St. Louis – Two-time defending national champion Kristen Maloney (Pen Argyl, Pa.) finished on top of the preliminary competition this evening at the John Hancock U.S. Gymnastics Championships. Maloney scored 38.262 in the all-around and won the vault with 9.512 and the floor exercise with 9.825.

Elise Ray
(Columbia, Md.) won the gold medal on bars with a 9.800 and 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Amy Chow (San Jose, Calif.) and Alyssa Beckerman (Wyoming, Ohio) tied for the gold medal on beam, scoring 9.650 each.
Second and third in the all-around preliminaries are Ray with 38.212 and Chow with 37.700. Throughout the competition the lead changed several times with Maloney, Jamie Dantzscher (Palmdale, Calif.), and Ray in close contention.
Rounding out the top 10 in the all-around are Dantzscher, 37.575, Beckerman, 37.462, Vanessa Atler (Canyon Country, Calif.), 37.437, Tasha Schwikert (Las Vegas, Nev.) 37.387, Morgan White (Fairfield, Ohio) 37.362, Rachel Tidd (San Marcos, Calif.) 37.062, and Dominique Moceanu (Cincinnati, Ohio) 36.737.
Women’s competition resumes at 6 p.m. Saturday with the all-around finals.


1. Kristen Maloney 9.512
2. Vanessa Atler 9.437
3. Kendall Beck 9.350
1. Elise Ray 9.800
2. Alyssa Beckerman 9.650
2. Amy Chow 9.650
2. Shannon Miller 9.650
1. Alyssa Beckerman 9.650
1. Amy Chow 9.650
3. Elise Ray 9.625
1. Kristen Maloney 9.825
2. Elise Ray 9.750
3. Vanessa Atler 9.675


Kristen Maloney
“I knew it was really close. It felt really tense out there, but I relaxed and put my head somewhere else.”

“This was my first competition since Worlds. I was nervous, but I’m secure in my gymnastics, and I’m very focused on my comeback.”

Elise Ray

“I’m really happy about tonight. This is my first event since knee surgery. I don’t want to get ahead of myself because I have another night, but my knee feels great.”

On competing with the 1996 Olympians–
“We feel like a team now and we’re more comfortable around each other. I’m not thinking about it. I need to stay focused on what I’m doing, but they all look great.”

Amy Chow

On competing again with the Mag 7–
“It’s really nice to look across the gym and see friends. I can improve, but I was happy with my performance.”

Shannon Miller

On only competing in the uneven bars tonight–
“I didn’t want to risk injury…with the beam I have a couple of moves left to work on. In terms of the bars this was my first day doing landings, my dismount was great today. Things are coming back easily…It’s a relief to be back on the road to recovery, but it was hard not competing on all the events tonight…I seem to always have personal challenges come up before the Olympics. This is almost like deja vu.”

Dominique Moceanu

On her beam routine–
“I thought I had a great set, I performed well.”

On attempting to make the Olympic team–
“Now that I’ve been through it it’s not as overwhelming as when I was little. I go through it now with calmer emotions. I have not competed in two years in a major competition, but I hit all four of my events.”

Morgan White

“I was really pleased with my all-around but the good was overshadowed by my vault. I want to come back with a little anger to fuel my performance on Saturday.”

Jamie Dantzscher

“I wanted to get all my new skills ready for this meet. I took the Full out of my beam because I wanted to concentrate on moves I didn’t have to think as much on. I’m working on trying to be more consistent.”

Vanessa Atler

On her 8.80 uneven bars score– “My bars have been perfect coming in so I was obviously disappointed.”

On making the Olympic team–
“I think my chances are good if I can stay consistent.”

Dominique Dawes

“In 1996 there was a lot more pressure, now I’ve come back for myself, and to show everyone I can still do gymnastics…My combinations felt good”

Jaycie Phelps

On why she returned to gymnastics–
“I wanted to prove I still can do it. Once an athlete always an athlete.”

Changes in training–
“It’s a lot more mental training, being older actually helps…It’s kind of like a family reunion competing with my ’96 teammates.”

Kristie Phillips

“I have learned that you can do whatever you want whenever you want, age doesn’t matter…I came back on a dare from my husband…It’s all about me now, nobody has any expectations for me except for me.”