start values: 5.8 + 5.1 + 6.2+ 6.1
notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, maloney, tkatcev and full in dismount on bars, back handsprings + layout, front tuck, switch leap + switch half, switch ring and 2.5 twists in combination on beam, silivas, 1.5 + double tuck and double layout on floor
notable achievements: national bronze medalist and Secret Classic silver medalist on floor exercise, American Classic balance beam and floor exercise champion, junior national team member
Gymnastics fans from all over the world should already be familiar with Christina’s name since she has been an international elite for quite a while. She trains at the Legendary Parkettes, and she has committed to LSU. Growing up, she looked up to her teammate, Elizabeth Price and she has talked about how amazing it was to see her making it to the Olympics as an alternate. She competed at her first Secret Classic in 2013, and she placed 10th in the All Around and 4th on balance beam, qualifying into nationals at her first year as an elite. She did not have a perfect competition there, but she still managed to place 13th in the All Around and 8th on beam, showing good potential for the future. She had some injuries in 2014, but she recovered in time to compete at the national competitions. She was more experienced, she was regularly attending training camps and she was upgrading her routines, so she was considered a strong contender for the national team. She placed 8th All Around at the Secret Classic despite having some mistakes and it was clear that she had the potential to be top 6 if she hit her routines. However, when it was time to fight for a spot in the junior national team, she did not manage to perform to the best of her abilities. She had a few falls and mistakes, but what really took her out of contention was the 9.500 she posted for a disastrous uneven bars routine. She only placed 18th in the All Around and she was not named to the national team. She wasn’t added into the team later that year, like some of her teammates so she had one last chance to become a junior national team member in 2015. After attending training camps, she had her first competition of the year at the American Classic, where she did an excellent job, earning a bronze on vault and golds on beam and floor. She once again had a rough bars set that hurt her All Around total, but she scored a huge 15.0 for a fabulous beam routine and she showed incredible tumbling on floor, proving that she should not be counted out. Unfortunately, she could not repeat this performance at the Secret Classic, where she had a solid beam set, only to take several steps sideways after her dismount. She also fell on the uneven bars and only placed 10th in the All Around, but her floor exercise silver medal was a nice consolation prize for her. At that point, it was clear that Christina was ridiculously talented. She was doing DTYs, layouts and double doubles, she clearly had the skills to make the national team, but would she be able to hit when it counted? Well, it turned out she could! Christina did an excellent job at the P & G championships, where she hit 7 out of the 8 routines she competed. She had an unfortunate beam set at day 1 but she did an excellent job on the other events, including her nemesis, the uneven bars and she placed 5th in the All Around. This meant that after so many years of hard work, she had finally made the national team! As she said after the competition, she has never smiled so much in her life, and she almost started crying out of joy. It really was an incredible moment for her to end her junior career, but now, she has to do it all over again as a senior. If she does what she’s capable of, Christina is a fantastic beam and floor specialist, who has enough difficulty to compete against the seniors and with her double twisting yurchenko, she is capable of scoring in the high 14s on three events. In the past, she has trained a weiler 1/2 on bars, a Biles on floor and a bhs bhs layout full, a front aerial + sheep and side aerial + loso on balance beam, so we can expect some exciting things from her. It’s needless to say that there are plenty of amazing beam and floor workers in USA, and Christina will have plenty of competition, but I definitely do not count her out.
start values: 5.8 + 6.2 + 5.7 + 6.4
notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, van leeuwen, church + pak and maloney + gienger on bars, double wolf turn, front tuck, switch leap + sheep jump and double tuck dismount on beam, silivas, full twisting double layout and full in + wolf jump on floor
notable achievements: 2014 Secret Classic bronze medalist, 2014 Junior All Around and uneven bars champion, Jesolo vault champion, 2015 Secret Classic balance beam champion, 2015 national All Around, vault, uneven bars and floor exercise silver medalist, Japan International All Around silver medalist and vault and beam bronze medalist.
