BLYTHE: Well I talked to Martha Karolyi about it just briefly about it today, and Martha basically said in a nutshell, Maroney earned the right to do it.
[EXPRESS YOURSELF INTRO MUSIC]
JESSICA: Today’s the first of our mini episodes directly from Antwerp, Belgium. Blythe has been watching everyone in training and will tell us what’s happening with US team, who’s doing all around, who’s going to be an alternate, what’s happening with the Russians, the Canadians, the Romanians, and of course what’s happening on the men’s side with those 7.4 floor routines and the triple twisting yurchenkos.
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 51 for September 29, 2013. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner
JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. Today we’re going to talk to Blythe who is in Antwerp, Belgium, the site of the 44th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. They go from Monday September 30-October 6. To prepare you for this World Championships, go to Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym’s blog and check out his current and updated world rankings. It’s going to be fascinating to see what happens if these rankings hold up, if there’s something totally new. I can’t wait to see what happens with the rankings. Be sure to follow Blythe Lawrence for her fantastic quick hits, her interviews, her full coverage of Worlds. She always does an amazing job and she always gives those behind the scenes details that the true hardcore gym nerds want to know all about. So follow Blythe on Twitter, Facebook, or her site at the Gymnastics Examiner. And also of course follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ or Facebook for all the most important hardcore news like what kind of crazy hairdos are happening. Or of course what’s happening with men’s facial hair and will Kosmidis rock a beard at these Worlds. To watch the competition, the most important thing, USA Gymnastics and Universal Sports are bringing us the competition live in the US. Yes. It’s the greatest news ever. They also had podium training steaming live which was so freaking exciting. Of course they’re going to be following the US gymnasts and whoever rotates with them. So you can go to usagymworlds.com. Or you can go to Universal Sports. Check your local listings. Or of course right to usagymworlds.com and watch directly from there. So they’ll have streaming coverage live on that site. So thank you USA Gymnastics and Universal Sports for bringing us that, I cannot wait. Even though I’m going to have to get up early, like 5am. But it’s totally worth it I’m so excited to watch live. Ok let’s talk to Blythe.
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JESSICA: How was the- you’ve been watching the training hall training and podium training. And of course the biggest news that’s come out is Maroney, as you hypothesized, doing all around, which means that Dowell is out. And apparently Maroney found this out on Twitter. What are people saying there about this news that Dowell is out and that Maroney is now doing all around?
BLYTHE: Well I talked to Martha Karolyi about it just briefly today, and Martha basically said in a nutshell Maroney earned the right to do it. She’d been looking very strong on bars in the training hall. She’d been looking and sticking her beam routines. And Martha just kind of said well we’re going to take the strongest gymnasts and that’s the name of the game. And so it will be interesting this kind of side plot to the women’s all around competition in that you will have Maroney, Biles, and Kyla Ross gunning for two spots in the all around competition the same way you had Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, and Aly Raisman doing that at the Olympic Games. And at the Olympics it was quite a surprise. Who knows if it’ll be a surprise here in Antwerp.
JESSICA: And so this means that Dowell is not going to have- she submitted two skills and this means that she won’t have a chance to have those named after her. But on the other hand, Simone has been submitted her double layout half out which was given a G rating. And she will be able to have that named after her if she successfully competes it at the competition. How’s that looked and how has she looked in general?
BLYTHE: She has looked fabulous. So prepared and completely unruffled by being up there on a Worlds podium. She was incredibly clean throughout the podium training. She did wonderful vaults. She looked steady on beam. She was fantastic on floor. People stopped what they were doing and watched her do her floor routine because her tumbling is just so magnificent. And yeah just very very calm. Sometimes I think gymnasts think if they have a bad podium training, they have a good competition. If they have a good podium training they get a little bit more nervous for the competition. But she seems very steady and very focused.
JESSICA: Excellent. And are people- is there kind of a buzz about her at all? I mean you know we know from Uncle Tim’s ranking that she’s the top ranked gymnast in the world but no one’s ever seen her at a World Championship before. So is it still about the gymnasts who everyone knows? Or is she sort of creating some notice?
BLYTHE: I think she’s definitely creating some notice. People were sort of watching her out of the corner of their eye, just because she’s so athletically capable. But also there is the fact that she’s been scoring in the range of 60 in the all around and not many people are doing that in the world. Martha Karolyi herself said kind of well if it all comes down to difficulty, then Simone has the highest difficulty. But it’s not all about difficulty. So we’ll see.
