Aug 20, 2013, 4:16 PM EDT
Overarching storylines now that the U.S. gymnastics championships are over …
1. The women’s team doesn’t have legitimate replacements for the Fierce Five yet.
Good news for any 2012 Olympians looking to get back into the mix … Team USA still needs you. McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross put on a show at nationals, claiming all of the event gold medals (Ross: balance beam, uneven bars; Maroney: vault, floor exercise).
The only newcomer who set herself apart was all-around champion Simone Biles. With only a handful of juniors from this year’s competition moving to the senior ranks in 2014, there’s plenty of room, and plenty of need for the Fierce Five to return. Judging by this weekend’s performances — the USA could really use a Gabby Douglas uneven bars routine right about now.
2. The American men have some serious depth.
The U.S. men are finally getting a break after cycles of rebuilding after Olympics. The combination of a young Olympic team in 2012 and a great mix of specialists provides a luxury of depth for the first time in many years. In the past the men’s team has leaned heavily on one or two stars (Paul and Morgan Hamm, Blaine Wilson), but the World Championships team this year could be entirely made of men with Olympic and/or worlds experience.
It’s so deep that the 2012 U.S. all-around champion, John Orozco, didn’t make the World Championships team outright; he’s an alternate who could replace the injured Danell Leyva. Things are looking up for a program that has much to prove after their poor showing in London.
3. USA Gymnastics delivered big time for their audience.
USA Gymnastics gets a round of applause for their digital and social media efforts, especially by former University of Michigan gymnast Scott Bregman, who has changed the game for the 50-year-old institution. Up until last year there were few options to see junior portions of competitions, or even day one preliminary competitions for the sport’s most die-hard fans.
USA Gymnastics live streamed all major events this season. They also live streamed podium training, previously only open to the media, and added athlete interviews and vintage full broadcasts of domestic competitions dating to 1980. USA Gymnastics uploaded a staggering 1,200 videos from the weekend’s National Championships, totaling more than 72 hours of coverage. Their YouTube views totaled nearly 1.4 million during the five-day competition. The most watched video? Maroney’s night two vault.
4. Reputation still counts.
Gymnastics remains, in part, a subjective sport. In past decades and even under today’s revised scoring system, gymnasts have relied on reputation to get the benefit of the doubt, whether it’s from the team selection committee or from the judges.
Maroney has set the precedent of near perfect scores on vault. While she was great at nationals, the judges awarded a 9.7 execution score for a vault that was clearly inferior to her Olympic team final stunner that earned a similar 9.733. The good news? If she sticks the Amanar at the World Championships, we could see the first perfect 10.0 at a worlds under the new scoring system.
5. Mykayla Skinner to Worlds?
Three of four women’s spots on the World Championships team are already locked up: Biles, Maroney and Ross. There’s only one spot left and no standout specialists to fill it. Martha Karolyi has thrown surprises in the past, so don’t count out Mykayla Skinner.
Skinner, 16, lacks the polish of her teammates, but she boasts some of the most mind-blowing gymnastics out there, including a double twisting double layout on floor that if performed at the World Championships would bare her name in the Code of Points. She didn’t hit in night one, but she stuck the double twisting double cold Saturday, finishing third on the event behind Maroney and Biles. She can further her cause at the selection camp next month.
Bonus: Bats love gymnastics, too
During the first night of men’s competition a large bat frantically flew around the heads of the audience and commentators in the XL Center (video here). Nastia Liukin muted her mic a few times during the broadcast out of fear of the shrieking as the winged mammal flew by. The bat even got it’s own Twitter account (@PGChampsBat). The arena said it died of “natural causes” before the next day.
Apr 26, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
The U.S. beat Russia in the Sochi Paralympic final.
Apr 26, 2015, 7:55 AM EDT
Also, Paula Radcliffe was interviewed by the BBC in the middle of her marathon farewell.
Apr 25, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
The U.S.’ first opponent marks a rematch of the Sochi gold-medal game.
Apr 25, 2015, 10:33 AM EDT
Only two men have ever run faster this early in the season.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT
ISAF official says demands will be made.
Apr 25, 2015, 8:53 AM EDT
Jenner explained how he felt different while winning the decathlon at the Montreal 1976 Olympics.
Apr 24, 2015, 3:51 PM EDT
Several Olympic champions are in the fields at the two meets.
Apr 24, 2015, 3:50 PM EDT
Phelps has followed Bowman to an NCAA stop before.
Apr 24, 2015, 12:24 PM EDT
Biles is in the middle of a four-month break from competition.
Apr 24, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT
Sweeney and Team USA begin World Championship play Sunday.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT
NBC’s figure skating analysts will be visible daily during Kentucky Derby week.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT
“I feel like he let me down, and he let the sport down.”
Apr 23, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT
But he also shares the sentiment of Bud Selig on MLB participation.
Apr 23, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT
Doug wasn’t allowed to bobsled while filming, but he recently took his first run.
Apr 23, 2015, 12:29 PM EDT
“It depends who you ask,” Keflezighi said of the U.S. Olympic Trials favorite.
Apr 23, 2015, 9:02 AM EDT
Two Olympic champions appear headed for a second Olympics, while a World champion seeks a first Olympic berth.
Apr 22, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT
Wylie had a “heart abnormality while exercising,” his wife said.
Apr 22, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
Comaneci, the subject of a Katie Holmes-directed documentary, discussed current gymnastics topics.
Apr 22, 2015, 12:21 PM EDT
U.S. Olympic marathon and figure skating medalists are also in the group.
Apr 22, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT
Included are some potential U.S.-Brazil duels.
- Bruce Jenner: I’m a woman; Olympians react 4
- Michael Phelps to move to Arizona with coach Bob Bowman 0
- Simone Biles discusses Martha Karolyi’s team selfie, U.S. teammates, more 0
- Usain Bolt: Tyson Gay’s reduced ban ‘the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard’ 0
- Doug E. Doug reflects on ‘Cool Runnings’ 0
- Nadia Comaneci: Simone Biles’ difficulty is almost equal to men 0
- Ten sports where Brazil can win medals at Rio 2016 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)