Gymnastics may well be the most photogenic of all sports.
Here, we've put together 10 shots of beautiful gymnastics, captured at just the right moment in time. The gallery features Kyla Ross, Nastia Liukin, Dominique Moceanu, and Kohei Uchimura, among others -- so these photos span the generations of past and present.
I just had one of those moments: I realized that not only is Thanksgiving next week, but that Dec. 1 is the weekend after Thanksgiving. Eeks!
Since we're all supposed to get every last gift purchased on Black Friday and wrapped before the holiday parties start, I put together this list of gymnastics gifts. Consider it eight gift ideas for the fan or gymnast in your life -- male or female, young or old. Some may not apply to all, but hopefully something will fit the bill. (And for the uber fan, many may well apply. I know a few people who have multiple items on this list.)
Got other gift ideas? Submit them in the comments. I'm happy to grow this list!
Simone Biles, the 2013 US national champ, took the world all-around title on Friday in Antwerp, Belgium with an impressive display across four events. Biles earned first by almost 1.00 over US teammate Kyla Ross, though Ross had a slim margin after three events. The pair was also 1-2 in prelims.
Russia's Aliya Mustafina was third, while Larisa Iordache of Romania ended up fourth after a fall off beam.
The US women have reached an incredible level of dominance in international all-around competitions, winning the world or Olympic title in 2004 (Carly Patterson), 2005 (Chellsie Memmel), 2007 (Shawn Johnson), 2008 (Nastia Liukin), 2009 (Bridget Sloan), 2011 (Jordyn Wieber), 2012 (Gabby Douglas), and 2013. What's most interesting, perhaps? Each time, a different gymnast has taken the top spot.
Kohei Uchimura did it again, winning his fourth straight all-around title on Thursday in Antwerp, Belgium at the 2013 worlds. Uchimura won by nearly 2.00 points over his Japanese teammate Ryohei Kato.
Is King Kohei now the best gymnast of all time? He has won four world all-around titles, most in commanding fashion, as well as Olympic gold in the all-around in 2012 and silver in 2008. So, I say yes, definitely. What do you think?
Japanese gymnast Kenzo Shirai is not a completely new face -- but the 2013 worlds, going on now, is the biggest stage he's competed on so far. At worlds, he's finally getting a ton of well-deserved recognition for his insane twisting ability.
What can he do? The short answer is every twisting pass you can think of. I'm not sure which is most impressive: his quad-twisting dismount, his tucked front full to punch triple full, or his back 3.5 to punch front double full.
Shirai qualified into the floor event finals in first place, not surprisingly: His 7.40 D-score is .500 ahead of second-place qualifier Diego Hypolito.
And watch the slo-mo version of Kenzo Shirai here.
The FIG is calling him Mister Twist!
Worlds begins on Sept. 30 with men's qualifying -- and Sam Mikulak is in the first session competing all-around at 4 am ET for the hard core fans! USA Gymnastics is streaming the qualifying and final rounds live on its website -- here's the entire qualifying schedule, with the US lineups:
Monday, Sept. 30: Men's Qualifications (Prelims)
- Subdivision 1: 4 - 6:30 am ET: Sam Mikulak competing all-around
- Subdivision 2: 8 - 10:30 am ET (no US gymnasts competing)
- Subdivision 3: 12 - 2:30 pm ET: John Orozco on parallel bars; Jake Dalton on floor exercise and vault; Alexander Naddour on pommel horse; and Brandon Wynn on still rings (the USA's first event is the parallel bars)
Tuesday, Oct. 1: Men's & Women's Qualifications (Prelims)
- Subdivision 4: 4 - 6:30 am ET: Steven Legendre on floor exercise and vault; John Orozco on pommel horse and high bar; Alexander Naddour on still rings; and Brandon Wynn on parallel bars (the USA's first event is floor)
- Subdivision 1: 8 - 10 am ET: Kyla Ross competing in the all-around
- Subdivision 2: 10:30 am - 12:30 pm ET (no US gymnasts competing)
Wednesday, Oct. 2: Women's Qualifications (Prelims)
- Subdivision 3: 7:30 - 9:30 am ET: Simone Biles competing in the all-around
- Subdivision 4: 10 am - 12 pm ET: McKayla Maroney competing in the all-around
Subdivision 5: 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm ET: (no US gymnasts competing)
The fourth US women's team member, Brenna Dowell, has been named alternate. The other three US gymnasts will be competing all-around.
The women's team for the 2013 worlds has been named following a national team training camp.
