VANESSA: Well I ain’t gonna lie, it’s kind of hurting. However, you know, I’m gonna fight for my team because that’s what you do when you’re a teammate.
JESSICA: This week, European Championships preview, NCAA Regionals and the NCAA Championships preview, and a chat with UCLA’s Danusia Francis and Vanessa Zamarripa.
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 29 for April 15, 2013. I’m Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner
SPANNY: Spanny Tampson for Spanny’s Big Fake Smile
UNCLE TIM: Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
LAUREN: Hi, I’m Lauren from TheCouchGymnast.com
JESSICA: This is the world-famous and only gymnastics podcast ever, starting with the top news from around the gymternet. Blythe, what’s happening this week?
BLYTHE: Well the European Championships are what’s happening this week. They’re going on in Moscow, and they are all of the rage and what all of the excitement is about?
JESSICA: So what kind of great matchups are we going to see? Like Ruby Harrold vs. Mustafina on bars, what can we look forward to?
BLYTHE: Oh yeah, there’s a lot to look forward to. Certainly the British on bars, and not just Ruby Harrold. I am in love with Gabby Jupp, the new sort of ingénue on the British scene. She is a new senior this year, she is a beautiful, beautiful all-around gymnast. And she swings bars to me like Elise Ray, you know that same kind of crispness, and just that really unique polish and poise.
BLYTHE: And of course you’ve got Ruby Harrold, who’s got those awesome kind of old school transitions. So even without Beth Tweddle it will be a very interesting match-up, at least on that event.
JESSICA: Do you think anybody can take Mustafina’s crown away from her?
BLYTHE: I mean I never say never. You know, she could make a mistake, but she doesn’t make a mistake that often. And again it will probably come down to a question of start values. There’s a lot of gymnasts in Europe that have absolutely fabulous polish, not only the people we mentioned, but other people as well. It will be really hard to say. I think Mustafina has a very solid routine and she’s been hitting it and hitting it, and so I really think it is her to lose. But you never know.
JESSICA: What match-up are you most looking forward to seeing?
BLYTHE: Oh, that’s too hard! I think the consensus is the all-around is going to be a battle between Mustafina and Larisa Iordache. And I’m very interested to see Iordache do four events, and see what she can put together. She’s got a sterling new beam routine that’s very exciting, with those two full twists in it. As far as we know, nobody else has done a routine with two full twists. And so that will be interesting. But again Mustafina is kind of the queen bee right now, she’s got a lot of presence, she’s got the wind at her back, and so we’ll really see.
JESSICA: So who’s missing from Europeans? Are there any past champions who are injured or out right now and won’t be able to defend their titles?
BLYTHE: Well, the reigning World Champion on uneven bars is Viktoria Komova, and if she were ready and she were healthy, she would be certainly one to look for in the all-around. And you could even sort of anticipate a Komova/Iordache/Mustafina maybe even Anastasia Grishina match-up to fight for the all-around, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen. Komova’s senior career up to this point, and I hope that it runs at least another four years, it’s been a little bit marked by injuries and having to take time and rehab, and not being at her best for the really big events and that’s just very unfortunate.
JESSICA: Komova is still out with a back injury, is that right?
BLYTHE: Yes, she is taking the European Championships off to rest a sore back, at least that’s what we know. And it’s the European Championships the year after the Olympic Games, so it’s not the most important competition. But even sometimes when that’s the case, you know it’s not the most important competition, there’s nothing really at stake here, you get really beautiful gymnastics out of that.
BLYTHE: You look at the years after the Olympic Games, often the World Championships have the most memorable and artistic and lovely performances. And I think that this year we’ll be seeing that as well, at Europeans and at Worlds.
JESSICA: And I want to remind you guys that The Couch Gymnast is already there, already covering podium training, she’s already posted a couple of quick little interviews. So follow her as well as, of course, Blythe on the Gymnastics Examiner for more updates. Blythe, you also have to news about Jordyn Wieber this week.
BLYTHE: Yeah, it doesn’t come from me actually, it comes from Gymnastike. But they were in the gym with Jordyn Wieber and John Geddert and the big news is that Jordyn looks like she’s at her pre-Olympic level, as far as skills are concerned. And that maybe comes as a surprise to many, when you are sort of the big, hot thing going into the Olympic Games, often times afterwards you take a lull, or you maybe let some of your skills go. But Jordyn has had all of the opportunities that the Fierce Five have had, but she’s elected to go back to the gym and quietly start training. It appears that she is injury free, she back in shape, and so when you ask the question who’s the next Jordyn Wieber, I think the answer might be well, Jordyn Wieber is the next Jordyn Wieber. And wouldn’t that be interesting, and rather unexpected. But wouldn’t that be interesting?
JESSICA: I watched that video and I was like, dang. Like she looks great, she did her double-double with room to spare.
BLYTHE: That was a great double-double, wasn’t it?
JESSICA: Yeah, beautiful! Beautiful form, looks so lofty, flighty, amplitude-y, and easy for her. And you know she’s only been back full time training for not even a full four months. It just goes to show some people are just inhuman; they’re just those special magnificent genes that just are incredible athletes. But I wonder if, has anyone been – no, Khorkina, right? World Champion, lost at the Olympics, then came back to win another World Championship, is Khorkina the only one that’s done that?
BLYTHE: Yeah. Khorkina was World Champion is 97 and then in 2000 there was the sort of grand catastrophe that was the 2000 Olympics, and then in 2001 she was World Champion again. And to me, I very much love Svetlana Khorkina, and her 2001 season as well as her 1997 season, I thought that those were her two best years.
BLYTHE: You talk about beautiful gymnastics and people being at the top of their game the year after the Olympics, and I always thought that she was the best example of that. So Khorkina sort of stands as the person who comes to mind as far as being World Champion and then losing the Olympics – I hate to say losing the Olympics…
JESSICA: Losing, yes. Was robbed by an equipment failure.
BLYTHE: Yeah, but was unforeseen circumstances.
JESSICA: I hope she comes back. It would be great for the sport. It would be great for American gymnastics, too.
BLYTHE: It would be definitely. But I think it would be good for Jordyn.
BLYTHE: Nobody’s talked to her very much in-depth about sort of, how do you live that? You are the one who all the pressure is on, and think back to that qualification to the all-around in London, and she totally did her job, and she should have had the all-around final. But you know, it’s a pesky rule and we’re not here to rant and rave about it really. But she did everything that she could have done, basically, and then to sort of have it end that way.
JESSICA: Yeah, she’s not Kim Zmeskal, she didn’t fall. She did a great job. She was fourth all-around right?
BLYTHE: She was.
JESSICA: And did not make it. I mean yeah, it’s a totally different scenario. I mean she had a fantastic meet and didn’t get the chance. So Uncle Tim, what’s new on the gymternet this week?
UNCLE TIM: Well to start, Blythe found a little video of Kohei Uchimura, it’s an older video, but it’s a video of him doing a Kovacs, to a Kolman, to a Kolman. So that’s a double back over the bar, into a full twisting double back over the bar, into another full twisting double back over the bar. What did you think when you saw that video, Jess?
JESSICA: At first I was just like, oh my god. And then I was like, wait is this real? And then I watched it like four times. And I think it is, and I also think it’s old enough that someone would have pointed out that it’s totally fake, or if it’s not I’m sure one of our listeners will point it out. But I mean it’s Kohei, it’s probably real and it’s amazing. And I thought he was going to land on top of the bar on the third release, but then he catches perfectly. Like the kind of catch where it’s so perfect that the bar barely moves. It’s just [SIGHS] he’s just a god.
UNCLE TIM: He is. And I’m excited to see Worlds, because it sounds like a bunch of men are training crazy release moves into crazy release moves. So it will be an exciting high bar final in… October I guess, right?
UNCLE TIM: On top of that we have Gymnastike’s Beyond the Routine. It has returned and it’s now featuring UCLA. The first episode is pretty exciting, they’re talking about how they’re going to run an intrasquad, and why they’re going to give stickers to the girls instead of actual scores, which I thought was interesting, because as someone who has worked with college students and undergrad and stuff, they’re not usually motivated by stickers. [LAUGHS] But, I guess if it works for your gymnastics team, it works for your gymnastics team. Yeah, it’s exciting and it’s up on Gymnastike, but you also have to have Gymnastike Gold in order to be able to watch it.
JESSICA: I’m glad this series is back, because I was like, what’s up, I paid for this there better be another series. And it’s very entertaining, let me tell you. Those coaches in that gym are very entertaining.
UNCLE TIM: There are also some podcasts that we haven’t mentioned on the show yet. On our show we primarily focus on artistic gymnastics, but there’s a podcast for the trampoline fans. It’s run by Leigh Robson of the TrampPundit, and it’s called TrampCast, and right now it seems to be a kind of short show that runs about ten minutes and comes out once a month. But yeah, we look forward to hearing more from the TrampCast. And finally many gymnastics fans are also skating fans, while I’m not personally a skating fan I do find The Skating Lesson with Dave Lease and Jenny Kirk to be pretty interesting, they do a lot of really in-depth interviews. So if you want to check them out you should. They’re available on iTunes and YouTube, and at TheSkatingLesson.com
JESSICA: Speaking of skating, I watched the replay of the Progressive Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular, which is one of those things that gymnastics fans love to hate. But I have to say the thing about this — the reason I make sure I watch this is because we always complain that there isn’t enough gymnastics on TV, and if you want to see gymnastics on TV you have to let the sponsors who pay for these shows know that it’s worth their time to pay for something like this. And that means that when you tune-in that is your vote for a show like this to happen, and for more gymnastics to happen. So I always make sure that I watch it. It’s interesting always to me that the men always so much hard gymnastics than the women do, and I just hope they get paid more. I’m sure that’s not the case, but I hope they get paid more because that’s how it should work. It should be for this many flips and for a full twisting flip you get this much and for… Jordyn was pretty amazing on beam, she just did a really nice, clean little routine, but still no hard gymnastics, just like a back tuck. I think Ponor has absolutely set the standard for what show gymnastics should be like. We saw that exhibition routine she did where she a full twisting back handspring and she did her series on beam; I mean she really did everything. Then again, I think Ponor gets paid bank when she does these kinds of things, so perhaps more money will equal more difficult gymnastics. I mean that’s how it should be; it should be worth your while to really do hard moves. And I think that would be more exciting for people to watch as well.
