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US Classic Power Rankings Part 1

US Classic has wrapped up for now. Scores are in and the winners have been crowned. Next stop, Anaheim, California for P&G Championships.

So who came out on top and what were some of the biggest surprises and standouts? What else was worth talking about?

Find out in this elite edition of my Power Rankings.

This isn't any "official" rankings. Mostly just people and things that are newsworthy or interesting.

Being the post Olympic year, there's a gaggle of new faces and names that make everyone scratch their heads and say "err, who are you now?" But, this is what makes this year actually very exciting.
The last quad was defined and dominated by one person, Simone Biles. This is the first time in about four years where the winner is not a foregone conclusion and everyone else is fighting for second place.

(Reminder, this was the last chance for qualifying to the P&G Championships in a couple of weeks. Some have already qualified to P&Gs already through previous international competitions (Jesolo, American Cup, Gymnix, etc). But some have not. I will list qualifiers in this post.)

1. The Winners... of my heart

Winning the senior title was Alyona Shchennikova, with a 54.950. Alyona was definitely a surprise winner, no one really had her on their radar to win. She's a first year senior and she made her senior debut at Jesolo this year, winning gold with the team and placing 8th in the all-around at that meet. Alyona's claim to fame is her packed bars routine, featuring lots of in-bar stalder work, giving her a huge 6.2 D score. Alyona has been mostly known for her bars, ala her big sister Polina (sophomore at Michigan).

The junior title went to Emma Malabuyo, who actually had the highest all-around total of all competitors, junior AND senior with 56.750, beating out last year's junior national champ, Maile O'Keefe. Emma was a cool, clean competitor who has been around for a couple of years on the junior scene. She was third in the junior all-around at Jesolo earlier this year, and she took home a vault title at Gymnix. She didn't have the highest difficulty of any of her competitors, but she was the most consistent. Since she beat everyone, I am taking this opportunity to declare her Emma Malabuyo Regina Gymnastica -the True Queen of USA Gymnastics.

My new favorites -

Making a huge impression was Abby Paulson, who trains at Twin City Twisters, Maggie Nichols gymnastics alma-mater. She was as lovely as Maggie, beautiful toes and a smooth, silky style. She came out in a soft, pastel pink and yellow ombre leo, on trend with the bright theme of a Lisa Frank store threw up on us that has apparently replaced #HotPinkNation as the color trend of choice.

For juniors, Jay Jay Marshall of Tigar, made a huge impression, putting up big difficulty on floor and vault. She's been known to have randomly thrown an Amanar in the past and will be expected to in the future. Jay Jay is this tiny little thing from Greeley (best thing to come out of that place ever), with an adorable poofy ponytail. She put up a full twisting double layout and an amazing Dos Santos that rivals Kennedy Baker's. She performed to Aliya Mustafina's floor music from 2013, obviously winning my heart forever.

Kalyany Steele, tied for third with WOGA's Luisa Blanco, had the best reaction ever to landing a bars dismount. She landed her double layout dismount and salutes the judges and appears to mouth the words "wow" and looks around confused for a second on where to exit the podium. Something, I would probably do... because I get confused quite frequently.

Kalyany actually revealed in an interview with Flo Gymnastics that she's actually been dealing with injuries for about six months and this was her first meet back. Yeah, ok no biggie...

Jade Carey, another first year senior, showed up and won the vault with a Kas/Tsuk double full and an Amanar. If that wasn't enough, she came to do floor and was proclaimed the new Floor Queen by the Gymternet at large, throwing a 6.0 D on floor, with huge skills, a tucked double double, full twisting double layout and ending with a tuck full in, ala Simone Biles or MyKayla Skinner's Utah floor routine.  With her power, the gymternet has already claimed her as the next World Vault champion, ala Kayla Williams in 2009.

Those are really just a few out of the many favorites I have... I'll probably have to do a separate post for them.

2. Riley McCusker's New Skill - the Tucked Downie

During her bar routine, Riley McCusker didn't have enough height to get her Downie all the way over the bar. So she tucked her legs to get her release over the bar and to catch it without dying.


3. Guys - The Wolf-Turn Apocalypse Is Back With A Vengeance

The wolf turn problem has just gotten worse. They're now starting to connect MULTIPLE wolf-turns and they're not pretty. Not even a little bit.

The FIG tried to stop this maddening trend by capping the number of rotations one could do in a wolf turn, so there would not be a Wolf Turn 5000. But, it backfired. So instead of trying to do ten rotations in one wolf turn, everyone has just decided to just stop and do another and make everyone so annoyed.

We had an intervention last year, but maybe it's time to just go straight to wolf turn rehab.

4. This is just Classics, let's just chill out here for a sec

Since Worlds is practically here, we need to start thinking about who will make the world's team RIGHT THIS SECOND!!!! Or at least that's what Tim, Nastia and John Roethlisberger want you to think. Since it was such a pressing issue, they brought up new women's program coordinator Valeri Liukin to ask him whom he was looking at to make worlds. Valeri calmly put that to bed with the simple answer of "it's too soon."

Good answer! It's only the first step out of like, three, to make that worlds' team. Even then, it's an individual only worlds, the year after the Olympics. It won't even be the end of someone's career if they don't make this worlds

6. Marissa Oakley's Double Double Bars

7. Sydney Johnson-Scharpf - girl, if you have pneumonia, GO TO THE HOSPITAL!

During the Olympic Channel broadcast, it was revealed that young Ms. Sydney Johnson-Scharpf had been dealing with illness. Not just any illness, but pneumonia. She showed up to Chicago, and only competed one event so she could at least petition her way to P&G's. While her vault was nice (an FTY, very clean and even a bit flared ala NCAA fulls). But I have to say this. Sydney, girl, please, PLEASE don't compete right now! You will be ok... We want you to live. And pneumonia is a BIG FREAKING DEAL! Seriously, my husband had it a long, long time ago. He had to go to the hospital. So please, get better!

That's all for now...

I'm going to need to make this a two parter... because I still have way more to talk about and I've been sitting on this post for days.

I'll post more tomorrow.


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