TERIN: She says what’s on her mind and that’s her best quality. And what I’ve learned most about her is speak your mind. Don’t be afraid. Your opinions matter so don’t be afraid to talk about them. And that’s one of things of why me and Martha get along so well is because I actually speak up. Everybody else around her kind of agrees with her and doesn’t give her another side. So me being there, I can kind of give her my point of view from the athlete.
[Express Yourself intro music plays]
JESSICA: This week, Trautwig loses it, Elite Massilia has some amazing new debuts and Olympic silver medalist and the second most powerful woman in all of gymnastics, Terin Humphrey is here and gives us a very candid and entertaining interview.
ALLISON TAYLOR: Hey gymnasts. Elite Sportz Band is a cutting edge compression back warmer that can protect your most valued asset, your back. I’m Allison Taylor on behalf of Elite Sportz Band. Visit elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back. This is episode 60 for November 20, 2013. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from The Gymnastics Examiner
UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the cosmos, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. On Charlotte’s, the trampoline episode that we did with Charlotte, we mentioned a kid named Brandon Kryznefski. And we mentioned, Marina did an interview with him on Gymnastike and he is now a world champ. That’s right. So you guys should check out that interview and I think that’s really exciting that Marina totally called that and picked that kid out. He just looks like one of those people that just loves loves loves what he’s doing. So another US world champ. No biggie. Also in the news this week, NCAA signing week results. Now not everything is totally in. There’s still some holes, like Georgia still has a hole to fill so it’s going to be interesting. You guys should check out The Balance Beam Situation, our favorite NCAA gymnastics blog. But some of the most exciting things, some we knew about but just a little rundown of what I think is the most exciting. Elizabeth Price is going to Stanford, awesome for her. Very stoked for California. Brenna Dowell is going to Oklahoma. I think that’s a huge huge deal. What do you think? Do you think it’s like a Hollie Vise huge deal or just huge?
UNCLE TIM: I’m curious how Brenna will do in NCAA with their difficulty is not supposed to outweigh execution. And so it’ll be interesting to see what she does and how she does with watered down routines. But I think it could be excellent for Oklahoma.
JESSICA: Yeah I think in terms of recruiting, it’s a big deal to get her. Aja Monet Sims is going to Alabama. If you guys have never seen her or don’t remember her, she is a performer. If you put, who would you put together. She’s like if Laurie Hernandez and you know how I love to do these analogies. If Laurie Hernandez and give me a minute.
UNCLE TIM: Go on
JESSICA: She is
UNCLE TIM: She’s ineffable. You can’t even find the words.
JESSICA: No I can’t because I can’t think of anybody honestly that performs like her. She’s just really really unique. I was going to say a little Johnson Scharpf but Johnson Shcharpf sort of has a little bit of like a gives face a little bit. I love her but a little bit cheerleadery. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just mean that in a snap the head this way. Snap the head that way, you know, turns it on. Aja Monet Sims, I could see her on Broadway. She’s amazing. She’s in a whole different category. She’s just lovely. So hopefully Alabama won’t give her a trashy techno routine. That’s right Alabama. You heard me. I said that. Do not ruin her with a trashy techno routine. I’m expecting great things from her so let’s keep it classy. Kennedy Baker is going to Florida where hopefully she will do the Patterson and just win everything. Please can we just see that some more? That’s all I want. Abigail Milliet, do you remember her from last year?
UNCLE TIM: From last year or from this season?
JESSICA: Was it this season? Oh my gosh. By the way, it’s still 2013.
UNCLE TIM: We were just talking about her last week actually during the podcast.
JESSICA: It’s 2013 still. Yes so we love her. And she’s a glorious beam worker. She’s a little a little shaky. She definitely needs a little more consistency but she’s going to Auburn and the Auburn coach is the guy who used to be at Utah. Utah is known for their super consistency so, except when they get to NCAAs and then they always have a fall. But I think that he could do great things with her, making her more consistent. Hopefully she’ll stick around because oh she’s just glorious. We love her. And then can we just talk about how much we’re loving Maddie Gardiner from Canada at Oregon?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah what do you love about her?
JESSICA: She’s just, she’s kind of like an Abigail Milliet. She’s bringing the elegance and the dance transitioning directly into tumbling effortlessly and without pause, fluidly the way it is supposed to be done. I love it about her. I’m really enjoying watching the videos coming out of Oregon right now. And honestly, that makes me really happy because when she was an elite, you know she was alright but I didn’t really notice her. But now that she doesn’t have to do seven thousand flips in one routine, I can really appreciate her gymnastics. So and this is of course what we love about NCAA.
UNCLE TIM: And to give our listeners an idea of what we’re talking about, she does one of those wolf tuck stand turns that everyone’s doing in elite, but then she finishes it and goes straight into a split on the balance beam and it’s just really fluid and really cool.
JESSICA: Yeah it’s not like one of those where she has to stop and it’s like she might go to the bathroom and then she goes all the way down to the split (laughs). It’s really pretty. It’s so hard to do that and make it look pretty so hats off to her. We’ll be looking forward to seeing more of her. Also The Couch Gymnast has an NCAA master meet calendar. Not only do they have a master meet calendar for NCAA but they have color coded it for the gymternet’s most anticipated meets. So thank you Couch Gymnast for that. We are loving that calendar. Please give us more things like that in the future. We love it.
UNCLE TIM: It’s true. I already told my boyfriend that we can’t do anything on Saturday January 25 so that I can watch Utah vs. UCLA and Friday January 31 so that I can watch Florida vs. Oklahoma.
JESSICA: Yeah these are extremely important, extremely important meets. So what happened over in Europe this weekend?
UNCLE TIM: Well it was Elite Masillia and it was one of those meets with lots of spotlights and stuff. It was like an episode of Make It or Break It basically. In terms of results and all around, Larisa Iordache won and then in second was Andreea Munteanu of Romania and in third was Ekaterina Kramerenko. What did she do Jess besides get a giant wedgie?
JESSICA: Well it wasn’t that bad. Clearly the leotard cannot hold her butt back because her butt was doing some work. The butt of course the jumping muscle in case you didn’t know. So she does an Arabian stuck. Then she goes into a double layout and then at the end of her routine, she sticks a triple full, STICKS a triple full. That’s crazy! And not only that, she dances. I mean, she actually dances. And not only does she actually dance instead of going pose pose pose, she does a really cool dance. Up on our Instagram, I took two little videos of my favorite parts. She does like this cool spinny turn from standing right into a backspin. And I mean who doesn’t love a backspin? It’s like a Mohawk. And then she does this cool thing where she’s laying on her stomach and then she does this jump in the air like I’m arching my back. It’s very cool. This isn’t the kind of thing you describe on radio. It’s like a prone position jump to single stag arch. Hey that was pretty good right?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah.
JESSICA: I’m patting myself on the back right now. This girl is what’s up right now. Crazy hard tumbling performed super well and she dances. And it’s interesting. I can’t say enough good things about her. And honestly, she’s just now a senior and I really think she’s one of those Brits who’s going to be a huge NCAA recruit. I think tons of NCAA teams are going to want her because her legs do not quit. She’s going to be the kind of tumbler that’s going to be NCAA champion on floor for four years in a row. Do you think I’m exaggerating?
UNCLE TIM: I could see it. She definitely already has an NCAA feel to her dance with the whole breakdancing backspin stuff. It was like Flashdance where she does the audition and spins around on her back basically. That’s what it was kind of like. The leotard cut was the same.
JESSICA: It was! It was exactly the same. It was cheek length but not on purpose.
UNCLE TIM: Very 80s
JESSICA: Loved it
UNCLE TIM: The 80s are coming back even in gymnastics. And then also, we have to talk about little miss Larisa Iordache who was in total beast mode and pretty much won everything this weekend. And she decided to do her 6.9 difficulty beam routine again with two back fulls in it. What did you think Jess when you saw that?
