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Written by dwight normile    Friday, 14 April 2017 15:43    PDF Print
Oklahoma, UCLA, Utah Advance To Super Six After First Qualifying Session
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Even with a few mistakes, top-ranked Oklahoma won the first qualifying session Friday afternoon at the 2017 NCAA Women's Championships in St. Louis. Senior Chayse Capps (pictured) bounced out of the floor area after a double pike in rotation one, and freshman Maggie Nichols, the No. 1-ranked all-arounder, was near perfect before dropping off balance beam on a front salto in the final rotation.

The Sooners posted a 197.725 and will be joined by UCLA (197.500) and Utah (197.050) tomorrow in the Super Six Finals.

Three freshmen grabbed the top spots in the all-around after the first qualification session: Utah's MyKayla Skinner (39.6125), and UCLA teammates Kyla Ross (39.575) and Madison Kocian (39.550). Maddie Karr (Denver) sits in fourth (39.475) and Baely Rowe (Utah) and Hailey Burleson (Washington) tied for fifth with 39.400.

Washington continued its amazing run under first-year head coach Elise Ray and placed fourth (196.5625), followed by Denver (196.475) and Oregon State (196.3625).

The all-around and apparatus champions will be determined after the second qualifying session tonight.

Apparatus leaders after session 1.

Vault: Four gymnasts are tied with 9.90: Skinner, Capps, AJ Jackson (Oklahoma), Nichols.

Uneven Bars: Three tied with 9.950: Ross, Nicole Lehrmann (Oklahoma), Nichols.

Balance Beam: 1. Ross (9.9625); 2. Capps (9.950); 3. Lehrmann 9.925.

Floor Exercise: 1. Skinner 9.9625; 2. Kocian 9.9375; 3(t). Nichols, Jackson, Angi Cipra (UCLA), Hallie Mossett (UCLA), Rowe 9.925.

Written by dwight normile    Thursday, 13 April 2017 15:25    PDF Print
Oklahoma Aims For Its Third NCAA Women's Title In St. Louis
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

The Oklahoma women are favored to win the 2017 NCAA Championships, which is hardly an overstatement. The only meet they have lost in the past three years was to LSU, their first meet of the 2016 season. OU won its first NCAA title in 2014, when it tied Florida.

The Sooners went undefeated in 2015 and the pressure increased with every victory and eventually cost them back-to-back championships. They finished third, behind Florida and Utah.

"Even though we were winning by tenths, it still held a lot of weight on their shoulders," said Oklahoma coach K.J. Kindler (pictured with Maggie Nichols). "And though we didn't emphasize it, I think they felt it."

2015 also was the year that Utah came within 0.5 of earning its elusive 10th NCAA crown, which would have been a fitting end for head coach Greg Marsden, who retired after 40 years. Just days after Florida's win, head coach Rhonda Faehn resigned to become Sr. Vice President of the Women's Program at USA Gymnastics. The Gators quickly hired Auburn assistant Jenny Rowland, but Florida finished fourth in 2016.

Kindler has built a strong program at OU in 11 years. LSU's D-D Breaux has done the same over four decades, and is coming off a victory at the highly competitive SEC Championships and a program-best runner-up finish at the 2016 NCAAs. LSU's only loss this season was to Oklahoma, a quad meet held in St. Charles, Mo., which is not too far from St. Louis, where the NCAA Championships begin on Friday, April 14.

Oklahoma is undefeated again this season, but perhaps the Sooners have learned to use that accomplishment to their advantage. The team also has a chance to go 1-2 in the all-around with top-ranked Maggie Nichols and Chayse Capps (No. 3), the latter placing second to Florida's Bridget Sloan last year. Utah's MyKayla Skinner is ranked No. 2.

Washington's first-year head coach Elise Ray can certainly feel proud in qualifying her team to the big dance. Word has it that she sought advice from Kindler, which proved to be a good move.

Beyond the OU-LSU battle that definitely could materialize, other teams to watch will be Florida, Utah, Michigan and UCLA. The bottom half of the rankings include Denver, Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, Washington and Oregon State.

ESPN will be televising the women's NCAA Championships. Check your local listings.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 11 April 2017 06:46    PDF Print
Ross On Collegiate Gymnastics: 'I Feed Off the Energy'
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2012 Olympic team gold medalist and UCLA freshman Kyla Ross told IG that, although her routines may have less content than during her international career, collegiate gymnastics presents its own challenges.

