Category Archives: U.S. Classic

US Classic Preview

Saturday. US Classic. 1:00 ET juniors. 6:30 ET seniors. Be there, or be on Twitter making fun of it. By way of a preview, here are some notes on expectations, necessities, and whatever else comes to mind for each athlete in the senior division.

We’ll go in alphabetical order, like we’re lining up for recess at Otter Bay Elementary School.

Shania Adams

For Adams, US Classic is all about the 52. She did manage to achieve her three-event score at American Classic (VT, UB, BB) with no room to spare, but a lower-than-hoped number on floor meant she didn’t get the required AA total. So most of all, Adams will be looking to use this competition to ensure she can compete all four events at nationals. Of note, she got SVed to pieces in that floor routine at American Classic, intending something well into the 5s and receiving only 4.5.

So look out for completion of turns as she tries to get that floor score up high enough for the all-important 52, which should be very attainable for her with 4 hits.

Simone Biles

End of preview. Simone could walk out and do itsy bitsy spider and it wouldn’t matter. We’ll wait and see how many events she does, but if Simone does elect to compete floor here, it will be our chance to see whether she includes those potential upgrades she posted this summer—the Biles to layout and the triple double. Though…you know…it’s not like she needs them. But she could also do them. And that would be cool.

Sloane Blakely

Blakely did make the shortlist of 8 nominees for the Pan Ams team, so she will be aiming for a stronger competition than is normally necessary at Just Classic so that she might get herself on that team. Typically, you’d think of Blakely as exactly the kind of gymnast who would go to Pan Am Games, but this year it’s such an unusually deep group. Even on Blakely’s most impressive event, beam, which can garner a worlds-TF-level score, she’s faced with Kara Eaker scoring a 28.8 every day just for looking at a beam. It’s hard for anyone to find her niche contribution. And this isn’t even the worlds team.

Blakely will be looking to rank well on beam and outscore some of your traditional top all-arounders there, while also placing in the top 5 AA among the Pan Ams 8 to make her argument.

Jade Carey

The primary goal for Carey this summer will be to reconfirm that she is #2 behind Biles on both vault and floor among the US competitors. If she does that, she’ll have a very compelling argument to be back on the worlds team following her individual wilderness adventure. In that regard, this meet will be somewhat important for Carey in making sure she still ranks above the wildcard factor that is MyKayla Skinner, who is going to try to come in and match Carey difficulty-for-difficulty on vault and floor in a power-gymnast grudge match.

Carey is a very competent beamer and probably underrated there, and we’ve also seen video of her training a Bhardwaj on bars to up that D score. What I mean is, don’t be utterly surprised if she places well in the all-around here, especially if some of the other top athletes don’t do all four events.

Continue reading US Classic Preview

US Classic Rosters

We are now 11 days away from the US Classic, the…second most interesting domestic American competition of the summer?…not counting selection camp…? Anyway, get excited. Classic is the meet where we get to see the upgrades for the 2019 season, and that’s very important. Classic podium training day should basically be a national holiday.

The rosters are out for the junior and senior events, and while they’re short on surprises, they’re worth breaking down.


Olivia Ahern
Ciena Alipio*
Sydney Barros*
Skye Blakely*
Charlotte Booth
Sophia Butler*
Kailin Chio*
Kayla Di Cello*
Addison Fatta
eMjae Frazier
Elizabeth Gantner
Karis German*
Olivia Greaves*
Mia Heather
Julianne Huff
Levi Jung-Ruivivar
Lauren Little*
Lilly Lippeatt*
Amber Lowe
Nola Matthews*
Konnor McClain*
Zoe Miller*
Kaylen Morgan*
Sydney Morris*
Annalise Newman-Achee
Sophie Parenti
Anya Pilgrim*
Ariel Posen
Joscelyn Roberson
Sienna Robinson*
Katelyn Rosen
Lyden Saltness*
Jamison Sears
Chavala Shepard
Ava Siegfeldt*
Eva Volpe
Jamie Wright
Ella Zirbes Continue reading US Classic Rosters

US Classic In Review – A Life in a Day

Welp, another uneventful US Classic has come and gone, nothing to see here. Snore.

Actually, there was one thing. And by one I mean 750,000.

Miss Biles

We’ll start with young upstart Simone Biles. She won. Attempt to contain your astonishment. Her 58.700, achieved with a fall on bars, is the highest all-around score of the quadrennium so far—eclipsing Larisa Iordache’s wind-aided 58.466 from 2017 Romanian Nationals.

Biles was awarded D scores of at least 6.0 on every event, and while she’s not quite in crisp, world-beating form yet, it’s clear that she will be in about 30 seconds. Across the four events, we saw pretty much the expected US Classic “I’m at 75% right now” level—similar to what we saw from the other top contenders—with one miss, an OOB on floor, and some really bouncy landings that aren’t quite honed yet. It’s early in the process.

But we also saw that both the difficulty and execution are still there, and that Biles has every intention of picking up exactly where she left off last quad. There was certainly some degree of SIMONE IS BACK scoring on a few events, but we know now based on these performances that a hit meet from Biles at nationals will break 60. There’s no one else in the world capable of doing that right now, even if they were competing at Romanian Nationals and Ukrainian Nationals simultaneously.

