JESSICA: This week, Mykayla Skinner vaulted with both arms– news from Jesolo, and major upsets from the NCAA Conference Championships.
[EXPRESS YOURSELF INTRO MUSIC]
ALLISON TAYLOR: Hey gymnasts. Elite Sportz Band is a cutting edge compression back warmer that can protect your most valued asset, your back. I’m Allison Taylor on behalf of Elite Sportz Band. Visit elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: This is episode 84 for March 26, 2014. I’m Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics.
UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Time Talks Men’s Gym.
EVAN: And I’m Evan. Find me on Twitter @yoev.
JESSICA: This is the best gymnastics podcast in the galactic empire, bringing you all the essential news and analysis from around the gymternet!
JESSICA: Have you guys entered the gymitation contest? You need to. It’s getting very serious. We’ve had an “Oh Boogers!” entry.
JESSICA: Did you guys see the “Oh Boogers!” entry? They recreated the whole thing. Like they had a gymnast tumble and fall out of her back tuck and then the whole time the person filming is like, “She’s part of the Cherokee Nation and….”
JESSICA: It was so funny! Oh my God! I love these entries! These are some of the best things I’ve ever seen. So, all you guys have to do is imitate your favorite gymnast, or pose, or dance, or skill, or the face they make, or their makeup, or your favorite commentator and post it on Twitter or Instagram or Vine and tag us in it and put the #gymitation in it and you can win one of our fabulous shirts from P&G Championships, or USA Gymnastics. They’re women size medium. Or you can win chalk. You know about the chalk shortage. And this chalk may have probably almost not been touched because it’s still in the wrapper by Sam Mikulak or Danell Leyva or Jake “Toe Point” Dalton. So, you guys should really enter as soon as possible, because this is the last week. We announce the winners on next week’s episode. So, you have until the thirtieth. Be sure to get your entries in!
UNCLE TIM: And if I may add in a suggestion, I would love to see a gymitation of the Jessica O’Beirne wheeze-a-giggle.
UNCLE TIM: That would be fantastic.
JESSICA: Me too.
EVAN: This week’s coverage of Jesolo and NCAA Conference Championships is sponsored by TumblTrak. Now, many gymnasts think back to their days competing often. I know I do everyday. And there are a few things that were recurring themes for me. One of them was definitely TumblTrak. And one of them definitely could have been nagging pain. But, thanks to TumblTrak and all its benefits I was without that and just got all of the fun benefits as well as learning from TumblTrak as well. So, back when I was competing TumblTrak was really important because it was the era of the triple bounding sequence so I had the opportunity to train many, many, many multiple front layouts over and over and over again. Now TumblTrak offers you the opportunity to feel something that is pretty crucial to a gymnast. And it allows you to feel and wait for the bounce of the trampoline, which then you can take onto the floor and it let’s you wait for the bounce of the floor. So, often gymnasts just rush, rush, rush, and that’s when you see knees buckle or botched tumbling passes because they don’t know how to use, wait, and be patient. So for me, TumblTrak taught me to be patient and wait because you know from the time I was eight-years-old I was ready, ready, ready, ready, ready, ready to go. Whatever I needed to do, I wanted to do it so fast. So TumblTrak and it’s kind of repetitive nature, allowed me to slow down and allowed me feel that bounce of the trampoline and them take that onto the floor, and feel the bounce of the floor to use and do those skills so perfectly. So, remember, TumblTrak- do it again. Find them online T-U-M-B-L T-R-A-K. TumblTrak.
JESSICA: Let’s talk about, as they say, Città di Jesolo!
JESSICA: Uncle Tim, that’s your cue.
EVAN: To you, Uncle Tim.
UNCLE TIM: I thought there was going to be more coming after that. All right.
JESSICA: Città di Jesolo Trofeo! I shouldn’t say it like that. I don’t have the rest.
TIM: All right. Well…
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Done with that now.
UNCLE TIM: So let’s start with the Juniors- coming in first was Bailie Key in the all-around with a 58.25, Nia Dennis was second with a 56.3, and Norah Flatley was third with a 56.1. In the event finals Bailie Key won every event except for beam, which Norah Flatley won. And let’s start by talking about Bailie Key and her floor routine. Last year she had a really bad medley of Americana music. This year it’s completely different. She’s using Lindsey Sterling’s “Crystalize,” which is, I don’t know how to describe it, kind of a violin, dub-step piece, which sounds terrible when I describe it that way, but I actually like the music and I like the choreography. It’s a little heavy on the Nastia butt-shelf, but I do think that this suits her a little bit better. What do you think, Jess, as the most opinionated host on this show?
JESSICA: I love this routine! I think it’s the best part of- I mean you can tell it’s really choreographed- like it was really done well, and um, I think, and it has repetitive, a repetitive theme through the choreography. It’s not just poses. I really like the music. I feel like we’ve always seen her as like a cute little mighty might [SQUEAL], but this choreography brings her, it’s more mature. It brings her to a new level. I think it’s reminiscent of Kyla Ross, while doing the tumbling of a Aly Raisman, Simone Biles. So, and everything she does is so perfect. I really, really like this routine. I think it’s one of my favorite elite routines, which is shocking, because elite choreography is usually like wha-wha. So, I’m very pleased. Very pleased. Hats off to you Texas Dreams!
UNCLE TIM: O’Beirne stamp of approval. The other question with Bailie that I have, and I’d like to throw this to Evan, how do you pace Bailie for 2016? Obviously she’s winning like everything she enters. So, what would be your plan for pacing her?
EVAN: Um, basically, you just have to trust the process I guess. So, you know that might mean stepping away from some American Classic meets. I know, as important as it is, hopefully at this point Martha Karolyi knows what she’s seeing in front of her. So, I would say, you know for Bailie Key, it’s probably going to be not doing as many meets. Maybe the repetitions and the numbers come in the gym, and she’s verifying at camps, but you know some of those big competitions, and going to all of them, I just think that we need to, maybe scale her back from competition a little bit. Not necessarily Worlds and you know, Nationals and those large scale events, but you know if anything can be given to someone else, I would just, I say it’s numbers. Numbers in the competitive arena.
UNCLE TIM: Jessica is there anything you’d like to add to that?
JESSICA: Mmm, no, I mean I think that Texas Dreams is actually one of the gyms that has a very good record in terms of keeping their gymnasts healthy. I’d say one of the best records of all the elite programs. I’m trying to think of another gym that has had so many elites healthy consistently, and I can’t think of anyone. So I just think Kim knows what she’s doing, has learned from the past, and I’m not really worried about her pacing. She always looks healthy and she never looks over-trained or burnt out. So I think they’re on the right track there.
UNCLE TIM: K. And everyone in the world wants to talk about Norah Flatley. Everyone’s a little obsessed with her, and as I said she won beam at Jesolo. And unfortunately this beam routine is behind a pay wall at Gymnastike, so Jessica we need your most detailed description of this routine. How would you describe it?
JESSICA: Oh, well, let me tell you. So imagine the tumbling of a, and power of Shawn Johnson, but the grace of a, the grace of a Danusia Francis, with an occasional wrist problem a la Sam Peszek.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Or Memmel. There’s like one or two of the floppy wrists in there, Um, but, and put all of that together with the precision and packaging of a Chinese gymnast and difficulty and you have Norah Flatley. She is one of the best beam workers I’ve ever seen, even though she doesn’t have a roll so we don’t really know all of her skills.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: But, or a spin, but, she, I just, I can’t think of anyone who has that combination of power and difficulty and precision. She is so on on every skill. I mean she does it over and over and over and over. I mean every routine, whether it’s a competition or practice looks exactly the same. She’s incredible. She’s, I think she’ll be one of the greatest of all time. I would put her up there with Shannon Miller now. That’s how incredible she is. I can’t say enough good things about her. She’s just an all-time great. No matter what happens she will be an all-time great in my mind from now on.