No surprises here -- Ross, Maroney, and Biles were considered locks by many after their performances at nationals. I thought the fourth spot could potentially go to a bars and beam specialist, though without an obvious choice for that role at the moment, Dowell, the third best all-around gymnast right now, was also a likely pick.
Worlds, held Sept. 30-Oct. 6 in Antwerp, Belgium, will not have a team event this year, so only the individual events and all-around will be contested.
Ross and Biles, the likely all-arounders on the women's side, are both strong contenders to win medals, if not gold, and Maroney may well defend her world vaulting title from 2011, with Biles a potential medalist on vault as well.
On the men's side, Orozco, eighth all-around in London despite a bad day, could medal in the all-around and on parallel bars or high bar if he's back in top form after an injury earlier this year. National champ Mikulak has also made great strides as an all-around gymnast, and Dalton, Mikulak, and Legendre are all very strong on vault and floor too.
Simone Biles and Sam Mikulak each claimed their first US all-around national title this past weekend -- and while Biles just edged out 2012 Olympian Kyla Ross by .20 for the top spot, Mikulak dominated, winning by almost three points.
USA Gymnastics has provided outstanding coverage of the competition on its website with videos, photos and recaps. And while it was a less competitive meet due to injuries and the fact that it's the post-Olympic year, there were still some great highlights worth checking out:
- McKayla Maroney, floor: The 2012 Olympian rocked her set on day two, with a new, very high double layout mount, and won the floor title
- Simone Biles, vault: We've seen Biles' impressive Amanar vault many times, but at nationals she also did a gorgeous second vault, earning the silver behind Maroney
- Madison Kocian, uneven bars: Kocian had to withdraw from day two and from vault on day one after rolling her ankle on floor, but in a very weak uneven bar field, she scored the second-highest mark (15.00) on day one, making her a strong contender for a specialist spot on the world team*
- Stacey Ervin, floor: Ervin mounts with a front full to punch double pike, then comes back with an Arabian double layout!
- Jake Dalton, floor: Dalton earned the highest score of the meet (16.10) with the best combination of great form and stuck landings
*Update (8/20): Kocian was officially invited to the world team selection camp but won't be attending due to injury, so is ineligible for the world team. Bummer!
The US nationals (called the P&G Championships) begin next Thursday, Aug. 15 in Hartford, Conn. All five members of the 2012 men's Olympic team are on the competitive roster, though Jonathan Horton's wife Haley recently had a baby and Horton told NBC OlympicTalk that it would be a "last-second decision" on whether or not he would compete. John Orozco is the defending champ from last year, but is recovering from a knee injury. Olympic bronze medalist and 2011 national champion Danell Leyva will most likely be the favorite to win, though his Olympic teammate Jake Dalton has been on a hot streak this year, winning both the American Cup and Winter Cup.
On the women's side, 2012 Olympians McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross are both scheduled to compete. Ross, who won the recent US Classic, has to be considered the favorite to win the all-around, with 2012 Olympic alternate Elizabeth Price and 2013 American Cup runner-up Simone Biles strong contenders as well. Get the full roster for the 2013 US nationals.
The TV schedule is as follows:
Aug. 15 - Senior Women Day One - 8-10 pm ET - NBC Sports Network
Aug. 16 - Senior Men Day One - 8-10 pm ET - NBC Sports Network
Aug. 17 - Senior Women Day Two - 8-10 pm ET - NBC
Aug. 18 - Senior Men Day Two - 1-2:30 pm ET - NBC
London Olympic gold medalist Kyla Ross earned the all-around title at the 2013 US Classic meet on Saturday, held in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The Classic serves as the final qualifier for US nationals (Aug. 15-18 in Hartford, Conn.), and is used as a practice meet for nationals by many gymnasts.
Ross looked confident and consistent except for a fall on her double pike dismount on floor. She led the field by .400 over silver medalist Peyton Ernst (58.650-58.250). Brenna Dowell, ninth all-around at the 2012 Olympic Trials, took third with a 57.200.
The competition also marked the return of Ross' Olympic teammate McKayla Maroney, who did vault and floor and looked impressive on both. Maroney has added in a double layout mount on floor, and her vaults look as good as ever.
Some top seniors, namely Katelyn Ohashi, Elizabeth Price, and Sarah Finnegan weren't here because of injury, while others, such as Lexie Priessman and Simone Biles, didn't compete on all four events. Biles had an off day on three events before scratching vault, and Priessman opted not to do beam, but won floor with a 14.800.
On the junior side, Bailie Key won the all-around by .300 over Amelia Hundley. Key's top score was a 15.000, good for second place, on beam, where she does a two-foot layout and back handsprings to a triple twist dismount.