Competitions and Gymnastics02 Jul 2012 12:06 pm

We raced home from our vacation so that I could be home in time to watch the Trials live @ 6pm.  But alas, the coverage was delayed here and didn’t start until 9pm.  Yawn.   I’ve got to admit I’m usually conked out by 10pm.  But I made an exception and even convinced Jason (husband) to stay up and watch with me.  It’s the Olympic Trials after all.  Kind of a big deal.   And although it’s not the same as it used to be, it’s still pretty exciting!

Here were my thoughts as I watched, pretty much in order of what I saw in the TV coverage…

  • I like that tie-style leotard.  That’s a pretty one.  When did that one debut?  2011 Worlds?
  •  Gabby Douglas on vault.  Dang!  What a start!  That’s how you want to kick off a competition.
  •  I like how Al Trautwig talked about Elizabeth Price bringing her 73-year-old coach to tears.  If there is anything I remember about Bill Strauss it’s that he ALWAYS cries.  Not that it isn’t genuine but it’s not like it takes much for that guy to bring on the waterworks, right?
  • The scoring help by NBC was a good idea, I think.  The red, yellow, green indicator next to the scores.  It gives the average viewer just a little bit of help in comprehending the complex scoring.
  • Maroney had a rough go on bars but I like her lines.
  • Anna Li really rocked her bar set.  To quote Jason, “that one handed split flyaway – that’s pretty sweet!” (talking about her 1/1 tkatchev, of course)
  • I asked about Elizabeth Price in my Nationals post b/c nobody was talking about her and they didn’t air any of her routines.  After her Beam set, it sure seemed like folks ought to be talking about her.  Is she usually that solid on beam?   Aaaaand… Bill Strauss is crying again.  

    Photo courtesy of

  • Sacramone nailed her beam set.  She seriously looks exactly the same to me as she did in 2008.
  • Nastia  – what’s going on with her hair?  Looks a little wild.   Ahhh, that was sad to see – really needed to knock our socks off on bars- glad she landed that dismount at least.  “Poor Nast” -Jason
  • Raisman on Beam – so… romanian looking with her choreography, but dang, she was solid, nice dismount.
  • Ross – gorgeous lines on bars.  Definitely seems to be an asset to the US team there.
  • Bross on Bars.  I’ve never been a huge fan of her gymnastics style but man, that was just heartbreaking.
  • Douglas – wow – fumbled her grip on bars but stayed on.  Beautiful as usual.


Photo courtesy of

  • Elizabeth Price on floor – pretty awesome tumbling and such controlled landings.  For a “power” athlete, she has such a pretty line and I like how she smiles throughout.  Nobody did her any favors, though, with her music and choreography.  Agree?  Disagree?
  • Raisman – that girl has hops!  I suppose everyone else is used to her tumbling now but my jaw still sort of drops when I see her.
  • Liukin  did a nice job on Beam to finish up.   Probably the last time we’ll see her compete, I suppose.
  • Maroney – I like her look on Floor.  Nice routine.  She’s a bouncy one, too.
  • Ross  was gorgeous on beam.  Didn’t look too nervy to me.  Can’t ask for much more than that at Olympic Trials, can ya?
  • Haven’t said much about Wieber yet.  She was fine on bars and beam, nothing spectacular.  A great triple turn on Floor and a crazy good floor routine in general.
  • Great vaults from Sacramone.  Couldn’t really ask for a better performance from her today.  And it was fun for me to see a brief shot of her talking to Kim Zmeskal after vault.
  • Raisman’s Amanar looked scary to me.  Was she having an off day or is it normally like that?
  • Maroney still blows my mind entirely with her Amanar.  Amazing.  There aren’t enough adjectives for her vaulting capabilities.
  • Wieber’s Amanar was good but not great.  Didn’t seem like she got a whole lot of pop off the horse.    Overall, she is just a rock.  Wow.  She seems unflappable.
  • Gabby Douglas on Floor.  I really like how much she smiles and how she genuinely seems like she’s having fun.  A few minor issues but she still rocked the set.
  • Price is so unassuming.  WOW – she also has a spectacular Amanar. If I hadn’t just seen Maroney’s I would have been even more impressed.  They didn’t show her on Bars.  How is she on that event?
  • After the competition wrapped, I quickly tried to comply a team in my head.  And as it turns out, I was right on the money with the top 5.  I was a little off with the alternates, though.  And when the alternates came out, I didn’t even recognize the last one – Sarah Finnegan, it turns out.  I saw a couple of her routines at Nationals.  What’s her strength?  All Around?  Bars?
  • I was kind of pulling for Sacramone to be an alternate.  I know her particular strengths are not as needed, per se, but she has such a wealth of experience and she would be a good leader and presence for the team.   And ’08 team finals aside, she’s a rock and you could put her up in a pinch.
Well, that’s about all from my stream of consciousness.  What did the rest of you think?

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
  • 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?

Gymnastics26 Feb 2009 06:33 pm

I got an email from the author of a new gymnastics book called Flip Outside the Box, featuring “creative women’s gymnastics elements.”   Thought it might be worth passing along to you all.  Here’s the website with info on the book and ordering information.  If any of you get it, I’d be interested in hearing what you think.

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 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.


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 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…


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…


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.


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?

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