How much do I love seeing Chellsie Memmel, Alicia Sacramone and Shawn Johnson BACK at the Covergirl Classics? I know Alicia was back last year but THIS year she did floor, and her routine was a thousand times better than anything we’ve seen from her before. Her triple full was just beautiful, and so what if she went out of bounds. Whatever, it’s her first floor routine in competition in nearly three years. She can OOB at Classics if she wants. And I still cringe every time she does her front pike mount on beam, but she hasn’t had a problem with it since Bejiing, and I think it says a lot about her that she’s left it in. Obviously vault was great. My dream for London? Alicia throws some crazy ass vault (front double full, anyone?), sticks it cold, and gets the title.

I do have OTHER dreams for London, but that’s what we’re talking about right now.

Speaking of not a kid anymore…Shawn Johnson is SO much more mature. She was only 16 in Bejiing, and she is suddenly not a child. She fell–just locked her knees on her bars dismount, and came off on her 2 feet LO on beam–but she hasn’t competed in three years, and she has the skills, she just needs the numbers. But in talking to The Annoying Pair of the day, Tim Dagget and Amanda Borden (REALLY, Amanda? you competed? I HAD NO IDEA) she just sounded so, so grown up. Tim tried to goad her into discussing Aly Raisman’s “meltdown” on bars, and Shawn didn’t fall for it, just said that Classics can be really hard since it’s the first meet. Then Casey Jo Magee (at 22, another oldster!) did her beastly beam mount sequence, and Shawn said in this little voice “that was cool!” Ha. It was really nice to see her suddenly grown up, and back in more-or-less competition shape.

The Caquatti were great. Well, Macko was great, Bridgey had some troubles. She fell on her floor routine, poor kid. But her bars were really nice. She actually beat Macko! And Macko…remember when everyone said she was a headcase? Whatever, everyone.

Anna Li, alas, came off on a stadler shoot. Just peeled off the low bar. She looked shocked. I’m sure she was worried about the intense skills she has in that routine, not about something she’s done thousands of times. Miss Val would’ve given her The Death Glare for that if she was still a Bruin. I’m not sure if Anna has qualified for Visa’s yet, anyone know? Anyway, despite the fall, I still think she has a decent chance of making a major team for bars alone. Her routine is HUGE.

Jordyn Weiber looked in fine form on her events. Her bar routine just gets more and more packed, and she still seems incredibly confident on beam.

Aly Raisman, as mentioned, had trouble, especially on bars, where she got kind of lost and took roughly eight zillion extra swings. Poor kid. But she redeemed herself with that first pass on floor–I’m not actually totally sure what it was, but it LOOKED like a 1 1/2 to double front to punch front. Epic. And then she managed to stand up an Amanar. It was no McKayla Maroney Amanar, but neither was it a Tatiana Nabieva Anamar, and I suspect Mihai just wanted her to make it to her feet this time and clean it up for Visa’s. Oh, and she won, largely due to that vault.

Meanwhile, there was Chellie.Fucking.Memmel.

Oh, CHELLSIE. My other dream for London is for Chellsie to won an individual medal, preferably gold. I don’t care where it is. But if there is a harder worker in the gymnastics–or any other–universe, I don’t know who it would be. And Chellsie just snuck up on everybody. She just appeared her at Classics, and she hit every single routine. Her tumbling is as a good as it ever was. She still has her beam skills, all the craziness included. She watered down some–just a FTY on vault, and she did a double full instead of a double lay on floor for her second pass–and still managed silver. And she is still doing her jam to handstand to front double on bars, and we all love that.

So. Chellsie. Welcome back. Welcome back everybody else, too, and I’m so glad we are finally in the elite season, and in a couple weeks I’ll be visiting Brestyans to do a day of video, photos and interviews with that crew.

But maybe especially, welcome back Chellsie.Fucking.Memmel.


(photos from last years Visas: all photos copyright Vanessa S.V. Steck 2010)

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