TIM DAGGETT: GymCastic is fantastic!
ANNA LI: GymCastic is fantastic!
LOUIS SMITH: GymCastic is fantastic!
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JESSICA: Welcome to GymCastic episode 7. I am Jessica O’Beirne from Masters-Gymnastics.com. And I’m joined by:
BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner
SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile
UNCLE TIM: Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
DVORA: Dvora Meyers from Unorthodox Gymnastics
JESSICA: We are bringing you an excellent interview with Paul Ruggeri today and Paul Ruggeri is definitely a character, he has a lot to say and we were very entertained during this interview and he’s a really good sport I have to say. We had a lot of fun interviewing him. I want to remind you guys we are now on Stitcher you can download the app or see if you have it in your car and tell us how you like it. We’re on iTunes. We are going to talk a little today about what’s new in the news, we have a lot of listener feedback to discuss, and then we’re going to talk about Halloween costume ideas for our costume coming up. So with that I’m going to send it over to Blythe to talk about the news.
BLYTHE: What’s going on in the news this week: the Northern European Championships took place in Glasgow last weekend and they were won by Helge Vammen of Denmark and Ida Gustafsson of Sweden who also won the all-around at the 2011 Northern European Championships. It’s a smaller competition, obviously only open to Northern European countries, but it is annual and it is very big. What struck me about this meet mostly was how the young Northern European generation is coming up, particularly Emma Larsson from Sweden, who was third in the all-around, and several of the girls from Wales including young Angel Romaeo who competed in the Junior European Championships for Great Britain. Both gymnasts from Wales and Scotland will compete for Great Britain only at the World Championships or Olympic Games, but especially Wales there is a very strong contingent of young junior gymnasts. Also the FIG elections took place at the Fig General Assembly which is happening right now in Cancun. The big news out of that is that FIG President Bruno Grandi has been re-elected, although for the first time during his sixteen year tenure as President he had competition. He was the incumbent and Adrian Stoica of Romania and Vasily Titov, a Russian banker, ran against him for President. Grandi still won by a very overwhelming majority, he received 68 votes from member federations as compared to Titov who got 24 and Stoica got only 14, so Grandi will be there for another four years. I believe he has said that this will be his last election. He is 77 years old and he has been at the helm of the FIG since 1996. There is a new head of the Men’s Technical Committee and that is Steve Butcher of the USA. And there is another American presence in Peter Vidmar, who is chairman of USA Gymnastics. He has been elected to the FIG’s Executive Counsel. Meanwhile, Nelli Kim has been re-elected as the Women’s Technical Committee head. So in terms of the changes that we can expect over the next four years from the FIG, which is the decision making body of international gymnastics, is really still TBO. On the American side, John Orozco has apparently torn his ACL and meniscus ending a double front half dismount off of p-bars and that would have been a new dismount for him. Seems like he was playing around trying to get that new skill and just took a bad landing, so it’s very unfortunate. He has left the tour and returned to New York City where he will receive surgery and treatment. John is still a very young competitor, he’s very tenacious, and we wish him all the best in his recovery. Notably in 2010 he partially tore his Achilles, about 98% of the way he said. He had a great recovery, came back did a fabulous job in 2011 Worlds, won the National Championships, and made the Olympic team, and so certainly at his age he doesn’t have to let this slow him down, I think. John Geddert, Jordyn Wieber’s coach is making some waves on the Internet, as he tends to do, with a new blog post about how to gracefully leave a gym if you are a competitor and you decide maybe the coaching situation is not working out, or for whatever reason you want to go to another gym. He offers some tips on how to do that, it’s an interesting read. In Australia there is the Chetkovitch Cup going on and Lauren Mitchell, Ashleigh Brennan and Emily Little, three Australian Olympians from this cycle, have all been competing in that. Mitchell says that she’s not planning to throw all of her difficulty but it is her first since the Olympic Games and she’s very much looking forward to it. Jake Dalton has launched a small clothing line. It’s called Mesomorphic, and on its website, which is www.mesomorphic.storenvy.com, you can see a selection of hoodies with a trademark crown that seems to be the logo of the line. And you can also see Steven Legendre modeling some of it, so definitely check it out. It’s a very interesting look and it would be interesting to know whether Dalton plans to do more of this, kind of cool. The word is that Nastia Liukin has changed agents from Evan Morgenstein to Diane McNamara who is based out of Boston and represents the US Olympic team.
JESSICA: It’s interesting about this agent that she only represents retired athletes and then also in the press release it says that Nastia wants to work on a docudrama and a petite sportswear line. And so I think who knows why she decided to change agents, but I also think it’s really exciting to see what happens with this new agent. I think she’ll be a great fit, from what I’ve read so far.
SPANNY: And also when we speak of retired athletes, I’m thinking of Chellsie Memmel right now who goes on Twitter and says she does this brand new pass, its a laid out double arabian, and then in the next breath is like ‘But I’m still retiring’. One thing we’ve learned in the past eight years is that we never say never and I don’t think retirements are ever final anymore. Hello, Catalina Ponor!
JESSICA: Nastia, you know we’d all love to hear about your new agent and your TV show ideas and your line so whenever you want to come on the show, just let us know! We’d be happy to do a nice long interview with you, get all the details. The one thing I want to mention is the Chetkovitch Cup in Australia, it’s named after one of the announcers down there, and I just think this is the greatest idea in gymnastics ever. Ok so I’m talking to all of you gym owners and coaches out there, and people who organize meets let me tell you this right now: you can keep the gymnasts in your gym from the time they come in at the nine month old toddler class until the time they are 50 years old if you follow this model. Listen to me, I will guarantee it! You need to have all of the programs that are represented in this meet at your gym. What this meet does, let me explain it for a minute, they’re putting all of the different kinds of gymnastics together. So there’s artistic gymnastics, there’s acro, there’s group gymnastics, trampoline, all that kind of stuff are all mixed in this one meet. And I feel like when you offer all of these different programs you will not lose your gymnasts. When you offer them an alternative to only competing in this very rigid system, give them more opportunities to dance in rhythmic gymnastics, give them opportunities to only flip in trampoline, give them opportunities to all the different kinds of gymnastics, work with a partner and do acro but also a little bit of dance in acro, it’s such a great way to show people the different kinds of gymnastics and get them involved. And a meet like this gives them the perfect showcase to show gymnasts how they can be involved in the sport for life, so I just think it’s the best idea ever and I can’t say enough good things about it! Lets talk a little bit about Geddert’s blog post because a lot of people were worried that this was like him saying that Jordyn was leaving, although he says in the comments that no that’s not the case and she’s enjoying the tour. But then people noticed that- Spanny what were people saying about what’s going on on his website?
SPANNY: Well I would have to pull it up, the Twistars website as the updated gym policies, some of the most extensive being the process of leaving the gym and he explains that, hopefully within 30 days that might give the parents or child an opportunity to resolve whatever issues that might be forcing a leave. The issue I see with this is that there are a lot of situations in life where you can’t afford a 30 day notice, especially financially. Things happen. And to be obligated to pay, again financially, and most gym policies are there are,you know, prorated classes for partial months, things like that. I do think that it’s a little extensive and one does wonder what situations are going on at the gym that is provoking this. It’s interesting just given that it’s follow his kind of temperamental blog about leaving on perfect terms, when I do think there’s a lot more involving- again switching a gym is the same as switching jobs, switching schools: sometimes it’s not a nice little situation, sometimes it is messy and everybody does it the best they can so.
JESSICA: The timing is also really interesting seeing as this follows what went on with Gabby leaving her gym. But I actually think it offers- you know who really knows what when on what caused him- maybe he had this in the bank and just put it out now but it is really interesting. I think it actually is really good advice. The thing is I wish he would focus it, like obviously it’s for parents, children should not be responsible for this, but I wish he would make that more, you know, specifically directed at parents. Because I think it’s not incumbent upon on the child to do this, but I like how he calls out the parents and says to them ‘you teach children how to act, so if you just leave the gym without discussing this you’re telling them that’s ok’. So I really like that he does call out the parents in that way.
