Monday, November 30, 2009

HOLY HELL....

Thanks so much to Chris, who sent me an email to tell me to take a look at this particular vid.  As Chris pointed out, this little girl, Anastasia Grishina, would have won the beam title at this year at the London World Championships.  How did the Russians get so deep all of a sudden?  Before this past few years there seemed to be a dearth of uninjured youth, a handful of old, too-injured gymnasts who were ready to put themselves out to pasture and just a few shining talents.  Now it seems there is talent rising up the youth ranks at every age level.
She has lovely long legs (for a shorty!), pretty form, nice connections, a much-loved (by me) illusion turn and an amazing oversplit!


or watch it HERE

Also, watch her 2009 floor routine (which i like SO much better than her 2008 one). Great music and some very interesting dance moves. Tumbling pretty basic, but she has a talent for twisting and spinning in any direction!


Or watch it HERE

 Anastasia is thirteen.  Like small Japanese wonder Murakami Mai, let's hope they look after her.

Again, thanks Chris!


*****

ANA-MARIA TAMIRJAN...

Poor old Anamaria Tamirjan. According to Prosport Anamaria will undergo two different forms of knee surgery in the next ten days.  And to make things worse, she will have one operation on each knee.  The right knee is having arthroscopy to investigate the problem with her meniscus, while she will have a cyst that surfaced in right knee after Stuttgart in 2007 removed.  Nicolae Forminte assured reporters that while recovery may be difficult and she will be in pain for the next while, she should be able to start training again early next year.



(pic from Prosport)

The Couch Gymnast wishes her all the best.


*****

ON MY ACADEMIC TRAVELS......

I have just begun my Phd studying how the growth of the internet has provided more coverage of women's sport (such as us gymnastics bloggers!)

I was, because I have to, reading a bit of a feminist rave about women's sports costumes by Jennifer Hargreaves in Sporting females.
 
"Sportswear makes statements about femaleness and enhances sexuality; it both reveals the body and conceals the body, promoting an awareness of the relationship between being dressed and being undressed. For example, elasticated body stockings and lycra leggings provide a dynamic image with an explicit focus on body definition and no clear distinction between body and material.  Clinging clothes highlight sexuality and eroticism as do particular designs- leotards cut high above the thigh, and skin coloured inserts between the breasts, for example"

I understand that sports can be quite sexist, and that often female athletes are  treated like sex objects in the media.  A perfect example is the equal amount of attention paid in internet sites to Alicia Sacramone's figure as it was to her performance during and after Beijing.

Gymnastics has oft been dismissed by academics as an outdated, un-feminist and too  'gender appropriate' sport.  Discussions of leotard (and other similar practice wear) certainly feeds that.

But there is one thing Hargreaves is overlooking here.  A leotard is not just a piece of clothing worn while prancing around the floor mat being coquettish, it is also a piece of technology.

She complains that there is no clear distinction between body and material.  True.  This isn't simply to sexualize the body.  Gymnastics is, more than most sports, one where it the body is judged not just on what it is doing or how fast or how far it is doing it, but how it is doing it.  And, of course, that it is doing it in perfectly prescriptive ways.  The body must be visible to those who judge it.  The form-fitting leotard caters for that.


(this will never work!!)
(Pic by Sing Lo )

As for the high-cut leotard, it has always been my understanding that leotards began to be cut higher not to show off more of the body, but to give more length to the leg, which gives an air of greater extension and amplitude. I personally liked the low cut ones because the gymnasts backsides stayed inside their leotards for whole competitions at a time, but I understand it is about something else.


(low-cut leg and lower-cut decolletage- old school style!)
(pic by Tom Theobald)

The stocking inserts in between the breast? Well, she may just be right about that!  Besides, it is a god awful trend that has hopefully passed us by, and is now safely buried at the bottom of the Ukrainian national team's dress-up box for play days!


(Ugh)
(pic from gymbox )


What I do think is strange though, is that while the leg holes on leotards have become more and more high cut, that often, the neckline has gone up.  Why is that? Can anyone tell me?
I find it particularly strange also, because it seems to restrict the gymnasts in that I have, on occasion seen them undo the neck at the back to perform bars.  That seems strange.



(An Everest high neck- pic from gymbox )



*****

Je t' adore!!!

I know the tumbling is questionable, as is at least one of the leaps, especially for a Soviet gymnast, but still, there are a few reasons why I still adore this routine of Irina Viatinina's;


Or watch it HERE

1.  The music.  I love it (except for a tiny part in the middle).  It's dramatic and BIG!
2.  The handstand pirouette with one leg bent.  Very cool.
3.  But most of all, it's about the arms.  Those beautiful arms.  I'm talking particularly about the section from 10 seconds to thirty seconds.  That segment of choreography is gorgeous.  Classic and a teeny bit avante garde at the same time.  And the way her arms flow through the moves is exquisite.


sigh


******

Friday, November 27, 2009

JAPAN VS AUST DAY 1 RESULTS


(a defeat worse than wearing 'those' outfits!)

So, it looks like the Aussie girls got a bit of a whooping tonight from the Japanese team.  Final

scores were:

JAPAN  V57.050   UB55.00    BB57.150   FX52.550   TOTAL: 221.750

AUST    V53.800  UB52.550  BB53.400    FX53.025   TOTAL: 212.775



sad face.

Top 5 AA placings during team contest were;

Mitchell 55.775
Shintake 55.325
Oshima 55.200
Tanaka 52.00
Bonora 51.800

happier face.



