JESSICA: I know theres a little tiny bit of background noise in this episode, but just bear with it. Its just part of dorm life. Im blaming Jennis roommate, sorry. Im just going to because I dont know where it came from. So anyway, bear with it. Its a great episode and I hope you guys like it.
JENNI: Like negatively interpreting things out of context, like we were observing after the competition, blah blah blah. And I sent this email. And since then, hes been good so I sorted him out.
[EXPRESS YOURSELF INTRO MUSIC]
JESSICA: This week, the state of gymnastics after the 2013 World Championships, Halloween costume contest, Dvora on Ferlito-gate and our favorite Brit is back!
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 55 for October 16, 2013. Im Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics
UNCLE TIM: Im Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Mens Gym
JENNI: And Im Jennifer Pinches from the newly updated jenniferpinches.com.
JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. So Jenni, last time we talked to you, you were retired and doing stuff on BBC broadcasts and now all of a sudden, youre in the NCAA and unretired. How did this happen?
JENNI: Yeah! Okay, I finished my school exams which went quite well. I got two As in my A levels. And then I got an email from Ms. Val at UCLA and she said how would you feel about you know, going to UCLA to do college gymnastics. So obviously, that was a big deal. I didnt even consider doing college gymnastics but Danusia Francis is obviously on the team, the Bruins team for UCLA as well and it sounded like fun so I thought about it. I researched a lot into it, thought can I come back to gymnastics and start training again and I went to visit and I couldnt say no. I couldnt say no to living in Los Angeles and taking on this new adventure. And yeah, so now Im doing college gymnastics and its a new chapter in my career and a new chapter in my life.
JESSICA: Exciting! So how do you like it so far?
JENNI: Oh I really like it! I love it. Well, especially the weather, obviously. Its freezing in the UK right now and its beautiful here. And getting back into gymnastics, I forgot how much of a ninja I feel like in the gym. Seriously, Im relearning all my skills mostly and its so cool. I feel like Im becoming a superhero again compared to the last year where I just havent done anything. So thats really fun actually in the gym and obviously Im doing university, college as you call it in America classes and studies. Yeah, its exciting!
JESSICA: Awesome! Well, were so happy that youre here and doing that
JENNI: Yeah thank you yeah. And thanks for having me back on the podcast!
JESSICA: Oh youre very welcome! The UK is the home of all great reality shows before they come to the US and apparently the UK is working on something very exciting having to do with gymnastics. Can you tell us about this?
JENNI: Yes! There might be a reality show just like Dancing with the Stars or Strictly Come Dancing as we have in the UK originally but for gymnastics. Theres talk of it being called Strictly Come Gymnastics. How cool would it be if there was a reality show to raise the profile of gymnastics in the UK and worldwide? People being interested in gymnastics and thats definitely risen since the Olympics and people watching it on TV and enjoying it and having more role models like Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle to look up, rather than what we usually have, just singers and like models maybe. So yeah theres going to be a Strictly Come Gymnastics show hopefully. And isnt there going to be maybe one in the US as well?
JESSICA: Yeah the word is that John MacReady has pitched this show Celebrity Champions and its going to have Mary Lou Retton, Paul Hamm, and Shannon Miller who will like coach people doing gymnastics. It sounds like its going to be exactly the same because we copy everything the UK does when it comes to reality shows. But theyre developing it right now so well see if it actually happens. But it would be so fabulous. I would love it. It would be the greatest. Yeah it would be really cool. They have to call it something other than Celebrity Champions. It needs to have gymnastics.
JENNI: Maybe theyll change the name. Because otherwise its going to be exactly compared with Strictly Come Dancing which is our UK version of Dancing with the Stars. Yeah how are you going to get celebrities to actually do it because in the Strictly Come Dancing show they become quite good dancers. And if you saw Louis Smith on that show, he was great. I mean he won it. But he really learned to dance by doing it. I dont know how much celebrities will be able to learn technical gymnastics skills.
JESSICA: Yeah thats the thing, or get them into leotards either. This is the thing. I think theyre going to have costumes which Im all for.
JENNI: Like ice skating costumes? Yeah maybe. That would be fun.
JESSICA: Okay, Uncle Tim. Tell us whats happening with Komova for the Komova-philes out there.
UNCLE TIM: Well there are quite a few on Tumblr. Well get to that in a second. But Komova is reportedly still not training after what her father calls a serious case of meningitis and thats coming from International Gymnast. They did a little article on her. However, Tumblr is blowing up right now because there are pictures of Komova sitting on an exercise bike, not peddling or anything, just sitting on one. So everyones saying shes back. And then theres also a video of Komova playing on some playground equipment, like this is a legitimate NBC fluff piece happening right before your eyes on Tumblr and so people are getting really excited about that. But still, I havent seen her go upside down or anything. But well see. Hopefully she will be able to make a comeback from her illness and actually compete in 2014.
JESSICA: Its going to be very exciting.
JENNI: Well from the pictures, it looks like have you seen those playgrounds that look like playgrounds but theyre not actually playgrounds? Theyre like outdoor exercise gyms?
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Yeah
JENNI: Yeah it looks like shes kind of messing around or stretching or something on one of those.
JESSICA: Uchimura did a rare, rare, rare English language interview with a guy that you know, Ollie at the BBC. Can you tell us about that interview?
JENNI: Yeah, Uchimura, the absolute legend, dominating mens gymnastics over the past few years I think its fair to say. And then some interesting questions that he was asked by Ollie were does he think hes going to be able to carry on in the future the way hes been dominating the sport at the moment. I think it was Louis Smith who commented on this, saying that the Japanese team is so strong at the moment, that Uchimuras spot is still not guaranteed even though hes four-time world champion and Olympic champion. The Japanese team is so strong. Were you impressed by the other Japanese gymnasts as well? It wasnt just Uchimura that won medals at the world championships.
JESSICA: Yeah when he said in his interview that he really wants to win gold to make up for his pommel horse handstand flub in London, I was like they could totally win. They could for sure win right now, the way the Japanese team look. They look incredible.
JENNI: It sounds like hes more thinking about the whole team now as well. Because like he said, he was embarrassed in London because when there was that whole deal with them appealing and moving up to second place in the team after the pommel horse dismount mess up that happened, he said he was kind of not bothered about moving up to second from fourth position because for him that was still, they hadnt achieved gold and thats what he wanted. But he was embarrassed by the fact that he thought that in London because he wasnt thinking about the whole team. Hes had many gold medals himself, but he said obviously the rest of his team wanted to win medals too and now he wants to think about the whole team together and think about the whole team winning medals for Rio rather than just himself, which I think is a really nice change of perspective for him.
JESSICA: I totally wondered during this interview if hes a paid spokesperson from Longines because he talked about how hes obsessed with watches and now that he has a baby and a wife, he cant be buying watches, spending all his money on watches. But then he talked about how he loves, its more important for him to be recognized for elegance and winning the Longines prize than a gold medal. I was like dude. They could make a poster out of that and sell it. Its like the most perfect advertisement ever. I was like that is why hes so great. That right there. That is what you want people, I feel like I have perfect elegant form, execution to the inth degree. I just love that he said that.
JENNI: Yeah Im glad that he won the Longines award as well because he needs to be recognized I think, his beautiful gymnastics.
JESSICA: Yeah I think a lot of the time, the Longines prize, youre kind of like hmm really? But this, I think they got it right.
JENNI: Yeah sometimes, Im like oh. Like why did they give, who chooses that prize? But this world championships, I was satisfied with who they gave the prizes to. It was Kyla Ross for the women and Uchimura for the men.
JESSICA: Yes and Kyla Ross, who got a smooch by Philipp Boy which of course is the best thing ever.
JENNI: (gasps) I didnt see that!
JESSICA: Oh yes a congratulatory smooch on the cheek like you do in Europe, where youre from.
JENNI: Well yeah [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: It was one of those. It wasnt anything like, she shouldve grabbed him and like bent him over and whatever. What do you call that, she should have dipped him and planted one on him. I mean thats what I would have done.
JENNI: Hey wait, hasnt Philipp Boy just had a son?
UNCLE TIM: In July he had a baby girl
JENNI: Baby girl
UNCLE TIM: And nobody knew about it until now.
JENNI: Oh okay. Well maybe he wanted to not disappoint his many admirers
JESSICA: I think so. I think he kept it hush hush on purpose. But yeah he looks pretty adorable. He looks like radiating with happiness with the baby in his arms. Its so cute.
JENNI: I know, its so so cute.
JESSICA: So lets talk about the Aimee Boorman interview. She gave an interview with
UNCLE TIM: Triple Twist
JESSICA: Triple Twist, thank you, right after she got back. And she is of course Simone Biless coach. And we were thinking about this and were pretty sure that Aimee is the first female head coach ever to coach a world all-around champion.
UNCLE TIM: From the US
JESSICA: From the US of course. I think the Soviet Union did this. But yeah, thats a pretty big deal in this day and age I think. Because all of the other head coaches have been men. Chow, Nunno, Bela, Geddert, so its a pretty big deal. So she said some interesting things in this interview. One of them, she said that the team, the girls train for 22 days without a full day off and without complaint, which is always shocking to me that anyone can just change their workout schedule and train for that many days in a row.
