Simone Biles start value 6.9
a 6.9! This girl has a freaking 6.9 start value on floor and this should say it all. Simone’s floor is out of this world and it’s certainly out of this era of gymnastics. I thought it would be years until we saw someone doing a double double as a third pass, and performing three elements rated higher than a G on the same routine but here she is, proving that impossible is nothing to her. And it’s not just about her difficulty. Her execution is also probably the best in the world. She is so insanely powerful and clean and all her tumbling passes are sky high, well executed and landed with her chest upright. People have been complaining about Simone’s lack of artistry since she became senior, but they really don’t have a reason to. She gets better and better choreography every year, she uses her entire body and floor area, she has fun and original moves and she interprets her music better than anyone else in the senior competition. Some people prefer a different style on floor and that’s perfectly okay, but at this point it’s dump to deny that Simone’s floor meets all the artistry requirements set by the code of points. I have to admit I wasn’t a huge fan of her choreography until last year but her new routine changed that. It’s so energetic, so well performed, so sassy and dynamic that I cannot not love it and her smile lights up the entire arena. She is also the only American gymnast in the competition to have a skill named after and she combines difficulty, execution, consistency and artistry better than anyone else we’ll see. Simone is the absolute top contender for the floor title and she’s going to bring the house down every time she performs.
Aly Raisman, start value: 6.7
The only person who can challenge the reigning world floor champion is the reigning Olympic floor champion, Aly Raisman. Seeing those amazing athletes competing against each other is going to be one of the most exciting battles of the quad so far and I just can’t wait to see it happening. Aly is the only athlete in the world whose start value comes even close to Simone but she builds her difficulty in a different way. While Simone gets plenty of difficulty from performing I and G rated tumbling passes, Aly is getting lots of bonus for performing ridiculous combinations. The opening tumbling pass (1.5 + double arabian + front layout) that made her famous back in 2012 is still there and she has also been working on a Dos Santos into a front tuck. She was training this combination in 2012 as well but she never competed it. She attempted it for the first time at the recent US classic but she unfortunately fell on it. Hopefully, they’ll give her an other chance to prove she can land it at nationals. Her third tumbling pass is also brand new, and it’s a Double Layout we had never seen before. Back in the London Olympics, it looked like Aly had come pretty close to the physical limit of an athlete with her floor routine. And yet, only three years later she shows that she’s capable of even more by upgrading her tumbling passes and dance elements. Even though Raisman has been extremely impressive so far, and even though her tumbling is just as spectacular as Simone’s one has to admit that she can’t compete against her younger teammate when it comes to artistry and execution. Aly has improved a lot, but the legs separations and the flexed feet are still there while Simone’s form is near perfect and her choreography or presentation will never match Simone’s. Βecause of that, I consider Simone the top contender for the title but I’m sure that Raisman will give her a good fight.
MyKayla Skinner, start value: 6.5
The athlete who could also challenge for the gold medal on this event if the other two make mistakes is world floor finalist MyKayla Skinner. MyKayla, who barely missed a medal on floor at Nanning, became famous when she became the first woman to ever compete a double twisting double layout on floor at the beginning of 2013. This ridiculously difficult tumbling pass is still the highlight of her routine, which also includes a silivas and a full in. She has also trained an 1.5 step out into a triple full and full in into a back tuck but I don’t know if she’d have enough endurance to perform all those elements in the same routine. She really struggled at Classics but she typically falls on her dismount at Classics and then nails her routine at nationals so I’m not worried about her consistency. The reason why MyKayla is not quite at the level of Aly and Simone is her execution. Her tumbling is amazing, nobody is denying that, but even though I always gasp after her Moors, I also notice the bend knees, the piked hips and the low landing as well as the crossed ankles during her twisting and I’m sure the judges will too. Sometimes her leaps don’t hit 180 degrees and she still needs to work on her artistry so she should score a couple of tenths lower than Aly and Simone if they all do their best. However she still is the top contender for the bronze medal and she desperately needs to prove that she can put high scores on this event if she wants to be considered for the worlds team.
Madison Desch start value: 6.2.
