WU (translating for Fan): The best part is I always dreamed to be a World Champion, they provided very good doctors and nutritionists, everybody to help me achieve my dream. And then the bad part is because I was spending so much time on training, education was a little lacking. They do have education, but still most of the time it’s doing the training so when she retired she was spending so much time catching up with the education.
—[[“Express Yourself” – INTRO MUSIC]]
JESSICA: This week we talk about the French International, Aly on Dancing with the Stars, we have an interview with 2003 World Champion Chinese gymnast Fan Ye, and we talk about the NCAA scoring debacle.
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 25 for March 20, 2013. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner
SPANNY: I’m Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile
UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: This is the best and only gymnastics podcast in the universe starting with the top news stories from around the gymternet. And before we start with the news we want to remind you about the major, huge, incredible, exciting NCAA ticket contest that we are having! So, five of you are going to win a pair of reserved section tickets to the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships at UCLA Friday April 19th – Sunday April 21st. These are the good seats, they are the lower section reserved $55 seats, they’re all session passes, and we are giving them away to you.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah, and all you have to do to enter is like us on Facebook or follow us on Google+ by adding us to one of your circles. If you want to enter more than once you can also link to our show via Twitter or Facebook or another social media platform and email us a screenshot so that we can verify it. Also remember if you have a super, uber private Facebook account, make sure to message us after liking us so that we know that you have liked us. For more information, go to NCAA.com/gymnastics.
JESSICA: So let’s get to the important news now, now that you’re all gonna go directly to Facebook or Google+ so you can enter the contest or tweet about us so you can be entered twice. Shawn Johnson will be performing on three, not one but three, Dancing with the Stars themed cruise ships, – cruises, not just cruise ships, but cruises – in June and July on the Holland America line, so thank god it’s not those that keep blowing up in the Caribbean stranding people, these go to like Alaska and that kind of thing. So yeah, not one but three, her partner will join her for one, and yeah. On the one hand I’m really excited for her and on the other hand I feel like this is kind of sad, what do you guys think?
SPANNY: I don’t know that anybody aspires to be a cruise ship performer, I feel like it’s a step down. That said Dancing with the Stars is pretty high profile even still, so who knows what the quality will be.
UNCLE TIM: All I want to know is if Barry Manilow will be on the cruise with her. That’s all I care about.
JESSICA: They better be putting her up in the penthouse, that’s all I have to say about that.
SPANNY: Cruises have gotten kind of a bad rap lately.
SPANNY: I feel that this might not be the best time to invest in a new cruise ship theme. Because I think the theme lately has been like, ‘are you gonna be stuck on a boat full of crap’, I don’t know.
SPANNY: Maybe there’s nowhere to go but up.
JESSICA: Maybe this is what they’re hoping everyone’s forgetting about, being stranded then having to poo in a bag, and by the summertime they’ll just be concentrating on Shawn.
SPANNY: Yeah. Who cares if you don’t have water or electricity, Shawn Johnson’s dancing!
UNCLE TIM: She’ll light up the building![LAUGHTER]
SPANNY: Book my ticket.
JESSICA: So speaking of dancing…
SPANNY: Yeah, Dancing with the Stars premiered tonight, well the night that we’re recording, Monday night. Alexandra Raisman – just so we know, it is Alexandra – she performed tonight, she wore pink, a very… well you know what she looked cute, whatever. Yes it was hot pink, it was very low cut, I was worried about a malfunction. But we’ll start with the opening, the package they put together. For what it’s worth, I mean people give her such a hard time for, ‘oh she has no personality’ in her interviews to her floor routine, her little package fluff piece or whatever was pretty cute. The dancing… she was aggressive and she was very, uh, personable we’ll say. She didn’t shut her mouth, that’s…
JESSICA: Really? You mean she was just talking a lot or her mouth was hanging open while she danced?
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
SPANNY: No, no, no, no, she literally had her mouth open like the entire time. I’m not a good critic of ballroom dancing, I don’t know the technical details, I do know that she looked like she was trying to eat something. Her mouth was alternating between gaping open and kissy faces.
SPANNY: To the point where I would say facially she needed to take a step back from the hamming face. But that’s always, in any performance it’s better to have someone go too far and then bring them back as opposed to try and push them to put more energy into it. If our main criticism is that she was too animated, yeah okay I’m going to say it: Alexandra Raisman was too animated for her dance. Like that’s an awesome problem to have.
JESSICA: We never ever thought we would hear that.
JESSICA: That’s huge. It’s major, major progress for her.
SPANNY: Right. Honestly, I tuned out once the judges started yapping, I think they said something maybe it was she could do more, which I guess physically she could. There was a lot of rump shaking; I think there was a pretty aggressive shimmy in there. I’d say it was – I think they gave her sevens which makes sense to me. It wasn’t the best dance I’ve ever seen but for her it was pretty good. They love Olympians on this show so. I know I will be, if not watching every week, I will be finding the YouTube video the next day for sure to see how she does.
UNCLE TIM: I’m watching the video right now and I am now seeing what you say about a wardrobe malfunction.
SPANNY: [LAUGHS] Right.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah…
JESSICA: I learned a lot about double stick tape, and taping to leotards, and taping for dancing this weekend, and I was horrified but also I feel a little better knowing what I now know. Including that not only do they tape themselves down and they tape themselves to the outfit, but then they also use like that scrunchie tape to figure eight their boobs in as well. So I feel like the dancers… like as gymnasts we may not know how to do this, but the dancers have really got the boob malfunction thing down to a science.
SPANNY: Except for Janet Jackson.
JESSICA: Except for her, because yes, clearly that was meant to happen but not meant to happen.
SPANNY: Another, well if we’re talking about Olympic athletes, Dorothy Hamill competed and her little piece was like tear jerking. I don’t buy into this crap, but if you want to check out one other routine from the night if you watch her fluff piece and then watch her routine. Even though they were wearing purple onesies [inaudible]
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I…
SPANNY: Watch it, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
JESSICA: I totally – I think she’s gonna win. Because she’s Dorothy freaking Hamill, okay? Ice skaters will always beat everyone else’s asses. And that is all I have to say about that.
SPANNY: Yeah the kids are going to vote for the Disney girlie or Aly, but your parents are going to vote for Dorothy Hamill.
JESSICA: Yeah and everybody knows that the demographic for these shows – like that’s why I think that Shawn Johnson is doing a freaking cruise – the demographic for these shows, including American Idol is 50 and up, those are the people that watch this. And I know this because there is a meeting of the 50 and up age group at work every Tuesday to review Dancing with the Stars, and every time I walk in on it I’m like, ‘wow, so this is demographic proven. Here we go’. In other news, there was a documentary on Uchimura released which I think is called “Samurai Soul” or like the series is “Samurai Soul,” and we’ll put a link up to it. So we checked it out and it’s pretty cute. You get to look into his training, you know it was done a while ago, but you get to look into his training you find out about his family. There were some interesting things in it like his parents opened a gym in their house, both of his parents were gymnasts, and the gym is still running. His mom, oh my god, like I’ve seen pictures of her before but his mom legit looks like a teenager. She does her hair in little pig tails, she’s super, super buff, but in her coaching style she’s like so adorably youthful, just she totally looks like a kid at heart, you know? And some of the other things we see is we see the general dudes hanging out at workout and that kind of stuff, and him being shy all the time. And then you see some things about you know, he did his first ever gymnastics meet he placed last and he was crying about it, and that gave me hope like, “oh see even the best in the world like Michael Jordan. If you are last place in the beginning you can be the best in the world” [LAUGHS] Did you guys draw gymnastics routines in books like they showed his sketchbooks from when he was a kid?
