JESSICA: Well Maroney, there’s no way she’s doing all around.
BLYTHE: Ooooh… oooooh…
UNCLE TIM: We don’t know
BLYTHE: We don’t know
JESSICA: You think really she’s going to do all around?
BLYTHE: I think it’s a possibility yeah
JESSICA: Really? Do you think secretly she’s been doing all around and maybe she’s going to bust out and win just because she has like even her bar score sucks she’s going to win because she’s two points higher than everybody else on vault?
BLYTHE: And that’s the reason.
JESSICA: That’s sneaky!
[EXPRESS YOURSELF INTRO MUSIC]
JESSICA: This week, the Osijek World Cup, the Japan International, a preview of Worlds, and since it’s our birthday episode, we have two special gifts for our listeners. One is a very special announcement, and another that was a full year in the making. So make sure to listen all the way past the credits of this week’s episode.
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 50 for September 25, 2013. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner
SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile
UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you the top news from around the gymternet. Let’s start by talking about Bruno Grandi’s new suggestion that we should go to four gymnasts per team instead of six. Did he give a reasoning for this? A lot of people didn’t really understand his reasoning.
UNCLE TIM: In the interview he didn’t.
JESSICA: Oh well that would be why [LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: So the IOC has a restriction on the number of gymnasts that can compete at the Olympics. You can only have 98 Olympic athletes competing. And so what I think he’s looking to do is shrink down the teams that you can also have more event specialists and perhaps all around specialists. And I think that a lot of the outrage is coming primarily from American gymnastics fans, where we have enough gymnasts to field a team of you know 10. Or I don’t know. A really strong team right? With 10 people. But I can see how this would be advantageous and make things more competitive if you’re talking about some place like Romania where they do struggle to have put together a really strong team with six or seven or even five athletes now.
JESSICA: Ugh. I hate this idea. So it’s 98 Olympic athletes for the whole discipline of artistic gymnastics? Or is it the whole discipline of gymnastics? So trampoline. Oh but I see so he’s saying basically if we limit it, we could have more countries qualify.
BLYTHE: Yes. I think that what he’s trying to do is increase diversity. Because we all want to see more diversity in gymnastics. But it’s important to remember that it’s the IOC and not the FIG that sets the limit of the number of athletes that can participate in artistic gymnastics in the Olympic Games. And for the Olympics, the IOC has set it as 98 men and 98 women can participate in artistic gymnastics at the Olympic Games. And the way that they’ve broken it down, the way the FIG has broken it down, is that 60 of those 98 spaces are taken up by teams. So five per team in the top 12 teams. And then there’s two men’s and two women’s spaces that are allotted to athletes from the African continent. And then the other 36 athletes are all from countries who didn’t qualify for the team competition. And of course the FIG has broken that down into if you medal on an individual event at the World Championships preceding the Olympic Games and your country hasn’t qualified a team to go to the Olympics, you get to go. And then everybody else qualifies in through the test event. And the question the Bruno Grandi really seems to be trying to address is well do we have enough specialists qualifying in this way? Enough deserving gymnasts. Or should we maybe take down the number of people on each team so we can have more specialists. How do we want this to be distributed? It’s also important to remember that what Grandi is not saying, what he’s not saying, is I think there should be fewer gymnasts in the Olympics. And unfortunately I think that’s one of the ways you could read this interview. You say oh Grandi wants to kill the sport. He wants fewer people on a team. He wants fewer people in the Olympic Games in gymnastics, and that’s not the case at all.
JESSICA: That totally makes sense now ok. So of course you know how I feel about specialists. Greatest thing in the world. Makes gymnastics more exciting. Everyone loves specialists. It’s the most important thing in the sport. So that is my personal view. So I think this is fantastic. I think it’s the greatest thing ever.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] And Jess did a 180…
UNCLE TIM: …within two minutes.
JESSICA: That’s right. That’s right. [LAUGHS] He’s won me over!
BLYTHE: He’s a genius!
JESSICA: He’s a genius! I’m in! [LAUGHS] I think the great thing about this, and I just read the most fantastic article about this today, is that you can just back this up with the data. Has it been working, what they’ve tried to do with [inaudible] and the age limit and bringing more countries in and having more specialists. I mean I think this whole program, and it will show through the numbers, has been successful. Not this taking the numbers down, but the other things he’s implemented like the age limit to bring in more specialists and bring in more countries has totally worked and created excitement in countries that have never had an interest really in gymnastics historically. So I think the data could back this up. And I think if there’s more opportunity for specialists. People can stay in the sport longer, which you know is my favorite thing ever. And the perfect example of this is mister Italy with his footie pajama pommel horse outfit from the 80s that he wore at the Osijek Cup. Busnari, who’s been in four Olympics and totally kicked ass on pommel horse. We could see more of him. And you know if there were more exciting pommel horse routines, then I would be more likely to like pommel horse. Whereas if you watch normal people do pommel horse it’s like watching regular humans try to break dance. Totally boring. But people like him make it much more exciting.
UNCLE TIM: But so I was confused about the age issue and what he said in the interview. So he says the great drama of our sport is the age question. If you rob a female athlete of all hope of ever making the national team when she is just 13 or 14, if 18 year olds are considered old, and there are only a few exceptions, what hope is there? A sport that ages early has no future. So I think that he’s still saying that the youngens are really the best gymnasts on the women’s side at least. But he doesn’t really follow that up by explaining how he’s going to address that problem. He just says it’s drama. And that’s all he really says.
UNCLE TIM: Or am I reading that wrong?
JESSICA: I mean that’s the thing I don’t quite understand what he means there because when you look at the medalists, that’s not actually true from the last Olympics. The medalists were in their 20s and teens. It was split up. I mean, I guess if you’re looking overall it’s still more teens. But the best gymnasts in the world, we still have two medalists in their- three in their 20s on the women’s side. But I mean.
UNCLE TIM: But that’s three of what? How many? [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Yeah that’s true.
BLYTHE: I think if gymnastics were scored fairly, if artistry were taken as seriously as acrobatics, yes the 13 and 14 year old woman is generally, generally a better acrobat. Or at least has an easier time of doing their acrobatic skills than the 22, 23 year old. But, many people agree that a gymnasts’ artistry really evolves over time and gets better just immensely as they reach their late teens and early 20s. And I would like to think that if it were really 50/50, you know if artistry were just as important as acrobatics and it were scored like that, that you would have an even playing field. Because the younger kids would be good as acrobats and the older girls would wipe everybody in artistry. But I don’t think we’re there yet.
JESSICA: That is a beautiful point, Blythe. Because the other- I mean I feel like there’s a real push to create more parity between the, how do I want to put this, the marketing of the different disciplines of gymnastics. So even in the US you’re hearing more about trampoline and rhythmic now. And I think people are realizing that there’s all these different disciplines they can do, then maybe that will help. Because you know there is tumbling and if you love tumbling you just do tumbling. And just trampoline. It will help the artistic part of gymnastics rise up more and become more prominent since there are sports that just take care in the gymnastics discipline that just take care of the acrobatic part of it.
UNCLE TIM: I disagree. Because Bruno Grandi is trying to make the sport more scientific. That’s another one of his goals. And how are you going to make artistry scientific? Yes you can do a study to see and poll people-
JESSICA: Pulse rate! Pulse rate of the judges!
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] You can do a study and poll people and see what they like. What kind of music, what kind of movements they like and how those two work together to see on average what people enjoy watching. But, I mean artistry, I don’t know if making it scientific is going to work, and so I really do feel that with Bruno Grandi in charge, the emphasis is going to be on pushing skill level and figuring out what skills are more difficult than others and how those should be rewarded.
JESSICA: But they made this huge push since the last quad about how they’ve killed artistry and now they really have to bring it back.
UNCLE TIM: Do we know if they’re doing the deductions though? Has anyone gotten an artistry deduction that we know of?
BLYTHE: Radio silence.
