Monday, October 31, 2011

NCAA Commits: Class of 2013 Elites

The Class of 2013 who are currently Juniors in high school: Where are they headed? 

Claire Boyce - Florida
Gym: Texas Dreams
About: Nationals in 09-10, Back Injury in 2011. She has beautiful lines!

Briley Casanova - Michigan
About: Former Jr. National Team Member, Great on Bars, Injury in 2011.

Amanda Jetter - Alabama 
Gym: CGA
About: A 3 time National Team Member, Perpetually injured but insanely talented.

Emma Sibson - Penn State
Gym: Zenith
About: Sibson is a strong "power gymnast" who's been an elite for 2 years now.

Gym: Brandy Johnson's 
About: Morgan was a 3 time national team member who's a strong all arounder. She didn't compete in at Championships in 2011. (She was considered to be class of 2012, but is is now class of 2013 per her website & GymDivas.) 

What about the Elites who haven't committed?: 

Jessica Howe
About: Qualified as an elite in 2011, competed at Championships.
Prediction: According to someone cool in the comments below, she is " fielding offers from UF, UCLA a

Sophia Lee
About: Great on Bars, she's been an elite since '09. May have a foot injury currently.
Prediction: Utah. Maybe because she has a Corrie Lothrop quality to her, or maybe because I just have a hunch, but I can see Sophia at Utah!

Hallie Mossett
About: She was an Alternate for the Pan Ams team, a 2 time National Team Member and a strong floor worker!
Predictions: As she's a Califonia Native, my first instinct says that Hallie would go to UCLA. She's visited along with UCLA commit Asi Peko and rumored commit DeJesus.

Sabrina Vega 
Gym: Dynamic
About: World Team Member, 4 time national team member, great lines and artistry.
Predictions: I can't picture Vega on many NCAA Teams, but I could see her at Stanford where gymnasts like Ivana Hong, Allyse Ishino and Sami Shaprio have gone.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The 11 Most Awkward Gymnastics Moments of 2011

11. You know that moment when you all show up to prom and you’re wearing the same dress as 3 other girls?
(All Photos Property of USA Gymnastics)

10. Worley Misses the High Bar (@thesplitleap)
Shayla Worley was supposed to be the star of Georgia. Unfortunately, no gymnast since Kristie Phillips failed to meet expectations so severely. This one takes the cake though, as Worley fails to mount the high bar. Last time I was in a gym, even I could do that.

9. Peña’s Pan Ams Mishaps
After Peña struggled on her Handspring Double Front Vault at Worlds, most people in the gymnastics community thought one of two things: Either her struggles were a fluke or she’ll water down her vault. Nope. In both AA & EF Peña kept on falling/kind of landing and looks surprised when she does. I think she’s the only one who’s surprised at this point. Everyone is waiting for her to get severely injured; I hope she waters down before she does.

8.  Anna accepts Alicia’s Medal
This is only number 8 because Anna handled it so well. When Alicia Sacramone tore her Achilles, Marta oddly didn’t call her in as a bar worker. She DID however, call her in to accept Alicia’s Medal on the podium. If it would have been me, I’d have punched a bitch. Too bad Anna Li seems like the nicest, most gracious person on earth.

7. Wieber wins SCAM and Afan wins Floor at Worlds (Omelianchik100)
While both Wieber and Afansayeva had great performances in their respective competitions, something’s just plain uncomfortable about a gymnast winning a competition that she didn’t qualify for in the first place. No rules were broken, but the whole situation is a little awkward.

6. Nastia’s Inside Gymnastics Interview
While I'm sure that Nastia meant well, telling the press that she gave the girls a “pep talk” that brought the “spark back in their eyes” was really uncomfortable, even if it was true. Many fans also argued that it was INCREDIBLY bad timing for her to officially announce her comeback just after the US Team competed amazingly. 