JESSICA: I loved it. She had some wobbles, especially on the first full. But I mean that routine is so fun to watch. I even like her dance which is saying a lot because you know how critical I am of dance. I really actually like, like I know people are like oh this is like a Make It or Break It meet but I liked the music they put to her routine. At this meet, not only do they have the spotlight but they put music to each routine. I thought it actually went well with it and it enhanced the routine. I loved it. I mean it was wobbly, there’s going to be a lot of deductions. But for elite, it wasn’t that wobbly. If it was like NCAA, she would’ve gotten like a 5. But for elite, it doesn’t really matter because she did two fulls and they were really pretty. I loved it.
UNCLE TIM: Nice. And so the other thing this past weekend was in Mexico. What happened in Mexico?
JESSICA: Well they had this Gala Gymnastica in Mexico City. I think it’s like Salvador (inaudible.) It’s like (inaudible), all in that vein. If you love this kind of stuff, then you’ll enjoy this. If you can’t stand those shows or listen to any of that in the morning radio, then you’re not going to be about it. It’s not my cup of tea. But I love to see that gymnastics is thriving somewhere in the world even if it’s not for me. Was that so diplomatic? I’m really proud of myself right now.
UNCLE TIM: I know. Nobody’s going to be writing us hate mail this week.
JESSICA: What I did enjoy about it was Ponor and her hottie Puerto Rican boyfriend Tommy Ramos. They did like a little duet together. It didn’t suck. I actually watched the whole thing. And not only did it not suck, but I loved Ponor’s leo which is also saying a lot because she has a lot of leo problems. I really really liked it. And then he did rings. And we know he’s really good from watching him at the Pro Gymnastics Challenge. And he did this thing where he like flipped the rings over like they used to do back in the day, where you like swing and then flip the rings so they cross. He did that a couple of times and then he did an iron cross but then he slowly spun around in the iron cross. I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. I’m sure maybe boys do this just to play around in the gym when they do iron crosses but I’ve never seen it before and it totally added something new and I really enjoyed it. I also liked it when Vasiliki Millousi got up on rings and did a split through the rings and stuff like that. They tried to do this circus thing. That part was not good. But like I said, not my cup of tea.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah when I was watching Catalina and Tommy, you know how the bride and groom usually dance together at their wedding reception, yeah that’s what I felt like I was watching but the gymnastics version. Yeah we’ll see if they get married. And I also thought he was going to pommel the horse while Catalina was on the beam but no he got his grips on. But yeah he’s good on rings and he did some cool party tricks and stuff so that was awesome.
JESSICA: Party tricks, exactly. That’s what I think we need more of at these things.
UNCLE TIM: I also wanted to know what was going on in Mexico that they’re hosting all these meets. We have the Mexican Open, we have this gala, we had another thing a couple of weeks ago. Yeah where are they getting all this money to bring in all these gymnasts?
JESSICA: I also wonder if it has something to do with, you know how all Europeans go to Spain, yes all of them. I’m not stereotyping. They all go to Spain in the winter and they all go to Florida? I wonder if there’s like an exodus to Mexico as well and it’s something to do with tourist dollars or a tourist company or bank sponsoring this? I don’t know. You know I have a conspiracy theory for everything. But yeah it’s very interesting that there are all of these. And then of course, I think that Paul Ziert is behind all of this, that somehow he pulls the string on all gymnastics related gala things too. So we must talk to him about this.
JESSICA: Today’s interview with Olympic medalist and world champion Terin Humphrey is brought to you by TumblTrak. Later today, we’re going to talk about pits and how disgusting they are. And one of the things I always kind of feel guilty about is when I’m using the pit and I’m ready to kind of transition my skill onto a harder surface, I’ll put an 8 incher into the pit. I always kind of feel guilty about that because you know, over time, the 8 incher can get cracked. The foam can get cracked. And I’m so bad about using a really good 8 incher for that. But I have discovered that I never have to feel guilty again because TumblTrak has a solution for this: the pit pillow. The pit pillow is designed to be used as a topping mat for a loose foam pit. The pit pillow can also be used as a throw mat for trampoline, nice. The pit pillow has Velcro on all sides so that several can be connected or stacked vertically, which is awesome so that you don’t have to be the one that’s chasing down the mat and pulling it back on top of the other mat. You can just Velcro them together. It also has handles which is fabulous because you know, all mats should have handles. And hygiene bonus. It has a denim cover that can be unzipped and washed in the washing machine. I love that part. So check out the pit pillow and never feel guilty about putting an 8 incher in the pit again. You can check out the pit pillow at tumbltrak.com. That’s TumblTrak. TumblTrak. Do it again.
JESSICA: At the age of nine, Terin Humphrey’s family moved from their small town in Missouri to allow their daughter to train at Great American Gymnastics Express, known as GAGE. The moved paid off. The 2004 Olympic double silver medalist was one of the breakout stars of the Athens Olympic Games, delivering unshakeable performances for the American team on uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise where she is known for her wonderful presentation and let’s be honest, heavy makeup well before the era of Aliya Mustafina. Post Olympics, Humphrey continued her career in NCAA, becoming one of the most consistent performers for the Alabama Crimson Tide and earning two titles on uneven bars. Today the former law and justice major is a police officer but has remained involved in gymnastics as the athlete representative for Team USA. Officer Humphrey is a member of the athlete selection committee, choosing the teams to go to World Championships and the last Olympics. The selection committee is also comprised of Steve Rybacki Director of Elite Programs and of course Martha Karolyi National Team Coordinator.
BLYTHE: When you first went to GAGE, what were your impressions of Al Fong?
TERIN: I was a little scared of Al. I was used to female coaches so I didn’t know kind of how to handle a male coach. I started a lot of privates with Armine and she kind of helped work into it. And basically they gave me a training partner my age and I ended up loving it and so I stayed there and it was the best decision.
BLYTHE: Can you talk a little bit about Al and Armine as coaches? We see them at the USA Gymnastics meets of course. And it seems like they have two different styles but they work together very well. They’re very much in harmony with each other. Is that your experience also?
TERIN: Oh yes definitely. They are totally different. Armine is more artistic and dancing and obviously it shows in every GAGE routine that is out there. Al is more of a, I don’t want to say go-getter but that’s exactly how it is. He’s just kind of like okay do this skill and we’ll put it together and then we’ll see what we come up with. So yeah, they’re definitely different but they mesh well together.
BLYTHE: One thing that I’m sure kind of comes up when you talk about the history at GAGE is what happened to Al during the 80s. It has given a lot of people pause but definitely also, he’s a really incredible technician and a great coach. When your family became aware of that history and you were still probably quite young, did it give you pause at all?
TERIN: You know, I’ve never heard my family talk about that. My personal experience, I don’t believe that Al had anything to do with that. I know that a lot of people blame him for what happened, but I don’t think he had anything to do with that. It was more her personal life. Obviously, I didn’t know her personally but with my experience with Al and Armine, I don’t believe he had anything to do with it.
BLYTHE: Okay. And when did it kind of occur to you that being an elite and being an international elite was a serious possibility?
TERIN: I was probably 12 when I decided to be really serious with it. When I was nine, obviously I wasn’t thinking about being serious with the sport. But Al decided if I trained more and all that, he said that it was a possibility to go to the Olympics and that’s kind of when I got really serious.
BLYTHE: I see. And did your family (inaudible) sort of pushing you toward that? Obviously parents have to make some sacrifices the way that yours did. Was there ever any point where I guess either party wanted to back down? Or maybe your parents saying hey you could really do something here and you were a little bit engaged in that or was it just always that everybody felt that they were on the same page? Being an elite, it’s hard for both the parents and the athlete.
