Tuesday, December 27, 2011

11 Worst Leotards of 2011

11. Sarah Finnegan (GAGE), Day 2 of US Championships - Photo Credit USAG

10. Elsa Garcia (Mexico), Pan American Games AA Final - Photo Credit AP 

 9. Sarah Finnegan (GAGE), Day 1 US Championships - Photo Credit USAG

8. Sophina Dejesus (SCEGA), US Classics - Photo Credit Gym Examiner

7. France, Unknown Meet 

6. Shawn Johnson (Chow's), US Classics - Photo Credit Couch Gymnast

 5. Vanessa Ferrari (Italy), Unkown Domestic Meet 

4. Ashley Foss (North Star), US Classics - Photo Credit Couch Gymnast

 3. Lauren Mitchell (Australia), Worlds Team Final - Photo Credit AP

 2. Khyla Pottenger (Arete), US Challenge 

1. Huang Qiushuang (China), Worlds Bar and AA Finals - Photo Credit Couch Gymnast

Monday, December 26, 2011

My 11 Favorite Routines of 2011

11. Ana Sofia Gomez on Beam at the Pan American Champs Event Finals

10. Nica Hults on Beam at the US Classics 

9. Aliya Mustafina on Bars at The American Cup

8. Diana Bulimar on Floor at World Championship Qualifications

7. Kyla Ross on Beam on Day 1 of Visa Championships

6. Aly Raisman on Floor at World Championships Event Finals

5. Viktoria Komova on Bars at World Championships Qualifications 

4. Katelyn Ohashi on Beam on Day 1 of Visa Championships

3. McKayla Maroney on Vault at World Championship Team Finals

2. Jordyn Wieber on Beam on Day 2 of Visa Championships

1. Sui Lu on Beam at World Championship Team Finals

Friday, December 23, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through the gym...

(Property of Paul Kim) 
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the gym,
All the gymnasts were gone even little Ashton Kim.
As I sat by the beam and composed a new post,
I heard a loud sound I thought must be a ghost.

So I looked around quickly while feeling quite scared,
And jumped a whole foot when some floor music blared,
‘Twas the worst I had heard, and I let out a squeal,
I heard George of the Jungle like Jessie DeZiel’s.

Meanwhile I’m still worried, I had not a clue,
Of who was there with me or what I should do,
So I turned around swiftly and called out “Who’s there?”
And I saw an old man with some furry white hair.

He said “Merry Christmas” and laughed “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
And wore a red hat that was covered with snow,
He told me right then that he'd help me out,
And that granting my wishes is what he’s about.

So I thought and I thought and I wrote a whole list,
And checked it again to see if I had missed,
Any hopes that I had as I sat by the beam,
And I told him my wishes for our US Team:

“Why is it true that we send all our men,
To many World Cup Meets again and again,
Meanwhile all the women just sit at home here,
And only go out for just three meets a year?”

“Also,” I said, “could you maybe change,
the selection process we all find quite strange?
 Camp after camp leaves many girls hurt,
And looking like they’ve been starving in the desert.”

Then he looked at me sadly with tears in his eyes,
And said, “No, I’m sorry,” and let out a sigh.
“Why, you’re no help at all,” I said to the old man,
“Why’d you say that you’d help me? I don’t understand!”

“Well it’s not up to me, I don’t have any say,
any more than Rybacki, Chow or Brandie Jay,
it may not make sense and it may be quite weird,
but that’s how it has been since old Marta appeared.”

“But think about this,” the man said with a smile,
“We’ve medaled each year for a very long while,
While she's not understood by you and your readers,
Maybe old Marta K. is a pretty good leader.”

Though I still had some doubts, I was full of good cheer,
so I thought I’d give Marta a break this year,
After all, if Santa can give her a chance,
Maybe I shouldn’t judge her without second glance.

As the man walked away, I exclaimed “Holy Moly!
That man isn’t Santa, he’s Bela Karolyi!”
He said something then as he left in the cold:
“Merry Christmas to all and USA for the gold!” 

The Nutcracker Gymnastic Choreography Montage

I wanted to celebrate "Christmas Eve Eve" with one of my favorite traditions, "The Nutcracker". 

