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Secret Classic LIVE BLOG


It’s here. It’s finally here. The fifth-most important night of the elite gymnastics season. Just like you’ve always dreamed about. I hope you’re as excited as Sveta.

In the eternally wise words of Martha Karolyi, “THERE IS NO NEXT YEAR.”

But first, it has already been a busy day in the gymnastics world, beginning with the women’s team final at the European Championships. It looked like it would be a close-fought thing between Russia and Great Britain, but that turned out to be a thousand types of false. Great Britain poured into the arena today with a chronic case of the no-thank-yous, featuring a Harrold fall on bars followed by Fragapane and Becky Downie falls on beam. Today just wasn’t a good day. At all. Though if you’re looking for positives, silver at Euros was a huge accomplishment for Team GB as recently as 11 seconds ago. Now, Great Britain can have a poor day, fall all over the place, and still finish second rather comfortably.

It’s sort of a shame because I was getting ready to complain about how drastically Russia was being held up in executions scores (those vaults…), but it didn’t end up mattering because the Russians only managed to fall a distinctly un-Russian once (Seda’s inevitable mistake on her full on beam) and were therefore able to allow Mustafina to clomp through her half-a-floor-routine at the end and still win easily and deservedly.

In the clawing fight for bronze, France recovered from a bars catastrophe in qualification and hit nearly a complete meet, using superior bars D to outpace the home Swiss, who counted falls from Kaeslin on bars and Steingruber on beam again, an Italian team that improved on its qualification performance but was still a little too fallsy, and a Romanian team that had an unfortunate little beam experience that it could not afford coming off normal Romania bars.

The European Championship was directly connected via rebounding flight series into the junior Secret Classic, where WOGA’s much hyped Russian-named Russian-DNA Russian, Irina Alexeeva, triumphed by the slimmest of margins. Aleexeva has added a strong floor to her already well-publicized WOGA-junior-beam-Ohashi-magic, which helped her come out just ahead of Texas Dream Emma Malabuyo, who used a DTY to gain a bit of an edge but finished a touch behind Alexeeva on the remaining events. Gabby Perea of Legacy Elite sidled in for third, winning bars (as we would only expect from a Li family joint), but I was most impressed by her fantastically nailed beam routine in which she taught a clinic on how to land a full-twisting back.

Pre-event favorite Jordan Chiles finished fourth, following what has become a very, very familiar pattern for her. She hits a solid Amanar which makes everyone go, “WOW SHE’S THE BEST FUTURE WORLD CHAMPION OF ALL,” but then she falls on beam and flies out of bounds a couple times on floor to plummet down the rankings. Every time. Just behind Chiles were GLASSES Morgan Hurd, Maile O’Keefe, and Deanne Soza, all of whom had three strong events but one issue-riddled event, that event being beam for Soza and Hurd and bars for O’Keefe.

Fun fact: If the top-five juniors here (Alexeeva, Malabuyo, Perea, Chiles, and Hurd) had competed as a team at senior Euros today, they would have finished 0.162 behind Russia for gold.

But enough of that racket! It’s time for the seniors! What of the Raismanar? And the Hernandebars??? And the whoeverfloor????? Too many questions. Let’s get some answers. HA HA HA HA. Just kidding. We won’t get any answers today. It’s just Classic. Martha only wants you to be at 74% right now.

It’s going to be so strange to live blog just one meet at a time. NCAA season has trained us all to be prepared for at least three. I’m just nervous because it feels like the Florida meet already should have started by now!

As expected, Aly Raisman is doing the all-around and she’s basically the only one. No one else is doing any events because they’re all like, “My legs.” Meanwhile, Aly is crushing several coconuts with hers.

All of these byes are like a battlefield.

On the plus side, you just finished 15th on floor at classic. CONGRATULATIONS!

The cool kids only do bars and beam. Or just bars if you’re Laurie Hernandez. Come on, Laurie! You’re the one we’re waiting for here! It is an opportunity for Jazzy Foberg to record a strong AA placement and remind us that she’s a competitive AAer and legitimate candidate for one of the 8 auto spots to trials.