TERIN: It’s definitely hard as an elite gymnast. I think every gymnast goes through that period where they want to just quit. I know myself personally, had a couple of those. And basically, my parents never pushed me to the point where if I didn’t want to do it anymore, they wouldn’t make me. My dad had a couple of talks with me. He said when he was in college, he wanted to do this but he ended up not doing it. Basically, he didn’t want me to have the same regrets that he did. So that’s kind of what kept me going. I felt like I was good enough to go to the Olympics and I was so close and I didn’t want to destroy the years of training that I went through.
BLYTHE: I see. You were part of the first generation that was really doing the training camps at the Ranch
BLYTHE: that generation between 2000 and 2004. When did you first start attending camps?
TERIN: Yeah that was us. Actually it was right when I became an elite gymnast. Right away, you start going to camps and it’s about once a month. Obviously today, the training facility and equipment is a whole lot different from what we trained on. The cabins are different. But you know, ultimately it’s made USA Gymnastics a contender every year, a top contender every year at the Olympics. So I don’t regret anything.
BLYTHE: How was it different? Was the equipment older at that time?
TERIN: Yeah I would say it was a lot smaller too. Now they have a couple of gyms in there and they have trampolines. Al is big on trampoline training and TumblTraks and stuff like that. They didn’t have that when we were there. So that was a big difference. And obviously a pit where the bars and stuff like that were.
BLYTHE: I see. And I’ve got to ask. What did you think of Martha when you first met her?
TERIN: Well when I first trained at the training camp, Martha was a very scary lady. You did want to impress her, every turn you want to impress her. Every skill that you do. It’s crazy how every gymnast tries to get Martha’s attention. I’ve worked with her the past four years, being the athlete rep for USA Gymnastics and she’s just one amazing lady. She definitely doesn’t take anything from anybody and is a very opinionated lady and I respect her for what she does and the advice she gives all these girls.
BLYTHE: Would you describe yourself as a shy person back then? Did you feel uncomfortable performing in front of people at all?
TERIN: Yeah I think I was very shy at first. I didn’t know how to handle the fame and stuff, trying to compete in front of thousands of people. So I was a little shy. When I competed in college, we competed in front of 15,000 people every meet so that kind of helped my nerves a lot.
BLYTHE: I suppose that even if you start off being shy, you don’t remain shy for long. But when you were younger, how did you get past that?
TERIN: Basically, you just try to block everybody out. You try to just focus on you and yourself. When we trained, our coaches would make everybody in the gym stop and watch our routine just to kind of create that same situation as a meet. It’s not that you’re going to get rid of your nerves, just figure out how to compete with them.
BLYTHE: I see. One thing I’ve always wondered about you. There is a video of you from, I don’t remember if it was from like 2001, 2002 or 2003. I want to say you’re doing the Khorkina II vault, half on front tuck 1.5 off. I saw that and I thought wow! Okay so first could you just gym nerd out a little bit with us. Tell us about learning that vault because there are so few people that compete it even today. It makes us wonder. What else were you doing there that maybe we didn’t see during international competition?
TERIN: I actually competed it at the Parkette Invitational Meet in Pennsylvania. I don’t remember how old I was but front vault was very easy for me. So I think Al just one time was like hey let’s just try a 1.5 just for the heck of it. And I did it and it was easy. So I competed it at Parkettes just because it was kind of not an important meet but something that could help me try to compete it later. I didn’t ever end up competing it in a big competition. But there were a lot of skills, especially on bars that I never ended up competing because bars was my event that I could do anything that Al asked me to do on. I just didn’t have enough time or enough room on the bars to do everything.
BLYTHE: Oh I see. What else were we talking about here? I know our listeners will be curious to know what skills you were working even if you never showed them in competition, like on bars.
TERIN: Oh my gosh. It’s been so long, I’m not even sure I remember everything. I’m going to have to get back to you on that one.
BLYTHE: Fair enough. What was it like when Courtney McCool came to GAGE and all of a sudden GAGE had not just one Olympic hopeful but two Olympic hopefuls? Was it helpful to have someone more or less your own age and level to compete against?
TERIN: Right. Actually, Courtney coming to GAGE was awesome for me, to have a training buddy, to have someone that would push me to be better each day. We were rivals some days. There were some days where we just didn’t get along because we spent 40+ hours a week together. But in the end, Courtney was part of the reason for my success and hers as well just because we pushed each other.
BLYTHE: Okay. And now you were part of the 2003 Worlds team. It must have been quite a rollercoaster experience in Anaheim. The excitement of being on a World team and then injuries. Courtney Kupets’ Achilles, Ashley Postell’s illness, Annia Hatch’s ACL and you guys lost three competitors between podium training and team finals. Can you sort of take us through that experience and tell us what that was like?
TERIN: That was a very stressful meet. I was actually put on the team, the 2003 Worlds and Chellsie Memmel ended up winning Pan Ams so they flew her to compete in my spot and kicked me off. So that in itself wasn’t very fun. But then the injuries happened and I finally got my chance to compete and we ended up winning amidst all the injuries. So that just showed how deep USA’s team was at the time.
BLYTHE: Yeah it really was an incredible reversal. And so when you got to Anaheim, how much before the competition was that?
TERIN: I think we had a training camp before that. So I actually had to end up training on my own in a different gym away from the team. So that was a lot harder experience than what I had to deal with. I was always usually training with the girls. But to train by myself, it was definitely a different experience. I see, from then on, with Athens happening you know less than a year before. Oh excuse me with Anaheim happening less than a year before the 2004 Olympics, what was the process like between that World Championships and becoming world champion with the team and having this really historic moment with the United States and then kind of having to pivot and do a 180 and like not forget that but like the Olympics are the big thing now. How did you manage to stay focused?
TERIN: Yeah usually whoever wins Worlds is more likely to win the Olympics. So when we won the first ever Worlds it was like wow, we’re on top. Martha’s training camps are really paying off. For me, that gave me the motivation. I myself, didn’t want to be kicked off another team. So I went and I worked extra hard. I did extra numbers. I was in the gym longer than anybody. I just wanted to make that situation never happen to me again so I wouldn’t give Martha or anybody else a reason to kick me off the team. So that actually fueled me and I think made me a better athlete and able to train and handle situations a lot better and with an open mind.
BLYTHE: Was it hard knowing that after the Olympic Trials, you know they named Courtney Kupets and Courtney McCool to the team.
BLYTHE: And there was this idea that Carly Patterson would be on the team. She was just kind of indispensable. And so then that leaves just three places left. How did you manage to stay focused through that time, through those few weeks knowing that there’s so much depth and so many girls. What were your thoughts?
TERIN: Yeah it was definitely hard. I was happy for Courtney for making the Olympic team and being a Kansas City native. And Courtney Kupets and Carly Patterson were definitely going to be in the Olympics. Carly had won Worlds the year before. It’s hard to train alongside that but I think I used that as fuel as well. I had been at Al’s gym a lot longer than Courtney and I knew that I belonged there. So like I said, I trained hard. I spent extra hours and did extra numbers in the gym.
BLYTHE: Yeah and there’s kind of two sides to that isn’t it because at the Olympic Games with what happened in team prelims to Courtney. People had been saying here is an all around contender and then you just have a bad day and things don’t go quite as planned and all of a sudden, there’s no all around comp and all those hopes are gone. I imagine that was an incredibly difficult time for her. Did you say anything to her after that performance in team prelims? Was there anything to say?
TERIN: You know, gymnastics is such a brutal sport. You can have one mistake and it just be devastating. Courtney, she was an amazing gymnast. I just think she was a little bit young and didn’t have enough international experience, that it was harder for her to be away from home for a month and away from her family for that long. She was always still there cheering us on. But at that time, you know your dreams are the Olympics and when you don’t do well, there’s pretty much nothing you can say to somebody to make them feel better. So no, I don’t think I did say anything to her, kind of just let her be.
