BETH: Actually as I got older, it was to my advantage because I learned a lot of my skills with my body at the size and shape that I am now so I didn’t sort of have to suddenly at the age of 16, 17 when my body changed, relearn a lot of the stuff which I think a lot of gymnasts do.
JESSICA: This week, we talk about the rise of the United States Gymnastics Federation, the AAU scandal, preview of the American Cup, and we chat with Beth Tweddle.
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 Sportz Band. Visit elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: This is Episode 22 for February 27, 2013. I’m Jessica from Masters Gymnastics
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from The Gymnastics Examiner
SPANNY: Spanny from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile
UNCLE TIM: Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: And this is the best and only gymnastics podcast in the world starting with the top news stories. Blythe, what’s going on this week?
BLYTHE: Alright well this week, everybody is talking about it. It’s the American Cup. It’s the first big international meet of the year after the Olympic Games. And you know, there’s a lot of shifting going on. As of right now, the men’s field is complete. The women’s field lacks two gymnasts according to the official American Cup website. And so let’s just start with the guys first of all. We have two strong members of the US Olympic Team, Danell Leyva and Jake Dalton. A newcomer from Japan in Hiroki Ishikawa. Jorge Hugo Giraldo Lopez from Columbia, the two time Olympian. And he is something. He’s in his early 30’s and he’s something else. He just keeps pounding out great gymnastics, fabulous on pommel horse, fabulous on parallel bars. Watch him on those two events. Germany’s Marcel Nguyen, the Olympic silver medalist, he’ll be there. He was really dominant in the World Cups leading up to the 2013 season and it’ll be interesting to see if these guys can challenge him. One who could challenge him is Brazil’s Sergio Sasaki. He is still a pretty young guy although he has a few years of international experience behind him. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Brazilians really look to him as the new leader of their team going into this quad where Brazil will of course end up hosting the 2016 Olympics. Great Britain’s Kristian Thomas will be there and Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev will be there as well.
BLYTHE: Very very promising young gymnast. Who are you guys excited to see?
JESSICA: Well you know how I feel about Oleg so that’s number one!
BLYTHE: And he’s got some amazing skills as well. I wouldn’t be surprised, you know traditionally the American Cup has seemed slanted towards the Americans. Of course they’re confident. They’re in their home arena. They’re playing to their own crowd. But he is just such an incredible gymnast. And I’m sure he’s very hungry for it. He’s a young guy. He’s got great tradition behind him, very beautiful gymnastics. And it wouldn’t surprise me. If he can just stay clean, if he can just hit his routines. They’re very difficult. I think he could sneak in there and take it.
JESSICA: Oh not wait! This is the wrong Oleg!
BLYTHE: You like Oleg Stepko. The little dude.
JESSICA: I feel like a total pedophile because I just said that. Oh my God! I totally take it back.
BLYTHE: I feel like Vernaiaiv is older than Stepko.
JESSICA: Is he?!
BLYTHE: Yeah! Maybe. I’ll look it up.
JESSICA: I like the beefy one that made vault finals at the Olympics and rings. Right? Yeah.
BLYTHE: That’s not Oleg Stepko either. That’s Igor Radivilov.
JESSICA: That’s right! (laughs) I’m sorry.
UNCLE TIM: All those Ukrainians, they’re just the same.
JESSICA: Yes, I just like those beefy Ukrainians. Anywho, carry on. Carry on. I’m ready to go on now. Spanny, anyone you’re interested in seeing?
SPANNY: I’m interested to see how Danell shapes out. I know the Winter Cup wasn’t his premiere showing. But I think he has it in him. He’s got that showmanship quality. When there’s money on the line, I think he’s going to show up. I don’t know why I said that, but that’s what I think.
UNCLE TIM: I anticipate waking up on Saturday and reaching for the vodka to immediately calm my nerves. I don’t know why. Danell makes me so nervous. It’s like watching Amanda Borden back in the day on balance beam or Mattie Larson nowadays on pretty much anything. There just seems be this mental block and it’s really hard for him to go 6 for 6. I really hope he’s able to do that. I’m excited for Marcel. I feel like he could actually probably win it. I wish that his gymnastics were kind of as slick and stylish as his haircut. It tends to be a little sloppy. I look forward to seeing Marcel.
JESSICA: I kind of want to see if he uses makeup to cover his tattoo and if so, if it stays on the whole meet or if when he gets sweaty, it’s like drizzle and by the end, he’s got like half a tattoo going on. And I think we talked about his tattoo. It says “Pain is temporary. Glory is forever.” Something like that right? So I’m looking forward to that and I’m looking forward to hearing millions of girls screaming their heads off for him. Because I think they’ll be more for him than anyone else competing really. So that’s always good times.
BLYTHE: Marcel is the babe magnet. And last year, I went to New York for the American Cup and stayed with a friend who doesn’t watch gymnastics or know anything about gymnastics. I treated her to tickets to the meet as a thank you for staying in her apartment. And she came with a friend. And about halfway through the meet, I got a text message and she goes who is that guy from Germany?! He’s gorgeous! I’m watching gymnastics at the Olympics because of him! And that’s very cool because it’s Marcel and Marcel did very well in London. Yes, this is how you pull your non gymnastics friends into the sport of it.
JESSICA: That’s right!
UNCLE TIM: It’s kind of a question of who’s going to be Sexy Alexei’s heir right? Because is it Marcel Nguyen or is it Jake Dalton? Because I feel like either of them, if they pulled down their singlet a lot, they’re going to get a standing ovation at the American Cup. I don’t know. Who do you think? Is it Marcel or is it Jake?
JESSICA: [gasps] Who is it?
BLYTHE: No I don’t know. I don’t think that we’ve seen that person yet. I mean can you think of anybody who….
JESSICA: has the universal appeal that Alexei did.
SPANNY: You are all forgetting Philipp Boy. I’m ashamed of all of you!
JESSICA: But he’s done! He’s done!
SPANNY: Girl needs to eat. He’s alive. He’s still very much fresh in my memory. He’s not retired in my head at all.
BLYTHE: He’s not retired in your heart?
SPANNY: That’s right. First place.
UNCLE TIM: Alright, before we turn into our New Years show again, what about those women huh?
BLYTHE: What about the women? Well right now, the women’s field is a little bit incomplete. They have six competitors at the moment. And we know that there is kind of a national team camp/selection camp taking place perhaps at this moment at the Karolyi Ranch in Texas to determine who’s going to be that second American woman. There is actually another spot as well that is up for grabs. It appears that Koko Tsurumi of Japan has dropped out although her teammate Asuka Teramoto will be competing. And so I don’t know. Who do you guys think? You have two slots open. Who do you want to see?
SPANNY: I would really, if we’re going to go with the second American spot, I’m gunning for Simone Biles.
SPANNY: I’ve been excited about her for a few years now. If we’ll go back, we’ll journey back to 2010 and it was a similar situation where Ivana Hong was supposed to have that second spot. Unfortunately she busted her knee up at camp and it was an eleventh hour substitution with Aly Raisman. And suffice to say, she did pretty well throughout the quad. I would like to see it go to someone who is like a breakout star, who could really use the performance experience and build up over the next few years. So that’s why I’m gunning for Biles.
JESSICA: I would love to see Simone Biles too because she is everything. I was actually thinking about her today and she’s like if you have the performance quality of like Podkopayeva with the explosiveness of Produnova. She’s got it and she’s so fun to watch and she’s such an entertainer. She’s going to be a huge star. She’s going to be a World Champion one day. I’m just saying that right now. So I would love to see her. I also think that hello, they should have alternates for this. It’s not fair to the athletes to be like ok train like crazy and with absolutely no notice, you’re going to go to this huge World Cup meet, because now it’s a World Cup. I just don’t think that’s fair. They should have alternates. You should know who’s going to be picked. I would hate it if I was a coach and I did not have that warning. It’s not safe for the athletes to be basically competition ready for like three or four months in a row. They need to have breaks. They need to cycle on and off. You want to stop the overuse injuries. So I don’t care for this no alternates business.
UNCLE TIM: Personally, I want to see them add someone from another country who can beat an American. And let me explain why. I’m going to get slaughtered for saying this on here. But since Tasha Schwikert won in 2002, an American woman has won this meet every year which obviously brings out the conspiracy theorists in a lot of people. And so I feel like some other country needs to win. I’m just so over Americans winning this meet. I’m hoping for the sake of the integrity of this meet, that somebody else wins.
JESSICA: Like someone who trains here but is not from here?
UNCLE TIM: Pardon. I mean a foreigner who could beat an American.
