2018 US Classic – First Impressions

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Simone is back!

We can breathe a sigh of relief. After what looked like a super-fast paced return with milestones achieved in weeks where others took at least months if not years, followed by a nerve-wreaking past 4-5 weeks ( Simone tweeted about having a mental block at one point, then said that her toe was broken), Simone Biles has made it back to a competition. The Classic podium training is done, she trained well (by Simone standards, meaning fabulous) all four events. She will win again all the things. She has a bunch of new elements and her routines look fresh and simonesque at the same time. She is, as she put it at the press conference, a slightly improved version of the Simone that won the all around in Rio two years ago. The new Moors on floor looks easy (floor was always Simone’s most impressive event), on beam she has great rhythm but I suspect it could take a few runs at it to achieve a wobble-free routine (don’t panic), her Cheng on vault looked amazing. It seems as though bars is her weakest spot, not because she looks unprepared, but because she cares the most. She wants to do well by Laurent. We want her to be bars World Champion. We should all take it easy, it’s only July.

And what a packed field we have! The unusually packed field is due to the fact that the worlds team has only 5 members (4 available to the general public) and no one can afford to fall behind in preparation and in getting noticed. Many of the gymnasts that have already qualified for US Nationals are here to get back into the competition mode early.

Plus, there have been less camps this year. With less opportunities to qualify for 2018 US Nationals, there will also be many athletes that look either to achieve their qualifying scores, or to show that they are ready on a couple of events and to be able to petition for Nationals. Spencer at The Balance Beam Situation has all the details (read his US Classic preview).

Morgan Hurd looked like a rock in podium training. She unveiled a Moors of her own, she looked amazing on all other events. Anyone who wants to make sure they are in the worlds team will be looking to finish top three at nationals on at least 1-2 events or a top 3 all around finish. With the new pass, will Hurd be now no 2 (after Simone) on floor?

Speaking of floor contenders, Jade Carey unveiled a new floor music. She is also training bars, adding the all around to her portfolio. She could pull a more than decent all around score if she maintains her vault and floor in the 14s and then scores in the mid to low 13s on bars and beam (let’s see how beam is judged this year).

Riley McCusker looked a bit too vulnerable on bars. Her bars dismount seemed to be giving her troubles, but she trained pretty well on all other three events. For her, you never know what the competition will bring,  fingers crossed she stays healthy. Her overall execution remains one of the best in the world, currently.

Ragan Smith will be one ready to remind us that she was about to win a world all around title last year if not for an untimely injury. Beam will be key for her (the standing full gave her trouble in podium training).

Emma Malabuyo is a first year senior but currently has the 2nd all around score of the year from Jesolo. There she beat Ragan Smith despite a major error on bars (but Smith was not exactly at her strongest either). Yesterday, Malabuyo looked solid on bars and wobbly on beam, but usually she delivers on this event come competition day.

Here are all the videos from podium training, gathered from around the gymternet:

Simone Biles – uneven bars:

Simone Biles- floor dance-through

Simone Biles – vault (Cheng)

Simone Biles – double twisting double layout


Simone Biles – The Biles


Simone Biles – balance beam


Morgan Hurd – balance beam

Morgan Hurd – floor dance-through

Morgan Hurd – vault


Riley McCusker – uneven bars

Jade Carey – uneven bars

Jordan Chiles – uneven bars


Jordan Bowers – uneven bars


Madelyn Williams – uneven bars


Sunisa Lee – uneven bars


Grace McCallum  – balance beam

Emma Malabuyo – balance beam


Article: Bea Gheorghisor

Photo Cover: US Gymnastics

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