Wednesday, March 31, 2010


(Chow with Shawn Johnson)

According to the Des Moines register, Shawn Johnson's former (?) coach Liang Chow is breaking ground for an expansion to his gymnastics facility.  He will be building an identical gym to the previous one where recreational gymnastics classes will be taught. His competitive gymnast remain in the older facility. Measures will be taken to ensure the flooding that happened a few years ago will not happen again.

(The flooding at Chow's gym)

Since his incredible success with SJ and his role coaching the US Beijing team, it seems Liang's gym has become Iowa's answer to WOGA.  He now has 30 gymnast on his competitive team and is citing 13-year-old Keely McNeer, his only junior international elite gymnast as someone to look out for.  McNeer recently relocated from Baton Rouge to study under Liang Chow and although she is "tough" and talented, she still has plenty, he says, to catch up on.  She, unlike SJ is being homeschooled while she catches up on aspects of flexibility, dance and strength.

(Keely McNeer)

This year McNeeley will be competing at the Covergirl Classic and, if she should make the cut, the US junior Nationals.  She already qualified to and competed at the Visas last year at cites it as her greatest moment in the sport yet. She is just the right age to make a bid for the London team.  Keely's favorite exercise is floor, where she says she can show off both her power and personality.

Watch her compete floor here.  She great height on her tumbling, a tidy but open tuck position a la Shawn Johnson and precise movements in her turns and leaps.

Chow's gymnasts apparently have won 350 state titles individually and he is now, on the promise of Shawn Johnson's great success, attracting gymnasts from all over the states. He seems like a good guy and a great coach.  I wish him luck.



It seems poor old Ana Porgras has been in the wars a little since the Worlds last year, according to Prosport.  First she cracked a couple of ribs falling on beam, then tore a muscle on her inner thigh just a few days later. The thigh muscle hasn't healed and is giving her a fair bit of grief.
 Time to heal isn't, of course, a luxury that an international elite gymnast can enjoy, especially not when the Romanian International and the European Championships are rapidly approaching.
Ana has been given a kinesiology bandage to wear on her leg as she works and claim she is working at about sixty percent of her potential.  I wonder if they will let her compete at the inter national, which is being held in Bucharest this year? Perhaps they'd be best not to?

The Romanian International is where the final junior and senior teams will be decided for the Europeans.  There will also be gymnasts from Greece, Hungary, Switzerland, Qatar, Turkey, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.  The apparatus finals will be televised so we may be lucky enough to see some Youtube highlights!

The public is being allowed to view the event for free.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010


For those who have a question for senior UCLA star, Anna Li and red shirt Brittani McCullough, now is the time. UCLA is doing another Ask the Bruins, like they do with Miss Val early every season, but this time you can ask the girls questions. If you have something you have always wanted to know about either of them, submit your questions HERE and then you can go back next week to see if one of their answers is to your question.
Do you guys realise we are only going to see Anna Li's insane bars and beautiful floor routines a couple more times? Depressing.


Monday, March 29, 2010

ROM vs FRA vs GB

Well, the results are in for the France/Great Britain/Romania meet from this week and it looks like Romania has taken out the bulk of the honours in both the senior and junior competitions. 

The seniors beat France in the team competition and the AA results were thus;

Diana Chelaru 57.550
Youna Dufournet 56.800
Raluca Haidu 56.550
Ana Porgras 56.300

Wonderful to see Chelaru's consistency improving.  Beating a gymnast like Dufournet, whose difficulty is often quite high (much to her detriment at times) is an excellent result.  Dufournet was hurt by a 12.300 on floor, however.  Amelia Racea too, scored only 12.400 on floor, which affected her AA standings. Strangely, Romania scored higher on bars than they did on floor or beam. Weird.
The juniors also had a great day, winning the team competition over both France, in second, and Great Britain in third.
The top AA results were;

1. Larisa Iordache 55.600
2. Anne Kuhm 53.400
3. Diana Bulimar 53.250

This is all very good news as the Romanians are having to work incredibly hard to pull a team together for Euros this year and need to give as many of their girls as they can a run in competitions. 

Here are some videos;

Ana Porgras on floor
A commenter congratulated her on her turns, but I am fairly certain her foot dropped in the middle of her first double. Pity because it was pretty.  She fell on beam on her aerial, which was disappointing, because she was looking good. Yet another gorgeous gymnast plagued by inconsistency.  I am starting to worry more about this.

Diana Chelaru's floor.

It is excellently performed for Chelaru.  She is still sloppy in the legs during her early tumbles, and has little flair for performance, but they have designed the routine cleverly to work around these problems.  Her leaps were great, as were her turns. This definitely counts as a hit routine!

Youna Dufournet's Bars;

I like Dufournet on bars, but I always get a great sense of the tension in her body as she swings and tried to maintain form. I love the whole shapashnikova-turny thing-pak stuff in a row (those are the technical terms- I am hopeless with bars)She hit her handstand beautifully, that much I do know!

Beth Tweddle also performed on bars and was awarded a 15.950 I believe.

(watch the rest of the avilable videos on crazyfairy12's Youtube channel)


Sometimes the prize is nearly as big as you are....


The bigger girls steal your mat time.....and your thunder


Your hairdresser decides big hair will give you a couple of inches......

Nothing ever, ever fits...

Everyone keeps giving you soft toys when all you really want is some Scorpians tickets and a subscription to Vogue.


And dating can be, um, awkward....

(Photos: Matt Esler)

Sunday, March 28, 2010


It is time, once again, to call for writers for the next issue of The Couch Gymnast Magazine! 

