Friday, June 29, 2012

The Best Gymnastics Book I've Ever Read...

"Which of the following is a famous Jewish gymnast-- Mary Lou Retton, Kerri Strug, or Dvora Meyers?" 

Cover art by Margarita Korol 
Thus begins the story of Dvora Meyers.

While Meyers was never an Olympian, abused by Bela Karolyi or persecuted by tabloids, her story isn't a dull one. Her refreshingly unsensationalized look into gymnastics, as both a fan and an athlete is unique in its brutal honesty. Frankly, Heresy on the High Beam: Confessions of an Unbalanced Jewess is like you're spending an afternoon having coffee with your really interesting friend.

Essentially, the book is a classic coming of age love story, where the love interest is gymnastics. From Bat Mitzvahs to beam routines, Meyers' maturation & affection in the sport will likely be one you recognize in yourself.

I mostly respected that the author viewed her challenges as just that: challenges. Although she narrated some of her most personal and pivotal life events, it never felt like a sob story, not even for a minute. That's why it's so captivating, you are able to ride the roller coaster with her; from the young child doing cartwheels in her living room to the young adult desperately longing to discover why she can no longer land that same cartwheel on a high beam.

You can buy Heresy on the High Beam on Amazon and download it directly to your iPad, Kindle or Computer. It really is worth it.

Just because you were a bad gymnast, doesn't make you a bad writer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nastia's Bars : What am I missing?

3 weeks ago Nastia looked like this in training:

And then placed 18th out of 19 on bars. 

Now she looks like this:

If you're saying "she'll be ready", ask yourself why. Maybe you're psychic? Maybe you know more about gymnastics than I do. Or maybe you're trying to hold on to 2008. Personally, I don't see this happening. I hope she proves me wrong. But no one, not even little hand-broken Brenna Dowell is being spotted this much. This doesn't seem like and improvement on nationals to me. A dismount, yes, but she did the dismount in training last time around too. I don't feel like she's got the stamina to do it. What am I missing? 

Trials Podium Training Thoughts...

Michael O'Leary 
Thoughts overall: 
-No major injuries. *Knock on wood*. This has become a "who's the best of the best" instead of who can survive the bullshit.
-I love that girls are all in National Team Leos.
-The USA is deeeeeeeeep. I'm so glad.

On individual gymnasts: (in no particular order whatsoever.)

Elizabeth Price has given me second thoughts on calling all Parkettes "skill chuckers". That Amanar is fierce as is the Double Double. She'll be a great alternate.

The videos of Sarah Finnegan weren't particularly impressive to me, but maybe that's because I've watched her routines so many times. I'm interested to see how she'll compete. She's another potentially great alternate.

Sabrina Vega's gymnastics is just so pretty. I wish we could give her Aly Raisman's consistency & difficulty.

I can't get over Rebecca Bross's feet. Still. I love her natural swing though. She did land her Patterson in training, but I'm not holding my breath for a clean dismount in competition. I STILL think that it's too much of a risk for a Team Final.

Gabrielle Douglas looks fierce as ever, but her ankle looks super taped. Was it that taped at Nationals? The slowmo Amanar is not to be missed.

Nastia looks about 0% more ready than she did at Nationals podium training. If it's the Olympic Trials and you can't do a full bar routine with out an enormous amount of spotting, I'm doubting you. (The ring leap was better, though.)

McKayla is impressing me. People were worried that she wouldn't compete at Trials but she looks as good as she did at Nationals, if not better.

Anna Li's bars are fantastic, but I can't imagine Marta taking someone who literally can only go up on one event, no matter what.

Kyla's Amanar is back and looks decent. I wonder if she'll compete it and if she does if she can compete it consistently. Bars & Beam are as solid as usual. I only put her floor on for 4 seconds to see if she had changed music. ... She hadn't.

Aly Raisman is proving herself as more and more of a lock. Honey child does not fall. You can't hate that.

USA Gymnastics
Jordyn Wieber might as well not even compete. She'll be in London unless her arm falls off... and even then she could probably pull off beam. There's honestly not much to say about her at this point. She's solid, but I'm honestly kind of bored, in a Pattersonian way.

Brenna Dowell looks sad throughout. I'm waiting for her to call the news and do an Ivana Hong like news story. You remember she has a broken hand, right? She looks like she's adding a wolf jump after her front double pike though. So that's fun.

Bridget Sloan is being spotted quite a bit on bars, and USAG didn't post a full routine from her. But then again, it was similar in at Nationals, and she performed satisfactorily there.

