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Written by dwight normile    Friday, 14 August 2015 21:03    PDF Print
Mikulak Takes First-Day Lead at P&G Championships
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

One never knows what to expect from Sam Mikulak, and tonight was no exception. After cruising through his first five events with just one minor error, on high bar, he finally cracked on floor exercise, his final event, when he touched a hand after his front-full to randi (2.5 twisting-front). Until that routine, the Mikulak magic was evident. It was on pipe where he made is first mistake, a bent-arm giant following his Takemoto-Yamawaki. But considering his issues with that combination since his 2013 Antwerp worlds debacle, he deserved a pass. While the flub on floor did not cost Mikulak a comfortable first-day lead, it continued a trend that has dogged him for a few years.

"My goal for every competition is to hit six for six," he said. "So I'm going to go into the gym tomorrow and do a bunch of full-randis."

Mikulak had the top scores on vault (15.50) and parallel bars (16.25), and leads Donnell Whittenburg (top rings score, 15.90), 92.00-89.65.

Said Whittenburg: "I think I did pretty well, except for p-bars (he had to muscle a peach-half). I don't know what happened. I'm most excited about getting through my high bar. In practice I can't seem to catch my Cassina."

He caught it this time, and it helped him score a 14.75 on what has been his weak event.

2014 world alternate Paul Ruggeri had an excellent meet to place third with 88.35. He was exceptional on floor exercise (15.35), vault (15.25, half on, handspring double-twisting front) and high bar (15.95, Cassina; half-Takemoto, Tkatchev, Moznik; stuck layout double-double).

"I just feel good," said Ruggeri, who won the 2015 Winter Cup earlier this year. "My main goal is not to let my highs get too high or my lows get too low."

Fourth went to Jonathan Horton (88.30), who had to rally after vault, where his handspring-double front momentum forced him to run right off the podium.

"I just over-juiced it," he said. "I could have easily done the half-out." Horton was referring to the Dragulescu vault he performed a few years ago, but he said his Cypress coach, Tom Meadows, told him to stay with the simpler vault this weekend. The Dragulescu can wait for the Olympic year.

Danell Leyva finished fifth (88.05) but lost two points on floor when he touched the mat after two passes, the second time on his new tucked double-double dismount.

"I don't know why, but I felt my legs getting tired," he said. "I made mistakes I usually don't make."

Leyva made no errors on high bar, where his 16.00 was the top mark on the event.

Local gymnast Alec Yoder finished 20th, but he had the top score on pommels (15.60).

Ranks six through 10 were separated by only 0.80, which will make Sunday's finals all the more thrilling.

For Mikulak, who moved to train at the USOTC three months ago, the goal will be to hit every event, of course. He said he is concentrating more on being an elite gymnast, rather than the happy-go-lucky college guy he once was. He also is working on his mental game, having started meditating a while ago with Michigan teammate Stacey Ervin. (Ervin did only three events here, but he topped the floor rankings with 15.80.)

"I've been focusing on mindfulness, meditative techniques," Mikulak said.

We'll see if they work for him on Sunday.


Jake Dalton will not compete this weekend because of a shoulder injury. Though there is considerable depth in the U.S. men's program, both Dalton and John Orozco (torn Achilles) will be difficult to replace this fall at the Glasgow worlds. Could this finally be Paul Ruggeri's time?

• U.S. national team coordinator Kevin Mazeika was asked if Dalton could petition onto the world team, and he said that option was open. The men's 2015 world team will be announced within 24 hours of Sunday's finals.

• When Jonathan Horton landed his handspring double front, he had so much momentum he ran right off the end of the podium and was caught by the zone judge.

• Oklahoma's Colin Van Wicklen vaulted a cool version of a Dragulescu. He twisted early in his tuck, which made the second somersault look like a Cuervo. On floor he did a tucked Lou Yun.

• The loudest cheers all night were for local gymnast Alec Yoder, who trains at InterActive Academy in Indianapolis.

Written by dwight normile    Thursday, 13 August 2015 20:27    PDF Print
Biles Falters But Still Leads After Day One
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Even with a fall, two-time defending champion Simone Biles (World Champions) took the lead after day one of the P&G Championships in Indianapolis. In the third rotation, Biles nailed her first three tumbling passes (full-twisting double layout, double layout-half and tucked double-double), but she never got into much of a tuck during her closing tucked full-in, and she staggered forward and fell. On vault, however, she stuck her Amanar (16.25) and took a 1.40 lead over Maggie Nichols, 61.100-59.700.