As you may have noticed, TCG is taking a rather loosy-goosy approach to the magazine schedule, rather than producing it as a regimented monthy, or weekly issue.  That is because it is a lot of work, and I want to give regular contributors some breathing time between issues.
ANYWAY, got something to say about our favorite sport?  let's hear about it!
The magazine is looking for opinion pieces, profiles, interviews, history and autobiographical experiences.

For information on how to contribute to the magazine, head to the CONTRIBUTE page.

I am especially interested in any work written about China and Japan in gymnastics.

And don't forget The List- if you want your list to make it into the next issue, start getting your thoughts together.

If you are interested in contributing, to the next issue I will need your articles by the 20th of April.

I would also love it if you dropped me an email to let me know what you were thinking about writing just so I can plan the issue and the artwork at

Looking forward to hearing from y'all!



(Raisman takes title)

Aly Raisman is continuing to prove she has the best competition head in the business by taking the senior Jesolo prize in another impressive show of  talent and consistency.
Taking second and third spots were two of the 'old guard' girls, Ksenia Semenova and Vanessa Ferrari respectively.  It is great to see them both 'back', Semenova back to consistency and Ferrari back after yet another injury and operation.

The US won the team title convincingly over Russia.

1. USA          228.450
2. Russia       225.900
3. Italy          220.300
4. G. Britain  204.450

I can't find videos yet, but here one of some of the girls warming up on beam under the watchful eye of The HagMacko wound up tying for the beam win with Tatiana Solvyeva, which is impressive.




(Malikova only competed two events
Photo: Stefan Wurzer)

Results from Junior Jesolo are in, and Anastasia Grishina took the all-around title from Kyla Ross by quite a margin. Italian juniors Erica Fasani and Andrea Foti tied for took third spot. 

1. Anastasia Grishina   59.450
2. Kyla Ross                 56.700
3. Erica Fasani             56.050
3. Andrea Foti              56.050
5. Anastasia Sidorova  55.500
6. Yoshino Taniguchi   55.350
7. Sabrina Vega            55.150
8. Asuka Teremato       54.750
9. Masha Pasek            54.650
10 Carlotta Ferla           54.500

Surprisingly, Sabrina Vega placed only seventh.  Talented junior japanese all-arounder Yoshino Taniguchi placed seventh, while her team mate, upstart Murakami Mai finished 11th.
In the team competition, featuring only four of the delegations, Russia led by about two points.

1. Russia 223.250
2. Italy 221.500
3. Japan 217.750
4. Great Britain 202.800

This batch of Japanese juniors is really quite impressive, especially since they took the team title from the junior Chinese team at a recent meet.  This is going to be an interesting quad for Japan.
The Italians will be very pleased that their girls made such an excellent showing with three girls in the top ten all-arounders.  Proof that Italy is still coming on strong with the regimens that produced Ferrari. They should also be really pleased about coming second as a team, and not too far behind Russia either.  This stands them in excellent stead for the future.



(Bruins win back-to-back PAC 10s)

After an incredibly frustrating Sunday of having no access to internet, I am finally in my school office on Monday morning and able to find out what happened on the weekend with all the conference Championships!  Where I live, it's not exactly like you can say to any old person (any person, in fact) "hey, d'ya happen to know who won Pac-10s yesterday?"!
So, anyway, I am, as I am sure you are super surprised to hear, very pleased that the Bruins won the Pac 10s.  In fact, I would have been miffed if they didn't win- there would be no excuse at this point in the season.  Apparently they won with the highest score of any conference championship too.
Highlights included, apparently....

The team hitting 24 for 24 routines.
Zam taking another all-around and taking the vault title with a 9.95
Anna Li getting the perfect ten we have all been waiting for on bars.
On vault and bars, the Bruins pulled out six 9.8 plus scores.
Brittani McCullough won floor tied for a floor exercise win.


In other conferences....
I am also happy to see Oklahoma is still gunning to take all, winning the Big Twelve.
Hollie Vise took three titles, with floor (shared), bars and beam.  Excellent news for this legend of a gymnast.
But I am even happier about Florida taking out the SECs.  Florida is my other favorite team and I really want to see them in the finals again.  They have some terrific freshman talent with Marissa King and the brilliant Ashanee Dickerson, and even greater talent coming over the next year or two.  I can't remember who said it in the comments a few days back, but it will be awesome to see UCLA and Florida and their freshies going head-to-head!
It is also and extraordinary win because they took out top spot rivals, Alabama and also Georgia who, though they have seemed to completely run out of steam this year, can always surprise.  Florida had a rough start and still won convincingly.  Georgia must have had a real bad day- it's a bad day when Courtney McCool nearly falls of the beam!
Ashley Priess took the AA title from Ashanee Dickerson too.

Anyway, that is all I have to say about conferences as I haven't actually seen anything yet.  Besides, you can go read all about it at Blythe's brilliant GymExaminer page where she provides exhaustive recaps for us all the time.  Girl is a legend.


