Monday, July 20, 2009

Hi!!! Miss Me?


Just so you know that I'm still paying attention to what goes on in the gymnastics world, even though i am still manically trying to complete my Masters thesis (due in ten days!) I am gonna have a little chat!
So, here's a brief canvas (academic talk!) of what I have been thinking about/watching/debating/musing/laughing about in the gymnastics world. Think of it as a sort of Couch Gymnast Monthly Newsletter.

The Sandra Izbasa television commercial. It may be old. But I have only just seen it. It kind of makes me laugh. The fall was soooo fake! Also, is it just me, or does Sandra's skin look a little funny in the close up?  Maybe it is just the sweat. Love the little smile at the end, though- she looks so mature and wise- rare for a young gymnast.

Speaking of the Romanians, I had a good look at as many of the Romanian International gymnastics routines I could get hold of (mostly provided by Mihaitza48) and the young Romanian girls are looking amazing! Call it a home town advantage, but they were solid, graceful and so many of them have absolutely terrifically executed leaps on floor. Racea has an incredible spin on her. Dragoi's beam has gotten better and Porgras's is beeyoootiful!!  The more I watch these Romanian girls Up and Come the more excited I get.  And the more I see of their beam work, the more I believe that Liliana Cosma is a LEGEND for slowly bringing the Romanian beam standard right back up again AND putting a bit of elegance back in there.

Was also very impressed by Italian Elizabetta Preziosa at the Romanian Nats. Lovely, if not very difficult beam work. Her bars was tidy too.  Pity about the muscling to the high bar. And don't the Italians just love a planche beam mount?! I think they are addicted. We may have to have to stage an intervention.

As for Tatiana Nabieva's attempted TTY at the Japan Cup. I kind of think "Bah!" but I kind of also think "Yay!!!" It's a sign that vault is going to get a tad more interesting in the future.

I was very grateful to find videos of the Mustafina FX from Japan Cup. Love her floor work. It's so pretty and her tumbling is hardcore!!! (Go check Youtube more and more vids from JapCup up last night!)  Did not enjoy Myzdrikova's as much as I have in the past.  I think she has sloppy tumbling form.

Speaking of the Japan Cup, I was, of course, a little sad to see Australia coming fourth of the four teams. I was really hoping to see them up in third place.  But Japan clearly had a great meet. Still loving Koko Tsurumi's beam work. She is so elegant for a tiny gymnast. As for Lauren Mitchell, that beam routine, if hit, is mega, but she really has to tap it in the next few months if she wants to nail it at Worlds. 
Peggy Liddick told the papers that by the Japan Cup she was ready to compare LM's routine to what the rest of the world was doing, and frankly, I think Lauren is up there, but not nearly steady enough to take on the gorgeous Chinese women or the incredibly steady and stoic Romanians and Americans at Worlds just yet. 
Don't get me wrong, I think she can do it, she just has a way too go and i am not sure three months is enough. Is the difficulty level of that routine too risky for her? What do you guys think?

And who else has seen this Nastia Liukin interview with Ben Schwartz? I am surprised so many people in the comments were going OFF about how creepy he was. It was clearly a joke to me. He was supposed to be creepy!  I thought it was funny as hell. I highly doubt, for those who thought it was real, that Liukin or her managers would let something like that air if it was real. It made me like her more for playing along. The bit about Rainbows was hilarious!!

So, Ponor has announced she is definitely going to work for Teodora Ungureanu in Westchester.  She even has the plane ticket to prove it.  Well well.  Prosport said that if she stayed in Romania, Ponor would have earned a measly 800 lei a month.  That's around $270 USD a month.  About seventy a week!  No wonder poor old Romania is having a hard time holding onto its coaching talent pool! Cata leaves for the states on the 25th.

Also, I was looking at some old nineties gymnastics, as I am wont to do, and thinking about my fave routines A'la Mostepanova fan, and how could I have forgotten Li Li's 1993 beam routine!!  That mount with the press stand to dropping on her back?  Ouchy but amazing!  And the back spin into that awesome splits position around the beam? Stunning. What I love so much about this routine is that she managed to combine flashy and daring with lyrical and original.

