Paulson. All five of these athletes competed for Team USA at the City of Jesolo Trophy and are dominant on certain events. Riley McCusker of MG Elite is a first year senior who not only won the all-around gold in Jesolo, but also struck gold in the balance beam event finals. Since Jesolo, McCusker has struggled to come back from several injuries, however, is still fighting to make the worlds team. Hurd also has a good chance at placing in and possibly winning the all-around title if Smith and McCusker don’t compete all four events.
(Riley McCusker and Ragan Smith warming up prior to the 2017 American Cup)
Other senior elites that tend to fly under the radar include Margzetta Frazier, Elena Arenas, Jade Carey, Deanne Soza, and Jordan Chiles. Jade Carey of Oasis Gymnastics is one to watch on vault as she will be competing two insanely difficult vaults, an amanar and a Kasamatsu. If Carey successfully completes both vaults she could become a contender for a spot on the worlds team.
Due to the large quantity of junior gymnasts competing this weekend, the six junior national team members will be rotating with the seniors. Maile O’Keefe, Adeline Kenlin, Emma Malabuyo, Gabby Perea, Sunisa Lee, and Olivia Dunne, while in a different session, will still be competing for junior titles. Maile O’keefe, the reigning junior national champion, is a favorite to win the all-around title. Adeline Kenlin is strong on balance beam and proved at the City of Jesolo Trophy that she can also post an extremely high all-around score. Emma Malabuyo, possibly the second favorite for the junior title this weekend, is a great all-arounder and if given the opportunity, could definitely snag the title, as well. At the City of Jesolo Trophy Gabby Perea posted the highest junior all-around score this year, however, will only be competing uneven bars this weekend due to an ankle injury.
The junior competition will be streamed live on YouTube at 2:00 p.m. ET and the senior competition will follow at 8:00 p.m. ET on the Olympic Channel. A live stream of the senior competition will also be available on the USA Gymnastics YouTube channel, along with videos of each routine which will be posted after the meet. To ensure you get the best coverage throughout the weekend, make sure to follow us on Twitter @USAMSO for live tweets and coverage of the event on Meet Scores Online.
Madison Raesly-Patton took 2017 by storm. The 12-year-old Texas Dreams gymnast dominated her first year of Level 9 competition, first taking home the all-around title at the Texas State Championships. Madison also won uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise in her age division at state.
After qualifying at the Region 3 Level 9 Regional Championships, Madison headed to Idaho for Level 9 Westerns, where she gave an outstanding performance. Madison swept her age division, taking home a first place finish on all four events; scoring a 9.600 on vault, a 9.725 on uneven bars, a 9.625 on balance beam, and a 9.650 on floor exercise.
Along with winning her age group, Madison posted a 38.600, the highest all-around score recorded for a Level 9 at both the Western and Eastern Championships. After a season of dominating beam performances, she also tied for the highest balance beam score of the meet.
Madison is coached by Marcus Harlin and Alicia Goodwin.
This past weekend the top level 9 gymnasts from the East Coast gathered in Lansing, Michigan to showcase their incredible skills at the 2017 Level 9 Eastern Championships. These gymnasts, each representing their respective regions, competed by age division in hopes of clinching the title of Eastern National Champion. The competition was fierce, with many standout performances, however, only a select few came out victorious.
The gymnasts that competed for Region 5 scored a total score of 150.000 points in competition and had made it possible for their team to be rewarded the super-team title. The rankings show that they were followed by Region 7 in second place and Region 8 in third.
The girls that comprised the winning team traveled from all over Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio in order to represent their region in competition. Some of the standout performances from girls in Region 5 came from Izzabel Geig, Sophia Rios, and Shannon Chase. All three girls placed first all-around in their age groups with extremely high scores. Izzabel Geig, from Gymnastics World Inc., scored her personal best during competition with a 37.925. Geig took the all-around title as well as the bars and beam title with a 9.575 on both. Sophia Rios, of Gedderts Twistars USA, scored a 37.900, clinching not only the all-around title, but also the beam title with a 9.425. Shannon Chase, from Emeth Gymnastics, tied for first all-around in her age division with a 37.900. Chase also received the vault title with a 9.700, and the floor title with a 9.500.