SPANNY: Oh, yeah.
UNCLE TIM: I’m trying to think if I drew routines, I don’t know if I drew routines but I definitely drew gymnasts, and like every art project from like the 3rd grade into 8th grade was related to gymnastics somehow.
JESSICA: Yeah, I totally did that. I still do it sometimes just for fun. I was like maybe this is a common theme that gymnasts don’t talk about but everybody does. Also they showed at the very end his College National Championships was also an adult meet for working adults. I liked that, [[LAUGHS]] if you don’t have a job don’t freaking show up to compete! But that was really cool, it was one was of those open meets like Sho was telling us about last week. What else stood out for you guys?
UNCLE TIM: From the standpoint of fluff, I loved the fact that they included a track scene just because it took me back to a magical moment in 2005 when NBC did a little fluff piece on Nastia and I was like, ‘oh the track scene in gymnastics fluff spans languages, and crosses all linguistic barriers, and geographic barriers’, and I was like ‘aww that’s cute. What else did I find interesting, when they went to the restaurant. There’s this moment when they go to this ramen restaurant and I was thinking ‘oh they’re not that different from American students their eating ramen’, but theirs is probably a little different.
SPANNY: Lots of ramen, yeah.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] But they were eating fried chicken and I was thinking, ‘oh nooo!’ This would never be allowed down in Texas, let’s just put it that way.
JESSICA: Mm-hmm, I thought the same thing when I saw that.
UNCLE TIM: And then of course like you mentioned last week, there’s the scene where he’s just picking the dead skin off his hands.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I know! I was like seriously? He’s totally like, ‘this is really embarrassing…like are you seriously gonna film this right now, me picking off my dead skin?’ I like that part. He just seems like a cool, chill guy, you know? Way shyer than I thought. I think they always like ‘oh he’s shy’, but he really does seem like a very shy, quiet person. Okay so now from shy we go to…
UNCLE TIM: Not so shy.
JESSICA: It’s like the opposite!
UNCLE TIM: We’re going to Brazil. Full Twist linked to this article and it’s actually in Portuguese, but there is something called the Arnold Classic down in Brazil. Can anybody here do a very good Arnold Schwarzenegger impression for us? Anyone?
SPANNY: Get to the chopp-ah![[LAUGHTER]]
UNCLE TIM: Thank you.
SPANNY: Yes. My talents are limitless.
UNCLE TIM: So they have this classic, which is more of a gymnastics workshop. You show up and basically it’s for coaches and judges and whatever, you just go and it sounds like do gymnastics for fun and you get a diploma at the end of it. But our favorite, Oksana Chusovitina is going to be there. She’s like all over the world right now and she’s going to be hanging out with Arnold, so that’s kind of exciting. In other news, our favorite guest, or one of our many favorites, he had his invitational this past weekend and America sent several male gymnasts to compete. And in the senior division Akash Modi won the all-around with an 84.525 beating Canada’s Anderson Loren with an 84.075, and coming in third Sean Melton with an 83.225.
SPANNY: You know I was thinking about this, because this isn’t the first I’ve heard of this Arnold Classic, I feel like I’m not sure if it’s from when I lived in L.A., which you guys would know about it then too, when I lived in L.A. – it was definitely something held in the States at some point.
JESSICA: Didn’t they used to have it on the beach in Santa Monica? Or not Santa Monica… what’s that, is it Santa Monica where there is that ghetto ass skating area with the Muscle Beach?
SPANNY: Um, Venice?
JESSICA: Venice, that’s it!
JESSICA: My apologies to everyone who I just called your neighborhood ghetto ass, but it’s kind of… it’s like Berkeley. You know, like it’s fun but dirty.
SPANNY: [inaudible] with the rings. But I feel like that’s the image, without googling it, I have a mental image of Arnold and he’s got like two boys sitting on his shoulders or something. And there’s like black and white pictures of like on the rings.
SPANNY: We’ll have to do a little more research and try to figure out where this is coming from and which memory in my brain this is triggering.
JESSICA: I’m imaging one of the pictures of, oh my god I’m forgetting the original founder of IG but their offices were down there and they used to have a museum there before they moved to Oklahoma and Ziert took over, I feel like there’s a picture of that dude doing a handstand on his desk and they had that meet on the sand out there, like it was all combined. And Kathy Johnson even competed or some of the eighties Olympians… we’ll put our historian on the job.
SPANNY: Glenn Sundby.
JESSICA: Glenn Sundby, thank you! Whew! I’m pretty sure that’s him. I’m also thinking about Xanadu now.
JESSICA: For you young kids, google it. You’ll be appalled.
SPANNY: And thrilled!
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] And thrilled, yes. All right.
JESSICA: So Blythe, you had kind of an exciting weekend, tell us where you were.
BLYTHE: It was an awesome weekend! I was in a place called Mouilleron-le-captif which is sort of sub-suburb of Nantes which is the big city in Western France, and that was where the French International was held this year. Normally it’s in Paris but they decided to have a change and sort of exploit this beautiful new arena that they built about six month ago to hold it at Mouilleron. Yeah, it was great. I was able to do quick hits for the French Gymnastics Federation in really terrible French, but you know hopefully I succeeded to convey some information and it was just a lot of fun.
JESSICA: So one of the things that was a… it was kind of cool when we were watching just the prelims and the warm ups on the TV is it looked like the arena was completely full and that just for practice people were totally loving it, so who was in there?
BLYTHE: Oh, yeah. So what they did on the day of open podium training, even though this is not a podium competition, it wasn’t this year, is they bring school groups in. So it’s really fun for the students and I swear, I mean the French just cheer like crazy for their gymnasts, and for everybody really. It’s the only country in the world I think, where you have somebody running down the vault runway and the crowd is going, “aaaaaaaaaaahh!” you know as they run.
BLYTHE: And the atmosphere is just awesome. The Vendespace where the competition was held is 5,000 seats and that’s compared to like 15,000 or so at Bercy so it was a lot more intimate. But it was awesome, I think the school children loved it, the teachers loved that they didn’t have to teach, and the gymnasts I think really got a kick out of crowd support. I felt very sorry for the Italians. They brought them in by session and the school children only stayed for about 90 minutes/two hours, so by the time Vanessa Ferrari and Carlotta Ferlito were doing their training it was like 5:30 PM and there was nobody in the arena.
BLYTHE: But the majority of the people and especially the French gymnasts, you know they made sure the French gymnasts were training when the school kids were in there, it was very, very festive.
JESSICA: That’s awesome! I love to hear that.
BLYTHE: Yeah. It was awesome!
JESSICA: So one of the things they did which they do all the time in ice skating but we don’t often see in gymnastics is they had like a kiss and cry area where they waited for the scores.
BLYTHE: They did. I think that that is kind of compulsory at FIG World Cup competitions these days, although the French sort of take advantage of it more than a lot of other countries maybe in terms of the athletes leave the floor and they actually go and sit in the kiss and cry, and I feel like that doesn’t happen at all the World Cups – at some of them, but not all of them.
JESSICA: And so one of the controversies that came out of this was the start value for Afanasyeva’s floor routine. The controversy was that she didn’t have the connection value but made it to finals anyway. Was there any buzz about that there?