JESSICA: Oh beat! I thought you meant be. It’s an international citizen [laughs] Citizen of the world! I have to mention that note Jessica Lopez reminds me a lot of little Laurie Hernandez. I don’t even know if she’s at the camps. If she is right now, she is freaking amazing. Total star. Like if no one’s ready to be the next world champion, like if Ohashi isn’t ready or whatever, send someone out who’s going to electrify the crowd. Just like the next little, the way Korbut did back in the day. Everyone will be talking about the performance. Give us that you know! That’s what I’d like to see.
BLYTHE: The thing about this year’s American Cup is that it’s got to be a senior who does it because it is an FIG World Cup Event so no sneaking in juniors our outstanding juniors like Jordyn Wieber in 2009. So it narrows the field a little bit.
JESSICA: Oh this following the rules nonsense. See, this is why it wasn’t a real World Cup all those years.
SPANNY: When was that, I wanna say they had like a field of 8 and there were like 4, was this 2008, where they had 4 Americans…
BLYTHE: Oh yeah that was 2007 I think right? You had Shayla Worley and Samantha Peszek and Shawn and Nastia
UNCLE TIM: I think that’s still when you had qualifying session no?
JESSICA: Qualifying…Speaking of qualifying, there was an award given out this year. Uncle Tim, will you tell us about that?
UNCLE TIM: Sure! So the FIG gave out their first award called the Most Commendable Program and it went to the British Gymnastics. Congratulations, British Gymnastics! They won a prize of 15,000 Swiss francs, which is roughly $16,000. And the way they decide it is kind of based on how involved with FIG sanctioned events you are. So do you go to the Artistic World Championships? Do you go to the Rhythmic World Championships? Do you go to the Trampoline, the Acro, the Aerobic World Championships? And you can also get deductions for things like doping and lack of respect in financial matters, not meeting deadlines, things like that. Probably getting kicked out like North Korea, those kind of things. And so it was interesting to see the list. Great Britain as I said was first. Belarus was second. France was third. Russia was fourth. And Germany was fifth. The United States was 14th, behind countries like Kazakhstan. So yeah that’s just something to think about.
JESSICA: I love that GB won because I think they have really incorporated, they took this Olympics and they were like we’re going to incorporate every single thing and bring everyone in society into our sport. They incorporated adult gymnastics, parkour, the gymstrada, like there’s something for everyone. Incorporating parkour and freerunning, that’s genius! You already have those guys show up at adult gymnastics class and all those women that show up wanting to set up obstacles and use the bars like they’re the side of buildings. I think they totally deserve this. In other news, Time Magazine, you guys are going to have to bear with me here ok. Time Magazine put out an article this week, actually it’s like they made the entire issue of their magazine this one article. It’s called Why Medical Bills are Killing Us and it is by Steven Brill and the reason this is so important and why I think all gym owners and gymnasts and parents should read this is because how much are medical costs are translates to how much our liability insurance costs in the US. So in the US we have liability laws so you can hold someone accountable for an accident. And in turn, when insurance, when you go to the hospital and insurance pays the hospital for whatever happened to you, the insurance doesn’t like to pay that. They want to find someone else to pay it. So you get this nice letter that’s like you know we’re so sorry about your injury. We want to make sure that whoever is responsible for this pays. Can you tell us how exactly you were injured? And then you’ll say oh I was at gymnastics and it was totally my own fault. And then they’ll go to your gym, and they will try to get your gym’s insurance to pay for that. And in turn, then the gym’s costs for liability insurance can go up and then can affect whether or not the gym wants to take the risk of having a class like a trampoline class or a parkour class or an adult gymnastics class or if they want to have elite gymnasts because they get hurt a lot. So this article is shocking, shocking, shocking. It basically follows a couple of different medical bills and shows why they’re so incredibly insanely expensive and I’ll just give you one example. They talk about acetaminophen tablet which is like Tylenol cost is 1 ½ cents. That’s actual cost. But the hospital marks it up. Are you ready for this? This is not an accident what I’m about to say. The hospital marks it up to the patient 10,000%. Not 100%. Not 1000, 10,000%. So everyone of us in the United States should be outraged after reading this and we should try to make something change, something happen because if that happens, it will translate to more gyms having more gymnastics classes and not having to worry so much about their insurance costs. Ok that’s the end of my rant for this week. Did that make sense?
JESSICA: Uncle Tim has a special treat for us this week. I have been waiting…you guys have heard me talk about this a bazillion times which is the rise of USGF or the AAU scandal as I like to call it. So let’s check in now. Uncle Tim, last time we checked in with you, you mentioned AAU’s beginnings. So can you tell us about the AAU’s demise?
UNCLE TIM: Dum Dum Dum! Yes I can! So the AAU’s demise really started because the NCAA was ticked off. In the 1950’s the AAU was governing all the gymnastics meets in the United States, including the NCAA meets which is a little bit different than what’s going on nowadays. And the thing is, at the time, the NCAA coaches had no representation among the AAU officials. And if you’ve ever studied American history you know that is a big no-no. You know there’s that whole thing called no taxation without representation. So the NCAA coaches were already all like no no no! We are preparing the gymnasts that eventually represent the United States. These are primarily male gymnasts and lots of them did go on to world competition. If we don’t have something to say in the organization, we are going to start our own. Don’t do us like that!
JESSICA: So did they start their own organization then, the NCAA coaches?
UNCLE TIM: Um kind of. So what ended up happening was the USGF was formed, or the United States Gymnastics Federation. And Jess, do you know where that started?
JESSICA: Um it was like in some guy’s basement or his garage or something.
UNCE TIM: Yeah! So starting in 1962, the USGF’s headquarters were located in Frank Bare’s house, which if I recall correctly, was in Arizona. And it’s kind of like the podcast, in the sense that it started at your house, Jess. And so I’m saying there’s a chance for us. Anyway, so they also started with a very modest budget of roughly $35,000.
JESSICA: That would be awesome if we had that budget. So how did they get that money? Where did it come from? Did they steal it out of the coffers of these scandalous AAU?
UNCLE TIM: No they patented both the rhinestone and crushed velvet leotard…..I’m just kidding. So the NCAA gave them some starter money. So yeah. Anything else you want to know Jess?
JESSICA: Yes! How did the USGF get recognized by the FIG? Because before, the AAU was recognized by the FIG but then it switched right?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah exactly. So right away, right after they started in 1962, the USGF started hosting meets. In 1963, they hosted the first national meet. They also started hosting international meets. In addition, they sold a lot of copies of the Code of Points which the FIG produces and they hosted the only international judges course for men ever held in the US, again run by the FIG. So basically they did a lot of butt-kissing. We’re talking Melissa from Dance Moms level, if you’ve ever seen that show. And it ended up working though. In 1970 in Yugoslavia, the FIG recognized the USGF as the official governing body in the United States. So 1970 was the big year for USGF.
JESSICA: Wow. So let’s see. Is there anything else that came out of this, your research that you did on this?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah so while I was doing this, I read a lot of articles and there’s even a book about it. But one article stood out in my mind and it was from a 1982 issue of International Gymnast. And they predicted that the problem of representation that I was talking about would pop up again. Frank Bare said quote “The coaches will find themselves wondering once again how it happened that those who control the sport now are not active coaches. And someone once said, history repeats itself. Could it be so for gymnastics?” And obviously, none of us can speak for the coaches, but I’m curious what you think. Do you guys think that former or current coaches should be in charge of gymnastics federations whether it be British Gymnastics or the USAG or the FIG? What are your thoughts?
JESSICA: This totally makes me think immediately about USAG right now. And I guess yeah, I mean we have a president, or CEO, who’s not a gymnast, has nothing to do with gymnastics. And then we had Kathy Kelly who also had nothing to do with gymnastics. Wasn’t a coach or a gymnast. And they held the most important positions. Kathy Kelly’s now gone but Steve Penny’s still there.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah I’m just trying to think how coaches who are full time coaches currently would actually have time to be the president of a giant organization or something like that. And while I was at the Winter Cup I actually got to meet some of the USAG workers. For instance I met Lisa Mendel. She is in charge of the men’s program, running the events and stuff. And she was just fantastic, she was the nicest woman ever. And so I feel like if you have people like that who I don’t think she has much experience with men’s gymnastics, obviously she was never a former male gymnast. But I think if you have people like that running it, I think it can be great. Yeah I’m just trying to think of if it’s a question of do you have to understand everything about the sport in order to be able to run an organization.
