Category Archives: U.S. Classic

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

U.S. Classic – 7 Things We Learned

1) Jade Carey is a thing

Our first real-life glimpse of Jade Carey did not disappoint. On vault, Carey showed a Tsuk 2/1, followed by an Amanar (which ties for the most difficult vaulting program being done in the world right now).

Her final average for the two vaults was 14.475. That’s the kind of score that would be good enough to make event finals at worlds but is not a guaranteed-medal situation yet. There were clear deductions in these vaults, but the good news for Carey is that many were not built-in. She received a 0.3 ND on the Amanar (which she landed with more control in the touch warmup, just one crossover step), so not dancing OOB on the Amanar alone would bump her up and put her among the very best two-vault scores in the world this year.

Her Tsuk also scored 0.350 higher at the ranch than it did here, though the pronounced piking on the second twist probably keeps that E score from going too, too high. We could very well see this average go up as the summer continues, and doing so would remove some of the doubt in what already looks like a fairly compelling worlds case.

And then there’s floor.

That’s some big tumbling, you guys. Not sure if you noticed. I’m actually not mad at her 180 position on the switch full either, which is the more impressive accomplishment. The 13.950 this routine received is right on the cusp of being a worthy score to take to take to worlds for floor (I’m looking for 14s), but this was with an error on the landing of the final pass and getting nailed in the D score for completion of dance elements. The potential to break 14 at nationals exists.

Carey got a 5.7 D for this routine, but she’s going for 6.0. I’m sure she didn’t get full credit for the split leap 1.5 (it was more like a split leap 1.15), and probably got the double L downgraded to a single as well. That would get her D down to 5.7 but also reinforces how there really is room to improve on an already-competitive 13.950.

The Chaplins are like, “I KNOW, RIGHT? BLOOP.”

Vault and floor will rightfully get most of the attention, but Carey has the makings of a Sturdy German on beam as well.

2) Riley McCusker is a famous inventor

The meet didn’t go awesomely for McCusker, with mistakes on all three of her events.

At the same time, it’s just Classic, and she’s only just back from injury within the last 30 seconds. My main questions are more along the lines of why it was so important for her to compete at Classic than they are about her actual performance. Although she didn’t seem to be still suffering from any injury problems (just lack of numbers), so no harm done. This was also tons better than American Cup, a meet she was actually prepared for. Continue reading U.S. Classic – 7 Things We Learned

U.S. Classic Podium Training

The videos are here! The videos are here!

First, we have a bit of Jordan Chiles on bars, showing toe full + Gienger piked (D+D, 0.1 CV) and a full-twisting double tuck dismount (D). That was all part of her old routine as well.

Here is Sunisa Lee on bars. We see an attempt at the Nabieva + Pak + Maloney + Gienger combination (G + D + D + D, 0.5 CV) with a break to add a toe-on in between.

Intended routine:
Nabieva (G) + Pak (D) + Maloney (D) + Gienger piked (D) = 0.5 CV
Stalder 1/2 (C) + Jaeger piked (E)
Cast 1/2
Toe full (D) + Tuck full (D) = 0.1 CV

5.8 D score Continue reading U.S. Classic Podium Training