JESSICA: Remember, this show is PG13. So you might hear a naughty word or two.
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Nastia–why, NBC, are you doing this to Nastia? Nastia is a treasure. She is national and international treasure. And as you can see now, a fashion icon. You don’t see Johnny and Tara on the ice skating shows for NBC wearing polo shirts. Right?
MEZ: I mean, it’s Nastia. She’d look better in a leotard right now than in that shirt.
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JESSICA: Today: Simone Biles dominates the American Cup, as if there was any doubt; Oleg gave Uncle Tim the best birthday present ever; and we have an Australian treat here with us today. This episode 140 for March 9, 2015. Welcome to the number one gymnastics podcast in the entire universe. I’m Jessica, and I’m here with Uncle Tim, from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym, and Even Heiter, and Mary-Anne Monckton from Australia. Before we get started with the American Cup, I wanted to give you guys an update on something that happened last week. Last week, last Friday night, was basically nicknamed Friday the 13th of NCAA gymnastics because every single meet had a horrific, terrifying crash. Between men’s and women’s. And one of the worst ones happened to Shelby Hilton at the University of Florida. She’s from University of Kentucky, they were there competing against Florida. And we have an update on how she’s doing, but Uncle Tim, can you kind of describe for everybody who didn’t see the meet what happened with her?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah. So she was doing her first tumbling pass. And it was going to be a round off, back handspring, double back pike. And she did her first salto, and she just opened up. And came down pretty much on the back of neck. She did get her arms up a little bit, so she was able to absorb the fall somewhat. It looked like she just kind of freaked out or got lost in the air and opened up way too soon. And then she got up, and she was going to continue her routine. And then she was like, “Nope, I’m going back down to the floor,” and then they were–there was a long period of time and the medical staff then took her off on a backboard.
JESSICA: Well, we didn’t get an update for a while. But then we found out that–she posted a message that said, “Hey, I guess you guys all saw my little accident on floor. Well, it turns out that saved my life.” Which is not what we were expecting to hear, right? So this is the statement that the University of Kentucky put out: They said she was taken to the hospital at that meet, and tests revealed that she suffered no injuries from her fall. However, an MRI did reveal four small brain lesions that have since been diagnosed as medulloblastoma. And so this is a kind of brain cancer, and they’re going to be starting a Caring Bridge page for her to update everyone on how she’s doing. And the horrible irony of this whole thing–I mean, it depends on what kind of person you are, if you’re a glass half empty or glass half full. It’s either a horrible irony or there is a little tiny angel in heaven named Kylie who helped this team because they were trying to help her when she had cancer. And the story is, goes like this. Kentucky head coach, Tim Garrison, he used to be a club coach here in California. And one of his gymnasts named Bree had a little daughter named Kylie. Kylie was almost two I think and she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, another kind of brain cancer. And you guys may have seen in the gymnastics community the “Pray for Kylie” little hashtags. And the University of Kentucky did a whole meet where they held a sign that was “Compete for Kylie,” and that was their theme for the whole meet. And it was just so beautiful to see–this coach had this love for his former gymnast and her daughter, and his whole team was competing for this little girl, hoping that she could come out of this healthy again. But unfortunately, Kylie passed away about a month ago from the brain cancer. So it’s like, here we are. That the coach and the team have this connection to this little girl with brain cancer, and then one of their own has this freak accident, which now we might say, “Maybe that was actually caused–the brain lesion actually caused her to lose her spatial awareness and freak out” or whatever happened, who knows. And that may, in the end, save her life because they were able to catch this cancer so early. So we are sending our best wishes to Shelby, and we will be looking out for that Caring Bridge page when it comes up, and we are sending our best wishes to you, and we’ll update you guys as we find out more about how she’s doing.
All right! Let’s talk about the American Cup. First of all, you guys, gymnastics community, are freaking awesome because Simone Biles was trending on Twitter, and the American Cup hashtag was trending, so you guys are superstars. Good work! This means AT&T will keep sponsoring and bringing us these awesome meets, and USA Gymnastics media team can keep bringing us these full broadcasts online for free. And you guys know every single routine from American Cup is up online for free too. So even if you missed the broadcast you can watch every single routine. It’s freaking fantastic. The other most exciting thing ever is that Oleg won the men’s meet, and it was Uncle Tim’s birthday on Saturday. Uncle Tim, how did you feel? Did you feel like he did it just for you?
UNCLE TIM: Of course. Why else would he do it?
UNCLE TIM: He clearly has to know about my appreciation for his gymnastics and had to do it for me. I mean, you know, what else would you do? Don’t you do that, Mez? You compete for your biggest fan on Twitter? And then you win meets for them? [LAUGHTER]
MEZ: Yeah, definitely. [LAUGHTER]
JESSICA: Oh my God, I was totally imagining you jumping around in a birthday hat, all around your apartment when he won.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] A birthday suit or a birthday hat?
JESSICA: No, no, no! A birthday hat! [LAUGHER]
UNCLE TIM: Okay.
JESSICA: Although we do have to get back to your birthday suit, because Simone got a 62. But okay. So, podium training. Let’s talk about podium training, because it was–it was semi-terrifying, and we didn’t actually know how terrifying it was until we saw the pictures from Christy Linder, which we have up on our website. You can check them out. And I know that our photo gallery widget is not the best thing in the world, so if anybody has a recommendation for a Wordpr–bleh. Word-Press plug-in for a photo gallery that’s really reliable and awesome, because ours works perfectly and then it shrinks down to nothing and I can’t find another one that’s better, that does mass uploads. So please, I am open to suggestions. Anyways. So Christy–we all saw that Skinner had a really bad podium training. Uncle Tim, can you kind of give us the low-down on what happened with her, and then we can talk about what we saw in the picture.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah, so she had a really bad training. One thing that I find interesting is that fact that when she’s warming up her Cheng vault she does not do what most men do, which actually doing the yurchenko half-on, layout off. She just does a yurchenko layout to warm up. Which I thought was interesting. So anyways, she was doing her Cheng and, you know, I didn’t–the camera was across the gym, so you could just see her doing it. So you couldn’t see the close up that Christy got. But she totally face planted it. She just didn’t get any height, face planted it, and I thought it was just a bad day, because later on floor she also face planted her moors. So I kind of just thought it was a really bad day. And then I get this text from Jessica, and what was in that text, Jessica?
JESSICA: Oh my God, we were freaking out. Because we just thought that she was off and had a bad day. But what actually happened–and you can see the picture on our site–is that her–you know how she basically does it with one hand? The hand that’s supposed to actually block either completely missed or totally slipped off the side of the vault. So in the picture, you can see that her hand is actually underneath the vault table from the side. Way underneath–like, it’s about halfway up her forearm. And her other hand is just hovering in space over the top of the vault. So she actually totally missed her hand, and that’s why she got no repulsion at all and landed on her stomach. And that is freaky. I don’t think I’ve seen that since the new vault table was introduced, and it’s really, really scary. And so when the meet actually happened, she didn’t do her Cheng at all. She just did her yurchenko double, thank God. But I was like–my palms are sweating just now, thinking about that picture, because it was so, so scary. So I’m so glad that they made the decision not to have her do that. Because that’s–I’m really glad that she’s okay.
UNCLE TIM: So somebody…
EVAN: But also…
UNCLE TIM: Go ahead, Evan.
EVAN: Suffice to say, you should use two hands [LAUGHTER] because that second hand could have come in “hand”y when you were flipping. Yeah. It’s almost mind boggling to think that the technique hasn’t been refined on that to a level where–I mean, I would venture to say that I think she can do the vault, but I would not be surprised if that happens often based on the technique that she uses. So that’s that.
JESSICA: Well, I hope that this picture gets around to more judges. And so that maybe they’ll take the correct deduction on this now and say, “Oh, we have a two hand rule because we don’t want you to die–we want a backup hand.”
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Yeah
JESSICA: So everybody send it to your judging friends.
UNCLE TIM: It’s good that there’s not a one-arm judge on vault.
EVAN: Vault with strong hand!
UNCLE TIM: Exactly. I’m sure we’re going to get listeners writing in to us. So Jessica, it has happened. Gabby Douglas, I believe was at Pac Rims one year, was supposed to do an amanar, missed one hand, crashed right on to her back or something–I can’t remember exactly, but it has happened a couple times. I’ve seen it happen in college too. So listeners, do not have write us every example that you can think of. But we’ll read them if you do, so.
JESSICA: [LAUGHING] Let’s talk about the results for women. If you only–this is what we have to talk about first, all right? If you only listen to the NBC broadcast and that’s your introduction to this meet, you would feel like, “Oh! Everyone just learned gymnastics, and their federations just sent them to the meet as a last resort, because the Americans are the best thing in the entire world, and no one else can even do gymnastics.” And it’s like–I cannot stand how they frame this meet. So, Mez, can you, as a world cup silver medalist on beam tell us, and remind everyone, what it actually takes–the level you have to be at to be invited to a world cup meet?
MEZ: Okay, so to be invited to a world cup, you need to be in the top seven all around in the world, and then it just goes down the list of rankings from last Worlds until all seven places are full, and then there’s a wild card gymnast, which the FIG provides for the eighth spot. So. Pretty high standard.
JESSICA: Yeah, right? You have to be top in the world and–and there’s also a whole thing that it goes through. If someone can’t come or they’re sick, then you go down the list–there’s like, 500–there’s literally a 16 page document on this, so if you’re wondering why each individual person got invited we’ll link to this so you can do the math and figure it out. But yeah–it’s a huge, high standard.
MEZ: But long story short, these girls are all in the top 20 in the world. So it’s the peak of our sport, so it’s pretty awesome.
JESSICA: Yeah. So, Evan, give us the results.