Finishing in second place were the girls representing Region 7. These gymnasts from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia also had a phenomenal competition with a total score of 148.800. Mary McGinty, Emma Loyim, and Sarah Cohen all impressed during their competitions, in which they represented Region 7. Mary McGinty, of AJS Pancott Gymnastics, tied for the title of all-around champion with a score of 37.900, and she took home the bars title with a score of 9.725. Also with a score of 37.900, Emma Loyim, of North Stars Gymnastics Academy, took first place all-around and first place on bars with a 9.675. Sarah Cohen, of Hill’s Gymnastics, was second to Loyim in the all-around with a 37.850, however, took the beam title with a 9.425 on the event.
Taking third at Easterns with a score of 148.100, was the gymnasts of Region 8. These girls from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee displayed an incredible level of skill throughout the competition, ultimately securing their spot as third place team. Jennifer McMillan, Gwendolyn Fink, and Kiley Rorich, all of Southeastern Gymnastics Center, impressed the judges with their routines, leading them each to their individual success. Jennifer McMillan secured the highest all-around score of the competition with an impression 37.950. McMillan also received the beam title with a 9.500. Gwendolyn Fink placed first in the all-around, with a 37.725, and took the bars and beam title with a 9.500 on each. With an all-around score of 37.650, Kiley Rorich placed second in the all-around and second on bars with a 9.550.
Team awards aside, there was an incredible amount of talented athletes who impressed at the 2017 Level 9 Eastern Championships, and we recognize all of those who competed in this fierce competition.
Sander’s “never give up attitude” wins her Eastern Nationals
(Katya Sander hits her bar routine to win the Level 9 Eastern Championship title.)
By: Sasha Sander
For many rising gymnastics stars, level 9 eastern nationals is the biggest competition of the season. This competition makes all the long practices, bloody rips and nagging injuries worth it.
For 13-year-old Katya Sander, a gymnast at the Perfection Gymnastics School in West Chester, Ohio, the competition came as a life lesson. Before starting the competition Sander walked into the arena knowing if she wanted to come out on top, she had to be solid. However, her solid attempt turned into a shaky start after falling on her first event on a beam flight series. She scored an 8.875.
“When I fell I just told myself if I get a 10.0 on every event, I could get a 38.875. So if I try my very best, there’s still hope,” Sander said.
So try she did, Katya Sander scored an outstanding 9.450 (FX), 9.625 (VT) and a 9.750 (UB) to give her an all-around score of 37.700. Sander’s highest all-around was at the Pikes Peak Cup where she earned a 38.550.
On floor, Sander competed a front layout front full, round off back handspring one and a half and a roundoff back handspring one and a half front lay out to finish her routine. Her first two passes had really good air time but ended with a big step on the landing. Sander's leap and turn had great technique and extension which led to no deduction on these elements.
Sander competed a yurchenko layout on vault. She received a high score due to her flat body position during the layout and only taking a small step on the landing.
On the uneven bars, Sander made sure to hit all her handstands although being a little short on the handstand before her dismount. Her bail to handstand (high to low element) was tight with no leg separation. For her dismount, Sander stuck her double back dismount.
(Ella Walling placed second with a 37.650 and Eliza Millar placed third with a 37.575. Both gymnasts scored their highest all around of the season at this competition.)
“Winning the title just taught me that I should never give up trying even if I mess up along the way,” Sander said
Sander’s coach Luke Wasson knew Sander could come out with a win but says he remains pleasantly surprised considering the circumstance.
“Winning nationals with a fall, is unheard of,” Wasson said.
Sander says the win is especially memorable because her carpool buddy/teammate Anna Winger also came home with an all around title scoring a 37.800.
“I get to share this awesome feeling with one of my besties,” Sander said.
Sander and Winger both represented Region 5 at level 9 eastern nationals. Region 5 won both the junior and senior team divisions.
It was a historic night for the number one ranked Oklahoma Sooners in St. Louis at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Super Six Team Finals as the defending national champions notched the highest team score in NCAA Gymnastics history to claim their third national title. The Sooners, lead by head coach KJ Kindler, put on a masterclass in sticking landings, sticking 93 percent of their landings on the biggest stage at Super Six in front of an electric Chaifetz Arena.
