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.

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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!

 

2012 Olympic Team…

My team has been the same for 2 months. The team will consist of Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Lauren Hernandez, and Madison Kocian.  The alternates should be Maggie Nichols, Regan Smith, and Ashton Locklear. I do think that Makayla Skinner could surprise us though!

One hour until we know who is on the 2016 Olympic team.  I feel like this process has been going on my entire life.  The sleepless nights, the twitter fights, the “I know what’s best moments” will be done and the team of 3 girls in the entire universe will be picked. As long as Aly Raisman makes the team I can sleep tonight.

Aly Raisman and Mihai need their own reality show starting now.  Every time she does a routine I wait for her to cry.  It will happen on floor and that’s next.  I have my Kleenex ready to cry with her.  What a great weekend for her.  I feel in terms of getting back into shape she wins!  She has a few weeks to figure out her amanar and straighten it out. Beam connections were solid, and if she can get her legs together on bars she should get that chance to be in the all around.

NBC should have saved some money and let Lifetime film the “Douglas Family Gold”. The entire meet was about Gabby except for a few routines where other gymnasts were shown. That may be a little bit of an exaggeration, but you all saw it…come on now. Is she going, is she not, which coach will be on the floor, did she fall on beam…again. She has not performed in the last two meets. I wish we were back in 1996 and the ones who are ready now are the ones who make the team.  I wonder if all of sponsors and her huge following makes Steve Penny want to take her-fans=viewers=more money. Ugh the ugly side of gymnastics. Carly Patterson fell in the Trials on both nights we have been reminded of this all weekend. She did fall and she did not do a great job for the TEAM in the Olympics. The ones who are “supposed to go” don’t always live up to their potential… Cough cough Jordyn Weiber.

Makayla Skinner, Brenna Dowell, and Amelia Hundley may not be going to the Olympics, but they were able to finish their routines with pride! They went all out and finished the season so well.  It might have been a little late but they were spectacular to watch.

Makayla Skinner has looked better than she has ever! She could get a medal on vault, she could place on floor, but is she too late? She needed to fix her leaps and execution, and I definitely think she did that this weekend. She has a world medal is she going to add the Olympic one next?

I’m so happy to see Simone struggle a little bit in these trials. She has been so perfect for so long, she is getting all the “jitters” and “wobbles” out now so she can go all out in Rio. Her vault, wow! One tenth on the hop and she would have been as perfect as you can get using this code. You just can’t say it enough, that she really is the best in the world right now. The gold medal is hers to win in Rio.  She will surely become the most decorated gymnast in history!

Madison Kocian, what can you even say! World champion and if you are going to hit your highest score tonight was definitely the one to get it on. She got her spot at Worlds but she solidified it tonight… until she fell on her beam routine. Ashton Locklear fell the first night; Madison gets a better score on night 2. I am so glad I didn’t have to make the decision.

Ashton is the consistent one when it comes down to scores on the uneven bars, but she is not the World Champion. I think the lack of high pressure meets will keep her off the team. One fall on beam on night one but comes back to stick it on night two. Is Ashton going to make the team?

Lauren Hernandez had an incredible first night so far she has been a little rocky tonight. Will she be the break out senior or the dreaded “Vanessa Atler” of 2016? She missed a release on bars and stepped out of bounds on the floor. Scored well on the vault she just needs to stay on the beam. She does! Nails it and does the routine of her life! 15.7 she might as well put the gold medal around her neck for the event finals in Rio.

Maggie Nichols is on the cusp. I feel like three months ago she would have been the number 2 spot on the team. Tonight I am wondering if she will be an alternate. I want her to make it- I am also from Minnesota. Her scores have been pretty low except on night ones floor routine. She had a fall on beam but tonight is ending on the event and finishes her trials with a stuck routine! If she went we would get awesome snaps from her and Simone!