UNCLE TIM: And I think this past year was a step up from previous years, at least in terms of the names they brought in. They brought it a lot of the Olympians, in past years it was former NCAA champs. Which we at GymCastic love, but in terms of the general population it probably doesn’t attract such a wide audience, although it’s always fun to see Courtney Kupets doing double pikes when she’s retired.
JESSICA: I agree.
BLYTHE: This week’s interview with Vanessa and Danusia is brought to you buy Tumbl Trak. Let me tell you, child or adult gymnast, a Tumbl Trak is basically indispensable for your gym. Coaches love it, gymnasts love it, and I can attest as someone who practices adult gymnastics that I love the equipment and it allows me to work some of the things I was working 15 years ago on my very old body, yet without feeling like I’m putting anything at risk. I’d recommend their products to anybody. You can find inspiration for your classes at TumblTrak.com. That’s TumblTrak.com.
JESSICA: We’re so happy to have Danusia Francis and Vanessa Zamarripa here joining us today. I want to tell you that they both had bad colds and were semi-delirious during this interview, so we thank them for toughing it out with us with their deep cold voices. Let me tell you about Vanessa to start with. She is from O’Fallon, Illinois; she’s one of the most successful JO gymnasts of all time, winning nine level ten individual national titles between 2003 and 2007. In 2010 she led the Bruins to a National Championship and won the vault with a final average score of 9.925, she’s also scored a 10 a whole bunch of times in NCAA. Then over the summer after her 2010 win with the team, she earned a spot on the U.S. National Team after placing eighth in the all-around at the Visa Championships and second on vault, becoming the first U.S. woman ever to do the Cheng vault. In this interview Zam talks about her coach Jim Foody. He was a member of the U.S. National team and UCLA graduate, and was a member of the coaching staff at UCLA when Zam made her push to qualify elite. And when she talked about him and Florida, she’s talking about him taking her to her first elite qualifier in Florida. Now, just as she did as a freshman, she’s finished the regular season ranked number one in the all-around, and is poised to catch the all-around title. Known for her unicorn like fluidity and effortless style, she’s also a big goofball and you’ll hear that a little bit in this interview.
JESSICA: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today!
VANESSA: Yeah, of course. No problem!
JESSICA: So how is your tootsie feeling after your little crash on beam at Regionals?
VANESSA: My little mishap?
VANESSA: Well I ain’t gonna lie, it’s kind of hurting. However, you know, I’m gonna fight for my team because that’s what you do when you’re a teammate. I think it’s kind of exciting because I’ve always admired Kerri Strug, so I feel like I’m kind of walking in the footsteps of her pain. Different story, different – you know obviously hers is much worse because she broke it. Mine’s not broken, but it is quite painful, however.
SPANNY: I think we all pretend to do that, at some point. I know I did when I was younger, I’d be like, “I’m Kerri Strug!” That’s interesting; you actually do get to live it out a little bit.
VANESSA: I was telling my teammates, just call me Kerri Strug and we’re good.
JESSICA: Well you kind of already pulled a Kerri Strug because you limped over to the floor and then hit your routine at Regionals, you solidified your place.
VANESSA: I was like, we have to qualify! Like if that’s what it takes, for me to go in, I’m in. So I did it.
JESSICA: What happened in your dismount? [inaudible]
VANESSA: I guess I can’t say I went crooked because that’s obvious. Yeah, my foot just slipped on the punch of my dismount. And I think I was all the way around, so I was hoping I would at least get value for the skill…Maybe you should cut that out.
JESSICA: I seriously was like, dang! I would just be like, please let me live! And you’re like, I hope I can make it around so I get value for my dismount. That’s badass!
VANESSA: See, if I just tucked my knees I think I could’ve made it all the way around on my feet, but actually I don’t really know. But anyways, back to your question. Yeah, on the punch of my round off my foot slipped. And I think my right foot suffered more pain than my left, however I was still able to compete floor afterwards just fine.
JESSICA: And you killed it!
SPANNY: Yeah and so clutch.
JESSICA: Yeah, totally clutch. That should be your middle name – actually it should be Kerri Clutch Strug
JESSICA: For those of you who only know you from UCLA, will you tell us about your illustrious level ten, or JO career? You won two national titles, or three? You won a lot. Tell us about that year before you started at UCLA.
VANESSA: Oh okay, club. I actually won the all-around three times at JO Nationals. I won at least one on each event, other events maybe three times. Yeah I mean, I can’t believe how different of an atmosphere it was in club compared to college. College is definitely more team oriented, which is really cool. But yeah, I guess I accomplished quite a few things in club, in the JO level, but I never quite went the elite level when I was in club.
JESSICA: So did you ever think about turning elite?
VANESSA: Yeah, I mean I did. I guess I did go to the American Challenge or whatever. I think it was a pre-elite meet, I’m not really sure. I don’t really know what that means, pre-elite. But I did it anyways and I did well. And I remember Marta being there and handing out the awards to me and stuff. I think she liked me, I’m not sure. But she smiled at me, so I think that’s a sign. [LAUGHS] I think I had a rather decent club career, but I felt like I wasn’t really recruited that hard.
SPANNY: It’s interesting, club kids are doing better I feel like, in the NCAA right now, and especially in comparison to the elites. I think that maybe they will recruit club kids more aggressively now, probably because of you, and because of other…
VANESSA: I hope so. You know, give the girls a chance, don’t overlook them. Because you never know, you might find a diamond in the rough.
JESSICA: As Spanny has said, you’re like one of those ninja level 10s.
VANESSA: Oh, well I think also because club kids who don’t go elite are a little bit more healthier because they’re not as beaten down. But then again everyone’s different, everyone has a different experience. Thanks for calling me a ninja, I appreciate it.
JESSICA: So let me ask you about in 2010 you qualified at the U.S. National Championships for the Elite National Team, and you totally kicked ass by doing a Cheng, which is the Yurchenko half on, one and a half off.
VANESSA: Thank you.
JESSICA: You’re welcome. It was beautiful, stunning. So tell us about the process of competing at Elite Nationals, what was it like?
VANESSA: Even the qualifiers, too?
JESSICA: Yeah, everything.
VANESSA: Okay. I went to Florida; I went there with Foody, Jim Foody.
VANESSA: I know! Good guy.
JESSICA: Can you tell people a little bit about your relationship with Foody, because you harassed him like he was your little brother when he was your coach.
VANESSA: Harass is a strong word. [LAUGHS] I would say, you know, I was like the shell on a turtle. I just wouldn’t really get off of his back. I can see how that would be overwhelming, sorry Foody! But I think for the most part we got along! [LAUGHS] My goal ultimately was to make his face turn red every day, that’s why.
JESSICA: Yeah for anyone who hasn’t met Foody, he’s one of those white guys who’s so white and so Chicago Irish boy that if you just say hi to him, he turns bright red. I mean bright pink!
VANESSA: And it’s so funny! I probably shouldn’t, but I thought it was funny it was so easy to make him turn red. Yeah, so I went to the qualifiers with Foody, he actually taped my ankles. He’s not an athletic trainer, but he did a really good job, so good job Foody! Bi-talented! Let’s see I only did a half on, lay out half for my vault that day – oh, and by the way, during the qualifier my legs were so sore I could barely walk normal, and I still qualified! I was like wow, if I can do that I can do really well if my legs are fresh, because they definitely weren’t that day. People say like, oh you make it look so easy! So that’s a good thing. After I qualified I was really, really excited. I went to Chicago for the Classic and that was fun. Definitely a different atmosphere, but I still had a good time with the girls there and my coaches. When I went to Championships, actually before Championships, I had been training my Cheng vault for quite some time. I mean not too long because, I don’t know, I just feel like it wasn’t…I had no idea that not many people in the world did that vault so when I did it I was like, oh it’s not that bad! And then they told me and I was like, what really? So I thought it was really cool, and it wasn’t too hard for me. So that was cool.
JESSICA: Did Val tell you that Chinese reporters were calling and wanted details about you learning it and everything, did you know that at the time?
VANESSA: Oh yeah, she told me that they called, and I guess they we were wondering how long it took for me to learn it. I guess they asked if it was hard or something and Miss Val was like, no actually she said it’s pretty easy.
VANESSA: I thought it was pretty funny. Because I had no idea that the vault was that difficult, like in terms of the value of it.
JESSICA: Yeah, how was it competing on podium and being on TV and all that stuff, was it any different that an NCAA meet?
VANESSA: Well, I feel like college has prepped me for competing in the elite scene because Pac-12s are televised and so are Nationals, and there are a couple of meets throughout the season that are televised as well. So you know there’s always a camera or something in front of my face, you know how it is?
VANESSA: They get all up in your face, all that. So when I got to Nationals I didn’t feel all that different. I guess the only difference was that I didn’t have my team there. But other than that, like the setup and the mentality I had to have while competing was still the same.
JESSICA: You have been now at UCLA for about five years, right? You redshirted after your Achilles tear?
JESSICA: So which season is your most favorite season of all your seasons at UCLA and why?
