Transcripts: Episodes 81-90

[expand title=”Episode 81: Jenny Hansen”] Forthcoming [/expand]

 

[expand title=”Episode 82: Cottbus, English Championships & Danusia Francis finally gets a 10 on beam!”] Forthcoming [/expand]

 

[expand title=”Episode 83: University of Georgia Head Coach Danna Durante”]

DANNA: We, I believe and I teach and we embrace a culture that accepts people for

who they are and you know not everybody is going to come with that same view. It is

a part of, you’re right, the south tends to be more, um, based in their faith, um, but you

know not everybody’s going to come with that same view or that same faith or having

grown up going to church, um and that’s, you know that’s fine. We, I want our team and

our culture is that we accept everybody for who they are. We love everybody for who

they are. They don’t want four of the same coaches. I don’t want seventeen of the same

athletes.

 

[EXPRESS YOURSELF INTRO MUSIC]

 

JESSICA: Today, Georgia Head Coach Danna Durante.

 

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JESSICA: This is episode 83 for March 23, 2014. I’m Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics,

and this is the best gymnastics podcast of all time, bringing you all the most fascinating

people from around the gymternet. Today we’re talking to Danna Durante from the

University of Georgia. Later this week we’ll bring you full meet recaps from the U.S. and

Jesolo and all of the NCAA Conference Championships. Remember that you can support

the show by subscribing by email. You can subscribe on Stitcher or iTunes. You can

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of the show. Remember to enter our gymitation contest. Just, um, go to our website to

the gymitation prizes to check out what we have for you. Just tag us with the hashtag

gymitation and imitate your favorite gymnast with a pose or a skill or most recently we

had someone imitating their favorite commentator. Um, we had an “oh boogers” entry,

[LAUGHS] which I love. So enter the gymitation contest. We can’t wait to see what you

guys come up with.

 

[SOUND BYTE]

 

JESSICA: Today’s interview with Danna Durante is brought to you by TumblTrak. One

of the most frustrating parts of coaching team or rec classes is a lack of space, equipment,

and not enough stations to keep the kids all going at once. And when you’re a kid you

know there’s nothing worse than standing in line, waiting. And of course when you’re

a parent paying for classes there’s nothing worse than watching your kid just standing

around. This is why I love circular equipment like TumblTrak’s fitness wheel. The fitness

wheel is a round, blow-up wheel with handles and a removable trampoline bed in the

center. I love that you can get like five kids around this thing- using it for handstand

drills, for kickovers, for balance challenges on the rim of the wheel, and it’s really fun.

Like, you can put the trampoline bed in the middle and then you can cross vault, like

cross tumbling. You can have kids going one way down the diagonal to vault on one

side and then kids coming from the other way using it like a vault on the other diagonal.

It’s super fun. You can build an entire lesson plan around the fitness wheel- from drills,

to skills, to conditioning and games. Check out the fitness wheel and much more at

tumbltrak. That’s T-U-M-B-L T-R-A-K. tumbltrak.com. Tumbltrak. Do it again.

 

[SOUND BYTE]

 

JESSICA: Danna Durante is a very, very good coach. And before she was a coach she

was an elite gymnast in the Kristie Phillips, Kelly Garrison-Steves era. She grew up in

Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was a two-time member of the U.S. National Team and she was

coached by Kristi Krafft. She qualified for the 1988 Olympic Trials and she placed

twentieth. Durante graduated from Arizona State in 95. She had a bachelor’s degree in

exercise science and wellness. She was an All-Pac-10 gymnast, back before there was

Pac-12, from the Sun Devils, from 92 to 95, and scored five perfect tens while she was a

collegiate gymnast. She also met her husband, Joe, at Arizona State, where he was a

gymnast as well. Gymnastics love story! We’re totally going to get to that in this

interview. After graduating Durante was an elite level judge from 96 to 2000. She

coached club for awhile then went to the University of Washington, then had a very

successful coaching run for about nine years at the University of Nebraska. Then she

went to UC Berkeley where she turned that team around like nobody’s business. She was

only at Cal for a year, but seriously it was like watching a cactus bloom. In just a year at

Cal they scored the highest team score in five years. It was just incredible to see what

happened there. She really was like watching a whole different program when she took it

over. After Cal she took over the program at Georgia from Jay Clarke. In the first year

under her leadership at Georgia they went from not qualifying to Nationals to getting

back into the Super-Six for the first time since 2009. This interview was recorded on

March 5th

 

[SOUND BYTE]

 

JESSICA: Okay, so we had Tricia Woo on the show awhile back.

 

DANNA: Oh…

 

JESSICA: Yes!

 

DANNA: Yes! Woo!

 

JESSICA: Woo! The Woo! Um, and she was one of my absolute all-time favorite,

favorite beam workers in NCAA, and followed her career into the circus. And I asked her

specifically, what led her to get to the point where she was on beam, which I feel like,

she, you know, she should have been the NCAA champion on beam. And she specifically

said it was you. It was all you, because she didn’t believe in herself and you said to her,

she was like around all of these elites when she was competing. There was the whole

Olympic team basically went to college then and you made her believe that she could do

 

DANNA: Oh my gosh. I had no idea she said that and I, ah, I’m excited. I’m excited

to hear it because I mean that was a work. These young women are just a work. It’s a

process. I love the coaching, but I love the mentoring even more and so for her to say

that me believing in her and getting her to believe in herself made a difference brings me

great pride and great fulfillment. I mean, okay, I’m doing the right thing. I’m doing the

right thing, because she’s amazing. I agree with you. She’s one of my favorites and I still

can see her today just the way she moved. The way she commanded attention on beam.

The way that she performed her skills was phenomenal. I wish I had one more year with

her, because I think she, if I could have gotten her just that much more she would have

been NCAA Champion on beam. She was incredible.

 

JESSICA: Yes. So what is your magic formula on beam? I have to say that your beam

performance, I think it stands out. There’s, I’m very opinionated about choreography

especially, ugh, so I’m enjoying the choreography this year. I think the team looks really,

I think they look really confident on beam. Um, I don’t think their scores always reflect

that and every once in awhile the freshmen have nerves. This happens. You got to get

used to that stuff. And it’s a young team.

 

DANNA: Yes.

 

JESSICA: Um, but what is your magic formula on beam? What’s happening on beam this

year?

 

DANNA: You know I have to give credit for choreography to Cassidy McComb. She

helps a great deal, actually puts the routines together and then I’ll tweak a thing here or

there or we’ll work together to make it look like I want it to look or fit that athlete. And

for me, just specifically choreography should, um, it should move you. You know? It

should move you with the performance. And it should, the judges should be able to get

lost and the fans should be able to get lost in the way that you move on beam. It

shouldn’t look like you’re on four inches. It should look like you are, you know, on a

huge dance floor and you just, you entice people to get lost in the movements. And so

that’s different for each athlete. For some it’s short. For some it’s more soft movement.

For some it’s a mixture of both but um, we work really hard to try to see what works with

each athlete. And then Cassidy has just been such a godsend to me, because she has a

great eye as well. And between the two of us we’re able to say, this works, that doesn’t,

this is bothering me. You know and so we really work well together in that way. Um, and

I don’t know that there is a magic formula other than helping these young women believe

that they are as amazing as they are and really building confidence in them. And that is a

daily process. It’s not one day. It’s not one week. It’s not in the fall. I mean it literally, it

starts in June when they show up on campus and it’s every time they touch the

equipment, any event, every time you talk to them in the office or just out of the gym, it

doesn’t matter. It’s really just building confidence in them as a person and it translates

into their gymnastics. I think beam is the event that that shows it most drastically on,

either positively or negatively, because the room for error is so small. Um, but really

that’s my, that’s just my approach in general. I want these young women to believe that

they can fly. I told somebody today, you know, not everybody will fly at the same

altitude, but I want them to believe that they can fly. And so, my job, and my staff’s job,

is to instill that confidence, and that trust, and that belief, and that discipline, because

[inaudible] is hard work. You don’t just wake up one day and say, “Hey, I’m going to do

this.” It takes discipline and hard work but I think when you get young women to that

point like Kaylan Earls and Lindsey Cheek, Mary Beth Box, who’s such a great story for

me, um, and Brittany Rogers. Right now those four have just been consistently better and

better on beam and I think Kiera Brown is a freshman, is really finding her place. And

you’re right. We have great freshmen that have had nerves and will just continue to work

and ready to be amazing by the time they’re done with their career at Georgia.

 

JESSICA: And I wonder if, I know you’ve talked about this at length, so if you are like

“Oh my God. I cannot talk about this one more time.” But I wonder if you

 

DANNA: [LAUGHS]

 

JESSICA: Seriously, it’s totally okay. But I wonder if you, you know, did you have to

draw upon your own teachings when you arrived at Georgia and there was just this, you

know, complete cultural shift? And you know, you could see when you watched on TV

that there was the team was just not there with you. And you know, everything turned

around and you guys had that breaking point, but did you have to dig down and find those

own, your own lessons about being positive and believing that this could, you know,

change? Was it a, did that happen for you?

 

DANNA: Well, um, that’s a, that’s a good question. You know all I know is that

everyday I show up still, um I did it in California. I did it Nebraska. Did it my first day at

Georgia and every day still show up and my ultimate goal is to be consistent and

absolutely to instill confidence and belief in these young women. Um, and that takes it

takes time. So last year coming in we knew as a staff it would be about relationships. We

knew that it was important to show those young women, even though they didn’t know

us, they weren’t excited about the change. And we understood that. We all knew that

going in. It wasn’t about us coming in and sort of cleaning house and very firm and

making all of these changes. It was about us coming in and showing those young women

that we absolutely love what we do and we absolutely love the opportunity to be able to

work with them. And we were absolutely going to give every single thing we had every

day. And we wanted what was best for them as people, as gymnasts, for the program of

Georgia Gymnastics. And I think we just, every day would come in with that and

sometimes it would take a staff member, you know, Phillip Ogletree reminding me, or

Jay Hogue reminding Phillip, or me reminding one of them that “Hey this is our mission.

This is our goal. This is where we’re going,” so that we all stayed on that same page all

year. And eventually it just took time and we knew that. It just took time and so people

have asked me, “What was that turning point?” I don’t really know, because it was

different for every athlete. And I will say that even some came back this summer and we

still had work to do to get over the hump. But, when you love what you do, when you

absolutely believe in your vision, in your mission, and it’s just part of who you are it

doesn’t feel like a job. It doesn’t feel like it’s hard. It’s just part of this is who you are.

And so I believe that is absolutely the case for both Jay, Jay Hogue and Phil Ogletree and

for myself. So I don’t know if that answers your question but it really just, it was just a

process, and we knew that’s what it was going to be. And eventually everybody came

around and realized we absolutely adore that team from last year. We adore the team

from this year. We have goals and we’re just going to keep working until we reach them.

 

JESSICA: It is, it’s interesting to hear that there was no specific turning point, because I

always imagine that there was one point that you know, someone, if it was a coach or a

gymnast or whatever, just burst into tears, threw themselves on the ground…

 

DANNA: No.

 

JESSICA: and was like “Ahh!” and um maybe that’s just how I would have handled it.

 

DANNA: Yeah there wasn’t. I told the girls early on that drama is just not my thing. I

don’t love drama. I know it is part of life but we are certainly not going to look to create

  1. So they, they very quickly would come if it was a hard day or if they would struggling

and say, “I know you don’t like tears in the gym but I’m really struggling with this.”

I’d say, “Okay well let’s talk it through. Um, okay let’s finish the workout and we’ll

go in the office and we’ll sit down and spend thirty minutes talking it through. I think,

I think that consistency and that sort of this is just the way we’re going to do it helped

them be able to come in and do their job and not get sticky with emotions. Because they

were emotional it was hard. So maybe that’s why there wasn’t that one moment. I think

maybe the girls could tell you, “This was the moment for me. This was the moment for

me.” Maybe for each of them there would be a different moment, but for us as a staff it

was just the entire year of us continuing to work and believe. And you know showing up

on the floor at Super-Six I think the girls, and I think we all finally really felt together.

Um, but I would not say before that. You know we worked hard. I felt like there were

connections that I felt we still had to keep working and so we did.

 

JESSICA: And, you know, Suzanne Yoculan, Jay was there of course, but Suzanne

Yoculan was just a huge influence on the program, built the program. And a lot of people

have wondered if she ever, if she just totally took herself out and let you do your thing, or

if she has ever talked to you, given you advice…

 

DANNA: Oh yeah.

 

JESSICA: She has?

 

DANNA: She, yeah absolutely. And I think, I think she would totally take herself out, but

I absolutely we speak on a regular basis. We meet on a regular basis. She did. She built

that program from nothing. I mean it was in the 80’s, you know there was a team there.

They were good. Never won a championship. She took that team from a couple hundred

people in the stands, if that, to what it is today. And I, I don’t know how anybody in their right mind can’t just, um, want to know all of that and soak it in. I want to know the battles that she’s fought. I want to know the struggles. I want to know what didn’t work for her, but that she tried so that I have a frame of reference for every facet of that program. And she developed and was very, very good about instilling confidence in her athletes. They won five in a row and ten total. That doesn’t happen without those young women believing that they were capable of whatever was set in front of them and so I think that there are so many things that she developed and she became just a genius at her craft. And she’s brilliant and she’s sharp. And all of those things I certainly will never claim nor that I claim that I know it all. I want to know, what did she do? What battles did she fight? When she was clicking, what made it easy? When she wasn’t…when they hadn’t won a championship in five years, why? What was the difference? What did she find? You know, I want to know all of that. So I ask her. And she’s, you know, she’s just been very helpful for me, especially with the community of Athens. That’s important. Gymnastics is tremendously important. It’s a huge piece of the Athens community, and even in the Atlanta community, and that’s something absolutely my obligation and my honor to continue to grow and be a part of and make sure that Georgia Gymnastics stays in the forefront of everybody’s minds. She didn’t do all that work for it to drop. So I want to know what ideas does she have? What does she see that’s different? What, you know, who could she introduce me to to help me keep this going? Those are all things that I absolutely want to know and I’m very thankful that she’s willing to share them with me, because it has made this transition for me much, much easier.

 

JESSICA: So do you feel, this is what we’re going [LAUGHS], you know, in Suzanne’s book she talks about how she built up the rivalry with Alabama…

 

DANNA: Yes.

 

JESSICA: and the different tactics she used like, um, like starting to wear the like the evening gowns to the meets and stuff like that…

 

DANNA: Yeah.

 

JESSICA: and so we’re not going to see you in an evening gown though, right? You’re

 

going to keep to your normal…

 

DANNA: No. No.

 

JESSICA: You’re going to… [LAUGHS]

 

DANNA: Yeah. No, no no. I can’t do that and I think people, I, I’ve got this a lot and I still do, “Oh Suzanne Yoculan- big shoes to fill.” And I always say, “My shoes are a size seven and a half and that is the only shoe I can wear.

 

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]

 

DANNA: I’m me and I have to be me and the great thing about Suzanne is that she understands that as well. Umm, you know, I have my personality, who I am, what’s comfortable for me, and umm, in some ways it’s very different than, than what Suzanne did and that is okay. And I’m very comfortable with that. Ultimately we have the same goal- obviously to continue to win championships at Georgia and to continue to keep that legacy and that tradition and that history growing. But I cannot do it acting as though I’m Suzanne. I’m not, and so I’ll do things my way. You know it’s rare that I wear heels, although I have fans that want me to wear heels.

 

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]

 

DANNA: I tell them I’ll work on it, but for me it’s about the athletes on the floor. It’s about the work that they’ve put in and I want them to shine. I don’t want to be, although I’m the face of the program, and I understand that, when it’s on the floor it’s the athletes. I want them to receive all the credit and all the glory and all the fame that’s due them so I’ll be in the back in my black slacks and my sweater [LAUGHS], and my sensible shoes, and that’s good.

 

JESSICA: Being true to yourself is an excellent lesson…

 

DANNA: Yes.

 

JESSICA: to embody for your athletes so we definitely appreciate that. So let’s talk about what’s happening with vault scoring because the gymternet, as we call it, is outraged, outraged, every week we get letters about Lindsey Cheek and links to her videos, and every week we talk about how she does a per-fect Yurchenko full, sticks it, sticks it so much that she stands there, she can wave, she like makes a point of it for like ten seconds…

 

DANNA: [LAUGHS]

 

JESSICA: before she turns to the judges like, “Hello! I did it again!” Still no ten! What is happening?

 

DANNA: Yeah.

 

JESSICA: And can we as fans do anything? Do we need to write some letters? What can we do?

 

DANNA: Oh my goodness. Well I have to be very careful because I’m really not allowed to talk about officiating, um or judging. So I certainly don’t want to get myself in trouble. I will tell you that she can perform what seems like the same vault week in and week out and you’re right, she stands there and holds that landing. So you know our goal is, and you know what, I think we have a huge group of incredible vaulters. Chelsea Davis- she starts our lineup off. I feel like that athlete is powerful and strong and sticks it every time. And we’ve got Brittany and Brandie who just keep getting better with their form and their shape on the one and a half and finding that landing. And although we have some young faces- oh and Cat Hires- hello!- huge vault. We have a young face or two that kind of comes in and out in Ashlyn or in Lauren Johnson or in Morgan Reynolds. We have a huge team of vaulters and she is one of those. We’re just going to keep working. We’re just going to keep working. Cheek’s going to keep sticking that vault. Chels is going to keep sticking that vault. We’re going to keep working on those, the dynamic, the height, the landings, all of those things, and lord willing it will come when it’s supposed to come. But you know we’re not going to do anything different, especially, with Cheek. She’s just flat out amazing. She’s flat out amazing. And, uh, yeah, I’m gonna say, I gotta steer clear of what they should do, or what you should do. I’m just happy that the fans see that vault as big as we see it, because we’re blown away. And you know what? She vaults like that every day in practice. So, uh, it’s not a shock. It’s not a shock to us. Lord willing that time will come at some point and certainly she deserves it. We’ll be waiting for it when it’s there [LAUGHS].

 

JESSICA: Awesome. Well I’m glad, I’m impressed that she hasn’t gotten in her own head about getting a ten. Like she does the same vault every time. Sometimes when people know they can do it then they’re trying so hard every time and then the consistency goes away, and that she does that every time, it’s just I love it.

 

DANNA: She, yeah absolutely, and you know what, we, she and I talk about that. We talk about keeping her head out of the clouds, so to speak, and same with the bar lineup. They’re number one in the country. Three girls ranked in the top five. We talk about that, keep your, keep your head out of the clouds. It doesn’t matter where you’re ranked. What matters is the way that you train every day and the way that you show up to compete everyday. And if your head is distracted with, um, trying to live up to last week’s performances or trying to, um, be perfect, or trying to live up to that expectation, of what other people might be saying about you, it’s a distraction. It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s a distraction. So stay on cue, simple, the things that you need to do, technically, uh to compete free, and we’ve talked a lot about that lately because this team is loaded with potential and we’re getting to the point where they’re understanding what that means to compete free and just leave it all out on the floor. So Cheek and I talk about that on a regular basis. Just keep your mind clean and do the little things that you need to do. Nothing else matters. Your outside conversations don’t matter. Parents, fans, it’s great that they support you, but you just keep your head clear and focused on this one skill, this one turn, this one meet, and she’s done an amazing job doing that. And we’ll continue to have that conversation, because I don’t want to wait to not have it and have it get in her head, because you’re right, those perfectionist athletes they get a standard and then nothing else is good enough. And so I just want her to say, “You know what? 9.95 is okay. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with a 9.925. You just stay in your moment and keep doing what you’re doing.”

 

JESSICA: Let’s talk about the floor line up for a minute. I am so impressed with the difficulty. A lot of times we’ve talked about how some of the schools are really going above and beyond to show what they can do and try to push those scores up, and especially Brandie Jay. What is your determination with deciding what, how consistent they have to be in order to push that level of difficulty on floor?

 

DANNA: That’s a good question. We feel like a balance is really important. I know early on when we had that crazy schedule at the beginning of the year we really, we took, we didn’t do anything that was very difficult. We only did double backs and very simple tumbling for the most part, because we knew we were going to have five meets in fifteen days and it just didn’t make sense to kill them and pound them right off the bat. So you know, there’s, with Brandie in particular, she spends a lot of time on Trak. She spends a lot of time doing some basics, even just double backs, because for her the full out is not difficult. For her it’s being consistent with the way that she takes off and being patient. So I don’t worry about the full out. I really, Phil spends a lot of time working with her on the technical side of what’s in front of the full out, because like everything else, when she does that correct, the full out just happens. Consistency, you know, they need to be able to nail it in the gym and they need to be very confident in the gym. Not necessarily going on the floor every time, but going up high or even on the Trak, just consistently doing the take off the correct way. And I’m really proud of our floor lineup. I’m proud of Phil and Cassidy and just the way the time and the attention and the detail that they’ve spent on floor, because certainly we started out with much easier tumbling and we’ve progressed to a good balance I think, with Brittany Rogers doing the double Arabian and Brandie doing the full out, um you know the other tumbling is very high. Mary Beth Box and Cat Hires, essentially double pike and double tuck and combination tumbling pass, but through the roof. Like literally Mary Beth and Cat drop down from the sky and into their landings. And that’s impressive in and of itself. So I think we do have a good balance there, and I’m excited about our floor lineup. I’m excited about what they’ve been doing. Kaylan Earls too, that little one just lights it up. You know she comes out there and she just puts a smile on everybody’s face and so, I’m excited about where this floor team has, is going, and what we’ve come through so far. No question they’ve busted their tails throughout the year to get more consistent, to get more powerful, and to get more confident. I mean, I think the confidence was lacking on floor, but they’re in a great place right now, and I just see them taking off and flying through the rest of the season.

 

JESSICA: You know coming from Berkeley to the south, you know there’s a stereotype that religion plays a greater role in your daily life in the south than in other parts of the country. And you notice when we watch the meets in the SEC that the team will pray together, that both teams will come to the center of the floor and pray afterwards, and that gymnasts just tend to be in their interviews as well. And traditionally at Georgia they’ve been more vocal about their religion and their lives and you know, it can be a big part of a team ambiance I guess I would say. So as a coach, you know in the past there’s been, like when there was the interview with Kat Ding and she talked about how she kind of felt ostracized as you know being someone who wasn’t a religious person on the team. How do you manage kind of the balance on the team if you have a gymnast who is very vocal about their religion? Maybe they want to text Bible verses to other gymnasts or they’re someone who wants to maintain their, their own…

 

DANNA: Beliefs

 

JESSICA: separateness from them? Yeah.

 

DANNA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a great question. We, my view and my culture, my faith is incredibly important to me, but I don’t feel that it’s my place to shove it down anybody else’s throat. If they have questions and they want to talk about it I am more than happy to dive into it. But, we, I believe and I teach and we embrace a culture that accepts people for who they are and you know not everybody is going to come with that same view. It is a part of, you’re right, the south tends to be more, um, based in their faith, um, but you know not everybody’s going to come with that same view or that same faith or having grown up going to church, um and you know that’s fine. We, I want our team and our culture is that we accept everybody for who they are. We love everybody for who they are. They don’t want four of the same coaches. I don’t want seventeen of the same athletes. I want people who think for themselves, who stand up for what they believe, if they have questions that they have the confidence and the courage to ask them and realize that sometimes we agree to disagree and that’s okay. That is totally okay, but at the end of the day we are a team and we love each other, and we fight for each other, and we work hard for each other. And a lot of times, you know, people’s faith plays a huge role in that. For me it’s huge. I mean it just is. I have athletes on the team where that’s not the case. I love them the same. I love them the same. I want to back them the same. I want them to feel like they can fly the same as somebody who maybe shares my faith. Does that make sense?

 

JESSICA: Umm-hmm

 

DANNA: So I want everybody to be their own individual and be very comfortable in who they are, what they believe, why they believe it, or why they don’t believe it. And then our job as a team is to accept and love and embrace each other knowing that we’re all different, and that’s what makes us such a great team. That’s what makes, I think, [inaudible] that people are very different. They have different viewpoints. That should not be scary. That should not be scary. It should be, “Okay, explain to me why? Explain to me why? Okay. Well okay I understand that. I’m not going to say I agree with it but I understand that, okay.” It has to be a respect. Ultimately, there’s a respect, um, at the heart of everything else for who they are as a person and you know like I said what they believe and why they believe it. And again, at the end of the day, at the end of the year, at the end of a season, we’re united and we’re together as a family and as a team. You don’t always agree with your family, but you always love them and that’s the culture that I absolutely, I don’t think it can happen any other way. I don’t think it can be any other way.

 

JESSICA: Excellent. So we love a gymnastics love story, on this show.

 

DANNA: [LAUGHS]

 

JESSICA: We collect them, and we know that you have a gymnastics love story.

 

DANNA: I do.

 

JESSICA: Yes. So will you tell us how you met your husband and how he proposed?

 

DANNA: Oh yes, one of the best times of my life, best days of my life. Well people don’t, I don’t know that people really believe this, but I walked in as a freshman at ASU, which was just a great experience and a great spot for me. And of course growing up in the elite world, forty hours in the gym, never looked at boys, had zero interest, 88 was my focus and after that it was like okay I didn’t really know what I was going to do with my life, but I [LAUGHS] I was trying to figure it out. So I walked in ASU’s gym and there’s this guy and you know I’m like, “Hmm. Okay, that’s the one.” Literally saw him the first time, and he always [inaudible] me when I tell this story, he had maroon shorts and some tie-dye shirt and back then guys wore do-rags and he had a bandana tied around his hair. He was from the east coast-the furthest thing from Oklahoma, conservative, naïve, little girl that could possibly be. And I just saw him and went, “That’s it. That’s the one.” And then of course it was, we were friends through Fellowship of Christian Athletes and our coaches, you know not our coaches, but our teams were very close at that time the ASU men’s team and the ASU women’s team were very close. We did a lot of things together and we just became good friends. And then of course you know, three years later, through thicks and thins of dating and how that works, we were at our last meet together at UCLA and I had no idea [LAUGHS] no idea that he had been planning since December to ask me to marry him at the Gildemark’s invitational. And he had my mom in the stands. And he had asked my parents and all the right things of course, very sweet. And in front of 5,000 people he got down on his knee, but he didn’t know he was going to be allowed to do that until the very last second. Just chalking up for rings and Val, Miss Val, hadn’t been involved in the conversation at all, and finally somebody said, “Just go ask Miss Val if the guy from ASU can ask the girl from ASU to marry him,” because it was going on for weeks and he couldn’t get an answer. So Val said, “Well who is it? Who is it?” And he said, “Well it’s Danna Lister,” and she’s like, “Oh my gosh of course! Of course he can do it. Of course he can do it,” because Val and I have known each other for a very long time. And so anyway, he walks out onto the floor, he wasn’t supposed to get on the floor. He walks out to not the middle, but you know a good portion of the floor, pushed the envelope there, got down on his knee. My whole team is already crying and I’m looking in the stands going, “What’s going on?” I had no idea. And I turn around and there he is on his knee, and the rest is history, but yeah, I was totally blown away, totally shocked, and moved forever. He’s an amazing man and certainly as I say, my better half, 100%, always.

 

JESSICA: I love that story so much!

 

DANNA: [LAUGHS]

 

JESSICA: I love it!

 

DANNA: Yeah, it’s a very emotional moment for me because I just think I have been blessed with the absolute best man there is on the face of the earth, ever.

 

JESSICA: Ugh!

 

DANNA: He’s amazing.

 

JESSICA: And you can tell too, because I mean first of all, that is like an athlete’s dream to be, I mean so many girls have had that you know…

 

DANNA: I know.

 

JESSICA: that fantasy of like your final senior meet you know and you finish a routine and then he proposes.

 

DANNA: But he did!

 

JESSICA: And also you know he has, he’s a gymnast, he gets it. He’s moved with you to all these places, all these jobs. He’s so supportive, you know, it’s just great. It just, that just makes me so happy. Love it!

 

DANNA: And I have to say all of those decisions for him to move, I mean that was a family decision, and I told him when we left Nebraska like, you know I’m not going to take this job at Cal if you’re going to look at me in two years and say, “Oh my gosh. What did you do to this family?” You need to tell me to take this job. I almost want you to call up and tell the people that I’ll take it because…

 

JESSICA: Yep.

 

DANNA: because it had, it has to be a family. And although we’ve moved from our jobs his support has always been there, and I’ve always been willing to walk away from anything and everything if he didn’t feel like it was right. It’s just how much I trust his opinion and his outlook and his focus and he’s just very smart and he’s very sharp and he sees things from a perspective that enlightens me on a daily basis. So, I am truly, truly blessed, and I continue to be, because Georgia’s not, that’s not an easy place. There’s a lot going on. There’s a lot to do. There’s a lot of my time that is spent away from the family. And without him saying, “Nope. I love you. This is the right thing. You know, we’re here. When you get home from that next recruiting trip we’re here with the three kids. We’ll get dinner.” You know without him doing that I could never throw myself into this team, into this program, like I’ve been able to do, which you know, I love my family, and Georgia’s now an extended part of my family. So I’m incredibly thankful for him.

 

JESSICA: That’s awesome. I wondered, have you ever seen the videotape of the proposal? Do you have a copy?

 

DANNA: Yes.

 

JESSICA: You have? Okay good.

 

DANNA: Yes. It’s on YouTube. He actually asked me, “Hey can I put this on YouTube?”

 

JESSICA: Yay!

 

DANNA: He put it on YouTube.

 

JESSICA: Okay, I’m totally going to look it up, because I have a friend who just, I told him I was going to and he was like twelve or something at the time, and he was at that meet. Yeah, and he’s like…

 

DANNA: [LAUGHS] You’re kidding me?

 

JESSICA: No I’m serious. And I told him I was interviewing you and he was like, “Oh, you know I have a video of her proposal, right?” I was like, “What? What? No! I have never seen this!” So…

 

DANNA: Yeah it’s on YouTube, and it’s very sweet, and yeah it’s great.

 

JESSICA: Oh I’m totally going to find it so we can have people watch. I just love that story so much. Um, okay so I know we’re a little bit overtime here so I want to let you go, unless there’s anything else you want to discuss or get to?

 

DANNA: No, thank you so much for having me. I so enjoy the opportunity to talk about my team and how amazing they are and the support at Georgia Gymnastics is just phenomenal beyond anything I think I could have ever dreamed. So I always appreciate an opportunity to talk about how blessed I am and how fortunate I am and just how incredible this 2014 team is. The best is yet to come for this team. I’m really looking forward to our last two home meets and all we’ve got coming in post-season. It’s just it’s exciting. It’s an exciting time in the NCAA season so tell all your fans to stay on top of it. I know they love it, but those converts you were talking about, tell them the best part of the season is coming up right now.

 

JESSICA: Yes, and be sure to watch the Gymdog show as well.

 

DANNA: Yes!

 

JESSICA: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, and congratulations at really turning this team around and bringing back the Georgia that we know and love. So thank you and just congratulations.

 

DANNA: Thank you Jessica. I appreciate it. It’s been a pleasure.

 

[SOUND BYTE]

 

JESSICA: Also, in case you’re not familiar with it, Georgia has their own web series called the Gymdog Show. We’ve linked to it, we’ve linked to all the episodes so far on our website and also on our YouTube channel. If you want to know more about Georgia and all of the U.S. and international elites and Olympians that are on the Georgia team definitely check out that show. You’ll get a real behind the scenes look at what it’s like to be an elite, an international elite, an Olympian, and then go and do college gymnastics in the United States. Be sure to turn in later this week for the recap of Jesolo and all of the NCAA Conference Championships. There were some shockers. Thanks so much for listening you guys. See you later this week!

 

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

 

JESSICA: Visit elitesportzband.com, that’s “sportz” with a “z” and save $5 on your next purchase with the code, “gymcast.”
[/expand]

 

[expand title=”Episode 84: Meet Recaps! Jesolo & NCAA Conference Championships”]

JESSICA: This week, Mykayla Skinner vaulted with both arms– news from Jesolo, and major upsets from the NCAA Conference Championships.

[EXPRESS YOURSELF INTRO MUSIC]

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

JESSICA: This is episode 84 for March 26, 2014. I’m Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics.

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

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

JESSICA: This is the best gymnastics podcast in the galactic empire, bringing you all the essential news and analysis from around the gymternet!

[SOUND BYTE]

JESSICA: Have you guys entered the gymitation contest? You need to. It’s getting very serious. We’ve had an “Oh Boogers!” entry.

[LAUGHS]

JESSICA: Did you guys see the “Oh Boogers!” entry? They recreated the whole thing. Like they had a gymnast tumble and fall out of her back tuck and then the whole time the person filming is like, “She’s part of the Cherokee Nation and….”

[LAUGHS]

JESSICA: It was so funny! Oh my God! I love these entries! These are some of the best things I’ve ever seen. So, all you guys have to do is imitate your favorite gymnast, or pose, or dance, or skill, or the face they make, or their makeup, or your favorite commentator and post it on Twitter or Instagram or Vine and tag us in it and put the #gymitation in it and you can win one of our fabulous shirts from P&G Championships, or USA Gymnastics. They’re women size medium. Or you can win chalk. You know about the chalk shortage. And this chalk may have probably almost not been touched because it’s still in the wrapper by Sam Mikulak or Danell Leyva or Jake “Toe Point” Dalton. So, you guys should really enter as soon as possible, because this is the last week. We announce the winners on next week’s episode. So, you have until the thirtieth. Be sure to get your entries in!

UNCLE TIM: And if I may add in a suggestion, I would love to see a gymitation of the Jessica O’Beirne wheeze-a-giggle.

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]

UNCLE TIM: That would be fantastic.

JESSICA: Me too.

[LAUGHS]

EVAN: This week’s coverage of Jesolo and NCAA Conference Championships is sponsored by TumblTrak. Now, many gymnasts think back to their days competing often. I know I do everyday. And there are a few things that were recurring themes for me. One of them was definitely TumblTrak. And one of them definitely could have been nagging pain. But, thanks to TumblTrak and all its benefits I was without that and just got all of the fun benefits as well as learning from TumblTrak as well. So, back when I was competing TumblTrak was really important because it was the era of the triple bounding sequence so I had the opportunity to train many, many, many multiple front layouts over and over and over again. Now TumblTrak offers you the opportunity to feel something that is pretty crucial to a gymnast. And it allows you to feel and wait for the bounce of the trampoline, which then you can take onto the floor and it let’s you wait for the bounce of the floor. So, often gymnasts just rush, rush, rush, and that’s when you see knees buckle or botched tumbling passes because they don’t know how to use, wait, and be patient. So for me, TumblTrak taught me to be patient and wait because you know from the time I was eight-years-old I was ready, ready, ready, ready, ready, ready to go. Whatever I needed to do, I wanted to do it so fast. So TumblTrak and it’s kind of repetitive nature, allowed me to slow down and allowed me feel that bounce of the trampoline and them take that onto the floor, and feel the bounce of the floor to use and do those skills so perfectly. So, remember, TumblTrak- do it again. Find them online T-U-M-B-L T-R-A-K. TumblTrak.

[SOUND BYTE]

JESSICA: Let’s talk about, as they say, Città di Jesolo!

[LAUGHS]

JESSICA: Uncle Tim, that’s your cue.

EVAN: To you, Uncle Tim.

UNCLE TIM: I thought there was going to be more coming after that. All right.

JESSICA: Città di Jesolo Trofeo! I shouldn’t say it like that. I don’t have the rest.

TIM: All right. Well…

JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Done with that now.

UNCLE TIM: So let’s start with the Juniors- coming in first was Bailie Key in the all-around with a 58.25, Nia Dennis was second with a 56.3, and Norah Flatley was third with a 56.1. In the event finals Bailie Key won every event except for beam, which Norah Flatley won. And let’s start by talking about Bailie Key and her floor routine. Last year she had a really bad medley of Americana music. This year it’s completely different. She’s using Lindsey Sterling’s “Crystalize,” which is, I don’t know how to describe it, kind of a violin, dub-step piece, which sounds terrible when I describe it that way, but I actually like the music and I like the choreography. It’s a little heavy on the Nastia butt-shelf, but I do think that this suits her a little bit better. What do you think, Jess, as the most opinionated host on this show?

JESSICA: I love this routine! I think it’s the best part of- I mean you can tell it’s really choreographed- like it was really done well, and um, I think, and it has repetitive, a repetitive theme through the choreography. It’s not just poses. I really like the music. I feel like we’ve always seen her as like a cute little mighty might [SQUEAL], but this choreography brings her, it’s more mature. It brings her to a new level. I think it’s reminiscent of Kyla Ross, while doing the tumbling of a Aly Raisman, Simone Biles. So, and everything she does is so perfect. I really, really like this routine. I think it’s one of my favorite elite routines, which is shocking, because elite choreography is usually like wha-wha. So, I’m very pleased. Very pleased. Hats off to you Texas Dreams!

UNCLE TIM: O’Beirne stamp of approval. The other question with Bailie that I have, and I’d like to throw this to Evan, how do you pace Bailie for 2016? Obviously she’s winning like everything she enters. So, what would be your plan for pacing her?

EVAN: Um, basically, you just have to trust the process I guess. So, you know that might mean stepping away from some American Classic meets. I know, as important as it is, hopefully at this point Martha Karolyi knows what she’s seeing in front of her. So, I would say, you know for Bailie Key, it’s probably going to be not doing as many meets. Maybe the repetitions and the numbers come in the gym, and she’s verifying at camps, but you know some of those big competitions, and going to all of them, I just think that we need to, maybe scale her back from competition a little bit. Not necessarily Worlds and you know, Nationals and those large scale events, but you know if anything can be given to someone else, I would just, I say it’s numbers. Numbers in the competitive arena.

UNCLE TIM: Jessica is there anything you’d like to add to that?

JESSICA: Mmm, no, I mean I think that Texas Dreams is actually one of the gyms that has a very good record in terms of keeping their gymnasts healthy. I’d say one of the best records of all the elite programs. I’m trying to think of another gym that has had so many elites healthy consistently, and I can’t think of anyone. So I just think Kim knows what she’s doing, has learned from the past, and I’m not really worried about her pacing. She always looks healthy and she never looks over-trained or burnt out. So I think they’re on the right track there.    

UNCLE TIM: K. And everyone in the world wants to talk about Norah Flatley. Everyone’s a little obsessed with her, and as I said she won beam at Jesolo. And unfortunately this beam routine is behind a pay wall at Gymnastike, so Jessica we need your most detailed description of this routine. How would you describe it?

JESSICA: Oh, well, let me tell you. So imagine the tumbling of a, and power of Shawn Johnson, but the grace of a, the grace of a Danusia Francis, with an occasional wrist problem a la Sam Peszek.

UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]    

JESSICA: Or Memmel. There’s like one or two of the floppy wrists in there, Um, but, and put all of that together with the precision and packaging of a Chinese gymnast and difficulty and you have Norah Flatley. She is one of the best beam workers I’ve ever seen, even though she doesn’t have a roll so we don’t really know all of her skills.

UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]

JESSICA: But, or a spin, but, she, I just, I can’t think of anyone who has that combination of power and difficulty and precision. She is so on on every skill. I mean she does it over and over and over and over. I mean every routine, whether it’s a competition or practice looks exactly the same. She’s incredible. She’s, I think she’ll be one of the greatest of all time. I would put her up there with Shannon Miller now. That’s how incredible she is. I can’t say enough good things about her. She’s just an all-time great. No matter what happens she will be an all-time great in my mind from now on.

UNCLE TIM: To add to your description I think I’d like to add maybe the back flexibility of Hollie Vise as well. She has some very similar moves. She does a chin stand and then she does one of those scales- in cheerleading they’re called a scorpion- but her scorpion is actually with a straight back leg. So when you kind of hold your foot up by your head, and in skating it would be called-what the Biellmann position? Anyway, so yeah, she is quite impressive. She is having a little trouble connecting her flight series, which is a front aerial, front aerial, into an aerial cartwheel, but that said it’s still quite impressive. And…

JESSICA: And she has her flip flop, flip flop, layout, sissone, sissone, which is like 1992 style 1996 style gorgeous, and high, and exceptional.

UNCLE TIM: Then in the senior competition we had Kyla Ross coming in first with a 58. Peyton Ernst was in second with a 57.65, and Maggie Nichols was in third with a 57.450. One of the big moments of the meet was when Kyla Ross balked on her first vault. Um, so she ran down, and then ran past the vaulting table, and she incurred a one-point deduction for that. So according to the rules a second run is permitted but you get a one-point deduction. And we talked about this a long time ago in one of our earliest episodes, but now that we’ve seen it happen what do you guys think? Is that fair? Not fair? Evan let’s start with you.

EVAN: I think at Jesolo it’s definitely fair. And you know I think the mentality of the U.S. was like, “And that’s okay, because we would like Kyla Ross to survive her vaults right now.” So if something is wrong, um, you know, Kyla’s kind of getting back into the swing of things, and I really think that’s really what the U.S. saw this meet as. Not necessarily a time to balk on your vaults, but to go out there and compete you know, to your fullest ability, but not be sacrificing anything or, um, pushing the envelope if you’re unsure. So I think that you know Kyla just went, if this was a World Championships or an Olympic Games I think it probably would have been a different story, um, but the rule is what it is. I mean, I’m not going to argue the rules that are in place. Do I feel like it’s necessarily the most conducive to what the FIG wants to promote? I don’t know what the FIG wants to promote, but it’s just like, “Let’s just give the gymnasts motorcycles and have them like punch each other before vault and then it will be awesome, won’t it?” Like, “Oh, don’t stand in the corner!” So…

[LAUGHS]

EVAN: You know I think it fits into this weird scheme of things that they’re trying to figure out, hopefully it trickles down and we just see some normalcy, but I’m okay with Kyla taking the one-point. Obviously it worked out for her.

JESSICA: It’s an outrage! The FIG should be ashamed of themselves! There’s, this is encouraging, I mean thank God the gymnasts give two craps about this. They’re going to keep themselves safe first. But imagine if it’s like a team that this is a huge deal for them and they’re like, “You can’t ever balk!” I mean hopefully no gymnast would ever go for it. Like who, just didn’t Oleg Vernaiev just do this and he went for it anyway and almost killed himself?

UNCLE TIM: He didn’t almost kill himself. He just went for a very simple vault. But…

JESSICA: Oh.

UNCLE TIM: he probably knew that if he balked he would incur a one-point deduction.

JESSICA: Well that’s the thing. So is Kyla Ross just going to do a Yurchenko layout? I mean, pshh, no. I mean you can’t, you can’t just go for a Yurchenko layout, because you’re feet are off, that’s way too dangerous. I hate this rule! It’s stupid! I feel exactly the way I did about it when it first started and we had this whole debate. It’s outrageous to ever give someone a deduction for balking at something. Like, safety first FIG! Please!

UNCLE TIM: So to play devil’s advocate, here. Don’t you think that elite gymnasts should be to the point to where they don’t mess up their steps though? Shouldn’t that be one of the basic characteristics of an elite gymnast?

JESSICA: No.

UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]

EVAN: To counter your devil’s advocacy, shouldn’t the FIG and its officials be able to, let’s say, set the vault correctly? Hmm that’s happened. Or put the tape measure in an accurate spot? Or make sure that those things are done? You know, I think the responsibility is with the gymnast and also with the officiates of the meet and, you know, the organizers. So, there’s a lot of things that can actually happen. So, I see, I see the other side of that.

JESSICA: And the other things is, you know, in addition to what Evan’s just talking about, we’ve had situations where a giant butterfly has landed in the middle of the floor. Like, what if this kind of stuff happens? Like or if you think that someone is like running into your side view, which is what, who- okay Jeopardy, ready? Okay, say, [buzzer noise], when you guess what I’m talking about. The Chinese gymnast at the Goodwill Games in 1998 who broke her neck doing a handspring front, and she saw someone coming into her peripheral vision, and so she kind of balked, and so she ended up landing, and she sued like Time Warner or something?

EVAN: Sang Lan?

JESSICA: Thank you.

EVAN: [LAUGHS] Okay.

JESSICA: Thank you. You win this round. You forgot to say, “Who is,” but that’s okay. You know when that kind of, this things happen that are out of the gymnast’s control, and so just like Evan says, I think it’s so so important to give the gymnasts the confidence to do what’s the safest for them no matter what happens. So this whole one point thing [fart noise] I mean I wonder what happened why they decided to do this? Was there a meet where everyone just ran down half way and then like stuck their tongue out and walked back? I mean why, why do this ridiculous rule?

UNCLE TIM: That was only in Stick It.        

[LAUGHS]

EVAN: That was the great bra-strap revolution of 2006.

[LAUGHS]

UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. I can’t understand that, and I always wonder where some of these rules come from, but we will never know. Maybe one day there will be like an oral history of the FIG or something.

JESSICA: Unless someone who has the answer writes into the show and tells us exactly what happened, and who brought this up, and who voted for it. Write to us.

EVAN: First rule of FIG Fight Club- don’t talk about FIG Fight Club.

JESSICA: We’ll keep you anonymous.

[LAUGHS]

UNCLE TIM: All right, well moving on, one of the gymnasts who kind of had a little bit of a rough year last year was Madison Kocian and she ended up winning the bars at the 2014 Jesolo competition. Um, I know that we watched the routine, and my question for you guys is, is there such a thing as too much stalder work? Jessica!

JESSICA: Not when she does it!

[LAUGHS]

JESSICA: When the Chinese men overdo it on high bar, yes. When she does it, no, it’s too beautiful. I’m totally fine with it. And it’s so hard that you don’t see it a lot. It’s not like the entire team is doing it like the Chinese men- and you know this was years ago, they’re not doing this anymore I don’t think. But, yeah, it makes her stand out and she’s just gorgeous.

EVAN: Yeah, I think, I agree. I think she’s found kind of her niche on uneven bars, and she does skills that definitely work for her and just happen to give her a lot of bonus points. I think the last combination, kind of right before her dismount, where it’s like stalder half, stalder, stalder half, you’re like, “Oh, hey, oh, what, hey,”

UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]

EVAN: I think that’s where it becomes a bit obsessive to the eye, but if she’s executing it, and she’s executing it pretty well. I think there’s still a few degrees of handstands that can be tightened up a bit. Obviously you’re doing those type of half pirouettes you’re kind of opening the door pretty wide. Um, but, more power to her for constructing a routine that just kind of works for her. You know, if, you know I think in 96 if we were having this conversation, A. I would be eight, and we would be looking at Amy Chow and being like, “Oh she just does all that stuff on the low bar and even though it’s cool she just does it and then she’s just all of a sudden good.” But she had legit other skills in that routine too. So, I’m saying Kocian is a little bit Chow, a little bit Kocian, a little Cho-cian.

[LAUGHS]

UNCLE TIM: A little what was the first one?

EVAN: Cho-cian.

UNCLE TIM: Chow though?

EVAN: Yeah Chow. Amy Chow.

UNCLE TIM: Oh gotcha, sorry I was thinking of Chow’s Gymnastics.

EVAN: No…

UNCLE TIM: And I was like that’s not her coach I’m so confused. K. Total airhead moment for me. Um, what do you think of the transition, based entirely on this one routine, of the transition from um, Valeri to Laurent Landi. Do we think that based on this one routine things are looking good?

JESSICA: Yep. And we all got to see Laurence Landi more so everybody wins!

UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]

EVAN: Did you just say “Laurence Landi?”

[LAUGHS]

JESSICA: Yes, I did. [LAUGHS]

EVAN: You’re making him sound like a tuba player in like the seventh grade band.

JESSICA: [in a French accent] Laurent Landi.

EVAN: [in a French accent] Laurent.

UNCLE TIM: There we go.

EVAN: I think that obviously WOGA isn’t going to bring anybody on. And I think it’s kind of a credit to their program where you can kind of, hypothetically, I’m just thinking that if I were at WOGA, and you’re working with Valeri, and maybe you’re having to a transition or things aren’t maybe working out that well. You have another coach of that caliber who’s maybe able to approach things differently and maybe tailor his coaching style to be more conducive to what you need. And I think that’s what, a product of what we’re seeing here. Kocian looks um, to be in really good shape. Obviously we talked about the skills that she’s found that she’s very good at and can execute really well too. So, I’m thinking, good with Laurent.

UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]

EVAN: [in a French accent] Vive Laurent!

UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Nice. I’m so glad you guys have outstanding French accents because I do not. So thank you for that. Now moving on to the Italians…

JESSICA: You’re welcome.

UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS], moving on to the Italians, I I was quite impressed. The Italians were throwing some huge tumbling on floor. We had Erik Fasana- Erika Fasana- of Italy doing a double double, a tucked double double, and a double layout. And then we had Martina Rizelli throwing a big double layout as well. Jessica I know that you have many thoughts on Erika. Let ‘em all out.

JESSICA: [in an Italian accent] Erika Fasana. This is what I have to say about her. She is, probably should just, bars let’s skip it for her. Um, but, I feel like if you get like a 5 in execution maybe no on that event? Like that’s what I would get if I tried. Like I literally got 5’s on bars, like consistently throughout my gymnastics career, [LAUGHS] because I sucked so bad on bars, like horribly! Like I think the judges actually laughed when I was like, I don’t know I was like ten or something, like they were literally laughing during my routine, because it’s so bad. Um, her form just leaves something to be desired. So let’s just, you are amazing on other events, so let’s focus on those. Focus on the positive. Um, her floor, I love it! I really love it. She’s like a little Vanessa Ferrari, and I can’t get enough of Vanessa Ferrari on floor. She’s artistic, she’s expressive, she has crazy-ass tumbling. She does creative, innovative floor moves, which you know I love. Love it. Love it, love it, love it.

UNCLE TIM: To give our listeners some background to the bar comment she- first of all she did not get a 5- she got a 7.950…

JESSICA: Not low enough!

UNCLE TIME: in execution. [LAUGHS] But the crazy thing about her is the way she attempts to tap while she’s doing front giants. So as she’s going over the low bar- so she’s going forward, facing forward towards the low bar doing her front giants- and as she swings over the low bar she basically arches and straddles simultaneously. Most gymnasts if they’re tall they’ll pike, but she does a type of arch and it’s just weird. It feels like it’s slowing her down, slowing down her swing.

EVAN: Is this some Shayla Worley jazz where you know she had the front giant at the end of her routine and everyone was like, “Ew-oh! [sound of disgust] Why is that there?” Uh, cause you were like, “She’s just done like every release ever,” and then this weird, it was almost kind of like a jerky motion, like “Ooh we’re going forward and we’re going backwards and everything.” You know Shayla Worley just came to mind with wonky front giants. So…

JESSICA: No it’s like…

EVAN: Would we put Fasana in that category?

JESSICA: Worse! A hundred times worse.

EVAN: [GASPS]

UNCLE TIM: It is worse. Yeah.

JESSICA: Just like get up in your chair, squat down, put your hands over your head, and then stick your nipples out as far as you can, and that’s what they’re like.

EVAN: [SINGS] I’m your private dancer.

[LAUGHS]

EVAN: [SINGS] I’m dancing for my money.

JESSICA: I just think she’s so good on other events, that it’s just, and clearly that’s not her thing, and I don’t see it going a lot of places because it’s a lack of basics or strength on that event, so…But I have a solution for this! Because you know I have a solution for everything. And my solution is, that you know in the U.S. you have to do compulsories to qualify elite? Well, um, I think that we should have all elites should have like, should have to go to like once to qualify elite, you should have to go to like an elite compulsory international meet and be judged by the international judges, and you should have to get a 9.8 in execution scores- only execution, that’s it- on like basic skills, like front giants, back giants, one release- a Tkatchev without flexed feet and bent knees- like stuff like that, and this would fix this problem. That’s my solution.

