2015 Secret Classic Thoughts: Seniors


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Let’s just pretend that it hasn’t been forever and a day since I last posted, m’kay?

On to the Classic! Guys. This meet had me SO excited. I have so many thoughts about so many things that I’m just going to try to put down in a coherent fashion, so forgive me if it’s a little haphazard. I was going to try to do everything in one post but it would be so freakishly long that I figured I’d better split it by juniors and seniors.

First: Simone. My gosh, is that girl something else. She truly is in a different class from all of today’s other active gymnasts. If you judged solely by the effort she seems to put out, you’d have absolutely NO idea that she’s currently competing the most difficult skills in the world. It’s insane. I have no words. I also admit that I have a little soft spot for her just because I noticed her before she was “big” – I still remember the day I saw this floor routine and, after the first pass, immediately thought “dang, that girl is going places”.

And on that topic, her new floor routine is amazing (and you can see a great breakdown of her difficulty here). I LOVE her new opening pass (laid out full-in) because she just floats it so beautifully that you almost aren’t sure whether she actually twisted. And her other passes look so easy as well, especially her tucked double double. If she ends her career without trying a triple double, I’ll be surprised. I have to admit that my fantasy floor routine for Simone includes a laid out double double, a tucked triple double, and a laid out double arabian. Unrealistic? Yes, but a girl can dream, right? And while we’re on the subject of completely unrealistic fantasies, sometimes I drool over the idea of Simone vaulting a Produnova and a TTY in a vault final. Don’t judge. On a more realistic note, I’d like to see her add some form of a full on beam.

Anyways, moving on… next topic of discussion is Aly and Gabby, comeback queens. I was seriously impressed by these girls this weekend, and I was completely blown away by how Gabby nailed every single event after having what appeared to be a very rough podium training. Maybe during the past couple of years she’s gotten to a point where she’s better under pressure? Anyways, maturity looks good on her. She’s definitely grown a lot but it doesn’t seem to be impacting her at all. And Aly gets serious cred for busting out her amanar and her insane floor routine. I was so crushed when she sat her piked double arabian pass… it looked like she second guessed herself on the punch front at the last second as her knees went soft right when she landed the double arabian. I cannot WAIT to see what these girls bring to nationals.

Maggie Nichols was also a great surprise. She’s not completely unknown but has definitely been one of the lower higher-level girls the past couple of years, if that makes any sense at all. This year, though, she’s bringing her A game and it’s quite impressive. It takes a lot of guts and grit to break into the ranks of the top girls, so I’ve gotta hand it to her. She’s awesome. Watch out world, Maggie’s coming for ya.

Bailie Key… I’m not quite sure what to say about her. She’s very, very good – great, even. But I can’t help but feel that after all the hype over her past couple of years as a junior, her senior debut fell just the tiniest bit flat. I think this has to do with both the top-notch comebacks of Aly and Gabby and with the fact that she has grown quite a bit within the last 18 months or so. I’ll be really interested to see how she gets a handle on things from here on out now that she’s actually competing with the big dogs.

Poor Kyla had a really rough go of it on bars, and I couldn’t help but get all feel-sy when the crowd rallied for her after her falls. Girlfriend doesn’t have anything to prove here – everyone knows what she’s got going for her. I really hope she can get her upgrades consistent, because otherwise I’m worried that she’ll slowly fade into the background with the resurgence of some of the higher-difficulty gymnasts (Gabby, Aly, Maggie). She really is a lovely gymnast and I’d hate to see that happen. I always love watching her perform.

Mykayla Skinner just did not have a good day. I’ll be interested to see how she pulls together for nationals. I feel like she ALWAYS falls on beam after nailing it in practice, which stinks because I’m always wondering how she would score if she could just stay on. I do feel a bit sorry for her because I feel like Gabby & Aly’s comeback is going to render her basically obsolete for worlds etc.

I haven’t really taken a lot of notice of Alyssa Baumann before, but her beam is GORGEOUS. It’s such a shame that she had a fall, and believe me, she knew it too. She was NOT happy with herself. I believe she only competed bars and beam this meet, so I am really interested to see if she goes all-around for nationals.

I was really interested to see Sabrina Vega compete because she was a big favorite of mine back in the day. It was really awesome in a weirdly poignant way, because the last time I saw her she was a (relatively) little girl and now she’s definitely an adult. I’m the same age as she is so in some way that I don’t really have words for it was an unexpected reminder of how I’ve grown up. Anyways, I was disappointed for her when she crashed her floor pass, but I’m crossing my fingers that she keeps plugging away and whips out something awesome at nationals!

Polina Shchennikova just kills me every time because I’ve always felt like she was a gorgeous gymnast and has so much potential but she’s just never quite “there”, you know? She’s one of those girls that would be a frontrunner in so many other countries but isn’t quite cutting edge enough to make her way to the top in the US’s crazy depth – at least right now. I would love to see her make me eat my words in the future.

Injuries – I saw Felicia Hano’s live during podium training, but missed Marissa Oakley’s during warm ups. That must be such a major disappointment – I can’t even imagine. Here’s hoping for a swift recovery for both girls.

Well, there’s my disjointed rambling on the seniors, so I hope you enjoyed! For more Classics talk, check out The Gymternet’s live-blogged recap of senior competition. GymnasticsCoaching.com also has several interesting posts, including this fascinating graph charting the senior’s D and E scores. Spoiler: Simone is first in both, but second place might surprise you!

I’m hoping to do one of these posts for juniors in the next couple of days, but life has a funny way of making me crazy busy all the time, so we’ll see!

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One response to “2015 Secret Classic Thoughts: Seniors

  1. Mike C.

    Great post and loved reading your musings on the competition. I had the same reaction to Bailie Key that you did. She didn’t exactly blow me away. I’ve seen the hype before. Everyone was talking about how great Viktoria Komova was back in 2010-2011, but all I ever saw was her making mistakes on her routines that would just pile up, or she’d quit on a routine when something went wrong. To be clear, Bailie isn’t like that at all and she mostly hits. But she doesn’t have the power or explosiveness of Simone, Gabby, Aly, or even Maggie Nichols. I’m not sure how her gymnastics stack up in this new code with an emphasis on difficulty.

    It will be interesting to see where Bailie fits in. On beam, she tied with Maggie Nichols for the fifth highest score. On floor, she tied with Maggie Nichols for the third highest score, but Aly has more scoring potential than either of them. On vault, she had the seventh highest score, but Kyla Ross didn’t vault and probably has more scoring potential for the same vault. On bars, she had the third highest score. I’m not sure if a clean, upgraded routine from Kyla would reach Balie’s score on bars, but my guess is it would. I’ll reassess after the upcoming P&G Championships in August, but for now I don’t know where Bailie fits in. But what a great “problem” for the US to have. Most other countries–nay, ALL other countries–would KILL to have Bailie Key on their team, whereas in the US she may not fit in to the picture.

    Like you, I love Kyla Ross, but I’m not sure where she fits in in this new world either. But Marta loves Kyla because she delivers when it counts, so she has a shot to make Worlds and the Olympic team if she can upgrade some and still hit. Here at Secret Classic, though, she missed her bars, which is her most important event as far as I’m concerned.

    Anyway, really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing it!

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