After podium training at the Pacific Rim Championships, it appears that the U.S. women are heavily favored while the men's meet should be a tighter battle among the U.S., China and Japan. Pictured: U.S. gymnasts Jordyn Wieber, Kyla Ross, Lexie Priessman, Amelia Hundley, Gabrielle Douglas and Katelyn Ohashi
After podium training at the Pacific Rim Championships, it appears that the U.S. women are heavily favored while the men's meet should be a tighter battle among the U.S., China and Japan. China as a whole has the best lines on the apparatus, but it's hard to tell if this squad can hit.
The format is 6-5-4, with teams comprised of three seniors and three juniors. Gymnasts who are not entered on a particular event for the team score can still compete on that apparatus for the all-around competition, which will be determined by the team results.
Sam Mikulak (USA)
The city of Everett, just north of Seattle on the I-5, played host to Skate America in 2008, which helped its bid to host this event. It also didn't hurt that USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny grew up in the Seattle area. 2004 Olympian Brett McClure is from this area, and Katelyn Ohashi is also a Washington native.
NBC will televise the artistic women's team and all-around competition on Sat., 1-3 p.m. EST. Look for podium training routines and men's coverage on the USAG YouTube channel.
This competition is important for someone like Michigan sophomore Sam Mikulak, who broke both ankles at the Puerto Rico Cup last summer and missed the Visa championships and world team selection. The son of two former Cal-Berkeley gymnasts, Mikulak is a dynamic, innovative gymnast whose got a triple-double on floor, among other big skills. His combination tumbling is difficult, precise and clean (back-1.5 twist to full-twisting front 1.75; back-2.5 twist to rudi; double-twisting front to front-full).
"If they see that I am able to be confident and hit my sets, I think my chances are going to be real good of making the Olympic team," he told IG.
Kyla Ross is another gymnast who can make the 2012 Olympic team, which is probably why she's also going to the City of Jesolo (Italy) competition in two weeks. As a first-year senior, Ross needs to compete in front of international judges as much as possible.
Ohashi, who dominated the Visa junior championships last summer, is now one of the only U.S. gymnasts not to have an Amanar vault in her arsenal. But she's so strong elsewhere it might even out.
It will also be interesting to see an official rematch between world champion Jordyn Wieber and upstart Gabrielle Douglas. That the all-around is not a separate competition might help reduce the pressure somewhat.
Friday will feature the women's team and all-around competition, and the men will go on Saturday. Sunday will conclude with apparatus finals. Check back for more reports.