LAUREN: “Smizing” is the best thing I ever learned. And it’s like when you express things through your eyes. And that’s what Laurie does and that’s why I love her. She listens to Tyra.
[EXPRESS YOURSELF INTRO MUSIC]
JESSICA: This week, news from the Secret Classic in Chicago and a very special announcement about our next episode. Something that’s never been done in the history of gymnastics before.
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 42 for July 31, 2013. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics
UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
LAUREN: And I’m Lauren from thecouchgymnast.com
JESSICA: This is the only gymnastics podcast ever, starting with the top news stories from around the gymternet. And first of all, let’s talk to Scott Bregman, the new director of communications from USA Gymnastics. He is on the line to explain what happened with the webcast at Classics. I know you guys have some questions about that so let’s talk to him. Ok so first of all I just want to say congratulations on your promotion. The gymternet is thrilled.
SCOTT: Well thank you I’m thrilled as well.
JESSICA: Yeah we’re really happy because I think that you are a fan the way we’re fans so you totally get what we want. And so to that and everything that was planned for this weekend was great, even though it didn’t totally happen the way everyone wanted it to. So
JESSICA: Yeah so tell us what happened.
SCOTT: You know we’d tested it and we thought we had everything prepared. We did podium training which was so successful and the feeds were fine for that and that was even more elaborate set up because we were sending three streams out. So all of that and that worked fine. Then for the finals we were, for the competition we were taking the jumbotron feed with our commentators Sam Peszek and Amanda Borden. And yeah I think I’m not quite sure what it is. It’s kind of over my head in terms of the technicalities and something our IT guys are involved with. But I think it was just basically the fact that with all those people in the building, the reporters and all these things going on, there was just wasn’t the bandwidth to get the signal out. So that’s what I think happened. Our upload speed wasn’t fast enough. But it’s kind of tricky because we were able to upload the videos, the HD videos of each routine really quickly. And so we tried stopping that but it didn’t fix the feed. So we’re not sure if it was something that YouTube didn’t like the jumbotron that we had because that was not at all what we did for podium training. So it’s kind of tough. But going back to the drawing board and the great thing is Nationals will be on TV all four days will be on TV on SportsNetwork. And the finals are on NBC and that’s all live. So we’re planning to do podium training again and juniors again, boys and girls juniors. But yeah hopefully it will go off a little bit better. The most frustrating thing for me was for the juniors I was calling where the camera was going. So I’m looking at a preview of the feed and I’m seeing [inaudible] and I’m seeing Sam and Amanda who were awesome. And if the feed had been working well it would have been amazing and people would have been so thrilled. That was the most frustrating part I think was- the production of it, we had planned really well for all that. And unfortunately the internet just didn’t work out for us this time. But I think we’re going to look back and make sure that maybe I have my own webcast of my own dedicated modem, whatever needs to happen to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
JESSICA: And is there anything that the fans can do? Because you know we love to be involved as you saw from all the tweets. So is there anything we can do, like tweet at Secret and say, “This was the best thing ever and if only you know there was a dedicated server for this it would have been the most perfect thing ever.” Is there anything we can do on our end?
SCOTT: I don’t think so. I’m guessing probably not.
JESSICA: I already did tweet at Secret and tell them that they are my deoderant of choice and I smell fantastic. And thanked them for sponsoring the event.
SCOTT: Well that’s good.
JESSICA: I mean I try to do my part.
JESSICA: Yeah I really liked- oh one other thing I wanted to ask you. A lot of people were sort of complaining the event wasn’t in the city and it was in the suburbs and everyone really liked it in the city because downtown Chicago is so beautiful and the hotels are beautiful. I wonder if the crowd, if part of not having it where it was last year at the University was because the crowd this year was huge! And if going to the suburbs was part of anticipating that huge crowd?
SCOTT: You know we originally, I’m almost certain when we announced the Classic it was going to be in the Pavillion. Or maybe we just said Chicago. It’s been so long. Really the reason behind it was USC just didn’t have the group [inaudible] staff we wanted to utilize without gym club ticket sales. So we moved out to the Sears Center which you’re exactly right it was a bummer. We love downtown Chicago as well. But they had a really highly motivated group sales staff that went out and did a lot of outreach with a lot of the Chicago gym clubs. And yeah the turnout was amazing. I think we had significantly more people at that event than we had at AT&T American Cup this year.
JESSICA: Yeah I mean seriously I was blown away by that crowd. And yeah it looked like one of the biggest crowds ever for a non Nationals or Olympic Trials. It was amazing so I think that’s really exciting. So that was one thing I was really happy to see, at least it can’t be in downtown Chicago but it was totally packed. So that was good. There are some people who are like, you know if the webcast isn’t perfect we should’ve just had it on tv. But my understanding is this was exclusively basically a webcast or nothing. This is webcast for the fans. There was no TV contract. Is that right?
SCOTT: Right you know I think that’s a really important thing. It’s frustrating to me that it didn’t work out but it’s important to understand that it wasn’t a decision between do we put this on tv or do we try to webcast it. It wasn’t going to be on TV. And that’s something I’m not really involved in but it wasn’t going to be on TV. So the options then became do we have no live coverage of this or do we webcast it. And I think after the success of the American Cup webcast that we did the first 90 minutes I think we thought we could do it. Like I said we tried to take this production to a much higher level. There were three cameras and commentators and a graphics package and all that kind of thing. But it was because without us trying to webcast it there would have been no live coverage at all.
JESSICA: Gotcha. And we love live coverage. So I was thrilled. So thank you again for all you’re doing and making all of our dreams come true. And we know that it will improve as we go along and as Secret and the sponsors see how many downloads they are having and how much response there is. So we appreciate it.
SCOTT: Yeah no problem. And I’m looking forward- the great thing is we get to try it all again. And I leave for Championships in two weeks I think. Not this Friday but the next one. So we’ll get to try it all again and hopefully it will go a lot better.
JESSICA: Now let’s talk about the Secret Classic. Ok so for those of you who are internationally listeners who might not be familiar with Secret, it’s actually a brand of deodorant. It’s not that people want to keep it secret. It’s just the Secret deodorant Classic. That’s what it is. And it was in Chicago this past weekend and Lauren was there in the trenches, in person. So Lauren can you tell everybody a little bit about what this meet is, who was there, what the importance of it is. Like qualifying to Nationals, that kind of stuff.
LAUREN: Yeah so the Classic is the final qualifier to National Championships. You can qualify to Nationals a few ways, and the Classic is pretty much everyone’s last shot at getting there for juniors and seniors. Seniors need a 54 in the all-around or they can go as an event specialist. So three events they need a 41.25 and for two events they need a 28 even to qualify. This year they also allowed petitions in with Madison Desch of GAGE who only competed beam. I guess she’d been dealing with nagging injuries over the past year so they- I think she got a 14.1 or 14.15 on beam so they petitioned her through to Nationals in spite competing only one event. And then I guess once they get to Nationals, that’s the final competition that decides the National team for the next year. So this will decide the 2013-2014 National team. And it also kind of gives you a look at who can go to Worlds and who I think is going to be frontrunners for the Worlds team. You can always kind of tell from Nationals who might get a Worlds spot. So they kind of looked at all arounders for seniors and they also look at event specialists like McKayla Maroney is probably the best example for vault and floor. It’s an individual and event final Worlds this year. Only four members on the team. So Nationals is kind of their last shot for the World selection team camp.
JESSICA: It’s interesting the bar seems so much lower for qualifying as an individual. I know the scores are different also with every Code so it’s not really comparable. But if you did a single event you had to get a 15 to qualify. You had to be- you’re going to make the Olympic finals if you made it as a single event qualifier. So that’s interesting to see. The big story this meet was vault. And the return to competition of McKayla Maroney. So let’s talk about the Maroney vs Biles vs Skinner vault competition. So Lauren, tell us about Maroney’s vault first of all.