JESSICA: And I guess the whole thing comes down to representation too, like you’re saying. Does it matter if these people weren’t former gymnasts or coaches as long as they are taking into consideration the gymnasts and the coaches. And I think you have some coaches like running their gyms but kind of retiring into these positions. And we definitely have the majority of USAG is definitely coaches and gymnasts. But yeah, it’s interesting.
JESSICA: We are very proud to tell you that this interview with Beth Tweddle is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. And it’s apropos that we’re interviewing Beth Tweddle and Tumbl Trak is sponsoring it because Beth is one of the queens of bars. And I remember back when I had one of the original prototypes in the gym I was training in when Tumbl Trak first started. And we kept looking at this weird looking cut off black trampoline with red sides on it that was right next to the bars and had a bar on top of the trampoline. And we were like what is that crazy looking thing. And then we discovered that you could do magical things on it. And we discovered that even if we couldn’t do a giant yet or a tkachev, we could learn the most fun insane drills on it. And I even had a friend that learned a tkachev in one day from that thing. She learned lots of things in one day. But seriously it looks so fun so I love to play on it and I love to pretend like I could someday also do a tkachev but at least I could do the super fun drills. And I still love to use it when I go to adult gymnastics class. Thank you Tumbl Trak for sponsoring this interview with Beth. Remember that you can find Tumbl Trak and their fabulous frame bar at tumbltrak.com.
JESSICA: Next is our interview with Beth Tweddle. We are so excited to have her on the show. And she is… if you don’t know her, you must look up her routines. She’s absolutely amazing. She won her first, that’s right I said her first World Championship when she was 21. She won a World on bars. Then she went on to win again. Then she went on to become a floor world champion in her mid 20s despite having a serious foot injury because her and her coach are so incredibly smart about her training plan. And then she won the bronze on bars at the London Olympics at the young age of 27. And she does one of the most difficult bar routines in the world, connecting basically her entire, every single skill in her routine almost. She is incredible and she is a testament to what smart training can do. And she talks a lot about that in this interview. So I hope you guys enjoy it.
JESSICA: Ok so, the most important question to start with: are you getting confident enough to try a backflip or layout stepout on ice skates yet?
BETH: So in week 4, we had school disco week. You had to pick a track from [inaudible]. So I had “5,6,7,8” from Steps. And we actually did a tuck back on the ice then. Obviously it wasn’t on my own, but my partner kindo f just had his hands behind my back just to protect me. So I’ve tried out that and I’ve tried a layout on the ice. But other than that, I haven’t tried much else.
JESSICA: That’s so exciting! Do you think the layout stepout might make it into the routine for the finale? I mean you don’t have to give anything away. I know it’s like, you know.
BETH: It’s really difficult. We have a lot of tricks, and we’ve still got a lot of tricks in the bag. But it just kind of depends what music you get for the final or semi final, depending where I make it up to in the competition.
JESSICA: Oh so you guys don’t pick the music?
BETH: Yeah it depends on what goes with the music. So if you’ve got a nice slow bit, a tuck back or a layout doesn’t really fit in with the music. And then this week we’ve got props week so I’ve got hula hoop which is really restrictive.
BETH: I do obviously, normally I have [inaudible] to do any lifts, and then suddenly I’ve got to have hula hoops. So all the lifts and tricks I’m doing this week, I’ve got to make sure that one, it’s not too dangerous that if I step on the hula hoop I’ll kill myself. Two, it doesn’t get in the way.
SPANNY: So with the hula hoops, what I immediately had in my head was that you were hula hooping on the ice. But are you using it in that way or kind of like a rhythmic hoop, like will you toss it in the air?
BETH: A bit of a mixture. So we do obviously the show’s skating steps would be hula hoop. So myself and Dan, we’re connected by the hula hoop, showing my skating steps. Then we do some lifts where either the hula hoop is attached around my neck or around his neck then I’m connected in some way. Then I do do a little bit of hula hoop halfway through the routine.
SPANNY: That sounds like a death trap to me [laughs] just being on the ice. I mean that sounds scarier to me than the layout stepout would be, is trying to skate with a big hoop around your neck.
BETH: You know it’s been quite a scary week because literally I’ve stepped on it a couple of time and I’ve just gone flying on my face. And then a couple of lifts I do, I do one where I wrap around and I have to put the hoop onto my feet, and I’ve completely missed my feet and hit Dan in the head with it. So it hasn’t been our friend, but hopefully by Sunday night it will be.
SPANNY: I’m excited to see it. And I just [laughs] hope that it goes well because again, that sounds scary.
BETH: It is. And also you never know what’s going to happen. It’s so inconsistent.
SPANNY: Right. I suppose that’s what’s exciting about skating. In a previous interview, you mentioned that you do not, no wedgies in skating, which is a blessing. But you mentioned a tights hook thing. How… I’m having a hard time picturing this.
BETH: Obviously in gymnastics everyone knows that’s a gymnast’s worst fear, so get a wedgie up their bum.
BETH: So that was my first question when I went to costume. We actually wear tights or fishnets underneath the costume. Obviously I can’t glue the costume straight to my skin, so instead they put hooks on the bottom of the costume which then attach to my fishnets. So the costume can’t ride up.
SPANNY: But they’re not like sharp hooks right?
BETH: No no. Like if you have a dress and you’ve got a zip, and it has that hook and eye.
SPANNY: Oh, ok.
BETH: It’s like that. So it’s not sharp or anything. It’s just sewn to the ends of the fishnets.
SPANNY: Ok that seems better. In my head I was like is it a fishhook? That doesn’t seem safe.
BETH: [laughs] No no
SPANNY: Do you think there’s any way that we could make this work for gymnastics? I mean I guess we can’t really compete with tights.
BETH: Um, no not really because we don’t wear tights or anything so we wouldn’t have anywhere to hook it onto.
SPANNY: We’ve got all sorts of other devices to keep from the dreaded wedgie, so we can keep experimenting.
BETH: Yeah it’s just the glue spray for the wedgies.
SPANNY: Right, yeah exactly. Are there any other… so obviously skating fashion is different from gymnastics fashion. It seems a bit more detailed and extensive. Are there any other skating fashion trends that you’d like to see applied to gymnastics?
BETH: I think it’s really difficult, because obviously with the skating it’s all about the music and how your costume fits to the music and how your skills fit to the music. Whereas obviously we’ve got four apparatus. So obviously you’d look at costume to match to the routine on floor to music, but then it would totally get in the way maybe on bars or beam. And there’s a very sort of strict sort of what you can wear with the leotard, whereas obviously in skating you can have a catsuit, you can have shorts and a crop top, you can have. So there’s so many different variations. So I don’t think you can really cross it into gymnastics. But the attention to detail with the skating costume is just unbelievable.
SPANNY: Oh I can imagine. I mean, it’s yeah it’s incredible. Not only the cut but all that they put into it.
BETH: That’s my favorite of the week. On Friday we get to see our costume, and obviously they check – on Saturday morning we have dress rehearsal – so I get to check whether the costume fits. And then if it needs any slight alterations, they have people on site that will either add hooks or they’ll take it in slightly. So it always fits perfectly for the night.
SPANNY: So you’ve been happy with everything they’ve presented to you? Is there any situation that they’d be like, “Here, wear this,” and it would be so horrifying that you’d say no?
BETH: No, they kind of on the first weeks that we were here, they asked was there anything I wasn’t happy wearing. And I was quite laid back about it. I was like well, if I’m going to embrace this show, I might as well try everything out. So I’ve been quite laid back about what they give me, and actually I’ve loved all my costumes.
SPANNY: Well good. And I think it does give you an opportunity to try new things, and people can see you outside of just the normal leotards.
BETH: It’s been really nice. I said to them I wanted to try and get away from – obviously I am a gymnast by nature – but I wanted to try to get away from straight back hair, ponytail, just leotard look. So they have completely changed my look every single week which has been really nice to sort of see a different character.
SPANNY: Right. That’s fun.
JESSICA: So we were talking to, we had Jenni Pinches on the show two weeks ago, and then I was talking to Danusia last night and I was like “we’re interviewing Beth what should we ask her oh my gosh tell us everything about her!” So and they both told me that you use sudocrem on your hands for bars. And of course I look this up and I’m like what is this stuff? And [laughs] the description says “the nation’s favorite nappy rash cream.” [laughs] So can you tell us what this is and how you use it?