This first rotation is basically going to be the bars and beam show. Lots of critical bars routines from Locklear, Kocian, Schild (and then some interesting beams from Foberg and Gowey), but I wouldn’t be surprised if this broadcast is parked on two events. Probably for the whole night until Aly is on floor and vault.

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m going to VPN the international feed and have that up, just in case we get NBCed out of some critical routines (of course we will). We’ll see how this feed holds up, but that’s the plan at least. Introductions going on now. We’ve also already had a shot of the Christ the Redeemer statue, so everything is going as expected.

Intros and anthem done. Warming upping going on now.

Oh boo. It looks like the international feed is just the NBC Sports feed too. Which makes sense. They wouldn’t produce an extra feed for international viewers, but a boy could hope…

Trautwig is summoning some demons to tell us that Simone is going to the Olympics and no one else is. Or whatever. “Who’s allowed to think they can go to Rio…”

Tim just spoke to Martha Karolyi 10 minutes ago! WOWEEE!

Nastia is telling us how important Classic is for the useless peasants who totally have no chance at all.

We’re starting!

Locklear – UB – this is the most important routine of her life or anyone’s life apparently, OMG – Nastia has a sore throat – BREAKING NEWS – inbar full + shap + pak (slightly close but fine – shap to bail is good, much better legs on that bail these days – half to jaeger, very high and well caught – near stick on the tuck full – very pretty – Martha is OK with it. Great form and legs together, will be a very high score, we’ll see what Kocian does to match.


We have seen Martha’s watchful eyes twice. Rhonda’s watchful eyes once.

Ashton gets a 15.850, which is an a million.

Baumann – UB – Good shap to pak – nice hs – over on her toe on full turn on the low bar and has to recast – back to shap+ bail, leg break on bail – solid jaeger, a bit of btoe loss – flings out tuck full and lands on all fours. YIKES. Does not bode well for her trials hopes. REEE-ough.

Baumann’s routine was so bad she doesn’t event get Laurent. She gets third-tier blonde. SHAME SHAME SHAME. 13.150.

Raisman – UB – leg break on full – falls into a pit of despair on her shap – “THAT IS SHOCKING” – she just sort of plummeted to the center of the earth there – hits it this time and back into tkatchev – jaeger with usual legs – fine on bail – good amplitude on shoot to high – hop in place on double front.

Well, three routines, two misses. Oh, Classic. “She got a little wiggy” Tim’s technical terminology. that shap ended up being a tucked-straddle.

Oh good, let’s see 48 more replays of this Aly bars instead of any other routine. YAYYYYYYY.

13.050. “I still got a pretty good score.” Oh, Aly. Love. But also, like….how?

Kocian – UB – inbar full to shap to pak to shap half – small leg break in shap half but otherwise fine – jaeger, loses toes – strong finish on stalder full, also minor step on tuck full. Good one. Not quite as clean as Locklear this time.

Baumann is a 7 out of 10 on the hating life scale.

Breaking news, Ragan Smith is short.

15.700 for Kocian. .150 behind Locklear. OFF THE OLYMPIC TEAM!!! 6.7 D though for Kocian.

Smith – UB – inbar half to jaeger – Ricna is caught – full to pak is very clean – a little rough on shoot to high because she’s just so small – slung out her tuck full but it didn’t matter because she’s a pea, step. Fine. Regular. 20.000 obviously.

Desiderio – FX – strong double double, lands staggered with a bit of a shuffle – 1.5 through to double back and flings herslef OOB – good positions on her split leap turns – very secure stuck DLO, chest a bit low – hellish wolf turn because obviously – rando walkover – solid double pike with bound back. I’m glad we’re actually getting to see some of the low tier seniors. Instead of 16 more replays of Aly.

14.900 for Smith. 6.2 D. GREEN TRIANGLES FOR EVERYONE.

We didn’t see Gowey’s beam but she got a 14.550 instead of a 68, so it was wrong.