During this quad, very few people have impressed me as much as Jazzy did because very few people have shown such incredible progress in such a small amount of time. In the beginning of the quad, Jazzy decided to move to MG elite because she wanted to be like Laurie Hernandez, who was training there. She earned the status of an international elite in 2013 and she competed at the American Classic, where she finished 17th in the All Around and she attended the Secret Classic, where she finished 26th in the All Around, without managing to qualify to nationals. Neither her results, nor her skill level, her execution and her consistency indicated that she would eventually become competitive and during that time, nobody paid much attention to her. In fact, most of the focus seemed to be on her teammates, Laurie Hernandez and Ariana Agrapides, who both became national champions later that year. One year later, Jazzy competed at the American Classic again, but this time, she actually ended up winning the All Around, the vault and the uneven bars titles. Then, she competed at the second Secret Classic of her career, showing a ridiculous number of upgrades on every event and she finished 5th in the All Around with a fall while also winning a bronze medal on vault. The numbers say it all. In 2013, her start values were 5.0 + 4.9 + 5.1 +4.1. In 2014, her start values were 5.8 + 5.9 + 5.5 + 5.8. We are usually impressed when an athlete manages to add 0.5 into their routines between a year, so the fact that she upped her start value on bars by a full point is absolutely insane. And Jazzy didn’t just throw huge skills she wasn’t capable of performing cleanly. In fact, her execution and her constituency improved just as much as her difficulty. During nationals, she hit every single routine she performed, she showed beautiful form and she stunned the world by winning the national All Around title, over top contenders Nia Dennis and Norah Flatley. This surprising gold medal was not just pure luck, and Jazzy proved that by achieving excellent results in 2015. She continued to upgrade her routines, and she won a gold medal on vault at the Jesolo Trophy, where she also tied for third into the All Around, she won four medals, including a beam gold and an All Around bronze at the Secret Classic and she was amazing at nationals, where she won four silver medals, finishing only 0.1 behind her teammate Laurie Hernandez in the All Around. She finished her year in a high note by winning one silver and two bronze medals at the junior japan international and now she’s read to make her transition to the senior ranks. Jazzy is a balanced All Arounder, with good difficulty and clean execution on every event and I am very excited to see what she can do. She is one of the gymnasts I could potentially imagine doing an amanar. We don’t know if she’s currently training that skill, but she has express the desire to learn it in the past. She has a strong bars set, with a great variety of skills and she is an excellent tumbler, capable of tumbling passes that even her senior teammates would kill for. In the past, she has struggled with staying in bounds, so this is something she needs to work on. She doesn’t have a huge start value on beam, but she is very consistent on this event, and now that she has gained some confidence, I could see her upgrading her routine. She will obviously need to increase her difficulty in order to be competitive against the seniors, but she has shown a crazy amount of upgrades in just a year in the past, so maybe she can do it again.
start values: 5.8 + 5.8 + 5.4 + 5.5
notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, van leeuwen, ricna, maloney and full in dismount on bars, side aerial, front aerial, switch half and double tuck dismount on beam, double arabian + stag, two whips + double tuck, 2.5 twists and double pike on floor
notable achievements: 5th All Around and 1st on vault and floor at the 2015 American Classic, 6th on bars at the 2014 Secret Classic
As a child, Margzetta played soccer in addition to doing gymnastics, but she kept flipping down the soccer field, so her parents decided to stick with gymnastics and the sport has been her whole life ever since. When she started her elite career back in 2014, she was representing Parkettes and she was training alongside Elizabeth Price, who was one of her idols. As she said during this interview, Elizabeth told her that if you want to be successful in gymnastics you need to love the sport with all your heart and this advice has stuck with her since then. Under the guidance of coaches Bill and Donna Strauss, she placed 19th in the All Around and 4th on bars at the 2014 American Classic and she made it into her first Secret Classic, where she had a solid competition, finishing 15th in the All Around and tying for 6th on the uneven bars. She made it to nationals, but she had a couple of mistakes on the uneven bars and she ended up finishing 28th in the All Around. In 2015, she competed at the American Classic and this time she achieved much better results, finishing 5th in the All Around and first on vault and floor. A while later, she left Parkettes and started training at Atlantic Coast. A small injury kept her away from Secret Classic, but she was ready for the national championships, where she unfortunately had mistakes on bars and beam and finished 19th in the All Around. Unfortunately, her transition to the senior ranks has been a hard one, even before the competition season begins. She had to switch gyms once again, after a coach at Atlantic Coach apparently made several inappropriate and hurtful comments to her and her sisters and did not seem to be supportive of her elite career. Leaving such a toxic environment is obviously a good choice for any gymnast, and it looks like she’s currently training at First State gymnastics, alongside junior elite Morgan Hurd. First State gymnastics seems to focus a lot on flexibility, clean execution and artistry and I certainly think that it can be a great gym for Margzetta, who has plenty of power and explosiveness but needs to polish up a little bit. She will need major upgrades in order to be competitive against the seniors, but she certainly is a worth watching gymnast and I’m excited to see what she can do, especially on bars and floor. In the past, she has trained a jaeger and church, a bhs + tucked full, a church + pak, a stalder full + ray, a full in, a stalder full + ray + pak, a split jump + front tuck + sissone, a triple twist, a 2.5 wolf turn, two whips into a triple twist and a double layout, so it would be great to see at least some of those skills in competition. She has committed to UCLA and I’m really excited to see her performing in college. She really seems like the kind of gymnast who would shine in NCAA and I’m sure she will rock Miss Val’s choreography. On an unrelated note, Margzetta has many talents and in addition to being a great gymnast, she’s also a great singer with a beautiful voice (x x x x)