JENNI: Thats got to be tough.
JESSICA: I dont understand that strategy though. I mean I guess it works if you dont break.
JENNI: Yeah you have to be young to do that.
JESSICA: Yeah thats the thing right? I guess its the kind of thing you can do when you have an army of gymnasts who can fill anyones spot at any time. But if you had to really keep your gymnasts healthy, I dont think
JENNI: No, that doesnt seem very wise. I mean you need rest. You need days for your muscles to recover, if not your mind as well.
JESSICA: Right? Yeah thats the other thing. Youre sequestered basically the whole time. Thats the way the US system works. Theyre not allowed to talk to friends or family. Youre not allowed to see them. You can talk to them on the phone, IM or whatever. Youre not allowed to see them. I would lose my mind. I would need a brain break from gymnastics, mental rest.
JENNI: Maybe theyre doing mental strength as well.
JESSICA: That might be it, that youre so used to it that its like
JENNI: Yeah, you do it every day, repetitively, then I guess when it comes to competition, its just another day. Youve done it that many times, its like ingrained within you.
JESSICA: Thats totally true. I havent thought about it that way.
JENNI: I think Martha said after the world championships that she was pleased with their consistency. Maybe thats what she was hoping would happen and pulled off.
JESSICA: Yep and it definitely works. So I wanted to ask you guys about this and Jenni if youve ever seen this before. I heard that the guys use honey on p-bars. But Ive never heard of it used on any female, womens apparatus. But Aimee talks about how one of the funny things that happened was that she thought there was like a wet spot on the mat that Simone was going to land on on bars. And then when she went to wipe it off, she realized it was honey. So then she went to turn the mat over. Honey on the bars mat? Thats crazy. Did someone put it there so like Ive been recommending to the men so their feet wont slip? Have you ever encountered that? Ever?
JENNI: I thought you were going to say someone had put it there as like a practical joke like to make someone you know .
JENNI: No actually Ive heard of it. When I went to Romania when I was like what 10 years old, maybe, obviously we just used chalk on water in the UK. But then when we went to Romania, they all had honey on the bars. They used no hand guards and they just used honey with their hands. I think maybe honey and a mix of water. But definitely womens gymnasts do it as well but particularly the ones that dont use grips.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah I was going to say, she was in a rotation with Yao Jinnan and Larisa Iordache and Shang Chungsong. So one of them was probably using honey I guess.
JENNI: Yeah definitely. The ones that dont have the full grips, the full protection for their hands, I think it just makes them stick better because they dont have the leather. So like China, Romania basically.
JESSICA: This is fascinating. I never knew that any women ever used honey on bars. My whole world has changed.
JENNI: I just remembered as well. You know Imogen Cairns from the UK?
JENNI: Of course you do.
JESSICA: Of course!
JENNI: She uses honey for bars.
JESSICA: She used grips though right?
JENNI: She doesnt use only honey. She uses chalk more. Im sure Ive seen her carrying around a bottle of honey. So theres got to be something said for its stickiness.
JESSICA: Very interesting. Im going to have to get to the bottom of this.
JENNI: I wonder if different types of bees do better type of honey for bars.
JESSICA: Yes! Its gotta be. Whos the best on p bars? And its gotta be the Chinese. The Chinese honeybees are the best.
JENNI: This is why the bees are doing out, because everyone in China, theyre not actually dying. Theyre keeping them in a secret hideout to make special honey for gymnasts.
JESSICA: Weve gotten to the bottom of it. So the other interesting thing that Aimee said in this interview was that she had to skip the basics and make gymnastics really fun for Simone because she knew she would quit if it was not fun. And then when Simone was mature enough to understand that the rewards of hard work can be as fulfilling as doing things just for fun, then they can concentrate more on the basics like form and artistry and that kind of stuff. Some people have read this and just been like oh my God. Thats the worst kind of coaching. To me, I felt like this is how a great coach, why a great coach is a great coach because you understand the individual and you coach each individual differently. So like Simone would never have made it in the Soviet system where you dont do anything but conditioning for the first like two years of your life and then youre allowed to play. And then all of a sudden, its fun because you can do tricks. This is somebody who understood her athlete and motivated her with the things that she needed. What did you guys think of that?
JENNI: I thought that was fantastic. I think all coaches should use that kind of philosophy. Its obviously worked for Simone. She seems to love her gymnastics when shes out on the competition floor. Shes always smiling. Everyone loves her bubbly personality. Obviously, yeah its worked, the way that shes seen that Simone wants to have fun in her gymnastics and allowed her to do that until she realizes that hard work can bring even more fun as well. And looking at each athlete and each not even just gymnasts, I think all athletes should be treated and coached as individuals. And I think thats whats going to bring the most successful results. So maybe other coaches have something to learn from her. Like you said, she wouldnt have done so well maybe in a Soviet system kind of thing.
UNCLE TIM: For me, it was reminiscent of how a lot of guys are coached, at least in the United States where you learn the big tricks first and then you go back and kind of refine them. I think it can be a good technique. I dont know if its always the right technique. Because some people will end up learning skills the wrong way and bad habits are hard to break as we have seen from a certain person in the United States Cheng which is very wrong and takes off of one arm. So I dont know. I feel like its .I dont know. It has to be done right for it to work.
JENNI: I think you can still probably do it right though. I mean you can still do things and chuck skills and have fun without learning bad techniques as well.
JESSICA: This is why I feel like coaching boys gymnastics is always, as you know, I feel like its hurting cats but also really fun because you can just like throw them around and it doesnt really matter, I feel like until theyre way older that they have to point their toes or anything. You see how their warm ups are.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Yeah
JESSICA: I just feel like its a lot more fun than having to be perfect from the time you put yourself in a leotard.
UNCLE TIM: While were on the topic of warm ups, Jenni can you walk us through how podium training goes down at the Olympics for instance. What are the judges doing while youre doing podium training?
JENNI: I dont think its any different at the Olympics than it is at World Championships or even a European Championships. Basically, so its like a mini competition without the audience. You go up. You start on the rotation and you warm up except you decide how long you warm up for obviously within an allotted time. But you decide how long you need to warm up, when youre going to go, and then each person salutes to the judge, shows their routine, so the judges can kind of get a sense of what each gymnast is going to do. They write some notes down I think, on your difficulty values and probably things they are going to look out for in execution. I havent talked that closely with the judges. But yeah, we always used to treat it as basically a pre-competition. And then afterwards, if you have time, you can repeat maybe skills that went wrong in your routines that you saluted to the judges. Maybe you know, if you failed to prove that you can do it and yeah you just go around all the rotations and just show what you can do and then march out again but without the audience and without the atmosphere etc.
UNCLE TIM: Im curious because theres also an interview with Rodionenko and he said in it that Aliya Mustafina was kind of surprised during podium training because she doesnt usually like to train her routines 100% during warm up but she had to do it and shes not used to that. She was called for equipment testing. Can you imagine, he asked. Shes not used to that. They gave her a score and later during the competition, the details of her routine were stored in the computer. Does that sound right?
JENNI: I dont know. Who asked her to do a full routine if she wouldnt have done it before? I mean, theres no one who says you have to do your full routine at podium training. I cant think, maybe just another coach or something. Unless they wanted, the judges specifically requested to see her shaposh full twist or something. So they wanted to see that element so they could then be prepared to judge it in competition. But yeah, I think its difficult to translate that from Russian.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah because I was thinking, if youre going to do a new skill, you have to actually perform it before the judges during podium training, correct? Do you know?
JENNI: Im not sure. I only know that you have to perform it in competition to get it named after you. Im not sure how the podium rule works.
UNCLE TIM: Okay, alright. And theres also an interesting thing in the article about the fact that gymnasts do not know what their skills are going to be valued when theyre working on an original skill. And Im guessing that he was talking about the toe-on full which she caught in mixed grip rather than catching it in regular grip like Elisabeth Seitz does from Germany. I think that must have been what he was alluding to in the interview. I guess that just seems kind of ignorant on his part. I feel like if youre going to do a new skill, you should talk to the Brevet judges in your country and see what they think that skill will be valued as. And if they dont know, you should compete the skill at like a minor competition or something to see what the judges give you because thats how Victoria Moors found out that the double double layout was going to be an I because she competed it at the Pan Ams and they gave her a provisional I at that meet. And so I dont know. I found that part kind of ignorant. What did you think Jess?
JESSICA: I mean, the thing about this is I agree with his point actually. He said in here that he thinks that gymnastics should have a table of elements the way that diving is, which is basically like if you have this many flips and twists, then you know by way of progression what each thing is going to be worth. You could do that to a certain extent in gymnastics. In another way, you cant do that at all in gymnastics because there are skills that you couldnt possibly put together every combination and not everything is linear the way it is in diving. But I think that his point is well taken in that you should be able to know what a skill is going to be worth without performing it first. I dont understand why thats so hard to do. Why couldnt you just submit it on paper and say if this is ever done, this is what it will be worth. Why do you actually have to perform it? Now knowing what it will be worth ahead of time is not the same as if youll be credited with it which is exactly what I think happened to Mustafina because she was doing it like a three quarter catching in mix grip and then swinging out with a quarter turn. And thats why I think they didnt give her a higher rating or have it named after her. By the time she was in event finals, she did a full Seitz and caught it in mixed grip. But I kind of disagree. I think you should be able to know ahead of time what its going to be worth. I dont know see why you actually have to do it to know unless its something no one has ever seen before.