LAUREN: Maroney did the Amanar which is the Yurchenko 2.5. And she also did the vault she fell on in competition which was the Yurchenko half on front layout full off. Which I was glad to see because she didn’t do anything really in the media podium training. She just kind of did a bunch of timers. And the last time we saw her vault was at the ranch and she did the yurchenko half on half off I want to say. It was like a one half twist down from the “Mustafina” vault. Or however you want to say. So it was exciting. She hit both really really well. I think people started getting nervous after podium training because she didn’t really show anything for like the media. I think she did stuff like in the evening session and when I talked to her after she said she tends to train better at night. And so kind of saving herself for the evening session which was the one the media didn’t get to see. But people were still kind of like, “Oh my god this is not going to go over well.” But it was great. I think her 2.5 she landed maybe one foot out of bounds. But it was like in the air just as clean as you could ever imagine. Like as good as probably last year. And then her yurchenko half on full off was probably one of the best that I’ve seen her do. So I was really impressed with her. Especially I think compared to Skinner who was the other vault specialist there.
JESSICA: And one of the things I really noticed, and I don’t know if you could really tell this in person even more than we can watching on the webcast, is how freaking fast Maroney is. Her run is so fast and there’s actually a comparison video we’ll put up for you guys where Maroney starts further back than Biles does and they have them- they put the videos over each other so you can see how fast Maroney is. And she not only catches up but goes a little ahead of Biles even though she starts further back. And I know she’s taller but still. On the webcast one of the things I noticed was it was a little choppy on the webcast and everyone I would see people four or five times as they’re running down. And they would skip to a further along the runway. And Maroney I only saw her twice. That’s how fast she was. She was like boop she was in the middle then she was already vaulting. She’s just so much faster than everybody else. It really is- you can tell why she’s so good. What happened with Biles? Biles was really expected to be the frontrunner and take that other spot but she didn’t compete on vault.
LAUREN: Yeah she was supposed to do two vaults and I forget the second vault I think it was a tsuk full or something. But she was supposed to do the Amanar and the tsuk full or whatever the second vault was then apparently was dealing with really bad allergies and couldn’t take a sudafed because of the drug testing. And so she was like, I mean bars kind of it looked like it threw her of for the whole competition. That was her first event and that’s where she usually struggles and that’s where she fell. But I feel like she just doesn’t have that mental game just yet where Jordyn Wieber could fall on bars then have the best beam of her life, but Biles is more like maybe the bars fall kind of got to her. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the allergies or if it was more the mental stuff. But from there on out it was not a good competition. And then right before vault she was in warmups and she was doing timers and they looked fine but then she went for the 2.5 and I just thought right at the end she needed around a little bit over two rotations and the completely just landed on her side when she was trying to get that extra half around. So it was probably wise for them to pull her.
JESSICA: Yeah and also inner ear and balance and stuff like that. If your allergies
LAUREN: Yeah that’s true
JESSICA: Yeah. Not to mention Chicago in the summertime can be really gnarly on the allergies. As someone who has allergies I can definitely understand and then man she’s got to get the neti pot. Have you ever used the neti pot? It’s the best thing ever.
LAUREN: I, yeah.
LAUREN: Yeah they terrified me at first but they’re kind of amazing
JESSICA: It’s totally disgusting but once you use it
LAUREN: They’re gross but they’re awesome
JESSICA: Yeah it’s so gross. You will never go back. So Simone, gotta get on the Neti pot immediately it’s the best thing ever. Ok- I swear by it. Changed my life. So let’s talk about Skinner. Mykayla Skinner. She is from Arizona. And she was the gymnast who was the first American on video tape to do the double twisting double layout. So she’s- let me preface this by saying Skinner’s one of those gymnasts who can do amazing tricks, but her form is her downfall and it can make her gymnastics a little bit scary. So let’s talk about her vault. And Uncle Tim, tell us what vault she did and then tell us why it bothers you so much about her Cheng.
UNCLE TIM: Well you just kind of answered your own question. She did a Cheng, which is a round off half on, one and a half off. And then she also did a double twisting Yurchenko. And as you said, she is what Coach Rick of Gymnasticscoaching.com would call a unique physical specimen. And yeah. I mean kudos to her for throwing a Cheng. It’s probably the hardest vault being executed safely on the women’s side. And but setting aside that fact, the vault needs something. It needs something like I don’t know, Mary Lee Tracy’s OCD tender love and care. She needs someone to break all her bad habits. We first saw her compete the Cheng in February. And while there has been some improvement since then, I think she’s giving a little bit more of a block, no one has really taken the time to fix all her bad habits. And the problem is it starts off right at the beginning as she’s coming onto the board. So coming onto the board for her round off, her hips are already turning to do the half turn instead of doing a square round off half turn. Which tells me that she’s being very impatient from the get go. And then when she gets onto the table after doing her half turn, she doesn’t block squarely. She pushes off of one arm basically because she’s twisting as her hands are still on the vault. And I feel like a coach should’ve corrected this a long time ago. Someone needs to make her do a bunch of drills. She would have to go back to very basic beginning and make her do a round off onto the board, half onto the table until she squares her hips on the round off. And then she’d be able to gradually go onto stack mats and do a round off half onto the table and then up onto the mats until she gets used to blocking with both hands. And then she does a front tuck. And then if those are looking good then a layout. Then if that’s looking good she adds the half twist. But if she starts twisting right off the table she has to take a step back and start doing the layout again. I mean it’s kind of coaching vault 101 and it really does upset me that someone hasn’t taken the time to fix all the technical errors in this vault. Yeah. And so if her Cheng is going to improve, she needs to take those steps back. And when you’re a teenagaer, you hate when your coach makes you relearn a skill. You absolutely hate it, but it’s necessary.
JESSICA: Yeah. I hear you with that. I mean it also could be just giving the coaches the benefit of the doubt. It could be that she’s one of those people who is perfect in practice and then they get to competition and they freak out and they go spazzy and they just rush everything. Because basically it looks like she does a round off double full. Like no, she doesn’t even need to touch the vault because that thing just twists so hard right off the board and keeps going without any repulsion. So just give them the benefit of the doubt, the coaches. But yea clearly it’s very difficult to watch that. It’s just, ugh. It just every time I watch her I’m just like eh! So yeah. I’m thinking I mean to your point, Kyla Ross got the same score that she did, 15.2 I think. Obviously it’s the average. But Kyla Ross doesn’t do hard vaults and she’s getting the same score because her execution is beautiful. And it’s like you know why bother with these really hard vaults you know and why risk the injury if it’s not worth it. And clearly in her case it’s totally not worth it because if you’re going to take a vault specialist, I don’t think that’s who you’re going to take. At least that’s what I think. Anyway. Before we get to that whole discussion, let’s talk about the juniors before we get into fantasizing about our World teams etc. So Lauren, there was an interesting twist in the junior competition. Tell us what happened with Bailey Key.
LAUREN: Yeah this was really weird because she was planning on doing the all around. She hadn’t scratched officially or anything. And then she went through warm ups like doing everything. And then at the very last minute I think Chris Burdette told Gymnastike she’s not doing the all around. And I was like ok that’s really bizarre. But you know whatever. She- I guess they kind of have this history of pulling juniors at the last minute so I wasn’t shocked. And just kind of thought ok she’ll do vault and bars. I guess she was sick and doesn’t make sense to me to do bars if you’re sick. But whatever I’m not going to question them. I think they decided- well I kind of think they decided to do the all around after Nia Dennis fell. Because I think they kind of considered her as big competition. And it was literally like they were into the meet already when they decided to put her in the all around. So I don’t know if that’s breaking rules that exist or something but yeah, it was weird because it was like no one really knew what was going on and Chris just saying she’s not doing the all around and all the sudden she’s training everything in warm ups and she’s doing the all around. It was confusing to follow and no one knew what was happening until she went out on I guess floor and did it. But yeah. So that was bizarre. And then she ended up winning. So when I talked to her after she kind of didn’t give any concrete answers as the junior way of interviews. But Bailey’s still kind of in her head I think a lot.