EVAN: I don’t if anyone heard, [LAUGHS] but Simone Biles won. [LAUGHTER] Pretty easily. She scored 62.299 in the all-around. And that is just a little bit of ahead of Mykayla Skinner with a 57.832. And then Erica Fasana from Italy rounded out the top three. She scored a 56.633. So, winning by nearly five points, Simone also won every event. I guess the more interesting stat is who got second on every event. So Mykayla Skinner was second on vault. Jessica Lopez was–from Venezuela–was second on bars. Ellie Black, one of Jessica’s favs to watch on beam, she was second on that event. And then Mykayla Skinner was also second on floor. The results speak for themselves, and Uncle Tim and I were speaking yesterday about whether or not we felt like Simone was over scored. And I think it is all relative, I think you have to go in with a certain expectation at the American Cup, especially when there are Americans. But honestly, it didn’t even matter what they gave Simone, because she a) knocked that shit out of the park and b) was so much better than everyone that it’s like, “Yeah, give her a 15 on beam.” I feel like that was a little high, yes, but on that day she deserved a 15. It’s a 15 because it was the best beam routine that was done that day. So it is what it is. What do you guys think about the scoring?
JESSICA: Mez, you’ve competed at the meets that are very American-centric. And do you think that this was fair, or do you think that, in your opinion, the Americans get a little favoritism?
MEZ: You guys already said, you have to come in with a little expectation. It is called the American Cup. So I don’t know. Some of the execution scores were really high, and you probably won’t see those at Worlds. But at Worlds the rest of the girls will be way more prepared and will be pushing–I don’t know, they’ll be coming up behind Simone, I guess. It will all be a little bit more even. In this case, she was, like you said, just that far ahead. That was like, “Wow.” She really is that far ahead, just give her a 15 because it was so clean and it looked incredible.
EVAN: Yeah, so it’s very interesting, too. Obviously Simone was the class of the field, but also–you know, NBC characterizes Simone so much as unbeatable, so do we feel like there’s a certain level of necessary pressure being put on her, just based on the fact that they were like, “She’s literally the best gymnast in the world already.” Basically putting her on the top all-around spot of any meet she’s going to enter. So, what do you guys think of NBC’s characterization of Simone?
UNCLE TIM: Well, I think that it’s interesting, first of all. Simply because they do this every year. But I think with Simone it’s a little bit difference simply because she is that much better than people. However, nobody is completely free of the injury bug. She could get injured, hopefully not. And I just hate when they say these things, because it feels like they’re going to jinx her. So I’m just like, “Tim Daggett, stop talking! I love you, but stop talking! Stop saying these things!” What about you, Mez, what do you think?
MEZ: I don’t know. Simone seems like the type of girl who’s pretty grounded and doesn’t let that sort of stuff get into her head. In interviews they always ask her about Olympics, and she’s like, “Well, I think about it. I’m thinking about what I’m doing now.” And I guess that’s a pretty good way to be because of all this hype. And I guess, just like any other gymnast she’s about being the best she can be. And so are the rest of us. And so yeah, she’s four miles ahead of everyone else, it’s all relative to her own personal goals and performance and her plan. So. I guess she just needs to stay grounded and see how it goes.
JESSICA: I mean, the thing that really bothers me about how they do it is–like you were saying, can we just live in the freaking moment for a second? God! It’s not the Olympics yet, it is not 2016, it is not the future! We are in the present. Can we just enjoy everyone for who they are at this moment and not project a thousand pounds of pressure and a whole two years in the future on them? God! It’s so annoying! It drives me crazy! I’m just like, “Can we just chill with the Olympic thing? And just talk about the meet for what it is?” Ugh! I can’t stand it! But the other thing I feel like is totally unfair to Simone is that they’re always like, “Oh, she unbeatable, blah-blah-blah, no one can touch her, she could be the greatest ever!” But what they don’t talk about it every time you win, it compounds the pressure on you exponentially. That expectation just builds and builds and builds and builds–it’s like a fighter who’s never been beaten before. It’s like, “Is this going to be the knock out?” And I just feel like they’re not acknowledging the pressure when you’re on top the expectation on you is always to stay at the top, and if you’re not at the top you don’t have that. And I think it’s not fair the way they talk about her, because they don’t talk about the pressure of expectation.
UNCLE TIM and MEZ: Yeah.
EVAN: Very true. The formulaic approach that NBC has to take is not surprising, but I think what Jessica wants is an individualized kind of packaging of this. It’s not like 2000–it’s not exactly like 2000, it’s not exactly like 2004. But they’re trying to package this story into that type of box. So, we’ll talk more about the commentary in bit, but I’m interested to hear what everybody has to say about what NBC presented as a whole.
JESSICA: Go ahead, Mez, what were you going to say?
MEZ: Well–I’ve lost my train of thought. [LAUGHTER] But I think it was just like something along the lines of pressure. We, as gymnasts, if you’re focused on the outcome you’re not going to do very well during the process. So I think in regards to pressure, if you just think about what you’re doing in the process in the competition, then the outcome–it will be what it is. So I think Simone is just focused on what she’s doing, like any other gymnast. You just focus on routine, routine, routine. And then in the end, okay, the result came. And I don’t think she’s ever like, “Oh, I’m going to go in and I’m going to win it.” I think she’s like, “I’m going to go in and hit all four.” And anything less than that will be less than her expectation of herself, personally. Yeah, so.
JESSICA: Yeah, I’m always hoping when they talk like that then I’m like, “I hope she never listens to this.” I hope if they ever have this on, they turn off the sound. Because I don’t ever want gymnastics–yeah, exactly. You can’t focus on the outcome, or it will mess you up. So I’m sure Amy never lets her have the sound on if she watches these things. [UNCLE TIM LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: I was going to say, Marta during the Nastia Liukin Cup said something similar, which was, “It’s a lot easier to fall down a couple spots then to move up a couple spots.” And I couldn’t agree with that more. I–when you’re on the top, it’s really easy to get bumped down. I think it’s hard. [LAUGHS] And I do not envy being in Simone’s position, because I would be falling apart. Jessica, do you have anything you want to say about Marta and her commentary?
JESSICA: Oh, yes! So at the Nastia Cup, because Nastia just knows exactly what we want–first of all, she added John Roethlisberger to the commentary booth, which was hilarious because John Roethlisberger and Nastia gave Tim Daggett so much shit. [LAUGHING] Basically, they were just teasing him the entire time, and it was hilarious! Because honestly, it was like listening to a team. How, you know, you talk smack to your teammates and tease your teammates in a real team situation? That’s what it was like listening! And I was like, “Oh my God, this is like being in the gym. This is fantastic!” And it took Tim a little bit of getting used to, but then he got into it and enjoyed it I think. And it was just so funny and I loved it. I mean, I think honestly the commentary, the whole situation of the Nastia Cup and the event itself I actually enjoy a little bit more than the actual gymnastics. Except floor, because the JO level 10s are so much more artistic in general because they have time to be then the elites. You know, if they had to do five freakin’ tumbling passes then there would be no time for artistry in JO either. So I, I just–it was hilarious. And that also is on YouTube, so you guys can watch it. But Marta–so let’s talk about Marta. She joined, she got into the commentary booth again, and she said some really interesting things. One which was the whole thing about how hard it is to stay at the top, and that she told the girls when they were coming back, specifically Gabby and Aly, she says she told them she loved them. Which I was like, “Oh my God. I wonder if she really said that. Like, ‘I love you, Gabby Douglas.’ ‘I love you Aly Raisman.'” I just feel like that would be a really wonderful, affirming thing to hear from Marta Karolyi if you’re a gymnast. But then she told them, “But you have to earn this spot. What you did in the past doesn’t matter at all.” And I feel like that’s the harsh reality, but that’s also why the US is good. Because it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what medals you have, you have to be able to do it in pressure situations. And she also talked about Kim Zmeskal–at the Olympics, or World Championships when Kim Zmeskal became the first world champion for the United States, could not catch her release. Could not catch her bar release. Fell, fell, fell, fell, fell. And she was like, “But, then we went into the meet and she did it. Because she’s a great competitor.” And I was like, “Ah.” See, this explains why Marta is so good. It’s that she knows when to believe in someone and knows who the good competitor is. Because you can have someone who hits every single time in practice but can’t compete. And that is why she knew to trust Gabby. Because we all know that Gabby couldn’t hit a beam routine to save her life in London in practice. But Marta knew she’d be able to do it in the all-around when it counted, and she was right. So that was fantastic. And she’s just so–she’s so positive when she does the commentary, and I’m like, “Really? Is this what you say in the gym?” I just can’t believe these are the corrections you give. But she was extremely positive when she was talking about the gymnasts at the Nastia Cup. And also she was talking about who–you know, some of the juniors. [BAD ROMANIAN ACCENT] “Yes, I am looking at the talent here.” And thinking about who she would select. So, yeah. I enjoyed it very very much.
UNCLE TIM: Mez, what’s the world–well, Australian–perspective on Marta? Do you guys think she’s intimidating, or do you guys have any opinion on her?
MEZ: I don’t know. I guess I really only speak for myself here. I guess, like any head coach, I guess all the girls are pretty intimidated at first until you go to the camps and get to know the coaches and the coaching team. And then you’re like, “Oh, actually they’re just people too, so it’s all good.” But like one time, I’m not going to lie, I was in a lift with Marta at 2011 Worlds. And I can’t remember who I was with–maybe I was with George or Em or something, and I nudged them, and they’re like, “What?” They didn’t realize. And then I got out, and I was like, “[GASPS].” I was like, “That was Marta Karolyi.” [LAUGHS] But I was 15, so. [UNCLE TIM LAUGHS] But yeah, now I’m just like, I could go up to Peggy and have a conversation, and I hope that those girls could go up to Marta and have a conversation as well, which I’m sure they can. So.
JESSICA: Does Peggy say the same kind of thing to you guys? Like, past results don’t matter? Or does she have a totally different kind of outlook?
MEZ: I’m not really sure. I mean, in Australia we don’t have lot of 15 year-olds who are just going to come up and make a whole new team, unfortunately. But then again, fortunately, for us girls it is about what you do consistently and what you do well over time. So, I guess it’s just–it just depends on who is in the mix for the team. If you have really experienced girls or you have less experienced girls, it just depends on who’s going to make up the team. Sometimes past results can come in to play. Of course, if I was a head coach I’d love to have someone who’s done it before and can do it again. So it really just depends.