BETH: [laughs] It’s not a good advertisement actually. But I got recommended it by someone. I used to get really sore wrists obviously from my hand guards and my wrist bands. So I just tried it one session and it just stops the friction between the tape and the hand guards. So it’s primarily in this country known for nappy rash and putting on babies’ bums. But it works on hand guards as well, or on your wrists. [laughs]
JESSICA: So do you use it on your hands too? Or just on your wrists?
BETH: No just on my wrists. I don’t use it on my hands. Unless if I get a rip on my hands, I’ll use it after training when I’m just at home. But I wouldn’t train with sudocrem on my hands. Only on my wrists.
JESSICA: Ok. Very good. This is important clarification because I was like oh my God, this is the secret, everyone’s going to start doing this, like China and Russia are going to sell out of this nappy cream stuff. Oh my God. Ok. This is very good to know.
SPANNY: Butt cream on bars, pretty much
BETH: Is that all they had to say about me? That I wore sudocrem?
JESSICA: No, no! Actually Danusia said that you are very caring and thoughtful, and that you’re the person who always thinks of really thoughtful little gifts to give to people.
BETH: Awww, that was nice of her.
JESSICA: Yes! She also told me that you have a fear of fruit peels or banana peels?
BETH: Can’t believe she told you that! Yeah I do. I don’t know what it is. I just hate it. Just old apple corps, orange peels, anything like that. It goes moldy too quickly, and it just
SPANNY: They are gross when you think about it.
JESSICA: They are. So it’s not like if you saw one across the room you’d have to run from it, it’s just something you don’t like.
BETH: Yeah I just don’t… they used to wind me up and like try and block it in my face and stuff and I’m like get out of my face. Especially Imogen. Imogen is the worst for it.
JESSICA: [laughs] Oh my God. Ok so let’s get to the hardcore gymnastics questions.
BETH: Go ahead.
JESSICA: Alright. So you know we’ve always wondered if you keep an eye on the other competition and the difficulty rankings and look at who else has the difficulty scores ands stuff like that going into meets?
BETH: Not really. I mean the main thing I’ve always, between myself and my coach, I can only control what I do. They might have a higher start value, but their routine might be longer so their execution might go down. So I’ve only ever worked on what I can do to the best of my ability. And Amanda says oh they might have like a, I don’t know a 7 depending on what code we’re on, but she said their routine might be a bit longer. Or I might only have a 6.8 but I’ve got everything connected so there’s no extra swings. So to be honest I’ve never really kind of took note of what other people’s difficulty was just in case. There’s nothing I can do to control it.
JESSICA: Gotcha. And being American of course I have to ask if you were aware of Anna Li and her routine and her new skill and that kind of stuff leading up to the Olympics. Did you ever watch it?
BETH: Obviously you hear about stuff and you see stuff on YouTube, but until they turn up to a competition, it’s always the asme. Like people might have seem training videos of me at competitions where I’m doing different things. And they can start panicking about it, there’s nothing you can do about it. And it might start to affect your performance. So to be honest I was aware there was stuff going on, but I never really took note of it.
JESSICA: Got it. That makes sense. Who did you consider kind of your biggest competition on bars leading into the Olympics? Or did you even think about that?
BETH: Obviously people always ask me, and there was a lot of competition. I mean everyone’s going to be ready for the Olympics. So I knew Mustafina, even with the big injury, she was going to be back. She wanted to prove herself. Then obviously you’ve got Komova, because she was reigning World and European champion. Kexin. So there was so many that could be up there. And you know what, it’s down to a little bit of luck, whose day it is on that 30 seconds.
JESSICA: I gotcha. Yeah it is one of those weird things. It’s not like other sports where you have to watch out for that kind of stuff. But I do have to ask, because you competed again, back in the day, against “The Queen” Khorkina. Was there, like we’ve heard stories about competing with Khorkina or being on the stands. Like, who was it, Carly Patterson said that when she was on the stand in Athens with Khorkina, they were like smiling for pictures and Khorkina was like “Smile, I just lost the Olympics!” That kind of stuff. I have to ask if there was any behind the scenes stuff with Khorkina, not necessarily trash talking, just what it was like. Because she’s such a personality.
BETH: Yeah, I mean I never had anything like that. But I remember my first Europeans, my first senior one in 2002. I had my water spray and she was using it and I was really scared to go and get it back off her. And my coach was like ,“go get it, it’s yours, don’t you need to use it for competition?” So I was like, “Please can I have my water spray back?” And she gave it to me, she was really nice about it. She just thought it was one there to use. But I was quite scared to ask her for it.
JESSICA: [laughs] I totally would have been too. Ok so we saw videos of you working on a double arabian full out. And we have to ask how close were you to competing that? Or might we see that in the future?
BETH: Well I had it on the floor area. I was just really unlucky with injuries. So I had it was it, I think it was a year and a half ago, and then I had a calf tear. Was literally out for the first three months of the year. Then I had to get ready for Nationals. Then it was a case of we had to qualify for Olympics so I couldn’t’ risk it for the team performance. Then at the beginning of last year I tore the cartilage in my knee. So I couldn’t risk anything with that. It was just a case of I needed to try and get fit to actually be able to go to the Olympics. So I have it and I was training it in routines on tumble track and stuff but I never actually put it in a routine on floor.
JESSICA: So do you think if your knee is feeling good and everything’s going well, maybe later we might see it?
BETH: You never know. I mean it’s really difficult because also the other problem was, the upgrade of it, it was something like a tenth or maybe two tenths. And for the inconsistency it could cause, if the floor area wasn’t very bouncy or you had to go in cold, it was quite a risk for the one tenth. Where you could just do a double arabian, land, do a split jump out of it. It just didn’t seem worth it.
JESSICA: That totally makes sense. But that’s the thing that kills me about the code, because I feel like the way you did that was beautiful. And I would rather see you do a beautiful new innovative skill than someone do a split jump out of it. Do you think, because there are people that do it with their legs so far apart it’s practically a straddle you know?
BETH: Yeah it’s really difficult, because obviously you’ve got to play to the code. And the code, it was last season and obviously I think it is this season as well, you can jump out of everything. So one, it takes away your deduction from landing, and two, you get a connection bonus. So you’re pretty stupid not to play to the code.
JESSICA: Yeah that’s totally true. Well you and your coach take over the FIG, you can change all those rules
JESSICA: I mean I’m just saying. I would totally vote for you. I don’t know how you get to vote for that but I’m going to find out and make sure. So Anna Li and Chellsie Memmel were on this tour that went around the US after the Olympics, and they started playing around with men’s high bar skills. And both of them said they wanted to learn a kovacs. And they did a little men’s high bar thing at the beginning of the tour. I don’t know if they ever did it in public, but they were playing around with it. So I have to ask if you have also thought about playing around on men’s high bar, learning any of the men’s high bar skills?
BETH: Definitely not kovacs. I not in a million dreams try that. Obviously a lot of my skills I took from men’s high bar. So my markelov. My coach’s husband at the time, he taught it to me because he was coach for the lads in our gym. And then also stoop half and the forward stoop half that the lads do. So kind of squat through half. I was working that for a bit. But again it was just getting it into the routine. The consistency changing with the routine. And was it worth it for the tenths that you were gaining. I might as well just do toe-half or toe-full and get the same thing for it.
JESSICA: Yep. That makes sense. So, no plans to put together a men’s high bar routine for fun? I mean I’m not saying I would pay to see that and it would be awesome and [laughs]
BETH: I know, we’ll have to see
JESSICA: Ok well I mean if you want to you can make a video out of it and you know
JESSICA: Just from the fans. Just putting it out there. Ok. So I was also asking Danusia if you had any crazy wipeouts because your bar routine is amazing and all of those, I mean your connections you have to have had them. And she was like no not really. And I was like come on.
BETH: See the routine being put together. So I only ever see… like obviously Jenni, she might have given a bit more away. But Danusia I only saw at competition or at camp, so I was usually pretty competition fit by then. The routines were pretty ready. Whereas learning some of the new skills in the gym was, to be honest, I could’ve got a lot for [inaudible] because there’s so many funny moments. So the first time I did my catch [inaudible]I nearly flew off the high bar because I was so surprised I had actually caught the bar. When I learned my under healy or the full turn from the invert, I used to not out of 20 a day and literally catch the bar and fly and [inaudible]. And I’d have a right face on. And Amanda was like “just keep at it, we’ll get it, we’ll get it.” I had so many stupid moments just even little things like doing Pak and missing my hands and ending up wrap round the bar. So yeah, plenty of moments where I’ve messed up big style.
