Episode 16 Transcript

ELIZABETH: Uh let’s see we’ve had times where there would be a camel chasing us.

[[INTRO MUSIC “Express Yourself”]]

JESSICA: This week, Blythe interviews back-to-back World Cup champion Elizabeth Price. And in a move that may make gym fans nerd all over themselves, Spanny Tampson talks with Olympic and World medalist Samantha Peszek about the opening weekend of NCAA gymnastics.

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JESSICA: This is Episode 16 for January 16, 2013. I’m Jessica.

SPANNY: I’m Spanny Tampson

SAMANTHA: And I’m Samantha.

JESSICA: Yes we have special guest Sam Peszek with us today. Special co-host. We’re really excited to have her. And as you know, this is the best and only gymnastics talk show in the world, starting with the top news stories from around the world. So let’s start with the American Cup announcement. So we got the lineup now. So we know that let’s see it’s gonna be Kyla Ross. Ebee is competing. And we have Ferrari from Italy. We have Danell and Dalton from the US. What do you guys think about the lineup? What are your thoughts?

SPANNY: I think it’s interesting that after last year people were like, “Oh Romania’s not going to send anybody because they get screwed every year.” Whatever. And they’re sending the exact same competitor.

JESSICA: Oh yeah. Iordache is coming from Romania.

SAMANTHA: Yeah I think it’s so interesting that you know Kyla’s going again right off the Olympics. I think that’s going to be so exciting. And with Ebee going too. I know she’s doing incredible. I talked to her coaches this summer. Her attitude and everything coming off of last year being an alternate, it’s just going to be a really awesome meet and I cannot wait to watch.

JESSICA: So what is your opinion, Sam on what people think in the gymnastics community? There’s many World Cups and this World Cup is often considered to always favor Americans. Do you think there’s any truth to that?

SAMANTHA: I think that, not that it favors Americans, but I don’t think other countries send their best girls because they have those premonitions. So coming to the States, we have different equipment, the time change is different, the food might be different than what they’re used to. It’s no different than us traveling to a different country. So I think we kind of get the home court advantage just in the fact that it’s in our own country so its our own food, our own hotels. So I think that might be where people say we have a little step up.

JESSICA: It’s interesting that you say premonition. I love that.

SPANNY: Just a guess.

JESSICA: But it’s true! You’re totally right. The time of year….this time of year isn’t when you’re in the best shape. And that’s why I think we don’t always get the super top competitors. Because this is when you’re usually winding down and then start ramping up for the summer. I think that’s always the problem with the American Cup more than that it always favors the Americans. I think it’s really the time of year.

SAMANTHA: Right. And I also think other countries, you know, they aren’t as deep. They don’t have as many great competitors whereas in our country, we just have so many girls itching to compete. And they don’t want to send their top girls to 27 meets throughout the year. When it comes to World Championships, you want to see them in their prime. So I think you’re exactly right. This is like a working time for those crucial girls in other countries.

JESSICA: So Beth Tweddle is now on this show called Dancing on Ice. It’s like Dancing with the Stars or Strictly Come Dancing, the original. That’s for you. One of our listeners always tells us that’s the original. Yes. All shows start in the UK. Thank you for telling us that every time. The original show is from the UK. But she’s on Dancing with Ice. I think she did a really good job for going from gymnastics to ice skating. I looked for the acrobatic element part of it. It was cool. But the judges were really hard on her about her robot kind of gymnastics face. And she’s not known for her dance. She does not have any expression on her face. Did you guys get a chance to watch? Spanny did you see it? What did you think?

SPANNY: It’s hard for me because I grew up watching my best friends figure skate. I’m from Minnesota too. So everybody’s just kind of born knowing how to skate. So I’m instantly judgy of those who can’t. But she did well. . The gymnastics foundation, it helped her form and if not, presentation. She kind of threw out like a scale. I thought that was interesting. The judges were right in that it’s just dull. With someone who’s never skated before, I can’t imagine how much you can actually throw at them in one week and expect it to be interesting but I’m expecting more. We’ll say that.

JESSICA: Sam, did you get a chance to watch?

SAMANTHA: No I haven’t watched it but I talked to Danusia Francis who’s a freshman on our team and she was teammates with Beth Tweddle and she was telling me about it. Just from what she was saying, I’m so impressed that she got on the ice and did a routine and had some skills and stuff like that. Dance aside, just getting on the ice and performing a routine would have to be really challenging, coming from a gymnastics background and not really having that foundation of learning how to skate beautifully on the ice.

JESSICA: And Sam, they’re filming a show right now at UCLA, something that’s kind of a diving reality show. Can you tell us about that?

SAMANTHA: Yeah I think it’s called Stars in Danger.They were actually filming, before the show even started, they were filming kind of fluffs and before the show because all of the celebrities needed a little bit of a diving background. They were on our campus. I think it was J. WOWW, Terrell Owens, and Kyle from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. You know, it was an entertaining crowd. I know the swimmers and the divers that are always up there got a chance to hang out with them a little bit and talk to them and they said it was awesome. I actually had a chance to see the show and it was a blast to watch. I can’t imagine. I can’t even do the dives that some of them were doing so I was really impressed when I was watching, that’s for sure.

JESSICA: So Sam, if you could do one reality show, which reality show would you choose? Any reality show. It could be Wipeout. It could be Amazing Race. It could be any of the UK original shows like Strictly Come Dancing. What would you do?

SAMANTHA: Well if I could sing, I would do a singing show, obviously. Because I’ve always wanted to be a popstar, obviously. But since I don’t, I would love to do something like Diving with the Stars or Stars in Danger, something where I learn a different sport. I love gymnastics but I just think it would be awesome to try something new. And having so many friends that are so high up in other sports, I just think that would be really fun.

JESSICA: Spanny, did you watch the Danger show?

SPANNY: I did. It cracked me up. It was really cool.I liked it. The first thing I saw was Twitch and I love Twitch from So You Think You Can Dance. I was like yay! And it’s cool. And he’s got sort of an athletic background and it helped him. And I’m impressed. I can dive for fun but I would not have the balls to jump and do the one and a half or anything. And then I saw the one woman who did just a nice little jump. Just straight feet down. And I was in tears. And they were like, “good job. You really overcame your fear.” She just jumped off with her arms over her head. (laughs) I’m still thinking about it. There’s a variety at least in some of the dives. I do give them credit. The fluff pieces were interesting because it was just repeats of everybody splatting the water, face planting the water.

JESSICA: Belly flops over and over.

SPANNY: Pretty much. It was interesting. But I agree with Sam. It was cool to see people try entirely different sports and see which talents kind of helped them elsewhere.
SAMANTHA: Yeah it was definitely interesting to see. You could tell the athletes from the non athletes. The Beverly Housewives focusing on their emotional connection to each other and just going for it and the athletes and the Baywatch crew, they were like in it to win it. You could definitely tell when they stepped up. They had it in their eyes. Some of the other competitors just really wanted to get it over with.

