Your Recruiting Timeline…

I have received an overwhelming amount of questions about the recruiting timeline for gymnastics.   Here is a quick summary of an outline of your college recruiting experience.   (If you want a detailed outline please contact me through email)

Some of you will be graduating this year and some will have one to four years.  It is important what you do from this point on.  Have you taken all the courses necessary to be considered into a college program?  Have you taken your placement exams such as the SAT or ACT?  Have you been uploading your scores, videos, and gymnastics training to a site where they can be seen by college coaches?  These are things to consider when you start looking at possible colleges.  Let’s take a look at the things you should be doing and when they should be done by…

A few things to remember…

  1. The earlier you start, the greater your chances
  2.  An athlete can verbally commit to a college at anytime
  3. Be pro-active when it comes to communication
  4. This outline does not guarantee a scholarship

 

Freshman Year

I always tell the families I assist to have their student sit down with them and and start constructing a list of the things that you want when looking at possible colleges.  What programs are you interested in?  Have you chosen a specific major?  Are there any extra curricular programs that you want to pursue or continue from high school?  What qualities are you looking for in a team atmosphere?

 

At school…

During the beginning of your freshman year you will want to sit down with your academic adviser and talk to them about what requirements are needed for graduation.  Discuss what you are interested in at this time of your life.  It may change later, but it will be a good base point for your future.  Next, start researching the schools your interested in and break them down to a “top prospects” list.  Look for how many scholarships (academic/athletic) will be available for each school the year you will graduate.  Make sure to check this list each year for possible changes that may occur.

In the gym…

You will want to start brainstorming with your coach on what skills you want to be competing at the college level.  Discuss where you want your skill level to be by your 11th and 12th grade competition seasons.  It is important to get all your routines to a 10.0 start value.  Start taping your competitions and keeping track of your scores.  Look into summer camps that colleges are hosting.  Try to attend a few of them.  I suggest  you do this every summer until you graduate.  This is a way to meet other prospective college-level gymnasts as well as getting a connection and networking with the coaches.

 

Sophomore year

Start looking at the list of schools you picked your freshman year.  Narrow it down and start going to their websites to complete the recruiting questionnaire.  Evaluate your grades?  I think it’s a great step to make a goal to be on the student honor roll each quarter\semester.  You can start taking practice exams for the ACT/SATs.  Meet with your academic adviser to make sure you are on track with all of your eligibility classes and requirements, and make any adjustments as they are needed.

Start to email the schools your interested in.  Let the coaches know who you are and send a link to your website or you tube site. Coaches can not recruit you if they don’t know who your are.  This email should be well thought out and to the point.  Make sure you explain why you want to represent their school.  Do your best to keep it personal and not generic.

In the gym…

Keep track of your progress during the off season.  Try to video tape clean progressions and take about 5 on each given skill.  This shows coaches that you are consistent.  Evaluate where you are on your goals from where you were during your freshman year.  Change anything that needs to changed.

This is a good time to start your personal website to market yourself to colleges if you haven’t already.  Ask your coach if you can put a link on the gyms website showcasing “college recruits”.  Make sure that you start recording your scores and stuck routines on to the website.  Remember if a college can’t see you- they can’t recruit you!  If you haven’t yet, start a you tube site that is easy to find with tags like… Suzie class of 2020, gymnastics recruiting video, recruiting progression, college gymnastic, ect.

College coaches can start to visit this summer so make sure they know where to find you.  Are you going to college camps?  Are you going to invitationals where college coaches will  be present?

Website information should include: Biography, videos, meet results, stand out achievements, meets you will be competing in, and school information that includes your GPA.

Junior Year

In the classroom…

Register with the NCAA National Clearing House.  Take the ACT and SAT.  Meet with your academic adviser and make sure your on track for any requirements that need to be met.  In Canada, Math and English are under a different qualification, make sure you read up and never assume about classes.

In the gym/at home…

Continue to record your competitions and progressions and update your you tube site often.  Email the coaches and update them on your season.  Include State, Regional, and National achievements.  If you to plan to attend a college camp, include it in the email.  If you haven’t looked at any of your top choice schools yet, start taking unofficial/official visits.  Check out a few college gymnastics meets.

