Here’s one “best of” list from the CoverGirl Classic:
1. Best beam comeback: Mackenzie Caquatto. Beam has always been Caquatto’s nervous event, and a season’s worth of NCAA meets has done wonders for her confidence on this event. She looked calmer than she ever has performing on beam at the CoverGirl Classic.
2. Best recovery: Chellsie Memmel’s save on her standing Arabian, or Casey Jo Magee’s side somie on beam come to mind instantly, but all-around champion Alexandra Raisman’s calm and collected performance on three events after making two major mistakes on uneven bars is what I’d give the award to. Magee had the most difficult routine on balance beam skills-wise, but Raisman had that floor routine — and an Amanar — to contend with after her big mistake.
3. Best new floor routine: We can argue about this, but my vote goes to Alicia Sacramone for drama and dance (not to mention some very decent tumbling) in a compelling new floor routine.
4. Best senior debut: Tie: Sabrina Vega and McKenzie Wofford. Not a whole lot might have been expected from bars star Wofford after she left WOGA, but the 15-year-old, who has done the tour of Texas gyms (Capital, Stars Houston, WOGA and now Zenith Elite) in her short career looked strong and impressive throughout the meet. Vega, a fixture on the junior national team, was also a bit better than expected, showing a new double-twisting Yurchenko on vault but falling on a release move on bars.
5. Best focus: Tie: Gabrielle Douglas and Jordyn Wieber. The energetic Douglas has admitted that the mental game often keeps her from rising to her potential. It didn’t in Chicago — her bar routine was the best she’s ever done, and one of the most flawless routines of the night. As for Wieber, she provided two other near-perfect sets, calmly executing her monstrously difficult beam routine, then waiting around two more events to go on bars. She handled both extremely well.
6. Best Amanar: Cincinatti Gymnastics Academy’s Lexie Priessman won the junior title on vault with the only comfortable-looking 2.5 twisting Yurchenko in the competition.
7. Best hedging to the media: Nastia Liukin. The Olympic all-around champion continues to push back the date of when she will decide whether or not to commit to an elite comeback, telling the Associated Press that she will likely make a decision this fall. As Shawn Johnson might tell her, even Olympic gold medalists need a few meets to work out the kinks after not competing for several years. This is not to say that it is completely impossible that Liukin will attempt to get onto the London-bound U.S. team, but she will not make things easy for herself if she starts serious training less than a year before the Games.
8. Best attack: Shawn Johnson after a fall. Frazzled and self-conscious after a fluke fall on her uneven bars dismount, Johnson gave up too easily when her tumbling series on beam came out a tad off. But then she got mad, attacking the rest of the routine, particularly her second flight series: a switch leap, Gainer layout, back pike. Never mind the double pike dismount, which was fine too, but that flight series, from a mad, all-the-sudden human Shawn was the lasting impression left from her routines.
9. Best killer tumbling pass: Alexandra Raisman’s 1.5 through to Arabian double front immediate punch front is being lauded as the hardest combo tumbling ever done. And she had too much power when she did it.
10. Best original combination: Aja-Monet Sims’s Wyler to immediate Comaneci on uneven bars is just wild — and was impeccably performed.
11. Best all-around comeback: Who else? Chellsie Effing Memmel. ‘Nuff said.
Related: Photo gallery! It’s the Best of the 2011 CoverGirl Classic, as captured by gymnastics photographer Greg Long. Click the image of Sabrina Vega off to the left to enter the gallery, or simply click here to see the best snaps of Sacramone, Memmel, Johnson, Douglas, Vega and many others. Enjoy.
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