JENNI: Yeah I agree. That makes sense if you, like you know what theyre going to do if you can describe accurately, surely you should be able to work out what it potentially would be worth if you performed it correctly.
UNCLE TIM: Maybe thats a problem with the womens code because on the mens side, its pretty straightforward. You know, every extra twist is just one letter up. On the womens side, its very, the letters jump a little bit more. Theres a little more space between letters.
JESSICA: I think the other thing that he said that was interesting was you know, he was also complaining about how many petitions there are. The thing he made a point of saying you know this is something that needs to be taken to the judges and fixed. He didnt call out other gymnasts and complain. He talked about how its a problem of the judges arent getting it right and there shouldnt be so many petitions. But I also think there should be way more transparency because we dont even know how many petitions were submitted and how many were actually, were the judges actually admitted yes our D score was wrong here. Were going to fix it. I mean, we only know about this in the big routines. This is another thing I feel like we need to, that should be something you can tell. There should be a list somewhere. You should be able to see it during the competition.
JENNI: Like when somebody makes a petition, you want there to be a signal or something?
JESSICA: Yeah I think you should know. Instead of just saying, oh the score was changed. I think we should have a statistic each day. You should know, okay there was like 70 petitions submitted and 69 of them were accepted. That means the judges are messing up a huge percentage of the time and we dont even know that. And maybe theyll do their post Worlds report, they do come out. They do give a lot of statistics but like thats way after the fact. You should be able to know that during the competition.
UNCLE TIM: Well so if you follow the live scoring and an asterisk appears by the gymnasts name when they file a petition, but you have to be following the live scoring to know that.
JENNI: On the live streams, it came up and told you some of them but not all of them.
JESSICA: Thats why we need iPads and receipts.
JESSICA: So lets talk about the interview that Nellie Kim gave. So whew people are not having it. I feel like Nellie Kim is kind of tired of being the butt of everyones anger and jokes about the code. She just laid it down. She basically said you know Im sick of Russia complaining about me and their top gymnasts slandering me. And she said that theres too much in-fighting in the Russian system. They dont have unity. They dont have a unified goal. Theyre not working together and thats what they need to focus on, not focusing on complaining about her and complaining about the code. One of the funniest things that she said, I dont know if its just the way it was translated or this is how Russians talk but she was just like, in talking about Russia and how they feel like theyre not being recognized for their artistry and innovation, she said instead of taking ownership of their failures. Oh wait, Im sorry. Im reading the wrong part. Okay. So she says, you know the artistry that the Soviets have created has been lost. And now the Canadians from Cirque du Soleil teach the whole world about artistry. I just thought that was hilarious. Shes just like ugh the Canadians have taken this over. Ugh Cirque du Soleil is in charge. Theyre not even gymnasts. Well where do you think all the Soviets went? All those great gymnasts and all those circus people, yeah, thats the pro league for gymnastics now. So she kind of seemed also upset that thats how its gone but also like its exactly how Jenni just said. Thats how the rules are and you have to play to the rules. The thing that I thought that was totally disturbing that she said, and Id like to know how you guys feel about this, is she said the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Belarusians lose to their rivals from other countries because they are weaker physically. Current gymnastics has become a very dynamic strength based sport. Frankly speaking, I feel uneasy when gymnasts with an athletic, not gymnastics body become world champions. She seems to contradict herself there. But I find it very disturbing that she says I dont like it when someone with an athletic, which would be stronger body, not a gymnastics body becomes a world champion. Uncle Tim, how do you read that?
UNCLE TIM: I mean I kind of find it funny since she was more of a power gymnast herself [LAUGHS] back in the day, but I guess that, I mean, I dont think that its entirely true just because you think of someone like Produnova who was probably one of the strongest people ever to compete, just because she actually put the handspring double front to her feet. But I think that generally speaking, there is an ounce of truth to it. This year, we watched the Russians struggle with conditioning on their floor routines. They were, for the most part, huffing and puffing during floor. So I think there could be some truth to that first part. As for the last part about body types, I dont know. I feel like its problematic that she, at least how its translated, its problematic because a gymnastics body can be many types of bodies. It doesnt have to be the, how do I want to put this, the balletic style, well just call prima ballerina style body. It doesnt have be that. Id be interested, I wish that I could ask her follow up questions. So like, what would you say about Kim Zmeskal in 1991? What would you say about and just go through the list, Shannon Miller in 1993 was she the gymnastics body or not? I dont know. What do you think Jenni?
JENNI: I dont think there should be, almost like discrimination against body type. If you can do gymnastics, then you should be rewarded for it whether you look muscular or not. If youre getting to the splits, if youre doing artistic dance, if youre performing difficult tumbles, it shouldnt matter what your body type is. I mean your body type is just going to make it easier or more difficult for you to do different aspects, like the artistry and leaps compared to the tumbling. I dont think she should be saying she doesnt like it when athletic gymnastics bodies become world champion because its not to do with their body type. They did the better gymnastics routines so its kind of irrelevant.
JESSICA: One other thing she said which I totally agreed with and I feel like I have said this a million times in not these exact words but with this intention, is she said that someone like Komova does beautiful movements on floor, looks elegant on the podium, but she performs apathetically. Stooped shoulders and dull eyes, she doesnt perform. She works. But judges dont give her high scores. I dont know what happened to that girl. Maybe she burnt out before the Olympics.
JENNI: What would she think about someone like Simone Biles then? Because you cant deny that she performs right? Shes not, she has alive eyes. And she dances to the crowd and to the judges. But she has an athletic body. So would she like her or not? She cant make up her mind about what shes looking for in a gymnast.
UNCLE TIM: I think the Komova part was referring to 2011 and the fact that Komova during the all around pouted while she was doing her floor routine. Theres no other way to put it. And so I think thats her way of responding to everyone claiming that Komova should have won. I think thats her way of responding to that in a very subtle way but also a very planned way I would say.
JESSICA: Oh that would make sense. I havent thought of it that way. Because thats also her way of explaining artistry versus performance. Yeah the Russians might think oh we have the perfect body type. Were so innovative and were keeping artistry alive. But if you cant sell it, if you cant perform, if it doesnt register anywhere on your being except in your limbs, thats not a performance. Thats not artistic gymnastics.
JESSICA: Dvora Meyers is back to talk about Ferlito-gate, the comments that Carlotta Ferlito of Italy made after all around finals and then again after event finals. Dvora has written two pieces on this subject. One can be found on her blog at Unorthodox Gymnastics. The other can be found on Deadspin. And her Deadspin piece was selected by The Atlantic as one of the pop culture pieces of writing of the week, a great honor for Dvora so were very proud of her for that. And that article is called Are Black Gymnasts the New Black Quarterbacks? Okay, so Dvora youve written two articles, a blog post and an article this week talking about Ferlito-gate as weve started to refer to it. Can you just give everybody kind of a breakdown to follow the whole thing, a timeline of exactly what happened?
DVORA: So Carlotta Ferlito is an Italian gymnast. After the all around finals, when speaking to the Italian media, she mentioned a conversation that she had had with Vanessa Ferrari. She said, Vanny if we also paint our faces black we could also win, referring to Simone Biles, who was the winner. And then I believe, its two days later because its the second day of event finals after beam finals. It was a little bit controversial what happened. The Americans put in two appeals and they both were accepted and Simone Biless score was increased by two tenths. Her start value was increased by two tenths and she went from fifth to third ahead of Vanessa Ferrari and Ferlito. Ferlito was pretty upset about this which is understandable. She was closer to the podium and now shes a little bit further and she complained that you know the Americans and again really focused her energies on Simone Biles saying that it just wasnt good. She didnt deserve to have her score raised. It was because of the Americans influence that this happened. So thats the timeline. I think whats confusing to a lot of gymnastics fans is that those comments, I think the beam final comments, they were immediately known. And the all around final comments were in Italian and it took a little while for us to know what she said. People at first thought that she was just upset about what happened to her in beam finals and misspoke, when really she had spoken about Simone Biles before there was any dispute over scoring. I think its a really important chronology to get straight before we start parsing about what she said about Simone.
JESSICA: Yeah I think the stuff she said after beam finals were in Italian but the people that said oh if you think this is bad, you should have heard what she said after all around finals and it was then that it became more widely translated and known what she said after all around finals. So alright, lets break this down. You did a great job of this in your articles, as you always do. Before we get into the big implications of how this affects gymnastics, can you talk about specifically what happened that made this so much worse after Ferlito made her comments, then what the Italian Gymnastics Federation said and what they really implied with their comments?