start values: 5.8 + 6.1 + 5.8 + 6.0
notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, downie, ricna + pak and endo 1/2 on bars, front tuck, switch ring, switch leap + switch half, sheep jump and double tuck on beam, double arabian + stag, front layout + double front twist + front tuck and switch ring half on floor
notable achievements: four times Jesolo Trophy gold medalist, 2013 Secret Classic floor exercise champion, 2015 Secret Classic All Around, vault and uneven bars champion, 2013 national All Around, uneven bars and floor exercise silver medalist, 2013 Japan International All Around silver medalist, 2015 national All Around and uneven bars champion, 2015 Junior Japan International All Around, vault and floor exercise champion
Back in 2012, a tiny and unknown Laurie Hernandez earned the status of an International Elite and was set to compete at her first Secret Classic. Nobody really knew who she was, and with the seniors fighting for a ticket to London and juniors like Katelyn Ohashi, Lexie Priessman and Maddie Desch throwing crazy skills, nobody really paid much attention to her before the competition begun. And then, her floor music started playing, Laurie started dancing and suddenly, all eyes were on her. She had so much style, energy, artistry and personality that it was simply impossible not to watch her and it only took her one and a half minute to make the entire world fall in love. During that competition, she placed on the top 10 on both beam and floor and she qualified into nationals in her first year as an elite. Unfortunately, things didn’t really go her way there, since she had multiple major mistakes and placed 21st in the All Around. She immediately became a fan favorite, but it was clear that her start values were really low and she would have a lot of work to do before even thinking about being competitive. The most optimistic fans saw her as someone who could be a contender for the national team in a few years, but nobody predicted the incredible success she would have in 2013. And yet, in her second year as an elite, Laurie looked like a completely different gymnast. She revealed a ridiculous amount of upgrades on every single event, she increased her start values by a crazy margin and she also cleaned up her execution and improved her consistency without ever losing her artistry and her sparkle. The tiny, unpolished and inconsistent girl we all fell in love with in 2012 was now a world class gymnast, who knew how to handle the pressure. She really was brilliant during the entire season. She started with medals at small competitions like the Parkettes qualifier and the American Classic. Then, she showed massive potential at the Secret Classic, where she won the floor exercise title and finished 6th in the All Around despite having mistakes on bars and beam. She worked on her consistency in the next couple of weeks and she looked absolutely fabulous at nationals, finishing second in the All Around, right behind Bailie Key while also grabbing silver medals on bars and floor and a bronze on beam. Laurie went from being 21st in the country to becoming a national silver medalist in just one year and her progress was really remarkable. She also shined in the international level, winning a bronze and a silver medal in the all Around at the Mexico Open and the Japan Junior International. Everyone was beyond impressed with her achievements and she was expected to dominate junior competitions after Bailie Key turned senior in 2014. However, a wrist injury prevented her from attending camps and competing at the beginning of the year. She had to miss the Jesolo Trophy but she was expected to be back for Classic and Nationals. Unfortunately, this never happened since she ended up injuring her knee and missing the entire season. At that point, people started to worry. Had Laurie burned out? Were all her upgrades too much for her body? Would she be able to recover from two major injuries? And if she did, would she even stay healthy long enough to regain her difficulty? Well, thankfully the answer to the last two questions was positive and when Laurie returned to competition at the 2015 Jesolo Trophy, it was impossible to guess that she had just recovered from injuries. She actually won the All Around, the uneven bars and the floor exercise titles, showing that she was back and it was her time to shine. She attended four major competitions during the year and she won the All Around title on every single one of them. She also won a medal on each and every event at the Secret Classic, the national championships and the Japan International, establishing herself as the best junior in the world. She came back from two injuries to have the most successful year she could possibly have but of course, being an accomplished junior and being an accomplished senior are two completely different things and now, Laurie, who has committed to the University of Florida, has to prove herself all over again. She will need major upgrades in order to be considered for a ticket to Rio, but I have faith in her. Her 2015 start values are obviously not going to be enough for her to make it, but we need to remember that she was just coming back from injuries during that year and her main focus was to regain her old skills and not to upgrade her routines. Now she is healthy and she’s fighting for a spot in the Olympic team, so it’s safe to assume that she’s already trying to increase her difficulty. She has said that she is not training an amanar, which is probably a wise choice, but I expect to see new skills from her on the other three events. After all, MG elite is known for pulling major upgrades out of nowhere and Hernandez has great basics. Her bars are incredibly promising, her beam is very consistent and her tumbling is extremely clean so she shouldn’t have trouble upgrading and I could see her having team finals worthy routines on those events. It’s needless to say that there will be plenty of other gymnasts with world class routines on those events and it will be hard for Laurie (or for anyone else really) to make it, but I really think she is a unique gymnast, who could leave her mark in the sport and I hope she gets to live up to her potential. She’s certainly my favorite American currently competing, and if things don’t work out for her this year, I would love to see her continuing during the next quad. She’s just too talented to never make it big.
