LAURIE: I could only drink liquids for a month.
JESSICA: Did your teeth go back in place?
LAURIE: Yeah they did!
[“Express Yourself” intro music plays]
JESSICA: This week, European Youth Olympic Festival, men’s US national qualifier, a preview of the Chicago Classic and Laurie Hernandez and her coach are here!
ALLISON TAYLOR: Hey gymnasts, Elite Sportz Band is a cutting edge compression back warmer that can protect your most valued asset, your back. I’m Allison Taylor, on behalf of Elite Sportz Band. Visit elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: This is Episode 41 for July 24, 2013. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from The Gymnastics Examiner
UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: This is the only gymnastics podcast ever in the history of the galaxy starting with the top news stories from around the gymternet. So Blythe, you were at the European Youth Olympic Festival, or EYOF as they say. So for those of us who have never been or haven’t heard of this before, can you tell us a little bit about the event? Is it annual, what are the age groups?
BLYTHE: Well I really have to thank the gymternet for giving this competition, I think a lot more prestige. This is something like its 17th edition. So it’s been going on for quite a while. It happens every two years actually. The year after and the year before the Olympic Games. And the purpose is to kind of serve almost as a replacement for the Junior European Championships which didn’t happen this year. In 2011, it was held in Turkey in Trabzon. And in 2009 it was held in Tampere, Finland. And in both of those meets, you saw people emerge who we would see quite a lot more of later. In 2009, the big star of the show was David Belyavsky who is of course now the reigning European All Around Champion. In 2011, it was all about Larisa Iordache. She came in there and just blitzed the competition. And this year, it was also very interesting because we had some of the stars of last year’s junior European women’s competition come out and they did very well and we had some really emerging new faces on the men’s side which is always exciting to see.
JESSICA: It sounds like it was the British men vs. the Russian men which is always very exciting to hear about.
BLYTHE: It was totally cool! I wrote this on The Examiner but I remember talking to someone who was kind of affiliated with the British team a couple of years ago and I said oh they’re so great right now. Do you think that this is going to be the start of something, this generation with Dan Keatings and Dan Purvis and Kristian Thomas and everyone? Is this going to be start of a kind of dynasty of British men’s gymnastics and this person, you know, didn’t think so. But after watching this meet, I’ve got to disagree. The British men are going to keep rolling.
JESSICA: That’s awesome!
BLYTHE: They have a ton of talent coming up and they sent three guys, three very talented young gymnasts to the European Youth Olympic Festival and they’ve got more at home. And so watch out for them. The three guys that they sent, Jay Thompson, Brinn Bevan, and Nile Wilson, they just did phenomenally well. Brinn Bevan, the 16-year-old, he is probably the guy who we’re going to look at as an up and coming junior over the next few years. He was amazing for his age and definitely a star in the making. But all of them did very very well.
JESSICA: I loved Brinn Bevan’s floor routine when he does, he does like a simple double twist and then he jumps right out of it and does a 1.5 twist prone and it is beautiful.
BLYTHE: Wasn’t that cool?!
JESSICA: I loved it. He spins so fast. Seriously, I was like was that a 2.5? Oh my God, I had to watch it a few times over but it’s so pretty. It’s very Kyle Shewfelt-esque. It’s very (inaudible.) So pretty. I just loved watching it. He has so much style. He is exactly the kind of artistic gymnast we have been waiting for. And to see it on men’s side, his legs were parallel, his back leg was parallel on every single split jump that he did, like a little stag jump. It was just like (gasps). This is it! Yes! Let this kid conquer the gymnastics world. I loved watching him.
BLYTHE: Just so much style. And that was actually one of the differences between the British men and the Russians. The Russians have this wonderful old school tradition of being amongst the best gymnastics countries in the world for the last sixty years. And the British, they always say that before 2008 and Louis Smith’s bronze medal on pommel horse, they didn’t have a medal in gymnastics for 100 years. And to see this sort of emergence and this kind of talent ,it is awesome. And the Russians of course, they were terrific too. They sent three very talented young men and they won a lot of medals. But to me, the real story was the British men’s style and elegance and a lot of class and a lot of really big skills for their age.
JESSICA: So on the women’s side, it sounds like it was a very interesting competition.
BLYTHE: It was a very interesting competition. The top four teams, the Russian women ended up on top, the British women followed, the Romanians were third and the French were fourth. They all did some really cool, very intricate and beautiful gymnastics. Now going into that, I think we had seen the Romanian women the most. You know, they sent a team to France for the France Romania friendly about six weeks ago. They were sort of in force at the 2012 Junior Europeans in Brussels. And they did well, you know. But they did have a fall on vault and they had a fall on bars. And so they did well but they could have done a bit better and they kind of left the door open. And then in the next session, because there were four subdivisions, and in the second subdivision, the Romanian women went. In the third subdivision, the British women, just, I’m very tempted to use the baseball metaphor of knocking it out of the park here. They were, it was outrageous, the skills! They started off on floor, the first girl Ellie Downing, she opens up with a double layout and we were like whoa! And then the next gymnast on floor, Amy Tinkler, she opens with a double layout. And we were like wow. And then Tyesha Mattis, steps up as their third up on floor. She opens up with a double twisting double back. And to my knowledge, that’s the first time a British woman has done that in competition.
BLYTHE: And she follows it up with a 1.5 to a triple full. She does just really really big huge skills. And she does them easily too. She has that kind of power. And we were just standing there with our mouths open because it was like look at this girl go.
JESSICA: And that’s the thing. When I was watching Ellie Downing, when she did her double Arabian, she looks like she did a triple and she flies out of bounds. She flew almost off the carpet. I was like okayyyy you got hops. They just seem like they’re doing really hard gymnastics. And it’s easy for them, like you were saying.
BLYTHE: Yeah they look absolutely full of confidence. Really a skill level apart than what we’ve seen from the British women, apart from Beth Tweddle on bars and on floor. They’ve really just kind of stepped it up and taken it to the next level. What they will have to pay a little more attention to I think is form. Toe point, make sure your knees are straight, your legs are straight when you’re doing layout stepouts on beam, that kind of thing. But that will come with time. The foundation is really really solid.
JESSICA: So how did the Russians, and I was also, there was one German gymnast, Kim Janas
BLYTHE: Kim Janas
JESSICA: She was very artistic in a way that we haven’t seen from German gymnasts since I feel like the days of East Germany. She really really stood out to me. So polished. How did they look to you?
BLYTHE: Oh yeah! The Germans looked terrifically polished. Both Kim Janas and Leah Greiber, is another name to watch. Both really have, I think, taken a lesson out of some of the other European countries’ book and have focused as much on grace as they have on power and developing skills. And that’s really going to pay off for them in the future.
JESSICA: And how about the little tiny Maria Kharenkova?
BLYTHE: Oh she was the darling of the meet, Maria Kharenkova. And she was actually the darling of the 2012 Junior Euros as well. You know, she came away with three gold medals. With the team, she was really kind of looked at, I think, as the leader of that team with Evgenia Shelgunova and she won beam and she won floor. She just had a wonderfully choreographed floor routine. And every time I looked at Maria Kharenkova last year, she was being cuddled in somebody’s arms. The Russians think she is as adorable as we do. It’s nice to see her a year older, a little bit more experienced, just kind of stepping up to the plate and saying hey you know, I’ve decided I could win this all around competition and doing just that.
JESSICA: Aww I’m happy to hear that. I’m also really happy to hear that we’re seeing some changes from teams that really haven’t been in the forefront of artistry like Germany, or it’s been a long time. And also that Great Britain continues to build on the momentum that they collected and worked for for the London Olympics. It would be so sad if that went away and it sounds like they’re just full steam ahead and using all that momentum they got. And I’m just so happy to see that in a country that hasn’t traditionally been a power. That’s coming into the juniors still.
BLYTHE: Definitely. If you thought that they heyday of Great Britain was the 2012 London Olympics, I think you’ll be surprised in the future.
JESSICA: So Uncle Tim, what were your thoughts on the European Youth Olympic Festival? The EYO….ugh God. I kept calling it the Youth Olympic Games and then I realized I was totally wrong. So what were your thoughts?
UNCLE TIM: Well, on the men’s side I wanted to quickly talk about Carlo Macchini of Italy. He won the high bar final with a score of 14.1. And I just want to talk about his execution for a second. He did a Kovacs with his knees together. I know that it probably seems ridiculous that I’m getting excited about this, but usually when you see a Kovacs, you just want to yell “Ribbit” at the guy because he looks like a frog in the air. And this was not the case with Carlo. Also he did a jam to handstand that finished on top of the bar which was also something that you never see on the men’s side. Jess, did you have anything
JESSICA: I was super impressed with his handstand. That jam, I was like, nobody does that. No one finishes like that. I mean, it was perfect. Like perfect to the point where I was like oh is he going to get stuck because I’m so not used to seeing it done like that. His form was so nice. He just looked so long and tall and you know I love that on high bar.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah so it was pretty incredible. And all this has got me thinking about form and execution and I think that at the European Youth Olympic Festival, that’s a mouthful, we saw some really well executed routines from the juniors, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case with the senior men. And I was wondering Jess, did you have any theories as to why that happens? Why does execution kind of suffer when juniors become seniors?