Senior Year

At school

Graduation year!  Congratulations it’s your last year of high school.  Meet with your academic adviser to make sure that the colleges have your high school transcripts.  Take any last official visits that you are interested in.   Sign your national letter of intent.  If you have not signed talk to coaches about the possibility of a “walk on” position.  Many gymnasts start as a walk on and use academic scholarships which can turn into athletic scholarships.  Don’t be discouraged if it hasn’t happened yet.  In this sport things can change at any given time.

In the gym…

Continue to polish your current skills and keep working on progressions.  Work extra hard on cardio and endurance.  Post your scores and placements from your recent competitions. Have fun and cherish these memories as you continue gymnastics in college.

 

 

 

College Gymnastics is coming…

The Olympics are sadly over, but …all you gymnastics fans won’t need to wait another four years to watch your favorite sport.  You don’t even need to wait until next summer.  It’s going to be college season very soon!!!  If you caught any meets last year, this year should bring us even more excitement.  If you break down the USA gymnastics levels, very few make it to an “elite” status.  Even the ones who do make it that far, only four will be able to compete in the next Olympiad.  Not only is it extremely hard to compete at the elite level, but the body does not always “hold up” in competitions.  We are seeing a large increase in ACL tears, Achilles ruptures, and back surgeries.  With injuries and a new code  of skills, college gymnastics will be similar to elite gymnastics in the next few years.  Each year a new freshman class joins the already talented full rosters, and in this article I will introduce a few from the top schools in the nation.  It’s time to start breaking down the top teams in NCAA gymnastics, by their newest athletes coming in and see what they can add to the teams.  Lets meet the freshman of the 2016 super six gymnastics teams.

Oklahoma:

Lets start the list off by talking about the 2016 NCAA champions!  They have a great freshman class coming in with Olympic, World, and National experience.  Maggie Nichols was third place on floor in the 2015 world championships.  She was on her way to the Olympics when she, unfortunately, hurt her knee and the injury did not heal in time to be 100% at the trials.  This gymnast is not only known because of her high flying tumbling but, also because of her ability to be so consistent.  She is ready to go on any event, as the lead off or the anchor.

Florida:

All I need to say is Amelia Hundley.  This girl was born to compete in collegiate gymnastics.  She also competed at the USA trials this year and has a huge vault to add to the line up.  She has a contagious smile and really preforms each routine for the audience.  She is a product of Mary Lee Tracey and really started to put up some big scores this year.  I am excited to see her personality really shine through her routines.  She will be joined by Rachel Gowey who competed elite, but suffered from some ankle injuries that kept her out of most of the elite season.  She trained at Chows gymnastics and will be a strong contender for the beam lineup this year.  Maegan Chant from Canada is also in this freshman class.  She has some powerful tumbling passes and finished 4th this year at the Canadian nationals.  These freshman join an already strong line up contention.  Jenny Rowland is going to have her work cut out for her trying to decide who competes on each event. Here is Amelia on vault…

UCLA:

The strongest recruiting class I have seen in a long time.  Their combined resumes include Nationals, Nastia Cup winners, World Championships, Olympics, Pan Am Games, and Pacific Rims.  You name the competition and one of these gymnast has competed in it.  As long as no one is injured and the girls stay healthy, they could easily put up 3 10.0 routines on each event.  Kyla Ross, Madison Kocian, Anna Glenn, Grace Glenn, Felicia Hano.  These girls could basically go out in this line up and crush it. Kyla Ross is one of the most elegant gymnasts and competed in 2012 Olympics. Madison Kocian joins her as another Olympian who placed 2nd on the uneven bars this past year. Both of these gymnasts could make the line up in each event. Here is a video of upcoming freshman Kyla Ross…

LSU

Ruby Harold from Great Britain joins the Tigers this year after a great presentation in the Olympics this past summer.  She is in the best shape of her life and will be a strong asset to this already packed team. I’m hoping she will anchor the bar line up because she is innovative and has a unique presence on this event.  I do worry about the change in the bar settings, and if she will still be able to include her crazy bar change shown below…

Alabama

Maddie Desch bursts onto the elite scene in 2011 and in 2012 placed second in the all around to Simone Biles at the Secret Classic. Unfortunately, after showing some success in the junior field she was plagued by injuries in the senior division. She did, however, help the USA team win gold in Jeslo in both 2014 and 2015.  She is coming in as a strong beam worker and will be contributing in the all around.  Joining her is level 10 gymnast Wynter Childers.  A two time Nastia Cup competitor and a 2015 JO champion from Spearfish gymnastics. This team rose in the standings last year and has a chance at the 1-2 spot at NCAA’S.  Here is Maddie Desch on the balance beam…

Georgia
Rachel Dickson is a level 10 gymnast from Michigan. This past year she placed first on the uneven bars and third in the all round at the JO championships.  Joining her in the freshman class is Sabrina Vega from Gage gymnastics. She is five time national team member and placed tenth in the 2012 Olympic trials. Georgia is still rebuilding their program but with the help of these freshman they will be looking to place higher in super six this year. Here is a video of Rachel on bars…

Other notable freshmen this year…

Boise state: Courtney Mcgregor, a 2016 Olympian from New Zealand.

