KRISTEN: No, they’re just trying all these things, and they just gave Bela, they gave him free reign to train us how and treat us how he wanted to.
JESSICA: This week: the Tokyo Cup, men’s NCAA Championships, and a gymnast so tough, she eats nails for breakfast: Olympic Medalist Kristen Maloney.
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 28 for April 10, 2013. I’m Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics.
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner.
UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym.
JESSICA: Want to see what we are talking about? You can follow along on the website. This is the world famous and only gymnastics podcast ever. Starting with the top news from around gymternet, Blythe—what’s happening this week?
BLYTHE: Well, two big meets, really, were what took place in the last week. You have the Tokyo World Cup, which is the finale of the FIG World Cup series, and that was won by Asuka Teramoto of Japan, and Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine. It’s wonderful to see Oleg and Ukraine, a very deserving gymnast and a very deserving team, take home 15,000 Swiss francs, which will go a long way towards supporting his training. Elsewhere, in Austria, in Linz, was the Austrian Team Open, and that was really the Great Britain-Switzerland Show. The Swiss Men’s team took the gold medal over Hungary and Austria in the men’s competition, and Oliver Hegi, a young gymnast from Switzerland who competed at the Junior Europeans in 2010 and was the top men’s gymnast there, he won the all-around title. And the women’s title was won by Kelly Simm, who is an up-and-comer from Great Britain, from the Netherlands’ Chantysha Netteb and Rear Theaker, who’s the young gymnast from Wales who’s absolutely on the rise. Needless to say, the British women defeated Hungary and Turkey, with the Great Britain-Scotland team that was combined coming in fourth place there.
JESSICA: Uncle Tim, you checked out a lot of the routines from the Tokyo Cup. Tell us what you saw there. I head there was a crazy bar routine.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah, so Shang Chunsong of China, she performed a kind of crazy bar routine. She has four releases, and she does a piked Hindorf, so that’s actually clear hip to basically Tkatchev in a piked position. There is somebody who does a toe-on version of that, it was called the Church, but this is actually the clear hip version, and as far as I know, it’s not in the Code of Points yet, so if she competes this at World Championships, it could be named after her. In addition to that release move, she does a Tkatchev, straddled Tkatchev, to a Gienger in between the bars, which is kind of crazy. I don’t think I would ever to a Gienger in between the bars. What about you, Jess?
JESSICA: Hell no. That looks terrifying. But seriously—and Blythe, we were talking about this before—she’s so tiny. It’s amazing she can actually do, get from the high bar to the low bar, or from the low to the high, because it’s so far away.
BLYTHE: She probably does her release moves from the low bar during practice.
JESSICA: I would love to see someone do that on the low bar. That would be the best. Ok, so let’s talk about her beam routine. It was beautiful, but how would you rank it?
UNCLE TIM: I would definitely say we are not talking Katelyn Ohashi good, or Larisa Iordache good, or even Mustafina good. It’s a work in progress. But she did have the highest beam score, and she is doing the traditional Chinese layout on beam, which we all love. But there are little places where she needs to improve, like her switch ring is lacking. She’s not quite getting her foot all the way to her head. But yeah, she’s somebody to look for in the upcoming quad, I would say, especially on what we would call the Chinese events, bars and beam.
JESSICA: And I watched, just for her, I watched Peyton Ernst, who placed in second from Kim Zmeskal’s gym, and I watched her floor, and I was really impressed with her, just the fluidity and grace that she has. I was just impressed with that. And Teramoto had a beautiful routine too, as most of the Japanese gymnasts do. What’s happening on the boys side?
UNCLE TIM: Alright, so the big story was that Danell withdrew from the meet. If you follow Yin Alvarez on Facebook, it didn’t really seem like there were any problems, but he didn’t compete the first day, and USAG noted that he had a shoulder injury, so Danell is out with a shoulder injury, Katelyn Ohashi just had shoulder surgery, and this week we’re interviewing Kristen Maloney, who had shoulder surgery as well, so we have a theme going right now, this week. And Marcel is kind of on the struggle bus right now, and his coach even said that in an interview, something a United States coach would never say. Jess, did you read that article?
JESSICA: Yeah, and didn’t he basically say, “Yeah, he’s not going to win this, he’s not going to win Euros.” And I wonder if he’s just setting, like it’s part of the game, setting expectations low so that when he does really well, everyone’s really excited about it. It’s very—and I always think strategy when people do stuff like this, but yeah. I was shocked that he said that.
BLYTHE: Marcel is about to be on a break with gymnastics.
UNCLE TIM: Do you think a permanent break, or a Philipp Boy permanent break, or just a temporary break?
BLYTHE: Oh, I think a temporary break.
JESSICA: Is he allowed to compete with other apparatus, or a total break?
BLYTHE: Maybe a break from doing the all-around. But I think that he’ll be back. He said at the American Cup that he wants to do one more Olympics. It would be his third Olympics, and you know, he’s really stepped up and is having his moment now.
UNCLE TIM: Ok.
JESSICA: So what about everyone’s Ukrainian boyfriend—who has not done what I suggested with the Mohawk yet—Oleg? Not Igor. Oleg.
BLYTHE: Wait, which Oleg?
JESSICA: Little Oleg. Skinny Oleg.
JESSICA: Not that one who is 19, baby Oleg.
BLYTHE: Well, Rick made a really interesting comment, where he said—he did a post, and he said he’s doing very well.
JESSICA: From the Gymnastics-Coaching.com blog.
BLYTHE: Gymnastics-Coaching.com. And he wrote a post and said he is doing very well. He was second at the American Cup. He probably could have performed better if he had better training conditions. And you know, that’s interesting, but you know, the Ukrainian guys, they don’t complain. Well, maybe Nikolai Kuksenkov complained a little bit. But Oleg Verniaiev and Igor Radivilov, they’re not complaining at all about training conditions, lack of support, lack of funding, lack of medical. They just kind of go into the gym and do what they do, and it’s awesome, and you really, really want to see them succeed because you know they’re not getting the advantages some of the other countries are getting. And they’re doing really hard gymnastics. Really, really hard gymnastics.
JESSICA: Yeah. Just to remind everybody, the Ukrainian Federation just kind of bankrupt-ish, and they just sent their gymnasts home from the training center, so they definitely do not have the funding they need right now.
UNCLE TIM: We need to set up a Save Ukrainian Gymnastics fund, Jess.
JESSICA: We do.
UNCLE TIM: I’ll put you in charge of that, so you can get Igor some proper training help.
JESSICA: That’s right. Maybe he should visit. Hmm.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah. I mean, you did do undergrad in physical—what, not physical therapy…
JESSICA: Kinesiology and athletic training.
UNCLE TIM: Athletic training, yeah. So maybe you could be his trainer.
JESSICA: Yup. He needs all his injuries checked out. Ok, so Oleg did very well, but he’s still having some trouble on p-bars.