JESSICA: Chiarelli yeah
DVORA: Well basically what he talked about was not just what Ferlito said but tried to explain what she said in terms of gymnastics as a whole. First of all, any time someone tries to explain racist comments instead of apologizing for it, you know its about to get really really awful. You know you have nowhere to go but down. At least Ferlito apologized. So basically what he said was that she was talking about what she thinks is a current gymnastics trend that the Code of Points is creating chances for colored people as he put it and penalizing the European elegance, which when gymnastics was supposedly more artistic allowed Russia and Romania to dominate. And then he ends with a question because this was on their Facebook page, the Italian Gymnastics Federation Facebook page. It was meant to inspire discussion. And he said is gymnastics suiting colored features more and more to the point that athletes wish they were black? Hes saying, I mean theres so much implied here. There is a trend, opening up chances for colored people, meaning consciously or subconsciously the people who are writing the Code of Points are trying to be more inclusive supposedly of colored people and penalizing, so again its not just that we are trying to create opportunities for supposedly one type of gymnast. Others are getting punished. The classic sort of affirmative action way that people who are against affirmative action view it, that by creating opportunities, you punish another group of people who are deserving. And thats kind of implying that theres an affirmative action in gymnastics?! Its kind of a little bit crazy. And then he kind of tried to make it sound okay like no, no, no. Its really just a question. Is gymnastics just so much easier for women of color that a white gymnast would want to be black? I want to break this down a little bit more but every time I repeat it, I kind of repeated it to a friend what was said. You kind of have to take a breath because its kind of breathtaking what was just said in the year 2013 about a world champion and black athletes in general. I mean does this not drive you a little bit crazy?
JESSICA: Yeah I cant even believe this was said. I mean knowing about Italy and their history of their soccer games have been stopped because of fans doing disgusting racist things, black soccer players. There have been incidents where they had their first black minister in the government and shes just had to endure disgusting things. So knowing what goes on in the government and what goes on in Italy in general, its not totally surprising that this happened. But just to think that the people in the federation didnt know better and arent more educated, it just totally makes me sick. But lets go back to, what he implies too is that the Russians or Romanians were not acrobatic at all
JESSICA: and that they were just totally elegant and won just on split leaps.
DVORA: Yeah, because the sport of gymnastics is really just dance. And its always been dance. They dominated. Olga Korbut was known for her dance. Wasnt she? Nadia Comaneci
JESSICA: Yeah exactly. They didnt know flips.
DVORA: Yeah so what hes doing there is hes basically saying, hes equating Eastern European, meaning white with elegance and artistry. And hes equating powerful and athletic and all of those other terms that kind of are synonymous with that with black people and hes pitting them against each other. Hes setting them up as mutually exclusive categories. We know that you can both be artistic and powerful at the same time. But hes saying you cant. Thats also tapping into I think the gymnastics, fan, judges, coaches, athletes anxiety about the direction of the sport. Hes basically saying listen. Artistry is white people and power is black people. This is what hes kind of setting up. And were all concerned that the sport is going in an acrobatic direction. So do we want the sport going in that direction where only black gymnasts can succeed, meaning that white gymnasts will no longer be able to succeed?
JESSICA: So I think that elite gymnastics specifically, I mean in the US club gymnastics is not like this and NCAA is certainly not like this at all. I mean we have a history in NCAA and club of having many African American champions. Thats what I mean. Im not saying that no one in the NCAA has ever experienced racism. Im talking about theres a history, a long history, a 20 year history weve had of African American national champions in the NCAA and in club. But we are just now, elite gymnastics is breaking down a color barrier that other sports have long passed. Like the NFL for example, there have been black head coaches for a long time. Theres been black quarterbacks. You know, head coaches and quarterbacks have the same kind of prestige as an all-around champion would in gymnastics. In those sports, there have been studies about how commentators and about how people in the media talks about white vs. black athletes. And you talked a little bit about that. Can we learn something from what those sports have gone through and what the media and commentators have said there? What is this trend?
DVORA: Well in those other sports that you mentioned, studies have shown that the black athletes were more frequently described as powerful and athletic. And white athletes were described as hard working, intelligent etc. And youre thinking, well why is this bad? So the reason that the language we choose to describe athletes is important is because it creates expectations. So instead of just expecting that anyone who makes it to the NFL and gets named to be a quarterback can probably do the job, we were questioning those guys, whether or not an African American could be a quarterback. And I think its the same thing here.
JESSICA: I want to thank Dvora so much for being here today and remember to follow her on Twitter at @dvorameyers and also on her blog over at Unorthodox Gymnastics. Thanks again Dvora. This weeks Worlds wrap up report is brought to you by TumblTrak. Have you ever had an assignment to stick so many routines, you did an awesome routine, you stuck it and all of a sudden, the mat slips and you end up looking at the ceiling? Or youre doing dismounts and every time before start, you have to look around and ask someone to come over and hold the mat for you because if you dont, youll end up face planting because the mat slips? Well if youre tired of constantly being the one who has to push the stack of mats back in place, you know who Im talking about. The people who never put the mats back in place, theres a solution for all of this. Smart mat sheets from TumblTrak, they have nonskid material on the both sides, so you can put them on one mat or you can put them between mats and they stop mats from slipping. Smart mat sheets are affordable, fantastic and most of all, they work. Check them out at TumblTrak. Thats TumblTrak. Tumbltrak.com.
JESSICA: So lets start with our Worlds wrap up. Were going to go through our favorites and the things that really stood out to us. Were going to kind of talk about where we think gymnastics is at this point, what changes are needed and where gymnastics is going in the right directions. But first of all, Uncle Tim, tell us about the data that you have collected and what interesting trends youve found after this World Championships.
UNCLE TIM: So one thing that I noticed in both the mens and womens all around competition, execution mattered a lot.
UNCLE TIM: So the top three gymnasts in the all around were also the top three executioners, as I call them. So they had the highest execution scores. In the men, it was actually Kohei Uchimura was the top, and then Ryohei Kato was second, and Fabian Hambuchen was third. In the womens it was Kyla Ross was on the top, and then Simone Biles and then Aliya Mustafina.
JENNI: Do you think thats a good thing? Should the gymnasts who perform what they can do be more highly rewarded? Or do you think people who dare to try more difficult routines should be up there?
UNCLE TIM: So to talk about the D scores, Simone Biles threw the hardest difficulty. So she had the hardest difficulty and the second highest execution and then Kohei Uchimura had highest execution, second highest difficulty and so I think that, I mean, for both Simone and Kohei, you had a pretty good blend of both execution and difficulty.
JENNI: Ok well then thats kind of how it should be, I think.
UNCLE TIM: Then another thing that was a little bit surprising, but Im not too surprised by this, but you how Ive been keeping track of the highest scores, well only two gymnasts posted the highest scores in the world for 2013 during Worlds and thats Kohei Uchimura in the all around with a 91.990 and McKayla Maroneys two vault average of 15.724 during event finals. So only two gymnasts posted the highest scores in the world which either means everyone did a little bit worse than they have in the past or the scoring at other meets has been a little bit easier. I dont know which one it is. But yeah I found that interesting as well.
JENNI: I was just wondering whether you were glad that McKayla Maroney tried the all around or sad because, her name slips my mind, what is her name
JESSICA: Brenna Dowell
JENNI: Yes, didnt get an opportunity to compete.
JESSICA: I do not think it was the correct decision to put Maroney in the all around at an individual world championships. Individuals should be given a chance to medal or make finals on the events in which they are best. There was absolutely no reason to put someone in the all around when they have basically no shot. I mean you never know whats going to happen but honestly, there was no shot for her to make the all around, especially when shes falling on beam all week. I was disgusted by that choice. Maroneys fantastic. Dont get me wrong. But Brenna Dowell was robbed.
48:56-end (starts with Jenni Yeah I just thought it would be nice )
JENNI: Yeah I just thought it would be nice if everyone who had worked hard and trained for the World Championships was given an opportunity to compete at the World Championships.
JESSICA: Amen to that. Another quote for our tshirts and bumper stickers.
UNCLE TIM: To play devils advocate though it depends on how you look at Worlds. Right? So is it really just about the individual Worlds? Or is it trying to build a team in the future? And what kind of role will Mckayla Maroney fulfill in your team? And to say that she had no chance of making all around finals is not true because she finished sixth during qualifications.
JESSICA: But she wasnt going to beat the other two people from her country though. Thats the point. The rest of the world doesnt matter.
UNCLE TIM: True, but like-
JESSICA: Bring it! Bring it I am ready right now
UNCLE TIM: Well if somebody had a meltdown right? Like yeah. A huge meltdown.
JENNI: And didnt I hear that she was kept out of floor final because of some kind of technical music issue? Did you hear about that?
JESSICA: Oh yes. That is on our list. Yeah she went overtime. Overtime. At World Championships. How does that happen?
JENNI: Thats shocking
JENNI: Who allowed that to happen? Who didnt time her music correctly?
JENNI: I mean I know that you can- so the maximum time limit for a floor routine is 1:30. If you perform for longer than that its a deduction right? You can have a piece of music thats longer than 1:30 if you dont start moving as soon as the music starts moving. You can only move within that music for 1:30. So whether maybe she was supposed to finish a little bit earlier or maybe start a bit later and she was a bit eager? But still thats a ridiculous reason not to make a final. That shouldnt be happening.
JESSICA: Yeah and she was one second overtime.
JESSICA: I would be so pissed
UNCLE TIM: Youd think you would just cut your music shorter so that you wouldnt go overtime.
JENNI: So theres no chance
UNCLE TIM: Yeah
JESSICA: Yeah. Im just saying if I was her, I would be firing someone.