Denver: Maddie Karr, 2016 JO champion and Nastia cup winner

Michigan: Polina Shchennikova, a senior international elite

Ohio: Victoria-Kayen Woo, Gym-Richelieu, Sr. High Performance

Utah: Mykayla Skinner is 2016 Olympic alternate, and Kim Tessen is a level 10 JO uneven bars champion.

 

*These are just a few of the 2016-2017 freshman

 

 

2016 Olympic Moments

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It happens every four years.  The dream of going to the Olympics.  For the five gymnasts representing the United States it becomes a chance to earn medals the ones who were before them.  Instead of pursuing the perfect 10, some are pursing their 1st Olympic medal for their country.  Some are trying to do better then the games before, and some are trying to leave their mark for the first time.

A lot has happened in the Rio games, so far, and we still have two more event finals to look forward to.  Lets take a look at few gymnasts making headlines for the first week of the Olympic games.

Simone Biles:

We cannot talk about the Olympics without talking about Simone Biles!  Going into the games, this young woman has been undefeated for the past four years.  She is now the most decorated gymnast in history with three consecutive World titles.  She helped the USA team capture the team gold, and then went on to claim the all around title.  On Sunday, August 14th, she added the vault gold medal to her trophy case.  She still has two more chances to win medals on the balance beam and the floor exercise. Simone is looking forward to taking some time off and live a “normal” life.  No matter what she does she will always be remembered as the best in the sport.

Aly Raisman

Aly Raisman competed in the 2012 Olympic Games.  She left those games with team and individual floor gold medals.  She also won the bronze on balance beam, but was edged out of the all around by Aliya Mustifina.  Aly came back to Rio in better shape then the last games and with a stronger attitude.  She stayed calm throughout the team competition as the team captain.  This time, at the individual all around competition, Aly Raisman not only won the silver, but showed the world how much it meant to her and her coach.  Tears of joy fell from her face after finishing her last event, the floor exercise.  She wiped the tears of the struggles, and the doubt, and frustrations off of her face and cheered on her teammate as Simone won gold.  This year Aly edged out Aliya for the silver and has another chance to climb the podium on Tuesday on the floor..

Aliya Mustifina

On the internet they call her a “diva” or “Queen Aliya”.  Aliya Mustifina has been a fixture in gymnastics since she broke into the senior field in 2010.  She was recorded saying that if the Russian ban happened she would not have been disappointed.  Her body has been hit with injuries and she has struggled with returning on all four apparatuses, with floor and beam being the toughest.  In 2012 she won the bronze medal in the all around, and in the floor exercise.  She came into Rio as the reigning uneven bars gold medalist.  This year the Russian team won the silver medal and days later Alyia competed in the all around.  For the first time in 3 years she was ahead of Simone Biles after the second rotation.  With two great events behind her she had to hit beam and floor to win.  An error on the balance beam left her without a connection series and dropped her from the top of the score board.  After a strong floor she consoled her teammate Seda, then joined Aly and Simone on the podium with her flag in the air.  Aliya won the bronze medal, but there was more to come.  The final for bars was jammed pack with difficulty.  The top three could have gone multiple different ways but Aliya hit big.  She walked away as the uneven bars champion again!  She was interviewed after her one final and told us she would be taking two years off and then back in the gym for 2020 Tokoyo.

Shang  Chungsong

Shang Chungsong may not be the most talked about gymnast in the games, but I feel she was judged poorly.   I think that Shang is deducted on her form due to her malnutrition.    No fault of her own she may not be as “dynamic” and “powerful” as someone like Simone Biles, however her routines are clean and she can perform the some of the most difficult routines you will see.  For example with 6.7 difficulty score on the balance beam, she connected every skill she had to connect.  She stuck her acro pass, and hit her 180 split.  She completed her triple twist dismount with the tiniest hop.  There was not one pause in her routine, yet she only scored in the mid 14’s.  She placed fourth in the all around, and fifth in the bars final.  I am hoping that Rio is not it for Shang.  She is a strong competitor and the best in China right now, in my opinion.

