Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Composing a Blog ... In 4 minutes!

Here is a video of the composition of a blog post, on super speed! Obviously posts which involve interviews always take days, or even weeks to complete. Also, there are some blogs which I do piece by piece and not all in one sitting. This, however, is a screenshot of all of the brainstorming, planning and writing that went into my "Elites to Watch in 2012" post.  I'd make it full screen to get the full effect!

Sorry about the obnoxious water mark!

A Day in the Life of Canadian Peng Peng Lee

Peng Peng Lee is Pan American Silver medalist, a future UCLA Bruin and a member of the Canadian National Team. Although Peng Peng graduated in 2011, she’s deferring from college this year in hopes of making the Olympic Team. This provides her with a bit of an unorthodox elite training schedule.
(Property of Oakville Gymnastics Club) 

7:30 AM - I wake up get changed and go downstairs and have breakfast. Breakfast I cook myself so I normally make toast and eggs and have yogurt with granola or berries.

8 AM - I leave and go to the workout gym. Sometimes I'll drop my brother off at school before I go.  I do repetitions on the treadmill so I'll run hard for 1:30 then lightly jog for another 1:30 and I'll repeat that about 10 times. Then I do my required back exercises plus some extra conditioning. I have a specific physio that comes into the gym and she oversees my back exercises and she'll upgrade them when needed. A lot of the back exercises are to do with the core so a lot of planks and bird dogs some exercises with the medicine ball etc.

9:30 AM - After I come home and rest. I'll do some chores and errands that need to be done. Since I'm going to UCLA soon I'm doing a lot of research on what I would like to go into. I like to sing and play guitar/piano while I'm at home so I have fun doing that. I usually take the chance for the free time to get physio and make sure my body is taken care of.

(Property of Scott Heavey)
1:00 PM - I have lunch. Lunch depends on what we have at home but it's mostly proteins and veggies.

2:00 PM - I have to leave the house at around 2 to get to training at 3.

3:00 PM - Then we train. We warm-up for about 10 mins then do 20 mins of conditioning then we start our events. About 15 mins before training is done we'll do more conditioning, stretch, then say goodbye to all the coaches.

7:00 PM - I usually have a snack (protein bar) right after training since I have an hour before I eat dinner.

8:00 PM - I get home, have dinner, relax. Dinner depends on what my parent's make but it's usually chicken, rice and some kind of chinese vegetables. Then I’ll go to bed around 10:30-11 PM.

In order to make Peng Peng’s day easier for the reader to quickly understand, some of the quotes are slightly paraphrased without changing any of the meaning. 

Physical Struggles keep Moore out of Elite Competition

Earlier this year, rumors widely circulated about 2008 Junior National Team Member Kamerin Moore returning to Elite competition after spending this season as a Level 10. Other blogs have even reported that she confirmed her comeback on several social networking sites.

Unfortunately, it looks like circumstances have changed.

I spoke with coach John Geddert who said the following:
"Kami is focusing on gaining a scholarship. She would love to do elite gymnastics, but it's just not in the cards. Her mind is willing, but we can't get the body to cooperate."

(Property of Geddert's Twistars)
Kamerin has experienced numerous physical challenges in the past including a torn labrum, a hip socket issue, and a foot surgery late this spring.

I wish Kamerin the best in her future endeavors, wherever gymnastics may take her. Best of Luck in 2012!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Terrible Tuesdays - Tough Split?

What's wrong with this picture? 

(Property of USAG) 

Give up? Alicia Sacramone, who's closest to the camera, isn't all the way down in her splits. She's probably at 165-170 degrees. In the air, that wouldn't be a split; on the floor, it isn't one either. I love A-Sac even more than the next person, but there are several other pictures of Alicia not hitting her splits around the internet. And she isn't the only elite either.

I'm not even talking about having active flexibility in jumps, I'm just talking being able to go all the way down in the splits! If you're training 40 hours a week, there is no reason you should be unable to go all the way down in the splits. Flexibility and strength are the foundation of gymnastics. In my eyes, if you can't hit the splits, all the way to 180 degrees on the ground, that's almost as bad as being unable to hold a handstand. 

I disagree with the TOPs coach in this video who says, "Girls, I'm telling you now, you need to get your splits all the way down. Unless you've got a double-double on floor, there's no excuse." 

There's never an excuse. 

(Property of Heather Maynez) 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Casey Jo Magee moves to Michigan!

(Property of Kelly Lambert)
Former Arkansas Gymnast Casey Jo Magee has stated that she's leaving Capital in Texas, home of elites Mackenzie Brannan and Nicole Lehrmann.

She's moving to Michigan to train with a former coach Dave Kuzara who coached her in Arkansas and is now the head coach of Western Michigan University's gymnastics team. Magee will help assistant coach the team while continuing to pursue her own elite career.

About the move, Magee says, "[It] should be a fun experience. I'm pretty excited."