Friday, March 26, 2010


Yes, Ian and Amanda, I do hear what you are saying.  There were soooo many cookie cutter Romanian routines in the last few years, you are right.  It was dull.  I think I just get sensitive about the Romanians because I love them so much.  I can criticise them but no one else can.  Stupid innit!?
Not all of these factory line routines were created under Mariana Bitang, though, either.  I really think that when Lili Cosma came in, she was so desperate to get gymnasts like Nistor and Izbasa's difficulty scores so high for the new system (and to prove that Romania could survive without the Bs), that she didn't give much thought to chorey.  I think that somie to arabesque thingy they all used to do proved she had a flair for coming up with (or, if Nastia really did do it first, had an eye for) interesting moves, but then she was just getting ALL her gymnasts to do that same kind of move.
It seems now she has relaxed a little and is really starting to hit her stride.  I mean, it was odd that even though Amelia Racea's combination moves were awesome, it was also the faffing and dance  stuff I really loved in that routine and a lot of it is new.  It also seems to me that the junior coaching must be getting stronger, because it really seems like juniors are coming to Deva with more consolidated skills.
And then I found another example.  Raluca Haidu's beam routine went up on Youtube from the meet with GB, and wow, it is cool.  Has anyone else just loved that little shimmy walk she does down the beam after her turn?  It is so original and interesting and sassy! I love it!
Then she does that cool, low cat leap move and pose after her leap combination that looks stylish for a young 'un.  It's great.
This is how to work the code the smart way. It means they can still do all the code whoring skills they need to do, but the routines look fresh with each girl because they have original chorey. Well played, Lili.
Now, they just need to find a new floor choreographer, or make him have his own revelation that the junior don't all have to do cutesie peasant dances, then Romania will be looking good!



Thursday, March 25, 2010


(Pavs Speaks-see below!)

Vanessa Zamarripa has won her fourth Pac-10 gymnast of the week thingy- the third this year.  This is no surprise as she is really turning out consistently excellent performances.

Aunt Joyce says Anna Li is ready to compete AA for the Bruins this weekend.  That's good.  There is nothing more pathetic and sad than seniors who can't go out with a bang.  Remember how depressing/scary it was when Corey Hartung got injured right at the end of last season?

Word on the IG forum is that Viktoriya Komova isn't going to Jesolo because of a prior engagement with Putin.  Sad news for Italians. Good news for those who don't want her to burn out young.  It does make the US/Russian junior face-off a little less exciting.  I was also looking forward to seeing an entire Russian troupe perform under the pressure of US athletes because now is as good as any to work out who the competition headcases are going to be (let's face it, there's always one or two in the Russian mix) early, so we know what to expect later!

Aussie trials are on for the Pacific Rims this weekend I believe.  It will be interesting to see who is in good form.  I know Britt Greeley and Georgia Bonora are working uninjured at the moment, and I am fairly certain Lozza Mitchell is better.  I am sure Mez over at the Australian Gym Blog will keep us posted.

Also, there is a translated interview with Anna Pavlova up on the IG forum.  Most of her answers are, unfortunately, quite dull.  While the questions are lengthy, her responses are short and staccato (Russians are just so Russian, aren't they?)  For example, when asked about the favorite place she has visited, she say, in her fence-sitting manner, that all places are nice, but at heart she is a patriot.
One thing she did say, when asked about wether she thought she had been robbed of medals in the past, particularly Beijing, she responded.

"We have a subjective sport.  And here is two judges.  Judges and audience."

Good point, Anna!

There are some dodgy videos of Huang Qiushuang and Wu Liufuang competing in DOHA on MR Atler's Youtube channel if you wanna see.

And like I said, proof in the pudding that Diana Chelaru is still a changed gymnast.  This beam set is really nice.  I was a bit miffed (for some reason I take Romania slander somewhat personally) that someone made a comment about a "Another stylish Romanian on beam.  Am I dreaming?!" on Youtube.  Tamirjan and Dragoi- Tamirjan particularly -were quite stylish, or so I thought.
Anyway, Chelaru is looking SOLID and her wolf leap is as light as a feather.


I do wonder, however, where Amelia Racea went wrong on the day, because her beam was great.  I freaking love her side aerial into tuck back- ridiculously fun combination! AND she does a nice body wave thingy coming out of it.  Then she does that split leap aerial combination too! 
Lili Cosma is really managing to break out of the Romania cookie-cutter choreography for beam with the new gang, which is nice.  It is giving these juniors some much needed individuality.
Racea's sheep jump is definitely dodgy-looking but her arms are lovely.  Where the hell did they come from? Are they keeping a port de bras teacher under the stairs at Deva now?
Amelia needs to keep her energy up for that dismount though, it was like she forgot she was about to do it- it was scarily low.


Here too is a video of Nicole Hibbert of the Great Brit's floor routine.  She is definitely not a born dancer and there is definitely WAY too much faffing around in the corner before the third pass ( I do like how she repeated that bent over needle scale though) but girl can LAND her tumbles.  And she had so much energy for her last pass- she could have done another tumbling row!  I was wondering how she and Danusia Francis had been going as they were the two wunderkinds of British Gymnastics- well, if she tidies up her form, she could be very useful.


And finally, here's a question, does anyone know where Laura Svilpaite is at?  The lovely Lithuanian bars worker who made a splash last year?   She should be sixteen this year, I believe.  I am hoping she makes an appearance soon. 

(pic by Stefan Wurzer)


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Considering what a big fan I am of hers, I have surprised even myself that I haven't commented on Elyse Hopfner-Hibb's interview with IG.  I always forget to look at IG- which is daft.
Anyway, as far as I am concerned, Elyse has been having a great year.  Her routines are great, aside from the choreographical tourettes in her beam work (it gets worse when they take the double spin out) and she has more or less found more consistency than last year.  It is a pity she has been knocked out of the AA because of Li's seniority and Zam's total fabulousness, but they did need to work on her bars, and both Li and Zam are competing brilliantly.
Anyways, I was all-aflutter when I heard she was considering going elite again, but really, that article just says she hasn't dismissed the idea.  It also didn't really tell me anything I didn;t already know except that they were pulling her double fron dismount that she could never stick (i could have guessed that bit) for a double layout which she can stick. 
Frankly, I don't know if she will go back to elite- she is small enough- I don't know if she can ever do as well as that World bronze (anyways, that was fantastic enough)- what I do hope is that next year she gets to do all-around and kick some serious butt alongside Zam!
Most important is that she sounds like she is having a hell of a good time!


