Kayla Williams…America’s new floor and vault specialist?
This girl is the real deal. I didn’t even know about her myself until I noticed that she won both floor and vault at the Covergirl Classic this weekend, and I decided to look up some videos of her. I was astonished she’s been kept a secret until now. First, let’s take a look at her floor routine from this weekend, which scored a 14.5 (5.6 D-score):
HOLY MOLY! Not only is her tumbling among the best in the world, it is ridiculously easy for her! You can easily see the potential to do even more – she could twist that double layout with her eyes closed, for example. And how many gymnasts do we see doing a piked full-in at the end of a routine nowadays? Almost none! And stuck cold – absolutely awesome stuff. And did you notice how she doesn’t have a “forward” acrobatic skill? Her side somi actually counts for that element group – the category is called “Saltos forward and sideways.” I actually love the fact that she doesn’t do a forward skill because they often make for weak and cheesy tumbling passes. I could do without seeing another 1 ½ to front full for the rest of my life, for example! This leaves her with 4 big, legitimate tumbling passes that allow her to show off her true power…smartly designed!
In case you thought this routine was a fluke, let’s check out another one from this year’s J.O. Nationals:
Even better! It’s nice to see she changed the music and choreography for the Elite scene, because I don’t think that college-style would fly too well with Marta Karolyi – or the international judges for that matter. But can you imagine seeing a routine like this at the JUNIOR Nationals? The cool thing is that she sticks so many of these huge tumbling passes COLD – a true sign of how powerful she is and how consistently she’ll nail them. This tumbling undoubtedly belongs on the world stage…the question will be whether or not there is a spot for her this year.
Here’s a look at a couple of her vaults from this year…
Awesome! Once again, she demonstrates control and an ability to stick a Yurchenko double full – something that is SORELY lacking among even our best vaulters. I’m not sure what her second vault is, but if she’s got one, I’d seriously consider sending her to do these two events at worlds this year. Not only does the U.S. need some new vault specialists with Sacramone now gone, but the world could use some as well!
Her beam is far from weak as well:
Nice standing Arabian, and some solid powerful skills overall. Her bars is clean but lacking in difficulty right now. Her abilities as a specialist are outstanding. This will certainly be a very interesting selection process for worlds…remember that this year’s worlds will be individual only (as in 2005), and we’ll be sending 4 girls and 6 guys. On the girls’ side, my guess is we’ll want to send a couple of all-arounders and a couple of specialists, and a lot will depend on whether Nastia plans on competing in the all-around by then, and also how ready Chellsie Memmel is. I can see one possible team being Bridget Sloan and Samantha Peszek as the all-arounders, with Liukin and Memmel being bars and beam specialists (both have stated plans to compete at least these two events at the upcoming U.S. Championships). However, I believe that Kayla Williams could medal on floor (and possibly even vault given the weak international vault field right now), and I hope she’ll be strongly considered. We’ll know a lot more in a couple of weeks after nationals, but this girl has undoubtedly served notice that she’ll be one to watch for!