UNCLE TIM: Okay, and so if you don’t get a 9.8 are you not allowed to compete on that event ever in international competition?

JESSICA: You can try again next year.

UNCLE TIM: Okay. More O’Beirne rules. Um, so, speaking of a gymnast who may not have the best basics, um Mykayla Skinner, she won vault and floor. And I mean she did have success at this meet and I’m curious is this gymnast growing on you, is she not growing on you, what are your thoughts? Let’s start with you Jessica.

JESSICA: Well, she, I have to say to her coaches and to her, “Hats off to you.” You, her vaults, and her floor, continue to improve by leaps and bounds and that is incredibly impressive to see such big changes at this level. Normally people get to this level they’re pretty much doing the same thing, that, you know. I’m very impressed. Like I’m not a fan. It’s not my type of gymnastics, but um, damn that girl can tumble, and she vaulted with two hands. It’s, like it was incredible. I mean it’s not like the most beautiful Amanar you’ve ever seen in your life, but huge, huge change. So, kudos.

UNCLE TIM: The Cheng’s still a little one-handy, I mean, yeah, I was impressed just by the sheer amount of tricks she has up her sleeve. So on day one she did her double twisting double layout. Then she did a tucked double double. Then she did a double Arabian and fell on the double Arabian. Then in floor finals she changed the double Arabian to a full twisting double back. Just because, you know, who can’t just throw a full twisting double back in there? Whatever. So I was impressed with that. Um, one place that still drives me a little bit crazy is on beam she is not able to do a back handspring step out with her legs straight. It’s very- ooh 1998- Chelle Stack-esque. Chelle was not very good at keeping her legs straight on step out skills. And so if there were a way for Mykayla to take the back handspring step out from of her routine I think her beam routine would be much better as well. So, to move on let’s talk about Flayg-ageddon. Oh sorry that was my Wisconsin accent coming out.

JESSICA: I was like, “What?”

UNCLE TIM: Flag-aggedon.

EVAN: Put the flayg in the bayg.

UNCLE TIM: Exactly. So, so there’s this photo that on the USA Gymnastics Facebook page. And it had the U.S. flag on the floor, and the coaches were standing around it, and one coach was also standing on top of it. And a lot of people were very upset about this. And Evan I know that you have some thoughts on this.

EVAN: Okay.

UNCLE TIM: Is this a legitimate, is this a legitimate concern? What’s going on?

EVAN: I do have some opinions on this. I want to preface this by saying that I love America. I really do. I love America. I think there’s some context missing here. I don’t think that it was a matter of like Kim Zmeskal and Bailie Key being like, “Oh hey this flag is hanging up. It’ll look so much better on the ground. Like you stand on the corner of it. We’ll gather around.” I do not think that is what happened, and I think that is how people are reacting. Is it unfortunate that an American icon was on the floor and that’s disrespectful in America? Yes. Were they in America? No. So you don’t know what’s customary, um, and honestly if we’re looking at flags as something sacred, something to be respected, shouldn’t all nations flags get the same respect? Would we be responding the same if this was a Spanish flag or a Japanese flag on the ground? So, I think that people are taking it a bit far. Was it necessarily avoidable? Probably yes. Could someone have been you know like, “Eh let’s, you know, hold it up or something?” But we also don’t know if- Jessica, give us your best Italian photographer hurrying people along.

JESSICA: [in an Italian accent] Ah, get in the line [inaudible/mumbles] Città di Jesolo!

EVAN: Right! There’s yelling. There’s happiness. There’s a bunch of things going on, probably a lot more of- you know imagine ten Italian Jessica’s probably, you know, directing traffic around. So, unfortunately, I want to say that people probably didn’t have time to react. Am I making excuses for them? Yes. Do I feel like if it was like, “Stupid Americans we’re going to put your flag on the floor and we’re going to take your stupid, dumb picture in front of it. Look at that,” I think that would be a different story. It’s not the case. Worse thing have happened. Is it unfortunate? Totally, yes. Do I love America? Totally, yes. Not a big deal.

JESSICA: Amen.

UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] I have nothing to add to that.

EVAN: [LAUGHS]

UNCLE TIM: Jessica?

JESSICA: Perfectly said.

UNCLE TIM: All right, so let’s move on then to the most recent announcement for Team USA. They announced their female gymnasts who will be competing at the Pac Rim competition. We have Elizabeth Price, Kyla Ross, and Simone Biles for the seniors. And then for the junior we have Bailie Key, Nia Dennis, and Norah Flatley. Were there any surprises there for you guys?

EVAN: I mean I think that you know Kyla, Ebee, and Simone have all kind of had these little injuries obviously that have held them back a bit. So I was surprised to see all three of them out there. Um, but, at one point or another they probably want to get some experience before Championship season hits. So I think it’s a strong statement by the U.S. to, you know, feel confident and obviously feel that these three seniors are the most prepared. Um, I feel like they’re probably three of the top five or six, you know, at most, probably in the country right now. And I always just get super excited, because these are the meets in you know these off-quadrennium years that you’re like, “Which juniors are going to come up? Who do they like the most? Who are they giving assignments to?” I was not really surprised. I think Nia Dennis is you know, a Tasha Schwikert-esque favorite of Martha Karolyi, or as Tasha was for Bela Karolyi. So I think that her skills, they just have that, she has that international look, international line, and I think they really want to get her more consistent on the international stage. So, this is probably a test for Nia. Um, she’s going to be a senior next season- I’m nodding- is anyone else nodding- yes?

JESSICA: We’ll go with that.

EVAN: All right. Um, so, it’s kind of her last test as a junior. I remember Rebecca Bross went to the 07- what is that meet?- Pan American Games, as a junior and was competing with all those seniors, and that was a really big foreshadowing of what she was going to do and how much confidence the U.S. had in her in the early part of the 09 quadrennium. So, good, I like this team. I like it a lot.

JESSICA: Uncle Tim what do you think?

UNCLE TIM: I just want to give Lauren Hopkins credit because she said that Martha was going to stack this team, and I definitely think she did. Um, I know that someone on our Facebook page was a little confused why Brenna Dowell wasn’t given this assignment, but I mean, you have the World Champion on this team, you have the silver medalist, and then you also have the 2014 American Cup Champion, and if you want to stack the team I think you stack the team correctly. So, I mean I am curious to see if this team will change at all, just because, sometimes, the U.S. team changes quite frequently. So, we’ll see what happens. I’m looking forward to watching this meet, definitely, and I’m curious to see if Bailie Key will continue to trounce all the juniors out there.

JESSICA: And also, Brenna Dowell didn’t really prove herself at American Cup. It was a pretty shaky meet for her. She did a good job, but I think these kids all just prove themselves very well.

[SOUND BYTE]

JESSICA: Let’s discuss the NCAA Conference Championships. Um, there were a bunch of these, so we’re just going to talk about the ones where there were upsets, or there was controversy, or something special, an extra special performance. So, to give you guys a little background, these are more than just for bragging rights for who’s the Conference Championship- the Conference Champion. They actually, your scores count towards your Regional Qualifying Score, which then decides how you’re going to be seeded going into Nationals, um, for your Regional meet, and then you have to qualify the top two from that to go to Nationals. So, they still mean something even though a lot of people think they’re just for bragging rights, which they are of course. So, um, first thing, Pac-12’s. Let’s discuss. Utah won with a 197.925. That’s almost an SEC-style scoring there. Um, or I shouldn’t just be saying SEC because Oklahoma has been getting 198’s too this season. So, Stanford came in second with a 197.925 as well. Stanford killed it. They looked amazing. And do you know why Evan? Do you know why they are so fantastic?

EVAN: Tell me please.

JESSICA: [LAUGHS] My McNair twins. My McNair twins were fabulous. Well, Danielle didn’t do so great on vault. She landed on her butt, but she did a really hard vault so that’s okay. Um, they had like, they just were on fire, and they have the most fantastic bar lineup ever. They have Sam Shapiro, they have Vaculik, who’s just a whole different gymnast this year, and they have of course Nicolette McNair who is absolute perfection. They have, like, the whole lineup has like Jake Dalton toe point. Like my feet were cramping after I watched them…

[LAUGHS]

JESSICA: They are so beautiful. I just can’t get enough of them on bars. They are just, they’re like Ivana Hong just like injected her essence into the whole lineup. It’s just [GASPS] so beautiful. So they totally earned that, and I am very excited for them, even though they stand around too long in their floor routines. But, um, the story of this competition is Cal.

EVAN: Cal!

JESSICA: UC Berkeley- we knew they came to play when they came with white, metallic, backless, leos this year to start the season with. That’s when you know you’re in it to win it, because if you have any doubts you cannot wear a white, metallic leo. So they were just fantastic. They had a great meet. They have great difficulty. They have a Bhardwaj, which I spelled wrong, on Twitter and Scott Bregman corrected me. He’s forever correcting my spelling. [LAUGHS] Thank you, Scott Bregman. Yes, but now I know how to spell it. So he’s a great teacher. Oh it’s also their tall gymnast. I think she’s 5’7’’ who does the Bhardwaj on bars. So there you go another tall gymnast shout-out. They, Cal was just incredible. You know, Cal, the program was cut a couple years ago. They had to get all of these alumni and fans together to raise a whole bunch of money. They had to save women’s sports along with men’s sports in order to get the program saved. They have had three different coaches in four years. And they’re amazing. Amazing! The gymnasts they recruited, the level of gymnastics, it’s so clean. That’s what they’re winning with. They’re winning with this difficult, clean, clean, clean, no deductions routines. They were fantastic. They were absolutely the story of the meet. So happy for that program. It’s great to see that Berkeley’s back. You know they used to have a good team and then for years it’s just like, “What’s going on over there?” It was just bad news for a long time. So happy for those coaches and so happy for those gymnasts. Cal really deserves to have a great program. So, of course the upset of the meet was UCLA came in fourth.

[GASPS]

JESSICA: And was beaten by Cal. I know. I know.

EVAN: Collective gasps. Collective gasps.

JESSICA. Shocking! Yes. That Cal beat UCLA- Cal who has basically not had like a program for like ten years beat UCLA. So, um, the one controversy I have to say- they only beat UCLA by a quarter of a tenth, but Danusia Francis got an out-of-bounds on her two and a half, last pass on floor. You can clearly see that she was not out of bounds. I even videotaped it and looked at it again and again from my TV. She’s totally not out of bounds. It’s on her Instagram. In fact, everybody should go to her Instagram right now and follow along, because basically everything we’re going to talk about I’ve put a video above- the bloopers, the falls, the great routines- everything’s on our Instagram. It’s like the best highlight reel ever. So check that out. Um, so if she hadn’t gotten the out of bounds, UCLA would have placed third. I mean still not a great score for UCLA. They had a really tough meet. They definitely did not live up to their capability. Um, but there were some, so there were some standout performances. Let’s start with the problems first. Hallie Mossett, you know she’s from the same gym as McKayla Maroney from AOGC.

EVAN: Yeah. At one point ,yes.

JESSICA: At one point, right, and then she left. That’s where she started. It’s kind of where she got her basics and her artistry from and then she left and, you know, went to a different program and had a lot of injuries, had a really bad car accident, and all this stuff, and finally came back- ACL, hip injury, lots of stuff. So, she has tons of restrictions on the gymnastics she can do. She has a stalder in her routine and she just hit her foot on when she was doing her stalder and just, her hands came off and she was upside down, and she fell “Whap!” flat onto her back. Luckily she’s okay, so we can laugh about it [LAUGHS], because it looked really funny. She’s fine.

EVAN: Um, but, search the Gymcastic archives, one Evan Heiter, early on in this season, called that stalder out, and it was not looking good, even in the early stages. It’s almost like she’s tentative on it or you know she just has no other skill options, but unfortunately, it’s never been really great for her.

JESSICA: You’re totally right. It’s the only skill in that routine that drives me nuts every time. I just want to be like, “Straighten your arms! Straighten your arms! Straighten your arms! Straighten your arms!” Yeah, it’s one of those things like if you can’t be doing a stalder with straight arms, you shouldn’t be doing it, because you don’t have the power going into it. It drives me nuts.

EVAN: Right.

JESSICA: Yeah. So this was bound to happen is basically what Evan’s saying, and just nicking her foot on the bar made it happen sooner. The other tragedy, travesty, injustice of the meet. Do you know what I’m going to say Evan?

EVAN: I think I know.

JESSICA: Sam Peszek was once again robbed of a 10. Yes robbed. Robbed, robbed, robbed. Do you know, you couldn’t see, I can’t find a place where they had all four scores online, but the people that were at the meet told me that one judge gave the routine a 9.85 and another judge gave the routine a 10. There were four judges, so she ended up with a 9.925. But seriously, how is that even possible? What? What? If this was the FIG they would have a system, this would, ugh. At least this is the one thing I like about the FIG, they have real control over the judging, but this is, I can’t stand it! I can’t stand it! It’s making me so angry, like I feel a headache coming on right now. I would be so pissed if I was Sam Peszek. I’m sure she’s totally pissed. I just don’t understand this. It’s, ugh…

EVAN: It is a bummer, but more so I think that um, somebody needs to call up Crest when Sam is done with her eligibility, whenever that happens, and just be like, “All right. Do you need a commercial on a balance beam?” because she can literally smile upside down, jumping, spinning, turning, landing, whatever. Um, so, call Sam up, because she’s ready. She just looks so confident on beam, and one of the quotes that I’ve actually seen pretty regularly in gymnastics is, “Confidence is knowing the outcome before it even happens,” and when Peszek gets on beam I’m just like [SNAPS], this is me snapping, because it is true. It is true. She just knows.

JESSICA: Yep. Absolutely. It just, ugh, she’s a dream on beam. She’s like a Norah Flatley but 1,000 times more confident…and with brighter teeth. So then we go on to Risa Perez of Arizona State. We talked about her earlier in this season, because she’s a dancer and she does all the dance moves that I don’t know the name of, but they’re things that you would see on like So You Think You Can Dance, and she is, she should get, first of all, a bonus because she dances her ass of the entire time- ooh unlike Stanford who just stand there. Like you can have one dramatic pause in your routine. That’s totally fine, but like every single person has like three times where they just stop, and like, gaze longingly at the judges, and then look away. Like seriously? That should be, if you stand still too much you should get a deduction- an artistry deduction. Then we have Risa Perez who’s like dancing her ass off, like that takes so much more conditioning than just standing there. So she needs a bonus for her artistry on beam and on floor. Check out our Instagram- we have videos of her. And Evan what do you think of her?

EVAN: Uh, Risa Perez- so I really like the routine as a whole- right after the last pass this techno-y song comes on, and she basically like puts her leg up, and then folds her body in half, and does a side leap. It just makes me want to like, dance with my arms above my head with no shirt and cut off jean shorts…

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]

EVAN: and just like, go with the flow. And just be like, “Risa, my girl!”

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]

EVAN: Cause it is that good. And it is literally like ten seconds of the routine, but I have true confessions: definitely YouTubed that routine, definitely watched that part over and over again, because I’m just like [HUMS]. And it’s awesome. It’s awesome. That is what NCAA gymnastics is about, because, truth be told, Risa is a phenomenal gymnast, but unfortunately just not at that like, national championship caliber level. But to find those nuances in routines like that, that I can latch onto and be like, “I love this! I’m going to watch it!” and it’s not from one of the, you know, huge name school, huge name athletes, it’s great.

JESSICA: Or as Kelly Garrison has said in interviews, “She may not have won the meet, but she always won the crowd.” She felt like she always won the crowd. Risa Perez won the crowd at that meet. And you mentioned nuances. I saw something at this meet I have never seen. I’ve seen comedy routines. I have seen like dramatic like people practically crying during their routines- I have never seen anything like this. University of Arizona has a gymnast named Kristin Klarenback, she did like a haunted house, horror themed routine. Like the floor routine is so, she starts out, it’s like a creepy doll that comes to life, but it’s like sort of Frankensten-ish. And then there’s like haunted house music and crows in the background. Like what’s more creepy than crows? And it’s the weirdest routine I’ve ever seen. And it’s actually pretty, it’s just- I mean, you want to make yourself standout- she did it! I have noticed you Kristen Klarinback! You’re a badass. I’m afraid of you. She…

EVAN: And she does a huge double Arabian…

JESSICA: Yes!  

EVAN: on top of that. So, she was on my fantasy gymnastics team. So I knew something was up with Kristin Klarenback. And I believe she’s actually Canadian as well.

JESSICA: Oh.

EVAN: So, one of those import products.

JESSICA: We love them.

EVAN: Yeah. It’s kind of like, like you said, remember when Jamie Dantzscher and Morgan White used that “My Drag” song…

JESSICA: Yes.

EVAN: and everyone was like, I felt like the whole arena just kind of looked over and was like, “What is this?” It was like, kind of weird, kind of just off a little bit, but it worked and it was so different. So that’s kind of the vibe I got from this. It was cool.

JESSICA: I love seeing something different, so good for her for standing out and just having beautiful gymnastics. She’s incredible. I think she’s a tall one too. I have to look it up. I think she’s one of the 5’6’’-5’7’’ range. Um, so Utah the champions, great meet for them. Well deserved, absolutely. Of course, I am partial to Stanford. I think they should have won just for their toe point, and because they have the McNair’s, who you know are perfect. Um, Dabritz got a 10 for her gorgeous bar routine. I mean, you know, no grips, so she’s proof that grips are for suckaz. That’s what she has proven. And Utah, they won this on floor. They averaged above a 9.9, and it was absolutely deserved. So this could be the year that they are up there in the top, finally, again. So, let’s…

EVAN: Utah…

JESSICA: Yeah.

EVAN: Utah, they came to play. And this was actually the first time in a few years that I’m like, you know I always know Utah is in the mix but, this performance at Pac-12’s I was like, “Oh damn.” They’ve figured some stuff out, because it was a little bit of their home scoring, it was a little bit their routine composition that was just holding them back in the last few years, and I feel like, I felt like it was no surprise to me. I was like yeah Utah, they’re just not there. They do good gymnastics, but they’re just not there. This year I feel like they’re knocking on the door, and they’re hungry.

JESSICA: And they’re vaulting too, I have to mention, is huge! Like, they, you know people have like good vaults and they land, you know, within, they could reach an arm out and touch the vaulting, the vaulting table– um, as I learned that’s called tonight. Utah’s they have so much power. Whatever their training system is for learning how to run really fast and have booty-rockets, they are landing like at the end of the mat. They’re, they have so much power. Their vaulting stands apart from everyone else because of their power. It’s awesome to watch. So, I’m excited to see them. I want a Pac-10, Pac-12 team to just crush it! So let’s talk about your Wolverines.     

EVAN: [SIGHS] They are my wolverines, and remember, I’ve given this disclaimer before, and if you think that I’m not going to talk about Michigan just because I went there, they’re going to have to stop doing such awesome stuff- like winning Big-10s in such amazing fashion. So, a little pre-story before this Big-10 meet: Last week was the seeding meet that the Big-10 is having this year. So they had two separate quad meets with the eight teams that represent the Big-10 schools, and basically, that meet served as, you know, the top four finishers will be in the evening session, the last four finishers would be in the earlier session. Obviously, you want to be at night. Hello. You saw Cal use that to their advantage, way, way advantage, at Pac-12’s, but kind of a different story there. So, Michigan counted a 48.075 on beam at this Big-10 quad meet, which is like “Uh no. Ugh no, no, no.” So they found themselves in this early session, which last year they were also in the early session and they watched Nebraska run away with the thing and they were like, “We can’t do anything. We’re just in the morning session.” So they’ve had things stacked against them, but they’ve had an amazing season. They’ve put up really, really high 197 scores, and they definitely have the potential to do this. Well, they did the damn thing. They did it in such fine fashion. They closed with a 49.7 on floor exercise, capped off with defending NCAA Floor Champion Joanna Sampson getting a sob-inducing 10.0. She was crying…

JESSICA: Yes.  

EVAN: which I love, because that’s such a climactic event- last event, last gymnast, 10.0. And to see it, that emotion manifest itself, and her to be that emotional, was awesome! Oh my God! I’m crying right now, no I’m…but it was great to see Joanna and the team really come together, because, you know, that’s really a big differentiator. That Big-10 quad meet last weekend was at Michigan. They were competing in their home arena. So imagine the work mentally that it took for them to rally and be like, “First session. Whatever. It’s a hair flip. We’ve got this.”

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]   

EVAN: And they did it. So, one other thing that I want to call out, is, again, Evan’s foreshadowing. Nicole Artz who is a freshman at Michigan. She is the Big-10 Freshman of the Year. And I called her out. I was like, “This girl’s going to do big things.” She is one of the few athletes- and this is why she’s such an addition to the Michigan team- is that she can lead off beam, floor, and even bars, with a 9.9. Like a legit, deserving 9.9, and set the table that well. So, big props to her. Big props to Michigan as a team in general. They really, really rallied and they definitely played to their strengths. I mean, you know, they just wanted to stay on beam. They definitely had skills there. Talia Chiarelli, former Canadian National Team Member, also trained at Brestyan’s with Aly Raisman and Alicia Sacramone. She stuck her double tuck dismount off beam at Big-10’s. So great to see in her freshman campaign. So, remember, this all happened in the morning session. So then they were forced to watch. It was like Australia watching Esther Moya…

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]  

EVAN: try her vaults for the team finals in Sydney, and Esther Moya did it. So, a little bit of a flip this time around, but Emily Wong, you know, our beloved, we, you love you some Emily Wong…

JESSICA: Everyone loves her.

EVAN: from Nebraska.

JESSICA: Must love her.

EVAN: Right. Such a great story, competing really in remembrance of her late father, who is such a supporter of her and the gymnastics program at Nebraska. He unfortunately passed away. So, you always want to see a story like that kind of accomplish great things. Well Emily, unfortunately didn’t have the best meet on bars- took a fall there- but 10 on floor. Another 10, on floor, from Emily Wong. So, Nebraska had kind of a rough meet, but they still finished second to Michigan, um, with a very comparable score. So, um, I think that the thing about Big-10’s- you know you’re saying you want someone Pac-12 to really blow it out of the water. I really want someone Big-10 to blow it out of the water. And I think the good thing about Big 10’s, none of these teams were perfect, by any means. None of these teams were at full steam. None of these teams were meeting their full potential, and you’re going to be like, “All right. We’ve peaked. That’s it.” So, I think that you know, a ton of great things can continue to happen through Regionals for these Big-10 teams. But, just when you think that they’re finished, and stopping, they didn’t. Lindsey Mable, who we talked about so much…

JESSICA: Lindsey!

EVAN: early on…

JESSICA: [inaudible]

EVAN: Yes! Lindsey Mable! Remember she got a 10 thrown- was it their first meet of the year?

JESSICA: Yes.

EVAN: It was a 9.95 and a 10 and she ended up with a 9.975, cause everyone was like, “Time out.” Even me I was like, “Time out. What? What? What?” And the thing about Lindsey is…

JESSICA: And she’s only a sophomore! [SQUEALS]

EVAN: Right! The thing about Lindsey Mable that, I think, I’ve pinpointed what I really enjoy about her, and it’s her shapes. It’s the shape of all her skills. And, if you don’t know what I mean by shapes, it’s the true layout position. It’s not just enough to do a really archy layout where it might look a little flashy, or you know, kind of a tentative layout where her hips or her shoulders are a bit closed. She uses her whole body to extend itself and create that open position. And what that does, is it puts you in the perfect position in the air, perfect position when you land. You know what happens when you do that on a Yurchenko full on vault Lindsey Mable? I think you do. You get a 10. So it was awesome to see Lindsey Mable be rewarded with a 10. I’ve seen a video of it. It was legit 10.

JESSICA: It was. I like screamed and screamed at the TV. And I was like, “If she doesn’t get a 10 I’m going to have to punch someone in the face! [angry mumbles]” And then they gave her a 10 and it was almost like anticlimactic. So I was like, “Oh. They gave her the right score. All right. I can move on.”

EVAN: It happened. Yeah not only did she get a 10, but she went 39.65 in the all-around. And she won! So great for Lindsey Mable. Minnesota was kind of struggling with some, some recent injuries, but not really injuries, just kind of resting them a little bit. So they weren’t at full strength. So that brings me to my next point, which is, um, you know, Regional assignments. So, um, Illinois, is also in the Big-10, also kind of struggled a bit. We saw Amber See who does that front handspring tucked front full on vault, she fell on that on vault.

JESSICA: Aw I was so bummed!

EVAN: Which was such a bummer. Such a bummer, because it’s so beautiful and she’s really mastered that technique. Um, so Regionals now. Minnesota and Illinois are at the same regional. But, Minnesota is hosting, but Illinois is the second seed. So, I feel like some stuff could happen there. Everyone always wants these regional shakeups, and I think this might be the year.

JESSICA: Mm-hmm.

EVAN: We are already living in a mad, mad, mad, March in terms of athletics. Like queue up the music [inaudieble], because it’s happening. This is real life. So you know, a lot of these Regionals, a lot of these second teams, even some of the third seeded teams, there’s no guarantees here. I do want to say that probably a lot of the first seeded teams in these Regionals should be feeling pretty comfortable, and I think it’s just really that their gymnastics is at another level and the judges are really able to see and appreciate and reward that. So I think it’s those two, three, four teams, that, you know, if they have their best day, and maybe somebody ahead of them does not, the doors are open. They are unlocked. There is no locks on these doors for Regionals.

[LAUGHS]  

EVAN: Um, so it’ll be really interesting to see. One though, I am rather sad to see that two Big-10 teams, Iowa and Michigan State, didn’t even qualify two full teams to Regionals. I know, stuff happens throughout the season, but when you’re in a conference like the Big-10, I mean at this Big-10 quad meet, all of a sudden Michigan State was scoring over 196. So it’s like, okay, I know that it takes some schools a bit to get rolling, but when you’re in a conference with the tradition, the expectation of the Big-10, you know, it’s disappointing to see that those teams are having to go into the post-season without their full lineups out there, without having, you know, they’re just individual competitors at Regionals. Um, do you want to talk about Big-12’s and the SEC’s? We’re kind of neglecting those, but remember…

JESSICA: Yeah

EVAN: You know…

JESSICA: You’re going to hear a ton about them. You’re going to hear a ton about them as we get closer, so you know, you will not, we will not be missing anything soon. Oklahoma won the Big-12’s with a 198. They smoked everyone. They’re just on fire again this year. And you know this year might be another year again where we’re like, “Oklahoma! This could be their year!” We could have a sixth team actually break into the NCAA Championship Club. Alabama won at SEC’s. A nail-biter. It came down to the last event. They won with a 197.875. It’s interesting because they beat number one Florida, and um, they, actually Utah had a higher score than Alabama, winning at Pac-12’s. So- I’m right about that right? I’m checking again because you know how I am with the numbers…

EVAN: 197.9?

JESSICA: Yes! So- Pac-12!- it will be really interesting. Let’s talk about Regionals really quick, because I just want to know who you think- so really quickly, Regionals is the first round of National Championships. So everybody gets the top eighteen teams, and then the top five all-around competitors who don’t have a team, and then one event specialist, which is a bunch of hoo-y, it should be more event specialists than that, gets sent to one of six Regionals and you have to be in the top two teams to qualify to Nationals. So, um, I want to know who you think- you’ve already mentioned Oklahoma and Illinois, the top two seeds in that one, at Minnesota. I think Minnesota could go.

EVAN: Right.

JESSICA: I think they’re going to go and beat Illinois. That’s my prediction. I agree with you there. What other one region do you think is the least guaranteed? What second seed team in that region is most at risk of not making it and being trumped by, you know, another team to not qualify to Nationals.

EVAN: You’re not going to like this.

JESSICA: [GASPS]

EVAN: [LAUGHS] Unfortunately I think it’s the Fayetteville regional, where we see Arkansas squaring off against UCLA, and, there’s some reasoning here. First and foremost, SEC Gymnast of the Year Katherine Grable, who you know I luh her. I luh her. I don’t even love her, I luh her. She’s my gymnastics boo-thang, and she has been carrying that team, really all season, so props to her for getting that accolade, SEC Gymnast of the Year, because that’s phenomenal, a phenomenal honor, especially with the depth and prowess of individual athletes within the SEC. But, Arkansas is going to be competing at home. They’re coming off of a lackluster performance SEC’s. SEC schools, as we know, really like competing at home, really compete usually better at home, and I think Arkansas, you know- I believe they’re seventeenth seeded going into Regionals- and I’m not really sure that’s reflective. I know that they have some rough spots, but if they put together a great meet, and UCLA has some hiccups, that one could be real, real interesting. Do you agree with that? I know…

JESSICA: [GROANS]

EVAN: I know you’re doing an eight clamp over there. Tearing up a little bit

JESSICA: Oh my gosh. I’m, I, I know UCLA is going to bring it together and they’re going to be fine. But let me just, let me just give you some historical perspective here on this. The last time that UCLA went to Arkansas for their regional, um, I’m pretty sure that it was in Arkansas, they failed to qualify. I think it was 2006 or 2007. They did not qualify to Nationals for the first time in like a hundred years, and Arkansas qualified for the very first time, and the program had only been in existence for four years. So the very first freshmen in the program then qualified as seniors. And I’m like, “Oh my God. This cannot be the same exact scenario again!” But, I know they’re going to be fine. They’re going to be fine. They just have to get, you know, as you said at the beginning of the season, UCLA, they’re like a phoenix. They just rise slowly from the flames, and then they conquer! So…

EVAN: Right.

JESSICA: I’m not worried.

EVAN: Okay. All right. We’ll see. And this is kind of the beauty of Regionals. You know I talked a bit about this kind of phenomenon in NCAA gymnastics earlier on, and it really for me comes down to, you have to hit on the day when the meet is. And that’s what, you know, we were talking about this regular season All-American, and I’m like that’s all well and good. That’s great.

JESSICA: Mm-hmm.

EVAN: Give these gymnasts the awards that they deserve, but there’s no regular season team award…

JESSICA: Right.

EVAN: for being really consistent and good sometimes more than not. So, this is what gymnastics is about, in my, in my view, and I think that the teams that want it the most and really rise to the occasion are seen at Nationals. Remember when Kent State at a regional in Ann Arbor…

JESSICA: Yes.

EVAN: Kent State entered the last rotation like in a virtual like seventeen-way tie for third place and could capitalize and get the final spot, to qualify to Nationals. And they drop-kicked somebody in the throat and made sure that they got to Nationals, which they were hosting. And that is what that is about. Those athletes. Is Kent State…[struggles to find a word]

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]  

EVAN: What did anyone expect from Kent State at that meet?

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]  

EVAN: You just heard me like try and make words. I couldn’t even make words about Kent State there.

JESSICA: I think if you guys can go to Regionals, absolutely try. I think Regionals are actually, sometimes even more exciting than Nationals, because crazy [NOISE] happens. It’s…

EVAN: Because…Okay.

JESSICA: Do or die. That’s it! You think you’re going to Nationals and it’s the last meet of your season. That’s what happens.

EVAN: Well and a lot of times too, it’s- I hate to look at it this way- it could be the end of some careers. You know, you might go into Regionals thinking “Oh, whatever. You know, Nationals is in the back of my pocket.” There have been some amazing gymnasts who have failed to qualify, even as individuals, because their teammates are faltering and they can’t get those high scores through the progression in the lineup. So, there’s a lot at stake at Regionals. And I am going to a Regional!

JESSICA: [GASPS] Awesome. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

EVAN: I’m going to go and guess who’s going to be there? It’s going to be Georgia, who I’m excited to see, and you know, I’m kind of a Georgia convert this year.

JESSICA: Right?

EVAN: Because I was a bit skeptical early on in the season. They did the whole five meets in fifteen days and I was like, “What? Why are we doing this?” And their scores just weren’t, you know, they of course enjoyed the SEC home scoring, um, but, you know, Lindsey Cheek is a feel like a very endearing character. She’s kind of like a workhorse in the gym and just really loves her team and gymnastics and both of them together. So she’s kind of a really endearing character, and Chelsea Davis is also very good for them. So I’m excited to see them in person and really see what they’re putting out there. It’s going to be at UGA- the Regional that I’m going to. So in Stegeman, the host seniors’ official last meet on their home campus and, my [LAUGHS], my Wolverines are going to be there too.

JESSICA: Oh man! Okay let me just say like when I did the Danna Durante interview- [corrects pronunciation] Danna Durante interview- I have to remind myself to say that correctly all the time. Danna Durante. I at the very end of the interview I was like you know, “Thank you for bringing back the Georgia we all know and love,” and I was like oh that’s kind of disingenuous, because I didn’t really love Georgia before. But I was like, but I really like Georgia now. I feel like it’s a dirty secret I’m telling everyone! [LAUGHS]  

EVAN: Well…

JESSICA: I like them!

EVAN: I wouldn’t use the phrasing… I’m kind of a Georgia convert here. And I wouldn’t say convert like “I love them so much! I love them so much!” You know I think I was a little skeptical to give them the credit that they were due. And I think that’s what I’m comfortably willing to give them right now. I do think that they’re still a Super Six bubble team. I would probably put them closer to eight or nine in the country right now. Um, but they’re ranked sixth going into Regionals. They’ve been fairly consistent, but the Jess, the one thing I really want to call out, they start off their meets so, so, so, so huge on vault and bars.

JESSICA: Mm-hmm

EVAN: They’re like the number one team in the nation on bars, have the top two gymnasts in the nation on bars. But then it’s like, “Oh pump the brakes it’s beam. Oh pump the breaks it’s floor.” So depending on the rotation it could be, it could be a role of the dice for Georgia.

JESSICA: And I want to go back to, just talking about that interview. A couple people were like, “Why didn’t you ask her about early recruiting?” And I’m like ugh because she already answered that question. She did an interview with IG and she talked about how she basically thinks like a deals a deal. A promise should be honored, even if you’re a sophomore in high school. If you say you’re going to do it, you should do it, and if you don’t want to commit, then you shouldn’t. So that’s why I didn’t ask.

        Um, I want to get to a couple questions that we had and letters that people wrote in about, but I want to remind you guys before we do that, very quickly, how you can support the show [SINGS]! I’m totally about singing theme songs today. Lindsey Mable totally needs a theme song. We should make one up for her. Okay, you guys, genius idea, bookmark us, bookmark our Amazon page. You can just, we’re going to put a bookmark up, and you guys can put it in your favorites, put it in your browser, so anytime you go to Amazon, you know if you shop with our little bookmark a little portion of what you spend goes back to supporting the show. So I will put that up so you guys can find it. I’ll put it on our “About” page. You can also review us on iTunes or Stitcher to support the show, and you guys asked for a way to support the show besides those and you can always donate to us. There’s been a bunch of people who have set up monthly donations, which every time we get those I’m just like [LAUGHS] ah it’s just so nice and so thoughtful you guys. You know we spend, all of that goes directly to improving our sound equipment, to paying our bills. So I just want to say thank you to all of you for supporting the show that way! Okay, let’s get to letters. So, um, we had a question about American Cup and it was, you know, “How do gymnasts really qualify to a World Cup?” So we’re talking about an all-around World Cup. And one of our readers asked so how did Ohashi and Biles get picked last year without having any senior international meets, blah, blah, blah. Okay, so, follow along. It’s really boring but here you go: The FIG extends the invitations to the top eight all-arounders at an Olympics or a World Championships. If none of them can go then, they’re injured or whatever, then they go down to numbers nine through twelve. If none of those people can go, then they go to the first place team. So they go to USAG, and they say “You won. Tell us what athletes you want to invite.” So USAG says, “Hey, how about these people!” and they nominate the athletes and the FIG has to approve those athletes. So that’s the process, but say that everyone’s lined up and the week before, like what happened with Iordache, she pulls out, what do they do in that situation? Well, the FIG will go directly to the country of the athlete that pulled out. So they’ll go to Romania and say, “Who do you want to nominate? Do you have someone you can send?” And then that, and then Romania will just nominate someone in that case. There is also a wild card system in place and so the host country gets a wild card and they can use it however they want. Um so, they can invite you know, someone from, a Russian gymnast perhaps, you know they can be like, “Please, whoever they want, your next star,” to encourage that country to come. Um, but no matter what you can only have two per country at each of the World Cups. So, that’s basically how it works. They go down the line and if people are injured the host country, or the country of that gymnast that pulled out, can nominate someone. So that’s basically how it works…in a nutshell.

EVAN: That’s how that works, and Aly, wrote us a letter and she says that “Jenny Hansen blows my mind.” Mine too. You’re right Aly. You’ve got that right. Everyone’s head has exploded over Jenny Hansen. She says, “The most impressive fact about her was that she was able to win the all-around without her team there at NCAA’s. Do you think this could ever happen nowadays? I am not even talking about three times in a row, but just even once. We all know about how ridiculous the scoring can get and how judges can sometimes judge based on what leo they’re wearing and what school they are from.” I’m going to say no. I don’t think that there are any individual athletes who aren’t already on teams who have the potential to qualify to NCAA’s who could win the individual all-around. And I think the all-around rankings pretty much speak for themselves, that there aren’t really any surprises in that realm right now. So, as it stands right now, 2014, I don’t think so. Jess, what about you?

JESSICA: I honestly don’t ever see that happening again. It just, I just can’t imagine it happening. The only way I could see it happening is Lindsey Mable, if her team doesn’t qualify, and I just, it’s just so different now, and I think Jenny Hansen was that incredible. She’s the perfect storm. So, I don’t know. I just, I don’t really see it ever happening again. Okay,  [LAUGHS], back to the Jenny Hansen episode, Coach Rivas wrote in and he said, “Just listened to the Jenny Hansen episode. Great stuff. Funny story- had been in gymnastics forever but I recently took a job in an oil field, just like Jenny Hansen did when she told this similar story.” So he said he working in Colorado and he driving on some dirt roads, and there are amazing views, and being a gymnast, like all of us, he said, “Oh I should do a handstand selfie.” So he sets up his camera, he goes off to do his, he’s going to take a screen shot from his video, and he walks over, he does he his handstand, and then he’s like, “Oh, you know what would be even better? I’ll just do a back tuck right here.” So then he says, “Right when I left the ground I was reminded by gravity that I had steel-toed boots on. I didn’t totally face-plant, but did fight for my life to get to my knees. I know I have that video somewhere. I’m going to have to go find it. Thanks for what you guys do.” [LAUGHS] Have you ever tried a back tuck and realized- or any kind of flip- out in public, and then realized like half way through, “Oh my God I have shoes on,” or “I have tight pants on,” and just totally biffed it?

EVAN: I’ve never had a really bad fall because I usually feel like I’m the type of gymnast who always overcompensates. So I have had people like, form an assertive wall behind me, and be like, “When my body comes flying into you after I land…”

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]  

EVAN: “and I over-rotate. Please don’t let me crack my head open on cement.” Uh, so never like, any like, weird set issues, because that would be too much for me.

JESSICA: The only time this has really happened to me was one time my dentist is someone who I do gymnastics with, and have for a long time, and once a year he would us all out, everyone from the adult gymnastics class he would take us all out on his boat, and I would always get really sick so I would take Dramamine. And so one time we were like, boating along, all of us and he sees one of his friends on another boat and his friend you know he’s like, “Hey this is my gymnastics team!” blah, blah, blah. And the guy was like, “What? You old fart! You don’t do gymnastics.” And he was like, “Yes we do!” And of course I’m like, “I’ll show him!” And so I was like, “Look!” So I’ve taken Dramamine and I’m on a boat in the ocean and I was like, “Oh I’ll just do a handstand pirouette right now.” So I like kicked up to a handstand and then I was like “Oh!” and then I fell just like totally sideways. [LAUGHS] And I was like, “Oh my God!” And of course there’s like the motor, and there’s all this stuff in the back, because I was like down on the bottom. I totally thought I was going to like get a leg chopped off but thank God I was fine. I was so embarrassed. I just laid there because I didn’t want to see the guy. Like I didn’t want to see his face.

EVAN: You didn’t fall into the water though?

JESSICA: No, no no.

EVAN: I can imagine you going overboard…

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]  

EVAN: On this like, terrible handstand pirouette gone awry. And you like break in half over the side of the boat and then they just speed off because they’re like, “Whatever.”

JESSICA: No that would have been much worse. But um, yeah…So if you have any more stories like that, send them to us. Or even better if you have a video send it in. Um, so we asked a couple questions last episode. One was about the Barbie competitions, with the Barbie, um, cardboard cutouts. So we found out a little more about these. These are an open meet, like any level all the way up to elite, sponsored by Alpha Factor. And instead of getting medals at the meet, the gymnasts get tiaras, and Barbie’s, and sashes, which I love! I’ve always wanted a sash. I would love to get that at a gymnastics meet that said like “Punk Rock Gymnast Award” or something. Um, they also give out gold, silver, and bronze for the gymnast who has the best execution, so the least execution deductions, on each event. Love that! Encouraging good form- that’s what we believe in here on this show. And also the competitors can make their own signs. You guys these are crazy. I mean they can do whatever they want. So you know how you normally have a number, or you have your card that the judge puts your scores on? Well they make their own at this meet. So they have everything from like one kid like brought in like an actual Barbie glued to a little tiny balance beam [LAUGHS], with her number on the balance beam, to another one where it’s like a picture of her coach balancing a glass of wine on her legs in a handstand. [LAUGHS] Crazy stuff! Oh my God this meet sounds so fun. I love this. The other thing is that we talked about was the English Championships, remember, where they had those crazy selfies, where it looked like everyone got caught in, like you know, nighttime Skyping with their girlfriend? So we found out about that. The pictures were taken when people were registering. And I guess that’s a big joke with all of the gymnasts [LAUGHS], because of how bad the pictures look. They had these giant green squares on the, by the side of the TV’s, on the side of the competition. And basically that’s the gym-data system, which we’ve talked about on the show before, where you get receipts and you get text messages like, “Hey your gymnast is about to compete on beam. And oh, hey here’s their score.” So that’s kind of cool. It’s the same as those little green lights they had at the FIG competitions. These are just enormous! So, um, yes, thank you guys for sending in those details, because we love reading about those.

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

JESSICA: Visit elitesportzband.com, that’s “sportz” with a “z” and save $5 on your next purchase with the code, “gymcast.”

If you have anything that you’d like us to talk about. Anything that you think should be addressed on the show, please, send us an email gymcastic@gmail.com, or leave us a voicemail at 415-800-3191. Or you can call us on Skype and leave a voicemail. We won’t answer the phone. We promise. So don’t be afraid. Just leave us a voicemail. We’re at username gymncasticpodcast, and make sure to follow us, follow us, follow us, on Instagram, because like I said, we put up like twenty videos from all of the competitions this weekend, so you will love this, and of course they’re only the most unique and eclectic gymnastics skills and routines, and of course, bloopers, because you know we love those.

This weekend, what to watch, there’s some exciting stuff coming up! Wednesday the 26th, the day that this show comes out, it’s the Doha World Cup. That is happening on the 26th, and then the Pan American Championships are this weekend, and then, most excitingly, starting on Friday, through the 30th, the British Championships! So we get to see all of our favorites! We’ll have Princess Catherine of Europa, Hannah Whelan, Fragapane, Lisa Mason, Louis “The Man” Smith, Ruby Harrold. Becky Downie will be there. Danny “Straddle the Judge’s Face” Pervis. We’ll get to see Keatings doing his perfect vault. We’ll get to see Max Whitlock and his air-flares. I’m so excited for this meet! I love this meet! Ah, so anyway.

[MUSIC]

JESSICA: Watch that stuff anyway. We’ll discuss it all next week. Until then, I’m Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics.

EVAN: I’m Evan. You can find me on Twitter @yoev.

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

JESSICA: Thanks for listening! See you guys next week!

 

  
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[expand title=”Episode 85: John Roethlisberger & Justin Spring on 2015 FIG Rules”]

JESSICA: Those are. You need to catch your breath which is why you can’t, you know even get your leg up to horizontal. So, don’t even get me started on those.

JUSTIN: Wait, wait, wait, what did you say? Wait, wait, wait?

JOHN: Why are you trying to get the guys…

JESSICA: The stag jumps!

JOHN: What are you looking at, by the way, when we’re out there competing? That’s just wrong.

[LAUGHS]

JOHN: Ugh, I’m uncomfortable right now.

[LAUGHS]

JUSTIN: Hold on, wait, wait, wait,

[EXPRESS YOURSELF INTRO MUSIC]

JESSICA: Today, John Roethlisberger and Justin Spring join us to talk about the FIG’s new rules releases.

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

JESSICA: This is episode 85 for April 1, 2014. I’m Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics and this is the best gymnastics podcast ever, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet! Today we’re going to get started right away and talk about the new rules releases.

[SOUND BYTE]

JESSICA: Today’s interview with Olympians John Roethlisberger and Justin Spring is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. One of the things we love about Tumbl Trak is that they’re always innovating to make gymnastics safer and give gymnasts more ways to practice good technique without the pounding and impact. That’s why I was absolutely thrilled to learn that they have teamed up with engineers at Tokaido, the company that run Japan’s maglev train system, to create an almost zero-impact training surface. The Bullet Trak will debut at Gym-Con USA in Las Vegas this June. Here’s how it works: Athletes wear gym shoes, the same kind that you where on vault or beam, the only difference is that the sole is negatively charged. The surface of the Bullet Trak looks just like a Tumbl Trak, but it holds a positive charge. It allows the gymnasts to tumble on a magnetic cushion like opposite ends of a battery. This is a one of a kind, reverse polarity experience that allows gymnasts to slow down their tumbling, reduce impact, and make corrections like never before. To supercharge your tumbling, register for Gym-Con USA now and experience the Bullet Trak for yourself. For more information go to Tumbl Trak- that’s T-U-M-B-L T-R-A-K-.com. Tumbl Trak- More reps, less stress.

[SOUND BYTE]

JESSICA: So we’re going to talk to John Roethlisberger who is a three-time Olympian. He’s an eight-time national champion. He is the co-owner of a gymnastics camp that every kind and adult wish they could go to. Seriously, when are you going to open up for adults, because I totally want to go? It’s called Flip-Fest in Tennessee. He’s also a television commentator who we all love, because of all the words he makes up. You’ve heard him with Kelly “Oh Boogers!” Garrison on the Big 10 Network, and next week he’ll be hosting Men’s NCAA Gymnastics Championships live on the Big 10 Network. Justin Spring is also joining us and he is an Olympic bronze medalist. He’s an NCAA Championship-winning coach, and a dare-devil extraordinaire.

[SOUND BYTE]

JESSICA: So I’m here with John Roethlisberger and Justin Spring. Thank you both so much for being on the show today.

JUSTIN: Glad to be here.

JOHN: Absolutely, absolutely.

JESSICA: So, we’re doing this because the FIG just released their new rules as they do every spring and once again there are things that are driving us nuts. Um, and I wanted to bring you guys on and get your thoughts on this. Some of the things are the things that fans will be really excited about and some of the things are worse! I mean we’ve already complained about this stuff and they’re just making it worse. So let’s talk about the first thing- I’m really interested in your thoughts on this- so the first rule is that they’re going to make men’s routines just seven skills with a dismount. So how do you guys feel about this? Is this a positive move for the sport?

JUSTIN: It’s the Kohei rule man.

JOHN: Go ahead Justin. Yeah I guess…

JUSTIN: You got to stop the giant. I would love this. I mean this would make me…this would make me a heavier contributor. Um, it’s a huge, I look at my guys and I guess yeah I mean it’s essentially there’s these cool routines. You have these fluffer A skills that don’t, aren’t really counted or used, it’s going to help bring down the giants like Kohei Uchimura and names like that. He’s, he’s in a league of his own and it’s cause the rest of the world can’t contend with his, um, his ability to handle ten incredibly challenging skills on every event.

JOHN: Look I think we take this a step further. I mean I’m behind this 100%, going from ten to seven, but why not, why are they stopping there? Why not five? Why not three? Why not we just get out there, the guy raises his hand, chuck your best skill, and we’re done? I mean…

JUSTIN: I mean that’s…

JOHN: I’m all for it. I’m all for it.

JUSTIN: That’s like the Pro Challenge. You could, you could still be in this John!

JOHN: Exactly! Exactly, Justin! The old guys like you. The old guys like me.

JUSTIN: I’m coming back baby.

JOHN: If it was one skill I’d be there!

JUSTIN: You could go down… I mean think of the career. You would have blown everyone’s career by ten or twenty years almost maybe.

JOHN: You’re right. Seven skills- I like it. I like it. What else we got?

JESSICA: All right so the next um, rule that they’ve come out with, which we have complained about since last year when they came out with this rule, and now it’s even worse. You know Kyla Ross was a victim of this rule just at Jesolo a couple of weeks ago in Italy. She ran for her vault, she balked, her steps were off, something happened, um and she was then docked a point. She got to vault again, but you know, she got a whole point off her score, which of course didn’t matter because she still obliterated all of the competition, but now they’ve made this one point for balking even worse by saying if you balk, you’re disqualified! I mean what do you guys think are going to happen?

JUSTIN: You get a zero?

JOHN: I think it’s great.

JESSICA: Yeah you get a zero! That’s it.

JOHN: You know if it’s a team competition I think it shouldn’t just be a zero. I think the team should take something off their team total after that point. I mean I’m sorry if you lean forward, it’s like an offensive lineman in football, you can’t move you know? Once you lean, once you go, I think that’s this. That’s your vault. If you want to stop we’ll judge the ten steps you took. I think, I think it’s a good rule. I don’t think we should be [inaudible]      

JUSTIN: No [inaudible]

JOHN: It’s a tough world out there man.

JUSTIN: We are a sport based off perfection but this is like the death penalty. You know like, I don’t know. That’s ridiculous to me.

JOHN: Right Johnny. So you’re going to get your little warm-up run. You want your little warm-up run. You can just run down and jump to the side and then you’re warm and then you can come back and do your vault. You think that’s fair.

JUSTIN: With the point deduction where we’re at I think the level of competitiveness with the vaults that men are pursuing specifically…I mean John we’re not doing double fulls on the long horse anymore. You know you got guys chucking Tsuk double pikes, risking life and limb. I want them to be allowed to balk. I don’t want to see a broken neck.

JOHN: Why don’t, why don’t I hold your hand when you run down the vault runway and we can…

JUSTIN: You want to skip and do a vault together?

 

JOHN: And we can…

JUSTIN: John, you would say something like that.

[LAUGHS]

JUSTIN: You’ve been picking on me for years. We agreed, we agree…

JOHN AND JUSTIN: to disagree. All right.  

JESSICA: All right so just to play devil’s advocate on this one here, you know, in a perfect world the gymnasts would have no distractions and everything would be correct, but we’ve had situations where the FIG couldn’t even be bothered to set the vault height correctly, or…

JUSTIN: Oh yeah perfect example.

JESSICA: at the recent Chicago, Chicago Classic last year I think it was, there was a bat flying around the gym. So um, what about those kind of distractions? Like John, what if that happens? What are you supposed to, what would you do if that happens, if a bat flew in front of you?

 

JOHN: You’re bringing in- you know the bat was cool by the way. I like the bat. He was…

JUSTIN: [LAUGHS] He likes the addition.

JOHN: It’s apples to apples. We’re talking about a distraction, you know, if stuff flashes in the crowd. We saw Trent Dimas, 1991, no one’s old enough to remember that, saw a flash in his vault, he crashed…

JUSTIN: Yeah.

JOHN: and pretended to see a flash, and he got to do it again. So yeah that’s different. You know if you’re going to throw in distractions, unless you want to make it part of your vault…

JUSTIN: That’s a slippery slope man. A distraction rule you’re going to have debates and arguments out on the floor for missed vaults, like second chances.