DVORA: Well I just think a month is a little bit excessive. If you’re leaving a job you have to give two weeks notice, you obviously shouldn’t just up and leave and you should give as much notice as possible, but I think demanding a month, lets say it really is an uncomfortable situation for the gymnast at the gym, we don’t know what’s going on, I’m not speaking to the particulars of Geddert’s situation. But let’s say the girls getting bullied, she doesn’t get along with her teammates, is it really fair to make her stick it out an extra month? You know, you give a few weeks notice or you give a as much notice as you can, but it is really fair? We’re talking about kids were not talking about grown ups here, and requiring more notice that you would give if you were quitting a job seems a little out of line. I think there should be notice, you shouldn’t just leave one day and never come back. There are lessons to be taught to children here in how to handle difficult situations, but you don’t need to extend this longer than it needs to go on
SPANNY: Reading, I finally found the policies it was right there, so he does say, I mean I could be I’m probably just completely misinterpreting, “if you child leaves, you child leaves? Spell check. [laughs] if your child leaves our program without the required 30 day notice your account will remain open until the completion of the current competitive season (June 30th)” and then going into “all outstanding tuition pro-shop charges etc will remain…” He can’t seriously mean you’re gonna be charged for the rest of the season. I think I’m misreading that.
UNCLE TIM: Read the last sentence. Basically it’s people who aren’t supplying notice but just saying well we didn’t pay therefore we’re leaving. That seems to be at the heart of the problem and so if you’re using that as your way of saying goodbye then we’re just gonna leave your account open because you didn’t tell us you were leaving and so were gonna keep charging you.
DVORA: I think that’s fair. You have to man up and tell all the people that you’re leaving.
SPANNY: What I disliked about- I think it’s a very fair discussion even his blog was a touchy subject. I didn’t like, I know I’m biased whatever, I didn’t like that they were like well it’s obviously about Gabby. Not going into a discussion about it, but knowing more about the situation and I’m sure Geddert knows more about the situation, I’m gonna go ahead and say that it’s not in any way related to Gabby and the way her family chose to notify Excalibur. I didn’t like that the discussion immediately went to Gabby and I’m sure every elite coach is really concerned about her and her choices.
DVORA: We have the most important bit of
JESSICA: OH! The most important! Oh my gosh! Go Dvora!
DVORA: The most important bit of news for fans of Tina Fey: she gave a speech at the Center for Reproductive Rights where she talked obviously about some of the GOPs actions and laws their trying to introduce to curtail access to family planning, and when she referred to TODD AKIN, who basically said that women can’t get pregnant from legitimate rape because their bodies have a way of shutting that down, she came back with the line that said Akin you’re not thinking about rape you’re thinking about competitive gymnastics. [laughs] Which I laughed at, despite myself, and then wanted to somehow get in touch with her and ask her if she’d watched Make It Or Break It because we know that Emily Kmetko did get pregnant while training for the Olympics. And if that’s not a documentary about gymnastics than I don’t know what is! But obviously it plays into the perception that people have that like every single female gymnast is prepubescent, will never go through puberty until after they’re done with the sport so if you’re competing you can’t get pregnant. And so I understand the joke she was making there and I’m perhaps a little blinded by Tina Fey adulation, but to people it’s a little bit of an unfair swipe to the sport of gymnastics.
SPANNY: I think 30 Rock has been a little notorious for taking swipes at NBCs portrayal of the Olympics in general. Granted that this was Tina Fey separate from 30 Rock but on the show they’ve made a couple of different gymnastics references, the most memorable one being Alec Baldwin saying something like, I have to think of the quote but it’s about underage gymnasts, underaged Chinese gymnasts. And they’ve done entire episodes in the run up to the various Olympic cycles that do lambasts their own, again the show is kind of known for kind of tearing apart NBC, and I think any pop culture, I mean I guess Tina Fey’s pop culture, any reference to gymnastics I’m secretly thrilled by.
DVORA: Yes, exactly.
SPANNY: You know, regardless of what country they insult or who they portray. Another one, and this will tie into our Halloween costume contest, Rashida Jones on Parks And Rec, also on NBC, was dressed up I’m assuming as one of the gymnasts, they never say who she is. I’m gonna go ahead and call her like a Gabby Maroney hybrid, because she kind of had Gabby hair but had the scowl. Yeah I’m just secretly thrilled. And MTV is having Gabby Douglas on their show I think This Is How I Made It. I’m just thrilled with any exposure on anything regardless of how shallow it is.
DVORA: Yeah I mean I’m secretly like wondering if Tina Fey went looking for gymnastics jokes and found my blog and does she secretly know who I am?
DVORA: One time I bumped into her on the street and completely lost my power of speech which never happens to me! She didn’t even notice me, and a couple of minutes later I came to and I called everyone I knew.
JESSICA: Tina Fey, if you are a secret fan of Dvora Meyers please tweet us and we’ll have you on the show and we can discuss gymnastics!
JESSICA: Next we have our interview with Paul Ruggeri. He’s currently on the tour so you can see him. And I’m bringing that to you now:
BLYTHE: U.S. standout Paul Ruggeri has been an integral part of the American National Team during this Olympic cycle. Ruggeri, part of the University of Illinois NCAA Championship team this past season, also owns NCAA titles on parallel bars and high bar and won a complete set of medals at the 2011 Pan American Games, including gold on high bar. Ruggeri is well known for his unique skills on rings and vault and a lot of daring on floor exercise. What’s less known about him is that he’s an artist and also quite talented on womens gymnastics events including uneven bars and balance beam. Paul, thank you very much for coming on the show. Is there, and we ask this of all the guests on the show, is there anything you’d especially like to talk about or anything that you especially not like to talk about before we get going here?
PAUL: Hmmm…Not really. I mean it’s really up to you guys. [laughs] Um, maybe not talk about the past couple months in terms of gymnastics and my experiences watching everything happen [laughs]. But its up to you guys, I’ll talk about it if you want to.
BLYTHE: Okay, so you do not want to be asked…
PAUL: Yeah I’ll talk about it if you guys want to.
BLYTHE: Okay. I mean on our list of questions there is a question about what it was like to watch the Olympic Games after having gone through the experience of this summer but if you would prefer that we don’t I wouldn’t ask that, we don’t have to ask that.
PAUL: No its fine, I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch it. [laughs]
JESSICA: You didn’t?
BLYTHE: Were you even tempted?
PAUL: What were you saying?
BLYTHE: Were you even tempted to watch it?
PAUL: I was tempted, yeah. Actually I watched the girls but I did not watch any of the men’s. I heard about it from my friends obviously, who were watching but I did not watch. I was actually at a…where was I… I working IGC so I was pretty busy and I went home and was pretty distracted during the whole time.
BLYTHE: I see. Do you mind if I ask you why you didn’t watch it?
PAUL: Sure. No I mean being so closely tied to the whole situation and I just, you know what I mean, I just wished everyone the best of luck. I just for some reason didn’t… I don’t know I feel like a lot of.. I mean I was with Brandon Wynn and Jesse Silverstein and we just, we didn’t really watch I don’t know why. I mean they did obviously after, but I don’t know I liked to keep myself busy during that time and it was pretty easy to just keep it in the back of my mind. I don’t know something about being so close and just feeling like I could have been there, you know, it’s a little harder than I thought it would be to watch it, I guess. So I just didn’t watch it. [laughs]
BLYTHE: Did the other guys watch it?
PAUL: Um, no you know, I mean Brandon and Jesse, I don’t want to speak for them or anything but I was with them during like Opening Ceremonies and the first couple days of competition and we didn’t watch it. We were working and we just had other things going on and we didn’t even really think about it.
BLYTHE: Lets talk about the Olympic Trials for a second. There in San Jose obviously the emotions were running really high as everyone competed in one of the biggest meets of their careers. You had a very positive experience there in some ways, can you tell us what it was like to compete at that meet and then really fall just short of making the team, is what it felt like?
