Transcripts: Episodes 71-80

[expand title=”Episode 71: The Chest Position Enforcement Bureau”]

UNCLE TIM: Last year, we talked a lot about this girl, mostly because there was a huge gymternet debate about whether we should like Hall’s floor routine or not. It was, if you might recall, ostensibly a gospel tribute which featured a lot of fierce stank face right?


EVAN: She got buck.


UNCLE TIM: Exactly





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 71 for January 22, 2014. I’m Jessica from Masters Gymnastics


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


EVAN: I’m Evan. Find me on Twitter @yoev


JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast of all time bringing you all the news from around the gymternet.


UNCLE TIM: So Jess, let’s start off with some follow up from last week’s quiz. As we mentioned during the podcast, we didn’t have all the answers. So we have a few corrections and clarifications.


JESSICA: So the first one is, first of all we did very well I would just like to say. I think the things that we didn’t know are the things that no one knows and you can’t find the answer anywhere. So it’s a good thing that we you know, had that quiz because now it gives an opportunity to people who actually know the answers. Because I did a lot of research and could still not find the answers so I had to ask people in the know. So number one is oh and Evan won the quiz by the way last week so congratulations to you.


EVAN: [singing] Oh yeah I did. I beat everyone.


JESSICA: Just like his Michigan team dominating. All Americans are actually defined this way. We wondered and we could not find this anywhere. So this is for women’s gymnastics, NCAA. The top four on each event in each session in NCAA. So there’s a morning session and an evening session so the top four on each event in the session, not finals but the session make first team all American. Fifth through eighth places in each session are the second team. So it’s the first day of prelims. That’s how that works, first team All American and second team All American. In 2012, they added regular season All American which is like I don’t know. We can discuss how we feel about this. You can tell how I feel about it already. I feel like this is the whole helicopter parent, everyone gets an award for everything problem that’s going on with society. So regular season All Americans 1-8 is first team and then 9-16 is second team All-American. So you could potentially be a regular season All American and a post-season All American. I don’t know. What do you guys think of the regular season All American thing?


EVAN: I think it’s a good reward for probably consistency throughout the season but when you look at the NCAA meet as a whole, it’s hitting when it counts and when it matters. So I see the difference between the two and I think they both have a place but I think the really true shining value is hitting when it counts.


UNCLE TIM: I generally agree but last year, I remember that lot of people were disappointed because Lloimincia Hall didn’t make floor finals even though she was ranked number one or close to number one the entire season. So I’m a little bit torn because I do feel like people like Lloimincia who were you know very consistent throughout the entire season, maybe they should be recognized in some way. I don’t know that we should use the term All-American though. I don’t know. I think it’s silly to have two different types of All-Americans. We should think of a different name for this regular season recognition.


JESSICA: I agree. Besides, the All American is totally confusing. Like what, what is that? That title itself, there should be two different titles for during season and post-season. Also it should be something else like top ten or top twelve or something that makes sense. I don’t know. All American is just weird. It’s just weird. It sounds like I got an American flag tattoo during season and so I’m…oh like Geddert. He could qualify for that all American with his back tattoo. Have we all seen that? Yes. Alright number two from our quiz. You can redshirt without an injury. So we were talking about redshirting where you get injured and you can have an extra year basically. Thanks to one of our commenters on our site for clearing this up. So you get five years of eligibility and four years to compete. So basically, if something happens one of those years, either you’re academically ineligible, you get hurt, or say you just can’t make the lineup. You are on the team but you aren’t able to compete because you’re not getting one of those spots, then you can apply to have that as a redshirt year and you’re granted that fifth year to compete. But you can only compete four years total no matter what unless of course you get hurt during that first 20% of the season. Ok so we’ve had a lot of comments, which is fantastic, from so many listeners who are like you know, I only know elite but you guys are getting me into this thing. I’m kind of interested in NCAA. And so I just wanted to help people understand why we spend so much time on NCAA gymnastics and why we love it so much. So I have asked Evan to read a quote from the Reverend Spanny Tampson from Episode 25. If you would sir.


[dramatic music plays]


EVAN: [clears throat] Our one escape from this new math Olympics is collegiate gymnastics. For those who miss the perfect 10, we have that. For those who miss less difficulty and more execution, we have that. And for those who miss artistry, we definitely have that. Which is why we here at Gymcastic have been trying to spread the holy NCAA spirit. Few people realize the glory that lies within collegiate gymnastics because they have become so accustomed to accepting what elite gymnastics has to give.


JESSICA: Amen. And as a former NCAA gymnast, do you have anything to add as to why it’s so glorious?


EVAN: You know, I do have a lot to add and it could probably be the entire episode but NCAA gymnastics is such an opportunity to grow as a person and as an athlete while being trained by some of the best coaches in the nation alongside some of the best athletes in the nation at the top universities in the nation.


JESSICA: NCAA is also, it’s an international fantasy league of competitors from all over the world. And it’s also an international fantasy league of coaches. The coaching staff is like a who’s who of the best coaches in the world in NCAA, especially on the men’s side. And also you know, it’s about education. So it’s intrinsically about more than just sports which as you know, at Gymcastic, we believe in that. It should be about something bigger. It’s about doing something important. So with that, let’s discuss, Evan, you watched the Michigan and the North Carolina  meet. Tell us about it.


EVAN: Indeed I did. So it was Michigan, University of North Carolina, Towson, and NC State was the host. So surprise, I was going for the Wolverines. And I will be completely transparent in telling you that I am biased for the University of Michigan. So let that sink in. You might be familiar with one Joanna Sampson, defending NCAA floor champion. Yes? Yes?




EVAN: Alright, well she went 9.95 with a double layout, a front full front layout, a roof shattering, like all venues need to make sure their roofs are secure for the rest of the season when Joanna Sampson comes to town. Because she just hangs it up and then opens like no other. It really sets her apart. It’s part of the reason why she won floor last year, it’s because she’s truly mastered that skill and also kind of made it her own. So Michigan came through pretty big on floor. They had over a 49 which, you know at this point in the season, for some of those teams lingering around 8th, 9th, 10th in the nation in the rankings, you wanna see that.


JESSICA: So why are you loving Nicole Artz? What about her?


EVAN: So she just has really, first of all, aesthetically pleasing gymnastics. And she has a huge piked full in on floor. Like I said, she’s just developing. You can see that everything is there. And even in the moments where there is kind of a hiccup, like this week she had an out of bounds on floor, you can see that the potential is there and that she’s not perfect. For me, that’s one of the greatest things about this Michigan team, is that they haven’t been perfect so far. Do I think that they’re capable of high 197 scores? I do! But have they put that up there? Not yet. But the room for improvement, it’s pretty evident. So so often, you see those teams kind of on the cusp. Michigan has been around that 6th, 7th, 8th. You know, they were ranked number one in the country in pretty recent history. But they’ve always kind of lingered around those spots. Finally they’ve brought in a team where you can start off with a 9.8 on every event and just build from there. So Michigan watch out for them. Not just because I went there, not just because I like them all, but they’re doing legit gymnastics and you can see that the vision and the process is there. And that’s something that I like to watch. I can’t say that I like seeing mistakes this early in the season, but I think that you need to have mistakes because that’s how you learn and you feel and you become more aware as an athlete. Would you guys agree with that? Do you want to see perfect meets all of a sudden right now?


JESSICA: I always worry if I see a perfect meet that the team has peaked too soon and they’re going to be injured by the time it counts. That’s what I worry about. Because it’s not like elite, where you only have three or four meets a year. This, you have sixteen meets, every weekend for four months. I kind of worry you know, that they’re going to get injured. That’s how I see it when I see someone that’s like perfect right now.


EVAN: Right. Uncle Tim, what about you? Expert


UNCLE TIM: No I generally agree. I think that one way gymnasts are motivated is by scores. And so if you get a really high score early on, it’s kind of like okay well what are you striving for anymore if you are pretty much near perfect really on in the season. And if you look at the past couple of years of NCAA gymnastics, usually the champions score in the 196 range rather than the 197 at the beginning of the season. So just something to think about.


EVAN: True that! There was a graph illustrating that and I believe it. Jess, did you post that recently?


JESSICA: Uncle Tim did that. He does all the sexy data. He’s responsible for that.


EVAN: Oh I should have known.


JESSICA: Sexy data department, he’s the director of that.


EVAN: Sexy data, do you have a sound effect for that? Is there a sexy data sound effect?


[Horn sounds]


EVAN: Aaooohgah .Let me get my abacus. So just a couple of more notes on the Michigan vs. the Carolinas and Towson. NC State looked really good. I think they got a little bit of home scoring which can be assumed. But I thought the scoring overall was pretty fair. Diannah Ham, she’s been around for a while. She’s a senior now. Have you guys seen her vault before? She’s like one of those anomalies of person. Like how did you end up with 80% more leg than everyone else in the world? But she did! And props to her for also doing gymnastics because it looks absolutely beautiful. Do you guys know what Joanna Sampson went in the all around away?


JESSICA: Something ridiculous. Like crazy. 49.6 or something insane.


EVAN: Well that is crazy because that’s an event total not an all around total.




UNCLE TIM: She scored over a 40!


EVAN: That is pretty insane!


JESSICA: This is why I’m not in charge of the data department.


UNCLE TIM: Was it higher than Bridget Sloan’s 39.7?






EVAN: So now the climax has just dipped down. But it was a 39.625 in non SEC scoring. And just as I got done saying, don’t be too early. Michigan is on a journey, Joanna Sampson is already blowing it out of the water. So I think what’s working there is she’s kind of setting the bar high for her teammates to kind of rise and perform to the level she is. That is all I’m going to say. Go blue everyone. Stay safe.


UNCLE TIM: Thank you Ron Burgundy! It sounds like a Ron Burgundy sign off.


EVAN: Just incoherence.


UNCLE TIM: Alright. So last week, we didn’t get to talk about the men too much. And two weeks ago, on January 11, I went to the Cal vs Stanford men’s meet and they had a little bit of a fundraiser. And before we talk about the meet, I want to give you guys an NCAA pop quiz. So here we go. You’re both going to answer because it’s data, it’s number driven so you guys get to try to answer and we’ll see who comes closest to the right answer. So typically, how much revenue does a men’s gymnastics team generate? Let’s start with you Evan, your guess.


EVAN: I would say about $1200.


UNCLE TIM: Okay. Jessica, what’s your guess?

JESSICA: I’m going to go with zero.


UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Neither of you are very close. It’s $80,000 so every year, men’s NCAA….


EVAN: Look at that!


JESSICA: Like profit or gross?


UNCLE TIM: Revenue.


JESSICA: So that’s profit.


UNCLE TIM: No. It’s how much you bring it. We’re not talking profit.


JESSICA: So gross.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah, so that’s the revenue they bring in. Now how much does a men’s gymnastics program expend? Let’s start with you this time….oh go ahead Evan.


EVAN: I was just going to add some zeros on to my answer. I would say 120,000.


UNCLE TIM: Okay, Jessica?


JESSICA: Including tuition, I’m going to say half a million or 300,000.


UNCLE TIM: So $580,000.




UNCLE TIM: You were really close yeah! In other words, typically every other year, men’s gymnastics programs are $500,000 in the hole. So not very good. Now for fun




JESSICA: That was a sound effect for someone falling down the stairs. But that didn’t really work there. Sorry. Still working those out.


UNCLE TIM: So for fun, how much revenue does a women’s gymnastics team generate? We’re talking revenue. Let’s start with you this time Jessica.


JESSICA: Double that? No that’s way too much. That’s like a million dollars. In the SEC or a regular women’s gymnastics team? Because in the SEC I would say like a million dollars and everywhere else, I would say a tiny bit more, like 600,000.

UNCLE TIM: We’re talking revenue.


JESSICA: Oh revenue. Whoops. Sorry, revenue. We’re not talking about, sorry. Like $100,000, $200,000?


UNCLE TIM: What about you Evan? Guesses?


EVAN: I’m going to Price is Right Jessica over right here and say whatever her answer was plus a dollar.




UNCLE TIM: You guys are way off. So it’s $89,000 in revenue, the typical women’s NCAA gymnastics brings in. So only $9000 more than the men. How much are their expenses?


EVAN: A lot!


JESSICA: Yeah more than the men already just because they can offer more scholarships than the men can.


EVAN: I would say between 800 and 900k.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. Jess?


JESSICA: Yeah wow that much? Yeah I don’t know. I’m going with my half million again.


UNCLE TIM: One million, six hundred dollars is how much a typical women’s gymnastics team spends every year


JESSICA: Good damn


UNCLE TIM: Yeah which means they are typically $917,000 in the red. So yeah not very good. And so honestly, unless NCAA gymnastics programs figure out a way to generate more revenue, more programs will continue to disappear. So in 1981, there were 79 mens college teams and in 2012 there were 17. In 1981, there were 179 women’s college teams and in 2012, there were only 83. So on both sides of the fence, things aren’t looking too good for college gymnastics unless something changes. So I went to the Cal-Stanford meet as I said and Brett McClure is trying to do something a little different. So Brett McClure was on the US men’s 2004 silver medal team at the Olympics and he called in some of his favors. He asked that John MacReady, the 1996 Olympian and USAG’s dancing buffoon make an appearance at Cal and also 2004 Olympic team silver medalist Blaine Wilson and 2008 Olympic all around champion Nastia Liukin. He asked that all of them come to Cal and people paid a little money to mingle with them beforehand and our buddy Tim Daggett did commentary for the PAC 12 network. And so far I haven’t seen any details as to how much money they generated out of this event or not. But compared to last year, I would say there were more people in the stands definitely. So that’s promising. And hopefully they’ll be able to use this to make a little bit of money. But I mean Jess, you know what people really want to hear, the behind the scenes information.


JESSICA: That’s right.


UNCLE TIM: Exactly. So what do you think Nastia Liukin was wearing?


JESSICA: Those giant heels, those giant heels with the red bottoms.


UNCLE TIM: The Louboutins


JESSICA: Yes those.


UNCLE TIM: Evan, any guesses?


EVAN: I don’t know. She was looking fierce.


UNCLE TIM: It’s true. She was looking fierce. But I think the gymternet will be surprised to hear that she was not wearing pink. I feel like we’ve given her this reputation of being our gymnastics Barbie/Elle Woods from Legally Blonde and we expect her to wear hot pink everywhere she goes. But that was not the case. She was wearing black with a kind of bold necklace I would say. And oh my God, her hair was so perfect. I feel like Shakespeare could write a sonnet about the perfection of her hair. And I also feel like Blaine Wilson, who is currently bald is a little jealous of her perfect hair. She was looking good. In terms of gymnastics, it was the first meet of the men’s season, which is I hate to see it, kind of like a Three Stooges comedy. It’s just a lot of falls usually. One guy from Cal’s team peeled off the rings on his dismount. There are a lot of pommel horse falls. It was a rough start. I’m looking forward to seeing what other college teams try to do in order to raise money. Jess, I know that you are always thinking of ideas. Do you have any ideas for college teams on raising money?


JESSICA: Well first of all, you should only have two people compete for your team on pommel horse period, because it’s too boring. Like it’s only exciting if they’re really really good. So it should be two up from each team and that’s it.


UNCLE TIM: We’re trying to raise money.


JESSICA: Well because, no this is it. I have logic behind this. Because men’s meets are so much longer than women’s meets because they have more events. You know, obviously I think they have too many events. So there should be less events. But no one’s going to give up their events so you just have specialists and you only have like two people compete on rings and pommel horse. That’ll make everything go faster and it will be more exciting and it’ll be like oh my God all the pressure’s down on these two guys ahhh! That’s how. And yeah, that’s my first suggestion.


UNCLE TIM: Evan, any ideas for how to raise money?


EVAN: It’s a slippery slope. I think a lot of it has to do with a coach who’s willing to kind of invest this grassroots level like Brett McClure and I know that Justin Spring has tried to be an advocate for a lot of things. I think every coach in men’s gymnastics in NCAA is an advocate for the sport. But it’s such an upward battle that I think a lot of programs are more focused really just on winning and solidifying and showing the athletic departments, maybe we aren’t bringing in the revenue but we’re going to win some effing championships and that’s a lot more than a lot of sports at many universities can say. So I think the focus is just a little bit different.


JESSICA: And music on men’s floor routines.


UNCLE TIM: I mean I’m just talking in general because the women’s gymnastics programs are even more in debt than most of the men’s gymnastics programs, as we discussed, largely because of Division I scholarships. So we’re not just talking about men’s gymnastics being kind of being up Sheet Creek without a paddle. So what about the women’s programs?


JESSICA: Sheet is French for poo poo. I don’t know. This is the whole thing. Is there a way to save money honestly? Like I know at some of the schools, it costs more money for them to host the meet at home than it does from them to travel. I don’t know. Is there a way to save money at some point? Is that something that’s important to look at?


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I’m trying to think.


JESSICA: Do they need all those extra sparkles on their leos?


UNCLE TIM: How much does each sparkle cost?


JESSICA: Those things can’t be cheap.


EVAN: I don’t think they are. I do not think they are.


JESSICA: My friend just said that she went to downtown LA to this area where you buy old fabric and stuff like that and they had like a whole stall of Swarovski crystals and she’s bedazzling all of the furniture in her room. She bedazzled her lamp. So I’m guessing they are not that much. She bedazzled her shoes. She has a really stressful job. She needs her outlet. So they can’t be that much.


UNCLE TIM: Alright well, we’re digressing here. Let’s move on to another meet that I watched. I watched number two LSU vs. number nine Georgia which was a really hyped meet. So for our listeners if you might recall, Jay Clark was Suzanne Yoculan’s successor and was the head coach at Georgia from 2009-2012 and for a head coach in college sports in general, that’s actually a fairly long time. In 2005, Rick Majerus was named the head coach of the University of South Carolina basketball team, a position he held for a total of five days. So when you put things in perspective, three years ain’t bad. Anyway, after leaving Georgia, Jay Clark headed to LSU and this past weekend was his first time back in Athens, Georgia as the coach of another team. And well, he lost. LSU scored a 196.875 to Georgia’s, 197.175. And since we gymnastics fans are conspiracy theorists at heart, many of us are crying bullets. Yeah people are saying Georgia was overscored. And the target of a lot of criticism seems to be Chelsea Davis’s 9.975 on bars. What did you guys think of this routine? Was it worth a 9.975?


JESSICA: Evan, you go first.


EVAN: I’m just going to say no. As simple as that is, I think it’s a really good set. I struggle with NCAA bars because especially watching it on a consistent basis, like ugh this is all of the same stuff. Like is there even any opportunity for a toe-shoot to the high bar to be critiqued? What are we looking against? Because some of them are really dynamic. Some of them are not. But it’s really achieving the skill. So I struggle with this but I’m going to say a very general, diplomatic no. This was not a 9.975. Sorry, Chels.


JESSICA: Well I’m going to assume that all of her handstands were hit perfectly because we couldn’t see it from the angle that the fabulous Elizabeth Grimsley who is @allflippedout on Twitter. You guys should follow her. If Georgia isn’t paying her tuition and she isn’t on full scholarship for the work she does for the gymternet, something’s wrong over there. Some booster needs to pay for her. Give her a scholarship, a social media scholarship. She’s amazing. She does these great recap videos, works for the newspaper there. She’s awesome. So from the angle, we couldn’t see the handstands. I’m going to assume they were all perfect. And then I think her only deductions would be bent arms and they weren’t that bent. But they were definitely bent on her toe-on shoot to handstand. And then on her Tkatchev, she bends her knees like a tiny bit, like a flick kind of as she arches and releases. So you could take a half a tenth or a tenth. You can’t take a quarter-tenth in NCAA like you can in elite and JO. I mean you could score that between a 9.8 and 9.9. Do I think it was a 9.975, no. But I think it was beautiful and I think it could go 9.9 if you’re only going to take half a tenth for both of those deductions. And if there’s a judge out there, maybe you can tell me if that’s the range. I’m not sure. But I mean I don’t think it was that crazy overscored. That’s basically my conclusion.


UNCLE TIM: I don’t really have a problem with the score. I mean I probably would have gone a little bit lower because I usually go a little bit lower than most of these judges.But yeah, I didn’t think it was as problematic as people are making it out to be. I guess the other routine that we should talk about is one routine from Miss Lloimincia Hall. Last year, we talked a lot about this girl, mostly because there was a huge gymternet debate about whether we should like Hall’s floor routine or not. It was, if you might recall, ostensibly a gospel tribute which featured a lot of fierce stank face right?


EVAN: She got buck.


UNCLE TIM: Exactly. So Evan, how would you describe the 2014 routine from Lloimincia?


EVAN: You know, I think she’s trying to play it cool a little bit. I think it’s more of that swagger that Jess mentioned last week. LSU definitely has that swagger and Lloimincia obviously can do her tumbling. Like, I don’t think it’s any mystery at this point. So I think she might be playing it a little low key. I remember even like her freshman year, I was like oh dang, she’s doing that. And then last year, kind of upped the game a little bit. And when those stomps came out, she was ready to bust through fiberglass down to the springs every routine. So this year, I think it’s on the same level. But she’s trying to give it something a little bit different. I would say this year’s a little bit cooler.


JESSICA: It’s not doing it for me this year. I think it has to do with the music because she uses some popular music. And so when I’m waiting for like the chorus to start, all of a sudden the music changes and I’m like oh I liked that song. It’s a lot of grapevine steps, like big grapevine steps. And she does the what’s the game where you play dice, you throw it, right that’s what she’s doing in the beginning of the routine.


EVAN: Clearly, she’s playing Yahtzee. Mincie’s going for the full house.


JESSICA: It’s just, something’s missing this year. It’s all the Lloimincia without the musicality to back it up I guess. I mean when she does her little seat drop and goes into the band music,the marching band music, I’m like oooh. But that’s like the last ten seconds of the whole routine so…I’m sad to say but I’m just not feeling it this year.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah the judges aren’t really feeling it either. I think her high score this year is a 9.875 and last year at the first two meets, she scored a 9.95. And so yeah, there’s just not as much energy and so I wonder if the judges are also perceiving it and maybe if she had a more upbeat routine, they might overlook little things like the fact that her jump sequence isn’t quite as precise. It wasn’t really last year either but I feel like the judges overlooked it in the name of






UNCLE TIM: Yes, in the name of the Lord and in the name of excitement. The other LSU routine I want to talk about is Jessica Savona. She’s using Carly Patterson’s old floor music from 2004. And I think it just raises an interesting question. And I’m wondering if you guys think there are some songs that are just so off limits because a definitive version of the routine has already been done and nobody’s ever going to be able to compare to that version.


JESSICA: I think….these are my rules. You have to wait two Olympic cycles because you’ll have a whole new group of kids who never heard that music. If it has been used by someone like Carly Patterson, it better be the best routine on the entire team, like because you’re going to immediately think of Carly Patterson. So you don’t have to dance very much but you better have perfect tumbling if you’re using that music. But I think eight years, that’s my rule. But in NCAA, I think it’s even more important. There’s an Oregon gymnast who’s using, Bridgey Caquatto, she’s the sister of Mackenzie Caquatto at Florida, they were both elites in Chicago. They were both on a world team.


EVAN: Bridgey Caquatto was on the Pan Am team.


JESSICA: Yes that’s right.


EVAN: Yeah.


JESSICA: And her sister was on the silver medal world team


EVAN: Yeah, 2010


JESSICA: Yeah so that’s where you’ll know them from, elite people. And they are both at Florida. And so one of the Oregon gymnasts is using Bridgey Caquatto, the younger one, I call her Baby Caquatto, she’s using her music. And I’m just like dude, like she’s still using that music this year. Like you can’t be using the music of a girl who competed for the number one team in the country. Like they just won NCAA’s. Like that’s not a great idea to be using that music. That’s too soon. Way too soon. So I’m kind of like eh. But Carly Patterson, that’s been a long ass time. I think you can use that music.


EVAN: I have a couple thoughts on this. I would be totally okay with some Andreea Raducan, Dominique Moceanu riverdance coming back up in this. I need that in my life. I would watch that. I would get goosebumps. I would need to perform. I would need like NBC  cameras filming me doing like an intense fluff piece. I would love that. I have been to some level 10 and I guess some lower levels, but like even like Tasha Schwikert’s music, you guys know the one I’m talking about with the snapping and Carly’s music, those are all still on the circuit. Those are not going anywhere. But it is really interesting when collegiate gymnasts, and forgive me but I don’t know specific names, somebody’s using the exact cut of Jordyn Wieber’s 2011 and 2012 music


JESSICA: Too soon.


EVAN: Yes, right. I’m like oh Jordyn Wieber. Kyndal Robarts, who was a former elite in the US and also competed for Utah like snatched up Shawn Johnson’s August Rush music as quickly as she could get it. Although performed very well, I was still like this is Shawn’s music, definitely is. And then Georgia Dabritz from Utah, also former elite in the US, used Jaycie Phelps’s racecar music for like two years. It was like Georgia just wanted to buy a car or something. It was like I can’t afford a car right now so I’m just going to have this music


JESSICA: I hate that music so much.


EVAN: It was like heavy and stomping and there’s like an oil change in the middle of it. I do not understand. What do you want your floor music to be Georgia? I’m just thinking like engines, like more engines, like carburetors. Like what? No. Jaycie was enough.


JESSICA: Car music in floor routines, it’s like beeping. It’s just the most annoying sound ever. I can’t stand it. Just so you know.


UNCLE TIM: For me, I think the NCAA routine that really stands out and people use her music, is Anna Li’s 2010 floor routine, the Lux Aeterna


[Jessica hums music]


JESSICA: That one?




JESSICA: The one after that


UNCLE TIM: Yeah the last one, her senior year one, to Lux Aeterna from Requiem for a Dream. I don’t know. I just feel like that routine always stands out to me because she felt the music so much and I feel like she actually put her soul into the dancing of that music. However, a lot of people are using that music. And actually, Anna Li was a line judge during US Nationals to people using her old floor music which is interesting and so for me, that routine stands out at least from an NCAA perspective. What about you Jess? What NCAA meets did you watch this past week?


JESSICA: Well first I want to mention one thing, because I forgot something from Florida last week. So my friend pointed out to me that Bridget Sloan, I don’t know if you guys have noticed this and I’m the last one to notice this. Before she does her double pike, she does not set and look straight ahead of her, she sets by putting her head back and spotting the floor and then piking. She spots the floor behind her. Have you guys ever noticed that?


EVAN: I have noticed how her technique is slightly like an arch almost into it, like she uses more of an arch. But I haven’t looked at where she’s spotting. But it seems to be working for her.


JESSICA: It totally works for her. I’m like oh my God, I hope no little kids look at that and are like oh that’s how I’m going to do it. It’s bizarre. It totally works for her. It’s just so fascinating to see. It’s like how the Romanians stick their heads out as far as they can when they’re doing roundoffs on beam. I’m like how the hell do they get their feet back on the beam? It’s so interesting when you’re super talented and you can just do certain things that other people, it would send them a hundred miles off. Other thing I wanted to mention, there was some controversy at the Auburn Florida meet, brought upset by some Auburn fans were saying that Florida was yelling and waving whenever the Auburn girls would turn towards them, like as if they were trying to distract them. So I kind of looked into this a bit because that just seemed really bizarre. Gymnasts just don’t do that kind of thing. It’s not the kind of sport where you’re like oh it would be awesome if you broke your neck right now. Let’s distract her. They don’t do that. Too much respect for the danger of the sport. So it turns out that what was happening was that the Florida videographer was on the side of the floor by beam. And the Florida girls were sort of dancing around and doing stuff for the videographer who was on the opposite side from them. So it was just a coincidence that Auburn thought that they were goofing around to distract the Auburn girls when in fact, it had nothing to do with that and they were paying attention to their videographer. That’s what was happening. To lay that controversy to rest, now I hope. So let’s discuss Iowa Oklahoma. So first we have to talk about the best moment of the entire meet, which is our favorite commentator in the entire world and by ours, I mean mine, Kelly Garrison. She used to be Kelly Garrison Steeves. She was an Olympian in ‘88. She has like a billion moves named after her, all this weird sideways kicky stuff and a handspring tucked full.


UNCLE TIM: Did you say kicky or kinky?


JESSICA: Kicky! Kicky stuff! Like she has like a sideways Valdez. You don’t do a Valdez over, you do a Valdez around the side of the beam, that’s kicky. She has like a no armed roll. She has a roundoff full tucked full on to the beam that’s named after her. She’s one of the best beam workers ever, including to this day, her routines would hold up. Do you guys agree with that?


EVAN: I think she definitely brought a level of innovation. And you know seeing the Garrison being done today, we have a Japanese gymnast Sasada was doing it and Casey Jo MaGee, former Arkansas gymnast, now coaches at Mizzou, she was training it as an elite. And everyone just takes note of that. And it’s like yeah guys, when Evan was being born, Kelly Garrison was doing that onto the beam. So yeah.


JESSICA: Yeah. Exactly. Like she’s amazing. So she does the commentary at Oklahoma, and she is one of my favorite commentators ever, not so much for what she says but her reactions and her inability to have any kind of filter about her bias for Oklahoma, that was her school. And she was actually an Olympian while she was in college, one of the first to do that. And I just let me just play the clip. So this is we’re watching Madison Mooring on floor. And she’s running to do her double pike. So here we go.


KELLY GARRISON: Madison is from the Cherokee nation. Oh boogers I can’t believe she did that!


JESSICA: Yes that’s right she said Madison is a member of the Cherokee nation and then she was short on her double pike and she yells oh boogers on TV. Best comment on a fall ever. I love her so much I can’t even stand it. My god. So if you get a chance to watch an Oklahoma meet, watch it just for her commentary.


EVAN: For the first time, and I may be the only person to ever say this, but I’m so disappointed that I don’t get sports south east south central mountain time zone. I’m so disappointed.


JESSICA: She’s constantly, I mean when someone does something great, she squeals. She when she likes something she can’t contain herself. It’s so nothing like a professionally trained commentator which makes it hilarious. I love love love her. Ok. So during this meet, I fell in love with Chayse Capps. I love her and I want to have her gymnastics babies. She is a trained dancer and did competitive dance. So she can do all the weird stuff where you competitive dance. I don’t want to offend anyone by my description of it. I respect it it’s cool, but it’s all where you pull your leg up then lean over backward and do five twists. She’s doing actually modern dance choreography in her floor routine and it’s not quite translating yet. I don’t know, she’s not quite into it yet or the music isn’t quite right but I think she could be a totally groundbreaking person in gymnastics in NCAA.


EVAN: Like Ariana Berlin if you will


JESSICA: Yes except more socially acceptable


EVAN: Right


JESSICA: Right? And I don’t mean that- I loved Ari’s routines and I think she is totally groundbreaking because she was a legit hip hop dancer. People were like what she’s white, this doesn’t make sense. But yeah Chayse Capps could bring dance and floor to a whole other level. It’s not quite there yet but she’s I think she’s going to do it. So I mean not like Ari because it’ll be less controversial I guess. Her beam is freaking gorgeous. Everything is so extended. She’s like if McCool and Demeo had a baby, it would be her. She’s so perfect.


EVAN: There’s a lot of birth around Chayse Capps




UNCLE TIM: Are you preparing us for an announcement Jess?




UNCLE TIM: Are you going to be the next Spanny Tampson on our show?


JESSICA: No, no, no, no, no. But oh my god news flash you guys, Spanny’s baby, Mr. Max better known on the show as Grumpus, he’s so not grumpy anymore. And he did his first V sit today which Uncle Tim noticed in his little video. It was adorable. And then after he finished he shook his head back and forth with a big smile on his face like haha see what I did? Kind of like Danusia in her floor routine. I think that’s where he got it. Ok so. You know why there’s so much birth in this? It’s because last week you said that someone has time to raise a child in Kytra Hunter when she does her double layout and someone said to me when I saw them she was like that was so funny when he’s like there’s time to give birth underneath that double layout. [LAUGHS] And I was like that’s not what he said, he said raise a child. Giving birth, that’s way messier, that’s way more gross than raising a child.


EVAN: Take your time with that


JESSICA: So while I was watching this meet I decided to declare on Twitter Oklahoma was the best beam team in the country. Then I was like we’ll see what the scores say. So of course I was wrong. It’s, well not of course, I mean obviously I’m right but the scores don’t back me up. Because as of right now, Troester, which is a website you guys can go to and see the rankings of all the teams, it’s Troester. I have no idea if that’s how you pronounce it but that’s what I’m going to say. Troester. Right now the beam rankings are Florida, Illinois, LSU, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Arkansas. So Oklahoma’s actually forth, so pfft. I haven’t watched LSU or Illinois yet but clearly I’m right and Oklahoma should be number one with all their double backs and interesting choreography. Iowa was also at this meet even though I haven’t mentioned them yet. Two things I loved about Iowa. They have this gymnast, her last name is Townsend, she is also from the same gym as the Caquatto sisters and Florida. She is 5’7. I’m adding in a little correction here because she’s actually 5’9. So she’s a normal height of a normal human which makes her look like a giant in gymnastics. And she is their best vaulter. She is fantastic, and I just love that she’s 5’7 and is a collegiate DI gymnast and is doing a yurchenko full like it’s nothing. So that just goes to show, stereotypes. Because we know the greatest gymnast of all time with the most medals was 5’5. And who would that be?


UNCLE TIM: Jess O’Beirne




JESSICA: The most medals


EVAN AND UNCLE TIM: Svetlana Khorkina


JESSICA: Thank you. Thank you gentlemen for playing along. Iowa has Kristen Maloney there, former UCLA gymnast and also was in Cirque for quite a few years. She’s a Parkette elite and Olympian. I would like to clarify that this is Iowa State and not Iowa. This is a very important distinction, so Iowa State we’re talking about here. So Kristen Maloney was with Cirque for many years and elite with Parkettes and Olympian. And she has really brought the artistic sensibility to the routines of Iowa State. The problem is they look super uncomfortable doing these routines. Like they, it looks almost painful. They’re just like oh I know I’m supposed to do this but I’m really embarrassed to wiggle my hair around in public. So I feel like if she can get them to be comfortable with this choreography and buy into it, they could have amazing routines. But right now, it’s kind of painful to watch. I really hope the team will get it and really go for it because they could be really enjoyable great routines if they buy into it. So. I don’t think I don’t know if people realize that going for it in choreography actually  makes you look better than if you do it half assed and are embarrassed. Like that always looks worse than if you just do it. Even if it’s something super embarrassing. Like if you go for it, people will go along with it. If you if the audience can tell you’re embarrassed it makes it 1000x worse.


EVAN: Right if you’re pretending to slow motion hula hoop and you’re just like I’m meek, this isn’t my personality, everyone notices that and I will call you out for it. So if you’re going to hula hoop, you work those hips like Shakira and you keep that hoop going and you will get rewarded.


JESSICA: Exactly. Well put, thank you. Ok let’s talk about the Beavers vs UCLA. You guys


UNCLE TIM: Versus the Bruins if you’re going to go by the Beavers


JESSICA: Beavers!


EVAN: University of Beavers


JESSICA: I always thought that was a joke that there was a team called the Beavers. All growing up I thought- In and Out burger, I thought that was a joke too. I thought that couldn’t actually be a burger place. It was a sexual joke that people wore on their tshirts. Little did I know it’s a real place. So anywho. Oregon. This would be Oregon State, not the other Oregon because they don’t have gymnastics which makes me feel like I shouldn’t have to justify whether it’s, I shouldn’t have to give the details if it’s Oregon or Oregon State because there is no other gymnastics in Oregon. But anyway, to clarify, Oregon State. So is it obvious how annoying I get with that when people do that? Someone came up to me in the gym and they were like USC, UCLA, duh duh duh. And I was like what are you talking about, USC doesn’t have a gymnastics team, go talk smack to someone else. I could give two craps about what you’re talking about right now. This is a gymnastics shirt. So go away leave me alone. And the guy was like 80 so then I felt bad about giving him a hard time. [LAUGHS] I was like seriously?


EVAN: You broke his hip and his heart


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] He didn’t know what to do with me. He just kind of looked at me and then took his USC flag and walked away. I guess it was a towel. But he was waving at me like a flag. Who does that? I was busy working out. Please. Clearly he was intimidated by my gym skills. So back to the meet. Tim Daggett did commentary, and I loved how he switched gears. He was totally in NCAA mode. He talked about the choreography. He talked about entertainment. He talked about crowd involvement. And it was so funny watching him you guys. I was sitting across from him and he was totally bopping his head and snapping his fingers. Then during a couple routines he turned very very red and looked like oh my god I can’t believe I have to comment on this. It was fantastic. It was great. He was totally into it. I really liked just watching him and listening to his commentary on TV too was great. Syd Sawa, former Canadian national champion, better known as panda cat, did a fantastic vault. Even better than Olivia Courtney’s last week. Her feet were together, she got more distance, so I think that she deserved the score that she got it was fantastic. I think she got a 9.975. I should probably know that.


EVAN: She did


JESSICA: Yeah. 9.975. Nush, this is what we found out about Nush this week, she can do her longitudinal aerial into her full dismount two meets in a row. She’s totally consistent with that. So I would like to declare beam finals are going to be Nush, my new love Chayse Capps at Oklahoma, and Maddie Gardiner from Oregon. Maddie Gardner as you guys remember is a former Canadian national champ as well. She was the Olympic alternate for Canada for the 2012 Olympics. Oh my god. Oh my god her beam. I can’t, ugh. It’s so perfect, so difficult. She has two series. She didn’t do them both as series in this meet but she has a front aerial to side flip and she also has back handspring layout. So do you need two series? No. You don’t. But she does them. She also has a are you ready for this, one of my favorite skills ever and it’s not a rolly one Uncle Tim. I know you’re going to think it’s a rolly skill but it’s not. She does a switch leg aerial.


UNCLE TIM: Named after Melissa Bodwin who competed for Indiana State back in the day.


JESSICA: So that is one of the coolest skills. So basically it’s exactly what it sounds like. You do an aerial and right before you’re going to land on your opposite land you took off of you switch and land on the leg you took off of. So it’s way hard, it looks freakin cool, the whole crowd was like what was that? Her routine was so perfect and I would like to lodge my very strong complaint that she only got a 9.85 on that routine because as far as I’m concerned, a 9.9 was the very very  most deductions you could take was a tenth. A half a tenth- I take exception with the balance beam situation for saying she had a bobble after her front aerial. No no no. I did not think that was a bobble at all. I think she covered it up perfectly. I think it was just a stop. Oh I have two series, I don’t have to do this. I would’ve taken maybe half a tenth for that, maybe half a tenth on her landing. That routine is if she tied with Nush in at NCAA finals, that would be perfect for me. It’s just it’s heaven. Did you guys watch that routine?


EVAN: I only watched her routine from the preseason. And I tweeted about it. And I was like let this stay because she has so much difficulty that I was like oh no they’re just going to erase it. If it gets to season and they’re like we need you to hit, which I guess still could happen. But if she’s out there competing it, more power to her. Quick rewind, but also fast forward. Sydney Sawa got a 9.975 on floor and a 9.95 on vault. So that score was awarded to her at that meet, just on another event.


JESSICA: On another event. Yes. I was very excited about floor so I got ahead of myself. Thank you for that correction.


EVAN: No stress


JESSICA: But still higher than Olivia Courtney which I think is correct. Olivia Courtney from last week. The other person I wanted to mention- so Oregon really, on floor and beam they’ve got it. They totally have it. There’s a lot of falls in this meet. There were a lot of falls from just UCLA on beam. One from one of their veterans, an elite Brittany Harris on beam for Oregon. But was just kind of a messy meet but there were some great standout performances like Sydney Sawa leading the team with her alien hilarious comedy floor routine which I love. She does a reverse worm in the routine which you don’t see often. Very difficult, the reverse worm. And the biggest standout besides Maddie Gardiner in that meet was McMillan from Oregon. Are you ready for this? This is in fact a rolly skill Uncle Tim are you ready?


UNCLE TIM: Yes I’m ready


JESSICA: She does a double back spin on floor! Ah! Double back spin!


UNCLE TIM: Without getting a wedgie


JESSICA: That’s right. No wedgie because she has super strong abs so she scrunches herself up like a potato bug and is only spinning on a tiny portion of her back and that’s why she can make it around two times. And it is so awesome and so fast and it’s worth a B. It’s only worth a B which clearly should be fixed. That is a crime against all of the code that it’s only worth a B. That should obviously be a D because it’s really hard. I mean a front double full is an E and a double back spin’s a B? Have you guys tried a double back spin on carpet?


EVAN: Nope


JESSICA: Exactly. Because you wouldn’t because you’d be like that’s stupid everyone knows you do it on cardboard in your driveway. So it’s very difficult and I love her for doing the back spin.




JESSICA: So if you guys were going to summarize NCAA this week, what do you think we learned? What conclusions do you think we can draw from this week? Evan?


EVAN: I would say in a lot of the meets I watched I heard a lot of commentators call out chest position. And you know I am the chest position enforcement bureau. And I want those chests up not down, not in the middle. I want them up. And I think it was great to hear some of that acknowledgement. Because a lot of times fans that come to expect these huge scores oh it’s gotta be a 9.8 oh it’s gotta be a 9.975. But then it falls a little bit short. It’s because of those chest positions a lot of the time. So I like that people are noticing that and calling it out. But I still hope for a brighter tomorrow and higher chest positions on everything.


UNCLE TIM: I would have to say we haven’t talked about them just because their meets haven’t been broadcasted but I am watching Rutgers right now. I’m a nerd at heart and I like when nerds do well. And last year the team averaged a 194.016 and this year currently their average is a 195.2. And so they’re doing a lot better than they have in the past. And I’m curious to see what’s going to happen with them in the future, whether the 195s were a bit of an apparition or if they will continue to stay in that zone.


EVAN: I watched them yesterday actually against Ohio State


UNCLE TIM: And what did you think?


EVAN: I was intrigued. Somebody had mentioned it to me and they were like Rutger’s going 195. And I was like what’s up with that 195? So I watched and they actually ended up upsetting Ohio State at Ohio State. So good for them. I do think that they’re a team kind of on the rise. Remember a couple years ago when New Hampshire all the sudden was getting 196s and everyone was like what. Remember a couple years ago when Kent State was getting 196s and actually qualified to Nationals? I think that Rutgers is kind of in that dark horse category. I do think the beginning of their lineups are a bit weaker than the end. But they have some outstanding things definitely toward the end of their lineups. So just pulling up those front of the lineups I feel like they could contend any given day. You’ve got to be ready.


JESSICA: So Uncle Tim, while we have been enjoying the first meets of the NCAA season, what’s been happening over in the elite world? And what is with these weird videos?


UNCLE TIM: So the FIG is putting up some videos. In episode 68 we discussed the elite choreography rules. And I think we mentioned at the time that tumblr the social media site had many many feels and many many questions about the new rules. And the FIG it seems wants to answer these questions. So they put up a bunch of videos showing routines and how many deductions they would incur based on for instance artistry rules, etc. And so we talked a little bit about floor already. So let’s talk a little bit about some of the new beam rules. For instance, there is a video that goes that goes over the sideways requirement on beam. So if gymnasts do sideways movements, so if gymnasts do not do sideways movements plural, they will incur a .1 deduction. So from what I gather from the videos, sideways movements do not include a press handstand sideways on the beam, sideways movements do not include just a lone side somi, sideways movements do not include standing sideways on the beam with your feet apart bending over, sticking your head between your knees waving to the judges behind you. If that’s all you do, you will incur a .1 deduction. What do you guys think about this? Jess?


JESSICA: So I like it because I think this means you actually have to dance sideways. Like you know used to be you had to do actual skills sideways forward backward, dancing like you know. You had to actually put some effort in it. So I kind of like this actually. And I like that you can’t just fulfil it with you know a cartwheel or a well I don’t know. What people used to do like Shawn Johnson, she had a little chest sideways cartwheel but that wouldn’t count anymore I don’t think. I like it.


EVAN: I don’t have anything for this.


JESSICA: No thoughts. He’s like beam, please, can we talk about pommel horse.


EVAN: Not quite




UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. I guess so do you really have to move sideways on the beam in order for a routine to be artistic though?


JESSICA: Yeah because this is part of going back to compulsories. You’re supposed to show that you can do things, you have to show well roundedness in your dance and your skills. And so yes it should be a requirement.


UNCLE TIM: I guess based on the videos though it’s hard to determine how many seconds you need to be sideways or how many skills you need to be sideways in order for it to really count. I mean it seems like if you just do one skill or one pose it doesn’t count. But I don’t know how many skills you need to do. But that’s just me. The other beam video that has been going around is the difference between the two, there are two different versions of a two footed layout. And they’re a little bit confusing. So you can either get credit for an E when you do a two foot layout or credit for a D for two foot layout. And the difference seems to be if you your layout is at shoulder height when you do the layout and you can actually more or less keep a straight body when you do the layout, you get an E. But if it’s more like a whipback where your head is at the height of your butt and you pretty much pike down, then it’s a D.


JESSICA: Thank god for this. Honestly. I mean please, we’ve needed this for so long because a layout stepout is a freaking joke. It’s a whip back. And this needs to be defined for a long ass time. Oh I hated this for so long. And you know what? I feel like in IG long ago, Ziert did a whole or maybe it was one of those Stretching Out things that Dwight Normile does, or Crumlish he does them, was a whole thing about this. And I was like that’s right! It’s a whip back, it’s not a layout! Oh I feel so strongly about this I can’t even tell you.


UNCLE TIM: So this is only for the two footed layouts though not the layout step outs. But I do agree with you about layout step outs. They’re more like aerial back walkovers rather than actual layout step outs with rise of the chest. And competed-


EVAN: The chest! The chest!


UNCLE TIM: They key word of the phrase. This is episode 72, the chest version of GymCastic.


EVAN: Chest and birth




JESSICA: Chest position enforcement bureau, please let’s call us by our real title.


UNCLE TIM: So yeah those were two videos going around. So if you head over to the FIG’s website YouTube page you can look at a few more videos. Jess what’s going on in American elite gymnastics? Right now as we speak.


JESSICA: Oh my gosh. The first national team training camp is happening at the ranch in Texas. So you know that our Scott Bregman is he’s ours now, because we the gymternet has claimed him as our own because he is. And he is going to be putting up videos I’m sure and some news reports from there as he does. So make sure you’re following USAG, their YouTube channel, Twitter, Facebook to look for updates. Really exciting. McKayla Maroney is there. Who knows who else is there.


UNCLE TIM: Kyla Ross, Simone Biles, Brenna Dowell, and Sarah Finnegan. She’s back.


JESSICA: Yes, awesome. I’m so excited about this. This is oh this is going to be fabulous. And then who knows maybe we’ll find out who’s really going to compete in the American Cup. No I think they’re going to compete. I think it’ll be good.


UNCLE TIM: Oh sorry I was going to say they probably won’t decide that till the February camp, the American Cup lineup. And the other thing is Aly Raisman said she was hoping for either January or February camp and she’s not at the January camp. So we’ll have to keep our eyes open to see if she attends the February national team training camp.


EVAN: When did she say that?


UNCLE TIM: Couple months ago






JESSICA: Evan can you tell people how they can support the show?


EVAN: Certainly I can. So there’s options. Alright. Everybody loves options. You can jump on our Amazon store and by doing this as long as you start through the Amazon link on, a little portion of what you buy goes back to us. And then we’re able to provide bounty that is GymCastic. Or, or, if you want to skip the hassle and you don’t need to shop or buy anything, you just want to put a little in the pockets of the GymCastic show to help the show, you can use the donate button on the About Us page on You can also subscribe on iTunes or download the Stitcher app because it works on all devices including Android. So look at all those options. I can’t even remember half of what I just said, but it’s a lot to do. So hopefully you took notes.


UNCLE TIM: And we have a lot of options for contacting us. So you can always leave us a voicemail by calling us at 415-800-3191. Or our Skype username is GymCastic Podcast. You can email us at And you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. And Evan, did you know that we have transcripts?

EVAN: I didn’t. But I do feel like a tiny portion of my dream to be on Saturday Night Live has come to fruition because I know that they also have transcripts because I have searched and quoted them before. So for me to be in any transcript is a win. And I feel like Kristen Wiig. So. I like it.




JESSICA: Yeah [LAUGHS] Random. Did you know we have video playlists as well?


EVAN: I did. No I don’t know anything. I don’t know anything about these options we have. I thought it was just us like do these actually go out to people or is it just us talking?




EVAN: There’s a lot more. I get it. There’s many options. I don’t even know.


JESSICA: Yes many many options. And video playlists so you can watch what the hell we’re talking about which is very helpful sometimes. Especially when people are like what skill are you talking about? I don’t understand. Even when you put it in context and explain it specifically I still don’t know what you’re talking about. Watch the video playlist. Ok you guys for next week what are your absolute must watch meets? Give me one. Uncle Tim.


UNCLE TIM: So I’m a terrible person because I’m going to recommend a meet that you can’t stream. You can only go to.




JESSICA: So buy your ticket


UNCLE TIM: So it’s a meet at Stanford. It’s Michigan, California, Washington at Stanford on the men’s side. Yeah.


JESSICA: Michigan are going to be at Stanford this weekend?


UNCLE TIM: Yeah yeah. And it’s going to be Sam Mikulak’s first NCAA meet of the season because the American men were in China last week. And he didn’t compete last weekend if I’m not mistaken. So I’m looking forward to seeing Sam Mikulak dancing in Palo Alto this year.


JESSICA: Did Stacey Ervin go to China too? Did he compete? What’s happening with Stacey Ervin?


EVAN: He competed this past weekend. He didn’t have his best meet, so I think he’s just getting back into the swing of things. And Michigan was able to pull off the win. So that’s really good when you can have enough depth to when National team members might not have the best day, you can still come out with a victory. So that’s what happened there.


JESSICA: Ok. I mean we have to pace him. It’s a long time until World Championships so that’s fine. Evan how about for you?

EVAN: I am going to say Arkansas at Alabama. Main reason: Katherine Grable.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Shocker. Katherine Grable.


EVAN: Subtitle-


JESSICA: Is there anyone else on that team? I don’t think so.


EVAN: Subtitle reason: Katherine Grable. I mean just the effortlessness of her gymnastics is great. And Arkansas does have a legit team outside of Katherine Grable as well. So check them out. I think it’ll be interesting to see what Alabama does this weekend. They didn’t have too terribly good of a showing at the OZone invitational in Tennessee. There were some weird things going on. Milliner actually sat out. So hopefully she’s back in the lineup. And yeah it’ll be interesting. They’re a good mix of really really young and really really experienced. So see how that one pans out.




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 talk about gymternet news. And of course we’re all playing Fantasy Gymnastics. So how did your teams do. Uncle Tim?


UNCLE TIM: Alright, so [LAUGHS] I don’t know if there’s any other way to put this. But this past weekend I bombed harder than Alicia Sacramone at the 2008 Olympics. The first week, I did ok. I got a 195.475. This week, I just didn’t have time and I didn’t change my lineup. And I ended up with a 156 [LAUGHS].


JESSICA: That sucks. But it is based on averages. So.


UNCLE TIM: What about you Evan?


EVAN: I actually just clicked over if you heard that. 196.863. Hello. Which is actually still like pretty bad in my fantasy league in my division. But I will take that because alright here’s the thing. Here is the thing. I got so excited during this fantasy draft that I picked like 100 f-ing gymnasts. And I was like she does one cool thing, she walked past me on the sidewalk one time, definitely. I’m all about her. So I have a really really random assortment of athletes. And so I don’t want to say that for me to get a 196.863 is pretty legit, but it is. It is. So patting myself on the back. I was alright with it.


JESSICA: Well that’s nice for you Evan. But my team got a 197.4 something. Yes. That’s right. Which I believe puts me in like second place in my division. And it is Miss one Sydney Sawa, the Minnesota girls I chose, Moriah Martin at Denver who I feel like everyone overlooks. So we had a question from one of our listeners. It’s from Olivia in the United Kingdom. Thank you for writing in Olivia. She talks a lot about listening to the show. She loves it. She’s a new fan of the sport since the Olympics. And she says “however through listening to your show every week, I have learned a lot. And love being a member of the gymternet.” Yay welcome to the gymternet family Olivia! So she says that she’s really informed about elite but she’s not sure about NCAA. She’s just signed up for Fantasy Gym. And what’s frustrating for her is she does not know how to tell how to put up on which apparatus. How is she supposed to tell who’s going to compete when and how she should submit her lineup. So. Olivia, this is a frustration for all of us because we never know who’s going to compete and be in the lineup. How do you guys, what’s your strategy for deciding on your lineup?


UNCLE TIM: Don’t ask me, I got a 156.




JESSICA: Evan even though you only got a 196, do you want to answer that?


EVAN: A meager 196. I would say I look a lot, not a lot, I don’t invest too much into it. But I feel like Fantasy Gymnastics is set up in this iteration online to be pretty helpful to seeing the most recent scores and also the average of the scores when you’re choosing your lineup. So that’s a pretty good gauge to go on. But also remember it’s early on in the lineup, might have some freshmen who are either coming off injuries or you’re just pacing some athletes as well. So it really is kind of a coin toss. You can go on who’s been competing, but don’t forget that some athletes will rest before conference, regional, and national meets. So later on in the season. So there’s nothing to really bank on. And I feel like that’s one of the differentiators in Fantasy Gymnastics is we don’t get a bonafide press release saying RGIII will definitely be playing this weekend. So yeah it’s kind of the beauty of it. Frustration, but also part of the appeal. Makes it fun.


JESSICA: Yeah exactly. There’s no guarantees. It’s not the NFL. And you just kind of have to guess based on the scores they’ve posted or what you think’s going to happen. So. And I would just like to say I mean I know I’m bragging about 197 but I completely forgot to set my lineup last week so I got a big fat 0. So I don’t actually rank anywhere on my conference in real life because it’s based on averages and I have a 0 and a 197.4. Which gives me no average. So I’m not actually winning anything, even though I like to brag that theoretically I’m in second place. So. I’ve set many many alarms now so that I remember to set my lineup.


UNCLE TIM: The truth comes out. So Jess, while you’re telling the truth, do you also have an apology for a girl who once upon a time injured her face while sliding down a beam and scratching her face up with a sparkle?


JESSICA: Yes. I feel like karma is as we know, a huge bitch. And that has come to bite me in the ass. So you know we always laughed very hard about Kelsi Blalock and her poor sticker face injury on beam. And of course this weekend my friend did my nails for me and she put these sparkles on my nails which I just think are fabulous. Then I was coming home from a meet really late and I scratched my eye with you know you scratch your eye or whatever but I used the finger that had that sparkles on it and I got a giant scratch on my eyelid from the sparkles on my nail polish. So I would just like to say my apologies for ever making fun of anyone for wearing sparkles and I’m a giant hypocrite. And my eyelid hurts.




JESSICA: That’s all


UNCLE TIM: Alright. Then in world record news, a girl from New Hampshire recently did 30 handstand pirouettes and now has the record for handstand pirouettes. Do you guys think you could do that?


JESSICA: Do you have to do them all in a row without stepping down?




JESSICA: No I could not


EVAN: How many?




EVAN: Definitely no, no. Strong no


UNCLE TIM: Me either. I used to break capillaries in my face doing gymnastics like holding handstands for a long time. And I just can’t imagine doing 30 handstand pirouettes. My face would look nasty afterward.


JESSICA: If you could step down in between them


UNCLE TIM: Then what’s the point?




UNCLE TIM: Do one, stop, take half a sandwich, do another


JESSICA: Take a nap, have some tea, then I could do it. Over the course of a whole day, but not in a row. I’m just saying theoretically like my team, how my team’s in second place theoretically.


UNCLE TIM: Gotcha. The other news from the gymternet that was really going around and kind of went viral at least on Facebook is the story of a little girl from Rockford, Illinois. She had leukemia and lost a leg and her gymnastics coach said you know I’ve never coached a one leg gymnast before but I am willing to try. And they kind of look at her story in this newspaper article. We’ll link to it on our website. It’s one of those feel good stories. And I don’t know I am very impressed. I don’t know how I would, I don’t know what I would do if I lost a leg, if I’d still be like alright I want to do gymnastics or if I’d just wallow in my own self pity. Probably the latter. So I’m impressed with this young little girl.


JESSICA: So as you guys know we have our listener survey up. And I was talking last week about how I love some of the suggestions we’ve gotten from our listener survey. So I wanted to read you a couple of them. Please take the survey. It’s going to be up for another two weeks so there’s plenty of time. We love getting your feedback and we’re going to implement it all. Maybe Uncle Tim will make some sexy data out of it. Some charts. Some pie charts. Some graphs. So one of the things we asked is if you guys had ideas for the gym nerd challenge, some things you’d like us to do. [LAUGHS] So one person said they wanted the challenge to be to compete [LAUGHS] to be the next member of the Azerbaijan gymnastics team. I don’t know why I think that’s so hilarious. I love that. Ok. One gym nerd challenge they want is do a floor pose next to your local tourist attraction. I completely love that idea too. There one person suggested their dream guest host for the show would be Martha Karolyi. I wholeheartedly agree. I think it’s a fantastic idea. Another person who thinks we have magic wand, I like to think I do too, suggested that we get Maroney on the American Cup roster. So I think maybe we should just start a gymternet petition to put her on the roster, guest star McKayla Maroney. American Cup.


UNCLE TIM: It’s not entirely impossible as she competed all around at Worlds. So if you know Simone or Kyla don’t compete, she could very well find herself on that roster.


JESSICA: One of the other suggestions we got says the following: “Thanks for all of your hard work on the podcast. I enjoy listening to it and it makes my commute much more tolerable. Have you ever thought of doing any travel packages to major domestic and international competitions?” I love this idea. Gymcastic travel. Yes. Can you imagine how fun that would be? What if we could charter our own private jet. We could have a floor routine contest, trivia contest on the plane, the signs we could come up with and make on the flight over to hold up in the arena. They would be legendary. Legendary. I think that’s fantastic. All travel agencies please contact me immediately and we will start setting this up. So remember to take the survey and give us your ideas. Until next week I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics.


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


EVAN: And I’m Evan. Find me on Twitter @yoev


JESSICA: Remember to take the survey. See you guys next week.




JESSICA: I’ve got, man I’ve got audio clips this week. I have my sound machine. I’m so ready, it’s not even funny.


UNCLE TIM: I bet the sound clip is “Oh boogers!”


JESSICA: That’s exactly what it is, thank you. You are correct.


EVAN: Madison is a member of the Cherokee- Oh boogers!




JESSICA: That was right, that was the best thing ever.


UNCLE TIM: Working at McDonalds, that’s Jess’ wish for everything.





[expand title=”Episode 72: John Orozco”]

JOHN: I try to- everytime we do interviews or anything everyone’s on their best behavior and trying to you know just give off this great vibe like we’re all perfect, I’m in the gym and everything is going great. It’s not always like that. People should know about the struggles that we have you know? And the mental pressures and everything that goes with 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 72 for January 24th, 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 world, bringing you the most fascinating people from around the gymternet. Today it is an all interview episode with ninja prodigy John Orozco. Remember that next week is the final week to submit your responses for the listener survey. Please help up make the show better for you and take five minutes to do the survey. We really really care about what you guys think and really want to make the show better for you. I want to give a special shout out this week to Hayley who recently suffered a concussion. Want you to get well soon. We recommend since concussions suck so bad that you should lay on the couch and watch Stick It 100 times. That is our special prescription for recovery from concussions. So feel better Hayley. If you guys like the interview with John Orozco please let him know. You guys know elites have precious little personal time and so for him to take a whole hour just to hang out with us and chat was just really gracious. So tweet at him, leave him a Facebook message. Just let him know if you like this interview. So now, in the words of Blythe Lawrence, prepare to fall in love with John Orozco. He is such a sweetheart and you’re going to want to make him yours by the end of this interview. Enjoy the show this week and thanks for listening.




BLYTHE: Today’s interview with 2012 US Olympian John Orozco is brought to you by Tumbl Trak which is hosting a huge post Christmas inventory reduction sale on its website this week. Deck out your gym with Jack and Jill mats, inclines, octagons, cheer floor, and much more. And while you’re there have a look at one cool gadget that recently caught my eye: the laser beam. Not a handheld laser, but a uniquely designed beam developed by master coach Leonard Isaacs. It isn’t just a piece of equipment, it’s a training concept. Visit to learn more. Tumbl Trak. Do it again.




BLYTHE: US Olympian John Orozco is only 21, but he’s already lived several lives as a gymnast. Three time junior national champion, Orozco’s talents were evident from childhood. And in 2012 he achieved two goals: becoming the US champion and representing his country at the London Olympic Games. As we get into 2014 and Rio moves closer, John is back in the gym and working hard to become even better after recovering from an ACL tear sustained during the post Olympic tour. In this frank and interesting interview, he talks about the Olympic highs and lows, what he’d like to change, and his big goals inside and outside of the gym.




UNCLE TIM: So John you’re going to be competing at the American Cup very soon, congratulations. Was that something that you-


JOHN: Hopefully


UNCLE TIM: Hopefully?


JOHN: Did you say competing?


UNCLE TIM: At the American Cup, yeah?


JOHN: Oh yeah, I thought you said King of the American Cup




JOHN: I’ll be competing yeah. But yeah I will be competing.


UNCLE TIM: Ok and was that something that you expected to happen or was it kind of a surprise when they told you you’d be competing at the American Cup?