JESSICA: That is a really great question. Another reason that they should have the iPads with the live scoring so we could just go look at the receipts. And then we’d know these things. Instead of it being a big giant black hole, dark hole, secret. Let’s talk a little bit about the Osijek Cup in Croatia. I love the fact that they had the little kiss and cry seats where you could sit while you got your score. Let’s discuss Sanne Wever’s routine. She’s from the Netherlands I think.
JESSICA: Yes she’s from the Netherlands. And a lot of people have been talking about this routine. A lot of people have been saying they’re so excited and it’s really unique. It’s not very unique in ahistorical aspect. But for the last two quads I guess you could say it was unique. The routine is entirely made up of double turns. There’s three double turns. And there’s aerials and there’s full twisting back handsprings. That’s the whole composition of the routine. So, the question, is this code whoring? Or genius?
UNCLE TIM: I’m going to go with genius as well
JESSICA: I think so too. I do. [LAUGHS] We all agree?
UNCLE TIM: Alright why though?
JESSICA: See code whoring I feel like is when you do something that does not help in the- you’re not doing it well. You’re trying to get away with it, like cheating a connection. And the connection is questionable. And it does not add anything to the composition of the routine. So it’s like let me see if I can get away with this and I’m going to do it a couple times, get judged, and then see what happens. As opposed to her routine, which actually has beautiful composition. As long as they’re giving connections to front skills, she makes her connections. And everything is done absolutely perfectly. She had one wobble in the whole routine. Is that a fair assessment of code whoring?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah I agree. So for instance after her pass of three turns, if she were to be a code whore, she would not do a simple split leap out of her I think it’s a double turn, she would do I don’t know what, I don’t know my balance beam code well enough to know what she could get a connection for there. But I feel like she would do something besides just a simple split leap out of that if she were really trying to be a code whore. And I think part of the reason why I like this routine is so much is partly because I have a bias towards twisting skills. I love her Luconi mount, which is her- she does a round off onto the board then a full twisting back handspring onto the beam. It’s probably one of my favorite skills. And it’s an E. And I also love rufolvas, the full twisting back handspring swing down. And so I’m just really partial to this routine. And I wish that she would do the luconi mount into a full twisting back handspring into a rufolva right away.
JESSICA: That would be so Khorkina of her. It would be fantastic.
BLYTHE: Talk about a dream combination. That would be wonderful.
JESSICA: There was discussion about how she actually missed a requirement. And if she put that requirement in there I think Gymnastics Coaching has this up, there were two judges that weighed in and scored the routine. And if she puts that in she could have something like a 6.6 start value. It’s like something insane. And I mean I would just love to see. I mean I enjoy watching that routine. It’s different. Her form is beautiful. She’s so clean. I mean I would so much rather see that kind of routine.
JESSICA: Than sloppy back tucks.
BLYTHE: Yeah. And every now and then, Coach Rick writes a little bit about overuse of one kind of skill. And I suppose you could make the argument that yeah there’s three double turns in that routine, is that maybe a bit of an overuse of one kind of skill. But you know what a real overuse of a skill is? Is like the front aerial back handspring layout. That’s an overuse of a skill. When everybody in the world and their brother is doing that on balance beam. That’s enough. And this routine is so original. And so lovely. That it doesn’t bother me at all that there’s three full turns- three double turns in there. And that’s where she’s getting a lot of her value and her difficulty. It’s awesome. And the other thing is, in a perfect code, I feel like originality would be given some kind of bonus.
BLYTHE: If that were to happen, she would absolutely get it. And that would just make this routine even more valuable. So we’re all fans. Genius. Not code whoring.
JESSICA: And I just want to make the point, when we say code whoring, we do not mean her personally. We mean the coaches and the construction of the situation of the code. We’re not personally calling someone a code whore. That sounds bad. It’s just you know, it’s a general term for everyone involved in the construction of the routine, not the personal teenage gymnast. So I just want to make sure we’re very clear on that. We’re not Dr. Laura for crying out loud. So Busnari, we discussed him and his pajama pants kicking ass at 34. 16.1. Uncle Tim, anything else to add about him?
UNCLE TIM: Well I was just curious what you thought of the routine, because you usually find pommel horse very boring. But it’s somewhat different routine from what you normally see.
JESSICA: Yeah he goes up to handstand like a million times which I think is way more exciting. And he has some little pausey-poos in there where it looks like is he going to make it then he goes. But it was more exciting to watch. And I really like his throwback 1980s socks. So. Yeah I mean he’s not doing air flares, but you know, I appreciated the routine. It wasn’t Artemev but it was ok.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah I like routines with flares. I know you can make the argument that there’s overuse of certain skills. But I would say that nowadays there aren’t a lot of guys who do a lot of flares. And so I like that. And I should admit that I’m probably also partial because flares were like the one skill I could actually do on pommel horse somewhat decently. And so I’m also a little partial to flares. Blythe do you have anything to add?
BLYTHE: I was thinking about this routine versus what Kristian Berki can do on pommel horse. And how would the two stack up. And I think that Busnari is physically at a bit of a disadvantage. Kristian Berki is like the gymnastics equivalent of Michael Phelps for pommel horse. He has the perfect body to do it and such extension and such flexibility that even when he’s doing the most simple things, he makes it look so great. And generally better than everybody else. And that’s why some people are calling him the greatest pommel horse worker ever. And so to have to go up against that if you’re Alberto Busnari is a bit difficult. And of course Berki has a ton of difficulty as well. And so it’s going to be hard for him. Busnari has done at least one of these flare to handstand and back down to flares combinations for a few years in his routine. And it really seems like it’s just catching on now. And I think it might be one of the trends on pommel horse of this new quadrennium. Cyril Tomasone of France has started working the same thing basically. Flares up through the handstand and back down into flares. And that’s new for him for this quad since the Olympic Games. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we see other people doing it too. I think Waldemar Eichorn of Germany.
UNCLE TIM: Max Whitlock does it too.
BLYTHE: I like it. I think it adds excitement to pommel horse, which is generally only excitement in terms of are they going to fall, are they not going to fall, oh there they go they might fall, oh look at that there’s a form break, that might throw them off.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] So true
UNCLE TIM: Well speaking of form breaks, can we talk about Epke Zonderland on the high bar?
BLYTHE: Oooh that’s your lead in!
UNCLE TIM: What did you think Jess?
JESSICA: Wait I’m watching it right now. Real time reaction. Ok here we go. Ok his hair is fabulous as usual. I bet he has a lot of girlfriends in medical school. Ugh. I mean if you can’t do a clean rybalko, come on now. Ooh. Ooh! With the feet. The laid out kovacs. Not so much. Oy! With the feet. Oh bejeezus christ! His gaylord! Aah! Oooh gaylord! If you do a gaylord and german giants, but he does german giants to just grab the bar the other way that’s kind of boring. Oooh!! [LAUGHS] This routine’s hilarious! [LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: Was it his german giants or-
JESSICA: Oh my god it’s when he goes sideways almost flies off the oh my god! Oh my god. This routine is like needs to go in the hall of fame [LAUGHS] for the all time most like gasps of horror. Looks like he’s going to fall sideways onto the bar, saves it, looks like he’s going to fall again. That was a mess! [LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: I know. My favorite part of his routine was his hair when he finished. It’s like all messed up.
JESSICA: That’s how bad it was, his hair was even messed up. Oh my god. Yeah. Let’s hope that was a warm up for Worlds and he cleans that up. Blythe-
UNCLE TIM: That’s our Olympic champion.
JESSICA: Is he only doing high bar or is he training- he’s got to only be doing high bar right?
BLYTHE: He’s doing high bar and parallel bars I believe. He might be doing pommel horse. Normally he stays off the leg events and he stays off of rings because he has shoulder issues. He did compete all around at the London test event because that was necessary for him to do. And it was very obvious that he’s kind of a three event gymnast. But the three events that he does are really really good. I think he’s as good at parallel bars as he is at high bar. It’s just he does more high flying release moves off of high bar so he’s known for that.
JESSICA: Well if he had shoulder problems before, he’s really going to have them now. Dang.
