CGN Roundtable: Favorite Skill Performances

We always talk about favorite gymnasts or skills or teams or choreography, but what about our single favorite performances of skills? Like, who is the best to have ever done the full-twisting Yurchenko in college? What about your favorite double layout on floor? That’s exactly what we’re discussing this week.

We see a LOT of full-twisting Yurchenkos in college gym, but which gymnast past or present performs your favorite or all time?

Elizabeth: I can already tell these are going to be hard. For this one… I think my all-time favorite FTY is Vanessa Zamarripa’s. She was a stick machine, but more importantly she was a flare expert.

Katherine: Sierra Alexander’s was probably my favorite, especially her senior year when she started getting 9.950s. She’s tall so her lines were perfect, and she also knew how to flare it out. Plus, it was cool to see the vault get better over the years. 

Kalley: Alex McMurtry’s FTY is one of my all time favorites. So flared out, so pretty. 

Emily M: I was floored by Nia Dennis’ block every time.

Katie W: This is a tough one because there are so many great FTY’s in NCAA. I may have to agree with Kalley on Alex McMurtry. Hands down one of the best vaulters.

Talitha: Vanessa Zamarripa all the way, I loved how effortless that vault looked! I also really liked Sarah Finnegan’s—that flare in the air.

Tara: Alex McMurtry, hands down. It was always so flared and pretty. 

What about your all-time favorite double layout on floor?

Elizabeth: I’m going to say Courtney Bumpers. Not only was her DLO sky high, but she had so much power she often threw an immediate punch front after it. Iconic. I also have to mention Kaitlyn Yanish. I love her shape in the air.

Katherine: I have to say Miya Hambrick’s. I know she piked it down at the end, but it was just so satisfying to watch, especially her senior year when it felt like she stuck it every week. Honorable mentions go to Kytra Hunter and Sadiqua Bynum.

Kalley: Bailey Lovett. She gets so much height, it’s actually kind of insane. 

Emily M: Ashley Miles! Ooo she could fly. I can’t not talk about Ashley Lambert and Ashleigh Gnat here either. Is it something about the name??

Katie W. Trinity Thomas has a sky high dlo that she always makes look so easy. 

Talitha: Kytra Hunter had a gorgeous double layout. The height and position in the air were first class!

Tara: So many come to mind, but I’m going to go with Ashleigh Gnat’s. It was always performed well and with good form, control and height. Like Elizabeth, I can’t not mention Kaitlyn Yanish’s double layout either. The height and position is just unreal. 

Pak salto?

Elizabeth: I’m really a fan of the way Kat Ding did her Pak: not too archy, not too straight, just floaty enough that she had control throughout and into the next skill.

Katherine: I’ll say Anastasia Webb. She has beautiful form in the air. 

Kalley: Lexy Ramler or Anastasia Webb. Both so floaty. I think technically Webb’s form is better, but I enjoy them both equally. 

Emily M: Ashley Priess’ was so aesthetically pleasing to me. She was always a joy on bars, but the Pak was a real highlight. Apparently if your name is Ashley I like your gymnastics.

Talitha: Kiana Winston! For a long time I thought that no one had a Pak salto near as perfect as Viktoria Komova’s, but Winston changed my mind.

Tara: Anastasia Webb’s and Lexy Ramler’s are both great, like Kalley said. I think I enjoy Webb’s slightly more, but it’s pretty close. I also want to highlight Maile O’Keefe’s Pak, which I think is quite underrated. 

What about your favorite Jaeger?

Elizabeth: I swear I thought of more than just the gymnasts who competed this skill in 2021, but after seeing Sara Ulias’ straddled Jaeger I know I’ll never see anything more beautiful.

Katherine: I really enjoy the way Audrey Davis and Maya Bordas perform this skill.

Kalley: Agree with Elizabeth—Sara Ulias.

Emily M: Phew Audrey Davis’ pike Jaeger is a thing of beauty.

Katie W: I’ve never loved a skill on bars more than Audrey Davis’ piked Jaeger. I have no doubts that skill will eventually help propel her to perfection

Talitha: I agree with Elizabeth that Sara Ulias’ Jaeger is gorgeous, but I will go with Savannah Schoenherr. There’s something so satisfying about her legs coming together before she regrasps the bar.

Tara: Audrey Davis’ piked Jaeger is beautiful. If I’m going straddled, it would be Emily Muhlenhaupt, hands down. 

Continue on the bars trend, Tkatchev?

Elizabeth: Anna Li and Kat Ding hands down had the best straddled Tkatchevs in the NCAA. The height! The turnover! The technique! The form! *chef’s kiss*

Katherine: Alexa Al-Hameed’s height really impressed me. 

Kalley: Hannah DeMers. I have never in my life seen so much height on a Tkatchev. 

Emily M: Anna Li no contest. That said, Alina Weinstein’s was also amazing.

Katie W. Anna Li has great height, form and technique on her Tkatchev. 

