Biles Set to Lead U.S. Team in Everett

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The 2016 Pacific Rim Championships kicked off yesterday with closed podium training sessions at the XFINITY Arena in Everett, Washington, with the U.S. team set to contend against fellow Pacific Ocean-bordering countries like Canada, Australia, and Japan.

Ten-time world champion Simone Biles leads a squad that also features 2015 worlds teammates Aly Raisman and Brenna Dowell in addition to 2014 worlds teammate Ashton Locklear and first-year seniors Laurie Hernandez and Ragan Smith. Smith, who was the silver all-around medalist at the City of Jesolo Trophy last month, was a last-minute replacement after Maggie Nichols was forced to withdraw from the competition due to a minor knee injury.

We spoke to Biles via phone conference last week, where she said her focus at this week’s competition was on debuting her brand-new Rio-themed floor routine along with her long-awaited Cheng on vault, which she modestly described as being about “50% ready,” though it looked fantastic in training yesterday.

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This marks the first time Biles will compete in the Olympic year, though she’s not at all flustered by the significance and is taking the experience one day at a time as she has throughout her entire career.

Raisman, Hernandez, Locklear, and Smith all competed in Jesolo with strong results, though all still have something to prove before any can be considered a lock for Rio. In Italy, Raisman sat her Amanar, Hernandez struggled on bars, Locklear’s beam is far too weak to be useful to the team, and Smith has little areas here and there to clean up in addition to finally adding her Patterson dismount off beam, which she said at Jesolo was her priority going forward.

It was surprising to see Dowell on the team after her bars mishap at worlds last year took her out of the team final picture. Dowell had a rough time at camp in March keeping her off of the Jesolo team, but this time around she looked fabulous, reportedly beating Raisman in the all-around at verification to show Martha Karolyi why she’s deserving of a second chance.

Australia will use this meet to work out the kinks before they compete for a team spot at the Olympic Test Event in Rio de Janeiro a week later. 2012 Olympians Emily Little and Larrissa Miller headline the team that also features 2014 worlds competitors Georgia-Rose Brown and Emma Jane Nedov, 2015 Australian bars champion Rianna Mizzen, and first-year senior Emily Whitehead.

While the team has a strong core, they’re missing crucial members Mary-Anne Monckton and Georgia Godwin, both of whom suffered injuries this year and are unable to contribute. The next two weeks will be an uphill battle for the Aussies, but hopefully their participation at Pac Rims will help them see what they’ll need to work on going into the test event, where a ton of international team depth has them on the edge of making it all the way to the Games this summer.

Canada, already qualified to the Games, is leaving top competitors Ellie Black and Isabela Onyshko at home, focusing instead on testing potential candidates for the team like Madison Copiak, Audrey Rousseau, Kirsten Peterman, first-year seniors Megan Roberts and Shallon Olsen, and NCAA standout and 2012 Olympian Brittany Rogers, who competes in Everett this weekend before moving on to help Georgia at the NCAA Championships next week.

Most other nations are sending a mix of senior and junior squads, and likely won’t contend for the team podium, but keep an eye out for individual standouts like New Zealand’s Courtney McGregor (who will represent her country at the test event) and Charlotte Sullivan as well as Japan’s junior team, featuring the super talented Natsumi Hanashima, Soyoka Hanawa, Kiko Kuwajima, and Mana Oguchi in addition to senior Nagi Kajita.

The competition begins on Saturday with two subdivisions of team and all-around finals, which will also serve as the qualifiers for the individual event finals to be held Sunday. The Gymternet has reporter Trisha Wolf on scene to bring you the latest. For more information, check out our coverage guide.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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20 thoughts on “Biles Set to Lead U.S. Team in Everett

  1. That is like prob the best cheng ever…. I think we need to lock up simone and mykayla together w a vt table for a day… maybe some of that goodness willl rub into skinner cheng..

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    • I feel like Mykayla is crucified for her technique flaw way more than others are for flaws that are, in my opinion, way worse. I would rather see someone cheat a block on an otherwise mostly clean vault than see someone have a “normal” block with bad leg form throughout the vault (à la Mustafina, Paseka, Raisman, etc.)

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      • But MyKayla blocks with one hand, and it’s incredibly dangerous. The judges really need to hammer her for that to discourage it. It’s a neck injury waiting to happen.