 And of course, the execution of her leaps and tumbling wasn't bad either!!  Beautiful gymnastics.

So, I am having a pet peeve at the moment (when am I not?).  And it's about beam routines.  

So, all the girls have to do a move close to the beam.  

Some girls utilise this as a chance to show off a little flair (back-spin-to-splitty-wraparound-thingy anyone?) 
Some though, just get down low and go go go, fluff for a second and get right back up to get on with the big tricks a-la-Shawn Johnson. 
As if that is not bad enough, what I really can't stand is that so many girls, when they get up from from the low position, do it by straightening their legs while their hands are still on the beam so they form a kind of inverted V shape and lift their chests to a stand from there.  It's so boring!!  It looks so much nicer when the gymnast raises her leg into a needle scale (?) and then lifts her chest and stands through an arabesque.   

That's all I'm saying...

Or, even better a needle scale to bend the knee toward the head and lift to arabesque to stand (I am pretty sure Pavs does it, and Liukin, among others)  It looks prettier, more graceful, extended and interesting and IT ONLY TAKES ABOUT ONE SECOND TO DO, PEOPLE!!! You can do it and then you can still get right back to rushing through your standing arabians and badly performed leg-up full turns BUT you have also left the judges with an impression of grace and elegance.

Now, in case you don't know what in hell I am talking about, I have drawn a little diagram, firstly to demonstrate what I am peeved about.  Secondly to show how AMAZING I am at drawing stick figures (they should so get me to do the Code of Points illustrations) And thirdly, to prove that yes, I really am procrastinating on fixing up my annotated footnotes for my thesis!

What else?

Some random Gym thoughts.

I think Britt Greeley looks like the quintessential Aussie teenager.

I miss Cheng Fei.

Am also wondering how Pavs is doing.

I can't decide whether I am interested in what Nastia Liukin's new floor music will be or not.

I have, on the other hand, decided I can't stand/mildly dislike/feel completely indifferent to every single thing i see Shawn Johnson wearing. God, I am shallow.  Especially considering I do love Shawn.  She has just been wearing a few too many outfits and not enough leotards (read: training) lately!

Ugg Boots- Can't. Stand.

Necklace- Mildly Dislike

Dress- Meh - Completely Indifferent

I still miss Elsa Garcia. Where in hell is she?

I am super super excited about the NCAA season to come.  GO BRUINS!!!!

I think Anne Phillips and co from Gymnastike are geniuses (is it genii?)  Technique Tuesday is an incredible addition to their fabulous gym coverage.  I really got into the 'what the judges think' segments on sheep jumps and switch leaps.  Very eye opening, even as a mere gym fan. Terry Walker's interesting Tkatchev drill, using men's rather than women's technique this week was rather cool.  I loved how he grinned and said "I got it from the Russians back in the eighties!" about the drill!

I miss Steli Nistor.  She was a heinously talented, scruffy little munchkin.

Random Quote: Josie Loren of Make it or Break it about the stunt doubles.

"These are amazing professional gymnasts.  Some of them have been in the Olympics.  We had a three-time National Champion in.  In, I want to say episode seven, Payson does this ridiculous floor trick that I think only three people in the United States can do, so they flew one of the three girls in to do it, it's just spectacular."

Is the three-time National Champion Tasha Scwikert?  I know she is working on the show.  or was that her sister?  Or both?  I am so confused.  Also, I thought Tasha only won two Nats?

I have decided my dream coach would be Kim Zmeskal.  If you haven't watched the interviews with her on gymnastike.  Quick!  Get thee to them and see what an amazing, chilled, wise, insightful and inspiring coach she has become.  I absolutely admire her.

I have an airplane ticket and a gold class worlds ticket (The O2 stadium looks massive.  I will probably still be miles away from the action!)  Woot!

