BRIDGET SLOAN: I really want to know what the 2000 team was thinking when they were over there, but obviously time will tell no matter what. If our medal was to turn into gold, great. If it’s not, we still have a silver medal.
JESSICA: This week, 2009 World All-Around Champion Bridget Sloan. We review Gymnastike’s brand new series about MLT’s gym, Beyond the Routine. And we talk about our favorites and the worst from NCAA Gymnastics.
ALLISON TAYLOR: Hey gymnasts, Elite Sportz Band is a cutting edge compression back warmer that can protect your most valued asset: your back. I’m Allison Taylor on behalf of Elite Sports Band. Visit elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: This is episode 18 for January 30th 2013. I’m Jessica.
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe.
SPANNY: I’m Spanny Tampson.
UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim.
JESSICA: And this is the best and only gymnastics podcast in the whole entire world. Starting with the best and top news stories from around the world. Blythe, what’s happening?
BLYTHE: Alright, the big thing on the American team is changes to the American Cup line up. Elizabeth Price is out, she has strained her hip. Larissa Iordache is out from Romania, we’re not sure what she has, but the Romanian Fed has said that they’re not coming. We do have new people to announce, Victoria Moors from Canada who competed in Madison Square Garden at the American Cup last year, she’ll be returning. Koko Tsurumi from Japan…
JESSICA: Ah! I love her! Oh my God I’m so excited! [LAUGHS]
BLYTHE: It’s exciting! I cannot remember if there has been a Japanese female at the American Cup the past couple of years, and I don’t really think so. So that’ll be nice, and Koko’s a very strong gymnast and when she hits she has a good chance, I would say, of being on the podium. But she is kind of a hit or miss gymnast so you never quite know. On the men’s side, Hiroki Ishikawa has been added to the lineup. The other two women they’re going to announce a little bit later. They are going to have a training camp to determine the other American in February, and there’s one spot still open, and that’s kind of a wild card.
JESSICA: Interesting. Who do you guys think will get it? Priessman?
SPANNY: I think it will be… yeah. I actually can’t fathom anybody else. Which I don’t want to say is disappointing, but I just feel like we’ve seen her compete a lot and I’d like to see someone new.
JESSICA: Unless there’s going to be a crazy, like is there a junior who they’ll put in now even though they’re not eligible? Because they’re allowed to do that right? Is there anybody like Simone Biles who could…
BLYTHE: The thing about putting in juniors is that this years it’s an FIG World Cup event. You never know what might happen, but I think they really can’t put in juniors where in 2010 they had Jordyn Wieber, and 2009 as well, it was not a World Cup event. I think I have that right. But you never know.
JESSICA: I think that sounds right. What about this Japanese guy, Uncle Tim? Do we know him? Should I know his name?
UNCLE TIM: Which Japanese guy? Sorry.
UNCLE TIM: Blythe, help me out here.
JESSICA: Is he the guy that does the double front half? Or the crazy dismount off P-Bars?
BLYTHE: Hiroki Ishikawa. I’ve never heard of him, and last year the Japanese sent somebody who again we’ve never heard of, just one of their National Team members to the American Cup. And last year he didn’t do very well. He finished eighth and it was just kind of clear we wouldn’t be seeing him again on an International stage. But this guy, who knows?
JESSICA: A new and exciting face, yay! Oh Hiroki not Hiroshi, sorry about that. What’s happening- there’s something going on with Russia right? Theres injury rumors?
BLYTHE: The injury rumors: one Russian news site has reported that Viktoria Komova has a back injury, might miss the Russian Championships, might miss the European Championships which of course are going to be held in Moscow. I guess you never know, but you kind of have to feel for Komova, she’s always injured at the wrong time. So if she kind of continues on into this next quadrennium, which is her third year as a Senior already, we’ll see. Komova there’s a lot of talk about her being injured and there always has been in the last couple of years, but at the same time she has shown up at International competitions and has been more or less ready to go. For now, she’s probably grown a bit as well, so it’s hard to say.
JESSICA: Maybe she won’t have the puppy feet anymore. Aww I was so sad when Nastia grew out of her puppy feet. I always wondered if that made it harder to do beam.
UNCLE TIM: What are puppy feet?
JESSICA: You know like when kids have feet…
SPANNY: [LAUGHS] Yes.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Okay, you know when kids have feet that, especially like little girls where you can tell they’re going to be tall, that their feet are too big for their bodies. So they’ll look totally proportional but then they look like they have maybe a men’s size eight foot, even though they’re like seven. So Nastia totally had puppy feet for a long time, now she’s all proportionate but, you know puppies they flop all around with their feet. Her feet were perfect, I’m not saying anything like that, but you know. The not being proportioned, yes. Does Catherine Lyons have puppy feet, too? A little bit? Mmhmm. Oh my God I love her!
BLYTHE: She has a gorgeous beam routine, but yeah I was looking at her feet and you can tell she’s going to be tall.
JESSICA: Yeah, totally. Everyone should read Blythe’s article on the Gymnastics Examiner. She wrote a really good article putting in perspective the role of the Australian Olympic Festival and how it’s really been a jumping off point for gymnasts who become major players for those countries. It’s a really interesting article, I learned a lot by reading it. I never payed attention to that meet until I read that article and I was like, “Oh!” Yeah and I watched Catherine Lyons and I was like, “Oh my God, I am totally in love with this gymnast she’s so beautiful!” So you totally gotta watch her, like Spanny said last week. So what’s going on with, Spanny, we have some interesting tour news.
SPANNY: Well, much to our discontent, the Teen Choice Live Tour has been cancelled. I’d be lying if I said I knew what that was, other than I knew that it was Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, and Gabby Douglas and then the promo that showed cheerleaders, I think there was some sort of weird kiddy band? I also heard that they’re performing in high school auditoriums.
SPANNY: So it’s a real shock that this did not pan out. Yeah everything about it is just mind boggling, the idea of a second tour, everybody was just kind of “eh” about it, now the reaction from everyone is like, “Hooray! Back to training!” I’m not so quick to assume that. If these girls wanted to train they would be training. I don’t think they have any obligations to us as their fans to get back to training right away, especially when gymnasts like Aly grew up around Alicia where they proved that the year after the Olympics is not a number one priority. So I would not hold it against any of the girls for not immediately racing back to the gym, despite the cancellation of this really, super interesting tour that I’m so sad we’re all missing. So sad.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Uncle Tim, there is an interesting story out of U Dub, for everybody that’s University of Washington in Seattle, would you tell us about that?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah, so there is a gymnast whose name is Kylie Sharp and she has autoimmune hepatitis, and basically that is when your body attacks your own liver. You can keep it somewhat under wraps with Prednisone, but it’s led to different problems with her liver, she has cirrhosis according to the article. But we were just impressed that even though she has this liver problem, she’s still competing. It’s an inspirational story, it’s a long article but it’s worth the read.
JESSICA: Yeah, I’ll put a link on the site. I read that and I was like, “Wow!” On one hand that’s totally incredible that they’re letting her compete because it seems like it would be a serious liability issue, but then again, I mean it’s her liver. If she doesn’t get a new one, she’s going to die anyway so why not let her do gymnastics? I mean that’s kind of harsh but totally true. So I’m kind of impressed with U Dub for letting her compete and letting her go for it.
SPANNY: I’m impressed with her ability, if you’ve ever taken Prednisone it’s not a fun drug and it makes you feel like crap, so to be able to train and compete while taking that is mind boggling to me.
