This year’s US Classic gave us the opportunity to see many of the top American gymnasts compete in the all-around as they prepare for the national and world championships. At nationals, Ragan Smith will get a chance to defend her title. However, we haven’t seen Smith back at her full difficulty yet. With Simone Biles’ high difficulty values and clean execution, she is once again the favorite to win the all-around title. Other top contenders include Smith, Morgan Hurd and Riley McCusker.
As long as McCusker remains consistent, she will stay in the running for a podium spot. At Classics, she looked steadier and more prepared than she did in 2017. She has also improved her weaker events, cleaning up her Yurchenko double full and adding a double layout on floor. Hurd will also put up a fight for a podium spot, with her upgraded Moors on floor and a 6.1 difficulty on bars. It will be interesting to see where Smith fits in this picture. Her solid beam and potential upgrades should keep her near the top of the standings.
Other gymnasts to watch out for at nationals include Jordan Chiles, who debuted a second vault at the U.S. Classic and has been increasing difficulty and improving execution over the years. Shilese Jones surprised us last weekend, placing fourth and showing beautiful execution on all four events. Alyona Shchennikova, who won the US Classic last year, has an incredible bar routine with a 6.2 difficulty. Any of these girls could potentially sneak onto the podium providing they hit all four routines.
Based on the U.S. Classic, Simone Biles, Morgan Hurd, and Riley McCusker are the most likely gymnasts for the world championship team. Assuming Ragan Smith is at full strength, she is a likely fourth member of the team. The real question comes down to who gets the fifth team spot. It could be filled by Jade Carey, who can contribute on vault and floor and can compete all-around in qualifications in case of injury. This would be a well-balanced team, with at least four competitive routines on every event.
Team: Biles, Hurd, McCusker, Carey, Smith
VT: Smith, Hurd, Carey, Biles
UB: Biles,Smith, Hurd, McCusker
BB: McCusker, Hurd, Smith, Biles
FX: Hurd, Smith, Carey, Biles
This team configuration would also maximize the potential for earning individual medals- every gymnast could conceivably make at least one event final.
The 2018 US Gymnastics Championships will be held August 16-19 in Boston, Massachusetts. Following the national championships and a selection camp, the World Championship team will be chosen.Tags: Alyona Shchennikova, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, Morgan Hurd, Ragan Smith, Riley McCusker, Shilese Jones, Simone Biles, United States, US Classic