PAUL: Sure. Well I knew that for me it was going to be tough to be placed on the team so I was more or less battling for an alternate spot and I knew that. So I think I definitely had the potential to be on the team, I just, as in my career even in now, I still haven’t competed in a World Championships, I still haven’t really proven myself on some of my strong events internationally, I still have yet to prove myself on floor, high bar I’m pretty consistent internationally, vault I tend to always mess up also. But I mean at that meet I just had a lot of expectations and I really knew how close I was and I was able to really channel my energy into just being the best that I could be. I did really well, I didn’t do perfectly, I mean I definitely had some errors- I mean I was consistent on everything but I really could have stepped up my game on floor and vault. That vault for me was so consistent all year, in the collegiate season I literally never faltered and I struggled with it every time in Visa’s and Trials, I just couldnt channel my energy correctly. I don’t know I’ve thought about it many times, how I could have changed my energy into approaching the vault but you know overall the experience was amazing. I was there with David Sender and CJ Maestas and CJ Maestas is one of the best people to be around in situations like that, hes so positive and we just had a great time. To be there with two of my really close friends, which is amazing, they’re like brothers to me. And I was able to have just a blast, we really enjoyed ourselves, we were so nervous you know and every day the first event we were always like gritting our teeth, I remember like being on the bus we were like so nervous we were like shaking ourselves into not being nervous. But it was just a lot of fun I mean I can’t explain it any other way than you know we have this brotherly bond going on, and we were just competing and just trying to make the Olympics, that’s what every kid dreams of thats what I always dreamed of, and to be in that position was awesome and an honor and I’m still proud that I got to that place. Even without that I wouldn’t have been on this tour if I didn’t make trials. I’m very thankful and grateful for the past season.
BLYTHE: Can you talk a little bit what it is like to be in the gym with David and with CJ. You have David who is a very experienced guy who actually left gymnastics for time to go to med school after the 2008 Olympics and a guy who did have the sort of ultimate olympics disappointment and decided to come back and make a run at a second team, and then you have CJ who is kind of the energetic newcomer. What’s that dynamic like between the three of you?
PAUL: Sure. Well I think when we train you know its really really simple, we train our faces off and we just support each other and we just do our numbers and we do what we have to do. I think I’d more like to tell you about the dynamic in terms of our of the gym or when we’re not working out just because thats when I think the support really comes in because anyone can be inspired prior to an Olympic selection process just because you know what’s coming and there’s so many emotions flying. I remember being super frustrated before Visas and Trials and I went from super consistent to completely falling apart in the gym and I would get so frustrated I would have to leave and then come back and try again the next day. And you know all those guys are always there, they’re always supportive, Cj and David and I’m so thankful to be training with them because you know, some of the guys that were at Trials don’t get to train with anyone else and I think ideally you get to be training with other people in your same situation in order to stay motivated and keep your goals insight and whatnot. And David and CJ are just perfect for that. David I got to see him go through 2008 and all the drama that happened with that and to see him, I look up to David a lot. He went to Stanford and he got a good undergraduate degree, he went to vet school, hes getting an advanced degree to further his education and further his life and that was a goal of mine all throughout college you know, I always wanted to go to med school or something like that, law school. I mean completely broaden my horizon, I’m not really sure what I’m gonna do yet but I aspire to do something like that and so it was really cool to see him. You know I was always a little uncomfortable with getting older now that I’m- not that I’m that old but- I was always uncomfortable with getting older and then thinking that I would never be the old one training, and here I am now graduated from college and I’m still considering training. It’s kinda crazy but I got to see someone that I look up to like david go through the whole thing and I really liked the process that he had and I really liked the goals that he had and he was able to still train, I’d love to be able to do something like that if possible. And you know for CJ, I wish I could have his attitude towards life nothing ever gets him down. He is an amazing person and he is going to go big places with his gymnastics and I can’t wait to, you know, hopefully I’ll be able to share some of the experience with him in the next year or two if i could continue training, I mean obviously I’m leaving my doors open but, if I continue training hopefully I get to see him more and I already can’t wait to go to camp. I miss everyone in Champagne, I’m not in Champagne anymore, and so I can’t wait to go to camp and see CJs face, you know I’m just gonna light up and be such a happy person when I see him cause I miss him so much. [laughs]
BLYTHE: Would you mind talking a little bit about this sort of low time that you went through that was frustrating for you before Nationals and Trials, that must have been very rattling to go through right as you’re preparing for the biggest meets of your life.
PAUL: Yeah sure. I mean I am the kind of person, I’m a perfectionist like most gymnasts so I was training these routines that were so easy for me and I would get so frustrated because I would try to channel so much energy into training and it was really hard everyday to keep doing these routines over and over and over and over and then I would get sidetracked and I wouldn’t have the energy or the spark that I needed to make these routines. Because they’re easy for me but you know they’re still hard as hell- excuse my language- they’re still really hard because for someone who has been training these routines at such a high level, you just lose focus. I would falter in practice and I would get really frustrated because I couldn’t understand why, but I would really know it was because I need more energy, I needed to put more energy into it. We were doing a lot of conditioning on the side and for a couple weeks before Visa’s I stopped that. But you know I think that’s something where I struggle with the most is like being able to keep my mentality okay and be able to trust the process because I know that this happens, I know that you’re not going to be perfect all the way to olympic trials. I mean if your perfect all the way to Olympic Trials, you have to mess up somewhere, so probably you’re going to mess up at Olympic Trials. So, at some extent I was kind of relieved that I got that process out of my way before Visas. And it was really bad Justin got real frustrated with me, and he was able to keep my head on the ground and I thank him for that. Daniel too, you know Daniel was my roommate for four years and now hes a coach at Illinois, and he knew that this process happens to me when I’m training and he would say you know, “Listen, this just happens to you, I’ve seen you do this for four years, you just gotta trust yourself that you know it’s gonna happen” and you know first day of visas I struggled but after that I hit all my routines. It was awesome.
BLYTHE: And in Illinois you have not only David and CJ and the whole team, which is a really high caliber NCAA team, but you have Justin Spring you have Ivan Ivankov you have Daniel Ribeiro as you mentioned, do you ever have a coaches vs. gymnasts competition in the gym or anything like that?
PAUL: [laughs] No, you know people ask me that all the time and when Ivan first came to Illinois I would say for a year or two years he would consistently do like Kovaks Kolman Kovaks Kolman and he would like connect these things like crazy. I would say in the past year his family finally came from Belarus, his wife and his son, and I haven’t seen him do as much gymnastics. I think he has other things on his mind, he happier to have his family around and not be half way across the world and he’s getting older ,maybe he’s realizing that but I don’t know, he’ll still jumps up and does Cassina Kolman once in awhile and he does conditioning all the time, its interesting to watch yeah. But rarely does Justin get up on the equipment or at least when I was there he didn’t jump up too often but he would get frustrated with someone and be like, “Do it like this!” and he would do a perfect peach or like giant diam after not training for like two years so he’s still incredibly talented and he’s an awesome guy to…
BLYTHE: That’s a pretty remarkable achievement, if you’re Justin Spring. You’re on the Olympic Team in 2008 and two years later you are the head coach at one of the biggest NCAA schools. I have to ask you Paul, did you have any doubts that, Justin was so young, that he could step up and lead the team the way that you would need to as an NCAA head coach?
PAUL: I think no for a head coach Justin is ideal for the position. He is really goal oriented and he takes a lot of time to look at detail and he really- I mean he took the time to have us speak to a sports psychologist all the time, I’m still not sure of her position but, he had this woman come in who he was taking classes from in grad school. Her name was Carla Costa and she was amazing and she played an important role, and also for two or three years, if I remember correctly, shes the one who helped us mentally get correct for NCAA Championships. He just spent a lot of time, he put a lot into- he always put a lot into- the things that he does and he has the right attitude. For a head coach that’s perfect. Then you have the duo of Daniels technical pommel horse knowledge and Ivans knowledge being two time world champion, he has a lot of wisdom to give. I miss Ivan, too and I hope that I speak to him soon, I hope I see him at camp but we’ll see which one of the coaches end up going with CJ. But in terms of coaching, it’s the perfect set up at Illinois.
BLYTHE: In 2011 you suffered a pretty serious ankle injury, could you tell us how that injury happened and how it affected your preparation for 2012?