(Qiushuang- second on floor)

Well, beam and floor finals shaped up more like I expected them at DOHA, with Wu liufang winning both events.  She practically pummelled the opposition on beam with her 6.0 difficulty and final score of 14.700.  More surprising was to see that Croatian gymnast Tina Erceg take second place with a 13.600.  While she had one of the lowest start values of the beam field, she managed to win silver.  Jennifer Khwela continued to prove her mettle, taking third place.

Liufang won floor, with Huang Qiushuang folling in second place by a tenth of a point or so.  Third was Uctus Goksu, whom I have never heard of, but who had the highest start value of any gymnast on the floor with a 5.4.  Daniele Hypolito came in with the lowest start value and finished in last place, sadly.


Well, okay, we know where she's been- all injured and stuff, but isn't it great to see Cerasela still working so hard at being in the mix for the Romanian National Team?
I sincerely hope they are not still pulling the weight thing on her, because it is obvious that she has gone through puberty during this injury break and this is the body she has now. She looks terrific. Her last two leaps are beautiful. Once she makes all her connections and gets used to competing again, she maybe a really good anchor/leader for the young Romanian team. I wonder how her bars are coming along?
The TCG Magazine Romanian Contributor, Bea, wrote an awesome article about Cera and her struggles in the first issue, click HERE if you haven't read it.



Tuesday, March 23, 2010



Next cab of the competition rank is Jesolo...
The Trofeo Internazionale is being competed there this week. At Jesolo we will see a mix of junior and senior competitiors from Japan, Italy, Russia, GB and the USA. Sadly no Romanians this year because of financial issues.

(Ferrari on flor-

It will be Vanessa Ferrari's first international contest since her last operation.

Let's face it, the most exciting thing about Jesolo is that we are FINALLY gonna see some USA junior vs Russian Junior face-offs.  This is what we have all bee waiting for!
Russia is sending some crema in the form of Grishina, Komova, Sidorova, Malikova, Karpova and Belokibilskaya.
The USA in typically natty form haven't yet announced who they are deigning to send. But this is gonna be fun.
The Russians and Italian have entire senior and junior teams while others like Great Britain are sending less.  If you want to know who is going, here is a LIST thus far.

USA Team Announced- the girls to go to Italy are....

Amanda Jetter
Mackenzie Caquatto
Morgan Smith
Alexandra Raisman
Cassie Whitcomb
Kytra Hunter

Kyla Ross
Sabrina Vega
Oh my gawd, this is going to be a hell of a face-to-face!


(Chelaru by Stefan Wurzer)

Apparently the Romanians beat the British in their training/meeting/competing meet last week- not by enough as far as I concerned.  Romania should be trouncing Great Britain, really, but scores were tight. 

Chelaru won the all-around because Porgras had a fall on bars.  I don't mind Chelaru so much these days now she has fixed her form.  The gymnast who attended the World Championships last year was an entirely different gymnast in presentation and execution than the one who attended the Euros earlier that year.  It's good to see she is still performing as a solid all-arounder and is relatively injury-free.
The lovely little Raluca Haidu took fourth while Racea took sixth.  Funny- I thought Racea would place higher than that, but I am not sure how the competition went for her. 
Forminte told Prosport that these contests were all about being patient with a very young team and letting them grow. They will compete again next week with France as well.
The Tweds won bars and floor.


By the way, while we were all looking elsewhere- the 11th Asian junior games were contested in artisitc gymnastics.  In the team finals the junior Japanese team took out the second place winners, China, by a lofty four points.  One must consider though, that China probably sent a regional junior team, while the Japanese may have sent their junior international.  China don't seem to expend their juniors that much if it loses training time.

Yoshino Taniguchi took first place in the all-around with the highest score on vault, while wunderkind Natsumi Sasada took fourth.  the highest ranking non-Chinese or Japanese gymnast was Uzbekistani Dilnoz Abdusulimova in fifth place.
Here is a video of Taniguchi on vault at EYOF last year.  She has good explosive power for a Japanese gymnast and nice execution though she is piked at the end.



Doha podium

 The women's vault and bar finals have been played out at Doha.  I was incredibly impressed to see South Africa's first black gymnastics champion qualify AND win vault finals using her explosive power and tidy form.  Khwela aparently nailed her landings.  Sadly, Ida Jonnsson only placed fourth.

Unsurprisingly, the two Chinese girls, Liufang and Qiushuang took the top two places on bars.  Qiushuang blew everyone out of the water with her 15.025.  Though Liufuang faltered during the exercise, her skill set was still enough to take second place with a 13.850.  It was lovely to see Bianca Dancose-Gimabattista take 3rd, though she led off. 

In potentially sad news.....

