This weekend is the US Olympic Trials and in the last 2 weeks since Nationals, I’ve been playing catch up. I’m been scouring some of my favorite blogs and sites and trying to get answers to my questions, figure out all that has been going on during the past four years, and gear up for the Olympics. I have barely made it out of USA gymnastics to look at the international scene. I have SO many questions. And I’ve found SO many things that surprised me. Here are just a few of them off the top of my head, in no particular order…
- Oksana Chusovitina is STILL competing. This is truly mind-boggling to me. How old is she now? Like 50?* One of the very first competitions I remember watching was the 1991 World Championships and she was in it and blew my socks off with her tumbling. Incredible. What an inspiration for the sport. She’s a mother and she used to be on the same team with Nastia Liukin’s dad. I hope more and more women follow in her footsteps.
Oksana & her son, Alisher, back in ’08
- What is the “scandal” that folks keep mentioning about Gabby Douglas’ old gym? People keep referring to it but I can’t find any information about it.
- Jonathan Horton is still competing? Cool. I’ve always liked him. He’s gutsy and emotional and energetic. I thought he was done.
- Chellsie Memmel not allowed to petition into Nationals? For reals? I know that this is completely old news by now but seriously? Lame. A former World All Around Champion and US Olympian. Even if she didn’t have a shot in the world and fell slightly short of 14 on the one event she competed at Classics… still seems wrong. After all this time, USAG should have done her a solid and let her through to compete in what would likely have been her swan song. From what I was able to ascertain, Memmel did not attend the National Team Camps the past couple years. Is USAG so insecure that they need to punish someone who doesn’t follow the typical protocol? What is this really all about?Memmel back in the day. Remember her signature scale?
- I’ve been able to figure out the top athletes gunning for the women’s all around but who are the top teams?
- And what’s a realistic expectation for the US Men’s Team? How have they done this quad?
- Rick McCharles and Blythe Lawrence are still my go-to blogs for information.
- Alicia Sacramone. First, she’s still in the game. Second, if I didn’t know better, I would think I was watching re-runs of 2008. Her vault and beam look almost exactly the same as four years ago. Except her ankles aren’t so heavily taped.
I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to catch up in time! We’ll see. I’m out of town this weekend and the internet connection is slow so I won’t be able to watch the Olympic Trials until Monday. I did read Blythe’s play by play of night 1 for the women, though, and I’m excited to see the action for myself.
*UPDATE: Yes, I know that Chuso is 37. Husband just looked up, bugged-eyed, as he was reading and said “this woman is FIFTY and she’s still competing!?? Just an attempt at being witty, folks.
I fell down the rabbit hole, folks. After 3 years without gymnastics (seriously, I don’t think I’ve watched a single competition since 2009), I got online a couple weeks ago to read up on the latest happenings in the sport as we get closer to the Olympics. And once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I stayed up way too late, browsing the archives of favorite blogs, IG, USA Gymnastics, watching videos, searching youtube and on and on and on. I have so much catching up to do!
Photo by Stew Milne, US Presswire
We haven’t had cable since 2008 so we quickly ordered a digital antennae last week so I could watch nationals this weekend. It got here just in time and as it happened, the live air time of the women’s finals on Sunday coincided perfectly with my boys’ nap time. Score. Here are my thoughts in no particular order. Remember that I’ve been completely out of the loop for years and cut me a little slack, ok?
- Some things made me feel like I had never left. Al Fong and those black gloves. Marta’s hair. Tim and Elfi. Alicia’s vaults. Nastia and her beam choreography (more on that later). But there was still a lot that surprised me.
- Jordan Wieber – got to start with her since she took the title. I honestly thought that by the time 2012 rolled around, she’d be washed up. That sounds harsh but I remember her from the 2009 American Cup and I just didn’t think she’d hold on and stay at the top of her game through the entire quad. But she looked good. She looked like a world champ. I can’t say she knocked my socks off on any one event but she’s clearly a solid, high-class all-arounder.
- Gabby Douglas. I dig this girl. She does gorgeous gymnastics, has incredible lines and she seems genuinely enthused about it all. All four events are world-class. Her personality makes me think of a young Amanda Borden. Just totally delighted to be doing what she’s doing. And then this morning, I remembered a line of Tim Dagget’s when Dominique Dawes was in her first Nationals in 1991. Her floor routine rocked the house and Tim said “She’s just a little girl on a playground.” That’s what Gabby Douglas seems like to me. She’s not working. She’s playing and having a grand time. And bringing us along with her. Hands down, she’s my new favorite.
Photo by usagymnast.com
- Kyla Ross – she also has beautiful lines. I liked her more classical style. What’s the deal with her? Is she new on the scene? Not as experienced? They weren’t talking about her as though she is a shoe-in for the team but she looked solid to me.
- McKayla Maroney – ok, I decided to look up her vaults online since they said she is the current world champ. Watching her 2.5 yurchenko my jaw literally fell open. Kid gets mad air. I’ve never seen the like. WOW. What are her other events like? Is she a one event gal?
- What’s up with Elizabeth Price? She got NO air time but she was in 5th the entire day.
- Aly Raisman - Tim and Elfi were talking about her as one of our biggest stars but after Vault & Bars, my impression was just meh, looks like an Alicia clone. But then she rocked her Beam set and her Floor routine basically blew my mind. So I get it now.
- Speaking of Alicia, her vaults looked just ok to me. They didn’t have the same pop off the table that I remember. Was it an off day for her? Her beam looked solid. Is she just a two event gymnast now or does she do floor still?
- Ok, and on to Nastia. Her beam routine was gorgeous as always. But what’s the deal with her choreography? It almost exactly the same. And it was exactly the same in the entire last quad. I think it’s been the same since she was 12. Gymnasts used to change it up more often. She is an absolutely exquisite athlete but I’m completely bored with her set. Time to change it up. Bars – she looked beautiful as always but really tired. When did she start this comeback? Is it reasonable to think she’ll be able to get in shape in time? From where I sit, she would certainly be an asset to team USA on those two events if she was at the top of her game but it seems like time is running out for her.
- I’ve long been a big fan of Bridget Sloan and I was so excited to see her. But she seemed just mediocre. Or is that just the way Tim and Elfi talked about her?
Other random thoughts on the state of women’s gymnastics…
- Why is it that the USA women have such unimaginative, unbearable floor choreography? I just don’t understand it. We have the most amazing collegiate scene in the world and the choreography in the NCAA ranks is outstanding. It’s creative, energetic and well-executed by all different types of gymnasts. Why such a dearth on the elite scene? We should be so much better than this. We obviously have choreographers who are phenomenal. Why aren’t we availing ourselves of it?
- I’m sure that I haven’t seen it abused yet, as many things are in the code each quad, but I really liked the jumps after tumbling passes. When it’s done well, it’s fluid and beautiful.
- I like the forward hip circles on bars. Those are interesting.
That is all for now. I’ve still got a lot of reading, watching and catching up to do. I’m trying to come up with my idea of an ideal Olympic Team but I don’t know enough yet. What were your thoughts on the competition? Got any insight for me?