PAUL: Sure. Well, I’ll start my story in 2010. 2010 I finally made the national team, I was trying to go to med school at that point I wasn’t that gymnastics oriented. I was studying for the MCAT and taking biochemistry and physics during season and I was taking classes to take the MCAT on the side, for I think it was 12 hours a week after practice. So my schedule was very full and I had just been really frustrated with making the national team because I had come so close so many times and I had been overlooked so many times and I kinda wanted to detach myself from the process so once I let that go and I didn’t really make it a goal to make the national team, I finally made the national team and then I started having the time of my life. I got three international assignments the first six months of being on the national team, I went to Moscow where we medaled, we went to Japan Cup where we medaled and then I got named to the World team as an alternate. I think at that time I was doing really well, and I fit the team really well, I just wasn’t experienced again which is why I think I was an alternate. I still wasn’t that consistent at Visa’s so I was lucky to even be placed there. But I was really motivated to be named alternate to the world team in 2010. I worked so hard, even by World Championships I had upgraded floor by four tenths, I upgraded p-bars by three tenths I had just added more and I was ready to go and I was in even better shape than I was at Visa’s, I was ready to go, I was excited to be there, I took everything in. And that’s when I really fell in love with gymnastics, too, that year because I got to see the international stage and how many people around the world who really love gymnastics and do it and you get to see so many different countries and backgrounds, it really made me find a new love for the sport. So I was really motivated that year and I was really motivated to go into Winter Cup, after worlds I had another international summit in between in Japan, and I was just ready to attack the new year. I got a little ambitious, I hadn’t really trained much vault and I
decided, because there was a bonus rule for start value at the Winter Cup that if you did two vaults of a certain start value you got an increase in your score, you got like an extra two tenths or something. I really wanted to keep up with Steve and Jake at Winter Cup so I decided to throw my Tsuk 2.5, which is easy for me but I hadn’t done it in a while,. and I just came in wrong and I slipped I got lost in the air and I just wrapped like a 1.5 i think like a double full maybe instead of the 2.5, but I landed crooked and I tore everything in the side of my ankle and that was that. I just came back, I couldn’t walk and I had to go to Indianapolis. The orthopedic consultant for the Colts saw me and got me in really fast thanks to Justin, and I got a great surgeon to do my surgery, but even by the time Visa’s came I was so not ready. I was tumbling, but it was so bad, like I had not made one floor routine going into Visa’s like I was relying purely off mental capacity to make a routine on floor and vault. I was really really just not ready in general to be at that competition and I did not do well. I got lucky to be named to be Pan American Team and then by the time Pan Ams came I was in a little bit more shape. My ankles still weren’t that great, I was heavily taping and trying to do this routine that was pretty difficult for me and it took me awhile to iron out a routine I was comfortable with. And I think by the time Trials came I was comfortable with my routine it was just too late. I continued to play with my routine through NCAA season and I didn’t really arrive at a routine that I liked with a really high start value until after NCAA season. I even fell on NCAAs on floor, and that’s finally when I changed my routine. I think that it definitely hurt my chances at making the team just because I lost a really important year of 2011. I don’t know what’s to come but I’m still working really hard and I’m still motivated and I don’t really feel like I’ve reached my peak. I’m in a new place with new coaches and new teammates and I’m ready to gear up again.
BLYTHE: Tell us about what you’re doing now. Have you left Illinois? Whose coaching you? How much are you training? Are you planning on continuing with competition? All those questions.
PAUL: Sure. Well now I actually decided I needed a new place, I needed new faces, I needed to refresh my life. I had been at Illinois for five years, and I needed to escape kind of [laughs]. So I actually moved closer to home, my parents live in New York and so I moved. I’m actually living with the Ribieros right now, Daniel’s parents. His parents have always been really supportive of Illinois and all the gymnasts coming through there and we’ve developed a friendship over the years and they have been incredibly supportive and they have played a really important role in my career already. They have an amazing gym just outside of New York City and they have all brand new equipment, brand new gym, amazing coach Genadi Shub, he was on the National Team for the USSR and he’s trained many, many National Champions on pommel horse, Daniel, Jesse Silverstein, David Frankl now at Stanford, theres a bunch of names that he’s trained. He’s helping me on pommel horse and rings and before I came on tour I was training a lot. You know I was training twice a day, start with conditioning in the morning with Jesse. And Jesse’s awesome, he’s one of the most considerate people I know. He’s helping me out so much in terms of getting my confidence back on pommel horse and he’s a great friend and I’m really happy that I’ve gained his friendship over the past month. And I can’t wait to get back to really training seriously. I’m planning on going to the Liukin Cup right after National Team Camp in December and for now my plan is just to train as hard as I can and see where I can take myself, hopefully without injury, through this next year see where I stand in terms of making the World Championship team and then reevaluate after that. You know if I want to go back to school I can, or If I wanna go to Cirque Du Soleil I can, or if I wanna pursue something in New York I can. So I’m just leaving all my doors open and I’m not really choosing a direction as of yet.
BLYTHE: Is medical school still on the horizon for you?
PAUL: I don’t think so, just because it’s such a commitment and I’m already 23 turning 24, I would be in my 30s and I don’t think I would really want to be putting myself through that kind of economic strain if I wanted to go to med school it’s really expensive it’s a lot of time. I’ve seen my friends that are all in med school and they’re absolutely miserable, I don’t think it’s for me. I’m really glad [inaudible] before I went into med school. [laughs]
BLYTHE: You were recently shown in a Cirque du Soleil documentary where a scout was telling you that he was waiting for you his whole life
BLYTHE: Can you talk about that…
PAUL: I don’t remember that! [laughs] No I know what you’re talking about though. What were you going to say?
BLYTHE: Yeah about that experience with Cirque du Soleil and what prospects that might hold for you in the future.
PAUL: Sure yeah. Well I had a friend who introduced me to a Cirque du Soleil scout a couple years ago and I met her and we got to do like an interview and at the time they were shooting for that documentary that you saw and I got to be involved, it was really cool just to be hanging out, her name was Stacy Clark, shes the one who turned me on to Cirque Du Soleil and I’m always in contact with Cirque Du Soleil, like I said I’m keeping all my options open in terms of what I’m gonna do. But being on this tour really has kind of opened my eyes a little bit. I really love performing and I really like the traveling component to all this and I really look up to all the dancers here and all the acrobats and I really wish that I was able to do more like them. While I’ve been here Jermaine, he just created a website called Respect My Step and helped me, him and one of the dancers Yavuz from Istanbul, helped me create a video for this website that combined tumbling with a little bit of break dance. I’m really excited I just finished the video yesterday actually and we’re waiting to finally upload it and do all of the final touches. But it’s really opened my eyes about performing and I don’t see myself really doing anything else after I’m done with gymnastics just because it’s really cool and I have a lot of friends in Cirque and they all of a blast. And I think I’m only young once, and my body can only do this for so long, and I love learning new things, I love doing as much as I can. I love experimenting, II do bars I don’t know if you’ve seen my bar routine but every once in awhile I’ll just up on bars and do a shaposh and I learned a shaposh half the other day with Anna [laughs]. It’s just a lot of fun, I have a lot of fun. I’ll hop up on beam and I’ll do like a front aerial or like a back flip. I just have a good time I like learning new things. So I see myself doing that
BLYTHE: And this is the time of the quad where if you’re continuing to prepare for serious competition you do get up and learn new things. Can you talk about, besides bars and beam which I think Uncle Tim’s going to talk to you about in a little bit, what are some of the things that you’ve been learning that we might see in competition from you in the next 12 months, something like that.