USAG only posted Alicia Sacramone's beam which looked clean, but I'm more interested in her Vault.  I can't see a FTY as her second vault being a strong enough case for her.

Kennedy Baker wasn't in podium training today, so that was kind of a bummer. She arrived in San Jose late Tuesday evening.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Aly Raisman & McKayla Maroney 2012 UB Olympic Champions?!

In the past 24 hours, I've read the following things from gymnastics fans or bloggers: 
-"Aly is great on bars and beam!"
-"[Kyla's] strongest events : Floor and Vault."
-"Maroney should be great on bars."
-A tweeter putting Nastia in her Olympic floor lineup

I'm starting to get frustrated, friends. So, instead of screaming and banging my head against the wall, I've decided I'll attempt to help clear up whatever confusion is going on.

Some of the following post is my opinion, but let's talk facts for a second. Aly is NOT great on bars, Kyla is NOT strongest on floor and Maroney will NOT be great on bars. Those are just facts! The US is looking for the 3 highest scorers on each event. I'm sharing with you the highest scores on each event for each Trials qualifiers, although that doesn't take consistency into account.

To be honest, competing on vault for the US in team finals isn't much of an option unless you've got an Amanar or a Rudi.

Girls whose vaults are CERTAINLY team finals worthy: Maroney, Wieber & Raisman.

Girls whose vaults MAY be team finals worthy: Douglas, Price, Ross & Sacramone.

Below is a list of the HIGHEST scores posted in 2012 by Trials Qualifiers.
1. Maroney - 16.15  (Nationals Day 1)
2T. Wieber - 16.1 (American Cup)
2T. Raisman - 16.1 (American Cup)
4. Douglas - 15.866 (American Cup)
5. Price - 15.8 (Nationals Day 1)
6. Ross - 15.55 (Jesolo)
7. Sacramone - 15.5 (Nationals Day 2)
8. Finnegan - 15.0 (Nationals Day 1)
9. Baker - 14.8 (Nationals Day 2)
10. Dowell - 14.7 (Nationals Day 2)
11. Vega - 14.5 (Nationals Day 2)
12. Sloan - 14.15 (Nationals Day 2)
Liukin, Li, Bross no longer compete Vault.

Bars is trickier, because fewer of the team "locks" are super strong on bars.

Girls whose bars are CERTAINLY team finals worthy: Dougals, Li, Ross, Bross & Sloan.

Girls whose bars MAY be team finals worthy: Wieber, Price & Liukin (if Nastia can show what people are expecting her to). 

Below is a list of the HIGHEST scores posted in 2012 by Trials Qualifiers. 

1. Douglas - 15.85 (Nationals Day 2)
2. Li - 15.55 (Nationals Day 2)
3. Ross - 15.5 (Nationals Day 1)
4. Bross - 15.3 (US Classic)
5. Sloan - 15.1(Nationals Day 1)
6. Wieber - 15.05 (Nationals Day 1)
7. Price - 14.95 (Nationals Day 1)
8. Baker - 14.85 (Nationals Day 1)
9. Dowell - 14.6 (Jesolo)
10. Raisman - 14.45 (Jesolo)
11. Vega - 14.4 (Nationals Day 2)
12. Finnegan - 14.15 (Jesolo)
13. Maroney - 13.95 (Jesolo)
14. Liukin - 13.65 (Nationals Day 2)
Sacramone does not compete this event.

The US is looking stronger and stronger on beam and should have plenty of coverage on that event, regardless of who is on the team.

Girls whose beam sets are CERTAINLY team finals worthy: Ross, Raisman & Finnegan.

Girls whose beam sets MAY be team finals worthy: Wieber (her high is MUCH higher than her average), Sacramone, Liukin.

Below is a list of the HIGHEST scores posted in 2012 by Trials Qualifiers. 
1. Wieber -  15.7 (Pac Rim AA)
2. Ross - 15.5 (Jesolo)
3. Raisman - 15.45 (Nationals Day 2) 
4. Finnegan - 15.35 (Nationals Day 1) 
5. Sacramone - 15.2 (Nationals Day 1) 
6T. Liukin - 15.1 (Nationals Day 1)
6T. Douglas - 15.1 (American Cup)
8. Maroney - 14.55 (Nationals Day 1)
9. Vega - 14.4 (Nationals Day 2) 
10. Baker - 14.3 (US Classic) 
11. Price - 14.3 (Nationals Day 1) 
12. Bross - 14.15 (Jesolo) 
13. Li - 13.9 (US Classic) 
14. Dowell - 13.9 (Nationals Day 2) 
15. Sloan - 13.85 (Nationals Day 2)

Girls whose floor routines are CERTAINLY team finals worthy: Raisman, Douglas, Wieber & Finnegan.