*****

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DEVA DOWN WITH FLU



(photo from prosport)

So, it seems Deva is down with the flu.  According to Prosport, 16 of the (non- gymnastics) students of the high school at Deva have contracted a new flu virus as well as some citizens of Huneadora, the area where Deva is situated.  Most of the high school students are in quarantine, while a couple of victims are in hospital.
None of the gymnasts have come down with it so far.  Classes have been cancelled, though the girls study seperately from the main school population, until further notice.  Bet the girls are real sorry about that.

*****

AUSTRALIA VS JAPAN!



(Koko says "it's on beeyatches!")


If I was the naughty, skiving type, I'd take off work and get on a train to Canberra this weekend for the Japan vs Australia showdown.

For starters WHY OH WHY must they have a competition as great as this in Canberra???!!!
I know that, like, the Australian Institute of sport is there and it's, like, the capital city of Australia, but NO ONE GOES THERE for freaks sakes!! It's boring and brown.  And so many of our greatest gymnasts are coming from WAIS or Victoria right now anyways!  At least if it was in Western Australia it would be so out of reach it might as well be in Japan.  But Canberra, so close, so stupidly far away.

Okay, tantrum over.  For those who do live in Canberra, which I am sure is very nice if you live there, and for those traveling there, I hope you have a great time.  It should be an excellent meet. Not jealous at all.

For starters, it should be great to see a rematch between Koko Tsurumi and Lauren Mitchell to see who is queen of the AA.  Lozza looked like she would easily have it over Tsurumi after the prelims in London, but a solid performance and a ridiculously clean final vault threw Koko into the bronze position in the finals.  Lauren Mitchell admitted, in a GA press release that having lost the bronze to Koko "gives me a bit of motivation to beat her in Canberra."




They are on pretty similar levels in their difficulty so it will be down to who is cleaner, more confident and doesn't trip over their feet (you never know, Afanesyeva did it in Milan.  Karpenko did it in Sydney!).

But for me, the real showdown is the team competition.  I have been harping on for a while about how Japan and Australia used to be more on par.  These days, it seems Japan really has the edge on us.  I think as a general rule, their gymnastics tends to be a little cleaner while difficulty levels are similar.

I remember when Gymnastics Australia used to invite Ukraine out here for meets because we were closest to them in standings and vying with them for team finals spots.  While Ukraine have generally dropped below us, it remains to be seen with Japan, who if anything, edged us out in Beijing. We were, however, mostly sans Dasha Joura and things may have been a little different if we'd had her stellar scores.

Australia won't be performing with the ideal team, I guess, with Morgan still out and Britt Greeley having just been pulled for  but it will be interesting and very telling to see just how much work there is to be done for both teams if they want to be competitive in team standings over the next few years in the London lead-up.


Sigh.  I  never, ever thought i would live to see the day when i wished i was in Canberra.



*****

"I'D LIKE TO THANK GOD, THE BEAM, AND MY MOTHER"




Yep, Lozza Mitchell was voted young sports performer of the year, and rightly so.  Hell did she perform!  Good on you to everyone who voted, as I certainly did (and for every other female sports person in the mix- it was my radical act of feminism for the year and besides, I didn't know who anyone else was!)

I hope she passed all the school exams the poor girl returned from London to deal with and is now having a good time, wallowing in the accolades that come with an award like this!  She deserves to rest on her laurels... at least after she whoops some Japanese butt!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

LITTLE DYNAMITE...

So, the gym world has been abuzz with the brilliance of little Murakami Mai, a tiny little gymnast from Japan who posesses all the difficulty of a junior Shawn Johnson and (on floor) all the polish of... well... someone far more graceful. 
She is thirteen, apparently, but looks far younger.  Mai has a dynamite little floor routine, with great music and wonderful  choreography.  It reminds me of the work of an old soviet routine, in the sense that even the gymnasts without an innate grace or maturity could still pull off a routine like that because they were so well trained in form and dance.  She is surprisingly elegant for someone so small.



Or HERE


I don't know much about the Japanese training system, except that their women have improved exponentially in the last few years.  I hope the powers-that-be are going to keep this little gem wrapped up in a little bit of cotton wool to prevent injury between now and 2012. 
Luckily, she is tiny enough and strong enough to perform these huge tricks, but i hope she doesn't grow too much!
A Youtube search should also turn up her beam routine, which is shaky but packed with tricks.


*****

Monday, November 23, 2009

COULD HAVE BEEN

She may have coached some amazing gymnasts while in the USA, but it is, as they say, hard to know if Armine Barutyan (Fong), given the chance, might have been a real Soviet champion.  If she'd been willing to change her name, move with her family from Armenia and do everything else the soviet government had expected of her, it is possible she could have.

But Armine had a strange, stowaway career.  She appeared in 1982, wowing judges and crowds in an Eastern Bloc tournament and beating out Romania's Simone Pauca, but then disappeared again until 1985 when she appeared to medals in a couple of prestigious european tournaments.  After being placed as merely an alternate on the Junior European team, she never really competed again.

Armine was known for having the best planche in the business, a triple back off bars, and a rumoured double layout beam dismount.  As the gymnastics Greats author claimed, like Olga Korbut, judges simply did not know what to do with her or her immense difficulty.