Kyla Ross

“I think it’s more of a mental game,” said Ross, who placed second all-around at the 2013 World Championships in Antwerp and third all-around at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning. “Yes, my routines are shorter but you’re out there trying to be as perfect as you can be. It’s about going out and practicing all your mental cues before you go up and hit your routine.”

Ross said adapting to the demanding NCAA competition schedule of frequent meets — sometimes more than one per week — has been one of the biggest tests in her transition from international to collegiate competition.

“Coming into college, I really didn’t realize how important pre-season was,” said Ross, who during her international career trained under coaches Jenny Zhang and Howie Liang at Gym-Max in Costa Mesa, Calif. “That’s where you really have to perfect your routines, because, once season hits, you’re competing every weekend. We had three meets in one week. It’s definitely tolling, but it’s so much fun. To be able to come out in front of crowds like this (at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion) every weekend is my favorite thing.”

Ross said her training is tailored to the physical demands of frequent competitions during the NCAA meet season, which runs from January through April. The NCAA Championships will take place April 14-15 in St. Louis.

“Competing every weekend is tolling on the body, so we definitely have a lot of treatment during the week,” said Ross, who was named the Pac 12 conference Freshman of the Year in gymnastics. “During the season we taper off what we do in the gym and are very mindful of that, so we can come in fresh to the competition each weekend.”

Ross is also enjoying the emphasis on crowd-pleasing performances that collegiate gymnastics encourages.

“The first meet was a change,” Ross told IG. “I wasn’t so used to being so engaged with the crowd, but competing in Pauley has been so much fun. I feed off the energy and it’s so exciting to be able to come out and enjoy yourself, and especially having a close team bond is something special.”

Kyla Ross is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:

Ross cover photo (September 2010)

“Clutch Hitter” - Ross profile (November 2010)

2012 Olympic Games special issue (September 2012)

"Focus Forward" – Ross cover photo and interview (November 2012)

2013 World Championships coverage (November 2013)

2014 World Championships coverage (November 2914)

“The Little Gym with a Big Heart” - Gym-Max feature (October 2015)

Ross center poster (April 2016)

To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions or to purchase back issues, click here.

Written by dwight normile    Friday, 07 April 2017 08:57    PDF Print
No Better Match Than Gymnastics and Skating, Says Producer Disson
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Featured in the April 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine, producer Steve Disson said the recently televised “Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular” presents an organically appealing match of artistic and athletic merits.

“I think the two sports together are terrific because they both have high entertainment value, they’re both very athletic and also artistic,” said Disson, who has produced the show for the last 28 years. “If you had to put two sports together, I can’t think of a better match.”

Disson, who earned a master's in marketing from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, commented on whether skating and gymnastics targets different people.

"Skating audiences are primarily older females," he said. "Gymnastics is a little bit different because you’re really going after younger moms and their daughters."

Simone Biles headlined the cast for the Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular in March.

He also shared a funny story from 1989, the first time he had worked with Bart Conner, Nadia Comaneci and Paul Ziert.

"I always kind of take, even though I don’t deserve it, a little credit that they kind of got together socially at my show back in ’89," he begins. "Nadia always tells the story that ‘Steve Disson asked me to dance at the post-show party, and I told Steve after dancing with him, the next guy that comes along, I’ll marry him.’ And that was Bart."

Read the complete interview with Disson in the April 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions or to purchase back issues, click here.

Written by dwight normile    Thursday, 06 April 2017 07:45    PDF Print
Moldauer: 'I Don't Want To Be That Big Shot'
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Featured in an interview in the April 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine, recently crowned American Cup all-around champion Yul Moldauer of the U.S. said he wants to remain modest as he gains stature.

“I try not to be cocky,” says Moldauer, who outscored 2016 Olympic all-around silver medalist Oleg Vernyayev of Ukraine for first place at last month’s American Cup in Newark. “I don’t want to be that big shot. I just want to be me. I want to be a normal person.”

Known for his triple-twisting double layout off high bar as a junior, Moldauer understands that hitting six routines is more important than flashy tricks.

"I do [the triple-double] here and there once in a while," says Moldauer, who was born in Seoul, Korea, and adopted as an infant. "But right now I think gymnastics is about hitting and being clean instead of going for bigger skills that you might fall on."

Read “Humble Beginnings” (an interview with Moldauer) and coverage of the American Cup in the April 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions or to purchase back issues, click here.


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