Girls whose floor routines MAY be team finals worthy: Vega & Price. 

Below is a list of the HIGHEST scores posted in 2012 by Trials Qualifiers. 
1. Raisman - 15.8 (Nationals Day 2)
2. Douglas - 15.3 (Nationals Day 2)
3. Wieber - 15.25 (Nationals Day 1)
4. Finnegan - 15.2 (US Classic)
5. Vega - 14.85 (US Classic)
6. Price -14.8 (Nationals Day 2)
7T. Ross - 14.6 (Nationals Day 2)
7T. Maroney - 14.6 (Nationals Day 1)
9. Baker - 14.4 (Nationals Day 1)
10. Dowell - 14.35 (Nationals Day 2)
11. Sloan - 13.9 (Nationals Day 2)
Li, Bross & Liukin do NOT compete Floor anymore.

So dearest fellow fans, go back and look what you've written and then look at the facts. Are you making sense? 

Want to feel 100 years old?

Back Row : Alicia Sacramone, Geralen Stack-Eaton, Nastia Liukin, Shayla Worley, Darling Hill, Bridget Sloan, Natasha Kelley, Amber Trani, Rebecca Clark

Middle-ish Row : Corrie Lothrop, Shawn Johnson, Sam Peszek, Sarah DeMeo, Olivia Courtney, Jana Bieger, Ivana Hong, Chelsea Davis

Front Row : Jordyn Wieber, Ashley Stott, Mattie Larson, Sami Shapiro, Rheagan CourvilleCassie Whitcomb, Rebecca Bross

These girls made up the US National Team in 2007 (plus Chellsie Memmel). Their names link to a routine from their most recent season.

Of these 24 National Team Members from 2007, 5 of them are still Elite competitors (and in fact, all in headed to Trials), 6 are retired and 13 were on college rosters this past season. I just found this a while back and thought I'd share! :)

I found this picture on Tumblr a while back, and lost my link, so let me know if it's your pic...

Friday, June 22, 2012

"My best events are vault and bars and beam and floor": The Kyla Ross Conundrum

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful Junior gymnast. Although she consistently placed well in the All Around, she struggled on bars and would sometimes place in the 20s on that event at national competitions. Then the gymnast grew some, trained a lot and suddenly, she became really good on bars. So good, that she started winning international medals. The gymnast's name was Rebecca Bross.

Rebecca Bross is a perfect example of the rule that you can change specialties. The girl who placed 15th amongst American Jrs in 2006 on an event could be named 3rd best in the world on that same event just 3 years later. Just because you were once weak on an event doesn't mean that it can't be your strongest event several years later.

While Rebecca Bross was winning that medal in London 3 years ago, an up and coming junior was arising in the spotlight. Kyla Ross won several competitions that year, equipped with her green bow and pack of Gym-Max teammates. At the time, Kyla was working with a 4.9 UB SV, and only tied for 12th on bars, despite winning Vault and Beam and earning 3rd on floor. But as it's so often said: "That was then, and this is now."

Kyla is a good bar worker now. You can't argue with that. She's won the uneven bars gold 2011 Classics and 2012 Jesolo, and the Silver at 2011 & 2012 Championships, 2012 Classics, 2012 Pac Rims, 2011 Jesolo and 2010 Pac Rims. Please don't tell me that all of those titles don't qualify someone to compete on Uneven Bars in a team final setting.

Furthermore, if you've pinned her as a bar specialist, don't be confused thinking that she can't compete on beam and that you need a beam worker on the team to go up instead of her. She's won as many titles there as she has on bars, and more of them are gold.

So you've got Kyla in your bars and beam lineup and you want to put her on floor? Don't! She's only got a 5.5 Start Value there. Her 5.5 is the lowest of any girl who will be competing floor at Trials! Once having an Amanar doesn't make someone a good floor worker!

I don't know what I think about Kyla's vault, but I certainly wouldn't call her a major team asset on vault. It seems that she's been struggling with the Amanar, but in an emergency, she could certainly pull out a fabulous double.

I'm not sure what the issue is or why fans can't get it straight, but even Kyla seems confused on where she fits in. When talking to a journalist she stated that her best events are "Vault and Bars and Beam and Floor." All in all, we need to realize that things can change within an athletes skill set. This isn't the same Kyla that we met in 2009.

Let's talk about ex(ecution), baby.