The Soviets didn't either.  She would not comply by coming to Moscow to train or Russifying her name to suit them.  It didn't matter what she could do.  Armine told a journalist that she once, after returned from a competition with a silver medal, the Russian coaches answered the question "who came second?" with "not one of us."

Sad. I just wish there was footage of that double back dismount.


or HERE


*****



Saturday, November 21, 2009

LISA SKINNER.....


(picture from Gymbox )

One of Aunt Joyce's recent posts reminded me of Lisa Skinner.....

One of Australia's most gifted gymnasts, Lisa attended a record three Olympic Games.  She retired a couple of times, but just kept on coming back to the sport!

Lisa provided one of Aussie gym fans first proudest Olympic moments, when she qualified to the Sydney 2000 floor finals.  For once, gymnastics took centre stage, as the usual television broadcast of Australian Olympic events, like repeats of the swimming finals or men's hockey were halted so the whole country could watch Lisa perform.

Unfortunately Lisa's routine, though terrific, was the only routine not worth a 10.0 start value ( a testament to how brilliantly she performed in the prelims)  and had a fall. She came eighth.  Still, the kooky, flamboyant routine, which demonstrated her amazing flexibility and talent for movement was one of the most memorable performances of the games.

Opinion always seemed to be somewhat divided wether much of Lisa Skinner's floor choreography was too outlandish to be great, or just plain wonderful.

What do you guys think?  Crazy or cool?

Me?  I just tend to think crazy cool!


Sydney Prelims)
(I'm with the person who commented on the 24-30 secs bit. HOT!)



Her 1996 Olympic Trials Prelim Routine
(someone commented on her 2000 routine how much she looks like Shayla Worley. Well, you can really see the resemblance at age fifteen.)
Or watch it HERE


Lisa performing in the Australia vs Spain in 1999
Or HERE

It's gymnasts like Lisa who make me pine for an Australian college sport system. Or at least wish despondently that she could have become a Bruin.

Of course she now works for Cirque De Soleil.  Apparently, she also designed some of Australia's national team leotards.

*****

FROM GYMNAST TO DOCTOR....



(pic from Standard )

The South East Standard newspaper reported this week on the first Australian female gymnast to give the WAIS program its great name in gymnastics in Australia.  This gymnast was Michelle Telfer, who competed on the national team with the first of Australia's great gymnasts, Monique Allen and Kylie Shadbolt.

It turns out Michelle is now working as a resident pediatrician at a Warnambool hospital, helping sick children get a better start in life.  It sounds like she had kept her past pretty much quiet until recently.

Michelle competed in gymnastics until she finished year twelve (senior year) when she began her medical study.  Born in 1974, she was discovered as a gymnastics talent, according to Wikipedia, by Liz Chetkovich at the age of seven. She went on to become Australia's National junior champion.

Michelle had a successful international career after this, competing in the 1989 World Gymnastics Championships, the 1990 Commonwealth Games and at the 1992 Barcelona Games.  At the Commonwealth Games she won a silver in the AA, as well as an individual bronze medal on bars, which wasthe very first international medal won by a WAIS gymnast.


She told journalist Mary Alexander; "It's a big psychological sport and it's all about performing under pressure, especially when you're standing on a beam that's ten centimeters wide and you've got 20 000 people watching you and you're only fifteen or sixteen at the time."

This early pressure stood Telfer in good stead for her career to come.  She told the Standard that she abandoned her initial leanings toward a career in sports medicine, though she admired the sports doctors she travelled with in the past.

"I like dealing with really sick kids.  You can make a real difference."  She said.


*****

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

LOOKING BACK: CHINA



(pic from Comaneci-salto )


I was just looking at the Aarhus 2006 results, as you do, trying remember who won silver and bronze in the AA (I'm starting to think I have very early-onset alzheimers!) and I realised that 2006 was a funny year for China.  They won the team event very convincingly.

But if it hadn't been for the brilliance of Cheng Fei, they would have had a shocking time individually.

For starters, there was not a single Chinese gymnast in the uneven bars finals, which is just plain weird.

And to make things even weirder, there was no Chinese medallist on beam (Zhang Nan came fourth.  In fact, two years in a row she came fourth on beam.  That musta sucked!)

And in the AA, the highest ranked AAer was Pang Panpan in 6th place (actually, that wasn't too bad).


(pic from Comaneci-salto )


And then their new superstar goes and wins all the leg events- the events China used to suck on!

Clearly, they were focussed on a team medal, but still it was kind of strange.

I guess it was just preparation for what was to come- a solid, impossible-to-beat team line up, newfound medal potential on floor and bars and the emergence of another individual superstar!

ONCE AGAIN...



Sorry about all this desperately seeking busines, but once again, the Couch Gymnast is seeking "Marcus" a regular commenter who seems to know lots about the code!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

DESPERATELY SEEKING.....



Also, while we are at it, are any of the gymgirls a la Triple Full blog, Mihaela, JW or Kristina reading this?  I would love to get into contact with you girls if I can too.  Can you also email me if you can?

*****

CALLING GIULYX14!!




The Couch Gymnast is looking for her reader who calls herself Giulyx14!  Giuly, can you email me if you read this?  I want to ask you something pertaining to Italian gymnastics.  Ta!
listaday@gmail.com

A SHORT ROMANIA REPORT



(photo from Gymbox)


Ana Porgras found her balance with her adjusted beam routine and took the gold in Stuttgart by a large margin over Ksenia Semonova and Germany's Maike Roll.  An injury prevented her from competing on floor.

This win has probably helped Ana's confidence since worlds.  She told Prosport earlier this week that her main focus now is on contributing the team.  This is not surprising considering next year is the beginning of qualifications for London 2012 and consolidating team line ups for the coming quad.  I expect Porgras will be a key memeber.

It will be interesting to see who remains from the previous quad.  As Porsport reported, Anamaria Tamirjan's injuries, hip pain and a cyst in her left knee, which was to be operated on shortly, have been further complicated by an injury to her right meniscus.  She told Prosport that she wants to coninue to fight for a podium place.

Safe to say Gabi Dragoi may drop by the wayside over the nextv couple of years, considering she was not initially selected for the Worlds line up.  It remains to be seen how and if Izbasa will be able to return to form.  If things go this way, we may see an entirely new team for London, with Ana Porgras as its old lady.  Wouldn't that be funny!

LARISSA MILLER INTERVIEW




(photo from Wynum Herald)


There is a short interview with Australian gymnast Larissa Miller up on the IG website at the moment.  Larissa did very well by making it to bars finals at the Worlds this year at her first major international event.  She talks about her experiences at world, her training and the changes she wants to make in her bars set.  Fairly interesting.

GYMNASTICS MADE EXAMPLE IN AUSTRALIAN SPORTS FUNDING DEBATES



Gymnastics some how found itself being used in a battle that is currently ensuing downunder over Australian sports funding in a recent ABC Sport article.  This battle has begun because, according to budget recommendations, there may be $108 million dollar extra to be used toward sport in Australia next year.  Now there is just the tricky question of where it will go. 

That gymnastics found itself mentioned at all is particularly surprising since gymnastics has barely rated a mention in sports debates over the last, well, two centuries since Australia was settled.

There has been a fair amount of debate on which way to focus funding for sport and on how it should be governed.  In one faction, led by a business man, David Crawford, who is responsible for a national review into soccer, there are those who believe that the greatest portion of funding should go to sports that attract mass participation such as football, soccer, surfing, swimming, tennis and cricket.  Crawford told press he believed that these sports "carried the national ethos" more and were practiced every day by the average Australian.  This group is described as believing that Olympic sports should be self-funded.

In the other faction , led by John Coates, a new board memeber of the IOC, are those who believe that the sports that have a lower participation rate, but continue to win medals for Australia on the world stage, such as rowing, water polo, diving, and of course, gymnastics, should still retain a good share of funding.
This is where gymnastics came in;

John Coates asked, "Who is to say Australia is not a dominant force in gymnastics in five years?  We won three medals in that sport in the recent World Championshsips.  Gymnastics doesn't rate a mention in Mr Crawford's list of popular sports."





This is a tricky debate. 

The self-funding option is quite out of the question.  According to this particular article, swimming is the only Olympic sport that comes close to self-funding.  Gymnastics would not have a hope in hell.  We do not have the sheer numbers of private gyms, staffed by ex-european coaches that theUnited Sttates does, nor the population from which to find a talent pool, and of course, for both these reasons, mass participation.  Unlike selffunded sports like AFL (one of our main football leagues), gymnastics could not get paying people through the door on a regular basis.

I do sincerely like the idea that sports that are practised on an everyday basis by Australians receives good funding.  That promotes general good health, fight our obesity problem as well as hopefully maintaining our international excellence in sport. But what scares me about that, is that nearly every sport mentioned by Crawford (swimming aside) is a male-dominated sport.  In fact the one other female sport that I believe women, or young girls participate in enmasse, netball, did not even rate a mention.

Also, Crawford argues that money was better spent on these participation sports because they were practised for a lifetime, rather than spend it on "a small group of elites who will remain at that level for just a few years."  Most elite sports are still practised for a long time, even if the elite competitive phase is short.  Gymnastics is probably the shortest, yes.  But that doesn't mean the gymnast stops.  Also, these elite athletes often become coaches, passing the sport on to more athletes.  They often still participate in the sport on one level or another for a lifetime.

Another pertinent aspect of the Olympic vs Everyday sport debate the article touches on is that Olympic success attracts participants to the sport.  This article cites a medal-winning Olympic rower who says participation has swelled since Beijing.  This is a great point.  We all know that international gymnastics would never have had the boom it did if the Munich games hadn't been televisied and the whole world wouldn't have had the chance to fall in love with Olga Korbut, and millions of girls want to be her!  Mary- Lou Retton had the same affect on the USA.  Beth Tweddle and Louis Smith and Daniel Keatings, by all reports lately are doing the same thing in the UK.  Without a continuance of funding, gymnasts like Lauren Mitchell and Prashanth Sellathurai won't be able to do this for kids in Australia.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this debate.  Obviously I hope funding stays in place for elite 'Olympic sports,' not just so gymnastics gets to keep trying to be competitive on a world scale, but so that the success it brings attracts greater numbers to the sport on an every day level.

Also, we Australians take great pride in our ability to rate so highly at the Olympics despite our fractional population and comparative lack of funding to the big powers we find ourselves amongst.  To me, this is as much a part of our "national ethos" as male-dominated sports like football, cricket and surfing.  Olympic success in gymnastic might give another reason for us to be proud.


*****

Monday, November 16, 2009

OOH YUMMY!

Oh I am glad I went on the college hunt today.  Just when I was beginning to wonder just how long we were going to have to wait to see more Bruins routines, Operation Peacock turns up!
So, those funny Bruins decided to dress up as the part while they performed their routines for Miss Val, adopting the costume of the character they dance.  I have to say, it's a bit of a relief after re-watching the Georgia floor routines.  I though I might like them a little better this time.  Hmm.  Maybe marginally.

Anyway, the Bruins look hilarious! And cute.The pictures are kind of fuzzy but you get the picture.  The first film is a series of pics of them followed by a little vid  In the second we actually get to see some of the routines which is exciting for all those who have been waiting, like me, to see what Miss Val has cooked up for this season. We especially get a good look at Vanessa Z's which looks like it's gonna be hella cheeky and fun. My internet is so crap right now I have only seen half of each and am still waiting for the rest of the vids to load.  You guys might see all of it before I do!!


Or watch it HERE



Or watch it HERE


*****

Sunday, November 15, 2009

THANKS AGAIN, MOSTEPANOVA FAN

Mostepanovafan has put up another great gymnastics guide on Youtube.  This time it is a guide to leaps and jump on floor.  Lovely to watch, and, as usual, very informative.


(or watch HERE)


The one thing that will strike you, is how very low the difficulty scores are for leaps and jumps.  No wonder no  we don't see much beauty or innovation in this part of the floor exercise.  The code simply does not make it worth it, does it?
I mean look at Pavs straddle jump full turn to front support.  It's worth a pissy (excuse my language but it makes me cross) B grading.  We are luck she bothered at all.  It's a fantastic looking move and gets nothing.

Also, bring back the butterfly (Dobre does it in this montage).  It's so, so pretty.  And I love me a tour jete too, and the one into ring Maloney does.  Very balletic.  I kind of love these turning cat leaps Hypolito and Ban did too and Zammos wolf jump into front support.  Very Cool.

Question, does that leap, I am fairly sure it is called a cabriole, that Nastia did in her floor routine, a leap I loved soooo much (in fact it was my favorite thing she did) rate in the code of points?  Or was it just for some pretty?

*****

THE CASE OF BRITISH GYMNASTICS.....




You have to wonder what will happen to British gymnastics now.  Beth Tweddle Worlds gold has done a lot, it seems by the media reaction, to lift gymnastics' profile, but is it enough to bring more money to the sport?  I hope so.
.
A recent Guardian article by Anna Kessel spoke of the incremental rise in funding since Louis Smith's Olympic gold last yeat.  She also mentioned that at the bottom end of gymnastics, where the kids do club gymnastics, the situation is far more dire.

Apparently gyms like Huntingdon have huge waiting lists.  Huntingdon's is supposed to have up to a four year waiting period before some kids can see inside of a club.  But then, Huntingdon's has a track record for producing great elites.  I wonder if similar clubs down the road have the same problem?  The problem is, that these gym are probably far less equipped to produce well-trained gymnasts, and, I am guessing, lack the funding to do anything about it.

It's funny, because the thing that always struck me about British gymnastics was that I knew they had a very high participation rate in gymnastics, and that it is a very popular sport over there, but somehow, the talent pool at the elite level was never that great.  But that is probably more to do with funding than talent.

Obviously things has changed quite a bit in recent year.  The men have made themselves know and Tweds is no longer a lone star, but a star among a team of talented gymnasts.  And this is great.  I hope that funding is increased to get more of the kids who want to do gymnastic, wether for fun, or seriously.

And I have a question for my British readers.  I know that the USA received so many migrating Eastern European coaches and their Soviet-style training methods.  Did the same happen in Britain too?  Are there a lot of Eastern European coaches working in Britain?

*****

Saturday, November 14, 2009





Strictly Petra, who commented on the last post is right.  I wish the elites would take a leaf outta the Bruin books and get themselves some choreography that don't hurt to watch!!

I don't get it.  Sam knows the value of Miss Val.  So does Cassie.  Hell, Nastia adores Mis Val.  So why in hell doesn't Martha know about her?  Why on God's green earth don't they haul Miss Val into one of their ranch camps and put her to work whooping all those generally spazzy elite routines into shape?

The only problem would be where to start.  It'd be worse than triage in a packed E.R.  Who to start with?  I'm thinking it's Rebecca Bross..... but then there's Kayla Williams....

Friday, November 13, 2009

THIS. ROUTINE. IS. HOT.

Aunt Joyce called this a gymgasm.  Correct.  Finally, a choreographer and a gymnasts who understand that if you are going to do a floor routine to music as BIG and melodramatic as this, you got to have some personality under the hood and some damn fine choreography to sell it.
It took Anna Li and Miss Val to do the job.
And lordy it is exciting to see someone choreograph slow dance.  It seems these days everyone is afraid to let their gymnasts dance slowly- lest we see the flaws!
Anyway, I love this very much.  Can't wait to see what else is coming from the Bruins floor this year.


Or watch HERE

WATCH OUT: THE BRUINS ARE COMING!!!!




And we thought last years recruits made a freshman-heavy squad!  Looks like the Bruins are just gonna get younger and better now that Miss Val has officially signed on Sam and Olivia Courtney and Mattie Larson and Sydney Sawa!

That is a whole swag of talent right there!  Olivia Courtney is the fabulously under-rated winner of this year US Classic.  Miss Val described Olivia and her consistent gymnastics as a "quiet storm" for the Bruins.

Mattie, a Californian native who has reportedly gone to every Bruins home game since she could sit up in a chair, has been much-missed this year due to injury.  I am very happy we will be able to see her nimble and graceful form in college.

And Sydney Sawa, of course, is Canadian national champion, and represented Canada at the Worlds this year where she qualified 33rd in the AA.

I am also very much looking forward to Florida's line up over the next few years which will include one of my faves, Marissa King, as well as the excellent Mackenzie Caquatto and the dynamic Kytra Hunter.  Things are looking real good there!

Not only am I glad that UCLA and Florida (and most of the other major colleges) are attracting some fabulous gym stars because it will improve the team performances.  But I am also glad because getting big names like Peszek, and Georgia getting Worley, Utah, Lothrop etc, means that college gymnastics will only get more popular.  This is a good thing.


(pic from gymbox)
(three great NCAA signees in a row.  Count 'em!!)


The other reason is that I hope it will encourage as many gymnast who can financially afford to avoid taking sponsorship and paid work, will consider college gymnastics as a means to an education and a way to continue in gymnastics if they don't make it to an elite career.  They get to continue the sport they love and have worked for all their lives, while paving the way for the next phase of their career.

Not only does the option of a college career take away the intense pressure on making it in the elite world, but it is physically safer, promotes more well-rounded individuals through the college experience and above all makes gymnastics fun.

 I am also glad to see that we are continuing to see international gymnasts go into college sport too.  Hopefully, we will see more of the likes of Lopez, Bijak, Hopfner-Hibbs, King and Vivian.

*****

THE BEST OF AA

I know all I seem to be doing this week is posting vids, but Munchthesilivasfan has posted her latest montage, featuring her (correction!) favorite AA gymnasts of the decade.  Most of them are really interesting choices. I don't want to say too much and give it away, because that is half the fun of watching those montages- wondering what's next!
There are certainly a couple I wasn't hot on, but so many i agreed with!
Watch and tell me what you thought, or better yet, tell Munchthesilivasfan what you thought!




or watch it HERE


*****

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WARNING: BAD PUN AHEAD!!!

CHZECH THIS OUT!

Martina Polcrova the innovator of former Chzechoslovakia on bars.  This routine rocks! I adore the mount, with the bounce to swing backwards.  It must have been nearly impossible to maintain good leg form as she bounced.  I loved that she released from the low bar too AND that she obviously had great strength too.  And I aslo dug the hand hop to grip change.  Nice.  I'd seen her mount in a Mostepanovafan montage, but not the whole routine.


or watch HERE

 Thanks, Youtuber Chocdave, for reminding me about her.  I loved it all over again, and yes, she was the first woman to do a double arabian on floor.  If you want to check (hee!) more of her, be sure to look up Martine Polcrova, not Polchrova, as chocdave spells it, because there are more routines under that spelling.
Enjoy her melodramatic 1982 floor exercise wile you're there.


*****

Monday, November 9, 2009

Aly Raisman- A Few Thoughts...



1.  I can totally totally see why Aunt Joyce calls her Alicia II.  That vaulting and tumbling?  Total shades of Sacramone.

2.  Whoever commented on Youtube that Alexis just seems to walk into her tumbles- so true!  In fact she seems to just wander into them!  She looks like she could just be sauntering down the street, chuck a triple twist, and keep walking without blinking!

3.  I wonder, as she gets older, if, like Alicia, she will have to curb a tendency to over rotate when she gets nervous and excited, especially on her first passes because of all her power.  And also when she gets older and has to work a bit harder for those tumbles.  Lucky her tumbling is so big she doesn't take much of a run-up!!  Though maybe she won't have the same problems because she tumbles quite slowly.

4.  I don't know who does the chorey at Brestyan's but my, aren't they big fans of the butt shake- wide arms- butt  thrust dance series over there?!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"IF I WAS DOING THIS FOR FAME OR MONEY......"




Just another reason to appreciate Britain's new world floor champion, Beth Tweddle.  Not only has she come back at least as many times as original comeback kid Chellsie Memmel, proved age is no obstacle AND won a world championship on the apparatus she wasn't expected to win it on, but she has also proved she is not afraid to tell it like it is.

According to many news sources, when Beth took her WC gold, there was an expected media frenzy at the championships.  But things were a little quiet outside the o2.

Britain had many reasons to celebrate that weekend.  Not only had Britain whooped some serious gymnastics butt, but British driver Jenson Button won the Formula 1 world title.  Button of course, got plenty of accolades, much media attention (hell, even I heard about it) and the golden prize, a statement issued by British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, offering his congratulations to Jenson Button.

Beth  received no such congratulations.  And she wasn't afraid to say so to the media at large, drawing attention to the fact that gymnastics, as a less popular sport, and, dare I guess, one of the few sports dominated by the women's side, just didn't seem to get the attention it deserves in Britain.

Beth conceded to the press that Button's sport was much higher profile, and that compared to when she won her last world championship title, where there was a brief mention in the results page of the paper, with no picture, things had changed a lot.

But as for the congratulations from the Prime Minister?  "Maybe the letter is on its way.  Maybe it got lost in the post?" She joked to reporters.

Beth did concede that F1 was a far more popular sport, and that gymnastics though gymnastics is getting more high profile, it is still nowehere near the elevl of F1.  She also pointed out that Jenson Button would have earned far more than Beth will ever earn for her gymnastics, and that it is hard to take.

She did tell journalist Donald McRae; "If I was doing this for fame or money, I would have retired a long time ago."  It is about her love for the sport.  But I am sure the lack of attention to gymnastics irks her from time to time, just as it does we the fans.

She was quick to assure reporters; "I don't really mind.  I'm very happy."

Wether Beth ever actually got that congratulations from the Prime Minister is not as important to me as the fact that Beth wasn't afraid to point out the discrepancy in the treatment of a Worlds champion in a popular male dominated sport and the world champion in a less high-profile women-dominated sport.  Good on her.

I understand that often gymnasts are too young, too closeted in the world of gymnastics to actually understand or speak out about the politics of our sport, but Beth is an adult, and a fiesty intelligent one at that.  I am so glad she is willing to apply that plucky spirit she uses in her gymnastics to the advancement of her sport as well.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

GEORGIA MAY HAVE CHELSEA DAVIS...




But we (UCLA) have Cassie Whitcomb!  Glad to hear Cassie has verbally commited to the UCLA program.  She is a terrific gymnast.  It was sad to see her so overlooked in the Worlds selection process, given that she might have made bars finals.
I am excited to hear that Chelsea Davis committed to college full stop and I hope she gets to perform a lot for the Georgia team.
I am also excited to hear Amber Trani is finally good and ready to begin, officially, her Georgia career.  She was a lovely gymnast before her inury.
And here's hoping Mattie Larson puts off the acting dreams for a few years and commits to UCLA.


*****

WORLDS TV COVERAGE: SOME THOUGHTS (READ: RANT!)

Oh bless, bless, bless the British commentators.  I do love them.  Look at how they analysed each specific vault, discussed varying techniques, honestly debated scores.  It was interesting.  It was honest.  It was educational.  They speak like coaches, as well as commentators.  It was NOT the great big cliched sound and fury signifying absolutely nothing we have come to expect from some other commentators whose names I will not mention.
It's amazing how they talk in a relaxed, slow way, even joking sometimes, and still manage cover so much, while others yap and yip and never stop but manage to say very little at all.


(Christine Still)

And they don't go on talking about other gymnasts while a new gymnast whom they might not be as familiar with is performing.  They give every gymnast, no matter how big her chances of a medal,  no matter where she comes from, her due.

Sure, they are biassed and excitable when there is a Brit gymnast up, but not at the cost of the others.  Even though Christine clearly wanted Beth to win floor, she still insisted Porgras was her favorite for elegance, and really admired Lauren's dance.

And I really, really hope Larissa Miller gets to here how admiring they were of her bar work.

I know they make mistakes too, like Mitch saying Larissa narrowly missed out on an AA medal the day before, but at least he actually remembered that Australia used to have a great bars reputation.  Some commentators would still be hard pressed to name more than one Australian gymnast before this past quad!

And I just love how excited they get about the gymnastics- not just the sob stories, the dramas, the rivalries, though those are fun.  They love the gymnastics, the moves, the techniques of moving and connecting skills.  Look at how they were going off about Bross's "body discipline"  and Bridget's "strength"  and Ana's stoops?!

It was just sooooo refreshing to listen to.


Koko Tsurumi is so dang cute, and the funny thing is, she look exactly what my Japanese friends, a married couple, Atsu and Yuki's kid would look like if they had a little girl.  Makes me laugh!  And she and He Kexin's little medal winning love-in was really cute.

Speaking of He Kexin, she kind of reminds me of an airplane (oh just go with my whimsical metaphors will you?!)  When she is in the air she glides perfectly, as if she belongs there, as if she should always be in the air. But when she is on the ground she is kind of clumsy and awkward and needs a bit of help moving along.  She was kind of tripping off the podium, sideways hugging Yilin and nearly backing into a coach after her routine. It's completely adorable!

That was a really nice interview they did with Nadia Comaneci, and the fact she gave Ana Porgras a little pep talk before beam was quite sweet too.


(or watch it HERE)

I also have to say, that the one thing I really noticed about the Romanians, particularly Forminte, is what good care he took of little Porgras.  He was always by her side.  Just look at how he is looking at her during this clip, all fatherly and proud and 'how exciting is that you are meeting Nadia?'
 I mean, they seem to take care of all the other girls too.  The Romanians have such a family like vibe about them.  Not lovey- dovey, but just a practical, healthy family dynamic that probably comes from living together all year round.




Anyway, as I was saying,  the other girls have been out to major comps before and are old hands.  But Porgras is almost ridiculously new to the game.  Her third competition.  I saw Ana surrounded by girls getting autographs one night, maybe after qualifications.  It was getting late, and they were leaving.  Anyway, Forminte let her sign a bunch of autographs, but then told the girls no more, saying "it is too much".  He knew she was getting overwhelmed and just seemed to want to protect her.

Then I noticed, during the floor final, when Ortiz was hurt, he was kind of shielding her from watching what was happening.  He seems happy to let her just stay the child she is, which is more than I can say for Belu and Bitang whose baby gymnasts looked like careworn war widows by the time they'd made it onto the senior national team.




She is just the baby of this family and I am so glad they seem to be letting her mature in her own time.

What else? Oh, vault finals.  Another reason to love Elsa Garcia, aside from the fact she is funny.  When she congratulated Kayla Williams, hugged her and said something nice, but actually made eye contact while she did it.  I think this is one of the reasons I hate the whole huggy thing.  Most of the girls don't even look at each other when they are doing it.  It seems so in-genuine. But maybe its just the whole awkward teenage thing.