5. Al Fong claims that his gymnasts will make the Olympic Team
(Property of GAGE Gymnastics)
And just when I started to think Al Fong was mellowing out… In an interview after Championships, Gymnastike asked him how he thought his gymnasts would fit into the picture of 2012. A NORMAL coach might said, “We’re gearing up for 2012 and I’m hoping that my gymnasts can do well next year.” But Al Fong is no normal coach. He said: “Two of my athletes are Olympic Eligible, and we intent to make the Olympic Team.” That’s just something you don’t say in the USA. John Geddert hasn’t said it, so Al Fong who has two good (but not great) Juniors should probably keep his mouth shut.

4. Announcer calls Aja-Monet Sims “Hallie Mossett” at Classics
(Property of Gym-Style)
This moment was incredibly awkward because everybody KNEW how awkward it was at the time. As Aja-Monet Sims prepared to salute the judges on uneven bars, (she has a really great Weiler-Comaneci combo, by the way) the announcer called Aja Monet Sims, Hallie Mossett. Aja looked awkwardly at the judges in a “Am I supposed to be here?” way, and then the judges looked back realizing how awkward the mistake was. (These were 2/3 African American Girls in the Senior Division.) The judges waited for a second before giving her the green flag, but the announcer never corrected himself.

3. Chinese wear the 2012 Champion Shirts at Worlds

(Photo Property of SI)
2. NBC’s coverage of Bross’s injury (@Tsukthepain)
As if severe injuries aren’t traumatic enough for everyone involved, after Bross dislocated her kneecap, unsure of what to do, NBC played nearly 3 minutes of reaction shots. From Nastia covering her face, Chellsie shaking her head and Carly Patterson saying, “It hurts me”, this was possibly the most uncomfortable 3 minutes of television I’ve ever seen. Maybe this raw coverage of Bross crying will help wake us up to the dangers of the sport? It was still awkward and uncomfortable.

1. Komova thinks that she won, Mom freaks
I loved the 2011 Worlds AA Competition. It’s been a while since we saw such a close competition where we knew it could go either way. However, if the whole .033 difference was awkward enough, Komova was a REALLY sore loser about it. There are cultural differences, but in my opinion, no Silver medal winner was this unsportsmanlike since Khorkina in 2004. I understand that being 16 is hard, and that missing gold by only .033 is even harder. But, Mama Komova didn’t have to call foul with the judges. The situation seemed really awkward for everybody! 

You all gave me great ideas! Thank you! Keep sharing your story ideas in the future! 

Happy Birthday Nastia!

Today is Nastia's 22nd Birthday. Let's look at some Nastia fashion moments in her honor.

 The Bad: 

Nastia in some sketchy heels! 

Nastia in some Daisy Dukes... 

Nastia in the least Nastia like outfit I've ever seen...

Nastia holding a... bra? Or, Something? Also, she's got a bump-it. 

The Good: 

Nastia in a pretty Max Azaria Dress! 

Nastia rockin' it at the ESPYs.

Nastia just looking fierce as hell! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

10 Insiders' Opinions of Camp and Marta's System

The premise of the feature was to find out what the coaches, gymnasts and USA Gymnastics staff really think about the National Team Training camp. Of course, no one would say their true feelings if their names were released along with their opinions so each respondent was promised anonymity. 

All of these are straight out of the mouths of Elite Gymnasts, Coaches and Other Staff Members. Answers have only been edited for spelling, grammar and to ensure anonymity. 

“I think the results speak for themselves. The camps serve a very valuable purpose and are instrumental to the success of the USA program.”

“I look forward to the training camps and so do my athletes. It is an incredible learning environment and it is where we bond as a team.”

“All good. [The person I coach with and I] are both supportive of the camps and their obvious results. The ‘rumors’ are so hyperbolic.” 

“I definitely feel the camps are beneficial. Without them, I don't think the U.S. Would be as great at gymnastics as we are today. The trainer that is there does a very good job with helping everybody stay healthy.”

