IVANA: I never had a doubt in my mind that I wanted to do NCAA gymnastics.
JESSICA: Awesome. So you were never tempted to go pro?
IVANA: [LAUGHS] No.
JESSICA: This week on the show, Ivana Hong, Jenni Pinches our favorite Brit stops by to tell us about British Championships, we talk about French Nationals with Blythe, Jesolo, Cottbus, and of course the NCAA conference championships.
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. Elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: This is episode 26 for March 27, 2013. I’m Jessica from Masters Gymnastics
SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile
UNCLE TIM: And Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: And this is of course the world famous and only gymnastics podcast ever,starting with the top news stories from around the gymternet. And First I want to remind you this is the last week to enter our NCAA ticket contest. Five of you are going to win a pair of reserved session tickets to the NCAA gymnastics championships in April. They’re from the 19-21 at UCLA. They’re great seats. They’re the lower section reserved seats and you get all session passes. All you have to do to enter…
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JESSICA: Let’s get started by talking to Jenni Pinches about British Championships with Blythe.
JESSICA: Jenni you just went to the British Championship, so you can you explain first what the British Championships are? Because it’s not just England. Can you tell us all the countries that are there?
JENNI: Yeah so there’s the English Championships and the Welsh Championships and other championships which are separate, so this one which is the National Championships of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the UK basically.
JESSICA: Got it, ok.
JENNI: It’s held in Liverpool Arco Arena for the past three years which is a lot of a bigger stage on podium than it used to be. And yeah it’s basically always used as a big trial for the next major event. So this time it was the, for the seniors, the last trial for the European Championships as well.
JESSICA: Who really stood out for you on, let’s start on the women’s side.
JENNI: So we’re just talking about seniors yeah? Yeah ok. Well in the warm up rotation straight away I thought Gabby Jupp and Charlie Fellows both looked right on form. Very ready to compete in the competition. Obviously they’re both first year seniors this year but not too inexperienced. Members of the British team, squad. And Junior Championships they’ve been chosen before. Gabby made finals at last year’s Euros, she’ll definitely look to be selected for this year’s Euros after that final trial. And really the medalists say it all. Other than a few mishaps with the competition results, such as Hannah Whelan.
JENNI: Yeah she was trying out new moves, new skills for mostly her bar routine. She put her double arabian back first tumble in her floor routine. Unfortunately had a bit of a tough time competing those. I mean the British Championships was a lot earlier in the year than it has been in the past. And obviously she’s the only gymnast who’s come back since the 2012 Olympics and been ready to compete. Rebecca Tunney is injured and the rest of us had other interests claim us. So she was the only one back from then. And yeah really made a bit of a tough competition for her. Finished 8th, outside of the medals but still in the top 10.
JESSICA: A lot of people were talking about Ruby Harold’s bar routine because she has some pretty cool releases and she also does the Zuchold from high to low, but she seems to keep having a problem with her full pirouette on the low bar. It’s the second time she’s falling on that in competition. Did you see her doing it well in practice? I mean I think that routine is really exciting. What did you think of it?
JENNI: Yeah Ruby has such an amazing bar routine. She’s such a natural on the bars and she genuinely enjoys doing it I think as well. She competed that routine though on Saturday of the competition in the all around final fine. She hit her routine. Sunday she had the fall, which is the video that’s up on YouTube which BGTV posted. But no I think two times falling on that skill, obviously it’s a little bit of a timing problem, but I don’t’ think it’s such a big issue. I think she can get that together. I think she can do really well on the bars. I think she can medal internationally.
JESSICA: Any other routines that- oh let me ask you for a second, what’s Tunney’s injury? What’s she out with still?
JENNI: Yeah so she hurt her toe. She broke her toe, I think. I don’t know, I think she hit the bar or something, I don’t actually know how she did it officially. But yeah she hurt her toe. She’s fit, she’s not on crutches, she’s not hobbling around or anything. She’s training, but she wasn’t quite ready to compete at this time. So. But she’ll be back.
BLYTHE: So any other cool routines or cool skills that you saw from the women? Or the men?
JENNI: I didn’t particularly see any certain skills that I noted in my head because I was so busy thinking about everything else that was going on. I know Gabby Jupp just looked amazing all weekend. So confident, like for a first year senior. She said she didn’t think she would ever medal at senior Championships. She thought that would never happen, kind of thing. Just so sweet in her interview after the competition. But she looks so mature and so kind of at ease when she’s out on the podium. And on the beam especially. She’s very business-like. She hits her moves and that’s it, kind of thing. Like she does her job. So I think she’s a really exciting gymnast to look for in the future of Great Britain kind of thing. And then again with medalist Charlie Fellows. Niamh Rippin back. Not a new senior, but proving that she used the time where she wasn’t picked for the Olympic team – she missed out on the Olympic team selection – to continue training and not let it dis-spirit her from the sport entirely. And I’m really pleased that she medaled all-around as well with the bronze medal overall. And then oh Lisa Mason was back as well.
BLYTHE: Yes, tell us about how she did.
JENNI: Yeah so she’s only been training for five, six months, she told me. And for her to be back at the British already is impressive itself I think. I mean she’s 31 years old, she’s showing that you don’t have to be 16 years old to be able to do the sport. If you have the right kind of training regime, you have the motivation, you can do that. And there was all the big stories in the media about she came back and she won the vault at the English Championships. So obviously everyone was looking to see how she did at this British Championships. You know the last time she competed on podium was the Sydney 2000 Games. So obviously quite a while ago. On Saturday did really well on the vault, nailed her landings, made the vault final. Can’t remember what she qualified, I think she was 4th or something. But she made the vault final, that’s what she wanted to do. That’s what she said she came out to do. And she knows, she’s not stupid. She knows that obviously she’s not in five months going to be back on the- like in the European team. She’s not going to be competing for Great Britain immediately kind of thing. She’s aiming for the Commonwealth Games. But on Sunday on her second vault in the vault final she just mistimed it a little bit, came up too early on her second vault and fell. So I think she finished 6th in the vault final. She also competed on beam, but she fell off twice. So I think she just needs a little more competition experience. Because you know, you can do it a million times in training, but it’s different when you’re out there in front of a whole arena on podium, you know competing. But she’s very down to earth, she knows what she’s doing, and she’s aiming for Commonwealths. And she’s a really lovely person. I chatted with her for ages actually the Championships. And her daughter was there as well, very sweet.
JESSICA: I know I saw her with her little sign holding it up for her mom in the stands. It was so cute I loved that!
JENNI: She came to get my autograph as well.
BLYTHE: Is her daughter in gymnastics as well?
JENNI: I don’t know actually, that’s a great question. I don’t know. I’ll have to ask her that. I’ll ask her that. Watch my blog, I’ll let you know.
BLYTHE: So tell us about Dan Keatings because I saw a little tweet from whoever was doing the Twitter updates on British Gymnastics. Was that you, Jenni?
JENNI: Yeah that was me [LAUGHS]
BLYTHE: Yeah at some point you said, “Wow he’s showing he’s a bit fatigued at the end of it.” But it’s a long competition isn’t it?
JENNI: Wait, Dan Keatings or Dan Purvis?
BLYTHE: Oh Dan Purvis, nope my bad you’re right. It was Dan Purvis.
JENNI: No Dan Purvis, yeah he didn’t have a great competition on the finals day on Sunday. I don’t know, he must have been tired, shattered from the day before. He got a 0 on his second vault, he landed on his side on his rings dismount. I think it it really just wasn’t his day on Sunday. I know.
BLYTHE: Can you talk to us a little bit more about the redemption that Daniel Keatings must feel after, you know, all that buildup toward the Olympic Games and then being the odd man out, and then continuing training and obviously having a fantastic British Championships.
JENNI: Yeah so the other Dan, not Dan Purvis, Dan Keatings…
BLYTHE: Other Dan!
JENNI: …just missed out. And we all felt like- because he had a great British Championships last year as well, but it just wasn’t quite enough for him to be selected for the Olympic team. But really good on him for not letting that hold him back in his career in general. And this Championships he definitely wanted to go out and prove, you know, he is back, he is on form, he is ready to be selected for any other team this year, next year. And he beat Max on the pommel, in the pommel final. Olympic medalist Max Whitlock. Twice Olympic medalist, but Olympic medalist on the pommel. And Dan beat him to the gold and the he- didn’t, he won the, was it p-bars as well? I think it was.
