Transcripts: Episodes 51-60

[expand title=”Episode 51: Podium Training Report From Antwerp”]

BLYTHE: Well I talked to Martha Karolyi about it just briefly about it today, and Martha basically said in a nutshell, Maroney earned the right to do it.




JESSICA: Today’s the first of our mini episodes directly from Antwerp, Belgium. Blythe has been watching everyone in training and will tell us what’s happening with US team, who’s doing all around, who’s going to be an alternate, what’s happening with the Russians, the Canadians, the Romanians, and of course what’s happening on the men’s side with those 7.4 floor routines and the triple twisting yurchenkos.


ALLISON TAYLOR: Hey gymnasts. Elite Sportz Band is a cutting edge compression back warmer that can protect your most valued asset, your back. I’m Allison Taylor on behalf of Elite Sportz Band. Visit We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: This is episode 51 for September 29, 2013. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner


JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. Today we’re going to talk to Blythe who is in Antwerp, Belgium, the site of the 44th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. They go from Monday September 30-October 6. To prepare you for this World Championships, go to Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym’s blog and check out his current and updated world rankings. It’s going to be fascinating to see what happens if these rankings hold up, if there’s something totally new. I can’t wait to see what happens with the rankings. Be sure to follow Blythe Lawrence for her fantastic quick hits, her interviews, her full coverage of Worlds. She always does an amazing job and she always gives those behind the scenes details that the true hardcore gym nerds want to know all about. So follow Blythe on Twitter, Facebook, or her site at the Gymnastics Examiner. And also of course follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ or Facebook for all the most important hardcore news like what kind of crazy hairdos are happening. Or of course what’s happening with men’s facial hair and will Kosmidis rock a beard at these Worlds. To watch the competition, the most important thing, USA Gymnastics and Universal Sports are bringing us the competition live in the US. Yes. It’s the greatest news ever. They also had podium training steaming live which was so freaking exciting. Of course they’re going to be following the US gymnasts and whoever rotates with them. So you can go to Or you can go to Universal Sports. Check your local listings. Or of course right to and watch directly from there. So they’ll have streaming coverage live on that site. So thank you USA Gymnastics and Universal Sports for bringing us that, I cannot wait. Even though I’m going to have to get up early, like 5am. But it’s totally worth it I’m so excited to watch live. Ok let’s talk to Blythe.




JESSICA: This special report directly from Belgium is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. Right now all of Tumbl Trak’s in ground traks, their porta traks, their rec traks are on sale. They’re 10% off. Check out the full selection at Do it again.




JESSICA: How was the- you’ve been watching the training hall training and podium training. And of course the biggest news that’s come out is Maroney, as you hypothesized, doing all around, which means that Dowell is out. And apparently Maroney found this out on Twitter. What are people saying there about this news that Dowell is out and that Maroney is now doing all around?


BLYTHE: Well I talked to Martha Karolyi about it just briefly today, and Martha basically said in a nutshell Maroney earned the right to do it. She’d been looking very strong on bars in the training hall. She’d been looking and sticking her beam routines. And Martha just kind of said well we’re going to take the strongest gymnasts and that’s the name of the game. And so it will be interesting this kind of side plot to the women’s all around competition in that you will have Maroney, Biles, and Kyla Ross gunning for two spots in the all around competition the same way you had Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, and Aly Raisman doing that at the Olympic Games. And at the Olympics it was quite a surprise. Who knows if it’ll be a surprise here in Antwerp.


JESSICA: And so this means that Dowell is not going to have- she submitted two skills and this means that she won’t have a chance to have those named after her. But on the other hand, Simone has been submitted her double layout half out which was given a G rating. And she will be able to have that named after her if she successfully competes it at the competition. How’s that looked and how has she looked in general?


BLYTHE: She has looked fabulous. So prepared and completely unruffled by being up there on a Worlds podium. She was incredibly clean throughout the podium training. She did wonderful vaults. She looked steady on beam. She was fantastic on floor. People stopped what they were doing and watched her do her floor routine because her tumbling is just so magnificent. And yeah just very very calm. Sometimes I think gymnasts think if they have a bad podium training, they have a good competition. If they have a good podium training they get a little bit more nervous for the competition. But she seems very steady and very focused.


JESSICA: Excellent. And are people- is there kind of a buzz about her at all? I mean you know we know from Uncle Tim’s ranking that she’s the top ranked gymnast in the world but no one’s ever seen her at a World Championship before. So is it still about the gymnasts who everyone knows? Or is she sort of creating some notice?


BLYTHE: I think she’s definitely creating some notice. People were sort of watching her out of the corner of their eye, just because she’s so athletically capable. But also there is the fact that she’s been scoring in the range of 60 in the all around and not many people are doing that in the world. Martha Karolyi herself said kind of well if it all comes down to difficulty, then Simone has the highest difficulty. But it’s not all about difficulty. So we’ll see.


JESSICA: Yes. Ok so, the other news has been of course all about Mustafina because she’s her bars are sound like looking amazing but she looks really tired on floor. And she’s also debuted a newish skill. She’s doing a Seitz catching it in mixed grip. So how did she look overall? Compared to bars and floor what’s it look like to you?


BLYTHE: You know I’ve been very impressed. She looks focused, mature. More so than she did in 2010 or 2011 where just kind of everything was a distraction and everything was going wrong and you would jump up and do one thing and fall off then you’d kind of huff and puff and it’s very hard. The process looks very hard. The Americans, they do routine after routine after routine and the process looks the same. The Russians, they really get more of a feel for the equipment and what they’re doing. And there’s a lot of falling involved. But usually during the competition they manage to pull out something workable or even something incredibly beautiful. This time however Mustafina looks more focused. Yeah she looks a little tired after floor but the routines are hard and the days are long and things like that. And maybe as we’ve talked about a little on the podcast before, the Russians aren’t conditioning quite like some of the other countries. Maybe. But they also have a whole lot of elegance. So that works in their favor. Yeah. But no I thought Mustafina looked very focused. She did a lot of her skills and she did a lot of them really well. There was less interruptions than there have been in the past.


JESSICA: And Nabieva is, well the reports early that she was out because of a concussion and now it seems that she may still compete despite the concussion and the bruising on her head. Do you know what happened, how she fell?


BLYTHE: No. I heard that it was a tumbling pass. But this is all just hearsay that’s going on in the gym. And it was said that she fell on a tumbling pass. I don’t know if anybody saw it. Someone saw the bruise on her head and said you’ve got a bruise on your head what’s the deal. And she apparently let it be known that she’d done something on a tumbling pass. And she did not perform in podium training. But she also gave an interview to the Russian press that we’re reading via Google translate of course that says yes, I will go out there and do my routines. So we’ll see. But I think until the competition actually begins, we may not know.


JESSICA: Oy. There’s never a dull moment with all the women’s competition.


BLYTHE:  Never a dull moment. Not at all.


JESSICA: So Moors has submitted her Moors, the double layout full out and it’s getting an I rating which is just freaking amazing. And you were saying in your quick hits which, if you guys aren’t following Blythe’s quick hits, first of all everyone knows they’re the best quick hits in the business. They’re funny and entertaining, and you get all these tidbits. I love Blythe’s quick hits. So she’s getting an extra minute and a half to warm it up because it’s a freaking I. I mean this is like hearing that when Oprah would have those special shows and people get their bras fitted and you thought they only went to a D and now there’s Z size bras. I didn’t even know you could have [LAUGHS] that went as high as an I skill. It’s just freaking awesome. Anyway, what does it look like in person, and how is she been hitting it?


BLYTHE: The landing of it is very very good. Both in the training and in the full routine that she did today. When she did the warm up her special warm up, she did with a small step back and she nearly stuck it in the full routine. And there’s video of that going around. And it’s good. Do I feel that she pikes it down just a little bit? It’s a little bit piked in the air. The body and the shape in more of a banana than completely laid out. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. It’s an amazing skill and she’s got a good position. I’m not going to say a great position. But a good position on it. And it absolutely merits to be named after her.


JESSICA: Beautiful. And now she’s there with this I skill which is worth .9 I believe. Izbasa’s there only doing floor. And she of course is the 2008 Olympic champion. We have the Americans doing floor and Iordache is there as well. Do you think there could be a Canadian upset in the floor championship?


BLYTHE: I don’t know, we’ll see. It’s going to be hard to beat the Romanians. It’s going to be hard to beat Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney. It’s going to be hard to- you might have one of the Chinese gymnasts in there as well. And certainly the floor specialists with very very good tumbling like Giulia Steingruber for example. I don’t know if I see her as World Champion but I’m not even sure that that’s the goal. I think the goal is to get her name in the history books as being the first person to do this at Worlds and to get the skill named after her. And that would be satisfying. Of course you always gun for a medal and that would be great, but for this year, they’ve gone back to her old routine so she can do four tumbling passes and that’s the reason they went back to that. That would be sufficient.


JESSICA: Now Iordache’s there as well and apparently is looking really fantastic and has been doing her routine with the two fulls. I think with both fulls in the routine. Have you watched her and how does she look to you?


BLYTHE: Yeah. She looks good. It’s funny to watch her do it on beam because she does, she warms up a round off layout. And I kind of think that her round off layout has a bit of flexed feet and messy legs. And usually she actually kind of takes a bit of a bounce back and no wobble. But that’s the easier skill. And when she adds the full twist, everything gets better. The form gets better. There’s no bouncing or wobbling out of it. And so it’s quite funny to watch. I think that she might stick to the easier routine in the qualifications. And save the full for the finals or maybe even all around finals if she’s feeling especially daring. Because that’s what’s going to pay off for her. To no sense I think in doing it in qualifications and risking a fall. But we’ll see how they want to play it.


JESSICA: So on the men’s side, we’re speaking of people getting skills named after them, we have two guys who are going for the the triple twisting yurchenko. Of course this has been done before. Sasha Artemev from the US did it and Uchimura has done it. Both did it in national competitions. But in this meet, Shirai Kenzo of Japan, mister floor routine worth a 7.4, is doing it. He also did a quad I guess in training. He sort of fell out of it but oh my god I love that skill. And then Kim Hee Hoon, have you seen him training these and how’d they look to you?


BLYTHE: I did not see Kim Hee Hoon. I did see Shirai. Shirai looks great. He looks young. You know? He’s 17. He’s in high school. He’s just kind of like here and he’s like ok. He’s a phenomenal twister but he looks very comfortable. Looks very good out there when you see him on the floor. And he submitted the quad twist to be named after him. And hey you know rightfully so. He’s not the first person to perform it in competition, but he would be the first person to perform it in a World competition. And that’s how you get the thing named after you. The yurchenko triple also looked really good. He did one and it got a fair bit of applause. And like with some of the floor things that we’ve seen from the women, there were a lot of people who stopped what they were doing to watch him train because he’s really gotten a reputation even as young as he is. The Japanese came out and said in an interview I think last year we think this kid could be the 2016 Olympic floor champion. And so far, he’s a phenomenal phenomenal floor worker.


JESSICA: I’m so excited for him. So other news of the men’s side there’s Kukensov is off because he’s not competing all around because he dislocated his finger which of course, pfft what a giant wimp. That’s all I have to say. Come on. Dislocated finger? That’s like nothing. Maroney competed with a broken toe and did the best vault ever in history. But whatever. And then Fabian Hambuchen says that he wants to go to Michigan and train with Mikulak and the men’s team. Love that! I think that’s the coolest thing ever. of course the stupid NCAA rules prevents this at certain times of the year, but I’m sure they can find a way for this to work. Anything else that’s been really exciting about the men there? Sam looks like he’s been on fire.


BLYTHE: Yeah Sam looks very good. And he’s very chill. He’s been dancing around on the podium to the transition music and to the music they’ve got playing during training. And he says hey this is what works for me, I’m just going to have as much fun as I possibly can, and that’s how I am successful. And that’s really what he said. And he’s so so chill and so relaxed and very unflappable.


JESSICA: Beautiful. I love that the men’s program kind of allows the guys to be who they need to be in the moment on the team. You can see some of them, you have of course the infamous Danell Leyva towell where he gets super serious and has a towel over his head the whole time. Then you also have Sam dancing around the entire competition. And I like that they are able to use whatever works for them works. If they need to be a goofball the whole time they can totally do it.


BLYTHE: And Sam’s making friends. He says that the other gymnasts are looking at him doing his dancing and smiling and they’re just a really happy happy bunch. I love that. That seems like that bodes well for him.


JESSICA: Love it. So we have tomorrow we have prelims for men starting, then we have prelims for the women and we’re going to talk to you again after both prelim sessions are up. So remember to check back after prelims for another special episode with Blythe. And hopefully some special guests.




ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: Visit, that’s sportz with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.


JESSICA: If you’re a first time listener be sure to listen to our interviews with Simone Biles, Kyla Ross, Sam Mikulak, Jake Dalton, and Victoria Moors for the full background on this week’s World Championships. Also follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Facebook where you get all the most important news and routines. You can support the show by shopping in our Amazon store. Just go to the Amazon store through our site and then shop as you normally would. Of course you can donate. You can also subscribe and follow us on iTunes or write a review of the show. We love reviews on iTunes. And if you’re an android user you can of course listen to us on Stitcher. If you love all the hard work that Blythe does to bring you this amazing coverage, give her a shoutout on her Facebook or Twitter. Gymnastics Examiner or GymExaminer on Twitter and of course follow her at Gymnastics Examiner. There’s a link on our site. Until after prelims, I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner


JESSICA: See you right back here after prelims! Have fun watching Worlds!





[expand title=”Episode 52:Triumph & Heartbreak Prelims Recap from Antwerp Worlds”]

EMMA: Let me just point out today I hugged Louis Smith and he smelled mmmmm.

JESSICA: Louis Smith, oh my God! Oh, how I love him!

BEA: He looks good doesn’t he?

EMMA: He does look good! And he smells good!

BLYTHE: More importantly!


JESSICA: Blythe and Bea and special guests are here with us live from Belgium to talk about the heartbreaks and triumphs in the qualifying rounds at Worlds.

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 We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: This is episode 52 for October 2, 2013. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics

BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from The Gymnastics Examiner

BEA: I’m Bea from The Couch Gymnast

MICHELLE: I’m Michelle, I’m a photographer

EMMA: I’m Emma and I’m a fangirl

JESSICA: And this is the number one gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you all the news from the World Championships. Blythe and very special guest Bea from the Couch Gymnast are reporting from Antwerp, Belgium, site of the 44th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships which go through October 6. If you don’t already follow The Couch Gymnast, you definitely should. Bea is the special reporter on Romania and if you have not been following Blythe and her fantastic quick hits and her interviews and full Worlds coverage, you can do so over at Gymnastics Examiner. To watch Worlds, all you have to do to watch live and for free, is go to That’s And but what about the people who aren’t in the US? How can you watch? Well there’s a solution for that. You can still watch live and for free if you go to, that’s and follow their directions and you will be able to watch. And then the live feed will get even more hits and will show broadcasters how much interest there is in watching live gymnastics around the world. And then maybe we will get more of this kind of coverage. So if you are outside of the US, you can still watch. So if you still missed all this and you can’t watch live, don’t worry. It is all archived and the FIG is doing a fantastic job of putting almost every single routine up on their YouTube site. So go to Official FIG on YouTube and you can watch all of the routines there in hi-def. it’s absolutely fantastic. USAG is also putting up all of their routines and they have them all there on usagymworlds video tab on that site. But if you’ve missed all this and you can’t watch any of this and you only like to watch things on TV, you can watch on Universal Sports or on October 12 and 13th, Worlds will be on NBC so you can watch them then. And if you are loving what USAG is doing and what the FIG is doing putting up all these videos, make sure you tell them on Twitter or Facebook or whatever. And especially, go and watch the videos so they can see how much the fans love it because data doesn’t lie. So let’s start our chat with Blythe and her posse of gym nerds. This special World Championships coverage is brought to you by TumblTrak. Right now TumblTrak is having a sale. All of TumblTrak’s in ground traks, porta traks, and rec traks are 10% off. If you’re getting inspired to try new things during Worlds, maybe it’s time for a TumblTrak. Check them out at That’s TumblTrak. Do it again.


BLYTHE: I have a goody for you right off the bat.


BLYTHE: Emma is a real English person, as is Michelle.


BLYTHE: As opposed to us who talk about Beth Tweddle in fake English accents. They thought that those British accents were amazing.

EMMA: Can we just point out today that I hugged Louis Smith and he smelt hmmm.

JESSICA: Oh Louis Smith. Oh my God! How I love him!

BEA: He looks good doesn’t he?

EMMA: He does look good. And he smells good too.

BLYTHE: More importantly!

BEA: Louis should totally have his own fragrance.

EMMA: He probably will soon.

JESSICA: He should. I would buy that. I’m not going to wear it but I’m going to like sniff it every once in a while.


JESSICA: Before I start my day, a little Louis Smith.

BLYTHE: Right well anyway, Emma had an encounter with Martha Karolyi.

EMMA: I did. I don’t know. Something has happened to me over the past couple of years where I love to get photographs with coaches and gymnasts and autographs. So I’m sitting directly opposite Martha Karolyi who’s on the other side of the arena. And every so often I see people going up to her and getting photographs and autographs and stuff. I think, now it’s my golden opportunity. I’ve never had one before. So I make my way to the other side of the arena, saw that there was nobody else to compete. There was only like rubbish people left, so I knew she wasn’t watching anybody. So I go stand I said “Excuse me Mrs. Karolyi” and she put her hands up and went “I’m watching the competition” and I felt like I’d been told off, sent to the headmaster’s office and got the cane all in one go. Oh it was horrible.

JESSICA: That’s awful.

EMMA: “I’m watching the competition.”

JESSICA: I’m so sorry. And now we know why Simone Biles said that she thinks that Martha is scarier than the judges.

EMMA: She’s frightening.

JESSICA: So how are the moth attacks going? Are those done? Have they burned them all, caught them with nets?

BLYTHE: I don’t know. I didn’t see anybody.

MICHELLE: I think they’re pretending not to notice that they’re there. I saw a few today but there were no netting. Mustafina: “I did bad because of the moths”

BLYTHE: She didn’t actually say that did she?


JESSICA: Like looking at Nabieva’s head, it just looks like she landed and then slid across the floor on her forehead.

BLYTHE: Oh you know what, so I saw Nabieva up close in the mixed zone and her face looks normal but when you look closer, she has the size of a 50 cent piece just covered in foundation. They put a lot of makeup to cover that up.

JESSICA: Right, I saw her at a, like I watched her bars video and I was like oh my God. They must have put a sticker on her forehead to cover that up or something. I can’t believe they covered that.

BLYTHE: Yep, it’s just a lot of concealer and foundation.

JESSICA: That’s some movie makeup right there. I’m just dying to know what she did for that rug burn scab.

EMMA: I think it was Valentina’s boots.

BLYTHE: Grace Chu said 2.5 to front layout half, that’s what she did it on. Like she hit her face. She must have done a front half to her face. She over rotated a 2.5 and you know.

JESSICA: That would explain the sliding or the twisting on the forehead. The thing I cannot keep off of my mind right now which is that Australia with their ridiculous rules, set the bar way way way too high and with their 6.3 requirement that the girls have on beam to even qualify. I’m looking at who qualified on beam and I cannot believe that they did not send the two Australian gymnasts to Worlds.

BLYTHE: Yeah it’s a shame for the Australian team. But Peggy Liddick is here and she’s being very attentive to the competition. But certainly, it would be better if there were Australian athletes out on the floor.

JESSICA: I mean really there’s only I think three people in the top 20 that have above a 6.3. 2 people above a 6.3, 6.3 or above. There’s one and there’s a 6.4. I mean ugh, it drives me nuts. And the score? Are you kidding me? Everybody’s in the 14s. Ugh, I’m outraged. Let’s talk about the US team and how they did. Let’s talk about Miss Simone Biles, who we’ve said from the very beginning is going to kill, kill, kill it. How did she look in person?

BLYTHE: I mean the US team was very happy. Biles was very happy. The thing that’s maybe most notable about the performance, and it was a pretty dominating performance. She really could have done a little bit better on uneven bars and on balance beam. Floor was fantastic. Vault was fantastic. She looked a little bit nervous starting out the competition, first World Championships, competing without her teammates. But she got through it and she killed it. I mean that was awesome. So they are super pleased with Simone and with Kyla as well, who just put on one of the best, most consistent, most elegant performances that she’s ever done, and of the competition. There’s the Longines Prize for Elegance and the voting that’s going on and I’m betting you that Kyla’s going to get that.

EMMA: She has to win it for lipstick alone.

BLYTHE: She did look good.

BEA: She looked really good. Regal in comparison, I’d say.

BLYTHE: Absolutely regal. It’s the perfect word for her performance.

JESSICA: Biles is right now 2.16 points I think ahead of the third place gymnast in the all-around which is Yao Jinnan of China and Kyla with her just beautiful execution scores is in second with a 59.198. And what did you guys think? You know Martha was complaining that she thought her execution scores were too low. And there have been some grumbling about the scores? What did you guys think about Kyla’s execution scores?

BEA: Well at first I thought her beam routine was underscored. But then again, I was quite far away so I couldn’t see her form very well. Yeah, it did look surprising at first. But then, after the second day I was convinced that it was on par with what we’d seen throughout mostly with a few exceptions.

JESSICA: So what are the exceptions? Tell us!

BEA: Well that’s debatable. A lot of people can say that Aliya for instance had quite big execution scores compared to others. One of them for instance was Vasiliki Millousi who had a 7.9.

JESSICA: (gasps) They gave Vasiliki a 7.9? Ugh! That’s an outrage.

EMMA: It is an outrage.

BEA: By comparison, it’s stingy, Vasiliki’s score and Aliya’s a bit generous maybe. But also Larisa Iordache for instance, you could argue that she had some form breaks that other people, that Aliya didn’t have. But maybe if you watched the routines back and from up close, you can see that actually the scoring was quite fair.

MICHELLE: Yeah it wasn’t as bad as people were thinking it was going to be after the first day. People thought scores would get a lot more laxed. But it wasn’t too bad.

JESSICA: And what about, so looking at beam. Little Shang Chungsong, who we have talked about on the show before for her beautiful beam and for other reasons. Do you think her scored was deserved? I mean the E scores on beam are really low so that makes sense. But did she sort of blow everybody out of the way like we sort of thought she would? I mean she’s ranked second right now going into finals for beam.

BEA: She had a good routine, a deserving routine, no major breaks, pretty clean form throughout.

MICHELLE: It’s pretty clean but it’s not as Chinese as you might expect. There’s little knees, little foot things that you wouldn’t have seen in previous years from a Chinese gymnast on beam.

JESSICA: And everybody’s kind of freaking out about Rodionova, Anna Rodionova from Russia, like she was a great addition and she seems to be.  She qualified well. She’s fourth on beam. Watching her video, I was kind of like eh. There’s a lot of arm waving. I mean she’s good but I wasn’t like blown away. Is there something more to it in person that I’m missing?

EMMA: The thing is, I think on day one, there was only about five people who actually stayed on the beam and she was one of them and it was a late point in the day. And it was like oh my God, someone stayed on.

BLYTHE: Yeah oh my God, someone stuck their dismount.

JESSICA: That’s so bad. Okay, speaking of sticking the dismount, so Maroney I think surprised everybody by placing sixth all around. Of course she lost the tie breaker to her teammate Kyla Ross. But she did really well. I mean she fell on beam on her aerial but she’s been falling in practice so I don’t really think that was a big surprise to anybody. But she really did well. How did she look to you guys?

EMMA: I thought she looked good on all three and then when she got to beam she looked different, nervy.

BLYTHE: Her bars were better in competition than they have been in in the training and that was a little bit surprising. I thought that bars would actually be where she would lose it and not beam as much. But yeah she’s gotten on the teams that she’s gotten on because of her incredible vaulting ability and she’s got a wonderful floor routine especially this year. It got one of the biggest rounds of applause of the night. And I just love when she came down off the podium, she was coming down the steps, Artur Akopian took her hand, just like let me help you down madam. And it was so queenly and that was really cool. And it was a really beautiful routine. As for beam, well oops. As I said before, she’s been missing it in the practice and she didn’t think about taking it out. In the mixed zone, she just kind of said hey it’s such a privilege to compete all-around. It’s so nice to be back here. And that was it you know, just kind of I love gymnastics and it was awesome. And she didn’t seem bothered by it at all. And to be quite honest, in hindsight, it was always a long shot that she would really even beat Kyla or Simone. And it was kind of all over for her after vault when she didn’t break 16.

MICHELLE: I think at that point, she needed a 14.7 on beam which wasn’t going to happen.

BLYTHE: Right, I mean there were only two beam scores in the entire competition above 14.7. So yeah.

JESSICA: So Maroney got a neutral deduction on floor and there’s some speculation that she was given that deduction, because since she didn’t go out of bounds, that it was because her music was too long. Is there any confirmation about this?

EMMA: I’ve read that as well. I’m not sure if the source is correct but I’ve read that as well, that it was due to the length of the music which seems really bizarre.

BLYTHE: If it was due to the length of the music, you would think that somebody would have figured that out before because this is like the fifth time she’s competed this routine. So I don’t know.

JESSICA: Oh you know what, I just got confirmation. Yes, it was one second over time, one second.


EMMA: That’s ridiculous.

BEA: That just totally put her out then.

JESSICA: That just totally reminds me of what happened with, what did it put her out, let me see. Oh my God it would have. That would totally put her ahead of Kyla, that one tenth, oh my God. But this totally reminds me of Sacramone, the same thing had happened. No one had noticed that she didn’t have the right composition in her dance when she didn’t make floor finals that year at Worlds, the year that Nellie Kim ran over to the judges to be like what the hell. Her dance is wrong. It’s just how did this happen? Oh my God! That’s really sad. That’s just one of those things. Shouldn’t you always make sure your music is four seconds, five seconds short just in case something like this happens? Ugh, I don’t know. Floor, Izbasa. She definitely looked like she was a little sassier. She put a little more flair in her dance. She was rocking her electric green scrunchie with the master leo. Wait what was that?

EMMA: She had the green eye shadow as well.

JESSICA: The green eye shadow, I thought was a fantastic touch. I mean if you’re going to do the day-glo green, you have to go all the way.


JESSICA: Like if you’re going to do it, just totally do it. I would’ve done the nails too, maybe a little green lipstick, just go for it completely. So I think she brought it. She actually had better form on some of her tumbling than a lot of people like Mustafina oh my God. Her form, I just could not believe her form on floor. But Izbasa looked pretty good.

MICHELLE: I think Mustafina must’ve left Mustafina at home and an imposter competed today. But Izbasa looked amazing I thought.

BEA: You have to understand also that Izbasa has only trained floor for the last probably month or two months so she kept refining the same moves over and over. Actually, I’d seen her in training and she worked performance, she worked her tumbling, one by one with Octavian Bellu over and over, refining everything. She worked her leaps. Her approach to this was super professional, just because she has only one event. So this event has to be perfection for her. And from that point, maybe it was not that perfect today because she only got an 8.53 I think for execution, so I don’t think she’s quite ecstatic with that. She might be relieved that she’s in finals and that she’s in second at the moment. So she’s qualified in second for finals. But she was aiming for a higher execution score I think and she will try to bring it on Sunday. She has only one event, unlike others so she has a lot of time to work for that.

JESSICA: So she’s saving a little difficulty for the finals huh?

BEA: I don’t know if she’s saving it or whether maybe she was playing it a little bit safe because she was able to always stick the punch front, whereas with the layout full, it was always a problem for her, not always but it has caused her some problems in the past. So maybe she didn’t want to throw it in order risk not to qualify for finals because of the layout full.

JESSICA: And why isn’t she doing vault? I mean she’s the Olympic champion on vault but she’s not even trying for vault. Is there something going on? Does it bother her Achilles? Does she just want to do one?

BEA: From what I understood from media, from watching, and from what she stated before was that they didn’t train for the whole year because of school and maybe she needed some time off. She started training both vault and floor, but then at one point when she saw what other people were doing on vault, she realized from her point of view, she was not at the same level as others so maybe she was not a competitor for the finals for the top three spots probably. So she decided not to train it anymore and just focus on floor because actually, that’s what she wants. She wants that. So floor final and not necessarily a gold medal but just a good finish on floor.

JESSICA: Mustafina, let’s just move on to the heartbreaking part. Let’s get this out of the way. Mustafina, no. It was too much for me. My heart is still broken. I don’t know what’s going on. Is it because Alexandrov left? Is this what happens? Her form on floor, so she fell on her first pass. Her first pass was awesome, whip to Arabian and then she fell. And then she didn’t make her triple Memmel turn. I mean she did it into another turn but it wasn’t a Memmel turn. And then she just looked like she’s out of gas. And her form on her triple full, literally she does a figure four with her legs, like she’s trying to choke someone out or when you’re trying to stretch your butt muscles so you cross one leg over the other. That’s what it looked like to me. And that’s just not like her. That was like worse than Ponor’s triple full, what she was doing with her legs right there. Way worse. Like I feel bad for ever saying that Ponor had bad twisting form after that. What do you guys think happened? How did she look overall? Invasion of the body snatchers

EMMA: I don’t think it was the real Mustafina today. I think like she sent her evil twin or something. She just right from the start on beam, she just didn’t look confident. I don’t know. She just looked like a shell of herself really, not like the confident like I am the queen Mustafina.

BLYTHE: But you know, you don’t need to be queen when you’re Mustafina in qualifications. She has a world title and she has four Olympic medals and she doesn’t have that much left to prove. And I think in the all-around final, we will see a different Mustafina. Like we’ve talked before about Epke Zonderland, he knows very well on high bar the difference between what he’s competing in qualifications and what he’s competing in finals. And I am sure that Mustafina over the next two days will do whatever she needs to do. Whether it’s taking a hot bath or sitting in a tub of ice for a while or whatever, she’s a very fierce competitor and always has been. I don’t think the desire has disappeared at all for her. And when she needs to do it, I think that she will be able to do it. Now Bea, you watched the training a couple of days ago and you came back and said, Mustafina, she looks tired. She looks like her knees are hurting.

BEA: Yeah it was pretty difficult to watch. It was her birthday. This was on the 30th. So it was her birthday that day. She came to training and she was the only one training and she started on floor. She did a little bit of warm up and then she (inaudible) just a little bit. She asked for the music. The organizer started the music. She tried to do the Arabian. She stopped, she started crying. And then she repeated this. So she needed a ten minute break and then after the break, she tried again. Another ten minute break, she tried again. The same result, over and over and over. After about four times, 45 minutes, she managed to continue her floor routine. But she also needed to take some time to think past it and (inaudible). It was really painful to watch. I don’t know. I haven’t watched her in training before so I don’t know if this is what she does all the time, if this is normal but I thought that she was in pain, truly in pain. I think floor was her weakest event that day.


JESSICA: While we’re on the subject of heartbreak, Sanne Wevers on beam.




JESSICA: Did you guys- oh my god and it wasn’t even like she just fell, it was like she crashed, hit her ribs, and missed her hand was all wacky on her mount. I was so sad.


EMMA: I don’t know if you saw the interview she did after. It’s really sad. She said she was super prepared. She really wanted to come here. She’s been training really hard. And all the competitions leading up to this she’s been great. And it’s heartbreaking. Heartbreaking. And the majority of the audience obviously supports the Belgians and the Dutch. And I think it was the biggest gasp of the whole Championships when she fell.


JESSICA: What happened with Jessica from Venezuela had her fall? She had two right?


BLYTHE: Yeah. She didn’t have a very good day. She said afterwards that her achilles has been hurting her a bit. And gymnastics, it’s gymnastics of course. And just on bars kind of a flukey thing. The routine was going great. She casted out a little bit too hard for the tkatchev and just was a little bit over and then went to beam and sometimes you make that, sometimes you don’t. It was just unfortunate. It looks like a meltdown. We haven’t really seen that from Jessica in international competition. But yeah just really unfortunate. Especially when she was doing her double twisting yurchenko vault, has a beautiful new floor routine, and those events were really good. So she ended the day on floor and she did a very very nice routine. But unfortunately, damage had been done. And a lot of people were kind of wondering if this might be her year. Might this be the year she gets a medal on bars, a medal on beam, maybe. And sadly no.


JESSICA: And then the moment that I just wanted to stop time and get in a time machine and go back because I couldn’t believe it, it was so horrific. I can’t even bear to talk about it. The Moors is not to be.


EMMA: They made a big thing about it. It was very near the end of the session and the announcer was talking about the fact she was trying a new element. It was the only new element the announcer mentioned. She did it with a spot in the touch warm up and it was fine. And yeah, heartbreaking. Sucks.


BLYTHE: Now we’ll see if she does it again in all around finals. Because to get the element named after her, she just has to compete it and successfully do it at some point during the competition. So she does have a second chance. And for the Canadians, they’re not even so much after medals at this Championship. But they really wanted Victoria Moors’ name in the history books for doing that. And I don’t know about you guys but it never actually even occurred to me that she might fail at it. It’s just it’s such a hard skill, she always looks so focused, she always manages to get it around to her feet. And she did it and it was a really good one, more stretched in the air than we’ve seen in podium training and better form overall, and it just- her hands and her knees didn’t have quite the height to get it around and it was really said. Unfortunately we won’t be seeing her in floor finals because of that. And she really deserves to be in. So it’s a big shame. But she will have another chance to get that skill named after her. Now, if floor is going to be her last event, she’s going to be tired, she might not do it. But she might. It depends about her own level of desire, how much she wants to see that skill become the Moors. And hey if I were her I’d really really want to see that skill become the skill with my name on it because it’s so freakin hard.


MICHELLE: We were hoping she’d just chuck it in at the end.




EMMA: Have a second go.


MICHELLE: Have a second go at it.


JESSICA: Be like ice skating. Just totally change your routine. Like walk over to the corner, be like forget this, and just do it.


MICHELLE: Be like ice princess. She deviated, no!


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Love that. Ok now let’s talk about the triumphs, the things that made us so incredibly happy. Let’s talk about for the English ladies, your girls on bars.


EMMA AND MICHELLE: Wooooo two in bar finals!


EMMA: It’s never happened before I don’t think. I was so nervous watching Becky’s routine. It’s quite tense watching her with all the troubles she’s had lately. But yeah so proud.


MICHELLE: I actually set by Amanda Reddin to watch Ruby, and she was going nuts. She was “strong! stick it! do it! Ruby! aahhhh!” It was brilliant. It was brilliant.


JESSICA: And Reddin is Tweddles’s coach right?


MICHELLE: She is, yeah


JESSICA: And she’s now the coach for.


EMMA: The British women’s gymnastics, yeah


JESSICA: Which is the greatest thing ever because she’s genius.


MICHELLE: She’s the British Martha


JESSICA: I love that everyone’s- I mean we’ve been talking about Ruby Harrold all year. Becky Downie has always had the ability but it’s like is she going to hit? Is she going to be healthy? She’s had so many injuries. And then Ruby Harrold, so it’s like we knew she could do it but Ruby Harrold is untested but she’s been killing it all year. And everyone loves the zuchold. Everyone goes nuts. I heard Ali from BBC talking about it a ton.


EMMA: [inaudible] had a good reaction to that skill. So lots of gasps when [inaudible]


JESSICA: You could hear it on the video and I was like wow. It’s just great. Something unique being recognized and done well. How about, what other events do we have exciting surprises and triumphs?


BLYTHE: Looking down the list, it’s kind of a funny event finals lineup. You have Simone Biles in uneven bars finals. You have Aliya Mustafina in beam finals. And I think nobody really going in saw either of those people in those two finals. And so that’s a surprise.


EMMA: Can we just mention for a second Carlotta Ferlito who is in beam final, because she had the best outfit and best eyeshadow I’ve ever seen. She had her green and pink leo that was beautiful, and then matching eye shadow. And she made beam finals.


MICHELLE: And Biles is in all four?


BLYTHE: Biles is


JESSICA: Yes the first woman since Shannon Miller, American since Shannon Miller, 91 in Texas I think, Indianapolis, to make it. All four finals. Huge deal.


EMMA: Major kudos. That is incredible.


JESSICA: Everything just comes so freaking easy for her.


MICHELLE: [inaudible] for her, she really deserved it. She did a good job today.


JESSICA: It looks like she could seriously skip or just walk into her tumbling passes. I mean it’s just ridiculous. Who else am I totally- oh, did we already talk about Mai Murakami and her little quad turn on floor? I think I already mentioned that. The rest of her routine I was like meh. Except for her legs man, she looks like she could take one of those legs off and kill somebody with it. They’re just like boom. Her little quad turn was pretty good. But on floor there wasn’t anybody except for Biles that totally blew me away. Although I didn’t watch Vanessa Ferrari.


EMMA: She was good.


BLYTHE: She was good. And right now she is sitting in fourth place behind Biles, Izbasa, and Iordache. And then there’s Ferrari. And so the unhappy four. Oh by the way, gossip. Ferrari is engaged.


JESSICA: Oh to her longtime boyfriend the gymnast?


BLYTHE: That is what Enrico Cossallo said in the mixed zone. However, there was a bit of translation problem because after he said she’s engaged, somebody said to him well have they set the date yet, and Enrico Cossallo’s reply was yes very good.




JESSICA: Oh that’s awesome. I remember there were some Twitter pictures but I couldn’t remember if it was one of the other Italians or if it was Ferrari. Was it Preziosa who also got engaged? I’m confusing my Italians. And their love affairs are documented seriously on Instagram.


MICHELLE: Preziosa has a very active posting of photos on Instagram. Love life.


JESSICA: It’s so Italian of them. I just love that they live up to a good stereotype like that. I love a good stereotype. Is there anybody else, ok on vault. So of course, pfft, as usual, we were completely right about all the vault predictions. Anybody that totally blew you away on vault? I mean I thought that North Korea lookin a little rough. Good but a little rough.


MICHELLE: Yeah a little rough. I thought Chuso looked well today.


JESSICA: She had a 9.1 on her second vault. I was like damn. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they just, she let Boginskaya come down and be her coach for finals?




JESSICA: I would love to see that. Anybody else that we didn’t get to see? Not big names. Somebody that didn’t make finals but who made an impression on you? Or even somebody that did like the girl from Hungary, Makra. She’s looking nice.


EMMA: Oh Marka’s beautiful. I really liked Noel van Klaveren today. The Dutch girl. She was really good. And also Steingruber.


MICHELLE: Yeah Steingruber was good.


EMMA: And the new Swiss girl Kaeslin’s very good


BLYTHE: Yeah absolutely stunning. Kaeslin would have been mine. She’s 25th in the all around final right now, so she qualified because Maroney doesn’t get to go. So she’s dead last in the all around final. But she made a wonderful impression. She hit her beam set and it was fantastic. She went to floor and performed this soft elegant elegant routine. And it was just very very nice to see. You don’t expect her to make finals. You don’t expect fantastic results. But she was really beautiful to watch.


JESSICA: So let’s move on to the boys. And some of the not so surprising and the surprising. Little baby Japan mister Kenzo with his quad on floor and his insane vaults, did everybody just go nuts? Were they like oh my god it’s Uchimura part two?


BLYTHE: As far as Kenzo Shirai’s floor routine, I guess 200,000 YouTube watches and counting, all those people can’t be wrong. He really is a force of nature. And every once in a while an athlete comes along who really pushes the boundary back a little bit further that was humanly possible to do on floor. And you just look at him and he makes it look so easy and it’s so not easy that you’re just like how did you do that. And you realize he’s a very special athlete. I’m impressed by his quad full, but I’m actually maybe more impressed by his front triple full which looks just out of this world difficult. We’ve seen quads before. They’ve been very few, very far between. Kent Caldwell was the NCAA gymnast who did one in the US for quite a long time. His was incredible. And Shirai’s is incredible. But yeah just that whole routine. So many twists and so fast.


JESSICA: And Uchimura was perfection.


BLYTHE: Yes. It was stunning. Yes. I loved how International Gymnast Magazine called him untouchable. And that’s the best adjective for him. He’s so zen. I was talking to the Associate Press correspondent here who said that it was like watching an old fashion samurai movie. He’s calm, he’s silent, and then he just does something very quickly and it’s so fast and five people fall down dead around him.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I love that analogy oh my god I have to make a tshirt out of that.


BLYTHE: It was the best analogy.


JESSICA: Ok and then we have little Sam dance party Mikulak kicking ass and ending up in second.


BLYTHE: Sam dance party Mikulak!


EMMA: I’m not buying this hype. He’s got to do it in the all around to get me on board with his dancing.




JESSICA: Ok the surprise for the American, it was that- ok so Dalton has an avulsion fracture in his thumb but it’s not his ligament it’s his tendon, which is really weird. He said it’s not bothering him, it’s just painful. But he’s going to have to have surgery to attach the bone chip back. But he said he played it safe on vault because he was watching the other vaults and was like oh I don’t need to do my hardest vaults, and then he didn’t make vault finals.


BLYTHE: You looked at Jake’s handspring double front, because you don’t get a deduction for flashing the wrong vault number. So if you say here I am going to do a handspring double front and you do a Dragulescu, you are not going to receive a deduction for saying you’re going to do just a handspring double front. And when you watch that second vault in the air, you’re kind of like yeah I can see how you’re training a Dragulescu. It was very high, it was very well done. I almost wonder if he thought for a split second hey, I’ve got a really good block out of this, I could maybe. But then he thought no no no I’ll just stick to the plan. And then he didn’t make vault finals. But there’s next year I suppose. And yeah, I think he can be satisfied. I don’t think he is satisfied. He even said he’s not particularly satisfied. But it’s not the end of the world for him right now.


JESSICA: And then Brandon Wynn actually made- is he still qualified first on rings to finals?


BLYTHE: No. Wynn was first after three out of the four men’s subdivisions. And then he got beaten by Arthur Zanetti and Yang Liu of China, who are- Yang Liu, you’ve never seen him before. He’s a carbon copy in a sort of Chen Yibin. And of course we all know how amazing Chen Yibin is on the rings. And Yang Liu is just incredible strength holds, incredible positions, and a full twisting double layout that really does look exactly like Chen Yibin’s. Zanetti is the Olympic champion. He’s been training hard. He- and I wouldn’t say he still has something to prove, but he certainly wants to go out and win another gold medal on rings. And set up the Brazilian team as well as [inaudible] for Rio. And the Brazilian team, by the way, the men’s team and the women’s team too, but the men’s team looks better and better and better. Sergio Sasaki qualified fifth all around finals, definitely going for a medal, doing wonderful gymnastics. And Arthur Mariano who’s the new young kid who is just extremely elegant, you know. Sasaki’s kind of a power guy he looks like. Mariano I think could surpass that and be the great Brazilian all arounder the next four years.


JESSICA: So the big shocker on pommel horse is that Berki, king of Hungary, fell.


MICHELLE: Not only that, our own Dan fell as well.


JESSICA: And this was like the return of Dan Keatings. And then


MICHELLE: Was going to be a Dan/Berki faceoff and it’s failed


JESSICA: It’s so sad.


MICHELLE: So sad. In fact I’m not over it yet.


JESSICA: But then of course we have little Purvis I straddled the face of the judge made finals.




BLYTHE: Poor Dan Purvis. He never really quite gets his due. He’s very consistent except for that one time when he straddled the face of the judge on vault. But other than that, he’s just he’s very consistent. But he’s also kind of a guy who’s been in the middle of the pack. He makes finals and finishes fifth, finishes sixth. And he’s never quite had a moment where he’s really come up and challenged for the gold medal. And it seems like more of the same. Props to him for getting back in shape after the post Olympic run. But he’s- and he’s trying out different things. He’s got some new tumbling passes on floor. And he’s doing what he can to get himself back up there to the point where he could challenge for a medal. And he certainly had a better day in all around qualifications than Max Whitlock did. And Max is the new Louis Smith plus more events. And unfortunately he just kind of had a learning session the day.


JESSICA: Oh that’s kind.


BLYTHE: Yeah he had an off day. But not every day can be like your best day.


EMMA: And Dan has a bronze medal on floor in 2010 in Rotterdam but I think he’d be pushed to repeat that here. He has changed his tumbles a bit, but the floor final is really stacked. So hopefully he can do a good all around.


JESSICA: And Epke Zonderland who gave us a heart attack with his warm up meet in Croatia earlier in the month looks like he put it together on high bar. Looked cleaner.


BLYTHE: Yeah he was cleaner. I’ll give him that. Especially for a qualification. He didn’t do all of his difficulty. But then again, neither did a lot of the guys who are going to be in high bar finals. Fabian Hambuchen left out his layout yaeger full. Zonderland, he connected his cassina to a kovacs but no kolman. And that was probably the smarter thing to do. There’s no sense in falling in prelims and not qualifying. Just play it safe, do a slightly easier variation, get into the final, and then put it all out in the final. And that seemed to be his strategy. And maybe he’s gotten a little bit more confidence from being Olympic champion. It seems like it. And there’s maybe a bit more calmness, more maturity, in his work on high bar. And a little bit more taking it easier and taking the time to point your toes and not rushing quite so much. And yeah, he’s certainly a medal threat. And we’ll see if he can do everything he can do and do it with decent form in the final.


JESSICA: So, I think that’s pretty much it. Is there anything else we should- any other good gossip? Any other good stories?


BEA: Did you know that Larisa Iordache had to wait for about 10 minutes before she started her beam routine on the podium?




BEA: She was stopped-


BLYTHE: Ridiculous


BEA: It was not just the long wait for three minutes, it was 10 minutes. Ten full minutes. She was not allowed to warm up then wait. She was there just thinking about how she was going to do that beam routine. So the fact that she managed to actually hit and hit that well even though she didn’t connect everything she planned, but she still she was thinking through and she was stopping before [inaudible] before having the big wobble. So yeah I think we should appreciate the fact that she managed to pull it off like that after 10 minutes of waiting.


BLYTHE: She stepped up and she nailed it. It was like hey judges, you want to try to play mind games with me, no no no. I don’t go in for that. I’m going to show you guys this is how you do a beam routine. And she did.


JESSICA: Any other stars in the audience? Anything else we should discuss? Who?


EMMA: Bogi of course, the beautiful Svetlana Boginskaya. And there’s Courtney Kupets was here. Alicia Sacramone. The queen Beth Tweddle and the king Louis Smith.




ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: Visit, that’s sportz with a Z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code GymCast.


JESSICA: If you’re enjoying this special coverage of Worlds or our in depth interviews we do on a regular basis with your favorite gymnastics personalities, please write a review of the show on iTunes. Also please subscribe on iTunes. Or you can even subscribe via email on our website. If you’re an android user you can subscribe on the Stitcher app. Of course you can also support the show by donating by shopping in our Amazon store. You can get the fabulous smelling Louis Smith’s biography in our Amazon store and a little portion of what you spend will go to the show. We also post all the routines that we talk about on the site. Everyone that we can. I tried something new and put up a playlist this time so let me know if you guys like that better. You can follow along with what we’re talking about while you watch the playlist. So follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook for all the most important news and burning gymternet questions and most important routines to watch. I want to send out a really special thank you. It was our birthday episode two episodes ago and I completely forgot to thank our transcribers and I feel like the biggest ass. So for everybody that loves the transcripts and for those people that aren’t able to listen so they have the transcripts and for the hours and hours that they spend typing and making the transcripts even possible, thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you guys. And if you love them, tweet at us with like #transcribersareawesome or something. Let them know if you love those transcripts. I also want to thank Ivan for all his help with remastering our episodes this week. It’s been awesome. See you next episode where we will be talking about men’s and women’s all around finals. Have fun watching Worlds!




JESSICA: I seriously thought there were birds, they’re so huge. And I feel terrible now that I was so outraged about all the giant moths and butterflies and everything that were going on at the Commonwealth Games a couple years ago in India. And now the same thing is happening. We had bats at our National Championships and now there’s giant moths here. Now I feel like I should’ve never said anything badly. It had nothing to do with India. It’s just igant buildings they can’t keep the wildlife out of. Now what is going on with the Tandoori Poulet being kidnapped? I don’t care for this whole thing. I think it’s a distraction. I want the chicken there the entire time to be taking pictures with people. I don’t like this at all.


BLYTHE: You know what? You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to do a quinesentially American thing here and blame Canada.






BLYTHE: Eric Cartmen or whoever says it says it


JESSICA: [singing] Blame Canada


BLYTHE: Blame Canada. The Canadians are all staying in the hotel. And I don’t know Grace has had the chicken, a chip or something put in the chicken so she can tell where the chicken is even if she can’t find the actual chicken. Anyway. The technology is helpful with the chicken.


JESSICA: She has GPS in her stuffed chicken?


BLYTHE: Or something. Or there’s an app for that. Where’s my chicken.





[expand title=”Episode 53: All Around Finals Recap from Antwerp World Championships”]

JESSICA: Today Blythe, Bea, Michelle, and Emma are back with us to talk about Worlds up close and in person.


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 We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: So this is Episode 53 for October 4, 2013. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics

BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from The Gymnastics Examiner

EMMA: I’m Emma, Martha Karolyi impersonator

BEA: I’m Bea from The Couch Gymnast

MICHELLE: I’m Michelle and I’m a photographer and fan

JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the entire world bringing you the top news stories from World Championships. And today we are going to talk about men’s all around and women’s all around which just happened. If you guys didn’t get a chance to follow along, you can check out The Couch Gymnast. And you can check out Blythe’s awesome quick hits on Gymnastics Examiner or you can follow her on Twitter or Facebook. And if you didn’t get to watch the competition, you can watch it free at If you’re not in the US, just use a fabulous VPN to watch it. TunnelBear is what I like to use, so you can watch it wherever. And if you’re in the US, you can watch it on TV on Universal Sports or the whole thing will be broadcast on NBC on October 12 and 13 with I think Nastia commentating. And this could get more interesting with her commentating on this. I’m very excited. And I just want to do a shout out to the FIG for their ridiculous feeds the last two days. The slow motion, the replays, playing people’s routines instead of watching people warm up or like put their socks on on the sideline. It’s been better than any NBC broadcast I’ve ever seen in my life. So kudos to you FIG and whoever you’ve hired to do the production on the feed. I love them and the gymternet thanks you from the bottom of our heart.


This special World Championships coverage is brought to you by TumblTrak. Right now, TumblTrak is having a sale. All of TumblTrak’s in-ground traks, porta traks and rec traks are 10% off. If you’re getting inspired to try new things during Worlds, maybe it’s time for a TumblTrak. Check them out at That’s TumblTrak, do it again.

Ok let’s talk about women’s all around just ended. So let’s start from the beginning. Let’s start from the very beginning. First rotation, the top all arounders are on vault. I think Simone kicked ass on her vault. Was she the only one to do an Amanar today?

Blythe: She was.

JESSICA: And how was the vault rotation?

BEA: Very good. Very good. There were some big scores, maybe even bigger than qualifications which already has attracted a bit of controversy. But they were high for everyone and the vaults were good, uneventful but good rotation for everyone.

MICHELLE: I was sitting at the end of the vault runway and Mustafina, even on her straight Yurchenko timer, was really off direction so I’ll be interested to see a replay of her pre-flight because she’s got something funky going on there.

JESSICA: Oh my God. Let me just tell you. Her pre-flight looks like, I don’t even know how to describe it. I’ve never quite seen anything like this. I think Spanny’s website has a screen cap of her pre-flight, her Tumblr does. It looks like she’s trying to hop over, like doing a Hecht almost. Her head is sticking out so far, it’s just all wack-a-doodle. All I can think of is when you’re hurting or you’re in pain and so you’re just trying to do everything you can to just make your skill without it hurting and you’re just clenching to get it over with, that’s what it looked like to me. Were there any other signs of her today, she looked just way better to me today in general. It looked like the Mustafina was back. Except for vault, she seemed to be her usual self.

BLYTHE: Oh yeah definitely. And you know, as we’ve sort of said before, Mustafina, she certainly knows the difference between qualifications and finals. She has a remarkable ability to be able to do it under pressure when it counts, with the medals on the line, and she certainly delivered on that today.

JESSICA: I was thinking about what you said about her the entire competition, Blythe. I was like Blythe is totally right. She has gears, just like the Chinese and the Japanese men. She’s like eh it’s qualifying, I don’t need to straighten my legs too much. I mean, because even in her floor routine her triple twist was actually better. She still did the little figure 4 but it was better than it was originally. She made her fantastic whip-whip-double Arabian-jump pass, fantastic. So let’s go on to vault bars. Bars, I’m always a little bit worried for Biles on this event but she did well. And then can we just talk about little Shang Chungsong and her crazy ass makeup?


EMMA: Can we just talk about Shang Chungsong, however you say it and the fact that she must be eight years old?

[Ohhhhs from everybody]

BLYTHE: Controversial!

EMMA: She’s so small!

JESSICA: You’re not the only one to comment on that. And actually Rick from Gymnastics Coaching also brought that up and was like I can’t believe more people haven’t commented on it. I was like man they are all thinking it. She really looks like she’s 10. I mean you know, it’s not like the communist countries don’t have a long, long, long history of faking people’s ages. I mean how does Daniela Silivas still have her medals? I can’t believe the Romanians have gotten away with this for as long as they have. So yeah. In person, does she still, she must look even younger in person I bet.

BLYTHE: She’s very small. Today she was wearing a lot of hair glitter and a lot, a lot of golden eye liner.

JESSICA: It looked like it was hard for her to open her eyes under all that gold eye liner. Like when she fell off beam, I was like well that’s what happened. She probably told her coaches I can’t see with this stuff on. It was so much. I felt so ugh yeah.

MICHELLE: I had some Americans behind me today and they were talking about I think her specifically saying that the Chinese don’t learn and that she still has baby teeth, etc etc.

BLYTHE: And the thing is Shang was a senior in 2012. She was eligible to go to the Olympics and she wasn’t selected for the team for various reasons, probably inexperience is one of them. But so she is a second year senior so she’s going to be turning 17 this year if she’s not 17 already.

JESSICA: According to the documents. Ok so bars rotation, what was going on with Yao Jinnan? It looked like, I mean her routine was fantastic. Her coach was coaching her the whole time, which first of all, I thought that totally wasn’t allowed. I remember Ponor at the Athens Olympics. Maybe they changed that rule. But then, it looked like she didn’t go for her last Tkatchev because her coach was doing like a whole freaking comedy routine at the bar while he was watching her go. What’s up with the rules and do you think she left that out because she was like I don’t need it? What do you think?

MICHELLE: I saw someone posted on a message board a little bit from the Code of Points about speaking to athletes and it was .5 I think for first deduction if they speak or coach or cheer. I don’t know if that’s ever been taken.

JESSICA: Interesting because that’s the thing. A bunch of people are saying it should have been taken in Athens when it seemed that Bellu was yelling at Ponor to go for her full-in off beam. But I’ve never seen a coach coach as much as he coached her. And it didn’t look like they took a deduction from what her score was like so

MICHELLE: Could you hear it on the broadcast?

JESSICA: Oh totally! Yeah it was really clear. It wasn’t just once or twice. It was like every single move he was saying something to her. Any other highlights on bars for you guys? Mustafina, whew.

BLYTHE: Oh Mustafina was wonderful. But you know, to go back to Yao Jinnan, I can forgive the coach for talking. This is just my personal opinion, because if you’re going to do a Mo salto in competition and you’re going to do it and make it look like that, I can forgive it if it the coach is kind of saying hey c’mon and whatever other words of encouragement he’s giving her. But the bars rotation over all you know was just very very strong, like the leaders group for everything except beam was just very very strong and very nice to watch.

JESSICA: I agree. I mean that’s the thing. It’s like do I have any problem with people getting coached? It’s like eh I could really care less. And if they’ve never taken a deduction then that’s fine with me. Because if they never take it, then at least they’ve never taken it on any gymnast ever. If they took it now and hadn’t taken it for Ponor then you know, it would be an issue. But yeah her Mo salto, it’s scary as hell but it’s freaking cool. It’s really really cool. Ok, bars. Anybody else? Did Mustafina change her dismount? That was new. She hadn’t done that dismount yet right?

BEA: I have some snarky comments about the Americans because I feel that this is too much of a pro American commentary. It’s fine. We like the Americans.

BLYTHE: [LAUGHS] She’s looking right at me.

JESSICA: Blythe it’s your fault.

BEA: My impression that compared to qualifications, both of them had two stops in their routines and they got basically the same scores or higher scores maybe? Oh no, it was the same score.

BLYTHE: On bars?

BEA: Yeah, they stopped, both of them.

BLYTHE: Oh yeah. Kyla nearly over balanced on a handstand at one point. And Simone also. But the deduction has got to be minimal because it was so right on the edge of like is that a deduction or isn’t that a deduction. And Kyla had a couple of places on beam as well where I thought she you know, it was a little bit suspect.

BEA: Also, I thought that during the, I’m not against the Americans

BLYTHE: And we love Romanians

BEA: I’m just asking. I just thought that after, when she turned on the high bar, Kyla, her routine didn’t flow as well as it had in qualification. Was that just my vision? Was everything just slow in my head or was she struggling to get it? And she fought for it a bit too much to go for the dismount. She went her giant three times. So she was kind of struggling. I didn’t see her score at all which usually is perfect as well.

JESSICA: I agree actually. I felt that about both of them, that that was not their strongest bars for either American. And you can see it in Kyla’s face after she came off the bar, she was kind of like eh I could’ve done better. But is it enough that it would have made a difference really in the placement in the end? Were they ranked correctly?

BEA: We’re not talking about that. Shang’s glitter didn’t make any difference at all. If we’re going to be snarky, I want to be snarky about everyone. Is this a positive podcast or a negative one?

BLYTHE: It’s an honest podcast. An honest podcast.

MICHELLE: So I don’t know if you guys saw touch warm ups on the broadcast but Larisa her [inaudible]

BEA: It was completely off

MICHELLE: Yeah and that’s what she messed up in prelims so major props to her for getting it in competition.

JESSICA: Who is this?


JESSICA: Oh Larisa ok. Iordache yes. Her bars, I swear you guys, this is going to sound really bad. But I was watching her do bars and I was like oh who’s this? Oh that’s pretty good. And then I was like oh my God, it’s a Romanian. Good for her! She did a nice job on bars!

BLYTHE: I had the exact same reaction during podium training. I thought that it was a Belgian up on bars. And I don’t know where I got that impression

EMMA: Her leo wasn’t very

BLYTHE: Romanian yeah. And the coach was also wearing a t-shirt that said Romania on the back of it but I don’t know. The blue was a little dark and so I thought it was black and so the red, yellow, and black to my knowledge, I thought that it was the Belgian flag. So I thought wow this Belgian girl is really doing well on bars. And it wasn’t until the next rotation when they all went to beam and I was like wait a minute. This Belgian girl is Larisa Iordache.

BEA: But she did have a couple of problems. [inaudible] She also changed her transition from low to high, instead of a Maloney she did a Ray I think. She also did not keep that handstand there. So she could have had a much higher bars score. It was just an okay routine for her compared to what she’s done this year on bars. But she’s improving. She will be even better I think next spring.

BLYTHE: When you talked to her Bea, did she talk about next year I plan to do this and these are my goals for the future?

BEA: No. I think for now, she just didn’t really expect to be at this competition after the back problems she’s had. She said I didn’t expect to be here and I’m going to try my best to face everything as it comes here and then I’ll see what comes because honestly I don’t know how I ended up here. I’m so glad to see you guys.

JESSICA: Did she say anything about beam? Because of course then she went to beam and I was shocked that she fell. I mean she had been doing such a hard routine. She didn’t even throw her hardest routine and she fell. I was heartbroken for her. What did she say about that?

BEA: She said, I asked her if the problem was it was a little bit loud right when she went up and I know that she doesn’t like that. I’ve heard that she doesn’t like to be coached during beam. She doesn’t like to hear her teammates. She prefers silence. And so I thought ah here goes the crowd for a Belgian gymnast. Poor Larisa. And then she went for the layout to two feet and fell. I asked her afterwards. I asked her did you hear the crowd? And she said no. That was the element I was most confident about and I missed it. It sometimes happens. When you’re most confident about something, you’re not paying attention to it that much and then you fall. But I think it’s a little bit of both. And I also think that it’s her technique on the layout to two feet. She throws herself to the end of the beam and she doesn’t have time to land properly, she just hits her feet on the beam. Sometimes they stay there, sometimes she has a little bit of a fall. So maybe what happened today to make her fall won’t happen in the final because she’ll probably work more toward that and correct that. But she was heartbroken. She was. You saw that probably live during the medal ceremony.

JESSICA: She did. I felt so bad for her. I mean beam was a mess. I couldn’t believe it. I just have to say, I loved the fact that you put it like she throws herself against the beam because that is exactly how I feel when I watch Maroney do beam. She does not absorb the beam. She doesn’t land with the beam which is something I heard Sam Peszek say and Sam Peszek is amazing on beam, that you land with the beam, you want to be in the beam, where she just sort of like you know, it’s such a hard landing on it. And so and that brings me to the two Chinese gymnasts, Yao and Shang on beam who both fell. Oh my God! I felt so bad for them! I mean it’s beam, it’s China! That’s not supposed to happen!

EMMA: I know it was a mess. It was so sad! You just want everybody in the top group, everybody to go clean and it to be a real fight for the medals. You know it’s just sad that they couldn’t come through and just hit.

JESSICA: Now the two people that did hit who I thought were going to sneak into the medal rounds were Ferlito and Ferrari. They were killing it the whole meet right? They hit every single routine.

EMMA: Yeah and they were both competing at exactly the same time for the first couple of…because I was like oh I want to watch them both. It was like one eye on one and one eye on the other. Yeah they really did great and I had a big Italian group behind me who were going nuts.

JESSICA: And what did we think of Ferrari bringing back her signature cutout shoulders look on her leo?

EMMA: Oh she can do it. She can do it.

MICHELLE: It’s funny. I’ve never been a fan of those and they look terrible in pictures but in an arena situation, I didn’t even notice to be honest. I was watching her gymnastics and it looked good.

BEA: Yeah very many of the leotards looked much better. For instance, the leotards the Americans wore in qualifications in the arena were much nicer than on the screen. The patterns on the chest were not as obvious in the arena and it was a nice touch of sparkle for it not to be plain red. But then on the screen, it was obvious the pattern, I don’t know. So yeah it’s different how you see it in the arena.

JESSICA: I did appreciate that she matched her lipstick to her leotard, which now it’s like it has to be done like that. If Kyla had pink lipstick today because she was wearing her pink leo, this is now the standard, I have decided. This is the way everyone has to do it.

EMMA: I even wore lipstick today

JESSICA: Ha! Perfect!

EMMA: in support

BLYTHE: in honor

EMMA: Yeah! I rocked out the lipstick.

JESSICA: That’s fantastic! Oh there are going to be so many great Halloween costumes. Oh I just cannot wait for this. It’s going to be fabulous! So moving on to floor. So now, when we went to floor, Kyla was, it was Mustafina in the lead and then Biles.

BLYTHE: No, no.

JESSICA: No am I totally wrong?

BLYTHE: Biles led throughout the competition.

[All Chattering]

BLYTHE: Kyla was in the lead?

EMMA: It was really close.

BLYTHE: That I didn’t know.

JESSICA: Even my husband is over here giving me a look like hello it was Kyla! How could you forget her moment of glory?

BLYTHE: Well trained!

BEA: They showed on the screen that she needed a 14.517 and she got the 14.533 for the best beam in the competition by a long way and then she got her score and she was leading.

BLYTHE: Wow, ok!

JESSICA: Kyla’s beam, can we just talk about how you guys have watched her in the training hall and seen her in competition, it is the same routine. She is like a rock on beam. She always does exactly how she does in practice. I just love seeing her consistency especially on that event. She’s so badass.

EMMA: There was no danger that she would fall. You know, with everyone else, you’re kind of a bit hands on mouth ahhh. But with her, no. We knew she would hit it.

MICHELLE: Her switch ring is gorgeous. It’s so high and lovely position.

BEA: Everything is gorgeous. [Inaudible] The way she lands her layout step out with her feet really far apart, she doesn’t really need that. But maybe it’s just a habit she has now.

MICHELLE: She lands her aerial cartwheel like that as well.

BEA: Yeah so maybe it’s her technique or something. But yeah gorgeous, gorgeous. Very elegant.

JESSICA: So Kyla’s in first going to floor. And of course this is Simone’s event with her double layout half out, redonkulous. So it is Mustafina who went first or Ferrari? Both of them hit. Would you say, Ferrari, were they both better than they were in prelims?