UNCLE TIM: To add to your description I think I’d like to add maybe the back flexibility of Hollie Vise as well. She has some very similar moves. She does a chin stand and then she does one of those scales- in cheerleading they’re called a scorpion- but her scorpion is actually with a straight back leg. So when you kind of hold your foot up by your head, and in skating it would be called-what the Biellmann position? Anyway, so yeah, she is quite impressive. She is having a little trouble connecting her flight series, which is a front aerial, front aerial, into an aerial cartwheel, but that said it’s still quite impressive. And…
JESSICA: And she has her flip flop, flip flop, layout, sissone, sissone, which is like 1992 style 1996 style gorgeous, and high, and exceptional.
UNCLE TIM: Then in the senior competition we had Kyla Ross coming in first with a 58. Peyton Ernst was in second with a 57.65, and Maggie Nichols was in third with a 57.450. One of the big moments of the meet was when Kyla Ross balked on her first vault. Um, so she ran down, and then ran past the vaulting table, and she incurred a one-point deduction for that. So according to the rules a second run is permitted but you get a one-point deduction. And we talked about this a long time ago in one of our earliest episodes, but now that we’ve seen it happen what do you guys think? Is that fair? Not fair? Evan let’s start with you.
EVAN: I think at Jesolo it’s definitely fair. And you know I think the mentality of the U.S. was like, “And that’s okay, because we would like Kyla Ross to survive her vaults right now.” So if something is wrong, um, you know, Kyla’s kind of getting back into the swing of things, and I really think that’s really what the U.S. saw this meet as. Not necessarily a time to balk on your vaults, but to go out there and compete you know, to your fullest ability, but not be sacrificing anything or, um, pushing the envelope if you’re unsure. So I think that you know Kyla just went, if this was a World Championships or an Olympic Games I think it probably would have been a different story, um, but the rule is what it is. I mean, I’m not going to argue the rules that are in place. Do I feel like it’s necessarily the most conducive to what the FIG wants to promote? I don’t know what the FIG wants to promote, but it’s just like, “Let’s just give the gymnasts motorcycles and have them like punch each other before vault and then it will be awesome, won’t it?” Like, “Oh, don’t stand in the corner!” So…
EVAN: You know I think it fits into this weird scheme of things that they’re trying to figure out, hopefully it trickles down and we just see some normalcy, but I’m okay with Kyla taking the one-point. Obviously it worked out for her.
JESSICA: It’s an outrage! The FIG should be ashamed of themselves! There’s, this is encouraging, I mean thank God the gymnasts give two craps about this. They’re going to keep themselves safe first. But imagine if it’s like a team that this is a huge deal for them and they’re like, “You can’t ever balk!” I mean hopefully no gymnast would ever go for it. Like who, just didn’t Oleg Vernaiev just do this and he went for it anyway and almost killed himself?
UNCLE TIM: He didn’t almost kill himself. He just went for a very simple vault. But…
UNCLE TIM: he probably knew that if he balked he would incur a one-point deduction.
JESSICA: Well that’s the thing. So is Kyla Ross just going to do a Yurchenko layout? I mean, pshh, no. I mean you can’t, you can’t just go for a Yurchenko layout, because you’re feet are off, that’s way too dangerous. I hate this rule! It’s stupid! I feel exactly the way I did about it when it first started and we had this whole debate. It’s outrageous to ever give someone a deduction for balking at something. Like, safety first FIG! Please!
UNCLE TIM: So to play devil’s advocate, here. Don’t you think that elite gymnasts should be to the point to where they don’t mess up their steps though? Shouldn’t that be one of the basic characteristics of an elite gymnast?
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
EVAN: To counter your devil’s advocacy, shouldn’t the FIG and its officials be able to, let’s say, set the vault correctly? Hmm that’s happened. Or put the tape measure in an accurate spot? Or make sure that those things are done? You know, I think the responsibility is with the gymnast and also with the officiates of the meet and, you know, the organizers. So, there’s a lot of things that can actually happen. So, I see, I see the other side of that.
JESSICA: And the other things is, you know, in addition to what Evan’s just talking about, we’ve had situations where a giant butterfly has landed in the middle of the floor. Like, what if this kind of stuff happens? Like or if you think that someone is like running into your side view, which is what, who- okay Jeopardy, ready? Okay, say, [buzzer noise], when you guess what I’m talking about. The Chinese gymnast at the Goodwill Games in 1998 who broke her neck doing a handspring front, and she saw someone coming into her peripheral vision, and so she kind of balked, and so she ended up landing, and she sued like Time Warner or something?
EVAN: Sang Lan?
JESSICA: Thank you.
EVAN: [LAUGHS] Okay.
JESSICA: Thank you. You win this round. You forgot to say, “Who is,” but that’s okay. You know when that kind of, this things happen that are out of the gymnast’s control, and so just like Evan says, I think it’s so so important to give the gymnasts the confidence to do what’s the safest for them no matter what happens. So this whole one point thing [fart noise] I mean I wonder what happened why they decided to do this? Was there a meet where everyone just ran down half way and then like stuck their tongue out and walked back? I mean why, why do this ridiculous rule?
UNCLE TIM: That was only in Stick It.
EVAN: That was the great bra-strap revolution of 2006.
UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. I can’t understand that, and I always wonder where some of these rules come from, but we will never know. Maybe one day there will be like an oral history of the FIG or something.
JESSICA: Unless someone who has the answer writes into the show and tells us exactly what happened, and who brought this up, and who voted for it. Write to us.
EVAN: First rule of FIG Fight Club- don’t talk about FIG Fight Club.
JESSICA: We’ll keep you anonymous.
UNCLE TIM: All right, well moving on, one of the gymnasts who kind of had a little bit of a rough year last year was Madison Kocian and she ended up winning the bars at the 2014 Jesolo competition. Um, I know that we watched the routine, and my question for you guys is, is there such a thing as too much stalder work? Jessica!
JESSICA: Not when she does it!
JESSICA: When the Chinese men overdo it on high bar, yes. When she does it, no, it’s too beautiful. I’m totally fine with it. And it’s so hard that you don’t see it a lot. It’s not like the entire team is doing it like the Chinese men- and you know this was years ago, they’re not doing this anymore I don’t think. But, yeah, it makes her stand out and she’s just gorgeous.
EVAN: Yeah, I think, I agree. I think she’s found kind of her niche on uneven bars, and she does skills that definitely work for her and just happen to give her a lot of bonus points. I think the last combination, kind of right before her dismount, where it’s like stalder half, stalder, stalder half, you’re like, “Oh, hey, oh, what, hey,”
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
EVAN: I think that’s where it becomes a bit obsessive to the eye, but if she’s executing it, and she’s executing it pretty well. I think there’s still a few degrees of handstands that can be tightened up a bit. Obviously you’re doing those type of half pirouettes you’re kind of opening the door pretty wide. Um, but, more power to her for constructing a routine that just kind of works for her. You know, if, you know I think in 96 if we were having this conversation, A. I would be eight, and we would be looking at Amy Chow and being like, “Oh she just does all that stuff on the low bar and even though it’s cool she just does it and then she’s just all of a sudden good.” But she had legit other skills in that routine too. So, I’m saying Kocian is a little bit Chow, a little bit Kocian, a little Cho-cian.
UNCLE TIM: A little what was the first one?
UNCLE TIM: Chow though?
EVAN: Yeah Chow. Amy Chow.
UNCLE TIM: Oh gotcha, sorry I was thinking of Chow’s Gymnastics.
UNCLE TIM: And I was like that’s not her coach I’m so confused. K. Total airhead moment for me. Um, what do you think of the transition, based entirely on this one routine, of the transition from um, Valeri to Laurent Landi. Do we think that based on this one routine things are looking good?
JESSICA: Yep. And we all got to see Laurence Landi more so everybody wins!
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
EVAN: Did you just say “Laurence Landi?”
JESSICA: Yes, I did. [LAUGHS]
EVAN: You’re making him sound like a tuba player in like the seventh grade band.
