Gymnasts


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 Gymnasts26 Feb 2009 12:54 pm

So I had to watch the American Cup in 3 different sittings this year. And I haven’t had a chance to re-watch it yet, which is rare for me. But here are some of my thoughts from the NBC broadcast on Saturday…

  • wieberJordan Wieber won.  No surprise there.  Didn’t it seem like the whole thing was scripted?   It all seemed a little too predictable, I guess.
  • It was definitely a two person race on the women’s side.  Kim Bui of Germany, who came in third behind Wieber & Sloan, was almost 4 points behind the leaders.   Ridiculous. (more…)
Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnasts21 Aug 2008 03:25 pm

You’ve seen my thoughts on the Men’s Event Finals and to follow up, here’s my take on the Women’s…

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Vault: Congratulations to Hong Un Jong who was able to capitalize on the mistake of Cheng Fei, the Gold Medal favorite prior to the finals.  A first for North Korea – well done.

Like most everyone else, I was thrilled with Oksana Chusovitina’s silver.  Her form seemed somewhat improved to me and her landings were spot on.  Doesn’t she normally compete a Tsuk 1.5 for her second vault?  That’s what I was expecting anyway and was impressed to see her pull out the double.    I hope she continues on to 2012 as she’s been quoted as saying.  What an amazing feat that would be!

As anyone who has read my blog will know, I am not at all a fan of an athlete falling and yet winning a medal over someone who did not fall.  So I obviously did not agree with places 3 & 4 in the final.  Alicia Sacramone hit two clean vaults.  Yes, they are not as difficult as Cheng Fei‘s but Cheng fell on her second vault.  Sacramone should have had the Bronze.   And who didn’t want to Sacramone have success in the final after the rough day she had in the Team Finals?   She deserved to medal here and she didn’t.  (more…)

Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnasts21 Aug 2008 02:26 pm

I’m definitely experiencing the inevitable let down now that the artistic gymnastics portion of the Olympics has come to a close.  There is such build up, such anticipation for the Olympics and it always seems to fly by once it’s here.  I’ll admit though, that I did enjoy going to bed at a decent hour last night.   Anyhow, there is still much to talk and blog about so here are some of my thoughts on the Event Finals…

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Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnasts18 Aug 2008 12:34 pm

So it seems like we all pretty much knew that the two American women would take the gold & silver if they both hit.   And I knew that no matter which one ended up on top, I would feel pretty sad for the one that took the silver.  Not that silver is bad but either one of them could have wound up on top of the medal stand and both were equally well-prepared and deserving of that top spot.    And I did feel bad for Shawn.  I was thrilled to see Nastia pull through with 4 incredible routines to take the title, but it was hard to watch Shawn come up just a bit short.  Can’t be an easy spot to be in.

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Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnasts14 Aug 2008 02:18 pm

I tried something a little different last night.  I decided to watch the Men’s All Around final on the Canadian station (CBC) rather than NBC.   The highlight of the CBC’s coverage was definitely the length.  They gave almost 3 solid hours of the finals and there were frequently 20-30 minute stretches without commercial breaks.  The downside was the commentary and lack of little extras.  I know that everyone harps on Tim, Elfi & Al, but I have to admit that I missed them.  Tim gives an enthusiasm that is unmatched by the Canadian commentators, who seemed rather ho hum throughout the competition.  And there were no human interest stories (we can pretend we don’t like them but we know that we all do) or inspiring music going to and from the commercial breaks.  I didn’t think I would miss that stuff but I did.

Ok, enough said about the coverage.  On to the competition. My thoughts…

So Yang Wei finally has his gold.   It’s about time.  And he couldn’t have scripted it any better… to have been thwarted for so long and to finally achieve his lifelong dream in front his home crowd.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Well done.

I must say, though, that his overall performance was not stellar.  I have been slowly coming around to the new code of points but something sure seems amiss when the Olympic All Around champion can finish SO far in front with a high bar routine like that.  Not to mention his lackluster start on Floor.  Just makes me wonder… I realize his dominance on the other four events but still.  Seems strange.

Speaking of which, how about Kohei Uchimura?  The guy fell off pommels twice!  Again, he was brilliant on the other events but it just doesn’t sit well with me.  He certainly has a brilliant future.  I’m looking forward to seeing him in the next quad.

Bravo to Benoit Caranobe!  I had never even heard of the guy.  It was so fun to see someone totally unknown and unexpected have the meet of his life and win a medal.   I’m excited to see him in the Vault final.

So while the final was a good one, I’m still left with a lot of questions about this code.  What did you all think?  Did you enjoy the final?

Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnasts12 Aug 2008 09:50 am

CHINA:

These guys were phenomenal in their quest to win Gold.  They pulled ahead of the field and showed how dominant they truly are.  It was great to see them hit when it counted, to erase the demons of Athens and end up on top.

It’s hard to choose a favorite routine from among them but my top picks would be…

  • Chen Yibing on rings.  His strength was unreal but what took my breath away was his dismount.  Full-twisting double layout, which he opened up and flaired before landing with ease.   It was gorgeous.
  • Huang Xu on parallel bars.  Clean, precise and a perfect landing.  Like Tim says, it was “gymnastics 101.” (more…)
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?

Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnasts11 Aug 2008 03:14 pm

I decided, like Blythe over at the gymblog, to attempt to enjoy the Olympics old school-style and wait for the primetime coverage in the evenings, rather than reading all the spoilers online.  It really is so much more fun to watch the action unfold as opposed to reading about it.    I’ll admit that it was extremely difficult to wait, knowing that all the news was one click away.    I avoided email, newspapers, phone calls… but it was definitely worth the wait.  I am glad that the Team Finals and All Around will be live, though, since I don’t know how long I would be able to hold out.    Now that the Women’s Prelims are over, here are eight of my thoughts on the competition (based on NBCs coverage).

From nastialiukin.com

  • Samantha Peszek… what a heartbreak.  To injure yourself just minutes before the biggest competition of your life is completely devastating.  And since she was a longshot for making the All Around or Event Finals, her time to shine was in the team competition.  I hope she’s able to recover enough to compete some in the Team Finals.
  • Although I was only able to see Anna Pavlova on Floor, she looks to be in great shape and I read this morning that she made all the finals sans Bars.  She deserved to be on the All Around podium in Athens so here’s to hoping that she gets some Olympic hardware this time around.  (more…)
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.

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