Roll by Bernard Garau

I just received an email from someone who informed me that Maike Roll has pulled out from the German National team as of yesterday.  Apparently she was unable to cope with the stress of team selection obligations any more. The article in gymmedia says 'for the time being' so perhaps she plans to return.
Maike Roll was interviewed by one of The Couch Gymnast magazine's contributors, Chris in the last month.  Things were sounding positive, and she was looking toward the London Olympic Games and her future in the sport.  Sad that things changed so quickly for her.
She was known for her lovely form and balletic execution and will be missed.
If you haven't read Chris's interview with Maike Roll, read it HERE

In shallow news....Nastia Liukin has a clothing line.  Yawn. Maybe her next BIG announcement will be that she is going to join an embroidery club or take up tap dancing.

In NCAA....The Pac-10s are being held in Tucson this weekend.  Go Bruins!

The FIG Hall of Fame is recognising some more gymnasts, including Hungarian superstar Henrietta Onodi.  I was crazy about Onodi as a child and I am yet to find a gymnastics fan that didn't love this girl.  She was incredible on floor and excellent on everything else.  Her choreography was brilliant, her execution superb and her tumbling terrific.  She rocked the 1992 Olympics with her gold on vault and silver on floor.   But it was her West Side Story floor routine that is most memorable.


Wild Rose International...... is coming up in a week or two in Edmonton Canada, which should be great as some primo Chinese will be there, including, I believe Deng Linlin, Jiang Yuyuan and Sui Lu.  It will be nice to see Jiangy back in the game after a lengthy injury time out. There will be a Canadian and Columbian team there too.  China is not bringing juniors, though. It starts on the 2nd of April.

Okay, enough for now!


Monday, March 22, 2010


Okay, I have NEVER dreamt about gymnastics before in my life, but last night I dreamt that Aisha Gerber fell off the beam!  Okay, so it seems UCLA took a bye last, and if their twitters are anything to go by, are enjoying some down time, but it seems my brain did not!

Is this a sign?  Is UCLA's beam weakness gonna lose them the crown this year?  Is Aisha going to be the one to fall?  Am I just Bruin-deprived because of the bye?  Hard to say...

One thing though, I don't mind if UCLA doesn't win Nationals this year (which is probably lucky) IF Oklahoma does!  I don't claim to know a single thing about Oklahoma really, but I do know one thing, wouldn't it be freaking awesome if Hollie Vise could finally come and GET WHAT IS HERS!?!?

In my mind UCLA should not have peaked quite as terrifically until next year, but I certainly didn't see OU coming at all!  But if it is down to Alabama and Oklahoma, please for the love of god let it be OU!!!  Alabame make me want to die of boredom.  i am sorry if you are a big fan, but I just can't take the painfully dull.

Anyway, who knows what my dream meant (probably nothing at all except my subconscious has nothing better to do than worry about the Bruins) but maybe  Aisha better start doing more reps in case the Couch Gymnast has gone all clairvoyant on y'all!


Thursday, March 18, 2010


I nearly forgot, it's DOHA World Cup time again!  I like the Doha Cup, though it hasn't quite enjoyed the elite attendance it did in the Olympic year.  I plan to go to it one day.  Maybe next year. In 2008 the meet attracted the likes of Chuso, Pavs, Linlin, Yuyuan, Kexin, Bui and Hopfner-Hibbs as they prepared for the games later in the year.  2009 saw some of the more mid-ranking European gymnasts appear with a very young Chinese in Brinker, Morel, Pihan-Kulesza, Sajn, Erceg and Yuhong.  But it is a very well put together competition in a nation where we see an interesting mix of gymnasts. It will be contested from the 22nd to the 24th of March.

(Aspire Academy where the meet is held)

Here is a little round up of some of the gymnasts we will be seeing at this year's Doha Cup;

This year we will see Tina Erceg, whose greatest fame has been for her hilarious Worlds leotard last year and her lovely floor work.  Up to compete with her on both levels, will be Slovenian Adela Sajn, known for exactly the same things!

(Erceg and Sajn in direct competition!)

One of the most exciting entrants is the brilliant Chinese gymnast Huang Quishuang (may i never have to utter her name aloud, because I am not sure I can!), the gymnast some felt certainly deserved a spot on the London World team last year after qualifying first into the AA at the Chinese national Games last year. Unfortunately she was injured at the time and could not compete. Last year she took the AA at the Japan Cup from Russian wunderkinds, Aliya Mustafina and Tatiana Nabieva quite easily, and garnering a stellat 15.350 on balance beam. 

(Huang- this pose reminds me of Bridget Sloan!!!)

She will be accompanied by Wu Liufang.  Wu, comes from the Guandong Province which I believe, Qiushuang does too, and has been a well-known junior upstart for a while in China.  She competed at the Australian Youth Olympics in 2009, placing 5th in bars (still had a low A score at the time). One the second days she won beam and placed third on floor. It will be fantastic to see how she is coming along.


Brazilian legend Danielle Hypolito will be making an appearance too, proving that she is still vying for a place in brazilian gymnastics as far as 2012 as she has claimed. Danielle is one of those gymnasts who makes me wish that South and Central America had college gymnastics (among many things I wish for those nations!) because she would have been a fierce team leader! last we heard of Hypolito, she was talking about getting liposuction to lose the extra weight she gained whilst taking time off for injury. 

World Cup stalwart Marta Pihan- Kulesza will be making an appearance again, showing off her floor skills, tough gymnastics and shiny, shiny hair.

One of my World Cup circuit favorites, the very composed Ida Jonsson Olsson of Sweden will be there.  She won vault last year with some clean, though relatively easy vaults.

(Jennifer Khwela)

Jennifer Khwela, superstar of the South African gymnastics team will be there too, showing off her stuff (more about her in next month Couch Gymnast magazine!)

