Familiar Faces of the Secret U.S. Classic – How did they do?
As a follow up to the preview of those you might have recognized at the Secret U.S. Classic, here’s a recap of how they did!
Sabrina Vega – 2011 World Championships gold medalist Sabrina Vega competed on Saturday after almost three years out during which no one had any real clue of what or how she was doing. She limited her competition to beam and floor and her performance can be summed up as a good start. Sabrina competed a 5.6 floor routine that included lower skill level tumbling passes such as a double full, but her lines and musicality called upon the Sabrina Vega of yore. Sabrina struggled on her last tumbling pass placed her hands on the floor so her endurance needs work. Sabrina’s 5.6 difficulty beam routine did not have any major errors but she had extremely bent knees and flexed feet on her back handspring layout step out layout step out. Her low execution score reflected these and other small errors. Sabrina did not meet the two event score to qualify to P&G Championships; however, she might have already qualified at camp or could petition to nationals.
Brenna Dowell – Sabrina’s training partner and Oklahoma bar star Brenna Dowell returned to elite after only a semester of college and not even a full year off from elite but clearly had a difficult getting back into elite shape. She missed her foot on her double back dismount on beam, which resulted in a very scary fall. Brenna also failed to grab the high bar with both hands on transition much more simple than most in her routines. Errors aside, Brenna performed pretty well and performed exciting and dynamic bars connections, such as her Church – Pak – Van Leeuwen and her signature Tweddle to Ezhova. The Secret U.S. Classic provided Brenna and her coaches with a more clear idea of where her skills are in a competition setting as well as a list of things to work on for the national championships.
Aly Raisman – How do I even begin to describe Aly Raisman? Aly Raisman is flawless. Expect for barely pulling around her piked double Arabian punch front tuck and putting her hands down. And bars. Always bars. But other than that Aly is flawless. The front tuck out of a Dos Santos will be the coolest thing in the world, once she can land it well and consistently. Aly appeared extremely winded following her floor routine and in the next few weeks until P&G’s, Mihai will most likely chase her around the gym with his vacuum to increase her stamina. Aly’s knees remain wonky during her Amanar but she has time to fix that. Additionally, Aly’s bars have either improved or the concept that Aly Raisman struggles on bars permeates gymnastics fans’ minds so thoroughly that when she does not perform hideous mill circles with flexed feet followed by casts to 30 degrees and a sheep position Pak salto, fans believe she must have improved. In other words, Aly survived bars and even included a Maloney to immediate Tkatchev. Sure, she had some fugly legs in the backswing of the Maloney but it was still pretty awesome. On her second strongest event, the always daunting balance beam, Aly appears to jump out of all her tumbling skills, which initially seems redundant and a pretty blatant and lame attempt to increase her start value but it alludes to the olden days of gym-acro combinations so I’ll allow it. Lastly, Aly’s Patterson dismount looked better than ever. She placed fifth at this meet with a few mistakes and hopefully will place even better at P&G Championships.
Gabby Douglas – Despite almost three years of distractions, Gabby Douglas returned to domestic elite competiton and placed second behind superhuman Simone Biles. Gabby only showed a double twisting Yurchenko on vault and will have to upgrade if she endeavors to defend her Olympic AA title. Gabby’s bars look even better than they did in London and includes some pretty awesome Stalder and L-grip work on the low bar. She could increase her difficulty by removing a few of the extra swings and directly connecting more of the skills. Gabby showed off a new floor routine that has some irritating vocals and sounds like it could be the theme music of her upcoming reality TV show but aside from the incessant la la la-ing, the new routine fits her much better than her previous one and includes better choreography that correlates with the music. Gabby’s transformation from ultimate headcase to confident beam queen continues to impress. She completes her standing full with her chest up rather than resting on her knees and performs extremely clean tumbling with such ease that it looks like she is on the floor instead of a 4-inch plank. Luckily for both Gabby and gymnastics fans, the Olympic All Around title seems to have encouraged Gabby and imbued her with confidence that hopefully will guide her to this year’s World Championships and the Rio Olympic Games.