Hundley goes 13.900 on beam. We’ll have to catch up on all these routines on youtube.

Simone Watch. “Umpressive is a word that comes to mind.” Why? That’s a word that comes to one one’s mind. Al asks Nastia is Simone is better than her. Nastia is like, “Yes,”

“To me, as someone who doesn’t know as much…” Al just quoted his autobiography title. Tim has already given Simone five Olympic gold medals. Her amplitude is “manlike”?? Al…

Maggie Nichols used to be in the conversation but now IS NOT. OK…?

We’re on to rotation 2 and Foberg on floor. She’s coming off a beam fall. Apparently, Martha saying she’s impressed with people is the kiss of death. Baumann and Foberg so far.

Foberg – FX – bounces OOB on her double double, good form and position but the slide didn’t help – short landing on double arabian with a step back to secure herself – oh Foberg – short on tuck full with hands down – she’s having a terrible day so far – double back is fine, but we’ve seen more falls than hits so far.

Baumann – BB – very solid on arabian, quite nice – gorgeous walkover and sissone and everything – small break on two layouts series, but small – cranks around the ring on that switch ring, but fine – onodi to wolf – side aerial to split – this is the routine that makes her, and she’s hitting – squatty on double pike with a hop but one of her good ones. Oh, Laurent is back for that routine. I agree. That routine was definitely Laurent-hug worthy.

Skinskin – VT – Al is talking about Don Draper. WHERE ARE WE..???? starts with her 2.5 – fine – step forward – ragged in the legs – but she has worked that vault out.

15.350 on beam for Baumann. 6.6 D. Well now.

Raisman – BB – front pike to wolf is good – secure bhs layout series as well – fine switch to back tuck – legs apart in pike jump but her simpler leaps are looking OK enough – she’s still subjecting us to the switch half, but otherwise good – perfectly solid side aerial and front tuck to split – L to full turn is a bit slow in connection b but will obviously get credit. Patterson – a little short this time with a step back, but that is a TF-able routine again.

Biles – UB – the arena falls down with cheers – weiler half to shap is fine – good hs – toe full a bit late into tkatchev, hit – piked tkatchev to pak – good amplitude on toe shoot – small hop back on tuck full. “NO VISIBLE ERRORS.” Normal Simone. Great.

Simbone. Al just called her Simbone.

What did Gowey do to piss them off? Didn’t see her floor either. 14.200.

Raisman goes 15.00 on beam. Simone 15.100 on bars.

Kocian – BB – Apparently this is a “very big routine” even though she would only do bars at the Olympics – hits her arabian – low and a small adjustment “that flip where your head is next to the beam” – Al getting technical with us – solid loso series – sheep looks good for a sheep – secure side aerial – switch to back tuck and falls. ON A BACK TUCK. A back tuck. Oh, Madison. “One of the easiest skills.” sticks double pike. NO LAURENT FOR YOU.

Why can I see every minor feature of Madison’s hip muscles?

Martha frowning. Rhonda having 8 nervous breakdowns.

Smith – BB – The Trio has already killed Kocian in the Hunger Games and are no trying to forge an alliance with Smith. Hits her wolf turn – very strong layout, secure – nails back with a full as well, perfect – a little horizontal on her punch front but hits it – pretty walkover, connects into pike jump – strong sheep – BARELY hits her Patterson, knee almost goes down with a large lunge forward. Desperate Olympic year upgrades.

13.650 for Kocian.

So many gymnasts here that beam just looks like a freeway overpass.

14.650 for Smith. No going to save grandma’s farm with that score. “One of those yellow scores.”

Schild – BB – good switch side – bhs loso series, secure – low on punch front with a wobble – side aerial to lovely position on sissone – switch 1/2 is short – looks tight, nearly wobbling on choreo, moving slowly – walkover is good – low double pike with small step, very close to the beam as well.

Tim thinks they should get rid of the low chest deduction. MURDERMURDERMURDERMURDER. No.

