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!



  1. What exactly do you mean by flexibility? Like natural flexibility? I'm confused, because Bross has HUGE leaps and jumps at full split (and sometimes more). Even her sheep jump is fully creditable.

  2. I knew I'd get in trouble for putting elegance and flexibility together because you are right- she can even nail those skills brilliantly, but is simply not that elegant in doing so.

  3. I think what he was saying was more that shes a really hard worker and has worked incredibly hard to get where she is(not that every other gymnast hasnt)

  4. I agree...Bross does have the natural athletic ability. Though she also has the mental toughness and trains her @$$ off.
    If it weren't for her bowed legs, I think everyone would think she had a gymnastics "body" too. She's incredibly slim & petite, but also muscular. After all, Dominique Dawes had legs very similar to Bross's...and was a 3-time Olympian.

  5. Bowed legs would be ok (not great, but many gymnasts get away with it) on a gymnast. Bross is knock-kneed, which is more problematic. It makes her legs look perpetually bent.

  6. Dawes was a 3 time Olympian by default.

    Bross has ugly gymnastics. PERIOD. Can't deny it it. Can't debate it.

    You can't measure natural talent. There is no way that you can tell how much of anyone success is from hard work or what they were born with.

  7. small difference between her legs and Dawes'...Dawes' legs bow out and Bross is knock kneed...if she stands with her thighs/knees together, her ankles/feet do not come together...this can lead to pigeon toedness too when trying to keep feet together while doing skills. Great athlete though, needs some dance lessons though.

  8. and when Dawes stands with her legs "together", her feet/ankles are together but there is space between knees/calves/thighs. When someone is also hyperflexible, they can look bow legged if they stand and stretch their knees all the way out.

  9. Ok, Ok. Regardless...the point was Dawes had "flawed" legs that people talked about for 10 years. 3 Olympic teams by "default" or's still a feat that is near impossible. Bross won't reach 3 Olympic teams...but she is a darn good gymnast so who cares what her legs look like?

  10. nastia had the "perfect" body for ballet. i dont think shes ever done a double back flip on floor. even valeri says she is a fragile gymnast.

  11. OMW Couch gymnast thank you! I heard that article, and I just thought "huh?" I don't think there is an elite level gymnast who doesn't have some form of natural talent!!

    P.S Thank you for all the hard work, I Love your blog, and great interview!!