139: Steve Butcher, President of the FIG Men’s Technical Committee

Steve Butcher smiling on the floor in Nanning, China

FIG Men’s Technical Committee President, Steve Butcher


This Week's Interview
This week the President of the International Gymnastics Federation Men’s Technical Committee, Mr. Steve Butcher is here. Yes, the Nelli Kim of men’s gymnastics talks about spring board thieves, fashion rules, Execution score data analysis (nerdgasm!), tons of Code of Points nerdtastic details, gymnastics jail and if he would want his own son to do elite gymnastics. This is important to you women’s gymnastics fans becuase MAG and WAG rules must now inform each other. What happens in men’s effects the women’s rules! We discuss:

  • The FIG’s analysis of Execution score parity between men’s and women’s judges.
  • The downfall of having too many examples of Execution scores on the FIG Helpdesk.
  • Bruno Grandi’s statement that biomechanics will become a bigger part of the Code of Points versus the medical aspect of athlete health.
  • Bringing back the 10.0 and making it Execution score more visible during competitions.
  • Date for the next Code of Points newsletter with bonus content for the first time in 20-ish years.
  • Artistry in men’s gymnastics: What President Butcher’s female friends say they want to see on men’s floor exercise.
  • Country imposed minimum scores which prevent gymnasts from competing in major international competitions.
  • Release from gymnastics jail for judges – how judges from non-power house countries can gain more experience.
  • Misconceptions about the powers of his position and responsibility for the current Code of Points.
  • How closely he works with Nelli Kim to make sure women’s and men’s gymnastics inform each other.
  • The rule making process — concnesus or majority.
  • Fixing the Broken Grip Rule!
  • Can the FIG regulate the manufacture of grips like they do the equipment?
  • Getting the FIG to match the gold standard for social media and streaming video that USAG has set.

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138: Prince Emyre Cole

emyre cole in a bunny suit doing a split leap over winter cup

Who’s that in the middle? Why it’s Winter Cup Prize for Elegance winner, Mr. Emyre Cole.


In the News

In the news, Uncle Tim, Spencer, Evan and Jessica chat about:

  • LSU putting a whoopin’ on Florida where Bridget Sloan returned to competition for the Gators. But Tiger fans are riled up by the bad sportsmanship allegations levied by Faehn and Caquatto. We give you our opinions on the controversey.
  • Massive scores at Alabama v. Georgia meet with seven 9.9 or above in the first three rotations for the Tide. Meanwhile, Georgia is having their worst start since 1998.
  • Lindsey “Perfection” Mable moves into first in the all-around ranking this week with a 39.545 RQS (regional qualifying score), but Rheagan “Alpha Tigress” Courville scored a season high of 39.825 at home. We tell you what the RQS means at this point in the season.
  • The only non-pro gymnast from the Fierce Five, Kyla Ross, committed to UCLA.
  • Understanding the new four-year-guarantee scholarship rules and what it means for gymnastics teams with more than 12 gymnasts on their roster in 2016. It’s not retroactive people!
  • The comeback is real! Gabby Douglas shows off a new bar combo and a solid standing full in the latest USA Gymnastics video.
  • Updates on seniors from the latest US National Team camp at the Ranch; Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and even Sabrina Vega.
  • New gymnastics movie alert! The Bronze, starring Bernadette from Big Bang Theory is getting rave reviews, but not for the dialog.

Related Links

The Balance Bean Situation

Road to Nationals

College Fantasy Gymnastics

USA Gymnastics YouTube Channel

Gymnastics Meets


Related Photos

Emyre cole gymnast split leap bunny suit

Emyre Cole’s is also a dancer. Check out his Instagram eb.cole

Nalani Cook coach of emyre cole

Emyre Cole with his coach, Nalani Cook


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Quick Hits: The 2015 Winter Cup – Finals


Welcome to the finals of the Winter Cup! Right now, the gymnasts are warming up. The coaches are yawning off their late nights of Vegas shenanigans. And Jessica, the Producer of GymCastic, is trying to contain her excitement. It is her first Winter Cup, and she is in the same location as her favorite, Stacey Ervin.

What’s at stake tonight? Being named to the National Team. According to the rules, the 6 men who competed at the 2014 World Championships and the alternate have guaranteed spots on the National Team. In other words, these guys don’t have to worry about a thing:

  • Donnell Whittenburg
  • Sam Mikulak
  • John Orozco
  • Jake Dalton
  • Danell Leyva
  • Alex Naddour
  • Paul Ruggeri

For the rest of the field, there are 8 spots open on the National Team. These spots will be determined by the following criteria:

  • The top three all-around gymnasts, who are not automatically qualified for the National Team
  • Two based on the National Team Point System
  • Two athletes selected by the Men’s Program Committee
  • One athlete selected by the National Team Coordinator

How can you watch the competition? There will be a live feed that starts at 7pm PST, and as always, the USA Gymnastics media team will upload the videos to their YouTube channel.

Rotation 1

Ryan Sheppard on VT: Sticks his Kasamatsu 1/1. Stanford has a huge cheering section.

Yul Moldauer on HB: Misses his Kovacs. Arms just weren’t long enough. Bends his legs going into his Stalder. Decent Weiler. Lovely full-twisting double layout – WITH the flair.

Bobby Baker on PH: Good swing on the Sivado. Little leg separation on his flop work and his swing starts to pike more. Up into the handstand. And he’s up in the handstand, and he’s done.

Josh Dixon on HB: Endo. Adler 1/2.  Extra giant before the stretched Tkatchev. A straddle Tkatchev. Doesn’t go over the right way on his Adler 1/1. Stalder. Simple full-twisting double layout.

Sean Senters on VT: Yet another huge Shewfelt vault from Senters. A little sad that there wasn’t a triple-twisting Yurchenko. Maybe he’s saving it for NCAAs.

Akash Modi on VT: A good Kasamatsu 1.5. He really cranks the twists in at the last second.

Paul Ruggeri on HB: Uprise to one-armed 1/1 giant. A little tucked and piked in the Cassina. Short of swing on his Tkatchev 1/2 – almost eats the bar and presses it up into handstand. Struggles on his second 1/2-twisting release. Double-double layout to finish.

Ellis Mannon on PH: My children will do flairs like Ellis Mannon. Opens with some scissors. And a flop on one pommel. Then goes into his flair work with spindles. And then a kid stood up in front of me and I couldn’t see. Looks like his routine finished strongly.

Jonathan Horton HB: Endo to Healy. Misses his hands on his Cassina. He looks peeved with himself. Stretched Kovacs and a Kolman. Adler 1/1 right on top of the bar into a Yamawaki. Stalder. Double-double layout into a small hop forward.

Steven Legendre on FX: Opens with a huge double full to punch double front. Big hop forward. Tamayo – lands with straight legs, and the Oklahoma boys jump with fear. Arabian double on the side. Back 2.5 to front full. Wide-armed press handstand. Man wipe. Stretched Thomas. Sticks his Arabian double pike. (Keep in mind that there’s stick bonus at this meet, and the stick bonus is applied to the D score.)

Danell Leyva on HB: (Competing at the same time as Sam) Wild Stalder 1.5 as usual. Stretched Tkatchev to Rybalko is a little wild. Double-twisting double layout to a small hop. The crowd goes wild, and so does Yin, almost punching Danell in the face as he cheers and pumps his fist.

Sam Mikulak on PB: Good peach 1/2. Misses handstand on next Peach. Good Straddle 1 1/4 to underswing. Double front to a low landing and hop back.

Donnell Whittenburg on HB: Adler 1/2 to Yamawaki. Quast. Blind change. Adler 1/2 with bent legs. Wally twirl and he’s off. Remounts. Casts handstand. Tries the skill again. Endo. Stalder. Sticks his double-twisting double layout.

Stacey Ervin on PB: He will be competing at the same time as Whittenburg on HB. Opens with a peach to handstnad. Giant. Diamadov-a litlte crooked. Stutz. Front uprise to Straddle 1 1/4 to underswing. L-sit to press handstand. Sticks double pike.

After 7 rotations at Winter Cup… Steven Legendre leads.

1. Steven Legendre 103.050
2. Paul Ruggeri 102.750
3. Marvin Kimble 101.400
4T. Donnell Whittenburg 101.050
4T. Donathan Bailey 101.050
6. Allan Bower 100.100
7. Alec Yoder 99.550
8. Danell Leyva 99.500


Rotation 2

Josh Dixon on FX: Back 2.5 to rudi. Arabian double pike. Front double full to front full. Wide-arm press handstand. Stretched Thomas. Doesn’t get his triple all the way around.

Kevin Wolting on VT: Sticks the crap out of his Shewfelt.

Paul Ruggeri on FX: Opens with a Tamayo. Steps OOB. Arabian double pike with a small hop. Stretched Thomas. Wide-arm press handstand. Rolls out and presses through to handstand. Back 2.5 to front 1/1. Back 1.5 to front 2/1. Full-twisting double tuck to a small hop.