UNCLE TIM: It’s true. So, if you watched the American Cup, you saw him save his one bar handstand. He kind of tipped over at a 45 degree angle and then tipped back over. It’s one of the moments where…
JESSICA: Which really should be a bonus. It’s so hard.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] It’s one of those moments where, if you’re in the crowd, you’re like, blowing air at him, like, come on! [BLOWING NOISES] Come on! So, at the Tokyo Cup he had another moment like that where he straddled, and then straddled down into basically a planche, and then straddled back up. Yeah, his p-bars are giving him trouble. He can get something from a 13.7 to a 15.8, which he achieved last week at the Tokyo Cup. So, we’ll see. Lots of his success at Europeans might come down to how he fares on p-bars.
JESSICA: This week’s interview with Kristen Maloney is brought to you by TumblTrak. You know, we talked to her a lot about the injuries that she came back from in gymnastics, and we ended up talking about TumblTrak a lot. And it reminded me of some videos that I shared with the podcast crew this week, and those were of my comeback from having a labrum tear in my hip, and I chose not to have surgery, but try to rehab it without, and TumblTrak was my best friend during that. I was able to send my physical therapist videos of what I was doing when I was finally released to be able to do gymnastics. I could do numbers on the TumblTrak so I could feel like I was really doing gymnastics. I could repeat skills. And it helped me to feel that relief and joy that I was finally, actually doing gymnastics again. You know, it was too early to do things on the floor, but when I got on the TumblTrak I just felt the joy of being able to flip and feel like I was really making progress coming back from the injury, and for that I will always be grateful to TumblTrak. Check them out at TumblTrak.com, that’s T-U-M-B-L-T-R-A-K.com. A little editor’s note before we get started. Mohini Bhardwaj was the first gymnast to compete a double twisting Yurchenko in college, and I just wanted to add that little correction.
BLYTHE: Two-time US Champion Kristen Maloney is well known as one of gymnastics’ warriors. A member of the 2000 Bronze-winning US Olympic Women’s team, Maloney was known from strength to strength as one of the US’s top tricksters on beam and floor to being one of the top gymnasts at UCLA. Today, she is coaching at Iowa State and tells us that she is still competitive. Kristen, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show. Now, a lot of people know you as the National Champion, the 2000 Olympian, the UCLA star, but can you tell us what you’ve done since leaving UCLA and entering college coaching? Because I know that you’ve had quite a lot of coaching experience.
KRISTEN: That was fast. Yes, let me see. Well, when I first got out of school, my job was coaching club at Chris Baller’s gym, GymJam. It was the first year, and I coached there for about a year and then I tried out for Cirque, and then I went into Cirque du Soleil for a couple of years, two, two and a half years. And then, during that time, I also went back to school and got my teaching credential. I wanted to do elementary education, so that’s what I did. Got my certificate, and then I went to New York and taught preschool for about a year, maybe? And then I decided that wasn’t for me, so I went back home and regrouped and decided that I wanted to coach college.
BLYTHE: And, just out of curiosity, what made you decide to go the Cirque route after college?
KRISTEN: Well, I had done Seaworld in San Diego, so I had a case of performing, not just doing gymnastics but performing, actual performing and dancing and also doing gymnastics, that whole thing, and it was a lot of fun and I really, really enjoyed it, and I knew Cirque was another avenue to perform and to keep doing some sort of activity, gymnastics activity related. So it just kind of came to me, and my roommate in college knew the casting, one of the casting directors at Cirque, and she got me in touch with her, and she kind of talked me through it, and then I decided that it was something that I wanted to try.
BLYTHE: I see. And what acts did you perform in, in Cirque, and where did you go?
KRISTEN: I did an act, it was called Power Track, basically TumblTrak but it has a different bed, so a lot harder but also bouncier if that makes sense. Like, if you hit at the right angle, you go a lot higher.
KRISTEN: And I did, I was on the show Alegria, which is a touring show, and I did Europe and South America.
BLYTHE: Wow, that’s amazing. So what was it like touring in Europe with a performing arts troupe like that? Did you get to see a lot of cities and have a lot of cool experiences, culturally?
KRISTEN: Yes, it was amazing. It was so much fun and eye-opening and just…I can’t even explain it. Yeah, we got to actually see a lot. We had every Monday off, and then the performers got about a week off in between each city, so we could do whatever we want, and I travelled a lot within that time, and got to go see other places and not just the city we were performing in.
BLYTHE: Oh, that’s great. And what was your home base city? Where did you live?
KRISTEN: We didn’t have a home base. We would go from city to city and spend anything from a month to three months in a city, and then we would pick up and move and go to the next city. Tour breaks, I would come back home here to the US and visit my family, and then I would go back out on tour.
BLYTHE: Oh, I see. So it works like that. So they would put you up in an apartment in, say, Madrid, for like three months, and…
KRISTEN: Yeah, yeah. Families, the families would get apartment-style house, and the single people would get hotels.
BLYTHE: Wow, that’s pretty cool.
BLYTHE: So, we actually just interviewed Tricia Woo, who talked about having to overcome her fear of the Russian swing while she was doing Cirque…
KRISTEN: Oh my gosh, I can imagine.
BLYTHE: And we were wondering—you’ve had some experience with that as well?
KRISTEN: Well, no. I went through a point called Formation, which is three months of training for your act, and on the last week there they let you go around and try different acts because while you’re there training in formation, you’re only practicing your act along with acting classes and dancing classes and make-up and all that stuff. So the last week, they let you go around and try different acts, and Russian swing was one of them and I can imagine how scary that must be.
BLYTHE: [LAUGHS] Were there any scary skills that you had to learn for doing whatever it was you were doing there?
KRISTEN: No, I loved it, I loved TumblTrak. Floor, obviously floor was one of my favorite events as a gymnast, and it’s one of my favorite events coaching-wise. So no, I wasn’t scared at all, I was really excited because I got to do a lot of stuff and learn to do a triple back and a double double. I was having a ball.
BLYTHE: Wow. That’s really amazing. And it’s a good lead-in to, actually, we wanted to talk about some of your skills as an elite gymnast, and you did one of the hardest skills on floor, the full twisting double layout, and we know that there were a few people that did it in the 80s and the early 90s, a few women, but you were the first person that I saw do it in the US. And so tell us about the evolution of that skill. Whose idea was it for you to learn that, and how quickly did you learn it? And just, can you tell us a little bit about your training and that?
KRISTEN: You know, I can’t really remembered who suggested it. I was actually telling my girls the other day because somebody was asking me about how I came up with the idea to do the toe-on Shaposhnikova, but I told them, and I kind of laughed and told them that my coaches told me to try this and so I tried it, and that’s how that worked. I don’t know. We were always looking for things to play around with on floor—like I said, tumbling was my favorite—so some things after I learned it were fairly easy for me. I don’t know. Just started playing around with it. I had maybe six months to learn? I mean, once I figured out air awareness and where I was and learning to look for the ground when I was in the skill, that part was easy. I think the hardest part was getting enough power, I guess, to complete it.
BLYTHE: Yeah. When you only get so many steps to run into it…
KRISTEN: Yeah, yeah that’s thing. You only have so much room on the floor.