After a disappointing semifinals for Oklahoma and a record breaking performance for LSU, it was a role reversal on Saturday night at Super Six as the Sooners came out red hot not putting a foot wrong, while the Tigers were slightly subpar, leaving a few tenths on the floor here and there throughout the competition. Oklahoma finished with a historic team score of 198.3875 whereas LSU finished six tenths behind with a solid, but not exceptional 197.7375 for the Tigers.
Finishing a close third was three-time national champions Florida with a strong 197.7000 for the Gators and in fourth was six-time national champions UCLA with a very respectable 197.2625. In fifth with a slightly underwhelming performance was the ten-time national champions Red Rocks of Utah with a 196.5875 and in sixth was six-time national champions Alabama with a low 196.0000.
For Oklahoma, the Sooners begun the Super Six in the locker room with a bye before heading to one of their best events, the uneven bars. On the bars, the Sooners came out red hot, counting no score below 9.8875 including huge 9.9250s from Brenna Dowell and Nicole Lehrman and a massive 9.950 from anchor and uneven bars co-national champion Maggie Nichols for a very impressive 49.5875 to begin their competition.
On the balance beam, an event KJ Kindler’s squad ranks number one on in the country, Oklahoma was even more impressive, once again counting no score below 9.8875 and receiving huge marks from Natalie Brown and senior Chayse Capps with big 9.950s and a perfect 10.0 from freshman phenom Maggie Nichols to total a huge 49.7000 for the Sooners on the beam.
Heading to floor exercise, Oklahoma left off right where they begun competition with more near flawless gymnastics, counting no score below 9.900 including a 9.9125 from Capps and two 9.950s from the final two gymnasts in their lineup, Maggie Nichols and AJ Jackson helping the Sooners amass a very impressive 49.6125 on the floor exercise.
Heading into the sixth and final rotation with a national championship on the line, the Sooners cooled down a little, only posting two scores of 9.9000 or higher, with big marks of 9.9500 from AJ Jackson and a huge 9.9625 from Maggie Nichols to clinch a third national championship for Oklahoma, a thoroughly dominant performance all season long from the Oklahoma Sooners.
“We had just amazing performance after amazing performance," said Oklahoma head coach KJ Kindler. "It felt crazy, really. I almost felt like I wasn’t here—it was that amazing. To have that kind of a performance from a coaching standpoint, wow. As an athlete, to be in that state of mind and to get your body to do what they got their bodies to do tonight over and over and over, performance after performance—I don’t think you see that very often, and I don’t know if we’ve done it at the national championship before the way we did tonight. It’s just a really special night,” concluded an overjoyed coach Kindler after winning her third national championship.
For LSU, it was a tough, emotional night for the Tigers, coming up short on their quest for a program first national title. After a near perfect semifinal performance, breaking NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships records, the Tigers were short of their performance from the previous night. LSU begun on the floor exercise, one of their best events, but early lineup jitters proved detrimental for the Tigers despite three scores of 9.9000 or higher from Sarah Finnegan, McKenna Kelley, and Ashleigh Gnat to round out the rotation for a 49.3250.
LSU moved to the vault, another of their best events where the Tigers ranked number one in the country, but a difficult vault rotation filled with hops on landings cost DD Breaux’s squad mightily, with no scores above 9.9000 on their best event leading to a low 49.3000 from the Tigers. On the uneven bars, LSU’s weakest event, the SEC champions stepped up, showing incredible fight to score three 9.900s from Kennedi Edney, Sarah Finnegan, and Lexie Priessman for a strong 49.3875 on the apparatus.
On their final event of the night, the Tigers once again showed tremendous heart, sticking to their motto for the 2017 season “All Heart”, LSU counted no scores below 9.900 on the balance beam, with a 9.9125 from leadoff Erin Macadaeg, a 9.9375 from freshman Kennedi Edney, two 9.950s from Myia Hambrick and senior Ashleigh Gnat, and a massive 9.975 from Sarah Finnegan to total a huge 49.7250 for the Tigers on the balance beam, the highest beam score for any team the entire weekend, an incredible way to end a historic season for the Tigers culminating in a second consecutive national runners up finish for LSU.