JESSICA: Like the lady that did the straight jump. I hope they have a montage of everyone’s bruises on the next show. A double front is something I’ve always wanted to do but I’m terrified to ever try it in gymnastics even into the pit. And so I always do it and I always land right on my butt when I do a double front from the diving board. And so every summer, I always have a bruise from my low back all the way to my knees and so I’m anticipating a montage just of that next time.

[MUSIC PLAYS]

JESSICA: And now it’s time for our interview of the week. Hope you enjoy it!

BLYTHE: Elizabeth Price, the US national team member, who has had quite a year. During the past 12 months, she’s competed at the Olympic Trials, traveled to the United Kingdom as the replacement athlete for the Olympic Games and absolutely dominated the Stuttgart and Glasgow World Cups where she won the all-around both times. She’s set herself up for an exciting 2013. And just the other day, Ebee was one of two American women, along with Kyla Ross, named to the 2013 American Cup. Ebee, thank you for coming on the show. Big news for you this week. Congratulations! USAG announced the American Cup roster and you’re on it. I know that was a goal for you. I was just wondering when you found out you would be competing there.

ELIZABETH: I found out the day before they announced it. Steve Penny called my gym and told my coaches and my coaches called me.

BLYTHE: That’s pretty awesome! Not every day that Steve Penny calls the gym and says hey you’re going to do this, I suppose.

ELIZABETH: Yeah it’s pretty exciting.

BLYTHE: Now that you’ve been through an Olympic Trials and that whole process, does it make you less nervous about doing an event like the American Cup?

ELIZABETH: It makes me a little less nervous. It’s still a competition. I’m going to be nervous. But the other competitions definitely gave me more confidence going into these big international meets.

BLYTHE: And often, as a gymnast goes through their career, they find that some things get a little bit easier and some things get a little bit harder. And maybe what was hard for you when you were 11 or 12 is not hard for you at 16. And maybe some of the things that were easy at that age get a little bit harder as you get older. And so I was just wondering as you you’ve gotten more mature in gymnastics and become a senior competitor, is there anything that has gotten easier for you and conversely, anything that has gotten harder?

ELIZABETH: Umm let me think. I can’t think of anything that has really gotten harder. I mean, I’ve been working a lot of newer skills and you kind of work away from the older skills that I learned when I was little. But a lot of skills have gotten easier definitely. My vaults have gotten more consistent. Things have gotten more consistent on beam. Basically, everything’s gotten better I think.

BLYTHE: That Amanar of yours is so huge.When did you start working it and when did it really become a consistent vault for you?

ELIZABETH: I started working it a little over a year ago and then I competed it for the first time in Italy last year and I have to say it got pretty consistent over the summer.

BLYTHE: Cool. Are there any skills of yours that scare you to do?

ELIZABETH: Skills that really scare me? I can’t say that skills really scare me. A lot of skills are harder than others. None of them make me terrified or anything.

BLYTHE: Have there ever been any skills that you see someone else do and you look at that and you go, “wow! I don’t think I’d wanna try that!”

ELIZABETH: There’s a lot of skills on beam that I would not really want to do.

BLYTHE: Like what?

ELIZABETH: Let me think. Some people do a lot of connections or…..I’m not really sure. Just beam in general, there’s a lot of things that I would not really want to try.

BLYTHE: Well one thing I was so impressed about your beam routine in both Glasgow and Stuttgart was the level of confidence that you displayed out there. So many people, even those people who do standing fulls, just don’t get out there and rip one off and make it look so easy like that. How did you develop consistency on beam and how do you keep the nerves down when you’re in competition?

ELIZABETH: Well I developed consistency by really training all my skills , repeating them over and over again. And the more I did them, the better they got and got more consistent. When I go out to compete, I just have to try to think that I’m at practice doing my routines just like I normally do and that normally helps calm me down.
BLYTHE: Excellent! And can you tell us about some of the gymnasts that you grew up admiring and who you look up to in the sport now?

ELIZABETH: When I was growing up, my favorite gymnast was Courtney Kupets and at the time, I also looked up to all the girls who went to the Olympics and the World Champions. I thought they were amazing. And now I’ve gotten to meet a lot of them being an elite and everything and now I try to pretend I’m them and little girls can look up to me the same way.

BLYTHE: What was it that you liked about Courtney Kupets?

ELIZABETH: I think I just liked her gymnastics and attitude and she seemed really nice and everything.

BLYTHE: And can you take us through kind of a typical day in the life of Elizabeth Price?

ELIZABETH: Sure let’s see. I wake up at about 7:00 and get ready for gym and eat breakfast. By 7:30, my dad takes me to the gym and he goes to work. And I start practice at 8:30 and we practice til 12:30 and then have an hour break and then we go back to working out until about 4, I would say. And then by then, we start conditioning and stretching and all that. And then I come home. I relax a little bit, get on the computer, read some stuff before getting to my school work. And then I drive my brothers home from school and practice. And we’re doing homework, have dinner, do more homework, and then get ready for bed. I watch TV before I go to bed. And start the whole thing the next day.

BLYTHE: Cool. So do you do any time in regular school at all or do you take correspondence courses? How does that work?

ELIZABETH: I stopped going to school in seventh grade. I’m homeschooled now. I do everything in books with a program here in Pennsylvania.

BLYTHE: I see. I have to ask. Do you ever miss being in a regular classroom?

ELIZABETH: Yeah I do because I loved school. I didn’t really want to leave. But now, I still get to see a lot of my friends. And I go to all of the football games and all of the dances. So I’m not completely out of it.

BLYTHE: I’m glad to hear that. What subjects do you like?

ELIZABETH: My favorite subjects are math and science.

BLYTHE: Nice! And would that maybe grow into some sort of career opportunity once you do go to college? Have you thought about that at all yet?

ELIZABETH: Yeah. Right now I’m really interested in engineering. Both my parents are engineers and I kind of like that too!

BLYTHE: Oh I see. Very interesting! And so when it comes to selecting a school, what are you looking for in the university experience?

ELIZABETH: Well I’m looking for a school that’s both good academically and has good team and the overall atmosphere is friendly and comforting and makes me feel at home.

BLYTHE: Alright. And what are some of the goals that you have outside of gymnastics? I realize that the sport’s got to be all-encompassing for you right now, but I think it’s important to emphasize, you know, to some people who might think that gymnasts just don’t have anything to do outside of the gym, that there are other opportunities and other things that elite gymnasts are into, even if they have to dedicate a lot of time to practice. So, can you tell me a little bit about what you like to do when you’re not at practice?

ELIZABETH: When I’m not at practice, I really like to spend time with my brothers. We get along well now, now that we’re older. [laughs] So I like to hang out with them, go to their sporting events. I like to go to the mall or the movies with my family and my friends, and really hang out. And that’s really what I like to do in my free time.

BLYTHE: How many brothers do you have?

ELIZABETH: I have two younger brothers. They’re 13 and 14, Ethan and Eli.

BLYTHE: I see. And are either of them involved in gymnastics?