JESSICA: Yeah that girls gotta be super ass tough. And also Prednisone can cause a lot of other problems, so hats off to you, and we will be paying close attention to you because everything you do is remarkable in itself. And we know that it’s true, unlike some football players who clearly have a gay boyfriend who they’re trying to pass off as a fake girl who died of a disease. So I’m not saying the Mormons and the Catholics are in cahoots with that one, but anyway. Oh! This story you guys, I mean I know that some people love the sparkles, and the face tattoos, and the ribbons, and all of that stuff. But I mean this has to be the funniest/saddest thing I have ever read in my life. In the Democrat Herald in Oregon this was reported, I’m reading this straight from the newspaper, this is from Blalock from OSU: Blalock fell during warm ups on the balance beam at Utah on Saturday night. She missed the landing with her foot and bounced face first off the beam, a decorative rhinestone by her eye added to the damage as it scraped along her cheekbone. There you have it people, the danger of face rhinestones. We’ve said this before, we don’t care for these. And I mean what if this had gone right into her eye? I’m just saying, this is very serious that sparkles cause injuries! [LAUGHS]
BLYTHE: You could poke your eye out!
JESSICA: Exactly. It totally sucks but can you imagine having to describe- like already that’s a gnarly way to fall on beam, and if you go to class on Monday you have to explain why you have a giant scrape on top of the bruise on your face, “uh that’s a sparkle injury.”
JESSICA: So Spanny, let’s discuss. There has been a fantastic new series on Gymnastike, which I am totally a fan of, I love Gymnastike. I love what they’re doing, they’re bringing us way more gymnastics than we’ve ever been able to see before. They’re monetizing in a different way, which some people are really upset with, or some people are okay with but they don’t like the price point, but they have this TV series. Spanny and Uncle Tim in their satirist ways are going to bring us a review.
SPANNY: Let me start off by saying that I was one of the top critics of the fact that they want to charge $20 a month, and I still am, however having seen this series I’m like, “It’s worth some money, maybe not that much”, it’s hilarious. It’s unintentional hilarity, comedy gold and I now can’t wait for Mondays to watch the next episode. It wouldn’t have worked with any other, I know Uncle Tim had mentioned he’d love to see a series from Brestyans, and maybe it would be hilarious, nothing will ever top this special time we have with Mary Lee Tracy.
UNCLE TIM: Let me clarify, I’d like to Brestyans because I want to see a bar rotation. [LAUGHS]
SPANNY: I want more with the Mihai and the vacuuming, and him talking while he vacuums. Okay we’re digressing, but the first episode- and again there’s no time spent on credits, opening themes, we don’t need any of that. Bam, we are addressed immediately by Mary Lee Tracy who is introducing us to her dogs, and I do believe, we’ll have to pay attention in the second episode, because I do believe her dogs share a direct correlation to her gymnasts. It’s very clear one is favored, special Sophie Lee Tracy gets all the special attention, and is carted around everywhere, and gets all the special treats. And then there’s big, old Phoebe Lee Tracy who is immediately passed off on being old and too big to spend the day with. She is left alone all day. We won’t hear from her again.
SPANNY: Sophie Lee Tracy, however, really has a co-starring role in this series. I widely believe, Mary Lee Tracy she obviously, in order to attain some of the success that she’s had, has to pay attention to the details, and I don’t see her leaving things on her counters overnight. So one wonders why there’s so many bottles of wine, no less than four at the time of shooting at eight o’clock in the morning. Who knows, maybe she just hasn’t purchased a wine rack yet… Back to Sophie Lee Tracy. She matches Mary Lee at all times, we get a nice rundown of all the outfits that she has and she can’t leave the house until she’s dressed. As we all know Mary Lee often times wears track suits, not unlike Sue Sylvester, so on this day Sophie Lee Tracy also wears a tracksuit. I thought the most interesting part of this episode to be the terror that I felt when Mary Lee drives. She spends, I’m not exaggerating, close to two entire minutes staring and trying to mess with her iPhone to find a “faith song” as she calls it, because she cannot handle the day with her emotional teenage kids without listening to her faith song first. And she has her iPhone to her face for almost two minutes. I don’t know how the interviewer, and I think Annes in the back, I don’t know how they weren’t like, I would be like, “Stop the car.” I’m so weird about texting and driving, maybe because I’m old now. Sophie Lee is on her lap, one. And the dog looks as terrified as I felt.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
SPANNY: And then, she’s like absentmindedly answering questions she doesn’t care about, she says she ‘absolutely hates injures’. I don’t buy it. I don’t think she does. But she’s just really hell bent on finding this song, which she never does, she ends with, “DANG IT” and then we’re finally at the gym. I have to believe there’s a reason that Gymnastike and whoever edited this piece kept in the entirety of this driving episode, because that’s not normal behavior. Once we’re at the gym, and now we’re halfway through the episode, we focus on conditioning. It’s Monday morning and Mary Lee is very focused on what- she mentions the emotional state as well as the physical state of her girls and we’ll venture more into that in the second episode, the mental toughness of her gymnasts. Which is, I don’t know what to say about that. It’s interesting in seeing her interactions with the girls while they condition, she has a lot of talk about how she wants to promote positive reactions. She says she wants to focus on the good things, so she just won’t say anything to the girls who are half-assing it or who are slacking off, and she’ll really just compliment the girls who are going all out. She says that but does the complete opposite. The Junior girls look absolutely horrified and scared to death every time she walks by and it’s unmistakable. There were two girls in particular, one was called Pixie but the other one had blonde hair, really good toe point, that just either could not handle being criticized by Mary Lee or were constantly ridden by her. We’re also introduced to Courtney McCool and her role, we all knew she’d gone up there but no one really knew why. She calls herself Mary Lee’s assistant, she works with the Juniors but rotates with the Seniors, working on knees, toes, in her words, elegance, form, technique, and then “bar dance” and I looked and I was like well maybe it could be the ballet barre, I don’t know because I don’t think they have those there. The end of the episode is essentially girls crying. The second episode which I know Uncle Tim got to further enjoy.
UNCLE TIM: I did. Before I start with it I have to say we, the gymternet, need to band together and buy Mary Lee new mats because half her mats are saggy in the center and the others have rips and tears that are repaired with something that looks like electrical tape, basically. I don’t know how we’re going to raise money, a phone-a-thon, do like a Louis Smith calendar, something I don’t know. We need to raise money so she gets new mats because it looks like she hasn’t purchased any since Amanda Borden was in the gym in the mid 90s.
SPANNY: I’ve heard that her equipment is not so much, and then when I saw the dog chilling in the middle of the floor while the girls are running I was like, “The dogs allowed on the stuff, it’s not that high quality stuff”
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Yeah, and so in my episode there isn’t really much of a plot I would say, I think there are two different plots going on. The first is kind of who’s allowed to cry and who’s not allowed to cry in the gym. Certain gymnastics are allowed and other’s are not. [LAUGHS] The other one is my favorite, the clock isn’t working in the gym and the clock is very important because thats how the girls know how much time to condition, how long they have to go to the bathroom [LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: and so Jul, Julie is her real name, Mary Lee’s sister is supposed to fix the clock and the episode ends with a complete cliffhanger because we don’t know if the clocks going to be fixed or not and it’s like, “Whoa, mind blown! That’s the best plot ever!!!!” So that was probably my favorite thing. So in all seriousness, I live for CGA because I live for the little girls doing straddle jumps with ankle weights on the Tumbl Trak behind Mary Lee, I live for those things. And I live for those keywords that Mary Lee yells across the gym as she holds her iPhone in front videotaping everything. Like, what did she yell, “Use your mind!” Stuff like that.