USA Gymnastics
Quick! Who do you think are the girls with the highest execution in the USA? I assumed that the "Chosen 4" would rank highly and then I thought that with only execution counting that Sarah Finnegan and Sabrina Vega would squeak into the top 5 or so. In fact, I thought that Sarah Finnegan would become a virtual lock for the team disregarding difficulty. I thought she had a good chance to place higher than Douglas. Well, I was wrong.

The Top 12 in execution only over the 2 days of competition were: (parentheses indicate place w/ D & E scores counting)
USA Gymnastics
1. Kyla Ross (4th)
2. Jordyn Wieber (1st)
3. Gabby Douglas (2nd)
4. Aly Raisman (3rd)
5. Elizabeth Price (5th)
6. McKayla Maroney (N/A)*
7. Sarah Finnegan (6th)
8. Sabrina Vega (7th Tie)
9. Brenna Dowell (9th)
10. Kennedy Baker (7th Tie)
11T. Bridget Sloan (10th)
11T.  Abigail Milliet (11th)

*I multiplied Maroney's day 1 E scores by 2 so we could see where she fits.

Places 13-18 fall in the same order that they did in competition.

Frankly, I was surprised. I started to question myself and other gymnastics fans. We love Sabrina Vega, we love Sarah Finnegan, We Well, I, love Kennedy Baker. We say that it's because they have clean gymnastics, but we're lying to ourselves. It's because they have pretty gymnastics. There's nothing wrong with liking gymnastics because it's pretty, we just need to be honest with ourselves about what's going on. It's worth mentioning that these girls fell, but even if they hadn't they wouldn't have been the leaders in execution. It's a myth that these girls would be the strongest if their difficulties were higher, as they're in the same positions or even lower. Pretty doesn't necessarily equal well executed, as much as sometimes I wish it did.

Inside Gymnastics
Other surprises included Raisman placing 12th amongst vaulters. (Maroney, not surprisingly, placed 1st), Jordyn Wieber placing higher than Anna Li on bars and Gabby placing 3rd on floor. You may not like her music, but you can't argue that she performs it well.

So difficulty aside, who would I name to my team? (Execution based ranks are in parentheses)

VT: Wieber (3), Ross (2), Maroney (1)
UB: Wieber (3), Ross (2), Douglas (1)
BB: Wieber (4), Raisman (3), Ross (1)
FX: Douglas (3), Raisman (2), Wieber (1)
Alt: Price, Sacramone, Finnegan

Monday, June 18, 2012

Who takes the 5th Spot? (Based on season averages)

It's arguable, but I personally believe that 4 of the American gymnasts have a 75% or greater shot of making the team. The three semi locks are Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. I personally believe that Kyla Ross will take the fourth spot. So that leaves the every popular question: Who takes the fifth spot?

To answer that question, I found the season averages on each event from everyone headed to Trials. To be fair, season averages may not be the best judge of who will perform the best, but I figured it would be a decent baseline. Falls ARE included in the average, so this is not an average of only hit routines. They're rounded to the hundredth's place.

The cool thing about this 4 person team is that if need be, these 4 girls could fill the 3 up, 3 count quota on each event. Here's how I'd do it.

VT : Wieber (15.85), Raisman (15.58), Douglas (15.24)
UB : Douglas (15.55), Ross (15.28), Wieber (14.85)
BB :  Ross (15.1), Raisman (15.03), Wieber (14.85)
FX : Raisman (15.34), Wieber (15.08), Douglas (14.97)

So to figure out which gymnast would fill the fifth spot, I figured out who would add the largest advantage by adding their routines instead of the lowest scoring routine(s) in the lineup above.

To my surprise, the girl who would add the largest advantage was McKayla Maroney who would increase the team average .84 if she vaulted instead of Douglas. Marta's openly said that she doesn't want to take a girl who can only help on one event, but McKayla's average is by far the most helpful to team USA.

Second is Alicia Sacramone whose average is higher than both Douglas on Vault and surprisingly, Jordyn Wieber on beam. (Jordyn's Pac Rim EF fall IS factored into this average though.) Her advantage is .53.

Elizabeth Price's was the third most helpful with her vault average adding .45 to the team total.

I was surprised that my most recent pick for #5, Sarah Finnegan's beam routine was the only helpful one (w/ a .21 advantage) and that her floor average wasn't higher than Raisman's, Douglas's or Wieber's.  Her individual floor scores have been higher than some of Gabby's though.

Bridget Sloan, Anna Li and Rebecca Bross each could help the team solely on bars, but because they've each had their share of mistakes their advantages each only average out to less than .2.