Akash Modi on PB: Wild legs on giant 1/1. Good Bhavsar. A little archy on 1/2 pirouette. Tippelt. Crazy legs on Diamadov. Uprise to handstand. Stutz. Lands low on Kato dismount, but only takes a small hop. No duck walk this time.

Jonathan Horton FX: double-double. Small hop. Deep squat on punch double front out of back 1.5. Wide-arm press. Punch 2/1 to barani. Huffing and puffing. Back 2.5 to front full. OOB. Thomas. Deep breaths. Full-twisting double. Gets it to his feet.

Donathan Bailey on VT: Kasamatsu 1/1 with a small hop.

Sam Mikulak on HB: Good Cassina. Catches Kolman under bar. Looks like he struggled on his Stalder-Rybalko. Double-double layout. He finishes just seconds after Leyva on floor.

Danell Leyva on FX: Double-double. Almost out, but stays in. Front 1/1 to front 2/1. Out of control ont he landing. Arabian double pike. Thomas. Whip to back 2.5 punch barani and almost takes off his head. Double layout with a step back. Yin is cheering his head off and jumping. Is the magic back?

Steven Legendre on PH: Opens with scissors. Really struggling on his flop. Almost comes off on his Russian on one-pommel. Bent legs. Crazy-parkour legs on his handstand pirouette/traveling dismount across the horse.

Donnell Whittenburg on FX: Back 1.5 to front double. Hop forward. Double-twisting double layout -pikes it down. Wide-arm press handstand. Lackadaisical stag jump. Front layout to front  double pike. Back 2.5 to front full. Stretched Thomas. Catches breath. Arabian double pike 1/2 out to finish.

Yul Moldauer on FX: Arabian double tuck 1/2 out – like Katherine Grable. Good flair work. Front 2/1 to barani – a little crooked. Wide-arm press handstand. Stag jump into the corner. Does a rudi instead of a randi. Whip to double full. Back 2.5 to a small hop to finish.

At the end of two, Paul Ruggeri leads by 1.450 over Legendre.


Rotation 3

Loochtan on VT: Launches a huge handspring double front. Sticks.

Paul Ruggeri on PH: Stays on, but has troubles on his Russians into his dismount. Legs get a little crazy.

Sean Senters on HB: He’s like the Kyla Ross of MAG. Consistent and clean. High stretched Tkatchev 1/2. Another stretched Tkatchev. Stalder. Rybalko. Stalder 1/2. Peels on his dismount and does a double layout to his feet. Then belly flops. (And I jinxed him on the consistency.)

Jonathan Horton on PH: Struggles on both of his scissors to handstand. He’s off on his Russians. Presses up to handstand on his dismount.

Emyre Cole on VT: Decent Shewfelt. A little short on twisting rotation.

Bobby Baker on VT: Kasamatsu 1.5. Good rotation.

Sam Mikulak on FX: Back 1.5 to front 2/1. Sits down his front full to front double. Not even close. Back 2.5 to rudi. Good. Air flairs. And he falls on those. Wide-arm handstand. Stretched Thomas.

Danell Leyva on PH: Legs bent a bit on his first scissors to handstand. Straddles legs on his Russians. Really struggles on his triple Russians on the end of the pommels. Makes it up to handstand. Yin is happy with it.

Stacey Ervin on FX: Cowboys too hard on his front double twist to double front and flies forward. Good Tamayo. Wide-arm press handstand. Back 2.5 to barani. Back 1.5 to rudi. Doesn’t go up on his stretched Thomas. Sticks his Arabian double tuck.

Donnell Whittenburg on PH: Opens with scissors to handstand. Has to press up the second one. He’s off before just before the dismount. Re-mounts and finishes.

Donathan Bailey on PB: (jumping in the end) Good Stutz. Nice tight double pike. Chest up on landing, and takes a small step back with his right foot.

Cameron Bock on PB: Peach – a little archy up on the way up to handstand. Good bail to  back 1/2 to upper arms. Diamadov. Moy. Half pirouette. Looong Bhavsar. Hits the rails on his Tippelt. Safety rolls forward out of his double pike.

Kiwan Watts on FX: Sky high double-double. Back 2.5 to barani. Wu Guonian (Arabian 1 3/4.) Lovely flairs and spindles up to handstand. Back 1.5 to front full. Very dramatic mine wipe – with style. Touches his hand down on his triple twist. He has a similar problem with pulling his twists around on vault.

At the halfway point, Paul Ruggeri is tied for the lead with Steven Legendre…

1T. Paul Ruggeri 131.500
1T. Steven Legendre 131.500
3. Marvin Kimble 130.800
4. Donnell Whittenburg 129.250
5. Allan Bower 129.100
6. Donathan Bailey 129.000
7. Akash Modi 128.600
8. Danell Leyva 128.250


Rotation 4

Allan Bower on VT: Kasamatsu 1.5. A little bent in the air. Deep squat. And a shuffle sideways.

Jonathan Horton on SR: Falls on his dismount. Seems to be lacking in stamina right now. Perhaps too many late nights with the baby.

Steven Legendre on VT: Sticks his handspring double front. The best one we have seen all day. As Jessica put it on Twitter, “He slammed the vault mat into another dimension.”

Marvin Kimble on HB: 1/2 pirouette. Catches his Liukin. Stretched Tkatchev to Tkatchev 1/2 that barely gets araound. Has to tuck through on his Adler 1/2 to stretched Tkatchev 1/2. Really late turn. Not sure if it should get credit, but the judges will give him credit anyway. A full-twisting double layout to finish.

Hunter Justus on VT: Handspring double front. Deep squat. Step forward. Steps looked a little choppy right before the landing.

Sam Mikulak on PH: Really good form on his Russians–Rare in this competition. Nice stretch on the Sivado. Up to the handstand without a problem. Huge cheer from the Michigan crowd before he even lands. Pommel horse, the event that tricked him up at P&G Championships, has been Sam’s best event thus far.

Donnell Whittenburg: Uprise to planche. Giant to handstand. Double-twisting double layout to a hop back. (Missed the beginning of the routine due to Sam on pommels.)

Cameron Bock on HB: He’s off on his straddle Tkatchev.

Bobby Baker on PB: Has to take an extra swing on his mount. Crazy legs on his Diamadov — the kind of crazy legs that you see during the warmups for the men. Is he getting deducted too much on the skill? Should he keep it in? Good Tippelt. Rushes his double pike. No height and has to take a hop forward.

Paul Ruggeri on SR: Kip to V-sit cross. Presses up to L-sit. Presses up to handstand. Giant. A little swing and sag in the back. Uprise to handstand. Gets rid of the swing. Jonasson to Yamawaki to whip-it cross. Dislocate to Mustafina dismount (double tuck with 1.5 twists.) Looks like he let go too soon. Takes a few steps back.

Kevin Wolting on HB: He had a scary fall during prelims. Let’s hope he can stay on. Yamawaki to open. Big stretched Tkatchev 1/2. Big straddled Tkatchev 1/2. Sticks his full-twisting double layout. He looks relieved and really happy.

With two more rotations to go, Steven Legendre is in the lead with a 146.800. That’s a 1.100 lead.

1. Steven Legendre 146.800
2. Marvin Kimble 145.700
3. Paul Ruggeri 145.150
4. Donnell Whittenburg 144.100
5T. Allan Bower 143.450
5T. Akash Modi 143.450


Rotation 5

Danell Leyva on VT: Kasamatsu 1/1. A little hop on the landing.

Donnell Whittenburg on VT: Handspring double front. Huge. Just huge. With a small hop on the landing.

Marvin Kimble on FX: Front layout to front double pike. Sits down his Arabian double pike. Double back side pass. Russians–could be a little faster. Cartwheel into the corner. Front 2/1 to front full. Double layout with a little hop back.

Sam Mikulak on PB: Could only see parts of routine. Had level problems on the Maltese. Does a reverse planche – a la Zmeskal – before his dismount. Pulls it together and does a good double-double.

Josh Dixon on VT: Yurchenko 1/2 on to double full off. Doesn’t get the twist all the way around. Crosses legs on landing. He totally Skinnered the vault – one-arming it.

Allan Bower on PB: Bent legs on his opening. Okay peach. Bail to back 1/2 to upper arms. Bent legs on Diamadov. Bent legs on front uprise. Bent legs on straddle 1 1/4 to upper arms. Stutz. Back 1/2 from uppers to uppers. Double pike with a hop forward.

Bobby Baker on HB: Endo. Endo Healy. Front one-armed giant with 1/1. Good healy. Weiler. 1/2 pirouette. Opens up OUT of his triple back, and the crowd lets out a huge OOOOOH!

Paul Ruggeri on VT: Yurchenko 1/2 on to double full off. Twists a little as he lands. Side step.