Casey Jo is a 4 time first team All American and a 2011 Visa National Qualifier. She's known for her signature triple turn on beam.

Your Questions Answered - 11/21-11/27

I've gotten a some questions this week. Here are my answers!

(PR Photos) 
Izzi B asked: "I'm confused about what it means that Chellsie's now a judge. What exactly will she be judging and how can she still compete if she's a judge?"

Chellsie is a Brevet Judge which means she can judge JO, NCAA, Elite and International competition. Kathy Kelly (VP of the Women's Program) has been asking Chellsie to take the course for a while, but Chellsie thought now would be a good time because she's recovering from her shoulder surgery. She said she spent a lot of time studying and only had a month to learn it all! Chellsie and Tabitha Yim both tested as Brevet Judges at the last development camp. Chellsie is still training, and plans to compete this season, but sees judging as something good to have as an option. 

Bridgette asked: "You posted a link to a 'day in the life' for Jordyn Weiber (sic) which indicated she already has endorsement deals but they're just not public... am I reading that right? I thought she wasn't accepting endorsements yet even though she went pro? I'm confused!"

In the first press release stating that Jordyn went pro, her mom said that they "might look into representation" after the Olympics. Apparently, Mama Wieber didn't realize that the bulk of sponsorships come before the games. Jordyn does indeed have endorsements which are rumored to include Proctor & Gamble and Kellogg's. 

(Property of John Cheng)
Anonymous asked: "I saw another blog that said Komova would be unlikely for the American Cup? Do you agree with this? I already have my tickets, and I was really hoping to see a Komova/Wieber showdown. Do you think Jordyn and Aly will for sure be there? Who else do you think will show?"

The American Cup is a World Cup event, so the Top 8 All Around gymnasts from Worlds are invited. If anyone declines the next girl down on the list will attend. My personal opinion? I don't think Komova will come. In my opinion, Mustafina only attended because she thought she had no real competition. If Wieber is there, as she's said she plans to be, Komova WILL have major competition. Last year, the lowest ranking competitor from Worlds competing WAG at the American Cup was Hannah Whelan, who placed 16th at Worlds. Anyone who placed above 16th is a good possibility.  Another possibility could include Ross being thrown in similarly to Wieber last year.

Izzi B asked: "How come McKayla doesn't preform (sic) two vaults at events like Visa Nationals? Sacramone does to show what she would do at event finals, and obviously McKayla competed in EF at worlds, so why doesn't she show two vaults too?"

McKayla did compete two vaults! She competed both of her vaults at both Championships and Classics, but NBC chose to only show her Amanar. That's how she came to be the National Vault Champion! Brandie Jay competed 2 vaults as well. 

(Property of USA Today)
A asked: "Is Aly Raisman bringing back the Amanar?" 

While I haven't heard one way or another about Aly's Amanar status, I'd guess that if she stays healthy  (knock on wood), Aly will try to bring back the Amanar. It's been said across the internet that to make this Olympic team, you either need an Amanar or a finals worthy bar set. I think that Raisman will try as hard as she can for the former. Her landings have been scary in the past, but I think that with a little bit of work she can get it rotated all the way around.

If your question wasn't answered, check back Thursday for an entire post on your question, or early next week! (An insider has answered one of your questions for Thursday!)

Do you have a question? Whether it's fact or opinion, I'll answer it! Ask me here! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Koko Tsurumi to train at Chow's this month!

(Property of Intl Gymnast, Thomas Schreyer)
Koko Tsurumi has traveled to West Des Moines, Iowa to train at Chow's!

In a relationship that most likely started at the Uneven Bars Finals at this years Worlds, Japanese team leader Koko Tsurumi is training at Chow's Gymnastics, home of Olympian Shawn Johnson and World Champion Gabrielle Douglas.

Koko is training with the group of Elites and Level 10s on a purely temporary basis, and was seen working hard, conditioning yesterday. Her coach did not travel with her.

The biggest challenge for Chow so far? Finding someone in the gym who speaks Japanese!

More details to come!

Koko was on Japan's 2008 Olympic Team, won 2 medals at 2009 Worlds and lead the Japanese team to 5th place in 2010 and 7th place in 2011.

WOGA - The Few, The Proud, The Injured?

Earlier today, I was looking for a specific picture of WOGA gymnasts for a post I have coming up later this week. While looking on WOGA's website, I came across a few albums of training pictures shot in early September of this year by Ruth Judson. In addition to finding a few pictures of Nastia training a month or so prior to Worlds, I also found that at this point in time, a number of girls at WOGA were injured enough to be in casts or braces, and not just wrapped or taped.

Here are a few:
(All pictures are property of Ruth Judson & WOGA Gymnastics. I cropped some faces out, because some of these girls are like, 10, and I felt weird about posting pictures with faces.)

Rebecca Bross of course. (Also, notice the scale in the background...) 

Jessica Howe 

This is what I've always done when I've broken toes, but it could be something less. 