BLYTHE: There was a little bit amongst the French and the federation simply kind of put its foot down and said… because it didn’t come out until I feel like several hours after the competition ended and so everybody came back for finals the next day. And the federation simply said look, we’re not changing the score, things happened as they happened, those four, well five gymnasts, you know they took Marine Brevet and they played the wild card which is a really unknown rule I feel like…
JESSICA: Yeah, what’s this wild card?
BLYTHE: The way it works is when your country is the host of a World Cup competition, you know it’s divided between men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, if nobody from your country qualifies either a guy or a woman, and of course Hamilton Sabot qualified on Parallel Bars but on the women’s side nobody qualified for finals from France, and if that happens the country has the right to play a wild card and just sort of elevate one of their women. Or if nobody had qualified on the men’s side they would have been able to put whoever they wanted to really in finals. And so they decided with Marine Brevet you know, she finished fifth on floor, she did a very nice routine, they want to encourage her, she was injured in 2012, she didn’t go to the Olympic Games and that was really too bad because she absolutely deserved to go, you know has a very high level of skill and she’s worked very hard to get back. And I think they’re thinking towards the European Championships, they want to give her as much exposure as possible so they decided that she would participate on floor, and they have the right to do that.
JESSICA: Interesting. I like that they didn’t go back and do anything about Afanasyeva’s routine because it’s like if you don’t call it right then or someone doesn’t point it out it’s too late. Yes it’s not fair, but I like that they did the wild card!
BLYTHE: Yeah, and again you can say well maybe if Afanasyeva had had that deduction she wouldn’t have been in the top four and that’s not fair to the fifth girl, but the fifth girl was Marine Brevet so I feel like it all sort of sorted itself out.
BLYTHE: And Afanasyeva, I mean, you can take the deduction if you like but she absolutely deserves to be in like, every floor final. She’s an Olympic finalist, World Champion on the event; I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt on this one. Yeah, no hard feelings about it whatsoever.
JESSICA: Yeah exactly. So what were your impressions of the women’s competition? Who stood out for you?
BLYTHE: Oh, man. I was impressed by Brevet. I really was, you know, and I was impressed by Afan, too. She does not look like she has taken an enormous amount of time off or anything like that. You know, she didn’t do a lot in training, but that’s the Russian style. They just sort of whip it out for the competition.
BLYTHE: And Giulia Steingruber from Switzerland, also. She wins vault and she wins bars. And, I don’t really want to say those are her two events because she’s quite the all around gymnast, really, and she did terrifically. Little Anne Kuhm from France who was really the other French female who had the crowd really behind her. She actually has an elbow injury and I was told that she couldn’t actually bend her elbow to 90 degrees on the day of the competition.
JESSICA: Oh my god.
BLYTHE: So there was a little bit of choreography that was bent elbowed, but she covered up for it very well, and she did well. It could not have been easy to get up there and perform like that. She did fall twice from the balance beam, but she also, I believe she’s just 16, she has a really, really bright future in front of her, so. And yeah. Those are the people who really stood out, at least as far as the women go. Oh, I do want to say one thing about Alexa Moreno, though, from Mexico. She didn’t make vault finals but she threw a Randy and a Tsukahara Double Full. And she didn’t quite get the Tsukahara Double Full around, and so she fell, but she did it in training and it was awesome and she also looks really at the top of her form, and I feel that she’s one to watch as we move towards Worlds and those competitions.
JESSICA: So how about the men’s side. There were some unfortunate injuries and then Danell Leyva looks like he’s actually looking better even though he had a bit of a mistake on high bar.
BLYTHE: Yeah, I don’t know what to remark on on Leyva’s performance. Everyone loves him. Everybody loves Yin. The crowd totally got into—they saw the two of them preparing, and as Yin lifted Danell to the high bar they started doing that five clap thing that Yin does, and it was a really great moment and it made you understand how much the crowd was enthusiastic about gymnastics and really knew the sport, and that was awesome. And Danell—I mean, Tim has talked about this a little bit, Danell has a longer body line, he’s not short and muscle-y like a Jonathan Horton type, and it’s harder for him to get into real routine shape, he’s probably got to do a ton of numbers, and at this point in the season, maybe you don’t want to be burning yourself out by doing a ton of numbers, and so, and then at the American Cup we saw the mistakes that he made because he was sick, and he just seems to be taking his time to sort of round out his form and he definitely looked more solid here than he did two weeks ago. And, you know, yeah, that’s fine. Kristian Thomas just—god, what a shame. He did a fantastic Yurchenko double pike, just before he did that handspring double front, and just landed badly. It appears that he has just dislocated his kneecap. That’s sort of the latest. And they are that there might also be some tendon damage, but nobody is saying, yeah, he tore his ACL.
JESSICA: Well, that’s good.
BLYTHE: Yeah. It carries a recovery time of about four to six months, but certainly gymnasts, they recover pretty easily, it seems, these days from torn patellas, and so hopefully, he’ll be back doing that vault if he wants to.
JESSICA: So did he just, did he land crooked, or did he open up too soon, or did he land with straight legs? It was hard to tell, exactly.
BLYTHE: I think he must have landed a little bit straight. I saw him do the vault, and actually, I didn’t think anything was wrong. He over rotated it, and he did a forward role, and I was just occupied with writing quick hits, and so I just stopped watching him for a few moments, and unfortunately, he fell, and then looked up maybe 10 seconds later and he was still down on the mat, and that’s like oh. Oh. And then clutching his knee and everything, and they got to him right away, of course, but you just never want to see that and you always wonder when that happens, but you know, the vault itself didn’t actually look bad. The landing didn’t look bad, at least from my vantage point, but he must have landed a little bit straight legged.
JESSICA: So there has been a little bit of debate. Gymnasticscoaching.com Rick put up a note saying that he thought the FIG should change the mats, and looking at it, one of the things that stands out with these mats is that the fabric that covers the mat itself is a little bit looser than what we’re used to in the United States. Like, what we’re used to, the mat coverings are very, very tight, like, you couldn’t pinch it, the landing mats used for competition, and there they’re very loose. And what was your impression and your comments about that?
BLYTHE: Well, I think you’d have to ask the athletes. I don’t think I’ve even walked on a Gymnova mat so I wouldn’t be a person to talk to about that, but the thing that occurs to me is, yes, we maybe are seeing more injuries that we’ve ever seen on vault, but we’re also seeing vaults that are out of this world difficult, and the guys who are doing vault finals in world cup meets like this are doing not just one, but two incredibly difficult vault. In this world final, you had four or five guys who were really extraordinary, and then you had Igor Radivilov, a guy who has yet to get his due on vault, and Radivilov vaulted in prelims a Tsuk double pike and a Dragulescu. And he didn’t make finals. Granted, he fell on one of them, but this is the level of vault you are looking at these days. Just everybody does things that make you gasp and they do them twice and they do them different entries and different landing positions and, I guess, with this just astounding level of difficulty, people are going to get hurt. It’s unfortunate, and I don’t know if improving the mat is going to help that much just because these things are so difficult.
JESSICA: Yup. That’s true. And it’s good that you pointed out Igor, because as we know, he should make all finals and have a special spotlight on him at all times.
BLYTHE: Igor—you like him, yeah.
JESSICA: I love Igor. Yes.
BLYTHE: Igor. Igor! He looks exactly like a person, what I envision a person called Igor would look like.