SPANNY: And very, as my Minnesotan will, “Use your miiiiiiiiind!” Like she’s just…[LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: Yelling across the gym at her sister, “Do you need a spot?”, while she’s standing on this chair grabbing the clock off the wall, kind of teetering there. I love her sarcasm. There was this one part that we kind of have to mention that was rather disappointing, I would say. So we find out why Amelia Hundley is called Meals. It is because in Amelia’s own words, “I used to eat a lot”. I think it’s somewhat disappointing that her nickname in the gym is related to the amount of food she used to eat. It takes be back to high school when my classmates would call a girl Chewbacca because she had a hairy mustache on her face and I don’t know, it seemed very mean girl-y and it’s also kind of troublesome given that there have been eating disorders and stuff in gymnastics, so I have to mention that. With that said, I love this web series and I guess I wanted to put this out there, my birthday is in March and I would really love a pair of ankle weights.
SPANNY: It’s a really special series and I hope everyone gets to watch it at some point. I did do a recap of the first episode, I’m hoping to do the second episode so we’ll post a link to my awesome website. And you can at least see some pictures, I mean I really had to choose between twenty different pictures of her driving with her phone in front of her face, but lots of great pictures of Sophie Lee.
JESSICA: You guys definitely have to check out Spanny’s recap because I laughed out loud during the dog putting her matching outfit on with sparkles during the episode, and then I laughed even harder during the whole recap on Spanny’s site. All kidding aside, it’s really funny but it’s also freaking great. This is the kind of thing we’ve been waiting for as a gymnastics community forever, a gymnastics documentary thats a weekly or a monthly or whatever and it’s really for gymnastics fans, so you get to see all the behind the scenes everything. Okay so I have to say I totally love this because it’s not like the CNN documentary in that, so say there’s something that looks like it could be really bad, like MLT said something and you think that sounds really awful, then they go to the gymnast and they say privately, away from the coach, except for the Meals thing, they said how did you interpret that situation, what’s going on for you right now. Then you get to hear in the gymnasts words what they think is happening. If we could have gone over to the gymnasts at Parkettes after they landed on their head and they could have said in their own words what’s going on, and you could’ve had the gymnast say, “Well, I’m not working hard enough because I haven’t landed on my head twelve times today”, then maybe the series would’ve been a little different. Anyways, I just, I really like that you’re getting both sides and that they have the comedy part and they also have interviews from both sides of what’s going on. Totally recommend it, if you guys don’t want to pay for a whole year you can try the free trial for seven days or you can try a three month- it’s like $12 a month and you can cancel after three months, so I’d say give it a try because as a gymnastics fan you should put your money towards, if you can afford it, the kind of thing you want to see more of, put your money where you want to see something continue.
BLYTHE: 2008 Olympic team silver medalist and 2009 World all-around champion Bridget Sloan has started a new chapter of her life as a freshman at the University of Florida. Florida is of course one of the teams that’s highly favored to win this year’s NCAA, and today we’ll be talking to Bridget about the 2008 Olympics, the 2012 Olympic process, and the transition from elite gymnastics to college. Bridget, thank you so much for coming on the show. Well first of all, let’s just talk a little bit about the transition to college. Tell us about Florida and what it’s like being with the team there?
BRIDGET: Florida is absolutely amazing. I can’t really picture myself anywhere else. But the transition from elite to college has been a big change. Really there’s nothing… I talk about this all the time with the coaches here, with Rhonda and Rob and Adrian, and it’s like there’s nothing I can take from elite and be like, “Oh we used to do that in elite.” And when I’m here in college and working out, the workouts are just so different. And the mindset is so different. And it’s all about sticking those landings. Which obviously in elite you want to stick your landings, but in college it is just, you know, that’s really everything is sticking those landings and making sure you just put on the best show. I’ve always said that I love competing because it is like putting on a show, and now that I’m in college I get to put on a show almost every weekend. And so far I’ve been absolutely enjoying it. It’s been a whole new experience for me that I’ve been able to learn from. Every single meet I learn something new about myself, about the gym, about my team. You know it’s been a whole learning experience for me that I’ve really enjoyed.
BLYTHE: What kind of things have you learned so far specifically? What did you learn after your first meet after having gone through that process?
BRIDGET: After my first meet I realized that college gymnastics has a lot of excitement. When I was at the… we competed at Ball State, that was our home opener. And I did not compete floor, but I’m pretty sure I was jumping and screaming enough to equal doing a floor routine. I mean it was… the excitement that was going through my body, the adrenaline, was just, it was crazy to think that I wasn’t even competing but I was so excited. I was yelling, I was screaming, I was jumping up and down for my teammates. You know giving high fives. It’s just it’s so different but it was so much fun. And it’s kind of awesome to be a part of such a great team and with great coaches by our sides, not to mention our incredible fans that we get to compete in front of.
BLYTHE: Now have you done floor yet at Florida?
BRIDGET: I have. This past weekend was my very first time and it was, oh, it was so much fun. The floor routine is obviously a little different than what I’m used to. There’s only three passes, which is awesome. But the dance and the choreography, you really have to show it off. So it’s a little different but it’s so much fun. I cannot wait to hopefully do floor the rest of the season. Maybe not every meet, but I definitely want to compete floor as much as possible because it really is… you know we go out there and we want to represent our school in the most positive way. And I definitely think that us competing and showing off our personalities in our floor routines and our beam routines, you know we fly high on bars, we stick our landings, that’s really what it’s all about here at the University of Florida, and it’s awesome to be a part of it.
BLYTHE: Now I don’t think I’ve ever seen an NCAA as stacked with talent and experience – you know, Olympians, World medalists, everything like that – as this team at Florida right now. And I feel like if gymnastics were kind of a betting sport, a lot of people would be putting money on Florida. Do you guys think that you have a shot at the NCAA title this year?
BRIDGET: You know, every year we get a little bit closer and closer. And obviously everybody’s been looking towards us saying, “you know, Florida’s going to be a great contender this year.” Which Rhonda’s already talked to us about. It’s not really about NCAA Championships, but it’s really about the meets we do beforehand. It’s that experience that we get out there in front of the crowd showing off, so that when we get to NCAAs and SECs, those big competitions, you know it’ll be just like we’re back in the gym or at a home meet. And I’ve always told… my theory has always been, every meet that I go and compete at, it’s just another routine. I don’t like to think of it as anything bigger than just another routine. I just need to hit one just like I do in practice. And that’s my mindset. And it’s been… it’s definitely helped being here and telling the girls, “I know I’m a freshman,” but it is nice to have a little bit of experience. And it’s not necessarily that I explain my ways, but it’s nice to kind of give input. We all have little things that we do. And we kind of feed off of each other. And I always let the girls know, “It’s just a normal routine, don’t even think about it, just let your mind take over and your body knows what to do.” And I think that’s what really makes college gymnastics so much fun. And being here at Florida, you know our bodies just know what to do. We just… I always tell myself I’m just going to go into auto pilot. I’ve done these things 100, a couple hundred times by now, and there’s nothing that I can’t do… if I put my mind to it, I know I can do it. And having the faith that my coaches have in me and my teammates have in me, it’s just reassuring and it kind of puts that little “it” factor in us. And we know that we can do it and especially when we have our team behind us.
BLYTHE: When you’re standing by an apparatus like say the balance beam, and you’re waiting to salute and you’re waiting for the judges to get ready, are the nerves really exactly the same as they were at an Olympic Games or a World Championships? Do you ever tell yourself, “Hey, I survived the pressure cooker that was the Olympics, I can do this here now”?
