Monday, July 30, 2018

GK Classic Brings the Drama

I can't make any promises about regular blogging because I'm heading into grad school and life is about to get crazy! But I would like to at least blog about the big competitions coming up.

So, I dragged my mom and two sisters to the GK Classic on Saturday. I think this is a closest a major competition has been to my hometown since 2003 so I was going to show up. The stands were surprisingly crowded despite the jacked up ticket prices and USAG's current status. The Schottenstein Arena was really easy to find and parking was a breeze. Bottom line, the let's not return to the Sears Centre in Chicago next year, ok?

After getting cut in line at the t-shirt stand (where the selection was lackluster) we found our seats. the only way you can get a bad seat at a gymnastics competition is if a big mom with ornately braided hair sits in front of you. Such was my fate. As long as I craned my neck I was able to see the vaulting mats and uneven bars. My view of floor and beam was blessedly clear.

First thing I noticed, ugly leotards. To start, they all looked really similar with mesh sleeves, the occasional turtleneck and sparse crystals. I don't think I liked a single one except maybe Sloane Blakely and a girl in blue who I can't remember.

I just can't with the mesh.

As far as actual gymnastics goes, this was definitely Simone's meet. It seemed like the people behind the scenes had even arranged it so that Simone was often the only one competing rather than being one of four going up on an event. She had a great first showing despite her bar routine (I think she was off from the get-go) and a lot of girls had very similar belly-flopping type falls. I would say she has to clean up her form a big on bars but everywhere else it was just the usual Simone. Her new floor music is ugly as sin but the routine is basically a rearranged version of what she's competed before.

Second place was Riley McCusker. I was never her biggest fan (and who isn't low-key scared of Maggie Haney?) but props to her for a great comeback. She seemed/looked a lot stronger than in the past and though over scored, her bars were lovely in person. Her floor music is fun too, my youngers sister got a kick out of recognizing it as being from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Third was Morgan Hurd. Regardless of the llama llama unending drama, I am a big fan of this girl's gymnastics. Her first to landings on floor were picture perfect and I loved the whole vibe of her routine. You gotta love a girl with lovely form.

Ragan Smith seems like she's still getting over that injury from last year but other than falling, I think she's on her way. It looked like she's been working extra hard on bars and has cleaned up her routine.

Alyona Shchennikova screwed herself out of a medal with her "fall" (hand down on first pass) on floor. Her beam routine was disappointing, she didn't come close to hitting any of her leaps. Jade Carey was one of the other few who actually did the AA (for the first time in her elite career), she had a fall on bars (if I remember correctly) I'm not sure that it will really help her to do the AA, we shall see.

Not present was Maile O'Keefe (injured) and my girl Trinity Thompson who has peaced out to college, much to my chagrin. Oh and my other girl, Emma Malabuyo only did two events. Adding her as an AAer plus O'Keefe into the mix for Nationals will be interesting to say the least.

If you haven't gotten clued in on the controversy surrounding GOAT Simone Biles and current world champion Morgan Hurd, get your popcorn ready. This post from Gym Truth Teller will sum everything up. It is quite true that Simone did not hug/acknowledge Morgan at all during the medal ceremony. This is all that I saw/noticed in person and obviously there is a lot more going on being the scenes.

Moral of the story: Social media sucks but not as much as some of the people who use it.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Back in Time for Classics!

Hey all! Long time no see :)

Turns out it's really hard to maintain two blogs while being in school full time, working two jobs and writing a book. Who knew? At any rate, I am going to get back to gym blogging so that I can keep up with the happenings this quad.

I'm actually pretty excited to see what goes down at Classics this weekend. For one thing, it will be interesting to see who the major players will be this year/quad (if they can last) and having some actual close competition where we actually don't know the outcome ahead of time.

I wish I could do live coverage but I'm going to a concert on Saturday night so I'll have to recap it the next day.

It's so early to say but I'll do it anyway! My favorites right now are Morgan Hurd, Victoria Nguyen and Emma Malabuyo. I'm also excited to see if Ragan Smith will have any upgrades and Ashton Locklear's return as well. Seeing Laney Madsen in elite competition at last will be cool too.

Stay tuned for a post this Sunday!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My Gymnastics Hopes For 2017

  1. I love Simone but after seeing her style of gymnastics dominate over these past four years, I would love to see a different style getting the top spot. I 'm not even talking about the whole power v. artistry debate. I'm simply looking forward to seeing gymnasts with different strengths and flair.
  2. The return of Norah and hopefully Baillie, be it NCAA or elite for her.
  3. Larissa Lordache to nab the AA at worlds. If she can come back with her old difficulty, I can definitely see this as a possibility. I would love if she could add "world champion" to her resume, she deserves it. Of course she would need to earn the spot first.
  4. Ponor to go away.
  5. Success for China at world, specifically redemption for Shang.
  6. New up and comers from Russia actually showing promise and consistency. I think they have a few contenders, I look forward to seeing them compete.
  7. Less wolf turns, please!
  8. More unique skills, getting rid of cookie cutter bar routines.
  10. Continuing on of the patriotic leotards. Let the pink die.  