JENNI: [LAUGHS] I dont think she has the power to fire people, but
JESSICA: She picks her coaches. Thats all Im saying.
JESSICA: Thats- I would be like, ugh.
JESSICA: Anywho. Ok. So- oh our medal predictions. Who won our medal predictions?
JESSICA: We all predicted-
UNCLE TIM: No one
JESSICA: We all failed. Thats right. Because we won like eight or something crazy.
UNCLE TIM: You came the closest though Jess
JESSICA: Oh yay me! Thats nice. But the men blew away our predictions. We totally didnt think and then they did really well. Yeah.
JESSICA: Oh yes Im so interested in fashion [LAUGHS]. Im so interested in fashion- Im not interested in fashion at all except when it comes to accidentally seeing peoples butt cracks during a gymnastics routine. So ok I just feel like we need a new wedgie rule. This is out of control. There was a wedgie so bad at Worlds I was afraid I was going to see some vajayjay during her routine. And this is- Ive never seen that bad of a wedgie at a World Championships before. And so I feel like we need to allow the gymnasts to pull their wedgie out. There just needs to be a rule. So basically I think because its not good for the sport. Were in a day and age where someone will take a picture of that or take a video of that or and it will exist for the rest of that girls life. And its not fair to her. This isnt like the 50s. That wasnt going to happen. Its everywhere now forever. And its almost pornographic. Its just not ok. So I feel like to alleviate gymnasts of the pressure to not pull their wedgie out of their butt, we need to just say if you get a wedgie, its a .1 deduction no matter what. And you can pull it out of your butt like 10 times during the routine if you want to. But it doesnt matter what you the gymnast do to correct it. Its just if your leotard goes up your butt, its a .1. So you allow the gymnast the freedom to alleviate themselves of humiliation. What do you guys think? Will this fix?
JENNI: The judging of how good your gymnastics is- should you really judge it based on how well your leotard fits? Is that fair? I dont think thats very fair. So yeah, maybe they should change that rule.
JESSICA: Yeah or how well you can resist- how well you can still compete while resisting the urge to not show your butt to the entire world. Literally.
JENNI: So uncomfortable. So if you get a wedgie like that, its just, its unnatural. It goes against all of your instincts to just not touch it. So yeah.
JESSICA: And not to mention like seriously I was afraid for her safety. I was like this distracted. I was like doing the kind of skills that people are doing, if you have that kind of distraction [LAUGHS] I think there just needs to be a rule. Its just .1. And thats it. And just let the gymnast pull it out of their butt.
JENNI: She couldve- I think that if they dont kind of notice they wont deduct though. So maybe there just needs to be some dance worked into her routine where she swings her arm down and has the opportunity to pull it out without being noticed.
JESSICA: You should just work it into her choreography like, DUN DUN and pull it out from one cheek the other cheek on beat.
JESSICA: Yes. So lets talk about-
JENNI: I can imagine that happening in college gymnastics.
JESSICA: Yes. Yes. Oh there have been some bad leotard- like people get their leotards at the last minute instead of having time to try them out or make sure they fit. God.
JENNI: Thats not going to happen to me.
JESSICA: No it will not happen to you.
JENNI: Im going to use so much leotard glue.
JENNI: Maybe honey as well.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Only the Chinese honey though.
JENNI: Yeah Ill fly to China. Ill find the secret bee store. Ill take the honey. Itll be cool. Ill be [inaudible].
JESSICA: Imported. Ok so Uncle Tim, what was your favorite- or what do you think the best single skill performed in all the World Championships was?
UNCLE TIM: Well I mean its a tie between Oleg Verniaievs straddle plange on high bar and Sam Mikulaks autoasphyxiation chin stand on high bar.
UNCLE TIM: Just kidding. I really have to agree with Blythe. It was undoubtedly Kristian Thomas yurchenko double pike.
JENNI: Yes Britain
UNCLE TIM: Yeah it was a gift from the gymnastics gods. It was so good.
JENNI: Mhmm. And hes just so- hes fantastic at vault. Im so glad he got a medal.
UNCLE TIM: Do all the girls have a little crush on him?
JENNI: Oh Kristian?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah. I mean hes the tallest one out there, so
JENNI: Id say that all of the mens team are crushable.
JENNI: In the UK. Crushable, is that the right word? Fanciable? We say that in the UK. We fancy them. Yeah we have a good looking team and a talented team. Basically were the best. But Im biased.
UNCLE TIM: So those were mine. What about you Jess?
JESSICA: I was going to say Dan Purvis. Hes definitely- the older he gets, hes getting more and more handsome. I noticed.
JENNI: See more British talent.
JENNI: Were not just pretty faces.
UNCLE TIM: That was your favorite skill?
JESSICA: Oh yeah my favorite skill. Oh yeah. Ok. [LAUGHS] For me it had to be Kenzos quad. Its just- he has better form than people in this competition who were doing double twists. And he was doing a quad. And the other thing that made that skill even better was King Kohei smiling out of his mind like a cheshire cat while he was watching Kenzo do his quad. And that made the whole thing even better. Because even when Kohei wins hes so stoic and like I have to be humble. And to see him totally nerd out while Kenzo was doing his routine made it even better. How about did you guys notice anyone pull a move like Croatia did that year? Where Im from a country where nobody really knows me so I want to really stand out and be noticed. She wore that- I feel so bad Im forgetting her name. But she wore a purple leotard with a giant neck tie down the front. And so she really like everyone noticed her. Did you guys notice anyone doing a move like that? Standing out in that way from a country you wouldnt normally notice?
UNCLE TIM: On the mens side, a guy from Egypt Ali Zahran did the opposite of what Fadwa did. The scary handspring double front.
JESSICA: Oh no
UNCLE TIM: No he did something really great. So he does a victorian. And its pretty much the hardest rings strength skill in the entire world.
JESSICA: This was thought to be impossible for a long time right?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah and he does it really well. And he also submitted a skill to the FIG using the victorian as a strength skill. And so that was a good thing. A good way of a person from an unknown country standing out. Unfortunately they didnt show the routine on the internet, and I havent seen a video of it yet. But I think according to the FIGs list of skills that were approved, he actually did his own skill. His eponymous skill.
JESSICA: Thats awesome. Is he one of the guys- I hate to be totally American centric right here but Im just going to do it anyway. There were so many guys who competed in the NCAA at Worlds that I had no idea they were living in the US competing in NCAA. Is he one of them?
UNCLE TIM: No.
JESSICA: Ok. Just in case I could claim some national pride for Egypt and him, I was going to do it. But. Jenni, anybody stand out for you?
JENNI: Well I wouldnt say shes from an unknown country, but-
JENNI: Well ok. But Vasiliki Millousi, did you see her interesting leotard in the all around final?
JESSICA: The pink one with the dominatrix X?
JENNI: Yeah what did you think?
JESSICA: Im torn. Because I feel like she can wear that, whereas anyone else wore it I would be horrified. But I have a special soft spot for her. I liked her all around finals way better. The one that was white with the gold.
JENNI: Yeah that one made me feel a bit weird. When shes doing her all slow kind of fancy dance on the floor. I dont really know how to feel.
JENNI: Kind of seductive like I dont know.
JESSICA: So she made you feel something though? As opposed to nothing-
JENNI: Well yeah. That is something to be said. But I dont know if it was a comfortable feeling.
JENNI: Maybe for the male viewers, I dont know.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Felt like you should cover your eyes a little bit, like you shouldnt be watching. Yes. I understand.
JENNI: Yeah. Mhmm.
JESSICA: I liked her routine. I thought she could pull it off because it was authentic to her. Whereas opposed to-
JENNI: Only she could pull it off.
JESSICA: Yes. Whereas opposed to other gymnasts who would try to do something like that and you would just be like oh my god. Yeah.
JENNI: Yeah. But good for her. Shes like 29 isnt she now?
JENNI: Shes 29 and shes putting Greece on the map.
JENNI: Good for her
JESSICA: How about most improved choreography or best choreography for either men or women in this competition? Uncle Tim?
UNCLE TIM: Im going to have to go with Kyla Ross on this one for best choreography. I mean comparatively speaking, if you look at the entire history of gymnastics, maybe not the best. But for this meet I think that I really liked the little section right after her second tumbling pass where the little woosh woosh sound comes in which sounds a little like a whip. And she flicks her wrists and she usually has this little haughty face going on. And it just reminds me of like an evil queen or something and I love that. On the mens side, there was a guy named Michael Makings of South Africa. And he submitted a skill that did not get accepted. But he really submitted it so that the FIG would allow him to compete it. And its basically almost like a very big version of the worm on your back. So you jump from your feet to your hands in kind of an arching motion then roll down.
JESSICA: It is so cool I love it.
JENNI: I havent seen that. Is it like breakdancing?
JESSICA: Yes except like 10 feet in the air. Ok its not that high but it looks so huge.
JENNI: What I love is what Max Whitlock does when he does a handstand and spins round and round in circles on his hands. Like jumping.
JESSICA: Air flare
JENNI: Is that what its called?
JENNI: Yeah I love that. He can do I think he did it in training gym once. He did like 50 in a row.