BLYTHE: Yeah. Definitely. You know, did you ever—nowadays you have Mykayla Skinner who’s doing a double double layout, and maybe Simone Biles seems to have the capability to do that too on the elite scene. Did you ever play around with that, maybe into the pit or…?
KRISTEN: I did. Yeah, yeah. I was in the process of learning a double double and even a Yurchenko two and a half, but I got a stress fracture and that really limited how much and how much I could push through the pain of just everyday practice. The rod floor didn’t hurt as much and I could do a lot of them on the floor, and TumblTrak, and we just ran out of time, and I ran out of pain tolerance, I guess, to train it on floor.
BLYTHE: I understand. And I wanted to talk to you about your Olympics as well, but I wanted to talk about, back in 1992, you were training at Parkettes with Bill and Donna Strauss, and they sort of lived through what happened to Kim Kelly, and I know that you’ve addressed this before, but we just wanted to know, having been a kid in the gym when that was going on, did that affect you as you kind of came up through the elite ranks? Did you ever think, wow, this might happen to me as well? And what was it like, training with Bill and Donna, and getting to that point where you were number one in the US, and how did they handle that knowing that, you know, having lived through what they did. It must have been very emotional for them. And…
KRISTEN: Yeah for them more so than me I think. I was always the type of gymnast, I like to take one day at a time, one season at a time. I wasn’t really thinking about that big picture I guess until obviously later on when Bela took over. I think they had a little bit harder time than I did. I think they thought it might possibly happen, knowing I was one of the top gymnasts at the time when Bela took over, knowing how consistent I was in international meets, I didn’t think I would have that issue, knock on wood I guess. I don’t know. I knew, I could tell it was harder on them than it was for me especially when Bela took over and he was deciding everything. I think from that point on, I could tell it was a little more stressful for them than it was for me because anything that could go wrong, if I had a bad practice, or a bad training in front of them, I could sense that they were a little tense about it, especially when we got to the Olympics. But for me, I tried to not let that bother me because I was there for myself and for the team and I obviously wanted to do the best that I could so I tried to keep myself in a bubble and do the best that I could at practice and let the chips fall where they may as the saying goes.
BLYTHE: It must have been deja vu for them, especially given that Bela Karolyi was appointed National Team Coordinator several months before the Olympics.
KRISTEN: Yeah and I think what made it more difficult was the fact that I was, I still had the stress fracture in my shin. They were trying to protect me as much as they could without taking spots away from me on vault and floor because of my shin. I knew that was probably a big [inaudible] because of all the training that we were doing, trying to protect me and my health and be as close to 100% as I could be.
BLYTHE: Tell me about your history with injuries. I would watch the NBC Nationals broadcast and it seemed like you were always kind of coming back from something during that quad. How did you manage to find a way to manage the pain and rehabilitation and get your skills back and live day in and day out doing what you had to in the gym to prepare for these competitions?
KRISTEN: You know, looking back, I really didn’t have that many problems, I think. I didn’t have that many major injuries. I had a few here and there that mostly came from spectacular crashes but the day in and the day out with the sprains and pulls, I didn’t really have. I just had one major injury with my shin and I think everyone thinks I was always injured which really wasn’t the case. I really didn’t get the stress fracture until ‘99, I can’t remember. But that was really my main long standing injury I think. Everyone thinks I was so injured because it wouldn’t heal. It wasn’t like I had multiple stress fractures. It was just that one that was very stubborn and didn’t want to heal. But for me to get through it, I had my goals and I knew what I needed to do to reach those goals. I’m not saying it wasn’t hard. It was very hard at times. Like I said, I’m the kind of person who likes to take one day, one meet at a time. You know what you have to do and you just get through it.
BLYTHE: At what point in your goal setting, did you acknowledge that the Olympics were a possibility?
KRISTEN: I guess, probably after ‘96. Olympic Trials in ‘96 was not the best for me. I had a really good compulsory day and optional day. I was young yes. I was young to the senior competition. It was my first year being a senior. I think after ‘96 and coming back in ‘97 and doing really well kind of got me started thinking about it but not seriously and then in ‘98, it became obvious that I was kind of on track to make the next Olympics. Even looking back, how I responded to a lot of the reporters about going to college or staying for the Olympics, for me that was probably just a way to protect myself. Obviously, I was always going to go for the Olympics but anything can happen and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overlooking anything and jumping too far ahead is not something I like to do.
BLYTHE: What did Bill and Donna tell you after the 1996 Olympic Trials?
KRISTEN: They didn’t really say much. I took about two weeks off after to kind of re evaluate and reassess what I was doing and if gymnastics was something I wanted to pursue long term. I mean it had always been long term up to that point but I was a freshman in high school, and if it was something I really wanted to continue. They were actually really good about it and let me take as much time as I wanted and let me figure out what the next step was and then I came back and it was training as usual.
BLYTHE: So at the Olympic Trials in 2000, you placed third in the all around behind Elise Ray. Were you confident at that point that you would be selected?
KRISTEN: Yes I was. Yeah I was. There was so much other stuff going on at the time about other people that I was pretty confident. Again, I didn’t have a great meet at Trials. Trials are not my friend I guess in gymnastics. I felt fairly certain that I was fine.
BLYTHE: After the ‘99 Worlds, everything changed. USA Gymnastics pretty much up ended the system and brought in Bela Karolyi and said here’s your National Team Coordinator and now you’re all going to go down to the ranch and do this and that. That must have been kind of jarring both for you and for your coaches, not just because of the history of 1992 and all that. But can you tell us what the training period was like for the US and for your team and how you guys all adapted to it.
KRISTEN: At that point, I know it’s hard to see now, and a lot of gymnastics fans and even a lot of gymnasts and coaches now, at that point when it happened, it was very chaotic I guess, with no one really knowing what was going to happen, who was going to go, how was this going to work. They have a fine oiled machine now but at that time, it was the first time they were doing it. It was all very experimental. Everyone came in with a lot of trepidation, very unsure. It was kind of scary.
BLYTHE: I could understand that. You were the last team that was coached by Bela Karolyi and a lot of changes were made after the 2000 Olympics. There’s this interview with Larry Nasser, the US team doctor and he says that your team, the 2000 team, will always have a special place in his heart because of what you all went through. And I’ve always wondered exactly what he meant by that. Can you elaborate on what he’s alluding to?
KRISTEN: Um sure. It goes a lot with what I just said. A lot of people saw it was experimental. There’s a trial and all these things but it’s almost like they just gave Bela free reign to train us and treat us how he wanted to. To come in the year before the Olympics and change everything, I’m not sure many people took well to that, with good reason. It was very hard and I think a lot of what he’s alluding to I think played at the Olympics and after the Olympics. All I can say is that we weren’t treated the best by him specifically. I think Jamie Dantzscher got it right when she said, he wants to take the credit when we do well but when we do not so well, it’s all on us and I think that everyone overlooked the fact that we actually did very well the second day at the Olympics. It was just a fly by the seat of your pants. We are just listening to this guy and we wouldn’t get the lineups until right before we marched out. We didn’t know who was going to be competing, who wasn’t going to be competing. It was what it was.