Kennedy, Sabrina, Nastia and Brenna don't have higher averages on any event than the already chosen four.

Obviously, season averages are not the end all be all of a selection process, but they do take into account both consistency and scoring potential. Who knows, Nastia, Becca or Anna could blow all of these girls out of the water at Trials, or perhaps one of my "Chosen Four" could seem unprepared for Olympic aspirations. *Knock on wood*. But, I thought it was a start to see who will take what I view as the last spot on the team.

**Pictures are all property of the USOC

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bar routines I loved and hated from Nationals


1. Gabby Douglas on Day 2

Score: 15.85 (6.6 D, 9.25 E)
Place: 1st
What I Loved: Her releases are sky high, she has such a natural swing and handled the pressure well.
What I Didn't: She seems a tiny bit too close to the bar on her Ray.

2. Anna Li on Day 2

Score: 15.55 (6.9 D, 8.65 E)
Place: 3rd
What I Loved: Those combos were CRAZY amazing and it's unique!
What I Didn't: A couple of awkward leg positions throughout.

3. McKenzie Wofford on Day 2

Score: 14.7 (6.3 D, 8.4 E) 
Place: 9th
What I Loved: Did you see that combination? Try to tell me that wasn't cool! She also stuck that dismount! I cannot WAIT to see this girl at OU! 
What I Didn't: She's got a few short handstands 


1. Nastia Liukin on Day 1

Score: 13.15 (5.8 D, 7.35 E)
Place: 19th 
What I Loved: That layed out Gienger is still FIERRRRCE. 
What I Didn't: The "dismount", obviously as well as the wonky pak and weird leg separations. 

2. Jessica Wang Day 1 

Score: 9.8 (4.3 D, 5.5 E) 
Place: 22nd
What I Loved: She pulls off her Jaeger.
What I Didn't: Honey child has a really hard time with that handstand.

3. Megan Skaggs Day 2

Score: 11.45 (4.9 D, 6.55 E)
Place: 21st 
What I Loved: A fairly strong dismount.
What I Didn't: Those are some icky handstands, also, the tkachev fall.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

An open letter to Nastia Liukin

Dear Nastia,

Over the past week, I've received many emails from your fans who disapprove of the many jokes I've made about you recently. What those fans have failed to realize is that I too, am a Nastia Liukin Fan.

From 2005-2008, your gymnastics seemed effortless, although you were competing some of the most difficult routines in the world. I love that you can compete a layed out Gienger although you're taller than most gymnasts out there. I love you earned 5 well deserved medals at the 2008 Olympics. And I love that you competed a phenomenally stuck vault on what was possibly the most stressful day of your life.

I personally believe that this is one of the most beautiful routines I've ever seen.

When I heard you were planning to return to the sport, to be honest, I was thrilled. Although I felt that your timing was somewhat off, I yearned to see your gorgeous lines on beam and your wonderful artistry on floor once again. After seeing you at Classics, I was thrilled about your performance and to be honest, felt bad that your news had been shoved aside as the gymnastics community addressed the Chellsie Memmel drama.

And then you arrived in St. Louis and I saw your double front half. I grew more and more excited to see you compete and began to see you as a serious contender for the Olympic Team.

I loved that things actually seemed to be coming together for you.

Here's what I DIDN'T love though: 
-I didn't love that you didn't have the professionalism to either pull out of the bar competition or compete a legitimate dismount.
-I didn't love that you told the press that you had only been training bars for about a week, while there are pictures from as far back as September with you in grips and you trained extensively at Classics.
-I didn't love that you didn't mention your "injury" to the media at Classics or Championships until you struggled in competition.

If you had a bad meet, just own up to it. It's the right thing to do.

Nastia, I've always been your fan, but you make it hard for me to root for you when it seems as if you aren't taking your "comeback" seriously.

Best wishes and good luck at Trials,

Vaults I loved and hated from Nationals

So I told everyone a while back that I'd be analyzing specific routined from Nationals. I've kinda been dragging my feet on this one, but here are my 3 favorite and least favorite Vaults...


1. McKayla Maroney's Mustafina (Day 1)
(Starts at 1:20)

Score: 15.7 (6.1 D, 9.6 E) 
Place: 1st After Day 1 
What I loved: Her form in the air is phenomenal. She lands it beautifully and has an amazing block. 
What I didn't: She has a tiny hop, so I guess that can be improved upon.