Locklear – BB – wolfing all over everyone – floppy legs in bhs loso series, secure – solid punch front to split – hits side somi – small check on side aerial – switch and switch half and back tuck, connected – step to the side on back tuck – more confident than her terror beam from the past. Good one.

I like how this surface pro sketch artist commercial tries to throw in a picture of a woman in between all the obvious bombers and rapists. Like…one of these things is not like the other…

After two, Locklear has the highest AA score, but obviously she’s done. Gowey is leading the people doing the AA, ahead of Baumann and Frazier.

OH YEAH GABBY’S HERE. Have we even talked about her?

Apparently, Simone is good. News.

Skim To My Lou got a 15.400 for her Amanar, so that’s the mark to watch compared to the other vaults at nationals and what Aly does at the end.

They’ve now realized Gowey is leading, so we can see her vault. Large bound back out of her DTY. Remember when she had an Amanar? 14.700.

Raisman – FX – 1.5 through to doublearabian layout, very strong and secure, just stayed in? Flag goes up apparently – Double L, falls out of it a bit – Solid Dos Santos to stag – DLO, small hop back, good chest position (TIM) – leaping out of leaping so that no one knows which one’s she’s trying – sticks double pike. Strong one. Keeping her floor second-place supremacy.

Looks like on replay one foot did just go OOB landing the layout.

Skinner – UB – starts with a Wieler, goes wonkily – has to recast – huge leg break on pak, legs apart on shap 1/2 as well – catches tkatchev – Ray is a bit close – double double tucked dismount, lands staggered and low chest but gets it around – probably not worth it given E deductions, and Tim is making that point now.

“That was a little bit of a hot mess.” TIM. TIM TIM TIM.

Nastia sounds like people’s bars form is what’s making her sick.

15.500 for Aly on floor. 13.500 for Skinner.

Douglas – UB – meandering around the bars like a lion stalking her prey – good first hs – Christian is in the way – good piked tkatchev, a little close on pak but works out of it well – shap 1/2 JUST does catch – sticks DLO – basically has one skill in that routine it always feels like, but very good hit and maintains her status as a necessary bars piece. 15.650. NBD.

Nastia informs us that Gabby’s bars routine is currently mentally more difficult than it used to be. ……what?

Biles – BB – allowed to do wolf 2.5, one of the few – chest down on that barani with a check – That barani is the only place she looks unsure of herself and it shows in the execution – great loso loso series – check after front and breaks the connection, but the rest of the connections look good – walkover to wolf – sticks tuck full dismount basically – she looks on track.

Baumann – FX – lovely turn positions on L and Y, a little short of the full double – bounces back on DLO but stays in – two whips to stuck double back, nice – more Y SPINNING (was that another attempt at a double Y?) She is goinf FULL RUSSIA with this spinderella-attempt routine – 15 to front double, also very secure – strong double pike – VERY good tumbling control, we’ll just have to see what turns get credit. But it well be all of them because today. 14.550.

Biles 15.650 on BEAM. LOL. Al thinks we’re going to have a surprise champion. Aly Raisman is not a surprise champion.

We started this meet a little splatty, but I’m not reading that much into it. People were splatty on events that don’t matter for them, really, like Raisman on bars, Kocian on beam, and Baumann on bars, and Skinner on bars. Those aren’t the events that count for them. Foberg had a performance that won’t help her. And now it seems she scratched vault. She’s the one I would chalk up as actually hurting her cause.

But once again, Classic is the one you can come back from and no one remembers.

Brenna Dowell exists? One event today.

Dowell – BB – hits front pike mount and gets bonus points for doing it – walkover is strong – long pause before bhs 1/1, slightly shuffly – hits los series – switch and switch side – small check on full turn – short of position on switch 1/2 – good side aerial – has a moment of truth with the beam in her choreo, butterfly kisses? – extremely low chest on double pike – step back.

Hundley is currently second on vault with a  15.050. Just FYI.

BOGI INTERVIEW. Don’t screw this up Andrea. I’m in heaven. Andrea gets a minor reprieve for the rest of the evening for bringing us this gem.