I don't know, are this many girls ALWAYS injured at gyms like this? It just struck me as odd. It's also worth mentioning that I didn't see any pictures of Sophia Lee at all. What do you think?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

10 Things your Favorite Gymnasts (may) be doing this Thanksgiving



If you're not from The USA, this is the day when we celebrate killing hundreds of indigenous people... Okay, not really, but that's how it originated. We typically just eat a ton of turkey, get together with family and give thanks for the things that we have.

Here are 10 things that I think some of our favorite gymnasts may be doing this Thanksgiving: 

10. Miss Val & Rhonda Faehn give thanks for the fact that they won't even have to recruit soon; gymnasts will just come running to their teams.

9. Nastia Liukin makes a "handprint turkey" with no paint; she uses the blood from her newly formed rips.

8. Chris Burdette and Kim Zmeskal Burdette spend their day feeding an entire school of 150 displaced children. How nice! Oh wait, that's just their elite group.

(Property of Karolyi Camp Website) 
7. National Team Doctor Larry Nassar gives thanks that he won't have to set any broken bones until the next Training Camp in Early 2012.

6. Chellsie Memmel cheats her meal plan (as she stated on HBO) and eats Turkey and Fruit. 

5. Jordyn Wieber gives thanks for her spot on the 2012 Olympic Team. 

4. When Anna Liukin asks Valeri to pass the Mashed Potatoes, he becomes oddly overly protective of them and exclaims, "THESE ARE MY POTATOES, I MAKE WORLD CHAMPION POTATOES, DO NOT TAKE MY POTATOES LIKE BITCH TATIANA SCHEGOLKOVA!" 

3. Bela Karolyi attempts to "fit in with the American Traditions" and serves a thanksgiving dinner to Marta & Andrea. Bela says he never knew that stuffing paired so well with roasted camel. 

2. Jen Sey gives a press conference on how Elite Gymnastics caused Indian Turmoil, and how if the Parkettes Coaches weren't so mean, the pilgrims wouldn't have had to move to North America. 

1. Mustafina, Yao,  Komova, Iordache, Qiushang, Afanasyeva, Mitchell, Whelan, Ferrari & Grishina train, while the Americans eat turkey and stuffing!  

Of course these are jokes, thus the "(may)" disclaimer in the title. Don't take anything to heart. It's all good Thanksgiving fun. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Day in the Life of Olympian & World Champion Chellsie Memmel

Although Chellsie is currently recovering from shoulder surgery, she agreed to give us a look inside her average daily schedule. 

(Property of Sports Illustrated) 
8:00 AM -  "A typical day for me starts with waking up at 8:00. I have some breakfast and get ready to head to the gym."

9:00 AM - "I start .. with a run to get moving then the National Team warm up and conditioning. I generally will start on beam then move to floor, and do a few timers on vault then finish on bars."

12:30 PM - "I finish and go home to have lunch. I like to read a lot so I walk on the treadmill while reading for about 35 minutes, unless I am completely absorbed in the book then I end up walking longer then intended."

4:30 PM - "I head back to the gym at around 4:30 and I hit bars, beam, floor dance and full vaults. This practice is shorter [than the first].

6:30 PM - "I go back home for dinner. I will do a little cleaning then probable walk again for a half hour to wind down. I finish my days by hanging out on the couch with my boyfriend, Kory and my dogs, Lexi and Lucy." 

Chellsie Memmel is one of the the Most Decorated US Gymnasts of all time, and is a Three time World Champion, 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2004 Olympic Alternate and has two skills named after her. She's been an elite since 2000. She's also appeared in commercials for Gatorade, P&G and was featured in a Vogue photoshoot shot by the legendary Annie Leibovitz. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Camp News

After Polina Shchennikova posted a picture of everyone, including Rebecca at Camp, it appears that Marta has asked for things to be kept quiet regarding "big names".

(Was on Polina Shchennikova's FB)
This was a working camp. Girls verified individual skills and combinations and continued to work out. There were not winners of these verifications.

I will tell you, of all of the people who I've talked to, I've asked, "How are Becca & Nastia?" The consistent answer has been "working hard". I'm sorry guys, that's all I know. I've been trying I promise.

Here are updates on girls, as I receive them, in alphabetical order:

Simone Biles is training an Amanar into a pit. It doesn't seem too far off.

Rebecca Bross has a knee brace on, but is working bars and doing a ton of conditioning.

Brianna Brown of CGA won the Physical Abilities Testing.

Nia Dennis is training a Double Twisting Yurchenko.

Ericha Fassbender was invited to camp but did not attend due to an injury just before camp.

Amanda Jetter has been added to the National Team.

Bailie Key has added a standing arabian on beam, and is training a Double Twisting Yurchenko. She's also training a BHS-BHS-LO, Shawn Johnson Style. (To 2 feet).

Lizzy LeDuc is still recovering from elbow injuries that she sustained before moving to Zenith.

Nastia Liukin is "working out like crazy", verified skills on bars and is working beam and floor. She's been added to the National Team.