2. Simone Biles Amanar (Day 2)

Score: 16.0 (6.5 D, 9.5 E)
Place: 1st
What I loved: She gets phenomenal height and only takes a tiny hop.
What I didn't: Her feet are kinda funky in the air. It could be cleaner.

3. Jordyn Wieber's Amanar (Day 2) 

Score: 15.9 (6.5 D, 9.4 E) 
Place: 2nd of all Sr Vault Scores
What I loved: Travels far with it and twists sufficiently. 
What I didn't: Leg separation on block, step forward. 


1. Ohashi's Double (Day 2)

Score: 13.8 (5.8 D, 8.0 E) 
Place: 11th after 2 days
What I loved: Her feet look nice in the air and she manages to somehow stand it up. 
What I didn't: This vault is IDENTICAL to Rebecca Bross's in 2011 that blew out her knee. After Katelyn missed this vault in training, she did it on day 2 terribly. 

2. Merideth's Sylvia's FTY (Day 1) 

Score: 11.8 (5.0 D, 6.8 E)
Place: 23rd 
What I loved: Again, she's got nice toes. 
What I didn't: She has this GIANT pike that she's doing (and she did on Day 2 as well) and obviously, how underrotated she seems is terrible and dangerous. 

3. Jordyn Wieber's Amanar (Day 1) 

Score: 15.65 (6.5 D, 9.15 E)
Place: 3rd
What I loved: Good form until landing

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Quick Nationals Wrap Up

Annnnd, it's over. Dozens of athletes have competed, National Champions have been named and 15 girls have been sent to Trials.

To be brief, here were my thoughts on the seniors:

To be not as brief, I would say that the biggest surprise amongst the competitors was most likely Gabby, who only missed the title by .2. That's pretty impressive for someone who "ended her career" at last year's Nationals. Had she not fallen on beam, she undoubtedly would have won.

The top 4 were in the order I predicted, but I was surprised at how close they came. I'm keeping my team the same as I had them after Classics (they're the girls circled in Purple), with the same alternates I picked then as well (underlined in Yellow). I'd like to see Alicia & Bridget make the team, but I'm not sure how feasible that really is.

I'm doubting the chances of Brenna Dowell at this point because she still has a broken hand. To be honest, I feel like all that making trials really means for her is that she'll spend two more weeks training and competing with an injury.

Anna Li's a fabulous gymnast but I personally feel like she performed more successfully in NCAA... but this is gymnastics. Anything can happen.

And I'm pretty sure I've said my peace on Nastia, but I'll leave you with this...

I'll post later with my thoughts on specific routines/juniors.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Internationally Inexperienced doesn't equal Untalented.

Heather Maynez
"It's not a good idea to put a very inexperienced gymnast on the team. That's begging for trouble. Her upgrades won't even help her get an alternate spot."

I read this in a forum after Day 1 of Nationals about Corrie Lothrop in 2008. Corrie was later placed on the 9 person Olympic Squad. And I was like... "Wow, we sure should respect these girls' chances more. You never know who can make the team."

And here we are in 2012... and I read this:
"I can't picture Marta taking a chance on an athlete with such little experience. Also compared to the rest of the field she's pretty weak."  

This was in reference to Kennedy Baker.

I was a little bit taken back. Kennedy's talented. Like, really talented. If you missed the fact that she medaled at the US Classics, she was also the 2009 Bars champion and has been a National Team Member since 2010.

Oh, and then there's this.

(Video by USAG)

She opens with a 1.5 to Double Arabian and then completes a DOS SANTOS for her second pass. 

She also has a host of other big skills that she completes cleanly such as a Patterson which she almost stuck on Day 1 of competition.

Kennedy's AA Start Value is only 3 tenths lower than McKayla Maroney. Kennedy hit 58.05 yesterday. That's a really big score. Bridget Sloan's only hit that once in this scoring system; Sabrina Vega never has. Kennedy could fill in due to injury on literally any event. 

Am I saying that Kennedy's spot is a done deal? To be honest, after last night, I'm starting to wonder if Jordyn's spot is a done deal! (Not really, but you get my point.) Of course it's not a done deal. 

But I will say, a gymnast not having international experience doesn't mean she's untalented. Just because you didn't pay attention to her before this year doesn't mean she hasn't been around. And don't hate on Kennedy (or Elizabeth or Brenna or whoever else), until you've seen them perform.  

For what it's worth, it was less than a year ago when I read this quote about Gabrielle Douglas: 
"A career ended last night."

Anything can happen kids; This is gymnastics. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

After watching Podium Training Vids...