The US Women are Dancing to Mother Ginger's song, The Russian to the Russian Trepak and the Chinese to the Chinese Tea! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Power Tumbling

Yesterday evening a looked at my twitter mentions and read Why isn't this in the Olympics?!” with a link to the following video:

Why isn’t this in the Olympics? Probably something about the IOC not allowing any more gymnasts (of any kind, Artistic, Rhythmic or otherwise) to join the Olympics… SHOULD it be an Olympic Sport? Absolutely.

Currently, the IOC considers Trampoline an Olympic Sport, but doesn’t include Tumbling.

I will tell you, this stuff is super impressive. Former US National Team Member Kiara Nowlin has been recorded performing as many as 12 standing fulls in a row on a regulation floor.

And that impressiveness doesn’t even account for Double Mini Trampoline. If you’re not familiar with Double Mini, it’s kind of like vaulting, as you sprint down a runway, but instead of hitting a springboard you hit a mini trampoline perform several flips, land on a second trampoline, perform several more and then attempt to stick the landing. It’s pretty phenomenal.

All in all, Artistic Gymnastics will always be my number one, but there’s something phenomenal about T&T that makes me want to keep my eyes glued to the screen. 

6 Gifts I'd Like to Give this Season

I'd like to give a class with a legitimate dance instructor on turns to the US National Team. We can exclude Vega, Maroney, Wieber and maybe a few of the juniors, but many of these girls SERIOUSLY need to clean up their turns! 

I'd like to give Vanessa Ferrari a long sleeved leo. Any long sleeved leo, as long as she promises to wear it in the AA/Event Finals of her next international competition. I don't know if she's more comfortable in short sleeves, but it drives me crazy! 

I'd like to give Lindenwood Head Coach Gretchen Goerlitz the perfect addition to her 2012 recruiting class. She's still looking for 2-4 recruits that she can add to her lineup. Could it be you? Fill out the recruiting questionnaire!  

This gift is courtesy of Jessica (@bportgym1). She had the idea to give Katelyn Ohashi a book on Chinese Ethics, hopefully coercing her onto the Olympic Team! :) 

I'd like to give Marta Karolyi 15 Plane Tickets to anywhere outside of the US to use before July 1st. Hopefully she can send some people to international assignments!  

Many of you gave your opinion about what to give Komova! (There are actually too many to mention, but nearly all of these are from you all!) I decided to give her a bathroom cabinet... complete with advil for her "sore loser", caffeine pills, hair conditioner, and for good measure, although it wouldn't be in a bathroom cabinet, an ice cream sundae! 

What gifts would you like to give this season?

(Photos property of AP, Getty Images, Couch Gymnast, GK, USAG)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

5 Things I'd Like to See Before the World Ends

(Rick of Gymnastics Coaching
According to some theorists, based on the Aztec Calendar the world will end exactly 1 year from today. While I don’t agree with those people in the slightest, here are 5 things I’d like to see in 2012, before the world is supposedly destroyed... or not.

Triple Twisting Yurchenko – Preferably from Maroney, but any Triple will be fine. The women haven’t added a half twist to the Yurchenko since 2000!

A Perfect Event Final – It’s been a while since I can remember all 8 gymnasts in an event final hitting their routines. I would adore if all of the gymnasts in the beam final stayed on!

Success for ’96 Babies - Since the girls born in 1996 couldn’t compete at Worlds this year, I’d really love if they could successfully compete in 2012. It would be fabulous if Iordache, Ross, Grishina, Sidorova and others could really shine despite their disadvantage.

Katelyn Ohashi getting international recognition – I hate that she’s a junior, but I’d love if Marta would send this girl out. Gymnix, Top Gym and Jesolo would all be fine opportunities to further expose Katelyn to the international scene.

Marta’s replacement being named – She’s slated to leave after this quad, but she may not according a recent article. I’d like to see someone new named. It will probably be Steve Rybaki, but regardless, I’m ready for change.

The First Look at Lindenwood's Gymnastics Recruits

Take a look at Lindenwood's first gymnastics class! 

