The US Classic is set to take place on July 28th, with podium training happening on the 27th. Classic is always tricky to preview, because we have no idea who will do the all around, and who will show up to do one or two events. Obviously, those who want to qualify to nationals as an all arounder will plan to compete all four, but the big names/national team members can afford to show a few events, and save the all around for nationals. Here, I’ll go through the roster for classics, name the competitors, and list their key routines/what they’re trying to accomplish at this meet. So, let’s get started with a little someone named…
Simone Biles: Simone was originally planning to compete bars and beam here, but then revealed via Twitter that she’s too good for the rest of the world and will show all four events at Classic. Obviously, she could show up, do a split jump on the beam, and immediately be handed five Olympic gold medals, but our Simone has much more in store than that. If you’ve watched the Biles.Is.Back video on YouTube, you’ve seen the plethora of potential upgrades that USAG teased us with. We were shown a Moors on floor, a TTY on vault, a double double off of beam, all of which are exciting, but the real show stopper was bars. Simone has always been a good, consistent bars workers, never not scoring in the 14.8-15.0 range, but we’ve always known she was capable of more. After picking up the Landi’s as coaches, she’s shown a Piked Jaeger (E), Van Leeuwen (E), and a Fabrichnova (F), a total of 1.2 new points in start value, not counting the potential CV. While the rest of her events have exciting upgrade potential, I’m most excited to see her bars composition. She revealed in an interview that she’s planning on competing the Van Leeuwen and the Fabrichnova, as well as a Maloney to Tkatchev combo. Simone will be expected to win the all around, along with VT, BB, and FX for sure. She also has a chance to win bars with Gabby Perea skipping this meet. If she can handle the nerves, she’s on the fast track to the win here, as well as the worlds team later this year.
Morgan Hurd: After winning the world all around title last year, Hurd showed up to American Cup looking even stronger, as well as showing several upgrades that will help keep her ahead of the all around pack, trying to dethrone her as the #2 all arounder behind Simone. While we’re unsure of the events she plans to compete, Hurd’s goal will be a podium finish in the all around (provided she competes it), as well as placing in the top three on bars and beam. Though very much an all around gymnast, Hurd’s most competitive single event has been bars, where she boasts a high start value of 6.1, as well as some lovely form and lines. Beam is the most stacked event in the US right now, but Hurd has the potential to be the #3 beamer behind Kara Eaker and Simone Biles. Hurd has great form on beam, as well as good difficulty with her back tuck full and piked full in dismount. A successful classic for Hurd would look something like a podium finish on bars, as well as a top-five beam routine, both of which are distinctly possible.
Ragan Smith: After winning nationals last year, Smith made the worlds team, was favored to win the all around, and was injured in the warmups just before the competition started. Despite her bad luck, Smith showed up at Jesolo and looked good, if not her usual best, downgrading her vault to a full and struggling with her floor tumbling. Luckily, she looked good on bars and beam, medaling on both events, keeping her afloat in team conversations. The goal for Ragan will be to outscore Morgan Hurd on both bars and beam, proving she still has the potential to be the #2 all arounder. Achieving this (along with podium finishes on the events she competes) would be considered a successful classic for Ragan.
Emma Malabuyo: Emma was the breakout star at Jesolo, winning the all around, as well as beam and floor. Though she’s usable on all events, the ones where she’ll make an impact would be beam and floor. Unluckily for Malabuyo, beam is the most stacked event for the US right now, and floor is mostly covered, with Biles and Carey taking up two spots. It’s critical that Malabuyo defeat Carey on floor, as well as place in the top three on beam, otherwise. A successful classic for Emma would include top three finishes on both beam and floor, as well as the all around, should she choose to compete it.