Do you remember that episode of Glee where Sue gets bored and wants to shoot Brittany out of a cannon? That's kinda where I'm at right now. All of the gymnastics is nice, but very little of it is WOWing me... Here's what did...

Top 5 Things that WOWED me: 
And Gabby's thrilled too.

1. Bridget Sloan's combo on beam. If she could connect that a little bit better I would squeal like a Justin Bieber fan.

2. A. Few. Amazing. Fucking. Vaults.

3. Brenna Dowell's front tumbling. Even more so b/c she's injured. Stay safe though, girl.

4. Dougie's amazing Tkachev to Pak Salto.

5. Sabrina Vega's artistry. That NEVER gets old.

Top 5 Things I'm SO bored with: 
Utterly bored. 
1. The connecting turns on beam. Casey Jo can do it; it doesn't look good on everyone though.

2. The Shaposh-Halfs... Ugh... like... we get it.

3. The Hot Pink. Yes, yes, #teamhotpink is the best, but when GAGE has the most impressive leotards, you need to step up your game.

4.  "I just want to hit 4 for 4."

5. Piked Tkachevs.

Top 5 Things that bummed me out:

1. The amount of spotting going on, particularly on the Nastia front. Her skills are great, but I'll be interested to see her without all of the spotting.
Sarah replicates my face when I see an idiotic fan

2. You all know that  I love Texas Dreams, but I wish that Nica & Peyton would point their toes on those ring leaps.

3. Apparently Brenna Dowell spent a good portion of training looking like she was going to cry. I hope this isn't Ivana Round 2. 

4. Fans who think that one training video makes or breaks someone's shot at the Olympic team.

5. These girls who can hit in training but miss it in competition. I hope that everyone can just hit.

Top 5 Predictions:

1. My gut tells me that Aly will drop bars after the Olympics.

2. I worry that Katelyn is going to fall on beam. I think that she might be stressed at how amazing everyone thinks that she is.

3. 2013 World Vault Champ will be an American with a Triple... Whether it will be McKayla, Lexie or Simone, I'm not sure.

4. I'm waiting for Simone Biles, Nia Dennis and Laurie Hernandez to switch gyms.

5. If any of the veterans don't make Trials, there will be a "sudden injury" excuse.

Top 5 more random thoughts :

1. I don't care if A Sac competes a handspring on vault and a beam routine that I could execute. Props to the girl for coming back so quickly. :)

2. I hope to god that Amelia Hundley doesn't end up 5'8... And if she does that she can gracefully handle being 5'8.

3. I want to write new floor music for Bailie Key. ... I think I will.

4. Ariana Guerra reminds me of Jana Bieger... but like... 2006, "I don't hate you and your gymnastics is good" Jana Bieger, not 2009 Jana.

5. I have a hard time picturing these girls at the Olympics... All of them, with the exception of the vets. Even when I close my eyes and try to think of Jordyn at the Olympics, it's hard. I'm still picturing them all as 12 & 13 year olds.

*All pics are from USA Gymnastics

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Visas Bingo!

So it was suggested to me a while back that I do BINGO on Twitter... I thought that was a great idea... 

It's a completely irrelevant gorgeous pic of Mattie Larson!*
Here's how you play: 
1. CONTACT ME by email with your Twitter name and I will send you a picture of a bingo card. You must be following Get a Grip on Twitter to a receive a card. There are a limited number of cards made up, so email as soon as you can. 
2. Tune into Universal Sports at 8pm ET or turn on the Webcast to watch the Visa National Championships on 6/8, same goes for Sunday on NBC at 4pm ET. 
3. Fill in the spaces as you go. All things must either be seen ON the Universal Sports airing or on Twitter. I'll be trying to tweet some of the less obvious ones. 
4. When you get a "BINGO" tweet me with your card number and how you got a Bingo (e.g. "Four Corners", the "I" column or "the 3rd row across".) Make sure to #VisasBingo when you do it too! 
5. If you're the first one to get a Bingo (on each day) will have the opportunity to guest blog for me (if you want.). Anyone who gets a Bingo will be retweeted.
6. Cards will be cleared after Day 1, but you will keep the same card. 2nd chances are the bomb.  

NBC is totally interchangeable with "Universal Sports" for the purposes of this Bingo. Also, don't judge the formatting, I did it all through a program. 

Happy Bingo-ing! :D 

*Mattie Larson pic is from "" 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

7 Things to do while in St. Louis for Championships

As you may know, St. Louis is my hometown and the place where I lived until about 6 months ago. I'm super bummed that unfortunate circumstances have hindered me from attending National Championships, I wanted to give you my insight on some fun things to do while in town.