In order of appearance:
-Karoline Sondov, Norway
-Trystien Charles, Gwinnett
-Alicia Floyd, Airborne
-Katie Kuehl, Team Central
-Valeri Ingui, Rockdale
-Courtney Heise, Colorado Aerials
-Daniela Fumagalli, Aerial Athletics
-Tori Beckwith, Colorado Aerials

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The 2012 Olympic Prediction Contest

I thought that it would be fun if we did an Olympic Team Prediction Contest wayyyyy in advance. So, from now until 11:59 PM CST on December 30th, you have a chance to enter our prediction contest!

Here are the rules-
1. By 11:59 PM CST on December 30th, you must submit the following via email
-Your First and Last Name (Only first name & last initial will be published)
-Where you're from (USA, Missouri, St. Louis etc)
-Your 5 Choices for the US Women's Olympic Team  (Worth 5 points a piece)
-Your 3 Choices for the US Women's Olympic Team Alternate (Worth 3 points a piece)
-Out of your 5 Choices for the Team, your choice for captain (Worth 2 points)
-Your Choice for US Women's Team Head Coach (Worth 4 points)
-As a tie breaker, what you think the Day 2 AA Score for the winner of Trials will be?
(Team Predictions who are alternates will receive 1 point, and vice versa)

2. You must submit a valid email address. This is the only way I have to contact you!
3. You may only enter once. Anyone caught entering more than once will be disqualified.
4. If there's any kind of legal mumbo jumbo forbidding you from doing this where you live due to your age or otherwise, by all means, do not participate.
5. Entries will only be accepted via email on the CONTACT ME page. Any entries submitted on Twitter or in the comments will be null and void.
6. While you do not not have to be from the US to participate, if you do not have a mailing address in the US or Canada, I'll ask that if you win, you'll meet me halfway on shipping costs for prizes.

Now for the prizes!!!

1st Place 
-2012 Fan Prize Pack (Contents TBD)
-Get a Grip T-Shirt
-The opportunity to guest blog on Get a Grip

2nd Place
-Get a Grip T-Shirt
-The opportunity to guest blog on Get a Grip

3rd Place 
-The opportunity to guest blog on Get a Grip

To ensure transparency on my part, I'll be posting all of the entries I've received on December 31, 2011 so there's no confusion in July about who predicted what. 

Happy guessing! 

Eight Crazy Nights (of Gymnastics!)

Tonight marks the first night of Hanukkah. In celebration, I wanted to share a little song with you, in the stylings of Adam Sandler!

Monday, December 19, 2011

10 things that our favorite gymnasts MIGHT be doing this Holiday Season!

After I published the Thanksgiving Edition of this post, many of you asked for a Christmas or "Holiday Season" version. Here are 10 things that our favorite Gymnasts MIGHT be doing this Holiday Season!

(Brigid McCarthy)
10. Mexican national team members decorate their gyms with their 2011 Podium Training Leos. 

9. Aly Raisman develops carb and fat free latkes, made entirely of air.  

8. Shawn Johnson gives Jordyn Wieber the cursed "World Champion" fruitcake that Khorkina gave her 4 years ago. Marta suggests that she regift it to Komova. 

7. We finally discover something with more glitter than the Rockefeller Christmas Tree: A Parkette's hair. 

6. Mary Lee Tracy recommends leaving celery out for Santa to encourage "Clean Eating"

5. Nastia Liukin surprises St. Nick when she leaves her 7 inch platform heels out for him to leave treats in. 

4. For some reason, your Christmas Hamm begins assaulting the green bean casserole and cranberry sauce. 

3. Bela Karolyi dresses up for a "Breakfast with Santa" event for children under 12. No one is surprised when Yao Jinnan shows up. 

2. An anonymous donor sends Al Trautwig, Elfi Schlegel and Tim Daggett the Gymnastics for Dummies book for Christmas. Chapters include: "How wide is the balance beam?!", "Nastia Liukin has Russian Parents" and "Losing sight of the beam is hard!!" 

1. The US National Team bonds by decorating gingerbread men. Unfortunately, it seems that all the cookies ended up breaking prior to the big decoration day. 

(Property of National Geographic, Candy Caldwell)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Season for Giving

It's been said that winter is the season for giving. I thought that I could take this time to call your attention to a few good causes that you can donate your time, money or even kind words to this Holiday Season.