JESSICA: [in a French accent] Laurent Landi.
EVAN: [in a French accent] Laurent.
UNCLE TIM: There we go.
EVAN: I think that obviously WOGA isn’t going to bring anybody on. And I think it’s kind of a credit to their program where you can kind of, hypothetically, I’m just thinking that if I were at WOGA, and you’re working with Valeri, and maybe you’re having to a transition or things aren’t maybe working out that well. You have another coach of that caliber who’s maybe able to approach things differently and maybe tailor his coaching style to be more conducive to what you need. And I think that’s what, a product of what we’re seeing here. Kocian looks um, to be in really good shape. Obviously we talked about the skills that she’s found that she’s very good at and can execute really well too. So, I’m thinking, good with Laurent.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
EVAN: [in a French accent] Vive Laurent!
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Nice. I’m so glad you guys have outstanding French accents because I do not. So thank you for that. Now moving on to the Italians…
JESSICA: You’re welcome.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS], moving on to the Italians, I I was quite impressed. The Italians were throwing some huge tumbling on floor. We had Erik Fasana- Erika Fasana- of Italy doing a double double, a tucked double double, and a double layout. And then we had Martina Rizelli throwing a big double layout as well. Jessica I know that you have many thoughts on Erika. Let ‘em all out.
JESSICA: [in an Italian accent] Erika Fasana. This is what I have to say about her. She is, probably should just, bars let’s skip it for her. Um, but, I feel like if you get like a 5 in execution maybe no on that event? Like that’s what I would get if I tried. Like I literally got 5’s on bars, like consistently throughout my gymnastics career, [LAUGHS] because I sucked so bad on bars, like horribly! Like I think the judges actually laughed when I was like, I don’t know I was like ten or something, like they were literally laughing during my routine, because it’s so bad. Um, her form just leaves something to be desired. So let’s just, you are amazing on other events, so let’s focus on those. Focus on the positive. Um, her floor, I love it! I really love it. She’s like a little Vanessa Ferrari, and I can’t get enough of Vanessa Ferrari on floor. She’s artistic, she’s expressive, she has crazy-ass tumbling. She does creative, innovative floor moves, which you know I love. Love it. Love it, love it, love it.
UNCLE TIM: To give our listeners some background to the bar comment she- first of all she did not get a 5- she got a 7.950…
JESSICA: Not low enough!
UNCLE TIME: in execution. [LAUGHS] But the crazy thing about her is the way she attempts to tap while she’s doing front giants. So as she’s going over the low bar- so she’s going forward, facing forward towards the low bar doing her front giants- and as she swings over the low bar she basically arches and straddles simultaneously. Most gymnasts if they’re tall they’ll pike, but she does a type of arch and it’s just weird. It feels like it’s slowing her down, slowing down her swing.
EVAN: Is this some Shayla Worley jazz where you know she had the front giant at the end of her routine and everyone was like, “Ew-oh! [sound of disgust] Why is that there?” Uh, cause you were like, “She’s just done like every release ever,” and then this weird, it was almost kind of like a jerky motion, like “Ooh we’re going forward and we’re going backwards and everything.” You know Shayla Worley just came to mind with wonky front giants. So…
JESSICA: No it’s like…
EVAN: Would we put Fasana in that category?
JESSICA: Worse! A hundred times worse.
UNCLE TIM: It is worse. Yeah.
JESSICA: Just like get up in your chair, squat down, put your hands over your head, and then stick your nipples out as far as you can, and that’s what they’re like.
EVAN: [SINGS] I’m your private dancer.
EVAN: [SINGS] I’m dancing for my money.
JESSICA: I just think she’s so good on other events, that it’s just, and clearly that’s not her thing, and I don’t see it going a lot of places because it’s a lack of basics or strength on that event, so…But I have a solution for this! Because you know I have a solution for everything. And my solution is, that you know in the U.S. you have to do compulsories to qualify elite? Well, um, I think that we should have all elites should have like, should have to go to like once to qualify elite, you should have to go to like an elite compulsory international meet and be judged by the international judges, and you should have to get a 9.8 in execution scores- only execution, that’s it- on like basic skills, like front giants, back giants, one release- a Tkatchev without flexed feet and bent knees- like stuff like that, and this would fix this problem. That’s my solution.
UNCLE TIM: Okay, and so if you don’t get a 9.8 are you not allowed to compete on that event ever in international competition?
JESSICA: You can try again next year.
UNCLE TIM: Okay. More O’Beirne rules. Um, so, speaking of a gymnast who may not have the best basics, um Mykayla Skinner, she won vault and floor. And I mean she did have success at this meet and I’m curious is this gymnast growing on you, is she not growing on you, what are your thoughts? Let’s start with you Jessica.
JESSICA: Well, she, I have to say to her coaches and to her, “Hats off to you.” You, her vaults, and her floor, continue to improve by leaps and bounds and that is incredibly impressive to see such big changes at this level. Normally people get to this level they’re pretty much doing the same thing, that, you know. I’m very impressed. Like I’m not a fan. It’s not my type of gymnastics, but um, damn that girl can tumble, and she vaulted with two hands. It’s, like it was incredible. I mean it’s not like the most beautiful Amanar you’ve ever seen in your life, but huge, huge change. So, kudos.
UNCLE TIM: The Cheng’s still a little one-handy, I mean, yeah, I was impressed just by the sheer amount of tricks she has up her sleeve. So on day one she did her double twisting double layout. Then she did a tucked double double. Then she did a double Arabian and fell on the double Arabian. Then in floor finals she changed the double Arabian to a full twisting double back. Just because, you know, who can’t just throw a full twisting double back in there? Whatever. So I was impressed with that. Um, one place that still drives me a little bit crazy is on beam she is not able to do a back handspring step out with her legs straight. It’s very- ooh 1998- Chelle Stack-esque. Chelle was not very good at keeping her legs straight on step out skills. And so if there were a way for Mykayla to take the back handspring step out from of her routine I think her beam routine would be much better as well. So, to move on let’s talk about Flayg-ageddon. Oh sorry that was my Wisconsin accent coming out.
JESSICA: I was like, “What?”
UNCLE TIM: Flag-aggedon.
EVAN: Put the flayg in the bayg.
UNCLE TIM: Exactly. So, so there’s this photo that on the USA Gymnastics Facebook page. And it had the U.S. flag on the floor, and the coaches were standing around it, and one coach was also standing on top of it. And a lot of people were very upset about this. And Evan I know that you have some thoughts on this.
UNCLE TIM: Is this a legitimate, is this a legitimate concern? What’s going on?
EVAN: I do have some opinions on this. I want to preface this by saying that I love America. I really do. I love America. I think there’s some context missing here. I don’t think that it was a matter of like Kim Zmeskal and Bailie Key being like, “Oh hey this flag is hanging up. It’ll look so much better on the ground. Like you stand on the corner of it. We’ll gather around.” I do not think that is what happened, and I think that is how people are reacting. Is it unfortunate that an American icon was on the floor and that’s disrespectful in America? Yes. Were they in America? No. So you don’t know what’s customary, um, and honestly if we’re looking at flags as something sacred, something to be respected, shouldn’t all nations flags get the same respect? Would we be responding the same if this was a Spanish flag or a Japanese flag on the ground? So, I think that people are taking it a bit far. Was it necessarily avoidable? Probably yes. Could someone have been you know like, “Eh let’s, you know, hold it up or something?” But we also don’t know if- Jessica, give us your best Italian photographer hurrying people along.
JESSICA: [in an Italian accent] Ah, get in the line [inaudible/mumbles] Cittàdi Jesolo!
EVAN: Right! There’s yelling. There’s happiness. There’s a bunch of things going on, probably a lot more of- you know imagine ten Italian Jessica’s probably, you know, directing traffic around. So, unfortunately, I want to say that people probably didn’t have time to react. Am I making excuses for them? Yes. Do I feel like if it was like, “Stupid Americans we’re going to put your flag on the floor and we’re going to take your stupid, dumb picture in front of it. Look at that,” I think that would be a different story. It’s not the case. Worse thing have happened. Is it unfortunate? Totally, yes. Do I love America? Totally, yes. Not a big deal.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] I have nothing to add to that.