Two Canadian gymnasts from Gym-Richelieu in Quebec will also be attending.  The first, Laurie Eve Pepin-Gagne, born in 1992, competed at Osijek last year.  She was thought to be a threat on bars, but wound up qualifying in second place on vault. After a rough finals, she dropped to eighth, however.  Bianca Dancose-Giambattista, born in 1994 is a rising junior in Canada.  She competed at the WOGA Classic in 2009 as a junior and placed seventh, beating out Russian and Ukrainian competitors as well as being the highest placed Canadian.

(Laurie Eve Pepin-Gagne)

Libyan gymnast, Katja Bou Aram, who competed for Libya at the 2009 London Worlds and local Qatari gymnast Alijaky Al- Habshi will also be in attendance. There will also be gymnasts from Turkey and a number from India. All in all, it is mixed, but interesting women's field for Doha.  Most exciting is probably going to be seeing how both the Chines girls are coming along.



I am sure many of you are already well and truly familiar with The Australian Gymnastics Blog. At the moment its author, Mez, has put up a petition to the Australian Sports Museum. See, a recent visit to the museum revealed to Mez that gymnastics, though it is a sport that has seen an unprecedented amount of success in the last two decades is basically ignored. Aside from a picture of Dasha Joura in a display comparing athletes heights, and something about nadia Coamneci, there is zilch, nada, nothing about gymnastics.

(the museum has a display of athletes who have competed in multidisciplines
 but doesn't include Alexandra Croak, who appeared competed
on a gymnastics and a diving team at the Olympics)

This is quite insulting considering recent successes, including three World medals last year, Monette Russo's world AA bronze in 2005 as well as some very strong Olympic showings. 
The sad fact is that I think (Mez hasn't said this) that it has something to do with being a female-dominated sport, and also not a team sport.  People just don't think of gymnastics.
Well, Mez, ever the mover and shaker, is trying to change this sad neglect by starting a petition to ask the museum to acknowledge gymsports in Australia.
Even if you aren't Australian, but want to support Gymnastics getting the recognition it deserves ANYWHERE, ppleasehead over there and sign the petition.
It takes a minute at the most, and your email is kept private.
Follow this link just below to put your name down in support...


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Okay, there has been enough said about Grace Taylor and Kat Ding's interview with Gymnastike in terms of wether it was bad sportsmanship or brattiness.  I don't necessarily want to talk about that, except to say that frankly, that, for me, it was  quite refreshing to hear some candid thoughts in among the usual psychobabble we ussually have to endure (Grace tried to return to it everty time she thought they might have gone a bit far, though) from Dawgs interviews.  If McCool had been there those girls would certainly have been whipped into interview shape! 

The bit I don't get is Taylor claiming that she isn't going to be bothered to get sad about her last meet with the Dawgs because it is only going to happen anyway. WHA?

I mean maybe it was because she was in a slightly (okay monster) pissy moody about losing to Michigan, but how could you pretend to yourself that you won't be sad about finishing something you commited four years of your life to, and for the large part enjoyed great success as a team and an individual?  Seriously?

These girls have practically been dosed with happy pills, shot up with inspirational speeches and (for the most part) sacrificed cheeseburgers in devotion to this team for the last four years of their life, how can she not at least even be brainwashed into thinking she is sad about it?  That, my friends, is one annoyed little Miss.

Seriously, I put it down to mood at the time, but sheesh, this is a gymnast in denial. 
IF she can manage to put some kind of Yoculan spin on it, she may even find a way, if they don't find the 'flow' (ugh) she thinks it is going to take to take SECs and Nationals- to pretend that her last season didn't even happen.

(I also love that it was Kat who was first to state they were robbed- and Grace chimed in.  Kat's quickly earning herself a reputation for being the least Stepford Gym Dog out there after this claim and the interview-take-down debacle.)



Hi Guys... i have fixed the link if you want to read the interview...


(no reason to add this picture except that it makes me laugh!)

Just a quick drop in to say hi and that I love how chatty you have all been this past week.  Keep up the commenting- it keeps me going!
Also, if you are interested, Trish, writer of the Olympic Sport News blog did an interview with me recently and has posted it on her blog at;

If you want to hear more of my ranting, head over there!  Also, her blog is a great source of Olympic related news and she writes about gymnastics too!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


If there ever was a gymnast in the Russian tradition who reminded me most of Svetlana Khorkina, it had to be Olga Chudina.  She had the same kind of twiggy grace, a presence of personality and a flair for performance.  Though she was such a flash in the pan (in fact,barely even a flash) that she had no chance of ever gaining the kind of attention Khorkina did, she certainly captured attention on the few occasions she did perform.  Marvellously inconsistent, but emminently watchable, I am a big fan of Olga's.

I am not one of those epople who can reel off lists of my favorites, especially in terms of floor routines, but I reckon it would be safe to say that Olga's 1987 floor routine would be in my top five, if not my top three at least.  It is extraordinary.  The chorey is so, so clever and so fitting with the music and Olga performs it with incredible flair and maturity.  It is HOT!


Injuries are the apparent reason Chudina never got to perform as much as was expected of such talent.  In fact Gymnastics Greats reported that she performed at the Champions All in 1988 on a broken ankle and though she finished fifth to qualify to the 19988 Olympic Games, she missed out due to the politics of the moment.  She is now a coach in the USA.  I wish we'd seen more of her. Watch a wobbly, but skillful beam set HERE.