Regan Smith just did not have the experience for these Olympic games. I would put her in the same category as Sarah Finnigan. I have no doubt that she will go as an alternate. She did have one of the best moments in trials! Being called over from Bela himself to get a hug would make just about anyone faint! Good job Kim, try not to injure this one and she could be on the top of podium come 2020.

These trials did not disappoint They are walking into the room! We will know the team in a moment! Here it is…

The 2016 Olympic Team…

Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Lauren Hernandez, Gabby Douglas, and Madison Kocian!

The alternates are… Makayla Skinner, Regan Smith, and Ashton Locklear!!

Now I try to breath as we wait for August 8th!

Your Olympic Team for 2016 is…

The Olympic year, anything can happen. Dreams are made and dreams are crushed. Everyone has their “perfect” team, but one woman is clearly in charge of naming those five gymnasts who will represent our country in the biggest games ever.  Hmmm……Welcome to the hunger games.

If we look back on teams before this one, it is safe to say, the gymnasts who represented the United States at the World Championships just a year before are likely to make up most of the Olympic team. With the fourth and fifth spots always fluctuating a little bit, there’s so many different scenarios that could come out of these trials.  Remember, no one is a sure thing!  Except Simone Biles…..she wins at life period.

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Looking back at Martha’s reign, every four years she has slowly taken the World Championships as a huge stepping stone in announcing her final Olympic team.  In 2004, four of the six Olympians competed at Worlds the year before the Olympics.  In 2008 this was the same scenario again with four out the six making the Olympic team.  In 2012 the World team almost mirrored the Olympic team, with the breakout first year senior Kyla Ross taking the last spot.  This was also the year that brought us the biggest disappointment of Alicia Sacramone not going!  The Worlds seems to be one of the major competitions that Martha picks her team from.  Yes, she does look at training camps and the other meets, but if history repeats itself, the team would consist of Simone, Maggie, Gabby, Aly, and Madison.  Oh, but this time there is so much more to consider with injuries, surprise missed routines, and inconsistencies.  All of this is making this team one of the hardest to choose and being her last year Martha is probably not going to take any chances.  Let’s see who and where the gymnasts are.

Lauren is proving that being a first year senior is no reason to be left behind.  She is peaking at the right time and is full of energy and consistency.  She could help the team on beam and vault, but she can put up a decent bar routine, and actually placed third on floor at the recent P&Gs.  She is capable of getting low 15’s on vault, middle 15’s on beam, and high 14’s on floor.  I think she has that international gymnastics package and the judges will probably love her.  She is my pick for the 2016 “Kyla Ross” spot.

Six months ago it appeared that Maggie Nichols was right on track to help the Olympic team on floor and vault.  Another knee injury has unfortunately held her back on the two events she could help the team on the most.  I think if we don’t see her do an Amanar vault and a high difficulty floor routine she probably won’t be on the team.  I do question why she would not have tried to upgrade her bars a bit more during her recuperation period?

Aly Raisman, my favorite gymnast out there right now.  She is humble and realistic and sounds like she sleeps as much as me so she gets a spot for that alone.   In reality, consistency is her ticket, along with       high vault, beam, and floor scores.  She ranks right behind Simone.  Fingers crossed and all goes well… she will be on the team.  She posted a huge 15.6/15.7 on day 1 and 2 at the P&G’s.  Reigning Olympic champion on floor and bronze on the beam- she will be fighting to do the same this summer.

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At the recent P&G’s Gabby looked lack-luster at best and her fans were asking the question, what’s wrong with Gabby?”  There were few smiles, little comradery with other athletes, and very few words from the athlete herself.  I found this disheartening.  At a meet where every score counts she appeared unconcerned about her routines.  In 2012, Gabby put up huge scores to help the team win and individually she did even better.  Now, we would not have to use her on beam since she has only scored above 15 in 2 meets.  Her bar routine has not been rewarded the way it was in 2012. (15.733)  She has also taken out a big release element and combination leaving her with a consistent 15.1 to 15.3.  We needed to use her in 2012 and even at the worlds in 2015, but her score now, would be ranked around 4-5th place.  If her chance for the Olympics is based on the last competition, on her overall consistency, and based on the international competition she would not go.