JESSICA: That’s interesting because some of the teams, it seemed like the opposite for me. I mean for the men, I feel like it’s…..that’s a good question. It seems like it’s just not emphasized anymore. I kind of feel like it doesn’t matter anymore. Like, as long as you’re doing something hard enough, it really doesn’t matter. With men’s gymnastics, I feel like men do things that are messy, messy, messy and then they don’t emphasize it until they get older. But now, I’m seeing a little bit of the opposite with the boys that competed here vs. the older gymnasts. So yeah I think boys are completely different. With girls, I just feel like if you don’t learn it from the time you start, you’re done. Like forget about it. You’re never going to get it. It’s so fundamental and basic and important in the way you start with your training in the very beginning on the women’s side.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah we talked about this with Sho a couple of episodes ago. And from my experience, sometimes coaches will say, well if you emphasize the basics too much with male gymnasts in America, they’ll get bored and drop out of the sport. And it’s really doing the big tricks that the kids want to do. Some coaches, I’m not going to say all coaches, but some coaches might emphasize learning skills faster rather than spending hours a day on just handstands, which is something that I know that Vitaly Scherbo in the past has talked about. And Sho also talked to us in terms of Japanese gymnastics. So that’s one way of explaining it I guess.
JESSICA: Hmmm that’s true. I hadn’t thought about that. And from coaching, I’ve coached boys and girls and I feel like coaching boys is totally different. It’s like wrangling cats and you just get them to focus for a second and then it’s just cat wrangling and focus, cat wrangling, so keeping them interested makes sense to me.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah. Alright well let’s shift over to the women a little bit. I want to talk about Russian choreography. So in Episode 23 when we were talking about the American Cup and the Nastia Liukin Cup, we talked a little bit about how level 10s and juniors can do more choreography because they have more time. They’re not doing as many tumbling passes so they can focus on the dance a little bit. And I think that if we were to paint with a broad brush, that would probably be true. There’s always exceptions to the rule. Maria Kharenkova is an exception to that rule. She does like no choreography in her routine which seems to be a trend in Russian choreography right now. During the University Games, I tweeted something to the effect of “here’s how to do Russian choreography. 1. walk. 2. breathe dramatically aka breathe heavily. 3. circle your arms in front of you a couple times.” And that’s pretty much how you do choreography if you’re Russian. That’s exactly what’s going on with Kharenkova. Jess, what did you think? Did you agree with me that that seems to be a trend in Russian choreography?
JESSICA: It certainly does. And it’s really sad because the thing is that most people don’t recognize this because since these girls are trained and they have a ballet background, they make just lifting their arm look beautiful because they have beautiful carriage and they lift with their elbow and from the shoulder. It deceptively looks pretty. There’s nothing going on there. I actually counted how many steps she took before doing choreography and she doesn’t take more than…she never does more than 1,2 and then stops and poses. Or 1,2 and waves her arm around. Or 1,2….in the whole entire routine. And I feel like she could actually do something completely different every single time she does this routine and you wouldn’t notice because there’s really nothing going on except for her roll on the ground sequence. But yeah I feel like this is a big problem and I think that again, it’s not encouraged so why bother? As long as you can get away with it, why make the effort? Which I feel like is so sad because where is the pride Russia? Where is your pride?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah I was kind of wondering why as well. And I think that you can make the argument that Russia has earned this reputation in the past that they are the most artistic team and the team with the best choreography and therefore they are kind of resting on their laurel. Another idea that came to me is maybe they changed choreographers sometime in the last two to three years or something. I’m not exactly sure. If anybody has details on that, let us know. Another thing that I was thinking about is, at least with Aliya Mustafina, she does not seem to have the conditioning level that she has had in the past. And if you aren’t in good enough shape, you are not able to do all your leaps, all your turns, and all your tumbling passes and dance. So I mean walk and huff and puff and get credit for artistry that way if judges will do that for you.
JESSICA: Yeah it’s really good that you bring this up because this is totally I think the classic conundrum or the classic fight that a choreographer and a coach will have. Because the choreographer will make this incredible routine and the coach will be like and how is she supposed to have enough energy to tumble now? There’s too much dance. It’s too taxing. So it’s unfortunate. And then we have to think about Alexandrov leaving and going to Brazil, now confirmed. And I wonder if that has something to do with it too, if he placed more emphasis on this and now there just isn’t someone there making sure that this is a priority.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah so if any of our listeners have any details or any other theories, please let us know. We’re always open to suggestions.
JESSICA: So there was one routine, speaking of choreography, that really stood out to us in artistry. Uncle Tim, tell us about Eythora Thorsdottir of The Netherlands.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah so this routine was kind of the talk of the gymternet over the weekend. She took second on beam at the EYOF and it was really impressive. Let me set this all up for you. So when you’re a gay male gymnast growing up in the 90s, you always look up to the older girls. You’re envious of their velvet crushed leotards and you learn how to braid girls’ hair before meets, and since this is the era before the post-coital rat’s nest, this meant that you learned how to do some serious French braiding. And when you’re supposed to be doing your homework, you practice the older girls’ beam fluff in your bedroom, using the lines of your hardwood floor as the balance beam. K? So that was my life. Well there was this one girl named Amanda on my team. She used to do a beam fluff skill, which in the US Junior Olympic code is called free lying. So you lie down at the end of the beam, arch your back over the end of the beam and hang there. Nowadays, it’s an A in the JO code. I have no clue what it would have been in the 90s. And I don’t even think it’s in the FIG code. It might be but I don’t know that it is. Basically it’s worth nothing though. Eythora still did it and that just made me so happy and made me want to go buy a Cabbage Patch Kid and practice my French braids all over. And so Jess, what did you think? Did you want to French braid hair as you were watching this routine? Was it better than University of Minnesota routines with all its old school-ness?
JESSICA: Oh my God it was right up there with the University of Minnesota. It was very glamorous. That is how I feel. This routine brought glamour which we never see. We have divas. We have fierceness. Glamour, we rarely see. I have always included the arch back over the end of the beam in my routine because I enjoy glamour as much as the next girl even though I still can’t French braid so if you could help me with that, that would be great. I love the fact that she did simple, old school skills and they totally stood out and they made her stand out because she did them beautifully. First of all, when she does the lay back over the end of the beam, she doesn’t hook her feet on like she’s riding a horse. Vasiliki Millousi, we’re talking to you. You know who you are, hooking your feet on to the end, holding on to the side of the beam when you do your arch over. Unacceptable. She also does just a plain split ring leap. Not a switch. A split leap, and when she’s at the apex of her split, she arches her head back and her foot comes up. It’s beautiful and it totally stands out because nobody does that. I loved it. Before we get into our discussion of the Secret Classic in Chicago, which we are so excited about, I just wanted to give you an update from last week’s show. Stacey Ervin’s petition to the national championships was accepted which means that the showdown is on. The imaginary showdown that we have created here on the show between him and Eddie Penev. It’s all Stacey to me. It’s only Stacey and Stacey’s showdown. So we will see. And of course we have Bobby the super front twister guy on floor too. So we’ll see what happens. We’re very excited for Stacey and we’re wishing him a lot of luck. The next meet on our radar is the Secret Classic in Chicago. It used to be in Chicago Proper. This time it’s in the suburbs which everyone is complaining about but it’s still a great meet and it’ll be really really exciting. I love this meet because it’s small. It’s intimate. You get to see the future at this meet. The Olympic team at Rio is going to be competing here. And it’s very exciting. So let’s talk about the roster. Uncle Tim, what are your thoughts on the vault roster?
UNCLE TIM: Well we don’t know exactly who’s going to be competing on what yet but the possibility of a vault showdown is definitely there. Simone Biles is slated to compete, McKayla Maroney is, and Mykayla Skinner is slated to compete. And it’s going to be a sneak peek of what could come at nationals. I hate to say this to the fans of all three of these gymnasts, but there’s no way that Martha’s going to send all three of them to the World Championships. It just does not make sense to send three excellent vaulters when you can only have two vaulters in an event final. So I would say, at most, two of these gymnasts will be going. And so it’s kind of our sneak peek into what might happen. I’m also excited for the all around competition. I know that a few months ago, Brenna Dowell, I mean Kyla Ross won the all around and Brenna Dowell got second so it seems like Brenna Dowell is doing quite well at training camp. And I’m excited to see her compete again and she how she kind of matches up with Simone Biles and Kyla Ross.
JESSICA: And it’s exciting to finally see, I mean this is the first time we’ll see two of the Fierce Five back in a meet together. That’s fun. And you know, they’re best friends and they grew up together and everything and they started at the same gym at Kyla Ross’s gym. It’ll be nice that they’re competing together. Ok.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah and so Jess, what about the juniors? What gymnasts are on your radar?
JESSICA: Well I’m excited to see Amelia Hundley. Of course, she goes to Cincinnati so she was in the Gymnastike Beyond the Routine series, the very first one which we enjoyed thoroughly. Though, I can’t believe she’s still a junior but then I remembered now that being a junior lasts so much longer than it used to. I’m really excited always to see Chow’s juniors and see who is coming up at his gym. And there’s Polina Schennikova who as I like to call Baby Nastia. She has the forehead. She has the puppy feet. I mean, she’s the total package. She even does the hand gesture flair-y stuff in the corner of the floor that’s not really choreography but it looks beautiful because obviously she has training. And she does on beam, and she does it on floor too, where you hold your fist in front of your face and you cross them in front of you and say Vegas and open your fingers. You know that move?
UNCLE TIM: Like jazz hands?
JESSICA: Yeah jazz hands! She has that on floor and on beam so look for that and when she does it say Vegas! So I’m excited to see her. And of course there’s the dance off. The ultimate dance off that will be happening between Sydney Johnson Scharpf, the little dance machine and Laurie Hernandez, my favorite favorite favorite junior ever. So this is going to be like Shakira and Beyonce vs who’s like a super showtown, like on the stage Broadway performer? I know none of these people.
UNCLE TIM: Um, Jess, I’m pretty sure there’s only so much gay in the world. You are like sucking some gay out of me right now. I am less gay because of this conversation. Just kidding.
