Friday, July 31, 2009

For Your Random Enjoyment!

I was just looking for something and found this blog by a random ex-gymnast.  I didn't read any of the rest of her blog, so i don't know what it's like,  but she has two posts relating to gymnastics (link!)
 Very Funny!  
Particularly the one about the Olympics.  Much hilariousnees from someone who onviously hasn't been watching it in a while.  
I love the "Freakin' Nadia Comaneci is watching" bit! 
And I love that she calls him "Crazytrain Bela Karolyi"!!!


A Dress-up Party Somewhere in New York: 
Wow! A crazytrain version of the Crazytrain!

OKAY.....IT"S TIME TO GO....

(OR YET ANOTHER PET PEEVE!)

Maybe it is because I have been watching a few old US Nationals, and they are full of the worse commentating hyperbole and cliche, but I am raging right now!!




Okay, we all whinge about the Schlegel/ Dagget/ Trautwig commentating trio.  In fact I had quite a field day at it once (See "They Said What?") in one of my early Couch Gymnasts posts.  
And they are annoying. 
But I have always held out a little in defense of them, mostly because it is impossible to be great at something like commentating, and certainly hard to please all the viewers with their various biases and opinions on a subjective sport.  
But lordy, really, I have HAD ENOUGH!  
I have had enough of inane commentary.  
I have had enough of them saying the same things over and over again at every Nationals.  
And I have certainly had enough of Andrea Joyce's naff post-meet interviews.  (Besides, I am not sure I will ever quite forgive her for her insensitive interview with Alicia Sacramone after the Beijing Team finals.  Wanna rub salt in to a newly gaping wound Andrea?)
Whoever makes these broadcasting decision needs to do some thinking.  
There must be many, many younger, more in touch ex-gymnasts out there who are capable of bringing something to the commentary table other than the same old tired cliches. 


Hell, Bart and Tasha are better.  
Bart, though he talks about Nadia a little too much for my liking has a much more international focus.  he actually seems to know about other countries. 
 And Tasha has the wonderful balance where she is openly admiring and impressed with good skills and she is strict.  She is not afraid to say something isn't performed well wether the gymnasts is the golden girl of the moment or not.  
And she has improved a lot over the years.  Less gauche silence and more opinion.  
I actually think Tasha should have Andrea Joyce's job.  I think she'd be great at the interviews.  She would actually remember how it felt to win or to have a dud meet and be sensitive to it and the girls she interviewed might actually engage a little more.
And I miss Kathy Johnson.  
She was a great commentator.  Bring her back!!
Even the NCAA commentators do a better job.  They know ALL the gymnasts.  
We need new blood.  Because I am BAYING FOR THE BLOOD of the evil trio right now!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

THE COUCH GYMNAST...

HAS HANDED IN HER MASTERS THESIS!



AND SHE FEELS A BIT LIKE THIS!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

THREE GREAT PHOTOS..

From the EYOF Gymnastics competition in Tampere. You can always trust gymbox to take a great picture. If you want to see there rest, go here




Tatiana Solvyeva and Violetta Malikova


Julie Croket

This is what I am talking about....

Okay, another pet peeve (no stick figures this time!)
This time I want to talk about choreography.  Yesterday I was talking about how much I love the way Ivana Hong's floor routines are designed.  They make up for her lack of artistic expression by creating a routine that gives her lovely shapes and lines.  In doing so, they obscure the fact that she isn't necessarily the most accomplished dancer.  I mean, there are plenty worse.  Ivana's not bad and anyway, she's a gymnast not a dancer.  

But that's not the point.  My point is that decent choreography can cover for a gymnast's flaws and weaknesses.  Now, any elite gymnast has been trained to perform balletic leaps, and any elite gymnast must be able to do the splits and a backbend.  So why not use them to give the gymnast who doesn't have naturally lovely lines some lovely lines?  It's a case of the old "if all you get is lemons, make lemonade" principle.  

Any gymnast can achieve this lovely shape.  So why don't they use it?

