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Women's Competition

away from the medical charts was Scott J ohnson, who has been making marked strides since his unraveling in the 1985 Championships of the USA. The erosion of the women's team has been slower due to Kristie Phillips, Phoebe Mills, Hope Spivey and others there to plug some of the vacated holes. For them, the ascent to the top is a shorter climb, but one that should prove equally difficult. But for this particular encounter, both U.S. teams showed themselves as potential contenders. Not necessarily for the gold medal in the World Championships or the Olympics, but for a spot on that podium and a chance to renew the glory felt during the Summer of 1984.

The Kristie Phillips phenomenon continued right on schedule according to her master tactician, Bela Karolyi. Phillips, aided by an underrotated double back on floor by Svetlana Boginskaya, seized the opportunity once again and slid in the back door for the all-around title. Her 9.90 floor routine easily put her ahead of Boginskaya, who rolled herself into third place from the leader's position, and kept her ahead of the talented Natalia Laschenova. But it was the failure of the team to defeat the Soviets which haunted Phillips after the meet. "I wanted to win because it would help the team. We had a lot of pressure to compete against the best in the world. I am happy at winning the all-around, but I thought we could have won as a team." The Soviet squad was not the same that has dominated international competition since before the World Championships. If you could give it a name, this team would have to be ranked as the "second string." While they were defeating the Americans 196.100 to 195.475, the "fIrst string" was back in the Soviet Union training for the European Championships. There were a few familiar faces on the Soviet team headed by 1981 World Champion Olga Bicherova and Natalia Frolova, but for the most part, this was a new batch of very talented athletes.

Before too much is said about the Soviets, the American squad deserves some attention. According to Karolyi, too many are looking to the Soviet Union with awe. In order to beat them, the United States must fIrst think it can beat them. And that, according to Karolyi, is possible. "I promise you," he said, "we gonna make it. I respect the Soviet athletes, but I also respect ours. We are training in the worst conditions, not like theirs, and we are producing great athletes. Damn it, we can beat these guys and I promise, we will be on the awards stand in 1988." With that, the usually subdued press corps applauded.

In a meet where the scores were higher than normal, Phillips' path to the victor's stand wasn't all that easy. Frolova got the meet started right with her perfect 10.00 for her roundoff onto the horse, layout tsukahara with a full twist vault. So, not to be outdone, Phillips unveils her new vault, a roundoff onto the horse, layout back sommersault with a double twist, or a 464 according to the Women's Code of Points. She nailed the dismount and received a 9.85 . She continued on with a 9.90 for uneven bars and a 9.875 for her difficult beam routine which set the stage for her floor routine heroics. The enthusiasm was building. Before a packed Denver Coliseum on a beautiful spring day, the women of the United States put on a pretty good show. Probably the

By keeping herself in the position to win, Kristie Phillips was able to come from behind to escape with the all-around title.

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Profile for USA Gymnastics

USA Gymnastics - May/June 1987  

USA Gymnastics - May/June 1987