Monday, December 5, 2016

Revisiting My Hopes for 2016

Back in January I wrote a post about what I *hoped* to happen this year. Let's see how it all panned out shall we? My current thoughts will be in bold.

  • I have an ideal team for Rio but there are a lot of variations that I'll be happy with so basically, I just want a team that's earned it and that deserves to be there. Sorry Grace, you are going to be sickened and disappointed by the blatant disregard for scores and favoritism in selection process.
  • Additionally, I really want Norah Flatley on that team. Ouch. How about if I said she didn't even compete at Trials at all? Let alone Nationals or Classics? Hoping she'll be back strong this year.
  • I want Simone to make her Olympic mark and win the AA. Yes ma'am. But come on, that was a given.
  • Way deeper fields everywhere, I don't want to already know the outcome for every event in advance. See my "Rio Reflections" post. The fields were so shallow that most could have predicted half of the podiums before anyone even competed.
  • Romanian redemption. Now this is just sad. Romania didn't even make it to Rio so...
  • Someone in the US to really shake things up, a dark horse that no one saw coming. (Coming soon to a theater near you!) Nope, though Skinner did shake me up a bit and make me a fan after years of being critical of her.
  • Good showing for the returning veterans (Ponor, Mustafina, Yao). No Yao and Ponor being in Rio was such a travesty that I was almost glad she underperformed. At least Mustafina did the job, even if she did it with some gifts from the judges.
  • The new Seniors to come in and actually be in the mix for Rio. Ragan Smith I guess, but come on, she had alternate written all over her.
  • Exciting competition during the Trials. Oh yes, it was exciting. Too bad it was all for naught when the committee took whoever they wanted anyway.
  • A lovely, feeling inducing, song to go along with the fluff montages during Rio. Hey, I'm still jamming out to Phillip Phillips "Home". Still no idea why this didn't happen.
  • Leotards that are creative, especially in the US. In my humble opinion, the Under Armour ones from Glasgow left a lot to be desired. YES FINALLY.
  • Fair judging. Mustafina's bronze, the Chinese getting screwed over on bars...nope.
I should be feeling pretty disappointed but this one actually came true: And I guess that's all I can think of for now. Additionally, on a personal level, I really just want to have the time of my life at the Olympic Trials.

My 2017 "hopes" will be here soon!

    Saturday, December 3, 2016

    American Gymnatic Memoirs Reviewed

    This is the 6th installment of my reviews and the newest one is at the bottom. I've been at this since January of 2013!

    1. Grace, Gold and Glory (my leap of faith) by Gabrielle Douglas

    If I'm being honest, this is probably the book I enjoyed the least. I used to love Gabby and her faith but now, not so much. I wish the book would have been more about her time leading up to the Olympics and her personal thoughts and less about her childhood. Now, I totally get that she would want to include her whole life into her book and not just he past few years but I think I would have liked it more had she went more in depth about her Olympic journey. I loved reading about her relationship with her host family and her troubles with being away from home. The inside cover of the book folds out into a neat poster and there are color pictures in the middle of the text.

    2. Winning Balance by Shawn Johnson
    I really loved this book! I think it had a great balance of life in the gym and outside. I didn't know that Shawn was a woman of faith until reading this and that really made me smile. This book takes you from her childhood to her present and you get to follow her through switching gyms to the Olympics and to Hollywood. Her Olympic experience was really well chronicled, she definitely wrote about it the best. I really was able to picture her there and understand her thoughts and feelings. I thought that the portion after the Olympics would be dull but it actually wasn't, even though she struggled to find her place outside the gym at first, she ends up feeling "balanced" once again. This book also includes pictures, which I love!

    3. Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu
    This book was different from the other two in that it was much more raw and Dominique's life had a lot more turmoil. This was an awesome read. I was given a look into her family history and taken all the way to her life now as a wife and mother. It was so enchanting to read about Dominique's life as a tiny 14 year old in the Olympics and yet to know that her life behind closed doors was much less glamorous. I really enjoyed the honesty in this book, I had no idea how political the sport of gymnastics was and how this became clear to Dominique when she was trying to make her comeback. Even with all the drama, there is still plenty of gymnastics in here. The Olympic portions were vivid and I liked reading about her relationships with the other girls. And, the book had pictures in it too!

    4. Letters to a Young Gymnast by Nadia Comaneci
    I have to be really honest, I didn't love this book. I'm not even sure if I liked it. The first half was hard to get though and to be frank, Nadia rubbed me the wrong way. It was as if she had never done anything wrong in her life and she was perfect in every way. Sometimes it even felt as though she was being rude to the reader. There wasn't a whole lot of gymnastics talk in here, there was some of course but a lot of the book was about her life in Romania. The second half or last quarter was much better than the first it was intriguing to read about Nadia's escape from her home country and a more human side of her was exposed as she wrote of her hard transition to America. I liked that we did get some history and background in this book but I had a really hard time warming up to Nada and so the book itself wasn't very enjoyable. There were no pictures!

