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: Todays the first of our mini episodes directly from Antwerp, Belgium. Blythe has been watching everyone in training and will tell us whats happening with US team, whos doing all around, whos going to be an alternate, whats happening with the Russians, the Canadians, the Romanians, and of course whats happening on the mens 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. Im Allison Taylor on behalf of Elite Sportz Band. Visit elitesportzband.com. Weve got your back.
JESSICA: This is episode 51 for September 29, 2013. Im Jessica from masters-gymnastics
BLYTHE: Im 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 were 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 Mens Gyms blog and check out his current and updated world rankings. Its going to be fascinating to see what happens if these rankings hold up, if theres something totally new. I cant 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 whats happening with mens 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. Its the greatest news ever. They also had podium training steaming live which was so freaking exciting. Of course theyre 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 theyll have streaming coverage live on that site. So thank you USA Gymnastics and Universal Sports for bringing us that, I cannot wait. Even though Im going to have to get up early, like 5am. But its totally worth it Im so excited to watch live. Ok lets talk to Blythe.
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JESSICA: How was the- youve been watching the training hall training and podium training. And of course the biggest news thats 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. Shed been looking very strong on bars in the training hall. Shed been looking and sticking her beam routines. And Martha just kind of said well were going to take the strongest gymnasts and thats the name of the game. And so it will be interesting this kind of side plot to the womens 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 itll 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 wont 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. Hows 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 Tims ranking that shes the top ranked gymnast in the world but no ones 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 shes definitely creating some notice. People were sort of watching her out of the corner of their eye, just because shes so athletically capable. But also there is the fact that shes 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 its not all about difficulty. So well see.
JESSICA: Yes. Ok so, the other news has been of course all about Mustafina because shes her bars are sound like looking amazing but she looks really tired on floor. And shes also debuted a newish skill. Shes doing a Seitz catching it in mixed grip. So how did she look overall? Compared to bars and floor whats it look like to you?
BLYTHE: You know Ive 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 youd kind of huff and puff and its 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 theyre doing. And theres 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 weve talked about a little on the podcast before, the Russians arent 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 thats going on in the gym. And it was said that she fell on a tumbling pass. I dont know if anybody saw it. Someone saw the bruise on her head and said youve got a bruise on your head whats the deal. And she apparently let it be known that shed 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 were reading via Google translate of course that says yes, I will go out there and do my routines. So well see. But I think until the competition actually begins, we may not know.
JESSICA: Oy. Theres never a dull moment with all the womens competition.
BLYTHE: Never a dull moment. Not at all.
JESSICA: So Moors has submitted her Moors, the double layout full out and its getting an I rating which is just freaking amazing. And you were saying in your quick hits which, if you guys arent following Blythes quick hits, first of all everyone knows theyre the best quick hits in the business. Theyre funny and entertaining, and you get all these tidbits. I love Blythes quick hits. So shes getting an extra minute and a half to warm it up because its 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 theres Z size bras. I didnt even know you could have [LAUGHS] that went as high as an I skill. Its 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 theres video of that going around. And its good. Do I feel that she pikes it down just a little bit? Its 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 doesnt matter. Its an amazing skill and shes got a good position. Im 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 shes there with this I skill which is worth .9 I believe. Izbasas 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 dont know, well see. Its going to be hard to beat the Romanians. Its going to be hard to beat Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney. Its 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 dont know if I see her as World Champion but Im not even sure that thats 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, theyve gone back to her old routine so she can do four tumbling passes and thats the reason they went back to that. That would be sufficient.
JESSICA: Now Iordaches 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. Its 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 thats the easier skill. And when she adds the full twist, everything gets better. The form gets better. Theres no bouncing or wobbling out of it. And so its 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 shes feeling especially daring. Because thats whats going to pay off for her. To no sense I think in doing it in qualifications and risking a fall. But well see how they want to play it.
JESSICA: So on the mens side, were 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 howd they look to you?
BLYTHE: I did not see Kim Hee Hoon. I did see Shirai. Shirai looks great. He looks young. You know? Hes 17. Hes in high school. Hes just kind of like here and hes like ok. Hes 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. Hes not the first person to perform it in competition, but he would be the first person to perform it in a World competition. And thats 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 weve seen from the women, there were a lot of people who stopped what they were doing to watch him train because hes 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, hes a phenomenal phenomenal floor worker.
JESSICA: Im so excited for him. So other news of the mens side theres Kukensov is off because hes not competing all around because he dislocated his finger which of course, pfft what a giant wimp. Thats all I have to say. Come on. Dislocated finger? Thats 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 mens team. Love that! I think thats the coolest thing ever. of course the stupid NCAA rules prevents this at certain times of the year, but Im sure they can find a way for this to work. Anything else thats been really exciting about the men there? Sam looks like hes been on fire.
BLYTHE: Yeah Sam looks very good. And hes very chill. Hes been dancing around on the podium to the transition music and to the music theyve got playing during training. And he says hey this is what works for me, Im just going to have as much fun as I possibly can, and thats how I am successful. And thats really what he said. And hes so so chill and so relaxed and very unflappable.
JESSICA: Beautiful. I love that the mens 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 Sams making friends. He says that the other gymnasts are looking at him doing his dancing and smiling and theyre 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 were 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. Weve got your back.
JESSICA: Visit elitesportzband.com, thats sportz with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.
JESSICA: If youre 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 weeks 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 youre 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. Theres a link on our site. Until after prelims, Im Jessica from masters-gymnastics
BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner
JESSICA: See you right back here after prelims! Have fun watching Worlds!