UNCLE TIM: Jessica?
JESSICA: Perfectly said.
UNCLE TIM: All right, so let’s move on then to the most recent announcement for Team USA. They announced their female gymnasts who will be competing at the Pac Rim competition. We have Elizabeth Price, Kyla Ross, and Simone Biles for the seniors. And then for the junior we have Bailie Key, Nia Dennis, and Norah Flatley. Were there any surprises there for you guys?
EVAN: I mean I think that you know Kyla, Ebee, and Simone have all kind of had these little injuries obviously that have held them back a bit. So I was surprised to see all three of them out there. Um, but, at one point or another they probably want to get some experience before Championship season hits. So I think it’s a strong statement by the U.S. to, you know, feel confident and obviously feel that these three seniors are the most prepared. Um, I feel like they’re probably three of the top five or six, you know, at most, probably in the country right now. And I always just get super excited, because these are the meets in you know these off-quadrennium years that you’re like, “Which juniors are going to come up? Who do they like the most? Who are they giving assignments to?” I was not really surprised. I think Nia Dennis is you know, a Tasha Schwikert-esque favorite of Martha Karolyi, or as Tasha was for Bela Karolyi. So I think that her skills, they just have that, she has that international look, international line, and I think they really want to get her more consistent on the international stage. So, this is probably a test for Nia. Um, she’s going to be a senior next season- I’m nodding- is anyone else nodding- yes?
JESSICA: We’ll go with that.
EVAN: All right. Um, so, it’s kind of her last test as a junior. I remember Rebecca Bross went to the 07- what is that meet?- Pan American Games, as a junior and was competing with all those seniors, and that was a really big foreshadowing of what she was going to do and how much confidence the U.S. had in her in the early part of the 09 quadrennium. So, good, I like this team. I like it a lot.
JESSICA: Uncle Tim what do you think?
UNCLE TIM: I just want to give Lauren Hopkins credit because she said that Martha was going to stack this team, and I definitely think she did. Um, I know that someone on our Facebook page was a little confused why Brenna Dowell wasn’t given this assignment, but I mean, you have the World Champion on this team, you have the silver medalist, and then you also have the 2014 American Cup Champion, and if you want to stack the team I think you stack the team correctly. So, I mean I am curious to see if this team will change at all, just because, sometimes, the U.S. team changes quite frequently. So, we’ll see what happens. I’m looking forward to watching this meet, definitely, and I’m curious to see if Bailie Key will continue to trounce all the juniors out there.
JESSICA: And also, Brenna Dowell didn’t really prove herself at American Cup. It was a pretty shaky meet for her. She did a good job, but I think these kids all just prove themselves very well.
JESSICA: Let’s discuss the NCAA Conference Championships. Um, there were a bunch of these, so we’re just going to talk about the ones where there were upsets, or there was controversy, or something special, an extra special performance. So, to give you guys a little background, these are more than just for bragging rights for who’s the Conference Championship- the Conference Champion. They actually, your scores count towards your Regional Qualifying Score, which then decides how you’re going to be seeded going into Nationals, um, for your Regional meet, and then you have to qualify the top two from that to go to Nationals. So, they still mean something even though a lot of people think they’re just for bragging rights, which they are of course. So, um, first thing, Pac-12’s. Let’s discuss. Utah won with a 197.925. That’s almost an SEC-style scoring there. Um, or I shouldn’t just be saying SEC because Oklahoma has been getting 198’s too this season. So, Stanford came in second with a 197.925 as well. Stanford killed it. They looked amazing. And do you know why Evan? Do you know why they are so fantastic?
EVAN: Tell me please.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] My McNair twins. My McNair twins were fabulous. Well, Danielle didn’t do so great on vault. She landed on her butt, but she did a really hard vault so that’s okay. Um, they had like, they just were on fire, and they have the most fantastic bar lineup ever. They have Sam Shapiro, they have Vaculik, who’s just a whole different gymnast this year, and they have of course Nicolette McNair who is absolute perfection. They have, like, the whole lineup has like Jake Dalton toe point. Like my feet were cramping after I watched them…
JESSICA: They are so beautiful. I just can’t get enough of them on bars. They are just, they’re like Ivana Hong just like injected her essence into the whole lineup. It’s just [GASPS] so beautiful. So they totally earned that, and I am very excited for them, even though they stand around too long in their floor routines. But, um, the story of this competition is Cal.
JESSICA: UC Berkeley- we knew they came to play when they came with white, metallic, backless, leos this year to start the season with. That’s when you know you’re in it to win it, because if you have any doubts you cannot wear a white, metallic leo. So they were just fantastic. They had a great meet. They have great difficulty. They have a Bhardwaj, which I spelled wrong, on Twitter and Scott Bregman corrected me. He’s forever correcting my spelling. [LAUGHS] Thank you, Scott Bregman. Yes, but now I know how to spell it. So he’s a great teacher. Oh it’s also their tall gymnast. I think she’s 5’7’’ who does the Bhardwaj on bars. So there you go another tall gymnast shout-out. They, Cal was just incredible. You know, Cal, the program was cut a couple years ago. They had to get all of these alumni and fans together to raise a whole bunch of money. They had to save women’s sports along with men’s sports in order to get the program saved. They have had three different coaches in four years. And they’re amazing. Amazing! The gymnasts they recruited, the level of gymnastics, it’s so clean. That’s what they’re winning with. They’re winning with this difficult, clean, clean, clean, no deductions routines. They were fantastic. They were absolutely the story of the meet. So happy for that program. It’s great to see that Berkeley’s back. You know they used to have a good team and then for years it’s just like, “What’s going on over there?” It was just bad news for a long time. So happy for those coaches and so happy for those gymnasts. Cal really deserves to have a great program. So, of course the upset of the meet was UCLA came in fourth.
JESSICA: And was beaten by Cal. I know. I know.
EVAN: Collective gasps. Collective gasps.
JESSICA. Shocking! Yes. That Cal beat UCLA- Cal who has basically not had like a program for like ten years beat UCLA. So, um, the one controversy I have to say- they only beat UCLA by a quarter of a tenth, but Danusia Francis got an out-of-bounds on her two and a half, last pass on floor. You can clearly see that she was not out of bounds. I even videotaped it and looked at it again and again from my TV. She’s totally not out of bounds. It’s on her Instagram. In fact, everybody should go to her Instagram right now and follow along, because basically everything we’re going to talk about I’ve put a video above- the bloopers, the falls, the great routines- everything’s on our Instagram. It’s like the best highlight reel ever. So check that out. Um, so if she hadn’t gotten the out of bounds, UCLA would have placed third. I mean still not a great score for UCLA. They had a really tough meet. They definitely did not live up to their capability. Um, but there were some, so there were some standout performances. Let’s start with the problems first. Hallie Mossett, you know she’s from the same gym as McKayla Maroney from AOGC.
EVAN: Yeah. At one point ,yes.
JESSICA: At one point, right, and then she left. That’s where she started. It’s kind of where she got her basics and her artistry from and then she left and, you know, went to a different program and had a lot of injuries, had a really bad car accident, and all this stuff, and finally came back- ACL, hip injury, lots of stuff. So, she has tons of restrictions on the gymnastics she can do. She has a stalder in her routine and she just hit her foot on when she was doing her stalder and just, her hands came off and she was upside down, and she fell “Whap!” flat onto her back. Luckily she’s okay, so we can laugh about it [LAUGHS], because it looked really funny. She’s fine.
EVAN: Um, but, search the Gymcastic archives, one Evan Heiter, early on in this season, called that stalder out, and it was not looking good, even in the early stages. It’s almost like she’s tentative on it or you know she just has no other skill options, but unfortunately, it’s never been really great for her.
