Saturday, February 14, 2015

USA's Future is Bright

Earlier this week, USA Gymnastics broke the Gymternet yet again by posting videos from the most recent National Team Training Camp .  I would like to thank Scott Bregman, the head of media for USA Gymnastics, for these amazing videos!  So far, we only have the Junior National Team, most of whom is Rio eligible (with the exception of Victoria Nguyen and Jordan Chiles, who was missing for this camp).  The future of USA Gymnastics is looking bright, and the fight to Rio is already looking fierce!  I went through these videos and expressed my opinions on what was shown.

Ragan Smith
 Ragan Smith has been present at training camps for years before she qualified elite.  A couple of competitive years and a gym change later, Smith is looking good.  Here she showcases nice inbar stalder work to a blind change into a straddled Jaeger.  One of the more interesting skills she shows is a piked full on beam, which she lands beautifully with her chest up.  You can't twist in a truly piked position, so I wonder if this is just a place holder?  I did not realize until just now that I want Ragan to do a layout full a la Katelyn Ohashi, but I do.  Anyway... Ragan's piked full is as nice as that skill can get in my opinion.  On floor she shows a powerful double layout and a DOS SANTOS WHICH IS SO NICE.  Ragan has always been a favorite of mine and I am so
excited about her potential for next year.  Switching to Texas Dreams is the best decision of her career thus far.  Watch out for this tiny one!  She could be put up on floor, and her bars are improving every time we see her.

Alexis Vasquez
Alexis Vasquez is relatively knew to the elite scene and is a brand new senior.  The reigning Junior National Beam Champion is currently showing some new bar work, including a lot of places for potential connections.  While her bars is still not her strongest event, she is definitely putting in some work on this event.  Her beam is looking solid, although we are not shown much on this event.  If she made the world team this year, it would be because of her exquisite beam work.  She also shows a tight triple twist, which needs a little more height and rotation, but her form is very nice.  It will be hard for her to break into the top contenders this year, but her form and her beam work will definitely make her one to watch.

Victoria Nguyen
Victoria Nguyen is brand new to the elite scene, as she just finished her first elite season.  Pacing is definitely on Coach Chow's mind, as she is not Rio eligible.  Her bar work is looking great, and her endo skills look easy for her.  She just floats on the beam, making her back handspring- layout step out- layout step out series look effortless.  All of beam work is beautiful, she showcases beautiful lines and extension.  We don't see as much from her, but she will be one to watch in the next quadrennium.  She fits the role of a bar/ beam specialist perfectly, and I can't wait to see how she matures into an even more beautiful gymnast!

Laurie Hernandez
Perhaps one of the most anticipated junior videos, 2013 Junior All Around Silver medalist is returning back to form after missing the 2014 season with a knee injury.  In our first glimpse of Hernandez, she shows a super over rotated Double Twisting Yurchenko?  Are they going for the Amanar?  I personally hope not, as her Double Twisting Yurchenko has not always been enjoyable to watch.  You can tell she has been putting a lot of work into her bars, but they looked jittery to me?  you could tell she was trying very hard to bend the bar.  Her Downie is huge though.  As jittery as her bars looked, her beam was the exact opposite.  She was so solid on beam!  Her tumbling looks clean, and it is great to see her back out there!  Her return to competition this summer (maybe earlier?) will tell a lot about her Rio chances, but her international experience is definitely an advantage.  Time will only tell with this one.

Emily Gaskins
In our first look at Emily Gaskins since her gym change from Cincinnati Gymnastics to her old gym Intensity Gymnastics, Emily looked sharp.  Her bar work looked clean, and she has beautiful lines!  She shows a very line double layout, that was a little piked, but she has time to fix that.  Her new beam mount is quite possibly my favorite piece of gymnastics ever.  She does a press handstand to a planche with one foot on her shoulder, then lies face down on the beam to a chest roll, extends her arms, does a back kick over, back handspring step out layout step out.  How perfect is that?  She has such beautiful lines that it looks exquisite.  If I could only ever watch one piece of gymnastics for the rest of my life, it would be this.  Her floor, like in the past, has slightly lower difficulty, but she shows a stuck 1.5 through to a double tuck.  Gaskins could definitely be one to watch next year for her beam work, a spot that already has some serious contenders.  It will be hard for her to break into the top contenders next year, but I see her killing it in the next quadrennium.

Jazmyn Foberg
This is our first look at the reigning junior national champion, and she looks good.  She has some upgrades that are rather exciting, such as a pretty Ray straight into a Gienger.  I am absolutely obsessed with this combination!  Her Double Twisting Yurchenko also looks good.  Her beam work, while not super difficult, is unbelievably solid.  I love how fluid her movements on the beam are, she just looks so natural up there!  She also shows a nice double layout, which travels so far!  Overall, Jazmyn demonstrates some nice upgrades, however I do not think it will be enough for her to repeat as Junior National Champion, especially as her teammate Laurie Hernandez is back and looking great, and Norah Flately is also in great shape and poised to challenge.

Bailie Key
Many fans were excited to see Key, the 2013 Junior National Champion back in the gym after a shoulder injury kept her from competition this summer.  She looks good and poised to fight for her first World Team!  Her double twisting Yurchenko looks good, albeit slight leg crossing during the second twist.  Bars is where Key shows some HUGE upgrades, such as a BEAUTIFUL toe on- blind half- Jaeger.  My favorite bar upgrade she shows is a great Shang (Inbar stalder- piked Tchatchev).  Her marathon bar set will score nicely internationally, which also includes a Downie into a Pac.  She also shows intricate low to high to low to high pirouette combinations, which is already being executed wonderfully.  On beam, she shows us a nice standing arabian, along with a nice back handspring step out, back handspring, layout.  We also get a glimpse of a new double pike, which she lands a little low.  On floor, we see a nice, not quite there yet double layout, as well as a piked double Arabian, which will add quite a bit of start value.  Overall, things are looking great for Ms. Key.  She is in great shape for a senior debut in Jesolo, as well as looking ready for Worlds this year.  I expect Bailie to give Simone Biles a fight at Nationals!

Norah Flatley  
One of Chow's many challengers, Norah Flatley is looking strong.  The biggest upgrade here is a brand new Double Twisting Yurchenko, a vault in which she needs to competitive as an All Arounder next year.  While it is not perfect, it is definitely an improvement.  Her bar work is so intricate and clean, and she shows a possible PIKED ENDO!  I absolutely love endos and think they look so cool, so I was so excited to see this!  Her bar work is very WOGA-esque, and it is so beautiful!  Beam is solid as always.  We get to see her signature flexibility and her huge back handspring step out, back handspring, layout pass.  She gets so much air it's unreal.  Another change from last year is an aerial walkover sheep jump, which was gorgeous.  Norah is another gymnast who looks so fluid and natural on beam, she is a perfect example of what beam should look like.  I think being born in 2000 definitely hurts Norah's chances for next year, as I think this year's World's would be the perfect place for Marta to throw her into competition, and with a 5 person team I think it will be hard for her break into the team.

Nia Dennis
 Nia Dennis lost the National title more so than Jazmyn Foberg won it, and we got her first look as senior in her camp video.  She looks ready for this year!  Her bar work is reminiscent of Becca Bross, dynamic, powerful, and full of huge connections.  I personally LOVE her toe-full- Tchatchev.  She gets Gabby Douglas height on her Tchatchev!  All we got to see was her bar work, which looked good, but there are other girls in the USA who can swing bars better at this point.  I think it will be hard for her to break onto the World Team with so much depth this year.

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