JESSICA: Ok, well that’s good to know because I was like, “Oh my god, she’s really, like, superhuman. She doesn’t even wipe out!” [laughs]
BETH: I was [inaudible] aware of where my body was, so even if I wipe out, I usually got to a safe enough position that I would just land flat on my back or on my stomach, there was nothing too drastic that I can remember.
JESSICA: So, what was the scariest skill for you to learn, and it could be something you learned as a kid, it could be on a different event. But what was like…
BETH: The scariest thing that I did – well I always did – was vault, 1 1/2 Yurchenkos scare the living daylights out of me.
JESSICA: Wow, really? More than a regular Yurchenko, or just any Yurchenko scared you?
BETH: It’s just, for some reason the 1 1/2 twisting Yurchenko, I had a fear of it. If I had to do it now it would scare me. My coach would say, “Now, you’re not scared on the ice!” and like, doing the tuck back on the ice. Then I did wind walking after the Olympics, where I was just on the plane in the air, and I was more scared of the 1 1/2 Yurchenko than I was on the plane in the air.
JESSICA: Wow! Was it – now I know fear can be totally irrational – but was it the landing? Because that’s what would scare me, I’d be afraid I was gonna, like, hyperextend my knees.
BETH: No, it wasn’t the landing at all. I guess I don’t even know why I had a fear of it because I never did anything in training that freaked me out on it. I just, I don’t know, I just didn’t like it.
JESSICA: And what was the hardest skill for you to learn, even from when you were a little kid? Like, that just took the longest to get?
BETH: The longest probably was the endo healy from the invert. It took me the whole summer of doing twenty, thirty a day, of ‘pinging’ off left, right, and center. But luckily back in that day I was young enough that I had the whole summer to just learn it. So, yeah, probably the endo healy.
JESSICA: Um, and you’ve talked a lot about how you and Amanda took steps to limit the stress on your body, including, like you were saying that you would only tumble on the rod floor until it was right before a meet and then you’d take it to the regular floor. I just wonder with training at Lilleshall and having a national team program with national camps, how you guys maintained that, like, awareness and limiting stress on your body but also did the national team programs and stuff?
BETH: Yeah, it was difficult, obviously. But the older I got the more the national team was supportive of me. They knew my feet couldn’t take that impact, obviously we’ve got the medical team there the whole time and they understood that my feet just couldn’t take that impact. We only ever spend, leading up to a major event it’s quite different, but at camp it’s three or four days at a time. So I would do one day off, one day on, one day off, so that they could see that I was tumbling on hard. And then obviously the older I got I was able to control my program. I would do what they needed, but maybe on soft whereas some people would be on hard. And no one ever questioned it. It was just a case that they knew that I was a little bit older, because most of my teammates were maybe six, seven years younger than me. So they didn’t question it, they knew when I came to competition I did what I needed. If we had a control comp I would show that I could do it on hard. If we had a competition they knew I would do the performance they needed. So, no one ever questioned it.
JESSICA: Good, that’s what we like to hear. Speaking of that, try to follow me with this train of thought here. I just feel like you, one of the things that’s so inspiring about you is you just shatter every single stereotype about gymnasts. Your age, number one, you just get better, and better, and better. And not just, like, winning, but you’re doing the hardest routines in the world. I feel like you also break that stereotype with your body type. Like, you don’t have this stick figure, no hips, and giant shoulders like the typical gymnasts. And I think you have such a beautiful figure, and it’s not the typical gymnast, twelve year old, never-gone-through-puberty figure. And I wonder if anybody ever questioned your ability, or told you, “Well, you’re not going to be successful because you’re too tall” or “Oh, you’re too old” or “Your figures not right” or anything like that?
BETH: As a youngster, they did. I grew when I was 12, 13. I had quite a bad injury in my ankle and I grew, so when I was in junior squads and start squads, obviously I was just like, the tallest, I was the biggest, I had a proper older girl’s shape rather than your typical young gymnasts shape. So, there were times then when people were like, “She won’t be able to do it, she’s the wrong shape, she’s the wrong height.” But I think people then realized that I might not have had that factor, but I had the mind frame, I had the determination and the mental sort of side where if someone told me that I couldn’t do something, I wanted to prove them wrong. And then from the age of about 14 I literally didn’t grow, I’ve been the same height and weight since, I think… in fact I probably weigh less than I did at my first world champs in 2001. So, as I grew older my body settled into it’s own shape.
JESSICA: I think that’s very inspirational to hear because I think that’s also the age a lot of female gymnasts are told – or feel like, looking around the gym – like, “Okay, I hit puberty. This is going to be it for me.” And knowing that you…
BETH: I hit puberty quite early, and I was quite… not embarrassed, but in the gym it was quite hard when my teammates, they hadn’t grown and I was kind of like, “Well, why have I and no one else has?” But then,actually, as I got older it worked to my advantage because I learned a lot of my skills with my body at the size and shape I am now. So I didn’t sort of have to suddenly at the age of 16, 17 when my body changed, have to relearn a lot of the stuff, which I think a lot of gymnasts do. They get all of these big tricks as a youngster because they weigh nothing [laughs] and they’re these small little things, and then suddenly they hit puberty and their timing has all changed.
JESSICA: Yep. Totally, you’re totally right. I wonder also if that allowed you to have more power? Like, people talk about this with men having more power as they get older, but I feel like no one – you know, Shannon Miller is one of the only people that really talked about, like ‘I felt when I hit puberty I had all of this power I didn’t have before’, did you feel like that after you got used to…
BETH: Yeah, as a youngster I was a lot more powerful on floor and vault, I guess, than what some of my competitors were, sometimes too much power. I mean, I had the problem in the fact that I was injured, so it restricted me quite a lot on the floor and vault. But, yeah, I guess. I learned how to do the skills with that power, whereas I think some of the youngsters learn to do the skills with the power but without the technique, whereas I already had the technique because I was that little bit heavier.
JESSICA: Yeah. The average age of Olympic gymnasts is now over 20, so 55%, I think, are 20 years or older now, and you’re kind of leading that guard of female older gymnasts.
JESSICA: I have decided that you are the leader. Chusovitina is in her own class, and then you’re leading the new guard. Do you think that’s because you’re just extra awesome or do you think- no, I’m just… [laughs] The age shift that were going to with the older gymnasts, do you think that’s because the age limit was raised or do you think it’s because there’s more opportunity for specialists? This is a huge debate in the gymnastics community.
BETH: You know, I think that it’s a mixture. Obviously the age being raised obviously helped, but I think maybe one or two of us have done it. So, obviously Chusovitina did it, I did it, and then other people started to say, “Hang on a minute. They’re still doing it, they’re still enjoying it, they’re still achieving, and they’re still representing their country, what’s to stop us doing it?” So, I think there are other people who have followed track and they’ve carried on, and we didn’t feel like you were on your own out there because there was just myself competing in their twenties, because you’ve got other gymnasts. You’ve got the girl from Poland, Marta, you’ve got Hypolito from Brazil. So there’s a group of us who are of similar age and we kind of grew up the ranks with each other from the 2001 Worlds and just carried on. So, I think there is, just that change in belief within.
SPANNY: Alright, these questions are from Twitter fans who follow the podcast on Twitter. People were so excited when we told them we were interviewing you, we’ve got a lot of submissions but we picked the few top questions. This is from Emma G, “Beth is known for her crazy combos, is there anything you wanted to do but couldn’t? Either due to the code, it wasn’t humanly possible, you either couldn’t learn it or perform it consistently?”
BETH: Um I really love stoops on bars, so like the stoop stalder, but my body just – I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do stalder, I couldn’t do short clear, I couldn’t do stoop stalder, but I just think as a skill itself, stoop stalder is just a beautiful skill. Especially when you start turning it and you start release and catching with it. But I was just never able to do it. I tried so hard. [laughs]
SPANNY: It’s interesting, because then you’ve always managed to replace it with other skills like it’s – I’m trying to imagine your routine now with those stalders. But yeah they seem impossible.
BETH: I was trying to add the stoop stalder in for the Olympics, but it just didn’t work. And obviously you need it turning and there just wasn’t enough time for me to get it in, and that’s when I made the decision that the dismount had to go in instead. It’s just that obviously with the stoop stalder you could put it at the beginning of the routine so you’re not as tired. The problem with using a brand new dismount is you’ve got to do it at the end of the routine, there is no other option, and obviously that brings the risk.
SPANNY: Right. But I loved your dismount so much!
SPANNY: Yeah, it’s one that we’ve seen other people do, but in my opinion it’s always been kind of shady, where I fear for their lives when they do it. And yours is the first safe one that I would watch and I would be like, “Oh, this is exciting and entertaining to watch!”