Katelyn Ohashi has the same bar set plus some new 1 hand pirouette work, like Onos.

Kyla Ross has no major upgrades on beam or floor yet. She's still got the Amanar, which looks good, and I'm not sure how her bars look.

Polina Shchennikova is training a BHS-BHS-5/2 beam dismount. She's also working a BEAUTIFUL L-Grip Endo to Jaeger! She has a minor knee issue, but nothing too serious.

McKenzie Wofford is reportedly training a tkatchev half into jaeger & a double double into pit on bars. HOLY UPGRADES!

All of the Texas Dreams girls look lovely on Bars and Beam.

Currently, I haven't heard about any girls going to Top Gym (begins 11/25).

Please don't ask "How is so-and-so?" You know everything that I know currently, and I will let you know more as soon as I find things out. More info will be coming later today.

Terrible Tuesdays - Short Sleeved Leos

Anyone who's followed my twitter through my post competition "Leo Awards" knows that I hate short sleeved leotards. Although they're nearly extinct in US Elite competition, gymnasts across the world continue to wear short sleeved leos. Here's the way I look at it: if you were see Swan Lake and the dancers were all in black leotards, pink tights and leg warmers, it would be tacky. In my opinion, it doesn't make sense to wear the same thing you'd wear in practice to an important event, much less to the Olympics. I have a hard time understanding why, on possibly the most important day of a girls life, she would choose to look less than exceptional.    

Now I've heard people say before, "Well, short sleeved leos are less expensive than long sleeved ones!" While that may be true, the average difference between a custom short sleeved and a custom long sleeved leo from GK is about $60 (US). Your delegation surely should be able to splurge $60 on you if, I don't know, you're representing them in international competition! 

It's obviously not the most catastrophic issue in the sport, but it just continues to irk me when girls like Vanessa Ferrari or Youna Dufournet show up to World Championship finals in short sleeved leos. 

But at the end of the day, at least they aren't wearing 1 sleeved leos. (No, seriously.) 

(Khyla Pottenger, 2011 US Challenge) 

Got something you think should be featured on Terrible Tuesdays? Contact me! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

What happened to Madison Kocian?

Over the past few days (during camp in particular), everyone's been asking "Where is Madison Kocian?!"

(Property of USA Gymnastics) 
The WOGA Gymnast and former national team member was missing from the 2011 Elite Season and missed both Classics & Championships. I've heard all kinds of rumors including that she quit the sport, broke her foot, and changed gyms. None of those are true! 

After Madison won the Silver medal at the Jesolo competition she told USA Gymnastics that she planned to compete at Visa Championships, hoped to place in the Top 3 and receive an international assignment in the fall. 

After Classics, coach Valeri Liukin claimed he was still hopeful that she'd be attending Championships, but according to insiders, it was already apparent that Madison wouldn't be attending. There was no falling out or major injury; Madison was just tired. At that time she was listed on WOGA's website as a Level 10. While she never stopped training, she took the season to decide whether or not she and her family wanted to continue down the elite path.

As of today, both her official website and the WOGA site list Madison as an Elite Gymnast. 

Hopefully there will be more of that beautiful artistry for years to come.

Edit: Although WOGA & her official website state that Madison has gone back to elite, I was told the following by an ongoing source I have-

"Madison dropped to level 10, but all WOGA staff trying to hide the fact she did and making it look like she is changing her mind and going back, all politics, which makes WOGA look bad."

Rebecca Bross returns to Camp

Earlier this week, I had several people inform me that Rebecca Bross had been invited to camp. Until today, I was unsure if she was attending. However, a video on Polina Shchennikova's Facebook proves that she is at camp. (Thanks Rivka719 for the link!)

I've been told by a reliable WOGA source that Bross has been working some bars and doing a lot of conditioning. She's seen running with a knee brace in the video. I've also been told that Valeri likes his gymnasts "in the gym watching" even if they cannot actually participate.

If you were under a rock this summer, Bross dislocated her kneecap at the 2011 Visa National Championships on a Double Twisting Yurchenko Vault.

You can see an updated list of the girls at camp here. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Day in the Life of Kristina Baskett on Make it or Break it

Here's a much awaited "Day in the Life" by Make It Or Break It double Kristina Baskett! 

For those who don't know, Kristina Baskett is a former Utah Gymnast, 12 time All American, 2006 UB Champ who now works as a stunt double in LA. She's done commercials, stunt work for the CW, Le Rêve & of course, Make it or Break it! 

 "It’s hard to exactly describe a day of stunts on ABC Family’s Make It Or Break It, because it is always different! But that is one of the many things I love about it. I will share a “normal” day on set of Season 2. 

Call Time- 8:00 AM- Arrive on set and find the trailer with my name on it for the day. Say “hi” to all my friends, grab some breakfast, then straight to hair and make-up to get fixed up like my actress of that day. Depending on which actress I stunt double for, Kaylie Cruz hair and makeup should take around 45 minutes. But if it’s Payson or Lauren, an extra 45 minutes to get a blonde wig firmly attached to my head!

