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Bross Leads Hong at U.S. Championships
(41 votes, average 2.39 out of 5)

IG Editor Dwight Normile blogs from the 2009 Visa (U.S.) Gymnastics Championships in Dallas, where the women began competition Thursday.

DALLAS — A senior women's field of 19 gymnasts, some of whom did not compete on all four events, was proof of how difficult it is to reach the elite level — and to remain there.

Shawn Johnson and Alicia Sacramone were the only two retired members of the 2008 U.S. women's Olympic team — Sacramone has announced her comeback; Johnson hasn't committed either way — and of the remaining four, only Bridget Sloan competed in the all-around.

With such a limited field, there was a definite lack of drama and energy in the air compared with a year ago, when so much was at stake. Nastia Liukin's return to competition was highly anticipated, but she did not compete on bars, even though she warmed up the event prior to the meet. She did perform on beam, much to the delight of the crowd. Liukin executed with great caution most of her Olympic routine (front aerial, flip-flop, layout; Onodi, sheep jump; side somi; switch ring leap) and even added a side aerial. She dismounted with a roundoff double twist and scored 14.45 (5.6 difficulty).


Rebecca Bross (WOGA)

Nastia's father and coach, Valeri Liukin, told IG earlier this summer that his daughter would not compete at worlds unless she was ready. And although this routine was clearly not Nastia's best, it showed enough progress to make London a possibility.

"To be able to compete here (at home) was so cool," said Liukin, who later explained her one-event showing. "I'm just not ready to perform yet. It's a step-by-step process."

Hidden beneath the great expectations was the battle among Sloan, Rebecca Bross and Ivana Hong, each of whom had something to prove. For Sloan, the lone Olympian among the trio, a victory would mean her assumption of the top rank in the country. For Bross, a former junior champion who has been slowed by injuries, a win would confirm her successful jump to the senior ranks. And for Hong, the title would validate her post-Olympic move from Great American to WOGA, as well as a realization of her immense potential.

Of the three, only Hong avoided a fall, but she did have a few minor bobbles. Sloan dropped off beam on a tour jete-half, and Bross sat down her Arabian double front off beam, but the final results showed Bross on top with 58.55. Lacking the difficulty of the leader, Hong finished second with 58.20, and Sloan was third at 57.70.

Kytra Hunter (Hill's) was the best of the rest in fourth, her powerful tumbling serving her well on beam and floor.

Samantha Peszek, who has a torn labrum, competed well on vault, beam and floor, while Jana Bieger struggled throughout, with falls on vault, beam and floor. Chellsie Memmel, who said she is just beginning her comeback after ankle surgery, competed only on beam and scored 13.80. She was using this meet as a test to see if her comeback would continue, and she told IG she was leaning toward staying in the sport instead of going to school. "College will always be there," she said with a smile.

With the national title on the line Saturday night, we can only hope for a little more buzz in the air. And though Liukin won't be in the running for the all-around gold, she hinted of her plans for the coming months.

"Hopefully, I'll make worlds and do bars and beam," she said.

Cool Skills...

  • Kytra Hunter (Hill's), Rebecca Bross (WOGA): roundoff, tucked Arabian double front off beam (Patterson). Bross fell.
  • MacKenzie Caquatto (Naperville): half turn on chest on beam
  • Of the double-twisting Yurchenkos on vault, Bridget Sloan's (Sharp's) was the cleanest.
  • Sloan: toe-on piked Tkatchev
  • Georgia Dabritz (Ace): Comaneci between the bars

Notes...

  • The top 10 all-around finishers after both days of competition will qualify for the national team, provided that they have attained an average all-around score of 54.00.
  • Jana Bieger and Bridget Sloan replaced their ponytails with buns.
  • WOGA's shimmering plum leotards were subtle yet interesting.
  • The arena was far from packed tonight (7,523), despite the presence of hometown gymnast Nastia Liukin, whose image can be seen all around town on advertisements
  • Olivia Courtney, winner of the Cover Girl Classic, injured her ankle prior to the Visa Championships

Click here for detailed results.

Comments (12)add comment

GymFan8 said:

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Come on IG. Why are you calling what Nastia did as on the right track?