JOHN: Yep. That’s a good point. I appreciate. That’s a good side comment there. Yeah, yeah, what else we got?

JESSICA: Okay let’s go onto the next rule…

JUSTIN: It is what it is I guess.

JESSICA: We, we can create this distraction where you have the vault and then you have like actually a haunted house, like things jump out at you from different sides.

JUSTIN: Oh like other teams can play defense on vault?

JOHN: [LAUGHS]

JUSTIN: It’s just what we need.

JOHN: Yeah I used to see Justin Spring watching us compete when I was, when he was real young and it was like a haunted house trust me.

JESSICA: [LAUGHS]

JOHN: Sitting there. Beady little eyes watching us. A haunted house for sure. All right. The FIG’s two for two so what else do we got?

JESSICA: All right. So the next one I have to say I am a big fan of this one. I think that men’s gymnastics has lost all artistry and it makes me mad when they do those like ridiculous non-stag jumps. I think those should be a huge deduction. Anyway, this rule…

JOHN: Yeah I used to do one of those. You need those man. Those are…

JESSICA: Yeah you need those!

JOHN: Those are serious transitions right there.

JESSICA: Those are. You need to catch your breath which is why you can’t you know even get your leg up to horizontal. So, don’t even get me started on those.

JUSTIN: Wait, wait, wait, what did you say? Wait, wait wait?

JOHN: Why are you trying to get the guys…

JESSICA: The stag jumps!

JOHN: What are you looking at, by the way, when we’re out there competing? That’s just wrong.

[LAUGHS]

JOHN: I’m a little uncomfortable right now.

[LAUGHS]

JUSTIN: Hold on, wait, wait, wait, I thought that the rule, which one was this? I didn’t hear you.

JESSICA: This is a mandatory rule- I got distracted by the stag jumps. My own, my own little thing that [inaudible].

JUSTIN: Okay I was like those are here now.

JESSICA: The new rule is they’re bringing back the scale. So in order to encourage artistry men have to do a scale…

JOHN: A scale?

JESSICA: and it has to be, and your leg has to be above shoulder height.

JOHN: Yes. I’m going to let my buddy go on this one again.

JUSTIN: I mean I get it. I would have been murdered. I could barely touch my toes. I have no flexibility, but I can see some guys showing this off. I mean they want to get that direction of…I mean floor of all events is the event where you have the option to show artistry more than any I think.

JOHN: Catch a breath is all I got to say. Go in the corner, pull out a good ole fashion Y-scale, hold it for two.

JUSTIN: You could do it.

JOHN: I mean it seems like it fits perfectly with the agenda of the FIG, which is complete and total animus, but I think…

JUSTIN: [LAUGHS]

JOHN: but I think it’s a solid choice.

JUSTIN: That’s their mission statement. We’re going to keep everyone on their toes.

JOHN: You just don’t know what direction they’re coming from. Let me guess, you probably want the guys to go back to the extra short shorts too right?

JESSICA: Yes. I’m a big fan of that. I think that would definitely help with the audience.

JUSTIN: Why don’t we just wear like a wrestling onesie you know? You know, like just get in there.

JOHN: I like that.

JESSICA: Singlets. I’m fine with that.

JOHN: Once we see the rest of the rules we might have that.

JUSTIN: A legit singlet.

JOHN: Let’s keep going there. So far these rules are completely and totally spot on, amusing [inaudible]

JESSICA: So the next one, also going back to artistry, they have decided that you know women, since they brought in the difficulty score and gotten rid of the 10, that what they’ve lost is artistry. So what they’re trying to bring back, incentivize people to do something artistic, something different, and now in addition to see the D score and the E score displayed, they’re going to bring back the ROV score. So there’ll be a separate panel of judges to judge ROV so for those who don’t remember back in the day there was risk, originality, and virtuosity…

JUSTIN: I loved that.

JESSICA: and so this will now be displayed as part of the score. How do you think this will affect our current team?

JUSTIN: I think, I do love this. This is, I’d capitalize when I was a junior with this stuff. Um, I think we’re…

JOHN: I think the more, yeah, the more subjectivity that you can bring into it, you know bring some judges in there, and I think they should add to this. I think the judges that come in should do the originality judging, and the virtuosity should actually have no knowledge of the sport of gymnastics. I think they should bring them in and it should be a fresh set of eyes. They’re not, they’re unbiased. You know maybe…

JUSTIN: Unbiased. Yep I couldn’t have said it better.

JOHN: Yeah. Yeah! You know bring them from a country who hasn’t actually had a gymnast. Yeah.

JUSTIN: I think it’s exactly where we need to go. Get rid of the cookie cutter routines. Start you know, pushing the danger level of the sport a little bit, but at least get bonus, you know, incentivize like you said Jessica. And I do like the first part. John you should be on this rules committee. I mean how else are you going to evaluate? Would you have like a separate judge? [inaudible]

JOHN: Yeah. I think it should be. Are they going to have like a D judge and an E judge, are they going to have an O judge and a V judge?

JESSICA: It’s going to be an ROV judge. A panel just for ROV. So they’ll be, it won’t be one for risk, one for originality, but it will be a whole separate panel. Who do you think…

JOHN: Let’s just add that. [inaudible]

JESSICA: The scores are going to be. I mean I think it’s based out of a 10. So the scores now are going to be much higher. Um, this would put us…

JUSTIN: So you’ll be like seeing 24’s.

JESSICA: Yep.

JOHN: I mean I think the victims are the people watching. It’s a people watching sport. I think they don’t understand it. I think the more they don’t understand it the better, because let’s be honest, if you’re sitting there and you’re trying to actually think you can figure out why they got the score it’s going to make spectators turn away. I think you got to watch gymnastics and be just utterly be dismayed by how the score came up, because then you just go, “You know what? I don’t know. It’s a 20.” So yeah you got to appreciate the sport, don’t look at the numbers. Yeah exactly.

JUSTIN: It’s about the artistry. It’s a glorified cirque show basically.

JOHN: I think it’s fantastic. I can already see Bruno Grandi with his old Number 2 pencil and his abacus coming up with this scoring system. I think it’s fantastic.

JUSTIN: We lost the 10 a long time ago so you might as well bring in something that the fans can understand like originality, or just they like that goofy stuff they don’t normally see. I get the buy in though. I do.

JOHN: I think that, I mean if we’re going originality, I mean…

JUSTIN: You were the man of originality John! That’s another one that would have been [inaudible]

JOHN: I did. Whenever I couldn’t do something I’d make something up. But seriously what about what the gymnasts are wearing? If you’re going to go there why we’re creating a show here, let’s be honest, we’re creating a show out of our, why, what about what they’re wearing? Everybody talks about the uniforms and the outfits and their this their that. Figure skating does it. Why do they have to be cookie cutter uniforms? Why can’t they make that part of the presentation? I mean I’m just throwing it out there. I’m just throwing it out there.

JESSICA: I mean they could do that you know. They could do, someone could just like wear their underwear and do full body paint and that could be part of their…

JOHN: Right. See see. You just went there.

JUSTIN: It’s a little ice skating for me guys. I want the no shirt. I want the no shirt. No top is good. I think we all agree on that.

JOHN: Yeah. She just went underwear and body paint.

JUSTIN: [LAUGHS]

JOHN: I mean that’s just…

JUSTIN: Oh for the females! Oh my God…

JESSICA: I mean what if you’re from like Poland and you want to be noticed you know you…

JOHN: You’re very inappropriate. Very inappropriate.

JUSTIN: Kind of like the Hunger Games. You know you can pick your costume, set yourself on fire, if you want to go…

JESSICA: Exactly, exactly.

JUSTIN: all in. You know it is, it is a component of our sport that I wish wasn’t as important but it is. And hence the more sparkles for girls. More sparkles everywhere.

JOHN: I mean in all seriousness, these rules, I mean it’s amazing. Do we have more? Are you done?

 

JESSICA: Yes, so um, we’re talking about how the scores are going to change so they’ve also introduced something that is not going to make the U.S. fans happy, but you know they’ve really made an effort to start you know encouraging gymnastics from non-traditional countries. They do these FIG um, coaching camps around the world. They have these elite coaches that go out and they’ve really made an effort to bring gymnastics to more countries. So, a way that they want to encourage other countries to have more of a shot at placing and medaling, is they’re going to introduce something that gymnastics fans might not be very familiar with, it’s a handicap scoring system, which they have in golf. And basically it means that if you’re really good they kind of take away some points from you so that the people who aren’t as good can compete. So it kind of levels the playing field. So the U.S. is going to start from something like a five point deficit.  

JOHN: What?

JESSICA: I think this is crazy. I, I mean, yeah, the U.S. is going to start from a deficit.

JOHN: So basically if you won the World Championships…

JUSTIN: It’s never going to fly.

JOHN: No I think that this is again, so you’re saying that U.S. won the last World’s so they’ll look at the last World’s, look at how much you won by, and then handicap you by that total as you head to the next World’s. Is that…?

JESSICA: Exactly. Exactly.

JOHN: How can you not like this? Take from the rich and give to those in need.

JUSTIN: [LAUGHS] I mean I feel like we’re trying to balance the playing field a little much here. I don’t know.

JOHN: That doesn’t surprise me.

JUSTIN: It doesn’t surprise me.

JOHN: I mean look at baseball…

JUSTIN: I don’t want to say that. It blows me away but it doesn’t surprise me, sadly.

JOHN: No, but yeah, but, look they got rid of softball. Softball wasn’t competitive enough. The U.S. women won. They just took it out of the Olympics. So let’s just…

JUSTIN: That’s a good point. You got to keep it fun. The IOC is very eh.

JESSICA: But I mean this could help on the men’s side, right?

JOHN: Why you got to go there? Why would you? Why would you?

 

JUSTIN: Are you really going to throw us under the bus here?

JOHN: [LAUGHS] That’s, yeah that’s just. You are not cool at all, you know.

JESSICA: Well let’s move on to the final rule before I upset you too much.

JOHN: I’m kind of sick of rules.

JUSTIN: That was a low blow.

JESSICA: This one…

JUSTIN: Really.

JESSICA: This one’s going to make you happy. So, it’s going to make rhythmic fans really upset, but you know, finally the FIG just got really sick of all of the in-fighting and cheating that was going on in rhythmic gymnastics, and so they have decided that actually they’re going to take rhythmic out of the Olympics and they’re going to give those spots back to artistic gymnastics.

JOHN: What?

JESSICA: So we’re now going to have even more…Yes it’s awesome! So we’re going to have ten person teams now, which means you can have an all around and a specialist, ten…

JUSTIN: Counting how many scores? Or what’s the format? Is it still three-up three-count?

JESSICA: No. It’s actually going to be less. So now you only have two up per event, but you have ten people to choose from.

JUSTIN: This is a game changer, like on an unprecedented level. I mean, think of, I mean, think of the specialists

JOHN: Wow.

JUSTIN: Oh man it’s all specialists.

JOHN: It’s all specialist. The all around’s over.   

JUSTIN: I’m coming back baby. I mean this, this with the seven skills, and this kind of opportunity, I love it. I’m sorry for the rhythmic people. That’s brutal but…

JOHN: Yeah I was going to say Justin way to have some compassion for the rhythmic people, you didn’t even give them a second thought.

JUSTIN: Hey I’m an artistic…So are you man. I can’t talk to you.

JOHN: The only way that I would support this is if they had a rhythmic gymnast on the men’s team. If they’re going to get rid of them they can put one on the men’s team.

JUSTIN: [inaudible]

JOHN: They put them in the lineup. Yeah, I mean, yeah how can you get rid of rhythmic gymnastics? That’s just not…

JUSTIN: We can put them in during our scale. Y-scale tag, put them in.

JOHN: And the stag leap. Hang out while they’re doing the scale and the stag leap. I think that’s, I think that’s brilliant. I love what they’re doing. I think you know it’s great time to uh, bring these rules forward. Especially on this, a new month, beginning of the new month, and one of the most important days of the year, I think it’s time to put these rules forward and change the sport. I’m all for it, Justin, I’m all for it.

JUSTIN: I’m all for most of them, but I agree, this is good stuff. Most of it. I got to go work out.

JESSICA: Thank you both so much. You guys were awesome.

JOHN: Yeah no problem, anytime.

JUSTIN: Thanks.

[SOUND BYTE]

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

JESSICA: Visit elitesportzband.com, that’s “sportz” with a “z” and save $5 on your next purchase with the code “gymcast.”

[SOUND BYTE]

JESSICA: Tell us what you think of the new rules. You guys know how to get in touch with us. Gymcastic@gmail.com. You can always call us on Skype at Gymcastic Podcast. That’s our username. We’re on Twitter. We’re on Instagram, Facebook. There’s huge debates going on on Facebook right now about these new rules. And of course make sure to, if you love the show, support us, subscribe on Stitcher or iTunes. Stitcher of course works for Android devices. And you can support us by shopping at our Amazon store. Bookmark our Amazon store. And you guys asked for another way to support us so if you’d like to you can always make a donation. And of course we also provide transcripts of every single show, free of charge, because our fabulous transcribers will put them up about a week or two after the show so make sure to check those out. And of course we have playlists that go with every single episode. So, let us know what you think of the rules. I’m sure this is going to be outrageous. And thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you back later this week at our regular time…

[APRIL FOOL’S MUSIC PLAYS]

JESSIA: with all the news from the British Championships and the Doha World Cup. So, see you guys later at our regular time. Thanks for listening!          

    
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[expand title=”Episode 86: British Championships & Doha World Cup”]

AD: Gymnastics combine grace with strength, elegance with power, artistry with athleticism. Can they all strive for the same elusive gold? Absolute perfection. Experience it live at the 2014 NCAA women’s gymnastics championships. April 18th through the 20th at the PJCC in Birmingham, Alabama.  Hosted by the Alabama Sports Foundation and the University of Alabama.  Affordable tickets available. Visit ncaa.com/wgymnastics.

EMMA: And then, she moved on to beam and had, like a look of evil in her eyes, and was just like, even Michele commented and said “she is not falling off this.” Because she was like “you tip me off you beam and I will take a match to you” [laughter].

JESSICA: Someone needs to add that choreography into their beam routine.

EMMA: Seriously.

JESSICA: Like lighting the match, lighting the beam on fire, and then you run and dismount!

[LAUGHTER]

[“Express Yourself” – INTRO MUSIC]

JESSICA: This week- British championships, Doha World Cup, and more.

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

This is episode 86 for April 2nd, 2014.  I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.

EMMA: I’m Emma from Moominwhisky Meet.

BLYTHE: And I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner.

JESSICA: This is the best gymnastics podcast ever, bringing you news from around the gymternet.  First I have some very serious news to break to you guys.  In case you didn’t listen to the very end, to the very important song that told you what was really happening in the last episode … this song [singing] April Fools, April Fools, Never [inaudible] are cruel. Now you know, yes, it was in fact an elaborate April Fools Day joke. We hope you guys enjoyed it as much as we did.  There is no eight skill max rule, there’s no deficit rule where the US is gonna start from a five-point deficit from everyone else, there’s no being disqualified if you balk on vault, there’s [chuckle] there’s no getting rid of rhythmic gymnastics in order to have ten man teams. Uhh, yes, so, I hope you guys loved that. Make sure, just in case you’re one of those people that doesn’t listen to the end, that you listen to the end of this episode because we will be announcing our Gymitation contest winners!

We hope you thoroughly enjoyed our April Fools Day episode, and if you appreciated it, John Roethlisberger and Justin Spring taking the time to be on our show, let them know on twitter and of course by tuning in to watch Men’s NCAA Championships on the Big 10 Network.

That was very fun to do. Ok. Let’s discuss, um, first let’s talk about the Doha World Cup before we get to British Championships which is like the main course.  Um, Doha was, I mean, it’s like fun to see who’s out there, but it’s not like a super, super competitive meet, but there were some exciting people to watch. Blythe, what did you think?

BLYTHE: Yeah, no I agree, I mean, you- you get people at the smaller world cups who, you know, if you’re going to compete against the number one, number two people in the world, you’re probably not going to win, but there were some really nice moments in Doha.  The three Armenian men had like the best results ever in Armenian gymnastics.  You had three guys who won pommel horse, rings, and vault.  And I remember especially Arthur Davtyan, the guy who won vault, he went to junior Europeans in 2010 and he did fairly simple gymnastics at that Europeans, which was in Birmingham, and you were there, right Emma?

EMMA: The sad part about Euros in 2010 is that there was an ash cloud-

BLYTHE: Oh yeah.

EMMA: And there was about no spectators. I was about the only one in the crowd-  it was probably about fifty people in the crowd.

BLYTHE: Yeah, yeah, that was an amazing Europeans as well, for that, like the entire Russian men’s team didn’t get there because they had to travel from three different time zones and it was just ridiculous, and I also remember also Fabian Hambuchen saying, somebody asked him how many hours of travel he had to get to Doha, or to get to Birmingham, and he said fifty seven.  [J laughs] And everyone stepped back and said wow.

JESSICA: From Germany! Oh my God he could have walked.

BLYTHE:  And Fabian was like, I know.  But anyway, what I remember , one of the takeaways from that Junior Men’s European Championship was this kid, Davtyan, from Armenia, and he had not difficult gymnastics but everything he did was perfect- like point perfect.  I think he was doing like roundoff back handspring full twist as his last pass on floor exercise, but it was so beautiful and so correct, more correct than anybody else there, that I wondered about this philosophy, if this was Armenian gymnastics and they don’t add difficulty until they can do everything that comes before you add difficulty just spot on. And that’s what I remember and it seems like it’s very true for their program. And I’m very sorry if that was an incredibly long tangent, um, so that’s Armenian gymnastics. You had Epke Zonderland, he tied with Marcel Nguyen for gold on parallel bars and sidebar on that is always that I know he’s got so much high bar credit but I can’t help but think even Epke’s a better gymnast on parallel bars, in a lot of ways.  He has better form, and he’s got these awesome, unique, original and super difficult pirouetting skills, and so it’s nice to see that parallel bars routine getting the credit that it deserves.  And of course he won high bar. You do the sort of release moves that he does, you have the start value that he does, you hit your routine more or less and you don’t bend your legs too much and, you know, you’ll win.

And then of course on the women’s side, Larisa Iordache, she was absolutely fabulous. She hit vault. She hit beam. She hit floor. She won all of that. Kristyna Palesova won uneven bars, and you know, it was also nice because you had the return of Lauren Mitchell who competed on beam and floor and …

JESSICA: Yes! That was a big deal! And people said that she, that they really thought that she looked burnt out before the Olympics and that she looks really fresh now, that she looks invigorated- you can tell.

BLYTHE: Yeah, yeah. Definitely. You watch the video and you get that idea. She has a new floor routine. It’s got some of her signature choreography in it.  And she just looks relaxed, and certainly the impression that she gave at the Olympics was not terribly relaxed.

EMMA: I agree.

BLYTHE: It’s true.

JESSICA: I was just happy to see in the last couple weeks, Olivia Vivian and all the Australians have been released from Aussie-

EMMA: Thank goodness!

JESSICA: Yes, gymnastics jail.

EMMA: Gymnastics Jail…

JESSICA: Yes, and Olivia Vivian- I never remembered her in Australia but I remember her at Oregon doing college gymnastics and I loved her. Her bars are amazing and I’ve been watching her videos, so I don’t understand the score she was given.  They made no sense to me because her bars are perfect. But then again I haven’t actually watched the routine so maybe she fell like three times [laughter] but-

I’m adding an editor’s note right here because I listened back on this and was like oh my God I didn’t mention the important guys, Uncle Tim’s gonna kill me if this isn’t in the show. So I’m going to give a special shout out to Paul Ruggeri who killed it at Doha. He did a great job. He came in second on floor with a 15.1 behind the Prince of Japan, on high bar he came in, he got the silver behind Epke, and, with a 15.3.  He also winked and waved at the camera when he was in the little seats they have, that was like a kiss and cry area but it was like fancier chairs because, you know, it’s Qutar. They’re the next Dubai. [end of edit]

JESSICA: Umm I’m glad to see her back and all of them.  Ok. Let’s discuss British Championships! I’m so excited! I love the British Championships because you know…

EMMA: Oh my God.

JESSICA: British gymnastics.

EMMA: They’re so good.

JESSICA: Yeah and they’re always known for putting on these events, you know? Like real events.  They do such innovative competitions. So, they did so many things. So tell us about how they, like, jazzed it up this year.

EMMA: Well, considering, you know I went to worlds and London and the Olympics and blah blah blah, and every competition with Great Britain, this one was like really special because at the start they have this really dramatic music and they switched all the lights out, and it was like the start of the X Factor. And they got, everybody marched out onto a stage and announced to the crowd. It was amazing!  And it was like a proper occasion, it was like the Queen was in the house.

JESSICA: And I love how they had the disability competitors come out and compete during finals with the elites, or the masters as you call them.

EMMA: That, yes, that was really good.

JESSICA: So cool!  I like that they have, I mean, I just think the British gymnastics does a great job. They have their whole app where you can watch stuff live, and you can see the live scores,

EMMA: Yeah

JESSICA: and they have their magazine for free, and they had the whole thing streaming live, and it’s archived so you can watch it, and they had Katy Steel doing commentary.

EMMA: Yep.

JESSICA: Who, sometimes listens to the show, so I was very excited to hear her, and um, you guys know we have this, um, Gymcastic gymmitation contest going on which the awards will be announced.

EMMA: Yes I entered it!

JESSICA: Yeah that’s right! And the show is, and so we’re going to announce the winners today,  on this show [woohoo!] and um I love that she did the imitation that Lauren Hopkins from The Couch Gymnast did an imitation of Nastia and all of her stuff out  commentating, and then Katy Steel did as well, oh my God.  And I just like, she’s very positive, um, while being critical. I think she did a good job with that. Like, she’ll say, you know, this gymnast could do with a little more expression, which I think is much more positive than the way I always say it which is always like [louder] she has dead eyes! Like there’s nothing there! You know, [laughter], so I enjoyed listening to her commentary.  So tell us why a couple of our favorites were missing. So where was Ellie Downie? We were excited to see her.

EMMA: Well,  I ran into Ellie in the stands, well, when I was stalking, umm, and she told me that she had landed on straight legs from her Patterson dismount in training.

JESSICA: Oof.

EMMA: And that they told her she needed a couple of days rest. So I told her you must be really gutted about that, and she yes I am. Because that girl has fire. She’s just, she’s like raring to go.

JESSICA: And that dismount looks so easy for her, honestly, she like walks into it.

EMMA: Yeah.

JESSICA: It’s amazing how, and she’s not like a short little thing either, you know? She’s like a normal…

EMMA: She isn’t! I was actually shocked that she’s quite a bit taller than her sister, so yeah I thought they were around the same.

JESSICA: So what happened with Lisa Mason? She’s…we’ve talked to her…

EMMA: Lisa Mason, I met her after and she’s great. She’s really fun. She’s really great. But she said to me that she had her foot taped up and she said that she hurt her foot and they told her to kind of not compete but she said she was going to anyway.

JESSICA: Oof.

EMMA: And then on event final day she had to withdraw because her foot was like elephant foot, and it was huge and black. So she had to withdraw from event finals, but that girl’s got some good skills going on, like both myself and Michelle, we commented on bars, she had like proper pointed toes. You know, she did a nice floor routine. You know, she deserved to be there, you know, it’s not like she just turned up and it’s a bit of a joke. She’s like, she’s fierce.

JESSICA: She’s definitely fierce. And I really like her bars. I think it’s one of her stronger events because of her form, which, there was a lot of form which was like ouhh.  So, the other person which we were so excited was Louis Smith, and he said that his goal was to um, get to the Commonwealth Games, so based on his performance here, how realistic do you think that is?

EMMA: Oooh, he’s on the cusp.  If you think, for the Commonwealths, that the GB team will get split, so that, the two Dans compete for Scotland, so then England you’ve got Max and Sam and a whole other bunch of guys whose names escape me at the moment.

JESSICA: Christian Thomas.

EMMA: But Louis is right on the cusp. Yes, Christian, he’s right on the cusp really because if you think Max can do pommels, and he’s great, and the other guys can as well, so I would say he’s kind of teetering on the outer section. He needs to pull a few more hits out of the bag I think before he would be on that team. He’s on the cusp I would say.

JESSICA: So speaking of hits and Scotland and everyone going to their respective countries for Commonwealth Games, is it Rebecca Tunney who, or is it Amy Tinkler, who, hits a golf ball in her routine? Oh no, it’s little Grindle. Did you guys notice that?

EMMA: Teal.

JESSICA: Teal, yes.

EMMA: Teal.

JESSICA: One of the adorable names, right? Is she golfing? [laughter]

EMMA: I don’t know.

JESSICA: There’s a part where she holds her hands up, and then it totally looks like a golf- I mean it can’t be baseball right, so it’s gotta be – Ive’ decided she golfs.

EMMA: I’ll need to check it out.

JESSICA: I’ve decided she golfs. I don’t know.

EMMA: I didn’t go to the Junior competition so I’ll have to check the video out. But have you noticed that nearly every time she competes she wears teal as well?

BLYTHE: Aww that’s cute.

[laughter]

BLYTHE: I love it.

JESSICA: Her little interview after – I love British Gymnastics for doing this- they didn’t cut the pre interview out so, she’s like “Don’t ask me anything hard!”

EMMA: She’s so cute.

[laughter]

JESSICA: She’s adorable, I love how we can see her personality. She’s looking at the guy like “I’m serious, I will cut you dude, don’t ask me anything hard.”

[laughter]

EMMA: I’ll tell you something that you do notice about British Gymnastics is that they are one great big happy family ‘cause it’s such a joyous event and everyone loves each other. And if you look on people’s instagrams and twitters, all the team selfies that have been posted and all the love for each other- it’s great, and it’s really evident.

JESSICA: It is! And the other thing I was noticing is when they talked about their- when they did their post meet interviews, they were so positive. I was shocked. At least the women, I didn’t listen, I didn’t watch all the guys, but the women were really positive, like “oh you know I fell, I was a little off, but I went for it anyway. You know, it happens some times, but, you know we’ll get it next time and I’d like to go to duh duh duh and win a medal” and I wonder if- so Blythe, this is what I want to ask you about. Do you think this is indicative of why the British gymnasts seem to have more longevity than some of the more competitive countries I would say, or do you think it’s kind of the attitude of “it’s enough to just make it to this level” and there isn’t this super drive to win win win and be the best? Or is it just being kind of healthy and realistic?

BLYTHE: Oh, that’s difficult. And I’d like to answer the question by sharing a story from Mitch Fenner.

JESSICA: The great Mitch Fenner.

EMMA: Oooh.

BLYTHE: The great Mitch Fenner.

EMMA: I love Mitch Fenner.

B: You know, and Mitch Fenner loves gymnastics. And one thing that he said during the London games in 2012. God, I hope I don’t get in trouble for telling this story, but he said “I really like the American guys” he said, “because you got a kid like Jonathan Horton, and it is so evident that he would cut off his leg to be the best and to be on the floor and you know he just wants it so badly.”  And he said, “and Britain, we don’t have guys like that. We have plenty of really nice gymnasts, especially the last few years, starting with Louis Smith and Dan Keatings, and snowballing. And they had a fantastic team that had a fantastic accomplishment. But Mitch’s critique was that we just don’t have guys who are gritty like some of the American guys.  And maybe I’m partisan for saying that, because I’m obviously not British, but that was Mitch’s comments. And that might have something to do with it, but British gymnastics still seems to me very young in a way.

JESSICA: Yeah.

BLYTHE: They are a fantastic program, but frankly they have only been that team and that program for the last 5, 6 years.

JESSICA: Yeah.

EMMA: I agree.

BLYTHE: And you have Many of the people who established that, that generation is still around. Someone like Daniel Purvis or Daniel Keatings, and it’s not that there aren’t great guys coming up. There are. You look at Nile Thompson. You look at Brinn Bevan.  You look at, oh I’m sorry, Nile Wilson. Nile Wilson and Jay Thomson and Brinn Bevan, and they are going to, if they’re not already, really start pushing sort of, they’re the Dan Purvises of the world. So it’s going to be very interesting in 2 years, who makes the Olympic Team and who doesn’t. I think we’ll see some surprises. But also, the guys just seem to have a really good, well rounded training program.  They’re not really injured, certainly not as much as some. They’re not always going in for a surgery, and they just look very well conditioned and very very well trained.  Props to their coaches. And for all those reasons, all this adds up to longevity, but I think they also realize they’re really part of something special here. And when you realize that, and you love your sport, and you do want to do your sport, why would you ever want to stop?

JESSICA: An excellent assessment.

BLYTHE: Exactly.

EMMA: Can I talk about a couple of the other guys?

JESSICA: Yes! I want to ask you about the other guys like Dan Keatings and..

EMMA: I feel like they need a mention.

JESSICA: Yes, yes.

EMMA: Well Dan Keatings was absolutely on fire, and he won bronze in the all-around, he won p-bars gold, and he won pommel gold, so he was absolutely on fire.  And it’s the first time I’ve seen him do All-Arounds since 2009 Worlds, and he was great. So if you watched his story on The Hard Way to Success, you’ll know how devastated he was on not making the Olympic team, and then he came back in Antwerp and then he fell on pommels.  It was just heartbreaking, so yay for Dan!  Also there’s a guy called Courtney Tulloch, he is really good as well. He just had, he’s just kind of like just below the Dans and the Maxs and everybody, but have a lookout for some of his videos because he’s really great. And also Reiss Beckford. Now Reiss has been competing for quite a while and he goes to the same club as Max and Brinn Bevan and he has the best toes of any man in any country.

JESSICA: What?!

EMMA: You watch him, you look at his toes, you watch him do parallel bars, you look at his toes. The guy has style.  He is just lovely to watch. But sadly he had a couple of mishaps, but he is lovely.  And also my new favorite guy. You must have a lookout for him. His name is Dom Cunningham and he competes just down the road from me in Birmingham, and he won silver on floor I think, and silver on vault, and he is the nicest guy.  I met him afterwards and he’s just an absolute doll.  So, big shout out to Dom and I hope he’s chosen because I was literally going around every single gymnast going “listen to Gymcastic! Listen to Gymcastic! We’ll give you a shout out!” [JESSICA giggles] so…

JESSICA: Awesome!

EMMA: So yeah, shout out to Dom!

JESSICA: I watched him during the vault finals and of course, ‘cause I was watching to see my man Christian Thomas.

EMMA: Christian.

JESSICA:  and his legs, and ugh, a lot of people just looked really tired or they just looked like, I don’t know if it was like they were tired, or if it was the pressure, but it was like a splat fest, seriously, and a lot of people I was like “oh my God please don’t let them be hurt, and it was just off, like the whole vault finals was a little bit off, but Dom killed it! I was like “oh man, everybody better be watching their back.”

EMMA: He’s great.

JESSICA: Yeah, Dom was doing hard vaults and yeah, he’s pretty bad ass so everybody better watch out. And speaking of bad ass, let’s talk about our little Ruby Harrold, who we just love, love, love on this show. We’ve been talking about her for a long time, she was wearing her bumblebee leotard, she’s going to LSU, she’s just, you know how much we love her bars, but ooh, rough meet, it was a little bit of a rough meet for her.

EMMA: She had a not very good time on bars at all.  She had a couple of, I don’t know if she had 2 or 3 falls because I was trying to film it and I kept buffering out with my ipad, but she fell twice that I saw, and then she moved onto beam and she had this look of evil in her eyes and she was just like- even Michelle commented on it and said “she is not falling off this” because she was like “you tip me off you beam, and I will take a   to you.”

[laughter]

JESSICA: Someone needs to add that choreography into their beam routine.

EMMA: Seriously.

JESSICA: Like lighting the match, lighting the beam on fire, and then you run and dismount!

[laughter]

EMMA: She would have lit the bloomin’ thing on fire because she was not falling off it. And then her floor was really good, her vault was really good, but the bars just had the better of her, which was such a shame because she should be at bar final, and it would have been better had she been in it.

JESSICA: Also on floor, you know, she looked really determined, she looked good.

EMMA: Yeah.

JESSICA: She just seemed like she was- in floor finals she had 2 falls, and it was weird because it didn’t seem like she didn’t have the power or was worn out.

BLYTHE: Yeah

JESSICA: Maybe it was just, I don’t know what it was, but it was unfortunate because I just love watching her, and I love that she wore yellow. She totally stood out.

EMMA: I did have a little chat with her after and she wasn’t, she was lovely and she signed my pictures and stuff, but she wasn’t particularly happy with her all-around, but, you know, it was the bars, and everything else was good. But I guess she’s known for the bars more than other stuff so I guess she wanted to smash it.

JESSICA: Yes, she’s a little competitor. She’ll be pissed for a little while that she didn’t.

EMMA: Oh yeah, she is. When she goes to college she’s going to be crazy mad.

JESSICA: Ha! Crazy Mad!

EMMA: No she is, if you think the British, we’re always calm over here, and once she gets to the WOAH!!! YOU’RE GONNA GET A TEN!!! She’s gonna be like- she’s gonna lap that up!

JESSICA: That’s totally true.  [laughter] Oh, beam finals. We must mention two people. So Kelly Simm who does a standing front tuck, which, HELLO, is the craziest thing ever, and then, my favorite, Laura Mitchell, who, she’s really making a name for herself this year.

EMMA: Oh yeah.

JESSICA: She has pizzazz and a presence and lights it up.

EMMA: She does- and can we just stop for a second and can we give a shout to anybody in America who wants a new firecracker on their team. Come and get Laura, because she needs to go to America.

JESSICA: NCAA coaches, that is a call to all of you. A call to action! Yes.

EMMA: Get on YouTube and look up her beam video and her floor video. She needs to go to America.

JESSICA: She’s made for NCAA. She’s one of the Heathrow Honeys.

EMMA: She is.  She is.

JESSICA: And she does that crazy beam mount where she does a back dive to a chest stand and she holds on with her biceps,

EMMA: That’s right.

JESSICA: It’s, ugh, I love her on beam.

EMMA: It’s crazy. I don’t know if you saw, she posted on Instagram quite a while ago, her practicing that mount. And there was about ten where she just fell off or splatted.

JESSICA: Yes! Oh my God. Terrifying!

EMMA:  It’s  so funny.

JESSICA: I mean, that mount is so scary! Because if you’re too close, you’ll literally knock yourself out. That’s it. You’re gonna be cold, on the ground. And if you, if she crashes on that, that’s the thing- she just learned it. I mean, she learned it a couple months ago, and it’s solid enough that she’s doing it in her meets, so I love her.

EMMA: Well do you want to know another thing I found out? I was talking to Lisa Mason, and she had told me that she had only done her beam combination for two weeks, and she choreographed her own floor routine.

JESSICA: That Laura did?

EMMA: No Lisa.

JESSICA: Oh Lisa choreographed her own.

EMMA: Choreographed her own, yeah…and she’d only done her beam for two weeks.

JESSICA: [whispers] Oh my God.

JESSICA: I mean, she talks about, she’s jokes on Twitter and stuff about the Mason genes, but honestly, she is a genetic freak.

EMMA: She is.

JESSICA: Her kid taught herself a double back.

EMMA: Seriously.

JESSICA: Who teaches themselves a double back? People don’t do that.

EMMA: I don’t know.

JESSICA: That’s not normal.

EMMA: And she’s, oh my God, she’s like so fricken pretty, and tall and beautiful.  She’s a freakin’ swan. She’s more of a swan than the Belarusian freakin swan.

JESSICA: Oooh take that!  All of Russia is gonna be emailing in now.

BLYTHE: That is quite the statement, Emma.

[laughter]

JESSICA: We’re gonna incite a riot. [laughter]  With that, let’s talk about the little, Katie Steel called her the “Pocket Rocket.”  That has other meanings, so I’m not going to use that when I talk about Claudia Fragapane.  I’m just gonna call her.

EMMA: I will tell you who she is.  She’s the love child of Gervasio Deferr and Chellsie Memmel [inaudible] in a bun if that’s possible.

JESSICA: That’s perfect.

EMMA: It is perfect!

JESSICA: She’s a little pocket Hercules.

EMMA: She’s so small as well.

JESSICA: She’s tiny!

EMMA: I met her after and I was like “oh my God! You’re smaller than Simone Biles!” She is tiny!  But she’s all fire.

JESSICA: Yeah she’s…

EMMA: She’s so good.

JESSICA: It looked like it was a little rough, like her form wasn’t up to her normal standards.  I think she normally has a little better form. Like she had flexed feet a lot on beam, even though her beam is crazy.  She doesn’t even have to jump, she just twitches her eyelids and she goes up 24 feet in the air. And she was out of bounds a lot on floor, but she did her double, she did her full twisting double layout on floor.

BLYTHE: What!?

EMMA: She did it as if she was like doing a little single back, she was that good.

JESSICA: She’s awesome, her power, it seems like she just needs to learn to control her power when she’s in a meet and when she’s excited and has that atmosphere around her, because clearly the skills are not hard.

EMMA: I honestly believe that it was her and a couple of others who just maybe they found that occasion just a little too much, because it was pizzazzed up, and she did say after the meet on the British Gymnastics YouTube that she was really quite nervous, so maybe that was the reason.

JESSICA: Sure.  And let’s talk about one of the veterans that we’ve known forever, Hannah Whelan.  She, I love what she does on floor and Princess Catherine of Europa does this too, before she starts her floor routine, she does a choreographed part into her starting pose, and then holds the position.  WHAT?!

EMMA: Oh! I love that! I love that, just look at me and stop what you’re doing now. It’s just, oh it’s just perfect.  I think, was it Daria Joura that started all that caper?

JESSICA: It probably was. Daria Joura is just the greatest, you know.

BLYTHE: She is.

JESSICA: Yeah. And an epic performer. Truly, a swan.

[laughter]

JESSICA: Hannah Whelan has really become a good performer.   I never really noticed her before.

B: She has.

JESSICA: She’s really doing- and so many- and I think that’s why we like talking about the British Gymnasts so much, you know they’re having this- British Gymnastics is definitely having a Renaissance, and, or it might be a first Renaissance kind of,  but it’s

EMMA: I think it’s the first.

JESSICA: Yeah [laughter] Who has a Renaissance for the first time? But they are really embracing the artistic side, even though they’re doing these difficult things.  They’re definitely keeping to the roots of the sport and you can really see it from the men to the women to the juniors.  Oh my God the junior girls on floor! I was like, these are like NCAA routines! I mean little Tinkler, she’s like staring down the judges  and smiling at them and giggling at them, oh my God. Love her.

EMMA: Jess, you must know Miss Val and these people. Get them over here! Get them over here! Like get them

JESSICA: I’ll just call everyone up.

EMMA: You call them all up. You’ve got contacts.

JESSICA: I honestly think that there should be a recruitables meet in Britain somewhere, or there is a recruitables meet in the US, I think it’s in the summertime and I think it’s in Oklahoma. I think IG has something to do with it.

BLYTHE: Ohh.

JESSICA: And all these British gymnasts should get together and come to this meet and just show- you don’t even have to do your hardest stuff, just do super clean gymnastics. You know, throw one of your hardest skills, you don’t have to do these elite, you know, 15 tumbling passes. But it’s so fun and you guys would love it, and the college coaches go to those meets, so, or if you want to do it, send them your videos. You know, make them aware of you because we would LOVE to have all of you come to the US, and just have fun and do more gymnastics and experience having all these people screaming for you. Ugh I would love that.  So Blythe, I think you watched this, The Hard Way to Success, which is a program out of the Netherlands that’s doing these fantastic documentaries on gymnasts, now they’re really expanding to international gymnasts, not just gymnasts in the Netherlands. The quality is so good, it’s so professional, I love.

EMMA: It’s so good.

JESSICA: Oh my God.

EMMA: Can you actually get through an episode of that without tissues, because I can’t.

JESSICA: [laughs] Just by the name, um, right, the hard way.

EMMA: It’s that music! As soon as the music kicks in I’m gone!

JESSICA: [laughs] Totally! Blythe, did you watch this one on Luke Carson who competed this weekend?

BLYTHE: Yes, and it was excellent. I thought it was the best one they’ve done, and that’s really saying something because all of them are just wonderful- wonderful to watch. As Emma said, the quality is exceptional.  The interviews are great, and you get to see training footage, which is what we all really want to see. The lighting actually is really really good, and it’s been very well shot. And yeah, I can’t say enough good things about this series. Google The Hard Way to Success, go on their website, watch the videos. It’s excellent.

JESSICA: And Luke Carson competed this weekend.  So he’s the guy, remember, he’s in Ireland, and he competed, oh he must be in Northern Ireland, so he’s not in Ireland, he’s in Northern Ireland, and he competed.

EMMA: He trains with Louis Smith and Dan Keatings at Huntingdon.

JESSICA: And he’s the guy who had, like a compound fracture and then a couple years later, was it like last year around this time?

EMMA: No, he had this massive injury to his leg, and then exactly a year to the day, he smashed his leg into like a million pieces.  So how the guy can even walk is just beyond me.

JESSICA: And it was the craziest injury because he was just-

EMMA:  Yeah.

JESSICA: Vaulting, and it wasn’t the landing, it was when he jumped on the board that it happened.

EMMA: Yeah, yeah.

JESSICA: Ugh, so the fact that he’s back is just incredible. And he did well this weekend, right?

EMMA: He did. The guy’s a legend! I think if you haven’t watched it, please, just stop your business. Stop work. Go home immediately and watch it. [J laughs]  Because to be able to come back from two, I mean as well, he was talking about qualifying for the Olympic games. He went out and did qualifying, and they gave the spot to Kieran Behan.  He didn’t even make the team. And yet, the guy comes back from another injury and up to the level he’s at now, when the doctor said you may not even walk. He’s phenomenal. I can’t say enough good things about him.

JESSICA: Yeah, super inspiring.  When you have your coach and you have kids who have a rip and are like “I can’t work out today”, just sit them down and make them hold a push up position and watch the entire episode.

EMMA:  Yeah.  When you’re having a crap day, watch the Luke Carson episode and the Brinn Bevan episode and your day will not be as bad as you think.

JESSICA: Ok, can we talk about [squeals] Brinn Bevan! He’s so little! He’s like a little tiny Jonathan Horton.  He’s so cute! And I know he’s a grown man, so I don’t mean this to be that I don’t see him as a virile and handsome adult man, but how cute is he?!  He’s just a little thing!

EMMA: Aw he’s lovely. He’s lovely. And he’s great as well.

JESSICA: Yeah I’m excited to see what is gonna happen for him in the future.  And we talked a little bit about bars when we were talking about Ruby Harrold Not having a great time, but the person that stole the show who we were not, or at least I wasn’t expecting, you guys may have been expecting…

EMMA: Miss Twiglet herself.

JESSICA: What?! I literally yelled “holy shit!” while I was watching this routine.  I was just like “WHAT?! WHAT?!” at like the third connection she did.

EMMA: I think Twitter blew up. It’s like how is that even humanly possible?

JESSICA: And when she dismounts.

EMMA: No but she does it like it’s nothing!

JESSICA: And when she dismounts, she sticks her tongue out of the side of her mouth like you know when a dog is super tired they’re like “uhhh” like YES that was as hard as it looked! Thanks you guys, I’m gonna go take a nap. [laughter] So she does a toe-on piked tkatchev to immediate bhardwaj, so a full twisting pak. Then she does a toe-on shaposh, to a pak, to an immediate stalder shaposh half.  And then she stalder full to immediate half in half out. I mean, everything’s connected. It’s like exactly like it’s the Tweddle effect, you know? Exactly what we want to see.

EMMA: Yeah. Well she trains in Liverpool, which is where Tweddle used to train, so you know they’ve got some good coaches there.

JESSICA: Now while we’re talking about her though, we have to discuss the hair fashion that’s going on at British Championships. [EMMA laughs] OK, now you know how I feel about scrunchies, they’re hideously ugly but they work really well actually, which is why we can’t get rid of them.

EMMA: But Jess I know where you’re going. You’re going on this double scrunchie giant bun trip, aren’t you?

JESSICA: Yes. And they’re not scrunchied, they’re just set there- like a pancake with a hole in it.

EMMA: But at least it’s perfection, it’s not like you know, that…

JESSICA: Bed head?

EMMA: post-sex hair of the USA team with theirs scrunched up like “I’ve just rolled in a bush” hair. [JESSICA laughs]  You know, yeah it’s a

JESSICA: I just crawled to the meet through a jungle? Yeah. I give you that, you are correct.

EMMA: You know since the Americans did that hair in London, all the Italians are copying it.

JESSICA: Ugh.

EMMA: And a lot of the British girls were copying it.

JESSICA: Ugh.

EMMA: And I’m like no, don’t start that over here.  You know, nice tidy bun, but admittedly, like, I mean Rebecca Tunney has a long, long hair, like all the way down her back. She has long hair. So she puts it in a bun, and then she puts one of those bun donut things as well. It’s like the size of the moon for God’s sake.

JESSICA: It is, and it is perfect I have to say. And her bun is, you could put it in the dictionary for whatever, for those bun donut things- that’s what it’s supposed to look like [EMMA laughs] Like there’s no messy in it. She couldn’t wear that at NCAA.  All her teammates would be like “God, your hair’s perfect. Stop it right now! We have to get a rat’s nest going on in there, and some ribbons.” But it does…

EMMA: And then you’ve got little Ruby and Catherine Lyons and the little ringlets, and they look pretty.

JESSICA: Ok, but this is the thing. I mean, the ringlets are totally adorable, but I have to say that the shininess of the scrunchies, and they’re not being scrunchied up, kind of looks like some booty shorts from some gay pride parade fell or flung into her hair [EMMA laughs], like it’s too shiny. Like this is the problem.  Like a different material, like just a black scrunchie or something would be ok.  I mean, in case anyone was wondering.

EMMA: I think, I was a huge fan of when Shawn Johnson was trying to bring ribbons back, you know?

JESSICA: Yeah.

EMMA: I like pretty and simple. I’m not into overkill, but scrunchies aren’t that offensive.  It’s not like the Shannon Miller ruffles of the past.

JESSICA: Oh no, those were a bit much. I just think like you shouldn’t notice it.

EMMA: Yeah.

JESSICA: You shouldn’t notice it. But then again, when Peng Peng from Canada wore her flower in her hair, I was like “this is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.”

EMMA: That’s- it was, it was beautiful.  What about Shantessa Pama with her bits of rope? I mean, they were pretty.

JESSICA: Uh, yarn? I mean you can’t do yarn wrong. If they did it in the Soviet Union then you can do it forever, yes. [E laughs]  Those are the rules.

EMMA: Let’s-can we just talk about Princess Catherine because…

JESSICA: Can we just!? My God! We haven’t talked this whole time.

EMMA: She was just wearing this silver, like no one in the world could wear a silver leo with all the cutouts and crazy going on it.

JESSICA: No.

EMMA: But she looked amazing!

JESSICA: It did, that leo was-

EMMA: She looked freaking regal! She is a princess.

JESSICA: She is, and you can tell because it was a royal leotard. It looked like it was in a crown, a crown translated.

EMMA: The Queen’s tailor made that.  I’m telling you.

JESSICA: It was weird because, you know what, I really liked the leo, and then when it was up close I was like “oh my God it looked like a space suit from Aliens, like what is going on in the back of that?” But it was beautiful! She’s just, I don’t know. She’s, like I said, she could just get up there in her leo and burp and I would be like “it’s perfect! Give her a ten!” So, and of course she did a fantastic job, she took second or third? This is terrible when, you know, the meet-

EMMA: In the all-around I believe she was third.

JESSICA: Yes.

EMMA: Because Amy was first, Amy Tinkler, Teal was second, and Catherine was third.

JESSICA: There we go.

EMMA: I believe she won the floor exercise.

JESSICA: Of course, because unless there was like an earthquake and someone pushed her off, of course she was gonna win. For crying out loud.

EMMA: Yeah, exactly. That floor routine is exquisite.

JESSICA: [whispers] And it’s so quiet and powerful.  Um, Blythe, you’ve been very quiet on the subject of Princess Catherine of Europa, what are your thoughts on her, how she’s gonna do in the future with this, she only has one more year I think of being a Junior and how she did in this meet?

BLYTHE: I think it’s too early to tell.  And I think the competition in Great Britain right now is extremely tough.  She is not a gymnast like Amy Tinkler or Teal Grindle, or Tyesha Mattis, or even Ellie Downie. She is, umm, the Kyla Ross of the group, shall we say.  She has elegance, she has artistry, she has incredible lines.  And added to that she really does have some amazing skills.  She’s working on a full twisting geinger, you know, on uneven bars.  She has a gorgeous beam routine.  Where she’s going to, if she wants to be an all around gymnast, she’s going to have to up her difficulty on vault a little bit- and I think she can do it.  But she’s going to have to do it in the next couple of years, or else she’s maybe kind of looking at being a bars/beam specialist.  But she’s really shaken things up, I think, in Britain, where, for so many years there wasn’t expressive choreography.  Yeah she’s nothing but expressive and she just oozes artistry, and you have to love that.  So that’s kind of my thought up to this point, she has competed in, not the junior- what’s the level below junior?

EMMA: Espoir.

BLYTHE: Espoir! Yes. She’s competed in the British Espoir and she’s really dominated. And she’s doing quite well in the juniors and I think we’ll see. She’s got one more year of being a junior and then she’ll be a senior? So she’ll be a senior just in time for Rio?

Woohoo!

BLYTHE: And we’ll see.

JESSICA: If you guys are picking your teams for Commonwealth Games and Europeans, which is what the British Championships served as trials for, who would you put on your European team right now? ‘Cuz I think Europeans is going to be the more competitive one.

EMMA: Ooh, I would say Hannah, Beckie, Rebecca Tunney. Am I allowed five?

JESSICA: Yes.

EMMA: Ruby, and who’s my other one? Ugh I can’t think!

JESSICA: Can you put juniors on the team, or does it have to be all seniors?

EMMA: No ‘cuz there’s a separate juniors, so juniors I would go for Teal, and Amy, and Ellie, and, oh God, Catherine?

BLYTHE: Catherine.

EMMA: Am I allowed Catherine?

JESSICA: Yes.

EMMA: And maybe Tyesha as well. That’s five isn’t it?  God, my seniors! I’ve forgot every single senior. Umm…

BLYTHE: Raer Theaker?

EMMA: Ooh! Well you’ve got Claudia! I mean, she’s a possibility. I think the senior team is gonna be a tough call because you’ve got Ruby who’s excellent, but had quite a lackluster British, so, hmm, you know, and then Claudia was third all-around, so it’s quite tricky.

JESSICA: Before I ask you this question, Blythe, we totally forgot to talk about Becky Downie’s beam, which, talk about redemption right? Ohmygosh, so she does her all-around competition, and all of us are just cringing like “nooo not again! Why does this always happen to her?”  She falls on her double pike dismount, which is just like ARGH. So then she goes and does her finals routine for beam, and she’s up way in the beginning, because of course she fell in prelims, and her routine is so good! My God!  She does aerial layout as her series, and normally people do aerial layout and their amplitude is just a straight line.  You can draw a straight line from where their head is, right across the beam, right?  Not when she does it.  You have to draw a mountain, and then diagonal down to the beam, and then another mountainous line.  She has amplitude live I’ve never seen on that series.  I didn’t know you could actually do it with that much amplitude which is what makes me think everyone else should have gotten more of a deduction for no amplitude when they do that series.  And she almost stuck her double pike dismount, it was like “YES SHE’S BACK FOR REAL!” Oh my God I was so happy for her- so happy for her, and she wore a pink leotard. I loved how she has a pink leotard for everything.