JOHN: I was hoping for it. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was hoping for it. So I’m glad that I got selected. Yeah. Because I already did the first two world cups so I was kind of hoping I’d get to do this one too.


UNCLE TIM: Great. Well we look forward to seeing you. And if we’re not mistaken you’re heading to China very soon. Why is that?


JOHN: We leave tomorrow to China for a training camp with the national team in China. So we [inaudible] China.


UNCLE TIM: Wow that’ll be terrific. So what do you hope to accomplish there? Maybe work on parallel bars skills or something with the Chinese since they’re fantastic at that?


JOHN: I’m hoping to get some tips especially on vault. It’s kind of funny because I’ve been trying to get back in shape and after Christmas break and everything. And it seems like I take a few steps forward on some events then two steps back and it switches the next day. But my vaults are looking a little better than usual so hopefully I can keep that going but you never know. Sometimes be like oh I did this great vault today and the next day be like where did it go. It vanished.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. And can you tell us what’s going on with your vaults? What do you think is holding you back on vault?


JOHN: I think a lot to do with it is probably London because that just tanked on vault really bad. Pretty much choked. But I think a lot of it is from London and trying to get my confidence back and be sure of myself down that runway instead of thinking about oh crap I hope I land this. I should be thinking alright good technique good form stick. You know?




JOHN: But you know I have a few years but still trying to get through that. So yeah.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. And at US Nationals you competed a kasumatsu vault but then at the world cups you went back to the handspring vault. Is there any reason for that?


JOHN: Yeah well it actually was a tsuk 1.5. I’m trying to learn kasumatsu right now because when I was younger I learned round off and my twisting two different ways. So now I’m having to go back to scratch on vault and learn relearn my round off the other way so I can do it correctly. But it’s pretty tough to do that. I didn’t have a lot of time from nationals to worlds or I mean nationals to the world cup events, so I just went back to my older vault that I know that I can usually just pull it out most of the time.


UNCLE TIM: Ok gotcha. And can you tell us about why you ended up moving to the US Olympic Training Center?


JOHN: Oh well I moved here three years ago because I wanted to really throw myself into gymnastics. And really commit myself. Because I felt like I wanted to go to college and I wanted to go to NCAA team but I thought it was going to be the best thing ever. But I really wanted to just give it all I got in gymnastics and not have any other distractions. And that’s the real reason why I went here. But I think it was a good decision for me because I was distracted and everything else was all about gymnastics here and that’s really what I wanted to focus on. Especially after tearing my achillies two years before the Games I was like alright I need as much time as possible to really focus on my gymnastics and not have any other distractions. So that was the real reason why I came here.


UNCLE TIM: And I mean this is the time to gym nerd out and I’m just curious should we expect to see any new skills in 2014?


JOHN: Maybe. It’ll be a surprise. So I can’t give it away yet. But hopefully yes you will see new skills.


UNCLE TIM: Can you tell us what you’re working on or is it a top secret situation?


JOHN: Some of it’s top secret. Let’s see. Pommels is a secret. Floor’s a secret. [LAUGHS] My vault I’m not sure about my vault yet because I don’t even know what I’m doing. Because my handspring double full’s getting a little better. I’m actually learning how to block now. We’ll see because pretty much every practice I’m doing yurchenkos, kas, double fronts, and I’m like going for all these different vaults which is [inaudible]. So vault’s kind of like a wildcard for me right now. We’ll see at Winter Cup what I’m going to do and American Cup and everything. Pbars isn’t going to change too much I don’t think. Rings, I’m hoping to get a little stronger on rings. We might be seeing a few more strength skills but not that many because I don’t want to kill myself on rings trying to get stronger. And then that’s about. Yeah. Just trying to refine everything.


UNCLE TIM: Alright. And obviously the yurchenko was the skill that you tore your achilles on. And if I recall correctly once you said you would never start doing yurchenkos again. What changed your mind about that?


JOHN: Pretty much my coach was like listen, you’ve got to get over it because my yurchenko vault is pretty good compared to my double full. My technique. But for me it’s really it’s mental. It’s really mental for my yurchenko vaults. Because you have to be so technically perfect to be on like really makes me mentally nervous. So that’s part of the reason why I’m kind of fearful when I’m doing my yurchenko vaults. But it’s just something I have to get over. But we’ll see. We’ll never know what kind of vault I’m going to do next, so yeah.


UNCLE TIM: Alright. And how does that feel? Does that make you nervous not knowing which vault you’re going to compete or which one you’re going to do next?


JOHN: A little bit. But not too worried about vault because it’s not like my individual strongest event. So I’m just hoping to get a good 5.6 vault to be consistent.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. And is there any chance that you might bring back your full twisting double back off parallel bars?


JOHN: No. [LAUGHS] I mean I don’t know. Usually I stick my double pike and it’s really good. So I don’t want to you know have to be worrying about alright I have to get this full in to my feet after a whole routine of nine skills. And I don’t know. I’m really confident and comfortable with my double pike. But we’ll see you never know. My coach might think my routine’s too easy so I have to do it. But yeah.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. And one event that’s really difficult for a little boys to learn is pommel horse. And you actually are one of the US gymnasts with a really good D score on pommel horse. So can you tell us what your secret is? How did you learn how to circle so well?


JOHN: Well [LAUGHS] I wouldn’t say my circle is perfect at all. Compared to the national guys. But I guess in the US my routine’s ok. I think most of it is just a lot of drills and a lot of shoulder stretching. And what I actually do, I go into support hold like a I go on the pommel horse, I go on one pommel, and I do a support hold with my hips up in the air maintaining that same position of the circle. And I just hold it for about 30 seconds and I try to push my hips up to the sky as much as I can. I used to do those drills a lot and just circles on the floor mushroom, on the one pommel. A lot of drills like that can really help. That’s pretty much all I would have to say. And the drills and also just doing a lot of pommel horse. Because we do a lot of pommel horse here at the OTC. I think for every routine that we do on other events, we do like at least two or three pommel horse routines.




JOHN: I guess that would be my advice.


UNCLE TIM: Recently you did the Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular and it was on NBC. Yeah it was a lot of fun. You threw some really big throwback skills like the side somi on floor and then you also did the sideways roll on parallel bars like the 80 year old.


JOHN: Yeah I did rip that off from her. That was pretty cool so I really wanted to try that I was like alright I’m gonna go for it. Last minute thing that was pretty cool.


UNCLE TIM: Awesome. Was it hard to learn? Or was it just kind of easy?


JOHN: No I just kept looking at the technique that she used and I just kind of did it. It’s pretty easy for me. I’m pretty sure when I’m 80 I won’t be able to do that. So I give her props.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. And you really seem to enjoy performing at these shows. So what’s the best and worst part about doing them?


JOHN: The only bad part about doing them is just missing time for training. But it actually wasn’t that bad because we were getting to the holiday season so it wasn’t like I was missing important training or anything. But a big part of it is just staying in shape and everything and being in the ice rink is a little strange because we’re cold and we have to do our routines and our muscles aren’t warm. But it’s really not that bad though. It’s still fun. And once you actually have an audience and you have routines and stuff to do, it’s more fun that rehearsing it and going through it and people missing steps and doing it when everyone’s kind of- that’s the only bad part. But a lot of it is just fun and good characters and everything like that. So I think it’s always, I always like to perform you know without the pressure of having to actually you know execute a great routine with good execution. Being able to do my gymnastics and have fun and get out there is amazing.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. And how does the Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular compare to something like the tour? The post Olympic tour.


JOHN: It’s kind of the same but not really. I mean tour is a whole different animal. It’s just so much more grueling because we have three or four shows night after night. And you know you don’t get a lot of training time. And you have to jump back into it the next show. It’s a little tougher. But I think it’s still fun. Especially when you see the crowd’s reaction to all your performances and stuff. I think that part is fun. And the reason why I actually hurt myself is because I was actually going for my big skills like an idiot. Because the point of tour is you know perform and show off and everything. But it’s not like you have to do your big skills. You know? Before a lot of fans that aren’t really into gymnastics that much, it’s always post Olympic, so you get the audience that watched gymnastics maybe for the last year because of the Olympics and they don’t really know that much so it doesn’t take that much to really impress everyone. And I was the only one doing all my real skills because I was like alright I need to be in shape after this so I’m going to start getting ready now. Not a good idea. And that’s what I learned on tour. So. But yeah mostly just pure fun and enjoying the crowd and getting the support we get from the audience.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. Can you walk us through that night when you hurt yourself? You seemed pretty upset when it happened. I think that you posted on Facebook maybe something about no one really treating it as an important injury. Can you just kind of walk us through that night?


JOHN: Yeah. I got really angry. Because well I don’t want to talk bad about any of the helping staff that we had on tour or anything. But you know I hurt myself, I threw my double front half out dismount on pbars. It was actually really good. I stuck it actually and I was really high. But I just wasn’t tight on the landing. So yeah I heard a pop and I felt a pop. And I was like oh crap. Oh no. So I look down at my leg to see if it’s ok and I’m like well it looks intact. So it was during the performance, and I walked around a little bit and I was like oh my it feels really loose and achy and you know I was just like this is not right. So the lights went out and the number finished and I walked backstage and I was like I think I need a wheelchair. And one of the helping staff was like you do? I was like yeah I really hurt my knee. And everyone’s running around getting to the next number. I can’t run, I can’t do anything. I’m still standing on it and I’m like ok I really need a wheelchair and they’re like you’re fine you’re still walking. And I’m like get me a wheelchair! And finally they got me a wheelchair and they were evaluating me and they were like we’re not really sure what’s wrong. It looks ok. Maybe you might’ve dislocated it. And I’m like ok what does that mean. And they’re like in a few weeks you should be ok. And I’m like ok can I get an MRI? She’s like no you have to actually go to the next city, so maybe in a few days you can get an MRI. I’m like no I think I need an MRI like right now. She’s like we can get you an xray. No it’s not my bone I can feel my ligaments moving around, I need that MRI. I had to really fight for the MRI. It’s ridiculous. But I think that was just because I didn’t really act as if it was that bad. So it wasn’t they weren’t sure how bad it was because my reaction wasn’t over the top or anything. I was kind of like something’s wrong. But yeah I was just really angry because it was right after the Olympics and I was already kind of upset after the Olympics not accomplishing what I wanted to. And then it was the time to have fun and of course I go hurt myself. So that was why I was angry.


UNCLE TIM: Wow. So can you tell us about how the ACL recovery has been in comparison to your achilles recovery?


JOHN: Just getting back in shape and trying to get my knee back in shape a second time. Just going through that whole process a second time is the toughest thing I think for me because I was like I already did this do I have to do this again, this sucks. And you just kind of don’t want to accept it a second time around but you have to. So yeah I mean in comparison it was actually smoother than my achilles. But mentally it was a little tougher for me.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. And have you ever talked to a doctor and asked you know why me? Why these two horrible injuries? Because I mean ACL and achilles are kind of the two worst injuries you can have in gymnastics. And so have you ever asked a doctor that?


JOHN: Yeah. I mean part of it is just my strength and also flexibility. But the ACL thing was just a fluke. You can’t stop that from happening. You can have a bad landing no matter how strong you are. But my achilles was the only issue was my ankles being really unflexible and of course the terrible landing. It’s always landings. Usually my landings are pretty good. But yeah most of it is just flukes and now [inaudible] prevention classes, like ACL prevention classes that have me doing aerobic motions and stuff and stabilizing my knee so there’s less of a chance of tearing it.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. Well we all wish you a very healthy 2014, and with that I’m going to hand you over to Blythe for some more questions.


BLYTHE: Alright so I’d like to go back to London for a second because we haven’t really talked about that yet. And I was there. And in the media with the press there. And I remember watching you do an interview, I think after team finals, in which somebody asked you what you felt you’d learned from this competition. And you just kind of stood there and shook your head and said I don’t know. And so you’ve had more than a year to think about it now. And I’d like to revisit the question. What did you learn from competing in the Olympic Games and being an Olympian?


JOHN: I haven’t really thought about that because I usually try to block out those negative memories. But the thing I learned from London I think one thing that I really learned from London was actually trying to get into my bubble and not really worrying about the audience or even other countries that are competing beside me.


BLYTHE: Do you worry about the audience when you’re competing? Because one thing we were talking about before you got on the phone here is gosh he’s just so cool. He looks like nothing fazes him. But is that what it’s really like or is that the projection you give off?


JOHN: It looks like that. But it isn’t half the time. I think most of the competitions that I went to before Olympics were easy for me to just block out everything you know? I’d been to Nationals a few times and I made it to World Championships. All this stuff. And I was used to it. And then because I never used to get off mentally in competitions no matter what happened. But I think going into the Olympic Games I wasn’t really prepared for the difference in prestige of the competition you know? It was just it’s just a whole different animal being at the Olympics. And I think mentally I just got really overwhelmed, especially in the media. Everything was kind of blown out and [inaudible] all this stuff. And all I [inaudible] the team, the US team, we were expected to win you know? And I think that really threw me off a little mentally because I was too worried about leading everybody else and doing well for my country and doing well for my family, teammates, doing my job, thinking about oh that wasn’t good enough for them I can do better on my next event, hit this event and everything will be fine.


BLYTHE: Yeah definitely in the run up to London there were a lot of stories that got written about you, about your rise in gymnastics, about your expectations for the Olympics. And also you were kind of branded like you said as this kid from the Bronx. In every broadcast that was your tagline, here’s John Orozco, the kid from the Bronx. Is being from the Bronx a source of pride for you? Or do you ever wish sometimes they would maybe get away from that a little bit? Do you ever think hey I’m more than just the kid from the Bronx?


JOHN: I mean I appreciate the support and everything I’ve gotten, so I wouldn’t want to change that. But sometimes I do kind of wish that no one knew who I was anymore so I have that pressure. But I can’t think like that. Now that I’ve been to the Olympics and even now that I’ve been to the Olympics and now that I’ve seen how kids can be so inspired by one person just making it, I think that’s helping me get through the next Olympics and that’s going to help me mentally kind of get back on the horse and keep going toward my goals.


BLYTHE: Do you get a lot of letters from kids who sort of say to you, I’m kind of like you. Either my family doesn’t have a whole lot of money to put towards athletics for me but I want to do gymnastics. Or I’m not like the prototypical gymnast and you’ve really inspired me. Do you have people reaching out to you and saying that?


JOHN: Yeah, I do get a lot of letters, a lot of Facebook messages, Twitter tweets at me about kids that are inspired by my story and me making the Olympics and everything and a lot of parents that write about their children and how I inspired them and their whole family. And a lot of it to me seems unbelievable because me personally, I think I did crap at the Olympics. You know, I didn’t prove anything. I choked and I just did terrible. But nobody sees it like that. I just personally see it like that. And I think that I have to focus on what everyone else sees which is that life isn’t perfect and it’s not going to be an easy road to success. I was talking actually to someone that I met last night. I went to this, it’s kind of like a Christian gathering, like a little group at this person’s house and he was telling me that, in a lot of ways, me falling at the Olympics was more inspiring than if I would have gotten gold because it shows that I’m human and I’m relatable you know. It just doesn’t happen that easily. There’s going to be tough times and it’s going to feel like the universe is against you. But it’s better than (inaudible.) See I think people seeing that me getting back up and still going for my goal one more time is more inspiring than doing it perfectly the first time. So I guess that would be the reason why I would keep going. A lot of times after the London Games, I was thinking to myself, I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m working so hard for what? For me to just fall under the pressure and choke? It’s not worth it. And I think about all the kids that I’m inspired by. Even if I don’t do great at the next Olympics, it’s still inspiring to see that I’m not giving up after one fall, after one bad Olympics.


BLYTHE: It’s maybe a useless question to ask but if you could go back in time and do the Olympics over again, would you change anything?


JOHN: I think before where I am now, I would say yes but now I don’t think so. Because like I said, the world seeing that it’s not super easy to just go to your first Olympics and just win like no problem, and seeing that I’m still going to go for it for a second time and maybe even a third time, I think that sends a strong message there than going to the Olympics and winning gold your first time just like nothing you know. That kind of shows oh well I can’t do that, he’s just like me. Seeing that I didn’t do as well as I wanted to and still going for a second one, I think that shows kids what dedication is really about. I think that can be really inspiring. So yeah I wouldn’t want to go back and change anything.


BLYTHE: During the Olympic run up, there were a lot of stories about your family. And I hope you don’t find this a rude question, but do you feel like, or did you feel like at times, you were putting too much pressure on yourself to support your family?


JOHN: I definitely had been putting too much pressure on myself because I want to be this perfect gymnast that never makes mistakes, that always wins. But reality is that it’s not that easy. That’s not how it is. But I still keep striving every day to become that. So even Uchimura, he’s had bad days before. Nobody’s going to be super perfect every competition and just win like no problem. There’s going to be days when it’s going to be tough and there’s going to be bad competitions and everything. But that doesn’t mean you should stop giving it your all even though you feel like sometimes it’s just worthless. Sometimes I just say that in my mind, like this is such BS. Why am I trying to do this? This is useless. I’m trying so hard and I don’t see the results panning out. But that’s when I just keep my head down and I keep working.


BLYTHE: Outside of gymnastics, what are some of the goals that you have for yourself?


JOHN: Actually becoming more confident when I compete, because I never used to have an issue with confidence. You know, even though I can still play it off pretty well, like I’m confident and everything, I’ve still been recently getting really nervous when I go to competitions. So I think the one thing that I’m going to start working on, especially this year, is building my confidence and getting my consistency back, kind of I guess, getting my mojo back. I don’t know how to describe it.


BLYTHE: Getting your mojo back is a nice way to describe it. When do you feel like you lost it?


JOHN: I definitely lost it at the Games. Yeah I think just going to the Olympic Games, the failure that I felt that I brought to myself and my team really knocked my confidence and just changed me as a person, negatively. So now I’m just trying to get out of that rut and just try to reintroduce myself to myself.


BLYTHE: Do you think that media pressure phased you or was it just all pressure that you were putting on yourself? And today, do you look at the media any differently?


JOHN: It was definitely a combination. I don’t look at the media any differently but I know that when I’m getting closer to a competition, I shouldn’t really be focusing on media or anything. A lot of times, I’ve been trying to, like at World Championships, I went on Facebook and I posted some pictures and said like hey I’m going to competition and everything. Usually I would look through the comments and stuff and see what people were saying and it wasn’t good for me. Especially, after the Olympics and stuff, all I see is Facebook comments like oh this kid sucks. He can’t get it together anymore and he’s a mental wreck. I get down on myself for that but then realizing wait, why am I even looking at this? I need to be focusing on my competition, not how people think I am as a gymnast. And that’s something I’ve learned too from London.


BLYTHE: On a bit of a lighter note, we have absolutely loved seeing these gorgeous modeling photos that you’ve been doing. And we were wondering what the story behind those was.


JOHN: I used to never really consider it modeling. I always thought of modeling as like down the runway and everything. I’m a little too short for that. It was really fun. I liked doing the photoshoots. It was really cool. I worked with Michael Thomas, who’s a really good photographer. He was amazing. He has such a good eye. It was really fun. I really like doing stuff like that. It was really long too. I thought it was just going to be like two hours. It turned into like seven hours or something crazy like that, like five hours. I was like jeez. I had a lot of fun. I wouldn’t mind doing more of it in the future. especially like athletic stuff like that.


BLYTHE: We ask every male gymnast who comes on the show this. We’re always on the lookout for ways to make men’s gymnastics more viewer friendly. We suggested sort of the usual things. Men should take their tops off and compete topless. There should be music added, maybe some dance element to floor routines, eliminating one or two choice events. And we just wanted to ask you also. What do you think needs to be done to make men’s gymnastics a little bit more crowd friendly to people who are maybe kind of like more fair weather fans?


JOHN: I don’t know. I mean I guess the only thing would be to build more gyms in different places. For instance, what I want to do in the future is one day, have a non profit organization in the Bronx geared toward gymnastics for young kids. And not just in the Bronx but in every kind of inner city places that don’t really have opportunity to experience gymnastics and because of financial issues or just availability issues, they’re not privy to a gym. They don’t have any interest because it’s not something that’s available to them. And not just in the Bronx, but a lot of areas in the country have like pretty much no idea what gymnastics is. So I think in the future, what I want to do is open up that gym in the Bronx and have kids come in for free and experience gymnastics and be able to train without worrying about the expense of gymnastics or worrying about traveling or any of those other issues that usually come with gymnastics. I want them to experience it and have fun and not have to worry about all the things that I had to worry about growing up in the Bronx trying to be a gymnast.


BLYTHE: We would be so thrilled if you would sing a little ditty for us just to kind of cap your interview. And Jess has a couple of listener questions that she wants to ask but we’d be delighted to hear you sing if you’re willing.


JOHN: Yeah. Well I got one. One of my favorite artists is John Legend. It’s called Save Room.


[sings Save Room by John Legend]


That’s about it. Yeah.


BLYTHE: That was amazing. Just amazing.


JOHN: Oh thank you. It was alright. I love to sing and one day, I think I want to be a singer, I want to be an artist but it’s just really tough. It’s a lot of time and everything and I’m still dedicated to gymnastics. I’ve been experiencing I guess and trying to kind of figure out the singer I want to be, you know. You could be pop, you could be R&B, anything so. I’ve been getting into more recently John Legend, a lot of his music so that’s what I’ve been trying to do.


BLYTHE: So Jess, I know that you have a few questions from our listeners. So I will throw it over to you. John I just want to say you have been wonderful to talk to. Thank you so much for taking all this time.


JOHN: Oh yeah no problem.


JESSICA: Okay questions from listeners. These are very serious, very serious questions. Okay the first one is will you be doing the Body Issue of ESPN Magazine?




JESSICA: No because you would never say yes or no because they haven’t asked you yet?


JOHN: Well they haven’t asked me yet. I don’t know. I think it’d be really cool but I’m just not ready for the world to see all of that yet. If you can imagine this, I’m not very comfortable with people seeing my body that much. I’m not comfortable with people seeing all of me exposed like that. So I’m not sure if I would do it quite yet, maybe sometime in the future but yeah I don’t know about that.


JESSICA: Okay, okay fair enough. Someday in the future, we will ask you the question again.


JOHN: Don’t they see enough in the tights and everything?


JESSICA: I know. Well that’s the thing. Alicia Sacramone was practically naked anyway so oh why not just do this. I never thought of it that way. But then you could think of it the reverse too. Like uh you already see everything. So I have to ask though. I have to give you a little background on this question. So we always talk about vault for you because we’re always like how can we fix this and what’s happening. As fans of course, we want to like help in the process and make everything perfect for you. So we’re always discussing this. In one of the recent episodes, I talked about, I wondered if you wore glasses because when I was a kid, I was terrified of vault and always had the wrong steps and always like falling into my coach and knocking him out when he was trying to spot me. It was a mess. And it turned out, like I totally needed glasses and I couldn’t see correctly. I couldn’t see the vault and I didn’t even realize you were supposed to actually see it perfectly, like clearly, and you were supposed to see where the vault was. So that is where this question came from. It came from a positive place of my personal experience. So the question is do you wear glasses or contacts?


JOHN: I’ve never worn glasses, not as a kid, not now. I’ve never had an issue seeing the equipment. It’s just always been my technique. There was some kind of mental block or something.


JESSICA: I can totally understand that.


JOHN: But I think a lot of the time, when you’re having trouble or mental block or anything, it’s good to go back, take a deep breath and get up and try to do drills again and try to think about what you used to do.


JESSICA: Yep, that was really good advice. Next question is when are you trying out for American Idol?


JOHN: Oh that’s a good question. I don’t know about American Idol. That’s too tough. They have a lot of good singers. Like I said, I’ve never had a professional training or anything. Like, I’ve never had any singing lessons. I wouldn’t be very confident going in there, like oh hey I’m an Olympic gymnast, I can do this too. No, I think I need to prepare for it.


JESSICA: But you can do everything else. You have like a black belt in Taekwondo, you can sing. I’m sure you have a bunch of other talents we just don’t know about too. I’m sure you could pick it up. They coach you. Go on The Voice. You have a coach. How about The Voice?


JOHN: That would be awesome. The Voice you said?


JESSICA: Yeah The Voice. The one with like Shakira and Christina Aguilera and all those guys.


JOHN: Funny you should mention something about that. I can’t say anything though. I will be, I guess venturing into that kind of world pretty soon hopefully. But nothing’s set in stone. But I think people should be prepared. I really can’t say anything .


JESSICA: Okay. Oh my God, I’m so excited now! Oh my God, people are going to be so excited! Okay, yay yay yay! Whatever it is, we’re thrilled. That’s always how these things are. Still exciting though. People will be excited you are going that way. Okay now this is the most important question of them all which is….we’ve asked other athletes this before. But they have not given us detailed enough answers. They were not sufficient so we need the real scoop from you. We all know that after Worlds and World Cups and everything and Olympics of course, there are after parties. Sometimes there’s the banquet that they have after the meet. If you were going to rank the top two post meet parties/banquets, which ones would they be? And why?


JOHN: Well I always think that the post competition banquets at world championships and pretty much any big international world cup competition, I think the banquets are awesome because we get to be in an atmosphere where we’re not competing against each other. We’re just kind of having fun. We’re not even in the gym. So I think that’s the best part of it. We’re not in the gym. We’re not trying to show off or do anything. We’re just having fun mingling and actually getting to know our competitors and I think that’s one of the best parts about it. And I would say probably World Championships and pretty much any world cup event post banquet is pretty amazing. And we get to talk to cute girls too. They usually keep the girls away from us. It’s not like you have time to talk to girls outside of the gym. So we finally get to meet them at the banquets so it’s pretty cool.


JESSICA: So has there been a best, like if you were going to say the best one that you had the most fun with the girls, maybe on the dance floor, which event would that have been?


JOHN: Besides Tour, I don’t know. I guess all of them. I can’t really pick a favorite. They just keep getting better and better.


JESSICA: Is there anything else that you want people to know or you want to talk about or anything else that you want your fans to know?


JOHN: I always forget that I have actual fans. Like, I talk to some of my fans on Facebook and stuff. I’ll just message them if they sent me a nice message on Twitter. I’ll just say thanks for the support and keep it coming [LAUGHS]. Yeah thanks for the support, especially personally for me and for the sport of gymnastics.


JESSICA: I have to tell you, okay we’ve interviewed a lot of people. Blythe of course has been doing this forever. She’s interviewed everyone in the whole world and this is one of the best interviews we’ve had. You are so honest, so forthcoming. Even when you’re talking about Tour, you know it was sucky but I don’t want to put people down. This is my experience. And that was so honest and also what you said about the Olympics. This is what people saw and this is how I feel and I thought about quitting. All of that, I feel like it makes you so relatable. You’re so honest about your feelings. It’s just so refreshing. God I hope you’re going to be on the gymnastics what’s it called Let’s Get Ready to Tumble that they’re doing in the UK. You’d be so fantastic on a show like that. You’d be so great because I feel like we’re really talking to you. There’s no barrier. We’re really getting to know what you’re really like. It’s great.


JOHN: That’s another thing I’ve been trying to work on for myself. Because every time I do interviews, everyone’s on their best behavior and just give off this vibe of we’re all perfect but we’re not all perfect. I can’t help but be honest. I have to be honest. I can’t keep going on interviews and be like yeah I hope I do well and I do great and I always do well in the gym and everything is going great. It’s not always like that. People should know about the struggle that we have and the mental pressures and everything that goes with the Olympics. It’s not super easy. And that’s another thing. A lot of people, it’s so weird to me because they’re like oh you’re an Olympic gymnast. You’re a gymnast? Yeah. You going to the Olympics? Yeah. You’re going to win gold? Yeah. It’s not that easy.


JESSICA: Right like yeah no pressure. Someone was on the show and was like you know it’s harder to be an Olympic gymnast, just make the team than it is to be in the NBA.


JOHN: They’re like you fall you suck. No no I don’t suck. I promise. I’ve been trying to be more honest and actually tell the truth about my experiences in every interview I do, instead of just going over the same old same old that everyone’s expecting every interview has.


JESSICA: I think that’s when you actually make a difference and when you can actually touch people’s lives through what you do, not through just inspiring them because what you do is amazing and beautiful but also by being real. That is when people can relate and little kids will be like oh my God when I’m doing conditioning and I feel like I want to cry and I fall all day, oh John goes through this too? Ok.


JOHN: I still hate conditioning. But if you know your goals and you know what you want to do, even though it’s going to suck sometimes, you have to push yourself. Because nobody else is going to push you. If you can’t push yourself, it’s going to be hard for you to reach your goals. So just suck it up right now and you’ll reap the rewards in the end. No matter what happens, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I honestly believe that.


[Pharrell’s Happy plays]


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.



[expand title=”Episode 73: When is a 10 a 10?”]

JESSICA: 5’9!!! That’s awesome! She was an elite and she competed at the ‘06 US Championships. She has scored a 10 on vault in college at 5 foot 9. So all you kids out there, don’t ever give up. All you tall kids, you’re the tallest one in your class, people tell you oh you’ve got to be short to do gymnastics, you tell them unhhhh. Tell them to shove it and you show them Shatilov’s video, you show them Sarie Morrison at LSU and you tell them I am not too tall. I can be a world champion or an NCAA All American. I can get a 10 on vault!




JESSICA: This week, when is a 10 really a 10 especially in NCAA?


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 73 for January 28, 2014. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.


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


EVAN: I’m Evan from life and Twitter. Find me there at @yoev.


JESSICA: This is the best gymnastics podcast in the star system bringing you all the news from around the gymternet.  [LAUGHS] star system.


EVAN: A system of them.


JESSICA: That’s what they would say in the 70s on the science shows and in Star Wars. Hello? Well I had to come up with something new instead of saying galaxy all the time so I went to the thesaurus and said what are some synonyms. It’s very chic. So let’s talk about our John Orozco interview that we put up on Friday. What stood out to you guys? Evan, let’s start with you first.


EVAN: I think it goes without saying but his confidence to be so candid about his performance at the Olympics and using the word crap, it’s just endearing. John’s such a great person as well as gymnast. And I think that him just being so open, honest, and candid endears him and really just puts tons more people in his corner. But I’ve already been there so go John!


UNCLE TIM: Well I guess the one thing that really stood out to me was the fact that he had to relearn how to do a roundoff on the other hand going on to the vaulting table. That’s not necessarily like a big reveal, like emotional reveal in the interview but I was kind of shocked that he had to do that. Like wow, that’s got to suck.


JESSICA: I cannot even imagine…and into your Yurchenko. It’s not like it’s into your back handspring, into Yurchenko so it’ll be terrifying.

UNCLE TIM: It’s doing his half on on to the vault, not for his Yurchenko.


JESSICA: But it’s still like a Yurchenko entry, like a roundoff on to the board I guess.


UNCLE TIM: On to the vaulting table he was talking about


EVAN: Like a Kas




JESSICA: Oh wait so he’s not doing the roundoff onto the board the other way, he’s doing the regular entry and then half turn the other way?




JESSICA: Oh now I understand. I was like horrified. This is so much better than I thought. I thought for sure, I had this so much worse in my mind. I totally thought he had to learn his round off the other way. Oh my God. Thank God. Oh then pshhh. This is going to be no problem for him. He’s got it. That’s how I feel about it now. So my thing that really stood out to me was so open about why he was so pissed off when he hurt his knee on tour. I thought that it was great that he stood up and said what he was dissatisfied with and why. I think a lot of people are afraid when they are on the tour or things that have to do with USA Gymnastics to kind of be open and honest about areas that they see room for improvement and so I’m glad that he was able to say he didn’t feel like he got the care should have. That’s what I took from it. My mouth was hanging open when he said that so I’m glad. And I hope next tour, they’ll hire a full time athletic trainer to be there. That would be great.


EVAN: So obviously some differences being seen between touring and regular every day international competition for gymnastics but we’ve been getting a lot of feedback from listeners about differences between NCAA and elite. We keep mentioning difficulty and Uncle Tim as our sexy data and overall information expert in sexy, could you explain what this difficulty and the difference truly is in a nutshell?


UNCLE TIM: Alright. So some people are confused about whether you can have a start value of 11 in NCAA if you do a lot of difficulty


JESSICA: Like me


UNCLE TIM: The answer is no unless you’re Jessica O’Beirne doing math. In that case, you probably can get like at least a 13. But in NCAA, all routines max out at a 10, no matter whether they do a double layout, a triple full and a full twisting double pike, it doesn’t matter on floor. But there are some teams that pride themselves on doing more difficulty than is required. For instance, if you read former Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan’s book titled Perfect 10, she claims that she and the Georgia team kind of started this trend of doing more difficulty than what’s required. I don’t know if that’s true or not but whatevs. The other thing to mention about difficulty is some claim that harder skills aren’t judged as harshly as an easier skill. So if you do a piked full in vs a


EVAN: Rudi


UNCLE TIM: A Rudi exactly, the judges aren’t going to be as hard on your piked full in. We don’t really know if that’s true or not but that’s what some people say.


EVAN: Thus is the beauty of a subjective sport. Everyone embrace it. It’s the hand we’re dealt and unfortunately, it’s what we’re looking at this NCAA season and every NCAA season. So same story different year but let’s just hope for  great gymnastics done in a really beautiful and artistic perfect way. Speaking of difficulty, are you guys ready to talk about NCAA this week? Because there’s a lot going on. So speaking of difficulty, of course I’m a Michigan enthusiast through and through. They competed against Ohio State this weekend. They went over 197. It was amazing. I want to talk about their floor rotation. Six out of seven gymnasts, so including their exhibition, they had one exhibition athlete, showed double flipping E mounts on floor, which as Uncle Tim mentioned, teams doing more difficulty sometimes are looked at, you know you can’t really tell how the judges are interpreting that. So at their intrasquad, they actually showed eight double flipping E mounts which I think is tremendous. Especially when you’re looking at teams who traditionally are challenging for those national titles, like Florida, UCLA, Oklahoma, they’re not doing that many E mounts. They have beautiful beautiful E mounts buried, hidden somewhere in their lineups but it’s not happening there. I want to talk a little bit about a couple unsung heroes who haven’t been getting a lot of attention this year but are phenomenal phenomenal athletes, particularly on floor exercise. Natalie Beilstein, who is back for her fifth year competing back from a torn Achilles. She dismounts with a front handspring front double full punch pike. So that’s her dismount.




EVAN: And then Sachi Sugiyama who is a phenomenal athlete on vault, bars, and floor exercise for Michigan. She also competes balance beam on occasion. She is mounting with a Bridget Sloan-esque from her elite days, piked full in. The type where she goes up, does the twist and then kind of compresses into the pike and it’s very beautiful. So my next notes are about Oklahoma and Arizona. I feel like Oklahoma came back to earth a little bit this time around. I wasn’t blown away. Their score was still very high but Arizona almost scored a 197 this weekend which I was kind of surprised at. The one thing that I did notice again, talking about some of those unsung hero gymnasts is an athlete named Shana Sangston from Arizona. She set the table so well. When I say set the table, like Amanda Borden, Jaycie Phelps like 1996 first athlete up at the Olympic Games like quality quality routines, really setting her teammates up well. Then we go to the battle of the U’s, Utah vs. UCLA. If you had to sum up this meet in one word Jess, what would it be?


JESSICA: (sighs)


EVAN: That might come as your word. Just like an audible sigh


JESSICA: It was frustrating.


EVAN: [LAUGHS] Okay. Uncle Tim, do you have a word?


UNCLE TIM: I didn’t get to see it so I can’t give you a word.


EVAN: Question mark.


UNCLE TIM: Question mark yes.


EVAN: Okay I actually think that my word is question mark…or my words are question mark. Maybe my symbol is question mark. So obviously, UCLA was a bit rough on bars. But I felt like the Utah fans were like within an arm’s reach away from and swinging bars. I mean I know that that’s the traditional setup but I was like they are so close. Ellette Craddock after her routine was like standing on the steps and I was like is she going to leave right now? She might just go up the stairs. She could. And then Hallie Mossett has a Stalder and I just really struggle with the Stalder, almost as much as Hallie appears to. She just bends her arms so much. And I wish and hope and put good joo joo into the atmosphere that she just replaces that or kind of figures it out. Because right now, she’s executing her Stalder before her dismount with a really really bent arm. So now, Uncle Tim, I know you’re the king of sexy data, but I might be the up and coming prince of sexy data because I did a little work and looking at UCLA this week, I was like this seems familiar. Like, why do I know this? And I feel like it’s kind of the same story different year. We go back to 2011, all the way back to 2011, the year after they had won the national championship in 2010. On January 23, they scored a 194.825 at Stanford and a 47.825 on balance beam. 2012, January 27, away at the University of Washington, 194.6 with a 48.2 on balance beam. Last year, in 2013, that was the last year, vs. Arizona on January 25, they scored a 196.375 which seems pretty alright but it was actually their third lowest team total of the entire season. So I just think this is a really weird time for UCLA gymnastics in general. And I definitely think they can overcome it. But I do feel like this is kind of the pivot point in their season. They kind of need the reflection, they look back and they do what they do.


JESSICA: They are sooo. I mean obviously their system works. But like they don’t even do full routines until so late in the season. Like it’s a completely different philosophy. I feel like it’s a dance philosophy instead of like a normal athletic team philosophy. And obviously, many different systems work. But it’s one of those things, I was like, it’s just so totally different from how all the other teams start. I want to revise my one word, which I’m making into three. I would summarize this meet as frustrating star power.


EVAN: Oooh okay.


JESSICA: To elaborate, let’s talk about Dabritz.


EVAN: vroom vroom. Do you hear that? That’s Georgia Dabritz’s engine warming up because she’s still going from last weekend. She just like drove laps around the entire competition. 9.975, 9.95, 9.975. I mean who has a weekend like that? I like Georgia Dabritz and her gymnastics. I think she enjoys the comfort of home and the scoring but really I think she’s the shining star on the Utah team. What did you guys think about Dabritz’s performances this past weekend?


JESSICA:Her floor routine is, I think, the best floor routine I have ever seen. Let me rephrase that. The best tumbling execution I have ever seen in NCAA period. Period. The fact that that routine wasn’t a 10 is an absolute crime. Especially comparing it to Florida’s 10s. Are you freaking kidding me? What? No, that should have been a 10. That was the biggest outrage of the weekend as far as I’m concerned. So for everybody that didn’t see, she stuck every one of her landings. I mean stuck like men’s floor routine in the Olympics Uchimura-style, except standing straight up and down.


EVAN: You can call it man stick if you want.


JESSICA: Man stick! I will call it a man stick! Yes!


EVAN: And you will like it.


JESSICA: That is what she did. Except now we are going to call it the Dabritz stick.


EVAN: She Dabritzed it.


UNCLE TIM: So to give our listeners some idea, she did a piked full in as her first pass, and a triple twist as her last pass right?


EVAN: Right. And I like me a good stuck triple full. That’s doing it for me nowadays. But Jess, remember our conversation last week about the perfect 10. Don’t you want Georgia to have something to work towards?


JESSICA: No. No. If she did it now….that might be the greatest routine she’s ever going to do in her entire life. I feel like that was a once in a lifetime routine. I don’t know. I don’t watch her in the gym. Maybe she does that every day. But I just can’t imagine that is the normal routine that she does all the time in the gym. It was incredible. Seriously, I was like that’s the best tumbling I’ve ever seen in NCAA period. Nobody lands like that. And her form in the air was beautiful. I defy anyone to show me a routine that was better than that. So Uncle Tim, you saw my boyfriend Stacey Ervin and his friends this weekend. What happened? Give us the lowdown.


UNCLE TIM: Well that’s actually false. Unfortunately, I was not able to say Mr. Sam Mikulak compete which disappointed many of my friends. So if you told a group of gays that Sam Mikulak is competing in spandex nearby, they would storm that gym like Evan Heiter would storm a Miley Cyrus concert. Or like Jessica O’Beirne would storm Nellie Kim’s office if she had the chance I think. So yeah we didn’t get to go. To give you an idea of what happens at this meet, it’s the Stanford Open and the meet is held in conjunction with a little boys meet. So all the little boys and their families stick around to watch the big boys compete. And this meet is also held in the small gym on Stanford’s campus so getting tickets is really hard unless you buy them early enough. And so far during my time in the Bay Area, I’m 0-6. I’ve never been able to go to this meet because I have never been able to figure out when to purchase my tickets. Anyway, but the good news is that there are a few videos on the internet, on Youtube, including a video of Sam Mikulak’s new floor routine which included the air flare. What did you think Jess? You’re a huge fan of the air flare.


JESSICA: It was legit. It’s so much better than when we saw the video when he was first learning it, when he just got it. It’s beautiful now. It is straight up and down. HIs back is extended. His arms are extended. It is legit. Max Whitlock, you better watch out.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah it was pretty legit. Evan, do you have any comments?


EVAN: Not surprisingly, I applaud Sam. He’s one of those gymnasts who you look at him, and you’re just like you were meant to do gymnastics. This is your thing, your element. And you can tell that he enjoys doing it. So that’s what I take away from it all the time. Go blue.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah and Michigan ended up winning with a 433.050. Stanford came in third, Cal came in second. Stanford might have done a little bit better had Akash Modi not whacked his head on the parallel bars and had to get stitches. Had that not happened, they might have done a little bit better but yeah.


JESSICA: What skill did that happen on?


UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. I read the write up. It sounded like it happened right at the beginning of his parallel bars routine. It wasn’t on his dismount or anything. But yeah unfortunate. The other meet that I watched was Nebraska vs. Iowa on the women’s side. I guess the way to characterize Nebraska is that they are kind of my collegiate Oleg Verniaev. There are so many ups and downs with this team. So last year, they had huge meets leading up to regionals and then they choked and didn’t make it to the national championships. This year they beat Alabama but that meet wasn’t broadcast anywhere so I couldn’t watch it, anywhere that I could see. So I was looking forward to seeing them take on Iowa. Unfortunately, Iowa decided to only show Iowa routines for the most part. So I didn’t end up getting to see too much of Nebraska. But from what I did see, I’m a bit concerned about Jessie DeZiel. Jessie was a member of the 2011 US Pan Ams team with Shawn Johnson and they won gold.


JESSICA: And she’s on my fantasy team, more importantly.


UNCLE TIM: Well over the weekend on uneven bars, her swing looked a little weird. And when she did her shoot over the to the low bar, her arm kind of buckled so I’m wondering whether maybe she has an elbow injury or something. I’m not sure what’s going on. Plus when she was out on the floor, she just did not look happy. She was so over it. So I don’t know what’s going on with her. But you know who looked super happy? Also on your fantasy team?


JESSICA: Lindsey Mable


UNCLE TIM: Nebraska


JESSICA: Emily Wong


UNCLE TIM: Emily Wong. She looked super high….hot not high. She looked super happy.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] I thought you said high. I was like what?


UNCLE TIM: High, hot whatever. It all starts with an H. Last year, she tied for third in the all around at NCAA championships. And again, I didn’t really get to see too much of her but I saw a little bit of her floor routine and she’s just such a little firecracker out there. She just exudes so much joy. And I think that’s so impressive considering the fact that her father passed away a few months ago. Yeah I just can’t imagine going through all that and putting this huge smile on your face. And it seems like a genuine smile while she’s competing. So I’m that she’s maybe finding some solace in gymnastics. The one thing I did find…pardon?


JESSICA: Isn’t the team doing something special to honor her dad? Aren’t they like wearing armbands or they’re doing something right, to support her?


UNCLE TIM: Yeah during their first meet, they were wearing almost like bracelets or something on their wrists I want to say. The one thing I did find a little bit weird about Nebraska is the fact that the fact that they have the word Big in rhinestones on their leotards. So it stands for Big 10 Conference obviously but it just seems weird to put the word Big, well B1G on your leotard. I don’t know. It just seems wrong to put that on a woman’s leotard.


JESSICA: Where is it exactly on their leos?


UNCLE TIM: On their hip bone.


JESSICA: Oh hmmm


UNCLE TIM: Yeah in rhinestones of course.


JESSICA: I think it’s weird to put your conference on your leo.


EVAN: It’s pretty common nowadays actually. Obviously its advertising for the conference but those are usually the leotards you wear during your conference competition.


JESSICA: I mean, what, are we going to end up like Brazil and have 17 advertisements on our leos? I feel like it’s a bit much. You already have the leo makers’ logo on there and now you have this additionally? I don’t care for it. I mean they’re already branding the screen the entire time. Let’s talk about a team that does none of this nonsense because they are perfectly artistic…Minnesota. So Lindsey Mable. Lindsey Freaking Mable. She got a 39.6 all around which means she only had 4 deductions. That was some O’Beirne math. Four tenths the entire meet. Okay so this is what I love about her.


EVAN: Use your words.


JESSICA: I just want to show you with my arms and legs how much I love her. She is super precise and extended on everything. Coaches out there, make your gymnasts watch her and see how precise and extended she is on everything. Her floor routine, honestly, I saw zero deductions. I think that that could have gone 10. She had a 9.975, which I mean I guess that’s a good score. I think it should have been a 10. According to me it was. I just feel like Minnesota is like the quiet, the Gophers are going to slowly chew all the wires and everything around your house and then one day your house disappears. Or is that groundhogs that do that? Maybe I’m confusing my rodents. But anywho, they are slowly coming along and they are going to take down the big houses. That’s what I’m saying about Minnesota. They are fantastic. I love them. Lindsey Mable yessss!


UNCLE TIM: Alright, so we’ve started talking a little bit about scoring. We alluded to the infamous perfect 10s from Florida. But before we get to that, we want to mention an email that we got from a former judge and it’s in relationship to comments that we made last week. This judge wrote, “I guarantee that many NCAA judges judge in quarter tenths. Even though the final score has to be in half tenth increments.” So as a judge, you can’t give a 9.975. You have to give a 9.95 or a 9.9. But she thinks that some people only take a quarter tenth off here, a quarter tenth off there. Anyway, she goes on to say, “I judged NCAA for five years and while I can’t recall anyone in an official capacity telling us to judge in quarter tenths, it’s something I learned to do from more senior judges when I started doing NCAA. And it was something I had to do in order to have my scores be in range when I made the transition from judging only Junior Olympic to doing NCAA.” She also says you have to remember the really important thing is ranking the gymnasts correctly. High scores are only a problem insofar as they prevent judges from being able to do that. So let’s say you start off and you give the first gymnast a 9.95, you really have nowhere to go from there if three other gymnasts do a better routine. So you can only really give the other gymnasts a 10. So that was her point. Now moving on to the Florida meet. Two gymnasts got perfect 10s, the first perfect 10s of the season. Bridget Sloan got one on floor and Kytra Hunter got one on floor as well. Did you guys think they were 10-worthy? Let’s start with you Evan.


EVAN: I did not think that Bridget’s was 10-worthy, pretty plain and simple. Sorry to not be terribly insightful. I also think that Kytra has done that routine before, maybe performed it a little better. But the thing with Kytra is I feel like she’s changed the game a little bit in NCAA floor exercise. So I don’t want to say it’s a long time coming for her. But that’s what I’m going to say. I think that Kytra and the execution of her double layout, the innovative second pass that has a bounder out of skills. And sidenote, doing a bounder out of something might seem like oh she’s just doing a bounder but try that ish. Because that is so difficult to control. And the free double tuck where she doesn’t grab her knees or really pull, she’s just using her own Beyonce powers to make it happen. I think that she is long overdue for a 10. And I applaud and support her getting a 10. I do think she can perform it better but I was okay with Kytra getting a 10.


JESSICA: Are you okay with it for this routine or are you okay with it because she deserved it in the past?


EVAN: I am okay with it for this routine. I think with Kytra, she kind of does the same routine week in and week out. And if we’re looking at staying consistent to the rules and staying true where you can step into the lunge as long as you’re displaying control, I’m fine with it.


JESSICA: I think these were 9.975 routines. I took a quarter tenth on both which you’re not allowed to do but as we know, this is how judges do it. The judges who wrote in, she said exactly what I have heard from other NCAA judges. I’m so glad that she wrote in because you don’t want to take a full half tenth for like a tiny wobble on beam. But if there is two tiny wobbles, okay now that’s a half a tenth. So I’m so glad that she wrote in and talked about that. I think their landings were the problem. I think Bridget’s jumps from what I could see and then Kytra’s landing that double layout is gorgeous but she had like a little hop on her landing so I’m kind of like eh. I just don’t think they were both 10s. And this is the thing. When you compare Georgia Dabritz’s floor routine, she only got a 9.975 to Kytra’s routine or Bridget Sloan’s, there is no way in hell they should have gotten 10s. No way. They are fantastic. They did amazing routines. They were super clean. They were great. I love watching them. Kytra Hunter’s double layout, as we know, is incredible. But compared to Dabritz, there’s just no way. At that meet were they 10s, you know maybe, if you’re ranking and you have nowhere else to go. But compared to Dabritz, no not even close.


UNCLE TIM: I guess the thing that I want to insert here is the fact that with NCAA judging, it’s not always the case that it’s the scientific execution deduction. So when you look at the deductions that NCAA judges can give, it’s not like the FIG where they give you this 100 page document with all the different deductions, like we’ll talk about in a little bit. It’s more you know, precision on landings. You can take up to I think it’s 2 tenths. So there’s more wiggle room there. So ultimately, what it comes down to is ranking the gymnasts at that meet correctly. That’s what the scores are for. And I think that’s hard for us to do especially if you’re used to judging elite gymnastics rather than NCAA gymnastics. One other thing I want to mention while we’re talking about judging is a quote from The Balance Beam Situation, our buddy, probably one of the best NCAA bloggers out there. And this is his quote and it’s related to floor routines and the 198 that Florida scored: “But now we’re not talking about how beautiful and well executed those routines were. We are picking them apart because the scores were too enthusiastic. It’s a case of the judges taking the attention away from the gymnast and bringing it onto themselves when the attention should be paid to the gymnast. No one should notice the judges. They should disappear and here they clearly haven’t.” What did you guys think about that quote?


EVAN: I think it rings pretty true. We always circle back to the subjectivity in the sport and one judge sees something differently than another. Then there’s an uproar. Or judges feel influenced by home scoring or gymnasts with prior accomplishments or accolades. I mean we’ve seen it time and time again in all aspects of the sport. Is it fair? No. Is it a reality? Yes. So arguing that fact, I do see the point but I probably won’t be partaking it in heavily because unfortunately, it’s the nature of the sport. Do I think it’s 100% fair? No.


JESSICA: I mean this is the thing. This is the frustrating thing about NCAA’s judging and it’s the great thing about NCAA’s judging. And that is that NCAA judging has what elite doesn’t. And that is that it has the 10 definitively. And what that does is create excitement for the crowd, it’s easy to understand. People can understand how close you are to the 10. It’s a marketing tool for these schools. I am not accusing anyone of cheating or intimidation but I do think there’s a reason everyone’s talking about every time it’s UCLA and Utah or Georgia at Utah, there is nonstop discussion about cheating and scoring and how Utah gets insane home scoring. And they also sell out and have like 15,000 people at every single home meet. Or 10,000. It’s frustrating that scoring is a problem but it’s also great because the crowd understands it. When you get a 198, it’s really really exciting. It’s good for programs. And here we are talking about it. I think we’ve said the word Utah like 25 times in one show already. The job is done. They have marketed themselves well whether it’s fair or not. Yeah I just think it’s like one of those things. I don’t think it really matters unless, I mean it does matter. It doesn’t really make an impact unless one school or one individual doesn’t make it to nationals when they should because of cheating. Then it’s not okay. So then we can talk about when it’s really serious but for right now, eh. I don’t know.


EVAN: We are watching you guys out there. We are watching.


UNCLE TIM: I think The Balance Beam Situation, the person who writes it is very intelligent but I do find this quote to be rather naive in the sense that the judges never really disappear. Gymnastics fans are always going to nitpick routines and yeah. Gymnastics fans are always going to notice the judges. I just found that part a little bit naive on the writer’s part. So moving on though.


JESSICA: Well now I feel like I should have mentioned something about like there was like Tory Wilson and


EVAN: Haley Roe


JESSICA: Yes and Sam Peszek


EVAN: And Breanna Hughes


JESSICA: And Sam Peszek’s bars. I was like what? There was no way in hell that was a 9.875. But then again, I wasn’t watching her from the side. I just I don’t know. Yes it’s frustrating. Let’s move on. Let’s talk about Coach Rick. He’s been on the show before and he writes which is fantastic. It’s an aggregator site and he gives his opinion. It’s a great place to go if you want to know what’s going on everywhere in gymnastics. Fantastic fantastic. And he has great insight and great connections. He was a FIG Brevet judge so he has a very interesting point of view. He penned a very thoughtful response to Evan’s nomination as the head of the Chest Position Enforcement Bureau. So Evan, I would like you to clarify your point first. Like what it is that bothers you and what you think is a correct landing position and what NCAA judges are not taking. What position drives you nuts that you feel like is an automatic deduction and they don’t take it and then I’ll let the listeners know what Coach Rick said.


EVAN: Yeah it’s really just from an aesthetic standpoint. Like Uncle Tim was just talking about, we’re gymnastics fans and when we care this much to have a podcast or something crazy to discuss these things, we pick up on the nuances of the sport. And it’s really just the chest positions that take away from the aesthetic qualities of skills and landings. So let’s say a gymnast, their chest is, their shoulders are in front of their knees and then all of a sudden it’s just this monumental throw back into this arched salute. You see the Yurchenko fulls that, oh that girl just stuck her Yurchenko full but she just scored a 9.55 on that. It’s kind of hard and you’ll probably get into it when you clarify what Coach Rick was saying because he did a great job of illustrating it. You can continue and then I’ll jump back in.


JESSICA: Okay. So this is what he said. He said, “too much deduction for landings for chest positions is an error. Deducting chest low is like deducting a gymnast for lack of toe point on the run towards the vault. Medically and biomechanically it is unethical to deduct for that kind of position because the gymnast is protecting themselves.” And he used Uchimura and Uchimura’s very distinct landing position as an example. I think it’s interesting that he chose Uchimura because Uchimura definitely has like a body protection landing. Like he can stick everything because he uses every joint crunch down on that position. And one of the people who wrote in said basically aren’t we just talking about if your shoulders are lower than your butt then you should take a deduction because that does not count as protecting your body. What do you think about what he said?


EVAN: Well first of all I really appreciate him kind of taking it further and showing them, showing the listeners and myself that there is a really big difference between what’s going on. Obviously your chest can be low if you’re showing a good solid stick position, as a lot of former gymnasts might know. That’s usually how you’re taught. You’re not kind of sitting straight up with this kind of I’m doing a sound with my voice because I’m craning my neck and having my chest all the way up. It should be a relaxed comfortable position. I do, Coach Rick, have a degree in movement science from the University of Michigan.


JESSICA: Oh snap!


EVAN: So my biomechanically I am on board with what you’re saying. But I am not seeing any girls in NCAA gymnastics land like Kohei Uchimura. So, you know I think it’s really just looking at the spectrum as a really wide array and just knowing that there are girls just lurching forward and throwing themselves back. And you just know. So I appreciate all your kind words about me and the follow up. I think we’re on the same page. And I like it. I like the page we’re on.


JESSICA: So I was talking to a friend about this and she said you know judges should deduct really heavily for chest positions being too low in women’s gymnastics. So this would be the your shoulders are below your butt. This is the I went to lift up my suitcase and I threw my back out when you’re 50 years old or 40, or I don’t know, 25 for some NCAA graduates. So she’s like judges should deduct heavily for chest positions because women’s NCAA gymnasts are doing easy gymnastics, relatively speaking. So she’s like if you were Uchimura doing a triple twisting double, then you can be more forgiving about chest positions because you don’t want his body to actually explode into pieces on impact when he lands. But you know when you’re doing a yurchenko full that’s not that crazy difficult, you should expect a good chest position landing because it’s not a triple yurchenko, it’s not an amanar. You should have a good landing position on that.


EVAN: Right. And here’s my last point on this I promise. And I think it ties back to the rest of our conversation today really well, is that chest position is one of those key differentiators. You look at yurchenko full after yurchenko full after yurchenko full and we’re relying on the judges to draw some distinction between these. Chest position is usually, correct me if you guys don’t agree, but is usually something that you can say that was a 9.9, that was a 9.95, and that was definitely a 10.


JESSICA: Yeah I agree. This is also why we need to have on the back there should be a virtual wall like they have on the NFL. I don’t know why we don’t have a whole graphics department for our gymnastics on television. Hello. Clearly we can afford it. Because we’re saving money on all the sparkles now final [inaudible] those. There should be just like they have in the X Games and skateboarding you have a graphic behind the vault and behind the landing area where you can actually see like you guys have had you know in your gym did you guys have a line on the wall with like a half circle on it so you could actually see what your positions were? On bars usually people have those. Did you guys have that?




JESSICA: Yeah so you should have that on vault too. So when you land like the judges can kind of see or there’s something very objective rather than subjective about the exact angle where they land. And then we could also have the same thing they have in elite on the mats to see how far people go. This is something you could really see with Utah on vault. They’re the top ranked vault team. I don’t know if they still are probably after this weekend they’re even more higher ranked than they were before because they go so freaking far on their vaults. I would be afraid to vault there if I was them because there’s a wall right behind them. A big ass wall. Ok I’ve totally digressed into my fantasy about vaulting being like X Games skateboarding competitions for height. I totally forget what we’re talking about. Where was I? Chest positions. Ok. To sum up, what did we learn in NCAA this week? Uncle Tim?


UNCLE TIM: I’d say that NCAA videos are harder to find than a Furbie in 1998. They like, so back in the day-


JESSICA: Video contracts


UNCLE TIM: Exactly. Videos used to be so easy to find on YouTube and now when you’re looking for a routine, it’s impossible to find the routines.


EVAN: And you just hear [Furbie noises]


UNCLE TIM: Exactly


JESSICA: In the middle of the night while you’re trying to sleep


UNCLE TIM: So that’s mine. It’s really hard. So if you go to a meet though please gymternet, please even if you have an iPhone and you think oh it’s going to be a crappy video, still take that video because a lot of other people will appreciate it


JESSICA: Evan how about you? What did you learn this week?


EVAN: So I was just watching a recap of LSU’s meet versus Auburn, which they won. And I just want, I’m 94% certain that I want DD Breaux to be my life coach in some capacity, maybe just a friend and a confidante. But-


UNCLE TIM: Like a Golden Girl?


EVAN: Right, exactly.

UNCLE TIM: From the song, sorry


EVAN: Uncle Tim caught on. He knows what- not knocking DD at all because legitimately I just want to speak with her. I think she’s so eloquent in communicating what her team is going for this year, and I am 100% certain that I want her to win an NCAA championship within the next three years because I think that she and associate head coach Jay Clarke are on a really good path to doing that.


JESSICA: Ok so what is your absolute must watch meet for next weekend? What do you our listeners have to watch this meet if you can?


EVAN: Mine would be Florida versus Oklahoma at Florida. And this isn’t in the CBS sports package. Florida does their own video. So you will have to pay per view, but it’s only one time. So you’ll just have to pay one time. And Florida’s obviously coming off of their 198 but they’re staying at home. Oklahoma conversely, they’re coming off a pretty solid performance at Arizona, but now they’re moving to another kind of more I don’t want to say hostile but difficult environment to compete in like Florida. So I’m interested to see how they both meet in the middle and clash like titans.


UNCLE TIM: Mine would probably be number 3 LSU versus number 7 Alabama. Lots of reasons. Primarily Rheagan Courville. She’s just lovely everywhere. Then there’s also the DD Breaux factor as you were saying earlier Evan. I don’t know I just love her. She’s in her late 50s I’m assuming, spotting girls on double back dismounts off beam. And I want to be like DD when I’m in my 50s. Jess do you have a match up?


JESSICA: No. Totally relying on you guys this week.


EVAN: I’m sure Minnesota’s having a meet that you’d be into.


UNCLE TIM: Versus Nebraska


EVAN: Oooh


JESSICA: That would be pretty good.


EVAN: It’s going to happen, so you can-


JESSICA: Is Owen still coaching there?


UNCLE TIM: Yes. He was not wearing his red pants last weekend though. **48:07


JESSICA: Bring back the red pants. I mean Emily Wong and Owen and Lindsay Mable and Hannah Nordquist and Dusty, I want to call her-


EVAN: Russell


JESSICA: Thank you. Russell. I knew it started with an R. Yes all at one meet. Can we let Owen know, can we put a request in for the red pants? I mean, it is Nebraska. Their colors are red. He should wear them.


UNCLE TIM: We can tweet to him.


JESSICA: Ok let’s do that. A gymternet request. I mean marketing is important, people. You can’t overlook that. So Uncle Tim, will you tell people how they can support the show?


UNCLE TIM: You can support the show by subscribing to us on iTunes or on Stitcher or via our email on our website. You can also shop on our Amazon store. Remember as long as you start through our Amazon link, a little portion of what you buy goes back to us. And if you decide that shopping via our Amazon store is just such a hassle or you don’t really believe in online shopping, you can support the show directly. There is a donate button on our website. And Evan, can you tell us how our listeners can contact us?