ELIZABETH: They did gymnastics when they were younger, but now that they’re older they do football and lacrosse.

BLYTHE: Ah, cool. You’re the one with the gymnastics talent in the family?

ELIZABETH: Yeah.

BLYTHE: So, tell us actually about your early days in gymnastics. How did you come to start practicing the sport?

ELIZABETH: Well, when I was younger, my parents told me that I had a lot of energy, and by the time the day was over and it was time for me to go to bed, I just didn’t want to. I had so much energy, I was tiring them out. So, my Mom was driving past Parkette’s every day, and decided gymnastics would be a good way to tire me out. So they put me in the sport.

BLYTHE: Mmhmm. And do you remember this, having all of that energy and not wanting to go to bed and such?

ELIZABETH: Nope, not at all.

BLYTHE: How old were you, when you first went to Parkette’s?

ELIZABETH: I was three. I was three when I started.

BLYTHE: I see. And was it like an instant thing, right away, love for the sport? And did your coaches immediately recognize that you were talented?

ELIZABETH: Yeah, I had a lot of fun when I was little. I never wanted to leave. And the coaches did realize that I had a lot of potential to be a great gymnast.

BLYTHE: And at what point did somebody sit down with you or your parents and kind of say, you know, you’re really, really good, you could get to a high level. At what age were you when somebody actually started talking about the Olympics and the National Team and stuff like that?

ELIZABETH: Well, when I was nine, the gym—my coaches started putting me with older groups of girls, who were better than me at the time, and they had me train with them instead of the lower lever girls that I was training with. And that got me better. And over time, they would change me completely into the higher groups, and I would start moving faster than some of the other girls.

BLYTHE: I see. And who coaches you now, on which events?

ELIZABETH: On bars, my coaches are John Holman, Joe Stallone, and Donna Strauss—well, she coaches me on everything, really. And on beam, I also have Robin Netwall, she coaches me. On vault, I have Bill Strauss coaching me, and on floor, Robin coaches me, too.

BLYTHE: I see. Ok. And, you know, I heard that Parkette’s elites used to do a lot of work on the trampoline. Is that still true?

ELIZABETH: Yeah, we try to get some tramp done every day. And it really helps with knowing where we are, when we’re twisting and flipping. It helps coach—it helps us learn new skills, too. So we try to do that every day.

BLYTHE: I see. And, could you take us through a typical daily workout at the ranch, when you’re with the National Team in Texas?

ELIZABETH: Ok. We normally start practice—well, we normally get breakfast, I’d say around seven o’clock. And practice starts at eight thirty, and we like to get to the gym early, around eight o’clock-ish. And we have two workouts. Our first workout is to about twelve, twelve thirty-ish. And then we break for a couple of hours, and go back to the gym at four, I think we start the second workout at around four. And we practice again, every event, until seven, and then we have dinner, and after that we all hang out together, maybe do homework, until the next day.

BLYTHE: Sounds like kind of an early morning, actually.

ELIZABETH: Yeah.

BLYTHE: What’s it like, working with Marta Karolyi? How is she like, in the gym?

ELIZABETH: She always watches everyone. She pays attention to not just the girls who are at the top; it’s actually great for the younger girls. And she also, she coaches us, she’s kind of in charge of everything that we do. When we go to maybe present a routine, she really writes down the criteria of what she wants us to see. She sometimes tells us maybe new skills we could be working, and tries to basically help us become better gymnasts, and also work together better as a team.

BLYTHE: I see. Has she suggested any skills for you personally?

ELIZABETH: She hasn’t suggested prepping specific skills, but if I start working a new skill, she’ll let me know that it could be a very good possibility to get into my routines, or if she sees a skill that maybe isn’t for me, she’ll let my coaches know.

BLYTHE: I see. You know, and we’ve heard tales, a little bit, of scary wildlife encounters when you’re at the ranch, and I was just wondering if you had any of those.

ELIZABETH: Um, let’s see. We’ve had times where there would be a camel chasing us, or we’ll go to walk down to the lake and we can’t because there are horses in the way and they won’t move no matter what. But those are some things that have happened to me.

BLYTHE: Ok, no snakes?

ELIZABETH: I haven’t encountered a snake, but my coaches have, and there have been lizards in our room before.

BLYTHE: Oh, lizards. In your room.

ELIZABETH: Yeah.

BLYTHE: Yeah. Well. Better than snakes, I guess.

ELIZABETH: Yes, definitely.

BLYTHE: I spent a week at the Karolyi camp when I was ten, and I was scared witless the entire time that I was going to, you know, open the door and there would be a snake. Yeah. The perils of being on the National Team, I guess, for you guys. So how would you describe the atmosphere there, when you’re at the ranch? Competitive, intense, fun? All the above?

ELIZABETH: I think not very competitive. I mean, we’re all there really just training, like a regular practice at the gym. I’d say that we’re all, when we’re down there we are all like sisters, so it is definitely not competitive. We have a lot of fun together, even though we’re in separate groups a lot. But sometimes it’s a little stressful. We’re working hard every day, it can be really hard. We get sore a lot. But we always have fun afterwards. It’s a lot of fun being down there with all the girls.

BLYTHE: When you’re down there and you have to be sort of on when you’re in the gym, all those hours of the day, when you get back, do you feel like—do you take a day off, or do you unwind a bit in your practice, once you get back home in your gym?

ELIZABETH: Depending on when we come home, we might take the day off. Or if we don’t take the day off, the next day will be a little bit easier. Then we get back into training normally and trying to incorporate everything we did at camp back at home.

BLYTHE: I see. And every National Team member I ask, you know, tell us a little bit about the personalities of the other members of the National Team when they’re not in the gym, because we don’t get…we see you guys in competition and you’re all very stoic and serious, but I would like to know who’s the class clown, who’s the studious one, who’s boy crazy, if you don’t mind?

ELIZABETH: Um, let’s see. I would say that, well, there are a lot of funny girls down there. But I’d say like when they’re together, the funniest girls are Simone, Lexie, and Katelyn Ohashi.

BLYTHE: Ok.

ELIZABETH: They’re like the craziest ones, it’s so fun to be around them.

[LAUGHS]

BLYTHE: And, I don’t know, who is the one who hates getting up early in the morning?

ELIZABETH: I’d say the one who hates getting up in the morning is Kennedy Baker. I mean, she’s hilarious and everything, but she does not like early morning things. Yeah.

BLYTHE: So, what has it been like for you this year? You’ve become something like a media personality, what with the Olympic Trials and everything. How do you feel about the media attention that you’ve gotten? Shy? Pleased? Nice to be recognized?

ELIZABETH: It’s definitely nice to be recognized and doing a bunch of interviews and things. And it’s not too much. I’m not out of the gym all of the time, always on the phone, so I think it’s just perfect for right now.

BLYTHE: Cool. Now, Parkette’s has a long history of producing National Team members, and I was wondering if you had any former elites as mentors?

