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 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 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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Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnasts21 Jun 2008 10:53 pm

I’m going out of town tomorrow morning and will miss all the coverage of Day 2 for the US Women’s Olympic Trials.   I’ll be on a camping road trip so I likely won’t know anything until the first of July.   So based on what I saw tonight from Day 1 (and from Nationals), here’s who is on my team…

  • Shawn Johnson
  • Nastia Liukin
  • Chellsie Memmel
  • Alicia Sacramone
  • Samantha Peszek
  • Bridget Sloan

Ivana Hong, Shayla Worley, Jana Bieger & Mattie Larson are all legit contenders as well.    With the team scenario I listed above, I think that Bridget would be used on Bars only and if that is the case, she can bring in the highest score there (compared to Hong, Worley, Bieger & Larson).    The rest of the events would look as follows…

Vault

  • Johnson
  • Sacramone
  • Peszek
  • Alt: Memmel

Bars

  • Liukin
  • Memmel
  • Sloan
  • Alt: Johnson

Beam

  • Johnson
  • Liukin
  • Memmel
  • Alt: Sac or Sloan

Floor

  • Johnson
  • Sacramone
  • Memmel or Peszek
  • Alt: Sloan

What do you think?   Who would you put on the team based on Night 1?

Competitions and Gymnastics and Gymnasts21 Jun 2008 05:22 pm


Already named:

  • Paul Hamm
  • Jonathan Horton

Perfect 10s Remaining 4 spots + 1 alternate:

  • Justin Spring
  • Sean Golden
  • Joseph Hagerty
  • Raj Bhavsar
  • Kevin Tan

I admit that it pains me to leave Morgan Hamm off this list.  He certainly has the clout and reputation.  It pains me to leave Durante, Townsend, Alvarez & Artemev off as well.  What a tough call.  What do you think?   Who are your picks for those remaining spots?

Non Gymnastics13 Jun 2008 10:24 am

I just read the article on the International Gymnast site about Ashley Priess’ decision to retire during training at the US National Championships. Always impressed by her gymnastics, and her coach as well, I admit I was quite curious as to what caused her to decide to step away from the Olympic Selection process mere weeks before the Games. Citing a chronic back condition which she feared would not survive the Summer, Priess decided to forgo her dream of the Olympics in order to pursue another dream: competing on a collegiate team. She did not want to jeopardize her collegiate chances by overworking her back in the Olympic Selection process.

Two quotes in particular stand out from the interview. The first is in regard to her family. (more…)

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