“I feel like the gymnasts getting injured is not because of Marta or her Training Camps, but because of the gymnasts own destiny. Plus that's the name of the game sadly, it's keeping your body healthy, and training very hard at the same time. I wouldn't blame anybody because that's just mean.”

“Of course the sport of gymnastics will always have injuries and all of coaches and athletes are aware of this. The US team is by far one of the strictest, if not the strictest team, out of all the countries, which can take a tough toll on all of the gymnasts bodies during a big competition time. Not only physically, but the mental aspect of it is what is exhausting. With Marta's system, it is extremely tough, but that's what it takes to be the best athlete and the best team in the World. Being prepared physically and mentally to become the best that you are capable of being. Having the confidence of knowing you've pushed through the worst of workouts and can still make your routines, you're mentally prepared for the routine at a competition. The training camps are intense, but if you don’t train and practice with that intensity, how can one feel fully prepared and confident going into a competition with any circumstances that may come about. People got injured, but it didn't matter because every girl on the Worlds team was prepared in every even that they trained. It's the nature of our sport to have injuries. We train and compete on broken bones, torn muscles, or ligaments, but its all the hard work and dedication that we've put into it Every single day, that makes no one want to give up when you're finally reaching your life long dream and goal. The National Team Training Camps and Marta's system is brutal but I know it's her ways and opinion on reaching success and it has proven to do so. She tries to do what's best for the team and USA always ends up on top, regardless of injuries.”

"Well, I think that having two selection camps was probably not necessary. Maybe one would have been better. ...  But it was definitely interesting hearing Martha say that having the mock competitions at the camps helped decide whether or not to put Gabby Douglas on the team, and she clearly benefited from that. I mean I don't have an answer to what would be better, but I feel like there has to be other options. ... Most people tend to do better when they're enjoying what they're doing. Why not make them a little more fun and semi-enjoyable? It's still possible to work hard and get things accomplished in that setting. I mean, that may not be the answer either but that's just my take on it. At least that's my personal preference.
I will add though, that obviously something worked, since we just won Gold even after losing  Alicia two days before and the other injuries and circumstances." 

“From all my experience, it's no one's fault anyone gets injured. Its the nature of the sport and sure there are smarter ways to train and less smart ways to train but everyone has a personal coach who ultimately makes their training decisions and knows their body. It just stinks that the human body isn’t made to with stand the numbers and training required to succeed at that level. Its brutal but its what it takes and we are all so willing to do it!!”

“I don't think it has to do with training camps, or Martha. I think it just has to do with the numbers you put in your body and what you do when you train at home. At the training camps your body does get sore but it's just because you try different things. Injuries just happen sometimes.”

“Personally I don’t think has anything to do with Marta and the training camps I think sometimes injuries just happen. It may be because of all the hard hits you take while training at home. Even though we do have many camps I know that does make our bodies hurt a little, but not a ton, at least not for me.”

So what I understand from these responses: Camps are a necessary evil of being an elite. They help the team as a whole, but the girls often leave sore.

This can also be found on the International Gymnast Forum here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pan American Games - Beam Finals

(Grace Chiu)

Can someone explain to me what world the judges were living in? In my opinion, 3 girls got up and hit routines with tiny tiny errors, 2 had a little bit larger errors and 3 girls fell off the beam.  In what world does a girl who fell get to medal over girls who hit beautiful routines?

The scoring system is what it is, so let's just disregard D scores for the time being. WHERE were the nearly two points of deductions in Gomez and Vaculik's routines? I legitimately thought that they'd both score in the high 8s, maybe even in the low 9s. They both scored in the low 8s. I don't see it.

(Property of GymCan, Grace Chiu) 
Karla Salazar, had a good routine, with minor errors and (gasp) actual choreography. She somehow scored in the 7s. While Daniele Hypolito fell and scored about .5 less than Salazar's E Score.  Jessica Gil Ortiz fell of the beam and got a 6.5 E Score.