JESSICA: Evan, what would you have done if you were in the elevator with Marta like Mez when you were 15? [MEZ LAUGHS]
EVAN: I would have been like, “‘Sup, girl? Can we take a photo?” [LAUGHS] No, I probably would have been silent and waited for it to be over and then immediately told and texted everyone who would a) know who she is and b) freak out. [JESSICA LAUGHS] So yeah, I can see how–she’s just very strong and secure in her role. And I think that, like Mez was saying, you know it’s different in America because there are re–if you’re not going to do the job, there’s three to four other people who fit the exact same way you could for any team that we’re needing or building. So that type of pressure, I think, Marta–her approach to things kind of speaks to that. Because she knows the responsibility she has in selecting these–from this a slew of girls who, for all intents and purposes, could all be contributors and help a team do really well.
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JESSICA: Let’s talk about the save of the meet. Because there were some very special, I could not believe it moments in this meet. Uncle Tim, what’s the first one you want to talk about?
UNCLE TIM: So I’m going to go with one Miss Mykayla Skinner on beam. She did a back handspring step-out full and as soon as she took off for her full, she was already dropping her shoulder and twisting right off the beam, which is never a good sign. And she got both feet on the beam and then ended up in almost a needle scale position on the side of the beam in transverse position, as Jess would say. And she–somebody on Twitter said it was the closest to a split she ever hit, which may or may not be true [JESSICA LAUGHS], but she stayed on that beam. She must have really strong toes. Because I would have been doing a front flip off the side of the beam. What about you, Jess? What was your save of the meet?
JESSICA: Okay, so this was not technically a save, but it was a like an all-out, ovaries to the wall, go for it moment. And that goes to Claudia Fragapane, because she had–she went for everything! Even if she shouldn’t have. She did it. And she has guts like nobody’s business. She’s doing some of the hardest tumbling, I think second to Simone, and she–even though she was crashing falling, she still went for it every time. Did not let down when–it’s hard for every single skill, even her dance skills, as she did–as if she had performed everything perfectly, which is exactly what you want to see. And she did a triple, which was beautiful. I was just [GASPS]–it was so pretty! I didn’t expect it, I always expect her to do her double flipping everything.
MEZ: Yeah, me too.
JESSICA: Right? I was like, “Oh! That was so nice!”
MEZ: That was so nice.
JESSICA: Yes, it was beautiful. You know normally she’s a little bit wild with her tumbling, but that was so clean and lovely, it was almost Dabritz like. And then she did her double layout as her last pass. Okay, that should be a bonus, first of all, if you last pass is a–whatever a double layout is. An E, an F? And then she crashed on that, looked like she broke both of her ankles, and then she gets up and does a butterfly. A butterfly, people! Oh! [UNCLE TIM LAUGHS] First of all, she has butterfly in her routine. Second of all, she did a butterfly after she crashed and most people would have stayed on the ground crying after that. But no, she got up and did a butterfly! [UNCLE TIM LAUGHS]. Oh my God, I was so–that made the meet for me. I was like, “Everyone sit down and recognize that girl who has the biggest balls in the room. Thank you very much.”
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] She didn’t try too hard on the butterfly, though.
JESSICA: No she didn’t. But she did it.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHTER] It looked like she–yeah. She looked like she was in a little bit of pain.
JESSICA: Yeah, she did.
UNCLE TIM: Did you get to talk to her, Mez, after that routine or no?
MEZ: No, not really. But after that, I’d probably be off to the hospital [LAUGHS] if I landed like that, so good on her for even getting up, I reckon.
JESSICA: What did most–
EVAN: I reckon to, because that–I was scared to allow [LAUGHS] that I was like, “I’m not sure that she should be doing this?” But like Jess said, it’s almost admirable to–you know, you have kind of two sides of gymnastics, I feel like. That side where it’s like, “This is my planned routine, and this is the routine I am doing.” And it’s a fine line between the other side of that and be like, “My legs aren’t cooperating today. So I can do another pass and be a bit more safe.” But I think that her approach is very much the former, so good on her to go out there and do what she had planned. And obviously you can only learn from this, and she has a really bright future. But after she was walking off the podium, I was like, “I cannot imagine how she–she must get to edge of the podium and be like, ‘I have to do steps now? I have to walk down these stairs?'” Like–
MEZ: [LAUGHS] It’s a good thing they finished on floor.
EVAN: “Please no, somebody carry me immediately.” [JESSICA LAUGHS]
MEZ: Yeah, it’s crazy. I think that also comes with a little bit of experience. Of course you have your planned. In that minute thirty, it’s pretty hard to think on your feet. So I don’t know, if it was J Lo doing that and she had a crazy plan for her last pass, she’d probably be like, “Yeah, I’m just going to do a two and half twist,” or “I’m just going to do a double tuck.” But I think if Frags had that plan then that was it. She wasn’t going to change it. And she went for it, so good on her. I mean, it’s pretty insane, so it was crazy to see, but it was good.
JESSICA: That’s a really good point, because J Lo actually did change her beam routine.
JESSICA: Yeah. So, I mean, with experience comes that moment of forethought, where you’re like, “Hm, what bonus do I need?” or “How do I stay alive?” So.
JESSICA: What did–in general, Mez, what did the girls tell you about the competition?
MEZ: Well, I spoke to some of my friends–my closest friends–beforehand, and they were just excited and the stadium’s massive. Think Em was pretty nervous, but that’s just because of the level of gymnastics was so high, and she hasn’t competed that much since London. And I was like, “Em, you don’t even know what nerves are.” I was like, “Just go out and do your thing.” And she just went and hit her routine the way that she can, so that was really good to see. But I think it was just–everyone was just really excited to be there. And wouldn’t you be? It was incredible.
JESSICA: I would be peeing my pants, I would not do that. [MEZ LAUGHS] That’s just nuts. That stadium–do you ever feel…
JESSICA: Okay, tell me how–if I was the only one this happened to, but the higher the ceiling, the more scared I would be. [LAUGHTER] Isn’t that–and there’s like no ceiling there. It’s like a freakin’ airport. Is that–am I the only one? Mez, do you ever have that?”
MEZ: Uhh, I don’t know. [JESSICA LAUGHS] I mean…
MEZ: I mean, when you’re competing, like when we’re in Glasgow all the lights were shining obviously down on to the floor. And when we’re on the floor, I looked up and was like, “It’s only one tier, it’s all good.” And then when they started cheering I was like, “Okay, there’s definitely more than one tier of people.” Because even though I can’t see them, they’re definitely there. And I went up to see my family after, and there was three tiers. And I was like, “Okay, that makes me a little bit more nervous,” because I couldn’t see all those people form down there. But that stadium is huge in America. It’s massive.
JESSICA: I thought they did–I mean, a lot of us were kind of worried about how this stadium would play out for the meet. And Evan, what did you think of how they arranged the seating and the curtains and everything, and how they laid out the venue?
EVAN: So I thought that it was very strategic. Obviously it was kind of landmark to have any type gymnastics event in really any type of major stadium like this, let alone where the Dallas Cowboys play. But I thought that they did a really good job of kind of making it a bit intimate for–depending on where you were sitting. And I thought that it was–it looked really great, and it wasn’t just like, “Yeah, we’re going to put the podium directly in the middle of the arena and then just let sparsely populated seats when every so often.” So I thought that the setup looked really good. What did you guys think? Did you, Uncle Tim, did you think it looked good to the eye?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah. I was wondering how they were going to do that, right? How were they going to turn this giant stadium into a gymnastics venue? And I remember they showed a couple shots of the fans, and it was like–can you imagine being in the top tier, trying to watch gymnastics? It didn’t look like there were too many people out there. I was a little thrown off because we’re so used to be–watching gymnastics meets in America with the giant American flag behind balance beam. And it wasn’t that setup, so it was a little weird for me, in that respect. But I do think they overall set it up pretty well. What about you, Jessica?
JESSICA: I liked it. I actually thought–at first I thought the ticket, some of the ticket prices–I mean, you could go for 35 bucks. So no one can complain about the ticket prices. Because you know you pay the 35 bucks and then you try to sneak down as far as you can. I mean, that’s what I would do, I’m just saying. But the floor seats–they were so incredibly close to the events! I was like, “Wow, that’s worth the 125 bucks or whatever.” If you’re actually going to be that close to the beam, that would be worth it, and I didn’t think they would be like that. So I’m very impressed with how they did it, I think they did a very good job. Which, psh, why do I doubt them? They always put on a really great event. That’s one of the things I think that USA Gymnastics does really, really well. The media team and the way they host the events. Especially for the live–they have the, what’s-his-name-Macready running around the whole time doing dance contests and being goofy. I mean, there’s entertainment every second of the event. And the big, huge screen was great because I feel like even if you were sitting in the very top tier it was probably a bigger screen than if you were sitting directly in front of your television at home, like an inch away from your tv screen. [UNCLE TIM LAUGHS] So, kinda couldn’t go wrong.
UNCLE TIM: I feel like people even in the front row were watching the ginormatron or whatever [JESSICA LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: People were calling it.
JESSICA: Ginormatron! We need a ginormatron at every event. I like that is was above–of course, where else would it be? But like at wrestling worlds in Azerbaijan, or Uzbekistan I think it was, they had a giant screen like that, but it was on the podium. So you’re wrestling and literally you could look at yourself in a screen that was two stories high on the podium right next to the mat. So–but, I think it’s a great idea, because everybody gets a good seat, essentially.
Let’s talk about our favorite moments. So, for you, Mez, knowing people as closely as you do, these are some of your best friends competing, what were some of your favorite moments? Maybe not just gymnastically, but personal triumphs for people?
