The No. 1 Gymnastics Podcast in the Galaxy

206: The Russian Situation

Russia's top gymnast, Angelina Melnikova.
Russia’s top gymnast, Angelina Melnikova.




This week, Uncle Tim, Spencer,  and Jessica chat about:

  • Gabby’s secret knee injury (3:30):
    • “Broken knee” and absentee father storylines continue to muddle Gabby Inc. waters  – NY Times and Mercury News
  • McKayla Maroney wasn’t randomly Periscoping, she was on her way to surprise some little gym nerds at a Trials watch party! 
  • Skinner Gate 2.0 (17:47): Miss Skinner (and now her coach) continue to get in trouble on Twitter. 
  • British Olympic teams strategy (28:00)
  • The decades of black gymnasts who paved the way for Simone Biles
    • Could we have had an African-American Olympic champion in 1984?
  • Tutya Yilmaz (TUR) and Jossimar Calvo were the highlights of the ill attended/post-terrorist attack World Cup in Turkey.
  • Russian Cup: the provisional Olympic team and the potential impact of the McLaren report (48:00)
    • Mustafina had a weird thing on bars, here’s the video
  • Romanian Nationals: was it smart to choose Catalina Ponor as the sole Olympic competitor over Larisa Ilordache? 
  • Chusovitina won a vault World Cup with her Produnova
  • Emma Larrsson from Sweden had  big band version of Sex & the City floor music
  • Why were so many people confused and outraged after the US Team was announced? NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Trials is at least partially to blame. (1:29:00)
    • Read Cordelia’s full analysis and math proof about the US Olympic team decision.  Here is a little piece of her work: “To take the top 3 on every apparatus, a 7 person team would be needed. The selection committee has to optimize the team score within a 5 person team, while ensuring there are at least 4 solid or better scores on each apparatus. The only combination of these top 7 gymnasts plus Ashton Locklear that meets the criteria is the team the selection committee chose. 1. Biles 248.25  2. Hernandez 241.65 3. Raisman 240.85 4. Douglas 235.25 5. Kocain 233.5 6. Smith 232.55 7. Skinner 232.1. As it turns out, the Olympic team that was chosen is composed of the top 5 AAers over the two competitions with the next two AAers as alternates (which includes #2 on VT) and the #2 on UB as an alternate. They could stop there, but they need to ensure that the team of 5 gymnasts has the highest scoring potential.”


Win:  The End of the Perfect 10: The Making and Breaking of Gymnastics’ Top Score – from Nadia to Now by Dvora Meyers

What: Write a new rule for the next quad

How: #Endofthe10Book @GymCastic on Instagram or Twitter 

Deadline: Sunday, July 31st at midnight.




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  1. The racial undertones of Skinner\’s tweets fly in the face of the Olympic Spirit.

    If she has these views perhaps she needs to have 2 twitter accounts – 1 private and 1 public to hopefully avoid this in the future

  2. Quick lawyer note (and personal pet peeve, because people get this wrong ALL THE TIME): the First Amendment is not implicated here. USAG can make rules regarding what their representatives can say, and punish them for stepping outside those boundaries. The First Amendment prohibits THE GOVERNMENT from making any law abridging freedom of speech. USAG and the USOC are not governmental organizations.

  3. I don’t watch any other sports besides gymnastics, so I have a question. Are the considerations & preferences of the athletes taken more seriously? Would a broadcaster get corrected or reprimanded when they “mess up”? Like calling Gabrielle Douglas “Gabby” when she prefers to go by her proper name or calling Simone’s parents her “grandfather and his wife.” You can even say “this is Simone’s mother & father who are technically her grandfather and her step grandmother, but raised Simone as their own.” It was my assumption that they’re more respectful in other sports, but I’m not sure.

    • I don’t think they get any formal repremand for making mistakes like that. In the case of Gabby vs Gabrielle, all her teammates referred to her as Gabby and so did Chow, so I don’t think its really an issue with NBC doing it. As far as the comments about Simone’s parents, I would hope they were somehow corrected. During classics or nationals (I don’t remember which) Al made a remark about Simone being from a “broken home” and they quickly dropped that narritive, I assume because someone made them.. you know how NBC loves the drama!

  4. I’m rather surprised they allowed Skinner to remain an alternate after that. You bring up a good point that her coach’s tweets suggest there might have been some disconnect with the reality of the process there. I can completely understand why they (and a lot of other viewers, particularly those who don’t follow gymnastics closely) would be frustrated with the Trials though – it gave the impression that performance there didn’t matter because the team was predetermined, which it was, and viewers don’t like that. I actually thought NBC made things way worse not because they were looking for a villain, but because they were clearly trying to do a Gabby comeback narrative from Night 1. Except she fell off beam again, and then the narrative very very abruptly shifted to her mistakes not mattering because of bars. It was very awkwardly done though and I think a lot of people noticed that and it led them to think “the fix was in”.

