Better late than never, right? Late December, we sent out a poll and had you vote for your favorite moment of 2017. We received exactly 1,000 responses and below are the top 25!
Tie-25. Kenzo Shirai’s AA Bronze at Worlds
The last time a Japanese male gymnast wasn’t on the all-around podium at a world championships (where Japan was present) was in 1995. Going into Montreal, it seemed like Japan would continue its streak with Kohei Uchimura’s seventh consecutive world all-around win. That is, until he injured his ankle on vault during qualifications and was forced to withdraw from competition. This put all eyes on 21-year-old Kenzo Shirai, now Japan’s only all-around competitor. Kenzo made his world championships debut in 2013, but had only competed vault and floor making 2017 his first time competing all events at the world-level. Not only did he meet expectations, he exceeded them, grabbing the bronze medal in the AA along with his two golds on VT and FX.
Tie-25. Kyla Ross winning UB and BB at NCAA Nationals
Our elite silver princess had a golden year as a UCLA Freshman. With 18 individual wins along with four perfect 10’s (two each on bars and beam), Kyla proved that she has the talent and the mentality to do big things in NCAA (who knew?). In the end, she became the first world, Olympic, and NCAA champion by winning bars and beam at NCAA Nationals with scores of 9.950 and 9.9625, respectively.
Tie-25. USA’s Junior Gymnasts
The US Juniors started their year in March at the International Gymnix competition with a team consisting of Sunisa Lee, Emma Malabuyo, Maile O’Keefe, and Gabby Perea. Along with taking the team title, O’Keefe won the gold in the all-around with Perea taking the silver. Malabuyo took home the title on VT with O’Keefe placing second. On UB, Perea got her first individual gold with Lee winning silver. They ended their competition on FX where Perea and O’Keefe tied for gold.
In the next month, a team of Malabuyo, O’Keefe, Perea, with the additions of Adeline Kenlin and Olivia Dunne took on the City of Jesolo Trophy, winning the gold in the team competition. Perea, O’Keefe, Malabuyo, and Kenlin took the top four spots respectively in the All-Around with Dunne placing sixth. In event finals, Perea took home two golds (VT & UB) and a silver (BB), Malabuyo won FX and placed second behind Gabby on VT, and O’Keefe brought home two silvers (UB & FX) and a bronze (BB).
From there, the US went on to domestic competition, bringing in more talent as Leanne Wong, Kara Eaker, and Audrey Davis were added to the Junior National Team along with Kenlin, Malabuyo, O’Keefe, and Perea. O’Keefe, Malabuyo, Eaker, Kenlin, Wong, and Davis were the Top 6 in the all-around while Perea was unable to compete all events due to injury but was still added to the National Team team due to her accomplishments during the 2017 season.
The final act of the US Junior season was the Junior Japan International, where Emma Malabuyo and Maile O’Keefe (being the top two at nationals) competed against some of the top Junior talent in the world. Unsurprisingly, these two topped the AA competition with O’Keefe edging out Malabuyo. In addition to their AA medals, Maile received the gold on BB and silvers on VT, UB, and FX, while Emma won FX, received silver on BB and bronzes on VT and UB.
22. Nina Derwael’s UB Gold at Euros
This year was where Nina really started to shine, making history over and over again. She became Belgium’s first-ever European champion when she took the gold on bars in Cluj, earned the country’s best all-around finish ever at worlds where she placed eighth, and then became the first Belgian woman to win a medal at world championships when she snagged the bronze on bars. With even more planned upgrades and as she builds on her incredible experiences this year, Nina has the potential to be a gymnastics legend in Belgium and I’m so excited to see what else she’ll do.
21. McKayla Maroney Speaks Out
In October, McKayla Maroney tweeted publicly about the abuse she endured from former team doctor Larry Nassar. In December, she announced that she was paid by USA Gymnastics to keep quiet about her abuse and that she was now suing USAG for trying to conceal what happened. Maroney is also listing Nassar, the US Olympic Committee, and Michigan State University as defendants.
“A simple fact is this: If Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee had paid attention to any of the red flags in Larry Nassar’s behavior, I never would have met him, I never would have been ‘treated’ by him and I never would have been abused by him.”
Tie-20. Brooklyn Moors Wins the Longines Prize
As a member of the world championships team in Montreal, Brooklyn blew everyone away, competing in the all-around and making the final when she was originally only expected to do a couple of events, getting Canada’s best-ever finish on floor with her fifth-place ranking in the final, and becoming the first Canadian gymnast to win the Longines Prize for Elegance, the third gymnast in history to do so in her first year at the senior level, following in the footsteps of U.S. gymnasts Carly Patterson in 2003 and Shawn Johnson in 2007.