Peter Daggett on HB: Opens with a Yamawaki. A little leg separation on his one-armed giant with 1/1. Past on his Adler 1/1. Past on his Stalder. Full-twisting double layout. He spots the ground so well.

Kevin Wolting on FX: Opens with a side pass: A Thomas. Front 2/1 to front 1/1. Back 1.5 to rudi. Sticks his double full side pass. Press handstand from split. Back 2.5 to barani. Sticks his triple twist. He’s happy. Fist pumping, as he should. He’s on the bubble for being on the National Team.

With one event to go, Paul Ruggeri is leading the pack…

1. Paul Ruggeri 160.500
2. Steven Legendre 160.450
3. Donnell Whittenburg 159.100
4. Marvin Kimble 158.800
5. Akash Modi 158.050
6. Allan Bower 157.750
7. Kevin Wolting 157.500
8. Donathan Bailey 157.250
9. Alec Yoder 156.160
10. Danell Leyva 155.750


Rotation 6

Sam Mikulak on VT: Kasamatsu 1.5. A hop back on the landing. Looks like he jumps too high onto the board instead of pushing his power forward. But now is not the time to change his technique.

Marvin Kimble on PH: Stays on, and he’s happy.

Justin Spring is kneeling and jumping and kneeling during Bobby Baker‘s floor routine.

Stacey Ervin on VT: Handspring double front to a deep, deep squat. Steps. Those quards are firing.

Donnell Whittenburg on PB: Gets a huge cheer for his Dmitrenko. Flings his double front forward. But gets it to his feet and hops forward.

Donathan Bailey on PH: Stays on, but should have minor deductions for things like shoulder angle on his circles. A small leg deduction on his traveling too. But it should keep him in National Team contention.

Steven Legendre on HB: Didn’t see the beginning of the routine, but I did see the open triple tuck. It was like Kytra Hunter-style open at the end. For a triple back. No big deal.

Kyle King on VT: A huge Kasamatsu 1.5. Stuck. Even the Michigan coach is cheering for that. I mean, how can’t you?

Paul Ruggeri on PB: Opens on the side. Clear hips up. Pirouettes in. Peach to handstand. Cowboyed Dmitrenko. Diamadov. Stutz. Has to press up on his handstand. Good straddle 1 1/4. Sticks his double pike. Paul Ruggeri should win the 2015 Winter Cup title.

Kevin Wolting on PH: Gets his legs caught on his opening scissors travel to the middle. That was the quickest pommel horse routine ever. It was pretty much Russians the entire way through. I guess if you’re good at them, might as well do them, right?

Akash Modi on SR: Whip it cross. L-cross. Presses up to L- sit. Legs low on his straddle planche. A little swing on his handstands. Safety rolls out of his double-double. That’s going to hurt his automatic qualification for the National Team. He might need to rely on a wild card slot.

Danell Leyva on PB: Lots of chalk time. Gotta get the bars perfect. Yin kisses Danell on the head. Flicks his ears. And Danell is ready to begin. Peach to handstand. Walks hands. Peach 1/1. Peach to single rail. Touches his legs on his Straddle jam over one rail. Lacks height on his back 1/2 from uppers to uppers. A little cowboy and flexed feet on double front. Hop on the landing.

Emyre Cole on FX: Just watch this routine. It’s beautiful. It deserves the GymCastic Prize for Elegance.

Final All-Around Standings

1. Paul Ruggeri 175.250
2. Steven Legendre 174.700
3. Donnell Whittenburg 174.500
4. Marvin Kimble 173.800
5. Donathan Bailey 172.050
6. Kevin Wolting 171.900
7. Allan Bower 171.700
8. Alec Yoder 171.250
9. Akash Modi 171.150
10. Danell Leyva 170.800

Floor:  1. Steven Legendre 31.100
2. Stacey Ervin 30.550
3. Paul Ruggeri 30.300

Pommels: 1. Ellis Mannon 30.700
2. Marvin Kimble 30.200
3. Donathan Bailey 30.050

Rings: 1. Marvin Kimble 30.300
2. Steven Lacombe 30.050
3. Steven Legendre 29.700

Vault: 1. Paul Ruggeri 30.700
2. Steven Legendre 30.500
3. Josh Dixon 30.450

P-Bars: 1. Danell Leyva 30.550
2. Donnell Whittenburg 30.250
3. Marvin Kimble 29.650

High Bar: 1. Paul Ruggeri 30.550
2. Jordan Valdez 29.750
3. Robert Neff 29.150

Event winners get a plaque, as well as a bright orange-ish red jacket. Marvin Kimble and Stacey Ervin dance their way off the floor.


Automatically qualifying for the National Team based on their AA scores:

Steven Legendre
Marvin Kimble
Donathan Bailey

Automatically qualifying for the National Team based on their points:

Kevin Wolting
Akash Modi

Receiving the Wild Card spots:

TBA – Those will be announced online by USA Gymnastics

Catching up with Paul Hamm at the 2015 Winter Cup

Paul-HammIn 2003, Paul Hamm became the first U.S. man to win the World all-around title. Heading into the Athens Olympics, Paul was the favorite for all-around gold. But, during the fourth rotation, Paul missed his Kasamatsu 3/2, causing him to topple over sideways, almost having a Daniel Purvis moment of falling on top of the judges. Paul’s score: a 9.137.

With two events to go, it seemed as if Paul had taken himself out of medal contention. Commentators across the world said that Paul’s chances for gold were gone. Paul, however, proved them wrong. After scoring a 9.837 on both parallel bars and high bar, Paul found himself on top of the podium in Athens.

Paul experienced “24 hours of total glee,” according to Sheryl Shade. But his bubble of joy popped quickly.

During the competition, Yang Tae-young, the South Korean gymnast who finished in third, just 0.049 behind Paul, was credited for a 9.9 start value on parallel bars. He should have been credited with a 10.0 start value, but the judges had mistaken one of his skills for a simpler skill. (They credited him with a Morisue instead of a Belle on parallel bars.)

Kim Dong-min, a Korean judge on parallel bars, noticed the error, and spoke with George Beckford, an American and the head judge for the p-bars. Beckford said that a 9.9 start value was correct. Kim then spoke with a member of the Korean delegation, who reported the error to two A-panel judges, Bultrago Reyes of Colombia and Benjamin Bango of Spain. They noticed their error. Yang should have been given a 10.0 start value.

Had Yang received credit for a Belle, he would have had a 10.0 start value, and he would have won the meet. As you can imagine, the Korean delegation filed a protest, which the FIG refused to hear because the protest was filed after the event.

Two days after the meet, the FIG Executive Committee reviewed the routine and released a statement admitting that Yang’s start value should have been a 10.0. Bruno Grandi, the FIG President, wrote a letter to Paul, asking him to voluntarily give his gold medal to Yang.

We’ll spare you the details of the rest of the history. Suffice it to say that, after much arbitration, Paul Hamm was allowed to keep his gold medal.

With the controversy and his gymnastics career behind him, Paul is now a coach at Premier Gymnastics. He is in Las Vegas at Winter Cup, coaching Alex Diab, a junior who will attend the University of Illinois in the fall. GymCastic caught up with him after the first day of competition.

 Would Paul rather be a gymnast or a coach?

“Ultimately, being a gymnast is probably more fun because you’re flying through the air. The excitement of competition is hard to match. But I enjoy the role of the coach at this point because there are so many people you can influence and help. I work with kids from the age of 6 all the way up to 18 – Not to mention that I go to National Team Training Camps and help some of the top athletes in the United States. As an athlete, there are certain things that are really fun, but as a coach, the way you can help people is just as rewarding.”

On making the jump from competing to coaching…

“One thing that is difficult is understanding that the actual performances aren’t actually in your hands. It’s very difficult to sit back and watch because you can’t control the situation. Your athlete is out there, and he’s the one who is going to be doing the gymnastics. That’s difficult at times.”

“The other thing is finding a way to motivate, to try to push people, to try to lead them. It’s difficult when you were in the opposite position–when you were always being led by somebody. Changing roles takes a little time and adjustment.”

On Alex Diab’s back spin into his press handstand…

“Alex’s dad was a gymnast. He was the NCAA Champion on rings, so Alex was born to be good at rings. The back spin was done similarly–I’m not sure if it was exactly the same–by his father in the past, and he passed that onto his son. I think it’s awesome.”

On looking back at the 2004 Olympics…

“When I look back, it hasn’t changed all that much. It has just become more distant. The thoughts that I had back then when I was going through the controversy are still the same thoughts that I have today. Given the way the situation happened, I thought that I was the rightful winner of the gold medal, and I still feel that way today…”

“The fact that I was on the podium at the end of the day means something. Imagine that you’re at the Super Bowl, and you crown the champion. Then, the next day, the officials say that your foot was on the line during your run up the field before a touchdown. That’s not something you go back and check. In football, in situations like that, you’re supposed to throw the flag. In gymnastics, you’re supposed to do a similar thing, which is file a protest in a certain amount of time.”