BLYTHE: Yeah and you celebrated your eighteenth birthday at the Olympic Games. Is that correct?
TERIN: I turned eighteen. I don’t know about if I celebrated my eighteenth birthday.
BLYTHE: [LAUGHS] Fair enough. What was that like? Eighteen is a milestone and you’re at the Olympic Games. It just has to be surreal.
TERIN: Every birthday that I had, I competed either the day before or the day after so I never really celebrated my birthday on the day. So I think we competed the day after my birthday. So it was just like a normal day. We went and trained two-a-days. My coach gave me a movie for my birthday and that was about it.
BLYTHE: I see yeah. No respite when you’re going for the Olympic Games I guess.
BLYTHE: And the Athens team was very unique in that not only was there all this stuff going on, you had two veterans. Like real, you know, veterans not to just gymnastics but to life with Annia Hatch and Mohini Bhardwaj. What was that like in terms of sort of the psychological makeup of the team? Was it like having these two, I hate to say older women at 25?
TERIN: Right. They obviously I want to say trained a lot smarter. They did less numbers. They were done with training faster than anybody else. It was pretty awesome to have two older kind of women to kind of help guide us. If we had any questions, they were always there for us. Especially after the Olympics, I didn’t know what to expect when I went to school. I would ask Mohini how her experience was. It was awesome to have her there with us.
BLYTHE: Did Mohini say to you don’t turn professional, go to college?
TERIN: No. They obviously let us make our own decision. It was a struggle for me to know what to do. I didn’t want to continue with gymnastics. I don’t believe that I would have made enough money for a five year school. So a week before I committed to Alabama, I decided that school was the best option for me.
BLYTHE: Ok and so tell us about the process of committing to Alabama for you. I read an interview once in which you said, you know Alabama was really not my first choice. It was like my fifth choice. And yet you enrolled and you ended up there and you had a really stellar career for the Crimson Tide. How did you come to be going to Alabama and not UCLA or Georgia or Florida or you know, one of the other big gymnastics schools?
TERIN: Being from a small town, when you think of Alabama, you think of very hickish. So I was like oh my gosh, this is going to be a huge culture shock. But they flew their private jet down to get me in Green Valley and picked me up and spoiled me. Their locker rooms on campus are absolutely beautiful and amazing. Their education was just off the wall. So ultimately they stole my heart and I decided to go with them.
BLYTHE: How much time did it take? How much time did you get down there during your recruiting trip? Because you were pretty much in full on preparation for the Olympic Games. I don’t really see Al being the sort to be like yeah go take five days. Enjoy yourself.
TERIN: Yeah Al definitely did not like college coaches, for a lack of a better word. He would not let me go on recruiting trips. Basically it was you guys will come to our schedule but we’re not going to yours. So do whatever you have to do. She gets a day and a half off and that’s what you have to work with. So that’s why they very shortly flew a jet down to get me for I think it was a Saturday or something. And I got to go meet the girls and stuff like that. It was a very short trip. But I loved the girls and they were awesome and very welcoming. When I got to school, I was on billboards. I was on magazines. It was just so unreal.
BLYTHE: What was that like? You know, a lot of years of toil and sacrifice and hard work to have a taste of fame and call yourself an Olympian. That must have been very very special.
TERIN: Right. It was bittersweet. I enjoyed it for the short amount of time but I just really wanted to be a normal person. I wanted to go to school. I wanted to have a social life. So I would say that I didn’t take it very well. At school, I rebelled. I was like I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to be normal. I want to go to school. That’s all I want to do. But I mean, anybody so lucky to go to the Olympics and just to have that experience is amazing.
BLYTHE: Do you feel like once you were settled in at Alabama, you got sort of what you wanted? You’d had the fame thing, the Olympic thing, you got the tattoo to show for it. And then everybody just sort of died down for you and you could be like okay. This is okay now. I’m continuing on.
TERIN: Right. Yeah definitely I got the same thing. Just competing in front of 15,000 people and having my face on billboards. It was crazy. It was like your own little city and everyone knew who you were and you couldn’t go anywhere without a picture or anything like that. So that was crazy. At school, they brought tutors in to help us out. So yeah, I definitely had a really good college experience. I didn’t have the best gymnastics experience because of my injuries and stuff like that. But as far as getting an education and my social life, I had an absolute blast.
BLYTHE: Great! So it’s not at all a comedown to go from the Olympics and then to be an NCAA gymnast.
TERIN: Oh no definitely not at all. For me, I enjoyed splitting my training in half. Obviously there’s a whole lot more that you have to deal with. You’re used to training 40 hours a week. So you gain weight and stuff like that. So that’s a lot harder for athletes, especially those training at the elite level. You don’t know how to eat and stuff like that and they end up gaining weight and all that good stuff. But I definitely enjoyed it. If you wanted to train outside of it and some cardio and stuff, you could do that. But other than that, I enjoyed only training 20 hours a week.
BLYTHE: What are Sarah and David like as coaches? How did they differ from Al and Armine?
TERIN: I didn’t get along with my coaches too well in college but I would say the main difference is they’re very personable. They are more into your personal life than Al and Armine are. That would probably be the biggest difference.
BLYTHE: And so was it kind of a relationship like I don’t know. I don’t want to say parent adolescent but in college they are sort of in your life.
TERIN: Yeah I would say it is more like a parent child relationship. In high school, I obviously never got in trouble. I never went out to parties. I never did anything like that because I was so concentrating on gymnastics. And then when I go to school, I’m like oh there’s parties every night. I’ve got to go to them and stuff like that. I know I wasn’t the easiest person to deal with. They tried their very best to guide me along the right way and stuff like that.
BLYTHE: So the NCAA was your rebellion period?
TERIN: [LAUGHS] I would say yes.
BLYTHE: But you know, they did get some very good gymnastics out of you. You are an NCAA titles and Alabama always had great teams during those years and you were a really big part of that. Was it hard to balance the partying and the training? Was it like okay I have an extra 20 hours a week, you know whatever.
TERIN: Yeah you know I actually read an article online. I don’t remember where this came from. But it was like my senior year and I was done. I didn’t compete my senior year. And there was an article that said that they were so disappointed in me for not doing well in gymnastics and not winning more titles and stuff like that. It kind of made me upset. But looking back, I’m an 11 time All American and a two time NCAA champion. That in itself is a great accomplishment. You know, I did go out and party. I did do all that stuff, but in the end, ultimately I had the best time of my life.
BLYTHE: Can you talk about that process of taking retirement your senior year? How hard was that for you to have to convince the coaches to let you do that?
TERIN: Actually they kind of made that decision for me. I walked into the gym thinking I was in a practice and then I had some guy from the media was telling me congratulations. I asked him what for and he was like you retired today. I was like oh well okay. I mean it was hard. I wasn’t used to injuries. Growing up and in high school, I didn’t have that many. I was a very fortunate gymnast. So you know, your senior year is supposed to be something special and you’re supposed to have an awesome time. But that obviously wasn’t the case for me.
BLYTHE: Did you continue with the team as manager, stay involved?
TERIN: No. Sarah wanted me to do that. She wanted me to go in and cheer for the girls but it was a lot harder to watch them compete when I know that I should have been out there too. So I wanted to take a step away from gymnastics and I got a part time job and just went to school and got to be normal.
BLYTHE: Yeah. And so you didn’t try to fight it at all? You didn’t go hey no no I think I could do bars or do beam or do something a little bit that’s not like tumbling?
TERIN: I did. At first I tried. But I had four elbow surgeries and then I had three nerve blocks in my back. So I think I knew that I couldn’t do it anymore. And I sat down with my parents and I told them I was like you know I put so many years into this sport, I just can’t do this anymore. And I want to be able to walk and be normal when I’m 30 years old, so. I hope you can support me not doing this anymore. And they completely agreed. I think it was more harder from the coaches to take than me.
