Ok, so I was obviously disappointed that Ashley Priess wasn’t competing this year. Nevertheless, there was still plenty to pique my interest at this year’s National Championships. Some of my thoughts on the athlete’s in the women’s competition…

Shawn Johnson competing on Floor at the 2007 US National Championships

1. Shawn Johnson: Wow. She completely dominated the competition, rocking all 8 of her sets. My favorites in her vast bag of tricks?

  • Jaeger on Bars
  • Double Double on Floor
  • Standing back layout stepout to back pike combo on Beam

My main complaint with her gymnastics would be the artistic component. While she is still pleasing to the eye, she lacks some of the crispness and polish that I would like to see at the senior elite level. I don’t think it would take much to improve her artistry. Attention to some of the small details would make a big difference. For example, she never lifts her head during her dance on Beam and with some improved choreography on Floor, I think she could really shine.

2. Shayla Worley: She is definitely a favorite of mine. She has the artistry that Johnson lacks and a gorgeous body line. If she could improve on her overall consistency and pull out a double yurchenko on vault (instead of a 1.5), I think she could be among the best in the world.

3. Ivana Hong: Her floor routine is outstanding. Absolutely incredible presentation. A given for GAGE gymnasts, it seems. And I can’t believe her beautiful double yurchenko. Such clean form and great height for such a tiny gymnast. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.

Ivana Hong on the Beam during the 2007 US National Championships

4. Bridget Sloan: I can’t say. I didn’t get to see her. You would think that the winner of the US Classic might at least get some TV time. You can catch her on YouTube, though the quality isn’t great. From what I’ve seen so far, she looks like a good all arounder and a great asset for the US team. I particularly like her double turn on Beam and her toe-on tkatchev on Bars.

5. Nastia Liukin: I’m not sure why she competed on Floor and Vault at this competition. She was clearly in no shape to do so and she risked injury by pushing it on these two events. Bars and Beam however were a completely different story. It was like watching two different athletes.

Her incredibly high scores on Bars and Beam pulled her all the way to third place in the All Around. It seems outrageous that an athlete who struggled (seriously) in 5 out of 8 of her routines can still pull out the bronze medal but that’s the way it goes with the new code of points. Nastia is just so completely dominant on Beam and Bars. She will certainly be an asset to the US on those two events and I wish her well as she works to bring her Floor and Vault back up to speed.

Other random thoughts…

  1. I’m still a big fan of Alicia Sacramone. She can really rock on 3 events and I wish she would compete Bars. Heck, like Nastia, she might be able to pull out on top of the all around competition because she scores so well on the other events. It’s worth a shot.
  2. I really liked Jana Bieger’s front aerial to two feet. Cool!
  3. I was disappointed to see Nastia’s leap pass on Beam end with a wolf jump. She performed an absolutely exquisite switch ring leap, followed by a straight leg sissone with her trademark incredible flexibility, and then finished it with a wolf jump. It ruins the combo, in my opinion, by tacking on something that is more choppy. It just doesn’t flow well.
  4. What is up with Alicia Sacramone’s neck stand on Beam? She isn’t in full split and it just seems so random.
  5. Chellsie Memmel is pretty cool. She comes in and just rocks a Floor set and then checks out. As she said, she just wanted to let everyone know that she’s still out there. Seems like she got the message across.

So there you have it. Those are some of my thoughts. What were some of your impressions?

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