BETH: It took so long to get into my routine. I mean, I’ve had my double double for like, maybe four or five years, but just with the code – especially when you used to have to have ten elements in your routine – by the time you’ve done the nine elements that you needed to count, by the time I got to my dismount it was impossible to be able to double double. And there’s only literally, after the world champs last year, I had a period of I think it was about three, four months before I was competing again that I was able to just literally work on routines with the double double. I wouldn’t necessarily do my full, complete bar routine. I would do ten upstart handstands, then do a release to catch, and then go straight into the dismount. So it worked as a way of getting the stamina to be able to do it, so by Christmas 2011, I had a basic structure of a bar routine that I was able to do with a dismount, whereas I’d never had that in my life. So, it just took so long to get into the routine because it is just so difficult.
SPANNY: And it was worth the wait. I remember hearing – we hear rumors, we’d see podium training videos, and we hear like, [gasp] “Beth did the dismount!”
BETH: Yeah. I could do it quite easily from a 3/4 bar routine by the 2011 Worlds. And I had done it a few times with a full bar routine, but to be honest it was never really ready. I would never risk it during the team competition, I would only put it out for an individual competition.
SPANNY: The finals. Well it was very worth the wait. Emma also asks, “Can you think of any other current or rising UK gymnasts that have the potential to be your successor on bars?” Or she wants to know, “Who is the next Beth?”
BETH: It’s really difficult. There’s so much talent that we’ve got at the minute, and it’s obviously just making that transition from the junior levels to the senior levels. Obviously we saw Rebecca Tunney last year coming and storming the world, storming British gymnastics obviously, and she had an amazing Olympics and she’s only 15, so she’s got the potential to grow. And then we’ve got Gabby Jupp, who medaled at the junior European level and she’s a fantastic beam worker and a really good all arounder. So I really hope that they’ve got that thing that will just carry them through, and they’ve got that belief that they can medal.
SPANNY: And I think we’d have to ask this again in ten years, to see. I don’t know that in 2001 we’d have been like, “Wow, Beth is still gonna be the top competitor for the country…”
BETH: I don’t think anyone thought that. It might be a dark horse now, they might just be sort of sneaking through the junior levels and then they might come into their own. I never won a national title until I was a senior, and I never came into my own until I was 17, 18 years old. So that’s what I want the youngster to realize that they don’t necessarily have to be Junior British National Champion when their 13, 14, they don’t have to be medaling. As long as they’re just like, sort of going along with their game, and keeping their mind straight, and working hard towards that one goal, then they’ve got time. They don’t need to do it all at 15, 16 years of age.
SPANNY: I hope they listen to that, because we had just mentioned there’s the potential for success for years and years and years if you’re smart about it. Alright, Alyssa Nambiar would like to know who your gymnastics inspiration is, being in a country that didn’t have the super powerhouse teams like the Russians, the Romanians.
BETH: Yeah, I mean it was really difficult. Obviously I looked up to Annika Reeder and Lisa Mason because at the time I was growing up they were Britain’s top stars. They were the ones that were going off to Europeans hoping to win medals, and getting finals, winning Commonwealth medals. So on the British side, obviously we had the role models but they weren’t picking up the international medals. On the international basis, I just loved Lilia Podkopayeva and her floor routine.
BETH: I just watched it over and over again from the ’96 Olympics. So, I think her and also Zamolodchikova, I loved her from when I was younger as well.
SPANNY: So and then you got to compete, well did you? Now I can’t remember. Did Zamo compete in 2001? Also in 2003 she was there.
BETH: I competed [inaudible] first time, so that was sort of surreal to sort of think a few years ago I was looking up to her and then suddenly, I remember going to Europeans in 2000. I was still a junior but she obviously was competing in the senior competition, but my coach introduced me to her and I was like, “Oh my god!”
SPANNY: Is it weird to think there are probably a billion little girls who – not little, they’re probably teenagers now – probably feel the same way about you?
BETH: It is weird because, look, I still see myself as the same person. I still get back in the gym, I still get back in the gym, I still work hard, and I’ve still got that same ambition. It’s only when I go to competitions, like I’ll go to Nationals next month, and so many little kids, they send me letters, they send me pictures, and they’re like, “I want to be the next Beth!” And you don’t realize until you turn up to events like that how much you do have an impact on this younger generation.
SPANNY: Right. I imagine they’re just excited when they get to the age of, if they do get to compete, with you or in the same arena, that’s got to be pretty overwhelming.
BETH: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. I always try and spend a lot of time with my fans whether it’s at competitions signing stuff or whether it’s on Facebook or Twitter I always try to reply to everyone.
SPANNY: That’s good. One final question, this is from Ninja Editor, “Now the new code favors your style of bar work, have you given any thought to coming back or perhaps another event final medal at Worlds?”
BETH: It’s really difficult and I haven’t made any final decisions. I’ve still been in the gym doing bits and pieces, I’ve been in contact with my coach everyday. I’ve taken a break from competition so I definitely won’t be at Europeans, but I haven’t ruled anything out. I have heard the code does work in my favor on bars, but you know, I’ll just have to see. Once I get done with Dancing on Ice and I get back in the gym full time, exactly how I feel. I want my heart fully in it, I don’t want to be remembered as the one who was up at the top and then dropped again. So, I need to know my heart’s in it 100%.
SPANNY: Right. I can imagine you won’t know until you’re working out.
BETH: Yeah, I’m still in the gym. I’m still doing bits and pieces. But I’m definitely not going to be competing in 2013.
SPANNY: Well, either way, you know. We’re excited to either see you compete again, or even if you just put up training videos, excited to watch those.
JESSICA: Do you love how we’ve hinted like, twelve times? Like, if you want to put up training videos, we’d love to watch! [laughs]
BETH: Blog a video and just superimpose my body over it just to send to you.
SPANNY: Well that’s all we have right now, it’s kind of the off season. This is a random question because we’ve spoken about Danusia, and there’s also Marissa King. There’s a lot of girls who come over to compete for our gym system.
BETH: Yeah. Before 2004, I think there’d only been one or two, and then one of my teammates, my best friend from 2004, Nic, she went to Gators. And then I think people started to realized if you weren’t quite ready to finish gymnastics but you’ve finished with the National team, it was the perfect step. You got to have another life, you got to experience college, and obviously you get to go to America. And everyone seemed to love it out there.
[[SOUND EFFECT: YAY!]] –
JESSICA: So, what did you guys think about Beth’s interview? Blythe, was there anything that surprised you?
BLYTHE: You know, I can’t say there’s anything that really surprised me, but I really appreciate how genuine and down to earth Beth is, just about the whole thing, the whole process. That’s really what I kind of took away from it.
UNCLE TIM: I kind of love the part where she was describing her dance with the hula hoop and everything because I finally got to see that dance this week and she had crazy hair, she had like a leotard that would make Ponor blush. It was incredible. And it was so much fun to listen to the commentators afterwards because they gave all these cheesy names moves, like the “Gaga belt,” and stuff, I dunno. It was interesting to hear her take on it and then see the dance. She didn’t mention the fact that she was going to do, like a handstand pirouette with ice skates on, or a back extension roll with ice skates on and stuff. It was cool to see that dance.
SPANNY: I, like Blythe, I was just caught off guard by how just genuine and how cool she was, of course. What I especially liked, and I think this even made the interview because we got caught off at the very end, but right before everybody’s phone went to crap I asked her, because there are a couple of other British gymnasts that are active in the NCAA, and I asked her if she ever got a chance to watch those videos and she passionately answered us with she follows Danusia, and Marissa, and Wing, and how much fun they seem to be having. I was pleasantly caught off guard by like, the vigor with which she answered, and knew obviously right away quite a bit about the program and the years the gymnasts started to come overseas to start to compete.
JESSICA: That was really cool, and we know those Brit’s just love Florida, too! She’s like, Yes, they went to the Gators and they loved it! I was surprised that she was like, I will never learn a Kovacs, thats crazy and who would ever in their right mind would do that? And I was like seriously? I would be afraid I would land in the bleachers, flinging off the bar doing one of her connections. And then, the thing is to juxtapose that with what she does on that skating show, like she does that crazy move where the guy holds you buy the feet and then flings you around with your head right next to the ice. Like, what? I think a Kovacs would be less scary than that because you’re depending on yourself instead of some random ice skater dude. I mean, I guess she knows him now but, that’s what surprised me.
SPANNY: Well also, the Yurchenko. Like I thought it was interesting she’s like, I can do the full Yurchenko, fine, but the half – that extra half – just terrified me. And that if she had to do it right now, she’d like freak out. Those little quirks are always interesting.