BLYTHE: And after that, how did you end up becoming the athlete rep? Was that something you always wanted to do? Or were you recruited to do it?
TERIN: Yeah I didn’t really know about it. I knew that I was eligible and so they sent me an email that said is this something you would want to do? And I said well sure you know I wouldn’t mind. I’ve taken a lot of years off of gymnastics. I wouldn’t mind being a part of it anymore. I ran against Nastia, so I was kind of like well I’m not [LAUGHS] going to get it. But I ended up being the alternate and she was the main athlete rep. However she decided she was going to train again so she stepped down and I became the athlete rep for the past two years. And usually you can share the responsibilities if one person can’t go to a meet or a meeting then the other person can go. But I was taking this job on all by myself, and I ended up loving it. And today I’m supposed to find out if I get it for the next six years. So I’m excited and nervous today.
BLYTHE: Oh well that’s incredible. Well we hope you get it.
TERIN: Well thank you.
BLYTHE: And frankly you’ve done an incredible job given the results of the US team. And so I’ve go to ask, with the three of you, how does the process work? Do you find that you’re mostly on the same page? Or are there disputes and you have to resolve them somehow?
TERIN: Right. Yeah a lot of people think Martha’s the only one that kind of makes decisions, but it’s not like that at all. Basically we travel to every training camp. I personally go to every training camp that they hold selection at. I go to every meet within the United States for the most part. Then we just kind of look at the girls’ progress throughout the year and we each share opinions. And most of the time it’s the same. However every once in a while there will be a little glitch or something. It typically ends up working out itself. So it’s definitely a combined effort. It’s not just one person.
BLYTHE: Gotcha. And do you have any input once the US team leaves for a meet? And forgive me if this is a question that’s a little close to home but certainly this fall there was this decision that was made not to put Brenna Dowell into the competition in Antwerp in Worlds. And was that a decision that was made on the spot? Were you guys consulted? Or was that just kind of [inaudible].
TERIN: Well basically we saw the team at training camp. And I flew home so I didn’t go to Worlds with them. So I don’t know. I mean Brenna could’ve been inconsistent or whatever. I know Martha does a really good job at watching workouts and stuff like that. So I don’t know what happened at Worlds. But I know that she makes the best decision so I trust her 100%.
BLYTHE: And let’s talk about the code for a second. Do you like this code for the athletes? Is there anything about it that you would like to change if you had the power?
TERIN: If I had the power I would go back to the 10 system. I myself have a hard time understanding this new system. I know it a little better now that I travel and do all that with them. But when it first came out I was completely lost. And I’m like how the heck is the public going to understand this if I don’t even understand that and I’m an Olympic gymnast. So definitely if I had the power I would change it back.
BLYTHE: Here here. Yeah I think a lot of people, a lot of really serious fans and ex gymnasts were kind of in the same boat. You see a 14.3 and you’re like what is that?
BLYTHE: Talk about the process for team selection. Are you pretty cool with how that happens or is there anything else you would change about that?
TERIN: I think the team selection is where it should be. It’s worked so far the past couple of years. So I think we’re doing something right.
BLYTHE: Yeah it’s really hard to complain about the results.
BLYTHE: And you know in the new role that you’ve got, do you talk to the girls about doing college gymnastics? Do you find they come to you and say hey I’m not sure whether I should continue or not and I’ve got this offer from UCLA or Georgia or something like that.
TERIN: Right. Basically I don’t ever say yeah you need to continue or yeah you need to go to college. That is for them to decide. I give them my point on it. And they take the advice how they will.
BLYTHE: So in Athens it was a time when the US stayed outside the athlete village. And I want to say that has changed since. And you know we were just wondering did you think that that was helpful for the team? Or do you wish that it had been done differently and you guys had been able to be in the athlete village with everybody else even if it was a bit of a distraction here and there?
TERIN: I’m not sure about it. The alternates stay outside of the village. I don’t think that’s right. I think they should be able to train alongside us. Because injuries happen very quickly. So yes I believe they should be able to train with the team because they are part of the team and they push the ones that are on the team to do their job or they’ll take their spot.
BLYTHE: Yeah. Ok. And then oh one other question just to sort of going off the grid here, but why did you go into law and criminal justice?
TERIN: I studied criminal justice in college because I thought it was an easy route [LAUGHS]. And I ended up actually loving it. And my brother, he’s a police officer and he kind of got me into law enforcement. And I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
BLYTHE: So in the end it wasn’t an easy route? Or was it still an easy route?
TERIN: You know it actually wasn’t that bad. When I joined the police academy I was nervous. I’m a five foot 100 pound female. And you go in and there’s a room full of men that are six foot whatever. So I was a little nervous. But ultimately I ended up beating all them physically in all the PT testing. So it was fun.
BLYTHE: [LAUGHS] I imagine they respect you even if you are like 5’2 or whatever and 100 pounds.
TERIN: Yeah they definitely did after that.
BLYTHE: Yeah you know if you can do more pushups than they can, I imagine…
TERIN: I don’t know if I can say this on the radio, but you go through like a hell day. And instructors try to get you to quit. They try to get you throw up. They try to get you to walk out. I think at the end, I was the only one standing and all the boys were throwing up and keeled over. It was crazy.
BLYTHE: And what do you do in your work? Day to day.
TERIN: Day to day, I’m a patrol officer which means I’m on the streets. Basically we do traffic or patrol the streets until you get a call. And when you get a call you respond to it. We do all sorts of stuff. We do suicides and-
BLYTHE: What’s the scariest thing you’ve had to do?
TERIN: For me, building searches are very scary. I hate going into buildings not knowing who’s in there or what’s in there. My brother’s a SWAT so he loves that kind of stuff. But it’s very dangerous. People have weapons in their house and don’t like intruders. So for me that’s the scariest part of being a police officer.
BLYTHE: Ok so that exhausts the questions that I’ve got for you. But I know that Jess has a couple of listener questions, including one about the GAGE leotards. Is that right Jess?
JESSICA: Yes. Oh my god I’ve been dying to ask you this forever.
TERIN: You said GAGE leotards?
JESSICA: Yes that’s right
BLYTHE: A question about the GAGE leotards
JESSICA: Ok so honest answer here. You know you wore these leotards. They’re I’m sure Armine, she’s brilliant because if you want someone to notice your gymnasts, she puts them in these leotards.
JESSICA: And you know so everyone will talk about them whether the gymnastics was good or not.
TERIN: Right [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: But you know the gymnastics is always beautiful. But I have to wonder if you always loved them, if there’s any time when you were like oh hell no I am not wearing this.
TERIN: Well I’m a very honest person, but I would say it’s either hit or miss with Armine’s leotards. There were some I just absolutely loved. Like the swirly multi colored one. But then we had this one spider looking one and it was the worst leotard I have ever seen. And she just loved it. So we had to wear it. But [LAUGHS] yeah it was hit or miss with Armine’s leotards. But she’s awesome so I can’t question her.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Oh that was very honest. Yeah I think we called that in the gymternet that’s the dominatrix leotard. I think that year. The one with the leathery with the criss crosses. I mean only GAGE could get away with that.
JESSICA: So I have been dying to know- so I have two questions before we get to the listener questions. But one is that in your TV interview that is so fabulous, we will post this so everybody can watch if they haven’t yet, you- oh my gosh I loved it. So you said that you only had one major disagreement amongst the selection committee where you threw your papers up in the air and were like no! So of course everyone’s like who was she talking about. Are you allowed to tell us?
TERIN: Basically it was probably about Alicia Sacramone. I know a lot of people wanted her to be on the team. And she very well could’ve been on the team. And we still I believe we still would’ve been an amazing team that year. But there were a few factors why we didn’t choose her in that year. So that’s what it was about.