“It was a difficult situation to go through. But I think that the arbitrators did the right thing by allowing me to keep my medal.”

Looking ahead to Alex Diab’s future…

“Alex is going to the University of Illinois in the fall. He has accepted a full scholarship there. And that’s a great place for him to be. He has Justin Spring as the head coach. Then there’s Ivan Ivankov, who was a great champion whom I used to watch, and Daniel Ribeiro. He’ll be in good in hands.”

“In the junior program, that’s something that coaches have to get used to – building up an athlete and saying, ‘Okay, go fly in college.’ The college atmosphere is great. The fact that they have trainers. They have better equipment. They have people who are dedicated all day long to gymnastics. That’s what really helps them progress to the next level.”

On not doing college gymnastics…

“I think that there is a part of the college experience that I wish that I would have had – the team environment, everyday working towards the goal of becoming NCAA champions with the guys who are like your brothers. I don’t think that I got that quite as much as I would have liked. But I did train at Ohio State with my brother. We were around the Ohio State gymnastics team, so we got a sense of what that was like.”

Quick Hits: The 2015 Winter Cup – Session 2

LAS VEGAS, NV – The second session of men are currently warming up, so let’s take a moment to cover the basics about this competition.

What’s going on today? The juniors and seniors will be competing in two sessions. Session 1 starts at 1pm PST, and Session 2 starts at 6:30pm PST. You can watch a live feed here.

Who advances to the finals on Saturday, February 21? Short answer: Roughly half the field. The long answer:

  • The top 24 gymnasts from the all-around competition
  • Also: The top 18 individual event point winners (not included among the top 24 all-arounders)
  • Finally, the top 3 athletes on each event.

How does the Winter Cup point system work? The top 20 gymnasts on each event receive points. 1st place receives 20 points, and 20th place receives 1 point. If there’s a tie for, say, 2nd place, both gymnasts will receive 19 points, and the next gymnast in line will receive 17 points.

Notable gymnasts in the second session:

  • Jake “The Toes” Dalton  – Psych! Jake was supposed to compete, but he has withdrawn.
  • Steven Legendre, the owner of a World silver and bronze medal.
  • Sam Mikulak, a member of the U.S. Worlds Team that won bronze, the 2014 American Cup Champ, and the star of his own dance cam.
  • Paul Ruggeri, a member of the 2014 U.S. Worlds Team that won bronze. (He’s also the winner of the tattoo competition.)
  • Donnell Whittenburg, the runner-up at last year’s Winter Cup and a member of the 2014 U.S. Worlds Team that won bronze.
  • Chris Brooks, the winner of the 2014 Winter Cup.
  • Stacey Ervin, Jessica’s favorite and a former National Team member with a huge vault.
  • Peter Daggett, the son of one Mr. Timmy D!
  • Alec Robin, the 2014 NCAA floor and vault champion.

Bored while we wait for the meet to start? Read our quick hits from session 1.

After 1 session, here are your leaders:

1. Akash Modi 84.250
2. CJ Maestas 84.050
3. Danell Leyva 84.000
4T. Robert Neff 83.750
4T. Grant Breckenridge 83.750
6. Bobby Baker 83.000
7. Kiwan Watts 82.750
8. Jonathan Horton 82.300

Important warm-up update: Chris Brooks has one mean shimmy and booty shake to Pitbull’s “Fireball.”

Rotation 1

We were treated to yet another stirring rendition of the National Anthem performed by an actress from Bally’s Fifty Shades of Grey.

Paul Ruggeri on VT: Yurchenko 1/2 on – front 2/1 off. A little form coming down for the landing. 15.350

Adrian de los Angeles on PB: Straddle cut to handstand. Peach 1/2. A little walking. Belle. Tippelt with lovely toe point during the bail before the skill. Healy. Stutz. Diamadov. Double pike. Big hop forward. 14.500

Sam Mikulak on PB: As usual, he’s taking forever to chalk the bars. It’s like Worlds all over again. A little bent arms on his first skill. Botches his peach 1/2. STruggles on the giant after. Leg separation on giant front 1/2. Straddle front. Tippelt. Stutz. Front uprise to a double front tuck. A little hesitation on the landing. 14.100.

Anthony McCaullum on VT: Over-rotates a HUGE Tsuk double pike! Watch the replay on the USAGym YouTube channel! 14.450

Marvin Kimble on SR: Azarian to cross. Maltese. Uprise to Maltese. Kip to inlocate to Yamawaki to Jonnason. To cross. Little arch in his handstands. Full-twisting double layout. 15.200.

Steve Legendre on PH: Missed it, but he spun on his butt on the pommel horse like a top, and he’s off. Gets up. Does a Tong Fei. A Sivado. And then up to his handstand. Struggles to maintain the rhythm and balance. 13.050.

Josh Dixon on VT: Yurchenko 1/2 on – front 2/1 off. A little cleaner than Paul’s. 15.300.

Whittenburg on VT: *Just* does a handspring double front. No Dragulescu today. Huge lunge forward. 14.700.

Chris Brooks on VT: Huge handspring double front. Over-rotates it into a donkey kick. Puts his hands down. 14.100.

Wolting on HB: He’s ranked 3rd in the NCAA right now in the all-around. Opens with a Yamwaki. Huge Tkatchev 1/2 stretched. Another Tkatchev 1/2 straddled. And then he pings off the high-bar onto the carpet, misses the mats entirely.

He’s sitting up now. Phew. He’s going to keep going. I don’t have those cojones.

Endo. Healy. Endo. Sticks his full-twisting double layout.

Still gets a 13.350.

Loochtan on FX: Opens with a lovely double front pike! And finishes with a full-twisting double tuck. (I didn’t see the interior due to the high bar situation.) 14.750.

After 1 Rotation:

1. Paul Ruggeri 15.350
2. Josh Dixon 15.300
3. Marvin Kimble 15.200
4. Allan Bower 14.900
5. Matthew Loochtan 14.750


Rotation 2

Sam Mikulak on HB: Uprise 1/2. Barely catches his Cassina. Kolman not in combination – Probably the best skill in the entire routine. Terrible Rybalko – catches almost under the bar.  Barely gets his hands on the bar for his Tkatchev 1/2. Wild Adler 1/1. Has to stop and take extra swings and kip up. Does a level 6-style crunchy, archy giant. Way off on his double-twisting double layout.

No dance cam today.

Trevor Howard on FX: Butt bounces his Tamayo. Front layout to front double tuck. Hop back. Back 2.5 to front full. Laid out Thomas. (Missed part to watch P. Daggett). Arabian double to a deep squat.

Peter Daggett on VT: Kasamatsu 1/2 with a big lunge forward.

Steven Legendre on SR: Cross. Uprise to piked planche. Jonasson and Yamawaki to a straddled planche – feet too low. Double-double tuck – hop back.

Stacey Ervin on HB: Yamawaki 1/2. Adler 1/2 – way past handstand, but the Michigan boys yell, “Nice,” even though it was past handstand — So college. Straddled Tkatchev. Misses his Tkatchev 1/2 – doesn’t even turn. Finishes strong.

Eric Klein on VT: Handspring double front. Deep squat – butt almost scraped.

Donnell Whittenburg on PB: (jumping in mid-routine.) Good Dmitrenko. Giant – kind of bent. Giant to back 1/2 to upper arms. Straddle 1 1/4 to upper arms. Walks his handstand. Front uprise to double front. Little shuffle on landing.

Steven Lacombe on FX: Opens with a punch randi. Front 2/1 to 3/2. Arabian double front 1/2 out. Love his Alvariño – Basically a Maltese on floor – press to handstand. Cartwheels out of one of his passes. Arabian double tuck to finish.

Chris Brooks on PB: Giant 1/1. Giant. Giant to back 1/2. Front 1 1/4 to upper arms. Sits his Tippelt down. Step back on his front double tuck.

Paul Ruggeri on PB: Mounts on the side – pirouettes in. Walks on his peach basket. Good Dmitrenko. Does a Kim Zmeskal-style reverse planche on p-bars. New skill? Uprise to straddle 1 1/4. Back toss to 1/4 off to one rail. Double pike dismount.

Glenn on FX: Back 2.5 to front full tucked. Low on the landing. Wide-armed press handstand. Weak hitch kick–Needs more kick and more amplitude. Sticks his double full side pass. Thomas into the corner. Back 1.5 to front tuck. Man wipe. Triple full – doesn’t have enough juice. Almost drags his knuckles on the floor as he lunges forward.


Rotation 3

Alec Robin on VT: Kasamatsu 1.5 with bent knees and puts it to his seat.

Josh Dixon on HB: EEndo. Adler 1/2. No connection. Stretched Tkatchev. Straddled Tkatchev. No connection. Doesn’t make it over on his Adler 1/1. Super close on Yamawaki. Misses his straddle up to handstand. Feet got stuck. Endo 1/1. Healy. Full-twisting double layout to finish.

