The 8 U.S. Seniors Vying For Gold

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Our final introduction piece leading up to the 2015 Secret U.S. Classic includes those senior gymnasts with international experience, titles galore, and skills that set them apart from their teammates.

If all goes according to plan, Simone Biles will add another gold all-around medal to her collection in Hoffman Estates this weekend. She’s undefeated in both national and international competition since her senior P&G Championships debut in 2013, and her collection of skills give her over a two point edge over anyone else in the country, meaning she could fall twice and still take home the gold. Unless something goes drastically wrong, she will top the podium yet again.

But the battle for silver and bronze should be intense. At Jesolo earlier this year, you had new senior Bailie Key, returning Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, and 2014 World gold medalist Alyssa Baumann within one point of each other. Maggie Nichols and Kyla Ross also would have been within that range had mistakes on floor not pushed their overall scores down considerably, and then there’s two-time world medalist MyKayla Skinner, who missed Jesolo due to a knee injury but a month earlier earned the silver medal behind Biles at the American Cup.

Though it looks like Ross could now be out of the all-around due to aggravating her heel in podium training today, it’s clear the rest of this senior field is stacked. These women in addition to some of the other seniors in contention will make the fight to the podium an intense one so get ready!

Without further adieu, here are the seniors coming in on fire tomorrow!

1. Maggie Nichols, Twin City Twisters

Age: 17

Why You Should Watch: Maggie won the bronze medal in all five of her all-around meets last year, including Jesolo, the Tokyo World Cup, the U.S. Classic, P&G Championships, and even the Pan Am Championships, which she managed despite busting her knee on floor. In 2015, she’s going for broke with a brand new Amanar and a heavily upgraded bars set, where she connects a ton of big skills in her opening sequence. She has reportedly posted a couple of 60+ all-around scores at the ranch this spring, so keep your eye on her.

2. Aly Raisman, Brestyan’s

Age: 21

Why You Should Watch: After two and a half years without competing, Aly completely stole the show in Jesolo this March when she showed that she had nearly all of her big Olympic skills back, including her famous 1.5 through to double arabian to punch layout opening floor pass and her Patterson dismount off beam. Since her bronze medal win there, she has likely been working on tidying up a bit and it seems she may also bring back her Amanar this weekend. Coming back after winning three Olympic medals is never easy, but Aly might actually end up looking even better than she did in 2012!

3. Simone Biles, World Champions Centre

Age: 18

Why You Should Watch: If you’ve paid even the slightest attention to gymnastics in the past two years, this lady needs no introduction. Earning her first World all-around title at 16 and then snatching a second one a year later, Simone is on the path to becoming a back-to-back-to-back world champ and is essentially unbeatable at this stage of the game. So far in 2015 all of her medals have been gold, including two all-around titles as well as the vault, beam, and floor titles at Jesolo. She’s averaging a 62.2 at the moment and hasn’t yet earned a score below 15.05, so I’m pretty sure this weekend should be a piece of cake for the soon-to-be legend.

4. Kyla Ross, Gym-Max

Age: 18

Why You Should Watch: So, it seems Kyla actually won’t do the all-around tomorrow after aggravating her heel in training today – better safe than sorry! But either way, her bars will be more than enough reason to watch. After downgrading in 2014 due to nagging injuries she didn’t have time to recover from before Worlds, Kyla looks like she’s back on the mend, and threw in her first major upgrade on bars in what feels like a century. Her Bhardwaj could be a very important upgrade as she rallies for her second Olympic team next season. As a side note, this is Kyla’s seventh U.S. Classic meet in a row, showing just how persistent and tenacious she is, always fighting through the pain if it means a chance to compete.

5. Bailie Key, Texas Dreams

Age: 16

Why You Should Watch: As the sole first-year senior with a realistic shot at the podium tomorrow, Bailie has been in the spotlight since she first debuted at 12. Her first senior meet at Jesolo earlier this year was highly-anticipated, and she didn’t disappoint, placing second behind Simone with a 59.5 in the all-around in addition to the silver medal on bars, an event on which she’s showed a great deal of improvement since transitioning to the senior ranks. She also has the potential to go 15+ on floor and her nerves in competitions like this are steel. Be prepared for big stuff from this kid tomorrow!

6. Alyssa Baumann, WOGA

Age: 17

Why You Should Watch: Alyssa is the kind of gymnast who kind of passes under the radar. She has some weak spots and isn’t as flashy as some of her teammates, but there’s a kind of silent threat here if she hits all of her events. The key for success this weekend will come from calm and clean routines, which is sometimes where she ends up faltering. But the big skills and gorgeous, effortless movement is there on beam and floor, so it’ll all be a matter of making everything happen at once and not letting her nerves get to her.

7. MyKayla Skinner, Desert Lights

Age: 18

Why You Should Watch: I love this kid because she’s never afraid to prove people wrong. No matter what people say about her – she’ll never make it as an elite, she’ll never get to Worlds, she’ll never win a medal – she’s knocked them down and done it each and every time. As the 2014 Pan Ams all-around champion and the World bronze medalist on vault, Mykayla is the definition of a badass. Classics typically tends to be her weakest meet of the year, where she likes to iron out the kinks and see what she needs to work on going forward, so don’t expect perfection tomorrow, but as usual, you should still be in for some big skills.

8. Gabby Douglas, Buckeye

Age: 19

Why You Should Watch: Well, first of all, she’s the reigning Olympic all-around champion about to compete in the U.S. for the first time since being named to the Olympic team at Trials in July of 2012! Who isn’t excited to see her make her return on U.S. soil?! At Jesolo earlier this year, she showed a level of consistency on all four events you wouldn’t expect from someone just getting back into the swing of things. Her routines in Italy looked like they could use some upgrades here and there if she wants to be truly competitive, but she got off to a fantastic start. Right now, I think her goal seems to be just take it slow and ease her way back onto the scene, but she’s already added some upgrades since Jesolo, and here’s the most important piece – at this stage in 2015 looking at the Olympics next year, Gabby looks so much more on track than she did in July 2011 looking at the road ahead.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

4 thoughts on “The 8 U.S. Seniors Vying For Gold

  1. All the haters can hate but I’m not giving up on bailie she has a armarar I hope it’s ready with upgrades on ub, bb, and floor I think by the end of this year and next she’ll be a force to reckon with hope she has her bb down like in the jr ranks. Kim knows how to pace her and she’ll challenge big time I hope she brings it on she’s a lot like Kyla doesn’t give the judges much to take she’s only getting better

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  2. You said Gabbys difficulty is low but I don’t agree. The beam she practiced at podium training is 6.6 SV, the only girls with higher SV are Simone and Aly. her planned bar routine is 6.4, higher than any other girl listed. She has an amazing dty, and it’s only time until she gets her amanar back. The only event that looks behind is floor and there her difficulty is a 6.0.

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    • This wasn’t based off of podium training, it was based off of Jesolo where in comparison to others, her difficulty was a bit lacking, particularly on floor, where she had just a 5.5.

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