JENNI: Mhmm. And he does like four in his routine.
JESSICA: We keep saying that someone needs to do that on pommel horse and pommel horse will be the most exciting event there is.
JENNI: Just counting up and up just how many they could do.
JESSICA: Just one
JENNI: A tenth for every extra one you do in a row. Imagine how long the routines would be then.
UNCLE TIM: Can you suggest this to Max for us? Could you text him or something?
JENNI: [LAUGHS] To just add it to his pommel horse routine? Just at the end. Just like keep spinning and spinning and spinning.
JESSICA: Just one. Just one air flare and he will win everything on pommel horse forever for the rest of existence. He can just keep doing pommel horse until hes 70 years old if he can put the air flare in.
JESSICA: Itll be worth like a Z
JENNI: Well maybe. Ok. Ill have a word, Ill have a word.
JESSICA: Ok yeah let him know what we think. Let him know. Ok I was going to say my favorite choreography actually was Max Whitlock on floor. He brought what mens- the artistic part of mens gymnastics. He didnt just do tumbling because theres a sport for tumbling. Its called tumbling. He actually did artistic gymnastics and he brought the air flare. He did a jump 1.5 turn to prone. He added something that is supposed to be there and I totally appreciated it. And the other one its not really choreography but Becky Downies bar routine construction I also totally loved. I feel like thats the direction womens gymnastics on bars should go. And I just want to give her and her coach a shout out. Im pointing to England right now. Giving them a shout out.
JENNI: Britain! Britain! This is why were called Great Britain.
JESSICA: Ah ha!
JENNI: Ah ha! See? Theres a reason.
JESSICA: So if you had to pick a hottest gymnast or coach at Worlds, Uncle Tim who would you choose?
UNCLE TIM: Oh my gosh. Thats so hard. Lets see. So there was a Romanian doctor who was so hot. He was Dr. McDreamy.
UNCLE TIM: And then if I were straight it would totally be Vasiliki Millousi. She makes me want to be straight.
UNCLE TIM: And then also-
JENNI: This is why she makes me feel so uncomfortable.
JENNI: I just dont know how to feel about her. She just, shes great but I need to be male to enjoy it.
JESSICA: Girl crush. Its just girl crush.
JESSICA: Theres a name for it. There you go.
JENNI: Ill just go with it.
UNCLE TIM: Theres an Instagram hashtag for it. Its woman crush Wednesday, WCW. Just FYI. And then also I have to say that Ryohei Kato. I dont find him sexy in the sense that I want to jump his bones, but rather I think that I dont know, he just looks like a porcelain doll and I want to put him on display because he has such a pretty face.
JESSICA: He just looks like hes not real. And his hair as we talked about, whoever sells that hairspray totally needs to sponsor gymnastics forever. Because his hair never moved. Unlike some surfer boy medical students from the Netherlands whose hair was all over the place the entire time.
JENNI: Ahem Zonderland
UNCLE TIM: But when you have abs like that you can do whatever you want.
JENNI: And a high bar routine like that. Hello. He has- doesnt have have a Madame Tussauds wax figure of him now as well?
JENNI: He does. I saw a picture and I thought it was him. Its identical to what he looks like. And he was so cute in the high bar final anyway. Hugging Fabian Hambuchen, who I call Hamburger as a nickname. They were so cute werent they? Waiting for the scores. Hugging for quite a while actually. Little bromance.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Exactly. I have to say there wasnt anybody specifically because you know Igor wasnt competing so no one can hold a candle to him. But Fabian and his hugs. I just feel like theres something for everybody when Fabian does those long lingering hugs with all the men and the men are all mushed together with all those biceps. I really enjoy his hugathons.
JENNI: You want to be in the middle there dont you?
JENNI: I can tell.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Well you know, wouldnt hurt. Ok top three code changes that are needed. If you were going to change something right now, what are the top three things that need to be changed? This has to be addressed to save all of gymnastics.
UNCLE TIM: Save all of gymnastics.
JESSICA: Save all of gymnastics.
JENNI: Maybe the corner rule on floor. You know where everyone has to stand on one leg looking in the opposite direction looking like a flamingo before they start their tumble because theyre not allowed to stand on two feet to hesitate. Because every gymnast just does it. Thats the workaround. Instead of just waiting in the corner, now theyre just waiting in the opposite direction standing on one leg then doing a 180 degree turn straight into their run. Probably getting quite dizzy before their tumbles as well. So I dont know maybe there needs to be an extra second added youre allowed to wait so no one has to keep doing that. Because I agree floor routines should be a performance. Like Larisa Iordache, or Iordache as shes supposed to be pronounced, does hers so energetically and she keeps going and going and its great to watch. But I dont know, with the whole gymnasts who dont have as much energy as her, just kind of wait on one leg which looks a bit awkward.
JESSICA: I agree. Flamingo rule needs to be changed. Uncle Tim do you have a fix for this?
UNCLE TIM: A fix? No. What about you Jess? I know you do actually.
JESSICA: Yes. Thanks for asking. Well. [LAUGHS] I think we need to go back to the code where you had to connect your dance elements directly into an acrobatic or running for a pass. So basically if youre on beam and youre about to do two back handsprings, you have to dance into your back handspring without stopping and go. No standing. And the same on floor. So if youre about to tumble, you have to actually keep moving and dance. You cant stand there and wave your arms like the Russians. You have to actually dance into it and go. You know?
JENNI: Yeah but see thats acceptable. If youre going to dance then tumble, yeah. But I think thats what they tried to do with the no pausing in the corners rule. What they actually ended up doing is make people stand on one leg. Yeah they need to dance like, again, like Larisa Iordache. They need to dance and keep the artistry going and then tumble straight away but not just play to the code by just standing on one leg. Like this is like some kind of detail needs to be changed there to achieve that what theyre trying to achieve.
JESSICA: Yes this is why they need to have the spirit of the code. They can call it the OBeirne rule if they want. And it has to be that you cant just play to the code. It has to be the spirit of the code. So if they put something in here like you have to stand on one leg or whatever but you know the purpose is they want you to dance into it, if you just stand there like a flamingo then psht, deduction. Because its not in the spirit of dancing to the code. I feel like this has to be- this is my super cure.
JENNI: Thats a great way of putting it.
JESSICA: Thank you. I mean that exists in law, so why not put it in the rules? I mean, anyway. So the other thing I think is we need to go back to two tumbling passes. Seriously.
UNCLE TIM: Three. Three?
JESSICA: Three. Oh sorry what did I say? Two? Sorry no three tumbling passes. Three. Theres too much tumbling. And look at Ferraris routine. She does a double double, then a full in, then a double back. Like if you can do a double double, we know that you can do a double back. Thanks. We dont need to see the double back. Its just you should do your three hardest passes. One of those should have a front skill in it so we dont have all these random front aerials and side flips just randomly thrown in.
JENNI: A little side somi just here and there.
JESSICA: Yes right? They dont fit. It should be three passes. Throw your hardest stuff. Then the other one is on the beam. We should have the low to the beam requirement should be an actual element that has to be done low to the beam. Not just oh you have to touch your leotard to the beam at some point. You have to actually do a roll or a chest stand or a- it has to be an actual skill of value low to the beam.
JENNI: Its so true that people and gymnasts and whatever literally touch their leo to the beam and get back up again to fit with that as well. And theyre not doing the OBeirne gymnastics. Theyre just filling the requirements.
JESSICA: Theyre not doing the OBeirne gymnastics! Yes! Yes! Love that. Yes its not the spirit. Theyre just trying to get away with it. No good.
JENNI: Mhmm. Thats going to become a commonly used term now. OBeirne gymnastics. There we go.
JESSICA: Oh my god thats the best thing ever.
JENNI: Makes sense
JESSICA: How about any other rule changes that you guys think are absolutely needed? What about on the mens side?
UNCLE TIM: I would say 1) double salto for men on floor. You need to do a double salto. 2) also I think that this yamawaki half and tkachev half skills on mens high bar, they really suck. Nobody really does a half twist and catches the bar because theyre trying to catch in L grip and its really hard to do that skill and catch in double L grip. And so I think that they need to figure out something to do with that. On the womens side I also say that the vault tables need to be fixed. When it comes to all around competitions, the scores are very high on vault compared to the other events. And so I think that they either have to find a way to come down harder on execution, or lower the start values on vault. And then I also on beam- I have a lot of problems with beam right now because I feel like all connections should be dynamic. So there should be no arm swing connections anymore. Im sick of them. For instance, Sasada of Japan, she can do a straddle jump punch wolf jump. And if she can do that, everyone else can. And I dont know Im also sick of aerial front walkover to back handspring. This isnt the first time that weve ever really seen that pass. In 1981 there were a bunch of arm swing acro connections too. And they eventually got rid of them. And I think we need to get rid of them again. Thats just my opinion though.
JESSICA: I agree. You should have to rebound into something for it to be a series.
JENNI: While were speaking about Worlds and beam, I was so sad that Sanne- is it Wevers or Wevers from the Netherlands?
JENNI: Yes, right? You feel my pain. She fell straight away. Gets on the beam, falls off, pressure got to her. But her routine is so unique and different and exciting. And she just keeps spinning like a top. And its really cool. And I wanted her to get in the final and maybe even medal just to mix things up a bit. But yeah, she fell off on her mount. And then I think she fell again after that. So.