start values: 5.8 + 5.4 + 6.0 + 5.8
notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, jaeger, tkatcev and full twisting double layout on bars, front tuck, switch leap + switch half, side somi, switch ring and 2.5 twists in combination on beam, dos santos, full in and 1.5 + 2.5 on floor
notable achievements: 6th All Around and 5th on floor at nationals, 5th on beam at Secret Classic
Sydney Johnson – Scharpf is one of the new seniors I’m most excited to watch this year. She is the daughter of Olympian Brandy Johnson, she is coached by her mother at her own gym and she has committed to the University of Florida. She started making a name for herself in a very similar way to Laurie. She entered the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup as a tiny and unknown athlete, but when she took the floor, the entire world fell in love. She just had this special something that commanded everyone’s attention. She could light up the entire arena with her eyes and she made the judges and the audience melt with her smile. She only placed 23rd in the All Around, she didn’t come anywhere near making the podium and yet, NBC chose to broadcast clips of her floor routine during the American Cup because she had stolen the show. She immediately became a fan favorite and fans from all over the world were beyond excited when she became an elite that same year and set rather unrealistic expectations from her. Unsurprisingly, she didn’t really live up to the hype, and even though she achieved some impressive results, including 8th place finishes on balance beam and floor exercise at the Secret Classic and a 9th place finish on floor at nationals, she had lots of falls and mistakes that prevented her from being competitive in the All Around. Her bars certainly were her main problem, since she didn’t have a high start value and she had trouble hitting her routine on that event. She continued to struggle in 2014, when she finished 31st in the All Around at Classics and 25th at nationals, and even though her 7th place finish on beam at Secret Classic was a great achievement, people started to wonder if she would actually be able to be competitive. And just when people started to count her out, Sydney finally did it! She showed major upgrades, like a double twisting yurchenko on vault and a Dos Santos on floor, and she started her year with a solid competition at the Secret Classic, where she achieved her highest ever finishes on the All Around and the balance beam, by placing 9th and 5th respectively and then, she competed at the national championships, where she had major mistakes on beam, but delivered beautiful routines on the other events. During that competition, she was dealing with a hematoma, but even though her leg was looking like that, she still decided to compete, and she kept going even after her mother and coach told her that maybe she should stop. At the end of the day, she was rewarded her her determination and she finished 6th in the All Around, earning a spot in the junior national team. Making that team was one of her biggest dreams and goals, she almost started crying when she saw she made it and she still remembers that day as one of the best ones of her life. Sydney is one of the best juniors in the world. She’s capable of skills we rarely see from gymnasts of her age, like a full twisting double layout on bars and a Dos Santos on floor and she shows incredible artistry and performance quality. She was named after the city that hosted the 2000 Olympics and her mom is a former Olympian. It’s clear that the Olympic Games have always been something important for her and her family but of course, that doesn’t mean she will actually make it. There is so much talent, so much depth in the USA and even though she is obviously very talented, it will be hard for her (or for everyone else) to even make it to Trials, let alone get a ticket to Rio. However, it’s not over until it’s over, and Sydney is not going down without a fight. She’s currently working hard on upgrading her routines, and she has been working on a upgrades, including a chow, a tkatcev + pak and a double double dismount on bars, and a double layout and a silivas on floor, so we can expect some exciting stuff from her. If she could put those two tumbling passes in the same routine with her Dos Santos, she would certainly be hard to ignore on this event. I don’t know if she will ever make it to the Olympics, but what I know is that she will bring some sparkle into the competition and she will steal the hearts of fans from all over the world with her performance.