JESSICA: You’re totally right. It’s the only skill in that routine that drives me nuts every time. I just want to be like, “Straighten your arms! Straighten your arms! Straighten your arms! Straighten your arms!” Yeah, it’s one of those things like if you can’t be doing a stalder with straight arms, you shouldn’t be doing it, because you don’t have the power going into it. It drives me nuts.
JESSICA: Yeah. So this was bound to happen is basically what Evan’s saying, and just nicking her foot on the bar made it happen sooner. The other tragedy, travesty, injustice of the meet. Do you know what I’m going to say Evan?
EVAN: I think I know.
JESSICA: Sam Peszek was once again robbed of a 10. Yes robbed. Robbed, robbed, robbed. Do you know, you couldn’t see, I can’t find a place where they had all four scores online, but the people that were at the meet told me that one judge gave the routine a 9.85 and another judge gave the routine a 10. There were four judges, so she ended up with a 9.925. But seriously, how is that even possible? What? What? If this was the FIG they would have a system, this would, ugh. At least this is the one thing I like about the FIG, they have real control over the judging, but this is, I can’t stand it! I can’t stand it! It’s making me so angry, like I feel a headache coming on right now. I would be so pissed if I was Sam Peszek. I’m sure she’s totally pissed. I just don’t understand this. It’s, ugh…
EVAN: It is a bummer, but more so I think that um, somebody needs to call up Crest when Sam is done with her eligibility, whenever that happens, and just be like, “All right. Do you need a commercial on a balance beam?” because she can literally smile upside down, jumping, spinning, turning, landing, whatever. Um, so, call Sam up, because she’s ready. She just looks so confident on beam, and one of the quotes that I’ve actually seen pretty regularly in gymnastics is, “Confidence is knowing the outcome before it even happens,” and when Peszek gets on beam I’m just like [SNAPS], this is me snapping, because it is true. It is true. She just knows.
JESSICA: Yep. Absolutely. It just, ugh, she’s a dream on beam. She’s like a Norah Flatley but 1,000 times more confident…and with brighter teeth. So then we go on to Risa Perez of Arizona State. We talked about her earlier in this season, because she’s a dancer and she does all the dance moves that I don’t know the name of, but they’re things that you would see on like So You Think You Can Dance, and she is, she should get, first of all, a bonus because she dances her ass of the entire time- ooh unlike Stanford who just stand there. Like you can have one dramatic pause in your routine. That’s totally fine, but like every single person has like three times where they just stop, and like, gaze longingly at the judges, and then look away. Like seriously? That should be, if you stand still too much you should get a deduction- an artistry deduction. Then we have Risa Perez who’s like dancing her ass off, like that takes so much more conditioning than just standing there. So she needs a bonus for her artistry on beam and on floor. Check out our Instagram- we have videos of her. And Evan what do you think of her?
EVAN: Uh, Risa Perez- so I really like the routine as a whole- right after the last pass this techno-y song comes on, and she basically like puts her leg up, and then folds her body in half, and does a side leap. It just makes me want to like, dance with my arms above my head with no shirt and cut off jean shorts…
EVAN: and just like, go with the flow. And just be like, “Risa, my girl!”
EVAN: Cause it is that good. And it is literally like ten seconds of the routine, but I have true confessions: definitely YouTubed that routine, definitely watched that part over and over again, because I’m just like [HUMS]. And it’s awesome. It’s awesome. That is what NCAA gymnastics is about, because, truth be told, Risa is a phenomenal gymnast, but unfortunately just not at that like, national championship caliber level. But to find those nuances in routines like that, that I can latch onto and be like, “I love this! I’m going to watch it!” and it’s not from one of the, you know, huge name school, huge name athletes, it’s great.
JESSICA: Or as Kelly Garrison has said in interviews, “She may not have won the meet, but she always won the crowd.” She felt like she always won the crowd. Risa Perez won the crowd at that meet. And you mentioned nuances. I saw something at this meet I have never seen. I’ve seen comedy routines. I have seen like dramatic like people practically crying during their routines- I have never seen anything like this. University of Arizona has a gymnast named Kristin Klarenback, she did like a haunted house, horror themed routine. Like the floor routine is so, she starts out, it’s like a creepy doll that comes to life, but it’s like sort of Frankensten-ish. And then there’s like haunted house music and crows in the background. Like what’s more creepy than crows? And it’s the weirdest routine I’ve ever seen. And it’s actually pretty, it’s just- I mean, you want to make yourself standout- she did it! I have noticed you Kristen Klarinback! You’re a badass. I’m afraid of you. She…
EVAN: And she does a huge double Arabian…
EVAN: on top of that. So, she was on my fantasy gymnastics team. So I knew something was up with Kristin Klarenback. And I believe she’s actually Canadian as well.
EVAN: So, one of those import products.
JESSICA: We love them.
EVAN: Yeah. It’s kind of like, like you said, remember when Jamie Dantzscher and Morgan White used that “My Drag” song…
EVAN: and everyone was like, I felt like the whole arena just kind of looked over and was like, “What is this?” It was like, kind of weird, kind of just off a little bit, but it worked and it was so different. So that’s kind of the vibe I got from this. It was cool.
JESSICA: I love seeing something different, so good for her for standing out and just having beautiful gymnastics. She’s incredible. I think she’s a tall one too. I have to look it up. I think she’s one of the 5’6’’-5’7’’ range. Um, so Utah the champions, great meet for them. Well deserved, absolutely. Of course, I am partial to Stanford. I think they should have won just for their toe point, and because they have the McNair’s, who you know are perfect. Um, Dabritz got a 10 for her gorgeous bar routine. I mean, you know, no grips, so she’s proof that grips are for suckaz. That’s what she has proven. And Utah, they won this on floor. They averaged above a 9.9, and it was absolutely deserved. So this could be the year that they are up there in the top, finally, again. So, let’s…
EVAN: Utah, they came to play. And this was actually the first time in a few years that I’m like, you know I always know Utah is in the mix but, this performance at Pac-12’s I was like, “Oh damn.” They’ve figured some stuff out, because it was a little bit of their home scoring, it was a little bit their routine composition that was just holding them back in the last few years, and I feel like, I felt like it was no surprise to me. I was like yeah Utah, they’re just not there. They do good gymnastics, but they’re just not there. This year I feel like they’re knocking on the door, and they’re hungry.
JESSICA: And they’re vaulting too, I have to mention, is huge! Like, they, you know people have like good vaults and they land, you know, within, they could reach an arm out and touch the vaulting, the vaulting table– um, as I learned that’s called tonight. Utah’s they have so much power. Whatever their training system is for learning how to run really fast and have booty-rockets, they are landing like at the end of the mat. They’re, they have so much power. Their vaulting stands apart from everyone else because of their power. It’s awesome to watch. So, I’m excited to see them. I want a Pac-10, Pac-12 team to just crush it! So let’s talk about your Wolverines.
EVAN: [SIGHS] They are my wolverines, and remember, I’ve given this disclaimer before, and if you think that I’m not going to talk about Michigan just because I went there, they’re going to have to stop doing such awesome stuff- like winning Big-10s in such amazing fashion. So, a little pre-story before this Big-10 meet: Last week was the seeding meet that the Big-10 is having this year. So they had two separate quad meets with the eight teams that represent the Big-10 schools, and basically, that meet served as, you know, the top four finishers will be in the evening session, the last four finishers would be in the earlier session. Obviously, you want to be at night. Hello. You saw Cal use that to their advantage, way, way advantage, at Pac-12’s, but kind of a different story there. So, Michigan counted a 48.075 on beam at this Big-10 quad meet, which is like “Uh no. Ugh no, no, no.” So they found themselves in this early session, which last year they were also in the early session and they watched Nebraska run away with the thing and they were like, “We can’t do anything. We’re just in the morning session.” So they’ve had things stacked against them, but they’ve had an amazing season. They’ve put up really, really high 197 scores, and they definitely have the potential to do this. Well, they did the damn thing. They did it in such fine fashion. They closed with a 49.7 on floor exercise, capped off with defending NCAA Floor Champion Joanna Sampson getting a sob-inducing 10.0. She was crying…
EVAN: which I love, because that’s such a climactic event- last event, last gymnast, 10.0. And to see it, that emotion manifest itself, and her to be that emotional, was awesome! Oh my God! I’m crying right now, no I’m…but it was great to see Joanna and the team really come together, because, you know, that’s really a big differentiator. That Big-10 quad meet last weekend was at Michigan. They were competing in their home arena. So imagine the work mentally that it took for them to rally and be like, “First session. Whatever. It’s a hair flip. We’ve got this.”