Biles, who is still training in a temporary warehouse until World Champions Centre is completed, said her back handspring was too high on her final tumbling pass.

"I usually don't grab (my knees on the tucked full-in), but I should have grabbed," she said.

Asked if she performed her Amanar as well as she could, she said, "I think so." She vaulted a layout Podkopayeva on her second attempt and said she hopes to be able to add a full twist to it (Cheng Fei).

Biles began her night on uneven bars and posted a 15.150 (6.2), her second-highest score of the meet. On beam, however, she wobbled on her double wolf turn but avoided a fall. She was not so fortunate on floor, but said she will use the mistake to keep her focused on Saturday.

Nichols (Twin City Twisters) continued to impress after her strong showing last year and at the recent U.S. Classic. She scored 15.80 for her well-done Amanar and stuck her double layout off bars. On beam she mounted with a double wolf turn and tossed a barani. Her roundoff to tucked full-in was excellent. Her floor included a tucked double-double, piked and tucked full-ins and a double tuck dismount. All of her routines looked easy for her, which should bode well when the 2015 world team is selected in September.

"I just kind of want to go out there and do my own thing," she said. "I've been having fun with the competition.

Gabby Douglas (Buckeye) went four-for-four to placed third (58.70). She vaulted a clean Yurchenko-double twist in rotation one (15.10) and earned her highest mark of the night on bars (15.30). Beam and floor were not her best, which is why she evaluated her overall effort as "OK."

"I want to do a lot better (on Saturday)," she said, adding that her difficulty level right now is about 60-70 percent of where she wants it to be by next year.

"I don't want to play all my cards at once," she said. "I'm not playing it safe, but kind of."

Aly Raisman (Brestyan's) finished fourth, just 0.05 behind Douglas. She won floor exercise with a 15.550 (1.5 twist through to double Arabian, piked double Arabian, double layout, double pike to split jump that overrotated and forced her to do a quick half turn). On beam, however, she dropped off after a flip-flop, layout, split jump. "It is what it is," she said. "I'm human."

Fifth was Bailie Key (Texas Dreams), who missed last year's P&G Championships because of injury, faced some issues after being out of competition for so long.

"The most difficult part was my growth spurt," she said. "It took a while to get my timing back."

WOGA's Alyssa Baumann finished sixth (57.85), and won beam with a 15.15 (standing Arabian, Onodi, double pike dismount).

Kyla Ross (Gym-Max) was unable to build much momentum tonight, suffering a fall on her double front dismount on bars, and a hand touch on her double tuck dismount on floor exercise. She finished tied for 12th with 56.90.

"Today was a very rough day," she said. "I was happy I made my Pak-full, but the dismount coming up short was a little disappointing."

Saturday will be another day for all of the competitors. And Biles is fully aware that she can't let her guard down. Nichols, on the other hand, really has nothing to lose. Placing second to the two-time world champion is an achievement in itself. And so is beating the 2012 Olympic champion.

Written by dwight normile    Thursday, 13 August 2015 13:51    PDF Print
Foberg Takes First-Day Lead at Junior P&G Championships
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2014 junior champion Jazmyn Foberg posted a 58.350 to take the lead over her MG Elite teammate Lauren Hernandez (57.950) at the P&G Championships in Indianapolis. Foberg's double-twisting Yurchenko on vault earned 15.000 for the top score of the event, and her 14.800 on uneven bars (Maloney-half, Jaeger piked toe-on Tkatchev, Gienger) ranked second behind Hernandez's winning 14.900 (Tkatchev, piked Ricna, Ricna). Foberg showed the most ambitious tumbling on floor (see notes below), but a few weak landings and an out-of-bounds deduction pulled her score down.

"It's really exciting," said Foberg of her position as the defending champion. "I just want to do it again and take it one step at a time. …I'm glad how today turned out."

Hernandez said her victory at the recent U.S. Classic made her "a little bit nervous but more excited." She took a 0.10 zone deduction on her double-twisting Yurchenko and placed second on floor exercise, where her expression and presentation was tops in the field. Beam, her final event, prevented her from finishing on top today.

"I was a little bit shaky on beam," she said, adding that her coach Maggie Haney evaluated her performance as "pretty good." Hernandez took that to mean that there was room for improvement on Saturday.