It's not that I don't like Hypolito (I do, I promise!), that I have a problem with the code, or that I think that the judges were cheating one particular country. I just feel like the judges were all over the place. Vaculik bobbled ONCE, if I remember correctly, and it was small! How does that deserve an 8.125? I'm not a judge, and don't claim to be, but something seems out of whack here.

In any case, congratulations to all three of the medalists, and to all of the competitors who gave us beautiful routines today.

Jordyn Wieber Goes Pro

(Photo Property of Intl Gymnast, Debbie Poe)
Wow. Jordyn Wieber announced to the Detroit Free Press this morning that she will be forfeiting her College Eligibility. I'm kind of surprised by this news as she said at Visa Championships that she wanted to compete in College. I could have seen her at UCLA, Florida, or even Michigan, but today, she gave that up. Geddert made a good point by saying that he couldn't really see her competing watered down routines 14 weekends in a row. That definitely sounds true.

Shawn turned Pro in 2007 after she won worlds, never looked back and look how much she's earned. I just hope that this doesn't turn into a Jana Bieger, "I'm going to earn 143 dollars" type thing. Ordinarily, I wouldn't think Jordyn in that light, but her mom said in the article:

"We want to keep distractions at a minimum as she trains for the Olympics. In the future we might look into representation." 

What?! I want Jordyn on my McDonald's cup! Why are you giving up your eligibility then?! There isn't that much prize money out there. I'm happy she turned pro and can't wait to see what sponsorships she receives. I just hope that she doesn't wait to get an agent until her biggest opportunities are over. For Jordyn's sake, hopefully those biggest opportunities won't come until after the 2012 Olympics.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pan American Games - Uneven Bars Finals

(Grace Chiu)

Remember when people used to win Bars with scores of 16.9? Yeah, I know it was a totally different scoring system then, but I miss it. 

(Grace Chiu)

Today's bar podium consisted of the 4 girls who competed in today's final without major mistakes. The girls from Mexico, Garcia and Cantu tied for the Bronze medal. Garcia, who has problems pirouetting in handstand, has great releases and a strong dismount which helped her earn a 13.625. Cantu, whom she tied with, competed a slightly easier routine with better form. 

Shawn, bless her heart, really wants that Weiler kip to work. She'll get there, but she's struggling right now on getting it together. She stalled and muscled through a few skills in TF and EF. In any case, she did a good enough job to earn the silver medal and only missed the gold by .025 WITH an error. Not too shabby, if you ask me. 

Caquatto is now on a gold streak which is pretty cool, if you ask me! Her 14.525 was well deserved, and to be honest, I think her 8.525 E score was a little low. It earned her the gold anyway, and Caquatto is undefeated! (Did you know that Yesterday was her first AA title as an elite, EVER?) 

Who was the biggest upset today? 

Peng Peng Lee made a major mistake for the third consecutive competition since coming to Guadalajara. What's sad is that she's totally capable of medalling and possibly even winning these competitions but she keeps making fairly major mistakes. Unfortunately, her Pan Am Experience is over and we'll hopefully see her in 2012. 

Pan American Games - Women's Vault Finals

(Grace Chiu) 

Today's Vault final had no big surprises. Brandie Jay of the USA won the title followed by Mexico's Elsa Garcia and Escobar from Columbia.  As Spanny Tampson noted earlier this afternoon, now all three of the USA's 2 Vault competitors now have an international title. There's no doubt that I (and many other fans) miss Jade Barbosa and wish her a speedy recovery, but overall, the girls did well. While the field was slightly disappointing without any Amanars and only two DTYs, I have to respect the girls and their coaches for the high E scores in comparison. All the girls hit mid to high 8s and half of the girls reached a 9.0. You have to respect them for that. 