BLYTHE: Ferrari wasn’t in the leaders group.

BEA: It was Shang Chungsong was first, then Mustafina, and the Iordache. Then Yao, then Kyla, and then Simone. So Shang Chungsong did an okay routine. But we don’t like her choreography that much maybe.

JESSICA: So I have to ask you guys? Do you think it’s supposed to be a comedy thing or do you think it’s supposed to be serious? I think it’s supposed to be like a comedy routine. Am I the only one that thinks that? Like it’s supposed to be funny?

MICHELLE: I think it’s supposed to be a cute, funny idea.

BEA:  They probably wanted it to be cute and have a story.

EMMA: It’s a bit like Mo Huilan’s typewriter isn’t it? Typewriter, gunshots

[Laughter from the group]

BEA: Then Mustafina finally did a floor routine that we are all in love with.

EMMA: Even with the legs

BEA: No those were not that bad. She did her Memmel. She added her stag jump. She did everything she needed to and she did quite well execution wise.

BLYTHE: For that first pass, a lot can be forgiven.

JESSICA: That first pass is sick! And hello, Larisa Iordache killed it! Oh my God, her floor was fantastic! I was so happy that after her fall on beam, she just knocked it out of the park with floor.

MICHELLE: Yeah all three of the gymnasts who fell on beam did good floors which was nice to see.

BEA: Yeah Larisa stuck her double double, stuck her full in, had a little step on her triple twist and then stuck her double back. She was really motivated. She told me she was really motivated to continue and have a good competition. She told me that Octavian Bellu told her chin up, don’t cry now. You still have one more routine to go and you never know what will happen so just do everything. And she did everything that she can do.

JESSICA: And was it just me or did Bellu emerge from a cloud of smoke out of the ground or down from the ceiling after her floor routine? I hadn’t seen him the whole time and then all of a sudden, he was on the floor and not her regular coaches. Was he there the whole time?

BEA: Yeah he was in the back so he was with her in the warm up hall. So for the first two events, Coach Sangu was with her because she’s allowed to have one coach and one medical staff so she had her physiotherapist with her and her Coach Sangu. And then for floor, Octavian Bellu personally [inaudible]. He came out for her warm up for floor, for her double double.

JESSICA: Oh so he was there for all of floor. Ok. So then it was Kyla Ross’s turn. And floor has been what she has struggled with all year. Not that she’s ever struggled with floor. It’s just been her endurance, getting that last pass in. And what did you guys think?

BEA: She was gorgeous.

MICHELLE: Yeah her floor gets better every time. And again, I think it’s one of those floors that does look better live than on TV.

JESSICA: I was stoked for her. I feel like her beam becomes more, she has more flourish, more not really artistry but more polish and more pizzazz I think. And the same with her floor. I was so excited. And then of course Simone. This is her event. Just walk me through her first pass. What was the arena like?

EMMA: Crazy!


BEA: They wanted her to hit and they wanted her to do well and take that medal. Everyone was prepared for the final crowning.

BLYTHE: Yeah she was the last competitor to go. And it was, you know sometimes it just seems like it’s perfect for it to end that way where you’re going to close out the night with an extraordinary, incredible performance and that’s exactly what she delivered. I do have to say when she went for second pass, the double layout half out, I thought for a split second when she was in the air, she’s not going to be able to land that. I mean she was just perfectly on and you expect maybe a little bit of over-rotation, a step or whatever. And she just turned her body in the air and I thought she’s going to fall on her bottom. And she didn’t. Just somehow she didn’t. It was a perfect landing. And after that, it was just like well, she’s got this. Obviously, she’s so got this.

BEA: But I do have a problem. Sorry to ruin the moment [LAUGHS]. We want honesty. If you compared her floor routine that she did in qualifications to the floor routine that she did today, I thought that the floor routine that she did in qualifications was a little bit better. The first and lass passes were controlled and today they were not really controlled. But that really didn’t matter. She would have won by a margin anyway. But just maybe the score, eh you know.

EMMA: Winner’s bonus

BEA: She won fair and square and she was pleased. I’d never seen her fall. Maybe once in practice. Maybe but I’m not sure.

EMMA: You’re making it up.

[Laughter from the group.]

JESSICA: I agree. I thought the same thing when she went for her double layout half out, I was like oh my god she’s going to land right on her butt. And then she stuck it. And then yeah I agree that her tumbling was not as controlled as it was. She had a lot more steps and little bobbles. But yeah I agree. But in the end holy crap. So when she- this is kind of the weird thing to me. One thing I thought was totally adorable first is that she kept looking at Kyla to see what to do. Like where do we go? Where do I stand? It was just ugh, I just love that she was looking up literally to Kyla during the whole podium award process. But also it looked like she was on the stands that she was kind of like on the podium she had a look like pfft, like almost like Nadia- and I’m not comparing Simone to Nadia, but I’m just comparing the attitude of Simone looking like the way Nadia said when she one in Montreal. She was like what is the big deal, this is what I do at practice every day. This is just, this is easy for me. I don’t understand what the big deal is. Kind of like she was just like yeah no biggie. I don’t know did it seem like that to you? Was I just overanalyzing?


MICHELLE: Overanalyzing




JESSICA: That happens.


BEA: I spoke with her in the mixed zone.


BLYTHE: She said it twice. She said I don’t really think it’s sunk in yet. And it seemed like in spite of just having been through the medal ceremony and she’s got the medal around her neck, she was very- I don’t know maybe just a little bit dazed that all that had happened. And throughout the meet she looked so focused. She was quite often with her back sort of turned away from the cameras, kind of almost in a corner as much as she could be. Not concentrating on the crowd or the scoreboard, even looking out at the field of play. And she just seemed incredibly focused the whole way. And when she came back to the mixed zone and she has this hoard of reporters waiting for her, well what’s it like to be world champion, and she was like I don’t know. Am I world champion? I need a little bit of time to digest this. And that was what she was like when she was questioned by the reporters.


JESSICA: That totally makes sense now. That definitely makes sense. What was the atmosphere like just for Aimee? You know Aimee’s been on the show before and we talked to her when it was kind of the beginning of this whole process. And also Simone’s parents, her biological grandparents but her adoptive parents looked like they were just over the moon. Everyone was giving them kisses from what I could see on the feed. What did you guys see from them after she won?


MICHELLE: I saw nothing




MICHELLE: I didn’t see any of it.


EMMA: They were on the big screen cheering, crying. Yeah it was very very happy. They were also on our tram on the way back and they had a crowd of people around them like applauding them, saying well done. It was very [inaudible].




BEA: Touched and shaken by everything


JESSICA: The gymternet is pissed. Pissed pissed pissed. Because they did not show Moors making her double double layout on floor. We never saw the routine.


EMMA: There is a video now of this on YouTube so have a look at that


JESSICA: Thank god. Ok so tell us. How was it? What did it look like? How was her routine?


MICHELLE: I think I squealed


EMMA: Yeah I jumped up out of my seat and fist pumped when she landed her double double straight.


MICHELLE: She did a bit of a Bela Karolyi




EMMA: Yeah it’s the best I’ve ever seen her do it. She stuck the thing. A bit soft knees, but well in trampoline it would count as straight. The hip angle was fine, it was just a bit bent knees. But I’m so chuffed for her, awesome.


JESSICA: Chuffed! Chuffed! We learned that word when Jenni Pinches was on! We’re all very chuffed, yes.




EMMA: Let’s hand around the sandwiches!


JESSICA: Ok, so the other two that I want to talk about is Elisabeth Seitz of Germany who just seems like she’s also on fire, just always hits, has her ridiculous def and her full twisting shaposh on bars. What’d you guys think of her today?


MICHELLE: To be honest I saw about half her around and about half of bars and that was it. So no comment from me.


BLYTHE: You know, Ellie Seitz is a wonderful gymnast, but she gives away quite a lot in form on almost every event. And she qualified to the all around in 23rd place, which was a bit surprising given her very high placements during the last quad and how well she really did at the American Cup earlier this year. And she’s a good trickster, but she does need if she wants to sort of remount in the standings to go back and kind of fine tune a lot of her events.


JESSICA: I’m not going to just preface this with anything, I’m just going to say Vasiliki Millousi and you just- did I just say her name wrong again? Ok. Vasiliki Millousi. Your thoughts?


EMMA: White swan


MICHELLE: Pink swan


BLYTHE: oooooh


EMMA: She was the white swan today. She didn’t have a very good time of it. She had a few errors and stuff. But you can’t knock her elegance and her style. She’s great.


BLYTHE: Yeah she’s really just liquid elegance. I felt pretty badly for her because she gets sort of inserted into the all around final at the last minute. I’m sure that she was not expecting to compete. And she goes out there and like the first 10 seconds of her bar routine she has a mistake. And it’s a mistake that’s going to drop her in the standings quite a bit. And then she has to go through the rest of the competition not having planned to do all around all again anyway. Knowing that she’s made this mistake. But she seemed really really happy. She sent out a Facebook status at the end of the competition and said finally I got to compete in the all around final at Worlds, what a pleasure that is. She’s 29 years old. And to be in a competition like this in a final like that has got to be a thrill.


JESSICA: What’d you guys think of her floor routine? It’s very different.


BLYTHE: It’s wonderful.


EMMA: Lovely


JESSICA: That’s what I think too. It’s totally unique, it’s totally downplayed, it’s very slow, it captures your attention because you’re like what is this music that isn’t trying to scream at you. It’s just trying to get you to notice. Totally different. I just love her floor.


EMMA: Yeah it suits her and it’s magical to watch.


BLYTHE: The showmanship in that routine, she gives a clinic to the rest of the world about how to perform on floor when she does that routine.


JESSICA: Well put. Ok anything else before we talk about the men?


BEA: Yeah Blythe and I had an encounter.


BLYTHE: Oh! This is a good segue to talking about the men.


BEA: So we were walking back to the press area and then we saw Louis Smith. And we passed by Louis Smith and we sniffed him.




BEA: Because we were curious. So result, he smells like fruit. It’s a bit-


BLYTHE: It’s a bit citrusy. It’s a bit flowery. It’s a bit fruity. Yeah no that was the first thing that Bea said. But it was really good. Really really good.


BEA: You have to imagine something


BLYTHE: Oh and by the way the back story on this of course if you didn’t listen to the show a couple days ago is Emma got a photo with him. And she came back and she says man he smells so good. And so when we pass by him and he was being prepped for British television we thought we’re not actually going to go up and talk to him or anything, but we kind of tried to get a bit near and then we’d kind of had a whiff of the aura of Louis Smith. And it was quite palpable. Really really good.


EMMA: Can I do second [inaudible]. Last night I met Philipp Boy. Oh my goodness.


BLYTHE: We’re all terribly jealous.


EMMA: This guy is like a piece of art.




EMMA: He has the most beautiful face, not to mention everything else is beautiful. But Philipp Boy in a suit looking like a beautiful statue.


BEA: And you got a picture with him. And actually it was [inaudible] pictures and I [inaudible] the camera didn’t work properly


EMMA: I had to [inaudible] him for a little bit longer than planned.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] And what did he smell like?


BEA: He was [inaudible] and he said come on!


EMMA: I was so in a gym coma that I couldn’t sniff.




EMMA: So I don’t know. I didn’t smell.


MICHELLE: Can I say one more thing about the women’s before we go on then?


JESSICA: Oh please please do


MICHELLE: Yeah I was so impressed with the number of school skills we saw today. We have the Mo salto on bars and Sasada from Japan did her round off back full onto beam and made it. We had Moors which is awesome. And Steingruber who had a really good day did her full twisting double layout. And the other one that caught my eye was Popa, the Spanish gymnast, she did two whips into a full in and nailed it. And so many cool skills. And the Biles. And the second best Amanar. Such a good meet. I’m still buzzing.


JESSICA: Did you guys- is Popa- no I may be totally imagining this, but there was some American gymnast who moved to Spain and then did gymnastics in Spain and competed for them. Is that her? Or am I totally making that up.


MICHELLE: No that’s Colussi


BLYTHE: And she’s Canadian. She trained in Ontario and has trained in Ontario. And now she’s a freshman at the University of Florida actually. She’s got a really nice new floor routine that was obviously choreographed by the Florida choreographer. And if you get a chance to check that out on YouTube it’s really worth seeing. Beautiful choreography, beautiful dance.


BEA: Yeah. [Inaudible] Romanian origin. She started gymnastics in Romania. She trained in Romania for a few years. And when she was seven she moved with her parents to Spain. So she’s the product of Spanish gymnastics all the way when [inaudible] from Romania.


JESSICA: Credit where credit is due, that’s right. Romanian roots, love it. Bea is there anything else that you want to get off your chest? I want to make sure that we’re making this a very honest podcast.




JESSICA: Is there anything else you can think of?


BEA: Everything is [inaudible] Jess.




BEA: Shang Chunsong’s vault. Shang Chunsong’s vault. No I was saying way back that maybe judges on vault were a bit generous. And [inaudible] for Shang Chunsong’s full twisting yurchenko. She was a bit piked and messy form. She got a 9 for that, and normally you never see a 9 for that full twisting yurchenko. But it seemed that everyone was in a really good mood




BEA: It was not just Shang Chunsong. It was everything. Everything was maybe a tenth or two tenths higher and it was level. It was not for only special occasions. Yeah. It’s fine.


JESSICA: Ok good. Glad. Right so let’s talk about the men. Uchimura of course has now been compared to the DuckTales uncle who just lives in a pile of gold. And there’s a fantastic meme going around that Spanny and Team Orozco Fans came up with of him as a duck jumping into the pile of gold like on DuckTales. Did you guys have that show in Romania or in England? DuckTales?


EMMA: We have DuckTales yeah. Now you’ve got the theme in my head.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Yes, awesome. So yeah I just, he’s, it’s just ridiculous. The thing I was most impressed with with the men’s competition is the level of consistency and hitting. There were a couple of- I mean it was when we got to high bar, then a couple people fell apart at the end. But I mean overall people were hitting every routine.


MICHELLE: Oh yeah it was so exciting.


JESSICA: It made the competition to see everyone hit hit hit. Like that’s what we wanted from the women from beam. The other thing that totally stood out, and Rick from Gymnastics Coaching is making this point is that the men’s form is so much better than the women. And I only assume this is the fault of the code that they’re not hard enough on the women. You did not see people twisting with figure 4 legs in the men’s competition. Their twisting form, all the form except for cowboying double tucks on vault, which is fine with me because I want everyone to live.




EMMA: Ok I’ll go. I thought the competition was amazing. You’re right, the consistency was awesome. Just tiny little mistakes were making the difference between third/fourth, fourth/fifth, and that was really great to see. Great skills, some meltdowns. I think you’re right about the twisting form. I’m trying to think of a male gymnast who has bad twists and I can’t.


BLYTHE: No. When everybody ends up with a round off triple full or at least half of the competitors are doing. And not bad round off triple fulls. Good round off triple fulls. Yeah their form is pretty impeccable.


EMMA: I think people need to start taking note of men’s gymnastics. Because the arena had half the amount of people in last night as tonight. And it was really good last night.


MICHELLE: Yeah it was sad to see empty seats because it was a brilliant competition.


BLYTHE: And you know like Rick has been saying, even if you go to the world cup meets the men’s competition is far more competitive than the women’s competition.


MICHELLE: Really and there’s more personality. They really want to win and they really want to hit.


EMMA: Fabian, how many fist pumps did he do last night?




BLYTHE: Roaring like a lion, getting more and more excited everything that he landed.


BEA: Yeah five after each event


EMMA: It was so great to see. Then when he got his medal at the end he was like it’s a dream come true. And you’re like it’s a dream come true for me as well!




BLYTHE: My favorite was his high bar dismount where he landed it and he mouthed yeah baby.




JESSICA: I thought that was so- I love that he yells in English. Just like so I decided that when I do anything well in life in general, I’m just going to do a stick position then just yell something in Japanese. So I have to learn the equivalent of yeah baby in Japanese because I think that would be-


BLYTHE: Yippee ki yay


JESSICA: There we go. Like I just, it’s just so funny that he did it in English. But then again he wants everyone to know what he’s saying so there you go. But yeah he ok and also did you guys notice Uncle Tim has started calling him Fabian Hambiceps now because-




JESSICA: Because biceps is a competition. But also his singlet was like way lower. Like he was showing a lot more cleavage than the other guys.


BLYTHE: It always is. It always is.


EMMA: Can we just point out that Bea was very distressed at the bagginess of Whitlock’s shorts.




JESSICA: They were way too big! I thought they were going to fly off when he tumbled!


BEA: I don’t know much about men’s [inaudible]. Because I’m good with Fabian Hambuchen. Then I said Emma look at Max! Emma is that normal? And she said Max usually [inaudible]




JESSICA: Seriously they look like he was wearing his big brother’s shorts. Yeah I don’t appreciate that. Sam Mikulak, now his shorts fit very well. And we would like to say hat’s off to the men’s American team for those.


EMMA: Sam, we should try to sniff him out.


MICHELLE: I’d rather dance with Sam. He was dancing when he got his flowers. It was hilarious.


BLYTHE: The US men have gone for a bit more of a constricted shorts look over the last few years than they have in the past. I think that Danell Leyva and John Orozco and yeah, it’s a different style.


JESSICA: Oh they know what’s up. Fitted. That’s what we like.


BLYTHE: Fitted. Fitted.


JESSICA: Now Emma, you were not having it with Mikulak and his dancing. You were not going to be convinced.


EMMA: I felt bad that he had his mishap on bar because he was great yesterday. He was really great. And I was really rooting for him. And you know you want everybody to hit. You want it to be a great big fight. And he did this weird thing where he kind of, I’m going to pull off saving it, no I’m going to fall off, no I’m going to save it. And it lasted about five minutes. But yeah, he can dance now. I think he’s great. And such a good sport.


JESSICA: He so looked like he wanted to cry. Like he was trying to be a good sport but he just looked gutted. Then did you see that he gave his flowers to his mom in the stands?


EMMA: Yeah


JESSICA: Aw what-


MICHELLE: I think she was actually on our tram ride home with the flowers.


EMMA: She was yeah. Yeah. The tram is a very good place to be.


BLYTHE: The tram was the social place.


JESSICA: So the other person who really really stood out to me was mister Brazil, Sergio.


BLYTHE: Sergio!


JESSICA: First of all, I could look at him all day long. And second of all, gorgeous incredibly difficult gymnastics. I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed him before. What was wrong with me. He’s fantastic.


EMMA: I hadn’t noticed him either, so you know you’re not the only one.


JESSICA: He’s definitely on my radar now. Ok the one weird thing that happened, and I don’t really know from the feed exactly what the rules are or if we actually saw things in real time. But there’s a guy whose grip broke on high bar and thank god he wasn’t doing anything hard and he wasn’t injured. And he jumped off and ran directly to his gym bag to get his grips. And then they didn’t let him go because he didn’t get back in time. And I was like isn’t that a special- don’t you get some extra time if your grip breaks?


BLYTHE: Well the rule is generally 30 seconds. You have to remount the apparatus within 30 seconds after a fall. And this is not the first time it happened. Remember Alexei Nemov at the 1997 World Championships on rings. His grip snaps in two and so he jumps down and he doesn’t have another grip in his gym bag ready. And he knows that he’s not going to be able to make it in 30 seconds. And so he just stood there on the podium, saluted the judges, and that was the end of his routine. He got like a 7.7. And that was the end of his all around competition. And it was a shame. Now I was doing quick hits so I was trying to look at everything and I saw that something went wrong and it was the Swiss man Oliver Hegi who’s really quite a good gymnast. He was in the top 10 in qualifications. And he had such wonderful very light work on high bar before. And so and then all the sudden he was off the bar. And I didn’t see why. And then he got off the podium. And it was like obvious he was not going to get back on the podium. And the crowd began booing. He thought maybe he’d just given up. And that was the only time really that the crowd has booed. And I don’t think they understood. And yeah, it was just a shame. Really too bad for him because he’d been having a great competition up to that point.


JESSICA: Now speaking of a crowd there’s one other thing I think people were very confused about. A lot of people on twitter were talking about- maybe you guys can clarify what was going on. Some people thought that when- so from the feed it looked like when some of the Japanese gymnasts went the people were playing drums either to try to distract the Japanese gymnasts or along with their routines. Some people were totally offended that that was happening. But my understanding is these were actually people who were supporting another gymnast that had nothing to do with trying to damage the routines of other gymnasts.


EMMA: Partly they were Fabian Hambuchen’s bundesliga teammates.


BEA: And they were also the other guy [inaudible] from Germany and the other guy from Spain and the guy from Belarus I think.


BLYTHE: Lichovitsky?


BEA: So they were cheering for both Fabian and-


BLYTHE: Oh it was like a bundesliga gang because both Gonzalez and Lichovitsky compete in the German bundesliga for different teams. And yeah I did notice especially it was during Kohei Uchimura’s pommel horse routine. And Kohei was sort of going alone. There was nobody else on the equipment at the time. And this very rhythmic, very loud drumming started happening from sort of one pocket in the arena. And I thought maybe it was the Japanese fans. Maybe this is what they do during Japanese Nationals or something like that. And it wasn’t. But props to Kohei. He’s so great that it didn’t even faze him at all. I did think that it bucked off one of the Chinese gymnasts when he went to do his pommel horse routine later in the competition. He seemed distracted by it and he fell.


JESSICA: Now Kohei is now, as if he already wasn’t, he already has been, but now he’s even more the best gymnast ever of all time ever. Male or female. Because he’s now broken- he’s even broken Larisa Latynina’s record I think. Right because didn’t she win- she won like seven right? But that was the medals, not the competitions in a row. So I’ll have to look that up. I feel like he did.


BLYTHE: No man had ever won three world titles back to back to back. And Kohei broke that record in 2011. So really he’s done it five times if you count the Olympic year as kind of substituting for the World Championships. He’s been untouchable since 2009. And we’ll never really know because he was 19 at the 2008 Olympics but you have to remember he won the all around silver medal and he fell twice on pommel horse in that men’s all around final. And so you can’t say what if, but it’s pretty amazing that you finish second in the Olympic all around final at the age of 19 after falling twice on the pommel horse. He is the best gymnast, the best male gymnast who ever lived. No question.


JESSICA: So my question for you guys is, do you think he will make it through to Tokyo since he looks as good as he ever has? And then outlier like, who would have done this. Like could he actually make it to Tokyo in 2020?


EMMA: I think it’s possible. Maybe not all around. But certainly look at Jordan Jovtchev. People like that just who have been to Olympics after Olympics you know? I don’t think maybe he will get a gold medal in the all around in 2020, but I can see him being there.


BLYTHE: Yeah, same. I think that it’s going to depend on Kohei himself. And he certainly looks capable of just carrying on and carrying on. He’s never really shown any weakness whatsoever. And the only time that you could say well that wasn’t a very good performance was in all around prelims at the Olympic Games when he had two big mistakes he just never made before. Then he came back and he had sort of his usual performance in the all around final except for his yeah, his one tumbling pass on floor. But yeah I mean he’s got such good technique and he is so technically superior to almost everybody else out there on the floor. He’s so consistent and he just kind of gets into the zone and is able to come up with these amazing performances. And as long as he’s able to do that, I think the Japanese will have him.


JESSICA: He is just fantastic. Anything else you guys want to talk about? Any other encounters? Special sniffing episodes that you had before we sign off?


EMMA: One more encounter. No sniffing. But yesterday I went- I’m just a big photo person. I like to get photos. And I went to see Svetlana and Oksana, who, they need their own show. They are like a comedy double act. They are so funny. So we need to campaign to start get them their own TV show.


JESSICA: I’m totally all for that. So Oksana’s english is good? Like you can-


EMMA: Yeah. Yeah.


JESSICA: Oh my god


EMMA: We had a little chat.


JESSICA: Oh my god I can totally see a Bravo show with the two of them. Oh my god.


EMMA: The names even rhyme. Svetlana, Oksana, you know?


JESSICA: Would be hilarious.


EMMA: They were on this stool for the gym cam stuff so they were doing photos and stuff with people. Yesterday we saw Aly Raisman as well. She’s here. Philipp Boy of course. We’re hoping to see Raducan tomorrow.


JESSICA: I will expect a full report after Sunday of all the encounters you’ve had.




ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: Visit, that’s sportz with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.


JESSICA: Ok until next time after all around finals and Worlds is over, I want to let you- so sad! Follow us on Stitcher. Review us on itunes. Donate to the podcast. And of course follow Bea on Couch Gymnast and Blythe on Gymnastics Examiner. And of course you can always email us and let us know what you think. or you can even call into the show, we’re on Skype at Gymcastic Podcast. And until Sunday at some point or Monday morning, I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner


EMMA: I’m Emma, Martha Karolyi impersonator


BEA: Bea from The Couch Gymnast


MICHELLE: Michelle, photographer and fan


JESSICA: Thanks you guys, see you after finals!





[expand title=”Episode 54: Event Finals Recap from 2013 World Championships”]

EMMA: 40 cents. Outrageous. It’s outrageous. Because for all qualification, you could pee for free.




EMMA: And then suddenly finals day there’s attendants on the door and you had to pay 40 cents.




JESSICA: We are back in Belgium with Blythe, Bea, Michelle, and Emma and all of their insights being there at Worlds. The last day of Worlds. It was event finals. And they’re going to tell us all about it.


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 We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: This is episode 54 for October 6, 2013. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner


MICHELLE: I’m Michelle, photographer and fan


BEA: I’m Bea and I’m on suicide watch




EMMA: And I’m Emma, and I’m so sad that it’s all over


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I’m sorry [LAUGHS] laugh at that, ok. This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you all the news from World Championships. And today we’re going to talk all about event finals. I want to remind you guys to follow Blythe and Bea. Bea is on the Couch Gymnast, Blythe is on the Gymnastics Examiner. Their fabulous insights, interviews, quick hits, all from Belgium at the World Championships. If you missed anything, you can read their sites or you can watch the competition in full archives at or USAG’s YouTube channel. And also, the NBC will have Worlds on later this month. And if you’re in Canada, you can watch Kyle Shewfelt and Laurie Strong will be covering Worlds on Canadian TV on October 19th. And if you liked being able to watch all of this, if you liked live podium training and live and archives of everything and all this incredible coverage, let USAG know. Let the FIG know. Your opinion matters. You make a difference as a fan. So let them know if you like what you have been seeing.




JESSICA: This special World Championships coverage is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. Right now Tumbl Trak is having a sale. All of Tumbl Traks in ground traks, porta traks, and rec traks are 10% off. If you’re getting inspired to try new things during Worlds maybe it’s time for a Tumbl Trak. Check them out at That’s Tumbl Trak, do it again.




JESSICA: Let’s talk about the meet. Ok. First of all. Emma has some very important news to get off of her chest. Emma?


EMMA: I really do. It’s been the best day ever. So this morning, myself and Blythe went to Starbucks and we just happened to have a little old coffee with Aly Raisman. So-


JESSICA: Oh my god


EMMA: Woohoo!


JESSICA: Tell us everything


EMMA: That was so much fun. So much fun indeed. And then later this afternoon, I met the legendary Andreea Raducan. Excuse me while I just scrape myself back up off the floor.


JESSICA: And we were saying earlier she really is like a princess. There’s something about her. She ports herself like royalty.


EMMA: She’s [inaudible]. She just floats around on her little wings flopping. She’s beautiful.


JESSICA: I love her. And how did they smell? Did they smell as good as the boys? [LAUGHS]


EMMA: Aly Raisman told us the secret of the US ladies’ lip- well it’s not lipstick, it’s lip stain. And it’s a brand called Steeler. And I’m going off to buy some as soon as I get home. [LAUGHS]


JESSICA: Alright let’s start with the first day of finals. It was men’s, started with men’s vault right?


BLYTHE: Right.




BLYTHE: Oh sorry no no


JESSICA: What did it start with?


BLYTHE: Men’s floor


JESSICA: Men’s floor. Ok. So I mean I’m totally blown away. I mean ok so you guys, give me the low down because you were there. So just to tell you guys who competed. So it was, there was Scott Morgan from Canada, Hambuchen, Legendre, Mister I don’t have glue on my feet Legendre who we always think is going to do amazing and then always hippity hops on his landings, Diego Hypolito, Daniel Purvis from Great Britain, Daniel Purvis known famously for straddling the judge’s face on vault, Kohei Uchimura the king, Jake Dalton of the toe point, and Kenzo Shirai of the I can do so many twists you can’t even believe it with perfect form. Ok. Break it down.


BLYTHE: Well Kenzo Shirai was the leader going into the event finals. And although he does not do a routine with any double flips in it, not even any roll out skills which are basically 1.75 flips, he absolutely blew everyone else away with his twisting. Front triple full and quad full to end. And his start value was just so much higher. I think it was .6 higher than anybody else in the field. And his form was really impeccable on the twisting. And so he went up last in the event final and everybody including the announcer expected him to take it. And he delivered a really wonderful routine. He had this bright enthusiastic smiley reaction afterwards. And he took the gold medal. Props also to Jake Dalton, who came through with a wonderful routine on floor for the silver. And Kohei Uchimura who led off the event final in wonderful style and delivered his usual solid elegant difficult performance and ended up taking the bronze.


JESSICA: A lot of people talked about going into this Diego Hypolito and the crazy start value he was doing. And he always has beautiful form. And also Daniel Purvis, who as we know, Great Britain has brought in a special woman choreographer and great women’s coach Caroline Angela Orchard to work with them on their presentation and artistry. What did you guys think about those routines?


BLYTHE: Well Hypolito, he finished fifth in the final. And to me I kind of hate to say it but Hypolito is kind of on the down swing of his career. He is still an excellent gymnast, but he is not the gymnast the he once was. And he’s beginning to lose his form a little bit. He had a couple really interesting tumbling passes here. A double arabian through to a punch front full and I think a whip to double arabian pike. And he works a lot of interesting skills in the gym. He’s got something like three skills named after him on floor which are all kind of variations of arabian double fronts in various positions with different amounts of twists in them. And he’s not doing any of them anymore which is kind of odd. But really with Hypolito and also with Legendre, it’s a question of form. You know? The legs a little bit in twisting, the knees, the toes. Steven Legendre, his is his fourth World final on floor exercise. And he does a terrific routine with so much power and he’s the only guy who’s doing a two and a half twisting double back. Unfortunately when you compare his execution to the execution of somebody like Dalton, somebody like Uchimura, somebody like Purvis, even somebody like Kenzo Shirai, it’s not the same level of gymnastics. And this is why he kind of consistently is in the pack but fails to medal. And I hate to say that. And I feel like that’s being a little bit rough. But it’s not even the hops I feel like that’s keeping him back. It’s just the fact that his leg form and his foot form doesn’t look as nice. But that’s all in my opinion.


JESSICA: Yeah. No it’s true. Everyone wants so badly for Legendre to do well and he just never sort of totally- I mean not, that fifth on floor in the world is not bad at all. But yeah. What about Daniel Purvis? Did you guys notice the artistry? Did he stand out at all since they’ve been working on that?


MICHELLE: I mean all the routines- this floor final was one of my favorite competitions of the whole thing. Really impressive. Every routine had something special. Dan had his straight leg roll out of his thomas which he’s been doing for years and always gets the gasp. Even here it was nice to see him do so well because it has been a few years since that floor bronze. And you know his all around was good. So yeah, very happy for him. He couldn’t have done much better to be honest.


BLYTHE: I feel like he’s quite elegant on floor. And again, another guy who’s always in the event final or it feels like he’s always in the event final but doesn’t always medal. He’s got really excellent form. And he’s played with some new tumbling passes this year which is nice to see. He now opens up with a double double tuck on floor. And he dismounted with whip to arabian double pike which is extraordinarily hard as a sixth or seventh line. And he does it really really well. And so really, props to him. It was a bit of bad luck that he was in fourth place because he really could’ve been up there. Only one tenth separated him from Uchimura.


EMMA: No shame in coming forth to Kohei.




JESSICA: Seriously. Ok on to women’s vault. So this was the battle of kind of an unheard of- I mean she placed at Europeans but Natteb from the Netherlands. Then we had formerly trying to commit suicide by vault Yamilet Pena from Dominican Republic doing the produnova which has kind of gotten better. Then we had someone who’s usually has beautiful form, which is Phan Thi from Vietnam. And then we have of course no final is complete without Chusovitina. The standard. Then we had Guilia Steingruber who’s been doing really well internationally this whole year. Keeps sort of placing right outside of the medals except at Europeans where she did really well. And then we had of course 2008 Olympic champion on vault Hong Un Jong from North Korea. And then Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney. So. Give me the lowdown.


BLYTHE: And the winner was- it went to Maroney. She won gold on this event in Tokyo in 2011. She was able to defend her title here. She did a very nice amanar. Little bit of a hop step thing on the landing. She did go for the stick and she didn’t quite get it. But she did get a super high execution score. Simone Biles took second place as she should have with a really wonderful amanar of her own. But not quite as difficult second vault as Maroney did. And that was really the difference between them because Biles was second to Maroney even with this vault that the second vault that was not as difficult by 0.129. And so you can kind of think well if Biles had stuck her vault, she might have actually beaten Maroney. And Maroney at the top she’s got to be feeling the pressure. And I’m sure she’s very relieved to have won this set because of all the things that have happened in her life and her goals for the future. But Maroney is looking to step up her game really because she’s not quite alone at the top anymore. Whereas before this competition, every competition that McKayla Maroney has entered on vault, it’s like if she stands up she wins. It was like that in 2011 at Worlds. It was like that at the Olympics. And in spite of the results that she’s had, it’s been like that. But Biles is going to challenge her. There’s video of Biles doing a terrific cheng second vault, which is harder than Maroney’s second vault. And they really are neck and neck on the amanar. Sure Maroney gets more block, she gets more height, but Biles- it’s really not too shabby. And Biles has been scored better on her amanar here in Antwerp than Maroney has. And if Maroney does it perfectly as she’s capable of, she will get an enormous score. But that’s kind of been if if if situation. And as far as the rest of the final goes, Hong Un Jong, who had the most difficult vaults, the most difficult two of the finals, she was the only one to throw a cheng as a second vault. She doesn’t quite have the amplitude of Maroney. She doesn’t have the power of Biles. But she does have the ability to do these two incredibly hard vaults and put them to her feet. And so as a result she got bronze. But she got a bit less in execution then either Maroney or Biles and that’s what put her in third place. But what was interesting about the vault final, you really had these eight gymnasts and eight different stories. Guilia Steingruber who took fourth is European champion on vault. Nailed her first vault, the rudi. And stuck landing. Her second vault, she did only a double twisting yurchenko. She took a hop. And there’s been a bit of internet controversy saying Steingruber should have the bronze medal over Hong. Personally I don’t agree because Hong maybe she doesn’t quite have the form, but she had .7 more than Steingruber in start value. Steingruber’s form was better but I do not think it was .7 better than Jong. And that’s a lot to make up. And Steingruber’s a very capable vaulter. She’s a capable gymnast. I talked to her coach a little bit earlier this year, he said she has a terrific head for gymnastics. She knows where she’s going and what she wants to do. And she looks like she has the capability to upgrade. But if she wants to get in top three in World finals, she is probably going to need an amanar. An amanar and a rudi.


JESSICA: So afterward did Maroney say anything about- when you talked to her did she say I know I have to do the triple if I want to win? Or did she say she’s working on anything new?


BEA: I was at the mixed zone when McKayla came back after getting her medal. And she said that that was definitely her next goal, getting vault named after her. And she said that this [inaudible]. And she [inaudible] gymnastics until she has a vault named after her. And she was very excited about the winning the gold here. But also relieved.


EMMA: And also [inaudible] said today that she’s so [inaudible] the pressure to repeat the title after London. So hats off to McKayla I would say.


BLYTHE: Yeah she looked a little nervous starting that second vault. I don’t know if she really was, but it had to have been in her head that here you go and I better not sit this one down again.


JESSICA: Yeah really I feel like she and Uchimura have to have so much pressure on them Because they’re just expected to win. There’s no other option for them. And of course McKayla had an epic fail at the Olympics, whereas Uchimura has only had that in prelims and still qualified to everything and won. But the pressure on her must be enormous. And she has all these huge sponsors now. There’s so much more that’s going on just like there is for Uchimura. He’s giant star. He’s in every commercial on TV in Japan. And it’s just a totally different ballgame. I wanted to ask about, and I think this is correct, correct me if I’m wrong, but Yamilet Pena has now made all these vault finals without ever actually successfully completing the produnova.


BLYTHE: I want to say that she made the produnova to her feet in 2011 in the qualification round. Never done it in finals. But she did do one in 2011 in Tokyo that she did stand up.


JESSICA: This is debatable. So I was at World in Tokyo and she squatted so low her leotard touched the mat. But they counted that as making it. So that one is a debatable would you count- eh, you know. She didn’t put her weight on her butt, but yeah that would probably be the closest. But I’m glad it’s- I mean at least who is it, Turkey? Egypt? Didn’t make it. Her’s is terrifying.


BLYTHE: Fadwa Mohamed. And actually after seeing Fadwa Mohamed’s handspring double front, Pena’s frankly looks a lot less scary. She does get a very good block on it. And you don’t trust that she’ll get it to her feet, but you do trust that she won’t be put in the hospital from doing it. And that’s something.




BLYTHE: Yeah. Unfortunately there was an injury in the vault final to the Netherland’s Chantysha Netteb, who was the reigning European junior vault champion. And she won that title last year in Brussels. And she did a double twisting yurchenko first vault. It looked nice in the air. It looked like she had the landing and just landed a bit straight legged and went down and had to be carried off the mat. And she’s in Amsterdam right now undergoing a full evaluation on her knee. Given the way that she reacted, it was probably an ACL tear. But we’ll see.


JESSICA: That’s sad. Ok let’s go on to an event with usually less injuries and more hilarious falls. Pommel horse.


BLYTHE: Pommel horse


JESSICA: What happened there?


BLYTHE: Well pommel horse you know you had a really interesting lineup. You had the Russian pommel horse specialist Matvei Petrov. You had Prashanth Sellathurai of Australia who has been sort of a mainstay in pommel horse finals. He works pommel horse faster than anybody you’ve ever seen do it. It looks like a video that’s being played in fast forward to look at him. And pommel horse is kind of also the domain of these sort of tall, long, elegant men. And little Prashanth has to be about 4’10’’ tall and it’s quite amusing. Unfortunately for him, he fell. And it just- going a little too fast maybe. I don’t know. And the title went to a surprise actually, Kohei Kameyama of Japan who hit a really beautiful elegant set with a ton of variety. And in the silver medal position we got a tie between again the tall elegant Daniel Corral Barron who’s a young guy from Mexico. Great on pommel horse, great on parallel bars, and is really just now attracting attention and getting his due. And Daniel Corral qualified second into the final. And that was really nice to see him hit the routine and get some recognition for Mexico. He absolutely deserved it. He tied with Max Whitlock, the bronze medalist from the Olympic Games from Britain. And Max did a very hard routine. Very hard. I think the highest start value of everyone in the pommel horse final. Where he has fallen off a little bit, and Rick McCharles facts this up as well, is his form is not great. I was looking through the Getty images of this meet and there’s a picture of Max on pommel horse in the middle of a flair and his feet are completely flexed. Like his feet, his ankles, and his feet. And I thought eh you know. And he kind of came up as a great junior pommel worker and he’s got an extraordinarily hard routine. But it would be nice to see him go back to the gym a little bit and really work on the form.


MICHELLE: He knows this. He called it scruffy




MICHELLE: He knows he needs to work on it. And he just doesn’t have the same high hips as the Japanese and the Chinese. The same lines. So there are things he needs to improve.


BLYTHE: He’s not low to the horse either. Like you think about someone like Sergio Sasaki from Brazil. And unfortunately for him he’s just got that kind of body type where he’s not bad on pommel horse but he’s probably never going to make an event final just because he’s got the shorter stockier body type that doesn’t look as nice. But yeah Max has room for improvement but he’s also very young. And this is his first World Championships. He was an alternate in 2011, and so you think with all the Olympic experience that he’s got that he’s this seasoned competitor. But he’s really not. He’s very young. Got a lot of room to grow.


JESSICA: I’m so happy to see Great Britain continuing this fantastic tradition that has been started with the excitement around the London Olympics. And to still see them doing so well. It’s just great. I just love their style of gymnastics and just see the country is just still behind this great sport. It’s just I feel like there’s a total revolution going on.


BLYTHE: And there’s much more to come. The British juniors that we saw at the European Youth Olympic Festival this summer in Utrecht were incredible. The men were incredible, the women were incredible, and we’ve definitely got things to look forward to in the next few years.


JESSICA: Yay! That’s exactly what the Olympics is supposed to do. Oh go ahead.


EMMA: Yeah the public know about gymnastics now. They name gymnasts other than Beth Tweddle. And I remember watching when I started watching gymnastics in the 90s you’d be lucky to get an all around final to [inaudible]. And [inaudible] and Lisa Mason. But where they are now is just incredible. And I never thought I’d see it. And you’re right, you’re going to get no argument from me, it’s going to [inaudible].


JESSICA: So let’s talk about bars. This was a shocking final. Like I don’t think I’ve- I mean really I want to cry just talking about. It’s still so upsetting to me. Ok just to break it down. Ok it was Becky Downie, Ruby Harrold, Yao Jinnan who does the Mo, Sophie Scheider from Germany, Simone Biles- so this is like her worst event and she made bars finals, Mustafina who Olympic champion on bars, incredible on bars, and then Kyla Ross always very clean, and then Huang Huidan from China. So someone who won’t cry can talk about this. [LAUGHS] I’m so upset about bars. Blythe?


BLYTHE: Well in the media gallery before the bars final, I kind of went around and took a little poll. Who’s your top three? Who’s your top three? And a lot of people kind of said Mustafina, Yao, Kyla. You know or Yao, Mustafina, Huang. Nobody said Huang first, Ross second, Mustafina third. And that’s how it turned out. Simone Biles was fourth, and that was kind of a shocker because she’s not known as a bars specialist. She’s alright on bars. She’s got good combinations. But nobody sort of expected her to be in that fourth position. And she hit her routine and that’s where she was. There was some beautiful work. There were also some falls. Becky Downie unfortunately. Michelle is doing a very big facepalm right now. She had a wonderful set in qualifications after looking a bit out of sorts in the training. And she hit a routine in qualifying and she got in and that was fantastic. And she had a wonderful routine going in the finals, and then you know she overbalanced I think the last toe half before her dismount.


EMMA: Her routine is so long though.


BLYTHE: And it’s so cool. Yeah.


EMMA: It’s very cool. It’s very cool but oh god I wanted to cry.


BLYTHE: Yeah and she fell off and she looked devastated and all the British fans were just devastated with her. And she really had a shot at a medal and unfortunately that’s gymnastics. Things can be going so well. Mustafina, she hit her new routine. You know full twisting Maloney to mixed grip, and everything. And she did all of her combinations and she was good. She took a step on her dismount, and that didn’t help. And so the silver went to the cleaner Kyla Ross. And of course Yao Jinnan, she was maybe the big favorite going into this with the Mo salto, with having made the Mo salto in qualifications it was great. She attempted it in finals, and unfortunately she slipped off. And that’s a scary thing to watch somebody fall on.


JESSICA: Yeah how exactly- because it was hard to tell exactly. Can you describe for people that haven’t watched it yet exactly how she fell?


BLYTHE: Well you know coming out of the Mo salto of course you are going forward and down. And your elbows are out. And so when she falls, she got her hands around the bar and just couldn’t quite keep them around the bar. So she peeled off. And years and years ago, I saw somebody break both their arms kind of falling the way that she fell. And it’s just a terrifying sickening way to fall. And she was alright. But you really kind of think wow you could do some damage slipping off like that, falling on your stomach, falling onto your arms and your elbows. And the coach is there, but maybe the coach can’t get there in time to really catch you and break your fall. So she seems like she’s lucky she was alright, but it also seemed like she’s done that in training a time or 10. And they dealt with it. The rest of her routine she got right back up there and she was fine. But that took her out of contention of course. And then it fell to Huang who hit her routine and who has really been one of the best bar workers in the world since 2011. We haven’t seen her in big international meets. And the Chinese put her in. And she did a terrific routine. And she absolutely merited I think winning the World title. She was the cleanest. She has a nice original well composed routine. Really hard combinations. And overall really pleasing style on bars.


JESSICA: And so this is what I take away from this. I feel like I mean it’s nice to have a final where there isn’t much controversy. This pretty much- people who didn’t make it wiped out, and it seems like it’s pretty clean how this ended up. I feel like Becky Downie is probably going to cry for a week, and then she’s going to be so pissed off that she’s never going to let this happen again. Like she-


EMMA: I hope so. She did it in the all around though as well. So you know, it’s always like fists in mouth when you watch her compete sadly.


JESSICA: Ugh it’s so sad! I want her to win so bad. Ugh. Alright well we’re just going to have to- is she coached by Amanda Reddin?


EMMA: No she’s in Nottingham Club.


JESSICA: Well, perhaps just for bars, she should make a little change. Or Reddin could come visit.


EMMA: [inaudible] by Martha a two week stay at the Ranch like Simone Biles had.


BLYTHE: That’ll whip her into shape.


JESSICA: Too scared to fall. I’m happy that Ruby Harrold did a good job. That routine is so exciting. We love seeing something new and innovative. And bars is one of those opportunities for gymnasts to be so innovative and unusual. I’m just happy for Ruby Harrold that she made the final. So alright let’s talk about rings. There were some old names, old Van Gelder from the Netherlands. Now van Gelder is the one who had the cocaine problem.


BLYTHE: Yeah he tested positive for cocaine at the 2009 Dutch Nationals I believe. And if you’re going to test positive for cocaine, the Dutch National Championship is not the meet to do it at. But that’s what happened. And he got suspended for a year by his federation. And because he was suspended for a year by his federation- if you’re suspended that long, you are automatically ineligible for the next Olympic Games. So van Gelder was not even able to help the Dutch team as a specialist and try to make the Olympic team. But given the way that the test event was structured, it’s unlikely that he would’ve done that anyway. But yeah so he’s kind of holding out and waiting for 2016. I’m sure that it was a thrill for him to be kind of back on top and be able to make this final. And he’s not a young guy anymore. But he is a former World Champion on this event. And the crowd was really really supportive of him.


JESSICA: That’s so nice to hear because I remember there was- he was really upset when he felt like he had gone through rehab and was really working his program to not be an addict anymore. And he kind of confessed to I think his coaches the last we heard that he was feeling a lot of pressure. And he felt like instead of them giving him the support he needed, they were just like oh you’re about to do drugs again? Ok you can’t compete. So it’s just nice to see that all of that has sort of been whatever has happened it’s all blown over and he’s really back where he should be. And that he’s gone through his treatment and doing really well. And then, total shocker, Brandon Wynn takes the bronze.


BLYTHE: Brandon Wynn!


JESSICA: Look at him!




JESSICA: He has done all this special like he got nutrition certified and he’s all into making himself as strong as humanly possible. He’s on the cover of a men’s fitness magazine in the US. It’s so exciting to see he won. And I guess there was a petition put in because he didn’t get the same start value. And you can read Uncle Tim’s full analysis of this on his site. But basically his start value was a tenth lower than what it was in prelims. And it was because he was a little more piked, he should’ve been more extended, on one of his moves. But in the end, sounds like this was a fantastic final and really exciting for the US to have a bronze.


BLYTHE: Brandon Wynn is the first guy to win a medal for the US on still rings since 1994 when a guy named Paul O’Neill did it. And so it’s a really nice moment for the US. And Brandon’s been on the team. He’s been to Worlds before. He was a member of the 2010 team. And this is his first time making event finals. And so he had a terrific competition. Made event finals on rings, got a medal, made event finals on p bars. And he’s just got to be a really happy guy right now. Probably one of the happiest on the US team.


JESSICA: And how was- and for Brazil this is a huge deal. And this has got to be- he’s going to be an instant super famous I feel like in Brazil for Arthur Zanetti with a 15.8. One of the biggest scores. Was a 16? I think Kenzo’s 16 was the biggest score in the whole meet? Anything more? I just feel like it’s rings, I never feel that excited about rings. What can we say [LAUGHS] about rings?


BLYTHE: A huge score. And for Zanetti who was not expected to win the Olympic gold medal. He won silver in Tokyo, yes, in 2011, but he was behind Chen Yibin. And Chen Yibin came to London and really looked just unbeatable. And of course there’s still some controversy as to whether Zanetti should’ve had that gold or not. And Chen took silver in London. But Chen is not here. And it was sort of Zanetti’s to lose. And I thought going into it he looked quite nervous. And then he hit his routine and he stuck his dismount and it was like all of the pressure just dripped right off of him. And he was so ecstatic. The biggest podium celebration perhaps of the entire meet. And there were quite a lot of podium celebrations especially today. So for him I think it’s fantastic. I think he’s proven that London wasn’t a fluke. That he can be one of the leaders of this Brazilian team as they prepare for Rio. And just in general to kind of show the world and all of the other really strong men, rings specialists out there, that hey he is king of the jungle right now. And that was just a really nice moment for him. Gymnasts don’t always live up to their potential, but he has.


JESSICA: King of the jungle, I like that. I’m going to just call rings tarzan event now. That makes it more exciting.

BLYTHE: King of the amazon.


JESSICA: Ok now beam. So, we go from zero controversy so mega controversy with beam. People are just in there’s like all kinds of dissatisfaction with this. Carlotta Ferlito gave basically one of her MTV rants after this meet about how she’s furious about the Americans are always getting their petitions accepted. And she’s just not having it. And again, this is not against individuals. This is just in general. She’s talking about how this goes. I think that’s always important to point out that no one’s going to punch each other in the face. This is not the MMA. This is just gymnastics talking about how the code is and how judging is. But of course and Svetlana Boginskaya’s day she may have bit someone afterward, but in this case no. It is- so give us a rundown. We had Rodionova, Iordache, Shang Chunsong, Carlotta Ferlito, Vanessa Ferrari, Biles, Ross, and Mustafina. Where did the controversy start?


EMMA: It’s all about Mustafina.


BLYTHE: It is. Mustafina was first up, and she just hit simply the best beam routine of her career. And given the way that she’s kind of looked all week, starting very very slowly in the qualification round. And I think it’s in everybody’s heads as well what happened in the all around final in London. She kind of dropped off the beam on her standing arabian and gave away her chance to have the all around title with that. And so since then as a result it’s all like oh Mustafina’s inconsistent on beam. But here, you know she got into the event final with not the best routine. And she just she was first up and she nailed it.


EMMA: And in training today she did so many attempts at her double spin and they were all awful. Shocking. Huge .5 wobbes, .3 wobbles. So I was surprised. But I guess maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at the competitor Aliya pulled out her best double spin of the day when it really mattered.

BLYTHE: Yeah. And she probably took a small deduction because the double spin was really a 2.5 spin but it kind of looked like she meant to do that in sort of a way. And it really, the rest of it was flawless.


JESSICA: Now a lot of people are very upset that the code allows for her to do a routine with so little tumbling. Her only series of tumbling is a front aerial to a back handspring. What are your thoughts?


BLYTHE: A bit NCAA isn’t it?


JESSICA: Right, very NCAA. I mean she has a 6.0 difficulty. The highest difficulty was Iordache with a 6.3. I mean you know this is the code. I mean she’s just using the code to her advantage. But do you think there should’ve been a deduction for a lack of composition up to the standard of difficulty?


BLYTHE: No I’m not bothered because in London, I believe her combination was back handspring back tuck. And that’s a bit level 8. And so to me front aerial back handspring also is not the highest level. But you know she does a fantastic switch half onodi more or less combined to a double turn, a double tuck, and a million other elite skills. So it doesn’t bother me. What do you guys think?


MICHELLE: It bothers me a bit, but I guess it’s the same as on floor. People getting their front requirement by doing an aerial walkover, which I see them as the same. Both a bit annoying. But.


BEA: Yeah and I’m glad to see a beam that doesn’t have as the Americans have [LAUGHS] flic flac layout stepout as a series. So maybe for routine, yeah we can accept that. If we accept the flic flac layout stepout then we can also accept Mustafina’s lower level maybe combo.


JESSICA: Right? I hear you because seriously everyone’s like it’s so NCAA it’s so low. And I’m like a flip flop back handspring, are you kidding me? That’s also super low level. Hello 92 we were seeing three and four layouts in a row. That’s like you know same thing, level 8 level 9. That is just as bad. I feel like an aerial back handspring if you actually do it connected could be even harder than that. So yeah haters pfft gonna hate. Alright. So Aliya goes, she sets the stage, and then what happens?


BLYTHE: You know and then it’s sort of well, who can beat that. And that’s always nice to see in the first routine because you’ve got to wait for seven other gymnasts and you think well certainly one of these people can beat my score. Certainly when you qualify in the eighth position, which is what Aliya did, it’s a nervewracking wait. And she looked very nervous. She kind of turned her back to the cameras and sat there and focused. And then the Italians went, Carlotta Ferlito, a nice routine. A hit routine. Not going to challenge in difficulty. And then Vanessa Ferrari hit a very nice routine but again, not quite to the standard that Mustafina had set. And so people kind of went through. And then early on there was an inquiry into Mustafina’s score. And then Kyla Ross hit her usual elegant solid set. Very nice. And that was the closest thing to challenge Mustafina. And then there was an inquiry into Ross’ score. And she got her total raised by .1. So she was within .1 and then some of Mustafina. And then and it was Ferrari in third place at that point. And Simone Biles, she did- well she didn’t fall. It wasn’t the best routine of her life. She didn’t fall, she had a couple of notable wobbles, she took a big step forward on her dismount, and she ended up initially in fourth place.

BEA: Behind both Ferrari and Ferlito after-



BEA: So she got 14.1 something.


BLYTHE Yeah. Yeah. And the Americans filed an inquiry on her score. And that ended up getting raised as well which gave her the bronze medal over Ferrari. And the Italians were not happy about this. Carlotta Ferlito gave a very animated interview to the Italian Gymnastics Federation in which she appears quite pissed off frankly.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] That’s a good way to put it.


BLYTHE: Bea translated it and what did she say basically?

BEA: Well basically she said that they both felt that they had the coo coo beans and that Simone Biles, who had better routines before in this competition, didn’t have her best routine. But then she filed that protest and she got her mark raised. Asked why, she said she’s the all around champion and maybe that counts for something. And also it has to do with the power the Americans or something similar. I’m not fluent on Italian, I understand a little bit. But between the lines, that was the message.


JESSICA: It’s worth noting that in terms of what she’s saying it has merit in terms of the fact that Carlotta Ferlito, she has a start value of 5.9 and got a 14.283, whereas Simone has a start value of 6.1 and got a 14.1 before her petition was accepted. In terms of the difficulty compared to execution, Simone, sorry Vanessa Ferrari and Carlotta Ferlito, Vanessa had a 14.3 and a 5.7 difficulty, their execution was much much better. But Simone has this huge difficulty over them, two tenths over Ferlito and 4 for Ferrari. I would be totally furious if the petition was accepted too.

BEA: Can I say something?

JESSICA: Yes, yes!

BEA: I think that it was not necessarily what made a difference, or not necessarily what made a difference was the D score before. Actually where the Italians lost a lot of points was on execution and especially for Ferlito. She didn’t have wobbles but that does not equal flawless execution. We saw breaks on her dismount.

BLYTHE: Her knees are bent on her dismount. And they always are.

BEA: Her ring leaps, her switch ring leap and ring leap didn’t look very good, bent knees. I think she got heavily penalized for those too. But yeah she felt she didn’t wobble but maybe she should go back and look at her own leaps. Those are also execution deductions.

JESSICA: Very very good point. And I think one thing that just brings, it reminds everyone of what happened in London. Why can’t the judges get it right the first time? Why do we need to have, there should never be so many petitions accepted. Really. I feel like I’ve never, I feel like there’s more petitions accepted now than ever before even though they’ve raised the price of putting in an inquiry and all this stuff. Ok and tell us what happened with Iordache. We were so excited for her. She has a 6.3 start value, the highest. We know that she can hit this routine.

BEA: Well her difficulty score, the maximum she can get is 6.9. She actually has been throwing a 6.7 routine lately. When everything hits, she should get a 6.7 execution (inaudible.) Today what happened? I don’t know. I don’t she knows either. To me it was obvious it was American I think. Mental weakness maybe? She did not look very confident in her routine in warm up either. Gymnasts come to the arena before the meet starts and they prepare and do a warm up on the floor so we got to watch that. And I saw her. Her layout to two feet was not on all the time so it was not very consistent. She did have problems with the back full that she fell on. I asked her afterward what happened and she said I always take a step on this element and today I wanted to do it with more care and go slower in order not to take a step back because I feel my shoulders are back all the time so I wanted to do better and it ended up not having enough rotation probably. That’s the technical part. What happened for her not to be able to hit this routine in finals? She had this. She did this routine very well this year. She managed to win many, many event finals. She won Euros. She won World Cup medals, gold medals with 15.5 scores in international competitions this year. But she didn’t hit today. Probably the fact that she fell in the all-around affected her more than it should have. I’m sure they will have to work on the mental aspect from now on, not only physical training.

JESSICA: I agree. Okay so, I mean it is like my dream for her to do her to like somehow figure out to do a full turn or something out of one of her passes or a jump and get like a 7.1 on beam and actually make that routine. That would be the most awesome thing if she won by like a point.

BEA: She has a double spin in the Y turn. If she puts everything in that routine that she knows, she can have over a 17. So she could.

JESSICA: It would be so cool! I would love that. Let’s talk about p-bars. This, we had Fokin from Uzbekistan which apparently is really hilarious and sounds bad when you say it in English accent. Can you guys say his name for us?


[Laughter from the group]

JESSICA: The British media have been cracking up about this all week. Give us the lowdown here. We had a couple of surprises on this event.

BLYTHE: Yeah well to me the surprise was actually not so much who won. The first guy up Lin Chaopan of China, one of China’s two new kind of star all-arounders, he just ripped off the best parallel bars routine, the most perfect parallel bars routine that’s been done in like ten years. And you saw that routine and that perfect stuck dismount and you’re like well, that’s just going to be really hard to beat in spite of the talent of the rest of the field. So he won. And Uchimura stepped up and delivered also, just an excellent routine to tie him for the gold. And then late in the final, John Orozco came up and delivered sort of his sort of usual solidness on bars and he ended up winning the bronze. To me, what was interesting about this final is you had Vasileios Tsolakidis of Greece, the bronze medal winner from Tokyo on this event. He’s just a tall guy. He’s not even particularly thin but he works parallel bars wonderfully with a lot of lightness. So he made a mistake and he essentially fell off. And he gets up and he does the next element and he does a layout dismount, not even going to risk the double pike and layout dismount. And then Anton Fokin of Uzbekistan, bless his heart, kind of same thing. He takes what is a fall and Tsolakidis at least did a layout. Fokin goes up to handstand and just and lets himself just fall down as though this were a training or a warm up or something. He salutes the judges and he gets off the podium. And I thought, gosh this is a World Championship final, guys. But at the same time, both of these men are in their thirties. I believe Fokin is in his thirties. Maybe they don’t want to risk trying the double pike and get injured if there’s no medal on the line. And that was really kind of the story of parallel bars finals. Everybody else did well but the top three, especially the top two were the top two.

JESSICA: Man, and you know, I just want to point out to everyone that we are fantastic at making predictions, almost always right on this show. And like we said from the very beginning, long long time ago that Simone Biles was going to be world champion, I would just like to point out that Blythe said that Epke Zonderland is really really good on p-bars and she thinks he’s even better. And here he is, in the final, ended up placing fifth with a 6.5 difficulty and a 15.3, ain’t not too shabby.

BLYTHE: Yeah and after seeing Zonderland’s high bar today, I maintain that he’s better on parallel bars than he is on high bar.

JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Alright let’s move over to floor. So a lot of people are talking about Mai Murakami’s routine. Did something happen, something stand out in that routine?

EMMA: The quad turn was pretty good. Her routine in general I thought was really good. I was quite surprised that it didn’t score so great.

BEA: She had a few errors on landings and I think she always gets severely deducted for her artistry because yeah they tend to take more deductions (inaudible.) But they have specific requirements like you’re not allowed to stand in the corner for too long and Mai didn’t care about that. I saw she was taking her time there (laughter) with all of the passes. So probably there goes one point.

JESSICA: So how about now, Ellie Black has been like killing it all year. She only ended up with a 13.5 in this final. And also Izbasa ugh. I mean it’s just like Bea told us earlier this week, she just focused on doing floor, she’s been doing great. She has a 6.1 difficulty. She even added some pizzazz to her dance, getting a little more sexy, turning it on, even though she killed me with that standing still in the prelims when she did a turn prep for like five seconds and then did a single full turn. I almost died. Are you kidding me? The tease, the teasing. Ok. So what happened?

BEA: She was teasing us all with a full turn because she has a planned connection of L turn with something else. I don’t know what. She has a spin combination there that she’s been practicing all week but never showed it in actual competition. She did a combo of two simple spins at nationals that didn’t get her any extra points in terms of difficulty. But yeah she was probably trying to decide whether to do her hard combo or not and she decided against it and we saw only a simple spin.

MICHELLE: But at least she stylizes with her spin. She has a cool hand position and it is interesting unlike Kyla’s full spin.

JESSICA: True! True dat. Ok Kyla, so everybody gets…I think she’s made improvements on her floor. It’s really beautiful. She has good form. Her artistry has improved. Her presentation, but you know, she does not have the difficulty on floor to make it in the top. And then we have Giulia Steingruber, she’s always so close! She’s always so close but not making it in there. We had Mai Murakami and then we have the top three. So it ended up being Simone, then Vanessa Ferrari yes!

[Cheers from the group]

JESSICA: And finally Iordache comes in the medal stand! So exciting! So tell me about those top three routines.

EMMA: I was sitting in an area that was Italian fans only and they just went crazy. I just got covered in flags and stuff. They had been watching the event finals for the last two days sitting by me and obviously Ferrari was fourth on beam, Busnari didn’t do as well as they thought he would so they sat there and were like ohhhh the whole time. And then when Ferrari got the silver, they went crazy. And I have to agree, she deserved it.

BEA: She totally deserved it. She had her chest low on her double double but it’s already such a difficult skill. But then she nailed all her other passes. She looked great on everything. No nerves like we saw from Izbasa for instance. She was prepared and finally she made it. We were all excited for her.

JESSICA: I’m so thrilled to just see her after so many years. She’s been world champion, she went through a terrible injury, some weird injuries. She gained weight, she looked so depressed. And she really got back into shape. She overcame these injuries. She seems really happy. She’s engaged now. Life seems great for her. I’m just so excited to see her doing well at her age and with everything she’s gone through. To have a world champion come back at this level so many years later, it’s just such a great thing for gymnastics. I’m so happy for Italy and for her.

BLYTHE: Yeah this is Ferrari’s first world medal since 2007. And so she’s had a long time to wait to get this medal. And it’s so nice that it came on floor which was an event that in 2010, a lot of people thought she was absolutely robbed on. You can’t help but be really pleased for Ferrari.

MICHELLE: Yeah she came fourth in 2010 and then she added new skills. She started doing the tuck back out and full in. She came fourth again, the tiebreaker, she’s got a leap named after her. Finally all the little things that she’s done to get better made a difference. She went first and I know she was worried that oh it’s going to happen again. Oh it’s going to happen again.

JESSICA: And before we talk about Simone, how about Iordache’s floor. She’s so fun to watch on floor. I really enjoy her.

EMMA: I think we should get Bea to talk about Iordache.

BEA: Why? I was on suicide watch.

[Laughter from the group]

BEA: Yeah she looked the best and you see that. She’s a very musical person and she loves to bring it on floor. I was really worried for today honestly because after the beam mishap. I know that she was not very consistent with her double double and I thought if she’s really really upset about her beam, she might kneel her double double down because maybe she just gave up. She’d maybe give up this performance. But then she took a small step, a small hop on the double double, a very small hop on the full in. Good passes, she can do them a bit better maybe but really minor deductions actually. And then the others looked very nice, the other passes, the other two passes. The triple full was much better than in qualification and in all around and the pike double back to finish. And so yeah, I asked her afterwards do you think this is consolation for what happened on beam and she basically said no. I’m happy to have a medal on floor but no. Beam is my event. Beam is what I love to do and yeah floor is something else. So that pretty much sums up Larisa Iordache.