Gulia Steingruber

Sunday, August 14th Gulia has become the first gymnast from Switzerland to ever medal in the Olympic games!  She won the bronze medal after a gorgeous rudi and powerful yuerchenko double.  She struggled on the vault final in the 2015 World Championships and injured her knee.  In a sport where a knee injury could be an end to a career, she rehabbed and was able to win the gold medal at the 2016 European Games.  She is capable of doing a front handspring double, so I am crossing my fingers that she will be back next year to claim another vault title.  We will have another chance to see her compete in the floor event final.

We are more than half way through the Olympics, with only two event finals to go.  Will Simone take the gold on both the beam and floor?  Will she win the covented 5 gold medals?  Will Aly leave Rio with another floor medal to add to her collection?  Who will take the final two medals?  What are some of your favorite moments so far?  Let get these comments going!

 

Top 5 Floor Routines in Rio

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The floor exercise in women’s gymnastics has become increasing difficult in the past few years.  It was known as the apparatus the women could show off their own personality.  It has now become which gymnast can do the most tumbling passes at the highest degree of difficulty.  Because of how hard this event has become,  we see only a few gymnasts score above 15.00.  Lets take a look at my top five possible gymnasts who could qualify for this event final.

  1. Simone Biles from the United States

Simone Biles has blown everyone out of the water on the floor exercise.  With a difficulty score of 6.9 she has been called “best in the world” for the skills she can compete.  She has won the floor gold medal in 2013, 2014, and 2015 world championships.  In 2015, she won the title with a 15.800!  She starts with a huge full twisting double layout, often having too much power and hopping backwards.  She has been compared to the men when it comes to her power.  I am predicting that Simone Biles will be the 2016 Olympic Champion on the floor exercise.

2. Aly Raisman from The United States

The reigning 2012 gold medalist on the floor, Aly Raisman is second on my list.   Her first tumbling pass is jammed packed with difficulty.  She does a round off 1 1/2 twisting layout to a double Arabian to a punch front lay out.  In London, she became the first American to win a gold medal on this event with a 15.600.  This year she had a difficulty score of a 6.6 at the P&G’s giving her the score of 15.700. At the Olympic trials she earned a 15.400 on the first night. It would be great to see a repeat of the gold!

3. Giulia Steingruber from Switzerland

Giulia qualified into the floor final at the 2015 World Championships with a 14.500.  She was unable to compete due to an injury sustained on vault.  She came back this year and scored a 15.200 at the European Championship event finals in Bern.  She started with a difficulty score of 5.900 at the Swiss Championship, but has put up a 6.4 difficulty score this year.  She is known for her dynamic tumbling.  She competed in the 2012 Olympics, but failed to make the event final.  Since she has put up the third highest floor score in 2016 I am excited to see what she does in Rio.

4. Shang Chunsong from China

Shang tied for fourth place at the World Championships last year. This year she is competing a routine that has the difficulty score of a 6.6  With the right execution score she could find herself on the medal podium.  This year at the Chinese Championship she earned a 15.100 in the event final.  Chinese gymnasts have been known for their quick twisting and Shang doesn’t disappoint.  She can make a triple twist look simple and easily rebounds in to a front tuck after it.  I do find it unfair that although she shows more than a 180 degree split she doesn’t get a higher execution score.  She is a smaller gymnast and doesn’t get the same height like Simone can get. This, unfortunately, puts her at a disadvantage.  I hope to see this one receive a great score in Rio.

5. Claudia Fragapane from Great Britain

Claudia Fragapane had the difficulty score of 6.5 at the 2016 European Championships.  She received a score of 15.000 in the team qualifying competition. She earned a 14.450 at this years English Championships.  She competes a full twisting double layout in her first pass and does a double piked Arabian for her second.  She finishes with a huge double layout into wolf jump.   Claudia is another gymnast, like Shang, who is very short. This can cause the execution score to go down when looking for height in the tumbling passes. Great Britain has been slowly coming up the ranks.  This could be the year for a medal on the floor.

I only shared the top 5 gymnasts who I think we could be seeing in the event finals for the floor.  Who do I think could round out the final?

