The 2014 Senior Pan American Championships concluded in Mississauga, Canada, on Monday September 1 with the balance beam and floor exercise apparatus finals.
1. Ana Sofia Gomez, Guatemala, 14.450
I first fell in love with Sofi at the Pan Am Championships in 2010, so this felt like a very fitting win for me. As Kyle Shewfelt said on the broadcast, her bhs to tuck full that begins the routine should be in the FIG guide for how skills should look. It was textbook. She had a wobble on her side somi and had to jump her feet together on her double pike dismount, but overall it was a fantastic routine.
2. Jessica Lopez, Venezuela, 14.100
The absolute best part of this routine from Lopez was the gorgeous floaty switch half. We live in a world where switch leaps with half twists are cheated with most splits way below 180 degrees, but this one got great amplitude and looked so effortless. Her leg came up when she landed her bhs bhs layout, she didn’t connect the front aerial to side aerial, and she lunged the 2.5 forward, yet even with the mistakes she still made it look gorgeous.
3. Julie Sinmon, Brazil, 14.000
I was looking forward to this routine because she did it so well in Brazil but I wanted to see how it would be received internationally. She did a fantastic job here, though unlike Lopez getting all of my high fives for her switch half, hers was only at about 90 degrees today. Still, that aside, her bhs loso was great, she had a nice punch front tuck to wolf jump to split jump, and she landed her double pike dismount with just a tiny hop. Overall, it was definitely a cleaner routine than Lopez’s but Lopez had a pinch more difficulty and a lot more finesse.
4T. Madison Kocian, United States, 13.825
Unfortunately, this was a very messy routine for Kocian, who performed it SO well in qualifications and probably could have earned gold. She started out great with a standing arabian that was probably the best I’ve seen from her all summer. She broke the connection between her front aerial and sheep jump, her legs looked a bit wonky on her bhs loso, there was a check on her side aerial, and she took a step on her double pike, so it was definitely not a solid outing, unfortunately. Her split to sissone was lovely, however, and I think if Laurent can drill a bit more confidence into her, this could potentially be a team finals-worthy beam routine?
4T. Yesenia Ferrera, Cuba, 13.825
Ferrera hit this routine the way she hit most of her routines in Canada – awesomely. There were definitely form issues and a few checks (like on her bhs loso and switch half) but there’s so much to love in this routine, like her super high sheep jump and the awesome lunge she does into a split for her low beam choreography. She missed a connection between her switch to side aerial and took a step back on the double pike, but overall it was a nice routine.
6. Ayelen Tarabini, Argentina, 13.550
The best thing about Tarabini’s routine was her amplitude on her leaps, like her powerful switch half at the start of her routine. She had a check on her side aerial and her leg form was rough on her bhs loso, but she landed her double pike well and showed that this is definitely a promising routine for Argentina, not typically known for producing top caliber gymnasts.
7. MyKayla Skinner, United States, 13.475
Skinner qualified into this final in 8th place and only then because Maggie Nichols withdrew due to her knee injury. I wasn’t expecting a medal for her, especially knowing her focus had to be on floor an hour later. This definitely wasn’t her best routine, as it was full of wobbles but she also showed yet again just how consistent she is – she has competed 15 routines in the past week between the two days of P&G Championships and then qualifications and event finals at Pan Ams (19 routines if you consider the fact that she does two vaults).
Though not all have been pretty, she is the definition of a fighter. Her bhs to tuck full here should have been a fall, but it wasn’t. She fought like hell to save it and somehow managed to stay on. She missed the connection between her switch half to back tuck, but another bonus – her switch half is no longer around 90 degrees! If I had to guess, I’d say it was around 150 or 160 – progress. She had a check on her back pike and hit her double tuck with a hop but in the end I’d say she was just happy to stay on. Good for her – she’s not going to Worlds for beam anyway, but if Martha is desperate, she knows she can rely on Skinner.