JESSICA: I don’t know. All I can think of is Linda Ronstadt. That’s not the right person. Who is that? Anyway, it’ll be like Glee vs. Shakira and Beyonce. That’s what I’m saying. So yes. That is the way to put it. Jazz hands vs. fierce performance. I love both of them. I can’t wait. So that’s who I’m excited to see. And it’s such a fun meet. If you guys can go to that meet, totally go to the meet. It’s in Chicago. It’s awesome .Chicago’s a great city, a great sports city. It’s a super fun meet. You get to see everybody. I love that meet. Ok let’s talk about the men’s qualifier that happened at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs on June 13. So what is this meet and why do we have so many top competitors there even though they should’ve already qualified to nationals?
UNCLE TIM: Alright. So basically it’s really a meet for the gymnasts who haven’t qualified for US nationals. There are a bunch of ways to qualify for US nationals on the men’s side. Last year, if you were an Olympian, you qualify automatically. You could qualify for nationals if you were named to the US national team at the Winter Cup. You also qualified if you won the level 10 nationals. I mean there are a lot of different ways to qualify. But there were some gymnasts who had already qualified like Danell Leyva and John Orozco because they were both Olympians last year. But before we talk about them, let’s talk about Cameron Bach. Jess, if I’m not mistaken, you know him. Correct?
JESSICA: Well yeah I know him from just around the gym. But I actually know his dad. His dad started doing gymnastics when he was in late 30s, early 40s. So I did adult gymnastics with his dad. His dad was a prodigy. I mean we were just like seriously how are you doing this stuff already. He already came in in pretty good shape and he had pretty good flexibility. And he caught on so fast. And he started doing privates with the coach just to get even better. And he’s just one of those kids that knowing his parents, I can see why he’s gotten so good so fast. His dad fell in love with the sport. It’s no wonder that his son fell in love with the sport. I feel like I remember when Cameron was just a tiny roly poly little like five-year-old and he had really good form even then, from the time he was tiny and would just run across the floor and do one cartwheel. So I love that adult gymnastics and Masters Gymnastics having this outlet for grown ups to fall in love with the sport brought us to this little 2012 JO all around national champion and second place going into this year. Oh and his favorite movie is Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgundy so pft what else do you need to know about that kid?
UNCLE TIM: Well while we are talking about people who are older, let’s talk about the opposite. I want to talk a little bit about Bobby Baker who is still kind of a baby. He is only 17 years old if I did my math correctly. Last time we talked about him, we were talking with Kyle Shewfelt during Episode 21 I believe and we were talking about the Winter Cup. And at that meet, he competed a full twisting double front. But he didn’t land it in competition. Well, at the US national qualifier, he landed it which made me run across the living room floor and do a split leap and I think I pulled my groin in the process so stretch kids, stretch is all I can say. Did you watch it Jess?
JESSICA: Yes. I just don’t even know what to say. Every time he does it, I have to watch it over and over and over to just believe my eyes that I am seeing what I’m seeing. He’s one of those people, he doesn’t look like he has a gigantic butt or huge calves so you think he’s going to fly through the air. He’s lithe.
UNCLE TIM: He’s really impressive. And another person that I was impressed with was John Orozco. In case you don’t remember, he tore his ACL on I want to say October 19 at that infamous Kellogg’s Tour of Injuries where he was injured and McKayla Maroney was injured. So right now, we’re roughly nine months after the injury and he’s looking, I’d say better than I thought he would be. He only did a double tuck off high bar but on rings he did a double back with one half twist and on parallel bars, he did a double pike. He didn’t compete floor and vault which was expected. He did end up tying for first on rings. But one thing I want to talk about is his parallel bars because he has added a new skill which is a Huang Liping. It’s a back double pike starting on your hands and finishing on your upper arms. But I’m curious, Jess. What did you think of this routine? Were you bored? Were you interested? What were you thinking?
JESSICA: I was kind of in between. At one part, I was sort of distracted because he looks like so incredibly good. I was a little distracted by his physique, I have to say. I was like damnnnnn Orozco. He’s a little thinner and a little more filled out. He just looked fantastic in his outfit. That’s all I’m saying. And on the other hand, you know, parallel bars, I find it a little bit boring especially when people hold handstands forever. He was a little off on his handstands so I was kind of like eh. And then he would throw a double pike or that giant thing where you swing up in the air like you’re sort of doing a Hecht and then you stop yourself by straddling your legs and you flip yourself forward and grab, like a cut catch kind of but like a thousand feet in the air. It was so high. It made me stop for a second and look back. So in between. On one hand, it was rough. On the other hand, I was like oh my God this is why they call him the ninja because he has freaking springs in his arms.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah I think my biggest complaint with the routine was the composition. I don’t think there’s a deduction for this but he really just stayed in the middle of the parallel bars. He did go down to the end eventually but the entire I’d say first three quarters of the routine or so was in the middle. It consisted of doing a skill and then doing a front uprise. I think he did at least three front uprises in his routine which is a lot. And so I think the routine had a lot of big skills. He had a 6.8 in difficulty which is up there with the best in the world. But it wasn’t really that exciting because he stayed in one place the entire time. But it’s good to see him back.
JESSICA: What kind of scores is he getting in execution? Because at first when I saw 6.8, I was like wow that’s a really high difficulty. Then I was like oh no wait. What if that’s his execution?
UNCLE TIM: Well they’re not quite 6.8s but they’re not up there either. On parallel bars, kinda close to a 6.8. He got a 7.350 and then he also got a deduction for having a crash mat for when he was landing. So his final score on parallel bars was a 13.650. On high bar though, he had an execution score of 9.350 which is closer to what we’re used to seeing from John. On pommel horse, he also had a little bit of a struggle even though he had a high D score of 6.6. He had a 7.55 in execution. So yeah, little bit of a struggle there. And Danell Leyva also competed, the 2012 Olympian. I wrote an entire post on his progress so I won’t bore you with all the details. He did end up winning the all-around with an 87 even. He had some new skills. For instance, on floor he threw a Tamayo. It was a real Tamayo. Jess, you’d be happy to know that.
UNCLE TIM: Overall, it was a decent outing. It wouldn’t be an outing that would put him on the podium in Antwerp but his high bar routine is always exciting. What did you think of it Jess?
JESSICA: Well first of all, I would like to say that he looks fantastic in the white and blue. I think it was a nice homage to the Cuban heritage. I have no idea if that’s why he chose it but I like seeing him in all white. You rarely see that from the guys so I really liked that. I don’t understand….I mean this is the thing. Like Kyle Shewfelt called this year, the year after the Olympics, the year that doesn’t matter. And really it doesn’t. And so I mean the fact that he’s struggling a little bit here and there, he’s so good that for him to struggle, he’s still going to make all around finals. He’s not at his peak and he shouldn’t be right now so it’s not like we’re going to criticize him in any way. But the one thing I don’t understand is are you allowed to do three giant swings before you do a release on high bar? He did one, two, and then did another giant and then the release. Is that how many you’re allowed to do? I feel like women are only allowed to do one, like one and then the next one you do your release.
UNCLE TIM: The men can do more than one giant before their releases.
JESSICA: Ugh. Totally unacceptable. How sexist! Change this rule for the women right away. I do not care for that. That needs to be changed. I mean granted, when you’re doing a ridiculously high full twisting release with a flip in it, it’s kind of I guess understandable but that was too many giants. I don’t care for that. But otherwise, he looked good. And I like how his coach is now trying to brand the “yesooooo” at the end. It’s hilarious. I feel like it’s gymnastics version of azuka. It’s very Cuban. He has it on his shirt. It’s on the website and everything. I just think it’s hilarious. I also think you shouldn’t notice the coach when the gymnast is up but on the other hand, I like him so it’s okay with me. If I didn’t like him, I’d be totally against it because that’s how totally opinionated I am. I’m just being honest about me there. So that’s what I thought. How about you?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah Yin is always exciting. He does his clap still. The (claps like Yin) or whatever it is and then the crowd does it too. I’m a little curious as to how he got an 8.950 in execution just because he does a stalder 1.5 pirouette and he catches it so so late. I don’t know how he gets credit for the skill 1. and how he doesn’t get so so so deducted. Yeah. It confuses me and it’s been confusing me for a while. It’s one of those skills like is Jake Dalton really doing a Tamayo or not. Is Danell Leyva really doing this skill correctly or not? So if you are a judge, we’d love to hear your thoughts on that. How is he still getting credit for this skill?
BLYTHE: Let’s be honest. As an adult gymnast, you know that it takes more time to recover from workouts and you can do less pounding on your body than you could when you were a teenager. That’s why it’s so handy to do at least part of your workout on a TumblTrak. It provides a softer surface for tumbling and absorbs a lot of the shock, allowing you to progress and even gain new skills without your body really regretting it after a workout. The Tumbl Trak is definitely the most useful piece of equipment in the gym where I train these days and I’m so glad it’s there. To learn more visit Tumbl Trak, visit www.tumbltrak.com. Tumbl Trak. Do it again.
At just 13, Laurie Hernandez already has the gymnastics world standing at attention. Her dazzling poise and attention to detail in not just her acrobatic elements but in her dance and artistry, has already set her apart, marking her as one of America’s most exciting new gymnasts. Now in her second year as an international elite, Laurie has already started this year off with a bang, winning the Parkette elite qualifier with a very impressive 57.8 all around score. Laurie is joining us today from Texas with her coach Maggie Haney of Monmouth Gymnastics in New Jersey. Maggie, a former North Carolina State gymnast, has the distinction of being the first Wolfpack gymnast to score a perfect 10 in collegiate competition. Thank you both so much for joining us today.
JESSICA: Laurie, I am so excited to talk to you because I saw you last year at Classics in Chicago. Oh my God. You were so fantastic. You lit up the whole room. It was like, when you were on the floor, it was like Beyonce and Michael Jackson and Shakira all showed up at once and started doing gymnastics. No one could look away. You just absolutely commanded the floor. You are such a performer. Have you had dance training or drama training or did you start with gymnastics?