Talitha: Anna Li’s and Hannah DeMers’ Tkatchevs are spectacular for sure. Since no one else has done so, though, I should also mention Courtney Kupets. Her Tkatchev was amazing, especially given that it came after a super difficult hop full and was done between the bars.

Tara: Alexa Al-Hameed had a great Tkatchev in her brief time in NCAA. It was SO HIGH and had a wider straddle than most. 

And your favorite split or straddle leap or jump on beam?

Elizabeth: When we do our recruit ratings, part of our criteria description for perfect beam leaps is “Kiana Winston,” so I obviously have to put her as my fave of all time to do them on beam. She was just literal oversplit perfection.

Katherine: It’s Sarah Finnegan for me. Her GAGE technique served her well in college, and beam was no exception. 

Kalley: Mary Korlin-Downs. Her split position was so satisfyingly straight. 

Emily M: Kiana Winston is unmatched, forever, but since Elizabeth already mentioned her, I’ll throw Lexi Funk in the mix. Her Popa was stunning. OK, I also have a third. We simply cannot skip over Erin Macadaeg’s switch half.

Katie W: Alyssa Baumann always manages to get a gorgeous split position in all her leaps with pointed toes all the way through. 

Talitha: Sarah Finnegan was perfection. I also loved Kyla Ross’ switch ring to beat jump. It was such a difficult combination and so well executed.

Tara: I’ll go with Alexis Vasquez. She always managed to hit over 180 while having great extension and toe point! 

How about the best performance of a double tuck dismount on beam?

Elizabeth: Sierra Brooks! No ugly cowboying (which, let’s be honest, rules out a lot of gymnasts), basically pointed toes, frequent good landing—all the makings of a good double tuck.

Katherine: Kiana Winston does have fabulous leaps, but I think this was arguably the piece de resistance of her beam routine, so I’ll nominate her here.

Kalley: Sierra Brooks, hands down. Good form, mostly controlled landing. Beautiful. 

Emily M: Am I nominating Kiana Winston for a second category? I am. Her set

Katie W: Sierra Brooks and Kiana Winston are two that also happen to stand out to me, but MyKayla Skinner also deserves some recognition for her form improvement and ability to stick the landing. 

Talitha: I agree with all the gymnasts mentioned above. I also want to throw Kyla Bryant in the mix. Her double tuck is also beautiful.

Tara: Like many of my fellow editors, I agree with Sierra Brooks! Great form, and she manages to control the landing week after week. 

Triple twist on floor?

Elizabeth: Emily Wong! I honestly struggled to think of someone since a lot of triples can be kind of messy, even in college, but I finally remembered Wong’s and knew it was the right answer. We need more Emily Wong stans.

Katherine: We say a lot of things are underrated, but Collea Burgess’s floor routine is UNDERRATED, and her triple twist is the crown jewel. It’s so quick and easy for her.

Kalley: Alex McMurtry’s triple full from this routine lives in my head rent free. Soooo much height and beautiful form made even more impressive by how little she trained floor due to her back issues. Special shout out to Denelle Pedrick’s as well. 

Emily M: OK, it’s true. Wong’s was some real queen sh*t. Collea Burgess also has a golden touch on hers.

Katie W: Alex McMurtry’s height on her triple full is immaculate. Emily Wong’s triple full is also a treat to watch and was one of my first introduction to collegiate gymnastics. 

Talitha: Emily Wong’s form on that skill is unmatched.

Tara: Emily Wong’s is next level. I also agree that Alex McMurtry’s was impressive, even more so considering the fact she didn’t train floor that much. I also want to mention Georgia Dabritz—hers was impressive, and she did it at the end of her routine. 

And finally, your favorite switch ring on floor?

Elizabeth: This is probably the toughest of all the questions because there are so many good ones to choose from, but I think I’ve decided on Courtney McCool. I loved her technique in everything she did, and switch rings were no different. I also liked Maggie Nichols’.

Katherine: I have to say Sarah Finnegan once again for this one. Her dance elements are among the best there’s ever been. 

Kalley: Lexy Ramler. No contest.

Emily M: I’ve always loved Sarah Finnegan’s.

Talitha: Sarah Finnegan’s gymnastics in general was so beautiful, so I agree that her switch ring was also impeccable. I will also say Jaylene Gilstrap this year, her flexibility is incredible.

Katie W: I was stuck on this one, because there are so many good ones. I love that Talitha brought up Gilstrap because she easily became one of my favorite floor workers this season and I wish we got to see more of her. Lexy Ramler and Sarah Finnegan are also great options. 

Tara: Lexy Ramler. No question. Everything about it is gorgeous and practically perfect. 

READ THIS NEXT: CGN Roundtable: Looking Back at Our 2021 Content

Article by Elizabeth Grimsley, Katherine Weaver, Kalley Leer, Katie Walsh, Emily Minehart, Talitha Ilacqua, Tara Graeve

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