Maddie has been a star on floor since she was a junior and after struggling for a while, she has now regained her full difficulty on this event. The thing I love the most about her tumbling is the variety. While most athletes perform multiple variations of the same skill in their routine, Madde has a little bit of everything: forward tumbling, backwards tumbling, twisting and double saltos. She is incredibly clean, always keeping her legs together and she has good amplitude during all her skills. The only area where she needs to improve is her leaps, that don’t always hit 180 degrees. She was the favorite to win the floor title at the Pan american championships but a couple of messy landings during finals cost her a medal. After being the alternate at last year’s world team, Maddie looks more confident and stronger than she has in her entire senior career and hopefully it’s not too late for her to make an impact.
Bailie Key: start value 6.3,
Bailie has won plenty of titles on floor in various competition, such as the Jesolo Trophy, the Pacific Rim championships, the Junior Japan International and the junior national championships. Of course, winning a medal as a senior competing against world and Olympic champions is not going to be easy for her but she is definitely one to watch. She has upgraded her difficulty, adding a brand new Double Layout as her first pass and she has also been working on a Dos Santos. She has clean execution and gorgeous leaps and if she hits she should be able to break 15. Her new choreography is quite different from the ones we’ve seen from her during her career and there are different opinions about it but there are no doubts she can put a good score on this event.
Magge Nichols: start value: 6.0
For me, Maggie’s floor was one of the highlight of Secret Classic. She had excellent energy, she sold her routine to the crowed and she looked like she was enjoying herself out there. During that competition she also performed her double double for the first time and she stuck it. Her other tumbling passes are a tucked full in, a piked full in and a double tuck, so there is obviously not much variety in her routine and I wish she brought back her double layout or her 2.5 twists for nationals. I don’t consider her a front runner for the podium because she doesn’t have the highest start value and she doesn’t keep her legs together during her elements but for her, it’s not about winning the floor title. She just needs to prove that she is team finals worthy on this event in order to maximise her chances to be named into the worlds team.
Other gymnasts with worth watching floor routines are Gabby Douglas and Alyssa Baumann. Nia Dennis, Rachel Gowey and Brenna Dowell have shown fantastic floor routines in the past but they have not competed on the event this year so it’s hard to know what they’re planning to do.
Laurie Hernandez start value: 5.9
Back in 2012, a 12-years-old Laurie Hernandez who had just qualified to elite stole the hearts of the crowd with her fun personality and fierce choreography on floor. Now, just a year away from her senior debut, Laurie has upgraded her routines significantly and she is a completely different gymnast than she was back then, but she remains a crowd pleaser. Some like her routines and her expressions and others don’t, but there’s one thing for sure, when she takes the floor it’s impossible not to watch her. In addition to being a great performer, Hernandez is also a powerful tumbler and she’s one of the very few junior gymnast who is currently competing a tumbling pass with three different elements connected (front layout + double full + front tuck). Her form is good, her double saltos are high, her leaps are fabulous and her dance is going to bring the house down.
Jazzy Foberg, start value: 6.0
Laurie’s teammate, Jazzy Foberg is probably the best tumbler of the competition. There are senior gymnasts out there who would kill to have her difficulty and seeing her perform a full twisting double layout and a silivas as her first two passes at the age of 15 is ridiculous. Her Chusovitina is a bit messy and during Classics, she struggled a bit and landed some of her tumbling passes quite low but hopefully she will be more comfortable with her routine at nationals. I’m not sure if MG elite’s choreography really suits Jazzy. She is not as energetic as Laurie is and she does not seem able to always pull off the unique choreography and use her face and body the way Laurie does so I’m happy her new floor routine is a little bit less upbeat.
Ragan Smith, start value: 6.1
The Secret Classic floor champion and 2014 national floor silver medalist, Ragan Smith, is heading to P & G championships hoping to add a national title to her collection. Despite her tiny size, Ragan is very powerful and she’s capable of fantastic tumbling. Just like her senior teammate, Bailie Key, she added a dynamic double layout at her first pass and she’s also capable of a double arabian and an 1.5 + triple combination. Some times it seems like her tumbling is a tiny bit messy and rushed but she’s always very impressive on this event. Her routine is very nicely choreographed, it suits her personality perfectly and she shows some attitude while performing it. Ragan seems to really enjoy the crowd. She loves competing and she certainly loves winning so she has all the qualities to become a star in the future.