VANESSA: That’s hard. I guess I have to say the year we won, just because it wasn’t like we were worried if someone was going to hit or not, it was just pure enjoyment of the sport that day. Like the goal wasn’t like, oh we gotta hit. The goal was to have fun basically, because we put in so much work and obviously we let that work shine at the meet, and we didn’t over think at all, and everything worked out as planned. So that’s why Nationals is just so much fun. I mean this year has been pretty fun, too. We’ve encountered so many struggles this year. I mean personally, I like challenges so this year has definitely – I think there has been a lot more challenges this year, and I think it’s made the season more interesting in a way. And I think it’s really cool to see a group of people overcome so many different challenges. I just feel like it’s more than just gymnastics, its learning life lessons in the gym and being able to take those life lessons to help aid you for the rest of your life.
VANESSA: And so even though there are times that we didn’t win, it’s during those days, the difficult days, that we learned a lot about ourselves and what you’re capable of. Like, you don’t realize how strong you have to be when that’s your only choice. I think it’s really cool to be tested in so many different ways this year compared to other years, like mentally and physically.
JESSICA: So you have your biggest challenge maybe coming up in two weeks. So you have NCAAs at home. What are your goals for yourself at NCAAs?
VANESSA: My goal is do my absolute best. As long as I know that I did my best, the score doesn’t matter. Because it’s such a subjective sport. There are times where I did a really good routine and you know a judge gave me a 9.75 but the other gave me a 9.95. Or this one time at Nationals one judge gave me a 10.0 for my bar routine and the other one gave me a 9.85. So I don’t want to base my happiness on the score I get.
JESSICA: Tell us about your plans for after graduation. Do you think you’ll be training elite again?
VANESSA: I want to see how my body feels after Nationals and see if that’s really what I want to do. It has crossed my mind. Like there are some skills that I’ve never tried that I kind of just want to try.
JESSICA: Like what? Tell us! Like Yurchenko double back?
VANESSA: [LAUGHS] Half on…
JESSICA: Just throwing it out there!
VANESSA: Half on layout double full. What do you think that would be worth if I did a half on front double full?
JESSICA: I think that would be Amanar level at least, which puts you in the top most difficult vaults ever. And yours would have no deductions because your form is perfect. So basically you would be guaranteed a spot on the team. That’s all I’m saying.
VANESSA: I kind of just want to…
JESSICA: Play for a little while?
VANESSA: work on skills I’ve never really… yeah. But then again I want to see how my body feels after Nationals.
JESSICA: Would you ever consider doing stunt work like other NCAA greats have done? Like Heidi Moneymaker or [inaudible] or Jenny Hansen?
VANESSA: Yeah actually I talked to Heidi and she gave me- she’s really helpful in the whole process.
VANESSA: And she gave me basically a little checklist of what I need to do. So that’s definitely what I’m interested in doing is stunts for a while. And also I think eventually I want to be a nurse, but that would be after I’m done stunting.
JESSICA: I’m going to hand you over to Spanny real quick, and she has a couple questions from Twitter for you.
SPANNY: The one that a lot of people asked: are you still training the Cheng at all?
SPANNY: Yeah. Hardcore fans, they want to know. They’re like, “She’s going to throw it at event finals!” And other people are like, “There’s no way!” And so.
VANESSA: Maybe I want to keep it a surprise! Kidding. I mean I have done it at some point this season.
SPANNY: And along those lines, do you have any TOP SECRET UPGRADES planned for NCAA event finals?
VANESSA: Ok well I must say the chances of me doing that during event finals – you know I have to qualify first – would be pretty low. Because you can’t do a second vault anymore, it’s just based on one vault.
SPANNY: For qualifying?
VANESSA: For event finals on vault.
SPANNY: What? I don’t get that. It’s just one vault for event finals now?
VANESSA: Yeah they changed it. So all I need is one vault. I mean I might upgrade my dismount. Kidding, bad joke.
SPANNY: Oh! [LAUGHS] Oh I get it! Sorry I’m so slow! We can [inaudible]. It’s weird because I know watching from home we couldn’t see the dismount. Like the way they had the camera set was stationary so it just looked like you vaulted off out of frame.
VANESSA: It’s funny. Yeah it’s funny because my mom was there and she didn’t know I fell.
SPANNY: I don’t think any…
VANESSA: She was like, “Oh I didn’t even see it!”
SPANNY: Yeah all the sudden people were like, “Oh she’s limping. She’s limping!” Then everybody freaked out. So we’ll just make up something. We’ll be like, “Yeah she did a triple back.” Everybody’s saying the evening session is going to be like a hundred million times harder than the afternoon session. What do you think about that?
VANESSA: Yeah I mean it’s all based on your perception, how you look at your competition. Championships season, anything can happen. There was a couple upsets during the weekend of Regionals. And it’s just like, wow you didn’t- you wouldn’t expect that. I feel like that’s why I’m excited for prelims because anything can happen and it’s going to be really fun.
JESSICA: Dausia Francis. You may know her as Spanny’s beam love affair. She- we’ll talk to her next. And she was an alternate for Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic team. She also got to perform exhibition routines at the Olympics and she’ll talk a little bit about that. She competed at the 2011 World Championships and helped Great Britain achieve it’s best ever 5th place finish at Worlds and also helped the team qualify for the 2012 Olympics. She is the beam champion and all-around runner-up at the 2012 British Championships. She finished 16th in the all-around at the 2011 European Championships. She won both beam and floor titles and was third in the all-around at 2010 British Championships. And basically she is known for her incredible artistry and lines. She has beautiful style, beautiful extensions, and she’ll talk about the good parts and the curses of being so flexible in this interview. So, here comes Danusia. Let’s start. So first for our listeners who don’t know about your awesomeness, can you just tell them where you’re from, your country, your gym, your coaches, that kind of thing?
DANUSIA: Yes. I am from England, and I actually live in the middle of England. I went to boarding school at the age of nine in London, and I train at Heathrow Gymnastics Club. And my coaches in England are Vince and Michelle Walduck and Natalia Ilienko.
JESSICA: So boarding school for us being Americans, we’re totally like, “Boarding school, that’s crazy! Only princes go to boarding school.” But this is not that uncommon right? Are you secretly royalty?
DANUSIA: I mean… [LAUGHS] just kidding. But I think it’s like a stereotype obviously. But my first boarding school when I was nine was kind of like what you’d see in the movies. And was like a little bit strict and built like a castle. But we actually had the most fun and I went there on a gymnastics scholarship. And then that school actually became bankrupt and closed down when I was 15, so I had to find another school. And it was all drama. And obviously because it’s really expensive we were looking to get the same scholarship. And part of the scholarship is that you have to compete for the school’s gymnastics team. So one school head hunted our gymnastics team and offered us all the same scholarship. But it actually wasn’t a boarding school. So they bought a house next to the school, and five of us who boarded at St. David’s, my first school, lived in this house. And so that was really family type of environment, so completely not your conventional boarding school.
JESSICA: Wow! Ok wait so first of all you basically did go to Hogwarts because you went to…
DANUSIA: [LAUGHS] Yep
JESSICA: …a sports Hogwarts, then you got recruited out of high school and then you got to live in a house. This is the coolest thing I have ever heard. Ok so wait. You said it was like a castle, can you back up and tell- like did it have a moat? Where there tourists?
JESSICA: Tell us [inaudible]
DANUSIA: Well I was nine when I first went there so that was kind of like when Harry Potter was a really big deal and it was, I don’t know if it was new at that time but it was a big deal for sure. And I remember driving up and my school that I went to before that was a small average school, and obviously being so young it was just like, a primary school which we call it in England. And then I arrive and there’s these automatic gates, huge black things, and driving down this stone driveway it’s so long. And then the door is like a huge wooden arch door with a massive metal circular knocker, and you press on this gold keypad thing and they’re like, “Hello, who is this?” kind of thing. And then the door’s so heavy and it’s got a massive field and a massive lake, and really big beautiful grounds. And then the inside has a grandfather clock, do you know what that is?
JESSICA: Yes! Oh my God I want to live here already
DANUSIA: [LAUGHS] And then it has like- it’s all decorated like how you would imagine a castle with big photo frames. And it had all the old girls of the school so there were black and white photos from such a long time ago. And then stairs were like huge stone stairs like the Harry Potter ones that moved, but obviously ours didn’t move. Well they probably did but they never moved when I was on them.
DANUSIA: And the boarding house was a bit more modern and that was at the top of the school. Just like 30 people boarded out of the whole school. So it’s not like- I think most people imagine that everyone that goes to the school lived there. But it was just like 30 people. But then the second…
JESSICA: Oh my gosh
DANUSIA: …school there was just five of us.
JESSICA: That sounds so cool. I just want to ask about living- like coming from England living here because you came from a country where you were fully an adult so you could drive, you could drink, you could vote, you had all of your rights. And now you live in a country where we get our rights at different times. Like first you can drive, and then you can vote, and then you can drink. So how has that adjustment been in terms of living your regular life here?
DANUSIA: Yeah I definitely felt a bit homesick and I really got really really homesick at one point and I was quite upset. And it was definitely a lot of missing family and friends, but also the rules are so different and I had a lot of freedom. So kind of having such a scheduled life and not being able to do all the things I used to do kind of made me feel a bit trapped. But I got used to it and I know I can go back during summer and any other time I go back and go back to how it was. So it’s not like I’m trapped here forever and I just have to make sure I remind myself of that. But when I say that I don’t mean I’m having a bad time at all, like I hate it or something. It’s just something you really have to adjust to. Especially all summer long I was having a lot of fun, going out, clubbing, all of that stuff. Which is obviously completely legal but here’s is completely illegal [LAUGHS]. That was a big difference, especially from summer where I was so relaxed and so free. Then to come back to school and training and not being able to do what I wanted on the weekends. Obviously normally I would’ve gone back to school where I would’ve had a schedule and training again, but it’s just that added part that I think just made me feel a bit homesick. But I’m definitely a bit better now.
SPANNY: Yeah so our first question is how does the UCLA family compare to being a “Heathrow Honey?” And I’m going to add a question, what is a “Heathrow Honey?”