There are a few gymnasts, and we could be surprised.  Sae Miyakawa  tied for fourth place at last years World Championships.  She started with a difficulty score of 6.3 and finished with a 14.993.  She competes a double twisting front layout into a front double tuck in her first pass.  She is the only female gymnast in the world competing it.  Angelina Melnikova from Russia has put up a 15.200 at the Russian Championships.  Her difficulty score of 6.4 gave her the highest score she has ever put up.  She may lack in experience as a fist year senior, but she has the difficulty and execution to medal.  I cannot talk about the floor with out puting Catalina Ponor on the list.  Although we haven’t seen much from her she is a performer when it counts.  She has an Olympic gold on this event, and she recently put up a video of a full twisting double layout. She won the Romanian nationals on this event with a 14.566

Will Simone make this her fourth year to win gold in the biggest international competition?  Will adrenaline push the gymnasts out of bounds?  Will Aly win back to back medals?  Will Great Britain put up a medal worthy routine?

Remember when it comes to the Olympics the right routine on the right night will win.

Who are you looking forward to watching on floor?

 

 

Top 5 Beam Routines Headed to Rio

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Shannon Miller won gold in 1996.  Shawn Johnson did it in 2008.  They won the Olympic gold medal on the balance beam.  I can’t judge a beam routine by their start value alone.  They may start with a difficulty score of 6.5, but in the routine the gymnast could miss  any number of connections.  That could bring her score down 2 or even 3 points.  The beam medals go to the gymnast who can stay on , make her connections, and show a high execution throughout the routine.  The gymnasts must preform a backward, forward, and side element.  They must show a 180 degree split and a full turn.  The gymnast that sticks the dismount might be on her way to podium.

In 2012 Deng Linlin from China won the gold medal, Sui Lu also from China took home the silver, and Aly Raisman rounded things out with the bronze.  This year China is sending a team who are strong on this event, and Aly is returning with a new routine that I am hoping will put her back on the podium.  There is talent coming from Netherlands, Russia, and Great Britain also.  Lets take a look at who I think will make the event finals in Rio on the balance beam. My top five…

  1. Simone Biles from the Unites States

With a difficulty score of 6.7/6.8 Simone Biles ranks #1 on the beam.  She has the highest score recorded on this event in the past two years a 15.700.  She took the gold at the World Championships last year by a full point with a 15.358.  She scores high because of her difficulty and her execution.  Starting with the punch front half to her full twisting double back dismount Simone show height on every element. She has seldom let her nerves get the best of her in past competitions, so it will be hers to win, or hers to lose.

2. Lauren Hernandez from the United States/ Aly Raisman from United States

I have both gymnasts listed here because we know in the event final only two girls per country can go on.  I am still unsure about who will score higher in the qualifications.  Both of these gymnasts can score in the 15’s, but Lauren edged out Aly by scoring a huge 15.700 the second night of the Olympic Trials.  Aly’s routine can have a maximum difficulty of 6.5/6.6, but she has never earned more than a 15.35.  Lauren has a difficulty score of 6.5/6.6 depending on her dismount, but has put up big numbers in the Pacific Rims, at Classics, and the Trials ranging from 15.2 to 15.7

3. Sanne Weaver from Netherlands

Sanne Weavers made a huge mark for herself last year at the World Championships coming in second to Simone with a 14.33.  I fast forward to the Netherlands Championship this year where she scored a 15.65 with a difficulty score of 6.6.  What is fun about this gymnast is that she gets her difficulty from her dance elements. She used turns and leaps and danced her way to a 15.4/15.5 in the IAG sports event and Cottbus Challenge.  Again, if she can nail all of her connections she will be looking to earn the first medal for a female gymnast from the Netherlands in the Olympics.

4. Shang Chunsong from China

During the 2016 Chinese National Championship Shang Chunsong had a difficulty score of 6.7, and received a 15.500.  In the event finals she scored a 15.467.  The Chinese gymnasts are known for their gorgeous leaps and high tumbling and Shang does both.  She starts her routine with a huge back handspring, back handspring, layout and connects it to two jumps.  If she can get her execution score into the nines she could become the Olympic gold medalist.

5. Angelina Melnikova from Russia

Angelina rounds out my top 5 because of her 15.4 she scored this year at the Russian Cup event finals.  She has a difficulty score of a low 6.2/6.3, but can have an execution score in the nines.  At the 2016 Russian Championships she put up two solid scores of 15.333 and 15.300.  Angelina also connects her tumbling to her jumps, like Shang Chunsong.  She may be a first year senior, but she is already showing the world her class and maturity like a veteran on the team.  Russia has been known to have a few falls in the three up three count system.  I am hoping she can stay calm and rely on her junior international experience.