BRIDGET: The pressure is just so different than… you know when you’re on the elite stage, you’re on podium, you can barely see the faces in the crowd because they’re pretty far away. But man at college, they are right there. You turn around and you know exactly who you’re staring at. So before beam, for example, I definitely like to just keep it calm. I know that once I salute it’s focus 100%. But one of our managers, Brittany Arlington, on the last meet, I just kind of had her talk to me. And we were kind of making casual conversation just to keep my mind relaxed but still in the zone. And that’s just me personally. I like to keep it very relaxed before I salute, and once I salute it’s kind of go time. But for me personally when I’m on the beam I love to sing a song. And it just kind of keeps the rhythm going. And I’m going to go back to when I go into auto pilot. I don’t really think about the skills, it’s just kind of a habit. You know you do the dance, you know exactly what’s coming next, and the skills just come naturally when we’ve done the routines so many times. So I just like to kind of go out there and think about hitting my routine the best of my ability. And I know that my body will take over, and my mind, you know, my mind just sings a song but I know my body will take over and it’ll be the best routine I can do.
BLYTHE: I like that very much, you sing a song. Is it a particular song? Or just humming a tune?
BRIDGET: It’s just kind of any upbeat song. I love to keep upbeat songs in the gym. My iPod has been playing recently, and it’s just been really nice to have that, you know I’m going back to upbeat, but for me personally I like to obviously sing because it keeps the rhythm going. It keeps that like “1,2,3 1,2,3” rhythm and for me that’s what I need. When I don’t stop and I kind of keep going it’s like my body doesn’t have time to think of anything so it’s kind of like a revolving door, it just keeps on going. And for me personally that’s been a great success that I’ve had.
BLYTHE: That’s very interesting. Did you do that as an elite as well?
BRIDGET: I did [laughs] it definitely hasn’t just started now. I’ve been doing it for a while and it’s really helped. Just kind of again keep my mind relaxed but at the same time it’s still sharp and it’s still focused. But I’m not thinking ahead of anything, I’m just thinking about that moment right then and there.
BLYTHE: I see. You’ve gone from training by yourself with Marvin Sharp – so kind of one coach one athlete – to training with about 20 women and several coaches. And that’s definitely been a change for you. And how have you adapted to that?
BRIDGET: It’s been a change but it’s been one of the best changes I could have ever asked for. I didn’t know how I was going to react coming into a gym like this, just because I worked out with two other people max and now I’m with a group of 15 girls and three coaches. It’s been, again, very different, but it’s been such a good learning experience. It’s kind of nice to be able to feed off of the other girls. Especially you know with school and homework and going into tutoring sessions you can get a little tired. But when you have that one person who’s tired but you have 14 other people who are energetic and ready to go, you instantly get out of the tired mood and you’re like “oh my gosh let’s go practice, let’s just go do this.” And it’s kind of nice to have that just because when you’re training by yourself and you’re kind of in a little bit of a slump and you’re a little really tired, there’s not really a whole lot of people who can get you out of that mood. But being here and being in such an energetic facility, I think that’s what kind of helps us get through workouts everyday. Because you’re not going to be super excited every day, but having your teammates behind you, it makes it a little bit nicer to be in the gym.
BLYTHE: I see. And when you’re not in the gym and when you’re not in class, where can we find you? What do you do?
BRIDGET: I am more than likely tucked in under my covers about to fall asleep. I love sleeping. It is probably one of my favorite pastime hobbies. But if I’m not sleeping I’m definitely either doing homework or talking to my mom, talking to my parents back home. But obviously the friends that I’ve made here, definitely love hanging out with them. And you can definitely find me hanging out either around campus or at the apartment complex where the rest of the team girls live who do not live on campus. You can really find me anywhere, but if you’re really trying to find me hard, I will be in my bed.
BLYTHE: So tell me abou the college experience in general. What classes are you taking? And has it been what you thought it would be?
BRIDGET: Well coming to school, I had no idea what to expect. I was like an open book, blank pages, didn’t want to write anything down, and I had really no expectations just because I had no idea what the college experience was going to be like for me. But so far I’ve absolutely loved it. The classes I’ve been taking are… they’re not exactly difficult but they are a little tricky here and there so they keep me thinking. And they’re not just kind of those classes that you don’t have to do anything for. Definitely don’t have any of those. But right now I’m in the telecom major and I’m pretty set with that. I was in the marketing department, or I was going to go into sports marketing, but I decided the business school wasn’t really for me. So pretty happy with my decision into the telecom and journalism school, and hopefully I’ll get into that here in the next couple years. Because obviously as a freshman, I can pretty much say I want to be whatever I want. But doesn’t really start until sophomore, junior year that you really take those classes for your major.
BLYTHE: I have to ask, especially with sort of what’s going on with the Fierce Five, after Beijing, did you… were you tempted to become professional, to give up your NCAA eligibility? Like Aly Raisman did, who was going to go to Florida, and now, you know, has since decided to pursue other things.
BRIDGET: Most definitely. I would be lying if I said I wanted to do NCAA my whole life. The temptation is obviously there. And especially from 2009, coming off of a win. You know you win the World Championships, you have all these offers. But nothing I think can compare to the offer of a scholarship and competing four extra years. You know if I would have gone professional and taken money, it obviously would have been great. I would have made the best of it. But I would have been done. I think after trying for two Olympics, I’m a little on the old side already so I definitely would have retired by now. So it’s kind of a blessing in disguise. After I won, I had to kind of take a step back and look at the big picture at what I wanted to be in life. And I knew that gymnastics was obviously a huge part of my life, but I knew it wouldn’t be my entire life. I knew I had to go to school, I needed to get a good job. So there were certain things I needed to do in order to make myself happy in the long run, and coming to school just seemed like the best thing for me.
BLYTHE: I see. And did the cost of college play a role in that decision?
BRIDGET: Um, not really. Just because if I would have gone professional and taken money, I would have gone to an in-state school. And since I didn’t, I knew that wherever I was going to go, I was going to get a good college career, a good gymnastics life, a good education. I knew it would all be in one package.
BLYTHE: Now you are here in Florida, and your family is still in Indianapolis, right?
BLYTHE: Do you miss them? Have you had any homesickness since coming to college?
BRIDGET: Um, I think the longest period of homesickness was for about two hours.
BRIDGET: I go through these weird brief periods where I’m like oh man, I really miss my dogs, I really miss my brother, I really miss my parents or my sister. But two hours is about as long as it lasts, and then I realize what a great life I have here. And it’s like, what am I thinking? I have sunshine every day. I don’t have to scrape my car in the morning to get the ice off the windshield. You know there’s all these little things here in Florida that just make me so excited that I do not miss being in Indiana if I was in Indiana. I remember waking up early in the morning and having to go to practice and having my dad start my car 20 minutes early just to get the frost off the car. I don’t have to deal with that here at Florida and it kind of makes me realize how happy I am here.
BLYTHE: [laughs]. I wanted to go back and talk about the Beijing Olympics a little bit. And I realize that’s kind of a little bit ago now. Tell me about the city of Beijing when you guys got there. I understand the athletes were given pollution maps and things like that? And did you share any of those fears about pollution? There was actually a study that came out a couple days ago in which it measured the air levels in Beijing. And they were very alarming, even for… we knew it was bad, but it was even worse than everybody had expected.