JESSICA: That is very interesting. It’s very- it’s throwback strategy style and also very NCAA to the last minute changes. It’s interesting. We almost never see that kind of thing in elite. I guess it’s because also in the FIG competition you can’t really change the lineup after the meet starts. But Uncle Tim you have more cynical thoughts on this matter. Do tell.
UNCLE TIM: Well I am a cynic but I mean the, probably more optimistic realist perspective, or idealist perspective pardon me, would be that Kim and Chris found out that Bailey was sick and told her to play it safe. But once Bailey started competing she decided to push herself like a true champion would. That’s a good spin on it. But there’s this cynic in me and that cynic was reminded of Bela Karolyi’s playbook in the early 90s. I don’t know if you guys remember but before the Olympic Trials and everything in 1992, Bela was bellowing to the press about Kim’s wrist injuries. And then after Trials and US Championships, Kim was ranked 2nd after Shannon Miller, who competed only at Trials because she had a dislocated elbow. And then Bela, instead of saying something like, “oh you know, Kimbo will beat her in Barcelona.” He decided to complaint to the press, telling them, “Kim Zmeskal has been hurt. She is a wounded young athlete. She should be the winner.” And I don’t know, it just felt eerily similar to me. You know? Plant an excuse in case she doesn’t win and then you know if that comes to fruition then you have that excuse to go back on. I don’t know. But like I said that was probably never Texas Dreams’ intention. And I mean I’m sure that Bailey was legitimately sick. And even though she was sick, she did improve on her all around score from Jesolo. In Italy she had a 58.1, and at the Secret Classic she had a 58.25. So good for her for being able to improve even while being sick.
JESSICA: So the final standings for the junior meet were Bailey Key, and then second was Amelia Hundley, who we remember from the Beyond the Routine. Behind the Routine? Beyond the Routine, right? The Gymnastike series which we loved with Mary Lee Tracy. Oh my god. And the dog and the clock. Ugh, still the best one ever. Like the closest one to Dance Moms so far. Then third was Veronica Hults from Texas Dreams, also known as Nica. And fourth Norah Flatley. Fifth was Nia Dennis who looked pretty amazing. And then sixth was our very own, yes I call her ours now, that’s it she’s ours, Laurie Hernandez who we had on the show last week who we absolutely love. And of course Laurie won floor because she’s fantastic and the best ever on floor. So one question before we go on, there was something with- we need to talk about leotards really quick with the juniors and seniors. Gold leotards and metallic were really really in at this meet. And someone had the craziest gold leo. Who was that?
UNCLE TIM: That was Texas Dreams
JESSICA: Were these the like armor bodice ones? Like they were going into battle with gold like in Vegas?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah so I think Spanny called it a corset on Twitter. Looked like kind of a corset. And then on the top was all mesh and their arms were al mesh. And depending on the girls’ skin tone it kind of looked like she didn’t have any mesh on because the gold kind of looked tan-ish. So yeah it was a weird one. I also don’t know about the idea of wearing gold in general to a gymnastics meet. Just because it kind of makes a statement of, “Well I’m going to get the gold medal and you’re not.” I don’t know. That’s at least what I think of. And as I said I’m a cynic.
JESSICA: You are, that’s why we love you. I always think of hot pink is the “I’m going to win.” Like if I see someone wearing hot pink I’m just like oh really? Is that where you think you’re going to end up on, you know? But yeah, gold. I mean I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much gold lemae since
UNCLE TIM: David Bowie?
JESSICA: Yes! This is honestly like 70s like I’m not even going to go further into that. But yes. So interesting fashion choices. What did you guys think of McKayla Maroney’s special Adidas leo? It was very unique. I’ve never seen anything like that. Lauren what did you think?
LAUREN: I thought it was really cool. I don’t know there were probably too many rhinestones for my liking. Like but I liked that they did it in the Adidas logo pattern. I love the black and white. Actually my favorite leotard was the Cincinnati leotard which was I don’t know I felt like they were going to a wedding or something, it was just like classy and elegant and I really loved that. And I realized I kind of like the black and white so I liked McKayla’s a lot. I like that it had- I couldn’t see actually the purple from where I was sitting. And I just thought it was the black and white and was like oh that’s pretty. Then I saw the purple and I love that it had that splash of color. And I think on Instagram she said purple was her color which I was surprised it wasn’t hot pink. And she said purple was her color and she wanted that splash of I guess her personality on that leo. And I don’t know I thought it was really sporty. I think the Adidas leotards are generally- they do a good job of putting sporty and sort of like pretty together I guess. And that’s what that leotard was for me I think. And I didn’t love it at first but then as I looked at it more I was like ok that’s really cool and it’s totally different from any GK pattern we’ve seen in the last five years. With the swirls that are all exactly the same.
JESSICA: Exactly. I feel like everyone’s going more toward ice skating peacock style and I liked that hers was old school but with rhinestones which I don’t really care for those either but she- it was really unique. It was really unique. I liked it. She needs to fix her damn hair though seriously. What is with the hair-dos. Honestly. Can we please? This is not
LAUREN: There were a lot of McKayla Maroney hairdo copy cats too. A lot of the little juniors. And I was just like no you’re too little to do this. You have to have cute ponytails.
JESSICA: Yes. I can’t believe that Martha lets them get away with this hairdo stuff. I mean everything else is perfect, then you wear your hair like you just rolled out of bed I mean. Martha we’re going to have to have a talk about this. Seriously this is uncalled for.
LAUREN: Well I have to mention the GAGE girls, their hair was immaculate. Brenna curled her hair for this and put it up in a nice beautiful ponytail. And Madison Desch had her’s in a ballerina bun. And I could see them across the room and was like oh my god these girls did their hair for like three hours before getting here today. And like I think I’ve mentioned it on Twitter I was just impressed. Because they were like two fo the only people there that put thought into it which I mean I guess hair isn’t the first thing on your mind when you’re getting ready to compete, but like it’s part of the presentation I think so it matters.
JESSICA: Exactly. Presentation. It’s like if you went to the meet and you didn’t cut your toe nails for five weeks. I mean seriously. It’s just
UNCLE TIM: Or shave your armpits
JESSICA: Or shave your armpits, know what I mean? Like I have everything else from head to toes perfect, oh but don’t look at the back of my head because I did nothing with it. I just don’t- it doesn’t make any sense. I mean clearly presentation matters in gymnastics, so why would you- it’s just, ugh. Anyway. Ok let’s move on to- let’s talk a little bit about bars.
UNCLE TIM: Alright so I was just kind of curious, Lauren, you were at the meet and I was curious if you thought we had any upcoming juniors who might be able to break 15 in the future because I mean bars are America’s weakness. And I know that Nica Hults won the bars for the juniors with a 14.55 I want to say. What were your thoughts? Did you see any people who were upcoming bar stars?