8. Daniele Hypolito, Brazil, 12.725
Poor Daniele…this has really not been her week. She started out with a weak switch ring leap, and then didn’t get enough amplitude out of the bhs bhs into the layout, causing her to fall short and hop off the beam. Her turn was lovely and her split jump to side somi was cool, if slowly connected. She then attempted a switch to wolf jump, but balked the wolf jump after the switch leap and had to repeat it. She finished her routine with a lunge back on her double pike dismount.
1. MyKayla Skinner, United States, 14.750
Skinner had no problem becoming champion here, performing one of her better floor routines and picking up a nice high 14 even with the tight scoring that’s been going on in Mississauga all week. If she can hit like this at Worlds, she’ll definitely have a chance to challenge for the podium. She hit her double double layout, just bouncing slightly on the landing. Her double double looked stuck to me, there was a small hop on her full-in, and she took a step forward on her 1.5 through to 2.5. Though I didn’t love her floor music at first, I have to admit it’s growing on me, especially as I’ve gotten used to the choreography.
2. Jessica Lopez, Venezuela, 14.475
This was a fantastic routine for Lopez, who performed a great whip to triple full (just hopped back the landing slightly), a 2.5 to front layout, and a double pike. I remember seeing her at the American Cup in 2010 and thinking wow, she has gotten SO much better with age! Four years later, I say the same thing again…and I have a feeling I’ll be saying it again in 2018. Brava! Venezuela is so lucky to call her one of their own.
3. Yesenia Ferrera, Cuba, 14.400
It’s criminal that Cuba doesn’t let their gymnasts compete at Worlds. Ferrera became a bit of a hipster fan favorite at the Festival Deportivo Panamericano in July, but now she’s definitely gone global and there’s no doubt why. Her full-in double layout was awesome, as were her double layout (though it was perhaps a bit piked…), 2.5 to front full, and near-stuck double tuck. She has so much talent and energy, I wish we could see more from her. With more international experience, she could definitely be a major threat.
4. Daniele Hypolito, Brazil, 14.000
Again, like I said…just not Daniele’s week. It’s kind of like Laura Jurca at the Youth Olympic Games, either falling or placing one spot out of medal contention when she hit solid routines. Hypolito wasn’t perfect here but showed off a great routine that included a 2.5 to front layout, a 1.5 to front full, a double tuck, and a stuck double pike. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the difficulty that higher-placing routines had, but she definitely deserves a consolation prize for still being awesome at this level.
5. Isabelle Cruz, Brazil, 13.250
As the first one up, this routine was neither hit or miss for me…the full-in to start was nice to see, but the rest was rather easy, with just a 1.5 to front full and double tuck with a step back her remaining passes. Easy, but clean and I enjoyed the performance value very much.
6. Madison Desch, United States, 12.900
Desch, who likely would have been the alternate had Alyssa Baumann not withdrawn due to injury, ended up making a floor final, which was fantastic! However, I think her exhaustion after nationals and qualifications led to a very tired routine here. Her whip to double arabian looked nice in the air but she hopped the landing, bringing one foot out of bounds. The 1.5 to punch Rudi looked great, but she tried really hard to pull her double pike around so she’d stick rather than rebound back, but ended up under-rotating it and landing on her hands and knees. Her double tuck was nearly stuck, but unfortunately this wasn’t enough to save the routine and she looked really upset after.
7. Amaranta Torres, Mexico, 11.550
An unfortunate routine for Torres, who landed her awesome punch double front really low to start out. Honestly, I thought she’d sit it, but she stood up out of it really quickly. She hit her 2.5 but then fell on her double pike to finish the routine.
8. Merlina Galera, Argentina, 10.700
Another sad routine, and this one ended the day, unfortunately. Galera crashed her full-in during the opening pass, but went on to hit a nice double pike into a controlled lunge as well as a 2.5 to stag jump. She then crashed her double tuck at the end of the routine to her hands and knees.