BRIDGET: You know honestly when we were there and we obviously were told, you know, the pollution might be something to think about, we really didn’t think about it at all. I mean we rarely spent a whole lot of time outside simply because we’re gymnasts, we spend our time in the gym. I mean I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more time in a gym than I’ve spent outside. And it’s kind of crazy to think like that. But as gymnasts we’re kind of programed. We go to the gym, we work out, we do our skills, we come back. And that’s what we did when we were in Beijing. We didn’t really.. I know I didn’t personally think about the air at all just because there were so many other things going on that I think I was almost too young to realize what was going on around me. And I guess when I was there it was just kind of I’m here, I’m at the Olympic Games, I’m about to compete for my country, I’m going to do the best that I can possibly do, and nothing is going to really stop me or stop my team. So the air pollution wasn’t really a huge concern. I know my parents thought about it just because they were more the tourists when they were there. Obviously they went to all of our competitions, but they got to do a lot more touristy things I guess I could say. So I think they would be more likely to talk about it just because I haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on around the world today and – this is going to sound bad – but I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to the pollution when I was there. I know for the sports that performed outside it was definitely a concern, but for the sports that were inside all the time it wasn’t really a huge concern. Just because personally, I didn’t notice it. But I was also very oblivious to things, so.
BLYTHE: Well, you had other things to think about.
BRIDGET: Yes. [laughs]
BLYTHE: It’s very understandable. And since that Olympic Games there was this reversal with the 2000 Olympic team being awarded the bronze medal 10 years after their Olympics. And it brought up all of these things about speculation that maybe some of the Chinese gymnasts were too young in Beijing. And they looked very young of course. And I have to ask, do you think someday your silver medal might turn into a gold one? As things sort of come out and the years roll past.
BRIDGET: Uhh…. It definitely could. I kind of want to know what the 2000 team was thinking when they were over there. But obviously time will tell no matter what. If our medal was to turn into gold, great. If it’s not, we still have a silver medal. We still have an Olympic medal which is an incredible achievement and an incredible accomplishment. Either way, I’m very happy with the outcome from the 2008 Olympics, but obviously if our silver was to be turned into gold it would definitely be a great day.
BLYTHE: And this is going to be the hardest question of the interview, I think. But I was watching some video and I was watching the 2009 American Cup in preparation for this interview. And at the American Cup, Marta Karolyi is seen on NBC telling you, “Now that you’ve lost some weight, you don’t do so bad.” It seems like it’s kind of a taboo subject to talk to gymnasts about their weight, after some of the bad things that happened in the 80s and 90s. And I just wanted to ask you about that, was that the first time she talked to you about your weight?
BRIDGET: Actually, yes. But personally you know talking about weight, it’s a whole personal level. There are some coaches I know that are on their gymnasts and their athletes about their weight all the time. Me personally, Marvin and I had a great relationship. And my parents raised me very well and I lived a very healthy life. When I think about food and stuff it was always very healthy food. So I honestly never had to think about my weight. But obviously after the 2008 Olympics I did take some time off and I kind of grew up and turned into a mat… well, I like to think of myself as a mature female athlete. But you know, that’s arguable. But being an athlete there obviously are times when you have to look at yourself and say, “how can I better myself?” And it really depends on your mindset and what you want to do. And for me, losing a little bit of weight definitely helped me. But I was definitely not out of control. I didn’t do anything crazy or make any drastic changes in my life. It was just more so to better myself and make myself the best athlete I could be. And in 2009 that was a great year for me, so I was just trying to make myself the best that I could possibly be.
BLYTHE: 2009 was a fantastic year. I was just watching your performances at the World Championships, at the US Championships, you were just on fire. And then, going into the 2009 Worlds, and it felt like it was you and Rebecca Bross, and one of the two of you would take the title, and it wound up being you, but it was a fantastic performance for the US team and after that, how did you—you had really been to the pinnacle, you had been on the Olympic team and now you’d had this wonderful individual success. Did you take some time off to breathe, after that, or did you enjoy what the past two years had brought you?
BRIDGET: I did. You know, after every big competition, luckily with the elite, we only had a few competitions a year, and our big competitions, our major competitions, were almost always in the October, September-October time. Championships were always in August, but Worlds was always normally October, so we were able to—at least, I was always able to a little bit of time off, maybe a month or two absolute tops, and that was not necessarily taking time off from gymnastics, but taking time off from doing routines. I think the max time I ever took off from not going into the gym was three weeks, and it was really hard because I got super bored. But taking some time off and getting to do appearances, it was a lot of fun, and it kind of made me appreciate just how great of a corporation I was with. You know, USA Gymnastics is an absolute great organization, and they have done so much for each and every athlete who is a part of the USAG, and being able to do, you know, a few fun things—I know I got to go to New York and do some interviews, and, you know, being able to take a step back and just realize how awesome your life is, is kind of something I was able to do after 2009. And obviously I went right back into the gym a few weeks later, but it was kind of nice to just spend time with my family and be a kid. Normally gymnasts accomplish really great things at a young age, so they kind of have to take a step back and realize, you’re only 16 years old or 17 years old, and in my case I was 17 years old when I won in 2009, and it was just kind of like, wow. At age 17, I just won a World Championships. At age 16, I went to the Olympics. Like, it was just absolutely incredible to me to accomplish such great things at such a young age, and it was nice, after each major competition, to just kind of take a step back and realize and appreciate what I was able to accomplish.
BLYTHE: Absolutely. And then after that, 2010, 2011, some injuries, and some setbacks because of injury. How did you deal with that? Because I don’t remember, in your elite career, up to that point, you really having to deal with any injury.
BRIDGET: Right. I was very, very lucky. My coach, Marvin, and—I cannot thank St. Vincent’s Sports Performance Center enough for keeping me together. Darrell Barnes is who I saw almost every day, he’s basically like a father to me. And 2010, I did have an injury. 2011, I also had another injury, so it was something that I wasn’t used to, but at the same time it was something that was going to happen, you know. Gymnastics is a sport where injuries do happen. You have little things here and there. But I guess I was just very lucky to have gone almost 17 years without having any major injuries, except—I know I had a surgery in 2008, in March of 2008 I had my knee worked on, but that was actually my biggest injury until that, until then. So I was just very lucky to have such a healthy body, and I can thank my parents for keeping me together mentally. I can thank Darrell Barnes for keeping me together physically. I can thank Marvin for everything. He really helped me. He helped me shape who I am today. I definitely would not be where I am today without his help. I would not have accomplished everything without his help, so he is definitely a major impact in my life along with my parents, my family and my friends back home who were able to keep me sane and a teenager, so that when I went to the gym I was a gymnast, and it was kind of nice to have that. And the injuries, obviously, they do happen, but it’s the mindset where you’re able to work forward and keep a positive attitude. With every injury I had, there were always those little moments where I was like, “Man, is this when I’m supposed to just cut the cord and call it quits?” And then it would be like, somebody would smack on the head and go, “Wake up. You’re not done.” And it was nice to have people like Darrell Barnes, like my parents, like Marvin, who were able to keep my spirits high, because obviously, when you’re in a sling after I had my shoulder surgery—I had never been in a sling in my life, and when I was in a sling for two months, it was like, “Excuse me? What?” And it was kind of eye-opening to me to think that I wasn’t able to use my arm, but I was still able to exercise and still able to do things, and that was kind of what made me realize I still wanted to keep going and there was nothing that was going to stop me.
BLYTHE: It seems like, in the last couple of years, you’ve pulled out some incredible performances after not having too much time to train because of injuries, and I’m talking about, you know, Pan Ams, when you did that thing to your toe and kind of split it open, or even the 2010 Worlds, and yet when the lights came down and the judges saluted you, you would go out and you would put on this performance that just really kind of made people’s jaws drop, because you looked like, you know, it was just like, oh, yeah, there’s no problem here.