The same cannot be said for Yamilet Peña Abreu, a gymnast from the Dominican Republic who attempted the Handspring Double Tuck. As only one of few women ever to attempt the vault, she immediately gained my respect when I heard about her earlier this fall. "Wow," I thought to myself, "a gymnast from a minor gymnastics country competing such a difficult vault!" Well, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Of the 5 different occurrences that I've seen her vault, she's fallen twice and never, ever had a non-scary landing. Every single vault looks like she's going to tear a ligament, or worse. Seriously, If you're taking a vault to your back 40% of the time that you do it in competition, and looking like your going to break something the other 60% of the time, Why are you doing it? Even when she landed the vault, her highest E score of the season was a 7.9. She competed a watered down vault in Prelims and still ended in Bronze Medal Position. Why take the risk when your body, your reputation and possibly even your life is at stake? 

Watch her Worst Vault of the season: 

And her best: 

Do you think that it's worth it? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pan American Games - Women's All Around Finals

(Photo Property of Grace Chiu, USA Gymnastics) 

In this afternoon's All Around Final, American Bridgette Caquatto took the gold medal to continue on the umpteen year streak of Americans winning the All Around. Ana Sofia Gomez took the Silver, Kristina Vaculik the bronze. What I really enjoyed about this all around was the vast variety of strengths amongst the leaders. First Place Caquatto lead on Bars while Gomez's struggled on bars and hit beam.

(Grace Chiu)

Peng Peng Lee caused a little bit of an upset when botched her full twisting Pak Salto, smacked her foot and only got a 12.9 on bars (vs. 14.275 in Prelims). Her prelims bars score in finals would have earned her the gold by less than a tenth.

Most importantly, I LOVED the wonderful sportsmanship that the competitors showed. I adored everything from US Coach Jiani Wu congratulating Peng Peng on a strong floor routine to all 3 of the girls on the podium smiling (isn't it sad when that's an accomplishment?).

Pan American Games - Sandra Collantes' Injury

(Photo property of Grace Chiu, USA Gymnastics)
EDIT: The lovely person in the comments below shared this video of Sandra's injury. Her injury was on her double pike dismount on which she hit her neck on the bar. It IS a little disturbing, so if you're the queasy type I don't recommend that you watch it. Anonymous in the comments makes a good point saying that the entire routine looked out of her ability.

I'm currently about halfway through my blog about the All Around Final, but I wanted to go ahead an touch on a potentially very serious injury that occurred today. Sandra Collantes, a competitor from Peru fell on bars and according to the associated press suffered injuries to her legs, neck and back. (There are pictures of her on the link that are a little bit disturbing, so just prepare yourself.)

I'd like to start off by saying that my heart goes out Collantes, her family and her coaches. It isn't my intent to play the blame game, I just want to start a conversation.

In prelims Collantes scored a 48.625, which leaves her over 5 points short of what is needed for a senior to qualify to USA's Visa National Championships. In the USA, Collantes would have never qualified as an Elite.

But you can't compare the two! Things are different in Peru. It's like comparing apples to oranges, right?

Wrong. Sandra Collantes competed at this year's JO National Championships for Excalibur, the gym which produced Gabrielle Douglas, Marcia Newby, Randy Stageberg and many others. Although she's competed internationally for Peru since at least 2009, she's also been competing for the Virginia gym and she even won the Senior B division of Region 7.

When looking through her scores, both Elite and JO, one thing is fairly consistent throughout: her bars scores. From her 10.25 in Pan Ams Prelims to a 6.6 at an invitational this spring, Sandra has consistently had low scores on bars. She has had a few 9.1s & 9.2s, but these are outnumbered by the lower scores.

While I'm not, nor have ever been a gymnastics coach (I did sub for Cartwheeling Cubs classes when I worked at the Y, haha,) I have to wonder: if you have a gymnast who is struggling at the JO level on bars, why would you encourage her to compete bars at an even higher level? Plenty of Gymnasts don't compete all four events and Sandra could have just as easily competed 3 events and spared herself possibly career ending injuries. She also could have stayed a Level 10, and potentially received a college scholarship.