MEZ: Well, first of all I just thought that the competition itself was really exciting. Because there’s always these expectations of what’s going to happen and who’s going to–what are the rankings going to be and stuff like that. And it really just showed that anything can happen. Like, I–it was at 3:30 in the morning, Australian time, and so I wake up at 6:30 was just catching some of the end. Then I watched all the routines over, and I saw the final results. I was like, “Whoa.” I was like, “Okay, that’s pretty exciting.” Nobody would have thought that those would have been the results from third down. So that was pretty exciting. And then, I don’t know, just seeing the comradery and good sportsmanship being displayed throughout the whole competition. I watched most of the routines just singularly on YouTube. USA Gymnastics put up just a single routines. And you can always hear Simone, that’s almost like a given. Like Aimee said, that’s just what she does. But it was really good to hear Ellie, and I could hear Em and Frags, and they’re all cheering for each other, and really trying to help each other through. Which is good, because you don’t have your team there. You might have one other teammate, but the girls don’t have their team, and so it’s quite a different approach. And when you’re over there, it can be really lonely, almost? So it was good to hear them trying to help each other out. And it’s usually more common amongst the men, but it was good to see the girls really trying to do that. And then gymnastically, probably like–at this early on in the season I wasn’t really expecting to see so many clean landings. Like Ellie’s vault–the double twisting yurchenkos that we saw were pretty good landing-wise. They weren’t too scary. [LAUGHS] And then just like on floor–Erica’s landings, she’s so powerful and she’s capable of doing way more. And same with Em. And Ellie. They can all do way more than what they did, but what they did they controlled it very well, so that was good to see. Just nailing those landings. And then, of course, Simone’s landings, but that’s like what I said–it’s all in perspective. We expect that from her, so I guess it was good to see as well. So that’s my main things. What about you guys?
EVAN: So for me it was Simone on floor. I found myself giddily, nervously laughing because I could–I had no concept of how she was doing what she was doing. I real–it’s like–listen to me, I feel like I’m like meeting a member of One Direction or something [JESSICA LAUGHS] I don’t know what to even say about it. It was that good. It was–execution wise… The thing that lets you know how good Simone Biles is and how her natural talent has been transformed into an unnatural amazingness is her run on floor. She does not need to generate power through her run. Because she literally just takes three trots [INSPIRATIONAL MUSIC BEGINS] into her round off back handspring, and that is a testament to really great basics and really great gymnastics, because she’s using the round off and the back handspring to generate and create the power to execute all of those skills. [MUSIC STOPS] So…
EVAN: Just kind of a–from a technical perspective, I really admire that. And then from a fanboy perspective [LAUGHTER] I’m just snapping [SNAPS FINGERS] it up for Simone! [UNCLE TIM LAUGHS] Uncle Tim, what was your highlight? Who did you give a shiny, sparkling Swarovski crystal leotard to?
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Well, Nastia obviously. Because she bought all of her gymnasts Swarovski crystal leotards. So, while we’re on the Simone train, I do have to say that I was really impressed. Because I was watching the NBC coverage on my boyfriend’s giant screen TV in high-def and everything, and he–well, he wasn’t watching this with me, but I was watching Simone’s replay of her beam pass, back handspring, layout step out, layout step out in slow motion. And I was just struck by the form of it and how pretty it was. And there’s certain people on the gymternet who called her Simone Viles, with a “v” instead of “b” for a little while. And I’m just like, “How can you say that? Did you watch that back handspring, layout step out, layout step out It was gorgeous.” So I was like, “That should shut up all the haters out there.” But my real gymnastics moments. One would have to go to Mykayla Skinner, simply because she did not throw the Cheng in competition, and whoever decided that was brilliant. I’m glad that she went with the yurchenko double full. I thought that was a really smart decision, and so whoever decided upon that needs to get their kudos. And also Ellie Black’s tsuk one and a half, I thought it was really awesome. She just stuck it, and it was straight down the middle line. It was beautiful. And I was a little sad that it doesn’t get scored a little higher, simply because that vault was amazing. And there were double twisting yurchenkos that were not as good, but they got scored higher. What about you, Jessica?
JESSICA: First, I just want to say I’m so glad you brought that up about Biles, because every time that somebody–especially NBC just keeps saying this, and it totally makes me mad, especially since poor Simone has been drug tested like seven thousand times, and I’m like, “Obviously, dumb asses! She’s not taking performance enhancing drugs. Those don’t exist in gymnastics, you idiots! Stop bothering her!” Every time that somebody mentions that she’s inhuman, and I know I do that, because she’s amazing. Or like, “She’s so talented!” It discounts exactly what you and Evan are talking about, and that’s that she has beautiful form, which you can see in the pictures on our site too. Christy Linder captured so well, if you want to see it freeze-frame. And also that the time and dedication that it has taken to learn her technique, and all of the things that go into having someone who can just take a step into a tumbling pass that’s never been done before. It’s–it’s so important, and I just feel like she’s dominate that we’re starting to get the “Oh, we’re tired of her winning” people out there. And I’m just like, “You idiots!” Like, “She’s fantastic!” And her form is beautiful, and we need more good form gymnasts out. Like Mez is on beam. We need more, more, more of this. [MEZ LAUGHS]
So. That is how I feel about it. And speaking of which–oh. I’ll do my favorites, and then I have something very important I have to talk about about E-scores. Cause you know how I feel about E-scores. If it’s not a 9, pht. So, let’s see. Jessica Lopez, her aerial sissone on beam–so gorgeous. And did you guys see her hands, upside down? Ballet hands while she’s flipping. Gorgeous. No broken wrists for her. Because she’s an adult, thank God. Ugh. Ballet hands. I just can’t get enough of her ballet hands. Ellie Black’s layout step out to–on beam, she does her flip flop to two foot layout, and she lands standing, basically. I mean, her knees are bent like 20 degrees. She’s leaning forward ten–like, under ten degrees. It’s insane. Her beam is so good. And then how she did for her last pass, I love how she did a layout full step out into her double pike. How cool is that? Nobody does a laid out full into their last pass–a front full, and step out? Nobody does that! [MEZ LAUGHS] It’s so cool!
MEZ: Well, she can do a two and a half step out, so front full’s probably just like, psh.
JESSICA: Yeah! Yes! [MEZ LAUGHS] I’m sure it’s super easy for her, but it’s totally unique.
MEZ: It’s cool.
JESSICA: Yeah. She just runs and jumps into it. I just love it. Just love it. And then what else? Oh, you know how I love my beefcakes. So Erika Fasana is just–and Donnell Whittenburg, but we’ll get to the guys later. But I just love–she’s just like “Uh!” in her Dracula routine. And she has her bat-leo on, like black and purple and like she lives in a castle in Romania, and she tumbles around the town to defeat her enemies. I just love her power! And her flexibility! She’ll stick the crap out of her tumbling pass, and then she does a double Y turn with her foot behind her head. I mean, she just…
MEZ: Oh, that turn!
JESSICA: Yes! It’s gorgeous. I mean, it’s like her and Mustafina! It’s so pretty! She has the full package like Simone does. There are some areas she needs to improve on, but on floor I just–there’s some little stuff she has to clean up, but her power and flexibility–it’s all there. She has all the tools, and I just love watching her. Also, like Mez was talking about, Skinner hugging every single competitor after they finished their routines. I appreciated that so much. I mean, we may talk about how Skinner needs to work on her form a lot, but in terms of representing the Olympic spirit, she absolutely embodied that at this meet with her comradery and reaching out to every gymnast like that. It was just absolutely wonderful to see her do that. So.
MEZ: Yeah, it was good.
JESSICA: I really liked it. I wanted to ask you, Mez, about what you think about J Lo’s floor music. because she’s a Venezuelan gymnast who did college gymnastics at Denver, and she has chosen this Scottishy, Gaelic kind of floor music with some little jigs kind of thing going on in it. [MEZ LAUGHS] Do you think that will work in Glasgow? Will people get up and start whatever dance they do in Glasgow? Is it going to work?
MEZ: I don’t know. It’s definitely interesting. When I saw it, I was like, “Oh.” I was like, “Well. That will be interesting to see.” But I kind of relate. Like, before Delhi I had this routine, and my coach was trying to make me do all of these, I don’t know, Indian kind of movements, and then I got injured, unfortunately. But I was really nervous to go over and do that. Because I was like, “I don’t even know what I’m doing. Is it–” Do you know what I mean? I thought, “Oh well.” I guess the worst that people can do in Glasgow is laugh, but I guess if they’re laughing they’re paying attention to you, [JESSICA LAUGHS] so it’s all a good thing? I don’t know. But we’ll see–they’re pretty enthusiastic, in Glasgow. I think that they’ll hear it and see it be, “She’s one of us, now!”
JESSICA: Totally. If you guys were going to do–if you, Evan or Uncle Tim, were to go to India to compete, would you try to do a Bollywood routine?
MEZ: No! Don’t do it! [LAUGHTER]
EVAN: I don’t–I don’t know. I think it kind of–there’s kind of a storied history about international athletes, or athletes who aren’t from the home nation performing patriotic routines. I mean, I’m just thinking of Lavinia Milo?ovici in…
EVAN: …when she did “Hooked on America.” In America. So things like that I think translate. But also I don’t the Americans were like, “We love that she’s using this music.” [LAUGHS] Like, “We love her because of it.” So I think it’s kind of a cultural thing. Probably–that probably speaks to, you know, Americans are too proud of cheering for America to be polite or cordial to someone who’s extending the olive branch of floor music. So it’s interesting. I don’t know if I would go full Bollywood, but there would be some little movements.
JESSICA: Snake charmer? [MEZ LAUGHS]
EVAN: I don’t know. Yeah. Move my body like a cyclone.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Uncle Tim, what would you do?
UNCLE TIM: I probably wouldn’t. I just–I don’t know. I feel like I would be trying to do too much, and it just wouldn’t come across as authentic, and it would just be cheesy and weird, and I don’t know. I’m not a future contestant on So You Think You Can Dance. As is evidenced by me doing Simone Biles’ choreography in my boyfriend’s kitchen yesterday, [JESSICA LAUGHS] and my boyfriend asking me what I was doing. And I said, “Simone Biles’ choreography.” And he said, “I hope she does it better than you do!” [LAUGHS] So, you know. There’s that.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] You’re a good dancer! I’ve seen you dance, you’re playing it down.