EMMA: Yeah. Did you see her floor routine? It was lovely.

JESSICA: I didn’t. I haven’t gotten that far yet, I’m still watching everything.

EMMA: Oh, right.  Get on my YouTube channel because I video’ed it.  It’s good.

JESSICA: Ooh, excellent.

EMMA: It’s good, it’s lovely- nice music, nice choreography, lovely.

JESSICA: So Blythe, who would you pick?

BLYTHE: Uhh, seniors? Juniors? Men? Women?

JUDE: Let’s go with seniors, men and women.

EMMA: Do, yes, do that.

BLYTHE: And you get five or do you get six?

EMMA: You get five I think.

BLYTHE: Seniors men and women. Well, senior men, alright, umm, Whitlock, obviously.

EMMA: Yeah.

BLYTHE: Purvis, obviously.

EMMA: Sam.

BLYTHE: Keatings.

EMMA: What about Sam? Yeah.

BLYTHE: Kristian Thomas.

EMMA: Yup.

BLYTHE: Annnnd…

EMMA: Sam Oldham?

BLYTHE: Sam Oldham or Frank Baines.

EMMA/JESSICA: Oooohh.

BLYTHE: Frankly, if I could take Nile Wilson, at this point I would take Nile Wilson over both of them.

EMMA: Well can’t he compete on the juniors? Can’t he compete on the juniors?

BLYTHE: I think he will have to compete with the juniors.  He’s how old now? Seventeen?

EMMA: I’m not sure.

BLYTHE: He might be one year away from being able to compete senior. Although, you know they have seventeen-year-old worlds, so…

EMMA: Interestingly, Blythe, you didn’t pick Louis Smith.

BLYTHE: Uhh, for Euros?

EMMA: Yeah.

BLYTHE: Sorry, no. He’s a one event gymnast and Britain; pommel horse is their best event.  No.

EMMA: Yup.

BLYTHE: You know, he got snowed by Dan, and you know, Sam Oldham is not bad on pommel horse either.  Max Whitlock is, well, scores very well.  With all the respect in the world to Louis Smith, they don’t need him.  Commonwealths…

EMMA: I do think it’s gonna be, I do think he’s gonna have a really tough time trying to get on the Commonwealth team.  I really do.

BLYTHE: Well Commonwealths would be a little bit different because you will have Dan Purvis and Dan Keatings who go to Scotland, Frank will go to Scotland.

EMMA: Yeah but you’ve got a million other all-arounders snapping for those places.

BLYTHE: Yeah, and, it does give you more options. I think that Louis could sneak onto the team for Commonwealths.  And there is something to be said for his personality, for his leadership skills, he’s a wonderful man to have on the floor with the team.

EMMA: Yeah he did get the biggest cheers.  Yeah, he did get the biggest cheers.

BLYTHE: Yeah, so, right, but in terms of sheer gymnastics, and his pommel horse is amongst the best in Britain and in the world.  I think maybe right now Dan Keatings is stronger than him.  Max Whitlock may be stronger than him, but, you know, it’s still a world-class routine, and it would still, you know, be great.  But again, he’s a one-event gymnast.  And that’s why, and Britain has tons of depth right now.  There is no reason to take a one-event gymnast.

JESSICA: And that’s why Azerbaijan is going to snap them up!

BLYTHE: Even if, you know-

EMMA: [laughs] YES! Louis for Azerbaijan!

BLYTHE: Azerbaijan is about to have a line out the door with people wanting to sign up with them.

[laughter]

JESSICA: I mean those hotels! Where they live! The gym! I’ve never seen anything like it! It’s just beautiful!

EMMA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

BLYTHE: Yes!  And they’re constructing a national arena.  There’s an article in the press every week or so that we’re doing this! We’re doing this! And so that’s really cool. It’s gonna be really interesting to see-

EMMA: Well they stolen, oh, like Stepko now haven’t they from the Ukraine?

JESSICA/BLYTHE: Yep.

JESSICA: He’s there.

BLYTHE: And that’s a really, uh, how do you want to put it, a prized fish, or whatever.

JESSICA: Yeah! [laughs] A prized fish!

EMMA: He’s an…

JESSICA: Is that a Swiss phrase? Ooh look at him, he’s a prized fish.

EMMA: He’s an orange, what are those orange fish people pay hundred for?  The Koy of gymnastics .

BLYTHE: Because, unlike Anna Pavlova, unlike Yulia Inshina, no offense to either of them, their best days are behind them.  And we love- and I’m sorry that’s true.

EMMA: It’s true.

BLYTHE: And we are delighted to see them in international competitions, on the international stage, but, their best days are behind them.

EMMA: That’s very true.

BLYTHE: I’m sorry to say it but it is the truth.  Oleg Stepko’s best days are not behind him.  I mean, when Oleg was seventeen, in 2010, he went to the World Championships, and he was this little guy, on this big Ukrainian team, and his potential was just so obvious. It was like there is a walking future world champion.  No question.  And I still believe that.  So he’s going to do, as long as he, you know, doesn’t blow out a knee or anything, go and knock on wood, he’s gonna do wonderful things for this program.  The question is, is Azerbaijan going to be able to sustain this? What kind of infrastructure do they have in place for sort of home-growing their own gymnasts if they don’t want to keep signing from Russia and signing from Ukraine, which, they could do, you know? And then the next years we’ll probably see quite a lot more of that. But then, you know, there’s the question of are they establishing a national training center? Are they picking out kids when they’re five, six, seven years old? Are they brining in a national coach who can really develop the program?  Something like what Qatar has done with Razvan Selariu.  And what other countries are beginning to do as well.  So it’s a question for them.  But right now it is a really exciting time, just because, you know, we all love these gymnasts so much and we want to see more of them.  But yeah, Stepko is different because he is the prized fish, you know?

JESSICA: [laughs] They’re gonna put him on the wall after! And I mean, this is the thing that, it’s so interesting, that you bring up this kind of, what will sustain?  I mean as long as oil doesn’t run out in Azerbaijan, or, the world doesn’t self destruct from climate change before that happens, and they don’t run out of money.  The thing is that, it looks, it’s so perfect, it’s so amazing. The hotel they stay in, the training center, the food they’re eating, I mean, the elevator is gorgeous! But I mean it looks lonely.  It looks like such a lonely life.  Even though there are some people they know there and stuff, it’s just very cold, it doesn’t look like they’re interacting with other people. It looks like they stay in their hotel, go to practice, and go back. Almost like they’re in a golden handcuffs thing, you know?  So, and I wondered what effect that will take over the long term, because it takes more than just the right food and the right equipment to sustain someone long-term.

BLYTHE: Yeah, you’d have to ask the gymnasts, “are you happy? Are you feeling like you’re having a well-rounded experience? Are you out in the city? Are you making friends? Are you integrating?”  If that’s what you want to do.  And I’m sure that the long-term goals of each gymnast differ somewhat, what they want to get out of this experience for competing for Azerbaijan.  So it’s hard to say, yeah, and certainly that in gymnastics history, this is a way of sort of building from the outside in, whereas the programs that have been the grand programs have really built from the inside out, where, you know, they start this program like in Romania. They start this program and there’s no money but they’re doing really interesting things and they have new ideas, and they go to competition and they stun everybody.  This is taking a beautiful new gym and bringing in people who have already had quite a lot of success, and sort of seeing what can be brought from that. And if this is you know, planting the seeds of inspiring the new generation, or, really taking somebody like Oleg Stepko and saying you know, have the prime of your career please, with us, right here. It’s just they have to inspire the people that are going to come up next.  You know what I mean?

JESSICA: Yeah.

BLYTHE: And they need the coaches to do that.  It seems like they’ve got the equipment to do that but they need the coaches and they need the desire to do that. There are plenty of- you talk about not having enough money.  Yes this is a very oil rich country and financing this sort of thing is not going to be a problem, but there are certainly plenty of first world countries that don’t have excellent gymnastic teams-

JESSICA: Yeah.

BLYTHE: Because it’s not cultural, or, and more and more you have parents who are like, who would have put up with some ugly coaching techniques and things thirty years ago, and the quality of life has improved so that they are taking a different look at what they want their children to experience.  So they’re going to have to deal with that, perhaps, as well. Yeah, there’s just a lot of things, really.

JESSICA: So I think that’s all I have.  Do you guys have anything else you want to discuss or talk about?

EMMA: YES!  Yes I do!

JESSICA: OK! Tell us!

EMMA: Well, there’s two things.  One is the Russian, is it the Russian Cup, Russian Nationals, or whatever it’s called.

BLYTHE: Ooh! Yes.

EMMA: Well apparently Komova is going to that.

JESSICA: She is?

EMMA: There’s been photographs posted of her on the train on her way there.

JESSICA: Oooh.

EMMA: So the internet is rife with “it’s her big comeback!” And also there’s another rumor that Shang Chunsong is going to be the first woman do a quad twist.

JESSICA: Right! I saw that and I was like huh? [laughter] Do they have the wrong person? [laughter]

EMMA: Oh yeah.  Apparently so.  There’s a rumor that she’s got a quad twist in her floor routine.

JESSICA: Blythe, what do you make of that?

BLYTHE: Well, I looked at the video of her doing the three-and-a-half, and went “can she get another half twist in there?”  And the jury is out.  Certainly with the adrenaline and whatnot when you say to yourself “I’m going to go perform a quad” you know, it’s a bit different, certainly, from doing a three-and-a-half that you know you can make.  Her three-and-a-half does look good.  She looks like she could probably do another quarter twist and land on her feet, maybe jump that last little quarter rotation or something.  I’ll believe it when I see it, but it doesn’t seem impossible.  What do you think, Emma?

EMMA: Ummm, I think, you know someone’s gonna do one.  Maybe she’s gonna do one, I just hope that it’s a credible one, not one of those awful vaults that we see that people are just gonna die doing it.

BLYTHE: Yeah.

EMMA: So, I mean certainly the smaller gymnast is obviously more able to do the crazier stuff.

JESSICA: But does she have the power?

EMMA: Let’s just see.

JESSICA: That’s the thing, because…

EMMA: God knows.

JESSICA: I wish Milosovici would have competed this back in the day.  Because she had a quad, and she never competed it, and it was probably for the best, but I still want her to be the first.

EMMA: Did you see the photograph that surfaced last week of – I’m not entirely sure what it is – but the Romanians have signed some deal for some sort of funding or something like that with, I don’t know.  But there’s an article out there anyway and it has-

JESSICA: Oh yeah.

EMMA: It has a photograph of all former champions, and there was Milosovici, there was Gogean, and Raducan, and Monica Rosu, so have a look for that because it- I always love seeing photographs of people from the past, now.

JESSICA: Oh so all of a sudden now they’re embracing her again?  Even though they said they would never-

EMMA: Showed you the door.

JESSICA: after she did floor routines in Japan in like lace underwear, big woop, and they were like “we’re never, you know, she has nothing to do with us.  We’re not gonna let her coach. She’s gonna be banned from the organization.” Ugh. Honestly.

EMMA: Ok, so I just found the picture, and the company is called OMV Petrom and they’re investing some money in gymnastics and they’ve got Chelaru, Racea, Sofronie, Stroescu, Cojocar– however you say that name, Izbasa…

JESSICA: I’ve never heard it like that.

EMMA: Amanar.

JESSICA: Wow that’s good!

EMMA: It’s a cool photo. It’s a cool photo. Because it’s always nice to see people that you’ve loved as a kid all grown up.  There must be something else.

JESSICA: We can talk about that horrific coach at – who ruined the African Championships by just standing there while his gymnast almost died.

EMMA: In fact we should make that guy do a bar routine and fall onto a bed of nails.

[JESSICA laughs]

EMMA: And see how he likes it.

JESSICA: Would that be punishment enough?  Blythe will you describe this routine for the people who haven’t – not the routine, well, yeah the routine, what happened?

BLYTHE: Well it was- and you know we’ve all sort of seen one of these videos every now and again.  Girl goes for her dismount and she releases too late, and her dismount looked like it was gonna be a double back.  And so instead of doing, of going up in the air and doing a double back and coming down away from the bar, she does basically a co-backs which is too short, bangs her neck on the high bar on the way down, and that, you can really hate to see.  And then as if that’s not enough, there’s, you know, the low bar, which sort of catches her as she falls down after banging her neck on the high bar, and it’s really just kind of a one-two punch.  And so, this happened and she collapses on the ground, and frankly the coach who’s standing there spotting her does nothing.  I mean just nothing at all, and, for a good three-four seconds and then he walks away, and meanwhile a trainer or two who has been standing off to the side comes running.  And while I understand the importance perhaps of letting a medical professional take over the scene, the fact that he did not even take a pace towards her, and he does appear to be her coach is just outrageous.

EMMA: It’s like he looked at her.

JESSICA: With his palms up. Like what are you doing?

EMMA: Yeah, there was venom coming out of him.

JESSICA: With his palms up.

EMMA: And it’s like he walked up to get some sort of torch implement to give her a good prod. Because, ick, he’s a horrid man.  Horrid, horrid man.

BLYTHE: It’s the sort of thing you really, really hate to see in gymnastics, and just  unacceptable behavior.

JESSICA: I think if your embarrassment, if your ego ever comes before the safety of one of your gymnasts, then you should never, ever coach again.  Ever.  Like, it’s totally unforgiveable.

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

JESSICA:

UNCLE TIM: It’s time to announce our Gymitation winners.  For those who don’t remember, the gymnerd challenge for the month of March was to imitate a famous gymnast, and we got some pretty great entries, but we were only able to choose four winners and here they are.  First up we have Anna Burnsy who did a gymitation of Kelly Garrison’s commentary complete with a back tuck and an “Oh, Boogers!” exclamation.  Next up we have Tandori Chicken who did a gymitation of Danell Leyva’s high bar face fail at the 2011 World Championships.  Another one of our winners is Kerry J who did a gymitation of Tan Sixin’s backhandspring headspring fail thingymabobber, umm, and if you can’t tell, we here at Gymcastic like gymitations that have to do with people failing at something.  Which brings me to the overall Gymcastic favorite.  The gymitation with the most votes goes to Charlie F’s Dad, who recorded a gymitation of Mo Hulian’s stepping out of bounds at the Atlanta Olympics.  During his big step he says “Here’s the gold medal, Lilia Podkopayeva.”  As Spanny said, one, it’s old school, two, it’s a dad, three, the dad knows who Hulian and Podkopayeva are, four, he knows how to say “Podkopayeva.”  There’s no other option.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner.  So winners, to claim your prize, please send us an email at gymcastic@gmail.com with your name and address. As you might recall, there are several prizes, and we’ll be doling out the prizes on a first come first serve basis.  So email us right now, and for the rest of our listeners, you’ll be able to check out these gymitations on our website.

The best college gymnasts compete for the ultimate title. Experience it live at the 2014 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships.  April 18th through the 20th in Birmingham, Alabama.  Affordable tickets available. Visit ncaa.com/wgymnastics.

JESSICA: That’s gonna do it for us this week. Remember to watch the NCAA conference championships this weekend, and until next week, I’m Jessica from Masters Gymnastics.

EMMA: I’m Emma, from Moominwhisky Meet.

BLYTHE: And I’m Blythe, from the Gymnastics Examiner.

JESSICA: Thanks for listening. See you guys next week.
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[expand title=”Episode 87: NCAA Regionals, Russian Nationals & Miss Lloimincia Hall is discovered”] Forthcoming [/expand]

 

[expand title=”Episode 88: Rhonda Faehn & Mackenzie Caquatto”]

AD: Gymnastics combine grace with strength, elegance with power, artistry with athleticism. Can they all strive for the same elusive gold? Absolute perfection. Experience it live at the 2014 NCAA women’s gymnastics championships. April 18th through the 20th at the PJCC in Birmingham, Alabama.  Hosted by the Alabama Sports Foundation and the University of Alabama.  Affordable tickets available. Visit ncaa.com/wgymnastics.

EMMA: And then, she moved on to beam and had, like a look of evil in her eyes, and was just like, even Michele commented and said “she is not falling off this.” Because she was like “you tip me off you beam and I will take a match to you” [laughter].

JESSICA: Someone needs to add that choreography into their beam routine.

EMMA: Seriously.

JESSICA: Like lighting the match, lighting the beam on fire, and then you run and dismount!

[LAUGHTER]

[“Express Yourself” – INTRO MUSIC]

JESSICA: This week- British championships, Doha World Cup, and more.

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

This is episode 86 for April 2nd, 2014.  I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.

EMMA: I’m Emma from Moominwhisky Meet.

BLYTHE: And I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner.

JESSICA: This is the best gymnastics podcast ever, bringing you news from around the gymternet.  First I have some very serious news to break to you guys.  In case you didn’t listen to the very end, to the very important song that told you what was really happening in the last episode … this song [singing] April Fools, April Fools, Never [inaudible] are cruel. Now you know, yes, it was in fact an elaborate April Fools Day joke. We hope you guys enjoyed it as much as we did.  There is no eight skill max rule, there’s no deficit rule where the US is gonna start from a five-point deficit from everyone else, there’s no being disqualified if you balk on vault, there’s [chuckle] there’s no getting rid of rhythmic gymnastics in order to have ten man teams. Uhh, yes, so, I hope you guys loved that. Make sure, just in case you’re one of those people that doesn’t listen to the end, that you listen to the end of this episode because we will be announcing our Gymitation contest winners!

We hope you thoroughly enjoyed our April Fools Day episode, and if you appreciated it, John Roethlisberger and Justin Spring taking the time to be on our show, let them know on twitter and of course by tuning in to watch Men’s NCAA Championships on the Big 10 Network.

That was very fun to do. Ok. Let’s discuss, um, first let’s talk about the Doha World Cup before we get to British Championships which is like the main course.  Um, Doha was, I mean, it’s like fun to see who’s out there, but it’s not like a super, super competitive meet, but there were some exciting people to watch. Blythe, what did you think?

BLYTHE: Yeah, no I agree, I mean, you- you get people at the smaller world cups who, you know, if you’re going to compete against the number one, number two people in the world, you’re probably not going to win, but there were some really nice moments in Doha.  The three Armenian men had like the best results ever in Armenian gymnastics.  You had three guys who won pommel horse, rings, and vault.  And I remember especially Arthur Davtyan, the guy who won vault, he went to junior Europeans in 2010 and he did fairly simple gymnastics at that Europeans, which was in Birmingham, and you were there, right Emma?

EMMA: The sad part about Euros in 2010 is that there was an ash cloud-

BLYTHE: Oh yeah.

EMMA: And there was about no spectators. I was about the only one in the crowd-  it was probably about fifty people in the crowd.

BLYTHE: Yeah, yeah, that was an amazing Europeans as well, for that, like the entire Russian men’s team didn’t get there because they had to travel from three different time zones and it was just ridiculous, and I also remember also Fabian Hambuchen saying, somebody asked him how many hours of travel he had to get to Doha, or to get to Birmingham, and he said fifty seven.  [J laughs] And everyone stepped back and said wow.

JESSICA: From Germany! Oh my God he could have walked.

BLYTHE:  And Fabian was like, I know.  But anyway, what I remember , one of the takeaways from that Junior Men’s European Championship was this kid, Davtyan, from Armenia, and he had not difficult gymnastics but everything he did was perfect- like point perfect.  I think he was doing like roundoff back handspring full twist as his last pass on floor exercise, but it was so beautiful and so correct, more correct than anybody else there, that I wondered about this philosophy, if this was Armenian gymnastics and they don’t add difficulty until they can do everything that comes before you add difficulty just spot on. And that’s what I remember and it seems like it’s very true for their program. And I’m very sorry if that was an incredibly long tangent, um, so that’s Armenian gymnastics. You had Epke Zonderland, he tied with Marcel Nguyen for gold on parallel bars and sidebar on that is always that I know he’s got so much high bar credit but I can’t help but think even Epke’s a better gymnast on parallel bars, in a lot of ways.  He has better form, and he’s got these awesome, unique, original and super difficult pirouetting skills, and so it’s nice to see that parallel bars routine getting the credit that it deserves.  And of course he won high bar. You do the sort of release moves that he does, you have the start value that he does, you hit your routine more or less and you don’t bend your legs too much and, you know, you’ll win.

And then of course on the women’s side, Larisa Iordache, she was absolutely fabulous. She hit vault. She hit beam. She hit floor. She won all of that. Kristyna Palesova won uneven bars, and you know, it was also nice because you had the return of Lauren Mitchell who competed on beam and floor and …

JESSICA: Yes! That was a big deal! And people said that she, that they really thought that she looked burnt out before the Olympics and that she looks really fresh now, that she looks invigorated- you can tell.

BLYTHE: Yeah, yeah. Definitely. You watch the video and you get that idea. She has a new floor routine. It’s got some of her signature choreography in it.  And she just looks relaxed, and certainly the impression that she gave at the Olympics was not terribly relaxed.

EMMA: I agree.

BLYTHE: It’s true.

JESSICA: I was just happy to see in the last couple weeks, Olivia Vivian and all the Australians have been released from Aussie-

EMMA: Thank goodness!

JESSICA: Yes, gymnastics jail.

EMMA: Gymnastics Jail…

JESSICA: Yes, and Olivia Vivian- I never remembered her in Australia but I remember her at Oregon doing college gymnastics and I loved her. Her bars are amazing and I’ve been watching her videos, so I don’t understand the score she was given.  They made no sense to me because her bars are perfect. But then again I haven’t actually watched the routine so maybe she fell like three times [laughter] but-

I’m adding an editor’s note right here because I listened back on this and was like oh my God I didn’t mention the important guys, Uncle Tim’s gonna kill me if this isn’t in the show. So I’m going to give a special shout out to Paul Ruggeri who killed it at Doha. He did a great job. He came in second on floor with a 15.1 behind the Prince of Japan, on high bar he came in, he got the silver behind Epke, and, with a 15.3.  He also winked and waved at the camera when he was in the little seats they have, that was like a kiss and cry area but it was like fancier chairs because, you know, it’s Qutar. They’re the next Dubai. [end of edit]

JESSICA: Umm I’m glad to see her back and all of them.  Ok. Let’s discuss British Championships! I’m so excited! I love the British Championships because you know…

EMMA: Oh my God.

JESSICA: British gymnastics.

EMMA: They’re so good.

JESSICA: Yeah and they’re always known for putting on these events, you know? Like real events.  They do such innovative competitions. So, they did so many things. So tell us about how they, like, jazzed it up this year.

EMMA: Well, considering, you know I went to worlds and London and the Olympics and blah blah blah, and every competition with Great Britain, this one was like really special because at the start they have this really dramatic music and they switched all the lights out, and it was like the start of the X Factor. And they got, everybody marched out onto a stage and announced to the crowd. It was amazing!  And it was like a proper occasion, it was like the Queen was in the house.

JESSICA: And I love how they had the disability competitors come out and compete during finals with the elites, or the masters as you call them.

EMMA: That, yes, that was really good.

JESSICA: So cool!  I like that they have, I mean, I just think the British gymnastics does a great job. They have their whole app where you can watch stuff live, and you can see the live scores,

EMMA: Yeah

JESSICA: and they have their magazine for free, and they had the whole thing streaming live, and it’s archived so you can watch it, and they had Katy Steel doing commentary.

EMMA: Yep.

JESSICA: Who, sometimes listens to the show, so I was very excited to hear her, and um, you guys know we have this, um, Gymcastic gymmitation contest going on which the awards will be announced.

EMMA: Yes I entered it!

JESSICA: Yeah that’s right! And the show is, and so we’re going to announce the winners today,  on this show [woohoo!] and um I love that she did the imitation that Lauren Hopkins from The Couch Gymnast did an imitation of Nastia and all of her stuff out  commentating, and then Katy Steel did as well, oh my God.  And I just like, she’s very positive, um, while being critical. I think she did a good job with that. Like, she’ll say, you know, this gymnast could do with a little more expression, which I think is much more positive than the way I always say it which is always like [louder] she has dead eyes! Like there’s nothing there! You know, [laughter], so I enjoyed listening to her commentary.  So tell us why a couple of our favorites were missing. So where was Ellie Downie? We were excited to see her.

EMMA: Well,  I ran into Ellie in the stands, well, when I was stalking, umm, and she told me that she had landed on straight legs from her Patterson dismount in training.

JESSICA: Oof.

EMMA: And that they told her she needed a couple of days rest. So I told her you must be really gutted about that, and she yes I am. Because that girl has fire. She’s just, she’s like raring to go.

JESSICA: And that dismount looks so easy for her, honestly, she like walks into it.

EMMA: Yeah.

JESSICA: It’s amazing how, and she’s not like a short little thing either, you know? She’s like a normal…

EMMA: She isn’t! I was actually shocked that she’s quite a bit taller than her sister, so yeah I thought they were around the same.

JESSICA: So what happened with Lisa Mason? She’s…we’ve talked to her…

EMMA: Lisa Mason, I met her after and she’s great. She’s really fun. She’s really great. But she said to me that she had her foot taped up and she said that she hurt her foot and they told her to kind of not compete but she said she was going to anyway.

JESSICA: Oof.

EMMA: And then on event final day she had to withdraw because her foot was like elephant foot, and it was huge and black. So she had to withdraw from event finals, but that girl’s got some good skills going on, like both myself and Michelle, we commented on bars, she had like proper pointed toes. You know, she did a nice floor routine. You know, she deserved to be there, you know, it’s not like she just turned up and it’s a bit of a joke. She’s like, she’s fierce.

JESSICA: She’s definitely fierce. And I really like her bars. I think it’s one of her stronger events because of her form, which, there was a lot of form which was like ouhh.  So, the other person which we were so excited was Louis Smith, and he said that his goal was to um, get to the Commonwealth Games, so based on his performance here, how realistic do you think that is?

EMMA: Oooh, he’s on the cusp.  If you think, for the Commonwealths, that the GB team will get split, so that, the two Dans compete for Scotland, so then England you’ve got Max and Sam and a whole other bunch of guys whose names escape me at the moment.

JESSICA: Christian Thomas.

EMMA: But Louis is right on the cusp. Yes, Christian, he’s right on the cusp really because if you think Max can do pommels, and he’s great, and the other guys can as well, so I would say he’s kind of teetering on the outer section. He needs to pull a few more hits out of the bag I think before he would be on that team. He’s on the cusp I would say.

JESSICA: So speaking of hits and Scotland and everyone going to their respective countries for Commonwealth Games, is it Rebecca Tunney who, or is it Amy Tinkler, who, hits a golf ball in her routine? Oh no, it’s little Grindle. Did you guys notice that?

EMMA: Teal.

JESSICA: Teal, yes.

EMMA: Teal.

JESSICA: One of the adorable names, right? Is she golfing? [laughter]

EMMA: I don’t know.

JESSICA: There’s a part where she holds her hands up, and then it totally looks like a golf- I mean it can’t be baseball right, so it’s gotta be – Ive’ decided she golfs.

EMMA: I’ll need to check it out.

JESSICA: I’ve decided she golfs. I don’t know.

EMMA: I didn’t go to the Junior competition so I’ll have to check the video out. But have you noticed that nearly every time she competes she wears teal as well?

BLYTHE: Aww that’s cute.

[laughter]

BLYTHE: I love it.

JESSICA: Her little interview after – I love British Gymnastics for doing this- they didn’t cut the pre interview out so, she’s like “Don’t ask me anything hard!”

EMMA: She’s so cute.

[laughter]

JESSICA: She’s adorable, I love how we can see her personality. She’s looking at the guy like “I’m serious, I will cut you dude, don’t ask me anything hard.”

[laughter]

EMMA: I’ll tell you something that you do notice about British Gymnastics is that they are one great big happy family ‘cause it’s such a joyous event and everyone loves each other. And if you look on people’s instagrams and twitters, all the team selfies that have been posted and all the love for each other- it’s great, and it’s really evident.

JESSICA: It is! And the other thing I was noticing is when they talked about their- when they did their post meet interviews, they were so positive. I was shocked. At least the women, I didn’t listen, I didn’t watch all the guys, but the women were really positive, like “oh you know I fell, I was a little off, but I went for it anyway. You know, it happens some times, but, you know we’ll get it next time and I’d like to go to duh duh duh and win a medal” and I wonder if- so Blythe, this is what I want to ask you about. Do you think this is indicative of why the British gymnasts seem to have more longevity than some of the more competitive countries I would say, or do you think it’s kind of the attitude of “it’s enough to just make it to this level” and there isn’t this super drive to win win win and be the best? Or is it just being kind of healthy and realistic?

BLYTHE: Oh, that’s difficult. And I’d like to answer the question by sharing a story from Mitch Fenner.

JESSICA: The great Mitch Fenner.

EMMA: Oooh.

BLYTHE: The great Mitch Fenner.

EMMA: I love Mitch Fenner.

B: You know, and Mitch Fenner loves gymnastics. And one thing that he said during the London games in 2012. God, I hope I don’t get in trouble for telling this story, but he said “I really like the American guys” he said, “because you got a kid like Jonathan Horton, and it is so evident that he would cut off his leg to be the best and to be on the floor and you know he just wants it so badly.”  And he said, “and Britain, we don’t have guys like that. We have plenty of really nice gymnasts, especially the last few years, starting with Louis Smith and Dan Keatings, and snowballing. And they had a fantastic team that had a fantastic accomplishment. But Mitch’s critique was that we just don’t have guys who are gritty like some of the American guys.  And maybe I’m partisan for saying that, because I’m obviously not British, but that was Mitch’s comments. And that might have something to do with it, but British gymnastics still seems to me very young in a way.

JESSICA: Yeah.

BLYTHE: They are a fantastic program, but frankly they have only been that team and that program for the last 5, 6 years.

JESSICA: Yeah.

EMMA: I agree.

BLYTHE: And you have Many of the people who established that, that generation is still around. Someone like Daniel Purvis or Daniel Keatings, and it’s not that there aren’t great guys coming up. There are. You look at Nile Thompson. You look at Brinn Bevan.  You look at, oh I’m sorry, Nile Wilson. Nile Wilson and Jay Thomson and Brinn Bevan, and they are going to, if they’re not already, really start pushing sort of, they’re the Dan Purvises of the world. So it’s going to be very interesting in 2 years, who makes the Olympic Team and who doesn’t. I think we’ll see some surprises. But also, the guys just seem to have a really good, well rounded training program.  They’re not really injured, certainly not as much as some. They’re not always going in for a surgery, and they just look very well conditioned and very very well trained.  Props to their coaches. And for all those reasons, all this adds up to longevity, but I think they also realize they’re really part of something special here. And when you realize that, and you love your sport, and you do want to do your sport, why would you ever want to stop?

JESSICA: An excellent assessment.

BLYTHE: Exactly.

EMMA: Can I talk about a couple of the other guys?

JESSICA: Yes! I want to ask you about the other guys like Dan Keatings and..

EMMA: I feel like they need a mention.

JESSICA: Yes, yes.

EMMA: Well Dan Keatings was absolutely on fire, and he won bronze in the all-around, he won p-bars gold, and he won pommel gold, so he was absolutely on fire.  And it’s the first time I’ve seen him do All-Arounds since 2009 Worlds, and he was great. So if you watched his story on The Hard Way to Success, you’ll know how devastated he was on not making the Olympic team, and then he came back in Antwerp and then he fell on pommels.  It was just heartbreaking, so yay for Dan!  Also there’s a guy called Courtney Tulloch, he is really good as well. He just had, he’s just kind of like just below the Dans and the Maxs and everybody, but have a lookout for some of his videos because he’s really great. And also Reiss Beckford. Now Reiss has been competing for quite a while and he goes to the same club as Max and Brinn Bevan and he has the best toes of any man in any country.

JESSICA: What?!

EMMA: You watch him, you look at his toes, you watch him do parallel bars, you look at his toes. The guy has style.  He is just lovely to watch. But sadly he had a couple of mishaps, but he is lovely.  And also my new favorite guy. You must have a lookout for him. His name is Dom Cunningham and he competes just down the road from me in Birmingham, and he won silver on floor I think, and silver on vault, and he is the nicest guy.  I met him afterwards and he’s just an absolute doll.  So, big shout out to Dom and I hope he’s chosen because I was literally going around every single gymnast going “listen to Gymcastic! Listen to Gymcastic! We’ll give you a shout out!” [JESSICA giggles] so…

JESSICA: Awesome!

EMMA: So yeah, shout out to Dom!

JESSICA: I watched him during the vault finals and of course, ‘cause I was watching to see my man Christian Thomas.

EMMA: Christian.

JESSICA:  and his legs, and ugh, a lot of people just looked really tired or they just looked like, I don’t know if it was like they were tired, or if it was the pressure, but it was like a splat fest, seriously, and a lot of people I was like “oh my God please don’t let them be hurt, and it was just off, like the whole vault finals was a little bit off, but Dom killed it! I was like “oh man, everybody better be watching their back.”

EMMA: He’s great.

JESSICA: Yeah, Dom was doing hard vaults and yeah, he’s pretty bad ass so everybody better watch out. And speaking of bad ass, let’s talk about our little Ruby Harrold, who we just love, love, love on this show. We’ve been talking about her for a long time, she was wearing her bumblebee leotard, she’s going to LSU, she’s just, you know how much we love her bars, but ooh, rough meet, it was a little bit of a rough meet for her.

EMMA: She had a not very good time on bars at all.  She had a couple of, I don’t know if she had 2 or 3 falls because I was trying to film it and I kept buffering out with my ipad, but she fell twice that I saw, and then she moved onto beam and she had this look of evil in her eyes and she was just like- even Michelle commented on it and said “she is not falling off this” because she was like “you tip me off you beam, and I will take a   to you.”

[laughter]

JESSICA: Someone needs to add that choreography into their beam routine.

EMMA: Seriously.

JESSICA: Like lighting the match, lighting the beam on fire, and then you run and dismount!

[laughter]

EMMA: She would have lit the bloomin’ thing on fire because she was not falling off it. And then her floor was really good, her vault was really good, but the bars just had the better of her, which was such a shame because she should be at bar final, and it would have been better had she been in it.

JESSICA: Also on floor, you know, she looked really determined, she looked good.

EMMA: Yeah.

JESSICA: She just seemed like she was- in floor finals she had 2 falls, and it was weird because it didn’t seem like she didn’t have the power or was worn out.

BLYTHE: Yeah

JESSICA: Maybe it was just, I don’t know what it was, but it was unfortunate because I just love watching her, and I love that she wore yellow. She totally stood out.

EMMA: I did have a little chat with her after and she wasn’t, she was lovely and she signed my pictures and stuff, but she wasn’t particularly happy with her all-around, but, you know, it was the bars, and everything else was good. But I guess she’s known for the bars more than other stuff so I guess she wanted to smash it.

JESSICA: Yes, she’s a little competitor. She’ll be pissed for a little while that she didn’t.

EMMA: Oh yeah, she is. When she goes to college she’s going to be crazy mad.

JESSICA: Ha! Crazy Mad!

EMMA: No she is, if you think the British, we’re always calm over here, and once she gets to the WOAH!!! YOU’RE GONNA GET A TEN!!! She’s gonna be like- she’s gonna lap that up!

JESSICA: That’s totally true.  [laughter] Oh, beam finals. We must mention two people. So Kelly Simm who does a standing front tuck, which, HELLO, is the craziest thing ever, and then, my favorite, Laura Mitchell, who, she’s really making a name for herself this year.

EMMA: Oh yeah.

JESSICA: She has pizzazz and a presence and lights it up.

EMMA: She does- and can we just stop for a second and can we give a shout to anybody in America who wants a new firecracker on their team. Come and get Laura, because she needs to go to America.

JESSICA: NCAA coaches, that is a call to all of you. A call to action! Yes.

EMMA: Get on YouTube and look up her beam video and her floor video. She needs to go to America.

JESSICA: She’s made for NCAA. She’s one of the Heathrow Honeys.

EMMA: She is.  She is.

JESSICA: And she does that crazy beam mount where she does a back dive to a chest stand and she holds on with her biceps,

EMMA: That’s right.

JESSICA: It’s, ugh, I love her on beam.

EMMA: It’s crazy. I don’t know if you saw, she posted on Instagram quite a while ago, her practicing that mount. And there was about ten where she just fell off or splatted.

JESSICA: Yes! Oh my God. Terrifying!

EMMA:  It’s  so funny.

JESSICA: I mean, that mount is so scary! Because if you’re too close, you’ll literally knock yourself out. That’s it. You’re gonna be cold, on the ground. And if you, if she crashes on that, that’s the thing- she just learned it. I mean, she learned it a couple months ago, and it’s solid enough that she’s doing it in her meets, so I love her.

EMMA: Well do you want to know another thing I found out? I was talking to Lisa Mason, and she had told me that she had only done her beam combination for two weeks, and she choreographed her own floor routine.

JESSICA: That Laura did?

EMMA: No Lisa.

JESSICA: Oh Lisa choreographed her own.

EMMA: Choreographed her own, yeah…and she’d only done her beam for two weeks.

JESSICA: [whispers] Oh my God.

JESSICA: I mean, she talks about, she’s jokes on Twitter and stuff about the Mason genes, but honestly, she is a genetic freak.

EMMA: She is.

JESSICA: Her kid taught herself a double back.

EMMA: Seriously.

JESSICA: Who teaches themselves a double back? People don’t do that.

EMMA: I don’t know.

JESSICA: That’s not normal.

EMMA: And she’s, oh my God, she’s like so fricken pretty, and tall and beautiful.  She’s a freakin’ swan. She’s more of a swan than the Belarusian freakin swan.

JESSICA: Oooh take that!  All of Russia is gonna be emailing in now.

BLYTHE: That is quite the statement, Emma.

[laughter]

JESSICA: We’re gonna incite a riot. [laughter]  With that, let’s talk about the little, Katie Steel called her the “Pocket Rocket.”  That has other meanings, so I’m not going to use that when I talk about Claudia Fragapane.  I’m just gonna call her.

EMMA: I will tell you who she is.  She’s the love child of Gervasio Deferr and Chellsie Memmel [inaudible] in a bun if that’s possible.

JESSICA: That’s perfect.

EMMA: It is perfect!

JESSICA: She’s a little pocket Hercules.

EMMA: She’s so small as well.

JESSICA: She’s tiny!

EMMA: I met her after and I was like “oh my God! You’re smaller than Simone Biles!” She is tiny!  But she’s all fire.

JESSICA: Yeah she’s…

EMMA: She’s so good.

JESSICA: It looked like it was a little rough, like her form wasn’t up to her normal standards.  I think she normally has a little better form. Like she had flexed feet a lot on beam, even though her beam is crazy.  She doesn’t even have to jump, she just twitches her eyelids and she goes up 24 feet in the air. And she was out of bounds a lot on floor, but she did her double, she did her full twisting double layout on floor.

BLYTHE: What!?

EMMA: She did it as if she was like doing a little single back, she was that good.

JESSICA: She’s awesome, her power, it seems like she just needs to learn to control her power when she’s in a meet and when she’s excited and has that atmosphere around her, because clearly the skills are not hard.

EMMA: I honestly believe that it was her and a couple of others who just maybe they found that occasion just a little too much, because it was pizzazzed up, and she did say after the meet on the British Gymnastics YouTube that she was really quite nervous, so maybe that was the reason.

JESSICA: Sure.  And let’s talk about one of the veterans that we’ve known forever, Hannah Whelan.  She, I love what she does on floor and Princess Catherine of Europa does this too, before she starts her floor routine, she does a choreographed part into her starting pose, and then holds the position.  WHAT?!

EMMA: Oh! I love that! I love that, just look at me and stop what you’re doing now. It’s just, oh it’s just perfect.  I think, was it Daria Joura that started all that caper?

JESSICA: It probably was. Daria Joura is just the greatest, you know.

BLYTHE: She is.

JESSICA: Yeah. And an epic performer. Truly, a swan.

[laughter]

JESSICA: Hannah Whelan has really become a good performer.   I never really noticed her before.

B: She has.

JESSICA: She’s really doing- and so many- and I think that’s why we like talking about the British Gymnasts so much, you know they’re having this- British Gymnastics is definitely having a Renaissance, and, or it might be a first Renaissance kind of,  but it’s

EMMA: I think it’s the first.

JESSICA: Yeah [laughter] Who has a Renaissance for the first time? But they are really embracing the artistic side, even though they’re doing these difficult things.  They’re definitely keeping to the roots of the sport and you can really see it from the men to the women to the juniors.  Oh my God the junior girls on floor! I was like, these are like NCAA routines! I mean little Tinkler, she’s like staring down the judges  and smiling at them and giggling at them, oh my God. Love her.

EMMA: Jess, you must know Miss Val and these people. Get them over here! Get them over here! Like get them

JESSICA: I’ll just call everyone up.

EMMA: You call them all up. You’ve got contacts.

JESSICA: I honestly think that there should be a recruitables meet in Britain somewhere, or there is a recruitables meet in the US, I think it’s in the summertime and I think it’s in Oklahoma. I think IG has something to do with it.

BLYTHE: Ohh.

JESSICA: And all these British gymnasts should get together and come to this meet and just show- you don’t even have to do your hardest stuff, just do super clean gymnastics. You know, throw one of your hardest skills, you don’t have to do these elite, you know, 15 tumbling passes. But it’s so fun and you guys would love it, and the college coaches go to those meets, so, or if you want to do it, send them your videos. You know, make them aware of you because we would LOVE to have all of you come to the US, and just have fun and do more gymnastics and experience having all these people screaming for you. Ugh I would love that.  So Blythe, I think you watched this, The Hard Way to Success, which is a program out of the Netherlands that’s doing these fantastic documentaries on gymnasts, now they’re really expanding to international gymnasts, not just gymnasts in the Netherlands. The quality is so good, it’s so professional, I love.

EMMA: It’s so good.

JESSICA: Oh my God.

EMMA: Can you actually get through an episode of that without tissues, because I can’t.

JESSICA: [laughs] Just by the name, um, right, the hard way.

EMMA: It’s that music! As soon as the music kicks in I’m gone!

JESSICA: [laughs] Totally! Blythe, did you watch this one on Luke Carson who competed this weekend?

BLYTHE: Yes, and it was excellent. I thought it was the best one they’ve done, and that’s really saying something because all of them are just wonderful- wonderful to watch. As Emma said, the quality is exceptional.  The interviews are great, and you get to see training footage, which is what we all really want to see. The lighting actually is really really good, and it’s been very well shot. And yeah, I can’t say enough good things about this series. Google The Hard Way to Success, go on their website, watch the videos. It’s excellent.

JESSICA: And Luke Carson competed this weekend.  So he’s the guy, remember, he’s in Ireland, and he competed, oh he must be in Northern Ireland, so he’s not in Ireland, he’s in Northern Ireland, and he competed.

EMMA: He trains with Louis Smith and Dan Keatings at Huntingdon.

JESSICA: And he’s the guy who had, like a compound fracture and then a couple years later, was it like last year around this time?

EMMA: No, he had this massive injury to his leg, and then exactly a year to the day, he smashed his leg into like a million pieces.  So how the guy can even walk is just beyond me.

JESSICA: And it was the craziest injury because he was just-

EMMA:  Yeah.

JESSICA: Vaulting, and it wasn’t the landing, it was when he jumped on the board that it happened.

EMMA: Yeah, yeah.

JESSICA: Ugh, so the fact that he’s back is just incredible. And he did well this weekend, right?

EMMA: He did. The guy’s a legend! I think if you haven’t watched it, please, just stop your business. Stop work. Go home immediately and watch it. [J laughs]  Because to be able to come back from two, I mean as well, he was talking about qualifying for the Olympic games. He went out and did qualifying, and they gave the spot to Kieran Behan.  He didn’t even make the team. And yet, the guy comes back from another injury and up to the level he’s at now, when the doctor said you may not even walk. He’s phenomenal. I can’t say enough good things about him.

JESSICA: Yeah, super inspiring.  When you have your coach and you have kids who have a rip and are like “I can’t work out today”, just sit them down and make them hold a push up position and watch the entire episode.

EMMA:  Yeah.  When you’re having a crap day, watch the Luke Carson episode and the Brinn Bevan episode and your day will not be as bad as you think.

JESSICA: Ok, can we talk about [squeals] Brinn Bevan! He’s so little! He’s like a little tiny Jonathan Horton.  He’s so cute! And I know he’s a grown man, so I don’t mean this to be that I don’t see him as a virile and handsome adult man, but how cute is he?!  He’s just a little thing!

EMMA: Aw he’s lovely. He’s lovely. And he’s great as well.

JESSICA: Yeah I’m excited to see what is gonna happen for him in the future.  And we talked a little bit about bars when we were talking about Ruby Harrold Not having a great time, but the person that stole the show who we were not, or at least I wasn’t expecting, you guys may have been expecting…

EMMA: Miss Twiglet herself.

JESSICA: What?! I literally yelled “holy shit!” while I was watching this routine.  I was just like “WHAT?! WHAT?!” at like the third connection she did.

EMMA: I think Twitter blew up. It’s like how is that even humanly possible?

JESSICA: And when she dismounts.

EMMA: No but she does it like it’s nothing!

JESSICA: And when she dismounts, she sticks her tongue out of the side of her mouth like you know when a dog is super tired they’re like “uhhh” like YES that was as hard as it looked! Thanks you guys, I’m gonna go take a nap. [laughter] So she does a toe-on piked tkatchev to immediate bhardwaj, so a full twisting pak. Then she does a toe-on shaposh, to a pak, to an immediate stalder shaposh half.  And then she stalder full to immediate half in half out. I mean, everything’s connected. It’s like exactly like it’s the Tweddle effect, you know? Exactly what we want to see.

EMMA: Yeah. Well she trains in Liverpool, which is where Tweddle used to train, so you know they’ve got some good coaches there.

JESSICA: Now while we’re talking about her though, we have to discuss the hair fashion that’s going on at British Championships. [EMMA laughs] OK, now you know how I feel about scrunchies, they’re hideously ugly but they work really well actually, which is why we can’t get rid of them.

EMMA: But Jess I know where you’re going. You’re going on this double scrunchie giant bun trip, aren’t you?

JESSICA: Yes. And they’re not scrunchied, they’re just set there- like a pancake with a hole in it.

EMMA: But at least it’s perfection, it’s not like you know, that…

JESSICA: Bed head?

EMMA: post-sex hair of the USA team with theirs scrunched up like “I’ve just rolled in a bush” hair. [JESSICA laughs]  You know, yeah it’s a

JESSICA: I just crawled to the meet through a jungle? Yeah. I give you that, you are correct.

EMMA: You know since the Americans did that hair in London, all the Italians are copying it.

JESSICA: Ugh.

EMMA: And a lot of the British girls were copying it.

JESSICA: Ugh.

EMMA: And I’m like no, don’t start that over here.  You know, nice tidy bun, but admittedly, like, I mean Rebecca Tunney has a long, long hair, like all the way down her back. She has long hair. So she puts it in a bun, and then she puts one of those bun donut things as well. It’s like the size of the moon for God’s sake.

JESSICA: It is, and it is perfect I have to say. And her bun is, you could put it in the dictionary for whatever, for those bun donut things- that’s what it’s supposed to look like [EMMA laughs] Like there’s no messy in it. She couldn’t wear that at NCAA.  All her teammates would be like “God, your hair’s perfect. Stop it right now! We have to get a rat’s nest going on in there, and some ribbons.” But it does…

EMMA: And then you’ve got little Ruby and Catherine Lyons and the little ringlets, and they look pretty.

JESSICA: Ok, but this is the thing. I mean, the ringlets are totally adorable, but I have to say that the shininess of the scrunchies, and they’re not being scrunchied up, kind of looks like some booty shorts from some gay pride parade fell or flung into her hair [EMMA laughs], like it’s too shiny. Like this is the problem.  Like a different material, like just a black scrunchie or something would be ok.  I mean, in case anyone was wondering.

EMMA: I think, I was a huge fan of when Shawn Johnson was trying to bring ribbons back, you know?

JESSICA: Yeah.

EMMA: I like pretty and simple. I’m not into overkill, but scrunchies aren’t that offensive.  It’s not like the Shannon Miller ruffles of the past.

JESSICA: Oh no, those were a bit much. I just think like you shouldn’t notice it.

EMMA: Yeah.

JESSICA: You shouldn’t notice it. But then again, when Peng Peng from Canada wore her flower in her hair, I was like “this is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.”

EMMA: That’s- it was, it was beautiful.  What about Shantessa Pama with her bits of rope? I mean, they were pretty.

JESSICA: Uh, yarn? I mean you can’t do yarn wrong. If they did it in the Soviet Union then you can do it forever, yes. [E laughs]  Those are the rules.

EMMA: Let’s-can we just talk about Princess Catherine because…

JESSICA: Can we just!? My God! We haven’t talked this whole time.

EMMA: She was just wearing this silver, like no one in the world could wear a silver leo with all the cutouts and crazy going on it.

JESSICA: No.

EMMA: But she looked amazing!

JESSICA: It did, that leo was-

EMMA: She looked freaking regal! She is a princess.

JESSICA: She is, and you can tell because it was a royal leotard. It looked like it was in a crown, a crown translated.

EMMA: The Queen’s tailor made that.  I’m telling you.

JESSICA: It was weird because, you know what, I really liked the leo, and then when it was up close I was like “oh my God it looked like a space suit from Aliens, like what is going on in the back of that?” But it was beautiful! She’s just, I don’t know. She’s, like I said, she could just get up there in her leo and burp and I would be like “it’s perfect! Give her a ten!” So, and of course she did a fantastic job, she took second or third? This is terrible when, you know, the meet-

EMMA: In the all-around I believe she was third.

JESSICA: Yes.

EMMA: Because Amy was first, Amy Tinkler, Teal was second, and Catherine was third.

JESSICA: There we go.

EMMA: I believe she won the floor exercise.

JESSICA: Of course, because unless there was like an earthquake and someone pushed her off, of course she was gonna win. For crying out loud.

EMMA: Yeah, exactly. That floor routine is exquisite.

JESSICA: [whispers] And it’s so quiet and powerful.  Um, Blythe, you’ve been very quiet on the subject of Princess Catherine of Europa, what are your thoughts on her, how she’s gonna do in the future with this, she only has one more year I think of being a Junior and how she did in this meet?

BLYTHE: I think it’s too early to tell.  And I think the competition in Great Britain right now is extremely tough.  She is not a gymnast like Amy Tinkler or Teal Grindle, or Tyesha Mattis, or even Ellie Downie. She is, umm, the Kyla Ross of the group, shall we say.  She has elegance, she has artistry, she has incredible lines.  And added to that she really does have some amazing skills.  She’s working on a full twisting geinger, you know, on uneven bars.  She has a gorgeous beam routine.  Where she’s going to, if she wants to be an all around gymnast, she’s going to have to up her difficulty on vault a little bit- and I think she can do it.  But she’s going to have to do it in the next couple of years, or else she’s maybe kind of looking at being a bars/beam specialist.  But she’s really shaken things up, I think, in Britain, where, for so many years there wasn’t expressive choreography.  Yeah she’s nothing but expressive and she just oozes artistry, and you have to love that.  So that’s kind of my thought up to this point, she has competed in, not the junior- what’s the level below junior?

EMMA: Espoir.

BLYTHE: Espoir! Yes. She’s competed in the British Espoir and she’s really dominated. And she’s doing quite well in the juniors and I think we’ll see. She’s got one more year of being a junior and then she’ll be a senior? So she’ll be a senior just in time for Rio?

Woohoo!

BLYTHE: And we’ll see.

JESSICA: If you guys are picking your teams for Commonwealth Games and Europeans, which is what the British Championships served as trials for, who would you put on your European team right now? ‘Cuz I think Europeans is going to be the more competitive one.