LAUREN: Well juniors yes but I also saw a few seniors I think I was more excited about. Like juniors I love Nica on bars and I’m going to tell this story because I think it’s the best ever. When I first saw her compete live at the WOGA Classic in 2011 she threw a basic bare bones routine on bars. And she fell twice I think on a tkachev and maybe a toe shoot or something and she was just so tiny she couldn’t reach the bar basically. And then she jumped off and she smiled and that was the end of that. And she went on and did a great job on beam but it was like just not a good bar routine at all. And I was like ok at least she went on she had a good rest of the day. So the fact that now she has probably one of the best junior bar routines just makes me so happy because she’s like, I think she’s one of the hardest working juniors that never gets any recognition. Like especially from probably Martha and the national team staff. She just kind of is always- she never made the national team, she’s always in the background. So I was really happy she did so well on bars and think that she definitely has potential there for the future. Her beam obviously as well. Like she could be the Kyla of 2016 I think in terms of having just really solid bars and beam. Polina, her bars I like them, I think they’re really difficult. And I think she looks good on them for the most part. Her arms bend really weirdly and that worries me. I don’t know if it’s like her body or her just how they trained her. Like her elbows kind of bend inward. And it looks painful and it doesn’t make her handstands look pretty at all. And I don’t know I’m sure she gets a lot of deductions for elbow stuff that’s going on. She also, I don’t know she can look really good on skills sometimes but then look kind of disastrous at other times. So I feel like she could have a really solid routine if she focused probably more on execution than just throwing big skills every year. I mean they do get better every year, but still, not great I think at this point. And she’s been kind of I think last year she won bars maybe at Nationals or something and you think after a year had gone by she would have improved in execution but she hasn’t really. I like her but I think yeah execution is a factor. With the seniors, with Abbie I think her last name is pronounced Milliet or it could be Milliet
JESSICA: Oh my god I love her I love her
LAUREN: She- I love her so much and I basically cried when she made her bar routine because every time I’ve seen her on bars she falls or has problems and I just get so sad for her because she always looks so upset with herself. And she made so many upgrades over the past year that I feel like her bars have potential to be like Kyla [inaudible] be the best bar routine in the country for seniors right now. I don’t think she’s probably big shot for Worlds at this point, but I feel like if it were like a team year we really needed someone to go for bars and we had Kyla already or something like I would pick Abbie. She has probably I don’t know, on the Van Leeuwens which are like the toe on Shaposh halfs, she- no one really has their legs together for the most part and she is like the straightest body lines. Legs are perfectly glued, yeah. She’s gorgeous to watch. I don’t know if she does one actually, she does the Maloney that’s definitely for sure because I’m picturing her legs and they’re very pretty to watch. And she also has a double front which is really nice to watch too because she fell on that a lot in training then she hit it in competition. And then yeah I think well Kyla obviously but then Brenna Dowell upgraded a ton. She gets nailed in terms of execution. I think she took an extra swing at Classics. That was also probably hurting her score. But she has, let’s see. She does a toe-on piked tkachev, which is a Church I believe. And then she does a Ray half. And she’s supposed to do a full twisting double layout. I think she only did a double layout because she was getting a little flustered it seemed over the weekend so she took the full twist out. But that’s a really high difficulty routine. I think she can fit in well. So we have some hope.
LAUREN: And Madison Kocian too. She’s a new senior. She was kind of impressive as a junior but I think her form looks really good on bars. Again she’s probably not like a Worlds person. But.
JESSICA: It’s so weird to me that we kind of are so behind on bars because we’re not bad as a country, we’re not bad at bars. Unless you’re from a certain gym that can only tumble. But there are, so like as a country that’s not a problem for us but our difficulty’s just not even close to where it needs to be. You know the person that placed second on bars is Madison Kocian, she’s a point behind Kyla Ross. And Kyla Ross is nowhere near doing the most difficult routine in the world. So yeah. There’s that. I just think there needs to be Anna Li just needs to be, they just hire Anna Li to go around the country and upgrade everyone’s bars and show them how it’s done. They owe it to her. That’s what I’m saying. I’m just saying, when you give your neck for your country, you should definitely get a special job like that.
UNCLE TIM: Alright to jump back to the juniors, Jess last week when you and I were talking you were really excited to see the battle between Sydney Johnson-Scharpf and baby Nastia and Laurie Beyonce Hernandez. You framed it something like broadway jazz hands versus Vegas jazz hands or something. So I’m just curious, what did you think of their routines?
JESSICA: Yeah it was Glee vs Beyonce I think that was how it was. Jay-Z vs Glee. Yes. So ok Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, you guys know she is the daughter of Brandy Johnson who was on the 88 Olympic team who’s just fierce fierce fierce. Just like you would always count on her. She was a beast. She was just always going to hit her routine and she was just a total powerhouse. And she, ok let me tell you about this. You guys watch her routine, she starts her routine looking directly into the camera. Ok. That is confidence right there and that it what we love to see. She has real choreography and by that I mean she does at least four sets of eight counts before doing any gymnastics or standing still. So four sets of eight counts before she stops and preps for a turn or goes into a leap or stands in the corner. That is real choreography right there. She performs with her face. She’s tell a story of her choreography with her face. And you know what I saw this on Facebook this morning in one of the dance groups that I follow, and it was a Martha Graham quote that said “Dance is the song of the body. Either joy or pain.” And this is the difference between when Sydney competes and when anyone else does floor routines is that Sydney is communicating with you when she performs. She’s communicating with her body, with the story of her choreography, and with her face, and that is what absolutely sets her apart. If she could do that on beam, the judges would be mesmerized and would completely give her 10s in execution every time because they would be transported to another world. So she should really do that on beam too. Laurie Hernandez won floor, that’s right. What did we tell you. She’s the best, she’s the best. So Laurie Hernandez, first of all I loved her leo with her little- she had a cut out of course around the side. She always has a little cutout in the back. And it was like neon green which my 10 year old skateboarding Cyndi Lauper loving neon mismatched bracelets and earrings self was totally in love with. I was like oh my god that leo that’s so fantastic. I mean that definitely makes you stand out, a leo like that. She totally commands your attention. And her routine is like her tumbling was just amazing first of all. And then her routine is just done to the max. Everything is absolutely ballistic. Like no one else does. Completely done to the max, full energy and commitment into every single move that she does, and she has the same kind of real choreography which means that you actually do several sets of eight counts before just standing there and doing something totally non dance related. And the thing about her routine is she’s communicating something with you too which is sort of like she’s a sneaky little spy, she’s sort of like a crazy jack in the box who is fun to watch but at any time she could steal your secrets and then fly away like a spy for the CIA and a little cat burglar all mixed into one. She’s just like totally unique, something completely different than anything else we see. That was the most bizarre description of her choreography [LAUGHS]
LAUREN: It’s accurate though. It’s totally accurate
JESSICA: There’s just nobody, never been anybody like her on floor.
LAUREN: Well you hear on America’s Next Top Model, “smize” is when you smile with your eyes. And Laurie does that on floor. No one else even smiles on floor. And Laurie is like smizing her face off and I love that.
JESSICA: Yes! I never knew about that. I need to watch America’s Next Top Model
LAUREN: You need to because Tyra Banks is insane. But smizing is the best thing I ever learned. And it’s like when you express things through your eyes. And that’s what Laurie does and that’s why I love her. She listens to Tyra.
JESSICA: Oh I love it oh my god that’s going on one of our tshirts. Ok. That’s going on my list for things to make tshirts out of. Ok so let’s talk about the big skills that were done. Uncle Tim there were some major big girl skills thrown at this meet and let’s start with beam.
UNCLE TIM: So I think the first thing we need to talk about is Nia Dennis’ standing arabian. I think the way I phrased it on Twitter is it rivals Rheagan Courville. She’s a LSU gymnast from a sophomore. And she does a standing arabian which I call maybe the best in the world and Nia’s definitely rivals it. And Spanny tweeted “I love that arabian so much I would let it get me pregnant.” That’s how much she loved that arabian. What did you guys think of it?
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] That is definitely not the first thing that came to mind but yes it made me gasp. So if that is the sound that she makes when she got pregnant then yes, same here.
LAUREN: Yeah I agree. I think someone posted a picture on Tumblr recently that was I think it was one of the Russians doing a standing arabian, said it was the best standing arabian they’d ever seen. But whoever it was, I think it was maybe Aliya but I don’t remember, but it was landed with the chest down and stuff so I was not impressed. And Nia’s was like, she went into it, went like seven feet in the air, like did it fully in the air and came down like with her body already straight. And I was like oh my god. And I was all the way across the arena and I saw that. And completely died. So yeah it was amazing. I wouldn’t let it get me pregnant though.
UNCLE TIM: Then we, I mean Nia Dennis was not the only one doing an arabian on beam. Mykayla Skinner did a back handspring step out into an arabian and a back handspring step out into a full. Which are pretty difficult skills to do. Jess what did you think of these two tumbling passes?
JESSICA: Mykayla Skinner. Mykayla Skinner is just so frustrating because clearly she’s incredibly talented and clearly she can do amazing skills, but if you have to cringe, cover your eyes, and dive under the desk where your computer is sitting while you watch her gymnastics then it’s not good. So I just wish that her form and her execution could catch up with her gymnastics because I don’t know how the judges got through that routine without getting hand cramps from the execution deductions. So I was impressed and I was horrified all at the same time.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. And obviously the other big skill that Mykayla Skinner did was the double twisting double layout. And Lauren, what did you think of her double twisting double layout?