EVAN: And they did it. So, one other thing that I want to call out, is, again, Evan’s foreshadowing. Nicole Artz who is a freshman at Michigan. She is the Big-10 Freshman of the Year. And I called her out. I was like, “This girl’s going to do big things.” She is one of the few athletes- and this is why she’s such an addition to the Michigan team- is that she can lead off beam, floor, and even bars, with a 9.9. Like a legit, deserving 9.9, and set the table that well. So, big props to her. Big props to Michigan as a team in general. They really, really rallied and they definitely played to their strengths. I mean, you know, they just wanted to stay on beam. They definitely had skills there. Talia Chiarelli, former Canadian National Team Member, also trained at Brestyan’s with Aly Raisman and Alicia Sacramone. She stuck her double tuck dismount off beam at Big-10’s. So great to see in her freshman campaign. So, remember, this all happened in the morning session. So then they were forced to watch. It was like Australia watching Esther Moya…
EVAN: try her vaults for the team finals in Sydney, and Esther Moya did it. So, a little bit of a flip this time around, but Emily Wong, you know, our beloved, we, you love you some Emily Wong…
JESSICA: Everyone loves her.
EVAN: from Nebraska.
JESSICA: Must love her.
EVAN: Right. Such a great story, competing really in remembrance of her late father, who is such a supporter of her and the gymnastics program at Nebraska. He unfortunately passed away. So, you always want to see a story like that kind of accomplish great things. Well Emily, unfortunately didn’t have the best meet on bars- took a fall there- but 10 on floor. Another 10, on floor, from Emily Wong. So, Nebraska had kind of a rough meet, but they still finished second to Michigan, um, with a very comparable score. So, um, I think that the thing about Big-10’s- you know you’re saying you want someone Pac-12 to really blow it out of the water. I really want someone Big-10 to blow it out of the water. And I think the good thing about Big 10’s, none of these teams were perfect, by any means. None of these teams were at full steam. None of these teams were meeting their full potential, and you’re going to be like, “All right. We’ve peaked. That’s it.” So, I think that you know, a ton of great things can continue to happen through Regionals for these Big-10 teams. But, just when you think that they’re finished, and stopping, they didn’t. Lindsey Mable, who we talked about so much…
EVAN: early on…
EVAN: Yes! Lindsey Mable! Remember she got a 10 thrown- was it their first meet of the year?
EVAN: It was a 9.95 and a 10 and she ended up with a 9.975, cause everyone was like, “Time out.” Even me I was like, “Time out. What? What? What?” And the thing about Lindsey is…
JESSICA: And she’s only a sophomore! [SQUEALS]
EVAN: Right! The thing about Lindsey Mable that, I think, I’ve pinpointed what I really enjoy about her, and it’s her shapes. It’s the shape of all her skills. And, if you don’t know what I mean by shapes, it’s the true layout position. It’s not just enough to do a really archy layout where it might look a little flashy, or you know, kind of a tentative layout where her hips or her shoulders are a bit closed. She uses her whole body to extend itself and create that open position. And what that does, is it puts you in the perfect position in the air, perfect position when you land. You know what happens when you do that on a Yurchenko full on vault Lindsey Mable? I think you do. You get a 10. So it was awesome to see Lindsey Mable be rewarded with a 10. I’ve seen a video of it. It was legit 10.
JESSICA: It was. I like screamed and screamed at the TV. And I was like, “If she doesn’t get a 10 I’m going to have to punch someone in the face! [angry mumbles]” And then they gave her a 10 and it was almost like anticlimactic. So I was like, “Oh. They gave her the right score. All right. I can move on.”
EVAN: It happened. Yeah not only did she get a 10, but she went 39.65 in the all-around. And she won! So great for Lindsey Mable. Minnesota was kind of struggling with some, some recent injuries, but not really injuries, just kind of resting them a little bit. So they weren’t at full strength. So that brings me to my next point, which is, um, you know, Regional assignments. So, um, Illinois, is also in the Big-10, also kind of struggled a bit. We saw Amber See who does that front handspring tucked front full on vault, she fell on that on vault.
JESSICA: Aw I was so bummed!
EVAN: Which was such a bummer. Such a bummer, because it’s so beautiful and she’s really mastered that technique. Um, so Regionals now. Minnesota and Illinois are at the same regional. But, Minnesota is hosting, but Illinois is the second seed. So, I feel like some stuff could happen there. Everyone always wants these regional shakeups, and I think this might be the year.
EVAN: We are already living in a mad, mad, mad, March in terms of athletics. Like queue up the music [inaudieble], because it’s happening. This is real life. So you know, a lot of these Regionals, a lot of these second teams, even some of the third seeded teams, there’s no guarantees here. I do want to say that probably a lot of the first seeded teams in these Regionals should be feeling pretty comfortable, and I think it’s just really that their gymnastics is at another level and the judges are really able to see and appreciate and reward that. So I think it’s those two, three, four teams, that, you know, if they have their best day, and maybe somebody ahead of them does not, the doors are open. They are unlocked. There is no locks on these doors for Regionals.
EVAN: Um, so it’ll be really interesting to see. One though, I am rather sad to see that two Big-10 teams, Iowa and Michigan State, didn’t even qualify two full teams to Regionals. I know, stuff happens throughout the season, but when you’re in a conference like the Big-10, I mean at this Big-10 quad meet, all of a sudden Michigan State was scoring over 196. So it’s like, okay, I know that it takes some schools a bit to get rolling, but when you’re in a conference with the tradition, the expectation of the Big-10, you know, it’s disappointing to see that those teams are having to go into the post-season without their full lineups out there, without having, you know, they’re just individual competitors at Regionals. Um, do you want to talk about Big-12’s and the SEC’s? We’re kind of neglecting those, but remember…
EVAN: You know…
JESSICA: You’re going to hear a ton about them. You’re going to hear a ton about them as we get closer, so you know, you will not, we will not be missing anything soon. Oklahoma won the Big-12’s with a 198. They smoked everyone. They’re just on fire again this year. And you know this year might be another year again where we’re like, “Oklahoma! This could be their year!” We could have a sixth team actually break into the NCAA Championship Club. Alabama won at SEC’s. A nail-biter. It came down to the last event. They won with a 197.875. It’s interesting because they beat number one Florida, and um, they, actually Utah had a higher score than Alabama, winning at Pac-12’s. So- I’m right about that right? I’m checking again because you know how I am with the numbers…
JESSICA: Yes! So- Pac-12!- it will be really interesting. Let’s talk about Regionals really quick, because I just want to know who you think- so really quickly, Regionals is the first round of National Championships. So everybody gets the top eighteen teams, and then the top five all-around competitors who don’t have a team, and then one event specialist, which is a bunch of hoo-y, it should be more event specialists than that, gets sent to one of six Regionals and you have to be in the top two teams to qualify to Nationals. So, um, I want to know who you think- you’ve already mentioned Oklahoma and Illinois, the top two seeds in that one, at Minnesota. I think Minnesota could go.
JESSICA: I think they’re going to go and beat Illinois. That’s my prediction. I agree with you there. What other one region do you think is the least guaranteed? What second seed team in that region is most at risk of not making it and being trumped by, you know, another team to not qualify to Nationals.
EVAN: You’re not going to like this.