JESSICA: So let’s talk about Biles. I don’t know if you guys, I don’t know if it comes across on TV how she lights up when she does floor and how just ballistic her tumbling is out of super long stretched beautiful, not a lot of people have pretty back handsprings anymore. But I feel like she does. And it looks like she could just stand still, not even bother running into tumbling passes. Plus she just lights it up. She reminds me of how Mary Lou Retton, I was thinking about this this morning. Who else electrified an audience like this? I just feel like more than any American in a very very long time, she really lights up when she performs on floor. And I just love watching her. Aside from the fact that her tumbling is ridiculous, she started with a 6.5, 3 tenths above anybody else in the field. What did it look like in person to you guys?

BEA: You know, we’ve seen her do better on floor but actually, she did exactly what she needed to do. She was so consistent throughout. I was talking to Blythe after floor finals and I told her, she’s so consistent. You have to admire that. Even the small mistakes are always the same. But the good things are more important here and they are always the same too. Even if she says, yesterday she told me she was tired, it didn’t matter to her. You have to admire that. Honestly we don’t, we agreed that maybe it’s not the most artistic floor routine

JESSICA: Oh yeah pshh, like an American with an artistic floor routine, when’s the last time that happened? As a country, we just suck when it comes to artistry.

EMMA: The music is terrible. I like crowd participation music and it was just awful. That’s my opinion.

BEA: Yeah probably with a really really good choreographer, even if Simone is not the most conventionally artistic gymnast on floor, this event in particular, I think something can be done for her to engage the crowd more with her floor. But her tumbling was spot on. Yeah and she had the difficulty and she did it really really well. (inaudible)

JESSICA: So do you guys, I totally agree. I feel like if Simone had a choreographer to match her personality and her performance level and her smile, she could be one of the greatest floor workers of all time. Because she has everything else. So who would your dream choreographer be for Simone?

BLYTHE: Val Kondos-Field, no kidding. Kidding!

[Laughter from the group]

BEA: Actually I think that Adriana Popa might be an interesting choice because she tends to study her pupils a little bit before working with them and bringing their personal style on floor. So if Simone has some personal style, and actually she does, that would be a much better fit.

JESSICA: I would love to see Sonya Tayeh, who does, I think it’s Tayeh is her last name. She’s on So You Think You Can Dance and she does these very like military tribal female superhero style dances. They’re very, I don’t know how else to describe them. But she’s so unique and I don’t know. I’ll have to put up an example of her choreography up on the website so you guys can see. Simone’s kind of like F U attitude. Simone’s like super nice but she’s also like pshh please I’ve got this. This is no problem for me. I will walk all over these bitches. She just knows she can do it. She’s badass. I feel like someone like Sonya Tayeh would create something so unique that goes with her personality. I think that would be really really cool.

MICHELLE: I’ll tell you who I’d like to choreograph her routine, my good friend Svetlana Boginskaya. Because you know, Biles has everything but the dance. (inaudible, audio messes up).

JESSICA: Oh and who has more of a FU attitude than Boginskaya?

BLYTHE: I’d like to see what Dominic Zito can do with her. Because it feels like what we were saying about Biles is the same thing that people were saying about Jordyn Wieber like in 2010. A fantastically capable gymnast and a huge talent and great tumbling but not quite there with the dance. And Dominic Zito came in there and choreographed an extraordinary routine for Wieber that just did whatever you would want a floor routine to do. It emphasized all of her good points and hid all of her weaknesses. It was a great piece of music, interesting choreography and it totally worked. So I think the talented Mr. Zito could definitely do something with Simone. But, and I feel like I’ve been defending Simone’s choreography all week. It’s not that bad as it is! It could be a lot worse. She’s not a ballerina. She’s a power gymnast. She’s incredibly bouncy. And I like the routine. It’s got a strong beat. She gets to smile a bit. It’s very engaging. It’s crowd pleasing. It emphasizes her tumbling. There’s nothing horrible about it. She’s not trying to be cute.

BEA: There is something horrible about it, sorry. There is a moment when the beat goes down and she does something with her arm

BLYTHE: Like a chicken dance. Bea’s doing a chicken dance.

BEA: It’s not fast enough. She looks as if she stands there and waits for the music to start again. She doesn’t do anything there. That’s horrible. I think that’s where most people lose her.

BLYTHE: I don’t know. Personally, I don’t think it’s that bad. I can be really critical of floor routines.

JESSICA: Yeah I feel like, that’s the thing. I just accept that in general, my dreams for what floor choreography should be will never come true in the US. I just feel like I give up. So anybody that even has an ounce of performance, who actually looks into the crowd, who actually smiles from the inside instead of smiling as a mask on their (car alarm goes off). Oh excuse me I’m doing a podcast here! We can’t be having car alarms going on in the background.

[Laughter from the group]

JESSICA: Hello?! Ugh how rude! [LAUGHS] There’s a little kid trapped in the minivan next to me because I am traveling to a wedding and he is knocking on the window and now the dad is coming out. Okay thank God. Now the dad’s also looking at him like are you kidding me? You’re supposed to stay in there and die of heat exhaustion. Who locks their little kid in the car? Now the little boy’s getting out and looking really pissed at his dad and yelling at each other. And he’s pointing at the car. Okay so now back to this. I have given up on my dreams of choreography ever being Svetlana Boginskaya-esque or Soviet-esque but what I want to say and I know that sometimes Simone’s coach listens to the podcast. Thank you Aimee for listening! Is that I feel like we know as fans, like in our hearts, how incredible and amazing Simone could, even more incredible and amazing she could be if there was even more of an investment in her choreography and artistry. And because we love gymnastics so much and we know that potential is there, that we have this dream, this fantasy of this incredibly powerful, electric performer being, you know the marriage of the gymnastics and the artistry and the dance coming together would just fulfill all of our gymnastics dreams and be the ultimate gym nerd fantasy. So you know, if anyone wants to contact Sonya Tayeh or Popa or any of these people, we’d be happy to help that happen because we would love to see it. Okay.

MICHELLE: You’re right. She’s not diabolical or anything but I guess we expect more from the world all-around champion and world floor champion.

BLYTHE: I don’t!

BEA: Why are you sad Blythe?

[Laughter from the group]

JESSICA: I mean when was the last time you guys, honestly when was the last time there was a floor champion in the last 10-12 years who was actually a beautiful dancer?

BLYTHE: Ok well other than Afanasyeva

JESSICA: Eh. She’s okay.

MICHELLE: Oh I had a soft spot for Lauren Mitchell’s floor.

JESSICA: (makes puking noises)

EMMA: I hated it!

JESSICA: Me too! It was the worst floor ever! And I really like that choreographer too.

EMMA: It really was!

JESSICA: It was horrible!

EMMA: Yeah it was horrible.

BEA: Sorry it was better than Biles


MICHELLE: Biles is better.

BEA: Shawn Johnson’s floor in 2007 was better.

JESSICA: Eh. She is a good performer, not good artistry or choreography.

MICHELLE: That was a terrible routine.

EMMA: Not the nicest music, granted. Not much dance, granted. But the girl could sell it.

JESSICA: That’s what we’re talking about. She could sell it. That is the thing. We’re going to have a whole separate podcast on this thing. Okay let’s move on to high bar. The grand dame of the world championships, saved until last, where men tried to hurl themselves into space and then grab the bar again without flinging themselves into the audience or onto the judges. We had China’s Lin Chaopan. We had Kato was back, the man who was second in the all-around. We had Germany’s Bretschneider. We had Colombia’s Jossimar who I enjoyed very much, his p-bar routine where he flings himself off the end and does a full-in instead of off the side. And then we had Sam Mikulak, his chance for redemption from the all-around where tried to do a press-up in the middle of his routine like four times and lost second place. And then we had Hambuechen  of the I like to show my cleavage and have huge biceps. Uchimura, king of Japan and of course the Olympic champion and Mr. surfer hair and I also go to medical school Epke Zonderland. How did it go?

EMMA: I’m also a god Epke Zonderland.


EMMA: And also there was several people in the crowd wearing Zonderland masks.

JESSICA: What?! Seriously?

EMMA: I saw it! I saw it! And they were all having their photographs taken with Zonderland’s brother.

BLYTHE: His twin brother. Yeah there’s two people who look like Epke.

[Laughter form the group]

JESSICA: Now when you say typisch Zonderland, is this like typical he’s going to win everything. He wears Orange. What does it mean typical Zonderland?

BEA: I said typisch Netherlands which means that he’s like a typical Dutch boy. They are all gorgeous.

JESSICA: Oh like blonde, tall, gorgeous, okay. Got it! Hot blondies, got it!

EMMA: He looks his nationality.

BLYTHE: He does. He’s a prototype of the Netherlands.

JESSICA: Ah very good. Okay so well you know someone’s a huge gigantic star when people have, when they have masks of your head. Oh my God! I can’t believe Brazil hasn’t come up with that yet for Carnivale. That’s going to be next.

MICHELLE: In warm ups, he got applause for just mounting the bar.

BEA: He did. We are in Antwerp so we are 50 kilometers from the Dutch border. Everyone from the Netherlands who knows something about gymnastics was here today to cheer for him.

BLYTHE: Yeah it was like a home meet.

BEA: Yeah it was like a home meet for him.

BLYTHE: And so far Zonderland has dominated our conversation about high bar finals. He pretty much dominated the high bar final as well. 7.7 start value. Is that correct for that routine that he did today?


BLYTHE: And that was just a D score that overcame everybody. His form, as we’ve kind of remarked before, is not the best. And in fact, he usually cleans himself up a bit more for finals than he does in qualifications. Today I thought he didn’t even do that. But he did make a Cassina to a tucked Kovacs and a Kolman to a Gaylord II and that was really what mattered along with the fact that he basically stuck his dismount and that was all anybody was looking for, you know here Epke. Have the world title! It’s cool because Zonderland, he’s been fourth and he’s been second and this was his first time winning the world high bar title. And it’s pretty special for him, to have missed out on it by so little three years ago in Rotterdam, to get it here in Antwerp, not too bad. Like you said, it’s like a home meet and there were a lot of people, a lot of Dutch people here in the crowd that got to see him do that so pretty special.

JESSICA: And let’s talk about men’s vault now. Men’s vault you know, sometimes people are like oh it’s so much better than women’s because they have so much better form. But then sometimes you go to a world final and half of the field is carried off on a stretcher like in 2003. This seemed like a great men’s vault final with a lot of surprises, a lot of validation, I’m thinking of you Great Britain and your choices for putting Kristian Thomas on the team, for who you chose for the team. Tell us about vault final.

BLYTHE: Well I think it first has to be mentioned, and certainly you know, they didn’t qualify for vault final but when you think about Ukraine’s Igor Radivlov and Russia’s Denis Ablyazin, the bronze and silver medalists respectively on vault from the 2012 Olympic Games, both of them had big problems in the qualifying round and didn’t make it to this. And so to me, there was a bit of a dearth of gentlemen with two vaults that began from a 6.0.

EMMA: A North Korean didn’t make it

BLYTHE: A North Korean, Rie Sie Gwang, he did a fantastic full twisting Tsuk double back with a little step forward but it was really well landed. And then he went for a piked Dragulescu and that didn’t happen. So three of really the world’s top vaulters weren’t in this final. But it was still a pretty awesome final. To me the highlight, in spite of Yang Hak Seon, the Olympic champion defending his world title from 2011 here and his Olympic gold medal and doing just two fantastic really hard vaults really well. I was really pleased for Kristian Thomas who did the best vaults that has been done here in competition. It’s on par with that Amanar that Maroney did in podium training. It was a Yurchenko double pike. He did the same thing in Olympic team finals, kind of akin to what Maroney did in team finals at the Olympic Games and it was perfectly done. It was perfectly stuck. And it was the single best piece of gymnastics at this World Championships.

MICHELLE: Stunning and only a 9.5

BLYTHE: It was wonderful. And it was great because really the last time we saw Thomas compete internationally was the French International and he fell on his handspring double tuck double front second vault and had to get kind carried off the mat. I thought oh my God it’s his ACL. But this time, the handspring double front was really really good and he just did a wonderful job.  And like Michelle says, I don’t understand the 9.5. I don’t see where there were any deductions on that vault.

MICHELLE: And he looked like he could do that Yurchenko double pike anytime. He came out with ten minutes to go on the warm up on podium and he just did two timers and that’s it. And that’s all he needed. And then he pulls out two vaults like that. Magnificent. I think Great Britain got bronze on vault at Euros in 2002, Cameron Jackson. But this is our first world vault medal and I’m really happy for him because a lot of the other guys on the team, Louis, Dan, Max, they’ve all had their shining moment. Now here’s his.

BLYTHE: And props also to Steven Legendre of the United States taking the silver with a really good Dragulescu and a really good Tsuk double pike. Steve’s a power guy and that’s where he shines and this was just really his day.

JESSICA: Honestly that guy, it seems like in competition, he only actually stands up, literally stands up landings on his feet without falling over his vaults like one out of ten times. So for him bringing it in this competition and finally doing the vault that we all know he’s capable of and also overcoming a gnarly knee injury that he had earlier in the year. It’s great to see him finally live up to his potential and really do what we all know he’s capable of doing. It’s really exciting for him. I’m so glad to see him. And I’m glad that no one was carried away on a stretcher right?

BLYTHE: Right! That’s always a plus!

JESSICA: Yay! Everybody wins! Okay so before we wrap this up really quickly, we have had a request for another Martha impression please.

EMMA: Oh my God! Well I can do one. And it’s when Shawn Johnson attempted a comeback and Martha was interviewed and they’re all pulling faces. They’ve heard it a hundred times. And she was attempting a comeback and Martha, the classic line is “We want the same Shawn” meaning they wanted the old Shawn.

[Sound byte]

ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: Visit, that’s sports with a Z and save $5 on your next purchase with the code gymcast.

[Sound byte]

JESSICA: Next week, we’ll be back with our regular scheduled show. We’ll be back on the 16th. Between now and then, we’ll be taking a long nap and we’ll be drowning our sorrows because Worlds are over. But if you enjoyed the show and you enjoyed our fabulous guests, let them know by following them on their respective sites, Gymnastics Examiner and Couch Gymnast. And hopefully Michelle will someday put a website together of all her gymnastics pictures, not to put the pressure on you.

MICHELLE: I will be putting a website together. Absolutely.

JESSICA: And Emma, you can follow her on Twitter at @moonwhiskey, what is your Twitter?

EMMA: @moominwhiskey

JESSICA: moomin, sorry.

MICHELLE: I think I’m going to make a blog with all of my photographs because I’ve got hundreds.

JESSICA: Yay! Oh people will love that. Awesome!

EMMA: Can I just mention one thing Jess?


EMMA: I have to talk to you about Peggy-gate.

[Laughter from the group]

JESSICA: That’s right! Oh my God, and tell people about the bathroom too! Peggy-gate and the bathroom!

EMMA: Ok today I snuck into the bathroom without paying because the guy wasn’t looking. Peggy-gate was just at the end of the competition yesterday, there was like two people left to go on rings. Like who’s watching that anyway? Yeah it’s true. I wasn’t. So there’s two guys left to go. She tries to sit in the delegation seating which is like the highest seating right at the back of the arena. And there’s nobody sitting there. There’s about three seats taken. The guy stops her from going down there and sitting down. I’m like what? That’s like Dame Peggy. How can you do that? Some guy came to her rescue and said it’s the end of the competition. She can sit there. But he was having none of it. He said I’m doing my job and I’ve been told to be really strict and she has the wrong pass. So she wasn’t allowed in. So then I thought well you know (inaudible). This is a great opportunity for a photograph. She was perfectly lovely and has very white and beautiful teeth.

JESSICA: [LAUGHS] That is good! I’m glad that you made her day after that. Because Shannon Miller’s beam coach should be allowed to sit wherever she wants forever for the rest of her life.

EMMA: Exactly!

MICHELLE: I should have given her my ticket in the lower tier. She could’ve had my seat.

JESSICA: Honestly, I mean come on now. Yes very good. Well done. So all of a sudden when it turns into finals, you have to pay 50 cents to go to the bathroom?

EMMA: 40 cents

BEA: Outrageous

EMMA: It’s outrageous because for all of qualifications, you could pee for free. And then suddenly finals day, there’s attendants at the door and you have to pay 40 cents. And one of my gym friends has to use the toilet quite a lot. As we say in England, that’s a (cut off)

JESSICA: That’s outrageous. I will have you know that tweeted directly to the FIG and to the organizing committee and I let them know that we at Gymcastic think of that, just it’s outrageous. Totally unacceptable. And that is going to go in my note to Grandi at the end of the year because I’d like to write him a letter and tell him what I think. I’m sure he reads them, puts them on his wall, makes a checklist. I’ve taken care of all of Jessica’s wishes this year. Before we go, if you have enjoyed, follow everybody. Make sure you subscribe to us on iTunes. You can subscribe to us on email on our website. Write a review of us on iTunes. We love reviews. And we like to know what you guys like about the show, what you guys dislike, what your wish lists are. So you can email us at Tell us what you think. You can also support the show by donating or shopping in our Amazon store. And of course always follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, whatever you prefer to get your news, Google Plus for you Europeans. And of course, make sure to follow, no I’ve said everything I wanted to say. Okay so follow everyone. Okay done. So until next week when we will be back with our regular scheduled show, where we will break down the best/worst of World Championships, the issues with the code, the things the meet organizers need to address like bathroom issues and of course the moths, the things that fashion designers need to take note of, we will see you then on the 16th. I’m Jessica from Masters- Gymnastics

BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner

MICHELLE: Michelle, photographer and fan

BEA: Bea from the Couch Gymnast

EMMA: And I’m Emma, very very sad that it’s all over

JESSICA: Alright see you guys next week and thank you so so much to our special guests for joining us.

BEA: So much fun!

BLYTHE: Round of applause!

JESSICA: Yay it’s been so fun!



[expand title=”Episode 55: Worlds Wrap Up & Ferlito-Gate”]

JESSICA: I know there’s a little tiny bit of background noise in this episode, but just bear with it. It’s just part of dorm life. I’m blaming Jenni’s roommate, sorry. I’m just going to because I don’t know where it came from. So anyway, bear with it. It’s a great episode and I hope you guys like it.

JENNI: Like negatively interpreting things out of context, like we were observing after the competition, blah blah blah. And I sent this email. And since then, he’s been good so I sorted him out.


JESSICA: This week, the state of gymnastics after the 2013 World Championships, Halloween costume contest, Dvora on Ferlito-gate and our favorite Brit is back!

ALLISON TAYLOR: Hey gymnasts! Elite Sportz Band is a cutting-edge compression back warmer that can protect your most valued asset, your back. I’m Allison Taylor on behalf of Elite Sportz Band. Visit We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: This is episode 55 for October 16, 2013. I’m Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics

UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym

JENNI: And I’m Jennifer Pinches from the newly updated

JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. So Jenni, last time we talked to you, you were retired and doing stuff on BBC broadcasts and now all of a sudden, you’re in the NCAA and unretired. How did this happen?

JENNI: Yeah! Okay, I finished my school exams which went quite well. I got two A’s in my A levels. And then I got an email from Ms. Val at UCLA and she said how would you feel about you know, going to UCLA to do college gymnastics. So obviously, that was a big deal. I didn’t even consider doing college gymnastics but Danusia Francis is obviously on the team, the Bruins team for UCLA as well and it sounded like fun so I thought about it. I researched a lot into it, thought can I come back to gymnastics and start training again and I went to visit and I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t say no to living in Los Angeles and taking on this new adventure. And yeah, so now I’m doing college gymnastics and it’s a new chapter in my career and a new chapter in my life.

JESSICA: Exciting! So how do you like it so far?

JENNI: Oh I really like it! I love it. Well, especially the weather, obviously. It’s freezing in the UK right now and it’s beautiful here. And getting back into gymnastics, I forgot how much of a ninja I feel like in the gym. Seriously, I’m relearning all my skills mostly and it’s so cool. I feel like I’m becoming a superhero again compared to the last year where I just haven’t done anything. So that’s really fun actually in the gym and obviously I’m doing university, college as you call it in America classes and studies. Yeah, it’s exciting!

JESSICA: Awesome! Well, we’re so happy that you’re here and doing that

JENNI: Yeah thank you yeah. And thanks for having me back on the podcast!

JESSICA: Oh you’re very welcome! The UK is the home of all great reality shows before they come to the US and apparently the UK is working on something very exciting having to do with gymnastics. Can you tell us about this?

JENNI: Yes! There might be a reality show just like Dancing with the Stars or Strictly Come Dancing as we have in the UK originally but for gymnastics. There’s talk of it being called Strictly Come Gymnastics. How cool would it be if there was a reality show to raise the profile of gymnastics in the UK and worldwide? People being interested in gymnastics and that’s definitely risen since the Olympics and people watching it on TV and enjoying it and having more role models like Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle to look up, rather than what we usually have, just singers and like models maybe. So yeah there’s going to be a Strictly Come Gymnastics show hopefully. And isn’t there going to be maybe one in the US as well?

JESSICA: Yeah the word is that John MacReady has pitched this show Celebrity Champions and it’s going to have Mary Lou Retton, Paul Hamm, and Shannon Miller who will like coach people doing gymnastics. It sounds like it’s going to be exactly the same because we copy everything the UK does when it comes to reality shows. But they’re developing it right now so we’ll see if it actually happens. But it would be so fabulous. I would love it. It would be the greatest. Yeah it would be really cool. They have to call it something other than Celebrity Champions. It needs to have gymnastics.

JENNI: Maybe they’ll change the name. Because otherwise it’s going to be exactly compared with Strictly Come Dancing which is our UK version of Dancing with the Stars. Yeah how are you going to get celebrities to actually do it because in the Strictly Come Dancing show they become quite good dancers. And if you saw Louis Smith on that show, he was great. I mean he won it. But he really learned to dance by doing it. I don’t know how much celebrities will be able to learn technical gymnastics skills.

JESSICA: Yeah that’s the thing, or get them into leotards either. This is the thing. I think they’re going to have costumes which I’m all for.

JENNI: Like ice skating costumes? Yeah maybe. That would be fun.

JESSICA: Okay, Uncle Tim. Tell us what’s happening with Komova for the Komova-philes out there.

UNCLE TIM: Well there are quite a few on Tumblr. We’ll get to that in a second. But Komova is reportedly still not training after what her father calls a serious case of meningitis and that’s coming from International Gymnast. They did a little article on her. However, Tumblr is blowing up right now because there are pictures of Komova sitting on an exercise bike, not peddling or anything, just sitting on one. So everyone’s saying she’s back. And then there’s also a video of Komova playing on some playground equipment, like this is a legitimate NBC fluff piece happening right before your eyes on Tumblr and so people are getting really excited about that. But still, I haven’t seen her go upside down or anything. But we’ll see. Hopefully she will be able to make a comeback from her illness and actually compete in 2014.

JESSICA: It’s going to be very exciting.

JENNI: Well from the pictures, it looks like have you seen those playgrounds that look like playgrounds but they’re not actually playgrounds? They’re like outdoor exercise gyms?


JENNI: Yeah it looks like she’s kind of messing around or stretching or something on one of those.

[Sound byte]

JESSICA: Uchimura did a rare, rare, rare English language interview with a guy that you know, Ollie at the BBC. Can you tell us about that interview?

JENNI: Yeah, Uchimura, the absolute legend, dominating men’s gymnastics over the past few years I think it’s fair to say. And then some interesting questions that he was asked by Ollie were does he think he’s going to be able to carry on in the future the way he’s been dominating the sport at the moment. I think it was Louis Smith who commented on this, saying that the Japanese team is so strong at the moment, that Uchimura’s spot is still not guaranteed even though he’s four-time world champion and Olympic champion. The Japanese team is so strong. Were you impressed by the other Japanese gymnasts as well? It wasn’t just Uchimura that won medals at the world championships.

JESSICA: Yeah when he said in his interview that he really wants to win gold to make up for his pommel horse handstand flub in London, I was like they could totally win. They could for sure win right now, the way the Japanese team look. They look incredible.

JENNI: It sounds like he’s more thinking about the whole team now as well. Because like he said, he was embarrassed in London because when there was that whole deal with them appealing and moving up to second place in the team after the pommel horse dismount mess up that happened, he said he was kind of not bothered about moving up to second from fourth position because for him that was still, they hadn’t achieved gold and that’s what he wanted. But he was embarrassed by the fact that he thought that in London because he wasn’t thinking about the whole team. He’s had many gold medals himself, but he said obviously the rest of his team wanted to win medals too and now he wants to think about the whole team together and think about the whole team winning medals for Rio rather than just himself, which I think is a really nice change of perspective for him.

JESSICA: I totally wondered during this interview if he’s a paid spokesperson from Longines because he talked about how he’s obsessed with watches and now that he has a baby and a wife, he can’t be buying watches, spending all his money on watches. But then he talked about how he loves, it’s more important for him to be recognized for elegance and winning the Longines prize than a gold medal. I was like dude. They could make a poster out of that and sell it. It’s like the most perfect advertisement ever. I was like that is why he’s so great. That right there. That is what you want people, I feel like I have perfect elegant form, execution to the inth degree. I just love that he said that.

JENNI: Yeah I’m glad that he won the Longines award as well because he needs to be recognized I think, his beautiful gymnastics.

JESSICA: Yeah I think a lot of the time, the Longines prize, you’re kind of like hmm really? But this, I think they got it right.

JENNI: Yeah sometimes, I’m like oh. Like why did they give, who chooses that prize? But this world championships, I was satisfied with who they gave the prizes to. It was Kyla Ross for the women and Uchimura for the men.

JESSICA: Yes and Kyla Ross, who got a smooch by Philipp Boy which of course is the best thing ever.

JENNI: (gasps) I didn’t see that!

JESSICA: Oh yes a congratulatory smooch on the cheek like you do in Europe, where you’re from.

JENNI: Well yeah [LAUGHS]

JESSICA: It was one of those. It wasn’t anything like, she should’ve grabbed him and like bent him over and whatever. What do you call that, she should have dipped him and planted one on him. I mean that’s what I would have done.

JENNI: Hey wait, hasn’t Philipp Boy just had a son?

UNCLE TIM: In July he had a baby girl

JENNI: Baby girl

UNCLE TIM: And nobody knew about it until now.

JENNI: Oh okay. Well maybe he wanted to not disappoint his many admirers

JESSICA: I think so. I think he kept it hush hush on purpose. But yeah he looks pretty adorable. He looks like radiating with happiness with the baby in his arms. It’s so cute.

JENNI: I know, it’s so so cute.

JESSICA: So let’s talk about the Aimee Boorman interview. She gave an interview with

UNCLE TIM: Triple Twist

JESSICA: Triple Twist, thank you, right after she got back. And she is of course Simone Biles’s coach. And we were thinking about this and we’re pretty sure that Aimee is the first female head coach ever to coach a world all-around champion.

UNCLE TIM: From the US

JESSICA: From the US of course. I think the Soviet Union did this. But yeah, that’s a pretty big deal in this day and age I think. Because all of the other head coaches have been men. Chow, Nunno, Bela, Geddert, so it’s a pretty big deal. So she said some interesting things in this interview. One of them, she said that the team, the girls train for 22 days without a full day off and without complaint, which is always shocking to me that anyone can just change their workout schedule and train for that many days in a row.

JENNI: That’s got to be tough.

JESSICA: I don’t understand that strategy though. I mean I guess it works if you don’t break.

JENNI: Yeah you have to be young to do that.

JESSICA: Yeah that’s the thing right? I guess it’s the kind of thing you can do when you have an army of gymnasts who can fill anyone’s spot at any time. But if you had to really keep your gymnasts healthy, I don’t think

JENNI: No, that doesn’t seem very wise. I mean you need rest. You need days for your muscles to recover, if not your mind as well.

JESSICA: Right? Yeah that’s the other thing. You’re sequestered basically the whole time. That’s the way the US system works. They’re not allowed to talk to friends or family. You’re not allowed to see them. You can talk to them on the phone, IM or whatever. You’re not allowed to see them. I would lose my mind. I would need a brain break from gymnastics, mental rest.

JENNI: Maybe they’re doing mental strength as well.

JESSICA: That might be it, that you’re so used to it that it’s like

JENNI: Yeah, you do it every day, repetitively, then I guess when it comes to competition, it’s just another day. You’ve done it that many times, it’s like ingrained within you.

JESSICA: That’s totally true. I haven’t thought about it that way.

JENNI: I think Martha said after the world championships that she was pleased with their consistency. Maybe that’s what she was hoping would happen and pulled off.

JESSICA: Yep and it definitely works. So I wanted to ask you guys about this and Jenni if you’ve ever seen this before. I heard that the guys use honey on p-bars. But I’ve never heard of it used on any female, women’s apparatus. But Aimee talks about how one of the funny things that happened was that she thought there was like a wet spot on the mat that Simone was going to land on on bars. And then when she went to wipe it off, she realized it was honey. So then she went to turn the mat over. Honey on the bars mat? That’s crazy. Did someone put it there so like I’ve been recommending to the men so their feet won’t slip? Have you ever encountered that? Ever?

JENNI: I thought you were going to say someone had put it there as like a practical joke like to make someone you know….


JENNI: No actually I’ve heard of it. When I went to Romania when I was like what 10 years old, maybe, obviously we just used chalk on water in the UK. But then when we went to Romania, they all had honey on the bars. They used no hand guards and they just used honey with their hands. I think maybe honey and a mix of water. But definitely women’s gymnasts do it as well but particularly the ones that don’t use grips.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah I was going to say, she was in a rotation with Yao Jinnan and Larisa Iordache and Shang Chungsong. So one of them was probably using honey I guess.

JENNI: Yeah definitely. The ones that don’t have the full grips, the full protection for their hands, I think it just makes them stick better because they don’t have the leather. So like China, Romania basically.

JESSICA: This is fascinating. I never knew that any women ever used honey on bars. My whole world has changed.

JENNI: I just remembered as well. You know Imogen Cairns from the UK?


JENNI: Of course you do.

JESSICA: Of course!

JENNI: She uses honey for bars.

JESSICA: She used grips though right?

JENNI: She doesn’t use only honey. She uses chalk more. I’m sure I’ve seen her carrying around a bottle of honey. So there’s got to be something said for its stickiness.

JESSICA: Very interesting. I’m going to have to get to the bottom of this.

JENNI: I wonder if different types of bees do better type of honey for bars.

JESSICA: Yes! It’s gotta be. Who’s the best on p bars? And it’s gotta be the Chinese. The Chinese honeybees are the best.


JENNI: This is why the bees are doing out, because everyone in China, they’re not actually dying. They’re keeping them in a secret hideout to make special honey for gymnasts.

JESSICA: We’ve gotten to the bottom of it. So the other interesting thing that Aimee said in this interview was that she had to skip the basics and make gymnastics really fun for Simone because she knew she would quit if it was not fun. And then when Simone was mature enough to understand that the rewards of hard work can be as fulfilling as doing things just for fun, then they can concentrate more on the basics like form and artistry and that kind of stuff. Some people have read this and just been like oh my God. That’s the worst kind of coaching. To me, I felt like this is how a great coach, why a great coach is a great coach because you understand the individual and you coach each individual differently. So like Simone would never have made it in the Soviet system where you don’t do anything but conditioning for the first like two years of your life and then you’re allowed to play. And then all of a sudden, it’s fun because you can do tricks. This is somebody who understood her athlete and motivated her with the things that she needed. What did you guys think of that?

JENNI: I thought that was fantastic. I think all coaches should use that kind of philosophy. It’s obviously worked for Simone. She seems to love her gymnastics when she’s out on the competition floor. She’s always smiling. Everyone loves her bubbly personality. Obviously, yeah it’s worked, the way that she’s seen that Simone wants to have fun in her gymnastics and allowed her to do that until she realizes that hard work can bring even more fun as well. And looking at each athlete and each not even just gymnasts, I think all athletes should be treated and coached as individuals. And I think that’s what’s going to bring the most successful results. So maybe other coaches have something to learn from her. Like you said, she wouldn’t have done so well maybe in a Soviet system kind of thing.

UNCLE TIM: For me, it was reminiscent of how a lot of guys are coached, at least in the United States where you learn the big tricks first and then you go back and kind of refine them. I think it can be a good technique. I don’t know if it’s always the right technique. Because some people will end up learning skills the wrong way and bad habits are hard to break as we have seen from a certain person in the United States’ Cheng which is very wrong and takes off of one arm. So I don’t know. I feel like its….I don’t know. It has to be done right for it to work.

JENNI: I think you can still probably do it right though. I mean you can still do things and chuck skills and have fun without learning bad techniques as well.

JESSICA: This is why I feel like coaching boys’ gymnastics is always, as you know, I feel like it’s hurting cats but also really fun because you can just like throw them around and it doesn’t really matter, I feel like until they’re way older that they have to point their toes or anything. You see how their warm ups are.


JESSICA: I just feel like it’s a lot more fun than having to be perfect from the time you put yourself in a leotard.

UNCLE TIM: While we’re on the topic of warm ups, Jenni can you walk us through how podium training goes down at the Olympics for instance. What are the judges doing while you’re doing podium training?

JENNI: I don’t think it’s any different at the Olympics than it is at World Championships or even a European Championships. Basically, so it’s like a mini competition without the audience. You go up. You start on the rotation and you warm up except you decide how long you warm up for obviously within an allotted time. But you decide how long you need to warm up, when you’re going to go, and then each person salutes to the judge, shows their routine, so the judges can kind of get a sense of what each gymnast is going to do. They write some notes down I think, on your difficulty values and probably things they are going to look out for in execution. I haven’t talked that closely with the judges. But yeah, we always used to treat it as basically a pre-competition. And then afterwards, if you have time, you can repeat maybe skills that went wrong in your routines that you saluted to the judges. Maybe you know, if you failed to prove that you can do it and yeah you just go around all the rotations and just show what you can do and then march out again but without the audience and without the atmosphere etc.

UNCLE TIM: I’m curious because there’s also an interview with Rodionenko and he said in it that Aliya Mustafina was kind of surprised during podium training because she doesn’t usually like to train her routines 100% during warm up but she had to do it and she’s not used to that. She was called for “equipment testing.” Can you imagine, he asked. She’s not used to that. They gave her a score and later during the competition, the details of her routine were stored in the computer. Does that sound right?

JENNI: I don’t know. Who asked her to do a full routine if she wouldn’t have done it before? I mean, there’s no one who says you have to do your full routine at podium training. I can’t think, maybe just another coach or something. Unless they wanted, the judges specifically requested to see her shaposh full twist or something. So they wanted to see that element so they could then be prepared to judge it in competition. But yeah, I think it’s difficult to translate that from Russian.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah because I was thinking, if you’re going to do a new skill, you have to actually perform it before the judges during podium training, correct? Do you know?

JENNI: I’m not sure. I only know that you have to perform it in competition to get it named after you. I’m not sure how the podium rule works.

UNCLE TIM: Okay, alright. And there’s also an interesting thing in the article about the fact that gymnasts do not know what their skills are going to be valued when they’re working on an original skill. And I’m guessing that he was talking about the toe-on full which she caught in mixed grip rather than catching it in regular grip like Elisabeth Seitz does from Germany. I think that must have been what he was alluding to in the interview. I guess that just seems kind of ignorant on his part. I feel like if you’re going to do a new skill, you should talk to the Brevet judges in your country and see what they think that skill will be valued as. And if they don’t know, you should compete the skill at like a minor competition or something to see what the judges give you because that’s how Victoria Moors found out that the double double layout was going to be an I because she competed it at the Pan Ams and they gave her a provisional I at that meet. And so I don’t know. I found that part kind of ignorant. What did you think Jess?

JESSICA: I mean, the thing about this is I agree with his point actually. He said in here that he thinks that gymnastics should have a table of elements the way that diving is, which is basically like if you have this many flips and twists, then you know by way of progression what each thing is going to be worth. You could do that to a certain extent in gymnastics. In another way, you can’t do that at all in gymnastics because there are skills that you couldn’t possibly put together every combination and not everything is linear the way it is in diving. But I think that his point is well taken in that you should be able to know what a skill is going to be worth without performing it first. I don’t understand why that’s so hard to do. Why couldn’t you just submit it on paper and say if this is ever done, this is what it will be worth. Why do you actually have to perform it? Now knowing what it will be worth ahead of time is not the same as if you’ll be credited with it which is exactly what I think happened to Mustafina because she was doing it like a three quarter catching in mix grip and then swinging out with a quarter turn. And that’s why I think they didn’t give her a higher rating or have it named after her. By the time she was in event finals, she did a full Seitz and caught it in mixed grip. But I kind of disagree. I think you should be able to know ahead of time what it’s going to be worth. I don’t know see why you actually have to do it to know unless it’s something no one has ever seen before.

JENNI: Yeah I agree. That makes sense if you, like you know what they’re going to do if you can describe accurately, surely you should be able to work out what it potentially would be worth if you performed it correctly.

UNCLE TIM: Maybe that’s a problem with the women’s code because on the men’s side, it’s pretty straightforward. You know, every extra twist is just one letter up. On the women’s side, it’s very, the letters jump a little bit more. There’s a little more space between letters.

JESSICA: I think the other thing that he said that was interesting was you know, he was also complaining about how many petitions there are. The thing he made a point of saying you know this is something that needs to be taken to the judges and fixed. He didn’t call out other gymnasts and complain. He talked about how it’s a problem of the judges aren’t getting it right and there shouldn’t be so many petitions. But I also think there should be way more transparency because we don’t even know how many petitions were submitted and how many were actually, were the judges actually admitted yes our D score was wrong here. We’re going to fix it. I mean, we only know about this in the big routines. This is another thing I feel like we need to, that should be something you can tell. There should be a list somewhere. You should be able to see it during the competition.

JENNI: Like when somebody makes a petition, you want there to be a signal or something?

JESSICA: Yeah I think you should know. Instead of just saying, oh the score was changed. I think we should have a statistic each day. You should know, okay there was like 70 petitions submitted and 69 of them were accepted. That means the judges are messing up a huge percentage of the time and we don’t even know that. And maybe they’ll do their post Worlds report, they do come out. They do give a lot of statistics but like that’s way after the fact. You should be able to know that during the competition.

UNCLE TIM: Well so if you follow the live scoring and an asterisk appears by the gymnast’s name when they file a petition, but you have to be following the live scoring to know that.

JENNI: On the live streams, it came up and told you some of them but not all of them.

JESSICA: That’s why we need iPads and receipts.


JESSICA: So let’s talk about the interview that Nellie Kim gave. So whew people are not having it. I feel like Nellie Kim is kind of tired of being the butt of everyone’s anger and jokes about the code. She just laid it down. She basically said you know I’m sick of Russia complaining about me and their top gymnasts slandering me. And she said that there’s too much in-fighting in the Russian system. They don’t have unity. They don’t have a unified goal. They’re not working together and that’s what they need to focus on, not focusing on complaining about her and complaining about the code. One of the funniest things that she said, I don’t know if it’s just the way it was translated or this is how Russians talk but she was just like, in talking about Russia and how they feel like they’re not being recognized for their artistry and innovation, she said instead of taking ownership of their failures. Oh wait, I’m sorry. I’m reading the wrong part. Okay. So she says, you know the artistry that the Soviets have created has been lost. And now the Canadians from Cirque du Soleil teach the whole world about artistry. I just thought that was hilarious. She’s just like ugh the Canadians have taken this over. Ugh Cirque du Soleil is in charge. They’re not even gymnasts. Well where do you think all the Soviets went? All those great gymnasts and all those circus people, yeah, that’s the pro league for gymnastics now. So she kind of seemed also upset that that’s how it’s gone but also like it’s exactly how Jenni just said. That’s how the rules are and you have to play to the rules. The thing that I thought that was totally disturbing that she said, and I’d like to know how you guys feel about this, is she said “the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Belarusians lose to their rivals from other countries because they are weaker physically. Current gymnastics has become a very dynamic strength based sport. Frankly speaking, I feel uneasy when gymnasts with an athletic, not gymnastics body become world champions.” She seems to contradict herself there. But I find it very disturbing that she says I don’t like it when someone with an athletic, which would be stronger body, not a gymnastics body becomes a world champion. Uncle Tim, how do you read that?

UNCLE TIM: I mean I kind of find it funny since she was more of a power gymnast herself [LAUGHS] back in the day, but I guess that, I mean, I don’t think that it’s entirely true just because you think of someone like Produnova who was probably one of the strongest people ever to compete, just because she actually put the handspring double front to her feet. But I think that generally speaking, there is an ounce of truth to it. This year, we watched the Russians struggle with conditioning on their floor routines. They were, for the most part, huffing and puffing during floor. So I think there could be some truth to that first part. As for the last part about body types, I don’t know. I feel like it’s problematic that she, at least how it’s translated, it’s problematic because a gymnastics body can be many types of bodies. It doesn’t have to be the, how do I want to put this, the balletic style, we’ll just call prima ballerina style body. It doesn’t have be that. I’d be interested, I wish that I could ask her follow up questions. So like, what would you say about Kim Zmeskal in 1991? What would you say about and just go through the list, Shannon Miller in 1993 was she the gymnastics body or not? I don’t know. What do you think Jenni?

JENNI: I don’t think there should be, almost like discrimination against body type. If you can do gymnastics, then you should be rewarded for it whether you look muscular or not. If you’re getting to the splits, if you’re doing artistic dance, if you’re performing difficult tumbles, it shouldn’t matter what your body type is. I mean your body type is just going to make it easier or more difficult for you to do different aspects, like the artistry and leaps compared to the tumbling. I don’t think she should be saying she doesn’t like it when athletic gymnastics bodies become world champion because it’s not to do with their body type. They did the better gymnastics routines so it’s kind of irrelevant.

JESSICA: One other thing she said which I totally agreed with and I feel like I have said this a million times in not these exact words but with this intention, is she said that someone like Komova does beautiful movements on floor, looks elegant on the podium, but she performs apathetically. “Stooped shoulders and dull eyes, she doesn’t perform. She works. But judges don’t give her high scores. I don’t know what happened to that girl. Maybe she burnt out before the Olympics.”

JENNI: What would she think about someone like Simone Biles then? Because you can’t deny that she performs right? She’s not, she has alive eyes. And she dances to the crowd and to the judges. But she has an athletic body. So would she like her or not? She can’t make up her mind about what she’s looking for in a gymnast.

UNCLE TIM: I think the Komova part was referring to 2011 and the fact that Komova during the all around pouted while she was doing her floor routine. There’s no other way to put it. And so I think that’s her way of responding to everyone claiming that Komova should have won. I think that’s her way of responding to that in a very subtle way but also a very planned way I would say.

JESSICA: Oh that would make sense. I haven’t thought of it that way. Because that’s also her way of explaining artistry versus performance. Yeah the Russians might think oh we have the perfect body type. We’re so innovative and we’re keeping artistry alive. But if you can’t sell it, if you can’t perform, if it doesn’t register anywhere on your being except in your limbs, that’s not a performance. That’s not artistic gymnastics.

[Sound Byte]

JESSICA: Dvora Meyers is back to talk about Ferlito-gate, the comments that Carlotta Ferlito of Italy made after all around finals and then again after event finals. Dvora has written two pieces on this subject. One can be found on her blog at Unorthodox Gymnastics. The other can be found on Deadspin. And her Deadspin piece was selected by The Atlantic as one of the pop culture pieces of writing of the week, a great honor for Dvora so we’re very proud of her for that. And that article is called “Are Black Gymnasts the New Black Quarterbacks?” Okay, so Dvora you’ve written two articles, a blog post and an article this week talking about Ferlito-gate as we’ve started to refer to it. Can you just give everybody kind of a breakdown to follow the whole thing, a timeline of exactly what happened?

DVORA: So Carlotta Ferlito is an Italian gymnast. After the all around finals, when speaking to the Italian media, she mentioned a conversation that she had had with Vanessa Ferrari. She said, “Vanny if we also paint our faces black we could also win”, referring to Simone Biles, who was the winner. And then I believe, it’s two days later because it’s the second day of event finals after beam finals. It was a little bit controversial what happened. The Americans put in two appeals and they both were accepted and Simone Biles’s score was increased by two tenths. Her start value was increased by two tenths and she went from fifth to third ahead of Vanessa Ferrari and Ferlito. Ferlito was pretty upset about this which is understandable. She was closer to the podium and now she’s a little bit further and she complained that you know the Americans and again really focused her energies on Simone Biles saying that it just wasn’t good. She didn’t deserve to have her score raised. It was because of the Americans’ influence that this happened. So that’s the timeline. I think what’s confusing to a lot of gymnastics fans is that those comments, I think the beam final comments, they were immediately known. And the all around final comments were in Italian and it took a little while for us to know what she said. People at first thought that she was just upset about what happened to her in beam finals and misspoke, when really she had spoken about Simone Biles before there was any dispute over scoring. I think it’s a really important chronology to get straight before we start parsing about what she said about Simone.

JESSICA: Yeah I think the stuff she said after beam finals were in Italian but the people that said oh if you think this is bad, you should have heard what she said after all around finals and it was then that it became more widely translated and known what she said after all around finals. So alright, let’s break this down. You did a great job of this in your articles, as you always do. Before we get into the big implications of how this affects gymnastics, can you talk about specifically what happened that made this so much worse after Ferlito made her comments, then what the Italian Gymnastics Federation said and what they really implied with their comments?

DVORA: Chiaralli?

JESSICA: Chiarelli yeah

DVORA: Well basically what he talked about was not just what Ferlito said but tried to explain what she said in terms of gymnastics as a whole. First of all, any time someone tries to explain racist comments instead of apologizing for it, you know it’s about to get really really awful. You know you have nowhere to go but down. At least Ferlito apologized. So basically what he said was that she was talking about what she thinks is a current gymnastics trend that the Code of Points is creating chances for colored people as he put it and penalizing the European elegance, which when gymnastics was supposedly more artistic allowed Russia and Romania to dominate. And then he ends with a question because this was on their Facebook page, the Italian Gymnastics Federation Facebook page. It was meant to inspire discussion. And he said is gymnastics suiting colored features more and more to the point that athletes wish they were black? He’s saying, I mean there’s so much implied here. There is a trend, opening up chances for colored people, meaning consciously or subconsciously the people who are writing the Code of Points are trying to be more inclusive supposedly of colored people and penalizing, so again it’s not just that we are trying to create opportunities for supposedly one type of gymnast. Others are getting punished. The classic sort of affirmative action way that people who are against affirmative action view it, that by creating opportunities, you punish another group of people who are deserving. And that’s kind of implying that there’s an affirmative action in gymnastics?! It’s kind of a little bit crazy. And then he kind of tried to make it sound okay like no, no, no. It’s really just a question. Is gymnastics just so much easier for women of color that a white gymnast would want to be black? I want to break this down a little bit more but every time I repeat it, I kind of repeated it to a friend what was said. You kind of have to take a breath because it’s kind of breathtaking what was just said in the year 2013 about a world champion and black athletes in general. I mean does this not drive you a little bit crazy?

JESSICA: Yeah I can’t even believe this was said. I mean knowing about Italy and their history of their soccer games have been stopped because of fans doing disgusting racist things, black soccer players. There have been incidents where they had their first black minister in the government and she’s just had to endure disgusting things. So knowing what goes on in the government and what goes on in Italy in general, it’s not totally surprising that this happened. But just to think that the people in the federation didn’t know better and aren’t more educated, it just totally makes me sick. But let’s go back to, what he implies too is that the Russians or Romanians were not acrobatic at all


JESSICA: and that they were just totally elegant and won just on split leaps.

DVORA: Yeah, because the sport of gymnastics is really just dance. And it’s always been dance. They dominated. Olga Korbut was known for her dance. Wasn’t she? Nadia Comaneci

JESSICA: Yeah exactly. They didn’t know flips.

DVORA: Yeah so what he’s doing there is he’s basically saying, he’s equating Eastern European, meaning white with elegance and artistry. And he’s equating powerful and athletic and all of those other terms that kind of are synonymous with that with black people and he’s pitting them against each other. He’s setting them up as mutually exclusive categories. We know that you can both be artistic and powerful at the same time. But he’s saying you can’t. That’s also tapping into I think the gymnastics, fan, judges, coaches, athletes’ anxiety about the direction of the sport. He’s basically saying listen. Artistry is white people and power is black people. This is what he’s kind of setting up. And we’re all concerned that the sport is going in an acrobatic direction. So do we want the sport going in that direction where only black gymnasts can succeed, meaning that white gymnasts will no longer be able to succeed?

JESSICA: So I think that elite gymnastics specifically, I mean in the US club gymnastics is not like this and NCAA is certainly not like this at all. I mean we have a history in NCAA and club of having many African American champions. That’s what I mean. I’m not saying that no one in the NCAA has ever experienced racism. I’m talking about there’s a history, a long history, a 20 year history we’ve had of African American national champions in the NCAA and in club. But we are just now, elite gymnastics is breaking down a color barrier that other sports have long passed. Like the NFL for example, there have been black head coaches for a long time. There’s been black quarterbacks. You know, head coaches and quarterbacks have the same kind of prestige as an all-around champion would in gymnastics. In those sports, there have been studies about how commentators and about how people in the media talks about white vs. black athletes. And you talked a little bit about that. Can we learn something from what those sports have gone through and what the media and commentators have said there? What is this trend?

DVORA: Well in those other sports that you mentioned, studies have shown that the black athletes were more frequently described as powerful and athletic. And white athletes were described as hard working, intelligent etc. And you’re thinking, well why is this bad? So the reason that the language we choose to describe athletes is important is because it creates expectations. So instead of just expecting that anyone who makes it to the NFL and gets named to be a quarterback can probably do the job, we were questioning those guys, whether or not an African American could be a quarterback. And I think it’s the same thing here.

[Sound Byte]

JESSICA: I want to thank Dvora so much for being here today and remember to follow her on Twitter at @dvorameyers and also on her blog over at Unorthodox Gymnastics. Thanks again Dvora. This week’s Worlds wrap up report is brought to you by TumblTrak. Have you ever had an assignment to stick so many routines, you did an awesome routine, you stuck it and all of a sudden, the mat slips and you end up looking at the ceiling? Or you’re doing dismounts and every time before start, you have to look around and ask someone to come over and hold the mat for you because if you don’t, you’ll end up face planting because the mat slips? Well if you’re tired of constantly being the one who has to push the stack of mats back in place, you know who I’m talking about. The people who never put the mats back in place, there’s a solution for all of this. Smart mat sheets from TumblTrak, they have nonskid material on the both sides, so you can put them on one mat or you can put them between mats and they stop mats from slipping. Smart mat sheets are affordable, fantastic and most of all, they work. Check them out at TumblTrak. That’s TumblTrak.

[Sound Byte]

JESSICA: So let’s start with our Worlds wrap up. We’re going to go through our favorites and the things that really stood out to us. We’re going to kind of talk about where we think gymnastics is at this point, what changes are needed and where gymnastics is going in the right directions. But first of all, Uncle Tim, tell us about the data that you have collected and what interesting trends you’ve found after this World Championships.

UNCLE TIM: So one thing that I noticed in both the men’s and women’s all around competition, execution mattered a lot.


UNCLE TIM: So the top three gymnasts in the all around were also the top three executioners, as I call them. So they had the highest execution scores. In the men, it was actually Kohei Uchimura was the top, and then Ryohei Kato was second, and Fabian Hambuchen was third. In the women’s it was Kyla Ross was on the top, and then Simone Biles and then Aliya Mustafina.

JENNI: Do you think that’s a good thing? Should the gymnasts who perform what they can do be more highly rewarded? Or do you think people who dare to try more difficult routines should be up there?

UNCLE TIM: So to talk about the D scores, Simone Biles threw the hardest difficulty. So she had the hardest difficulty and the second highest execution and then Kohei Uchimura had highest execution, second highest difficulty and so I think that, I mean, for both Simone and Kohei, you had a pretty good blend of both execution and difficulty.

JENNI: Ok well then that’s kind of how it should be, I think.

UNCLE TIM: Then another thing that was a little bit surprising, but I’m not too surprised by this, but you how I’ve been keeping track of the highest scores, well only two gymnasts posted the highest scores in the world for 2013 during Worlds and that’s Kohei Uchimura in the all around with a 91.990 and McKayla Maroney’s two vault average of 15.724 during event finals. So only two gymnasts posted the highest scores in the world which either means everyone did a little bit worse than they have in the past or the scoring at other meets has been a little bit easier. I don’t know which one it is. But yeah I found that interesting as well.

JENNI: I was just wondering whether you were glad that McKayla Maroney tried the all around or sad because, her name slips my mind, what is her name

JESSICA: Brenna Dowell

JENNI: Yes, didn’t get an opportunity to compete.

JESSICA: I do not think it was the correct decision to put Maroney in the all around at an individual world championships. Individuals should be given a chance to medal or make finals on the events in which they are best. There was absolutely no reason to put someone in the all around when they have basically no shot. I mean you never know what’s going to happen but honestly, there was no shot for her to make the all around, especially when she’s falling on beam all week. I was disgusted by that choice. Maroney’s fantastic. Don’t get me wrong. But Brenna Dowell was robbed.

48:56-end (starts with Jenni “Yeah I just thought it would be nice…”)


JENNI: Yeah I just thought it would be nice if everyone who had worked hard and trained for the World Championships was given an opportunity to compete at the World Championships.


JESSICA: Amen to that. Another quote for our tshirts and bumper stickers.




UNCLE TIM: To play devil’s advocate though it depends on how you look at Worlds. Right? So is it really just about the individual Worlds? Or is it trying to build a team in the future? And what kind of role will Mckayla Maroney fulfill in your team? And to say that she had no chance of making all around finals is not true because she finished sixth during qualifications.


JESSICA: But she wasn’t going to beat the other two people from her country though. That’s the point. The rest of the world doesn’t matter.


UNCLE TIM: True, but like-


JESSICA: Bring it! Bring it I am ready right now


UNCLE TIM: Well if somebody had a meltdown right? Like yeah. A huge meltdown.


JENNI: And didn’t I hear that she was kept out of floor final because of some kind of technical music issue? Did you hear about that?


JESSICA: Oh yes. That is on our list. Yeah she went overtime. Overtime. At World Championships. How does that happen?


JENNI: That’s shocking


JESSICA: Exactly


JENNI: Who allowed that to happen? Who didn’t time her music correctly?


JESSICA: Exactly


JENNI: I mean I know that you can- so the maximum time limit for a floor routine is 1:30. If you perform for longer than that it’s a deduction right? You can have a piece of music that’s longer than 1:30 if you don’t start moving as soon as the music starts moving. You can only move within that music for 1:30. So whether maybe she was supposed to finish a little bit earlier or maybe start a bit later and she was a bit eager? But still that’s a ridiculous reason not to make a final. That shouldn’t be happening.


JESSICA: Yeah and she was one second overtime.




JESSICA: I would be so pissed


UNCLE TIM: You’d think you would just cut your music shorter so that you wouldn’t go overtime.


JENNI: So there’s no chance




JENNI: Exactly


JESSICA: Yeah. I’m just saying if I was her, I would be firing someone.


JENNI: [LAUGHS] I don’t think she has the power to fire people, but


JESSICA: She picks her coaches. That’s all I’m saying.




JESSICA: That’s- I would be like, ugh.




JESSICA: Anywho. Ok. So- oh our medal predictions. Who won our medal predictions?


JENNI: What?


JESSICA: We all predicted-




JESSICA: We all failed. That’s right. Because we won like eight or something crazy.


UNCLE TIM: You came the closest though Jess


JESSICA: Oh yay me! That’s nice. But the men blew away our predictions. We totally didn’t think and then they did really well. Yeah.




JESSICA: Oh yes I’m so interested in fashion [LAUGHS]. I’m so interested in fashion- I’m not interested in fashion at all except when it comes to accidentally seeing people’s butt cracks during a gymnastics routine. So ok I just feel like we need a new wedgie rule. This is out of control. There was a wedgie so bad at Worlds I was afraid I was going to see some vajayjay during her routine. And this is- I’ve never seen that bad of a wedgie at a World Championships before. And so I feel like we need to allow the gymnasts to pull their wedgie out. There just needs to be a rule. So basically I think because it’s not good for the sport. We’re in a day and age where someone will take a picture of that or take a video of that or and it will exist for the rest of that girl’s life. And it’s not fair to her. This isn’t like the 50s. That wasn’t going to happen. It’s everywhere now forever. And it’s almost pornographic. It’s just not ok. So I feel like to alleviate gymnasts of the pressure to not pull their wedgie out of their butt, we need to just say if you get a wedgie, it’s a .1 deduction no matter what. And you can pull it out of your butt like 10 times during the routine if you want to. But it doesn’t matter what you the gymnast do to correct it. It’s just if your leotard goes up your butt, it’s a .1. So you allow the gymnast the freedom to alleviate themselves of humiliation. What do you guys think? Will this fix?


JENNI: The judging of how good your gymnastics is- should you really judge it based on how well your leotard fits? Is that fair? I don’t think that’s very fair. So yeah, maybe they should change that rule.


JESSICA: Yeah or how well you can resist- how well you can still compete while resisting the urge to not show your butt to the entire world. Literally.


JENNI: So uncomfortable. So if you get a wedgie like that, it’s just, it’s unnatural. It goes against all of your instincts to just not touch it. So yeah.


JESSICA: And not to mention like seriously I was afraid for her safety. I was like this distracted. I was like doing the kind of skills that people are doing, if you have that kind of distraction [LAUGHS] I think there just needs to be a rule. It’s just .1. And that’s it. And just let the gymnast pull it out of their butt.


JENNI: She could’ve- I think that if they don’t kind of notice they won’t deduct though. So maybe there just needs to be some dance worked into her routine where she swings her arm down and has the opportunity to pull it out without being noticed.




JESSICA: You should just work it into her choreography like, DUN DUN and pull it out from one cheek the other cheek on beat.


JENNI: Exactly


JESSICA: Yes. So let’s talk about-


JENNI: I can imagine that happening in college gymnastics.


JESSICA: Yes. Yes. Oh there have been some bad leotard- like people get their leotards at the last minute instead of having time to try them out or make sure they fit. God.


JENNI: That’s not going to happen to me.


JESSICA: No it will not happen to you.


JENNI: I’m going to use so much leotard glue.




JENNI: Maybe honey as well.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Only the Chinese honey though.


JENNI: Yeah I’ll fly to China. I’ll find the secret bee store. I’ll take the honey. It’ll be cool. I’ll be [inaudible].


JESSICA: Imported. Ok so Uncle Tim, what was your favorite- or what do you think the best single skill performed in all the World Championships was?


UNCLE TIM: Well I mean it’s a tie between Oleg Verniaiev’s straddle plange on high bar and Sam Mikulak’s autoasphyxiation chin stand on high bar.




UNCLE TIM: Just kidding. I really have to agree with Blythe. It was undoubtedly Kristian Thomas’ yurchenko double pike.


JENNI: Yes Britain


UNCLE TIM: Yeah it was a gift from the gymnastics gods. It was so good.


JENNI: Mhmm. And he’s just so- he’s fantastic at vault. I’m so glad he got a medal.


UNCLE TIM: Do all the girls have a little crush on him?


JENNI: Oh Kristian?


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. I mean he’s the tallest one out there, so


JENNI: I’d say that all of the men’s team are crushable.




JENNI: In the UK. Crushable, is that the right word? Fanciable? We say that in the UK. We fancy them. Yeah we have a good looking team and a talented team. Basically we’re the best. But I’m biased.


UNCLE TIM: So those were mine. What about you Jess?


JESSICA: I was going to say Dan Purvis. He’s definitely- the older he gets, he’s getting more and more handsome. I noticed.


JENNI: See more British talent.




JENNI: We’re not just pretty faces.


UNCLE TIM: That was your favorite skill?


JESSICA: Oh yeah my favorite skill. Oh yeah. Ok. [LAUGHS] For me it had to be Kenzo’s quad. It’s just- he has better form than people in this competition who were doing double twists. And he was doing a quad. And the other thing that made that skill even better was King Kohei smiling out of his mind like a cheshire cat while he was watching Kenzo do his quad. And that made the whole thing even better. Because even when Kohei wins he’s so stoic and like I have to be humble. And to see him totally nerd out while Kenzo was doing his routine made it even better. How about did you guys notice anyone pull a move like Croatia did that year? Where I’m from a country where nobody really knows me so I want to really stand out and be noticed. She wore that- I feel so bad I’m forgetting her name. But she wore a purple leotard with a giant neck tie down the front. And so she really like everyone noticed her. Did you guys notice anyone doing a move like that? Standing out in that way from a country you wouldn’t normally notice?


UNCLE TIM: On the men’s side, a guy from Egypt Ali Zahran did the opposite of what Fadwa did. The scary handspring double front.




UNCLE TIM: No he did something really great. So he does a victorian. And it’s pretty much the hardest rings strength skill in the entire world.


JESSICA: This was thought to be impossible for a long time right?


UNCLE TIM: Yeah and he does it really well. And he also submitted a skill to the FIG using the victorian as a strength skill. And so that was a good thing. A good way of a person from an unknown country standing out. Unfortunately they didn’t show the routine on the internet, and I haven’t seen a video of it yet. But I think according to the FIG’s list of skills that were approved, he actually did his own skill. His eponymous skill.


JESSICA: That’s awesome. Is he one of the guys- I hate to be totally American centric right here but I’m just going to do it anyway. There were so many guys who competed in the NCAA at Worlds that I had no idea they were living in the US competing in NCAA. Is he one of them?




JESSICA: Ok. Just in case I could claim some national pride for Egypt and him, I was going to do it. But. Jenni, anybody stand out for you?


JENNI: Well I wouldn’t say she’s from an unknown country, but-


JESSICA: Gymnastics


JENNI: Well ok. But Vasiliki Millousi, did you see her interesting leotard in the all around final?


JESSICA: The pink one with the dominatrix X?






JENNI: Yeah what did you think?


JESSICA: I’m torn. Because I feel like she can wear that, whereas anyone else wore it I would be horrified. But I have a special soft spot for her. I liked her all around finals way better. The one that was white with the gold.


JENNI: Yeah that one made me feel a bit weird. When she’s doing her all slow kind of fancy dance on the floor. I don’t really know how to feel.




JENNI: Kind of seductive like I don’t know.


JESSICA: So she made you feel something though? As opposed to nothing-


JENNI: Well yeah. That is something to be said. But I don’t know if it was a comfortable feeling.




JENNI: Maybe for the male viewers, I don’t know.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Felt like you should cover your eyes a little bit, like you shouldn’t be watching. Yes. I understand.


JENNI: Yeah. Mhmm.


JESSICA: I liked her routine. I thought she could pull it off because it was authentic to her. Whereas opposed to-


JENNI: Only she could pull it off.


JESSICA: Yes. Whereas opposed to other gymnasts who would try to do something like that and you would just be like oh my god. Yeah.


JENNI: Yeah. But good for her. She’s like 29 isn’t she now?




JENNI: She’s 29 and she’s putting Greece on the map.


JESSICA: Exactly


JENNI: Good for her


JESSICA: How about most improved choreography or best choreography for either men or women in this competition? Uncle Tim?


UNCLE TIM: I’m going to have to go with Kyla Ross on this one for best choreography. I mean comparatively speaking, if you look at the entire history of gymnastics, maybe not the best. But for this meet I think that I really liked the little section right after her second tumbling pass where the little woosh woosh sound comes in which sounds a little like a whip. And she flicks her wrists and she usually has this little haughty face going on. And it just reminds me of like an evil queen or something and I love that. On the men’s side, there was a guy named Michael Makings of South Africa. And he submitted a skill that did not get accepted. But he really submitted it so that the FIG would allow him to compete it. And it’s basically almost like a very big version of the worm on your back. So you jump from your feet to your hands in kind of an arching motion then roll down.


JESSICA: It is so cool I love it.


JENNI: I haven’t seen that. Is it like breakdancing?


JESSICA: Yes except like 10 feet in the air. Ok it’s not that high but it looks so huge.


JENNI: What I love is what Max Whitlock does when he does a handstand and spins round and round in circles on his hands. Like jumping.


JESSICA: Air flare


JENNI: Is that what it’s called?




JENNI: Yeah I love that. He can do I think he did it in training gym once. He did like 50 in a row.