BLYTHE: You guys actually went in and warmed up for Team Finals without knowing whether you were going to compete, you guys didn’t know if you were going to compete…..
KRISTEN: We didn’t know the order. I think one or two spots were not for sure. Like the first day, I did all around but the second day, I didn’t do bars. But he didn’t tell us that until right before we marched out, so I warmed up everything. Everybody warmed up everything and then he would tell us the lineup.
BLYTHE: Going back to the training part of it, when Bela Karolyi became the National Team Coordinator, what changed? I mean everybody was going down to the ranch for monthly camps. But in the gym, were you doing more numbers? Were you doing pressure sets? What did he institute that was different?
KRISTEN: We would have testing, like conditioning testing the first day. And then lots of numbers, lots of routines, lots of verification. That’s all I can remember that changed. It’s not the fact that it was implemented, what was different was that we felt like we were almost like animals in a cage. Everyone was watching every little thing that you do and taking notes. Even if you happen to mess up a little bit, it was like a huge deal and that’s what it felt like.
BLYTHE: It was more how you were treated than the gymnastics itself.
KRISTEN: Yeah yeah in a way yeah.
BLYTHE: Understood. And that Olympics itself was just, it was a memorable Olympics, we’ll say, for way more than one reason, for way more than just the US team. And what happened to Morgan White, as you’re leaving for Sydney, she finds out she has a stress fracture in her foot and Mary Lee Tracy has kind of alluded to that she kind of knew that she was done and the lineup changes and the coaching changes while you’re in Australia. Did that phase the team? I’m sure it didn’t help.
KRISTEN: DId that phase us?
KRISTEN: Yeah a little bit. I think so because it was not communicated to us. It was communicated I’m sure to our coaches maybe but not to us athletes and I think that’s where it got a little weird because we had no idea what was going on and we didn’t know until she was leaving that that’s what happened, that she was injured and she was off the team. We had no idea.
BLYTHE: So you guys weren’t talking about it amongst yourselves like
KRISTEN: After, after the fact because we had no idea what happened and why that happened and what was going on and like I said, it was what it was and that’s the way it played out.
BLYTHE: And I completely agree with you in that the team finals and USA’s performance in the team finals was one of the great stories of that meet and kind of underplayed by the media and by a lot of people. And then for you, now 10 years later, to get a phone call in your classroom right, from Donna Strauss saying you know you guys were fourth, well you weren’t really fourth. That must have just blown your mind.
KRISTEN: It did. And it still feels weird to say that and to think that. It was crazy. It still is to me in my mind.
BLYTHE: What did you do with your bronze medal? Where do you keep it?
KRISTEN: I have it here. It’s in my apartment. I haven’t done anything special with it yet.
BLYTHE: And so moving on from the Olympics, let’s talk about the next phase of your career. After the Olympics, you and Jamie went directly to UCLA right? You didn’t even go home. You went right on to campus.
KRISTEN: Well she was already there but yeah I went directly there. So she was kind of going home but for you it was just a whole new world. Now what attracted you to UCLA? You shooed the decision to go professional as some Olympians seem to do these days in order to do college gymnastics. Now tell me about that decision and why UCLA.
KRISTEN: Well it really wasn’t a decision to make. I knew from a very very young age that I wanted to do college gymnastics. I have to credit the Strausses for having really nurtured that in the gym and making it a big deal about going to college and really just nurturing that environment coming up as a gymnast. So I knew that’s what I wanted to do. And I wanted to continue my education. And in order to get the best education around, I needed that scholarship. For me, it was a no brainer.
BLYTHE: I hate to bring up injuries again, but I know you went through some injuries at UCLA as well. I think I read an interview or saw some coverage that said at some point while you were at UCLA that doctors told you those words, you will never do gymnastics again. Can you take us back to that episode and tell us what you did and obviously you did do gymnastics again and very well. What happened?
KRISTEN: Well it was the same injury, my stress fracture, so it wasn’t a new injury. Ms Val and the coaches there knew coming in that that was the deal. They knew I was coming in with a stress fracture and it was an injury that was not healing. So that was that injury. I came in freshman year and competed. Team did well. I did okay. We decided, my doctors, coaches, and parents to take the next year off and try and let the stress fracture heal. I had a rod in my shin at the time, so they took out that. I think they did something else to try and stimulate bone growth and healing. So I sat out my sophomore year, getting x-rays every once in awhile and it still wasn’t healing. It healed a little bit just not much and so the doctor told me he wouldn’t clear me because it could break all the way through. It had the possibility of breaking all the way through. So I decided to get a rod back in my shin so I could compete. So I got that done after my sophomore year in college. From that surgery, I got a bone infection. Yeah that’s when it became really serious. I had to go back in for surgery right away and they had to take everything out and I had to go on antibiotics. The bacteria and eaten away about 80% of my bone and that’s why they said I would probably not do gymnastics again. I would be lucky if I could walk normally again after all that.
BLYTHE: And when you’re sitting there being told this, what’s going through your head?
KRISTEN: I think I was in denial. I think that’s what helped me along. I had one day, the first day I found out, where I was completely devastated and throwing things and crying and I was really upset. My dad is the one who kind of calmed me down and set me straight about it because he had just gotten over cancer and I was all why me I don’t understand. He was like no one knows why. Look at me. I’ve gone through cancer. That’s when it kind of hit me. Yes it’s serious. Yes it’s a big deal. It’s not life threatening and I’m not going through something like that. From then on, I was just going to do what they told me to do. I was going to come back no matter what they said. Healthy dose of denial I guess.
BLYTHE: Way to put things into perspective, Dad.
KRISTEN: Yep, pretty much.
BLYTHE: So how long did it take for you to walk normally again and to get back into the gym and do stuff?
KRISTEN: Oh gosh let’s see. I had the surgery I think in November if I remember correctly. Yeah I had it in November. And it felt ok. I wasn’t allowed to walk on it. So it wasn’t the fact that it was hurting because I wasn’t allowed to walk on it but obviously all that bone had to be cleaned up and the infection and stuff. So I wasn’t allowed to walk on it for probably about 3 months maybe. And then I could start walking on it in a boot, slowly coming back and putting pressure on it. I think in June, May or June, I remember it so vividly because he let me run in a straight line. I could jog in a straight line. I could go out on the track and I was so excited. So it took me about a year and from that jogging, slowly they started adding things I could do. Then I could start swinging bars over a pit, that was another turning point. Then I could do tumble track and trampoline and then things on beam and then we just slowly added
BLYTHE: And were you… Oh I’m sorry I don’t mean to cut off. Were you amazing your doctors by the things you were accomplishing and being like, “Yeah no this is alright,” you know? “My leg is still attached and it feels ok.”
KRISTEN: Yeah, I mean I think so. Yeah considering how he reacted when I had the infection and saw how bad it was, yes. I think I did.
BLYTHE: And you must have one hell of a pain tolerance. You must.
KRISTEN: Apparently. I don’t know, I think so. I guess. Yeah.