Monday, March 15, 2010


John Roethlisberger claimed in his review of the American Cup for Inside Gymnastics magazine that Rebecca Bross was not blessed with the natural abilities of her predecessors.

Well, John, I have to say I disagree with you ENTIRELY!  I think if there is one thing Brossy does have, it is natural ability. What she doesn't have is a natural gymnastics body (they really are strangely shaped legs) or much natural elegance. 

For me. what causes her to still rate so highly in major competition (though Scam wasn't major and he may have been right in saying that of you pitted the international field against the best NCAA team, they may have lost) is that she has this incredible, natural ability to perform huge skills.  She is gawky and awkward in every other respect, but simply learned to tumble so hard and so high, to combine skill after skill on bars or to pull a messy but high Patterson off the end of the beam that in a scoring system such as the one we exist, the judges have no choice to pay her brand of gymnastics 

To me, natural ability is the ability to learn and perform skills.  Skills are a fact.  The other parts, body type and elegance and line are culturally and subjectively determined.  It is a fact to me that Bross can do skills.  They may not look good, but she can certainly learn them and perform them for the most part.

I think she is a stunning example of what happens when a gymnast is blessed with natural capability, but not elegance or the ideal body like a gymnast like Liukin. 

It's like that saying about how you can have a hot lover, a hot apartment and a hot job, but you can rarely get all three. It is the same in gymnastics, you can have degrees of natural ability, elegance and the body, but rarely are all at a hot level. Look at some of the others in the field.  Lopez has the ideal body in some ways, and natural ability but lacks flexibility (that back!) that make her leaps inelegant.  Raisman has the body and the skill but not the elegance. Garcia has elegance and the body but has lost some of her natural ability through growth and age.

Anyway, my point is, John, she may not have all the attributes of a Kupets, a Liukin or a McCool but she has more natural ability than any gymnast I have seen for a long time!


Sunday, March 14, 2010


UCLA defeated both Michigan State and Cal State Fullerton today with a more realistic 196.525.

Pretty great considering they went without Anna Li, while she rested and ankle injury.
  VaZam proved that she is THE hot thing this season by winning the AA with her highest accumulated score yet of 39.7.

Hopfner-Hibbs and Frattone apparently both stuck their Yurchenko vaults (9.95) and Zam scored a 9.925.  Apparently, one of the judges awarded EHH a 10 on her vault.  Wouldn't it be crappy/ironic if that was more deserving of the one she was actually granted last week?

Lichelle Wong continued her beautiful bars run this season with a 9.9 and Zam got a 9.95.

Things went to the @#$% a bit in the beam rotation where two falls were counted.  Niki Tom and, of course, Zam, were the best performers. The Bruins need, need need to work on this dropsy habit.

Floor was not bad, with Zam getting a 9.9 and EHH a 9.925.

When I wrote that post a while back about how nervous I was about how UCLA will do at Nationals, I am kind of with that person who commented, saying that they were expecting them to start taking Nationals next year when all the recruits fell more into place.  It will be quite a feat if they can win it this year.  They are scoring well, but their performances are still patchy.  Fingers crossed they can pull beam together a bit better.

Okay, bring on Pac- 10s!!!



(pic by Grace Chiu)

Kristina Vaculik is definitely proving herself to be the comeback Queen of 2010.  She clearly has the determination of Chellsie Memmel, paired with the elegance of, well,  someone who is not Chellsie Memmel (don't get me wrong- i love Chellsie!).  Not only did Vaculik win bars at Cottbus, she tied to win floor with World Cup regular Marta Pihan- Kulesza (not so regular I don't always have to re-check how to spell the last part of her name!).  Vaculik also beat out pretty Greek gymnast, Vasiliki Millousi to take silver on beam. She was calm, consistent and lovely in her leaps and turns.

Tatiana Solovyeva finally came through with the goods to win beam. 

(Diacci-pic from

It was also nice to see rising Swiss junior, Jessica Diacci take 3rd on floor.  She stepped out on her double arabian but nailed her second pass (and her third!)  Her routine is interesting because even though she is a strong tumbler (simple passes aside from the first one, mind you) they take great care to show off her flexibility too, which is nice.  You don't often get both in the same routine.  That said, she does need to make sure her leaps show the same flexibility- they are a little short at times.

But it is definitely Vaculik who was the star of this meet, finishing in the top three spots in every apparatus.

It is also terrific because Vaculik iscoached by former gymnastics Champion,Yelena Davydova, who once said it was her dream to take the Canadian team to the Olympics, or to produce a World or Olympic medallist.  Wether either of these dreams are achievable is yet to be seen, but she is known for producing gymnasts with lovely execution and artistry and this can certainly be seen in Vaculik's work.

(a young Davydova)

Watch Vaculik's floor routine. Her dance is great, her tumbling tidy and she is into it. She dances into the corners and her double tuck was exemplary.  Love her. She is going to be a hell of a great college gymnast. I am looking forward to seeing her there, and in elite until she goes.


Here too is Solovyeva's beam routine.  It's a bit shaky at first, but gorgeous.  Her back is sooo flexible in her back layout that it might almost be considered a pike- in the other direction!!!  No, she is a great beam worker and her leaps are exceptional.


Kristina V's beam was pretty too.  It may not have been as difficult as Solovyeva's, but she certainly showed that she was more confident and calm than the Russian who is much her junior.




Instead of their usual scrabbling around for bits of gymnastics news, Romanian sport magazine, Prosport magazine has allowed someone to pen a bit of a feature/opinion piece that, surprisingly, is about Elena Mukhina.