EVAN: Certainly I can. So if you want to leave us a review, tell us what you think, positive and negative, we roll with this judging thing. We’re ok. There’s judging involved in gymnastics. There’s judging involved in GymCastic as well. Leave us a voicemail by calling 415-800-3191 or our Skype username is GymCastic Podcast. So, you can also email us at Or, follow us on Instagram and/or Twitter. I suggest and. The handle is @gymcastic. And we want to know which routines you’re talking about. Jess I’ve seen a couple mentions that I promise we will get to in the coming weeks. Sometimes they get buried in the heat of the moment. So thank you for all your tweets to us. I know I thrive on notifications on social media. So every one I get makes me a little happier and you’re helping the show as well. So let us know what you feel, think, and want from GymCastic. You can also watch our video playlist that I was so surprised were happening and existing last week. So check them out. They’re on our website. Or you can just subscribe to us on YouTube, which, correct me if I’m wrong, username is GymCastic.


JESSICA: It is indeed. Thank you so much. So Uncle Tim, can you give us an elite update? There was a camp at the Ranch last week.


UNCLE TIM: I know. Unfortunately today is Monday, January 27, and our buddy Scott Bregman is not on his A game. He has not put any videos up of the Ranch but they’re supposed to come out this week sometime. So if you follow us on social media, you’ll be up to date with those. If you don’t, you’ll just have to wait till next week till we talk about it. Anyway-


JESSICA: Could we get a satellite, a direct satellite? Could the gymternet fund a satellite being sent into space just to get better reception and wifi at the Ranch so that Scott could upload things faster? How much do you think that would cost? Think we could do it? We get like a satellite on a Russian or China, China would do it. They would totally be interested in a direct link to the Ranch.


UNCLE TIM: I’m sure Martha would love that.


JESSICA: She would


UNCLE TIM: In news though, Laurie Hernandez did not attend camp because she slipped off the beam and fractured her wrist. And she will be in a cast for six weeks. According to Maggie’s Girls, the Facebook page for her gym, she’s still doing conditioning and flexibility. And they’re using this time to work on beam upgrades. I’m guessing those are dance upgrades rather than like a full twisting back handspring swing down or something with a broken wrist.


JESSICA: At least this is better than the time she broke her face on bars though. If you’re going to break something, it’s better wrist than knocking out your teeth.


UNCLE TIM: True story


JESSICA: This is a good improvement in injuries.


UNCLE TIM: The other big news- as we predicted, the American Cup lineup has changed for the US women. Elizabeth Price will be taking Kyla Ross’ spot because Kyla has some kind of back pain going on right now. So yeah, we hope that Kyla gets better, but we’re also very excited to see Ebee who competed at the Parkettes Invitational this past weekend. It was the 40th Parkettes Invitational. That’s a lot. And she competed on uneven bars and vault. Those are the videos on Gymnastike. What did you guys think of her routines? Let’s start with you, Jess.


JESSICA: Hot bars. Oh my gosh. This is how bars is supposed to be done. And she does it like men’s high bar. She catches at the most extended point, hips turned all the way over like they’re supposed to be, right into the next move. You’re like is she going to catch it and this is going to be perfect or is she going to fly into the stands? It’s so exciting to watch her on bars. I loved it loved it loved it. I could watch her all day on bars.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I loved her Church release into her bail right away. And then into her shoot to high bar too. It was a great combination. On vault, she only did a double twisting yurchenko, so she didn’t throw her amanar. What vault would you guys like to see her do in college?


JESSICA: I’d like to see her be the first to do an amanar just to do it. Just to win everything. Win all-


UNCLE TIM: Evan what about you?


EVAN: It was kind of hard for me to say. I don’t know. Unfortunately, as glad as I am to see Ebee back competing, I know you guys are going to throw tomatoes and/or eggs, but Ebee is just not my favorite gymnast. I think that there’s some aesthetic things going on. I think she’s awesome and has a wide array of the Parkette bag of tricks where she can just do a lot of amazing things. But it’s not the total package for me. So, I decline to comment on my hopes for her in college. But I hope she has much success there, whatever vault she is doing.


JESSICA: Well. I would just like to say that we know she probably won’t do anything very interesting because has anyone since Pechanec done any cool unusual interesting skills at Stanford?


EVAN: You know I think Taylor Rice has some pretty innovative things on beam. I remember last year she mounted with a handstand and then kind of dropped down to her forearms. And I believe it’s on YouTube. But yeah. So I think we need to give Taylor Rice some props for her showing at Stanford.


JESSICA: I do and I love love love her beam. I could watch her all day on beam. She’s super innovative. Her dad’s like a circus guy too.


EVAN: I could watch her for 12 hours on beam. Not all day but 12 hours.


JESSICA: I just feel like Stanford needs more Pechanecs and more Rices. So maybe Ebee will be that.


UNCLE TIM: And I mean you can’t deny that Kristina Vaculik’s geinger has life saving properties. And she also does a full twisting back handspring swing down on beam, which not lots of college girls do. Carly Janiga used to do it back in the day as well. So I don’t think they’re quite as dull as you’re making them out to be, Jess. You are just pro UCLA and Stanford tends to be a rival with UCLA.


JESSICA: Whatever. I’m just saying I’m always excited for more, then I just get smatterings of it. That’s all I’m saying. Except that my McNair sisters are finally kicking ass. Did you see their scores this weekend? 9.9, 9.9, just like I said they were going to get. So even though I know you think I’m totally biased, which I am, and it’s not because they always have those meets in those tiny places and even you can’t get it, which obviously they should always have a ticket especially set aside for you, I would just like to say that I’m a big fan of theirs and they’re doing fantastic like I said they would. So, go trees. What are they? Trees.


EVAN: Cardinals


JESSICA: Red- Cardinals


EVAN: Redinal. Rewriting the history books tonight is Jessica O’Beirne.


JESSICA: Anywho.




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. First, let’s start with the bad news. Mattie Larson has officially retired from UCLA from gymnastics. So she injure retired and she gave a very good interview with IG, International Gymnast, the New York Times of gymnastics magazines, as we like to call it around here. And she gave a really, she gave a really touching answer. And she said when they asked what has gymnastics brought you as you got to this point. And she said I had a lot of success in gymnastics but it’s taken an emotional toll. And this is something that Miss Val referred to in an interview earlier this season when she said Mattie has a lot of anxiety when it comes to floor and vault and it seems like that was left over from her elite career. So we are wishing her the best and happiness. And she’s been at some of the meets doing some guest tweeting. And she looks pretty happy and stoked. So we’re wishing her all the best. Hopefully she’ll go into dance. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

EVAN: Yes.


JESSICA: Yes. I think So You Think You Can Dance. I think she could just win it. Walk on and win it. In other sad news, it is confirmed that Kayla Williams has a partially torn achilles and will require surgery. So we wish her the best. And of course this means she’s going to have a fantastic next year, much like oh I don’t know, the Romanian Izbasa, Olympic champion after an achilles tear. Or perhaps one Kupets, NCAA champion. In other news, over in Georgia, we have been talking you know we’ve been asking everybody this early recruiting stuff and what’s happening at Georgia and all the decommits from people that have committed to Georgia when they were just wee babes, barely into high school committing to college. So Danna Durante gave an interview to International Gymnast about early recruiting and she said the following: “Call me old fashion, but when you make a verbal commitment, it should mean something. The athlete should continue to work hard and keep up their end of the bargain by improving each year, and college coaches should respect the athlete’s commitment and not continue to pursue the athlete.” What did you guys think of that? I thought this was a direct jab at Jay Clarke and LSU. What did you guys think?


EVAN: Well also, you know Lexie Priessman decommitted from Georgia, but also Breanna Brown who decommitted and recommitted to University of Michigan. So it’s kind of two fold in Georgia’s case. I would simply respond with then don’t give them a reason to decommit.


JESSICA: Oooooh. Uncle Tim what do you have to say?


UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. Being a teenager, I think it’s a little ridiculous to expect a 14 year old to really know where they want to go to college. I’m trying to think where I probably wanted- I don’t remember where I wanted to go to college when I was a freshman in high school. It’s probably not-


EVAN: I wanted to go to Arizona State.


UNCLE TIM: Exactly. And where did you end up going? Michigan. When you’re in high school your opinion changes night and day.


EVAN: Stupid. Yeah it was just dumb.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah so I don’t know. I think it’s hard to hold 14 year olds to this really high professional standard, almost that you would hold an NBA player to or something.


JESSICA: So this weekend the Gabby Douglas movie premieres on Lifetime. So set your DVRs right now. Walk over to the TV. Set it. It’s 8:00, 7:00 central. And we are lucky enough to have a listener who got a screener of the movie which is like a preview they send out to some people. And this is what she had to say about it. She said the movie is not terrible. Good to know. Regina King as Natalie is fantastic. The little girls who play Gabby aren’t half bad. And Chow has a fake Chinese accent, but he uses correct terminology more or less. It definitely exceeded my expectations. But there are things super fans will be annoyed by. Of course. Casual gym fans will definitely enjoy it and it’s much better than Make it or Break It. So that’s really good review I think so far from a hardcore gymnastics fan. I think that’s high praise. So we will of course be discussing this at length next week. So make sure you watch. Do your homework and watch the Gabby movie so we can discuss everything and get your thoughts on it. And of course if you are a teacher and want to show this in your school or perhaps Sunday school, you can download the discussion questions. There are regular discussion questions then there are Christian discussion questions. Both. So check that out on the Lifetime website. I was interested to see that, I will say. Interested.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. They’re going to annoy the hardcore fans because some of the questions are like “What is ‘the kip’?” So. Yeah. Things you already know.


JESSICA: So we want to give a shout out to Pink because she was on the Grammys last night and she did her signature gymnastics. You know she was a gymnast back in the day in Philadelphia, her hometown. And I just love to see she keeps upping her gymnastics along with her singing. And she did like an acro thing and she was the balancing end of this huge muscley dude. She’s just so fabulous. And I mean, what better way to symbolize the importance of strength and balance in a relationship than being an acro pair on stage as you sing.

UNCLE TIM: It’s true. Evan we better start practicing this move.


EVAN: [LAUGHS] I was just going to go into like who’s on top?




JESSICA: Speaking of who’s on top, Vanessa Atler-


EVAN: What?




JESSICA: Vanessa Atler had a baby this week. She posted a picture on her Instagram. Well definitely there was someone on top or side by side in order to let this happen. I didn’t know- how did we not know she was pregnant? Am I totally out of the loop? Did you guys know this?

EVAN: Yeah I knew


JESSICA: Is she married or partnered up?


EVAN: I think she’s wifed up


JESSICA: Wifed up? Good for her. I wish her all the happiness in the world. Kennedy Baker, I should’ve put this in the sad part, maybe it’s good for her- Kennedy Baker has retired from elite but never fear we’ll see her in the future competing at Florida. And perhaps we will see her patterson dismount, the one I am obsessed with. Do you guys think they will let her do that dismount? She’s super consistent with it.


EVAN: I don’t think we will see it.


JESSICA: That sucks. What if she made beam finals at NCAAs?


EVAN: Then we could talk


JESSICA: Ok. Kennedy got that? You have to make beam finals so you can make my dreams come true and do your patterson dismount. Ok in tall and exceptional gymnast news, the 6’2’ tall tall exceptional gymnast news-


UNCLE TIM: Six foot two foot?


EVAN: Six foot too tall?




JESSICA: In 6’2” tall gymnast news, the 2011 floor ex world silver medalist Alexander Shatilov is doing are you ready for this? You guys should all follow him on Instagram if you’re not already. He’s doing a kolman to a kovacs to a tucked gaylord II. I didn’t even know that was humanly possible to do that. Did your mouth just drop open when you saw this Uncle Tim?


UNCLE TIM: It did, and it brought me back to our conversation with Blythe at the beginning of the year when we were talking about how this was going to be the trend. And sure enough, even guys who are not necessarily considered the top eight in the world on high bar are working these skills. So yeah. I mean, he also did it shirtless we should mention, so.


JESSICA: Important facts. 6’2, shirtless, world silver medalist on floor. I love watching him. On floor it looks like he’s going to run out of space. It looks like it’s a baby floor compared to him. Like cartoon size. And it’s so gorgeous because he’s so tall. Ugh. And then I’m so excited you guys have written in about this. So I mentioned the fabulous Townsend from Iowa State last week, who is 5’8, normal human size. And she went to Legacy Elite. Beautiful gymnast. I posted a video of her in our playlist of her just doing a front aerial on beam. It’s like the most gorgeous front aerial you’ve ever seen because she’s tall for gymnastics. So our listeners wrote in and let me know about another NCAA giantess, and I say that in the most complimentary way ever because you know anyone who breaks stereotypes is my favorite thing in the whole world. So she is at LSU, and her name is Sarie Morrison. And she is a senior and an all american on bars. Now we know what an all american is. Top eight. And she is 5’9” tall. Did you guys know about her?


EVAN: Oh I knew.


JESSICA: 5’9! That’s awesome! She was an elite and she competed at the 06 US Championships. She has scored a 10 on vault in college at 5’9. So all you kids out there, don’t ever give up. All you tall kids, you’re the tallest one in your class, people tell you you have to be short to do gymnastics, you tell them ugh, you tell them to shove it and you show them Shatilov’s video, you show them Sarie Morrison at LSU, and you tell them I am not too tall, I can be a world champion or an NCAA all american. I can get a 10 on vault. Never give up!




JESSICA: In other news, not tall people, just normal exceptional people news, Louis Smith has invented a skill that actually makes pommel horse cool if you can believe that. He’s doing traveling flares. This is a new- I mean this has never been done before right?


UNCLE TIM: Not in the flare position. So the base of the travel is a blanky, but in the flare position it’s never been done before. So and you know when guys spread their legs, things look cooler. So.


JESSICA: It does. It looks way cooler like this. Do you think Kurt Thomas is super jealous that he didn’t think of this?




EVAN: I think he did enough just invented the flare. So I think he’s probably alright.


JESSICA: Ok. I’m going to ask him sometime if he ever did this. It’s really cool and you guys there’s a video. Louis Smith is all over Instagram so you can watch him working out. And you can watch him play video games. And you can watch him sing. And you can watch his drunken friends at his house. Very entertaining Instagram that he has. Also this week, the FIG put out something that I don’t think I have ever seen before. At least I did not know that this way coming out. They have this thing, it’s the FIG help desk artistic report. Uncle Tim did you take a look at this?


UNCLE TIM: Yeah, it’s really long. But it’s very helpful. So what it does is gives you a bunch of clarifications. For instance, let’s say you’re vaulting and one foot lands on the line, on the white line when you’re vaulting and the other foot is on the inside, how much deduction you should get for deductions. What happens if one, your heels are on the inside of the line, but your toes are on the outside. That should be a .3 deduction. Yeah. So I mean it’s very very fascinating and helpful with lots of illustrations.


JESSICA: Evan did you have a favorite part in this?


EVAN: I did have a favorite part. They make mention of a gymnast being verbally warned by the judge. And I want to know if there’s a predetermined script that the judge must say like I am warning you right now, don’t do that. And there’s like some finger wagging going on. Or you know if it’s like you’ve got to stop that. I just have never experienced a verbal warning and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it at a meet broadcast or anything. I’m sure it’s happened, but I just want to see that manifest itself in reality that I witness.


JESSICA: I think my favorite part of this was where they talk about how you can repeat your entire routine if your routine was interrupted by something beyond the gymnasts control. And they talk about some examples, like the apparatus falls over. Oh that’s never happened before. A lighting failure, all the lights go out. That has happened before too. Sound system failure. We have also seen that, most recently in rhythmic gymnastics where the poor Ukrainian had to do her entire routine to nothing. And then well it wasn’t nothing, it was going on and off. And then or like your grips break or something like that. But you know what’s really interesting about this is that the grip situation of course is something that you cannot repeat your routine over. That is considered within your responsibility. You should have another pair of grips right there ready to put on as fast as you can. But the first thing I thought of when they’re talking about these examples is I wanted to know if do you guys remember when Tasha Schwikert was doing her routine, I think it was Nationals, she’s on beam and she’s about to do her dismount which I think was a full in at the time, and some guy yells at the top of his lungs “I love you Tasha!” And she responded to him on beam. She was like hmm, thanks. And then she did her dismount. Do you guys remember that?



JESSICA: That happened for real. And I was like I wonder if that counts? That was beyond her control. It could be considered something that was kind of unusual and really distracting. And of course she’s Tasha so she was just like of course you do, sizzle, then did her dismount. I want to know some of the examples by video like they’ve been doing these video examples of the falls and what counts. I would like to see some examples as Evan would of when this happened in real life. It was quite entertaining. Uncle Tim, do you have any favorites?


UNCLE TIM: So we finally found out why they put that crazy floor fall on their FIG webpage. And it’s because there are technically two falls in that tumbling pass. So the Chinese gymnast I think is Tan Sixin, she does a 1.5 into a round off onto her head then into a back handspring flop basically. And so they wanted to know if it’s two falls or if that counts as one fall. And the decision is that it is one fall and you can only take one point off of that. So if the first fall leads into another fall, it’s only one point off rather than two.


JESSICA: That seems extremely kind.




JESSICA: Sure they get some bonus extra fall deduction for doing one fall into another fall.


EVAN: You get a fall! You get a fall! You get a fall!


UNCLE TIM: You would be that brevet judge who judges level 5 bars and gives everyone a 5 or less Jess.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Do you know how many 4s I got when I was a level 4? I would because that is the kind of scores I got. Oh yeah. Ok. So. Before we go, we want to remind you guys that we have our listener survey up and we’re taking it down as of February 1st, so this is the last week for you to put in your comments, your thoughts, your suggestions, your deepest darkest desires for us. So I have asked Evan to read a few of his favorites from the listener survey comments and suggestions area to encourage you to complete the survey.


EVAN: Much like Claudia Presecan in 2000, I was cajoled to do this first one. So, a listener wrote in and said “I would like to hear a regular segment with a panel of gay men, see Uncle Tim, Evan. Jess I know you can talk about hot guys with the best of them. This is nothing against you. I just identify with gay men and think it would be entertaining.” Which I don’t disagree with. “Do you listen to satellite radio? Entertainment Weekly has a full channel now and they talk about all things pop culture. But for one of their program hours of the week, I believe it’s the bulls eye hour, a bunch of Entertainment Weekly’s gay writers and editors get together and dish. Pop culture of course, but just fun. Just a thought.” So Uncle Tim, Jess, thoughts and feelings about this?


JESSICA: I like that they were like nothing against you Jess. I know you can talk about hot guys but I don’t really care what you have to say. And I was like oh you want me to do another entire podcast? I don’t need sleep! Sure I’ll produce a show like that. So if someone wants to fund that I’m all for it.


UNCLE TIM: I’m all for it too. We were joking before this that we’d call it like GayCastic or something instead of GymCastic.


EVAN: Branded. I don’t know Uncle Tim can get pretty catty. So we might have some differing opinions and have a huff. There’s more. Jess had more favorites.


JESSICA: I may have picked these for Evan to read. Maybe.


EVAN: She had a lot of favorites. I can’t decide. They’re like one puppy compared to the next. I just value everyone so much. Since NCAA has a focus on education, such as the home schooling, education in other countries a la Romania where they all failed their- sorry I can’t follow this question.




UNCLE TIM: What is this Jess? Is this a topic we’re supposed to cover?


JESSICA: I just glanced yes. A topic like a panel yes


UNCLE TIM: On education. So they want a panel on education?


JESSICA: Yes in countries where education is failed miserably for the athletes.


EVAN: Alright then our final piece of feedback is a code overhaul. If the panelists could rewrite the entire code from scratch, what would they change, add, and subtract. I can tell you I don’t want to do that at all [LAUGHS]


JESSICA: Bad idea I think that would be so boring to listen to but so nerdy and so awesome at the same time.


UNCLE TIM: I just picture Jess’ with rainbows and stickers, her copy of the code


JESSICA: Oh my god stickers yes


UNCLE TIM: Scratch and sniff pages


JESSICA: I think you should be able to do your routines with special artistic- when I went to my first dance competition for little kids which is horrifying by the way. Horrifying. I can’t even tell you. I won’t get into that. But their costumes were spectacular. And I think gymnastics should be done with costumes. Play a character. Yes! Yes yes yes. Especially  men’s. Men’s floor. Costumes. Arghh.


EVAN: I think you’re just wanting us to dress up like mailmen and dance for you.


JESSICA: Oh god. Do you know how much more popular men’s gymnastics would be if you did that?


UNCLE TIM: One year for Halloween I dressed up as a mail escort, and I wore a USPS shirt and I, yeah.

EVAN: I thought you were just going to say-




UNCLE TIM: No I walked around-


EVAN: Next year I know what I’m wearing.


UNCLE TIM: A label- anyway this will go all as an Easter egg for whoever wants to listen to us talk about nothing.


JESSICA: Oh my god ok. Woo. Let’s wrap this up. Ok. Later this week, we Uncle Tim and I will be reviewing, I don’t know if Uncle Tim knows this yet. We will be reviewing the Cirque show Amaluna. And we have come up with the most fantastic review and rating system just for gymnastics fans because we know what you want. Our rating system is just it’s scientifically tested. It’s perfection. I think it would get a gold star from the consumer reports staff. So later this week, Uncle Tim and I will review the show Amaluna which has the coolest act ever in it which is old school bars married to new school uneven bars. And it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my life. And we will also be interviewing US great, NCAA great, former Florida Gator Miss Melanie Sinclaire will be on the show. So look forward to that later this week. Until then, I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


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


EVAN: I’m Evan from friendship and Twitter. Find me there @yoev


JESSICA: Go take the survey and thank you so much for listening this week.


[expand title=”Episode 74: Melanie Sinclair & A Review of Cirque’s Amaluna”]

MELANIE: So I was very young and only remember a little bit about training with him. I just have one experience that stands out. And we were doing a warm up. And I think we were running around the floor for like 20 minutes doing like candle stick jumps and tuck jumps and push ups and running from thing to thing to thing. And girls were dropping like flies. Throwing up here and there. And that was one experience and I was like oh my gosh, Bela Karolyi’s so hard. I think it was my very first training camp. And I was like oh man what did I get myself into? And then I think after that experience, I think my next camp it was Martha and it was completely different. So, I’m glad things kind of evolved.




JESSICA: Today, our review of Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna, and special guest Cirque artist, NCAA great, and former elite gymnast Melanie Sinclaire.


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 74 for January 31, 2014. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


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


JESSICA: And this is the best gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you all the most fascinating people and events from around the gymternet. Today we’re going to talk specifically about our review of the show Amaluna. Then we’re going to talk to Melanie Sinclaire, who’s in the show. And she was at Florida, University of Florida, she was at Orlando Metro before that, and she is one of those that you never forget because of her incredible pizzazz and style. And she’s one of the gymnasts who put University of Florida on the map. So excited to talk to her. So that’s coming up. First let’s give our review of Amaluna. Warning: there are some spoilers in here. So if you don’t like to know anything about the show, then fast forward to the Melanie Sinclaire interview. In the meantime, let me tell you, let me give the disclaimer about our review. So our ratings are based on the original factors that made Cirque du Soleil an international hit. It was a circus without animals, without an obnoxious ring master, or any of the trappings of the cheesey ta-da moment. It was pure human peak performance. And that is what we think gymnastics fans love about Cirque du Soleil, so that is that basis for our review. So Uncle Tim, if you would, could you give our listeners a little bit of info about the plot line?


UNCLE TIM: Sure. So I mean let’s be honest, typically Cirque shows are powered by high octane man beef. Not so much with Amaluna. It stars a young girl named Miranda. And it’s her coming of age tale. Not unlike Wonder Woman, Miranda lives in an Amazonian world inhabited by badass females like Melanie Sinclaire and Laura Ann Chong. And on this island, Miranda has nothing to do except play with her pet lizard. And that’s not a euphemism Jess. Miranda really does have a lizard.


JESSICA: She does


UNCLE TIM: -who was played by award winning juggler Victor Key. And I’m not going to lie, he made me feel all tingly in a way I thought a lizard would never make me feel. Did you agree with that Jess?


JESSICA: He does provide the much needed- not much needed, but just appreciated, let me tell you, male sexual energy on stage. And he really I mean I find juggling incredibly boring. Like I could sleep through that whole part of any show with juggling. But Victor adds a special kind of sexiness and barely wears anything the entire time he juggles. So I appreciate him very very much.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I was hoping that Victor, the lizard, would become a man and Miranda would fall in love with him. But it was not to be. Because one day a bevy of hot men wash ashore on the island. And they’re trapped and writhing in a net. And one of them escapes and his name of course is Romeo. Very subtle on Cirque’s part there. Miranda sees Romeo, they flirt a bit, and at the end of the first act, things turn into a wet tshirt contest. Both Romeo and Miranda are wearing sheer white garments and they take the plunge so to speak. They kiss and throw themselves with wild abandon into a small basin of water. And then the lights go out. Whatever could that symbolize?


JESSICA: Before that, I believe that she hands him an egg. Her own egg. Because it’s sort of see through so I believe she’s handing him an ovum. Is that what they’re called? It’s very very literal, this show. So I thought it was an ovum the whole time.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah throughout the show there’s this ball that’s kind of gets transported from one person to the next. And it’s a way of foreshadowing the juggling scene. But yeah. So I mean, I don’t want to prattle on about the plot. So it’s a love story about Romeo and Miranda. Basically that’s it. We really want to talk about the gymnastics here Jess. And Jessica I know that you loved the Amazonian warrior princesses because you were hooting and hollering the entire time. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about that acrobatic scene.


JESSICA: The Amazons have created the most fantastic marriage between old school bars and new school bars. So there is a set of bars with four bars. And imagine old school bars are on one side facing the new school bars on the other. So people can do wrap the bar and beat the bar on one side. On the other side they can do paks in between the bars. And it is the freaking coolest thing I’ve ever seen. It should be a new FIG event. It needs to be a new and implemented immediately. They do everything from jaeger in between the bars from high to low, old school, to korbut flips standing on the bar and doing a back flip and catching the same bar, to branis from the low bar up to the high bar. Jaegers on the high bar, and all the skills that you’re used to seeing now in elite gymnastics. And totally creative circus-y stuff that I’ve never seen before that you’ll only see in a show like this. One of the coolest things I think is they travel all the way like one person will travel all the way across all four bars. High to low to low high and back the other way again. They’ll be four people all on the bar at the same time. I cannot emphasize enough that this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and how this could really honestly be a new event in gymnastics. I loved it that much. What did you think Uncle Tim?


UNCLE TIM: I thought it was impressive but I thought that you were definitely more impressed than the rest of the audience. I just don’t think the audience appreciated the pummeling that those girls’ hips went through as they were beat on the bar and wrapping around the low bar doing the old school bars. What they audience really appreciated was when they took out the low bars and they just had two single rails and the girls started throwing bigger dismounts. There was a full twisting double layout. And that’s what the audience really got into it I thought. But yeah, I thought it was really cool as a gymnastics nerd and definitely worth seeing.


JESSICA: The other act we completely loved is when the Amazons wrangled their sex slave prisoners. Of course everybody knows that’s what they are. I’m sure I’m not the only one that interpreted it that way because on Wonder Woman’s planet, and I’m sure everyone has read her origin story and had the Bible of Superhero Origins by their bed and read it every night like I did, you will know that on her Amazon planet they only keep men as sex slaves for procreation. So because this show is based on female goddess planet or island, it’s an island.


UNCLE TIM: To tie into the plot these sex slaves are the guys who washed ashore with Romeo and were caught in the net. So. Continue.


JESSICA: So the Amazons sort of wrangled them then let them sort of play a little bit outside of their prison. And they do teter board. And one of the coolest things they do on teter board, something I’ve never seen before which is really unique is that they have a third platform. So there’s the teter board then in between it there’s sort of a matted half wall that they can bounce on and off of and land on and transfer people over. And it is such a fun, high energy scene. They keep it funny. They’re giggling and laughing the whole time. It kind of has a rock n roll music theme to the whole show. So there’s nothing that is the stop everything let’s be really serious. The whole show is just having fun and getting punk rock the whole time. So that was also one of my favorite ones. It was super original. I had never seen a third factor added into teter board before.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I mean teter board is so cool. One guy went from one end of the teter board to the other and he flew up into handstand and landed in a handstand in a guy’s hands. Yeah just really cool stuff. And the fact that there was that extra little board that they were landing on was cool. And I mean I don’t even know if Lindsay precision Mable could do that. Do you think Lindsay precision Mable could do that Jess?


JESSICA: I think she could learn it




JESSICA: I think she could be the one Amazon guard who breaks in and is confident enough to play with the prisoners because she knows she could precision fly herself right out of there, teter her way out of the situation if she needed to. That’s how awesome she is.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. And I can’t imagine landing on that little board because it looks hard. Just during a photo shoot once I had to do standing back tuck after standing back tuck on hard floor and I was practically crying because it hurt so much. Now I can’t even imagine falling 15 feet in the air onto this hard board. How much that would hurt. So these guys were definitely the high octane man beef that I was talking about at the beginning of this review. So.


JESSICA: Yeah the show was like 75% women. And even the band is all women. So it’s definitely like the men are strategically placed and are very enjoyable in their goofy acrobatic act. The next one act that I totally loved was the swinging Sirens. It’s the aerial straps. So it’s three Sirens who are swinging from the ceiling by straps, sometimes one, sometimes two. And they are way up there, way over the audience. It’s almost like rings. So what do you call that when you front flip?


UNCLE TIM: A yamawaki?


JESSICA: Yeah they’re yamawaking right above the crowd. There’s one that even you know there’s a control that makes the straps go up and down. So there’s one person even sort of flips and lands on the stairs in the crowd then goes back in and it is really really fun and you are on the edge of your seat the whole time. It’s one of the most creative ways that I’ve seen that done. A lot of times it’s done in sort of a it’s majestic and beautiful and slow. And this was like 100 miles an hour and super fun and lots of guitar and drums and you never knew where they were going to go next or if they were going to smash into each other. It was just really really fun.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah it was a little like Pink at the Grammys where she was over the audience and stuff. And it’s really, I mean I like Cirque shows when they break what’s called the fourth wall and they actually interact a little bit with the audience. So yeah I thought that was really cool. And hey Jess I don’t want to get all pretentious English major on you but I’m going to. Those weren’t Sirens. They were the Valkyries. Do you know what a Valkyrie is?


JESSICA: Yes except they’re sort of like angels right? The Sirens would be the ones that call you to your death and the Valkyrie are sort of a angel-esque, you can expand on that.


UNCLE TIM: They’re Norse goddesses who decide whether people in battle should live or die. And so it’s this big dramatic moment in the show because you’re wondering what happened to Romeo because he rode a pole up to the heavens earlier.


JESSICA: Literally he rides a pole


UNCLE TIM: Up to the heavens


JESSICA: We enjoyed that very much


UNCLE TIM: During a Chinese pole act, yeah. Anyway so you don’t know what’s going to happen to Romeo. And you don’t know whether they’re going to let him live or let him die. And that’s why the fact that they’re Valkyries is really important. But while we’re talking about the end, huge spoiler coming for our listeners. Jess, I know that you did not like the end. Why was that?


JESSICA: No because ok, it’s like you’re on you’re this young girl and you’re being initiated into this realm of goddesses with Amazons and the Valkyrie and these amazing incredibly gifted warrior women all around you. And basically she hooks up with this dude. And then she was in a white bikini by the way, symbolism, hooks up with the dude then all the sudden there’s a marriage thing at the end. What? What does she need him for? Clearly because we all know this is really based on Wonder Woman’s planet. Wonder Woman would’ve been like I will use you for as my lover and enjoy you, but I will always keep my freedom because that’s how goddesses and warrior women and Amazons roll. Everybody knows that. There would be no wedding are you kidding me? This isn’t a Disney movie. But aside from that, my disappointment with the ending, I thoroughly enjoyed it. And the woman who plays the young woman coming of age did the most amazing hand balancing act I have ever seen hands down. What did you think of the ending?


UNCLE TIM: I mean, well, it’s not true that Wonder Woman never gets married right? She does get married depending on the story. She gets married to Steve Trevor at one point. Anyway but back to the matter at hand. I mean, yeah, I guess-


JESSICA: James Bond was married for a second too but you know that stuff never lasts.


UNCLE TIM: Anyways. So. This isn’t a comics podcast this is a gymnastics one.


JESSICA: That’s coming up later


UNCLE TIM: I think that it could’ve been cool to have different story, but I think that that story is a story that’s always been told. The marriage you know. So I feel like if you’re going to play with all these mythologies and you’re going to draw upon all these different mythologies, you should I don’t know, maybe end with marriage. Although you know Romeo and Juliet does not end with marriage really. Suicide.


JESSICA: They rode a pole to heaven together


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. So you know. I’m glad it didn’t end with a suicide let’s be honest. But-


JESSICA: That’s always a plus


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. I don’t know what would be the alternate ending that you would like to have?


JESSICA: Well, I would’ve liked her to have also taken her pet male sexy juggling who juggled the moons or the cycle of one’s period. That’s what he juggled. You’ll know what I mean when you see the show. I don’t know- they dropped from-




JESSICA: 28. 28 days in the cycle. Moon cycle. Periods. Yes. And he was always running around with the apple and we all know what that means. So I was kind of hoping she would take him as a lover. He was sort of the snake in the Garden of Eden. And why does she need to limit herself to this one dude who washed up on the beach? I mean I would’ve liked to see her to enjoy all of the fruits of the earth and maintain her independence and join the Amazons and jump up on the bars in a red suit. That’s what I would like to see. See her doing giants into the rest of her life. The bars fade into the distance. That’s what I would’ve liked.


UNCLE TIM: And so let’s- on that note, let’s change gears here and why don’t you tell us what your overall rating of this show was and why.


JESSICA: So my overall rating, wait before I get to that I just want to before I forget I want to tell you guys the NCAA superstars that are in this show who do the uneven bars act. So there’s Amy DeFilippo from SCATS. She went to Arkansas. She’s in that. There’s Melissa Hernandez from Illinois. Summer Hubbard from LSU is in it. Lindsay Brook-Iote from Michigan. Melanie Sinclaire of course from Florida. Brittany Urbane, she had a different last name when she went to Iowa but she was at Iowa. And then Laura Ann Chong from Oregon was in it as well. And she’s also from Canada. So it was like a who’s who of awesome bar workers of NCAA when they got out there. I was losing it as Uncle Tim can attest to. Overall, I am going to give this a 4 out of 5 star rating because, and the only reason I’m not giving it 5 stars is I was not in love with the clowns. I think they need to work on their chemistry a little bit. The clowns were just off somehow I think a little bit. And I enjoy some goofy ass humor that a little kid would like as you guys know. So I think I’m a good judge of clowns. So I’m going to give it 4 out of 5 stars. Absolutely see this. Gymnastics fans will love this show. Absolutely freaking love this show. You will not be able to get enough of it and you will freak out like I did during the bars act. And yeah I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s in San Jose right now so if you’re there go see this show. You will totally love it. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah as you were saying it was in San Jose right now. And then the next place it’s heading is New York. And that will, the New York show will open on March 20 so if you live in the New York area you should check it out because I have a similar rating to you Jess. I really loved it. And in honor of my reptilian boyfriend Victor Key, I’m giving this show 4 flaming balls out of 5. JESSICA: He would totally appreciate that I think for sure.




JESSICA: If anyone would appreciate that, he would


UNCLE TIM: So really he does juggle five flaming balls at the end-


JESSICA: He does


UNCLE TIM: of his juggling act so it’s perfect. So four flaming balls out of five. I love the acrobatics. I loved you know even though it didn’t have the high octane man meat going on I think that it was just a really great show. And I think that it’s still combined a decent storyline with cool gymnastics tricks. And yeah I agree the clowns were not the funniest. That was probably the big downfall. So we’re pretty much on the same page Jessica.


JESSICA: Yay. So now that we have told you all about the show, before we get to Melanie Sinclaire, we have to issue a strong, the very strongest apology to Scott Bregman. We said that- well it wasn’t me, so Uncle Tim you should really do it.


UNCLE TIM: I said that Scott Bregman was not on his A game because he did not have the videos up from camp by Monday January 27th. But, he totally totally totally exceeded all of our expectations today, because he put up a video of Simone Biles throwing a Cheng, Simone Biles throwing a khorkina on bars, throwing a layout stepout layout stepout combination on beam. He was on his A++ game today. So, we’re sorry that we criticized you, Scott.


JESSICA: You. You. Don’t bring me into this.


UNCLE TIM: Oh whatever. You left it in the show when you edited it.




UNCLE TIM: So you’re also to blame. But we are very sorry and we appreciate all the hard work that you do for us, Scott. And you keep the gymternet going. You are a pillar of the gymternet community.


JESSICA: Wow that was really good. That was a very good apology. And one thing I want to note is when the videos aren’t up right away, they have to be approved by like three people before he’s allowed to put them up. So it’s not like he’s the final deciding factor. Because I’m sure he would beam them directly to the gymternet from his very eyeballs if he could. But you know. It goes through a little bit of a process before he can put them up. Speaking of that I wanted to just correct myself, a little fact check from the last episode, which is that- and I was talking of course about my personal interpretation and what stood out to me from John Orozco’s interview. But I was talking about the tour having a full time athletic trainer. And the tour didn’t start with a full time athletic trainer, but by the time that they got to Tennessee I think it was where John hurt himself there was a full time trainer on tour. So I’m glad eventually there was a full time trainer and I hope that continues. So now we have a special song for you, just for you, Scott Bregman. Here it comes, and then we’ll talk to Melanie Sinclaire.




JESSICA: Think he’ll appreciate this?


UNCLE TIM: Yes. No probably have to issue a new apology.




JESSICA: Today’s interview with elite NCAA and Cirque du Soleil great Melanie Sinclaire is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. Tumbl Trak are major components of safety and education. This is one of the reasons I love their newsletters. They have great tips. Tumbl Trak is co-hosting Gym Con USA in Vegas this June. I don’t know if you guys know but Vegas is also known as the city with a billion Cirque shows. How appropo. This conference is one of Tumbl Trak’s many outreach programs to educate coaches. Doug, the owner of Tumbl Trak, is always saying you can have the best and safest equipment in the world, but if you don’t have the education, the equipment is useless. Gym Con USA will feature coaching clinics galore and guest speakers such as Shannon freaking Miller, US National team coaching guru Tammy Biggs, and our friend Rick McCharles. Gym Con USA is happening June 16-18, 2014 in Las Vegas. Go to gymconusa for details or visit




JESSICA: Melanie Sinclaire is from Orlando, Florida. She grew up as an elite at Orlando Metro Gymnastics, the same gym as 2007 team world champ Shayla Worley. Melanie was a senior national team member for five years. She competed in tons of World Cups, brought home team gold from the 2002 Pan American Championships, and placed 12th all around in the 2004 US Olympic Trials. In 2006 she enrolled at the University of Florida where she set the record for perfect 10s scored on bars. She was most consistent on the team for two years in a row by hitting, are you ready for this, 56 out of 57 routines competed in a single season. Yeah. That’s nuts. By her senior year, she was a seven time All American. What I remember most about her is that she’s just so vivacious. She lit up the competition floor. You always knew where she was no matter how big the competition was, and she drew others to her like a light. She just has personality for days. Unfortunately her collegiate career was brought to an abrupt end in October 2009. She was arrested after stolen goods were discovered in her apartment, compliments of her then boyfriend. She was suspended from the team for the arrest but never convicted. She graduated two months later and moved on with her post gymnastics life. Melanie didn’t want to rehash the details of that day with us on the show. Instead she chose to talk to us about what she wished she had known then, what advice she would give her 22 year old self about true love or being blinded by the word love. The Cirque show Amaluna in which she stars is about female power, and Mel exemplifies that. She has risen from the depths of a damaging relationships, faced its terrifying consequences to become truly stronger in every aspect of her life. It was a pleasure to sit down with her to discuss how Cirque has helped her reach this new healthy point in her life. And we start by talking about her role in the show, which just as a reminder, this is a PG-13 show. And as you already heard in our review we discuss normal female body functions and body parts. Which is perfectly healthy for crying out loud. But it might be a little embarrassing if you’re sitting in the car with your parents listening right now. So just a heads up. Alright so here is Melanie.




JESSICA: Did you- one of the coolest things about this is the bars are like the old setting and the new setting put together. So you actually wrap the bar, like Mary Lou Retton style. Had you ever done that before?


MELANIE: Never. And fortunately for me, I am too small, too short to do some of the like the bar beating and the circles like the wraps and the wrap hechts and all that kind of stuff. So but other girls that do it, they’ve never done it before either. So that was definitely something we all had to learn to work with. And it was difficult at first because it is even though to the eye the configuration looks the same as what was used in the 80s, it is completely different. The bars are very stiff. Very hard. And so you do not beat the same as you would back in the 80s. Those bars were very bouncy so you were able to fly. So that was an adjustment. The configuration is not quite FIG because we have to do baby giants and things on low bar for all of us. All sizes. So they had to raise the low bar. The high bar is FIG setting and the low bar was FIG setting but then they raised in 10 cm so it’s no longer FIG setting. So that was an adjustment. So little things like that that made it tricky to learn to do the things that we’re used to doing on that configuration. So you had to adjust everything you’re used to. Like where you tap to where you press your hips to do a cast handstand. Everything had to change completely.


JESSICA: And speaking of that, you guys wear these giant wigs. And when we had so Tricia Woo, she went to Nebraska I think around the same time you were competing. And she is a Cirque performer, yeah. So we had her on the show and she was like I can’t cut my hair, the weight of my hair changes my angle so I have to make sure throw me off if my hair’s too short or too long, have to make sure. Then I saw you guys with your giant dreadlocks and I was like oh my god.


MELANIE: Yeah man


JESSICA: How did you adjust to that?


MELANIE: It’s heavy. That was an adjustment, not going to lie. It continues to be an adjustment every other city when we get a new costume or when we get a new head piece. It adds an extra five pounds of weight when you’re doing things you’re used to wearing a leotard, no clothes at all. So the only thing I can say is changing your technique in a way. And building strength. By changing our technique when do you do a kip cast handstand, I feel like sometimes I have to put my shoulders further over the bar because otherwise I can’t get up because either my head piece is if I don’t have my head far enough over it pulls me away from the bar. All the movement has to be exaggerated in order to make whatever connection or release you’re trying to do.


JESSICA: Ok so seeing the show, so I’m going to get real about the show because it is very, I told my mom about it and I was like let me just tell you about the show mom. How many days are in a cycle, like in your period. That is what the show is based on. I’m just telling you right now.




JESSICA: Like literally like 28 moons drop out of the ceiling and one’s red and a guy juggles them. I caught that, that was 28, counted them. We were like yes ok we know what’s going on in the show. It’s like


MELANIE: It’s about her coming into her womanhood


JESSICA: Yes exactly there’s moon cycles and menstruation and first love and then there’s a giant shaft of red light with a hymen or something floating in the middle when the show starts. We were debating we’re like is that her first period, is that a hymen. It’s so awesome though I love it. It’s like woman power. Yeah right? When it gets to your act, I was like the way the show goes you tell me your opinion but this is what I was thinking. They’re all dressed in red. They’re doing bars. They’re doing old school bars like beat the bars so smashing your uterus Mary Lou Retton style on the bars. And I was like is this supposed to be like when you get your first period and it’s the worst ever you feel the worst cramps of your entire life.


MELANIE: No no no no. That’s one way to look at it but I don’t think that’s what we were going for. It’s just to show the strength of women. It’s not necessarily to show anything that has to do with your period. Our act in particular.


JESSICA: It is really really a fun show. I kept this morning my husband showed me something, some video, and this is going to be totally embarrassing I might have to cut this out. But he showed me this video and it immediately made me burst into tears. I was like that’s so romantic it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And he was like oh my god, period week. And I was like oh god. It is. Ok. And I immediately thought of the show and I was like oh my god this show I was thinking about interviewing you today and I was like that show is about 75% women, and there must be the so many inside jokes about everyone’s cycle synching up and the whole show being about that right?


MELANIE: Yes. We joke about it all the time. Like are you going to get your period? I’m about to start my period. I started my period too. Oh I’m fine. It’s so nasty but it’s so what happens every day.




BLYTHE: Alright so maybe just to begin you could recap a little bit your growing up at Orlando Metro for us. What was it like training there and what was it like training with Jeff Wood? Who’s quite a character that a lot of gymnastics fans know and really appreciate when they see on TV and such.


MELANIE: I can definitely look back on my experience at Metro and definitely be fulfilled from it because it did teach me a lot. I’m not going to say it was the easiest process to go through. But I learned so much about myself. And so much about strength and pushing myself definitely. Pushing myself through a lot of trials and tribulations that I may have been going through, not only in with gymnastics, with injuries, with emotions, but I guess with school as well. It helped me be disciplined in school and work on my time management. And I had amazing coaches from when I was a baby with Teresa and Jay Hogue until I was with Christine and Jeff. And they were amazing. They brought me, this sem-talented girl that only had a lot of strength and power and no form whatsoever and a lot of energy, and they were able to mold that into something that could actually compete with some of the top dogs. So I have a lot to thank them for. I definitely wouldn’t take anything back. What else would you like to hear about that part?


BLYTHE: Actually, we were reading a great quote from Jeff the other day in which he said something like it’s okay to break down. Breaking down is fine. You have to learn to get it together and finish your assignment no matter what. Was that your experience as an elite?


MELANIE: Yes. Yes and that’s kind of what I mean about being able to control my emotions and push through my emotions and injuries. Now some of that has taught me things the hard way because I now have to struggle with pushing through injuries when it’s not necessarily for the same reason. Like you can’t be pushing through an injury when you’re working for a company that you have to perform every night. You need to really take care of your body and be smart and listen to your body. But not listening to that and pushing through emotions and injuries actually helped me with gymnastics get ready for competition, be mentally tough. It helped me become a better competitor in college as well by blocking out things, by if there’s some external situation happening, I don’t know, with family, friends, boyfriend whatever, I was able to put that aside whenever I got into the gym and put my focus on what I needed my focus to be on. I guess in those aspects it helps a lot. It taught me a lot about myself and I became mentally tough. But again, as I said, now that I’m working for something else, it’s a lesson that I’m having to learn and to overcome and to listen and to actually take note of what my body is feeling and to act upon that instead of pushing it aside. So it taught me a lot in the beginning and now it’s teaching me another lesson at the end.


BLYTHE: Forgive me for this awfully tough question, when you said about gymnastics helping you push through other things like situations with boyfriends and other things in your life, was that as an elite gymnast? I’ve never met an elite gymnast that has actually copped to dating when they were an elite gymnast because I wouldn’t think that they would have the time.


MELANIE: To date?


BLYTHE: Yeah or was that afterwards?


MELANIE: Yeah I wasn’t allowed to date (laughs). My parents actually, they suggested that I didn’t actually get into any relationships until I was sixteen and it was kind of that same suggestion that Jeff had for us just because of the distraction that it would cause and the influences at that time that he believed men or other people in our lives could have, to distract us from our ultimate goal. So I was actually afraid. I was afraid to date. I was so naive to the world. I was so afraid of boys and holding hands and getting close to guys. Even when I was like seventeen, it was crazy how naive to that world I was.


BLYTHE: You were part of the transitional years at the Karolyi ranch, when the system kind of switched over from Bela and what he was doing to Martha and what she was doing. Can you talk a little bit about your memories of going to camp and things at the time?


MELANIE: I only experienced a very minute part of training with Bela. I think I was only a junior elite. Maybe I had just done TOPS testing and those kinds of testing so I was very young and I only remember a little bit about training with him. I just have one experience that stands out. And we were doing a warm up and I think we were running around the floor for like twenty minutes and doing like candlestick jumps and tuck jumps and push ups and running from thing to thing to thing and girls were dropping like flies, like throwing up. And that was one experience and I was like oh my gosh Bela Karolyi is so hard. I think it was my very first training camp. And I was like oh man what did I get myself into? And then I think, after that experience, I think at my next camp it was Martha and it was completely different. I’m glad things kind of evolved.


BLYTHE: People were throwing up, really?


MELANIE: There were a few girls that did throw up, that had to leave the floor. This was like maybe 2000 I think. 99 or 2000. So it was a long time ago and I think everybody had a bit of a shock to their system. So yeah it was definitely an intense start to our training camp but I don’t think anything has been that hard since then. Maybe more mentally and physically in the sense of how you need to form your routines and like skills, demanding in that sense but as far as the warm up and the conditioning, it was never like that since that time, for me at least.


BLYTHE: And Pilates, that seems kind of unusual for elite gymnastics. Did you do that throughout your career? Was that part of your training?


MELANIE: Yes we did have Pilates weekly. And I don’t think until now that I actually appreciate it. It was awesome! It was a good way to get in touch with your body and understand the different muscles, the deeper muscles that I guess we forget about and learning to strengthen and relax them, stretch them. And yeah it was definitely very helpful. As I was saying, I don’t think that until now and in college maybe, did I actually truly appreciate the knowledge that I was given at that age. Yeah.


BLYTHE: So how did you get recruited by Florida? Was that always your top pick as a school? Or did you have other things in mind? How did you end up there?


MELANIE: I went to a lot of Florida gymnastics meets growing up, so that was very common given I was raised in Florida and there’s only one gymnastics school in Florida. I had no aspirations of being a college gymnast until I was approaching that time and colleges, universities were contacting me. I always had a dream of being an Olympian and going as far as  I could with the US and those dreams. And I guess through injuries and through whatever situations I may have come across through elite gymnastics, I realized that there was more I wanted to do. I didn’t reach the extent that I wanted to reach as an elite gymnast and I knew that by going to college I could potentially do that and still be as fulfilled and happy by being an NCAA competitor. So then I started to do my research on universities and I think I was more interested in some of the top SEC schools and like UCLA and Stanford and then as it became more real and the time was getting closer, I was like I am such a homebody. I need to be close to home. Then it became Georgia/Florida and then literally in a weekend, I made my decision to go to Florida. My recruiting trip was cut in half because of hurricanes, Hurricane Charley I think it was. I remember having to leave my recruiting trip at Florida because I had to go to training and I couldn’t go back to my recruiting trip because of Hurricane Charley so I just felt the vibes, the connection, the atmosphere on campus, the coaches, just the camaraderie between the girls and the resources that they provided and how close it was to home of course. It just seemed to fit me. Now I’m not saying I didn’t have a good time at Georgia and I loved the coaches and the girls and the university and the campus was phenomenal, there was just something within me that felt more comfortable at UF than I felt at Georgia. And I definitely wouldn’t change that for anything.


BLYTHE: Now when you went to Florida, kind of as you alluded to in your last response, Florida was kind of one of the other SEC schools. There was the Big Four which had won national championships, and then there were maybe a couple that were sort of on the bubble, making the Super Six and what not. And I feel like you and Amanda Castillo, you were the two who put Florida gymnastics on the NCAA map. You guys made people notice Florida and made people start talking about Florida as potential NCAA contenders to win. And you guys were both very confident, very funny, very successful. Can you talk about your class and what made your class different and how you really managed to elevate the level that Florida had and start that ball rolling which would culminate eventually in an NCAA title which was awesome.


MELANIE: Well Amanda is my best friend, always and forever. And I think being ourselves, when we were elite, it was very disciplined, very strict, very kind of to yourself. You know, you needed to focus on yourself as a competitor. And it was kind of, I don’t want to say too strict or military, but I felt like it was very rigid, very protocol. And when I got to college, I got to loosen up and truly show what Melanie was about. I could just have so much fun and be myself. I was nervous about it at first because of the large groups of…the audience and the amount of people who came to these competitions, I’d never been around this many people at every competition before. So that, I was nervous about but you feed off of it. Castillo was my best friend and it was an amazing class of girls that I knew from either competing against in elite or just from level 10 competition. It was awesome. You’re with so many good personalities and competitors that push you and that knew how you trained at home and they helped you with little things that your coach may have said at home. It just brought out a whole new part of me that I wasn’t able to show whenever I competed as an elite. And it was fun. It was awesome. Amanda and I, we fed off of each other’s energy. When one would smile, we’d give each other a look or whatever it may be, that was our cue like I’m with you girl. Go ahead and do your thing. I’ve got your back, kind of a thing. We’d give each other fist pounds and slap each others butts, whatever it was to make us feel good, we did it. And it was awesome. And that was one way where we not only helped ourselves but kind of helped the energy of our group and the other girls may have fed off of it as well. And it just made you feel comfortable. When you know that you’re happy and you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re relaxed and you focus on the important things, that’s your love, your love of the sport and when you can focus on that, you’re able to perform and do things that you never thought you could do. I’d never stuck landings until I  got to college. It was like what? And so it’s awesome, it’s an awesome feeling and I loved every minute of it.


BLYTHE: And you were amazingly consistent when you bloomed at Florida. According to our statistics, you hit 56 out of 57 routines that you competed in 2009. And that’s an incredible number for a college gymnast definitely.


MELANIE: Thank you, I appreciate that.


BLYTHE: How would you describe Rhonda as a coach? And going from Jeff to Rhonda, how was that transition for you?


MELANIE: It’s different. I’m used to Jeff, who, he knew how to push my buttons and he knew that by pushing my buttons that would pull out the beast from within to fight for whatever it is I’m going for, to put my emotions aside and to fight through whatever pain, soreness whatever was going on in my head and my mind and my body whatever. He knew how to pull it out of me. Now when you go to college, it’s a bit of a transition because you have not been raised with this coach and they don’t know how you were when you were a child to when you left at 18. So they have to learn the techniques that push you, that make you hungry to compete, to whatever it is. Rhonda, she was actually very good at getting to know us. Me for instance though, I wanted her to know who I am. I wanted to know what she was thinking all the time so I met with her constantly to discuss whatever was on my mind, if she could tell me whatever was on her mind so we have  better connection. I wanted her to know me, to know how to teach me, to know how to work with Melanie because I wasn’t the girl she had before and I’m not the girl she’s going to have next, the gymnast that she’s going to have next so you know, every gymnast is unique. And I think that helps our relationship. And she’s really good at taking that and using it in a gentler way to push you. I loved Jeff’s technique and method because he was like my father. So it’s a different kind of connection. Rhonda became like an awesome friend that knew how to push you. She had soft words. She knew how to make you feel good and loved to build a connection with your teammates and she was awesome. I definitely enjoyed the experience with her.


BLYTHE: That’s great! And what was it like for you watching Florida win the national title last year?


MELANIE: Oh my gosh (laughs). I was like a little kid. I was in the middle of a show so like we had the stats playing on my phone. So I’m running and every cue, running back and forth to my phone looking for updates, like oh my God, like whatever the stats were at that moment. Just so excited, just nervous, my hands were sweating, like I had so much energy within, like you know that tension that builds right before you find out the final score. When I found out, oh my Gosh. It was almost like I won. I mean I know I wasn’t there, I had no part of it, to do with it. But it was so fulfilling. It was so amazing. It was so rewarding to know that our university won. I just felt so happy for the girls, so happy for Rhonda, for Adrian, and for Rob and the whole staff, everybody. It was so I don’t know. I can’t even explain the feelings that I felt whenever we won SECs the first time. It was a similar feeling like inside except for I didn’t do the work to get there. It was so awesome. And I’m so happy for the university, for the program, the gymnastics program. They’ve come a long way. And everybody knew they had that potential. It was just so awesome to know that it finally paid off and that people were able to see that Florida is a top contender. I think that was the real rewarding part about it. Don’t sleep on Florida. We’re still there.


BLYTHE: You set a school record for the number of perfect 10s received on bars at Florida. And we were thinking and kind of comparing you to Anna Li who returned to elite as a bars specialist after her career at UCLA. And we sort of ask all the gymnasts that we have on the show. Do you ever get any twinges to return to elite after having such a great NCAA career?


MELANIE: I thought about it actually. When I graduated in December 2010, I moved back to Orlando and I started training because I wanted to see what was next, to open up possibilities. So I started training and I did an audition for Sea World and they never called me. I was like oh man. So I applied for Cirque online, but after I applied for Cirque, I was like training training. Like doing bars and playing around with tumbling and getting my strength back and everything. Jeff just jokingly mentioned the idea of you know you should come back. So of course I thought about it. And I thought about it some more and thought about it some more. And in the process of thinking about it, I got offered Cirque. So it definitely has crossed my mind but then there’s a part of me that looks at these girls now and they’re doing outrageous like phenomenal gymnastics. I’m like I don’t know if I could keep up. But it definitely has crossed my mind. If I get in better shape and really put in the hours of training and mentally allow myself to get there, I definitely would be willing to make another go at it for sure.


BLYTHE: What do you want gymnasts to know about life after elite gymnastics and life after NCAA gymnastics? You kind of touched on it a little bit before we started talking here. And so what advice would you give somebody that’s coming to the end of either their NCAA career or their elite career about kind of transitioning and turning the page?


MELANIE: I do find that sometimes it is hard for I think elite gymnasts especially but you know, all gymnasts. Whenever you’ve been doing it from your walking to when you’re 23 and 24 and out of college, it’s hard. It is really hard to stop. You thrive off of that adrenaline rush, that energy you may get from the audience from performing from being out there in the spotlight. And sometimes it’s hard to put that away. I do believe that Cirque offers an amazing opportunity for you to take that next step, not necessarily by beating your body up like you did in gymnastics, but by taking that next step and being able to use your years of performing and your talent to the next level and to make money off of it as well, but to continue to perform and show people your talent. I can only speak wonders about this opportunity that I’ve had. After graduating, there was a void. I didn’t finish performing how I wanted to finish performing and this is the next best thing and I’ve loved every minute of it. And getting into the company also, like if you don’t want to perform but you still would like to be apart of that world of performing, there’s so many outlets in this company that people can get into. From coaching to casting, if you do have whatever it is that you went to school for, the background and education that you have, there’s so many opportunities within this company that you can use and still be apart of this world. So I suggest people to start looking at other outlets and not think that performing is done for them. Also to add to that, I know a lot of gymnasts think that they can’t do it because we understand that at the end of our careers and college especially, we feel broken. We feel like our bodies cannot push through any more strain or physical activity to that level. That’s something also that I want to stress with this company that I’m working with now. They put so much emphasis on your health and nutrition. They’re all about being at your full potential, physically, to know that you need to listen to your body. And they don’t want to push you physically because they know that your body is your temple. It is what will perform. Your body is your moneymaker basically. They’re very very diligent and very conscious of making sure that physical therapy up to par. They take care of you from doctor’s appointments, eye appointments, whatever it may be. If you have any concussions or falls, they are strictly by protocol, you need to sit out. You need to take care of yourself because you have to be at your peak when you’re on stage. You have to know that you can’t be at 50% because if you’re at 50% and you make a mistake, you can hurt someone else as well. And the things that people do are too dangerous to put any risk out there on stage.


BLYTHE: We did want to talk a little bit about the end of your collegiate career. It must have been very heartbreaking to lose your gymnastics career so abruptly as it did. And what we wanted to know was what advice for other gymnasts who might be as you said, naive and protected from dating and relationships until they get into college. What would you want to tell them?


MELANIE: I think that you need to use your instincts. We know when you’re in a good or a bad situation for the most part. There may be cues, whether verbal or nonverbal that let you know what is right or wrong. For me, I wasn’t happy with where my gymnastics was. I was a little bit depressed at that, being away from home even though I’m not that far. I wasn’t that far but just you know, family issues, gymnastics issues. And to know that whatever it is that you may be feeling, to not forget that you do have outlets. You do have resources. You do have a lot of people that are willing to help you and not to just bottle that in and take whatever actions on your own that you feel are necessary. Because sometimes you will make bad decisions because at the time you feel like you’re making the right decision but you’re not in necessarily the best mental state. To be vocal with your family, to be vocal with your coaches, that is one thing that I should have done more. I should have been more vocal with my family. I should have expressed my doubts and my feelings and my emotions with my coach as well instead of pushing everybody away and confiding in the wrong people that are just there to make you feel loved but not. So I 100% think communication is very important and using your own intuition or instinct and following it. And also, sometimes your friends know you better than you think. I wouldn’t necessarily say listen to everything your friends say but if you are hearing a lot of the common similar things from your friends over and over, I wouldn’t necessarily push it aside and especially take note of it and really analyze the situation and make sure you’re in a good situation. So just being smart, and I guess when you’re in that kind of a situation and you know your role as an athlete or whatever job you may have, just be transparent and know that you’re not alone. Feeling like you’re alone sometimes can make you do some irrational things.


BLYTHE: How did you cope with the grief of losing your NCAA career? When all that stuff went down and there was nothing more that you could do for Florida for gymnastics, what did you do and who did you turn to and how did you begin to come out of that situation?


MELANIE: Well at the time, I had a lot more on my mind than losing my NCAA career so I was just putting my focus on my education and the things that were important to me, you know, rebuilding trust with friends and family and focusing on Melanie’s health, yeah finishing my education and being happy, having to find myself again. For a moment I lost who Melanie was and I needed to do some soul searching to find who I was again. And at that time, gymnastics wasn’t at the top of my priority list. But after I graduated and felt better about myself and my confidence had gone back up and I’d shown myself, proven to myself that I had more worth, I was able to see that none of my passion was gone. And that’s why I started training again and applied for Cirque. And now I’m in a situation that I love. And I don’t want to say I regret my situation that happened. Yeah of course I wish it had gone different. But it taught me a lot, taught me a lot about myself, taught me a lot about my worth and my potential and my frame of mind. I look at things completely different now. I appreciate things a lot more. I have a better connection with my family. I matured a lot. I think it has helped me grow into an amazing young woman now that I’m happy.


BLYTHE: Was it any one person during that time who gave you a lot of support? Were you able to talk to Amanda about it?