Biles debuted and hit her intended upgrades and looked very comfortable with all the difficulty, because of course she did. The only mistake on one of her upgrades came on the Moors, when she bounced several yards out of bounds. (Biles was—charitably—given two separate 0.1 NDs on that for going OOB with one foot on the landing and then a second foot as she attempted to resume her routine, rather than 0.3 ND for going OOB with both feet).

She also had an early-season bounce of a landing on her Cheng— which has for the moment replaced the Amanar as her primary vault—but that looked otherwise just as well-executed as it did in 2016.

The miss on bars came on a toe full, when she couldn’t control it up to vertical and came back the other side, but the Shap 1/2 upgrade looked excellent (with better leg form than expected) and the Fabrichnova is gigantic. Biles followed the miss on bars with a very solid hit on beam, more secure and comfortable than we saw from her in podium training, when the barani was being a little bit of a jerk.

Team “Damn This Is About to Get Gooooood”

Moving on, let’s discuss Simone’s Best Friend in the Whole Wide World** Morgan Hurd. Continue reading US Classic In Review – A Life in a Day

US Classic Senior Live Blog

And now for the seniors. Brace yourself. Get excited, if that’s your kind of thing. Or stare unblinkingly into the middle distance, if that’s your kind of thing.

The Simone-en-ing is upon you. Start list.

Emily Lee pulled out of the meet a couple days ago. Today, Adeline Kenlin pulled out (not re-injured, just not ready yet) and Olivia Dunne will be limited to only bars. Continue reading US Classic Senior Live Blog

US Classic Junior Live Blog

The army of juniors has arrived.


Or something.

The juniors are numerous and vaguely unfamiliar, so you’ll probably want to keep a start list handy. It’s the only way. Otherwise you’re just going to be like, “I think MyKenza fell 15 times on beam…”

They split each rotation up into two warmup groups, so you only have to keep track of half the field at a time. But, this first rotation begins with some of the most important characters to follow. Continue reading US Classic Junior Live Blog

US Classic Podium Training

The routines are here! The routines are here!

Item 1: Miss Simone. Simone began on floor, and we’re first of all absolutely going to need to talk about how her routine ends with her blowing a kiss to the crowd, obviously an important throwback to Khorkina in the 2004 team final when she was wearing the candy-cane-grams leotard, but this one comes complete with an aggressive kissy-sound inserted into the end of music. You know how that thrills me.

Like her past floor routines, this one is also pretty much just a vehicle for tumbling. So let’s get to that. Outside of the dance-through, Simone showed the double double layout, which is more laid out than any other attempt we’ve ever seen, and is planning to connect jumps out of both the front full + full-in and the Biles.

A comparison:

Simone Biles – Floor
2016 2018
Double layout 1/1 – H Double double layout – I
Straddle jump 1/1 + Stag jump – C+A Front 1/1 +(i) Full-in + Split jump – C + E + A = 0.3 CV
Double layout 1/2 (Biles) + Sissone – G + A = 0.1 CV Switch leap – B
Front aerial – A Split leap 1.5 – D
Wolf turn double – D Double layout 1/2 (Biles) + Stag – G + A = 0.1 CV
** (see comment from Chris)
Switch leap – B Wolf turn double – D
Split leap 1.5 – D Switch leap 1/1 – D
Double-twisting double tuck – H Double-twisting double tuck – H
Switch leap 1/1 – D
Full-twisting double tuck – E
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – HHGE – 2.8 Acro – IHGEC – 3.2
Dance – DDDC – 1.5 Dance – DDD – 1.2
CV – 0.1 CV – 0.4
Total D – 6.9 Total D – 6.8

So she’s basically already back to the 2016 difficulty even without the extra 0.5 in CR from last quad. This will be a theme of the routines Simone showed today.

On vault, she performed her Cheng, as promised. Continue reading US Classic Podium Training

US Classic Preview – Seniors

And now…let’s discuss the main Simone. I mean main event.

The most exciting part about the occasionally rinky-dink US Classic is that, for most of the top gymnasts, it delivers our first look at their “it’s getting real now” routine composition—their intended difficulty for the push toward worlds. This isn’t some Jesolo. The show is starting.

The 2018 horse race for the five-person worlds team is particularly ill-defined at this point because of a combination of depth and injuries and Simone, so classic will be our initial opportunity to assess who has the actual D tools to be in the main selection group versus who is being pushed to the side by the new crop.

That’s why I always say that US Classic podium training is the most important day of the gymnastic summer. That’s where you get all the real information. As for the competition itself, the Ghost of Simone 2013 is here to remind us that the results are 1000% meaningless and won’t be remembered or relevant in a couple weeks.

Can you even name the podium from last year? Of course not, because it was Shchennikova in first, Paulson in second, and a tie for third between Blanco, Steele, and Watkins. And I only made up one of those people.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t get scads and scads of useful information from this competition. Get excited.

OK. Enough of that. Simone.

The main Simone

In case you’re dead and haven’t heard, someone named Simon Bules is returning to competition on Saturday, her first opportunity to grace the lowly peasants with her gymnastics since the 2016 Olympics. Which went OK.

Initially, Simone was intending to compete only bars and beam here, but she later revealed that she’s too talented to function and has to do the all-around. Sorry, everyone. Hope you like silver.

As a victim of her own success, Simone will be expected to win the all-around every single day by a multi-point margin while wearing 8 tiaras because of Simone things, and anything less than that, even at her comeback meet, will be treated like “why are you so old and bad now, grandma?” Continue reading US Classic Preview – Seniors