BLYTHE: Yeah. And looking back on it, like the original injury to your shin, do you ever think there would have been anything you could have done differently? That you still could have had the results that you did and the career that you had if, you know- and been able to make it easier on yourself so there wasn’t as many surgeries and as much pain and stuff like that.
KRISTEN: I’m not sure. Because we did a lot of things to try and heal it. I had a bone stimulator, I tried a walking boot for a long time, I changed my diet. I don’t know. I’m not sure if anything I did differently outside of sitting a couple years out would have made a difference. And I really don’t like to think about it because you know it’s in the past and I chose the path that I did, so.
BLYTHE: Yeah, and you can’t take it back, definitely. And it’s interesting to talk to you about this because what I don’t hear from you is, “There was a moment when I thought ‘I’m in so much pain, I don’t know if I can do this anymore.’” Did that ever cross your head?
KRISTEN: Yeah. At one specific time in my mind yeah. It was really hard to come back in 99 sometimes. It was actually a really frustrating day. I was trying to come back from my shin and my shoulder surgery. I was feeling down and I was crying and my mom told me, “You don’t have to do this.” And as soon as someone tells me that, I mean, I’m like, “What are you talking about? Of course I’m going to do it. I’m just having a bad day.”
KRISTEN: So but no, and especially at college it never ever crossed my mind that I was going to stop.
BLYTHE: Yeah. Now in college also I feel like you really blossomed as an artistic gymnast, in some of your floor choreography and on beam. And of course in college you have the opportunity to sort of do more with that than you do in elite where you’re trying to kind of meet requirements and what not. Can you talk about Miss Val and what she brought to your gymnastics?
KRISTEN: Yeah. I mean it really helps when you have a really great wonderful choreographer that you’re working with, not just once to get a floor routine but day in and day out. And who can watch you and fix things or change things if it’s not working. You know she constantly tweaks floor routines so they look good for each specific gymnast. Because we’re all not great dancers. And I think she’s really good at finding things and finding music that the gymnast can work with. You know you come in not knowing how to dance really well and it may not be the most artistic one but you know it’s going to look good. And I think she nurtures that, nurtures that part of the gymnast. And I think a big part of it was coming into college and learning and falling in love with the sport again. And knowing I have my team around me and I’m doing it for my team and really falling in love with the sport all over again. And I think that was probably really evident later on in my career, how happy I was and how much fun I was having and obviously that’s going to flow over to me doing gymnastics.
BLYTHE: It absolutely did. How long did it take you to fall in love with gymnastics again, and at what point did you realize that that was what had happened?
KRISTEN: Probably midway through my freshman year, my freshman year season. I came in obviously really beat up and kind of had to go through a detoxing time where, no Advil…
KRISTEN: …trying to heal and see if there’s anything else going on and just trying to heal up and get strong again. I think it was evident for me, yeah, halfway through our season because you can’t help but fall in love with the sport. Especially in college when you have 15 other girls around you, and doing the same thing, and having the same goal, and we’re all on the same side.
BLYTHE: Yes, absolutely. Now let’s talk about you as a coach. You’ve been part of so many amazing organization, successful organizations, from Parkettes to UCLA to Cirque du Soleil. What has that brought you when it comes to now guiding your own gymnasts toward their own successes?
KRISTEN: I feel like I have a lot of experiences and knowledge to pick and choose from, what I would like to do and also what I don’t want to do as a coach. So I think I pick a little bit of everything from all experiences. And also you know I like to keep in mind the bigger picture of life and keep them happy and enjoying what they’re doing. And also know that there’s life after gymnastics. So yeah that’s what I think I like to do as a coach, keeping in mind the individual and their experiences and how they learn and all that.
BLYTHE: How would you describe yourself as a coach now than you were, say, you know, when you were coaching club at Chris Waller’s gym? What have you learned in the last few years?
KRISTEN: I learned, oh gosh, I’ve learned a lot since my first year of coaching. There’s a lot of things that are the same. I still have very high expectations of all my girls. Because I want them to be the best that they can be. And so I have these high standards for the girls, but I’m also very aware of the individual. So I also try to take in my how they’re feeling that day or if they have an injury or something else going on. So I try to keep all that in mind while I’m coaching. Coaching, even as a team.
BLYTHE: As a coach, especially as an NCAA coach where the girls are a little older, you know, how do you know when to push and when to back off?
KRISTEN: That’s tough, because everyone has different thresholds. So I feel like when they first come in in the fall it takes me awhile to get going because I just try to suss out everyone’s personality and find out how much you can push them. But for me it’s a lot about communication. I’m constantly asking them how they feel, how they’re doing that day. I ask them, “Hey how are you feeling? Can we do more?” I take that into account, you know. Sometimes I ask them and sometimes I tell them. So I think it depends on the girl really.
BLYTHE: Absolutely. And what attracted you to coaching college rather than staying with the club scene?
KRISTEN: I think a lot of it is it’s where I kind of came into my own as a gymnast, I feel. And I just fell in love with it because it’s not just about gymnastics. It’s about enjoying your life, it’s about school, it’s about the next phase after that. It’s helping them to grow up in a way.
BLYTHE: That absolutely makes sense. And one last college question for you actually: by the end of your NCAA career, you were- I believe you were the first to compete a double twisting Yurchenko, the first NCAA gymnast to do that, and also the first to compete a full twisting double layout at the college level. And those are some pretty heady skills you know at the end of your NCAA career. And given that you were sort of in the age where it was ok to be like 23 and trying to make the National team you know, you wouldn’t have been alone in that. Did you think- did you consider going back to elite after graduation? Did you ever consider it?
KRISTEN: Not seriously, no. No, I mean I had one moment where I thought maybe I could do it. But then I think back and remember all the training and all the- all that, that goes into being the top notch gymnast. And I’m a very competitive person and if I’m going to go do something I’m going to go do it full out. And so I didn’t think I had the heart or the want to be at that level again in my career. I felt like as disappointing as some people were with the end of my club career, I guess, USA career, I had already come to terms- I had already been ok with how things ended for a long time that point. And I was so happy with where I was and that kind of scene and I was so excited to figure out what was next in my life. I was find. I was ready to let go of gymnastics and move on and do other things.
BLYTHE: Understood. And you know now you just came back from regionals where you qualified an individual to NCAAs, and tell us a little bit about Michelle Shealy and what her program is like and how she’s doing.
KRISTEN: Shealy is a great kid. She’s just a really really good kid. And she’s so good to work with and she’s so fun to work with. She’s always smiling. She’s one of those kids that’s always, you know, upbeat about things. So we’re all really excited that we had an individual and had her make it to NCAAs so we’re just really excited. Today’s the first day back since we got back yesterday. So we’ll probably ease off a little bit today and give her a little bit of a rest and get going again with routines tomorrow.
BLYTHE: There’s one thing that I always wanted to ask a Parkettes gymnast and you’re under no obligation to answer it, but Jennifer Sey’s book, you know, obviously you were there…
KRISTEN: I have not read it, I have not read it, no.
BLYTHE: Kristen so far you have been fabulous, thank you so much.
KRISTEN: Thank you
BLYTHE: And it was absolutely lovely to talk to you.