    5. Chalked Up by Jennifer Sey

    This book was everything I wanted the other four to be and more. Jennifer tells her story of being an elite gymnast in the 80's with honesty and great detail. She doesn't sugar coat over anything-or anyone. I appreciated her telling the absolute truth about her experience because that is what people expect when they buy a memoir. Sey's story is beautiful, heartbreaking and tragic all at once. She doesn't place blame on any one person and clearly has a great sense of self. Above all, this was not written by Sey and some ghost writer, this was written by her alone and it showed her talent as a writer. It wasn't just facts, cut and dry, she told her story in such vivid detail that at times I truly knew what it felt like to be standing on a balance beam or flying on the bars. I have to say it once more, I LOVED THIS BOOK.

    6. It's Not About Perfect by Shannon Miller
    It's really no secret that I LOVE Shannon Miller. She is my favorite gymnast of all time so naturally, I was psyched when I found out she was writing a book about her life. I was not disappointed. I will admit, that at the beginning it was a little bit slow as I waited for all of the action to happen but I was pleased that Shannon took the time to explain certain aspects of the sport that non-gymnasts may not have known about otherwise. Quickly, I got really into the book and had a hard time putting it down. I love the way Shannon detailed her training and her perfect partnership with her coaches. Her competitions were well covered and I liked how she talked about her friendship with her teammates. I do wish she might have went a bit more into some of the hard stuff but it is absolutely her right to keep certain things private. Her cancer battle was chronicled beautifully and continued to show what a graceful and strong person of faith she is. I came away from reading this book with more even more admiration and respect for Shannon than I had before!


    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    My Favorite Vaults (Thru 2012)

    5. Elena Produnova

    It's probably not a surprise that Elena is on my (or other peoples) list. This vault of hers is incredible and no one has been able to execute it nearly as flawlessly as her. In fact, she is the only one who can look good and not like they're about to kill themselves. 

    4. Alicia Sacremone
    Alicia has the most world medals of all American female gymnasts and her impressive vaulting skills have a lot to do with it. She has a ton of power, sometimes even too much, those landings make you think she can add an extra half twist and still be good to go!

    3. Oksana Chusovitina
    Not only has Oksana had a ridiculously long career (and I think still going!) she has had an impressive resume as well! She has won many world and a few Olympic medals and in her late 30's is not slowing down.

    2. Cheng Fei (CHI)

    Cheng Fei was not the typical Chinese pixie that everyone was so used to. She had strength and power. I so wish that the 2008 Olympics would have went differently for her but she has still gone down in history as a legendary vaulter. And she even has a vault named after her!

    1. McKayla Maroney

    I'd have to dub Maroney the best vaulter ever. Period. This vault has to be as close to perfect as they come, it was flawless! McKayla is a fast runner and gets more air than anyone I've ever seen. Her Olympics in 2012 also didn't go as planned so I am hoping she can get her redemption in Rio.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2016

    My Favorite Bar Routines (Thru 2012)

    10. Kyla Ross

    I know it's not the most difficult routine (upgrade Kyla!) but Kyla has great form and girl can hit a handstand like no other, I noticed that in person when I watched her at this years SC.

    9. Ivana Hong

    I know she hardly gets an air on her releases and that the international judges pretty much hated the uniqueness of this routine but honestly in a sport that has lost some individuality recently, I found it refreshing.

    8. Hollie Vise

    Poor Hollie was totally screwed over in 2004 but at least she got her moment to shine at the 2003 worlds. Her form is amazing and she works the apparatus so easily.

    7. Shannon Miller
    Why can no one glue their legs together like this anymore? Seriously, finding a gymnast who can do a cast to handstand without leg separations these days is super rare. I love, love, Shannon's clean lines and form, right down to her toes.

    6. Terin Humphrey
    I love Terin, and I love that she earned a surprise silver medal for this in Athens. Clean, sharp and beautifully executed.

    6. Mo Huilan
    Mo's signature release is AMAZING and the fact that it is now being brought back by Yao Jinan makes me so happy!

    5. Beth Tweddle
    Beth's bar routines have been eye popping from the moment she stepped onto the scene, chalked full of release moves and more daring than anyone else in her field.

    3. Aliya Mustafina
    I love Aliya, I love how she came back from injury and is carrying the Russian team through some valley's. I was so happy she won gold in London for this.

    2. Chellsie Memmel
    I love the ending to Chellsie's bar set, so cool and unique. She continually performed well on this event, even when injured.

    1. He Kexin

    I'm so happy that He won gold in 2008 instead of her (overrated) close competitor (shall not name names). Love the elegant look she has and her great form.