JENNI: Mhmm. And he does like four in his routine.


JESSICA: We keep saying that someone needs to do that on pommel horse and pommel horse will be the most exciting event there is.


JENNI: Just counting up and up just how many they could do.


JESSICA: Just one


JENNI: A tenth for every extra one you do in a row. Imagine how long the routines would be then.


UNCLE TIM: Can you suggest this to Max for us? Could you text him or something?


JENNI: [LAUGHS] To just add it to his pommel horse routine? Just at the end. Just like keep spinning and spinning and spinning.


JESSICA: Just one. Just one air flare and he will win everything on pommel horse forever for the rest of existence. He can just keep doing pommel horse until he’s 70 years old if he can put the air flare in.




JESSICA: It’ll be worth like a Z


JENNI: Well maybe. Ok. I’ll have a word, I’ll have a word.


JESSICA: Ok yeah let him know what we think. Let him know. Ok I was going to say my favorite choreography actually was Max Whitlock on floor. He brought what men’s- the artistic part of men’s gymnastics. He didn’t just do tumbling because there’s a sport for tumbling. It’s called tumbling. He actually did artistic gymnastics and he brought the air flare. He did a jump 1.5 turn to prone. He added something that is supposed to be there and I totally appreciated it. And the other one it’s not really choreography but Becky Downie’s bar routine construction I also totally loved. I feel like that’s the direction women’s gymnastics on bars should go. And I just want to give her and her coach a shout out. I’m pointing to England right now. Giving them a shout out.


JENNI: Britain! Britain! This is why we’re called Great Britain.




JENNI: Ah ha! See? There’s a reason.


JESSICA: So if you had to pick a hottest gymnast or coach at Worlds, Uncle Tim who would you choose?


UNCLE TIM: Oh my gosh. That’s so hard. Let’s see. So there was a Romanian doctor who was so hot. He was Dr. McDreamy.




UNCLE TIM: And then if I were straight it would totally be Vasiliki Millousi. She makes me want to be straight.




UNCLE TIM: And then also-


JENNI: This is why she makes me feel so uncomfortable.




JENNI: I just don’t know how to feel about her. She just, she’s great but I need to be male to enjoy it.


JESSICA: Girl crush. It’s just girl crush.




JESSICA: There’s a name for it. There you go.


JENNI: I’ll just go with it.


UNCLE TIM: There’s an Instagram hashtag for it. It’s woman crush Wednesday, WCW. Just FYI. And then also I have to say that Ryohei Kato. I don’t find him sexy in the sense that I want to jump his bones, but rather I think that I don’t know, he just looks like a porcelain doll and I want to put him on display because he has such a pretty face.


JESSICA: He just looks like he’s not real. And his hair as we talked about, whoever sells that hairspray totally needs to sponsor gymnastics forever. Because his hair never moved. Unlike some surfer boy medical students from the Netherlands whose hair was all over the place the entire time.


JENNI: Ahem Zonderland


UNCLE TIM: But when you have abs like that you can do whatever you want.


JENNI: And a high bar routine like that. Hello. He has- doesn’t have have a Madame Tussauds wax figure of him now as well?




JENNI: He does. I saw a picture and I thought it was him. It’s identical to what he looks like. And he was so cute in the high bar final anyway. Hugging Fabian Hambuchen, who I call Hamburger as a nickname. They were so cute weren’t they? Waiting for the scores. Hugging for quite a while actually. Little bromance.




JESSICA: Exactly. I have to say there wasn’t anybody specifically because you know Igor wasn’t competing so no one can hold a candle to him. But Fabian and his hugs. I just feel like there’s something for everybody when Fabian does those long lingering hugs with all the men and the men are all mushed together with all those biceps. I really enjoy his hugathons.




JENNI: You want to be in the middle there don’t you?




JENNI: I can tell.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Well you know, wouldn’t hurt. Ok top three code changes that are needed. If you were going to change something right now, what are the top three things that need to be changed? This has to be addressed to save all of gymnastics.


UNCLE TIM: Save all of gymnastics.


JESSICA: Save all of gymnastics.


JENNI: Maybe the corner rule on floor. You know where everyone has to stand on one leg looking in the opposite direction looking like a flamingo before they start their tumble because they’re not allowed to stand on two feet to hesitate. Because every gymnast just does it. That’s the workaround. Instead of just waiting in the corner, now they’re just waiting in the opposite direction standing on one leg then doing a 180 degree turn straight into their run. Probably getting quite dizzy before their tumbles as well. So I don’t know maybe there needs to be an extra second added you’re allowed to wait so no one has to keep doing that. Because I agree floor routines should be a performance. Like Larisa Iordache, or Iordache as she’s supposed to be pronounced, does hers so energetically and she keeps going and going and it’s great to watch. But I don’t know, with the whole gymnasts who don’t have as much energy as her, just kind of wait on one leg which looks a bit awkward.


JESSICA: I agree. Flamingo rule needs to be changed. Uncle Tim do you have a fix for this?


UNCLE TIM: A fix? No. What about you Jess? I know you do actually.


JESSICA: Yes. Thanks for asking. Well. [LAUGHS] I think we need to go back to the code where you had to connect your dance elements directly into an acrobatic or running for a pass. So basically if you’re on beam and you’re about to do two back handsprings, you have to dance into your back handspring without stopping and go. No standing. And the same on floor. So if you’re about to tumble, you have to actually keep moving and dance. You can’t stand there and wave your arms like the Russians. You have to actually dance into it and go. You know?


JENNI: Yeah but see that’s acceptable. If you’re going to dance then tumble, yeah. But I think that’s what they tried to do with the no pausing in the corners rule. What they actually ended up doing is make people stand on one leg. Yeah they need to dance like, again, like Larisa Iordache. They need to dance and keep the artistry going and then tumble straight away but not just play to the code by just standing on one leg. Like this is like some kind of detail needs to be changed there to achieve that what they’re trying to achieve.


JESSICA: Yes this is why they need to have the spirit of the code. They can call it the O’Beirne rule if they want. And it has to be that you can’t just play to the code. It has to be the spirit of the code. So if they put something in here like you have to stand on one leg or whatever but you know the purpose is they want you to dance into it, if you just stand there like a flamingo then psht, deduction. Because it’s not in the spirit of dancing to the code. I feel like this has to be- this is my super cure.


JENNI: That’s a great way of putting it.


JESSICA: Thank you. I mean that exists in law, so why not put it in the rules? I mean, anyway. So the other thing I think is we need to go back to two tumbling passes. Seriously.


UNCLE TIM: Three. Three?


JESSICA: Three. Oh sorry what did I say? Two? Sorry no three tumbling passes. Three. There’s too much tumbling. And look at Ferrari’s routine. She does a double double, then a full in, then a double back. Like if you can do a double double, we know that you can do a double back. Thanks. We don’t need to see the double back. It’s just you should do your three hardest passes. One of those should have a front skill in it so we don’t have all these random front aerials and side flips just randomly thrown in.


JENNI: A little side somi just here and there.


JESSICA: Yes right? They don’t fit. It should be three passes. Throw your hardest stuff. Then the other one is on the beam. We should have the low to the beam requirement should be an actual element that has to be done low to the beam. Not just oh you have to touch your leotard to the beam at some point. You have to actually do a roll or a chest stand or a- it has to be an actual skill of value low to the beam.


JENNI: It’s so true that people and gymnasts and whatever literally touch their leo to the beam and get back up again to fit with that as well. And they’re not doing the O’Beirne gymnastics. They’re just filling the requirements.


JESSICA: They’re not doing the O’Beirne gymnastics! Yes! Yes! Love that. Yes it’s not the spirit. They’re just trying to get away with it. No good.


JENNI: Mhmm. That’s going to become a commonly used term now. O’Beirne gymnastics. There we go.


JESSICA: Oh my god that’s the best thing ever.


JENNI: Makes sense


JESSICA: #OBeirnegymnasticswednesdays




JESSICA: How about any other rule changes that you guys think are absolutely needed? What about on the men’s side?


UNCLE TIM: I would say 1) double salto for men on floor. You need to do a double salto. 2) also I think that this yamawaki half and tkachev half skills on men’s high bar, they really suck. Nobody really does a half twist and catches the bar because they’re trying to catch in L grip and it’s really hard to do that skill and catch in double L grip. And so I think that they need to figure out something to do with that. On the women’s side I also say that the vault tables need to be fixed. When it comes to all around competitions, the scores are very high on vault compared to the other events. And so I think that they either have to find a way to come down harder on execution, or lower the start values on vault. And then I also on beam- I have a lot of problems with beam right now because I feel like all connections should be dynamic. So there should be no arm swing connections anymore. I’m sick of them. For instance, Sasada of Japan, she can do a straddle jump punch wolf jump. And if she can do that, everyone else can. And I don’t know I’m also sick of aerial front walkover to back handspring. This isn’t the first time that we’ve ever really seen that pass. In 1981 there were a bunch of arm swing acro connections too. And they eventually got rid of them. And I think we need to get rid of them again. That’s just my opinion though.


JESSICA: I agree. You should have to rebound into something for it to be a series.


JENNI: While we’re speaking about Worlds and beam, I was so sad that Sanne- is it Wevers or Wevers from the Netherlands?




JENNI: Yes, right? You feel my pain. She fell straight away. Gets on the beam, falls off, pressure got to her. But her routine is so unique and different and exciting. And she just keeps spinning like a top. And it’s really cool. And I wanted her to get in the final and maybe even medal just to mix things up a bit. But yeah, she fell off on her mount. And then I think she fell again after that. So.


JESSICA: It was heartbreaking. I was almost in tears.


JENNI: I know




JENNI: But there’s still hope.


JESSICA: Yes. I hope she’ll be like this will never happen again. Very distressing. So what about things that you guys liked about the coverage?


JENNI: Yeah one thing that was great for me watching on my laptop was how they did the slow motion replays afterwards. Because gymnastics in slow mo a) looks so impressive because you can see every tiny change that’s made in a split second that with the naked eye you can’t appreciate. And also I could get fantastic screenshots from the videos, so that was great for my blog as well.


JESSICA: Yes. Screenshots are so important. What would the gymnastics fandom be? What would the gymternet be without screenshots?


JENNI: What would Tumblr be?


JESSICA: Tumblr would just cease to exist. Uncle Tim how about for you?


UNCLE TIM: 1) Bart Conner. 2) Bart Conner. And 3) Bart Conner. He’s my favorite commentator and we got to hear his lovely voice on Universal Sports.


JESSICA: I know I wish I had Universal Sports just so I could hear him because he’s fabulous and positive. So I loved that after I tweeted to the FIG that they should stop showing slow motion replays of women doing kips on bars directly in line with their crotches so you could see it all in slow motion, they stopped that. And I’m sure it’s because I tweeted at them. I appreciated that. That they stopped the slow motion crotch shots.


JENNI: You’ve got the power girl


JESSICA: I’m telling you, it’s all because of me. I’m just going to say. And then I love the, exactly the slow motion replays were fantastic. And I also like that instead of- they showed the scores, they showed the standings over and over, you always knew the D score and the E score and the final score. And they also showed actual gymnastics continuously. We only saw people standing on the sidelines cutting their tape off or hugging when it was appropriate for a second while we were waiting for something else. They didn’t waste time with all the sideline stuff. We just saw gymnastics routine after routine after routine after routine. And I just love that. I thought they did a great job. I was really happy with this.


JENNI: I thought they illustrated what was going on, the story, a little bit better of the competition. They only showed the relevant bits. They didn’t show people just sat with their coach. And they get those long shots where the gymnast doesn’t know what to do because they know they’re being filmed and they just kind of sit there and then they wave and then they’re still being filmed so then they just kind of look away, trying not to look at the camera. So yeah there wasn’t as much of that so that was good. Then they showed just little bits that were relevant. Like Aliya Mustafina writing her scores down when they were showing how there had been petitions and stuff. So yeah.


UNCLE TIM: Although the best part of the entire meet was the Sam Mikulak dance cam and the USAG little footage of the dance cam and Sam dancing. I thought that was great too.


JESSICA: It was genius. It got on one of the talk shows here. Andy what’s his name? Where Oprah was on and had cocktails and talked about- I don’t know what the show is called. Andy someone. Anyway. Oprah’s been on so it’s a huge deal even though I can’t remember what it’s called. So it was a genius marketing move and totally enjoyable worldwide.


UNCLE TIM: So what do you guys think- were there any places where you thought the judges got it wrong? I know a lot of people on the gymternet are saying Mai Murakami should have won bronze. Also there’s the whole question of whether Simone Biles, her petition should’ve been accepted and she should’ve received connection bonus for her leap series into her back tuck. What did you guys think? Were there any places where you thought the judges were wrong?


JENNI: I hate becoming a judge myself because I know obviously firsthand how hard gymnasts work. And I like to appreciate all the different gymnasts and appreciate what’s good about what all of them can do. But yeah Murakami on floor, the little Japanese girl, she’s so adorable. I mean she does this amazing routine with difficult tumbles. She does double double and double layout and she nails them and she dances like- I want to just hug her she’s so cute. And then she’s quite serious in the routine and then she’s not afraid to just be herself and just jump up and down and squeal with glee when she’s done. Run off and wave. So I think she’s endearing to people watching and that’s maybe why people would’ve loved to see her win bronze. But I can’t- I’m not a judge myself so I’m not going to debate with particular scores and things.


JESSICA: Luckily, I have no problem with that and I think she-




JESSICA: was absolutely robbed. And I am offended. And I want to apologize to the entire country of Japan for her not winning the bronze because she totally should’ve got it. Because if you watch that routine, her form in the air is perfect. It’s perfect perfect perfect. And then we have Ferrari who I love Ferrari, she’s did a great routine. Her deductions in the air like nobody’s business. Everything she does in the air has multiple deductions. Mai Murakami, perfect in the air. How she got an 8.2 in execution while Ferrari got an 8.4 and Iordache got an 8.5? Mmm. No. I do not understand this. And I totally agree that she was robbed. Uncle Tim what about on the men’s side? Anyone robbed? Any injustices we need to right right here on the air now?


UNCLE TIM: I think maybe Kristian Thomas. I could see him switching Kristian Thomas and Steven Legendre on vault. So Kristian Thomas would end up with the silver and Steven Legendre maybe ends up with bronze. Because I do feel like Kristian Thomas’ first vault was maybe a little underscored in execution. But I don’t really have any huge complaints for the most part on the men’s side. My biggest heartbreak though for the men’s side was the fact that Oliver Hegge of Switzerland broke his grip and then did not get his new grips in time to mount the high bar. So once you hit the mat and once you stand up, you have 30 seconds to remount the high bar. And he- so had he stayed on the ground, not gotten up, and his coach brought him a new pair of grips, it would have been all fine. But because he got up, he didn’t have 30 seconds. And I guess what really bothers me is that they enforce this rule. But then there’s this rule in the code of points which says you have to have skin colored bandages, otherwise it is not appropriate. Did they enforce that rule? No.






JENNI: Yeah that was so mean


UNCLE TIM: So it’s like, which rules are you going to enforce, FIG? Are you going to enforce all of them or just some of them? You have to enforce all of them, otherwise you look like a giant hypocrite.


JENNI: Mhmm. Mhmm. And I know- why should you get 30 seconds if you stand up compared to if you lie down? That’s just- again with these technical rules, like the music rule and the pulling the wedgie out rule. These aren’t- you’re not judging gymnastics. You’re just judging all these technicalities and it’s not fair. He should’ve been given a chance to finish his routine. And I think didn’t the crowd boo? When he was not allowed-




JESSICA: Booed the judges


JENNI: Mhmm.


JESSICA: And the other thing is, who can put grips on in 30 seconds? No one can put their grips on in 30 seconds. It’s not a 30 second operation. There’s no way. And I just feel like there should be a special rule for equipment failure. If it was the high bar that broke instead of his grip that broke, there would be a special dispensation. But because it’s his equipment, not the FIG’s equipment, he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt? I don’t agree. Because even if your grips break- and everybody knows there’s been a lot of talk about problems with grips breaking right now. And a lot of people have been questioning why is this happening and is the quality going down. Something that’s a worldwide, I don’t know, cowhide problem.




JESSICA: But it’s like you know there’s been discussion- maybe it’s like the bees. You know it’s I just feel like it’s not fair when it’s not the gymnast’s fault that the grip broke. And no one’s going to purposely do that to their grip. I’m going to-




JESSICA: cut it a little bit. Because you’re risking your life if that happens. So it’s just a ridiculous rule. This is going in my letter to Grandi too.


UNCLE TIM: My other rule change-


JENNI: I al-


UNCLE TIM: Oh sorry


JENNI: Carry on


UNCLE TIM: I was going to say my other rule change is that Philipp Boy must be present at every major international gymnastics meet. And if he is not, he must go on a date with one of the members of the GymCastic crew.


JENNI: I’m up for that




JENNI: I mean I might have to check with my boyfriend but I’m sure he’d be fine with it.




JENNI: Oh while we’re on heartbreaks as well, I am heartbroken for- well I’m so pleased for Rebecca Downie- well all of Great Britain. I think they did a great job. But I’m especially pleased with how Becky Tunney and Ruby Harrold made it into finals in their first World Championships. Was great. Then Ruby and Becky specifically making it to bar finals. Two out of the eight gymnasts in the bar final from Great Britain. That’s amazing. But it makes me so sad that Becky Downie didn’t- wasn’t able to do her routine the same as she can do in qualification. Because she works so hard and she can do that routine like 100%. She can do it. And it’s so- like you said you love the new routine and the combinations and connections. And I just wish she can pull it out in a final and get the recognition she deserves and get a medal or something. Because my heart breaks for her when she does it so well and she got so close to the end and didn’t quite make it.


JESSICA: Uncle Tim any other heartbreakers for you?


UNCLE TIM: Krisztian Berki not making pommel horse finals. It’s not a rule problem, he just fell off and he messed up. But that really kind of sucked.


JESSICA: That was like a shocker.


JENNI: And Dan Keatings


UNCLE TIM: Yeah him


JENNI: It can happen to anyone. He was European champion. And then- him, Berki


JESSICA: So what is the FIG doing right? What’s right in the code right now? What are you guys happy with and want to see more of it?


UNCLE TIM: Nothing


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] There’s got to be one thing


JENNI: Well I like that they’re trying to put more artistry in floor routines. Although they need to do it the O’Beirne way.


JESSICA: Exactly


JENNI: You were right about that. What are they doing right-


UNCLE TIM: I think that they- one thing that I really liked was the fact that you could go online and see which judging were judging which events. And so it takes away a little bit of the, how do i-


JESSICA: Cloud of secrecy


UNCLE TIM: Skepticism, secrecy, the whole paranoia surrounding judging. And “oh my gosh you know this Russian judge was judging balance beam and” you know whatever. And I think that was nice. And I found it interesting just a little tidbit of information that Donatella Saci of Italy was the supervisor for balance beam. And so she would’ve had a role in deciding whether Simone Biles and Kyla Ross’ petitions were accepted.


JENNI: What do they accept petitions based on? Do you know?


UNCLE TIM: D scores. It has to be D score. You can’t do an inquiry for your E score so it has to be D score. But I don’t know that we for sure know why they filed them. I think for Simone it was a question of her connections with her leaps into her back tuck. But as far as Kyla, I don’t know exactly what. And for Mustafina we think that it’s her turn. Because she did a 2.5 turn rather than a double turn. And so I think they were petitioning to get more difficulty for that skill.


JESSICA: So do you have to write down what you think the judges got wrong? Or do you just say D score overall?


UNCLE TIM: I do not know.


JENNI: I do not know.


JESSICA: It seems like it would have to be D score overall because you don’t know what they didn’t give. Until we have live iPad scoring, we won’t know. But when we have that- when Jenni creates the app for live scoring for the judges-




JESSICA: When you can just see, then yes.


JENNI: You want me to create an app for that?




JENNI: I’ll move on to puzzle games to gymnastics scoring.


JESSICA: Yes exactly.




JESSICA: So everybody can see. And the fans at home can follow along. You can score as you go. There will be like a live app so you can test yourself against the judges. It will all be out in the open so people don’t have to have these conspiracy theories about who’s slipping people wads of money under the judging table while routines are going on. It’ll all be, yeah. You could totally do this. This will be easy for you.


JENNI: If someone wants to contact me, fund me, FIG, make this app.


JESSICA: Yeah you could launch it at Glasgow World Championships. Be perfect time to try it.




JESSICA: Ok. It’s all settled. We have our plans.


JENNI: Yeah ok sure, just like that.




ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: Visit, that’s sportz with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.


JESSICA: Let’s get into listener feedback for this week. First I want to announce that we are having a Halloween costume contest. Like we did last year. Oh my god I’m so excited. I can’t wait to see the stuff that people come up with this year. So send us a picture with you in your costume by November 1 to or tweet it at us or post it on our Facebook page. But make sure you send us an email with the picture so you can be entered. And just like last year we are giving the winner of the contest your choice of a poster from Cloud and Victory. If you guys haven’t checked out Cloud and Victory’s site, oh my god, I love them. They are the only company making gorgeous clothes, sweaters, tshirts, jewelry, and posters for gymnastics fans. Iconic, beautiful graphics that will just live forever. They’re so incredible. Cutting edge design. This is not chalky handprints on the butt shorts. That is not the kind of stuff they make. They make the kind of stuff you want to frame and it’s art. It’s beautiful. I can’t say enough about them, I love them so much. We’re so happy they’re back sponsoring our Halloween contest. Jenni did you ever have any gymnastics contests? Gymnastics Halloween costumes? Did you ever dress up with a theme or do something at your gym?


JENNI: No. Maybe I should enter the GymCastic Halloween contest.


JESSICA: Yes you totally should.




JESSICA: Ok very good


JENNI: I’ll think about my outfit


JESSICA: Ok excellent.


JENNI: Maybe Vasiliki Millousi




UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Only if you do the dance moves!




JENNI: Maybe not


JESSICA: Your boyfriend would be so excited. The other thing that we did based on last episode, we asked who your fantasy, your absolute dream choreographer for Simone Biles would be for her next floor routine. And we created a little poll and we put it on our website. Uncle Tim will you tell us the results of the poll?


UNCLE TIM: Drum roll please


JESSICA: [drum roll noise]


UNCLE TIM: So number one was Dominic Zito with 33% roughly. Number two was Svetlana Boginskaya with 25%. And in third was Sonya Taya with 20%. And so we’ll put up the results on our website in a little pie chart for you to look at.


JESSICA: Very divided. I think they’re going to have to fight it out to win her over.


UNCLE TIM: Between- yeah.


JESSICA: Put your bids in to Simone, why you’d be her best choreographer.


UNCLE TIM: Who do you think would be in a fight, who do you think would win in a fight, Dominic Zito-


JESSICA: Boginskaya


UNCLE TIM: or Svetlana Boginskaya?


JESSICA: Boginskaya would kill them all. There would be no- there wouldn’t even be bodies left, no bones. Everyone would be gone.


UNCLE TIM: She’d bite them all, yeah




JESSICA: Ok so we had a bunch of letters after Worlds. And one of the ones that we picked- because we really wanted to hear Jenni’s thoughts on this. We had brevet judge write in, and she posed an interesting question. And that is, there’s judges from all over the world who judge at World Championships, but there are also judges who don’t have elite gymnasts in their country at all. So the question was kind of how are these judges prepared? Do they have enough practice? Do they have enough practice really judging competitions going into this? And maybe this is of course everyone has to pass the same test so of course they have the same qualifications. But her question was really how much practice are you getting on a regular basis when you don’t have access to the athletes in your home country to practice judging them. And so we wondered, Jenni have you ever noticed kind of a difference in the scoring when you go to different countries? Did you notice variations?


JENNI: It’s difficult to notice variations in scores between competitions because each competition is kind of- there’s a new base level. Like when the first person is judged, the rest of the gymnasts are judged based from that as a higher or lower or like it sets the standard. So you can’t really compare scores between competitions.


UNCLE TIM: Did you ever find that your national scores were higher than international scores?


JENNI: I think some countries at their national championships, they put their scores higher than they would internationally to make kind of a good impression on other countries ahead of other major championships. I think that the British system is pretty accurate in that we judge based in the same kind of standards as an international system. So we have a good idea of what we will score before we go out. We’re not going to score lower on an international scene and be shocked or disappointed.


JESSICA: Uncle Tim do you have an international listener shout out of the week this week?


UNCLE TIM: Sure. One of our Twitter followers is Periclistus Silva. And he is from Brazil. So yeah, it’s awesome. I think it’s our very first shout out to Brazil.


JESSICA: Yay. So, just a reminder you guys, if you have any questions for us, if there’s something you want us to answer, or if you have any comments for us, you can write us an email at We’re also on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and Tumblr. And if you want to support the show, you can write a review on iTunes. You can subscribe to us on iTunes. You can even subscribe via email which is kind of awesome now because when you subscribe via email you get an email when a new show is up and it basically has all the same info we have on our website up except the videos. So you can check that out. You can download the Stitcher app. It works on all devices including Android. And you can of course donate to the show if you want through the donate button. Or you can shop in our Amazon store. You can buy one of the fabulous books we have there like Louis Smith. Fabulous, another Great Britain who we love. Who you know what, Jenni we think he should have his own fragrance. The Louis Smith fragrance.


JENNI: Oh he should




JENNI: I wouldn’t be surprised if he just releases one next week now.


JESSICA: Right? Ok so after you text Max Whitlock and tell him about the air flair on pommel horse, you should text Louis and tell him about how he should launch his own fragrance.


JENNI: Ok let me get a pen and paper and write this down.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Our full GymCastic wishlist for all of your friends. So everybody don’t forget the Halloween contest. Send us your costume pictures to be entered. And next week we will be talking to- we’re going to have a really special show next week. Next week we are going to have a representative from Safe 4 Athletes on and also Orange County Register reporter who’s covered a lot of the abuse cases in gymnastics. And they are going to come on and talk about preventing abuse in gymnastics. And talking about what you can do as a parent, as a gymnast, what to look out for, and different programs you can ask your gym to implement. So I’m excited for that. I think it will be a very positive way to look at this issue. And what you can do, what power you have as a coach, as a gym owner, that kind of stuff. So until next week, I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym


JENNI: And I’m Jennifer Pinches, British gymnast. And my website is


JESSICA: See you next week!




JESSICA: And don’t forget to buy Jenni’s awesome awesome awesome game which I’m totally obsessed with and I love and I’m now playing it for the second time in a row and I love it! Laser Chambers. Laser Chambers. There you go.




JENNI: Thank you, yeah. Laser Chambers woo! Olly?


JESSICA: Yeah Olly right?


JENNI: Yeah he’s called Olly, yeah. Olly Williams. Yeah we used to not like him, now we do.




JESSICA: He got into an awesome Twitter fight with Simone’s coach, this-


JENNI: Oh really?




JENNI: He’s feisty


JESSICA: Oh yeah


JENNI: Yeah I basically I can’t remember what it was actually. He wrote an article, something about after a competition we ate Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to celebrate. And then he wrote all these comments like British gymnasts aren’t taking their gymnastics seriously, look at them eating ice cream, and what is this unprofessionalism, and this is why they don’t win medals and stuff.




JENNI: Right? So I sent him a text message I think it was just saying I think that your comments on the BBC website are inappropriate and just in a formal professional way I think you need to realize the positive side of what we are doing and not focus on publishing things that- negatively interpreting things that are out of context. Like we were celebrating after the competition, blah blah blah. Anyway I sent him this email. And since then, he’s been good. So I sorted him out [LAUGHS].



[expand title=”Episode 56: Preventing Abuse in Gymnastics”]

SCOTT: Until the Karolyis are out of the picture and no longer the powers that be in this sport, then I think you’re always going to have issues with not just sexual abuse, but all kinds of abuse of young athletes. Because I think the tone that’s set at the top that these kids are disposable and this kind of Darwinian thing where if you can’t hack it or if you have some problem with the way things are done, there’s always somebody else to step right up. And I think because of that, the Karolyis can have this program of just it’s our way or the highway and I think this feeds into this larger issue of abuse of athletes that hasn’t really been properly addressed.




JESSICA: This week, the reporter who changed gymnastics forever, an Olympian working to prevent abuse before it happens, and USAG joins us to detail their abuse awareness campaign.


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 We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: This is episode 56 for October 22, 2013. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner


JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you the most important topics from around the gymnastics world.




JESSICA: The entire episode today is devoted to preventing abuse. And we’re going to start with looking back at the past and looking forward to the future and all of the resources that are available to people now. Today’s show is by no means the full perspective on sexual and physical abuse, emotional abuse in gymnastics. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We tried to keep the show under two hours. So this is just a starting point. It’s the start of a conversation. There’s a lot more that I could have put in this show. But we have to start somewhere. And we didn’t get to touch on abuse of men in gymnastics, which I think is something that’s really underreported. But you have to start somewhere, so this is our starting point. We know there’s a lot of anger and hurt and blame around this subject. There’s also as far as I’m concerned a serious lack of justice. However I had two choices. I could point fingers and get pissed off and rant to myself, or I could give the gymnastics community the information they need to empower themselves. And if you think something needs to be changed, then speak up, do something, and demand it. If you’re a parent, your money is your vote. Tell your gym and your coach what you want to see done. If you want one of the programs on this show implemented, go to your gym tomorrow and tell them what you want. If you’re a gymnast, now you know where to find allies to help you. If you’re a victim of abuse and you need someone to talk to, now you know where to find anonymous hotlines that you can call any time of the day. If you’re a coach and this speaks to how you feel coaching should be, now you have resources to support your philosophy. If you’re a gymnastics fan, I’m going to tell you how you can take action and set things in motion right now and how you can prevent child pornography. Do not take your power for granted. No matter how long it takes, how much time is passed, who believes you, or what anyone else thinks, you are powerful. You make a difference, and you can help make things better. Please please keep that in mind as you listen today.




JESSICA: Now let’s talk about what fans and anyone that browses the internet or goes to a lot of gymnastics meets, how you can prevent child pornography from being filmed. Or when you find it, how to get rid of it. So we were trying to have a FBI agent on the show from the cybercrimes against children division, which is part of Innocent Images. If you google FBI Innocent Images you can find their website. It’s all devoted to protecting kids against cybercrimes and the creation of child pornography. And one of the things that has unfortunately happened over the years is people going to gymnastics meets and taking video that is not- this is one of the other things on the show. I made a point of trying- I didn’t want to create audio porn for anyone. I don’t want anyone to listen to this show and some disgusting creeps and get off on hearing the stories of how people were abused and victimized and [inaudible] over again. I’m just going to say, videos of gymnastics that should not be- that aren’t about gymnastics. So one of the things that- so we were going to have an FBI agent on, but the government shutdown ruined the whole thing. So [LAUGHS] so that did not work out. But, I have a list of things that you can do if you see someone taking video at a gymnastics meet and you suspect that it’s an inappropriate video, you can do the following things. Call the police and report the person. So the important thing in stuff like this is there is a paper trail that starts. So the police will have to file an incident report. There’s going to be some kind of record. So that’s important. There’s some kind of trail that starts. The police can then ask the person to show them their camera. And the great thing about this is they don’t of course have to show them their camera but that’s irrelevant because the agent that I talked to told me that they have caught tons of offenders, a shocking number by recollection, simply by asking to see their cameras or computers and scrolling through the pictures and finding child pornography. And then once they find it, then that’s it. They had the person just by asking. So if you see something, you’re suspicious, just call the police, and they can ask to see the person’s camera. If you’re browsing the web and you find a website that has inappropriate videos, what you can do is report the site to the host. So if they’re hosted by Godaddy you can do that. If it’s a video on YouTube, there’s a link at the very bottom of any YouTube page and it says privacy and safety. And you can report them from there. The other thing that you can do is file a complaint. So the internet crime complaint center, it’s They have the internet crime complaint there. And this will allow the FBI to begin a formal investigation and track the IP address and identity of the site owner. So those are the things that you can do as a gymnastics fan or as a parent or as a fan at a meet. So keep that in mind. You have the power to affect change. You can demand change. This is the theme of the day. And let’s start talking to our guests.


BLYTHE: This week’s panel is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. As the recent World Gymnastics Championships in Belgium showed us, gymnastics is not just about acrobatics. It’s about flexibility, extension, and overall artistic presence. That’s why Tumbl Trak, your source for everything gymnastics, has a line of dance equipment to help you or your gymnasts improve artistically and facilitate excellence on balance beam, floor exercise, and barre dance. Visit, that’s to learn more. Tumbl Trak, do it again.


JESSICA: Our first guests are Scott Reid, investigative reporter for the Orange County Register in California. When Scott published his two part investigation about abuse in gymnastics, he detailed the abused by- alleged abuse by Doug Boger, Don Peters of SCATS, and he got people to come forward who had never talked about the abuse they had suffered by their coaches. His piece came out in 2011 around the same time that Jennifer Sey’s book was published. And together they really changed gymnastics forever. After the piece was published and Jennifer Sey’s book came out, there was immediate action by the national governing body in gymnastics, USA Gymnastics. Immediate movement to ban certain coaches and make things change. So Scott joins us today along with Katherine Starr. She is a two time British Olympian. She was in the 84 and 88 Olympics for swimming. She was on the University of Texas swim team when they won three National Championships in a row. She is a survivor of sexual abuse, and she is the founder of Safe4Athletes.


BLYTHE: So Scott, maybe you can just begin by talking about the impetus of the 2011 investigation that led to quite a lot of revelations and changes in the gymnastics world. How did this story come about?


SCOTT: We’d heard rumblings for years about Don Peters, who was the head coach of the 1984 US women’s Olympic gymnastics team and also ran this gymnastics club in Orange County called SCATS that was kind of a conveyor belt of Olympians and National champions for decades. And every time we pursued it we never really got anywhere. Then I guess it was in early spring of 2011 I got a tip from an anonymous source that Peters had indeed had sexual relations with a number of underage gymnasts, female gymnasts at SCATS. And through various methods I was able to figure out who this anonymous source was. So she put me in contact with a woman by the name of Linda McNamara, who had been an office manager and official at SCATS for a number of years who Peters had confessed to to having sex with a number of underage gymnasts. And one of those was Doe Yamashiro who was a member of the national team in the mid 80s and who was this rising star who never quite lived up to her potential but was a well known gymnast in the mid 80s. So we talked to her and she confirmed that Peters had had sexual relationship with her starting when she was 15, 16, and it lasted for a number of years. And it was pretty horrifying stuff. She was pre-pubescent when he first- be careful legally. But it wasn’t any kind of a first encounter for her. And it was- he was continued to have these sexual encounters with her for a number of years. And we also around this time began talking to some gymnasts at this club- former gymnasts from a club called Flares Pasadena, which was a really well-known club in the late 70s, early 80s. And a number of gymnasts had been sexually abused and physically abused by a coach by the name of Doug Boger. And Boger I believe ran 20, 2009, 2010 after a series of delays by USA Gymnastics had finally been banned based on the testimony of a number of women. He just did totally horrific things. Even by the level of sexual abuse within youth sports, what he did was just off the charts. Putting cigarettes out in kids and just clearly awful stuff. And so he was banned for life by USA Swimming and turned around and got a job at a pretty high profile gym in Colorado Springs just about five minute drive from the United States Olympic Headquarters in Colorado Springs. And he continued to train national team members. And let me backtrack a second. While he was being investigated by USA Gymnastics, he not only was named their national coach of the year, he was also named to their World Championships national team coaching staff. So Boger, even though he had this lifetime ban, was continuing to coach at a prominent gym. And so when our stories finally hit, the owner of the gym fired him. We it turned out the owner of the gym was also a convicted sex offender in the state of Oregon. And he was fortunate in that his offenses just beat the window where the Oregon state legislature passed the law where he would have to register as a sex offender. So he didn’t pop up in a state database. But so he fired Boger and eventually Don Peters banned for life by USA Gymnastics and removed from the Hall of Fame. And slowly but surely, USA Gymnastics implemented a series of reforms. There’s still some questions about whether this loophole that Boger was able to manipulate where the gym, even though they were cranking out national team members all the time and had a very high profile national championships, they weren’t a registered gym with USA Gymnastics. So that enabled them to circumvent the background checks and other checks that USA Gymnastics had placed to ban a guy like that from coaching. So they’ve passed some stuff that hopefully will close those loopholes. But basically because they weren’t a registered gym with USA Gymnastics, they weren’t required to do background checks and report those to USA Gymnastics. So they could hire Boger even though he was on the banned list. And a reporting revealed that Boger was not an isolated incident. There was several coaches nationwide who are on the banned list and continue to work at high profile gyms, at least at that time in 2011.


BLYTHE: Ok. And Katherine, a question for you. What could have been done? What options would an athlete have had in the early to mid 1980s if this sort of inappropriate behavior was going on? And it obviously was. Doe Yamashiro, she didn’t know what to do and what her options were. But was there anything like Safe4Athletes and could you describe a little bit about the program and what it does and how it came about?


KATHERINE: In clarifying a little bit of my background, my sexual abuse started in 1982. And I swam both in the US, very much in USA Swimming from its inception, as well as swimming internationally. And so from when the abuse started, by experience was I wasn’t the only person that this was happening to. So there was sort of like- I didn’t feel unique. I didn’t feel different, and was just sort of well this is the cost of doing business. As sad as that sounds, there was no resources, nobody responded. It was just people turned their head the other way. And it was just well, ok. And assumed that you wanted it, was sort of my general experience witnessing that of my friends. And I’ve said this several times, I swam at the University of Texas on three national championship teams. And while I was there, there was four of a small group of 20 swimmers, there were four swimmers that were sexualy abused with their youth coaches prior to even getting to college. So that’s a very high number for just feeling like you have a voice and can do anything about it. So and actually how Safe4Athletes started was I actually started coaching about three years ago. And what I realized was it’s not one thing had changed as far as the vulnerability of athletes and the relationship with their coaches. And that I didn’t feel that athletes had a voice. And walking through the process and seeing these swimmers who I improved them very quickly very fast, they would do anything that I asked of them. And I thought to myself, how vulnerable they just these young kids and the parents who would just be like do what you think with my kid. And gave me complete license to taking the kids home, coming over to the family’s for dinner. It was just what you’ve done for this young athlete and given them their self esteem and just gave everything to them. You give them this silver platter. And I couldn’t help but see how vulnerable these athletes were. So that’s sort of what stemmed the thought of all the hurt and pain that I had suffered as a swimmer that I didn’t want to see these kids have the same experience, but have a positive experience as an athlete, and their after sports life be positive as opposed to the pain and suffering I have felt. It’s 30 years ago, and the pain is just as sharp as- it actually probably gets sharper as you get older with my experience. So what I did with Safe4Athletes is- so I reached out to my former athletic director Donna Lopiano and we created a program. And the structure of the program is what makes Safe4Athletes so unique. We have a full handbook and we go through everything in the sports environment of the dos and donts and require coaches to sign the coaches code of conduct which includes no coach/athlete relationship regardless of consent of age. And dealing with bullying, harassment, everything else. But what makes our structure so unique is we require there be an athlete welfare advocate in place. And we’ve implemented Safe4Athletes at every level from youth sports programs to high school to universities, division I university athletic programs. And in universities you’re going to see more of an athlete welfare team versus a single person or a pair, two people  in a larger setting. What that person does is it’s an opportunity for both your teammates and yourself to have a confidential conversation about what’s going on. So I find that there is not a whole lot of ability to resist or to say no. And you have to go with it or your life is hell. So and it’s been all the sudden you’re on the other side, and you’re stuck. And you need a way out. And so this athlete welfare makes it unique to have a confidential conversation. And then what’s also unique about the Safe4Athletes program is it sets a much lower standard of administrative law. So it’s 50% in [inaudible]. More what you see with Title IX in schools and what’s in the workplace for sexual harassment. And the [inaudible] might blow you off and if you have a problem quit, versus let’s protect our environment. And with the Safe4Athletes program, you could actually ban a coach if they’ve deemed to have violated the policy. So at least you have the ability to start developing banned lists and as parents, you can then make an informed decision whether you want to put your child in that program. Now USA Swimming and USA Gymnastics are about the only two sports that actually lift banned coaches. But my experience with USA Swimming is it’s extremely difficult so get a banned person banned in that sport unless- for the most part there’s a few that aren’t, but for the most part it’s a long criminal [inaudible]. So this puts more responsibility in the club locally, it can more quicker, and it goes through a very clear and concise process. If there’s gossip, you get the facts, and it just gives the athlete a voice. And the institution or the club that’s doing this, they have to implement the system.


BLYTHE: And this question is for both of you. Well for Scott first of all, as you talked to the victims, what were some of the themes you heard over and over? For example you kind of wrote about Doug Boger and how he made each of this gymnasts feel like they were special and that he has this certain power over them and also on their parents as well. And can you elaborate a little bit more on that?


SCOTT: Well I think Katherine, I’ve talked to Katherine over the last couple years and she can speak to this too better than I can. But one of the things about the Boger and Peters situations are kind of universal with these high level of swim clubs and gymnastics clubs and soccer clubs in universities and everything is that there’s a different dynamic in these cases than there are in normal child sexual abuse cases, in that you have for the most part athletes who are very ambitious. And their parents are a lot of times even more ambitious. They have Olympic aspirations or aspirations of college scholarships. And one of the things we saw over and over in the Boger and Peters cases is that those aspirations actually make them more vulnerable to this kind of abuse because they so buy into these coaches and what they believe these coaches can deliver them, for them, that they go through anything. I mean two things that really struck me about those two stories was Doe Yamashiro said several times that the sexual abuse, she just kind of- echoing what Katherine said, it was part of the game. There’s so much abuse of young females in gymnastics, just physical abuse from the wear and tear, and the emotional abuse, the way a lot of coaches- kind of this Karolyi era in gymnastics, that being abused sexually just seemed like another level of abuse. And she said it was almost like it wasn’t the worst thing that was done to her. Everything was horrific about it. And you just kind of accepted that was part of the territory. And then another thing which struck me was I interviewed a woman who Doug Boger in the early 80s was actually brought to trial in LA County for some abuse charges. Not sexual abuse but some physical abuse charges. And I think contributing to minors, kind of stuff. I think providing kids alcohol. And he was let off because in large part because a couple people perjured themselves. One of them was a young gymnast. And she told me she said yeah I did, I perjured myself. I think she was 14 or 15, maybe 16 at the time. And she said one of the things that kept running through her head was if I told the truth, he would stop coaching me and then I wouldn’t be able to go to the Olympics. And that’s the whole mindset of these people. And one of Boger’s- one of the women he abused the most was Charmaine Cairns. And her parents would have Boger over to the house. They treated him like a son. And I talked to Charmaine’s mother a couple years ago, and she said we all had our heads up our rear. We saw what we wanted to see. We all thought our kids were going to the be the next Nadia, and this guy was going to take them to that. So we ignored a lot of red flags. And so I think this is kind of a universal thing throughout all these cases, is that if I report this guy, then he’s not going to coach anymore. I’m not going to go to the Olympics. I’m not going to win a gold medal. All this- my parents have put into me, having gymnastics lessons or swimming, is going to go down the drain. And there’s also they created this mindset that you have to sacrifice to get there. And you have to buy into what this guy is doing. And so this is just part of that mindset. And a guy like Doug Boger or Rick Curl or Don Peters, they can really use that mindset and this vulnerability that this ambition has created to take advantage of these kids.


BLYTHE: Katherine, how do you get into the head of a child or a young adolescent and get them to stop thinking like this. Because they’re making sacrifices already and they’re thinking like you said this is all part of the game. All part of the [inaudible]. How do you stop that?


KATHERINE: So for my thing is is before it was a 13 year old talking to another 13 year old about how to solve a problem right? So when I go in now and implement Safe4Athletes, what I do is I actually- we talk about how to speak up. And it’s not just about how to speak up about what’s going on if you’re being sexually abused. Whether it’s further injuring yourself, like learning how to speak up and be responded to. And then the way the structure works, if your club that has implemented Safe4Athletes aren’t hearing, we’ve actually adopted now a mobile technology so you can contact us, which I’ll share that later. Through that, in a language and a platform that this new generation can speak to. They didn’t have this back in the 80s. So because what I find is the more channels and more ways that you open up the doors, the more willing they’re going to be able to speak. And I had a recently was implementing Safe4Athletes, and went through this whole thing, and one of the parents came up to me and told me he had never seen his kid before who had always been bullied and all the sudden she felt comfortable and felt safe going to swim practice now. Where before she was like afraid to even be in the setting or can do anything because she didn’t feel like she had a voice. And just kind of hear that feedback of yeah she was singing in the car on the way home and just feeling open that all the sudden that you don’t have to just put up with this stuff and not be heard. And that’s what I’m finding is really the common problem is 1) learning how to speak up, 2) create a system as to where to go and how to handle the situation, and a lot of young kids are afraid of their parents or afraid as Scott said in my experience afraid to speak up. And one of the challenges that I had to deal with was my character assassination. So a lot of what happened, rumors get spread around specifically very much around young girls about their sexual prowess, if you will. Whether they’re sexually active. In character assassinating that part of the athlete. You then feel like you don’t have the ability to speak up either. Versus an adult can’t take that away from you. But then just from that piece of character assassination and feeling it just suppresses and suppresses and suppresses. And then at the same time, you’re trying to pursue your Olympic dreams, where in my particular case, I was not chosen for teams because I’m saying no. And my character kept getting more assassinated and more assassinated to the point where my parents were saying you need to listen to what the coach is saying. And it keeps backing you into a corner, backing you into a corner, and you don’t have a voice. And so that’s why I’m an advocate for having an advocate there so you never feel like you’re in a corner with no resources. And you always have an adult who will help you. And that’s what I find- who’s unbiased, it’s not a conflict of interest, and that you want the information out versus having to sit and suffer.


BLYTHE: What should you do if you are, say, a gym parent, and you think- you’re at the gym, you’re watching practice, you think that you might be seeing something that you’re not sure. You have suspicions. What should you do then?


KATHERINE: Well here’s kind of a situation that I’m dealing with with a very high profile coach. And I know my grooming behavior, and every instinct tells me that there’s something going on. And what I’ve realized is the lack of- if Safe4Athletes were in place, an investigation could be activated. And then we could take that from fiction to fact. Because it would be part of the process. Let’s investigate this. But without the policies and program in place, you’re somewhat left then to this higher legal standard, which is a criminal where you can go to the police and say look I suspect that this is going on. But if you don’t have this beyond a reasonable doubt standard to even activate something, you’re pretty much going to get well just leave or quit or go somewhere else. And one of the dilemmas is as you move up in your skill, and as you continue to develop yourself as a gymnast or swimmer or any athlete, the road gets narrow. And there’s less places for you to go. And less places for you to continue to develop. So that’s what from a parent, the first thing you want to know is what policies are in place. And if this situation arises, how can we respond to it. And if you don’t have a way to respond to it, then you’re stuck. And it stays in the system. So you really need to have something in place so you can respond and it doesn’t sit there as gossip or a question mark.


BLYTHE: And this might be a good time to talk a little bit about the statute of limitations for these kinds of crimes in California and in the United States in general. And Scott, can you address a little bit?


SCOTT: California has pretty narrow statute of limitations, a much more narrowerer than most of the rest of the country. And that was one of the reasons this bill came up that California sent out last spring called SP131. And what it would have done is extend the statute of limitations for reporting into your 30s and lengthen the window for basically in most states, the statute of limitations is based on a period of after a victim realizes and can connect subsequent problems to prior sexual abuse. So say a girl or a boy was abused as a child, and then in their 20s or 30s they have depression or some kind of issue. And through therapy they can connect their current problem, issue, with prior abuse. And so that starts the clock. And what SP131 wanted to do was not only extend the final age that you could recognize this and the window. So I believe right now in California it’s 26 to file a civil suit in California. It’s age 26 and recognize an issue in a previous three years. And so SP131 would’ve extended that. And the other thing they would’ve done, this was the big sticking point, was it would have opened this one year window for people into their 40s who had experienced sexual abuse but had [inaudible] this link. Would’ve given them a one year window to file this civil suit in California. And this was a pretty frightening process to a lot of people including USA Swimming and the Catholic church. And so they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbyists and negative advertising on TV around the state to fight this. And the senate actually passed it and the house passed it. And then about 10 days ago it was vetoed by Gerry Brown, kind of surprisingly considering it had passed both houses. But he’d been under a lot of pressure from the church between the passage of the bill and when he ultimately vetoed it. So I think a lot of people see this as a major setback for California on this issue. And I think one of the things a lot of supporters said that you have to have a major deterrent like the Catholic church or USA Swimming is that eventually they’re going to have to pay financial penalty. A significant financial penalty. And what SP131 would’ve done is held those organizations who enabled these people and protected these people, force them to address this finally in a court of law. And I think that was one of the reasons why a lot of people were really disappointed with Brown’s veto of SP131.


BLYTHE: So in the case of Linda McNamara, who was stuck between a rock and a hard place. She had this information, but the law didn’t allow her to do anything with it. If the same scenario happened today, would she be stuck in the same spot? That is to say if the coach confessed to outside party and the victim didn’t want to come forward, what’s the [inaudible] for for the person who has this information?


SCOTT: She would be stuck in the same place. Yeah I mean again this is why the bill was important because at least there could have been a civil action. But yeah, if this happened today and somebody in Linda McNamara’s position was presented with it, they’d be stuck just like she was. It’s a tough spot because a lot of people made the argument she could’ve come forward and brought this public, but then she’s opened herself up to civil case herself. So it’s a tough situation.


KATHERINE: One of the other problems with the mandatory reporting in the state of California and in almost every state in the country is that club USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, USA whatever sport after it is not- except for the state of California that I had something to do with, most club coaches are not mandatory reporters. They’re excluded. It’s a school thing. So another area where she would not have any accountability either.


JESSICA: Can you explain what a mandatory reporter is really quick?


KATHERINE: So if you have have been disclosed with or have awareness or know of any type of abuse that’s going on with a minor, you’re required to report that to state services. So in the state of California if you’re a teacher and a coach in school system- so coaches are included but only in the school system, in the public school system. They’re mandatory reporters. So if they see one of their athlete or one of the coaches within that system, they would be required to report that by the state. And where- let me give you an example. Water polo typically happens half the year you’re with your high school team, the other half the year you’re with your club team. So if your coach is abusing you with USA Water Polo, and people know about it, they are not required to say anything. But if people know about it in their high school, then they’re required to say something.


BLYTHE: And background checks, it’s been pointed out that background checks aren’t always useful because abusers can move from gym to gym in gymnastics or club to club. And does Safe4Athletes have a way to identify coaches who club hop like that?


KATHERINE: So if you were to adopt a Safe4Athletes programs, so if we get mass adoption for the Safe4Athletes program, regardless of whether or not the coach left that environment prior to an investigation happening, the process still goes through. And whatever the outcome of that then can be listed on the Safe4Athletes site. So that would eliminate the ability to go coach in California then show up in Virginia or Idaho where there’s less information. And I find even simple things that come up on Google still people don’t really quite look at even though it’s in plain site. And so the other [inaudible] you have with the background check is again it’s a criminal standard. So even if you can go look on USA Swimming, and let’s say that gymnast decides to be a soccer coach, there is nothing that is going to prevent that from going to another sport a sports environment. This is what you know, but that’s not always the case.


BLYTHE: And a question for both of you: in what’s been reported, there’s a lot of talk about how sexual abuse often happens in the individual sports, gymnastics, swimming, where the athlete may or may not have a team to fall back on. And gymnastics of course, the girls are very young when they reach a high level. And have you heard about other sports where stories like this have been prominent?


KATHERINE: My experience both from what- I just wrote an article on this. Is that the peak age of where the sports are, I believe it’s where the abuse starts. And so gymnastics is probably the youngest peak age. And if you look at sports like cycling, weight lifting, team handball, stuff like that where you have to be 18 before you can even compete, certainly in the Olympics and assume that’s across the board internationally, the same dynamic and the same abuse that can [inaudible] in this environment. But we don’t hear it as much and don’t know about it because it’s considered consent of age. So they’re consent of age. So until we address this as a coach/athlete relationship, we’re going to be in just calling it child sexual abuse. And as Scott said earlier, that it’s not the same dynamic. And I 100% agree with that and have been trying to assure that, to let people know that this is a sport/athlete dynamic that happens both with the male and female. And we’re going to hear a lot more about the younger gymnasts because you don’t have 25 year old gymnasts for the most part. As opposed to cycling, you’re going to be that age, but the same thing happens.


BLYTHE: Yeah not as much. And actually the age at which a gymnast can compete in the Olympics since the year 2000, they moved it up a bit. Before you could be 14 years old in the Olympic Games. Now you have to be 16 within the Olympic year. And what it sounds like is the scenarios you’re describing are not a bad argument for moving that age up maybe even further. Would you agree with that?


KATHERINE: Well, I don’t necessarily think you need to move the age of the competition up. I was 16 in my first Olympics. What I do think is you need to change the dynamic and the policies around coach/athlete relationships. And I think it should not happen at all. A doctor can’t be involved with their patient, a lawyer can’t be involved with their client. Those are professional relationships. Your boss, you don’t get involved with your boss. Same thing. We haven’t addressed sexual abuse, sexual harassment in a sports environment like you have in the workplace. And Scott and I had a conversation before about this in the sense that he could not say to his worker you’d be out of the building in five seconds, a coach can freely say to his athlete with no recourse and no change in the system.


SCOTT: Right. I mean I think it’s not an age issue, it’s a power issue. And recently we did a lot of reporting on a case in Orange County. A swim coach, Bill Jewel, who made all kinds of inappropriate statement to young girls. Also to older women. The kind of statements that if I made it at the Register, I would not only be fired on the spot, but the Register would be pretty vulnerable to a civil suit because of it. Yet this behavior is been accepted. And I think Katherine alluded to this a little bit earlier. I think one of the things that’s gone on too long in these sports is that there’s been this culture of coaches accepting other coaches having affairs with swimmers, underage and of “legal age.” And that this is just accepted. And I think in a lot of sports, especially swimming in gymnastics, I think it was considered almost a perk that you were a male coach and that you had a mistress on the side, whether she was 22 or 16. It was kind of accepted. And one of the reasons there’s been a resistance to banning this relationships at any age is there’s been so many coaches, especially at a high level and especially in gymnastics and swimming, who had these relationships with athletes that they coached. You look at several powers that be in swimming. They are married to former swimmers. So I think that tells you a lot about why there’s been a resistance to change. But it is a power dynamic. I mean if you are an attorney at a law firm and the main partner is pressuring you to have sex, it’s not dissimilar to some woman or young man, whether he’s 16 or 22, has Olympic aspirations. And this coach is saying if you do what I say I’ll get you to the Olympics. And they make it pretty clear that what they mean by doing what I say is everything that they say. And it’s that kind of dynamic.




JESSICA: So if we have some parents listening the show and they wanted to sign up their kid for gymnastics, what are the first things they should ask when they go to a gym?

SCOTT: Well the first thing I would do is what I do with my kids’ coaches. I have a 15-year-old and an 11-year-old, is that I google their name. And fortunately as an investigative writer at the Orange County Register, I have some other things I can do, some background checks and believe me, I do them. I think the other thing is you need to, as hard as it is to find, is to go to the NGBs that do have these lists and see if your guy’s on it. Feel free to ask questions and keep open a dialogue right away with your child. Remember that these people are working for you and they’re with your child. You expect the same kind of accountability out of these people as you would any other people. And then I think you need to check out Katherine’s site. She has a lot of good advice on stuff to look for and stuff to think about that you might not necessarily think about.

KATHERINE: Well and I think you need to have without question, there has to be policies in place. It’s not demanding something like Safe4Athletes, find something that’s equivalent. Albeit, we’re very unique in our structure but having the athlete welfare advocate there, parents can demand that that be in the environment. Parents need to step up and say we need to have a system that’s clear and concise on how to respond to issues that arise. So and with Safe4Athletes, we don’t just address sexual abuse. We address things across the athletic, all abuse, whether it’s physical, emotional, verbal to bullying and harassment. So athlete on athlete abuse to hazing to everything, so we address all of that. and I would require, not that I have kids but I feel like all of these athletes are my kids, that they have protection in place and it’s clear and concise how to respond. There’s so many things, even today, that were rumors when I swam and they’re still in the system.

JESSICA: And one question I wanted to ask about the mentality that you guys have both spoken to, that mentality that if you have this goal, if you have this singular focus in your life, that gymnastics is everything to you and the kids that leave home and they leave their friends and their parents quit their jobs and move them to this gym, it opens them up to abuse because nothing is more important than this one goal. And within that kind of mentality is whatever happens to you is going to make you tougher. It will benefit you in later life. It’s life lessons. If you can live through it, it will make you tougher. I feel like this is a general American mentality that extends to all sports. Is that part of the bigger problem, that people will put up with anything for this kind of goal?

SCOTT: Oh definitely. But I think some sports are more susceptible to it. You have sports like figure skating and gymnastics, where the kids are so isolated, that like you said, a lot of them move from another town, their parents are spending a lot of money on ice time and gymnastics coaching. I think swimming is a little bit more healthy in terms of the environment with other kids and you go on home and you do your homework and watching TV. In gymnastics and some of these other sports, your homeschooled so you have a very small social network as it is. So that relationship with your coach becomes even larger whereas say like swimming or soccer, there’s a social element to those sports. I think that can alleviate some of these feelings of vulnerability that some kids have.

KATHERINE: I don’t think that made a difference in the swimming community. The problem was that the coach athlete relationship was so commonplace and so incestuous as a sport that you’re sort of vulnerable to this not being recognized as being wrong.

JESSICA: So one of the things I wanted to ask you about is it just seems to me like there needs to be some federal legislation that mandates either, people that work with children that mandates the same kind of things that schools have.

KATHERINE: I was going to say I’m an advocate for mandating policy. I actually wanted to make an amendment to the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act that would mandate policy and have every coach be responsible for the Coaches Code of Conduct, having to use the United States Olympic Committee’s Coaches Code of Conduct which does state that no coach athlete relationship. Mandatory reporting is a state by state issue so that would never come up in a federal law. And I’m also an advocate for, regardless of consent of age, to have a professional code of conduct for all sports.

SCOTT: I think there’s an opportunity here, we talked about this a little bit earlier before we got on the podcast, right now there’s a congressional sub-committee that’s looking at USA Swimming. And one of the things I would like to see maybe come out of that, and I think a lot of people would is the creation of a USADA like organization to deal with this issue in sports. I think this sub-committee might be a good place to create this committee, in that it would be independent. One of the concerns that Katherine has and I know a lot of the people do too is that in USA Swimming in their big PR campaign, they rolled out this idea that, this notion that there needs to be such an organization. But I think a lot of the people I’ve talked to, they have concerns about who’s creating this organization. The creation of USADA was kind of a blueprint I think people are concerned about in that USADA was an independent agency created by the USOC with interest in doping and drug testing and that kind of thing. I think if you create a USADA for abuse, it has to be created with people that have no conflict of interest. So you have people from USA Swimming or people from USOC or USA Gymnastics or USA Track. You have to have an independently appointed committee of an independent organization so it’s truly independent and not run by a law firm that is also representing USA Swimming or the USOC or other people.

KATHERINE: And you also need to have people involved that understand the abusive power dynamic in sports and are not strictly child sexual abuse experts because they don’t understand.

JESSICA: And one other thing that you talked about earlier is how this sticks with you for your life. That doesn’t go away. And I wonder if Safe4Athletes has resources available to help people recover, therapy and treatments.

KATHERINE: We have therapists that are highly specialized in the coach athlete abuse. We’re continuing to grow that list because it’s so specialized, we don’t just allow anybody on the list. And then also, I myself have been able to get re-extended care if you will, to some of the more severe cases that needed more than a half hour or a few hour sessions, like 30 or 60  days of extended care to help them. So I’ve been able to do that. And we continue to connect people into legal services that will help individuals and continue to develop that across the country as well. So there’s a lot of resources you can go review on our site.

JESSICA: And another situation I wanted to ask you about which I’ve never really heard anyone talk about anywhere else is how can a team, a coach, a gym support an athlete when they do come out and talk about what happened? I was at a gym, I did adult gymnastics at a gym where this happened. One of the coaches was accused by one of the athletes. The coach confessed right away and he went right to jail and she came back to gymnastics. It was just really awkward for her. Everybody knew what had happened. The head of the gym wrote a letter. It was in all of the newspapers. But how could that have been handled?

KATHERINE: Well what I have found is athlete speaks up, coach gets removed, other athletes bully the athlete that spoke up.


KATHERINE: So and that’s where in the level severity there, they ended up having to quit which then gets you back to square one. Why speak up to begin with? Right? So until we can take on this notion of it takes a village to raise an athlete, then we collectively are all responsible for each other. We need to learn how to respect not just ourselves, we need to learn how to respect others. So in part of respecting others, this mean person approach is not going to solve the problem. If you feel devastated, it’s like a selfish place to come from to be devastated about your own career, let alone the pain and the hurt and the trauma and life of devastation that this person has already experienced and will continue to experience in their repeated relationships over the years. Learn compassion. And that’s what I find is missing in every single one of these places is that it’s all about me in the generic term. It’s that fitness of pursuing the Olympic dream and find more importance. I’m like you’ve got to shut those feelings aside and learn how to be supportive.

JESSICA: Any words, any final message you want to give to them?

KATHERINE: Well I would say check out some of the testimonies on the Safe4Athletes site. I’m more than happy to either connect them with some resources if they maybe want to come forward anonymously. I mean we have a ton of information out there to be able to come forward. And I say the more people that come forward and we ban together, the better chance we have of minimizing this as an issue.

SCOTT: I think the only thing to me, it’s not addressing your question but my concern, and I think a lot of people share this is that this is never, this whole mentality is never going to change until we have culture change in these sports. The concern of a lot of people is that a sport like gymnastics and swimming is that you’re not going to make significant and really change and address this issue until there’s a new generation. In swimming, there’s so many people that have conflicts of interest for different reasons, that they are prevented by those, not literally but at least emotionally and mentally that they can’t pull the trigger and really affect a change. And in gymnastics there’s a culture, especially on the women’s side, until the Karolyis are out of the picture and no longer the powers that be in the sport, then I think you’re always going to have issues with not just sexual abuse but all kinds of abuse of athletes. I think the tone that’s set at the top is that these kids are disposable. It’s kind of this Darwinian thing where if you can’t hack it, or if you have some problem with the way things are done, then there’s always someone else to step right up and America’s such a big country that it’s just the flavor of the month in gymnastics. I think because of that, the Karolyis can have this program of it’s our way or the highway and I think that feeds into this larger issue of abuse of athletes that hasn’t really been properly addressed. Like I said, gymnastics is trying to do a better job but still has a ways to go. There’s a similar situation in swimming where you just have too many people and too many powerful positions that have their own issues within at different levels. As long as they are in those positions, I have concerns and questions of whether we’re actually going to see effective change.

JESSICA: I want to thank you guys both so much. This has just been excellent. I think our listeners will be very interested in this and I think a lot of them will find really good resources through this. So I want to thank you both for being here.

SCOTT: Thank you!

KATHERINE: Thank you for having us on!

[Sound byte]

JESSICA: Our next guest is Lynn Moscovitz-Thompson. She is the Director of Educational Services for USA Gymnastics. She has been a coach, a judge, a gym owner and she’s also a parent. And one of the interesting things she told us when we were going through her bio is that before she got this position and the USAG launched the We Care and the Club Care campaigns, she was shocked at how much she didn’t know about the prevention of sexual misconduct. When USA Gymnastics prioritized this education component, it really helped her understand her responsibility as a parent in protecting her child. So she said before this, she’d never had a conversation with her daughter about coming forward, about talking it, about signs to look out for. And since she’s started this program, she now has and she continues to talk to her daughter about it. So she was just saying how she was really grateful to USA Gymnastics for helping her be more aware of this and to help her protect her daughter. So let’s talk to Lynn.

BLYTHE: Let’s get started with, so can you tell us a little bit about the Clubs Care program and how it came to be?

LYNN: Definitely! The Clubs Care campaign is an educational initiative. The Board of Directors reached out to the education department to increase our safe sports education to four populations: to our professionals, to our parents, to our athletes, and to our clubs. And so we’ve targeted different Safe Sport educational programs for those populations. The Clubs Care campaign is one that was created to help the clubs successfully implement policy, for them to increase the education among their staff, for them to strengthen some of the monitoring that goes on within the club. First of course, raise awareness, then provide zero opportunity for sexual abuse to occur and then to have zero tolerance policies if that were to occur. So Clubs care specifically targeted to club owners and their implementation within their populations.