There's not very much information on Collantes out there, so I'm not completely sure if she was born in the US and competes for Peru in a similar way that Gebeshian or Church did or if she moved from Peru to train with the coaches at Excalibur. Regardless, I think that USA has a good system to qualify for elite. In addition to reaching an optional score, girls are forced to get a minimum of an 8.75 average on compulsory routines. That way they make sure that you can hold a cast handstand before encouraging you to do a tkatchev.

I admittedly have not seen a video of the injury, and do not even know what skill it was on. Perhaps it was a freak accident and had nothing to do with coaching or skill choices. In any case, I wish Sandra a speedy recovery and a quick return to the sport.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pan American Games - Day 1

(Photo property of Grace Chiu, USA Gymnastics)

I, like many gymnastics fans at the moment, am dealing with some very conflicting feelings. If you weren't following gymnastics this afternoon, the USA won the team title at the Pan American Games as everyone around the world understandably expected. However, what people around the world didn't expect was the USA's lead only consisted of two points, Johnson's double fall on beam, and DeZiel, who is a first year elite, leading the US on each event that she competed. While the US should certainly be commended for their first place win as well as their standings on vault and bars, I can't help but be disappointed in the fact that not 1 US Gymnast qualified for beam finals. In fact, DeZiel was the highest beam scorer and she placed 16th. Unfortunately, this means that for the first time in at least 10 years, the a US Gymnast will not win the Beam Title at a Pan Am Event. 

(Photo property of Grace Chiu, USA Gymnastics)

To be honest, I have NO IDEA what Marta's thinking at this point. Are her feelings mixed like mine? Is she pleased with the team win? After all, she does always say that "it's all about the team". I'm at a loss. I asked the Twitterverse what they thought Marta was thinking, and the answers were all across the board. 

@Laura722: "they won by over 2 points, no big deal"

@TommyStark11: "shes thinking "THIS is our B team?!?!?!" Then she swears a bunch in Romanian"

@caseymagnesium: "I think she is currently forging a birth certificate for Katelyn Ohashi... that's what I would be doing."

@BTOgymblog: Thank god I chose the girls I did for worlds! Or WHY DID MY FEED NOT WORK?

That feed was horrendous, wasn't it? Oh well, at least it's free coverage. The point is, there's no way to know what she is really thinking, or whether today's performances will have any positive or negative effect on the girls' future assignments. 

Looking forward into Wednesday's All Around, 2 girls from the USA qualified: Brandie Jay in 5th and Bridgey Caquatto in 4th. The girls in medal position included Ana Sofia Gomez of Guatemala, a first year senior whose DTY and strong beam helped her qualify first, Peng Peng (Christine) Lee of Canada who finished 19th in World All Around final and her teammate, Kristina Vaculik, a gymnast for Stanford who may have qualified for the World AA Finals, had she hit in prelims. 

My predictions for the Podium: 
1. Bridgette Caquatto (Not just because I love USA, but today's score was in fact, her season low) 
2. Peng Peng (Christine) Lee 
3. Ana Sofia Gomez 

In my opinion, two girls have a shot at the Vault gold medal, USA's Brandie Jay and the Dominican Republic's Yamilet Peña. Peña, who qualified for the World vault event finals, only attempted a handspring tuck today, but landed a handspring double tuck (SV 7.1) in Worlds Qualification. In finals however, she took it to her back and received a zero. I'm not sure whether or not she'll go for it in finals, but if she does, and lands it, the gold isn't necessarily  hers. If she lands the vault the was she did in Worlds Prelims and gets a 15.0, she'd still fall a few tenths short of Jay's 2 vault average. If she lands it well though, I don't think there will be any argument. Regardless, Today she qualified 3rd without it. 

