One gymnast is known for her incredible consistency and amazing tumbling, the other is known as an internet sensation with unique tumbling passes of her own.
Luckily for Utah gymnastics fans, they both will be on the floor at the same time Saturday when Utah’s fourth-ranked gymnastics team hosts second-ranked UCLA at 1:30 p.m.
Utah’s floor lineup is highlighted by junior MyKayla Skinner who won the national floor title in 2017. She has missed some meets this year because of a sore ankle, but she remains one of the best on the event, scoring 9.9 or higher in all but one of her routines this year.
UCLA’s Katelyn Ohashi shared the title last year with Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols, becoming an internet sensation in the process for her tumbling abilities as well as fan-friendly choreography. (Skinner was fifth for those keeping score).
NO. 2 UCLA AT NO. 4 UTAH
When • Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Networks
This year the senior “broke the internet,” in January when her 10.0-earning routine was viewed 13 million times in less than 48 hours.
So who is better? Skinner or Ohashi? It’s natural to ask that question and at least on one day one will have bragging rights. However, it might be best to simply to appreciate the two for who they are.
“These are two of the best gymnasts on the floor not only in the Pac-12 but in the country,” Utah gymnastics coach Megan Marsden said. “It’s going to be something to marvel at and fun for the audience to see both styles.”
Ohashi’s floor routine features more layout movements than Skinner’s, including a double layout with a split off the floor.
“Any athlete will tell you that is an extremely difficult move,” Marsden said.
Skinner is known for her double double, two back flips with simultaneous twists, and for finishing her floor routine with a full-in, which is a double back flip with a twist.
“Most people tip their hat to Mickey because she has already done two floor passes and she can still do a full-in,” Marsden said. “Katelyn has her energy and caters to the masses with her funky interesting dance moves, and Mickey is more about how in the world she does all that tumbling. They are both incredible athletes.”
Skinner said she naturally gravitated to the tricks she does because she was challenged by them.
“The bigger skills required more twisting and I am small and good at tucking and pulling my body hard.”
Interestingly, Skinner and Ohashi have more in common than just captivating routines.
Skinner’s disappointment in being passed over for the 2016 Olympic team — she wound up an alternate — is well documented. But she has renewed her competitive desires in collegiate gymnastics and hasn’t given up thoughts of competing in 2020 to fulfill the one experience in her career that has eluded her.
Ohashi has her own Olympic disappointments, revealing in a UCLA video titled “I was Broken,” that her experience at the elite level was emotionally taxing.
She found the desire to compete again at UCLA.
The fame she has gained from her floor routines has added to her happiness rather than add any kind of negative pressure, with UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field calling it a ‘whirlwind few months.’
“Katelyn’s celebrity has been amazing, especially since every part of her life has been enhanced through it,” Kondos Field said. “She has become much more intentional with everything she does, including her school work, making sure she gets enough sleep and being the consummate team player.”
Skinner has been one of Utah’s leaders since she arrived and is eager to get on the floor against the Bruins. “They have a great floor lineup but ours is great too,” she said. “It will be fun to see who gets what.”
So back to the question, which one will prevail? We will find out soon enough, but the real winners will be the fans in the stands who get to see them compete.
UCLA’S KATELYN OHASHI
Vitals • 4-foot-10, Senior
Of note • 2018 NCAA and Pac-12 floor exercise co-champion…2018 Pac-12 Specialist of the Year…Six-time All-American…Six career 10.0s on floor, including three this season
UTAH’S MYKAYLA SKINNER
Vitals • 5-foot, Junior
Of note • Two-time NCAA champion on the vault (2018) and floor (2017)…Five-time Pac-12 champion (all-around 2017-18, floor 2017-18, vault 2017)…18-time All-American…Two career 10.0s on floor…Has hit 139-of-139 routines in her career.