As you know, Lauren and our videographer Alexandra Leask traveled to Ontario to visit Dynamo Gymnastics for our first video project. The first episode is with Brooklyn herself. You can see that along with her breathtaking floor routine from worlds below.
Tie-20. Pauline Schäfer’s Emotional BB Win at Worlds
Germany on balance beam gets two spots in the Top 25 and they deserve it. Pauline was the 2015 worlds bronze medalist on the beam, so it’s only fair that she won gold this past year. With an average E-score of 6.1 in qualifications and 7.5 in event finals, saying beam was a mess in Montreal would be an understatement. Luckily Schäfer exists and was the only gymnast to break an E-score of 8.0 all competition.
Tie-20. J.K. Rowling Tweets Morgan Hurd
Morgan Hurd. Harry Potter. Enough said. I want to thank Jade Carey for capturing this moment.
17. Angelina Melnikova wins FX Gold at Euros
Gelya, Gelya, Gelya… What are we going to do with you? As one of the more inconsistent gymnasts of 2017, floor exercise was no exception. With 17 floor routines, the lowest a 10.966 and the highest a 14.425, Melnikova averaged only a 12.733 on the event all year making floor her least consistent event. But when she hits, she knocks it out of the park. Just scoring a 13.233 in qualifications, she jumped up to a 14.100 in event finals giving her the gold medal by less than a half of a tenth. We wish for a more consistent 2018 for Angelina because she no doubt has the talent.
Tie-16. Germany Takes Two Medals in BB EF
Prior to the Championships in Montreal, Germany had only won three world medals: 2006 bronze and 2011 silver on vault from Oksana Chusovitina and 2015 bronze on beam from Pauline Schäfer. They add two more medals to that list with newly golden Schäfer and Tabea Alt‘s bronze. The video below is of Alt’s routine and the celebration that was held after the score was announced.
Tie-16. The Star That is Elena Eremina
With 12 medals overall, Eremina was Russia’s go-to all-arounder and proved it by walking out of each competition with some individual hardware. Elena competed in seven different meets in 2017, which ties her for second most in Russia. She may not have won a national or world title, but as a first year senior, she’s on her way.
14. Viktoria’s Voronin Cup Comeback
After two years and six days away from competition, we got to see Komova back in action this past December. With a fall on beam and watered down routines (for her), it was still a great performance for the 22-year-old as she has only been back at Round Lake since May. I especially enjoyed her floor routine and its choreography.
13. Maggie Nichols’ “Gym-Slam”
After not making the Rio Olympic team, Maggie came to NCAA Gymnastics to make a name for herself there. And that she did. With seven 10.0s in her freshman season (two on vault, one on bars, three on beam, and one on floor), she already holds the title for most Perfect 10s in OU gymnastics history. She completed her “Gym-Slam” on March 4th at Michigan. We cannot wait to see what is in store for 2018!
12. Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos’ AA Bronze at Euros
After an Olympic year plagued with injuries, first year senior Mélanie DJDS returned to competition at the 2016 French Championships with a fourth place AA finish. She also won the AA at the 2016 France vs. Romania Rematch but this ultimately was not enough to make the Olympic team nor was it enough to give her an alternate spot.
That is all behind DJDS now as 2017 was her breakout year. After winning bronze at the American Cup, she brought her success with her to the European Championships where she qualified to the AA finals in the seventh spot. She improved her performance by nearly two points to claim the bronze in finals.
11. One Last European Title for Cătălina Ponor
Aside from the world championships, Cătălina won either gold or silver on beam at every meet she competed in 2017. Making her senior international debut at Worlds in 2003, Ponor racked up 23 European, world, and Olympic medals including 11 golds. She finished her career as a five-time European champion on beam.
10. Epke Zonderland’s Kovacs to One-Armed Giant at Worlds
One of the most memorable routines of the 2017 World Championships included this mistake by Dr. Zonderland. How he held on? No clue. Am I glad he medaled? YUP. Aside from this glorious accident, I am living for teammate Bart Deurloo’s reaction which was basically just him saying, “OH! Oh… What?” Bless.
9. Alex McMurtry’s AA Win at NCAA Nationals
Due to her back problems that have been around since time itself, Alex doesn’t perform in the all-around until very late in the season. The 2017 Honda Award recipient for top female gymnast won the all-around at NCAA Nationals by scoring a 39.8125 in the semi-finals. You can see her 9.950 floor routine below.
8. Ellie Black’s First World AA Medal for Canada
With two Olympics and four world championships under her belt, Ellie Black won her first major international medal with a silver in the all-around at the 2017 World Championships. Not only was this Ellie’s first world medal, it was Canada’s first all-around medal and second world medal overall. I think it’s safe to say that she is the best gymnast Canada has ever produced!