BLYTHE: I see. And is joining Clubs Care a requirement to be a USA Gymnastics member club?

LYNN: No the Clubs Care campaign is an educational initiative so there is no requirement that they must participate in it. There is a requirement, a member club requirement that individuals must do that have some safe sport built into it, meaning they must have, let me grab this here real quick. They must have an individual on staff that is a professional member and has safety and background check. And mind you, in our safety and background check, excuse me, in the safety program that we provide, it has prevention of sexual misconduct content in that. So they have those requirements in addition to what we require that the member clubs cannot hire or associate in any way with any person who is permanently ineligible for membership in USA Gymnastics or cannot have an association with any person who’s listed on the federal or state offender registry. So those are requirements for membership. They are not necessarily a requirement for the Clubs Care campaign because that is a campaign of educational outreach.

BLYTHE: So what questions should a parent ask before signing a child up for a program?

LYNN: Well there’s a number of questions. And we definitely want parents to be involved. In order to prevent sexual misconduct or sexual abuse, we need not only the clubs to have policy in place, we also need the coaches and the co-workers who work in this manner and we need the parents monitoring. So they are also a big part of this. Before I answer that, I do want to indicate that we do have a program that complements our Clubs Care campaign and it is our parent educational outreach. We call it our We Care campaign. And that provides content and information for parents such as what questions to ask a youth-serving organization about their policies that are in place to ensure safety of their children. So we provide that on our website. We also did send out a mailing to some of the parents of our athlete members. And in it, we had a piece that communicated what parents should ask to a youth-serving organization to ensure that safety. I’d just like to read some of the questions that they should ask. And this by the way, was provided to us from Darkness to Light. They are one of our four educational partners that help provide content to our Clubs Care and our We Care campaigns. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to share some of those questions.How are you staff and volunteers selected? It asks do you perform background checks as well as personal and professional reference checks? Other questions would include is your staff trained in abuse prevention and response? What types of policies are in place to prevent child sexual abuse? Other questions include what is your policy for one-on-one time between adults and children? And what is your policy for reporting abuse and when a report is made, how are the parents notified? These are some of the questions that we encourage parents to ask to ensure that they are enrolling their child in any youth-serving organization that has safety of the child as a priority.

BLYTHE: Can a parent ask to see proof the background check?

LYNN: Well a parent can ask the individual for proof of a background check and they are entitled to do that. They cannot contact USA Gymnastics. We are not allowed by law to give that out to third parties. But they are more than welcome to ask the individual or the club for proof of that. Now I will say in regards to USA Gymnastics and our sanctioned competitions, only professional members that are in good standing are allowed to participate in a sanctioned competition which entails them having passed a background check. So the parents would be aware since they would have been allowed into the sanctioned event, they would have passed that background check and have a professional membership in good standing.

BLYTHE: And how many members in good standing does USA Gymnastics have at this time? Do you have those numbers?

LYNN: I don’t have those numbers. But I would say we are in excess of 16,000.

BLYTHE: Impressive! Now if you’re a gym parent, and I think a lot of gym parents might wonder about this, and you see something that you don’t think is quite right or your child reports something to you that you just don’t think is quite right that might be characterized as abuse, what should you do?

LYNN: Well first of all, let me just back up a little bit. I am a parent of an athlete, so I see it from the education standpoint and from the USA Gymnastics standpoint and also from the parent standpoint. But I want to back up. One of the things you said is that doesn’t seem quite right. We’re really trying to educate the clubs to create policies to take that gray area and not make it this doesn’t feel right but it is a breach of policy. Setting it within their staff code of conduct, which we also call a standard of behavior of what’s acceptable within their organization. But also communicating that to the parents as to what the standard of behavior is. So a parent no longer has to say that doesn’t feel quite right. A parent can report a breach of the standard of behaviors or a breach of policy. So it makes it that much easier for a parent to communicate to the club owners or to the front desk. Instead of saying you know they’re not quite certain and they’re just uncomfortable. A lot of people don’t want to report uncomfortable. They want to report, you said this is the policy. I clearly saw this person didn’t do this policy and I want to make you aware of that. So I kind of wanted to just step back a little bit to tell you where our educational initiative is going from. We want to encourage those clubs to have the standard of behavior and create policy from that so it is easier from the communication piece to the parents.

BLYTHE: Ok. And when a gym reports a violation, what’s the procedure after that? What rules are in place to enforce the Clubs Care program?

LYNN: Now are you talking about within their own organization?

BLYTHE: Yes and as far as USA Gymnastics is concerned

LYNN: Well again, let me back up. Our encouragement is to have the clubs set up a standard of behavior and some of that standard of behavior might be that they do not allow one-on-one situations. Or their standard of behavior might be that they do not allow texting amongst the athletes. So those are some of the standard of behaviors that they might have in place. So the violation of it might be a standard of behavior. There may not be any crime of anything of that sort. So within that organization, they would of course have a policy in place on how to respond to that coach or to that volunteer or to whomever within that organization. We give guidance and recommendations among the clubs with educational campaigns.

BLYTHE: Understood. So basically, it’s like creating a code of conduct that can help both broaden the athletes’ safety and ensure there’s a protocol if there is a problem with a coach.

LYNN: Definitely.

BLYTHE: Understood. You might not be able to answer this but often a coach is fired from a gym and ends up coaching at another club where they repeat the abuse. If a victim won’t press charges, is there anything that can be done legally to stop this cycle of gym hopping?

LYNN: Well legally, I can’t answer on that. but I can answer that again, with our Clubs Care campaign, we’re definitely trying to communicate with clubs that they need to expand their hiring practices. Their hiring practices have to be beyond just the background checks. The hiring practices have to include reference checks. They also have to have personal and professional references. But communicating what your standards are for your program. If you communicate what your code of conduct is and your standards of behavior, that might end the cycle because that abusing individual identifies that they can’t be successful in this environment because this environment doesn’t tolerate it. This environment has policies against it. And that’s communicated up front before a hiring even occurs. So the campaign really works on communicating beyond background checks and expanding that.

BLYTHE: Understood. Does that include resources for victims of abuse to help facilitate the healing process?

LYNN: Yes. Again, we work with four educational partners. We work with the United States Olympic Committee. They have the Safe Sport program. We also work with Darkness to Light, Stop It Now, and Child Lures Prevention. These are four child advocacy organizations that we have partnered with because each one has expertise in certain areas. Some are more for victim support. Some are more for awareness. Others have great parent and athlete outreach pieces. We’ve partnered with them so we can take their pieces and create a stronger campaign for the clubs as well as for the parents. The USOC does have a victim advocacy that you can go to by going to or we provide it through our website that links direct to that as well as Stop It Now has a help line that can be called. And again, we provide that information and redistribute that information.

BLYTHE: And this might not be a question that you can answer because it does relate a little bit to policy, but we were really wondering for a coach, if it was possible for them to be banned even if they were never convicted of a crime.

LYNN: Definitely they can be banned. If we feel, if we’ve determined that they have breached our code of conduct in a severe manner, we can ban them from the sport of gymnastics through USA Gymnastics.

BLYTHE: And I assume that the national team programs have the Clubs Care standards in place as well.

LYNN: The national teams, we communicate Safe Sport through again, the Clubs Care specific campaign that we educate through the club program. We also have other avenues of safe sport that we implement through policy development or through educational outreach and it reaches all aspects of our membership.

BLYTHE: Ok. And do you think, Lynn, that there’s a need for federal legislation that would make programs like Clubs Care more effective in helping prevent abuse, like federal legislation that require coaches to report sexual abuse or suspected abuse like that?

LYNN: Well I think anytime you’ve got a larger mouthpiece that is trying to put the child first and it is on a broader base, it’s going to be beneficial. So I definitely agree with that. Now I know since my expertise is with the educational outreach, you know being able to have legislation that also helps educate children and coaches and anyone working with young children, that is important too. USA Gymnastics had an opportunity to speak at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They had an event called Safe to Compete, where they brought together a lot of individuals who are stepping forward in protecting athletes in this regard. So they tried to put a think tank together to make a louder voice. In there, it was interesting. We had a young lady, her name was Erin, was a victim. It was quite a moving experience. She talked about how while she was being abused, she knew how to say no to drugs because of the DARE program. She knew how to stop, drop, and roll because of the safety and she knew how to not talk to strangers but she had no voice for this type of abuse. She didn’t know how to communicate it. She had been going around state to state and trying to get state legislation to require education in the schools for children. One of the outcomes from this think tank is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have hired a lobbyist to try and make federal legislation for the educational component of it. So I’m witnessing some of that larger voice and it will be beneficial.

BLYTHE: Excellent! And that’s a really nice story as well. We were going to ask you for a success story that you were proud of, if you could share that, that would be great.

LYNN: Yeah definitely. As I indicated, there’s four populations that we’ve been educating: the parents, the athletes, the clubs, and the professionals, which are our coaches. For our parent outreach, we did a mailing to some specific age groups. We did a parent’s guide on how to breach the subject with your child and also to talk about the grooming techniques the predator might be doing to a child. So there was that and there was also a Let’s Talk Teen guide that were provided by our educational partner, Child Lures Prevention. We did mail these out to the parents of our 9-year-old and our 13-year-old athletes. And one of the success stories that came from that is we did get a parent who filed a complaint against a coach. And her awareness to the fact that this crime was happening to her was because she received these materials. She received them, she was reading them, she identified that wait a minute this is what’s going on with my daughter and was able to I guess gain some strength in knowing that hey this shouldn’t be happening and I’m going to do something about it. So that, I think, is a fantastic success story from just that mailing that we did out to parents of those children.

BLYTHE: That’s wonderful. If you could just speak directly to the parents, if there’s one thing that you wanted them to remember, to take away from this interview, what would that be?

LYNN: I believe that their involvement needs to be there. We can’t just assume that the environment is safe. I know that there’s good gym clubs out there that are doing their best and working very hard and providing a safe environment. But whether it be a gym club or a soccer team, or whether it be a swim team, the parents have to have an involvement with that and must participate in monitoring what is going on with their child. Now I also want to encourage them, if they have questions, if they want resources, if they want pieces they can bridge conversations with their children, to go to and click on the We Care campaign and they will have a variety of resources at their fingertips.

BLYTHE: Excellent. And how long has the We Care program been in place?

LYNN: USA Gymnastics has always taken steps for safe sport. Whether it be policy or required background checks for our professionals or educational components at our regional or national events, the safe sport has always been a part of it. But on a larger, more branded scale like the Clubs Care campaign and the We Care campaign, we launched that August of 2012. So it gave a more visible piece and also allowed a website for people to go back and have those as regular resources, whether it be club owners, professionals, parents.

BLYTHE: And just one last question. And forgive me if this is a policy question, but what is the chain reaction for how it would come to USA Gymnastics if there was a member club that had a coach who had a complaint filed against him or her by a parent or a student. The parents, they would go to a club owner and say something. They should go to the police and say something. And then how does that get reported to USA Gymnastics?

LYNN: That lies in our participant welfare policy. USA Gymnastics has created a document that has those steps in place for reporting and protocol with that. That’s available on our We Care campaign page as well as our Clubs Care campaign as well as information about USA Gymnastics. And that outlines it. And we encourage individuals to make themselves aware of it as well as we encourage clubs to use this participant welfare policy as a policy template in order to create policy within their own organization.

BLYTHE: I see. It’s not mandatory that if there is a complaint reported, it gets reported to USA Gymnastics as well.

LYNN: If it’s a breach of code of ethical conduct, it’s not mandatory. But obviously, if there’s been a conviction against them, we have that awareness through the background check policy.

BLYTHE: Understood. Ok, well Lynn, that really exhausts our questions. If there’s anything at all that you would like to add, please feel free.

LYNN: Well I’d like to add a thank you of spreading the word. Awareness is the first step. And then from there, we’ve got to create the environment safer and enlist the parents’ help. And I’m very thankful that you’re assisting in communicating the message out there. From the process of us being more in front of the membership with the Clubs Care and We Care campaigns, it’s interesting, when I first started, nobody was talking about this subject. It was talked about and it wasn’t a comfort to it. And as we’ve continued the message, the monthly message whether it be through a print, through our magazines, through email, whether it be on our website or a variety of avenues, we continue to do the messaging. It’s becoming a lot more of a comfortable conversation. Individuals will come up and say before you go do that presentation, I have to tell you my story. Or I want to tell you my story because I want people to know they have a place, they have someone they can talk to. The conversation has gotten more comfortable and more frequent. And I think that that is going to benefit the safety of the athletes too because it’s not a secret anymore. We can talk about and because we can talk about it, we can do something about it.


ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: Visit That’s sports with a z and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.

That’s going to do it for us this week. Let us know what you thought of this episode. You can email us at You can call us at 415-800-3191. You can reach us on Skype. Our username is Gymcastic Podcast. And remember your resources to write down, research, go to, use are Safe4Athletes, Clubs Care and We Care. There are tons of resources there. There’s videos. There’s even little tests, innocent images from the FBI. There’s even tests that you can give your kids there. There’s sample forms. There’s so many great resources to reach out, 800 numbers that you can call 24 hours a day and Safe4Athletes also has an app. So check those out. Moving on to the fun stuff, Halloween costume contest. Don’t forget! Send us your picture by November 1 to and the winner will receive a poster of your choice from our friends at Cloud and Victory, the only company who does fan couture. Yes, I’ve decided it’s fan couture. It’s the best thing ever. They just make beautiful things. Go to their site and check it out, Cloud and Victory. And make sure to send us your picture. And let’s see. What else? I’m going on vacation. And I’m going to go to Disney World and I’m going to the Harry Potter park and I’m going to get my wand at Ollivander’s and I’m so excited you guys. I can’t even tell you. So while I am vacationing next week, getting my wand, you guys can enjoy for the first time ever, our Tim Daggett interview uncut, in its full length and glory rerun next week. So please enjoy that if you haven’t listened to it. It’s one of the first shows we did. So I’m sure you will enjoy it. We loved talking to Tim. It was the episode that Blythe brings up every time. And in the meantime, you can support the show by subscribing. You can write a review on iTunes. You can download the Stitcher app. You can donate. You can shop in our Amazon store. And don’t forget about the Halloween costume contest because you guys have the best costumes. We can’t wait. And you really need a poster from Cloud and Victory because they’re the best. So until next week, we’ll see you in two weeks with a new episode. Next week, Tim Daggett full and uncut. And have a fabulous week and thank you for listening and let us know what you thought of this show. Toodles.

SCOTT: Independent USADA like organization created out of all this that these NGBs can’t keep policing themselves. It doesn’t work. Just using the way USADA was set up, it was totally incestuous. Someone needs to appoint an independent body to set up the USADA abuse. You can’t have people from the USOC. You can’t have NGBs doing it because there’s always going to be this conflict of interest.

KATHERINE: On that note real quick, so the person at USA Swimming, the defense attorney for USA Swimming and I’m pretty sure Scott knows this, it’s Rich Young who’s in charge of USADA.

SCOTT: My point exactly. Yeah, he’s the ultimate insider. That’s the problem.

KATHERINE: And he’s the partner of Scott Blackmun law firm to begin with.

SCOTT: Right, right.

KATHERINE: The family tree ranks Scott Blackmun, CEO of USOC, Rick Young, who is the law partner, and Scott if I’ve got this wrong let me know, is the law partner of Scott Blackmun. And then Rick Young is in charge of USADA and his other role is as defense attorney for USA Swimming to fight all the sexual abuse issues that come in.

JESSICA: So he’s defending them and he’s also the person who’s supposed to investigate everything and make sure that these swimmers, these kids get justice. But at the same time he’s defending them and opposing this legislation.


JESSICA: Can you guys describe, for the people that don’t know exactly what USADA is and don’t know all of these different acronyms, what that is and why it had to be set up as independent in order to not be incestuous mess.

SCOTT: Well it’s United States Anti-Doping Agency and it was created by the USOC and funded by Congress in large part around 2000. And it was done because these national governing bodies were testing athletes and also adjudicating the cases and they were doing a really poor job on both ends. There’s all kinds of conflicts of interest. And there was a lot of heat internationally on USOC to do something about such a sad state of doping controls in the US. So they put together USADA but it was put together by people from in house. Basically this law firm that represents USOC and a lot of NGBs. Don Catlin who ran UCLA lab and a lot of other people who had interest in this new organization, financial interests and other interests. And so it was basically set up by USOC. It’s called independent but I think that remains up for debate. There’s just so many connections back and forth in that town between USOC and USADA and all the NGBs which is beyond who is a partner at this law firm that the current USOC chief Scott Blackmun worked at. He’s also the attorney for USA Swimming so there’s all kinds of conflicts of interest.



[expand title=”Episode 57: Tim Daggett: A GymCastic Classic Episode”]

TIM: When you see a broadcast on television, unfortunately you’re really not, it’s not being put together for a group like you guys. You’re hardcore fans, and you want to see every routine, and I mean, you know, NBC is a business, and so they obviously want to get the best ratings possible, and so sometimes I know it is frustrating as all getup, because you don’t get to see things and you get a lot of the drama, and the drama repeated and repeated and repeated again.




JESSICA: This week, NBC commentator and Olympic gold medalist Tim Daggett is here. In this GymCastic classic episode, it’s our full interview with Tim Daggett, uncut.


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 We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: This is episode 58 for October 30, 2013. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner


UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym


JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the galaxy, bringing you the most fascinating people in the world of gymnastics.




JESSICA: This is a GymCastic classic episode, the first interview we ever did on this show with the man we all grew up listening to on NBC, Tim Daggett. Before we get started, a few tidbits about the show from listener comments and questions back when the show originally ran in 2012 in September. When Tim talks about being kind and creating ambassadors for the sport, he’s talking about the elite program. A comment from a parent whose child goes to Tim Daggett’s gym that I thought was totally adorable that I wanted to share with you guys. “My son goes to the preschool program at his gym. Preschoolers put on a little show at the end of the year, commented by Tim Daggett as if he is on TV.” So she has in quotes, as if Tim saying “Here comes Billy. Look at that donkey kick! Amazing form!” Just thought that was adorable. Next one is when a question is asked about the double front on women’s vault and Tim said she should have lost five points, who is he talking about? He is talking about the now infamous Yamilet Pena doing the Produnova. Quick reminder, Halloween costume contest. We are giving away a poster from the fabulous Cloud and Victory. They have I think six posters up. And you can choose from any of those. It’s your choice of poster. They are fan couture fabulousness. We love them. Check out their website. Cloud and Victory. They are the only company making gorgeous clothes and jewelry and real fan couture. I don’t know how else to put it. It’s just awesome. The beauty of gymnastics is what you get in their products. I just love them. So anyway. Free for you, a poster from them. Just send in your awesome Halloween costume contest. Gymnastics related in any way. It doesn’t matter. You can dress up like Karolyi, you can dress up like a regular gymnast, you can dress up like a gymnastics joke like a box of Barilla pasta if you wanted to. Anything you want is fine. Anything that’s even a little bit gymnastics related and only a total gymnastics insider would get it. Or if it’s just whatever you want, anything gymnastics related, we would love to see it and you win a free poster. You can support the show by shopping in our Amazon store. You can buy a book there, you can buy birthday gifts, you can do your early Christmas shopping. As long as you start on our Amazon link on our store, a little portion of what you buy goes back to the show. And you guys have asked for a way to support the show so we added a donate button. So if you’d like to donate directly you can do that. And thank you to everyone who has donated. You can download the Stitcher app, it works on all devices including android for all you android users out there. You can subscribe to the show. We have a little email subscribe button on our website and you can subscribe there and you will get exactly what’s on the website will come to your email so you can see all the routines we put up, all the links we put up, all the information of what’s on the show. And it will get emailed to you every time the show is posted. We also recommend that you share us on Facebook or + us on Google+. You can rate us or write a review on iTunes which we absolutely love. And you can always contact us. We read every single email. We read all of your comments on Facebook. So our email is You can also call us, ask us any question. Call us and leave a message, something you want to talk about on the show. Our number is 415-800-3191 or if you are out of the country you can call us on Skype and leave a voicemail message. So any voicemail you want to leave. It’s GymCastic Podcast. And just to reassure you, none of us answer the phone. It’s a voicemail system. So just don’t worry about like having to talk to one of us right away or someone picking up. We won’t surprise you like that. You just leave a voicemail. It’s a voicemail system. You can also follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. And don’t forget about the Halloween contest. Win one of those fabulous posters. We’ll put a picture of them up on our site. Can’t wait to see those. Ok, here comes the interview.


CHILD: This week’s classic interview with Tim Daggett is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. I take gymnastics class at my school. And we use lots of mats. Sometimes I don’t like to go on the mats or try new things because the mats are rock solid. But I do like Tumbl Trak’s tumbling mats and cartwheel mats. The tumbling mats are very soft. I like the cartwheel mats because they help me see where to place my hands and feet and they are also very colorful. You can find out all about these mats at That’s Tumbl Track, do it again.




BLYTHE: NBC Gymnastics Commentator Tim Daggett attended UCLA during the Golden Years, with greats like Mitch Gaylord and Peter Vidmar. As an elite gymnast, he has won almost every title you can imagine. He has been US National Champion, NCAA Champion, won the American Cup, and also won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics with the team, and bronze on the pommel horse. He owns a gym, Tim Daggett’s Gold Medal Gymnastics, outside of Boston, and is a full time gymnastics coach. Tim, it’s an honor to have you here, and thanks for coming on the show.


TIM: Great, great to be here.


JESSICA: Ok, so two things I want to ask you before we get started: is there anything that you want to talk about that no-one ever asks you that you would love for someone to ask you in an interview?


TIM: You, I mean, it’s just…one of the frustrations that I have is, when you see a broadcast on television, unfortunately you’re really not, it’s not being put together for a group like you guys.


JESSICA: Uh-huh.


TIM: You’re hardcore fans, and you want to see every routine, and I mean, you know, NBC is a business, and so they obviously want to get the best ratings possible, and so sometimes I know it is frustrating as all getup, because you don’t get to see things and you get a lot of the drama, and the drama repeated and repeated and repeated again. And that’s to build an audience, you know?




TIM: And so it’s hard, because there are some really great things that always get missed, but I try my best, and at this point I do have some impact on what we can see, and we do get to see more variety, because I know what’s going on out there, so I do fight for it.


JESSICA: Totally. Got it. And with that, I’m going to hand it over to Blythe.


BLYTHE: OK, so I have a sort of fun question to start off with. Other teams in US gymnastics have a gold medal. The women’s team in gymnastics has come up with cool nicknames: “The Magnificent Seven”, “The Fierce Five”, and do you ever think about if your team from 1984 could have a nickname, what it would be? Or maybe you had one?


TIM: [LAUGHS] Yeah, I know. We weren’t that cool back then, that’s the problem. You know, there was a big song that came out, Don Henley had a song called “The Boys of Summer” right around that same time, and some of the press kind of called us that, but really what we got compared a lot to was the hockey team in 1980. You know, The Miracle on Ice. And some people called us The Miracle on Mats, too. But that was the closest had to a “Fierce Five” or a “Magnificent Seven”.


BLYTHE: [LAUGHS] And as a gymnast, you were quite a gymnast. And one thing some of our listeners might not know is you have a pretty incredible comeback story, from a knee injury, correct? And according to Sports Illustrated, it said you tore your ACL at the 1987 Worlds, but is that exactly what happened? And can you tell us about that?


TIM: No, not exactly. What I did was, competing at the Worlds in 1987, I landed my vault, and there was back then, they used to have a base layer of mats like what you see now, and then they had an inch-long cover that ran the entire length of the mats, and I guess part of the lower mat had separated, but you really couldn’t see that, because you had this cover that went the entire length of the landing area, and so I landed in the crack, and so it’s kind of like a fracture. And it just really snapped my leg, I shattered both of the bones in my left leg, and it was pretty messy because I ended up tearing an artery as well, which required about five different emergency surgeries, I lost pints of blood, you know. And in Rotterdam, Holland, the doctor told me, basically, his hope was to save my leg. Not to ever walk or run or certainly ever do gymnastics again, it was, you know, somehow to save my leg so they wouldn’t have to amputate, which was pretty surreal at the time, and I was very fortunate. I got out of there and went to UCLA, and they hooked me up, and it was a very, very long process. Because all the surgeries, the vascular injuries, but I did compete again, which I’m very proud of.


BLYTHE: And the World Champion that year was Dmitry Bilozerchev, who had gone through something similar after a car accident, is that correct? Did you know about that at the time?


TIM: Oh, sure. I’m actually a good friend of Dmitry’s. And, you know, post 1984, I don’t know why, but USA and the Soviet Union, we had a whole bunch of competitions, and we even had training camps together. And so, we all knew each other quite well and we were very friendly, and I don’t know why this was, but as you guys know, there are many competitions outside of Worlds and the Olympic Games. And for whatever reason, you know, all of the meets I went to around the world, he was always there. And so, we got to know each other well. And his coach at that time, the person who really made him who he was, was Alexander Alexandrov, who was the coach for the Russian team now. And my coach at that time was Yefim Furman, who was from the Soviet system. And so there was a translator component, and so we really got to know each other quite well.


BLYTHE: I see. And so, you now have a son, Peter, who is named after Peter Vidmar, is that right?


TIM: Yes.


BLYTHE: He is quite an up and coming gymnast, and he has been to a couple of level 9 national championships, is that right? And he has already had ACL surgery, I read this in an article a couple years ago. And if I can ask, what is it like being the dad of a gymnast who has a knee injury like that, and how do you help him get through it?


TIM: Oh, it’s horrific. [LAUGHS] You know, because he had it at such a young age, and it really was such a fluke accident, you know? One of the things—and if you hear my broadcast, we always, when somebody lands with locked legs, it’s really scary. And you know, the likelihood that something really bad happens isn’t all that high, but the potential is there. So when I see somebody, on the air, land with locked knees, I’m always like, “Bend your knees!” And, that’s what my son did. He was doing a dismount off of high bar, and he landed with locked knees, and yeah, tore his ACL. But he worked really hard, and did a lot of rehab and came back, and since that injury he made the Junior National Team, so very proud of that little man.


BLYTHE: That is quite an accomplishment. I think some of the fans may wonder what vault you were doing when you hurt your knee?


TIM: Well, actually, it was a highly rated vault back then, but it was a piked Cuervo. Very few people do it nowadays, because it really isn’t an efficient way of flipping and twisting. What you’re doing is you’re doing a forward handspring—it’s basically a handspring pike front with a half turn, but you do it at the wrong time, so it’s a little inefficient. So you do a handspring and you immediately do a full half turn, where you kind of have to stall your rotation a little bit, and then you do a piked back somersault after that. So, that’s what I did.


BLYTHE: And obviously, when you came home from the Netherlands, you probably thought your career was over. And at what point did you think wow I could maybe do elite gymnastics again?


TIM: You know, it took so long, because I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks in Rotterdam, and I came back and at UCLA for another week, and home care for a couple of months. And I was in a wheelchair, literally, until, I don’t know, mid-January. And I don’t know what happened, but one day, I used to get outside- like I said I had a help maid that helped me. And my apartment in Los Angeles sat atop a big hill. And if it went to the left it was very flat for a long way, and if you went to the right, you went down the big hill. And one day I just said, “we’re going to go this way”. And my aide was like “no, you can’t do that, you’re going to have to come up and it’s going to be very hard,” and I said “no, it’s a beautiful day, I want to see what’s going on this way”. And so, I went down the big hill, and I didn’t really realize it at the time, but I got to the bottom, and she said “ok, it’s time to go back up”, and I said “I got it and I can get up”, and she said, “I’ve got to help you, I’ve got to push you uphill”.  My body basically hadn’t moved for months. And I said “No”, I said “Do not touch the chair.” And so I pedaled my way—well, I didn’t pedal, I used my arms—pushed my way to the top of the hill, a couple of times I almost went out into the road because I had no strength at all. But she didn’t touch the chair, and I made it to the top. And for some strange reason, when I did that, I knew I had to try and come back.


BLYTHE: That’s fantastic. And once you were back in the gym, was it any harder than you expected?


TIM: You know, I knew how hard it was going to be. It’s just a mid-shaft tibia shatter like that is one of the slowest healing bones, and when you compound it with a vascular injury, with the artery and losing all that blood, I had a couple other different surgeries, it’s called a fasciotomy, to release the pressure in my lower leg, and I knew it was going to be really hard. And it wasn’t my first time dealing with a serious injury. I had fallen and hurt my head, ruptured some discs in my neck, so I really knew it was going to be hard. I thought it would be less painful after a while, but really it just never lost that intense pain. It was there, the day I competed at the Olympic Trials.


BLYTHE: After something like that, to go back to the Olympic Trials after having won a Gold Medal, what was driving you?


TIM: You know, it’s funny. I just, I really felt that, I could be better. And I was the youngest guy in ’84, and I…before the injury, I fully knew I was going to continue on, you know, for another 4 years, and I just really though that I could be much better than I was in Los Angeles. And I made that commitment to myself, and even though it was hard, even though there were lots of people who said “You should move on”, it’s just not the kind of person I am, and I had to try. And, kind of remarkably, I made it, all the way to the Olympic Trials, and after the compulsories, I did a pretty good job, and I think I lead two of the events after compulsories, and I think was seventh—I was either seventh or eighth after the first day, and it just…I know what it took to get to the Olympic games, to win an Olympic gold medal. And it was hard, and I had to make sacrifices, and I had to be committed. But getting back to the Olympic Trials and having that first day, and even that second day, it was a higher mountain to climb. And in many ways—nobody knows about this—but for me, as a person, I’m more proud of that than of winning a gold medal.


UNCLE TIM: So, shortly after your comeback, you started your career as a commentator. Could you talk briefly about how you became involved with NBC as a commentator?


TIM: Sure. You know, a lot of people, especially the younger folks today, they just think it happened, and in a certain amount they do, but I always wanted to do it. It looked like it would be the coolest job ever, and I couldn’t figure out how to. I thought about it a lot, and I don’t know anybody in TV, really. So I thought to myself, what’s the best shot of finding an agent? So I said to myself, they’re probably all in New York. And of course, there was no internet then, you couldn’t just Google it, so I got on a bus from Springfield, Massachusetts, and I went to New York City, and back then, of course, pay phones and Yellow Pages. So I get off the bus in Penn Station of wherever, and find a phone booth that actually has a Yellow Pages still there, and I’m just looking through it and looking through agents, and of course the agents are all theatrical or singing or whatever, and I find a section that I think is for television broadcasters in sports, and I see a listing, and it’s one of the first, it was called Athletes and Artists. And so I figure, athletes, what is that? I did a little more checking, and it actually was started by one of the pioneers in the industry, a guy named Art Menskey, who represented so many different broadcasters throughout the years, so I put my quarter or dime or whatever it was in the phone, and I called Athletes and Artists, and I said to the lady, the receptionist who answers the phone, “Hello, my name is Tim Daggett, I was a gymnast in the Olympics and I won a gold medal, and I want to do television broadcasting. And she was like, oh. She sounded a little flustered, and she put me on my hold, and a couple minutes later Art Menskey came on the phone, and he said “hello Tim, I’m a big fan, I’d love to meet you.”


JESSICA: Awesome.


TIM DAGGETT: And he said, “When can we get together?” And I said, “Well, I just came down here now, and so I’m right near Broadway, can I come over now?” And he was flabbergasted by that. And so I went over, and I met the crew, and was assigned an agent named Alan Sanders. And I’ve been with Alan ever since.


UNCLE TIM: Great. So, something that we probably don’t really understand is how much time and effort you have to put into preparing for a competition. Could you talk about how you catch up on the news on the athletes, are there websites you visit, are there blogs that you visit, can you talk a little bit about that process?


TIM: Anything and everything. And you know now, it’s actually easier, obviously, but so much harder, because there’s just too much information. People ask me, how do you get ready for an Olympics? See, I never stop, that’s what it comes down to, I just never stop. I did take a couple week break after the Olympic games, cause I was just so exhausted. But I do, on average, about an hour a day, every day, even when nothing is coming up. I’m just visiting sites, I’m talking to people on the telephone, and then, when we get closer to an event, I ramp it up a lot. Three months before the Olympics, I was probably doing eight hours a day. And, a month before the Olympics, I was in front of my Olympics or on the telephone twelve hours a day. And I really—one of the things I really want to be able to do is, I want to know all of the players in a bunch of different areas. I want to know, obviously, something about them personally, and I want to know their past accomplishments, and then I want to know what they do. So basically, I want to know going into the Games, I want to know the routines of all of the players, men and women, on all the different events, and I do know that. And then I also have to, in my brain—because you have to access everything pretty quickly—I want to have perspective. Like, you know, when somebody from Romania is going, obviously I have to know facts in my brain of all of the accomplishments of Romania, and to be able to, if something becomes relevant, to be able to talk about that. So it’s a lot to know, but I love doing it.


UNCLE TIM: Great. And something else I think that a lot of gym fans think is, we tend to think that you have a huge role in the production, and everything that happens on NBC’s broadcast is because of you, because you’re kind of the figurehead that we look to. So could you talk about how much of a role you have in the production, and what you think, maybe, NBC is trying to do with their broadcasts?


TIM: Well I do have a role, now. Initially, you know, I was just a minion, you know? But, you know, the thing that a little frustrating is it’s a company. NBC is a huge corporation and it’s a business, and they’re trying to make money. And so, really there isn’t a gymnastics broadcast on television that is for the hardcore gymnastics fan. It’s not. Because unfortunately, there aren’t enough of us. So what it comes down to is, we have to make the sport appealing and interesting to the grandma in Topeka, or whoever. So, unfortunately, if you have a ton of different, cast of characters, it just…they lose interest. And so we’re always going to focus on the Americans, because it is the National Broadcasting Company. And, you know, and so that’s always going to be the case. And then we’re going to pick and choose the most dramatic stories out there, and you know, we’re going to tell the story and we’re going to tell it again, because it’s what the casual viewer, it’s what they want. And NBC has done so many, you have constantly, forever and ever, they’re doing research on what is it that these people want to see, and they want to learn about Viktoria Komova. they want to learn about her. And they want to know some of her history, and we’ve got to tell that story, and we’ve got to tell it again and again and again. And so, it’s not like going to a podium training at a World Championships. If you saw me at a podium training at a World Championships, I’d look just like all of the hardcore gymnastics fans, because I love the sport so much. I’m looking at and bars and then, oh, did you see that on beam, that was beautiful, that was gorgeous, and then I’m back over on vault and I’m like, “Hey, Pena’s going now”, and it’s…I’m all over the place, I love it! But, you know, to sell it for a show, that’s unrealistic and it’s really not going to happen that way, so. And one of the other things that is so frustrating to me is, you know, we show the great routines, we always do, and I love it. When it’s spectacular, I go crazy. I mean, high bar finals at the Olympic Games was just off-the-charts, and I was as excited and thrilled and calling Epke, of course, calling Hambuchen on high bar. It was just fantastic. I’m so positive and so passionate. And people always thinking I’m negative and so critical, but it’s like, the only thing that I do, is that I interpret for that grandma in Topeka. I interpret what the judge is doing through my comments. Because, it’s like, I have to let them know why it’s not going to be…I mean yes, it’s remarkable, it’s amazing, but in the context of the Olympic Games or the American Cup or whatever, it’s just not good enough. And sometimes, it’s not like watching quarterback throw the ball and get intercepted and run for a touchdown, it’s not that clear, but to you and to me, it is. Because we know, oh, that’s a full point she lost the, not just the deduction, but she also loses the element and she’s supposed to connect off of it, and it’s devastating. And so, they hire me to tell the truth, and I try to.


BLYTHE: And so, we are really the hardcore gymnastics fans, and we would love to talk to you a bit about, from the fan perspective, from the hardcore fan perspective, about the Olympics, what’s happened.


TIM: Sure.


BLYTHE: Could you put it in context for us, what were some of the surprises, the best moments, the best routines you saw in London.


TIM: Well, you know, personally I just thought high bar was off the charts. I mean, it was unbelievable. What a final. I mean, Jonathan Horton did one of the best routines of his life, and he didn’t make it to the medal podium. He’s got a lot to be proud of of that routine, though, because it was tremendous, but Epke and Hambuchen were just phenomenal. I actually think that Fabian…I don’t know, I think he maybe got the short end of the stick, it was much cleaner, but Epke was just off the charts fantastic, you know, it was wild, and I set that up before the games in a production meeting, I said that in the qualifying rounds we need to show Epke Zonderland, and they were like, where is he from? Holland. Oh, we can’t do that, we can’t show that…and I go, he is going to do the hardest piece of gymnastics of every gymnast in the games, male or female, and we gotta show him. And they were like, uh, we don’t know. But we got to show him, and of course he didn’t do it in the prelims, but…so, high bar was a highlight. Obviously, the next most amazing thing, for me, was the USA women’s vault, the first rotation in the team finals. I mean, it was breathtaking, and dominant times ten. And then McKayla, you know, capping it off with the best vault that has ever been done by a woman, ever. And those silly judges, finding deductions, it’s just crazy. So that was an amazing one. Watching Gabby hold it together was phenomenal, in the All-Around finals, because if you’re a hardcore fan, you know how wonderful she is. You know how brilliant she can be. But you also know she is capable of really having a mental lapse, that’s all there is to it. And a lot of people don’t know this, but there were rumors that, in the first day of competition, Gabby wasn’t going to do the All-Around. And I heard that, and I said, that’s the craziest thing I ever heard, she just won the Olympic Trials. But she really, in training, had been struggling on beam. A lot.




TIM: A lot. She was, you know, that first sequence where she does aerial flip out, layout, step out. She was falling a lot, and there was talk that they weren’t going to put her up, which I thought would have been the biggest mistake ever, and I’m glad that they didn’t do that. So, let’s see, what else was amazing…I though Chen Yibing was better on rings. But a lot of people don’t know this either, the Brazilian guy, he…you got to hand it to him, because he took a risk of epic proportions, he knew the draw was done before, and he knew that if you came in as the leader on still rings that you would compete first in the individual event finals, and so he took either—I can’t remember at this point, but he took either two- or three-tenths of difficulty out of his routine, because he didn’t want to qualify in first.




TIM: Yeah, yeah. It was pretty gutsy, and it worked, he made it, and he ends up in the last position, and, you know, Chen Yibing going first and him going last, but…I think they got that one wrong, personally. I just think that Chen Yibing is poetry, and Zanetti’s great, but not quite at that level. Let me think, what else was amazing…I was really happy for Aliya on the uneven bars. You know, it’s been a tumultuous couple of years for her, as well. But she’s a beautiful gymnast and a beautiful person, and her bar routine—it’s gorgeous, it’s absolutely fantastic. The combinations, you know, she does Shaposh and stalder and release to the high bar, it’s just absolutely elegant. Beth was phenomenal as well, though, and she went for it, she did that double double, and really what it comes down to is that that was a three-tenths step, there’s no question about that. And I don’t know if she needed that. I think she, as an athlete, needed that, because look at her routine, and you can see that, absolutely, she is all out, 100%, to finished, so she had to give it everything she had, and she won a medal at home and I’m sure she’s really grateful about that.


JESSICA: I have one follow-up question about bars, because I was so—this might sound bad—but I was really excited when I was watching the bar final, and when Gabby went up, you were trying to set the expectation because people were like, she’s the favourite for this, and you were like, no, not really, she doesn’t have the difficulty, and the people like us know that, but the people at home…


TIM: Right.


JESSICA: …were like, Gabby, she’s going to win! But when she went, there was something specific you said where you were like, “She’s the best”, and then you were like, “Well, she’s, you know, the best at this competition for the US”, and I totally knew you were talking about Anna Li.


TIM: Yes. Yeah. Yes. I mean, what we’re getting down to at that point time is, she is the “It” person of the Olympic games. I mean, I think she had 32 million independent Google searches during the Olympics.


JESSICA: Oh my god.


TIM: Something off the charts like that. And, you know, the American public, coming into each night of women’s gymnastics, they are craving for Gabby. It was even a little more challenging on balance beam, because she really wasn’t at that level on beam for the beam finals. And so, that was hard. And then, coming into bars, people really…if people fell, she could have gotten a medal, but everybody knew that that was most likely not going to happen. And I think when I said she’s the best, I was giving her props for she was, she is the Olympic All-Around Champion. I think that was probably what I was making reference to. And you know, it’s important for people to know that even though it was tape delayed, we called all of the routines live, every single one, we called them live. And we were, at the compound, until sometimes three in the morning, because what happens in television is you know, you’ve got this huge puzzle to put together for the primetime broadcast, and we start out with a plan, you know, swimming they’re going to be at for an hour and three minutes, and gymnastics they are going to be at for an hour and 26 minutes, and water polo, and all these things, but then, something happens dramatic at a venue that they didn’t anticipate, so they give that some time and they take away from somebody else, or gymnastics is off the charts, and so they take away from swimming, and so, when they do that, what we have to do is we have to either lose routines, lose replays, add routines, add replays, and so, we’re just doing those transitions, and that is brutally time consuming, but just for the folks who think that I’m manufacturing this stuff, and sometimes I’m looking at this and I know what happens, we’re calling it live, which is the way I love to do it, and we call edit live and I said that Chen Yibing after Zanetti went, I said, he’s the champ! And, you know, he wasn’t. so we didn’t take that out because that was what I felt, and, back forth, for people to know.


BLYTHE: How do you feel about the perfect 10 and the way the scoring system has changed?


TIM: Well, I hate it. I… I mean, I just hate it because, it’s just so confusing. And, you know, some of it could go away, if they got, you know… but it’s always going to be confusing in my opinion because, it’s like the tax system. There’s always going to be a loophole. Somebody’s going to find an easy combination, or, you know, they’re just going to find a way that’s really not as hard but it brings in all these points. And it’s going to happen on certain events. And, so, the biggest problem with what we have right now is a 15.7 is either a really great score, or… let’s just say a 15.2 is from off-the-charts good to not good at all across the different events. And, so, for the casual viewer at home, they just don’t understand that. They can’t understand how men’s vault can score so much higher than every other event. Or why women’s floor exercise scores so much lower. Frankly, I don’t get why women’s floor exercise scores so much lower either [LAUGHS]. I mean I just… sometimes I see the deductions, and it’s very very frustrating. On the men’s side, you can have a stellar executed routine, a Kohei Uchimura-like routine, or Hambuchen-like routine, and, you know, you can lose .9 in deduction. And you can have a really mediocre routine. Really mediocre. And it can be 1.3 off in execution. And, it just… they’re not doing it right that way. So, I liked the 10.0. The thing that really doomed the 10.0 in my opinion wasn’t that there wasn’t a way to differentiate, it’s just the judges wouldn’t go to it. That was the problem. Like, I remember Dragulescu on vault, you know, I can’t remember exactly what he got, but I think he got a 9.875, and, you know, the guy who was right below him, you know, got a 9.8666 or whatever. And, you know, I mean, they both did a handspring double front half and the comparison wasn’t even… I mean it just… Marian was so much better. Why wouldn’t they score the state-of-the-art at a 10.0? Like McKayla’s vault in the women’s team finals. In a 10.0 system, that should have been a 10.0. And then, you know, I mean, Gabby Douglas did a fantastic vault that day, and that should have been a 9.95. And, you know, people would get that. And it differentiates plenty at that level. But I don’t think it’ll ever happen again.


BLYTHE: The level of difficulty has gone up on certain events just, even during the past decade, an extraordinary amount. And as a former gymnast, as a coach, are there any skills that it sort of freaks you out to look at people do?


TIM: Umm, yeah. I mean, there’s… it is amazing what people are capable of doing, you know. I’m probably pretty biased, but some of the vaults just really scare me. Because I’ve seen these gymnasts that are the best in the world and they can pull these vaults off, and, you know, they look magical. But I’ve also see them crash really bad. [LAUGHS] So that scares me a little bit. You know, high bar is hard, incredibly hard. But, you know, it’s like, coaching it, I coach those skills – I coach kovacs and kolmans and all that kind of stuff. And it’s really in a lot of ways not all that different than, you know, a hecht gienger. It’s really not. But, you know, I mean I, for one… balance beam… I just think it’s so hard to make it look in any way artistic. I mean really, the Chinese obviously, they are the ones that can still kind of make it look artistic. But, it’s even hard there. So, I don’t love that component of it at all. But yeah, you know, if I got to change it all, I don’t know if I could come up with a better way of doing it. I love the opportunity to push the envelope and do something harder. What is really lacking, though, is always striving to figure out a way to do something relevant and different. You know, I mean there’s different for silly… you know, for no real gymnastics reason. But if it’s real and it’s beautiful and it’s virtuous, doing something original is just phenomenal and should be rewarded, you know, extremely, you know, highly.


BLYTHE: Do you think that there’s any vault… and, I’m really just saying the handspring double front for women… do you think that that should be banned?


TIM: I don’t think it should be banned, but I think she should have lost about 5 points on it. [LAUGHS]




TIM: [LAUGHS] Yeah it’s really silly because, I mean, its’ not even close. I mean it’s really not even close, and, you know, I mean, it’s just… she’s powerful, and she’s fearless, and so she runs down there, and you know I don’t have any… you know on the men’s side, you see the same thing. In the junior program the US you have these kids that are crazy and they run down and they do this vault and they score really high. And, it’s like, if I were judging that, you know, I would absolutely… I would find every single deduction, and there are so many. And they didn’t take them. They just didn’t take them. That’s all there is to it. And so, that’s an example of them just not applying the Code. You know…




TIM: I mean if they judged that vault the way they judged angles on men’s high bar, then it would’ve lost at least 3 points, if not 4 points. Because there were errors everywhere. Every single place that there’s a deduction on vaulting, and if you go through them all, there’s a lot, you know, she had it. And they didn’t take them.


BLYTHE: Do you ever feel tempted to do some back seat coaching? You know, have you ever wanted to approach a gymnast’s coach and be like, “here she needs to point their toes or straighten their legs on this element” or things like that?


TIM: [LAUGHS] Yeah. It’s hard not to. You know, a lot of these guys on the US side, you know, like I said, I grew up with, you know. And, so, like Arthur Akopyan, you know, I competed with him many many times. He’s a friend of mine. And Valeri Liukin, he… when I did my leg in Rotterdam, he and Vladimir Novikov came to visit me in the hospital. So, I’m standing there and I just want to say something. But, you know, I have a role in that situation, and I have to keep that hat on. Because I can never be a cheerleader for the USA. I can cheer like crazy when a USA athlete does a great thing, but if somebody from Romania or China did the same thing, I would cheer exactly the same.


UNCLE TIM: Elite program- I was just kind of wondering if you could talk a little bit about the JO program and the direction that it’s taking including adopting the elite scoring system. What are your thoughts on the JO program?


TIM: Well, you know, I think the JO program does a lot of things right. There’s no question about it. You know, I am a firm believer though that we, the United States, can be as competitive if we were a little kinder and gentler [LAUGHS]. I know that’s not the question you were asking, but I just think that it doesn’t help that much. And I know that you have to be intense, and I know that you have to be passionate, but sometimes I think that we can be… a little too angry. And I think that’s the area where the USA can improve the most. And I think it’ll pay dividends in every aspect of gymnastics. From the amount of kids that want to do the sport, to the amount of kids that stay in the sport, to the amount of kids that stayed in the sport and are ambassadors for the rest of their lives for gymnastics.


JESSICA: Amen to that, sir! I am going to put that on a t-shirt!




JESSICA: I am not even kidding!


TIM: [LAUGHS] That was great.


JESSICA: Seriously, I think you just echoed the sentiments of almost every gymnastics fan or kid who has done gymnastics in their entire lives.


TIM: Well it can be done.




TIM: It can be done. You have to be tough. There’s no question, you have to be tough. But you also have to have compassion, not just superficially, but in your soul. So…




TIM: Enough said.


JESSICA: Yes, thank you for that.


UNCLE TIM: So if you had to summarize your coaching philosophy, what would you say it is?


TIM: Well, hopefully… I don’t have a coaching philosophy. I don’t. I have a teaching philosophy.




TIM: I want to make sure that anybody that was with me hopefully has had a great experience, and has learned in areas that will benefit them as individuals for the rest of their lives. And that’s the most important thing for me. And my paint and canvas is the sport of gymnastics. So that’s the forum that I have this opportunity to hopefully teach. And, you know, I’m not a wimp. You know, I’m tough. And, you know, I’m not brutal, but I know when somebody is capable of more. And you know, when they’re not giving everything they’ve got, I am on them to bring that out in them. But the thing that I do is, you know… for example, if I’m coaching a boy, and I know that, for whatever reason, he’s a little distracted today, you know maybe had a rough day at school, maybe his girlfriend broke up with him… he’s going to deal with situations like this for the rest of his life. And he has told me that he wants to be the best that he can be. And so, I never just pound on him. I say, “you know what, Paul, you can really be a champion. You know that. I know that. You have it in you. You have all of these wonderful qualities, but today you are just not getting it done. You’re just so distracted. You’ve got to get your mind in the game. You can do this, and you need to do it now.” You know, I mean that’s very different than, “what is the matter with you? I’m disgusted in you.” You know, that’s different. So my overall philosophy is to be a mentor and to be a teacher, and to use the sport of gymnastics as… I don’t know… as my instrument.


UNCLE TIM: Well if I ever come out of retirement I’ll definitely go to your gym.




UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] So something that Blythe asked you about earlier was about coaching in terms of execution, and talking to coaches… Are there ever moments where you want to go up to the other coaches and say, “why are you treating your gymnast this way?” Or, are there ever moments you kind of want to step in and run interference?


TIM: Well, yeah, there are. And I have. You know, but that occurs when I’m a coach on the floor, not a broadcaster on the floor. And, you know what, I’m not perfect. I’m the first one to admit it, you know freely. And I’ve had people that have come up to me and, you know, given me advice… whether it’s technical advice or whatever. Because, you know, there are some people out there that need an attitude adjustment, but there are also some amazing coaches in our program that are tremendous mentors. And, you know, they notice something and they’ll come up to me and, you know, I’m as receptive as you can possibly be. But yes, on the other hand, as well, you know… I mean I just think that sometimes, you know, it’s like… for example, at a junior boy’s competition I’ve seen coaches have an athlete do something they’re not ready to do in a safe way. Say a Thomas on floor for example.


JESSICA: Oh god.


TIM: You know and I’ve gone right up and I’ve said… I said, “Hey you did a double back in your career right?” And they go, “yeah, sure.” And I go, “hey did you ever land short on a double back? Did you ever, like, put your hands down?” And they go, “yeah, of course, everybody does.” And I go, “you’re right. And your kid right there can’t even do a double back. And he’s doing a Thomas. What happens when he lands short?” You know, because it’s… we have a responsibility, obviously to the kids first and foremost.


BLYTHE: And that’s a good lead in to a question we had about the new Code that’s coming out. So, you know, if Bruno Grandi were to call you up tomorrow and as you for your input – what do you want to see in the new Code, what do you not want to see – what would you tell him?


TIM: Well, you know what, one of the biggest problems is… I really don’t think that you can absolutely know how to win the sport of gymnastics from the rules. That’s a big problem. And, you know, there are certain events that just, you know… men’s high bar, for example, I think it’s the worst. And men’s pommel horse. You never know how anything is going to be evaluated until you’re actually at the Games with the panel that’s on the floor. And that’s a huge mistake. I mean there are all these, you know, intricate pirouetting skills that… some of them are Ds, are Es, you connect on them. And in the US, a couple of years ago… I’ll give you an example. One of the kids that I coach, John Deaton, who is now at Stanford, we spent a year learning a Rybalko on high bar. And it’s tricky, it’s hard to learn, you know, for some kids especially. So we did that, we also did an endo full, it was another D skill. And he went to the JO Nationals and he did a beautiful routine, and he had three of these pirouetting skills. And he did double double laid out, beautiful release, stuck it, all this stuff, and he was, like, 37th in the country. And I was flabbergasted and I was furious. And it’s like… the panel was instructed at that time – which is fine – to be extremely critical on these pirouetting skills. And so he basically lost five tenths on all of them. And if you look at, you know, someone like Zou Kai, if you apply the rules to his pirouetting elements, it’s five tenths off on every one. That’s all there is to it. But, that’s not how it gets judged. And so, that’s very very frustrating. And it’s a dumb rule anyway. I’ll give you an example. Epke does that same stalder Rybalko, and it is crisp and it’s dynamic and he slaps his hand on the bar, and it just… Wow. But if you freeze frame where he is grabbing the bar, it’s low. But, who cares [LAUGHS]. It’s an unbelievable element, and it doesn’t need to go to a handstand. It doesn’t need to. You know, if the men tried to do that, you know first of all the surface area of a an uneven bar and a high bar are so different, and the men actually have to be in a complete dorsal grip, whereas the women really don’t. And if they were to do that, they would be able to do the sport of gymnastics at that level for another six months because every single gymnast in the world would develop a shoulder injury. It’s just… it’s non-sustainable. And so it’s a dumb rule. And so, they really need to get rid of a lot of the dumb rules.


UNCLE TIM: So what would you say are some of the other dumb rules that we have? Just out of curiosity.


TIM: Well it’s pretty dumb that we, you know, saw people doing triple backs on floor that were capable of doing them, you know in 19… what, 1980? That’s pretty dumb. [LAUGHS] And they’re not doing them now? It’s really dumb when someone tries to do one and they can’t do it, but obviously there are many people who can do that element. And that would be very exciting to the sport. I think that the one and three tenth deduction for a step is really… all it does is it enables people to cheat, really is what it comes down to. The way it’s applied, you never know. I mean you can see somebody take the smallest of steps and, you know, if you look at their score, you try to figure out it looks like they took three tenths off and someone takes one that’s just as big and only gets a tenth off. That’s not a very good rule personally. Let’s see, what else is not good… well on men’s high bar, for example, or men’s parallel bars, that there’s not a connection… I mean if you’re going to have a connection, you should either have connection on every event, or you shouldn’t have connection. I mean it’s crazy that you can get connection on high bar, and you can’t get it on parallel bars. I mean that’s just silly. Pommel horse, you know… it’s a very challenging event. You know to put into this box… you know to try to make it logical… but because they’ve done that, you know, there are so many things that you’re not even allowed to do anymore. And it’s just, you know, it’s silly. You know, like there’s a skill that… I don’t even think it’s in the Code anymore, it’s called a Nikolai, and do you guys know what a Nikolai is on pommel horse?




TIM: It’s three back Moores in a row. Back Moore down. Back Moore up. Back Moore down. Or vice versa. Up down up. And it’s beautiful. It’s gorgeous, and you can’t do that anymore because it’s three elements in a row. But it’s not, because the nature of pommel horse is that each of those are a little bit different when you’re doing them additively. Who can forget either the Mogilny or the Artemev on parallel bars. You know, one of the most popular things was, right before a double pike, to do two back tosses in a row to double pike. Absolutely artistry in motion. And you can’t do that. And, why? Why would you say that you can’t straddle in any way unless it’s already in the Code of Points? That just is beyond understanding to me. I mean I didn’t love it, but the Chinese came to… I think it was the 1985 World Championships, and everybody was doing this, you know, half-in half-out in a side somi type way. And it was cool. It was absolutely cool. And, you know, they don’t allow it. It doesn’t make sense. I did a skill on still rings that you can’t do. In the Olympics I did… right from the bottom I would go into a deep pancake and straddle kip right into a V. And aesthetically I thought it was really cool. And I thought it looked good, and people really liked it back then, but you can’t do it. That doesn’t make sense. You know, why? Why in a sport, that, you know, you’re supposed to do something artistic – where artistic is part of the word – would you limit it? That doesn’t make any sense. Can you imagine in the world of modern dance, them coming up with a rule saying that you’re not allowed to straddle your legs in a certain way? Or tip your head back in a certain way? It’s absurd. There are a lot of them like that too. A lot of rules like that.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. And so how do you think that… it sounds like you kind of miss the era of artistic gymnastics in some ways. How do you think that we can go back to… or, in the future, incorporate more artistry into gymnastics?


TIM: Well, that’s a really really hard question. Because, in theory, I believe that the 10.0 system was risk, originality, and virtuosity. I think that that is, in a perfect world, where no cheating was involved [LAUGHS], that that’s the best way that gymnastics should go. Because it’s encouraging all the things that take people’s breath away. Doing, you know, the triple back on floor. And doing something, you know, completely different. And doing something better than anybody’s ever done it before. But, you know, the problem is it’s very easy to cheat when you do that. Judges from different countries can form blocks, and, you know, this could be original in one meet and not at this meet, and something that’s been done a bunch of times. So it is… it’s a very very big problem, but I do know that the artistic component needs to be… it needs to be constantly monitored. And, you know, it’s funny because, I mean Zou Kai, I think by the rules on floor he did deserve to win. You know I think it’s the best routine he’s ever done on floor. But I just don’t understand how there’s not a way, in the rules that, just the way he stands and turns around isn’t evaluated critically. I mean every gymnastics fan in the world knows that yes, it’s amazingly difficult and finishing with a stuck double double on floor is really hard. But he could definitely be more artistic on that event. I was so happy that they got that right on high bar. They didn’t get it right enough, because he shouldn’t have even won a medal there. But yeah, I mean it’s got to be artistic or, in my opinion, it’s pretty boring. It’s just not… I mean you all see it. You see something that takes your breath away, and it’s like, that’s why we love gymnastics. Not because it’s just hard. If it’s a little unusual and it’s really hard, and it just makes you go “oh wow.” That’s gymnastics, and I wish they could get that right.


UNCLE TIM: Ok, great. So we have time for maybe one quick fun question, and then we have a favor to ask of you. So, ok we were wondering what’s your most embarrassing gymnastics moment?




UNCLE TIM: Can you think of any?


TIM: Wow. Umm…


UNCLE TIM: For instance, I’ve run into balance beams after doing tumbling passes… I can’t think of all the embarrassing moments in my life, but I’m sure you can think of some.


TIM: Let me think here for a second. This might sound funny but it’s like… we went out on tour, we did a whole bunch of spots, and… this really isn’t that embarrassing. But, at the time I was young, and so I was incredibly embarrassed. And we toured, and we had some of the rhythmic gymnasts with us. And so you know for the first 10 or 12 stops or whatever the guys were all messing around with the rhythmic stuff. And I was like, “I’m never… I’m just not going to do that.” Because I was afraid. And in Philadelphia, for a show, I of course go over and pick up the hoop and I’m using it like a hula hoop, and it’s like half the front page of the sports edition the next day.




TIM DAGGETT: That was pretty embarrassing. And you know, I was like “I’m the only one that’s not doing it.” And of course I’m the one that… that’s karma for you.


UNCLE TIM: I’ll have to look that up in the newspaper, you said Philadelphia? [LAUGHS]




UNCLE TIM: Great, thank you so much for your time, Tim, and we appreciate all your thoughts on gymnastics. And, yeah, we really appreciate it, so thank you.


TIM: My pleasure, you guys are great.


BLYTHE, JESSICA: Thank you so much, Tim.




ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: Visit, 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, we have Charlotte Drury, a member of the reigning synchro national championships pair. She’s headed to the tumbling and trampoline World Championships in Bulgaria next week. We’ll talk to her directly from the Ranch and get the scoop on the pre Worlds training, why she switched from artistic to trampoline, and what it was like to be a part of the elite three. The original training group in southern California. It was Kyla Ross, McKayla Maroney, and Charlotte Drury all started together and then became championship elite gymnasts. And we’ll find out what it was like to train all together. And until then, thank you all so much for listening. And tell us what you thought of this Tim Daggett interview. And if you’re a long time listener, tell us if you found anything new in this one. And next week we’ll also go over all our feedback from the abuse prevention show. And we’ll have a preview of trampoline and we’ll also go over all the news from the last two weeks. Oh my gosh there’s so much to talk about. So I’ll talk to you guys next week. Until then, I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner


UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym


JESSICA: Thanks for listening, see you next week!


CHILD: Daggett is brought to you by timbl- wait what? [LAUGHS]. But I do like tumble mat truck- wait. And you are also- oops [LAUGHS]. They’re also very colorful.


JESSICA: Want to try one more time?






CHILD: [LAUGHS]. Brought to you by tumble truck. Track.




JESSICA: Tumble Truck. They’re coming out with that next.


CHILD: No they’re not


JESSICA: You just invented a new thing they’re going to have.


CHILD: At my old- [LAUGHS] At my old school. You’re fired!