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    • I know!! me too :). I just want her to hit at a major international meet for once. how did she beat aly at camp? I wonder if she did the amanar as her bars advantage is by itself probably not enough to offset aly’s strong beam and fx set over hers..

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      • I guess it’s possible Aly had a fall or something? But makes things interesting if she’s up there. I do like that Martha picks teams on the most recent results rather than past results…keeps things fresh and rewards progress. A lot of people fully gave up on her after worlds and while I don’t think she’s a top Olympic contender, I like that she’s at least still in consideration.

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      • Seems to be like Brenna new ub routine is actually a downgrade (maybe she’s more consistent with this easier routine?). Wondering what the d score is? a little disappointed in the lower d score. How the heck does she manage to overcome aly with no amanar, lower ub d score and disadvantages on beam and fx compared to aly? did aly have like multiple falls? how did she even beat ragan who supposedly only have 1 fall? something just doesn’t quite add up… Not that I am not glad she ‘s getting a second chance but something doesn’t add up..

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        • It’s a downgrade – by two tenths. She still has a 6.5 D score which is one of the highest in the U.S. and her consistency should improve without the tricky Tweddle + Ezhova connection. It’s a much smarter routine for her and what she lost in difficulty she’ll pick up if she hits. She also added two tenths in difficulty on floor as well as a couple of tenths on beam, and her DTY is the best in the country right now, scoring roughly the same as Aly’s Amanar.

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  2. Thanks for the inside camp scoop! Were these girls chosen purely by all around ranking? Meaning Brenna would have beat Ragan too? But that doesn’t explain Ashton.. or they just chose to take a specialist too.

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    • In an interview earlier Ragan said she fell on beam at camp and she *thinks* that’s why she was originally left off the team. Who knows if thats why, but that explains how some people could have placed above her who normally don’t 🙂

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  3. Take out Dowell and I would love to see the other five in Rio(although it won’t be unless gabby crumbles and Nichols doesn’t recover well) Watching Gabby everywhere is like watching a robot chicken hybrid and her floor “choreography” makes me cringe at least 10 times. Nichols just isn’t my cup of tea in terms of gymnastics and her floor and beam tends to look heavy and awkward. I just can’t see Dowell hitting enough and being consistent to contribute significantly to the team. We all know beam is obviously not her strength. She struggles a little with endurance on bars, and her floor has never really brought in competitive enough numbers despite difficult tumbling. Vault is ok I guess for Brenna but the Amanar is mandatory if she even wants to think about Rio. Ragen is entertaining. Her vault and bars aren’t that great although she’s massively improved on the latter. Her floor and beam is a bit messy at the moment but I’m sure she’ll fix it as the season progresses. Ashton has nice flow and lines on beam but her difficulty is way too low to contend. Her bars are of course forever gorgeous, and I must confess Id pick Ashton’s bars over Madison’s any day. Not having any AA program is what really hurts Ashton especially when you consider only 5 can compete. Aly is improving everywhere. Of course her floor can artistically use a lot of work but it’s miles better than London. Can’t say much about biles in terms of execution but her new floor routine needs to go immediately. Very choppy, the music doesn’t fit, and she was extremely robotic in movements and expression. 2014 was Simone’s peak artistically unless she changes her routine. Laurie is probably my favorite. Vault was clean. Bars had some form breaks, but she has such good flow on some of her elements. Her beam is pretty good, she doesn’t look like she’s rushing the routine like some gymnasts do, she is so calm up on beam. Her floor is really good. The landings need to be more controlled but those look like beginning of the season issues. Take out Dowell and this is my dream team, but realistically several of them probably won’t make it.

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    • Yeah I like biles 2014 music better too. gymnasticcoaching list the new d score as 7.0 is that correct?

      Also looks to be like Brenna new ub routine is a signficant downgrade. Have no idea how she can beat aly and ragan in AA with her current AA set of no amanar, significantly downgraded ub, and sign. disadvantage in beam and fx? Maybe someone can speculate on this?

      Yeah I think Ashton always seems to have a slight edge over Madison in term of execution, although Maddie does have the ub gold and 01 more d score. I don’t know if there’s an easy way for ashton to bump her d-score to 6.7+ and keeping that same execution. She would then be super competitive as a specialist in the new quad.

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  4. What a shame there’s no Russia or China here. Obviously the Russians have their own nationals this week, what about China?

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    • I was wondering that too. I remember Pac Rims 2012 as being Shang Chunsong’s coming out party, so I wanted to see who was coming, and then…no-one!

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