LAUREN: I didn’t get to see it up close yet. There was a camera kind of right in my viewpoint. I did see it happen. I don’t know. She kind of landed out of bounds a little bit from what I remember. And I don’t know. From what I’ve seen, I think Victoria Moors is the only other person doing that right now, and I still think Mykayla’s is probably a little bit stronger but I think her body is just, like I think I’m thinking of Lexie Priessman’s full twisting double layout and how straight her body looked in comparison.Mykayla Skinner’s looks piked at times. It looks tucked at times. It doesn’t look like she’s in a layout position. I don’t really love it. I love that she’s doing it. A part of me really loves difficult skills and I want to see them no matter what they look like. Then at the same time, I’m like I don’t want to see that ever again because it’s horrifying and you’re going to kill yourself and I don’t want my eyes to look at anything that has to do with that. So I’m kind of torn. I feel the same way about most of her skills. It’s like I’m really excited to see them but at the same time, I don’t want her to do them ever again. That’s kind of how I feel about that.
JESSICA: Her gymnastics would be great on the Pro Gymnastics Challenge where you can just throw it.
JESSICA: She would be perfect for that. So International Gymnastics Camp people, sign her up.
UNCLE TIM: After she competes for Utah. And what did you guys think of Lexie Priessman’s full twisting double layout on floor?
JESSICA: You mean her layout half in half out?
UNCLE TIM: Yes.
JESSICA: Very important distinction!
LAUREN: It is! It could be a full in. You never know. I liked it alot. I wasn’t expecting, I have to say this about Lexie. I never expect a lot from her because she always disappoints me. And as soon as I take away all expectations, she completely pulls me out of the water. And that’s what she kind of did on floor for me this weekend, her full twisting double layout included. Again, I wasn’t sitting really with a viewpoint that kind of highlighted floor for me. To me, a lot of things probably looked better than they did on video. But I was really impressed with it. And I thought her floor in general was incredible and could go to Worlds easily.
JESSICA: Yeah and she had a really good execution score. In fact, I think she had the highest execution score for anyone, for any of the seniors. I was about to say adults and then wait that’s not right. Adults ha. Except Peyton Ernst. Peyton Ernst, her execution was .01 higher and that makes sense because Peyton Ernst is glorious on floor. So beautiful. But she only got a 14.5 and Lexie Priessman got a 14.8. So she doesn’t have that difficulty to match. It depends on what they’re looking for. Yeah I agree, I’m always kind of eh. But she did amazing job on floor. Her form was so so clean. It was really exciting to watch that.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah and I think from previous performances this year, she improved. I think in Jesolo, we were wondering about what was going on with her leaps because they were not very split and time around they were better. They were definitely better.
LAUREN: She never really tries to impress either on purpose or not on purpose until she knows she has to. I feel like that, like last year at Classics, I was like oh my God she’s done. I think I was talking to Blythe actually and she was asking me what I think about Lexie. And I was like there’s no way she can probably do anything in her senior year because she already looks done. Then at Nationals, like two days after Blythe and I had this conversation, she had one of her best performances ever. I feel like she maybe….I don’t know. I know Mary Lee was saying something about how she’s like really stubborn. I kind of think like that’s just her attitude. I’m not going to do it until it counts so don’t expect me to almost. And then yeah. I don’t know. I think she is tricky. And I love that about her.
JESSICA: This reminds me of the quote that Nadia said in her most recent book, The Letters to a Young Gymnast, she said that Bela Karolyi never broke her which is what he tried to do with all of his gymnasts, break them down and build them back up, which is debatable, the build them back up part. (laughs) Let’s be honest. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it was in the opposite direction. She said that he never broke her because she never gave everything she had. She always held something back. She always had something in the tank for reserve. And totally makes me think of Priessman because she’s very stubborn and she seems very smart and she seems like she’s calculating in her mind when she’s really going to give it all and that makes me think of how she is one of the gymnasts from that gym who has really had a very long career without injury. And I wonder if having that Nadia strategy of holding a little bit back translates into a literal not being broken. I also like that her floor routine was much more mature and more like an NCAA routine. It was great to see that in elite. I think that international crowds and judges love that kind of routine in elite. And so I like to see a little more grown up routine. So Lauren there were of course, with these fantastic and exciting skills, there were also some fantastic wipeouts which, you know how I feel about this. I feel like there should be a whole reel of just showing wipeouts before the meet because it gets people more excited to watch and it shows how freaking hard this sport is. So there was one fall that you got to see in person that we didn’t see on air. This sounds like something that normally only happens in boys’ gymnastics or men’s gymnastics. But it sounds like this girl was so tiny that it could have happened to her. Tell us about the little Hopes competitor.
LAUREN: Well she’s a little Hopes competitor but she’s actually really tall. Her name is Milan Clousy is her last name. She was on bars and she was actually leading the competition after three and bars was her last event or maybe it was leading after two or something and bars was her second to last event. But either way, she had a huge lead. And I think what she was going for was the toe-on-Shaposh-half. And what happened was she did the toe-on, she kind of like reached back like she was going to go for the high bar but maybe her grip got stuck. I didn’t see that part but that’s what Gymnastike said, was that maybe her grip got a little stuck. And instead of going back to the high bar, she went straight up in the air and crashed down onto the low bar. And the arena didn’t have that many people in it but everyone in the arena saw and were like oh my God this girl is probably dying. But she looked more like frustrated than hurt but still. It reminded me a little bit of Bross when she went for the half in like 2010 or something and she landed it on her chest. It was kind of like that where it was just not how you’re supposed to I guess catch a bar.
JESSICA: (laughs) With your face and/or ribcage.
LAUREN: Yeah you know with breaking your whole body against it. It was funny but it was also terrifying. Once I saw that she was okay, I was like that would be, like you said, for a reel that would be the perfect fall for it because it was amazing. So yeah that was the HOPES fall that was really exciting.
JESSICA: And then Mykayla Skinner, we’ve had to talk about her so many times because her gymnastics is so exciting and terrifying all at once. She did a toe-on half on the high bar and peeled and just completely wiped out. I was laughing so hard after I gasped and saw she was okay and then I was laughing so hard because I was like this is what I’ve been waiting to happen on every event and there it is. And then Maggie Nichols had a really scary fall on bars. And she’s totally fine but she did a really cool move. She did a Ray and then it almost looked like she was going to do a Beth Tweddle style half turn out of it into a straddle back to the low bar. But in fact, it was just because her hands peeled and she did a half turn and then slid like a backwards penguin underneath down to the low bar. But yeah they need to be called the peel half turn to the stomach slide. That’s going to be an A in the new Code of Points. I enjoyed it very much. I think we really need to have NBC or USA Gymnastics needs to make the wipeout reel because these are just fantastic. Oh montage, hello! 50th Anniversary contest, USA Gymnastics.
LAUREN: That contest is over. That contest is closed. But Spanny can make a montage of falls She probably would get on that. She could leave her baby with someone for like a week or something and do nothing except work on this montage because that would be amazing. Actually, Skinner’s whole bar routine has to go in the montage though, because after she got up from the fall, she just looked like she was a dying swan. I think her execution score was like a five so.
JESSICA: Which is, oh my God. This is the great thing about Mykayla Skinner going to Utah because Utah is known for doing simple clean gymnastics. Like this has been their standard. That is how they won all those years. This is not going to fly when she goes there. It’s going to be the best thing that ever happened to her because they are going to totally clean up her form. So it’ll be exciting to see how those coaches have so much experience with getting their gymnasts to be super clean and can fix her gymnastics so something to look forward to. Um so let’s talk about, there’s a really exciting new mini-mite from Chow’s which is of course is the gym where Shawn Johnson and Gabby Douglas are from. Norah Flatley. Tell us a little bit about her routine. It was just so beautiful and reminded me so much of the baby Shawn Johnson and the baby Gabby Douglas.
