First up, how did the 2012 senior all-arounders fare in 2013?
Don't you love spreadsheets? A bunch of numbers and a bunch of blank spaces. No explanations. Well, here's what I take away from that spreadsheet:
1. Stripper poles.
Ah, those empty spaces at the top. We're still waiting for those much-hyped comebacks. In the meantime, we get to see how these girls fare in Hollywood. While Gabby was telling me not to text and drive and while Jordyn Wieber was starring in TumblTrak commercials, Aly Raisman was working the pole on national television.
Good on ya, Aly! I would not have had the guts to do that, and Lord knows America wouldn't vote for me if I wore that outfit and danced on a pole. As my boyfriend once told me, "You have a good face for radio."
2. Stuck in the middle with you: Not only is that the title of a great song, but it's a pretty apt description of what happens every four years. With every batch of elites, one gymnast consistently finishes seventh or eighth. It's a terrible spot to be in. Unless you're really, really good on individual apparatuses, Marta is going to overlook you for the big teams. Eighth last year and seventh this year, Kennedy Baker seems to be the gymnast stuck in the middle.
In order to get out of that position, Kennedy's going to need to upgrade (as well as improve her execution). Her Patterson dismount was a start at Championships.
3. MyKayla Skinner, Most Improved Gymnast: Yes, the same girl who brought us this
(via Spanny's Big Fake Tumblr)
has improved. A LOT. In fact, I'd venture to say that she is the most improved member of the Senior National Team. She went from being almost last at the 2012 Nationals to being middle of the pack at the 2013 Nationals.
But, but, but… There has been some turnover in the elite scene. The 2012 stars like Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber were not present at the 2013 P&G Championships. But, but but… the Code of Points has changed between 2012 and 2013.
Yes, I know that. Even this elite season, she has improved. A LOT.
Yes, you read that chart correctly. With more or less the same group of judges, Mykayla Skinner bettered her all-around score by 4.700 points in a matter of 21 days. Please take a moment to wrap your mind around that.
Now, please don't misconstrue what I'm saying. I'm not saying that Skinner's the second coming of Nadia. I see her as having potential to become a Kristen Maloney of sorts (without the tibia rod, hopefully). All I'm saying is this: I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and an improvement by 4+ points by any gymnast deserves some acknowledgement.
So, if Mykayla Skinner's the most improved senior, who's the most improved junior?
Undoubtedly, that award goes to Laurie Hernandez.
Instead of (inappropriately) alluding to the idea that 13 year-old Laurie Hernandez dances like a stripper, Tim Daggett should have mentioned Laurie's huge improvement. At the 2012 Championships, she finished 21st, and at the 2013 Championships, she finished 2nd.
If that weren't enough, let me give you another reason to rave about her. It looks like Laurie and Bailie could beat many of America's senior elites.
If this were China a few years ago, both Bailie and Laurie would have fake IDs by now.
What else can we glean from the junior's scores?
In addition to raving about Laurie Hernandez, the gymnastics community has been praising Polina Shchennikova for quite some time now. Some call her "The Baby Nastia." With long legs and good feet, gymnastics should look good on Polina. But don't let her toe point fool you. If you haven't looked at the numbers, Polina struggles in the execution department. At the 2012 Visa Championships, she averaged an 8 in execution, and at the 2013 P&G Championships, she averaged a 8.244 in execution.
A marginal improvement, yes. Coincidentally, Polina's biggest improvement has been on vault, an event that won't necessarily help her make a World or Olympic team. As or right now, it appears that she's aiming to become one America's top bar workers. With a 6.3 difficulty score, Polina, still a junior, tied Elizabeth Price for the second highest difficulty score on bars. (Kyla Ross had a 6.4). But her 8.2 and 7.8 in execution are not going to cut it for a World or Olympic team. Not even if she were to upgrade and code whore like crazy.
Just ask Anna Li.
Gym gods, please keep Polina safe on that dismount. She's way too close to the bar. Amen.
And finally, we must touch upon D and E scores.
Many feel that Kyla Ross is the epitome of execution. She has the international look that Elfi Schlegel always slurped up. (Now that Elfi's gone, how will little gymnasts learn about the international look?) Simone Biles, on the other hand, does not have that international look. Her gymnastics, they say, is sloppy, and as a result, one would expect Kyla to out-execute Simone all the time.
But guess what? Simone can out-execute Kyla. Take a look:
P&G Championships Day 1 - Total D
P&G Championships Day 1 - Total E
Does it happen every competition?
Day 2 - Total D
Day 2 - Total E
Nope, but it can and does happen.
But, but, but… How will Simone be scored internationally? I mean, surely, she will not out-execute Kyla at an international meet, right? I mean, judges will be fainting as they gaze upon the glory that is Kyla Ross's international look, right?
See for yourself:
Let me reiterate this: Simone may not out-execute Kyla Ross at every single meet, but I think it's time to recognize that, in the judges' estimation, Simone's form is no better or worse than Kyla Ross's. Both nationally and internationally, Simone and Kyla are neck and neck when it comes to their execution scores. Just some cud to chew on until the World Championships arrive.
Well, that's all for now. I think I've blabbered on about boring numbers and young girls for long enough. It's time to go make some spreadsheets for the hot, legal dudes in my life.
In the meantime, stay off the pole, kids. It won't get you anything in life. Not even a mirror ball trophy.