He took out his Jaeger 1/1. :(

Steven Legendre on VT: Handspring double front – major cowboy. Little shuffle on landing. He sauntered into that.

Stacey Ervin on FX: Front 2/1 to front double. Huge, floaty Tamayo. It’s the Kytra Hunter of Tamayos. Back 2.5 to barani. Back 1.5 to rudi. Stretched Thomas. Huge, stuck Arabian double to finish. Big Stacey Ervin – Hulk style scream.

Hunter Justus on VT: Deep squat after his handspring double front. He must be doing Lisa Mason squats to keep his booty off the floor.

Donnell Whittenburg on HB: Yamawaki. Quast (hop full). Adler 1/2. Misses his Wally twirl. Barely gets hand on. Double-twisting double to finish. Rough high bar – really muscled.

Allan Bower on VT: Kasamatsu 1.5. Lots of form and a hop on the landing.

Chris Brooks on PB: “Fireball” is playing in the background. No shimmying like in warmups – all business. Yamawaki 1/2. That skill needs to die. Yamawaki to a straddled Tkatchev 1/2. This is a very Oleg Verniaiev-style routine. Needs a double salto if he wants to make a Worlds final again. A hit for Team OTC.

The judges are taking a long time to judge this routine. Perhaps trying to decide if some of those 1/2 twists were really 1/2 twists.

Nope, they just wanted to confirm that he deserved a 16.200, with a 9.100 in execution. Seems a little high. It shouldn’t score that well internationally.

Wolting on PH: Only seeing the end. Wu Guonian down. Roth back. Russians dismount.

Paul Ruggeri on HB: Long wait before his routine. One-armed giants. Piked Cassina. (His Kolman was prettier.) Adler 1/2 to stretched Tkatchev. No connection. Straddled Tkatchev. Adler 1/1 to Yamwaki 1/2. Double-twisting double layout with a step forward.

At the halfway point, Paul Ruggeri is leading the meet. He’s 1.55 ahead of where Akash Modi was at the halfway point.

1. Paul Ruggeri 45.200
2. Chris Brooks 44.850
3. Marvin Kimble 44.550
4. Donathan Bailey 43.900
5. Donnell Whittenburg 43.800
6. Hunter Justus 43.550
7. Allan Bower 43.500
8. Kevin Wolting 43.800 – Even after the high bar craziness

Sam Mikulak scratched FX. Maybe he’s saving himself for American Cup? After his rough high bar, it’s probably for the best.

Rotation 4

Cameron Bock on VT: Kasamatsu 1/1. Good clean. Much more power than he had last year.

Donnell Whittenburg on FX: Double-double layout as his second pass. It’s too easy to be his first pass. Front layout to front double pike. He uses that layout as a whip. Back 2.5 to front full – a little offline. Stretched Thomas. Arabian double pike 1/2 out – Gosh, don’t you miss Katherine Grable?

Loochtan on VT: Handspring double front – STUCK.

Chris Brooks on FX: Front layout to front double tuck. Big squat. Front full to front double full. Side steps. Thomas. Man wipe. Arabian double tuck to big hop forward. He’s huffing and puffing after that routine.

Paul Ruggeri on FX: Tayamo with a hop back. Arabian double pike. Hop forward. Back 2.5 to front full. Back 1.5 to front 2/1. Full-twisting double with a step back.

Adrian de los Angeles on PH: Lovely flop work. Good Tong Fei. Simple handstand dismount. No traveling or pirouetting.

Sam Mikulak on PH: Will he stay on pommels? Opens with the Mikulak. Decent Tong Fei into some Russians. He whacks his shins on the pommel horse reaching forward. He’s off.

McCallum on FX: HUGE double layout full out. Sorry, Simone Biles, but you just got bested. Honestly, that’s the best I’ve ever seen. Arabian double pike. Back 2.5.  Back 1.5 to front full. Does a forward roll out of his full-twisting double. Super short.

Needs more connection bonus to be a world-class routine, but that opening pass is one of the Wonders of the Gymnastics World.

Josh Dixon on FX: Back 2.5 to Rudi. Whip to Arabian double pike – OOB and on his butt. Double full side pass. Wide-armed press handstand. Thomas down the diagonal. Triple twist to a step back. Steps out of bounds. The line judge doesn’t raise the flag. Does he have a flag?

Marvin Kimble on HB: Wasn’t he supposed to go to Michigan? He’s the last gymnast up in this rotation. Uprise 1/2. He almost catches his Liukin (Stretched Tkatchev 1/1). Stretched Tkatchev to Straddle Tkatchev 1/2. One-armed giant with 1/1. Adler 1/2 – past handstand. Endo 1/1 – bad timing, hands too close on regrasp. Full-twisting double layout to finish.


Rotation 5

Tim Daggett is wearing shorts tonight, and you can see the ginormous scar on his leg from his Cuervo injury in 1987.

Chris Brooks on PH: Was doing so well. And he fell off at the very end. He’s shaking out his arms and wrists. Gets back up and finishes.

Steven Legendre on HB: 

Peter Daggett on FX: Opens with Arabian double pike. Whip 1/2 to rudi. Wide-armed press handstand. Double full side pass. Puts his hands down on his 2.5, which he barely rotates around. He’s huffing and puffing at the end of that routine.

Peter and Tim are having a tiff on the sidelines. Tim just turned his back to his son while Peter was talking to him. Peter walks over to the seating area – appearing to be a little miffed. Tim joins him. Things look calmer.

Hunter Justus on HB: Opens with a very piked Yamawaki. Good Kovacs. Quast – way past handstand. Shoulders too far forward on his Weiler. Sticks his full-twisting double layout.

Glenn on VT: Sits down his Kasamatsu 1.5. (For WAG fans, that’s a Tsuk 2.5 in your book.)

Paul Ruggeri on PH: He stayed on. Just saw the end. Minor leg bend on his triple Russians before his dismount. (No handstand dismount for Paul anymore.)

Fabian de Luna on VT: Kasamatsu 1.5 – with some bent legs.

Eric Klein on FX: I just saw the end, but he ended with a back 2.5 stepout. No joke.

Trevor Howard on VT: Kasamatsu 1.5 – One of the better ones we have seen today.

Donathan Bailey on VT: Kasamatsu 1/1. Good height. Opens early.

Donnell Whittenburg off pommels. Didn’t see on what. Gets up. Really manic, somewhat sloppy Russian traveling. Barely gets his hand on the pommel for his dismount.

Alec Robin on HB: Adler 1/2. Blind change. Endo 1/1 – very slow pirouette. Doesn’t get his healy all the way around, but keeps going. Good hop on his Quast – but past handstand. Double layout- full-out dismount. A little archy wild in teh air.

Marvin Kimble on FX: Front layout to double front pike. Arabian double pike to a seat drop. Double tuck side pass. Russians. Wide-armed press to handstand. Cartwheel into the corner. Front 2/1 to front 1/1. Man wipe. Double layout. Steps back. He had to have been OOB, but the judge didn’t raise the flag.

These floor judges don’t give two darns.

With one event to go…

1. Paul Ruggeri 73.800
2T. Donnell Whittenburg 72.500
2T. Donathan Bailey 72.500
4. Chris Brooks 72.200
5. Steven Legendre 71.950
6. Alec Yoder 71.350
7. Hunter Justus 71.250

Paul Ruggeri needs a 10.450 to tie Akash Modi’s all-around score.


Rotation 6

Paul Ruggeri on SR: Kip to V-cross. Press up to L-sit. A little shaky in his handstand. Jonasson to Yamawaki. To whip it cross. Shoulders a little high into the cross. Double tuck with 1.5 twists – A Mustafina off rings.

Hunter Justus on FX: Just saw the end of his routine. Puts his hands down on his full-twisting double.

Stacey Ervin on VT: Big handspring double front with a big cowboy. Hop on the landing. I’ve seen him do better ones in college meets.

Alec Yoder on HB: Yamawaki. Kolman. A fairly decent one compared to some of the ones we’ve seen today. Jam to handstand. Endo. Sticks his double-twisting double layout. Good routine – Needs  to work on connecting more skills for a bigger start value.

His dad may cheer louder than Yin Alvarez.

The OTC Coaches have one coach on top of a chair, which is on top of a block – with another coach spotting the chair. This is some serious chalking business.

Alec Robin on FX: This should be good. He’s the NCAA champ on this event. Huge stretched Thomas. Back 2.5 to front 1/1. Wide-armed press handstand. Double full side pass. Back 1.5 to Rudi. Triple twist to a big hop back.

Marvin Kimble on PH: Scissors to handstand. Leg cuts. Scissors to Handstand. Flop work. Moves to the other pommel for more Flop work. Magyar on the end. Handstand dismount. Hits his routine. Good for him!

Needs to work on squaring his shoulders on pommels.