ELIZABETH: Let’s see. I’ve had a lot of girls who have gone away to college and come back, either they were elites or they know what it’s like going to camp and going to championships all the time. So I talk to them a lot. And…nothing really stands out. I mean, it’s a lot of fun being around all the other girls, and they don’t treat being an elite gymnast like anything totally special. They really enjoy gymnastics, and I try to follow in their footsteps.

BLYTHE: What kinds of goals do you set for yourself in competition? Are you aiming for a score? Are you aiming to hit a skill? And what would be the definition of a successful meet for you?

ELIZABETH: A successful meet for me would be just to go out into the competition and do my best, and hit all my routines, and to try to hit, to do everything just like I do in practice. Because I can’t really control the scores, that all in the judge’s hands, so I just try to do my best.

BLYTHE: I see. Now, is it sometimes difficult when you are travelling internationally to adjust to different mat colors and equipment in other countries? Did you find any of that in Scotland or Germany when you were there for the World Cups?

ELIZABETH: The equipment was definitely different, different brands, you know, make different bars and beams. So I had to adjust to that a little bit. But after I got used to it, it was fine and it was just like being on home equipment.

BLYTHE: I understand from Anna, actually, that in Birmingham when you guys were training, the equipment there was a little bit old and a little bit different from what you were used to. Was that the case for you?

ELIZABETH: Yeah, it was definitely different. It wasn’t exactly like top-notch equipment, so we had to do the best we could with what we had. But we did pretty good after we had a couple days to get used to it.

BLYTHE: What was it like, training in Birmingham, and sort of, you know, being an Olympic replacement athlete and knowing that, at any time, you might get the call? And yet at the same time, there was this team that had been named, and if everything went well for them, you wouldn’t get the call. It’s kind of in limbo. What was that time like for you?

ELIZABETH: It was a little tense, not knowing what would happen. I mean, I kind of wished we could have known the future so we wouldn’t have been so stressed out while we were training. But we were training just like we were competing like we were at the Olympics, like we were already named as one of the five to compete. Practices weren’t easier, for sure, we were doing the exact same thing the Fierce Five were doing when they were in London.

BLYTHE: Yeah. And what was the highlight of the Olympic experience for you? Did you guys get to see anything of London?

ELIZABETH: We got to watch both of the team competitions.

BLYTHE: The men and the women?

ELIZABETH: Just the two women’s competitions.

BLYTHE: What was it like to be sitting in the stands that night and to see the American team take the gold medal, and in such a dominating fashion, too?

ELIZABETH: Yeah, it was a lot of fun, I’d say, to be able to go out and actually see the whole competition. It was so much different being in the stands, and like…it was a whole different experience, not being out there competing. It was like I could feel how the girls felt during every event, and I was able to almost pretend I was down there. But it was cool to see how they completely dominated every event, and how they hit everything, and definitely deserved their win.

BLYTHE: Can you explain a little bit more how you think they felt during the competition as you went through the four events, starting on vault?

ELIZABETH: Well, vault is a very strong event for the US, so I’m sure they weren’t very nervous about that one, and it showed. They did great on vault. And then, as they went through each event, I’m sure they got more confident and more excited to see what would happen at the end of the competition, and by the end I think they knew that they pretty much had it if they just hit the last event, and they did and they did very well.

BLYTHE: Were there any other countries or competitors that stood out to you, as you just looked around the arena?

ELIZABETH: I mean, all the other teams, they had girls who were good at different events, you know, specialists and all that. But I think that our team was the best as far as all around goes, and I think that was a really important factor when it came down to seeing who would win.

BLYTHE: Oh, definitely. And did you find it motivating, to have been in London and have the experience of being there in the arena? Or was it just hard to watch and not be on the floor yourself?

ELIZABETH: Well, I have to say I really actually did enjoy being on the stands, and I was happy for the girls that were down there competing. I mean, I wish I could have been competing with them, but I think they did great and I’m happy that it went the way it did.

BLYTHE: I see. And Ebee, I have just one last question, and I’ve sort of saved this one for the last, and you are under no obligation to answer it, but since Gabby put it out there, about experiencing racism in the gym growing up, is it alright to ask if you’ve ever experienced that either?

ELIZABETH: Yeah, you can, that’s a fine question. I haven’t experienced anything at my gym. I mean, there are a lot of different races of girls at my gym, and no-one that I know of has ever experienced anything bad. Everyone gets along perfectly fine at Parkette’s.

BLYTHE: Absolutely awesome. Ebee, is there anything else you wanted to add? You have been terrific.

ELIZABETH: Thanks, but nope, that’s everything.

BLYTHE: Alright. So are you going to the gym today, or do you have Saturdays off?

ELIZABETH: Saturdays are off.

BLYTHE: Fantastic. Well, again, thank you so much for doing the interview, and we will see you at the American cup.

[TECHNO MUSIC]

JESSICA: The most exciting thing that has happened since we were last on the show last week is that the NCAA season finally began! I’m so excited. Oh, I live for this time of year. So. Spanny has prepared a little recap for us, and of course Sam was at the UCLA meet and doing a little, you were doing some commentary on air, yeah, Sam?

SAMANTHA: Yeah, yeah. It was really exciting. It was a new role, I obviously wish I was competing, but it was really exciting to do that for once.

JESSICA: And how does, how is your Achilles…well, actually, while we have you here, can you tell us about what exactly happened when you were injured, and about what you said after you landed on the mat? Because that was quite a moment.

SAMANTHA: [Giggles] Yes. Well, I was—we were having an intersquad, and I was one of the last girls to go, it was my last floor routine of the day, my last pass of the day, right as I went to punch my double pike, I just felt it. Like, right as I punched, I knew what had happened, and I was flatted. I looked at my Achilles, and there was a definite, you know, it was definitely—it was clear. I tore my Achilles. So a few of the girls on the team have already done it, and I know a few had that fear, and I didn’t want to freak them out because it didn’t hurt at all, it really didn’t. But I just kind of looked up, and I really calmly said, “Don’t freak out, but I just tore my Achilles.” And at first, everyone was like, What? Like, no way. And the trainers came over and were like, ok, try and move your foot, and I was like, I can’t, obviously. And they were like, ok, yeah, you definitely tore your Achilles, and so they just carried me off to the side, and, you know, just to have my team there supporting me, and I know that a bunch of them have already gone through it, it was—knowing that I had them and I had people to follow the recovery after—you know, I knew it was going to be ok. It’s a long road to recovery, but it’s going to be fine.

JESSICA: It is really nice that you have had like teammates who have had this injury and have come back 1000%. Like they’re fine. You would never ever know.

SAMANTHA: Right. Yeah. And they were texting me like when I was home right after surgery, making sure I was ok. You know, Alicia Sacramone reached out to me and was kind of telling me about hers. So the more people that were kind of you know contacting me and letting me know its going to be ok and it’s just a long road. You know it really made me feel at ease. And I’m ok right now. And I’m off crutches so that’s great. And I think I’ve got to get through a few more months, out of this boot, and I think we’re home free.