I have chosen who I think will be in the top 5 in the event finals but I do have a few more gymnasts who could round up the 8 spots.  Aliya Mustifina from Russia can put up a high score when it counts.  She put up a 15.100 at the European Championship to win the beam gold medal with a difficulty score of 6.3.  She is known to change her routines and its been said she can put up a different beam routine in each competition.  Let’s hope she picks a good one this year.  Marine Boyer from France has a difficulty score of 6.3 and won the silver medal at the European Championships.  She also put up a 14.85 in Jeslo, and a 15.000 at the recent championships in France.  Last, Seda Tutkhalyan from Russia is looking to mirror her qualification score of 15.333 from the Russian Championships this year.

There is so much talent on the balance beam and it is going to be an exciting final to watch.  It always comes down to who can stay on and who can stick the landing. Anything can happen at an Olympic Final and any one of these gymnasts could be the 2016 Olympic Champ!  I end still having a few lingering questions though…

There are three top beam workers on this US team and only two go!  Which two will it be? Can China win another gold?  Will Russia finally get the Olympic medal on this event?   Will Simone Biles sweep this event and every other to win them all?

Stay tuned as I look at the top 5 Floor routines I hope to make it the event finals in Rio…

 

Top 5 Uneven Bars in Rio

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In 1996 Amy Chow tied for the silver, in 2004 Terrin Humphrey did the same and Courtney Kupets won the bronze. Many thought that Nastia deserved to win the gold in 2008, but won another US silver medal instead.  In 2012 the US didn’t win a medal on bars.  The United States has yet to win the uneven bars title in the Olympics.  This Olympics Madison Kocian, one of the four women that won gold at Worlds last year, will try to be the first. She could have some very hard competition!  China will be fighting to keep their fist place streak going, but Russia, Germany, and Great Britain all have gymnasts who could make it with their high start values.  The Olympic Champion on this event is going to have a big number of multiple connections and big releases  in their routine.  It seems that single skills are just not rewarded like they previously were.  Here’s a look  at who I think could make the top 5 uneven bars event finals.  Remember, I will be looking at the 2015 worlds, past Olympics, and a few other meets to gather my scores.

  1. Fan Yilin from China

Fan Yilan was the first in the four way tie at the World Championships last year scoring a 15.366.  She has a start value of 7.0 which is the highest start value on my list.  If she nailed her routine with top execution she would win because of the difficulty alone.  When she mounts the bars she does seven consecutive skills in a row.  The Chinese gymnasts are known for their pirouetting skills, and she does of a series of them on the high bar before dismounting into a double layout.  She does get killed on her execution, probably because of her in bar geinger.  With little height, I wonder why they are still doing this skill instead of the layout yager done by others.  She still scored a a huge 15.734 at the Chinese Championships this year.  The Chinese team won gold in 1992 and 2008.  They will look to Fan Yilan to win again.  Here is her bar routine from the Chinese Nationals.

2. Madison Kocian from The United States

Madison Kocian has the highest score on my list.  It was on American soil and I think that the US judges tends to over score.  This makes me wonder if she can receive the same high score with international judging.   Her 15.9 (diff. 6.7) was the top finish on bars at our Olympic Trials.  She was another gymnast that put up the same score (15.366) as Fan Yilin at the 2015 Worlds.  She has won nine gold medals on the uneven bars since 2012 and can average a 15.6/15.7.   She trains at WOGA  and like her previous team mate, Nastia, her long lines, big releases, and the ability to stick a dismount makes her my #2 pick for the finals. If anyone can beat the re-occurring silver medal on bars it can be Madison. (P.S.–I think she and Ashton could have gone 1-2.  You can watch her opening sequence of 5 connecting skills from her 2016 Olympic Trials.

3. Daria Spiridonova  from Russia

I am seriously hoping the IOC does not make the decision to omit the Russian gymnasts and allow them to compete. This blanket ban has me so nervous I am worried I could jinx the gymnasts by putting them in here.  Thinking positive, I am putting Daria Spiridonova in my third spot in the line up.  She is part of that four person gold medal scoring of 15.366 at the 2015 World Championships.  With the same difficulty as Madsion (6.7) she scored a strong 15.466 at the European Championship this year.  However, she has also scored a 15.65  this year.  She is coming with a win on the bars from nationals and could join the 2012 Olympian Alyia Mustifina in the winners circle.  She also does 5 skills consecutively as she mounts the bars.  Here is her 2016 European uneven bars routine.

