The No. 1 Gymnastics Podcast in the Galaxy

262: 1996 Olympic Event Finals (Commissioned)


This week, we bring you the final installment in our epic 1996 Olympics TRILOGY: the event finals. This episode is brought to you by Club Gym Nerd member Kris (who also commissioned the 1996 all-around final because of legendary status—the rest of us could never), who thought it only fitting that we leave no stone unturned and no competition un-dissected when it comes to the glory and wonder and pageantry of the 1996 Olympics. Correct. Thank you for supporting the show, Kris!    

You can watch the 1996 Event Finals along with us here.

Spencer and Jessica discuss:

    • Round-the-clock Kerri Strug ankle coverage
    • Why the vault format at the 1996 Olympics was…weird
    • Jessica’s plan to institute martial law at gymnastics meets
    • Spencer has a problem with certain vaults having certain 10.0 starts (because of course he does)
    • Who should have won bronze: Gogean or Galieva? (Or Boginskaya!)
    • Shannon Miller’s death-trap Tsuk of death
    • Amanar’s controversial-ish victory
  • BARS
    • Fun with casual sexism!
    • Is the current code inhibiting our appreciation of Podkopayeva’s bars?
    • Dominique Dawes and the age-old question of over-scoring stuck landings
    • Svetlana Khorkina and the low-bar clip heard (but not seen) ’round the world
    • Level 4 transitions in an Olympic event final
    • Are Tim and Elfi unnecessarily/undeservedly harsh on the Romanians compared to the other nations?
    • The INNOVATIVE DIFFICULTY of co-silver medalists Amy Chow and Bi Wenjing.
    • Aggressive American bias in commentary
    • Who really should have won which medals?
    • URGENT: What is Khorkina drinking? And is it a special bars potion?
  • BEAM
    • How many VHS tapes does it take to measure a beam?
    • Moceanu’s terrifying head-crash onto the beam
    • Shannon Miller‘s perfect, difficult, intergalactic champion routine
    • Lilia Podkopayeva‘s almost-as-perfect, difficult, intergalactic champion routine
    • Gina Gogean‘s “unexciting” routine, whether it really was “unexciting,” and the etiquette of scary-fall replays
    • That shot of Shannon’s face immediately after Galieva fell
    • The only medal ceremony we got to see (look how that worked out) and the outfits these poor women were put in
    • China’s editorial comment on American trash dancing
    • Everybody in the entire world starts with a floppy, bent-knee double layout
    • Kochetkova‘s score and whether it was an apology for the beam result
    • Should Simona “nutrocker” Amanar really have scored better than Dawes? We discuss.
    • Moceanu’s best routine of the Olympics and why it should be a lesson for all future codes of points
    • Even Lilia Podkopayeva’s uncontrolled landings are more artistic and more deserving of gold than anything anyone else has ever done
    • The 100% true story behind Mo Huilan’s floor routine (it involves roller-scoring and It’s A Small World)
    • Did the judges actually get it right?


WHAT: #BeerWithBetty: The Greatest Scavenger Hunt in the Galaxy!

PRIZE: The winner will share a beer (or root beer if you are under 21) with the great Betty Okino, Olympic and World medalist, creator of the triple turn on beam, and a member of the Precision Choreography team.

WHEN: The hunt will start at 8am on Thursday August 17 and will end at 12pm on Saturday, August 19. The winner will meet with the Betty Okino at 3pm in Anaheim on August 19th! If you enter, be READY FOR BETTY because winner will meet this gymnastics legend at 3pm that day!

HOW IT WORKS: Your mission will be to complete each of the following tasks and post a photo or video to Twitter or Instagram tagging @GymCastic and @PrecisionChoreo using #BeerWithBetty:

  1. Man Wipe
  2. Pose in front and of P&G Championships sign. The more ridiculous your interpretation of poses on the sign the better!
  3. A coach watching bars (or any routine) with head tilted to the side
  4. Someone casually waiting in line in wolf turn position
  5. Pretend to mount a piece  of non-gymnastics equipment mouthing “I got this” a la Laurie Hernandez
  6. Find mustached person (doesn’t have to be real) and recreate Bela carrying Kerri. (Precision will choreograph a free beam routine for anyone who does this with Steve Nunno playing the part of Bela)
  7. 5 folks strumming tummy guitar a la Boguinskaya’s 1989 FX routine
  8. A leotard that needs a seizure warning
  9. Simone’s ending pose amongst a group of unsuspecting people
  10. Gather 10+ people to do their best gymnastics salute (Bonus for college style)

The winner will be selected at random among everyone who completes all ten items.

PLUS: We will give six additional prizes for Most Outrageous photos! The top three most outrageous photos on Friday will win a personal voice message from one of Precision Choreography’s gymnastics stars (people like Chellsie Memmel, Alicia Sacramone, Houry Gerbesian, and Holly Vise)! The top three on Saturday will get a special shout-out on the GymCastic podcast.


  • Join Club Gym Nerd here with brand new membership tiers, commission your own episode, or commission your own segment.
  • Buy some of our awesome merchandise here.




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6 years ago

Can we talk about how Bi Wenjing\’s Mo salto has got to be infinitely harder done from inverted grip?! Unreal.

Nick Man
Nick Man
6 years ago

Simona Amanar did ALL of Dominique Dawes’ tumbling passes…plus a triple twist. I think the medals are correct.

6 years ago

Loved the show as always.
A couple of comments …
On releases coming from high bar to uneven bars, I take your point that a front somersault over the bar is a Mo salto. Any idea why Tkatchev, Deltchev, Geinger, Jaeger, etc weren’t renamed after the first woman who did them? Seems inconsistent. Unless or falls into the category of being done by more than one woman for the first time in the same competition so it didn’t get named after anyone – that’s the only reason I can think of.
And on falls, I think the Gogean one is significant because she oermanately altered her routine and never performed 3 backwards skills again. And it was v unusual at that time not to have a 3 skills backward acrobatic series.
Thanks for all your work! Love it!