What voice did Al just attempt. Like…huh? I don’t even…?

Hernandez – UB – Critical routine for our prognostications – stalder full crazy legs – shap to tkatchev, feet but good – piked ricna is hit – good following hs – ricna to pak, some legs but hits – fingertips her shoot to high – sticks the tuck full. That helps. Based on today’s scores…25.450.

Christ, we’re still playing stock up and stock down?

Skinner – BB – bhs to back full, step back – check on side aerial, tight – switch to switch half to back tuck – switch half is basically a switch side but the switch leap didn’t look too too bad – short on split jump – upgraded dismount – tuck full – chest down and hop back but hit it.

Baumann – VT – fine DTY – some ragged legs and a hop back, but it’s a Baumann DTY.

15.400 for Laurie on bars. I said she needed to be a couple tenths ahead of Simone for this routine, and she’s three tenths ahead.

Skinner beam 14.500. Aimee is making sure SKinner’s performance was 80% like it’s supposed to be.

Raisman – VT – Does her 2.5, one of her better ones – corkscrew legs and a hop forward, but much better than some of her 2015 and early 2016 attempts. That’ll work. 15.700. Yeah. OK. But still.

Gowey would need a 15.800 on bars to catch Raisman, which given what we’ve seen today would not be out of the question, but it won’t happen. I just want it to because Al already declared Aly the champion.

Douglas – BB – Nastia bestows upon us the breaking news that Gabby wants to hit this routine. large break on front pike, somehow stays on – hits loso series – nails tuck full, very strong and good chest psoition – switch to a somewhat tight switch half – solid front tuck, pauses before connection though – small tentativeness on L turn – switch ring was fine, just lacking the closure as always – everything else has looked good since the opening front pike – hop back on double pike. Got through.

Replays of that front pike save, crazy save.

Lexy Ramler – FX – BUT SHE’S NOT ONE OF THE FAMOUSESSSSSSS – nice float on that tuck full, step back – hop back on double tuck, NCAA lowish – pulls around a double L turn, and her double attitude was nice – 1.5 to front full – damn, sits final 2.5 with some crazy legs. “Very nice routine.” Dripping with condescension. 14.550 on beam for Dougie.

Aly is making sure Foberg knows it’s OK that she had a bad meet. Awwww.

Gowey – UB – a little wonky on some early piros and misses the connection – ricna to pak, leg break on pak – catches shap 1/2 – hop back on DLO. A little sloppsville at the beginning, but she kept herself heavily in the running for a trials spot with this one.

14.850 for Gowey, into second ahead of Baumann. Both notched 58s, which is a good pace for them. Frazier is 4th and Schild is 5th.

Locklear beat Kocian by .150 in the bars fight, and Locklear’s routine was cleaner, but getting that 6.7 is helpful for Kocian. It’s basically 6 of one between those two, but nothing that has happened so far has done anything to negate the need for a bars specialist. Locklear/Kocian on bars versus Biles, is worth more than an Amanar over a DTY.

Andrea is interviewing Aly. “WHY ISN’T IT EASIER?????”

Ooh, Ashton got second interview spot. Ashton missed a connection on bars and is unhappy with herself, but hit beam.

“We saw a lot of facial expressions tonight from Martha.” Trautwig talking points. Nastia’s response: “There were a few happy faces.” GREAT.

OH NO IT’S GABBY VERSUS SIMONE. Al almost forgot to try to make Gabby v. Simone happen. Phew. Got it in under the wire.

“Nastia needs a hot toddy.” WHAT ARE YOU SAYING.

I’ll do full reflections on this one and Olympic chances at some point this coming week. We have three whole weeks until nationals to fill. The wait it real.

This meet probably had more of an effect on trials chances than on team chances, though Aly’s Amanar helped us all feel more comfortable that it could be used in a TF scenario this time if it stays like that.

For now, your assignment is to head to the USAG youtube page and watch all the routines we missed so that you’re up to speed.


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