(Property of Larry Nassar) 
After being blessed with his own autistic daughter, Caroline, National Team doctor Larry Nassar started the "Gymnastics Doctor Autism Foundation". Their admirable mantra: "Autism is not a problem to be solved but a potential to be realized," has encouraged many in the gymnastics community, including World Champion Team Coach John Geddert to support the cause. This year Geddert's Twistars and numerous college teams are hosting invitationals for the cause which also accepts donations.

With a mission to "offset the costs of gymnastics training by offering funding to funding to underprivileged children," Flip 4 It has earned the support of gymnastics stars like Dominique Dawes. You can help a gymnast like 11 year old Deja Chambliss who describes gymnastics as "the greatest sport anyone can ever do," and sees herself on the 2016 Olympic Podium.

Likely the most well known sports non-profit is the Special Olympics. The primary goal of the Special Olympics is to "provide year-round sports training and athletic competition ... for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  Their website encourages visitors to "get involved" in their local Special Olympic events. In my experience, just giving an afternoon can significantly influence a child's life.

There are a number of charities both related and unrelated to gymnastics. From the Children's Miracle Network fundraiser held every year by USAG to the Pink Invitational held each year, there are plenty of ways to support positive movements while strengthening the wonderful sport of gymnastics. Whether it be in or out of the sport, I truly encourage you to reach out this holiday season.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

5 Eclectic Thoughts for a Chilly Saturday Afternoon

So I had some random things that I wanted to share today. Here are the 5 eclectic thoughts thoughts that I had on this chilly Saturday afternoon!

1. I spent yesterday afternoon with Gretchen Goerlitz, head coach at Lindenwood University. It really is going to be a phenomenal program which she has some magnificent plans for. I'll be covering many aspects of their program after the first of the year and will continue coverage at least through the end of their first season.

I've got to say, this is history! The gymnastics community should celebrate the fact that for the first time in 10 years, a new gymnastics program is emerging into the NCAA.

I'd love if you'd follow their Twitter & Facebook pages, so you can be part of the history that is being made! Write about it, Talk about it, Tweet about it, Blog about it! Let's celebrate the fact that there's another gymnastics program to enjoy!

2. I'm glad people liked the Test Event Video! (Yes, it was mine!) For the record, I adore Brandie Jay and all of the jokes in this video were all meant in good fun! :) I apologize if anyone was offended.

3. If you're not watching Ginnaste, you really should be. It's like Make it or Break it, but it's less awful, no one's pregnant and the show actually documents the lives of Italian National Team Members.

4. From tomorrow until January 1st, I'll be doing holiday blogs every day. Although "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear", I decided that blogging would be a better option. Keep your eyes out for these special blogs. All of the weekly blogs ("Day in the Life", "Fresh Face Friday" etc) will resume January 2nd.

5. You all are fabulous. I can't believe we've been live for under 2 months and the blog almost is up to 100,000 hits. Keep sending your ideas, suggestions and comments to me. Nearly all of the planned content (not news) has been influenced by your ideas. Keep on sending them, because I really couldn't do it without you. I would love to hear literally any ideas that you have.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fresh Face Friday - Texas Dreams Gymnast Macy Toronjo

(Property of the Hults)
Quick Facts :
Name - Macy Toronjo
D.O.B - July 1, 1997 (Senior in 2013)
Gym - Texas Dreams
Coaches - Kim Zmeskal, Chris Burdette and Tiffany Tolnay
High School Class - 2015

Macy Toronjo is one of the 7 juniors at Texas Dreams who qualified to Championships. With a seemingly relentless smile and a unique style on beam and floor, Macy is one to watch.

After spending most of her JO Career at WGA Texans (where LeDuc, Key and Guerra all came from), Macy moved to Texas Dreams in June 2010.

I first took notice of Macy at the 2010 US Challenge where she placed 2nd in the all around. While her difficulty wasn't the highest, there was just something about her that you couldn't help but like. When she qualified to Championships this year, I knew that fans would adore her magnificent technique and glowing attitude.

This girl is going to be one hell of a college gymnast! (Miss Val, Jay, Greg, Are you listening?!) She's hoping to compete in college and her parents are planning to take her to tour campuses in the near future. 

