The 2014 Senior Pan American Championships continued in Mississauga, Canada, on Sunday August 31 with vault and uneven bar apparatus finals.
The USA added two more golds and one silver to their collection here, as MyKayla Skinner easily won the vault title while Ashton Locklear and Madison Kocian topped the podium in first and second place, respectively, on bars.
Cuba picked up the silver and bronze medals on vault thanks to Yesenia Ferrera and Dovelis Torres, while Mexico’s Ahtziri Sandoval earned a bronze on bars, bringing in her country’s second medal of the meet after team bronze on Saturday.
1. MyKayla Skinner, United States, 15.037
I love watching Skinner’s progression in an elite season because she truly gets better with each competition. Though her Cheng here had pretty much the same block we always see, it was mostly clean in the air and she landed it well with just a hop back to earn a 15.2. Her DTY looked super clean and stretched throughout, though she also landed with just a small hop for a 14.875.
2. Yesenia Ferrera, Cuba, 14.400
Ferrera unfortunately got started on vault with a fall, crashing her handspring Rudi to her knees on what looked like a fluke. I’m not sure if she just didn’t get the block she needed, but it looked like she just had very little control here, earning just a 14.15. She got some nice retaliation on her Tsuk double full, however, looking solid from start to finish for a 14.65.
3. Dovelis Torres, Cuba, 14.112
Torres’ approach on the DTY looked weak to me, and she came down very low off the table but still managed to hit with a step back for a 14.375. Her second vault – a handspring tuck full – wasn’t very difficult, but she hit it with no major problems to earn a 13.85.
4. Maegan Chant, Canada, 13.962
Poor Chant just can’t seem to catch a medal break, just missing out both here and at the Commonwealth Games last month. Her first vault was a Tsuk full, which looked solid but unfortunately doesn’t boast a very high start value, so she was able to bring in just a 13.975 here. Her handspring front layout half was very piked throughout, though she was credited with the layout. Still, her execution was relatively low for a hit vault, and she managed only a 13.95 here.
5. Isabelle Cruz, Brazil, 13.887
Though the Yurchenko 1.5 performed by Cruz lacks in difficulty, it definitely made up for this in its form. It was a very clean effort, and I believe was the only vault to earn over 9 in execution, bringing her to a 14.325 to get started. Her handspring front pike half wasn’t quite as clean, but she hit for a 13.45.
6. Paula Mejias, Puerto Rico, 13.812
I believe Mejias was supposed to come in with a handspring front tuck full, but she competed it in finals with just a half twist, greatly decreasing her difficulty. She didn’t execute it very well either, though possibly because she got a bit rattled in her attempt; she earned a 13.025. Her second vault was the big Tsuk double full – an oddly popular vault here! – which actually looked relatively fantastic, bringing in a 14.6.
7. Alexa Moreno, Mexico, 13.450
Poor Alexa. She just looked exhausted in this final, crashing both vaults seemingly without even trying to stand up the landings because both looked like lost causes from the very start. Both her handspring Rudi and Tsuk double full earned just a 13.45, putting her in 7th place despite sharing the highest combination of difficulty in the competition with Skinner and Ferrera. I felt bad – she looked to be in tears after competing and still had to go hit a bar routine.
8. Nicolle Vazquez, Puerto Rico, 13.000
Like Chant, Vazquez also did her handspring layout half very piked but didn’t get downgraded. Instead, also like Chant, her execution took a slight hit, and she got a 13.825. She finished with a DTY, which she initially balked. When she did finally attempt it, she looked very messy in the air and then put her hands down to steady her landing, earning only a 12.175.
UNEVEN BARS FINALS
1. Ashton Locklear, United States, 14.975
International judges clearly see something in Locklear that the U.S. judges do not, as her execution has seemed remarkably low this week compared to her domestic scoring last week and at the U.S. Classic. The routines look the same to me, but I think the international judges have it right – she does have lots of ankle separation. Maybe domestic judges couldn’t see it, but from my angle at nationals it was my biggest focus and I truly could not understand her scores.
For this routine, she didn’t connect the inbar full to the remaining five skills in her connection series, but leg separation aside, everything looked good. There was a slight form break on the inbar half before her straddle Jaeger, but she stuck her full-out pretty much perfectly. Initially the judges gave her just a 6.1 start value but an inquiry was filed and she was awarded her full amount to edge Kocian back down to silver. Gym nerds have speculated that it was her inbar full not receiving credit.
2. Madison Kocian, United States, 14.825
Kocian showed her gorgeous and fluid stalder work, looking as fantastic as it usually does. Her piked Jaeger looked good, she finished her stalder full right on top of the bar, and she took just a step on her dismount. Like Locklear, she built execution deductions here that they just didn’t see in the U.S. which is kind of scary in a way. If the U.S. is counting on all of these 15+ uneven bar routines and then shows up at Worlds to earn over a half point lower, it could really mess with their heads!
3. Ahtziri Sandoval, Mexico, 13.100
This was a nice surprise for bronze, as I was expecting Jessica Lopez to take it no problem, but her falls unfortunately knocked her down. Sandoval showed a nice Maloney to bail, toe full, Gienger, toe on, el grip work, and a full-in with a stumble back. It wasn’t the most beautiful routine, but it was steady and hit, and nice to see another individual from Mexico picking up some international glory!
4. Leticia Costa, Brazil, 13.075
Costa’s bars routine was one of my ‘must watch’ routines going into the Pan Am Championships, and for good reason! Though she had some form issues here, she still managed to hit, though unfortunately fell out of medal contention by just 0.025. She had leg separation on her bail, caught the straddle Jaeger really close, and hopped her double front forward, but overall it’s something I think she can put together nicely to help the team out here at Worlds.
5. Alexa Moreno, Mexico, 13.025
Though she didn’t have the issues on bars that she had on vault, Moreno rushed through this somewhat messy routine, working as quickly as Beth Tweddle but not quite working with her ability. Her clear hip to van Leeuwen was solid, she had a great Deltchev, and her double layout was low but surprisingly landed well, just bouncing in place. A nice revenge routine after vault, though it would be nice to see some attention to her swing. She just looks like she’s working so hard! Which…she obviously is, but we’re not supposed to see that effort!
6. Marcela Sandoval, Colombia, 12.675
This was a routine riddled with form deductions, mostly due to leg separations. Her Tkatchev was a bit low, but she hit a decent bail to Ray. The routine was capped off with a full-in dismount stumbled forward. Not anything to write home about, but it was nice seeing Colombia get a spot in this final.
7. Jessica Lopez, Venezuela, 12.175
Lopez was such a bummer here…you could tell she wanted so badly to impress and it was just getting to her and making her frustrated. She hit her piked Jaeger but arched over on a handstand after her pak salto and had to hop off. She was supposed to do a giant full to Tkatchev to Gienger, if I remember correctly, but she fell on the Tkatchev, unfortunately. She hit her double front with just a step but finished about two full points less than she did in qualifications. Just a shame! It’s such a jam-packed routine and I love that she does every release under the sun.
8. Maria Cecilia Cruz, Brazil, 11.075
As the first one up, Cruz didn’t have a very strong outing here. She hit her bail, but back on the high bar she lost her swing after not making the handstand over on the blind change. She then kind of got lost in the routine and it was just a matter of time before she fell. It happened on her piked Jaeger, and then she hit her double front dismount with a step.
Article by Lauren Hopkins