UNCLE TIM: Alright so I have some of the fun gym nerd questions, the long standing myths, things that people have always wanted to know about. So.
UNCLE TIM: At the 2005 NCAA National Championships, your Olympic and UCLA teammate Tasha Schwikert won the all-around and you placed second, but in the the photos Tasha is holding your trophy and you are holding her first place trophy. What’s the story behind that?
KRISTEN: I think it was just a mix-up when they gave them to us. There’s no big sensational story there.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. Because a couple weeks ago we had Andreea Raducan on our show and we asked her- because there’s this long standing myth about Simona Amanar gave her her gold medal and yeah, that was also debunked. So…
UNCLE TIM: …you didn’t end up with the first place trophy?
KRISTEN: Ok her’s is a little more, more big deal than mine, huh?
UNCLE TIM: But you didn’t end up with the first place trophy then?
KRISTEN: No I did not.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. So another gymnastics myth has been debunked for us.
KRISTEN: There you go.
UNCLE TIM: And last week we had Tricia Woo on our show and she told us some of the crazy things you guys have to do during Cirque training. Formation I think you call it.
UNCLE TIM: So that you kind of get the gymnast out of you and you start learning how to be a performer and an actor. What were some of the things you had to do? For instance she was talking about her clown master basically would hit the drum and then tell them to go into crazy positions. One that she cited was “pretend like you’re having the best sex of your life.” What kind of things did they make you do?
KRISTEN: The probably craziest class or one that made me most uncomfortable was a class called [inaudible] where we kind of had to dress up just crazy. Like with the big boobs and the big butt. And you get into all these characters and a lot of it’s like dirty talk and being very vulgar and mean and gross and spit everywhere. And it was very loud and obnoxious. And I’m not that type of person, I’m kind of shy and quiet. So that was probably the one that was most uncomfortable.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. Alright. And so if you can elaborate on that, do you stick pillows in your butt?
KRISTEN: Yes they actually had costumes that you put on and then they have- you just stuff them with whatever they lay out for you. Like pillows and clothes. And they actually have costumes with big butts and boobs you can put on yourself.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. [LAUGHS] It sounds like a lot of fun. I mean, alright. And another thing that I think longtime gym fans have always wondered about is the film called The Gymnast. And it debuted in the Toronto Film Festival and you were in it. Can you tell us what your role in that movie was? It was a documentary if I’m correct, and it featured you and I believe Mary Lee Tracy was also in it. But it never really aired anywhere else. And I think it had you after your surgery.
KRISTEN: Yes. Yeah I mean we were just approached by a filmmaker about wanting to do a documentary about gymnastics. I mean I was obviously very hesitant at first, but she was very clear that she wanted it not to be like a horrible piece, but I don’t know something just to show the hard work and dedication and everything that goes into being the best. So yeah we did a lot of interviews, she followed us around a lot, but that was that. I actually never saw the whole thing.
UNCLE TIM: Ok that was going to be my follow up question. Speaking of making good TV, you were part of the Olympic cycle when NBC was doing all the fluff pieces and stuff.
KRISTEN: Oooh yes, the fluff pieces.
UNCLE TIM: How was that for you?
KRISTEN: It was fine. I mean I was very shy back then and so it was a little uncomfortable for me, when I was a club gymnast I guess, when I was younger. So it was a little hard for me. And I still don’t do well with all the attention and focus on myself. But it was fine, it’s what they had to do. Everyone likes a story like I said and and people want to get to know who they’re watching year in and year out, and that’s fine.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. Did they ever put you in positions or scenarios where you were like, “Why am I doing this?” I feel like one year they made the girls stand around a grand piano in a concert theater or something. Were you part of that fluff piece?
KRISTEN: [LAUGHS] I don’t think so. They made us do finger painting at one time. We were finger painting a map. I don’t know. I think it was for a Pacific Alliance. That was kind of silly. But it was also kind of fun. We were young and, I don’t know. I was never rudely uncomfortable. It was kind of silly.
UNCLE TIM: Alright. Ok. And so earlier you described yourself as a competitive person. And now that you’re no longer an elite gymnast, how do you channel your competitiveness?
KRISTEN: You know I’m not sure. I don’t do things that bring out that super competitiveness in myself, except sometimes when we play games with the girls, with the team. I do get competitive at meets, but I try to you know keep that inside because I want my girls to know that it’s not always about scores and winning, it’s about going out there and being satisfied with the work you put in and how you do.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. And so while you’re coaching do you ever think to yourself, “Oh man, if only I could be out there competing.” Do you ever think that?
KRISTEN: Oh my gosh, every meet. I’m like, “Can’t I just do it for you guys? Let me just go.” No but I miss it. Especially at meets, and college meets in particular. Yeah it really makes me miss it once I’m out there on the floor with my girls.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. And can you still do any gymnastics skills? Like can you still do a full twisting double layout into the pit or anything off Tumbl Trak?
KRISTEN: Maybe if I trained, but we don’t have a Tumbl Trak that goes into the pit. I mean I play around every once in a while.
UNCLE TIM: Ok, and what can you still do?
KRISTEN: I can do double backs on the Tumbl Trak. On the Tumbl Trak. Front tucks, back tucks, can do back handspring layouts, can do stuff like that.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. And obviously during this interview we established you were a huge badass back in the day.
KRISTEN: Oh well thank you.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] You always hit and you seemed to unaffected by pain. So we’re kind of curious, which gymnast did you look up to? Where there any gymnasts that you saw modeling that behavior for you?
KRISTEN: I never tried to be another gymnast. There were obviously other gymnasts that I look up to. One of my favorite, and I try to tell her any time I see her was Nadia. She was my absolute favorite and I still turn into a little girl when I see her, and I get really excited that she knows who I am. So, she was like my main driving force I guess in gymnastics.
UNCLE TIM: Do you get little butterflies or anything?
KRISTEN: I do, I still get really star struck when I see her. I mean, it’s Nadia.
UNCLE TIM: That’s true. I think I’d probably be freaking out too if I met Nadia. And one final question to put you on the spot a little bit, what team do you think will win the NCAAs this year? Are you going with your alma mater in UCLA, or somebody else?
KRISTEN: Well, don’t I have to?
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Well I mean, Florida has posted the biggest score.
KRISTEN: Well okay, look. They’ve had a lot of injuries, yes. They’ve had a lot of injuries this year, UCLA has, and I know they’re kind of fighting an uphill battle at this point, but you can never count them out. And Oklahoma has also been doing really, really well this year, as they have in the past couple of years. They’re really making a name for themselves in women’s gymnastics now. But yeah, I would probably say its Florida’s to lose at this point.
UNCLE TIM: Okay, I think that’s pretty much the general thought going around.
KRISTEN: Hey, any given Saturday though, right?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah.
KRISTEN: And you can never count out Alabama. We were just there for regionals and they looked pretty good.
UNCLE TIM: So, we will see. It will be exciting!
KRISTEN: We will see. It will be exiting! I’m really excited to go.
JESSICA: What stood out the most for you from that interview?