BLYTHE: Frankly he’s cleaner on parallel bars. And Zonderland, he knows that he’s not the cleanest gymnast. He’s said it outright, if you watch the recent Olympic profile on him that’s on the Olympic YouTube channel. And also he really does know when he’s competing in finals and when he’s competing in prelims.
JESSICA: This is true
BLYTHE: And in general his prelims routine is kind of like almost historically it’s just good enough to get him into the finals. And in finals he whips out something much cleaner. It’s like he puts more effort into pointing his toes and straightening his legs and such in finals.
JESSICA: He has gears
JESSICA: Like the Japanese and Chinese men
BLYTHE: Yes. Exactly.
JESSICA: Yep. I admire that so much in- and I mean especially in gymnastics, to have gears. [CLEARS THROAT] Excuse me. I’m getting choked up just thinking about how fabulous they are with their gears.
JESSICA: And I totally thought that Kenzo, the Kenzo with the super hard floor routine with all the twisties, was competing, but it wasn’t. It was a different Kenzo. So if you were like me and you were like he only got a 15.1 oh my god all this hype was for nothing, it wasn’t him. So just want to clarify that.
BLYTHE: Here’s a question for you guys. Should men be required to do a double somersault on floor? Or not?
UNCLE TIM: I say yes
JESSICA: If you’re an elite-
BLYTHE: Agree. Agree.
BLYTHE: I love the Japanese floor routines, they are superb twisters. But I do kind of think that if you can’t do a double somersault to your feet, you have no business in elite gymnastics. And it’s not that these guys can’t. But to me, it doesn’t feel like a best in the world kind of routine if you don’t do a double somersault to your feet somewhere.
JESSICA: You’re supposed to be able to show, since we don’t have compulsories anymore, your versatility and mastery of each type of acrobatic skill. Period. So that is just, it should be you know, it should just have to be one of the elements. If we’re not going to have compulsories, that has to be a requirement. I mean, yeah.
BLYTHE: All I want from Kenzo Shirai is one double arabian side pass. Or something like that. That would make me happy.
UNCLE TIM: Did you see the videos of him doing a double twisting double layout and a triple twisting double back?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah yeah
UNCLE TIM: So he can do that, they just aren’t in his routine right now.
BLYTHE: I read somewhere that in Japan, the guys, they don’t add double somersaults to their routines until fairly late, until they are fairly developed as elite gymnasts. It’s not that they don’t train them, they just don’t add them in. And so from the younger guys you see routines with all this twisting. And that’s kind of by design.
JESSICA: Ok let’s talk about former World Champion, queen of Italian gymnastics, Vanessa Ferrari. Her floor routine at the German Italian Friendly, I totally liked it. And her leotard. What do you think about that?
JESSICA: I liked it because the music fit. The floor routine, she finally put emotion to the music. That is what is different about this routine. I’ve never seen that from her before. Whether it’s emotional growth, whether somebody finally told her you have to connect with the music, this is part of it now. Whatever happened, it’s fantastic. I loved it. And I think that if they finally take artistry into consideration, she could be someone to look out for at Worlds on floor again.
BLYTHE: Oh yeah
UNCLE TIM: Yeah. For some reason I feel like Vanessa is suited for kind of a tango-y floor music. I’m just trying to think back to her old routines. In 2008 she used the song called “Fifth Element” which has the sopranos singing “ooooh!” It was terrible. It just did not work for her and her horrible triple twist. It just did not fit well. But in 2010 she used “Santa Maria” which was Alicia Sacramone’s floor music in 2008. And I think it worked for her a little better. And this one I kind of like, and it’s mostly because the cross leg stork stand in the corner actually fits with the music. It resembles kind of a tango dance move like the little kicks that they do in tango. And I like that. But speaking of code whoring, she does a full twisting double tuck into a standing back tuck.
JESSICA: No credit
UNCLE TIM: And it’s like no, no.
JESSICA: No credit.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah.
JESSICA: Comes to a perfect standstill like pfft. I can’t believe that she’s still getting away with that from the judges. Come on people. Or they need to change just like maybe they’re going to change the rule on floor if Kenzo wins with no double tucks. Maybe they’ll change it how you actually have to rebound into your back tuck, not stick your landing, stick your butt cheeks and then go [BOING]. Spanny, what’s the update on Gabby and what’s happening with the movie?
SPANNY: Well the movie has finally been announced that as predicted is going to be a Lifetime movie out next year called The Gabby Douglas Story which just screams Lifetime. As a connoisseur of Lifetime movies, I’m thrilled. Very thrilled. So they cast it. They had open calls, but they went with actresses that were moderately established. The most established, maybe the most recognizable, Regina King…
JESSICA: Love her
SPANNY: …is cast to play Natalie Hawkins. I have to wonder if Natalie had a say in the casting.
JESSICA: They’re consultants or something right? They’re not making this without their permission?
SPANNY: No because I think Gabby is going to be in it. I’m assuming just a cameo.
SPANNY: Or plays like a teammate or something. So obviously yeah.
JESSICA: So it’s not the unauthorized biography yet?
JESSICA: We’ll have to wait a couple years for that.
SPANNY: Right. Which will be many after this one. Yeah so Gabby will be played by Imani Hakim, who I guess was on Everybody Hates Chris, which was a show I always wanted to watch but I never did.
JESSICA: It was fabulous and she’s fabulous on it so yes we approve of this.
SPANNY: It’s exciting. I want to know who- because obviously the movie will revolve around London. Who are they going to cast to play the other girls? The other- I refuse to call them The Fierce Five, sorry USAG. You can’t copyright my brain. So no, it’s the Fab Five. So I’m excited to see who they cast to play those girls.
JESSICA: That will be good. Maybe they’ll play themselves, except for-
SPANNY: In terms of real life-
JESSICA: Kyla, she couldn’t play herself. Or Jordyn. But the rest of them could.
SPANNY: Yeah they could. Real life Gabby Douglas, as far as anyone knows, she is still training in LA. Word has it it’s just training, not super hardcore. But she’s keeping fit. Although I don’t think she’d ever really have a problem with that. She made a remark on Dancing With the Stars- or not Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance.
JESSICA: How dare you confuse those two shows!
SPANNY: I know. Bleh. Stupid Dancing With the Stars won the Emmy over-
JESSICA: I know
SPANNY: So You Think You Can Dance.
JESSICA: At least it was Derek Hough because he’s, of that whole crew, he’s ok. And also the one that’s all tatted up could dance
JESSICA: with Aly, so he’s pretty good too. At least
SPANNY: I did look at one of his dances. One of his Shawn Johnson dances was one of the ones nominated.
SPANNY: Question. So rumor has it the obviously Gabby is at Waller’s. Now am I wrong about this that Dom is a coach at Waller’s?
JESSICA: Yes. Dom-
SPANNY: He has a relationship with Travis Wall. Thus, Travis could finally choreograph Gabby’s floor routine as was his wish last summer.
JESSICA: That would be the greatest thing ever. I may start crying just thinking about it. So we’re going to have to change subjects immediately because these kind of fantastic dreams, I just can’t concentrate at all if I even start to think about it. But he did choreograph-
SPANNY: Kind of
JESSICA: the last Olympic champion’s floor routine even though she never got to do it. But. Oh my god.
SPANNY: So this moves us right into our next topic possibly. I’m sure everybody knows who Catherine Lyons is.
JESSICA: I die
SPANNY: Now her floor routine, don’t you think it looks like something Travis would have choreographed? It has a very contemporary feel to it. Or like a Mia Michaels feel. Maybe it’s like the hunched over-
JESSICA: It totally is
SPANNY: It’s so contemporary. Yeah.
JESSICA: It’s so different, yeah.
SPANNY: If Travis did her routine.
JESSICA: I can’t even, that’s too much too. Oh my god. Because Lyons already has the crazy ass dance. Like she’s like the Elvira Saadi of current gymnasts.
SPANNY: She totally is
JESSICA: It’s weird but you can’t look away but it’s gorgeous but it’s kind of ugly at the same time. And she’s just oh my god.
JESSICA: If he did her routine no, I would fait. I couldn’t even. I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.