Steven Legendre on FX: Front double twist to double front. Sticks it. Lands short on his Tamayo – hops back. Whip to double Arabian as a side pass. Back 2.5 to front 1/1. Wide-arm press handstand. Man wipe. Stretched Thomas. Another man wipe. Arabian double pike to finish. Hop back.

Meanwhile, Sam Mikulak is taking photos with a bunch of little gymnasts. Adorbs.

Chris Brooks on SR: Jumping into the middle of this routine. Legs were a little low on his straddle planche. Arch on his handstand before his Mustafina off rings.

Final scores for session 2:

1. Paul Ruggeri 87.700
2. Steve Legendre 87.600
3. Donathan Bailey 87.500
4. Donnell Whittenburg 87.200
5. Marvin Kimble 86.300
6. Chris Brooks 85.850
7. Alec Yoder 85.700
8. Kevin Wolting 85.550

To Come: Gymnasts who qualified for finals

Quick Hits: The 2015 Winter Cup – Session 1


LAS VEGAS, NV – Welcome to Vegas, Gymternet! The men are currently warming up, so let’s take a moment to cover the basics about this competition.

What’s going on today? The juniors and seniors will be competing in two sessions. Session 1 starts at 1pm PST, and Session 2 starts at 6:30pm PST.

How can you watch? Scott Bregman and his team of gymternet pleasers are providing a live feed. Watch it here.

Who advances to the finals on Saturday, February 21? Short answer: Roughly half the field. The long answer:

  • The top 24 gymnasts from the all-around competition
  • Also: The top 18 individual event point winners (not included among the top 24 all-arounders)
  • Finally, the top 3 athletes on each event.

How does the Winter Cup point system work? The top 20 gymnasts on each event receive points. 1st place receives 20 points, and 20th place receives 1 point. If there’s a tie for, say, 2nd place, both gymnasts will receive 19 points, and the next gymnast in line will receive 17 points.

Note: The point system for the National Team selection is different. You can read about it here.

Notable names in this session:

  • Danell Leyva, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the all-around, 2011 World gold medalist on p-bars, and the 2014 World silver medalist on p-bars. (He has more accomplishments, which I’m sure you can look up on Wikipedia.)
  • Jonathan Horton, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist on high bar, a member of the 2008 Olympic team that won bronze, and the all-around bronze medalist at the 2010 Worlds.
  • Akash Modi, the Stanfordian who currently leads the NCAA in the all-around. Watch for his Kato dismount on parallel bars during the second rotation.
  • Sean Senters, Stanford’s response to Kenzo. Sean can do a triple-twisting Yurchenko, too!
  • Bobby Baker, the Illini who is currently ranked second in the NCAA all-around standings. He does a ridiculous number of triple backs.
  • CJ Maestas, the Illini who finished 7th in the all-around at the 2012 Olympic Trials. (If I’m not mistaken he warmed up a bail to full-twisting double flyaway off the end of p-bars – just like Jossimar Calvo Moreno.)
  • Ellis Mannon, the Minnesotan who won the 2014 NCAA pommel horse title.
  • Jordan Valdez, the 2014 NCAA champion on high bar.

Rotation 1

Akash Modi on VT: Kasamatsu 1.5 – Almost sticks it. Hop back on the landing.

Ryan Sheppard on VT: Kasamatsu 1/1. Really short on the landing, step forward.

Drew Burton on VT: Kasamatsu 1/1.  Puts it to his feet after a really rough warm-up of face plants.

CJ Maestas on PH: Russian travel. Has to press his first scissors to handstand up. Stays on.

Fashion alert: The Illini men are wearing orange socks with their gray pants. You have to be confident in your toe point if you’re going to rock the orange socks.

Bobby Baker on PH: Only seeing pieces. Tong Fei travel looked good. Flew up to the handstand dismount. His swing looks vastly improved since he moved to the U of Illinois. Ribeiro must be working with him.

Sean Senters on VT: Maroney would be jealous of Seanters’ Yurchenko 2.5. So high. Off to the side, though, and will incur a deduction.

Danell Leyva on PB: His peach pirouettes are more scissory this year. Lots of little leg separations and little hand walks. Has to press up on his uprise after his back 1/2 from upper arms to upper arms. Sticks his double front. Didn’t do his Belle that he has been training on Instagram. Yin Alvarez gives out a HUUUUGE cheer. Not sure if that was merited.

Drew Moling on HB: Has to muscle a front giant at the beginning of his routine and his Adler 1/1 is equally muscled. Belly flops his stretched Tkatchev. (Missed the rest of the routine due to Danell being on p-bars.)

Kiwan Watts on FX: Opens with huge double double. Out of bounds on his handstand flair work, but the judge doesn’t raise the flag. (Missed the rest of the routine because of Danell.)

Jonathan Horton on SR: Went at the same time as Danell. Will have to watch the USAGym YouTube replays to see why he got a 7.900 in execution.


Rotation 2

CJ Maestas on SR: Roll to Maltese. Cross. Inlocate to Jonasson to Yamawaki (tucked double front). Good level on planche. Archy on this handstand. Short on his uprise to handstand. Short on double double.

Akash Modi on PB: Peach to handstand. Huge leg separation on giant 1/1. Lacking height on Bhavsar and Tippelt. Rushes 1/2 pirouette. Has to walk after his Stutz. Super short on his Kato. Doesn’t put hands down but duck walks all the way across the mat.

Josh Zeal on HB: Nice Tkatchev to Gienger combo. Stretched 1/1 double – A little piked.

Ellis Mannon on PH: Lovely flair work and spindle work. Could have more extension in his normal circles, but has a very patient swing compared to most guys in this meet.

Jonathan Horton on VT: Cowboyed handspring double. Big step forward.

Levi Anderson on VT: Good Kasamatsu 1/1. Step back – More power than the Stanford guys before him.

Yul Moldauer on HB: Has to tuck his Adler through to Yamawaki. Misses his Kovacs, which have lovely form. Falls on his back and takes one to the head. Flairs out his 1/1 double layout – as if he were Kim Zmeskal.

Bobby Baker on SR: Only saw the end of the routine. Good Jonasson and Yamawaki. A little shaky in his handstand. Step back on his TRIPLE back, which is an F. That’s an F for flipping awesome, folks!

Danell Leyva on HB: The Yin clap opens the routine, and the fans respond. Way over on his Adler 1/1 to Yamawaki. Falls on his stretched Kovacs, and he goes down to his knees. No problems on his tucked Tkatchev. His Stalder 1.5 is super sloppy (per usual). And he’s off again on his stretched Tkatchev. Yin Alvarez just saluted on Danell’s half before Danell got back on the bar. Form issues on the Rybalko. Small step back on the double-twisting double lay.

Danell’s having another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Winter Cup.

Yin Alvarez has competition. These OSU boys know how to cheer.

Cutter Fugett on HB: He’s the only gymnast left to competeA little close on his Tkatchev. Over-rotates his full-twisting double, and he limps off the mat.


Rotation 3

Bobby Baker on VT: Opens up and almost sticks his Kasamatsu 1.5. Just a small hop. Form needs to be cleaned up.

Ryan Sheppard on HB: Grip gets stuck on a front giant, and he comes off.

CJ Maestas on VT: Does a piked-open double-twisting Yurchenko.

Yul Moldauer on FX: Gorgeous flair work to handstand. I see an air flair in his future. Falls on his punch randi. Small hop on his back 2.5 dismount.

Drew Burton on HB: Gets stuck doing an Adler? A German giant? Not sure what was up with that high bar routine. Does a full-twisting double tuck dismount. Walks away circling his right shoulder.

Danell Leyva on FX: Opens with a tucked double double. Skids sideways on his front double twist. Sits down his Arabian double pike. Decent Manna – could be inverted more. Whip to back 2.5 to barani that landed sideways. Yin clap before the double layout. Pikes it down and steps forward. No Yin-ruption at the end.

Josh Zeal on SR: Upraise to straddle planche. Inlocate to Yamawaki to a muscled Jonasson. Shaky on his handstands. Tucked full-twisting double.

I hear that Josh’s neon green is becoming a gymternet sensation.

Stewart MacDonald sends a heart attack through the audience on his full-twisting Jaeger. Everyone lets out a collective sigh of relief that he didn’t eat bar. Then, a little kid shrieked, “Oh my god! What is that?” on his full-twisting double noodle dismount.

Jonathan Horton on PB: Muscles up his first handstand. Good on his peach 1.5 Beautiful Belle. Does the world’s longest handstand pirouette and then sits down his Tippelt. Yin Alvarez lets out a big sigh for John. Finishes strong with a double tuck.

Sean Senters on HB: Sean would excel under the old code. He can be the definition of virtuosity. His stretched Tkatchev 1/2 is so high. A little wonky on his Quast (hop full). Clean on his full-twisting double layout dismount.

Emyre Cole on FX: Opens with a HUUUUGE whip to double Arabian. Whip 1/2 to front full – OOB. Back 2.5 to barani. Huge set on his full-twisting double dismount.