She bobbled through that routine, short cheated her sheep jump, didn't connect her aerial back handspring layout and did a double twist as a dismount.

If you call that being on the right track then this magazine has gone further down hill then I thought.

I know you are friends with Nastia's dad but that should not cloud your judgment like this.

=
 
August 13, 2009
Votes: +1

caligymnast said:

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Who told you Shawn retired???
What are you talking about??!! Shawn is NOT retired!!! She's just taking a break. Please check the fact before writing anything!!
 
August 13, 2009
Votes: +0

alexandrite said:

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gymfan8, why are you so critical to nastia and the magazine. considering that this is the year after the olympics she just competed in, and all the traveling she's been doing, nastia has had hardly any time at all in the gym, thus on top of everything else she's out of shape for what she's used to. she is not where she wants to be yet, and she knows it and most everyone else does to, but apparently you don't. she didn't have the greatest routine, but all things considered in terms of training time and such, she IS on the right track, and she'll continue to improve and get better from here. no one's judgement is being clouded here.
 
August 14, 2009
Votes: -2

empress said:

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Honestly, it's pathetic. Nobody - NOBODY - in the media can put down the kool-aid long enough to stop the Nastia hype and be honest. Lets be clear here Nastia got beat for years by the reining World and National champion who also beat Nastia in the event finals in the Olympics and Nastia wins once and she needs to be deified because she made it back for one sorry beam routine. USAG and NBC/Universals treatment and dismissal of Shawn Johnson in order to manufacture an icon is deplorable.
 
August 14, 2009
Votes: -3

KLMNCSU said:

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Nastia is what a true Olympic Champion should be...a graceful, beautiful, artistic gymnast. What Nastia did last year was win the gold medal she was so deserving of ,instead of a gymnast who focused on difficulty instead of the artistic quality of the sport. The judges in Beijing finally gave notice to the type of gymnast they wanted to be Olympic Champion. Nastia coming back doing what she truly loves is poignant in a sport where gymnasts come and go like the wind. I would love to see her go for a World Medal b/c she truly represents what gymnastics should be. People need to quit knocking her for winning the Olympic Gold Medal over someone who was half the gymnast she was. Nastia is deserving of every accolade she receives. GO NASTIA!!!
 
August 14, 2009
Votes: -1

Sonjia said:

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Nastia is AMAZING, period. Yes she markets herself and all that but that's a part of sports today. Look at Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Mia Hamm etc.

NASTIA

YOU

RULE!
 
August 14, 2009
Votes: -4

SW said:

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empress, you said it all
 
August 14, 2009
Votes: -1

Quentin said:

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Can someone explain what the neutral deduction was for Bridget's vault?
 
August 14, 2009
Votes: +0
..., Low-rated comment [Show]

alexandrite said:

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hey empress, to say shawn beat nastia every time out but once is quite misleading because first of all, nastia beat her at the american cup. secondly, nastia had a huge injury she was coming back from for most of the time they were competing against each other that i guess you missed the memo on, so she wasn't healthy until 08 anyhow. and yes, shawn would beat her more often, but shawn is an extremely consistent gymnast, which is a great quality obviously and counts for a lot. however, when they both hit, nastia would win no question.
 
August 16, 2009
Votes: +0

Gel said:

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Shawn is an all around gymnast coz she's really excellent in 3 out of 4 event. Nastia is a bar specialist and a little bit of beam too. Now, you guys judge who should be AA gymnast.
 
August 18, 2009
Votes: -5

Lindsay said:

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Um, please. Nastia is the ONLY gymnast who medaled in THREE event finals at the '08 Olympics. She was the most complete AA gymnast in the field and gorgeous on all 4 events (perfect, stuck vault in AA Finals).

It's a HUGE shame that the delusional Shawn Johnson fans insist on bashing Nastia to help them cope with their disappointment of Shawn disappearing from the gymnastics scene almost as quickly as she arrived.

News flash, Shawn wasn't in this meet and likely will never compete again. So why even bring her up during a Nationals discussion? I am truly sorry that your favorite gymnast no longer does gymnastics, but bashing a gymnast who still competes and is trying to achieve even more in the sport isn't going to make Shawn come back! Move on and pick a new favorite.
 
August 19, 2009
Votes: +3

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