More than six months removed from the 2018 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Doha, Qatar and almost a year from the last time many of these gymnasts competed, there’s a lot of questions and likely some answers coming into this weekend in Louisville, Kentucky at the 2019 GK US Classic. With this year’s World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany on the horizon for the senior gymnasts and coveted spots on the US Women’s Gymnastics Olympic Team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games only a year from being decided, the real race through the 2019 elite season and into 2020 starts now and it all starts with five-time Olympic medalist and 20-time world medalist Simone Biles.
Leading a crop of very deep and talented seniors, Biles sits miles ahead in front of even her closest competitors, looking a lock to win however many events she competes on here in Louisville, a sixth national championship at the US Gymnastics Championships in a few weeks’ time in Kansas City, and even more World Championships glory later this year.
The new Biles 2.0, coached by Laurent and Cecile Landi at World Champions Centre in Spring, Texas, has continued to soar even higher in 2019 after an incredible comeback to the sport in 2018. On Friday during podium training inside the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville, Biles showed off a incredible triple-twisting double-tuck on floor exercise as well as adding a punch front layout to her eponymous Biles tumbling pass, showing just how she’s continued to push the envelope for greatness in elite gymnastics.
And while Biles- who will likely not compete in the all-around and only do uneven bars and balance beam to rest- will be the biggest star on display Saturday night in Louisville, the biggest story will be the race between eight of the US’ best senior elites for spots on the 2019 Pan American Games team in Lima, Peru for Team USA.
Five seniors out of eight eligible athletes will be chosen to represent the US in Peru, with Morgan Hurd, Riley McCusker, Kara Eaker, Leanne Wong, Sunisa Lee, Aleah Finnegan, Sloane Blakely, and Shilese Jones all looking to book their tickets to Lima this weekend in Louisville.
For Hurd and McCusker, two members of the US’ gold-medal winning World Championships team last year, the two will be looking to battle it out to show which is the best of the rest behind Biles and lead the all-around pack for Team USA.
The US Classic will also see a taste of NCAA Gymnastics this weekend as Rio 2016 Olympic alternate and former Utah gymnast MyKayla Skinner– who deferred her senior season in order to make a run for an Olympic spot for Tokyo 2020- and current Florida Gator Trinity Thomas– who just wrapped up her freshman season in Gainesville- will look to throw themselves in the mix with strong performance in their comebacks to elite gymnastics.
In the junior field, the all-around podium will be a battle between Junior World Championships team members Kayla DiCello, Skye Blakely, Sydney Barros, and Konnor McClain as well as MG Elite’s Olivia Greaves.
DiCello of Hill’s has shown herself to be the most consistent and reliable of the juniors in the all-around, hitting at a remarkable rate and not showing any weakness on a particular event. Skye Blakely of WOGA could be the biggest threat for the all-around title however, as she has soared up the junior ranks with her powerful gymnastics and confidence on all four events, showing the best performance of any of the US juniors in Szczecin, Poland a month ago at the first Junior Worlds.
Finally, look for Texas Dreams‘ Barros to show off her impressive tumbling and dance on floor exercise, McClain’s beautiful form and precision on balance beam, and MG Elite‘s Greaves to shine on the uneven bars with her impressive difficulty and incredible lines and flexibility.
Competition at the GK US Classic in Louisville, Kentucky begins on Friday, July 19th with the Hopes Championships before the junior elite session on Saturday, July 20th at 1 PM ET followed by the senior elite session at 6:30 PM ET at the KFC Yum! Center.Tags: 2018 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, 2019 GK US Classic, 2019 Pan American Games, 2019 US Gymnastics Championships, Aleah Finnegan, elite, elite gymnastics, Florida, Florida Gators, GK US Classic, Gymnastics, Hill's, Kara Eaker, Kayla DiCello, Konnor McClain, Leanne Wong, Morgan Hurd, MyKayla Skinner, NCAA Gymnastics, Olivia Greaves, Olympic Games, Olympics, Pac 12, Pan American Games, Riley McCusker, SEC, Shilese Jones, Simone Biles, Skye Blakely, Sloane Blakely, Sunisa Lee, Sydney Barros, Tokyo 2020, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Trinity Thomas, US, US Classic, US Gymnastics Championships, USA Gymnastics, Utah, Utah Utes, women's gymnastics, World Champions Centre, World Championships