[expand title=”Episode 58: Charlotte Drury, Fall Euro Series & NCAA De-commits”]
CHARLOTTE: The passion in my heart just kind of faded a little bit. I decided that this just wasn’t for me anymore. I wasn’t willing to push myself through this anymore. So then, I had heard of trampoline and I was like, well I love trampoline. I’ve always loved bouncing and jumping off the walls and stuff like that. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It was not an easy decision to make the switch. It was hard. I mean I thought my life was over for a little bit. But I found myself again in trampoline. That’s what I want to share with everyone else. There is life after gymnastics. There is always going to be something for you even if it doesn’t seem like it.
JESSICA: This week, the missing link, the secret member of the elite three. Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney’s lifelong friend, training partner, and fellow national champion Charlotte Drury on her way to the trampoline world championships.
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 We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: This is episode 58 for November 6, 2013. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from The Gymnastics Examiner
UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the cosmos bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. There were a lot of exciting meets. We have so much to talk about. Let’s talk about the Arthur Gander Memorial first. You know, what’s so interesting to me about this, and I’m interested to hear your thoughts. Why are all these meets right after worlds? Like aren’t you exhausted and don’t want to compete in these? Oh but you’re going to have the answer about this so tell me.
UNCLE TIM: Well you can earn a significant amount of money for doing these meets. So for just showing up, let’s say if you won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics or at the 2013 Worlds, you automatically got $3000. It didn’t matter if you won or lost at this meet, you automatically got $3000 for showing up. If you won silver in London or silver in Antwerp, you got $2000. If you won a bronze medal in London or Antwerp, you automatically got $1000 and everyone else, regardless of their standings got $500. On top of that, you get money for your final rankings. So if you finish first in the competition in the all around, you receive $2500 US dollars. If you finish second, you receive $1500. If you finish third, you receive $1000. If you finish fourth, you receive $700 and it goes down from there. And then on top of that, you receive $500 for each apparatus you win. So for someone like Larisa Iordache, she got $1000 for showing up, $2500 for finishing first in the all around, $500 for winning vault, and $500 for winning floor. So she ended up with $4500 US dollars, which is a decent amount. Not as much as she won at the Swiss Cup but it’s still a significant amount of money.
JESSICA: Especially, I imagine in Romania, that would go you know, a little farther than it would here.
JESSICA: Interesting, that’s exciting that there’s money. That’s exciting that there’s enough prize money to attract people. I mean, I would have totally gone to this meet. This meet looks so fun. It’s the kind of gymnastics that’s going to be really pretty and interesting to watch, not necessarily the most difficult in the world, with some exceptions obviously. There’s some great competitors there. But I would have loved to have watched this. I mean, it looked super fun.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah and the other good thing is, let’s say you’re not the world’s strongest all arounder, you don’t have to compete on every event. So the women competed on three events and the men competed on four events. So there’s a little wiggle room for them.
JESSICA: So who are some of the standout competitors at this?
UNCLE TIM: Well coming in first on the women’s side was Larisa Iordache who competed on vault, beam, and floor. Second was Giulia Steingruber who competed on vault, bars, and floor. And then in third for the women was Elisabeth Seitz who competed on vault, bars, and floor. On the men’s side, the names might not be quite as familiar. Coming in first was Pablo Braegger who finished 16th at Worlds in the all around. Second was Andrei Muntean of Romania and in third place was Oleg Verniaev of Ukraine. Those were some very good gymnasts. Oleg, once again was on the struggle bus especially on pommel horse. But yeah, what can you do?
JESSICA: I don’t know. But he made up for it because at the Swiss Cup, let’s discuss the Swiss Cup, wasn’t it the Swiss Cup? Yes oh my God. He did the most amazing awesome thing ever, which is like pretty much hands down my favorite move ever and named after one of my favorite Japanese gymnasts of all time, even though the Brazilian commentators got it wrong and said that it was named after Tsukahara. Hello, giant fail. Kato was the most adorable, awesome, and cheery gymnast you’ve ever seen in your entire life. I was extremely offended. Anywho, tell us about what he did on the p-bars, the event that is always the make it or break it.
UNCLE TIM: For him, well one of them, yes. I think you’ve already kind of revealed it.
JESSICA: I did, well not everyone’s going to know. Not everyone’s going to know.
UNCLE TIM: He did a full twisting double back of parallel bars, which is the hardest dismount being done right now. Very few men do it. Marcel Nguyen of Germany does it and then a relatively unknown gymnast from the United States also does it, Akash Modi of the United States. Akash’s is probably the best in the world, even better than Oleg. It pains me to say that.
JESSICA: Oleg’s was good.
UNCLE TIM: It was good.
JESSICA: I think it was better than Kato’s. Kato’s kind of looked like he might die but it was so exciting that you don’t care. It was really pretty. He just did it so cleanly, which you always expect it to be like half the time you’ll probably completely wipe out, just one of those landings where your hands are still on your thighs when your face meets the mat. You know those landings?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah I got rug burn from one of those once.
JESSICA: Hmm hmm yep. It was so adorable when he landed too because he totally did like a Hambuchen meets Mikulak you know threw his hands up in the air like yeah. And it made it even better of course because it was like a movie because the Swiss Cup is the meet where they turn the lights down and they put a spotlight on each routine and everyone goes one by one. And then they have the music playing in the background and it’s the mixed pairs competition. You sit in the kiss and cry area like ice skating to get your score. The judges sit in the dark the whole time. Did you see how dark it was for the judges? They don’t even give them little lights like a conductor for an orchestra. I was like um so are you trying to say that like eh it’s for show. We don’t care. But I have to say I do love the Brazilians for putting every single meet online. Bless Brazil for buying the license for all these and putting them up on YouTube. Thank you Brazil.
UNCLE TIM: The little pirates in Brazil who are putting them on to their computer and upload them to YouTube, thank you for doing that.
JESSICA: Yes, thank you from all of us, from the bottom of our hearts. So what about, Iordache also did a kick ass routine. Hello, Romania in grips. Clearly this has been the problem all these years.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah so her uneven bars routine was the highlight of the meet and I never thought I would say that about Larisa Iordache. But honestly, it was probably one of the best routines. Everyone was making a lot of mistakes all over the place. But she hit her bar routine. She did a full pirouette out of her Stalder to an immediate van Leeuwen which is quite the impressive combination. I mean, okay yes this was not Aliya Mustafina on uneven bars. But for Larisa, this was AMAZING. Wouldn’t you have to agree?
JESSICA: Yeah it was beautiful and I really enjoyed watching her routine. She stuck the crap out of her dismount too. It was great. I just love to see a country flourishing and especially someone that has so much promise, just flourishing on this event that hasn’t historically been a strong point since Nadia. So yeah it’s great. I’m really stoked for her. So what is the draw for this meet? Tell us about the money. Piles of gold they give you in the kiss and cry area?
UNCLE TIM: Pretty much. You just go swimming in the nicest champagne you’ve ever bought. So last year, I don’t know the totals for this year were. But last year, there was a total of $100,000 US dollars on the line. And Fabian Hambuchen and Elisabeth Seitz took home the Swiss Cup last year and they won $30,000 US dollars total in prize money. So I’m guessing that Larisa Iordache’s doing pretty well this month. She and Andrei Muntean won the Swiss Cup so they probably have a few US dollars coming their way.
JESSICA: That’s awesome. I love hearing about that. And I love that the Swiss are like the Gringotts of gymnastics and so they just have their piles of gold and those bags and that they can afford to put on meets like this that have great prize money. And hello, every meet should have a kiss and cry area. I did it again. I cannot say anything. My mouth is still on vacation. Kiss and cry area. Because you see they have the kiss and cry area and they sit there and it’s all sponsored by the co-op whatever it was. Someone pays a lot of money for that. So we should have that at every meet. I mean, what would be wrong with that? You have to sit there for twenty seconds, big deal. Like then you can win more prize money. I think it’s awesome. Good job Swiss Cup. I think this meet looks super fun too. I love the idea of the theatrics of it all and the drama. I feel like this is what gymnastics should be more like. And that brings us to the most exciting thing that happened in all of these European tournaments of the winter or the fall. Fall right? The Tournoi Schiltigheim. Two different teams and Paul Ruggeri finally finally, we’ve been waiting for this for so long. Tell us what he did.
UNCLE TIM: He did his uneven bars routine for the first time in competition. I believe he was up against Elisabeth Seitz, so not a very even match. But yeah he did his uneven bars routine which featured a Gienger. And then he did one of those Kerri Strug dumpy little shoot overs. He upgraded his…
JESSICA: That’s an old school bail thank you very much. Old school, not dumpy.
UNCLE TIM: You just kind of dump it over the bar.
JESSICA: You just shoot over. It’s harder that way.
UNCLE TIM: It’s not harder. I could do that.
JESSICA: I know but you’re flying away from the bar. So you have to catch it. You have to have very strong hands so you don’t keep flying away from the bar. I mean it’s scarier to land in the handstand and it’s harder. But I’m just saying, it’s not dumpy. I mean it’s old school. It has flair. It’s classic.
UNCLE TIM: Ok whatever you say. And he also did his full twisting double tuck dismount which was awesome. So he did have a D dismount. Unfortunately though, I don’t know how this happened. His team, with Oksana Chusovitina, Paul Ruggeri, Anna Pavlova, Vanessa Ferrari, and Svetlana Boginskaya as their coach, they lost.
JESSICA: Clearly, these judges were also judging in the dark and it was all a set up. Because how is that even possible? I mean the other team did have Porn Stache.
UNCLE TIM: The other team did have Millousi and Giulia Steingruber and Fabian Gonzalez of Spain who’s also terrific.
JESSICA: I mean they’re okay I guess.
UNCLE TIM: I think Millousi listens to our show because she took out her little interesting floor sequence shall we call it where she gives a little (inaudible) you know, you and Jenni were talking about it two weeks ago. Yeah she took that out. It was no longer in the routine.
JESSICA: I wonder if she got a scandal deduction.
UNCLE TIM: I don’t know.
JESSICA: An artistry deduction for it. She might’ve been the first one all year where the judges were like no it’s too much. It made Pinches feel uncomfortable. That’s where we draw the line. It’s the Pinches rule.
UNCLE TIM: Nellie Kim in 1978 did a similar move. Just going to throw that out there.
JESSICA: Hmmm interesting. Well, we’re going to have to talk to her all about this. You know what she really needs to take out though, when she does in her beam routine, she does this lovely arch back over the beam and she lays back with one knee bent and one knee straight. It’s a beautiful move but she holds on to the beam. What? That doesn’t count. You can’t hold on to the side of the beam. It’s like hooking your feet on the beam like a little kid if you’re on a see-saw and then hanging over the side. No, you don’t do that. You can hold on to your foot. You can hold on to another body part. You can hold on to nothing. But you don’t hold on to the beam. No. This is against the rules. Everybody knows that. That should be a deduction. In the O’Beirne code of points, it’s a deduction.
UNCLE TIM: I can’t wait to see the full O’Beirne code of points.
JESSICA: Oh my God, it’s going to be fabulous. I mean when you open it, a unicorn bounces out and runs around the room. Glitter flies out. It’s like a 3D experience.
UNCLE TIM: It sounds very gay as well actually.
JESSICA: Well it smells like Louis Smith and it performs like Pavlova.
JESSICA: What more could you ask for?
UNCLE TIM: If Philipp Boy asks you to marry him or something
JESSICA: Yes! Yes! That is what happens. And you ovulate at the very end. The best egg ever
JESSICA: You don’t need anything else.
UNCLE TIM: Alright let’s move on.
JESSICA: Anyway, so clearly Boginskaya’s team should have won. That’s all we’re saying. I mean we’re not biased. Let’s discuss the US news. Now this is the business right here. So as you know, Al Fong has a blog and he, he’s a little bit, he does a lot of stuff about training but he’ll also post about his gymnasts. And you know that during Worlds, he posted that he wasn’t happy with Brenna Dowell being made the alternate instead of being allowed to compete on her two events and splitting it with Maloney.
UNCLE TIM: Maroney
JESSICA: Maroney. Oh my God you guys, brain still on vacation. Sorry it was awesome you guys. Seriously. I had the best time. Let me tell you guys, ten year old, six days, Disney World. I could sleep for like a week honestly. I pretty much did sleep the entire weekend. But I had a great time. Totally worth it. Now back to Al Fong. He said that Brenna took a little bit longer to get used to the equipment, especially vault because there was a wall right behind the landing mat and that kind of freaked her out. He also thought that wasn’t very safe. It just took her a little bit longer. But she was asked to do all around which he thought was ridiculous because there was no way she was going to compete all around and that wasn’t what they had prepared for so he was already upset about that going into it. Like why is she being asked to do four events two-a-day workouts when she’s only going to compete two and that’s what they’d been expecting. And then McKayla gets the spot and does all around instead of them splitting it and letting McKayla do two events and letting Brenna Dowell do two events. So he just wrote in his latest blog post basically USAG you can suck it and you don’t get her now because you had your chance and you lost it.
UNCLE TIM: Well I think that the most poignant phrase in the entire blog post is “Sorry USAG. You had your chance to let Brenna represent you proudly. Now it’s time for a much needed break.” So I think that kind of summarizes his attitude towards it. I think that it’ll also be interesting to see what happens in the future, if the powers that be will just say you know what, okay. You’re human. You’re reacting. You’re frustrated. And that’s what you need to do to get through this situation, or if they will kind of punish Brenna and Al Fong in the future. I’m not sure. I’m not sure what will happen and it will be interesting to see what plays out in the next year or so.
JESSICA: She was offered two World Cup assignments to Mexico in November and another one in December which I’m assuming is the one that Elizabeth Price totally dominated and kicked everyone’s ass last year. You know, he’s basically like we turned them down. So it’ll be interesting to see if, I mean I don’t know. There’s nothing in there about whether this is Brenna’s decision and she was like I’m too tired. I can’t do it. Or she was like I’m too burnt out right now. I feel like I was totally up for this. I was so excited and now I feel. You know or if this was his decision. I don’t know. In other news, Jordyn Wieber’s mom Rita Wieber, author of Gym Mom, has put up a new blog post and she basically talks about why Jordyn chose to go pro and her being at UCLA. She lets us know she’s enjoying it and she plans to wait until 2014 to go back to serious training. So we were wondering does that mean in 2014 we’ll see her again in competition or in 2014 she will make herself eligible to go back to camp. What do you think?
UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. It’s hard to say because I haven’t really seen her train so I don’t know at what level she is. Based on the Beyond the Routine videos from Gymnastike, it looks like she could be on her way to going back to camp in 2014.But it’s also hard because you’re a former world champion. And Martha’s attitude is usually you’re an Olympic champion and you don’t want to go out there and make a fool of yourself. You usually want to go back out there when you’re at the top of your game again and so we’ll have to see what happens with her. I think she could be back by June of 2014 for nationals and the other big competitions. What about you Jess?
JESSICA: I mean I’ve just seen her train and in person recently and oh my God, she’s so freaking buff in person. If you saw her walk into a room of other gymnasts, and you’re like who’s the Olympic and world champion in the room, everyone would point to her. She looks like she could just walk through a crowd and just crush people’s skulls with her hands. She’s so insanely strong. It’s just ridiculous. Her work ethic is insane. She just gets up and does you know ten of one of her skills, ten in a row, doesn’t get off the beam. No basics and she’s like ten in a row of this. Never gets off the beam. Never takes a break. She just does the entire assignment. If anyone can get an entire workout done in, I don’t know how much time she has to do her workouts in the morning or whatever, two hours or something she has. Because she can’t work out once the team gets there. I mean she’s a work horse. You can see why she got to this level. I have no doubt that she can totally come back and be at the level that she was before. She’s just, she’s a beast. Like I can see why her brother is probably jealous of her body. He’s probably like someday I hope to be as buff as my sister. Yeah, she’s like super badass. You can tell from a mile away why she has achieved what she has. I’m very impressed with her. And you know how I like it when people look so buff that they can crush people’s skulls. That is the measure of strength in my mind.
UNCLE TIM: She can come back as a gymnast. She can come back as a wrestler.
JESSICA: Right, which is also my dream. Someday this will happen. I’m telling you, one of these days. It’s going to happen. So what else is in the US news?
UNCLE TIM: Well a few weeks ago, Simone Biles had surgery on her ankle to remove a bone spur. That was quite a while ago. And then also, we found out last week that Nastia is going to join the NBC Olympic broadcast team for the Winter Olympics this year. What do you think about that Jess?
JESSICA: I’m stoked. I’m super happy for her. I really think this is a genius move on her part because the more she can establish herself as a good commentator, especially since she speaks Russian hello. I mean she was born there. She knows the culture, it will mean more for her career. And so I think it’s a great, great, great move on her part to establish herself now and also for us for the Olympics. I mean we’re going to have someone who’s young, who knows the current athletes, who has relationships with them to, and I didn’t mean that, I mean friendships. So I think it’s awesome. I can’t wait to see her. I really like her. I always judge how people like commentators by the gym moms who I’m friends with say about the commentators. And Nastia is the first one universally where people have said I really like her. Please let her stay as a commentator. She’s exactly who I want my daughter to hear on TV. This is the voice that I want her to hear. She’s educational without being mean and critical. She’s positive. I just think she’s a great ambassador for the sport. Oh and then ranch party hello. I guess this is what happens when the gymnasts are away. What happened at the Karolyi ranch?
UNCLE TIM: When the gymnasts are away, the Karolyis will play. So the Karolyis, Martha and Bela, celebrated their 50th anniversary party at the ranch. They had a bunch of their former gymnasts there. I’m trying to remember who was there. Kim Zmeskal, Rhonda Faehn, Kristie Phillips, Mary Lou Retton was there. I think Chelle Stack was there. So just a bunch of their former gymnasts there and everyone was smiling and looked happy. So it was good to see that all these gymnasts are willing to go back and support their coaches.
JESSICA: There was also a lot of orange. I’m just saying. There seems to be a little bit of fake tanning with the winter going on. Let’s talk about Russian news and former Soviet Union news. The first of which is that they had that Gala de Estrellas in Mexico and our favorite, our favorite, what is she our favorite of, Afanasyeva. She’s our favorite legacy of the bitch face gymnast. She carries it on. It’s a great tradition. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this.
UNCLE TIM: I don’t either. I was not expecting that.
JESSICA: It’s a compliment, not a diss. In the great tradition of Produnova, of Khorkina, of Boginskaya, she will let you know with her look that she is about to beat you handedly and you will enjoy it. So she went to the Mexican Gala. It’s kind of like an exhibition. It’s not a meet per se. People do like fun routines. They’re a little bit more watered down. They do dancy stuff. But the weird thing was you know, she did her floor routine with pants on. I mean like shorts. Like workout shorts with something written on the back in glittery. It just looks like she was warming up. What is your take on the outfit here?
UNCLE TIM: Well I wasn’t that surprised because I think Sandra Izbasa also did her routine in shorts. So yeah that wasn’t really that big of a surprise. And I’m trying to remember back to the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. I feel like some people were also in shorts when they were doing the cross tumbling. They weren’t just all wearing leotards. So it didn’t really surprise me that much.
JESSICA: No but they weren’t wearing long sleeve competition leotards with shorts over them. They were wearing tank tops with shorts.
UNCLE TIM: Oh ok. I see your problem. Alright.
JESSICA: Yeah it was the competition leo. And so all I could think was like there’s some kind of waxing problem that happened before. Well I mean seriously. If you don’t know the person that’s going to do it, you end up with like a giant rash or something. I don’t mean like a rash but bumps or whatever. Did she have sponsored shorts? Did she get like $100,000 to wear those glittery shorts because I would totally wear shorts with a competition leotard if I got $100,000. So it’s very curious about the shorts. We’ll have to get your thoughts listeners. Please tell us what you think. I mean I always wear shorts when I compete so I think hats off to her.
UNCLE TIM: Uh who else was there? Oh Doctor, Dr. Andreea Raducan.
JESSICA: Yes I had no idea!
UNCLE TIM: Yeah she was there and she performed. She didn’t do any tumbling besides a cartwheel and some donkey kicks but it was glorious because it was Dr. Raducan performing.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Donkey kicks oh my God. Oh and speaking of fabulousness no matter what he does, sexy Alexei Nemov, jumped up on the high bar at Dynamo. He’s a dynamo. It was at Dynamo in Moscow and there was some kind of exhibition going on and he hopped up and did giants. He still looks good. He’s a little plumper but I don’t care. He’s hot. Nemov forever. That’s all I have to say about that.
UNCLE TIM: So you think he’s still sexy?
UNCLE TIM: Good. I asked Shannon Miller that question on Twitter last summer and she never responded to me so
JESSICA: Shannon, these are important questions. We need to know the answers to them. Okay and then we have, ok well so Chusovitina showed up in Japan. So what happened here?
UNCLE TIM: So she competed at the Japanese Team Nationals. And from what I understand, she is a member and coach of the Osaki life team. She was offered this position kind of since April. And so I don’t know exactly what she’s doing but yeah she was some kind of guest and competed for Japan. So she just keeps bouncing all over the place, competing here there and everywhere.
JESSICA: Isn’t Asahi a beer in Tokyo? I swear to God this happened when we were in Tokyo. My friend was like oh yeah everyone talks about that. That’s the sperm building. It’s like a giant golden sperm. Look it up you guys.I’ll try to find a picture of it, on top of a building and they tried to make it look like the foam on top of a beer I guess. But the way it turned out, yeah everyone calls it the sperm building. My friend just thought that was the funniest thing ever, which of course then I did too after he pointed that out. So Asahi beer. Yay for all these awesome sponsors. And then there’s the interview with Boginskaya. Boginskaya’s all over the news right now. She went back home after like fifteen years. She hadn’t been back. She posted all these pictures. You guys have to go look on Instagram. So exciting. And then tell us about the interview.
UNCLE TIM: Well I think we kind of already know this about Boginskaya. She talked about her training and how she worked her guts off like hell in the gym. They would say do a thousand v-ups and she would do 1200, speaking kind of hyperbolically, I would die and do it. And then after that she said “I was a bitch in gymnastics. It must not have been easy for others around me. Now I can only ask for forgiveness for everyone who came in contact with a gymnast named Boginskaya for her antics. But who knows? Maybe the only way to reach the top is to burn yourself in the fire of self-improvement.” I mean she didn’t say it in those words during her interview but the fact that she used to bite other children so that they would go home and she could be the best at her gym, I mean yeah, it doesn’t really surprise me what she said.
JESSICA: Yeah I just love that she said that about burning herself in the fire of self-improvement. It just reminded me. When we see a gymnast become iconic, they are usually teenagers or in their early twenties and that is a period of time where people totally change. You know, you’re not the same person you were generally when you are a teenager. I just thought about like God if I was the same person I was when I was a teenager, I would be saying the same thing.
UNCLE TIM: I was a terrible human being.
JESSICA: Oh I was just a nightmare. Nothing was my fault. Nothing. It was everyone else’s fault. Nothing had to do with my own choices.
UNCLE TIM: But also, what I like about the interview is that it shows her ability to be very loquacious and to be almost poetic with her words which you don’t get to see too often from gymnasts. That, I found very interesting. I didn’t really see that aspect in her before.
JESSICA: I think that’s also something that is great about what Rewriting Russian Gymnastics does. They have a really incredible top, top, top, top level translator on that site so we actually get, instead of these weird translations like we get from Bruno Grandi, we get something that can actually translate the beauty and eloquence of a language into the true meaning in English.
UNCLE TIM: Alright, Jess. Your favorite season is coming up! NCAA season is coming up! And that’s really exciting but we also have some bad news to report. What’s going on with one Miss Peng Peng Lee?
JESSICA: Oh my God, this is so upsetting. I had to take a nap after I found this out, that’s how upsetting this was. I’m not even kidding you. I just laid down for like three hours. Why? I will tell you why. Alright here’s what happened. So Peng Peng, she tore her ACL. She had reconstruction. She used an allograph which means you get graph from a cadaver body. So they’ll take out a ligament from someone who’s recently died and donated their organs and you put it in your knee and you hope that your body accepts it and your body falls in love with it. It regenerates and vascularizes and becomes really strong and works just like your ligament should. She had the surgery but can sometimes happen in this surgery and what happened with her is that her body basically rejected the graph. So it did not accept it and her body ate it. I have another friend who had the same thing and she just had surgery like a week ago. They did her MRI and they were like yeah there’s nothing there anymore. Literally it’s gone. So with Peng Peng, I think that’s kind of the same thing that happened. Basically she started to have some problems in practice and she started to injure herself on really easy things like a leap on floor or easy simple skills. It just shouldn’t have been like that. Basically what happened is her surgery failed and she needs a new ligament. The ligament was gone. It wasn’t stabilizing her knee anymore. So of course you know, I have many opinions about this because you know I have many opinions about everything. Let me just state the fact that the most recent studies show that an autograph which is when you take some graph from your own body, which could be your hamstring, they cut a little bit of your hamstring away or they cut a little bit of your patella tendon away, and they use that, a piece of your own body and use it as the ligament. The success rate is 95% with that. So I would highly highly recommend to everyone, even though I feel like doctors totally push, and of course I’m not a medical expert. This is just my opinion. I feel like doctors totally push the graph and don’t tell people, oh it will be so much faster because you’re using a graph and you’re not using your own body so it’s like so much faster to heal. But the thing is, they don’t tell people oh but if your body rejects it, you’re going to have to have this entire surgery again. And then like for Peng Peng, you’ve lost two years of competition of your whole life. So my personal opinion, I would always have the autograph, using your own body. But whatever. Some people it totally works and they have no problem. That’s my opinion. The thing about Peng Peng is that she has been through something like this before. She had a really serious back injury and the doctors told her you cannot do gymnastics for like a year or a year and a half. I mean she wasn’t allowed to do anything. All she did was condition and make her whole core super strong for a full year. And then she had to start gymnastics from scratch, all over again. In her interview about this she said never underestimate the power of the human mind. She’s come back from stuff like this before. She’s like I still have another two years before the Olympics and I’ll be back in time. I’ll be fine. She totally has confidence in herself. She has a freaking amazing attitude which explains why she’s such an incredible gymnast and has been able to come back before from something really serious. But it’s very depressing. I’m very depressed. I’ll be fine but ugh.
UNCLE TIM: So Jess, other bad news from a Georgia fans perspective. The Georgia exodus continues. Earlier this fall, Lexie Priessman announced via Instagram that she’s going to LSU instead of going to Georgia which was originally her plan. And now Brianna Brown, a senior elite who finished 12th in the all around at nationals in 2012 has decided to go to Michigan instead. Heather, one of our followers on Facebook asked us why we think this is happening and what needs to be done to fix this. And Jen, Jen. Jessica, I don’t know why I called you Jen.
JESSICA: We are a wreck. We may never take a week off again. Okay really it’s mostly me but yeah okay. Jessica, yes that’s me. Okay I’m ready.
UNCLE TIM: Okay let’s try this again. So Jessica, as our NCAA expert, why do you think this is all going on? What’s your opinion?
JESSICA: Well there’s a couple of factors. Number one, all of these commitments weren’t real letters of intent. They were just a verbal commitment and verbal commitments mean nothing which is why people can commit when they’re twelve years old. They didn’t but I think they committed when they were like freshmen in high school. The thing is, you’re a totally different person from the time you’re a freshman in high school to when you’re a senior. Some schools, I think Minnesota just gave an interview about this. They will not accept verbal commitments from people when they are freshmen and sophomores. They won’t do it. They want a real letter of intent and they want to know who you are the year, year and a half before you’re actually going to come to the school. So I think there’s a couple of problems. Number one, there’s pressure from schools for people to commit early. From what I’ve heard from people who’ve been recruited by multiple schools is that they’ll go on a visit and they’ll put three gymnasts in a room and they’ll say okay. We only have three scholarships available and we have four more people coming next week. If you don’t commit right now, we can’t offer you a scholarship anymore. So people are getting really really really heavily pressured to commit early. And then the other problem is that with UGA, they’d had this established coach who’d been there forever. A coach can be so important. In gymnastics, you are so close to your coach. They literally have your life in their hands and I think that when a coaching change happens and now they have Danna Durante there. It’s just not the same for someone. They may not have that same connection. So I think it’s no wonder that Priessman ended up committing to LSU with Ruby Harrold. So exciting, oh my God! I’m so excited about Ruby Harrold going to LSU. And you also don’t know if there’s some interpersonal problem, if someone is like I can’t stand so and so and I don’t want to be on the same team with them or people with different club members and they want to have a different experience in college. They don’t want to have the same teammates. Don’t anyone get their hopes up until someone actually signs their national letter of intent because that is the only thing that is actually official. The NCAA can’t regulate any of these other verbal commitments because they don’t mean anything. I mean I guess they could write a rule that says you can’t verbally commit. So maybe they need to do that. I don’t know. What do you think?
UNCLE TIM: Alright so one thing. Lexie Priessman committed while Durante was already there. She didn’t’ commit to Jay. Jay was gone by the time Priessman had committed or did her verbal commit. She did it last fall I want to say. So Durante was there. It wasn’t Jay who was there. So yeah. But I have a couple of hypotheses.
JESSICA: Tell me.
UNCLE TIM: One, I wonder how much Courtney McCool had to do with their original decisions especially with Lexie. When you’re a teenager, you want to be exactly like the people you look up to. And I’m sure McCool like a good alumna was spoon feeding the Cincinnati gymnasts the Georgia go-go juice. And now that McCool’s no longer at CGA, she’s at Texas Women’s University, they’re no longer getting the rah-rah Georgia kind of message. And then second, I also think you have to kind of think about how the college programs brand themselves right? So on the one hand, you have the legacies. You have Alabama who has Sarah Patterson and her legacy. Utah has the Greg Marsden legacy. UCLA has the Miss Val legacy. You go to those schools to be part of the legacy. And Georgia no longer has the Suzanne legacy. Besides winning, the Suzanne legacy entailed a rather posh existence.
JESSICA: Hmmm that’s the truth
UNCLE TIM: Because of their huge football program, the SEC athletic departments aren’t usually hurting for money. With that said, Georgia was known for quite extravagant expenses
JESSICA: Which they got in trouble for
UNCLE TIM: Allegedly this included taking seniors to New York on private jets to celebrate their graduations
JESSICA: Well not that allegedly though because they did get punished for that and lost a scholarship for a year. But anyway go ahead.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah and that doesn’t seem like something that Durante is going to do. A third factor is also education. When you’re competing with other schools like UCLA or the top public universities, Florida’s up there too. Michigan is one of the public Ivy League schools and then there’s Stanford, one of the top schools in the world. Georgia’s known for its obscure biology departments but it’s not necessarily a university that can compete academically in terms of perception. I’m not saying it’s a bad school. But it’s also not perceived as a top school and there’s nothing Durante can do about that. She can’t really change that. She can’t go to the university and say you need to hire better professors or whatever. She can’t do that.
JESSICA: Yeah when you compare Michigan, which Brianna Brown committed to Michigan, compared to UGA, I mean clearly Michigan is the winner academically.
UNCLE TIM: And then another factor is mystique. Certain programs just have a certain mystique. You go to UCLA and you get a coveted Miss Val floor routine, which you know Danusia Francis mentioned in her interview. You go to Oklahoma and you know that your beam routine is going to be one of the seven wonders of the gymnastics world. They’re that good right? Honestly, Durante doesn’t really have that mystique. She has a reputation of fixing programs which is exactly what athletic directors like. But that reputation isn’t going to attract the top recruits. You don’t want to go to a school that’s in the process of being fixed. And so I guess my question is so what can Georgia, just setting aside these two instances but, in the future what can Georgia offer these kids? Quite frankly, I don’t know what it is that they’re going to be able to, how they’re going to be able to set themselves apart. The legacy’s gone which was one of the big attractions in the past. The posh lifestyle is pretty much gone and so I don’t know. Durante has Brandie Jay and Brittany Rogers and so they could potentially become known as one of the best vaulting teams. I don’t know. What do you think Jess? What can Georgia offer future recruits?
JESSICA: You know it’s interesting because you know, when we had Tricia Woo on the show, she talked about how Durante was at Nebraska. She was there and she completely gave her the confidence to know that she could be one of the best beam workers in the NCAA. I think that from what I’ve seen of what she can do is give people the confidence to know that they can win and that is how Georgia became what they were. Winning, winning, winning, winning over and over and over and over and being super consistent. I think that that is a possibility of bringing that legacy back. The other thing is that I know that when Danna was at Cal, she did some really cool beam routines. They’re actually really unique and really different and a lot of people didn’t know. Cal doesn’t get a lot of coverage but they were really cool. She had a way of bringing out that uniqueness in each individual athlete and really showing that off and that’s something that gymnastics fans love. So those are two things: I think the consistency and getting people to really believe in themselves and know that they can hit and also having people stand apart in terms of their special unique abilities is another thing.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah I agree with that. I think that Shayla Worley last year probably had her best NCAA season ever. So I think there is some kind of ability to make Shayla believe in herself and help her really see her potential and realize that potential. I think that last year she kind of had a huge barrier because she had to get everyone’s trust and build all the relationships. She has kind of an uphill battle right now and she has to get everyone on board. I mean it’s hard for a coach. It’s hard to one the one hand be fixing and building chemistry within your program and then to have recruits come and feel chemistry with a group that’s trying to build its own chemistry. Do you see what I’m saying? Does that make sense? And so I’m guessing it’s really hard to do recruiting right now when you’re going through this process of building things back up.
JESSICA: At least they still have the fancy leftovers. They still have the incredible amazing training facility and they have their super locker room where they have their own makeup mirrors like Cirque du Soleil has.
UNCLE TIM: (laughs) Yeah
JESSICA: People like that kind of thing. Okay so in other news, we found out that the leotard wars are real. Very very real. So it seems that allegedly GK has poached some of Alpha Factor’s top gymnastics salespeople and Alpha Factor is now suing two of their former employees for breach of trade secrets is what it sounds like. This is serious man. I mean Alpha Factor is like home brew made from the trenches of Pennsylvania and they are serious about protecting their brand and making sure that none of their secrets are stolen. It’s getting heated. So we will keep you abreast of all the latest in the leotard wars when we find out what happens with this lawsuit.
[Sound Byte]
JESSICA: So you know, one of the best things about having Blythe on the show is that she’s always traveling the world doing something fantastic for the world of gymnastics. There’s sometimes drawbacks to that. Like in the last two times you might have heard there’s a little background noise, which is very unusual. But of course it’s all worth it because we get Blythe and all her gymnastics expertise. So Blythe, are you allowed to say where you are right now?

BLYTHE: So at the moment, I am in Lausanne, Switzerland. And I really want to apologize for the background noise in this. I’m in a cafe and it’s been a little bit tricky with the internet so far. So that’s why I’m having to do a lot of work, including interviews for GymCastic, from a cafe. And there’s people all around. And they’re talking of course. And so I really do want to apologize. I’ll get things sorted out eventually.

JESSICA: So next week you’re going to be in Sofia, Bulgaria, for trampoline Worlds?

BLYTHE: That is correct. I will be there at trampoline Worlds.

JESSICA: Awesome. So we’re hoping maybe we can do some mini episodes like we did for Worlds. And I just got the most awesome news ever. Live coverage of trampoline Worlds on YouTube just like they did for P&G Championships. And who’s the most awesome European commentator in the whole entire world?

BLYTHE: That would have to be the incomparable Mitch Fenner from Great Britain.

JESSICA: Exactly. And he will be doing all the commentary on the free YouTube stream of World Championships.

BLYTHE: Fantastic

JESSICA: Oh my god. If you guys haven’t heard him before, he is like- who’s the ice skating guy who is so hilarious? It’s like him. He’s just awesome. If you aren’t even interested in trampoline, listen just because Mitch Fenner is going to be doing the commentary. He’s that good. So we are so stoked. So we’ll bring you all the details on that. And look forward to some special coverage from Blythe from World Championships.


UNCLE TIM: This interview with Charlotte Drury is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. Alright so in July my adorable little gymnastics nieces went to the Secret US Classic. And the oldest came home and said to her mom- Jess guess what she said to her mom.

JESSICA: I want a tumbl trak in my house.

UNCLE TIM: Not exactly. Mom, we’re going to start working on my handstand pirouettes.


UNCLE TIM: She’s three


JESSICA: Of course she’s your niece.

UNCLE TIM: My friend, the little girl’s mother, responded with oh, are we now? And the little girl said yes. And she grabbed her mom by the hand and dragged her downstairs. Now in their basement they have the Tumbl Trak junior bar. So for the past three months, this little three year old has been doing bars nonstop. And she just got her hip pullover all by herself, which is awesome. But there’s one little tiny small problem. My youngest gymnastics niece is jealous. And she wants her own bar. So I’m thinking about buying my gymnastics nieces another bar for Christmas so that each can have their own bar. And so you know, if you want these magical bars that will make your youngsters want to become bar enthusiasts just like my gymnastics nieces, you need to head over to Tumbl Trak right now. You have to go over to That’s


BLYTHE: Charlotte Drury began gymnastics at age three at NGTC in Aliso Viejo, California, before transitioning to Gym Max in Costa Mesa. As a child, she palled around with McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross. And when they’re not traveling around the world to different competitions, the three are still inseparable today. Charlotte however took a gymnastics path less traveled, transitioning from artistic to trampoline at the age of 13. She’s excelled, made the US National team, and is getting ready to compete at her first World Championships, the World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships next week in Sofia, Bulgaria. She joins us today from the Karolyi Ranch between workouts, the final national team training camp before the team departs for Bulgaria. Alright so Charlotte, thank you very much for taking the time to do this. I understand that you are training camp right now?

CHARLOTTE: Yeah I’m actually at the Karolyi Ranch right now. We’re here for World Championships training camp. Pretty exciting.

BLYTHE: Awesome how’s that been going?

CHARLOTTE: It’s going really good. Training’s been great for everyone. I’m so proud to be on team USA here and everyone’s just looking really strong, so it’s good.

BLYTHE: Can you just tell us a little bit about your story and about your decision to switch from artistic to trampoline?

CHARLOTTE: Yeah I think the decision to switch from artistic to tramp was a huge decision in my life, probably the biggest I’ve ever made. But I started artistic when I was three years old, so it was literally my life. I loved it for so long and it was all I ever wanted to do. And then slowly I just started to grow up, and the passion in my heart faded a little bit. I decided that this just wasn’t for me anymore, that I wasn’t willing to push myself through this anymore. So then I had heard of trampoline and I was like I love trampoline, I’ve always loved bouncing off the walls and stuff like that. I mean don’t get me wrong it was not an easy decision to make the switch. It was hard. I thought my life was over for a little bit. But I found myself again in trampoline, and that’s always something that I’ve really wanted to share with everyone, is how much trampoline kind of became a part of my life after gymnastics. And that’s what I want to share with everyone else is there is life after gymnastics. There is always going to be something for you, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

BLYTHE: I see. And how old were you when you made that decision, when you felt the passion for artistic start to dim a little bit, you thought hey maybe trampoline would be a good thing to start?

CHARLOTTE: I think I was 13 when I kind of decided that I was going to be done with artistic. You know because that’s when you start growing, you start mentally maturing and making your own decisions and realizing you start questioning everything. That’s when I decided maybe this isn’t for me anymore.

BLYTHE: I understand. And I understand that there was a coach at Gym Max when you told them you didn’t see yourself in artistic anymore who told you you weren’t done with the sport yet.

CHARLOTTE: She actually told me she was like I can see it in you. I had told her that I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m done. I just can’t do this anymore. She’s like no you’re not, you’re not done, I can see it in you. Just trust me you’re not done. And she was so right.

BLYTHE: I’ve got to ask. You’d been training with Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney at that time as an artistic gymnast. And the three of you guys seemed like looking at the pictures and everything from before you were very much inseparable. And so what was their reaction to your kind of deciding hey, I’m going to go this different path?

CHARLOTTE: I know. Yeah you’re very right, we were inseparable. I mean we were attached at the hip. We’d been through everything together. Of course them being so close to me they saw me starting to lose passion for it. They saw me not wanting to come to workouts and not wanting to be at workout once I got there. And that stuff. So I think of course they were torn about me quitting, but overall I think they were happy for me because they knew it was the right thing for me to do.

BLYTHE: What was it about artistic, if you don’t mind my asking, that you just sort of lost the passion for? Obviously you hadn’t lost passion for gymnastics in general. But, you know.

CHARLOTTE: I can’t even tell you. It’s like when someone asks Kyla and McKayla why they put themselves through everything. It’s like, you just do. It’s just what you do. It’s because you love it. Then eventually for me I stopped loving it for some reason. I started to hurt, I started to grow, and I got older. And it just wasn’t for me anymore. And that happens to a lot of girls and a lot of guys. And I’m just very thankful I found trampoline. So yeah.

BLYTHE: Do you know any other people who have sort of started in artistic and ended up as trampolinists, rhythmic gymnasts, in another discipline of the sport? Have you been able to convert anybody over to trampoline?

CHARLOTTE: Well people sometimes message me on Twitter and stuff and say you’ve inspired me to take a trampoline class at my gym. And that makes so happy. That’s the only thing I can really think of. A lot of girls on team right now started out in artistic. And then their gym would have trampoline so when they were younger they would make the switch or they would do both for a little while. There’s girls at my gym right now who do both. They do artistic and trampoline. So that’s kind of what I think trampoline or acro or rhythmic is kind of a really great outlet for kids that don’t have the passion for artistic.

BLYTHE: Definitely. And did you always have, as an artistic gymnast, did you always have an affinity for trampoline?

CHARLOTTE: Always. Like, always. I remember when we were little we would sometimes get scheduled for trampoline for some random reason. I would be happy for weeks afterward. We would be bouncing, and one of the coaches there when I was seven taught me a double back and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I don’t know why I didn’t realize I love trampoline this much sooner.

BLYTHE: When you made the switch, what was that like to actually start training trampoline after doing artistic gymnastics? Can you talk about some of the differences between the two sports and anything that surprised you about the new discipline?

CHARLOTTE: Yeah. Well I remember my first day in trampoline. I remember just I couldn’t get this silly smile off my face. I was just having so much fun, which I hadn’t had in artistic in a long time. So I mean it definitely, we train less than I did in artistic. The hours were cut down. There was less conditioning. So it’s better for my body I feel. But mentally it’s the same game. You still gotta be focused. You still gotta go into the gym ready to train. You still gotta be in shape. You just gotta have a different kind of physical ability that you do in trampoline. But for the most part it’s not that different. It’s a little easier of course because artistic, I mean, they’re machines. They’re a little crazy [LAUGHS]. But trampoline is great. It’s kind of like an everyone sport. If you want to do it you can do it.

BLYTHE: How many hours a week are you training for trampoline?

CHARLOTTE: I actually don’t know. Probably 16. I’m not really sure. That seems right.

BLYTHE: Sixteen hours I mean that’s something. But it also seems like if you want to go to the occasional party or school dance you can.

CHARLOTTE: [LAUGHS] Yeah my coach can be pretty flexible. So he’ll let me have a Friday night off. Like I went to homecoming last week so that was really fun.

BLYTHE: Awesome. And what’s something that you wish people knew about trampoline gymnastics? Like it seems like artistic gets all the attention. Although people who follow artistic kind of say oh artistic doesn’t get the attention that football gets. But I feel like as far as gymnastics goes, it’s all about artistic right?

CHARLOTTE: Yeah, I guess. But I mean artistic definitely deserves all the attention they’ve got. They’ve got the best in the world right now. And trampoline, we’re building up our program. I just want everyone to know about trampoline. To know that it’s there and that it’s a great opportunity for a lot of kids to grow up and to get older and be active and get involved in a team. And just I think it’s an amazing thing but I just wish more people knew about.

BLYTHE: Does the height scare you? Did it ever scare you?


BLYTHE: I’ve bounced on the trampoline and those-

CHARLOTTE: They height is my favorite part. I just love bouncing high. It’s so much fun. People ask me that a lot. They’re like that’s just way too high for me. I’m like it’s not high enough, I need to keep going higher.

BLYTHE: What for you is the hardest thing about trampoline?

CHARLOTTE: The hardest thing about trampoline for me is going to be the mental competition part. It’s like competing beam basically. You’ve got one shot. And if you fall, you’re done. You don’t get to get back up and start again. Your routine is over if you fall. So that’s definitely one of the things that’s keeping your nerves under control when you’re bouncing and making sure you have the right bounce between enough power and not enough power. And it’s all about timing in trampoline, it’s all about timing. And it’s just one of those things you learn how to do over time.

BLYTHE: I see. And what do you find easy about trampoline? What’s the easiest thing for you?

CHARLOTTE: Going to the gym is definitely the easiest part about trampoline.


CHARLOTTE: I love going to gym every day. It gets me through the day. I’ll be in school and be like ok I get to go to the gym later, it’s all good. I get to go bounce on trampoline for my sport, how cool is that? I mean come on.

BLYTHE: That is pretty cool. I’ve got to ask, are you ever afraid that you’ll go flying off the trampoline? Like has your coach ever had to step in to save your life?

CHARLOTTE: There’s been some moments where you get to the top of your flip and you’re like I’m going down and I’m going down hard and there’s nothing you can do about it. And that’s the only time you’re ever like oh gosh this is not good. That’s like the only time. But that doesn’t happen very often.

BLYTHE: And you know, like in the middle you could be at the apex of the height and you know this isn’t going to end well.

CHARLOTTE: You know from the take off. You know that you can just feel like if your hips go out to the side or a little bit or your arms don’t get all the way up. You know you’re going to fly off. And you’re like at the very top just watching the ground come closer and closer, boom. [LAUGHS]

BLYTHE: Oh man. Have you ever gotten injured?

CHARLOTTE: No, not too bad. I mean of course there’s been some tweaks here and there. but for the most part my coach has kept me pretty safe. Trampoline is very good to do drills before you do the real skill. So by the time you get to the skill, it’s like you’ve already done it because you’ve done all the drills. And my coach, he won’t let me try anything that he knows I won’t hit. So when he tells me to do something, I know I can do it for sure.

BLYTHE: When we’re talking about the World Championships that are coming up next week, who are the teams to watch and the individuals to watch? Who will you be looking out for when you’re there?

CHARLOTTE: I’m definitely going to be looking at China and Great Britain and Canada because they’re three powerhouses in the sport and their lines are so beautiful and they jump so high. And I just want to be like them so bad. And that’s kind of what drives me in the gym every day is I’ll watch a video before practice and I’ll be like ok so they hold their positions longer and they keep their arms by their sides and this is what they do so I’m going to try to emulate them and become a better athlete through that.

BLYTHE: In artistic right now the US women are totally on top of the world. But as far as trampoline is concerned, where is the US in comparison to Russia, China, Canada, those teams?

CHARLOTTE: I think the US is definitely coming up through the ranks. We’ve got a huge team that’s going to definitely explode pretty soon. But right now I feel we’re kind of in the middle. We’re the higher up in the middle. But I’m pretty new at this. So I’ve never really been to a World Championships before. So I’ll have to get back to you on that question [LAUGHS]

BLYTHE: And are you like YouTubing I don’t know Rosie Mclanahan? Are you looking at your competitors’ routines and going wow that’s amazing, what can I take from that?

CHARLOTTE: Yes for sure. They do these routines that are crazy difficult and crazy high and just stunning. They’re amazing to watch. And it’s hard to believe that I’ll ever be able to do that. But you know that’s what you go into the gym for is to be able to be like them and be able to hopefully one day be better than that and set new records and new goals and reach new heights.

BLYTHE: Understood. And you do individual, so you’re on the trampoline and it’s just you. And you also do synchronized trampoline where you’re with a partner. Do a lot of gymnasts do both?

CHARLOTTE: Yeah. Most trampolinists, if you’re in the higher level or the lower levels you’ll have a synchro partner sometimes from another gym, sometimes from across the country. But I do synchro with a girl that lives in Texas. So that’s kind of tricky. We train when we can together. We’re not on the same trampoline. There’s two trampolines that are next to each other. And we organize a routine that we complete and you get scored on synchronization and then on addition to time of flight, execution, and difficulty.

BLYTHE: I see. And how does that work when you’re synchro partner is training in Texas and you’re training in California? How do you guys manage to stay synchronized?

CHARLOTTE: You pair together people who bounce similar. So me and my synchro partner, we bounce similar. And you listen to them when they hit the trampoline it makes a sound and you listen to that sound so that’s how you know when you need to adjust. You can kind of see them out of the corner of your eye. So it’s not too hard. But we train when we go to competitions and we train here at training camps. So we make it work.

BLYTHE: I see. And what’s your synchro partner’s name and how long have you guys known each other?

CHARLOTTE: Her name’s Shaylee Dunavin and we’ve known each other since I think 2011. So not as long as some people have known each other in the sport but still pretty long. We’re really good friends.

BLYTHE: Oh that’s good. And you guys and you have the same sort of similar bounce?

CHARLOTTE: Yeah we do

BLYTHE: So you were put together by your coaches.

CHARLOTTE: Yeah. We have similar bounce, times, similar skill set. So we’re a good pair.

BLYTHE: When you talk about bounce, are there different styles of bounces? Or something that’s kind of subtle that would be hard for casual fans to see, but for people who are really into the world of trampoline they say oh they bounce like this or they bounce like that?

CHARLOTTE: Yeah there is for sure. I mean if you watch the Chinese bounce, they’re pencils. Some people when they bounce they’ll get to the very top and then they’ll kind of pike down so they can get extra explosion at the bottom. So they’re like pike and then they open up super quick at the bottom. But if you watch the Chinese they jump and it looks so effortless and elegant. But it’s because they don’t bend. They just go straight to the trampoline.

BLYTHE: Talk about getting to the elite level in trampoline. What level were you in gymnastics when you stopped? Or in artistic gymnastics, excuse me, when you stopped doing that and switched over?

CHARLOTTE: I stopped right at the beginning of my level 10 season. So-


CHARLOTTE: I was pretty far along in artistic. So when I came to trampoline, it was definitely a shock to try and learn all these new levels and new routines and stuff like that. But my first season I competed level 9. So that was a very good baseline. I learned all the basics and I learned basically how to stay on the trampoline and how to flip and stuff like that. And then the next season I went junior elite. So I don’t think that happens very often. But most people go through the levels from 5-10. They’ll spend a year or two at each level just like they would in artistic. And eventually they make it to junior elite. And then eventually furthermore they go to senior elite.

BLYTHE: I see. And were you always very serious about getting to senior elite? Was that always in the back of your head?

CHARLOTTE: It was, but it kind of terrified me to be completely honest. Like I remember when I was a junior, my first year junior, and I stayed and I watched the senior competition. And I was watching them and I was like oh my gosh I’m never going to be able to do that, that’s so scary. Like look at what they’re doing, that’s so scary. And all the sudden I was just here. I don’t even know how it happened. I just kind of got here all the sudden.

BLYTHE: And you have two great friends who went on to become elite gymnasts, went on to be on the national team, went on to the Olympic Games. And I’ve got to ask, did that push you? Did that give you motivation? Seeing them do it and be like yeah, I’d like to do that too, that would be cool.

CHARLOTTE: When I was little, we’ve always known that we wanted to go to the Olympics and go as far as we can in our sports. But I don’t know if them making it to the Olympics gave me the motivation. But not so much as just them being there for me, being the motivation.

BLYTHE: Ok. And today, do you guys joke about partying together in Rio? Or maybe it’s not a joke.

CHARLOTTE: It’s not really a joke. I feel like if we all made it to Rio we’d have to have some pretty great party afterward.


BLYTHE: And at what point did the Olympics become a reality for you? Right now, you’re absolutely a 2016 Olympic hopeful. And at what point did that stop being like just a notion and start being like wow I could really do this?

CHARLOTTE: When you just said that, that kind of gave me chills. I never really thought about that I’m actually an Olympic hopeful. So I guess kind of right now.


BLYTHE: Ok, right now! And did you ever play around in the gym on the trampoline with Kyla and McKayla? Are they doing double backs and being like-

CHARLOTTE: No I’ve actually never taken them to the trampoline recently, except for when we were really little. I probably should, that’d be a good idea.

BLYTHE: Yeah, yeah. And take some video please. We’d all like to see that.


BLYTHE: Can you talk a little bit from having so much experience hanging out with Kyla and McKayla, talk about them in training. Are they serious? Are there moments when their personalities show through? What sort of shenanigans did you guys get up to as kids in the gym?

CHARLOTTE: Well the normal shenanigans like the chalk bucket. We use to have chalk fights and normal little kid things. But once we were up if we were standing on the block ready to start our bar routine or we saluted to do a floor routine it was all seriousness. It always has been. I think we’ve all always had that very focused mentality toward gymnastics, even from a very young age. And that’s probably the reason we’ve come so far, is that. But you know we finish our routines and we go run around and we laugh and we go sneak to the back trampolines and we bounce on the trampoline.

BLYTHE: [LAUGHS] And have they given you any advice about competing at Worlds? Having been through the process themselves.

CHARLOTTE: Yeah I mean they came over last weekend so they were telling me about what happened at Worlds and everything that went on and stuff that they did and stuff that they wish they could’ve done. And they basically just told me stay focused, focus on what you’re doing, and you’ll be good. Just rely on your training and don’t let anything affect you mentally or physically and just get out there and do what you know how to do.

BLYTHE: Can you talk a little bit about conditioning and trampoline versus conditioning and artistic? We have an interview from Karen Cockburn of Canada who said that she did powerlifting and ballet as part of her conditioning. So it really kind of two ends of the spectrum. And do you do those things? Or do you-

CHARLOTTE: We did ballet here at camp just this morning. We were doing some ballet. So it’s very different than artistic. There’s not so much- you don’t need as much arm strength that’s for sure. You still need some arm strength so we do the normal pushups and pullups and all that stuff. But for the most part I try to keep it no weights, just using my own body to avoid injuries regarding that kind of stuff. But you definitely have to have incredibly strong core, just because you’re bouncing from 25 feet and you’re getting close to five or six Gs of gravity pushing on you when you hit the bottom of the trampoline. So you’ve got to be able to withstand that. So being strong is very important.

BLYTHE: Gotcha. Do you miss artistic gymnastics? I’ve got to ask. Are there ever times where you get a bit nostalgic for the balance beam or something like that?

CHARLOTTE: Yes I do sometimes. I really do. I didn’t start to miss it until a year ago. And then I realized dang I wish I could still do that sometimes. I could still do some stuff on bars and I can do some things on beam. A couple weeks ago I went up and did a side aerial and that was fun. Now I wish I could just do it for fun sometimes.

BLYTHE: Sure. Is there any way to put an artistic flare into trampoline? Anything that you do that you feel sets your routines apart artistically? Is there a way to incorporate more of that into trampoline you think?

CHARLOTTE: Yeah there’s definitely is a certain flare I guess you could say. You can- it’s kind of just the way your hold yourself I guess and your kickouts I suppose. You can put your arms behind you, you can put your arms glued to your side, you want to open up your hips as much as you can and let your feet float behind you. It’s just toes pointed and knees straight kind of thing. And of course it’s just the confidence and the vibe you give off before and after your routine as well.

BLYTHE: And is it- oh just a quick sort of side question actually. Is it a rule that you have to wear socks on trampoline because you can catch your toes because the weave?

CHARLOTTE: Yeah you have to wear either socks or trampoline shoes.


CHARLOTTE: I wear both.

BLYTHE: You wear socks and trampoline shoes?


BLYTHE: [LAUGHS] Just to be doubly sure?


BLYTHE: Oh but we do want to ask two things about a) your favorite childhood gymnastics memory, and this might be the same question but and b) favorite Kyla and McKayla story. Story of the three of you.

CHARLOTTE: Oh gosh. Favorite childhood gymnastics story. I don’t know. Actually my favorite one is probably my first day of trampoline. And I was just I mentioned this earlier I was just bouncing on the trampoline and I couldn’t keep this goofy smile off my face. I was so happy to be on the trampoline. And I just felt so happy. That’s probably one of my favorite memories is my first day of trampoline. But then oh, one of my favorite memories is when we got to do a slip and slide when we were younger. And that was with Kyla and McKayla so that counts. So that’s my favorite Kyla and McKayla memory. We were at NGTC and we were supposed to go to Wild Rivers that day for some gymnastics summer camp but it got rainy in the morning so we weren’t allowed to go. And we set up a slip and slide with panel mats and soap and bubbles. And our coaches would launch us down these slip and slides together. And afterward we went and bounced on trampolines to dry off together. That was just really fun because we were just laughing and our leotards were covered in soap and water. It was really gross. It was really fun. So that was a good memory.

BLYTHE: [LAUGHS] Oh that’s pretty great. Never thought of bouncing on a trampoline to dry off after going on a slip and slide.


BLYTHE: But actually it’s incredibly logical.

CHARLOTTE: You should try it sometime!

BLYTHE: I think I will, thank you! What do you think needs to happen to put trampoline and tumbling more in the public eye?

CHARLOTTE: I think what needs to happen is I think we need to become a stronger team. I think we need to improve and start medaling on world stages and hopefully eventually Olympic stages. And once that happens I think trampoline’s going to get a lot of the attention and tumbling and double mini. So even less people know about double mini. We’ve got to talk about that next time.

BLYTHE: Did you ever try double mini yourself?

CHARLOTTE: Yeah I did. I was on national team for double mini that first year. In 2011 I think. So I did do double mini but my passion is definitely trampoline, so I eventually quite double mini and focused on trampoline. And that’s been a good decision so far.

BLYTHE: Is there anything else you want to add? We promised we wouldn’t go over 30 minutes with you because you probably got a workout to go to.


BLYTHE: So yeah just last thing really?

CHARLOTTE: The only thing I want to add is that there’s a team competition at Worlds that there’s a huge emphasis on. So just I just basically want to say how proud I am to be part of team USA and how hard that all these other girls are working right now and all the other guys on the team. And it’s just amazing to be here basically and I’m so thankful for trampoline and for team USA and to have the opportunity to compete at World Championships is just really amazing.

BLYTHE: Fantastic. Well Charlotte thank you so much for coming on the show.

CHARLOTTE: Thank you so much.

BLYTHE: All the best to you in Sofia. And yeah

CHARLOTTE: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

BLYTHE: You’re absolutely welcome. Thank you again for taking the time.

CHARLOTTE: No problem, thanks.


ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: Visit, that’s sportz with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.

JESSICA: Alright new segment on the show this week. We’re going to talk about gymternet highlights. And before we get into that I just want to remind you guys if you are interested in T&T as they call it, tumbling and trampoline, be sure to check out Marina Mizzour’s interview with national power tumbling champion Brandon Krzynefski and his coach Sergio from Capital in Virginia. There’s a great interview with them on Gymnastike. And also funding is always an issue with sports like T&T because it’s not the super sport that artistic gymnastics is. So if you enjoy this sport and if you guys take advantage of watching it on YouTube and watching this live stream, let us know what you think of Mitch Fenner. Let USA Gymnastics, let T&T, let people know on Twitter or Facebook. Tell your friends about it. Because it’s important for sponsors to know that there is an audience and that people watch this and that there is value in supporting the sport and it will really help fund those athletes and make things easier for them. So. Let’s get to the gymternet news. Now, there is the craziest story. Like there were pictures of male gymnasts with cheetahs and we’re like what the hell is going on. So Uncle Tim can you tell us about that?

UNCLE TIM: Alright. So Arizona State has a men’s club gymnastics team. And so since they’re a club program they have to raise all their own money for travel and everything because they aren’t officially part of the University Athletics Department. And so they have to do a lot of work. And they raised a lot of money last year which allowed them to go to South Africa to compete in the South African National Championships. And while they were there, they obviously cuddled with adorable cheetahs and did back flips on rocks and stuff. There’s a video of it on YouTube. We’ll link to it on the show page. But they also went and taught acrobatics to little children from Zulu tribes and stuff. And it’s kind of cute to see the little kids jumping on trampolines and learning how to do forward rolls. They just absolutely loved it, it was so adorable. Jess, what can you tell us about Luke Carson?

JESSICA: Ooh well, Luke Carson obviously has been listening to the show, because he’s as you guys know he’s the Irish National Champion and he’s the one that he broke his leg, then it healed, then he was vaulting and he was taking off and his leg shattered. And totally bizarre injury. And so he has this blog up where he is talking all about his recovery. And he has pictures of his leg throughout everything. Right after the accident, after his surgery, how it’s going now. It is gnarly. It is gruesome but it’s also super inspirational. Because he’s like hell no, this is not going to stop me. I’m going to come back and compete. So he has this machine fitness, I’m not sure what machine fitness is, but they’re doing a sponsorship for him. So if you pledge a little bit to his recovery and fund and sponsor him, there’s all these prizes you can win. And one of the prizes is one of our glorious ideas we’ve had on GymCastic for many years, and that is he has fantastic photos of him in his underwear. Yes. Framed in all of their gloriousness. Very artistic. Very artistic. They’re all in black and white. They could be in a gallery somewhere. I’m sure you could impress your friends. Maybe put it up at work.

UNCLE TIM: Put it up at work?


JESSICA: You don’t know!


JESSICA: I mean it depends. I don’t know [LAUGHS] You work at an underwear store or something. Yeah so I would just like to encourage everyone.

UNCLE TIM: Just put it on my desk.

JESSICA: [LAUGHS] No one will think that’s weird. That’s not sexual harassment of anyone else at your office. Someone’s like can you please take those pictures of gymnasts in their underwear down, Jessica that’s enough. We’re trying to concentrate on work here. So anywho. We at GymCastic endorse this method of raising money, and we think it’s fantastic and would like to say hats off to you Luke Carson, Irish national champion. Thank you for your contribution to the gymternet this week. And you guys should check out machine fitness and his blog, Luke Carson, to find out more about how you can support his recovery, look at his pictures, and you can buy one for yourself to put on your desk at work. So in other gymternet opinion news, [LAUGHS] because you know my opinion that this is a fantastic trend and we should have a calendar. Should we do a gymnastics calendar of gymnasts in their underwear? I think Justin Spring would approve of this. It could be like a fundraiser for Illinois Gymnastics. I’m just saying. I’ve totally lost my train of thought now. I have each month laid out in my mind. [LAUGHS] Ok so back to yes, gymternet opinions. Polls. We have been putting up the most fantastic, and by we I mean Uncle Tim, has come up with these fantastic polls and we have these amazing infographics. They’re so cool. And you know how I love data? I also like pictures. So it all works out perfectly for me. Infographics. You can mouse over them. They tell you- oh they’re so fantastic. So tell us the poll results from the last two weeks.

UNCLE TIM: Alright. So one of your biggest pet projects is real time iPads for judges and stuff. So the question was should we see the judges’ marks, their scores, in real time? And 32.5% said that we must see everything in real time, 5.2% said eh we don’t really need to see the judges’ marks, stop being paranoid, and then 62.3% said that they don’t really need to see it during the competition, but they like to see it afterwards. Do you feel vindicated Jess?

JESSICA: I do. I do. Because afterwards is ok with me. That’s alright with me. I’m ok with that. So yes I do, thank you. Because you know I think my opinion is the opinion of everyone else. Or should be. So you know. One of those special things about me. [LAUGHS] Ok so what else what else?

UNCLE TIM: Was Mai Murakami robbed of a floor medal? This one was pretty close. So 56.5% said she was robbed, and 43.5% were ok with the floor results and said Biles, Ferrari, and Iordache were better than Murakami. So it’s pretty close to 50/50 on that one.

JESSICA: Vindicated again.

UNCLE TIM: Then what was the most accurately scored event in Antwerp? Number one was women’s bars, number two was women’s vault, which I don’t agree with, number three was men’s floor. So. Those were those results. And then let’s go over to the last week’s gym nerd poll, which the first question was who is the gymternet’s favorite commentator? Number one was Shannon Miller.


UNCLE TIM: Two was Mitch Fenner, and three was Christine Still.

JESSICA: I’ve never heard Christine Still. I don’t know who that is.

UNCLE TIM: She is Mitch Fenner’s partner for BBC.

JESSICA: Oh that’s who that is.



UNCLE TIM: I think the British are generally winning right now. But yeah. And then perfect 10, Jess, do you miss the perfect 10 or are you ok with this new system?

JESSICA: I am ok with the new system, because we do technically still have the ability to score a perfect 10 even though apparently the code has decided they will never give a perfect 10 to anyone, even if it is perfect. So.

UNCLE TIM: Oh that’s not the answer I was expecting. I was expecting you to be like PERFECT 10 OR DIE. Interesting.

JESSICA: I like to surprise you now and then. Keeps you on your toes.

UNCLE TIM: So 66% said no, get over the fact that the perfect 10 is gone, and 34% said yes I miss the perfect 10 and gymnastics just is not the same. So. The majority though is ok with the new system. Which kind of surprised me just because I feel like a lot of people are nostalgic for the past. And then when was the last time you saw an artistic beam routine Jess? Your options: in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, or between 2000-2005, 2006-2012, or this last year, 2013 being this past year?

JESSICA: Well this is the thing about this poll question is I feel like we should have clarified more specifically if we meant elite or NCAA. And of course I assume everyone assumed it was elite. So if we’re talking about elite I would say 2000s. The 2000s. Was probably the last time. And then but if you include NCAA then this year because NCAA season, tons of artistry in NCAA. What about you?

UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. I feel like first you have to define was artistry is. And so in my extensive research about the past few weeks if you haven’t read my blog post about-

JESSICA: Oh my god everyone has to read it. Oh my god oh my god. It’s the best thing ever first of all. He’s going through all of the codes from the beginning of time and talking about how they define artistry. Oh my god it’s so juicy because it’s scandalous. You won’t believe the things that they said, wrote it down in the code. Oh my god it’s like my favorite thing ever. Ok go ahead. Everyone has to read it.

UNCLE TIM: So the weird thing is though, artistry was really a big deal on the men’s side. Women’s side it wasn’t such a common term for a long time. But I would say that artistry has to do with two major things. They saw artistry having to do with the idea of something speaking to your soul. So it’s executed to the point where it speaks to your soul. And then it also is a question of originality. So two prongs. And originality isn’t just doing a double layout off beam. That was considered risk. Originality was doing new connections and giving them kind of your own little flare and making them so beautiful. And so I’m trying to think if there’s anything that has given me stirrings in my soul in the past year. I would say no. I think maybe the last time I was like oh my god this is gorgeous was maybe Tatiana Lysenko’s 1992 beam routine. I don’t know.

JESSICA: I think McCool doing beam was soul stirring.

UNCLE TIM: Hm, ok. So like 2004 for you?

JESSICA: She’s ethereal on beam. There’s never been anyone like her ever. Even in NCAA, she was just magnificent.

UNCLE TIM: Except for that one year where she wobbled all over the place and got second place still. Anyway.


JESSICA: No! She’s always perfect!

UNCLE TIM: So what our listeners said was 46% said that they have seen an artistic beam routine this year, and then 25% said in the 90s. So those were the two most common answers.

JESSICA: Odd. Very odd.

UNCLE TIM: Anyway. Well Jess we also had, it’s been a while since we’ve chatted and we had some feedback about the preventing abuse show. So what have we heard from our listeners?

JESSICA: So it was very interesting because I kind of thought this would be one of those shows that was listened to a lot but people wouldn’t talk about it very much and they especially wouldn’t talk about it publicly. And that’s pretty much exactly what happened. So I didn’t get a lot of, there wasn’t a lot of social media discussion about it. But there were a lot of personal emails and text messages that I got about the episode. So there were a few parents who talked about how much they appreciated the episode because they just couldn’t believe what other parents would put up with and what people would let their kids go through in the name of sport. And I think our episode was all about preventing abuse, it wasn’t just sexual abuse. It was it could have been physical abuse or mental abuse or being yelled at like crazy or letting yourself be super injured over and over. All that. So that was really interesting to have some parents come forward and be like thank you for putting that out there. I think the thing that I’m most proud of about us doing that show is that there was a woman who emailed and said that after listening to the episode, she has been inspired to come forward and do whatever it takes no matter how long it takes to get her coach banned from coaching. She said that he abused her 18 years ago. And because of our episode, she’s going to make sure he is no longer a gym owner and no longer coaching. So that’s huge. That’s really really really huge. So I feel really honored that we could help her in that journey to come forward and make a difference for other gymnasts and hopefully prevent abuse in the future. So I’m pretty stoked about that. I’m very honored to be a part of it. Uncle Tim who is our international shout out of the week going to this week?