start values: 5.0 + 5.6 + 6.1 (potential 6.3 with her front aerial + sheep jump) + 5.5
notable skills: full twisting yurchenko on vault, stalder full + chow + pak, maloney, jaeger and double arabian dismount on bars, standing arabian, side aerial + loso + loso, switch leap + switch half and 2.5 twists on beam, triple twist, double wolf turn and 1.5 + 2.5 on floor.
notable achievements: Hopes All Around champion, 5th on bars at Secret Classic, 6th on bars and 10th All Around at nationals
Abby is a fantastic bars and beam worker who trains at Twin City Twisters. She started showing great potential in 2012, when she won the All Around title of the Hopes Division of the Secret Classic, while also placing 2nd on beam and bars and 3rd on floor. A year later she competed at the American Classic, placing 7th in the All Around, 5th on beam and 3rd on floor and qualifying into the Secret Classic, where she finished 17th in the All Around. Then, she participated in her first national championships. A rough balance beam routine during the first day of competition hurt her All Around chances, but she managed to place 10th on the uneven bars. She improved her All Around results in 2014, placing 14th at Classics and 10th at nationals, where she had an excellent competition, finishing 6th on balance beam and 8th on the uneven bars and floor exercise. She continued to do well in 2015, when she was 11th All Around and 5th on bars at Classics and 10th All Around, 6th on bars and 8th on floor at nationals. Abby is a lovely gymnast, with excellent flexibility, pretty lines and toe point, beautiful choreography and clean twisting form but what I love the most about her is the fact that she performs one of my all time favorite combinations on beam: a side aerial into two layout step outs. This is the highlight of a ridiculously difficult routine, that could have definitely challenged for the national title last year. She is also a joy to watch on the uneven bars, where she shows fluid swing and great form and amplitude during her flight elements before dismounting with a double arabian, which is a dismount we don’t see from many American gymnasts. Her current routine really seems easy for her, so I certainly expect to see some upgrades on this event. She is already working on a van leeuwen, as well as a double twisting yurchenko on vault and a tucked full in on floor. The problem is that she’s a bit inconsistent, especially on beam and that prevents her from winning medals. I hope to see her working on that and being successful during 2016. She comes from Maggie Nichols’ gym, and I would love to see her surprising us all with her progress like her teammate did.
Abby was featured on gymnastike’s off the mat
(gif credit: huanghuidan)
start values: 5.8 + 4.9 + 5.6 + 6.0 (5.7 at nationals, where she hadn’t regained her full twisting double layout after her injury)
notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, tkatcev, bail and double layout on bars, standing arabian, front tuck, side somi and double pike dismount on beam, full twisting double layout (before her injury), double layout, tucked full in and 1.5 + double tuck on floor
notable achievements: 2014 national vault silver medalist, 2014 Secret classic floor bronze medalist, 2015 Jesolo Trophy champion (team)
Olivia is a powerful and dynamic gymnast, who has committed to the University of Oklahoma and trains at Twin City Twisters alongside world champion Maggie Nichols. She became an international elite in 2014 and she had a solid competition at her first Secret Classic. She only placed 27th in the All Around because her low start value on bars was holding her back, but she hit all her routines and she finished 9th on balance beam and tied for bronze on floor exercise. A few weeks later, she had another strong meet at the national championships, where she hit all 8 routines she performed, placing 14th in the All Around, 10th on floor and 2nd on vault, where she showed much improved execution. This means that she didn’t miss a single routine during her very first year as an elite and this was certainly an impressive achievement. Olivia was added to the national team in the beginning of 2015 and she was selected to compete at the Jesolo Trophy. There, she had a solid competition helping her team win a gold medal and placed 6th in the All Around. She also made it in the top 8 on vault, but she didn’t get to compete at the event finals due to the two per country rule. This strong performance impressed many fans, who had high expectations from Olivia, but shortly after she returned from Italy, she injured her shoulder and she had to miss some training camps and the Secret Classic (x). She had already qualified to nationals and she recovered in time to compete there, but it was clear that her injury was still giving her some trouble. She decided not to compete on bars, so she was not in contention for the All Around, she had a fall on beam, she did not compete her full twisting double layout and she didn’t seem to be in the great shape she was in Jesolo. Of course, this is understandable for an athlete coming back from an injury and hopefully, Olivia is now healthy and ready to show us what she can do. The uneven bars are certainly her weakest apparatus, in terms of both difficulty and execution, so I don’t expect to ever see huge scores from her there, but she is promising on the other three events. There’s room for improvement on her execution, but she always get her double twisting yurchenko all the way around and she has difficult and powerful tumbling on floor. She also has some impressive skills on beam, and if she manages to add a couple of more combinations, she will have a world class start value on this event. I’m excited to see what she can do in 2016, and it will also be interesting to see what she can do after that. She is still very young, and after 2016, she’ll still have a couple of years before going to college and I would love to see her sticking with elite and making a name for herself. After all, her teammate, Maggie Nichols made it big at the age of 18, so Olivia should not be counted out yet.