JESSICA: Awesome, I’m glad to hear that. Alright so, let’s talk about NCAA last week. What were the highlights for you? Spanny, tell us.

SPANNY: Well again reiterating that this was from the previous weekend, this was from January 4 to January 6. Highlights. Let’s start. I just kind of made like a checklist of routines of the week. Things that stood out to me. I would say the surprise of the week, something I wasn’t expecting, was the LSU floor rotation. Just insanity. 49.525 in their very first meet. With a couple of different routines that now, maybe they’ve gone viral. With Lloimincia Hall obviously and Rheagan Courville. And just huge scores. And yes it’s SEC, blah blah blah, but I mean you can watch the routines yourselves. They hold up. And for the first meet, first week, it was incredible.

JESSICA: It’s interesting too that this is the first year that Jay… Jay is the assistant coach there now right? From Georgia. Who was the assistant. So I wonder if this… I mean LSU I feel like has always had good potential but they’ve only had a couple gymnasts. They’ve never had depth. So I wonder if Jay is making a big impact there.

SPANNY: Yeah I mean, there’s got to be some sort of… I don’t know what the term I want to use is. But it’s got to feel good for him to kind of show what he’s capable of

JESSICA: And yeah it’s got to be great redemption after getting fired. Or, you know, well not fired, but you know probably… I take that back. But probably asked to resign. Let’s say it that way.

SPANNY: Yes. Encouraged. Honorable mention again to Rheagan Courville for the all around of a 39.5 in her first meet. I think the high scores are impressive right away but that always worries me. Because where do you go from there. Hard to build. Let’s see what else do I have. Let’s start with routine of the week. I’m just now starting. Bridget Sloan on vault. Very first routine of her collegiate career, 9.925. Thought that was pretty special. I didn’t watch routines from last night yet, so

JESSICA: Sam what did you think? You watched that vault right?

SAMANTHA: Yeah, Bridget?

JESSICA: Yeah.

SAMANTHA: Yeah, it was awesome. I mean what can you expect from an elite gymnast that already had clean form and already is used to sticking her landings. I noticed that before college. We both trained together. Even on floor she kind of had that special talent where she would always kind of you know stick her landings. She didn’t even do the step back to a lunge. So I mean the steps on vault are just a no brainer for her. She had good amplitude, tight form, I think she’s going to be clutch for their team on vault this year.

JESSICA: And she was actually your training partner in between when your coach went back to China and before you came to UCLA, right?

SAMANTHA: Yeah yeah. It was just Bridget and I and Marvin. So it was a lot of fun to be honest. We’re very opposite but we’re perfect training partners. So it was interesting to kind of have our friendship and our dynamic because we’re both so different.

JESSICA: And it’s interesting that watching, you know when I watch elites transition to college, elite is just so freaking insanely hard, that when I see elites transition to college, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, she has really nice form, look how pretty she can do that!” You know and I thought that when I watch Bridget I watched her routines and I was like oh! I mean she was nice and you know she had great form actually for elite and the difficulty she was doing, but now it’s like NCAA just brings it out even more and you can really enjoy her form and extension.

SAMANTHA: Yeah it was definitely emphasized, I think like in all of her routines. And her bar work too since it’s a shorter routine, her bigger skills it’s just like a “wow moment” when you watch it. You know I was able to skype with her when I was home, and she had just gotten back and she loves it. She loves college. And it was before the meet and she was just itching to compete again and so excited to compete with a team. Because I mean I trained with her, but she’s never really trained with a team before. So I think that’s going to be like a really new and exciting experience for her all year.

SPANNY: And you could tell that she just loves it too, and somebody home watching. Like in the background of every other teammate’s routine, she’s the one cheering and screaming. It’s entertaining to watch, but you can just tell she loves it. And, you know, she’ll be captain material soon.

SAMANTHA: Yeah. And her consistency too.

SPANNY: Mhmm. Alright I’m just going to go down my list. These aren’t, some of these aren’t as positive as they are negative, I just don’t have them in an order. Ok, so let’s start. Over-score of the week. And Sam, just don’t listen. Sophina DeJesus on uneven bars. I’m going to quote Uncle Tim. This isn’t even my quote. “WHAT? Legs separation on release, missed handstand, crazy legs on dismount, plus a step. 9.9???” But that said, I mean Sophina had an amazing first routine, or first meet I should say. And then she was, what is she, PAC 12 freshman last week? But that said the score was a little sketchy. Not quite sure where the score came from. Honorable mention to Cat Hires on vault from Georgia. 9.925. And also Pritchett on floor exercise with a 9.9. And I think that’s only because given the other people in that floor rotation, that there wasn’t a way to separate.

JESSICA: So wait those were over-scores as well? Or those were honorable mentions for great routines?

SPANNY: Oh no those were over-scores, I’m sorry.

JESSICA: Over-scores, yes. Ok.

SPANNY: I’m starting from the top of my list. Yeah.

JESSICA: Ok, gotcha

SPANNY: Those will be our over-scores of this past week. Anchor of the week: Vanessa Zamarripa on balance beam. 9.875. After a not-so pretty solid UCLA beam rotation, she of course came in and nailed it, and it was wonderful. And…

JESSICA: That routine I felt like is what we were waiting for for Zam to just be like, “You will obey me! This balance beam is mine! You will not…”

[laughter]

JESSICA: Yeah I just loved it. She was just like so fierce! She was like uh!

SPANNY: I feel like her body must move in a different time and space than anybody elses. Like time just must go slower for her. Because everything she does is just calmer. I feel like I’m watching it in slow motion but in a good way. She’s just the Xanax of gymnastics.

[laughter]

SPANNY: I don’t know what it is. Everything’s calm, it’s chill, everything’s ok, and she hits it. And it’s incredible.

JESSICA: Yeah that beam routine… What did you think when you watched that beam routine Sam?

SAMANTHA: Well I was trying not to freak out because I had the headset on. And my initial instinct is to just like, especially when the girls are on beam I feel like it’s my place more than any of the other events to kind of go up to the girls and talk to them after. And if there was the one fall I would definitely make it a point to go talk to the next girl up. I’m not sure who that was. But you know and sitting in the chair with the headset on I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t cheer like I normally do. I was internally freaking out. But when she went up, I know that she’s really good about not having the other competitors influence her meet. you know whether people fall, whether people make it, it doesn’t really help or hinder routine that’s she’s about to do. So right as she stepped up I could tell in the look in her eyes you know, it’s just her and the beam and she’s going to do what she’s practiced. And she’s definitely ready. I mean this is her fifth year. I don’t want to say she has gymnastics mastered, but her routines right now are pretty easy her for, and you can tell she’s just having fun with you know playing around with her easy gymnastics because it’s so comfortable for her.

SPANNY: Just makes it look like fun. I don’t know, everything is easy. And she’s not going to die doing it.

