The No. 1 Gymnastics Podcast in the Galaxy

255: 1996 Olympic Team Final (Commissioned)


This week, we have another very special commissioned episode for you to sink your ears into. Loyal Club Gym Nerd member Robin helped support the show by asking us to talk about everyone’s favorite competition, the meet that launched a million gym nerds, and probably the most important moment in the entire history of sports, the 1996 OLYMPIC WOMEN’S TEAM FINAL! Thank you so much, Robin!

Jessica and Spencer discuss:

  • Olympic Trials Drama! (6:24)
    • Compulsive gym hopping
    • Miller and Moceanu injury petitions
    • All those heartbreaks (Kulikowski! Jennie Thompson! Kristy Powell!)
  • JUICY, JUICY 1996 FLUFF (15:59)
    • “Little girls dancing for gold” (Jessica has some feelings)
    • Romania apparently training inside Dracula’s castle
    • Just Shannon” and Shannon’s epic snapback
    • Racist propaganda fluff about Mo Huilan
    • Putting Dominique Moceanu on a seesaw for some reason
  • The competition (35:40)
    • The important debate: who’s better, John Tesh or Al Trautwig?
    • How unbelievably super awesome the US team was on bars
    • Romania’s endless injury drama
    • Karolyi legs and form nostalgia
    • What we think every time we see the Moceanu parents
    • Deep thoughts about Geza Pozar floor routines
    • Why Svetlana Khorkina is better than all of us in every way
    • A second-by-second breakdown of the Kerri Strug vaults
    • The Strug parents (clap clap clap, chop chop chop)
    • What Bela said to Kerri after her vault
    • Did she actually do it on one leg?
    • Should Kerri have been allowed to vault again when the US would have won anyway? (1:40:49)
    • Was Russia not able to hear the floor music? Did it matter?
    • The worst, most unprofessional, unsafe scene you’ve ever seen
  • The GALA (1:47:54)
    • The US group dance to the YMCA and the Macarena. It happened.
    • The biggest cheer than anyone has ever received
    • Sexy Alexei‘s pommel horse
    • Khorkina‘s epic bars dismount
  • Fairytale endings! (1:52:33)
    • Where are they now?



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7 years ago



Yael Rujder-Levi
Yael Rujder-Levi
7 years ago

love you gymcastic.your episodes have awesome. First Vanessa now 1996 team final and then next week AA final all of my.favorite things.I have to say i so agree with all the cringe worthy moments and fluffs. bela is just too much, that Gala made me blush with shame for weeks, and those fluff pieces made violently nauseaus.

7 years ago

I love you Gymcastic.
your last episodes have been amazing and now another episode on the 1996 olympics this is so awesome all of my favorite things!!!
I have to say I also absolutely agree with all the cringeworthy moments. bela is just too much, always has been. I don`t know how people did not slap him all the time, probably because he was too tall and they couldn`t reach his cheeks,.
that gala made me blush with shame for weeks it was so bad and those fluff pieces were fascinating and revolting at the same time.
Oh and Geza`s choreo, I can`t even begin to unterstand…
Love you
Keep it up, please.!!!!

7 years ago

Ahhh, this was so awesome. I had every screen open to watch videos and routines on youtube while listening to the episode. Also, how is it that I had never seen that gala before? How horriific/amazing. Thanks so much!

Corey Uber
Corey Uber
7 years ago

Okay. This was fantastic. And Spencer saying \”smooooooth\” like Bella basically made my life. Also, I so appreciated Dominique Moceanu getting props. Because of everything that happened after \’96 I think people forget how good she really was. Love you guys!

7 years ago

Omg yall made me go back to the 1996 games. OMG I remembered Lilias compulsory floor routine. But I never remember seeing Mo Huilans… IM SORRY…. But Mo’s floor compulsory was amazing! Light as a feather, power, grace, those leaps flew in the air…. WOW I was stunned everyone talks about Lilias… But Mo’s was the business!!

7 years ago

Shannon Miller placed 7th in 1995 world bars finals. Khorkina was bars champ in 1995 worlds and 1996 worlds. Shannon had no impact on bars since 1994.

Flip Cub
Flip Cub
7 years ago

Loved this Podcast! I still remember 1996 like it was yesterday. I watched that NBC broadcast over and over again ON MY VHS PLAYER for the rest of that year, so it\’s, like, seared in my memory now. Everything you said in the Podcast was spot on. A few minor things I want to add:

– Thanks to USA Gymnastics putting all it\’s broadcasts on YouTube, I recently came upon the 1994 Budget Rent-A-Car Invitational featuring the US vs. Romania, and it had basically the same Romanian fluff piece from the Olympics. Apparently NBC had been mining that angle of the story for a full 2 years before Atlanta. Incredible! You need to watch it just to see Andreea Cacovean reclining in her dorm room chair wearing what can only be described as a costume from the Working Girl movie set.

– And speaking of the fluff pieces, NBC was really fond of soft lighting. It was out of control. Beth Ruyak imploring you to look in Gina Gogean\’s eyes was made all the more funnier from the soft lighting being so extreme that you could barely make out her face.

– You guys were talking at the end about whether the Russians had to perform floor during/after Kerri Strug\’s vault. It was always something that I was confused about, too. But if you listen closely while Strug is being placed on a gurney, you can hear Dina Kochetkova\’s circus music in the background. Kind of prophetic in a way…

Can\’t wait to hear your commentary on the AA finals!

7 years ago

If you listen to the background right as they were \”helping\” Keri off of vault. Dina Kochetkovas FX was starting

7 years ago

I think you guys are amazing and enjoy your podcasts but I do disagree with Dominique Dawes on Beam. I think her Beam series and jumps are the best of anyone in the competition. I heard you say \”bent knees\” and if you\’re referring to her backhandsprings into the full in dismount I do understand that but the full in dismount in my opinion trumps everything! Her handspring layout series is flawless and her straddle jumps are exquisite down to her fingertips. Thanks for the podcasts I really enjoy them!

6 years ago

Here is a link to all the Russian FX routines in team finals: The music on this video has been inserted separately, so you can\’t hear any of the crowd noise.

Kochetkova\’s routine starts here: She has a somewhat low landing on her double layout first pass, but the real problem is her third pass–she basically has to tuck her rudi to get it around.

Aditi Gandhi
Aditi Gandhi
6 years ago

Talk about coaches dictating the gymnast\’s every move, clearly Martha is still not over that. If you haven\’t already, do watch 2015 Worlds Podium Training (19.2o mins onwards), Martha is literally telling them they can sit on chairs. Like??? They\’re freaking 19year old gymnasts, they know where they can sit. She stands like two feet distance from each of them throughout the whole training. Gosh, let them breathe already.
Also, note how she totally dismisses the volunteer by the floor, she\’s like straight up \’No, we don\’t want to do more gymnastics.\’

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