JESSICA: It was heartbreaking. I was almost in tears.
JENNI: I know
JESSICA: So sad
JENNI: But theres still hope.
JESSICA: Yes. I hope shell be like this will never happen again. Very distressing. So what about things that you guys liked about the coverage?
JENNI: Yeah one thing that was great for me watching on my laptop was how they did the slow motion replays afterwards. Because gymnastics in slow mo a) looks so impressive because you can see every tiny change thats made in a split second that with the naked eye you cant appreciate. And also I could get fantastic screenshots from the videos, so that was great for my blog as well.
JESSICA: Yes. Screenshots are so important. What would the gymnastics fandom be? What would the gymternet be without screenshots?
JENNI: What would Tumblr be?
JESSICA: Tumblr would just cease to exist. Uncle Tim how about for you?
UNCLE TIM: 1) Bart Conner. 2) Bart Conner. And 3) Bart Conner. Hes my favorite commentator and we got to hear his lovely voice on Universal Sports.
JESSICA: I know I wish I had Universal Sports just so I could hear him because hes fabulous and positive. So I loved that after I tweeted to the FIG that they should stop showing slow motion replays of women doing kips on bars directly in line with their crotches so you could see it all in slow motion, they stopped that. And Im sure its because I tweeted at them. I appreciated that. That they stopped the slow motion crotch shots.
JENNI: Youve got the power girl
JESSICA: Im telling you, its all because of me. Im just going to say. And then I love the, exactly the slow motion replays were fantastic. And I also like that instead of- they showed the scores, they showed the standings over and over, you always knew the D score and the E score and the final score. And they also showed actual gymnastics continuously. We only saw people standing on the sidelines cutting their tape off or hugging when it was appropriate for a second while we were waiting for something else. They didnt waste time with all the sideline stuff. We just saw gymnastics routine after routine after routine after routine. And I just love that. I thought they did a great job. I was really happy with this.
JENNI: I thought they illustrated what was going on, the story, a little bit better of the competition. They only showed the relevant bits. They didnt show people just sat with their coach. And they get those long shots where the gymnast doesnt know what to do because they know theyre being filmed and they just kind of sit there and then they wave and then theyre still being filmed so then they just kind of look away, trying not to look at the camera. So yeah there wasnt as much of that so that was good. Then they showed just little bits that were relevant. Like Aliya Mustafina writing her scores down when they were showing how there had been petitions and stuff. So yeah.
UNCLE TIM: Although the best part of the entire meet was the Sam Mikulak dance cam and the USAG little footage of the dance cam and Sam dancing. I thought that was great too.
JESSICA: It was genius. It got on one of the talk shows here. Andy whats his name? Where Oprah was on and had cocktails and talked about- I dont know what the show is called. Andy someone. Anyway. Oprahs been on so its a huge deal even though I cant remember what its called. So it was a genius marketing move and totally enjoyable worldwide.
UNCLE TIM: So what do you guys think- were there any places where you thought the judges got it wrong? I know a lot of people on the gymternet are saying Mai Murakami should have won bronze. Also theres the whole question of whether Simone Biles, her petition shouldve been accepted and she shouldve received connection bonus for her leap series into her back tuck. What did you guys think? Were there any places where you thought the judges were wrong?
JENNI: I hate becoming a judge myself because I know obviously firsthand how hard gymnasts work. And I like to appreciate all the different gymnasts and appreciate whats good about what all of them can do. But yeah Murakami on floor, the little Japanese girl, shes so adorable. I mean she does this amazing routine with difficult tumbles. She does double double and double layout and she nails them and she dances like- I want to just hug her shes so cute. And then shes quite serious in the routine and then shes not afraid to just be herself and just jump up and down and squeal with glee when shes done. Run off and wave. So I think shes endearing to people watching and thats maybe why people wouldve loved to see her win bronze. But I cant- Im not a judge myself so Im not going to debate with particular scores and things.
JESSICA: Luckily, I have no problem with that and I think she-
JESSICA: was absolutely robbed. And I am offended. And I want to apologize to the entire country of Japan for her not winning the bronze because she totally shouldve got it. Because if you watch that routine, her form in the air is perfect. Its perfect perfect perfect. And then we have Ferrari who I love Ferrari, shes did a great routine. Her deductions in the air like nobodys business. Everything she does in the air has multiple deductions. Mai Murakami, perfect in the air. How she got an 8.2 in execution while Ferrari got an 8.4 and Iordache got an 8.5? Mmm. No. I do not understand this. And I totally agree that she was robbed. Uncle Tim what about on the mens side? Anyone robbed? Any injustices we need to right right here on the air now?
UNCLE TIM: I think maybe Kristian Thomas. I could see him switching Kristian Thomas and Steven Legendre on vault. So Kristian Thomas would end up with the silver and Steven Legendre maybe ends up with bronze. Because I do feel like Kristian Thomas first vault was maybe a little underscored in execution. But I dont really have any huge complaints for the most part on the mens side. My biggest heartbreak though for the mens side was the fact that Oliver Hegge of Switzerland broke his grip and then did not get his new grips in time to mount the high bar. So once you hit the mat and once you stand up, you have 30 seconds to remount the high bar. And he- so had he stayed on the ground, not gotten up, and his coach brought him a new pair of grips, it would have been all fine. But because he got up, he didnt have 30 seconds. And I guess what really bothers me is that they enforce this rule. But then theres this rule in the code of points which says you have to have skin colored bandages, otherwise it is not appropriate. Did they enforce that rule? No.
UNCLE TIM: Nope
JENNI: Yeah that was so mean
UNCLE TIM: So its like, which rules are you going to enforce, FIG? Are you going to enforce all of them or just some of them? You have to enforce all of them, otherwise you look like a giant hypocrite.
JENNI: Mhmm. Mhmm. And I know- why should you get 30 seconds if you stand up compared to if you lie down? Thats just- again with these technical rules, like the music rule and the pulling the wedgie out rule. These arent- youre not judging gymnastics. Youre just judging all these technicalities and its not fair. He shouldve been given a chance to finish his routine. And I think didnt the crowd boo? When he was not allowed-
UNCLE TIM: Yeah
JESSICA: Booed the judges
JESSICA: And the other thing is, who can put grips on in 30 seconds? No one can put their grips on in 30 seconds. Its not a 30 second operation. Theres no way. And I just feel like there should be a special rule for equipment failure. If it was the high bar that broke instead of his grip that broke, there would be a special dispensation. But because its his equipment, not the FIGs equipment, he doesnt get the benefit of the doubt? I dont agree. Because even if your grips break- and everybody knows theres been a lot of talk about problems with grips breaking right now. And a lot of people have been questioning why is this happening and is the quality going down. Something thats a worldwide, I dont know, cowhide problem.
JESSICA: But its like you know theres been discussion- maybe its like the bees. You know its I just feel like its not fair when its not the gymnasts fault that the grip broke. And no ones going to purposely do that to their grip. Im going to-
UNCLE TIM: Yeah
JESSICA: cut it a little bit. Because youre risking your life if that happens. So its just a ridiculous rule. This is going in my letter to Grandi too.
UNCLE TIM: My other rule change-
JENNI: I al-
UNCLE TIM: Oh sorry
JENNI: Carry on
UNCLE TIM: I was going to say my other rule change is that Philipp Boy must be present at every major international gymnastics meet. And if he is not, he must go on a date with one of the members of the GymCastic crew.
JENNI: Im up for that
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
JENNI: I mean I might have to check with my boyfriend but Im sure hed be fine with it.
JENNI: Oh while were on heartbreaks as well, I am heartbroken for- well Im so pleased for Rebecca Downie- well all of Great Britain. I think they did a great job. But Im especially pleased with how Becky Tunney and Ruby Harrold made it into finals in their first World Championships. Was great. Then Ruby and Becky specifically making it to bar finals. Two out of the eight gymnasts in the bar final from Great Britain. Thats amazing. But it makes me so sad that Becky Downie didnt- wasnt able to do her routine the same as she can do in qualification. Because she works so hard and she can do that routine like 100%. She can do it. And its so- like you said you love the new routine and the combinations and connections. And I just wish she can pull it out in a final and get the recognition she deserves and get a medal or something. Because my heart breaks for her when she does it so well and she got so close to the end and didnt quite make it.
JESSICA: Uncle Tim any other heartbreakers for you?
UNCLE TIM: Krisztian Berki not making pommel horse finals. Its not a rule problem, he just fell off and he messed up. But that really kind of sucked.
JESSICA: That was like a shocker.
JENNI: And Dan Keatings
UNCLE TIM: Yeah him
JENNI: It can happen to anyone. He was European champion. And then- him, Berki
JESSICA: So what is the FIG doing right? Whats right in the code right now? What are you guys happy with and want to see more of it?
UNCLE TIM: Nothing
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Theres got to be one thing
JENNI: Well I like that theyre trying to put more artistry in floor routines. Although they need to do it the OBeirne way.