JESSICA: Yes. Ok so, the other news has been of course all about Mustafina because she’s her bars are sound like looking amazing but she looks really tired on floor. And she’s also debuted a newish skill. She’s doing a Seitz catching it in mixed grip. So how did she look overall? Compared to bars and floor what’s it look like to you?
BLYTHE: You know I’ve been very impressed. She looks focused, mature. More so than she did in 2010 or 2011 where just kind of everything was a distraction and everything was going wrong and you would jump up and do one thing and fall off then you’d kind of huff and puff and it’s very hard. The process looks very hard. The Americans, they do routine after routine after routine and the process looks the same. The Russians, they really get more of a feel for the equipment and what they’re doing. And there’s a lot of falling involved. But usually during the competition they manage to pull out something workable or even something incredibly beautiful. This time however Mustafina looks more focused. Yeah she looks a little tired after floor but the routines are hard and the days are long and things like that. And maybe as we’ve talked about a little on the podcast before, the Russians aren’t conditioning quite like some of the other countries. Maybe. But they also have a whole lot of elegance. So that works in their favor. Yeah. But no I thought Mustafina looked very focused. She did a lot of her skills and she did a lot of them really well. There was less interruptions than there have been in the past.
JESSICA: And Nabieva is, well the reports early that she was out because of a concussion and now it seems that she may still compete despite the concussion and the bruising on her head. Do you know what happened, how she fell?
BLYTHE: No. I heard that it was a tumbling pass. But this is all just hearsay that’s going on in the gym. And it was said that she fell on a tumbling pass. I don’t know if anybody saw it. Someone saw the bruise on her head and said you’ve got a bruise on your head what’s the deal. And she apparently let it be known that she’d done something on a tumbling pass. And she did not perform in podium training. But she also gave an interview to the Russian press that we’re reading via Google translate of course that says yes, I will go out there and do my routines. So we’ll see. But I think until the competition actually begins, we may not know.
JESSICA: Oy. There’s never a dull moment with all the women’s competition.
BLYTHE: Never a dull moment. Not at all.
JESSICA: So Moors has submitted her Moors, the double layout full out and it’s getting an I rating which is just freaking amazing. And you were saying in your quick hits which, if you guys aren’t following Blythe’s quick hits, first of all everyone knows they’re the best quick hits in the business. They’re funny and entertaining, and you get all these tidbits. I love Blythe’s quick hits. So she’s getting an extra minute and a half to warm it up because it’s a freaking I. I mean this is like hearing that when Oprah would have those special shows and people get their bras fitted and you thought they only went to a D and now there’s Z size bras. I didn’t even know you could have [LAUGHS] that went as high as an I skill. It’s just freaking awesome. Anyway, what does it look like in person, and how is she been hitting it?
BLYTHE: The landing of it is very very good. Both in the training and in the full routine that she did today. When she did the warm up her special warm up, she did with a small step back and she nearly stuck it in the full routine. And there’s video of that going around. And it’s good. Do I feel that she pikes it down just a little bit? It’s a little bit piked in the air. The body and the shape in more of a banana than completely laid out. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. It’s an amazing skill and she’s got a good position. I’m not going to say a great position. But a good position on it. And it absolutely merits to be named after her.
JESSICA: Beautiful. And now she’s there with this I skill which is worth .9 I believe. Izbasa’s there only doing floor. And she of course is the 2008 Olympic champion. We have the Americans doing floor and Iordache is there as well. Do you think there could be a Canadian upset in the floor championship?
BLYTHE: I don’t know, we’ll see. It’s going to be hard to beat the Romanians. It’s going to be hard to beat Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney. It’s going to be hard to- you might have one of the Chinese gymnasts in there as well. And certainly the floor specialists with very very good tumbling like Giulia Steingruber for example. I don’t know if I see her as World Champion but I’m not even sure that that’s the goal. I think the goal is to get her name in the history books as being the first person to do this at Worlds and to get the skill named after her. And that would be satisfying. Of course you always gun for a medal and that would be great, but for this year, they’ve gone back to her old routine so she can do four tumbling passes and that’s the reason they went back to that. That would be sufficient.
JESSICA: Now Iordache’s there as well and apparently is looking really fantastic and has been doing her routine with the two fulls. I think with both fulls in the routine. Have you watched her and how does she look to you?