JESSICA: Except he doesn’t have a hunchback or prongs like Frankenstein sticking out of his neck. Oh, Igor. And he’s great. So one thing I really liked about this meet, and I like about all of the European world cups, actually, that we haven’t been doing, is that they’ve been putting music on for all of the events, so women’s beam has music and men’s high bar. And especially during Danell Leyva’s routine, it sounded like they had Valhalla or some opera on that was building to a crescendo, and it was so good, it added so much. What did you think? Did you like that? Did it distract anyone? Did it add to the competition?
BLYTHE: I think it’s great, and you’re right, they do that at all the European meets, but especially at this one, and depending on the apparatus, they select things that they think will go with it. During the rings final, it’s all this low, strong person music, which is cool, and during the high bar final, it’s not quite the same as rings, but it seems appropriate. The one thing that I would remark is Vasiliki Millousi of Greece…
JESSICA: Oh, love her.
BLYTHE: …during her routine, they put on Zorba the Greek.
JESSICA: Oh no, they didn’t.
BLYTHE: And—they did. And I felt like it distracted her a little bit. The audience was clapping along and I think, did it, it might have flustered her a little bit. But I didn’t talk to her after about it, and that was kind of a general impression, and think after Tsolakidis, Vasileios Tsolakidis went on parallel bars right after her, they played a different version of Zorba the Greek.
JESSICA: Oh, god.
BLYTHE: And it was funny, but I wonder if the Greek athletes thought so.
JESSICA: We’re going to have to ask her about that. I just love her. She is so beautiful, she does little intricate things, she is so much fun to watch. Yes.
BLYTHE: She is a goddess. The liquid way in which she moves is incredible. And again, after the Olympics, you wonder if athletes, they go off, they do other things, they don’t train, whatever—doesn’t seem to be the case for her. She looks fantastic as ever and wonderful, wonderful skills on beam and presentation and choreography and all that. One thing on beam that I think we’re going to see a lot of during the next four years in this combination front aerial, front aerial, sheep jump. It must be getting people bonus in the code because there’s a ton of people working it. It’s not only Katelyn Ohashi in the US, it’s not only her who is working it, and certainly, yeah, more people than that. But it’s the new, I don’t know. It’s the new back tuck to wolf jump or what have you.
JESSICA: Yeah. I wish there was some way to discourage, like, everyone’s found the one thing in the code they can get, but what can you do? That’s what happens.
BLYTHE: I think you can do worse, for being that one thing in the code that everybody’s going to do, I think you can do worse than front aerial, front aerial. And I would rather see that than front aerial, back handspring layout.
JESSICA: One other thing that I think is remarkable about Vasiliki is that Greece is in total crisis with their economy, so she’s had to find her own funding, and she has this t-shirt clothing company that sponsors for her and she models for them and promotes this clothing company, and that’s how she gets a lot of her funding, and it’s just a great example of how a gymnast can make money from the sport to support themselves and do something really cool and fun at the same time. So I’m always impressed with her.
BLYTHE: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
JESSICA: And I think she’s 28 now, isn’t she?
BLYTHE: She is 28 now.
JESSICA: 28. Yup. Just goes to show. Yup. It can be done. Anything else that stood out to you over there that you want to remark on, or any behind the scenes stuff or competition stuff that you want to talk about?
BLYTHE: Oh my god. I think half the crowd was in love with Alexander Shatilov.[LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Were they screaming when he competed, or what?
BLYTHE: No, but you had these sort of teenage girls in front of the press box chatting, oh, oh, que le beau, he’s so beautiful, and yeah. I think everybody agreed with that.
JESSICA: That’s awesome. I think there’s a lot more of the Beatles phenomenon over in Europe with gymnastics, and it’s not just girls for boys, it’s girls for girls. Like, the way that rhythmic gymnastics, the popularity is there, they scream for the rhythmic gymnasts like they are a rock band. They’re just absolutely idolized.
BLYTHE: Oh, they do. The rhythmic gymnastics world cups, I don’t know. It is like a rock concert. And there’s a huge level of admiration for what they’re doing. And when they completed their difficult elements, even if you don’t know, as an onlooker, quite realize that it’s a difficult element and they’ve done something really well, there is kind of a burst of applause, and that’s really interesting, because to me, rhythmic, it all kind of blends in—I hope I don’t get into trouble with anybody for saying that—but I’m not specialist in it. And so sometimes, the routine is so smooth, that I don’t necessarily realize that, oh, they just completed the equivalent of an E-level skill, but the crowd does. They get it. And they applaud. And it’s really nice.
SPANNY: We all know that the Tumbl Trak is excellent for gymnasts. It’s also a huge lifesaver for coaches. As a recreational coach, sometimes a group of enthusiastic rec kids could be a little overwhelming for me. Thank goodness for the TumblTrak. Before class, I would go over my lesson plans and wonder how I could adjust them just a little so as to include some more TumblTrak equipment. Suddenly, leg conditioning didn’t seem so bad if it included bouncing on the TumblTrak. I got to be a little creative, and the kids got to try some new and fun drills. Thank you TumblTrak. Find inspiration for your classes at www.tumbltrak.com.
JESSICA: We’re really excited to bring you this interview with Fan Ye. And again, it’s not often that we get to hear interviews with our foreign world champions, so we have some interpreting from Jiani Wu, who Anna Li’s coach and mother, and also the National Team coach and was a five-time National Chinese champion. I just learned that, I didn’t know that. I knew she was an Olympic and World medalist, but I didn’t know that. So we want to thank them a lot for helping with this interview, and I think it was really interesting and I think it was great to hear from somebody who we normally don’t get to because of the language barrier. So I just wanted to let you know about how we will be jumping back and forth between the interpreting. Ok. Here it comes.
SPANNY: This week, we spoke with Chinese retired gymnast and beam World Champion Fan Ye. A beam fans dream, Fan Ye competed with the perfect blend of difficulty and artistry. Despite a lackluster competition with her team at the Athens Olympics, Fan Ye is still held in gymnastics fans hearts as being one of the last great beam performers. A personal favourite of mine, we are so excited to have her on the show.[[INTERVIEW]]
SPANNY: Let’s talk about your current trip to the United States. What brings you to the States, and to Legacy Elite?
FAN: It’s my first time coming to Chicago. I came here because I wanted to take a video about gymnastics and… [JESSICA VOICEOVER] Because Anna, Jiani, and Yuejiu are very famous in China, she wants to make a video about them because the World Championships are in China. So the video will tell Chinese gymnastics fans what it’s like to train in the US and what the differences are between gymnastics in the US and China.
SPANNY: So far, how does Chicago compare to Beijing?
FAN: I think that it is very cold, but Beijing is very big. Beijing is like New York, and Nanning has many people and everybody is so fast. But in Chicago, I think it is very relaxed and I’m making fun and everybody’s very nice. Interesting.
SPANNY: Good. So, we heard you guys went line dancing last night. Did you enjoy yourself or did you like country music?
FAN: I like country music dancing. I learned many line dancing.
SPANNY: It sounds like a lot of fun, so Midwestern. What are you doing work-wise or professionally right now?
FAN: Now I’m a student. My major is journalism and communication, so in the future, I will be a journalist about sports in China.
SPANNY: A couple of questions about your background as a gymnast. Were you chosen to be a gymnast, and if so, how were you selected?
FAN: I started gymnastics because I was [inaudible], energetic, and so my parents, they wanted [me] to go to a place that could give me something to do, so I took up gymnastics.
JESSICA: In the US, we always think that everybody is specially selected and then their family lets them leave and be taken away by the state to be raised. Is that how it happened for her, and how she ended up at the National Training Center?