SPANNY: Yeah. Yeah I watched her routine from the Junior Japan International, which took place in Yokohama. Which I’ve been to twice I think. It’s very lovely place. Has a big ferris wheel. Good food. Yeah she did well. I know a lot of people were really excited to see her go head to head on floor with Laurie Hernandez.
JESSICA: Yes the two of them at the same meet. Fantastic.
SPANNY: Yeah. On floor of course Bailey Key won everything, so let’s just talk about the other placements.
JESSICA: Literally. All around and every single event. And she won the all around by a point and a half with a fall. So that’s totally normal. Like pfft
SPANNY: That’s some Dominique Dawes shiz right there. What was her total? 58 something? Like that’s Aliya Mustafina level of all around score right there. You know what’s a tragedy that, I mean that we don’t send anyone to the Youth Olympic Games
JESSICA: I know.
SPANNY: Although would she qualify for? I don’t even know if she’s the right age. Whatever.
JESSICA: We should send more gymnasts to everything, I totally agree.
SPANNY: Yeah Laurie did well. I think just about everybody had a fall somewhere. Both girls did really well. Bailey destroying all the events. The new little Chinese Yan Wang, I only watched her beam but, how to put this delicately, it was very Chinese in that it looks like a wonderful one touch warm up.
SPANNY: But very good
JESSICA: Do you mean because there was zero choreography?
SPANNY: Yeah it was just skill skill skill skill skill
JESSICA: Yeah it was
SPANNY: Her double pike off as her dismount was incredible.
JESSICA: Huge! Huge like she did it off the trampoline.
SPANNY: I know, I was caught off guard.
JESSICA: I really enjoyed her routine. There’s no choreography anymore, but.
SPANNY: It was very clean and very precise. Difficulty was good, but, just makes you long for the old days I guess.
JESSICA: That’s right, or NCAA season which is coming up.
SPANNY: Yeah. Yes thank god. Those pictures, every time that I see a new UCLA picture with Jordyn that warms the cockles of my heart. Like oh, happy Jordyn. Hooray.
JESSICA: Speaking of NCAA ok, you guys have to watch the routine of Sai Miyagawa. Oh my gosh she does a layout- she’s the little tiny one, of course they’re all tiny, everyone there is under four feet tall. I’m talking of course the gymnasts, not the country of Japan. So she does front layout punch double front with her legs glued together and sticks it. What? What?
SPANNY: And that layout was just really high. I thought she was overrotated it. I was very caught off guard.
JESSICA: Yeah it’s not like a bounder with no hands, it is like a beautiful high layout.
SPANNY: And the rest I mean, the huge part of her routine is she dismounts with a double layout.
JESSICA: No big deal
SPANNY: Fourth pass, whatever
SPANNY: Another Romania girl named Andreea Munteanu
JESSICA: I know. I really liked her leaps on floor, otherwise I was like meh.
SPANNY: Right. It was typical Romanian junior routine. And I really despise that the 2.5 twist int tucked front is a thing again. Just because I thought we had escaped that like 15 years ago.
JESSICA: The name is back and the move is back.
SPANNY: 15 years ago. Wow. Yeah. A long time ago. It’s very 1997 of the code to reward that. I always think it’s a mistake. Now I suppose after a decade of seeing punch front layouts and front fulls and all the sudden we’re like eh he’s a front tuck. Awesome. Bleh. So Jess, last week you complained about picking the team so late. And apparently Al Fong listens to the podcast because he made some remarks.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Yes I think it’s totally because of us and I’m sure that he listens every week and it was a direct response obviously. Because who doesn’t listen? Really. Yeah so he put up a- he has a really interesting blog I think. And he put up a post about how you have to pick the best team that’s ready immediately at the time of the competition. And that he really believes in competing as much as possible. And that you can’t pick the team who was good two months ago, you have to pick the team that’s good right now at the moment of the competition. And that was I think that was two things. I agreed with him about the competing all the time. I mean obviously you have to rest, but more competition I think is really good. I don’t think American kids compete enough as elites. And but also I felt like it was a very- it’s a privileged gymnastics system thing to say in that it’s easy to pick a team at the moment when you have so many kids to pick from. I mean there was what seven or eight kids vying for the same spot at camp. What did you think?
SPANNY: I agree. I can see the benefits in both strategies. It would be nice, I would think, as an athlete to know you were on the team for at least an amount of time so maybe it’s a different mindset. Maybe it’s oh I’m on the team, I don’t have to stress out about making the team, I can actually focus on competing as a team member. However, you have to think of, I want to say it was- just to side track for a second. When I watch, because I rewatch gymnastics meets on a daily basis.
JESSICA: Who doesn’t? I mean.
SPANNY: Right? So during this last Championships, Tim Daggett makes a remark in his commentary that just makes absolutely no sense to me. And I have to assume it’s just a mistake. Where he says he is quoting Martha supposedly and that Martha said that if they had gone solely by Olympic Trial results, that Gabby would not have made the team. And I was like eh your Olympic Trials winner wouldn’t have made the team? I have to assume he means in 2011 where had they gone solely by Nationals results and meet results that Gabby would not have made the Worlds team. Perhaps that’s what he meant. Which is a good point, because she had such a disastrous competition. And then closer to Worlds, she obviously was training better and that worked to her benefit that she had time to work out and was one of the best in the country when it mattered. Yeah I see, I don’t know, I see both sides of the coin.
JESSICA: Speaking of Worlds and all of these meets, if you guys haven’t been following GymPower out of the Netherlands, you definitely need to. Follow their YouTube page, follow them on Twitter, follow them on Facebook. They have been posting secret training videos of the US. I think the US is you know they’re already in the Netherlands training before they go to Belgium for Worlds. Normally no no knows where they’re training so you can’t find them. But I guess in the Netherlands, there’s this video, there’s a mass of people all there watching. They videotaped all of training and put it up. It’s freaking awesome. Also got to watch The Hard Way to Success if you haven’t been watching the videos, watch the one of Dan Keatings. You should watch them all but definitely this one about Dan Keatings that just came out. It’s a lot like Beyond the Routine that Gymnastike does. Actually it’s totally different than what they do, but it’s another kind of gymnastics TV show. Completely different but it’s the same in that it’s a web series that does little biographical things about gymnastics. Love those too.
UNCLE TIM: This World Championships preview is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. As everyone knows, one of the most exciting event finals in Antwerp will be the men’s pommel horse final. I cannot wait to watch Kristian Berki take on Max Whitlock and Zhang Hong Tao. Personally I anticipate that very very soon, little boys around the world will be begging their coaches to teach them how to swing pommel horse just like Kristian Berki. And in order to do that, their coaches are going to need one of Tumbl Trak’s latest inventions. It’s called the colt. It’s a pommel horse trainer that’s the same width as a pommel horse but it’s half the length. And, it’s only 40 pounds, which makes it really easy to tuck into a corner of the gym when it’s not in use. And actually now that I think about it, you probably could buy this for your child’s playroom. I mean, I think that I’m going to buy one for Spanny’s son even though he’s only four months old because it’s never too early to get those boys circling. So head over to Tumbl Trak’s website and buy your gym or child a colt or five. Check them out at tumbltrak.com. That’s tumbltrak.com.
JESSICA: Worlds preview. The most important thing we have to tell you is how to watch, right? So if you’re in the UK be sure to check out rewritingrussiangymnastics blog for full details on how you can watch on the BBC. For full details on how to watch in the US, director of content and communications for USA Gymnastics Scott Bregman is here to tell us all about it. How are you?
SCOTT: So good.
JESSICA: Yay! I’m absolutely thrilled. I think everyone is super thrilled.
SCOTT: We’re really excited. We’re working with Universal Sports for the medal rounds. So it’ll be in a similar player to what we used earlier this year for the Nastia Liukin Cup. And everything that we’re covering will be available at our microsite for the event, which is usagymworlds.com. So it’s like the number one spot probably to check if you want to follow the US team. We’ll be posting photos, John Chang is coming who does an amazing job for us.
JESSICA: Love him. We love him.