MELANIE: Yes. Amanda’s honest. That’s one thing I love about her. No matter what I went through, no matter what I may have been going through, she was honest. Her friendship wasn’t fake. I definitely learned who was actually there for me for me or who was actually there for me because of my status. And Amanda stood by me the whole time. She gave me love and support and honesty and that’s what I needed. Sometimes I needed to be slapped, you know wake up…whatever whatever. And she was definitely that girl. And I think that definitely made our friendship grow, considering we’re still really close now even though I haven’t been home by being on tour. It’s definitely matured the both of us.


BLYTHE: So let’s talk about Cirque. How much time lapsed by the way between the time you left college and the time you got accepted, your application to Cirque was accepted?


MELANIE: Well for me, I can’t complain because it was actually only a few months.


[Sound Byte]


JESSICA: Is there anything else that you want to talk about or anything else that you want people to know about the show or about Cirque or anything else you want to discuss?


MELANIE: Just to enjoy life. And to not get too caught up in competitions or too caught up in just one thing and to realize that life is very fulfilling and it’s an amazing thing and that we should definitely be happy with everything that we’ve been given and our talent and friends that come into our lives and our family and to not forget about that most of all. To not forget and to not put too much emphasis on the small things because life has a huge picture and anything that you come across in your life because you never know where it may take you or who it may make you cross paths with so I definitely would take note of that.


JESSICA: Excellent advice. One final question that I promised I would ask one of our co-hosts, Evan Heiter, he might have been competing when you were competing. He demanded that we ask where is Amanda Castillo and what is she up to now and how is she doing?


MELANIE: She is awesome. She is back in Florida in Orlando working and in love.


JESSICA: Yay awww!


MELANIE: Yeah she’s doing great! She’s doing awesome!


JESSICA: Awesome!


MELANIE: She’s so bubbly. Every time we get together, it’s still the crazy college girls coming out. Yeah so she’s doing well.


JESSICA: Oh that’s fantastic. He’ll be very very pleased to hear that. Well it  was so nice to talk to you. And thank you so much for taking the time and for, I just think you said a lot of important things in this and that people will be very happy to hear from you and also I think, I hope they take your advice I guess.


MELANIE: Thank you. I appreciate this opportunity to be able to speak with you guys as well. I think it was awesome and I wish you guys the best as well and I hope to hear from you guys again.


[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.


That’s going to do it for us this week. Next week, we have a very special guest for you guys, one Aly Raisman will be on the show. So look forward to hearing Aly on next Wednesday. Make sure to send your questions to us and also I want to remind you guys to watch the Gabby movie on Saturday night so we can discuss it at length next week. And also, there’s a whole bunch of videos and photos up on the site of what Melanie does on the show and of her career and you’ll get an idea of her awesome personality. So check those out. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you next week with Aly Raisman.


JESSICA: Mesh, like a real flesh color depending on your color which I highly appreciate because I can’t stand in NCAA when they’ll have like a team of people of all different colors and creeds everyone has like the same color. Seriously? Seriously?


MELANIE: I know!


JESSICA: Can you give that compliment to the Cirque fashion designers on the show tonight?



[expand title=”Episode 75: Classic Episode – UCLA’s Miss Val”]

JESSICA: This is episode 75, a classic all interview episode for you today. We had a scheduling conflict with Aly Raisman so don’t worry though she will be back and we will ask her all of your burning gymnastics questions when we interview her. This episode that we’re airing today originally aired in December of 2012. Next week is our Valentines Day show and we have something very special planned for you. And I want to ask you guys if you would send in your like a Valentine letter to your favorite coach ever. The coach who you still think about today, the coach that changed your life, the coach that made you who you are today. Maybe you never thanked them. Maybe you’ve never told them how meaningful and how important they were in your life. And we would like to read some of those letters in our Valentines Day show. So send us those letters to, again it’s and let us read one of those on the air and maybe your coach will hear it. So work on those while you watch the Olympics. You know they start- and you know Nastia’s going to be there, so we all have to be watching. In the meantime, enjoy our interview with Miss Val from December 2012.




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: Welcome to GymCastic, the greatest gymnastics podcast on earth. I’m here with:


BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner


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


DVORA: Dvora Meyers from Unorthodox Gymnastics


JESSICA: And I’m Jessica O’Beirne from




JESSICA: This week’s classic episode with Miss Val is sponsored by Tumbl Trak. Tumbl Trak is offering 15% off all products launched this year right now through the end of February. That means the laser beam, the climbing wall, the rings, the fun conditioning with sliders DVD, and of course my personal favorite, handstand homework. Another item that’s 15% off right now are hot spots and the hot block. You know when you have a bunch of little tinies and you’re working on vault drills but there’s only one board available so you put a carpet square and that slides or you’re trying to tell them to jump on a line and it’s just not the same. Well, hot spots and the hot block are for you. Hot spots are compact air filled pancakes that are great for working on punching and blocking drills and of course keeping kids busy while they’re waiting in line so the coach can coach instead of wrangle the littles. This is also great to work on anything with teenage athletes and a masters gymnast so you can prevent some of the wear and tear that punching drills bring on. Check out the hot spots and hot block at That’s Tumbl Trak, do it again.




JESSICA: So let me tell you about Miss Val a little bit. So her name is Valorie Kondos Field, but she became known as Miss Val because of her background in dance. She was a professional ballet dancer in the Capital City Ballet in Sacramento, California, where she grew up, the daughter of Greek immigrants; and she also was a dancer in Washington DC with the ballet there. She came to UCLA as an undergrad and was a choreographer for the gymnastics team, and was there when the men’s program was super-crazy. They had, like, every Olympian on the team, and Mitch Gaylord and Peter Vidmar and all those guys were there. And she ended up being the head coach and led the Bruins to their first National Championship, and then they’ve now won six National Championships. And one of the things that Miss Val is really known for is her choreography, not just her work as a choreographer, but also really pushing the limits of artistry and choreography in gymnastics. So we’re going to start our interview with her now, part one of our interview, and it was really, really interesting for us because it started out with her asking us questions, and we were like, “wait a minute, is there where the life lesson stuff starts? We weren’t prepared for this!” So it’s a good thing we did our homework, so we think you guys will find this a very enlightening interview. Alright, here it comes.


JESSICA: First thing we ask people if there’s anything you definitely you want to talk about, that you’ve never been able to talk about, or something that you’ve never been asked that you’ve always wanted to have been asked?


MISS VAL: Ok. What do you think that is?


JESSICA: Umm, I would say, um…overuse of Toradol in gymnastics? The painkiller.


MISS VAL: [[Laughs]] Ok.


JESSICA: Ok. We’ll skip that. Is there anything you do not want to talk about or we should not discuss?


DVORA: [[Laughs]]


MISS VAL: Well, the one thing that I always think is very touchy and have been wary about talking about is why gymnastics matters, because I don’t come to this—I don’t come to this profession as a gymnastics fan. You know, you’re all here as gymnastics fans. I’m not here as a gymnastics fan. I’m here as someone who has a tremendous amount of respect for athletics, and in particular the sport of gymnastics.




MISS VAL: Ok, silence, you guys have no…




DVORA: This is way too deep for ten AM.




MISS VAL: Ok, got it.


DVORA: No no no, I’m just like….so, could you just—cause actually I was thinking as you were speaking, that I wish we were recording at that moment.


JESSICA: We are recording. We’re on. At this moment.


DVORA: So can we just jump back for a second? What was the question, that you were looking to be asked? Or not asked?  I’m sorry, I just got a little confused, as I said. I apologize.


MISS VAL: No, it’s fine, it’s fine. I’m always wary about, when I’m being interviewed, to me it seems like it’s kind of it’s light fluff. What do you think about artistry? Ok, well I can talk about artistry until the cows come home, right. And I’m fine to talk about that, because people want to talk to me about artistry all the time. I think that it’s a very deep, philosophical conversation to have, but it’s about, why does gymnastics matter? Because, to me, athletics is about bragging rights. Being able to say, “We beat you.” What’s so—why is that important, in what we do? Why is my job important? Why are you guys doing this radio station? What is the relevance of this radio station, besides sheer entertainment? Do I sound like I’m Debbie Frickin’ Downer?


DVORA: No no no! It’s, like, I feel with in an existentialist sort of territory. Like, why—so you don’t want to be asked, and I wasn’t planning on asking you why gymnastics was important, but I will stay away from that.


MISS VAL: Say that again?


DVORA: I said I wasn’t planning on asking you why gymnastics matters, because I think we come from the assumption that it—well, we all love it, and that’s kind of our starting point for discussion.


MISS VAL: Right. So let me ask you, why does it matter?


DVORA: I can’t say that it does. I mean, I can’t say it does more than anything I enjoy in this world: writing, telling jokes. And that’s what it boils down to, I’m saying, in people’s lives here.


JESSICA: I mean, I think I will argue that, for me, I feel like literally saved my life in the past, and—let’s get super deep right away—and I feel like anything else, like sports can be a—it doesn’t matter what it is, it can be sports, it can be art, it can be your favorite subject in school, it can be whatever, it can be a way to find your higher purpose, to make the world a better place, to get through a horribly hard time. It can be all of those things, and if it’s done correctly, and if it’s done right with the right intention behind it, then it can be a way of really improving yourself as a person and helping other people to become good people too, and that’s why it matters.


MISS VAL: I agree, because I think once you get—excuse me, I cut someone off.


BLYTHE: No no, you didn’t, I cutting you off, go on.


MISS VAL: I mean, as a dancer, coming into the world of athletics, I struggle with this: I struggle with the 90% of doing what I do being able to say we beat you. We beat Florida, we beat Utah, we beat you, you know? And that part of it is so insignificant to me. I love it when I’m on the floor, because I find that I’m very competitive, which I didn’t know I growing up that I was competitive. And I’m extremely competitive. But at the end of the day, I think gymnastics matters because it’s, from what both of you just said, it was, any type of athletics challenges you and your core foundation, to—really, I mean, I sound like an army commercial, with the “be all that you can be”, but no sport greater than gymnastics challenges you and develops your discipline and focus to…I don’t think there’s anything else that in life that someone could do on a daily basis that challenges you at that level like gymnastics does physically and mentally. So that’s why I love my job, cause I think gymnastics matters.


DVORA: Well, I was just going to add, I mean, after I give my response that essentially that we’re not saving lives here, but I think gymnastics matters to me because it—I mean, you view things with meaning, and me coming from an ultra-religious background, and finding a sport like gymnastics that really played with the gender roles and what I was being told about what was expected of me, I got two very different messages, so it changed my life.


MISS VAL: What kind of background do you come from?


DVORA: Ultra, like, Orthodox Jewish.


MISS VAL: Oh, ok. Ok.


DVORA: So, pretty much, but…yeah. So, I think, it’s not just the sport itself. It’s everyone thinks and brings their views and activities, whether it’s literature or sports or, specifically in my case, gymnastics. I mean, viewing has certain types of meaning, and it meant a lot to me, and it really informed my feminism in many ways.


MISS VAL: Great. And I tell the girls that all the time. I tell my girls, when you’re in a meet, and the meet starts with the National Anthem, it’s my opinion is that before you start thinking, you know, “Please may I have a safe meet”, “Oh please can I win this meet”, whatever, the first thing you do is look at that flag and realize and appreciate the fact that few other countries allows you, as a female, to play a sport, and allows you, as a female, to be scantily clad and not wear a lot of clothing in order to allow you to play the sport to your best of your abilities, because a lot of countries, A. You wouldn’t be allowed to do it, and B. You’d be walking around covered from head to toe.


DVORA: Yeah, and, my, as I said, my background—I didn’t walk around covered from head to toe, but I wore long skirts, long sleeves, and was told that this was an activity that was ok when I was younger, but once I turned twelve I would have to stop it. And when I didn’t it created all kinds of, you know, emotional turmoil, but I definitely came out better for it. You know, figuring myself out in terms of what I wanted versus what people were telling me I should want. But, you know, it’s hard to state what the significance is without your personal experience. Is gymnastics, is it important in and of itself to do a back handspring on the balance beam?




DVORA: Probably not as important as, you know, rescuing someone from a burning building. But, what does that back handspring mean to you? What is your backing, what are you breaking to it? And then…


MISS VAL: And, well, what I think for as a young girl, as a seven year old, for you to develop the determination and the courage and the mental focus to be able to perform the back handspring on four inches is what shapes everything else in your life, and that is what allows you, a young girl, to grow up to be a strong, confident woman, to make a difference. Not that you’re going to, not that gymnastics, I mean, makes all gymnasts grow up and out there, but I think gymnastics is for a woman the foundation to jump off and do whatever they want, because…ok, well, I don’t want to get off topic here. So we can go back. What do you guys want to talk about?


JESSICA: No no, go on.


DVORA: Precisely what we want to talk about.


MISS VAL: I remember, we had our once has our Chancellor, she had never seen a gymnastics meet and she came to the Pac 10 Championships that we hosted a while ago, and she owned a very successful PR company. And she asked to come speak to our team the day after our meet, and so we had a team meeting, and she said, I just want to tell all of you, she says, I don’t know a thing about gymnastics more than you, but what I got out of that meet was that there were seven teams there, and every single young woman that was on the floor had this developed understanding of being part of a team, something greater than herself, but had developed the ability to go out and perform, as an individual, while calm and poised and confident, and then assimilate right back into the group. She said, those were the exact type of people that I would hire in my company. Someone that understands the bigger picture of the company, but I can send out and I know will be confident and poised and mature and focused, when they represent my company as an individual.


BLYTHE: I find that really interesting but it kind of does relate to a question I had asked a couple, I was thinking of asking, a couple of years ago, or a year and a half ago there was an article in LA Times about Alyssa Kitasoe, who used to be on the team, and her difficult transition. So it seems like, what is your challenge as a coach to help these young women who spent their entire lives identified with gymnastics, transition away from the sport, while at the same time you’re coaching them at how to be successful in competition? It seems like a weird, like a strange challenge, almost.


MISS VAL: The challenge that I see is helping them understand that gymnastics isn’t—helping them to see that their gymnastics training, especially when they’re in college and you get four years of it and you get four hours a day of it, of gymnastics training—use this as a life skill course. Use gymnastics, the hours that you’re spending every day in a gym, as another class, as another university class in life skills, and then developing life skills, developing that strategic planning that you have to have in order to be ready to compete in January. Develop your sense of focus and discipline and consistency to purpose, use gymnastics as a life skills course, and not as something that defines you, whether you have succeeded or failed, whether you have won or lost. That part doesn’t matter, in the big scope of things.  But if you can use this as a launching pad to life, then you help someone like Alyssa Kitasoe, go from being defined by her weight and her body fat percentage and whether she hits  a beam routine or not, to defining herself as this strong confident woman who is able to put on this beautiful costume, leotard, and go out and perform with confidence in front of a thousand people, so…time to help them shift that mindset. is difficult, but it’s something that’s very, very clear to me in my role as their coach.


DVORA: Obviously anything we do in our lives we can apply those skills to other sectors of our lives for the most part. But what’s really interesting to me is how do the gymnasts stop thinking of themselves as gymnasts once they stop doing it?


MISS VAL: It’s very difficult. Very very very very very difficult. It really is changing their mindset. Right now, I had a conversation two days ago with Monique de la Torre. She is a senior. She’s in the best physical condition of her collegiate career. She’s doing beautiful gymnastics and she has a labrum tear in her shoulder that is preventing her from training as much as she can and from really enjoying this last year of her gymnastics career as much as she can because she’s in constant pain. But she’s been cleared to train because it’s not that big and it’s not getting bigger so she can train to tolerance. She was in my office sobbing the other day. She said, “you know I don’t want to look back at the end of the season and just have regrets that it wasn’t everything that I wanted it to be.” And so I’m having consistent dialogue with her about stop basing the value to the team and the value of gymnastics based on whether you’re going to go out there and make a squad, make one of our top 6 or score 9.9s or higher. Stop basing your satisfaction meter on that and start basing it on everything that you have learned over the three and a half years you’ve been here and how you can develop your leadership skills and really make an impact and what your legacy will be for this team. The entire time she was sobbing about not being able to train. She kept talking about Niki Tom and how much she learned from Niki about perseverance and consistency to detail and making each day a masterpiece. I said if you were given two choices and one choice is God came down and said ok Monique. You’re going to compete in the national championship. You’re going to score 9.9 on three events at the NCAA. Or ok Monique. You’re not going to be able to compete much this year because your shoulder’s just not going to allow you to but you’re gonna leave a legacy here like Niki Tom and the future generations are going to to talk about Monique de la Torre like you’re talking about Niki Tom. Which one would you choose? And she said Oh God I would do anything to have a legacy like Niki Tom. I said well that’s 100 percent in your control. And so having constant conversation like that to get her to change her focus and then you hope that at some point they have an “a-ha” moment and they switch. They get it. There’s no guarantee that they’ll get it during the time that they’re in college but if you keep planting that seed and watering it, watering it, watering it hopefully at some point in their college career or after that they will get it, that their value is not based on what they do but their value is based on their intentions.


DVORA: And in that same article, you mention your own difficult transition from after you stopped dancing professionally. Do you use your experiences, your own personal experiences in helping the girls kind of come to terms and learn to transition and learn to figure out a new path after they stop doing gymnastics?


MISS VAL: Yes, absolutely. That was one of those things in my development as a coach, when I switched from- when I first got the coaching job and I was trying to be like all the other successful coaches and so I started talking like a coach and acting like what I thought a coach was and I failed miserably and was not being true to myself at all. And then I literally read Coach Wooden’s definition of success and kept saying become the best that you are capable of becoming and that word you kept growing and growing and growing in my mind and I realized I was trying to be the best that Greg Marsden could be or Suzanne Yoculan could be or Sarah Patterson could be and wasn’t being the best Valorie Kondos that I could be. I really just took a hard look at everything that I had learned as a professional dancer and having had a long career as a professional, classical, disciplined dancer and how I could apply that to leading a group of sixteen young women. And there was so many similarities. I kept telling myself stop trying to be what you think a coach is and start being a teacher and a leader and share your experiences of what you went through in the dance world which are very very similar to that of a gymnast.


DVORA: And kind of speaking about that dance background, we always ask the gymnast what was their most embarrassing moment because a lot of times the coaches don’t have backgrounds in performance. And you have a background in performance, what you are some of your highlights as a dancer, let’s say funniest or most embarrassing moment that you had.


MISS VAL: My most embarrassing moment, which ended up being most most memorable moment that has helped me, especially in my speaking career. I was doing a solo. I was on stage and I remember I was being spotlit so there wasn’t a lot of lighting. I was in this pool of light in the middle of the stage and I had to do this series of plie high kicks on point. Plie high kick. Plie high kick. Like eight of them. And by the fourth one, my point shoes flipped out from under me and I landed flat on my tailbone. And it was that moment of truth when you can either crumble because you quote unqoute failed or you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and realize that everybody makes mistakes in life and what I do from here on out is what’s going to determine my significance in this performance. So I jumped up. Everybody was silent. The whole audience, it was like they weren’t even breathing. And I just kind of shook my head and laughed it off and kicked up and danced my heart out for the rest of it, the rest of my solo and I got a standing ovation at the end of that. And I carry that with me. It’s one of my most memorable, enjoyable moments. And when I speak, you know my girls often ask me if I get nervous before I speak. I never get nervous because it’s those human moments, that is when you connect with an audience or when you connect with another person or in a relationship. It’s being human. Not being perfect. Be human.


DVORA: It’s sort of like in sketch comedy when you watch it and you know you’re enjoying it, but it’s always fun when an actor kind of breaks and starts laughing. I’m thinking of Saturday Night Live. Those are just always fun moments. You don’t want it all the time, but every once in a while you realize they’re having fun, they’re in the joke. We’re all in this together kind of situation which I think people really respond to.


MISS VAL: And that people can laugh at themselves. You know, it’s why we like bloopers so much. I can’t tell you. When I’m speaking, I don’t speak with cards because they mess me up. I get my bullet points in my head. I do thorough preparation when I speak, but I don’t use cards or notes. And there are times when I’m going off, I’ll be speaking to a thousand people and I’ll say what the heck was my point? I can’t even remember my point. And everybody will laugh. It’s like they get drawn in that much more. So that’s a really important lesson I try to instill in these athletes on my team is that please don’t ever think that your success is based on being perfect. It’s not. And that is another great joy of coaching. I can’t tell you an athlete that has had a perfect meet even though they got a 40. They haven’t had a perfect meet. Vanessa went 9.98 at national championships last year. You know, it wasn’t perfect. You’re going to have mistakes. And it’s how you work through them that is a life skill and that will carry you through everything else you do in life.


DVORA: It’s interesting that you say that because obviously gymnastics is so identified with perfection and the 10 and when gymnasts are interviewed and coaches are interviewed, they are always talking about how they’re trying to be perfect, trying to do everything right. And it’s interesting that you say that. You seem to be de-emphasizing when you’re teaching the girls. You’re de-emphasizing perfection.


MISS VAL: I emphasize intention. I get really excited when we have a hard day, when we’re struggling and girls are falling all over the place. Because now let’s see what kind of team we are. Now let’s see what type of character we have. Now let’s see what we can learn from today. Those are the exciting teaching moments for me.


DVORA: Can you think of another sport or several other sports that emphasize perfection? I’m thinking more of the traditional sports like basketball, football. You know you have fumbles. There isn’t the same sort of emphasis on no mistakes. None whatsoever.


MISS VAL: I think it’s golf.


DVORA: Golf. That’s one sport I don’t know about.


MISS VAL: Only because there’s no one to pass the ball to. It’s just you. It’s just like gymnastics. You get nervous up there on the beam. You can’t pass the ball to someone else. You’ve got to finish that routine. Second of all, golf, you can hit that drive out into the rough but that doesn’t mean you’re going to lose the game. It’s just like gymnastics. You can have a fall on beam but if you pick it up and finish that routine, that doesn’t mean you’re going to lose the meet. Golf reminds me a lot of gymnastics because you cannot play a perfect golf game. You can’t. And it’s very difficult, near impossible, to have a perfect meet on four events. But it’s how you work through them that will determine whether you’re still successful at the end of it or not.


DVORA: So kind of piggy backing on that thought would you say that, and we’re talking about more international elite gymnastics, do you think that removing the 10 and kind of removing the pretense of perfection is a good idea ultimately in development?


MISS VAL: I don’t think it’s a good idea because the flipside of this coin, of what I’m talking about is that we can never forget that our sport is entertainment. And we always have to be very conscientious of our fanbase. And we need to make it fun, we need to make it easy to understand, we need to make it that they feel that they can come in and be a Monday morning quarterback, where they feel that they can come in and make strategic planning on the skills and the order of competition and all that. And I feel that taking away the ten has taken the fans out of it more because it’s difficult to understand. Entertainment! Let’s not forget that! Entertainment. When we lose our fanbase, we cease to exist.


DVORA: So kind of thank you for leading me into one of my other questions perfectly. So recently a friend of mine went unprompted by me, I don’t even know how this happened, to the last stop of the Tour of Champions. I had not had the opportunity to see it because I was out of New York and had already happened in LA by the time I arrived here and she hated it. She absolutely hated it. She asked if she could write a review for my site and I just put it up. The problems were that it just seemed very messy, unprofessional and I wonder if I wasn’t so enamored of the sport, since I watch gymnastics with a 13-year-olds brain half the time, would I enjoy something like the tour? And how do we expand, how do we reach out to people in these entertainment settings to people who aren’t obsessed with gymnastics?


MISS VAL: So what’s the question?


DVORA: She was complaining that the tour was unprofessional. The skill level was very low. She went to the tour because she spent the summer watching the Olympics and she loved it. She had enough knowledge at this point to know that she saw really spectacular stuff on TV and she’s going to a live show and she knows she’s not getting anywhere near that in terms of skill level and for her, the dance aspect, the performance aspect wasn’t enough to compensate. The performance wasn’t necessarily good enough to make up for the lack of difficulty. And so how do we present gymnastics in professional settings? Because you can’t demand that the guys and girls do their full difficulty all the time. That would be a disaster on a 40-city tour. But on the other hand, she’s not 13. She said she felt like, you know, she wasn’t 13 and screaming in the audience. It wasn’t who she was. She wanted to see a good show. And she felt like she didn’t get to see one.


MISS VAL: I think that’s marketing though. I think that when you do a post Olympic tour or a post Olympic showcase, and it should be marketed towards people who simply want to get close to their idols. It should be all about the celebrity aspect of it and the show performance of it. It’s not a gymnastics showcase as much as it is a celebrity showcase. You get to see these men and women that you have seen in this intense, disciplined competitive setting, you now get to see them with their hair down and having fun.  And so a 13-year-old girl is going to love it. And the response that I’ve heard from the tour is that it is exactly that. The people that showed up wanted that. The best part of the tour was the autographs because they got to be up close and personal with these celebrities. I think there’s two different concepts there. It’s really about how you market it. We market our program at UCLA as the best dollar value entertainment in Los Angeles. We are less expensive than a movie. You’re going to come in and you’re going to be thoroughly entertained for two hours. From the top of the show to the finish of it. It’s going to be tight run show. It’s going to be something that you’re going to be able to bring your family to, your children to and not have to worry about sitting next to students who are yelling profanities or the hecticness of something like a basketball game, which is great but the basketball culture and crowd is different from gymnastics. Elderly people can come and not have to worry about the congestion of going to a football game or a basketball game and so because of that, we are the top female competitive sport in Los Angeles by our fanbase.


DVORA: I agree that if I had gone to the tour, I would have been excited just to have been in the same arena as a lot of the Olympians, but what does this say to someone who watched the Olympics and loved it and decided to just go to the show, what does this say to the potential to branch outside of the 13-year old uber fan demographic—


MISS VAL: Well I just think it should have been marketed differently than you should have known what you’re getting. And that tour, USAG is not in the business of putting on tours. And so, John MacReady does a great job hosting all that and I didn’t get to see the tour because we were out of town when they came to LA. But the fact that Nastia took her performance to something else besides trying to do a floor routine or gymnastics, I thought was great because you got to see her in all her beautiful splendor but I think if USAG is going to put on tours, they should hire someone who does that, that puts on shows. Let them direct and develop a tour and then market it for exactly what it is. And I think it’s an important part of our sport. I think it’s great for us to be able to see the Fierce Five having fun with their hair down; they’re normal girls. And for the men’s side, for us to see them as the sexy hot-bodied men, because you don’t necessarily get that in their whites. I think that aspect is really really really important. I would love to see USAG develop a tour that is the same thing that a lot of ice skating tours do. You don’t see them doing a lot of circles and quads but it’s very entertaining. I’ve wanted to do a gymnastics Nutcracker for years.


DVORA: Oh you should.


MISS VAL: I’d just have to get the funding and line up a producer.


JESSICA: I’m on it.


MISS VAL: I’m on it.


DVORA: I have a friend who does a break dancing version of The Nutcracker and it’s kind of amazing. We’ll all go see that.


MISS VAL: Ok! I have the whole thing all story-boarded out. I just think it would be amazing.


DVORA: Yes please! So I know you get asked a lot about artistry, but so here’s some more inevitable artistry questions. A lot of people have just watched the Olympics. What is the challenge in choreographing a floor routine and not making it look like a stock floor routine, because my feeling is that a lot of the floor routines out there, the movements are interchangeable. It doesn’t matter what piece of music is playing, if you increase the tempo, or decrease the tempo, nothing feels special or specific to a given floor routine. So how do you create floor routines that are specific for the gymnast, for the music, and for the personality?


MISS VAL: Well first of all, you have to have incentive to want to do that. And that starts with the Code of Points. So even though I fluctuate back and forth on this whole artistry issue, whether you reject or reward for artistry, you have to make it important. It’s just like we spend an enormous amount of hours on landing drills, every type of landing possible because in college, landing is a huge part of your sport. Landing and sticking a dismount appears to be of more value than having good form. So we spend an enormous amount of time on that. And if artistry was rewarded, then you would have incentive to bring people in, our choreographers, that can develop a performance in that minute and 30 seconds. But it doesn’t matter so why are you going to spend any money or time, why are you going to waste any money or any time in developing that when the Code of Points doesn’t dictate that it has to happen? You don’t.


DVORA: And what about like previous generations’ Code of Points because we have talked about the decreasing artistry, or seemingly decreasing artistry. It’s something that’s really hard to measure obviously. What would you like to see changed in terms of how to incentivize it? So we kind of go back a little bit.


MISS VAL: Well I had a really great conversation at the NCAA’s with Kathy Johnson. People don’t ever like to go backwards, but she was saying and I totally agree with what she was saying. Judges will be far less willing to deduct for artistry than they would be willing to award for it. So if we get back to the system like rich originality and virtuosity, where you take your start value— let’s just say your start value is at a 9.7, let’s say in college, your highest start value is a 9.7 or a 9.8 and you give them the ability to reward for artistry, I think that would differentiate between the teams more than asking a judge to deduct for lack of artistry.


DVORA: So it seems every four years, every time we talk about this, we know this! We know that artistry has been de-emphasized. The Code of Points does stuff like well we’re going to make these incredibly difficult leaps and jumps part of our difficulty score. And that’s our way of saying that artistry matters. If a turn can give you bonus like a tumbling pass can give you bonus, then of course, we are saying that this matters. Do you think that this has worked out or has it backfired in many ways?


MISS VAL: Well artistry has nothing to do with leaps. It doesn’t have anything to do with them. When I think of artistry, the component of artistry in a score isn’t necessarily about the level of skills in leaps and jumps and turns you’re doing. That’s not artistry. That’s skills. That’s just like if you do E leaps, it’s like doing an E tumbling pass. It’s just another skill. The artistry is, and you know I’ve listened to your last broadcast or podcast and I totally agree. I think to put it as simply as possible, it’s about evoking some impressive emotion, or emotion based on an impressive performance. And it doesn’t matter if you like the style. I think you said you never wanted to see a hip hop choreographed floor routine in your life. But that’s just your personal preference. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad artistry.


DVORA: Well it’s certain gymnasts doing them


MISS VAL: We all know those performances that draw us in, that just captivate you and that is what should be able to be rewarded. I think we could all talk about Aly Raisman, being our Olympic floor champion. Would she still be the floor champion if there was an area to be able to reward for artistry? Yeah she probably would still be because her routine was near flawless. Would someone else who had made a mistake, like one of the Russians, have scored higher with rewarded artistry? Probably. I’m not saying that Aly Raisman shouldn’t be the Olympic floor champion.


DVORA: I just wanted to add to my statement about hip hop in gymnastics, Ariana Berlin. I enjoyed watching her hip hop routines. So it’s not all of them. You have to have an understanding of the type of movement.


MISS VAL: Interesting thing about Ariana, and I love the fact that you brought her up. When we choreographed her routine, I would tell her the types of movement that I thought should go in this particular place and she would put the steps in and specific choreography in and then I would take those steps and make them more gymnastics-friendly, to look more like a gymnastics performance rather than a hip hop dance in a leotard. Because to be honest with you, the movement didn’t look good without the baggy pants and the tank top. They looked awkward in a leotard. I took those movements, I cleaned them up, made her have really clean lines as much as I could. At first, when she was a freshman, she fought me on this. She did not want to dilute the hip hop dance look. And I said well that’s great for hip hop performance. Ours isn’t a hip hop performance. It’s a gymnastics performance. And so we went back and forth, back and forth on that. We finally started understanding it, and when she started buying in, she started scoring well. And being appreciated by the people like you that don’t wanna see hip hop on the floor. But that’s a classic example of what I’m talking about. You would never ask for anyone to do a hip hop routine on floor, but you appreciated the artistry of it because she did it cleanly, it was choreographed to the music, it was interesting to watch, and it kept your attention.


DVORA: One of things in my totally unscientific survey, it seems that UCLA gymnasts presumably stay elite, go to international competitions much more than former elites or level 10s from other programs. Am I completely off base or is there something to that? Is there something about how you approach training at UCLA that gymnasts stay elite or go elite?


MISS VAL: We really try to make the sport fun for them again. You know, Chris is an amazing coach. He’s an unbelievable technician and he is passionate every single day. Our training is really fun. We train at 8 in the morning and it is high energy power packed. We love what we do. We love the palate, you know the athlete that we get to work with. And so our athletes don’t get bored. And even though you don’t see all the skills that they can do in competition, because as you well know, it’s not worth it for us to throw all the skills that they can do, we do those skills in the gym. And that’s what keeps them in the back of their minds thinking you know I could go and I can do elite again. I can compete internationally. I just had a conversation yesterday….you know Vanessa wants to go on to 2016. And Peng Peng definitely will continue to train elite. And I said you know Vanessa you need to carve out your summer so you can go home and train with her. Because you need to keep that enthusiasm up and train with someone that’s at your level to push you and that’s what we do in our gym every day. We’ve got Sam Peszek and Alyssa Pritchett. Who’s going to be the first one to throw the double double on floor? It’s a healthy competitiveness and it keeps them hungry and excited about their sport. I think that has always been our culture.


DVORA: In terms of their success in the NCAA….one thing you know when you watch elites go from elite to NCAA ranks, it’s not necessarily a given that they’re going to do very well in the NCAA even though they competed as elites. It seems like the Canadian elites that come to UCLA by and large just thrive in the NCAA. Why do you think that is?


MISS VAL: I never thought of that. I don’t know. I think it’s a combination, I’m just guessing honestly because I’ve never really thought about it. I think it’s they have a tremendous appreciation for being paid for the first time in their lives to do gymnastics. It’s not something they grow up expecting and it’s not something they feel entitled to because it’s so rare for them. I think it’s that combined with…they don’t grow up watching a lot of collegiate gymnastics meets and they don’t grow up going to collegiate gymnastics meets and so it’s so new to them that oh my gosh look at all this energy that’s put into my sport! And for the first time, they’re treated like professionals. They have everything they need to be successful that they thrive in that environment. They didn’t grow up even expecting it. They didn’t even know it existed. I can’t tell you how many Canadian parents…they don’t understand. No you don’t have to buy your leotards. No you don’t have to pay for their travel. No really you don’t. It’s just like Christmas for them for four years. They are just so appreciative of it. I remember when I was talking to, when Lena Degteva was on our team and I found out that Canadians got twice as much taxes taken out of their scholarship checks. So when Lena moved off campus and was getting her monthly check, hers was substantially lower than the Americans because they had the Canadian taxes taken out of it. And Lena just looked at me like I was crazy. She was like why would I care about that? I’m being given a college scholarship. I’m getting my education paid for and I get to do gymnastics. It’s very refreshing.


DVORA: Definitely. I know I definitely did not get paid to go to school. But also do you think, and this is just kind of spitballing, do you think that the Canadian elites, even though they come out of the elite system, do you think Canadian elites are less burned out because Canadian gymnastics is less of a pressure cooker than the Americans seem?


MISS VAL: Yes. Yes.


DVORA: That was just a random thought.


MISS VAL: No I agree with that.


DVORA: Earlier we were talking about how the girls learn to function as part of a team but still thrive as individuals. Now I imagine that not everyone works out. I’m not interested any names but what happens when a gymnast doesn’t thrive or does not work out or doesn’t manage to integrate successfully into the team? How do you handle those situations and how do you decide if necessary to cut ties?


MISS VAL: I like to give them as much time as I can, as many chances as possible for them to get those very valuable life understanding that to be a part of something greater than yourself, the rewards of that are far greater than anything you could have ever achieved alone. And I like to give them as many opportunities as possible, as long as possible to get that. But when it comes to the point that it is detrimental to the team and it is a huge distraction to us building our team, and when it comes to the point where we’re spending more time on them than the other 15 student athletes on our team, then it’s time to cut ties. When I just realize that they just don’t appreciate what they have been given. And unfortunately, a lot of time it’s being mimicked by their parents.


DVORA: How so?


MISS VAL: Well the parents are agreeing with them with whatever the issues are, that their daughters are right and I’m just being totally unreasonable. And so when it comes to that, then the athlete doesn’t have a chance. If the parents and I are not on the same page, then I don’t have a chance, I don’t have a very good chance to get that student athlete to understand the difference throughout the season.


DVORA: I’m just curious as to—if you could be a little specific, like what sort of challenges, specific challenges that someone might have in integrating into a team?


MISS VAL: That there aren’t separate rules for different people. Excuse me. I have a cold. In our program, there are certain expectations that everybody is held accountable to. And those aren’t gymnastics expectations. They’re character expectations. I expect you to appreciate the program, be respectful of the program, honor the program, which means you show up on time. That you come in in a good mood. I don’t care if you have a final that day or if something horrible happened in your family. You come in and you are respectful to other people. You don’t have to be yippy skippy happy. But you have to be a decent human being and acknowledge people and treat them with respect and dignity. And if student athletes feel that that doesn’t pertain to them, that they can come in and just be a brat whenever they want to, well that gets old real fast. And that is not acceptable. And a lot of times they think I want them to be happy everyday. You know I’m not happy everyday. Well first of all, yeah you can decide to be happy. Ok. Your life does not suck that badly that you can’t make it a great day and be appreciative of the fact that you actually have everything that you have every day. But if you are really that upset about something or bummed out sad about something, it does not give you the right to treat people disrespectfully and to be a brat. It just doesn’t. So those are the types of things that don’t fly on our team. I’ve never ever not renewed someone’s scholarship or kicked someone off the team because of their gymnastics. It’s because of a sense of entitlement. And they think there are different rules for them and there aren’t.


DVORA: It’s difficult to imagine. I mean I’ve never done any high level gymnastics but it’s difficult to imagine that someone had trained for years and they were allowed to get away with certain behavior at a high level gymnastics training?


MISS VAL: Well not really though. How many times have you seen elite kids on the floor and they do a routine and whether it’s good or it’s bad and their coach comes up to them and they don’t even look at the coach. The coach is trying to coach them and the athlete doesn’t even look at them. Ok well maybe because that’s how the coach treats them like that in the gym and puts on a different face in competition. I don’t know. But I know that’s not how we treat our athletes. Do unto others as you wish them do unto you. If I’m going to treat you with respect and dignity and if I’m going to even when you’re being a brat, I’m going to take the time out to come over to you and treat you, I expect the same in return. And that goes for how you treat your other athletes, your teammates and how you treat your coaches, staff, and everybody else. And it drives me nuts. There are times we’ve gotten athletes in and that’s their pattern of behavior. When you coach them, they think that they’re in trouble and they don’t look at you, they become very robotic and it’s like why are you acting like I’m whipping you? I’m simply helping you get your legs straight on a back handspring. It’s the deconditioning so that you can recondition. It takes a while but they have to be open to it.


DVORA: Well that kind of just, what you just said, kind of speaks to their previous training, that any time a coach approaches them, they were clearly doing something wrong or they were in trouble, and they react defensively to that, it seems.

MISS VAL: Right.

DVORA: You know, and…

MISS VAL: And that’s when, that’s the programming of your values and your self-worth is in your performance.

DVORA: Mmhmm.

MISS VAL: And one of my biggest challenges is erasing that.

DVORA: Mmhmm.

MISS VAL: Your value to yourself, your sense of self-worth, should be based on your intentions. If you’re intending to be respectful to your coaches and listen to what’s being given and respectful to your teammates and the encouragement they’re giving you, and your intention is to do the best that you can do, then you should be walking on clouds. It has nothing to do with whether you hit the skill or not.

DVORA: So it’s kind of…

MISS VAL: And that’s really, really, really hard, and it’s really hard, and what we’ve been going through now—we’ve been putting in full floor routines together—and, you know, we’re doing routines and stopping before their last pass. Ok, well they’re not at the point in their training right now where we can expect them to land on their feet every single time they do their last pass. It’s ok if they make a mistake, if they have a fall. It’s ok. That’s where we are in our training right now. But to get them to realize that it’s ok, and just keep working, just keep improving, it’s ok. You don’t have to get down on yourself. That’s a huge issue we’re going through right now.

DVORA: Well, that also kind of leads me into my next question, because you were kind of talking about how, in many ways, they come to college and there has to be some kind of mental deprogramming that happens, so—and it seems to be largely a function of how they were coached. So if you had the power to institute one or two changes to coaching nationwide, what would it be? What would they be?

MISS VAL: [[Laughs]] I’ve always felt that everybody–I’ve always felt that the system we have in our country is backwards. It’s…to coach at a college level, you have to have a degree, a collegiate degree, but to coach beginners and our upcoming children, anybody can coach. And so, I think that should be backwards. I think in order to coach beginners and our development of kids, you need to have some sort of teacher’s education.

DVORA: Mmhmm.

MISS VAL: You have to know how to teach, how to prepare, how to influence change in a positive way. And, you know, if I was Queen of the Universe, then I would make all of our teachers, even in our school systems, mandate that they have to have the tenacity, the ability to, an understanding of how to teach from a positive perspective. And that doesn’t mean it’s always fun. I mean, I believe in tough love, definitely; in discipline and structure and all of that. But, I do think it’s backwards in our country. When I was in school at UCLA and I did a paper on the difference between the Soviets coaching structure and the United States coaching structure, and it was backwards there. It was totally different from ours. In order for them to coach elite athletes, they had to have a Master’s Degree, in some sort of anatomy, physiology, biology, psychology, something.


MISS VAL: No, excuse me, to coach beginners. I’m sorry, to coach beginners. But to coach the elites, their National and International Teams, you know, they could have just been good gymnasts, and over here it’s exactly the opposite.

DVORA: Mmhmm. They’d have to start paying the beginner level coaches a lot better. [[Laughs]] If they had that…

MISS VAL: Yeah, and school system’s and everything. Yeah.

DVORA: Yeah. Someone who coached…

MISS VAL: Yeah, and really, if I—if you want to be a great coach, then go get your Master’s in Psychology. Go get philosophy. You know, just go, go study the human psyche, and—because coaching is all about motivating change, and you can motivate change by being harsh and tearing someone down, you can motivate change that way, but the damage that it does along the way negates the change. So you may get them to be able to get them to do a beautiful triple twist on floor, but if you have damaged their psyche and their self-worth along the way, you’re never going to be able to count on that triple twist.

DVORA: One of the things you pointed out is that especially that a lot of gymnasts end up going into coaching, and don’t, may or may not, have specialized education training, and just kind of were good gymnasts. They could teach a skill. Do you think that in many ways they just kind of repeat this cycle of both the positive and negative ways they were taught, because they’re not being educated specifically in something in something like psychology, that they are just kind of repeating that cycle? And, at the same…

MISS VAL: Yup, yup.

DVORA: You know, reinforcing a lot of the same negative experiences that they had when they were coming up, and kind of thinking, “Well, this made me successful, so therefore…”


DVORA: “…It’s going to make the next generation successful.”

MISS VAL: I remember vividly having an athlete, an elite athlete, in the 80s come onto my team, and one of her teammates would not do the free series on beam. And they came from the same club. And this other athlete said to me, “Just yell at her. I promise you she’ll do it.” And I said, “She probably will do it. But there’s a better way.” There is another way, and it’s a better way, because the other way, that I’m going to do, is I’m going to instill in her the self-worth and the confidence that she can rely on when she’s out there competing, and I’m not standing next to her yelling. So there’s a better way. And it was very foreign to her, to the athlete that was telling me, “Just yell at her, just yell at her, it works, for the last ten years it’s worked.” And it was like, ok.

JESSICA: So, speaking of the 80s, and the 90s, so, you know, Jennifer Sey and Dominique Moceanu came out with their memoirs, and they talk about, you know, the kind of abusive coaching and, you know, inattentive and ignorant adults that they were around when they were elites. And, you know, do you see a change in that? Is that still going on? Do you find elites who come in with those exact same problems, or do you see more of your level 10s and elites come in who have had more of a positive coaching experience, in something that’s, and, do you know, do you see anything changing or do you see this kind of coaching still is the majority of the coaching?

MISS VAL: I think both, quite honestly. I see the same exact types of issues coming in, and I see…you know, in the 80s and 90s, we had elites that came in that were very happy with, had a great experience, positive experiences with their coaches. And I think you’re always going to see it. I think there’s always going to be the people that coach from an abusive standpoint, and it’s, you know, it’s…whenever I think of the dichotomy of that, I think of Coach Wooden and Bobby Knight. I’m sorry, you guys know basketball?

JESSICA: Yeah, you know, Bobby Knight, the chair thrower.

MISS VAL: Yeah, and that’s very…

JESSICA: They guy that beats his…yeah.

MISS VAL: …Very abusive and very…I mean, profane with his team. But you knew what you were getting into, and Bobby Knight was a very successful coach. Very successful. You knew what you were getting into, and there are some athletes that can go to a system like that, can thrive in it because that doesn’t affect them, and there are other athletes that it just, it totally destroys their value, their self-worth. And, you know, that’s probably the biggest part of, I feel, my job is spending four years with those athletes like that, those people, and helping them restructure their inner psyche. And it’s…and I mean, I have absolutely no training in it, so I do the best job I can, and I’m not great at it, but it’s very important to at least try.

JESSICA: So I want to go back for a second to just to follow up with kind of the positive coaching thing and how it’s different in other countries, and not to say that they’re more positive than other countries, but you know there’s this positive coaching alliance that I think Phil, the basketball guy in LA, I know you’ll his name…

DVORA: Jackson?

MISS VAL: Jackson?

JESSICA: Yes, thank you. He’s a big proponent of, and that coaching alliance I think I’ve seen that it’s gaining more steam, and it really has to do with the dual coaching thing and, like, building character through sport and that being the main focus. And I feel like there’s more and more gymnasts, you know, elite gymnasts that are having this experience of college and having this dual coaching experience, and really having positive coaching, you know, the Wooden way rather than the Bobby Knight way. And I’m wondering if you think that we’ll ever really see a change in that system, that we’ll see a shift to the positive coaching model as opposed to the negative coaching model.

MISS VAL: Yes, I do. [[Laughs]] I know you want me to expand on that.

JESSICA: Yes I do.

MISS VAL: But I don’t feel comfortable doing that.


MISS VAL: Yes, I do.

JESSICA: Good. That gives me hope.

MISS VAL: Yeah. I’m sorry.

JESSICA: No, you don’t have to be sorry. That’s fine.


JESSICA: So, ok. I would like to know, in this last year we have seen some big changes in gymnastics and the politics of how gay Americans are treated, and we’ve had, for the first time, we had an out gymnast compete at an Olympic Trials. So Josh Dixon came out in a newspaper article, he was out in his life but he came out, you know, publically, and then we also had two of the male gymnasts from Michigan made It Gets Better videos and talk about their experiences coming out and competing in college. And do you think we’re at a turning point in gymnastics, where we’re going to see more out gymnasts? Obviously, there’s tons of gay gymnasts competing, but that they’ll be comfortable coming out in a sport that’s judged, and that we’ll maybe even see a head coach that’s out? I mean, I know that in the NCAA right now, there’s not a single gay head coach.

MISS VAL: Hmm. Yeah, absolutely I do. And you know what, I don’t know if I’m a good person to ask that question to, because I really have a hard time with prejudice. I just don’t get it at all. So, if you tell me that there are still gay issues out there, I go, “Really? [[Laughs]] Wow, wow, ok.” And it’s my own ignorance, but it’s probably because I just don’t surround myself with people that think like that, so…I think that once someone has opened the door and they can make other people see it’s not so scary out there, and the door’s open and other people will poke their head through and walk through the door. That’s always the way it is. Once someone breaks the glass ceiling, then there’s no more ceilings, so you can climb as high as you want, and…I should probably be able to speak more eloquently to this subject, and the reason that I don’t is because I don’t think about it. I don’t, it doesn’t…I just can’t believe that there is still prejudice out there, in any way, shape, or form.

JESSICA: Other colleges have had, NCAA programs have had issues with people of different religions and different beliefs kind of coalescing and being together on the same team, and we wonder if, you know, UCLA seems to never have these problems—at least, we don’t see them publicly—and there seems to be such diversity both in, you have straight coaches, gay coaches, and all these different religions and everyone seems to get along just fine. Do you find that it’s one of the advantages of just letting your program be instead of promoting it as a certain type of program? That this naturally happens?

MISS VAL: No. No, well, no, it doesn’t naturally happen. It’s not—our program isn’t like that because I just let it be. We have not gotten recruits that I would have liked to have gotten because of our diversity.

JESSICA: Really.

MISS VAL: So, you know, they had said, it’s just they wanted to go to a place that won’t…this particular girl wanted to go to a place where the team was much more Christian. All of them. And my personal point of view, and the fact that I’m the leader of this program makes it kind of pertinent and relevant, it that…I think, I believe that everybody can have an opinion. You can have opinions all you want. But I don’t believe that it’s up to you to judge anybody. And I, myself, I have a very strong faith. I grew up Greek Orthodox; I am a Christian and I believe strongly in my faith. And I don’t understand how people can have a strong faith and feel that it is up to them to judge what other people do. Those things contradict each other, to me. So, while I can respect your opinion, if you don’t want to be around gay people or if you don’t want to be around Muslim people or if you don’t want to be around Jewish people or the Jewish people don’t want to be around Christians or, while I can respect your opinion about that, I absolutely, there is no place on our team for you to judge yourself and say that you are better than someone else. And I let that be known when I’m recruiting. The diversity on our campus is mirrored by the diversity on our team, and that diversity encompasses a wide range of things, and if that is not something that you can embrace and appreciate and realize that if you could stop judging other people and just start observing them, without formulating a judgment, it’s going to help this world be a whole heck of a lot better, then UCLA is not the right place for you. And I’ve encountered that a lot, actually. So it’s not that our team just happens to be diverse. It’s something that I cultivate and I am very, very proud of, and I encourage it. I encourage them to talk about politics. I mean, when Michelle Selesky was on the team and a staunch Republican, and Trishna Patel was on the team and a staunch Democrat, and we would open discussion about this, and most of the girls on the team had never even thought about politics. I thought it was great. And I’ll never forget the time being in the van and talking with Mohini about what she believes and why she believes it. The same with Ariana, being Jewish, what she believes, why she believes it. I think it’s a really healthy discussion, to be able to moderate discussions like that and not allow them to formulate judgments on each other. I love it. [[Laughs]] I always tell them…I hate it when people get in this little gang mentality where they think what they are and what they do is better than what other people do. And, years and years ago, in the 90s I think, our reporter for our Daily Bruin, a guy, we took him on a trip with us and he was in a van—that was before we took buses—and we got to the hotel and asked how was your trip, and he said it was actually a little uncomfortable because the girls in the van were talking about how uncomfortable it would have been to be brought up in a lesbian household. Well, they had no idea that this guy was raised by two women, by a lesbian couple.  And so it was a wonderful teaching moment, during that night we had a team meeting, and I said like, you know, What were you discussing in the vans? And the girls that were in that van were just laughing and laughing about what it would be like to be raised by two women, and the problems that would come up, and I said, you know, told them that, “Did you ever think that, to think that one of your teammates, let alone this guy’s parents, are lesbians?” And they were mortified. But it opened up a wonderful discussion for us to have about how they just thought jokes and laughing and formulating judgments and opinions about things was funny. And it wasn’t funny.

DVORA: Does it make you sad that someone would not want to come to UCLA because they don’t want, like, they don’t want to encounter different points of view?

MISS VAL: Yeah. Well, I felt it was sad from that perspective, and also felt that it was a bit hypocritical, because if you are a Christian and, you know, the life that Christ lead, He didn’t surround Himself just with people like Himself. He surrounded Himself with the dregs of society. And so if you’re supposed to be out there, ministering to people, I don’t…it doesn’t make any sense to me to surround yourself with people that are all Christians. So. I thought the message was lost. I mean…

DVORA: It is a really strong impulse, coming from a closed-off community, it’s not that you don’t want to have your…they’re very scared. I mean, I’m not sure how these other gymnasts are raised, but there’s a tremendous resistance, they’re so afraid of saying…they know that there are other good points of view out there. It’s not like they’re…But they also believe fervently that the world view that they’ve given you is the best one, and the one that you should have, and they’re very scared of it having been challenged, and sending kids out, particularly at an impressionable age, and let them decide for themselves. They’re very afraid of it, the parents and the community.

MISS VAL: I think…yeah, I do. And that is not a philosophy and a belief that I have. I encourage our student athletes to go out and seek. Don’t be Christian just because your parents are Christian. You need to be, you need to figure out your truth. And they’re at a wonderful age, when they come to college, that they’re starting to think about all of this stuff and formulate opinions and, don’t just, don’t formulate uneducated opinions.

DVORA: Mmhmm.

MISS VAL: And I love it when the girls, you know. I’ve had many, many girls over the years come to me and ask me why do I believe what I believe. I love having that conversation with them. And I love showing them exactly why I believe what I believe. And I don’t tell them this is what you should believe. It’s just opening the door to say, go seek. Go seek and you shall find. Just go seek, go figure yourself out.

DVORA: Mmhmm. Kind of seems like the whole point. Go figure yourself out, not just philosophically or religiously, but what you’re doing in general in college gymnastics as well figuring yourselves…

MISS VAL: Right.

DVORA: …out for the future.

MISS VAL: Right. And I’ll be very honest with you and share stuff, and hope that I’m not sharing something I shouldn’t, but Mattie’s been having a difficult year this year. I think part of it has to do with the whole Olympic thing, and she says flat out, it didn’t have anything to do with her regrets. She doesn’t regret not continuing, or the fact that they won a gold medal. That’s not it at all. It’s kind of all just hit her, and she’s had a hard time in the gym, and being up and happy and appreciative. And the conversations that I keep on having with her are that it’s so clear to me that Mattie is exceptionally bright. She’s a really, really, really smart girl. She’s been blessed with smart, smart genes. She’s obviously very talented. And she has a very high emotional intelligence, intuitive intelligence. She gets things, social things, really well. And I’m telling her to not—what’s so bad to me is that you’re wasting even one day of this amazing experience and opportunity you can have here, because at the end of your four or five years here, you have everything you need to be anything you want to be in life. Anything. The sky is the limit. Dream big. You’ve got it all, right here, right now. And the fact that you are depressed because of what’s happened in your past is very, very sad. And it’s affecting your present, right now, today. And I’ve had multiple discussions with her about that. And I refuse to give up on her, and I will do everything I can to get her to have that Aha! moment where she becomes brilliant Mattie, because she is just a phenomenal, phenomenal young woman.

JESSICA: I have two more—I have one more question, and then we have some reader questions—unless Dvora, if you wanna—are you good?

DVORA: No, I wasn’t sure if we were going into the reader questions.

JESSICA: Ok. Yeah. So I have one more question that I’ve always wanted to know, ok. So, you know, I have probably fifty things I’ve always wanted to know, but this is one I’ve never heard you answer, so: if someone is offered a full—like, if someone, if you’re talking to an elite, and they’re considering going pro, and—or maybe it’s a level 10, and they’ve been offered a commercial, and they’re like, “oh, I totally want to do this, I want to get into the entertainment industry”, whatever—do you tell them, if you’re in the recruiting process, do you break it down for them? “Ok, if you’re gonna go pro, make sure you make X amount of money after taxes because a UCLA scholarship is worth this much money.” Do you do that?


JESSICA: And if so, like, what is the number?

MISS VAL: Yeah. It’s…I’ve had that conversation a lot. I’ve had it with Jordyn Wieber when she called me after World Championships and was trying to decide what to do, and before the Olympic games, Kyla Ross and her father came up just specifically to talk about that, because they knew I had gone through it with other girls. I think everybody has a price. We all like it or we don’t, but I think everybody has a price, and it’s important that you figure out what that price is. The cost of an out-of-state scholarship at UCLA is $50,000, so after taxes, you figure you want to make $250,000. Well, I think it’s—my personal opinion is that the number is greater than that, because you cannot put a value on the experiences that you have being a collegiate student athlete. It’s priceless, in my opinion. And that was discussion I had with Jordyn and her parents, because Jordyn realized the value of that experience, and wants to be a part of a team, but was getting offered a substantial amount of money and didn’t see herself continuing doing gymnastics for that much longer. So…but she said, “I don’t want to give up my eligibility if it means that I can’t be a part of the team, the team experience.” So that was a great discussion to have with her, and I think she did make the right decision. You know, as much as I would love to have her competing on our team when she comes, I do think that her age and all of that allows her to make a substantial amount of money. It’s the same conversation I had with Kyla. Kyla—can I talk about Kyla?

JESSICA: Yes, please do.

MISS VAL: No, well, cause I’m not—you can’t talk about recruiting someone.


MISS VAL: I’m not talking about recruiting her, I’m talking about the conversation we had about her going professional.



JESSICA: That’s clear, yes.

MISS VAL: Cause that’s an NCAA violation, to talk about recruiting Kyla. I’m not talking about that. But Kyla’s, you know, 15 years old, 16? She’s got quite a few more years to be able to make a substantial amount of money. What’s the magic number? And her dad was a professional baseball player, so he knows the professional world well. What is the magic number? When we had the girls in 2000 come in, Jamie and Maloney and Schwikert, they did their homework. They called up Amy Chow, they asked Amy, Kerri Strug, after taxes and paying your coaches, how much money did you make? And it wasn’t enough for them to give up their collegiate experience.

JESSICA: Wow. Alright we have some questions from our listeners who wrote in because they knew you were going to be on the show and they have some questions for you. So let’s see. The first one, LetsTalkAboutGym asks “what traits and styles do you look for when recruiting new Bruins?


MISS VAL: Big beautiful gymnastics, maturity in their character, and appreciation for what UCLA is. And that’s a great academic institution. They’ve got to be excited about their academics. They need to be passionate about school and learning. And then that translates into being passionate about learning in the gym. And the standard of excellence. They’ve got to thrive in that. So when i talk to recruits face to face and I talk about the standard of excellence, academically, athletically, and personally and socially what it means to be a part of our team, there’s some who get scared, you can see it in their eyes. And there’s some that just come to life. When they get excited about talking about all of that, I know that it’s a good fit.


JESSICA: And Texas Bill, whom sounds like someone you know, he said “is this the most talented Bruins squad ever? How did Mattie Larson get so funny? And how did Zam become the greatest performer?

MISS VAL: [laughs] I don’t know Texas Bill. No this is not the most talented squad ever. No. uh-huh. Sorry, I should probably say yes, but they’re not. They’re very tenacious, they’re very fun. Even when they’re in trouble, and they’ve been in trouble a lot this year [laughs]. But last year we had a team that was really talented and they were pretty much status quo. You knew what you were going to get. This year, they’re all over the map. And Chris keeps saying, it’s like we’ve got a team of thoroughbred huskies that are pulling… we’re expecting them to pull this really heavy load a long way and they’re all going in different directions. And it’s our job to make sure they’re all going in the same direction. So it’s challenging but I like it because I like tenacious people like that. Honestly if we had Peng Peng back then I could say we’re probably one of the most talented squads we’ve ever had. But we’re a very different team without Peng. Mattie Larson is really quick witted and she’s really funny and she’s really smart. So that is, when I talk to her about being the best Mattie she can be, that’s that combination of person that I hope to develop in her that she can be every day of her life without having these highs and lows that she does. And then Vanessa performance quality, Vanessa’s just a sponge. And once we learned that Vanessa is… she’s by far the most visual learner that we’ve ever worked with, kind of to a savant stage, and we start coaching her differently, she’s just blossomed. When I choreographed with her, it was very funny, in fact it just happened two days ago. I took a part of her routine and I switched it from one side of the floor to the other so we could do it in the mirrors so she could see what she looked like. And when she went back to the other side of the floor, she did it as if she was facing the mirror. And I said, “I knew you were going to do that, Zam.” Because she’s such a visual learner. And I had to go over the same thing all over again, break it down all over again for her facing the other way. And I think that’s why she’s become a great performer.




MISS VAL: On beam, on beam she tries to be Elise. She says she brings out her inner Hoppy. We call Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs Hoppy. And when she’s sharp and she’s performing, she’s pretending to be Elyse.


JESSICA: That’s so adorable!


MISS VAL: I know that’s a good little nugget, huh?


JESSICA: That is! I love that! Who wouldn’t want to be Hoppy on beam? Hello!


MISS VAL: Yeah and she started that about two years ago. Because she’s so fluid and mellifluous up there and it’s like damn, you give yourself way too much time to fall off and wobble.


JESSICA: [laughs]


MISS VAL: Just be Hoppy. So I said I want you to go through a  whole routine just being Hoppy. And it was sharp and crisp and clear, and you could see her finishing her skills like Elyse did. And the other day she did this beautiful routine and she got off and she looked at me and says, “I brought out my inner Hoppy.”


JESSICA: Awwww, I love her! Ok so does this mean… you mentioned Peng Peng. So does this mean that she wouldn’t even do bars maybe toward the end of the season if she’s ready?


MISS VAL: I think, actually I think she’s going to be ready to do bars and beam. I think she’ll get cleared in February and she is a maniac with her training. The only other person I’ve ever seen like her is Kate Richardson. Peng keeps herself busy with constructive conditioning and training for the entire time we are in the gym. She’s in better shape than she has literally ever been in. And I think she will be ready to go, and at that point we’re going to need to determine if she’s going to be able to score higher than someone we already have in. And are we going to use one of her four years for one event or two events. I would imagine that we would, especially the teams we’re hosting. But you know that question will be answered in late February.


JESSICA: Ooh that’s very exciting! Ok we have one final question from a listener, Danell Pestch, and she would like to know about.. you know you’ve talked a lot about how the design process works and how you do the leotards with Rebecca’s Mom’s Leotards, but she wants to know more specially how the production process works. Do you design the leotards? Do you actually sketch them out and color and embellish them, or is it a collective staff decision? Do you use existing designs from Rebecca’s Mom and then put them together?

