For the US Senior women, this past weekend marked the beginning of the last mile on their road to Rio, with everyone trying to convince Marta Karolyi and the selection committee they should be the ones on the team. However, for some, the dream ended before it even began when Bailie Key, Norah Flatley and Jazmyn Foberg withdrew from the competition due to injuries that prevented them from being in their best shape. For the rest, this was a strong competition with some incredible performances, showing that the puzzle for the Olympic Team is finally coming together.
In first place after the two days of competition was, unsurprisingly, three-time World AA Champion Simone Biles, winning her fourth AA National title. Starting off on beam, Biles hit her routine confidently, including a barani, a BHS to LOSO to LOSO series and a full-in dismount with just a hop on landing, for a score in the high-15s. Moving on to her favorite event, floor, she posted the highest score of the day with a 16.1 after a very entertainment performance and amazing tumbling, including stuck landings on her third and fourth passes, a double double and a full-in, respectively. Next on vault, Biles once again scored a 16, this time for her Amanar with a small hop forward, while her second vault, a Cheng, got a score just half a tenth lower. Finishing on bars, her “weakest event” if you can call weak to an event where you have a 6.2-difficulty routine and score around 15, she had a very clean and solid routine capped off with a stuck full-in dismount, for a final AA score of nearly 63. Day two started on floor with another amazing routine that scored again in the 16, followed by vault where Biles posted the highest score of the whole competition with a 16.2 for her Amanar after receiving a 9.9 for her execution, while her Cheng scored in the high-15s. Right next on bars, she posted her lowest score of the competition after a small mistake on her Weiler kip, while on beam she had “the worst routine all week” in her own words, with a big wobble on her LOSO series and a step on her full-in dismount, still scoring in the low-15s. Aside from AA Gold, Simone also won Gold on vault, beam and floor and, obviously made the National Team and qualified to the Olympic Trials.
Taking AA Silver was “grandma” Aly Raisman after hit routines on all events on both days. Her Amanar still isn’t great but it was enough for scores in the low to mid-15s both days, while bars were Aly’s bars, which means leg separation and flexed feet but she managed to score exactly the same score (14.150) on both days so at least there’s consistency. On beam, she was aggressive and confident and received credit for most of her connections, finishing off with an amazing Patterson dismount that she actually stuck on day one, for scores in the low-15s. Finally floor was awesome as usual, with her incredible first pass (1.5 to double arabian to front layout) and generally great tumbling, even if her dance elements aren’t exactly perfect. In addition to AA Silver, Raisman also took Silver on floor and beam and is looking more and more like a lock for her second Olympic Team.
In Bronze position was first year Senior and 2015 Junior National Champion Laurie Hernandez after behind tied with Aly Raisman for second place at the end of day one. On vault, Hernandez performed a beautiful and clean DTY, making up for her slightly lower difficulty with amazing execution, for scores around 15. Next on bars, her routine can be a bit repetitive with three Tkachev skills (straddle Tkachev, Downie and Ricna) but it has high difficulty and she performs it cleanly for scores in the low-15s, placing just behind the two bars specialists Kocian and Locklear. Beam was also very solid and consistent with 15.3 on both days for a routine that included a front pike, a BHS to LOSO to LOSO series, a switch ring and a double pike dismount that she landed a bit low, while floor scored a bit lower in the high-14s but still included amazing tumbling, such as a double layout and a double arabian to stag, as well as her characteristic sassy choreography, which got her the Bronze medal on the event. Besides Bronze in the All-Around, Laurie also won Bronze on bars, beam and floor, making the AA, beam and floor podiums basically all equal.
In fourth position, after some issues on bars and beam, was reigning Olympic Champion Gabby Douglas. Her DTY on vault was good and consistent, while bars were solid on day one but included a big mistake on her Endo on day two, bringing her score down by over half a point. Beam was also marred by similar problems on day one with wobbles on her switch leap, L turn and switch ring but she came back on day two for some angry beam revenge improving her score by nearly eighth tenths. Finally on floor, Douglas performed generally solid routines with just an out-of-bounds deduction on her full-in to back tuck on day one, scoring in the mid to high-14s.
Bars specialist Madison Kocian managed to finish in fifth place all-around despite not being completely recovered from a tibia fracture and competing downgraded routines, such as just a FTY on vault. Bars was her best event and is her way into the Olympic team, but she still managed decent scores on beam and floor and could be used on these events if needed.
Rounding-up the top 8 and automatically qualifying to Olympic Trials were Amelia Hundley in sixth place after the most amazing competition of her career hitting every routine on both days, 2014 Worlds Team member Alyssa Baumman in seventh after some trouble on bars and floor, and Ragan Smith in eighth after subpar performances on beam and floor on day one and a fall on bars on day two. Aside from these gymnasts, seven more were invited for the National Team and the Olympic Trials: Rachel Gowey, MyKayla Skinner, Brenna Dowell, Christina Desiderio, Emily Schild, Maggie Nichols and Ashton Locklear, for a complete field of 15 gymnasts.
As for the event medalists, as the only two people vaulting two different vaults (and actually the same vaults: Amanar and Cheng) Simone Biles and MyKayla Skinner once again shared the vault podium, with Biles winning the Gold and Skinner the Silver. On bars, Ashton Locklear took the Gold, while Madison Kocian took the Silver less than two tenths behind her, and Laurie Hernandez took the Bronze. The beam and floor podiums were very similar with Simone Biles winning the Gold, Aly Raisman taking the Silver and Laurie Hernandez taking the Bronze, with MyKayla Skinner tying for third place on floor.
The US Senior Nationals showed once again how strong the US team is with three girls scoring above 60 in the All-Around and many scores above 15 on multiple events, even with some domestic over-scoring in place. Now it’s time to prepare for the final Olympic selection competition taking place in less than 10 days in San Jose, California where we will find out who are the five gymnasts chosen to represent the reigning Olympic and World Champions in Rio.
Full results here.