Impressions from the Secret U.S. Classic Podium Training


Anna Rose Johnson makes some observations about the Secret US Classic podium training today.

Podium training at the Secret U.S. Classic concluded at 1:00 p.m. after running since 8:30 this morning. I watched a good portion of it, and I was pleased with the high caliber of acrobatics and artistry in the arena. The gymnasts are so talented!
Of course, the sessions had their rough spots, as all do, but for the most part, I think the gymnasts looked quite ready to compete tomorrow!

McKayla Maroney trained on all four apparatus, although she will only compete vault and floor in tomorrow’s competition. I must say I was surprised: she only did typical vault timers (not her real vaults, just warm-ups), and no tumbling on floor that I caught. Most of her work was done on balance beam and uneven bars. On beam, she showed a front tuck, side aerial, split leap, sissone, and a back layout series. On bars, she did a Maloney, a Pak salto, a Gienger, some pirouetting work, and a beautiful full-twisting double tuck dismount.

Kyla Ross did a few vault timers, some steady beam practice, and a gorgeous double tuck pass on floor. Her spectacular uneven bars included a Maloney, a Pak salto, a Shaposhnikova-half back up to the high bar, a 1 ½ pirouette into a Jaegar, and a double layout dismount with a small step.

The two much-anticipated veterans aside, here are some notes I took of some interesting skills showcased by other gymnasts:

Simone Biles: Tkatchev, Pak salto, full-twisting double tuck dismount [uneven bars], switch leap, back tuck, front tuck, back handspring, back handspring, layout [beam], double double, 2 ½ layout [floor exercise]

Mykayla Skinner: Maloney, Shaposhnikova-half [uneven bars], flip-flop, Arabian, stuck double tuck dismount [balance beam], Arabian double front [floor exercise]

Maggie Nichols: Shaposhnikova-half, Maloney, Jaegar, Tkatchev, Pak salto, double layout dismount [uneven bars] front tuck, split leap series, full turn, back layout series, front walkover connected to side aerial [balance beam] stuck full-in [floor exercise]

Peyton Ernst: Sheep jump, split leap, back pike, back handspring, back handspring, layout full [balance beam]

Kennedy Baker: Piked Tkatchev, Pak salto [uneven bars], triple turn in lunge position [balance beam]

Lexie Priessman: Weiler kip, Maloney, Tkatchev [uneven bars], double tuck dismount [balance beam]

Madison Desch: Tkatchev [uneven bars], side aerial [balance beam], triple twist [floor exercise]

Brenna Dowell: front tuck mount connected to split leap, Kotchetkova, side aerial, double turn in lunge position, back handspring, back handspring, double tuck dismount [balance beam]

Ariana Guerra: full-twisting double layout dismount [uneven bars]

Erin Macadaeg: Jaegar, Tkatchev, Pak salto, full-twisting double tuck dismount [uneven bars]

I saw Abigail Milliet warming up, but I accidentally missed all of her regular routines! Also, I wasn’t able to catch much of Rachel Gowey, Lacy Dagen, or Madison Kocian, unfortunately.

I never saw Grace McLaughlin. Maybe somehow I just didn’t notice her out on the floor.

There were 47 junior gymnasts on the floor this morning, so things were very busy! During warm-ups, there were probably 20 girls on the floor exercise mat at once! I was impressed with their abilities, and it was fascinating to watch.

General Impressions:

Polina Shchennikova caught my eye by looking very ready, as did the Texas Dreams gymnasts. In the warm-up they looked extremely flexible and fit, and on floor they showed superb leap extension. I saw a lot of difficulty around the arena: on balance beam, there were side aerials, back layouts, and front tucks. I also saw a lunge turn, a sheep jump, a two foot layout, a switch ring leap, and an Onodi! On floor exercise, I saw the following tumbling passes: a 1 1/2 twist through to a triple, a double tuck, a tucked full-in, and a double pike. On bars, I saw Tkatchevs, Pak saltos, double layout dismounts, and even one Bhardwaj, which is a full-twisting Pak salto!

The competition is going to be fantastic, so make sure to watch the livestream at, with juniors from 1-3 p.m Central time and seniors from 6-8 p.m Central!

Videos of interviews and podium training can be found here. 

Image via USA Gymnastics.


  1. Clare says:

    Would have liked to hear details about more than just Ross and Maroney considering they arent the only “important” ones….However, Cant wait till tomorrow!!

  2. Tmoney says:

    Ross floor looks like she has added upgrades. Her beam was great. One balance check her bars are right up their with the best in the world. She has the upgrades she executes that’s the difference. I see her wining with the upgrades and her lines. But most of all she executes. If she keeps working on the floor upgrades she’ll be ready for anyone at worlds.

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