WU (translating for Fan): No, because she’s very elegant, her parents think that she should do something instead of be at home, and so near her house they have a children’s sports center, and anybody can go to it, and so they sent her there for training, and they saw her talent, and when you have talent, they’re going to talk to your parents and ask your parents if you would be interested in your child going into professional gymnastics at a sports training center. And the interest, that’s how she started. And she showed her talent there, and did very well after a year at the sports training center, so they selected her to the gymnastics [team].
SPANNY: What were the best and worst parts about being an athlete?
WU (translating for Fan): The best part is I always dreamed to be a World Champion, they provided very good doctors and nutritionists, everybody to help me achieve my dream. And then the bad part is because I was spending so much time on training, education was a little lacking. They do have education, but still most of the time it’s doing the training so when she retired she was spending so much time catching up with the education.
SPANNY: Speaking of the world champion goal, you were magnificent and fearless as a gymnast. What was the hardest skill to learn and what was the scariest?
WU (translating for Fan): The hard part was vault, because she’s not that strong. When she vaults she feels like she’s going to crash. So she didn’t like to work vault that much at all. And then the most scary skill is [inaudible] the back layout, even as a Chinese tradition, because I’m afraid of backwards too, and she didn’t like that skill at all.
SPANNY: And you were the best one to do it. [LAUGHS] That’s crazy. Speaking of, we’ll talk about beam and World Championships again, you hold the distinction of receiving the highest score of the 2001-2004 quad. In fact, your score was so famous that our own Jessica made a sign with your score on it and held it up at the judges at the 2004 Olympic Trials. Yes, that beam routine has absolutely left an impact on just about every gymnastics fan in the United States. That said, how do you feel about the loss of the 10.0 scoring system?
WU (translating for Fan): It did affect her, the new rules change, because her speciality is to do every skill perfect and try to get the perfect 10. And when the rules changed it made it harder on her because her speciality was always trying the perfect 10. And now if you want [to win], you have to add even more difficulty to achieve that. So that’s why it affected her a lot. She’s not too crazy about it.
SPANNY: Well, neither am I. I think fans, we appreciate that effort to achieve the perfect 10 and to have that execution and beauty. We’ll change up a little bit with one kind of random fashion question. All gymnasts have to battle dreaded wedgie. China has sometimes been known for losing this battle. As a gymnast, did you have any say in the cut or design of your leotard? And did you have a favorite leotard?[LAUGHTER]
WU (translating for Fan): When they did the international competitions they don’t choose what they want to wear. And when you compete in National Championships, they do allow [them to] wear whatever they like. In 2005 in the National meet she actually wore a [different leotard every day] and her favorite one was the blue one because it has [inaudible] on it. And that’s when she won all-around in the national meet, so that’s her favorite leotard.
SPANNY: We’ll look it up and so we can post pictures and share with everyone. We’ll ask some questions real quick on the current state of gymnastics because we’d definitely like to know your opinions on that. It’s a popular opinion that current Chinese beamers don’t compete with the same amount of artistry as they did back when you competed. Do you know, is there a reason behind this? And what is your opinion on the artistic component of the current beam routines?
WU (translating for Fan): The rule change, because the new Code change in the last quad. And that’s why you don’t have that much artistry in there. But now the new Code changes for this quad, and they have at least a point artistry deduction. And as her right now [inaudible], hopes very soon we see the changes for the dance and artistry is important now for the next quad.
SPANNY: Team USA has been bolstered by the coaching of previous Chinese athletes. Is this a big source of pride for China?
WU (translating for Fan): Really happy for the Chinese coaches and Americans, and [they are] doing a great job. Still from China, you know, and they’re proud of that. And at the same time they’re competitive and they want to be World Champions too, so they try to work really hard. They try to [inaudible] because they’re very competitive and want to be champions too.
SPANNY: Right, sounds like a healthy competition. Competitive spirit. Alright. Did you watch the London Olympic Games? And if so, what were your thoughts?
WU (translating for Fan): She said she’s a reporter this Olympic Games and she watched the team. She feel[s] like they needed some change, and [they] need to look at the power training and some part[s] of technique [training]. Some part of the training system needs to be a little change[d]. And they did really good in the 2008 [Olympics] and they try to change but it’s still hard because the system has been there for so long and it’s been hard for them to try to change.
SPANNY: So do you believe then that the team success is in the process of changing the system? Or does it need to be completely overhauled?
WU (translating for Fan): Well Chinese gymnastics actually really, if we want to be successful like in 2008, we do need to make some changes.
JESSICA: And what kind of changes does she think should be made? Is she saying that your husband needs to come back? [LAUGHS]
WU (translating for Fan): She said that Chinese definitely [need a high training level] and she feels there’s just not enough competition for these athletes and if they add and change [to have more competitions] then that would help.
SPANNY: What, if anything, what do you want American gymnastics fans to know about China?
WU (translating for Fan): She would like to have all American gymnastics fans to know more Chinese gymnastics and go online to look up and to know how they are doing. World Champions, Olympic Champions, retired. They are trying so hard to learn English to help them communicate better. That’s what she’s doing, trying to go back and forth to have all the gymnastics Chinese fans and American fans to know each other.
FAN: Many Chinese gymnasts learn English and they want to speak English and study hard. So I wish maybe in the future we can talk [inaudible]. So it is my best wish.
JESSICA: So what can the fans here do to follow some of the awesome Chinese athletes.
FAN: Ok so in China, every Chinese athlete has Webo. Webo [is] like Twitter. So every day [inaudible] information on the Webo.
ANNA LI: Every athlete has like a Chinese Twitter on Webo. It’s just like Twitter.
SPANNY: Ok yeah I’ve seen that. You see that on all the little gymnastics sites when people steal your pictures off of there and share them everywhere.
WU (translating for Fan): Her goal is online to set up [a] gymnastics fan program. So it can be English and Chinese, both. So for everybody [to] know more about Chinese gymnastics and the whole world [can know] about gymnastics. And that’s her dream, to set up a program online.
SPANNY: I think that’ll be so much fun. I think that’s going to be really successful. There’s definitely such a huge following here in the states that I think everybody will be really excited to learn more.
FAN: Thank you very much.
SPANNY: Oh you’re welcome. Alright, if, or when, we all find ourselves at the 2014 World Championships, how would we root for a Chinese gymnast? Is there something that you would say from the stands to cheer for your favorite Chinese gymnast?
FAN: Jai yo is “come on!” [*****], “you’re the best!”
SPANNY: Thank you again so much. Yeah you are the best ever and we are all so excited that you’re here and that we had a chance to get to ask you some questions and share with everybody.
FAN: Thank you.
JESSICA: So that was really fun to talk to her. And we really want to thank the Li family for helping us with the translation. And so what kind of stood out for your Spanny?
SPANNY: I’m excited. Well just the fact that she’s here and they’re promoting the World Championships for next year. I’m excited to see these videos she’s here to film. I’m interested, because after like when Florida bid for Worlds and it was such a phoned-in performance, I’m excited to see what China is offering. If their plan is to fly Fan Ye out here to promote the competition, I’m excited.
JESSICA: I really love that she is so passionate about connecting fans with Chinese gymnasts because in this interview we were so excited to talk to her. Because of the language barrier it’s so hard to communicate. And so we love that she has the same passion we do about connecting gymnastics fans and getting more interviews out there and getting those connections out there. So we’ll definitely keep track of her projects and let you guys know about them as we find out. And you know maybe the Chinese gymnastics federation should fly us out to help.