PAUL: Sure. I think the majority of my growth has come on pommel horse and rings. I’ve gone from training like a 14.8 pommel horse routine to a 15.6 pommel horse. Same thing on rings, I think I’m up to like a 15.6 on rings so I;m getting a lot stronger, I feel a lot bigger,I look a lot bigger I think than I did, like even the last year. On highbar I learned, like right after Trials-I never really trained Cassina/Kolman/Kovaks just because I didn’t like the way they looked when people performed them, but I decided if I’m wanted to increase my start value I need to learn them. So I learned a Cassina and Kolman, I don’t know if I’ll be competing a Cassina but I think I will most definitely be competing a Kolman. With the new connections in the rule changed I needed to tweak my routines just a little bit. But floor, I don’t think I’m really changing that much on floor other than I’ll be adding one more big pass. I plan on doing, after my arabian double layout, I’ll do like an arabian double pike or a front double pike in order to keep my routine-because now you can’t connect roll out skills and you can’t do more than one roll out skill. So you can’t do two Thomas’, so I’ll be replacing a D with an E and that will increase my start value a little bit. Other than that, pommel horse, rings a lot of growth hopefully to be coming. I’m pretty much keeping the same pbar routine, I’m changing it to back before Trials, I took some out before Trials just to be consistent but I’m putting the difficulty back in. I think the rules again are playing in my favor for the other events. Vault I don’t know if I’m gonna change, I actually haven’t trained vault since Trials, I just haven’t really been in an environment where I’ve be able too, my ankles are bothering me a little bit so. Here on tour we don’t have a vault so that will be the first thing I do. I get my first break off tour on Monday so I’ll be going home- as long as the hurricane let’s me go home!
JESSICA: I hope you don’t have to spend that break in an airport.
PAUL: Oh my god me too, I know! And it’s only like a day anyways. I get home on Monday at 1:30 and then fly back Wednesday at the same time so, it’s a quick break.
BLYTHE: Let’s talk about roll out skills for a second. I know in a previous interview you mentioned that you were kind of terrified of them and they are terrifying!
PAUL: Wow, you have a good memory! [laughs]
BLYTHE: [laughs] How do you overcome that fear?
PAUL: Well, I did not entertain the idea of doing that at all, for the longest time. My freshman year I didn’t do any roll outs. My sophomore year they finally convinced me to do a front one and 3/4, like the easiest one, so I did that. And then the next year for me to be doing these big start values, you have to do a roll out because you’re not gonna get deducted if you’re clean, and it’s easy. It’s one of the easiest high value skills in terms of energy so I really needed to put it in my routine and I just had to swallow my pride and I did a lot on the Tumble Trak and a lot into the pit first before I did it and then I gradually became comfortable with it.
BLYTHE: And as somebody who was at one time fearful of roll out skills are you happy with some of the changes that you’ve seen in the code of points, like as you mentioned only having one..
PAUL: Yeah of course! Even though its supposed to be the easiest skill I tend to mess them up in competition. At the Pan American Games I almost died [laughs] doing that skill in prelims and same thing in finals, I even took one of them out. I’m really happy that you can only do one and you can’t connect into it because that keeps, you know, the danger and the fear out of my floor routine completely because I’m perfectly comfortable with one Thomas, the laid out Thomas, I’m fine, that’s the max you can do and thats the max anyone can do so I’m happy with the rule change for sure.
BLYTHE: You also have a pretty unusual way of hurdling into your round offs…
BLYTHE: with that arm swing. How did that come about and how does it help you in tumbling?
PAUL: It came about just because I, as a child, I struggled with being patient. I would rush everything, I would do double backs throwing my head back cause I couldn’t turn my body over, I would have to change my head position and it kind of just developed. I actually didn’t even know I was doing it, you know people just kept telling me to wait and be patient and to turn my roundoff over, and that was just my way of adapting into it and I guess no one told me to change it until I was a little bit older and by that time it was just a habit, I couldn’t change it, and I could do big floor passes with it. So I’m not gonna change it just because someone thinks it looks funny [laughs]. So you know it works for me and I think it makes me look more unique and I like being unique.
BLYTHE: You’re pretty well known for unusual skills, some unusual vaults, some unusual stuff on rings, and the crowd really seems to appreciate what you do. How do you go about choosing the skills that you do in your routines?
PAUL: Well for me, I do the skills that I think look cool and skills that fit on my body. I don’t always throw big skills because I think they’re sloppy and they’re inconsistent and I do think people do them sloppily and I don’t like that look. I think I always kept to the skills that I could do really consistently and that look really good and really clean. You know I have a really different body type I have a long torso and I have like no legs so I think my body allows me to different things than a lot of people. So I really just pick the skills that fit with my body and I roll with it no matter what it is.
BLYTHE: Are there any skills that you watch other guys do and go, “Wow, that looks frightening”?
PAUL: Yeah of course, I always said that about Cassina and Kolman and then I learned it in like 2 or 3 days so I think there is such a mental component and you just gotta really keep your mind open and if you’re able to beat your fear, the sky’s the limit. I was always afraid of doing that stuff and I can do them pretty easily now.
BLYTHE: How long does it typically take you to learn a new skill?
PAUL: You know I’m one of those stubborn ones. It depends on the event. Pommel horse I could take forever. Rings, obviously strength you can’t learn in a day, or you know the other events if I don’t learn something relatively quickly then I drop it and I move on and I pick something else. Unless it’s absolutely necessary to my routine. I’ll just pick things that are really easy for me and that I’m able to do consistently and normally it doesn’t take that long to learn a new skill. Like Thomas’ took a long time, Tkatchevs when I was young took a long time. Other than that I can learn things pretty quickly.
BLYTHE: There’s a lot of conversation, particularly mens gymnastics, and what it should look like, how it should try to attract a crowd. Illinois is a football school, a basketball school…
PAUL: Yeah, yeah.
BLYTHE: But more about the place of mens gymnastics on campus and what you think should be done to make mens gymnastics a more popular NCAA sport?
PAUL: Well I think for one, I definitely don’t like being the cookie cutter leotard, you know I don’t like that look, and it really hurts our sport. I think, I mean have a lot of tattoos that are visible when I compete and it doesn’t bother me, it makes me look different. It’s beginning to become more acceptable, I think, in the sport. If you watch the Olympics you would see a bunch of guys with tattoos- some of them cover them up and some of them don’t. Even at Olympic Trials I did not cover my tattoos up and I kind of rolled with it. At Pan American Games I didn’t cover my tattoos up, I just kind of rolled with it. I just think that maybe that’s becoming more acceptable in society, that’s more modern, it’s not that cookie cutter look and I think that’s my way of not caring and being true to myself and being who I am and I did what I wanted and I didn’t listen to anybody. I don’t think it’s really hurt me necessarily at all. That would be the way I think I did the gymnastics code I guess.
BLYTHE: How do you feel about the five member Olympic team?
PAUL: Obviously it sucked, me being the position I was in, I feel maybe if it was a six member Olympic team I would have for sure been an alternate. [laughs] You never know. I think it’s tough. First of all I think gymnastics as a team sport is tough. I really love the team atmosphere but where do you draw the line? Some of your best athletes, guys who are amazing on other events, pommel, rings, vault, floor, that didn’t get to go to the Olympic Games. I think that gymnastics should evolve and change and let it be more like swimming or track and field where you know, what track athlete does all the events and gets to go to the Olympics because they can do all of the events? It’s more of like a specialty, in order to become really good at one thing you have to spend more time on one thing. What would you think if the United States took two guys on floor, two guys on pommel horse, two guys on rings, and so on and all different, and then they took a team, like they took a separate team and that would be a different competition with different people, or it could be the same people. It just depends on how the competitions played out. I think that would allow our country specifically have more people involved in the Olympics and have people who have an opportunity at being successful.
UNCLE TIM: Alright so in several interviews you’ve mentioned that you enjoy painting and photography. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about that?
PAUL: Sure. Well all throughout school- the school district that I happened to be in I was lucky enough they had a really strong visual arts program. They picked a group of us in…I think it was eighth grade or seventh grade…maybe it was seventh grade..I don’t even remember but we got picked in middle school to take more art classes than your average kid, so I was doing a lot of art classes and to this day I kind of wished I studied art in college or studied something with design or graphics, I just chose not to for some reason. I don’t know, but, I love it yeah.
UNCLE TIM: So as you know Danell had several sexy photos circulating on the internet, and you as someone who is an artist, can you give us a critique of them in terms of the lighting and the camera angle?
PAUL: Oh my god, absolutely not! [laughs]
UNCLE TIM: [laughs]
PAUL: That’s terrible I feel bad for Danell. That shouldn’t have happened to him. [laughs] I’m not gonna talk about that I’m sorry.
UNCLE TIM: [laughs] I respect that. And so I’m in love with your uneven bars routine…
PAUL: [laughs] Thank you
UNCLE TIM: And how did that come about and are there plans to add it to tour?
