The Senior Women at Jesolo

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While there was plenty to celebrate from all over the spectrum from every country represented at the City of Jesolo Trophy this weekend, it was the long-anticipated senior debuts from Ragan Smith and Laurie Hernandez that stole the show in Italy, with both taking home an all-around and two event medals apiece to throw a wrench into an already confusing U.S. Olympic team puzzle.

Smith won the all-around silver medal with a score of 59.05 after clean, fresh, and energetic work on all four apparatuses. She actually reminds me a bit of Jordyn Wieber in the sense that she’s made all four events relatively equal in terms of scoring potential, putting up a 14.85 for her DTY, a 14.6 for her newfound prowess on bars, a 15.1 for her perfectly clean and solid beam, and a 14.5 for her crowd-pleasing Addams Family floor routine.

Qualifying into the beam and floor event finals, Smith improved slightly on her all-around performances in both, adding two silver medals to her collection and proving that her brilliant work on Saturday wasn’t a fluke. She comes off as very calm and confident in her work, and displays a pizzazz on floor with choreography that is perfect for her personality. It was truly a fantastic start to her year and I’m pretty sure she still has a few upgrades coming our way.

Coming in right behind Smith was Hernandez, with an impressive performance of her own. Her DTY has improved so much, earning a 15.1, and she showed a difficult and expertly-performed beam routine for a 15.3. Bars didn’t go quite as planned after she dragged her feet on the mat during her pak, earning just a 13.8, and while her floor performance is fantastic, it’s not a super difficult routine and she loses a little bit in execution thanks to bouncy landings, getting a 14.35.

In all, however, she was able to pull in a 58.55 for her day, and then on Sunday picked up the silver on vault with a 14.85 and the gold on beam with a 15.25. Like Smith, she has shown that she could fit in pretty much anywhere when it comes to helping the U.S. team, especially when she continues to perfect what she already has.

The other all-arounders from the U.S. included Gabby Douglas in first with a 59.65, MyKayla Skinner in fifth with a 57.9, Aly Raisman in sixth with a 57.85, Emily Schild in seventh with a 57.45, Emily Gaskins in 14th with a 54.25, and Sydney Johnson-Scharpf in 18th with a 53.65.

Douglas, only two weeks away from her winning American Cup performance, came in a little downgraded here – especially on bars, where she scrapped her Chow half and counted only seven skills – but still had no problem hitting well enough to make a big impression. There’s not much more to say other than she is almost robotically good at this point, super consistent and reliable. In event finals, she came back to get the silver medal on bars and bronze on floor with continued strong work there.

It was a busy week for Skinner, who won the all-around title in Glasgow one Saturday and then put up an even stronger performance in Jesolo the next. Her Amanar was a bit rougher in competition than it had been in training all week, which was unfortunate, but she put up mostly strong performances on bars and beam, and then suffered a few rough landings on floor, especially on her triple full. I have to say, I continue to be impressed with the work she’s done on bars, and I think her beam when hit shows a ton of excellent form and great extension, so kudos to her. In the single vault event final, her vault looked better than it did in the all-around though her score remained a 15.2…though she still managed to easily snag gold.

Though she didn’t start out well with second-guessing her vault landing and sitting it, Raisman showed she was able to expertly come back from a mistake and hit solid efforts on her other three events. Her best execution came on beam, where she showed great improvement with her connections, though her d-score was knocked down two tenths from its potential, possibly because her layout wasn’t credited. She did some more strong work on this event in the final to get bronze, and then picked up the floor gold for her excellent tumbling and great performance.

I thought Schild did a great job improving on her bars from last year, and she also put up a great, clean DTY on vault, but her difficulty just isn’t strong enough to get her through on beam and floor. She got the bronze medal on vault in event finals, but didn’t medal on bars due to a nervous and tentative performance with leg separation on most of her skills following her strong and clean 15.0 in the all-around, unfortunately.

Gaskins and Johnson-Scharpf competed as individuals during the competition. These were the two I was most confused about in terms of earning the assignment, and after seeing them in competition, I’m guessing Martha Karolyi just wanted to see them in action as seniors. I say this to be realistic, not harsh, but I can’t imagine either making a legitimate push for the Olympic team this summer.

