It was a new year, a new US elite season, a second competition of 2019 for five-time Olympic medalist and 20-time World medal winner Simone Biles of World Champions Centre, and it was still much of the same- and a lot of new, unprecedented, and in many was impossible upgrades to go with it.
For the second straight season, Biles blitzed her way to another GK US Classic all-around title, dominating the competition inside the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky to win her fourth US Classic title with a straight 60.000.
Once again showing that she just won’t be slowed down, Biles 2.0 debuted more improvements and more upgraded skills if that was even possible, highlighting her stellar night at the competition on the floor exercise with an incredible punch front layout added into her eponymous Biles tumbling pass on the floor. And yet, that was the skill she went out of bounds on, and the thing the American gymnastics legend was angriest about afterwards. The perfectionism and confidence of a true champion truly looking to improve and beat herself and be an even better Biles everyday.
Biles began her night on the uneven bars, where she’s seen the strongest improvement since her comeback to gymnastics at this event a year ago, scoring a strong 14.450 in a solid routine punctuated by a double-twisting, double tuck dismount- also known as a Fabrichnova- made to look easy by Biles.
Continuing on the balance beam, Biles showed a new routine without her Barani and punch front of last season, still showing just as much strength and precision in her beam work to score a 14.900. Biles’ upgraded floor exercise came third in the night for her, winning first on the event however with a huge 15.000 despite the out of bounds error.
Sealing the competition and another dominant title-winning performance, Biles soared on her incredibly improved Cheng vault, also winning that title with a massive 15.650.
Just behind Biles and earning the title ‘Best of the Rest’ in Louisville was MG Elite‘s Riley McCusker, showing an incredibly consistent and solid performance across all four events to score a 57.900 for silver. McCusker particularly shined on her signature events, the uneven bars and balance beam, showing her beautiful form and artistry on those events for scores of 14.550 and 15.100, respectively.
Another member of the US gold-medal winning 2018 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships team in Doha, Qatar last year with McCusker, Twin City Twisters‘ Grace McCallum earned third with a 57.700, including a 14.800 on vault, a 14.550 on bars, and a 14.250 on floor.
One of the biggest stories of this US Classic was the US Women’s Gymnastics Team selection for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru next week and after Saturday’s competition, the eight-person nominative team is now the final five-person team of McCusker, Morgan Hurd, Kara Eaker, Leanne Wong, and Aleah Finnegan, with Shilese Jones selected as the alternate.
Hurd, the 2017 World all-around gold medalist, showed downgraded routines here at Classics but still finished sixth in the all-around with a 56.500, good enough to punch her ticked to the Pan American Games and win the uneven bars title with a 14.700 on her precise and clean routine.
The trio of GAGE athletes heading to Lima consists of Eaker, Wong, and Finnegan, with each finishing fourth, fifth, and seventh all-around, respectively. Eaker’s trademark balance beam was again incredibly impressive, scoring a massive 15.400 of some uber-difficult, jam-packed connections.
Olympic individual hopeful Jade Carey of Arizona Sunrays powered to an impressive all-around performance at the US Classic, finishing tenth overall and highlighted by a huge 14.900 on vault and a 14.250 on floor. Another powerhouse, Jordan Chiles– no longer at Naydenov and now at World Champions Centre with Biles- showed some huge vaulting of her own for a 14.700.
Finally, two NCAA Gymnastics powerhouses- MyKayla Skinner of Utah and Trinity Thomas of Florida– both showed progress and promise in their respective returns to elite gymnastics, with Skinner scoring a huge 14.900 on vault but struggling on her usually explosive floor exercise and tumbling while Thomas showed strong work on bars and beam for scores of 14.200 and 14.000, respectively.Tags: 2018 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, 2019 GK US Classic, 2019 Pan American Games, Aleah Finnegan, Arizona Sunrays, elite, elite gymnastics, Florida, Florida Gators, GAGE, GK US Classic, Grace McCallum, Gymnastics, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, Kara Eaker, Leanne Wong, MG Elite, Morgan Hurd, MyKayla Skinner, NCAA Gymnastics, Pac 12, Pan American Games, Riley McCusker, SEC, Shilese Jones, Simone Biles, Trinity Thomas, Twin City Twisters, US, US Classic, USA Gymnastics, Utah, Utah Utes, women's gymnastics, World Champions Centre, World Championships