EVAN: [LAUGHS] Unfortunately I think it’s the Fayetteville regional, where we see Arkansas squaring off against UCLA, and, there’s some reasoning here. First and foremost, SEC Gymnast of the Year Katherine Grable, who you know I luh her. I luh her. I don’t even love her, I luh her. She’s my gymnastics boo-thang, and she has been carrying that team, really all season, so props to her for getting that accolade, SEC Gymnast of the Year, because that’s phenomenal, a phenomenal honor, especially with the depth and prowess of individual athletes within the SEC. But, Arkansas is going to be competing at home. They’re coming off of a lackluster performance SEC’s. SEC schools, as we know, really like competing at home, really compete usually better at home, and I think Arkansas, you know- I believe they’re seventeenth seeded going into Regionals- and I’m not really sure that’s reflective. I know that they have some rough spots, but if they put together a great meet, and UCLA has some hiccups, that one could be real, real interesting. Do you agree with that? I know…
EVAN: I know you’re doing an eight clamp over there. Tearing up a little bit
JESSICA: Oh my gosh. I’m, I, I know UCLA is going to bring it together and they’re going to be fine. But let me just, let me just give you some historical perspective here on this. The last time that UCLA went to Arkansas for their regional, um, I’m pretty sure that it was in Arkansas, they failed to qualify. I think it was 2006 or 2007. They did not qualify to Nationals for the first time in like a hundred years, and Arkansas qualified for the very first time, and the program had only been in existence for four years. So the very first freshmen in the program then qualified as seniors. And I’m like, “Oh my God. This cannot be the same exact scenario again!” But, I know they’re going to be fine. They’re going to be fine. They just have to get, you know, as you said at the beginning of the season, UCLA, they’re like a phoenix. They just rise slowly from the flames, and then they conquer! So…
JESSICA: I’m not worried.
EVAN: Okay. All right. We’ll see. And this is kind of the beauty of Regionals. You know I talked a bit about this kind of phenomenon in NCAA gymnastics earlier on, and it really for me comes down to, you have to hit on the day when the meet is. And that’s what, you know, we were talking about this regular season All-American, and I’m like that’s all well and good. That’s great.
EVAN: Give these gymnasts the awards that they deserve, but there’s no regular season team award…
EVAN: for being really consistent and good sometimes more than not. So, this is what gymnastics is about, in my, in my view, and I think that the teams that want it the most and really rise to the occasion are seen at Nationals. Remember when Kent State at a regional in Ann Arbor…
EVAN: Kent State entered the last rotation like in a virtual like seventeen-way tie for third place and could capitalize and get the final spot, to qualify to Nationals. And they drop-kicked somebody in the throat and made sure that they got to Nationals, which they were hosting. And that is what that is about. Those athletes. Is Kent State…[struggles to find a word]
EVAN: What did anyone expect from Kent State at that meet?
EVAN: You just heard me like try and make words. I couldn’t even make words about Kent State there.
JESSICA: I think if you guys can go to Regionals, absolutely try. I think Regionals are actually, sometimes even more exciting than Nationals, because crazy [NOISE] happens. It’s…
JESSICA: Do or die. That’s it! You think you’re going to Nationals and it’s the last meet of your season. That’s what happens.
EVAN: Well and a lot of times too, it’s- I hate to look at it this way- it could be the end of some careers. You know, you might go into Regionals thinking “Oh, whatever. You know, Nationals is in the back of my pocket.” There have been some amazing gymnasts who have failed to qualify, even as individuals, because their teammates are faltering and they can’t get those high scores through the progression in the lineup. So, there’s a lot at stake at Regionals. And I am going to a Regional!
JESSICA: [GASPS] Awesome. Awesome, awesome, awesome.
EVAN: I’m going to go and guess who’s going to be there? It’s going to be Georgia, who I’m excited to see, and you know, I’m kind of a Georgia convert this year.
EVAN: Because I was a bit skeptical early on in the season. They did the whole five meets in fifteen days and I was like, “What? Why are we doing this?” And their scores just weren’t, you know, they of course enjoyed the SEC home scoring, um, but, you know, Lindsey Cheek is a feel like a very endearing character. She’s kind of like a workhorse in the gym and just really loves her team and gymnastics and both of them together. So she’s kind of a really endearing character, and Chelsea Davis is also very good for them. So I’m excited to see them in person and really see what they’re putting out there. It’s going to be at UGA- the Regional that I’m going to. So in Stegeman, the host seniors’ official last meet on their home campus and, my [LAUGHS], my Wolverines are going to be there too.
JESSICA: Oh man! Okay let me just say like when I did the Danna Durante interview- [corrects pronunciation] Danna Durante interview- I have to remind myself to say that correctly all the time. Danna Durante. I at the very end of the interview I was like you know, “Thank you for bringing back the Georgia we all know and love,” and I was like oh that’s kind of disingenuous, because I didn’t really love Georgia before. But I was like, but I really like Georgia now. I feel like it’s a dirty secret I’m telling everyone! [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: I like them!
EVAN: I wouldn’t use the phrasing… I’m kind of a Georgia convert here. And I wouldn’t say convert like “I love them so much! I love them so much!” You know I think I was a little skeptical to give them the credit that they were due. And I think that’s what I’m comfortably willing to give them right now. I do think that they’re still a Super Six bubble team. I would probably put them closer to eight or nine in the country right now. Um, but they’re ranked sixth going into Regionals. They’ve been fairly consistent, but the Jess, the one thing I really want to call out, they start off their meets so, so, so, so huge on vault and bars.
EVAN: They’re like the number one team in the nation on bars, have the top two gymnasts in the nation on bars. But then it’s like, “Oh pump the brakes it’s beam. Oh pump the breaks it’s floor.” So depending on the rotation it could be, it could be a role of the dice for Georgia.
JESSICA: And I want to go back to, just talking about that interview. A couple people were like, “Why didn’t you ask her about early recruiting?” And I’m like ugh because she already answered that question. She did an interview with IG and she talked about how she basically thinks like a deals a deal. A promise should be honored, even if you’re a sophomore in high school. If you say you’re going to do it, you should do it, and if you don’t want to commit, then you shouldn’t. So that’s why I didn’t ask.
Um, I want to get to a couple questions that we had and letters that people wrote in about, but I want to remind you guys before we do that, very quickly, how you can support the show [SINGS]! I’m totally about singing theme songs today. Lindsey Mable totally needs a theme song. We should make one up for her. Okay, you guys, genius idea, bookmark us, bookmark our Amazon page. You can just, we’re going to put a bookmark up, and you guys can put it in your favorites, put it in your browser, so anytime you go to Amazon, you know if you shop with our little bookmark a little portion of what you spend goes back to supporting the show. So I will put that up so you guys can find it. I’ll put it on our “About” page. You can also review us on iTunes or Stitcher to support the show, and you guys asked for a way to support the show besides those and you can always donate to us. There’s been a bunch of people who have set up monthly donations, which every time we get those I’m just like [LAUGHS] ah it’s just so nice and so thoughtful you guys. You know we spend, all of that goes directly to improving our sound equipment, to paying our bills. So I just want to say thank you to all of you for supporting the show that way! Okay, let’s get to letters. So, um, we had a question about American Cup and it was, you know, “How do gymnasts really qualify to a World Cup?” So we’re talking about an all-around World Cup. And one of our readers asked so how did Ohashi and Biles get picked last year without having any senior international meets, blah, blah, blah. Okay, so, follow along. It’s really boring but here you go: The FIG extends the invitations to the top eight all-arounders at an Olympics or a World Championships. If none of them can go then, they’re injured or whatever, then they go down to numbers nine through twelve. If none of those people can go, then they go to the first place team. So they go to USAG, and they say “You won. Tell us what athletes you want to invite.” So USAG says, “Hey, how about these people!” and they nominate the athletes and the FIG has to approve those athletes. So that’s the process, but say that everyone’s lined up and the week before, like what happened with Iordache, she pulls out, what do they do in that situation? Well, the FIG will go directly to the country of the athlete that pulled out. So they’ll go to Romania and say, “Who do you want to nominate? Do you have someone you can send?” And then that, and then Romania will just nominate someone in that case. There is also a wild card system in place and so the host country gets a wild card and they can use it however they want. Um so, they can invite you know, someone from, a Russian gymnast perhaps, you know they can be like, “Please, whoever they want, your next star,” to encourage that country to come. Um, but no matter what you can only have two per country at each of the World Cups. So, that’s basically how it works. They go down the line and if people are injured the host country, or the country of that gymnast that pulled out, can nominate someone. So that’s basically how it works…in a nutshell.