Why, instead, do they insist on this?!?
 



A case in point.  Take Kristina Goryunova's floor routine from the 2009 Tyson American Cup.




Now, Goryunova is by no means what we would call naturally graceful.  In fact, next to her team mates The Ksenia's and Pavs, she could even be considered downright clunky.  I mean, she is a fierce tumbler and a good vaulter.  That is why the Russians have her.  But they are smart too.  Her natural talent for tumbling does NOT STOP THEM from finding choreography that will give her enough elegance and poise to impress the judges, elegance and poise that does not necessarily come naturally to her.  

Of course part of it is her good training.  She has clearly been drilled in ballet and has obviously been trained to understand that her leaps and dance moves are of value as much as her tumbling.

As far as I am concerned this is quite a pretty, and more importantly, polished little routine (wavy hands in the tumble corners before the third pass aside!)  from a gymnast who would probably rather be flipping all the time. You can see that she has been taught to treat each move as a move unto itself, and not just a series of gestures that give her breathing time and brings her closer to the next tumble.

It's the little things.  It's the overextended first split leap.  It's the elegant little stag jump out of another jump.  It's the arabesques in the corner. It's the pretty little retire into the half plie before her (kinda sad) leg up full-turn.  It's the the arabesque down into handstand turn. It's the lovely arched back on the finish pose.

It's not much, but the clever choreography gives her routine an air of poise and artistry.  And there is not a single gymnast out there who couldn't at least attempt the same type of moves.  Now clearly some girls are just naturally more graceful and therefore, have the upper hand in that department of gymnastics judging.  But still, there are ways to at least impress the judges with what you HAVE got.  

Sorry to go on about it, but when I see a routine like this that succeeds in showing off a gymnasts best assets, while obscuring her weaknesses through something so basic as clever, well-thought-out chorey, I get frustrated because of the many coaches who do not attend to the same things


 Anyway, well played Goryunova and her coaches and choreographers!!

OKAY GUYS, IT'S TIME

FOR A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE.....

So, most of you know that for the better part of a year, The Couch Gymnast has been combing the annals of gymnastics history on the search for the Best and Worst Leotards donned by gymnasts in competition.  She even called on you, Dear Readers to help in this search, and so many of you did, providing your own choices for the heats.  The Couch Gymnast's Worst and Prettiest Leotard Contest has now had eight heats each.  Over the year we have seen...


THE GOOD....


THE BAD....


THE UGLY...


....AND THE JUST PLAIN LEOTARD-ED!


And these weren't even heat winners!

Many disagreed with certain contestants, many heartily agreed with choices, and many, many voted...

So now it's time to move on to the semi-finals, of which there will be two for each category.  The three finalists will go into the Grand Finales of the World's Worst and Prettiest Leotard Contest  which will be held just before the first anniversary of The Couch Gymnast entering the blogsphere at the beginning of September.  

So guys, you've seen them before, get ready to narrow your choices down.  First semis will begin this weekend!!

Sandra Izbasa News



Well, it looks like Sandra Izbasa is going the way of many of her athletic forebears and is heading off to study at the renowned "Babes- Bolyai" University in Cluj Napoca in the faculty physical education.  Nicolae Forminte told the press that Sandra chose 'Kinetotherapy' to "continue a family tradition, especially since her parents work in the field."

Sandra achieved 9.71 in her Baccalaureate exam in the NationalAthlete College where she studies between training.  She took exams in oral English, Romanian language and literature, mastery of sports (can't see much of a problem there!!) and geography.  Her 9.71 average and her title of Olympic champion helped get her into the course.

I spent some time in Cluj-Napoca earlier this year.  The area around the Babes-Bolyai University is pretty.  The town is small, but nice and has a really young, fun, feel to it.  If she gets to actually study on campus after retiring, she will have a great time.  

In 2008, Head Coach Nicolae Forminte and her beam coach Liliana Cosma were awarded by the Babes Bolyai for their coaching work at a conference entitled "Contemporary Paradigms of Sports Science.  