You can see Olivia training a double arabian here
start values: 5.8+ 5.3 + 5.8 + 5.7
notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, endo 1/2, stalder full + tkatcev and full twisting double tuck on bars, double wolf turn, front tuck + wolf jump, sheep jump and double pike dismount on beam. tucked full in, 1.5 + double tuck, double pike and double front twist on floor
notable achievements: 6th on floor and 9th in the All around at the national championships, Secret Classic bronze medalist on vault
Back in 2010, a 10-years-old Grace Quinn told us that she wants to go to the Olympics because it’s fun to be out there with all those people watching you, and it’s cool. (x) Three years later, she became an international elite and she competed at the Secret Classic, where she finished 12th in the All Around and 9th on balance beam, earning the qualifying scores for nationals. There, she had some trouble on balance beam, but she was solid on the other events and placed 9th in the All Around and 7th on floor exercise. It was clear that she had a long way to go, but she showed good basics, clean lines and good execution, and she was still young, so she had plenty of time to upgrade her routines. She unfortunately struggled with injuries during 2014, and she could only compete two events at Secret Classic but she had solid performances on both of them, finishing 9th on beam and 15th on floor. She performed on the same two events at nationals, and she hit her routines once again, placing 14th and 17th. She was healthy enough to start competing on all four events again, and she did All Around at the Secret Classic, but major mistakes on bars and beam prevented her from posting a good All Around total and she only tied for 26th. However, she posted the third highest score on vault, after debuting her double twisting yurchenko and she made the podium for the first time in her career, so she had something to celebrate leaving the competition. This gave her confidence going into nationals, and even though she had a couple of mistakes, she managed to post some big scores and to finish 9th in the All Around, 7th on vault and 6th on floor. Grace is a beautiful gymnast with very respectable start values on three events and last year, she would definitely be competitive against some of the world’s best juniors. I personally believe that if she had stayed healthy throughout her entire career she would have been a strong contender for the national team last year and she would have high difficulty scores, but unfortunately her injuries slowed down her progress and now she has lots of catching up to do. She is promising on every event and she is a solid All Arounder. Her start value on bars is a bit low, but she has lots of skills on this event and she could easily gain a couple of tenths by adding more combinations. In the past, she has competed an 1.5 + triple full on floor so I would love to see that tumbling pass back. I’m not sure if she has enough time to upgrade her routines before her senior debut, but she’s a lovely gymnast, with a pretty double twisting yurchenko on vault, good flexibility and clean form, so I’m excited to see what she can do.
start values: 5.8 + 5.6 + 6.5 + 6.1
notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, ricna, jaeger and full in dismount on bars, standing piked full, bhs + layout, switch ring and double pike in combination on beam, Double layout, double arabian and 1.5 + triple twist on floor
notable achievements: 2014 national beam and floor silver medalist, 2014 floor exercise champion, 2015 Jesolo Trophy vault bronze medalist and floor exercise silver medalist, 2015 Secret Classic floor exercise champion and All Around silver medalist, national All Around bronze medalist and beam and floor champion.