UNCLE TIM: It is going to Florence Lestian of Belgium. She did a lot of the social media stuff for the World Championships this year, and she has been an avid tweeter with us. So thank you Florence for listening.

JESSICA: Yay! Yay Belgium.

UNCLE TIM: And in other great news we have a few entries in our Halloween costume contest. And Jess, who is our winner this year?

JESSICA: Our winner is zombie gymnast. Miss Maddie has won the poster of her choice from our friends at Cloud and Victory. And we’ll put a picture up of Maddie’s costume. It’s adorable and hilarious and extremely creative. So congratulations to Maddie and we hope you enjoy your poster. And if you enjoy this show, you can- Uncle Tim did you know you can leave us a voicemail?

UNCLE TIM: No! And if I call will I have to talk to one of us?

JESSICA: [LAUGHS] No, you will not! We do not answer the phone. It is a voicemail system. So you don’t have to worry about hearing one of my rants about my opinion. No one answers the phone. It’s just a voicemail. So you can call us, leave us a voicemail. Leave us a message about your opinion, a question for us, something you want the gymternet to know. You can call 415-800-3191 or if you have Skype and you’re abroad you can call us for free. Our username is Gymcastic Podcast. And have you thought about any holiday shopping yet? I mean it’s only the day after Halloween and so I feel terrible even asking that, but have you?

UNCLE TIM: Yeah. Duh.

JESSICA: Yeah so

UNCLE TIM: I’m the world’s best boyfriend, I have to start now.

JESSICA: I already know what I’m getting Coop too, I’m so excited about it. So did you know that you can do his holiday shopping if you’re buying anything on Amazon and a little portion of what you buy goes back to supporting the podcast?


JESSICA: You can! Are you buying something on Amazon? Do you know?

UNCLE TIM: Probably, I’m lazy.

JESSICA: Yeah everyone buys on Amazon right?

UNCLE TIM: …go to a real store anymore.

JESSICA: No it’s better to just have it all delivered to you. So yes so yeah you can buy something. Just go to our Amazon link on our site and shop as you normally would and a little portion of what you buy goes back to the show. And you guys can also support the show by downloading the Stitcher app. It works on all devices including android. And do you know who just got an android phone?


JESSICA: No. I would like to have both. I have an android tablet but I mess it all up. But, our very own Blythe Lawrence. I’m so excited she got a big girl phone.

UNCLE TIM: Aw yay!

JESSICA: I know! So you can also subscribe to the show. You will get an email and it will have everything that’s on the website in the email and then you can link and listen to the show so you never miss anything and you can see what’s on the site. And what kind of things we link to. And also what videos we put up there. And you know on the website we put up all the routines we possibly can so you guys can augment your listening experience by watching while you listen. You can also support the show by recommending it. Share on Facebook, share on Google+, tell your friends about it, follow us on Twitter. You can rate us or write a review on iTunes. And thank you for our recent British fans who have written reviews on iTunes. Thank you so much to you guys. And you guys asked for other ways to support the show so we also have a donate button. So if you would like to give us cash, go right ahead and donate some [LAUGHS]. You can also send us an email because we read everything that you guys write. We appreciate your emails. And we have a long running list of things that topics that you guys have suggested for the show. So you can email us at I want to thank everybody who answered the researcher’s question on her survey about masters gymnastics. She’s really excited she got almost 200 responses and she was expecting to get way less than that so she’s really pleased. Thanks to everybody who did that. Blythe has reports up from all the European meets and she will be at trampoline World Championships so be sure to check her out at Gymnastics Examiner. Spanny has done a Make It or Break It where are they now update, and she has also written her first children’s book, which is something you will not want to miss. So check out the Spanny Tampson update on her site. And Uncle Tim what have you been up to?

UNCLE TIM: I’ve been writing about artistry, starting with 1964 and I’ll eventually get to the present. But I’m looking at how the evolution of artistry has been defined. And I found some interesting things about how your routine was supposed to correspond with your body type in women’s gymnastics. And yet, you were supposed to also be light while you were doing gymnastics. I don’t know, it was interesting. Check it out.

JESSICA: It’s been so fascinating. I love it. I just appreciate all the research that you’ve done, and it’s so exciting. Ok. So. Until next week, I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics

UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym

JESSICA: Thanks for listening, see you next week!


UNCLE TIM: And there will be a question, let me throw in the question. Alright. Here we go. In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1



[expand title=”Episode 59: What it’s like to be a Cirque du Soleil Talent Scout”]

MARCELINE: And so really it’s not uncommon to see in their 30s performing high acrobatic acts. And it’s pretty impressive when you really get to see oh my god they’ve been doing it for 15, 20. I mean we did have an acro sport mixed pair flyer in really late 30s, early 40s. And we have some catchers that were well in their 40s.




JESSICA: This week, the winter meet rosters, Ohashi is PO’d, and what it’s like to be a recruiter for Cirque. Dream job!


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 in behalf of Elite Sportz Band. Visit We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: This is episode 59 for November 13, 2013. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym


EVAN: And I’m Evan Heiter from the gymternet


JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. So let’s start with, Evan I’m so glad you’re joining us again.


EVAN: I’m back!


JESSICA: Where are you these days? Are you in super Atlanta?


EVAN: I am. I’m reppin the dirty south in the ATL and putting up a bunch of letters with my hands right now.




EVAN: It takes up the majority of my day, but I’m liking it.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] So Uncle Tim, tell us what’s happening. We had Charlotte Drury on last week. And oh my god don’t you guys think- I thought she was an amazing ambassador for the sport. So well spoke. So passionate. So excited. Such a message. Uncle Tim what did you think about her?


UNCLE TIM: I actually really liked listening to the interview last week. I wasn’t on the call when you guys talked to her, and I thought she was probably one of the more entertaining 17 year olds that I’ve ever heard speak. 17 year old gymnasts I should say, speak. It was quite good.


JESSICA: So how’d she do at trampoline and tumbling Worlds?


UNCLE TIM: She did pretty darn well for it being her first World Championships. She got 7th in the synchro finals, and then she got 12th in semi finals for individual tramp. And she was the second alternate going into semi finals. And Jess, how do you feel about that? I know you have many thoughts.


JESSICA: Well you know I like what ifs, of course. That’s like my favorite thing. So I’m just saying she was the second alternate. But if a bunch of people crapped the bed in finals, which is a fantastic trampoline pun and I would like to pause here for everyone to acknowledge how fantastic that was. And I don’t know whatever they got like 50s whereas the winner got a 56 and Charlotte got a 53 something. And so I’m just saying had she been in the competition, she would’ve placed like 6th because she’s super consistent like her buddy Kyla Ross. And I think this is just it’s proves that she totally has the scores to be in finals. And so it bodes well for her. I’m saying Rio, serious possibility. That’s what I think.


UNCLE TIM: She was super popular. Everyone wanted to take a picture with her at the competition. All the famous British gymnasts and everything. Everyone was taking pictures with her. I was quite impressed.


JESSICA: Yeah she was extremely popular, which I’m pretty stoked to see that because I think she’s a great ambassador. I think if someone’s going to put trampoline on the map, this is the girl. So. Stoked. So let’s talk about the US roster for the winter meets that are coming up. Let’s talk about all the rosters. First of all we have the Mexican Open coming up. This is super- I would just really like to go to this meet because first of all, it’s in Acapulco which is like eh. But it’s at the Fairmont. And the Fairmont Hotel is one of my favorite hotels in the entire world. I would like to live in a Fairmont hotel just like- what’s the name of the little girl that lived in the, she had the book written about her. New York. Famous. Totally blanking on it. Anyone? Eloise! Like Eloise. I would like to live in a Fairmont like Eloise and have a turtle that I walk on a leash. So have you guys not read Eloise?


EVAN: No I missed that


UNCLE TIM: No but my neighbor has a-


JESSICA: The movies to not do- no. It’s not the same at all. She does good and all this crap in the movie, which is bull. Like Eloise was actually written by this female performer who was like a total brat and so she wrote about her she would be if she was a kid. And it’s all about just tearing up the place and harassing her nanny and harassing the people that live- she lives there because she’s super rich and her family pays no attention to her. So. She is just a terror in the hotel. And it’s just excellent. Orders room service at all hours, refuses to take a bath, colors on the walls. I mean everyone has to read Eloise. The original book. Not that Disney-fied crap. So anyway. Enough about me aspiring to be Eloise. The Fairmont. Fantastic hotel. Like if you’re going to pick the best place ever to have a gymnastics meet, Fairmont Hotel. Podkopayeva is going to be doing a clinic there with Mister Yesso himself. Yesso! I should say it like that. Yin Alvarez. Chusovitina and her sidekick Svetlana Boginskaya are going to be there. Chusovitina’s competing. It’s just oh, it looks so awesome and so super fun. So the roster international roster is Jade Barbosa, Afanasyeva is going to be competing, Josh Dixon, we’ll finally get to see him in an international meet, I’m so excited about this. Because he didn’t make the national team this year right?


UNCLE TIM: He was added later.


JESSICA: Oh that’s why. Awesome. Because I was like they just recognized his fabulousness and they put him on because he has beautiful form. Oh that’s exciting. So he’s competing. And then for the US junior we have Bailey Key, Lauren Hernandez, Amelia Hundley, and Nia Dennis which is fierce. They’re going to wipe the field. I mean those four, forget about it. I was kind of surprised that Norah Flately isn’t competing though. What do you guys think of that?


EVAN: I think they’re giving her some time. You know she’s one of those, I mean this crop of juniors that are competing, they’re basically seniors for lack of age if not anything else. So the skills they’re competing right now, they need to get out there and get that international experience. Norah, there’s time for you, don’t worry.


JESSICA: This is true.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I think they just took the top four all arounders from Nationals too. In that order. Bailey, Lauren, Amelia, then Nia. So that seems to be the logic behind that decision.


JESSICA: So International Gymnast originally reported Elizabeth Price or Ebee as she’s known as was going to go to the Mexican Open and to the Stuttgart Cup, but then of course realized that she’s not in fact going to the Mexican Open because those meets overlap. So Ebee is not going. So now there’s two US senior spots that are open for the Mexican Open. And they have not been named yet. So the question is, and our listeners wanted to know, who should the US pick from the seniors to go to that meet? So Evan, I’ll start with you.


EVAN: I am a big proponent of Abigail Milliet. As much of a meltdown as she had this year at P&G, I think she’s beautiful and she brings a ton of great skills to USA Gymnastics. And I think she needs to be tested. Unfortunately a lot of times in domestic meets, there can be overshadowing of other athletes and more storylines. So I think maybe sending her to a smaller event like this one would bode really well for her confidence. And I enjoy her balance beam tremendously. She’s great on bars as well. Do we know if Madison Kocian is better? I don’t know?


JESSICA: I don’t


UNCLE TIM: I don’t either


EVAN: Well if she is, I’m willing that to happen, and I would love to see her compete too. I think she’s going to be a goddess for UCLA. Like the second coming of Yvonne Tousek for them. So if we can see more of her, of course being healthy, I would love to see her out there. Otherwise, there’s still a ton of viable options. I’m going to go with Maggie Nichols. She’s been to a few international meets before, so looking at her, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see her down there.


JESSICA: Uncle Tim, what do you think?


UNCLE TIM: Well, Martha’s attitude is always you want the gymnasts to be on the podium. It doesn’t matter if they win, but you need someone to keep up with Afanasyeva and Roxana Popa of Spain. And I’m guessing that they might send Peyton Ernst. She finished third at was it third at US- third or fourth at US Nationals. And they’re also sending Kim Zmeskal so you might as well send the Kim Zmeskal and the entire Texas Dream litter while you’re doing it.




UNCLE TIM: Might as well send them all.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] the littler like she’s like the mama bear? Cat?


UNCLE TIM: Exactly.




UNCLE TIM: Bring her little babies along


JESSICA: I agree I mean I think top of my list first of all- can you guess who’s top of my list?


UNCLE TIM: Kennedy Baker


JESSICA: Of course. Because first of all Kennedy Baker’s going to go down there and smack everybody in the face with her Patterson. And that’s how it should be done. You should go to a meet like this and you should smack everyone in the face with your fantastic skills. Just being really good and blowing everyone away. No no no. We need to set fireworks off on one of the events. So obviously, Kennedy Baker and her Patteson should go to this meet. Peyton Ernst definitely should go. She deserves it. And I think her placement and her consistency- she had minor problems, minor. I mean compared to all the wobbly routines from the Russians, I’m not worried about Peyton Ernst. Then I have as my alternate if those two want to go, Abigail Milliet. She’s beautiful. I totally agree with Evan. She’s just fantastic. So I would love to see her because she is like the- she would be the complement to Laurie Hernandez I think in the artistry realm. Really bring to show the world that we haven’t forgotten it is in fact called artistic gymnastics. So. But we’ll see what happens. I mean do you guys think it’s too late now since they had two people just say they weren’t going to go, that it might not happen? They might not find two seniors who are ready to compete in a couple weeks?


EVAN: Well I think in the wake of Brenna declining and going or choosing not to take whatever [inaudible] were offered to her, I think will probably send out the message that if it wasn’t already broadcast loud and clear, you need to be ready whenever, wherever, as Shakira said. And [LAUGHS] just be at Martha’s beckon call. Truth be told, the Olympics aren’t next year. So when are you going to prove yourself? How are you going to get these opportunities? You need to seize whatever you can take.


JESSICA: Uncle Tim what do you think?


UNCLE TIM: I could see them not sending anyone. International Gymnast updated their webpage and it’s only one spot designated to America. I could totally see them not sending anyone, just because if no one’s ready and no one looks like they’re going to be on the podium, I think Martha might say no, no one’s going, too bad so sad. And that’s that. And will focus on winning medals at Stuttgart and Glasgow.


JESSICA: Ugh I hate that strategy. So let’s talk about Stuttgart. What comes first, Stuttgart or Glasgow? Stuttgart’s first?


UNCLE TIM: Stuttgart, yeah.


JESSICA: Ok. Let’s discuss.


UNCLE TIM: It’s the same weekend as the Mexican Open. And basically my question for you guys is who do you think’s going to win? So I’m going to list off the competitors on the women’s side first. So let’s go with the women are Carlotta Ferlito, Vanessa Ferrari, Ruby Harrold, Larisa Iordache, Elizabeth Price, Elizabeth Seitz, Guilia Steingruber, and Briannah Tsang from Canada. Aliya Mustafina was originally slated to compete but she withdrew. So who do you guys think is going to win? Let’s start with you Jessica.


JESSICA: Ok. Well Ruby Harrold’s obviously going to win bars and everyone’s hearts. I think that probably it’s going to be Price and Ferrari. They’re going to be 1-2, 2-1. They’re going to be at the top for the women. Then I’m going to vote for my favorites in the men’s department. I’m going to say that John Orozco and Daniel Purvis are going to clean up, win everything. You never know. Orozco could be totally ready. He could have learned a totally different technique. Or he could be embodied by someone else. Legendre could take over his body when he does a takeoff then he could take over again on the landing and he could just be a whole new person on vault. Purvis though, he’s coming up.


UNCLE TIM: You read to much sci fi lately. Watched Freaky Friday or whatever that movie is.


JESSICA: Oh my god I’ve been watching Long Island Medium and The Witches of East End and all these shows. And I’m rereading The Hunger Games. It’s too much. I’m just you know. But a girl can dream. Let’s just say that. So yeah.


UNCLE TIM: So on the men’s side the list is Fabian Hambuchen, Sergio Sasaki, Daniel Purvis, Andrei Lichovisky, Fabian Gonzalez of Spain, John Orozco, and Oleg Verniaiev. What about you Evan? Who do you think’s going to win the women’s and the men’s all around titles?


EVAN: So I feel like Iordache is kind of coming into her own. As long as she’s been around and as highly touted as she’s been, I feel like now she’s kind of riding the wave of alright, I have all these skills, I have kind of that swagger going on, and I think she’s really the next wave of the top of Romanian gymnastics. I think Ebee’s still coming back. Obviously she’s healthy enough to be out there competing. But you know it’s not last year. So I’m going to give Iordache a little bit of an edge over Ebee this time around. But I’d love to see Ebee come out and compete and just bring it back. On the men’s side I would say Sasaki. He’s a really consistent all arounder. And I think his consistency is going to be key at this point. Like I said before, the Olympics aren’t next year. So people are probably going to be trying some new stuff. In terms of Orozco I think it’s great he’s back out there, he’s going to be competing, he’s competing all around correct? Only all around. So he’s back out there on everything.


UNCLE TIM: Mhmm. Jess I’m surprised you didn’t choose Fabian. I know how much you like those hugs.


JESSICA: I do. But I can watch him hug everybody. So I will win either way. It’ll happen. So it’s all good.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. I’m going to go with Elizabeth Price, just because I wanted her to win something this year for a long time. So I’m just going to go with people I want to win, no matter what my mind tells me. And then I’m going to go with Oleg Verniaiev just because I want him to win something as well. It’ll probably be a disaster. He’ll probably fall five times. But I will keep supporting him and his pointed toes till I die.


JESSICA: So speaking of the Eastern bloc, Romania. So there was a report by Bea, who you guys might remember. She was on the show during Worlds when we did our little mini-sodes. She writes for The Couch Gymnast and covers Romania. And she put up breaking news that I mean as usual, Bitang and Bellu, the head coaches for Romania have left the national training center. And they’re in contact about their demands with the Romanian Gymnastics Federation. So I feel like this is what they do every couple years. They leave, they wait somewhere in the sunshine sipping mimosas till their demands are met, and then they return to save Romanian gymnastics. So it’s like breaking news, but seriously this happens all the time. I don’t know. I just- is anything ever going to change there? I mean the report says that they realize that Romanian gymnastics doesn’t have any depth anymore and they really need to restructure the whole system and that’s kind of the part of the contract they’re waiting on. But I don’t know. What do you guys think?


EVAN: First of all, it sounds like the village of Deva needs to get together at dusk, have a processional with plastic cups around candles and like lead Carmen Ionescu and Claudia Presecan into a cathedral. They all need to kiss a crucifix. Then things will be better. That worked for them back in the day. Can’t we go back to these festivals? Rather than lifting demands. I don’t know, that’s the Romania I have in my mind. I know that it’s become so much more sensationalized and commercialized, but I just want them to be having late night parades.


UNCLE TIM: I don’t know how to respond to that.




JESSICA: You just want to put a handkerchief over your head and tie it under your chin.


EVAN: You could agree.


UNCLE TIM: But wasn’t that fluff piece of something completely else? Some festival unrelated to gymnastics, even though they made it look like it was related to gymnastics?


EVAN: Does anything else happen in Deva?




UNCLE TIM: I don’t know, I’ve never been there so I wouldn’t know. But in terms of the sensationalism, I think the title of the Couch Gymnast post was a little on the sensationalized side of things, just because it’s like ok they’re not there, but from the sounds of it doesn’t really sound like they’re leaving. And there’s an update on the Couch Gymnast news page. And it basically said I have not gone anywhere. So they’re just really taking a vacation, which they probably deserve. They’re getting up there in years and it’s not easy to train all these young little girls anymore. And yeah I think they deserve a little break.


EVAN: Do you think there’s an FWB situation going on? There’s a little Bitang is Bellu’s side piece and they’re just they go off on their jaunts together?


JESSICA: Aren’t they married?


EVAN: Are they?


JESSICA: I have no idea [LAUGHS] I always thought they were just because they’re an inseparable pair.


EVAN: I’ve never heard that


JESSICA: I just assumed. I really have no idea.


EVAN: Maybe that’s what the festival was about. A wedding!


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] We’re going to have to ask Bea and get to the bottom of this.


UNCLE TIM: According to Wikipedia they did get married.


EVAN: What?!


UNCLE TIM: In 2008


JESSICA: They just got married in 2008?! So it was a scandalous affair for years!


EVAN: Yeah this was [inaudible] coming full force in terms of a wedding.




JESSICA: This week’s interview from Marceline Goldstein is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. In honor of a circus-related interview, let’s talk about slacklines. They’re like a tightrope but about a thousand times bouncier and super wiggly. They’re also flat, so they don’t hurt your feet as much as a tightrope. Tightropes are ouchy. As we know, nobody likes to do conditioning. But, everyone likes to try to walk the plank over an alligator-filled pit. This is where the slacklines comes in. Slacklines are fantastic for developing core strength, balance, and confidence. What’s even better, they are portable and easy to set up. So your alligator-filled pit can be in a new place each week. Check out the slacklines at That’s




JESSICA: Marceline Goldstein began her career in trampoline and represented Canada at the senior national level. She actually started going to a circus trampoline school when she was 11 and started doing shows at the age of 13. After she was done with her competitive sports career, she toured Korea, Europe, New Zealand, and Singapore doing special events and festivals doing trampoline. She was also- this is crazy. She was the national director for the hip hop group Culture Shock in Canada. If you guys love Jabbawockeez, you would love Culture Shock. They’re amazing. I’m just so impressed with that because Culture Shock is the Cirque du Soleil of hip hop as far as I’m concerned. I love them. She is a senior acrobatic talent scout at Cirque du Soleil and she’s here to tell us all about what it’s like to do her job and how she picks people who will fit well and advises them on being in Cirque du Soleil. This interview was recorded at the NCAA Championships in April 2013.




JESSICA: What if you have someone who’s like- there’s been some great elite gymnasts or great, I’m thinking Kristina Baskett who was absolutely amazing. But as an elite, she could not hit to save her life because she was doing stuff that was way too hard. And then when she got to college, she was amazing. But had she gone to you or had you seen her, she was just incredible but could not hit. If it’s someone who’s like that who’s amazing but is not consistent in competition, is that something that worries you?


MARCELINE: Occasionally, but it’s a very very different context. And you have a lot of support so not all the pressure is on your shoulders. You’ve got a lot a group of physiotherapists and coaches and even artists that are around you to help you succeed. And it’s not all about you. And sometimes it’s maybe the fact they’re in a character that they can succeed and it’s not all the pressure on them. So it’s something I would look at if they’re never performing, but definitely I wouldn’t only focus on that. Because the true desire to want to learn and be on stage and really have that experience with Cirque is more important than what you’re doing in competition. And also we all know people that crack under pressure, being specifically competition pressure. And I can relate to being one of those that either did phenomenally well or phenomenally terrible. So I was actually a very consistent athlete any time in training, any time in shows. But in that moment there was always something that was either way and those were amazing or not. But it’s not my only focus.


JESSICA: So totally sounds like you really understand the difference between performing and competing. I feel like they’re totally different. Because performing you have the ability to cover your mistakes, the ability to make a change on the fly, the ability to create as I like to call it it’s an opportunity for comedy sometimes if something happens so that people shouldn’t worry so much if they’re not- if they haven’t hit every single routine.


MARCELINE: No not at all, not at all. And I think the opposite sometimes I think an Olympic champion who has gold, it’s not really their focus to be within the group and share. They want the spotlight. And it’s totally the opposite at Cirque. You’re sharing it whether you want to or not. And it’s not your show. It’s really 60 people plus techs, plus everyone behind stage that’s really helping making it happen. So you can’t expect all the limelight on you. A lot of the other skills come into play a lot more. And also competition you’re never doing your maximum. You’re trying to just hit once. And at Cirque it’s going to be 470 shows a year so it’s really not at your maximum and trying to maintain that level and mainly stay healthy in the show.


JESSICA: And that perfectly goes with my next question which is kind of if someone has their own- how do I phrase this. Sometimes I wonder if people go into Cirque thinking I’m going to be the centerpiece of this show and it will be created around my magnificence. And I feel like there are some people who maybe do something so incredibly unique, like I’m thinking of there’s the Chinese act who does the ballet on the light bulbs. Something that you’ve just never seen before that maybe yes. Because you’re the only one in the world that does this, yeah that’s a possibility. But do you ever go into it with that- do you ever recruit someone based on one single thing you know is going to be in the show?


MARCELINE: Sure we have a lot of acts in our shows that are called guest acts. And if you want to think of the show that had the ballet on lights, that’s Dralion, Victor Key was in it. So he’s a juggler. He was kind of the main juggling act in Dralion and a big attraction from the show. So now he’s in Amaluna, which is another touring show that’s going to be making their way around the states. And he’s a world renowned juggler and really great mover so he offers something unique in the show. He’s a main character and does a lot throughout the show, but he’d be considered what’s a guest act at Cirque. So that’s something that’s probably a very high level, would’ve reached a lot of different prizes in different competitions really featuring circus acts. And so we do hire people based on those skills. But as far as athletes are concerned, often not because they have to learn a whole bunch of things to even integrate it into the show from acting, dancing, moving, because they’ve been trained for a certain movement that’s really correlated to sport. And there’s other skills they need to compliment in order to do an act in Cirque. So a little bit of a different way that we recruit in sport than in circus.


JESSICA: Has there ever been a situation where I’m thinking about Isabelle Severino who went- she competed at the top level, then she went to Cirque, then she went back to top level competition. Do you ever have anybody who’s gone back and forth? Who’s been like I’m done with sport then they do Cirque then maybe their federation needs them to save does that just happen? We need you to compete again to save our funding?


MARCELINE: I mean in the USA and tumbling world championships we had an artist from La Nouba, a tumbler joined the American team. And she was phenomenal. She was in great shape and really was a great-


JESSICA: Is this the one who’s like 26 or something?


MARCELINE: Yeah, yeah. So that’s a similar story to that. We don’t often have them come in and out. Often once they go to Cirque there’s a lot of examples. People are I wish I did this sooner, or it’s really everything that compliments what I did before and it’s where they want to be. Often even I can say from knowing people I can say this person won’t from communication last year so often I’ll have an artist come back to me and say thanks for guiding me in that direction. But it’s definitely done very respectful which like I mentioned. But often when athletes do come to Cirque they’re definitely happy to be there for a variety of different reason from stability, where they are in life, they’ve already passed through sport and that system and they’re ready to move onto something new. And the first years you’re in Cirque you’re learning a lot. How does this system work? What do I have to do in this show? What’s the balance around that? Because it’s very different when you’re an athlete and you’re doing your own thing versus you’re doing a career. So what’s your life transforming into and I think that’s normal for any collegiate student after university or college life.


JESSICA: I always wonder if there’s anything that for clues in athlete right away. Like that you can’t they’re excluded, they can’t compete, like an injury that’s just you’ve had- or does it totally depend on what they’re doing to do in the show?


MARCELINE: It does depend what they’re doing to do. Everyone who comes through Cirque does go through a medical before they go on a show so they do need to pass that. There is a wear and tear in sport that is normal and it happens in Cirque as well. And so they have adjusted guidelines. It also depends on the job they’ll be doing. So if someone’s a flyer they’re not so much on their legs. And if any kind of athlete has done a really good job on rehab and is back to 100% and full range of motion, everything, there really isn’t too much of a limit. So as long as they pass that, they’re all fine. We’ve only had some random cases where people showed up in a cast without mentioning it. So obviously they could not do the job. But there’s not really anything that excludes someone to being able to do anything.


JESSICA: Cool. I have to ask this, and we mentioned the tumbler from La Nouba who was on the-




JESSICA: Marina yes that’s right. Because I did a profile on my- I have another site, masters-gymnastics, it’s all about adult gymnastics. And I write a lot of profile on older gymnasts. A lot of people think you can’t do gymnastics or do sport when you’re not- when you’re over a certain age.


MARCELINE: You have to look at the 86 year old in Germany or like in Japan actually what’s awesome is I do work with a casting partner in Japan. [inaudible]. And I’ve gone over a couple times. And at their different non student championships they have different divisions. And what’s amazing is they have seniors, still doing giants, I think one even did a tkachev. And so it was a standing ovation and I think that’s something that’s remarkable about that country. It’s like how can we spread that so that even after college gymnastics or even if you’re just doing a rec program you stay active. You stay involved. And that’s something in some countries, Japan does a great job. Also Denmark has a lot of participation in gymnastics. So how can we spread that. And even us and health and wellness spread it. Although Cirque does recruit a certain high level for our show specifically, but really to encourage that whole lifestyle and everything because it’s beneficial to all.


JESSICA: Yes exactly. I wholeheartedly agree. So in that vein, I wanted to ask. You guys have a show in Zumanity, there are two athletes who’ve got to be 60s or 70s. They’re rollerskating. I don’t want to give it away. Am I allowed to say that? Oh my god. Am I giving away the whole show?


MARCELINE: No no no no no no. People will forget anyway, there’s a lot of shows in Vegas to see.


JESSICA: Ok yeah. When they came out on stage I just about fainted. And it’s super acrobatic what they do. And especially for their age. So did you recruit them?


MARCELINE: I personally did not. But there’s a lot of really great talent. I think one of the things in Cirque that’s amazing is that they’re not all 20. So although there are some going on the arena tours that are a little bit younger, party because of the lifestyle. They want to see the world and that’s also the nature of an arena tour. There’s a lot of quite older ones that are sometimes with the company 15, 30 years and I think that’s something that’s really inspiring is even if you apply and you don’t get in your first try or you don’t pass an audition, there’s often feedback given so you can try again. And also once you are in, it’s not just for one or two years. Ideally it’s for a long time. So it’s not uncommon for catchers do their roles for 15, 20 years and really be excellent at it and not break down just because there’s certain maintenance. And a sidebar to that is Cirque really has a low percentage of injuries. So there’s a lot of back stage coaches and physical trainers that really keep things in check and keep athletes in the top of their shape so they can go on stage day in and day out. And so really it’s not uncommon to see in their 30s performing high acrobatic acts and it’s pretty impressive when you really get to see oh my god they’ve been doing it for 15, 20 years and they’re still doing it. And they’re healthier and in amazing shape. So.


JESSICA: That reminds me too that what’s so back to that age thing. What’s the oldest athlete you’ve ever recruited?


MARCELINE: Oldest athlete, good question. I mean we did have an acro sport mixed pair flyer in early, late 30s early 40s. And we had some catchers that were well in their 40s. But with a lot of experience so they come in really solid in their skill. And that’s something that’s really important. As a catcher you want someone who’s responsible, mature, really is there and has that vision. Not someone who’s young and distracted or too motivated to show their own skills that they’re not taking care of the safety of the other ones. So that’s something when you’re in an audition you try to get to know the people to see those skills that are not so concrete and technical but really soft skills. And that’s one of the reason our auditions are so important. It’s really the time with the person. Because anyone can send in a demo. And it’s not uncommon to be recruited only by the demo. But our auditions really are a long full day with a lot of different challenges, artistic and other, to get to know what the person is all about. And for surprises too. Because it’s not uncommon people not to put their full skills on a demo and to explore in a day and you learn they’re also this and this and this. And even when they’re in their 40s that’s great their skill, but a great mover could be a potential for Cirque. It just depends on the fit and the needs of the company and what they’re able to do.


JESSICA: I mean everybody has a different training circumstance but for a lot of elite athletes, and especially depending on the country that they’ve come from, they might have had a really difficult training situation. And it might not be till they are free of that training situation that they’re able to deal with the issues that happened to them. So you might have someone who quits their career then they have an eating disorder they have to deal with. Or they turn to alcohol or drugs because of to deal with now that they’re away from the situation. Do you guys have any kind of programs to support athletes who might be facing those kinds of problems when they come to Cirque?


MARCELINE: Yeah we do have sports psychologists that are on staff. And they have a lot of experience dealing with high level athletes and high levels of pressure. And also nutritionists, athletic therapists, and really there’s quite a bit of support staff to help people if they have any issues that are either they’re coming with or develop along the way. So that’s something I think is part of what even brought me to Cirque is the support staff because you see the coaching expertise is there that accompanies them. Not just in the studio but on the show as well. And the higher level really of management that’s there that ensures people are happy and healthy to be able to perform. So with everything that’s there, the sports psychologists that are understanding that on a Russian bar it’s not maybe something you’ve ever done before and you’re going to be doing a triple with these two guys that need to catch you on a thin bar, there may be a certain level of stress and there’s certain exercises and things you can do because you have the technical expertise to do it. It’s just getting to that skill and feeling confident that you can do it day in and day out. So they definitely accompany along and it’s something really nice to see. Same if someone gets an injury there’s a really solid program to help people get back to 100% and back in the show so they’re back doing what they were doing and moving on with the life they had before.


JESSICA: And so you talked about ethics in sport and maintaining good relationships with sport. And this is one of the things that’s really fascinating to me is you guys have a great relationship with the FIG and you just released your art in sport videos which I love. And I loved seeing the emphasis on that. I was like yes yes everyone pay attention, this is how it’s supposed to be, artistic gymnastics. It’s not gymnastics, it’s artistic gymnastics. So that’s how I feel about that. But one of the things that’s really interesting is how you can recruit out of sport but maintain that relationship. So how do you do it when you see someone you’re interested in or maybe they come to you but maybe they’re not done with their career yet. Like how do you negotiate that say their country still wants them to compete but maybe they’re ready to be done and I can see that being a difficult situation in that.


MARCELINE: Definitely, definitely. And if you look at all over the world, I can take artistic gymnastics in each country there’s a different set of rules and a governing body that operates in different ways. Russia is very different than Canada for example. And what draws gymnasts to stay in sport are very different things. So what casting and Cirque has done is really put out a big transparency to the federations, to coaches, and to athletes in how we recruit in what we’re looking for and the criteria. So what’s most important is when we talk often we’ll have an athlete just apply online is to get the conversation going with their coach, with their federation, so everything is very transparent and out in the open from the athletes wish to the message that we send. So it’s not uncommon to have everyone around a table sometimes at a competition. When we attend a competition for example me being here, I’m very respectful and distant to the competitors. This is their last big meet of their career in college gymnastics. So it’s their moment. And I talk mostly to their coaches. And we have quite a few NCAA female gymnasts come to Cirque in the past few years and that’s because the strong relationship with the coaches. So really our goal is while athletes are in sport to inform them what it’s all about because again it’s not for everyone and really help guide them. If it’s something they’re interested in, here’s the timing they should apply. Which is often before they retire. So to think and also with their coaches involved in that communication they can say this athlete’s more suited to Cirque and might guide them even to that direction. Or this one not at all, they’re interested more in books and pursuing a traditional life or not Cirque performance after. You’ll see on floor some of them that shine are really great for Cirque because they love to put it out there and gymnastics is their passion. And often after college gymnastics they’re not sure where to go. So that’s a specific situation. And different countries you have different ways you operate because there are different laws and rules within the system. So it’s kind of a touchy subject but for us transparency has been the most important thing keeping everyone in the loop. Also there’s lots of people that are vying for a position at Cirque so there’s no one person that we need to take at any given time and putting out that message and making it very clear is something the company’s done. And it’s been really good for them because it keeps a certain trust in the community. And also even as far as laying grassroots and different sports to keep them alive to keep them motivated and often we’ll show videos of the athletes at Cirque to motivate youngsters to stay in sport. Because it’s kind of that ongoing relationship with the federations. If they have good number of gymnasts and then eventually get to elite they may be interested in Cirque after. Maybe not but definitely there’s a codependent relationship.


JESSICA: And do you have like you mentioned helping some of the teams struggling financially right now. Like Ukraine is one they’re kind of bankrupt and they’ve sent athletes home and we on our show were talking about how we should start a fundraising campaign. Like if one of our favorites shaves his head and gets a mohawk then for every time he appears in a meet with a mohawk everyone donates $5 or something. So we’re very concerned about this on the show. We talk a lot about international listeners. So can you give an example of a way where that symbiotic relationship has worked and where maybe you’ve helped out in a situation where a federation or a specific gym or something was struggling?


MARCELINE: Sure. What’s also challenges a lot of people do request Cirque’s help because it is an international platform. And there’s a lot of different ways they do it from a financial donation to different relationships in federations to even implanting a coach even in a place to help them bring the level up. Or even in acrosport for example they’ve done a lot of grassroots program because we saw it becoming a little more extinct and it was something really important not only for Cirque’s survival but also for that sport to survive. So we see it a little bit in tumbling and right now we do have a conversation with them on things they can do because we are a very in tune to what’s going on outside and we do see different things that are possibility that sometimes when you’re there you may not see. So really a lot of the conversation we have is what’s in the best interest, what’s also fair, because we don’t want to favor one over another. And what’s the best way to stimulate the sport because sometimes it can be to a specific area or coach or supporting a federation by perhaps donating a power trak. It’s been done before. Or different expertise that even within the company. And sometimes it’s easy as motivating the youngsters to stay in sport because they’re kind of not sure what they want to do. And they’re almost at that elite level and distracted by things going on. And eventually want to come to Cirque but we tell them stay a couple more years then you’ll have a better chance than right now where you’re not at that level yet.


JESSICA: Right. I love that you mention acrosport because it’s so cool. Growing up I didn’t even know that was a sport.


MARCELINE: It’s awesome


JESSICA: I would’ve totally stayed in gymnastics forever if I had known that was a sport.


MARCELINE: And we have like here part of my present also to help organize, we have a surprise for Sunday’s opening ceremonies. So there might be a little Cirque in that final. So definitely keep your eyes open especially if you like acrosport because there’s a lot of home grown talent that’s really phenomenal in the state.


JESSICA: Yeah. Oh that’s so exciting, people are going to love that. That’s the end of my formal questions for you. Is there anything else you want to add or anything you think people should know?


MARCELINE: I mean what’s interesting is still in this time of where the economy is a little more unstable I think what’s great to see about Cirque si they have the Cirque du Mont program that’s still going on where they do circus in underprivileged communities. So there’s a lot of those different programs going on in focus. So there’s some in South America, and all over the world. So I think that’s something that’s still interesting and held to heart in the company. Not just shows and making a profit. But really helping out underprivileged communities and seeing what they can do with the skills that are there. So that’s something they hold to heart. Then also there’s the One Drop program which is to give healthy water all over the world. And that’s something Gee the owner holds to heart. And there’s quite a bit of efforts there. And I think that’s something. You can check out online on the website at and there’s a lot of really interesting information that shows even in a time where there may be some struggles here and there, there’s still an important message of helping people out and helping the world and being present that I think is something really remarkable in any given company. So definitely check that out. Then you can also look online. There’s a ton of information on There’s tons of videos on the acts if you’re interested in ever joining. Or seeing what gymnastics can bring you to and coming in contact with any one of the scouts or audition schedule. There’s tons of information. You can be all day on that site. And take in a lot.


JESSICA: Awesome




JESSICA: Now let’s talk about the gymternet news. First, Katelyn Ohashi got pretty pissed. And she posted a little note on Instagram. She basically tells everybody to back off. So this is what she said. “There are many different rumors going around and I don’t know where the information has come from. I understand that I haven’t competed in a while but injuries happen and it doesn’t stop people from their goals. I’ve not said or decided anything. So I don’t know where people have got their assumptions from. So I would appreciate it if they stopped.” Mhmm. So. What assumptions do think she’s talking about and did something happen to trigger this? Did someone post something like she’s going back to level 7 that really pissed her off?


UNCLE TIM: I don’t know that anyone posted anything. I’m assuming it’s the talk about her dropping down to level 10. That’s a rumor that’s been going around for quite some time. The other rumor, again I have no confirmation of any of this, but it’s a rumor. People are saying that Valeri has stopped coaching her and so I’m assuming that’s what she’s talking about.

JESSICA: Interesting. Well you know how I love when people say exactly what they’re thinking. So I appreciate that she put it out there and was like, you don’t know what’s going on so shh it. So I like that. Another reason to love her, and her crazy comedy Vine videos. In other fantastic fantasy gymnastics dreams coming true unicorns and rainbows, Nastia posted photos of her and Travis Wall, THE Travis Wall doing choreography for her for the Gymnastics and Skating Spectacular on NBC January 5. Tune in because it’s going to be the best one ever because I don’t know if you just heard me but I said Travis Wall choreography. Yes! Oh my God! Is anyone else as excited about this as I am? Did this thing just get a thousand times better than it’s ever been in the history of it ever happening?

EVAN: It looks pretty good from what I saw. I mean obviously, they’re two mega powers of gymnastics and dance colliding in rhythmic unison. So it looked good! I’m intrigued. I’m definitely intrigued.

JESSICA: He did her elite routine and then she ended up not competing floor so we never got to see it. And then we sort of got to see a dance through that she released a little while ago. I mean we might finally see like a full- AH! I’m so excited! You know, I never watch this thing because I can’t it in general. But I mean, I’m going to be glued to the TV. So whoever’s genius idea this was, Nastia, Travis, if it was the producers….doesn’t Zert put this on? Is he a producer? Am I imagining that? Paul Zert? Does he have something to do with this?

EVAN: No idea

JESSICA: I could totally be imagining that. If this has nothing to do with him then never mind. Whoever decided that, you’re a genius. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. In other news, Nastia has resigned as the athlete rep. We knew there was an election for athlete rep and it was Sacramone vs. Beth Tweddle and Beth Tweddle won at World Championships, that position. And so Nastia has resigned as athlete rep because of a conflict of interest. So I’m imagining this is because she’s an NBC commentator. Is that what you guys think? I don’t know what the conflict of interest is but I’m assuming that’s what it is. Let’s talk about Movember. The Mo, this is what people call mustaches. It’s a thing where men grow their facial hair. You guys know how I feel about facial hair, except for chops. Why can’t we have chops November? I would be totally for that. But anyway, it’s a good cause. You see a guy with a mustache, you’re supposed to reach down and do a self-exam really quick. That’s my understanding of the movement. So Uncle Tim has made the most fantastic infographic in which we identify trends in facial hair in gymnastics. And then we gave our pros and cons for each. And it is fantastic. And one of the people who recognized that it is fantastic is Chile’s own Tomas “Porn Stache” Gonzalez. We have mentioned him many times. We are big fans on the show. He retweeted it because we’re awesome. And he was also in an H&M ad, looking all ready for the- what are the mountains down there in Chile? The famous mountains?


JESSICA: The Andes with the alpacas. Alpacas right? Llamas, alpacas, some kind of large animal that spits when you shave the fur off to make things out of.

UNCLE TIM: Mustaches, you make mustaches out of them.

JESSICA: Anyway, he’s looking very rugged. Very rugged. Ready for the Andes. Okay. So check out the infographic. We’ll put up his excellent H&M ad where he’s looking very chic. And then, also speaking of mustaches, Oleg Stepko posted a video of him doing a triple full, triple back of p-bars. A triple back. That’s nuts. That’s insane. Nuts, see? Movember. Evan, what’s your take on the triple back?

EVAN: I can’t even. Oh gosh.

UNCLE TIM: Sorry, I thought you were going to say what’s your take on nuts?

[Laughter from the group]

EVAN: She’s contracting.

JESSICA: Okay carry on. Just ignore me.

EVAN: So a triple back off p-bars is one of those great, I don’t want to call it an exhibition skill but what is he going to put before this triple back? I think it should be peach, back toss and then like five seconds of just breathing before going for a triple effing back. So I think it’s a cool skill to have. I think it’s good to engage people on the internet and create conversation but if you’re going to chuck that in competition, I have a hard time believing…better start preparing for Rio right now just doing the same repetitions over and over again. I don’t know if we’re ever going to see that.

JESSICA: Uncle Tim, what do you think?

UNCLE TIM: We also don’t know how high the parallel bars were, if they were above regulation size. So I don’t know. The skill just scares me. I think he’s the only guy who’s ever thrown a triple back off parallel bars. It just always looks like the guy’s kneecaps are going to go through his eyeballs. That’s what it always looks like. I don’t know. I agree. I don’t think it’s a skill that we’re ever going to see in the near future. I mean we don’t even see triple backs on floor anymore.

EVAN: It’s at the end of a trampoline routine when they absorb all of their momentum and that huge recoil goes through their body. I’m like how is that ever good? And it’s like required of them. Can we like just gently land? No. Like abrupt.

JESSICA: The one thing I thought when I saw this was obviously, it’s awesome. If I ever did a triple back, I would of course post a video of it online. But I was wondering if this is one of those things that I feel like male gymnasts do way more than female gymnasts, which is if you’re doing a double back you train a triple. You know, you always do something harder than what you’re actually going to compete. Or do you think this is just too insane? You would never do this just so you would have an awesome double back?

EVAN: I don’t know what kind of Communist regime you’re taunting but I always just did the hardest stuff I could do and just prayed that it somehow came together. So in terms of being like oh no, I’ll just do this obscurely, insanely hard skill so I can do an easier one later, that isn’t happening. I’m going to say no. I’m just going to say no on that.

UNCLE TIM: I can just hear Jess coaching “No you can’t do a backward roll yet in your routine. You have to master a double back before you can do a backward roll, child. What are you thinking?” Mykayla Skinner’s the same way. She’s training some crazy skills and she only competes much easier skills. It’s not just a dude thing. Or she trains like a dude. I don’t know how you want to look at it.

JESSICA: Well that would explain a lot. Well I would just like to say it was Coach Rick, who coached in the gym with Kyle Shewfelt who pointed this out and was talking about this. So when we talk to Kyle Shewfelt next time, we will ask about this. What particular skills did you do that were an example of this? We’ll get to the bottom of this. I will not be mocked! Alright I will. So what’s happening in video news on the gymternet?

UNCLE TIM: Well besides the triple back, we have found some old videos of Simone Biles from 2011 doing a Yurchenko double back and a double layout full out. Jess, what were your thoughts on those videos?

JESSICA: Well I love watching them because you almost never see, it’s so rare. I think I can think of two other times I’ve ever heard of a woman or seen a video of a woman doing a Yurchenko double back. The last one I’m thinking of is London I’m forgetting her last name. London, she went to SCATS.

EVAN: Phillips

JESSICA: Phillips yeah. And this is of course totally true for men but it’s a totally unforgiving skill. Once you go for it, that’s it. There’s no way to bail out. So it has be so perfect. And he was like oh it’s totally not worth it. The other person who did it was a Yurchenko double pike which was….who was at UCLA with Jamie Dantzcher and she got kicked off the team and then she was back on? Always wore short sleeved leos?

EVAN: Shavahn Church?

UNCLE TIM: Jeanette

JESSICA: Jeanette Antolin

EVAN: I thought she did a Tsuk, it was a Tsuk double pike.

JESSICA: I thought it was a Yurchenko double pike. Was it Tsuk? I could be wrong.

UNCLE TIM: It’s a Yurchenko yeah.

JESSICA: Yeah she did those too. I mean I think it’s totally a possibility. It could totally be done. I mean clearly McKayla Maroney could do it right now. No problem. The thing is, is it going to be worth it? Is it worth it when you have that moment where you don’t land well? I mean obviously she’s not like close to doing the Yurchenko double back here but if anyone could do it and if there’s going to be a race between Biles and Maroney, it would be very exciting to see someone throw the double back. I was excited to say the least.

UNCLE TIM: And Liz Tricase also threw one back in the day and hit a couple times I know. So yeah. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone actually competes this on the women’s side. It’s not like there are too too many guys doing this on the men’s side. Evan did you ever try one?

EVAN: My time with Yurchenkos was very short and not productive so no. No I did not. The one thing I did notice about Simone and the video was I know that it wasn’t done in any seriousness. But she looks out of control. It was like touch the horse and pull and just keep pulling forever. So I think that’s kind of the caveat to these flipping skills. Until you can earnest that power and you almost need to come out early every time to start seeing the landing. But with coming out early, you also risk landing severely short. So like Uncle Tim mentioned, with the amount of guys doing it now and still doing it unsuccessfully, I would say women are going to go the route of twisting more so than flipping.

JESSICA: Meh. You’re probably right but I also like to see that there’s a gym where someone with her talent can play and play with really fun stuff. And it doesn’t have to be after you’re done with your career. It can just be like hmm today let’s play around with new skills.

EVAN: Right and out of control comes with the asterisk of it’s still beautiful technique and impeccable form. It’s done well.

UNCLE TIM: And then the other big video that we’ve seen was Danusia Francis’s transverse aerial, her Pelaez into a full off the side of the beam. Not a Gainer full, just a full off the side of the beam. Jess why don’t you start with this one.

JESSICA: I lost my mind when I saw this. I was so excited. Literally, I got tears. Like tears of joy. I know ridiculous. And it’s not even, it’s not like a Yurchenko double back. But first the transverse aerial, who is it named after again, Pelaez?

UNCLE TIM: Yeah of Florida

JESSICA: Yes Pelaez. And there’s another gymnast at Florida who did it too. Was it Eaton? Eaton she had like two last names.

UNCLE TIM: I think you’re thinking of Alabama, Geralen Stack Eaton.

JESSICA: Oh yeah. No that’s not who I’m thinking of. Ugh anyway, there’s a gymnast I’m sure. Who is it? I will remember her name right now. Blonde, she got in trouble for accidentally stealing sunglasses. Didn’t she do one?

EVAN: What?

JESSICA: Remember the one

UNCLE TIM: This is what I have to deal with Evan.

JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Because I can never remember anyone’s name. Like if you could look into my head, you would recognize them right away. I can’t remember anyone’s name. You know the one that was blonde and she had a really cool floor routine and she’s very thin.

EVAN: Corey Hartung?

JESSICA: Yeah! Didn’t she do one? I will fact check myself. Corey Hartung. Note to self. Back to Danusia. Tears of joy. It’s not even that it’s so incredibly hard. It’s so unique and unexpected. It’s just so original and cool and you know how I love that kind of thing. Anything that makes me go *gasps* and watch it fifteen times is my favorite thing ever. It’s just great. I’m so excited. What did you guys think? Did you cry too?


EVAN: No tears were shed as of yet. I don’t know. There might still be time. I agree with you. It’s so different. Like why the heck hasn’t anyone done that? Why have we waited so long to see this dismount, even a full standing off the side of the beam instead of a gainer whatever whatever. But I think it’s a really cool setup. The one thing that entered my mind and I want to say that Danusia will hit it 10 times out of ten, any situation. But if you’re off at all, you’re left with very little option. So I was like whew. Hopefully we see that in her competitive routine but we do know that she has a lot of other options for dismounts. So I hope it makes it in but it’s a big risk.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah I would not throw that on podium because I would end up on the judges’ faces.

JESSICA: Do a Purvis.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah I’d have a little Purvis incident. But then again, I’m not Danusia. I don’t have the guts she has. I mean I don’t start my floor routine with my foot behind my head. So you know, we’re very different people. The bad thing though is guess how much connection bonus she gets for doing this in NCAA?

JESSICA: Four tenths, four tenths!


JESSICA: What?! Shut up!

UNCLE TIM: No connection bonus. The only way to get connection bonus in NCAA is through a flight series with three skills. So you have to have three skills to actually get connection bonus in NCAA for the dismount.

JESSICA: I protest. I protest this in the strongest way possible. I’m offended. There should be an exception. Isn’t that like a D?

UNCLE TIM: It’s an E into a B.

JESSICA: An E into anything should be a giant bonus. The judges should just throw their pencils into the air and walk away. You should win! That’s all there should be to it. Well, I’m going to have to put this in my letter to the NCAA. Corey Hartung did do the transverse aerial and she did go to the University of Florida although I’m not sure she competed it there. But we will find out. The gymternet will tell us. Gymternet, please give us the answer. But anywho ok. What else happened in video news?

UNCLE TIM: One second sorry. Oh wait what happened to Maroney’s

JESSICA: Oh yeah I took those out.

UNCLE TIM: Alright. And then also in video news, we have Utah’s leotard reveal. Yeah they just wore their leotards and had dramatic lights. I mean deep down inside, I’m just a grumpy old man and so I find this completely obnoxious that they’re doing this. I mean I don’t care about leotards. I just care about what they do in the leotards so I would have been okay with this video had they actually done gymnastics instead of showing me close ups of their thighs and their boobs where they have a giant U. What about you Jess? You’re very big on the leotard fashion.

JESSICA: Well number one, genius marketing. Genius marketing. I bet they got a ton of hits on that video. And it’s a leotard reveal. And people love fashion. People love leotards. You know there’s kids on Instagram that have the entire Instagram account dedicated to adjusting people’s leos and doing different colors and getting people’s feedback on it. It’s a huge deal. So I think it’s genius marketing. It’s another one of Greg Marsden’s great ideas. Now I did feel a little uncomfortable watching the video because they zoomed in on their chest. Now gymnasts on this team, the people they used were not super well endowed so it wasn’t that uncomfortable but it was definitely uncomfortable. I mean if I was on that team, I would have been like forget it. I’m not going to be in that video. Like no. It’s exploitative. You’re zooming in on sex parts so i will not be doing this. But that’s just how I feel about it. Evan what did you think?

EVAN: Meh. Meh in general is my thought on the matter. I mean I can look at a leotard and be like yeah it’s nice, whatever. I, like Uncle Tim, would rather watch what they’re doing in the leotard gymnastically. But none of them are really even that exciting. So it’s not like they’re bringing anything new or interesting to the table in terms of their fashion choices. I’m shrugging. I’m shrugging repeatedly over here.

JESSICA: What if men had more exciting leos? Your leos are just blah. Would you guys be excited if they were cooler?

EVAN: I think there’s probably some options to customize and stuff but it depends on who your school has an agreement with, the manufacturer for your uniforms and stuff. But I was always happy with what I wore. For me to get very nostalgic, it’s all about what you’re representing. I guess for guys you almost take a bit of a back seat to the flash and the rhinestones and the retina-tearing sequins and all that stuff. So that’s where I sit with that.

JESSICA: Ok so speaking of retina tearing sequins, or as we know that Oregon gymnast got a rhinestone injury, a cut down the side of her cheek last year. Have you ever suffered a leotard related injury? Either of you.

UNCLE TIM: What? How would that, no! It’s not something you wear in practice. I mean I have seen coaches grab a girl by the leotard and they get a giant wedgie.  But since it’s not really something that I wore on a regular basis, no I never got one. I mean I had my coach smack me in the junk doing spots but not leotard related.

JESSICA: [LAUGHS] smack you in the junk. Oh I kicked my coach in the balls so many times. I felt so bad.

UNCLE TIM: doing handstands

JESSICA: What did you say?

UNCLE TIM: testing to handstand

JESSICA: It was more like a squat through for me. Very dangerous. Very dangerous skill. Evan how about you?

EVAN: I avoided in any type of…I actually called it either a step in or a body suit or a uniform. I never referred to mine as a leotard. I think that’s also like a regional thing, like some areas of the nation call it different things. But no. I was always just really, put it on. I mean sometimes at practice, we would wear them but it was usually for like intrasquads or something a bit important. Yeah they weren’t really tossed around all that often.

JESSICA: A step in?

EVAN: Yeah a step in. It’s also a verb.

JESSICA: A step in. I’ve never heard that, unitard.

UNCLE TIM: No they called it a singlet so that little boys would not think it’s girly so they called it a singlet where I was from.

JESSICA: The shortest cut singlet ever. Another question because I was just noticing this when I was watching trampoline. The guys, ok so I feel like the bottom of your singlet should be the same color as your shorts so that your underwear part isn’t as noticeable. The guys, like when they would sit on the couch if they had a different color than their shorts, it was like super obvious we were looking at their underpants. So don’t you guys agree with me as everyone should that the shorts color and the unitard color should match?

EVAN: I don’t really have a thought on that.  I guess looking back, that’s very much so kind of not the norm at all. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a really well matching crotch area. So I think you’re alone in wanting that or wishing you could see that.

UNCLE TIM: When you’re a little boy, that’s not what you’re thinking about. Yeah you just wore whatever underwear you had and you were totally oblivious to the fact that you were wearing white pants and the entire world could see your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles underwear or whatever you were wearing that day.

JESSICA: Oh my God. Well I never really noticed this before until trampoline where basically, their knee is at the same level as the camera. I was like um excuse me. I’m trying to see his reaction, not up his shorts.

EVAN: Were you? Were you?


UNCLE TIM: Stacey Ervin

JESSICA: I don’t know what you’re talking about. So moving on, let’s play guess which country this gymnastics story comes from. So a man was jailed for slandering a gymnast. The 47-year-old man was sentenced to six months in prison, two years of probation and 80 hours of community service for posting unfounded malicious comments about this gymnast on the internet eight times. He also alleged underhanded dealings in her university admission. Any guesses?

UNCLE TIM: I’m going with North Korea and rhythmic gymnastics. It just seems like a rhythmic gymnastics scandal because yeah. There’s so many scandals on that side. And it seems like North Korea to me.


EVAN: I’m going to go with Russia. Good ole’ Russia.

JESSICA: Like he’s in jail with Pussy Riot?

EVAN: Yeah except Pussy Riot all of a sudden disappeared on a train to some other prison.

JESSICA: Right?  God, we’re going to find out that they were poisoned with uranium cake and they’re going to end up like that reporter. I’m telling you. Putin-gate all over again. Well, the winner is Uncle Tim. Rhythmic gymnastics and not North Korea so I have to take a point away but South Korea.

UNCLE TIM: Oh so close.

JESSICA: Now the question is if it was this easy to sue for slander in gymnastics here, would we the gymternet have to cease to exist? Are we not a big enough sport to have these kind of lawsuits? Will we know we’ve made it when fans are being put in jail for slandering gymnasts?

EVAN: It’s an interesting thought. I see the process in terms of professional sports. You see it happen a lot I feel like. And even broadcasters of professional sports and things that happen to them. It’s kind of another universe and if gymnastics could ever catapult into that, I feel like it would be a lot more commonplace. There have been situations with Shawn Johnson and that incident where she was being stalked pretty soon after the Olympics. I think it was while she was on Dancing with the Stars. There was some prosecution involved there. I think that’s a lot of what will be associated with the sport in terms of legal matters. In terms of slandering online, I think that’s just the first amendment protects my internet speech as well. I think we’re okay there.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah in America it’s so hard to win a slander lawsuit because you have to prove that the statement was false. You have to prove that the statement was made to others. And you actually have to prove that the statement caused you harm which is probably the hardest one of those prongs to actually prove. And so, I don’t know what you would have to do in order to actually get in trouble for slandering an athlete. It would be really hard.

JESSICA: So let’s go from slander to our gymnerd survey results. And we have to hear how Evan would have voted. So what happened in our poll?

UNCLE TIM: First question Evan. Who would win in an arm wrestling match? Last week, Jess was talking about how buff Jordyn Wieber was and said something to the effect that Ryan Wieber was probably jealous of her body growing up because she was so buff. So who would win in an arm wrestling match Jordyn or Ryan?

EVAN: I think Jordyn. I think the forearm, yeah I think she’s got this one on lock.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah the gymternet definitely agrees with you. 88% said Jordyn and 12% said Ryan. So not much faith in Ryan. Hmm oh well. So the other question was so how much did you love Paul Ruggeri’s routine on uneven bars? One being no just no. Five being oh my God best thing ever. What about you Evan? How much did you love it?

EVAN: I loved it! I loved it. You spend so much time gripping high bar. You go over to girls’ bars and you’re like what the heck? How does this work? For him to kind of pick it up naturally and he’s just such a talented trickster in every sense of the word. For him to be able to do that and execute skills well and make it look good and have some flow, I mean more power to him. Go for it!

UNCLE TIM: So five oh my god best thing ever was the most, the highest, can’t speak. So five, oh my god the best thing ever

JESSICA: [LAUGHS] See what I have to put up with?

UNCLE TIM: It was the number one answer. Which makes me wonder whether Make It or Break It was right? Do the gymnastics fans secretly want to see the guys try the women’s events and vice versa? What did you guys think?

JESSICA: Yes without question.

EVAN: Yeah I think it’s a pretty novel idea. I think it would just be, I don’t know. I struggle with that. it’s interesting.

JESSICA: I mean it’s vice versa, to see the women do p-bars and high bar, that would be awesome. Plus that’s where we’re all going to have to go eventually anyway because it needs to be gender equal and men have too many events and it’s not fair. We’ll discuss that at a later date. That’s a whole other topic. Let me just drop that bomb one more time.

UNCLE TIM: Let’s put it out into the gymternet ether and let’s move on. Alright so the next question was do you think all gymnastics meets should have a kiss and cry little booth and Jess definitely does. What about you Evan?

EVAN: I think it’s a really cool concept. I struggle with the meet organization. You saw Secret Classic this year with the junior women’s competition. How many were there, like 48 competitors? So it’s like okay when do we do this? Is it only senior competitions? Is it only finals? I think there’s a lot of technicalities to be worked out. And if people want to get moving, I just think that the drama can be held to the very very end.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah it’s a lot easier with something like ice skating where there’s only one rink and everyone has to wait for the next performer whereas gymnastics, it’s a four or six ring circus. Our listeners thought that, 54% said that yes this is a great idea. So 54% were on Jess’s side and 46% said no.I don’t want to see gymnasts waving at the camera all the time. It’s kind of almost straight down the middle.

EVAN: Don’t we already see gymnasts waving at the camera? I feel like it’s pretty unofficial. I feel like we get some good personality in those fleeting moments of camera time between events. I’m satisfied.

UNCLE TIM: Jess, any comments because this is your big moment.

JESSICA: My moment. I just think it can be done selectively for finals. Obviously yeah meets with like 48 kids is way too many. Someone made a really good point on Twitter. They said wouldn’t you rather see someone sit there and talk to their coach than run over and take off their grips and put their butts toward the camera? And that’s the thing. They follow them around and wait for their reaction anyway. Why not get some more money for the sport, get some sponsors and sit them down and have them wait for a sec? I mean, we know who the leaders are. It doesn’t take that long, except when you have to rotate because the last person up has to totally run. I don’t know. I think it could be done for finals.

UNCLE TIM: So I remember this Twitter conversation from a little while back. Michael Buckley did the US Figure Skating Nationals and he was in the kiss and cry booth. And then he’s tweeted at USAG and Scott Bregman and said oh you guys should have me do it. And Scott said we’re thinking about it or something to that effect. Or we’ll think about it. So that was around US Nationals time. So yeah it might happen. Who knows?

JESSICA: Or it could be Evan. That would be okay with me too.

EVAN: I like that idea better.

JESSICA: Maybe you guys could test out. They could do some with you and some with Michael Buckley. And then you could have like a handstand contest to decide. Have the gymnasts vote. Or the gymternet vote. That would be even better.

EVAN: I would be humbled. He’s hilarious.

JESSICA: He is hilarious. A little spazzy though. But he’s awesome. I love him. If you guys don’t follow him on Twitter or his videos, they are so funny. I wanted him to do a recap video for gymnastics for so long. I hope he does it because he’s hilarious. His dogs and his drinking in the morning. I enjoy him very much.

UNCLE TIM: He did it for the Olympics during 2012. So if you go back in his archives, you can find them. And finally, our last question is besides artistic gymnastics, which gymnastics discipline would you like to see more coverage of? Acro, aerobic, rhythmic, trampoline, or tumbling? Evan?

EVAN: I’m going to go with trampoline purely because I was watching, I was as bad gym fan and I only watched very randomly the women’s semi final of the trampoline competition. And I was legitimately hanging on the edge of my seat. You don’t know if they’re going to land. Four of the girls didn’t land on the trampoline. You’re just sort of like nope you fail. Get off. You’re out of there. And I kind of admire that. That drama and it’s almost like a one shot deal. Just getting back up on the pommel horse or getting back up on the beam, you get off the trampoline and you go and look at that 22.4 instead of your 54 or whatever. I thought that was really intense so I’m going to go with trampoline.

UNCLE TIM: What about you Jessica?

JESSICA: Well I voted because I vote in the polls. I love voting. I want my voice to be heard.

UNCLE TIM: How very American of you yes.

JESSICA: Yes it’s very important to me. Even though I get to talk about it all the time, I still need to vote. I feel really good when I get the thank you and that it’s been counted. So I voted for acro because I love acro so much. I should have done acro. I would have loved it. But I was just like Evan, watching trampoline. Oh my God. It’s gripping. It’s exciting. There’s some fantastic crashes but I’m so much less worried about them getting hurt in trampoline which sounds totally ironic since they’re already four feet in the air just on top of the trampoline bed, let alone flying in the air. Because there’s all those spotters and the extra mats and the have the person who throws the mat in to stop your crash. But it’s so exciting to watch. And now I’m like oh my God should we make a new rule that a fall in gymnastics, you’re done? That’s it? You shall leave the podium like they do in trampoline? Now it’s all I can think about. Evan’s totally changed my mind.

EVAN: Yes!

UNCLE TIM: What about double mini though? That is some scary crap!

JESSICA: You just said double mini and my palms are sweating immediately. Literally they are sweating.