“Tonight we couldn’t get any traction or build any momentum,” said a very candid LSU head coach DD Breaux. “I am so proud though of the way we fought back tonight though and closed the night on beam. That was an incredible performance by the entire beam lineup.”
For three-time national champions Florida, the Gators, led by Jenny Rowland, showed impressive consistency and fight throughout the weekend, scoring strongly at both semifinals and Super Six. The Gators begun on balance beam, where despite a mid-lineup fall from freshman Rachel Gowey, Florida bounced back impressively a 9.9125 from newly crowned NCAA all-around champion Alex McMurtry to secure a solid 49.3000 on the beam.
After a bye before floor exercise, the Gators were very strong on their second event, counting no score below 9.8375 including an impressive 9.9250 from Kennedy Baker and two huge 9.950s from Alex McMurtry and Alicia Boren for a big 49.5000 on the floor exercise. Florida then moved to the vault, their best event, where scores of 9.900 from Kennedy Baker and 9.9375 from Alex McMurtry helped make up for a low score for Alicia Boren on an under rotated Yurchenko one and a half for a solid 49.3625.
The Gators ended on the uneven bars, where an end of lineup surge from Rachel Gowey and Amelia Hundley’s 9.900s and a perfect 10.0 from anchor Alex McMurtry helped to put an exclamation point on a very impressive competition for Florida resulting in a strong third place finish, the Gators’ fifth top four finish at Super Six since 2012.
"This team did a tremendous job of fighting,'' said Florida head coach Jenny Rowland. "We had a few mistakes, but everybody came back to cover each other and really, that's what this team has been about all year long. I'm extremely proud."
It was an exhilarating second semifinal tonight at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis, with number two LSU, number three Florida, and number six Alabama impressing on their ways to the Super Six Team Finals. Second-ranked LSU, seeking their first national championship, soared through this session, scoring a huge 198.275 to qualify to Super Six, where the Tigers will be joined by Florida scoring an impressive 197.8125, and Alabama with a very strong 197.600.
Finishing below LSU, Florida, and Alabama was Nebraska putting up a very respectable score of 197.2125 for fourth, Michigan in a disappointing fifth with a 196.4625, and Georgia struggling in sixth with a low 195.800.
For LSU, the Tigers begun lights out on the floor exercise, amazingly counting no score lower than 9.900, with three huge 9.950s from Myia Hambrick, Sarah Finnegan, and McKenna Kelley and a massive 9.9625 from AAI Award winner Ashleigh Gnat to garner a whopping 49.7125 on the floor, the second highest floor score in NCAA history. On the vault it was more of the same from DD Breaux’s squad, again posting three 9.900s or above from Sydney Ewing with a huge 9.9625, Hambrick with another big score of 9.9825, and freshman Kennedi Edney posting an extremely high 9.9875 to score an impressive 49.625 on the vault, another one of LSU’s best events.
After a bye in the locker room, LSU went to uneven bars, their weakest event, showing more controlled handstands and better landings with a 9.925 from Lexie Priessman and a big 9.950 from Sarah Finnegan for the Tigers to score a much improved 49.4125, something that will be critical for DD Breaux’s squad if they want to take home their first national championship on Saturday.
LSU finished on the balance beam with for a second time no score below 9.900 counted, including a 9.9125 from Finnegan and a 9.9375 from Hambrick and Gnat to amass another big score of 49.5875 for the Tigers on balance beam, wrapping up a season best meet for them.
“It was an incredible first night of competition and there was so much energy in the building tonight,” said LSU head coach DD Breaux. “I am really excited and proud of what our team did. It’s been a great season and I can’t expect this team to do any more than they’ve done tonight. We’ll regroup and go out there tomorrow night with a lot of energy and the same outlook as tonight,” concluded the 40-year head coach of the Tigers.