BLYTHE: Yeah. She looks good. It’s funny to watch her do it on beam because she does, she warms up a round off layout. And I kind of think that her round off layout has a bit of flexed feet and messy legs. And usually she actually kind of takes a bit of a bounce back and no wobble. But that’s the easier skill. And when she adds the full twist, everything gets better. The form gets better. There’s no bouncing or wobbling out of it. And so it’s quite funny to watch. I think that she might stick to the easier routine in the qualifications. And save the full for the finals or maybe even all around finals if she’s feeling especially daring. Because that’s what’s going to pay off for her. To no sense I think in doing it in qualifications and risking a fall. But we’ll see how they want to play it.
JESSICA: So on the men’s side, we’re speaking of people getting skills named after them, we have two guys who are going for the the triple twisting yurchenko. Of course this has been done before. Sasha Artemev from the US did it and Uchimura has done it. Both did it in national competitions. But in this meet, Shirai Kenzo of Japan, mister floor routine worth a 7.4, is doing it. He also did a quad I guess in training. He sort of fell out of it but oh my god I love that skill. And then Kim Hee Hoon, have you seen him training these and how’d they look to you?
BLYTHE: I did not see Kim Hee Hoon. I did see Shirai. Shirai looks great. He looks young. You know? He’s 17. He’s in high school. He’s just kind of like here and he’s like ok. He’s a phenomenal twister but he looks very comfortable. Looks very good out there when you see him on the floor. And he submitted the quad twist to be named after him. And hey you know rightfully so. He’s not the first person to perform it in competition, but he would be the first person to perform it in a World competition. And that’s how you get the thing named after you. The yurchenko triple also looked really good. He did one and it got a fair bit of applause. And like with some of the floor things that we’ve seen from the women, there were a lot of people who stopped what they were doing to watch him train because he’s really gotten a reputation even as young as he is. The Japanese came out and said in an interview I think last year we think this kid could be the 2016 Olympic floor champion. And so far, he’s a phenomenal phenomenal floor worker.
JESSICA: I’m so excited for him. So other news of the men’s side there’s Kukensov is off because he’s not competing all around because he dislocated his finger which of course, pfft what a giant wimp. That’s all I have to say. Come on. Dislocated finger? That’s like nothing. Maroney competed with a broken toe and did the best vault ever in history. But whatever. And then Fabian Hambuchen says that he wants to go to Michigan and train with Mikulak and the men’s team. Love that! I think that’s the coolest thing ever. of course the stupid NCAA rules prevents this at certain times of the year, but I’m sure they can find a way for this to work. Anything else that’s been really exciting about the men there? Sam looks like he’s been on fire.
BLYTHE: Yeah Sam looks very good. And he’s very chill. He’s been dancing around on the podium to the transition music and to the music they’ve got playing during training. And he says hey this is what works for me, I’m just going to have as much fun as I possibly can, and that’s how I am successful. And that’s really what he said. And he’s so so chill and so relaxed and very unflappable.
JESSICA: Beautiful. I love that the men’s program kind of allows the guys to be who they need to be in the moment on the team. You can see some of them, you have of course the infamous Danell Leyva towell where he gets super serious and has a towel over his head the whole time. Then you also have Sam dancing around the entire competition. And I like that they are able to use whatever works for them works. If they need to be a goofball the whole time they can totally do it.
BLYTHE: And Sam’s making friends. He says that the other gymnasts are looking at him doing his dancing and smiling and they’re just a really happy happy bunch. I love that. That seems like that bodes well for him.
JESSICA: Love it. So we have tomorrow we have prelims for men starting, then we have prelims for the women and we’re going to talk to you again after both prelim sessions are up. So remember to check back after prelims for another special episode with Blythe. And hopefully some special guests.
ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. Elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: Visit elitesportzband.com, that’s sportz with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.
JESSICA: If you’re a first time listener be sure to listen to our interviews with Simone Biles, Kyla Ross, Sam Mikulak, Jake Dalton, and Victoria Moors for the full background on this week’s World Championships. Also follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Facebook where you get all the most important news and routines. You can support the show by shopping in our Amazon store. Just go to the Amazon store through our site and then shop as you normally would. Of course you can donate. You can also subscribe and follow us on iTunes or write a review of the show. We love reviews on iTunes. And if you’re an android user you can of course listen to us on Stitcher. If you love all the hard work that Blythe does to bring you this amazing coverage, give her a shoutout on her Facebook or Twitter. Gymnastics Examiner or GymExaminer on Twitter and of course follow her at Gymnastics Examiner. There’s a link on our site. Until after prelims, I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics
BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner
JESSICA: See you right back here after prelims! Have fun watching Worlds!