I'll start by saying that the Chaifetz Arena is gorgeous and HUGE. This is where I graduated high school, went to basketball games and saw numerous concerts. It's at least twice the size of UIC (where Classics is held), so just prepare yourself for that.

If you're not bringing a car, make sure you take the Metrolink. Chaifetz is closest to the Grand stop.

Here are the top must-sees while in St. Louis for a week or so...

This is the best place to shop in St. Louis. Don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you that you should go somewhere like Plaza Frontenac (where people will judge you for carrying Coach instead of Louis Vuitton), when you can head to the loop and find charming local boutiques and unique restaurants like Blueberry Hill, Fitz's or even Cheesology, a restaurant devoted to different variations of Mac & Cheese. The stores range from the free trade based Plowsharing Crafts to Vintage Vinyl where you can buy just about any piece of music you could imagine. 

One of St. Louis's more unique attractions, the City Museum is literally the most ideal place to visit if you're a gymnast. It's essentially a giant indoor grown up sized playground. It sits in the city with a giant school bus on top, the 3 story slide is the one of the most enchanting attractions. 

St. Louis has one of the best Zoos, and it's FREE! No catch, it really is free! It's pretty much what you'd expect from a zoo, in addition to a really cool penguin exhibit you should go see, especially if it's hot. 

The St. Louis Cardinals
I know, I know, you're in town for gymnastics, but did you opt out of getting men's tickets on Saturday night? Go to a Cardinals' game. It's really unlike any other ballpark in the country. The stadium's reminiscent of Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, but the fans are so excited that they're referred to as "Cardinal Nation". It's an amazing experience that you should really try to check out if you can

Lindenwood University
Are you a gymnast hoping to pursue college gymnastics? This would be a good time to make an unofficial visit to Lindenwood University! Next year will be their first year as an NCAA Gymnastics Team, so you should go see how beautiful the campus is... (REALLY beautiful is the answer.)

Local Delicacies
St. Louis has a few local foods that your can't really find anywhere else. They're not foods that are part of a typical gymnast's diet, but they're still worth trying. They include Ted Drewes (frozen custard), Imo's (St. Louis Style Pizza), Pappy's (St. Louis Style Barbecue) and Toasted Ravioli (Which you can find at Imo's.)
Check them out!

is lame as hell. If it's on your bucket list, then I guess go ahead and go, but in my opinion, it's honestly not worth the time or the money. 

This seems like a pretty comprehensive list... St. Louis Natives, am I missing something? :) 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Chellsie Memmel speaks out on Classics and a denied petition...

Property of Gym Examiner
I'm not going to catch you up on the whole Chellsie Memmel situation, but if you've been under a rock, you can read my post from earlier this week. A few days ago, I realized that we had heard from just about everyone in the gymnastics community on this issue with the exception of Chellsie Memmel, herself. I wondered what she had to say on the issue.

"Classics for me was going to be a tune up meet. We decided to just do one event so I could petition to do all around at Championships, " Memmel said, "No one actually said to me that I needed a 14 in order to be considered for a petition."

Was a score of 14 arbitrarily made up in order to keep the "princesses" in and keep Chellsie out? Many fans think so and are understandably outraged. In under a week, a petition published on has received over 2500 signatures asking USA Gymnastics to reconsider Chellsie's petition.

"I am so grateful to have this amount of support. It honestly took me by surprise how quickly people jumped into action. It's so nice to have such amazing fans," Memmel told Get a Grip.

USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny however, didn't feel as positive about the support, calling her fans "not very cordial or nice" to Andy Memmel according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article published Thursday. Penny also asked Chellsie to retire outright.

"He just suggested that I retire right away. I'm not ready to shut the door completely; I need some more time." But whether or not we'll see Chellsie on the floor next year is still to be determined.

"Right now, I am taking things one day at a time.  I don't know if I will continue, I was planning on being done after this year no matter how things turned out.  I just thought that I would have at least been given the chance to compete at Championships.  My first one was in St. Louis, it would have been cool to be able to have my last one there as well. Since I did take the judges course, that is definitely a path that I can take.  I am also thinking about college," Chellsie said.   

I'm sure that nearly all of Chellsie's fans would love to see her continue, successfully pursuing her 4th quadrennium in elite gymnastics. But I think that it's worth mentioning that few fans are surprised with the exceptional amount of class and professionalism Chellsie exhibited throughout this entire ordeal. When I asked if she thought that she was given a fair chance she simply responded, "I'm just going to say 'no comment'."