LAURIE: Well I did dance when I was maybe 2 or 3 years, probably around 3 years old I would say. And then I didn’t really want to do it anymore so I went to gymnastics and my coach makes up all my routines.
JESSICA: So when you first started gymnastics, did you have a gymnastics hero, someone you looked up to and wanted to be like them?
LAURIE: I really liked Shawn Johnson.
JESSICA: Is she still your gymnastics idol or do you have someone new like when you go to the Ranch, is there someone you’re in awe of when you go there and now you’re training with them?
LAURIE: I’m a really big fan of McKayla Maroney now.
JESSICA: What do you like about her?
LAURIE: She’s just so happy and uplifting.
JESSICA: That’s totally what she seems like from her all videos and her Instagram and all that stuff. So take us through a typical day for you. What’s a normal day in the life of Laurie Hernandez?
LAURIE: Well I get up at around 7 and I get ready for practice. We leave the house at 8. Practice starts at 8:30. We do practice from 8:30 to 12:30 and then we have school from 12:30 to 2:45 and then we have our second practice from 2:45 to 5:15.
JESSICA: So you do homeschool?
JESSICA: And how long have you been doing homeschooling?
LAURIE: Since third grade.
JESSICA: Do you miss regular school?
LAURIE: Um not too much. I’m a fan of homeschool.
JESSICA: Nice! It sounds like you have a group that you do school with. How many other gymnasts are there or athletes?
LAURIE: Hmm I’d say around 10 to 12.
JESSICA: Oh that’s a nice sized group all together.
JESSICA: So what do you do in the evening?
LAURIE: Usually when I get home, like any other school day, I finish up homework, take a shower, eat dinner with the family and then we go to bed. But if it’s summer, I probably just chill with my family in the family room until we all knock out on the couch.
JESSICA: Excellent. Do you have a favorite TV show that you like to watch or something you guys like to do at night?
LAURIE: I like to watch Dance Moms.
JESSICA: Tell me about that show. Because I cannot watch it. It’s totally disturbing to me. Tell me why you like it.
LAURIE: Well I only watch it here and there but the TV show is running everywhere in the gym and everyone’s talking about it. So like here and there, if it’s on, I’ll watch it. It’s a whole bunch of girls and a whole lot of drama.
JESSICA: Do you think there should be a show about gymnastics like that?
LAURIE: Maybe. That’d probably be fun for gym fans.
JESSICA: I think so. What if it was at the Ranch?
LAURIE: That’d be interesting.
JESSICA: Where do you think the cameras should be if they want to catch the most interesting moments at the Ranch? Would it be like in Larry’s room when everyone’s icing? Would it be in the gym with Martha?
LAURIE: Probably Larry’s room because that’s where everybody’s laughing and cracking jokes. Those are the best ones.
JESSICA: So who is the jokester there? Who is the one who is always cracking jokes and keeping everybody laughing at the Ranch?
LAURIE: Hmm. Probably Simone Biles.
JESSICA: That’s what it seems like. Her and Ohashi seem like they’re the big jokesters. Does Martha ever make jokes?
LAURIE: Um not too much.
JESSICA: She’s pretty serious.
JESSICA: So even after practice, no jokes?
LAURIE: Um no.
JESSICA: I feel like you know when you’ve done a good job because Martha will like put her hands on your face and hold people’s necks like little kittens.
LAURIE: Yep that’s true.
JESSICA: Do you feel like when you see her hands coming out that you know you’ve done a good job? Or does it worry you? Like uh oh she’s going to give me a correction?
LAURIE: Well I always look for corrections. But it’s either she puts her hands on your face and says ok I definitely want more or okay that was very good. So you should be expecting either one of those.
JESSICA: What was it like the very first time you went to the Ranch? Were you nervous? How old were you when you went?
LAURIE: I was 9 years old on my first camp. It was a developmental camp.
JESSICA: And were you nervous? Were you excited? What were you thinking when you went?
LAURIE: I was just excited actually. I had no clue what was going on.
JESSICA: And how was your very first camp? Was it harder than you thought? Easier? Was it just exciting all around?
LAURIE: It was exciting all around.
JESSICA: What was the most surprising part about being there?
LAURIE: Probably that I just had a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun.
JESSICA: That is so great to hear. Over the last year, I feel like you’ve made huge progress. Huge changes. You are doing all these new skills. You’re doing a double Arabian on floor. You have a full in on floor. You’ve added a series on beam. What skill are you most excited about that you learned this past year?
LAURIE: Probably a stalder Hecht on bars.
JESSICA: How long did it take you to learn that?
LAURIE: Definitely a couple of months. I’d say around like five months.
JESSICA: Is that one of the hardest skills you’ve ever learned?
LAURIE: It’s not hard. It’s just time consuming.
JESSICA: That seems like one that it’s all timing and it’s so precise. What was the hardest skill you’ve ever learned? Like even from when you very first started gymnastics? What took you the longest?
LAURIE: Longest skill? Probably my Pak. I had a really hard time with it because I couldn’t get my timing right.
JESSICA: Have you ever had some big wipeouts doing that skill?
LAURIE: Yes I have. I can’t say I haven’t.
JESSICA: Have they been like the ones where you just splat on your stomach because you miss the bar? Or the ones where you catch and fling off the other side?
LAURIE: Actually one time I was doing a Pak and I went to reach for the bar and both my hands miss the low bar and I hit my mouth on the bar and my four bottom teeth shifted backwards.
JESSICA: Oh no!
LAURIE: I could only drink liquids for a month.
JESSICA: Did your teeth go back in place?
LAURIE: Yeah they did.
JESSICA: Wait was that when you had braces or after you had braces?
LAURIE: Actually it was before I had braces.
JESSICA: I was going to say, man if you’d already had braces and your teeth were all perfect and then that happened
LAURIE: Oh an incident did happen with that though.
JESSICA: Oh what happened?
LAURIE: There’s a spring tied to a string and you wrap it around a rope so that way you can tumble under them. When you pull the other side of the string, the ropes go up. I didn’t tie it tight enough, and it unraveled and three days after I got my braces off, the spring came out and I hit my front tooth and I now have braces for two more months. So I have had one of those.
JESSICA: I’ve never heard of so many mouth injuries in gymnastics.
LAURIE: Oh yeah there’s a lot of them.
JESSICA: But I guess you’re in good company. Horton, he landed face first on the bar once at Winter Cup and then Danell Leyva at Worlds in Tokyo, he landed face first as well on high bar.
LAURIE: Oh wow.
JESSICA: So basically that means you’re a very accomplished gymnast and you’re in great company because only the best whack their face on things in gymnastics. That’s what I think.
LAURIE: Yeah you gotta whack your face sometimes.
JESSICA: What’s your all time worst or funniest wipeout in gymnastics?
LAURIE: Actually this one’s pretty funny. I was doing a swing from my elbow and I was doing run hurdles on vault. And I went to do a run hurdle and my friend moved the sting mat and I tripped over the string mat and I penguin flipped down the floor.
LAURIE: It was really funny.
JESSICA: So let’s go back to this year and your changes. You seem so much more confident. In preparation for this interview, I was kind of looking at your old routines and looking at your very first elite qualifier. You fell twice on beam. And now you seem so much more confident. At the Parkettes meet, the qualifier this year, you looked so confident on beam, just more commanding.
LAURIE: Thank you!
JESSICA: Oh you’re welcome! So what has changed? Your confidence, have you been working more on it? Tell me about it.
LAURIE: Probably just my mindset on everything. I learn to look at things differently. It just seems a whole lot easier.
JESSICA: When you say you look at things differently, what do you mean by that?
LAURIE: Like instead of saying push through this leg, that way you can stay straight, I say push through both legs and move my arms up more, on my flight on beam let’s say. Push through both legs that way I stay straight instead of moving from one to the other so I can stay on that beam.
JESSICA: Tell me about vault. Because it seemed a little bit like when you were younger maybe you didn’t have as much power on vault. I mean you’re incredibly powerful but it seemed like the vault being almost twice the size of you was a bit much. So now you have a double twisting Yurchenko. How has vault been in learning that? Do you feel like you have a little more power? Are you a little bit taller now?
50:28-end (Laurie “Well I was really really short…”)
LAURIE: Well I was really really short, and I still am really short, so vault was a bit tough back then. But I guess I grew a little bit, but I also am a lot stronger than I was before. So vault is now getting a bit easier.
JESSICA: I’m kind of interested in how your floor routines and beam routines come together. What kind of- like do you have any input? Does she just give you the moves? Or does she give you an idea and then you go for it? Or is she totally precise, like “Do it exactly like this”?
LAURIE: Well she picks- like we both decide on the music that we both enjoy. And she does all the dance. And if I do it in someway different and she likes it we’ll leave it in there. We both work together for the choreography, but she does most of the-
JESSICA: I like it. So it’s a little bit of partnership.
LAURIE: Yeah she changes it every week though.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] That’s the sign of a great choreographer, always perfecting things instead of leaving it. What about- even when you were a little kid, not that it was so long ago, but still I mean it’s a difference. You’re a teenager now pretty much. When you were little, you never did like little cutesy routines. You always had very mature routines. But it totally fit you. I mean they are very dramatic, you know what I mean?
JESSICA: Is that something that you always wanted to do? Is that just your personality? Or is it something like were you just like, “Cutesy is not for me. I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to pretend like pigtails and bunny hops. That’s not for me.”
LAURIE: Yeah that’s exactly what it is. I’m not a fan of little bunny hops down the floor and little pigtails and running through the flowers. No I’m there so I have to perform for it.
JESSICA: I gotcha. Well you definitely do amazingly well. It really makes you stand out.
