|Kat Ding at practice for NCAA Championships|
Although her team didn't qualify for the Super Six and a shot at winning an eleventh national championship, she qualified for individual event finals on three events: vault, floor exercise, and bars. She was already the reigning national champion on bars, and we sort of EXPECTED her to repeat on that event. She told a television commentator (who used to be her scary coach) that she was competing today for her team.
And compete she did. Below is her national championship winning uneven bars routine. In individual event finals, there are six judges. The high and low scores are thrown out, and the remaining four are averaged. At the end of Kat's routine, four judges gave her a perfect 10 and two gave her 9.95's, for an overall score of 9.9875. That's the closest she has come her entire college career of a perfect score, but it was enough to win. She won last year with a score of 9.9125, so she was close to perfect this year.
What most of us did NOT expect was for her also to win the floor exercise championship. She only began competing in floor exercise the last half of her senior season, and the competition throughout the rest of the country is fierce. There are some incredibly talented gymnasts out there with amazing tumbling and gorgeous dance skills. The important thing is to put them all together on the same day, and that's what I think Kat did today. I've already seen some grumbling on some blogs about how she was overscored and shouldn't have been the winner, so-and-so's routine was so much better, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada. But I have watched this routine several times now, and I don't see where anyone would take deductions. I will admit, however, that I am incredibly biased. I'm also torn between which is my favorite tumbling pass, her first one or her third one.
...she also took third place on vault.
We're going to miss you next year, Kat.