Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dark Horses for London - Sarah Finnegan

Shawn Johnson, Carly Patterson, Courtney Kupets and Nastia Liukin all seemed to be shoo-ins for the Olympics. But what about those who you many didn't really expect to see on the Olympic Team (or as an alternate) like Tasha Schwikert, Corrie Lothrop and Mohini Bhardwaj? In the next few weeks, I'm looking to showcase girls other than Jordyn Wieber and Rebecca Bross: The Dark Horses for London.

(USA Gymnastics)
In my opinion, Sarah Finnegan is one of the most underrated gymnasts in America. Based on the Visa Scores of all Olympic eligible gymnasts, Finnegan placed 3rd All Around, behind only Wieber and Ross. While Al Fong's comment about intending to make the Olympic team made me uncomfortable, Finnegan has a good shot at being an alternate, and may even be on the team if some of the expected members (god forbid) become injured.

Vault: Finnegan has a Double Twisting Yurchenko, which usually scores in the high 14s.

Bars: Although Finnegan placed 5th on bars this year, I wouldn't consider it a strong event for her. She has a start value of 5.6 and while she has fairly good form, she sometimes struggles to stay in handstand on pirouettes. Even if she made the team, I couldn't see her factoring in a Team Final setting on this event unless all of the strong bar workers are completely out.

Beam: Finnegan's start value on beam is a 6.4 which rivals many of the girls who competed in Worlds' Event Finals this year. She does struggle on some of her dance elements like her Humphrey and a leap that doesn't ever seem to get anywhere near 180 (Johnson with a half, if I remember correctly). Overall, with some polishing, Finnegan could rival the best in the world on this event.

Floor: Most people, however, recognize Finnegan because of her floor routine which has a 5.8 Start Value. With the wonderful dance skills of the typical GAGE girl, she earned the Junior National bronze this year, as well as the gold at Classics. She connects a Memmel into a full turn which is unbelievably beautiful! Girl can tumble and dance. 

Her coach, Al Fong is known to encourage upgrades in the Olympic year so her D scores will almost surely be higher in 2012. My concern is whether or not she'll be able to perform those upgrades well and exceed expectations like Terin Humphrey, rather than fall short like Ivana Hong.

Sarah Finnegan has only been an Elite for 2 years now, but she's made the National Team both years. In September of 2010, Finnegan was on the Gold Medal Winning Pan American Championships team and she also won the Beam Bronze Medal.

Overall, I think it's a long shot to think that Finnegan will compete on a 5 member team in London, but she'd be a fantastic alternate.

Do you have an idea for a "Dark Horse" feature? Tell us in the comments!

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