(Property of Greg Marsden)
10:00 AM- Once I am done with hair and make up, I usually will go check out what’s going on on-set and see where they are at in terms of the schedule for the day. They can be ahead or behind schedule, or even switch the scenes around for the day. If my scene isn’t up soon, I usually hang out with the girls on set, help out with other stunts if they are being filmed, hang out in the trailer, or have some quiet time of rest before it’s time for some gymnastics.

1:00 PM- Lunch will usually be around 1:00 depending when they started shooting that day, but the whole cast and crew breaks for lunch and I will eat with everyone in the lunch room and get a chance to talk to some of the crew members that are always so busy. They are amazing! We all have a nice break before we get back at it and I start to get ready for my scene.

2:00 PM- After lunch I put on my wardrobe for the day and head to set where I will wait and watch until they are ready to do a run-through of the next scene that I am in. The actors go through their lines and I explain and walk through what I will be doing as well. As the crew starts to set up the lights and camera, I will warm up the event I am doing that day.

4:00 PM- Once everything is all set up, the director says “ACTION!” We shoot the scene we just rehearsed and will re-shoot as many times as the director needs. Different angles, different cameras, cameras strapped to my body, directly underneath me, or running beside me. The adrenaline definitely kicks in just like it did in competition! 

5:00 PM- Once the director is happy with what we have, everyone claps and thanks the talent and crew and I am wrapped for the day. Wigs off, wardrobe returned, and I am free to go home. Another fun and excited day on set is done and I can’t wait to get to come back again.

Everyday is different, I can be there all night, or a couple of hours, on our regular set or on location somewhere else, learning different skills and working with different actors. No matter what I feel like one lucky girl! I get a chance to work with amazing people in an exciting business. Very thankful that my gymnastics career has continued on to give me even more incredible memories! :) Be sure to tune in to Make It Or Break It Season 3 coming shortly! And always….GO UTES!" 

To see Kristina in action, check out this video of her doubling for Kaylie Cruz in Season 2 of Make it or Break it!

(Property of ABC Family)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Don Peters, Jen Sey and Abuse

(Property of OC Register)
I'd like to preface this in a similar way that Spanny did a few weeks ago by saying: It's fun to talk about up and coming girls, days in the life and Olympic predictions, but I feel like this is something that needs to be addressed. I've been going back and forth for the past few weeks on whether or not to give my opinion on this whole Don Peters situation. I started this blog to talk about what's going on in the gymnastics world, and this is relevant in the gymnastics world, so I feel like it deserves a post.

As you almost certainly know, former US National Team Coach Don Peters was accused of sexually assaulting Doe Yamashiro along with at least a dozen other girls. While the statute of limitations is up, USAG has "permanently banned" Peters and removed him from the USAG Hall of Fame. Until this year, the term "permanently banned" only meant that he couldn't participate in USAG meets, but he could work in USAG gyms. Luckily, this term was changed this year as to prevent him, and other "banned" coaches from working in USAG establishments. 

1986 National Champion Jen Sey said this to the Orange County Register
"In the microcosmic world of hyper-competitive athletics, a high-performance culture where winning trumps all, obvious moral choices become blurred. The sport, the team, a berth on the squad, a medal on the stand – that becomes the priority. The parents, coaches and teams put everything else aside in honor of the win. "

While Jen did know Don Peters first hand, I have to disagree with her here. 

In my opinion, it isn't fair for Jennifer Sey to blame this horrific tragedy on elite gymnastics. Elite gymnastics is not the problem. There are sick adults everywhere who prey on children.  Sexual abuse happens everywhere. To the rich, the poor, in gymnastics, in football, in choirs, in churches, in schools, it happens everywhere. Statistically, one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually assaulted by age 18. Some estimates are even higher.

The only thing I can really say is: be alert. 90% of perpetrators are someone who the child knows. If your child is a gymnast, a football player, a mathlete or a dancer, pay attention to the people who surround them. And most importantly, if your child comes to you and says that something is wrong: listen to him/her. Children very rarely say that they are abused when they aren't.

"Looking back, I was hoping someone, anyone, an adult with some common sense would have done something. But no one did. " - Jennifer Sey

Don't let that be your child, or a child who you interact with. Be the one who cares and be the one who can break the silence. It shouldn't have to take 25 years for survivors to feel safe enough to speak up. 

Dark Horses for London - McKenzie Wofford

At the 2011 Covergirl Classic, I was in awe after two rotations when first year senior McKenzie Wofford was the leader. I thought to myself, "Wow, how cool would it be if this fairly unknown girl won this competition on national television!" After Wofford competed her two weaker events, she ended up in fourth. Unfortunately, a last minute foot injury kept Wofford out of Championships.