4. Elisabeth Seitz from Germany

With a start value of 6.6, Elisabeth Seitz is my fourth pick for the uneven bars event finals in the Olympics.  It’s been since 1980 that anyone from Germany has won the Olympic title, and that was considered “East Germany” at the time.  Elisabeth has an unique and exciting bar set.  At the  2012 Olympic Uneven bar final she finished in sixth place with a 15.266.   This year at the German nationals she put up a 15.566 (diff. 6.8) for a first place trophy.  She has the start value but consistency seems to be her downfall. I wish she would bring back the “def” on the high bar for the Olympics. (one can hope)  Here is her performance from nationals.

5. Gabby Douglas from United States

Gabby Douglas rounds out the top 5 finalist on the uneven bars.  At the 2015 World Championships she scored a 15.133 which put her in fourth place.  She is the 2012 all around champion, and made the team this year because of this one event.  She has the difficulty of a 6.5.  She did score a 15.65 at this years Secret Classic, but its hard to measure against an international field when the scores are so highly inflated.  She hasn’t scored above a 15.3 in any other meet.  She lost a release move she used in 2012, but she can consistently deliver a stuck double layout dismount.  Here is her routine from the secret classic.

I only went over the top 5 gymnasts who I think will make a splash in the uneven bars final. I know the final consist of eight gymnasts, so here are a few who could sneak into that line up.

Rebecca Downie from Great Britain scored a 15.1 at this years nationals!  Just like her predecessor,  Beth Tweddle, she has a few high flying release moves. Her routine at the British nationals gave her a difficulty score of 6.7. But, at the 2016 European Championships she put up a 6.9. One of her release moves, a backward stalder to reverse hect in a pike position, is named after her.  She competed in the 2008 Olympics and has the experience to come in and medal.

Aliya Mustafina always has the possibility of upgrading her routine when it counts.  She is the reigning 2012 uneven bars champion and she will be hungry for a repeat. She scored a 15.333 on the first night of the Russian Nationals.  I am hoping she throws in her signature dismount, a 2 1/2 twisting double tuck.

Last not least Shang Chunsong from China. She has a strong difficulty of 6.7 on the bars, but lacks in execution.  She gets picked apart while doing her in bar geinger release and doesn’t always get the height and distance on her dismount. Her pirouetting elements are gorgeous and if she can get some height in those releases she could make a dent in the podium!

The uneven bars final is going to narrow down by who can connect the most skills, while achieving maximum height in their release moves.  I am hoping to see some variety in the pirouetting and bar change elements.  The routines are starting to all look like from the full twisting pirouette straight in to a shaposh 1/2 back down to a pak salto.  I think we should start rewarding the “Ruby Harolds” of the world, and giving those crazy, unique bar routines higher start values. Stay tuned for the top 5 beam routines I am hoping to see in the event finals in Rio!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Vaulters Heading to Rio.

AlyVault

The road to Rio is coming to an end. The Olympic games are right around the corner! As a team the United States has shown we are the ones to beat. In the All around we could go 1-2, gold and silver, but the real competition will be in the event finals. I plan to write a series of articles on each apparatus.  I plan to write about who I think the top 5 contenders will be on each apparatus in the event finals in the Olympics.   My focus is not only on the scores but also start values on the potential the gymnasts can achieve.  I will be looking at 2015 world championships, 2016 Championships, some past Olympic history, and practice videos to help determine who is in my top 5.  Let’s start with the vault.

In the women’s vault event finals each gymnast performs two separate vaults. The vaults are averaged to give the gymnast their score.  Just like any other apparatus anything can happen on the day of event finals.  2012 showed us that when the favorite to win gold, Makayla Moroney, fell on her second vault.  In 2008, many believed that Cheng Fei should not have won the bronze due to her knees touching the ground on her second vault. Alicia Sacramone stood up both of her vaults and landed in fourth. This year we go into the Olympics with the United States thinking Simone Biles will be a lock for the gold.  There are four other gymnasts who will be competing with the same or higher start values.  I will be taking a look at Maria Peska from Russia, Oksana Chusovitina from Uzbekistan, Giulia Steingruber from Switzerland, and Sae Miyakawa from Japan.  Each of  these gymnasts are known for their power and speed.