PAUL: Aww man, I wish! After Olympic Trials I just started playing on bars a little bit with the girls, I was really excited one day I tried to do a shaposh and did a Hindorff thing and almost killed myself, and then the next time I actually did a shaposh. It was really cool to learn and I always liked watching that skill when the girls do it, it looks really cool. I wish the guys had an event where we could do stuff like that but we don’t. It’s just a cool feeling to like throw yourself in a direction and be able to catch something. I just started messing around here and there, and then I kind of needed a break from gymnastics and that’s what I did after Trials. I would go in and I would just do girls bars and beam whatever I wanted to do, I would make fun of the girls, have fun and they would all laugh. Then when I came to tour I just messed around and showed everyone that I could do it, and Anna helped me learn a shaposh half because I couldn’t catch it when I was trying, and I finally caught it and now I’m thinking about making a full elite routine. I think it would be really funny-no I’m kidding! But I don’t know I’ve asked a couple times about putting it maybe at the end, just kind of me swinging on bars a little bit, maybe I will, but I don’t know if they’ll put it in the tour [laughs]
UNCLE TIM: Great. So several times in this interview you’ve mentioned your skills on beam and we’re wondering, what is the hardest thing you can do on the balance beam, and is this on the low beam or the high beam?
PAUL: I would say, I get the most comments-people seem to freak out when I do the front aerial. On the high beam.
UNCLE TIM: And how did you get over your fear of maybe crotching the beam, I mean as a guy that’s the fear.
PAUL: [laughs] I don’t know I don’t get it to be honest with you. I’ve never had that fear, I’ve never had the issue of falling on the beam, I don’t know I just feel like if you squeeze your legs you’re not going to crotch it, I don’t know maybe I’m going to jinx myself and crotch it some day but I think it’s just more of a fear thing and I think if you’re sure of yourself and keep yourself in a straight line you’re not gonna fall. If you get nervous and you let your leg go a little off then you’re gonna fall. You just have to make sure you stay straight, no matter what even if you’re gonna sit on the beam. You’ve got to be aware of where you are.
UNCLE TIM: And so on tour there seems to be a lot of changing of the gender roles. You’re doing all this practice on the uneven bars and then Anna and Chellsie are also doing high bar, or they have in the past. So who would you say would be the better male gymnast, Anna or Chellsie and why?
PAUL: Ooooh, I don’t know. I would say..well Anna’s like busted her neck I don’t know what she’s doing so she doesn’t train that much, but I’ve seen Chellsie do some pretty impressive things, she’s very powerful on floor, she’s good on vault, she can swing high bar just fine, I would have to go with Chellsie. She just seems to have the strength, flexibility and mind set, I don’t know.
UNCLE TIM: Could you tell us about your most embarrassing gymnastics moment?
PAUL: Well in middle school, in my school we would always have a gymnastics unit, and there was a time when we had the big class and we were doing gymnastics and they chose me to demonstrate like something on bars just because they knew I was a gymnast and they wanted me to show like a front hip circle or something. So I walk over and I’m like all nervous-I was really timid when I was a child- I did my front hip circle and I came down and I started walking back to the whole class and I walked straight into the low bar and I like flipped over
PAUL: I had like this big mark on my head and the whole class, I was really embarrassed. I was just really timid as a kid, I was like horrified that it happened but, that’s definitely my worst moment. I tell that story at IGC, too.
UNCLE TIM: [laughs] Great. And so as you know, in international competition you have to take an oath, the Athlete Oath, and so I was wondering if you would take the Uncle Tim version of the Athlete Oath today.
PAUL: Okay, what is it?
UNCLE TIM: Okay, you’re gonna have to repeat after me. Okay, so: I Paul,
PAUL: I Paul,
UNCLE TIM: Take you pommel horse
PAUL: Take you pommel horse
UNCLE TIM: To be my one true love
PAUL: [laughs] To be my one true love
UNCLE TIM: I promise to be true to you, in good times and bad
PAUL: [laughs] I promise to be true to you, in good times and bad
UNCLE TIM: In sickness and in health
PAUL: In sickness and in health
UNCLE TIM: And even when the other events seem more titillating
PAUL: Even when the other events seem more titillating
UNCLE TIM: Though you are inherently boring for gymnastics fans
PAUL: Though you are inherently boring for gymnastics fans, totally true
UNCLE TIM: On my honor
PAUL: On my honor
UNCLE TIM: I will try to make you popular
PAUL: I will try to make you popular
UNCLE TIM: Even if that means I have to gyrate on top of you
PAUL: Oh my gosh!
PAUL: [laughs] Even if that means I have to gyrate on top of you [laughs] Man! This show! What are you guys doing? [laughs]
UNCLE TIM: Gyrate means to circle! It’s just another word for circling!
PAUL: Yes, yes I know.
UNCLE TIM: Naked in competition.
PAUL: Oh my goodness…Naked in competition.
UNCLE TIM: In the name of Kurt Thomas and his flairs, Amen
PAUL: In the name of Kurt Thomas and his flairs, Amen
JESSICA: Thank you so much Paul! You are the best!
PAUL: No problem, it was nice talking to you guys.
JESSICA: And we wanna see a video of you doing your front aerial on beam, please, please, please, please!
PAUL: I will, I’ll make a video and I gotta send it to you guys. [laughs]
JESSICA: So Spanny, we have a lot going on with listener feedback this week, what’s happening?
SPANNY: We do, let’s start with news feedback. Of course the FIG elections always illicit a ton of responses, not many people disagree, there are a few things the gymternet seems to agree on, and the election of Bruno is one of them! Christine Rogers tweets that she would like him to please stop making excusing next quad about tiebreakers.They would be done away with if he would just fight for it. I feel like I should know this but is that an FIG situation or an IOC…
JESSICA: Yeah was this ever decided? Did we get that it was the USOC pressuring the FIG or was it that FIG just decided this on their own to not have any more ties. Because every other sport had a tie.
DVORA: Exactly, we were the only sport without ties.
SPANNY: Christine, just know what everybody agrees with you, the ties were one of the biggest tragedies of this Olympics. Gym Momentum, one of our new favorite blogs, Gym Momentum, the Mens Technical Committee, a bigger voice for the USA and it’s a fairly conservative group, which is interesting.
DVORA: What do they mean by conservative, it’s not like we’re talking about women’s rights conservative
JESSICA: I know like we’re talking about Vidmar?
SPANNY: I think, that was my first thought, I don’t think thats it…
JESSICA: I mean well that is the thing, this is very interesting because you don’t..I mean it’s just a fact about Vidmar, I just think he doesn’t understand. But he’s also like one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, I feel like truly cares about gymnastics, is truly a good human being and I feel like is a really great voice and so supportive, I just think that he doesn’t understand really, really, and its so hard to like, I don’t want to make any excuses for what he did, I just don’t think he gets it. You know if you read interviews with him, he gave a whole interview about how important his family was and his coach was and how he couldn’t have made it without them and then one sentence later he says- and who knew how it was in the actual recording of the interview- he says you know I don’t understand why the athletes were so upset over something that had nothing to do with their performance. I mean he just does not…there’s no connection..he doesn’t connect the dots in his own mind and its really sad because I think if he could get passed this he could be one of the greatest champions for gymnastics, I think he already is, and I think this is holding him back and its really sad. I hope he gets in one day because he’s deep down a good guy.
SPANNY: Yeah [inaudible] limitations towards who’s representing you and I think thats been an argument for a lot of people, who represents me either the fan, the athlete, the coach in terms of the FIG, now we do have an entirely new, well almost an entirely new group of people who are representing. North America, at least seems to be well represented this time around. I think it’s interesting, I think it’s Stoica, first of all its interesting that he’s like done, like he did not only did not win the presidency, I think he’s out of the FIG.