For Florida, the third-ranked Gators and three-time national champions begun strongly on the vault, counting no scores below 9.8500 including 9.900s from Alicia Boren and Rachel Slocum and a huge 9.975 from Alex McMurtry on her double-twisting Yurchenko for a very impressive 49.5125 for Jenny Rowland’s squad to begin. The Gators then moved to the uneven bars after a bye where another big score of 9.950 from McMurtry helped lift Florida to a very solid 49.4250.
On the balance beam, McMurtry once again came up clutch with a huge 9.9375 leading to a strong 49.375 for the Gators. Florida wrapped up their competition on the floor exercise where big scores of 9.9375 from Kennedy Baker and 9.950 helped propell the three-time national champions to a very impressive 49.4875 to wrap up their competition.
"I think it was great. Starting out on vault was amazing momentum from this team. It set the tone for the evening. The girls were loose and they were having fun. I knew after vault it was going to be a good night. They kept that attitude throughout all six rotations even on the byes. It was very great. A very successful day and looking forward to reboot, regroup and do it again tomorrow,” said an enthusiastic Florida head coach Jenny Rowland.
"The SEC is the best in the country,'' said Jenny Rowland. "It says a lot about our conference. I'm really proud to be a part of it and look forward to battling it out again [Saturday]."
Finishing third in the final Super Six spot was Alabama, as the eight-time national champions showed an improved performance throughout. The Crimson Tide began on the floor exercise where a strong 9.9375 from Kiana Winston contributed to a 49.3875 for Dana Duckworth’s squad. As the Crimson Tide moved to vault, it was a consistent performance from Alabama, counting no scores below 9.850 to help amass a 49.3625.
After a bye before the uneven bars, Alabama came out swinging with three scores above 9.900 from Keely McNeer, Kiana Winston, and a massive 9.950 from Katie Bailey helping collect an impressive 49.4875 for the Crimson Tide. Dana Duckworth’s team finished on the balance beam, responding well from adversity to not count a fall, highlighted by Kiana Winston’s big 9.9250 to secure Alabama a spot in tomorrow’s Super Six.
"Our goal, every year, is to be on the floor the last night of the season with a chance to win a national title," Duckworth said. "That's what we've earned. Now comes the best part, going against the best-of-the-best, competing for a championship."
Also crowned today were individual all-around and event titles, with the all-around national champion being Florida’s Alex McMurtry, who won the NCAA Elite 90 Award, scoring a very impressive 39.8125 to take the national championship.
"I want to thank my coaches for setting that goal for me. I didn't think that was really possible or in my future, but we set that goal and worked towards it all season. I'm really happy with my performance putting together all four events. I'm happy with my team's performance, we started on vault and we started on fire. I think that's how we carried out the whole meet."
On the vault the title went to LSU freshmen Kennedi Edney with her huge 9.9875 for her Yurchenko one and a half, while the uneven bars title was a six-way tie between UCLA’s Kyla Ross, Oklahoma’s Nicole Lehrman and Maggie Nichols, Florida’s Alex McMurtry, Alabama’s Katie Bailey, and LSU’s Sarah Finnegan all scoring a high 9.950.
The balance beam title was won outright by UCLA’s Kyla Ross with a big score of 9.9625 for the freshmen, and the floor exercise title was a two-way tie between LSU senior and AAI Award winner Ashleigh Gnat and MyKayla Skinner each with 9.9625s.
With both semifinals done and dusted here at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis, tomorrow’s Super Six Finals will feature defending national champions Oklahoma, UCLA, PAC 12 champions Utah, last year’s national runner ups and SEC champions LSU, three-time winners Florida, and Alabama competing for the national championship here at Chaifetz Arena.
It was a thrilling first semifinal at the 2017 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis as number one Oklahoma, number five UCLA, and number four Utah displayed the clutch gymnastics to advance to the Super Six Team Finals. The top-ranked Sooners of Oklahoma won the first session with a great 197.7250 while the UCLA Bruins put together one of their best meets of the season to finish second with another good score of 197.5000.
Finishing third in this first semifinal was the fourth-ranked Red Rocks of Utah, claiming redemption from last year’s upset semifinal loss to finish third and advance to the Super Six with a solid score of 197.0500. Despite not advancing to Saturday’s Super Six, Washington, Denver, and Oregon State have a lot to be proud of with program-best seasons for each despite finishing in the bottom three here in St. Louis.