LAURIE: Thank you.
JESSICA: You’re welcome. What are your goals for this year?
LAURIE: My goal is to- well because I’ve just been added to National Team, the goal is to stay National Team and hit four for four.
JESSICA: Yes congratulations that’s so exciting!
LAURIE: Thank you
JESSICA: So how did you find out that you were named to the team?
LAURIE: Well at camps we always line up at the end of practice. And once we were about to close up and all run off and put our clothes on, go leave and stuff, Martha said, “We have one more announcement.” And she grabbed a plaque and she called my name and said, “We have just added Laurie Hernandez to National Team.” And I wanted to freak out and jump in circles but I couldn’t because Martha was right there. But I’ve been waiting to be added and I worked hard and I’m really excited I got added.
JESSICA: That’s so cool! So you didn’t even know, it was a total surprise?
LAURIE: Yeah I’ve been finishing top three at four or five camps now. So I’m just working on consistency.
JESSICA: Definitely. And I think you’ve come a long way just from last year I feel like with your consistency. So one more question I want to ask about camp while we’re on the subject, some other girls that we’ve had on the show like Ebee and Simone have told us about their wildlife encounters at camp.
JESSICA: So tell us have you- it sounds like you’ve had some unexpected maybe wildlife encounters at camp?
LAURIE: Well Polina Shchennikova told me that one time she went to take a picture with camels with her mom and her sister and her mom said, “Oh get down sit next to the camel, smile, get ready for the picture.” And the camel just scooped his head up and went to jump on Polina. She ran.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Those camels sound like they’re scary. That’s what Ebee said they were chased by camels one day.
LAURIE: Yeah camels can run really fast, I’m actually really surprised at it.
JESSICA: The other thing I wondered about, when I watch you, you always seem to have a leo that has a cutout in the back. Either square cutouts or circular open back. Is that your trademark? Is that something that you decided with your coach? Does that come from you? Is it a conscious decision?
LAURIE: No it’s a really pretty design for a leotard to have.
JESSICA: So just something you like? Very good. Well I think it should be your trademark and you should do it forever because it totally makes you stand out.
JESSICA: But that’s just my personal opinion which I like to tell everybody my opinion. [LAUGHS] So that’s that. You’re one of the few elites to come out of New Jersey. I think there was, who am I thinking of, blonde… Alyssa Beckerman, 2000 Olympics. That is the only other person I could think. Girl from New Jersey. There’s some boys. Some National Team boys from your gym.
JESSICA: Yeah is there something special? Do you feel like you’re representing your state when you compete?
LAURIE: Yeah I do feel that way and I hope that’s what it seems like too.
JESSICA: Yeah it definitely does. You definitely bring something totally unique to gymnastics. And I want to thank you for that because you make gymnastics more fun to watch.
LAURIE: Thank you
JESSICA: You’re welcome. Well that’s pretty much all the questions that I have for you. Is there anything else that you want to talk about or anything you’d like your fans to know?
LAURIE: No that’s pretty much it. But I love them all!
JESSICA: Yay! They’ll be happy to hear that. Are you on Twitter or Instagram or is there anywhere they can follow you if they want to?
LAURIE: Yes I am. I’m on Twitter. My username is LaurieLaurenH02. And my Instagram is LaurieHernandez_
JESSICA: Ok excellent. When your interview goes up I will put up a link to those so that your fans can follow you. Awesome.
LAURIE: Thank you
JESSICA: Congratulations again on being on the National Team. We can’t wait to see what you do this season.
LAURIE: Thank you
JESSICA: You’re welcome. She is just the sweetest!
MAGGIE: She’s so cute. She’s over here looking at me like, “What do I say?”
JESSICA: Ok so I’m going to hand you over to Blythe and she’ll take it from here
BLYTHE: Alright well Maggie you’ve already given us a really interesting factoid about Laurie. So she started competing when she was 7 and she was in level 6 at age 9. And by the time she was 11 was elite. Is that correct?
MAGGIE: Yeah Laurie actually started a little bit late. My sister was her recreational class teacher. And she found her and said, “Maggie she can go with the level 3s. She’s good enough.” And I’m thinking there’s no way this kid is good enough just to jump into the level 3 group. Well, it turns out she was. So she started competing level 4 when she was 7. Then I kept her with her group and she did level 5. Then I kept her with her group and she did level 6. And I started noticing wait, she’s way too good to move this slow through the levels. So we skipped her through level 7. She did level 8 and actually won level 8 regionals that year. Then I scored her out of level 9 and she went right into level 10 then qualified right into elite by the time she was 11. So she moved 9 years old to 11 years old she moved through literally all the levels at one time.
BLYTHE: Have you ever had a gymnast before who has done that? Who has just gone through that fast?
MAGGIE: No. I did it with one girl before. She did level 4 then the next year she did level 8. But in the end with her, all the other kids who took their time and moved through the levels ended up catching her. So it really wasn’t in her benefit. And I guess this wasn’t really in my plans with Laurie. But when she was 9 she did TOPs for the first time and actually was the number one TOPs kid in the country. And that’s when I realized wait a second, this kid is good. I knew she was good, but I didn’t think she was good good until I realized she was the top TOPs kid in the country. So I said let me start pushing her. Let me see where she can go. And we just learned skill after skill after skill. And every level I put her into I’m thinking, “She’s not ready.” Even level 8 her first meet, she did a tucked yurchenko right to her face. And I’m going she’s never going to make it through level 8. And by the end of the year she won her state meet and she won regionals. So ok, she can do this you know. So I kept pushing her on skills and she kept getting them and I wasn’t going to hold her back. That doesn’t make any sense. If she’s ready I have to let her go. So that’s how she got there so fast.
BLYTHE: And Maggie maybe you can just tell us a little bit about Laurie as a gymnast and as a person. You know what are some of her best qualities and what she’s like to work with in the gym.
MAGGIE: I think the thing that makes Laurie special is she’s a really happy kid and a really positive person. She definitely gets that from her mom and her sister. That’s kind of how her whole family is. So working with her in the gym is pretty easy because she comes in every day happy and with a smile on her face. No matter how bad the day before was, she walks in every day, she comes over, she waves to me says hi and she’s smiling every day. That’s really refreshing for me to work with her because everyday is a fresh day. Every event even is a new start. And she’s really excited to be in the gym. Every time I say, “Ok we’re adding a practice day, you have to stay an extra hour,” it’s never a problem for her. She’s never one of those kids who’s like, “Ugh, can I get out of here?” You have those kids they’re ready to leave the gym and no matter what I put on her plate, she’s up for it. And she’s ready for it. And that makes it really easy for me because we have big goals and I don’t mind being in the gym all day every day with her because she’s happy to be there. So that makes my job much easier definitely.
BLYTHE: I see. And you know she’s come so far in the past couple of years. I’ve got to ask, as a coach, do you worry about burnout?
MAGGIE: Not with her, I really don’t. Because we have- 2016 is the year that she turns 16. She’s barely actually will be 16. Her birthday is not until the end of June. So for her, her time is now really. We don’t have a five year plan or a six year plan. We’re down to a three year plan at this point. So she knows she has to give it her all and I know I have to give it my all with her. And now is the time, there’s really no slowing down. As soon as Visas is over we have to get right into new skills to get ready for next year. I don’t worry about burnout with her because she’s really focused. And like I said before, she doesn’t mind being in the gym. And we don’t have a long time frame. I know three years sounds like a long time but it goes by so quick that she knows now is the time. I don’t get to go slow with her at this point. So.
BLYTHE: And she has just impressed the gymternet, as we like to call it, with her performances. With the beautiful dance, the beautiful wrists, the toes. She performs. And not everybody, especially at the junior level, really performs like that. And so what we want to know is who is responsible for all of that? For the wrists and the knees and the toes, and just the great package that she presents as a gymnast.
MAGGIE: Well it’s a combination of both of us. She is naturally- she really doesn’t have a weakness I don’t think physically. I would like for her to be a little more powerful. But she has legs that go all the way straight and she has nice toe point. She can pull her ribs in on a handstand and she has nice flexibility, so that gives me something to work with. But I am very very neurotic apparently. I didn’t even know how insane I was until college coaches come into the gym or something and they’re like, “Oh my god you see everything.” So I’m really picky on every detail. I notice the hands, I notice her thumb being in or her thumb being out or her left foot being turned in or her back foot not pointing. I notice all of that stuff and anything not perfect is like nails on a chalkboard to me. So she makes it easy for me to work with, but as far as dance, we spend a lot of time on it. And I’m constantly, I know she had said earlier, I’m constantly changing her routine. Literally every week I change one pose or we go through and we drop your shoulder here, look over here, make this face here. So all that stuff believe it or not is kind of choreographed in. Even the faces she’s supposed to make, where she’s supposed to look, where her left hand is supposed to be. It’s all choreographed in because I’m pretty crazy about that stuff. But she makes it easy and she loves to dance. So it’s a good combination of my being neurotic and her loving to perform. It works out and that’s how you get that good floor routine in the end.
BLYTHE: And has she always been a performer or was that something that evolved over time?
MAGGIE: I would say yes, she was always a performer. She went through the compulsories and that was pretty simple. And then her first floor routine was really really wiggly. She was 9 and I had really good music for her. And she liked to dance so we kind of went crazy with it. And then I had to go back and actually give her another routine and calm it down and make it a little more elite-like, let’s say. So that Martha and everybody liked it. But she definitely always likes to perform and I’m very big on dance. I’ve always been really big into dance. I just think if you’re not dancing and showing presentation on beam and floor, you’re going to get beat. I don’t want to watch the kids that are boring to me. And I don’t like the cookie cutter cutesy shake your butt kind of thing. I would never give her that style of routine. So she has a lot of flexibility and that makes it easy to work with. And she likes to wiggle, so it’s easy to do a floor routine for her because she’s very good at dance. And it makes my job easier. But it’s stressful too because I know now, I didn’t realize two years ago when I gave her a routine, but now everybody’s watching. Everybody’s waiting for her new floor routines and stuff. So this summer I just gave her a routine and that was really stressful for me because I kind of realized ok everybody’s going to be watching and looking for this routine. So it took me a long time to get the routine done and we did it piece by piece. Hopefully everybody will love it. I think it’s very good.