Also, somebody told me that Oana Ban runs a gymnastics school in Cluj.  I think it is the same place she also trained as a young gymnast, becoming the the next big thing out of the "Viitoral" club since Vanda Hadarean when she emerged as a junior.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

So....

THE US COVER GIRL (COVER SCHMIRL) CLASSSIC

First, let's talk about Olivia Courtney.  No one else is.


So, U.C.L.A is gonna welcome this little gun to the fold with way open arms now!
It's funny though.  Olivia Courtney took the crown, but not many people seem to be paying the slightest bit of attention to her!  I know the AA was kind of thinned by yet another US injury-a-palooza, but still, credit where credit is due!  I for one can't wait for this dynamic, talented gymnast to make her way to the hallowed Pauley Pavillion!

See her bar routine here.  AMAZING releases, so high and dynamic.  Sure Tasha is well right about the questionable lines and missed handstands, but I got to say, that clean tight tuck in her dismount rocked my world.  Few of even the best maintain such lovely tuck form.  
Also, I was amazed at how high her first transfer to the high bar was.  She was nearly higher than the bar!! Whoot!

Her beam was steady, but not greatly impressive.  I am not a fan of nervous little turns.  And how much of a stickler is Tasha about connections?!  She always has been!  I think its because she performed in a particularly stickly period of beam herself!  Nice high beam dismount from Olivia.  There were alot of unecessarily timid landings in that routine but I am sure that could be attributed to the sore hamstring they were talking about during the commentary.


Ooh, and Olivia's floor.  Do the small opening movements remind you of another gymnast, someone who is already a floor star at UCLA perhaps?  Huh?  Huh? Think about it? 
No wonder they want her!

Wicked, nicely paced tumbling, fabulous leg up full turn and really, really intriguing pacing to her choreography.  What an interesting routine!  And for the most part, she just has enough dance presence to command it. It will come with age.



And wow, she dropped that Arabian out of the sky!  Beeyootiful!  Watch and gasp!

So anyway, whatever elite business Olivia Courtney does from now on, I welcome her, and hope she does great at nationals too.  But mostly, I am really looking forward to seeing her at UCLA.  She is just the right kind of gymnasts they need.  Val will whip her dance into shape.  Her tumbling is well and truly in place.  She will be a great addition to bars and between she and Zam they can clean up on vault! I don't how good she is on beam when she is at her best, but doesn't matter.  UCLA has some great beam workers (and Peszek is a'coming!!!!) already.

And golly gosh Rebecca Bross has  lovely bar work for a body shape you wouldn't necessarily expect it from?  Lovely handstands.  The only real form break was the leg separation on the pak.  
Also, nice to see Valeri looks just as stern around all his gymnasts!



Okay, so it was great to see Nastia back on beam.  She carries that teeny bit of weight she has gained since the Olympics fairly easily, and is still looking lithe and composed.  Her form wasn't quite so clean.  Her leg-up full turn was a disgrace to her brand of gymnastics and she lacked her usual amplitude on her leaps, but if one thing still looked completely gorgeous, it was her Onodi.  Simply lovely.



 As they say, it's hard to get to the top, staying there is even harder!  Especially given we are talking about the sport with probably some of the most fleeting careers EVER.  The commentators were talking about wether Nastia gets nervous or not. I bet she was a bit nervous going in to this meet.  
In fact, Nastia is such an athlete, that I think there is no way she wouldn't.  She cares too much about how she performs.   
Also, did anyone else find that sparkly WOGA leo was a little bit distracting?



Okay, so before I talk about Sabrina Vega's amazing tumbling, or the wonderful height of her leaps or the fact that her choreographers crafted a fairly elegant floor routine around a girl who doesn't quite have the maturity or grace to pull off better dance, can I just say how completely SICK I am of Spanish guitar music!!!! Gawd.  I know its been used beautifully before, but it just makes me wanna die of boredom these days.  Skip it peeps.  Please.  Anyway, so Vega has great tumbling, high leaps and decent chorey yada yada yada.  She just needs, like a lot of young gymnasts, even the ones who can pull of lovely floor work, to be in her routine, if you know what I mean.  But this girl is gonna be great.  