Tie-7. Mai Murakami’s Golden FX Performance
Having been on every worlds team for Japan since 2013, Mai has been close to getting a medal a few times. Going into the final day of competition, it was looking like 2017 Worlds would be the same. She already had fourth places on beam and in the all-around, where she was the favorite to win. Even though she qualified second in the floor final behind Ragan Smith, who withdrew from competition right before the all-around final, we couldn’t help but wonder if these fourth places were starting to get to her.
They had not. With a 14.233, Murakami finally got her world medal. And it was gold. Just 0.033 ahead of silver medalist Jade Carey, Mai’s difficulty was the deciding factor where she had a two tenth lead on Carey.
Tie-7. Aliya Mustafina’s Return to the Gym
After becoming a mother in June, Aliya took just three months off before resuming training. You know, because she’s Aliya and she can do things like that. After a month and a half of training, she already performed on beam in Alexei Nemov’s show “Legends of Sports: The Rise”. You can see that performance below.
5. Ellie Downie’s AA Gold at Euros
This gold medal was the first all around gold for Great Britain. After a rough Olympic Games, it was great to see Ellie pull out this performance. It wasn’t without its faults, but she was without a doubt the best of the day. Below is her bar routine, which was one of her best routines of the championships.
4. Jade Carey’s Out of Nowhere Success at US Nationals and Worlds
As a Junior Olympic gymnast, Jade had high scores of 10.0 on vault (not surprising), 9.7 on bars, 9.625 on beam, and 9.825 on floor. Good scores, but nothing astounding- vault aside. So when we saw Jade at her first elite meet, the American Classic held at the ranch, we realized that she had much more up her sleeve. There, she won gold on the three events she competed. A few weeks later at the US Classic, she won another two golds. Another few weeks, and she was the US Vault National Champion and runner-up on floor.
From there, she would easily make the worlds team and become a double world silver medalist all in a span of four months. We cannot wait to see her in action in 2018 but it’s safe to say that she has yet to reach her potential.
3. The “Wolfkino”
To be honest, if this wasn’t in the top five, I would have put it there and faked the votes. I didn’t have to do that, because you guys are smart. What can be said about the Wolfkino that hasn’t already been said? Jordan Chiles, silver medalist at the 2017 US Nationals, accidentally combined a wolf turn to a triple turn to create the Wolfkino. She blessed us with this and our world will never be the same.
2. Morgan Hurd Continues US’s World AA Dominance
After finishing sixth all-around at nationals, it was a happy surprise to see Morgan named to the worlds team, and while nearly everyone questioned whether she’d be able to make the podium in Montreal, Morgan simply kept her nose to the grindstone, worked hard, and made it happen in spite of all odds against her. The transformation she underwent from the start of the season to standing on the worlds all-around podium with the gold medal around her neck was inspiring, and as if that wasn’t enough, she also picked up a silver on beam.
1. Aly Raisman: Advocate, Hero, Badass
Aly and her mother, Lynn, have been absolutely awesome to follow on Twitter these past few months. As terrible of a situation Aly has been put through, she has shown that she is a survivor, not a victim. Lynn has been right by her side the whole time calling out every absurdity that she sees. Back in November, Lauren wrote an article on this whole situation and on how these women have each other’s backs. Aly has also written an article on how she is surviving. It also includes a statement that she would have read at Nassar’s sentence hearing if she had been allowed to speak.
Below is a behind-the-scenes look at Raisman’s 60 Minutes interview. It really shows how heart and headstrong this woman is.
Samir Aït Said’s Comeback
For those of you who were living under a rock during the Rio Olympics, during the Men’s Qualification round, Samir Aït Said of France broke both his tibia and fibula on his Tsuk double pike vault. At that point, he knew that his gymnastics career could not end like that. A short 14 months later, Samir was already back in competition at the World Championships. He made event finals and narrowly missed a medal on his specialty, the still rings.
Team USA’s Melissa Doucette
Melissa competed Division II gymnastics at the University of Bridgeport. If you know NCAA gymnastics, Bridgeport is pretty amazing, particularly for a team that only has 6 full scholarships to give out, unlike Division I which has 12. Doucette was a standout on UB’s team and helped by beating multiple Division I teams and winning National Championships.
After college, The Gymternet interviewed to Melissa Doucette after hearing that she wasn’t finished just yet. She started competing Level 10 in the “Open” divisions with a hope of qualifying elite. Unfortunately, she was short of qualifying to nationals but did make classics in 2015. This is when she turned her focus to Power Tumbling. Now, in 2017 she placed second at T&T Nationals and made the world championship team where Team USA placed fourth.
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf‘s Floor Routines at Nationals
Girl had so many injuries and illnesses that limited her difficulty in domestic competition in 2017 but still stole the show with two completely different floor routines at Nationals! I’m a sucker for her Day 2 routine. Which was your favorite?
Article by Joe Rinaldi
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