Brian Knott on HB: Comes off – not even close on his Kolman. Clean Kovacs. Manages to catch a Kolman. Muscles up his Endo. Can’t manage to muscle up his second Endo. He’s off again. Flairs out his full-twisting double layout – as if he were Kim Zmeskal. The flair isn’t quite as good as Yul Moldauer’s, but it’s still pretty to look at.

Akash Modi on PB: Adler 1/2 not connected to Stretched Tkatchev. Tkatchev 1/2. Doesn’t connect his Adler 1/1 to his Yamawaki. Single Stalder. Full-twisting double layout. Tries to use his scrunchy toes to hang onto the landing. Not his strongest event.

At the halfway point, Akash Modi leads with a 43.650. Bobby Baker is in second with a 43.450. Old man Horton is in third with a 43.100.

Rotation 4

Yul Moldauer on PH: He’s off. Didn’t see on what. Muscles up his dismount.

Danell Leyva on PH: Stays on. He needs to work on squaring his shoulders. All of his circles have a weird turn to them. Yin Alvarez lets out a HUGE scream. That

Bobby Baker on PB: Has fallen twice. Once on a 1/1 pirouette. And then he did a giant and jumped off. Not sure what was up with him.

Drew Moling on SR: Could only see him in the background of Danell’s pommel routine. It’s a great routine to watch. Opens with a great L-cross to a Maltese. He is OSU’s new Brandon Wynn.

Kiwan Watts on VT: Big block on his Kasamatsu 1/1. He probably could do more twists if his twisting technique were more efficient. Looks like he gets lost during the second twist.

Jonathan Horton on HB: Endo 1/1 that was a little crooked. Opens with a Cassina to a one-handed catch. He goes around the bar curled up in a ball with one arm on the bar – like a monkey. A little close on his stretched Kovacs and his Kolman. His Rybalko was much better than it was in warmups. Misses his kip cast handstand after his Yamawaki. Was supposed to pirouette afterwards. Double-twisting double layout to finish.

CJ Maestas on PB: (Jumping in mid-routine) Misses his Tippelt, which he tried to launch from one end of the bar all the way to the other. Sits down on the bars. Does only a double tuck flyaway off the end. He might want to replace the Tippelt with a Bhavsar. It might be easier to get the stretch he needs.

Mike Levy on FX: (Jumping in mid-routine) Front double full to a barani that was so low he had to turn it into a side somi. Full-twisting double to finish with a big step back.

Akash Modi on FX: Opens with Arabian double pike. Front double twist to barani. V-sit press through to handstand. Back 2.5 punch front full. Low chest on his randi. Double full side pass. Wu Guonian (stretched Arabian 1 3/4). Big hop back on triple full.

Ryan Shepard on FX: Front double full to front full – lands out of bounds. Lovely Russians. Wide-arm press handstand – with super hyper-extended elbows. Double full side pass. Wu Guonian. Stands up. Then does the knee drop. Man wipe before an Arabian double tuck, which he sits down.

After 4 rotations, Akash Modi still leads with a 58.750, and Danell Leyva, after staying on pommels, moves up into second with a 57.100. In other words, Akash Modi is leading by 1.650. Holy Mother of Nadia.


Rotation 5

Danell Leyva on SR: L-cross. Kip to a Maltese that’s not really a Maltese — He’s almost upright. Whip-it-L-cross. Butt super high on straddle planche. Straddle L to press handstand. Giant with a little swing. Back giant to a little swinging handstand. Over-rotates double-double.

Jonathan Horton FX: Opens with a double-double. Head low on landing. Back 1.5 to a punch double front that lands in a squat that would make Lisa Mason proud. Front double twist to tuck 1/2. Back 2.5 to front full that zig-zagged across the floor. Thomas (back 1 3/4 with 1.5 twists). Sticks his full-twisting double even though he looks tired. You can hear his wife yell, “Go, John!” Her voice doesn’t quite have the heft that Yin has.

CJ Maestas on HB: Scissory Cassina. Sloppiest Kolman ever. Adler 1/1 to Yamawaki. Adler 1/2. Double-twisting double lay-uck.

Alexander Wilson on VT: Sits down his Yurchenko 2.5.

Mario Lubian on SR: Had a nasty fall on rings. Medical staff has been called over.

Jordan Valdez on HB: Lovely stretched Tkatchev. Nice toe point. Stretched Tkatchev 1/2. Adler 1/1. No connection. Endo to Endo 1/1. Does two one-armed giants. (That’s the maximum that a gymnast can do – Not common to see those.) Small step on his double-twisting double.

Akash Modi on PH: Messes up on his dismount once. Confers with coach to see if he will get credit for a dismount. Goes back up to do it, and then he misses his hand on his handstand and comes off. He calls it a day on pommels. Shades of Kohei in 2012.

Mario Lubian is still down. Kevin Mazeika is inspecting the scene. He can wiggle his toes.

We are paused for now. There are 5 more ring routines to go.

Mario Lubian is carried out of the gym on a stretcher.

Marcos Gatinho on SR: Straddle-L to press handstand. Front giant to shaky handstand. Jonasson to Yamawaki. Uprise to L-sit. Press handstand. Giant. Sticks his full-twisting double.

Good routine for someone who had to go right after an accident.

Cutter Fugett on SR: Yamawaki. Legs a little low on his straddle planches. Presses up to handstand. Full-twisting double dismount. Hop on the landing.

Yul Moldauer on SR: Great cross – very level. Muscles through his Jonasson. Handstand. Way high on his whip it cross. Yamawaki to straddle planche – feet a little low. Hop on his double-double.

Going into the last rotation, here are the standings:

1. Jonathan Horton 71.150
2. Robert Neff 70.650
3. Akash Modi 70.300
4. Bobby Baker 70.250
5. CJ Maestas 69.650
6. Grant Breckenridge 69.300
7. Danell Leyva 69.200

Will Horton be the Jordan Jovtchev of the USA?


Rotation 6

Wilner on FX: Opens with a Wu Guonian. Front full to a front tuck. Off balance on the front full. Low landing on rudi. (Over ot Horton on pommels)

Jonathan Horton on PH: He’s off on some loops on the end. And he’s off again. Botches his dismount. May have come off on the wrong side.

Marcos Gatinho on VT: Yurchneko full to Yin Alvarez’s cheer and a Yin hug.

Bobby Baker on FX: Opens with front double full to barani. Double front – lacking Ivana Hong form there. Back 2/1 which he flairs out. Arabian double. Back 2.5 to barani. Technique on the twisting skills is a little sloppy–slows the twist by straddling. Goes for a triple twist on the straight-away, puts his hands down.

Emyre Cole on VT: Lovely, lovely Shewfelt.

Akash Modi on SR: (Jumping in at the end.) Holding a handstand for daaayz. Double-double short on the landing.

Ellis Mannon on HB: He’s off. Feet got stuck between his hands. (Don’t you hate when that happens?) Salutes the judge. And doesn’t get back up.

Danell Leyva on VT: He warmed up a Kasamatsu 1.5, but he goes for the Kaz 1/1. Really close to the vault. Stuck.

CJ Maestas on FX: Tucked double-double. Front 2/1 to barani. Russians. Wide-armed press handstand. He’s got his heels taped like the Japanese gymnasts. Planche press to handstand. Gets a huge cheer from the Illini cheering section. Thomas. Full-twisting double.

Grant Breckenridge on HB: Yamawaki. Endo 1/1. Adler 1/2. No connection. Stretched Tkatchev. Straddled Tkatchev (not connected). Stalder. Blind change. Healy. Jam through to giants. Double-double tucked. Really clean, but a simple routine. We will see if he can stay in sixth.

Drew Moling on PB: Just saw his dismount, but he pikes too hard and over-rotates his dismount to his butt.

Kiwan Watts on HB: Opens with a Yamawaki. Kovacs to a big arch. Endo 1/1. Jam to giants. Endo. Stalder. Full-twisting double. Good to see a big release (i.e. Kovacs), but needs a bit more in his routine.

Rotation 7

There isn’t a seventh rotation, but wouldn’t it be awesome to see the coaches compete? Justin Spring, Rustam Sharipov, and Kip Simons, yes?

Final All-Around Scores

1. Akash Modi 84.250
2. CJ Maestas 84.050
3. Danell Leyva 84.000
4T. Robert Neff 83.750
4T. Grant Breckenridge 83.750
6. Bobby Baker 83.000
7. Kiwan Watts 82.750
8. Jonathan Horton 82.300

137: Lady Lisa Mason

Lisa Mason, gymnast, model, olympian, British stunt woman

Olympian, Khorkina beater, adult elite, mother and jet pack booty owner, Lisa Mason.