SCOTT: Yeah he does a great job. And that’s what we’ll be posting. Routine clips and links to streaming, links to live scoring, interviews after training, anything else we come up with to post while we’re over in Belgium.
JESSICA: Can you give everybody a quick summary of what they’ll be able to see?
SCOTT: Yeah we’re definitely going to have live coverage of all the medal rounds. So that starts Thursday, October 3 with men’s all around finals. Then if you go over to usagymworlds.com under Event Info we have the complete schedule with all the times translated into eastern time so you can kind of figure out when it’s going to be on wherever you live. So we’ll have live coverage like I said starting Thursday, then Friday is women’s all around. Saturday and Sunday morning in the east coast starting at 8:30 both days we’ll have live coverage of the apparatus finals. There’s also a chance we won’t know necessarily till we get over there and talk to some folks and see what the set up is and what the internet speed is like and all that kind of thing, but we would like to- the goal is to stream subdivisions 1, 3, and 4 for both the men and the women because that’s where the American athletes are competing. And so a low tech adventure I guess. And we’re going to have one camera so if the Americans start on parallel bars for instance, we would show that entire group. And then rotate over to high bar and so on and so forth. So you’ll be able to see whoever is rotating in the American’s group because obviously our primary concern is making sure everyone can see Team USA.
JESSICA: Awesome. Live medal rounds, that’s huge. So we’re thrilled.
SCOTT: Yeah it’s live and it’s free and I think that’s maybe the first time ever for US viewers.
JESSICA: So if the wifi isn’t fantastic in the venue, can we still hope to see routines maybe of podium training?
SCOTT: Yeah. For sure. Either way for qualification and podium training we’re going to be posting individual routines from all of the Americans like we do kind of at our Championships or Classic or any of that kind of thing.
JESSICA: Now that you know how to watch, let’s talk about what you’re going to see. First thing’s first. The US team was announced. So camp happened and the team is announced pretty much exactly like we thought it was going to be. It’s Biles, all-around champion. Ross, fierce five member, silver medalist at championships. Maroney of course is going to defend her World vault title. And then Brenna Dowell made it who was third all around, fourth on floor I think. Third on floor? But we kind of thought that she would probably make it. Ebee is the non traveling alternate. And a lot of people thought she should really get the third spot based on what she did in the past. But she’s really been injured and just hasn’t had the time to train. And Bill Strauss gave an interview where he basically said he did ok but she just doesn’t have the consistency and the numbers. But you know she was good enough to take that spot. What do you guys think of this team? Do you think this is the correct team? Or do you think there’s someone left off who has a better chance than Dowell to get an individual medal?
UNCLE TIM: I feel like that’s a leading question because you’re going to say Kennedy Baker on beam.
JESSICA: Well I’m right if I were going to say that! But I mean, is there someone that has a better chance? Or is it better to take the third place all-arounder?
UNCLE TIM: Well the thing is we don’t events they’re competing. That’s the thing. So I mean, everyone’s saying that it’s going to be Biles and Ross in the all-around, Maroney on floor and vault and Dowell on uneven bars and balance beam. But I don’t know if that makes the most sense.
JESSICA: Well with Maroney, there’s no way she’s doing all around.
BLYTHE: Oh, oh, oh
UNCLE TIM: We don’t know.
BLYTHE: We don’t know!
JESSICA: You think really that she’s going to do all around?
BLYTHE: I think it’s a possibility, yeah.
JESSICA: Really?! Do you think that secretly she’s been doing all around and she’s going to bust out and win, even though her bars score sucks but she’s going to win because she’s two points higher than everyone else on vault?
BLYTHE: And that’s the reason. It’s not so secret that she’s been training all four events. She showed up to Classics and she showed up to Championships and in the podium trainings, she was working out on bars and she was working out on beam. We can kind of go back to 2011 and project out, in the all-around qualifications, she was 11th. And she was 11th pretty much because she was getting 16+ on vault. But it would be the same thing here. She could get around a 16 on vault. Kyla Ross, if she does her usual brilliant job on vault, is only looking at a 15. So Maroney has this advantage on vault, maybe a little advantage on floor. And I think there has been a lot of assumption that Maroney will do vault and floor and Dowell will do bars and beam. But what if you took Kyla Ross out of the all-around and said your strong events right now are bars and beam. You might be able to medal on bars and maybe might be able to medal on beam. We think that you should focus on those two events and put Maroney into the all-around and sort of see what she can do. In terms of, they may be even thinking a couple of years down the road here. Maroney said she wants to continue until 2016 and she’s very serious about that. And so they might sort of look at it as McKayla gains experience in the all-around kind of competition. Though I think there could be this kind of McKayla Maroney Kyla Ross who’s going to do all around. Or and this would be a big shame for Brenna Dowell, they just put all three of them in the all-around and then let Ross and Maroney fight it out in the actual competition. And then maybe Simone Biles has a bad day like she did at Classics. And then you have Maroney and Ross, the two ex-teammates, the two Olympians in the all-around final. We don’t know.
JESSICA: Well it’s interesting because I feel like, I know Maroney’s training all-around, but training all-around compared to actually being in routine shape and ready to compete at Worlds. But I just really didn’t consider this possibility. Now it makes sense what people are kind of saying. Dowell is really an alternate. Biles, Ross, and Maroney are the ones that are going to compete and they’ll do all-around and let the cards fall where they may. And if anyone gets hurt, Dowell can fill in on any of those events, which makes sense.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah, I think there’s another scenario. There’s the three all-arounder scenario. Then there’s the Biles and Maroney all-around and Ross on two events and Dowell on two events. But I also think you could do perhaps Biles in the all-around and Dowell in the all-around, just because she doesn’t really have, not a super strong chance of medaling on any of the individual events but maybe as an all-arounder, she could get on the medal podium. And then putting Ross on the events and McKayla Maroney on the other two events. I think we’ll see what happens. And it could be the three all-arounders. But I also wonder if USAG will allow Martha to do that because of the kind of backlash that could come from that because you are given four spots and why would the United States not take them all?
JESSICA: I feel like backlash smacklash. They don’t care. It’s all about who they think has the best chance of getting a medal. They would have no problem doing that.
BLYTHE: Yeah, it’s all about medals. Speaking of, question for you guys. It’s been going around. Some people have said they see the US women getting four medals at these championships. Some people see them getting five medals. I think five was Scott Bregman’s number. Six was Nancy Armour from the Associated Press. That’s what she sees. What do you guys see?
JESSICA: Four for sure. Biles all-around, Ross bars, Maroney vault and then Biles another event too. For sure, four. Is that what I said? Four, right? Yes. For sure, four.
UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. I could see maybe let me think. I have to count. Let me do math here. That’s tough. What’s your prediction Blythe, while I do the math?
BLYTHE: I’m thinking six. It may not happen; the USA gets two people on the all-around podium. But I think they would very much like it to happen. That’s what they’re gunning for. Just being on the podium, as Martha says. Not necessarily the gold, but being on the podium. So I think that they’re kind of penciling in two. Personally, I think maybe one.
BLYTHE: One all-around.
JESSICA: Oh one all-around.
BLYTHE: Yeah but okay let’s just say two for the all-around. I’d go out on a limb and say that Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney will fight each other for the world vault title. The only person who seems to have two vaults that could challenge them is Hong Un Jong. I’m thinking back to the 2009 world vault finals when Hong Un Jong, she came out there and threw the Amanar and threw the Cheng and she fell on both of them. She just wasn’t prepared to do it because she wasn’t quite in shape after the Olympics. But you know, whatever. But Hong Un Jong also looked great at the Universiade. So yeah I think that those three, it will be those three. The other thing is, I hate to say this to Maroney, but Maroney was more of a sure thing at the Olympics than she is now. There’s this footage that came out of Simone Biles this weekend training a Cheng.