EVAN: That’s how that works, and Aly, wrote us a letter and she says that “Jenny Hansen blows my mind.” Mine too. You’re right Aly. You’ve got that right. Everyone’s head has exploded over Jenny Hansen. She says, “The most impressive fact about her was that she was able to win the all-around without her team there at NCAA’s. Do you think this could ever happen nowadays? I am not even talking about three times in a row, but just even once. We all know about how ridiculous the scoring can get and how judges can sometimes judge based on what leo they’re wearing and what school they are from.” I’m going to say no. I don’t think that there are any individual athletes who aren’t already on teams who have the potential to qualify to NCAA’s who could win the individual all-around. And I think the all-around rankings pretty much speak for themselves, that there aren’t really any surprises in that realm right now. So, as it stands right now, 2014, I don’t think so. Jess, what about you?
JESSICA: I honestly don’t ever see that happening again. It just, I just can’t imagine it happening. The only way I could see it happening is Lindsey Mable, if her team doesn’t qualify, and I just, it’s just so different now, and I think Jenny Hansen was that incredible. She’s the perfect storm. So, I don’t know. I just, I don’t really see it ever happening again. Okay, [LAUGHS], back to the Jenny Hansen episode, Coach Rivas wrote in and he said, “Just listened to the Jenny Hansen episode. Great stuff. Funny story- had been in gymnastics forever but I recently took a job in an oil field, just like Jenny Hansen did when she told this similar story.” So he said he working in Colorado and he driving on some dirt roads, and there are amazing views, and being a gymnast, like all of us, he said, “Oh I should do a handstand selfie.” So he sets up his camera, he goes off to do his, he’s going to take a screen shot from his video, and he walks over, he does he his handstand, and then he’s like, “Oh, you know what would be even better? I’ll just do a back tuck right here.” So then he says, “Right when I left the ground I was reminded by gravity that I had steel-toed boots on. I didn’t totally face-plant, but did fight for my life to get to my knees. I know I have that video somewhere. I’m going to have to go find it. Thanks for what you guys do.” [LAUGHS] Have you ever tried a back tuck and realized- or any kind of flip- out in public, and then realized like half way through, “Oh my God I have shoes on,” or “I have tight pants on,” and just totally biffed it?
EVAN: I’ve never had a really bad fall because I usually feel like I’m the type of gymnast who always overcompensates. So I have had people like, form an assertive wall behind me, and be like, “When my body comes flying into you after I land…”
EVAN: “and I over-rotate. Please don’t let me crack my head open on cement.” Uh, so never like, any like, weird set issues, because that would be too much for me.
JESSICA: The only time this has really happened to me was one time my dentist is someone who I do gymnastics with, and have for a long time, and once a year he would us all out, everyone from the adult gymnastics class he would take us all out on his boat, and I would always get really sick so I would take Dramamine. And so one time we were like, boating along, all of us and he sees one of his friends on another boat and his friend you know he’s like, “Hey this is my gymnastics team!” blah, blah, blah. And the guy was like, “What? You old fart! You don’t do gymnastics.” And he was like, “Yes we do!” And of course I’m like, “I’ll show him!” And so I was like, “Look!” So I’ve taken Dramamine and I’m on a boat in the ocean and I was like, “Oh I’ll just do a handstand pirouette right now.” So I like kicked up to a handstand and then I was like “Oh!” and then I fell just like totally sideways. [LAUGHS] And I was like, “Oh my God!” And of course there’s like the motor, and there’s all this stuff in the back, because I was like down on the bottom. I totally thought I was going to like get a leg chopped off but thank God I was fine. I was so embarrassed. I just laid there because I didn’t want to see the guy. Like I didn’t want to see his face.
EVAN: You didn’t fall into the water though?
JESSICA: No, no no.
EVAN: I can imagine you going overboard…
EVAN: On this like, terrible handstand pirouette gone awry. And you like break in half over the side of the boat and then they just speed off because they’re like, “Whatever.”
JESSICA: No that would have been much worse. But um, yeah…So if you have any more stories like that, send them to us. Or even better if you have a video send it in. Um, so we asked a couple questions last episode. One was about the Barbie competitions, with the Barbie, um, cardboard cutouts. So we found out a little more about these. These are an open meet, like any level all the way up to elite, sponsored by Alpha Factor. And instead of getting medals at the meet, the gymnasts get tiaras, and Barbie’s, and sashes, which I love! I’ve always wanted a sash. I would love to get that at a gymnastics meet that said like “Punk Rock Gymnast Award” or something. Um, they also give out gold, silver, and bronze for the gymnast who has the best execution, so the least execution deductions, on each event. Love that! Encouraging good form- that’s what we believe in here on this show. And also the competitors can make their own signs. You guys these are crazy. I mean they can do whatever they want. So you know how you normally have a number, or you have your card that the judge puts your scores on? Well they make their own at this meet. So they have everything from like one kid like brought in like an actual Barbie glued to a little tiny balance beam [LAUGHS], with her number on the balance beam, to another one where it’s like a picture of her coach balancing a glass of wine on her legs in a handstand. [LAUGHS] Crazy stuff! Oh my God this meet sounds so fun. I love this. The other thing is that we talked about was the English Championships, remember, where they had those crazy selfies, where it looked like everyone got caught in, like you know, nighttime Skyping with their girlfriend? So we found out about that. The pictures were taken when people were registering. And I guess that’s a big joke with all of the gymnasts [LAUGHS], because of how bad the pictures look. They had these giant green squares on the, by the side of the TV’s, on the side of the competition. And basically that’s the gym-data system, which we’ve talked about on the show before, where you get receipts and you get text messages like, “Hey your gymnast is about to compete on beam. And oh, hey here’s their score.” So that’s kind of cool. It’s the same as those little green lights they had at the FIG competitions. These are just enormous! So, um, yes, thank you guys for sending in those details, because we love reading about those.
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.”
If you have anything that you’d like us to talk about. Anything that you think should be addressed on the show, please, send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave us a voicemail at 415-800-3191. Or you can call us on Skype and leave a voicemail. We won’t answer the phone. We promise. So don’t be afraid. Just leave us a voicemail. We’re at username gymncasticpodcast, and make sure to follow us, follow us, follow us, on Instagram, because like I said, we put up like twenty videos from all of the competitions this weekend, so you will love this, and of course they’re only the most unique and eclectic gymnastics skills and routines, and of course, bloopers, because you know we love those.
This weekend, what to watch, there’s some exciting stuff coming up! Wednesday the 26th, the day that this show comes out, it’s the Doha World Cup. That is happening on the 26th, and then the Pan American Championships are this weekend, and then, most excitingly, starting on Friday, through the 30th, the British Championships! So we get to see all of our favorites! We’ll have Princess Catherine of Europa, Hannah Whelan, Fragapane, Lisa Mason, Louis “The Man” Smith, Ruby Harrold. Becky Downie will be there. Danny “Straddle the Judge’s Face” Pervis. We’ll get to see Keatings doing his perfect vault. We’ll get to see Max Whitlock and his air-flares. I’m so excited for this meet! I love this meet! Ah, so anyway.
JESSICA: Watch that stuff anyway. We’ll discuss it all next week. Until then, I’m Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics.
EVAN: I’m Evan. You can find me on Twitter @yoev.
UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym.
JESSICA: Thanks for listening! See you guys next week!