MISS VAL: No, no. It’s very simple. I go through People magazine and I pull out all the pretty dresses from the Academy Awards that I like, front or back. And I have my little folder. And then every year, Candy, who’s from Rebecca’s Mom, Candy [inaudible].  She and I get together and we go, “oh this is different, let’s try this one! Oh this is different.” And the she’ll make up some samples and bring them in without the glitz and glamour on them. And I notoriously tell her to drop it lower in the front and drop it lower in the back. And it’s not because I want them to be risque. It’s because I’m used to the ballet costumes and the tutus that I used to wear. And dancers don’t have to worry about their bosoms because they don’t usually have any. So to me it’s no big deal to show where the cleavage should be because I never dealt with cleavage. So we argue about that, how low we can go and all that. And we have the girls try them on, how do they fit, how do they feel, can they move in them. And she’ll usually start with a sample and she’ll usually tweak it two or three times and bring it in for the girls to try on before she shows all the glitz on it, and then we have our final product. But it always starts with me pulling out a picture from a magazine.


JESSICA: Can you tell, for the people who haven’t heard the story, can you tell the Will and Grace story?


MISS VAL: [laughs] Yes.


JESSICA: Thank you!


MISS VAL: I will make it short. My very best friend in the whole wide world, his name is Paul, and he and I lived together for eight years. He is gay. Obviously before I got married. And he was dating someone that whenever they would go out, they would ask me if I wanted to join them, go to dinner. And I thought it was just a free meal so I thought ok I’ll go. And I would go to dinner with them and we would tell stories, just the funny things that happen when I straight woman lives with a gay man. And including, you know, my water bra. It didn’t burst and squirt, but I was wearing a water bra and we talked about the fact that I walked out one morning and I had this cleavage and Paul went, “whoa, where did those come from?” And said, you know, they’re my water bra. And so the guys thought we were hysterical, and they dated for quite a few months, and they broke up. And literally a year later Paul and I were sitting on the sofa watching the pilot of Will and Grace and we looked at each other and we said, “oh my gosh, that’s our lives verbatim! That’s exactly what we live!” And when the credits ran and it sid “created by” and it showed the people it had been created by, one of the gentlemen on there had been the guy that Paul had dated. So, no I have not received any residuals from that. And a lot of the episodes were taken from… I’m sure they happened to other gay guys and straight women friendships, but they were verbatim to what Paul and I had lived.


JESSICA: I love that story.


MISS VAL: And I had no chest and I had very curly hair, it’s just not red, and I’m not Jewish. But he is hot, so.


JESSICA: [laughs] Ok we are going to now, to wrap this interview up, we are going to do a little game, which I’m so excited about. So we’re going to do a lightning round, and


MISS VAL: Love lightning rounds!


JESSICA: Yes! Ok, so, the plan is, it’s like word association. So I’m going to say a word or phrase, and you just give me a one word answer or very short phrase. And you have to go as fast as you can, 60 seconds.


MISS VAL: Great.


JESSICA: Ok, ready?




JESSICA: Ok, buttshelf


MISS VAL: Nastia


JESSICA: Peng Peng




JESSICA: Gabby Douglas




JESSICA: Wedgies


MISS VAL: Pick ‘em


JESSICA: Sexiest man alive


MISS VAL: Oh alive? Well dead would be John F. Kennedy Jr. Alive, Jon Bon Jovi


JESSICA: Sexiest male gymnast ever


MISS VAL: Dragulescu


JESSICA: Vanessa Zamarripa


MISS VAL: Absolutely darling


JESSICA: Lindsay Lohan


MISS VAL: Very sad


JESSICA: Sad wrist syndrome


MISS VAL: Jessica O’Beirne hates it


JESSICA: Sexiest woman alive


MISS VAL: The blonde british woman… why is her… the actress… her, her name is escaping me. Short blonde hair. Blonde British accent, are you guys going to help me out here?


DVORA: Helen Mirren? Are you talking old or young?


MISS VAL: Helen Mirren.


JESSICA: Helen Mirren! Oh yeah she’s hot. Ok, vajazzling.


MISS VAL: Va-what?


JESSICA: Vajazzling.




JESSICA: Vajazzling! It’s when you bedazzle your va-jay-jay.


MISS VAL: Ooooooh. I had no idea. Way too much effort. Guys don’t give a crap about that. I don’t know if girls do, but no.


JESSICA: Long-distance relationships


MISS VAL: Loved them. Absolutely… I was the queen of long-distance relationships.


JESSICA: Sexiest female gymnast


MISS VAL: Boginskaya


JESSICA: Knitting


MISS VAL: Therapy


JESSICA: Chris Waller


MISS VAL: Remarkable

JESSICA: Best dancer I’ve ever coached


MISS VAL: [long pause] probably…


JESSICA: I’m giving you bonus time now, you’re very slow at this lightning round


MISS VAL: I know it, this lightning round is killing me. I’m not going to answer that. I’m going to answer the quickest study I’ve ever coached.




MISS VAL: And that’s because she just shocked me. Is Sophina DeJesus. Oh my goodness, that girl. Normally when I… I’m sorry lightning round ok we’re taking a pause. Normally like when you choreograph you do something and then you go “what did I do?” and they go “I don’t know” and try to figure it out again. I will do something, she will mimic it, and I’ll say, “what did I do?” and she’s like “you did this” and she has it down like photographic memory choreographically.


JESSICA: Best performer I’ve ever coached


MISS VAL: Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs




MISS VAL: Why not


JESSICA: Favorite choreographer


MISS VAL: I don’t have one. I actually… ok, George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, and my new favorite Travis Wall.


JESSICA: Favorite gymnastics choreographer


MISS VAL: Dominic


JESSICA: Hm, Dominic…




JESSICA: Zito. Mustaches


MISS VAL: Love ‘em.


JESSICA: London Olympics…


MISS VAL: On women or on men?




MISS VAL: Oh, love them. I love facial hair.


JESSICA: [laughs] London Olympics


MISS VAL: London Olympics… It was extremely exciting. I couldn’t get past the pink in the arena. And that obnoxious woman that would not stop commentating the whole time.




MISS VAL: Homeland


JESSICA: Stella Umeh




JESSICA: Stella Umeh


MISS VAL: Stella Umeh?






JESSICA: [laughs] Alright well done. Excellent lightning round. Even though you took pauses




JESSICA: But we’ll let it pass because you answered


MISS VAL: Oh you know who I should have said for most… what was it, the best dancer I’ve ever worked with?


JESSICA: Yeah, best dancer you’ve ever coached.


MISS VAL: Alright. Let’s go back to that one.




MISS VAL: Ask me again.


JESSICA: Best dancer you’ve ever coached


MISS VAL: Jessica O’Beirne.


JESSICA: Ah! Thank you! Thank you! Well now you have to tell the story.


MISS VAL: That’s the truth because…




MISS VAL: Do you know what Jessica… what I gave Jessica for her wedding gift?




BLYTHE: Enlighten us


MISS VAL: Ok I’d never met her fiance Coop. I get this call…


[Jessica tells others to take a pause]


MISS VAL: from this very darling man, who says “Miss Val you don’t know me, but I know such much about you. I’m Coop, I’m Jessica O’Beirne’s fiance.” I’m like oh I can’t wait to meet you, blah blah blah. And he says, “I want to give Jessica a priceless wedding gift. I don’t care how much it costs me, I want her to have a floor routine by Miss Val.” I thought he was the craziest human on the planet. And I go “are you serious?” And I thought it was a joke and he said “no no no seriously I want you to choreograph a routine for her and that’s going to be my wedding gift to her.” And I said “well obviously I’m honored and it’s my pleasure to do this for free.” And I choreographed a routine for Jessica O’Beirne. And it was stunning.


JESSICA: Best four hours of my entire life.


MISS VAL: [laughs]


UNCLE TIM: Is it on YouTube?


JESSICA: No, it’s not on YouTube. Because it’s so precious, I just…


MISS VAL: She puts everything else on Youtube but she won’t put her own floor routine on YouTube.


JESSICA: [laughs] There are videos of me messing around on YouTube but that’s not up yet. It’s just… ah. But let me tell you how my husband told me about this. So he.. it’s like five days before the wedding and he brings me into the… he’s like “I’m going to give you your wedding gift now.” And I’m like no no no. So he takes me in front of the computer and there’s a picture of… he has like this gymnast like running to Miss Val after a meet but it’s like my head is on her. And it says like “you’ve supported the team now let’s see what you can do.” And I was like “what is this? What are you talking about?” And then he’s like “Miss Val’s going to do a routine for you as a wedding gift. And I was just like..


MISS VAL: [laughs]


JESSICA: I didn’t believe him, and then of course I burst into tears, and of course he’s taking pictures of me crying my eyes out and sending them to Miss Val. And then…


MISS VAL: So weird


JESSICA: [laughs] And then he tells me “I told you about it five days before the wedding because I knew that you wouldn’t be able to think about anything but this, so I need to make sure that you can actually concentrate on me when we get to the wedding ceremony.


MISS VAL: [laughs]


JESSICA: And he was totally right, that’s all I could think about until the actual day of the wedding.


MISS VAL: And then Jess had to get in shape. She wouldn’t let me choreograph it until she got in shape [laughs]


JESSICA: That’s right. I had to get in serious shape. That was like four hours of choreography! Ah! I feel asleep at like 4:00 that day and slept till the next morning.


MISS VAL: Thank you all for your time, this was fun!


JESSICA: Thank you so much


DVORA: Thank you


BLYTHE: Thank you very much


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.



[expand title=”Episode 76: Valentine’s Day with Svetlana Boginskaya”]

UNCLE TIM: And while we’re on the topic of children, one of our listeners, Jay, he wants to know how you met your husband. Will you tell us the love story?


SVETLANA: Oh it’s a love story. Well, it was beginning, middle, and the end. Which part would you like me to tell you?




JESSICA: This week, our take on the Olympics, and Bogi’s love story for Valentines Day.


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 76 for February 12, 2014. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


EVAN: I’m Evan. Find me on Twitter @yoev


JESSICA: And this is the best gymnastics podcast in the universe, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. And this week I have to tell you guys that Uncle Tim has laryngitis. So he’s not with us on air today. But we’re wishing him the best and a speedy recovery.


EVAN: He is still alive. You were like he’s no longer with us.


JESSICA: He’s not with us in the present moment.


EVAN: He’s putting sexy data into curing his laryngitis right now. So. We can all appreciate that.


JESSICA: Let’s first talk about did you listen to the Melanie Sinclaire interview?


EVAN: I did. I think she- I love her voice. I just love her presence. Talking. I’m like I want to talk to her, where can we have a conversation. But I enjoyed it thoroughly.


JESSICA: What really stood out to you? Because you know the whole story and you followed her and everything. Did anything, was anything particularly of interest to you?


EVAN: Yeah I think it was interesting how she kind of took a step back from everything and saw it come full circle. So she talked a lot about the lessons that gymnastics taught her early on in her career. And then she was like and then I learned the same lesson as an adult. I also thought it was so funny how she was like guys scared me when I was 17.


JESSICA: Right I was like you were scared? I could not imagine that.


EVAN: I know. I know. So I loved her honesty in that because I was like you know what, your a fierce ass lady.


JESSICA: She is the kind of person you want to hang out with. She has a magnetism. You should want to be around her. I really liked that she talked about learning how to tough it out through injuries and then also learning when that’s not a good idea. Like maybe you can do that when you only have three meets a year but when you have to perform every single night you can’t live that way. So that was interesting. And then also when she kind of I don’t know I just I talked before to a Cirque recruiter a lot about all the different programs they have for health and happiness and all the kind of benefits that they have available to people. And I thought what I’ve heard from the recruiter, I definitely feel like Melanie backed up when she talked about what it’s like to really work there and all the support that they give their performers. So that made me happy to hear. Not only is it the gymnastics professional league, but they get all the good benefits that the NFL players get as well. So not everything but you know in my mind they do, that’s right. So let’s discuss NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. The Olympics are happening right now. And of course we have to give our opinions on everything. This is very important. So let me just say I love Bob Costas. I would like to be him when I grow up. And I have so much respect for him. And everything I’m about to say has nothing to do with him because he’s perfect and untouchable for the most part. But they had Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer on during the Opening Ceremonies and I was horrified. Horrified. I’ve never been so upset watching Opening Ceremonies. I was, they were condescending. They were rude. They said mean childish things about the art that was presented during the Opening Ceremony. And I was totally disgusted. What did you think?

EVAN: You know I think unfortunately you go from year to year and the Olympics are such a key event that people feel compelled to kind of create this undertone or inner plot working. And it’s just that bigger picture that I guess a story has to be written. But I would rather the athletes write the story than an on air host or network.


JESSICA: I agree. And I realize they want to create a story and tell it. But I just felt like it was like 1984 again and I was listening to Cold War commentary. And I was like where were all the discussion of the human rights abuses when we were in Beijing. And all the stuff about terrorist attacks. And I was like in case you forgot the US and Germany are the only Olympics that have had successful terrorist attacks. So maybe we should be looking at ourselves more when we talk about that. But the most upsetting I think to me was that as was reported today by let me make sure I have the source, Deadspin is reporting this. That the very strong message against discrimination by IOC President Thomas Bach was edited out of the NBC broadcast. I didn’t even know that until today. I really I finally listened to his entire if you go to the Deadspin article which we’ll put up you can read the entire speech and you can listen you can see the NBC version and then the version that was broadcast uncut. And what is great about his speech is that he talks about what the Olympics are for. They’re supposed to be about peace. They’re supposed to be about harmony. They’re supposed to be about togetherness. And the part that was cut out, he said yes it is possible even as competitors to live together under one roof in harmony with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason. Yes it is possible, even has competitors, to listen, to understand, to give an example for peaceful society. The idealism of the Olympics is and specifically this speaks to the anti-gay violence and laws that are happening in Russia. And that was the part they cut out. I’m like seriously you’re going to do all this criticism of Russia and then you cut out this beautiful message by Thomas Bach? So I was not pleased about that.

EVAN: You know hearing things like that it almost makes you want to not make an excuse for them but just be like please let this be like some type of like frantic oversight where they’re like cut paste you know we’re going live. Like it’s for a reason. So I am going with that. That that’s what happened. And that they just this beautiful message fell by the wayside. But you know seeing the quotes and stuff about about sport and athletics and what it truly means, I think that bringing those things back especially during the Olympics is so beautiful because it is, the Olympics are the ultimate equalizer. Putting everyone in one arena and it’s like be the best, go, do, prosper. And I don’t know, that message still rings true for me.


JESSICA: And I do have to say, you know there is a stream, NBC has this, they’re doing some amazing work. Basically you can watch the Olympics 24/7 and pick the sport you want to watch, which is fantastic. I absolutely love it. So perhaps the live stream was uncut and it was only for the as you were saying the 8pm prime time that they cut that for time. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. But I was a little bummed about that. I was also bummed that they brought up the Kabaeva an Olympic champion in rhythmic gymnastics was allegedly the lover, Putin’s lover. She’s a torchbearer and they’re like we should mention that it’s rumor it’s girlfriend. You don’t mention that stuff during the Opening Ceremonies. That’s for us to talk about on the show, but we hold you to a higher standard and this should all be about peace and love and keeping everything in the highest standard of journalism right now for this commentary. I was like ugh, please. And not to mention I thought that was really sexist because she’s an Olympic champion. You should not bring up her boyfriend. She stands there on her own merit. She’s a badass. Kabaeva is untouchable as far as I’m concerned. She’s amazing amazing. And I know rhythmic fans are going to be like no that should’ve been the Bulgarian. I don’t care. I loved her and she was incredible and I thought that was very sexist to bring up who her that she wasn’t there she was somehow picked because who she’s having sex with not because she’s an incredible athlete on her own merit. No excuses for that as far as I’m concerned. As we’re talking about this I just want to remind you guys that you have choices about how you would like to watch the Olympics. And one of the services that we love here at the podcast is called Tunnelbear. Go to their website. It is a VPN. So basically if you would like to watch the BBC broadcast but you can’t because you don’t have an IP address located in England, you can use Tunnelbear. If you want to watch Canadian broadcast you can do that by using Tunnelbear. You know, you have choices in what you want to watch. So let’s talk about one of the stories that seriously almost made our Facebook page explode. In a story for CNBC, Russian born journalist Dina Gusovsky wrote about what commentators really say about gymnasts during the Olympics. And so we got some translations about Russian commentators really say. And before anyone gets in a big huff about over the language, some people were like she’s not translating this correctly. First of all, she’s a native speaker, born in the Soviet Union. She has extensive experience in translation and cross cultural reporting so I’m taking her word as the word of law here. So we’ll just put that aside. If she said that’s what it’s translated as, that’s what it is. And so she this is what was kind of shocking. So she said that one of the commentators on Rosiva 2, one of the stations that broadcasts the Olympics there, referred to some of the men from other countries as pieces of wood, and also claimed some of the Americans were showing off. Of course it’s gymnastics that’s what you do. And referred to American Olympic gymnast Jonathan Horton as “little legs,” “little arms,” and “ugly.”


EVAN: His arms aren’t little though. Like, at all.


JESSICA: No I was like I just I was totally shocked by that whole thing. First of all you just don’t say that about people, at all. It’s super rude. And secondly it’s just so ridiculous it made me laugh. One of the things that you know I think in different countries there’s a different standard for what’s polite or acceptable. But I don’t think this is at all considered polite or normal in Russia. The journalist pointed out a lot of people posted comments on Rosiva’s website that they were disgusted with the commentary by the commentators and this did not reflect how Russian people think about gymnasts or feel about them or anything like that. So.

EVAN: Also, to kind of steer to another, BBC and Australian commentators are maybe if not even more so just like blunt in their commentary. And also assessment of athletes’ bodies and like calling out non aesthetically pleasing movements and just qualities like that. So I really don’t think that this is that uncommon in commentary as a whole. But I do think that Russia maybe it just has kind of this mystique of no one’s ever really gone through the trouble of translating Russian commentary. But some of my favorite favorite commentary is either from the Brits or the Australians and they’re just like it’s kind of shocking.


JESSICA: Is it like Perez Hilton is doing the commentary?


EVAN: It’s not like that. It’s just like you know, she’s quite a stout lady and you know a little clunky in her movement and you know just like really calling out when there are like differences between athletes. So and that probably could connotate as a bit offensive to some as well.


JESSICA: Yeah I think that’s a good point, that and to your point here one of our listeners, Cari Edwards, said you know this is horrible about what the Russian commentators said. But always knew the reason Americans say NBC is the worst is because Americans only know the english language. Theory proven. Hats off to you Cari. Because honestly I really think that if we listen to the commentary for many countries, countries where perhaps it’s not rude at all to say to someone you’re so fat and lazy. Like when I lived in Germany and heard that all the time. I was like oh nice to meet you too, thank you. Like really? Ok. That’s you know of course I totally love Germany. But you know was it rude to say that kind of thing there? And of course I’m not saying that’s really how it happened because I know German listeners are going to be like oh my god don’t say that. I’m exaggerating to make a point. But yeah I really do think that even when we debate the NBC’s diva narrative and how they talk about the Russians as divas and all that stuff and they create this narrative, you know there’s definitely places where people say worse things on the air than that. So yeah I have to agree.


EVAN: Although, you didn’t see Gabby Douglas shouting down the vault runway like as Khorkina did in 2000 about moving the board or rallying the troops so. Those kind of outbursts are really uncommon. So I feel like it’s important to call it out because people will be like what? Does that really happen? But maybe it’s just the struggle of nationalists, national ties ring through. Even if you’re trying to be a neutral party it always kind of comes out.


JESSICA: And I guess it’s how you see things in your own personal experience. Because whenever she does that I’m like yeah you tell them Khorkina that’s right. You should punch someone in the face if they set your board wrong because it could kill you.


EVAN: Right when she really should’ve been worrying about them setting the vault horse.


JESSICA: Exactly.


EVAN: Yelled that at someone. Sveta listen you don’t have to worry about that board. It’s the entire effing vault.


JESSICA: Least of your problems today.


EVAN: Needs to be a little bit higher.


JESSICA: Alright so some of the cool things that are happening at the Olympics we’re super excited about is like 88 bronze medalist on balance beam from the famous Olympics in Korea where Rhonda Faehn stayed on the podium to not get in the way of the judges then we didn’t get the bronze as a team. That was a ridiculous rule and we should’ve gotten the bronze medal but anywho. Phoebe Mills, one of the Karolyi kids, the OG Karolyi kids, she went on to so after she won her bronze medal at the famed Olympics of the podium bars disaster, she went on to get into snowboarding then she went to law school you know. And then now she’s a snowboarding judge at the Olympics. How freaking cool is that?


EVAN: Ok you might need to clarify for people. Her law degree did not lead her to become a judge of snowboarding with a gavel and like a snow drift. But.


JESSICA: I don’t think they’re related.

EVAN: These are separate yes. But weird crossover possibility there. Might want to take snowboarding judging to a new level.


JESSICA: Snowboarding judging is so difficult you need a law degree. But it’s slope style. So I’m kind of stoked she’s doing this because she definitely had style. She did that reverse planche on beam. So I like she’s doing the sport that you know since we don’t have ski ballet anymore which is freaking awesome, she’s doing the artistic, the most artistically inspired acrobatic event besides ice skating.


EVAN: And aerial skiing


JESSICA: But it’s not artistic. Would you say aerial skiing is artistic?


EVAN: I mean I think you can definitely there’s some aesthetics involved in terms of flaring out if you can. Those little differentiators. But I see where you’re doing with this. There’s more options.


JESSICA: I feel like slope style is just. I mean there’s a bunch of obstacles you can make stuff up. I was waiting forever for one dude to do a hand plant or somebody one of the women to land on top of the doll and like dance on top then jump off. Finally someone tapped it so that was pretty good. But you know that’s artistry. Nastia’s reporting on the cultural side of things, which I love that she did a little bit about the rainbow gloves that are very popular and they have a different flag on each hand so you can exchange them. Excellent. I like that and I feel like that was very gay pride of Nastia. I love that she did that.


EVAN: She best. She best recognize.


JESSICA: Yes and she totally does. I think she’s very good about getting her point across without getting her point across without smacking you in the face with it. Which would be ok with us too. Did you see sexy Alexei in the presidential box?


EVAN: So in honor of this Valentines day thing, I have early hot and heavy feelings with Alexei Nemov. And it was the ABC 96 Tour. And he was like dancing in this really intensely lit hallway. And he was just kind of like shimmying to “Do You Love Me” and I was like I do love you. What is this life. You’ve set me up here. So yeah, I mean my heart felt that.


JESSICA: When I saw him in the corner, who puts Alexei Nemov in the corner first of all. I don’t care how many presidents were there. He should’ve been right in front. Anywho. I seriously was like oh my god and like jumps off the couch, paused, ran around, grabbed my phone. And my husband’s like was that Nemov? I was like yes yes yes! He’s like yeah I saw him too. He was like good eyes. I was like oh my god so many husband points. Nothing is as sexy as when your husband recognizes gymnastics stuff and knows facts. It’s just like take me to the bedroom immediately. So hats off to him for that. But yes he needed to be put in the front for the closing ceremonies. I think that’s everything for the Olympics. We’re enjoying it. We’ll give you our full thoughts on the rest as it goes along. Let’s talk about NCAA news and what we’ve missed this week. Some really surprising things happening in NCAA news.


EVAN: So many exciting things are happening in NCAA. And I just went on a little vacation. So it was like I felt like NCAA was still happening but I was like it was like I was in another planet and like just hearing whispers and things were happening but of course this weekend will be like the 10 parade of Peszek on bars and Sloan on balance beam. So I, as a bad bad man, have not seen these routines yet. Have you seen them?


JESSICA: Yes. I was there for Peszek’s. And I’ve been waiting for her to get a 10 on bars forever. And you know some people might be like oh her handstand didn’t stop on exactly on top of the bar and sit there and she didn’t have tea. But you know you just have to be within 20 degrees, it’s a hit handstand. So it was beautiful. You can’t do that routine better unless you added Zamarripa’s handstands where you just totally break rhythm and hang out there for like 15 minutes. That routine is glorious. It was perfect. It was stuck. Her feet were together when she did her release and when she caught you know how most people catch then their feet fly apart because their back is in agony. No no no. She kept them together. She’s just freaking awesome. I want an army of Peszeks on every team.


EVAN: Precious Peszek Moment figurines is what I want. Just want a case of them.


JESSICA: That would be fantastic.


EVAN: And the one thing you know about athletes who have gotten 10s so far this year, Sloan, Peszek, Kytra Hunter, you know they’re capable of 10s. Like they do perfect gymnastics. And whether it’s in the moment, they’re on really excellent teams, and they’re set up well. So you know like you said, are there nuances that probably might be a bit better? Probably. Probably always. But at least they’re athletes who it’s not like who is she? And why is she getting a 10? That’s probably a little bogus. So these girls deserve it. And as the polar vortex infiltrates every corner of our lives, it has now affected gymnastics. And you know what, it’s a polar whore-tex. And I tweeted that. And I’m saying it aloud right now. You do not cancel gymnastics meets, polar whore-tex. You have gotten around town long enough. You close up shop. And your wintry legs. The Oregon State meet was canceled against Cal. And one, so sad because you know they probably were practicing like they had to compete then they just didn’t compete. So that’s a bummer. Two, my fantasy gymnastics league team is F’d royally. Because who do I rely on? Chelsea Tang. How many events do I rely on her for? Four of them. All of them. So Chelsea I wish you could have competed along with the rest of your teammates. I am so sad.


JESSICA: It’s too bad there’s so much snow like four inches or something in Oregon that it shut down all of Oregon. But more importantly, this is the thing I have to say about this whole polar vortex thing. Whore-tex. This is what climate change is going to do. And this is why anybody who’s ever felt like climate change, I don’t care. I’m just going to live my life like nothing has changed and I’m not going to make a difference. This is what’s going to happen. Your favorite sports are going to be canceled. People aren’t going to be able to travel. Fans aren’t going to be able to get to them. It’s just this is what’s going to happen more and more. So I hope that once an NFL game is canceled because of climate change, that we can finally we’ll finally see some movement in legislation to start reversing this trend. That’s how I feel about it. I’m super doomsday about this. So let’s move on to people who were robbed of 10s.


EVAN: So Austin Sheppherd, she is a former elite who actually competed internationally for Hungary. I think I’ve said that before but it’s still true. She competes for the University of Michigan. She’s a sophomore.


JESSICA: That’s why she looks so glorious in that white leotard.


EVAN: Ok. So you want to know my favorite adjective to describe her?


JESSICA: Tell me


EVAN: Regal




EVAN: Regal. She’s very regal presentation


JESSICA: She has Hungarian skin tone too. You know?


EVAN: I don’t so much notice that


JESSICA: I totally do


EVAN: Regal might be a skin tone as well. Maybe it’s Maybelline. Who knows. But she did just an absolutely gorgeous yurchenko full. Huge, enormous, gives you life, just is like she’s making lemonade with lemons then just sticking the lemons on the mat.


JESSICA: Drops out of the sky from 100 feet in the air


EVAN: She drops it down. And you know what I love is that she doesn’t just do the typical college girl. She essentially sticks the landing with bends her knees a little bit, has her chest up, it’s just a gorgeous landing position. It’s not that kind of-


JESSICA: Textbook


EVAN: Right it’s just wonderful. So, she got a 9.975.




EVAN: Which who wants a 9.975 when you can have a 10. But watch out for Austin Sheppherd because she’s making some really great strides. And I think in the online commentary and through the people I know with the program, she’s kind of making really active changes in her gymnastics just to be a great athlete for her team and contribute scores like this that she’s obviously capable of. So keep an eye out for her. I think she’s, a 10 is within possibility. On another note, have you ever seen a gymnast wearing a strawberry fruit roll up with lace sewn to it? Well if you missed it, Nebraska did it.


JESSICA: I can’t even


EVAN: It is- so lace, I actually get it because I would be like that would be a really cute shirt if it’s kind of three quarter length, black lace with a I don’t know like a cami. You could put a cami underneath that and it would look awesome. But this was a leotard.


JESSICA: So bad. So bad. I can’t.


EVAN: And I really like Nebraska. I mean Nebraska’s a great program. They have a ton of talent. They’re pretty deep across the board. But this is just one of those aesthetics where remember when Utah used to wear that warm up that was like the bottom of a compact disc.


JESSICA: The space suits. The astronaut cosmonaut suit.


EVAN: Yes. I was like I’m seeing every color that’s ever existed. And they’ve burnt some retinas. But It’s kind of one of those fashion moments. So I won’t say I completely hate this because I like that it’s something that we took notice of you know. It’s like disrupt the game a little bit. Kind of like that UCLA leotard I know that you really had strong feelings about that they wore at Utah.


JESSICA: I despise that leo so much. It’s the one that looks like someone you took a beautiful woman and then which is the entire UCLA team, and then you took-


EVAN: And skinned her


JESSICA: And then you took the skin, dyed it dark blue, put it into an old lady sweater shape from the victorian era, and then tied it around her chest so it looks like she has the biggest droopiest boobs in the world. That is what that leo looks like, which describes none of these fantastic athletes. It does them an absolute disservice. They are all perfect and gorgeous and incredibly athletic. And I hate that leo so much. I want to punch it in the face. Which is what I want to do a lot when I get angry. So I’m going to have to start taking a tally of how many times I say punch something in the face. How much I hate it. Anywho.


EVAN: Maybe you could just punch it in the victorian area.


JESSICA: That’s what it needs. Oh my god someone please make a picture of that. Spanny needs to recap that.


EVAN: And you know that there are so many great leo companies out there who do new and innovative things and kind of bring new things to the table. But where is the fusion of really high fashion and leotard creation? You know it’s kind of happened in figure skating and I mean you know we have like Ralph Lauren designing Olympic apparel. But maybe it’s just getting a young, up and coming designer. I’m like on this Project Runway wave in my mind right now where I’m just like it doesn’t have to be ornate. I don’t want a lantern on my shoulder or anything. I don’t it doesn’t have to have tiny fashionable hat with the bird cage thing over it. But just a leotard that you would be like dang that looks good and it makes what she’s doing look even better. Where is that? Can that happen? That could happen right?


JESSICA: It could so so so happen. It could definitely happen.


EVAN: I hope so. It’s one of my hopes for tomorrow. A brighter tomorrow. The next thing, I mean we have the rankings. So the numbers don’t lie. Florida’s on top. Oklahoma, LSU, Utah, Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, Michigan, UCLA, and Stanford. Just outside the top 10 is my girlfriend and everyone’s because she does the best gymnastics in the NCAA arguably, Katherine Grable and Arkansas are number 11.


JESSICA: Katherine Grable. She’s what’s up. That’s all there is to it.


EVAN: She’s what’s up in 11th right now, but they’ll rebound toward the end of the season. You know I feel like we’re kind of getting into that area of the season where things just you know you kind of hit that lull and honestly as an athlete who kind of experienced that whole training, you really do hit this lull. Then you need an injection of adrenaline into your aorta and just boom it’s March. So February’s a tough month everyone. It’s not like it’s the first meet, it’s the second meet. It’s like the sixth meet. And you kind of hit a lull.


JESSICA: It’s the 12th man time. This is the important time where you as a fan need to scream your freaking head off for your athletes because they so need you. Because all they want to do right now is take a nap. Instead they have to do a whole entire routine.


EVAN: And it’s also the time in the season where we’re either going to see the upgrades or we’re not going to see the upgrades. So all that cool ass stuff, I had to edit myself so much in that sentence, all of that stuff that you saw in those preseason videos on YouTube that got you so hyped up, if that’s not happening in practice in the next two weeks, it’s probably not going to happen. That makes me so sad. But also so excited to see who kind of steps up to the plate and what we’re going to see.


JESSICA: I agree. And we saw some of that this weekend. We saw some full ins on floor from Andy Sipra UCLA. Who else did we- oh can I just go back. I hate to interrupt your flow for a minute. But in terms of being robbed, here’s what’s up. Sam Peszek needs a 10 on beam. Period. I don’t know why she hasn’t had a 10 before. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why she didn’t get a 10 last weekend. It makes me furious. I don’t know what else she has to do. Her routine is so easy and so flawless and so effortless for her that she could be talking on the phone, having a news conference, writing a paper, and like solving the world’s problems.


EVAN: Hosting her weekly show


JESSICA: While she’s doing that routine. That’s how perfect it is. So robbed. That’s all I’m saying. Ok carry on.


EVAN: Well she’s also I mean Peszek Moments Figurines are going to be sold in Home Good stores across the nation pretty soon. So as far as I’m concerned, she’s one of the, she really could get a 10 I think she could get a 10-


JESSICA: On everything

EVAN: On, yeah


JESSICA: I agree. She could be a 40.


EVAN: So speaking of weekly shows, there’s a lot of these now. Gymnastics is branching out. We’re getting more forward thinking in this digital age. So Georgia has the Georgia Gym Dawgs show which is about 20 minutes each week, they have episodes. Look at those.


JESSICA: It’s like a full TV show. It could be on HGTV or something.


EVAN: Right


JESSICA: Like Lifetime, it could be one of those.


EVAN: I don’t know


JESSICA: E? Could it be on E?


EVAN: UCLA, as we mentioned, Sam Peszek, I think she, from what I’ve caught, she’s like I’m Britney Spears and you’re Beyonce and you can share Beyonce but I’m still always Britney Spears. That’s like a lot of what she talks about but she always just has a really friendly banter because they’re teammates, they’re just chatting it up. So I like that. Michigan has a podcast. I think theirs is called The All Around and they talk to different athletes each week. Alabama is another one. Theirs probably could be on E. Sarah Patterson probably has a little studio actually in Hollywood. She’s like, we’ll just go there with our young ladies and film this.


JESSICA: It looks like a freaking ESPN studio except it’s like reddish pink. The whole thing.


EVAN: Alabama’s such a great story because I mean that’s like been built. It’s the stuff of gymnastics stories and there are so many great programs like that. But you look at so many other programs and it’s like do you have your TV show yet? No you don’t because you haven’t worked 30-plus years to build what we have here at Alabama. So props to that. And then, did you want to talk about judging?


JESSICA: Yes! And I found this shocking. And maybe I’m the last person on earth to know this, but I just assumed, like this is me in my little world where there’s justice for all and everything is perfect and equal. So I just assumed that NCAA sets the prices for how much people get paid for judging, referees in all sports. I just assumed that’s how it is. There’s a union and they set the price and everyone agrees on it. No no. Totally wrong. Couldn’t be further from the truth. The judges get paid different amounts depending on the school, which i think is nuts right? So they get paid between 90 dollars and 275 dollars per meet. Of course they get travel and all that stuff and hotel and all that paid for. But that’s a huge difference and of course you have to go where you’re assigned and you can’t say no so it’s not like they’re picking where they want to go but I just feel like this opens up a lot of, this opens up the whole question of certain divisions or areas like certain conferences getting favoritism because the judges get paid way more there. So in the SEC, if they’re getting paid 275 dollars a meet as opposed to when they go to the Eagle Conference or wherever in the northeast that pays the least. I don’t know. What do you think about that? I don’t think the judges are doing this but I think it’s a real problem.


EVAN: So unfortunately I respectfully disagree. If you want to trace anything back, I think it can be attributed to money. Unfortunately, the judges I feel like, your perspective is totally valid because judges are essentially being paid to be completely neutral in this subjective environment. But you can also attribute it to what if the school doesn’t have that much money and they keep the arena at a different temperature and you’re baking or you’re frozen. That’s also going to affect the performances. While it doesn’t necessarily affect the outcome like the judges might, I do think there are some instances where almost everything can be brought back to money. Do you see that? Do you see that side of it? A really nice arena, you’re creating a better experience. Your fans are going to be louder, more encouraging to you. I think there are more connections to be seen here.


JESSICA: Yeah I see it. I mean it is what it is.


EVAN: Say no. You say no.


JESSICA: I think if you want to get rid of all the criticisms about judging, you want to start with making things even across the board. And paying judges would be the most obvious and simple place to start. So if its set at 150, the rich schools need to subsidize the lower schools who can’t pay the 275. Like that’s how it should work. That’s how the NFL does it. They all subsidize each other. It’s a super commie socialist system and it works. They’re bazillionaires so that’s what we should do. So let’s talk about some insane skills that we have seen since the last episode. I didn’t even know this was humanly possible. Maybe in cliff diving but not in gymnastics. Kristof Willerton, he is doing a triple layout, three layouts with three twists. Triple twisting triple layout.


EVAN: Dumb. In a good way.

JESSICA: The one thing I did love about this video is that the mats that they land on are black on the sides and then they have a red strip down the middle which I think is a very nice safety feature for someone who’s insane enough and talented enough to be doing a triple twisting triple layout. Insane.


EVAN: So here’s the thing about the video. You’re like okay this is pretty normal. Like obviously, he’s a tumbler and his technique is just pristine for you to even get to a point where you can even get to a point to attempt this skill. But like all of a sudden, he just does another full flip at the end. And I’m like wait. There’s another flip. So yeah my mind exploded with that. It was also executed very well.


JESSICA: Yeah it’s gorgeous. I mean I was totally shocked at how well he did it. Let’s talk about Mykayla Skinner. She got a 10 at a JO meet, so not an elite meet. She vaulted a Cheng. It was very nicely done. But there was one major thing missing which would be the other arm that needed to touch the vault. So she once again did her Cheng with one arm. Like I don’t think her arm is even close to touching anymore, like a finger, it’s not even. I watched it about a million times. So the vault was beautiful but I believe it should be given a zero and not a 10 because you are not allowed to vault with one arm and I think it’s super dangerous to vault this way. What are your thoughts?


EVAN: I always see it and I’m like just one arm, one arm. One hand. Just one. Just one other time, I want her to put that other effing hand on the vault so we can see what happens when she does it accurately. I think that it takes almost an exorbitant amount of more skill and decided effort to do it the way she’s doing. Obviously she’s found a way to do it very consistently. And like you said, it looks pretty nice. But aesthetically, I just don’t like the rise of the vault. Her landing position is pretty good but it just doesn’t look like a Cheng as it started. And I don’t think her technique is better than that of the vault’s namesake so I can’t really give her too many props. Although I know for sure I would definitely never even know how to go about doing what she’s doing there so props for that. But no, no thanks.


JESSICA: The thing that frustrates so many gymnastics fans is that think about if she did this all with proper technique, she could be one of the greatest vaulters ever. She could go higher than McKayla Maroney. She could have more distance than Alicia Sacramone. In our dreams, if she wanted to do it and put the effort to do it with correct technique, it could be spectacular but right now it’s just really frustrating. And it’s going to really suck if she ever got sent to an international meet and it’s a zero on her vault. But I’m sure that won’t happen. So in other news. I’m just going to say it. It’s not. Who would ever risk that? So Elite Canada this weekend. Twitter sensation Victoria Moors added a full in to her balance beam repertoire. She also did a hilarious spinning fall off the beam. She did the squatty turn and sort of spun on her butt and fell off the side. It was awesome. And she gets back up and is like hmmm now I’ll do a full in off beam because I’m awesome. So we love her. So she won Elite Canada and then Aleeza Yu, a newcomer placed second. Ellie Black, well known is in third and then Meagan Chant was fourth. So always adding Victoria Moors, it’s very exciting. And did you even think that was possible like the guy who did the triple twisting triple layout? Kennedy Baker did a quintuple wolf spin on beam. She’s just


EVAN: Kennedy!


JESSICA: I hope she does that with her Patterson on beam and wins NCAA finals. Just to be like *grunts* that’s right. What’s up now? Did you see the the videos from the Ranch? Did you watch some of them?


EVAN: I did yeah.


JESSICA: And did you see Norah Flatley?


EVAN: I did. That little front tumbling connection girl.


JESSICA: I feel like Norah Flatley is every gymnast I’ve ever loved reincarnated into one human.


EVAN: I feel like her dad might be Michael Flatley from Riverdance and I would like her even more. But he’s not. But if he is, I could be convinced to like her even more than I already do.


JESSICA: She should add some Irish dance into her


EVAN: Right, which is why I feel like he’s not her dad. We’ll see.


JESSICA: Did you watch the Gabby movie?


EVAN: I didn’t.


JESSICA: Fired, you’re fired. That’s it. Done.


EVAN: I know. It was my birthday so I know that Lifetime tried to give me that gift. It was everything that I asked for. But I haven’t yet. But that’s why movies are there so you can just watch them in the future. So what did you think of it?


JESSICA: Well first of all I have a very important correction to make because a whole bunch of news outlets were reporting that Gabby did the stunts in the movie so we reported it on the show and it turns out she did no stunts for the movie. None. So I feel like that was a rumor started to get people excited about the movie somewhere. Or some genius at Lifetime was like hey let’s just throw that out there. But in fact, she did none of the stunts.


EVAN: It was probably that Abby Lee Miller.


JESSICA: Yeah so Spanny did an excellent recap of all of this. I know some people were like oh there’s no way that Chow just walks into the room and says hey kids who can do an Amanar? Okay Gabby you go first after you’ve been sitting listening to a lecture for 20 minutes. Of course we know that doesn’t happen. So there’s going to be little things like that that aren’t true to life and gymnastics. But come on people. This was like a super positive movie. It was a great message. There was great gymnastics. They used real footage from NBC. It was super uplifting and it made me cry twice which is like


EVAN: Not that hard.


JESSICA: Exactly it’s really not that hard. But I wasn’t expecting to cry which is different. So I really liked and I think it’s one of the best gymnastics movies besides the OG Nadia movie when they were little kids and Bela goes to look for them in the pit and they’ve all been stolen and taken to Onesti I think. Besides that one, I think it’s one of the best gymnastics movies that’s a biography type of movie. Because obviously we know that Stick It is you know the greatest ever. So I will be looking forward to hearing your thoughts after you finally watch it, even though it was your birthday and you went on vacation and pssh none of that matters. Did you see what was on Louis Smith’s Instagram? Now we’re getting to the Valentine’s Day part of the show.


EVAN: I did not but I bet you did.


JESSICA: Oh my God, so apparently he tans. First of all, who knew? Like what? Why does he tan? But I feel like everyone in all of Europe tans, like unless they’re from Italy or Slovenia. They all tan. But he gets spray tans so that’s good. He’s not giving himself skin cancer. He posted pictures of himself in this little, it looks like a fig leaf with strings on the side so you can get tan everywhere. So he posted two pictures of himself with that on. And Happy Valentine’s Day to us. That’s what I have to say about that. Thank you Louis Smith. Everyone, please follow him if you’re not already because he will make your day on a regular basis. Now as we get into these Valentine’s Day messages, I want to let you guys know that Mr. Owen Field at Nebraska, one of our favorite jeans wearing coaches, he heard our cries for his hot pants and wore his legendary red pants to the last Nebraska meet so we want to thank you sir for your service to the gymternet and hats off to you Owen Field. He’s a joy. Great team, great coach. What can I say? So Evan on the show in the past, we’ve talked about our Valentine’s Day gymnastics related stories. We’ve shared a few. Do you have any romantic or otherwise Valentine’s Day gymnastics related stories to share with us?


EVAN: Ummmm no I can’t. I can’t.


JESSICA: So Evan is a gentleman. But I am not. So I will just say I don’t have good gymnastic, I think I told my gymnastics related hook up story last year so this year I will just say that traveling as an athlete is one of the best things ever and wrestling nationals were always in Vegas and they were fantastic. A good time was had by all. A very very very good time. You can just fill in the blanks.


EVAN: Literally like the national wrestling orgy championships, because you’re like literally everyone was having a good time with everyone.


JESSICA: Pretty much.


EVAN: It was like one room with soft matting.


JESSICA: Pretty much with a million hotel rooms in one city. Yes it’s a great great great event and everyone should go. So let’s get to the non romantic Valentine’s Day stories that we asked you guys to send in. We have a really great one. So you know, Valentine’s Day can be a romantic love or it can just be an appreciation for someone, just like someone you really love and made a difference in your life and we wanted to give you guys an opportunity to give a shout out to one of those people, especially if it was a coach in your life. So we got a letter and this letter says: Dear Gymcastic, please give a shout out to Woody and Mary Clifton for accepting me on to their team at age 33. Woody always called me Kid and said the only thing that fans your fire is negative reinforcement. Tell me I can’t and I will. I became state champion on three of four events at age 34 competing against girls 16 years and up because of my training from Woody and Mary Clifton. Thanks for allowing me to share this. Sincerely, Lori Gallis. How freaking cool is that?


EVAN: You go Lori! You go all over town and you just do early mid thirties gymnastics. I am in awe of you. But legitimately that is something that even at late mid twenties now, I can’t even imagine doing that, so I like that. And she’s giving credit where credit is due. I’m not saying that her effort isn’t worth it but I think that coaches so often go underappreciated when they really should be over appreciated. So thank you to all my coaches, High Flyers Educational Gymnastics Center in Brighton, Michigan and Greater Kalamazoo Gymnastics for a while and of course The University of Michigan, so everyone there who’s ever helped me.


JESSICA: Before we bring your our Valentine’s Day story from goddess Svetlana Boginskaya, Evan can you tell people how they can support the show?


EVAN: So you can support the show in a variety of ways. You can yell at your computer screen like Svetlana Khorkina in 2000 and just force your iTunes by pressuring it. You can download our podcast there. You can download the Stitcher app to listen or you can check out the email option via our website and support the show. Because we love support. You’re like our bra, or bro.


JESSICA: Or dance belt.


EVAN: Right, a lot of support is needed in a lot of areas. You can also shop in our Amazon store. We’re probably going to need to start selling intimate apparel now that that’s been spoken into existence. Remember as long as you start through the Amazon link that we provide on the website, a little portion of what you buy goes back to the show and helps us live on to come back to you next week. If you want to skip the hassle of shopping though, which you know, I don’t want to say sometimes you just want to give


JESSICA: Yes, yes. Sometimes you do. Sometimes you don’t want to be the receiver. You just want to give.


EVAN: Sometimes you just want to give. There’s a donation button on the about page. So you go do that.


JESSICA: So I have to give a shout out to Mary, one of our listeners. She decided that she wanted to donate to us regularly, so she set up a monthly donation on PayPal. So she donates ten dollars a month to the show. How freaking awesome is that? I was like what?! It’s just so nice and thoughtful and I just want to give her a special thanks. Sidebar: why don’t male gymnasts need a dance belt, jock strap? Like why do they need it in other sports? Is it because you don’t have things hurling at your nethers? But you do? Please explain.


EVAN: I’ve never worn a dance belt so I don’t know why you do need it. I mean in gymnastics, I don’t think it’s uncommon for people to wear like underwear and your step in body suit and then usually pants or shorts or some type of shorts and pants together


JESSICA: So like three layers


EVAN: Right so there’s a good amount of support there. You’re just like I’m wearing boxers today. This is going to go great. You choose a cut and a style that accommodates movement and support.


JESSICA: I just had the most horrific horrific mental image of boxers and pommel horse. No, no, no. That is not good. That could be bad. Getting back on track now that we’ve solved that mystery. So you can contact us on the show. Tell us what you think. Tell us what you want us to talk about. Tell us what routines you want us to review and discuss. Tell us what you thought should have received a ten, what was robbed in NCAA. You can contact us by leaving us a voicemail at 415-800-3191 or you can call us on Skype and leave us a voicemail there, user name is Gymcastic Podcast. Email us at Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. You can message us there. And of course we have for your viewing pleasure, a video playlist so you can watch the routines we are talking about and follow along as you listen to the show.


[Sound Byte]


JESSICA: You know that I met my super hot, smart, gorgeous, driven and sexy husband through wrestling right? Since this is our Valentine’s Day show, I should tell you one of the most romantic gifts he ever got me, besides my floor routine of course. I came home one day, flipped on the lights and there in the middle of the living room floor was an eight foot long balance beam with a bow on top. It wasn’t just any floor beam. It was a sectional beam, two parts connected by a velcro under the base. Easy to detach and hide under the bed when company comes over. The top is the same width and the covering is the traditional beam, just firm enough to hold a tight handstand but forgiving enough to try new acro skills without bruising your feet. If you are intrigued and want to know more about this romantic sectional beam, you can check it out at Tumbl Trak. That’s TumblTrak. Do it again.  


And finally, here is the recording I’ve been waiting forever to bring to you guys. This is Svetlana Boginskaya talking to us last summer about her love story and how she met her husband and how she got engaged. Her husband’s name is William Guy and he will tell you his side of their love story after her interview. And pay attention you guys. When you’re looking for a man, it’s what he does, not what he says that matter. So pay attention to the things he does for Svetlana. And also one of the things I had to cut from the interview just for time’s sake was that he picked her up from the airport and would take care of her mail and stuff while she was traveling. That’s a good man right there, willing to do the non glamorous dirty work for you while you’re traveling around the world following your passion, so I hope you guys enjoy it.


[Sound Byte]


UNCLE TIM: And while we’re on the topic of children, one of our listeners, Jay, he wants to know how you met your husband. Will you tell us the love story?


SVETLANA: Ooh the love story. Well my love story is very interesting. It was the beginning the middle and the end. Which part would you like me to tell you?


UNCLE TIM: Um let’s do the beginning.


SVETLANA: Okay, okay. I met him at my neighbor that I had across in my luxury apartment complex where I used to live. I had a next door neighbor who used to work for an oil firm and my husband and my neighbor were best friends. And my husband and my neighbor would stop by to work out after work in our luxurious apartment complex. So I asked my neighbor to introduce me to him. And he said Svetlana, I’m going to tell you something. You’re not his type. Now once again, once isn’t always enough. I said is he dating anybody at the moment. He said no. Knowing me, I wouldn’t give up so I said introduce us. He said okay I will, but remember you’re not his type. For a regular person, I am sure. And I had very short blonde hair at the time. And my neighbor mentioned to me that’s dated only 5’10 Hispanic girls with long dark hair down to their waist. So that’s how I met my husband. And that’s what I found out about him. Maybe it was just a challenge to prove myself. I had to be extra nice when I met William, my husband. So that’s how we met, through our neighbor. We got introduced and after three months, he proposed to me on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. And I asked him, do I have to say yes and he said you do have to say yes because it’s the Eiffel Tower and if you say no, I might gently push you down. So I had to say yes. I said yes.






UNCLE TIM:  It sounds like you two have similar senses of humor.


SVETLANA: I know. We have to. Anybody to put up with me has to have a sense of humor.


[Sound Byte]


JESSICA: Yes the very beginning. How did you first meet? What did you think when you first saw her?


WILLIAM: (laughs) Well here’s the thing okay. She used to live next to a friend of mine right. I went out with my friend to this place called Cute Cafe. We ran into here there. She was dancing with some girlfriends. That’s when I really saw her but I didn’t really think much you know. I was just like oh she’s nice looking. She was in very good shape. You know what I’m saying?




WILLIAM: So I actually say hello to her, you know how are you doing? And my friend goes oh well that’s my neighbor. I was like oh okay. I had no clue, well I knew what gymnastics is but I had no clue of anything.


JESSICA: You didn’t know who she was or anything like that.


WILLIAM: My friend told me, she’s an Olympic gymnast. Me, I could really not much care less. I would go to my friend’s house, I would knock on the door and she’s literally across the hall. So whenever I would knock on the door, she would open it and say hey how are you doing? And that’s it. My friend arranged us to go out like a group. And we went over to this place called [unclear] where they have live Latin dancing and she jumps in the front and she pays for everybody’s cover. So that was nice. And we were just standing there and just talking and somebody recognizes her and sends her some flowers. And then she leaves I guess to thank the guy or whatever and I was just standing there and I was like well I really don’t have much interest so I’m just going to leave. So I left and on the way home, she calls me. She’s like oh I’m sorry. So I say well you wanna go somewhere tomorrow night or Friday and she goes no, how about Saturday. I said okay, well we’ll go on Saturday. Years later, I find out that she had a date on Friday night with the guy that sent her the flowers.


JESSICA: Classic. Of course she did.


WILLIAM: It just kind of slipped out. So that’s what you were doing Friday when you wouldn’t go out with me.


JESSICA: So did you slowly start to realize who she was and how popular she was?


WILLIAM: Yes and no. I’m not terribly starstruck with people, you know when you meet famous people. I knew who she was then. I wasn’t really going out with her because of who she was. She was just a really unique person who I really liked the way she was. It was April 20 of 1998. We went out that Saturday. I had to meet some friends for a birthday party. We went out and met from there and basically, what we call our first date, we went to downtown Houston. That night’s kind of a blur. I take her home. I’m pretty drunk so I’m not driving home. I say I’m going to sleep here on the couch. And she says oh no. She kicks me out. I don’t even know how I made it home.


JESSICA: And then what happened?


WILLIAM: I like to cook so I made her all these like lobster with rice and things like that. Everytime she would leave, she’d be like can you pick up my mail?


JESSICA: So when did you know that she was the one?


WILLIAM: Oh I think after the first date. But it wasn’t because of who she is. It was just because she’s a very unique person. After that, she was in and out of summer camps. She sent me some flowers. I was like oh okay. This is the one. I have the flowers somewhere, but I don’t know where it is.


JESSICA: You saved them? That’s so romantic!


WILLIAM: Oh yeah I have a little book that shows like the first movie we watched. I have the menu from our first date, that kind of thing. It’s kind of cool.


JESSICA: Oh that’s awesome. So what advice do you have for someone that’s in a relationship with an athlete or even someone that’s super passionate like your wife?


WILLIAM: Well just know that’s their life and that’s what they like to do and they really can’t do anything else. Once they do that, that’s basically what they live for. My wife wakes up and she starts looking at gymnastics things and calling her gymnastics friends and doing this and that. They have no concept of anything else really. It’s what they live for. Other than that, just patience. There are some that, some of her friends that when they’re done they don’t really want to do anything. They don’t want to have to do anything with it. But just so they know, this is what they love to do.


[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 using the code Gymcast.


Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone. We will see you next week. Until then, I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics


EVAN: And I’m Evan. Find me on Twitter @yoev. Mwah.


JESSICA: See you guys next week.



[expand title=”Episode 77: Aly Raisman”]

ALY: I speak on behalf of all the girls when I say we are more nervous to go to training camps than we are to compete at the Olympics. It’s more intimidating, training camps, than actually competing.




JESSICA: This week, Aly Raisman updates us on everything from quad twisting fulls to why Mihai sometimes calls her chicken.


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 77 for February 19, 2014. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics

BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner


JESSICA: And this is the best gymnastics podcast on the planet, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. We’re changing things up today. We’re going to first talk to Aly Raisman in this episode. I’m going to ask her some of your questions and Blythe will interview her. Then in the second episode later this week, we’re going to give a preview of the Winter Cup which happens this week in Vegas. We’re going to talk about the poor guy from Air Force whose pants fell down while he was doing rings. We’re going to answer your letters and questions. We talk about the receipt system they’re using in the UK. Oh my god my dream come true. And we’ll talk about the epic battle at Metroplex that happened between LSU and Oklahoma. And of course we’ll discuss all the news that’s fit to gym nerd out about. Until then enjoy the interview with Aly. And remember you can support the show by shopping in our Amazon store. You can review us, write a review on iTunes or Stitcher. You can skip the hassle of shopping on our Amazon button by just donating directly if you want to. You can leave us a message or email us. Our number is 415-800-3191. We’re also on Skype, the username is GymCastic Podcast. And every single week we put up little clips on Instagram so you can check those out. There’s a video of the guy from Air Force who lost his pants this week. And of course there’s always transcripts on our site and more info there. I’ll see you guys later this week with Uncle Tim and Evan Heiter. Until then, enjoy the interview with Aly.




BLYTHE: This interview with two time Olympic champion Aly Raisman is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. In honor of Aly’s discussion of her improved flexibility and toe point in today’s interview, I’d like to suggest checking out Tumbl Trak’s sliders. Sliders are similar to slippery furniture movers. These are nine inch long pads which are slippery on the bottom and have comfortable padded anti slip surface on top. They can be used on carpet and are great for conditioning as well as flexibility training. I find these especially useful for working on the dreaded straddle split. I put one slider on each foot and with these tools I can’t cheat no matter how much I want to. My feet slide out as far as they can no matter what. Sliders allow me to keep up my flexibility and prevent injury as I get older. Use sliders for lunges, core strengthening shaping exercises, and valuable tumbling drills like needle kicks and aerials. Check the out at Tumbl Trak. That’s Tumbl Trak, do it again.




BLYTHE: 2012 double Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman needs little introduction, but we’ll do one anyway. Two years ago in London, Raisman clinched the Fierce Five gold medal run with a lights out floor routine and closed out her Olympics with a second spectacular floor set, winning gold medal on her best event. With her two golds plus bronze on balance beam, Raisman was the most decorated American gymnast in London. However, she might’ve had one more medal, but Olympic tie break rules left her fourth in the women’s all around final when she and Aliya Mustafina tallied the same score over the four events. That’s part of the reason why Raisman is back in the gym and hungry for new accomplishments in the sport. Aly, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show and thank you for being here today. So my first question is so we haven’t seen you around that much since the Antwerp World Championships. And it was great to catch up with you there. But I know one thing people are going to want to know right off the bat is how are you doing right now, how’s training going, and you said in Antwerp that hopefully you might be back by Classics, Nationals, is that still the plan?


ALY: Yes it is still the plan. Training’s been going great. I practiced this morning then I’m going again tonight. So I feel really really good. And it’s been really exciting to be watching the Olympics at the same time, getting back into the gym, because it’s such great motivation. But I love gymnastics. I look forward to going to gym every day. So I’ve been really really happy and I kind of feel like a little kid again in the gym. So it’s been great.


BLYTHE: It’s not been hard at all to go back to that tough training schedule after being able to take some really deserved time off?


ALY: Definitely has been hard. But I think for me just the hardest thing is practicing so many hours a week getting used to doing all those hours again. For me doing the skills that I haven’t done since the Olympics, it’s a little bit scary but everything feels the same. And some things feel a little bit even better because I had a lot of time off and I learned so much over the past year. But it’s definitely just more I’m exhausted all the time but it’s a good exhausting. I feel really it’s like you have that feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day, so I’m really happy.


BLYTHE: Understood. And I read an interview with you kind of recently where you said some of your skills came back easily and others were a little harder to get back. And please go ahead and gym nerd out with us. We really want to know what was easy, like specifically, and what’s taken longer?


ALY: Well, I think it’s actually kind of funny because the first few weeks going back up on the high beam it was like a lot more scary than I could’ve imagined. Because beam is one of my favorite events. But after taking a year up, going back up on the high beam and doing simple things, like doing jumps and front tucks and back handsprings, stuff that used to be easy, it was a little scary for me. I forgot how narrow and high it was. But now that I’m, now it feels old. I still don’t have of course fully all my skills back because I have to make sure I get all my strength and everything back. But my tumbling on floor I think has been the easiest to get back. There are still twisting and stuff is harder but the flipping stuff has been easier for me.


BLYTHE: Did you really take a year where you didn’t go into the gym at all? Or were you doing just a little on the side? How was that arranged for you?


ALY: I was working out. I worked out as much as I could a couple times a week. But I was literally traveling so so much it was crazy. I was like in a different state every single day. With the long flights I tried to get in as much as I could but sometimes those hotel gyms, it’s nothing like actually training. Those six or seven hours of training I was used to. So it was definitely different but at the same time it was a little bit nice to have a break. And I have to say when I did Dancing with the Stars I gained a ton of flexibility and my toe point got better from wearing those heels. But my feet are so strong I do so many toe rises and so much conditioning by my toe point it [inaudible].


BLYTHE: How have you adapted to being a little bit older and being an elite gymnast? Has it changed anything, your training regimen?


ALY: I think it’s actually helping. I remember I asked Kyla after she came back the quickest out of all of us and I asked how it was and she said she felt better than she ever felt before. And I kind of agree. I feel like I’m wiser now. I feel more confident. I feel more calm. And I still want it more than ever you know. Just because I did well in London I still have that same drive and I still have that same determination. And I feel, I just feel really good. I feel the most confident I’ve felt in my life. And I just feel really happy and I can look back regardless of what happens and I’m going to give it my all. And I’ll work just as hard as I did before and hope for the best. That’s all I can do, I’m only human.


BLYTHE: Yeah. And so was there any struggle with motivation? I mean you came home from London with two gold medals, and we talked to Nastia a little bit about this as well. When she said gosh I achieved everything I wanted to achieve so where do you go after that. So for you maybe it’s a little different because your Olympic experience in the all around was a little different. But I don’t want to put words in your mouth. So I mean what keeps you going back to the gym every day for all those hours?


ALY: I do think [inaudible] agree it’s never enough. I mean it was so amazing and I was so excited to be able to finally just be able to achieve my lifelong dream with my teammates. That was just so exciting and I would love to be able to share that experience with those girls again. And I guess also you know the all around competition it didn’t go as well as I could’ve hoped for. And I mean of course I wish I could’ve gotten that bronze medal. And they did break the tie and it’s a bummer that gymnastics is the only sport that breaks the tie out of any Olympic sport. But you know I was really happy that at least Gabby won the gold medal. She’s amazing. And it was an awesome day for her. So she deserved it.


BLYTHE: Yeah definitely. What about new skills. Is there anything you would like to learn? Is there anything you’ve always wanted to learn that just didn’t fit in with what you were doing at the time? Can you give us any hints on what we might see from you this year, next year?