Here's a Q & A with Macy!
What do you see as your biggest strengths and weaknesses? 
"I feel my biggest strength is that I'm powerful but still flexible. Having confidence in myself is often my biggest weakness."

How would your coaches describe you?
"Nice, Hard Worker. Kim has said I am a fighter."

What's your favorite competition you've competed in? 
"Legendz Classic as a Level 9 with WGA Texans. I got to be on the Nastia Liukin Team (2009). It was so fun!" 

Is there a gymnast who you look up to?
"Chelsea Davis."

Can you tell us about a funny or embarrassing gymnastics moment?
"There are a lot of funny moments in the gym with Chris Burdette as a coach!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Day in the Life of Casey Jo Magee

As Get a Grip reported several weeks ago, Elite gymnast Casey Jo Magee moved from Capital Gymnastics in Texas to Western Michigan to train and work as an assistant coach! 

Casey Jo's day of coaching and training provides for an interesting Day in the Life! 

(Property of Razorback Photos) 

8:15 AM: "Wake up, brush my teeth, and head to the kitchen. Every day I have my power smoothie (you can get my recipe on my website) and lately I’ve been having some sort of egg scramble with onions, bell peppers, spinach, and Canadian bacon. Sometimes with toast or an English muffin. I start a small pot of coffee while breakfast is in the works so it’s ready when my food is. Right now I’m drinking Marzipan flavored coffee, a World Market holiday seasonal. Although I think I like non-flavored better since I put a little creamer in it. Might have to ask my boyfriend Scott to mail me some Ruta Maya coffee from Austin."

9:15-9:45 AM: "By now I’m done eating with [the] dishes washed so I get my stuff together for practice. Fill up my sweet REI water bottle with Brita water (because the tap water here in Kalamazoo isn’t my favorite). Pull together a snack of sorts…string cheese and a tuna to-go or apple, baby carrots and hummus, sometimes leftovers from dinner the night before. Get dressed for gym and the semi-cold weather outside, which will soon be really cold and probably snowing. Here come the gloves, scarf, boots, and winter jacket!"

10 AM-12 PM: "Get to the gym and start warming up. Morning practice I’ll do one event hard and basics on another, switching between bars and beam. Now I’ll eat my snack as the girls start warming up for their workout."

12 PM-3 PM: "Western girls practice. With season approaching quickly I’ll be primarily coaching floor, paying special attention to the details like expression, leaps and jumps, and landings on passes. Although I really just move around to wherever I’m needed. Dave helps coach everything and wants me to shout out a correction or comment if I have one, no matter the event. Sara Kelly, the other assistant, works mostly with beam but she choreographed all the floor routines so she helps there as well."

2:30-5:15 PM: "Usually the last couple girls are finishing up their last event by 2:30 so I start warming up again for practice number two. Here I’ll do three events, as I alternate the days I flip vaults and tumble. On the days I tumble, I do uphill vault timers, and the days I flip vaults I do floor endurance and some basic tumbling. I’ll finish with some conditioning and stretching before I head home."

5:30 PM: "Home and tired. I take a shower and relax for a bit before I make myself some dinner."

6:30-7:30 PM: "Make and eat some dinner…I try to get a good source of lean protein, carbs, and veggies of some sort. Lately I’ve had rice and beans or spaghetti with meat sauce and a salad, or top a salad with sliced grilled chicken".

7:30-10 PMish: "I’ll ice a body part if it’s bothering me. Then most of my evenings are spent watching gymnastics videos, playing words with friends, surfing the Internet, and checking Facebook and Twitter. But now that I’m more settled into my apartment I plan to update my website more often. I also have been reading a lot lately. This summer I read the Hunger Games series, which was sad but so well written. So excited for the movie! And I just finished The Magicians. If anyone has any books or authors they love, please send them my way! I’m always looking for new books to read."

10 PMish: "I start getting ready for bed. I ... brush my teeth then wash my face and put on this awesome Burt’s Bees nighttime face lotion. So smooth! Then it is off to bed for me!"

This schedule is what I’m doing this week because the Western team is in finals so their practices are quite a bit shorter and lighter. Once school starts for the spring semester in January however, my days will be a bit longer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Terrible Tuesdays - "Spectaculars"?