JESSICA: [laughs]

SPANNY: It’s like a different experience watching her. Lead-off of the week will go to Danusia Francis on beam for UCLA. She, and I put this in quotes, “only a 9.8.” But it’s such a stylish and a solid routine to start the rotation. I’ve been a fan of hers for a while. But again like you said, you never know how the transition from elite to NCAA is going to go. And it was just, she was calm, it’s just a different routine than what you normally see in NCAA. And I enjoyed it, I thought it was incredible. Did she… we’re going to talk about that later, nevermind. Let’s do leotard of the week, and that goes to Florida. The stripe, it was like a solid blue with minimal sparkles, but it had the stripes around the waist. Which I would think would not be flattering on a lot of people but it really was. It reminded me of the early 90s. I feel like I have pictures of Kim Zmeskal wearing a similar leotard.

JESSICA: Yes. That is what it looked like. You know, I did not care for that leotard. I have to say, meh. I’m eh on that.

SPANNY: I also thought that Oklahoma had a classy leotard, we’ll say. It was just their normal colors, but it wasn’t blinding but it was flattering.

JESSICA: Well they’re weren’t any leotards this time that made me want to poke my eyes out with a fork, so that’s good.

[laughter]

SPANNY: No hogs on them

JESSICA: [laughs]

SAMANTHA: Good, I’m so happy.

JESSICA: [laughs] Thanks Sam! Sam has heard many of my comments about leotards, so yeah.

SPANNY: Number one priority. I mean it’s got to be fun. Like oh yeah design a leotard every week of the year. But sometimes I just, you know. And when you have a team full of girls that are different shapes and sizes, what might flatter one girl might not on the other, but everybody’s got to wear the same thing. And yeah. I don’t have to wear them. That’s what’s important. Freshman of the week – and this is courtesy of Lauren Hopkins, she writes for The Couch Gymnast, and when I told her I was putting this together she was like, “You have to put this girl in” because she was just really impressed. Haley Scaman from the University of Oklahoma. 9.85 for an impressive yurchenko 1.5. She got a 9.875 on the uneven bars immediately after a teammate’s fall, and another 9.875 on floor. Which isn’t bad for her very first collegiate performance. Freshman of the week. Now my, we’ll call it the “what the fudge” of the week, and I know I have this name wrong so I’m not even going to say it. Everybody was pretty impressed by the SUU vault rotation.

JESSICA: Yes, I totally liked watching their vaults. Like they were very different, I love seeing something different, I liked watching them. They took their weaknesses and turned them into an advantage on vault, and that also gave us something new and exciting or old school to watch.

SPANNY: I enjoyed some of the other, but the last vault wasn’t a vault.

JESSICA: Ok so what was the last, who, ok what was her name again that did that last vault?

SPANNY: I put it as Rochelle Bernier but in retrospect I think I had it wrong. Because when I rewatched the vault video, there was like a compilation.

JESSICA: Was it McKayla… was this the full on, one and a half off?

SPANNY: It was like a one and a quarter on, yeah

JESSICA: Ok let’s discuss. Sam did you watch this vault?

SAMANTHA: Yes, yes I watched it. And you know I feel like I’ve seen lots of different kinds of vaults. And when she went for that, I’m not going to lie, my first reaction was, “Oh dear God!” I thought she slipped, I had no idea that was coming. I guess I didn’t watch her warm up. I was really terrified. But then after thinking about it, it was really cool. You know we were talking about it when I was commentating, and I don’t know what the vaults were. But they have to give her some credit for doing something unique. However there wasn’t any amplitude at all. But it was really cool to watch. And you know we’re used to watching the same monotonous yurchenko full, it was kind of a breath of fresh air to see some new and exciting things.

SPANNY: I agree. I enjoyed seeing the different vaults, but like you mentioned, the amplitude.
Like I went back and was like, “Did she touch the table?” Because I’m not entirely sure that she did. I went back and like paused at the moment, and there’s like a three finger scrape of the table. And then she just kind of plopped on the other side. I’d love to see that vault but with an actual like… I mean I don’t know how, it’s probably impossible to do on the new table… but, new, it’s ten years. But like a repulsion from the table as a post flight.

SAMANTHA: Right.

SPANNY: And you know a vault needs a middle and end. And that was just a splash of gymnastics. I don’t know, there weren’t pieces.

JESSICA: I think like the thing with that vault is like I’ve seen people attempt that many times, and it never looks good. It always looks like they’re going to tear both their ACLs when they land because they’re always still twisting and going in a direction toward the crowd rather than toward the mat. And it always terrifies me. And that was the first time that I saw that vault and I was like, “Oh my God, she actually landed straight ahead and I wasn’t worried about any of her joints.” Which I consider the best way you can ever ever do that vault. I’ve never seen it done that well, and so i was just like that’s great! I didn’t even notice the repulsion, because basically I feel like it’s impossible to get good repulsion off that vault. So I was really happy with it.

SPANNY: I’d be interested to see it again. If we get another video of it.

JESSICA: She has… I watched this morning, we’ll put it up on the website. There’s a video of her intro video from SSU, and it has some really cool camera work. And you can see it from the top actually, and it looks like it has a little more repulsion than it had at the meet. We’ll put it up.

SPANNY: I guess they had a video, there was a guy who kind of did a mini documentary. I watched it just the other day, that documented like the day of the meat, that had pretty cool shots of all the vaults.

JESSICA: Yeah.

SPANNY: So I think that’s worth taking a peek at. Let’s move on to unfortunate hair of the week.

JESSICA: Sam’s favorite topic, yay!

SAMANTHA: Oh no, I’m usually at the top of this list, huh?

JESSICA: [laughs] Only when your ponytail flops in your eyes! I worry about you.

SPANNY: And I write extensively about hair, and that doesn’t bother me as much. It’s, again I blog about this a bit, but it’s the hair that looks like they spent a really huge amount of time making it look like crap. That’s my number one pet peeve. And luckily I think we’re kind of moving away from that trend of the “I’m trying really hard to not care” trend. But not really just, I don’t know. We’re not going to get into it, because I’ll talk about it for quite some time. That said, I do think that the trend is moving away from just… but now they do the hair bows, what’s with that?

JESSICA: I don’t care for this bow. Like where do you stand on the bows Sam?

SAMANTHA: On the bows, I’m not a fan of the bows. I’m not a big fan of scrunchies though either. I think, but that’s like wearing a scrunchie is not my favorite, but I think a team looks good when they all wear the scrunchie. I think it does look good. Don’t tell Miss Val I said that. But I do, I like the scrunchie when the whole team wears it, but I’m not a big bow fan. Just because you know you can never make the bow look the same with everybody. And you know it can fall out, it can kind of like flop over so you can’t really tell that it’s a bow and it’s just kind of ribbon flailing around. But I know some people wear it for luck and other reasons, so that may be different.

JESSICA: Now, you guys did something really unusual last year, which is you guys all wore flowers in your hair like Peng Peng started doing. I’ve never seen a team besides you guys and Peng Peng do that, and I loved that change actually. And I don’t know if it was because it was different, or it looked really pretty. How did that all come about?

