Gymnastics Ramblings


Gymnastics and Gymnastics Ramblings30 Jun 2012 02:29 pm

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.

Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnastics Ramblings and Gymnasts11 Jun 2012 11:37 am



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?

Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnastics Ramblings20 Feb 2009 01:49 pm

So the American Cup is tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about it. As other people point out often enough, it’s a bit of a joke. It gets a lot of hype for such a small, Amerocentric competition.  But I still tend to look forward to it.  It’s a tradition and comes at a dry time in the gymnastics year.

sloan

The first Cup of the quadrennium always proves to hold some excitement because it’s just that.  The first Cup of the quadrennium.  It’s a chance to see the up and comers.  A chance to see what might be in store for the next four years.  A time for new faces and new gymnastics.  A time to see what we’ll love and hate in the next Olympic cycle.  Well, from an American perspective anyway.  (more…)

Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnastics Ramblings13 Aug 2008 02:35 pm

Like Rick McCharles over at Gymnastics Coaching, I felt a bit deflated after the Women’s Team Final last night.  China was brilliant and were well-deserving of their gold medal.  But I, too, was hoping it would be a closer race for the title.    This morning I didn’t really feel like blogging about it.  Then my husband sent me the link to an article by on Slate.

Here are a few excerpts…

The American girls came out onto the floor in shiny red leotards that made them look like Las Vegas showgirls. On average 30 pounds heavier and 3.5 inches taller than the doll-sized Chinese gymnasts, they had the sheen of aging starlets, imbuing the scene with a peculiar Sunset Boulevard feel. From the start, we knew how this would end, with the young outshining the “old.” Briefly, after the Chinese team completed its third rotation, the balance beam, it looked like the Americans had a real shot at the gold: The Chinese team leader, Cheng Fei, had taken a dramatic spill, earning a huge 0.8 deduction. But Alicia Sacramone, the oldest member of the American team, misjudged her mount and, arms windmilling, fell from the beam before she even got on it. It was as metaphorical a fall as it was literal. In the next event, the floor exercise, all three American competitors—Shawn Johnson, Liukin, and Sacramone—stepped out of bounds, as if the equipment were taunting them: You’re too big and old.

It was hard not to see the American girls’ failure to stay inbounds as a kind of Freudian slip—or Freudian step. It was as if, worried that the Chinese might have an unfair advantage, the Americans suddenly became aware of their growing bodies, of the potential for harm, of how easy it is to make a mistake, of how fast time flies and the body stiffens, even for those who can flip through the air and perform ever more complicated release skills on the uneven bars.

And then a little later in the article…

Meanwhile, in other news: Apparently the Romanians are so “Westernized” that they actually “text message” between rotations now. Tim Daggett, NBC’s color commentator, noted this development breathlessly, fingering it as the cause of the Romanians’ dramatic decline in the past four years, practically bemoaning the passing of athletic slavery in Eastern Europe. (Gymnastics truly can bring out the fascistic perfectionist in anyone.)

Click here to read the entire article.

It’s hard to know where to even begin in a critique of this article.  I’m not even entirely sure what it’s about.   So while I further form my thoughts on O’Rourke’s outlandish piece, I thought I would post it and see what you think.   What do you think she’s trying to say with this article?  Is there any validity to her assertions?  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnastics Ramblings and Gymnasts11 Aug 2008 03:55 pm

If Samantha Peszek can’t compete any events in the Women’s Team Final, here’s my pick for the US Team on each event, in order.

Samantha Peszek

  • Vault: Sloan, Sacramone, Johnson (in order of highest scoring potential)
  • Bars: Sloan, Memmel, Liukin (again, in order of highest scoring potential)
  • Beam: Johnson, Liukin, Sacramone (Johnson and Liukin have proven their stability and consistency time and time again on Beam.  By putting Sacramone up last, it should take a bit of pressure off of her and boost her scoring potential.)
  • Floor: Sacramone, Johnson, Liukin (Liukin is normally the lowest score out of these three athletes – putting her up last, like Sacramone on Beam, would maximize her scoring potential).

If Sam Peszek is back in the mix by Wednesday morning, I would change the vault lineup with Peszek filling in for Bridget Sloan.   I would leave the Floor lineup as is because when they both hit, Liukin tends to score a tad higher than Peszek.

What do you think?  Who would you put in the lineup if you were head coach Liang Chow?

Gymnastics and Gymnastics Ramblings and Gymnasts and Top Ten29 Jul 2008 05:14 pm

So I realize that the entire gymnastics world is talking about one of three things right now… Paul Hamm’s withdrawl from the US Men’s Olympic Team, the alleged age falsification of some Beijing-bound athletes, and the Dominque Moceanu/Jennifer Sey “stuff.”  All of these things have certainly been on my mind of late and I have been preparing a post regarding the Sey controversy, but for now, I’m going to keep things on the lighter side.