LAUREN: Yeah her beam was to die for. I didn’t get to see a ton of beam but I made it a point to watch hers just because I was like I have to because she’s been kind of hyped for a couple of years now. And we’ve never seen her in elite competitions. So that was the one routine that I needed to see. I saw pieces of it from the Parkettes elite qualifier in the summer. It was kind of like crappy video but it was just a great intro. Their bars coach is actually Chow’s wife and so she’s responsible for the really pretty routines and all of those girls do the front aerial front aerial combinations which I normally just don’t like, but with the Chow’s girls, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to beam. And Norah does the front aerial to front aerial to side aerial. And it’s one of the most gorgeous things you’ll probably see on beam this year from a US gymnast.
JESSICA: And legit connected. Legit connected.
LAUREN: Yeah, they’re connected. Yeah her difficulty is like a 6.4 which I think is easily the highest for the juniors and probably one of the highest for the seniors, if not higher than any of the seniors. Just crazy difficult, but crazy beautiful though too. She’s one who can do a routine like that and throw huge skills and still get a high execution score hint hint Skinner. That’s who you want to try to be when you grow up is Norah Flatley.
UNCLE TIM: You have to watch her hands before her flight series, her backwards flight series. Just the way she holds her arms above her head, she’s like ohhhh shivers. Ohhhh that’s so pretty.
JESSICA: That was a total Kathy Johnson moment.
LAUREN: She did her practicing right in front of where I was sitting. She went on bars really early and she was last up for beam or something, I think that’s how it worked out. So she spent a good twenty or thirty minutes in front of me going over that routine like right in front of my face.
JESSICA: You’re so lucky.
LAUREN: And I was honestly watching her more than I was some of the things happening on the competition floor. Even in practice, she’s definitely stoic, sort of stays by herself. She finished bars and didn’t look at her score and just went and worked beam immediately. And I was so impressed with her just every step of the way. She’s going to be huge I think.
JESSICA: One to watch. So Uncle Tim, we were both watching the webcast at home and I’m interested to know what you thought of the new broadcast team of Amanda Borden and newbie broadcaster Sam Peszek. We’ve seen her on some college meet things here and there but never at this level with an elite meet. So what did you think?
UNCLE TIM: Alright so, I guess something to keep in mind. This was a webcast. This was not a TV broadcast. I feel like, and this is safe to say, a web broadcast producer and a TV producer are not expecting the same thing. I feel like with a TV sports broadcast in America, the broadcasters are very self serious and there’s this kind of intensity and melodrama to it. I feel like with a webcast, you can be more loose and fun and with Sam and Amanda, it just felt like one of the girls having a sleepover or something, like talking about hair and leotards and stuff. I felt like they were just themselves. I mean it was evident that they had not read the Code of Points like Shannon Miller did before London in 2012. But it didn’t really bother me because they did have some astute observations. For instance, Sam pointed out that Skinner is walking a very fine line on floor. As Lauren was talking earlier, she has some form issues wit her double double layout. And Sam pointed out that if Mykayla is not careful, she could receive credit for a double double tuck instead of a double double layout which would just shoot her D score in the foot because she also does a double double tuck and she can only get credit for one double double tuck. So I thought those little observations were good on Sam’s part.
JESSICA: I really enjoyed listening to them. And I also enjoyed how from the junior broadcast through to the senior, they got more and more comfortable sharing more details of their own lives, had little exchanges back and forth, like I saw you do this. Oh and I watched you do this. Little things like that, I really enjoyed. But Lauren, being there in person, you got to see one of the most precious moments in gymnastics history between Sam and Chellsie Memmel which I just love. Will you tell us what happened?
LAUREN: There was a little bit of a break before the seniors started warming up. So backstage, they had this room set up for everyone. Everyone was going to get dinner. And Memmel was standing and Sam kind of went up to her and Memmel is going over the code with Sam. And it was adorable because you know, Olympic teammates five years ago and now they’re stil involved with the sport on a totally different level. I tweeted something about Memmel, not it was about Anna Li. She was in her little judge’s costume, which is what I call it and it looked like a little kid playing dress up in mom’s clothes. And I think I’m just not emotionally ready to see all of these elites in these new roles with USA Gymnastics. So the fact that Sam was doing commentary and Memmel and Anna Li were doing judging, I was just shedding tears all over the place. But the whole Memmel and Sam thing, that just sealed the deal for me. I was like okay, this is probably the cutest thing in the world. So yeah I was really happy that I eavesdropped on that conversation.
JESSICA: I like that you point out how there’s so many of these very recently competitive elite gymnasts, just last year who are now judges. Because Kathy Kelly, who ran the women’s elite program for many years, before she retired, she made a point of recruiting all of these new judges. One of the things about seeing all of these new elites who were just competing last year, I’m used to seeing that from Russians and ex Soviet countries. But I’m not used to seeing it from Americans. I have a friend who is an elite trampoline coach and Martha came to one of their camps and talked to them as a group and they were kind of complaining about we don’t have a voice in international competition. We don’t have a voice in judging. We just aren’t part of the conversation with the trampoline organization within FIG. And she was like you know if you want a seat at the table, you have to win. And then you’ll get a voice. And that’s exactly why I feel like Kathy Kelly made such a point of recruiting all of these new American judges because now we’re number one, on top again. Now we have more opportunity to infiltrate the ranks if you will, of Brevet judging. You definitely saw that at this meet with all of these baby Brevets. Speaking of Martha Karolyi, let’s pretend for a moment that you are Martha Karolyi and you have to decide today who’s going to be on your world team. Because really, that’s what it’s all about. Who are you going to pick and keeping in mind it’s only a four member team and it’s an individual and event world championship. There’s no team competition. Let’s recap where we stand right now. At this meet and taking into consideration that Biles was having her allergies and didn’t compete. Maroney was first on vault with a 15.6 and Skinner was second with a 15.2. Kyla Ross won the all around and also won the bars. Kocian was second with a way lower score, a 14.45. Beam was Peyton Ernst in first with a 14.7. Not a really high score for elite. Ross was second with a 14.6. And then on floor, Lexie Priessman won with her glorious layout half in half out, her grown up routine. And Peyton Ernst was second with a 14.5. And McKayla Maroney was third with a 14.35. So knowing that, and knowing what you know about everything going on in the last year and of course Uncle Tim’s UTRS rankings, his score rankings which are updated and everyone should go read and considering that Biles is the second best vaulter in the world and this year she has the highest all around score in the world competing abroad, not in the US, Lauren who do you put on your team? Four people. Go.
LAUREN: Maroney, ,Ross, Priessman, and Biles. I think Ross would do bars and beam and Maroney would do vault and floor. And Priessman and Biles would do all around. Priessman could also qualify for vault finals and floor finals and so could Biles. I think that because we’re a country that’s supposedly you know best in vault or whatever, we should probably have two people who can qualify to a vault final, which we’ve never had. Well, we didn’t in the last quad, which is kind of embarrassing because that’s what we’re known for and we can’t put up more than one gymnast in a vault final. I think having like, I mean Priessman, I don’t know if she, she would qualify. I don’t know if she would win or anything. But her vault is a little crazy right now. I think she could qualify to a final. And so could Biles. I think you said she was the second best in the world right now so it would be cool to see who from the US could make a vault final. I think Biles could make any final if she has a good meet, maybe not bars if only because she can get a little crazy on that and never gets the good execution. But I think beam and floor, she could probably make a final. Ross could make bars final, I think no problem. Beam, I think she could if she has a good day. I still think she needs to upgrade and she’s apparently going to show an upgrade or two at nationals so hopefully she does. And yeah I think that would be a solid group for getting two in with solid all around potential and getting at least one in every final but hopefully two in every final.
JESSICA: Alright Uncle Tim, give us your team and defend it!
UNCLE TIM: Alright well first I need an update on Elizabeth Price.
LAUREN: Oh yeah!
UNCLE TIM: Does anybody know what’s going on with her?