JESSICA: A ha. So was this for the Olympics?
JESSICA: Gotcha. Yeah. I don’t know that decision just must have been I mean ugh, so heart wrenching. Because we could’ve had two teams and still won.
JESSICA: We could’ve gone gold and silver. Yeah.
TERIN: Exactly yes, yes. And it was hard. This position is really hard for me because I used to train with Chellsie Memmel and Alicia Sacramone and all them. So it was definitely a hard job.
JESSICA: And speaking of that, so someone wanted to know, Emma asked if what it was like for you as a member of the selection committee when Chellsie wasn’t allowed to petition that year. So this last year at Classics when she had a bad meet then wanted to petition. How did you feel about that whole scenario and do you feel like it played out like it should’ve?
TERIN: Right. I 100% support Martha and Steve. It was hard for me because I knew how hard Chellsie trained. I knew she was an awesome competitor and if she needed some more time she would’ve been up there. But the same time we all have to follow the same rules. So yeah I believe it was the right decision.
JESSICA: And then Nick asked he wants to know what the hardest skill for you was to master.
TERIN: Probably a shaposh on bars. A toe to high bar. I had really sweaty feet, so [LAUGHS] I hated this skill and Al always made me do it and I hated it. So I always wore socks then when I went to meets I had to take my socks off. That was the hardest skill with sweaty feet.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I never thought about sweaty feet.
JESSICA: And that being- I always think about beam with sweaty feet. But that totally makes sense. And you serious were like a chalked up hardcore for bars too.
TERIN: Oh yeah. I since have had sweat surgery. So I’ve had surgery for two years where they go and cut your glands. So now my hands and my armpits don’t sweat.
JESSICA: Wow. So why did you decide to get that? So criminals wouldn’t think that you were intimidated by them?
TERIN: Well actually it was the main decision was I was at the range and it was 100 degrees and my weapon kept slipping. And I was like this is a dangerous deal. I need to just bite the bullet and have surgery.
JESSICA: Katie wants to know, this question everyone wants to know this. Ok she says what did GAGE do to your legs and feet as children that meant they were glued together and your toes inanely pointed and you had the most beautiful lines on bars.
JESSICA: Did they tie your legs together? Did they use glue?
TERIN: You know I really appreciate that because I have the most knobby knees out there. So every day after practice, Al would come and sit on my knees to try to help them get straighter. And we would use the ball every day and we do [inaudible] every day just to work on our toe point. I used to be really sloppy on bars and then when I saw myself on video I was like that is so ugly. I need to start [LAUGHS] squeezing my feet together. So basically a lot of it was video. Video and just working on your weaknesses. And mine were definitely my knobby knees.
JESSICA: And then Shooting Stars Gymnastics wants to know if you have any regrets.
TERIN: I have no regrets. I worked hard in high school. My family did sacrifices. I had sacrifices. And I wouldn’t change anything. I ended up training as much as I could, I worked as hard as I could, and the end result was what I wanted. I don’t even have regrets in college when I didn’t do the best that I could do. I’ve had an amazing life, and I don’t have any regrets.
JESSICA: Love hearing that. John asks if you let me see, so he kind if wants to know if you have any power in the way NBC shows Martha as the one with all the power and sort of ignores the committee. Do you have any influence on what NBC shows?
TERIN: No. NBC is a different contract than USA Gymnastics. If it were up to Martha she wouldn’t even be shown on TV.
JESSICA: Oh interesting. So she doesn’t like it when they pan over to her?
TERIN: Right. When we go on trips, it’s basically us three. And we have a hard time when other people come and try to talk to us. We’re kind of like no we want to talk amongst ourselves. We don’t want any other outside influences. So especially the media. Martha, if it were up to her, she would not be shown.
JESSICA: Interesting. And another question was [LAUGHS] is it harder arresting bad guys or winning an argument with Martha?
TERIN: [LAUGHS] Oh gosh. Well you know being a police officer I don’t have too many problems. The only people that try to I want to say challenge me are the females. Females think that they can challenge me more than the men. But Martha’s a strong lady and for the most part so far we’ve done a good job working together.
JESSICA: And then I kind of I just want to know speaking of women challenging you on the streets, have you ever used an actual gymnastics move at work? Have you rolled away from a bullet or done a front flip over a car to chase after someone?
TERIN: [LAUGHS] No but I should. I should definitely try that one of these times [LAUGHS].
TERIN: You know I must be getting old though because we had a foot chase yesterday, and a young guy I ran straight after him. And I was like you know what, I’m going to get the information from all these people. I’ll catch you later.
JESSICA: Ok so Luke wanted to know what would people be most surprised to know about working with Martha. Like is she a math whiz? Is she a hard partier? And what have you learned from her about putting together a team?
TERIN: I’m trying to think. I don’t know what they would be most surprised about because Martha’s a pretty open person. She says what’s on her mind. And that is her best quality. And what I’ve learned most about her is speak your mind. Don’t be afraid to- your opinions matter so don’t be afraid to talk about them. And that’s one of the things why me and Martha get along so well is I actually kind of speak up. Everybody else around her kind of agrees with her and doesn’t give her another side. So me being there, I can kind of give her my point of view from the athlete. So I’m not sure if there’s anything you would be surprised about. I’m going to Mexico with her next week so I might be able to tell you more then.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Yes please get back to us. Ok one more, so speaking of speaking up and your opinion matters, one thing that’s really interesting about Al Fong is he’s really outspoken. Like the Parkettes’ coaches. He has his blog and he’s always said if he feels that something’s unfair, he’s always said exactly what he thinks. Do you, as a gymnast, now that you’ve been on both sides, on the selection committee and as a gymnast, did you ever feel like his outspokenness was a detriment to you and how you might place on a team? Or did you always feel like it was helpful to have somebody in your corner fighting for you and saying exactly what they thought?
TERIN: Yeah. I mean that definitely- one great quality that Al and Armine have, they will fight for their gymnasts whether it be right, wrong. They will be by your side. As far as being on this side of it, I know that Martha, Steve, and myself are out for the team. We understand and we respect Al’s opinions as well as everybody else’s coaches and their opinions. But ultimately this is for the team and the team’s best interest. So I definitely respect Al and Armine more than anybody because they do speak their mind and fight for their athletes. But at the same time, right now we’re for the team. If that makes any sense.
JESSICA: Yep that totally makes sense. So the last question is something I feel people have always wondered about you. And I think it’s just because you have one of those beautiful multi ethnic looking faces like Jessica Alba or someone’s always like oh what is she and they’re always claiming her for their tribe. Oh she’s Jewish and Mexican, she’s Irish and Native American. Everyone’s- so this question came in from Stacey Ervin who’s a US National team member and a national champion from the University of Michigan. He’s been on the show before. And he would like to know if you are also a halfrican like him.
TERIN: [LAUGHS] That’s awesome. Yeah I actually got to meet Stacey as Championships this past August. So that was very cool to meet and he did awesome. I am actually a Native American so I have Cherokee Indian in me.
JESSICA: Oh how cool. Ok. That will put an end to the endless debates on the gymternet about that.
TERIN: Yeah no I’ve heard everything. [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: So this is been so fun talking to you. Thank you so much for your answers and your candidness. This is I think people are really going to appreciate how much they got to know kind of about the process and what it’s been for you to be on all the different sides of gymnastics from Olympics to NCAA to selecting the team. This has been great.
TERIN: Right well thank you for having me.
BLYTHE: Thank you for your honesty.
TERIN: [LAUGHS] I’m a very honest person.
JESSICA: Yes! We love that.
ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. Elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: Visit elitesportzband.com, that’s sportz with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.
