MyKayla Skinner (Desert Lights)

Photo by John Cheng

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | September 8, 2021

Gymnast MyKayla Skinner’s career highlights read like a champion.

The 2020 Olympic vault silver medalist, the 2021 U.S. vault silver medalist and 2019 U.S. vault bronze medalist, among other accomplishments.

But right now, the Gilbert resident is craving Gecko Grill — especially while stressed out from moving to Utah, where she and her husband attend college.

“We’ve been unpacking this week,” says Skinner, a 2015 Higley High School graduate.

“Since the Olympics, I haven’t had a second to come down. We’re getting all new furniture. I’m missing Arizona and Gecko Grill already. I’m so sad I had to leave, but I’m so excited for this next chapter.”

Part of her future is participating in the Athleta Presents Gold Over America Tour with Skinner and fellow Arizonan Jade Carey, along with the likes of Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum. The tour flips into Gila River Arena on Wednesday, September 22.

“I’m so excited,” Skinner says. “I was on tour last time in 2016 for the Kellogg’s tour. Being back in my hometown was the most exciting time. All my friends and family were there to watch us. I’m super stoked and ready for an amazing show.”

Skinner first hit the gym when she was 12, following in the footsteps of her older sisters, Chelsea and Katie. Coached by Lisa Spini, the owner of Desert Lights Gymnastics in Chandler, Skinner missed a shot at the 2012 London Olympics. Subsequently, she was named an alternate to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro team. Through the ups and downs, her family and friends loved and supported her, she said.

“I felt so blessed and grateful for the state of Arizona and friends and family who have been cheering me on,” she says.

“Obviously, winning a medal was the icing on the cake. It was the coolest experience. With the prelims, making the Olympic team was a goal of mine. It was awesome to accomplish that. I had to take the individual spot, which was cool.”

She was “upset and emotional” about this summer’s Olympic performance on the floor and vault. However, she told herself she couldn’t give up.

“I wanted to finish on a good note,” she adds. “It was my last meet. I finished that last beam, and it was the beam routine of my life. I went up there and proved myself. It showed a lot of people in the world — fans, little girls and gymnasts — that anything is possible. Whether I got a medal or not, chasing your dreams is worth it.”

Winning the silver medal at the Olympics was something she will “cherish forever.” It almost didn’t happen, as she replaced Biles on the vault.

“Having all those girls on the floor cheering me on was incredible,” Skinner says about the USA Olympic team. “That feeling was something I wish I could relive.”

Skinner says it was disappointing that her family couldn’t attend. She understood, however, and made it work. She FaceTimed her family, especially with her mother, with whom she is particularly close.

“We’ve traveled tons of times, and my family hasn’t always traveled,” she explains. “For the Olympic games, they saved up all that money so they could go if I made it. It was an adjustment, but we girls bonded and came together and became close because of it. Obviously, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”