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Shawn Johnson Best in Boston
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
Shawn Johnson

Shawn Johnson (Chow's) led the senior women's field at the first day of the 2008 Visa [U.S.] Championships, held Thursday in Boston.

Johnson, the defending champion, scored a 63.450 to 62.300 from Nastia Liukin (WOGA) and 61.050 from Chellsie Memmel (M&M).

Johnson reached 16.000 on three events, and had the top scores of the day on vault (Yurchenko 2 1/2; 16.000) and floor (tucked double-double mount; 16.050). She hit her usual bar set (high Jaeger and Gienger, layout double-double dismount) for 15.400, and had her only error of the night on beam. She stuck her two-foot layout series and standing full without a waver, but landed low and took a big step forward on her full-in dismount. She still managed a 16.000, even with the mistake.

Johnson admitted to being a bit nervous during the competition, especially during vault. "I just told myself to stay calm," she said. "When I made it I didn't even care about the step I was so happy to land it. It was a huge confidence booster."

Liukin started her competition with a fall on her double front second pass on floor (14.250), but stuck her Yurchenko 1 1/2 on vault (14.900) and scored the best mark of the day with a gigantic 17.050 on uneven bars.

"I felt really on tonight on bars," she said afterward. "Just about every skill stopped right in the handstand. The only mistake was that I wasn't expecting to flip that fast on my dismount, so I just have to get better on the landing."

Liukin also received the highest beam score (16.100) with an aerial to flip flop, layout series, a side somi, and a front aerial to Arabesque.

Memmel was thrilled to be third, in her first major all-around competition in nearly two years. She scored a 16.000 on bars (Hindorf-Pak combination, reverse hecht, jam to double front dismount) and a 16.050 on beam (piked barani). She also hit her Arabian double pike opening pass for a 15.100 on floor.

Though Memmel only did a Yurchenko-full on vault, that was all a part of the strategy. "Doing a simpler vault took the pressure off, and let me focus on the other three events," she explained. She plans to add her Yurchenko 1 1/2 back in, possibly for day two of the competition.

In fourth was Samantha Peszek (DeVeau's) who had a very consistent day, highlighted by a 15.400 on beam (standing full to back pike combination). Jana Bieger (Bieger International) had the fifth-best total of the day, while Ivana Hong (GAGE) is in sixth.

Shayla Worley, second at the 2007 U.S. Championships, scratched the competition with a sore back and will reportedly petition to the U.S. Olympic Trials, June 19-22 in Philadelphia.

The seniors compete again on Saturday to determine the all-around and event champions and the 12 qualifiers to Olympic Trials.

Click here to download complete results.

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