Gaskins, who struggled with form during training, actually had her best work all week during the competition to hit all four events, though her form was still rough everywhere with her execution in the mid-7 range on all but vault, where her DTY only earned a 14.35. Like Gaskins, Johnson-Scharpf was limited in her difficulty, though her form looked mostly strong; her problem, however, was hitting, as she counted a fall on beam, stumbled out of one of her passes on floor, and had a very rough DTY to get low scores on all three.

Finally, Ashton Locklear competed on bars and beam at the meet, with beautiful bars performances in both days of competition, earning a 15.65 on day one and a 15.25 in the event final for the gold there. Her beam difficulty is fairly low – too low to make her much of a contender there – and with some form issues and nervous wobbles, she got a 13.8 on that event.

What about those not from the U.S.?

Flavia Saraiva of Brazil was right in the middle of the big Team USA sandwich, placing fourth with a 58.4. She upgraded her vault to a DTY, and actually looked quite good there, showing clean form and a solid landing for a 15.05. Her bars and floor are a bit low in difficulty, but she did great work on both and the crowd went bananas for her fantastic performance on the latter. And she performed her tricky beam with flair for a big 14.95. She qualified into both the beam and floor finals, but had a few struggles on beam for a 14.4 and didn’t medal on either. Still, I think she showed how much she’s grown since last year, especially in her ability to come back from minor mistakes. I can’t WAIT for her to perform in Brazil at the test event and at the Olympic Games because she is going to tear right into everyone’s hearts.

Italy’s Carlotta Ferlito placed eighth in the all-around with a 56.3, showing a few mistakes but hitting everything. The crowd loved seeing their star shine, though Ferlito told our reporter how tired she was after competing at the American Cup and then going on to a week-long national team camp before Jesolo. She pulled out of the vault and floor finals, but decided to go for her best event, beam, in the hopes of claiming a medal. “I just hope my legs can hold out,” she joked.

Her beam started out well, but her joke ended up being a horrifying foreshadowing of what would happen at the end of her routine. She missed her foot on her double pike dismount – a dismount she feared but upgraded to after constantly getting docked for her twisting form on her 2.5 – but she kept rotating backwards, landing on her head with her full body weight. It was the scariest fall I’ve ever seen, and you couldn’t hear anything but her sobs for several minutes straight as medics attended to her to check her out and brace her neck. Thankfully, she was neurologically fine and the MRI for any neck injuries was negative, though she will be in a collar for a little while as she heals. We’re glad she’s fine, and as one of the only healthy top performers in the country so far in 2016, we hope she’s able to get back in order to help her team at the Olympics this summer.

Jade Barbosa of Brazil was ninth with a 56.0, Marine Brevet was tenth with a 55.35, the Italians Enus Mariani and Tea Ugrin tied in 11th with scores of 55.1, their teammate Giorgia Campana was 13th with a 54.65, Carolyne Pedro of Brazil was 15th with a 54.1, French gymnasts Anne Kuhm and Loan His were 16th and 17th with scores of 53.85 and 53.75 respectively, their teammate Oreane Lechenault was 19th with a 53.1, Daniele Hypolito was 20th with a 52.85 after a rough day with issues nearly everywhere (including a sat Yurchenko 1.5), Alessia Leolini of Italy was 21st with a 52.8, Desiree Carofiglio of Italy was 22nd with a 52.75, and Camille Bahl of France was 23rd with a 52.45.

Of these, competition highlights included Lechenault on floor (mostly for her gorgeous and haunting choreography), Brevet on beam, Kuhm and His with excellent work on bars (Kuhm is a bit too low-difficulty to make much of an impression but His has some very strong work and got the bronze medal in event finals there), and Carofiglio with her big tumbling on floor (she has a Dowell and a double front).

Marine Boyer of France, a first-year senior, competed everywhere but floor, showing a tremendous performance on beam. She was a standout there as a junior and it’s nice to see her bring big skills and gorgeous execution to the table as a senior, especially with Claire Martin out due to an injury limiting her training and what she can bring to the table. Louise Vanhille also competed everywhere but floor, showing tricky and solid work on bars, and Rebeca Andrade of Brazil – also competing everywhere but floor – showed another bar routine with big skills and clean execution, though she unfortunately fell in the event final.