I LOVE Hollie Vise’s gymnastics. Seriously. Little Tweenaged Bekah cried when Hollie didn’t make the Olympic team. But this, my friends, is unforgivable.

Why do they think this is okay? How much are they being paid to embarrass themselves this severely? When I initially saw this “routine”, I thought that this was as bad as it could get. Oh no, it gets worse.

Since when does an attempt sex appeal have to be part of gymnastics? I just don’t understand. Does this sell to little 10 year old girls somewhere? I guess it has to, or they wouldn’t keep doing it. But this isn’t the only option, because year after year, there’s someone who proves that it’s possible to perform, captivate the audience, and not look like a dumbass. 

I love this “Once Upon a December” routine. This is from the Olympic Gala, but she did it on tour prior to the Olympics. She does some barre work on beam, and then she actually performs a routine! Not that “high on the hill was the lonely goatherd”  bullshit. She really performs. 

Spanny wraps up my feelings on Hollie's routine pretty well in this blog

The Roe-d to JO Nationals - Pre-Season Training Updates

This week, we'll look at Haylee Roe's routines for the 2012 Season!

On Vault, she's planning to compete a Yurchenko Full, which carries a 10.0 Start Value. She's hoping to upgrade to a 3/2 Yurchenko, which is also worth 10.0, but is eligible for a .1 bonus, if landed successfully.

Her bar routine includes a Giant 1/1, a shootover uphill & a double arabian dismount. She's hoping to add a tkatchev later in the season.

Haylee's vault and bar routine can be seen in the video below!

On beam, Haylee's routine will tentatively consist of the skills in the video below. We couldn't get a video  beam and floor before the season began, but I thought this could give you a general idea of the skills that she's planning. Her 2 leap series may be switched.

Haylee's floor will include quite a bit of difficulty with a Double Pike, a 2.5, and a front layout to full along with some fairly impressive dance skills. Even more impressive are Haylee's hopes for upgrades including a Full In, a Layout to Front Rudi and a 2.5 into a front tuck!

We'll check in with Haylee again in early January when she'll be competing in her first Mock Meet of the Season!

Read part 1 of the Roe-d to JO Nationals. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bridgey Caquatto's Injury

On November 23, Anna Li posted the following picture on her twitter with the caption "Crutch Buddies":

The picture of Bridgey on crutches worried many fans and many considered her injury long term and concerning. Here's what Bridgey had to say about her injury: 
"I had to get surgery on my knee after Pan Ams. If you saw it was taped up pretty big at the meet! and I had to water down some stuff but I made it through! But recovery is going very well so far!"

This makes sense, if you'll remember, she only competed a Full Twisting Yurchenko at Pan Ams when she's been competing a beautiful Double for years now. 

Bridgey's currently taking it one day at a time in order to prevent future injury and is currently spending a ton of time on conditioning and training bars. Get Well Soon Bridgette! 

Your Questions Answered - 12/5-12/11

First, I'd like to let you know that Thursday's post will be all about 1996 girls and their Olympic chances, since literally eight of you asked about that!

Lindsay & Zoe asked about what happened to Ivana Hong. 

The last time we saw Ivana Hong after winning the Bronze Medal on beam at the 2009 World Championships was at the 2010 WOGA Classic. In March of 2010, Ivana tore her ACL during a vault verification at the American Cup Selection Camp. In October of that year, she reported that she was working skills on beam and on trampoline. After committing to the Stanford Cardinals gymnastics team, Ivana Hong did not compete in the 2011 season. I do not anticipate her returning to elite gymnastics.

Jackie asked "Are there any current 11-year-olds who will be age eligible for the 2016 Olympics that you think have the potential to make an impact?"

While we're still a LONG ways from the 2016 Olympics, the only 2000 baby who comes to mind is Elena Spenger. She won the 2011 Hopes Division of the US Challenge and had a 14.4 on beam earlier in the season. I'm sure that there will be many more to come that will make a big splash in the coming years! 

Hilde, Rachel and Jeremy asked if McKayla Maroney is training a Triple Twisting Yurchenko.