JENNI: And yeah I think he came silver on the high bar, if I remember correctly. He had a great competition anyway. He was chuffed with his competition though, he really was. As was Max I think though. He was also…
JENNI: Chuffed. Really…
JENNI: …like, pleased. Pleased.
BLYTHE: Oh ok good.
JENNI: You don’t use the word chuffed?
BLYTHE: We do not use the word chuffed.
JESSICA: No I’ve never heard that before.
JENNI: Oh ok, yeah like…
JESSICA: I thought at first you meant he was really buff. Really strong looking.
JENNI: No like he was over the moon Relieve mixed with joy kind of feeling [LAUGHS]
BLYTHE: Did it make you want to get back out there?
JENNI: Did it make me want to get back out there?
JESSICA: Uh huh.
BLYTHE: Yes that’s my question to you.
JENNI: [LAUGHS] A little but I do really miss being kind of, you know in the loop. In the team, knowing what’s going on. When you’re in the gym and you’re training, you just kind of automatically you hear how everyone’s doing, you know what’s happening with this that and the other, you know when the competitions are, you know. And it’s just kind of fed to you because you’re there and you’re part of it. But when you’re kind of… I feel like almost an outsider now. Like, I don’t know. I’m not one of them. I’m not as welcome, I’m not a team member anymore. So I do miss being one of the squad members. I do miss that a lot. And I miss being able to do the things I could do before. I feel like I was more powerful before. So yeah I guess I do miss the sport more than I anticipated I would. Definitely.
JESSICA: So what about the juniors, how did they look?
JENNI: I know, I just mentioned that the juniors have so much power. The ones who went to AOF especially, Amy Tinkler, Tyesha Mattis, so much raw energy in those gymnasts. I mean loads of them do actually. Especially Tyesha, doing a double twisting Yurchenko. What?! As a junior. And Amy Tinkler on the floor. Like, if you haven’t seen her floor, look it up because I really like it. And then again you’ve got Ellie Downie, following in the footsteps of her sister. Hopefully not feeling too much pressure though, from Becky. And then [inaudible], they had some gorgeous choreography on the floor. Like some really- you know cute, but kind of like, it just makes you like them. Especially, I put in my blog, Louise McColgan. Her floor was just adorable. To “Waltz in Matilda,” the song, and it’s just so sweet. That was really enjoyable to watch as well. So we’re not just with the senior ranks in the British Championships, the espoirs and juniors challenging as well. And it’s a shame, I think, that we don’t have a masters finals. And the men’s, they have an apparatus finals at the same time as their all-around competition on a Saturday. And they get medals for the apparatus then. And then on Sunday they have masters finals, which is all the age groups. So under 16, under 18, and the seniors. The top scores all go together into one final to battle it out to be the master of that event. And I think it’d be really nice if we had that as well. Because I think some of our juniors could definitely could challenge some of the seniors on the events. Like some of the juniors in the mens won some of the apparatus events. But anyway that’s not how it works in the women’s. It’d be nice if it would [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Oh weird, I thought the masters final was everybody. So it’s just the men? How weird.
JENNI: Yeah so the women have espoir, junior, and senior separate finals for their age group for each event. And then the men have all the age groups together, so the young ones and the old ones. So like a 16 year-old could be competing against Louis or whoever. Dan. And could win. Some of them did.
JESSICA: What an inspiring experience too. If you’re a junior and you get to compete with one of your idols in the same meet. I mean it’s such a great, you know just for the sport. It would be amazing.
JENNI: Yeah, especially if they medal as well. Such a confidence boost.
JESSICA: You’re going to have to lobby for that for next year and make it happen.
JENNI: Yeah maybe. This is the first year we had the men and women competing at the same time at the British as well. But that’s it really about the British Championships. It was very fun. It was very stressful because I was trying look at everything at the same time doing the Twitter. But I like it, I like it [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: And what are your plans next? What are you up to next? Are you going to Europeans? Are you working for British Gymnastics at another meet?
JENNI: Oh I wish I was going to Moscow for the Europeans. I would love to got here and watch. I’m not though [LAUGHS}. I want to but I’m not. Maybe you can bug British Gymnastics to take me [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Ok we’ll lobby. We’ll start a Twitter lobby. Send Jenni to Moscow.
JENNI: Yeah! #sendJennitoMoscow
JENNI: Yeah but I am doing BBC Highlights show. So I’ll be in the BBC studio here in Britain – which is kind of near my house which is convenient – near Manchester-ish, with Louis Smith on the Sunday of the finals of the Europeans. So yeah you can look out for me there if you have access to the BBC. I don’t know if you can get it where you are but I will be there with Louis, having a little matter about what’s going on in Moscow where we wish we were [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Well thank you so much, we love having you on.
JENNI: You’re welcome!
JESSICA: So Blythe, you were at the French Nationals, so tell us how the teams worked. This is what I’m fascinated by. Tell everybody about how people get funding and who can be on their team.
BLYTHE: For the first time this year, at the French Championships, they had a team competition. And it was the top 12 club teams in France. And they qualified and they made it and it was a team competition over three sessions on one day. And the way that it works in France, the clubs that can say that they are the number two club in France or the best club in France and they’ve won the national title, they might get a bit more funding from the city government and also from sponsors and partners and such. So they have a real incentive to do as well as they can at the national championships. And they also have the right to invite really whoever they want to come and compete for them and represent the club. So nearly all the clubs took advantage of this and they absolutely stocked their teams with Eastern European gymnasts basically. There was a joke kind of going around that this was not the French Club Championships, this was the European Club Championships. And so you had, I mean the Ukrainian team, men and women, there in force. About a dozen Ukrainian gymnasts including Maria Livchikova, Oleg Stepko, Oleg Verniaiev, you know these people who are going to be very big names at the European Championships. And some of the up and coming juniors well, which was very interesting to see. Keep an eye out for Daria Kloptsova, she should be one to watch. And, oh what was her name, Olesya- there was a couple of Olesyas, who also did really really excellent work on bars and beam. And so they’re kind of using it as a warm up competition for the European Championships. And also they get their trips compensated. They get paid a little bit of money to come and compete. I believe it was kind of incentive based. You know, so if you break 55 in the all-around, you might break a little bit more than if you break 50 in the all-around. And so it went on like that. And I also got to see Anna Pavlova, several of the people who have been on the Russian National team on the men’s side, Dmitri Gogotov, Dmitri Barkalov, world championships competitors from Tunisia, Algeria, Spain, Portugal. And it really was, I think the European Club Championships are a great way to describe it. And as a matter of fact yeah, in the team competition there were more Europeans from outside of France than there were French gymnasts competing. I think the teams were, I want to say six member teams, and there were a couple of teams that had one French gymnast and five Europeans. And yeah it was just a very interesting competition. A very high level. And it was nice to see.
JESSICA: You know what this made me think of is the people like Sho Nakamori who had to fund their own training and everything, and people like Casey Jo MaGee who could’ve been- or even Jenny Hansen who could’ve made an Olympics easily if they were from another country. But I wonder if they would’ve had an opportunity like this, if it would’ve changed the trajectory of their gymnastics. Or if they ever- if you know the French team would ever be interested in some of the Americans. Because I feel like if people knew this was an option, they might be interested. Or maybe the cost of getting them is cost prohibitive instead of taking the train from eastern Europe or something. But it’s so interesting and I wonder if people would lobby to get these positions if they knew that they were available.
BLYTHE: Yeah or you know, in other sports like basketball there’s a…
BLYTHE: …huge European league. And you have Americans that are maybe not going to be playing in the NBA but have done college ball or whatever who’ve got incredible skills who can go over to Europe and play for club teams. And I think in baseball, unless, correct me if I’m wrong about that, I think in baseball that can kind of work too maybe. Although probably not in Europe.
JESSICA: Basketball and volleyball for sure.