Short and powerful, Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams finished third with 57.400, which included the top scores on beam (14.500) and floor 14.550). She began the day on uneven bars (Tkatchev, Ricna) and was lucky to save a wayward full pirouette on the low bar. Still, the break resulted in a 13.650. Her beam included a standing piked full and two flip-flops to a double tuck. Her floor,  performed to West Side Story, and included a double layout, 1.5 twist through to triple twist, Arabian double and piked double. She finished her day with a strong double-twisting Yurchenko.

Smith said her goals coming into the weekend were "to hit eight for eight routines and stay calm." And did she stay calm? "I tried to," she said with a laugh.

Jordan Chiles (Naydenov) led after her first two events, vault and bars, but 10th-place finishes on beam and floor left her in fourth (56.700). She had several wobbles on beam, and took a 0.30 out-of-bounds deduction on floor. Chiles said she tried to stay focused after realizing she had the midway lead.

"I'm so proud of myself that I'm still fourth," she said.

Gabby Perea (Legacy Elite) rounded out the top five with 55.950.



• The junior women's field comprises 28 gymnasts. The largest contingent, once again, is Texas Dreams with five, and they started on bars. The next highest is Twin City Twisters with three.

Steve Nunno, former coach of Shannon Miller, is here coaching Emily Gaskins (Palm Beach). No sighting of Peggy Liddick when she got to beam, where Gaskins hit her routine until she fell on her double back dismount.

Christina Desiderio (Parkettes) showed excellent difficulty in her floor tumbling: tucked double-double, 1.5 twist through to double tuck, double layout, double pike (6.0 D-score, 14.30).

• In the same rotation as Desiderio, defending junior all-around champion Jazmyn Foberg (MG Elite) showed the hardest tumbling: full-twisting double layout (knees bent), tucked double-double (knees buckled on landing), tucked full-in, double pike (6.1 D-score, 14.20).

Sydney Johnson-Scharpf's ankles (and heels) are taped exactly how her mother and coach, Brandy Johnson, had hers taped more than two decades ago: tan-colored tape from the base of her toes to well above the ankle.

Deanne Soza (Arete) mounted floor with a very clean tucked full-in (knees together, toes pointed).

• Coolest Name? Trinity Thomas (Prestige). It tumbles gracefully off the tongue. Her gymnastics was pretty cool too. Keep an eye on her.

• Notably Missing: Norah Flatley (Chow's). Texted Chow Liang: "Her foot is not 100%, so I wanted to save her for next year."

Written by dwight normile    Wednesday, 12 August 2015 16:49    PDF Print
Titles On the Line in Indianapolis
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

So here we are in Indianapolis in Bankers Life Fieldhouse — now that has a ring to it — on the eve of the 2015 P&G Championships. Everything has a corporate title nowadays, doesn't it? For the longest time the "nationals" were called the Championships of the USA, which sounded a lot more official. What is a P&G title exactly? Remember the Dial American Cup?

Notably, Indy is home to USA Gymnastics. Its motto is "Begin Here, Go Anywhere." Formerly known as the United States Gymnastics Federation, or USGF, it actually began in a Tucson kitchen and later went to Fort Worth, Texas, which is a big reason why the 1979 World Championships were held there. It was the first worlds in the U.S.

Indianapolis is also home of the NCAA, which is still called the NCAA. After all, selling its naming rights would lead to self-imposed sanctions.

Remember the 1991 Indianapolis World Championships? Inside the sprawling Hoosier Dome — now Lucas Oil Stadium — Kim Zmeskal became the first American to win the world all-around title. And after people harped about home-cooked scoring, she won two of the four gold medals at the first (and should have been the last) Individual World Championships in Paris in 1992. Zmeskal is here with her talented team from Texas Dreams.

The 2015 P&Gs will feature two talented athletes going for a three-peat: Simone Biles and Sam Mikulak. The main difference is that Biles is going for a third straight world title in October. Both the women's and men's battles should be interesting in Indianapolis.

Biles has a pair of 2012 Olympic gold medalists breathing down her neck, or maybe they will just be nipping at her heels. Biles is still the best gymnast on the planet by an orbit or two. But at the recent U.S. Classic (sorry, the Secret U.S. Classic), Gabby Douglas, more so than Aly Raisman, looked pretty good, all things considered. She did not vault an Amanar, but nobody really expected her to at this point. In her first meet back, Douglas actually looked sure of herself on the apparatus, which was rarely the case in the run-up to London 2012. Even at those games, she was hit or miss. She just hit on the right night.