DANUSIA: So Heathrow Honey is just what we called ourselves at our gym because my gym was called Heathrow and we just called ourselves the Heathrow Honeys. And it’s very different in that I was obviously the oldest. Well I wasn’t always the oldest but especially my last year I was the oldest one, so that’s different and now I’m one of the youngest. And I think at Heathrow we obviously all had jokes and stuff that we would take with us. And our gym was always known as quite relaxed and we were always the loudest ones when we went away. But at UCLA there’s such a team atmosphere. And that’s drilled into you from day one. And so it’s like everyone becomes- you really learn everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and how to adapt to different people in different situations. And it’s just you know people on a deeper level I think, because we all travel every time and we all do everything together. So at Heathrow I’d be with one girl or maybe I would just be the only one on the Great Britain team at competition so you don’t always get to see everyone’s different side. And I would say I was more really good friends with a few girls, whereas here everyone is one big friendship group. Everyone obviously hangs out more with certain people, but it’s just kind of more of a family kind of orientated vibe, if that makes sense.
SPANNY: Yeah definitely. And I think just LA in itself kind of has that vibe to it. Are you enjoying it our there then? I mean obviously it’s different than living in England. But I imagine…
DANUSIA: Yeah sure. The weather obviously is a big bonus compared to England, which I believe it was still snowing just a couple weeks ago. So I’m glad to be missing the snow in England. And just I thought everyone was so friendly here. Especially on my first week, I have a really bad sense of direction and I couldn’t find my way to any of my classes, and people would show me. They would walk me from wherever I was when I asked them for help, they would walk me to my classroom and stuff. And I was like wow, people in England just give you a vague nod in the right direction.
DANUSIA: People in England are a bit more blunt. And people here are very willing to help which is really nice.
SPANNY: People would like to know about your recruitment sense you lived overseas, did you know anything- I suppose you know something, but how much about UCLA gymnastics did you know before you were recruited?
DANUSIA: So when my teammate from Heathrow Becky Wing went to Stanford, that kind of sparked my interest. And so I was just looking on the internet and on YouTube all the types of things that were involved in a scholarship in the states. And mainly the gymnastics side I would watch videos. And when I watched the floor routines from UCLA is what caught my interest. And I think it was especially a video of Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, I was like wow that girl can dance [LAUGHS]. And then that led me to looking at all of them and I was like wow these floor routines- they just really stood out to me. And I was like, “If I go to America and go to university I want to go to UCLA.” And my mom was like, “Ok are you willing to consider any other ones?” And I was like, “Nope, only UCLA.” I was like adamant about it. I knew it was such a big choice that I would really have to want it. So I wouldn’t just settle for anywhere. It would have to be UCLA or nothing. And then the opportunity actually arose obviously I came out for my recruit trip. And Miss Val also came to England and spent a few days with my family and then at my gym. Then I came here for my recruit trip and had the best time. Everyone was so friendly. I just remember everyone imitating my accent. And the girls took me out and went to Hollywood and other places. And on my recruit trip we also saw Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas.
SPANNY: Aw fun
DANUSIA: So that was pretty cool. So I had a really great time and I was like, “Yep, I was meant to go to UCLA, mom.” And that was it really.
SPANNY: That’s insane, I would’ve just assumed that Miss Val had been chasing you for years. I imagine she was just salivating over your gymnastics…
SPANNY: ..because it seems like such a perfect fit.
DANUSIA: Thank you
SPANNY: Well yeah if you were the one being like, “I want to go there,” she probably was and still is thanking her lucky stars [LAUGHS]
DANUSIA: Yeah I think someone told her about me and then she saw videos I think from Europeans 2011 I want to say. So before we actually started talking it wasn’t even that long ago it was just like in 2011 and then I came last year.
SPANNY: Do you have any plans should you- I’m sure you will – make event finals on beam, are you going to compete your sideways aerial?
DANUSIA: Well it’s obviously a small thought of mine, event finals. But this being my first Nationals I’m just really ready to take it day by day.
DANUSIA: And just soak in the experience so that next year I know exactly what to expect. And me and Sophina being the two freshmen that are competing this year, we’ve been on this journey together and we’ve been counting down and just like- it’s really nice that obviously there’s four of us but mainly the two of us have been competing. So that’s been cool. But I think I’ll definitely take it day by day then see what the coaches say. But I would definitely try to upgrade a little bit if I was to make the finals. But I don’t know about the side aerial. But I guess it could either pay off or not.
DANUSIA: But I guess we’ll see
SPANNY: Was that a difficult skill to learn? I feel like that’s like a dream skill for a lot of people or that’s something they’ve always wanted to see. It seems impossible to me because I don’t- I can’t, you know, I’ve done them the normal way but I can’t imagine doing one and landing on the same spot. I just don’t have-
DANUSA: It’s strange. I don’t know why I have like a knack for doing strange skills. I just do weird skills because maybe because I’m flexible, I think that probably helps. I used to do the [inaudible] or I think some people call it the German on bars, and just small things like that. I just find them easy so it’s good to take advantage of that. But I definitely in my college career I would love to compete that at some point.
SPANNY: Well yeah. Love to see it. Let’s see, speaking of extreme flexibility, how do you protect yourself from injury giving that you do have this flexibility? Or do you do anything special kind of preventatively, I guess?
DANUSIA: Well normally being flexible I don’t realize when an injury is going to occur, so in the past once injury occurs I have to make sure I maintain rehab exercises for that joint. So before I had an injury which was my hamstring was coming off the bone kind of, so after that I had to rest obviously and maintain strength in that area. And if I ever feel the pain again, just a slight bit, then I have to rest it. And then with my shoulder too, that one recurs more than any other injury really. And it kind of slides out the joint and back in. Not all the way out that it would dislocate but slightly. So that actually happened at the start of the season. So if that happens I have to rest it again. And also I have rehab exercises I do quite often for that.
SPANNY: Everyone has seen this photo from Tokyo World Championships of you holding Viktoria Komova in your arms, what was that about? [LAUGHS]
DANUSIA: I actually think that was from Europeans in 2011. And [LAUGHS] so that were five of us and me and Hannah Whelan were one group and the other three were another group. And Liz Kincaid, one of the coaches, sent us a scavenger hunt. And there were weird questions and she’d planted clues and stuff around. And then you had to go and tick them all off. So you had to take a photo of you doing specific things. And that happened to be one of them, holding a Russian. And…
DANUSIA: …we happened to bump into Viktoria so I was like, “Can we hold you?” Like trying to get our language barrier smoothed over. And she understood me. And we’d obviously done competitions before so it wasn’t too awkward. And after that we became good friends. [LAUGHS]
SPANNY: Well yeah she seemed like she was a good sport about it and it’s a cute picture.
DANUSIA: Yeah she really was.
SPANNY: Ok you performed an exhibition at the Olympics with the other UK gymnasts. Can you tell us who performed with you, what events you did, and when this was done?
DANUSIA: So this was before each competition at the Olympics. And so before women’s events, all the women’s apparatus, and then in the event finals whatever event was being done that day. I was doing beam. And the other people that did it with me were Marissa King and then Lisa Mason, and the rest were actually from Cirque or other performing companies. And that was so much fun. And obviously I had a fractured wrist so I couldn’t have competed even if I was a reserve. So obviously I adapted the routine that I did so I didn’t use my wrist. And being able to have that opportunity to actually do my favorite event in the arena at the Olympics was amazing and it was such a good feeling. And it really was a blessing and I’m so thankful for that opportunity.
SPANNY: See if I can find some video of it to post for people. And I swear I said that was the last question but I’ve got one more because you reminded me of it when you mentioned Marissa King- so it’ll be you, Becky Wing, and Marissa King. Are you guys going to have like a reunion in LA? Are you going to show them around? Or is it just going to be like a big hug?
DANUSIA: Yeah I’ve been lucky enough to see Becky at [inaudible] and at PAC-12, so I’ve been seeing her on a monthly basis which has been really good. And Marissa, I haven’t seen her since we actually met up in England at Christmas at went shopping, so that was really good. But I really can’t wait to see them up and we’ve all been texting. And if we get the chance I’ll definitely show them around or at least go out to eat or something, but it’s quite strict. Not strict as in rules, but like you have to- normally your team has set meal times and stuff. But at the banquet we’ll definitely have a good catch-up. So excited to see them.
SPANNY: We’re all excited to watch and see what happens.
DANUSIA: Yeah now every time I walk past Pauley it’s like ooh, so exciting
DANUSIA: Because it’s right in the middle of our campus so you walk by it every day.
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: Alright let’s talk about NCAA Championships and the first round of qualifying. We are so excited to have Lauren Hopkins here today. Lauren, thanks so much for being with us.
LAUREN: No problem, I’m so excited.
JESSICA: So first let’s talk about- I just want to tell all of our international listeners why we spend so much time talking about the NCAA. Because we- it’s wonderful and we love it, so let me just pitch to you guys who are listening from around the world why you should care about this for a minute. So number one it’s basically a professional international gymnastics league. I counted just off the top of my head today, there’s over 20 countries represented. And that’s just division I. That’s not counting division II and division III in the US. So there’s gymnasts from literally every corner of the world, from Singapore to Israel to Norway, we have them all competing here. In NCAA you have to be perfect. You have to be clean. Clean great form is absolutely imperative. So if you hate seeing all those flexed feet and bent knees in elite, NCAA has all that stuff. Also of course as Spanny said in one of our previous episodes, we still have the 10. That’s right. For the women, not the men. Because they are confused and they went to elite scoring. And also there’s great difficulty in NCAA. It’s not super watered down. Yes it’s totally different than elite, but you’ll still have- there’s someone doing a tsuk 1.5, there are piked double backs off beam, there’s fulls on beam, there’s layout full out bar dismounts. So we still have the difficulty too. Ok. So I just want to tell you guys, embrace it. Love NCAA as much as we do. Ok. That’s the end of my pitching this.