In all, I thought the senior competition at Jesolo was a great one, showcasing top U.S. women with Olympic team potential, the many Italian women who will be battling for team spots this summer, and the Brazilian and French teams in a little preview as they push toward the Olympic Test Event in Rio de Janeiro next month.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

32 thoughts on “The Senior Women at Jesolo

  1. I have to confess my day is always a little better when you blog Lauren (Gymternet junkie!:-)) Thank you ever so much for what you bring to this sport, so appreciated. I’m beyond amped to see how Laurie and Ragan (and Norah) bring it this season. Will also be interesting to see the mental toughness on display. I always find that fascinating in every sport during the Olympic year.

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  2. The U.S.A. has so much depth! The only true lock (as long as she stays healthy) is Simone Biles. I won’t be able to determine anything up until Classics/Championships. Hopefully USA Gymnastics puts out some training videos before then (maybe in May?) I’m super pumped for this year!

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  3. Looking at interviews and performances from this year and last year Martha seems very bent on Biles, Raisman, Nichols and Douglas being on the team. Her fifth favorite is skinner which is unfortunate because Skinner is only top 3 on vault (and now even that’s a maybe because she struggled on it in Glasgow and here a little bit). If I had to choose I would put in Hernandez in the fifth slot, but we’ll have to see how Pac Rims and this summers national meets goes. For Brazil I really want to see Rebeca Andrade show big upgrades across all four. Her bars are so clean when hit, her beam while shaky has potential and I really want her to do the 1 and a half twisting double so she can get it named after her. Saraiva has such great potential to put in massive upgrades on floor, those passes look way too easy for her.

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    • It will come down to if you want emphasis on bars or beam. back in 2012 ross was prob 2nd best bars to gabby with also top 3 beam. This year not as clear cut: there is no bars/beam worker that’s top 2 or 3 in both currently.. Since they don’t want Biles to also do bars in TF and shes not exactly top 3 in that event anyway, I could see them wanting to have some1 like Kocian. They prob wont take Locklear due to that she cant do any other events aside from bars /beam.

      If Ragan or Laurie or Norah can up their bars significantly to top3 then one of them would get the spot..

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  4. I’m really impressed with how Skinner has cleaned up bars and beam – totally unexpected for me and really is a happy surprise. But then she’s seemed to regress on vault and floor, which would be her key events to get her on the team so that’s a bit of a bummer. This is where it’s hard for these young ladies on the US team b/c they really need to show they can do all 4 but it would be great if she could focus as a specialist.

    I’m super impressed with Ragan and I’d love to see her on the team. This is probably silly, but I’d be a bit bored if it’s Biles, Douglas, Nicholas, Rasiman and Kocian. I’d love a shake-up!

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    • I hoping it’s regan in that mix I will even settle for Laurie we need a 2000 baby and someone who will continue after Olympics

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  5. I wonder how Mykayla’s cheng will look this year. Possibly a two and half??? With her amanar looking stronger she definitely makes a threat in event finals.

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    • Lauren previously mentioned Bailie had a minor injury like an abdominal strain or something. Kim recently posted on Instagram “for those of you worried about Bailie, don’t worry she’s still on track for a great 2016. She just decided this long early season was not in her best interest and I agree with her.” Anyway it was something along those lines. I guess that’s kind of up for interpretation as to what that means. Norah was at recent camps but was not named to the team. Not sure if she’s 100% back from her 2015 injury. I guess they’re being kind of quiet about her. Anyone else know anything?

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  6. If only there was still time for Texas to become its own country so there could be Team Texas and a separate Team USA. Then we could have Simone, Madison, Ragan, Bailie on one team and Aly, Gabby, Maggie, Laurie on another.

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    • Oh god that would be a killer team final. I’m guessing Texas would win tho, they’re lineup would probably be:
      Vault: Simone, Bailie, Ragan
      Bars: Madison, Simone, Bailie/Ragan
      Beam: Ragan, Simone, Bailie
      Floor: Simone, Ragan Bailie
      Vs
      Vault: Maggie, Aly, Gabby(or Laurie)
      Bars: Maggie, Laurie, Gabby
      Beam: Gabby, Laurie, Aly
      Floor: Aly, Maggie, Gabby