BLYTHE: What sort of dance training do you guys do? Is it like ballet a few times a week? Or are you studying other types of dance as well at the same time?
MAGGIE: Well I should say this because if Martha hears this interview she won’t be happy. But we actually don’t do any formal dance training. What I do is I just make up their routines, all the kids. And then I make sure their actual routine is done to the max. Like done the best that they can do it. So I would say that most of the kids on my team, they really can’t dance. They can’t go do ballet barre. I can honestly tell you I don’t even know- I shouldn’t say this but I don’t even know if Laurie knows the ballet positions, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth. I don’t even know if she knows them. But she can do her floor routine like you know to the max, and that’s kind of the same with all my kids. We don’t do ballet barre, we don’t do jazz or anything like that. But I make up their routine, then I spend time making sure that every finger is in the right place and the snap their head where they’re supposed to and their left foot is turned out if it’s supposed to be turned out. Every pose, this is what I always say to the girls, is every position that they’re in, it should be on the cover of a magazine. And I kind of think that’s what happens with Laurie. Every time she’s moving in and out of a pose, every pose that she’s in, hopefully the picture is pretty enough that it could be on the cover of USA Gymnastics or something like that. That’s kind of the way I point it to them in the gym.
BLYTHE: That totally makes sense
MAGGIE: [LAUGHS] I think so
BLYTHE: So what about competitiveness? You know some kids, talented as they are in the gym, the lights go down and you’ve got to do it in the moment. Would you describe her as a competitive gymnast?
MAGGIE: That’s an interesting question because when she was going through the levels I would say absolutely yes. When she did her level 4 and 7 and all that I would say yes, very very competitive. She was at level 8 regionals one time and she was warming up her big old back handspring back handspring, and she slipped and busted her face and had like a huge gash on her face. And then went to beam and hit her beam routine and won the meet. So I would say there was a time when she was very competitive, and I feel like last year she was coming off of a fractured wrist. She really didn’t have the numbers behind her to be fully prepared. And I don’t think either one of us really kind of knew what we were in for either. Like understanding how consistent you really have to be at the elite level, like 8 out of 10 times or even 9 out of 10 really isn’t good enough. So we hadn’t done the numbers that we needed and she went to Championships and it really wasn’t a very good meet for her at all. And then we had a couple camps after that, our first National Team camps, and we were trying a lot of different skills, a lot of combinations, much harder skills actually than she’s doing now. So she didn’t hit those first couple camps and I think for a while honestly Martha was starting to question if she was competitive and if she could hit. And then now what we’ve done is I’ve gone back and I’ve made her routines a little bit easier. I changed the style of tumbling that she’s doing on floor. Thanks a lot to Mihai, has been a big help with direction with which direction to go with her on floor. And then now she’s hit the last four or five camps in a row. We just did a full routine verification at this last camp and she hit four for four and finished second out of all the juniors. And she completed at Parkettes a couple weeks ago and she won that meet and hit four for four. So I think now that I have her routines designed the right way and she’s done the numbers, I would say she’s definitely a competitive kid. And interesting story at the camp we just had we were warming up bars for verification and her grip actually ripped in half. And she flew off the bar. She got up and was like in a panic because her grip was ripped. So she ran over, grabbed another pair of grips that were not broken in. She had used them one day to do giants. And she got up, did a couple sets of giants, and that was it. It was time to compete. And she actually hit her bar routine, having never done any of her skills in those grips. And to me that really showed me that alright, she’s good now, she’s competitive, and she can do this any time anywhere. So that was kind of a big confidence boost for both of us I think.
BLYTHE: Definitely. Now, we see artistic gymnasts in the US, you know you talk about Ivana Hong, Courtney McCool, Nastia Liukin to some extent, and they have terrific routines. But if you get closer to that Olympic period and we’ve seen this internationally as well, there seems to be a bit of the coaches taking out some of the artistry, some of the artistic components and replacing it with whatever you need to do to get that extra two tenths, three tenths of bonus in that routine. Do you feel like with Laurie, is there a worry that if she progresses and as we get closer to Rio, there’s going to be pressure to replace some of the really special things in the routine with you know a gym acro combination that will get an extra two tenths, that kind of thing? And how would you deal with that?
MAGGIE: I mean I guess that could always happen. But I think that we can try to do both as long as we can. I think that as long as I’m going to try to push to do both, to try to up her start values and have everything she needs in there, but yet still keep the artistry component of it. Because the good thing with Laurie is even, this sounds silly, but even if she’s just standing there or she’s in a pose, honestly she looks beautiful because every detail of it is done the right way. So I think I could take out a little bit of the artistry and she would still look gorgeous. But I would like to keep both sides of it. Now she’s never competed internationally yet, so it will be interesting to see what happens when she goes internationally, how her artistry is perceived. Because I guess some people could hate it. It’s a little bit different. It’s a little bit flashy. It’s a little bit sharp and aggressive and they might not like it. So hopefully it goes over well and they don’t come back to me and say, “You have to make it softer, make it less, this and that.” Because that would kind of be disappointing to me because I think her style is perfect for her. So hopefully it goes over well.
BLYTHE: Absolutely. So would the strategy for you guys, once you get to that international place where you are competing, would it to be- to have the least execution deductions possible rather than having just a routine that’s packed with difficulty?
MAGGIE: Yeah absolutely. She’s not Simone Biles, who can do double double and all this and that. She is not quite as powerful. She’s very good and her tumbling is good and everything, but we actually are using a little bit more of the leaps and jumps to start her start value. And elite gymnastics, you have to have three leaps and jumps that count but you’re allowed to have more. And right now in her floor routine I’ve actually added a fourth leap and jump. So she’s using, to get her start value on jump let’s say, she’s using four leaps and jumps and four acro skills. So it actually gives her a pretty high start value, not doing the hardest tumbling. And I think that’s kind of going to be our plan all along. Martha has said to me to follow the path that Kyla Ross follows. She was young when she made the Olympics, and she was perfectly clean and she was beautiful and she hit her routines over and over and over. And that’s kind of the path that, or the direction that Martha kind of steered me with Laurie. I think she can see her doing that kind of gymnastics. And that’s kind of the direction we’re going. I told Laurie, “Anything less than a 9.0 execution score is just not good enough.” Because there’s no reason, as crazy as I am with the shapes and the pirouetting in a handstand, and the feet pointed and the flexibility and this and that, there’s no reason that she should score below a 9.0 execution. So if I can get her start values high enough and consistent enough, and keep anything about a 9.0 in execution, I think she should be able to compete with anybody around. That’s kind of the plan.
BLYTHE: And when you’re in the gym day in, day out with her, what’s one thing that you’re always having to tell her? What’s the biggest advice that you give her?
MAGGIE: To concentrate. To focus. Because she is a little bit young and she has kind of crazy personality and she likes to get a little goofy and stuff, and she doesn’t fully understand the level of gymnastics that she’s going to. So sometimes for her it’s ok to miss three reverse hechts in a row, and it’s really not ok at this point. So the biggest thing that I have to tell her is to focus. To stop and to pay attention and to stop listening to the radio or stop talking to her teammates in between her turns and to pay attention. To keep her eyes on the beam. And you can make one mistake but then the next turn you have to fix it. And sometimes she just gets going and doesn’t fully pay attention to what she’s doing and totally controlling her body. And that’s probably the biggest thing she needs to work on right now, so that’s what we talk about in the gym is paying attention and controlling and focusing on what she’s doing.
BLYTHE: And at the same time, do you think it’s a good thing that maybe she’s not quite cognizant of how high her level is and how good she really is?
MAGGIE: Absolutely. I definitely think I have her- I want her to be unaware pretty much. So she really doesn’t know and her family really doesn’t know really where it’s going. And I think it’s better for her because it takes some of the pressure off. You know? It’s too much. She just turned 13 last month. So to understand what’s expected of her to the extent that I’m expecting things from her would be probably too much for a 13 year old to comprehend at this point.
BLYTHE: So I’ve got to ask, is she standing right next to you like looking at you with wide eyes?
MAGGIE: Yes she’s laying on the couch listening to me
BLYTHE: What about her size? She herself said she’s very very short. Has that been a problem for power on the vault or even low to high transitions on bars?
MAGGIE: Yeah I mean she’s little but I think over the last year and a half she’s actually grown a lot. And she had some injuries in there that were due to growing. She had some stress fracture growth plate issues and some tendonitis and stuff like that because she has grown a lot over the last year and a half. I don’t think it affects her gymnastics too much. Vault is definitely her weakest event. But that’s because she’s not the most powerful kid around. And she doesn’t always stay tight on vault. So when I can get her to tighten up and squeeze her legs and her butt and her arms and all that kind of stuff, then she’s going to start to fly on vault. But I don’t think she struggles with it too much because of size. Most gymnasts are short, we like short gymnasts because then they’re good on bars and they can tumble and that kind of stuff, but I don’t think it affects her too much. I just hope she doesn’t grow too much more because her dad and her brother are both like six feet tall. But then her mom and her sister are barely five feet. So I’m hoping she follows the girls side of her family and stays little like she is right now.
BLYTHE: We saw a very impressive double twisting yurchenko from her at the Parkettes meet just a couple months ago. Do you feel pressure to start doing Amanars because the last four years with USA gymnastics, that seems to be what could be a deciding factor along with a few other things about making the top international teams.