UNCLE TIM: Alright so while you’re talking about our international listeners, can you tell that what Regionals are because it’s a bit of a misnomer.
JESSICA: It’s the stupidest name ever. Ok so first of all, so Regionals has nothing to do with regions, it doesn’t even have to do with regions of the country, it’s totally stupid. So basically it’s the first round- it’s like a tournament, and it’s the first round of qualifying. So basically you have to have a certain score to get to the first round of qualifying. All the teams that get to the first round of qualifying, they call it regionals. Everyone’s sent to different corners of the country and seeded by their regional qualifying score. And then basically you have a competition with everybody around your same seeding level- or they make it fair so everyone can- the top seeds can try to qualify. And then top two teams from those meets are the only ones that make it to Nationals. So it’s really the first round of qualifying to Nationals, and Regionals is just stupid and they should get rid of that name.
UNCLE TIM: Alright!
JESSICA: How do I really feel? Take a guess
UNCLE TIM: You basically get one shot to qualify. It kind of sucks if you have somebody injured and there were a few injuries. Jess, can you tell us some of them?
JESSICA: Ugh this is so sad. Ok so Randy Stageberg for Florida. She’s been amazing. Loved her when she was an elite back in the day and she has been a rock for Florida on floor and beam and she had a dislocated shoulder right before, I think it was the day before the meet and fractured her shoulder as well. So that is a horrible way to end your senior year right before qualifying to Nationals. It’s really sad. Even worse than that, 10 days before Regionals, a University of Iowa gymnast Kaitlynn Urano had a compound fracture of her tibia and fibula. She was doing beam and I’m not sure exactly what happened. It had to be a gnarly crash on beam for that to happen. And if you guys remember when we had Tim Daggett on the show, this is what happened to him. He had a compound fracture. And if you guys were watching that NCAA basketball game, I think it was last week, a guy did this on live tv.
LAUREN: Oh yeah I saw the pictures. Horrifying.
JESSICA: So basically a compound fracture is when your bone breaks so bad that they poke out of your skin. It’s a life threatening injury because you can rupture an artery. The University of Iowa coach just seemed like everything was put into perspective for her after this injury. This is tragic and horrific what we just went through and so regionals schmegionals. I’m just glad my team is alive and here pretty much. And this is the same injury that happened to Simpson. If you guys were watching the Pacific Rim Championships last year when she did a full in and landed and dislocated her ankle on tv. She had a dislocation but also a little bit of a compound fracture. It was tiny. But this would be like worse than that. It was similar.
LAUREN: Yeah I was there for when Georgia fell and I was sitting right by bars and you could like hear it and everyone in the arena was just like horrified and gasping. I remember when Bross fell on vault and that was like nothing compared to the atmosphere in the arena for when Georgia fell. Not to bring that out at NCAA
JESSICA: Yeah that was gnarly.
LAUREN: Washington has had a couple of injuries. I don’t think they would have had as much of a sort of threat in their Regional in terms of taking over from the two teams that were kind of set to make it but they had their senior vaulter Meg Whitney at PAC 12 actually. She’s been vaulting every week for them. Something just went wrong and she ruptured her Achilles. Also a senior and I think Regionals would have been her last meet ever. Yeah it was her second to last meet so that was not fun for them. The day before Regionals, McKenzie Fechter, I don’t know what happened with her, but she did something to her ankle and she was out. Yeah so they had a pretty rough time as well. But they also had one of their strongest meets of the season so I was happy to see that. They were at the Oklahoma regional and started out with I think a fall on floor but then kind of picked it up from there and yeah they had a pretty good time. I was happy to see that.
UNCLE TIM: Ok and Lauren can you tell us who actually ended up qualifying for Nationals?
LAUREN: Oh yes. For Nationals we have Florida, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, UCLA, Michigan, Minnesota, Stanford, Utah, Arkansas, and Illinois.
UNCLE TIM: And Florida qualified with the highest score with a 198.4. Do you guys think that was legit or were the judges smoking a little bit of crack or something?
JESSICA: Ha yes!
LAUREN: A little bit for sure.
JESSICA: They were. Yes. There were some major over scores. Lauren go ahead.
LAUREN: On vault, I was kind of watching in and out. They were switching back and forth from routine to routine so it was kind of hectic but I saw Alaina Johnson. It was her first competition back. She had a stress fracture in her back. She was vaulting, stepped out, and one judge gave her a 10. So that’s when I was like ok this is going to be a nightmare of a judging extravaganza. And then, this happens every week, but Ashanee with her full on vault, she, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it where her legs are together coming on to the table and she gets a 10 from one judge almost every single time.
JESSICA: That was the craziest one. If you watch that vault, she almost does like a full straddle to like 180 when her hands hit and then she goes back and then she has like a huge hop. I was like what the hell was that score?
LAUREN: Yeah it’s always horrifying. I think I yelled on Twitter every single time it happens. The gym gods are just not hearing me. It’s happened once again and I’m still not pleased. I was happy with their beam I think. I wasn’t worried that they wouldn’t make it so much. Randy Stageberg has been their leadoff for as long as I can remember. So I was thinking that the switch in the lineup at such an important meet would kind of throw them a little but they tacked on Marissa King as the anchor and I think it’s like a Gabby 2011 Worlds kind of situation where they throw her on at the end and build her up and she was amazing and got a 9.95. It worked out really well for them and I was really pleased. But again, the scoring was a little disastrous.
JESSICA: Yeah like they definitely deserved to win, deserved to qualify, but yeah they should pretty much be at a high 197, not a 198.4. That’s not what they deserve.
LAUREN: Yeah you’ll see wobbles. You’ll see steps and they’ll get tenths for those but other scoring kind of won’t hand out so easily. I kind of saw them giving gifts to other teams as well though. I don’t think it’s just a Florida thing. I think it’s just the judges not really being as particular maybe as in other regional sessions. I mean I noticed it a couple of times with Auburn and Minnesota so I kind of saw that it was not just a school home
JESSICA: Home cooking
LAUREN: If that makes sense
JESSICA: Not too much home cooking anyway
UNCLE TIM: Well I was personally disappointed that they didn’t go 199.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] It could still happen.
UNCLE TIM: And so Oklahoma also did fairly well. And a lot of people are hoping that Oklahoma will win. They scored a 197.375. Do you think that Oklahoma has a chance to catch Florida at Nationals?
LAUREN: I do. Just their record this season at away meets. They tend to go to those meets and they’ll have better meets away than they will at home which is amazing. And it really helped them when they started with the RQS averages. It pushed them kind of right to the top and they were leading ahead of Florida for awhile. They had Keeley Kmieciak out for three weeks with tonsillectomy I believe. So they’re kind of getting back into the swing of things. They had some lineup switches over the past few weeks because of that. But they still, I think, did great. I think the scoring there was probably a little more tight than it was at Florida so it’s hard to compare the two but routines looked similar to me. I think maybe they gave away a few things that they normally don’t. But I think if they’re competing kind of one on one with Florida, Super Six sort of situation, and scores are more easily comparable, I think they can match them. If they have a good meet, I think they can do it.
JESSICA: Yeah I definitely think that Oklahoma, they weren’t actually at their best, even though they blew everybody away at their region. So they could absolutely win this year. Like I actually want them to win more.
LAUREN: I do too.
JESSICA: I want them to win more because they have more artistry in their routines. They do.
LAUREN: They really do. I love their floors, beam. I think Lauren Alexander’s beam is so simple but so beautiful to watch. You just see that across all of their routines. Yeah I’m really hoping it goes to them.
JESSICA: Yeah me too. And they don’t have any more knock on the door and open your leg routines. They’ve gotten rid of all of that nonsense. They’re lovely so I would really like to see them win. Florida does a lot of pandering, not horrible pandering but you know, there’s some pandering in their routines. You can’t really hate on them but you know Oklahoma is more artistic.
LAUREN: One thing about Florida that makes me mad, not so much mad, but I see what you’re doing there. Their bars tend to be, Bianca maybe or Mackenzie Caquatto, I can’t remember who, have bare minimum bar routines. They count a Shaposh or a Pak as their release. They don’t have any real releases. It’s kind of like they jump on, I think Macko does Pak-Shaposh-bail and then her dismount pretty much when she’s back up on the high bar. In addition to their pandering, they’re like ok this is what we’re going to do because we know it will score well. There’s less opportunity for failure. They have Bridget doing a Church at the beginning of the season so I don’t know. Maybe it’s just some routines. It kind of gets stuck in my craw a bit, if that’s a saying.
UNCLE TIM: Also, one of the fan favorites usually is UCLA and Jess, I know that you are a huge UCLA fan. So can you tell us a little bit about how they fared?
JESSICA: I mean who isn’t a huge UCLA fan? But yes.
UNCLE TIM: I’m not.
JESSICA: [GASPS] Alright well we will discuss this after I’m done. So man, they did fine on vault. But they were not getting the scores that they normally do. They were not getting the Florida scores. They were getting no help. And there was this crazy judge. I don’t know who this judge was. She would not hold the freaking flag up. Did anyone else notice this? She kept waving the flag out in front of her. She was supposed to take the green flag and hold it directly up in the air so nothing can get in the way of it. That’s why you put it straight up in the air instead of waving it around in front of you. There was all this weird…..I don’t know. It just bothered me. I mean if you notice a judge, there’s a problem. You should never notice a judge. So anyway, the flag judge was killing me. They did fine on vault. They were just getting 9.85s. Then they went to bars. Oh my God. This was horrible. Monique De La Torre
UNCLE TIM: [SNICKERS]
JESSICA: She did a Shayla Worley. She did a jump to the high bar mount and missed the bar. She didn’t faceplant or fall. She just ran out of it. I’m sure that was the most embarrassing moment of her entire gymnastics career. I’m sure she beat herself up so bad for that. It was just…..if it hadn’t happened at Regionals, it would be a really funny blooper moment. They did not have a great bar rotation. It was not looking good. And then they went to beam and totally turned it around just kicked ass. Until Zam goes for her dismount and her foot slips and she only does a full on to her side/onto her knees. It was a total mess. She looked injured after it. It was really a crash. And then Danusia had to go after her and she hit cold. Oh my God. The most gorgeous routine ever. Perfect. And then they went to floor and everybody hit. It was fantastic. So they definitely turned it around but it was a little scary there for a minute. And then LSU kicked ass. LSU was on fire. Totally deserved to win. Hats off to LSU. Why don’t you like UCLA, Uncle Tim?