McKenzie's weakest event is vault. At the US Classics, she only competed a Yurchenko full, though she demonstrated last year that she's capable of a 1.5.

In 2009, I remember thinking that bars could be Wofford's ticket onto an international team. Although she hasn't made as huge of an impact as I expected, she still has exceptionally strong bars. She's got a 5.9 Start Value, but her execution is regularly in the high 8s. She placed second last year at Visas behind Katelyn Ohashi. With a few upgrades she has the potential to be amongst the best in the world on this event.

(Property of USAG)
Believe it or not at Classics, McKenzie had the highest senior beam start value in the country. Yes, you read that correctly. McKenzie had a 6.3 start value on Beam at the US Classic, .1 higher than Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman had at that meet. When she hits, she is one of the strongest beam workers in the country. She placed 4th at Championships behind Raisman, Wieber & Sacramone, all of whom have made Worlds Beam Finals.

On floor, McKenzie lacks power on her tumbling passes, but dances well. I don't see her really factoring in much on this event, as she only has a 5.1 start value. She placed 10th at Classics out of the 15 girls who competed.

McKenzie's only competed internationally at the Bumpo Cup in South Africa where she won the Bars Title.  After suffering an injury in August, she was an alternate for the Pan American Games. After leaving WOGA in 2010, some have assumed that Marta may be biased against her. But at the end of the day, Marta's got to put politics aside if someone can truly help the team win an Olympic gold.

As I've said with the other "Dark Horses", it would take an unexpected hole or amazing upgrades for McKenzie to be one of the five girls to make it to London. She could, however, make a phenomenal alternate.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fresh Face Friday - Nica Hults

(Property of the Hults Family)

Quick Facts: 
Name- Veronica "Nica" Hults 
D.O.B. - June 16, 1998 (Senior in 2014) 
Gym - Texas Dreams Gymnastics 
Former Gym- AOGC 
High School Class of - 2016

Nica Hults started grabbing the attention of gymnastics fans way back in 2007, when mom Emer began posting videos of her compulsory routines. In a TOPS Testing Video, we witnessed Nica receive perfect scores on 6/7 events that perfection is attainable and nearly reach the national best on the 20 meter sprint. Thus, I highly doubt anyone was surprised when she made the Tops A Team. After Nica won the Level 9 Regionals and the Westerns Floor title in 2010, a job opportunity moved the family to Allen, TX where she joined the Texas Dreams "Dream Team". 

In 2011, Nica's elite career began to take off. After winning beam at the WOGA & Orlando qualifiers, Nica prepared for the US Classics and hoped to make it to the Visa Championships. Nica went out and surprised the world by winning beam with a score of 15.05, only a tenth and a half behind reigning World Champion Jordyn Wieber at that same competition! 

(Property of Jessica Frankl)

Unfortunately, a minor injury prohibited Hults from competing All Around at Championships. While she didn't have a "big break" at championships this year, she did finish 5th on beam with a significantly watered down routine. 

This girl is one to watch. Not only does she have fantastic style and grace, but she's also an incredibly sweet and well spoken individual. Marta's taken notice too, as Nica was at last week's Developmental Training Camp. Keep your eyes open for Nica next season and for many seasons to come. 

Here's a fun little Q&A with Nica: 

What is your favorite competition you've competed in? 
"2011 US Covergirl Classic. It was my first podium meet and I won 1st place on beam!"

What do you think your biggest weakness as a gymnast is? 
"My biggest weakness is vault, it always has been. But I'm working on it so that all my events will be strong. "

What are your ultimate goals in gymnastics? 
"To take it as far as I can, hopefully that means making it to the Olympics."

Do you think you'll compete in college?
"Education is very important to our family. Yes, I hope to compete in college." 
(Property of USA Gymnastics)

Who is a gymnast who you really look up to? 
"Nastia Liukin. But I [also] have to say Kim Zmeskal-Burdette, she's the one making a big difference in my gymnastics career by coaching me and helping me to be mentally strong. She's awesome!"

Can you tell us about a funny/ embarrassing moment you’ve had? 
"During my very first competition ever, as a level 5, I jumped off the beam in the middle of my routine when the timer yelled out warning because I thought I wasn't allowed to finish my beam. My coach told me to go back up on the beam and I went through the rest of my routine crying. After that disaster, I competed floor and won first place!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Camp 11/17-11/22 - Full Attendance List

It's National Team Training Camp Time!!!

It's expected that Top Gym Assignments will be given, along with another possible December competition.It's also possible that the Olympic Test Event team will be chosen at this camp, because as Jennifer stated in the comments, Nominative entries are due December 7th. 