JESSICA: It is really interesting because you never know what’s gonna scare someone, or what will bother them, it’s so personal.
JESSICA: She was a total sweetie, I know we say that about everybody, but really she was so cool and we had a great time talking about her – we had a great time. Yes, we are enjoying talking about her, we also had a great time talking to her. Okay and with that, let’s get to, we have not had our NCAA talk for two weeks. So much has happened; we had see through leotards. Spanny, what’s happening.
SPANNY: Well, it’s kind of grouped, I mean, I think this past week was a little more entertaining than the week prior. This was just a weird week, with highs and lows from a lot of teams. First I wanted to address a question from a listener about where to find all of these meets that we watch online, or to find recaps or scores, and I’m going to direct you to Lauren Hopkins from The Couch Gymnast. She—we will put her link on the site—she compiles, she takes a ton of time and she compiles extensive lists, every single week. She includes free meets, the meets you have to pay for, most of the meets have live scoring, live stats, updates for you—yeah, I would just steer you in that direction, Lauren Hopkins from The Couch Gymnast. Also, CollegeGymFans.com is a top source, not just for links but they update their national rankings and scores every Monday, so you could go right now and go, “Who is number five on vault?” And of course, after this last week, they started applying the RQS scores, everything’s all shifted and whacky. But it’s definitely worth a look over, and again, they also post, usually it’s not until the day of the meet, but you can go on the site and they have a list of both men’s and women’s meets. So, most of the sites—it’s different this year. In the past years, you could get a subscription the CS All-Access, and most of the schools participated in this program. And you could pay, whatever it is, seven bucks a month, and you would have access to all these meets, they would be archived, it was wonderful, so I signed up, so excited, this year—but this year it’s different. Not a lot of schools—I mean, there are some schools in it, it’s worth it, I think I paid $14 for two months, it was some sort of deal—it’s worth it because you do get to see some of the other schools, like Minnesota usually has meets up there, Iowa, Michigan. That said, there are a few schools that would ask you to pay for their own viewing, like LSU, Arkansas, Florida the Gators. I say, I subscribe separately to their meets, and I found it to be worth it, only because they archive their meets almost immediately after their finished, so if you’re a working Joe, like myself, who usually has to work Friday nights and you can’t watch the meets live, then it’s definitely worth it. The final source that we have this year, which is new and the jury’s still out, when you really think about it, is the Pac-12 Network. Some of the meets are free, they’re live, you know, the quality is hit or miss but for a free meet, you can’t complain. That being said, a good number of the bigger meets are blacked out because they’re airing them live on the Pac-12 TV channel, which you obviously get if you live on that side of the world, but also randomly in Maine they’ll have it. I know that here in Minnesota, I have no shot in the world of watching it so I get really frustrated. I miss my sweet Danusia routines and I get all pregnancy-ragey. Alright. So that was kind of an extensive recap of where to watch all the meets, and that some of the fun is that you can go to any of the school sites and go, “I want to watch LSU”, and they’ll have the links up there. Alright. Let’s start with the biggest story on, not just this past week, but probably the entire season, is going to be Oklahoma. And everybody knows Oklahoma’s good, but they forget about them because they’re not loaded with elites. They’ve got all these ninja, sniper level 10s, and they’re amazing. So they scored a mind-boggling 198.375. Florida last week—was it last week?—scores a 198.1 and people were like, “Oh, wow, that’s crazy,” but that’s Florida. To over score them by almost three tenths is pretty, pretty sizable. This is on par with a 2004-era UCLA team, legendary Jamie Dantzscher, Tasha Schwikert years, or Georgia in their prime. This is a big deal. Most other schools are really gunning to break 197. So 198, I cannot reiterate how wild that is.
JESSICA: And they looked amazing. Like, I don’t think that was a crazy score. They looked beautiful. They were great.
SPANNY: And they really are the classiest gymnasts, I know that we like to say this about Minnesota and other teams, but they, I mean, their beam rotation is like China-good.
SPANNY: It glorious.
JESSICA: Glorious is the only way to put it. I mean, yup.
SPANNY: Their floor seems—I laugh at some of their floor routines. Some of them are cute, but some of them run into the ‘Bama, squat-y, heel-toe…when I make my goofy, my montage choreography videos, I’m all like, what’s Oklahoma doing? Because I know I’m going to find really interesting…
JESSICA: But no-one, I mean, we do have to say that nobody did the knock on the door with their legs closed, knock-knock-knock, and then open their legs this year. And that’s good. This is a big improvement on the years passed.
SPANNY: Yeah. However, they did sport a very interesting leotard. I believe Jess, you coined it the booby-tard.
JESSICA: That’s right.
SPANNY: A lot of mesh. That’s a lot of side-boob. A lot of front boob. I thought, you know, I couldn’t tell without getting a maybe more high-detailed picture, but I thought it was similar to the ones the USA wore for podium training and prelims, but without the see-through-ness, and so these ones were way more garish and frightening. Really pretty girls, and they’re all fit, but I don’t want to see boobs when I watch gymnastics.
JESSICA: Yeah, like it wasn’t, I don’t think it was actually totally see-through, but it looked like it was totally see-through. So I mean, I just couldn’t stop looking at the sides, because I was like, oh my god, they’re going to have a nipple moment. So it was just, it was distracting. It was—and I like the cut of that leo, but not with the flesh-colored mesh. And while we are on the topic, can we please get back to, none of this flesh-colored nonsense. Because no-one’s skin color’s the same, unless you’re from Siberia and then it’s a light-colored blue. But otherwise, there is none of this, and we need to go back to having underwear that match the color of your leotard please. Please. Please people.
SPANNY: Well, Oklahoma also, I’ve seen them do when they do the open back leotards, but instead of mesh it looks like an Ace bandage, that’s the only thing I can think of, it looks like an Ace bandage fabric, and that’s supposed to match every girl. Yeah. Am I still here, my sound just went woo? Hello?
JESSICA: Yeah, you’re still there.
SPANNY: Ok, I thought it just went dead and I was like, am I talking to myself? Anyway, sorry.
JESSICA: The fashion police cracked down on your audio.
SPANNY: You said boob too many times, PG-13. Ok. Now, to contrast Oklahoma’s insane performance, Friday night was such a weird night for elite-level meltdowns. I felt like every highly-touted ex-elite, I mean almost every one in the NCAA, had a very uncharacteristic fall. Every girl that you could count on to be that never ever falls, just had a weird fall. We saw them from Sloan, Hunter, Macko, but we also saw them from the girls who, maybe you weren’t so surprised. Mattie Larson, Christa Tannella on bars, which, I don’t think she’s fallen all year—well, maybe she has, I don’t know, but—as I noticed it, then I kept, I went from meet to meet to meet, and it was like a domino night where it was just, everybody went down. Bizarre commentary of the week, to go back to the Oklahoma broadcast..
JESSICA: [laughs] She was so funny!
SPANNY: Kelly Garrison, and—she’s not Steve’s anymore, is she?
JESSICA: I don’t know, I guess not.
SPANNY: Kelly Garrison. Uh-huh. With John Roethlisberger, who I like, I mean, more or less, as a commentator, I think he brings personality, he knows what he is talking about.
JESSICA: He makes me laugh, and that is important in commentary, I think.
SPANNY: He needed to do a lot of correcting. I think the first thing one of the gymnasts vaulted and took a very sizable slide back—
JESSICA: Huge! Huge! Half a mat!
SPANNY: It wasn’t just like, Oh, it’s a good landing. She was like, “This is what I have been telling them to do! Stick it!” And he’s like, she didn’t stick it. It was just the passion in which she said these things was really—I mean, I have to respect her for being so passionate, but it caught me off guard, if I was zoning out, the way she’d gasped and the general screeching was alarming me if I wasn’t paying direct enough attention. Which I guess, she made me attention. And there was someone else, who was that, somebody on beam she was referring to as a stick figure or learning from stick figures or something?
JESSICA: She was like, I just learned by watching stick figures in a book, and this girl is the stick figure. Which she meant by like, her form was perfect?
SPANNY: I get that? Yeah, I think…really?
TIM: It was Taylor Spears on bars, if I remember correctly.