If I had to guess the podium:
1. Yamilet Peña Abreu (I've got a hunch!)
2. Brandie Jay
3. Elsa Garcia (of Mexico) 

The USA would have qualified all 4/5 of their gymnast to bar finals if the 2 per country rule didn't exist. Unfortunately on this event, it does. Caquatto and Johnson will compete in finals for the USA while  Peng Peng Lee of Canada qualified in 3rd with a score over 14. The next qualifier, Marisela Cantu, the next highest qualifying competitor qualified more than 6 tenths lower than Lee. For this reason I believe that the top 3 qualifiers will be the medalists. If history has shown us anything in the past, it's that when she disappoints herself and others, she goes out and she redeems herself. For this reason (and also because I know that she can get rid of that stall she had) that I think Shawn will take the Bars Title. 

Podium Prediction: 
1. Shawn Johnson 
2. Bridgette Caquatto
3. Peng Peng Lee 

While the US didn't qualify any girls to the beam final, it's still a pretty interesting field! Ana Sofia Gomez (Guatemala) is the clear favorite (watch for her beautiful Back Walkover into a Full), but Vaculik (Canada), Gil Ortiz (Columbia), Salzar & Estrada (Mexico) all had routines that could potentially medal. Canada's Peng Peng Lee and Talia Chiarelli tied for 4th place, so I'm not sure which one they'll put up in finals and to be honest, I'm not really sure what the rules say about it all. The wonderful blogger at Tsuk the Pain believes that it's the highest E score, which would send Chiarelli to the finals. 

Anyway, here are my predictions: 
1. Ana Sofia Gomez 
(Insert Lee here, if she goes up in finals! Her 4th Place finish was with a fall!)
2. Kristina Vaculik (Even her 8.675 Qualification E score seems a bit low) 
3. Jessica Gil Ortiz 

(Photo Property of Thomas Scheyer)

And finally, we come to floor. I'll be honest, I wasn't really very impressed by any of the gymnasts' floor routines today. It seemed like most of the girls either were incredibly sloppy, made fairly major mistakes or had awful choreography and music. My projected winner falls in the third category. 

Podium Predictions:
1. Mikaela Gerber (Canada) 
2. Elena Torres (Cuba) 
3. Kristina Vaculik (Canada) 

(Photo property of Grace Chiu)

These are all just guesses, of course. I'm not psychic, I honestly don't know that much about gymnasts from Cuba and the Dominican Republic and unlike Komova's mother, I haven't heard the judges talking in the lobby. What predictions do you agree with? Which ones do you think I got totally wrong? Let me know! It will be fun to find out who wins! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Funday - "Totally Looks Like"

In honor of the most fun, and best day of the weekend (Okay... maybe not...), I wanted to start a blog tradition of adding aspects of humor having to do with gymnastics each week. This week I've assembled and created some Totally Looks Like Memes having to do with gymnastics. 

 (^Created by Lindsay K)

 (^Created by Chelsea-N-Grant)

(^Created by lincolnwashere)

Do you have an idea for a gymnastics "Totally Looks Like"? Leave it in the comments section and you may see it here in the future! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Sneak Peek for an IGF Feature!

I'm currently working on a really cool feature to post on the International Gymnast Forum but I wanted to give everyone who's been kind enough to follow my blog a sneak peek! 

The premise of the feature was to find out what the coaches, gymnasts and USA Gymnastics staff really think about the National Team Training camp. Of course, no one would say their true feelings if their names were released along with their opinions so each respondent was promised anonymity. 

While I haven't finished compiling and formatting all of the responses, I wanted to give you all a sneak peek of one of my favorite responses. 

The following is the opinion of one US Elite Gymnast: 

"Well, I think that having two selection camps was probably not necessary. Maybe one would have been better. ... 