Here is the full list of camp attendees:
Kennedy Baker 
Simone Biles
(Property of Gym Examiner)
Rebecca Bross
Brianna Brown 
Nichelle Christopherson
Bridget Dean
Nia Dennis
Maddie Desch
Brenna Dowell
Peyton Ernst
Sarah Finnegan
Amelia Hundley
Brandie Jay
Amanda Jetter
Bailie Key
Lizzy LeDuc
Nastia Liukin 
Grace McLaughlin
Katelyn Ohashi
Elizabeth Price
Lexie Priessman
Kyla Ross
Polina Shchennikova
Mykayla Skinner
Kiana Winston
McKenzie Wofford

This list is based on conversations I've had with gymnasts/coaches & posts on twitter and other sites by gymnasts/coaches. 

My guess is that it will be Junior National Team, Some Seniors and some extra invites. 

The biggest shocks to everyone have been Amanda Jetter, who had pretty major surgery to repair her foot after complications with her Jesolo injury in Early September and Lizzy LeDuc, who was rumored to have dropped down to Level 10 after her move to Zenith.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NCAA Loses the next Courtney Kupets

Annnnd, Aly Raisman is apparently going Pro. I'm upset. She could have been the next Courtney Kupets in my opinion, but instead she'll spend the post Olympic year doing "beam routines" to Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend.

(Property of Brigid Couch Gymnast McCarthy)

There are other rumors circulating the internet about all of the Worlds Team Members being "coerced" into going pro... great. Three more fabulous potential NCAA Athletes who will make all of $1000 on tours, GK Ads and some Kellogg's promotion.

As far a where I officially heard about Aly: I was sent a message by a person who has given me consistently reliable information over the years. She's asked me not to reveal who she is, so I won't. As I said on Twitter: the day I start announcing who talked is the day that people stop talking.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Top Gym 2011 - Why I think Ohashi will be left off the roster

Honestly, Top Gym is one of my favorite meets of the year. Anyone who knows me around the boards knows that I'm a huge fan of Junior Gymnastics.

Top Gym consists of 2 gymnasts per country with a team final that I don't really understand, an all around competition and event finals. This year, it will take place from Nov. 25th-27th.

In addition to the US, they're expecting gymnasts from Russia, Romania, Canada, Great Britain and a variety of other countries.

The question on everyone's mind is: "Who will Marta send?"
I might be in the minority as I'm thinking that Ohashi will not go to Belgium. Don't get me wrong, Ohashi's fabulous but, if I were Marta, I'd be more worried about 2012 than 2016, or even 2013.

Also, Marta's made a habit of sending national team members with the same coach on international assignments together. Fassbender & Guerra of Stars and Wieber & Moore of Twistars were both sent to Top Gym together, and Marta sent CGA and WOGA pairs out internationally to other competitions in the past year.

That's why, depending on health, I think that Marta has 2 solid choices for Top Gym:

(Property of
(Property of Emer Hults) 

All four gymnasts: Brenna Dowell & Sarah Finnegan (Left Pic) Kiana Winston & Kennedy Baker (Right Pic) were born in 1996 and are age eligible for 2012. Brenna Dowell and Sarah Finnegan are coached by Al & Armine Fong at GAGE. They both competed in last year's Pan Am Championships where Sarah won the Bronze on Beam. Kiana Winston & Kennedy Baker are newer to the scene, and are coached by Kim Zmeskal & Chris Burdette at Texas Dreams. Although they haven't competed internationally, They've both been impressive for years and in my opinion, this would be the perfect experience for the two of them to prove how great they can be. 

Who knows? I could be wrong. Marta could send Katelyn Ohashi & Kyla Ross. Who do you think she'll send? 

If you're a member of IGF, you can talk about Top Gym here.

Here is the list of competitors from "The All Around" as Teo posted on IGF:
Russia:Yulia Chemareva & Evguenia Shelgunova
Hungary: Dorina Jelencsics & Borbala Nardai
South-Africa: Tylah Lotter & Ryan Bloy
Italy : Carlotta Necchi & Giulia Gemme
Netherlands: Maartje Ruikes & Elise Bats
GBR: Georgina Hockenull & Sarah Strawbridge
Canada:Tara Mauchell & Briannah Tsang & Sydney Soloski & Maddie Copiack & Shallon Olsen & Maegan Chant.
Belgium: Ellen Rabout & Berangere Fransolet & Laura Waem & Jitske De Herdt & Amalia Heine & Lia Baudet.
Romania: Bianca Ciobanu, Paula Tudorache and Andreea Munteanu

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Day in the Life of WOGA Elite Briley Casanova

Briley Casanova is a 2 time National Team Member, a future Michigan gymnast and a member of WOGA's elite team. Briley trains with Laurent Landi's group at WOGA Plano which includes elite Sophia Lee, Mitzi Sosa-Unda of Mexico and more. 

(Property of Heather Maynez)

(Property of Heather Maynez)
6:45 AM- "I wake up and get ready for gym and have either cereal or oatmeal, and a banana for breakfast. [Then I] Pack my lunch and 2 powerades for practice."

7:15-7:30 AM-  "I leave the house to get to gym about 5-10 minutes early to get situated and ready for practice! Mondays and Thursdays we start at 7:45 and run as a team for a half hour. On the other days we do conditioning, but start at 8:00."