EVAN: Sort of. [UNCLE TIM LAUGHS]
JESSICA: So Mez, are you going to try to do a little samba in the corner for your 2016 routine? [MEZ LAUGHS] Are we going to see a little?
MEZ: Definitely not. Even if I did floor, I can’t dance, so. [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: So you think–
MEZ: No thank you.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] So you think Tracy’s going to try to make you do a little hip shake?
MEZ: No. Now way. No, I’m more–
JJESSICA: [LAUGHS] You’re just going to be like, “No.”
MEZ: –dark, kind of, you know, like Erika’s routine, Ellie’s routine. [LAUGHS] More like that. Definitely can’t move my body.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Ah, Ellie’s routine too, I loved it. It was so good.
MEZ: It was.
JESSICA: And so wait, is her–
EVAN: I miss Ellie’s–I miss Ellie’s old music so much, though.
EVAN: Her 2012 music, I just think that that was perfect. It’s one of my, one of my favorite’s really, memorable routines from the last ten years. I love it.
JESSICA: Did she switch coaches recently? Or has Kuchinich–is it Kuchinich? always been her coach?
EVAN: Kikuchi. David Kikuchi.
JESSICA: Kikuchi, yes.
JESSICA: Kikuchi. I was close. It’s like someone running for president or him.
MEZ: No, yeah, she’s always trained at Alta** with him
JESSICA: Okay. For some reason, he just looked younger than usual? I don’t know. [MEZ LAUGHS] A new maple leaf warm-up? I was like, “Has he always…” Yeah. Two-time Olympian by the way, Kikuchi. Okay, so. This is the serious question before we get to the men. Imagine you’re Aimee Boorman. You’re the genius coach of Simone Biles, and you have to figure out a strategy for the next two years. You want to keep Simone happy, you want to keep her healthy, and of course you want to keep her engaged and challenged. She has to be having a good time, you know that’s the secret about her. So what is your strategy going forward? Do you upgrade, do you stay the same and keep it safe, do you just concentrate on increasing difficulty on one piece of apparatus? Uncle Tim, you’re Aimee Boorman, what would you do?
UNCLE TIM: I wish I were Aimee Boorman, that would be awesome. So, I would say I would probably think about it for the next two years, and really kind of create a plan. And say, “Okay, these are all the skills that Simone can do. Which ones will actually be competition ready,” and think about how much they’re worth. And then try to work in some of those upgrades this year, and try to spread them out so she’s not doing a million new upgrades at P&G Championships, and then she’s overwhelmed. I’d try to spread them out over the competitions she might attend and go from there. I do think that you might see the Mustafina dismount on bars, I’m trying to think what else we’ve been seeing in the videos. Unfortunately, I don’t think–I’d leave the triple twisting yurchenko out of it. I don’t know, just because I feel that’s one of those skills that might end up with injury even just by training it. So I feel like her amanar’s consistent enough. I don’t know. I might try to upgrade her second vault, so that she can really compete for the gold on vault and in the event final. What about you, Evan. What would you say, what would you do if you were Aimee Boorman?
EVAN: I would first of all just be touching my hair, because I think her hair always looks really nice and smooth. [JESSICA LAUGHS] So I’d probably be playing with my hair, thinking about the strategy with Simone. And then I would come to my sense and be like, “We don’t need a new strategy. What we’re doing is working.” And just kind of, I think from what Aimee has said about her approach, we just kind of go along with it. And they recognize when things re: not working, and they take time to reflect and talk about things and make necessary changes. But I think that the approach would just be keep doing what you’re doing and don’t overcomplicate it. So, just because the Olympics are coming doesn’t mean that now it’s time to try something different. Or do something for the sake of doing something, just because it’s nearly the Olympic year. So I think that what they’ve been doing and Aimee’s approach has gotten them this far, and that is probably the most beneficial thing that their partnership has going for them. So it’s clearly not broke, and it clearly does not need fixing. Just do what you’re doing.
JESSICA: How about you, Mez?
MEZ: Yeah, first of all, leave the triple twisting yurchenko out of it. I mean, just, oh. I can’t imagine something more crazy at this point in time. That amanar’s good enough, and probably one of the best in the world, so just leave it at that. It looks good. And then, second vault. Like, half on one and a half off. And then she can really go for the gold medal in, on vault finals. And then just what they’re doing now, like you said, obviously works. The difficulty that she’s put out this weekend is incredibly, and massive upgrade from Worlds, even. So just trying to keep those in the routine and just being safe in training. Try not to over train, because that’s the most important thing, just finding a balance. You don’t to be going too hard out in training and not even make it to the competition because that’s not even worth it at all. So, just keep going.
JESSICA: Coffee breaks. Essential part of training life. [MEZ LAUGHS] And vacations in Belize. Don’t forgot those, very important. Okay, let’s talk about the men. So, Uncle Tim, will you do the honors?
UNCLE TIM: [LONG PAUSE] By doing what? [LAUGHTER]
JESSICA: By talking and telling us the results?
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Sure. So, coming in first was Oleg Verniaiev, yay! With a 90.597. Coming in second was Ryohei Kato of Japan coming in with a 90.098. In third was Donnell Whittenburg of the United States with 89.932. And in fourth was Sam Mikulak with an 88.598.
JESSICA: So after watching Sam at the Winter Cup, I didn’t really see him as a favorite going into this meet. He’s the defending champ, but he didn’t seem like this is what he was gearing up for for the year. Uncle Tim, what do you think happened with Sam’s preparation, either mental or physical, for the meet?
UNCLE TIM: Man, I don’t know. He–so when I talked to him at the Winter Cup, he basically said that everything was going really well and training was really great, and he felt like his routines were really great. Granted, he was talking to a journalist–if I can call myself a journalist–he was talking to me, and he was trying to make it sound like everything’s great, everything’s going to be great. But he just doesn’t seem to be that sharp, and I feel like he has been having problems for quite a few years, it just hasn’t been as noticeable. And you know when these little mistakes keep piling up and piling, then you’re like, “Yeah, maybe this isn’t working.” I mean, he’s had problems at P&G Championships on pommel horse. He should have placed in the 2013 all around competition but then messed up on the final event. He had a really rough go at the 2014 World Championships, and now this American Cup didn’t go well. And it seems like maybe he’s spending too much time doing, I don’t know, mattay bros or something? I have no clue. What do you think, Jessica?
JESSICA: I don’t know. Like, I’m really interested in what Evan has to say about this, because I have my own thoughts as we talked about before about how the men–the men’s program needs to sit down with Marta and ask her for her advice, and then figure out how they can implement this for adult men. And how they can work that out. Because she has a system that works, and I feel like the US men can’t handle pressure. They don’t do well in pressure situations. And what I’m interested to know from Evan is why you think Sam has no problem hitting for a team, but when he’s an individual, this when he has the problems. We’ve never seen stuff like this from him in NCAA, but when he’s competing in the all-around for the US, this is when we see the problem. So what do you think?
EVAN: Right, so. The first place that my mind went was–he’s competing so much less than he has in the last four years. So really, probably to some level trying to figure out, “What is my life? How am I training? What is my approach to that?” A lot of times, you know, in a long NCAA gymnastics season you just kind of go on autopilot after a while. And I think Sam used that to his advantage. So probably some of that coming into play. I think that it’s unfortunate that he’s–Sam is so charismatic and fun, and really I don’t think that would ever give you an answer that’s like, “Things are going really shitty right now. Like, it’s just really bad.” [LAUGHS] So I don’t think that we can ever expect that from him. But I also kind of–I guess from an athletic perspective, I kind of wanted him to take it a bit more seriously. And I know that that’s hard to teach, and I know that some people that’s just not their thing. But in terms of having fun with the meet, I think that that’s an awesome approach, and that just shows you that that’s how he’s going to go into competitions. But I kind of wanted him to just kind of get in a zone that’s like, “I have not hit either of my events today, and I’m trying to get the crowd hyped up.” It’s like, maybe we should reevaluate that to some level. So I think what Sam–he’s probably going through some transitions of “I’m a college graduate who’s training for the Olympics and trying to navigate that course.” Jess, does this make sense to you? Are you following in any–
EVAN: In any regard?
JESSICA: Yeah, that totally makes sense. And it is one of those things where I feel like it a transition phase for gymnasts, and sometimes we just expect them to keep going like nothing in their lives has changed. And that’s so rare. I think Lindsey** Mabel and Simone are the only people who come to mind that don’t have up and downs despite major training changes in their lives. And upheaval. And Mez, I wonder what you think too, because talking about the different things that Sam is having to deal with and when he excels and when he doesn’t. You’ve traveled to World Cups practically alone, and you’ve also competed with your team. But you almost never get to compete. I mean, it’s like, “Hallelujah, glory days!” when we actually get to see the Australians leave the continent and compete elsewhere. So how–what, if you were in Sam’s shoes, or if you were his coach, and you wanted to give him advice on how to work on performing when there’s no one else, you don’t have a team around you, and when the pressure’s on, what would you say?
MEZ: Gah, there’s so many factors coming into this, but first of all it’s definitely like you guys have said that transitional period. He has been competing every weekend for a few months of every year for the last four years, so it’s completely different now. And I guess, like if it was me and I’d done college and come back, I would be like–I would put so much pressure on myself every competition, I would be like, “Oh, this is it. This is the one time in the next three months I get to compete, so I have to go all out and…” I’d probably be a bit more focused on my event, rather than getting the crowd pumped up and stuff. But if that’s the way he gets it done then that’s the way he gets it done. But it just didn’t happen this comp, so. I don’t know. It’s difficult when you don’t compete that much. But in training, just put yourself in that situation, and again it seems to play differently coming from a team environment to compete individually or with just one other guy from the US. I don’t know. It’s completely different. Just try to put yourself in that situation as much as you can in training. I don’t really know how you’d get away from the team kind of aspect, he still trains with the team, so. I’m not sure about. I don’t know–I guess, more experience. I haven’t–
JESSICA: You’ve just–I’ve had the most brilliant idea from what you’ve said. This is the plan. We take–once a week we put the high bar, or pommel horse, or whatever up in the quad at Michigan. [MEZ LAUGHS] Even if it’s snowing, that’s fine. And he has to do one routine. And he only has one chance, that’s it, and you invite all the student body to watch. Can we make that happen, Evan?