As for Ivana Hong's new floor.  I really, really like the music for a start.  What I enjoy most about Ivana's floor work, though, is that although she has never actually been much of a dancer, she finds lovely, extended lyrical shapes to create with her body, making her routine look elegant and graceful anyway.  I also like the fact that she is confident to do floor to a piece of music that is relatively thin.  Some girls try to drown out their lack of floor prowess with loud, full-on music and super fast choreography.



Ivana Hong- Ever elegant.  Ever interesting.

As for the discussion about the new code penalising gymnasts for the lunge step at the end of the floor pass- I say BRING IT ON!! Fair's fair.  I've never been that comfortable with that rule, as too many gymnasts try and fake a lunge when its is clearly a stumble.  Too much grey area for me. 
You know what?  There's no way Milosovici would have got that floor ten in '92 if it hadn't been for that allowance, that is for sure.



And gosh, I nearly didn't recognise Sam Peszek!  She looks so different.  Not necessarily older, but different!  
I think it is because she looks like a college gymnast already.  She kind of reminds me of a Georgia or Utah girl.  But I am really glad she is coming to UCLA, especially as she is bringing her killer beam skills.  
I was watching her old one from Nats or trials  last year and I had just forgotten how immense and amazing her tricks are.  It made me really, really admire her all over again.  
At the Classic her two standing somis at the beginning are as great-as usual.  Bit lower on the back pike than in the past, but whose gonna get too upset when she is doing what she is doing?  
She reminds me of another UCLA gymnast, Hopfner-Hibbs, in her great ability to recover from a wobble quickly.  
Pity about the fall, cos it coulda been grand.

Also, as shallowness must always prevail, I am diggin' that leo. 
(Oh yeah and I've figured it out.  It's the hair.  She has college hair!  Gym Dogs hair to be precise.  She looks like she let Cassidy McCombs get to her with the hair straightener!  Not an insult or anything.  i think she looks nice.)




Proving she can still knock out a powerful vault too!



Saturday, July 25, 2009

Here Come.....

THE YOUNG 'UNS!!!

So, while everyone Stateside is probably eyeing off the Covergirls at the Classic this weekend, I am gonna devote a little time to the EYOF competitors (how was that for a word play huh?  Eye off- EYOF?  Geez I am HIL-arious!

While this little old Australian, who can't access the live streaming provided by USAG, awaits news and vids of the U.S Classic, I thought I would take a little time to study the up and coming European youngsters who competed this week at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Tampere.  

The line-up was littered with some very familiar young gymnastics upstarts as well as some new blood who will surely be gracing us with their gymnastics presences over the next few years.

Here is a little bit about each of the top 10 place-getters in the all-around competition, which was held last wednesday (I think!)

1. Viktoria Komova (Russia)


Young Miss Komova has been seen around the youth gymnastics traps a fair bit of late. In Tampere Komova took the AA with a p 1.5 margin over her nearest competitor,  Racea. Komova is coming off a series of successful competitions last year. She competed at the WOGA classic where she came third, outscored senior Goryanova to take the junior AA trophy at the Mikhail Voronin Cup and placed third at the Pacific Rim Championships.  It seems this year she is not letting up either.  She is the daughter of well-loved and well-talented Soviet gymnast Vera Kolesnikova. Viktoria is outrageously talented and capable of BIG tricks. Her floor mount is a one-and-a-half-twist to a double Arabian!!!  Watch this vid to see it in action of EYOF.  Love her leg up turn too.  I always appreciate it when a gymnast has enough left in her to lift the leg slightly at the end as a sort of flourish to the end of it.