But it was definitely interesting hearing Martha say that having the mock competitions at the camps helped decide whether or not to put Gabby Douglas on the team, and she clearly benefited from that. I mean I don't have an answer to what would be better, but I feel like there has to be other options. ... Most people tend to do better when they're enjoying what they're doing. Why not make them a little more fun and semi-enjoyable? It's still possible to work hard and get things accomplished in that setting. I mean, that may not be the answer either but that's just my take on it. At least that's my personal preference.

I will add though, that obviously something worked, since we just won Gold even after losing  Alicia two days before and the other injuries and circumstances." 

This is just one of the many responses that will be coming soon!
Join the  International Gymnast Forum if you haven't yet. It's free and open to everyone! 

Pan Ams Preview - The US Team

While waiting for The Pan American Games to begin Monday,  I realized how bizarre of a team this is. This is the first international assignment for 3 of the girls, 1 girl has been to some big yet low stakes meets, while 2 more have taken the title of World All Around Champion and were on the 2008 Olympic Team. Wow. This is weirder than the 2008 Pacific Rim Competition when Rebecca Clark and Darling Hill shared the stage with Nastia Liukin. 

Now, information is limited  due to the fact that the competitors are without internet and few bloggers are there so far. We do know, thanks to a picture taken by Amanda Lauren (@amandalaurenrob), that the girls are in the icky bubblegum pink leo for podium training and that they will be competing on Gymnova equipment. 

So who ARE these girls? 

Newest to the elite scene is Jessie DeZiel, 2011 Senior C JO National Champ, Freshman at Nebraska and fabulous vaulter. She only competes 3 events, but she actually had a a pretty decent JO Bar Set. She'll more than likely compete on Vault and Floor. She may compete Beam, but who knows?

Grace McLaughlin from WOGA wasn't even supposed to be on the team. After Chellsie Memmel had shoulder surgery, she was named to it. Most likely, Grace will compete on every event but Vault, on which she only has a 1.5. She's a great bar worker and has a strong beam routine but has problems with consistency. She's also had quite a few injuries. She was out for 2010 due to what I believe was a foot injury and she rolled her ankle keeping her out of the AA at 2011 Classics. Regardless, her leaps and artistry are FABULOUS making her totally fierce.

Next is Brandie Jay who has been an elite for 2 years now and is known as "that random girl with 2 vaults". Seriously, I've heard people refer to her that way several times at meets. She's also known for her cute little haircut. What she ISN'T known for is how good her bars actually are. In addition to placing 3rd on Vault in 2011 (Behind McKayla & A-Sac) she placed 7th on Bars. She most likely will go up on all four events, possibly skipping Beam if the delegation chooses to put DeZiel up instead. I'm certain that barring disaster, she'll make Vault finals and likely even earn a medal to hang in her dorm at Georgia next year. 

Likely to medal on Bars is Bridgette "Bridgey" Caquatto. Bridgey, who competed on the European Tour and Jr. Pan Ams in 2009 and at Jesolo in 2011, has a strong DTY and will almost certainly go up on all four events. You can't help but love her "Jai Ho" Floor routine and overall confidence throughout her meets. I'd be surprised if she did not make the All Around Final. 

And finally, we come to Shawn and Bridget. Shawn's openly said that she will not be competing all four events. She'll be an asset to the team on every event but floor. If she can hit, hopefully she can make beam finals and successfully show that she has returned to the international stage. Meanwhile many fans and journalists are pinning Sloan as the favorite for All Around Champion. I'm not sure if I agree. Sloan, who hasn't competed All Around since she won the World title in 2009, hasn't been healthy in a very long time. If she can return to a good condition, I think she has a shot, but we have no idea what kind of routines she'll be competing. 

(Photo by Grace Chiu, USA Gymnastics) 

I think that everyone's in agreement that unless literally everyone falls, the US will win. The last time that the US did not win the team title at the Pan Am Champs, Games or Jr. Champs was in 1999, one of the deepest darkest years of American Gymnastics. Even this hodgepodge team has strong basics and good form; I just hope they hit. Go USA!