JESSICA: Just throwing it out there.
JESSICA: Yeah, we’d do a great job with that I think.
SPANNY: Granted it was rough, but her almost insistence and ambition to do the interview in English.
SPANNY: Which I felt like we almost had to pull back on because I was having a hard time understanding. But her ability was incredible.
JESSICA: We saw the tenacity that made her World champion in her tenacity to “I’m going to speak and do this entire interview in English. I can do it.” You know?
JESSICA: I never thought I would actually talk to the 9.812 scorer in my life. And I remember holding that sign up in front of the judges and the judges totally looked at it and busted up laughing. They totally appreciated. They were like, “Yes, yes, we wish we could give something close to a 10 too.” But she deserved to have the highest score ever in the old system.
SPANNY: She really really did.
JESSICA: That’s why we love her. The last of the great beam workers before beam was destroyed by the evil Code.
SPANNY: I will never forget. Because I- yeah we were, we all lived in LA at the time. And I was two or three rows back up from beam. And that’s all I kept saying. China’s on beam! China, beam, real life.
SPANNY: And then that was, really it was the last great. Now when you think of Chinese beam you think of skill, stop, skill, stop. And they’re still very good, they still win, it’s just not the quality that we were accustomed to. And I think that, especially Fan Ye, that team was the last glorious…
SPANNY: …beam team, and in my head will always represent- like that era will always represent Chinese beam to me. From the 80s to 2004. After that, yeah not so much.
JESSICA: Yep. I totally agree.
“Their athletic power excites.”
“She’s coming on strong right now.”
“Their artistic movements inspire. And no matter what challenge awaits, their goal remains the same.”
“Wins become critical.”
“That was fantastic!”
“Experience it live at the 2013 National Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Championships. April 19-21 at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. Hosted by UCLA. Tickets start at $32. Visit ncaa.com/tickets to make a date with champions.”
JESSICA: Alright it has been an insane week. I went on Twitter on Saturday night and I thought there was going to be a riot. Spanny, tell us what’s been going on?
SPANNY: Well let’s start with Friday night. An anticipated meet was Alabama vs Oklahoma. And Oklahoma did well, they just didn’t perform up to their standard, and so they did let it go to Alabama. And eh, maybe there was some grumbling, but people are like eh, you know, Bama performed better. I think they are kind of silently ninja-ing their way to finals, as they have done the last two years. That said, nobody cares, because Saturday night happened and overshadowed everything else that’s happened over the last 10 years. I put it in quotes as “Utah ‘Upsets’ Florida. Let’s discuss that. So. Utah, if we’re going by numbers, the best performance in a decade. 198.125. Nearly a full point higher than they’ve scored all year. Their last score that was even close to this was 197.9 in 2009 vs Brigham Young, also a home meet. They scored 198.125, which is nearly a full point higher than they have scored all year. We’ll start with that. Was this Utah’s best meet in almost 10 years? I say hell no. Compared directly to Florida, they were not the better team. Let’s break down a few- kind of look at how this melted down in the way that it did. So one or two judges handed out a 10 five separate times during the meet. Five. I think only one or two only ended up being 10s. Two of these routines had obvious visible errors. The beam rotation was ridiculous. These were…
JESSICA: When they got to beam and floor, I was just like what the hell is going on.
SPANNY: Yeah, is this real life? Especially because some of these deductions are textbook deductions. They’re not like ooh an amplitude deduction where it could be in the eyes of the beholder maybe. These were no, there’s a set deduction. Two routine, Mary Beth Lofgren and Georgia Dabritz, each had a break in the routine where they bent more than 90 degrees at the waist. They bent in half to save a fall. That’s more than a .15. That’s assuming the rest of the routine was absolutely perfect, which they were not. These were not- I don’t even think there were, I can’t think of one- maybe Georgia on bars, there were no stuck landings on any event.
JESSICA: Yeah and Mary Beth Lofgren’s beam routine, I had her at a 9.75 max. Max. There’s no way you can get higher than that. It’s just not possible. You just have to totally ignore- you have to close your eyes in the routine, basically.
SPANNY: The math just doesn’t work out.
JESSICA: This meet, when I was watching this, I really wanted them to have the match play format because it would make it so much more obvious how egregious the errors or favoritism or whatever it was in judging were. I really wanted them to have that format so we could see the Florida gymnast go on beam, then the Utah gymnast go on beam right after her. Because it almost seems like the judges were looking to see the other score and then matched it no matter what happened. This meet was so bad that I was trying to describe it to people, like how bad it was, and I was like, “The scoring was- “And they were like, “Oh it’s gymnastics of course.” And I was like, “No no no, like this is Romanian, like this is French ice skating judges bad.”
SPANNY: Let’s discuss this 198 because that seems to be this new benchmark that we’ve seen- you know we haven’t seen for years and this year we’ve had, what four of them now. K. So. As a team score, 198 was prevalent in the late 90s, early 2000s. When we think of that era we think of Georgia and UCLA. A top score from Georgia would be in the high 197s, except they always seemed to score really well. They did this past weekend too against North Carolina State. We did see a 198.375 in 1999 which is where my research begins. And just deal with it, I only did the top four teams until those later years. Just deal with it.
JESSICA: Until we have our own personal crack research staff, this will do.
SPANNY: Yes, yes. So scores escalated for the next four years with all top four teams scoring 198+ at various home meets. UCLA broke 198 five times in one year in 2003. Four of those times at home, one being away from home. Now you have to see, go to YouTube and watch UCLA, because this is when they led the empire. These were their glory years. So if you have not watched this team, I suggest you do, and then decide what a real 198 performance looks like. This is when the team was stacked with Olympians. This was kind of the epitome of collegiate gymnastics. But by 2004 all the top four teams were drinking the 198 juice and we saw massive team scores. As far as I know this is the record high, I’d have to look more into it- a 198.875 at home from UCLA along with two other 198 scores. Two 198s from Georgia, and a very special 198.6 from Utah vs Brigham Young. Bama, they didn’t break the 198 barrier, but they consistently went in the high 197s. That was up until 2004. After that, we did see one 198 in the next seven years from Georgia in 2009. And if you remember, Georgia won there four years in a row, they did so with high 197s from that legendary group, but no massive scores from anyone else. A good meet would see maybe 196, maybe a low 197. So this is, you know we dropped off, sort of plateaued at the level for a while.
JESSICA: And that year will become, that 2004 will become very important in a moment.