I miss Isabelle Severino (but knowing her, she'll probably have three more comebacks after she has had stints at being a rocket scientist, a market gardener and an Olympic medal winning javellin thrower- The last comeback will be when she is eighty and still doing her floor ex to something super cool).

I hope Courtney McCool is having a good time and not busy injuring anything.  

I want her back on floor next year. Bad.

I read Letters to a Young Gymnast or whatever Nadia Comaneci called it.  It was so, so much better than I expected it would be.  But then, I didn't expect much.  No, really, I did end up enjoying that book.  I especially found it fascinating to hear about what life was like in Ceaucescu's Romania.  Imagine having a third of your wages taken away for not having babies?  Insane!!!

Speaking of gymnastics books, does anyone remember the British book series Gymnast Gilly, or the American The Gymnasts series by Elizabeth Levi?  Were other just like me and wished they would quit with the gym mysteries and growing pains and friendship politics and pre-adolescent angst and just get on with the gymnastics already?!?!

I miss Henrietta Onodi. But I will always miss Henni.

I have to confess I am still a bit mad at Ostapenko for not going back to Ukraine.

I miss Mariana Bitang ...... just kidding.

Okay, rant over.


  1. I have the first 12 Gymnasts books in my basement! I bought them in a nostalgic moment from ebay. :)

    Good luck with your thesis!

  2. the three-time national champion could be Courtney Kupets... I think she is a stunt on the show.

  3. Lucky you, going to the worlds. I'm seriously thinking about going as well, even though I know that I really shouldn't because tickets + hotel + transport is going to be expensive. Plus I have no one to go with. But I really really want to go, so I might do it anyway.
    Nice to hear from you again, by the way. And yes, I did miss you.

  4. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    you're back! I missed you! :D Loved the entry, observations, rant, everything. best wishes re: achieving your Masters :)

  5. I don't know who that would be.... Tasha only won 2 and tied for second another..

  6. is it me or do like ALL italian gymnasts do switch split ring leaps on beam and completely FAIL at them? though they make up for it with the cool/complicated handstand posey mounts!

  7. Ha! I always wished those damn books would describe MORE GYMNASTICS and less..whine.

  8. I love the random Bitang comment at the end. <3 you, Couch Gymnast.

  9. Love this whole post. And your stick figures = awesome.

  10. Ramona Micu trained Porgras, Racea, Haidu, Trenca etc on BB until a year ago so she should get credits too

  11. Yes, you are absolutely right, Ramona Haidudeserves a lot of the credit too then.

  12. WOHOOO!! You're back! On a selfish note, I would like you to be 100% dedicated to this blog (just kidding, but hey, I girl can dream):) On the other side, good luck with your thesis! That is one of my non-gymnastics related biggest dreams, to complete my grad, I completely rambling here. Anyway, excelent post as usual, I LOL with your sticks figures!!

  13. "I miss Mariana Bitang... just kidding."

    THAT made me laugh out loud, in all seriousness. :P

    I miss her too... just kidding! :P

  14. Have you got your ticket already? I don't have mine yet :(

  15. I mssed your posts ,bumy only problem is the TTY, it was supposed to be an Amanar and it was a poorly performed Amanar.

  16. Missed ya, Couchy.

    I love that you posted a picture of the cover of The Gymnasts book #7... that's one of the ones I had! I have of course subsequently lost it and I was thinking about that cover the other day, racking my brain to try and remember the title. So thanks for inadvertantly helping! I also had the one where Heidi goes to the Olympics, and "Nasty Competition" (book #8 I think?)

    Have a wonderful time on your travels, can't wait to see what you have to show us from it all :)


  17. The way Nastia speaks really annoys me, I've discovered. I can't watch her interviews for more than two seconds.

  18. laugh and laugh love all your comments!!!

    im from mexico and there´s no big information about elsa garcia, just a little one in a nuevo leon´s newspaper (that´s the state where she´s from)that´s said that she is recovering after a surgery.

  19. pang panpan (or is it pan pangpang, i cant remember) does the arabesque thingy when coming up from a swingdown to the beam