EVAN: Yes, we could. We actually had a day in the fall called Pommel Horse on the Dyad where we take the pommel horse, as you described, and the guys would do horse, do routines and sets. And then we’d bring a spring board and just kind of show off. I think the–probably the hardest part about Sam is that he’s such a showman and he enjoys entertaining a crowd so much is that him not having that attention–hopefully that is perspective for him. I think he–and this is the case for a lot of gymnasts–we’re show-offs to some extent. But when you’re not hitting your routines, unfortunately it’s not as funny to show off. And you don’t get that satisfaction. So hopefully it’s just a wakeup call. Like Mez said, there are so many factors to be taken into account, and we’re really just speculating about the finer points of Sam Mikulak’s life right now. [LAUGHTER] But I think that there’s–there’s a lot of lessons to be learned, and I think that it will really impact him harder maybe than he’s letting on when the cameras are around.
JESSICA: I think we just need to get also besides the quad thing, just a crew of hot chicks. [EVAN LAUGHS] And they should just follow him alone.
UNCLE TIM: The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were there, though. I mean–
JESSICA: Exactly! Well, if you think they’re hot. [SIGHS] But anyhoo. [UNCLE TIM LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: So, I think also what needs to happen is, remember when Simone had a really bad US Classic, and then Marta basically sat her down and said, “Hey, get your act together,” or–I don’t know what Marta said. But she needs to have that exact same talk with Sam Mikulak. Like, “Hey, look. You could be one of the top all arounders in the world, but you have to get your ish together and get your life together.” Somehow, or whatever she said. She just needs to do that. She needs to take over the men’s team too. It’s been decided.
JESSICA: Yep. We’ve decided, so that’s that. [UNCLE TIM LAUGHS] Okay, so there’s a weird thing that happened with the men, and it’s different than what happens with the women, because we just kind of set the bars, and you make them tight enough so they don’t fall down, but there isn’t as much stuff about the tension, because you can’t really do as much with the tension. But with the men there was this whole thing during the podium training where–like, even there’s a rotation schedule, all of a sudden there’s seven dudes warming up on high bar, but they all wanted the tension different. And then Sam Mikulak landed on his face on the high bar. So, can you guys talk about the whole tension thing with the high bar and how you adjust it, and why there were so many dudes on the high bar at once? Could you please explain men’s gymnastics to us now?
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] As for why there’s so many dudes on the high bar at once, I don’t know. It just seemed like the men’s podium training was even more laid back than the women’s. It seemed like they were just kind of rotating whenever they wanted, whereas with the women it was, “Rotate. Rotate. Rotate.” Every twenty minutes or whatever it was. And so I feel like the guys are just kind of like, “Oh, I’m going to go here and warm up here, and I’m going to go there and warm up over there.” As for the tension, I will let Evan explain that.
EVAN: Well, that’s unfortunate, because I have never dealt with high bar tension before. And I don’t really remember–you know, I think–at least competing in college, the big thing was how do you want the p-bars prepared? That was the big differentiator. It wasn’t like we were changing the tension from routine to routine, so when they mentioned this on the broadcast I was like, “What? That’s a thing?” I don’t–Uncle Tim, correct me if I’m wrong, but when are they tightening the high bar? We don’t see that. It’s not like a change, like when you’re changing the settings of the uneven bars. So maybe it was just that the way the equipment was set up was–
EVAN: –not favorable, but at the same time, I don’t see guys–and you know, Jess, at Winter Cup, were guys changing the tension of the high bar? That just wasn’t happening. So, I don’t understand what this even is.
JESSICA: Yeah, it was weird. I mean, it was like they were resetting the connection to the floor, and normally you just–you don’t see–I mean, literally during podium training, every–after every turn someone was going over and yanking on the chains and then two coaches would and try to tighten or loosen again. And then some guys had to be like, “Wait, wait! I’m not done with my turn yet! Don’t change the settings!” And I was like, “Since when are there settings?” [LAUGHTER] There aren’t settings on high bar!
EVAN: Right. So that’s what I’m like–question mark, exclamation point, all over town about this because it just seems weird. So I would say that this maybe is an exception to the normal–the normal fare of high bar settings, but, Uncle Tim, am I blowing your mind or is this exactly what you wanted to set me for? And not knowing–
UNCLE TIM: No, I was just trying–
EVAN: –Not knowing what to say [LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: Yeah, I didn’t really know what to say either, because I don’t really remember people ever changing the tension. The only thing I can really think of is the fact that usually at these meets you get brand new equipment. It’s not necessarily broken in, and every year at Winter Cup people are complaining about how hard the equipment is and how hard the high bar is, and AAI equipment in general is a little bit harder than equipment elsewhere. And so I’m guessing that’s probably what it had to do with. People are probably trying to find a way to make the bar more flexible and bend it more. That’s all I can guess. Again, this is all conjecture. But based on previous meets that I’ve gone to, it seems like that might be the case. And usually the American men are like, “Well, this is the high bar that we have, and we’re not going to really worry too much about it. We just have to break it in and swing on it.” But when only eight guys are competing you don’t really get to break in the equipment that–that much. So.
JESSICA: Let’s talk about our favorite moments from the men’s meet. Evan, I’m going to start with you.
EVAN: So mine is pretty understated, but Yusuke Tanaka’s lines. I mean–he is just aesthetically pleasing to watch him do gymnastics. I know he didn’t have the best meet ever, but just his lines and presentation and form I thought were really the class of the field.
JESSICA: Mez, how about you? Any favorite moments?
MEZ: Probably just Oleg’s high bar. Just–it was at moment of such high pressure and for the first time probably ever he didn’t let it affect him and he just got the job done, and it was one of the best routines, probably, that he’s ever done. So that was really good to see, and he was really relieved. Like when the score came up he was almost like, “Eh, I expected that. But thank God I actually pulled it off.” So it was good.
UNCLE TIM: I approve of that one. [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: What were your favorites?
UNCLE TIM: Just overall, I think Oleg coming back because I thought for sure he was going to have a Mikulak Meltdown where once the wheels come off, they just keep coming off. I was like, “How is he going to peel off of rings, or something?” And he didn’t let his pommel horse mistake really affect him going forward. And so I was really impressed by that. And you know, pommel horse seemed to be going well for him. I was thinking, “Oh my goodness, this is a really great routine. He’s hitting everything.” And then whomp whomp. So that was a little hard for me. I was trying not to cry in my bedroom, but yeah, it was good. What about you, Jess?
JESSICA: Well, I have to say that someone who got zero air time was freaking gorgeous–even though he’s not a beefcake, I still love his gymnastics. Because you know Donnell Whittenburg is my favorite on everything. Oh, and hello! Shout out to Oleg’s Dragulescu! Hello! That was freaking awesome. Clearing, he’s been taking notes from my boyfriend Igor. He did a great Dragulescu. Donnell Whittenburg is like the champion of Dragulsecu’s, but–until Dragulescu actually comes back, which is going to be awesome. But I was very impressed with Oleg busting that out. Nice and high, just dropping out of it. It was beautiful. But anyway. Belarus got no love on tv but so beautiful. Likhovitskiy from Belarus. He does a manna** on floor and then he hops out of it into a handstand backwards. So he’s holding him manna and his arms are all backwards, and then he just dislocates his arms into this handstand. It’s so cool! It’s like a circus trick, and it’s so unusual. And then he holds this beautiful handstand, it’s just–oh, I love that. It’s just one of those cool little things that may not be the hardest thing in the world, but it makes you go “[GASP] What was that?” Also Purvis–you know how I love Purvis and his style on floor. It’s again the British bringing the style. They’re like the Japanese men of Europe. They’re–they just have–they’re–they’re just so stylish on all of their events. From the way he presents and salutes the judges. But I especially love, and I’ve talked about it before, his one and a half roll–straight leg roll out. He just, you know, it just looks like he stood up super easily, like gravity doesn’t exist, and I love that kind of thing. So I had fun with that. All right, Evan. Shall we pay some bills before we talk about the commentators?
EVAN: We should, and you can help too! So if you love this show there are many ways for you to help contribute and keep this show up and running a little bit faster than Simone Biles does into her tumbling passes. So you can do that by using our Amazon link, where you shop for anything–all your Amazon needs–and a little bit of what you pay goes back to the show, so you can do that. Or you can review us on iTunes or Stitcher. Preferably in a positive light or manner, because we always like to hear the good things, but constructive criticism is always appreciated as well. And then you can also just donate directly. So you can do it one time or a monthly, however much you deem appropriate, and that goes right back here to the show, keeping it real. Really, really real real real. [JESSICA LAUGHS] And free.
JESSICA: And free, yes. Let’s talk about commentators. It’s Nastia’s second year now, I think, being a commentator. So she’s had time to get used to it, get the jitters out, get a little more training, has a little more air time. So Evan, as a professional gymnastics commentator for television [EVAN LAUGHS] can you tell us how she’s doing in her second year?
EVAN: All right. So I am really managing my expectations with Nastia, and I’m taking her as she is. [LAUGHS] And she’s just never going to be that kind of dynamic, boisterous, critical commentator that we’ve seen specifically in Europe. I mean, we’re talking about our favorite Christine. But she’s not her, and I’ve come to terms with that. So I think what Nastia says when she does contribute–first of all, I thought she was missing for a while. I was like, “Did Nastia go and get a Perrier or something in the back? Is she coming back in to speak on any topics?” But what she does say is good. It’s not terribly insightful, it’s nothing earth shattering or makes you really think too critically, but it’s good contribution and Nastia Liukin is one of the all-time greats of gymnastics. So that’s why she’s there on NBC contributing. Do you guys agree? I mean, if–can we go around the table and give Nastia a grade as part of her midterms at NYU. What is her grade in commentary 102? Jess, let’s start with you.