2. Amelia Racea (Romania)


Racea is another junior we are already very come to know, and in my case love for her competitive spirit.  Among the new batch of Romanian youngster who were moved to Deva to train with the seniors this year, Amelia is considered to have great potential by Forminte.  Amelia might be somewhat disappointed with her second place as this little tiger told Prosport that she planned on taking out first place in Tampere, but she still scored reasonably well and, in true Romanian form, had the highest balance beam score by far. Like Komova, she has had a very successful junior career thus far.  She replaced Ana-marie Tamirjan to compete at the American Cup this year where she placed fifth.  She took first place at the Romanian International this year and came second on vault and floor. She won first place at the Trofeo Lugano this year too.  She plans on upgrades on vault and bars this year. Below is her performing on floor in Tampere.  She is definitely stronger on beam (no vid that I could find) but she still shows off the potential of her massive talent.





3. Celine van Gerner (Netherlands)


The Dutch youngster claimed third place, only .600 points behind Racea.  Her highest scoring event was vault with a 14.200 in AA, and she placed third on beam in EF.  Celine palced fourth in Lugano this year and was Dutch Champion on bars and floor and placed second on vault.  Celine started gymnastics when she was seven and her favorite apparatus is floor. She is not a terribly charismatic floor worker, but has lovely high tumbling and dynamics leaps and a nice finish to the routine.  Her favorite gymnast is Nastia Liukin. Watch the video here to see her perform a fairly clean vault with plenty of height and distance.  She is deceptively tough.




4. Violetta Malikova (Russia)


The very lithe and graceful Violetta had a rough beam set which dropped her into fourth place at the EYOF.  Her highest score was on vault where she received a 14.400. She won the floor in the EF.  Violetta is part of a large batch of upcoming Russian gymnasts.  I imagine competition between the young Ruskies will be fierce over the next few years!  I first saw Violetta perform in a Youtube video that captured her performing her floor routine in Moscow last year.  While the tumbling was not terribly difficult, she is a truly lovely dancer and has some rather wonderful extension moves throughout the exercise to some rather grandiose string music!  A few people had commented that she reminded them of a young Lysenko.  Maybe it is just the curly ponytail, but she also has an air of Lysenko's lovely composure to her performances.

5.  Naoual Ouazzani Chahdi (Netherlands)


This other young talented gymnast, with a mouthful of a name, claimed fifth place.  Her highest score was on vault where she received a 14.200.  She also placed third on vault in EFs. Chahdi was a 2006 and 2007 junior Dutch Champion. She placed 7th on bars at the junior Euros last year.  At the Pre-Olympic youth Cup, she scored a 14.700 for her Yurchenko 1 and 1/2. She likes floor and vault best and her hero is Verona Van De Leur.  She also loves to swim and read. Her favorite subjects at school are math and french. Here is a video of her performing two vaults at the 2009 FinGym event.  The first vault isn'tgreat-not much distance from the horse.  Her second was much cleaner but she still lacked distance.





6. Raluca Haidu (Romania)


The diminutive Raluca Haidu has been coming on strong in the Romanian gymnastics scene recently.  She won floor at the Romanian Internationals with a score of 14.800.  Not surprising considering she is a lovely little dancer and tumbler.  She also came third all-around at the Spain versus Romania meet and scored well on floor and vault. Her floor routine (see below) is almost unbearably cutesy, but she can pull it off because she is so tiny and cute.  Her first split leap was UNBELIEVABLE- unfortunately followed by not such a great one! I popped her beam routine in after it just because I seriously loving the lovely shape variations being made on an old school mount.  Gorgeous leaps.  Lovin' her switch side a whole lot.




7. Andrea Foti (Italy)


Italian gymnast Andrea Foti received her highest AA score on beam, where she got a 13.950. Last year at the Lervercusen Cup, Italy was beaten by the Germans, apparently after a particularly disastrous bars set, and Foti was their highest placed gymnast in the AA with fourth place.  She performed a pretty cool little floor routine to some old school big band music that had a hint of Tasha Schwikert's elite period sauce!  At EYOF, she competes less interesting choreography, and is still stumbling out of her double pikes. 
Andrea also placed second in vault, and third in floor at the Italian Nationals this year.  There did, however, seem to only be two vault competitors! Andrea was born in 1995.