BLYTHE: Basketball yes. You know and I wonder if kind of club gymnastics, the way that it’s organized, like in Germany with the Bundesliga, might not be sort of the next big thing. And in Germany you know they’ve done this for years, this inviting guests to compete for different club teams and they have a whole circuit. And this I think you know was organized in France specifically for the French Championships. And like I said this is the first time they have hosted a club team championships. And the day after that they had you know, only French gymnasts, they had the all-around finals. And that was very interesting as well. There’s a lot of talent in France and a lot of youngsters coming up. But what I really liked about both the senior men’s and women’s all-around competition at this French Championships, the men’s champion was Arnaud Willig, who was the alternate for the 2012 Olympic team. And he’s been to Worlds, and he’s hung out on the National team for the last several years. And there’s always more than five people in a country who deserve to make the Olympic team. And Arnaud- or they call him “No No,” absolutely deserved to have a crack at what was going on in London as well. And unfortunately he was the odd man out. And so for him to win this French Championship now, it obviously means an incredible amount to him. And everybody is just so happy that he’s having a moment right now. And I imagine he’ll be able to show it off at the European Championships as well. On the women’s side is kind of the same story. Valentine Sabatou was the champion. And she was actually named to the Olympic team in 2012, got injured, and was not able to compete. France initially named five people and then one of them got injured. And then I believe Sabatou was her replacement. Could be wrong about that. And then Sabatou got injured. And so somebody else replaced Sabatou. And for her to have missed out on that as well, it’s too bad. She is an incredibly strong gymnast. Strong and powerful and elegant. But really one of those gymnasts that just has amazing upper body strength. You know you can see it in the way that she swings bars and the way she runs into vault, that kind of thing. So I think to have her as French champion is going to lift the level in a lot of ways in France amongst the senior women right now. And so that will be very good. And they also have some just some incredibly elegant talented gymnasts coming up. And a lot of them. So it’s going to be an interesting next few years as some of these juniors turn senior and on the men’s side as well.
JESSICA: And where can people find you next? Do you have a next adventure planned?
BLYTHE: I do not. I do not think that I’m going to go to Moscow, as much as I would like to. I’m with Jenni, you know, there should be a Twitter campaign. I’d love to go, but I don’t think it’s in the cards this year.
JESSICA: Oh! You two would be my absolute, first – if we get Kyle Shewfelt and you two to cover the European Championships, that would be my dream team, oh my god.
BLYTHE: Well we’d love to do it!
JESSICA: That would be so fun! We just need a philanthropist to fund this, love it. Okay. Alright Blythe thanks so much for checking-in and will you let everybody know where they can find you?
BLYTHE: I write about gymnastics for Examiner.com, and the way that I find it is to Google Gymnastics Examiner and just hit the first link that you get there.
JESSICA: That’s true, I never thought about what the actual URL is. I always just Google Gymnastics Examiner, that’s where Blythe is.
BLYTHE: It’s a really long URL. I wish it were GymnasticsExaminer.com but, no.
JESSICA: So let’s talk about the Italian meet, Jesolo. First of all Biles won everything, that’s all you need to know. And the other thing you need to know is we told you so. Mm-hmm, she’s the best thing ever. What were the exact results, Uncle Tim?
UNCLE TIM: So Simone Biles came in first with a 60.4, Kyla Ross came in second in the all-around with a 58.65, and Brenna Dowell came in third with a 56.65.
JESSICA: And then overall as a team, the U.S. won by – what was it? It was like 13 points?
UNCLE TIM: Roughly, yeah. 234.25 to Italy’s 221.050.
JESSICA: Yeah so, kind of a blowout. No big deal. And Biles did her Yurchenko 2 ½ and stuck it cold. And my favorite part of this meet, not the gymnastics, no. It was the Instagram photo that Erika Fasana, from the Italian team and she’s also on the MTV show I’m pretty sure, put up on her Instagram account. It’s a picture of the expression on her face after she saw Biles. And that pretty much sums it up, like notice to the world who’s in charge now and who’s gonna win everything, just saying. On the Masters Gymnastics front, 30 year old Adriana Crisci, who we last saw in the 2000 Olympics, competed all-around for Italy’s B team. And then did you guys watch that video of Ferrari on beam when she hurt her foot?
JESSICA: That did not look good. Like I was really – I was kind of hoping it was broken and that would be just like a clean break and it would heal faster. But that was, whew.
JESSICA: So she did her full on beam and just came down weird, and she just sort of tried to get back up and… [SIGHS] Oh, the floor music!
JESSICA: Spanny, tell us about the floor music.
SPANNY: Well the only one I think everybody commented on was Bailie Key’s. Now, I think people had big hopes because I think before she had like one of those Texas songs, but it works for her because she’s like two feet tall, and cute, and blonde and it’s perfect for like a junior routine. But, I don’t want to use the word upgraded…but it started off as a mix of Kim Zmeskal’s 1992 music and I was so excited and I thought that’s the best thing I’ve ever heard, like oh that’s so cute she’s using her coaches music, but then it kind of morphed into Shannon Miller’s 1991 Yankee Doodle tribute and there were a whole bunch of other songs mixed in there. It was really uncomfortable.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] I agree. There are just some things you just don’t do in life. I’m trying to think, like as a kid I decided that it would be a good idea to wear underwear on my head and I decided that I liked bread, peanut butter, pickles, and pretzel sticks so I made sandwiches that way, I don’t know.
SPANNY: I was going to say I’d love to make that right now! [LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: Yeah you just don’t do certain things, and I think she mixed too many songs together. Do you guys think that you can actually have more than one song in your floor music and still have a good routine, or should you just stick to one?
SPANNY: You can, but it’s all about how like, how the music – this is just a pop culture reference – but if you watch the movie Pitch Perfect over and over like I do, well because they talk about that, how different songs you don’t think would go together can go together but they need to have some common elements, or some kind of common ground. Like, you know SEC floor music where they just pick like four or five pop songs and they mash them all together with really obvious breaks in-between, that doesn’t work. That’s just way too much.
JESSICA: Yeah I totally agree they can go together but not like that. And also it’s kind of like it’s too obvious, I mean you think any of the judges don’t know what’s going on there? She might as well just rip off her leotard to expose that her whole body is painted like an American flag with a gold medal on her. Like it’s too much, you know? It’s too like, “I have arrived! I am the second coming!” When really pfft, we know who the second coming is, so.
UNCLE TIM: But to play devil’s advocate here, don’t you think that if you’re wearing a pink leotard you need to make it clear you’re American in some way?
JESSICA: No, because that’s apparently our new color.
SPANNY: It is, yeah.
JESSICA: Which is getting obnoxious.
SPANNY: It could be, again to refer to 1991, it could be a Romanian using really American music and that would be more uncomfortable.
JESSICA: Yeah. I mean if she’d of had an Italian song just for this, then that might have been a little too much pandering. But this was too much pandering the other way.
JESSICA: So Uncle Tim, tell us about Cottbus
UNCLE TIM: Alright well it’s an event finals World Cup event so we’re not going to talk about every single event and every single result, but there were a couple routines that I picked out that I’d like to talk about. And first let’s start out with Canada’s Maegan Chant on floor exercise. I mean she does some incredible tumbling, she opens with a double layout, a piked full in. Jess what did you think about it?
JESSICA: Okay, there’s a couple weird things going on here. First of all with this meet is I was distracted by the random people just sitting around the floor. And then I was distracted by the fact that there were no judges, or maybe there were judges but they had to sit in a tiny plastic chair with their notes on their lap. Like we can’t give them a table? We can’t give them a little desk to sit in? So there was a lot of distracting things going on at this meet. But she reminds me of Kristen Maloney, which is to say that you don’t expect the gymnastics that comes out of her, in a way. Do you know what I mean? And she also has the same body type as Kristin Maloney. Yeah, I mean I remember Blythe talking about her because Bontas is a former World Champ from Romania is her coach, but I’m not – I mean everyone’s kind of talking about her and I’m kind of like ‘eh’.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah. I mean she’s definitely a power athlete. I was impressed with how quickly she was able to spin on one foot during her triple twist…
JESSICA: That was impressive, yes.
UNCLE TIM: …but then after that she goes and does a tour jeté full and maybe hits, I don’t know how many degrees, 130 or something. And it’s just like ugh, so much potential! So I hope she works on her flexibility a bit. Spanny, did you have any thoughts?
SPANNY: Well, mostly just what you guys said. I definitely agree with the Kristin Maloney comparison, which I think people could see it as either being positive or negative, like I could see both sides of that. It’s just interesting that Canada’s become…how many girls now do you see that compete for Canada that you would consider powerhouses on floor?
SPANNY: That’s just an interesting trend. It’s a good one, you know, I enjoy it.
UNCLE TIM: Alright, and so Megan got first on floor. And then Anna Dementyeva got second and she had some spectacular music, she had the Spiderman music. And Spanny you’ve been joking, or maybe not joking for quite some time, that you’d like to hear Ghostbusters. So how do you feel about Spiderman?