UNCLE TIM: I will just always root for underdogs. And I don’t find UCLA to be an underdog.
JESSICA: So you love Minnesota with the rest of us.
UNCLE TIM: I do. And I love anybody that hasn’t won a national championship already.
JESSICA: I think that’s why we’re so excited about Oklahoma now. Even though we’re like yeah Florida should win. It’d be great to have a fifth team but really Oklahoma would be like taking the thunder away.
UNCLE TIM: And over the weekend, there were a couple of surprises. Lauren, what were the big upsets?
LAUREN: Big upsets, definitely Illinois over Nebraska. Although in the second rotation or at the second half, you could kind of tell that it just wasn’t going to happen for Nebraska. They had problems on bars, problems on beam, just kind of not what they needed to win. I don’t think Illinois, when I was watching it, I didn’t think Illinois was going to surpass them. Then I saw the scores and I was like oh my God, this is actually going to happen. And so that was a little shocking to me. Oregon State was also upset by Arkansas which was not shocking. I mean it was shocking but with the way it happened, you kind of could prepare yourself at the beginning. They probably had the worst bar rotation ever in their history of their program which is sad because they are probably the best bar school in the country if they hit. Just really gorgeous routines. Love them. Can’t get enough of them. But I believe they had three falls. Yeah right off the bat. And I think someone had worked out their scoring potential like mathematically and it was that they wouldn’t be able to go above like a 196 or something. I have friends who go to Oregon State and they were saying that they knew at the very beginning that it just wasn’t going to happen. Arkansas kind of had a rough start this season. I think they were ranked like 25th at some point which is insane because they’ve always kind of had not the strongest program but they’ve been consistent top 12 if not top 10. So it was good to see them come in and not count any falls and yeah I think they deserved it. I would have like to have seen Oregon State probably over Arkansas but when it counts, they hit.
JESSICA: I’m so sad about OSU. OSU has the potential to be national champions. They are exquisite when they hit. It’s so sad that they didn’t make it.
LAUREN: It’s also crazy because they are PAC 12 champions and actually Nebraska are Big 10 champions. You have two conference championship teams who won’t be at nationals. I don’t think that’s happened for a long time if ever. So I think that’s definitely shocking. Especially because last year everyone in the top 12 made it. They kind of set up regionals for that to happen. This year, we had opportunities for upsets. Last year it worked out. This year, unfortunately for Oregon State and Nebraska, it didn’t.
JESSICA: We were saying last week that conference championships were just for bragging rights because they mean nothing else. As you can see, we were right. And of course, the greatest news is that Minnesota made it just like we said. And they’re fabulous. And when you watch them on TV, you will fall in love with them just as we have. They better show them or I will riot!
LAUREN: They weren’t showing much of them at Florida
JESSICA: No! Ugh! No! They kept showing Bridgeport. Bridgeport! Bridgeport who? Nobody cares about Bridgeport.
LAUREN: Yeah I don’t get that.
JESSICA: Let me just tell you. Bridgeport, I am excited that I got to see your gymnastics coming along. I’m very excited always to see a new team. Let me just say, for TV time, one or two routines could have been fine. Then they should have been following the team that was going to make it. So no offense to you Bridgeport with the silver leos. I was really pissed.
LAUREN: They were actually showing full Bridgeport routines and then cutting to Florida floor dismounts and then that was it. It was the most bizarre thing ever. Normally it’s like home team heavy and no one else is shown. But this is the exact opposite. It was like Bridgeport was the star.
JESSICA: Exactly. I almost wonder if the producer was confused and they didn’t know whose team was which. I was like why is this team being shown 100% of the time? At least their families will be really excited and their fans.
LAUREN: I do have to say though there is one gymnast who I’m kind of obsessed with from Bridgeport. Her name is Sasha Tsikhanovich. She’s the daughter of Olympic gold medalist Natalia Laschenova.
LAUREN: Yeah she’s crazy good. She was like one or two spots away from qualifying as an all arounder. I think if Auburn maybe had qualified over Minnesota, she probably could have made it but I’m not quite sure. I think someone tried to work that out. She’s just amazing. She has really strong routines. She’s just a gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous athlete. And it’s just awesome that someone on a Division II team has the potential to make a national Division I championship. So yeah I’m kind of obsessed.
JESSICA: Bridgeport’s Division II?
LAUREN: Yeah they are.
JESSICA: I didn’t know Division II teams could go to Regionals.
LAUREN: Yeah they can. They are actually competing at their Nationals next week. They made it to Regionals because they were in the top 36 even though they are a Division II team.
JESSICA: Wow! I had no idea! That is a really really big deal. No wonder. Well now it kind of makes sense why they were getting so much time. Hello?! Laschenova’s daughter is on the team? I’m gonna faint!
LAUREN: There was something wrong with their citizenship or something or immigration stuff. She had originally signed with Auburn. And that didn’t work out so now she’s at Bridgeport. She’s obviously strong enough as an athlete to compete with the Division I girls. Good for her. She’s awesome.
JESSICA: That is awesome. And for you guys who are listening and don’t know who Laschenova is, we’ll put a video up so you guys can see her. And if you don’t know her, you will instantly fall in love. And we’ll try to find a video of her daughter too. Wow. Very good facts Lauren! Excellent job. Very impressed.
LAUREN: It’s just a personal obsession. I had to shout it out so that everyone knows.
JESSICA: Yeah! That’s exciting.
UNCLE TIM: Who do you guys think is going to make the Super Six? Who will have the toughest time making the Super Six?
JESSICA: Yep, UCLA. UCLA is going to have the hardest time.
TIM: So for our listeners, the first semi final is Florida, Georgia, LSU, Minnesota, Stanford, and Illinois. And the second one is Oklahoma, Alabama, UCLA, Michigan, Utah, and Arkansas.
JESSICA: And the top three from each session make it to the Super Six finals which is the final team competition. There’s six teams which means there has to be two byes which is stupid. It should only be four teams or two teams. Don’t get me started on how stupid. So let me just tell our listeners, for the international listeners, the NCAA is fantastic. They do not know how to sell themselves. Let me just tell you. Because a six team final? Ugh anywho. Yeah UCLA basically has to beat Michigan or Alabama. Yeah. I don’t think they’ve done that all season. So yeah.
LAUREN: Yeah Michigan actually beat them at home. So it’s going to be an interesting little like rematch between the two. I’m sure UCLA is going to want to show that they can. I don’t know if they can.
UNCLE TIM: That said, Michigan looked like they were having a rough time in places at the regional from what I saw. They have the world’s craziest Tkatchevs, but their bails to handstands, they didn’t ever hit handstand.
JESSICA: Can you expand upon what you mean by the world’s craziest Tkatchevs for people who have never seen them?
UNCLE TIM: They’re just like super high. Yeah they’re almost Gabby Douglas good.
JESSICA: Yeah they’re Anna Li, Gabby Douglas high. They could all stand on the bar, do a dance and then catch. That’s how high they are.
UNCLE TIM: There’s definitely room for UCLA to take advantage of Michigan’s weaknesses if they show up. Or maybe Michigan got all their jitters out and now they’re going to kick butt. So I don’t know.
JESSICA: I mean UCLA will be at home and that’s always an advantage but it’s on podium. SO are they going to have the podium up for the next two weeks or are they just going to practice their rotation on podium for the next two weeks? At home? That would be an advantage. But if they don’t get to do any of that then…..I don’t know. We’ll see.
LAUREN: I think they’ve just had really really bad luck this season. I mean that’s evident from their injuries and the fact that they haven’t been able to put together rotations that they were able to do a year ago which is sad. I guess it’s a good thing that it’s mostly injury related which sounds crazy because you know you have the talent but everybody is kind of broken.
JESSICA: Yeah they don’t have the depth. They just don’t have the depth. They’re depending on a lot of freshmen to step up.
UNCLE TIM: Any chance for Minnesota to make the Super Six?
LAUREN: My hopes and dreams are kind of going for that but I feel like for semi finals. For Florida, either way they would have made it. But for Georgia and LSU, I kind of think they’re in a place where they could have made it in the second one but I think for them, they’re in one where they can kind of throw things away in one crazy rotation and it’s kind of a blessing that they were put into that first semi final. I think unless something goes crazy wrong, sadly Minnesota will not be there.
JESSICA: I think if there’s any team they’re going to beat, those are the teams they could beat and make it into the Super Six. It could happen. Especially with Georgia. They’re all over the place. And Illinois and Stanford too. They’re all over the place. If they’ve got a shot, they put them in the best place. It could happen and I hope Minnesota competes like they have been which is competing like we own this place. We deserve to be here and we’re going to show you instead of being like yay we made it to nationals. That’s enough. You know? You can’t have that attitude.
LAUREN: And I think Illinois has done that in the past. I don’t see Illinois as a threat to really anyone, but they kind of show up at Nationals as a surprise team before and it was just like, ok, they’re here, but it doesn’t matter, sort of. Stanford, they’re all over the place, but they were kind of in the same boat last year, and then made Super Six no problem, so I’m kind of wondering if that’s just one of their tricks, to not do great all season and then come in like the day that they need to and just magically have all of the routines that they need. So it would be interesting to see if they would do that, especially with Georgia in the mix, but yeah, I don’t know. That’s going to be funny to see, if that’s just their thing.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. And to go back to regionals for a second, who do you think were the gymnasts that got robbed at regionals?