JESSICA: Yeah that’s a different sport altogether.

UNCLE TIM: So our listeners, 41% said they’d like to see more power tumbling, 24% said trampoline, 18% said acro, 16% said rhythmic, and 1% said aerobic. I think aerobic only got one vote. But yeah I guess it doesn’t really surprise me that people say tumbling and trampoline. Not only are they cool but they are two sports that are very easy for artistic gymnastics fan to understand. Because you know what a double twisting double layout is. You know what a triple back is. So yeah it’s a little bit easier for us to understand. So our international listener shoutout goes to Anna Isbake from Sweden. She is one of our active Facebook followers. So thank you Anna for following us and being so conversational, is that the word?


EVAN: Yeah that’s good.

ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: Visit That’s sports with a z and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast. So I want to let you guys know how to support the show if you enjoy listening. You can leave us a voicemail. Remember no one will answer the phone. Don’t worry. It’s just a voicemail system. You can call us 415-800-3191. Our Skype username is Gymcastic Podcast. That’s how you can call us for free from wherever you are in the world. You can shop our Amazon store. Evan have you done any Christmas shopping yet or any Thanksgiving shopping?

EVAN: Not as of yet. I’m holding out. I’m a really great last minute holiday shopper.

JESSICA: Oh excellent. Well when you do your shopping, if you just click through our Amazon store through Gymcastic, a little portion of what you buy goes back to supporting the show. It’s fabulous.

EVAN: I know that. I know Gymcastic is looking to stuff a lot of stockings this year.

JESSICA: That’s right. Also to support the show, you can download the Stitcher app. It works on all devices including Android. You can subscribe to the show and have it delivered directly to your email with a little blurb about what we talk about that week and also any videos that we discuss. I find this very nice. I would like to, if I was not the person who already put it together and redo it ten times when I was editing, I would subscribe that way. We also post all the routines we can on our website so you can watch while you listen. You can recommend the show to a friend. You can like us on Facebook. You can rate us and write a review on iTunes. You guys also asked for ways to support the show. You can donate directly. There’s a button the website so you can donate. You can email us at We read all of your emails. You can also follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Google Plus. Next week, I’m so excited about next week you guys. Like so so so excited. Do you know who’s going to be on next week?


JESSICA: I’ll give you a hint. It’s someone who has been essential in deciding who was on the last Olympic team and the last World team.

EVAN: Steve Rybacki

UNCLE TIM: Jessica O’Beirne

JESSICA: [LAUGHS] No. Olympic medalist.

EVAN: Terin Humphrey

JESSICA: YES! I’m very excited. We’re going to ask her who was the person she threw all her papers up in the air and demanded that they were put on the team. I’ve been wanting to know that so bad since she gave that TV interview. So totally excited to talk to Terin Humphrey and find out all the background on what happens with deciding who makes the team. So until next week, I’m Jessica

UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim

EVAN: And I’m Evan

JESSICA: See you guys next week.


JESSICA: Uncle Tim made this fantastic, I need to start this whole thing over. Let me start that over. Like the hairy nuts thing

EVAN You got so upset for a moment.


JESSICA: Did I just offend over 90% of all humans on earth? That’s my goal. Alright let me start that over. Thank God we never do this show live.

UNCLE TIM: Alright so that’s enough of the internet gymternet poll. Now let’s talk about international listener shoutout. It goes to Anna crap where did I put her name in my life.

EVAN: Anna f my life from Poland.

JESSICA: That needs to be a Tumblr name



[expand title=”Episode 60: The Second Most Powerful Woman in Gymnastics, Terin Humphrey”]

TERIN: She says what’s on her mind and that’s her best quality. And what I’ve learned most about her is speak your mind. Don’t be afraid. Your opinions matter so don’t be afraid to talk about them. And that’s one of things of why me and Martha get along so well is because I actually speak up. Everybody else around her kind of agrees with her and doesn’t give her another side. So me being there, I can kind of give her my point of view from the athlete.


[Express Yourself intro music plays]


JESSICA: This week, Trautwig loses it, Elite Massilia has some amazing new debuts and Olympic silver medalist and the second most powerful woman in all of gymnastics, Terin Humphrey is here and gives us a very candid and entertaining interview.

ALLISON TAYLOR: Hey gymnasts. Elite Sportz Band is a cutting edge compression back warmer that can protect your most valued asset, your back. I’m Allison Taylor on behalf of Elite Sportz Band. Visit We’ve got your back. This is episode 60 for November 20, 2013. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.

BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from The Gymnastics Examiner

UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym

JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the cosmos, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. On Charlotte’s, the trampoline episode that we did with Charlotte, we mentioned a kid named Brandon Kryznefski. And we mentioned, Marina did an interview with him on Gymnastike and he is now a world champ. That’s right. So you guys should check out that interview and I think that’s really exciting that Marina totally called that and picked that kid out. He just looks like one of those people that just loves loves loves what he’s doing. So another US world champ. No biggie. Also in the news this week, NCAA signing week results. Now not everything is totally in. There’s still some holes, like Georgia still has a hole to fill so it’s going to be interesting. You guys should check out The Balance Beam Situation, our favorite NCAA gymnastics blog. But some of the most exciting things, some we knew about but just a little rundown of what I think is the most exciting. Elizabeth Price is going to Stanford, awesome for her. Very stoked for California. Brenna Dowell is going to Oklahoma. I think that’s a huge huge deal. What do you think? Do you think it’s like a Hollie Vise huge deal or just huge?

UNCLE TIM: I’m curious how Brenna will do in NCAA with their difficulty is not supposed to outweigh execution. And so it’ll be interesting to see what she does and how she does with watered down routines. But I think it could be excellent for Oklahoma.

JESSICA: Yeah I think in terms of recruiting, it’s a big deal to get her. Aja Monet Sims is going to Alabama. If you guys have never seen her or don’t remember her, she is a performer. If you put, who would you put together. She’s like if Laurie Hernandez and you know how I love to do these analogies. If Laurie Hernandez and give me a minute.



UNCLE TIM: She’s ineffable. You can’t even find the words.

JESSICA: No I can’t because I can’t think of anybody honestly that performs like her. She’s just really really unique. I was going to say a little Johnson Scharpf but Johnson Shcharpf sort of has a little bit of like a gives face a little bit. I love her but a little bit cheerleadery. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just mean that in a snap the head this way. Snap the head that way, you know, turns it on. Aja Monet Sims, I could see her on Broadway. She’s amazing. She’s in a whole different category. She’s just lovely. So hopefully Alabama won’t give her a trashy techno routine. That’s right Alabama. You heard me. I said that. Do not ruin her with a trashy techno routine. I’m expecting great things from her so let’s keep it classy. Kennedy Baker is going to Florida where hopefully she will do the Patterson and just win everything. Please can we just see that some more? That’s all I want. Abigail Milliet, do you remember her from last year?

UNCLE TIM: From last year or from this season?

JESSICA: Was it this season? Oh my gosh. By the way, it’s still 2013.

UNCLE TIM: We were just talking about her last week actually during the podcast.

JESSICA: It’s 2013 still. Yes so we love her. And she’s a glorious beam worker. She’s a little a little shaky. She definitely needs a little more consistency but she’s going to Auburn and the Auburn coach is the guy who used to be at Utah. Utah is known for their super consistency so, except when they get to NCAAs and then they always have a fall. But I think that he could do great things with her, making her more consistent. Hopefully she’ll stick around because oh she’s just glorious. We love her. And then can we just talk about how much we’re loving Maddie Gardiner from Canada at Oregon?

UNCLE TIM: Yeah what do you love about her?

JESSICA: She’s just, she’s kind of like an Abigail Milliet. She’s bringing the elegance and the dance transitioning directly into tumbling effortlessly and without pause, fluidly the way it is supposed to be done. I love it about her. I’m really enjoying watching the videos coming out of Oregon right now. And honestly, that makes me really happy because when she was an elite, you know she was alright but I didn’t really notice her. But now that she doesn’t have to do seven thousand flips in one routine, I can really appreciate her gymnastics. So and this is of course what we love about NCAA.

UNCLE TIM: And to give our listeners an idea of what we’re talking about, she does one of those wolf tuck stand turns that everyone’s doing in elite, but then she finishes it and goes straight into a split on the balance beam and it’s just really fluid and really cool.

JESSICA: Yeah it’s not like one of those where she has to stop and it’s like she might go to the bathroom and then she goes all the way down to the split (laughs). It’s really pretty. It’s so hard to do that and make it look pretty so hats off to her. We’ll be looking forward to seeing more of her. Also The Couch Gymnast has an NCAA master meet calendar. Not only do they have a master meet calendar for NCAA but they have color coded it for the gymternet’s most anticipated meets. So thank you Couch Gymnast for that. We are loving that calendar. Please give us more things like that in the future. We love it.

UNCLE TIM: It’s true. I already told my boyfriend that we can’t do anything on Saturday January 25 so that I can watch Utah vs. UCLA and Friday January 31 so that I can watch Florida vs. Oklahoma.

JESSICA: Yeah these are extremely important, extremely important meets. So what happened over in Europe this weekend?

UNCLE TIM: Well it was Elite Masillia and it was one of those meets with lots of spotlights and stuff. It was like an episode of Make It or Break It basically. In terms of results and all around, Larisa Iordache won and then in second was Andreea Munteanu of Romania and in third was Ekaterina Kramerenko. What did she do Jess besides get a giant wedgie?

JESSICA: Well it wasn’t that bad. Clearly the leotard cannot hold her butt back because her butt was doing some work. The butt of course the jumping muscle in case you didn’t know. So she does an Arabian stuck. Then she goes into a double layout and then at the end of her routine, she sticks a triple full, STICKS a triple full. That’s crazy! And not only that, she dances. I mean, she actually dances. And not only does she actually dance instead of going pose pose pose, she does a really cool dance. Up on our Instagram, I took two little videos of my favorite parts. She does like this cool spinny turn from standing right into a backspin. And I mean who doesn’t love a backspin? It’s like a Mohawk. And then she does this cool thing where she’s laying on her stomach and then she does this jump in the air like I’m arching my back. It’s very cool. This isn’t the kind of thing you describe on radio. It’s like a prone position jump to single stag arch. Hey that was pretty good right?


JESSICA: I’m patting myself on the back right now. This girl is what’s up right now. Crazy hard tumbling performed super well and she dances. And it’s interesting. I can’t say enough good things about her. And honestly, she’s just now a senior and I really think she’s one of those Brits who’s going to be a huge NCAA recruit. I think tons of NCAA teams are going to want her because her legs do not quit. She’s going to be the kind of tumbler that’s going to be NCAA champion on floor for four years in a row. Do you think I’m exaggerating?

UNCLE TIM: I could see it. She definitely already has an NCAA feel to her dance with the whole breakdancing backspin stuff. It was like Flashdance where she does the audition and spins around on her back basically. That’s what it was kind of like. The leotard cut was the same.

JESSICA: It was! It was exactly the same. It was cheek length but not on purpose.

UNCLE TIM: Very 80s

JESSICA: Loved it

UNCLE TIM:  The 80s are coming back even in gymnastics. And then also, we have to talk about little miss Larisa Iordache who was in total beast mode and pretty much won everything this weekend. And she decided to do her 6.9 difficulty beam routine again with two back fulls in it. What did you think Jess when you saw that?

JESSICA: I loved it. She had some wobbles, especially on the first full. But I mean that routine is so fun to watch. I even like her dance which is saying a lot because you know how critical I am of dance. I really actually like, like I know people are like oh this is like a Make It or Break It meet but I liked the music they put to her routine. At this meet, not only do they have the spotlight but they put music to each routine. I thought it actually went well with it and it enhanced the routine. I loved it. I mean it was wobbly, there’s going to be a lot of deductions. But for elite, it wasn’t that wobbly. If it was like NCAA, she would’ve gotten like a 5. But for elite, it doesn’t really matter because she did two fulls and they were really pretty. I loved it.

UNCLE TIM: Nice. And so the other thing this past weekend was in Mexico. What happened in Mexico?

JESSICA: Well they had this Gala Gymnastica in Mexico City. I think it’s like Salvador (inaudible.) It’s like (inaudible), all in that vein. If you love this kind of stuff, then you’ll enjoy this. If you can’t stand those shows or listen to any of that in the morning radio, then you’re not going to be about it. It’s not my cup of tea. But I love to see that gymnastics is thriving somewhere in the world even if it’s not for me. Was that so diplomatic? I’m really proud of myself right now.

UNCLE TIM: I know. Nobody’s going to be writing us hate mail this week.

JESSICA: What I did enjoy about it was Ponor and her hottie Puerto Rican boyfriend Tommy Ramos. They did like a little duet together. It didn’t suck. I actually watched the whole thing. And not only did it not suck, but I loved Ponor’s leo which is also saying a lot because she has a lot of leo problems. I really really liked it. And then he did rings. And we know he’s really good from watching him at the Pro Gymnastics Challenge. And he did this thing where he like flipped the rings over like they used to do back in the day, where you like swing and then flip the rings so they cross. He did that a couple of times and then he did an iron cross but then he slowly spun around in the iron cross. I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. I’m sure maybe boys do this just to play around in the gym when they do iron crosses but I’ve never seen it before and it totally added something new and I really enjoyed it. I also liked it when Vasiliki Millousi got up on rings and did a split through the rings and stuff like that. They tried to do this circus thing. That part was not good. But like I said, not my cup of tea.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah when I was watching Catalina and Tommy, you know how the bride and groom usually dance together at their wedding reception, yeah that’s what I felt like I was watching but the gymnastics version. Yeah we’ll see if they get married. And I also thought he was going to pommel the horse while Catalina was on the beam but no he got his grips on. But yeah he’s good on rings and he did some cool party tricks and stuff so that was awesome.

JESSICA: Party tricks, exactly. That’s what I think we need more of at these things.

UNCLE TIM: I also wanted to know what was going on in Mexico that they’re hosting all these meets. We have the Mexican Open, we have this gala, we had another thing a couple of weeks ago. Yeah where are they getting all this money to bring in all these gymnasts?

JESSICA: I also wonder if it has something to do with, you know how all Europeans go to Spain, yes all of them. I’m not stereotyping. They all go to Spain in the winter and they all go to Florida? I wonder if there’s like an exodus to Mexico as well and it’s something to do with tourist dollars or a tourist company or bank sponsoring this? I don’t know. You know I have a conspiracy theory for everything. But yeah it’s very interesting that there are all of these. And then of course, I think that Paul Ziert is behind all of this, that somehow he pulls the string on all  gymnastics related gala things too. So we must talk to him about this.

[Sound byte]

JESSICA: Today’s interview with Olympic medalist and world champion Terin Humphrey is brought to you by TumblTrak. Later today, we’re going to talk about pits and how disgusting they are. And one of the things I always kind of feel guilty about is when I’m using the pit and I’m ready to kind of transition my skill onto a harder surface, I’ll put an 8 incher into the pit. I always kind of feel guilty about that because you know, over time, the 8 incher can get cracked. The foam can get cracked. And I’m so bad about using a really good 8 incher for that. But I have discovered that I never have to feel guilty again because TumblTrak has a solution for this: the pit pillow. The pit pillow is designed to be used as a topping mat for a loose foam pit. The pit pillow can also be used as a throw mat for trampoline, nice. The pit pillow has Velcro on all sides so that several can be connected or stacked vertically, which is awesome so that you don’t have to be the one that’s chasing down the mat and pulling it back on top of the other mat. You can just Velcro them together. It also has handles which is fabulous because you know, all mats should have handles. And hygiene bonus. It has a denim cover that can be unzipped and washed in the washing machine. I love that part. So check out the pit pillow and never feel guilty about putting an 8 incher in the pit again. You can check out the pit pillow at That’s TumblTrak. TumblTrak. Do it again.

[Sound byte]

JESSICA: At the age of nine, Terin Humphrey’s family moved from their small town in Missouri to allow their daughter to train at Great American Gymnastics Express, known as GAGE. The moved paid off. The 2004 Olympic double silver medalist was one of the breakout stars of the Athens Olympic Games, delivering unshakeable performances for the American team on uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise where she is known for her wonderful presentation and let’s be honest, heavy makeup well before the era of Aliya Mustafina. Post Olympics, Humphrey continued her career in NCAA, becoming one of the most consistent performers for the Alabama Crimson Tide and earning two titles on uneven bars. Today the former law and justice major is a police officer but has remained involved in gymnastics as the athlete representative for Team USA. Officer Humphrey is a member of the athlete selection committee, choosing the teams to go to World Championships and the last Olympics. The selection committee is also comprised of Steve Rybacki Director of Elite Programs and of course Martha Karolyi National Team Coordinator.

[Sound byte]

BLYTHE: When you first went to GAGE, what were your impressions of Al Fong?

TERIN: I was a little scared of Al. I was used to female coaches so I didn’t know kind of how to handle a male coach. I started a lot of privates with Armine and she kind of helped work into it. And basically they gave me a training partner my age and I ended up loving it and so I stayed there and it was the best decision.

BLYTHE: Can you talk a little bit about Al and Armine as coaches? We see them at the USA Gymnastics meets of course. And it seems like they have two different styles but they work together very well. They’re very much in harmony with each other. Is that your experience also?

TERIN: Oh yes definitely. They are totally different. Armine is more artistic and dancing and obviously it shows in every GAGE routine that is out there. Al is more of a, I don’t want to say go-getter but that’s exactly how it is. He’s just kind of like okay do this skill and we’ll put it together and then we’ll see what we come up with. So yeah, they’re definitely different but they mesh well together.

BLYTHE: One thing that I’m sure kind of comes up when you talk about the history at GAGE is what happened to Al during the 80s. It has given a lot of people pause but definitely also, he’s a really incredible technician and a great coach. When your family became aware of that history and you were still probably quite young, did it give you pause at all?

TERIN: You know, I’ve never heard my family talk about that. My personal experience, I don’t believe that Al had anything to do with that. I know that a lot of people blame him for what happened, but I don’t think he had anything to do with that. It was more her personal life. Obviously, I didn’t know her personally but with my experience with Al and Armine, I don’t believe he had anything to do with it.

BLYTHE: Okay. And when did it kind of occur to you that being an elite and being an international elite was a serious possibility?

TERIN: I was probably 12 when I decided to be really serious with it. When I was nine, obviously I wasn’t thinking about being serious with the sport. But Al decided if I trained more and all that, he said that it was a possibility to go to the Olympics and that’s kind of when I got really serious.

BLYTHE: I see. And did your family (inaudible) sort of pushing you toward that? Obviously parents have to make some sacrifices the way that yours did. Was there ever any point where I guess either party wanted to back down? Or maybe your parents saying hey you could really do something here and you were a little bit engaged in that or was it just always that everybody felt that they were on the same page? Being an elite, it’s hard for both the parents and the athlete.

TERIN: It’s definitely hard as an elite gymnast. I think every gymnast goes through that period where they want to just quit. I know myself personally, had a couple of those. And basically, my parents never pushed me to the point where if I didn’t want to do it anymore, they wouldn’t make me. My dad had a couple of talks with me. He said when he was in college, he wanted to do this but he ended up not doing it. Basically, he didn’t want me to have the same regrets that he did. So that’s kind of what kept me going. I felt like I was good enough to go to the Olympics and I was so close and I didn’t want to destroy the years of training that I went through.

BLYTHE: I see. You were part of the first generation that was really doing the training camps at the Ranch


BLYTHE: that generation between 2000 and 2004. When did you first start attending camps?

TERIN: Yeah that was us. Actually it was right when I became an elite gymnast. Right away, you start going to camps and it’s about once a month. Obviously today, the training facility and equipment is a whole lot different from what we trained on. The cabins are different. But you know, ultimately it’s made USA Gymnastics a contender every year, a top contender every year at the Olympics. So I don’t regret anything.

BLYTHE: How was it different? Was the equipment older at that time?

TERIN: Yeah I would say it was a lot smaller too. Now they have a couple of gyms in there and they have trampolines. Al is big on trampoline training and TumblTraks and stuff like that. They didn’t have that when we were there. So that was a big difference. And obviously a pit where the bars and stuff like that were.

BLYTHE: I see. And I’ve got to ask. What did you think of Martha when you first met her?

TERIN: Well when I first trained at the training camp, Martha was a very scary lady. You did want to impress her, every turn you want to impress her. Every skill that you do. It’s crazy how every gymnast tries to get Martha’s attention. I’ve worked with her the past four years, being the athlete rep for USA Gymnastics and she’s just one amazing lady. She definitely doesn’t take anything from anybody and is a very opinionated lady and I respect her for what she does and the advice she gives all these girls.

BLYTHE: Would you describe yourself as a shy person back then? Did you feel uncomfortable performing in front of people at all?

TERIN: Yeah I think I was very shy at first. I didn’t know how to handle the fame and stuff, trying to compete in front of thousands of people. So I was a little shy. When I competed in college, we competed in front of 15,000 people every meet so that kind of helped my nerves a lot.

BLYTHE: I suppose that even if you start off being shy, you don’t remain shy for long. But when you were younger, how did you get past that?

TERIN: Basically, you just try to block everybody out. You try to just focus on you and yourself. When we trained, our coaches would make everybody in the gym stop and watch our routine just to kind of create that same situation as a meet. It’s not that you’re going to get rid of your nerves, just figure out how to compete with them.

BLYTHE: I see. One thing I’ve always wondered about you. There is a video of you from, I don’t remember if it was from like 2001, 2002 or 2003. I want to say you’re doing the Khorkina II vault, half on front tuck 1.5 off. I saw that and I thought wow! Okay so first could you just gym nerd out a little bit with us. Tell us about learning that vault because there are so few people that compete it even today. It makes us wonder. What else were you doing there that maybe we didn’t see during international competition?

TERIN: I actually competed it at the Parkette Invitational Meet in Pennsylvania. I don’t remember how old I was but front vault was very easy for me. So I think Al just one time was like hey let’s just try a 1.5 just for the heck of it. And I did it and it was easy. So I competed it at Parkettes just because it was kind of not an important meet but something that could help me try to compete it later. I didn’t ever end up competing it in a big competition. But there were a lot of skills, especially on bars that I never ended up competing because bars was my event that I could do anything that Al asked me to do on. I just didn’t have enough time or enough room on the bars to do everything.

BLYTHE: Oh I see. What else were we talking about here? I know our listeners will be curious to know what skills you were working even if you never showed them in competition, like on bars.

TERIN: Oh my gosh. It’s been so long, I’m not even sure I remember everything. I’m going to have to get back to you on that one.

BLYTHE: Fair enough. What was it like when Courtney McCool came to GAGE and all of a sudden GAGE had not just one Olympic hopeful but two Olympic hopefuls? Was it helpful to have someone more or less your own age and level to compete against?

TERIN: Right. Actually, Courtney coming to GAGE was awesome for me, to have a training buddy, to have someone that would push me to be better each day. We were rivals some days. There were some days where we just didn’t get along because we spent 40+ hours a week together. But in the end, Courtney was part of the reason for my success and hers as well just because we pushed each other.

BLYTHE: Okay. And now you were part of the 2003 Worlds team. It must have been quite a rollercoaster experience in Anaheim. The excitement of being on a World team and then injuries. Courtney Kupets’ Achilles, Ashley Postell’s illness, Annia Hatch’s ACL and you guys lost three competitors between podium training and team finals. Can you sort of take us through that experience and tell us what that was like?

TERIN: That was a very stressful meet. I was actually put on the team, the 2003 Worlds and Chellsie Memmel ended up winning Pan Ams so they flew her to compete in my spot and kicked me off. So that in itself wasn’t very fun. But then the injuries happened and I finally got my chance to compete and we ended up winning amidst all the injuries. So that just showed how deep USA’s team was at the time.

BLYTHE: Yeah it really was an incredible reversal. And so when you got to Anaheim, how much before the competition was that?

TERIN: I think we had a training camp before that. So I actually had to end up training on my own in a different gym away from the team. So that was a lot harder experience than what I had to deal with. I was always usually training with the girls. But to train by myself, it was definitely a different experience. I see, from then on, with Athens happening you know less than a year before. Oh excuse me with Anaheim happening less than a year before the 2004 Olympics, what was the process like between that World Championships and becoming world champion with the team and having this really historic moment with the United States and then kind of having to pivot and do a 180 and like not forget that but like the Olympics are the big thing now. How did you manage to stay focused?

TERIN: Yeah usually whoever wins Worlds is more likely to win the Olympics. So when we won the first ever Worlds it was like wow, we’re on top. Martha’s training camps are really paying off. For me, that gave me the motivation. I myself, didn’t want to be kicked off another team. So I went and I worked extra hard. I did extra numbers. I was in the gym longer than anybody. I just wanted to make that situation never happen to me again so I wouldn’t give Martha or anybody else a reason to kick me off the team. So that actually fueled me and I think made me a better athlete and able to train and handle situations a lot better and with an open mind.

BLYTHE: Was it hard knowing that after the Olympic Trials, you know they named Courtney Kupets and Courtney McCool to the team.

TERIN: Correct.

BLYTHE: And there was this idea that Carly Patterson would be on the team. She was just kind of indispensable. And so then that leaves just three places left. How did you manage to stay focused through that time, through those few weeks knowing that there’s so much depth and so many girls. What were your thoughts?

TERIN: Yeah it was definitely hard. I was happy for Courtney for making the Olympic team and being a Kansas City native. And Courtney Kupets and Carly Patterson were definitely going to be in the Olympics. Carly had won Worlds the year before. It’s hard to train alongside that but I think I used that as fuel as well. I had been at Al’s gym a lot longer than Courtney and I knew that I belonged there. So like I said, I trained hard. I spent extra hours and did extra numbers in the gym.

BLYTHE: Yeah and there’s kind of two sides to that isn’t it because at the Olympic Games with what happened in team prelims to Courtney. People had been saying here is an all around contender and then you just have a bad day and things don’t go quite as planned and all of a sudden, there’s no all around comp and all those hopes are gone. I imagine that was an incredibly difficult time for her. Did you say anything to her after that performance in team prelims? Was there anything to say?

TERIN: You know, gymnastics is such a brutal sport. You can have one mistake and it just be devastating. Courtney, she was an amazing gymnast. I just think she was a little bit young and didn’t have enough international experience, that it was harder for her to be away from home for a month and away from her family for that long. She was always still there cheering us on. But at that time, you know your dreams are the Olympics and when you don’t do well, there’s pretty much nothing you can say to somebody to make them feel better. So no, I don’t think I did say anything to her, kind of just let her be.

BLYTHE: Yeah and you celebrated your eighteenth birthday at the Olympic Games. Is that correct?

TERIN: I turned eighteen. I don’t know about if I celebrated my eighteenth birthday.

BLYTHE: [LAUGHS] Fair enough. What was that like? Eighteen is a milestone and you’re at the Olympic Games. It just has to be surreal.

TERIN: Every birthday that I had, I competed either the day before or the day after so I never really celebrated my birthday on the day. So I think we competed the day after my birthday. So it was just like a normal day. We went and trained two-a-days. My coach gave me a movie for my birthday and that was about it.

BLYTHE: I see yeah. No respite when you’re going for the Olympic Games I guess.

TERIN: Right.

BLYTHE: And the Athens team was very unique in that not only was there all this stuff going on, you had two veterans. Like real, you know, veterans not to just gymnastics but to life with Annia Hatch and Mohini Bhardwaj. What was that like in terms of sort of the psychological makeup of the team? Was it like having these two, I hate to say older women at 25?

TERIN: Right. They obviously I want to say trained a lot smarter. They did less numbers. They were done with training faster than anybody else. It was pretty awesome to have two older kind of women to kind of help guide us. If we had any questions, they were always there for us. Especially after the Olympics, I didn’t know what to expect when I went to school. I would ask Mohini how her experience was. It was awesome to have her there with us.

BLYTHE: Did Mohini say to you don’t turn professional, go to college?

TERIN: No. They obviously let us make our own decision. It was a struggle for me to know what to do. I didn’t want to continue with gymnastics. I don’t believe that I would have made enough money for a five year school. So a week before I committed to Alabama, I decided that school was the best option for me.

BLYTHE: Ok and so tell us about the process of committing to Alabama for you. I read an interview once in which you said, you know Alabama was really not my first choice. It was like my fifth choice. And yet you enrolled and you ended up there and you had a really stellar career for the Crimson Tide. How did you come to be going to Alabama and not UCLA or Georgia or Florida or you know, one of the other big gymnastics schools?

TERIN: Being from a small town, when you think of Alabama, you think of very hickish. So I was like oh my gosh, this is going to be a huge culture shock. But they flew their private jet down to get me in Green Valley and picked me up and spoiled me. Their locker rooms on campus are absolutely beautiful and amazing. Their education was just off the wall. So ultimately they stole my heart and I decided to go with them.

BLYTHE: How much time did it take? How much time did you get down there during your recruiting trip? Because you were pretty much in full on preparation for the Olympic Games. I don’t really see Al being the sort to be like yeah go take five days. Enjoy yourself.

TERIN: Yeah Al definitely did not like college coaches, for a lack of a better word. He would not let me go on recruiting trips. Basically it was you guys will come to our schedule but we’re not going to yours. So do whatever you have to do. She gets a day and a half off and that’s what you have to work with. So that’s why they very shortly flew a jet down to get me for I think it was a Saturday or something. And I got to go meet the girls and stuff like that. It was a very short trip. But I loved the girls and they were awesome and very welcoming. When I got to school, I was on billboards. I was on magazines. It was just so unreal.

BLYTHE: What was that like? You know, a lot of years of toil and sacrifice and hard work to have a taste of fame and call yourself an Olympian. That must have been very very special.

TERIN: Right. It was bittersweet. I enjoyed it for the short amount of time but I just really wanted to be a normal person. I wanted to go to school. I wanted to have a social life. So I would say that I didn’t take it very well. At school, I rebelled. I was like I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to be normal. I want to go to school. That’s all I want to do. But I mean, anybody so lucky to go to the Olympics and just to have that experience is amazing.

BLYTHE: Do you feel like once you were settled in at Alabama, you got sort of what you wanted? You’d had the fame thing, the Olympic thing, you got the tattoo to show for it. And then everybody just sort of died down for you and you could be like okay. This is okay now. I’m continuing on.

TERIN: Right. Yeah definitely I got the same thing. Just competing in front of 15,000 people and having my face on billboards. It was crazy. It was like your own little city and everyone knew who you were and you couldn’t go anywhere without a picture or anything like that. So that was crazy. At school, they brought tutors in to help us out. So yeah, I definitely had a really good college experience. I didn’t have the best gymnastics experience because of my injuries and stuff like that. But as far as getting an education and my social life, I had an absolute blast.

BLYTHE: Great! So it’s not at all a comedown to go from the Olympics and then to be an NCAA gymnast.

TERIN: Oh no definitely not at all. For me, I enjoyed splitting my training in half. Obviously there’s a whole lot more that you have to deal with. You’re used to training 40 hours a week. So you gain weight and stuff like that. So that’s a lot harder for athletes, especially those training at the elite level. You don’t know how to eat and stuff like that and they end up gaining weight and all that good stuff. But I definitely enjoyed it. If you wanted to train outside of it and some cardio and stuff, you could do that. But other than that, I enjoyed only training 20 hours a week.

BLYTHE: What are Sarah and David like as coaches? How did they differ from Al and Armine?

TERIN: I didn’t get along with my coaches too well in college but I would say the main difference is they’re very personable. They are more into your personal life than Al and Armine are. That would probably be the biggest difference.

BLYTHE: And so was it kind of a relationship like I don’t know. I don’t want to say parent adolescent but in college they are sort of in your life.

TERIN: Yeah I would say it is more like a parent child relationship. In high school, I obviously never got in trouble. I never went out to parties. I never did anything like that because I was so concentrating on gymnastics. And then when I go to school, I’m like oh there’s parties every night. I’ve got to go to them and stuff like that. I know I wasn’t the easiest person to deal with. They tried their very best to guide me along the right way and stuff like that.

BLYTHE: So the NCAA was your rebellion period?

TERIN: [LAUGHS] I would say yes.

BLYTHE: But you know, they did get some very good gymnastics out of you. You are an NCAA titles and Alabama always had great teams during those years and you were a really big part of that. Was it hard to balance the partying and the training? Was it like okay I have an extra 20 hours a week, you know whatever.

TERIN: Yeah you know I actually read an article online. I don’t remember where this came from. But it was like my senior year and I was done. I didn’t compete my senior year. And there was an article that said that they were so disappointed in me for not doing well in gymnastics and not winning more titles and stuff like that. It kind of made me upset. But looking back, I’m an 11 time All American and a two time NCAA champion. That in itself is a great accomplishment. You know, I did go out and party. I did do all that stuff, but in the end, ultimately I had the best time of my life.

BLYTHE: Can you talk about that process of taking retirement your senior year? How hard was that for you to have to convince the coaches to let you do that?

TERIN: Actually they kind of made that decision for me. I walked into the gym thinking I was in a practice and then I had some guy from the media was telling me congratulations. I asked him what for and he was like you retired today. I was like oh well okay. I mean it was hard. I wasn’t used to injuries. Growing up and in high school, I didn’t have that many. I was a very fortunate gymnast. So you know, your senior year is supposed to be something special and you’re supposed to have an awesome time. But that obviously wasn’t the case for me.

BLYTHE: Did you continue with the team as manager, stay involved?

TERIN: No. Sarah wanted me to do that. She wanted me to go in and cheer for the girls but it was a lot harder to watch them compete when I know that I should have been out there too. So I wanted to take a step away from gymnastics and I got a part time job and just went to school and got to be normal.

BLYTHE: Yeah. And so you didn’t try to fight it at all? You didn’t go hey no no I think I could do bars or do beam or do something a little bit that’s not like tumbling?

TERIN: I did. At first I tried. But I had four elbow surgeries and then I had three nerve blocks in my back. So I think I knew that I couldn’t do it anymore. And I sat down with my parents and I told them I was like you know I put so many years into this sport, I just can’t do this anymore. And I want to be able to walk and be normal when I’m 30 years old, so. I hope you can support me not doing this anymore. And they completely agreed. I think it was more harder from the coaches to take than me.


BLYTHE: And after that, how did you end up becoming the athlete rep? Was that something you always wanted to do? Or were you recruited to do it?


TERIN: Yeah I didn’t really know about it. I knew that I was eligible and so they sent me an email that said is this something you would want to do? And I said well sure you know I wouldn’t mind. I’ve taken a lot of years off of gymnastics. I wouldn’t mind being a part of it anymore. I ran against Nastia, so I was kind of like well I’m not [LAUGHS] going to get it. But I ended up being the alternate and she was the main athlete rep. However she decided she was going to train again so she stepped down and I became the athlete rep for the past two years. And usually you can share the responsibilities if one person can’t go to a meet or a meeting then the other person can go. But I was taking this job on all by myself, and I ended up loving it. And today I’m supposed to find out if I get it for the next six years. So I’m excited and nervous today.


BLYTHE: Oh well that’s incredible. Well we hope you get it.


TERIN: Well thank you.


BLYTHE: And frankly you’ve done an incredible job given the results of the US team. And so I’ve go to ask, with the three of you, how does the process work? Do you find that you’re mostly on the same page? Or are there disputes and you have to resolve them somehow?


TERIN: Right. Yeah a lot of people think Martha’s the only one that kind of makes decisions, but it’s not like that at all. Basically we travel to every training camp. I personally go to every training camp that they hold selection at. I go to every meet within the United States for the most part. Then we just kind of look at the girls’ progress throughout the year and we each share opinions. And most of the time it’s the same. However every once in a while there will be a little glitch or something. It typically ends up working out itself. So it’s definitely a combined effort. It’s not just one person.


BLYTHE: Gotcha. And do you have any input once the US team leaves for a meet? And forgive me if this is a question that’s a little close to home but certainly this fall there was this decision that was made not to put Brenna Dowell into the competition in Antwerp in Worlds. And was that a decision that was made on the spot? Were you guys consulted? Or was that just kind of [inaudible].


TERIN: Well basically we saw the team at training camp. And I flew home so I didn’t go to Worlds with them. So I don’t know. I mean Brenna could’ve been inconsistent or whatever. I know Martha does a really good job at watching workouts and stuff like that. So I don’t know what happened at Worlds. But I know that she makes the best decision so I trust her 100%.


BLYTHE: And let’s talk about the code for a second. Do you like this code for the athletes? Is there anything about it that you would like to change if you had the power?


TERIN: If I had the power I would go back to the 10 system. I myself have a hard time understanding this new system. I know it a little better now that I travel and do all that with them. But when it first came out I was completely lost. And I’m like how the heck is the public going to understand this if I don’t even understand that and I’m an Olympic gymnast. So definitely if I had the power I would change it back.


BLYTHE: Here here. Yeah I think a lot of people, a lot of really serious fans and ex gymnasts were kind of in the same boat. You see a 14.3 and you’re like what is that?




BLYTHE: Talk about the process for team selection. Are you pretty cool with how that happens or is there anything else you would change about that?


TERIN: I think the team selection is where it should be. It’s worked so far the past couple of years. So I think we’re doing something right.


BLYTHE: Yeah it’s really hard to complain about the results.


TERIN: Right


BLYTHE: And you know in the new role that you’ve got, do you talk to the girls about doing college gymnastics? Do you find they come to you and say hey I’m not sure whether I should continue or not and I’ve got this offer from UCLA or Georgia or something like that.


TERIN: Right. Basically I don’t ever say yeah you need to continue or yeah you need to go to college. That is for them to decide. I give them my point on it. And they take the advice how they will.


BLYTHE: So in Athens it was a time when the US stayed outside the athlete village. And I want to say that has changed since. And you know we were just wondering did you think that that was helpful for the team? Or do you wish that it had been done differently and you guys had been able to be in the athlete village with everybody else even if it was a bit of a distraction here and there?


TERIN: I’m not sure about it. The alternates stay outside of the village. I don’t think that’s right. I think they should be able to train alongside us. Because injuries happen very quickly. So yes I believe they should be able to train with the team because they are part of the team and they push the ones that are on the team to do their job or they’ll take their spot.


BLYTHE: Yeah. Ok. And then oh one other question just to sort of going off the grid here, but why did you go into law and criminal justice?


TERIN: I studied criminal justice in college because I thought it was an easy route [LAUGHS]. And I ended up actually loving it. And my brother, he’s a police officer and he kind of got me into law enforcement. And I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.


BLYTHE: So in the end it wasn’t an easy route? Or was it still an easy route?


TERIN: You know it actually wasn’t that bad. When I joined the police academy I was nervous. I’m a five foot 100 pound female. And you go in and there’s a room full of men that are six foot whatever. So I was a little nervous. But ultimately I ended up beating all them physically in all the PT testing. So it was fun.


BLYTHE: [LAUGHS] I imagine they respect you even if you are like 5’2 or whatever and 100 pounds.


TERIN: Yeah they definitely did after that.


BLYTHE: Yeah you know if you can do more pushups than they can, I imagine…


TERIN: I don’t know if I can say this on the radio, but you go through like a hell day. And instructors try to get you to quit. They try to get you throw up. They try to get you to walk out. I think at the end, I was the only one standing and all the boys were throwing up and keeled over. It was crazy.




BLYTHE: And what do you do in your work? Day to day.


TERIN: Day to day, I’m a patrol officer which means I’m on the streets. Basically we do traffic or patrol the streets until you get a call. And when you get a call you respond to it. We do all sorts of stuff. We do suicides and-


BLYTHE: What’s the scariest thing you’ve had to do?


TERIN: For me, building searches are very scary. I hate going into buildings not knowing who’s in there or what’s in there. My brother’s a SWAT so he loves that kind of stuff. But it’s very dangerous. People have weapons in their house and don’t like intruders. So for me that’s the scariest part of being a police officer.


BLYTHE: Ok so that exhausts the questions that I’ve got for you. But I know that Jess has a couple of listener questions, including one about the GAGE leotards. Is that right Jess?


JESSICA: Yes. Oh my god I’ve been dying to ask you this forever.


TERIN: You said GAGE leotards?




JESSICA: Yes that’s right


BLYTHE: A question about the GAGE leotards




JESSICA: Ok so honest answer here. You know you wore these leotards. They’re I’m sure Armine, she’s brilliant because if you want someone to notice your gymnasts, she puts them in these leotards.




JESSICA: And you know so everyone will talk about them whether the gymnastics was good or not.




JESSICA: But you know the gymnastics is always beautiful. But I have to wonder if you always loved them, if there’s any time when you were like oh hell no I am not wearing this.

TERIN: Well I’m a very honest person, but I would say it’s either hit or miss with Armine’s leotards. There were some I just absolutely loved. Like the swirly multi colored one. But then we had this one spider looking one and it was the worst leotard I have ever seen. And she just loved it. So we had to wear it. But [LAUGHS] yeah it was hit or miss with Armine’s leotards. But she’s awesome so I can’t question her.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Oh that was very honest. Yeah I think we called that in the gymternet that’s the dominatrix leotard. I think that year. The one with the leathery with the criss crosses. I mean only GAGE could get away with that.






JESSICA: So I have been dying to know- so I have two questions before we get to the listener questions. But one is that in your TV interview that is so fabulous, we will post this so everybody can watch if they haven’t yet, you- oh my gosh I loved it. So you said that you only had one major disagreement amongst the selection committee where you threw your papers up in the air and were like no! So of course everyone’s like who was she talking about. Are you allowed to tell us?


TERIN: Basically it was probably about Alicia Sacramone. I know a lot of people wanted her to be on the team. And she very well could’ve been on the team. And we still I believe we still would’ve been an amazing team that year. But there were a few factors why we didn’t choose her in that year. So that’s what it was about.


JESSICA: A ha. So was this for the Olympics?




JESSICA: Gotcha. Yeah. I don’t know that decision just must have been I mean ugh, so heart wrenching. Because we could’ve had two teams and still won.


TERIN: Exactly


JESSICA: We could’ve gone gold and silver. Yeah.


TERIN: Exactly yes, yes. And it was hard. This position is really hard for me because I used to train with Chellsie Memmel and Alicia Sacramone and all them. So it was definitely a hard job.


JESSICA: And speaking of that, so someone wanted to know, Emma asked if what it was like for you as a member of the selection committee when Chellsie wasn’t allowed to petition that year. So this last year at Classics when she had a bad meet then wanted to petition. How did you feel about that whole scenario and do you feel like it played out like it should’ve?


TERIN: Right. I 100% support Martha and Steve. It was hard for me because I knew how hard Chellsie trained. I knew she was an awesome competitor and if she needed some more time she would’ve been up there. But the same time we all have to follow the same rules. So yeah I believe it was the right decision.


JESSICA: And then Nick asked he wants to know what the hardest skill for you was to master.


TERIN: Probably a shaposh on bars. A toe to high bar. I had really sweaty feet, so [LAUGHS] I hated this skill and Al always made me do it and I hated it. So I always wore socks then when I went to meets I had to take my socks off. That was the hardest skill with sweaty feet.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I never thought about sweaty feet.




JESSICA: And that being- I always think about beam with sweaty feet. But that totally makes sense. And you serious were like a chalked up hardcore for bars too.


TERIN: Oh yeah. I since have had sweat surgery. So I’ve had surgery for two years where they go and cut your glands. So now my hands and my armpits don’t sweat.


JESSICA: Wow. So why did you decide to get that? So criminals wouldn’t think that you were intimidated by them?


TERIN: Well actually it was the main decision was I was at the range and it was 100 degrees and my weapon kept slipping. And I was like this is a dangerous deal. I need to just bite the bullet and have surgery.


JESSICA: Katie wants to know, this question everyone wants to know this. Ok she says what did GAGE do to your legs and feet as children that meant they were glued together and your toes inanely pointed and you had the most beautiful lines on bars.




JESSICA: Did they tie your legs together? Did they use glue?


TERIN: You know I really appreciate that because I have the most knobby knees out there. So every day after practice, Al would come and sit on my knees to try to help them get straighter. And we would use the ball every day and we do [inaudible] every day just to work on our toe point. I used to be really sloppy on bars and then when I saw myself on video I was like that is so ugly. I need to start [LAUGHS] squeezing my feet together. So basically a lot of it was video. Video and just working on your weaknesses. And mine were definitely my knobby knees.


JESSICA: And then Shooting Stars Gymnastics wants to know if you have any regrets.


TERIN: I have no regrets. I worked hard in high school. My family did sacrifices. I had sacrifices. And I wouldn’t change anything. I ended up training as much as I could, I worked as hard as I could, and the end result was what I wanted. I don’t even have regrets in college when I didn’t do the best that I could do. I’ve had an amazing life, and I don’t have any regrets.


JESSICA: Love hearing that. John asks if you let me see, so he kind if wants to know if you have any power in the way NBC shows Martha as the one with all the power and sort of ignores the committee. Do you have any influence on what NBC shows?


TERIN: No. NBC is a different contract than USA Gymnastics. If it were up to Martha she wouldn’t even be shown on TV.


JESSICA: Oh interesting. So she doesn’t like it when they pan over to her?


TERIN: Right. When we go on trips, it’s basically us three. And we have a hard time when other people come and try to talk to us. We’re kind of like no we want to talk amongst ourselves. We don’t want any other outside influences. So especially the media. Martha, if it were up to her, she would not be shown.


JESSICA: Interesting. And another question was [LAUGHS] is it harder arresting bad guys or winning an argument with Martha?


TERIN: [LAUGHS] Oh gosh. Well you know being a police officer I don’t have too many problems. The only people that try to I want to say challenge me are the females. Females think that they can challenge me more than the men. But Martha’s a strong lady and for the most part so far we’ve done a good job working together.


JESSICA: And then I kind of I just want to know speaking of women challenging you on the streets, have you ever used an actual gymnastics move at work? Have you rolled away from a bullet or done a front flip over a car to chase after someone?


TERIN: [LAUGHS] No but I should. I should definitely try that one of these times [LAUGHS].




TERIN: You know I must be getting old though because we had a foot chase yesterday, and a young guy I ran straight after him. And I was like you know what, I’m going to get the information from all these people. I’ll catch you later.


JESSICA: Ok so Luke wanted to know what would people be most surprised to know about working with Martha. Like is she a math whiz? Is she a hard partier? And what have you learned from her about putting together a team?


TERIN: I’m trying to think. I don’t know what they would be most surprised about because Martha’s a pretty open person. She says what’s on her mind. And that is her best quality. And what I’ve learned most about her is speak your mind. Don’t be afraid to- your opinions matter so don’t be afraid to talk about them. And that’s one of the things why me and Martha get along so well is I actually kind of speak up. Everybody else around her kind of agrees with her and doesn’t give her another side. So me being there, I can kind of give her my point of view from the athlete. So I’m not sure if there’s anything you would be surprised about. I’m going to Mexico with her next week so I might be able to tell you more then.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Yes please get back to us. Ok one more, so speaking of speaking up and your opinion matters, one thing that’s really interesting about Al Fong is he’s really outspoken. Like the Parkettes’ coaches. He has his blog and he’s always said if he feels that something’s unfair, he’s always said exactly what he thinks. Do you, as a gymnast, now that you’ve been on both sides, on the selection committee and as a gymnast, did you ever feel like his outspokenness was a detriment to you and how you might place on a team? Or did you always feel like it was helpful to have somebody in your corner fighting for you and saying exactly what they thought?


TERIN: Yeah. I mean that definitely- one great quality that Al and Armine have, they will fight for their gymnasts whether it be right, wrong. They will be by your side. As far as being on this side of it, I know that Martha, Steve, and myself are out for the team. We understand and we respect Al’s opinions as well as everybody else’s coaches and their opinions. But ultimately this is for the team and the team’s best interest. So I definitely respect Al and Armine more than anybody because they do speak their mind and fight for their athletes. But at the same time, right now we’re for the team. If that makes any sense.


JESSICA: Yep that totally makes sense. So the last question is something I feel people have always wondered about you. And I think it’s just because you have one of those beautiful multi ethnic looking faces like Jessica Alba or someone’s always like oh what is she and they’re always claiming her for their tribe. Oh she’s Jewish and Mexican, she’s Irish and Native American. Everyone’s- so this question came in from Stacey Ervin who’s a US National team member and a national champion from the University of Michigan. He’s been on the show before. And he would like to know if you are also a halfrican like him.


TERIN: [LAUGHS] That’s awesome. Yeah I actually got to meet Stacey as Championships this past August. So that was very cool to meet and he did awesome. I am actually a Native American so I have Cherokee Indian in me.


JESSICA: Oh how cool. Ok. That will put an end to the endless debates on the gymternet about that.


TERIN: Yeah no I’ve heard everything. [LAUGHS]


JESSICA: So this is been so fun talking to you. Thank you so much for your answers and your candidness. This is I think people are really going to appreciate how much they got to know kind of about the process and what it’s been for you to be on all the different sides of gymnastics from Olympics to NCAA to selecting the team. This has been great.


TERIN: Right well thank you for having me.


BLYTHE: Thank you for your honesty.


TERIN: [LAUGHS] I’m a very honest person.


JESSICA: Yes! We love that.




ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: Visit, that’s sportz with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.


JESSICA: It’s time for gymternet news. In the happy awesome category of news, I hope that you guys follow the Bat Kid San Francisco story. And again not only was the Bat Kid story amazing, but San Francisco proves to be the greatest city in the world. And as I said on Twitter, it will forever be Gotham City and New York can suck it. So yes. Oh New Yorkers yes I hope that burned. I hope you guys try to get the title back because San Francisco just stole it away from you along with all of our hearts. The gymnastics version of that story happened a couple weeks ago. And we posted it on our Facebook page. And you know the Bat Kid thing was a Make a Wish Foundation put this on. He wanted to be Batman for the day. The gymnastics version is there’s this girl in Michigan and her name is Faith. And she has this incurable rare stomach and bowel disorder which means she had to have part of her colon removed. So she has a coloscopy bag which is no fun at all. And she made friends with this older gymnast who also coaches. And through their friendship the coach found out this it was Faith’s dream to be a competitive gymnast. To compete in one meet. So Gym America in Ann Arbor put on this special little exhibition meet just for her and she did a routine with her teenage coach. And it is just the cutest most adorable gleeful happy thing you will ever see. You’ve got to watch the video. We will put it up. It’s so heartwarming. If it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you may have to look into Grinch disorder. You might have it. So check out this video. It’s just, it was just so beautiful. I loved it. It made me so happy. So. In now moving on from the happy awesome gymnastics news to angry letters to the FIG women’s technical committee. [LAUGHS] Uncle Tim, you have been doing something amazing, which I think has never ever been done before in the history of gymnastics. And maybe in the 60s when people wrote those long history books but there wasn’t enough history to really get into this. So can you just tell people a little bit about what you’ve been doing on your site? Because it’s so unprecedented and amazing and takes so much work. And then about your letter.


UNCLE TIM: Sure. So what I’ve been doing is going code by code. I have almost every copy of the code ever written, and I go code by code and look at how the FIG on the men’s side and the women’s side have defined artistry. And then I look at routines and look at how the code manifested itself in those routines. So that’s what I’ve been doing. This past week though, the All Around posted this long post about judge training at World Championships and what they learned about artistry there. And I was a little peeved and partly because I’m so sick of the artistry conversation. And I kind of let out all my frustration in that long letter. And why I’m sick of artistry for two primary reasons. First, artistry is a question of personal taste. And there’s no such thing as universal taste, as much as people want to say that this is universally good taste, this is universally bad taste, no. So when people say oh this routine is so artistic, blah blah blah blah blah, what they’re really saying is this routine is artistic according to my expectations and my sense of how a floor routine should be done. So that’s one reason. The other reason is that artistry across all disciplines, whether it be ballet or art, proper sculpture painting, what have you, is many times about breaking or bending rules. And so it’s not necessarily about adhering to the rules. So I think it’s kind of silly to write all these rules about what is artistry. So what I did was I looked at some of the routines that the women’s technical committee liked, and I pointed out how those routines broke the rules according to the code of points that was in effect at that time when the routine was performed. So that’s in a nutshell what I was writing about.


JESSICA: And when you say that it’s not universal, it’s not universal except O’Beirne rules right? Everyone agrees with O’Beirne rules.






JESSICA: O’Beirne rules are perfect. Yes. Yes. They’re the best. Everyone loves them.




JESSICA: [sneezes] Oh that was such a bad lie it made me sneeze.




JESSICA: Breaking rules. See this is where mohawks come in. Someone’s going to seriously there needs to be a drinking game for every time I say mohawk on an episode. I really need to stop that. I’m getting [inaudible]. But really it has to happen. [LAUGHS]


UNCLE TIM: You’re such a child of the 80s.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I know. I tried to dress up as Mr. T like five times when I was a kid for Halloween. [LAUGHS] Just never worked. I just looked like some sort of weird indian. I just love Mr. T. Ok. Let’s talk about video news. Ok. A incredible video emerged today. And we’re not sure where it came from. But we’re pretty sure it’s definitely Simone and we’re pretty sure she’s definitely doing, I mean she is doing, whoever it is which it looks like Simone in her gym doing a double double off beam. That’s right. A double double. Has anyone done that before? It’s been done right?


UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. I don’t think it’s ever been competed and I don’t think it’s in the code of points.


JESSICA: I can’t think of anyone that’s, no. And it looks of course as usual super easy for her.


UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Of course. I think Aimee mentioned that in her interview with us that you can say to Simone oh you should try a double double off beam because you know she’d be able to do it. But it’s not until Simone actually gets it into her head that she’s able to do it that she’ll just do it. And once she has it in her mind, she’ll do it. And yeah. What I mean I can’t even imagine doing a full twisting double back let alone a double double.


JESSICA: You know because Simone is like this, I think we should just throw some stuff out there on Twitter and just put it in her mind. Like oh I think you could do a quad twist- no what could she do. Has it like oh remember Ponor was trying a 1.5 on beam. I bet Simone could totally do that.




JESSICA: Round off 1.5. I bet that would be so easy for her. Or a double. I bet should could do a double. I say we take to Twitter and make suggestions.




JESSICA: I don’t know if Aimee’s going to like this idea. [LAUGHS] She’s going to be like stop that. But wow. I just love watching this. I love this is put out there for the world to see. It doesn’t have to be a big secret. We can all enjoy her gymnastics even if she never gets to compete this. It just makes me happy. There’s another video in the news which is Aly Raisman training a bit. We don’t get to see very much. Just a little bit of her warming up and we got to see that she doesn’t have a lot of back flexibility which makes me feel good. Because I feel like my bridge is a tiny bit better than her’s. Maybe one day out of the week. So I felt really good about that. Like I could learn anything on floor after seeing her back flexibility [LAUGHS]. How’s your back flexibility? Has it held up?


UNCLE TIM: It’s not too bad. Yeah.


JESSICA: Is it better than Aly Raisman’s?


UNCLE TIM: Probably, yeah.


JESSICA: I always feel better when I see an elite gymnast who has no wrist flexibility or no back flexibility or something and I’m like see, anything’s possible. You just have to put your mind to it. Or maybe you’re such a good tumbler that you don’t need any back flexibility. And then we have a video of Jordyn training a beautiful hindorff. What did you think of it compared to her tkachev?


UNCLE TIM: I was like yes, please replace your tkachev immediately. I believe it was one Miss Spanny Tampson who compared her tkachev to a cat scratching its butt on the floor. And so this was like 5000x better.


JESSICA: So then in really insane crazy NBC commentator news, Al Trautwig totally lost it. I can’t even believe this is a real story. Like I thought this was an Onion story when I first read it. I was totally shocked. Uncle Tim can you give us the basic lowdown on this?


UNCLE TIM: So yes. Mr. Trautwig, whom Spanny met at the P&G Championships, had a little spelling blunder on Twitter. He spelled somebody’s last name “Boron” instead of “Biron.” And he spell checked himself. And somebody responded “Thought it was an autobiographical tweet and he meant moron.” Which prompted Mr. Trautwig to call the man at home. However the man no longer lives at the number. But instead his mother answered.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I can’t believe this.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah so he spoke to the heckler’s mother. And then the heckler tweeted at Al saying “Did you really just call my elderly parents at midnight because you were upset with my tweet? Do you call all your fans?” And Al responded “Really? Aren’t you old enough to know better?” [LAUGHS] And then the heckler said “I’m flattered that you respect my opinion to want to shoot the breeze about it. Hey hockey world, my opinion matters.” Yeah so it goes on from there. But I can’t believe that Al called this man’s mother at midnight.


JESSICA: I mean I just feel like are you kidding me? Like gymnastics fans [LAUGHS] never get this kind of attention. All you had to do this whole time was call him a moron and he would call your house? If everyone had just been much meaner we could’ve had these conversations about gymnastics much sooner. I could not believe this. I really am still expecting this to be some kind of grand hoax. But anyway there you go you guys. Like, you might if you make Trautwig mad enough he might call your house. [LAUGHS] Ok. So. Now we go to super disturbing medical news. There is a documentary coming out on HBO on November 25 called Toxic Hot Seat. So this documentary is about flame retardants that can be put into foam as one of the things flame retardants are in. So it could be in your pillows, if you have a foam bed topper, if you have furniture that has foam in it, and also in pit foam. And of course we all know how gross pit foam is. So there is a woman named Courtney Kerrigan, a postdoctoral researcher at the Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center at Dartmouth University. And she did a small study, so this is the thing. I don’t think this study is in my expert opinion statistically significant. Because it was a very small sample size. But she just published her study this week. And in the study she found that 4-6.5x more flame retardants in the blood of 11 collegiate gymnasts than in the US general population. So the problem with these flame retardants is that they are carcinogenic. That is really disturbing that these collegiate gymnasts, and again it’s a small sample size that she had, but that they have such a high level of these carcinogens in their blood. So this documentary, again it’s going to be on HBO on November 25, so you can check it out, the new study we’ll have a link to that. And Courtney Kerrigan who used to be a gymnast published the study. She has founded a little group, an association called And we’ll link to that so you guys can check it out. But this might be this is definitely something I think we should keep our eye on and be worried about. I know there’s some gyms especially in Europe starting to put covers on the foam so there’s less of that foam dust in the air. So less of it gets in your lungs. And of course pit boogers on your clothes. But this is definitely something to be aware of and a little concerned about going forward. So And again the documentary premieres on November 25 on HBO. In happier news, Gymnastike is going to premier the Beyond the Routine with Laurie Baby Shakira Hernandez. Rejoice! [SOUND BYTE]. What were the results of our gym nerd poll this week?


UNCLE TIM: So to quickly go over the results. On the women’s side, the favorite heading into the Mexican Open is Peyton Ernst. 87% of those people who responded to the poll thought she would win. 5% said Roxana Popa. 4% said Jade Barbosa of Brazil. And then on the men’s side, Koji Uematsu was the clear leader. He had 41% of the votes. 23% of the vote went to Josh Dixon. And 13% of the vote went to Nikita Ignatyev of Russia. As far as Stuttgart goes, it was a very close race between Larisa Iordache and Elizabeth Price for a long time until everyone saw Larisa Iordache in total beast mode this weekend. And then the distance kind of got a little bit bigger between the two. And so Larisa is the clear favorite with 56% of the vote. And Elizabeth Price was decently close second with 39% of the vote. On the men’s side, it’s all about Fabian Hambiceps. 67%.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] That needs to go on one of our tshirts. Hambiceps.


UNCLE TIM: Yep. So 67% of the people polled thought he would win. 10% went to Orozco and 10% went to the very faithful Oleg fans out there. Oleg Vernieaev. I kind of wish we could go back in time and see what gymnastics fans thought going into something like 1992 in Barcelona or what gymnastics fans thought going into the 96 Olympics. So I like that we have stats on this.


JESSICA: Data. We love data. Did you vote? Did you vote in the poll?


UNCLE TIM: No I didn’t. I did not. But the last question was have you had a leotard related injury. A question that you posed to Evan and me last week. And overwhelming majority said no. But 20 people said yes. So if you have had a leotard related injury, please let us know the story because I want to know how this happens. Jess I feel like you’ve had to have one in your-


JESSICA: Me? Why would I? Why do you think I would have one [LAUGHS]


UNCLE TIM: I don’t know


JESSICA: This is the kind of stuff I have. I have had a leotard related injury. We need a write in section. I can’t wait to hear the other stories because I wonder if they’re like mine. So my very first gymnastics meet ever, I never even thought about competing in gymnastics. But I started when I moved to California, started on this team, and I was just so, they just put me on the team right away. And I was the kid who would swing off the bar and land on flat back, I would make like [LAUGHS] this won’t surprise you, I would make like really loud sound effect noises [LAUGHS] and grunt really loud when I landed. And then I was like why isn’t anyone else doing this. Oh we’re supposed to be really serious and hold this position. Oh ok. So you can see I was a little green. I had never even seen a gymnastics meet and I’m on this team. So I have my first meet and I mean I thought this leotard was the most glorious thing even. I felt so proud to wear it. I was just I mean it was just like the proudest moment of my whole life. We went right from the meet to a friend’s house. And then I didn’t take my leotard off. I wore it all the rest of the day. I slept over night at my friend’s house in it. And I wore it all the next day. [LAUGHS] And I woke up the next morning and I was like my whole chest was in like horrible pain. I was like oh what is that. And like the leotard hide piping across the chest. And when I went I finally got home so this is like I don’t know like 24 hours of wearing the same leotard, which I was like 8 or something you know. I got home like peeled it off to get in the shower and I had it was like the piping had actually burrowed into my skin. It was like I had track marks. Like tiny piping tractor had gone across and just taken the skin away. It was like I slid on asphalt on that piping. I think I had marks there the whole rest of the week. It was so painful. So yeah. I might’ve worn the leo too long. I mean I learned my lesson after that. I took my leotards off immediately after the meets after that happened. But I was just so excited. So it was kind of gross but I was really excited. Yeah. I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s happened to. So who does our listener shout out of the week go to this week?


UNCLE TIM: So rather than naming an international listener, I want to do something a little different and I want to nominate a gym nerd of the week this week. And I love it when our followers take our questions really seriously on social media. So last week we talked about leotard designs for the men and how they have to have cooler ones. And Andrew Novialdi made this entire swatch of men’s leotards that he liked and didn’t like. And when I saw that I was like oh my god, you just gym nerded to a new level and I love you. So yes he is our shout out of the week. And I have to give an honorable mention to Elizabeth Grimsley. She write for Georgia’s school newspaper about gymnastics, and she has been making practice gym videos of Georgia. And you know what she did? She put the names of the gymnasts on the screen, the video.


JESSICA: Thank you. Hello, professional professional in our midst. Thank you thank you thank you.




JESSICA: That is how it’s done people. That is how it’s done. Please take note.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. She totally knows what gymnastics fans want, and she’s making it easier for people who aren’t die hard Georgia fans to follow along. So I, Uncle Tim, salute you as well Ms. Grimsley.


JESSICA: Oh and Andrew Novaldi’s stuff, it’s annotated. His list of the gymnasts and why he likes what. Which we have some listeners who like to send us annotated notes, which are hilarious and fantastic. So hats off to you. If you love this podcast and you can’t get enough of it, you should support the show. You can shop in our Amazon store. A little portion of what you buy will go back to supporting the show. Recommend us to a friend. You can go to the gym and be like oh my god let’s listen to this podcast during warm up because it’s so funny. We love it, we get gymnastics news which inspires us to do conditioning. I bet it would make conditioning go by so much faster if you listen to this in the gym. You can rate us, review us on iTunes. And we also have a donate button because you guys wanted to know how you could directly support the show. So if you would like to, you can donate to us. We read all of your emails. We listen to all of your voicemails. And you can leave us an email by emailing You can call us and leave a voicemail at 415-800-3191 or you can call our voicemail on Skype with username Gymcastic Podcast. And you can download the Stitcher app and it works on all devices and it is fabulous and has a car mode and I like it a lot because you don’t need to use up space on your mobile device in order to use it and listen wherever you are. So thank you all so much for supporting the show. We have a super super exciting guest. I can’t even say. It’s so exciting that I can’t even tell you who we have on next week because it’s that awesome. It’s top secret. It’s classified. I can’t even. The NSA are probably spying on me right now because I even mentioned this. So until next week, where we’ll bring you something- or maybe even sooner. Maybe Friday. I don’t know I’ll have to see. Very soon. Special Thanksgiving awesomeness for your travels or to listen with the whole family after a nice meal [LAUGHS]. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics.


BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner


UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym


JESSICA: See you soon