The U.S. Championships are underway in Indianapolis, with Day 1 for both juniors and seniors wrapping up on Thursday evening.
There were a number of surprises, with some of the more experienced and most decorated athletes struggling while others rose to the occasion. In a nutshell, here’s what you should know about the Senior Session….
**Best night: **“Swaggie” Maggie Nichols, hands down. She was a favorite coming into this event, with long-time gym fans hoping she’d crown her impressive Classics performance from a few weeks ago. She began with a bang and ended with a bang, delivering a powerful Amanar to start and a dynamic floor routine (including a solid full-in) to end.
**Worst night: **Kyla Ross, counting two falls on two dismounts: She came up short on her final floor pass, putting her hand down on her double tuck, and after executing a clean, upgraded bar routine, she sat down her double front. Her beam routine was redemptive, though she had large balance checks after her switch ring and side somi. Her cleanest event was vault, but the DTY won’t be as valuable this year. Don’t shoot the messenger, but she has some ground to make up on Saturday.
Biggest shock: Aly Raisman’s fall on beam. It was upon landing her split jump. I’m trying to remember the last time I saw Aly fall on beam. She looked mad, understandably, but she rallied on floor, posting a 15.550, the highest floor score of the night.
Simone Biles’ fall on floor. It was her last pass (a full-in), and anyone who knows gymnastics and was watching had to scrape her jaw off the floor.
Simone Biles’ STICK on her Amanar, even though I suppose it shouldn’t be “shocking.” Girl was pissed about her fall on floor and (in her book) mediocre beam.
Biggest relief: Brenna Dowell’s bar routine. It wasn’t quite a “hit,” (most noticeably because of slight leg separation on her pak) but she delivered a jam-packed routine in a pressure-cooker situation.
Biggest “Wow”: This is open to debate, of course, but for me it was Ashton Locklear. Her bars routine is state of the art: great timing, pirouettes right on top of the bar, stuck landing at the end. I wouldn’t mind seeing her on another World’s team, even if it is for one event.
Honorable Mentions: I suppose you could call these the “Biggest Mediocrities,” but that doesn’t quite the capture the athletes who gave well-executed if slightly understated all-around performances, athletes that didn’t give “shocking” or “wowing” or hugely disappointing performances. I would put Bailie Key and Gabrielle Douglas in this category, both of whom delivered routines without major mistakes but also missed an opportunity to really capitalize in the midst of some major mishaps from their compatriots and rivals. Bailie delivered a beautiful DTY to finish her competition but gave away cleanliness tenths elsewhere; Gabby performed admirably but it feels a bit too measured, dare I say “easy” for the reigning Olympic Champion. I also say this in the confidence that we haven’t seen the best from either of them yet. Besides Nichols, these are the all-arounders who dealt the best with their nerves. They could go into Saturday with unmatched confidence.
Full Senior Results
Full Junior Results
Article: Sara Dorrien-Christians
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