ALY: I’m not exactly sure. Mihai and Sylvie my coaches are always thinking of crazy [inaudible]. I remember when they first had the idea to do my first pass on floor. Everyone literally was just laughing and thought it was the craziest idea ever. But they were of course totally serious. So they’re always thinking of new things. But right now I’m really just trying to get back what I had before then hopefully within the next few months I can learn some new stuff. But I guess right now the main focus I’ve been working on is the connections on beam because they changed the rules and you have to really make sure you connect everything super super fast. You can’t just do a front tuck into a back tuck and swing your arms really really slow. It used to be as long as you were constantly moving it was fine. Now they changed that. So it’s a little bit harder because I was used to that. And then you know getting used to new rules on floor how you have to start in the corner on one leg. Then they just changed it you can’t go back and forth. So it’s all these crazy rules I have to get used to. But it’s a fun challenge.


BLYTHE: Yeah. Yeah it’s been a bit puzzling with the new code. I know a lot of fans are going to want to know about your floor routine. And you are getting a new one is that correct?


ALY: Yes I am getting a new one


BLYTHE: Can you tell us about what that’s going to be like? Anything at all. Music, choreography. I think back in October you called it girly if I remember correctly.


ALY: I did find floor music. And I’m going to stay with the folk music because that seemed to work the best for me in the past. [inaudible] different stuff but folk music worked the best and I loved when the crowd clapped along. It makes me happy. And I think the folk music is something that no matter where you are from around the world it’s a song everyone can relate to. And everyone- I kind of want to be if you’re not paying attention you go to meets and you want to look on the floor to see who’s going. So I love folk music but I haven’t gotten my floor routine choreographed yet or anything but I’m really really looking forward to it. And I think it’s Russian music so it should be pretty cool.

BLYTHE: Nice. Are you shopping around for a choreographer?


ALY: No my coach Sylvie does it. She choreographed- she’s always choreographed my routines so she’s going to choreograph this one.


BLYTHE: Oh terrific. One thing I did want to ask you actually was about, I had an Alicia question as a matter of fact. She gave you a lot of advice in the early stages of your career, that’s obvious. And now you’re kind of on the other side of that. You’re the experienced one. And the girls who are going to challenge you for spots on world team, Olympic team, are going to be younger and less experienced. And I was just wondering if you guys had talked about how you’re going to deal with that part of it, doing gymnastics as a woman when many of your competitors are younger and able to do more repetitions.


ALY: Well actually I still pretty much have been doing a lot of the same repetitions as before. But I mean I think honestly as long as I know regardless what happens as long as I know I worked so hard it’s going to be the best girl wins. So I’m always a good sport even if I don’t want- if someone gets a spot over me, the ultimate goal is to get the best girls to represent team USA. And I think what people don’t understand is even though we’re competing for the same spot or competing against each other we are all ultimately a team and that’s always how I thought about it. You can’t win and you can’t do well if you’re not a team and you don’t work together. And I’m looking forward to the next few years and hopefully making a championship team and the next Olympics. But I’m also excited because these younger girls are absolutely amazing. I’m excited to go back to training camp. I’m not sure when I’m going to go next. But just to see them, we take each other to the next level. And we have those once a month. [inaudible] on tour, and they said they all look amazing. So I’m really excited to see what they’ve been up to and work really really hard. So it’s really, it’s a great atmosphere that we have down there.


BLYTHE: Back to the Olympics for a second. Can you talk about the qualification round? And you really had the four events of your life. Everything was spot on. And I’ve always wanted to ask you, given that you came in third at Nationals and third at Trials, did you expect to make the all around final when it was two per country that advanced?


ALY: Well actually I’ve always gotten third place at Nationals every single year. So in 2010 I got third at Nationals and I advanced to the all around finals. 2011 I got third at Nationals and advanced to the all around finals. So of course I was hoping and it wasn’t something that was like, it wasn’t out of the question for me but I knew that Gabby and Jordyn were extremely prepared and they were the favorites going in. So it was going to be really difficult. But I kind of just honestly I had no idea. I wasn’t looking at the scores or anything. I’m not someone who likes to watch scores. I just kind of like to take it one event and one step at a time so I just remember I was nervous to do my floor routine last because I, the last event, because I just wanted to make sure I made floor finals. So, I think for me it was like I just tried not to think about it so much. And I was hoping that if I did a good meet it would be good enough. But I don’t know it was just kind of so crazy that day. It was like in the blink of an eye everything happened.


BLYTHE: Yeah, it was crazy. And that bar routine especially really have to hand it to you. It was, I thought, the best that you had ever done it.

ALY: Oh thank you. Thank you so much.

BLYTHE: Did you have any inkling after that? Or was it just you were totally focused on floor and kind of going through the other events and thinking about floor? Even if you weren’t looking at the scoreboards, did you have any idea like hey things are going pretty well today?

ALY: I to be honest with you I’m not even that sure. I just remember my goal going in, it was to make all around finals. It was to make beam and floor finals. And I was hoping that. But I knew that also it’s just for Martha it’s so important for all of us to be really consistent. So I just wanted to show everyone and have all the girls I wanted all of us to hit all of our events to show that we were really prepared and really strong. But it’s crazy. I mean I never, it was just like a dream come true. I never would’ve imagined it. It was better than I expected.


BLYTHE: Speaking of Martha, the media kind of likes to make Martha out as a fearsome figure. And when you’re 13, 14, and you start going to these camps, how do you perceive Martha as a young gymnast? Is she scary?


ALY: I think every single gymnast really really respects Martha. I was that kid, I watched the ‘96 Olympics over and over and over again. So I remember watching Martha and Bela on TV all the time. To be able to be actually coached by Martha and Bela comes into the gym every now and then, it’s so exciting and it never gets old. It’s so cool and so surreal, sometimes you just have to sit there and really take in that you’re training at the national team training center. It’s really, it’s quite amazing to think about it. I love Martha. She’s amazing. She’s always so caring to all of us. She always has our best interests and she’s amazing, the way that she prepares us for every single competition. I speak on behalf of all the girls when I say we are more nervous to go to training camp than we are to compete at the Olympics. It’s more intimidating at training camps than actually like competing and so that has helped us so much. And I think that’s why the US girls are very consistent when they compete. It’s because Martha is just so good at what she does. She always has us practice our pressure sets. We always have to compete in front of her, at least one routine on an event every single day so you feel really confident and you feel really ready by the time the meet comes.


BLYTHE: That’s a tough question. When did you see that video of your parents watching your bar routine in the prelims?


ALY: I think I actually saw it that day. Someone showed it to me and I think it was just like everywhere. I didn’t really go on the internet or anything. I’m so glad. I didn’t realize how big the Olympics were. I guess I just didn’t really want to really realize that, so I’m glad that none of us were really searching ourselves on the internet or something. We really just stayed kind of to ourselves. We were kind of like closed off which was good. But I had no idea that it went so viral. And it’s so funny now to be watching the NBC coverage and to see the commercial. I saw it today and yesterday. It’s crazy. I was saying to my mom, I started crying. I would never imagine that one day my bar routine would be in a commercial. I mean who would have thought? Just thinking of all the hard days I had on bars and how much it was just like a hard event for me. I was so afraid of it. So to think a few years later, it’s crazy. But my parents look absolutely psycho in it but I promise they’re very supportive and awesome. They were more nervous than I was.


BLYTHE: I thought it was a very sweet video. I think most people did. Okay so here’s the one question that maybe you don’t want to answer. And you are under no obligation to answer this. But the night of Olympic prelims, because you were rooming with Jordyn in the Olympic village, how did you guys deal with that? After you’d done the media thing, you’d been in the mixed zone, you’d gotten through, you’d given your interviews, what happened?


ALY: Well I just remember, after prelims, when we got back, we all just went into, we got to go into a different training room. We all went there together. We were all just playing around and laughing. Me and Jordyn are best friends and I think she’s the most amazing friend in the world. She was so supportive and so amazing and so nice. And I feel like she handled it better than anyone else in the world could. And I remember when Gabby won, she was the first person to stand up and cheer for her. Jordyn is the most amazing person. I can’t thank her enough for how much of a good sport she was for it. I wish that all five of us could have competed in the all around. I think that the rules are unfair. I think the two per country rule is so tough. It’s so hard to make the top two. It’s so crazy. I wish that they would change the rules.


BLYTHE: One thing you’re really noted for for doing well is dealing with pressure. The pressure of being at a world championships, throughout the whole Olympic trials process. I mean there were just no mistakes from you. And in trying to make a comeback, are you feeling pressure now? And if you are, how are you dealing with it?


ALY: Right now, I feel fine. I’m not thinking about competing right this second. I’m just really trying to take every day one day at a time. I feel really lucky that I have such great coaches and I really have good communication with my two coaches which is really important. I’m always telling them if I feel tired or if something’s a little bit sore, just because I took so much time off. You know, the first few months when you’re back, you can’t go full . I can’t just walk in and start doing my floor routine. It takes months and months and months. So I’m just trying to make sure I get a lot of repetition. Right now, I’m just doing skills separately, just trying to make sure that I have that consistency.  But I’m confident that if I work as hard as I did before, that hopefully I can compete the same, just trusting my coaches and myself.


BLYTHE: How’s Mihai doing? Has your coach athlete relationship changed at all?


ALY: Mihai’s awesome. It’s gotten better if anything. I feel so lucky that I have such a great relationship with both my coaches. Sylvie and I were extremely close too. We always were talking about clothes and fashion. And Sylvie’s so funny. She loves to go shopping. I don’t really go shopping that much because I like to just rest especially when I’m training so much. I’d rather just relax. But if I ever go out and I see something, I always send her pictures and we’re always texting each other on the weekends of things that we like or things that we see online and stuff. So I feel really lucky that I’m able to, I can literally tell them anything. Mihai’s so funny. He always asks me if I have a professional hockey or football boyfriend yet. I’m like nope. No, Mihai. Thanks for asking me every day though.


BLYTHE: Not yet.


ALY: Hopefully.


BLYTHE: So what are you studying? You’re still at Babson College, is that correct?


ALY: Yes. I’m taking an English class there right now on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. And it’s really close to my house so I got lucky there. It’s a great school and I’m excited. It’s good to have a balance and make sure that I’m able to do school at the same time because I love school. I love learning and it’s also nice just to make new friends. I love making new friends and talking and having a good balance between gym and school.


BLYTHE: We ask all the Olympians who come on the show this. So partying in the Olympic village, does it happen? Did you see any of it? Did you do any of it?


ALY: Everyone always asks me that. People don’t realize how innocent the gymnasts are. I can’t even tell you how innocent the five of us were in London. I think I am pretty innocent, all of us. I honestly didn’t see any of it. We went to the closing ceremonies and that was just like a huge concert. It was really fun but honestly, our idea of fun was just hanging out with each other. I was on like cloud nine for three months after the Olympics because I just felt I had 200 pounds lifted off my shoulders. I felt so relaxed and so calm. So I honestly didn’t see any of that but I hear it’s a thing so I’m not really sure.


BLYTHE: Maybe next time?


ALY: I’m not really much of a partier to be honest with you. It’s not really my, I just like hanging out. I’d rather go to bed early and have like a cup of tea. I’m like an old lady.


BLYTHE: Awesome. Well we have some listener questions for Aly.


JESSICA: Yes we do. Okay so the number one thing that everyone wanted to know is are you working on any new skills or has there ever been a skill that you are working on that no one knows about that you never got to put in a routine but it was like a fantasy skill that you were working on in the background?


ALY: Let me think. I am working on a few new skills and a few new connections on beam but I’m very very secretive about what I’m working on because I just feel like I’m going to jinx it or something. On floor, pretty much right now, I’m just working on getting everything that I have back. I think I’m getting my first pass back on floor is going to take quite some time. It’s just basically right now making sure I do a ton of conditioning and really working on all of those connections on beam. But it’s fun to try and learn new skills but it’s also scary learning them.


BLYTHE: I’m so sorry to cut you off. I wanted to ask about your 3.5 twist. You said that back in like 2009 or so, but we never saw it again.


ALY: I know. That’s such a hard skill. I haven’t been working on it but. Mihai’s even had me try quads, I was trying those a little bit in 2012. But I couldn’t finish it all the way around. I thought it was impossible but then some guy at world championships did it. I think he was from Korea or Japan. I don’t remember but he won floor. He was like absolutely amazing. He stuck his last pass. It’s like really hard. You have to get like the perfect block.


BLYTHE: To do it as the last pass too, man.


ALY: It’s crazy. I don’t’ know how he does it. A double pike is my last pass and it’s a struggle for me.


JESSICA: We’re going to have to talk to him and get his secrets and then we will pass them on to you.


ALY: I know! It was so easy for him!


JESSICA: It does. I don’t know. He’s insane. We’re going to talk to him. Speaking of Worlds, and so you totally do not have to answer this but of course a lot of our listeners wanted to know your opinion on the age controversy with some of the Chinese gymnasts like Shang Chunsong, which of course is no reflection on them as gymnasts. They’re just doing their gymnastics. It’s the way that, some Communist countries work that way. Do you have thoughts on that?


ALY: I try not to think about it so much. We have to compete against them either way. I hope that they are the right age and I hope that everyone is following the rules. But like you said, it’s not the girl’s fault. They don’t have a choice and they are amazing gymnasts. They’re incredible. They’re unbelievable. I love watching them, especially on bars and beam. They’re so so good. Mihai always uses the Chinese as an example for me on my beam routine in the back handspring layout because they do theirs so beautifully. I learn from them. I think they’re incredible. Like you said, it’s not their fault. If they are the right age, that’s awesome. I hope that they are.


JESSICA: Yeah I hear you. Okay so the other question. This is a delicate one. You do not have to answer this one either. As fans, a lot of our listeners, they want the best. You know, when you love an athlete, we want the best for you. We want to make everything perfect for you. So a lot of our listeners wanted to ask about bars for you. They see the similarity between your bars and like Talia’s bars and Alicia’s bars and anything special you’re working on for bars or if you get extra tutoring at the Ranch when you go for bars. How do you feel about bars?


ALY: I think every gymnast has an event that, you can’t be exactly even on all four events. That’s really really difficult. For me, the way I think about it and the way that Mihai and Sylvie always say is just like I really especially work on the events that I would be used in for team final. So that’s the priority. So for example definitely on floor and beam was the ones that I competed on and hopefully on vault. And bars is an event that hopefully will be used for all around but it’s not like they’re ever going to use me in a team final on bars. So the priority is always team comes first and then I do work on bars. I work on it so much the year of the Olympics. I literally did it twice a day every single day. I was exhausted. I was doing five to eight routines when I used to do three or four a day. So I really gave it my all and I look back and I have absolutely no regrets. I’m so happy and I see the improvement so much. If you watch my bar routine from 2009 just to 2012, it was such a big improvement. I try not to be so hard on myself because I know that you can’t be perfect at everything. I’m really pleased with how I did. I’m happy that at least my floor was good enough and hopefully in the near future I can improve my bars more but I’m doing the best that I can.


JESSICA: I like that you’re defending your bars when you’re fourth place in the all around at the Olympics. No big deal.


ALY: It’s so funny. Sometimes I’ll catch myself when I talk, I’m like, I still had the third highest score in the world and they bumped the tie down to fourth. But either way, 2011 Worlds I was fourth and in 2012 I was fourth. And even though that’s a disappointment, fourth in the world and to be able to stay in the same place every year, it’s good but I don’t always see it like that because I’m a perfectionist. So it’s kind of like a little struggle for me. I try to be positive about it but at the same time it’s still a little bit frustrating.


JESSICA: And that explains why you’re such an incredible gymnast because you’re like fourth in the world, oh no I can do better! So that’s awesome. I think you have a really healthy attitude about it. I think our listeners will be happy to hear that that’s how you see it. So that’s good. One final question. The one thing we’ve talked about is kind of dealing with fear as you’ve come back. And that’s something we’ve asked some other Olympians about. It’s so shocking to us and a lot of our listeners that any of you have any fear. How have you conquered fear in the past and are you using those same techniques now?


ALY: When I was younger, I used to watch the Olympics or baseball or basketball or anything I used to think that if you were a professional athlete and you’re on TV, you were perfect. You never had a bad day. You were never afraid of anything. That’s so not true. I think people would be shocked to see how afraid the five of us were to do so many different things. We were all afraid to do the 2.5 on vault. Except that I don’t think that McKayla was afraid of it because it was so easy for her. She’s so good at it. I just remember that we would all just work together. I always talked to my coaches if I’m afraid to do something. They always helped me or my teammates who cheered each other on. I think that’s why I feel so close to the girls I was on the team at the Olympics. We’re all scared. It’s the Olympics. It’s definitely terrifying to think that you work your whole life for something and it’s finally here. We didn’t take it as we were all competing against each other. We worked together. We all worked as hard as we possibly could and we all pushed each other to the next level in the best way and the healthiest way possible.


[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.


Stay tuned for more  Gymcastic coming up later this week and be on the lookout for live feed from Winter Cup. Crossing our fingers that the wifi in the new venue is fantastic and Scott Bregman can pull it off. So see you guys later this week. Thanks for listening!



[expand title=”Episode 78: A Pantsing Incident”]

EVAN: The biggest thing from this meet was that there was a pantsing incident, like actually pants came off a competitor from Air Force.


[Express Yourself Intro Music plays]


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 77 for February 19, 2014. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.


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


EVAN: And I’m Evan Heiter. Find me on Twitter @yoev.


JESSICA: This is the best gymnastics podcast of all time bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. Let’s start with last week’s Boginskaya interview. Finally you got to hear the love story. We had one comment on our website. Maria left a comment and said “Svetlana Boginskaya’s love story is so sweet. I laughed when William said that she had gone out on a date with another guy. She went out though and she married him.” I liked that part too. What did you guys think?


EVAN: It’s a love story, baby just say yes is what I said. And I said yes. And so did Svetlana. So it worked out great.


JESSICA: There were a couple of parts that I left out. When they got engaged, he had traveled. He wanted to surprise her and flew out there and then she didn’t know what hotel she was staying at so it ended up that he flew to Paris and it took him another 10 hours to get to where she was. Then when he got there, she wasn’t there so he had to wait outside in the rain. It was just like this total comedy of errors. But when they did get engaged in Paris, they walked around the Eiffel Tower at night in the drizzling rain and had crepes with nutella and then he proposed. Very very romantic. So hats off to him. Let’s discuss Winter Cup. It’s coming up. It’s sort of the beginning of the men’s season and it features NCAA gymnasts of course because that’s where we get all of our male gymnasts. And it’s in Vegas which makes it even more exciting because you know how I feel about events held in Vegas. So before we get to that, I just wanted to give you guys a little heads up from Scott Bregman, the director of content and communications at USA Gymnastics and as you know, a fellow gymnerd, hardcore hardcore fellow gymnerd. So he wants to let you guys know to be on the lookout for a live feed Thursday and Saturday. They’re at a new venue though so there’s no guarantees about what’s going to happen necessarily with the internet there. So if anybody knows or are in contact with the person in charge of the department in Las Vegas of the mafia that controls internet bandwidth, give them a heads up.


EVAN: Celine Dion.


UNCLE TIM: And Vice President is Britney Spears.


EVAN: Recent addition.


JESSICA: I totally think it’s always Britney Spears. And then also, Scott just wanted to let you know Uncle Tim that he’s looking forward to seeing you and hopes it’s not awkward now that your feud is over.


UNCLE TIM: Oh it will be. I’m like a Real Housewife. You don’t mess with me.


JESSICA: Okay so let’s talk about Winter Cup. Can you kind of tell everybody what the point of this meet is. It’s sort of like the beginning of nationals. It’s not nationals but it’s the national team. Every year I forget and don’t understand. I need help with it.


UNCLE TIM: So the US men pick a national team twice each year. Once at the Winter Cup and once at the P&G Championships. And if you qualify for the national team at the Winter Cup, you are eligible to compete during the World Cup events held during the winter. And if you qualify for the national team at P&G Championships, you’re eligible for the big show, the World Championships. And so this is the first round. Our first nationals on the men’s side.


JESSICA: First, most important question is will my boyfriend Stacey Ervin be there?


UNCLE TIM: Yes he will. He will definitely be there. He will be one of the many guys probably vying for the floor title. Really the event to watch on the men’s side is going to be floor. You have Stacey Ervin whose Tomayo makes Jess randy. You have Jake Dalton who has lovely toe point. Eddie Penev who is a world finalist on floor for Bulgaria now competing for the United States. You have Chandler Eggleston who in the past did a double Arabian to a punch front full right away which is a cool pass. Bobby Baker also in the past who has done a full twisting double front. It’s really kind of going to be the big event, floor exercise. It won’t be pommel horse, unfortunately.


JESSICA: Which is exciting because floor is my favorite event of men’s to watch besides high bar and vault. But vault only if it’s live. Just so you know. So there’s a weird point system they have going on there. Can you explain how this works? It’s always changing so it’s hard to keep up with.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah it’s kind of confusing. So in order to qualify for the men’s national team, they use this point system. And it’s basically a giant numbers game. It is based on your placement. So let’s say I win floor during prelims day one, I get 11 points for placing first during prelims. Then let’s say I get second on floor during finals, I get 10 points for placing second during finals. So that means I would have a total of 21 points. And now let’s say I’m an okay all-arounder, my two day total places me 10th in the all around, and that means I get one point for finishing 10th. So I’m up to 22 points. I guess the key difference is the value placed on individual events versus the value placed on the all around. So for individual events, you get points on day one and day two. For the all around, you only get points for your two day total. So it doesn’t matter if I place first in the all around on day one, it only matters what my two day total is if I’m looking to get all around points.


JESSICA: So Stacey just needs to be consistent both days to get his points to be sent everywhere like he should be as soon as his NCAA season is over.


EVAN: Not only does Stacey, everyone needs to be consistent.


JESSICA: Well that’s right. Those other competitors, I’m sorry. So two of our favorites aren’t going to be there though. What’s up with them?


UNCLE TIM: I was going to say Jonathan Horton is not going to be there. He’s still recovering from shoulder surgery. Sam Mikulak is skipping because he’s training for the American Cup. And then Mr. Paul Ruggeri recently had knee surgery, kind of a bad timing for his knee surgery.


JESSICA: And I totally understand why Sam’s not competing. It’s the week before American Cup.


UNCLE TIM: Let’s pause here. Do you guys have anything to say about the point system? Do you think it’s fair or not? Does anybody have an opinion on it?


EVAN : I don’t.


JESSICA: Not really.


UNCLE TIM: Okay then we won’t talk about it. Last year, Jess  you did. You were against it.


EVAN: But then Stacey Ervin succeeded with the point system.


JESSICA: So I’m like it’s great!


EVAN: I like it.


JESSICA: Pretty much! Apparently it was genius. So besides everything that Stacey Ervin’s going to do on floor and on the other events and how great he’s going to be and how he’s going to wow everyone like he did last year and how he’s going to use just a little bit of glue on his feet this time, what should we be looking forward to? There’s some people coming back right?


UNCLE TIM: Yeah so Chris Brooks is coming back. Last year he was out with a thumb injury. This year, he competed already at the Houston National Invitational on parallel bars and high bar. So it’ll be interesting to see how his comeback goes. Some other guys to keep an eye open for are I’d say Akhash Modi and Donnell Whitttenberg. Akhash is doing really really well in NCAA. He’s currently ranked first in the all around in the NCAA. Last year he finished sixth in the all around at Winter Cup so I’m curious to see what he does. And everyone should watch his dismount off parallel bars. It’s probably the world’s best Kato ever done.


JESSICA: Can you remind us who don’t remember what a Kato is?


UNCLE TIM: Well Jess you know what it is. Kato is one of your favorite gymnasts. So why don’t you tell people?


JESSICA: Full twisting double back?




JESSICA: Extra points for me! Extra points! Gold star! Also if you don’t love him already, his name sounds like an 80s new wave band. I just want to put some day glo and mismatched triangles on when I say his name. It’s so cool. Okay carry on.


UNCLE TIM: The other guy I’m kind of curious to see how he’ll do is Donnell Whittenberg. He is beef incarnated. He is this huge massive guy. He finished third at the Houston National Invitational behind John Orozco and Danell Leyva and he was only one tenth behind Leyva in the all around. The event to really watch him on is still rings. He was only 5/100s of a point behind Brandon Wynn on rings at the Houston National Invitational. So yeah it should be an interesting showdown between those two on rings. Evan, do you think there are any guys who might burst onto the scene?




JESSICA: He’s busy watching Katherine Grable.


EVAN: I think Katherine Grable is going to do great at Winter Cup! I think that it really is just going to be, the Winter Cup a lot of times, especially during these off years in the quadrennium, it’s just kind of a warm up meet. When you were mentioning Chris Brooks, we’ve seen Jonathan Horton come back, who trains with Chris at Cypress under Tom Meadows. I think they just have a really smart pacing plan. And so I think it’s really just getting your competition legs back under you and getting some competitive numbers back in there. I really like Chris Brooks and his gymnastics and where it got to up to 2012 and 2013 and then obviously has had to sit out for a bit. So I think that’s probably the most interesting storyline among all of them. I don’t think we’re going to see any new names rise to the top. But you never know. I could be surprised and just totally wrong which has happened like four times before. Ever.


UNCLE TIM: Four, only four. I guess for me the final storyline is kind of the question marks. The guys that you don’t really know how they’re going to do. So Danell Leyva for me is kind of a question mark. His gymnastics is kind of like my relationships, full of ups and downs and uncertainty. I mean last year, I feel like people had really high expectations for him. He was coming off a bronze medal at the Olympics in the all around. But he really struggled at the Winter Cup last year. He had a fall on high bar and he just didn’t look quite as crisp as he did at the Olympics. And it kind of set the tone and tenor for the rest of the year where he, he had a rough year last year. And so I’m curious to see if 2014 will be a better year for him. And then the other guy who kind of always has a question mark in my book is Steven Legendre because he has such high difficulty and I’m curious to see if he’s going to compete his huge vaults and if he will put them to his feet or not at this meet.


JESSICA: It’s always exciting to see what he is going to do because he’s one of those super human maniac gymnasts. Pretty much.


UNCLE TIM: Kind of like Evan Heiter


EVAN: Ohhh I was cray cray.


JESSICA: What was the hardest skill you ever did? Whether you competed it or not, like you just landed it one time, that counts.


EVAN: I mean I’m not going to impress anyone here. I mean I did an Arabian double pike.


JESSICA: That’s legit!


EVAN: That was probably the biggest E that I got to, E for Evan and effort.


JESSICA: I mean if Stacey Ervin does those in his routine, those are really really hard.


EVAN: Right yeah!


JESSICA: That’s the scale upon which I judge all other male gymnasts.


EVAN: Totally! Yeah it was good. I was great! If I could do just like one pass and then they were sick of them. If there was a one pass event, which don’t tell me power tumbling because I do not whip back like that. My whips do not back like that. Arabian double pike was probably the hardest. I did triple fulls once but then I got mono the next day


UNCLE TIM: So you got superstitious


JESSICA: That’s how hard triple fulls are.


EVAN: I was super swollen so I couldn’t do it.


JESSICA: Okay how long did it take you to come back from mono?


EVAN: Probably not the Danusia Francis plan.


JESSICA: Which is crazy


EVAN: I was out for, I think just as a precaution, I don’t think it was really serious. Like some people say they were like, I had tennis balls in my throat and I could barely breathe. I was so tired. When I got it in college, they were like are you tired, I was like yes. I’m always tired. So I think that’s a pretty funny question to ask a college athlete. Like are you tired. But I think I sat out for probably about a month just as precaution. It wasn’t like I felt super bad that entire time. I guess there are varieties of cases and obviously doctors with differing opinions on things so hopefully Danusia, Danusia Francis of UCLA was recently diagnosed with mono as many college gymnasts have been in the past. So it’s just a matter of listening to your body. One terrible thing about mono is that it’s pretty easy to relapse. You think you feel good just because your body has rested for so long and then you start doing something again and it’s like oh no.


JESSICA: And I think that the reason people often think for normal humans it’s not a big deal, but for athletes it’s really serious because the problem is that your spleen is swollen so just doing a normal landing or just falling over like you do a hundred times at gymnastics practice can rupture your spleen and then you can lose your spleen and/or die. So it’s very serious. Not having a spleen is not a good thing if they have to take that out because it cleans your blood. So it’s kind of super essential.


EVAN: So everyone should google where your spleen is. If you have your left hand and you put it on your rib cage, it’s under your left hand essentially. It’s under your ribs. Know where your spleen is. Because I was like ooh my muscles on the left side of my chest are just like hurting, like kind of sharp.


JESSICA: Weren’t you like I feel like I have a cramp in my side all the time? Why is that?


EVAN: That’s your spleen getting ready to explode.


JESSICA: Exactly! When I had mono, that’s exactly how I felt all the time. I’m not running anywhere! Why does this hurt? The worst thing is as an athlete, you are never trained to report when you have a pain or an injury unless it’s really bad. Excuse me I have a pain in my side. So it’s so hard when someone’s like you have to tell us when you feel you have this pain. You’re like screw that. I’m just going to do as much as I possibly can. Yeah it’s very difficult. So we wish Nush the best because we love love love her.


EVAN: We also received a report from the Rocky Mountain Open. Are you guys ready for this? Our judge friend Mr. Olympia, he’s coming through again in the clutch to give us a little bit of a report, some interesting tidbits from the meet. Obviously we don’t talk about the men that much even though it was entertaining and great and talented as they are. A lot of times, their more sparkly counterparts take much of this show. So for the Rocky Mountain Open, Oklahoma really ran away with this competition. As they usually do, Oklahoma’s looking very very good this year. I would say the echelon of the top three teams is really Michigan, Oklahoma, and Stanford. Uncle Tim, correct me if I’m wrong. Jump in and stab me.


UNCLE TIM: You’re correct. Continue.


EVAN: No stabbing. So the bad news from this meet though was that there was a pantsing incident. Like actually, pants came off a competitor from Air Force on the rings, had his pants fall down in the middle of the routine. Which Jess would probably argue if you had a dance belt on, maybe that would aid you in some type of pants help. But that actually caused Air Force to get third place. They were back from second place by Nebraska by less than a point. And when you have to get off the rings because your pants are falling down, you have to take a point deduction.


JESSICA: Can you imagine how bad it would have to be for you to stop your routine? I mean they must have been around his ankles. We’re looking for the video of this. So stay tuned. Check on our YouTube playlist later this week.


EVAN: And at that moment you think, because my mind was like does he need to take his legs apart? Because you really can do a legs together press, legs together planche. You can just do an L seat instead of a straddle L. So I was thinking would you just continue? But they say those, I don’t want to say dancers, but if a boob pops out, you’re just supposed to keep dancing. Like pretend like nothing happened. Like you’re just supposed to continue and go on.


JESSICA: And this is not as bad as a boob falling out.


EVAN: It’s definitely not! Obviously he probably had his dance belt on, as many people think gymnasts need to wear.


JESSICA: Honestly he’s in the Air Force. What if he was in a military operation? What if this was life and death? I mean you would keep fighting with your pants hanging around your ankles.


EVAN: I do see, because they could get caught. Things can go south pretty quick, including pants obviously. Those were the highlights and the lowlights from the Rocky Mountain Open.


JESSICA: And just to circle back to the dance belts, which we love, one of our commenters this week commented that it was so interesting to hear us discuss dance belts, which are like jock straps for dancers because he used to wear a speedo, underneath his, or over his singlet to hold everything in. We were like wow, we’ve never considered anything like that. I’m just glad that we have brought this discussion to the floor. I think it’s very important and now everyone knows.


EVAN: We’re bringing pants to the floor and discussions to the floor, per us.


JESSICA: So let’s talk about NCAA this week. Oh my gosh, so it’s another banner week for Florida. Kytra Hunter got another 10, so that’s three weeks in a row of 10s for Florida. Kytra Hunter, she does a Yurchenko 1.5 and she stuck the crap out of it. It was beautiful. It totally deserved a 10 as far as I’m concerned. And the interesting thing is, she sat out of practice all but one day the week before because she had a stomach illness. So perhaps, it’s the wave of the future as some of our Twitter followers have suggested. Like Sam Peszek hasn’t been practicing very much and then she’s just going and competing. So maybe these excellent incredible elites benefit from a little time off.


UNCLE TIM: Or just being sick. Wasn’t it Bailie Key who was sick at the Secret Classic maybe and then she won the whole thing?


EVAN: Shawn Johnson had a stomach ache before she won gold in Beijing


JESSICA: But then we think back to Shannon Miller when she had the 104 fever and competed in Worlds finals on beam and fell like 15 times. And then there was Carly Patterson at Pacific Rim


EVAN: 2001 Pacific Alliance


JESSICA: Pacific Alliance when she had the stomach flu and she fell like three times on floor


EVAN: Maybe it was the Goodwill Games


JESSICA: Goodwill, that’s what it was, back when we used to have those. Yeah so it could go either way. I mean stomach problems? Competing? Oh no no no. That just sounds like the worst. Write in if you’ve had this experience and tell us what happened.


EVAN: Share with us your experience of stomach ailment in gymnastics.


JESSICA: Tricia Woo had the most horrific story ever of being on tour with Cirque and having food poisoning and realizing it right in the middle of her act and having to run outside when they only had porta potties. So you can listen to that in Episode whatever that was with Tricia Woo. Please enjoy. But let’s talk about the meet of, I would call this one of the meets of the decade. I would say the last meet, besides national championships that were like this meet were a long time ago, probably in the golden era of Georgia and UCLA in the early 2000s. The meet at Metroplex in Texas. So Metroplex Challenge is a regular JO meet. It’s a club meet. It’s an invitational. But they have a men’s NCAA meet and a women’s NCAA meet at the same thing. It’s so brilliant. Every club should do this because you get to promote college gymnastics and education and going to school for free by getting a scholarship which is the best thing ever. You already have a built in audience with these kids who are competing. And this is a way to get NCAA athletes to compete in front of their hometown crowd because Texas only has one gymnastics team, I’m pretty sure only one women’s gymnastics team so this a way for all these hometown girls from Dallas and all these clubs in Dallas where kids are practically born with grips on their hands to compete in front of their home club, their home coaches, their families. I just think it’s brilliant. Everyone should do this. New rules. O’Beirne rules. Putting that on the list. So the meet starts off. This was a four way meet. Arizona and Kentucky were there as well. But it starts off, LSU leads off the first rotation a 49.6 on bars. A 49.6. Okay these scores are nuts. But that’s how good these two teams are. So OU is over on vault and they’re just knocking out the 9.9 pluses. They end up with a 49.475. So the second rotation starts, LSU goes to beam. Rheagan Courville has that monster truck sized Nadia-esque standing Arabian on beam that’s like the best one you’ve ever seen except Nia Dennis. Who I would like to see them both side by side beams and do Arabians next to each other. Because Nia Dennis is insane too. So anywho, Rheagan Courville. They’re on beam and over on bars, OU takes the lead back from LSU and they are at a 99.025 after two rotations. A 99! What! That’s crazy!


EVAN: Jess you texted me that. And I was not following the meet, that’s a sacrilege I know. But I was like a 99? What?!


JESSICA: That number doesn’t happen. That’s crazy. Everyone’s averaging 9.9s and above a 9.9. So this meet is crazy right? So then you go to the third rotation and LSU is like oh hell no, we’re not going to let Oklahoma take the lead. We have Lloimincia. She’s in front of her home crowd at Dallas and we’re going to win this motha. So Lloimincia goes on floor, she gets a 10, as we knew that she could do, her crazy floor routine. And she dedicates the routine to all the people who helped her in her career, the carpools, the coaches at Texas Dreams, her family was there. It was her hometown. She gets a 10. It was this epic moment. So LSU goes 49.45 on floor and then over on beam, future So You Think You Can Dance competition star Chayse Capps is first up on beam. So she’s first up on beam, she’s a freshman. You know how I’m in love with her. She gets a 9.975 on beam, as the first person up. That does not happen. I can’t think of another time. A 9.975, first up? What?! So the Sooners get a 49.5 total on beam which is no big deal, completely normal. So they’re leading going into the fourth rotation. This is where it gets freaking awesome. So LSU is on vault. Rheagan Courville goes and gets a 10. She has a gorgeous Yurchenko full. Seriously she lands, you know the guys get super distance and they measure the distance part of the elite score, that’s what her Yurchenko full is like. She is way out at the back of the mat, totally deserved a 10. It was beautiful. But then Oklahoma is going. You know how amazing they are on floor. Haley Scaman gets a 10 on floor. So it was just like back and forth, back and forth. Uncle Tim what were the final scores?


UNCLE TIM: LSU finished with a 197.875 and Oklahoma won with a 198.175.


JESSICA: And that brings us to the amazing thing about college gymnastics and why we love it so much. Because this was back and forth between teams and they were pushing each other. These people were getting season high scores and career high scores at this meet. And you have all these kids watching. This is why we love college gymnastics. It was one of the most exciting meets in a long, long time. So Uncle Tim, for people that aren’t familiar with how the regional qualifying score works and how you get to the national championships and of course I have to refresh my memory every year too on how this works, can you explain what this score means and why it’s so important?


UNCLE TIM: So the way they calculate it is they take teams’ six highest scores of the year of which at least three must be road scores and then they drop the highest score and average the remaining five. Yeah so it’s a little complicated but they use these scores to determine which teams, how many, 36 teams will qualify to the regional championships. And then from regionals, the top two from each regional go to the national championships.


JESSICA: Exactly. So the current team rankings, finally we’ve had enough meets that we have these rankings coming out. So for women right now, Oklahoma, and also for Oklahoma are the men number one coincidentally?


UNCLE TIM: We’re recording this on the 17th of February. And they haven’t updated the scores yet for the men.


JESSICA: Ok so they were number one. So that’s kind of-




JESSICA: To be both, be number one that’s gotta be kind of rare I think. But that’s exciting. But we’ll see what happens. Ok so Oklahoma are number one, then Florida, then LSU, Utah, Alabama, Georgia. This is freaking exciting man. Like I totally think it’s going to be a competition between LSU and Oklahoma this year. I really do. I think those two are the teams to beat. Of course you know then we have the outlier like UCLA who of course they have, this is how they do it. They don’t start off crazy. They have this like long term plan. And they always rise up at the very end of the season. So you can’t ever count them out. But Oklahoma and LSU. I’m calling it right now. I think Florida’s starting too hot. They’re going to burn out by the end. What do you guys think?


EVAN: I think I said I don’t want to say that I said LSU first, but I think very early on in the season I said that they were kind of my dark horse for the season. And they’re, that horse is just kind of running to the front of the pack now. DD Breaux is my girl bro. And I want, I just love interviewing her. She gives really sassy side eye when she’s getting really intense. I think she has a great plan. And it’s just kind of happening.


UNCLE TIM: You know, I’m not going to go with Utah just because beam’s really a mess right now. I mean, I like Evan love DD so I’m just going to go with LSU.


JESSICA: Yes. I think Oklahoma and LSU. Which ok speaking of Oklahoma who are number 1 right now, they have the coolest thing they’re doing right now. Everyone must go to their website immediately. Go to gymnastics. They’re crowd sourcing leotards to pick for Friday night. Which leotard do you want them to wear? So they have three leos up. They named the leos. You can see the front and the back of the different gymnasts wearing the leos. Then you can vote which one they want to wear. I love this so much.


UNCLE TIM: I think this is a good way to do it rather than designer leotard and then you get like these hideous designs that you don’t like and you’re like oh now we have to choose one of these. So this is a good way of including fans and still using designs that your team wanted to use. Which one would you choose Jess? The Taylor, the Laura, or the Kara?


JESSICA: I like the Laura, the middle one. I think it’s the classiest. Even though it’s filthy with sparkles. And you know how I feel about that. But I like it the most. I’m shocked myself. But at least it’s not the boobitard. Although last, so UW I watched them compete this weekend. They have the boobitard. Which if you guys aren’t familiar, the boobitard to revisit the, did they wear this Olympic finals or did they only wear it in Tokyo? It’s that leo that has starburst on the front and it’s like see through two sections. Like half side boob and half on the side. Anyway Oklahoma wore and we named it the boobitard because it looks like it’s nude side boob. But, in black, like UW wears it, I really really liked it. I think it’s actually quite classy and subdued. It’s not the side boob isn’t so obvious. So, hats off to UW for finding a way to wear that iconic leotard in a classy manner.


UNCLE TIM: I feel like Oklahoma really likes the sparkles. I remember last year NCAA Championships I was practically blinded by their leotard one night under the lights because it was so bright and there were so many sparkles. So yeah. I also like the Laura. What about you Evan?


EVAN: The Taylor is where it’s at for me. I think that that’s probably most representative of the school. Like I think that OU really really comes through. And I think the pattern across the front of it is pretty interesting. I think they’ve worn that one before though if I’m not mistaken. And I liked it then too. So. I’m going with the Taylor. And I’m voting for it right now. Click. It happened.


JESSICA: When I talked about the UW meet looking at their leos, and I just want to give a major shout out to Elise Ray because I’m giving her all the credit because I’m sure it’s completely her. And I don’t care what the truth is, I’m sure I’m right. That their beam and floor routines have come so far. I mean they’re always like UW it’s alright you know they’re cool. But I mean there are two routines that I like slobbering crawling on the ground in love with on that team right now. And they are Janae Janack. Her beam routine. She’s just lovely. Lovely lovely lovely. Everything she does is extended, pointed, fingertips. Ugh I love it love it love it. I want her to model every single compulsory routine for every single country. That’s the kind of love I have for her execution of everything. Then Jackie McCartin on beam. Do you know why Uncle Tim? Can you guess why I love this routine so much?


UNCLE TIM: I bet she does a roll of some sort.


JESSICA: Yes! Yes she does! She does a front straddle roll, she does a side straddle roll. Oh my god there’s so much rolling in this routine. And it’s all in different places. You know how I love that. But it’s I just there’s something new about all of their choreography. And it’s really making them stand out. And it drives me nuts that every single team should have a choreographer on their staff. And if you don’t you’re never going to make it. That’s what I’m telling you right now. So having Elise Ray is just it’s going to put them up to the next level. I’m so impressed with them. Which brings me to Stanford and how upset I am with Stanford because Stanford has the most amazing gymnasts. They’re so good and their gymnasts deserve better. I finally figured out why I can’t stand their choreography. It’s because-


UNCLE TIM: Why’s that?


JESSICA: -it’s awful.

UNCLE TIM: There’s a dramatic pause-


JESSICA: There’s no rolls. No they do all their choreography completely stationary. They don’t move. So they’ll be on their knees and not moving, just doing choreography. They’re not moving across the floor. They stand up and they just stand still and do choreography with their arms. There’s no transition. There’s no movement. It’s all stationary.


UNCLE TIM: Ok I’m going to disagree because UCLA is famous for having extended laying on the floor sequences.


JESSICA: Yeah but they roll around. They’re moving.


UNCLE TIM: Oh my god it’s like I don’t know. Like Spanny’s child moving in his crib.


JESSICA: How dare you


UNCLE TIM: So I don’t know if this is really a theory.


JESSICA: Oh no it is the truth. Let me tell you because I watched each ones and I counted all the times. I will make a chart of this. And besides that, UCLA lying on the ground is 1000% better than what’s being done to those poor Stanford gymnasts. I can’t stand it. It drives me nuts. You know how I love those McNair sisters. Oh my god they are stunning. And it makes me so upset when I watch their routines.


EVAN: You can never talk about them as singular people.


JESSICA: They’re not, they’re a unit


EVAN: It’s like they’re conjoined


JESSICA: Even when they were kids I could not tell them apart honestly. I’m glad they do their hair differently at meets so I can kind of tell who’s who. They deserve better. I demand a new choreographer for them. I demand it.


EVAN: I think Taylor Rice does a really good job in her routine. I watched their meet earlier this afternoon and I thought she presented it really well. She looks really good. I think she had a minor ankle sprain so she’s on her way back from that. And maybe kind of a blessing in disguise because for last week we were talking this was kind of like this monotonous time where’s it’s not the beginning of season, it’s not the end of season, it’s just kind of somewhere in the middle. So hopefully she’ll be able to do some good things and move enough for Jess, move and roll enough to please Jessica O’Beirne.


JESSICA: The one thing I have to say about Stanford is every once in a while they have a gymnasts who’s unique and competent enough that they allow her to take control of her own choreography in a way and direct it. And I think Taylor Rice is one of those. And then-


UNCLE TIM: Allyse Ishino used to do her own routines.


JESSICA: Thank you. Yes Allyse Ishino was another one of those and I really liked her routines. They were very different. They were all her. And I think that that’s great that they’re allowed to take the initiative that way. Hats off. In that one small particular area. And Kristina Vaculik looks fantastic this year.


UNCLE TIM: I guess I just want to make one point. Not necessarily about Stanford but just gymnastics in general and especially NCAA. I think we take very sports fan perspective on things. And when something goes wrong we just immediate blame the coach. And so I don’t know I was thinking about this today. Can we really blame somebody like Miss Val for Cassie Whitcomb’s injuries? Can we really blame Miss Val for what happened with Mattie Larson? Can we blame Miss Val for the fact that Anna Li dropped from 4th in the nation as a freshman to 14th in the nation as a sophomore? I mean, like, I just feel like we make things so simplistic and we forget that often times these, they’re college students. They’re going through life. They’re falling in love. Freshman year you’re usually taking general ed requirements and those classes tend to be a little easier for you. Then your sophomore year you start taking classes in your major and life gets really hard as a student. And I think that we often forget that. And so we just expect them to be great all the time. And we expect them to just be perfect you know every single year. And we forget that they have other things going on in their lives. And the coaches are not just responsible for all those things.


JESSICA: And also they arrive with a bazillion injuries, especially when they’re elite and all that. And yes I agree with you. But I specifically was just talking about choreography which is 100% the coach’s vault.

UNCLE TIM: Doesn’t matter that they couldn’t dance when they were in JO. I don’t know if any Stanford girls could dance. But like-


JESSICA: We’ll never know. We’ll never find out. We need Allyse Ishino in there. Can she come in and do some- I just love, that team has so much talent and I just want to see it more.


EVAN: Allyse Ishino would come in there and be like do flip her hair around once and they’d be like we can’t. Because I know, because I’ve tried it. And it’s not easy to do Allyse Ishino’s choreography. So I can vouch.


JESSICA: Of course you tried it oh my god I love it. Ok. Last thing. Amanda Borden agrees with me that Sam Peszek should be getting 10s on beam. As she clearly stated in the broadcast that she does not know where, and I quote, the judges are taking these deductions. So. Gold medalist agrees with me. I have to have the last word on everything. Let’s move on to mail call, we’ll get to some of the letters from our listeners. Evan what do you have?


EVAN: So we got an email from Coach Reevus. He has something that he wanted to discuss. He noticed it on men’s floor exercise. So I will read his email that we received. I’ve not listened to every podcast, but as a weekly follower from the beginning, here’s my issue. Squatty arm criss cross move done before the last pass by men on floor. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, it is done in the corner right before the last tumbling pass. Guys bend their knees into a semi squat and swing their arms down enough to let them cross in front of their knees. Then you stand up with your arms up. Holy crap I never knew how much it annoyed me until recently. There has to be someone out there that this bugs too. I was watching a college meet on tv and I nearly lost my mind. I thought I don’t remember everyone doing this, but now it’s everywhere. I had to go back and rewatch floor exercise finals from the past Worlds. Ten guys went, three of them did this. Both USA men and Daniel Keatings from Great Britain. Maybe I’m overreacting, but that’s why your show exists right? Feel free to agree or disagree. Keep doing what you do, you guys put together a great show. First of all, Coach Reevus, thank you very much for all your compliments. Second of all, unfortunately I’m going to have to disagree. Because it is called something called, it’s called something that is called getting oxygen to your muscles so they work. And it’s not imperative or essential. And I can see how it would be annoying because it’s kind of a jagged movement. I mean sometimes it can look better than other times. But it’s really just kind of a rest you know. Some I think you know that’s all it is. Sorry.


UNCLE TIM: So I call it the man wipe. I don’t know why. It’s what- and I think that it’s very pervasive in college gymnastics. And it’s to a certain extent in elite. But it’s I guess it’s taking the place of where men used to do a scale. So before their last pass they used to do a scale and that’s how they caught their breath before their final tumbling run. And now we see the man wipe which is faster than doing a scale. And in today’s elite floor routines you have to get as many tumbling passes into one routine as possible. And you don’t have time to slowly lift your foot up by your head and do a Y scale and slowly let it down. So yeah, that’s I mean it’s kind of the consequence of doing a of the open scoring system.


JESSICA: I think it stands out so much because there’s no artistry left in men’s gymnastics period. It’s all totally gone. I think the only person doing something even close is Max Whitlock. He’s the only person that’s kind of bringing back what artistic gymnastics is supposed to be with his routine. And I think if there was more artistic component to the men’s routine, if it was required, even the scale, an actual stag jump instead of this halfass nonsense, then it wouldn’t stand out so much and this wouldn’t look so out of place if there was more artistry. So I agree it looks funky so I think all the men out there should try to do something different. But equally- I don’t know what you would do there. Do a scale!


EVAN: Do a roll


JESSICA: I mean what about a full turn?



JESSICA: What about a squatty ninja lunge hold?


EVAN: I mean you can kind of- you could do like a handstand roll out to one knee.




EVAN: And then hold it. There are other options. But sometimes you don’t I mean you really don’t have that much time.


JESSICA: Sit in a split with your arm up then look up to your fingers. That’s old school.


EVAN: But that’s also a lot of time.




EVAN: To have to get- because you’re thinking about you have to do that movement and then you have to do some type of natural movement to get up out of that. And then probably make your way into the corner. So.


JESSICA: What would Justin Spring do? Because he managed to do his ninja butterfly roles and have enough breath to only need nine surgeries in his career.


EVAN: I don’t know. I’m pretty sure Justin Spring probably did one.


JESSICA: He probably totally did.


EVAN: So yeah I mean I think it’s you know you’re kind of in the minority if you haven’t. You can do some little variations to it where you’re just bring your arms up really slowly then kind of bring them back down and go. But I think it’s just that it’s a tempo in the ebb and the flow. While I do see why it disrupts kind of the aesthetic nature of a routine, it’s kind of the hand we’re dealt nowadays. So I see why it fits.


UNCLE TIM: Do you think we should have a corner rule for the men that they can’t sit there and do the man wipe and they have to get out of the corner as fast as possible like the women?


EVAN: I do not, just because I don’t want to say the level of difficulty for the men is that much higher than the women, but it is. But I understand there’s a balance between choreography and movement. So I think that would be interesting. There are certain rules that you- there was rules in place I’m not sure if it’s still there but you had to you could only move forward. So instead of just stepping back like we saw in the early 2000s. Land, step back into the corner, feet together arms up. You had to walk forward or do a rotating movement so you weren’t just stepping backwards. So I think that they’ve kind of played around with those types of rules changes. But I don’t think it’s had any legs to stand on overall. I think they’re just like oh we’re just going to worry about the composition of the routine rather than those artistic touches.


JESSICA: I think it is no coincidence that men’s gymnastics has gone downhill as artistry has been lost. Direct correlation.




UNCLE TIM: So we received an email from one of our listeners. And she says dear GymCastic crew, you have often spoke of your dream to have “score receipts” for the gymnasts. England is doing its part to make that dream come true. Insert Jess’ “eeeee!” here right now. The system used at this weekend’s British University Championships and several other competitions in the UK prints out a score summary for each gymnast that looks like this. Voila we’ll put that on our website so you can see it. As you can see, most of the gymnasts here are really eager to pick up their slips. And she includes a photo of a myriad of tickets that had not been picked up. Ok. So the receipts don’t really tell you anything from the scoreboard, but it is a start. So on the receipt they say they give your D score, and then how many deductions judge 1 gave you, execution deductions, how many execution deductions judge 2 gave you. They don’t really break it down and say ok bent knee here, pointed toe there, etc. like Jess would want. But it is a step in the right direction. And she says the technology with the score system also includes some bells and whistles for the spectators too. Spectators can sign up for the real time text alerts which are linked into the scoring system to follow gymnasts or teams of their choice. They can get a text alert when the gymnast is about to compete on an event. Great for parents reading a book at a compulsory level meet like my mother used to do. She used to read in the stands. And scores can also be sent directly to their phone as soon as they are entered in. The system also makes a video recording of each routine, which judges can replay if necessary to verify D score only of course. And offers live streaming of the videos for some events.


JESSICA: The website is if you guys want to check it out. It’s basically as far as I’m concerned one of the greatest improvements in gymnastics of all time. What do you think?


UNCLE TIM: I understand why nobody’s really picking up the receipt at this point in some because it doesn’t tell you too much more than what you would see on the scoreboard. I mean you do get to see what judge 1 gave you and judge 2 which is kind of nice. But yeah I think it would be a step in the right direction for the O’Beirne rules of gymnastics.


JESSICA: Evan what do you think? If you had had one of those receipts and if you had more details, or if your family had access to be able to get a text message when you’re up, would they have been super stoked? Would you have picked up your receipt?


EVAN: That was many questions. I’m a big proponent of things moving more digitally. And for sports and athletics, I think that it’s kind of I don’t want to say the last frontier. But kind of introducing it. You think about going to a doctor’s office or I went to the optometrist the other day and all my check in was via an iPad like device and I just scanned my card. Literally just put it on the screen and it scanned it. So I think that technology is really kind of rounding the bend. And it can really develop into whatever is necessary. I probably wouldn’t take the receipt just because like Uncle Tim said it’s not really giving me much more than I think for a coach it’s almost more beneficial to have those things. For gymnasts it’s not like oh I really want to go back and review what happened. You just kind of roll with the score you’re given most times. So I think it’s interesting. I think it’s very very interesting. And I’m exciting to see where it goes.


UNCLE TIM: Over the weekend I noticed that has something called “the rage-o-meter” in terms of NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. And I thought that Jessica O’Beirne should have her own rage-o-meter. And this week I want to know, Jessica, is there anything that makes you want to punch someone in the face this week?


JESSICA: There always is, how kind of you to ask. As a matter of fact, watching NBC all week, I am really really really sick of hearing them say “And she’s a mother,” or “And she’s over 30,” or “And she has two kids.” They don’t say that about any men. You don’t hear people talking about Bode Miller- they’ll talk about his age but they won’t say “how’s he doing this even though he has two children.” Nobody says that about men and I’m so disgusted it’s so freaking sexist and everybody that says that I want to kick them in the nuts. And also the thing is, if this 30 year old mother is the new Olympic champion, then she is the rule not the exception. So you guys all need to put that in your pipe and smoke it and then shut the F up because I’m tired of hearing you guys talk like that. How about you guys? Angry about anything this week? Never as angry as me. I had two cups of dark black tea today. Irish breakfast. Really feeling it.


UNCLE TIM: That’s why I go to yoga, to let out all that rage you know. Some of us to podcasts, others of us do yoga to let it out.

EVAN: Some of us do tea.


JESSICA: Tea is hardcore. How are you doing down there in Atlanta with this ice-mageddon. That’s what going to call it now. Another meet was cancelled, the Georgia/Mizzou meet was cancelled because of the weather. And Evan, you live right smack down in the middle of this. Are you holding up ok?


EVAN: I am. It’s a brisk 62 right now. So I’m barely holding on. The ice suffice it to say has melted. Yeah you know coming from up north where you’re just used to seeing salt trucks on the road and snow plows whenever needed and necessary, it’s just not you know needed in the south that much. So when situations like that do arise, it was literally a state of emergency 48 hours before the storm hit. So, and like just everything was deserted. Literal ghost town like walking dead. It was crickets everywhere. So I think it was probably smart for Georgia to cancel their meet. But also a bummer. But I’m safe. So.


JESSICA: As long as you’re safe. This is the most important thing.


EVAN: I am.


JESSICA: Ok good.


UNCLE TIM: Our listeners don’t need to send you large packages in the mail.


EVAN: I did just move and I think it’s exciting to get mail in new places. And old places. So I’m not going to give out my address. But if you want to send me something, maybe we can get a drone to bring it on over.


JESSICA: You can send us things that are GymCastic mail if you want the address just email us and I’ll give it to you and you can send us packages for Evan. If you want to send him love letters or love letters to Uncle Tim or packages with salt


UNCLE TIM: Marked mail package


JESSICA: Or a rose. What was it, a big bee? What was a big D? Yes. Remember that? The score? D score. I’m going to cut this out. Ok so yes.


UNCLE TIM: It was a big D yeah


JESSICA: So send your packages to us. Email us, we’ll send you the address. Anything else you need? Do you need like you know gift cards, decorate your new place, or?


EVAN: I actually just look- I’m a really great online shopper that never buys anything. I put stuff in the cart then I’m like can’t do it, nope.




UNCLE TIM: You can support the show by shopping in our Amazon store. Remember as long as you start through our Amazon link on our website, a little portion of what you buy goes back to us. You can also review us on iTunes and Stitcher. And also if you don’t really like online shopping like Evan, you can support the show directly. There is a donate button on our website. And you can just send us a little money via PayPal.


JESSICA: So you guys can contact us by emailing us. It’s And we also have voicemail so you can call us at 415-800-3191 or on Skype. So if you’re abroad you can call us for free on Skype. Our username is GymCastic Podcast. And, I try to put every week some kind of clip of what we’re talking about, just like if there’s a skill we’re talking about or something weird that happens at a meet. Like when Shawn johnson said at the Iowa meet when she was doing commentary that the beam is 4.5 inches wide, that’s up on our Instagram page. So make sure to follow us on Instagram. When there’s a really cool skill like there’s a girl from I want to say Illinois who’s doing a deltchev that is glorious, I put a little clip of that as well. So check out our Instagram page. Then we also have transcripts. So if you like to read our interviews rather than listen, check out the transcript tab on our site. And the transcripts usually take a week or two to go up after the show is posted.



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.

JESSICA: Next week, she won the NCAA all around three times in a row. Yes, that’s equal to Courtney Kupets except she did it consecutively. And all while qualifying as an individual to National Championships without a team to build up her scores. She worked as the North Dakota oil fields and as a Hollywood stunt woman. Who is she? Find out next week on the podcast. Until then 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. Find me on Twitter @yoev

JESSICA: See you guys next week, thanks for listening




[expand title=”Episode 79: Winter Cup AKA The Screaming Gym Moms Championships”]

JESSICA: Dance moves that could be


UNCLE TIM: Like a shimmy


JESSICA: Not a shimmy, like a I don’t know, a man move like the Roger Rabbit


UNCLE TIM: Running man in the corner


EVAN: We’re going to have to work on this Stacey. You started something but we don’t want people to finish it.


[Express Yourself Intro music plays]


JESSICA: This week, a Winter Cup recap, American Cup preview, all your NCAA news and your letters.


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 79 for February 26, 2014. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics


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


EVAN: And I’m Evan. Find me on Twitter @yoev.


JESSICA: This is the best gymnastics podcast of all time, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. Let’s start by discussing Winter Cup because Uncle Tim was in Vegas for Winter Cup supplying his hilarious and informative quick hits as only he can do. So tell us everything.


UNCLE TIM: Alright, well we can’t talk about everything. But last week I said that floor was going to be the big event to watch on the men’s side and it kind of was. The top 10 floor workers averaged a 15.073, which is pretty darn good. Any guesses as to what the top ten pommel horse workers averaged at the Winter Cup?


JESSICA: 12? 13?


EVAN: 13.8


UNCLE TIM: Really close Evan. A 13.768. So yeah, Davis Grooms, a 15-year-old level 9 gymnast outscored several of the national team members on pommel horse.


JESSICA: Put him on the team!


UNCLE TIM: So yeah anyway, back to floor. So the big routine was Eddie Penev’s floor routine on finals day. He received a 16.050, but that’s with the US bonus system. According to FIG rules, he would receive a 15.950. The routine opens with a skill that’s named after him. It’s a Tamayo with a half out. And then he does a whip half into a Randi which for me is a crazy pass. I don’t understand how you can do that. Jess, what stood out to you about this routine?


JESSICA: I’m a convert. I was never a big fan of his before. I guess because he has a shuffly foot thing when he lands. But his form is so nice. I mean this is how it should be. The form should outweigh all else. And I just love his form. It’s the way gymnastics should be done.


UNCLE TIM: I guess one thing I also want to mention about Eddie. I feel like college gymnastics just wasn’t for him. I watched him for several years while he was competing at Stanford and his legs just always looked tired. I think he’s more suited for elite gymnastics where you don’t have to compete every weekend. So I think he’s looking a lot better than he did in college season. But that’s just my view. The other big thing on floor was John Orozco’s new skill. It’s a Lou Yun with a half out. So a Lou Yun is a double salto straddled with a full twist. So you basically do a side somi and then another three quarters while you’re doing a double back.


JESSICA: I feel like that’s super complicated. I feel like it’s easier if you think about it as a side flip with a front out right?


UNCLE TIM: Um not exactly because of the amount of twisting he does right? So he does more than just a front out. It’s like a side flip, front out with an extra full.


EVAN: It looks like a Hypolito at the end. That was my initial interpretation of it. He’s entering the skill in that Lou Yun fashion and then all of a sudden just kind of like brings it around and it looked very Hypolito to me. I thought it was definitely eye catching. In terms of refined, I’m not sure it’s there yet. Actually I am sure and it’s not there yet.


JESSICA: It’s the freaking coolest thing I’ve seen in a long ass time though. And side flip is so old school so I love that about it.