JESSICA: It’s time for gymternet news. In the happy awesome category of news, I hope that you guys follow the Bat Kid San Francisco story. And again not only was the Bat Kid story amazing, but San Francisco proves to be the greatest city in the world. And as I said on Twitter, it will forever be Gotham City and New York can suck it. So yes. Oh New Yorkers yes I hope that burned. I hope you guys try to get the title back because San Francisco just stole it away from you along with all of our hearts. The gymnastics version of that story happened a couple weeks ago. And we posted it on our Facebook page. And you know the Bat Kid thing was a Make a Wish Foundation put this on. He wanted to be Batman for the day. The gymnastics version is there’s this girl in Michigan and her name is Faith. And she has this incurable rare stomach and bowel disorder which means she had to have part of her colon removed. So she has a coloscopy bag which is no fun at all. And she made friends with this older gymnast who also coaches. And through their friendship the coach found out this it was Faith’s dream to be a competitive gymnast. To compete in one meet. So Gym America in Ann Arbor put on this special little exhibition meet just for her and she did a routine with her teenage coach. And it is just the cutest most adorable gleeful happy thing you will ever see. You’ve got to watch the video. We will put it up. It’s so heartwarming. If it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you may have to look into Grinch disorder. You might have it. So check out this video. It’s just, it was just so beautiful. I loved it. It made me so happy. So. In now moving on from the happy awesome gymnastics news to angry letters to the FIG women’s technical committee. [LAUGHS] Uncle Tim, you have been doing something amazing, which I think has never ever been done before in the history of gymnastics. And maybe in the 60s when people wrote those long history books but there wasn’t enough history to really get into this. So can you just tell people a little bit about what you’ve been doing on your site? Because it’s so unprecedented and amazing and takes so much work. And then about your letter.
UNCLE TIM: Sure. So what I’ve been doing is going code by code. I have almost every copy of the code ever written, and I go code by code and look at how the FIG on the men’s side and the women’s side have defined artistry. And then I look at routines and look at how the code manifested itself in those routines. So that’s what I’ve been doing. This past week though, the All Around posted this long post about judge training at World Championships and what they learned about artistry there. And I was a little peeved and partly because I’m so sick of the artistry conversation. And I kind of let out all my frustration in that long letter. And why I’m sick of artistry for two primary reasons. First, artistry is a question of personal taste. And there’s no such thing as universal taste, as much as people want to say that this is universally good taste, this is universally bad taste, no. So when people say oh this routine is so artistic, blah blah blah blah blah, what they’re really saying is this routine is artistic according to my expectations and my sense of how a floor routine should be done. So that’s one reason. The other reason is that artistry across all disciplines, whether it be ballet or art, proper sculpture painting, what have you, is many times about breaking or bending rules. And so it’s not necessarily about adhering to the rules. So I think it’s kind of silly to write all these rules about what is artistry. So what I did was I looked at some of the routines that the women’s technical committee liked, and I pointed out how those routines broke the rules according to the code of points that was in effect at that time when the routine was performed. So that’s in a nutshell what I was writing about.
JESSICA: And when you say that it’s not universal, it’s not universal except O’Beirne rules right? Everyone agrees with O’Beirne rules.
UNCLE TIM: No.
JESSICA: O’Beirne rules are perfect. Yes. Yes. They’re the best. Everyone loves them.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] No
JESSICA: [sneezes] Oh that was such a bad lie it made me sneeze.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Breaking rules. See this is where mohawks come in. Someone’s going to seriously there needs to be a drinking game for every time I say mohawk on an episode. I really need to stop that. I’m getting [inaudible]. But really it has to happen. [LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: You’re such a child of the 80s.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I know. I tried to dress up as Mr. T like five times when I was a kid for Halloween. [LAUGHS] Just never worked. I just looked like some sort of weird indian. I just love Mr. T. Ok. Let’s talk about video news. Ok. A incredible video emerged today. And we’re not sure where it came from. But we’re pretty sure it’s definitely Simone and we’re pretty sure she’s definitely doing, I mean she is doing, whoever it is which it looks like Simone in her gym doing a double double off beam. That’s right. A double double. Has anyone done that before? It’s been done right?
UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. I don’t think it’s ever been competed and I don’t think it’s in the code of points.
JESSICA: I can’t think of anyone that’s, no. And it looks of course as usual super easy for her.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Of course. I think Aimee mentioned that in her interview with us that you can say to Simone oh you should try a double double off beam because you know she’d be able to do it. But it’s not until Simone actually gets it into her head that she’s able to do it that she’ll just do it. And once she has it in her mind, she’ll do it. And yeah. What I mean I can’t even imagine doing a full twisting double back let alone a double double.
JESSICA: You know because Simone is like this, I think we should just throw some stuff out there on Twitter and just put it in her mind. Like oh I think you could do a quad twist- no what could she do. Has it like oh remember Ponor was trying a 1.5 on beam. I bet Simone could totally do that.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah
JESSICA: Round off 1.5. I bet that would be so easy for her. Or a double. I bet should could do a double. I say we take to Twitter and make suggestions.
JESSICA: I don’t know if Aimee’s going to like this idea. [LAUGHS] She’s going to be like stop that. But wow. I just love watching this. I love this is put out there for the world to see. It doesn’t have to be a big secret. We can all enjoy her gymnastics even if she never gets to compete this. It just makes me happy. There’s another video in the news which is Aly Raisman training a bit. We don’t get to see very much. Just a little bit of her warming up and we got to see that she doesn’t have a lot of back flexibility which makes me feel good. Because I feel like my bridge is a tiny bit better than her’s. Maybe one day out of the week. So I felt really good about that. Like I could learn anything on floor after seeing her back flexibility [LAUGHS]. How’s your back flexibility? Has it held up?
UNCLE TIM: It’s not too bad. Yeah.
JESSICA: Is it better than Aly Raisman’s?
UNCLE TIM: Probably, yeah.
JESSICA: I always feel better when I see an elite gymnast who has no wrist flexibility or no back flexibility or something and I’m like see, anything’s possible. You just have to put your mind to it. Or maybe you’re such a good tumbler that you don’t need any back flexibility. And then we have a video of Jordyn training a beautiful hindorff. What did you think of it compared to her tkachev?
UNCLE TIM: I was like yes, please replace your tkachev immediately. I believe it was one Miss Spanny Tampson who compared her tkachev to a cat scratching its butt on the floor. And so this was like 5000x better.
JESSICA: So then in really insane crazy NBC commentator news, Al Trautwig totally lost it. I can’t even believe this is a real story. Like I thought this was an Onion story when I first read it. I was totally shocked. Uncle Tim can you give us the basic lowdown on this?
UNCLE TIM: So yes. Mr. Trautwig, whom Spanny met at the P&G Championships, had a little spelling blunder on Twitter. He spelled somebody’s last name “Boron” instead of “Biron.” And he spell checked himself. And somebody responded “Thought it was an autobiographical tweet and he meant moron.” Which prompted Mr. Trautwig to call the man at home. However the man no longer lives at the number. But instead his mother answered.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I can’t believe this.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah so he spoke to the heckler’s mother. And then the heckler tweeted at Al saying “Did you really just call my elderly parents at midnight because you were upset with my tweet? Do you call all your fans?” And Al responded “Really? Aren’t you old enough to know better?” [LAUGHS] And then the heckler said “I’m flattered that you respect my opinion to want to shoot the breeze about it. Hey hockey world, my opinion matters.” Yeah so it goes on from there. But I can’t believe that Al called this man’s mother at midnight.