SPANNY: It’s not Ghostbusters. [LAUGHS] I’m very specific. Spider Man’s not catchy, maybe it’s just me but I could pull out Ghostbusters music off the top of my head at any point. But I appreciate it, it’s different. You know Russians aren’t always showing up with – well they up with different music, but I don’t mean that in a good way. But it’s… you know. Relatively to other Russian choices I appreciated her choice, but it’s not Ghostbusters.
JESSICA: I really liked that actually she chose one of those crazy, 60s, full horn versions of Spider Man because it was just wacky enough to be Russian. So I actually liked it, and I really liked her routine. Her tumbling was beautiful, you know her hair is a weird shade of orange now but she’s going through her Russian blonde faze and that’s okay, she’s growing up, everyone does it. But you know I liked it; it was wacky enough to fit, be Russian you know?
SPANNY: Speaking of her orange hair, sorry this is a little tangent; both she and Grishina now both look like… I can’t remember what her name was now, but on Make It Or Break It when they had the Russian gymnast with the orange bangs.
SPANNY: Like I want to put a picture of the three of them together because they’re triplet-sies. Sorry, that was my random tangent.
UNCLE TIM: We’ll get to Grishina in a very hot second, [LAUGHS] but to go back to what Jess was saying, I wanted a little bit more from her choreography. I mean I feel like it had kind of a jazzy, almost burlesque sound in places and I wanted that kind of dance. Like when you’re gonna have that big horn, kind of jazzy swing, I don’t know. You can’t be afraid of the hooch.
UNCLE TIM: Sorry, you gotta arch that back and bend over. She’s 18. But um…
JESSICA: She needed to invoke a little bit of Tasha Schwikert.
UNCLE TIM: Exactly! That’s what I wanted to say, yeah.
UNCLE TIM: Going back to Grishina, she won both beam and bars. And so my question for you guys was which was your favorite Grishina routine?
JESSICA: Well first of all, she did an Onodi to an illusion, which I literally said ‘Shut up!’ to the screen when I watched that! That is so freaking cool, and the Russians are coming up with all of these really interesting gym-acro combinations with this new code, like the side flip to full turn! I mean it’s so cool! I don’t know if they’re going to get credit for the connection, but I love seeing it because it’s beautiful, and it reminds me of a better day, and I love seeing moved like that put together! So, she killed it and I loved her beam routine.
SPANNY: I think that’s the fun part about the post-Olympic year and with a new code, is that this is when we do see a lot of random things that we probably won’t see in two or three years, but for now they’re fun. I agree, her beam, like that’s the routine we know she’s been able to hit for years, we’ve just never ever seen it. So seeing her hit beam like that, it was like a tall drink of water, like you just needed it. My only criticism is that she seemed like she was really, really prepping for a full turn, I mean I’m assuming that’s where her double was supposed to go, but it was like a serious prep for like a full turn real quick.
UNCLE TIM: I like her beam, but I also liked her bars and I think that she did a really good toe-on toe-off to a full pirouette into her piked Tkatchev, her Pak salto after that wasn’t so hot. But I thought she had really good timing on the toe-on full pirouette. I also think she should’ve won a special award for the number of clips she had in her hair. This was like way more than the early 90’s, we’re talking a full head of clips. Big ones, like flower ones.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Definitely needs to be a new GymCastic award for clips in the hair record.
UNCLE TIM: She’d win it. On the men’s side I’m going to mention one routine and it’s mostly for Spanny, Alexander Shatilov. Most of you know probably have known about him for his floor work, he’s more known for that, but he got second on high bar! So what did you guys think about that?
JESSICA: He’s six feet tall! That’s all I have to say. I just love him, because he’s six feet tall. He’s six feet tall and he took bronze or silver in Tokyo on floor? Oh, he’s tremendous!
SPANNY: Yes he is.
UNCLE TIM: With women we talk about ‘oh longer lines’, do you think the same is true for men who are tall?
JESSICA: Yes! Yes, yes, yes!
SPANNY: Yeah, especially on floor. Granted when I watch men on floor I don’t think about their lines so much, but everything seems to take a little longer in the best way – and that sounded really inappropriate but yeah it does, it’s just visually exciting.
JESSICA: That’s right. We’re fans!
JESSICA: You can see them coming from a long way away!
SPANNY: Sorry, I’m trying not to say so many things.
JESSICA: Okay, we’re done now!
JESSICA: Wait are we gonna talk about the jumps, the goofy jumps?
UNCLE TIM: Oh you want to talk about the jumps?
JESSICA: Oh, we have to talk about the jumps!
UNCLE TIM: Okay. Alright, so something that I noticed on floor exercise is the fact that the men are doing like these… I don’t even know how to describe it. Like a full twisting hitch-kick or something, I don’t know how to describe it. And Jess, on this show we love to talk about very important issues like this, and we all kind of hate the ugly stag jump into the corner, so do you think this is a viable replacement?
JESSICA: It is. It is in its infancy, they have obviously not watched enough Japanese men do floor routines, or Cubans from back in the day, or Justin Spring. But this is a good start and it’s better than the non-existent stag jump which should be a 3 point deduction if you do it without your leg up to 90 degrees. So I’m pleased with this development and I would like to see them more vigorously and with more extension.
UNCLE TIM: I really actually liked watching the floor final. I really liked Fahrig and Kosmidis. They both have very different styles, Fahrig was kind of light on his feet, Kosmidis was definitely powerful. But Kosmidis was good because something that’s been missing from men’s gymnastics is the kick-out that Kyle Shewfelt was talking about, but he had one on his double-double and I was like, ‘Damn boy, you work!’
JESSICA: Mm-hmm. Yeah that was super exciting and I’m stoked that Fahrig is back because his tumbling is insane and I would like to see him and Mister Stacey Ervin from – is it Ervin? Yeah – from Michigan in a floor final this year at the Olympics. Mm-hmm, specialist, that’s what I’m talking about
UNCLE TIM: World Championships
JESSICA: Yeah, what did I just say?
UNCLE TIM: Olympics. You wanted them again!
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Oh the Olympics! I do! I want the Olympics again. We’re all a little tired this week so bear with us, there’s sure to be more nonsense going on. Well they should have their own Olympics, those two.
UNCLE TIM: Alright.
JESSICA: Okay, so this is kind of like a non-story, but seriously the FIG they abandoned the vault scoring.
SPANNY: That lasted.
JESSICA: Are they just…? I don’t even know what to say about this. Spanny what do you think?
SPANNY: I wish they would have stuck it out like, another month. I don’t know, I did not think it was that difficult to comprehend. I mean I don’t know if it would have solved any problems but when their reasoning behind it was oh it’s just too difficult, you’re really underestimating the mental capacity of your fans because it wasn’t that big of a math challenge. And that coming from me says something, like if I can follow it then it’s probably not that difficult.
JESSICA: And just to summarize really quick, so the old scoring was you just averaged, and the new one basically was you put more emphasis on execution so if someone fell, like say what happened with Maroney, then she wouldn’t end up with the silver medal. Or bronze… what did she get? See I can’t even remember now.
SPANNY: She got silver
UNCLE TIM: Silver, she would have been in fourth.
JESSICA: Right, she would have been in fourth, so it was kind of the Maroney fell over rule. And now they’ve gotten rid of it from one weekend to the next in the middle of two major meets they were just like, ‘Out the window! We’re done with that!’ I mean, aren’t they gonna give it a chance? Like this is the kind of thing that kills me, that it’s just from one weekend from the next, can they give it a little longer? I mean we’re hardly into the season!
UNCLE TIM: I’m okay with going back to the old scoring. The new scoring, I mean I was able to comprehend it but it definitely probably took the judges a little bit longer to figure out the scores and stuff. And generally speaking the scores were significantly lower using the new scoring system. So, I don’t know. I’m always nostalgic for things though too, so I like the vault averages.
BLYTHE: We are so proud to have Tumbl Trak bringing you today’s interview with Ivana Hong. As somebody who practiced adult gymnastics, I can tell you that Tumbl Trak has been a lifesaver in the gym. I can’t do everything I used to on a hard surface, but with Tumbl Trak I have been able to do everything that I was doing 10-15 years ago, and even start learning new skills. It’s not hard on the body, and it is incredibly fun. You can always use the Tumbl Trak for skill building skills, confidence building, conditioning, and a lot more. And the best part is you always land with a smile on your face. Find out more at TumblTrak.com. That’s TumblTrak.com
JESSICA: Ivana Hong is now a sophomore at Stanford University. In 2007 she was a member of the World Championships team that brought home the gold from Stuttgart. She also went on in 2009 to win a bronze medal on beam at the World Championships in London. She was an alternate for the 2008 Olympic team. She is known for her absolutely exquisite form and we talk to her about that. Hope you enjoy the interview!