DVORA: Yeah, he’s no longer in the Men’s Technical Committee
SPANNY: Let’s talk about pronunciation for a moment, because that does tie into another piece of feedback, to jump onto a totally different topic here. Again Rachael from What Should Gym Fans Call Me her tumblr (check it out!), a conversation we had a week or two ago about NBCs contrived story lines, specifically their portrayal the past summer of Russian gymnastics as a whole. She wrote in and explained to us that, to kind of top off our rage at some of NBCs portrayals. We’ll all back to a time, 2004 Athens Olympics they did that Khorkina fluff piece where she was walking down the dilapidated vault runway and she’s walking all sultry and slow and they show a one on one interview and it is her speaking, with a voice over translation…maybe it’s not a voice over it’s a written translation..
DVORA: It’s a translation
SPANNY: The translation is completely wrong. She spoke in Russian and they provided subtitles, again this is Rachel’s submission to us, some of the translations were pretty terrible and some were deliberately manipulated to portray her as an arrogant diva. For example, at one point the translation reads, “I have been great for a long time” the literal translation is “I don’t want to be called strong” [inaudible] verify even a non Russian speaker, someone with very basic Russian can probably make out the first few words and she believes, and I agree with her, that interviewing an athlete in a foreign language and then giving a deceptive translation is pretty tacky. So yeah if anybody who is either fluent in Russian or dabbling in Russian and want to verify, not that we doubt Rachael at all. It’s interesting to kind of go and to see what we’re being told, what we’re being fed
DVORA: I mean did she mention any other mistranslations in that interview? Because I recall that fluff piece and she said some pretty interesting things so it seems weird for them to- I feel like with Khorkina you don’t need to incorrectly translate her, she gives you enough to go on anyway, so it’s just interesting that they made that choice it seems because I’m sure she gave them a lot of other great soundbites they could have used that would have been more accurate.
SPANNY: No doubt the “I want a gold medal more than I want a child”
JESSICA: Yes like does the literal translation of “I don’t want to be seen as strong” actually mean something like, “I hate wheelbarrows” you know?
JESSICA: There are the literal translations and then cultural meaning can be different and it Rachael seems to know the culture very well and so she would know this, but we would love to have this confirmed by a Russian speaker. There will be a link on the website
DVORA: And is there an idiom that’s being referred to that, you know one of the classic mistranslations, I’m not even sure mistranslations the word but I’m gonna keep going with it. I just remember, I don’t speak Russian but I was flying to Israel and I was watching Miss Congeniality, which is kind of just- only exists in English, like how would you translate that into another language? And so the translation they came up with in Hebrew is [Hebrew], “what sort of police officer” [laughs] they just completely- I just remember that stuck out in my brain, like, “Oh my God, that is not at all what it meant!” The movie was about a police officer so, there you go. Maybe Terin Humphrey! [laughs]
SPANNY: For those of you who would like to contact us either regarding the Russian translation issue or any sort of feedback, comments, suggestions, you can always find us on Twitter, on Facebook, on GymCastic’s website and now we have a fancy new feature: a phone number. You can actually call us and leave a voice mail on skype which we will check periodically throughout the week, and we will address pretty much anything you have to say as long as you’re not prank calling us, which I find very tempting. Jess if you find prank phone calls… [laughs] I’ll say the number once here but we’ll post it on Facebook, Twitter, our website the voice mail will be: 415-800-3191. I have to assume that long distance charges will apply but it is the year 2012 I don’t know who charges for long distance anymore, but, it’s just something to consider. It’s a really exciting new feature for us, we like this show to really involve the entire gym community’s opinion.
DVORA: One question, will we be playing these messages on air if there is a good question? Are we doing that?
JESSICA: Yes, hopefully. So when you leave your message please make it concise, stick to the point, because as the producer it makes my life so much easier and you can leave your name if you want or you can leave it anonymously if you wish, just give us some way to identify you.
DVORA: Maybe a 60 second rule for the questions?
JESSICA: Yes please, thats a very good suggestion. Try to keep it under 60 seconds.
DVORA: And you may have noticed this week we wound maybe a little clearer, there aren’t weird-I don’t know what the noises were last week. That’s because we all have new headsets and for that we can thank Elitesportzband.com who is our new sponsor. We used some of the money that they gave us and we got some equipment for the podcast. So everything we make we’re going to pour it back into the production of this podcast. And you should check them out, so they make these back, kind of like not braces kind of like a leg warmer for your back as Jessica put it earlier. It really helps with compression and helps relieve pain. Their web address is Elitesportzband.com, and sports with a z. You should definitely tweet at them and thank them. I’m kind of really intrigued by their product, I had spinal fusion when I was in high school
and now that I’m approaching 30 I’m starting to feel all kinds of badness, so now I kind of want one too even though I don’t do competitive gymnastics and I really just walk around and try not to move all that much. But I could definitely use some extra support for my back, and maybe wear it as a chunky belt? I mean are they coming in style this season? I didn’t really check out the runway shows so I don’t know what the designers have planned, but we can start our own trends.
SPANNY: Also, if you do check out the website at elitesportzband.com thats s-p-o-r-t-zband.com. They actually have a page of submitted pictures from gymnasts who are using the brace. Again, the word ‘brace’ is misleading, it does allow for full flexibility even though it is supporting and compressing your back.
JESSICA: So the last bit of feedback is some people tweeted us saying that we were wrong about if you touch the board now it’s a full fault so you don’t get to vault again, that’s it, it’s over for you. So Uncle Tim, what research did you do on this? Let’s check it out.
UNCLE TIM: So the last code this rule was in place: you couldn’t touch the springboard or the vault, if you did, you would get a zero for your vault in the last code, and that still applies to the new code. The big difference is what happens if you need to take another run. In the last code you were permitted two runs if you had to do one vault, and now if you have to take a second run, you are allowed to do that but you get a full point deducted from your score. And then with two vaults you can do a second run but if you need a third run, you will also get a full point. So for instance in event finals we saw Peña start a vault and then stop, that was permissible in the old code, but in the new code she would get a full vault from whichever…
SPANNY: So we’re encouraging people to just, in order to avoid that little full point deduction, they should just not baulk and throw the horrible double front?
JESSICA: Yeah, I think that’s a bad rule, too. I think the same things apply from our discussion last time, that’s still scary.
DVORA: It’s too big a penalty. Gymnasts as we know tend to do skills that perhaps they’re not fully prepared to do, will risk injury anyway, and so if you’re going to take a point off that’s really too big a penalty to prevent major injuries.
JESSICA: Yeah a tenth, maybe, but I just feel like…
DVORA: Three tenths? Like stepping outside the lines I think, you know, a gymnast might think twice and take that penalty. But a point, like a fall? That’s really big.
JESSICA: Yeah. I think it should be like pole vault. You get like three times, if you don’t go over on the third time that’s it. But taking a point off? I mean, it’s safety. It all comes down to safety. Spanny you have some fantastic Halloween costume ideas, because as you guys know our Halloween Costume Contest is coming up. So Spanny start us off with some ideas for our listeners.
SPANNY: Well a few ideas, we have been receiving a few submissions. We’ve got from Amy sent us a picture of-she was going to go as sexy Bela Karolyi last year but it was for work and didn’t want it to get all “HR-ey”…
SPANNY: She sent in this great picture of, again it wasn’t very ‘sexy Bela Karolyi’ but there was Bela Karolyi carrying Kerri Strug. Another idea, we’ll discuss our ideas in a minute, but this was a new one I thought this was really great, this was from @RedEmmaXYZ on twitter she says, “I’m making my costume today, heres a hint” and she sent us a picture (we can link to the picture later) it’s a red fabric with all the red swirls and it’s a dead ringer for the fabric used on the Russian warmups, Bosco? Costume ideas, again we’ve spoken about earlier: McKayla Maroney. Another interesting picture we got, apparently there was a big Halloween party somewhere in California that was a Hallow-meme party. So it was a Halloween costume party with all meme costumes from the internet. And we actually had one submission, and I also saw this same picture on Buzzfeed, it was someone who went as Honey Boo-Boo but her number 2 was a McKayla Maroney, so I do think that is one of the more popular costumes this year, not just among gymnastics fans. Of course you’ve got to find your medal and make the face and take a picture. We could do a little time traveling and go as a 1993 Shannon Miller. Find a white leotard a huge white scrunchie, if you have your own Steve Nunno just get the brightest windbreaker jacket you could find. I would encourage hot pinks light blues, purples. If you remeber USAG had a real big thing with neons and triangles and different shapes. A couple of different Make It Or Break It themed costumes, if we remember it was I believe in the second season, where the Rock girls do a photo shoot and they’re very sexy and sassy because they’re the rebellious Rock girls. It was really inappropriate, but that involved obnoxiously high cut, almost thong leotards, you could go as a Rock girl one night and Ponor the next! But if you go as Rock girl you can do the same kind of 80’s makeup, teased hair and then walk around like you’re taking pictures all the time. Another great Make It Or Break It themed costume is pregnant Emily Kmetko.