Jade Carey: Carey came out of nowhere to medal on both vault and floor at worlds last year, and has since been adding skills on bars to compete as an all arounder. Though Simone possess’s a similar skill set, Jade is still very much in play to beef up the vault and floor lineups at worlds. That said, her spot is far from guaranteed. Her Amanar landing is what cost her the vault gold medal at worlds last year, and if she hasn’t cleaned it up, she’s susceptible to being passed by Jordan Chiles’s Amanar. While she has gigantic tumbling on floor, she lacks the artistry that all of Smith, Hurd, and Malabuyo possess. In order to retain the #2 spot on floor, she has to hit her floor routine with good landings, but adding some more difficult dance elements would also serve her well (she counted a B at worlds last year). Carey must consistently place second on both vault and floor if she wants to make the worlds team. A good Classic for Jade would look something like… Top five all around and second on vault and floor?
Kara Eaker: Eaker has shown up this year to become the unprecedented beam queen among the US. Kara seems to be eyeing an Alyssa Batman type spot on the team this year, and while that’s a tougher ask on a five person team, if she consistently wins beam this summer, how could you say no to that? Obviously, beam will be the key event for Eaker, but her next objective will be to show a second usable event to prove that she isn’t a one trick pony. She has the GAGE lines on bars, as well as some decent tumbling on floor, so we’ll see how she stacks up on those events. Placing first on beam is the goal for Eaker, and achieving that would be considered a successful US classic.
Jordan Chiles: Considering she lives two towns away from me, I’m a HUGE fan of Jordan’s. After placing second at nationals, Chiles went to the Stuttgart World Cup and placed third in the all around after falling on her newly upgraded bars and beam routines. While she has tremendous potential on all four events, the one she can use to standout is vault, where she has a great Amanar. She needs to hit the vault, as well as floor, where she has a good combo of artistry and tumbling. Jordan’s best move to make the worlds team would be to steal Jade Carey’s spot by somehow outscoring her on both vault and floor. If she can accomplish that, she should make the team. However, her goal at classics will be to hit whichever events she competes, and prove that she’s a viable backup on bars and beam.
Riley Mccusker: After an untimely injury following nationals last year, Mccusker returned at the American Classic, placing second on beam with a 14.0 and scoring a 13.5 on bars after falling on her Van Leeuwen. Despite being injury prone, Mccusker is still in play for worlds this year, due to her prowess on uneven bars. The goal for classic will be to qualify to the all around at nationals (she’s qualified on UB and BB) as well as to win bars and place in the top three on beam. Achieving this would make it a successful classic for Riley.
Olivia Dunne: Olivia Dunne is an absolutely gorgeous gymnast with a TON of potential for the future. She isn’t going to factor into the worlds team, but an alternate position is possible. The goal for Olivia is to qualify to the all around at nationals, which she can do as long as she hits.
Grace Mccallum: Grace Mccallum has twice been able to capitalize on Morgan Hurd’s mistakes, defeating her at both Pac Rims and the April verification camp. Mccallum is a FABULOUS all arounder, with no true weak event. Her best chance to make the worlds team would be to do so as an all arounder. While that’s a tough ask with Biles, Hurd, Smith, and Malabuyo all likely to defeat her, she’s a consistent gymnast and could capitalize on others mistakes. The classics goal for Mccallum would be to place second in the all around, granted she competes it, along with placing in the top three-five on bars, floor, and vault.
Alyona Schennikova: Schennikova is the defending champion at this event, and while it’s nearly impossible to defend her title, she’ll be looking for a podium finish on bars, her best event.
Audrey Davis: Audrey Davis needs to qualify to nationals as an all arounder. She’s qualified on vault (where she has a DTY) and bars (where she’s channeled her inner WOGA with a Healy to layout Jaeger combo!), but she’s talented enough to make it as an all a rounder. A top five finish on bars would be nice for her, but her main goal will be qualifying.
Shilese Jones: Jones showed up at the American Classic and won both vault and floor, the latter of which where she has gigantic tumbling such as a double double and a double Arabian. A successful classic for Jones would look like top five finishes on both vault and floor.
Adeline Kenlin: Kenlin placed seventh in the all around at Jesolo this year and looked great while doing so, with great front tumbling on floor, as well as aggressive bars and beam work. Sadly, she’s since been injured, relegating her to just bars here. She’s great on the event, with an inbar to stalder full to tkatchev combo, along with a double front half out dismount, and a top five finish would be a successful showing.