BLYTHE: What stood out for me is just her sort of, unaffectedness about, yeah I was injured but it was alright. And maybe, maybe it was more the broadcasters trying to create a storyline: oh here she is, she’s injured again, she has a rod in her shin, etc. but she didn’t seem like – and this could also be having put some distance between that time and now, where you’re no longer training that intensely and you’re no longer in sort of this daily amount of pain. But I was really just taken aback almost by her toughness, by just “Yeah, yeah. I had these surgeries.” But no, it really wasn’t as much as maybe we thought that it was, so either she was injured a little bit and it was over blown, or she just has a bad ass pain tolerance. I kind of tend to think she just probably has a bad ass pain tolerance. But yeah, I thought it was nice to get the perspective – it was a very adult perspective on her career. And nobody ever said elite gymnastics was easy, but it seems to have brought her a lot of things and brought her to a really good place, and after everything, the injuries, the Olympics, and Bela Karolyi, she really deserves to be in a good place. So it’s nice to see that she is.
JESSICA: I really like that you mentioned hearing an adult perspective. And I think so much as gymnastics fans and on NBC where they’re trying to tell a story or create a deep story line for us to all feel something immediately for the athletes, you know the gymnasts, the parents, and the gym often get painted in a very bad light from just hearing of sound bites, or if you just at someone’s injury record. And I was really happy to hear her talk about her coaches trying to protect her during the Olympics, her coaches really encouraging NCAA and the legacy of NCAA and college scholarships they have. Actually Parkettes website has a page that’s like a mile long about all of the gymnasts who’ve gotten college scholarships from there. And also the fact that her parents were right there, her parents weren’t some absentee people just dropping her to gym. I mean her mom said you don’t have to do this, this was her choice. Uncle Tim, what stood out for you from this interview the most?
UNCLE TIM: So I think that there were two things. I thought that her description of the training camp process was fascinating, it was we were like animals in a cage, is basically how she felt. She went on to describe it, but that original description really stood out in my mind. Just you know, how she felt dehumanized in many ways, she didn’t feel like a person, she compared herself to an animal. I thought that was a pretty powerful simile. And the other thing that I guess I didn’t really recall is the fact that her father had cancer. It was something that she didn’t really bring up until the very end of the interview, and so it’s one of those things where it showed some of her humility. She could have been overly dramatic about that like, “Oh! I’m having this terrible 2000 Olympics experience and my father has cancer” or whatever. She could have really brought that up and made her story into this kind of NBC fluff piece but she didn’t, and I was just really impressed with her humility throughout the entire interview.
BLYTHE: To give a sort of shout-out to the Parkettes, their history and how they emphasize education is – you know Donna Strauss is a former public school teacher. And they started this gym kind of like in their basement, and there was a man named Park, which is why their gym is called the Parkettes, who gave them the money to create a gym. And they have always been very education focused, I think as kind of a result of that. And the man Park, his name was Carol Parks and he was a high school principal where Donna worked, and he sort of helped them along when it came to establishing their gym.
JESSICA: To follow it up, I went to Parkettes camp because I’m from Pennsylvania so I went there when I was a kid. Although I didn’t have a great experience, you know nothing happened that, it was just not my greatest gymnastics experience. The one thing that really stood out to me there – well there were two things that really stood out to me. One was I never want to be elite because it looks really scary. Number two was they had all the coaches that were in college sit down and have a talk with us and tell us what it was like to be student-athletes…and it scared the crap out of me! [LAUGHS] But I remember it distinctly, and it was guys. And then the other thing we did is one of their coaches got her citizenship while we were there at camp. And so they had the whole camp sit down and listen to her story about where she came from, what it was like for her to train. I remember her telling us that, literally, they warmed up outside in the snow and then went into the gym, because they shared the gym with like a bunch of other sports, so they only got the gym for a certain amount of time. And just really made us appreciate what it was to have what we have in the United States. And then we all went outside and stood in front of the flag and said the Pledge of Allegiance or something with her for her getting her citizenship. So, that was emphasized even as a camper, I went there for a week, so yeah, it’s really true.
ANNOUNCER: Their athletic power excites.
SUZANNE YOCULAN: She’s coming on strong right now.
ANNOUNCER: Their artistic movements inspire. And no matter what challenge awaits, their goal remains the same.
SUZANNE YOCULAN: Landings become critical.
KATHY JOHNSON CLARKE: That was fantastic.
ANNOUNCER: 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: So, I had to make a really tough decision this week. I didn’t want to cut a single second from the Kristen Maloney interview because it was amazing and she answered so many questions, but we also had an incredible guest. We had Lauren Hopkins from The Couch Gymnast here and we talked about NCAA’s and it was great, and I don’t want to cut any of that either! And I can’t make a two hour show because it will cost us a bazillion dollars for our server if we have every show be 2.5 hours long. So what we’re going to do is I’m going to talk to Uncle Tim about the men’s conference championships right now, and then next week I will bring you the full discussion we had about regionals. I’ll release it early, you’ll be totally prepared for NCAA’s and have that information right before the meet starts. So stay tuned, it’s an awesome discussion and we’ll bring it to you early next week, I promise.
JESSICA: So Uncle Tim, tell us about – we don’t want to forget about the Men’s NCAA’s – they had their conference championships. So what happened at the MPSF, and what is the MPSF Championships?
UNCLE TIM: Right, so the MPSF is the Mountain Pacific, so you have four teams basically: Oklahoma, Stanford, Cal, and the Air Force. Oklahoma won by quite a landslide with a 443.35, and Stanford finished in 2nd with a 425.95, and Cal finished in 3rd with a 419.550. There were live feeds of this, Stanford had kind of their home video version which obviously featured all Stanford, and the Air Force also had their own which was primarily focused on the Air Force. I watched a little bit of it. I’ve seen Stanford and Cal compete so many times this year that it’s really hard for me to say anything new about them, and I really didn’t get to see much of Oklahoma unfortunately because of the feeds, so that was a little disappointing.
JESSICA: One thing that’s interesting, I think, is that – I mean when I’ve watched the Military teams in the past… You know in other countries someone will compete for the military but they’re an elite, and we don’t have that here. We have it in other sports, but not gymnastics. But we have college teams that are Military teams, and every time I see them compete they are terrifying. Terrifying! They look like, so tired. Everything looks like it’s coming from sheer will and it has nothing do… I don’t know how else to describe it, they look like they haven’t been fed, ran a thousand miles, and then showed up to compete after being beaten. It’s so scary.
JESSICA: Is that what it was like? Just throwing it out there! [LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: I’d actually say that the Air Force didn’t look quite that bad, compared to what you just described. I think the Air Force looked pretty good, I mean they scored a 416.4, so roughly three points behind Cal. So they weren’t actually that bad this year. There are so military teams that will score in the upper 300’s, so they’re farther behind the mid-level teams. But the Air Force, I watched them on rings and they definitely looked pretty strong, no scary dismounts, so overall I was impressed with them. But yeah, still not at Oklahoma’s level.
JESSICA: Well I guess they do train in the mountains with no air, so anywhere else they go is probably super easy for them.