SPANNY: Yes! The next 198 we saw was from UCLA in 2012 last year, a 198.05 at home vs. ASU. So we have had two 198s since 2004. This year, we’ve had FOUR 198s. Florida has done it twice, Oklahoma has done once, and now Utah one time. What does that mean for the sport? For rankings, not so much. What does it mean for credibility? It means a whole lot. Now the sport is already battling an identity crisis where I’d say like 85% of the population already associates gymnastics with underage Chinese girls or abusive adult males. Does it really mean much in the grand scheme of things? Bekah from Get a Grip Gym Blog points out in a blog titled “Judge Well Lest Ye be Judged,” I suggest you read it. It was only this past summer that outlets were claiming that gymnastics wasn’t very difficult because all you need to do is quote unquote wink at some French judges. So I understand this is our podcast. We are geared towards the hardcore fans. So we know that it’s the most difficult sport in the world. Not everybody does. This sport is not taken seriously by enough people. This sport has already revamped itself into some unidentifiable version of what it used to be all in the name of objectivity and credibility. We’ve already ditched the 10. We’ve revamped our entire definition of what a gymnastics routine is because we were sick of cheating judges and worthy routines not winning and home country bias. So long gone are the days when judges met behind closed doors or conferred openly on the floor in order to put their gymnasts in the lead. All it cost us was everything we hold dear about the sport. We are now able to quantify things like artistry and performance. However, our one escape from this new math Olympics is collegiate gymnastics. For those who miss the perfect 10, we have that. For those who miss less difficulty but more execution, we have that. And for those that miss artistry, we have that. Which is why we here at GymCastic have been trying to spread the holy NCAA spirit. Few people realize the glory that lies within collegiate gymnastics because they become so accustomed to accepting what elite gymnastics has to give. And unless you’ve been a fan for the past 20 years, you might not be aware that this sport was not always four tumbling passes and front aerials on beam. My point is that shady scoring robs NCAA of the chance to become mainstream as it could. Even the most uneducated or casual fans read my fiance, he was like what are you ranting about and I showed him and he was like oh that doesn’t make any sense, can watch two routines and see that they should not be scored the same such as it happened at Utah on Saturday night. Likewise, even the most biased, most hardcore home team fan can watch two routines and see that they should not be scored the same. This also happened with Utah fans on Saturday night. I think it was the one time…..like even Utah fans were like that’s embarrassing. It was an accumulative, universal WTF. And some say, it was the first time that the entire Gymternet has ever agreed on anything.
TIM: I think what else sucks about this is because that happened all these people are questioning all the other scores from the weekend. I was at the Cal-Nebraska meet and all of a sudden, I was getting tweets from people asking about Hollie Blanske and Jessie DeZiel’s scores. They both scored 9.95 on vault. I didn’t see Hollie’s vault but I did see Jessie’s and yeah it was definitely worth a 9.95. But it’s just the fact that some other team had these huge scores and suddenly we have to question every single score, every single high score. I think that sucks.
SPANNY: It makes people question the credibility. If we, like the hardcore fans, are questioning the credibility of every single routine, why would someone who’s just getting into the sport care for it?
JESSICA: So how, like this is the thing I’m wondering. How do judges get assigned? I remember something changed about it right? Spanny, what happens now? Something is supposed to have happened to prevent favoritism.
SPANNY: Well, before, teams and coaches were able to pick which judges they wanted to have at their meets. That all changed and judges for NCAA have to put their availability into a computer database where assignors that change every few years assign based on the availability of judges. They choose half the judges from the hometown of the school and the other half are assigned from out of town. No judge can judge at any school more than twice a season and no judge can see the same team more than four times during the season. Two times at home, two times away. However, conference meets, regionals, and nationals do not count. It is great for judges who might not have been picked for meets otherwise. That said, it’s not a guarantee that you will be picked for any of the meets and some say that there still might be some sort of bias or favoritism, if not directly from the coaches or from the school
JESSICA: Yeah so what you are saying is that basically is that there’s a person who actually has to choose from the availability and assign someone. Even though there’s a database, there’s not a computer that just randomly matches. That would automatically take out any bias, making sure that each person was assigned the same amount of time. It’s still a person so we know that sometimes bias does happen and one judge is available for stuff and doesn’t get assigned.
SPANNY: Right, there’s still obviously, I won’t call it human error because I still think it’s more deliberate than that. I think they tried to clarify rules. You are not to be affiliated with the team you are judging for. Things like that. Kind of laughable.
JESSICA: Yeah, small community. But Uncle Tim, you read Suzanne Yoculan’s book and she had a lot to say about this. Can you read us that quote?
UNCLE TIM: Sure. So it comes from Suzanne Yoculan’s book called The Perfect Ten and some people will find irony in the quote that I’m about to read. But I’m going to read it anyway. Suzanne Yoculan said quote “Judges can be biased in one of four ways. One, judges can show favor for a specific team. To me, this is the worst example of bias judging and is probably the least prevalent.” Spanny don’t laugh at that. “Two, they can be biased in scoring all gymnasts higher than guidelines would suggest or lower. Three, judges in one region can, as a group, score higher or lower than judges in another region. Four, judges can be influenced by the reputations of teams or individual gymnasts and favor those with better rankings.” And that’s where the quote ends and she said that in 2004, when coaches could no longer choose their own judges, she really thought that things would change and at the time, Carol Ide was kind of overseeing all of the regional assignors so I’m not really sure what happened but we did notice that a lot of the 198s did disappear after 2004.
JESSICA: Yep, 2004 was a huge change. I just hope that the collective outrage about that meet reaches the ears of the judging assignors and the NCAA establishment because I’ve never heard such outrage.
UNCLE TIM: So how do you think we should remedy this problem? Because it seems like maybe we’re heading towards a pretty 2004 situation again. What are your suggestions or solutions?
JESSICA: Computer generated assignments. True random assignments. There’s no reason someone can’t put together a program to do this. No human should have to be involved at all. And there should be a review system just like, and maybe there is and I don’t know about it, just like there is in the FIG. They have a very serious review system so any irregularity stands out and they get reviewed and I think we need that in NCAA as well.
SPANNY: And I think too, there just needs to be less forgiveness or maybe it’s even expectation, I’m not sure. When you look at the difference between certain teams, look at the difference between their home scores and their away scores. If the difference between those two scores is that obvious, you need to revisit how you are scoring, probably at home. And all those people who are like well that’s “home cooking.” That’s just what’s expected or as we’ve seen in the past week or two, the “senior night bump,” and I think Uncle Tim has a mathematical equation for what that bump actually is. But people are like who it’s their senior night, it’s their last one so they deserve to get an outrageous score. No that’s not. Why are we creating different circumstances and different rules for competing in different arenas or different classes. There just needs to be less forgiveness for allowing this to happen or expecting that it should happen.
JESSICA: And of course there’s the other thing that I’ve said like a hundred times which is that all judging needs to be done on an ipad in real time and the ipad should have a camera on it so that it can be seen in the arena at all times. There should be no paper. There’s no reason for paper. Only if the lights go out like they did in Rotterdam or wherever that was that one Worlds. They should be done in real time and everyone should be able to see what they are writing down in real time. There’s no reason to do it the way it’s being done anymore. Even if the judge is questioning themselves, that would take out that moment of am I questioning myself. Because you know it’s written down. It’s permanent. Everyone can see what you are writing down. Real time ipads. Let’s get it done.
UNCLE TIM: And how do you guys feel about judges judging intrasquad? I mean I remember even when I was competing not NCAA by any means but we would have judges come in and evaluate our routines for optionals before meet season even began. What do you guys think about that? Is it a chance for favoritism to kind of come into NCAA gymnastics?
JESSICA: I mean it is but you have to have that. I mean there could be rules around it or that could also be randomly assigned. You get two intrasquads or one with a judge and it’s randomly assigned. And you have to pay for the judge to fly out from wherever and do it.
SPANNY: Yeah I agree. It’s kind of a necessary evil. I think it’s a practice you see from even the lowest levels. I can’t imagine taking it away just because some of the judges are buttholes.
JESSICA: And some of the judges are awesome. I remember my judge still from when I was little. We loved Fran Earls. She was the best! We’re friends on Facebook now. I just loved her. We looked forward to it. It was like our favorite part of the season when she would give us feedback because she was so sweet, so kind. She was amazing. I just love her.