BRIDGET: That is—I can honestly answer that because I had the mindset that, it didn’t matter how many routines I did beforehand, I knew in my mind that I could do it, and Marvin prepared me the proper way that I was feeling as good as I could that day, and I had done as many routines as I could to preform that day, and I’m—you know, I’m a competitor. When I get out onto the floor and am in front of a crowd, I know that it is my time to do my routine. I’m going to hit this routine, because I know I can. And I’m going to hit this routine, because my team depends on me. And having a team depend on you really kind of changes the game from, I’m not just doing this for myself but I’m doing this for my team. And obviously nobody ever wants to let down their team or let themselves down, let a coach down, so having that mindset of, “I’m going to do this because my team depends on me, because my coach depends on me, and because I want to do it for myself.” You know, when you’re out there in front of a crowd, you really just have to kind of grit your teeth and say, “No matter what is hurting me right now, it’s not going to get in the way of this routine.” So that’s kind of what I did after 2009, after I won in 2009 and then I started having these injuries, it kind of made me realize that if I really wanted to do this, if I really wanted to keep competing, I could if I thought positive and made sure that Marvin and I communicated. Communication was definitely key in my training, and being able to talk to him and make sure that if I was a little sore that day, maybe I’d drop the number down to instead of six, maybe I’d do four really good ones, instead of six really good ones. And it was kind of that communication that would helped me get to where I was supposed to be, and peak at that right time.
BLYTHE: I see. And how do you feel now, after three weeks of college meets? How is your body holding up? It’s a little different from having to prepare for World Championships, where it’s that one ten-day stretch.
BRIDGET: Right. It’s definitely been an adjustment, but I’m slowly figuring out that you need a little bit of recovery time after each meet, but it’s been a good change, and I’ve been able to kind of take each meet, relax a little bit after each meet, and then kind of get back into my routine. I was doing really good, you know, first semester, I figured out my training schedule, my school schedule, and I got into a routine. Well, now that we’re competing, I kind of have to change my routine, my daily routine and my weekend routine, but I’m still able to keep going and keep moving forward because, you know, competing three weekends in a row is like, wow. I don’t even remember the last time I competed three weekends in a row. But I’m slowly figuring out that, you know, when it comes Saturday, and we just had a home meet Saturday, I’m going to relax, I’m going to do homework, I’m going to just kind of chill, maybe talk to my parents and tell them how I’m doing, and then come back, on Sunday we have practice and it’s kind of like I’m recharged. And it definitely been a change, but it’s been a really good change, and I’m slowly figuring it out.
BLYTHE: Ok. And one thing that Florida, we kind of noticed over the last few years, is they come out very strong at the beginning of the season, and you guys almost always look like the team to beat at the NCAAs, and sometimes, because of injuries or what have you, it seems to drop off a little bit midseason and come back a little stronger towards the end of the season, for SECs, for NCAAs. And I’m just wondering how you guys are planning to peak yourselves, so that you peak right at the right time, around the NCAA Championships.
BRIDGET: You know, right now, we’re really just training like we would for any other meet. I know Rhonda, Rob, and Adrian talk constantly about the planning and it’s more of a trust in the coaches, you have to put into, in order to have a good season, and I know Florida might have, you know, we come so close sometimes, but at the same time, it’s having the trust in your coaches and realizing that they know what they’re talking about, they’re going to put the best people in at that right time, and again, as a freshman, I’m definitely putting my full trust in the coaches and in my team and we’ll just kind of see how the year goes, right now we’re definitely doing great, we’ve had a few mistakes here and there, but I think personally that it is great to get those out in the beginning so that by the time SECs and NCAAs come around, we’ll be, you know. We’ll be almost perfect. We’ll be ready. Our mind will be ready, we’ll be physically ready, our coaches have, you know, they do a great job with us every day, and they understand that school comes first, but at the same time, when we’re in the gym, we are gymnasts. When we walk out of the gym, we’re back to being students. So its definitely been an awesome, awesome season so far, and I think it’ll be a really great year for us.
BLYTHE: Ok. And, you know, a few weeks ago we interviewed Valorie Kondos-Field at UCLA, and she told us that several of her gymnasts are thinking about staying and competing through the 2016 Olympics, and we ask just about every elite that we have on the show, are you really done? Are you really done? Is there no chance you might come back?
BRIDGET: I’m pretty sure that my elite career is over, but you never know. I mean, I could come back and be 24 years old and just feel great and call up Marvin and be like, “Hey, you want to try again?” But [LAUGHS] I don’t know about that. We’ll kind of take it day by day and see how I feel, but coming to college I knew that I didn’t want to do elite and college, so as of right now, I’ve kind of closed the book on elite and I’m pretty much sticking with college, but again, you never know what’s going to happen, and I could come back, and you might see me again.
BLYTHE: Elite and college would be very, very difficult.
BLYTHE: Going just back to the 2012 Olympics process, did you have any regrets? I know it didn’t end so well for you at Trials.
BRIDGET: I do not. You know, I took a year off of school knowing that there’s always the possibility that something’s going to happen. Gymnastics is one of those sports. We…it’s almost like you take a risk every day. And when I was at Trials, and after I hurt my elbow and realized that I was done-done, at least for a good period of time, it was hard to digest at first, and then I realized, I have nothing that I would change. The memories that I have and the medals that I’ve earned and the experience I’ve had, that I’ve gotten to let my parents in on, and my family…it’s overwhelming to think about, but at the same time, it’s such a joy. You know, 2012 might not have been the absolute best year for me, but in the end I was able to end my elite career knowing that I would have the next four years be, you know, the best time of my life. People always say college will be the best four years of your life, and so far, I agree with them 100%. College has been amazing, and the team that I’m on, it’s just…it’s an incredibly group of girls, an incredibly staff, everybody that comes into the gym, we all know that they’re rooting for the Gators and it’s just awesome to be a part of such a legacy and a dynasty like that.
BLYTHE: Why did you decide on Florida, by the way? I’m sure you could have gone anywhere.
BRIDGET: There was just something about the campus here. Maybe it was the sunshine, and maybe it was the palm trees, maybe it was the great coaching staff or the team, but there was just a lot here at Florida that just I absolutely loved. And, you know, taking my visits, I went to the University of Georgia and the University of Utah, and I could honestly see myself at all three schools, but when I came on to the campus here at the University of Florida, there was just something about it that made me said, I can definitely see myself here. And it was one of those moments where I just walked on and said, I feel like I’m meant to be here. And when I walked on to the campus at UGA and at Utah, I loved it, there was nothing bad I could say about both, either schools, but when I walked on here at UF, it was like I was supposed to be here. There was something, even though orange might not be my most favorite color, there was something here that just said, you should definitely make your way here. The dorms are calling you. So, making my decision to come to here has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
BLYTHE: Awesome. And just, I have two last questions. They are actually from our Twitter fans, we say, “We’re interviewing Bridget Sloan, what do you want to ask her?” And the first question is, somebody said, “who is your best friend on the National Team?”
BRIDGET: Well, I have a lot of friends, I’m a very friendly person, so my best friends on the National Team would definitely be Alicia Sacramone for sure, the bond I have been able to create with her, you know, I’ve been able to talk to here, even in Florida. Samantha Peszek has also been a really close friend of mine and a teammate that I have kept in contact with, but really everyone on the National Team is still an impact on my life. They did something where it was like, we are going to be friends for the rest of our lives. But I guess my two best friends that were on the National Team were Samantha Peszek and Alicia Sacramone.