7:45 or 8:00-11:45 AM- "We do team conditioning after we warm up until about 9:00, then normally my coaches split up our team into 2 groups and 1 group goes to bars and 1 group goes to beam, and then we switch. If there is extra time, we might do one more event. 

11:45 AM- "I stretch a little bit before everyone leaves for school and has lunch. [I] change out of my leo into my school uniform (a polo and khakis)."

12:10 PM-
 "I arrive at school (My school is 5 minutes away from the gym) and eat lunch. My lunch usually consists of tuna and crackers, a cheese stick, an apple and water or tea." 

12:30-3:00 PM- "School! Each of my classes are 30 minutes long. I take US History, Algebra 2, Physics, Spanish IV, and English."

3:00 PM- "I leave school to go to practice which starts at 3:30."

3:10 PM- "I sometimes pack a clif bar for a snack before afternoon practice, so I will eat that if I feel like i need a boost of energy!" 

3:30-6:30 PM- "Afternoon practice. We usually repeat bars and beam and finish things we might not have finished in the morning. We also try to finish at least one more event that night, either tumbling or vault."

7:10-10:30 PM- "Depending if we finish on time, I usually get home around 7:10ish. I eat dinner (a Lean Cuisine microwavable meal) and then do my homework and study until I am finished and aim for going to bed around 10:30."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Signing Day! - Where the 2012 Elites are headed

Today is National Signing Day where athletes headed into the NCAA sign their letters of intent! (There's another day in the spring as well, but most gymnasts will sign today.) Here's where some of our favorite elites and former elites are headed!

Lauren Beers (Southern Tier) - Alabama
 2 Time Championship Qualifier, TOPs Team Member, good on bars.

Lily Hardin (WOGA) - Arkansas 
Qualifier to 2009 US Classics, Multiple time JO National Qualifier, has an insane amount of strength!

Caitlin Atkinson (Cypress) - Auburn 
 3 Time US Classic Qualifer, 1 Time Championships Qualifier, Strong All Arounder.
(Property of Ryan W Shulz)

Asi Peko (Brown's) - UCLA
 2008 National Team Member, NLSC Qualifier, Qualified to JO Nationals 4 times!

Sophina Dejesus - UCLA
2009 National Team Member, 2009 Jr. Japan Intl Floor Champion, Fabulous Dancer!

Bridgey Caquatto (Legacy Elite) - Florida 
 Reigning Pan American All Around Champion, 3 Time National Team Member, Great on bars and vault!

Brandie Jay (GK) - Georgia
Pan Am Games Vault Champion, 3 time US Vault Medalist,  has a good bar set!

Madeline Hanley (Parkettes) - Minnesota 
3 Time Championships Qualifier, Competed at Gymnix International, Good Beam Woker.

Congrats Class of 2012!!!

New Elites to Watch for 2012

Every year, The Covergirl Classic serves as an amazingly big stage to for those up and coming elites. I wanted to showcase several girls who I think have the potential to amaze us all this season.

Alexis Beucler (who's affectionately known as "poof") turns 14 this December and is the newest member of a CGA Elite team made up of current and former National Team Members. While Beucler doesn't have a long resumé of titles she's won, I've never seen Mary Lee Tracy add a gymnast to her elite group without good reason. She's currently ranked 3rd on Floor amongst Level 10s in Ohio. Floor seems to be her strongest event, even if she does fall out of her double turn.

Elena Spengler, of Girls Co-Op is currently 11 years old and won this year's Challenge Competition for the HOPES 11 division. Her score was nearly seven points ahead of the second place winner! She's still going to need some upgrades is she wants to be competitive in the elite field, but she's definitely one to watch. Earlier in the season, Elena scored a 14.4 on beam, which would have earned her 5th place in the junior division of Championships.

Wesley Stephenson was a HOPES competitor this season who earned the silver medal at the American Classic in her division. She comes from Legacy Elite, which of course, produced both the "Caquatti" and Anna Li. She currently holds the Silver Medal from the Level 9 Easterns Jr. 1 Division in the All Around. Her vault, which I believe was a Yurchenko Full, really stood out to me. Wesley will need to make quite a few upgrades in order to make a big splash on the elite scene, but seeing as she said that she didn't begin to train for HOPES until after her JO Season ended, she's got fantastic potential.

(Property of USAG)

Alexandra McMurtry is the current reigning Level 10 Jr. A All Around Champion. While I'm not sure if she's announced that she's trying for Elite status, I'd be incredibly surprised if she chose not to. For what it's worth, every Jr. A National Champion has gone on to the Visa National Championships since at least 2005. Alexandra's known for her performances on vault where she performs a clean DTY (which earned a 9.95 at JO Nationals) and on floor where she's capable of a full in. Regardless of whether or not she goes elite, Alexandra McMurtry is a name to remember. 

Who am I forgetting? Are there more up and coming Elites that I should blog about? Let me know in the comments!