UNCLE TIM: All he needs to do is add a little rolly skill.


JESSICA: Like Stacey Ervin did in finals! Okay we can get to that later.


UNCLE TIM: But yeah John Orozco is doing that skill. If he does it at the American Cup he can have it named after him because men can have skills named after them at world cup events. The other interesting thing about floor, the juniors. So on the men’s side, it’s really for the seniors on the US men’s side, it’s really all about the double Arabians. Back in the 90s, double Arabians were really kind of a “girly skill” and that guys really didn’t do them. Because guys weren’t doing them. You think about it. Amanda Borden did one but like no guy was doing it, a double Arabian back in the 90s. Now it’s all the rage. However, among the US juniors, it’s really all about the double layout I would have to say. And I think it’s kind of awesome to see so many double layouts. One of the double layouts really stood out to me. You might remember Anthony McCallum from the P&G Championships because he had an unfortunate fall on his Tsuk double back at the meet. But he’s back And his double layout on floor was almost Kytra Hunter good.


EVAN: I think it was definitely Beyonce Kytra Hunter good. He might be Jay Z. And they are a modern day Bonnie and Clyde doing double layouts together. It was so well executed, the first thought that popped into my mind is that’s going to be the best double double I have ever seen. You can tell that whoever is telling him how to do that just has such great foresight especially with where he’s at in his career. Because you can tell that he knows exactly where is in both of those flips and it’s just so high that it’s only a matter of time.


JESSICA: I am a fan. Big fan. I could watch him do floor all day. Loved it.


UNCLE TIM: Jess, how did your Stacey do?


JESSICA: Well it’s the middle of NCAA season so I’m sure he was tired. So he did very well. He did fine. It just wasn’t his very best performance. He did have one of the funniest and most creative falls of all time. He landed short on a full or a 1.5 Rudi. And so he just went for sort of a front tuck but you know how on trampoline when you sort of do a front tuck and bounce on your back and bounce back up so you roll like three quarters of the way and bounce on your back and get up? So he just did that on the floor. It was so funny. He just played it off like oh yeah this is part of my routine. Kind of like, who was it in NCAA who used to do like a seat drop on the floor in her routine?


EVAN: Ashley Miles


JESSICA: Ashley Miles, like he did it like that. It was a backdrop basically. A front to a back drop. I loved it. So hats off to him because I think that a mistake is always an opportunity for comedy. And so hats off to you Stacey Ervin. And I think now he can just enjoy the rest of NCAA season, you know just concentrate on championships in August and worry about that then. Just concentrate on school for now.


UNCLE TIM: And while I was at the Winter Cup, I did a lot of interviews. And we have three of them on the website right now. Jessica what stood out to you about those interviews?


JESSICA: So the first is that Chris Brooks, wait is this where you wanted me to talk about the three, those three things?


UNCLE TIM: Yes you put them into the


JESSICA: Okay I wasn’t sure. So the first is Chris Brooks. We always hear about him sort of being the cheerleader of every team and that he’s just super positive. It was really interesting to hear him talk about, he basically thinks he would have been a thug hoodlum if it hadn’t been for gymnastics. That’s not something I feel like you often hear gymnasts say. And also his griplock. Oh my God! I had never read about his griplock before. I had no idea he had this. And every kid I’ve ever known who had griplock, that was it for their gymnastics career. I just think griplock is so freaky. I don’t know how we don’t have a solution for this yet. It was insane to see the scars, the pictures that you took of his griplock and the fact that the doctor told him you’ll never do gymnastics again. He was like oh hell no. You don’t know me. And he came back from that. That was a horrific, horrific injury. I was super impressed by that. Second, this is really funny that Jake Dalton used to get so nervous that he would throw up before meets.




JESSICA: That’s so touching. I think that if I was a young gymnast who asked for his advice, if I had heard that I would feel so much better knowing that Jake Dalton got more nervous than I did or as nervous as I did during meets. One thing that was disturbing is that he was talking about how he can feel when he gives Kayla a hug, it kind of freaks him out to squeeze her too tight because he can feel the screws in her back. It just brings home how serious that injury was. But I was really happy to hear that he said she’s working out a lot now, not gymnastics wise, but is able to do a lot of exercise now. And then Orozco, I’m just always touched by his openness and his sincerity. He really was open about his mistakes the first day and how he thought he was thinking about the wrong thing. Instead of thinking about his gymnastics, he was thinking about how other people were perceiving him, other people’s expectations of him, outside expectations and how that wasn’t the right thing to focus on. Also training in China! That was awesome! He was basically like I’m a ninja. He didn’t say that but I’m a ninja. Impress me. And how the numbers and level of skills they were doing in China just blew him away and he was like wow I really need to step up my game. It really changed his perception of what high level training and high level numbers were. So if he’s blown away and impressed, I can only imagine what the average gymnastics fan  going to watch their practices would be like. So, loved those interviews. I love the stuff that you got. That was great!


UNCLE TIM: Thank you! Onto less great things, there were a couple of injuries at the Winter Cup. I don’t necessarily have the official diagnoses on these but we know for sure that Cameron Bach injured his right ankle severely on vault. Adrian de los Angeles hurt his leg on his final tumbling pass on floor, and Steven Legendre hurt his arm or shoulder doing a cross on rings. We wish them all speedy recoveries. The other news from the Winter Cup is


JESSICA: (whispers) Shocking


UNCLE TIM: Yeah shocking. The naming of the senior national team. And to list the names quickly, we have Brandon Wynn, Jake Dalton, Steven Legendre, Sam Mikulak, Paul Ruggeri, Eddie Penev, Alex Naddour, John Orozco, Josh Dixon, Sean Melton, Donnell Whittenburg, Chris Brooks, Jonathan Horton, Akash Modhi, Marvin Kimble, and you might notice there was no Danell Leyva. named to that team. Evan what are your thoughts on that?


EVAN: So Leyva, you know Winter Cup was obviously not a peak target meet for him but I thought he just looked a little bit out of control. And I wasn’t sure if that was just his athletic mentality, trying to keep up with his body and they just weren’t aligning. But really he usually presents that aesthetically pleasing line and even on floor, just very deliberate in anything and it just was not matching up. For the naming of the team, like we discussed last week, you have a couple of opportunities per year. At least this serves as motivation and won’t really affect major international assignments, I’m talking about Worlds later on in the year. But hopefully it just shakes things up a bit. I feel like so often on the men’s side of things, it can get really stagnant. And this is a really really good shakeup that I feel like is kind of a long time coming.


JESSICA: I also think a lot of people were shocked by this because they were like wait Leyva was on the world team. He should be named, anyone who was on the world team. But you forget that he decided not to. He was named to the team and then he bowed out. He said he had a shoulder injury but that makes a big difference for this team. And I’m assuming Horton was at camps or petitioned or something like that so that he got in. I was like having a little freakout like why is he on the team? Isn’t he on paternity leave? What happened? Did he petition? You have to show up. And then I was like oh he was probably just at camp and petitioned which is totally normal and he totally has the record to do so I’m sure it’s totally normal. I’m happy that he’s on the team. He deserves it.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I agree with what you’re saying Evan about Danell. He didn’t look very sharp at this meet. And he didn’t look that way last year at the Winter Cup either. And then we saw him at the American Cup kind of skip, well he was sick at the American Cup. He didn’t have a good American Cup. I just hope that this snubbing of sorts is the swift kick in the rear that he needs. And one other thing that I was kind of thinking about is, he’s 22 right? And how would you feel if your dad were coaching you at 22?


JESSICA: Oh my God I would kill myself.


EVAN: A lot of times in elite gymnastics, you see those athletes who have been with their coaches for kind of the duration, especially through the Olympics or a couple of Olympics, Worlds one after the other, major international meets and you have to wonder how long can you keep a good thing going. And I feel like for lack of a better analogy, it’s kind of like a marriage, keeping the spark going. But in a marriage, you have a lot of other opportunities to do some crazy stuff no.


Jessica Laughs


EVAN: To mix it up a little bit. But I feel like a coach/athlete relationship has certain parameters, that you get to a point and I feel like you know there’s a breaking point.


UNCLE TIM: I was going to agree with you Jess. Had my dad been coaching me at the age of 22, it would have been as toxic as Chernobyl basically. It would have been terrible.


JESSICA: I just feel like it’s so so hard though. Can you imagine if Nastia had left her dad and gone to train with someone else? When your business is built around your child’s sport and there’s such a close family relationship, I just can’t imagine no matter what that he would ever leave. But then again, who knows? Maybe it’s just overtraining because he hadn’t taken a break. Or maybe Yin will take a step back and be like you know maybe we need to totally change something up or you need to go try something else for a while. I mean you never know. But yeah he just seems stagnant which is a shame because he’s fantastic.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah he still gets a huge cheer from all the audience members and stuff. He’s still one of America’s top gymnasts at least in the audience’s mind. And the audience, I was sitting by a bunch of you know, I don’t know how old they were, but women. Some of them seemed to be mothers. And they were loving the fact that Chris Brooks during warmups did a handspring double front on vault without his shirt on. And they went crazy at the end of the meet when CJ Maestas let down his singlet as men tend to do. They were just whooping and hollering. I mean it’s Vegas so you don’t know if maybe they had been imbibing a little bit beforehand or what but yeah that was very very popular with certain women.


JESSICA: I love that part of your quick hits. Like every time the women in the audience would go nuts, you would give an exact description of what happened. Danell Leyva does the middle splits. 50 women next to me scream until they pass out. Oh my God it was fantastic. Oh I just want to give a shoutout to Josh Dixon for kicking ass at this meet. I just feel like in general, I don’t know if I’m imagining this because I’m looking at who has been at the OTC and who went there and the progress they’ve made. I feel like the OTC gymnasts are doing great. Sean Melton was there and now he’s at Ohio. Josh Dixon, Orozco, Josh Dixon I just feel like, made huge progress. I don’t know. Am I imagining this?


EVAN: I think Josh has always been super talented and really has always kind of had the skills there. It’s just kind of putting together two solid days and kind of finding his place within the national team and where he kind of fits in after the points and the scores shake out. I think that he definitely deserves to be among the top group of athletes that we have. So it was good to see him put it together.


JESSICA: I just love him.


UNCLE TIM: And I have to give out one little shout out to one of our listeners who helped me with quick hits when you’re trying to watch six events at once it’s very difficult. And so one of our listeners was there helping me out a little bit. His name is Chris Jordan so thank you Chris for doing that. And he’s going to the American Cup next week which transitions into topic two: American Cup.


EVAN: Oh my Gosh well there are many cups to be given out in Greensboro this year. First, the Nastia Liukin Cup which is kind of becoming, you know it’s really gaining steam. There are so many amazing athletes who we’ve seen in elite now and also become great college stars. I mean Gabby Douglas competed in the Nastia Liukin Cup back in the day. And a tiny baby Mykayla Skinner, when she used to use two hands on the vault was also a competitor there. So that shows you kind of how established it’s become. For those of you who don’t know, the day/evening/night, I’m not sure the timing. But the Nastia Liukin Cup takes place in the same arena as the American Cup. So they get to use the podium. It’s a really great experience for essentially, the top level 10 athletes in the nation to compete on a really big stage and to go out there and kind of have some pressure put on them at kind of a crucial juncture in their careers. So do you guys have any throwback Nastia Liukin Cup memories?


JESSICA: I just think she has the best trophy ever of any competition. I mean I know people like get guitars and stuff like that. Gymnasts don’t have time for that. But she has one, it’s a torch. Like the Statue of Liberty torch. It’s so cool looking. I think it’s hands down the best. And the leos. I love the event. It’s the whole package event. She designs the leos. I like the style.


EVAN: What if Nastia had to do all of their nails before the meet?


JESSICA: That would be even better.


EVAN: Now Nasta will do your nails!


JESSICA: Oh my God and then Nina Kim could do all of their makeup. Because you know they have like a red carpet for them. They get interviewed and everything before. It’s so cool. I mean I want to be in that meet now. That’s how this meet is. She really makes it special for the athlete.


EVAN: And sidenote: Mary Lou Retton’s daughter has qualified with a 10 on vault at competitions this season. So watch for her. And then the following day, the American Cup takes place. Again, in kind of this off quadrennium. We’re in the midst of the quadrennium, kind of in one of those off years of the Olympics. So some injuries happening, some people pulling out. The big news there is Biles and Iordache are out and Brenna Dowell has been put in for the US. So Elizabeth Price, Brenna Dowell, John Orozco, and Sam Mikulak will be representing the red, white, and blue in Greensboro. For Brenna, she does the Podkopayeva so the double front pike on floor. And there’s also guys doing that. Who’s the male athlete doing this skill?


JESSICA: Someone at Winter Cup did it right? With a half out?


UNCLE TIM: A double Arabian half out but not a double front half out I don’t think .


EVAN: Wait does Brenna do the double front pike half out?


UNCLE TIM: She’s trained it.


EVAN: Okay.


JESSICA: Which is crazy!


EVAN: So we need to watch for that Brenna. And for a lot of people, Brenna was kind of floating under the radar when she was named to the world team. Obviously things happened as they would and she didn’t compete at Worlds. So an opportunity like this really goes to show that you do have to be ready kind of whenever they might need you. So who knows? This might be some redemption, some justice for Brenna, as some famous headlines about Jennie Thompson once read. But who knows? It’s always a dice roll but the Americans’ dice are usually weighted a little bit at the American Cup so hopefully they just put some good performances out there, go out there, hit four for four and do what they know how to do. Have fun, hit four for four and do what they do in practice every day. Hit four for four and just hit.


UNCLE TIM: There’s no sarcasm in there at all.


EVAN: A mild dollop is what I would equate that to. So you can watch in a lot of different ways. USAG has been phenomenal in just giving us gymnastics. They’re giving it to you so take it. A lot of times you hear that fans are complaining or the coverage was this or the coverage was that. Things will evolve over time but I really really don’t think that anyone is in a place to be complaining about what kind of coverage they’re getting. Am I right? Am I right?


JESSICA: Indeed.


EVAN: Okay. So you can set your DVRS for the American Cup Saturday March 1 on NBC from 1-3. That’s eastern time. Eastern time everyone, listen to me now. You can also watch it online. The NBC broadcast comes in and you’re like I missed 3 guys events. I missed 1.5 women’s events. What is happening? So that’s still where they’re going to come in but you can watch it online from 11:30 am to 1 pm eastern time right before the actual NBC broadcast starts. And that will be live and it’ll start at 10:30. Oh sorry nope. Reading that wrong.


JESSICA: Evan’s sleepy. He just moved.


EVAN: I’ve moved every week in these listeners’ minds. It’s still the same move. I’m a nomad. Just visit You’ll find all the info there.


JESSICA: I can’t wait to watch podium training because that’s when all the speculation starts. Oh my God it’s tragedy. No it’s going to be great. It’s my favorite part.


UNCLE TIM: Who do you think’s going to win?


JESSICA: I’m going to say Brenna Dowell.


UNCLE TIM: And on the men’s side?


JESSICA: Who did I vote for? Because I voted in the poll because I have to vote every time. Who did I vote for? I think I voted for Fabian Hambuechen.


UNCLE TIM: Okay. What about you Evan? Who do you think’s going to win?


EVAN: I think Elizabeth Price is going to break through and take the title and then Sam Mikulak on the men’s side. I think he has a good base of NCAA going into it but not too much of a base. He’s obviously put some effort into preparing pretty seriously for this meet so I think Sam’s going to do it.


UNCLE TIM: I agree. I’m twins with you Evan. I’m going to go with Elizabeth and Sam.


EVAN: Yeah you are.


{Topic Change}


JESSICA: So let’s talk about NCAA this week. First of all, this story is terrifying you guys. This is what I’ve been afraid of forever happening to someone. Bri Guy who’s on the Auburn team. And if you guys have ever seen her. She’s like a tiny tiny little human with like a rocket butt. Her vault is so amazing. I was really wondering when she was level 10 why she wasn’t recruited for elite because she could do a triple Yurchenko no problem. Her vaults are out of this world. They are McKayla Maroney style vaults. So she was tumbling at the meet this weekend or last weekend, did a double layout and tore both of her Achilles at the same time. And of course she didn’t get the rotation so she crumpled onto her head and she totally laughed about it. She was like oh I’ve landed on my head a lot in this sport. It didn’t phase me. She has a great attitude. But people at the meet were terrified. I mean it was really really scary to watch. And I’m always afraid someone’s going to tear their Achilles and get hurt in a different way not being able to bail out. But she’s already had surgery and she’s planning to come back. She’s like I’m going to be at all the meets. But ohhh super super scary. We’re wishing her a great recovery. I hope that she has super bionic Achilles after this and that she will come back and vault for the US and become world champion because I think she could totally do it. Why not?


UNCLE TIM: Why not?


JESSICA: Why not? This week was the Nadia Perfect Ten Challenge meet in Oklahoma. This meet is actually like a big health festival. At the center of it, on podium is a club meet, an international meet, and an NCAA meet. I think it’s so great. There was a lot of controversy at this meet though because Oklahoma won with a score of 197.2 over Alabama with a 197.1 so by a tenth. But Michigan was not please. Bev Plocki, the Michigan coach said that it was really a shame that they were taken out of the meet before they even got started. They had some wobbles and they had a fall. Their beam scores were not great. But she said there was a lot of escalation in scores as the meet went on. It’s unfortunate if we had a different rotation we might have been able to have a different result. So she’s not the only one that complained about the scores. People thought that the OU beam scores were super high. But OU was ranked 1 last week but now things have changed and LSU is ranked #1. So now it’s LSU, Oklahoma, and Florida third. Meanwhile Florida has been posting, they got another, yet another 198 score. That’s just crazy! And Kytra Hunter got another 10 on vault. I think, some listeners who are not really familiar with NCAA might think this is crazy but I have to say that great thing about college gymnastics is that form is so important. That’s why I have to say, there’s a lot of elites that come in and they don’t really do well right off the bat because you can’t have sloppy form. And there’s so many elites now that have really poor form because you can have difficulty and it outweighs that and you can’t. So when a whole team is averaging 9.9 and 9.85s it’s really because they have beautiful beautiful form. That’s one of the things that people absolutely love about college gymnastics. On the bummer side, Air Force has announced that they are planning to cut the gymnastics team. Yeah I think it’s really too bad because if the government is going to pay for anything it should definitely be gymnastics. I mean come on. We don’t need all these spy ships and NSA stealing everything and spying. Gymnastics is where our funding should go. Tax dollars at work. In fantastic and exciting news, Temple, you know Temple’s men’s program was cut earlier this year but they are still fighting to keep it. And as a fundraiser, they’re doing one of my favorite things ever that every men’s program should do. They’re doing a calendar. I’m so excited! We’ll post the link so you guys can all buy this. You must buy this calendar. It is your gymnerd challenge of the month. You must support this team! They’re putting themselves out there so you can put a little cash out there. It’s a beautiful exchange. So this weekend, I was at the UCLA Stanford meet. And Jen Bricker performed at the end of the meet. She did like a circus, those things that look like giant curtains, she did a performance on those. If you guys aren’t familiar with Jen Bricker’s story, she was born with no legs, given up for adoption, adopted by a great family who told her she could do whatever she wanted so she started to do gymnastics. She became a champion in tumbling even though she had no legs, was competing against able bodied kids and went on to do gymnastics her whole life and her idol was Dominique Moceanu. Well her parents eventually figured out that the biological parents of Jen Bricker were Dominique Moceanu’s parents and they had given her up and Dominique Moceanu didn’t know about this, Jen Bricker didn’t know. And so eventually they finally met. She found out she had sisters and Jen Bricker found out her idol her whole life was really her biological sister. Crazy crazy story. The thing that was so impressive about her, first of all, I was totally wondering about her outfit because she can’t really wear a normal leo. How would it all look? Would it look like extended because she’s like half size? So I was really curious to see what she would wear and I love her outfit. It was beautiful. It was so well done. And then she also did an iron cross, like 100 feet in the air. And that’s really really really freaking hard.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah it’s not easy.


JESSICA: Yeah I really liked her routine. It was super cool. And she had like a line out the door to sign autographs. I left like an hour after the meet was over and there was still a line to sign autographs for her. She’s really cool. I really enjoyed watching her. On the Stanford side, my twins did fantastic in case you were wondering. Oh my God, and you know this is terrible. I can’t remember which one does beam but I think it’s Nicolette, she does a switch leap immediate rebound into a back tuck with perfect form. Perfect form. And I honestly think that Stanford doesn’t do as well as other teams on beam even though they should because the twins, the McNair sisters are so fantastic that they make their teammates’ errors stand out more, especially when it comes to doing a series. Because there’s another person that does a switch to a back tuck and I don’t think she got connection value because the other McNair went before her and literally rebounds out of her switch leap. Name one person who actually rebounds their connecting dance acro that you can remember in the last quad. Anyone?


EVAN: Oh I wasn’t going to say in the last quad.


UNCLE TIM: Nope can’t think of anyone.


JESSICA: Yeah it would be like 15 years ago right?


EVAN: Yeah I was going to say Quan Chin of China used to bounce that beam.


JESSICA: (laughs) bounce that  beam. So the McNair sisters, if you’re not a fan, there’s something wrong! You must love them as much as I do or you are wrong, wrong, wrong. They are just the most fantastic thing. Seeing them in person just brings it out even more. And then you guys, Taylor Rice, I don’t know if you’re familiar with her background. But she is the daughter of Cassie Rice and Mike Rice I think of Vegas at Gym Cats. They were Tasha Schwikert and Jordan Schwikert’s coaches. So she has this like circus gymnastics background because her dad is a circus guy and she is a great performer. Love watching her, absolutely love it. She had the funniest fall, one of the funniest falls I’ve ever seen on beam. She’s great. If you want to know how beam should be done and how a performance should be done, Taylor Rice does it. She’s the example you should show kids in the gym. You should show them Sam Peszek, Nush, and Taylor Rice. I love her on beam. So she does her series, nails her series, perfect back handspring layout. Then she does a step backwards, misses her foot, flailing, falls backwards, boom, hit her tush, looks around like what happened and then just like strikes a pose. It was so funny. It was so hilarious. Literally the whole crowd started cheering and laughing. It was great. She handled it so well. See errors are always an opportunity for entertainment as Taylor Rice exhibited. The other things that really stood out at that meet are that Peszek did a dance through on floor so I think she’s going to be back soon which is exciting. And I think you guys will really like this routine. It’s my favorite that she’s ever done. Nush is back from her mono episode and she missed her longitudinal aerial to immediate full off the side of the beam so she just stopped after the aerial and just turned around and did a back handspring layout to full dismount. Like okay I’m just going to throw this little thing in here. Our friend Dom Palange as in Phalange made his debut as volunteer assistant coach and you guys will love watching him on TV because he has very strong…he communicates his emotions.


EVAN: Emotions. He has a lot of feelings.


JESSICA: He has a lot of feelings.


EVAN: And he handles it in such a good way.


JESSICA: He was a gymnast but he went into cheerleading and not the rah rah for boys cheerleading. But cheerleading that’s actually a sport where people cheer for you, you don’t cheer for other people. So he was part of a world championship winning cheer team where you like throw people in the air a million times and everyone on the team can do like a standing full. He’s very good at giving good face as they say in the biz, in the cheerleading biz. He brings that to the sidelines of UCLA meets and it’s very very entertaining.


EVAN: But what he’s also very good at is giving really good technical coaching advice. He is a personal friend of mine but in addition to that but watching Dom do gymnastics, it was like oh when I try doing that, it does not look that good. Like it probably won’t ever look that good. His ability to make every skill involve your whole body and I feel like he’s able to translate that into coaching.


JESSICA: Yes he’s a great get for UCLA and he’s been coaching with Chris Waller at his gym for quite a while which is where Gabby is training. She’s very lucky to have him there.


UNCLE TIM: To tie some loose ends together here for listeners who might have no clue who we’re talking about. So he worked out I believe at Universal which is where Danell Leyva worked out and he has competed in the Winter Cup in the past on floor. I believe he competed last in 2010. And he’s also, if I’m not mistaken, Travis Wall’s partner or boyfriend. I don’t know which term they use. And so that’s kind of why he’s famous. And he’s also perhaps got the world’s best standing Arabian on balance beam.


JESSICA: We do post his fantastic workout videos quite often. I personally request them from him every week and throw things out. He’s the kind of person you can be like hey Dom do a full twisting back handspring to an Arabian to a blah blah blah and he tries it because he’s like a unicorn that way. So we’re very excited. We’re all fans of his. And we really like him as a person too. And he’s a great coach. So we’re very very excited that UCLA has him and that he puts these great videos up. So if you guys want to follow NCAA, there’s some great sites that do really fantastic summaries each week. One is USA Gymnastics, they do a great one. They, also what I love about USA Gymnastics, their summary each week, is that they include the sport of tumbling and acrobatics because that is in fact a college sport now. So I really like that they include that. And The Couch Gymnast also does great recaps. And also a reminder that NCAA tickets are on sale now. They are in Birmingham, Alabama this year so you guys can get your fantastic seats. Quick news on the Master’s Gymnastics front. The British Veteran’s Championships are going to take place at Lilleshall this year. So if you guys don’t know about Lilleshall, it is this beautiful like country estate but it’s a place they hold events and it’s also the national training center for a bunch of sports including gymnastics. You have seen the videos when Louis Smith showed his room and it was an extra big room when he trained there. So that’s where the Veterans Championships are happening. All you have to be is over 18. It doesn’t matter your ability or experience level is. So if you’re in the UK or you want to go there for vacation just to see Lilleshall and compete in the same place as Beth Tweddle and Louis Smith and Jenni Pinches and all of our absolute favorites work out all the time, seriously considering this. It’s November 1st of this year so you have plenty of time to plan and oh my God tickets are super cheap that time of year. I’m seriously considering this! I need to go to this. It’s going to be so amazing! And then also the Brillington World’s Master’s Championships which are a really fancy name for a super fun adult  gymnastics meet that’s happening in Canada. It’s coming up. There’s details on the adult gymnastics website so check that out. It’s Canada so the meet’s freaking awesome. They give out bonus fake money and there’s like beer for the winners. It’s just you know Canada. We love them.


UNCLE TIM: Well we also love our listeners and we hope that they love us so before we get to the gymternet news and your letters, here’s how to support our show. You can always review us on iTunes or Stitcher. In the past, you guys asked for a little button to help donate and we have that on our website so there’s a donate button and all money raised goes directly to the show to improving our sound equipment, covering competitions and paying for hosting costs etc. So we appreciate all donations. You can also shop in our Amazon store. Remember as long as you start through our Amazon link on our website, a little portion of what you buy goes back to us. And with that, let’s go over to gymternet news. Full Twist this week posted a Ten Minutes with Rebecca Bross interview. And a lot of people on the gymternet have been excited about this interview because they’ve been wondering what’s been going on with Rebecca. And she doesn’t delve into too many details but she is coaching right now at the Dallas location for WOGA and she’s trying to decide where she wants to go to college. As you might remember, she gave up her eligibility, her NCAA eligibility because she went pro so she won’t be able to compete but she’s trying to decide where she just wants to study. Jess, what’s going on with Louis Smith and Dan Keatings?


JESSICA: Very exciting! So their gym just got this funding to do an expansion so to celebrate this funding and the beginning of the expansion, Dan Keatings and Louis Smith both performed on pommel horse. The whole gym had a little exhibition and they did pommel horse and Louis Smith just looked ecstatic. He looked over the moon to be performing again and having done well in his routine. And it was so great to see Dan Keatings back. You know, he’s one of the stars of British gymnastics. He’s one of the first ever to medal at a world championships for Great Britain. And you know he had the injury right before the Olympic selection and then didn’t make the Olympic team. He was heartbroken. It was in his home country. He was one of the greats for Britain. It’s just so fantastic to see them both back and looking really excited and happy to be back so yay for them. I’ll put those videos up for you guys to check out. Also in the public eye this week, Shawn Johnson, what’s happening with her?


EVAN: Well she’s commentating on the Big Ten Network. I don’t know. I feel like she holds the microphone with two hands and just smiling her smile and of course saying what she says. But props to Shawn for being pretty honest. She said I have a hard time being too critical. She doesn’t want to be too harsh which for a lot of viewers is probably fine. For me, why are you here Shawn? What are you even saying? I think critique is inherent in our sport. You’re being judged and as a commentator you’re sort of serving as a conduit to explain what the judges are seeing and why they’re scoring the athletes that they are. So I just want Shawn to step it up a little bit. I mean she’s great obviously, America’s sweetheart. Have you guys seen her commentate at all? Or heard her?


JESSICA: Yeah, she’s really really positive. And I think this is a problem that Nastia is having a little bit too is that they have been the victims of unfair commentary in a way, things that were just unnecessary and so I think they’re so positive because they never want to do what was done to them. So I think it’s going to take a little while for them to work out how to critique without making it personal.


EVAN: Right and it’s a very fine line to walk because Shawn Johnson also mentions in an interview she did with the Des Moines Register, she said she’s still best friends with some of the athletes that she is commentating about. And so I can understand how that would be difficult but you know, you got a job to do so hopefully they find that balance. And I do think that Nastia, and trust me I’m the first one to be like Nastia what are you doing? Her first gig, wasn’t it the American Cup last year? Was that her first big foray?


JESSICA: Yeah I think so.


EVAN: I felt like she was whispering the whole time and she was doing a really close talk into the mic. Am I right Tim, Tim, Al, Tim? Just finding her voice, literally, actually finding her commentating voice. But she’s had a lot of opportunities to kind of hone those skills so I think Nastia’s on the right track. Shawn will probably just need some time.


JESSICA: Yep exactly. And I think one of the great things is that Nastia has been doing this All Around Sochi during the Winter Olympics and she’s done a fantastic job. I love watching her pieces. And she’s so comfortable in front of the camera now. I really feel like this gave her the time to work out the kinks kind of and really get more comfortable in front of the camera. It has been so enjoyable to watch this. And one of the things she did that was directly related to gymnastics and gymnastics fans and questions we have is she did this thing about Russian culture. And one of the questions was why don’t Russians smile. And now just that question itself made a lot of people really angry because people were saying yes if you’re from the communist days of the Soviet Union, that was normal not to smile. People just didn’t run around smiling all the time. But if the younger generation now in Russia, they’re not Soviet, they’re Russians and they’re very westernized and it’s normal to smile and that’s not a weird thing. But she kind of explained that people always said that she was very Russian when she competed because she didn’t smile. It’s just interesting how we perceive things I think that Americans don’t travel a ton outside the country so it’s sometimes hard for us to take into account cultural differences and not through our own cultural lens and that’s just super difficult no matter what. I’m really glad that she did this because it explained a lot of commie bitch face which is one of our favorite things about the Soviet gymnasts and how they compete. What did you guys think about this? Uncle Tim, I know that you have very in depth thoughts about this.

UNCLE TIM: Well I just think it’s a silly question. I’m just sick of people saying, well it’s very essential.  It’s like all Russians don’t smile. All Soviets don’t smile. I think it’s foolish to be like oh yeah Nastia you didn’t smile because you’re Russian.  You inherited this not smiling because you’re Russian, I don’t know. I don’t think that when I’m working that I’m a person who smiles a lot while I’m working. I want to get my stuff done and get out of there and just be done and I’m not Russian. And I’m not even from a former Soviet country. I don’t know. I just think that’s kind of ridiculous.

JESSICA: But it is one of your superpowers to have commie bitch face though. Evan go ahead.


EVAN: I think it goes back to a topic we kind of covered on another recent show where we were kind of being exposed to the Russian media and what they were saying about some of the American gymnasts and how some of those things were unsavory to American listeners but for Russians, it’s very different. I can remember being a baby nugget gym nerd watching NBC broadcasts and it was like Svetlana Khorkina pissed about something. Svetlana Boginskaya made me afraid of what was going to happen because they were portrayed in that light. I can totally see those cultural norms or what’s more widely accepted kind of translate into what’s portrayed by the media. It’s probably like oh these American floozies just laughing and having so much fun when there’s kind of a serious matter at hand. I think I see both sides of it. I  do think it’s a debate in which NBC was like we need something that Nastia can talk about and let’s try and make that happen. It might have been a cause of that. But interesting discussion nonetheless. Obviously it catalyzed something within Uncle Tim’s sexy data brain to boil in rage and lead us to this discussion.


UNCLE TIM: Speaking of things that are boiling, there’s a lot of protesting going on in Ukraine right now. In November, the Ukrainian president rejected an accord with the European Union and a lot of people were upset because they wanted to become part of the EU. So they protested and I think it’s on February 18th that the violence really escalated. Policemen were shot and they had to call in the riot police. As a result, Ukraine had to cancel its Stars Above the River meet which most artistic fans probably have never heard of but it’s a fairly famous acro meet if I’m not mistaken. On the artistic side, as far as I know, the Ukrainian men are still training. There have been many shirtless photos of Oleg Stepko and Oleg Verniaev on Instagram in the gym so I’m assuming that they are still training in spite of what’s going on in Kiev.


EVAN: Meanwhile the Ukrainian women have not been training for the last five years.


JESSICA: Can we get Igor on Instagram? What’s going on? If someone knows where Igor is, where his Instagram is can you please let me know as soon as possible? Even if I have to download VU or whatever the Russian version is of whatever I need


EVAN: We can put a Cyrillic keyboard


JESSICA: I will do it, to get videos and pictures of him, not a problem.


{Sound Byte}


JESSICA: It’s time for mail call, your letters to us. So the first one comes from Stacy F. Stacy says, “Okay so I am by no means a MAG code expert. So I am willing to rely on Uncle Tim to correct the assumptions I’m making. But the code says pauses of two seconds or longer before acrobatic series or elements are not permitted. And in the table, this is listed as a tenth deduction. So they basically have the corner rule like women do although it’s not clearly enforced very well at all. I’d really like to see men get composition requirements like the women do. For example, you’ve talked on your show before about how men are not required to do double saltos. I know the technical committees are different but I think the addition of a couple requirements for different types of skills would make men’s floor more interesting and more artistic. Anywho, I love the show and I’m so happy I get to gym nerd out every week. –Stacy.” So gentlemen, what are your thoughts? Uncle Tim?  


UNCLE TIM: Well I guess the question is what constitutes a pause? I’m guessing that our judges will write in and let us know what a pause is. Is the man wipe when you’re technically moving still a pause or is it not? We did notice some men pausing for a long, long time in the corner at the Winter Cup didn’t we Evan?

EVAN: That we did. It was almost like a wait for the bell. The bell was the warning but they were like I can’t go without the bell.

UNCLE TIM: Exactly. So I don’t know. I guess they do kind of have a corner rule. But it’s not the same as the women. With the women, as soon as you get in the corner, you need to move on. So when I asked that question last week, I was talking more about the fact that you had to get to the corner, turn around and do another tumbling pass. But yeah I do see the confusion. Evan what do you think? Is the man wipe technically a pause or not?

EVAN: I would say definitely no. It usually involves your whole body. And while it may look like a resting skill, you know I like Stacy’s thought process, but what I really feel like she’s suggesting to only be satisfied by an overhaul of the code and a lot of diversification of where skills are classified. So Stacy, to kind of answer your question, this is probably something that they’re trying to work toward and have tried to work toward but there’s just no happy medium at pacifying enough skills to translate into a requirement. Staring a new requirement group, there’s the group one elements which are not acrobatic. A big part of men’s gymnastics is strength. So you can highlight a strength element or something like a pommel horse element or something like an Endo which is when you jump up and then essentially pike your body and go up into a heel stretch position. That’s called an Endo and you can do things like that that don’t necessarily equate to women’s skills. So I think that men do try and satisfy those in a way but it just is different unfortunately but realistically.

JESSICA: Can I just ask for a second? Are there more variety of, I’ll the man wipe a dance kind of, it’s not acrobatic, it’s not a scale, it’s not a strength move so I don’t want to say it’s dance.  But I’ve never seen anything else equivalent to the man wipe except the very slow half turn to putting your arms over your head. Is there another version of the man wipe? Other options? The forward roll to your knee?

EVAN: Yeah I mean you can do…I mean that was one of my favorite things to do is to make up stuff on how to get to the corner. You can do a simple roll to one knee, you can do a roll to both knees. Some people are like oh you have to do a press. You do not have to do a press. You can literally put your hands on the ground with your feet up straight and stand up and do another turn. Oh man the options are really limitless. Obviously those aren’t skills and might not look as stylized as other things but…you know when I competed in the NCAA a couple of times on floor, there was no time limit, like as in none. There was no time limit.

JESSICA: Oh that’s right.

EVAN: You could make your routine as long as you needed to feel rested, to feel set to go before your passes. It doesn’t stop me from falling a lot on floor, but I was probably more rested than if I was trying to cram all this stuff in like they are now. Thankfully I did not have a time limit to work with.

JESSICA: So could you like just legit do a grapevine and shimmy and do your tumbling pass?


EVAN:  I don’t know. You threw me off with the grapevine.

UNCLE TIM: You threw me off with the shimmy.

JESSICA: I mean why don’t we see that kind of stuff?

UNCLE TIM: Well men’s boobs don’t jiggle first of all. Let’s address the shimmying. I don’t know why. I mean there are certain transition skills that are more used like the chasse, also a cartwheel sometimes into the corner, sometimes a hitch kick but yeah. I mean there’s certain skills that people do. The other way I was thinking for gymnasts to catch their breath is via the splits. That’s also another way that gymnasts will catch their breasts, breath (Jessica laughs) is to raise their arms up and look up to the sky and then look back down and then hold it. I think that’s what some gymnasts also do for catching breath.


JESSICA: It’s all about catching those breasts, while you’re in the splits.


EVAN: I need to catch my breasts. I always let them drop.


JESSICA: I think Uncle Tim was just having a flashback to when Danell Leyva did his middle splits and all the women in the audience lost it. That was the Freudian slip that was really happening right there. But I just think there’s some very manly dance moves


UNCLE TIM: Like a shimmy

JESSICA: Not a shimmy! Okay that was just the first thing that, but like you know a….I don’t know. A man move like the Roger Rabbit

EVAN: Jessica’s going to have to work on this

JESSICA: I’m going to think of some things.

EVAN: You’ll think of something. But you do not need to finish it tonight.

JESSICA: Oh God okay. Let’s discuss a very serious wrong that is happening in the NCAA right now. Lindsey Cheek’s vault. One of our listeners, Marcus, brought this up on Facebook. And the fact that there is this 10 fest going on. Everyone is getting a 10 but Lindsey Cheek has not gotten a 10 on vault. We’ll put this video up. You guys tell us what you think. I am outraged. Outraged that she didn’t get a 10 on this vault. I mean unless sparkles flew out of her butt, I don’t know what else you could do on this vault to make it more perfect. It is divine.

UNCLE TIM: The only comment I want to add is the fact that the vault happened in I think January so it’s really before the 10 fest started. I’ll release the video that we have that he posted on our Facebook wall. And so I think it might have been a little bit before the judges really got loosy goosy and started giving out all their 10s.

EVAN: Yeah and also the angle. I know that Lindsey is a great vaulter. She has that Kim Zmeskal-esque technique where she flares out and opens up but it’s a really traditional, I was going to say maybe she has a leg separation coming on, but the replay shows that she did not. So I would say that could have been a 10. I don’t know that I would venture to say that it could have been a 10. But you know, on any given day, you could go with a 10 for that. I would be okay seeing that as a 10.

UNCLE TIM: I think it also depends on what the gymnast before her did. Often times in NCAA, it’s not a question of being perfect. It’s about being better than the gymnast before you. So if the gymnast before you gets a 9.95 and your vault is clearly better than that one, then you get a 10. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect or not. So yes some people are outraged and Jess and I know that you’re a person with a lot of rage. So what’s on the rage-o-meter this week?  


JESSICA: Emma in England, one of our favorite contributors who was on the show from Antwerp. You guys will remember her. She wrote in and told me about this girl Jasmine who’s a gymnast who’s 5’9 and people have been totally giving her crap saying you’re too tall for gymnastics. Who do you think you are doing gymnastics? You’re so tall. You’re never going to be good at this. Why don’t you give up? I was so upset about this! It makes me so mad. Like why would you ever say something like that to a person? People don’t think about the intention behind what they say. Aren’t you too tall for gymnastics? If you say that to someone, if you say that to someone, what you’re really saying is who do you think you are? I don’t think you can do anything and I don’t believe in you and you’re making a fool of yourself trying this. And why would you ever say that to someone? It’s just mean! It totally makes me pissed! So what did make me happy though was that Emma sent her our last couple of episodes  where we talked about Sarie Morrison and Sarah Townsend at Iowa and that made her feel so much better. It encouraged her so the rage-o-meter has a happy ending this week!


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 using the code Gymcast.

EVAN: So contact us because we love being contacted. Who doesn’t? We’re like Jodie Foster in Contact. Come on. Give us something. We want you to review, discuss, and watch something that we post and you can give us feedback on that. What did you like? What did you not like? What should we keep talking about? You can also call or email us. We are here for you. So the email that you can reach us at is You can also leave us a voicemail by calling 415-800-3191. None of us will answer. You might think it’s like a celebrity telethon where we all have a shift through the night and we might answer but we never will. So feel free to speak your mind and tell us what you need to say. You can contact us anywhere without fee from anywhere in the world by using Skype. Our username there is Gymcastic Podcast. Follow us on Twitter. We are very chatty. Uncle Tim does data. Jessica just loves man bodies and I am not into boobs.

JESSICA: Man pecs.

EVAN: Yeah sure that happens.

JESSICA: That’s going to do it for us this week. Remember to answer our gym nerd poll. Tell us who you think is going to win the American Cup. Later this week we will have the fantastic, this is like a wheeze a thon laughing episode with Jenny Hansen. I love Jenny and I know her and she cracks me up so much and we had so much fun chatting. So you’ll hear how she became the winningest NCAA all around champion three times in a row without a team to support her at NCAA’s so check back for that later this week. And until then, I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics

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

EVAN: And I’m Evan. Find me on Twitter @yoev.

JESSICA: Thanks for listening. See you later.



[expand title=”Episode 80: 2014 American Cup: Recap & Photo Essay”]

JESSICA: This week: everything you wanted to know about the Nastia Liukin Cup, Marta commentating, and the American Cup.




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


JESSICA: This is episode 80 from March 5th, 2014. I’m Jessica, from Masters Gymnastics.


LAUREN: And I’m Lauren, from


JESSICA: And this is the best gymnastics podcast of all time, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet! The first thing I want to start with, something very exciting. We haven’t had a contest in quite a while, but now we are bringing our contest back, and—I’m so excited about this, because this is something everyone does, so all we want you to do is take a picture of it. Or a video! The contest is your gymitations. We want to see your imitation, your gymitations. All you have to do to enter is to post yourself, or someone you know, doing an imitation of your favorite gymnast. It can be dance, it can be a pose, it can be a face, it can be actual gymnastics skills. Tag it with #gymitation and tag Gymcastic in it. It can be on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and you’ll be entered into the contest.  We’re doing this all through March, and the prizes are: a USA Gymnastics official polo shirt from Under Armor—they’re very nice, I have to say. These are like the kind that are like the sweat-wicking fancy material. They’re very nice. They are size medium, so you can go to USA Gymnastics’ site, their store, and check out what the sizes are. Three of those we have to give away. And then—Lauren, did you know there’s a chalk shortage in the US, especially in the East Coast right now?


LAUREN: Like, for all kinds of chalk or gymnastics chalk?


JESSICA: For…magnesium carbonate.


LAUREN: Oh wow, I did not know that.


JESSICA: Yeah. I didn’t really know either, but I guess someone—one of our listeners will explain this, I’m sure, but it has something to do I think with, like, how there’s—like, there’s been so many storms, that there’s a salt shortage too, from, like salting the roads and all this stuff. Somehow, that has to do with chalk. That’s my understanding with it, but if I’m like totally wrong, I’m sure one our listeners will let me know.




JESSICA: So we also have real, honest to God chalk from the P&G Championships from 2013, which means that, I don’t know, McKayla Maroney and Simone Biles probably actually touched this chalk. And if you are—no, I have no idea. It’s still in the box, but [LAUREN LAUGHS]. If you’re at a gym with a chalk [LAUGHING] shortage, we are going to help you out. You can win chalk that was actually, almost, possibly used at the P&G Championships. So, all you have to do is tag us with gymitation, and tag us Gymcastic on one of your social media sites, and let us see you doing your favorite gymnastics imitation. Tell us who you’re imitating, too! So, [LAUGHING] we’ll judge the best ones. I can’t wait to see these.


Okay. So, first things first, let’s talk about Nastia Cup, one of my favorite meets, because I love how she does this whole event. And Lauren, you were there, so tell us, tell me just about the whole thing. I mean, she turned the whole place pink, right? What were your impressions of the meet as a whole?


LAUREN: Oh, I actually love the Nastia Cup. I went to the very first one, and I’ve been to every single one since, so like, I have this very like, special, admiration for the Nastia Cup. I love that Nastia does it, I love that they get to do a level 10 meet basically on a podium, I love that they get to do it in a huge arena. I think this was like the most, the biggest, like, attendance record or something that the Nastia Cup has had?




LAUREN: The first year there weren’t that many, there were like, parents and things like that. I love that it’s come so far in the last few years. And this was also like…no one made a big deal of this, but it was the fifth annual Nastia Cup, so I thought that was cool as well.

This year was different because they split the juniors and seniors, which I’m guessing was because, aside from Lexie Priessman winning the first year, it’s always been like a 17-year-old-ish won, 17-18, someone who’s like, pretty much on her way to college.




LAUREN: Which, you know, you have 17-18-year-olds competing with like, 11-year-olds.




LAUREN: So it doesn’t really come off as very fair when you have all these tiny little kids. So I think that’s the reason for the split. So they had 6 winners instead of 3. Which was cool, and then, you know, we all saw both junior and senior divisions ended with ties and co-champions…


JESSICA: Which is the best! I love it!


LAUREN: Drama, and… [LAUGHING]


JESSICA: Don’t you love, though, I mean after all that’s happened to Nastia and how unfair all these, like—why can’t we have ties in the Olympics—that she, at her own meet, was like, “No, we’re having ties. There will be no tiebreakers.” Don’t you love that though?


LAUREN: Yes, and that’s, that’s the best thing! And even after they broke the ties, she was like, “Uhh, what?” And then she unbroke them, pretty much.




LAUREN: And the thing with breaking the ties from what I was told, because someone came around and said, “These are the ties, this is how they broke the ties.” And then all of sudden there was an announcement on the podium and they’re saying “Co-Champions,” and everyone at the, like the media table was so confused. But they said they were going to break them because of the trophy situation, because…




LAUREN: …they give out small to the third place winner, medium to second, and large to first. So they were like, concerned with how that would work out; the fairness of giving a medium-sized trophy to a first place winner. But I think the one who, if they had broken the ties, the girls who would have come in second got the medium trophies, but they’re still considered a co-champion. So…


JESSICA: That’s beautiful. I love that.




JESSICA: Because honestly, who cares what size you get if you get to be the co-champion, like…


LAUREN: Right.


JESSICA: Ties are awesome. I just love that. And I love that there was confusion, and Nastia was like, “No! It’s my meet, we will not do this!” [LAUGHING] It made me so happy!


LAUREN: Yeah. Yeah. I liked it a lot, and they were all, like, super-excited in the media afterwards, even though all of them were like, “How much longer do we have to sit here and do media?” because they were all so excited that they won. [JESSICA LAUGHS] And they were all so happy for one another, and you could tell how close knit—I mean, there were a few Texas girls as well. I think four of them were Texas girls? So you could tell how close-knit that, like, level 10 community is.




LAUREN: They were all super supportive of each other, which is awesome to me. There was no, “How come she got the bigger trophy, because we’re both first place.” There was none of that, which was…I’ve just been watching a lot of Toddlers and Tiaras recently, [LAUGHS] so my ideas of, like, who deserves what are a little skewed. So to see actual, I don’t know…


JESSICA: Sportsmanship?


LAUREN: Sportsmanship, yeah, is awesome. [LAUGHS]


JESSICA: [LAUGHING] Oh my God. So, how, what were some of the routines, or some of the athletes that really stood out to you? Who were your favorites?


LAUREN: My favorite? My absolute favorite was this tiny little princess named Morgan Hurd, who I’m completely obsessed with.


JESSICA: She was so cute!


LAUREN: And this is actually hilarious, because I was tweeting about her all night long, and was, like, almost creepy in reading the tweets back. And then yesterday I was looking through our replies and she favorited every single creepy tweet that I wrote about her.




LAUREN: She’s like, 11. So I was…I mean, like, they were all really nice, like “Oh my God, I love this kid!” and blah blah blah. But like, I think that at one point I was like, “Oh my God, I want to kidnap her, she’s amazing.” [BOTH LAUGHING] So…but she was my favorite, she wears glasses, she was in a group with all…well, I guess it was half juniors, half seniors, but the seniors were all very tall, as were the juniors in her group. She cannot be any taller than 3 foot 8, max. Like max…


JESSICA: Honestly, the low bar looks like she could stand under it with her arms fully extended and not touch it.


LAUREN: [LAUGHS] Yes. Yes! She’s just the tiniest person. And it’s like, my favorite thing in the world. And she’s also really good.


JESSICA: Really good!


LAUREN: She’s from Delaware, she’s a first year level 10, a 2001 baby. I’m pretty sure elite is on her mind. But I love that she’s from Delaware, because what gymnast is from Delaware?




JESSICA: Right, nobody.


LAUREN: Yeah, so she…I’m just really excited about her because she has a lot of really good basics and she’ll like…warm ups, if you view her bar routine, like, she’s flying all over the place, but then in competition she looked great, she pulled it together and she really showed that she has, like, the mindset to do these big competitions, even though, like I said, this is her first year doing level 10. So I’m really excited about her, even if she didn’t show a ton of super big skills. I think she just has a lot going for her.


A lot of people did have really big skills though. One who I had never heard of and then completely blew my mind was Olivia Karas. She had a really nice yurchenko one and a half on vault, but like, I kind of turned over to floor just as she was finishing up a piked double Arabian, and I was like…




LAUREN: Where does that come from? [LAUGHS] And so I had to, like, seek out her name, because I was just amazed by some of the skills that she was doing, which, she was really good at her piked double Arabian. And yeah, I haven’t, like, looked her up to see if she was attached anywhere for college yet, she’s an older one, so I doubt, like, she has elite in her future, considering that road, but yeah, she had some really good stuff. Yeah, I think there were a couple others. Rachel Flam, who came in first for the juniors, she’s trying elite this summer. She had a full twisting double layout off of bars. Kelsey Knox, she had a really pretty bars, her extensions very Nastia, so…




LAUREN: And she’s blonde, so obviously there’s a lot of, like, Nastia comparisons, but, like, yeah. Her extension was really pretty. And another elite, kind of, I guess hopeful, is Bailey Ferrer. She also had a full twisting double layout off bars and four floor passes, which is different from most had three. So I’m pretty sure…I think she got injured last summer, so I’m pretty sure she’s trying elite again this summer. But yeah, I think those are my favorites in terms of, like, people I was just totally shocked by. Because, like, Mac Brannon, like, she was amazing. She was, from start to finish, everything was polished and clean. But you kind of knew that going in, that she’d be amazing, and this is her third year doing it, and third time’s a charm, Alex McMurty proved that last year. So I kind of like figured that Bannon would be on the mark this year, but those four, I think, that I mentioned, or five, four or five, were just really outstanding and surprising.


JESSICA: I think, so just to give everybody the, the full picture here, so the senior co-champions are MacKenzie Bannon of, she goes to Capitol, in Austin, Texas, not the capital in DC, and then McKenna Kelley, who is Mary Lou Retton, who was 1984 all around champion, Bela’s first star in the US. She also is the co-champion, and she looked awesome. I loved watching her.




JESSICA: She’s a competitor. She’s going to be amazing at LSU. They’re really, really lucky they got her. Like, she is incredible. And then in the junior division it was Rachel Flam, the one you were just talking about, of Houston, she’s from Stars, and then Lauren Ramirez from Arizonia, Arizona, from Gold Medal Gymnastics, so yeah. That, that meet is just so fun. I love the trophies, the torches, I love that Nastia designs their leos, and I really liked their leos this year. Like, pink is not my color, but, the fact that they…those leos are really cool. Like, I could see those being an Oscar gown, I really liked them. [Lauren LAUGHS] We’ll put…


LAUREN: Yeah, I think these are my favorite Nastia leos since the first year when they were just, like, really simple.




LAUREN: But this year, they were, they weren’t simple but they were awesome. They were designed really well, I thought.


JESSICA: For those of you at home who experienced this live, it was the most amazing, most groundbreaking, first time ever in the history of gymnastics and television: Marta Karoyli did commentary with Tim Daggett, and Nastia, and John Roethlisberger. I was losing my mind. I don’t know how they convinced her to do this, if they didn’t tell her it was, like, how many people were watching, and what that it was. It was awesome. It was also like, honestly, I think her like six minutes doing commentary did more to boost the reputation and image of USA Gymnastics than anything they’ve done in the last twenty years. Like, she was endearing, she was kind, she was sweet, she was positive, she had really positive comments on everybody that she talked about. You know, it was a little hard to understand her, you can see, you know, I think when you’re a perfectionist like that it’s hard to not have total command of the language and feel confident talking on, on television, but she honestly was so cute, and she had really interesting things to say. And she was so cute, with one of the girls she’s like, “She’s my little project!” [LAUREN LAUGHS] I loved listening to her. It was really, really amazing. I hope they do that with her again. It was totally adorable. I loved it. Did—do you have any insight into how this happened? Did you see what went on in the background over there?


LAUREN: I don’t—I didn’t even know that it had happened! And then, I can’t…I was updating Twitter and then I think I saw posts on Twitter saying “Marta’s commentating,” and everyone was kind of freaking out. But I couldn’t, like, they were all the way on the other side of the arena, which, we were by bars and they were by, like, the start of the vault runway, so yeah, I didn’t know, I had no idea. So everyone who I talked to was like, “Oh my God, it was great! It was like the best thing that has ever happened!”


JESSICA: Yeah, it was really, really great. I totally loved it. And then they have Valeri come on. Of course Valeri is hilarious too, because Valeri says like three sentences, and they’re like “So,” Tim’s like, “So, you if notice anything when you watch these, say something,” and dead silence. “So what did you…”, uh uh, dead silence. You know, he’s like, only will he respond to his daughter, and he’s totally like, “I am not going to give away any of my ancient Soviet secrets.” Like, [LAUGHING] he was locked up, like, a vault. [LAUGHS] It was hilarious! Like, he was not going to say anything. Oh my God, he was sitting there with this, like, look on his face, like he was coaching, I just, like, oh my God, it was all just so gym nerd fantasy. And then, oh! And Mary Lou Retton came on, and totally [LAUGH], it was so funny.


LAUREN: All I heard was that she screamed, like every single time her daughter, like, did a flip.


JESSICA: [LAUGHING] She was so, oh my God. Like, everything you hear… Okay, imagine if Aly Raisman’s parents had been on, in the broadcast booth. That’s what it was like. You could just tell how proud she was of her daughter, and how well she wanted her to do, but like, in a good, positive way. And she kind of talked about some things that, like, she had talked to her daughter’s coaches about because she understood. Like, she had also had problems with bars, it just wasn’t natural, she’s a power gymnast, it just wasn’t natural for her to swing. And she was like, “But there’s other things where I just don’t talk to them at all, because it’s her gymnastics, and I need to stay out of it, and so…” It was very interesting, every once and a while her daughter, they have the same body type, I mean, really, they could be…




JESSICA: You know, they are like carbon copies of each other. And she would say, you know, she generally stayed out of her gymnastics, but sometimes her daughter will bring home videos of herself and ask, you know, “Here, will you look at this and tell me what I’m doing wrong,” and she can help her because, you know, she understands that same body type. And it was just really, really cute, and you could just see…it really gave you insight into what it’s like, the mind of a parent who cares…


LAUREN: Mm hmm.


JESSICA: …about their child’s health and welfare and safety watching them do gymnastics. [LAUGHS] I loved it. [LAUGHS] I loved it. And she was horribly embarrassed.


LAUREN: Yeah, that was the thing I want to go back and listen to, because I feel like… and her daughter was up, she was there for the press stuff, and she was so, just expressive and excited and like, probably one of the better interviewers, interviewees in gymnastics. And I feel like a lot of that reminded me of her mom, especially from what I’ve heard about people in terms of how her mom responded to the whole Nastia Liukin Cup kind of thing. So they seem like they’re like, the same person, like, just in terms of their personality and body type and everything. So I loved that.


JESSICA: Like, do you mean, like, that her mom was really excited that she qualified?


LAUREN: Yeah. Well, ‘cause she was talking about how her mom took a video of her when she found out she qualified. And she’s, like, sobbing in the video and she’s like, “Oh my God, I’m making, like, the ugliest crying face…”




LAUREN: “…My mom’s, like, screaming in the background.” They’re not like, they’re… Mary Lou’s obviously is gymnastics royalty, and her daughter is, therefore, a princess, and so… INAUDIBLE OVER LAUGHING]


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Therefore.


LAUREN: [LAUGHS] Therefore. So you’d think they’d be like, “Oh yeah, of course you qualified. We’re royalty, you know, it was just going to happen.” But they have, like, this reaction you’d expect from any level ten who just qualified to the biggest competition probably of her, if not life than season. So I feel like that’s how, like… People are probably surprised, too, that people who have this history in the sport are still really kind of down-to-earth about it. When there are other people who don’t have that history who are just, like, “Oh, the Olympic trials, ho hum. I made it again.” [JESSICA LAUGHS]. So…but I feel like I kind of love that about them, that they’re, like, genuinely just cool people.


JESSICA: Ah, that’s so good to hear. That definitely came across. So the night after. So the tradition is the Nastia Cup is on Friday, and then on Saturday is the American Cup. And the American Cup has now become an official FIG World Cup event, which means that you have to be in the top ten in the world to qualify or be selected to go to one of these meets. And it’s part of the World Cup series. What’s complicated about the World Cup series, which, I don’t know why, there must be some reason they do this, like sponsorships or whatever, because there’s a great purse at the end of this if you win it. I mean, it’s a great way to make a living as a professional gymnast. You… the, the, the World Cup series spans two years. So it doesn’t start in 2014, it starts in 2013 and ends in 2014, so this is one of the part of the series, it will end in Tokyo later this year. So it’s great to see that, you know, I hope that because it’s an official FIG event now some of the SCAM stuff goes down. I think that the scoring was very fair and I think that you could see the difference.




JESSICA: Like you were only allowed to have one coach on the, on the competition floor. So like, when Brenna Dowell was out there competing, you know, Armine was nowhere to be seen, because only one coach was allowed out there. So, you know, the cameras followed her back, and Brenna had to, you know, run into back behind the black curtains to go find her coach. So, you know, what did you think, knowing that it’s, it’s FIG event now. How, how did you see the difference?


LAUREN: I mean, even though, I think in 2011, I think that was the year Mustafina came along. That year was the messy, like, Jordyn won with a fall kind of year, or dead hang, whatever happened on bars. So even though it had become a World Cup there were still issues that caused people to call it SCAM. And then in 2012 like Aly…well, Aly I thought rightfully beat Iordache, but some people still complained about that, so anyway. Now I feel like, I just feel like this year it was a more even field. The trend has been for the top gymnasts internationally from worlds will turn it down either because they’re saving themselves for later in the season or for whatever reason, so you end up the absolute two best Americans, and then amazing athletes from other countries, but not necessarily either those who were in the top eight or those who were maybe like just sort of outside of it. And so this year, because both Kyla and Simone, who are world gold and silver medalists couldn’t be there, you have Ebee and Brenna, who are in their own right amazing but not the best in the world, or at least in terms of, like, having won world medals. So I feel like, because there was that, like, there wasn’t as much of a divide between the international athletes and the American athletes going in, I thought that already set it up to be a little bit more fair. But then I thought that compared to previous years the judging was also a lot more sane.

JESSICA: Mm hmm, I agree.

LAUREN: In previous years, I think that, yeah, like even in 2011 they, Wieber and Mustafina both did amanars. And Mustafina’s was, like, not atrocious, but it was pretty bad. And she got, like, the same execution score as Jordyn, and I was like… I was sitting with Nicole for that, and we were both like, “Are you kidding me? What’s going on?” [JESSICA LAUGHS] And the judges were, like, back and forth between Jordyn and Aliya, like, not judging either one of them correctly. So I feel, like, even if it’s not, like, pro-American it’s still really messy. And this year I didn’t find that at all. I mean, there were a couple were I actually, for the Americans, I was like, “Oh, that’s going to get a 15,” like I thought that with Ebee on floor, and then she got a 14.5, and I was like, “Oh my God. That was like, really conservative of them.”


JESSICA: Mm hmm. And…


LAUREN: And I was like, so shocked.


JESSICA: Did you notice when…I don’t know if you heard this one, Ebee gave her comments, and she might have said this same thing to the rest of the media, but when she gave her comments on TV, she said, “I’m really…I’ve been part of several of these World Cup events around the world and I’m so happy to have won another one, FIG World Cup event.” Like, she really made a point of pointing out that this is not the olden days, and she did not want anybody taking any…


LAUREN: Right.


JESSICA: Anything away from her victory where she won by like, three points. And I was like, “Oh, don’t worry. That’s not going to happen.” [LAUGHS] You totally earned it.