JESSICA: Okay. I’m going to give her–when she first started, I would give her a C. And that’s because I just felt like she didn’t contribute enough at all. And she didn’t seem to be totally up-to-date; she wasn’t–I don’t know if she didn’t have time, or if she didn’t really realize how gymnerdy she was going to have to get. And based on that, a C. I’m going to give her a B–a B. Just a plain B for now. Because I think she’s improved a ton since the beginning. Just her style and delivery has improved a lot. She’s saying a lot more, she has more to contribute. And more precisely–she can get it out right when you’re showing the reply. What I wish that I would he–could–what you could do to get an A from me, Nastia, is you can add more critique than you are right now. So, a good example of this is how Kyle Shewfelt does it. Kyle Shewfelt can tell you exactly why the judges are deducting someone without making the gymnasts feel like shit. It’s like a magical Canadian technique. And so you don’t have to feel guilty or like you’re putting anyone down by just stating the facts about a deduction. And so I would study his technique. And Evan does this very well, as well as Sam Peszek. I would check them out, and that’s how you can get an A from me in the future. And also little tidbits. Little stories. We want to hear everything that’s ever happened in your entire life. So any little tidbit about, “Oh yeah, that happened to me once, and blah blah blah.” Anything like that. Like the stuff about the nails and the crystals, that’s so interesting to us. Little details. So through more of that in. Okay, Mez, what do you think?
MEZ: I don’t know. It’s just like, what she said is good, but just wasn’t really enough. But I guess the other two speak nonstop, so [JESSICA LAUGHS] it would be–it would be a little bit [LAUGHS] hard to get a word in, I imagine. Up there. I’d be just nudging them, being like, “Let me speak.” But yeah, so. And then the same thing, just a little bit more personal flavor. Some stories, and this that and the other. Just get people interested instead of text book commentary we always here. So that would be interesting. But I don’t know about grading. [UNCLE TIM LAUGHS] I don’t know enough! [LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: I mean, she’ll never be Monica Phelps, back in the day. Monica Phelps was something else. But–
JESSICA: Let’s–just to put context, can you guys give–because for everybody who doesn’t know Monica Phelps–Correct me if I’m wrong, but Monica Phelps is the one who, looking at one of the thinnest humans on earth [UNCLE TIM LAUGHS] Tatiana Lysenko–
UNCLE TIM: Yes.
JESSICA: –doing beam in ’93, was like–basically said, “Well, she’s not fat. She might look fat on tv, but really she’s just a very shapely–” I mean, have you seen her? She has the body of the 12 year-old! [MEZ LAUGHS] That is basically–she’s just so incredibly inappropriate. [LAUGHS] That’s how I’d describe her. Right? Do I have it, pretty much?
UNCLE TIM: Yep. “She’s not as small and slender like Shannon Miller, but…” [JESSICA LAUGHS] Yeah. That’s basically how she framed it, year.
JESSICA: So rude. Yeah, okay.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] So overall I think she probably did better on her Nastia Liukin coverage than she did on the NBC broadcast. And I don’t know if it was because it’s a webcast, it’s friendly, it’s fun, it’s not as intense. But I feel like she–when she’s on NBC she’s trying to sound really serious and kind of is always whispering. And trying to–and then, you know, when she’s doing the other stuff though it’s a lot more fun and it’s not as crazy. And so, I don’t know. I feel like she just needs to bring a little more of that fun personality into that NBC commentary. Maybe not as much as Johnny Weir or something for the NBC Olympics, the figure skating, but a little more of her personality would be good.
EVAN: Yeah. I think that is all fair assessment. She’s getting better, but also I think it’s all about fans of gymnastics managing their expectations around kind of what she’s going to bring to the table. But I agree. I think that she can loosen up a little bit. But again, we don’t know what NBC is telling her–
EVAN: –she has to do.
MEZ: Yeah, exactly.
EVAN: Which also comes into play, so we have to keep that in mind. The other thing, the other two people who I’m going to be a little bit more critical of are Al Trautwig and Tim Daggett. And it’s just getting to a level now that’s like, “Do you even know what this meet is?” They’re confused by names.
EVAN: It’s like, they’re confused–Al Trautwig is saying Simone Biles is from Springs–plural–Texas. That’s just not true. And maybe you’re getting the wrong information, but it’s also, from my perspective, about taking it seriously and knowing that there are educated fans and people who are looking for insight and looking for a commentary package that is just adding something to the meet, rather than just frustrating or confusing. And it’s just getting to a point where it’s like, “What are you even saying?” Like, that a) is just not true and b) why are you speaking solely for the sake of saying something? So I was just pretty off put by those two in this situation.
JESSICA: I, to–yeah, to dovetail off of this, I had this in my Rageometer section. Which–I’m deciding Rageometer is what I’m going to call it, not Rage-O-Meter, cause I think that sounds better. But, okay I was ready to punch Trautwig in the face, metaphorically. Because he–this is what drives me nuts, this is a world cup competition, and if you follow gymnastics at all, you know the average age of the women at World Cup competitions are women in their 20s. There aren’t a lot of teenagers on that circuit at all. The one who does it is probably the teenager from the United States. Like Ebee last year. Otherwise it’s the same adult women, like Mez, like JLo, like so many women, like Ferrari who are on this circuit. And every time he was like, “Well, you just can’t do things in your 20s like you could when you were a teenager,” I was like “Look in front of you, dumbass!” Like, “Hello! Everyone here is in their 20s except the Americans and Ellie Black!” And hello, he was like, “Oh, and we can’t make the–it’s just unprecedented, you just can’t make the Olympic team in your 20s. You know, you tried to do it Tim Daggett. [IMITATES SMUG MAN LAUGHING]” How rude, by the way. He practically didn’t have a leg. So shut up Trautwig. And then he’s like–I was like, “Hello, we have done it in the United States. Starting way back in the ’80s. How about Julianne MacNamara? How about Kathy Johnson, who won a god-damned medal; how about Alicia Sacramone; how about, oh, Mohini Bhardwaj, Olympic medalist? Annia Hatch, Olympic medalist? Dominique Freaking Dawes, god damn it!” Oh my God, he was pissing me off so much. I was like, “You’re basically using this old–this old way of thinking about gymnastics. This completely untrue–and you’re just lying to the viewers.” Like, you’re creating this storyline which does not freaking exist anymore, and you are just a big, fat liar, and I’m so freaking sick of it. And hello, at the meet–Jessica Lopez is 29. Vanessa Ferrari is 23. Emily Little is 21. Not to mention–talking about Ferrari, he doesn’t say, “She’s getting better and better.” “She was a world champion back in 2006, but she’s getting better and better now.” Trautwig starts by being “Eh, why is she even doing gymnastics anymore? Like, get a life Ferrari! Eh!” And thank God, Nastia, to her credit, is like, “Actually, she’s really worked on things and her gymnastics is even more beautiful than it was before.” But I’m like, “Trautwig, shut the fuck up!” You can’t do it. How dare you talk like she–like, this is a testament to something. She is a hero to a lot of people. How dare you look down at her because she’s able to do something that was formerly the sport of teenagers. Just shut up! Ugh! All right, I’m done with that now. [LAUGHTER]
UNCLE TIM: Just let it all out.
JESSICA: I have a lot feelings! [LAUGHTER] [SIGHS] All right, where were we? Were there any highlights from the broadcast [LAUGHTER] since we’ve gone over the lowlights? Uncle Tim? [LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: I can’t think of any highlights. I mean, I have a little bone to pick with Mr. Tim Daggett because he said that Oleg Verniaiev was not that talented.
JESSICA: [GASPS] I know! Oh my God!
UNCLE TIM: I was like, “How can you say that about a gold medalist at the World Championships?” “No, he’s not that talented!” I know–
JESSICA: He’s just a hard worker? And they weren’t even following him at the beginning of the broadcast. I was like, “Hello! Everybody knows it’s between–between him basically and the two Japanese gymnasts.”
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] So yeah. I was like, “Oh, Tim Daggett. I like you so much after Winter Cup, but that one little comment.” But. I’m trying to think. Highlights from the commentary. There wasn’t really too much that really stuck out for me. What about you, Jessica? I’m sure you had some kind of highlight. You’re more positive than I am.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Well, sometimes. I did love that Tim Daggett, when they did a replay of Simone’s layout full out, that he was like, “So here’s Simone changing the lightbulbs.” [LAUGHS] That was a good one! I mean, we rarely hear a great one where I’m like, “I need to write that down. I should put that on our highlights on Instagram.” So that was good one.
MEZ: That was pretty funny.
JESSICA: Yeah. I liked that. Okay, let’s talk about fashion. Always very important. Did you guys think that Claudia Fragapane’s leo was the same as the US one, just different colors? Am I imagining that, was it the exact same cut in the front? Maybe it’s just me.
UNCLE TIM: I didn’t notice it. I thought it was going with the superhero theme that they had going on. She looked very almost Wonder Womany in some way in my mind. I don’t know. I didn’t really notice the similarities though, and it definitely didn’t look like the dominetrix leos.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I liked her leo. But I think–okay, so one thing–I’m completely forgetting, what was I going to ask you? Oh! I know what I wanted to ask you, Mez. Okay, so Nastia had before her meet in the Nastia Cup, she has all the girls do their nails with her. And she had them put Swarovski crystals, which we know these are very important for gymnastics because they are especially designed to shine brightly in a arena environment under television lights. So they put them on their fingers, and apparently they stayed on, even when they did bars. So I have to ask you, Mez, do you think that this will become a new trend?
MEZ: [LAUGHS] I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, Peggy went through a stage of sticking them to our hair clips, and we had to wear them in our hair. That was pretty full one. I guess one here or there on the nails is not too bad.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] So Peg would–did she order special ones, or did she line you up and glue them onto your head?