I am looking forward to seeing Raisman again here, because at the Classic she looked labored at times with the difficulty she was attempting. Consistency and really difficult tumbling were her trademarks in 2012. And she should know how hard it can be to make a second Olympics. Her club mate Alicia Sacramone looked incredible four years ago and didn't even make alternate. There just wasn't room on the team. Did Raisman take her place?

What can we expect from Mikulak? Both maddening and magnificent, often in the same routine, he can be a real heartbreaker for fans. He hits the tricky combos and misses the mundane. But he always manages a smile, so that's something we can all learn from him.

Mikulak is not likely to lap the field the way Biles can. He's got Jake Dalton, Donnell Whittenburg and Danell Leyva to contend with. And don't forget Alex Naddour, whose pommel horse brilliance gives him an edge there. He's solid on every other event. If Whittenburg can figure out how to catch his Cassina on high bar, or just add something to that routine, he could be the dominant male in the U.S. Yes, his form is loose, but his amplitude makes up for it. He's the only gymnast here who will finish his Dmitrienko and Dalton well above the p-bars. Without a competitive pommel horse set, Dalton must play catch-up throughout the other five events. But he could win this meet. So could Leyva, who seems to pop up in my Facebook newsfeed every day with another "cleaning up" (insert event) video. He's looking good and hungry again.

Who did I forget? Veteran Jonathan Horton? Newcomer Marvin Kimble?

It all starts tomorrow, and it should be fun.

Written by Amanda Turner    Saturday, 01 August 2015 11:01    PDF Print
Klinckaert Takes Two Titles in Tbilisi
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

All-around silver medalist Axelle Klinckaert (Belgium) won two titles as the 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival concluded Friday and Saturday in Tbilisi, Georgia. Pictured: Russia's Daria Skrypnik (pictured, with Belgian Nina Derwael of Belgium and Russian Anastasia Ilyankova) was the most successful gymnast in Tbilisi with six medals.

All-around silver medalist Axelle Klinckaert (Belgium) won two titles as the 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival concluded Friday and Saturday in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Russia added three more gold medals and Great Britain won two more titles in apparatus finals. The gymnastics competition ended with the Russians on top of the medal standings, with 14 medals (five gold, three silver, six bronze). Great Britain won 10 (4-5-1) and Belgium six (2-3-1).

Russia's Daria Skrypnik was the most successful gymnast in Tbilisi, winning six out of six possible medals. Skrypnik, 14, added a third gold medal on uneven bars, silvers on vault and floor and bronze on balance beam.

Klinckaert was the only double champion in apparatus finals, winning golds on balance beam and floor exercise. Her teammate Nina Derwael finished just .05 behind Skrypnik on uneven bars, taking the silver with an impressive set (Stalder-full, Stalder-Shaposhnikova-half; giant-blind to Jaeger; Hindorff-Pak; Maloney-half; full-twisting double), and won the bronze on floor exercise.

France's Marine Boyer won the gold on vault over Skrypnik, with both gymnasts vaulting a double-twisting and single-twisting Yurchenko. Russian Yelena Yeryomina won the bronze with 1-1/2- and full-twisting Yurchenkos.

In the men's competition, Great Britain added two more gold medals. Youth Olympic Games champion Giarnni Regini-Moran bounced back from his all-around disappoint to take the gold medal on floor exercise and silver medals on vault and high bar. Teammate Joe Fraser, the all-around champion, won the gold on parallel bars, silver on pommel horse and bronze on still rings.

The Russian men also took two gold medals from Alexander Sychugov on pommel horse and all-around silver medalist Maxim Sinichkin on still rings.

Belarusian Yahor Sharamkou vaulted to the gold over Regini-Moran and Georgia's Dmitry Govorov, who brought a bronze to the host country. Moreno Kratter ended the competition with the gold medal on high bar for Switzerland.

The biennial multisport event gathers Europe's top young talents, with more than 3,000 athletes competing in Tbilisi. The 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival was awarded to Győr, Hungary.