BLYTHE: Cool. And second question, how did you decide to keep certain of your elite skills, and do you play around with any fun skills in the gym?
BRIDGET: Keeping my elite skills was just always something that I wanted to do. When I came to college, talking about my routines with the coaches, with Rhonda, with Rob, with Adrian, it was kind of like, we could put all of my skills on a piece of paper, put them in a hat, and draw. And there were just certain skills that I absolutely love doing, and it was fun to play around with my routines and what I was going to do, and luckily I have enough skills that I could kind of change my routines here and there and put different skills in, switch them in and out, and that’s just kind of something that I love doing, and I’ve always been someone who likes to switch their routines around here and there, and coming to college I didn’t want to change that, so when I got here, I was able to sit down and kind of pick apart my routines and pick out the skills that I loved the most, and kind of make the best college routine possible.
BLYTHE: Cool. Oh, and I’m seeing a third Twitter question here. What is something you are excited to do in college that you could never do as an elite, gymnastics-related or not?
BRIDGET: Going to the football games, or really any athletic event here at college, has been so exciting. It’s been so different for me to be part of a college and have that college experience and go to the football games and go to the basketball games, and I’ll be sure to make an appearance and go to a baseball game, go to a lacrosse game, go to a—I’ve been to a swim meet already, but I’ll go to another one, and I definitely think the sporting events here, they’re so much fun, and I want to be a part of it.
BLYTHE: Nice. Well Bridget, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. Is there anything else you would like to add?
BRIDGET: Just, Go Gators!
SPANNY: We have experienced a fun week here in the NCAA this week. I’m just going to pick a couple of things to focus on assuming we have either all had a chance to watch the meets or read about scores.You don’t need the rundown from me. I’m going to start with the Quote of the Week. This is from the Florida meet. “Is that something you see often in collegiate gymnastics?” What are they talking about? Could it be a full in, double layout? It’s the perfect ten. Macko’s perfect ten. We never ever ever ever see 10s in NCAA gymnastics, now do we? Yeah the announcers tried to make it seem like that was the first time in history ever. Oddball Leotard of the Week goes to Nebraska. If you remember the Kristen Maloney all around in 2000, it was half that kind of tinfoil, half a kind of shiny deep red, a black stripe in the middle and then a swimsuit open back. It was just bizarre. Unexpected Choreography of the Week. I’m so used to just bashing on everybody’s routines that it was a very pleasant surprise: Kaylyn Millick from West Virginia. It was a clean and crisp and innovative routine. You kind of zone out while you’re watching some of these b-teams and she just showed up and I actually really loved her routine. Best Beam Music.
TIM: I have a question about that though. Did she also do the shotgun? Did she have the shotgun sound in her routine?
SPANNY: ….wildly inappropriate for being from West Virginia. You know the LSU Tiger girls will have the tiger roar or whatever
JESSICA: Isn’t West Virginia the school where the guy went in and shot everybody? Or was that Virginia Tech? That was West Virginia right?
TIM: Virginia Tech.
JESSICA: Virginia Tech. Ok same state. Different school.
SPANNY: Regardless, I just don’t think that’s necessary. Especially when it’s really pretty balletic music. It’s like ok I’m in position but when my music starts it’s “ba-boom.” Now we’re off and running. There was a discussion on Twitter about why it was what it was.
JESSICA: Does it have something to do with their mascot? Are they like the hunters or something?
SPANNY: I don’t remember. Best Beam Music. As we know, most home teams, the gymnasts will pick out a routine, or music for their beam routine. Georgia Dabritz uses John Mayer’s “Why Georgia”. I thought that was cheeky. Unless she falls in the routine. And then it becomes awkward. Leadoff of the Week goes to Lindsey Cheek from Georgia. Just solid on all routines. To be able to lead off Georgia seems like a daunting task. Speaking of Georgia, the team also gets my overscore of the week. I’ll always be eternally complaining about their scores but this one really was bad. Tanella on floor. First of all, I’m so impressed at the shape she’s in and the energy level she’s had this season. It’s like watching an entirely different gymnast. That said, she did a Barani to stag jump and she all but landed out of bounds. You could see from halfway through the tumbling pass that this wasn’t going to pan out for her. You know, it was a step out of bounds and it was obviously off center and there were other deductions. She still got a 9.9! And no out of bounds deduction! Kevin Copp, the announcer, didn’t say anything about it because there was no flag. Apparently it would have been a 10.0 routine had she not wildly landed out of bounds. And miraculously, Georgia got the exact number to reach the 197 they were determined to get.
JESSICA: And I just want to say about this, some people think that when we talk about this stuff that we’re like blaming the gymnasts. I was talking to somebody and I was like why would you ever think that? The gymnast just does their routine. They have nothing to do with it. It was kind of pissing me off. Like, I don’t usually let this kind of stuff piss me off. The gymnast is not who we’re talking about. It’s the judges and for whatever reason the floor person is supposed to put the flag up didn’t put it up. That’s who we’re talking about. This has nothing to do with Tanella. So that’s it. I just want to [makes noise].
SPANNY: In very few situations, do I actually have a personal thing against a gymnast or anything they do. It’s subjective. It’s everything around them. So please don’t take it personally. And Jess, I believe you also have a couple of things.
JESSICA: So I was watching Kytra Hunter’s 9.9 beam routine, and her routine is just amazing. She would have had a 10 if she had not shuffled her dismount and I also love that leo. I love the leo that looks like they’re wearing a second skin. It’s black and had little purple sparkles on the arm and neck, and I totally love it!
SPANNY: Sorry was that from last night?
SPANNY: I didn’t think it was very pink but I appreciate the simplicity.
JESSICA: Exactly. I can’t stand the whole pink thing. It makes me actually angry because I feel like it’s a giant waste of money. If you’re trying to fight cancer, then how about you donate the money you spent on those ugly leotards to research or to handing out fliers to show people how to do a self-breast exam. It makes me so freaking angry. Just wear one piece of pink. You don’t have to turn the whole place pink. It pisses me off. Anyway, I could go on and on about that. No, I will go on and on about this. I just want to say that this is like the Lance Armstrong rubber bands. It started off that if you bought those, the money actually went towards cancer research which is fantastic. That’s like the only good thing about him. But now we have this whole thing where people buy and wear your pink t shirt and wear this and wear that and none of the money goes towards fighting cancer. It totally defeats the whole purpose and it pisses me off. Anywho, I’m fired up this morning. This is one thing. I was watching the Alabama Georgia meet and the Dads lead the YMCA before the last rotation which is cute. But I always wondered. I just think it’s weird that gymnastics always has so much involvement from the parents. I think it’s really weird because these are adults. They’re not children. I’m always wondering whose parents can live in the same city where you go to college or can afford to fly in to every single home meet. I just feel like it leaves people out and I was wondering what about the people from another country. It always kind of bothers me that they do that kind of stuff. Maybe that’s just me. Am I the only one to ever think that?
SPANNY: No I always wonder. And with Florida, they have the creepy heads that they put on the stick and they make dance around. They’re gigantic so whoever is sitting behind Macko’s mom who has got a huge cut out of her daughter’s head, now two daughters heads, is SOL because they’re stuck behind the big dancing head of one of the competing gymnasts that they came to try and watch. That always seemed bizarre and a little over the top to me. That said, it’s a parent’s pride.