MAGGIE: Yeah you know right now to be honest, the double full is still hard for her. That’s my biggest concern as far as her competitions coming up is her vault. Because you don’t get any redos and it’s one event it’s everything. So right now we haven’t even talked about it or thought about it. I think she’s a good year at least away from even starting to train the 2.5 to be honest. I don’t see that in her near future. As far as a deciding factor, you know you look at our country, we have a lot of big vaulters. I don’t know if she would be for vault in the future. For me I need to make sure that she’s good on bars and she’s good on floor and she’s consistent on beam because our country is a little bit weak on bars. And right now there’s no reason that Laurie should be weak on bars. She has the body shape and she has nice handstands and she can swing. So we spend a lot of time on bars. The way she dances on floor obviously I have to make sure she’s a top floor worker. And then you just always need that consistency on beam. So I wouldn’t say that it’s not that we’re not focusing on vault, but right now now that’s not her strength. So I have to do enough right now to keep her in the mix when it comes to vault. A 2.5 is something of the long future for her. It’s not coming up any time soon.
BLYTHE: Definitely makes sense. And I would like to ask you about yourself as well. We looked up your bio and we did a little research before the interview. And now you are from Texas. Yeah we turned up interesting factoids as well. And you went to North Carolina State for gymnastics is that correct?
BLYTHE: And interesting, you were the first North Carolina State gymnast to ever record a perfect 10 for the school.
MAGGIE: That is true.
BLYTHE: Can you tell us a little bit about your own experiences in gymnastics and doing college gymnastics and what you feel that it has brought you as a coach today? And as the coach of a top level international athlete.
MAGGIE: Yeah I did grow up in Texas and I got a full scholarship to North Carolina State and I had a great experience there. And yes I was the first gymnast ever to get a 10. I got it on beam. I got a 10 on beam. And then me and my big mouth, I made the comment to the newspapers, “Well now I got one on beam and I’m going to get one on floor.” And so for me any time I say that I’m going to do something or I put it in writing, then it has to be done. So then I turned around I think a year later and I got a 10 on floor. And I think, I mean that was cool, no one else can be the first person to do that so that was something cool. And I’m the only one that has 10s on two different events from my school so that was also cool. I think that kind of shows you the details that I’m talking about. Like I understand that every little thing has to be perfect. And I’ve definitely taken my gymnastics and trying to do everything perfect and maxed out and I transfer it to the kids that I coach. To Laurie and the other girls. And I think one of the reason that I got those 10s on bars- or on beam and floor is because of the artistry that I used as a gymnast. And now that’s the same thing that I’ve taken over to the kids that I coach. Because anybody can do the tumbling and the skills and stuff but I think to be like the top of the top and to really excel on beam and floor, you have to do something different. You have to stand out somehow and that’s where the artistry part of it has to be there. And that’s what I did as a gymnast and that’s what I’m expecting my kids to do while they’re competing.
BLYTHE: And we ask every coach that comes on the show this question. Everyone has positive and negative experiences in sports just like in life. And can you tell us what positive parts of your gymnastics life and past coaches and the things that you had do you bring to your coaching now? And what negative experiences did you have that you want to make sure that Laurie doesn’t have?
MAGGIE: Well I think that all the kids have to learn how to win and how to lose. And they have to learn the successes and the failures. And unfortunately everybody kind of goes through that as a gymnast or as an athlete or really in life. And I think that’s something that Laurie’s been on top and she’s been on bottom. And I think you kind of have to be at the bottom and get your butt kicked and not have success to then appreciate the success when you have it. And I’m ok for her to not always be on top because I just think you have to know what to work up toward. And as a gymnast I definitely had my moments where I was a great gymnast and I did things. And then I had other times where I didn’t qualify for certain competitions and this and that. And I think that’s just life, and I think that’s a really important lesson for her to learn. And it’s something that I learned and unfortunately everybody has to go through that as an athlete.
BLYTHE: And when did you decide that coaching was the thing for you? And how did you end up in New Jersey?
MAGGIE: Well I said I was never going to coach. When I was done with college gymnastics I was done. I’m like that’s it, I hate this sport, I’m never doing it. And my fiance, we’ve been together almost 16 years, he was actually a football player at North Carolina State. And he moved back to New Jersey where he grew up. So we did the whole long distance relationship thing. I stayed at NC State and finished my gymnastics, and he came back to New Jersey and played football. So when I graduated I was like do I stay in North Carolina? No. Or do I go back to Texas with my family? I don’t want to do that. So I moved here and we’re still together. And that’s why I ended up in New Jersey. And he was away at football camp and I was sitting at home on Friday night and I was just bored. Really really bored. And I’m like I’ll look in the phone book, that’s how long ago this was. I looked in the phone book and I started calling gyms and I’m like, “Do you guys have any level 10s? Anybody need a coach?” And this one gym called World Wide, he said, “Sure come on in.” And actually I went in that Friday night and Kristie Phillips was in their gym doing choreography. And I thought that was pretty cool. So I went into the gym that day then I went back the next day and I went back the next day and that was it. That’s how I became a coach.
BLYTHE: I see. And at the end of your NCAA career, your sentiment was “I hate this sport”?
MAGGIE: You know I was a little burnt out to be honest. I was kind of over it and I was done. And I had a really good club experience as a gymnast and I had great coaches. And I went to college and I was a little bit burnt out. But then I had a great time in college. And by the time I was 22 it had kind of been my life. And I thought for sure I was done with this. I wasn’t interested in the sport anymore. And I got a real job. I got a job in sales. And let me tell you, I worked for some company for like six months and I didn’t sell anything. It was the worst. I was horrible. And I had started going into the gym and I would be sitting in the office and I would be writing out the girls’ workout that day. So then I would just leave my regular job early and then the next day I would leave a little bit earlier then I would leave a little bit earlier just to get to the gym on time. Then I got a group of girls, I started working with them. Then I don’t know it sucked me in and that was it. And now I think I love gymnastics and I’m more obsessed with gymnastics now than I ever ever was as a gymnast. Because it’s just so different, being a gymnast and being a coach. I think it’s much more stressful being a coach. [LAUGHS]
BLYTHE: But it’s good for the athletes that they have a coach that they can- that they know has been there. Like in the same position as they are in.
MAGGIE: Yeah I think they know- I think the thing that my kids know is that I will work very very hard in the gym. I’ll do anything for them as long as they’re doing the work. And I think that’s something my kids know. I actually just had a little boy, he’s four weeks old. And I had him on a Monday and had a C section. And that Saturday I was in the gym with the kids. Laurie and her two other teammates who are elite. And I think that that’s something my kids know about me is as long as they’re working and trying their hardest, even if they can’t get it or they’re having a bad day, I’ll do anything to help them. You know to motivate them, to encourage them, to spot them, whatever they need. I’m a really hard worker and so I expect them to work really hard. So it’s kind of like to see the environment in our gym and I think it kind of comes from me. Then they follow my lead and the kids work really hard in the gym.
BLYTHE: Wow. C-section on Monday and back in the gym on Saturday.
MAGGIE: Yeah I can’t say it was smart
BLYTHE: [inaudible] devotion [LAUGHS]
MAGGIE: I can’t tell you it was smart, but that’s what I did. And actually was in the gym the day before I had him too. I was- went into the gym on Sunday. I had a scheduled C-section n Monday. We went into the gym Monday-Sunday the week before that. I had him on Monday. And then yeah we were back in on Saturday.
MAGGIE: [inaudible] elite level you don’t get time off
BLYTHE: Very true. Is there like a piece of music that you could see Laurie doing that you have in mind that you’re like, “This is for two, three years down the road?”
MAGGIE: Yeah I have her music already for 2015-2016. I’ve had it for two years already.
MAGGIE: I had to wait because it’s a little too mature for her. And I didn’t want to you know- I didn’t want to bring it on yet. But I already have her music for 2015.
BLYTHE: Has she listened to it yet?
MAGGIE: You know what, she’s heard it a year ago. I don’t know if she’s heard it recently. But she won’t argue with me. Anything I give her she’ll like. I know she will.
JESSICA: That’s awesome.
BLYTHE: Alright we’re not going to ask you for the title because we don’t want to spoil it.
MAGGIE: Yeah I can’t give that away. You would never guess it. I can’t give it away though because you know it’s a big surprise.
JESSICA: Top secret! Ooh I’m already looking forward to it!
MAGGIE: [LAUGHS] Well she has to keep this one for this year and next year then we’ll do a new one for ‘15 and ‘16. But it’ll be good don’t worry.
JESSICA: I love that you change your routines up too. Because when people keep a routine for like four years, I’m like seriously? Seriously. It’s just
MAGGIE: Yeah no we usually do two years and I went ahead- I think the year of an Olympic year, you don’t want to come out with a new routine
MAGGIE: I think the fans need to know it and like it already. And then she needs to have the experience of having done the routine for a year so it’s simple and second nature. So when I gave her a new one this year, the plan was ‘13 and ‘14 and then a new one for ‘15 and ‘16. So, I got it all worked out.
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JESSICA: It’s time for listener feedback and this week in gymnastics. Who’s our international shout out of the week go to?
UNCLE TIM: It goes to our active Twitter listener from the UK, Shona. So thank you for all your comments Shona and for listening to our podcast. Alright Jess so what’s happening this week in gymnastics?