JESSICA: So did you just finish your last final?
IVANA: I did this morning, yeah.
JESSICA: How did it go? How are you feeling?
IVANA: Um, I feel great it’s over. I don’t know it’s really funny, so I’ve never really had any stomach reflexes, but I kind of like self-diagnosed myself which is like really bad. But I’ve kind of realized this trend for each mid-term and final I’ve taken for this human biology major I’m doing, I get like really bad stomach churning. So I had to take some Tums this morning but it’s all good now, it’s the only time I ever get that.
JESSICA: So this never happened to you in gymnastics? Not at the World Championships or anything?
IVANA: No, never.
IVANA: I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have no idea what is going on!’
JESSICA: So are you liking that major?
IVANA: I actually am. I really am. The information is super interesting; like I don’t think I would be as interested in any other major. It’s a lot of material but it’s definitely worth it, I like it.
JESSICA: And do you know what you want to do? Are you just interested in general now or is there something in the sciences or medical field that you want to do in the future?
IVANA: Um, I’m not taking the pre-med route. I have yet to decide my exact area of concentration, but I’m thinking something having to do with human performance. This is one of the questions that I don’t actually have a real answer for.
JESSICA: Totally okay! That’s what college is for! So one of the things that we absolutely love, love, love about your college gymnastics is when I went to watch the UCLA/Stanford meet, when you jumped off your – jumped off your event? You dismounted, and it was lovely of course – you then you ran over to the people in the front of the stands and then high-fived them all down the line like an NFL player or something! So awesome! So where did this idea come from and when did you start doing that?
IVANA: I think it’s just part of SWG, which is…I guess you guys already know that right? What SWG is for?
IVANA: Okay, sorry. It’s just part of our culture and tradition. We just love getting the crowd involved, and being at home in Burnham especially, I mean it’s a pretty small arena and having the audience that close is just so much fun. And so we just always try and engage them and I don’t know, it’s just so much fun to go out and compete that it was just instinctive almost.
JESSICA: So did you just start doing it one time? Because I think you’re the only one on the team, I don’t see anyone else do it.
IVANA: No there are several of us who did it. Maybe not like right away but eventually they get to the crowd.
JESSICA: I love love love that you do that. I hope that this becomes a trend. So just for our listeners, SWG is Stanford Women’s Gymnastics.
IVANA: Correct yeah. We actually abbreviate a lot of things here at Stanford.
JESSICA: Ok good to know. So for a lot of people, staying focused on beam is really difficult. But for you, it looks so easy every time since you were a little kid to now. You look like it is so simple for you. So what is your secret to staying so focused on beam?
IVANA: I wish there was a secret but I don’t really have any special secrets to tell you guys on that but it’s just a lot of visualizing. It helps a lot, like a lot of other athletes but just letting myself know that whatever I do, I’m in control and that seems to really keep me calm. And especially now with college gymnastics, SWG loves to cheer so we’re always doing it for each other and everything we do is for each other. And I think that’s just really calming and knowing that we’ve got each others backs and we’re going out there to perform for each one on our team and our staff and it just makes it that much more fun and enjoyable and I think that’s what helps a lot.
JESSICA: In college, you’re dismounting with a gainer pike off the beam which is….there should be a video for this in the Code of Points for how a gainer pike should be done because it is so beautiful and high and straight on the end of the beam. You don’t go sideways like you’re terrified to hit your head on the beam. So we all appreciate that first of all.
IVANA: Thank you!
JESSICA: You’re welcome! We do all miss your two back handsprings to double pike though. I was just wondering if we might see that in the future?
IVANA: You know, I miss it too but I’m not sure if that’s that best thing for me just now in my career in college. In college more so now, I think, you definitely do still get rewarded for doing harder stuff but at the same time, you’re competing every weekend so that pounding on your body can take a toll so it was a good decision by Kristen and the staff to say I think we should have a nicer dismount on your body.
JESSICA: Yeah that makes sense. And speaking of nicer dismounts, the long season and the wear and tear on your body, how is your knee feeling now?
IVANA: It’s doing great. I’ve had a lot of care here and the coaches have really tried to minimize the pounding and stuff and the medical staff and trainers here are amazing and that has definitely made it better. I do wear a brace now which looks kind of chunky but it helps so you do what you have to do.
JESSICA: Is there a chance in the future that we might see your lines without the brace? Or are you feeling like that’s the way to go for now?
IVANA: I’m not wearing it on floor anymore which I did last year so that’s good. For vault, it’ll probably stay on.
JESSICA: I’m so glad it’s feeling better though. That’s exciting. For all of us who are gymnastics fans and watch you all from the time you’re little kids to junior elites and then elites and then college, we always hope for everyone that they will get to the NCAA and they will have this magical experience that you see where people transform and they just look blissfully happy all the time doing gymnastics. And you absolutely look like that. You just are blowing every routine you do. Can you tell us what it is about NCAA gymnastics that’s bringing that out in you?
IVANA: Growing up and training and seeing the older girls come back from college, they always said that that was so rewarding doing NCAA gymnastics. I’ve always wanted to do it. I think a lot of the happiness and joy just comes from the whole different mindset of training, training for a team, with a team every day. Traveling with the team, competing for the team, and everyone is always there cheering and we just really love it. And the staff is amazing. I really wouldn’t want to be in any other place but here. It’s just amazing, having fun. It’s a whole different ball game for me, just the whole team atmosphere came with a lot of things. Like I said so many times, we’re doing it for each other and that just makes it mean so much more than just doing it for one person. I think that’s what really brings out the joy of doing gymnastics.
JESSICA: You are one of the few world champions that have ever done college gymnastics. Kayla’s in it now, Shayla, Sam, you’re all in college gymnastics, Bridget too. Did you always want to compete in NCAA growing up or were you kind of waiting to see what happened with elite?
IVANA: No I definitely always wanted to compete in NCAA gymnastics. I knew that after my elite career, school was definitely my priority. Not just going to any school, making sure that I had a great education and also being able to do gymnastics was the best of both worlds so I never had a doubt in my mind that I wanted to do NCAA gymnastics.
JESSICA: Awesome. So you were never tempted to go pro?
JESSICA: Ok so one of the things we love about you that we’ve only mentioned 100 times is your form and extension. And I wonder if that was something that was really really stressed in your formative years of training or were you just the kind of person that you’ve always been like that from the time you were a little kid, that is ingrained in you? Was it something that you really had to learn and concentrate on?
IVANA: You know, I think it was a combination of both. I think it really started probably at Gym Max since that was my first really serious gym. They paid a lot of attention to detail. As you guys know, when I was a junior elite, I had like no difficulty at all. I really focused a lot on execution and also myself. I don’t like to use the term perfectionist because there’s not very many things that are perfect in this world, but I had that mindset that if I was going to do it, I might as well try and make it as pretty as can be. I definitely think it was a combination of both coaches and just really paying attention to details.
JESSICA: So like many elites, you found different coaching solutions at various stages of your career which is really common. I just wonder what do you take with you from each of those coaches now? What are some of the things that you fall back on for those experiences now in college, either technically or
IVANA: Gym Max is definitely where I got my basics and when I started this whole detailed and just getting good grounds then at GAGE, Armine was always into the artistry and that part was definitely emphasized a lot. And through my elite years there, the other part of technique there as well and then at WOGA, technique was very detailed and specific and that’s where I think I learned a lot of technical corrections. Each different gym had a different stage and I was at a different stage of my gymnastics and I think each move was very unique but special to me at the same time.
JESSICA: If there was one piece of advice that you could tell younger you or a younger gymnast, I don’t know, some general advice…is there anything that someone said to you or something you would have wanted to have heard from a gymnast like you when you were little?
IVANA: Yeah. After ‘08, I kind of told myself that…..you know gymnastics doesn’t last all your life. You can’t keep doing gymnastics forever. I tried to focus on, it’s a lot easier said than done but, just not letting gymnastics engulf your entire life and your mindset but really taking it day by day and no matter what happens, everything goes on and everything happens for a reason. I think just enjoying the moment and living in the moment and doing everything that you can in your power to be the best you can be and have fun while you’re doing it.
