HARTFORD, CT- The Senior Women rolled into the XL Center Thursday night for day one of competition. Defending U.S. Champion Bridget Sloan was competing but limited to one event, and fellow Olympian Alicia Sacramone would compete on Beam and Vault this evening as well. The spotlight was on those who would attempt to win the 2010 title. The mood was upbeat, as the gymnast arrived, the stands were filled with fans and gymnasts who shared the goal of getting onto this competition floor someday. The television cameras were in place, the notable announce team had arrived, many of the legendary coach’s and olympians were int he arena, coaching or doing commentary, it was a big night, that can only get bigger on Saturday for finals.
Rebecca Bross led the session from start to finish thanks to a 15.150 start on Bars which was the only routine of rotation one to break 15. She followed that up with a high scoring beam, and then took to the floor where she did a tumbling pass ending in a front flip and then jumping immediately into a stag leap. As her music went along, the crowd joined into clap and support her efforts as the front runner, and she landed her dismount nearly stepping out of bounds, but just remaining inside. She went on to sitck her vault landing to solidify her lead. She ended posting a 60.400
Among those chasing her it was an up and down affair to determine who was going to be close, though six gymnasts would end up past the 56 mark. Mattie Larson’s 58.2 of the meet was the second highest, and was cemented around her incredibly successful floor routine which got a wild cheer of appreciation.
Alexandra Raisman was third on the day with a 57.550. This included a stuck vault to give her a 15.050 for that event.
Chelsea Davis had a 57.150 based on several solid routines, including her Bars set which was the highest.
Kytra Hunter was sixth in placing in the session with a 56.80. She had solid scores on beam and floor, but her vault was filled with great height as she flew off the horse and landed with one step for a 15.1.
Vanessa Zamarripa broke 56, including a pair of vaults that wowed the crowd.
Bridget Sloan’s night was limited to beam and unfortunately a fall came early on in the routine, but she finished strongly and received a rowdy cheer from the spectators.
Alicia Sacramone put together a high scoring beam rotation, but many were awaiting her vaults. She vaulted twice with little fanfare, but great interest and scored highly as well to the delight of the attendees.
One of the major themes of the night was just how clean the routines were, the leaders not only had to put difficulty into their routines but also excute as flawlessly as possibly. Step 1 for any of the athletes was hit the skills, second was how difficult the skills might be. While the new scoring system to this day eludes easy comprehension, the basic concepts do not, a fall, or a step out of bounds can be a major issue, but solid execution is understood.
Unlike the men’s competition, the women only have four events. These include the vault and floor like the men have, but the other two are the balance beam, and the uneven bars. Whereas the men have the high bar which is one bar, the women have a high one and a low one to transition between, though the basic conception of flipping around the high bar is the same in both. The balance beam is a four inch wide apparatus high off the ground. Gymnasts attempt to balance on the beam, hence the name, and also flip, twist, and leap, and land safely. Even some of the “simplest” moves on the beam, can lead to disaster as was seen thursday night. The floor for those who do not recall, is a giant springed mat, which the gymnasts must tumble across, often adding flips and twists at the same time. They must not only land properly without checking themselves, but also not step out of bounds, requiring both power and accuracy. As for the vault, it’s essentially running down a runway, leaping or doing a round off onto a springboard, flying off a vault, and flipping and twisting, to land in a designated landing zone…easy right? No.
The Senior Men wrap up competition today, and the Women are back on Saturday.