I do not want to leave out the huge debate of “Team Ashton”/”Team Madison”

Ashton has won bars in the last four competitions she’s participated in.  Her difficulty score is 6.4/6.5 and the majority of her execution scores are in the 9’s.  Madison has scored behind Ashton in the two competitions they were in together this year.  Madison did tie for first place on bars with a 15.366 at the 2015 Worlds.  Her difficulty score is higher than Ashton’s at 6.600/6.700.  But her execution scores at P&G were lower.

They both can be used for beam if needed although neither scores very high.  Again, Ashton does score a little higher than Madison.  They both have execution scores in the 8’s.

Madison does top off the debate by doing all around at the P&G.

Ashton—- (bars) 15.25 Jeselo, 15.625 Pacific Rim, 15.850 Secret Classic, 15.600/15.700  P&G with difficulty 6.4/6.5 with execution scores ranging from 8.75-9.45                                    (beam) 14.450 Pacific Rim, 14.750 Secret Classic, 14.450/14.150 P&G with difficulty of 5.800 with execution scores ranging from 8.350- 8.950

Madison—- (bars) 15.700 Secret Classic, 15.450/15.700 P&G with difficulty of 6.6/67 and execution scores of 9.000 and 8.850/9.000                                                                                               (beam) 13.650 Secret Classic, 14.400/14.250 P&G with execution scores ranging from 7.650- 8.600

Let’s include Gabby into this debate.                                                                                                           (bars) 15.05 Jeselo, 15.266 AT&T Cup, 15.650 Secret Classic, 15.100/14.500 P&G  with difficulty ranging from 6.1-6.6 with execution scores in the 8’s.  Her beam scores are comparable to Madison’s and Ashton’s.

If you think about Lauren again, her last three bar scores have been in the low 15’s.  Her difficulty scores are in the low 6’s and her execution scores are in the 8’s also.  She has higher beam scores than the other three.  And her floor score is equal or higher than Gabby’s.

What about McKayla Skinner?  Could we use her on vault and floor— absolutely?  We know that bars is our weakness.  If necessary, we can always capitalize on the events that we are strongest on.  If we are up five tenths higher on vault that would help the team gain a little cushion going into bars.  McKayla can also pull a 14.7/14.8 on floor exercise giving us an edge on an event that is very hard to come up with high difficulty.

There are still other gymnasts to consider.  We have Brenna Dowell, Regan Smith, and Amelia Hundley.   I think these three are going to be considered as our alternates.  Again, don’t count them out- anything can happen.

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If we look at our opponents we are not a sure thing.  I still would like to believe that we are going to be able to see a solid and strong competitive event and not a huge blow out.  I have watched some of the Chinese routines during their recent National Championships.  They excel on the uneven bars and the balance beam, but I don’t think they’re strong on vault.  Russia, again, has some big scores but I haven’t seen them really come together and as a team.  I think the event finals will be the highlight of these games.

This weekend is about watching the best gymnastics in the country.  These girls have sacrificed so much to get here.  And, they all say it’s worth it.  People have said that we have so much talent within our program that we could take three teams that could compete for a medal.  However, we only take five.  Martha can only choose five, just five gymnasts looking to make history.  There are so many choices, so many scenarios, and so many combinations to get the maximum scores.  There’s the all arounders, bar specialists, and vault, beam, and floor combinations.  To me, Gabby, McKayla, Ashton, and Madison are in contention for the last two spots behind Simone, Aly, and Lauren.  Who would you choose?

Is Martha going to take the gymnasts who have peaked right now, or is she looking at scores back from last year to this year?

Will it be the 2015 gold winning team from the World Championships?

Who is going to make the cut?

Does she take Gabby?

Is Maggie in or out?

Who is going on the uneven bars?

Final thought’s while we wait for the competition?  Feel free to comment, ask questions, or just give your team.  I would love to hear from you.