Ragan Smith, who has committed to the University of Oklahoma, is another name that most people should be familiar with by now. After winning one bronze, one gold and two silver medals at Hopes in 2012, she started her journey in elite gymnastics in 2013 and she immediately stole our hearts with her tiny size and cute floor choreography. Back then, she was training with the legendary Yelena Piskun, and even though she was a bit unpolished and untidy, she clearly was a promising athlete, with plenty of power and talent. During her first year as an elite, Ragan placed 6th on beam and 23rd in the All Around at Secret Classic and 17th in the All Around and 10th on floor at nationals. A few months later, she left NorthWind and she went from one legend to another, since she started training with Kim Zmeskal at Texas Dreams. She was soon added to the national team and she traveled to Jesolo for her first
international assignment in 2014. She didn’t have a perfect competition, but she helped her team win a gold medal and she placed 8th in the All Around, showing good potential for the future. Then, she competed at the Secret Classic for the second time during her career, and she won the gold medal on floor and she finished her year with silver medals on beam and floor at the national championships. She had progressed a lot during the year, but she was still struggling with consistency, especially on the uneven bars, where she only hit 1 out of the 4 routines she competed during the year. This was a big issue for her but it was clear that once she worked on it, she would be one of the country’s best and she did exactly that in 2015. Ragan proved that she is one to watch before the competition season even begun, by showing multiple upgrades during the national training camp and she easily made the Jesolo team. There, she once again had some trouble with bars, but she managed to win a bronze on vault and a silver on floor, while also posting a very respectable 56.100, which was the highest All Around total of her career so far. She was even more impressive at the Secret Classic, where she hit four solid routines to win an All Around silver medal, defeating national All Around champion Jazzy Foberg. She also won the floor title with a massive 15.0 and she placed 3rd on vault. After this amazing success, she was expected to shine at the national championships and she did not disappoint, since she won a bronze medal in the All Around and two gold ones on beam and floor, while also earning a spot to the junior national team once again. She was selected to represent USA at the Top Gym tournament, but she unfortunately never got to compete there, since her country pulled out of the competition. At the age of 15, Ragan is already capable of skills that many senior athletes would kill for and she is already team finals worthy on two events. She would need major upgrades in order to be competitive in the All Around, but I definitely see her a strong beam and floor specialist, who could challenge some of the seniors on those events. Balance beam is an event where USA hasn’t posted massive scores during the last two world championships and Ragan is absolutely phenomenal there, so she could potentially help the team there. There is certainly room for upgrades in her bars set. She is already performing an inbar stalder, and she could increase her start value by learning more variations of those skills and connecting her ricna to her pak salto, but I don’t think that this is an event where she could potentially be top 5 in the country. In the past, she has trained a beautiful Dos Santos on floor and a patterson dismount on beam and she is certainly capable of upgrading her routines, so I expect her to be in the mix this year.
start values: 5.8 + 5.3 + 5.5 (but she had a 5.9 routine in 2014) + 5.9
notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, maloney + pak, jaeger and double layout dismount on bars, front aerial + wolf jump, side aerial and double pike in combination on beam, double arabian + sissone, tucked full in, 1.5 step out + double tuck and L turn + memmel on floor
notable achievements: 2015 national vault bronze medalist, 6th All Around at the 2014 national championships, 4th on beam at the 2014 Secret Classic, Jesolo Trophy and Mexican Open champion (team)
There is no doubt that Emily Gaskins is one of the most beautiful gymnasts USA has produced during the quad. She’s so graceful, so elegant and when she takes the floor it’s impossible not to watch. Those were the qualities that immediately made her a fan favorite when she started her journey in elite gymnastics back in 2013. In order to do that, she took the brave decision to move away from home in order to train at CGA, with Mary Lee Tracey. She said that this decision was very tough and she really missed her family and especially her dog, but at the end of the day, she knew that you need to make sacrifices in order to be a great elite gymnast and she thought that it was worth it (x). She competed at the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup, where she tied for 19th in the All Around and then, she won an All Around silver medal at the Level 10 nationals, she placed 6th All Around and 5th on bars at the American Classic, and then, she participated in her first Secret Classic, where she finished 9th in the All Around and 5th on floor exercise. She finished her year with a good competition, that helped her finish 10th in the All Around at nationals. At the end of that year, she was added to the Junior National team and she made her international debut at the Mexican Open, where she helped her team win a gold medal. She started her 2014 with another international competition. This time, she competed at the Jesolo Trophy and she won a gold medal with her team while also placing 5th in the All Around and 8th on floor. She continued being successful at the national competitions, placing 4th on beam and 7th on vault at the Secret Classic and 5th on vault and beam and 6th in the All Around and on floor exercise at the P & G championships, where she earned a spot to the junior national team. It looked like her career was really coming together, but later that year, she unexpectedly decided to leave CGA and move back to Intensity gymnastics in Florida. A few weeks after that, it was announced that she ended up training at Palm Beach Gymnastics, with the legendary Steve Nunno, who had coached the best gymnast America had ever produced, Shannon Miller. Those news were certainly surprising, since Nunno had not coached an elite athlete in a long time and gymnastics fans from all over the world were curious to see how would Emily do under his guidance. Nunno described her as a hard working and ambitious gymnast, who was a joy to coach and he talked about her potential upgrades. Unfortunately, when Gaskins competed at the Secret Classic, she didn’t seem to be in great shape and she only placed 17th in the All Around. She looked better at nationals, where she placed 12th in the All Around and earned her first top 3 finish, by placing 3rd on vault, but her performance was not enough for her to make the junior national team. Of course, any gymnast would need some time to adjust to a gym change, so Emily’s struggle was understandable. However she will need to show major improvements in order to be competitive against the seniors. She really is a gorgeous gymnast, with lovely lines, flexibility and toe point and fantastic artistry. She has the best body posture and carriage in the American team and she’s capable of the prettiest memmel you will ever see. She can dance, she can tumble and she can perform. She really is a delight to watch! However none of those qualities are going to win her medals. In order to do that, she will also need difficult elements, intricate combinations and competitive start values, so we can only hope that she will upgrade her routines. She certainly was competitive as a junior. She has a strong double twisting yurchenko and has certainly shown great potential on beam and floor, so I can definitely see her posting world class scores. If she brings back her switch ring and her sheep jump , and she adds a couple of combinations on beam, she could easily have a 6 + start value on this event. I also hope to see her getting new choreography on floor and to bring back her gorgeous mount on balance beam because after all, her artistry is what makes her stand out. Emily has chosen to train with Mary Lee Tracey and Steve Nunno, who are known as two of the toughest coaches in America, so I’m sure she is ambitious, hard working and determined to succeed and I hope that her hard work will pay off this year. I don’t know if she will be a contender for the Olympic team but I do know that she will bring some beauty and elegance to the American team in 2016 and I can’t wait to watch her perform.
