An Ode to Kyla Ross

10:14 PM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

Photo by Christy Ann Linder
Edit by me :)

By now, you've seen that Olympic Champion Kyla Ross has decided to retire from elite competition. She will continue in the fall at UCLA but we will so longer see Kyla on the road to Rio.

It's a bit heartbreaking.

Not for any particular reason other than the fact that we won't be able to see her beautiful gymnastics again on the elite stage. Ross has a remarkably successful career with multiple titles to her name - World All Around Silver and Bronze medalist, World Champion in the team event in 2014, and Olympic Champion in the team event in 2013. That's without naming her individual world medals on uneven bars and balance beam and her multiple national titles.

Kyla has always been known for her consistency. Even as a junior, it was her consistency and attention to detail that kept her high in the rankings. In 2012, Kyla was that missing piece to the Olympic team - a strong all arounder, great on uneven bars and beam, and a great option for floor exercise especially after McKayla Maroney's injury.

What is there to say about Kyla?

Kyla is beautiful.
Her gymnastics is beautiful.

I will always miss her beautiful double twisting Yurchenko where she had a cat like sense of finding the landing. Uneven bars always served as Kyla's claim to fame where a beautiful Jaeger and floaty double layout earned her a spot in multiple international event finals and even a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships. With Kyla fully extending through her shoulders, I suddenly was able to appreciate a bail to handstand. Something I never thought was humanly possible.

On beam, I will miss her switch ring! Though it can certainly stay in her NCAA routine. I already miss her switch ring to back tuck but her height on the leap is phenomenal. Like her DTY, Ross has an uncanny sense of sticking her double tuck dismount. On floor, we had the joy of seeing Kyla's Phantom routine... multiple times. Then, after some artistry training and a few inches added to her already long stature, Ross grew into this mature dancer that seemed to emote through every movement and every breath. Her double arabian to stag was amongst my favorites.

On February 22, Kyla Ross announced her retirement. "Deciding to retire from elite gymnastics has been one of the most difficult decisions I have made in my life, but I feel my time as an elite gymnast has come to an end. I truly love the sport of gymnastics and I am so fortunate to have been able to accomplish my dreams with the help of USA Gymnastics and all of its staff. I would like to thank everyone for all of the amazing support I have received during my entire elite career. I would especially like to thank Martha (Karolyi) for pushing me to be the best gymnast I could be for the past eight years. Having the opportunity to represent the U.S. through gymnastics has been an experience I will always cherish. I hope to still inspire young gymnasts as I transition to collegiate gymnastics and this next chapter in my life."

Prior to the 2015 World Championships,  Ross withdrew herself from contention. After an unsuccessful showing at the 2015 P&G Championships, it seemed unlikely that Ross would be named to that team. She then went to camp in January but found that her heart just wasn't in the right place to make a run at a second Olympic Games.

Next for Ross is her freshman year at UCLA. Kyla Ross initially deferred her acceptance to UCLA to train for Rio. Now, she gets to look forward to her collegiate career, a dorm life, and a likely major in biomedical engineering. "I’ve been excited to try some, not necessarily new skills, but skills I haven’t done in a while." This retraining of old skills often happens with elite gymnasts transitioning to NCAA. It was most recently mentioned with Brenna Dowell, how there are some skills that have to be relearned whether it's sticking a FTY or 1.5 TY or a sole circle on uneven bars. Maybe she's working some front tumbling passes on floor. When I had the opportunity to interview Kyla and witness a practice a little over one year ago, she was working a triple turn and also a wolf turn (maybe double?) on floor along with the front tuck half on beam. Who knows if these will make an appearance in the future.

One thing that is certainly exciting is that the end of Kyla Ross' elite career is only the start of her collegiate career. At UCLA, Kyla will certainly fit in well with her fabulous vaults. With the new NCAA code of points rewarding 1.5TY and DTY, it begs the question of whether or not she'll go for the higher vault or just stick FTYs left and right. While her dismount on uneven bars seemed to cause some trouble due to her new height, she has all the skills. I don't understand the nuances of NCAA gymnastics uneven bar rules but hopefully she can change the bars to a height/distance that's manageable. I will personally beg Miss Val for Kyla to keep her switch ring on balance beam. We're all probably most looking forward to what Miss Val will choreograph for Kyla on floor exercise.

So, Miss Kyla Ross, we'll miss you in elite gymnastics. We'll miss spotting you at the end of camp picture lineups. We'll miss you being the veteran on the team leading by calm, cool, collected example. We'll miss knowing that your beam was the one we could most likely breath through. But we're excited. Excited for what the future holds both in gymnastics and beyond.

Best of luck, Kyla!!


  1. Thank you for this beautiful post - I will miss her gorgeous gymnastics and sweet character. What a wonderful recap of an AMAZING career.

  2. This is teh first time that Ihave seen a gymnastics video, and oh my God, her glides and strokes are beautiful. I wonder how do gymnastics get that flexible and stretchable body.