The senior women’s finals competition certainly did not disappoint. Among the highlights:
Feature Photo by Grace Chiu
The Biles Show
Making a comeback is not an easy task. Coming back better than before is close to impossible. For Simone Biles, that mission = possible. She won Vault. Uneven Bars (her weakest event). Beam. Floor. AND the all-around, for the fifth time–and a spot in history! Her gymnastics is bigger and better than ever–something that would have seemed unimaginable just a year ago. Her bar dismount (tucked double-double) just floats out of the sky. Her two vaults (Amanar and a Cheng) nearly hit the rafters. While she was on floor, every eye in the house-–including those of her competitors–was fixed on her. Rightly so.
After a disappointing attendance count on the men’s side, the arena was lit for the women’s event. An energetic crowd and a beautiful display of gymnastics made for a great event. With athletes battling for rights to advance to the next phase of World team selection, the stakes were high and the drama was intense. Regardless of who makes the five-member squad for Team USA (our bets right now are on Biles, Morgan Hurd, Riley McCusker, Grace McCallum and Jade Carey), they will be the team to beat in Doha in October.
The Real Competition
With Biles tumbling away with the title(s), the real race was for second. Coming in to Nationals, reigning World Champion Hurd (First State), 2017 American Cup Champion Ragan Smith (Texas Dreams), U.S. Classic Champion McCusker, Pac Rim Champion McCallum (TCT), World Vault Champion Carey (Arizona Sunrays) were among the top contenders. With a beautiful display of artistry and the drive of a champion, Hurd prevailed for silver, just ahead of McCusker.
- 21 athletes started the day
- 60.1 Simone Biles posted the highest all-around score of the season on day one, internationally, and had a two-day combined score of 119.850.
- 3.1 The amount of leeway that Biles had entering into day two.
- 6.55 The point spread between first place (Biles) and second place (Hurd) in the final standings.
- 6.35 Biles’ average D-Score.
Bars was supposed to be a weak event for the American women. With standouts Gabby Perea (Legacy Elite) and Ashton Locklear sidelined, it looked to be McCusker who would prevail, but Biles just edged her out. Of note, junior Sunisa Lee (Midwest) scored a two-day combined of 29.55 which was .15 higher than Biles.
Among the skills that made our jaws drop today:
- Biles on vault… Just watch the clip on YouTube!
- Carey’s tumbling (Layout double-double, full-twisting double layout, double-double tucked and ending with a tuck full-in) stacked to a 6.3 D-score.
- Kara Eaker (GAGE) twist, twist, twist!
- Jordan Chiles has a double layout as her third pass–unbelievable the endurance and strength!
- Trinity Thomas (Prestige) opened with a powerful double layout, and we adore her pass of two-and-a-half through to double tuck!
Rise to the Occasion
It’s been a difficult year for the athletes with distractions galore leading to this event. Not enough can be said of the fortitude it’s taken to not only endure but prevail with such incredible performances. It really speaks to the hearts of these athletes and the character of all. Bravo!
After hiding behind press releases for most the time since taking office, USA Gymnastics CEO & President Kerry Perry had her first extended Q&A session (Listen here!) with the press today (well, if you call all of the 22 minutes extended, that is). She came across as robotic and offered little substance, further solidifying the perception that she’s poorly equipped to lead the organization, which continues to face incredible challenges on a number of fronts. USA Today columnist Nancy Armour perhaps best captured the essence of what’s gone wrong: