Thursday, December 31, 2009

TCG 2009 AWARDS PART 3....

THE MEMMEL AWARD

It might be hasty to call this category of award the Memmel award considering it is never entirely clear if Chellsie is going to make yet another comeback to her stellar gymnastics career.  But there has been no other gymnast quite like her for returning to the field when she is most needed to liven up the competition floor.

BEST COMEBACK KID



This one goes out to Youna Dufournet. Dufournet's was a star that rose quickly in the junior ranks of french gymnastics and the gym world was expectant as this fierce all-around talent entered the senior scene. Unfortunately, her performance at the Euros this year shocked most viewers as she seemed to be performing routines way to difficult for her growing body and her dual falls on floor were nothing less than frightening.  The demoralised gymnast mustered nothing higher than a fourth placing on bars in a competition that last year, some may have sworn she could have potential to star in. Yet the resilient Dufournet came to Worlds looking cleaner, sharper and much more able.  She was rewarded for this with a stellar fifth place in the all-around competition.  And there was little to compare to her smile of utter delight when she found herself with a bronze medal after two fabulous vaults.  Let's just hope Youna keeps on coming on.




Honourable Mentions

Though it was a fleeting comeback, the Italian gymnastics fans were overjoyed to see Vanessa Ferrari's brief return to gymnastics at the European Championships and positively (and very, very loudly) overjoyed to witness her floor silver.  Good news is that she is back in training on all four events and well on her way to a world military coup.

Rebecca Bross- though it seems this this fiercely talented kid hasn't been around long enough to qualify for a comeback awards, it must be remembered that she didn't just burst onto the scene this year, but came back from a lengthy injury to take US gymnastics by storm this year.  While she had some shaky competitions, her lack of preparation time may well have something to do with it.  To storm into the elite world, make a worlds team and come out with a silver AA medal after months of not competing- thats a comeback!! AND a testament to this kids toughness.


Elsa Garcia- this infectiously sweet gymnast mde a wonderful comeback to elite gymnastics at Worlds this year, making AA and vault finals despite missing Beijing after a long injury.  It was edifying (and somewhat ironic after her vault, er, mishap) that she was awarded the Longines elegance award.

In collegiate, nothing was less satisfying than Courtney McCool's return to competitive form after a lengthy foot injury this year.  Her return to the Gym Dogs line up on beam and bars (sadly not floor) played a big part in their steadily rising meet scores and, according to all and sundry, to their effervescent team spirit.  McCool was rewarded for her troubles with a 10.0 on beam late in the season.


******

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

TCG 2009 AWARDS PART 2....

THE CHUSOVITINA AWARD

This year has seen a lot of coming and going in the post-Olympic year.  But despite great losses, there have a few older gymnasts holding out, proving maturity is as valuable as youth in gymnastics. This one goes out to the fine wines and old cheeses of the sport.

This category could not begin without mentioning Oksana Chusovitina, who is and will always be a legend of world gymnastics.  The always-sunny, always-explosive family woman has proved time and time again, that adversity means nothing when she is standing at the end of the vault runway.  She. more than anyone showed how longevity can sometimes be found in a sport that comprises of quickly rising and quickly falling stars.

AND THE WINNER IS...




For me this year, though, the star of this category goes to Swis dynamite Ariella Kaeslin. Although always very much on the international elite radar, particularly in terms of vaulting, she, at this late strage of her career, chose this year to ripen into a fabulous gymnast. At the Europeans in Milan, she not only vaulted everyone out of the competition to take the title, she also showed her gathering all-around strength by taking the bronze in the AA. She continued this run by taking a vault silver in the competitive World Championshsips field behind an indomitable newcomer, meanwhiole exhibiting great power and solid technique.  Let's hope she sticks around.


Honourable Mentions


Beth Tweddle is a prime example. Now a grown woman, well into her tertiery studies, Beth proved that with safe training and much determination and an ability to relax and look beyond bad competition experiences, she can still out-tumble those much younger and much less-injured.

Jana Komorskova is still proving her mettle, rocking vault and beam at this year's World Cup final in Osijek.  She is strong and vital and always ready to compete.

And the good news for next year is that many more older gymnasts are planning their competitive comebacks.

Alicia Sacramone has delighted fans all over with claims that she will be heading back to the gym once again.

Lu Shanzen has kept us happy by telling International Gymnast magazine that Cheng Fei is still very much in the mix once her injuires are healed

News on the Russian front was that Pavlova was back to training and ready to compete, an event sadly stalled by the death of her father.  We hope to see her soon.


Gabrielle Wammes, despite having a small child has told journalists she is ready to get back to training.


*****

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

THE TCG 2009 AWARDS PART 1.....

Yes, that is right.  It is that time of the year again.  Time to take stock, look at the good and bad stuff in this year's world of gymnastics.  You know, I was looking at last year's (I can't believe it has been a year!) Year in Review and it reminded me how little I was expecting from this year after all the excitement and anticipation of an Olympic year.  But it was an exciting year.  One of the glass-half-full things I forget to look forward to in the year after an Olympics is the unexpectedness of events.  We see unexpected people on medal podiums.  We see new tricks. We see the rise of new juniors.  We see the comeback of old seniors.  And one of the most interesting things to me is the way we see how arbitrary the quad timing of gymnastics is when gymnasts who were in the mix during an Olympic year ripen and peak in that time after the Olympic because that is when they were ready.
I enjoyed this year in gymnastics.  I feel like there was less controversy, less negative stuff than there was last year in the lead-up to the Olympics.  And to me, there is nothing like seeing new gymnasts and new gymnastics to keep me excited about it. 

Anyway, this year I will be posting my review of 2009, part by part; in the form of;

THE COUCH GYMNAST 2009 AWARDS!!

Today's category is BEST NEW TALENT in three subsections.

Here goes!!



BEST NEW ELITE TALENT



Yawn if you like, but for me, this one goes out to Ana Porgras.  There has been few people around the gymnastics traps who have not delighted in this breath of fresh air from Romania.  Breaking all kinds of Deva tradition with her delicate dance and fragile grace, gymfans watched her emergence onto the world elite scene with pleasure and anticipation this year.  Her balletic style and innate elegance was perhaps as surprising a treat from a Romanian as Cheng Fei's emergence as a vaulting power from China was so many years ago. Hopefully, she will break away from a more recent tradition of badly-timed injuries for Romanians and be a gym star we can savour for some time.       

Honourable Mentions
Sui Lu- for her gorgeous floor work and worlds bronze.
Larissa Miller- a bars finals at her first major outing.
Yana Demyanchuk- though she couldn't sustain it, Yana prvoed Ukraine could still 'bring it'.     


BEST JUNIOR TALENT

Well there have been some incredible new talents emerge over the last year, but my personal choice has got to go to the gloriously difficult and beautiful gymnastics of the seemingly unshakeable Viktoriya Komova.  Not only does she have the tricks to win senior international elite competitions right now, she executes  them with and elegance and poise rarely found in older gymnasts let alone a junior on the rise. Here's hoping that she can see this talent through to her senior career- a prospect so exciting and anticipated it feels like it is never going to arrive!!

Honourable Mentions

The entire Rusian junior squad. There are so many up-and-comers in that batch that it would be too hard to pick!  Fingers crossed against any injury-apalooza and we have some good gymnastics coming our way!

Murukami Mai- this little imp is proving that the Japanese rise is no flash in the pan.

Kyla Ross cemented her spot at the top of the US junior pile by taking the US Classis and the junior nationals this year.  Though she was not up against wunderkind Scam Cup winner, Jordyn Wieber, she impressed with her surprisingly lovely lines and calm demeanour at both competitions.


BEST RIPENING OF TALENT

This year made this a surprisingly hard category, but this year's winner for me is most definitely Koko Tsurumi because not only has she delighted fans by ripening into the lovely and talented all-around gymnast she looked to become at Beijing last year, her rise this year has been synonymous with the overall rise in her nation's staus in woemn's elite gymnastics.  She has a gorgeous beam set, some mean bars work and proved, when pressed, she can pull of a medal-securing vault.  Hopefully the London Worlds is not the peak of her talent either.


Honourable Mentions

Lauren Mitchell- She proved her mettle so long ago at the 2007 Worlds by making it to beam finals.  Since then she has become known for her talent for beam and she was a sad loss from the Beijing beam final luijing final line-up this year.  She began this year with an extremely shaky, yet extremely competitive beam set that matured to become a silver medal-winning set at world, while at the same time proving her talent for floor and all-around too.

Bridget Sloan- It never ceases to surprise me how quickly things change in gymnastics.  But there was something kind of lovely about watching Bridget Sloan come from being the baby of the Beijing-bound pack to being the stoic senior who had the nouse and experience to hold out for the world crown in the London AA finals. proving once again, maturity, no matter how quickly it is gained, has a great deal of worth in a sport like this.  Though never having been a fan of her gymnastics style, I intensely admire Bridget's strength and talent and have enjoyed watching her grow into the old lady of the US team.

Ariella Kaeslin- but more will be said about her sudden gains later.


.*****

Monday, December 21, 2009

BRNGING UP BAMA...



The Alabama Crimson Tide  has always been counted as one of NCAA gymnastics' greatest teams.  It has won the fourth highest share of NCAA titles, with four under it's belt.  The most recent of these championship titles was in 2002.

Last year, however, it surged to number two spot behind Georgia at Championships after what must have been a dissapointing 6th place in 2008.  Their finish in 9th in 2007 was the lowest they have ever placed.
It seems that very brief dark spell is over again and it remains to see how they will show in this years newly  refurbished final four championships.

Anyway, to celebrate Bama's general greatness, I thought I would look at two of Bama's greatest performers over the decades.

First, we have Penney Hauschild, who surprised everyone, including herself by becoming  one of the Tides greatest ever performers during her time in the mid-eighties.  In fact, she won the NCAA all-around title in 1985 (the year after Megan Marsden did) and tied with Arizonan gymnast Jackie Brummer  for first the next year.  On top of this, she won a swag of honours, like the 1985 bars title, tying for the 1986 floor title and receiving the prestigious Honda award not once, but twice in her career.

Hauschild did not exactly impress in her first year at Bama.  She had been recruited after a strong showing as an elite, where she was ranked about 18th on a National Team that included Mary Lou Retton, Kathy Johnson and Julieanne MacNamara. Hausman had no realistic expectations of making an Olympic team and claimed she didn't really take gymnastics seriously until college.

In fact, it wasn't even until her  second year she made her mark.  After her Freshman year Sarah Patterson told Hauschild's parent that she wasn't taking her sport or academics seriously.  The Hauschild's slution was to put her to work in a factory for the summer, on a production line!  needless to say, Penney came back to training and school with renewed vigour.  She never looked back.

"She's the greatest individual champion we have had in our program" Sarah patterson told the Tuscaloosa News.


(Hauschild honoured as an adult by the Tide)

It seems Hauschild was a gamer.  According to her former team mates, she was never that great in practice, but when it came to competition, bam, she was on.  Val Kondos Smith has said she sees the same in UCLA recruit,  Monique De la Torre.  I wonder how frustrating this is for a coach, to never quite know where they stand with an athlete, except in competition.  It implies that there is alway risk in having them in the line up on a week to week basis.  I guess it would be worth it for a brilliant gymnast, but I wownder if Marta puts up with it with any National Team members.

Next we have Stephanie Wood, Alabama's premiere bars and beam specialist in the mid-nineties was most renowned for her unique and incredible style, particularly on beam.  She came to Alabama after watching two of her team mates back home be recruited by them.  After her first visit to the school, she cancelled her visits to the two other schools she planned trips to and never looked back.


She was hugely flexible, but ever-so-slightly awkward, making for an odd but captivating beam routine.  For those who have never seen it, it is well worth the watch.


Or HERE


 In 1999 she earned a perfect ten on beam.

According to Gymtide news, the move where she pulls her leg backwards toward her head, which is known in the gym as a 'scorpian' the down-to-earth Stephanie just referred to it as the 'the leg thing'!
Flexibility always came easily to Wood, she has claimed, but tumbling did not.  She also had to spend a great many hours working on her toe point.

Swinging bars was her other great talent and she held the NCAA title in 1996 to prove it. She was renowned for rarely missing a routine and always producing the big scores on her specialty when needed. Stephanie went on to study to become a  designer (a la Kupets).

Of course, there have been some other great athletes on the Bama team, Andree Pickens, Jeana Rice, an Olympian favorite Terin Humphrey, Ashley Priess, who made an unexpected leap from elite to collegiate gymnastics before Beijing, and, of course current star, and candidate for homecoming, Morgan Dennis.
But that, I am afraid, is all I have time for as it is time to get on a plane to Tasmania for Christmas.

Happy Holidays!!!


*****

Sunday, December 20, 2009

ONE LAST WORD AND IT'S OVER, PEEPS..




The commentary on the Shawn Johnson article is just getting ugly.

I want to point out a couple of things.

One.  I, personally loved Shawn Johnson as a gymnast.  I have not taken much notice of her since the Olympics because she hasn't been in the gymnastics world and frankly, that is all I am interested in.
Two, I never said she does NOTHING philanthropical, I was specifically talking about gymnastics related things, which was made very clear in the article, and not general charity.
I also never said Shawn was not a kind person, or that Nastia was a saint.

Read it all in black and white if that is how you want to read it, and I have absolutely no problem with the fact that some of you disagree with my theory on why SJ no longer competes, but I will not be publishing any more comments relating to the subject simply because of the few people who have settled on swearing and name calling.
Sorry to the people have articulate and thoughtful responses, whether they are in agreement or disagreement, I love me a good debate, but it's gotten ugly.


******

Saturday, December 19, 2009

GOOD TIMES


(yes, it's a gymnastics Xmas tree ornament!

For many gymnast out there, exams are over, they are home from college, finals are merely memories and Xmas is coming.  Good times are ahead.

Well this Christmas cheer must be infecting all the gymnastics world at the moment, because twitter got a whole lot more lively, and in turn, funny of late. It's celebrations and holiday time a go-go at the moment.

Here's what has been happening during this gym-christmas-end-of-finals-apalooza;

Corrie Lothrop is shovelling snow because, according to her mother, she is best at it because she is "low to the ground!" -not to mention her muscles?


Nastia Liukin likes being in a blizzard in NY, so I guess her mother is not making her shovel snow.


Shayla Worley is scoffing freebies at Costco for her lunch.


Bridget Sloan is overdosing on romcoms and cosidering a shuffleboard tournament with her grandparents


Amanda Jetter is being more holiday-appropriate and watching Elf.


Nadia Comaneci went with Frosty the Snowman.


Miss Val is pondering the possible Xmas gift potential of the "Frank's Deer Urine" she saw in the tri-state area.


Sam Peszek and her Grandmother are pounding Miss Val (who does NOT tweet whilst driving, but does sing christmas carols if alone) at board games.


Kim Zmeskal seems to have a rather unhealthy addiction to Walmart. I am not entirely sure Xmas is a good enough excuse for $173 scotch tape.  Someone may need to intervene.


Sam Peszek and her coterie of ugly-sweater-loving pals have put together an impressive collection of heinous Christmas sweaters to rival even that of my friends Chas's.


Mitzuki Sato is cycling- hasn't she had enough exercise?


Dominique Moceanu put herself through pictures-with-Santa-hell for the sake of the memories- at least that is what she is telling herself.


And also on the exercise front, Samantha Peszek is more talented than we think. She can run, and tweet us that she is running at the same time!


In a syllabic breakthrough, the short but sweet Nadia Comaneci increased her one word tweets to two with yesterday's "short workout" Soon she will be positively chatty!


Coach Rick, of Gymnastics Coaching seems to have taken his weight in booze to his Christmas party (to share, we hope!!) and we haven't heard from him since (just kidding!!)


Alison Taylor got all snazzed up with the family to go to her father's staff work party (and hopefully quaffed less than Rick!!)


All Chellsie Memmel seems to have been doing is reading and running on her treadmill, perhaps at the same time. I hope she amps it up for New Years and at least do her work out to a little Britney


Talia Kushynski either forgot to clean her room before she left for college (or her parents decided to turn it into the secret trash room while she was away) and has reported she is living in squalor!!




*****

TWO RUSSIAN GYMNASTIC ARTICLEs....




A new news article about Russian gymnastics has appeared on the Top Stories news site, telling us what all gym fans (but those who have had their heads buried in the chalk bowl already know. Russian gymnastics is on the improve.  Der.
They talk a little about the Voronin Cup and get a quote from Andrey Popov, who now coaches Great Britain.  He told journalists that there were no clear goals for the London Olympics, which they are looking toward, except to have a solid team perform.

"We just want to perform better than we did in Beijing.  We haven't had a good team since the Soviet Union.  Yes, we did have some brilliant individuals like Nemov or Khorkina.  But it's vital for us to do well in the team competition in London."

In another article, apparently Vitaly Mutko, the head of the Ministry of Sports has also been talking about a more general improvement in sport over the next few years in Russia, starting up a project called the year of the youth, which will encourage children to find their potential at things such as sport.
One aspect he mentions that has affected children entering activities such as sports and recreation in Russia is that the Komsomol, the youth Communist league used to unite children in such a way where they could become involved in activities.  Now that it no longer exists, the Ministry needs to find another way.




Another factor he mention is something we have definitely seen occur in gymnastics.  While Russia lost the centralised Soviet system of sports training with the fall of communism, other countries, such as the US inherited it through the dispersal of coaching talent with mass migration.  Mutko claims that Russian Sports needs to re-examine the current model and find a concrete method of sports management across the board.

This is very true.  There is no point in Russia raising all the incredible talent we have seen in the junior leagues if we see barely any of them, as in the past, make it to the senior ranks because of training and management issues that cause them to peak too early, becomes injured or drop out.
I sincerely hope it does not happen with this current brood of gymlings and the Russia gymnastics system can prove it has found an effective and safe mode of producing talent for 2012.



*****

SOME SAD NEWS AND SOME BEST WISHES....


(pic from comaneci-salto )

As you will see from the comments below, Anna Pavlova's comeback at the Voronin Cup was cancelled because her father passed away.  Much sympathy from the gym world, Anna.  We look forward to seeing you again in time.

On a happier note, Happy birthday to Little Miss Porgras, an elegant little girl who follow in the dance steps of the elegant Ms Pavlova.  May she never grow old.




And as the other person commented, it is indeed unlikely we will find someone who is not a Pavlova fan.  Hence the question.  I can't imagine the reason they could give.  But as someone said, now is not the best time to put anything negative out there.

Which leads me to pose another kind of question instead.  Is there a gymnast we can think of who has been as universally and unanimously loved by gym fans all over the world as much as Anna has?


*****

Friday, December 18, 2009

IT'S ANNA PAVLOVA'S BIRTHDAY!!!!





Okay, so it's not her birthday.

In fact I have no idea when Anna Pavlova's birthday is.

This is just me changing the subject to a less, ahem, sensitive topic (it may be months before I mention those two insanely popular US gymnasts who shall remain unnamed for the sake of my exhausted comment moderating and fear of death threat (THAT WAS A JOKE!!!) for a long, long time) Instead, I thought I'd talk about the apple of everyone's eye, Ms Anna Pavlova.

Dontchya miss Pavs?  I do. Rumour had it that she was back in training a while ago, but it would probably be too huge an ask for her to comeback, wouldn't it?  I really hope not, but I am not holding my breath either. It'd be awesome though.  I can just see her leading the brood of baby russian gymnast ducklings through the London Games.  It would be cute as hell!

In fact (I can't help it, I just seem to want to find controversy this week) is there anyone out there who doesn't like Pavs? 

Do tell (if you dare).  Especially tell us why. It has always seemed to me that she is universally loved, but then, I thought the same about the Lilipod and I was wrong. So please, if you are not feeling the Ana-love, I'd be curious to know why.

Anyway, here's a bit of junior cuteness (aka before she hit the bottle) to celebrate Miss Pavlova's not-birthday.


Or HERE



*****

Thursday, December 17, 2009

AND LET THAT BE A LESSON TO Y'ALL!!!

Why we don't wear jewellery at meets....


Or HERE



*****

THE TROUBLE WITH SHAWN....




So, someone (a couple of someones actually) commented in my last post about how Shawn Johnson hasn't used her post-Olympic fame to promote gymnastics in quite the philanthropical way that Nastia, or Nadia Comaneci have. Sure, she is out there (a lot) and she does paid appearances at gyms, and that is a promotion of the sport itself, but it is not quite the same as raising money for less fortunate people and programs to take part in the sport.  (Let me be clear, I am lauding Nastia for doing unpaid work such as the Cal state business and the toy drive.  I am not saying Shawn does nothing, she does appear at gyms, but as far as I know it is paid appearances, nor am I saying Nastia only ever does selfless, unpaid work, because that is patently untrue)

So, I have a theory why Shawn is not doing it. And first, let me preface this theory by saying that it's not that I think that she should do it (besides, she might later), but I am interested in why she doesn't.

I think one factor that affects the way Nastia and Shawn have treated their fame is (isn't it funny how we always seem to consider on in comparison to the other?) is the way they grew up. Nastia grew up in a world of gymnastics. 

Sure, Shawn grew up inside a gym, but it's a bit different. Nastia grew up with a family who were heavily, heavily involved in the sport. She would have known people like Nadia and the work she does most of her life.  She met all kinds of people in the gym world.  She sits and chats with Nelli Kim because she has probably known her since she was small. Nastia experienced gymnastics as a big picture, as well as a gym, which probably enables her to think about the future of the sport more readily. Perhaps that doesn't come naturally to Shawn, whose parents weren't in the sport and who probably devoted their time on gymnastics simply to watching her and raising money for her to train.





But the real thing that I think is preventing Shawn from throwing herself into such things, and this is purely my opinion, is that I think in some small, subconscious way, she has turned her back on gymnastics.

I think losing in Beijing rattled Shawn Johnson more than even she knows.

Think about it. Up until she came second in the AA final, she'd been pretty much four-foot-high and bullet-proof. She was World Champions, had won most of her meets (Scam Cup aside) in the last couple of years. She'd won Olympic trials. She'd won the Visas. She was World Champion. She was Marta's darling.

So many people around her were convinced she would win that the expectation to come home with gold must have edged its way into her brain somewhere and lodged. How could it not? Especially in someone so young, with so little experience in, to use Suzanne Yoculan's favorite piece of psychobabble, adversity in competition. I think she fully expected to win. And why not?  Experience hadn't shown her much else?

Nastia, on the other had, had had all kinds of crap to deal with. Losing marginally to Chellsie Memmel in 05, coming fifth in 2006, missing 2007 because of injury. She had to come back from a serious and long-term injury, only to find she was up against this new and brilliantly, naturally talented young wunderkind. Nastia knew she might not win. History had proved to her that no matter how hard you try things don't always work out.  You can never be sure.  Injuries happen. Falls happen. Bad nights happen. Someone simply pulling it off better on the night happens.




But I don't think Shawn really realised this.  So when she lost, it was an incredible blow. Of course, being the charming little girl she was, she was a good sport about the whole thing and smiled as hard as she could, but still, it must have shocked the hell out of her.  She went out there and competed, hitting four for four like she nearly always did.... and she didn't win.

So no wonder, when all these opportunities came dancing at her feet to have a great time, be celebrated, to be lauded and and to enjoy herself- things that had little to do with the sport that brought her to this point came her way, no wonder she jumped in and never looked back.




I will be truly surprised if she ever seriously trains again. But I am also not surprised she is not out there promoting the good of her sport. And that's okay. I think, deep in her heart at the moment, though she doesn't really know it, she doesn't really like gymnastics. And I don't blame her. She is very young. Maybe one day, when she has had a chance to reflect, and is old enough to realise that what she achieved was brilliance, even if it only came in silver, then she might start looking out for her sport again in an altruistic way.

*****

Monday, December 14, 2009

WHY NASTIA = GOOD

She didn't have to do this, but she did.  I hope Cal State gets the money they need. It's a huge task, but you never know...


Gymnastics Videos on Gymnastike


I have to admire figures like Nastia Liukin and Nadia Comaneci (and others) for what they are giving to the sport. Nadia Comaneci tirelessly campaigns for disabled atheletes, as well as being in the spotlight at all major gymnastics events. The disabled work is probably not as glamorous or well-covered as her appearance at London Worlds, for example, but that is not the point. She is using her fame mettle to bring attention to corners of the gymnastics world that don't get attention.
That is precisely what nastia is doing too. Miss Val may have called in a favour. nastia may have offered. Whatever. Good on them both for trying to make sure more people can experience gymnastics in more places. There is not that much fame to be found in gymnastics, so as far as I am concerned, those who do earn it should use it wisely and well.

SAD NEWS...


(pic from gymbox)


According to my Itlian correspondant, Giulia, it looks like Paola Galante may be making her exit from International gymnastics.  Apparently the very elegant and lithe Paola, whose grace and felxibility we have all enjoyed over the last few years is getting too tall for the sport, making the difficulty of her routines harder and harder to accomplish.  We will probably hear something concrete in the next few months.

GOOD NEWS!


(pic from Bruins site)

According to all the tweeting, Allison Taylor, a bars whizz from the Bruins just received her first official A+ from UCLA.  That must be no mean feat from a school of UCLA's calibre.  Go Allison!  I wish all the bruins that much success at the Intrasquad tomorrow.  Though if they are all A+ Miss Val is gonna have a hell of a time making a line-up!  Can't wait to see who is doing what this year.

OH LORD I AM SO TIRED...




... but then I find the new Bruins videos from the meet the Bruins at Cal Fullerton.  Dang.  I need to sleep.

So, nice to see Anna Li's rocket of a Tkatchev is still as spectacular as ever.

Kaelie Baer's beam did not impress me so much, but the girl does have a lovely side somi.  I gotta give her that.

But what I was waiting for...floor routines!!

First one I saw was Elyse Hopfner-Hibbss' routine.  Well, if you don't know she is one of my favorite gymnasts you have not been reading this very long!  I've been particularly curious to see this since Miss Val remarked how surprised she was at Elyse's capacity for dance (of course I knew guys. Uh Huh. I was just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.  anyone could see there was a real dancer-Bruin just screaming to get out of the awkward Team Canada choreography that was squeezed between all those tumbling rows.)  There's a couple of awkward transition moments in this new where it's all jerky, but lordy, little miss "hoppy" as the Bruins call her can dance.  In its flowing moments, she is super-snazzy!

Nikki Tom did look indeed as cute as hell in her afro and frock costume, but it was kinda hard to tell if the routines was any good.  She makes an awesome clown though. She may knock Abby Stack of the clown podium with her hilarity if she keeps it up.

Thankfully, they have managed to squeeze all of the awkwardness out of Zam, and now she is pulling of a great little broadway style piece for floor this year.  Can't wait til she and Grace Taylor have a 'worm'-off too!  It's a much better routine than last year for her.

I really really disliked Talia K's floor at the start, as I did last year (I just do not get why you'd do hip hop style dance while grinning from ear to ear.  It's weird.  Hip hop should have 'tude) but then about a third of the way through, I really got into it.  Love, love, love her turn series too.   Beautiful!

I've talked about Anna Li's enough.  What's to say?  It's a stunner... (though why oh why did those two Ladies have to return with their popcorn or whatever right in front of the camera right in the middle of her performance!! I hope the concession kid forgot the butter!!  )  (Also, note, Val's new masterpiece has the Nastia 'goosebumps of approval' rating!)

I only watched Mizuki Sato's beam after those floor ex's (because I gotta sleep!!!!!) and boy was she looking solid and fantastic!  Her leaps are dynamic and her tumbling is great!  She is solid!

Okay, I gotta go to sleep.  Here's Zuk's beam.  If you ain't seen it all.  Follow the links to the Bruin youtube page and behold the rest.


Or HERE



ZZZZZZ


Sunday, December 13, 2009

SANE PARENTING IN AN INSANE WORLD....

It must be hard to keep your child feeling normal in a sport as mad and all-consuming as gymnastics. And we know, from past tales such as Moceanu's and Sey's that parents, in their desire for their daughter's success, don't always do the right thing by them as they 'help' them along the road to gymnastics glory.


(Jetter on right. Pic from USAG )


But some of them seem to be doing a great job.  For example, this is what Jerry Jetter, Amanda Jetter's father, said after she won medals at the International Tournament of Pas-de-Calais in France;

"It's kind of surreal.  My wife and I really don't know much about gymnastics, so I don't know how to put it other than (that we are) shocked, amazed, elated and as happy as can be."

This is the kind of gymnastics parent you want, I reckon- one who doesn't know enough to get pushy and interfering, but certainly knows when to be proud and overjoyed at their child's success.  That's how you raise a gymnast who isn't a headcase, or doesn't become a headcase when they have to leave the sport.

Ad it sounds like Jetter has her head screwed on just right.  She told a Cincinnati paper that she didn't mind not having time for other, teenage stuff, because;

"If I go to the Olympics or I don't, I could still have a full ride scholarship to college.  That would be a huge plus for my parents, and I know my family supports me in everything I do.  But mostly, I love the sport, and that's probably what keeps me going."


*****

Saturday, December 12, 2009

DAWGIES ARE FOR EVER, NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS...

You know why this shot freaked me out?  Because when I opened the Twitpic, I thought for a second our little Dawgy was clutching a can of beer.  Surely those happy-clappy all-American, scone bakin', finals ace-ing, meet-winning Dawgies would keep their keggers quieter than that!!!


(twitpic )

******

MILLER WINS (BRONZE!) IN JAPAN....

Well, gymnastics Australia just reported that our new little bars whizz, the girl to carry the candle left lit by the HILARIOUS Olivia Vivian, Larissa Miller has taken a (I stand corrected) Bronze medal on bars in the Japan Toyota International. Go Larissa!!  By how much and who against?  That I do not know....
(actually now  do- Mackenzie Caquatto and Koko Tsurumi!)

Her post-worlds intervirew for those who haven't already watched it;


or HERE

*****

MEANWHILE, IN ROMANIA....


(pic from Prosport )

Adrian Stoica has been re-elected president of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation.  The vote was unanimous.  He had no opponents.  Good or Bad?  You tell me.....



(pic from prosport)

Unsurprisingly, Ana Porgras and Marian Dragulescu were voted gymnasts of the year by the Romanian gymnastics Federation.  Poor old Anamaria Tamirjan, who can't seem to cut a break this year, came second.  It seems a World bronze pips a Euros silver.  Gabi Dragoi came third, I am guessing for her Euro bronze.



In IG forum Romania news....

According to Macoranu at the IG Forum, Gabi Dragoib is having surgery in the next week to deal with the intensification of pain in the stress fracture she has been suffering for a year.

Anamaria Tamirjan's first surgery went well.  Number two is delayed til closer to Xmas.

And, just because it is funny, here's a wonderful, totally eighties pic of Sandra Izbasa, also found on the forum.




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BITS AND PIECES...

So, Dominique Pegg won the elite Canada all-around  this weekend.  As the CanWest news service pointed out, she did it without winning and individual event.  Pegg told them that she didn't come to the competition thinking she would win, so it was a pleasant surprise for her.  She was followed by Kristina Vaculik in second and Charlotte Mackie in third.  Brittany Rogers, the expected winner, came fourth after a less-than-anticipated performance but, as expected, topped the vault list.




(Pic from bluewater gymnastics )

The Utes getting to now you vids have been uploaded onto sgmarsdens youtube account.  The Utes are asked the hard-hitting questions, like to choose between cake and ice cream, nsync and boyz2men and night and day.  They are quite cute vids, actually.  My favorite videos are of the Utah retreat, where, if you watch the video 'Daria wants noodles' you can witness some mealtime grossness.  But my favorite snippet, called "Greg is lost" is my favorite because it gives a great picture of the fun relationship the girls have with their coach, Greg Marsden.





Our two great montagers, Mostepanovafan and Munchthesilivasfan have put up a lot of new videos in the past few days.  They were very quiet for a few weeks then BAM, it was a montage-a-palooza!  Luck us!

Munch has put up one she promised for MF, showing some great dance moments in gymnastics.  She thinks it's crap.  I think it's cute.


Or watch HERE

Mostepanovafan has a couple too.  One is all the gymnasts who have performed the Patterson dismount on beam, another on the Church release on bars, and a Christmas montage.  Here is the Christmas one.  It's nice.  Lots of Worlds footage.


or HERE


*****

Thursday, December 10, 2009

SAM PESZEK RECOMMENDS......

I bet you Silentviolence3 , the Youtuber is feeling pretty dang pleased with herself right now.  Sam Peszek tweeted her love for this sassy little vid montage about her and Alicia Sacramone.  It's short, but it's snappy, saucy, well-made and a lot of fun!


Or watch it HERE

See?  Fun!  Check out her other vids if you are an A-sac freak like she!  HERE



*****

MY FAVORITE TWEET EVER



Comes courtesy of Shayla Worley.  And I quote;

"Dear finals, I hate you"

Tee hee.


*****

WOOT!!!

SANDRA'S BACK!!!


(pic from Prosport)

Good news on the Deva front. Sandra Izbasa has returned to the gym! According to her interview with Prosport, her return was a joyous occasion all round and Sandra was rapt to be greeted with open arms by trainers and gymnasts alike. She is not putting too much pressure on the foot, but has tried out the apparatus a little and is working out.

"It's so good to be back!" Sandra told reporters. "It's a joy! Time passed very quickly."



*****

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

IN INSANE GYMNASTICS NEWS....




Well, it looks like we won't be seeing Beth Tweddle at the Commonwealth Games next year.  And it is not because of injury, schedule or sheer laziness!  No, this time it is due to one of the most bizarre (but quite understandable) cases of star treatment I have ever heard of.

It seems the British gymnastics federation- in an act of what i like to think of as colonial paranoia(!) have decided Beth Tweddle, Daniel Keatings and Louis Smith are not to attend The Commonwealth Games in Dehli next year because of the federations fear they will be exposed to the dreaded "Dehli Belly", a stomach upset that can be caused by eating Indian food or being exposed to bad sanitation too close to the World Championshsips.

British gymnastics performance director, Eddie Van Hoof told the Times of India newpaper;

"It's not just the travel and jet lag but the potential for tummy bugs and diarrhoea that exists in making the trip.  We just cannot afford to take the risk when so much is at stake."

The Commonwealth Games has historically been a great games, and the gymnastics competition a fun fight between GB, Australia and Canada for gymnastics medals.  It will be far less fun without British big guns.  A second string team, however, is free to get as sick as they like while competing for GB at the Games while the first string train for the impending worlds safe, away from the danger of exposure to travelers diarrhea!

It's quite an extreme decision, as Dehli Belly usually hits travelers when they arrive and clears up pretty quickly. But at the same time, Britain is very intent  on making team  finals at the London Olympics because, as Australia well knows, it's a bit sad when the home team don't make finals, so the Worlds are vital to them for the next few years.

I wonder if this too will stop Peggy Liddick putting our best on a plane to India.  I'd be really, really very surprised if she let the fear of a brief stomach upset stop Australia's run at a team gold and AA gold from Lozza Mitchell.  But who knows?  I never thought it would have stopped anyone, even those whacky Brits!
(add: the more I think about it, though, the more I think its possible she might do something like  use the second team she took to London Worlds for CWG. I wonder.)

Best bit was the ridiculous pun headline "Dehli belly scare makes Brit CWG gymnasts run"  Ha dee ha.  Get it?


*****

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dreams....


(Brestyan's best....so far)

Hi y'all.  I havene't written anything much for a few days because I am having a brief Sydney beach weekend.  I will tell you, though, that the first night I got here I dreamed about Silvia Brestyan, which is kind of strange because I can't even count on the one hand the amount of times I have even thought about Silvia Brestyan.
Anyway, in my dream, I was watching her perform on Youtube or something, an old Olympic floor routine of hers (yeah, I know, she never went to the Olympics) and someone was saying to me "Yeah didn't you know she was "Silvia (insert famous gymnast name here) before she married Mihai?"
Weird.  It wasn't Silvia Mitova either.  I don't know what her name was but in my dream it made total sense and I was very inmpressed and she was a Soviet, not a Romanian.  Weird huh?
What the dream, and my plane ride did remind me of though, is the great photos on The Brestyan's gym website of Alicia during the  Olympics.  Has everyone seen them?  I just remember there being really hilarious and cute photos of the girls doing their stretches in a tiny space on the flight over.  Very funny!
They can be foung HERE, along with a LOT of Beijing photos.

It is kind of disturbing to see the girls sitting at airport with icepacks etc all the time.  Why does Marta have to overwork them before major competitions?

*****

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CHECK THIS OUT!!!

They call it Anna Li Leap of Death.  Not quite a leap of death, but a pretty impressive challenge from the Bruins lone Senior.  She has said she wants to be a stunt double.  This is definitely the way to practise!


Or watch it HERE

By the by, I finally saw Miss Val's wrap-up of the first intra-squad (I had to wait til someone put it on youtube because my compy won't play UCLA's vids).  Was definitely interesting to see.  They snuck in a little footage of new skills and routines, including Brittani McCulough, Lichelle Wong and Anna Li.  She talked a little about the new freshmen, particularly Netherlandian Lichelle Wong and Arizonan(i think)  Monique De la Torre. 
Miss Val also talks about she and Ari Berlin working together on the chorey and the meaning behind Anna Li's exquisite new floor rouitne.  Definitely worth watching if you didn't already.  So here it is in all its accessible Youtube glory!


Or HERE

Go Bruins!!!

*****

ANOTHER FACE OFF!



According to my Italy correspondant, Giulia, there will be a gymnastics Grand Prix held in Brindisi, Italy on December the 12th.  The Italian will women will face off against gymnasts from Greece, Romania and France in a sort of display/gala competition thingy on beam and bars.
According to Giulia, the Italian team comprises;

Emily Armi (BB) (Yay!!)
Paola Galante (UB)
Serena Lichetta (BB) (What? No floor?  I like her on floor.  Or bars?  Anyone remember bars finals?)(correction, Giulia says she will be on bars, not beam!)
Elizabetta Preziossa (BB) (Woot- she pretty on beam.)
Vanessa Ferrari (UB and BB)  (Yay, Vanessa is BACK.  At least until she continues her plans for world domination (remember?) by entering the army.  Shucks, I always thought she'd do it by calling down aliens or something, not the plain old military route.

Some of the gymnasts facing the Italians are;

Ana Porgras
Amelia Racea
Pauline Morel
Vasiliki Millousi

Beam should be lots of fun here with all that talent in this one competition!

Some of the guys entering are Robert Stanescu, Jordan Jovtchev and Benoit Caranobe.

The competition includes artistic, rhythmic and aerobic gymnastics.