For the Sooners, the number one ranked team and defending national champions begun on the floor exercise, with two big 9.9250s at the bottom end of their rotation from former World team member and freshman phenom Maggie Nichols and AJ Jackson propelling Oklahoma to a very solid 49.3500. KJ Kindler’s team then went to the vault, one of their best events, with three huge 9.900s from senior Chayse Capps, AJ Jackson, and Maggie Nichols helping Oklahoma to another good score of 49.3500 on the vault.
After a bye before the uneven bars, the Sooners came out red hot, counting no scores below 9.8625 including three more 9.900s from Stefani Catour, defending uneven bars national champion Nicole Lehrman, and Maggie Nichols accounting for a huge 49.5250 for Oklahoma on that apparatus. Ending on balance beam, the Sooners best event, there was once again no scores counted below 9.8500, with a 9.900 from Catour, a 9.925 from Lehrman, and a massive 9.950 from Capps leading to a great balance beam lineup for a 49.500 for the defending national champions despite a shocking fall from Maggie Nichols in the fifth spot.
“We are very excited to be moving on," said Oklahoma head coach KJ Kindler. "It was tough out there for us. We started a little bit shaky on floor, lots of adrenaline and little extra steps. There were some uncharacteristic mistakes, but I think they were definitely working out some jitters that they had. We sort of settled in on vault and just got better as the day went on. We are really looking forward to tomorrow and having a chance to fight for a National Championship.”
Finishing second in this first semifinal here at the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis was fifth-ranked UCLA, a team featuring two Olympic gold medalists, a first in collegiate gymnastics history. The Bruins, led by head coach Valorie Kondos Field, begun on their best event, the uneven bars, where no scores above 9.8250 were counted including big scores from Rio 2016 gold-medalist Madison Kocian with a 9.8750, London 2012 gold-medalist Kyla Ross with a huge 9.950, and senior Peng-Peng Lee posting a big 9.8875 for the six-time national champions UCLA.
On the balance beam, another one of the Bruins’ best events, it was once again some big scores for UCLA, with Kocian scoring a very solid 9.8625, Ross putting up a huge score of 9.9625, and Katelyn Ohashi anchoring the beam lineup with a great score of 9.9125 despite taking out her triple series due to an ankle injury.
After a bye before floor exercise, Miss Val’s squad came out energized for their third apparatus, scoring a season-best score on the floor with no score below a 9.8750 including two 9.9250s from Angi Cipra and Hallie Mossett and a big 9.9375 from Kocian to wrap up a floor rotation which saw the Bruins post a massive 49.5375. Wrapping up their meet on the vault, UCLA showed its best vault rotation of the season with some solid Yurchenko fulls throughout and a debut Yurchenko one and a half from Napualani Hall, scoring a solid 9.8250, contributing to an improved 49.2375 for the Bruins.
For Utah, the Red Rocks, coached by Megan Marsden, begun their competition on vault, given the favorable Olympic order. The Utes underperformed slightly on vault, one of their best events, with only one score above 9.900 from MyKayla Skinner and two scores in the 9.700s to amass a sub-par 49.0875 to begin. After a bye before the uneven bars, the Red Rocks were again underwhelming on the bars, being forced to count a 9.7750 with no scores in the 9.900s for another low 49.0875.
With their backs against the wall much like in last year’s semifinal, the Red Rocks responded on the balance beam unlike in 2016, with big scores of 9.900 from Makenna Merrell and 9.9125 from Skinner contributing to a much needed 49.3875 for Utah. The Utes ended on the floor exercise, their best event, counting no scores below 9.8500 including three huge scores from Makenna Merrell with a 9.900, Baely Rowe with a 9.925, and Skinner posting a massive 9.9625 to wrap up a comeback performance from the Red Rocks for a high 49.4875 on the floor exercise.
"We were a little tight on vault and bars,” said Utah co-head coach Tom Farden. "I told the team after bars that we had 12 routines down and 12 still to go and to just relax and trust themselves."
"MyKayla Skinner competes with such confidence that it carries over to the rest of the team," praised Farden. "Credit needs to go as well to our co-captains Maddy Stover and Baely Rowe, who talked like leaders coming into the meet and then showed it tonight on the floor."