SAMANTHA: To be honest I kind of don’t, oh it was the senior meet, and so they wanted to do something different for the senior meet if I remember correctly. And so the seniors were just going to wear it, and then Miss Val really liked it and she was like, “No, I want everyone to wear it”, so we all put it in our hair for that meet. I think a lot of people liked it. Did we do it again? I’m not sure if we did it again or it was just a few meets. But yeah, I know we did that last year and it was a little bit of a change, and I liked it because it was different definitely. But I’m more of like the clean front part, and I don’t like a lot of stuff that could fall out, I don’t like to think about it. I wasn’t a big fan of wearing it in the competition, but I thought it looked good.

JESSICA: Yeah, I would be paranoid that it was going to fall out during floor and then I wouldn’t know, and then I would run back the other way and land on it and like…

SAMANTHA: Right.

JESSICA: Yeah. What did you think of the flowers, Spanny?

SPANNY: I liked them- again long as they aren’t distracting, I think it’s a nice accessory. I love when Peng Peng does it. I thought it was really cute when Canada, you know they all did their tribute to her this summer. I think there’s classy and subtle ways to do accessories while you’re competing without stamping your face full of tattoos, or whatever the trend is this year. Yeah that said, falling out during a routine terrifies me. Or even your hair coming undone, like there’s a video with Ferrari where her hairs flopping in the air and she just…

JESSICA: Right!

SPANNY: nails it anyway.

JESSICA: Seriously, her entire ponytail came out and she still finished that floor routine, I was like, “Oh my God, she’s amazing. She’s totally amazing”.

SPANNY: If I even have like a piece of my hair, if my bang falls on my face, I like, freak out so.

SAMANTHA: [[laughs]]

JESSICA: I have to say though, even though I always complain about face tattoos and obnoxious hair stuff and everything like that, I do appreciate that we have such different styles because it’s such a big country and we have so many different styles, you really see the diversity of the U.S. when you watch NCAA gymnastics. And I always feel like when other people talk about gymnastics I’m like, “Well our country is totally different no matter where you go. We’re very, very unique.” So I’m kind of proud of that, even though I complain about it. Okay, carry on.

SPANNY: No, that’s so true. When you think about styles of routines, you think about floor routines. Head down South and you’re going to get some Bama stuff, that’s just how it is. But if you go elsewhere, you head out West obviously it’s Miss Val’s influence too, but things just in my opinion, and I think that’s cause I spent a little bit of time on the West Coast, they get a little classier over there. That said, let’s move into gratuitous over use of the robot and twerking of the week, goes to the entire Ball State floor routine rotation. Huh…[[laughs]] I watched those routines and I was like, “Interesting. Really…bizarre”. It was the performance that I have to applaud them on, because they really committed to this stuff.

JESSICA: So, for real, like Sam you watched some of these, so like it’s actually the robot? Like, robot robot?

SAMANTHA: Well, you know when I watched Nicole Allen’s floor routine, first of all her tumbling was huge. She did a double arabian first pass, double back second pass, and both were huge, so I was impressed with that. Overall, I thought her dance was a little stiff, and then after her second pass the music kind of went into cat daddy, and she kind of did the mini cat daddy into the robot. It was an interesting way of choreographing that. I think that if you’re going to go all out and do things like that, it needs to be a little bit more energetic, I don’t even know the word. I thought for the choreography in her floor routine it needed to be a little bit…something was missing. I’m not sure what it was, but something was missing.

SPANNY: Seems like it was the level of commitment, they were laughing with us. They knew what they were doing was kind of silly, but they weren’t entirely committed to it, so they were kind of, like when you’re watching a play and someone is breaking character because they know what they’re saying is really funny, I felt like I was watching them start to laugh with me. I don’t know.

SAMANTHA: Yeah!

SPANNY: It’s interesting that you mentioned their tumbling was incredible! They fell on every bail on their bar routines, every layout on beam, and then they go to floor and they just do these incredible passes! What a weird team, they’re like awesome and intrigue me.

SAMANTHA: Right. I also think, like the illusion of judging, too. For the passes and the hard skills that they did have, if they could just clean up their dance and the performance aspect, it could really just influence their scores so much. And clean up their landings a little bit, they could be contenders and they could really compete with some other high level teams. Because the hard part, the tumbling, they really have that. So if they could figure out a way to change up their choreography, and kind of really sell it, then I think they’d have it made.

SPANNY: I’m gonna keep my eye on them this year. Just like, I don’t know, out of morbid curiosity or I really do think they may be able to do well, but they caught my attention.

SAMANTHA: Yes.

SPANNY: And Jess, I think this is you, but ridiculous quote of the week, “I feel like we are the underdogs for this year” -NCAA All-Around Champion Kytra Hunter

JESSICA: Yeah I didn’t put that one in there [laughs] but that is really funny!

SPANNY: But after last night…I don’t agree with them being underdogs, but they’ve been the number one pick by everybody for the past three or four years and that hasn’t worked out for them, so why will this year be different? I don’t know.

JESSICA: For our listeners, we are recording on Saturday the 12th, and so last night Florida had a poor performance, we’ll call it that. It’s really sad, this is the thing that just kills us with Florida every year, because they’re so close and then they just inevitably don’t pull it together at some point. But then again we’ve seen this with UCLA sometimes, going up and down, and up and down. I watched an interview on Gymnastike with Rhonda Faehn, and she said that they have changed their plan this year. They’re gonna go more the route of not starting off so hardcore in the beginning of the season, and just really building slowly towards the end of the season, rather than them starting off, like go crazy for the beginning. Because, really you can’t do that when you compete this many times in a season.

SPANNY: Yeah. Pacing has always, I think, been a concern in terms of, yeah, how do you hold back a group of that talent, how do you keep the reigns on them? That said, I think they are kind of a wildcard in the sense that they could absolutely live up to every expectation, or they’ll fall short. Just like every other team.

JESSICA: Sam, do you think, they’re at this point where they’ve been the team that people have thought were going to finally be the fifth team to win a National Championship in Division I in NCAA gymnastics, and they’ve been so close. Do you feel like that’s hanging over their head now? That expectation that they haven’t been able to meet, and that might be a hinderance at this point, because it’s such the topic everyone talks about them?

SAMANTHA: You know, I thought that. Talking to a bunch of girls after Nationals last year, just how close that they were to winning and they were all in pretty good spirits and I was kind of confused why, and they said that was the best they’d ever done at Nationals. And I didn’t really realize that in the history of Florida gymnastics, they are at their prime right now, and so if they can just keep getting a little bit better…I definitely don’t think that they’re an underdog. I’m not sure if they self proclaim themselves as underdogs maybe to take some of the pressure off, I’m not sure. I don’t think they’re underdogs at all, you know, given the talent they have on their team, but I do think it’s smart for Rhonda and the other coaches to try and really pace them early on. I noticed the past few years their all arounders typically compete all around the majority of the meets, and you know the line up the past two weekends their normal all arounders have only been doing two or three events, so I think that’s a little bit smarter, to try and kind of use their depth to their advantage and make it to the end of the season where they can all be fresh and ready to go.