The latest article is a lengthy piece of work comparing the Soviet and Romanian schools of gymnastics.  It begins locating itself historically, telling readers how Romania came under Soviet Rule and along with Hungary and Czechoslovakia was "only good for milking" and how eventually, beating the Soviet gymnastics team (as well as any other sporting team, was the sole aim and ambition, more than beating any other team. It seemed, from what I can understand of the translation, that for a while there, the Russians would take the athletes of these nations as their own.  This stopped after a period, however.

When these nations competed against the Soviet Union, it was a way of 'avenging' their occupation.  The development of Nadia Comaneci, according to this paper, began "a terrible confrontation" between the two nations.

The paper then describes Elena Mukhina as being engineered to beat Nadia, to be a new Nadia, a Soviet Nadia.  She was  told, "You will be a heroine if you beat Nadia." She was called "Princess" in Moscow and this article focusses on the cruelty in which Mukhina was treated with in order to beat Nadia. She was pressured by trainers and government alike, who wanted her to restore honour upon the USSR.

 She was surrendered to a "Draconian" training regime, working on a fracture, taking ballet lessons with Plissetskaya ( I am pretty sure she is the one who lost the plot, thought she was Giselle or something and wound up in the loony bin) and repetitive training.  It then tells of her devastating injury.

It goes on to talk of her sad life, of her parents who wanted justice for her death, and of Maya Plissetskaya, her dance teacher.  The writer, instead of leaving readers with a video of Elena, chose one of Maya Plissetskaya dancing the 'Dying Swan' in Swan Lake, telling us that "Those who understand human ballet will understand the message contained in this peerless dance of death."

A fascinating change of direction for Prosport and really, a lovely tribute to Mukhina.


Saturday, March 13, 2010


Well, something changed at the DTB on day two of fnals.  Miss Solovyeva did not rule all at all.  Oksana Chusovitina won vault (der) even with a fall apparently.  Kristina Vaculik, 2010s most impressive comeback kid thus far came from behind to take second place.  Hungarian Renata Toth came third.  I will have to look into Toth, as I have never heard of her.

It was Krisitna Vaculik who took bars in the end, with great form and lovely fluidity apparently, and was followed by another Canadian, an up-and-comer this time, Alyssa Unick.  Marie- Sophie Preventing Man (lol I can't help it!) cam third.  Something, though the dang translation ( doing gymnastics understood however with the outlet (doppelsalto Volswagen) and assigned the victory) must have gone wrong with Solovyeva- my guess being the dismounts from that trans!  Maike Roll came fourth.  Check out scores HERE

Friday, March 12, 2010


Michigan must have sure given Georgia a shock, beating them in a low-scoring meet at 196.375 to 195.8  and in a feat of absolute amazing extraordinary efficiency, those wunderkinds of technology over at Gymnastike have already posted the vids!  Get thee to Gymnastike!  That's where I'm headed!



And, as ever, some fun translations with The Couch Gymnast!

The German live DTB Cup results show that a an interesting range of gymnasts are about for this Cup.  Tatiana Solovyeva is wiping the floor with them all in quals, qualifying first in everything but vault, which has been taken by our favorite midget, Oksana Chusovitina!
Here are the qualification results so far.

 I j'adore that Marie Sophie Hindermann translates as "Marie Sophie Preventing Man!"

One of my favorite translations, thanks to Babelfish, was "very rare Menicelli in since the behaviour, must however unfortunately after the salto Volkswagen of the bar."!!!!

Vaculik is looking really great, which is consistent with her great comeback thus far.  I am really happy to see her back.

Good to see Millousi is still showing off her stylish beam work and I believe Jasmin Zimmermann of Switzerland is there, though she didn't qualify for any event finals.  Still, it is nice to see she is there because I haven't hear hide nor hair of hair for a very long time and no one could tell me if she was injured.

Maike Roll is also doing beautifully on beam and floor.

Going on the scores, It looks like Solvyeva is going to walk away with most of the prizes, but I hope Marie Sophie PreventingMan! can challenge her on floor because she always had beautiful style and choreography.

This is vault....

1. Oksana Chusovitina (GER) - 13,900
2. Tkalcec (CRO) - 13,400
3. Vaculik (CAN) - 13,400
4. Toth (HUN) - 13,375
5. Litewka (POLE) - 13,225
6. Belak (SLO) - 13,200
7. Unick (CAN) - 13,200
8. Kysselef (SLO) - 13,100

This is bars...

1. Solovyeva (RUS) - 13,200
2. Vaculik (CAN) - 13,100
3. Sikulova (CZE) - 13,050
4. Toth (HUN) - 12,700
5. Maike roll (GER) - 12,550
6. Unick (CAN) - 12,500
7. Millousi (GRE) - 12,450
8. Marie Sophie preventing man (GER) - 12,200

This is beam....

1. Solovyova (RUS) 15,050
2. Millousi (GRE) 14,550
3. Maike roll (GER) 13,950
4. Vaculik (CAN) 13,900
5. Diacci (SUI) 12,550
6. Novak (SLO) 12,300
7. Marie Sophie preventing man (GER) 12,250
8. Volodchenko (UZB) 12,150

and this is floor;

1. Solovyova (RUS) 13,500
2. Marie Sophie preventing man (GER) 13,400
3. Maike roll (GER) 13,350
4. Vaculik (CAN) 13,100
5. Diacci (SUI) 12,950
6. Unick (CAN) 12,800
7. Volodchenko (UZB) 12,650
8. Pihan (POLE) 12,450