You can find an interview with Emily here
start values: 5.8 + 5.7 + 6.7 + 5.9
notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, inbar 1/2, endo, front giant 1/1 + jaeger and double layout on bars, two back handsprings + layout, switch ring, front aerial + sheep jump, wolf jump + front tuck + sissone + split jump and 2.5 dismount in combination on beam, whip + triple, double pike, double tuck, double front full and double L + L turn on floor
notable achievements: two times Jesolo balance beam champion, Jesolo All Around silver and bronze medalist, Pacific Rim beam champion, Secret Classic beam champion and All Around bronze medalist, national All Around bronze medalist and uneven bars silver medalist.
The lovely Norah Flatley, who trains at Chow’s gymnastics and dance academy, has been in the radar of gymnastics fans since the age of 12. In fact, she started getting attention before she even became an elite athlete, thanks to the incredible beam work and flexibility she showed as a level 10. It’s hard to believe that this tiny little girl we all fell in love with in 2012 is already a senior, who has committed to UCLA and will be fighting for a ticket to Rio, but this is the case right now. In 2013, she competed at the Parkettes Elite Qualifier, where she placed 2nd in the All Around and 1st on balance beam, while also earning the status of an international elite. She started being successful from her very first elite competition, since she placed 1st on balance beam and 4th in the All Around and the uneven bars at her first Secret Classic and 5th in the All Around and 2nd on balance beam at the national championships, making it into the junior national team in her first year as an elite. She made her international debut in 2014, when she competed at the Jesolo Trophy. There, she placed third in the All Around and first on balance beam, while also helping her team win the gold medal. A couple of weeks later, she competed at the Pacific Rim championships, where she won two gold medals (team, beam). She also placed third in the All Around but she didn’t receive a medal due to the two per country rule. After gaining some international experience, Norah had a strong performance at the Secret Classic, winning bronze on the uneven bars and the All Around and gold on beam and then, she earned a bronze medal in the All Around and a silver on the uneven bars at the national championships. During that competition, she actually had surprising falls on balance beam during both days, but she still managed to finish 4th on this event, thanks to her amazing difficulty and form and she made the national team once again. She competed at the Jesolo Trophy for the second time in her career in 2015, winning gold with her team, silver in the All Around and the uneven bars and gold on balance beam but unfortunately, this was the first and the last competition of the year for her, since an injury prevented her from competing at Classics and Nationals. Because of that, wee haven’t seen her competing for about a year but we do know that she has now recovered from her injuries, that she has been attending the national training camps and that she’s working on exciting upgrades, like a GORGEOUS layout full on beam and an endo full + jaeger on bars. Norah has competed a double twisting yurchenko on vault in the past, and I could see her getting a 6 + start value on floor by performing twisting combinations. However, the events that could help her fight for a spot on that Olympic team are certainly bars and beam. She had a beam set that could fight for world medals since the age of 14. The level of difficulty, the execution, the amplitude, the flexibility and the artistry she shows throughout her routine are absolutely superb and she can definitely be one of the best beam workers not just of her country, but of the entire world. Her bars are not quite as impressive yet but she has tons of potential. She’s capable of lovely L grip work, and once she manages to connect the skills she already has, she will have a strong start value. Of course, USA has tons of incredible gymnasts and it’s hard to predict her chances before seeing her actual routines, but I think Norah has the potential to be a strong bars and beam specialist, who will be in the mix next year and I certainly hope to see her being successful.
All photos are by John Cheng for USA gymnastics
gif credit: sparklesandchalk