As an alternate Smith will continue to train with the Olympic team and should any of the five Olympic team members withdraw, get injured or are removed from the team for any reason she could be chosen to go to the Rio Olympics.
A Dacula gymnast will be making the Olympic trip to Rio as an alternate on the women's team. Ragan Smith, 15, qualified Sunday night to travel to Rio as a replacement athlete, along with Ashton Locklear and MyKayla Skinner.
Women's gymnasts who made the team outright are Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman.
Gwinnett native Ragan Smith sits in fifth place after the first day of U.S. Women’s Gymnastic Olympic Trials.
Heavy favorite Simone Biles finished in first place as expected with an all-around score of 61.85 points, a full point ahead of second-place Laurie Hernandez. Aly Raisman was third (59.95) and MyKayla Skinner (59.25) was fourth.
Smith, just 15, was right behind at 58.7 in fifth place, two spots ahead of Gabby Douglas in a meet that helps determine the five-person team for this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Smith was born in Snellville and lived in Dacula until she moved to Lewisville, Texas for training with Texas Dreams Gymnastics. Her coach is former U.S. Olympian Kim Zmeskal-Burdette.
The U.S. women's gymnastics Olympic trials concluded on Sunday with Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian being named to the Olympic team.
Snellville native Ragan Smith was one of three competitors named as an Olympic alternate. Smith finished fifth in the all around competition with a score of 117.75. She placed second in the balance beam competition.
IG: Ragan Smith's routine to The Addams Family was brilliant. Does that routine rank in your own top three?
DZ: Yes, Ragan Smith's floor routine was one of my top three favorites. Kim Zmeskal-Burdette and I worked together on Ragan's 2015 and 2016 floor routines. [Neither] Kim nor myself have an ego when it comes to choreography, and we both want the best possible routine for the athletes, and I think we are a great choreography team. Kim and I spent endless hours and months working on it to make sure everything was perfect. Kim and I were worried we wouldn't be able to top the West Side Story routine from 2015, but we did! Ragan's routine turned out to be one of the most memorable routines from 2016, and that's exactly what we were going for.
IG: Simone Biles wouldn't be considered balletic, so how do you choreograph for her?
DZ: Correct, Simone Biles is not a classically trained ballerina, but I think she honestly could do anything she puts effort into. I still wish fans and spectators would understand that ballet does not define artistry. The Samba/Latin style Simone has used was perfect for her at the time.
You never know what she will decide to use if she returns. We actually tried several styles and genres in the past three years, including a routine we started to "Malaguena," which Simone actually picked out in our music selection meeting.
IG: How hard is it to get gymnasts to use facial expressions during their floor routines?
DZ: I choreograph many of the gymnast's facial expressions and eye contact/focus. The athletes usually don't know where to look or are not sure what emotion they should display in the various sections of their floor routines, so it is important to pay attention to detailing that during the choreography process and after. Some gymnasts are better than others about adding in their own facial expressions, but a lot of times they are focusing on their skills and lose the engaging interaction that makes routines the full package. I have found that the more comfortable the gymnasts become with their gymnastics skills and dance elements, the more fully they perform.