Some random thoughts about the women’s U.S. Championships last weekend…

  • I’m so happy for Bridget Sloan. After looking a bit like her pre-Olympic uptight self on Day 1, she calmed down quite a bit and seemed to remember that she was the only Olympian fighting for the all-around title on Day 2. She totally stepped it up and genuinely deserved this win. I can’t wait to see how she stacks up in the all-around against the rest of the world in October – I think she could surprise some people.
  • Bridget’s floor routine on Day 2 was probably the highlight of the entire competition – absolutely beautiful tumbling mixed with confident and elegant dance. I had my doubts about that first pass when she first started competing it at the Trials last year, but it has ended up working REALLY well for her. In fact, I think she should try doing a punch front out of that triple full – she has the right set for it. I also love that she dares to go for a “Randi” (front 2 ½ twist) on the third run – super cool.
  • Bridget is awesome on bars, but I think she could be getting a higher D-score than her 5.8. She should probably consider bringing back the inside stalder she did at the Olympics, and I’ve been waiting for her to do something out of her toe-on Tcatchev for the longest time! I loved the piked toe-on Tcatchev, but just as she always has done, she has way too much swing to not connect it into something – a Pak salto or right into the overshoot. In fact, I think she should do BOTH of those toe-on Tcatchevs – maybe the piked one into a Pak salto, then she could do the Shaposhnikova, then do a toe-on straddled Tcatchev immediately to the overshoot. Just some ideas…I think she should be scoring quite a bit higher than she is, and that’s going to hurt her against the Chinese at worlds.
  • I love watching Rebecca Bross on bars. She has a great aggressive and dynamic look with a great variety of skills. I don’t really see what the big deal is about the Yaeger though…I’ve seen plenty of Yaegers that are higher than that!
  • Ivana Hong still can’t pirouette to a handstand. She also needs to get rid of the Tcatchev and learn a release that gets SOME height off the bar. And why in the world is she doing that double layout??? Her old dismount was fine and saved her about six to eight tenths in deductions!
  • I can’t believe Jana Bieger still can’t point her toes. In fact, they almost look intentionally flexed. She does still have some great combinations and hits her handstands well, but I honestly don’t think she’ll ever make a world or Olympic team again until she significantly improves that toepoint – and even then she’s going to have to do a Yurchenko double full on vault and probably get a new beam dismount.
  • I was actually REALLY impressed with Jana’s floor routine – especially considering she’s been sick! Sure she still doesn’t have any grace or elegance, but that was some pretty awesome stuff. We don’t have many gymnasts doing a full twisting double layout, as well as a double layout in the same routine. The front pass was also much better than what she was competing last year.
  • I don’t understand why, in an age of NO COMPULSORIES and with these girls training 35-40 hours per week, hardly any of them have time to learn a second vault. Are you kidding me? Don’t they realize that having a second vault could significantly raise their stock in the eyes of the selection committee? And at these worlds in particular I think vault medals will be up for grabs. Chusovitina and Sacramone won’t be there, and Cheng Fei seems a bit questionable. Other than Hong Un Jong, I don’t know who else can do two great vaults. I think the U.S. should start implementing some serious bonus points at nationals for girls who do two vaults. They do this at the junior men’s level and I think it works very well. Guys can do two different vaults and earn bonus points based on the total start values of the two vaults added together.
  • I could do without ever seeing a 1 ½ to front full on floor ever again.
  • Rebecca Bross’s front layout to double front is AWESOME!. She could easily do a half twist out of it – what an incredible pass that would be. I do think with her power she should probably be doing a fourth pass – maybe she could put her full-out in there somewhere.
  • The landing rule on women’s floor is ridiculous. Are you telling me that Rebecca Bross would be expected to land her double front and her 1 ½ twist to FRONT DOUBLE full without even moving??? Some of you might say that the men are expected to do that, but here’s the difference…the men do prone falls and sneaky little step turns into the corner to cover up passes like that. The women can’t really do that. I hardly think a prone fall after a big tumbling pass into the corner would look very elegant. What’s happening now is we’re seeing a lot of awkward landings that the girls don’t seem to know what to do with – when they take a step now, it appears they know it’s a deduction, and it takes away quite a bit from the performance.
  • Seeing Ivana Hong and Rebecca Bross stick back-to-back Yurchenko double fulls was AWESOME.
  • Samantha Peszek could be our top all-arounder if she were competing bars, but without the all-around I don’t see how she’s going to make the world team. We’d be stupid not to put two all-arounders in (I think Sloan and Bross), and even though Peszek’s beam was obviously much better than Liukin’s here, I seriously doubt they would put her in ahead of the Olympic champion – especially since Liukin should be ready for bars by then as well. And since I’ve never seen Peszek do a second vault, I don’t think she could be a floor and vault specialist either. It’s unfortunate she looks as good as she does but probably won’t be at worlds this year.
  • I really, really like Kytra Hunter. I knew she was powerful, but I had no idea she was such a good all-arounder. She upgraded her vault to a double full here, but I still don’t know if she has a second vault. If she does, it might be VERY close between her and Kayla Williams for a spot on the world team. Here’s a look at Kytra’s beam routine from Day 1. Get ready for a nice big surprise on the dismount!
Kytra Hunter Beam 2009 U.S. Championships Day 1
  • Junior champion Kyla Ross probably has the best Yurchenko double full in the country, and probably one of the best in the world. Check it out!
Kyla Ross Vault 2009 U.S. Championships Day 1
WOW! Just a slight leg split, but that was the straightest, easiest looking double full I’ve seen in a long time. A 2 ½ is sure to be coming soon.
  • Nastia obviously looked pretty nervous here, but I think she’ll get her bars and beam together for worlds. Did anyone else find it a little strange that the Olympic all-around champion looked scared to do a DOUBLE FULL off beam? And it wasn’t even a very good one! Maybe she’s had some recent accidents or something…
  • Chellsie Memmel rocks. She is definitely one of the toughest competitors I’ve ever seen. We won’t see her at worlds this year, but I would love to see her make the decision to continue. She truly hasn’t gotten her due since her 2005 world title.
  • Kayla Williams is incredible. There’s something about the way she competes that I love. She seems very confident and unaffected by pressure…I think she’d be a great asset in a team situation. I think her floor was underscored – her E-scores were 8.55 and 8.65. Where were all those deductions? I’d like to see her on the world team, but Kytra Hunter might have something to say about that.
  • Overall, my predictions for the world team didn’t change from what they were before the meet. I’m still going to go with:
Bridget Sloan (AA)
Rebecca Bross (AA)
Nastia Liukin (UB, BB)
Kayla Williams (FX, V)
I’d love to hear some of your thoughts!