JESSICA: Oh, oh. Let me just tell you. So. First of all, Stephanie Stoicovy from George Washington—George Washington had a gymnastics team, who knew, and they have very good gymnasts on it—I saw her floor routine. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Stuck, stuck landings. I mean, stuck like men’s gymnastics stuck, elite gymnastics stuck where you cannot move. Beautiful form. Exquisite. I was like, she’s going to make it for sure, nobody’s going to do a better floor routine than her, there’s no way. Even though she’s an individual competing, there’s no way, it doesn’t matter. She got a 9.875. Are you kidding me? There was no way. She was totally, totally robbed, and I’m trying to find a video of this routine so that you guys can see it. It’s beautiful. Her artistry is beautiful. Her choreography is beautiful. Her tumbling passes are original. It’s not the hardest thing that you’ve ever seen, but so clean. I was disgusted—disgusted—when I saw her score. And then Jamie Armijo from Southern Utah—we talked about her, actually, at the very beginning of the season, pointing out her beam routine, which is absolutely amazing—ok, so she does—are you ready for this?
JESSICA: She does a back handspring to full twisting back handspring as her series. As her series.
LAUREN: Oh my god. Wow.
JESSICA: Who’s the last person who—I think I’ve only ever seen one person do that, and that was, what’s her name from Russia, do that as a series. Who was that? And I know you guys are going to send us a million videos of all the people, I’m wrong, it’s been done, like, four times in the history of gymnastics. But have you ever seen it in NCAA? No. And it was beautiful. Her whole routine—I would put her, are you ready for this? Do you know who I put her next to in terms of beam difficulty and exquisite beauty and lines? Sarah DeMeo. That’s right.
LAUREN: Oh, wow.
JESSICA: I’ve said it. Sarah DeMeo. She’s really—this is why it totally pisses me off that the whole way that the rules are. But anyway. Lauren, who do you think was robbed?
LAUREN: Melanie Jones, Oregon State. I mean, the team was robbed, but she has probably my favorite floor routine this year, it’s just gorgeous and weird and interesting, and her passes are amazing. She had a 9.925, which at other regionals probably would have qualified her—because to qualify for an event, you have to win that event, which is probably my least favorite rule ever—but yeah. 9.925, and her teammate Makayla Stambaugh got a 9.95, so I think Makayla qualified as there floor worker, which—she has an amazing floor routine as well, but Melanie Jones, I believe…it’s her last year, and just a shame that she won’t be there with her team, won’t be there as an individual, especially because her floor is to die for. I kind of have a soft spot for seniors, because there’s also Janelle Giblin from Nebraska, who is an all-arounders, who kind of started standing out to me last year. Their team last year was so small, and I think they were working with five all-arounders, and she was just one that was constantly providing the scores that they needed, and Nebraska did pretty well last year, and yeah, this year she’s just not going to be there as an all-arounder, which is a shame, because she deserves to be. Especially because she’s a senior. So yeah that just takes me sad.
UNCLE TIM: And you guys have already alluded to this, but I can tell that you guys are very angry elves and that you feel like a lot of rule changes are needed.
UNCLE TIM: So Jess, why don’t you tell us, why don’t you start and then we’ll throw it to Lauren.
JESSICA: [Sighs] This makes me very angry, guys. Very, very angry. Ok. So. To start—only the top two…ok, so the thing with NCAAs is that it’s a team sport, blah blah blah. Ok. But not everyone has a team that’s going to qualify, right? Ok. So, the way that it works is that the top two all-arounders who are not from a qualifying team—so if your team doesn’t qualify as a team, but you go down the list, the next two all-arounders who didn’t qualify as a team, they qualify. Is that true for event for event specialists, if you are the top two on an event? No. it’s only for all-arounders. So, if you…it’s just completely unfair. So theoretically, just try to bear with me for this, theoretically every team has six people on the team. So imagine—theoretically—that everyone on the team competes. And I know that not everyone competes in every single event. But theoretically, you have two teams make it, so twelve all-arounders. And then you have the 13th ranked all-arounder and 14th ranked all-arounder going to Nationals. Going to Nationals. The 13th and 14th ranked person. They’re not going to win. That’s not going to happen. But you have someone who’s got a 9.975 on beam or bars, and they don’t qualify because they did not win, outright, that event for that region? It’s total insanity. It’s totally unfair. I hate this rule and it’s stupid. And why does all-arounders rank more than an event specialist? It’s…in college gymnastics, you have event specialists. You can have someone who just does one event. And with the teams going, you can have someone who didn’t even compete at their region, and now they’ve qualified because their team made it. I hate this rule. And it totally sucks. And if you’ve been to NCAAs, you know that the last day of NCAAs is event finals day, and it’s totally weird. Let me tell you. It’s the—all the energy is gone, it’s sort of blah, everyone just sits there and everyone’s kind of joking around because the team thing is done and it’s a team thing. Well, if you want to make that day count? Let more people who deserve it make it to event finals. Make the top two ranked people ranked who aren’t on a team that qualified, qualify them in. It’s just…I hate it. Needs to change.
LAUREN: Yeah. It’s the worse. Sorry if you were going to keep going…
JESSICA: No, no, I wasn’t and I could go all day, so it’s very important that you start talking now so I don’t keep on going.
LAUREN: I was talking on Twitter yesterday, and—you know, gymnastics is my sport, and I don’t know a ton about other sports—but people were saying that most of the other NCAA sports have wildcards for such situations, so if there are people who are ranked in the top ten, which means they’ve been consistently scoring like 9.9s and above on their respective events all season, why aren’t they going to be at Nationals? And that’s the case with Melanie Jones, that’s the case with Janelle Giblin, I believe, she’s not top ten but she’s up there for all-around—and it’s that way for a few girls, and I think…I mean, Vanessa Zamarripa, she messed up her beam routine kind of yesterday, so for the all-around, if UCLA hadn’t qualified, she wouldn’t be going as an all-arounder just because, despite being pretty much the number one ranked all-arounder all season. So, I mean, I guess that gymnastics is like, you have to hit when it counts, sort of, but I don’t think that brings many to the sport, because how do you watch someone all season long, and they’re the best, and they don’t end up at the national championship? That kind of doesn’t work for me. Yeah. It’s just. And last year, I remember, Lloimincia Hall—there are a lot of cases last year with qualifying from semifinals to event finals, and Lloimincia Hall was like number 1, I don’t know if she was number 1 all season, but she didn’t qualify to floor finals because of the crazy, ridiculous, qualification process at Nationals. So stuff like that, I guess. You expect the best people to be there, and this doesn’t, it applies to the Olympics as well with Jordyn Wieber, but you expect the best people to be there and when they’re not it kind of takes away from the experience and the excitement of it.
JESSICA: Yup. Totally agree. Wait, Uncle Tim, do you have any thoughts on this rule change that we’re suggesting?
UNCLE TIM: No, I think your diatribes were long enough. I don’t really have much to add.
JESSICA: Ok. NCAA Championships are this weekend, and so Spanny, what do you think that we should be looking forward to?
SPANNY: Well, I think the obvious is, like Miss Val said, it’s going to be a bloodbath, and I think the first subdivision will be for entertainment, and there could be surprises, and we’ll get into that in a second. But the second subdivision, the afternoon division, the evening, is going to be a free for all. It’s…anybody could qualify. For more detailed information on any of the teams competing, the subdivisions, the scoring capabilities, we should all check out, I know my new favorite blog, is The Balance Beam Situation.
SPANNY: In my opinion, I mean, in most people’s opinion, it’s the most accurate, the most informational, the most informative and up-to-date of any blog or anything, actually, on NCAA gymnastics now. And she’s recapped—she, I’m presuming—up to date with Regionals up to Nationals. I would suggest to everybody that they read at least what she has to say about the teams competing. I mean, and she even goes into the subdivisions. I mean, who has a better shot in this position. And it’s so details and so informed that I’m so curious as to who this is. And again, this is The Balance Beam Situation.
JESSICA: And also, we mentioned in our conversation with Lauren, Jamie Armijo of Southern Utah and her really pretty unusual balance beam routine. Her coaches graciously gave me a video of her routine, we’ll put it up on the site, and looking at it more closely, instead of like on the tiny screen on the side like in the regionals format, you can see a lot more mistakes, but it’s definitely a really unique, interesting, and pretty routine. So definitely check that out, and we’ll put a link. So, Uncle Tim, you went to the press conference and asked some great questions, by the way. What kind of juicy details did you get from it?
UNCLE TIM: Well, I’m not sure that I got anything juicy, per say, but I did get an update on UCLA’s Vanessa Zamarripa. At the Ohio State Regionals, she fell off the beam and hurt her foot/ankle. According to Miss Val, she sprained the area between her fourth and fifth metatarsus, which is between her fourth toe and her pinky toe, if I’m not mistaken. She was wearing a boot, and as of Thursday, she had graduated to a steel plate in her shoe. She’s still expected to compete though, in spite of all this, and I think that will be interesting. I’ve never had this specific injury, but I’ve definitely broken my pinky toe before, and it definitely makes balancing a lot harder. So we shall see what happens. But hopefully she will be great.
JESSICA: And you know, I watched their intersquad the other day, and she looked fantastic and amazing and perfect and seemed to be totally injury free, so she just looks amazing. I don’t think there’s anything that will go wrong with that. I was like, wow, she should hurt her foot more often because she still looks completely incredible.
SPANNY: She did right after, too, after floor I remember, you could see the floor during the warm-ups, and you saw her doing a layout and you saw Danusia warming up and you’re like, oh, she’s out. And then she did a fantastic routine. And, it’s like she said in her interview, she’s probably pretending she’s Kerri Strug.