JESSICA: That is excellent advice.
SPANNY: First of all, Jess is not blowing smoke up your butt when she says people were really excited.
JESSICA: Really excited!
SPANNY: We had so many questions.
IVANA: Online questions? How are people submitting questions? I’m just curious.
SPANNY: Mostly on Twitter because we have our GymCastic Twitter and we posted something and most people responded to that. Also a few people…..she writes a blog, her name is Bekah. She made a whole Tumblr post just dedicated to the questions that she wanted to ask because she’s just really really excited. So yeah it’s probably one of our more passionate responses to a question.
IVANA: Alright, let’s go for it!
SPANNY: The one we probably saw the most was people want to know when or if we will see the double front again because you were like legendary for that perfect double front.
IVANA: Its’ really funny that people love that. I loved doing the skill itself too but honestly I was just talking the other day when we were working on stuff here, working on sticks and stuff doing fronts, I can tell you that I definitely didn’t have great air sense but somehow I was able to manage it every single time and I can’t tell you that it will really come out again but I’m glad that everyone enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed doing it when I was doing it.
SPANNY: It seems like yeah it would be a fun skill but I would just imagine it would be a lot of wear and tear and impact. But it really was like the best one of all time.
IVANA: Thank you!
SPANNY: You’d mentioned Gym Max. Some people would probably like to know, since you are from Orange County, California and started at the same gym that McKayla Maroney, Shantessa Pama and Kyla Ross trained at. Did you train all together or were you in there at the same point that they were in there?
IVANA: So Tessa and I were teammates. She was actually there before I came there but we were good friends growing up and it was great having her as a teammate and as friend. But Kyla and McKayla, they had come after I had already left. They, I believe, started at NGCT which is where I did my very first gymnastics classes and then after I left Gym Max, they started. So I never trained with Kyla and McKayla.
SPANNY: Well still, I think it’s nice that that entire gym is getting some recognition and the one thing that comes out is like oh this is where Ivana Hong came from.
IVANA: Yeah they definitely deserve it.
SPANNY: We kind of touched on this. What kind of dance training did you have that gives you such amazing lines?
IVANA: You know, not too much actually. When I was at Gym Max, they didn’t do any extra dance training at all. At GAGE, Armine had some dance routines that we would do and then at WOGA we had a couple of dance sessions in the morning with Natalia but other than that, I didn’t really take any extra. I had been enrolled in a couple of ballet classes but they were just way too slow so I was never really taking them to work on artistry or anything. I think it was just the work of my coaches and just really being honed in on details.
SPANNY: Right, if you work towards the line, you can get the form. Let’s see. Will you be competing all around in the post season, which starts in like a day.
IVANA: Yeah right. It’s gone by so fast. Yeah that is the plan. All around for hopefully the rest of the season.
SPANNY: Awesome! What was the happiest day of your gymnastics career?
IVANA: I think one of my favorite last elite meets that I did was Visas in 2009. Just coming back from taking a break in 2008 and everything that happened in 2008, and for them to be in Dallas which was my new hometown. It was amazing to just be able to get out there again and then going on to Worlds and winning an individual medal at Worlds was amazing as well. So I think, I don’t know. I can’t really distinguish a lot but I think the 2009 from Visas to Worlds was probably my favorite.
SPANNY: I think that year really sticks out in gymnastics fans’ minds. You seemed so happy and it was so good to see you back and there seemed to be a pressure off of you entirely and the entire national team, where everyone just seemed happy to be competing. It seemed to be good but that was me sitting at home watching. Speaking of elite real quick, do you have any thoughts of returning to elite after college or maybe Cirque?
IVANA: No thoughts on returning to elite. I do sometimes get these urges like oh I want to do this skill again or I want to do that again and then I realize I was in a different stage of gymnastics when I was doing that stuff. I’m just trying to take my own advice and living in the moment and not trying to compare myself really on what I used to be able to do or what I did in the past. But for Cirque, I’m not really sure yet. I think it would be absolutely amazing. I’ve been to a couple of Cirque shows and just been awed and thinking if I could have any part in a Cirque show, I mean just being in the back, it would be amazing. Also one of my favorite moments going into a Cirque show was in the Totem, I don’t know how they pronounce it, but it was the trapeze one and it was to the music I have now so that always stood out to me. I don’t know. I’m amazed by Cirque people and If I could have a role in that, I mean I definitely wouldn’t turn it down.
SPANNY: Now they’re going to hear you say this and they’re going to come and recruit you really hard.
JESSICA: I’m surprised you haven’t already gotten recruiting letters from them but yeah. They’ll probably be at your door on Wednesday after this airs.
IVANA: I wouldn’t say I’ll go all out to try and audition but yeah like I said, I definitely wouldn’t turn it down.
SPANNY: Something to look forward to. I’m taking that as a yes. Just wishful thinking. Real quick, a school question. So WOGA is associated with a private school for kids in the area called Spring Creek but you chose to go to Lovejoy High School. Can you tell us about Lovejoy and why you made that decision?
IVANA: School was really important to me and to just be able to go to a regular public school with the few hours I had to just be away from the gym and Lovejoy worked so well with my schedule. The principal then, Dr. Goddard, was open to letting me come in the middle of the day for three hours and leaving before the day ended and the teachers worked with me very well. It worked out perfectly and everybody was just really supportive and so I thought that was just the best place.
SPANNY: Do you think it helped you with the transition when you went to Stanford then, having a more serious schooling background at least for a little bit before you went into the hardcore stuff? If that makes sense.
IVANA: I think so. I’m not saying that Spring Creek wouldn’t prepare you enough. It was just a different atmosphere. I’m not really sure how Spring Creek runs their academics but just being in a public high school
SPANNY: A nice break being around, I wanna say normal people, that’s not nice. I went to a theater school. Not saying artsy kids are weird but
IVANA: I mean I’d show up to school with chalk on my feet and sometimes they’d tell me I had powder on me but you know, its ok.
SPANNY: We’ll wrap up and this isn’t so much a question as it is a statement. A fan statement from Christina Marquez says, “Please tell her she should start a group that says ‘I mastered the non cowboyed legs double arabian.’ She will be one of only three members.” Did she mean double front?
IVANA: I did a double front but thank you very much! I’ve been told to open, that sounds weird, to cowboy a little bit just for safety reasons but I don’t know. I could never do that. It ended up legs together.
SPANNY: Well I, and again from a fan standpoint and not an athlete safety point, keep them together. I can’t think of one person who didn’t watch that and wasn’t like Oh my God! Even now
IVANA: Thank you guys!
SPANNY: Oh you’re welcome. No thank you! This was fun for us to kind of put the questions out there. Again, we had lots of feedback and I think people were really excited to hear from you and how you’re doing.
IVANA: Thank you so much!
SPANNY: You’re welcome!
JESSICA: Thank you!
JESSICA: Alright, that was our interview with Ivana Hong and of course, I’m totally embarrassed that I geeked out so hard the entire time. I really need to like keep my coollike Blythe and I will work on that in the future but it was actually really nice to talk to her. She was like I’m nervous too. We were like ok so are we because you’re awesome. I’ve never talked to someone who has said thank you so many times and been so incredibly gracious. I felt like I was cutting her off the whole time because she was saying thank you and I wasn’t expecting it. It was just really nice to talk with her and she was very very gracious. And Uncle Tim, you had a chance to listen. What did you think?
UNCLE TIM: I was struck by how humble she seemed. And I think some gym fans wish she had gone in the nitty gritty details about all of her gym changes and stuff but I kind of respect her for saying no I really don’t want to talk about that. And it shows for me, that she has kind of moved on from that part of her life and has taken a different direction and that’s good. She’s not bitter with baggage at the age of 20 or whatever she is. So I thought that was good. One thing that I was surprised about was when she said you can’t do gymnastics forever. I mean, Jess I thought you were going to say something.
JESSICA: I had to contain myself.
UNCLE TIM: So those are my thoughts.
JESSICA: Spanny, what did you think about the whole dredging up the past and all that kind of stuff?