JESSICA: I like how Sam’s like, “They were kind of happy after they took second,” because Sam would just want to destroy things and take a like machete to her hotel room if she didn’t win. This is like, seriously Sam…

SAMANTHA: [[laughs]] Yeah, I’m not a good loser, that’s for sure. I never have been. I can be polite, I can this, that, and the other, but there is not one ounce of me is happy when me or UCLA does not win first place.

JESSICA: [[laughs]] Yup. That’s what makes you so good!

SAMANTHA: [[laughs]] Thank you!

JESSICA: Is it time to talk about Lloimincia Hall’s routine or do we have more? Are we ready?

SPANNY: Nope, that’s all.

JESSICA: Let’s discuss! This has been the topic of the gymternet, people are like, “It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen!” Other people are like, “Oh my God, are you kidding?” Other people are like, “Okay tumbling, but the rest isn’t performance”. Like okay, it’s totally controversial, I love it! So, what do you guys think?

SAMANTHA: Oh, I’m indifferent. I think she wins the award for the most energetic, the most enthusiastic. Not only can you tell she’s having fun and she kind of pumps herself up when she’s doing it, she feeds off her own energy, her team feeds off her energy, and I think it brings a lot of attention, not only to LSU, but to NCAA gymnastics. And it really brings in a wider range of fans watching, because it’s totally different. It’s not the normal artistic choreography that we’re used to seeing. NCAA, yeah it’s a lot more fun choreography, but she really brings it to a whole other level. And I can appreciate that she’s doing something unique, she’s being talked about, she’s willing to take that risk and kind of go the extra mile. You can tell it makes her happy, so she doesn’t really care what other people think because she enjoys what she’s doing. So, I’m impressed with that.

SPANNY: I loved it. Again, I feel like I have a range of styles of floor that I really enjoy. I love some of the balletic stuff, I love Miss Val’s quirky stuff, but it’s impossible for me to not be absolutely riveted by Lloimincia’s routine. I just love that style, I love the energy, I love the commitment to it. And I feel like in watching some of her routines from last year, and it stays true to the two routines I’ve seen of her’s this year, it isn’t the same performance from week to week, it changes up. And I think that’s a result of being kind of in the moment. You’re doing choreography, but you’re not doing this toe goes here, this finger goes there, she’s actually dancing. She’s moving and it’s very in the moment. I think it’s contagious, I have to like, smile and giggle and love her when I watch this routine. And I can see how that might not be some people’s cup of tea because they want to watch Soviet’s gymnastics, I don’t know. But I love what she puts out there, like I love it. I love it!

JESSICA: [laughs] The thing about this routine that I love, like it’s not the dance, it’s not even the tumbling- the tumbling is ridiculous- but it’s that this is the thing I love about American NCAA gymnastics in a nutshell. Which I feel like it’s just, you don’t see this anywhere else in the world! This is our thing. Like, this is what makes American gymnastics totally unique. You will never see a routine like that anywhere else. It’s totally the performance aspect of it, and in NCAA whether you think it’s artistry, or it’s not artistry, or whatever the argument is, she is engaging. She is looking at the crowd. Even if you think she looks ridiculous, she will draw you in. She is engaging. That’s the thing that is key in NCAA, performance in key in NCAA, it makes such a difference! And it’s genius too, because she’s not going to have the body type that looks great doing the Soviet style ballet. So you play to her strength, you use that as her strength. And you take her performance aspect-and don’t make her hold a scale, make her do the ‘catty daddy’ or whatever the kids do nowadays. [laughs] The ‘catty daddy’… I just thought it was great. It totally made me smile, it made me want to cheer for her, and that’s the kind of thing that NCAA gymnastics is all about. So, I dug it.

SAMANTHA: I think what also is really cool if you watch her routine, and her tumbling is not easy tumbling, it’s super hard tumbling. She goes high and it’s huge, and even right before and right after her tumbling, it’s like a walk in the park for her. She’s totally thinking about her dance…

SPANNY: Mmhmm.

SAMANTHA:…and she’s enjoying the moment, and so it kind of just shows how good of a gymnast that she is, that she doesn’t even need to think about her tumbling so much, because it’s just so easy and casual for her to just you know, “let me just run down here and do the biggest and best double layout that I can do”

SPANNY: Yeah.

JESSICA: That’s a really good point, because you can tell if someone is worried about and scared of their tumbling, or if they’re not in good condition, if they’re not in great shape. And her routine, you are totally at ease, you’re not worried, she’s in the moment, you’re in the moment. And I think that’s a really great point that makes her stand out as well, Sam. That was a great point.

SPANNY: And she has that almost left over energy at the end, too. How everytime after she after every routine she has the energy to jump and throw fists and I’m like, I would be dead. I would actually die on the floor because I’d be so exhausted from not only the tumbling, but the amount of energy she puts into the entire routine. How she has any left over for anything, I don’t know. Any routine that I can watch, especially with floor routines that I can enjoy and I want to watch more than one time, especially of the same performance, I watched her routine from last week- she’s going to think I’m like, creepy- but I watched it like seven or eight times in a row. There was something else to watch every time, and I don’t know, it’s a treat.

[[ON NEXT EPISODE]]

JESSICA: A two time World Championships competitor and NCAA Champion, Ukrainian gymnast Lena Degteva will tell us what it was like to train at Round Lake with greats like Oksana Chusovitina and Olympic Gold Medalist Tatiana Gutsu. I’m really excited to bring her to the show because even though she’s not like a super name brand gymnast who a lot of people might know, this is one of the things I love about podcasts, and this is why I love interview podcasts so much, like our show, is because I get introduced to people that I might not have known about before. And I met Lena a while ago and I basically cornered her in a bar and made her tell me her entire life story, [[laughs]] and we’ve been friends ever since. I was like, “You know, people would love hearing this. This is the kind of things that gymnastics fans like to hear”, so I’m super excited to bring you guys that interview next week. I also want to tell you guys that we have a new way to support the show besides rating us on iTunes and downloading the Stitcher app, you can also buy books from our Amazon bookstore, or now Powell’s Bookstore. Powell’s is a rare book store in Oregon who has stuff like Leonid Arkaev’s book. I didn’t even know he wrote a book, but you can buy it at the Powell’s Bookstore, and there’s some really rare stuff that you can’t find anywhere else. So you can find that through the Bookstore on our shop on the website, and you can also always get in touch with us. We love your feedback, we love hearing from you. You can email us at GymCastic@gmail.com, you can leave us a message on our GymLine at 415-800-3191, leave a question or a comment for us there. So until next week, I’m Jessica O’Beirne from Masters-Gymnastics.com

SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile

SAMANTHA: And Samantha Peszek and you can follow me at @SamanthaPeszek on Twitter

JESSICA: Thanks and see you guys next week!

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