Deanne Soza, start value: 5.8
The lovely Deanne Soza is fully recovered from her eye infection earlier this year and she looks ready to make the national team for the first time. She is capable of nice tumbling (full in, 1.5 + double tuck) and she’s very clean and expressive. Her routines are always very nicely choreographed and she’s a delight to watch since she shows elegance, power and flexibility. She tied for bronze on floor at Secret Classic and hopefully she will be able to repeat this success at nationals, when it matters the most.
Shilese Jones, start value: 5.8
Shilese is one of the most powerful gymnasts of the competition and she has one of the most exciting tumbling passes in the entire world: an 1.5 step out into a tucked full in. This combination is so insanely difficult and it demands so much power and precision that only a few gymnasts have ever performed it, but the 13-years-old athlete did it beautifully at Secret Classics. She did not perform her signature 1.5 twisting double back at Classics and this skills is probably not worth it but it’s very exciting and I hope to see it back. Shilese trains at Buckey’s gymnastics now and it seems like this change has been good for her since she looked much more confident and composed at Classics than she has in the past.
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, start value: 5.7:
Sydney is an other gymnast who has come a long way since last year. She became famous for her performance on floor at the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup. Her smile and her choreography were so captivating that they chose to show her performance at the broadcast for the American Cup instead of the actual winner of the competition. There really is something special about the way this girl dances. She feels the music on her body and she has a rhythm and a fluidity that not many gymnasts have. And of course she knows how to perform, she smiles, she makes eye contact with the judges and she connects with the audience. She’s a performer and she wins the crowd over every time she gets out there. Her tumbling is also very impressive. She starts her routine with a new Dos Santos and she ‘s also capable of a full in and a 1.5 + 2.5 combination. She was only 9th on the event at Classics, after taking a couple of big steps after her 2.5 twists but if she cleans up her landings she’s right up there with the country’s top gymnasts.
Jordan Chiles, start value: 5.8
Jordan Chiles has the perfect combination of difficulty, artistry and execution. She’s just beautiful to watch out there, she has great choreography and her extension and flexibility are fantastic. Her tumbling is difficult and well executed. Her double arabian is sky high, her twists are clean and her double tuck is fantastic. During Classics she attempted a very exciting opening combination: a 1.5 step out into 2.5 twists into a front tuck but she fell on her front tuck. I’m not sure if she will try it at nationals too but I hope she does. She has trained very difficult tumbling passes like a Double Layout, 3.5 twists and a triple twist forward but she probably won’t perform any of them. She’s still young and she has time before she needs to add massive skills on her routines.
Christina Desiderio, start value: 6.2
Christina has the highest start value and some of the most impressive tumbling of the competition. She broke the arena with her floor routine at secret Classics and just like lots of athletes coming from Parkettes, she is an excellent tumbler. She upgraded her first tumbling pass to a very impressive silivas and she performs a high double layout as her third pass. She’s also capable of a 1.5 step out into a double tuck and a double pike. Christina has also been training a Biles and in the pas she used to perform a tucked full in so I wouldn’t be surprised to see her upgrading this routine. She has been trying to make the national team for a while now, but she always has mistakes at nationals and never finishes in the top 6. Hopefully this time around will be different, and a huge score on floor would definitely help her chances.
Emily Gaskins, start value: 5.8
Emily is one of the most beautiful gymnasts in the world. She has been through a couple of gym changes this year and she is now training with Steve Nunno and it seems like she hasn’t adjusted to this new situation yet. She underperformed at Classics, showing lots of low landings and some sloppy word, but when I almost said I wasn’t very impressed with her I saw pictures like those:
and I fell in love all over again. She is so graceful and her ballet background have given her gorgeous lines, body posture and toe point. Every single move she does is elegant, she could just be standing in the middle of the mat and she would still looked amazing so no matter how she performs at nationals, she will definitely make the competition more beautiful. The routine she showed at Classics has lots of potential. She has upgraded her first pass to a double arabian + sissone and she also performs a full in and a 1.5 step out into a double tuck. In a world full of ugly wolf turns, her lovely memmel seems like a breath of fresh air, her leaps and jumps are to die for and the fact that she’s using Ana Porgras’ old music is making me emotional. I hope that Emily was able to polish her routines during those last couple of weeks and she will come to nationals ready to defend her spot on the national team.
Photos by John Cheng and Christy Ann Linder