8. Laura Svilpaite (Lithuania)

You have to admit, its pretty exciting to see a young Lithuanian gymnast doing so well in international competition.  She had a great bars score in the EYOF field, getting a 14.300 in the AA, but had a low execution score in EF bringing her down to fifth place.  Laura first caught a bit of attention when she won the junior division at the WoGA Classic and showed off wonderful form and lovely grace and execution and equalled senior division winner, Christy Tanella's AA score.  She also outscored everyone on bars at WOGA, showing off skills such as a Stalder-full to Tkatchev, pak salto and a double layout dismount.  She is considered to be something of a sensation among the juniors.

9. Julie Croket (Belgium)


Julie and her sister, Stephanie have both been training in Belgian gymnastics since they were little girls and both have experienced much success.  Julie's highest score at the EYOF was a 14.100 on vault.  As an elite junior for Belgium, Julie had garnered great scores on vault and floor, particularly in one meet in 2007 where she received a 14.800 for her vaulting and a 14.830 on floor at the Flemish Championship.  Gifted with a small, powerful physique and a cheeky smile, Julie performed a very engaging and mischievous floor routine with an impressively high double pike dismount in 2007.  She came in third of the junior elites at the Championships. At the junior Euros last year she came eighth on vault. I don't know if she used the same routine at EYOF.  She trains 33 hours a week.

10. Jennifer Pinches (Great Britain)


Jennifer Pinches highest AA score was a 13.850 on vault. Young Jennifer is a training partner is none other than Beth Tweddle, has been rising steadily up the ranks in British Gymnastics.  She was a British junior champion in 2004, meaning she got to go to a training camp at Cetate Deva. She also, last year, got to go to Beijing as a member of the  2012 Ambition delegation. After a 2005-6 year plagued by injuries, Jennifer and her family relocated for her father's job and she began training at the famous Liverpool club where she has begun to improve again. 
Jennifer is known as Jem for the first letters of each of her given names, Jennifer, Elizabeth Mary.  This year, among her repertoire of skills, Jennifer has been learning a full-twisting tuck from standing on beam. She is also a rather lithe and elegant floor work with a pretty mean Arabian on her!  Check out the vid below.  She did her best to reign in the landing on that first pass too! She was fourth at the 2008 British Championships and nabbed a medal in every single event.



Surprisingly, there are quite a few good vaulters in this batch. Thank heavens! Vault has been a little bleak of late.




Thursday, July 23, 2009

SAY WHAT?!!!

Svetlana:  Zee, I tell you, zay were verry tasteful.  Glamour shots only.


Pavs: Green light. Red light. Vot is ze difference? Is time vor a dreenk.


Steli: Pavs said we should try it.  She said it would help us perform.


Steli:  And that's when I convinced her to have Pav's special concentrated energy "drink".  And that's when she got up on the beam.  And that's her having a little lie down under it.


I know, I know, it's all about blood, sweat and tears, but how did I end up cleaning it all up?


Mariana: You eediot! You fool!  I zed turn right at ze intersection!  Zis eez not a stadium!  Zees eez a beelding site! 


Simona: So, where are our coaches?
Maria: Dunno.  Last time I saw them they were right behind the bus.
Simona: What are we gonna do without coaches?
Maria: I'll be coach.
Simona: Um, okay.
Maria: Simona, get up there and do your beam routine.  You fall and you do 800 squat jumps before bed tonight, okay?
Simona: You're really good at this!


Bridget: If I get out of this alive, everything is going to be okay.  Really.


Courtney: Oh you think you're so good with your hip hop, McCool.  Well I got the funky Ostrich going on!


McCool: You're talking to me?  Seriously?  You are telling me to bring it.  Me?  

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hi!!! Miss Me?



SOME CATCHING UP!

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.