LAUREN: Yeah she had a hip injury after the World Cup in December, didn’t really go to a lot of the camps and was supposed to do two events at Classics but apparently re-tweaked her hip injury and decided to just play it safe. It’s nothing serious but she just decided to hold off until nationals because she qualified for being an Olympic alternate. So she didn’t have to worry about qualifying. She should be back.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. And is she doing all around at nationals or?
LAUREN: I don’t know. I think the plan is still two events, which I would imagine are bars and beam because that’s what she trained at the Ranch most recently.
UNCLE TIM: I want her to be on my team but it sounds like her health might not let her be on my team.
JESSICA: Maybe she would just be no those two events.
UNCLE TIM: It’s true. She could.
LAUREN: Would she make a bars or beam final do you think?
UNCLE TIM: Ummm hmmm maybe. I don’t know. Obviously I am not the panopticon that is Martha Karolyi. I don’t see everything going on so it’s a little hard for us to say. I feel like Lauren’s list is kind of what everyone is saying so I’m just going to go and be a contrarian and say something a little different. So I would say that I would put Ross in the all around just because she’s very consistent, I would put Maroney up just on vault, I would put Priessman up just on floor and then I would have another all arounder and I’m actually going to leave Simone Biles off of my all arounder. Jess, you’re going to hate me for that I know.
UNCLE TIM: But I feel like just between Classics and watching the Beyond the Routine, she has been really struggling on bars. And she also fell earlier in the year either at
LAUREN: Oh the Germany thing.
UNCLE TIM: At the Friendly meet between Germany, the US and Romania. And so I’m actually going to put her as one of my alternates just because of consistency issues.
LAUREN: Who would you put instead?
UNCLE TIM: That’s the big question. I really want Elizabeth Price to be the other person. I don’t know. I’m going to go with Brenna Dowell just because she has been doing well at camp and I feel like
LAUREN: Yeah she’s my alternate actually.
UNCLE TIM: with where there’s even more pressure than at the Secret Classic and yeah so I’m going to put her in. Brenna Dowell.
LAUREN: I think Brenna gets nailed in US competition. I don’t know if I’m just like not seeing things that the judges are. I think she took an extra swing on bars on Saturday but I feel like everything I see her do, even last year, she gets just like completely hammered in execution. Her beam, I didn’t see anything. Again, I was really far from beam but I didn’t see anything that was majorly wrong. She got like a 7.6 execution. I was like uh what? So I wonder if like, I don’t know, international judges would be a little more kind to her. I don’t know if there’s a conspiracy theory that they just don’t want to score her well in the US but I feel like she gets just completely yeah slammed.
JESSICA: Well let me tell you guys how it’s going to be. First of all, it’s going to be Ross in the all around because she is Ross and because she has perfect execution and because she has the reputation to go with it. And then it’s going to be Maroney, same deal, vault and floor. And then it’s going to be Biles in the all around. That’s right, I said it, in the all around. Because they know she can do it. So what if she falls sometimes? Gabby fell a lot. Gabby couldn’t make a freaking beam routine to save her life before the Olympics. In the training hall we know, it was like she had vaseline on her feet. So Biles just needs a little confidence building, she needs to be put out there. And she loves to perform, so if you believe in her, she will deliver. So it’s going to be Biles in the all around and she’s also going to be a vault and floor person. And then I’m going to go with, it’s either going to be Dowell or Ernst as my last position and then Priessman probably as the alternate. Because Ernst, here’s the thing, I think she will score even better internationally than she does here because her lines are so beautiful and you know every international ju….I just made up a new word. A judge orgasm. A jus. So they will have those for her lines and beautiful execution. Yeah maybe she’s my fourth one and then Dowell and Priessman would be my alternates. So that’s what’s up. I’m probably right just so you know. So prepare yourselves.
UNCLE TIM: I mean to be fair to go back to my point about Biles. I mean Aliya Mustafina won the University Games with a fall so
JESSICA: And Ross won this competition with a fall. Kyla Ross fell on floor.
UNCLE TIM: We could very well see a world champion win the all around with a fall this year. We could see it.
JESSICA: And it wouldn’t be the first time, since Ferrari was the first one with a fall. They thought oh it’s all changed now since we’ve changed it to a whole point for a deduction when you fall now. But no you can still win with a fall. Oh and let me remind everybody. Kyla Ross won the competition all around. Peyton Ernst was second. She’s from Texas Dreams. She has beautiful lines, probably wears a bun if I remember correctly. Brenna Dowell is from GAGE so same gym as McCool. Abigail Milliet was fourth. Kennedy Baker from Texas Dreams was fifth. And Maggie Nichols with the crazy wipeout was sixth. So, I don’t know that’s important to go to sixth place and talk about the wipeout but I just feel like I should.
UNCLE TIM: So Jess, one more thing about the broadcast, I’m a little curious and I was wondering if you knew anything about this. Amanda a couple of times mentioned, oh Sam I can’t wait to see you at UCLA and there was like this awkward laugh. Jess, do you know how rehab is going for Sam? Is she coming back this next season? What’s going on with her?
JESSICA: Yeah, she’s definitely actually got confirmation from the NCAA because I wanted to make sure before we went on the air that everything was status quo. So yeah she’s definitely coming back. She is coming back for a fifth year as well. Her rehab is going well. I’ve seen some videos of her working her beam series and doing a little tumbling on floor and she looks great. I think in the broadcast, it’s interesting because it’s very unusual to have someone doing something like this who’s actually in school and in the NCAA. So I think she was being really cautious more than anything about talking about college, not wanting to sound like she was giving preferential treatment to anyone because Jordyn Wieber was on and she’s going to UCLA and she just wasn’t talking about it too much because she’s in this sort of influential position and because she’s one of the rare people who’s really having it all right now. She’s doing what she wants to do as a career and still competing. Tasha Schwikert I think was the last one we really saw do this. So yeah she’s definitely coming back and she’s looking good. So no worries there.
UNCLE TIM: So Jess can you tell me what’s going on in Colombia, what’s going on with rhythmic gymnastics? Tell me.
JESSICA: Oh my God. Ok so the other thing that’s happening besides acro national championships in the US which you guys should totally watch. All the videos are up on YouTube. USA Gymnastics has them up. I just think acro is so amazing so watch those. The other thing that’s happening is the World Games in Colombia. And basically this is sort of an alternative Olympics. It’s noncommercial. Everything is low cost. It’s sort of the Olympics for the sports that aren’t Olympic sports. There’s like sumo here, aerobic gymnastics, acro is here. Some of the sports that aren’t in the Olympics, this is their Olympics. It’s really prestigious even though it’s not really well known here but it’s really a big deal. So this has just been a complete fiasco. Like horrible horrible horrible. I hate to say it, but this is exactly why they don’t have competitions like this in a country like Colombia who just does not have a stable infrastructure. And really this is the exact reason why even though they’re trying to push having countries without great infrastructure to hold more events, and you know by way of doing that, sort of push the level of competition up in those countries, this is why you can’t do it. Here’s what happened. First we get a report that the temperatures are too high. Of course, the FIG has rules to sanction an event. The equipment has to be up to standard. The safety has to be up to standard. So that includes making sure that it’s not 100 degrees, making sure that there aren’t drafts of air from the air conditioning or heating so strong that they would knock the ribbon out of its trajectory in a rhythmic competition, stuff like that. But you can see how the electricity going out could be really dangerous for the athletes. So all of this is happening. The FIG releases a press release that says this is unacceptable. We’re going to cancel the competition. Then they decide a couple of days later, right we’ll have the competition. Everybody’s here. But you have to sign a waiver saying that you release us from liability. If you’re athlete gets hurt because we told you this wasn’t safe and you competed anyway, then that’s on you. That’s on your federation. USAG released a statement on Monday saying that they were not going to sign the waiver. They thought it was unreasonable. And to their knowledge on Monday, they were the only country to not sign the waiver. Meanwhile, athletes on Facebook have been saying, several athletes, tramp athletes from the US have been saying that they want to compete but they’re not being allowed. Of course, athletes don’t always have their health and safety as first priority. But at least it seems like USAG is looking out for them in this case. There’s a really interesting discussion on Gymnastics Coaching going on where people weighed in on what’s going on over there. And one of the commenters said that they have been on tramp a couple of times and had power failures in the gym twice while people were mid-air. Luckily, the lighting came back on and nobody was hurt but you know they weren’t doing really difficult skills. It just sounds like this is sad all around. It just sucks for the athletes. And it really sucks that somehow Cali, Colombia pulled wool over everybody’s eyes and made it seem like they had the infrastructure to hold a safe event and then it turns out that they don’t. It’s just terrible. It’s super sad. It’s really something that Shakira needs to look into and take care of in the future because really I hold her responsible for everything that happens in Colombia and I know she has the power to fix this.