MEZ: [LAUGHS] No! She ordered them and stuck them on with a glue gun onto these clips and gave them to us with our kit. It was like, “You have to wear these.” [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Oh my God! I would never think of her sitting in her office with a glue gun, making little–
MEZ: She does everything. She does our flags and our leos and stuff. And for Common games the–because we had to wear obviously a–the code of arms for Australia, and it came in and it was half the size–it filled up half our back. And Peggy’s like, “We can’t have that!” Sent it back, got a smaller one. And then she’s like, “We’ll do it ourselves, so they just gave us the patches and we went down to the mall and did it ourselves with the tails, so it was pretty funny. But she does everything. So I guess this diomandy fashion could come in on fingers.
EVAN: I mean, never underestimate the power of Peggy Liddick and her hair game. Because her game [JESSICA LAUGHS], her hair accessory game is strong. Oh, so strong. And has been for decades.
MEZ: A while.
EVAN: So, Mez, I think you can probably go without the barrette attached to scrunchie [JESSICA LAUGHS] waving a white flag in your hair, but–that’s funny, but she’s still keeping that dream alive of hers [JESSICA LAUGHS] that she started so long ago with Shannon Miller. And Jenny Thompson, back in the Dynamo days.
JESSICA: [LAUGHING] Do you guys think that this whole glitter nail–I’m sorry, cryst–Swarovski crystals on the nail or even toe nail could help the guys out, if they’re particularly stubby armed [MEZ LAUGHS] or stubby legged? Could it elongate their gymnastics?
UNCLE TIM: That’s a no. [LAUGHS]
MEZ: [LAUGHS] Like, what? [JESSICA LAUGHS]
JESSICA: You don’t–so no, that’s not going to be a thing? Okay. [LAUGHTER] Okay. All right. Got it, got it. Okay! Not so loud. Okay, so now last week I asked our listeners to tell us what they thought about Nastia’s leo that she chose for the Nastia Cup, which was–it’s the same leo that Gage wore back in 2003, so it’s the black dominetrix/beer garden kind of action with the crisscross on the neck, and I was very dubious. I saw the short sleeve version and I was like, “Mm, I don’t know about this.” And I was particularly concerned for the bigger busted girls and how this would look on them. The difference with Nastia’s version, we finally saw, is that it doesn’t have the crisscrosses on the arms. The arms are all solid. And then they did–they’re bedazzled all over. And she also did a pretty good job of matching the skin tone to the gymnast, which I definitely appreciated, because that’s definitely one of our big pet peeves on this show, when we have color of the rainbow team and there’s only white-level of mesh for everybody, and it doesn’t look good on all the body types. So I especially appreciated that. But I want to know your thoughts on the Nastia Cup leo. Uncle Tim, we’ll start with you.
UNCLE TIM: I thought it looked a lot better than I thought it was going to look. I was really impressed. Yeah. It was–you know, at first I thought that the black fabric was going to be a little too Cat Womany and tight, and a little too uncomfortable. But I think everyone looked really good in them. What about you, Evan?
EVAN: I thought they looked a lot better. I think–did we see a training version of it? There was a short sleeve–
EVAN: –and I was like, “Oh. What?” Like, “That looks a little kind of relaxed.” It looked a little casual and also a little mature, I think, for this meet. But I thought that they transitioned really well. I thought it showed some dimension behind it. She wasn’t afraid to be like, “They’re going to wear black, and I know that it’s going to look good.” [LAUGHS] So I liked that. And for the juniors, I thought it looked super plastic. Like pleathery. I was like, “Oh, that’s really different.” But to that level, I think that one looked more age appropriate, and I think the juniors were probably psyched to wear hot pink.
JESSICA: I liked the age appropriateness too. Mez, what did you think of these leos? Did you get a chance to look at them?
MEZ: Well, I’ve only seen photos. And I’m trying to look at some right now on Twitter. [LAUGHS] But yeah, I don’t know. It’s interesting, to say the least. [JESSICA LAUGHS] But I think the girls definitely pulled it off, though. If you’re all wearing the same thing, you’re not going to look like an idiot, so. I mean, it looked good.
JESSICA: I was very worried about these. I was just like, “What is she thinking?” Like, “These were a disaster when GAGE wore them.” But I totally had to apologize to Nastia on Twitter, and I told her I would never doubt her again, because I thought they looked great! They looked great! And even the more mature girls, they looked great on them too. And I was honestly totally shocked. I did–I–so I now differ all fashion decisions to Nastia. Because she clearly knows way more than I do about how to make something look good. And I especially appreciate that she doesn’t put the seniors and the juniors in the same leo.
MEZ: Yes, that’s cool.
JESSICA: Because–senior, yeah, that’s right. You do not want to be wearing the metallic hot pink. [MEZ LAUGHS] Yeah.
MEZ: Yeah, it was cool that it wasn’t pink as well. I mean, yeah.
JESSICA: Yeah. I also like that she put all the coaches in black. Because honestly, I don’t want to see the coaches. I don’t want them to stand out. [MEZ LAUGHS SURPRISED] I want them to just be in all black.
MEZ: Hidden away.
JESSICA: Yeah. I don’t want to see them. They should fade into the background. Okay, but the fashion thing that’s most concerning that we have to discuss: Is Nastia and her goddamned polo shirts. Why, NBC, are you doing this to Nastia? Nastia is a treasure, she is a national and international treasure, and as you can see now, a fashion icon. You don’t see Johnny and Tara on the ice skating shoes for NBC wearing polo shirts, because they probably refuse. And that is what Nastia should do too. Every time I see her in a polo shirt, I’m like, “Are you kidding, NBC? You know it’s Nastia sitting right there, right?” And hello, Tim Daggett also–Olympic gold medals. They look good in regular clothes, whereas oh, by the way, no one looks good in a polo shirt except an 18 year-old boy. Polo shirts are no good, and they were not made for women, and I think that we all need to protest very strongly about this polo shirt nonsense. Mez, what do you think?
MEZ: Yeah. Didn’t look great. [LAUGHS]
MEZ: I mean, it’s Nastia. She’d look better in a leotard right now than that shirt. So.
JESSICA: Exactly. Evan, what do you think?
EVAN: [LAUGHS] I think that it’s almost–it’s almost probably like she’s like, “Why are you punishing me?” Like, ‘What have I done?” [LAUGHTER] Because it also is very ill-fitting. It’s huge–
EVAN: –and baggy, and I’m sure Nastia is like, “Can we fix this?” Like, “How good can we make this look?” And the answer is: Not that good. Because it’s a boxy unisex polo shirt that NBC Sports had made ten years ago. So bummer for Nastia. I hope–I hope someday that it doesn’t happen to her again.
JESSICA: We need everyone–everyone needs to tweet at NBC #nopolosforNastia. Or #nopolo #neveragain #polosonNastia. [MEZ LAUGHS] That is what we need to do. We need to protest, because I mean–what does she need to do? Bring her own tailor to the meets? It’s an atrocity. It’s an affront to gymnastics fans everywhere. Okay. So. Let us know your feedback, guys. Let us know exactly what you thought about the American Cup, what you thought about all our opinions on the show, and leave us voice mail by calling 415-800-3191 or you can Skype from anywhere in the world for free. You can call us and leave a voice mail–I think it’s up to four minutes you can chat away and let us know all of your deep, deep thoughts. Our username on Skype is GymcasticPodcast, and leave us a voicemail there. You can also e-mail us at Gymcastic@gmail.com. And it might take a little while, but we will get to your comments, and we read everything, I promise, promise, promise you. So Mez–
JESSICA: –while we have you here before you go, tell us what’s coming up for you? How’s your rehab going, and can we look forward to seeing you in any competitions soon?
MEZ: Yeah, it’s going pretty well. My ankle’s good, feeling strong. Bars is probably coming along the best so far. I’m putting in a few new skills. One that’s a G, so look out for that if I compete anytime soon. So I’m just trying to get routines together, and once I can land a dismount I’ll chuck a dismount on there. And then there’s a few comps in Australia that we’re scheduled to go to–so each state’s having a little competition in lead up to Nationals, which is in May. So we’re just going around and traveling around after some camps and tings all together to just get some sort of competition experience under our belt, even if it is just at the State Classics. So that will be interesting, it’s the first year that we’re doing that in lead up to Nationals. Usually we just compete once and then we just go to Nationals and it’s on a podium and it’s usually a selection. But this year it’s not a selection for anything, so it’s just pretty much go out and try new things and see how we all go. And kind of check who’s in the mix and hopefully have a few girls back from injury. And now Em’s back, so that will be good. And yeah. It will be exciting. But no international competitions anytime soon for me, but just in the gym training every day. And [INAUDIBLE] quickly.
JESSICA: And doing your awesome rehab videos! Which I look forward to every time you post them.
MEZ: Yeah, I haven’t done one for a while. But yeah, I can run and jump and tumble and everything now, so it’s going pretty well. [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: You guys need ideas for conditioning at home, or for adult gymnasts especially who want new ideas for fun drills to do–for anyone, really, they’re great videos that Mez puts up. [MEZ LAUGHS] And I totally look forward to them. And after you’ve been doing two decades, sometimes you like new ideas. So I really loved her videos, so you guys should check them out on YouTube.
MEZ: Thank you.
JESSICA: Okay, so. Until next week, Gymcastic is produced by me. Our content and social media director is Dr. Uncle Tim. Our audio engineer is Ivan Alexander. Thank you to everyone who wrote in for–to be our YouTube ninja and audio engineer. I will get back to you this week. Thank you guys so, so, so much, I’m so excited to have all of this help. You guys are the best! Our theme song was mixed by Chris Seculo, as performed by MWA. Our transcription services are provided by Katy, Katie, Alex, Amanda, Hayley, Cecy, Danica, and Emma. Until next time, I am Jessica from masters-gymnastics.com for all of your adult gymnastics needs. You can find Evan on Twitter @yoEv. And Mez, what is your Twitter handle, Mez?
JESSICA: @Monckton07, check her out on there. [MEZ LAUGHS] She’s a super gymnerd, just like us.
JESSICA: And check out her videos! All right, thanks for listening you guys. See you next week!