SPANNY: Those little tidbits that you would receive, almost because it felt like special information is the stuff you really retained. I remember, this wasn’t me, this was my good friend. She didn’t realize she’d been getting deducted. She was grabbing under the beam in the wrong way. A roll or something. But the way she was grabbing the beam. Her coaches never picked out. Nobody ever picked it out that she was doing it incorrectly and the one judge. And again, it was one of those quick little, we’re just going to sit in and judge you real quick. And to this day, she still tells me that story because she remembers it from being a club gymnast. It’s because you feel like it’s special attention and you retain those little hints forever.
UNCLE TIM: This past weekend in men’s NCAA, the big long awaited matchup happened. Number 1 Penn State took on Number 2 Michigan and Penn State pretty much dominated, winning 437.3 to 430.4. We haven’t talked about men’s NCAA in a little while but Sam Mikulak is back and he’s competing on floor and vault again. So that’s exciting after his calf injury. But he’s not necessarily competing his full difficulty that you saw last summer. For instance, on floor, he’s no longer opening with a double double. He is now doing a back 1.5 to a punch double front which is still pretty awesome. Not as awesome as Fabian Hambuchen’s 2.5 to a punch double front but it’s still pretty exciting. And Sam is only dismounting with a double full right now. So we’ll see what happens as elite season comes into play in the near future.
JESSICA: Ok Spanny, what’s happening with listener feedback?
SPANNY: An email: I’m a huge fan of the podcast. I listen to it on my commute and it always makes it go by faster. I’m wondering if there is a way to donate to the podcast. I’m sure there are some costs to making it and I want to keep it going as long as possible. Thank you, Carolyn. Why yes, we do have costs. And we would absolutely 100% worship you for donating to the podcast. We do have a donate button on the site. So by all means, please feel free and thank you 100 million times. Thank you! For our international listener shout out of the week:
JESSICA: Goes to Sweden! Thank you Mullen.
SPANNY: Our Gym Nerd created goodies of the week. Coach Cassie tweeted us about these for Uncle Tim’s birthday a few weeks back. She makes men’s gymnastics photo cufflinks.
UNCLE TIM: I’d buy them.
SPANNY: Yeah I would too actually!
JESSICA: Yes you need to tell us Coach Cassie where we can buy those. We couldn’t find them on your Etsy site. She has some other cool stuff in there but the cufflinks , we must have those.
SPANNY: Yes! Bar duel of the week goes to Scott Bregman.
JESSICA: And we mean by this, a bar where you drink.
SPANNY: Not like an upcoming professional gymnastics duel. Like an actual drinking bar. First of all, Scott is the man responsible for giving the fans what they want and succeeding. If you watch podium training at the American Cup or watched the first rotation of the American Cup. If you’ve watched any surprise broadcast of anything, he’s probably the guy responsible. He has our most heartfelt gratitude. He tweets, “last weekend I was out and was bullied into doing back handsprings. I was upstaged by someone who did a flip flop back tuck in street clothes on cement. Fail.”
UNCLE TIM: How many of you have done drunk gymnastics before? Be honest.
JESSICA: Everyone’s raising their hand. Ok so one of the guys I’ve done gymnastics with forever, who is also my dentist has a boat and he used to take us all out every year on the boat. I get totally seasick and the diesel fumes make me sick so I always take Dramamine. But I decided, because he stopped the boat off some fancy neighborhood where everybody lives on the water. He’s like oh it’s my gymnastics class. This guy is like 50 and his neighbor was like oh I don’t believe you. And I was like oh I’ll show him. I’ll do like a handstand. So I’m on a boat. I’ve just taken Dramamine and I try to do just a handstand pirouette. And about halfway through the turn, I was like uh oh and I just fell straight over. And then I just laid there because it was so embarrassing.
SPANNY: What I did, and actually it’s on the sidebar of my blog. It’s a picture of me doing a handstand in LA. We’d go to Grauman’s Chinese Theater and we would do handstands in the hands. You know, the hands in the cement of all the movie stars. So yeah, great photo opportunity. This was a bad choice. We went down there one night when we were at someone’s apartment in Hollywood and so we had a couple of drinks and we walked down there. And that picture is no joke 5 seconds before I face planted so hard. I did the handstand. I don’t know what happened. My arm just gave out. I crashed my face into Marilyn Monroe’s handprint so hard. I have welts on my face in that picture. I’m not going to pull it up but it’s me kicking and only I know and my friends who took the photo and laughed at me. I’m like here I am showing off. Any time I’ve ever tried to show off with gymnastics, it has bitten me in the ass every time. So that’s why you don’t do handstands after having indulged in an alcoholic beverage.
JESSICA: So Scott has totally outdone us already. He may have been one upped but he did not faceplant in any way. So he’s coming out of this looking pretty good. Uncle Tim, you don’t have a story?
UNCLE TIM: So I kind of have a reputation of doing gymnastics while envibing. I don’t have any really good stories though. I’ve done it several times. There are many photos of me doing it. I’ll be doing like a cartwheel backhandspring step out. That’s about as hard as it will get for me. Lots of handstands and so far no fails but that day is probably coming. I haven’t done gymnastics for a couple of months now.
JESSICA: It’s going to be a great day when it happens. You’ll get to tell us all about it on the show afterwards. So speaking of gymnastics, the gymnerd challenge.
SPANNY: Yes. Gymnastics mythbuster challenge. Ask a friend. When you think about gymnastics, what comes to mind? If there is a stereotype or myth that you know to be true, correct them and ask them if it changes their feelings about the sport. Then report back to us.
JESSICA: I did one of these at work today and I’m just going to stop this play it for you guys right now:[[JESSICA’S RECORDING]]
JESSICA: So when I say, I’m recording you is that ok?
MAN: You’re recording me? Wait what?
JESSICA: No one will know who you are.
MAN: Ok. You’re guaranteeing my privacy?
JESSICA: Yeah, I’m guaranteeing. So when I say gymnastics, what do you think of? Anything that comes to mind.
MAN: The Olympics
JESSICA: What else?
MAN: Um, Will Ferrell. His rhythmic gymnastics moves in which movie….
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 with the code Gymcast. Remember to enter our contest to win NCAA Championship tickets. Remember when you win, you’ll get a pair of tickets so you can bring a friend. All you have to do is follow on Google Plus by adding us to one of your circles or like us on Facebook. That’s all you have to do. Super easy. So tell all of your friends. Next week, 2007 team world champion and 2009 world bronze medalist on the balance beam Ivana Hong will be on the show. So remember to send us your questions for her. You can email your questions at email@example.com. You can call in with your questions at 415-800-3191 and if you’re on Skype you can Skype us at Gymcastic podcast and you can leave a message for us there. Any question you have for Ivana, you can let us know. You can also leave it Twitter or Facebook. We’re also on Tumblr and Google Plus. Remember you can find a transcript of all of the shows on our site and you can also find videos about everything we’re talking about on the show so you can follow along. You can support the show now by donating. Thank you Carolyn for sending in that request. You can also recommend the show to friends. You can rate us or review us on iTunes and you can download the Stitcher app. All those things will support us. So until next week, I am Jessica from masters-gymnastics.com and this week I have blogged about a story that was in the LA Times about a woman who was in her 80’s and she was the star of a martial arts action film. It’s not gymnastics related but hello you should be inspired by that.
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from The Gymnastics Examiner
SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile. This week look for a recap of season 1 of Make It or Break It episode. I believe this is the one where creepy Carter gets punched in the face by Kaleigh’s dad.
TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym and on my site this week, my thoughts on the 2013 French International
JESSICA: That’s it for us this week. We will see you next week. Good luck in the contest.