Something I didn’t previously mention in debriefing the P&G Championships bears pointing out. After seeing her compete in both 2014 and 2015 and seeing her progress in that time, I’d like to make special mention of Morgan Hurd. I want to highlight her both because she shows all signs of being a rising star destined for great things, but also because she is from my home state and trains at a gym just a dozen or so miles down the road. I am far from an expert, but I am very encouraged by the fact that this video of the First State Gymnastics junior elite training a double-twisting Yurchenko (or DTY, or Yurchenko double full, which all describe the same skill)—and doing a pretty good job, too, to my non-expert eye—was posted in September of 2014, almost a year before this year’s P&G Championships, yet Morgan was still only competing a simple Yurchenko full at nationals in August. Her execution scores were 8+, but the Yurchenko full only has a difficulty of 4.9, meaning regardless of how well she did it, she did not place particularly well on the event. Morgan has wonderful form and execution on virtually everything she does, and at this point in her junior career, there’s no need to try to throw high-difficulty tricks she hasn’t completely mastered yet. I respect her coaches for not pushing high difficulty over execution this early in her career. But I bet you you can look for a double next season. Even with very low difficulty on floor and vault, she placed 8th all-around in a formidable field of mostly older girls.
You know what else I saw in Indianapolis that impressed me about Morgan Hurd: poise and mindfulness on the podium. On day 2 on floor, when she was next up, the FX judges took quite a bit longer than their usual molasses-in-January pace, and Morgan had a long time to stand there and wait. While a lot of gymnasts, especially younger ones, would just stand there waiting, getting tense, watching the judges, Morgan turned and casually walked back to put more chalk on her feet. Composure, calm, at the age of 14. This is something even some of the best never learn. Think of someone like Vanessa Atler or Morgan White. World class talent and skill, but once up on the podium, nervous wrecks.
Morgan is getting a lot of attention lately, including a full page of photos in the latest issue of International Gymnast Magazine of her competing in the 2015 P&G Championships, and this feature article in the leading local Delaware newspaper: Teen Trains 30 Hours a Week for Olympic Dream
Look for Hurd at the top of the scoresheet in 2016, and remember her name for Tokyo 2020. Her First State Gymnastics supporters already had a memorable catchphrase printed on t-shirts at the 2014 U.S. Championships: “Follow the Hurd.” Good advice, because Morgan looks like the real deal.