      Actually… I think it would be VERY close…

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  7. After Jesolo and looking at scores from last year, the girls I think are the top contenders for the team are: Simone, Gabby, Maggie, Laurie, Ragan, Aly, Bailie, Madison. Mykayla can’t hit 59 all-around, when aside from Madison, all of the other girls do. Her only score in the 15s is vault, but Simone is better, and there are others who can score in the 15s on vault with much better scores on other events (Aly, Bailie, Laurie,….). So to me, MyKayla is out. Not sure why Marta loves her so much when so many other girls can outperform her. Looking at scores from last year, as much as I love Norah, her vault and floor can’t compete, and her bars doesn’t score in the 15s like Madison and Bailie. Jazzy is super consistent, but her scores aren’t high enough unless she comes out with major upgrades (I wouldn’t put it past her seeing how much she’s progressed in the last couple of years). Bailie can score in the 15s on all events except for beam, unless she comes out with upgrades. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t take Bailie over MyKayla when she can score equal to MyKayla on vault, and outscore her everywhere else. All the others can score 59+ in the all-around (aside from Madison). I think taking Madison will be dependent on whether an individual medal in bars is important to Marta. I think Gabby, Laurie, and Bailie could easily do bars in team final and score well. Beam would be Simone, Laurie, Ragan, or Aly. Vault could be Simone and and pretty much any of the others (except for Madison). Floor would be Simone….and then this is where it gets tricky because it’s really the only event Aly outscores everyone else (except for Simone) and can earn in the 15s. BUT…she is outperformed on the other events by both Laurie and Ragan (except maybe vault where it’s close). So, do you take Aly and Madison for their one strong event where they can outscore others? Or do you keep all arounders who could be be beneficial everywhere?

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    • Marta likely wants to for sure count 3 Amanars in the team final similar to 2012, and currently, only Simone/Maggie/MyKayla have proven, dependable Amanars. Until Aly can get more consistent with her’s, or unless Gabby can upgrade to an Amanar – I think MyKayla will stay in the conversation.

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      • A long time ago I heard both Bailie and Laurie were training Amanars. Wonder if they’d be locks if they have them? Mykayla may have an Amanar, but it’s scoring close to a clean DTY.

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      • I think if Laurie had an Amanar, it’d definitely help her, but I believe she said on her Ask.fm a little while back that she wasn’t planning on upgrading with vault.

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    • Yes, if a layout (an E skill) isn’t fully laid-out or has form issues, they credit it not as a pike (which is a C) but as a bad layout (as a D). If that happens, the gymnast not only loses a tenth for the devaluation of the skill, but also loses the tenth for the B+E connection. At worlds, for all of those doing bhs + layout connections on beam, only one received full E credit for the layout…so it’s likely that this was also the case with Aly at Jesolo.

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        • Her layout had similar issues in 2012 but I think they started getting SUPER strict about it in 2013. That’s when they made the rule about devaluing from an E to a D, and she definitely wasn’t credited for that connection last year, so yeah, I think it might make more sense if she changed her flight series though it’s unfortunately probably too late for that now!

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  8. Just a point of clarification, Gabby counted 8 elements on bars, not 7. She didn’t compete the inbar stalder on the low bar, true, so she lost the value of the skill. But the giant swing before her dismount is a (B) skill so that was counted in her d score as the 8th element.

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  9. Really hope Ragan, Laurie, Norah, Bailie and Jazzy can shake things up this summer for Marta & Co. I get the Gabby consistency factor but Im just finding her gymnastics not so exciting to watch right now. Would love to see her try to defend her title but , to me, personally, there seems to be no sparkle in her gymnastics like 4 years ago. Still early in season but hoping some of these new seniors make a huge impression!

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    • I agree. I’d really like to see new faces rather than old ones getting more popular. I remember watching videos of Jazzy and Ragan from 2013 and 2014 (respectively) and seeing how each were never applauded as much as girls like Gabby and Aly even at 2015 nationals. However, I think the juniors are more recognized by people like us who watch online and can’t attend in person. While the people who attend in person go because they love Gabby because she’s they’re idol and same with Aly and with Nastia Liukin back in 2012. I’d love to see people like Laurie, Norah, Ragan, Jazzy, etc. make some waves because they deserve the recognition. However gymnasts like Gabby, Aly, Nastia, etc. don’t/didn’t need much more recognition and they could easily make a living with publicity and I think 2016 will be their last while younger gymnasts may continue on in further years.

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