SPANNY: I’m glad. I as much as anybody else would love to have known all the gossip but as it is now, she’s kind of like an ambassador for positive attitudes in gymnastics. Even in her promotion of life after elite, when we asked her if she ever even considered going pro and she was like no! NCAA has always been on the table for her. Like Uncle Tim mentioned, it’s refreshing to see. We’ve all seen the YouTube videos and we all know what’s kind of gone on and she’s been through crap. Knowing that, she still competes and does as well as she does with such a positive and infectious attitude. I guess that’s not surprising but I enjoyed it.
JESSICA: Yeah. I mean the thing I think is really interesting about her, or what, I guess, stands out to me after so many years of being around gymnastics is how two people can go through the same exact situation. So with her and McCool, both of them had fractures that allegedly or whatever was not treated going into the Olympic cycle, and McCool made the Olympic team and Ivana did not. And that part of the story is the same for both of them, but that’s where it completely diverges, and some people will say, well, Ivana has this opinion because she didn’t make the team and McCool has the opinion because she did and it was all worth it for her. McCool ended up with a navicular fracture on an orthotic bone, which can be really dangerous and that’s why she couldn’t do bars or vault or anything with her hand for two years afterward. And the thing is, it’s just really interesting to see not only how the public reacts to those sort of stories, but how the gymnasts deal with them, and—I guess what I’m trying to say, what am I trying to say here? That from our point of view, we want transparency and we want people to talk about what’s going on, but we also want to see resolution. And with Gabby, she got a lot of flak for telling her story from her point of view. And whether you agree with it or not or whatever, that’s her point of view and was her experience, and in this case Ivana has found that resolution, and she’s said her piece and moved on, just as Spanny’s saying, so I appreciated hearing where she is now and that she was able to get there and being able to see both sides of this story from her and McCool being from the same gym and where they are now. It both worked out and they’re really happy in college and that says a lot, so.
SPANNY: And she’s had such an incredible career. We weren’t hurting for things to talk about, even though we didn’t talk about club, we had plenty of other topics to discuss because she’s had such an illustrious career, and we don’t always have to discuss the dirty stuff. Although it is fun.
UNCLE TIM: And I want to add that I want her to win NCAA beam this year.
JESSICA: She’s really amazing at beam. And I love that old school handstand. I love her artistry. That handstand is so artistic, because at first I didn’t like it because I was like, eh, it’s not perfect. But then I was like, that’s the thing about it. She’s a little archy, she’s just pulling. It’s very artistic, that handstand, the beginning pose. And you’ll see, we have the most beautiful picture of it on our site for this episode. So. Yeah. Thank you, Ivana, for being on and being an ambassador for NCAA gymnastics and pointed toes.
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JESSICA: This weekend we had the conference championships. So, my first question for you Spanny, is, which college championship was entertaining for all the wrong reasons?
SPANNY: I think this definitely goes to the first session of the Big 10. I think a few conferences split up the sessions last year, but I may be wrong. But this year, most of the bigger conferences did do two sessions, and it was kind of unfortunate because the four teams that competed in the first session were largely hilarious and were terrifying, pretty much across the board. But Big 10—there was a skill, and this isn’t just the first session, this is throughout the entire meet—girls who kept,…I honestly saw maybe four, five, or six of these skills, and each one was awful. What do you call them, this is probably totally wrong, we called them suicides, it was front toss to sit on beam, and I didn’t see one that was landed, even at all. Just repeated crotchings and hilarious falls, it didn’t look like they got hurt though because that wouldn’t be hilarious, but they land on their butt, and they kind of grip, and then they land and they still try to get back up and it was just that one skill from teams across the board, kept trying it and they kept falling. It was really weird. I should just make a montage of that.
JESSICA: Yes, you should, cause that skill, the suicide, is already terrifying, and falls on it are always funny. You cannot fall, doing that skill, in any way that won’t make your entire team fall on the ground, laughing.
SPANNY: Yeah. It was contagious and it was just the most bizarre thing.
JESSICA: So that’s for the Big 10s, what about the Big 12s?
SPANNY: I couldn’t tell you anything about it. I guess it was aired, or it’s going to be aired, on some random Fox channel. Oklahoma was there and they won everything. That’s about it.
JESSICA: Shockingly, Oklahoma swept.
SPANNY: Yes. And they were really excited about it too, but. Although I guess relatively, they, quote unquote, only scored a 197.2 or whatever, which, again, relative to the other insane scoring we’ve seen, probably wasn’t as competitive as they’ve been, but that said, they still won everything, swept everything, so hot dog.
UNCLE TIM:…so hot dog? Ok. [LAUGHS] Alright. So in other shocking news, we hear there was some drama at the SCC championships, and it had to do with one Miss Shayla Worley, if I’m not correct, shocking there? So tell me a little bit about that.
SPANNY: Again, I’m going by reports that I’ve read because this is another meet that, in the year 2013, no-one was able to watch live. But, from what I understand, is that there was a supposed out-of-bounds on floor from Shayla. I haven’t seen her routine, I’m going to go ahead and guess that she did go out. But I guess the review process is different in the regular season versus the postseason, but I don’t know if this qualifies as regular season or postseason. But the review submitted wasn’t a video, it was pictures, I’m not sure if it was pictures from a video, or if it was an audience member’s picture, I’m not sure. But the result of that was that it was inconclusive, so it did not prove that she stayed in, I guess is the way they’re looking at it, so because the review was denied, there’s a mandatory .3 deduction off of the team score…
SPANNY…which, one might ask, why did they do it at all, because it wouldn’t have helped them? That said, it wouldn’t have moved them up or down either way, I forget, they would have dropped another score had Shayla’s routine…it wouldn’t have changed the standings. But it was still a questionable decision on Dana’s point, or on Dana’s side. But that wasn’t the only. Bama also had a weird scoring change, theirs was they competed out of order. But Sarah Patterson brought it to the judge’s attention after the meet, so she basically brought the one-tenth deduction on herself, which is kind of classy, but that said, it didn’t affect the standings, so I don’t know that, had it been down to a tenth between Bama and Florida, people would have said anything.
JESSICA: I watched the first session of Pac-12s, and I’m ashamed to say that I fell asleep during it. Did you get a chance to watch?
SPANNY: I did. And not unlike Big 10s, it was a little terrifying. This one…it was underperformance, but it was also just scary. There were a lot of balks I saw on vault. Just scary falls. Then it stopped being entertaining for me when I think they might die. What is it somebody did, they missed their foot on a dismount on beam? I don’t know what it was. But it was sort of like—and somebody did it on UCLA, too, but she turned out ok—one girl, maybe from Cal, missed her foot and then kind of did an Arabian to her back. And the judges had to conference for 20 minutes because they were like, she didn’t really do a dismount? That kind of stuff, you never want to see that. Or girls just missing hands on vault. Yeah, it was not for the weak.
JESSICA: Well, now I’m really glad I fell asleep.
SPANNY: Yeah. The second session was, I guess, a little more competent. Oregon State was amazing. That was really fun to see them compete well at home. Utah relegated to third, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. My cat is making a really weird noise.
JESSICA: Your cat is not happy.
SPANNY: Oh my god.
JESSICA: That will be in the bloopers section. Ok. Uncle Tim. Take it away.
UNCLE TIM: So, I mean, I, being the kind-of Al Trautwig of the show, need to know, does any of this matter at all? Do the conference meets matter?
SPANNY: No. I mean, in theory, they would, because they still count towards to RQS score, but no. this year, no.
JESSICA: But who has the hardest regional to qualify out of?
SPANNY: Again, I’d like to say nobody, but that’s not entirely true because, just with the way everything ended up with qualifications, what with the top two from each regional will qualify to Nationals, but they’re all pretty obvious with what the top two teams being pretty much light years ahead of other competitors. I would take the Florida regional out of that, and obviously Florida will qualify. I mean, I will eat my hat if something happens and they do not. But the other two, the second and thirds seeds are Auburn and Minnesota, and then Auburn, which…
JESSICA: Minnesota has to make it. Minnesota has to make it.
SPANNY: And it’s just a shame, too, because those…I think if Minnesota and Auburn were in different regionals, they would each have a chance of qualifying. But because they’re up in the same one, chances are they aren’t both going to knock out Florida, whereas there are other regionals where it’s like Stanford and Penn State. I don’t know, some of the teams that probably shouldn’t make it will because they’re just in the easiest regional ever, except for that Florida one, and that said, it’s the one I’m the most excited to watch. Yeah, I’m totally rooting for Minnesota.
JESSICA: Oh my god, Minnesota. They’ve had their best year ever, it’s so exciting.