I have not officially heard whether or not McKayla is training a TTY. In a fall 2011 interview with Get a Grip, she stated that if her body were capable of anything, she'd compete the skill. She also told several sources after worlds that she'd like to add another half twist to the vault. My gut's telling me that she'll compete the Triple at some point during the 2012 season, even if it's not consistent. 

Jessica asked what happened to Lizzy LeDuc. 
Lizzy LeDuc injured her elbows prior to the 2011 Elite Season. In late fall of this year, she moved to Zenith Elite, the same gym that McKenzie Wofford competes for. Although she was rumored to have dropped down to Level 10 (she reportedly told Valeri this upon leaving), she is still training as an elite and she attended last month's National Team Training Camp. 

Keep on sending your questions! This will be the last Monday edition until the new year, but I'd love to get LOTS of new questions to start the year off right! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Lindenwood Lions - About the Program

A few months ago, I was pleased to find out that a new NCAA Eligible Gymnastics team would be launched near my hometown of St. Louis, MO. Lindenwood University, a private liberal arts college based in "Judeo-Christian Values", will begin its new gymnastics program in the 2012-2013 school year.

Get a Grip will be following the Lady Lions through their inaugural year, beginning now, working to learn more about the program, its coaches and its recruits all the way through the conclusion their 2013 season, and possibly even beyond!

I recently spoke with the head coach of the Lindenwood Lions, Gretchen Goerlitz, who competed for Utah State & University of Denver, was later a graduate coaching assistant at Texas Women's University and went on to coach Centenary College's Division III Team.

(Property of Gretchen Goerlitz)
Coming from Centenary, how did you make the decision to move to Lindenwood to build a program from the bottom up? 
"When I heard there was a university adding the sport of gymnastics I was immediately fascinated and excited.  I became enthralled with the idea of being able to be a part of making history for the sport of gymnastics. Growing the sport is something that I am completely passionate about; to be able to increase the opportunities for young women and give them a positive experience to help prepare each student-athlete for the battles of life is an incredible gift that inspires me.  The actual decision to leave Centenary and pursue the journey at Lindenwood University was one of faith.  I believe that all my past experiences have prepared me for this next challenge – and because of that , this is where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing.  I have faith that I am prepared for it and that I am the right leader for the job."

How does a coach begin to recruit gymnasts to a program without any history what so ever? 
"Just like anything, you begin with the end in mind and take it one step at a time to reach your end goals!  After the school announced the addition of the program there was a trickle of interest and I began from there, from answering all the emails and phone calls that I received and it has continued to gain momentum from there!  When it’s time to make a decision of what girls are the perfect fit for this program, I look at the end goal of where I want this program to be in five years and get my answer from that.  As a whole, I think the more we can promote the addition of a gymnastics program at a university the better off our sport is going to be.  I hope this will be a springboard for other schools to add gymnastics. I am looking at this as a building process as something that will benefit the entire sport of gymnastics and those involved in it.  Going into club gyms is great exposure and once recruits come onto campus they really feel and understand the excitement and uniqueness of Lindenwood University and the opportunity that there is here.  After an offer is made, it really comes down to the type of person that I am recruiting for them to make a decision.  I look for girls that are inspired by challenges and who thrive in an environment where hard work and great team chemistry is the norm.  I pay close attention to the character of each girl. I try to fit them all together like puzzle pieces to ensure we have a phenomenal environment where we can have fun, grow together, and push each other on a daily basis."

What should draw gymnasts looking for a school to Lindenwood both academically and athletically? 
"Lindenwood University offers a first class education of a small private school with the amenities of a larger university.  Our class sizes do not exceed 35 students, with the average ratio being 17:1 yet we have 27 NCAA sports, excellent facilities, and 84 programs of study that are offered at the undergraduate level.  What’s different about us is that we are in a building phase rather than a maintenance phase.  Many schools are scaling back on programs and resources and we are actually on the other end of the spectrum.   There is an excitement here with all the growth and there is an expectation for greatness.  We are in an ideal location – 10 miles from an international airport, in a safe community yet close to a big city – there is always something going on and definitely something for everyone, and we reside in the middle of the country making team travel convenient!  The athletic department as a whole is on a mission for greatness and the gymnastics program is going to be a great addition to that quest for success.  Being a spectator sport located in the St. Louis metro area I believe we will have fantastic fans and support.  I expect the team to grow into a close knit family unit. We get to be the history makers; it’s going to be quite the ride!"