LAUREN: This is like her fifth one of these. Like, she did two in 2012 and two in 2013, and that was like, number five. And she’s won all but one. So I feel like, if anyone were to say, “Oh, it’s unfair judging,” then they’d be completely just biased against the US. Which happens. But it’s like, “Hello! She’s won every single one out of the country, expect one where she, like, fell or something.”




LAUREN: But yeah, I felt like she was obviously the rightful victor in this situation. There were a couple of people who said Brenna was maybe gifted a bit, because she came out on top of Steingruber, but Brenna’s beam, she got the lowest E-score almost, apart from like, Ferlito, who fell.  So it’s like… And Brenna did not fall. So I felt like, there was no, there was no real, like, I don’t know, [INAUDIBLE] going on.


JESSICA: And the thing with like, Steingruber, I really, I really like her gymnastics because she flies. She really does high, powerful skills. I mean, I was talking on Twitter about how I feel like she is the exact example of what should really get credit for a layout on beam. And then a lot of people pointed out to me, which I thank you all for, that the FIG has made these fantastic videos which we’ve been talking about recently on the show, where they give an example of, “Here’s what counts as a whip back. And we don’t give that a D.”




JESSICA: “And here’s what counts as a layout.” And then it’s like, 5,000 Chinese gymnasts throughout history all doing beam. [LAUGHS] And it’s like, “Here you go.” But you know, Steingruber really, she does not have great execution scores you know.




JESSICA: She, her best execution score was on vault where she got a 9, but you know, she got a 7.9 on bars, and I was like, “Ohh, that’s kind of high.” [LAUREN LAUGHS] You know, her beam was an 8.3, but really like, she’s one of those ones where you’re just like, “And this is why we like NCAA gymnastics.” [LAUGHS] Because in NCAA that would have gotten a 5. [LAUGHS] And she would not be in the lineup. But she, her beam, like, I love it. She took third on beam, which I think was totally correct.


LAUREN: Yeah. Well, I think and on vault too, like, because of her execution I was having a coughing fit, so I looked over and I saw her pike and then coming down facing the vault. So I was like, did she do a podkopayeva? Like, ‘cause she was piked. And it was like, “I guess?” and so I wrote that’s what she did and everyone was like, “No, she did a rudi.” I was like, “Is she doing a piked rudi?” And then everyone was like, “No, it’s a laid out rudi.” And I went back and watched videos and she’s just so piked in her layout where, so that I’m like, you can’t even tell what vault she’s doing if you don’t see the whole thing because the execution just isn’t, I guess, where it should be, maybe? And I love her, but I feel like, yeah, I feel like most of her execution was pretty accurate.


JESSICA: Okay. What is going on with the Japanese and Ukrainian, Russian debatable, mullets? This is no good.


LAUREN: Mm. Yeah, I didn’t really notice them that much. The only one whose hair I noticed was Sam Oldham.


JESSICA: His hair was so cute! But I totally had that exact same haircut in, like, fifth grade, just so you know. [LAUREN LAUGHS] But it looks really cute on him.


LAUREN: Well, I think Philipp Boy, or no, Marcel Nguyen…


JESSICA: Nguyen totally has that hair too. Mm hmm.


LAUREN: Yeah, so that’s all I could think of. And I was like, “Oh.” And everyone else, I don’t know, I didn’t notice their hair for whatever reason. Yeah, I didn’t even notice the mullets.


JESSICA: Ugh. Thank God, that you couldn’t see it. [LAUREN LAUGHS] Because on TV you could totally see it. It’s like a mullet, but it’s a short mullet, and Shogo had it and the Russian guy who’s now…This is terrible. I need to really remember his name.




JESSICA: I feel like a horrible, horrible person, let me say that again. His name is Andrey. I’m just going to call him…oh, it’s, and it’s Belarus, not Ukraine. Oh my God.


LAUREN: Was he the one, he’s the one with the “L” last name?




LAUREN: Yeah, I couldn’t pronounce his name at all.


JESSICA: Likhovitskiy. And so Andrey, who is competing for Belarus, and not Ukraine, please forgive me all Ukrainians. You have enough to deal with with Russia invading your country right now without me telling people that people are competing from you and they’re not. Even though they’re all going to freaking Azerbaijan right now. I’m so sorry. So Andrey is competing, he’s Russian, but he’s competing for Belarus, and he has a baby mullet. There we go. So, yeah, his is pretty strong and I don’t approve of it at all. I mean, this is no good. We can’t have this. Some ‘80s things can come back, but not the mullet. And then can we talk about Sophie Sheder, who I loooove her bars. She’s 5 foot 3, which makes her look like she’s six feet tall, she has beautiful bars, it reminds me of Khorkina. Like, her skills aren’t the same, obviously, but her look is the same, just really long and lean. And, but, ugh, Germany! What is with that freaking collar on a leo? No. [LAUREN LAUGHS] No. And then Nastia, I love, you know, Nastia is, I defer to her in all things fashion. But she was totally rocking a shoulder cut out shirt, just like Ferrari. [LAUGHS] Did you notice that too?


JESSICA: I was like…


LAUREN: Yeah… I was more focused on her skirt, which was intense.


JESSICA: It was.


LAUREN: Even miles away in the arena.


JESSICA: It was. And I just like to think that she’s in like, a whole fashion world in Manhattan that like, so like, ten years from now that will trickle down to the rest of us somehow, we just don’t know she’s wearing the future. So I’m just like, she’s a college student, she’s rocking her, you know, thing [LAUREN LAUGHS] so it’s all good. But there was a lot of fashion. A lot of fashion going on. So…


LAUREN: Yeah. It was really cute to, because like, when they were warming up the Italians and the Americans were in the same rotation, and Ebee was in…no, Ebbe was in magenta and Brenna was in red, and then I think Vanessa Ferrari was in red and Carlito was in magenta. It was like Valentine’s Day just parading around wherever they were, like,location wise. The Italians were in like their little short sleeved leos for practice, and then they changed for competition. So it looked really pretty, everyone was [LAUGHING] matching and that’s all we care about in gymnastics.


JESSICA: Oh my God, Christy Linder is doing a photo essay for us. “Behind the Scenes at the American Cup.” So if you guys have seen her, I know you’ve seen her photos. Like, her photos are amazing. She, like, combines being an artist with being, having been a gymnast with photojournalism. And she really captures the moments between people and really gets gymnastics in kind of views that I’ve never seen before, which is really hard. I like to call her “Baby Lansley,” from the famous photographer Emily Lansley, that’s what I call her, “Baby Lansley,” because she’s just amazing, and I think she’s going to be the next official photographer of everything someday because I just think she’s the most incredible talent to come into sports, gymnastics photography in literally like 30 years. So she is doing a photo essay for us. It will be up on Wednesday with this show, so you can look at it and bask in its glory while you listen to us discuss the show and enjoy that. And so she has pictures of Sophie Scheder wearing her like, outfit that she warms up in which was like knee-high leg warmers; a leotard; shorts; a back warmer, like Elite Sportz Band but more like leg warmer material, like wool; and then some kind of like glove she had or something. I mean, she looked like a dancer from Bolshoi in the ‘80s. I was like, “Who is that?” [LAUGHS] “What’s happening over there?” It was fantastic, it was completely different, I totally loved watching that. So enjoy the full Behind the Scenes, coming soon.


All right, so, let’s talk about Mr. Orozco. He made a lot of progress in this meet. But his vault, when he did his vault, zero repulsion. Totally pushed off, like did, like, a headstand almost and then pushed off. [LAUGHING] His vault was better than Winter Cup. I was like, “Okay, ninja cat. Where does this come from?” He is just like… [LAUGHING] I mean, most people would do that and just land right back on top of the vault because it’s like the opposite of all technique. But he’s  like, “Oh yeah, I’ll just do my vault better than I’ve ever done it before.” Then he’s like, “Hmm, okay,” and just kind of giggles, and I was like uhhh. He’s just like a total genetic freak.  I

[LAUGHING] could just watch him all day.


LAUREN: Mm hmm.


JESSICA: So then he goes to p-bars, and he like, clipped his shoulder while he was doing his dismount and, like, lost grip on his leg. That was so scary. Was there a collective gasp when that happened?


LAUREN: I didn’t even notice! I, okay, I’ve been really sick, so I’ve been like, coughing constantly. The guy next to me finally pushed cough drops towards me. [JESSICA LAUGHS]




LAUREN: So I, like, I missed a lot of moments for the men, especially. Because for the women I was live blogging, so I made sure to be watching. But the men, I missed like, a lot of moments I would just hear the audience, like, respond, and I’d be like, “What just happened?” So that was one where I noticed the audience was like, “[gasp]” and I was just like, “What?” I later saw that he tweeted, like, “Oh, almost broke my neck today on p-bars.” [JESSICA LAUGHS] So I figured that was what was happening.


JESSICA: Yes! I was like “[strangled gasp]” Oh my God, he is just…I don’t even know. Something else. But you know what I decided, like this is the thing. He always looks sad and defeated. Remember how he used to always look so happy. Like, he was just like, “I can’t believe this is happening to me! Oh my God!”


LAUREN: Mm hmm.


JESSICA: You know, he had that look of joy, and he was appreciating every moment, and this was so fun, and he couldn’t believe it. And now he always looks defeated, and I have just…so this is what I’ve decided. I have a fix. Because you know I have a solution for everything. Because that is my superpower, is knowing what other people should do with their lives and what other people should do to solve situations. So, like, Uncle Tim’s superpower is pausing the TV at really awkward moments and saving those for Twitter just on accident, that’s his superpower. Mine is other people’s problems, fixing them. So I’ve decided that Kim Zmeskal, so Kim, if you’re listening, or anyone who knows her, please let her know, that the same kind of thing is happening to John Orozco that happened to you in 1992. There’s this huge build up and pressure from the media that he was going to win, and he was going to be the one, and it was this great Cinderella story. And then, you know, he had a slip-up. It wasn’t the end of the world, he still placed eighth. It was, he still did a fantastic job. It’s, he, you know, he’s still, he has many more Olympics ahead of him. But it was this unthinkable thing that totally got to him. So I think that she’s one of the people who has experienced exactly the same situation, and she can… I mean, not exactly, because it wasn’t like, “Oh, he’s going to beat Uchimura,” but still he could medal. But that she can really related to what he’s going through, and I think that they…maybe he should travel down there, and he should work out with them for a while, and he can just, like, feel the whole Kim Zmeskal, like, mental vibe. Because her gymnasts are like very, they hit, you



LAUREN: Mmm. Yeah.


JESSICA: So, that’s the solution, I’ve totally come up with it. This will solve all of his problems.

[LAUREN LAUGHS] So someone let him know.






LAUREN: I think it’s a good plan.


JESSICA: Okay, good. So let’s talk about Moors. Ah, I could just watch her all day.




JESSICA: She did her…on floor she ended up actually, so this is the thing, after watching her floor I was like, “Oh, she won! That’s it! Of course, she won!” But in fact, you know, because I love her floor. She dances. And oh, just to let you guys know, I was totally thinking that the new FIG floor rules already went into effect, but they didn’t. They don’t go until May. So I was like all, you know, “Uh, Carlotta Ferlito has already broken the rules.” And everyone’s all, “Uh, it doesn’t go in effect until May, Jessica.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s right! Oops.” Sorry, okay.


LAUREN: Yeah, I think there’s like a six month, like, delay…




LAUREN: …between the stating it and the enacting or whatever.


JESSICA: Yes. Which totally makes sense.




JESSICA: And is so very well thought out. And of course very courteous to the gymnasts and their training plans. And I was totally ahead of myself. [LAUGHING] So, so Moors did her layout double-double, which I think gets better every single meet. But you were saying she landed out of bounds?


LAUREN: Yeah, I think she…well, I saw her land out of bounds, but my angle was really weird and someone said she landed one foot, she landed on one foot in bounds, and then bounced out, and then put both feet down. So yeah, so I think…but I saw her form in the air, because I was one of the biggest critics of her form, I feel like, in the past. And I was like, shocked that she’s gotten it this far. So yeah, even with the deduction for going out, I feel like it was one of her best that I’ve seen. I thought it was the best, actually.


JESSICA: Yeah, I think it was the best that I’d seen. And then when she was on beam she ended up doing her full in dismount. [squeal] So excited!


LAUREN: Mm hmm.


JESSICA: I mean, I know she’s not, like, the first ever to do the full in, but we almost never see it very often any more, you know?




JESSICA: Totally excited to see people go for hard dismounts. And then, she…so, the way it worked out on floor Ferrari took first on floor, she got a 14.633. Her difficulty was a 6.0 and then her execution was an 8.6. And then Price took second with a 14.5. Price and Victoria Moors both had the same difficulty level, they both had 6.1. Moors had a 14.266, so she would have, even if she stayed in bounds she would have been below Price with her execution. And I think that was all her landings, don’t you think?


LAUREN: Yeah, her landings, every single pass she had either one or multiple steps. So I feel like, they just weren’t very controlled. But I didn’t notice. Well, I noticed it on blogging, but after she finished the routine I was like, “That was a great routine.” And then I reread what I wrote, and I was like, “Oh yeah, she took steps on every single pass.” She covered everything up so well.




LAUREN: So like, you don’t really notice. She’s such a performer. So you’re not looking really at the landings, you’re like, “Wow she’s dancing already.”


JESSICA: I know! And how dare those judges not be swept up in her dance? [LAUREN LAUGHS] I demand they take those deductions away because I didn’t notice them, I was in the moment. I was like, “Oh, we’re transported to like, ancient Russia.” I don’t know why I’m on this whole “ancient Russia” thing. [LAUGHING] Ancient Russia was a horrible, horrible place and time to be anything.


LAUREN: With Mongolia invading.


JESSICA: No one…with like the wars. No one would ever want to be in ancient Europe, ancient Russia. It was so bad. So let me just [LAUGHING] pick another time. Uhhh, the Great…I can’t even, I don’t know. You’re going to have to fill me in on this.


LAUREN: [LAUGHING] There were no other times.


JESSICA: No, no, I can’t…. In the future, when there is a stable [LAUGHING] non,non surveillance…


LAUREN: Murderous,non murderous.


JESSICA: Government, where art is free, I don’t know. But it has that pain. Like the, you know, what is the, it has the angst, the…




JESSICA: The eastern European angst in her routine. Speaking of which, I really…Uncle Tim was saying how Elvira Saadi and other coaches should have like, a dance off. Like, she’s on the sidelines, and she is totally looking at everyone else’s floor routines. For those who don’t know, Elvira Saadi is the…she was a two-time Soviet gold medalist with her team at the Olympics. So she won with the Soviet team at the ’72 Olympics and then again at the ’76 Olympics. So she’s basically super bad assed. And she looks like it. I mean, she was like…when the men were competing at first, she was like sitting on the sidelines, shooting the shits with her friends. I was like, “Oh my God, I’ve never seen her smile before. Like, what is happening?” And then the competition started and she was like, “Uh! We will kill everyone with the beauty! We will dominate them with our incredible dance!” [LAUREN LAUGHS] I was just watching her watch the other floor routines while people were out there, and she was just like, “Oh my God. Just put me in a leotard right now and I just will smoke these fools.” [LAUREN LAUGHS] Like, “This is just not up to our standards.” And you can see. Just, Victoria Moors is in a category all her own when she performs. Like, no one can touch her. She’s…I mean, no one’s even close. She’s just…yeah. Totally different category. So, sometime maybe we can convince Elvira Saadi…maybe she can do the gymitiations! Could we get her… [BOTH LAUGHING] to do gymitations?


LAUREN: She can imitate every American floor routine in London.


JESSICA: She’ll just stand like a robot.


LAUREN: It would be comedy.




JESSICA: [LAUGHING] Oh my God. So I did kind of, I have to say though, I kind of liked like Price’s routine. For…I mean, it’s not, it’s not my style, it’s not my thing, but you know, it’s pretty good.




JESSICA: I didn’t hate it, basically. [LAUGHING] ‘Cause I kind of hate, like, all the American routines. And that one I was like, “Oh! You know, hey.” I could get into it a little bit, bop my head. That’s extremely high praise from me for an American routine. That’s like, yeah. So she’s having a good time, you know, she gets the crowd into it. So.


LAUREN: Price on floor, she’s one who I remember her tumbling, but I never remember her music. And like, even right now I’m trying to think of it, and I can’t even tell you what style choreography, what style music she has because I feel like I only care about her tumbling. But that’s one of the ones where I’d have to like look that one up and watch it on YouTube to be like, “Oh that’s like what her dance looks like.” Which, it’s not that it’s bad, it’s just not really memorable to me kind of thing.


JESSICA: Yeah. I think for the Americans it stands out. Like, if it makes you want to bop your head, then it’s, whoosh, solid, for Americans. [LAUREN LAUGHS] It’s like, in the top echelon. So while we’re talking about Ebee and how she won by about 3-ish points, and how much she’s come back from, what surprised you the most about her victory and her performance here?


LAUREN: I think her beam especially, because beam is not her best event, and I haven’t really seen her compete beam really since the World Cups in 2012. I didn’t see a lot of her performances from the 2013 World Cups. So I know she did it, she did compete beam and she clearly did well enough on it to medal at both. But I wasn’t expecting her to go out there at American Cup and have what I think was her best beam routine ever. And just in general, I feel like the last time I saw her, again, at Nationals, doing her double twisting yurchenko. So to see her doing so well, like with hitting the amanar and then her bars were clean…I mean, everything she did I was like, “Wow, she’s really clean, she’s really impressive, she’s still has, like, I mean, I think she’s exceeding her 2012 peak.” Before her hip injury. And then, yeah, I was totally surprised at what we saw her do. So yeah, it was, it was awesome.


JESSICA: I love that she told Tim Daggett, when he interviewed her, that she wanted everyone to know that even though she’d been injured and she’d had these…she’d had so much to overcome to get back to where she was, that she was happy the whole time. I was like, “Damn.” This is why I totally tweeted, “Ebee for president!” And I mean, like, Ebee has…like she might not be…I mean, if I was putting together, like, my favorite gymnastics Frankenstein doll from all my favorite gymnasts, there are parts of her that I would put in there, but the biggest thing that I would take from her is that she has an integrity and a perspective that’s so much larger than just her gymnastics. That is very rare in elites. And by that I mean she’s aware of how her performance relates to how people perceive the American Cup, with her comments about how she’s won these, and she’s glad to win one at home. She wants people to understand who she is, not just that she’s a gymnast, but why she chooses to do the sport. You know, she wants, she has an idea of how she wants people to see her and is in control of that. And that’s, I think, so uncommon for a teenage elite. They’re people…they put it out there, and they’re just like, “I just want, I went out here, four for four…” You know, the stuff that we can’t stand hearing. So her comments were very uncommon, and you know, I don’t know that she’s going to go to Stanford, but wherever she chooses to go, they’re going to be very lucky to have someone like her. I think she’s going to do great things.




JESSICA: Wherever she ends up, whatever she ends up doing.


LAUREN: Yeah, I agree. I think she was saying after the competition that she’s not sure. She’s very smart, also, because she was saying that she’s not sure if she’s going to defer Stanford just yet, because there are however many months until Worlds next year. So it’s like, she’s not like, “Yeah, I won this competition, and I’m going to Worlds, I’m deferring college, blah blah blah.” She’s actually waiting. And she’s taking it one step at a time. And I think that’s very smart, because I think a lot of people who could come in and win this competition be like, “Okay, time to go prowl; I’m the next Olympic champion!” You know, like that kind of attitude.


JESSICA: Mm hmm.


LAUREN: They take a big step early, and then they take it way too far. And another thing is that she is actually…the World Cup series, they have a leader which leads by points, which you were kind of explaining earlier.


JESSICA: Mm hmm.


LAUREN: And she’s leading. Everyone else has kind of like 80 points, 85 points. She has like, 120 points. And she can’t take any of that prize money.




LAUREN: Because she is…


JESSICA: I thought you could take the prize money now. If it’s prize from completion, I thought that didn’t count against you. Or is this different because it’s like, a professional circuit?


LAUREN: I think it’s a professional circuit kind of thing.


JESSICA: [groans]


LAUREN: So regardless, she can’t take any of that money. There was like, someone who was talking about that recently. Probably her [INAUDIBLE]


JESSICA: Mm hmm. It wouldn’t be equal to a private school, college education anyway.


LAUREN: Right.


JESSICA: What is that, like $400,000 education? [inserted] Just editing to add this little note here, that per Stanford’s website, it is actually an estimated $250,000 for four years with everything put

together: travel, tuition, housing, food, ect. [end insert]


LAUREN: Yeah, it’s probably like, 800,000. So yeah, that would be great if she could go to all these, and like, I want her to go to Tokyo and win that one too. And be like, “Yeah, I won pretty much every one of the World Cup series.” I think, yeah. That would be amazing.


JESSICA: I just love, too, that she’s actually being sent to these! Because it’s one of the things we’re always complaining about, we have all these amazing gymnasts and they’re never being sent anywhere to compete. And the World Cup circuit is just a great opportunity for gymnasts like, to make a living too! I mean for her, she’s going to not do that because she wants to keep her eligibility. But for so many of these adult athletes…I think if Mohini had stuck around for that, or Annia Hatch had stuck around for that.




JESSICA: You know, if, I just, I’m glad that she is doing that, and I’d love to see her win this. And then also set that precedent of, “I’m going to go do college gymnastics now,” and get more of these elites, you know, international elites, to come do college gymnastics. It’s so fun, and just…




JESSICA: Yep. And let’s see…


LAUREN: Oh, Ebee…


JESSICA: Oh, Ebee. [LAUGHS] So some of things if you guys were watching at home, if you missed it at home, were great comments from the commentators during the American Cup. [LAUGHING] Oh. My. God. So Sam Mikulak killed it. He would not have won though, if it wasn’t for Shogo made a mistake on his last event. It was, he was just like, he didn’t get his dowel over the bar on one of his releases, so he just pinged off and ohhh, it was so sad. Because he would have won it and it would have been great because… On the other…It’s just another exciting Japanese gymnast to watch. He has that beautiful Japanese form, like he did his double pike dismount off of p-bars, and he does it perfectly. And then he dropped into a stick. Dropped on p-bars. You know, you normally on p-bars, people come in at like, 1,000 miles an hour, they like skid into the mat [LAUGHING].  Because it’s freaking p-bars and you’re just lucky to live if you land on your feet. And he’s like, “Double pike and drop.” It was beautiful. So, but, you know, he had this mess up on high bar much like Sam Mikulak had at Worlds. It was a beautiful juxtaposition for Sam to then come out on top with this, you know, repeat of kind of what had happened to him but now happened to someone else at this meet. So he looks fantastic, he looked incredible. He’s a great representative for men’s gymnastics because he just looks so happy and he’s just a little goof off.


But, so, Tim Daggett, oh my God. I’m sure he didn’t mean it this way, because I don’t, I don’t, I don’t think…he’s just not a cruel guy. But he said, he’s talking about Sam Mikulak and how he’s really taking it in and enjoying the experience, and he’s like “You won’t see this guy with a towel over his head!” [BOTH LAUGHING] It was like, “Ohhhhhh my God! I can’t believe he just said that!” I was like, “Ohhh, okay, I see how you feel about that whole thing.” Like, yeah, we now understand your feelings. The other thing that happened was that Al Trautwig said halfway through the meet, or it was like the last event, it was like, I don’t even remember who he was talking about because it doesn’t even matter, but he said, “Oh, she’s only doing it for pride at this point! She has no chance of winning.” And we’re like, “Really? She’s only doing it for pride?” Because honestly, like, if you’re not going to win, what are you going to do? You throw your leotard off and like, stomp out of the arena? [LAUREN LAUGHING] Like, God, this isn’t like, you know, Lucho Libre. We don’t do that here. We enjoy the performance. It’s gymnastics, Al! Like, God. Oh my God.


LAUREN: Who was he even saying that about? No one was going to win it except Ebee.


JESSICA: No one was going to touch Ebee! [LAUREN LAUGHING] By like the second event, I was like, “Oh yeah, she’s going to win by three points.” And that’s how it happened. Like, I don’t even know. It just doesn’t even matter, it was like, the stupidest comment ever.

And then, the other thing that happened, I don’t know if you guys caught this, it was very, very bizarre. I’m going to play it for you guys, and see if you guys can hear it. It’s really bizarre. It’s in the very back of this. You’ll hear the regular commentators. Like, Al Trautwig stops talking, and then you hear this comment in the background.


AL TRAUTWIG: Last year’s champion, Katelyn Ohashi, not here. She’s been hurt.


BACKGROUND COMMENT: She doesn’t look very Japanese.


JESSICA: You can hear someone in the background, and I don’t know who it is, and they say, “She doesn’t look very Japanese.” Which is like…


LAUREN: [LAUGHS] I remember someone tweeted that to Katelyn. And she retweeted it with like, smiley face emoji.




JESSICA: I was just like, “Who is it?” ‘Cause I was like, “Is that a cameraman, who doesn’t know what’s going on?” Is it someone who happened to be sitting there? Is it an inside joke amongst the commentators, because someone said that once and they thought it was super ignorant, so they use it as a joke now, because they can’t stand when people say stuff like that? But I was just like, so, in the future NBC, maybe make sure, you know, you have people, [LAUGHING] the inside jokes are, like, ignorant comments, like, keep those people away from the microphones?


LAUREN: I know


JESSICA: Oh my God. That’s just like, the little things that you catch on here. The other thing that I decided after listening to all these comments and all the commentary at this meet is that pommel horse should now and forever be accompanied by haunted mansion suspense music. From start to finish. [LAUREN LAUGHS] As they walk up, it could start [singing slow, creepy music]. And then they mount it goes [singing fast, creepy music], if they actually make it to the end. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Can you…


LAUREN: It is amazing. Actually, something hilarious I just remembered happened. Leslie, who does the media for USA Gymnastics…


JESSICA: Mm hmm.


LAUREN: …came by with a print of a local newspaper. And they printed pommel horse as “pummel horse.”




JESSICA: Freudian slip!


LAUREN: She discovered this like, right as everyone was like, falling. I was actually shocked that the Americans, like they were both like… I don’t know anything about men’s pommel horse. But like, the fact that they both were, they both hit their routines…




LAUREN: To me, it’s like, “Whoa! Like, that actually looks good to me!” And so when everyone else was falling, though, so we saw this newspaper article… It was just like, “The pummel horse.” And we were really [LAUGHS].


JESSICA: That should be…


LAUREN: And then someone commented and was like, I think I tweeted that, and someone was like, “Pummel is slang in Dutch for ‘dirty old farmer.’” [JESSICA LAUGHS] Yeah.


JESSICA: “Dirty old farmer?” [LAUGHING]


LAUREN: It’s derogatory.


JESSICA: Oh my God! Dutch listeners, please [LAUGHING too hard to speak] confirm this. Oh my God. [LAUGHING] Okay, so, what else? So, yes, the American men hit pommel horse, so a giant high five to Sam Mikulak and John Orozco…




JESSICA: …from us for that. Like, that was super exciting. And can we just talk now about the crazy… Okay, first of all, the American Cup was trending before it was on, even on TV. That, that this happened is so amazing and that is all because of you, gymternet, for tweeting about this. And that’s so important to getting gymnastics on TV and getting it more coverage, because this is what the sponsors care about. So other, next giant high five to all, everyone who tweeted about the American Cup, because you made that happen, and I have a message for you, Steve Penny. You should be buying Scott Bregman and the whole marketing team at USA Gymnastics a truckload of hookers and blow. Because they deserve it! [BOTH LAUGHING] If you can get an event to trend when it’s just streaming online, I demand hookers and blow! For the whole team!




Okay, speaking of shenanigans. Let’s discuss the Macready shenanigans that went on and the other behind the scenes things that happened when you were there.


LAUREN: Oh yeah. Okay, so Macready always has his little games for the crowd. And they terrify me, because they’re weird and like… I commented a few days ago that they should be like…there’s like a Nickelodeon games and sports TV channel where they used to air all these really cool game shows on Nickelodeon back in the ‘90s. Like, GUTS, and other, like Wild and Crazy Kids. I feel like, Macready could have his own Nickelodeon game and sport gymnastics TV show.




LAUREN: Just from all these weird games he plays with kids and their parents at these meets.


JESSICA: That is a great idea. And then he can get slimed at the end.


LAUREN: Yeah, of course. They have to. This year was especially weird and crazy because A) he came up with some many different games that were actually good, like there was one where the kids, four girls. And he made a circle out of t-shirts, and the girls had to do round off back tucks and land in the center of the t-shirts. Which was awesome. Like, they were doing it on floor in between rotations, and I was watching that. I wasn’t even watching like, warm ups, or like, the hot touch or whatever, the thirty second touch warm ups. I was watching John Macready’s games.


JESSICA: Dude, the competitors were totally cracking up at his games, while they were waiting to warm up! I was like, “This is awesome!”


LAUREN: Yeah, it was really cool. And then he also this time around would, they have the little girls and their dad’s games, and there was one where they do, like, a relay race down the vault runway. And they have to like, pick things up, and pick [INAUDIBLE] up, and put hats on them, the girls have to ride on their dads’ backs and stuff. He made the dads wear leos this time. [JESSICA LAUGHS] So you have like these huge, and of course he sought out the big dudes in the crowd. And you have these dudes putting on silver metallic short, or sleeveless leos to like, basically run around and make fools of themselves. So like, the dads could not have been more excited to do. And every time I looked up, I was like, “What is he doing now?” [LAUGHS] So…and at one point he was holding a baby. I don’t know where he got it from. Who thought to give him a baby.




JESSICA: Maybe it was his baby. He has babies.


LAUREN: No, it wasn’t! It was like, some guy, like, handed him his baby! [JESSICA LAUGHS]

And I…


JESSICA: You were like, “Stop! He’s going to use it for a contest!”


LAUREN: I was like, “Put him back! You don’t know what’s going to happen!” [LAUGHS] So, yeah. I’m like, picturing that thing that they did for the tour where he dressed up like a baby, and I was like, “Is he going to do something weird with this baby?” And yeah. [LAUGHS] I don’t want to talk about it anymore. It was terrifying. But [LAUGHS] I love Macready. I feel like he, the first time I saw him doing things live I was like, “This isn’t funny.” But now that I’ve watched it, and I’m seeing the same gags over and over again, I’m like, and also the newer ones, I’m seeing that he really makes the crowd feel like, I don’t know, excited to be there.




LAUREN: And he’s doing silly things that they just don’t do at other sporting events, and I feel like it’s half the fun now—going to a gym meet and watching what Macready’s going to do.


JESSICA: I love when he makes, when he gets like a little group of boys, and he teaches them dance moves. And they all dance in the crowd. That’s my favorite part. [LAUGHS] It’s so adorable.




JESSICA: Okay, so.


LAUREN: He actually included a lot of boys this time. He usually doesn’t. But I thought that was…because he had Peter Vidmar and Marta there, and he wanted to let Marta give them prizes and stuff. They were doing pull ups, very manly pull ups, on the p-bars. And, yeah. I thought it was…I had a lot of fun with Macready this time.


JESSICA: Awesome. And what happened with Marta, oh my God?


LAUREN: Oh! Oh my God! So I was like, leaving a little bit early on Saturday, and I’m walking backstage and Marta and Ebee were running around trying to find where to do media. Which, I don’t know how they got separated from every single other person who made it to media. But, so I walked, I’m like, on my way to the bathroom, and Marta’s like, leading Ebee into the bathroom And so I was like…she was screaming in rapid Romanian. [JESSICA LAUGHS] And I don’t think Ebee knew what was going on.


JESSICA: Screaming Romanian at Ebee to go into the bathroom? What?


LAUREN: I’m kind of looking at them weirdly, and Marta’s looking back at me, like, “Who is this lady?” I was like, “Are you looking for media?” And I was so afraid to say it, because, oh my God, I’m going to talk to Marta! And it’s not like, an interview! [JESSICA LAUGHS] So I was like, “Are you looking for media?” And she was like, “Yeah!” And she started like, screaming at me. And then so I like, showed her the way to media, and led them away from the bathroom, which was like, way far away from where we were supposed to be. So yeah. I helped Marta. We’re best friends now. We shared, like, not a smile, but [LAUGHS] like, kindness. I gave her some kindness. She gave me like, a nod. So, we’re best friends.


JESSICA: [LAUGHING] Oh my God. So in general, this American Cup, how did you feel when you were watching the level of difficulty at this meet? With guys and women, but let’s specifically talk about women now. Because let’s be honest. Uncle Tim’s not here, so we’re not going to talk about men’s gymnastics. How did you feel the difficulty was compared to NCAA? Was there any time you were watching people and were like, “Phhh, Rheagon Courville would smoke these fools?”


LAUREN: Well. I feel like the way that I usually measure that is because at the beginning of every year I’m live Tweeting a lot of NCAA gym. And then I go to American Cup. And I’m like, “How do I live blog this? I don’t know any of these skills anymore.” Because it’s been since Worlds since I’ve done it. And usually it’s getting used to doing longer routines and harder skills. For me. Because I’m like, “Okay, this is a really typical American Cup.” This year, I would say maybe like half of the routines that we saw were like, easily world class routines. But then there were a huge amount, probably like the other half, that were NCAA level. I would say, like I thought two gainers, well, Steingruber’s gainer off beam was cool, so I’m not going to include that.


JESSICA: Yeah. The layout, and it was a real layout.


LAUREN: Yeah. Yeah, there was like, a straight gainer layout off beam. Which like, everyone in NCAA is doing layout, gainer layout fulls. So, or most are. And then like, all of Carlotta Ferlito’s routines. She had like, a full twisting yurchenko that maybe would have been a 9.7 in NCAA, maybe. She had a double full off beam. She does, does only three floor passes. And one is a double back and the other is a double full. I think her first one is like, a triple or something. But I felt like watching her I was watching like, a lower level NCAA…


JESSICA: Mm hmm.


LAUREN: …difficulty. So that was quite shocking to me. Because I always thought that Carlotta did a lot more difficult things. Maybe she’s just toning it down because it’s not, like, a Worlds sort of situation. But I don’t remember her doing basically what were four NCAA routines. But at the same time…


JESSICA: Yeah, I feel like beam is her difficulty area, but she didn’t do it this time.




JESSICA: She changed her series. Her series was beautiful though, but, yeah.


LAUREN: Yeah. Her series was gorgeous. But then at the same time you have the Americans. They were both doing amanars, and they both had full twisting double layouts off bars. And they both had like, well, I’m not going to say Ebee’s skills maybe were innovative, but she does some really big stuff on floor. And then Brenna’s bar routine? Like, I have to review it, I haven’t yet and I want to talk about it, because she does three tkachev variations…


JESSICA: Mm hmm.


LAUREN: Like, a church, a tweddle, and then maybe a ray something, or just a straight up tkachev. She has that ezhova release from high to low. Where…


JESSICA: The barani? Yeah.


LAUREN: …she was missing in the warm ups, and then she hit like crazy in the competition and the bars were like, shaking and falling down. [JESSICA LAUGHS] And she hit that routine like I’ve never seen anyone hit a routine before. Like, she was like, “I don’t care, I’m hitting this routine. I didn’t get to do Worlds, this is my time to shine. I’m the bars genius this year, and I’m going to be amazing.” And she was. And I talked about that routine for probably, like, an hour after it happened. So you had the really, like, low difficulty, NCAA routines that weren’t as clean as they should be if they were that low difficulty. Like, I think there are a bunch of Rheagan Courville’s in the world who would put some of those NCAA routines to shame. But then you also have some, like, really, really cool skills. I think Scheder’s bars were…


JESSICA: Mm. Love them.


LAUREN: …still in that mix. Yeah. Vanessa Ferrari’s floor. Roxana Popa had a lot of really cool

things, like on floor she’s just like, whip whip to full in or something? And the crowd freaked out. They were loving that. Her double twisting yurchenko on vault was a-mazing. So you had a lot of really cool stuff. It wasn’t all super low difficulty. But I really was amazed at how low difficulty the lower difficulty routines were.


JESSICA: Mm hmm. And I also kind of wondered if it was like, it’s the beginning of season,


LAUREN: That’s what I was thinking.


JESSICA: I was like, “Man, the beginning of elite season. Like, NCAA smokes the beginning of elite season for these international gymnasts.” But I want to give a shout out to Roxana Popa. Because we really, really like her. There’s just something about her, I don’t know what it is. But our listeners are like, “Talk about her!” I want to talk about her. So, I just like her. I don’t know what it is about her. She’s just…she’s like if the Romanians ate more, and they had a little more power. [LAUGHS] That is how I feel about her. And they had some Retton legs. Some Mary Lou Retton legs.


LAUREN: Mm hmm.


JESSICA: I just, I just, there’s something about her that’s really enjoyable to watch, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s some of that combination of her great basics from being a Romanian junior and the power that she’s gained with age that’s just really enjoyable to watch. I really like her a lot.


LAUREN: Did she come up in the Romanian system?


JESSICA: I don’t know if she…


LAUREN: And then moved to Spain?


JESSICA: I don’t know if she came up, I just know that as a kid, I just know I mean as a…I don’t know if she was a junior elite there, I should rephrase that.


LAUREN: Right, yeah.


JESSICA: Yeah, I just mean as a kid there, but she might have, though.


LAUREN: Okay. Yes, I know obviously her name, like, is very Romanian, but I didn’t know if she trained with Romania and then moved over to Spain to compete there.


JESSICA: Yeah, I think she was only there until she was like, 10 or 11. But yeah, I’m not sure if she like, moved to Deva and did the whole elite thing.


LAUREN: Right.


JESSICA: But as a kid, that her foundation. So, the NCAA rankings have changed yet again. And now we have—man, the scores this year are crazy. Like, I know they get high, but I just… Okay, so LSU’s in first, their high is 198.05. Florida is in second now with, same as last week I think, with 198.125 as their highest score. Oklahoma’s in now in third, but they’ve had the highest score this season with a 198.175, and then we have fourth Alabama, fifth Georgia. Georgia looks amazing. They really, I [EXHALES] I’m tot…


LAUREN: Georgia’s bars are killing me this year, I’m obsessed with them


JESSICA: They are.


LAUREN: I love their bars.


JESSICA: I’m like, I’m like, “What?” This is the Georgia of years past. They’re incredible.


LAUREN: I don’t want to say it, but this is the first year that they’ve done well since Shayla Worley has been there. [LAUGHS] I don’t want to blame her, because there were other factors involved too, but she just gets so much of the gymternet’s hate, sort of I feel like, and that’s something that people have been saying. And I’m like, “It makes sense, but I don’t want to blame…”The Shayla Worley factor.


JESSICA: The curse. It’s…


LAUREN: Yeah. The Shayla Worley curse.


JESSICA: Yeah. They look amazing. They look like the Georgia that won, like, a bazillion—what did they win? Four in a row, five in row? Something insane. They look great.


LAUREN: Yeah. The past years.


JESSICA: Yeah. They look great, great, great. And then Utah! Holy crap! They’re in sixth right now and, uh, Tory Wilson did…have I…I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman do this skills. I think I’ve only seen dudes do it. She did a layout half…a double layout half in, half out this past weekend.




JESSICA: What?! Who does that? And who is so consistent that their college coach is like, “Yep, go ahead. Go ahead and throw that.” [LAUGHS] You know how consistent you have to be? You have to be, do it 112% of the time perfectly for your college coach to be like, “Okay, go ahead and throw that.” And especially at Utah! Like that’s, you know…


LAUREN: Right.


JESSICA: I’m just blown away by her. Just, hats off, bow down. Like, I’m glad we’re seeing some crazy stuff out there from these teams. Michigan right now is in seventh. And then UCLA moved up to eighth. They finally got a 197.5. And you know, Evan Heiter said on this show, you can’t ever count them out, because they’re like a phoenix that rises from the flames. You know, they really have a totally different—of course, I’m biased, they’re my favorite team ever—but they have a totally different training system than any other school. And obviously it works for them. I mean, you know, they’ve won all these national titles. But their thing is that they start very slow and then they build, build, build. They’re best at the very end of the season. Like, right now they’re just adding Sam Peszek on, on vault. So she’s one of those gymnasts who can go, you know, 9.995 on every single event, and she’d get a 10 on beam. Speaking of which, Lindsey Cheek. Have you been watching her vaults? Lindsey Cheek at Georgia?


LAUREN: Yeah, they’re crazy, yeah.


JESSICA: Why isn’t she getting a 10? I am, I, I, another, again this weekend she does a perfect, perfect vault that anywhere in the world… What, what happened to Georgia? Remember the good old days, where Georgia could do a vault way less well done than that and she would get an 11? What happened to those days? [LAUREN LAUGHS] Like, can we get…


LAUREN: I have a feeling that’s under this year. Florida needs to stop doing that and Georgia needs to start doing it a little bit more. Because there have been a couple of routines where I’m like, “That’s a 10.” And, like, when they’re at home, and then they get like a 9.9 or something, and I’m like, “You’ve got the be kidding me!” Like, I…everyone in the crowd is screaming, “10, 10, 10!” And like, maybe one judge will give it a 10, but the other judge is just really mean about it. I’m like…every other…like, I hate the whole giving away 10s stuff, but if everyone else is doing it, then Georgia needs to do it too. Because that, I know what vault you’re talking about and that one was…she was good.


JESSICA: That vault is, it’s like Sam Peszek’s beam as far as I’m concerned. Like, you can’t—what else does she need to do? I…[raspberry sound]. I…It’s making me sick. Every week I am outraged for her. Outraged!


Before we get to the gymternet news, I just want to remind you guys of how you can support the show. I want to thank the people who have donated this month to the show. You guys are freaking awesome, thank you so much. You guys asked for a way to donate, so we put a donate button on there and every time I’m like, “Oh my God, this is embarrassing that it’s there.” And then people totally donate to us, so thank you so much! All the, anything that you guys donate or you spend in our Amazon store goes directly to the show. We use it to pay travel costs or to pay our hosting fees for our server, or upgrade our equipment, like we’ve done with the sound equipment. So thank you so, so much for that. Really appreciate it. And the other way to support the show is to review us on iTunes or Stitcher. And of course, since Lauren is here this week, make sure make sure to visit The Couch Gymnast, a fantastic site. All the editors there do a great job of keeping the gymternet abreast of the important news around the world.


And with that let’s discuss the major news out of Texas this week. This was a rumor going around for about a week, and then finally the Houston Chronicle put out an article via USA Gymnastics who released a statement from Simone Biles and from Ron Biles, her dad, and Aimee Boorman, her coach, that they, Simone and her coach, Aimee, have left Bannon’s Gymnastics. This…I thought this was really surprising. But I have theories. Which are totally unfounded, they’re just my own random theories, I just want to make that really clear. Lauren, do you have any thoughts on this, any insight before I give my theories?


LAUREN: I don’t. I’m kind of like, away, like, not paying attention to like, little gymternet type stuff, getting ready for American Cup. And then I saw that like, Aimee Boorman, like, posted this thing, like, “Shooting down the rumors!” And I was like, “What?” And then she posted that they were leaving, and I had no idea there was even like, trouble brewing or whatever. So, yes, I was just like completely shocked and took me by surprise. So I’d like to hear your theories, ‘cause I have, literally have none.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Well, that’s the thing. They’re looking for a new place to, yo go, they’re looking for a new gym. And there’s absolutely, you know, they’ve given no reasons publically for why this has happened. And so I’m just, I’m just putting out my theories, this is totally unrelated, but this is what I think. There have been many, many world champions who have, as soon as they win a world championship, they leave their gym. And that’s happened to, remember, Chellsie Memmel? She, actually it was right before she became world champion. But no, she won at 2003 Worlds, with the team.




JESSICA: She leaves her longtime coach and goes to her parents. The Hamm twins.


LAUREN: Kayla Williams.


JESSICA: Kayla Williams, exactly! Kayla Williams, same thing. The Hamm brothers did this. It’s not unprecedented, and it seems to happen right after, a couple of months after, a team World Championship or individual World Championship happens. And my theory is that this has to do with how Worlds’ team member stipends and stipends related to where you place on the team are given to the gymnasts. And what happens is that their, the gym gets paid. It doesn’t necessarily go directly to the gymnast. And I feel like all of a sudden now you have a gymnast and coach with the support of the gym have gotten to this point, but now the gym is getting the money for them, rather than it going to them directly. And on one hand, that totally makes sense because they need to take their portion out for whatever the gymnast’s fees are, the coach’s fees are. But on the other hand, this can create, I think, a lot of problems. When there’s disagreement about how the money should be spent. Maybe there’s disagreement about how much the gym is taking out. Maybe there’s a disagreement about how much the gym thinks that, you know, what their portion should be now that, you know…




JESSICA: I just, I feel like this is such a trend that there has to be something. I could be totally, completely wrong, but I feel this this is a trend…




JESSICA: …and it probably has something to do with this. And again…


LAUREN: I don’t if I…with Kayla Williams, it was like, her coach was the owner of her gym, which is different from Simone’s situation. But she left her coach and the gym because the coach thought, “Okay, now I have this world champion on my hands. She’s doing appearances for me every week, doing every invitational and signing, and everyone is going to pay us.” So she sort of became a cash cow, and I don’t think that’s what’s happened with Simone and Bannon’s. But like, it’s, now that you’re talking about the money aspect, I feel it’s kind of similar. Like, once you have a world champion in your gym, it’s like, now you have that prestige, like you can put her name up and say, “Home of Simone Biles.” There’s a lot of that post-Worlds kind of pressure and, I don’t know, to help your gym become a big gym. So, yeah. I’m on board with your theory.


JESSICA: Yeah. So, and again, this is all just my own speculation and like, you know, I always have my conspiracy theories. It could be something completely, totally different and unrelated, and I’m, this is just all off the top of my head. But, yeah, so I, we really wish them the best. Wherever they end up is going to be an amazing situation for them. Any gym will be lucky to get those, that, I mean, Simone and of course her coach. So we wish them the best and hope everything turns out great, and that Simone’s shoulder is healing well and we’re excited to see what the next chapter will bring for them.


Did you know that the Oklahoma men’s gymnastics alumni have like a little Disney World Animal Kingdom mafia going on?






JESSICA: Let me just say that I use the word “mafia” loosely to mean any group of people who help their friends. [LAUGHS] That’s always the mafia. Like, we could be the Gymcastic mafia right here. So you know when you move to some cities, every pizza place will be all owned by Brazilians.


LAUREN: Mm hmm.


JESSICA: Or like, every cop is Irish, and, like, I can say that because I’m Irish. You know, that’s the mafia. You know, you help each other out to make sure things happen. So, so anyway. The Oklahoma men’s team—there’s, one of them went down long ago, and got a job doing stunts there after he graduated, and he invited his friend and another one invited their friend. So now there’s this whole troop of Oklahoma alumn all working at the Animal Kingdom at Disney World. And they’re in the Indiana Jones show doing stunts, and then they’re also in…I don’t know what the show…Lion King show! And they have this whole thing where they do, like, rings. And then there’s bars, and in the middle there’s tramp. And I was like, “How did I not know about this?” Like, I pride myself on arranging my vacations around being able to watch gymnastics somehow. [LAUREN LAUGHS] And I was totally at the Animal Kingdom, and I didn’t even know about this show. I am so upset with myself. Like, I’m going to have to redo my whole vacation. I might have to send myself back to Disney World. In fact, Disney, if you would like us to do a special review of the acrobatics in your shows, you could send the whole staff, and we would give you our scientific review, the way we did for Cirque’s Amaluna, about how the, you know, about the ratings of gymnastics and how gymnastics fans would like it. It’s very scientific. We have a chart and everything. We give points to certain things. So, you could totally send us, we would do it! I would do that for you, Disney World.


So the other major news is that our April Fool’s joke from last year is coming true more and more. And now Azerbaijan has recruited Oleg Stepko from Ukraine onto their team.






LAUREN: Another one.


JESSICA: Yes. They are going to have…


LAUREN: They’re sneaky.




JESSICA: They are going to have the most amazing team. I hope that this is turning out…they’re going to be the Yankees of gymnastics.


LAUREN: We should just send every US female gymnast who can’t make US national teams.




LAUREN: Like Mykayla Skinner can go.




LAUREN: Abby Milliet can go. They can all go to Azerbaijan because I want them to win Worlds.


JESSICA: Kennedy Baker! I want her on their team.






JESSICA: I want her to go and just win beam, everywhere around the world. Like, her and Pavlova can be buddies.


LAUREN: Exactly.


JESSICA: They can hang out together. Oh my God. This is just, I love this. And I wonder if Azerbaijan would be interested? I mean, I wonder if other people will get recruited. I wonder if Casey Jo Magee is going to get a call…


LAUREN: Oh my God.


JESSICA: …and they’re going to be like, “Be our bars and beam specialist.” Like, they’re going to recruit her out of Missouri coaching and send her there.


LAUREN: I kind of want to send Brenna there! She’ll really…




LAUREN: She’ll do so well for them.


JESSICA: So this weekend, there was the Welsh Open Championships. So it’s, anyone can compete, so the British girls all competed. Some are recovering from injuries, but they competed. And God, I just love what Britain is doing. I just am so freaking excited for that country and what’s happening with their gymnastics. So Rebecca Tunney, you’ll remember her from the Olympic team…


LAUREN: She has the real high bun.




LAUREN: She’s the one that Al Trautwig said would need Dr. Phil when she fell off beam like, three times at SCAM.


JESSICA: What did he say?


LAUREN: In 2012 when she was at SCAM she fell off beam three times, and he said, “She’s going to need Dr. Phil in her future!”




JESSICA: That’s…oh my…


LAUREN: And he said, “That’s the last we’ll ever see her.” Because she’s going to be so embarrassed or something.


JESSICA: Oh my God, Al Trautwig. Oh Jesus. Oh my God. Okay, so. She’s now becoming a force. And she threw a church, which is a toe on tkachev, to a Bhardwaj, a full twisting pak. A full twisting flip to the low bar. Connected. Beautifully. That is…I just, she totally blows me away. That is such a cool, cool, freaking amazing transition and connection, and I just love that they’re just continuing the Tweddle legend of insane connections in Great Britain. It lives on!

Also, Hannah Whalen, who is on the British team, and who, if you follow her on Twitter, you know her Twitter for her gorgeous, like, what was it, like Vogue photo shoot or something, where she’s like, wearing that white dress, she’s doing a back kick, and she’s just, oh. Beautiful. So she, she did, are you ready for this?




JESSICA: So she does a side aerial to two layout step outs. Two of them.


LAUREN: Oh, wow. Oh, a side aerial into two layout step outs.


JESSICA: That’s pretty dope, right? Like, a side aerial to a layout is rare.


LAUREN: Wow. I was picturing like, a front aerial, but now I’m picturing a side aerial, and I’m like, “What?”




LAUREN: Yeah. That’s awesome.


JESSICA: Pretty cool. And thank you to Daniel for keeping us up on this, he’s one of our listeners. I think he’s in Ireland. I want to say Ireland, Daniel. We’re Irish, [clicks tongue] Oh my God, I might be, like, Ireland, not Northern Ireland. I’m pretty sure it’s Ireland and not Northern Ireland, I don’t want to get that wrong.


So the other news in, in the Instagram-verse. It’s not the Twitter-verse, it’s the Instagram-verse, is that Steve Legendre, you know he injured himself at Winter Cup and wasn’t quite clear if it was a bicep injury or a pec injury, but it looks like he’s had his surgery and there are some very gruesome photos on Instagram of his surgery. But it looks like he’s been patched up and recovering well at home with his wife, the trampolinist. Those two have had so many surgeries together. [LAUGHS] They are going to be, that house must be, just like, they must have crutches, and ice packs, all over the place.


LAUREN: Wait, who is his wife again? Oh, I’m confused.


JESSICA: It’s Alaina Williams.


LAUREN: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, trampoline. Yeah.




LAUREN: Yeah, yeah. I was thinking Kayla Nowak, she’s with Jake Dalton or something.


JESSICA: Jake Dalton, yeah.


LAUREN: It’s hard to keep these couples, like, who’s…


JESSICA: I know. Oklahoma is like, literally a breeding ground for gymnasts.




LAUREN: Yeah, they are.


JESSICA: Oh! And the Michigan’s men’s team is like in Puerto Rico for spring break. Did you

see their pictures?


LAUREN: Ooh, no.


JESSICA: They’re like, doing rings on, literally on tree branches on the beach. [LAUGHS] I’m not kidding! I was like, “What!” Who’s not going to want to go to that school?


LAUREN: So does Sam Mikulak get to join them?


JESSICA: Yeah, he’s there with them.


LAUREN: Oh good, I thought he’d be left behind.




LAUREN: I understand it’s the team.


JESSICA: I’m sure Fabian is there with them too now too. He’s like, “Oh, you guys are going to Puerto Rico after this? Okay, I’m coming.” [LAUGHS] He’s like their mascot.


LAUREN: Yeah, best buddies. Yeah.




JESSICA: So, I have…we now have a new segment called the “Rage-o-Meter.” Because, you know, I get very upset about things and I have to have a place to go off about them. So this week’s Rage-o-Meter—and if you have anything you want to rage out about, Lauren, we are here for you.


LAUREN: No, I’m, I didn’t have that much rage this weekend. I think.




JESSICA: Okay. Well, if you do, just let me know any time.


LAUREN: Okay, yeah. I’ll rage with you, yeah.


JESSICA: So the first thing is, that I’m disgusted by, is all these little kids who were in the crowd at the American Cup, and when the camera came near gymnast who has traveled from far and wide around the world to compete for us in our country. The camera came close that gymnast to capture their performance, and these little kids would wave like crazy in the stands and totally distract the audience from the gymnast performing.




JESSICA: First of all, it’s totally rude. Second of all, it’s distracting to the gymnast. Third of all, it makes all Americans look like asses. And if any of the adults around those kids, if you were doing that to, than you’re totally at fault. If I was around those, I would have been slapping those kids’ hands down, and if they did it again I would have called the usher and asked them to remove those kids. Because it’s unsafe and it’s totally bad etiquette, and shame on you! All of you kids who did that, that’s totally not okay. That’s bad etiquette, and we do not do that here. This isn’t freaking hockey. Which, I love hockey and it’s totally okay if you do that in hockey. But in gymnastics we don’t do that. So let that be a lesson to you, and any coaches out there…


LAUREN: I feel like…


JESSICA: Go ahead.


LAUREN: I feel like, yeah. But going along, I work in theater, like, on Broadway, and there was this woman the other night who said, “Do you have any of those glittery glow sticks that we can wave around during the show?” And I’m like, “You’re not at the circus! You’re at a Broadway show, where people, like, are singing in front of you and trying to do their jobs.” I feel like it’s similar for gymnastics than for other sports. Because people go to like, baseball games and people are like drunk and screaming. And hockey obviously people are drunk and fighting each other. And it’s like they think, “Oh, this is acceptable behavior for every sports game.” But you don’t do that at gymnastics. You don’t do that at figure skating. There are sports that really need, like, can you imagine at a golf game? [LAUGH] Like, I mean…


JESSICA: Right? There’s etiquette! Exactly! The thing is, I remember exactly when I was a kid, we went to special performances for kids on Broadway, and we went to one of the symphony. The symphony in the town where I grew up. And they taught us etiquette. Like, before the show started they came out and they taught us the proper etiquette. And they taught us what to do at certain times. And then we watched the show, and we knew. And I feel like, you know, if you take your kid, or your niece, or your whatever, your gymnastics team and you’re the coach to these meets, it’s your job to teach them that etiquette. So if there’s coaches out there who are listening to this show, take your team aside and teach them this. Because gymnastics is becoming a bigger sport, we’re going to have more things covered on TV, and even if it’s not on TV, it’s not okay to do this. It’s just, it made me so mad that I was just like, “Where are their parents and why aren’t they doing their jobs?”


LAUREN: Yeah, yeah, I would have been mad about that. I would have raged about that, definitely.


JESSICA: No. The other thing that I wanted to mention is that… This isn’t something I’m really enraged about, but, you know, I’m really jealous that ice skating [LAUGHS] and ballet and dancers, and I guess this happens on Broadway, but actors too, right? They get flowers thrown on to the stage when they do a great job.




JESSICA: And they get, especially in Japan, or maybe they do this in other countries too, but they’ll throw like, plushie toys, like, stuffed animals onto the stage, onto the ice.




JESSICA: And they do, so the fans have great etiquette about it. They cover, they wrap the toys or the flowers in plastic or paper so that nothing falls off onto the ice. And it’s such a….I just love that it’s like, a show, it’s such a great old tradition from the old days of ballet, of throwing the flowers on the stage, you know?




JESSICA: And I just totally want to start that in gymnastics.




JESSICA: I want us to do it. And I think NCAA would be, college gymnastics would be the perfect place to start it. Because it’s, it’s the perfect environment to try something new like that. And I think if people wait ‘til the gymnast is totally done; and they’re not going to get whacked in the head with something; and no one else is competing, so you’re not going to, you’re not throwing it over the bars, in between the bars, onto the floor, over the vault runway, you know, something crazy like that! As long as it’s, you know, not in anyone else’s way I think this would be such a cool tradition to start…




JESSICA: If it’s done responsibly and doesn’t get in the way of other athletes. I think it’s something that would be so fun. Just like, launch a stuffed animal onto the floor? How cool would that be? If you were done with that routine, and [LAUGHS] you had like flowers and stuffed animals, I just think that would be so cool. So.




JESSICA: I may do this.


LAUREN: That would’ve been cool at American Cup, when they do the whole finale at the end, when they give awards to the best guy and the best girl, if Ebee and Sam were standing there and people were just throwing crap at them, that would have been amazing.


JESSICA: Yes! Right, wouldn’t it be so cool?




JESSICA: Why can’t we bring some of these cool traditions from other sports into gymnastics? I just think, I think it would be great.


LAUREN: Except being drunk and screaming.


JESSICA: Right. Exactly, exactly. Yes. Not that. [LAUGHS] So I…




JESSICA: …want to challenge you guys to do this at an NCAA meet in a responsible, safe manner. So if you have flowers, you have to wrap them up in paper, wrap them up in plastic, something like that. Take a video of it, take a picture of it, send it to us. Let’s start a trend. Let’s do it. We can add this to your gymitate contest.


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 five dollars on your next purchase with the code “gymcast.”


If you guys want us to discuss something on the show, if you want us to solve a problem for you, if you want us to answer a question, if you want us to discuss something, if there’s a routine that you’re dying to have our opinions on or you really want us to know about or comment on, let everyone on the show know about, send it to us. We are at You can also call us and leave a voicemail on our 415-800-3191. Or we’re on Skype—call us for free from anywhere in the world on Skype. We’re at GymcastPodcast, that’s our user name on Skype. We’re also on Twitter, we’re super, super chatty on Twitter. Like, you can always find us on Twitter. And Lauren is all over Twitter too. Lauren, what’s your Twitter handle for everybody?


LAUREN: L-C-H-O-P-S-9-6. Lchops96.


JESSICA: [singsong] L-chops.


LAUREN: That’s my Twitter name. Yeah.


JESSICA: I’m also going to ask you guys to, if you have time, fill out the survey from Safe for Athletes on our website. They are trying to gain some information on abuse in gymnastics and what people’s experiences are. We’ve had them on the show, on our preventing abuse show. So we’ll put the link up. Remember to enter our gymitation contest! Send us a picture or a video of you doing gymnastics imitating your favorite gymnast. And it can be a pose, it can be a skill, it can be a facial expression, you can just send a picture of your wrist bent over past 90 degrees, if you’re imitating some specific gymnast. And just hashtag it and tag us in it. You can put it on Twitter, you can put it on Instagram. The word is “gymitation.” G-Y-M-I-T-A-T-I-O-N. The Gymitation Contest.  [LAUGHING] Hashtag it and tag us, and you can win chalk and fantastic t-shirts.




Until next week, I’m Jessica, from Masters Gymnastics.


LAUREN: I’m Lauren, from


JESSICA: Thank you so much for listening and don’t forget to visit The Couch Gymnast. And

thank you so much to Lauren for being on! We’ll see you guys next week!




JESSICA: Remember to enter. [LAUGHING] You want to write “gymitation.” G-Y-M, im-i-ta-tion contest. So…


LAUREN: No, you’re saying “gym imitation.”


JESSICA: Yeah, “gymitation.”


LAUREN: I thought it was “gymitation,” but you just said “gym imitation.”


JESSICA: Oh, I mean “gymitation.” Did I just spell…oh…


LAUREN: You had said “Hashtag, gym imitation.”




JESSICA: I totally have it written down!


LAUREN: I don’t want anyone to be confused!


JESSICA: I totally have it written down two different ways, and my husband comes over here, he’s like, waving his arms, like, “Don’t embarrass yourself! Hey! Stop saying it wrong!”

[LAUGHS] Yeah, and I’m like, “Yeah, Lauren’s telling me the same thing in the headphones.” He’s giving you, he’s giving you the thumbs up, Lauren. He’s like, “Thank you, Lauren.” He’s like, “This is what I have to put up with every day.”




JESSICA: Okay. The name again is gym-i-tation. It’s G-Y-M-M. No.




LAUREN: Bravo.


JESSICA: Oh my God.




LAUREN: Bravo.


JESSICA: [WHEEZING] I can’t even…Oh my God. [LAUGHING] My husband’s on the couch with his hands over his face, shaking, he’s laughing so hard. Okay, so. Let me try it again.