JESSICA: Yeah. She’s taking this Kerri Strug thing very seriously, and it’s working for her.
JESSICA: Anywho, enough about that. So. Juicy stuff. Press conference.
UNCLE TIM: Yes. I’m trying to think. I also ended up talking to Rhonda Faehn a little bit—Florida’s coach Rhonda Faehn—about the difficult in their routines. It’s kind of what they’re known for, and there’s one routine in particular that college gym fans have been discussing and it’s Marissa King’s Tsuk one and a half on vault. Marissa was the 2011 NCAA vault champion, and this year she has been scoring in the 9.8-zone, which may not be good enough for vault finals. And when I asked Rhonda about the vault she totally gym nerded out and talked about technique and blocking, so if you’re gym nerd you should totally check out her answer on the website.
JESSICA: Oh, this totally reminded me that I saw Peng Peng this weekend, and she’s doing bars, she’s doing releases, she’s doing a toe-on full, she looks amazing. She can’t do a dismount yet, but her bars look fierce and she looks like she’s in incredible shape, so that’s something to look forward to. Alright. So, this weekend, if there’s one routine from each event that you can pick, one routine that you want people to see because it’s amazing, it’s unusual, it’s beautiful, whatever, what would you tell people to watch? Uncle Tim, let’s start with you on vault. Who do you think is just something unusual and beautiful to watch out?
UNCLE TIM: I would say Kayla Slechta of Minnesota. Lots of girls are doing full twisting Yurchenkos. A lot. And hers really stands out for a number of reasons. One, she starts her run in a stork stand, like the elites now do in the corner on the floor routines, but the thing I really love is that she gets a really good block and then how she twists off the table is really interesting, I don’t know how to describe it, it’s an interesting arm flare that she does and it just kind of sets hers apart and it’s really pretty.
JESSICA: Yeah, it’s like the trampolinist do, when they drop one arm straight. So it’s one way to do that compulsory, well, it’s not really compulsory, vault standout. Spanny, how about you?
SPANNY: I’m close, but a little different. Kayla Williams. It boggles my mind every time that I watch a broadcast, and I feel like it’s been maybe the past two weeks, but nobody ever mentions that she was the World Champion. That’s all.
SPANNY: I have a soft spot for her even still, and she’s been buried in the beginning of the lineup, and yeah, I think she’s been leading it off recently? And again, I think it was the met against, was it LSU, where Rheagan Courville gets a 10 with what, I won’t call it a stick, and then Kayla goes up, and again, maybe it’s dynamics, maybe it’s something that I can’t see because I’m not there and I’m not watching live—she stuck the crap out of her vault, and she proves that you can still stick vault and you can stick it on a podium and you can stick it wherever you want. She sticks. She does not budge. And that, I miss that, and especially on vault, but in collegiate gymnastics, if we’re giving out tens, they need to be stuck the way that Kayla Williams sticks them. And so, here’s hoping that she has a few opportunities to show us what a stick is this weekend.
JESSICA: Word. Hey, Uncle Tim, how about bars?
UNCLE TIM: So, I’m a fan of routines that don’t look like everyone else’s routines, and Brie Olson of Oklahoma has one of those routines. She is one of the few gymnasts who do an in-bar release, and she’s also one of the few gymnasts who do a straddle back on the bars rather than a bail to handstand, and she is one of the gymnasts to do a full twisting double layout as a dismount. And so, I can’t wait to see that routine. I also can’t wait to see Kristina Vaculik’s Geinger in-person. Kristina competed for Canada at the Olympics, but she’s competing for Stanford now. So. Those are my choices. What about you Spanny?
SPANNY: I’m going to go your direction. I’m only going to pick one skill, and it’s maybe just a thing where I do think all the routines look alike unless it’s a routine I want to bash because it looks too easy or there aren’t enough skills or something, but so I’m going to focus on the positive, and I feel silly because I’m only mentioning previous elites, but Chelsea Davis from Georgia. Her Tkatchev is Gabby Douglas worthy. And it was too, it was in elite. The rest of the routine is, eh, you know. I don’t think she’s ever scored below a, what 9.9 on it. She’s a ringer on the event. But that release I could just watch over and over and over, and I think Kim Zmeskal and Chris Burdette should pat themselves on the back every time she does it because it’s incredible.
JESSICA: Uncle Tim, what about beam?
UNCLE TIM: So, I’m going with Shayla Worley of Georgia. She does a lot of difficult moves in her routine. She does an Onodi, a sheep jump, and Kochetkova, which is a full twisting back handspring on the beam. And, you know, lots of girls just get on the beam and get off, but I like that she takes a lot of unnecessary risk. I also have to mention Rheagan Courville’s standing Arabian. Rheagan is from LSU, and it’s probably the best standing Arabian in the entire world.
JESSICA: Yeah, she lands it standing up. Like, higher than Carly Patterson standing up. It’s totally amazing. Spanny, who’s your pick for beam?
SPANNY: So first, again, regarding Shayla, even if it’s not her skills, it’s the shapes and the angles she makes on beam that I find just fascinating, and especially in elite and NCAA you see so many of the same poses and a butt shelf and she did many of those things in elite, which is why I’m so impressed that now, and especially the past two years with her routine, the different angles she makes, it’s interesting. My pick—and again, I’m going the elite route—I have two. The obvious, but Bridget Sloan. She is like butter on beam. It’s not the most difficult routine, but it’s solid yet sublimely smooth at the same time, and I could just watch it forever. And the super-obvious her is her Highness, Danusia Francis. Yes. She just like is, she just is beam. She is. If you want to know what beam is, just watch Danusia, and you’ll know that’s it.
JESSICA: And, before we get to floor, I’d like to point out to all the haters out there who are like, no, you have to pause for three years and prep before you can do any type of turn, watch Danusia Francis’ floor routine. Because she does not prep at all. She just walks into her Memmel turn. Just walks into it. Actually, it isn’t a Memmel turn, it’s a single. It’s the one where you’re in a y-scale. But she doesn’t prep, because that’s how it’s supposed to be done. Mmhmm. Ok, floor. Carry on. Uncle Tim.
UNCLE TIM: I’m going to go with Christa Tanella of Georgia. I didn’t like this routine at the beginning of the year because it is so cheesy, but it grew on me. It reminded me of the early 90s when like Dominique Moceanu was doing the “Devil Went Down To Georgia,” Kim Zmeskal did “Rock Around The Lock,” those sort of things, and she starts with LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” and has Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” in there. It’s so cheesy, but I’ve learned to love it, and even though it’s kind of pop music, she doesn’t do the scandalous moves that other gymnasts might do. It’s still classy and fun, so. And I have to also give an honorable mention to Katherine Grable of Arkansas who’s also originally from Wisconsin. In her second pass, she also does one of those combination tumbling passes as many gymnasts do, but she ends it with a branny step out which is an interesting concept and it makes her stand out and I really like that pass.
SPANNY: Tanella has just been so, I’ve been so fascinated by her this year, especially that routine, because the endurance needed. Like, I’m exhausted just watching her. And she seems like she’s having more fun than we are, and you have to enjoy it, because she really looks like she’s enjoying it. My pick is Lindsay Mable from the University of Minnesota. She’s got wonderful tumbling, the toe point, the extension, everything is there, it’s all glorious and lovely, and plus she has that awesome little turn that we mentioned a few weeks ago, with this weird turning-stag-jump. It’s just, it’s a gorgeous routine, and it’s fun and energetic and very classy. And she’s just a freshman, so I’m excited to see what she does.
ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. EliteSportzBand.com: We’ve got your back.
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JESSICA: Just really quickly I want to mention, before we have to wrap it up, we’ve been getting some great gymnerd memes in. a special shout out to SuperGymmie, who did a grumpy cat gymnast, and to Chris, who’s been doing little logos for us for our guests each week, and I’m waiting for someone to do Pottering as a gymnastics style. Has anyone else seen that thing? Where you act like you’re in Harry Potter and Quidditch and you’re riding a broom and people who are like pointing wands at each other and I’m waiting to see the gymnastic versions of these. This is what I’m looking forward to. I’m just saying.
SPANNY: There was another one, and again, I don’t know if this is something that was submitted to us or if it is something that I just saw on Tumblr maybe, but they’re calling Khorkanimals, where it’s Khorkina’s head photoshopped onto different animals.
SPANNY: So if you’re the one doing this, you should send those pictures, because I’m really fascinated by this. Like, it’s the obvious ostrich and whatever, but now there’s turtles and other animals and the name Khorkanimals, is….it should be a thing. More of a thing.
JESSICA: Uncle Tim, who does our international shout out of the week go to?
UNCLE TIM: It goes to Sandra from Scotland, who follows us on Twitter and has commented occasionally on our posts. So thank you, Sandra, for following us.
JESSICA: That’s going to do it for us this week. Next week we are delighted to have the wonderful and amazing Elise Ray, and remember that Uncle Tim will be at the NCAA Championships, bringing you live tweets and all of the most exciting news. You can contact us at Gymcastic@gmail.com or by phone at 415-800-3191 and you can call into the show. Our username on Skype is GymcasticPodcast. We’re also on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Google Plus. And remember that you can find a transcript of each and every show and videos of everything we are talking about on our site, so you can follow along online. You can support the show by downloading the Stitcher app. You can recommend us to a friend. You can rate us or write a review on iTunes. And of course, you can donate to the show, and thank you to everyone who has done so. Until next week, I am Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics.com.
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner.
SPANNY: I’m Spanny from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile.
TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym.
LAUREN: I’m Lauren from TheCouchGymnst.com.
JESSICA: See you next week.
[[SONG- SWING, BROTHER SWING – BILLIE HOLIDAY]]
JESSICA: This episode is dedicated to the memory of Gloria O’Berine. I’m so glad that you’re reunited with your one true love, gymnastics carpool driving legend, Pop Pop.