As competition day of the 2015 Secret U.S Classic came to an end in Chicago, Illinois on the the 25th July 2015, a few thoughts raced through my mind. A few of those thoughts were positive and some were…not so positive. While it was easy to conclude that 2012 Olympians Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman were in fact making a legit comeback after watching the competition and it was also easy to conclude that the USA will most definitely be the dominant force in women’s artistic for the coming year, I also witnessed some things that made me feel a little uneasy to say the least.
So in order to vent (albeit a belated vent) I am compiling a list of the great things that graced the television (or computer screens) of thousands on 25th of July 2015 and the not so great things that graced our screens (although secretly I think everything is great because it’s Gymnastics).
First up! MYKAYLA SKINNER’S FLOOR….
First of all I am an avid fan of Celtic themed floor routines (shoutout to 2000 Olympic champion and 1999 World Floor Exercise Champion Andreea Raducan of ROM, who danced her way to the top of the medal podium and into the world’s hearts dancing to the sounds of Riverdance… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImzjkVyImJ8
Although I really really tried to love MyKayla’s routine and over the past few years have really grown to love MyKayla as a gymnast and begun to admire how much hard work she has contributed to improve her gymnastics in a short space of time, I just cringed a little at the floor routine.
Firstly, the tumbling was a struggle to watch. Each pass seemed to be a struggle for MyKayla to complete, culminating in a fall on the last pass…a double tuck, a skill that a gymnast like MyKayla who is a floor specialist, who placed 4th in the FX final at the 2014 World Championships, who can successfully complete a double twisting double back in the laid out position should be able to do in her sleep. It was disappointing to watch but moreover it was scary to watch.
Secondly, THE MUSIC!! As afore stated, I adore Celtic music and Celtic themed floor routines, like that I am also a fan of Dominic Zito and his choreography, so on paper this floor routine is a match made in heaven for me. But in reality it is most definitely a match made in Gymnastics hell. I am not one to promote the classic balletic style of WOGA and Russian gymnasts who are hell bent on only ever giving a gymnast music with violin instrumentals, however there is some music that just shouldn’t EVER be used for floor music…and ‘Scotland the Brave’ remixed is one of them. I realise that MyKayla is thinking long term towards the World Championships in Glasgow later this year, which I accept, however to add fuel to already burning fire of cringe, in her latest interview, MyKayla stated that she had a green shamrock leotard ready for the P&G Championships to match her floor routine…um that’s nice MyKayla but unfortunately the Shamrock is an emblem of IRELAND…not Scotland…perhaps you should wear something more along the lines of this…
So as you can see…this floor routine and everything surrounding it is just WRONG in so many ways, not to mention that unless MyKayla is planning on getting a new floor routine for 2016, she’s clearly not thinking about Rio, unlike Gabby Douglas who has pretty much stamped her passport and bought her airplane ticket with her funky, energetic floor routine, which is very “Rio” although I do have a few gripes about Gabby and her floor woes…but that’s for another day.
Secondly.. Floor Exercise in general
Can we call it the Laurie Hernandez effect? Just before watching MyKayla’s floor routine, I sat in front of my computer screen smiling and thinking to myself, praise the Lord for Maggie Haney and Laurie Hernandez. I was in awe at the floor routines the US gymnasts were displaying and was really enjoying the direction in which the floor routine trends are headed for this quadrennium. The trend of sound effects is my absolute favourite and the fact that gymnasts, choreographers and coaches alike feel that it’s ok for the gymnasts to make over the top facial expressions, or facial expressions at all is absolutely fantastic. Laurie’s, Bailie’s and Simone’s, with Simone’s being the highlight of course were three of my favourites. How could you not love a playful cat purr!?
Although I thank Maggie and Laurie for introduction of facial expressions into US gymnast’s floor routines, and to a certain extent sound effects, it is Gabby Douglas’, although horrific floor routine from 2012, and furthermore Katelyn Ohashi’s stunning 2013 routine that we have to thank for vocals being introduced into the US gymnastics scene, shoutout to Katelyn who has just started in UCLA, may you continue to be a leader and set trends in your NCAA career…
Every quadrennium there is trends, some floor routine styles become trendy and are good, such as facial expressions and sound effects..and some moves become trendy and are not so good, such as the addition of leaps at the end of tumbling passes which became a thing during the 2012 quad, and are still lingering for this quad. However a new trend has swept the US Gymnastics scene, and is probably sweeping the international gymnastics scene as we speak. Sometimes these trends happen because of the effect of one gymnast and sometimes its due to a change in the code of points. I’m unsure as to the reason behind the latest trend, it could be Elfi Schlegel’s love of Sarah Finnegan’s wolf turn in 2012, or because of a code of points change, or because of Lauren Mitchell, the mastermind behind leaps at the end of tumbling passes and the mastermind behind the triple wolf turn…who knows, all I know is it needs to be stopped.
Some gymnasts are opting for a single wolf turn like Bailie Key on beam, some are opting for a double, such as Grace Quinn on beam and others are being totally daring, like Simone and competing a 2 1/2 turn, on beam…or on floor. The fact that the move can be done on two separate apparatus is even more terrifying, next thing we’ll be seeing bar dismounts with a wolf turn added onto the end, just for that extra tenth!
This is just a trend that needs to be stopped immediately. It is a hard move to successfully complete, and although it may look easy and it may be easy to kind of get the hang of, the simple fact is, and it is something I admire about the Gym-Max coaches and Kyla Ross is that unless you have mastered a skill, it should not be competed, and from watching the Secret Classic only two gymnasts really mastered wolf turns..Simone Biles and Nia Dennis…and maybe a few who did single turns. Grace Quinn’s in particular broke my heart, partially because I love her and want to see her succeed.
So clearly, there was ups and downs at the Secret Classic. However it definitely bodes well for a stellar P&G Championships, World Championships and 2016! As far as P&G Championships are concerned I really do hope that we don’t see as many wolf turns, please God help grant my wishes, I also hope that MyKayla see’s the errors of her ways and doesn’t wear the shamrock green leotard and I also hope that we see a better Kyla Ross, who had me very excited prior to the competition with bar upgrades and then had me a little more like this watching her during the competition…
Also, I hope that we see more of Nia Dennis, who could’ve not competed at the Classic and it would’ve gone unnoticed. I really hope to see her compete AA, and do well with Legacy Elite. Adding to my list of best wishes are Maggie Nichols, who although having been on the scene for a while, really made a splash at the Classic and is most definitely on everybody’s radar now. Ragan Smith is also a gymnast who has been on the scene for a while but really cemented herself into the view of the National team staff, media and public at the Classics with a second place finish in the junior division.
All in all, it was a warm up meet that felt like he main event, which means the main event will be even better, gymnastics fans across the world are ready and waiting and I have a feeling that this weekend will be a good weekend! May all the gymnasts perform to the best of their abilities and succeed as they wish! The P&G Championships will take place from August 13th-16th in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Thursday, August 13
- 1:00 pm – Jr. Women’s Competition – Day 1
- 7:00 pm – Sr. Women’s Competition – Day 1
Friday, August 14
- 1:00 pm – Jr. Men’s Competition – Day 1
- 7:00 pm – Sr. Men’s Competition – Day 1
Saturday, August 15
- 1:00 pm – Jr. Women’s Competition – Final Day
- 7:30 pm – Sr. Women’s Competition – Final Day
Sunday, August 16
- 1:30 pm – Sr. Men’s Competition – Final Day
- 7:30 pm – Jr. Men’s Competition – Final Day