6 years ago

I feel like, on vault, the order mattered in who finished first and who finished second. Simona Amanar had a huge advantage going last, especially after Miller and Grosheva, who both had so much trouble, and so far after Mo Huilan. Even though her vaults weren\’t her best, they were much better than what the previous two athletes had done. If Mo had gone last, or even seventh, giving the judges a direct comparison between the two, I do think she could have finished first (although I\’m not sure she would have, because as you both noted, she was underscored on vault throughout the event).

6 years ago

Another great recap! I remember hearing somewhere that Miller didn’t get to warm up the Phelps vault during the finals. Nunno had her warm up the Yurchenko 1/2 and 1 1/2 but didn’t get to the Phelps in time. It’s no wonder she messed up her run and entry.

It was also so stupid that Tesh and company decided that Mo Huilan was getting interviewed because she thought she had won already. She had just secured her first (and only) Olympic medal, so I’m sure that’s why they interviewed her. Still it’s a good point that security shouldn’t have let that interview happen down on the floor, along with the bazillion flash bulbs during every single routine.

Lilia actually had some subtle form breaks during bars – particularly on her Geinger and bail. The BBC broadcast shows it more clearly, so that’s likely where the judges deducted. Her toepoint and extension though were beyond exquisite. Dawes missed her handstand before her Shaposhnikova on low bar by quite a margin, so between that and the arch before her Hindorff I can see why she only got 9.8 even with the stick. Chow had more difficulty than anyone, so I could forgive her for that sole circle transition 🙂

Interestingly enough, there was more difficulty required in event finals due to the COP requiring an extra C or higher skill to get the 9.4 base value. Some folks already had enough difficulty in their routines to get the 10 SV, but some added more to fulfill the requirement. Kotchetkova added a 2nd Rulfolva perhaps for that purpose, though her routine was crazy difficult already. Miller in 94 had to add the punch front/wolf jump mount to her EF routine because without that she would have been out of a 9.9. Same with Moceanu throwing an extra front full on FX here in EF.

Such a shame that there was no entrant from China in the beam finals, between Mo Huilan botching her TF dismount to Kui Yuan Yuan missing the finals because of that forward roll in compulsories. Still I was so happy that Shannon won. FYI the skill that Peggy Liddick mentioned was a “mistake” was actually the Miller – Shannon’s wrist was in such bad shape that she couldn’t even train the skill, so she only threw it in competition. Basically she had to cheat the turn a little, but you could hardly notice anything. Even when she was off Miller always made everything look so polished.

6 years ago

Another great recap! Miller didn’t get to warm up her Phelps vault, which is why she struggled with the run-up and entry. Nunno had her warm up her Yurchenko 1/2 and 1 1/2 but didn’t get to the Phelps in time. Gogean should have been deducted more than she got for doing the 1/2 turn so late on her Phelps (really turning it into a back layout 1/2 instead of a 1/2 front layout, which is much harder). That huge lunge step on Amanar’s 2nd vault should have been far more deducted, but her DTY was incredibly high and far.

Miller’s wrist was so bad that she didn’t even get to practice her signature “Miller” skill on beam, so Peggy said she only threw it in competition. She had to cheat a little on the pirouette because of the wrist – this was the “mistake” that Peggy said she made in her routine. As always Miller shined, and I was so happy for her to win beam after the tough time she had in the AA.

Interestingly, in event finals in 1996 the COP required slightly more difficulty. I think there was an extra C skill or higher required to get the base value of 9.4. That’s why some gymnasts added a little extra difficulty in places, like Kotchetkova throwing a 2nd Rulfova (which she didn’t throw in team or AA), or Moceanu adding the 2nd front full. In 94 Miller had to add her punch front mount to her beam routine in worlds finals for that same reason.

It was also ridiculous that Tesh and company thought Mo was celebrating winning gold on vault, with Amanar still to go. The girl had finally broken through for a medal, so I’m sure that’s why they were interviewing her. Still, it’s a good point that the security should not have allowed media to interview the athletes down on the floor, not to mention the bazillion flash bulbs…

Maybe next someone will commission the 200o Olympics? So much drama! Two hours would probably be only enough to cover Khorkina alone 🙂

6 years ago

Great episode! I recently discovered your podcast and have thoroughly enjoyed your episodes. Finally, I have found people as gym crazy as I because my friends certainly are not haha! Not only was Mo underscored, but I feel like the Chinese gymnasts have been underscored for decades. Doing things with such beautiful form makes the skill much harder.

I have a very different impression from the commentators\’ remarks about Kochetkova on beam however. I feel like they are praising her difficulty and her ability to do multiple twisting elements. It sounds as though they are explaining to the average TV spectator why it\’s fine she does the same element several times, noting she does it from different entries.

6 years ago
Reply to  Tiger

I, too, have only recently discovered this podcast and have loved listening to them dive back into these competitions. But I think they often brought their 2018-level disgust with NBC and their trio to these 1996 Olympics, which I think is the best NBC ever was with their commentary (which isn\’t saying much). Elfi\’s commentary in particular during the compulsories was measured, meritocratic, and insightful.

I was a bit dismayed at how gleefully these two pointed out Tim and Elfi\’s factual errors, roasting them as if they had said something actually offensive, while then going on to make numerous small errors themselves, from scores to World titles. Because they\’re human. And they\’re speaking on the spot. Kinda like Tim and Elfi.

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