JESSICA: Beautiful Cheng
BLYTHE: Beautiful Cheng! And her second vault just as it was as nationals was absolutely phenomenal. So there’s that. And Maroney should be on the podium. But I think if Biles comes out there with a Cheng or if Hong Un Jong hits, it’s not necessarily Maroney’s to lose the way it was in London. But anyway, that’s a side note. Two in the all-around, two medals on vault. Bars, between the Chinese and the Russians on bars, I don’t know if I see an American on the bars podium. It would have to be Ross, pretty forcibly. I don’t know if that routine is quite strong enough to handle, to stand up to the Chinese, looking at two Chinese in the finals and probably looking at two Russians in the finals as well. That would be difficult. On balance beam, maybe Ross, maybe. Again, it’s hard to say. I haven’t done enough analysis. So we could say maybe one medal. And then on floor, one or two. Biles is an exceptional tumbler. So is Maroney. Maroney has exceptional expression. I would kind of say one, but maybe two. So adding up their best possibilities here: two medals in the all-around, two medals on vault, a medal on beam, two medals on floor. That’d be 7 medals and that would be an enormous haul for the Americans at these championships. But again, I think that’s like really best case scenario.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to be 7.
BLYTHE: I’m going to go with 5.
UNCLE TIM: That’s going to be my number, 5. I’m going to go with one in the all-around, two on vault, and I’m going to put Kyla Ross on the podium for uneven bars. I’m going to assume that one of the Chinese girls will not hit and mess up and she’ll somehow make it onto the podium. I wouldn’t say for gold. I know that internationally she has scored well this year. She got a 15.45 internationally which is a really high score. But at the same time, in event finals, I don’t know that she’ll have the little extra umph that will make her stand out. And then I’ll go with one on floor. I’m not sure whether it will be Maroney or Biles.
JESSICA: Well, and write this down and put it on the wall and we’ll see who gets it right. It’s going to be really interesting. It’s really exciting that we’re in a place where we can be like yeah we’re going to win between two and seven medals probably, you know. It’s just an exciting place to be as a country, I think.
UNCLE TIM: On the men’s side, not so much.
BLYTHE: The US men are looking on with envy.
JESSICA: What about floor for the guys? If Legendre can actually hit and keep it together after leaving American soil for once. Like, he’s capable, maybe he puts some glue on his feet so he can actually stick a landing. Is it possible for Legendre to medal?
BLYTHE: I say no.
UNCLE TIM: It would be really hard yeah.
BLYTHE: The reason is just because Legendre, although he does seem to have cleaned up his form somewhat, there are a lot of other people who have close to that difficulty score who just have much better form. I can see Legendre in the final. I don’t know if I see him on the podium.
JESSICA: Oh Legendre.
BLYTHE: I mean even Jake Dalton could probably beat his score, just on his form.
JESSICA: This is the thing. When are the US men going to put a McCool on their freaking team? This is what I’m waiting for. That never happens. They never take the person who gets the execution score.
BLYTHE: They had Sasha Artemev in 2008.
JESSICA: That’s true. That’s true. He was a savant on pommel horse.
BLYTHE: Yeah he was a McCool. I went back and watched his pommel horse in team finals in 2008 and was just kind of like, I just sat there in awe. That was one of the greatest gymnastics routines.
JESSICA: He was just, he was just yeah, one of the greats. And his whole body was perfect for that event. No biceps, because we know those are a pommel horse killer. So one thing I just want to add before we go on to our other worlds prediction, is that you guys need to, if you are not on Vine or Instagram or Twitter, you must have those. Download those right now just so you can follow Maroney. Maroney does not care, she has no filter. She tells it like it is. Her middle name should be Honey Badger. I love her vines and her tweets and I’m so glad that USA Gymnastics has finally gotten over the whole social media blackout. They’re not giving away anything about the team. She’s just telling it how it is. So this is my favorite tweet from her in the past week that just totally sums up, I think, why the US team is so good when they go to international competitions because camp is worse than any pressure they will ever experience at a gymnastics meet. So she says, “The sun just came out and lit up our whole entire room. And Kyla Ross goes wow is God finally here to save us #camptalk” I love this girl! You must follow her! So let’s talk about our worlds prediction. There are so many people already out. So let’s briefly go through the list: Northern Ireland’s Luke Carson, who was already struggling because his funding got cut, broke his leg again and there’s a video of it. We’ll put it up. I cannot get it to play. It’s really weird. He was punching for vault. It wasn’t a landing. And it was the same leg, which makes me think maybe it never healed properly in the first place. That’s my unofficial medical opinion. So that’s super sad for him. The British team awww: there’s a little Twitter drama this weekend with the British men’s team. Who, I can’t remember, oh the one who sat next to the princess was put on the team instead of the red-headed guy.
BLYTHE: No no no. Well yes and no.
JESSICA: Not the one that straddled the judge’s face, not him.
BLYTHE: That’s the red-headed guy. The one who sat next to the princess is Kristian Thomas. The tall man of British gymnastics. And the one who straddled the judge’s face is Daniel Purvis. He’s the red-headed Scot.
UNCLE TIM: And he’s on the team.
BLYTHE: He’s on the team. He’s aiming to stay on the vault podium during vault.
JESSICA: So the one who got really upset and threw a fit on Twitter
UNCLE TIM: was Theo Seager
JESSICA: We don’t really know what happened of course at camp but he seemed to think that it was all political, why he was taken off. And he had no problem expressing his feelings on Twitter at length, many many times.
UNCLE TIM: I think that Theo’s best event is vault. And then recently at the Westminster Cup, Kristian Thomas beat Theo on vault. That’s probably the reason why Kristian Thomas was put on the team. Again, I don’t know all the backstory. And there’s politics. He said, I don’t remember all of it. He said he basically felt like they were just trying to put the “best” members on the team and he was upset about that. Yeah I think that’s probably why Theo was taken off the team when he saw that Kristian Thomas did so well after coming back from an injury.
JESSICA: Yeah and that makes sense. He did make finals at the Olympics on vault.
BLYTHE: Seager was on the nominative roster that was submitted to the FIG and of course that doesn’t mean that you are on the team. But he was on the nominative roster, which signals that this is an idea of a person we’re thinking about putting on the team. The team as named was everybody on the nominative roster, except they replaced him with Thomas. And Thomas of course injured himself at the French International and actually had to be carried off the floor after landing his handspring double front and kind of knocking his knee a bit. But he’s okay. There was no real knee injury apparently. And he’s been back in training and as Tim said, he got up there very recently and did a nice job. So yeah, that’s too bad.
JESSICA: And he’s gonna win a medal now.
BLYTHE: (laughs) No pressure!
JESSICA: In Russia, there is more continuing bad news. Afanaseva is out with the ankle surgery. Komova is out. She was sick. And now Mustafina, there’s a rumor that she is now sick and is going to have trouble competing. But I mean who knows about this because honestly, I feel like we heard this same stuff in the Olympics with the Romanians and everyone was sick and they weren’t going to compete. And then whew, almost win the all-around. Any confirmation?
BLYTHE: Now again, not reading Russian, the last interview that I read, somebody said, I think the coach said Mustafina has not been feeling well. She has a cold. We all know that a cold is not going to keep you out of the World Championships. So I just kind of eh. If you’re showing symptoms of meningitis of course, that’s something else. But if you’re talking about a cold, meh, suck it up.
JESSICA: Exactly! And as we know from our Olympic champion who lost her medal, it doesn’t matter anymore because you can take the cold drugs. So, she should be fine. The really sad news is that Sweden, they had their first medalist in fifty years. We talked about her at Europeans. She won a silver on bars, Adlerteg, she is now sick. She had some kind of infection in her hand, I think it was. And the she had an allergic reaction to cortisone so she’s out. I don’t know really the full details on that. I do kind of appreciate that she’s not going to compete on bars with a staph infection like some world medalist from the US did famously.
JESSICA: Yeah you remember Katie Heenan had a staph infection on her hand and competed at Worlds with it.
JESSICA: Yeah! She talked about it in an interview. She had some rip that wouldn’t heal and she finally started taking antibiotics for it or whatever but it still wasn’t healing because she just kept ripping it open because she was going to Worlds and she didn’t stop training. So yeah she competed and put staph infection on the bars for everyone. At least in wrestling, that would not be allowed.