(from gymbox )

I was really interested to hear Beth Tweddle say that Amanda Kirby decided to give her the day off before floor finals.  I'd be really interested to know more about their dynamic as athlete and coach, considering Beth is basically an adult, but yet they have been together since she was little so they totally have the coach/pupil relationship in place.  Anyways, it was nice of her to give Beth the day off.  And it worked!!

I didn't see Peggy Liddick put Lauren Mitchell's hand on her heart after she came off the beam podium, as if to say "feel my heart beating madly!"  Cute!


(Peggy and Lozza- from Gymnastics Australia's Worlds Album )

Cha Yong Hwa's bar routine seriously rocks my world.  It is really cool.  And she hit a perfect handstand out of that squat dislocate thingy!!  I love how she was hooting and talking after her routine, but her coach looked really, really cross.





Who is the Japanese coach and where does he come from?  He doesn't look entirely Japanese to me.  Which one of you Japan fans can tell me something about him?





That's all for now!


*****

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WORLDS ALBUM 4: THE LAUGHS


I am really sorry I took a photo of you looking like this, Peggy.  It might have been just after you heard what Martha K said about your beam difficulty scores.  Comfort yourself in knowing your photo isn't as bad as the one I took of....


Ivana Hong after beam!


This moment made me laugh because Kayla was sooo overwhelmed after vaulting so well, that even though she'd already hugged him and then stood there a while, she turned back and clung to him for dear life for a minute because, it seemed she just didn't know what else to do!  Seriously sweet.  To me, Kayla won the US's most well-earned medal for the women.  She was consistently brilliant on vault.



I'm sure she's not actually praying she stays on, but it sure looks like it!




This one made me laugh too, because Anamaria is still trying to play it all cool after her beam fall though she is clearly crying, the very reason Forminte is comforting her.  Poor Ana!



I really, really wish this photo had turned out better- the double coach/gymnast stare down!  The look on Porgras's face here would scare a gymnast twice her size.  But she's got nothin' on......



this crew!  How much does Koko Tsurumi look like a baby homegirl threatening to beat some Buffy's down right now!!!



And my personal favorite, Elsa' Garcia, winner of the 2009 Longines prize for elegance..... and her post face-plant hair malfunction!!!  What a good sport she is for laughing it off!

WORLDS ALBUM 3: THE LEOTARDS

I didn't actually purposefully take many pictures of the various fashion highs and lows at Worlds.  There was way too much to focus on otherwise.  But I thought I'd talk about a few that turned up in my general photos, because it is always fun to pick on the leotard-ed!


Germany.  I've said it once, and I will say it again (though this is not even close to being the most offensive of their national choices)  the only way the Germans have a hope in hell of  producing a halfway attractive leotard is to step away, I said STEP AWAY from their flag colours!




I thought this Hong Kong leotard was pretty in its simplicity.  It also helped that the girl wearing it was one of the prettiest and elegant gymnasts I saw at qualifications!




Did I not say that Italy was bound to wear something retina-sizzinglingly special?  Well Prezziosa pulled out a number so special for beam finals that was so so wrong, it was almost right!



Now I know the butterfly is like, Ariella's signature, like pink is Nastia's.  And now that Kaeslin wins medals she is like, totally entitled to a signature tard, but seriously, butterflies are a nice idea, they are pretty creatures, so why are the butterfly leotards NOT PRETTY!?



I gotta say, if you insist on being patriotic in your leotard designs, you can still make it attractive, and Britain's women's leotard totally rocked this idea.  I thought that leotard was really classy with its refined and mature dark blue, its muted union jack, and the way it glittered but wasn't OTT with giant sequins.  It didn't GLARE the way the US's sometimes do.  Thumbs up, Brits.  Well done!!




The Russians haven't been using their flag colours anywhere near much as they did in Soviet times, but this is a nice one that does.  I like it.  In fact, Ana seemed to get to wear the best of the Russians leos.  Unlike this poor girl...



I have actually decided to personally blame the distraction caused by these heinous flouro shades for Kurbatova's fall from beam in AA.  Even if she wore this one during quals.  I still blame the resonance of this image which must have been burned into the back of her eyelids -as it was mine.





And yes, I have decided to blame Ksenia Semenova's entire Worlds performances on the trauma caused by having to don both sleeveless and purple in one leotard.



I really did end up liking what the Oz girls wore.  They looked totes classy.



And I am even glad Lozza wore our signature green and gold to snaffle yet another medal with that very, very hip floor routine (though someone has to adjust that weird shuffly bit in the middle where nothing happens for like, four precious seconds.  And also maybe Christine Still is right, a consideration of wether the cossack turn really works on floor should possibly be addressed, but I only say this because i think it is a seriously cool, contemporary and unique floor routine and i want it to be its best).




Romania should totally win some kind of award for utter consistency.  Not just in producing beam wunderkinds, but in producing endless harmless, but dull variations on the national flag colours.  But history shows that it is better they be boring than try something new.  I am sure Steliana Nistor would testify on that point after the heinous orange leo incident of 2003.



Now Blythe at The Examiner was quickly, and very rightfully all over Tina Erceg of Croatia's hilarious tuxedo-print leotard, which did indeed make me laugh and simultaneously pray that Erceg did indeed intend it as a joke.  But I also think this little number was a pretty fantastically horrible choice to rival Erceg's.  Second from the right if you're ugly-blind and need help spotting it!  It is so 1990's Ukraine!!