By Anna Rose Johnson

It is a rare thing for a gymnast to succeed on the elite stage and then skyrocket to stardom in NCAA—but it’s even more of a feat for that same gymnast to return to elite with her eye on the Olympic Games. Yet this is exactly what Utah’s MyKayla Skinner has done, and we’re eager to see what unfolds in the exciting second part of her elite career. In this interview, Skinner—who finished 8th at the recent U.S. Championships—chats with us about her current training, her hopes for 2020, and a slew of upgrades she’d like to incorporate in her routines!

Photo by: Lloyd Smith

Inside Gymnastics: How is your training going?

MyKayla Skinner: Being back at Desert Lights has been so fun. But the training has been really hard. No one really understands how difficult elite gymnastics is compared to the college level. I feel so blessed that I’ve been able to get all my skills back so quickly—especially with only three months of training. Seeing everyone talk about my comeback is so fun and makes me so happy to see everyone excited! Their love and support has made this comeback feel unreal. I still have a long way to go and so much to improve but it’s been amazing going back out there and doing what I love. 

Inside: How does it feel to be back out on the elite stage?

MyKayla: Being back in the elite stage has been unreal! Competing in Classics for the first time in three years brought back so many memories. I felt some pressure and the nerves started to kick in, but once I was out there just doing my thing, it felt like I never stopped. 

Inside: So you will be returning to Utah for your final year of eligibility?

MyKayla: I will be finishing my degree after [the] 2020 season! I only have 24 more credits and it’s really important to me that I finish my degree. 

Inside: Will you be hoping to qualify to a specialist or a team spot on the 2020 Olympic team?

MyKayla: When I was deciding if I wanted to come back to elite and make a run for 2020, I definitely thought about all my options. I was really interested in being a specialist. But I feel like I could really help the team out by doing all four events. And I was so close last time. I really feel like college has helped me mature in my gymnastics and I feel better than ever. 

Inside: Are you working on any upgrades for this year or for 2020?

MyKayla: I hope to work on some upgrades before and after Worlds. Full-in dismount on beam. Triple double on floor. Play around with some upgrades on vault. And keeping that double-double dismount off bars!