JESSICA: I know! Of course, I feel like she probably had no say in that whole decision. So who knows? We’ll interview someday. We’ll get all the details. Since she also competed in college with like three discs out of place in her back and couldn’t practice but then competed. So we have to get all the details from her because she had some crazy injuries she competed through. He Kexin retired at Chinese Nationals, smooched the bar at the end. It was so adorable. Love her. So sad to see her go. So she won’t be there to defend any of her titles. Jade Barbosa of Brazil of course is out with an injury. So that brings us up to date with who’s going to be there. So as Blythe said, it’s going to be a weird Worlds because not a lot of people are going to be there. What I want to know from you guys is what are the most exciting matchups? And then of those matchups, who do you think will win? We talked about vault and Blythe talked about Maroney vs. Biles and then 2008 Olympic champion from North Korea Hong Un Jong, them being kind of the front runners. I would like to add Vietnam’s Phan Thie Ha Thanh to that because her form is incredible and although she doesn’t have the start values, she has the beauty and the height. So I think she could be a dark horse. Of course, I’m not even including Izbasa, who is the Olympic champion. For some reason, I don’t think she has a chance against these four.
UNCLE TIM: I don’t think she has actually vaulted this year.
JESSICA: Well there you go. That’s why I’m not even considering her. She’s trying to get sexy on floor. That’s her concentration this year. Anyone else think that little Vietnam is going to represent it for the Asians on vault?
BLYTHE: I think she’ll be in the final if she hits in the preliminary.
JESSICA: Chusovitina? Is she on the roster?
BLYTHE: Chusovitina is on the nominative list for Uzbekistan.
JESSICA: Awesome! She’ll make the finals for sure. And there will be a standing ovation. And it will be great, no matter what happens.
BLYTHE: And Svetlana Boginskaya will be standing there on the sidelines in a wheelchair.
JESSICA: Ok so how about on floor? Blythe, who are you most excited to see, what matchups, head to head?
BLYTHE: On women’s floor or on men’s floor or just like on the floor in general?
JESSICA: The floor
BLYTHE: Well Tim and I were talking about this a little bit before. I think the men’s all-around is going to be super competitive. You can name like seven people who could win it starting with Kohei Uchimura. But he’s certainly not alone.
UNCLE TIM: Who else do you think might win it?
BLYTHE: Oh boy. Well you’ve got your Universiade, your double Universiade champion Nikolai Kuksenkov who won it in 2011 for Ukraine and who won it this summer in his debut for the Russian team. You have the two Ukrainians, Verniaev and Stepko, les Oleg, both who are wonderful gymnasts but haven’t really shown that they can go six for six when it really counts. You have David Belyavsky, your European champion, young guy, super talented, excellent technique and very hungry. You have Ryohei Kato who’s the young guy from Japan who Uchimura himself has pegged to be one of the people who could possibly beat him. You have Sam Mikulak from the US. He’s the only US guy I believe that’s scheduled to do the all-around. And gosh, that’s about 7 right? It’s going to be a really interesting and deep men’s competition!
UNCLE TIM: Who are you picking to win?
BLYTHE: In the scenario in which everybody has a perfect day, I think the top two would be Uchimura and Verniaev, just because Verniaev has so much difficulty. So much difficulty, and really a lot of elegance and a lot of class and very very good form. But maybe Uchimura as well. I’m still not convinced that he’s really beatable right now. What do you think?
JESSICA: Man, if Oleg hits, Uncle Tim will faint dead away. We won’t be able to wake him up the next week for the podcast. Oh my God, if that happens, Ukraine better throw a freaking party to end the world. Not that I have a lot of faith in his ability to hit all his routines, but man you have a lot more confidence than I do Blythe. That’s all I’m saying.
BLYTHE: Well it does seem like a long shot. It does. But every meet you see him in, he’s a little bit better. He’s a little bit stronger. And then generally, he goes to parallel bars and messes it up.
UNCLE TIM: Or pommel horse.
BLYTHE: Or floor. Okay, point taken.
JESSICA: Uncle Tim, who are you picking?
UNCLE TIM: I’m not going to pick Oleg because whenever I pick him, he always ends up with bronze. So I’m going to pick, just to have a different opinion, I’m going to pick Sam Mikulak as the guy who will beat Uchimura. I don’t know. I watched Uchimura compete earlier this year. He did quite well. But I think he’s starting to get to a point where maybe he’s not training as hard. It’s got to be hard to be like I won three world championships and an Olympic title. Now I’m going to motivate myself to keep being the best in the world. I don’t know. it would be hard for me to stay on top of my game. I think maybe he’ll slip up and we’ll see Sam Mikulak win, even though I secretly want Oleg to win so that I can be the only person in San Francisco riding on that day.
JESSICA: Did I ever tell you guys that one time, I was watching the Olympics in 2004, I think it was when Carly Patterson won. Anyway, so I had a party at my house to watch the finals. And I got complaints, three times security came to my door complaining that we were making too much noise. I was irate. Irate, I tell you. Because it was like 7:00 at night and I listen to all these bastards all around my house screaming every Sunday about football all day long. Oh I gave the security guy an earful and then you can bet I politely went on my balcony and told everyone what they could do with their complaints. It’s my one time of the year when I get to watch gymnastics and I have to listen to them every damn Sunday. So I hope you do riot. What are you guys least looking forward to seeing?
BLYTHE: Anybody who’s going to throw, any woman who’s going to throw a handspring double front on vault. There is the girl from Egypt and there’s Yamiliet Pena from the Dominican Republic and they’re both on the nominative rosters and they might try to make a statement and say hey I’m going to try and get into the vault finals this way. It’s just watching how they’ve done it in competition in their own countries and for Pena at both the Olympic Games and at the 2011 Worlds, there’s just not a lot of confidence that they’re landing it safely and I really hope we don’t see it.
JESSICA: That’s the first thing I thought of. You know what I would really like to see? One time in my life during a routine, I have seen a coach walk onto the floor and put an X like they do in Japan, like you’re done. Stop this routine right now. It’s too dangerous. And I would like to see, like Tim Daggett talked about sometimes going up to a coach and being like you know do you want your kid to be paralyzed? Then stop this nonsense. I’d like one of the judges or Nellie Kim to walk onto the vault runway and be like no, this is too dangerous. We’re not going to let you do this anymore. Like, period. Just put an end to this. It’s just not okay. I feel like that’s in the rules somewhere that they can do that. If it’s too dangerous, or maybe I’m imagining that, if not, there should be a rule written. If the audience faints while someone’s doing it, then the judges can stop someone from vaulting. It’s going to happen. Something horrible is going to happen and no one will have done anything to stop it. It’s too, I don’t know. Something needs to be done. Maybe we should all protest. How about you Uncle Tim? What are you least looking forward to seeing?
UNCLE TIM: I would have to say it’s Epke Zonderland on high bar.
BLYTHE: Ooh burn!
UNCLE TIM: Just because, as someone who’s looking for a modicum of execution on high bar, it’s just not there. For me, watching Epke, at least the last meet that we watched, is like listening to a beginner’s violin concert. It’s just not ugh. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. So yeah that’s my least looking forward to. Unless Epke comes out with better form.
JESSICA: Alright, what do you think the biggest surprise of Worlds will be? Something no one is expecting!
BLYTHE: I think someone from a “non-gymnastics country” is going to win a medal on balance beam. I think about Wevers from the Netherlands. That’s like the hot routine of the moment. Yeah I don’t know. In event finals, partly because there are lot of good gymnasts sitting this one out but partly because this has been an interesting year with talents from a lot of very diverse countries coming up. The finals on the women’s side are going to be stocked with gymnasts from “non-gymnastics countries.” If we could see like Jessica Lopez get a medal, that would be amazing.
JESSICA: That would be fantastic! I think that Sang Chunsong is going to win beam and that will be kind of a surprise because she’s sort of unknown. Not that like a Chinese gymnast winning beam, but the other person that could really be a shock in the all-around would be Giulia Steingruber. She is scoring so high, from Switzerland (what?) and I just think she could be a total shock, out of nowhere, if other people have falls and she hits everything.