EMMA: Ooh, I would say Hannah, Beckie, Rebecca Tunney. Am I allowed five?

JESSICA: Yes.

EMMA: Ruby, and who’s my other one? Ugh I can’t think!

JESSICA: Can you put juniors on the team, or does it have to be all seniors?

EMMA: No ‘cuz there’s a separate juniors, so juniors I would go for Teal, and Amy, and Ellie, and, oh God, Catherine?

BLYTHE: Catherine.

EMMA: Am I allowed Catherine?

JESSICA: Yes.

EMMA: And maybe Tyesha as well. That’s five isn’t it?  God, my seniors! I’ve forgot every single senior. Umm…

BLYTHE: Raer Theaker?

EMMA: Ooh! Well you’ve got Claudia! I mean, she’s a possibility. I think the senior team is gonna be a tough call because you’ve got Ruby who’s excellent, but had quite a lackluster British, so, hmm, you know, and then Claudia was third all-around, so it’s quite tricky.

JESSICA: Before I ask you this question, Blythe, we totally forgot to talk about Becky Downie’s beam, which, talk about redemption right? Ohmygosh, so she does her all-around competition, and all of us are just cringing like “nooo not again! Why does this always happen to her?”  She falls on her double pike dismount, which is just like ARGH. So then she goes and does her finals routine for beam, and she’s up way in the beginning, because of course she fell in prelims, and her routine is so good! My God!  She does aerial layout as her series, and normally people do aerial layout and their amplitude is just a straight line.  You can draw a straight line from where their head is, right across the beam, right?  Not when she does it.  You have to draw a mountain, and then diagonal down to the beam, and then another mountainous line.  She has amplitude live I’ve never seen on that series.  I didn’t know you could actually do it with that much amplitude which is what makes me think everyone else should have gotten more of a deduction for no amplitude when they do that series.  And she almost stuck her double pike dismount, it was like “YES SHE’S BACK FOR REAL!” Oh my God I was so happy for her- so happy for her, and she wore a pink leotard. I loved how she has a pink leotard for everything.

EMMA: Yeah. Did you see her floor routine? It was lovely.

JESSICA: I didn’t. I haven’t gotten that far yet, I’m still watching everything.

EMMA: Oh, right.  Get on my YouTube channel because I video’ed it.  It’s good.

JESSICA: Ooh, excellent.

EMMA: It’s good, it’s lovely- nice music, nice choreography, lovely.

JESSICA: So Blythe, who would you pick?

BLYTHE: Uhh, seniors? Juniors? Men? Women?

JUDE: Let’s go with seniors, men and women.

EMMA: Do, yes, do that.

BLYTHE: And you get five or do you get six?

EMMA: You get five I think.

BLYTHE: Seniors men and women. Well, senior men, alright, umm, Whitlock, obviously.

EMMA: Yeah.

BLYTHE: Purvis, obviously.

EMMA: Sam.

BLYTHE: Keatings.

EMMA: What about Sam? Yeah.

BLYTHE: Kristian Thomas.

EMMA: Yup.

BLYTHE: Annnnd…

EMMA: Sam Oldham?

BLYTHE: Sam Oldham or Frank Baines.

EMMA/JESSICA: Oooohh.

BLYTHE: Frankly, if I could take Nile Wilson, at this point I would take Nile Wilson over both of them.

EMMA: Well can’t he compete on the juniors? Can’t he compete on the juniors?

BLYTHE: I think he will have to compete with the juniors.  He’s how old now? Seventeen?

EMMA: I’m not sure.

BLYTHE: He might be one year away from being able to compete senior. Although, you know they have seventeen-year-old worlds, so…

EMMA: Interestingly, Blythe, you didn’t pick Louis Smith.

BLYTHE: Uhh, for Euros?

EMMA: Yeah.

BLYTHE: Sorry, no. He’s a one event gymnast and Britain; pommel horse is their best event.  No.

EMMA: Yup.

BLYTHE: You know, he got snowed by Dan, and you know, Sam Oldham is not bad on pommel horse either.  Max Whitlock is, well, scores very well.  With all the respect in the world to Louis Smith, they don’t need him.  Commonwealths…

EMMA: I do think it’s gonna be, I do think he’s gonna have a really tough time trying to get on the Commonwealth team.  I really do.

BLYTHE: Well Commonwealths would be a little bit different because you will have Dan Purvis and Dan Keatings who go to Scotland, Frank will go to Scotland.

EMMA: Yeah but you’ve got a million other all-arounders snapping for those places.

BLYTHE: Yeah, and, it does give you more options. I think that Louis could sneak onto the team for Commonwealths.  And there is something to be said for his personality, for his leadership skills, he’s a wonderful man to have on the floor with the team.

EMMA: Yeah he did get the biggest cheers.  Yeah, he did get the biggest cheers.

BLYTHE: Yeah, so, right, but in terms of sheer gymnastics, and his pommel horse is amongst the best in Britain and in the world.  I think maybe right now Dan Keatings is stronger than him.  Max Whitlock may be stronger than him, but, you know, it’s still a world-class routine, and it would still, you know, be great.  But again, he’s a one-event gymnast.  And that’s why, and Britain has tons of depth right now.  There is no reason to take a one-event gymnast.

JESSICA: And that’s why Azerbaijan is going to snap them up!

BLYTHE: Even if, you know-

EMMA: [laughs] YES! Louis for Azerbaijan!

BLYTHE: Azerbaijan is about to have a line out the door with people wanting to sign up with them.

[laughter]

JESSICA: I mean those hotels! Where they live! The gym! I’ve never seen anything like it! It’s just beautiful!

EMMA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

BLYTHE: Yes!  And they’re constructing a national arena.  There’s an article in the press every week or so that we’re doing this! We’re doing this! And so that’s really cool. It’s gonna be really interesting to see-

EMMA: Well they stolen, oh, like Stepko now haven’t they from the Ukraine?

JESSICA/BLYTHE: Yep.

JESSICA: He’s there.

BLYTHE: And that’s a really, uh, how do you want to put it, a prized fish, or whatever.

JESSICA: Yeah! [laughs] A prized fish!

EMMA: He’s an…

JESSICA: Is that a Swiss phrase? Ooh look at him, he’s a prized fish.

EMMA: He’s an orange, what are those orange fish people pay hundred for?  The Koy of gymnastics .

BLYTHE: Because, unlike Anna Pavlova, unlike Yulia Inshina, no offense to either of them, their best days are behind them.  And we love- and I’m sorry that’s true.

EMMA: It’s true.

BLYTHE: And we are delighted to see them in international competitions, on the international stage, but, their best days are behind them.

EMMA: That’s very true.

BLYTHE: I’m sorry to say it but it is the truth.  Oleg Stepko’s best days are not behind him.  I mean, when Oleg was seventeen, in 2010, he went to the World Championships, and he was this little guy, on this big Ukrainian team, and his potential was just so obvious. It was like there is a walking future world champion.  No question.  And I still believe that.  So he’s going to do, as long as he, you know, doesn’t blow out a knee or anything, go and knock on wood, he’s gonna do wonderful things for this program.  The question is, is Azerbaijan going to be able to sustain this? What kind of infrastructure do they have in place for sort of home-growing their own gymnasts if they don’t want to keep signing from Russia and signing from Ukraine, which, they could do, you know? And then the next years we’ll probably see quite a lot more of that. But then, you know, there’s the question of are they establishing a national training center? Are they picking out kids when they’re five, six, seven years old? Are they brining in a national coach who can really develop the program?  Something like what Qatar has done with Razvan Selariu.  And what other countries are beginning to do as well.  So it’s a question for them.  But right now it is a really exciting time, just because, you know, we all love these gymnasts so much and we want to see more of them.  But yeah, Stepko is different because he is the prized fish, you know?

JESSICA: [laughs] They’re gonna put him on the wall after! And I mean, this is the thing that, it’s so interesting, that you bring up this kind of, what will sustain?  I mean as long as oil doesn’t run out in Azerbaijan, or, the world doesn’t self destruct from climate change before that happens, and they don’t run out of money.  The thing is that, it looks, it’s so perfect, it’s so amazing. The hotel they stay in, the training center, the food they’re eating, I mean, the elevator is gorgeous! But I mean it looks lonely.  It looks like such a lonely life.  Even though there are some people they know there and stuff, it’s just very cold, it doesn’t look like they’re interacting with other people. It looks like they stay in their hotel, go to practice, and go back. Almost like they’re in a golden handcuffs thing, you know?  So, and I wondered what effect that will take over the long term, because it takes more than just the right food and the right equipment to sustain someone long-term.

BLYTHE: Yeah, you’d have to ask the gymnasts, “are you happy? Are you feeling like you’re having a well-rounded experience? Are you out in the city? Are you making friends? Are you integrating?”  If that’s what you want to do.  And I’m sure that the long-term goals of each gymnast differ somewhat, what they want to get out of this experience for competing for Azerbaijan.  So it’s hard to say, yeah, and certainly that in gymnastics history, this is a way of sort of building from the outside in, whereas the programs that have been the grand programs have really built from the inside out, where, you know, they start this program like in Romania. They start this program and there’s no money but they’re doing really interesting things and they have new ideas, and they go to competition and they stun everybody.  This is taking a beautiful new gym and bringing in people who have already had quite a lot of success, and sort of seeing what can be brought from that. And if this is you know, planting the seeds of inspiring the new generation, or, really taking somebody like Oleg Stepko and saying you know, have the prime of your career please, with us, right here. It’s just they have to inspire the people that are going to come up next.  You know what I mean?

JESSICA: Yeah.

BLYTHE: And they need the coaches to do that.  It seems like they’ve got the equipment to do that but they need the coaches and they need the desire to do that. There are plenty of- you talk about not having enough money.  Yes this is a very oil rich country and financing this sort of thing is not going to be a problem, but there are certainly plenty of first world countries that don’t have excellent gymnastic teams-

JESSICA: Yeah.

BLYTHE: Because it’s not cultural, or, and more and more you have parents who are like, who would have put up with some ugly coaching techniques and things thirty years ago, and the quality of life has improved so that they are taking a different look at what they want their children to experience.  So they’re going to have to deal with that, perhaps, as well. Yeah, there’s just a lot of things, really.

JESSICA: So I think that’s all I have.  Do you guys have anything else you want to discuss or talk about?

EMMA: YES!  Yes I do!

JESSICA: OK! Tell us!

EMMA: Well, there’s two things.  One is the Russian, is it the Russian Cup, Russian Nationals, or whatever it’s called.

BLYTHE: Ooh! Yes.

EMMA: Well apparently Komova is going to that.

JESSICA: She is?

EMMA: There’s been photographs posted of her on the train on her way there.

JESSICA: Oooh.

EMMA: So the internet is rife with “it’s her big comeback!” And also there’s another rumor that Shang Chunsong is going to be the first woman do a quad twist.

JESSICA: Right! I saw that and I was like huh? [laughter] Do they have the wrong person? [laughter]

EMMA: Oh yeah.  Apparently so.  There’s a rumor that she’s got a quad twist in her floor routine.

JESSICA: Blythe, what do you make of that?

BLYTHE: Well, I looked at the video of her doing the three-and-a-half, and went “can she get another half twist in there?”  And the jury is out.  Certainly with the adrenaline and whatnot when you say to yourself “I’m going to go perform a quad” you know, it’s a bit different, certainly, from doing a three-and-a-half that you know you can make.  Her three-and-a-half does look good.  She looks like she could probably do another quarter twist and land on her feet, maybe jump that last little quarter rotation or something.  I’ll believe it when I see it, but it doesn’t seem impossible.  What do you think, Emma?

EMMA: Ummm, I think, you know someone’s gonna do one.  Maybe she’s gonna do one, I just hope that it’s a credible one, not one of those awful vaults that we see that people are just gonna die doing it.

BLYTHE: Yeah.

EMMA: So, I mean certainly the smaller gymnast is obviously more able to do the crazier stuff.

JESSICA: But does she have the power?

EMMA: Let’s just see.

JESSICA: That’s the thing, because…

EMMA: God knows.

JESSICA: I wish Milosovici would have competed this back in the day.  Because she had a quad, and she never competed it, and it was probably for the best, but I still want her to be the first.

EMMA: Did you see the photograph that surfaced last week of – I’m not entirely sure what it is – but the Romanians have signed some deal for some sort of funding or something like that with, I don’t know.  But there’s an article out there anyway and it has-

JESSICA: Oh yeah.

EMMA: It has a photograph of all former champions, and there was Milosovici, there was Gogean, and Raducan, and Monica Rosu, so have a look for that because it- I always love seeing photographs of people from the past, now.

JESSICA: Oh so all of a sudden now they’re embracing her again?  Even though they said they would never-

EMMA: Showed you the door.

JESSICA: after she did floor routines in Japan in like lace underwear, big woop, and they were like “we’re never, you know, she has nothing to do with us.  We’re not gonna let her coach. She’s gonna be banned from the organization.” Ugh. Honestly.

EMMA: Ok, so I just found the picture, and the company is called OMV Petrom and they’re investing some money in gymnastics and they’ve got Chelaru, Racea, Sofronie, Stroescu, Cojocar– however you say that name, Izbasa…

JESSICA: I’ve never heard it like that.

EMMA: Amanar.

JESSICA: Wow that’s good!

EMMA: It’s a cool photo. It’s a cool photo. Because it’s always nice to see people that you’ve loved as a kid all grown up.  There must be something else.

JESSICA: We can talk about that horrific coach at – who ruined the African Championships by just standing there while his gymnast almost died.

EMMA: In fact we should make that guy do a bar routine and fall onto a bed of nails.

[JESSICA laughs]

EMMA: And see how he likes it.

JESSICA: Would that be punishment enough?  Blythe will you describe this routine for the people who haven’t – not the routine, well, yeah the routine, what happened?

BLYTHE: Well it was- and you know we’ve all sort of seen one of these videos every now and again.  Girl goes for her dismount and she releases too late, and her dismount looked like it was gonna be a double back.  And so instead of doing, of going up in the air and doing a double back and coming down away from the bar, she does basically a co-backs which is too short, bangs her neck on the high bar on the way down, and that, you can really hate to see.  And then as if that’s not enough, there’s, you know, the low bar, which sort of catches her as she falls down after banging her neck on the high bar, and it’s really just kind of a one-two punch.  And so, this happened and she collapses on the ground, and frankly the coach who’s standing there spotting her does nothing.  I mean just nothing at all, and, for a good three-four seconds and then he walks away, and meanwhile a trainer or two who has been standing off to the side comes running.  And while I understand the importance perhaps of letting a medical professional take over the scene, the fact that he did not even take a pace towards her, and he does appear to be her coach is just outrageous.

EMMA: It’s like he looked at her.

JESSICA: With his palms up. Like what are you doing?

EMMA: Yeah, there was venom coming out of him.

JESSICA: With his palms up.

EMMA: And it’s like he walked up to get some sort of torch implement to give her a good prod. Because, ick, he’s a horrid man.  Horrid, horrid man.

BLYTHE: It’s the sort of thing you really, really hate to see in gymnastics, and just  unacceptable behavior.

JESSICA: I think if your embarrassment, if your ego ever comes before the safety of one of your gymnasts, then you should never, ever coach again.  Ever.  Like, it’s totally unforgiveable.

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

JESSICA:

UNCLE TIM: It’s time to announce our Gymitation winners.  For those who don’t remember, the gymnerd challenge for the month of March was to imitate a famous gymnast, and we got some pretty great entries, but we were only able to choose four winners and here they are.  First up we have Anna Burnsy who did a gymitation of Kelly Garrison’s commentary complete with a back tuck and an “Oh, Boogers!” exclamation.  Next up we have Tandori Chicken who did a gymitation of Danell Leyva’s high bar face fail at the 2011 World Championships.  Another one of our winners is Kerry J who did a gymitation of Tan Sixin’s backhandspring headspring fail thingymabobber, umm, and if you can’t tell, we here at Gymcastic like gymitations that have to do with people failing at something.  Which brings me to the overall Gymcastic favorite.  The gymitation with the most votes goes to Charlie F’s Dad, who recorded a gymitation of Mo Hulian’s stepping out of bounds at the Atlanta Olympics.  During his big step he says “Here’s the gold medal, Lilia Podkopayeva.”  As Spanny said, one, it’s old school, two, it’s a dad, three, the dad knows who Hulian and Podkopayeva are, four, he knows how to say “Podkopayeva.”  There’s no other option.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner.  So winners, to claim your prize, please send us an email at gymcastic@gmail.com with your name and address. As you might recall, there are several prizes, and we’ll be doling out the prizes on a first come first serve basis.  So email us right now, and for the rest of our listeners, you’ll be able to check out these gymitations on our website.

The best college gymnasts compete for the ultimate title. Experience it live at the 2014 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships.  April 18th through the 20th in Birmingham, Alabama.  Affordable tickets available. Visit ncaa.com/wgymnastics.

JESSICA: That’s gonna do it for us this week. Remember to watch the NCAA conference championships this weekend, and until next week, I’m Jessica from Masters Gymnastics.

EMMA: I’m Emma, from Moominwhisky Meet.

BLYTHE: And I’m Blythe, from the Gymnastics Examiner.

JESSICA: Thanks for listening. See you guys next week.
[/expand]

 

[expand title=”Episode 89: Everybody Loves Raymond! Pacific Rim, Men’s NCAA Championships, plus a Russian Championships/Tokyo World Cup recap DO OVER!”]

Advertisement: Gymnastics combines grace with strength.  Elegance with power.  Artistry with athleticism.  And they all strive for the same elusive goal.  Absolute perfection.  Experience it live at the 2014 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships.  April 18th through the 20th at the BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama.  Hosted by The Alabama Sports Foundation at the University of Alabama.  Affordable tickets available.  Visit NCAA.com/WGymnastics.

 

[beep]

 

JESSICA: Who’s the other guy with only one bicep?  Competed in the Olympics.  Sixth year.

 

SCOTT: Syque Caesar.

 

JESSICA: Syque Caesar.  Hello!  Those two are amazing.  Crazy!  What do we even need biceps for anyway, anymore.  Psh.

 

SCOTT:  I’m just, I’m gonna, I’m just actually tearing mine right now.  I’m sick of it.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

JESSICA: We’re done with those things!

 

[Intro Music]

 

JESSICA: This week: Everybody loves Raymond! And it’s Pac Rims, Men’s NCAAs and a little do-over because we did you wrong about Russian Championships and the Tokyo World Cup last week.  

 

Advertisement: Hey gymnastics!  Elite Sportz Band is a cutting edge compression back warmer that can protect your most valued asset: your back.  I’m Allison Taylor on behalf of Elite Sportz Band.  Visit EliteSportzBand.com.  We’ve got your back

 

JESSICA: This is Episode 89 for April 16th, 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.  Catch me on Twitter @yoev.

 

JESSICA: This is the best gymnastics podcast ever bringing you all the news from around the gymternet.  This week we are gonna talk to Blythe first and get this whole Tokyo, Russian Nationals thing dealt with because we heard you, and it’s very serious, and at Gym–Gymcastic we take everything very seriously.  So, let’s get to Blythe first.

 

JESSICA: So, I would like to start by apologizing to everyone.  We heard all of your many, many, many comments about last episode and how you were not pleased with the fact that we did not spend enough time on the Tokyo Cup or the Russian Championships, and, um, I agree with you.  You know, we, we had planned a long discussion about it, but regionals conversation got away from us, so I should have, uh, ya know, balanced out those conversations more.  Um, and I also agree that, you know, it’s not, it’s not really fair to talk about someone’s leotard instead of their gymnastics when they’re such an important figure, like Komova is in the gymnastics world, and so accomplished.  Um, but we also try to reflect what the, the gymternet is talking about, so there was, like, so much discuss–discussion going on around that leotard that we were like, alright, let’s talk about it.  So, um, Blythe is here, and we are gonna have a little do-over for you guys, because you guys definitely wanted to hear more about those meets, and so we are going to give that to you now.  So thank you all for your very passionate–we even got a “you should be ashamed of yourselves”–I mean, if that doesn’t say, please do a do-over mini-episode on this, what does?  So, the passion of the fans is very serious Blythe.  

 

BLYTHE: Very serious, indeed.  And, you know, when you’re talking about Russia it is always very serious.

 

JESSICA: It is.

 

BLYTHE: Because they do have such beautiful gymnastics and they are such an interesting player on the world scene.  Um, they’re not always predictable.  When you go to World Championships, or really even the Olympic Games, and you watch the training, you’re just like, what is going on?  Um, because, unlike the Americans, which are very grounded in the Romanian system of, um, ya know, practice ‘til you drop, um […]

 

JESSICA: Numbers, numbers, numbers.

 

BLYTHE: […] They do routine after routine after routine and they just crank them out.  The Russians have a total opposite, um, point of view.  And, it’s one that, that still is around today.  I remembered looking at one of the, um, news clips right before the Russian Championships, and you know, it showed, like, Komova doing a back handspring on the beam and wobbling and falling off, and I was like, ohp, the Russians are back.

 

[Jessica laugh]

 

BLYTHE: But when it, when it matters in the competition they really come alive, and they do things that they never do in practice, that they’ve never done in podium training, and I’m just like, where did that come from?  Um, and so, there’s, there’s not a whole lot of consistency there, maybe, but there is just an incredible amount of beauty.  So, so the Russians, um, they’re not predictable, but you, you cannot help but love them.

 

JESSICA: Yes, exactly.  And this meet is interesting.  It’s a regional meet, so we saw people come back that, that have retired.  Nabieva came back to […].

 

BLYTHE: Yeah.

 

JESSICA: […] to compete for her region.  And it’s also an All Around and Event Finals.  So let’s talk about, um, the winner, first of all.  So–no let’s not.  Because we talked about her last week.  Mustafina won the All Around.  But I think the more interesting part of this meet is Komova.  She’s come back from an injury, and what does her performance here say about, you know, where’s she’s at now?

 

BLYTHE: And, you know, Komova is one of those gymnasts who, like Mustafina, you just, you can’t get enough of her–like all of the great champions.  Um, and when the Olympics are over you think, oh, you know, when is she gonna come back?  And, and she’s waited a good eighteen months.  Um, there were injuries.  There were illness.  It, whatever, like, could have befallen her and kept her from doing gymnastics, did.  And, um, and now she’s back.  You know, and she is definitely more mature.  Um, she has grown a bit.  She’s put on a very small amount of weight.  It doesn’t matter.  Um, and um, she still has the same lovely lines that very fluid way of moving that  made her so special.

 

JESSICA: And I think she […]

 

BLYTHE: So […]

 

JESSICA: […] looks more powerful now with the addition of–just like Shannon Miller did when she came back.

 

BLYTHE: Yeah.

 

JESSICA: And she, like, things looked higher and more explosive.

 

BLYTHE: Yeah.  I, I would say that’s apt.  Um, probably gymnastics–like tumbling–is not going to be quite as easy for her as it once was when she was smaller.  Um, but I think that you can, you can get around that.  Um, there are so many examples of gymnasts who are about 20 years old who are doing either the same things or more things or making it look easier than they did 3, 4 years ago, um, that it won’t be a problem for her, I think, so long as she just stays in really good physical shape.  And it’s been pointed out that the Russians don’t always appear to be very well conditioned.  They’re always beautiful, but not always, perhaps, as strong as the Americans in some ways.  Um, or even the Romanians in terms of just the, the sheer physicality and endurance, and stuff.  Um, but, eh, yeah.  She, she looked very, very good, um, for where she is now.  And we should add that this is early April.  You know, this is not September, and she’s got a ways to go.  But, I would say this is a very promising beginning.

 

JESSICA: I agree.  And I was excited to see that she added back one of the skills that really put her on the map when she first, kind of, emerged on the world stage when her coaches took her to the Youth Olympic Games.  Um, remember when she did her, uh, Back Handspring Arabian on beam and everyone lost their minds seeing that.  Um, I remember that was what stuck in my mind as: that is Komova.  Who is this girl?  Oh my god, she’s amazing!  So, she added that back.  It looks beautiful.  Just as beautiful as when she did it when she was twelve.  And then, um, on bars, you know, she’s now ranked second in the world with her 15.33 on bars.  And it kinda looks like she might be trying for a Laid Out Jeager, which is pretty rare.  It was kind of piked, but not very piked so that would be exciting to see if she really lays that out.  Now, she’s doing a Piked Stalder into that, uh, Van Leeuwen.  So it’s a Piked Stalder and then a hal–a Shaposh with a half twist.

 

BLYTHE: [inaudible]

 

JESSICA: A lot of the Russians are doing a piked […]

 

BLYTHE: Yeah.  The Piked Stalder Van Leeuwen is called the Komova in the Code of Points I think.  Um, and she debuted that at the Youth Olympics in 2010, and is named for her because she did it at that competition, I think.  

 

JESSICA: How did I totally not notice it until now?

 

BLYTHE: [inaudible]

 

JESSICA: Is it another thing she brought back, or am I, just, didn’t, never saw it from this angle, so I was like, ooh that new!  I don’t know.

 

BLYTHE: [inaudible]

 

JESSICA: Russian fans forgive me for not knowing that. [laughs]

 

BLYTHE: Yeah.

 

JESSICA: I was excited by it.  Okay, um, so who also–let’s talk about, uh, Grishina.  This is so sad.  Uh, Grishina, uh, was injured on floor in her very first pass.  She did a Whip Triple, and then, kind of, fell out of it.  So, you know, landed, then sort of fell out and laid, laid down.  There was tears all over in the arena.  As anyone knows, when you’ve, you’re working out with a great teammate, and they get really hurt if you’ve had the same injury they have.  Like if it’s a knee injury, and you see it happen again, it all comes back.  Um, that had to be really rough.

 

BLYTHE: Yeah.  It just–always a shame when such a beautiful gymnast goes down like that, and has been such an important part of her team.  Um, you know, she was a two–double bronze medalist at the European Championships last year, and has been kind of overlooked I’ve always thought as a true All Around contender.  Um, and the Olympics maybe didn’t work out for her as she might have wanted them to, but I, I still say, you know, she, she is, you know, the years she’s been a senior, um, a great All Around contender.  And, I thought she looked better, actually, than she did in 2013 at this time.  Um, and so, it was surprising to see her go down, I guess, you know, you’re doing, you’re doing skills like a Whip through to Triple.  Um, [inaudible].

 

JESSICA: What do you think […]

 

BLYTHE: […] happened, but uh, it’s really too bad.

 

JESSICA: So, what do you think this says for the depth of the Russian team to lose her now when, you know, Nabieva competed, but she’s officially retired.  I think she just came back, um, and competed All Around to help her region. You know […]

 

BLYTHE: Yes.

 

JESSICA: […] help her state in the team competition.  But, how do you think this will affect them?

 

BLYTHE: Well, over the past twelve months or so, uh, I’ve kind of thought that the gymternet was needlessly freaking out about the Russians.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

The Russians have no depth. Mustafina’s carrying the team…na na na.  And, it’s true.  You know, the, the team without Mustafina would be very, very lost.  Um, but, I thought, eh, I don’t feel panic.  Um, you know, just as a, as a gymnastics watcher or as a Russian supporter, or whatever.  Um, you know, they have a very good crop of juniors who are going to be coming up in, in the next couple of years led by Maria Bondareva, who was born in 1999.  Maria Kharenkova, who won two gold medals, uh, three gold medals at the European Championships, uh, in 2012 as a junior.  Uh, two with the team and beam and floor.  Um, and she’s their, um, new first year senior and they’re kind of uh, um, you know, uh, eh, ace, I think.  Um, and I think she’s going to be very impressive.  Um, you know, they have Mustafina, Afanaseva will come back.  Um, Alla Sosnitskaya is proving to be a very nice gymnast, um… [inaudible]

 

JESSICA: Yeah, she is ranked fourth.  I was looking at The All Around rankings after this because people were kind of freaking out about what’s going to happen, but I mean, you know, Mustafina’s ranked second now behind Ebee, and, um, Sosnitskaya is ranked fourth now.  I mean, after the Russian Championships they really–The All Around is doing their rankings for women again–and you can really see how they’re all ranked in the top in All Around, or they have someone first or second, um, in all the events now after this.

 

BLYTHE: Yeah.  And, and so it, it’s not worrisome.  I think they have enough.  I don’t think they have enough to have as much depth as the US.  I don’t think they have as much depth, perhaps, even as a team like Canada or Romania at the moment, um, but they do have, you know, this incredible amount of tradition.  They have juniors who are working very hard.  Um, the question for Russia is going to be whether they can get gymnasts with Amanars.  Paseka has an Amanar.  Afanaseva has an Amanar when she’s healthy,  She showed at the World University Games.  Um, Mustafina probably has the physical capability to do an Amanar still, but given what happened the last time she did one, um, […]

 

JESSICA: Hmm […]

 

BLYTHE: […] I kind of doubt we’ll ever see it in competition again.  Um, but, you know, but anyways, if a team is–the bottom line is: if a team is, a women’s team, is going to challenge The United States they need gymnasts who are doing Amanars.  Um, otherwise it will just continue to be just, kind of a battle for second place.  Um, unless the US falls apart elsewhere, but it has shown no, uh, no signs, uh, that it’s, that it’s going to do that.  You know, there’s no problems on bars or on beam or whatever.  Um, and so, just on start values alone the Americans have probably got, you know, I, I think that you’re gonna see a lot of American women on top of the podium for the next couple of years and, hmm, go ahead and say I’m biased because I’m an American, or whatever, but, uh, I, I think that’s the reality of it. Uh […]

 

JESSICA: It’s the start values man!

 

BLYTHE: It’s, it’s the start values.  You know, and it is that they do them with very clean execution.  Um, and so though, you know, the, I think the solution, you know, how to make women’s team gymnastics more competitive is pretty simple.  Um, other teams need to have Amanars.  [laughs] And, and that’s it.

 

JESSICA: Yup.  So you need to recruit, or they just need to have their, like, a separate vaulting team.  Like, just start recruiting people from, like, training them with, like, the track athletes, so they can run like, uh, Simone Biles and Maroney […]

 

BLYTHE: Yup.

 

JESSICA: […] into their vaults, and get that kind of height because that’s what makes it for them.  They are so freaking fast that their technique is just, it’s not, you know, dangerous for them.

 

BLYTHE: Yeah.

 

JESSICA: They’re so high.  Um, let’s discuss the, uh, Tokyo World Cup.  Um, this is, it’s interesting ‘cuz they made it into a one-day meet instead of two like it normally is.  King Kohei competed and he unveiled a new skill.

 

BLYTHE: Kohei is, he’s such a cool gymnast because, you know, you think about gymnasts who can do every trick in the book, and Kohei Uchimura is totally one of those gymnasts.  You know, just on floor alone he has whipped out a Triple Twisting Double Back.  He landed that at the 2011 Worlds in Tokyo.  Um, he does all kinds of twisting.   You know, he’s done the Arabian double pike half out as as a side pass, I believe.  Um, he’s, you, you know, kind of just, you, you name it he’s done it on floor.  And he’s got such a variety of skills that he can choose from.  Um, what was impressive to me was that, that this time around he threw the, uh, Triple Twisting Double Back […]

 

JESSICA: Yes. High bar.

 

BLYTHE: […] off the bar and stuck it.  Just, just drilled it into the mat.  And there’s training footage of him doing a Quad Double.  And, uh, I think Rick McCharles told me this once, he said you’ll never see him do a Quad Double in competition–although with Kohei you never know.  Um, but he does that so when he does the Triple Double in competition he’ll stick the Triple Double. Wow.

 

JESSICA: Yeah.  And I feel like, like men, that it’s really normal to see men training a Quad and you only compete a Triple.  Or, you can do a triple back off bars, but you only, you know, compete a Double Back, and women don’t tend to do that.  And I think it would be good, uh, for more women to train that way.  And, you don’t have to land it on the actual mats.  I mean, land it in the pit.  Land it in the resi, whatever.  But to have that confidence to know that you can do something even harder than this.  And also, it just helps your awareness.  You know, your air sense.  I think it’s a really good way to practice.

 

BLYTHE: Hm.

 

JESSICA: So, um, what did you think about the women?  Vanessa Ferrari, uh, came in first with a 56.799, so she is now the–just to put that in perspective–the current world ranking, um, again The All Around is doing their rankings again, um, and they’re putting what meet the scores are from, which I think is really important.  Um, and then Uncle Tim is doing his rankings for the men.  So for the women, uh, Ferrari got a 56.799 at this meet for All Around, and, uh, Ebee’s ranked #1 with a 59.66.  So, wait, that can’t be right. [laughs]  The 59..the 50s…oh yeah.  A 56 and Ebee has a 59.  Okay, so there’s a, ya know, more than two point difference there, so it’s a little bit of a…it’s a little off the highest mark.  But, exciting for her.  And the other thing is that was exciting is that, um the Spaniard who we’ve all come to love, um, Roxana Popa, she has so many fans who love watching her, and she would have actually won and beat Ferrari had she not fallen off beam.  So, she was really close.  She was only two tenths behind Ferrari.  Um, what were your thoughts on them?

 

BLYTHE: Oh well, I was really excited for this meet.  And again, I’m talking about the Amanar.  The reason was because this was a meet in which you had a women’s field that was very strong, but very equal in terms of D-score start values.  You know, I–so–some maybe were a little bit more than others, but, um, you know, no Amanars, basically.  And so, it felt like anybody’s game.  And, and that made it really interesting to watch.  Um, for Ferrari, she had the best meet.  No doubt.  Um, the floors in Tokyo, uh, if we remember the 2011 Worlds, they’re very, very friendly […]

 

JESSICA: Mmhmm. Yeah.

 

BLYTHE: […] to the gymnasts.

 

JESSICA: Way bouncier.

 

BLYTHE: And…waay bouncier.  And when I saw Ferrari’s first pass–just that Double Double, like stuck like it was nothing, I was like, oh-ho, it’s such a good floor over there.  And then, you know, a very nice floor for her to debut that Double Layout second pass.  Um, you know, yeah, she landed it out of bounds.  Whatever.  How cool is it to be 23 years old and still at the top of your game and doing the hardest ever tumbling you’ve ever done?

 

JESSICA: Yes. Totally.

 

BLYTHE: It, it’s like, it’s really good for her because, you know, she got bronze in Stuttgart.  She got another bronze in Glasgow.  She was fifth, I believe, at the American Cup.  It’s nice to see Vanessa, you know, finally get one.  Um, and, and well deserved.  Roxana Popa people have been–she’s a second year senior now–and, uh, people have been talking about her ever since 2012 Junior Euros, um, when she really just kind of blew the field away in terms of potential and difficulty.  She was one of the few girls doing a Double Twisting Yurchenko on vault at that Championships.  And, and I think this is kind of the result of a lot of people have been waiting for.  Um, in Stuttgart she came out and she kind of balked her vault.  She did just a Yurchenko Layout when she was planning a Double Twist, and it was just one of those things where I guess something didn’t feel right off the block, or whatever.  And, um, you know, a-and so the people have been kind of saying, when she puts it all together she’s gonna be fabulous.  And I think that this meet was just kind of another example of that.  A, a stronger example of that.

 

JESSICA: Yup.

 

BLYTHE: When she goes four for four, she is going to be able to beat Ferrari.  You know, beat others on the World Cup circuit.  And that’s super exciting for Spanish gymnastics right now.

 

JESSICA: Totally.

 

BLYTHE: So, yeah, and she’s just, she’s a very peppy, bubbly, bouncy, exciting gymnast to watch, and that’s always nice to see.  

 

JESSICA: Yes.  And I loved, of course, Moors won floor, and you know, she’s doing her Moors, that double twisting double.  And, uh, it just…you know, she just gets more it seems consistent and confident and has now gained the ability not to go out of bounds even though it looks like she’s going to fly out of bounds every time.  And I could just watch her all day, of course.  She’s the whole package.  She has artistry.  She has insane difficulty.  Her double double, the form is getting better.  And I’m just excited to see her get so much international experience.  She’s just competing so much.  So, I hope she’s getting a little rest, but I love seeing her at all the meets.  So […]

 

BLYTHE: Yeah.  This could totally be the year of, like, Victoria Moors: World Floor Champion.  I think if she can, can keep that double double layout under control, um, that floor routine is really something else.  Really spectacular.  I’m–her Assassin’s Tango was good.  The thing that she had in 2013 for a little while was good–after the Olympics.  Um, but this piece is just, I, I want to sit down and have a conversation with the choreographer and, and ask a bunch of questions [inaudible] the motivation.  What she’s doing telling the story, because it really is like one of those floor routines that has a story.  And that’s […]

 

JESSICA: Yes. Exactly.

 

BLYTHE: […] You know, it’s got the tumbling.  It’s got the artistry.  It’s got this, a, a, it’s got something else.  You know.  It’s, it’s elevated, and, uh, it’s, it’s just a beautiful routine.  And, it’s so cool to see her perform it all over the world.

 

[three bleeps]

 

EVAN: Did you guys all see the US Airways tweet?

 

UNCLE TIM: [gasp] Sorry, I was thinking the antithesis of Blythe, which […]

 

[laughs]

 

[inaudible]

 

UNCLE TIM: …this morning.

 

JESSICA: Speaking of which, can I just […]

 

[inaudible]

 

JESSICA: […] tell you guys, like, how much I like–I feel like I could just, I could get Blythe up in the middle of the night when she’s totally, like, just passed out drunk.  I could, like, throw her on top of a beam in her pajamas and throw questions at her about meets and she would be–sound just like she did today.  Like […]

 

[inaudible mumbles]

 

[…] perfectly composed.  Just has, you know, very professional answer for everything.  Very sympathetic to all sides.  Can give you the full perspective.  She’s, she’s a beast.  She’s amazing.  She’s–I’m just saying she would be like […]

 

EVAN: Blythe […]

 

JESSICA: […] my anchor for any gymnastics journalism team.

 

EVAN: Uh, do you want me to hang up so you can call Blythe?

 

[Jessica and Uncle Tim laugh]

 

JESSICA: Of course you two would also be on my team. Obviously!  Hello.

 

EVAN: Mmmhmm.

 

JESSICA: Clearly.  Oh my god.  Are we gonna go […]

 

UNCLE TIM: We would need an Amanda Borden, who would start off every rotation.  That would be me because you always throw to me for the scores.  Okay, next question.

 

[Jessica and Evan laugh]

 

JESSICA: And what would Evan be?  Evan would be, like, the floor-ish […]

 

EVAN: I’d be like Dominique Dawes, but like, very sparkly, but then I’d, like [whip] a little bit, then I’d redeem myself.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

EVAN: And boys don’t like me.

 

[Jessica and Uncle Tim laugh]

 

JESSICA: What?! Oh my god…oh my god.  Okay.  Alright.  Seriously.  So, let’s talk about Pacific Rim Championships that happened this weekend in Vancouver.  There was great coverage.  Live coverage.  And they had Kyle Shewfelt doing the commentary, which we love, and I feel terrible ‘cuz I cannot remember the name for the other woman who was doing commentary.  She was also very good.  And, um, but you know, that, that elevates the level of the gymnastics and the event in general.  When you have Kyle Shewfelt doing commentary.  Um, remember that Simone Biles re-aggravated her shoulder injury, so she was out.  She was replaced by Peyton Ernst.  Um, and then Uncle Tim can you tell us the results before we discuss?

 

UNCLE TIM: Sure.  Uh, in the All Around for the seniors Elizabeth Price came in first with a 59.9.  Coming in second was Kyla Ross with a 58.7, and third was Canada’s Ellie Black with a 57.1.  Ellie also won vault.  Uh, Kyla won beam and Ebee won bars and floor.  In the junior competition…crap where’d that go? I don’t […]

 

EVAN: This would never happen to Blythe.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: I know. Alright.  Are we ready?

 

JESSICA: Yes, I’m ready.

 

UNCLE TIM: Okay.  So, on the junior side Bailie Key won, uh, the All Around with a 59.25.  Nia Dennis came in second with a 57.95 and Norah Flatley came in third with a 56.85.  Bailie Key also won vault and floor.  Very Kim Zmeksal power gymnast of her.  Uh, Luo Huan of China won bars with a 47.–14.7.  Pardon.  Which is one-tenth better than Elizabeth Price, who scored a 14.6 in the senior competition.  And Norah Flatley won balance beam.  With that, Jess, what do you want to talk about in terms of Pac Rims?

 

JESSICA: Well, first of all, I feel like this meet is becoming the legit tester meet for your two years out Olympic team.  I think everybody was sending the, the people they think are gonna make up THE team eventually that goes to Rio.  Um, we saw–both the juniors and seniors–the absolute best at this meet and some newcomers who are incredible.  And, I know that, like we, I feel like Nia Dennis isn’t getting a lot of press or attention, but to me she is gonna be the Gabby Douglas, or, of Rio.  She’s gonna be the, the Raisman of Rio.  She’s gonna be the one that is, like, plotting along slowly.  A tenth behind Bailie Key.  A tenth behind Norah Flatley.  They’re gonna have all the press talking about them.  They’re gonna have all the eyes on them and then Nia Dennis is gonna be the one that comes away with a bazillion medals with her gigantic standing arabian on beam and wins it all in Rio.  I think that she is the sleeper right now.  There are others, like Laurie Hernandez, but I think Nia Dennis is the quiet assassin.  She’s gonna be the one.  What do you guys think?

 

EVAN: I think that Nia’s coming along at a really good pace right now.  There’s still some refinement things.  Uh, her gymnastics is beautiful, and when you look at, um, you know, her presentation on the floor you can tell that she’s very well trained in her basics.  And, um, you know, just kind of putting all of those things together, um, she has time to do that, and that’s what she has working for her at this point.  So, like you said Jess, she’s kind of plotting along.  You know, obviously getting those milestones.  Getting to go to Pac Rims is a huge accomplishment already, uh, and shows how highly Marta must think of her, and you know, further down the road I, she’s still gonna be tested because, you know, like I said, she’s not that wham-bam, I’m Bailie Key.  I, I’m gonna be winning everything.  Uh, so I think her pacing and her basics are what she has going for her right now.

 

JESSICA: I agree.  So, there’s a couple Juniors that I fell in love with at this meet, and I, as I said, I think this is becoming the place to debut them.  The first one is Tingting.  [squeal] The most adorable name ever and I also love that band, so I’m very pleased about that.  Um, she does that crazy mount that, who did it?  Did Lauren Mitchell do it?  Where you, like, just hurl yourself–your chest–at the end of the beam and then flip yourself side–it’s like a Cartwheel, but you do it on your chest.  You know that mount I’m talking about?

 

UNCLE TIM: I do.

 

EVEN: I do that just to, like, get into bed every night.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA: Exactly.  It’s that one. [laughs] So, she does that mount, which I love, and then she does a handspring front that is, legit no stop right into a front handspring front tuck.  It’s beautiful  And she also just does a step Ring Leap.  Just, not a Switch.  Not a, you know, arms all funky ‘cuz you gotta get yourself up as high as you can.  But just a step Ring Leap, and it’s so pretty, and I just, I’m, she is my new Chinese beam star.  Tingting.  Um, Luo Huan, who came in…who won bars I think.  Yeah, she won bars.

 

EVAN: She Huan bars.

 

[laughs]

 

JESSICA: She is, I think, gonna be when she gets her difficulty up, she–you know, maybe her hands grow a little bit more and she can hold onto the bar more–she is gonna be a, a contender for–she’s gonna be like the next super specialist for bars.  She’s so beautiful on bars.  Um, what do you guys think of–there’s a new trend that’s kind of bo–like, I like it, but it’s bothering me.  But, ou know how I am.  So, I wanna know your opinions.  So, the US has started back–they, they did this, you know, in like, 2000, 2004 we got into this a little bit.  The US girls would walk onto floor by, like, crossing their arms and then opening them wide like a welcoming gesture, and then getting into their floor pose.  And, I, I’ll tell you my opinion after you tell me what you think of this trend.

 

EVAN: So, I think it’s a bit theatrical, and I just wanna be like, Welcome to Bennigan’s!  Enchilada soup is on, um, but […]

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

[…] So, I think it’s a bit pronounced as to where, you know, that stuff can be saved for the actual performance.  Uh, I’m not surprised by it, but I do think it’s a bit, you know, that’s not everybody’s thing.  Like, everyone’s not that, like, let’s sweep and, you know, enter the floor area in you know, a puff of glitter [twinkle sounds] and wrists [twinkle sounds].

 

[Uncle Tim and Jessica laugh]

 

JESSICA: If it was like that, I think it would be even better.  Uncle Tim what do you think?

 

UNCLE TIM:  I see what you’re saying.  It’s kinda like the magician where you, they like, throw down a magic pellet and then they walk through, like, a smoke screen or something.  It’s kinda like that, yeah.  Um, I don’t necessarily like it, but I do think that it’d be a little hypocritical of us to be like, oh, we hate it when the Americans do it, but when Catherine Lyons does it on balance beam, then it’s amazing.  Um, I think the problem is if this presentation that you’re doing walking onto the floor does not match the presentation of your floor routine in the sense that you sudd–you have much better carriage.  Much, uh, much better body position when you’re walking onto the floor, then you do during the rest of your routine, […]

 

[laughs]

 

[…] then it’s a giant problem.  And there might be some American girls like that.

 

EVAN: Mmmhmm.  Mmmhmm.

 

JESSICA: I, I, you hit the nail on the head.  That’s exactly how I feel.  I was like, why don’t I, I don’t like it when the Americans do it, but I love it when the British do it?  And it’s because the British do it to the umpteenth degree.  Like, they could not be more extravagant and over the top with their entrance onto the floor, where the Americans are, kind of look like [hesitant breath], uh, somebody told me to do this and I feel really, really uncomfortable, so I’m just gonna do it for, like, half a second and then get into my pose as fast as possible and get this done.  And that’s the problem with it.  Like, if you’re gonna do it, do it like you are on the stage Broadway opera for the galaxy presenting in front of aliens for the first time and whether Earth survives depends on how well you do that.  Otherwise skip through.

 

UNCLE TIM: I think that the key is also that you have to carry that same kind of presentation throughout your entire routine.

 

EVAN: Mmmhmm

 

UNCLE TIM:  Not just at the very beginning.  Like, Catherine Lyons on balance beam, you know, she has the poise and the, the presentation throughout the entire routine, whereas, you know, it doesn’t really make sense for something like Ebee’s floor routine, which is, you know, a little more playful and stuff than–like, to start that routine with a sweeping of the arms like she’s some, like, southern debutante or something coming down the stairs–the grand staircase or something.

 

EVAN: My, my […]

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] Exactly.  It just doesn’t make sense.  So, yup.

 

JESSICA: So, there are a couple routines that stood out to me that Australia did.  Just some skills I guess I would say, and we haven’t seem them in so long, so I kind of wondered if you guys think this is just part of the bar construction that they’re putting together, or if it’s kind of a, uh, technique that they’re using?  If they’re trying to throw some skills in there that will get them noticed again ‘cuz they’ve been gone for so long?  Um, Georgia Rose Brown took bronze on bars, and she does an Inbar Geinger out of an Uprise.  I mean, she’s not even from Parkettes and she does this, like, bl–you know how awesome they are at bar, like, uh, Uprises.  Like, they co–the whole place could teach a clinic on uprises.  And she does an Inbar Geinger that is above the bar out of an Uprise.  Like, it’s crazy.  And then Munteanu has that Tkatchev immediate Inbar Geinger, which is also cool.  And she also does the Free Hip Straddle blind catch to the high bar, which used to be in the ‘96 compulsory bar routine.  That’s something you don’t see ‘cuz it’s really hard.  It’s really a blind catch, and, um, and it’s also hard to get momentum out of that.  And so, I wondered if you guys think that this is just construction, or is this a strategy?  Uncle Tim.

 

UNCLE TIM: Um, it could be a little bit of a strategy.  I don’t necessarily really like it.  I’m just thinking of Georgia Rose Brown when she’s doing the Geinger, she does a maloney and she does the swing back and then she does the immediate Inbar Sta–uh, Inbar Geinger, and I just think it’s kind of sluggish because it’s really hard to generate the amount of swing on a back swing to get into the Geinger.  And it just doesn’t look like other Geingers that–like, Kristina Vaculik’s or Nastia Liukin’s that just kind of floats in the air.  It definitely looks more like, um, a late 80s early 90s Geinger I would say.

 

JESSICA: Oof.  Evan, how ‘bout you?

 

EVAN: Well, I have a pretty high standard, uh, set for the Inbar Geinger, and al–although it is not from an Uprise, Trish Wilson, All American from the University of Michigan will crush any Inbar Geinger maybe ever done.  I’m pretty, pretty confident in that statement.  Uh, look her up on YouTube.  Uh, just amazing, amazing technique.  Above the bar.  Executing a skill dynamically, and like I’m going to mention, Georgia Rose is, you know, it’s just kind of like, and we’re falling into the bar and, you know, just, kind of scrambling.  And, while I thinkthe–in theory it’s good.  I think it’s strategically placed to give her some individuality and uniqueness.  Uh, but I think on a world stage it’s just gonna get killed, killed, killed. Killed.

 

JESSICA: I didn’t think it was that bad.  But, then again, that was no Beth Tweddle.  I liked seeing it though.  Like, you know how I like something unique and different that makes me notice.  Yeah.

 

EVAN: Right, right.  And I think that’s strategic.  I think it is to encour–to make her stand out.  To make podcasts notice her and talk about it.  So, […]

 

[laughs]

 

EVAN: […] I think it’d be a little hypocritical.  I think I’m being a little [inaudible] critical.  Uh, which we all could be.  Um, but, you know, I, I think what I struggle with more is, uh, when she transitions from low to the high bar she does the swing that’s basically like a dead hang and then she is swinging exclusively, like, from her shoulders.

 

JESSICA: Yeah.

 

EVAN: Uh, to get back up in that Kip, and that just kinda kills it for me.  ‘Cuz I feel like if you’re–you know, she has a lot of great skills from there, but, you know, it makes me question the technique–the sound technique of, of her as a bar worker.

 

JESSICA: So, what did you guys think of Canada’s Aleeza Yu?  She won the bronze on floor.  Kyle Shewfelt called her routine, “mysterious.”  And it is definitely the kind of, like, I won’t even describe, like, the kind of dance that’s in it, but it’s definitely something we expect out of the Canadian, um, the Elvire Teza–not Elvire Teza.

 

UNCLE TIM: Elvira Saadi?

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

JESSICA: Thank you.  Thank you.

 

UNCLE TIM: That one.

 

JESSICA: Just, just throwing her in there.  Just for fun.  France, yay!  Um, yes.  Elvira Saadi camp of interesting and unique, different choreography.  Um, what did you think?  Does it, does it work?  Would it make you notice?  As it–does it fit her?

 

UNCLE TIM:  Um, so I wasn’t necessarily just drooling, dying over this routine.  I wasn’t, like, swooning in my chair, and you know, melting onto a floor or anything.  But, I do think that there were some little parts that I did like.  Like, I liked that she did…um, I’m trying to remember what she did.  I think did a Temps Levé, which is like a hop, and you know, it was just little things like that.  You know, little dance moves that aren’t necessarily…a Tour Jeté full, or something where your arms are flailing wildly as you’re trying to pull yourself around in the air. Um, and so, I like those little things.  Those little moments where she actually did something different wasn’t just: dance, dance, dance, Chassè into your leap pass, and then a little butt wiggle into the corner into a tumbling pass.  You know, little things like that made me like the routine.  What about you Evan?

 

EVAN: So, I think something–an, an aspect of the choreography that sticks out is she works on a lot of different levels, even when she’s standing.  So often you just see: I’m standing straight up.  I’m on Relevé.  I’m, you know, fully upwards.  Um, or you’re down on the ground and maybe doing a roll or a spin that some people might be caaaptivated by.  