I wrote a post last Fall about the ten things I dislike in the world of gymnastics and thought I should counter balance it with a list of ten things that I do like.  I find myself complaining about the current state of gymnastics far too often.  I thought it would be fun to remind myself of what is good about our sport right now.  Without further ado…

  • I like the return of the aerial cartwheel on Beam.  Yes, I suppose it’s overused already (what isn’t with this code?  Wait, this is a positive list…)  but it’s a gorgeous skill when done well.
  • Mattie Larson.  Isn’t she fun?  She has such spunk and seems so unaffected by the things that have happened this year.  We need more athletes like her, with expressiveness on the apparatus and clean, precise execution.    I hope she recovers well from her stress fracture and look forward to seeing her in the years to come.

(more…)

Gymnastics and Gymnastics Ramblings31 Dec 2007 02:40 pm

I am spending a few days in Canada for a mini vacation but couldn’t resist bringing the laptop so I could write an end of the year post. I decided to write about the top ten things I think should have happened in 2007 but didn’t. As usual I am focused on the women’s side of the sport. It would be great to hear what you think should be on the men’s list.

Just to clarify…by “should have” I do not mean deserved.  I just mean things that I wish had happened but for one reason or another did not.  In no particular order…

  1. Hollie Dykes should have made more of a world impact. I was expecting to see her in the hunt for several medals in Stuttgart but she was nowhere to be found. Photo courtesy of gymbox.net (more…)
Gymnastics and Gymnastics Ramblings and Gymnasts20 Dec 2007 12:57 pm

So I know that I admitted in an earlier post that Rick over at Gymnastics Coaching has been slowly persuading me that the event specialist is not a bad thing. And while I confess that I am starting to agree with him, I still can’t help advocating for All Arounders.

Sacramone at the 2005 US Nationals

With Cheng Fei dashing my hopes last month, my thoughts have recently turned to Alicia Sacramone. I’m guessing that she’ll be on the US Olympic Team barring any major injuries or problems. She’s a former World Champion on Floor, multiple World medalist on Vault and she has recently enjoyed a resurgence on the Beam. All that leaves is Bars. And honestly she’s not that bad on the Bars. Check out this youtube video of her from last year’s nationals.

I’m not saying she’s Svetlana Khorkina or anything but she’s got a respectable routine. And since she was still training Bars as of last Spring (2007 season for Brown University), it wouldn’t be that difficult to start up again. It certainly seems like it would be worth a shot.

What do you think? Should Sacramone dust off her grips?

Gymnastics and Gymnastics Ramblings07 Dec 2007 02:09 pm

December is usually one of the busiest months for me at work so I am anticipating that I will not be able to post as much in the next couple of weeks. But I do want to weigh in on the discussion about the international age limit.

Bruno Grandi, president of the international gymnastics governing body (FIG), has been quoted as saying that he would like to raise the minimum age limit once again for international competition. In 1997, the age limit was raised from 15 to 16. Grandi has said in the past that he thinks the age limit should be 18 and just recently announced that he believes there should be no international competitions for juniors whatsoever.

There are many things to consider with regard to age limit but by and large, I am tempted to agree with Grandi – though not entirely.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject…

  • Making the age limit higher will encourage athletes to stay in the sport longer. Athletes, especially on the women’s side, will see that it’s not necessary to stop the sport at 18. Gymnasts like Chusovitina, Khorkina, Bhardwaj, & Hatch have made it abundantly clear and I believe the FIG should encourage that. With Rick over at Gymnastics Coaching slowing changing my mind about event specialists, I believe that the rise of the event specialist will also encourage longevity in the sport.

Annia Hatch after winning Vault Silver at the 2000 Olympics (more…)

Gymnastics and Gymnastics Ramblings and Top Ten30 Nov 2007 07:14 pm

I wrote about my distaste for tank leos, gym shoes & the leg-up full turn a few months ago. The list has now expanded. These are the top 10 things I dislike right now in the world of gymnastics.

  1. The jump-up mount on Beam. Think Shawn Johnson & Li Shanshan. I did this mount as a Level 7 compulsory gymnast way back when. This is an ugly and uncreative mount and way too many gymnasts use it. It is possible to get on the Beam without risk but still with beauty and originality. Using this mount seems lazy and I expect more from world class athletes.
  2. I’ve said it before but I must say it again. The leotards worn by the United States Women. Now that we’ve seen that the floor and matting is going to be red at the Olympics next year, I hope they come up with something more interesting than this.

    USA Leotard (more…)

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