JESSICA: Yeah I mean I love the idea of Dads leading everyone in the YMCA. It’s just the idea of them having to be Dads and actually getting there. That part. From the LSU Alabama meet, Sarah DeMeo, I’m just in love with her. She is just gorgeous. Her gymnastics is gorgeous. And she is just looking amazing. On bars, she’s doing a layout full out stuck it. Double pike dismount off beam. Double pike!!! Hello! It’s been like ‘97 since we’ve seen that kind of stuff in NCAA in gymnastics. I feel like NCAA has gone watered down in the last two years. And people are finally starting to do three series and four series on beam again. But let me just tell you, giving DeMeo techno floor music is criminal. It is criminal. I am issuing a gymnastics citation to Alabama. Officially, I would make a gymnastics citizen arrest if I could. It’s disgusting. It’s an atrocity. It’s a crime against humanity. I did really appreciate the girl from Alabama who had a hickey on her neck and did a bar routine with a hickey. I swear they got a close up of that on purpose. And she definitely tried to cover it up with some make up. We’ve all been there. I felt for her. It was funny and she had a great attitude about it. She was like yes I know my hickey’s on tv. I’m gonna rock this bar routine right now and you can all suck it. So that was fantastic. Jessica Savona from Canada is killing it, killing it! She looks amazing. Seriously, I swear to God, it looks like her gymnastics is in fast forward when she tumbles. She is doing the Yetsova on bars, Barani backwards to the low bar. It’s so freaking cool. Did someone from Oregon do that before? It’s rare to see that in NCAA. She’s also doing a 2.5 into a double back on floor as her first pass. She’s doing a full in and a double pike in that routine. It might a 1.5 to a double back in that first pass but it’s freaking awesome. I’m putting it out there right now that she’s going to be in floor finals in April.
TIM: So we haven’t talked about men’s NCAA gymnastics very much. If you haven’t been watching, which you can’t really watch because there are no live streams, but to get you up to date. Penn State has been posting some of the biggest scores every week but Stanford, Oklahoma, and Michigan are coming on strong as well. So it’ll be interesting at the end of the year and as of today, Sam Mikulak has not competed as of yet which could also garner a few extra tenths for Michigan here and there. To talk about a couple of the men’s NCAA routines, I have a theme which is Death. Just because if you’ve ever watched NCAA men’s gymnastics, there are sometimes some scary moments. But sometimes, there are good ones too. And the first one I’m calling “Le Petit Moi” and this goes to Ellis Mannon of the University of Minnesota. And on high bar, he does a very different dismount. If you watched the Olympics, you saw a lot of double twisting double layouts. But he does a double tuck forward so front double tuck with 1.5 twists which is super interesting. Question for you guys. What do you think that dismount is worth?
JESSICA: It’s gotta be like an F.
SPANNY: It’s probably not anything. It’s probably like a D. And it’s woefully undervalued.
TIM: Yes, it’s a D. Then my near death goes to Adrian Evans on rings. He was competing and he was going for his dismount and his hand slipped off the ring and he actually was able to do a double back out of it even though his hand slipped off the ring. And he did a double back. And the coach in me just came out when I saw that happening. I was like MOTHER TRUCKER. I like ran and put my arms out like I could save him through the computer screen. It was actually kind of entertaining. And my final one is called death wish. And it goes to Landon Funicello of William and Mary. Let me set this up for you. The Gymnastike clip tells you what the vault is going to be. It’s going to be a Tsuk full tuck. And you see, before Landon ever gets to the vault, you see the coach crouching down on the mat and in my head I’m thinking oh no this can’t be good. The coach is there for the gymnast’s safety. In my head, Chopin’s funeral march is going through my head. [hums Funeral March] Then he does a Tsuk double back and thankfully lands on his feet, his chest really low and everything. Then his teammates are being all bros and cheering and yelling. I feel like they’re cheering about the fact that he actually landed on his feet rather than that he did a really good vault. It’s a sad day when you’re cheering for somebody who landed on his feet. I feel like he probably needs a couple more numbers in the gym so that vault becomes a little more consistent. So those are my three routines that I’d like to highlight this week.
JESSICA: We will for sure put these up because every single one of these I watch and every one I either gasp out loud or clutch my heart while I was watching these. Then I made my husband watch. They’re excellent picks. Alright Spanny. What’s happening with listener feedback?
SPANNY: We got great feedback on our prevention of rips discussion from last week. A couple of people wrote us to say that they’re secret to rip prevention and treatment is Preparation H, the butt cream. Which I guess makes sense if it brings down inflammation, I don’t know. Allison Taylor wrote us and used the hashtag #buttcreampower. And then it was backed up by several different people who tweeted us and were like guess what I use? Butt cream. Interesting. So if you’re having a problem with rips, buy some Preparation H.
JESSICA: We also had somebody on the website put a link to an ancient Chinese remedy which is you take an egg and you pull the membrane and you use that as a replacement for the skin. So you put it on top of the rip. That’s actually genius. That’s what it is. That’s probably the closest to real skin. Very interesting. I never thought about that.
ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: Visit elitesportzband.com, that’s sportz with a z and save $5 on your next purchase using the code Gymcast. That’s it for us this week. I want to mention one thing. I listen to this show called Girl on Guy which is Aisha Tyler who does a show called The Talk. But in real life she’s like a super nerdy, punk rock, video playing awesome, like I just love her. She’s a comedian. She does a think called the apologia at the end of every episode. And sometimes there’s something that bothers me that I keep going over in my head and I want to mention something about it before the next episode because I wonder if other people are thinking the same thing that I’m thinking. So I’m going to do one of those this week and that is that last week we talked about Bekah’s gym blog, vlog that she’s doing and I’m really enjoying. She’s doing a really great job and she’s putting clips in there of the videos. You have to do that. That’s the whole point. And I was thinking about IG’s video log that they’re doing but they don’t have any video clips. And are people going to think I’m totally hating on them? But the thing about IG (Inside Gymnastics) is that they have money and they would get in big copyright trouble if they did the same thing that somebody like Bekah, who I’m assuming doesn’t have a ton of money to go after, if they were to take all the clips. I mean they would have to a) pay for all the clips to put them up there which maybe they don’t have in their budget to do and Bekah doesn’t. It’s one of those things that unless it’s put out there for free on YouTube by the school, it’s a copyright issue. So I just want Evan to know that I really enjoyed your second episode and you’re super cute and please tweet more pictures of you with your shirt off. Because we all enjoyed those very much. Did you see his Halloween costume? He’s totally still rocking a six pack. Oh yeah you should totally check it out. Anywho, that’s my apologia for the week. We have a Gym Nerd Challenge of the Month. We’re trying to come up with gym fan challenges. Gym Nerd Challenge of the Month is to take someone’s gymnastics meet virginity. That’s right. We want you to take a friend to a gymnastics meet who has never been before and then send us a pic. This is my friend and I’m trying to make them into a fan. And here we are at this gymnastics meet. Take them to an NCAA meet. Take them to a level 7 meet. Take them to a level 10 meet. That’s our challenge for you. We’re trying to grow the sport and get more fans. Remember you can always find us on Twitter or Facebook and you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can leave us a message on Gym Line. You can ask us anything on Gymline. It’s 415-800-3191. Or you can find us on Skype and call us that way. It’s GymCastic Podcast is the name. You can support the show by checking out our shop online where you can shop through Powell’s bookstore for regular gymnastics books or through Amazon. And we love iTunes reviews. Thank you to everyone who’s done that. It really helps us out. So for GymCastic, I’m Jessica O’Beirne from masters-gymnastics.com.
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner
SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile
TIM: And Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: See ya next week!
[[EXIT MUSIC: “That’s Not My Name” by the Ting Tings]]