Oklahoma, UCLA, and Utah will advance to Saturday’s Super Six Team Finals with the other three teams to be decided in semifinal two with LSU, Florida, Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, and Nebraska battling for the right to face the Sooners, Bruins, and Red Rocks for the National Championship here in St. Louis.
It was a second straight world cup title for Germany’s Tabea Alt, taking the lead in the FIG World Cup series after a win at home a few weeks back at the Stuttgart World Cup before taking home the gold here in London. Alt was joined on the podium by the USA’s Victoria Nguyen, competing in only her second international elite competition, finishing with a silver medal and Rio 2016 floor exercise bronze medalist Amy Tinkler of Great Britain in third in her first meet competing all-around since the Olympic Games in Brazil.
Coming in fourth was a surprise finisher as Spain’s Ana Perez took advantage of some inconsistencies from some of the other competitors to claim fourth with some very consistent, clean gymnastics for a 53.299 overall. Behind Perez in fifth was Russian Angelina Melnikova, with some stumbles on vault and floor and a fall on balance beam costing the Rio 2016 team silver medalist to score a 52.599 all-around.
For Alt, the German begun strongly, showcasing a clean double-twisting Yurchenko to score a solid 14.466 to put herself in second after rotation one. Leading after the vault was Britain’s Amy Tinkler, possessing more control on her double-twisting Yurchenko to score a very good 14.600, while The Netherland’s Tisha Volleman was in third with a 14.266.
On the uneven bars, it was German Alt who took the lead, posting a solid 13.833 with a beautiful piked Jaeger release move and stuck double layout dismount to seize first. 2015 World team bronze medalist Tinkler kept up her consistent day, falling down to second despite a solid bar routine scoring a 13.600 featuring her unique Markelov release move and a stuck full-in dismount. The USA’s Victoria Nguyen, training under Shawn Johnson and Gabby Douglas’ former coach Liang Chow, made up some ground on the bars as well, putting up another good score of 13.800 with a solid Gienger release and a slightly piked double layout dismount.
On the balance beam the competition really began to take shape, with Alt cementing her lead with a very difficult roundoff layout mount contributing to a competition high 6.0 difficulty score before putting her hands down on her double pike dismount to score a low 12.966, still good enough to maintain the lead.
Nguyen also kept her second place spot with another low score of 12.866 due to wobbles throughout on her back-handspring layout stepout series and on her switch leap to Onodi to sheep jump, finishing with a strong two and a half twist dismount. Spain’s Ana Perez kept up her great day, hitting with incredible consistency and great artistry, scoring the best beam score of the day with a 13.233 due to a clean routine throughout to send her into third going to the fourth and final rotation.
On the floor exercise it was the Olympic bronze medalist on this apparatus fighting back, showcasing some great tumbling with a full-twisting double layout, front handspring front full, and a double pike contributing to a clutch 13.233 to lock up the bronze medal to the delight of a packed crowd at the o2 Arena here in London. The USA’s Nguyen wrapped up a very successful world cup debut with a solid floor performance, scoring a 13.000 with some good tumbling, a tucked full-in, triple full, and a double tuck, to take the silver medal.
Claiming the gold and finishing off another beautiful World Cup performance was Alt, scoring around six tenths higher than needed to win the title here in London with a 13.333, another solid score contributed by some good tumbling on her tucked full-in and double pike to cap off a lovely routine.
After the competition, Rio 2016 floor exercise and 2015 World team bronze medalist Amy Tinkler said of competing in her home country in front of a boisterous London crowd, “It's amazing I'm so so happy. I've had some problems this year with my calf so coming into this I wasn't sure what to expect. My performance was better than I thought it would be, I think I fed of the atmosphere of the home crowd,” said the 17-year-old.
“I loved all the support, it was like Rio all over again but even better with it being in Britain. I've never heard so many kids shouting ‘Amy, Amy!’ that feels so special and for me I love the pressure and the buzz of competition so they definitely helped me today,” concluded a jubilant Tinkler after a successful return to the all-around with a bronze medal here in London.