This Week's Interview

Lady Lisa Mason, as she will be known on this show because she is the owner of the sexiest gymnastics property in the land (AKA, her Instagram), is an Olympian; a World Cup champion; won the British Championships three time in a row; was the youngest British Champion ever and even beat Produnova and Khorkina on Floor at a World Cup on her way to a historic all-around appearance final in Sydney–the first ever for a Brit. She’s back, competing again at age 32. Oh, and she has a daughter, goes to night school, works for a living and trains for elite competition yet still finds time to make us laugh with her uncensored tweets. We discuss:

  • Missing out on the balance beam final at the Sydney Olympics, the vault height debacle, its effect on her to this day, and her opinion of Raducan’s ban for taking cold medicine.
  • How her training has changed over the years, the dance secret that allows her to keep going, adjusting to the new vault table, handling nerves and muscle memory versus strength.
  • Teen Shenanigans: Sneaking into the Lilleshall gym at night, busking at meets abroad and putting naked teammates into suitcases.
  • Motherhood: The decision to become a mother (was labor easier because of her 12-pac abs?), post-natal pelvic floor strengthening, why she banned her own mother from meets, and her advice for parents on health and fitness.
  • Does she ever regret wearing her heart on her sleeve and being so outspoken?
  • Working at International Gymnastics Camp, which she calls a “Gymnastics Utopia” with waffles for breakfast and the competing in Pro Gymnastics Challenge.
  • Managing uneven bars despite her jetpack booty acting as a counter weight.
  • Beating Khorkina and Produnova at the old school World Cup battles where the only a back-to-back routines won gold, and got lifted up on a fork lift.
  • Training at the Romanian national training center, Deva as a kid, smuggling cheeseburgers to Lavinia Milosovici and that one time Octavian Belu apologized for his gymnast winning the silver medal instead of Lisa.
  • Loving the American way of life and how it connected her to Australian, Oregon State alum, Olivia Vivian.
  • Finding the financial resources to pursue her career as an adult.
  • What to do when the bars come unhinged but you still have to compete.
  • The beauty and elaborate modesty preservation efforts it took to photograph her naked for Sports Uncovered.
  • Then, in a GymCastic first she translates her tweets for us, so that we don’t have to look everything up on Urban Dictionary.

Guest Links

Follow Lisa on Instagram, Twitter or book her for for stunts or modeling in your next commercial here. Download the Sport magazine app to see the Sports Uncovered raw photo shoots with Lisa, Dan Keatings and Hannah Whelan (no dates have been revealed as of this episode posting).

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136: Full Out Syndrome

Alexandra Tsikhanovich of Bridgeport University  purple leotard double stag

Alexandra “Sasha” Tsikhanovich of Bridgeport University


In the News

In the news, Uncle Tim, Evan, and Jessica chat about:

  • Brazil’s Amanar vaulting superstar,  Rebeca Andrade.
  • The best gymnastics job posting we’ve ever seen ever – help make grand exit with flips as I quit my job.
  • Cintia Rodrigues (ESP) and Niamh Rippin (GB) instagram-nastics, a hecht full and Yurchenko double tuck respectively.
  • Play Nerd-Jack : by relating any topic to gymnastics in as few words as possible. (16:50)
  • The results, skills and return of Victoria Moors to competition at Elite Canada. (24:00)
  • Debate who has the better pike front on beam: Ellie Black or Alicia Sacramone.
  • Evan yearns for more substantive and instructional commentary from the newest college television hosts in his own version of the rage-o-meter. (29:00)
  • NCAA rankings, which 10 was really worthy (can it be a 10 if the gymnast has full out syndrome, AKA “I have to pee” legs on her landing?), and gush about Kennedy Baker and Division II powerhouse, Bridgeport star, Sasha Tsikhanovich. (34:00)
  • Highlight the best of the NCAA meets including Gnat’s double twisting Yurchenko, UW’s Allie Northey who can do a Jaeger with pointed toes, Peng Peng Lee smoking bars and beam like a G for UCLA, Cal’s Dana Ho who has Gienger that puts Nastia’s to shame, plus what to do when a judge forgets about the meet.
  • Our fabvorite unique skills of the season so far: backspin, Comaneci salto, aerial to land in Y scale, and a one armed front handspring to knee sit on beam.
  • Debut the new feature, an under appreciated gymnasts of the week in Lexi Cappalli of University of North Carolina who does a Depeche Mode floor routine with a supine worm.
  • Three ways to watch the AT&T American Cup in person even if you are on a budget.

Related Links

Install the Greenhouse plugin to find out which industry contributes the most to your representatives.

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Related Videos

Lexi Cappalli FX (UNC) Depeche Mode routine.  Best view of the supine worm here at 1:05.

Kennedy Baker’s MONSTER Arabian double pike here.

Ellie Black’s winning beam routine at Elite Canada here.

Video story  on Rebeca Andrade.

Cintia Rodriguez (ESP) Stadler hecht full to high bar transition here.

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135: The Duchess of Stalderland

Tabitha Yim floor pose in white leotard


In the News

In the news,  Jessica and Spencer from The Balance Beam Situation chat about:

  • Auburn could be the bar dismount champions, especially Caitlin Atkinson half-in half-out (look out Katie Bailey)
  • Ranch News: Gabrielle Douglas, Aly Raisman, Simone Biles vs. Bailie Key, plus Laurie Hernandez is back on the team!
  • The latest NCAA rankings and why they don’t really mean anything right now.
  • Our thoughts on the latest 10’s from Brenna Dowell, Haley Scaman and Ashley Lambert.
  • Did we think Florida was underscored on beam at Alabama? Did Alabama recover from last week’s beamsaster?
  • Thank goodness the SEC Network is obviously listening to the show because they’ve fixed Courtney’s Keys.
  • The good, the gorgeous (Kari Lee’s beam! Peng’s bars! DABRITZ) and the beam start-value apocalypse from Utah vs. UCLA.
  • Kentucky at Georgia: Brittany Rogers saves the team with all of her patented Mapleleaf stadler action bar genius.
  • Comeback-MANIA in Romania! Marian Drăgulescu joining Ponor to save Romanian gymnastics!
  • Tabitha Yim gave one of the most important interviews of all time. Print it on your soul now.
  • Shannon Miller’s ex-husband is in trouble again.
  • The period, good ol’ menstruation – is it still taboo in sports? We give our expert opinions.
  • Your feedback about the Penn State gymnastics team’s 409 controversy.


Tabitha Yim says, “not everyone achieves their dreams and when I talk to my athletes now, I tell them I didn’t, but I’m okay. Just because you don’t, doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. You can always build new dreams and pursue them just as passionately.” Read the rest of her interview here.

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134: 409 Wins Restored, Lives Still Ruined

The PSU gymnastics team wrote 409 on their hands. Jessica is furious, find out why.

The PSU gymnastics team wrote 409 on their hands. Jessica is furious, find out why.



In the News

In the news, Uncle Tim, Spanny Tampson, and Jessica chat about (time stamps in parenthesis):

  • Catalina Ponor is training again. Will she make the Romanian team? (3:30)
  • Texas Dreams is raising an army of artistic gymnasts.
  • Our listeners really liked this girl Colbi FloryTexas Prime Meet:
  • Lilia Podkopayeva  resorted to thievery and dancing as a form of protest in order to defend the efforts of her team at the Legendz Classic. (11:00)
  • Katelyn Ohashi returns to competition! (14:35)
  • Spanny declares Oklahoma the new queens of choreography and has an out-of-body gym-gasm experience watching Chayse Capps in person.(40:15)
  • Kyla Ross working new skills and applying to Stanford next year. (23:30)
  • NCAA rankings and a review of the 10’s on vault. (33: 28)
  • Kennedy Baker (Gators) does the sassiest arabian double pike in all the land. (48:45)
  • Our picks for NCAA floor champ if as of right now, including Denver’s Nina McGee. (51:45)
  • Alabama vs. Arkansas – Katie Bailey (Bama) might have done the highest full-out in the history of gymnastics; Courtney Kupets makes her debut as a television commentator. (1:01:50)
  • UCLA vs. Arizona – Sam Peszek invents a new skill to cover a wobble, and Arizona continues their Halloween themed dramatic floor choreography. (1:15:25)
  • PSU vs. Nebraska – where Nebraska continues to push the difficulty level with E’s on floor and variety on beam; while PSU star Robles steals the show. (1:21:16)
  • Rage-o-Meter: Jessica is furious that the Penn State gymnastics team wrote the number 409 on their hands, according to a television broadcast, to honor football coach Joe Paterno. Paterno who was fired for failing to report child molestation to police even though it happened in the Penn State locker room and was reported to him by an eyewitness. (1:24:35)

Related Links

Jerry Sandusky grand jury report.

Joe Paterno grand jury  testimony.

The Freeh Report.

Article: What Paterno Admitted he knew: Sandusky couldn’t have done it without him

Article Penn State Hockey : Decision to put 409 stickers on helmets overshadowing program

Article Penn State Hockey: Athletic Director Sandy Barbour apologizes for 409 sticker tweet.

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