External Link: Official Website

2015 European Youth Olympic Festival
July 31-August 1, Tbilisi, Georgia

Women's Vault FinalDENDScoreAverage
1.Marine Boyer5.88.55014.35014.275
2.Daria Skrypnik5.88.55014.35014.100
3.Yelena Yeryomina5.38.80014.10014.000
4.Zsófia Kovács5.08.95013.95013.800
5.Marie Skammelsen5.08.80013.80013.800
6.Tabea Alt5.09.10014.10013.675
7.Maisie Methuen5.08.70013.70013.625
8.Livia Schmid5.08.7000.113.60013.600

Uneven Bars FinalDENDScore
1.Daria Skrypnik6.48.45014.850
2.Nina Derwael6.28.60014.800
3.Anastasia Ilyankova6.28.50014.700
4.Diana Varinska6.18.55014.650
5.Tabea Alt6.28.10014.300
6.Florine Harder5.68.05013.650
7.Zsófia Kovács5.96.95012.850
8.Emmy Haavisto5.27.00012.200

Balance Beam FinalDENDScore
1.Axelle Klinckaert5.98.05013.950
2.Maisie Methuen5.28.45013.650
3.Daria Skrypnik5.57.25012.750
4.Martina Maggio5.67.05012.650
5.Nina Derwael5.56.70012.200
6.Ioana Crişan5.76.40012.100
7.Zsófia Kovács5.36.55011.850
8.Anastasia Ilyankova5.46.35011.750

Women's Floor Exercise FinalDENDScore
1.Axelle Klinckaert5.58.60014.100
2.Daria Skrypnik5.58.40013.900
3.Nina Derwael5.38.45013.750
4.Juliette Bossu5.48.35013.750
5.Tabea Alt5.48.30013.700
6.Yelena Yeryomina5.28.40013.600
7.Olivia Cîmpean5.68.00013.600
8.Martina Maggio5.08.35013.350

Men's Floor Exercise FinalDENDScore
1.Giarnni Regini-Moran5.88.90014.700
2.Hamish Carter5.38.80014.100
3.Krisztián Boncser5.38.75014.050
4.Kjell Vanstrom5.18.70013.800
5.Iliaz Pyncket4.88.85013.650
6.Baptiste Miette5.28.20013.400
7.Moreno Kratter5.37.50012.800
8.Maxim Ivanov4.47.2000.411.200

Pommel Horse FinalDENDScore
1.Alexander Sychugov5.59.20014.700
2.Joe Fraser5.88.40014.200
3.Lorenzo Galli5.09.00014.000
4.Giarnni Regini-Moran5.28.50013.700
5.Hamza Yılmaz4.88.85013.650
6.Stefano Patron4.78.90013.600
7.Carlo Hoerr4.47.20011.600
8.Mher Tudoyan3.25.1008.300

Still Rings FinalDENDScore
1.Maxim Sinichkin4.99.25014.150
2.Nick Klessinj5.28.90014.100
3.Joe Fraser5.09.05014.050
4.Hamza Yılmaz5.38.70014.000
5.Eduard Yermakov5.48.60014.000
6.Artyom Arnaut4.89.05013.850
7.Giarnni Regini-Moran4.78.90013.600
8.Artur Avetisyan4.26.85011.050

Men's Vault FinalDENDScoreAverage
1.Yahor Sharamkou5.29.0000.114.10014.400
2.Giarnni Regini-Moran5.69.0500.314.35014.400
3.Dmitry Govorov5.68.20013.80014.150
4.Hamish Carter5.29.3500.114.45014.075
5.Silas Kipfer5.29.20014.40014.050
6.Joel Plata5.29.40014.60014.025
7.Krisztián Boncser5.69.05014.65013.775
8.Luca Garza5.29.1000.314.00013.275

Parallel Bars FinalDENDScore
1.Joe Fraser5.49.20014.600
2.Eduard Yermakov5.98.55014.450
3.Kevin Carvalho5.19.10014.200
4.Ilias Georgiou4.89.30014.100
5.Maxim Sinichkin5.48.60014.000
6.Andreas Gribi5.38.55013.850
7.Moreno Kratter4.88.80013.600
8.Baptiste Miette5.17.95013.050

High Bar FinalDENDScore
1.Moreno Kratter5.58.55014.050
2.Giarnni Regini-Moran4.79.15013.850
3.Lorenzo Galli5.08.80013.800
4.Artyom Arnaut5.48.20013.600
5.Iliaz Pyncket4.68.95013.550
6.Joe Fraser5.08.20013.200
7.Luca Garza4.28.75012.950
8.Krisztián Boncser4.77.60012.300

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