SPANNY: Or pregnant gymnast. It’s possible that a 2012 Nastia Liukin would be a pop culture reference, not to be confused with the 2007 Nastia. Now for the 2007 Nastia costume you would have slicked back hair, maybe a light blue leotard whereas a 2012 is all pink maybe a little sparkly collar rhinestone thing, and the hair. You cannot, cannot, cannot leave out the hair for a 2012 Nastia. An old classic: Chinese baby gymnast, bring out the pacifier, add a bottle, that I think will be a timeless costume.
DVORA: Dress your baby in a leotard, a Chinese gymnast.
JESSICA: And attach a little bar to their arms so it constantly looks like they’re doing pull ups.
DVORA: That would…
SPANNY: I’m gonna think about this later…If you’d like to go as a traditional Russian gymnast cut the bangs, that’s a trend right now, the bangs need to be about a half inch below your hairline. Maybe streaky mascara tears and any leotard you’d want. If you want to go to Mustafina specifically lots of glitter! Just shellac the hair, the ponytail and the eye makeup is what will make this costume. There are tutorials all over YouTube about how to do Mustafina eye makeup, let’s call it what it is, it’s gorgeous make up, you’re going to have a lot of fun doing it. I’d like to see a lot of Mustafina costumes this year. For maybe the not as mainstream, Iordache. I that that that’d be…
JESSICA: Sexy Jordan.
SPANNY: I was thinking of Larissa.
JESSICA: Oh! [laughs] I’m sorry! My mind immediately goes to Jordan. Excuse me, excuse me carry on with your Romanians
SPANNY: I do kind of [inaudible] the bumblebee costume; I think pikachu. You know people made that comparison, and it was pretty spot on. Now these are all female, most of them, unless you’re Nunno or Bela, and if you want to go as something other than Nunno or Bela, what about John Macready? We’ve spoken quite a bit about him today and in our interviews. Which John Macready do you want to go as? Tour John Macready, adult baby John Macready wear a diaper, do gymnastics, and sing party rock repeatedly.
JESSICA: I love the one that Chris Saccullo sent us which is, there’s this meme going around thats a gymnastics meme where it’s Steve Penny is looking/watching Dawes give an interview and he’s like behind this fence and these bushes, and it’s the funniest thing he does it do the ‘somebody’s watching me’ song, so I would love to see somebody go as Steve Penny with like kind of this weird look on his face and then have a fence from your pants down and some bushes over your face and kind of peer through them like at a distance at people wherever you go.
DVORA: I totally have the shoes, I could do this. I have Steve Penny’s shoes.
JESSICA: And then for tutorials I just found this guy his name is Daven Mayeda, he’s a gymnast, he’s totally a gymnastics fan, he’s an amazing makeup and hair artist and he actually mentions like “Oh make your hair look like Nastia” blah blah blah in his videos and I was like “What!? Oh my god I love him!” so check out his tutorials. He has a really good one for how to make your face look like a zombie and I would just love to see a zombie judge, zombie gymnast, zombie coach, like anything gymnastics/zombie themed I think would be really cool, zombie unimpressed Maroney. I would like to see a vampire themes also, and you could go as a glitter vampire twilight style and bring it all together: Nabieva glittery vampire gymnast? Oh my god that would be awesome! Ok so this is my favorite, and this is not my idea but, so this is a pair, this is for pairs of people. So you have a male gymnast and whoever he’s with can dress as the honey bear. Ah! How cute is that?! Get it like p-bars = honey bear? Ok, you can have one person dress in a suit with a lanyard around their neck that says FIG Official and they’re carrying a bloody knife and then the other person dresses as the perfect 10 and they’re shredded and bleeding! How fantastic is that? I didn’t come up with that either. And then of course I like the idea of being like Grandi, so you could put a suit on, make yourself look a little wrinkly, some grey hair, act like you’re drunk and just give really verbose nonsensical speeches wherever you go, but in language that sort of sounds like it’s translated from the 1800’s but with a lot of conviction and a lot of adjectives. Those are my ideas.
DVORA: Doesn’t it also sound like a Bela Karolyi costume?
JESSICA: Yes! As a matter of fact. But… yeah I don’t understand anything Bela says.
DVORA: I think most people, if they saw that, would guess that you were Bela Karolyi. I love spandex costumes so Shannon Miller, Steve Nunno but, how would we put those two together? How freaky would it be to see a Shannon Miller costume with a Steve Nunno mustache?
DVORA: This is what’s going on in my mind right now, which is clearly a scary place. You’re not welcome to come here, you don’t want to come. It’s the haunted house is really just the visual and verbal associations I am making because of all of the great costume ideas.
UNCLE TIM: I’d like to see someone dressed going as the trio, Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegel and Al and you could go around narrating what everyone is doing at the party…
UNCLE TIM: …and cheer them on as they eat their chips and drink their beer, if you are the age of 21 of course, yeah that’s my suggestion.
JESSICA: [laughs] I love that idea.
SPANNY: That is brilliant! We need an Andrea Joyce to like, shame people.
JESSICA: [laughs] “You really messed up today, how does that feel?”
SPANNY: Like, “Another handful of chips, how do you deal with disappointment everyday?”
DVORA: “I’ve noticed that you’ve been drinking a bunch of beers, do you have a problem with drinking? Do you want to talk to me on camera about that? Is anyone in your family an alcoholic? Were you raised by abusive Russian alcoholics who dropped you off at a Dickensian orphanage when you were young to study gymnastics” [laughs]
DVORA: Please ask that exact question.
SPANNY: Again a reminder, please send us any pictures, ideas, thoughts you have. Try to submit you would like for the contest by this upcoming Thursday. We record the shows on the weekend so this will give us time to judge. Remember there is a hefty reward being promised for the best costume. The reward being a t-shirt from Cloud and Victory. I am wearing my Cloud and Victory shirt right now, they are awesome. They’re great gymnastics themed t-shirts she also has Game of Thrones themes, I want to say a [inaudible] themed and just danced themed. So yeah, the winner will get to pick out their own shirt, high quality t-shirts and it will be shipped to them. So please submit any entries you have for our Halloween Costume Contest.
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: That’s going to do it for us this week, next week you can look forward to an interview with Jermaine, he is a dancer on the tour, he’s a choreographer on the tour, he’s the artistic director on the tour. He’s done stuff for Katy Perry and pretty much anyone you’ve ever heard of: JLo, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, he’s just super bad ass, and he has a really interesting and different perspective on gymnastics and choreographY than I think we’ve heard anyone really talk about, besides maybe Miss Val. So really look forward to that interview and I want to let you guys know that we are also going to have a discussion about what Ruggeri said in this episode where he talked about his idea for making up new teams, how they’d be constructed: two specialists on each event and then a separate team of all-arounders. I love that idea so we have to discuss that! Of course our Halloween Costume Contest winner will be announced next week! Very excited for that. Remember that you can listen to us on iTunes, on Stitcher. If you’re listening to us on Stitcher tell us what you think, how do you like the app we’d like to know. Thank you to everyone who has rated us on iTunes, that’s so fantastic, we’re happy to see that! You can always listen on the website, and remember that we’ll have links related to the show, so that Khorkina interview that we’re talking about, the translation, that link will be on the show as well so you can check that out. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter and you can always email us at GymCastic@gmail.com and of course you can now leave us 60 second very short and precise voice mail messages at 415-800-3191 and we can’t wait to hear your messages. Until next week, this is Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics.com…
BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner
SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile
UNCLE TIM: Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Mens Gym
DVORA: Dvora from Unorthodox Gymnastics
JESSICA: See you guys next week!