BLYTHE: She’s an incredibly balanced gymnast, kind of a vault and floor specialist but very very strong and solid on beam and plenty of difficulty and bars. And she was what fifth at European Championships? Fourth or fifth? Fifth, she was fifth. And that was a big surprise for everybody. And she looks great, yeah!
JESSICA: Shake your booty if you remember this intro.
TIM DAGGETT: Gymcastic is fantastic!
ANNA LI: Gymcastic is fantastic!
LOUIS SMITH: Gymcastic is fantastic!
JESSICA: That’s right! It’s our birthday show! That was our original intro done by the fabulous Chris Saccullo, helped put that together and I want to thank him especially for all the help he’s given us over the past year as I learned how to be a producer. Before I make our very special announcement, I just want to remind you guys that if you love the show, please support the show by either donating, follow us, subscribe on iTunes, subscribe on Stitcher which you can use with Android devices, shop on our Amazon store, follows us on Twitter, follow us on Facebook, Tumblr, and especially, don’t forget to follow Blythe because she’s going to be at Worlds and read all of Uncle Tim’s special coverage and data and rankings leading up to Worlds this week. Special announcement time! We are going to try to bring you special mini-episodes directly from Belgium during the next week of Worlds. If it doesn’t work, just know we tried our best. But I think it will work! We’re going to do our very best to bring you a couple of mini-episodes from Worlds, longer than our normal hour and a half long shows. And make sure you are subscribed and following us. But especially subscribed on iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you subscribe to us so as soon as those episodes are loaded, you get notified right away. Let’s hear from you guys now! Let’s get to all the messages that you guys sent us about your favorite moments from the last year.
BLYTHE: Well, we’ll start off with a letter from SuperGymmie who was very very kind and wrote, “Happy birthday Gymcastic! Thank you so much for all your hard work! The gymternet loves you. My highlight from the past year: favorite interview, Tim Daggett;” they say, “I went from hating him to liking him. Bogi, Svetlana Boginskaya, that was just amazing. Laurie Hernandez and Simone Biles, that was a cuteness overload. Miss Val, Kyle Shewfelt, and Lena Degteva, so much insight into the Soviet system. Favorite moments: Jessica’s wheezing, Boginskaya talking about biting other gymnasts, Jenni Pinches talking about being a nerdfighter, all the fashion talk and the crazy skill combinations. That’s all I can think of the moment,” they say. “Thank you to all.”
UNCLE TIM: And we also got a letter from Daniel Bertolina. He says, “my favorite moments would probably be Spanny and Uncle Tim’s hilarious reports on Mary Lee Tracy’s Beyond the Routine and Jess’s wheezing, just to name a few of the bazillion things I love about Gymcastic.” I’m seeing a trend. They like your wheezing, Jess!
JESSICA: Oh my God, I just think it’s my natural genetic laugh. That’s wheezing. But okay, glad you guys like it because if you didn’t, you would have a real problem with this show because I cannot stop doing it. Ok, so a couple of other messages we got. Gar Adams, the reporter in the Middle East said, “Happy anniversary to my old and e-friends. Your work is elevating the level of gymnastics conversation and has been remarkable.” Jen says she loved the interview with Coach Elise Ray. Pam said, “still appreciate Daggett interview the most. Watching NBC gym commentary with renewed respect but loved Chellsie’s candidness.” A lot of people loved Chellsie’s candidness and how she just laid it all out there. Liliana said she loved Bogi’s interview and the confession that of course she bit her teammates to scare them. And Jess’s wheezing makes me laugh out loud every time. Oh good, I’m glad. A lot of people appreciated knowing that that was all totally true, busting the gymternet, well that wasn’t busting, that was proving a gymnastics urban legend to be true, that yes in fact Bogi did bite her teammates. Misty said she really enjoyed the interview with Miss Val. And then Katie, this is one of my favorite messages we got, the weekly geekery, the excitement about skills and gymnastics, the scrutiny of the code, mix of data and subjectivity, awesome! Yes! That means we’ve done it! That tweet right there sums it all up.
BLYTHE: Weekly geekery, love it! That’s beautiful!
JESSICA: That has to go on our t-shirts too. For you guys, what were some moments that just stood out? When we said we were going to start the podcast, this show is so different than when we started.
UNCLE TIM: I would have to say that a few of my favorite moments have been 1. Interviewing Svetlana Boginskaya. I feel like that is every gay gymnastics fanboy’s dream, basically so that was pretty awesome. I got to share a nacho with Kathy Johnson at NCAA Championships. I think that was a pretty great experience. Gymcastic recorded me. What else? I’m trying to think of our discussion. I don’t know. I really just enjoy going into a discussion and we kind of plan ahead what our discussions are going to be and guessing what Jess is going to argue. Because I can usually guess what her argument is going to be. And so I enjoy that, trying to anticipate what it’s going to be and see if I’m right or not.
JESSICA: It will always be Kennedy Baker. Kennedy Baker and her beam dismount forever! Blythe, what about for you?
BLYTHE: Tim Daggett! You know, you turn on NBC in America, and you look at gymnastics and it’s Tim Daggett. And he was such a known quantity, both as a gymnast and as a commentator and as an analyst. And for him to be able to do that for us, you know, brand new show and he was so open and so generous with his time and had such terrific insight on both his own career and everything that has happened in gymnastics. That was a huge highlight. And, I don’t know how much the gymternet knows this, if you appreciate Gymcastic of course there’s four of us on the show regularly but the impetus of this show, in the beginning and now comes from Jessica O’Beirne. It was her idea. She got us all together. She does all of the scheduling. She generates the ideas. She generates the organization. So if you appreciate Gymcastic, drop Jess a line and say thank you. It’s so much of her that she’s put into this. So we just wanted to say thank you to Jessica because well, you’ve done so much.
JESSICA: Aww thanks! That makes me happy. I want to acknowledge all the people we’ve had contribute to the show and come on to the show as guest hosts. So we’ve had Dvora Meyers for many episodes, Jenni Pinches came on the show twice. We had Sam Peszek, we’ve had Kyle Shewfelt. We’ve had Evan Heiter and of course Scott Bregman and Lauren Hopkins has done an amazing job coming on the show and Elizabeth Booth just recently. I think it’s just been great to highlight some of the fantastic bloggers and writers and people who are really shining a light on areas of the gymternet that people have always wanted to know more about and they’re really doing it. And it’s just been great to kind of be able to promote them and have them be able to talk about what they do on the show. And I think the other part of the show that has been really awesome for me is being able to ask the questions of coaches and gymnasts that I always wished I could’ve asked when I was doing gymnastics or when I was a coach and just give a platform for those things to be said, whether they’re positive or negative, someone to talk about their experience so if someone else is having that experience, they just know that they’re not alone in it. I also want to let you guys know that the gymternet should give Uncle Tim one giant gold star because he is in charge of pretty much all of our social media and works tirelessly around the clock to bring you all the content that you see all over the place. So thank you Uncle Tim! And I totally want to thank our sponsors. Because of them, we’ve been able to get better equipment and if you listen in the very beginning, you know how much better our sound is now. It made a huge difference that they took a chance on us and sponsored us from the very beginning. So yeah, they’re kind of awesome. Spanny, how about for you?
SPANNY: Oh for me, I just think the opportunity to chat with three of my favorite gym nerds on a regular basis has probably been my highlight. The interviews are super fun and I feel very privileged to have gotten to speak or even like eavesdrop on some of my favorite people. Just chatting with you guys and I can say these really dumb things about gymnastics that anyone in my real life would have no idea what I’m talking about but you guys are like yeah! You totally get it. It’s like a meeting of the minds. I feel like some of our most entertaining moments have been when we’re not recording or when we just would ramble on for twenty minutes and laugh at each other on the video during the video chat.Yeah, I think those have been some of my favorite moments, just chatting with other gym nerds.
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.
Next week, remember to check back often to hear our special mini episodes directly from Blythe in Belgium. So look out for those. Until next week, when we’ll be talking all about Worlds! We’ll see you then! Until then, I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics.com
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from The Gymnastics Examiner
SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile
UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: See you next week!