Oksana Chusivtina from Uzbekistan

Oksana Chusovitina is currently competing for Uzbekistan.  She is the oldest competitor at 41 years old.  She will become the first gymnast to compete in seven consecutive Olympic games.  She holds the record for the most medals won on a single event in World championships at a total of nine. This year her highest average on vault was a 15.325 this year.  She will be competing the Prudonova vault which has a high start value and has seldom been landed straight up.  I think this vault is too difficult and possibly too dangerous.  This vault has such a high level of difficulty that even with the deduction of a fall,  the vault can still compete in the top three.  In her instagram she shows that she can land it, I would like to see it without the deep squat though.

2. Hung Un-Jong From North Korea

Hung Un-Jong is the 2008 Olympic gold medalist.  The 25 year old gymnast was the first female gymnast from North Korea to win a medal in the Olympics.  At the 2015 World Championship she won the silver medal missing the gold by only 0.033. In this video we watch her two vaults from the 2015 World Championships. The first vault (Amanar) has a difficulty score of 6.3. She barely squeezes in the extra half turn and receives a score of 15.666.  On her second vault (Cheng) which has a difficulty start value of 6.4 she earns a 15.6 which gives her an average of 15.366. She will have to straighten her legs and stick the vaults to be the first back to back Olympic vault champion.

3. Simone Biles from the Unites States

Simone Biles will have her international debut of her new second vault, (Cheng), which is the same as the one that Hong Un Jong competes. Simone has received the gold at the US national championship from 2013 to 2016.  The reigning three-time World all around champion has yet to win a gold on this event.  Her massive 6.3 Amanar vault is often compared to Olympian Kohei Uchimura from Japan.  She has received an almost perfect 9.9 execution this year.  If she repeats we will see a score between 15.9-16.2.  In the past her second vault has kept her from a medal by having a difficulty of only 5.3. This won’t be the case now!  With so much power she can have some difficulty finding her landing.  She can still get a 15.7-15.9.  Here is her vault from the 2016 P&G Championships.

4. Giulia Steingruber from Switzerland

Giulia Steingruber has claimed the vault title in the European Championships in 2013, 2014, and 2016. She competed a tsukahara double twist in the 2012 Olympic games.  At the 2015 World Championships she competed a beautiful front handspring vault into a 1 1/2 twist ith a difficulty score of 6.2 and earned a 15.5.  Unfortunately on her second vault, a yuerchenko 1 1/2, she landed with a locked knee and scored a 13.633 finishing in 7th place.  At the 2016 European Championship she opened with her 1 1/2 receiving a 15.5.  Her second vault had a difficulty score of 5.8.  She competed a yuerchenko double earning her the score of 14.466.  Her average was a 14.983 edging out Becky Downie for the gold.  She is currently training a double twisting front handspring front layout. If she were to compete this in the Olympics she would have a 7.0 difficulty.

5. Maria Peska from Russia

Maria Peska is the reining World Champion on the vault.  She performed a 6.3 Amanar for first vault and scored a 15.7.  She completed the Cheng vault with a difficulty score of 6.4 and received a 15.633.  She averaged a 15.666 which gave her the gold.  She has some bent knees she will need to work on, but her block is very powerful.  She holds the bronze in the 2012 games.  She has been able to score a 15.8 with her Amanar.

I only looked at the top high scoring five, out of eight competitors for the vault final.  Here are the gymnasts that I think could round out this group.

Ellie Downie (Great Britain) won the silver medal this year at the European Championship in Bern. She averaged a 14.933 with double twisting Yuerchenko and a Yuerchenko half on front half off in a layout position.

Sae Miyakawa  (North Korea) is on this list because she is able to compete a front Rudi. The same one we saw from Giulia.

Dipa Karmakar (India) is on my list because she has the infamous 7.0 vault. She currently holds the highest scored Prudonova at 15.300. She recieved a 8.3 for execution.

The vault final in the Olympics is the most exciting to me.  A gymnast could stick the first vault perfectly and not land the second.  Someone could actually land the Prudonova vault! The vaults are getting more exciting and the amount of power needed to generate the completion is crazy!  Will Simone finally get her vault gold?  Will Oksana leave the sport with the one medal she doesn’t have?  Or will Maria help Russia to regain their golden destiny?

Next we will be looking at the uneven bars, stay tuned!