U.S. Championships, Day 2

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The 2017 U.S. “P&G” Gymnastics Championships concluded on Sunday evening, crowning 2016 Olympic Alternate Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams as the new queen. Smith improved upon her already commendable preliminary performance to rather easily clinch the title with a total all-around score of 57.850, and a 115.250 combined score from day’s 1 & 2.

She began her competition on floor exercise, performing a routine that became an unambiguous statement: she was here to win this thing. One pass came up a hair short (the 1.5 to triple twist) but the others were huge: a big DLO to begin, a double Arabian was third, and she closed with a stuck double pike. She earned a 14.35 (5.7D).

From her incredible start on floor, Smith moved to vault where she matched her floor score, performing a solid DTY with just a little hop. On bars, her most labored but much-improved event, she scored a 14.100 (5.8D) with a routine that included three releases (Jaeger, Stalder Tkatchev Piked, and stalder Tkatchev) some inbar work, and a full-twisting double back dismount. Her landing—with the tiniest shuffle, reflected the routine in general: nice but just a bit insecure.

With bars behind her, Smith got to end her meet on beam, likely a nerve-racking prospect for most, but for Smith it was rather perfect. After a beautiful BHS to layout, she saved her standing full like a boss and completed the rest of her routine with little trouble, ending with a double pike dismount. She scored a 15.05 (6.1 D). It would have been fun to see the old Patterson, but she ended with a big enough bang without it. It’s good to see her pacing herself.

Winning the all-around silver medal (and all the hearts) was first-year-senior Jordan Chiles, who also began her meet on floor exercise, where she earned a 13.7 (5.5 D). Executing very powerful tumbling, she performed a DLO to huge split jump, a double Arabian piked, a 1.5 to double tuck that took her out-of-bounds, and a double pike to end.

Moving onto vault, Chiles suffered the only major mishap of her meet, sitting down her Amanar. Thankfully, the performance that catapulted her in the standings on Day 1 wasn’t needed so urgently on Day 2.  On bars, she performed beautifully with a routine that included a Van Leeuwen, piked Jaeger, and toe-on full to Gienger, and she capped it all off with stuck full-twisting double back dismount, scoring a 14.0 (5.4 D).

On beam, Chiles began her silver-clinching performance with a move that the gymternet will be sobbing tears of joy over for a while: Feeling herself to be off on the dreadful wolf turn, she spun up, up, up, and out of it, completing three full rotations before coming to a stop and managing to stay on the beam. She completed the rest of the routine, including a BHS to layout, side somi and punch front, like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. A stuck double pike dismount added another exclamation point, as if she needed one. She earned a 14.2 (5.4 D) for that final routine, and with an all-around total of 56.000 and combined score of 111.850, she not only nabbed the silver medal but earned a personal victory as well, improving her performance from Day 1 on every event but vault. And as much as it stinks to sit a vault down, there’s got to be something satisfying about missing your best event and then proving you can do without it.

Winning the bronze medal with a total score of 55.550, 111.650 combined was first-year senior Riley McCusker. Putting in her best performances on bars and beam, McCusker was arguably one of the more consistent athletes across two days of competition. She still leaves one with the impression that we’re not seeing her absolute best, but she certainly performed the routines she prepared admirably. Her composure was impressive.

Floor Exercise brought her lowest score of the evening—a 13.2—after a wild wolf turn and bounding bounce out-of-bounds on her double tuck, but by then she had very commendable bars and beams performances behind her (her bars performance was especially well-done, earning the title on the event with a routine that included a Maloney, a stalder Tkatchev, stalder piked Tkatchev and Van Leeuwen) and all she needed was to complete an FTY vault, which she did without a problem.

Trinity Thomas came in a close fourth. Like McCusker, her FTY vault makes all-around ambitions difficult, but she gave very commendable performances on the other three events over two days of competition, placing third on floor and beam.

Jade Carey struggled with her vaults this week but nevertheless became Vault Champion, also coming in second on floor exercise, and Ashton Locklear came in second on bars, performing a typically lovely routine but still leaving question marks regarding the likelihood of her being named to the World’s team.

Full Results from USAG

Article: Sara Dorrien-Christians

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