SPANNY: Just, what a weird thing to say. Like, I get it. I’ve seen those drawings, I guess, but that’s also extremely dated, which, I mean, I existed in a world before YouTube as well, but still. It was just weird, out of touch stuff. But she did seem flattered when John Roethlisberger told a story about how, where did Miss Val come up with the idea, I guess, that all the girls needed to smile? “Oh, she saw it from Kelly Garrison.” And Kelly was all flattered, so. You know. But that said, I do want to give huge props to UCLA for making that meet available. I mean, it was available half an hour, an hour after the meet finished, so that’s always fun. My nifty concept of the week was the ASU co-ed meet. I just think that it’s neat. I mean, we got to see in on the Pac-12 station online. So the Sun Devils men and the women both got to compete in Wells Fargo arena, so they alternated routines which, in theory, I guess I would have been—I don’t know. It would have been difficult for me focus while I was there, but it was interesting to watch. The men’s team has been relegated to men’s status after being cut from the NCAA. They have stayed afloat for years and years and years thanks to Scott Barclay. They don’t get to compete often in arenas, so it’s really cool for them to be able to compete in Wells Fargo Arena alongside the women. There’s a good turnout, as well. This—I remember from when I was at ASU—the little club girls love their male gymnasts. They show up at these meets and they scream, and they scream, and they run and they scream, and so it was just cute. I think they had a billion girl scouts there and they were all screaming for their male gymnasts, and it’s just another way to get people interested in other facets of the sport, but they desperately, the commentary was hurting, we needed a dose of Uncle Tim STAT, but..
UNCLE TIM: That’s why I’m here.
SPANNY: Other than that, it was good. It was a neat idea and it’s a good way to get men’s gymnastics out there.
JESSICA: I have to mention, before we finish up NCAA, Utah had a 10 at their meet against Stanford, and it was Lia Del Priore, and her routine was beautiful, absolutely beautiful, on floor, she got a 10. But I have to mention, this is like a thing with Utah and I don’t know what the deal is, but basically they had this theme of having football routines, or people doing, not football routines, but people doing routines to football music, like one gymnast had the NFL theme music as her music, and then she promptly started her routine and tore her ACL right away or her Achilles, but this gymnast, her routine was beautiful, she got a 10, she did it to the theme music from Rudy, so hello, that’s awesome. But did you notice that she did the Tebow during that routine?
JESSICA: Yeah. On floor, she does the Tebow with the hand near the face and the praying?
JESSICA: I was like, Rudy and the Tebow? Ooh, shocking. But the routine was absolutely beautiful. Beautiful.
SPANNY: Seems ironic that the year anybody uses the theme from Rudy, just because that’s all that I see on floor now that Uncle Tim has pointed out Dougie’s on floor, and that’s all I see now. Dougie’s.
JESSICA: It’s Rudy music doing the Dougie.
SPANNY: Yes, every routine, every pass. Everything.
JESSICA: Ok, Listener Feedback. We haven’t done Listener Feedback in a couple weeks, but we have a little contest. Do we have any winners from our virginity contest?
UNCLE TIM: I don’t know if we have any winners, but we have participants.
JESSICA: You can’t win that contest? You can’t win at losing your virginity? Ok. So. Who has the best photos? Spanny, I’ll let you take it from here.
SPANNY: Alright. Our participants this week is Aurora Nola, and “I brought four gym meet virgins to our intersquad, but forgot to take a picture. So sad, #gymnerdfail.” Just send us a picture later. Next time. Chris Jordan, @mynot86, this must have been a conversation that I am not aware of, “No beer but I did take both of their gym virginities. Quote they said the most: ‘that hurts my shoulders.’” Word. Let’s see, this is from NPE at Georgia Tech, “I also really wanted to say thank you for all they really hard work that you do for adult gymnastics and gymnastics podcast. I started gymnastics when I was freshman in college and now have been doing gymnastics for a few years. It’s good to know that there are people working to make sure that adults know that they can start doing gymnastics do. Plus the podcast is great and has helped me find some new gymnastics blogs.” Jess, that’s all you, because…
JESSICA: That made me so happy! It incorporated everything! The podcast, adult gymnastics, and you guys! Thank you NPE in Georgia.
SPANNY: It’s just like that. Yes. And this is a correction from Christian from the comment on our website. “Deng Linlin didn’t miss out on the All Around by the two-per-country rule, she came in sixth in the final,” which I do remember, “just behind Sandra Izbasa and before Huang Qiushuang. As a huge Deng Linlin fan, I store these fact. Yao Jinnan missed out after poor scores on everything except bars,” which is absolutely correct. “For the record, the only athletes to miss out on finals due to the two-per-country rule were Jordyn Wieber, Anastasia Grishina, Jennifer Pinches and Yao Jinnan.” Which, yeah, we appreciate corrections. So this is a feature that I impulsively decided that we are going to do only because Blythe’s tweets just started cracking me up so much. So I’m going to combine two weeks. Our first, not annual, weekly Tweet of the Week winner is Briley Casanova, who is a Michigan gymnast who used to compete at WOGA. “Got myself a date tonight. His name is Jim Nastics <3”. That’s my humor. Like…that’s all me right there. We are nerds of the same soul, Briley Casanova and myself. Ok. Our second Tweet of the past Week goes to Talia Chiarelli of the Canadian National Team, who also works out of Brestyan’s. Her tweet is, “I look like a deformed rotisserie chicken when I’m stretching.”
SPANNY: Her humor is…what?
BLYTHE: It’s true! You think about it for a second and, yeah! Yeah! Gymnasts stretching do look like deformed rotisserie chickens. Like in middle splits, you know?
JESSICA: Yes, that’s the truth in middle splits.
SPANNY: Well, we are all going to think of that every time we see a gymnast stretching. If you choose to follow any gymnast on Twitter, Talia’s one of my favorites. She’s just got a very dry sense of humor, she’s super relatable. She is @taliachi. So she’s definitely worth following. She cracks me up all the time. But. Those will be our first two Tweet of the Weeks, and we’ll keep note of anything hilarious and standout, like the deformed rotisserie chicken.
JESSICA: So one thing that I want to add is, we’ve had a lot of foreign gymnasts on and foreign broadcasters on, Jenni Pinches and Kyle Shewfelt, and I want to mention that there is a way for you to watch these broadcasts, even if you’re in the US. And I am just providing information because I believe in intellectual freedom and I am a proponent of such. I am not proposing copyright violations. I am not proposing that you do anything illegal. I am just giving you information and what you do with it is your own. So there is something called a VPN, which is a Virtual Private Network, and you can use these to watch broadcasts from other countries. So, perhaps it’s not provided in your country, and you’ve asked many times and offered to pay but it is still not provided and you really want to hear Mitch Fenner and his commentary on the Olympics, or you really want to watch the Canadian broadcast so you can hear Kyle Shewfelt. So there’s a, it’s not software, it’s like an app, it’s called Tunnelbear. This is a VPN, it is super easy to use, and you can download it on your browser, so that’s like your Chrome or Firefox or Explorer or whatever you use, or you can download the app and put it on your phone, and nothing will happen, you just turn it on and when it is activated it allows you to access broadcasts, say the BBC, in another country. So, if you wanted to watch something, you could use something like Tunnelbear. But just remember, you turn it on and off as you want to use it, and it allows you access. So there’s that little piece of information for you, in case you want to use something like that, and I’ll put a link up for you guys to check out.
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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 sports with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code: Gymcast.
JESSICA: That’s going to do it for us this week. Thanks everybody for listening. We hope that you enjoyed the show. And remember that you can support the show by checking out TumblTrak’s 25th Anniversary stuff on YouTube, there are many tributes to them. You can rate us on iTunes or write a review about the show. You can always download the Stitcher app and listen to us from there. You can use the shop on our website. And we love, love, love your feedback, so please send us at GymCastic@gmail.com, or you can leave a message by calling 415-800-3191, or you can leave us a message on Skype, our username is GymCastic Podcast. And until next week, I am Jessica O’Beirne from Masters-Gymnastics.com. And we have just updated our class map to include Australia, Singapore, and Spain.
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner, and I’ll be at the American Cup this week covering podium training and competition, as well as the Nastia Liukin cup, so swing by the Gymnastics Examiner, we’ll be doing some Quick Hits and just some general knowledge gathering and interviews, so we’d love it if you stop by.
SPANNY: I’m Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile. Last week we did a recap of what I thought was an anti-drug PSA, but it turns out it was an episode of a show from the 70s called Quincy Medical Examiner, about the dangers of dosing on drugs and then competing in gymnastics. Shut up.
UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym, and on Thursday of this week I will be putting up an American Cup Drinking Game so that you can play it while you watch NBC’s coverage of the meet.
JESSICA: Thanks you guys, we’ll see you next week.
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