 

JESSICA: How dare you?

 

EVAN: Um, but she […]

 

UNCLE TIM: Soome people. [laughs]  Someone, maybe […]

 

EVAN: Uh, she works on, kind of, a level that’s–she gives some mid-range choreography in there.  So, I’m not, I’m not saying she’s, like, hunched over, but, um, she’s kind of–some of those unique elements.  Um, so I’m gonna call it, like, a level of variation.  Um, and her arms are very pretty as well.  You can tell that she is, you know, has prepared a lot for, for what she’s doing out there.  It doesn’t look, um, you know, haphazard at all.  So, I appreciate it.  Um, but like Uncle Tim said, I don’t know if I’m particularly captivated, but it looked very nice.

 

JESSICA: What made me notice this routine right away was that, um, she starts in these awkward, almost ugly poses and works through them, and in a way that if you’re not a great dancer, that will not work.  Um, so it made me excited to watch the rest.  And then, there’s two things: I did not notice the corner at all.  In other words, I didn’t notice, um, someone trying to meet the requirement of not standing on two feet at all during her routine, which most of the time I’m, like, just looking at their feet to see, oh how’s she gonna fake this flamingo?  Like, how’s she gonna do this?  Didn’t notice it at all.  And that–which makes me think that she is meeting the O’Beirne Rules requirement of fulfilling the […]

 

UNCLE TIM: Spirit of the law.

 

JESSICA: Thank you.  Fulfilling the spirit of the Code, not just the Code itself, which is how it should be.  And, um, also I didn’t want to look away.  Like, a lot of elite routines, like, I’m just like [snoring noise].  When are they gonna tumble?  And I did not wanna look away while she was dancing.  When she was tumbling, I was like, uh her tumbling was good, but I wanted her to get back to dancing.  Um, and it wasn’t something I loved.  I just wanted to watch.  It made me wanna look.  And so, in that way I think it was really successful.  So, Canada: hats off to you.  Listener Jean asked the following question: Since Price beat Kyla on bars at Pacific Rims, do we actually have a bars competition between Ross, Price, Brenna Dowell, Biles and Madison Kocian?  What do you guys think?  Uncle Tim.  You probably have some data to back up your, your thoughts on this.

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] Well I’m very curious to see what’s going to happen with Kyla Ross, because last year she did a 6.4 routine.  This year she’s doing a 5.9 routine, and it’s largely due to the fact that she took out her Inbar Stalder.  So, she’s used to do a Komova II, which is a, basically a Shaposhnikova out of a, a, um Inbar Stalder.  Um, and yeah, she changed a lot of those skills.  Um, and so I’m curious to see if as the season progresses, will Kyla Ross put those skills back into her routine?  Bump up her bar routine to a 6.4, because if that’s the case, honestly I think she’ll beat, you know, at least Elizabeth Price.  I don’t know about Kocian, but I think she’ll for sure beat Elizabeth Price.  And while I’m giving you sexy data I just want to point out that Kyla Ross has lost a point in difficulty in her all around score from last year’s Worlds.  So, at Worlds she did a 23.8 total difficulty at the, uh, World Championships.  And at the All Around at Pac Rims she only did a 22.8.  So, her difficulty is down big time.  Um, but yeah.  I think if she can bump that up again, she will, she’ll be okay.  Um, she’s still, kind of, the queen of execution in the United States.  So, I don’t know.  What about you Evan?  What do you think?

 

JESSICA: Yeah, Evan, you were, kind of, um, not pleased about people going on about Madison Kocian earlier today.  

 

EVAN: Yeah, I mean…I, I think that, you know, Kocian has yet to have an opportunity to really prove herself on an international stage, so I think we should, you know, give her that opportunity.  I think she deserves it with, you know, what she’s put out there thus far in 2014.  Um, unfortunately I was not impressed with what Elizabeth Price did in event finals.  I, you know, obviously the skills are there, but, you know, execution.  Hitting the bar before your dismount.  Just some angle issues.  The, the pirouette after the Uprise.  Um, I just was not sold, so, uh, I think that she benefitted from some, um–definitely, um, you know, has a difficult routine, and, you know, went out there and was pretty clean.  Uh, but I don’t know if, uh, comparatively down the road she’s gonna be one of the major players in the US on bars.  Uh, definitely usable when we need her, but I would think that there’s, uh, a few names above her on the list.  Uh, with Kyla, you know, coming off a back injury, uh, I, you know, that’s [sighs] you, [sighs] having known other athletes and, and, myself had a bit of back trouble, you back is literally unavoidable on, to be involved in nearly any skill.  Even using your arms, you know, your back is activated to a, to a degree, so, uh, you know, in terms of her difficulty and her execution, uh, I, I think they’re playing it smart and I think that those skills will still be there.  I hope she’s not, like, 6’4’’ by the end of this year.

 

[laughs]

 

EVAN: Because that will severely complicate things.  Uh, but it could happen.

 

JESSICA: Or she could end up a World silver medalist like Mister Israel.

 

[inaudible]

 

JESSICA: Why do I forget his name?  The hottie who […]

 

EVAN: Shatilov.

 

JESSICA: Thank you.  Yes.  You never know.  It does take adjusting though.  Well, I’m, I’m hoping that they’re, you know, her coaches are being really smart and backing off with the difficulty.  Especially, you know, stalders and your back?  Mm, mm.  Uh, backs don’t like stalders, so of course it depends on what kind of injured she is.  But, um, I’m hoping they’re just backing off on that and letting her, you know, only use that stuff when she really needs it, um, and not workin’ it too hard right now.  Um, let’s discuss the guys.  We had an exciting little, um, we had some little com–comedic moments. [laughs]  And, uh, we had a little junior step it up.

 

UNCLE TIM: Yeah.  So, to quickly go over the men’s senior results.  John Orozco won the all around with an 87.2.  Uh, Japan’s Toshiya Ikejiri, uh, came in second with a 85.050, and also Japan’s Yuto Murakami came in third with a, an 84.9.  Um, to put things in perspective, Uchimura won the Tokyo World Cup with a 92.898, so John Orozco scored over five points lower than KoHEY!, which is not necessarily a good thing. Um, Orozco also won parallel bars and high bar and he took second on rings.  Um, the American men won the team competition, but it wasn’t without comedic moments.  Jessica, could you describe some of the comedic moments?

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

JESSICA: Oh my god, this is the best!  So, um, Naddour does, he’s gonna do–he’s doing a front, like, tumbling pass.  The one you do on the short, not on the diagonal, but on the short part of the floor.  And, um, he goes, he does, like, Front Double Full…a one and a half, something like that.

 

UNCLE TIM: Back Two and a Half.

 

JESSICA: Back Two and a Half.  Yeah.  Um, and he’s got a Punt Front…Punch Front Full out of it, or something. [laughs]  He totally, like, bottoms out on his landing, but he starts to jump and gets, like, no height at all, but he’s already, sort of, in the air [laughs], so he just makes it into a prone fall and does the little baby seal, and you know, like, I meant to do this.  It’s fantastic.  Now I will continue from here laying on my stomach with my arms pushing myself up.  It was [laughs] so funny!  Oh, he played it off so well.  I was totally impressed and it made me laugh out loud.  It was fantastic.  I enjoyed it very, very much.

 

UNCLE TIM: And then Chris Brooks also had a similar incident where he did a two and a half and then punch for a Barani or something, but basically ended up doing a hideous looking artwheel out of it.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM:  Um, yeah. [chuckles]  It was quite the comedic moment.  Um, one person that I do want to mention is Kevin Lytwyn from Canada.  We don’t talk about Canadian men too often other than talking about Kyle Shewfelt, but he is starting to come along on high bar.  He does very, very clean Kovacs, so he keeps his knees together on his Double Back over the bar.  He also does a Def, which, like, nobody in men’s gymnastics does anymore, and so, it’s like a Full Twisting Geinger basically.  Um, and I thought that was really cool to see that skill.  And, he also caught it at one moment with one hand during competition.  Um, yeah.  So, it’s nice to see the, the Canadian men upping their difficulty.  Ke–uh, Kevin has a 6.7.  It isn’t quite as high as, you know, Fabian Hambuchen or, um, Epke Zonderland, but it’s still a respectable D-score, and so I’m curious to see what’s going to happen with the Canadian men in the future.

 

JESSICA: It’s exciting.  I’m glad to see they’re comin’ back.  Um, and then we have to mention little pommel horse dude.  Um, Alec Yoder, who won pommel horse.  He’s a junior still, right?  

 

UNCLE TIM: Correct.

 

EVAN: Mmm, sure.

 

JESSICA: That’s very exciting.  Even though, as far as I’m concerned, Ray Ray should be the one who is recruited for pommel horse ‘cuz his pommel horse was so fantastic at Men’s NCAAs, but we’ll get to Raymond White soon.  Um, in the mean time, let’s discuss–Evan, will you tell everyone about our very, very special announcement coming up this Saturday?

 

EVAN: Yes! I can’t believe it’s this week!  I’m fanning my face from excitement.  Uh, so we are hosting the first ever Gymcastic meetup at the 2014 Women’s NCAA Gymnastics Championships.  It’s happening in Birmingham, Alabama.  I know you all have it, uh, on your calendars, scrawled into your planners, your palm pilots […]

 

UNCLE TIM: In blood.

 

EVAN: What have you?  Right.  Yes.  [laughs] Um, and it’s happening right before Super Six, so that’s Team Finals.  Those happen on Saturday and it’s at the Todd English Pub.  And guess how many blocks away it is from the venue. One. One block.

 

JESSICA: It’s perfect.  We planned that so perfect.

 

[laughs]

 

EVAN: So, I know.  Todd English.  He just built it there knowing if he built it, we would come.  And […]

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

EVAN:  […] and have a Gymcastic meetup.  Yeah, so.  Happy, one of the happiest hours ever will be spent.  Um, come say hi.  ‘Cuz we actually have faces, uh, to match these sexy, raspy voices.  

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: What do you guys think is the most gymnastics-y drink possible?

 

EVAN: Hmm  […]

 

JESSICA:  Is there one with tons of, like, glitter and umbrellas?

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

EVAN:  I was gonna say a Singapore Sling, but I’m not really sure the reasoning.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA:  We’re gonna have to come up with one.  Like, a Gymca–THE Gymcastic Cocktail.  Send us your ideas.  This is something we’re gonna have to have.

 

EVAN: Yeah!

 

JESSICA: A signature cocktail.

 

EVAN: No gin though.  Can we not do gin?

 

JESSICA: And can we make sure it’s good even if it’s virgin, ‘cuz I don’t really like the taste of alcohol.  It’s yucky.  But sugar, I do enjoy sugar very much.  So […]

 

[laughs]

 

EVAN: Alright.  Well, you might need to come up with a couple ideas, [laughs] ‘cuz Jess and I differ a bit it seems.

 

JESSICA: Polar opposites.  Funny…yeah.  Um, we are, uh, having a couple special guests that already said they’re coming.  Rick from Gymnastics Coaching is coming.  Uh, my friend Amy Sheer who writes for International Gymnast is coming.  Um, oh!  Mr. Scott Bregman said that he’s gonna be stopping by, making a celebrity appearance.  So, perhaps there will be some celebrities besides Scott, ‘cuz of course as King of the Gymternet, he is a celebrity.  Um, it’s gonna be really fun.  I’m excited.  And don’t worry if you don’t know anybody.  We don’t know anybody.  Just come hang out.  We’ll all chat together.  It’ll be fun.  We’ll, you know, pick a nerdy topic.  We’ll just hang out.  It’ll be great.  I’m very excited about it.  Okay, let’s talk to Scott Bregman about Men’s NCAA Championships.

 

[bleep bleep]

 

JESSICA: So, please welcome Scott Bregman back to the show.  Uh, USA Gymnastics Communications Director and also as we know him, Patron Saint of the Gymternet.  Thank you for joining us.

 

SCOTT: Thanks for having me.

 

JESSICA:  So, you were at Men’s NCAA Championships, and as a Wolverine, you must be extremely pleased with how this event went in terms of the results, of course, but tell us how the event was as a whole.  We’re always interested in how people put on gymnastics events and how the presentation is.

 

SCOTT:  Yeah.  You know, um, you–you’re right.  I’m a Wolverine, so I’m a little biased, but I was really, really impressed.  You know, I actually go to gymnastics events for a living, so I feel like I, uh, have a pretty good gauge on some of these things.  And I’ve been to, I guess, seven or eight NCAA Championships now, both as a competitor and, uh, as a spectator a couple of times, and now, of course working for USA Gymnastics.  And, um, I was just–I was blown away.  This was a really important event to the Athletic Department in Michigan, and it was, it was really clear.  Um, the event was super well run.  Zero waste.  They had garbage police, which are are–Jessica […]

 

JESSICA:  Yes!

 

SCOTT: […] were talking about before we started recording.  They had people making sure you were putting everything in the right bin, which was, as I said, intimidating.  Um, [clears throat], but beyond that they had, they had the podium there, which is something that’s really rare for, um, um, Men’s NCAA Championships.  They had–they brought Jordyn Wieber in.  Um, a Michigan native, of course, and obviously an Olympic gold medalist, to try to bring in some of the women’s crowd.  Um, they worked to get it on the Big Ten Network live, which was phenomenal.  It was just really, really an exciting event.  They had a great crowd, and of course with the results, um, having that good crowd there probably made it even more fun.

 

JESSICA:  So, let’s talk about the results first and then we’ll talk about the detail.  So, can you tell us about the, the team.  The Team, the All Around and some of the Event Finalists that stood out?  Oklahoma, like, cleaned up in the Event Finals.

 

SCOTT:  Yeah.  So, um, the, Michigan was first in the Team.  445.05.  Followed by Oklahoma.  441.65.  Stanford was third.  436.3?  And then in the All Around, it wa–the top three were the only three current US National Team members.  Sam Mikulak winning his third title with a 91.1.  Akash Modi, Stanford, 89.2.  And Sean Melton of Ohio State, 88.4.  So, I would say it was a pretty expected result.  You know, um, Michigan came in undefeated.  They weren’t ranked #1, but every time they have been on the same floor with these other teams, they have beaten them, which I think is important.  Um […]

 

JESSICA: And, wait.  Sean is […]

 

SCOTT: They […]

 

JESSICA: […] So, All Around finals isn’t determined the first day during prelims.  It’s the second day during Team Finals, right?

 

SCOTT:  Correct. It is […]

 

JESSICA: Right.

 

SCOTT: […] uh, technically the first day of the meet is the, the–because it’s probably because there’s so few teams, it’s the equivalent to the Women’s Regional Championships.  So, you’d […]

 

JESSICA:  Oooooh.

 

SCOTT: […] you have to, you have advance to Friday night’s competition to win a title.

 

JESSICA:  I gotcha.  Okay, that makes more sense.  ‘Cuz the first time I was just extremely confused and, of course, outraged as I am when I don’t understand what’s going on.  So, that makes more sense.

 

SCOTT:  It’s hard to imagine […]

 

JESSICA:  You know how I am.  Okay.

 

SCOTT: Right.

 

JESSICA:  So, [laughs] and wait, Sean Melton placed third with a fall then?  ‘Cuz didn’t he fall on high bar, I wanna say?

 

SCOTT:  He fell on floor.

 

JESSICA:  On floor.

 

SCOTT:  Which is the first event. [inaudible]

 

JESSICA:  Damn.

 

SCOTT:  Yeah, he was, and he was still, like, over a point above, uh, fourth place, which was C.J. Maestas.

 

JESSICA:  Um, all you tween girls out there, and college girls need to follow Sean Melton on Instagram, by the way, because he’s pretty much the cutest boy I’ve ever seen in my life.  He is so adorable, it’s not even funny.  So, yeah.  I just wanna put that out there.  He’s seriously, he’s so cute.  He, he’s looks like a little–he’s just, oh, you wanna pinch his cheeks.  Okay, go ahead.  Carry on.  Let’s get serious now.  Enough of that.

 

SCOTT:  Yeah, um.  So, obviously with the most, I–Michigan just kinda ran away with it.  They uh, they were three and a half points ahead of, um, ahead of second place Oklahoma, and it was a pretty interesting move for us, in my opinion.  The first [inaudible] on parallel bars, which is one of their best events, um, and they were the number one team coming in, so they picked that.  And they get to pick, um, what events they start on unlike the women where it’s random draw, but, um, then on the second day going into the finals, Kurt decided that–he said he talked to the team, and they decided to start on pommel horse, which is […]

 

[Jessica sighs]

 

SCOTT: […] can be scary, right? Really scary.  And they just nailed it.  I mean, 75.1.  That’s obviously just a little bit under a, uh, 15 average.  And, Oklahoma had the next best score with a total of 73.85, so a pretty big gap.  And, you know, it seemed pretty clear that after that, they were gonna be really, really tough to beat.  And […]

 

JESSICA: Right, because didn’t–wasn’t their pommel horse score actually , like, a point and a half higher than the first day?

 

SCOTT:  Yeah.  They, um, they had a guy not get credit for a dismount the first day.  Um, otherwise I think their scores were pretty consistent.  But yeah.  They had one routine that was a miss the first day, and, and it’s something that uh […]

 

JESSICA: Why in NCAA does some guys just, like, f-f-fling themself off the side, and other guys have to go up to the Handstand?

 

SCOTT: Well, you can, you know, a lot, what’s become standard, I think, at the elite level is the Handstand dismount with, you know, they try to do as many Pirouettes as they can to increase the value, which is what, you know,  Sam and a lot of the top guys are doing, but you can also just do, like, a Triple Russian, which is, uh, where they’re walking around in a circle at the end, but you have to make sure you at the end, kind of flare up not into a Handstand, but to a 45 degree angle to not get a deduction.

 

JESSICA: Oooh, okay.  Thank you for explaining that.  I was totally confused.  I was like, oh my god!  He didn’t do a Handstand!  It’s all over! Ahh!  And then it, he got a really good score and I was like, oh wait.  I don’t understand what’s going on.  So, I appreciate the clarification.

 

SCOTT: Yeah.  Yup.  And then after like, like I said, after, um, after they got that start on pommel horse it was, it was pretty clear I think to most people there that they were, they were not messin’ around and they were there to play.  You know, they had a few hiccups.  They had one guy sit down a vault, and Sam, of course, missed his, um, high bar release move, which I ha–I don’t know that I’ve seen him ever miss a Kollman in competition.  That’s usually a, a pretty easy, consistent skill for him.  But, it was, it was a exciting–and I think that that, the mistake on high bar really got Sam fired up.  He said afterwards that, that he, really got him ready to go on floor, and I, the, the, where the press section was, I was pa–perfectly parallel to the diagonal.  Like, he did his last tumbling pass on, and, and you know, obviously the routine had been going extremely well to that point.  He got at 16.05.  Um, but the angle I was at you could just see him perfectly block his Roundoff Flip Flop.  Take the Triple Full straight up and down.  And, you just knew he was gonna, he was gonna stick it.  And, um, just went crazy as you could see on TV and, I hope on the live feed.  And, gave a fist pump to his teammates and a big fist pump to the crowd, and it was, it was pretty crazy in Chrysler at that moment.

 

JESSICA: He honestly, that last pass, like, I have never–he’s always so–as you know, of course, as the inventor of the dance cam, he’s so fun and happy, and always in a good mood, and I’ve never seen him go, like, primal.  Scream, like intense angry, like, I will not be defeated no matter what.  Like, I’ve never seen him do that before, and it, like, all came out at the end of that routine.  Like, you could tell, like, the building could be on fire, under attack by aliens and he would’ve still stuck his routine.

 

SCOTT:  Yeah.  Yeah.  I think he was pretty motivated to not end with the way that his high bar routine ended.

 

JESSICA: So, um, Oklahoma and Stanford.  We have to say too had great competitions.  I mean, there wasn’t any, like, huge, major, uh, mess-ups on their part, right?  They just, it was just–I felt like it was a great competition all the way around.

 

SCOTT: Yeah, you know, it was.  It’s just, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s a really interesting ball game with the men compete five-up, five-count.  So, you know, when you–it can get away from you pretty quick.  You know, if you look at their score sheets, they’ve got a lot of pretty consistent scores, but then they have, you know, 13.35 on high bar.  Or they, you know, they have–so it can just, it can get away from you pretty quickly when you’re not dropping a score.  Um, one mistake can, can take you out of the whole thing.  Bu dot, I want to certainly highlight a few routines.  Um, I know [laughs] I know some of you want to talk about on OU, but I want to mention William Clement, who, um, actually broke his foot.  I don’t know if they showed this on TV, but he broke foot in Thursday during the warm-ups, and he–I don’t remember if he competed Thursday or not, but he […]

 

JESSICA:  Yes.  He’s the giant, super tall guy, right?

 

SCOTT:  I think so.  But he competed his high bar routine in the Team Final on Friday night.  Scored a 14.7 with a broken foot.  So, I think that’s pretty badass, and […]

 

JESSICA:  Yes.  That totally was.

 

SCOTT:  […] yeah, and his, um […]

 

JESSICA:  And his high bar’s beautiful.

 

SCOTT:  Yeah.  And, you know, Stanford of course, they’ve got Akash who’s on the Senior National Team for the United States, and is phenomenal.  He has, you know, the Full Twisting Double Back dismount off of, uh, the parallel bars, which no one does, and he does it perfectly.  So, he was a lot of fun to watch as well.

 

JESSICA: Yes, I always remember him because he does that skill and because his name should really be pronounced like a band.  Akash Modí.  Like a rap group […]

 

SCOTT:  Mmm. [inaudible]

 

JESSICA: […] from the 80s.  That’s what I’ve decided.

 

SCOTT:  Well we can, maybe we can talk to him about it.

 

JESSICA:  Okay.  I mean, if he wants to brand himself as the greatest, like, P-bars dismounter of all time, he needs, like, a rap name, so that’s, I’ve decided that’s what it’s gonna be.  Um, and then, let’s talk about the most gigantic vault I’ve ever seen in my entire life.  Literally, he goes off the screen when they showed it, um, in the live feed.  I’ve never seen a vault like this.  Hands down, not even close.  To–is it really like that in real–okay let’s talk about who this is.  This is Tristan Duverglas from Okla–Penn State.  Um, he does a Handspring Double Front Piked.  Although, they didn’t give him credit for a pike on the second flip I think.  But, they should’ve–it didn’t matter because they should’ve given him astronaut bonus.  So, what is that like in person to watch?

 

SCOTT:  It is, it, it sounds like it’s about the same as it is on TV and, and on the [inaudible] eye.  The first day he landed it and it was, it was amazing and my mind was blown.  I’d seen him do it before on the Big Ten Network, but never on, in person, and unfortunately in the Team Final I think he over rotated and put his hands down.  Um, which is crazy ‘cuz I just said he over rotated a Handspring Double Pike.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

SCOTT: Um, but it’s that high.  He does have some issues.  He does have some form issues.  He does tuck it around a little bit at the end.  Um, but it’s, it’s an incredible vault, and it, it, I couldn’t–I was blown away.  It, so it’s too bad that he didn’t get a chance to, to compete in the vault final.

 

JESSICA: Yes.  Uh huh huh.  Okay, so let’s talk about finals because we now have to discuss my favorite gymnast, male gymnast now of all time.  Well, no.  Okay, I wanna be fair.  Of course, it’s always gonna be Stacey Ervin, who by the way, competed with his torn bicep and did the arm events as well.  So he, basically helped his team win with one arm.  He’s totally amazing!  Hats off to–oh, and, to, um [snaps], who’s the other guy with one bicep?  Competed in the Olympics.  Sixth year.

 

SCOTT: Syque Ceasar.

 

JESSICA: Syque Caesar.  Hello!  Those two are amazing!  Crazy!  What do we even need biceps for anyway?  Anymore…psh.

 

SCOTT:  I’m just, I’m gonna, I’m just actually tearing mine right now.  I’m sick of it.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

JESSICA: We’re done with those things!  Um, so, okay.  This guy blew–like, let me just tell you our Twitter and Instagram and everything…Facebook blew up about this guy when he competed.  And, also on Big Ten Network, John Roethlisberger was, like, this guy is the most theatrical dude you are gonna see.  He does everything to the umpteenth degree.  You will not see another floor routine like this.  Um, and we are, of course, talking about Raymond White.  Ray Ray as I will now refer to him.  From Oklahoma.  Does the most artistic–I thought all this stuff was, like, against the rules in Men’s Gymnastics, but Raymond White, who got a fif–a 15, I wanna–or was that…maybe that was on pommel horse.  He scored very well.  Anyway.

 

SCOTT: He got a 14.9 in the Team Final on floor.

 

JESSICA: Okay.  He’s amazing!  He’s so badass.  He does…how would you describe his routine?

 

SCOTT: He does—there’s a little bit of, like, choreography happening, and it’s very, it’s, it’s just out of this world.  And very quick movements, and very aggressive, and he’s just adding these little touches in before his Press Handstand, and before his tumbling, and he’s an incredible tumbler.  Great athlete.  He’s actually phenomenal on pommel horse too.  So, I don’t know.  He was fun to watch.  That’s for sure.

 

JESSICA: He–totally, he does, like, a…out of his first pass he does a, like, Double Stag Ring Jump that would put, like, Pavlova to shame.  I mean, really.  It’s that extended.  I didn’t even know that, like, the guys were, like, allowed to do that I guess.  But, like, they totally are!  And it’s beautiful.  And he got a great score.  I just–it’s, it’s so fun.  You guys have to–on our Instagram I put up, like, our, the, the highlights of his routine.  He’s so fun to watch.  I am totally obsessed with him.  I want him to do an exhibition at Women’s NCAA Championships this week, and he’s just the greatest thing since sliced bread.  So, let’s talk about how good his pommel horse is, which his pommel horse is even better than his floor.  And, can he now be invited to–or why hasn’t he been invited to US Championships?  ‘Cuz he’s so badass and we totally need someone really good on pommel horse.  And, Tristan Duverglas.  Will he get invited to Championships for his vault?

 

SCOTT:  You know what?  I don’t have the selection procedures in front of me.  I think that you can–I think that they’re both probably qualified to compete at the US Qualifier that, that’s held in July at the Training Center, but like I said, I don’t, I didn’t know you were gonna ask me about that, so I didn’t look it up.  But, um, I, I am certain that they, um, would have the opportunity to compete there.  I’m pretty sure.

 

JESSICA: But if I was…you know.

 

SCOTT: I […]

 

JESSICA: If I was in charge, obviously I would invite them both, but […]

 

SCOTT:  Yeah, I think that there are some automatic berths to the P&G Championships, um, that’ll be later in the fall, but I, I don’t think that they qualified.  Either one of them.  So,you know.

 

JESSICA: I mean, if you just happen to see someone walking by the office, if you could just let them know how I feel about those two, and that they should definitely invite them, that would be great.  Um, and then, let’s talk about which sponsor do you think is gonna snatch up Sam Mikulak first?  

 

SCOTT: [clears throat] Uh, I, I would guess all of them.  I think it will be, uh, a race.  I think he’s gonna be fanning them off.  Um, you know, I can’t say enough good things about that guy.  He’s the nicest guy.  Like, you won’t find anyone that will say a bad, a bad word about him.  So, and obviously a great personality, and we’ve, we’ve tried to showcase that, you know, with, with the dancing video and, and some other things, and I think he’s gonna be–I think he’s got a, an opportunity to be, you know, obviously very successful in the sport and to help, you know, make it a little bit more popular just because he’s not a bad looking guy and, obviously a great personality, and a very, very nice kid.  So, I think he’s, uh, he’s gonna do alright.  

 

JESSICA: New spokesperson for gymnastics and your brand, so if you haven’t already investigated these possibilities all sponsors in the world, please do.  That was one of the most exciting things.  After he landed, and like, screamed, and I was like, oh my god!  He gets to go pro now!  And he’s gonna be so great! And I wanna see him in Under Armour commercials!  Very excited about that.  Oh Reebok–that’s the one that, um, that Raisman is, like, running over barriers and stuff like that.  That could be fun too.

 

SCOTT: Yeah.

 

JESSICA: He would be great at that kind of thing.  Yes.  Okay.  Um […]

 

SCOTT: He’s, he’s one of the best barrier leapers I’ve ever seen.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

JESSICA: Sounds perfect.  [laughs]

 

[beep beep transition noise]

 

JESSICA: If you love the show and enjoy listening, please consider supporting us by reviewing us on iTunes, shopping in our Amazon store.  If you shop in our Amazon store a little portion of what you buy goes back to supporting the show.  Or, you can simply donate, and some people have even set up monthly donations.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has done that.  It’s amazing.  All the money goes directly back to the podcast, supporting the show, and helping us improve our sound quality, equipment, paying the bills, etc.  So, thank you all so much for that.  Okay, it’s time for NCAA Championships super fight!

 

[deep drum roll]

 

JESSICA: I just, like crossed my arms and did, like, a whole X-Men ninja thing.  Just so you guys know.  So, this is how the game works.  You have…you have to prove why your team is gonna win NCAA Championships.  We have all chosen a team, and you will now defend.  Make your argument why they’re gonna win.  So, Evan.

 

UNCLE TIM: Who’s going first in this formidable crowd of master debaters?

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

EVAN: A master what?

 

UNCLE TIM: Debater.

 

[laughs]

 

EVAN: Okay.

 

[laughs]

 

JESSICA: Uh, you got in, uh, big trouble last week for not talking about LSU the entire time you were on the air, and Daniel in Ireland, who as we know, is Rheagan Courville’s biggest fan in the entire world was not happy.  So, can you tell everyone why–only three reasons–LSU is gonna become the national champions this year.

 

EVAN: I know.  First, I have to apologize to Daniel for not talking about LSU, who wasn’t at the regional I was talking about.  So weird.  But […]

 

[laughs]

 

EVAN: Um, I totally see his point, and I totally–I, you know, you can go back in the archives because my dark horse team at the very first NCAA show that we did this season–that would be LSU.  And I will tell you why.  LSU is becoming, basically the dark horse running at the front of the race.  No longer dark.  In the light.  And, first of all, it’s belief.  D-D Breaux, I like to call her my spiritual shaman Breaux, uh, because she has such a vision, and it seems to have finally, finally translated into a cohesive group of athletes stepping onto the floor for LSU.  When you listen to D-D Breaux talk about what happened at a meet or what’s happened throughout the season you know that it is all–she, she’s not surprised by anything.  She’s rolling with the punches and she’s trusting in the process.  And when you have such a figure-head like D-D Breaux, who wholeheartedly believes in the process, that translates into your athletes.  And you know what that translates to at Regionals?  198.325.  When you listen to an athlete like, like Rheagan Courville speak with such conviction and confidence, even though she might not ha–even have had her best season to date, you know that the coaching staff–D-D Breaux, uh, Jake Clark and Bob Moore have all invested–they’re all in.  They’re all in.  And it’s translating into the performance.  It’s translating into results like that 198.325.  So, the first thing: belief.  Second thing: they have balance, and their strengths complement their–what could be construed as weaknesses.  So, throughout the season you’ve seen LSU, kind of, linger around, you know, between a 49.15 and a 49.275 on balance beam.  So, that’s traditionally been, you know, kind of, one of their, their stumbling points.  They just can’t put all of those routines together to really build up the final score.  But, the freshest meet in these athletes’ mind, they totalled a 49.6 on balance beam.  So the potential is there.  And, so, for somebody who might be concerned about Kaley Dickson of, you know, the spread of, uh, you know, her routines taken out of the equation, we’re not sure if she’s going to be competing or not at Nationals, uh, but, you know, she’s kind of that table-setter.  While she definitely has potential to go over 9.85 on bars, beam and vault, I feel like they have viable resources, uh, in other members of the team, so they can really fill in those gaps accurately.  And, finally: they have names that come with clout this season–throughout the season.  Jesse Jordan, Sarrie Morrison, Rheagan Courville and Llomincia Hall.  I feel like, if you had to choose four athletes to really be a focal point of your program, those are great athletes.  And, that’s not to undersell the rest of their team, because basically any routine that they’re putting on the floor, it’s that crucial 9.8 or better.  They really don’t dip below that total if they’re putting good gymnastics out there, that they’ve proven they can do time after time this season.  So, we go back to belief.  We go back to, uh, their strengths complementing their weakness–or seeming weaknesses.  And then finally, the names that are carrying consistent clout throughout the season.  That is why LSU can win the 2014 NCAA for the first time ever!  And D-D Breaux.

 

[tiger roar]

 

JESSICA:  The passion.  Daniel, are you satisfied?  Tell us.  Let us know how you feel.  Did we do you right? [laughs]

 

EVAN: Tell me Danny.

 

[laughs]

 

JESSICA: Okay, Uncle Tim.  You’re taking Florida.  And you guys will notice we picked the top three teams to argue over here, so this is what we’re doing.  So, basically I’m saying I don’t wanna hear it […]

 

[Uncle Tim}

 

JESSICA: […] if anyone wants to argue about another team.  Read The Balance Beam Situation’s fantastic analysis, and, uh, he has done it all for you.  So, go to The Balance Beam Situation and read what he has there.  He, he’s saying everything that we don’t have time for on the show.  So, next team.  Ranked #1 going into Nationals.  Florida.  Uncle Tim.  Three reasons.

 

UNCLE TIM: Alright.  First reason: they struggled at Regionals.  So, in American culture we usually see struggle as a sign of weakness, but struggle can be a sign of strength because it indicates that you are capable of facing challenges and that you are learning–that you’re capable of learning something, and I think that’s exactly what Florida is going to do.  I think they’re going to take their bad experience, and it’s going to make them stronger.  I know that when I talked to Rhonda Faehn and interviewed her last week, she was telling me all about how Bridget Sloan was–after falling off the balance beam she was motivated to work harder in the gym, and she was not gonna ever fall off that balance beam again.  So, I think it’s gonna be good for them.  Now, I mean I do understand that, you know, if you’re struggling all season, like [fake clears throat] UCLA, that might be one thing, but Florida was not.  As a team they were, kind of, on top of the standings this entire year.  So, I think they’ll pull through.  The second reason is Bridget Sloan.  Setting aside for–her gymnastics for a second, um, let’s look at her name.  Bridget means “exalted one,”  and Sloan means “warrior.”

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: In other words, Florida has the exalted warrior on their team, and basically, that means they’re gonna win.  Like, how can you not win unless, I mean, with that name on your team.  I mean, honestly.  They’re gonna win.  Um, and in, on, in all honesty I do not–I feel like Bridget was, kind of, the piece of the puzzle that was missing for Florida for quite some time.  It was always rumored that Florida had a lot of fighting among their gymnasts.  I don’t know if that’s true, but that was always the rumor.  And whenever something went wrong it was rumored that the girls went from Gator chomping to being catty, catty clawing each other in a heartbeat.  Um, but, from everything I’ve heard Bridget isn’t like that.  Instead of being really catty, she just, kind of, says, okay we got this.  And then she goes around and, you know, starts singing on the balance beam, or whatever she does.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: And so, I feel like they needed that person to be very positive and to, kind of, say, no.  We got this.  Don’t blame each other.  Let’s just move on.  And, I think Bridget is that person, and so I think she will–even if things go awry, she will pull the team together.  My third reason is Rhonda Faehn.  Um, compared to many of the head coaches Rhonda is still young, which also means that she still gives a tuck.  Rhonda isn’t going into press conferences and saying menopause made me a better choreographer.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: Like one older, more jaded Pac-12 coach did.  Uh, you can probably guess who that was.  Miss Val.  Um, no.  Rhonda still cares, and she wants to win.  Plus, she’s a true gym nerd at heart, and honestly I think that all of us on this show want gym nerds to rule the world.  Miss Val: her favorite sport isn’t even gymnastics! It’s football.  [Mouth fart] To that!  So, you gotta be on Rhonda’s side.  I–I’m thinkin’ Rhonda should win.  She’s the biggest gym nerd out there on the floor.  So, those are my three reasons.  One: they’ve already struggled and they’re gonna be motivated.  Two: Bridget Sloan is going to unite the team.  And three: Rhonda is a true gym nerd leading a team.

 

[cymbals and marching band]

 

JESSICA:  I just, I feel like I have to rebut on behalf of my Bruins.  And that is that: if there was a press conference competition, Miss Val clearly won because, what other quotes have you […]

 

UNCLE TIM:  In being what?  Bat crazy?

 

JESSICA: [laughs] In making people talk about her team.  That would be the competition.  Okay, so, now onto Florida.  Err, sorry.  Oklahoma.  Now onto Oklahoma.  So, this is what I feel like, you know, we felt like Oklahoma or Florida were going to break into that club of four for a long time.  The only teams that had ever won NCAAs.  Florida finally did it, but Oklahoma was always right there too, and one of them was gonna make it–was gonna make it.  Florida had been so close over and over, and then they talked about how being so close and losing motivated them so much more to make it, and that is exactly how I feel like Oklahoma is coming into this year.  They saw it happen for Florida, and they knew last year coming in second that that could have been them.  They could’ve won. And, I feel like they have this–these seniors are the ones who have experienced these years of being the next team and having people know that they can do it, and then coming in second.  Knowing that they’re so close.  They are mirroring what Florida had to do to come in and break into that, that club of NCAA Champions.  They are coming in as, ranked #2 for the third straight year.  Like, if that doesn’t make you wanna work so freaking hard and finally win.  Like, if you’re on that senior squad–if you’re Madison Mooring, you’re going to want this so bad, and be like, I am not graduating without a Championship ring.  That’s not gonna happen.  We are going to win this.  Um, the other thing is that they can handle the pressure.  They are not the team that crumbles under pressure.  A lot of these top teams do.  And they have, um, somehow managed to win despite having falls.  But, Oklahoma are so consistent.  No matter what happens, they’re super consistent.  They stay within themselves.  Um, and the other thing is: they have incredible freshman.  So, not only–and that’s what happened when Florida won, right?  They had that senior class that had been so close and hadn’t made it, and then they had these incredible freshman ca–come in like, like Bridget Sloan.  I think that Oklahoma knows where they stand and knows they can do it, and that this is absolutely the year that they are going to change history and brea–usher in the new era of a different team, and a new team winning NCAAs every single year instead of the same teams winning over and over and over.  They are gonna be the next NCAA champions.

 

[children cheering]

 

UNCLE TIM: I just want–if you can give a little rebuttal for UCLA I just wanna add one little thing […]

 

JESSICA: Please.

 

UNCLE TIM: […] that I wanna say: I will not count out Sarah Patterson just because the competition is in Alabama and I have a feeling that Sarah Patterson could find a way to win in Alabama.  

 

JESSICA: Well I’ve heard rumors that she’s already, like, bussing in students and giving them free tickets, so that could be the fifth man–the sixth man, the twelfth man, whatever it’s called.  I know that Evan explained this to me earlier, but that could be–that puts someone over the edge.  Having those fans behind them.  ‘Cuz the–even though we’re in Alabama for Nationals, it’s not actually at the school.  So…what about the All Around?  Who do you think’s gonna take it?

 

EVAN: Her name is Katherine Grable, and she is tiny and tan and talented.

 

[laughter]

 

EVAN: And, uh, has been pretty consistent all year long.  You know, unfortunately Arkansas has struggled throughout their season.  They didn’t qualify a full team, so Katherine Grable is gonna be going all Jen Hansen on the NCAA Championships, and trying to do it, um, you know, as an individual without her whole team there.  Uh, I think that her one blip on the, uh, All Around radar will be uneven bars, so just getting through that, I think, um, with, you know, between a 9.85 amd 9.875, um, she has potential to go 9.95+ on the other three.  Um, I think she’ll probably need some help from some other, um, really established All Arounders, but I’m gonna go with Katherine Grable.  I, I think, uh, she can do it.  

 

UNCLE TIM: I want a tie between Katherine Grable and Emily Wong, but I also recognize that most things I want in life don’t happen.  

 

[laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: Uh, yeah.  Like, I mean in my ideal world Katherine Grable and Phillip Boy would get married and have beautiful gymnastics babies.

 

[laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: But that’s not gonna happen.  Um, so…you know…if I’m gonna be more realistic I might go with Rheagan Courville just to make Daniel happy.

 

[laughs]

 

JESSICA:  I–This is gonna be no surprise–well, I don’t know.  I mean, I think it’s really a race between Rheagan Courville and Sam Peszek.  Sam Peszek is coming in ranked second right now.  I think that most people haven’t really thought of her as a threat because she didn’t come into All Around until later in the season ‘cuz she was battling a pre-fracture in her heel, and they wanted to make sure that didn’t turn into a fracture.  Um, so, I mean, she’s coming in with a 39.7.  Courville’s coming in with a 39.725.  So, I think if Sam Peszek sticks her vault, uh, she’s gonna win.  Like, hands down.  But I love Rheagan Courville too.  And I especially love her style.  Do you see that outfit she wears?  She looks like a rockstar, punk rocker, like, she–did you see that picture on Instagram?  Like, her and, um, Miley Cyrus.  And Miley Cyrus looked like, like a hobo and Rheagan Courville looks like a goddess.  She’s just a star.  Like, the two of them together would be the best NCAA Champions ever.  They would be, like, light and dark.  Like, the hair and the, the–oh my god I love it.  So, in my dreams they would both tie because they are both fantastic and superstars.  Um, but I think it’s gonna be Peszek and Courville.  One of them is gonna win for sure.

 

EVAN: Okay wait.  Okay wait.  Do you know who holds the University of Florida All Around record?  

 

JESSICA: Sloan?

 

EVAN: No.

 

JESSICA: Kytra Hunter?

 

EVAN: No. No.

 

UNCLE TIM: Alaina Johnson had it and then Bridget tied it, didn’t she?

 

EVAN: Welll, Alaina Johnson definitely got it recently with a 39.825 this season.  So, let’s not count out Alaina Johnson because those athletes who we just all talked about have had really consistent and, um, you know, established All Around campaigns, but, you know, it depends on the day for Alaina Johnson.  You know, unfortunately for her it might be a matter of if the coaches decide to let her do All Around during the Team competition.

 

JESSICA: [sigh]  That’ll be awful if she doesn’t get to do All Around.

 

EVAN: Yeah.

 

JESSICA: Oh my god […]

 

UNCLE TIM: Well, I mean, they both scored a 39.825 so…but, I think Alaina scored hers at home, I wanna say and Bridget scored hers away this year.  So, it’ll be interesting.  Would you guys let Alaina Johnson compete All Around?

 

EVAN: I woooould…sss..it’s very–it’s a very close call.  Um […]

 

JESSICA: ‘Cuz, who are you taking out if she competes All Around?

 

EVAN: Well, I mean, hypothetically you could have, um, three All Arounders from Florida, which, which, you know, isn’t that, isn’t that surprising, but, you know, they could, you know, actually have an All Around sweep on, on one of their best days.  So, I think that, you know, Alaina might be in the lineup, but I think that she’s, kind of, the pivot point.  I, I definitely think that, um, you know, some heads would turn if Kytra came out of the All Around before Alaina.  Would you guys argue that?

 

UNCLE TIM: No, I agree.  Yeah, I’d be a little–it would be an eyebrow raiser.  Do you guys think we should have a two per team rule in NCAA?

 

JESSICA: No.  No.  You mean for […]

 

EVAN: No.

 

JESSICA: […] two per team, like you can only compete two All Arounders?

 

UNCLE TIM: No, I mean in terms of, like, we have two per country in the Olympics.  Um, only two per team–well I mean, I guess on the podium I wanna say.  On the podium you can–you couldn’t have a Florida sweep in the All Around.  Um, you know, let’s say Bridget Sloan came in third and Alaina Johnson came in first and Kytra Hunter came in second.  Bridget Sloan would have to give up her third place little plaque to somebody else.

 

JESSICA: No.  NCAA is all about crazy-ass, ongoing dynasties.  They love that.  That’s how Utah won for a million years in a row.  So, no.  You should be able to have seven–the top seven all be from one team if you want–top six.  

 

[laughs]

 

JESSICA: [Inaudible]

 

UNCLE TIM: Doesn’t Florida’s recent win represent the end of dynasties?

 

JESSICA: Well, when Oklahoma wins, yes.

 

UNCLE TIM: K.  Mmkay.

 

JESSICA: If they, if they win again–two years in a row, then no.  It’s just another dynasty beginning.

 

UNCLE TIM: K.  Evan, thoughts?

 

EVAN: Um, I definitely don’t think there should be a limit on the All Around placements.  I think if the coaches wanna put three All Arounders up, then, you know, you have to look at, you know, re-respect the program enough for what they’re willing to put out there, ‘cuz, you know, hypothetically you could look at it as, you know, fresher athletes could really just come in and maybe score exactly the same, but you’re, you know confident in those athletes.  And I think, um, you know, they should confidently accept the awards for the places that they deserve.  Um, I think that in terms of dynasties ending and beginning, uh, I think it takes–like Jess said, more, more than one to establish something, but I, I would like to hope that, you know, the new dynasty can really just be, um, a constant shakeup where no one is secure, um […]

 

JESSICA: Yes.

 

EVAN: […] in a spot in Super Six, or, you know, having their hands around the national title.  Um, even, you know, a two or three team race, um, I hope that we’re getting closer and closer to that really, really just, you know–it gets shaken up every year and it’s a roll of the dice to see, um, who even makes Super Six let alone the Championship.

 

JESSICA: I agree.  I think that’s for the best.  It should be like basketball where you never know who’s gonna win.  Or if there’s a […]

 

UNCLE TIM: If there’s an upset, who do you think it’ll be?  Who won’t make Super Six?

 

EVAN: Um, from which session?

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: Um, let’s start with–let’s do Session 1.  So, let’s see.  Let’s call the list up for listeners who aren’t–don’t have the list right in front of them.  So, in Session 1 we have Oklahoma, LSU, Georgia, Michigan, Stanford and Illinois.  Who would be the upset for not making it to the Super Six there?  And who do you think could be a legitimate upset?

 

EVAN: Um, I think that, you know, based on the performance at Regionals, unfortunately I don’t think that Georgia, um, really has that momentum to get into Super Six, um, coming out of that session even though I think the second session is a, a more difficult one to get out of.  Um, I think that Michigan having really dominated Georgia at ho–on Georgia’s home turf, um, you know, they made a big statement.  Uh, and, you know–as everybody knows, I think Michigan continues to improve, uh, so I think Michigan can, can upset, uh, or, you know, or in traditional terms find their way into Super Six beating Georgia and Stanford as well as Illinois.  Shock.

 

[laughter]

 

JESSICA: I think if Illinois made it to Super Six that, that would be the biggest upset.  Even though Georgia’s coming in with the lowest score, we know they can do better than they did.  So, I think Illinois would be–people would be like, holy crap.  Which would be awesome.

 

UNCLE TIM: I agree.  And I think if Stanford would make it though too, it would–I don’t know that necessarily it would be a surprising upset, but I think that a lot of people have just, kind of, ruled out Stanford.  So, if they make it to the Super Six it would be surprising for many people.  What about the evening session?  In the evening session we have Florida, Alabama, Utah, UCLA, Nebraska and Penn State.

 

EVAN: I think it would be a huge upset if UCLA made it into Super Six out of that session.  Honestly, wi–with the season they’ve had I don’t think, I don’t think it’s a matter of, you know, is the potential there?  But I think, um, I know the, the beginning of their lineups and the dips and the blips that they’ve had throughout the season are, you know, limiting them in terms of scoring potential, while Alabama, Florida and Utah are pretty relentless.  So, I would say it would be a, a surprise and an upset if UCLA saw their way into Super Six out of that session.

 

JESSICA: I’m gonna say Penn State and Nebraska making it into the Super Six.  Shocking!  Um, UCLA hasn’t had a great season, but then again, like, last year I feel like was not as good as this year and they ended up fourth.  Like, they somehow pull it out at the end.  Like, that’s their strategy.  Um, but, you know I’m totally biased.  Nebraska and Penn State.  But I really want Nebraska to go because, uh, I want to see Owen the whole time.

 

[laughter]

 

JESSICA: An–and Emily Wong and the whole team, of course.  Geez you guys.  God.  It’s about the gymnastics, not the pants.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

EVAN: It’s not called gym-panstics.

 

[laughter]

 

UNCLE TIM: Yeah, I guess of–I mean, I think of those gy–teams it would be really surprising if Florida didn’t make it.  It would be really surprising if Utah didn’t make it because it’s be–they’re kind of been really performing well.  Um, if Alabama didn’t make it, I mean it would be surprising, but I don’t think it would be as surprising as Florida per-se.  Um, yeah, I mean part of me really does want Nebraska to make it to the Super Six just because, you know, I went to school in Nebraska for a little while, and yeah.  I, I will always have a special place in my heart for Nebraska.

 

JESSICA: Any particular reason?  Special place in your heart […]

 

UNCLE TIM: I don’t know.  I feel like Dan the head coach is just a very good coach, and he really takes care of his girls, and you know, I respect what he does.  He doesn’t really, as far as I know, really go after, you know, the people like Sam Peszek.  He doesn’t really go after the big elites.  He goes after the–what we’d call the ninja Level 10s, who aren’t necessarily broken from an elite career, and he really makes them–he gets the most out of them.  And so I respect him as a coach, and you know, one of my favorite NCAA gymnasts, Rochelle Simpson, went to school at Nebraska, and I liked her a lot.  And so, you know, I think there’s that little nostalgic side of me.

 

JESSICA: I thought you were gonna say Nebraska because you had some, like, incredible love story or some, like, hot boy in the library story.  No?

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: No…haha.

 

JESSICA: A girl can dream.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

Advertisement: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band.  EliteSportzBand.com.  We’ve got your back.

 

JESSICA: Visit EliteSportzBand.com.  That’s Sportz with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code: Gymcast.

 

UNCLE TIM: If you wanna contact us, we would love that.  We love reading your feedback.  Um, all 27/28 comments on our webpage.  We read ‘em all.  Um, if you want us to review, discuss, watch something, or if we can solve some important gymnastics crisis for you, you can call us or email us.  We’re here for you.  Our email is gymcastic@gmail.com.  You can also leave us a voicemail by calling (415) 800-3191.  Or, you can call us from anywhere in the world.  Just use Skype.  Our username is gymcasticpodcast.  Follow us on Twitter.  We’re very chatty.  We, uh, chat with little Daniel from Ireland who loves Rheagan Courville all the time–almost on a daily basis.  We’d love to chat with you as well.

 

JESSICA: If there is something, you guys, that happens this weekend at NCAAs–some moment that you see off to the side, or maybe we didn’t catch, or it’s not on TV that you want us to talk about, email and tell us.  Or tweet us about it, so that we can make sure we don’t miss anything, and talk about it on the show next week.  And, this weekend at the Ljubljana World Cup, Anna Pavlova is scheduled to compete for Azerbaijan.  YESSS!!! [sighs] So, something for everyone this weekend.  International fans and NCAA fans.  And, hope to see you guys at the meet-up this weekend, and thank you so much for listening.  Until next week, I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.

 

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

 

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

 

JESSICA: See you guys next week!

 

Advertisement: The best college gymnasts compete for the ultimate title.  Experience it live at the 2014 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships.  April 18th through the 20th in Birmingham, Alabama.  Affordable tickets available.  Visit NCAA.com/WGymnastics.

[/expand]

 

[expand title=”Episode 90: The 2014 Women’s NCAA Championships! Plus details from the Llubljana World Cup, Korean Meet and Romanian takes on Belgium and France”]

JESSICA:  I feel like it’s not a pandering butt smack.  It’s like a, Yes! That’s right.  I know all about this.  And so do you now. [laughs] She–like, how is it possible not to offend me with a butt smack in a competitive gymnastics routine?  I don’t know.  She’s transcendent.  That’s all I can say.