UNCLE TIM: Well, they were competing at the Air Force.
JESSICA: Oh! Well, there you go! So…
UNCLE TIM: They had home field advantage.
JESSICA: Okay, so what about Big Ten Championships?
UNCLE TIM: So the Big Ten Championships were won by Michigan, which is a bit of an upset, Penn State was the favorite going in. Michigan won by more or less four points. The surprise for me was actually Minnesota, who came in third with a 430.350.
UNCLE TIM: And I was not expecting Minnesota to do so well, so that was a bit of a surprise in terms of the team competition.
JESSICA: So how did everyone’s favorite Olympian do?
UNCLE TIM: Oh, Sam Mikulak. He did pretty well, he won the all-around with an 89.950. And he has definitely taken to a Paul Ruggeri kind of landing situation, trying to protect those ankles as much as possible, doing a lot of front landings. And then kind of the up-and-comer Adrian De Los Angeles finished 2nd with an 87.350. But you’re favorite, Jess, is the guy who really stole the show.
JESSICA: Yes! Of course he did! Of course he did! He’s gonna steal the show at World Championships, too! Mm!
UNCLE TIM: Well first he has to make the National Team but…
JESSICA: He will. They’re gonna put him on anyway, just for floor.
UNCLE TIM: So Stacey Ervin, during the Team Finals, did a handspring double front and stuck it. We’re not talking like, Florida stick and still get a 10.0 after you shuffle, it’s not like Alaina Johnson or Ashanee Dickerson. This was a legit stick, it was pretty impressive. And during event finals, Jess you’d be happy to know, that he also stuck the crap out of his Tamayo.
JESSICA: Yes! A real Tamayo as we discussed previously.
UNCLE TIM: Yes, and he also upgraded his dismount. He used to do a tucked Arabian double front and now he’s doing it in the piked position.
JESSICA: He’s the best!
UNCLE TIM: He is quite great, but Eddie Penev of Stanford did outscore him. Even though they were in indirect competition, so it’s hard to compare scores.
UNCLE TIM: But, Stacey got a 15.8 and Eddie scored a 15.95.
JESSICA: There was probably a Bulgarian judge there and that’s why.
JESSICA: Doesn’t Eddie compete for Bulgaria? Isn’t he Bulgarian?
UNCLE TIM: He used to, now he competes for the United States and is part of the National Team.
JESSICA: Why did he outscore Stacey, I don’t understand that? Difficulty higher? Why? Explain this to me.
UNCLE TIM: I’d have to look up Eddie’s difficulty score, but…
JESSICA: The only thing with Stacey Ervin is I have to say when I think of him and Legendre and this field of insane tumblers, he doesn’t do a lot of super bonus Japanese-style code whoring. And I only say code whoring like, you know how to work it, not code whoring like ugly code whoring, like you don’t deserve it. He doesn’t do a lot of that stuff, like he has incredible and super difficult tumbling but he doesn’t do all the combinations like the Japanese do. But he can stick everything unlike Legendre, so I think maybe he needs to do a double Arabian step out into a double Arabian pike.
UNCLE TIM: Wait, what?
UNCLE TIM: For the guys? For the guys you wouldn’t get any bonus for that. That’s a women’s connection.
JESSICA: Oh well, that’s stupid. It should get connection.
UNCLE TIM: It would have to be like…
JESSICA: A twisty thing?
UNCLE TIM: A double Arabian into an immediate punch double front. That would give you two tenths extra bonus.
JESSICA: Oh, he can do that.
UNCLE TIM: Well, maybe you should make up his routine for him.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I’m going to suggest it to him on Twitter tomorrow.
UNCLE TIM: Ha-ha, okay. Looking up Eddie’s floor score though, he has a 6.7 on floor I think.
JESSICA: Damn! That’s like, huge!
UNCLE TIM: Yeah, he has a 6.7, if I’m reading that correctly. Although he had a pretty low execution – oh wait. The execution scores are quite different, Judge 1 gave him like an 8 something and Judge 2 gave him like a 9.4.
JESSICA: Conspiracy! What did I tell you? Bulgarians. Called it.
JESSICA: Listener feedback, what do we have?
UNCLE TIM: So the international listener shout out of the week goes to Gaar Adams who is in Abu Dhabi, that is a real place in the United Arab Emirates. A lot of his work revolves around Yemen; he’s a writer and a photographer. In particular we would recommend his article titled “Pommel Horses and Protesters”, which has to do with gymnastics in Yemen, and in particular Nashwan al-Harazi.
JESSICA: I was really excited when I saw that he was following us, because I totally recognize his name from NPR, and I was like wait, what? And then I saw on his Twitter handle that he is into gymnastics and I was like, oh my god! I was very excited about that, so thank you for following us, Gaar!
UNCLE TIM: And Jess, what is out gymnerd challenge?
JESSICA: So for April we want you guys to make a gymnastics meme. So make a little picture, any kind of picture photograph, with a gymnastics related message or quote, it could be the ‘Grumpy Cat’ of gymnastics. And I wanted to tell you guys what some good apps for this are, because not all of us are super editors and have Photoshop. I use PixPlay Pro, and it has lots of effects and it’s super easy to use. Another thing that’s really handy is Square Ready for Instagram. Basically, you know, everything on Instagram has to be a square, you can’t put a regular sized picture up, so this will take a picture that you have and make it into a square, so it’s super handy. You guys should check out those two apps and make a meme and send them to us! We especially love getting all of the pictures this past weekend of everybody with their set ups of twelve different computers, iPads, and TV screens in the background of how you guys are watching those. So send us more of those.
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.
JESSICA: That’s going to do it for us this week. Next week we have UCLA’s Danusia Francis and Vanessa Zamarripa on the show. We’re so excited to talk to them. Remember you can send us your feedback, questions, send us requests, anything, we love hearing from you and we read every one of your emails, at GymCastic@gmail.com. You can call us, just call us, call into the show 415-800-3191 or Skype username GymCasticPodcast. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, tumblr, and Google+. And remember you can find a transcript of every single one of our shows, thanks to our awesome, awesome transcription team. We love you guys, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, on our website. And you can also follow along with the show by going to the site and looking at the videos that we post for you. Remember that you can support the show by recommending us to a friend. Tell somebody, “Hey I found this podcast and it’s all about gymnastics, I’ve been waiting my whole life for this!” You can also rate us on iTunes, you guys we have so many ratings on iTunes now! Oh, it’s so exciting! So thank you everybody who has been rating us. And of course you can download the Stitcher app, and that also supports the show. And of course, give a shout out to our sponsors; we could not do the show without them. And you guys asked for another way to support the show, so you can now donate. And I still can’t believe that we get donations every single week, you guys are incredible and amazing, thank you a million times. I’m bowing to the computer screen right now, this is my way of saying thank you to all of you for your donations, it’s incredible, thank you so much. For Masters-Gymnastics.com, I’m Jessica O’Beirne.
BLYTHE: Blythe, from the Gymnastics Examiner.
UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim, from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: And we’ll see you next week!