JESSICA: I mean I just feel like are you kidding me? Like gymnastics fans [LAUGHS] never get this kind of attention. All you had to do this whole time was call him a moron and he would call your house? If everyone had just been much meaner we could’ve had these conversations about gymnastics much sooner. I could not believe this. I really am still expecting this to be some kind of grand hoax. But anyway there you go you guys. Like, you might if you make Trautwig mad enough he might call your house. [LAUGHS] Ok. So. Now we go to super disturbing medical news. There is a documentary coming out on HBO on November 25 called Toxic Hot Seat. So this documentary is about flame retardants that can be put into foam as one of the things flame retardants are in. So it could be in your pillows, if you have a foam bed topper, if you have furniture that has foam in it, and also in pit foam. And of course we all know how gross pit foam is. So there is a woman named Courtney Kerrigan, a postdoctoral researcher at the Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center at Dartmouth University. And she did a small study, so this is the thing. I don’t think this study is in my expert opinion statistically significant. Because it was a very small sample size. But she just published her study this week. And in the study she found that 4-6.5x more flame retardants in the blood of 11 collegiate gymnasts than in the US general population. So the problem with these flame retardants is that they are carcinogenic. That is really disturbing that these collegiate gymnasts, and again it’s a small sample size that she had, but that they have such a high level of these carcinogens in their blood. So this documentary, again it’s going to be on HBO on November 25, so you can check it out, the new study we’ll have a link to that. And Courtney Kerrigan who used to be a gymnast published the study. She has founded a little group, an association called Gymnastcollaborative.org. And we’ll link to that so you guys can check it out. But this might be this is definitely something I think we should keep our eye on and be worried about. I know there’s some gyms especially in Europe starting to put covers on the foam so there’s less of that foam dust in the air. So less of it gets in your lungs. And of course pit boogers on your clothes. But this is definitely something to be aware of and a little concerned about going forward. So Gymnastcollaborative.org. And again the documentary premieres on November 25 on HBO. In happier news, Gymnastike is going to premier the Beyond the Routine with Laurie Baby Shakira Hernandez. Rejoice! [SOUND BYTE]. What were the results of our gym nerd poll this week?
UNCLE TIM: So to quickly go over the results. On the women’s side, the favorite heading into the Mexican Open is Peyton Ernst. 87% of those people who responded to the poll thought she would win. 5% said Roxana Popa. 4% said Jade Barbosa of Brazil. And then on the men’s side, Koji Uematsu was the clear leader. He had 41% of the votes. 23% of the vote went to Josh Dixon. And 13% of the vote went to Nikita Ignatyev of Russia. As far as Stuttgart goes, it was a very close race between Larisa Iordache and Elizabeth Price for a long time until everyone saw Larisa Iordache in total beast mode this weekend. And then the distance kind of got a little bit bigger between the two. And so Larisa is the clear favorite with 56% of the vote. And Elizabeth Price was decently close second with 39% of the vote. On the men’s side, it’s all about Fabian Hambiceps. 67%.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] That needs to go on one of our tshirts. Hambiceps.
UNCLE TIM: Yep. So 67% of the people polled thought he would win. 10% went to Orozco and 10% went to the very faithful Oleg fans out there. Oleg Vernieaev. I kind of wish we could go back in time and see what gymnastics fans thought going into something like 1992 in Barcelona or what gymnastics fans thought going into the 96 Olympics. So I like that we have stats on this.
JESSICA: Data. We love data. Did you vote? Did you vote in the poll?
UNCLE TIM: No I didn’t. I did not. But the last question was have you had a leotard related injury. A question that you posed to Evan and me last week. And overwhelming majority said no. But 20 people said yes. So if you have had a leotard related injury, please let us know the story because I want to know how this happens. Jess I feel like you’ve had to have one in your-
JESSICA: Me? Why would I? Why do you think I would have one [LAUGHS]
UNCLE TIM: I don’t know
JESSICA: This is the kind of stuff I have. I have had a leotard related injury. We need a write in section. I can’t wait to hear the other stories because I wonder if they’re like mine. So my very first gymnastics meet ever, I never even thought about competing in gymnastics. But I started when I moved to California, started on this team, and I was just so, they just put me on the team right away. And I was the kid who would swing off the bar and land on flat back, I would make like [LAUGHS] this won’t surprise you, I would make like really loud sound effect noises [LAUGHS] and grunt really loud when I landed. And then I was like why isn’t anyone else doing this. Oh we’re supposed to be really serious and hold this position. Oh ok. So you can see I was a little green. I had never even seen a gymnastics meet and I’m on this team. So I have my first meet and I mean I thought this leotard was the most glorious thing even. I felt so proud to wear it. I was just I mean it was just like the proudest moment of my whole life. We went right from the meet to a friend’s house. And then I didn’t take my leotard off. I wore it all the rest of the day. I slept over night at my friend’s house in it. And I wore it all the next day. [LAUGHS] And I woke up the next morning and I was like my whole chest was in like horrible pain. I was like oh what is that. And like the leotard hide piping across the chest. And when I went I finally got home so this is like I don’t know like 24 hours of wearing the same leotard, which I was like 8 or something you know. I got home like peeled it off to get in the shower and I had it was like the piping had actually burrowed into my skin. It was like I had track marks. Like tiny piping tractor had gone across and just taken the skin away. It was like I slid on asphalt on that piping. I think I had marks there the whole rest of the week. It was so painful. So yeah. I might’ve worn the leo too long. I mean I learned my lesson after that. I took my leotards off immediately after the meets after that happened. But I was just so excited. So it was kind of gross but I was really excited. Yeah. I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s happened to. So who does our listener shout out of the week go to this week?
UNCLE TIM: So rather than naming an international listener, I want to do something a little different and I want to nominate a gym nerd of the week this week. And I love it when our followers take our questions really seriously on social media. So last week we talked about leotard designs for the men and how they have to have cooler ones. And Andrew Novialdi made this entire swatch of men’s leotards that he liked and didn’t like. And when I saw that I was like oh my god, you just gym nerded to a new level and I love you. So yes he is our shout out of the week. And I have to give an honorable mention to Elizabeth Grimsley. She write for Georgia’s school newspaper about gymnastics, and she has been making practice gym videos of Georgia. And you know what she did? She put the names of the gymnasts on the screen, the video.
JESSICA: Thank you. Hello, professional professional in our midst. Thank you thank you thank you.
UNCLE TIM: Yes
JESSICA: That is how it’s done people. That is how it’s done. Please take note.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah. She totally knows what gymnastics fans want, and she’s making it easier for people who aren’t die hard Georgia fans to follow along. So I, Uncle Tim, salute you as well Ms. Grimsley.
JESSICA: Oh and Andrew Novaldi’s stuff, it’s annotated. His list of the gymnasts and why he likes what. Which we have some listeners who like to send us annotated notes, which are hilarious and fantastic. So hats off to you. If you love this podcast and you can’t get enough of it, you should support the show. You can shop in our Amazon store. A little portion of what you buy will go back to supporting the show. Recommend us to a friend. You can go to the gym and be like oh my god let’s listen to this podcast during warm up because it’s so funny. We love it, we get gymnastics news which inspires us to do conditioning. I bet it would make conditioning go by so much faster if you listen to this in the gym. You can rate us, review us on iTunes. And we also have a donate button because you guys wanted to know how you could directly support the show. So if you would like to, you can donate to us. We read all of your emails. We listen to all of your voicemails. And you can leave us an email by emailing email@example.com. You can call us and leave a voicemail at 415-800-3191 or you can call our voicemail on Skype with username Gymcastic Podcast. And you can download the Stitcher app and it works on all devices and it is fabulous and has a car mode and I like it a lot because you don’t need to use up space on your mobile device in order to use it and listen wherever you are. So thank you all so much for supporting the show. We have a super super exciting guest. I can’t even say. It’s so exciting that I can’t even tell you who we have on next week because it’s that awesome. It’s top secret. It’s classified. I can’t even. The NSA are probably spying on me right now because I even mentioned this. So until next week, where we’ll bring you something- or maybe even sooner. Maybe Friday. I don’t know I’ll have to see. Very soon. Special Thanksgiving awesomeness for your travels or to listen with the whole family after a nice meal [LAUGHS]. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics.
BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner
UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: See you soon