The noughties were all about WOGA.
What else could have so neatly epitomised the rise of the USA? A neat-post-cold war union of the artistry and graceful lines of the east meeting with the power and tenacity of the west, colliding in a crescendo in the work of rising star Carly Patterson, advancing like an army to dethrone Queen Khorkina in her last chance at glory.
(I read quite a lot of Game of Thrones in my absence. Sorry).
But seriously, WOGA had the noughties, and were responsible for its two biggest stars: Patterson and Liukin. Two stars. Two gold medals. Two lifes changed forever. One gym.
...but then it all changed.
In the months following the Olympics, the metaphorical groggy awakening and clearing away of the bottles from the night before, the image of WOGA left is not one of success, not one of smiles and the glitter of realised dreams. It is the image of a young girl,with a taped knee and sad eyes, being waved off the podium by her coach to a room full of pitying glances and shocked silence.
But it is a new quad. A new senior star. A new hope.
Katelyn Ohashi is no stranger to most of us and hasn't been for some time. Here is why:
This surely needs no explanation, except to draw attention to what a full in double pike from the beam SHOULD look like. Any junior that can put vintage Ponor to shame is worth her weight in gold.
Without meaning to exaggerate wildly, we hadn't really seen beam work like this before. Sure we had the tricksters, and sure we had the elegant ones too. But never, really, had we seen such ridiculous knockout insane difficulty in the same routine as a perfect split leap. Surely Katelyn Ohashi was going to take over the world?
As seems to be WOGA tradition, though, she narrowly missed age qualification for the Olympics. Whether or not WOGA experienced a series of coincidences of this manner (Liukin and Bross would both have contended for 2004 and 2008 respectively) or whether they have a tendency to peak their athletes too early is a matter of opinion. What seemed unanimous, though, was that Ohashi was slowing down. Had it been a case of too much too soon?
Her DTY was starting to look more and more like a terrifying parody of Bross's infamous demise
But enough ruminating over the past, let's move into the present.....
2013 American Cup
The first major post Olympic competition, the American Cup, was won by Ohashi, although not as convincingly as one might have expected given her early notoriety. Simone Biles, tipped to be the next All American powerhouse, was 1.533 behind Ohashi in second place, having beaten Ohashi on vault and bars, and made mistakes on both beam and floor.
A question we all undoubtedly look forward to seeing answered: will Ohashi prove to be a WOGA success or a WOGA tragedy? There is certainly precedent for both.
Things in her favour
Beam is still super hot. Even with missed connections Ohashi managed a cool 15.333 - a massive score for this early in the quad and clear of the second highest beam score of the meet by 1.333 points. I am personally VERY excited by what seems to me to be one of the most difficult and original combinations in years: Onodi to front walkover to front walk over to sheep - pretty awesome if she can put that together at the right time.
Vault looks better. Sure, she is still on a DTY and is likely to come up against a whole host of Amanars, but the code changes favour her too: the Amanar is a 6.3 now, not a 6.5, and Ohashi can utilise her huge beam capability to make up that two tenths elsewhere. Moreover, her DTY looks nice, against all expectation she managed to stop it looking at all scary.
Floor Choreography is lovely, and she looks confident performing it
Things in her way
Bars pirouettes are a mess. She is clearly struggling there and unless they are cleaned up she will end up losing more than she gains. A more Bross themed routine might be better but she may lack the power to make that happen.
Floor is likely to be the big hitter this quad, like bars was in 05-08 and like vault was 09-12. Katelyn isn't bad on floor, but her tumbling isn't great either.
Degeneration of skills. Katelyn has a few top skills that have always been a bit iffy. Perhaps most famously her DTY which, touch wood, seems to be looking good. Also, though, her signature full twisting layout on beam, although impressive in its consistency, gives a hint that it might not stand the test of time. It has always been whipped and low, and is now looking increasingly piked.
This picture shows the extent of the piking going on, and a big leg separation too. Her left leg is pretty much 90 degrees to her body.
Ultimately, though, the only way to know is to wait and find out. I only hope that Ohashi's career is more of a sustained success than a quick rise followed by a crash and burn.