JESSICA: Well I just saw a story about geothermal energy in a school where there are gymnastics classes during the summer. You know I’m all about preparing the gymnastics world for the effects of climate change. So if you’re not familiar with geothermal energy, what it is is basically you dig a big hole in the ground and you funnel the air from the ground into your building. And this is a way of keeping the temperature in your building constant. So for example the underground air is going to be like normally 50 degrees or something. So depending on where you are. So that way you can keep your temperature in your building at a constant 50 degrees during the winter, during the summer, whatever. So it’s basically a super easy way to use energy that already exists and just tapping into it instead of having to use a giant fan or solar or electric or coal or something to manage the temperature. And for- we talked about last summer, Jordyn was training for the Olympics and it got up over 100 degrees in Michigan. This can be a huge money saver for the gym. And you won’t have to worry about heat stroke for your gymnasts. So. Another thing that I saw this week is that a county in Utah is calling for regulation trampoline gyms. And I mean Uncle Tim do you remember the days when none of these gyms existed and you could barely find a trampoline anywhere because of all the liability lawsuits?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah yeah. And I think if I’m not mistaken, the article is talking about those trampoline parks, not necessarily an elite level training center. Am I correct Jess?
JESSICA: Yeah exactly. They’re talking about all these new places that have opened up where it’s basically an entire gym just with trampolines and it’s not a gymnastics gym, it’s a place where they have dodgeball, they have people all running around on trampolines. They’re not competitive trampolines. They’re those small black trampolines. So I’m all for this county health department calling and the doctors at the local ER calling for regulation of these gyms because they are super dangerous. If any of you have been to them, I’m sure you’ve seen the ambulance called. I’ve been twice to the one near my house and twice the ambulance was called. So they’re super dangerous and people don’t respect the trampolines and they don’t get proper training. And I think they’re really unsafe. And since I would like trampolines to stick around and not to be banned or go out of fashion again because there’s so many lawsuits, I would love to see some kind of regulation or self regulation within the industry so that doesn’t happen again. In other news, happy news, Gymnastike has a new series with Simone Biles. If you guys haven’t watched it yet, please do. It’s so adorable. It’s so great. We get a little more in depth from the interview that we did with her and her coaches. You get to see her house, you get to see her room. She is so cute. Like it is just out of control. It’s-
UNCLE TIM: Yeah. And her house is like the gymnastics version of MTV Cribs pretty much.
JESSICA: It totally is. I was like oh my god I need to move to Texas. This place is like a mansion. Gymnastics mansion. And of course also coming up next on Gymastike is a series about Chow’s gym where Shawn Johnson and of course Gabby Douglas are from in Iowa. And I can’t wait to see that because I’m fascinated by how they train and Chow just seems like a really cool down to earth guy who wants his gymnasts to have regular lives and be happy. And I’m just- I just can’t wait. I love these series and if you guys haven’t watched them yet, please do. It’s worth the investment. You know how I feel about it. Your money is your vote, so if you want more of this, you know, pony up the cash. At least try it for a month and see what you think. You guys should also absolutely absolutely absolutely follow Katelyn Ohashi everywhere. She’s on Keek, she’s on ask.fm, she’s on Instagram, she’s on Twitter. She’s hilarious. She seriously needs to have her own comedy show. Read Spanny Tampson’s blog post about her recently. Seriously this kid’s going to be a writer. She’s going to be on Saturday Night Live. She’s hilarious. She is- it’s Katelyn_Ohashi pretty much everywhere. Remember it’s Katelyn with a Y. It’s Ohashi. So pause the podcast, go find her right now and follow her everywhere because you will be highly entertained.
UNCLE TIM: So Jess, I know that you had some special encounter with Ashley Postell this week. Were you drinking beers with her? Or what was going on here?
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] No I wish, that’s not what happened. My husband and I went to Vegas for anniversary. And we went to see Le Reve. And it is a show that’s put on in the Wynn Hotel and it’s buy this guy Dragone who was one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil. He then split off. And if you love old school Cirque du Soleil where everything was about acrobatics and gymnastics and not about drama, you will love this. It is so incredible. Ashley Postell is in it. Of course she’s the 2002 beam world champion who later went on to Utah. Total star at Utah. She is- this is the thing that’s amazing to me. The show is in The Round. So when you walk in there’s only 25 seats, rows up. Every seat is a good seat. Every seat you’re close. And in the middle there’s just a giant pool. There’s no stage. And then as the show starts, they are doing acrobatics and diving and synchronized swimming and ballroom dancing in, above, around, and underneath the water. And it is incredible. I loved it. There’s so much variety. There’s something happening all the time. I felt like I could see everything. All the seats were great. And of course it’s great to be surrounded by water when you’re in Vegas because it’s so freaking hot there in the summertime. Why did we go in the summer? I don’t know. So.
UNCLE TIM: And you’re in the middle of the desert
JESSICA: In the middle of the desert
UNCLE TIM: [inaudible] water
JESSICA: Right, exactly. So I love that part of it too. But there are a couple things that stood out to me that I love. Just like when Tricia Woo was on the show and she talked about how much her hair, the weight of her hair makes a difference in her gymnastics, this show, they do everything with boots or shoes on. So the synchronized swimmers are doing their synchronized swimming with high heeled shoes on. The dancers are dancing with high heels in water. The- Ashley Postell when she did her part where she gets lifted up in the air on this giant fishing net then throws herself into a bunch of flips and dives in the water, she is wearing boots. Boots people. So I don’t know if these are made out of paper and they just look like their normal weight. But I was like oh my god you have to be so strong anyway to do what they’re doing. But to do this with shoes on. Have you ever tried, Uncle Tim, to show off to your friends and do a standing tuck with shoes on?
UNCLE TIM: Oh yeah
JESSICA: Did you ever wipe out because your shoes were too heavy and you miscalculated?
UNCLE TIM: Not that. I mean we used to do parades in growing up with shoes on. So. Yeah.
JESSICA: There’s a difference. Yeah you notice it.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah
JESSICA: Of course you’ve never wiped out. I may have done something like that
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: But yeah. Highly encourage you guys to see it. It’s very old school Cirque du Soleil. It’s not like some bizarre dream that someone had to put on a play where there’s no acrobatics and you don’t understand any of the language. It is old school gymnastics the whole entire time. It’s beautiful, wonderful. Absolutely go see it, I can’t recommend it enough. I love love loved it. If you love Mystere and O and Corteo, you will love this show. Highly recommend it.
UNCLE TIM: Two questions: first question, were the men wearing stilettos as well?
JESSICA: No. I feel like maybe one was at one point, but they were wearing shoes the whole time. There is a monster in the show.
JESSICA: There’s a monster who wears like, he has monster feet. So he was doing everything with his monster feet.
UNCLE TIM: And two: what kind of mood were you in after you left? Was it similar to what is it, Zumanity where you just feel all beastial when you leave? Or was it much more tame?
JESSICA: No it was closer to Zumanity feeling. Yes.
UNCLE TIM: oooh
JESSICA: Yeah let me just say it’s nothing like Zumanity and it’s not nude at all, but everyone is wet, completely wet the entire time. So talk about white leotards on the girls and the boys. It’s very primal. And so not as hardcore as after Zumanity but definitely there was a nice pep in my step and it was very enjoyable. Oh, my husband’s giving me a look like, “What do you mean you weren’t like after Zumanity when we left? Ha ha!” So just so you know.
UNCLE TIM: Overshare for the win.
JESSICA: Now he’s covering his face with his hands. He’s horrified that I just said that.
UNCLE TIM: Leave it all in
JESSICA: Ok so Uncle Tim, what kind of feedback do we get this week from listeners?
UNCLE TIM: Well we were asking for book suggestions for our Gymcastic Book Club. And the idea is that we all read the book and we have the author on to answer your questions about the book. And we asked you to send us your top three books. And right now we have a few suggestions. Somebody suggested Chalked Up by Jennifer Sey. Another person suggested Nadia’s book from 1981. So that’s not Letters to a Young Gymnast, that was her book from like 2003 or 2004. So her book from 1981, way back. Somebody else suggested Arkayev’s book called Gymnastics: How to Create Champions. And another person suggested Kerri Strug’s autobiography. And if you have any more suggestions or if you like any of these suggestions, let us know.
JESSICA: I want to remind you guys that it is the last week for the Chalk It Up movie. Their deadline is the 27th. So remember right now, go to our website, click on Kickstarter link to the Chalk It Up movie and make a donation. Remember with a Kickstarter campaign if they don’t reach their goal they do not get a penny of the money raised. So it’s all or something for them. So remember to please donate.
ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. Elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: Visit elitesportzband.com, that’s sportz with a Z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code “gymcast”
JESSICA: Ok remember that you can support the show by shopping in our Amazon store. You can also download the Stitcher app. It works on all devices including android. You can also support us by donating. Thank you to everybody that’s made a donation. All the money that we get goes directly back into the show. So we don’t have salaries, we’re not taking lavish vacations on yachts, we are putting everything- I mean just if I was fantasizing
UNCLE TIM: Speak for yourself
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] We are putting all the money back into the show to bring you better coverage of the gymnastics you want to hear about. Remember you can subscribe to the show and get it delivered directly into your email box. On the right side of the navigation there’s a “subscribe” button. You will get an email when the show is uploaded. You can also rate us on iTunes or write a review. We love your reviews. Thank you so much everyone that’s written a review. You can contact us. We love hearing from you. We get and read all of your emails and we listen to all of your voicemails. So thank you for those of you who have sent in a voicemail or called the show. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org and our phone number is 415-800-3191. And you can find us on Skype especially if you’re in another country you can call and leave us a message on Skype for free. It is username Gymcastic Podcast. And of course you can find us on Twitter and Facebook. There are always very interesting conversations that start on our Facebook page and on Twitter. And of course we read everything so thank you everyone for supporting the show and communicating and letting us know what you want more of. That’s going to do it for us this week. Until next week, I am Jessica O’Beirne from Masters-Gymnastics
BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner
UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: See you next week
[[OUTRO MUSIC: Robyn “Konichiwa Bitches”]]