 

[[INTRO MUSIC]]

 

JESSICA: This week: Ljbljana World Cup, the Korean Cup, and another first time ever NCAA Championship team–Oklahoma!  Just like I told you guys!

 

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

 

JESSICA: This is episode 90 for April 23rd, 2014, and I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.

 

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

 

SPENCER: I’m Spencer from The Balance Beam Situation.

 

[trumpets blare]

 

JESSICA:  This is the best gymnastics podcast ever, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet.  Let’s start first by recapping what happened this week in the elite world and then we’ll talk about NCAA Championships.

 

UNCLE TIM: On the women’s side it was at the Ljbljana World Cup it was mostly the Eastern European countries and former Soviet republics.  For the gymternet, the big story was Anna Pavlova who won bars with a 4.5 D-Score and an 8.325 E-Score and a 12.825 total score.  Um, normally this would not be a routine that I would love because the score is so low, but her pak salto is gorgeous and in the past I have been somewhat critical of the fact that she was only doing a layout flyaway, but at Ljbljana she threw a double pike.  Jess, what did you think of Anna’s routine?

 

JESSICA: I, she could get a 1 on bars and I would still watch it because it’s guaranteed to be beautiful.  Like, you guarantee that you will have texbook gymnastics.  Like, her dismount was a little rough.  Like, she kind of ran out of it, um, but, you know, whatever.  I don’t care.  She’s had like a million knee surgeries, and–but her, you know, on the bars she’s absolutely stunning.  Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.  I love to see her back, and I love to see that her form has not degraded with age in any way.  She’s rust proof.

 

UNCLE TIM: She’s rust proof you said?

 

JESSICA: [laughs] Yes.

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] Okay.  Spencer, which of the NCAA girls do you think would have beaten Anna Pav–Pavlova on bars at the Ljbljana?

 

SPENCER: I think probably anyone at Nationals, because, um, they just have–it wasn’t a, a particularly clean routine from Pavlova in the dismount, but I was really excited to see that the basis was there.  The elite level skills that she did perform in looked really strong.  There was a little bit of, sort of, like, she did a Jeager and a Pak and had a lot of, sort of, filler and then did a dismount, but…and–but she looked in shape too.  That was nice to see.  Like, she, she can get there you feel like hopefully in time for Europeans to make everyone go [gasp], Anna Pavlova’s back!  But, the basis is there.  That was nice to see.

 

UNCLE TIM: On the men’s side, as we’ve mentioned before on this show, that, um, the men can have skills named after them, and Danny Pinero-Rodriguez of France, had his, uh, second rings skill named after him.  Both skills have to do with the victorian position, and if you’re not very familiar with men’s gymnastics, um, it’s basically looks like he’s lying on his back.  His body is parallel to the ground and his entire body is at ring height.  It’s pretty much the hardest strength skill you can do on men’s rings.  Um, his old skill was basically swinging up into that position, and now he’s doing what’s called a Nazarian Roll, so he keeps his body completely straight, and kind of does a, a very controlled layout between the rings, and then lifts up into the victorian position, which is really, really hard, and I think if my boyfriend of two and a half years could actually do that there’d be a ring on his finger by now.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: Just saying.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

JESSICA: What this skill reminds me of–did you ever play that game, like a sleepovers where you all like, um, someone lays on the ground and then you all go around them and put just your fingertips under them, and you’re supposed to chant, like, bloody mary or something.  And then are, like, stiff as a board, light as a feather, and you like lift them up with just your fingertips and the spirits will help you.  That’s what it reminds me of.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: Yeah, that’s pretty much what it is.  Um, but a lot harder.  Um, [laughs] then, of course I have to talk about my Oleg Verniev.  He finished first on pommel horse of all events.  And then he also […]

 

JESSICA: Shut up!

UNCLE TIM: […] I know.  He also won, uh, parallel bars.  And, I have to say that I was watching this routine between NCAA routines, which made me, kind of, think of Katherine Grable of course!  My other favorite gymnast right now.

 

JESSICA: Yayy!!

 

UNCLE TIM: Because, um, Oleg on his parallel bar routine, he does a double front half out–just like Katherine Grable does on uneven bars–as he just stuck the lights out of it.

 

JESSICA: Yesss!

 

UNCLE TIM: Like a true NCAA gymnast.  It was impressive.  I was like YEAH OLEG YEAH!

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: Um, then over in Korea there was a meet.  [chuckles] Um, a few weeks ago I saw that Jake Dalton had posted something about preparing to go to Korea, and I was like, what are you talking about?  There isn’t a big meet in Korea.  Maybe he was the victim of autocorrect.  Maybe he was the victim of an inferior geography education.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: I didn’t know.  But lo and behold, I was wrong!  There was a meet in Korea, and it wasn’t a World Cup event, so I’m not really sure what the story is behind this meet.  But, a lot of big gymnasts went.  Um, for instance on the women’s side Vasiliki Millousi won balance beam.

 

JESSICA: Greek Goddess.

 

UNCLE TIM: I know.  I haven’t seen a routine yet on YouTube, but I know that she competed and won.  Um, on the men’s side Louis Smith edged out Krisztián Berki.

 

JESSICA: [gasps] Shut up! [gasps]

 

UNCLE TIM: Yeah.  Yeah.

 

JESSICA: Oh my god, this is so exciting!

 

UNCLE TIM: I know.  Louis finished with a 15.850 and Krisztián Berki finished with a 15.775, so Louis has gotten his payback.  His…yeah.  Karma.

 

JESSICA: That’s so awesome.  Did you see the picture that, um, John Orozco and Olivia Vivian posted?

 

UNCLE TIM: I did not.

 

JESSICA: Oh my god, it’s so adorable!  So, basically–it’s on Instagram, and as you know, everyone should be following both of them ‘cuz they’re awesome.  And, um, it’s johnorozcopix and oliviavivian–uh, not sure what her handle is, but anyway look her up.  She’s fabulous.  So, it’s a picture of them in front of the floor and John Orozco is, like, holding Olivia Vivian in his arms and she’s, like, being dipped back.  Very, uh, extravagantly draped over his arm in a Dancing with the Stars pose, and he has a rose in his mouth.  So he’s holding a rose, and like, holding her like the cover of a romance novel.  And she’s dipped back like she just fainted away because he’s so handsome.  And it’s like, “Dancing with the Stars are you ready?” or something like that, and honestly I was like, oh my god, yes! Yes! Put them on the show!  So, I just love the two of them.  They are hilarious wherever they go.  Like, Olivia Vivian did NCAA.  She’s from Australia.  She has the most beautiful bars ever.  She’s such a great performer.  Those two get performing.  They are great.  So, ah, that made me so happy.  I was like, this meet looks like it was fun!

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] Nice.  Yeah, and then also on rings, Brandon Wynn of The United States took home gold.  Um, he had finished with a 15.65 and he defeated, uh, your favorite: Igor.  Igor Radivilov of Ukraine who got, uh, the bronze.  Um […]

 

JESSICA: Looking super hot, I’m sure.

 

UNCLE TIM: I’m sure.  But, it’s kinda weird ‘cuz you had, uh, Oleg of Ukraine competing in Ljbljana and then you had, uh, Igor off in Korea.  So, I’m not exactly sure how they worked that with the Ukrainian coaches and whatnot, but, um, anyway–Brandon’s score was decent, but it’s not quite as high as someone like Arthur Zanetti who this past weekend also scored a 16 in Brazil.  Um, so we’ll have to see.  Kinda keep our eyes open as we continue to–as the con–as the elite season continues to unfold.  The big story of the Korean meet was Yang Hak Seon who threw his new vault.  We talked about this a little bit last–uh, last year right before World Championships.  He was trying to get a Yang II–the Yang I is a handspring triple twist.  And now he’s working on a, um, a Koz slash uh, Tsukahara style vault.  Um, if you’re a women’s gymnastics fan just think a Tsukahara style vault.  Um, the problem with the vault though is it looks exactly like his handspring style vault.  It’s just basically he staggers his hands.  So, when you do a Koz or Tsuk style vault you really wanna see a turn of the body, and he’s really just, kind of, staggering his hands.  Doing kind of like a Tinsica onto the table and calling it a Koz vault.  So, it’s really not that much different from what he’s doing for his handspring vault.  Did you watch that video Jess?

 

JESSICA: Yes.  And that’s […]

 

UNCLE TIM: What did you think?

 

JESSICA: I–I mean, whenever I watch him vault I feel like Lauren.  Like, I can’t count the twists.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA: I’m just like, that was super aggressive!  I have no idea how many twists he did […]

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA: […] but that was badass! [laughs] And then I always wonder, like, how is Korea able to consistently turn out men and women who have this kind of vault technique and power that no other country can duplicate?  Except Maroney I feel is the only one.  

 

UNCLE TIM: Yeah, I don’t know.  I mean so, Yang now has two vaults out of a 6.4.  The only man that I know of who can also say that is Ri Se Gwang of North Korea who also has two vaults out of 6.4.  Yang’s are all twisty and, Ri Se Gwang’s are all based on double flips and it always looks like his ankles hurt a little bit.  Um, also in the elite scene there was a meet between Romania, Belgium and France this p–past weekend.  On the junior side, um, it was really all about Romania.  On the senior side it was also all about Romania.  Uh, for the seniors Larisa Iordache won all four events and the all around title.  Really, nobody really came close to even touching her.  The closest to really challenging her was her teammate Andreea Munteanu.  Um, she is a first year senior and she’s quite good on beam.  Larisa did–had a 15.4 on beam and Andrea scored a 15.2.  Um, we have not seen the return of the two fulls from Larisa, which ehh, I mean, I kind of wanna see the two fulls again.  What about you Jess?

 

JESSICA: I do for sure.

 

UNCLE TIM: Yeah, so…yeah.  Hopefully she’ll put ‘em back into her beam routine.  I know that it’s a litt–it’s hard to–on your feet to land on the beam, period.  Um, so doing two fulls probably doesn’t feel the best.  And it’s a risky ch–choice.  But, hopefully she’ll throw ‘em back in.  The other big story is Diana Bulimar.  Um, she hurt her knee right before Worlds, and she’s kind of coming back from that.  Um, and she’s showing some really good difficulty and amazing landings.  I was like, woah!  What?!  Yeah.  She was, like, sticking things.  Her first pass is a piked full in.  I think before Worlds she was either doing a double layout or a full-twisting double layout.  Um, so a little bit of a downgrade, but I mean, it’s still really impressive for having knee surgery in, I wanna say, like, September.  Um, so yeah.  What stood out to you Jessica in that routine?

 

JESSICA: Oh my god!  First of all, I loved the leo.  It was very different.  You guys have to watch the video.  I’ll put it in our playlist.  Um, tell us what you think of it.  It’s super unique, and I really liked it.  And, oh my god!  She does, like, a switch half straddle full that is so huge, so perfect.  Like, I had to watch it over and over ‘cuz I was like, am I really seeing that done that well?  It is so complete and so oversplit.  She looks amazing.  Like, I always knew, like, she was a badass, but I am super impressed with her.  Like, I think this was the strongest she’s ever looked.  I was really excited to watch her.

 

UNCLE TIM:  Yeah, I’m excited to see what’s gonna happen with her too, and as we’re looking ahead towards the future, to see how Romania, kind of develops.  Um, I mean, it–they had a little bit of a rough go at the 2013 Worlds, and so it’s gonna be interesting to see if they can pick it up.  Um, one routine from the French that everyone’s talking about lately is–her name looks like “lone his” in English, but I’m guessing in French it’s pronounced something to the effect of Luan Hee.  Um, and so, Jessica I know that you loved this routine.

 

[Jessica dramatic gasps]

 

UNCLE TIM: Tell me all about it!

 

JESSICA:  Oh my gosh.  It’s so French.  It’ just, like, dripping with butter and chocolate eclairs.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA: It’s like she’s just oozing into each dance move and it’s just, like this, like beautiful, exquisite, delicious melding of all your favorite flavors into one tasty floor routine.  I just loved it!  I could watch it over and over and over.  She performs it so well.  Ah, I love this kid.  I’m so excited about the choreography and what she’s gonna do in the future.  And, um, ahh, it’s so very French.

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] Yeah, I’m, I’m liking it.  I think that there still needs to be a little bit of work, especially in terms of really connecting with the music, and maybe emoting a little bit more, but I feel like as is evidenced by NCAAs, sometimes the performance within the building is much better than the performance, um, than we see on video.  Video doesn’t always capture the performance value.  And so I’m wondering, maybe, if it’s a little bit more dynamic when you’re actually seeing it live.  We’ll have to see.  Hopefully we’ll get to see her sometime in a meet soon.  Um, one thing that I did notice though–and I’ve noticed this before going to, like, Level 10 meets and stuff, is the landings.  Especially with juniors, and like–in the United States Level 10s, um, they land their double skills really, really short.  And this is very evident for me in Asiana Peng’s routine.  She’s from–she’s a junior from Romania, and she did a full in that was…she barely got her feet down.  Her hands didn’t touch, but I mean, she could have easily face-planted that.  I don’t know how she got her feet down.  And then, also on a double back.  And it just looks like the timing of the skills is–isn’t quite right.  And it feels–it looks like she’s not quite pulling her toes over her head quick enough.  And, I don’t know.  It just worries me.  Jessica, as a former athletic trainer, what do you think as you watch these landings?

 

JESSICA: Yeah.  She, like, really, really worried me.  This is like watching people trying to do their double backs with no bounce in the floor in the 80s.  Um, I just feel like she’s–she has so many short landings, the front of her ankles are just gonna be so crunched and so destroyed.  And, I’m hoping this is nerves and that they, you know, would never put somebody on the floor who normally lands like this.  I’m hoping those were only, you know, three landings for her like this, and it’s not normally like that.  Uh, which knowing the–the program, I think is unlikely.  But, it’s really scary.  I mean, you guys know bad it hurts when you land short, and every one of her landings were like that.  Not to mention the stumbling forward out of it, and her back, ugh.  Yeah, it really worried me.  All I could think was the crunching that was going on between her bones every time she landed and her ankle, um, ligaments being pinched.

 

UNCLE TIM:  Yeah.  It..uhhgh.  It just reminds me of Ri Se Gwang’s, uh, landings on his vault, which we talked about a little bit earlier.  Um, and one thing that in the past we’ve kind of chastised cer–certain judges, well we chastised many judges in the past.  But we’ve also chastised many coaches for doing things wrong.  Especially recently at the African, um, Championships a couple weeks ago where the coach just, kind of, watched his gymnast do a double back over the bar and really injure her and just walk away.  Well, this meet between Romania, Belgium and France, um, we saw something really good, actually.  Um, Claire Martin–she is as senior for the French team.  She did a Jeager, and the timing and everything was just wrong with it.  And she basically just went straight up on the Jeager, really high, and came down on the bars, and the coach was there.  And, I was just like, [gasps] my heart was going through my chest, and it was like, oh thank god the coach was there! [chuckles]  Well, I mean, I don’t know what else to say about it.  I was just, like, ah thank goodness!  What about you Jess?  What were you thinking?

 

JESSICA: Oh my god!  That was, like, a dream moment.  Like, first of all, thank god that that coach is, like, a hundred feet tall, ‘cuz all he had to do was […]

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA: […] like, slightly lift his elbows.

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] True.

 

JESSICA: But, like, oh my god.  I loved that it–he didn’t just spot her.  He didn’t wait for her to fall.  He caught her and held onto her, walked off the mat, made sure she was okay, checked on her before he even put her down on the ground.  Like, he was like, I’m holding you still until I verify that I should–you know, you’re okay to actually put on the ground.  And even when she walked away and was like, yeah I’m fine, and was like, chalking up to get back on the bar, you could kinda see that her back was hurting her, and immediately he followed her to make–to like, follow up.  And he was talking to her like, I do not want you to get back–this is how I interpreted it–I don’t want you to get back up there if you’re hurt at all.  You know, ‘cuz she really landed hard on her back.  That is exactly what we want to see from a great coach.  And thank god he caught her because she would have rolled over potentially right onto her head if he hadn’t caught her.

 

UNCLE TIM: Yeah.

 

JESSICA: So, hats off to you.  You know, we, the kudos we wanna hand out just as much as we hand out our rage.  So, hats off to you sir.  I just want to give a shout to, um, two fabulous Slovenian gymnasts who won floor and vault at, um, Lubijan–Ljbljana.  Why do I wanna call is Lubijan?

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA:  That’s like sounds like…

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] Louboutin.

 

JESSICA: That sounds like some condom with extra lube that they’re handing out at the Olympics Games.

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] Or, like, the shoes.

 

[laughter]

 

JESSICA: Oh, maybe that’s it.  Yes, thank you!  Anyway, hats off to Teja and Saza from Slovenia for winning two events, um, at that meet.  That’s really exciting for Slovenia.  I think they have some exciting gymnasts, and I’m just happy to see them as a new country that, um, is competing.  And that, also, I wanna mention how awesome Epke is.  Emma told me this story.  Um, she has a friend who was at the meet and, uh, she–this girl–went up to Epke and just told him, you know, that, how, how much she loves watching him.  You know, that kind of stuff.  And Epke–oh my god!  He gave her his flowers from the competition and thanked her for coming to the meet and supporting gymnastics.

 

UNCLE TIM: Awww.

 

JESSICA: [squeals] That is the sweetest thing ever!  Aw, we love him even more.  His manners are just as good as his gymnastics.  Hats off to you sir.  Well done.

 

UNCLE TIM: On the elite injury front, um, our favorite Victoria Komova, she competed at Russian Nationals and looked, um, I mean, she had that huge back handspring arabian, but she also just didn’t look like she had a lot of fire inside her at the Russian Nationals.  She looked a little despondent.  Um, and it’s revealed that she recently had another ankle injury.  Um, and so it’s just kind of like, when is this girl going to get a break?!  Um, at the same time, uh, Queen Elizabeth over at re–Rewriting Russian Gymnastics–man that’s hard for somebody who had trouble saying his “r”s as a child.

 

[laughter]

 

UNCLE TIM: Um, she, she was kind of questioning, um, whether Komova’s heart is really in it anymore and does Komova really need gymnastics?  And, her idea is that, you know, you have somebody like Aliya Mustafina, who’s basically very dedicated, and doesn’t matter what color medal she gets.  She celebrates that and she uses it to push her harder.  Um, Komova is kind of…if she doesn’t win gold it’s like the world has ended for her.

 

JESSICA: Mmm.

 

UNCLE TIM: And, yeah.  And so she’s kind of wondering about what that means for her and for her gymnastics career.  Is this really something that she should continue doing?  Um, she thinks that gymnastics needs Victoria, but does Victoria need gymnastics, is basically the idea.  So, we’ll link to that blog post on our website.  And, what’s going on with Carlotta Ferlito?  The gymternet’s favorite person, Jessica?

 

JESSICA: Ooo, this is interesting.  So, basically she’s off the Euros team because she couldn’t go to the camp.  Basically, um, she, you know, went to the gymternet to address the rumors that she was not invited because she’s acting too much like a diva, and she said that, you know, I want to clear this up.  It’s not because I was kicked off the team.  It is because I was told by doctors, um, two weeks ago that I am not allowed to even train right now.  I’m not even allowed in the gym.  She didn’t give a reason.  She said, I’m sick and I cannot go into the gym.  So, if I were guessing I would say it sounds like mono.  When you’re not allowed to do any exercise, that always screams mono to me.  And she has, I mean–she and Ferlito have been competing nonstop, nonstop, nonstop.  So, that wouldn’t really surprise me.  Um, but, she didn’t give a real reason, but sufficed to say, um, she pointed out that this is the first time in, like, seven years that she hasn’t been able to fulfill an assignment.  So, we hope that she recovers soon and heals well.  And we always appreciate when a gymnast takes to the gymternet to clear up the rumors, so thank you for doing that.

 

—————-

 

[beep beep]

 

JESSICA: If you love the show and you love the coverage we have been bringing you, please consider supporting us.  Um, there are a couple ways to do it.  The easiest way: when you shop on Amazon, just go through our Amazon store on the website and you can shop normally.  It doesn’t have to be for stuff in our store.  It can be buying anything on Amazon.  You can even bookmark us once you get there, so you can always use that link to shop, and a little portion of what you spend goes back to the show.  You can also donate if you want to.  You guys asked for a way to donate to the show, so thank you so much to everyone who has donated to the show.  It’s absolutely amazing.  Thank you.  All the money that we get from you guys goes directly into supporting the show.  Paying our bills and improving our sound equipment.  And, um, I also wanna thank you guys, um, to everybody who came out this weekend to the meetup.  We had so much fun.  It was so good meeting you guys!  I hope you guys loved the little goodies that you got from us.  Um, I’ll put a picture of what I gave out to everyone, um, on Instagram so you guys can see.  The other way to support us is to write a review of the show on Stitchers or iTunes.  Basically, um, Stitcher or iTunes–I said Stitchers–basically what happens when you guys write a review is it just helps people find us.  It helps increase our ranking, and so if someone’s looking for gymnastics radio, gymnastics podcasts, the more reviews, um, the higher that goes.  And of course, it totally fuels our passion and fire to do this when we read your reviews, so we appreciate it so much.  Um, you can follow us on Instagram and Twitter.  Instagram is basically a freakin’ awesome, like, up to the second video updates that I put up.  If you guys are following during NCAAs, I’m basically extremely impressed with myself at how fast I got those videos up.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA: And Twitter is like a 24 hour non-stop CNN for gymnastics news.  Uncle Tim’s freaking amazing with Twitter and managing that.  I don’t know how he gets anything done, like, in his regular life and updates Twitter so often.  Like, he’s pretty much–that’s like his superhero skill.  Besides, um, pausing gymnastics videos at awkward moments.

 

[laughter]

 

JESSICA: So, thank you all who are supporting this show.  Um, and if you haven’t done one of things, consider doing some–one of those little things while we take our little break over the next two weeks.  

 

[Segment change noise]

 

JESSICA: We have a very special guest on the show today who, one who’s, uh, website you may have followed and who’s excellent essays you may have read during the season.  So, Uncle Tim can you please, um, let us know a little bit more about our special guest today.

 

UNCLE TIM: Well, I don’t know that much about him, so I’m gonna have to do a little interview here with him.  And, I have five really tough questions for you Spencer.

 

SPENCER: Okay.

 

UNCLE TIM: Are you ready?

 

SPENCER: I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] The first really hard question is: why did you start your blog?

 

SPENCER: Um, I was bored, mostly.  I felt like I had followed gymnastics for a long time, and just sort of reading things on the internet, and learning what other people had to say, and then I decided I had opinions of my own, especially about NCAA gymnastics, and there wasn’t really that much on the internet–or that many people talking about NCAA gymnastics.  So, I wanted to be the person to do that.

 

UNCLE TIM: And, what really attracted you to NCAA gymnastics?

 

SPENCER: I, I should preface this by saying when I first started following gymnastics I was one of those people who only cared about elite and I thought, NCAA gymnastics?  That’s boring!  Um, and then I actually watched it and I realized that wasn’t the case.  And, it is a completely different sport than elite gymnastics in many ways.  It has so much more folks on the team, which is kind of a cliche, ‘cuz they all say, ah it’s all about the team!  But, I like the fact that there is a team component and that it matters what one person does on their routine that affects what someone else does and their success.  That’s interesting to me.  There’s also much more focus on cleanliness in gymnastics.  Not about difficulty.  It’s sort of about the very small things, and that’s more interesting to me than difficulty or the big skills.  The really small things and being as precise as possible..

 

UNCLE TIM: So, you’re a perfectionist. [laughs]

 

SPENCER: Yes.  Oh, obviously!  I mean, I feel like every gymnastics fan is a perfectionist, kind of.  

 

UNCLE TIM: Probably.  Pretty accurate.  And if you were a college gymnast, which team would you be on and why?

 

SPENCER: Oh, okay.  Woah!  That is really hard.  Um, I think so much of it has to do with the coach.  I think that’s–if I were an NCAA gymnast, that’s how I’d make my decision.  So, I think I’d probably choose Florida just because, I, I think it’s really clear to me whenever you see Rhonda Faen interviewed why so many top gymnasts want to go there.  Um, I think she has a great mix of being realistic, but, um, positive and also doesn’t think that she’s curing cancer while also coaching gymnastics.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

SPENCER: Which is a problem sometimes in NCAA coaching.  Um, so that’s maybe my choice right now, but ask me in a week and it’ll probably be different.

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] Alright.

 

SPENCER: But now that Oklahoma also won and [inaudible] was hard…

 

UNCLE TIM: Are you on your highest toe Spencer?  Do you remember that quote?

 

SPENCER: I’m on my–I’m on my [inaudible] highest toe.  I need top level coaching to get there.

 

UNCLE TIM: [chuckles] Alright.  And, who is your favorite college gymnast of all time?

 

SPENCER: Ooh, hmm…I would have to divide it between the era before I started watching, but I’ve seen it on video.  Like, maybe Stella Umay.

 

UNCLE TIM: Oof.  Good one.

 

SPENCER: Or, like, Kupets is kind of a cliche, but she’s another one.  Um, recently Kat Ding is one of my favorites.  Ooh this is hard.

 

JESSICA: She’s so gorgeous.

 

SPENCER: They’re my nominees.  I’m setting myself on those nominees.

 

UNCLE TIM: Okay, final question.

 

SPENCER: Okay.

 

UNCLE TIM: Which will bring us into Birmingham, Alabama.  On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love Kat Grable?  1 being you love her as much as a root canal and 10 being as much as I do.

 

SPENCER: Um, 9.975.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

SPENCER: For her vault in vault finals.

 

UNCLE TIM: Perfect.

 

SPENCER: Not quite as much as you, but almost as much.

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] Nice.  Alright, so Spencer, you and I were not at the competition.  At least I don’t think you were.

 

SPENCER: No.  No I was not.

 

UNCLE TIM: So, Jessica you have to tell us all about the behind the scenes stuff that was going on.  I’m expecting a Spanny Tampson style report.  Go for it.

 

JESSICA: [laughs]  Okay well, first of all you–I just, this meet is so fun you guys.  And, for anybody that doesn’t know why we love NCAA so much, um, I will just tell you that if you say lovely gymnastics and you idolized a World Champion and the US elites, maybe a, you know US bar champion or a US World team medalist or World Champion, you will run into them, like, a hundred times during this meet.  Um, it’s, it’s just–you get to talk to whoever you wanna talk to ‘cuz everybody’s around all the time.  And they love–this is like the one time they get to talk to their fans.  ‘Cuz, you know, the US is, is sequestered the entire time they compete, so they don’t get to talk to their fans.  They don’t get to see their families.  This is the time they get to be showered with praise the whole weekend.  Um, you know, there are a lot of [laughs], there’s a lot of moments where people were just going up to people, bursting into tears, hugging them and telling them why they loved them since they were a little kid.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA: Um, there are also the drunken moments in the bar where, where you would see someone, um, you know, like a little gymnast standing there with her boyfriend and some drunken gymnastics fan is pouring their heart out, and the two of them looking at the person like, are you serious?  Are you joking right now?  Because I’ve never heard this much passion about anything in my life.

 

[laughter]

 

JESSICA: It was so awesome!  Um, and then, oh my god you guys!  When Llomincia goes anywhere, like, either one of two things happen.  People either start imitating her routine instantly.  Like, she walked into the bar while, like, Florida was having like, a birthday party for Marissa King–another Olympian who you just run into, like, a hundred times.  And um, she–Llomincia comes in and, like, Bridget Sloan, uh, is just, like, instantly imitating her floor routine.  Like, half the bar is doing their imitation of her routine.  She walks into the lobby, a Georgia parent is like, Llomincia!  I’m working on your choreography for next year!  I have all summer to get ready for you.  She has the best attitude about it.  Like, she loves it.  It’s just–it’s so fun.  It’s a gymnastics fan’s paradise.  So, I just–oh my god you guys.  I had such a good time.  I had–it was such a good time.  You guys should totally go.  And uh, I got to stay on the floor where, um, Alabama was, so I inhaled enough hairspray to, um, probably, um, burn a whole new, um, hole in the ozone level.  It was fantastic.  I had the best time.  I’m also covered with bruises by the way.  I don’t know how I’m covered–I have, like, literally, like scratches and br–I have a scratch on my neck.  I have, like, cuts and bruises all over my arms and fingers, and I don’t know how did that happen, except, um, apparently I like, flail around a lot in my seat while I’m watching.  Um, when Lindsay Mable fell of beam I, like, literally almost, like, collapsed.  I was–that–like, a little part of my heart is broken off forever.  Um, so I guess it’s me…I think.  Or else, like, all the imitation and stuff that goes on when we’re in the bars afterwards.  And I don’t even drink.  Like, I’m not an alcohol person.  I don’t like it.  It tastes yucky.  So, I don’t know what happened to me, but they’re a little bit violent–the Championships.  Just, you know, so just be aware of that.  Just an FYI.

 

[Uncle Tim chuckles]

 

UNCLE TIM: Wow.  Okay.  I can’t say that that happened to me last year.  I did not come out with any bruises or scrapes.  But, I guess I didn’t have the full experience.  I’ll have to go again.

 

[Jessica laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: Spencer, have you ever gone?

 

SPENCER: No.  I’ve never  been to the National, National championships before.  I need to.

 

UNCLE TIM: [sighs] Well..

 

SPENCER: I know.  I’m a disappointment.  I know.

 

[laughter]

 

UNCLE TIM: It’s okay.  Last year was my first time too.  So…

 

JESSICA: Wait.  I have two more things.  I forgot.  

 

UNCLE TIM: Oh, woah.  Okay.

 

JESSICA: One, this is so important.  First of all, the leos you guys–everyone who wrote in and talked about how the leos are meant to look good under the arena lights are totally right.  I–the leos look so beautiful in person.  Just, and like, I’m not a sparkle person, but I was like, [sighs] something special’s happening over there!  There’s a glow…like, you just are attracted to the sparkle like a crow.  You know, you just like, you have to–or a raven…whichever one’s a cra–you know, they like sparkly things.  Um, I just could not look away.  They were so pretty.  And um, and also, like people’s choreography just looks like–the leotards and the choreography in person, it makes such a huge difference.  So,that’s another reason everyone should try to go in person to one of these meets.  And also, Luan Peszek, who is, as you know, Sam Peszek: um, UCLA team member and a NCAA beam national champion a couple years ago, and Olympic medalist from 2008, and her mom’s the, uh, US Gymnastics team coordinator–she’s like my meet idol.  I don’t know she does it, but she’s at all of these meets, and she always looks like she just did a workout, had a salad and then shows up at the events.  Like she’s always, like, fresh.  She looks perfect.  She’s like ready to–she’s like totally chill.  Chattin’ with everybody.  And I am like, can barely drag my ass out of bed.  Like, it is everything I can do to get up.  ‘Cuz I’m staying up ‘til, like, three in the morning, and [laughs] like, Luan’s always out too!  Like, she’s out there chattin’ up with all of her friends.  She knows everybody, but she always looks like she just, like, popped out of a magazine and I’m always like, you know, just like, tumbling onto the floor, dragging myself back to my seat the next day.  So, I don’t know what she does, but she must have a secret, and I’m gonna get to the bottom of it.  It’s probably just living like a really disciplined, healthy life, whereas I have to have my box of candy.  It’s good luck.  It’s good luck candy during the meet to eat.  So, I don’t think she does that, butyou know.  She’s amazing.  That’s all I’m saying.

 

UNCLE TIM: Nice.

 

SPENCER: Maybe she’s been taking advice from Sam and doing the hot yoga that UCLA can’t stop talking about that Sam Peszek started this season.

 

JESSICA: That could be.  I’ll ask.

 

[Spencer laughs]

 

SPENCER: Yeah.  You should be sure because that is the most important thing in anyone’s life right now.

 

JESSICA: Clearly.

 

SPENCER: How does Luan Peszek do it?

 

UNCLE TIM: Nice.  So, let’s get into the meet and let’s start at the very beginning with prelims.  And, there are two sessions of prelims ofsix teams in each, uh, prelim.  Um, only the top three teams from each session qualify to the Super Six Finals.  Um, in terms of the individual awards the prelims determine two things.  First, they determine who will qualify for the event finals.  Uh, Spencer, correct me if I’m wrong, but the top four gymnasts, including ties, from each session make up the field for event finals.  Is that correct?

 

SPENCER: Yes.  That is right.  They don’t break the tie, so sometimes you end up 100,000 vaulters in one [inaudible].

 

UNCLE TIM: Yeah, it was pretty good.  Beam was the big one this, uh, this year.  Um, and then in terms of ind–the individuals, uh, the prelims also determine the All Around winner.  Unlike Super Six qualifiers and the event qualifiers, the All Around champ is not determined on a session-by-session basis.  The All Around title goes to the gymnast with the highest all around score at the end of the day, so it doesn’t matter if the gymternet says that the judging was easier during session two.  Doesn’t matter.  The high score wins.  No questions asked.  So, with that let’s start with Session 1.  In Session 1 we had Oklahoma, Georgia, LSU, Stanford, Michigan and Illinois.  Oklahoma, Georgia and LSU qualified for Finals in that order.  So, what were some of the key storylines for you guys from that particular session?  Let’s start with you, Spencer.  Our guest of honor.

 

SPENCER: Aw, well thank you.  Um, I think the main thing from that session is that it was, sort of, disappointingly not as close as I thought it was gonna be.  Um, we had the third, fourth and fifth seeds in it, which were Georgia, Michigan and Stanford, and I thought they were gonna fighting it out.  Right ‘til the end.  Neck-in-neck.  Event by event.  And, it didn’t really turn out that way.  Um, pretty early on it was clear that unless Oklahoma, LSU or Georgia had a major mistake, that they were going to advance.  Um, but we still saw some great gymnastics from those teams.  It’s just, Michigan had a beam meltdown, and Stanford kind of started slowly on floor and vault, and they couldn’t really recover from that.

 

UNCLE TIM: Jessica, were you at that session?

 

JESSICA: Yeah.  [sighs] I, um, there’s a couple things that happened in that session.  One, um, I–first I just have to say that honestly, like LSU’s vaults are so freaking high.  They are so much more impressive in person than I ever–I mean, I, I, I was picking them as one of my teams, you know, to win, and they’re even more impress–impressive in person.  Their vaults are so freaking high.  I mean, they’re like men’s gymnastics high.  And, Rheagan lands, like, exactly one foot away from the end of the mat.  And, you know, the mat is like 15 feet long, so that’s tells you how–what incredible power she has.  And I was also struck by just that tone is just so–they are so incredibly fit.  They just look like ballerinas with booties.  They have the extension.  And they are super fit.  And they are bouncy.  They just I’m so, I’m even–in person I was even more impressed with them than I, than I already was.  And, um, I take back every negative thing I ever said about Oklahoma’s choreography…except the knock on the door, spread your legs thing.  That I still am not okay with, from a couple years back.  But, they’ve, they’ve gone less weird and more magical this year.  I just–their, like Spanny said when she was on the show, their choreography in person is just…they do everything right.  They repeat the phrases.  There’s a clear and consistent theme.  They have incredibly, um, diverse musical choices.  They’re not just pandering to the crowd.  They emote.  They perform.  It’s everything gymnastics is supposed to be with absolutely beautiful extension and form.  It’s, I can’t say enough good things about them.  They were even more impressive, and they just rose to the occasion.  Like, that team can handle pressure like nobody’s business.  I did think that Stanford was a little bit underscored.  Um, they, I mean [sigh], their bar–you know we’ve talked about how amazing their bars are.  Um, Sam Shapiro: you know, she’s a former US National Champion on bars, um, for the US team.  She’s from All Olympia.  That’s the same club as McKayla Maroney.  She, um, sprained her ankle really bad last Monday.  I mean, like, I saw a picture of it.  It was enormous.  Like, gigantic.  And they x-rayed it.  It was not broken, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have, like ten fractures in there or something, because for her–I mean, it was huge.  So, she came through and did bars for her team.  Stuck her dismount cold.  Made bar finals.  She is just incredible.  I can’t say enough good things about Sam.  And, I mean, Stanford it was so sad that, um, Taylor Rice fell because she’s such an incredible performer.  Love to watch her on bars.  She went out of bounds, I think, on floor.  I just was, I was crushed for her, because she just has so much potential.  She’s gonna be great, but I think Stanford should be really proud of how they did, because I think they were underscored and I think they really rose to the occasion.  I mean, two little mistakes like that’s really not that bad in the, in the big picture.  Um, and, uh, it was clear to me from that point that Oklahoma were the team to beat.  I was like, they’re gonna win.  They’re gonna win.  I don’t care what anybody else says.  People asked me, like, well do you think they can do better?  And I was like, they don’t need to.  They were perfect, and they’re gonna be perfect again tomorrow.  And of course I was right.  La-la-la-la!  Okay.  Ready for next question.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: So Jessica, just out of curiosity for people going to these meets, how do you determine what you’re gonna watch?  Because, right, for Spencer and for us it’s really easy, right, because we don’t really have any options.  We just watch whatever Troy Garcia and the NCAA wanted us to watch.  Um, what about you Jess?  How did you decide where you’re gonna watch?

 

JESSICA: You know what? I chose the teams that I thought had the best chance of making it, or the individuals who I really wanted to see.  So, that’s kind of how I chose.  Like, there was an individual, Marie Case, who was rotating with UCLA on beam, and she was just–she qualified as a beam specialist, which is so freaking hard you guys!  It means you have to win over everyone that has a team at your Regional.  You have to be #1.  So imagine on beam how hard that is.  This girl was–she’s from Kent State.  Like, Kent State has a gymnastics team?  Who knew?  Well everybody freakin’ knows now because she showed them what was up.  So, she has to compete by herself.  No team.  After UCLA does their whole rotation.

 

SPENCER: [inaudible] But I think, didn’t Marie Case qualify as an All Arounder?  Didn’t she do all the events?

 

JESSICA: Was she?  Crap.  I felt like was a, just a beam specialist.  Am I wrong?

 

SPENCER: I have it written down, but I would need to look at the scores, that she made it out of that Regional as an All Arounder

 

JESSICA: Maybe she did. [pages turn] Okay, wait.  I might be wrong about that.  Either way.

 

SPENCER: Yeah, ‘cuz she rotated with UCLA and did all the events, and then they had that girl from Boise State with them who did floor.

 

JESSICA: Oh, that’s right.

 

SPENCER: Remember?

 

JESSICA: And I had them confused.  I was thinking Boise State was– okay yes.  You’re right.  Thank you.  See, this is why Spencer’s so fantastic and everyone should go to his freakin’ site.

 

[Spencer chuckles]

 

JESSICA: Because, he has all the facts, whereas you know how I get confused.  But, okay, Marie Case: the All Arounder who qualified, which is also difficult, from Regionals.  Her beam routine was the best beam routine of the whole UCLA rotation on beam.  She should’ve gotten the highest score.  She went last.  She didn’t get the highest score.  She was totally ripped off.  She does, like, every freaking switch leap with a turn you can possibly do on beam.  She does a three-series for her acro series.  She was incredible.  I loved watching her, but then she got totally screwed with the scores.  And let me just preface this by saying, I of course was sitting in the front row by vault and floor, so I feel like all of my comments about those two events are completely justified, and I don’t care what the judges say.  But, bars and beam were very far away, so I was not at the judges table.  So, let me just say, of course, I did not see exactly what they saw.  But, from my angle she was amazing.  And we put video up in our, um, in our weekly playlist for you guys to check out, because that girl…mm.  Something else.

 

UNCLE TIM: Nice.  Then moving on to Session 2 we had Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, Utah, UCLA and Penn State.  Alabama and Florida tied for the top spot.  Then Nebraska was third, edging out Utah by 75 thousandths of a point, which was kind of a big deal because last year Nebraska didn’t, uh, even may the, uh, NCAA Championships, uh, after a really disappointing Regional.  So, for them to make the Super Six was pretty awesome, um, but I’m not the one who’s going to tell you guys what the key story lines were.  Let’s start with you Jess.  For you, what were the story lines that really stood out, because your UCLA was there.

 

JESSICA: I think the biggest story was Alabama just showing up and killing it.  I mean, if you go to Alabama apparently you ca–you love pressure and you love competing because, even though I, I mean, I felt like the scoring was pretty fair.  I feel like the scoring was tighter than regular season, which I appreciated.  And I felt like it was pretty fair across the board.  There are some little things, but in general I don’t feel like there was any huge, huge, huge, major, major, major upsets.  There were some firsts and seconds, but, you know, in general I felt like the team placement was correct in the end, which is the purpose of the judges–to rank.  Um, but I think Alabama was just on fire.  They were amazing.  All I could think about was your words that you can never count Alabama out.

 

UNCLE TIM: Nope. [laughs]

 

JESSICA: Especially [chuckles], especially in Alabama even though they weren’t at the–you know, it’s supposed to be a neutral site, so we weren’t actually in Tuscaloosa where the school is.  We were in Birmingham.  But you know, nonetheless, it’s only like an hour and a half away.  The, the crowd was filled with Alabama fans, and it was just–it was electric in there when Alabama was going.  They were incredible.

 

UNCLE TIM: And what about your UCLA?

 

JESSICA: Well, here’s the thing: I mean, you can’t expect, like, a miracle to happen when you all season you’ve been at a certain level.  You hope to have your best score and do your best, but you can’t expect to, like, all of a sudden, like, whip out a 198 at the end of the season.  So, I feel like not doing well on beam, wasn’t really surprised because that was an issue for them this season.  It was really surprised that it was two of their best–that Sam had a little wobble on beam and that Nush shh–I don’t know if she really shuffled her feet, but she took a little too long into her dismount.  I didn’t see that she shuffled her feet from where I was, but their two best beam people had a little problem, um, on beam.  But, I mean, and they had a good score.  They did well.  They got, like, a 197.2 I think.  Um, so, but, you know, it wasn’t enough.  And, but they still did well for how they’ve done this season, so I was–well, I was most surprised about was the not having a lot of people in finals, but, um, you know, then they had, like, Jenni Pinches and Ellette Craddock: Level 10 who walked on from, you know, San Francisco, who was basically the MVP of the meet.  She had the, the beam routine of her life.  Absolutely gorgeous in the UCLA lineup.  So, it was sad, but I don’t feel like it was really that unexpected.

 

UNCLE TIM: Yeah, I kind of agree.  Thinking about comparing last year and this year, Alabama, at least on video, it reminded me a lot of UCLA last year, where UCLA when they were in Pauley Pavilion they were just hitting everything, and it was kind of the meet of their life.  And then during the Super Six they kind of didn’t have that spectacular of a meet, and when I saw Alabama just killing it in the prelims I also started to wonder, oh, what’s gonna happen in finals.  And we’ll get to finals in a second, but what about you Spencer?  What were, kind of, the big stories of the second session?

 

SPENCER: Well, I loved that the second session came down right to the end.  Three teams basically tied.  Utah, UCLA and Nebraska were all within a tenth of each other with one event to go.  And it was-Utah I thought was the favorite at that point.  They were gonna win because they–Utah still had to compete on vault.  UCLA still had to compete on bars, and Nebraska still had to compete on beam.  Utah has been getting 49.5s all season on vault, and they have Kyla Delaney and Tori Wilson and Georgia Dabritz ending that lineup.  And I was like, oh, they’re all gonna stick for 9.95s and then Utah is gonna advance.  And I though Nebraska had the hardest job because I think it’s hardest to score on beam–or harder than it is on vault and bars, especially at the end of a meet.  And they stuck their landings, and that was the big difference.  Utah stuck one of six vaults.  Only Georgia Dabritz at the end I think.  And of the routines we saw, I only saw Sam Peszek stick her bars landing for UCLA.  There was a lot of hopping there, so that was a really unexpected development, especially given the events they still had to compete on.  And, really exciting, because as you mentioned before, Nebraska didn’t make it last year, and I think they were kind of the underdog coming in here.  So, to see them just stick all those beam dismounts and not wobble at all on those routines was exciting.  But, I actually wanted to ask Jess if you were watching enough of the Nebraska beam, did you agree with the really high score that they got?  They got a 49.45, which was the highest beam score in that semifinal.

 

JESSICA: They did.  They absolutely killed it.  Like, they showed up and completely rose to the moment, and I think they definitely did.  And I also think, like, going back to Session 1 I think LSU got correct scores on beam too because they’re pretty sloppy on beam, which I had not really noticed.  I don’t know why in, in person I could really see.  Like, they all have–except for Rheagan Courville ‘cuz she’s perfect–they all have–and Jessie Jordan–they have, um–and Nat too.  Okay those three are perfect.  But, they all have bent legs and, um flexed feet on their series.  I was like, eew.  Like, we don’t do that in NCAA.  That’s not allowed.  This isn’t elite.  This isn’t the Olympic finals.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA: They don’t allow that.  Um, it was, uh, I was like, yeesh!  The–that–so I thought that their scores–you knw, they didn’t get great scores on beam, and I thought that was correct, whereas, um, Nebraska was just bringin’ it.  They just, they killed it.  I mean, the Nebraska beam final.  I mean, fin–event final’s like all Nebraska.  I mean, yeah.  I thought they did a great job.  So…

 

UNCLE TIM: Yeah, and I asked, um, Heather Brink, who’s their beam coach, about it on Twitter.  And I was kind of joking, and I said that she was my beam coach of the year, and then I asked her if it was because she used to wear the white, poofy scrunchie like Shannon Miller did, and if was because of her training with Peggy Liddick and Steve Nunno at [chuckles] at, uh, Dynamo in Oklahoma.  And she said, no it wasn’t.  It’s because of how awesome her team was, which is a very NCAA answer.  But then she said the poof comes in second, or something like that, so yeah.

 

[laughter]

 

UNCLE TIM: Maybe she learned a little thing or two about coaching beam from Peggy Liddick.  Uh, Spencer what was your second big storyline for you from the semifinal?

 

SPENCER: Um, I think it was how Florida looked.  Because I didn’t think that Florida had a great showing in the semifinal.  There were some errors here and there.  They looked good.  I mean, they got a huge score ‘cuz it’s Florida, but um…

 

JESSICA: But Bridget fell again.

 

SPENCER: Bridget fell again.  Oh, I know.  And that routine–I don’t want to skip ahead to Super Six, but that routine was probably my favorite moment from Super Six.  All of the reactions, especially Kathy Johnson talking about it.  But, we can talk about that later.  Um, but Florida…I thought there was so much room for improvement on what Florida did in the semifinal.  And the fact that they tied Alabama, who had a pretty strong performance like you talked about.  The fact that they got tied for the best score in semifinals, I though, oh.  If they even remotely hit one of their best meets of the year they’re gonna be right in it.

 

UNCLE TIM: The big moment for me: the All Around competition, um, during prelims.  Uh, Kim Jacob of Illinois–of Illinois?–of Alabama won.  And then Katherine Grable of, uh, gymternet fame–she’s the big heartthrob of the gymternet–came in second, and she tied with Alaina Johnson of Florida.  Um, what did you guys think?  Should Kim Jacobs have won the All Around or was there some home scoring?  What are your thoughts?  Spencer.

 

SPENCER: Um, I don’t–yeah, I think there was both some home scoring and she probably should have won.  She hit amazing routines of the ones we saw during the broadcast, ‘cuz I was watching on the ESPN–or the, um, NCAA feed and didn’t see her vault.  But of the other routines she nailed everything.  So, I think everyone else basically had–everyone had some sort of error.  No one had four perfect events, which is why we saw the scores go lower than I thought they were gonna be to win the All Around.  I thought it was gonna take a 39.7.  We’ve seen Bridget Sloan and Rheagan Courville all year long get 39.7, but I thought it was gonna take that to win.  Um, but because Bridget Sloan had a fall; everyone had sort of, some mistake.  Even Katherine Grable had, I think a wobble on beam.  So…

 

UNCLE TIM: Mmhmm.

 

SPENCER: I don’t think anyone has a better argument than, than Kim Jacob that they should have won because no one had–none of our top all arounders had a perfect meet.  But of course I wanted Katherine Grable to win ‘cuz she’s Katherine Grable.

 

JESSICA: Of course.  I, I didn’t notice it–honestly you guys, in person I have a really hard time telling Kim Jacob and, um, Sarah DeMeo apart.  Um, which is just from a distance, so, um…

 

UNCLE TIM: Racist.

 

JESSICA: I know.  Right?

 

[laughter]

 

JESSICA: God, they both have, like, brown hair.  I cannot tell them apart.  So um, I, they just both have that little GAGE body even though Kim Jacob’s not from GAGE.  I don’t know where she’s from.  So, [sighs] I didn’t–I don’t know for sure that I’ve watched all of Kim Jacob’s routines. [laughs]  But I do remember her being, you know, pretty much on fire.  Uh, Katherine Grable had that one tiny, tiny, tiny mistake, but I feel like Katherine Grable does a way harder vault, and that she should have gotten the I’m Alone Here Without a Team Bonus and won.  But I’m also of course totally biased for her because if you’re competing by yourself and you’re doing a skill that’s so hard on floor that the only other person who’s done it in known memory would be Uchimura, who’s done it piked, then you should basically be given the I Am Doing The Hardest Crap Here Bonus.  Um, but there’s no difficulty bonus.  But, all the judges should take that into consideration.  So, on that, in that regard, because of the difficulty level in her routines is so much higher, I think she should have won.  But, Kim Jacob is incredible, and I don’t want to take anything away from her because she’s, she’s a total badass, and any team would be lucky to have her, and she’s amazing.  So, the one thing that I think is outrageous is that Alaina Johnson was, uh, tied for second?  What?  Alaina–totally overscored.  And don’t get me wrong.  Alaina Johnson’s gymnastics is beautiful.  It’s amazing.  I could just watch her all day.  But she has major deductions on some of her skills that she never, ever gets deducted for, and I totally don’t understand it.  You know, I took a video of her dismount because–and I paused it so you guys could see the, where she’s not getting deducted.  On her double layout she straddles her legs at least, like 45 degrees.  Are they deducting for that?  Apparently not.  She cowboys her tumbling on floor so extreme that it’s like, like 1990s double fronts for men on vault.  I mean, it’s, there’s such clear, obvious, major deductions.  She does not get them taken in NCAA, and I don’t understand why um, when Katherine Grable does even harder skills, and does them with perfect form.  So, mm.  That’s my take on that situation.  Uncle Tim, what’d you think?

 

UNCLE TIM: I mean [sigh], it’s hard because I’ve–yeah.  I mean, it’s hard because does my personal attachment to Wisconsin and to the fact that Katherine comes from Oshkosh, and my friend used to coach her, and…anyway.  So, it’s a lot more difficult for me to be, like, really separate myself from the situation and be very logical.  But, as Spencer said, yes.  She did have a mistake on beam, and I’m sure she was probably harder on herself than any of us.  I’m sure she was kicking herself afterwards.  She just seems like, kind of, the spitfire type who, you know, does not want to make any mistakes and wants to win everything.  So, she was probably hard on herself for that, but, I mean, I kind of wanted her to win, and, but I think Kim Jacob was…probably did have a really great meet.  And, when I was making the gym nerd poll, Kim Jacob didn’t really fit into the criteria that I had set up, but I thought, you know, whatever.  She has a chance, and it’s gonna be Alabama in Alabama, and I was like, I have to put her on the list.  Nobody voted for her.

 

JESSICA: [laughs]  I know.

 

UNCLE TIM: Um, [laughs] and then she won.  So, shows what we know gym nerds.  Shows what we know.  And, I mean, a broader question: do you guys feel like there was home scoring in Alabama, and do you feel like there is a way to actually have this meet on neutral territory?