SPANNY: And I’m not sure if they’ve made—have they made it to Nationals before?
JESSICA: I don’t think they have.
SPANNY: Which is sad, because I live here. But I’m not sure. It would be really incredible if, you know, the last few years, there’s always been that one Cinderella team that no-one thought would make it, and then they did. This could be Minnesota’s year, even to just show up would be awesome.
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JESSICA: Visit EliteSportzBand.com, that’s sports with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code: Gymcast.
JESSICA: Let’s talk about listener feedback this week. We got a comment on our website from one of our favorite GymCastic listeners, Cordelia Price, who is Ebee’s aunt, and she competed for the MIT gymnastics team in the 80s. And she left a really interesting comment about the Glasgow World Cup and what a great format it was. She said it was the best meet she had ever been to and USA Gymnastics could really learn a lot from how they did this format. So if you’re listening [clears throat] read that comment, USA Gymnastics peeps. So basically she said that there was a big scoreboard where you could see every gymnast’s score throughout the competition, you could see where they were ranked throughout the competition, so this is the big difference. Not only can you see the ranking. And, each rotation, the gymnast’s order on the event would change based on their ranking from the last rotation, so if you moved up on the ranking in the next rotation, you could go later in that rotation and you could see, every time somebody competed, what they needed to overtake the current leader, so she said there was a flipboard-slot machine kind of thing that was animated and would flip, ta-da, here’s what a person needed to score. So she said it was really fun to watch and there was a rock concert kind of atmosphere and it was really a great meet. So that was really interesting to read about. We love to hear about meet formats that make gymnastics more exciting, especially to make it easier for the general public to understand what is going on. So if you have feedback on a meet you have gone to that had a really great format, let us know. We love to know from Cordelia about what happened at the Glasgow World Cup.
UNCLE TIM: This week’s International Listener shout-out goes to all of Japan. We don’t know exactly who you are, but you guys keep popping up on our Google stats and stuff, and so konnichiwa to you guys.
SPANNY: Yeah, those stats are…hmm.
JESSICA: [unclear] [LAUGHS]
SPANNY: Oh, I miss Japan. Last week we kind of touched on—well, think is kind of a spin-off of a tweet our good friend Scott Bregman had left regarding a bar duel, I think we called it. Bar duel.
JESSICA: Even though he never mentioned being in the bar. I should just say that. He never actually said he peed at the bar. I think I decided it was at a bar. But it has sparked the most awesome comments on Twitter that we’re just going to go with the bar for now on.
SPANNY: Yeah. Well it could just be, if you were inebriated, let’s say. Sunny, @snoozeyoulose on Twitter, wrote “My drunk gym story: I fractured my tibia and needed stitches because I backflip off a bed and into a radiator.” Ouch. That’s totally something we’ve done. Like I didn’t break my tibia. That’s awful.
JESSICA: Oh my god, that sounds so painful it’s so funny. Into a radiator, too! That’s painful.
SPANNY: Go into the ER, like, how would you do this? Back flips.
SPANNY: SuperGymmie, @SuperGymmie on Twitter, says, “My drunk gym story: I tore all ligaments in my ankle cause, you know, a switch ring can’t be that hard. Or so I thought. Lol.”
JESSICA: And then, he or she goes on to say, “Oh, and I’m not a gymnast.” So SumerGymmie was just like, “Oh, I’ll try that, I’ve never don’t gymnastics in my life but I’ll just try a switch ring.”
SPANNY: That happens, too, when you’re like, “oh, that skill can’t be that hard.” I’ve tried it before and I really understood the idea of lunging and prepping and was like, eh, and l-turn, why not. My hip flexors hurt for a week after trying it. Or being like, oh, switch side leap, I could totally, and then—I clearly just have awful hip muscles and tendons and I’m completely unprepared to do anything like that, but you think it’s an easy skill and then you just, just kill yourself trying it.
UNCLE TIM: I can relate, Spanny. So you know how back in the day, back in the old days, the girls would do a jam and then put the back of their legs on the bar and go up to the high bar? I have no idea what that was called. I decided that I was going to try that, right? And so I did my jam and I shot up and I barely missed the high bar but that’s one of those skills where there’s no way to stop yourselves when you’re going for it, you either go for it or you don’t, and I just bit it, like face-floor and blue mat. And everyone at the gym was laughing at me.
JESSICA: Ok. Let I—this is so embarrassing, you guys, oh god. So I was coaching, and you know it wasn’t my turn leading warm-up so I was just helping some kids, but then I got a little bored, so I just walked over to the bar, and you know how when you’re just standing there stretching and watching warm-ups, and you know how you put, you sort of bend over so you’re in a pike position and then you put your hands on the bar and you sort of jump up so you’re going to be in a jam position? Well…[WHEEZES]
UNCLE TIM: Are you wheezing?
JESSICA: I’m laughing! Oh! Ok! So the floor is full of like fifty kids warming up… [LAUGHS]….and I, and I walk over to the bar, and it’s totally silent, and I walk over there…[LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: That’s like an old smokers laugh right now. Give me another tour jete, kids.
JESSICA: Ok, wait, sorry. Let me just compose myself.
SPANNY: We’re not editing any of this out.
JESSICA: So I just walked over there, stretched a little, and just jumped up to hand on the bar and then, like…[LAUGHS]…and my hand slipped off, so there’s giant thud, ugh, under the bars, and I’m laying there, literally on my back. [LAUGHS]. So embarrassing. [LAUGHS].
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Spanny, do you want to retell that story in a more concise manner?
SPANNY: [LAUGHS] I don’t know if I can.
UNCLE TIM: That’s ridiculous.
SPANNY: [LAUGHS] In my head, I want to jump to front-support, but I don’t know how.
JESSICA: It’s like, if you know, when you’re jumping—you know if you’re in a peach basket, and you put your feet on the ground, so you’re holding the bar still but your feet are on the ground? And then you jump back up into a peach basket?
UNCLE TIM: Uh-huh.
JESSICA: Well, imagine you just do the jumping back up into the peach basket, but your hands fall off so you just fall flat on your back underneath the bar? In front of fifty little kids who are in the middle of their stretches? And you’re supposed to be the adult? Paying attention and helping them stretch? Instead you knock the wind out of yourself and are laying on the floor.
SPANNY: And then you’re trying to pretend that it wasn’t that bad and you’re trying to talk afterwards and you can’t.
JESSICA: There’s no air in your lungs.
UNCLE TIM: Like when you were laughing just now?
JESSICA: Like…[LAUGHS] yeah, it’s funny, I was talking to my sister and I was like—cause someone on Twitter was talking about how I laugh on the show—and I was like, man, my sister laughs exactly the same way, like we have this long and extended wheeze. [LAUGHS] Anyway, it’s genetic, you guys, there’s nothing I can do about it. Ok. So.
UNCLE TIM: Alright. So, moving on from that—I don’t know how we can, but we’ll try. So the Gym Nerd Challenge—I can’t talk now—the Gym Nerd Challenge is the gymnastics mythbuster challenge. We want you to ask a friend, you know, what comes to your mind when you think of gymnastics? If they present a stereotype, then you correct them, and ask if it changes their feelings about the sport. So have any of you had any luck busting myths lately?
UNCLE TIM: We suck at life.
JESSICA: Remember to enter our NCAA Giveaway Contest. You have until April 5th, when we’ll announce the winners, so good luck on the contest. Next week is going to be our What Is It Like to Run Away With The Circus? show. We’re going to have Tricia Woo on, who was an amazing beam worker for the University of Nebraska and is now in Cirque de Soleil, so we’re going to ask her all of our burning questions. If you have questions for Tricia, let us know. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call us at 415-800-3191 or on our Skype line, our username is GymcasticPodcast. And of course, we’re all over Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and Google Plus. And remember you can find a transcript of each and every show on our website, and of course we always have videos of the routines we’re talking about and videos so you can follow along while you’re listening to the show. Remember you can support the show by recommending the show to a friend or teammate, let people know about the show, let them know that you like it and you found your people. You can rate us or write a review for us on iTunes. You can download the Stitcher app, and since you guys asked for it last week, you guys can now donate to the show. We have a donate button. And thank you so much to the people who have already donated! We were overwhelmed. It’s amazing. Thank you so much. And so until next week, I am Jessica from Master-Gymnastics.com.
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: See you guys next week! Thanks for listening!
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