Lindenwood is still looking for 2 recruits for its first season, so if you're looking to become involved in college gymnastics and you think that Lindenwood could be a good fit for you, fill out their recruiting questionnaire!

Next stop on this feature, we'll be talking to many of the recruits on Lindenwood's Squad, as well as showing you the inside of their gymnastics facility.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fresh Face Friday - Germany's Janine Berger

Quick Facts : 
Name - Janine Berger
D.O.B. - April 21, 1996 (Senior in 2012)
Gym/Club - Iz-Ulm, SSV-Ulm 1846
Coaches - Gabor Szücs and Krisztina Prémuz

Janine Berger is a rising senior who trains in Ulm, Germany, which is about halfway between Augsburg and Stuttgart. She trains with 6 other girls for a little over 30 hours a week.

At this summer's European Olympic Youth Festival, Janine helped her team to win the Bronze medal. She's the 15 year old champion of Germany, and her AA Score places 5th amongst all age eligible German Gymnasts.

Janine really shines on her favorite event, Vault. She won the event at the European Youth Olympic Festival with a Tsukahara Full and a Handspring Rudi. Her 14.25 score would have qualified her in 6th to the Vault Finals at this year's World Championships and just may earn her a spot on the Olympic Team!

Here's a Q&A with Janine - 

How did you begin Gymnastics?
I began gymnastics when I was 4 because I was in a dance group and I wanted to do some special things like a back handspring. Because of this my parents enrolled me in gymnastics.

What do you see as your biggest strengths and weaknesses? 
My strengths are my springiness and my ability to stay calm. My biggest weakness is beam but I'm working on it so I can be strong on all events. 

How would your coaches describe you? 
My coaches would describe me as very eager, a little bit stubborn and sometimes very funny. 

What gymnasts do you look up to? 
My favorite gymnast at the moment is Jordyn Wieber, but my idol is Shawn Johnson. 

Can you tell a funny or embarrassing gymnastics story?
Once, I tried to start my beam routine and I fell during the mount. I didn't want to continue the routine, so I left! 

All Photos are property of Janine Berger. Some answers were rephrased without changing the meaning to better handle the language difference.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Your Questions Answered - Will Bross Make the Olympic Team?

Nicole Asked: "I was just wondering what is your opinion on the chances of Rebecca Bross making the Olympic team? And just all around what you think of her."

(Property of Vanessa Steck)
I'll be honest when saying that Rebecca Bross is not my favorite gymnast, nor has she ever been. While her form, specifically on bars, has always bothered me, I do appreciate her determination and talent. Had you asked me if I thought that she'd make the Olympic Team a year ago, my answer would have been a definite "yes".

I wish that I could say that I still thought that Rebecca Bross would make the Olympic Team. I want her to make the Olympic Team. If I had to give her a percentage, I’d say she has a 50/50 shot.

The primary reason right now, is of course, the knee injury which she sustained at the 2011 Visa National Championships. People have said that she may not have time to prepare before the Olympics. That’s not my only concern. I’m more worried about the fact that she may be pacing herself too quickly and not taking enough time off. (Becca was at camp in late November conditioning and working bars.) She could hurt herself a second time.

Bross is known for her reoccurring injuries. Back, foot, knee, it seems like the only person who’s injured more than Becca is Chellsie Memmel. While she had relatively healthy seasons in 2009 & 2010, in her current state, I, unfortunately, anticipate Becca being injured again.

If Becca is healthy in 2012, I truly hope that she can compete consistently. I’d suggest that she get rid of the Patterson dismount. As you’ll see in the video below (with highly dramatic background music), she's struggled with it for years. 

I can't see Marta putting up this kind of risk in an Olympic Team Final.

Her strong Bars and Floor could help her to earn a spot, but will it be enough?

Here are the 4 things that I think Becca needs to make the Olympic Team:
1. She needs to get back to 100% health wise. 
2. She needs to get rid of the Patterson dismount, or she needs to hit all of the time. 
3. Her Double Twisting Yurchenko needs to be consistent. (This is the least important of the 4)
4. She HAS to stay healthy for the rest of the season.