  5. The issue with saying, \”well, the gymnast didn\’t know or have agency to not take the performance enhancing substance, so she should keep her medal\” is that punishes the gymnast that didn\’t take anything, and competed on the level playing field. Its a matter of rewarding a unenhanced performance, no matter who is at fault.

  6. RE: why China and North Korea got disciplined for age falsification and Romania (and the Soviets) got away with it.

    A. There is a statute of limitations on age falsification and it\’s 10 years, so Romania can no longer be sanctioned for their age falsifications in the 80s and 90s (and it seems like Marinescu was the last known underaged Romanian).

    B. It\’s really hard to officially prove age falsification. One of the only ways is if an athlete shows up at FIG sanctioned events with different birth dates. Case in point, Yang Yun and Dong Fangxiao. Yang Yun admitted to being 14 while competing in Sydney on Chinese national television. The FIG investigated, but ultimately couldn\’t prove it even though Yang had admitted it on television. However, Yang\’s teammate, Dong Fangxiao showed up to work at the 2008 Olympics as a technical official with a different birthdate on her paperwork than what she had shown up with in Sydney 8 years earlier. It was Dong\’s case that led to China having medals stripped.

    The same thing happened in the North Korean cases with Kim Gwank-suk and Hong Su-jong – different birthdates were given on official government documents in FIG events. The North Koreans are particularly bad at this because both Kim and Hong had multiple birthdates given for various international competitions. It\’s just plain incompetence. You can understand China dropping the ball with Dong – at least they kept her birthdate consistent during her competitive career.

    We might know that Romania used underaged athletes – some may have even admitted it. But, like with Yang Yun, even an athlete admitting it isn\’t enough to prove that it happened.

  7. I\’m surprised none of you acknowledged the likelihood that Camp Gabby made up this knee injury? it\’s fairly obvious to me. The timing does not make sense at all. She wouldn\’t have been able to perform and take the landings she did at Worlds if her kneecap was fractured. It feels like Gabby\’s mom said this just to get sympathy and excuse Gabby\’s performance at Trials.

    • Well apparently USA Gymnastics confirmed the injury. For me, it only explained why she still isn’t competing the Amanar. I realize it must be hard to compete a skill again if it caused a fairly serious injury. The injury does NOT explain her (relatively) poor performance all summer long.

  8. Honestly, I feel like one of the biggest problems with the Gabby situation is that Marta basically announced the team way too early. Usually we, the viewers, have had this \”anything can happen\” mentality watching trials, and this year she listed the team in interviews really early. I think people felt that was unfair to begin with because we wanted favorites to have a shot, and her listing the team felt like some of them had no chance no matter how they did. Instead of thinking about how the pieces fit together, everyone was thinking of how the puzzle should change if anyone showed weakness. Gabby earned her spot on the team by everything she\’s done the last few years–not really by 2012, but by Worlds, the American Cup, and Nationals in the last year. Unfortunately at trials it felt like she had to defend that team spot instead of earn it, and since she wasn\’t in the top five in the all-around, she didn\’t really defend it at that one competition. She did earn it, though, by hitting bars (which the team needed) and, again, by everything she\’s done and whatever she\’s shown at camp. I just feel like it would have been a lot less controversial if that team hadn\’t been unofficially announced ahead of time. Maybe I\’m wrong.

  9. I don\’t think Mykayla\’s retweet was racist at all. According to the website \”Most people think this monkey\’s hands over its eyes suggest a cutesy \”oops\” expression. It\’s not uncommon to find people using this emoji as a way to express embarrassment in an amusing way or to emphasize that they made a funny mistake.\”

    The lady who left you a voicemail stating that this had a racist undertone believed that since Skinner used a blong girl emoji next to the monkey one, she was actually trying to depict herself next to Gabby. But the same site describes this one as follows: \”Most people call it the \”hair flip\” emoji because of the position of the girl\’s hand. It\’s become trendy to use this one in a message when trying to be sassy or cheeky.

    I\’m not saying this is the absolute truth just because some random site defines emojis in such a way, but since this is actually the way I use these two emojis, and the way most of my friends use them too, I really see nothing racist in her retweet. And although I do believe it was extremely inapropriate and shows poor taste; I also think that implying Mykayla is racist is rather exaggerated.

    • Does anyone know what happened to Gold Medal Families? I watched the first 2 episodes on the Lifetime app, the rest of the episodes were not yet available, and now there is no record of the show at all on the website or app. Like it never even existed! I want to watch the rest of the series, mostly because of Aly but all of the contenders on the show were pretty likable and it is interesting to see their training.

  10. I wonder if Gabby hurt her knee while filming that sequence of US Women doing Amanars that was released during the practices in the days just before 2015 Worlds? Her vault cuts out before the landing but it looks like she is about to fall to her knees. I also wonder if it was Martha\’s idea to make that video. Just a thought. I think that is the last time we saw her attempt an Amanar and it was just a day or two before Worlds.

  11. About team GB, I was hoping you would mention Sam Oldham, he did well at Trials, I think 3rd AA and FX gold but didn’t get selected and then he sued British Gymnastics or something … How did that work out?

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