UNCLE TIM: (laughs) She’s the only Colombian.
JESSICA: She is the only one. That’s all that matters to me. You know she can make a difference. Someone call her.
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JESSICA: It’s time for listener feedback and our special special special announcement which I am so excited about. But first, let’s get to international shoutout of the week.
UNCLE TIM: It goes to Chris Snow of Canada. He follows us on Twitter, so hi Chris! I think you’re the first Canadian we’re giving a shoutout to. And Jess, what’s going on in the wonderful week of gymnastics according to Jess?
JESSICA: Well, some sad news in the world of gymnastics in that the Chalk It Up movie did not make their funding goal. So that is a real bummer. Hopefully, just through this initiative, they will be able to prove that there’s really enough interest in this to get it looked at but it means that everyone who donated, you will be getting a refund. It’s a bummer. We wish them the best of luck and I really have confidence that one way or another, this movie is going to happen. Maybe it’s going to coincide with the Rio Olympics and we’re going to have to wait a while but I think it’s definitely going to happen one way or another. We definitely would like to recommend that you listen to the Freakonomics podcast, that’s right Freakonomics. They just re-posted an old episode about quitting and it will blow your mind. Uncle Tim, what did you think about it?
UNCLE TIM: Well as I was listening, I was thinking about gymnastics because they talk about sunk costs as opposed to opportunity cost. And sunk cost is all the time and energy you’ve invested into something and opportunity cost is what you could be making if you were to change gears. And so sunk cost, I was thinking about how it’s really hard to quit gymnastics or shift gears in gymnastics, especially when you have invested so much time, money, and energy into the sport. And I was thinking about how that’s so hard for elites and for their parents too. I think that’s been discussed in the past especially in Pretty Girls in Little Boxes. But I was just thinking about how especially the year after the Olympics, how it’s probably hard for some elites because they were so committed to the idea of making the Olympic team and didn’t make it and now they are going to continue training for Rio and it’s probably hard because they don’t know if they’ll make it in 2016 or not. Jess, what were you thinking as you were listening to it?
JESSICA: I was really going back to the time in gymnastics where it was clear that I had one thing that I was good at which was basically tumbling. And everything else terrified me and I really should have found another way to concentrate on the thing I was good at instead of trying to make it possible for me to actually do a bar routine that would score over a 7.5. It’s just like there was so much shame around quitting and I really think that’s a cultural thing and I talk about that in the show. So much shame around quitting and it was just something that was the worst thing you could ever do except becoming a cheerleader. That was worse than just quitting. And you know, we weren’t even allowed to visit with our teammates after someone quit. After I quit, I went to a meet and wanted to hang out with my friends afterwards and they were in the separate area. But the meet all over and my old coach was like no that area is only for athletes. And I was like (gasps). I mean black mark on my soul forever. It was so traumatic and I wish I had someone who said to me you know you’re great at this. Here are your strengths. Why spend all this extra time on bars and trying to conquer your fear of beam? You know, there is this awesome sport called acro sport and you just tumble and do handstands which is your favorite thing. Or there’s a sport called tumbling where all you do is tumble. Or there is trampoline, your favorite thing in the world, jump on the trampoline. There’s so many other things that you can do and use the things that you’re good at. So I really encourage you guys especially parents of gymnasts and coaches, there’s so many opportunities for gymnasts. There’s so many disciplines in gymnastics. Take a look. Check out the Freakonomics podcast on quitting and see how it speaks to you. Before we talk about our special announcement, which have I mentioned how excited I am about it, I just want to remind you guys how you can support the show. You can write a review on iTunes. We love those reviews. They crack us up and they inspire us to keep doing the show. It’s a lot of work and we do it out of love so every time you guys write a review, it just fuels our passion even more. Remember to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. If you don’t have an iPhone device or a Mac or Apple device, I know iPhone device. I just made that up. You can download the Stitcher app. It works on the Google products, the Android products. So download the app and you can subscribe to the podcast there. You can also support us by donating to the show or you can shop in our Amazon store. We have in our store on the Amazon site, Gabby Douglas’s new photo album book that she has out and Louis Smith’s brand new book. You can buy them there and a little bit of the portion of what you spend will go to the show. And I want you to remember that we post all the routines we can on our website so that you can augment your listening experience by watching while you listen. There are also transcripts of every single show. They are back up and updated and I want to thank our awesome awesome awesome team of transcribers. You guys are the best. So go to the transcripts tab on our website and you can read all of the episodes there. And let us know what you think of the show. You can contact us. We read everything. Contact us by emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call us at 415-800-3191 or you can Skype us. The username is Gymcastic Podcast. And of course, we are also on Facebook. And there were some heated discussions this week on the Facebook page. People are totally getting into it. People don’t just make a comment. They leave an essay. And they’re really good which is great because our listeners are really great educated fans.
UNCLE TIM: And Jess, drumroll please. We have a very special announcement and it’s kind of your pet project so what’s going on next week.
JESSICA: I’m so excited. I have been thinking about doing this for literally years. At the same time I was wanting a gymnastics podcast, I was wishing there was a platform for us to hear about gymnastics the way that football fans do on their radio shows and their ESPN tv shows. I wanted something for gymnastics and at the same time, I was like I wish there was a platform to hear from this group of people in my sport. And it’s finally going to happen. And it’s the first time this has ever happened in gymnastics. There has never been a platform. There has never been a group who publicly got together and talked about the subject. The participants, as an ally in next week’s show will be Alicia Sacramone and we are so excited to have her join and lend her voice to this really really important issue. So next week we are having
UNCLE TIM: So what’s the issue?
JESSICA: Next week we are having the first ever lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, that’s LGBT panel discussion about gymnastics. There will be three gymnasts, one coach, and Alicia Sacramone the ally who will be joining us to all discuss what it’s like to be a gay gymnast in gymnastics, what the climate is like, what it was like for them competing, what it was like for them coming out. If they’re still in the closet, why are they still in the closet, what their fears are. And Alicia will be here as an ally to talk about why this is an important topic for her and why she wants to support her gay teammates and what she wants people to know, especially as a woman of strong faith. I think it’s just wonderful that she’s going to take part. Next week you guys, I can’t wait. I’m so excited. So be sure to tune in. It’s going to blow your mind. It will change your whole world. We’re totally in the middle of a civil rights movement. This is the next civil rights movement. Gay Americans don’t have the same rights. You can still be fired for being gay from your job. They don’t have the protections that regular citizens do. They’re not a protected class. It’s not written in the amendment that gives everyone else of special minority groups their protected rights. So it’s still really an issue even though we’ve come so far. It’s still really important and I’m so proud to have this podcast be part of this civil rights movement and really lend a voice to this group who’s so important to gymnastics and I feel like gymnastics is such a gay friendly sport and I’m so glad to be able to bring this to you guys.
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 sports with a z and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast. That’s going to do it for us this week. Until next week, I am Jessica from masters-gymnastics.com. And this week I have a meet report with photos from the Vancouver Phoenix meet in Canada.
UNCLE TIM: And I am Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym and I have updated the best scores of 2013 on my site.
LAUREN: And I’m Lauren from thecouchgymnast.com. Check out the website for my complete thoughts about the Secret US Classic.
JESSICA: See ya next week!