JENNI: You were right about that. What are they doing right-
UNCLE TIM: I think that they- one thing that I really liked was the fact that you could go online and see which judging were judging which events. And so it takes away a little bit of the, how do i-
JESSICA: Cloud of secrecy
UNCLE TIM: Skepticism, secrecy, the whole paranoia surrounding judging. And oh my gosh you know this Russian judge was judging balance beam and you know whatever. And I think that was nice. And I found it interesting just a little tidbit of information that Donatella Saci of Italy was the supervisor for balance beam. And so she wouldve had a role in deciding whether Simone Biles and Kyla Ross petitions were accepted.
JENNI: What do they accept petitions based on? Do you know?
UNCLE TIM: D scores. It has to be D score. You cant do an inquiry for your E score so it has to be D score. But I dont know that we for sure know why they filed them. I think for Simone it was a question of her connections with her leaps into her back tuck. But as far as Kyla, I dont know exactly what. And for Mustafina we think that its her turn. Because she did a 2.5 turn rather than a double turn. And so I think they were petitioning to get more difficulty for that skill.
JESSICA: So do you have to write down what you think the judges got wrong? Or do you just say D score overall?
UNCLE TIM: I do not know.
JENNI: I do not know.
JESSICA: It seems like it would have to be D score overall because you dont know what they didnt give. Until we have live iPad scoring, we wont know. But when we have that- when Jenni creates the app for live scoring for the judges-
JESSICA: When you can just see, then yes.
JENNI: You want me to create an app for that?
JENNI: Ill move on to puzzle games to gymnastics scoring.
JESSICA: Yes exactly.
JESSICA: So everybody can see. And the fans at home can follow along. You can score as you go. There will be like a live app so you can test yourself against the judges. It will all be out in the open so people dont have to have these conspiracy theories about whos slipping people wads of money under the judging table while routines are going on. Itll all be, yeah. You could totally do this. This will be easy for you.
JENNI: If someone wants to contact me, fund me, FIG, make this app.
JESSICA: Yeah you could launch it at Glasgow World Championships. Be perfect time to try it.
JESSICA: Ok. Its all settled. We have our plans.
JENNI: Yeah ok sure, just like that.
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: Lets get into listener feedback for this week. First I want to announce that we are having a Halloween costume contest. Like we did last year. Oh my god Im so excited. I cant wait to see the stuff that people come up with this year. So send us a picture with you in your costume by November 1 to email@example.com or tweet it at us or post it on our Facebook page. But make sure you send us an email with the picture so you can be entered. And just like last year we are giving the winner of the contest your choice of a poster from Cloud and Victory. If you guys havent checked out Cloud and Victorys site, oh my god, I love them. They are the only company making gorgeous clothes, sweaters, tshirts, jewelry, and posters for gymnastics fans. Iconic, beautiful graphics that will just live forever. Theyre so incredible. Cutting edge design. This is not chalky handprints on the butt shorts. That is not the kind of stuff they make. They make the kind of stuff you want to frame and its art. Its beautiful. I cant say enough about them, I love them so much. Were so happy theyre back sponsoring our Halloween contest. Jenni did you ever have any gymnastics contests? Gymnastics Halloween costumes? Did you ever dress up with a theme or do something at your gym?
JENNI: No. Maybe I should enter the GymCastic Halloween contest.
JESSICA: Yes you totally should.
JENNI: [LAUGHS] Ok.
JESSICA: Ok very good
JENNI: Ill think about my outfit
JESSICA: Ok excellent.
JENNI: Maybe Vasiliki Millousi
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Only if you do the dance moves!
JENNI: Maybe not
JESSICA: Your boyfriend would be so excited. The other thing that we did based on last episode, we asked who your fantasy, your absolute dream choreographer for Simone Biles would be for her next floor routine. And we created a little poll and we put it on our website. Uncle Tim will you tell us the results of the poll?
UNCLE TIM: Drum roll please
JESSICA: [drum roll noise]
UNCLE TIM: So number one was Dominic Zito with 33% roughly. Number two was Svetlana Boginskaya with 25%. And in third was Sonya Taya with 20%. And so well put up the results on our website in a little pie chart for you to look at.
JESSICA: Very divided. I think theyre going to have to fight it out to win her over.
UNCLE TIM: Between- yeah.
JESSICA: Put your bids in to Simone, why youd be her best choreographer.
UNCLE TIM: Who do you think would be in a fight, who do you think would win in a fight, Dominic Zito-
UNCLE TIM: or Svetlana Boginskaya?
JESSICA: Boginskaya would kill them all. There would be no- there wouldnt even be bodies left, no bones. Everyone would be gone.
UNCLE TIM: Shed bite them all, yeah
JESSICA: Ok so we had a bunch of letters after Worlds. And one of the ones that we picked- because we really wanted to hear Jennis thoughts on this. We had brevet judge write in, and she posed an interesting question. And that is, theres judges from all over the world who judge at World Championships, but there are also judges who dont have elite gymnasts in their country at all. So the question was kind of how are these judges prepared? Do they have enough practice? Do they have enough practice really judging competitions going into this? And maybe this is of course everyone has to pass the same test so of course they have the same qualifications. But her question was really how much practice are you getting on a regular basis when you dont have access to the athletes in your home country to practice judging them. And so we wondered, Jenni have you ever noticed kind of a difference in the scoring when you go to different countries? Did you notice variations?
JENNI: Its difficult to notice variations in scores between competitions because each competition is kind of- theres a new base level. Like when the first person is judged, the rest of the gymnasts are judged based from that as a higher or lower or like it sets the standard. So you cant really compare scores between competitions.
UNCLE TIM: Did you ever find that your national scores were higher than international scores?
JENNI: I think some countries at their national championships, they put their scores higher than they would internationally to make kind of a good impression on other countries ahead of other major championships. I think that the British system is pretty accurate in that we judge based in the same kind of standards as an international system. So we have a good idea of what we will score before we go out. Were not going to score lower on an international scene and be shocked or disappointed.
JESSICA: Uncle Tim do you have an international listener shout out of the week this week?
UNCLE TIM: Sure. One of our Twitter followers is Periclistus Silva. And he is from Brazil. So yeah, its awesome. I think its our very first shout out to Brazil.
JESSICA: Yay. So, just a reminder you guys, if you have any questions for us, if theres something you want us to answer, or if you have any comments for us, you can write us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Were also on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and Tumblr. And if you want to support the show, you can write a review on iTunes. You can subscribe to us on iTunes. You can even subscribe via email which is kind of awesome now because when you subscribe via email you get an email when a new show is up and it basically has all the same info we have on our website up except the videos. So you can check that out. You can download the Stitcher app. It works on all devices including Android. And you can of course donate to the show if you want through the donate button. Or you can shop in our Amazon store. You can buy one of the fabulous books we have there like Louis Smith. Fabulous, another Great Britain who we love. Who you know what, Jenni we think he should have his own fragrance. The Louis Smith fragrance.
JENNI: Oh he should
JENNI: I wouldnt be surprised if he just releases one next week now.
JESSICA: Right? Ok so after you text Max Whitlock and tell him about the air flair on pommel horse, you should text Louis and tell him about how he should launch his own fragrance.
JENNI: Ok let me get a pen and paper and write this down.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Our full GymCastic wishlist for all of your friends. So everybody dont forget the Halloween contest. Send us your costume pictures to be entered. And next week we will be talking to- were going to have a really special show next week. Next week we are going to have a representative from Safe 4 Athletes on and also Orange County Register reporter whos covered a lot of the abuse cases in gymnastics. And they are going to come on and talk about preventing abuse in gymnastics. And talking about what you can do as a parent, as a gymnast, what to look out for, and different programs you can ask your gym to implement. So Im excited for that. I think it will be a very positive way to look at this issue. And what you can do, what power you have as a coach, as a gym owner, that kind of stuff. So until next week, Im Jessica from masters-gymnastics
UNCLE TIM: Im Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Mens Gym
JENNI: And Im Jennifer Pinches, British gymnast. And my website iswww.jenniferpinches.com
JESSICA: See you next week!
JESSICA: And dont forget to buy Jennis awesome awesome awesome game which Im totally obsessed with and I love and Im now playing it for the second time in a row and I love it! Laser Chambers. Laser Chambers. There you go.
JENNI: Thank you, yeah. Laser Chambers woo! Olly?
JESSICA: Yeah Olly right?
JENNI: Yeah hes called Olly, yeah. Olly Williams. Yeah we used to not like him, now we do.
JESSICA: He got into an awesome Twitter fight with Simones coach, this-
JENNI: Oh really?
JENNI: Hes feisty
JESSICA: Oh yeah
JENNI: Yeah I basically I cant remember what it was actually. He wrote an article, something about after a competition we ate Ben and Jerrys ice cream to celebrate. And then he wrote all these comments like British gymnasts arent taking their gymnastics seriously, look at them eating ice cream, and what is this unprofessionalism, and this is why they dont win medals and stuff.
UNCLE TIM: Oh woW
JENNI: Right? So I sent him a text message I think it was just saying I think that your comments on the BBC website are inappropriate and just in a formal professional way I think you need to realize the positive side of what we are doing and not focus on publishing things that- negatively interpreting things that are out of context. Like we were celebrating after the competition, blah blah blah. Anyway I sent him this email. And since then, hes been good. So I sorted him out [LAUGHS].