 

SPENCER: Um, I thought there was some scoring in Alabama’s favor in places.  I didn’t think it was consistent or anything overwhelming.  I–the place I noticed it the most was the first rotation of Super Six on floor.  When they got a 49.675 I was like, woah!  What’s happening?  But, um, I didn’t think it was, like, systematic or anything across a lot of events.  And, I don’t really think–if you have a dominant fan base in the crowd, I don’t really think there’s that much of a way to avoid it.  It’s not like the judges are trying to sit there and be, like, let’s give Alabama the highest scores.

 

[Uncle Tim chuckles]

 

SPENCER: Um, there, but it’s human nature to be, sort of, convinced by all the cheering and the screaming and everything.  It just sort of, subconsciously raises the situation.  So, if you’re anywhere close to one of the major schools, if you’re hosting it, that’s always gonna be a factor.  Um, I don’t think it influenced anything about the final results though.  

 

JESSICA: Yeah, I think, um–it’s interesting because I thought really overall the judging was very fair, and it was very tight.  And, um, um, the scoring, the way that the scoring works by dropping the high and low really worked because there was a judge on floor, who honestly, like, her scores did not count the whole entire session because she was consistently lower or higher for all the teams.  So, you know.  It, it worked.  And keeping her as the outlier out of the scoring.  Um, and yes.  I was particularly looking at her the whole time.  My friend was like, she’s on my list!

 

[Uncle Tim chuckles]

 

JESSICA: I’m taking her picture! [laughs] It was so funny.  Um, but in general I thought it was really good.  And you know, really, um, a neutral location is something that they’re doing I guess.  I mean, this is the point of having these places at neutral location.  They had one in Cleveland and now here, and then the next two years is in, uh, uh, Houston?  Houston?  I’m gonna look..

 

SPENCER: Dallas.

 

JESSICA: Uh, Dallas.  Dallas.  Mmm, oh my god, I’m just gonna make all of the–it’s in Texas.  Texas.  So, um, they [sighs], the, the thing it comes down to is really what Spencer said about who has the loudest crowd, and I think that’s why it’s so important for all these coaches are constant–are constantly being like, come to the meets.  Come to the meets.  Come to the meets.  Because it really does make a difference, and it comes down to whose fan base has the money and the time off from work to travel.  And that’s what it comes down to.  If the judges are influenced by the crowd–and I can tell you that I do not think that the judges were influenced because I was screaming my head off at the vault judges and, um, they refused to look at me or acknowledge my screams.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA: And, they were very, extremely professional.  They didn’t even make faces when I boo’d my head off, and as you can hear, somewhat lost my voice yelling at them.  So, you know.  I thought they did–I mean I, I think the neutral location thing is, is good, and–but I just hate to see meets with no fan base there like Cleveland.  You know?  So, mm.

 

UNCLE TIM: Spencer, as you know, scoring and sexy data gets me all hot and bothered.  And, I know that you have some really sexy data, so please just lay it on me.  Let me know about your sexy data.  Go ahead.

 

SPENCER: I, I have so much sexy data.  So, I was also really interested in how the scoring was gonna play out.  Um, especially compared to the regular season and what we saw at Regionals, because this season has been sort of, historically high scoring.  Um, it’s the highest scores since–and most 10s since 2004, which had, like, 150 million 10s.  So, I wanted to see whether the judges were really gonna tighten up at Nationals, which I wanted them to because you have the 12 best teams in the country.  Everyone is really, really good.  And if they were judging with the same standard that they used for some of the regular season, I felt like, just, everyone was gonna get 9.95, and that would be the end of the meet.  So, I compared some of the averages for, from Nationals to what we saw at Regionals, and it was kind of interesting in that vault was the biggest difference in that it was so much tighter at Nationals than it has been for any part of the regular season.  Um, the average team score for the 12 teams that qualified to Nationals during their Regionals on vault was 49.379, and at Nationals it was 49.288, which is a tenth, and that’s really significant.  We saw it certainly make the difference in Super Six, and that would have made the difference in the final as well.  So, the judges were much, much tighter on the vault than they had been at any other point.  Bars and beam were very even, basically from what we’ve seen the whole season.  And, floor was much higher than what we saw at, um, Regionals.  The average team score for the 12 teams at Regionals was a 49.35, and then it wa–at Nationals it was a 49.405, so there was a half tenth bump up of giving higher scores at Nationals, which I thought was really interesting.  Did you guys notice that vault seemed particularly tight and that floor seemed looser?  Or, did that not play out in your impressions?

 

UNCLE TIM: I think I noticed that vault was definitely lower, um, which made me happy. [laughs]

 

SPENCER: Yeah.

 

UNCLE TIM: ‘Cuz I usually judge people lower than I do during the regular season.  Floor I’m trying to think, did I notice it?  Yeah, I think I did.  Um, but I think I noticed it a little bit more during Super Six just because I might have been a little more intoxicated [laughs] during uh, [laughs] prelims.

 

SPENCER: What?  You?  I would never have known.

 

UNCLE TIM: Uhh, [laughs] so, yes.  I think I did notice it definitely during Super Six a little bit more.

 

JESSICA: I was–maybe I was just too busy screaming my head off at the judges for not giving 10s when I thought they were 10s, which were like three instance—or four of that.

SPENCER: Well, you said you were screaming at the vault judges, so maybe you subconsciously noticed […]

JESSICA: Yes.

SPENCER: […] that they were.

JESSICA: Yes.  That’s it.

SPENCER: No teams in semi-finals matched their season [unaudible] on floor.  Everyone was lower on vault.

JESSICA: There you go.  That’s why I was screaming my head off.  But yes, I did notice, in fact, and I was doing those calculations in my head.  ‘Cuz, as you know I’m a math whiz.

SPENCER: Exactly.

[Uncle Tim laughs]

JESSICA: And that is where my flailing and, um, competition injuries came in.

[laughter]

UNCLE TIM: Next we need to talk about the Super Six.  So, in the Super Six we had Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, LSU and Nebraska.  And obviously, the big outcome was the first tie in NCAA history with Florida tying with Oklahoma.  And Spencer, what were the individual performances that really stood out for you during the Super Six?

SPENCER: Um, I thought that—I think it was, the one person that stood out to me the most was Chayse Capps for Oklahoma.

JESSICA: Ahhh!

SPENCER: The …

JESSICA: Ahhh! Did you hear the angels singing when you mentioned her?

SPENCER: I know.

JESSICA: Oh good.

SPENCER: Yeah.  And, I, I think the thing I’m most impressed about Chayse Capps is that it’s a typical Oklahoma story in that I had—who had any idea that we were gonna see this gymnastics from her in her freshman year?  I remember looking through, sort of, the Level 10 videos of the Oklahoma freshman, and I saw Chayse Capps, and I saw her vault first of all, which I thought she had great distance, great power.  She was really gonna help them on vault.  I thought, beam?  Okay.  She has the skills.  It’s fine.  It’s regular.  Whatever.  And then on floor—well actually, the first thing I thought about her on floor was that she reminded me so much of Chelsie Memmel.  In her JO videos she had the same hair and she moved the same way.  And that’s another thing you would never know that, from watching her from Oklahoma.

[laughter]

SPENCER: She is a—is such a great performer and it is exciting to watch that, especially because it, it was so unexpected to see her of all that whole freshman class, with Mackenzie Wofford who was an elite and Cherry Jones who won the Nastia Liukin Cup before, it was pretty impressive to have a typical Oklahoma Ninja Level 10 come through and get 9.9s on three events throughout the whole competition.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah, she was pretty impressive on—yeah, on beam and floor she really stood out.  Uh, Jessica I know you’ve been praising her.  What was her performance like in person.  Was it—did it give you goosebumps?

JESSICA: Literally.  Literally, goosebumps.  The hair on my arms stood up.  She’s a just other-worldly you guys.  She’s gonna be, I’m, I’m calling her out now.  She’s gonna be a NCAA Champion multiple times over.  The, the pressure does not phase her.  She’s a performer.  She loves it.  She’s incredible to watch.  She has so much practice as a competitive dancer, and she’s, she’s one of those routines that you see her in videos and you’re like, wow.  That’s amazing.  And then you see her in person and you get goosebumps.  She’s incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  Untouchable.

UNCLE TIM: Nice.  And what about you?  What were you big performances that you really loved?  Anything about Brandie Jay you wanna…

JESSICA: [laughs] That was my favorite moment of the meet! [laughs] Oh my god!  Okay, well first, Rheagan Courville on floor totally redeemed herself.  She’s another one that in person her routine is incredible  She, like, she just came.  She brought it when she was doing that routine.  And, um, I hope you guys got to see Christy Linder’s amazing photos from this event.  When she crawls across the floor at the end, like, she looks like she’s gonna have you for dinner.  She is, like, so sensual during that routine.  Like, she’s just, like, owning it.  And her body, she’s like, [sighs] my god.  She’s, like, so hot.  And, um,

[Uncle Tim laughs]

JESSICA: She is!

UNCLE TIM: The butt smack.

[Jessica laughs]

UNCLE TIM: The butt smack after the first pass.

JESSICA: Right?  And somehow her butt smack does not offend me.

[laughter]

JESSICA: Because I feel like it’s not a pandering butt smack.  It’s like a, yes.  That’s right.  I know all about this.  And so do you now.

[laughter]

JESSICA: She—like how is it possible not to offend me with a butt smack in a competitive gymnastics routine?  I don’t know.  She is transcendent.  That’s all I can say.  She is the pop star of the, of the meet, but she’s like the Rihanna.  She’s the Rihanna, except with a better voice.  So, all of you Rihanna fans can hate on me for that, but that’s what she’s like.  Like, she’s just…oh my god.  Amazing.  And um, but in person even more.  And, like, sh—her landings.  Eee!  And she does this thing where shoots and arrow, and really, you—I found myself wanting to be like, ah!  Shoot me with the arrow! Ah! Yes!  I put my chest out.  I’m here.  Get me.

[laughter]

JESSICA: Because she’s just awesome.  I cannot say enough.  That’s another problem why I injured myself: thrusting myself at her floor routine.  Um, so, anywhoo […]

[Uncle Tim laughs]

JESSICA: I totally forgot what I was talk—oh yeah, yeah, yeah.  Um, the other person that str—that totally stands out is, uh, Milliner, but we can talk about her in event finals.  Brandie Jay [laughs], so you know.  Brandie Jay is an elite.  She was on the Pan Am team that won gold with Shawn Johnson when she came back.  She’s a badass.  She does a full—a full out on floor.  A full out.  Do you know how freaking a full out is?  And it’s so consistent.  She just throws it into her NCAA routine.  No biggie.  Um, so she [laughs] she goes to vault and, like, she goes straight up.  She landed, like, right next to the vaulting horse.  Straight up and does the fastest double twist you’ve ever seen in your life.  Just b-r-r-r-r.  And all of us—literally the entire front row is all, like, GGMBers and hard core fans.  It was the best front row ever, and I’ll tell you why later.  Um, and all of us looked at each other.  Simultaneously the entire front row looks at each other and goes, was that a double full?  Was that a double full?  She just did a double full.  And then her coach looks at her and, like, like, Dana, like, she comes down and she’s like, you just did a double full?

[laughter]

JESSICA: Like, everyone—and then she was like, she just kind of shook her head like, ahh.  And you guys know, you don’t block the same way for a double full.  You don’t—like, it’s a different vault.  Like, Evan and Scott Bregman were going on about this forever.  They’re just like, you don’t just accidentally do it.  It’s a whole different vault.  But then maybe, you know, if you’re Brandie Jay you just go so high anyway…or maybe she just in her head—I don’t even know what happened, but she looked surprised.  The coaches were surprised.  And it was a very happy accident.  But I don’t think there’s any, um, actual deduction for putting up the wrong vault, because as far as I know you just put the number for a Yurchenko; not for the actual vault itself.  I’m—correct me if I’m wrong.  Write in all you judges out there.  But, um, you know, she did have a big bounce out because I think she was a little surprised at herself.  But, um, it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and, like, one of the happiest fan moments that we have gotten.  ‘Cuz it’s been a long time since someone did a double full.  Uh, I don’t think anyone’s ever double full in Super Six, actually.  It’s been done in finals before, but I don’t think anyone’s—except maybe Marissa King…no, she always did a one and a half, right?  Um…

SPENCER: I think she did a Tsuk.

JESSICA: Yeah, so, it was really, really, really awesome.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah, I guess…so Elizabeth Grimsley—the person who writes for the Georgia newspaper—talked to Brandie after it—after the meet, and asked her about that.  And, I guess what happened was she, she kind of got lost in the air.  She squeezed her butt…

[Jessica laughs]

UNCLE TIM: …and, I guess, just squeezed too tight, or something.

[laughter]

UNCLE TIM: And, like, just pulled around a double full.  Ya know…’cuz when I squeeze my butt I just automatically, just pull double fulls out of my butt, literally.

[laughter]

UNCLE TIM: So, yeah.

JESSICA: [laughs] That is the magic of having elite haunches (sp??).  You just squeeze and [laughs] and you do an extra twist.

SPENCER: And a double full pops out.

[laughter]

SPENCER: Did you—I—could you see Brandie Jay’s face after she did that vault?

JESSICA: [laughs] Yes.

SPENCER: ‘Cuz we could on the broadcast.  I have never seen a gymnast look like that.  She was just abject confusion…

[Jessica laughs]

SPENCER: …and just, like, her hands were kind of up in the air.  She loo—it reminded me of, like, a little kid who just lost their mom at the mall.

[Jessica laughs]

SPENCER: And they’re like, what is happening?!  She just looked so, like, completely bewildered by what just happened.  It was the—it was my favorite part of the whole meet.  Seeing her face after she accidentally did a double full.

UNCLE TIM: [laugh] Yes, it was [laughs] it was pretty awesome.  Were there any other moments you guys wanted to talk about?

[Jessica sighs]

SPENCER: Um, Bridget Sloan’s beam routine from Super Six…

JESSICA: Yes.

SPENCER: …was another one of the standout moments, because it was the whole big story.  She fell at Regionals, and then you talked to Rhonda and she said, Bridget hasn’t been—she’s hit every single routine.  She’s never had a wobble and she’s gonna hit in Championships.  100% of course she is.  And then she comes up in Semi-Finals and has what may be the worst beam routine I’ve ever seen her do.  It was like…

[Jessica laughs]

SPENCER: …a fall and a wobble.  She landed short on the dismount, and it was like, this is Bridget Sloan?  Does she do that?

JESSICA: It was, like, comedic.  It was so messed up.

SPENCER: It was like—it was just from a different person.  And so, then she comes to Super Six and it’s like, the big routine because she had fallen on two in a row, and she’s Bridget Sloan.  And then, she had a look on her face before she did that routine like she was either gonna get a 20, or she just gonna, like, rip the beam outta the ground Incredible Hulk style, and like…

[laughter]

SPENCER: …throw it into the crowd.  And then, she nailed every single piece of acro, and then on the broadcast Kathy Johnson Clark was going full drama.  She was so excited.  She was like, this is the defining moment of a lifetime.

[Jessica laughs]

SPENCER: I—it was like, woah Kathy.

[laughter]

SPENCER: Don’t oversell it.  But then she finished.  It was so exciting.  And then she, like, almost ran into the beam when she was so excited to go find Rhonda and give her a hug.  And, it was, like, crazy, and really exciting because it felt like genuine enthusiasm.  Like, she was so relieve to have hit that routine.  I think sometimes in NCAA it’s like—people are really conscious about being enthusiastic for the rest of the team.  So it’s like, they land and they have to think, oh yeah.  I have to scream my head off now and be excited, and I am!  This was, like, really genuine.

JESSICA: That’s a really, really good point.  You know, someone who is big a, uh, elite fan, and not an NCAA fan was talking about how, you know, it’s manufactured enthusiasm.  And I was like, I was so offended by that.  But it is true that sometimes I feel like there is this, um, there’s an element of acting like you did a really great job, even if you didn’t, that’s more emphasized in NCAA than it is in elite.  You know, when Maroney doesn’t do a good job, she just stalks off like she’s gonna go stab someone.  Whereas in, in, uh, NCAA, even if you did the crappiest job, you’re so coached to, like, fist pump, and arch your back as far as you possibly can ‘til you cause an injury, and, um, it really stands out when someone does a genuine happy, uh, moment like that.  And, that was definitely one of ‘em.  And then she went and killed the bars because she was so badass.

SPENCER: Um, when I went to Pac-12s I made my sister go with me, who is not a gymnastics person at all, and the first reaction she had about NCAA gymnastics, she said, I don’t think I could have be an NCAA gymnast because I couldn’t be, like, yay!  What a terrible job!  Great job! Yay!  It was awful!

[laughter]

UNCLE TIM: Same.

SPENCER: I was like, oh.  I understand.  That is a reaction that I think people who don’t watch a lot of NCAA gymnastics have.  That they’re just so excited, even regardless of quality.

JESSICA: I think that’s one of those things though that, like, um, Mackenzie Caquatto was talking about when she was like, what would she change about elite, and what would she add into the elite program, was that having people that are, like, we believe in you and we have your back, even when you messed up.

SPENCER: Mmhmm.  Right.

JESSICA: Which, all the time looks like someone’s patting you on the back for, like, doing the worst job of your life.  But, it’s like, the thing is we’re not gonna punish you because you messed up.  Like, it’s like, that, that’s okay.  You’re gonna do it next time.  We believe that you can do it next time.  But, it definitely comes across, I think, as, um—and I’ve, like, some of the teammates do not believe it.  They’d rather punch their teammate in the face.  But they, um, you know, totally comes across as, um, you know, cheering for crap.  But I notice that in volleyball too.  They’re always smacking each other’s butts no matter what, and then I’m just like, oh, oh.  This is like the, you know, college salute.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah.  And then the Super Six really came down to the final routines.  We had Alabama on beam, Oklahoma on vault, and Florida was on floor.  Spencer, could you kind of set up things for our listeners who didn’t really get to watch.

SPENCER: Yeah.  It absolutely came down to the last rotation and the last routine.  Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma were all going into their final events all at the same time, basically tied.  And, Oklahoma was on vault.  Alabama was on beam, and Florida was on floor.  And, it was just back and forth; back and forth; back and forth.  Everyone was hitting. 9.9 here.  9.9 here. 9.9 there.  And it was thh—one of the, if not the most exciting rotations of gymnastics I’ve ever watched.

JESSICA: Yes.

 

SPENCER: Just because it came down to quarters of tenths, and not even that.  And then finally, um, it looked like Alabama was gonna win.  Uh, so, with two routines left they needed a 9.875 and a 9.9 in the last two routines to tie Oklahoma who had already finished on vault at that point.  And then…crazy falls.  Completely unexpected falls for Alabama.  They had, um, their leadoff, Deandre Milliner, fall on–who doesn’t fall.  She always looks petrified during her routines.  She always looks like she’s gonna fall.

 

[laughter]

 

SPENCER: But she’s so consistent.  And, she comes up, and then the very last routine Kim Jacobs fell on her press handstand mount, which was like…

 

JESSICA: Uhh [sighs].

 

SPENCER: I didn’t even..did that even…Kim Jacob doesn’t fall on her press handstand mount.  Um, and what was also really interesting about that, and that they were two seniors who had the falls in the last rotation of Super Six, and that’s really, really common.  And I think kind of understandable that the people who fall on beam are often seniors.  

 

JESSICA: Yup.

 

SPENCER: Um, two, two years ago when UCLA was ending on beam and [look up name] had that fall, um, and then Aisha Gerber also had a struggle routine, or got a 9.7 or something, which she never did, um, before then.  She was a senior.  It always seems it’s the seniors ‘cuz they’re just–they want it so much.  It’s their last routine.  There’s so much pressure.  You could just see that both of those mistakes were things that they never, ever do.

 

JESSICA: And that’s the thing–it’s such a good point you make because, the thing that’s going on here is, like, in elite you never know when someone’s routine is the last routine of their lives, of their career.  That’s it.  But in NCAA there’s a clock.  And it ends.  And it runs out.  And if you haven’t made event finals, or even if you have, this is the last routine of your competitive career, unless you’re one of those super outliers who goes back to elite, or goes back to Level 10.  It’s still not the same.  This is the last routine you’re ever allowed to do with your team.  Your last routine ever in college.  Period.  No matter what, you can’t go back.  You’re going–you’re about to mount the beam, and you are replaying your very first, you know, daddy and me tumbling class to your, you know, the end of your club career, to the first day you showed up as a freshman, and this is it.  Your last chance.  Like, they’re–I don’t, like Olympic finals for your team, and Olympic event finals can, I feel like, can be the only thing that compares to the amount of pressure, and putting that, that on, and really knowing for sure, no matter what, this is the last routine of your life.

 

UNCLE TIM: Yeah, I’m trying to think.  Al–but, but it happens to some people in elite though too.  I feel like Kim Zmeskal going into ‘92 really thought the Olympics was going to be her last meet, and then look what happened.  It wasn’t really her best meet ever.  Um, so yeah.  It’s one of those situations where you just, kind of, get ahead of yourself.  And then, so, we were talking a little bit about how Alabama fell, and it really came down to one final routine on floor by Bridgette Caquatto, and she had two errors in the meets leading up, and she hit her routine.  She did have a little bounce back on her double pike–the last, uh, pass.  Do you think she deserved a 9.95, which tied Oklahoma?  Spencer.

 

SPENCER: Um, my first reaction–I knew going into that routine that she needed a 9.975 to win, and then a 9.95 to tie.  I will say, after she finished that routine my first reaction was, Oklahoma just won the National Championship, because I thought, that’ll get a 9.9.  But, I–and I think there’s been some criticism.  Like, oh, Bridgette Caquatto didn’t deserve that score, so Oklahoma should’ve won outright.  But, I didn’t–I don’t think you can view it as just that one routine.  I think both teams got, like we already talked about, high scores on floor.  Um, th, that that was happening to both teams, so I don’t think you can just pinpoint it on that one routine.  But, I don’t think that was a 9.95.

 

JESSICA: So, let me tell you what was happening over on vault.  So, Oklahoma goes on vault.  So now, right, we’re thinking it’s a competition.  You’re like, Alabama’s kicking ass, and then Alabama has their first fall, and we’re like, holy crap.  Has Alabama taken themselves out?  Meanwhile, Oklahoma is vaulting and just slaughtering the vault.  You guys, it was so freaking exciting.  It was like everyone had the best vault of their entire lives in that instance; when it counted; when it mattered the most.  Every single competitor that landed went instantly burst into tears when they ran down to their team.  I, of course, was screaming bloody murder at the judges.  I think I yelled, “off with their heads” at one point, which I was like, what is this?

 

[Spencer laughs]

 

JESSICA: Alice in Wonderland?  I’ve never uttered those words in my life.  Like, I was just, like, beside myself because they were just so perfect in the moment when they needed it the most.  Like, so everyone’s bawling their eyes out when they’re running down the stairs, and they’re hitting, like, amazingly.  And then, we’re all sitting there–the whole front row is, like, GGMBers; lifelong fans.  And, we, um, the minute that Kim Jacob fell on beam, like, we leaned over to the coaches that were right underneath us, and were like, you won.  You won.  And then you were like, don’t!  We’re not sure yet because it coulda been Florida.  Like, Florida could still get a ten and they could win.  And we’re like, alright, okay maybe.  But that’s not gonna happen.  But Kytra was up, so we were like, oh crap! Kytra could get a ten.  But she’s not gonna get a ten.  So we watch Kytra; she doesn’t get her ten.  So we’re like, that’s it.  You won.  And they’re like, no!  Because, uh, Bridgette could go and she could still get a, uh, 9.975.  And we’re like there’s no way she’s getting a 9.975.  And so, literally, this is the conversation going on between the front row of fans at vault, and the coaches are yelling back and forth to each other.  And, like the coaches are trying not to get excited and the fans were, like losing it.  We’re like, ah!  [inaudible] And they’re like, no!  We have to stay calm.  Like, we can’t celebrate yet.  Like, we can’t celebrate yet.  We’re like, it’s [inaudible].  And so then we’re like, all, like, holding on—literally using our railing—and we’re holding onto it; gripping it, watching Bridgette do her routine.  And we’re like, there’s no way she’s gonna get a 10.  She’s not gonna get a 9.975.  And like, of course they put Bridgey up at the end because, like, she doesn’t have the difficulty.  She has a really great, clean routine.  She’s amazing.  I love watching her routine.   Um, I totally get into it.  Like, I totally want to do her little, like, eh eh eh, put your hand in the air thing.  Um, but you know.  It’s not—it’s strategy.  They put her at the end because they wanna bump her score up and put Kytra and Bridgette—and Bridgette, you know, in the beginning.  So, um, we’re like, no.  She’s not gonna get a 9.975.  So then she gets the 9.975, and we’re like you tied!  You tied!  You tied!  You did it!  And they’re like, what if there’s a tie breaker?  So, like, the Oklahoma coaches were refusing to celebrate, and all the fans were like, Oh my god!  It’s the first time!  And poor, like, Oklahoma corral.  The gymnasts were in this corral and were not allowed to come out ‘cuz it’s the NCAA Championships, and you have to stay in your corral.  And the gymnasts are, like, instantly, like bawling their eyes out, and then just holding hands and, like, staring at each other, like, [breaths in], hold your emotion!  And like, KJ is just standing there staring straight ahead.  Like, she was just, like, I will not be distracted.  I will not let any of my emotions out yet.  I have to just wait.  I’m just gonna stand here and wait, and at some point I will be a National Championship coach.  The, like, assistant coach is , like, running around, and are like, I don’t know…is there a tie-breaker?  And they’re asking us in the stands, and like, one of the guys is like, totally doing the math over and over and [inaudible] all the scores.  And he’s like, no.  For sure you tied.  There’s not tie-breakers.  Does anybody know if there’s a tie-breaker?  Where was the Oklahoma SID—Sports Information Director?  That’s their job—to know this.  The Sports Information Director’s supposed to give the public the information and know all the rules so they can tell someone, so when something like this happens—Sports Information Director’s like, nowhere to be seen.  So, they’re like, looking on the College B—Gymnastics Board, like, message board.  Like, someone just said there is a tie-breaker.  We’re like, oh crap!  Then, so the guy in the front row is, like, re-doing all the math, and he’s like, well what would the tie-breaker be, and so all of us are guessing.  Like, no one knows.  Like, the coach is like, I have no idea what it is.  So, um, he’s like, I don’t know.  This has never happened before, right?  And we’re like, no!  It’s never happened before.  So we’re going back and forth…so the guy in front row re-does the math, and he’s like, well I don’t know.  Do they add in the sixth score?  Because that’s what they do in prelims to break the tie…so they would add the competitor because it’s five up—it’s six up, five count.  So, maybe you add in the last score from every single event—you add in the sixth person.  So, he re-does that and he’s like, oh my god!  If they add in the sixth score then Florida wins by .025.  And then, of course, Oklahoma coach is like, oh no!  And then this woman from the NCAA—this is the most despicable moment of the entire story you guys—this woman from the NCAA comes over and is like, oh yes.  There is a tie-breaker.  So now, like, they’re like, oh my god…this can’t be.  And we’re like, no!  She, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about!  Like, we’re just like, no, no no.  This can’t be.  There’s gonna be a tie.  There’s gonna be a tie.  So, like, seriously if felt like ten minutes of standing there, like, going–the fans going back and forth, and like, re-calculating the math, and uh, the coaches trying to look at the rules on their phones, and the SID, you know, being totally MIA and being nowhere to be found.  And the poor, like, gymnasts just holding onto each other for dear life, like, please, please let us have won.  Finally, Adrian from the Florida team—one of the coaches, runs across the floor, leaping, hurdling, like, obstacles—runs to the Oklahoma coaches and yells, “We tied!  We tied!  They’re not gonna break the tie!  It’s a tie!  It’s a tie!  You won!  You won!”  And so, thank god for Adrian.  And then everyone was, like, bursting into tears, and we’re all crying and cheering, and Oklahoma—oh my god!  It was so exciting you guys!  I just love that team, and I’m so happy for them.  Ties are the way to go!  [sighs]

[children cheer]

JESSICA: That’s what happened.

UNCLE TIM:  I don’t know how to react to that.

[laughter]

UNCLE TIM: That was a lotta energy right there.

JESSICA: It was so exciting! [sighs]

SPENCER: How do you really feel about it?

[laughter]

JESSICA: I probably got more of my bruises…I mean, I have, like, a bruise on my knuckles.  How do you get—and like, cuts…how do you get that?  [laughs] Like, did I punch someone you think?

UNCLE TIM: I don’t know.  I went to Cirque with you, and you were very excitable at Cirque, so…I can see how during this moment you’d a been flailing and hitting things, and grabbing railings, and yeah.  I can see.  You probably left scratches on other people too.  Spencer, do you feel like they should’ve broken the tie?

SPENCER: Um, I kind of—I’m okay with the fact that there was a tie.  I wasn’t at first because I don’t have, uh, feelings or a soul or a heart or anything, and I’m like, one winner.  But, the fact that it was Oklahoma kind of makes it okay for me, because if they had broken the tie and gone with the sixth score, Florida would have won by a quarter tenth, and I feel like Oklahoma performed the gymnastics worthy of winning a National Championship, so if they hadn’t—if they had been bumped down, that would have felt like they had been cheated.  But, sort of on principle, on I have trouble with ties ‘cuz I think they’re, kind of, a let down—especially if you’re just a fan watching at home.  Um, ‘cuz it’s kind of like, oh they’re going back and forth.  Who’s gonna win?  Who’s gonna win?  And then it’s like, oh they both are…fun…which is great for them.  It’s kind of like…we have two winners now.  I don’t know how I would feel if it had been different teams.  I think I would be more frustrated by having a tie, but because it was Oklahoma and Florida, I’m kind of just happy about it.

JESSICA: Do you guys think this is the end of dynasties, since we’ve had other—first time ever, first time in school history, first time NCAA gymnastics winner?

SPENCER: Well, it’s also Florida’s second time in a row winning though.

JESSICA: True.  But second year in a row with a first time winner.

SPENCER: Yeah.  I think it’s less likely now.  I don’t think it’s the end, because there are more teams capable of winning now.  I don’t think, we—we’re not really replacing things in terms of the big four that we used to have with Georgia and Utaha and Alabama and UCLA.  They’re still all there.  It’s just there’s more.  So, I think it’s less likely, but given the elites—the top elites still tend to come to the same few schools, and as long as that’s happening I think the possibility for a dynasty is still there.

JESSICA: Uncle Tim?

UNCLE TIM: I agree that the possibility’s still there, and I think—I mean, it’s not going to just blow open the doors.  You know, the 23rd team in the nation is suddenly going to be able to challenge for the NCAA title.  I think there is still—yes, the coaches whenever you listen to the press conferences before this meet they’re like, oh the parity.  There’s so much parity.  Blah blah blah, blah blah.  If I have to hear the word parity one more time before NCAA Championships I will probably hang one of the coaches by their toenails and beat them with a wet noodle.

[Spencer laughs]

UNCLE TIM: Um, and…yeah.  And so, it’s just…I, I don’t know.  I don’t think that there is suddenly going to be this totally equal playing field.  I mean, you’re still going to have the Rutgers that will celebrate the fact that they had one gymnast qualify for the NCAA Championships in the All Around.  You’re not gonna have those teams suddenly vying for the top spot.

JESSICA: I think they have been talking about parity for the last, like four to six years, and you constantly hear about it, and then nothing changed.  It was always Alabama, Georgia, but then Utah and, uh, UCLA in 2010, and then, but now two years in a row we had a first time ever winner.  Two years in a row.  That is just—I feel like it’s the end.  I feel like this is the end of dynasties.  Even if it is two times in a row for Florida, like, a tie is great.  I, I really feel that this is it, because really you have—I mean you have this, like we talked about, these ninja Level 10s.  Like, Level 10s now, like Oklahoma has, like, it’s basically like the WOGA team who were like, eh, elite?  Not so much for me.  I just wanna be a Level 10.  Like, they are incredible.  Like, they could be elites if they wanted to be.  They decided to stay Level 10s and be ninjas, and win a National Championship, and this—its just, it’s really true now.  And it’s really come to fruition, and I totally think it’s the end despite what you two say, so [grunts].

SPENCER: Um, but who—do you think there’s another team on the horizon, like, LSU…

JESSICA: Yup.

SPENCER: …that’s gonna be the next first time winner?  ‘Cuz Oklahoma has been right there for so many years.  They finished second twice within, like, three or four years, so they’re always right there.  But, I don’t see a lot of other teams besides LSU where it’s like, oh, they’re gonna win a National Championship one of these days.

JESSICA: LSU is definitely one, especially with they—you know, Jay’s like the master recruiter with his t-shirts that say, “I want you” you know, “LSU wants you” and all this stuff.  And, uh, the people that they’re bringing in are just—like, they’re just incredible recruiting classes, and um, I, I think that LSU is absolutely the next team.  And then, also the other team that I feel like—i—ha—I don’t know what needs to happen, what needs to be changed, but honestly, I feel like, uh, Stanford.  I know that’s shocking, but Stanford, and—which by the way, is the only school that is in the top ten academically and in gymnastics, which is a huge accomplishment—real schooling.  Um, I’m just saying.  And, um, Oregon State.  Oregon State could totally win.  I don’t know what’s going on there, why they keep failing, but Stanford and Oregon State.  LSU for sure.  If they had cleaned up beam, they would’ve won.  Period.

SPENCER: Yeah.  LSU is really one to watch out for for next season.  I was already thinking about this ‘cuz Championships are over, so I’m immediately thinking about next season.  And they’re bringing—do you remember, um, from Vis—er, not Visa Championships anymore, but elite US Championships last year, Erin Macadaeg?

JESSICA: Yes.

SPENCER: She didn’t finish that well but she was really clean.  Everyone really liked her.  She’s coming to LSU next year, and I particularly liked her on beam.  And I just think with her, and then they have Ashley Matt, and Rheagan Courville, and Jessie Jordan; they’ll have all of them on beam next year.  It’s like, they’ve got that figured out.

JESSICA: Yup.

SPENCER: They’re fixing that.

JESSICA: Yup.  And that’s their only weak spot.  Honestly.  And they, I mean, honestly, afterwards—like, when they were outside getting on their bus, they were, like, in a haze of, I can’t believe that this happened, and we didn’t win.  And, they are gonna be so fired up for next year.  They absolute—they want it.  They want it really, really bad.  And, of course, they have their little ninja coach Dedee Breaux, who’s gonna make it happen.

UNCLE TIM: Who is National Coach of the Year.

JESSICA: Which she totally deserves

SPENCER: Yes.

JESSICA: She’s so positive you guys.  Like, honestly she came over—I mean, one, one of the first people to come over to congrat—besides Adrian, the Florida coach coming over, which I love.  Such a great show of sportsmanship that he was just as excited for Oklahoma as he was for his own team, um, that he wanted to relieve their pain over there of them not knowing.  Um, Dedee Breaux was one of the first people that came over and congratulated, and you know, gave all the Oklahoma coaching staff huge hugs.  And, um, all the coaches came over and congratulated them, and it was just so great to see how, like, all the compliments they got, and how happy—you know, because it benefits everybody when there’s a new winner.  And, they know they totally freakin’ deserved it, and they earned it.  So, Dedee Breaux’s gonna make it happen.  Like, she will not, like, there—nothing—her life, I feel like, is just on pause until she wins this.  Like, if she…

[Uncle Tim laughs]

JESSICA: If it takes ‘til, like, 110, she will live to be 110 years old.

[Uncle Tim laughs]

JESSICA: That’s what she will do.  It doesn’t matter.  She’s gonna win.

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] With that, let’s quickly talk about the Event Finals.  Um, coming in first on vault, there was a tie for Rheagan Courville of LSU and Katherine Grable of Arkansas.  And that was Arkansas’s first, uh, National title ever in its school history, which is pretty exciting.  And then on bars first was Bridget Sloan.  On beam, first was Taylor Spears, and on floor Katherine Grable won.  She was a double winner this weekend.

[crowd cheers]

UNCLE TIM: Yaaaaaay!  I know.  So, what were some of the big skills that you were flailing over Jessica?

JESSICA: [laughs] Well, first of all, um, let’s see…um, Utah’s Nansy Deminova, who is a 2008 Olympian for Canada.  She upgra—well, she warmed up her Arabian on floor, and then I don’t know what happened.  Something bizarre happened.  She just psyched herself out, or got nervous.  I don’t know, but she just did a double back for her first pass, and then, like, it was just—she psyched herself out and the whole rest of the team was kind of a mess.  Um, but, the other upgrades were Deandra Milliner, who does this awesome Hunger Games routine, which her routine starts with [sings routine music], like twice.  The refrain of The Hunger Games, which I just love.   And then she jus—she shoots and arrow into the corner and then tumbles.  So, she’s just a total badass.  And she did a piked full-in, which is gorgeous.  Like, she just lands, like, perfectly.  Like, boop.  Like, she’s maybe—I don’t know, like three degree angle tilted forward.  You know.  So, when she lands she’s just incredible and I have a lot of respect for her.  She—she did such a great routine.  Um, and then…who else had an upgrade?  I feel like someone threw something extra on beam that I’m totally forgetting.  There was a 1 ½ on vault–a new 1 ½.  I feel like Jessie Jordan…maybe upgraded her vault to 1 ½.  And then, oh, what is the one on beam?  Someone, someone remind me.  Somebody put in something extra.

 

SPENCER: I didn’t notice anyone on beam do an upgrade

 

JESSICA: A–like, aerial to two feet?  Like, a Barani?

 

SPENCER: I may not have noticed and someone upgraded, and I was just like, she’s always done it that way.  Probably.  Um…

 

JESSICA: Or maybe it was like, she does a, I don’t know, she does it off and on through the season and she put it in then.  I don’t know.  Someone will recognize it and tell us.

 

SPENCER: Yeah.

 

JESSICA: Gymternet, help us out here.

 

UNCLE TIM: Great.  And so, I guess, the big thing the gymternet is talking about right now is the balance beam final.

 

[Jessica gasps]

 

UNCLE TIM: There was very…yes.  Jessica why don’t you–I mean, obviously you have a lot of feels about this.

 

JESSICA: So many feels!

 

UNCLE TIM: So why don’t you tell us what happened.

 

JESSICA: [gasps] [inaudible] [sighs] You’re–okay, first..

 

UNCLE TIM: Let me, let me give you words first Jess [laughs].  So, Taylor Spears won.  Um, she got a 9.925 I wanna say.  And, Lindsey Cheek came in second with a 9.9.  Alright, now go ahead Jessica and let out your tirade.

 

JESSICA: First of all, Taylor Spears–absolutely gorgeous.  Totally deserved to win.  Completely deserved to win.  Taylor Spears, you are a beam goddess.  You will go down in history as one of the greatest, most confident, most fluid beam workers of all time.  Hats off to you.  Since my Lindsay Mable could not make the beam final because she fell, the gym gods didn’t wish it for this year for some reason, because maybe next year she’s gonna add in, like, seven extra flips and still win.  Who knows?  Um, but, um, also because Hanna Norquist couldn’t win, who’s also absolutely stunning, and as we know, uh, Katherine–Katherine?  Kathy Johnson had an audible orgasm during her routine last year.  Um, she does the aerial layout, and she’s just, oh my god!  She so perfect on beam.  And, if you guys noticed [sighs] no construction worker bedazzled back brace this year.  Hmm?  They’re doin’ things right over there.

 

UNCLE TIM: For Minnesota.  Yeah.

 

JESSICA: For Minnesota.  Yup.  They looked–they had these, like, backless leos with, like, pink, which I was–eh, you know how I feel about pink.  But, I love the backless leo.  And, they were throwback leos.  They were velvet–crushed velvet, which, hey, you don’t see that a lot anymore.  They definitely stood out.

 

SPENCER: [inaudible]

 

JESSICA: Yup.  Um, but Hanna Norquist was just so amazing.  So, I mean, she just looked like, talk about, you know, like, the whole ripping the beam out of the floor.  Like, Hannah Norquist looks so pissed.  I mean, Lindsay Mable and Hanna Norquist are destined.  Someday it’s gonna happen, and they’re gonna win.  They’re gonna be like the Arizona, and they’re gonna win that event, because they were born to do this, and Meg Stephenson was born to coach a national champion on beam and on floor.  Um, but anywhoo, I digress.  [sighs]  What was I talking about?  Oh, okay.  Lindsey Cheek.  If I was, like, a gorilla, I would, like, be, like, pulling trees down.

 

[laughter]

 

JESSICA: Like, pulling them up by their roots, and like, throwing them.  I’m, like, Lindsey Cheek is so freaking good.  She is so underscored.  And I don’t care if she’s only underscored by one tenth.  It’s one tenth too much!  She’s so robbed.  And, and she even does her, you know, the, the, the, uh, moonwalk, which I can’t stand ‘cuz I feel like it’s totally overused, but I don’t care.  I look past it because I love the whole rest of her routine.  I love the choreography.  She’s so good!  You guys, where was the freakin’ deduction?  Where was the deduction?  I demand for someone to show me where the deduction was, because she should have tied with Taylor Spears.  She should have gotten a higher score on all of her vaults.  It is a to–she is the most robbed gymnast of the entire year this year.  It’s totally unacceptable.  Besides asterisks on the whole vault final where Austin Sheppard should be–broken foot, may you rest in peace.  That bone; please heal soon.  Um, honestly, it’s, it, I’m so, I was so mad.  Like, uhh.  I [sighs] I don’t know.  Why?!  Why?!  Someone explain it to me!  It’s not fair!  

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] Spencer, can you explain it to her?

 

SPENCER: I cannot explain it to her.  I thought Lindsey Cheek’s routine–if it were the, the regular season–especially in Georgia, like, it would’ve gotten a 35.

 

[laughter]

 

SPENCER: It was perfect from beginning to end.  And her–it’s a switch though.  Yeah.  It’s a switch side that she does, is–no one has ever done the switch side better than she does.  I could watch that skill all day long.  Ah, it was so good.  But, I mean it’s hard because Taylor Spears was great too, and that was an amazing routine.  But, so you don’t be like, that Taylor Spears.  How dare she win beam finals?  ‘Cuz she’s great, but it wasn’t Lindsey Cheek’s routine.

 

UNCLE TIM: It’s true.  I thought that Taylor Spears, she maybe had a little more difficulty in the sense that she did the Onodi, and she also connected that to a Korbut.  Um, but her leaps I just didn’t think were quite as good, and I kind of harped on Oklahoma’s leaps last year on balance beam on, um, just throughout the meets and the National Championships.  And, this year again I feel like they’re just a little more hesitant on their leaps, and not quite doing really good extension, but I thought Lindsey Cheek’s were a lot better, so she–I mean, obviously she didn’t do the Onodi and get Jessica’s, um, non-existent difficulty bonus.  Um…

 

JESSICA: That’s right.

 

UNCLE TIM: But, so yes.  But, I did think that she had the better leaps and was just overall more confident during her routine.  So, oh well.  You know.  You can’t really change history now.  But, you know, I’m, I mean I guess it’s good that Taylor Spears won and Oklahoma was recognized for their awesome beam work after having a really rough year–rough Nationals last year where barely anyone made, uh, beam finals.  So…yeah.

 

JESSICA: One think I just have to say about Lindsey Cheek that I just have to sing her praises once more is that no matter what the pressure is, she delivers the exact same routine.  You know that she has it in her head that she should be getting a 10.  You know she’s pissed, right?  But it does not affect her per–performance.  She never overdoes it.  She never tries to be like, so perfect, and just concentrate–concentrates on that so it messes up her performance.  Like, you could take a video of her and then just plunk that routine into any day of the week; any competition, no matter if it’s her, her intra-squad video from pre-season, or if it’s event finals at NCAAs.  She does exactly the same routine, and that is freaking amazing.  Her ability to handle pressure is amazing.  Like, whatever she has in her veins, like, we need to extract that and give it to, like, you know, all the scientists and people doing important work so that they can be as steady-nerved as she is.  Steady-nerved.  That’s a new word I invented.

 

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] I have nothing to add, so I think we’re kind of done yammering on about, uh, NCAAs.  What about you Jess?

 

JESSICA: I wanna yammer on a little bit more about…

 

[laughter]

 

JESSICA: …Kat Grable’s floor.  Totally the correct winner, because obviously Chayse Capps, uh, should’ve won, but she had a little on her second–well she, you know, she, her second pass.  But she covered up very well by doing, sort of, a, a sideways exaggerated college salute to lunge thingy, but, you know, she, she has–she’s only a freshman.  You know, she performed like a super senior, but she’s only a freshman, so we have more to look forward to from her.  Um, Kat Grable did, of course, her patented arabian double front half out, which as we know, the only–as I mentioned before, the only other person who was doing that in modern history was, uh, Uchimura did it piked, which is like, she’s doing the same skill in NCAA that Uchimura’s doing?  What?  Sick!

 

UNCLE TIM: And Eddie Penev of Stanford does it laid out.

 

JESSICA: Which is super badass too.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

JESSICA: Um, [sighs] totally distracted now.  Something about laid out skills.

 

UNCLE TIM: Kat Grable.  Think about Kat Grable.

 

JESSICA: Um, so the other thing I wanted to say was I, I think that the, the vault, um–this was one of the first times we’ve seen a, a, she does a Podkopayeva.  So, she does a half on, um, like, front pike–front layout, half off, and it’s just beautiful.  She does a great job, and we rarely see a vault other than a Yurkchenko full win, so I think it was great to see that.  I think that Marissa King was last with a Yurchenko one and a half, or a Tsuk one and a half?  Um…

 

SPENCER: Yeah.

 

JESSICA: …so it was great to see that.  I think the judging was really good on that event despite the fact that Lindsay Mable [sighs] I just–you know how I feel about Lindsay Mable.  And she’s just so fantastic, and I just think they didn’t give it to her because of the power part of it.  I mean, I think you, you know, couldn’t really take anything away from her vault, but when you have Rheagan Courville who’s doing the same vault and lands literally, like, three full body distances away from where Lindsay Mable lands, and it’s like, eh, okay.  Well, I can kind of see that.  Um, what else did I wanna say about that?  Um, I al–I mean, Bridget Sloan did a fantastic job.  I think Sam Shapiro was excellent, excellent on bars.  I really–I just…her form is just to die for.  You could take a picture of her at any point in her routine, and her form is absolutely perfect.  Um, and I was just so excited to see a fantastic competition where there were hardly any falls.  I mean, honestly, in this entire meet there were maybe–in like, the finals, between Saturday and Sunday there were maybe, like, six falls total.  You know?  That’s pretty, that’s pretty good average for a gymnastics meet.  It was great, great, great gymnastics.  People really performing to their, to the absolute utter perfection.  It was just great to see people going out that way.  I loved it.  Loved it.  Oh, I have to mention the other person who I absolutely feel in love with, who’s an individual from Sac State.  She’s the first ever competitor from Sac State to make it to NCAA Championships, is Kalliah McCartney from Washington–Washington state.  She is 5’7’’.  Holla!  And, um, she made it in the All Around.  She is just one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.  So clean.  So perfect.  We put up a video of her from earlier in the season in our playlist, so you guys can check her out.  My god.  She’s one of those gymnasts that I–you could not stop looking at her, and honestly, I was like, who is that?  How is she not on one of these, you know, teams?  Like, Oklahoma…I’m sure she’s like, totally Oklahoma gymnast.  Like, long, lean, flexible, perfect lines.  Um, I think every coach there was jealous that Sac State got this amazing competitor, so hats off you.  Um, she was great.  Anything else you think we should discuss?  Um, Spencer?

 

SPENCER: The only other thing that I really noticed–or I was really impressed by was just the high quality in event finals throughout all of them, which we don’t usually see, ‘cuz it’s the third day in a row and everyone’s sort of dragging and can barely get off the floor.  Can barely do a vault…and we saw, I think last year we saw, like, two sticks in vault finals, and everyone was sticking in vault finals this year.  And it’s so much great tumbling for all the people who were tied right behind Katherine Grable on floor.  I was just really impressed that they were able to come up with such strong routines on the third day when they should’ve been, like, dripping off the floor with exhaustion.

 

JESSICA: [laughs] Yes.  And people were up ‘til like–I mean, Oklahoma were with us until, like, three in the morning the night before.  So, the fact that they got up and competed, and then won stuff…they’re just amazing.  They’re incredible.  All these women are just absolutely superstars.  Oh, I know what I wanted to talk about. Security.  So, you know how last year I complained about security–how you could just walk in with your luggage.  Well, that happened again.  No on checked anything.  And then I was in media area–no one asked for my credentials when I went to the media area.  Someone wanted to check my bag to see if, you know, I was carrying anything in my bag that I shouldn’t have in there.  But, not anywere on my person, and not anywhere in the giant container of, uh, takeout food that I was taking into Christy Linder so she could eat because the NCAA doesn’t provide any food, unlike USA Gymnastics, which does.  Thank you very much.  And, all normal events provide food for the media because they can’t leave.  They’re there from, like, the crack of dawn in the morning until, like, 2 am.  So, NCAA, seriously?  Like, oh I don’t know…out of your billions maybe you could kick down a sandwich for all the people covering your event free.

 

UNCLE TIM: So, last year they did have it.  Um, it’s a question of when the food is available and, and if you are really out there for every single rotation, and you don’t stop in the middle of a rotation, then you miss out on the food.  ‘Cuz I definitely missed out on the food last year.

 

JESSICA: Unacceptable.  They should have food out all the time because they have enough money to make that happen.  So,tsk tsk NCAA.  And, not only did they not–you know, they checked my bag, but they didn’t ask for my credential at all, um, after I walked into the media area, put the food down, left a bag there unattended, and then walked out, I walked directly into the media sign and knocked it over along with the easel making a giant crashing noise in front of everyone working on their computers in the back.  Thank you very much.  That was me.  I just wanted to make sure everyone knew I was there.  Um, after I, you know, picked that stuff up in the back, um, then I was walking out towards the floor and, like, again no one asking for credentials.  No one looking in security.  But, there was a dude there warning everybody: make sure you put a sticker over that Adidas thing.  Make sure you put a sticker over that Adidas–or, um, you know Reebok logo that you have on your shorts.  Um, you know, so like, you can basically take a gun or a bomb into directly onto the floor or as a spectator into the arena, but make sure you don’t have a logo that’s not the official sponsor of the NCAAs.  Mm.  The security is a total joke, and it makes me sick.  And, I’m, I really?  They can’t afford one person to actually make sure that people aren’t carrying stuff in?  It’s, it’s a tragedy waiting to happen is all I’m saying.  So, once again, NCAA [makes mouth fart].  Did that farting noise come across that I just made?

 

UNCLE TIM: Yes.

 

SPENCER: Loud and clear.

 

JESSICA: Good.  I’m glad.

 

———————

 

[segment change beeps]

 

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

 

JESSICA: Visit EliteSportzBand.com.  That’s Sportz with a Z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code “Gymcast.”

 

UNCLE TIM: You can also contact us if you missed us a lot over the next two weeks.  Um, we love reading your feedback.  Um, so please send us emails at gymcastic@gmail.com.  We read all of them.  Sometimes it takes us a little while to get back to you, but we do get back to you.  Um, you can also leave us a voicemail by calling us at 415-800-3191.  Or you can call us free from anywhere in the world.  Um, just use skype.  Our username is GymcasticPodcast.  And as Jessica already stated, you can follow us on many, many, many social media channels.  Uh, you can follow us on Twitter, Tumbler, Facebook, Instagram, Google+.  Am I missing anything?  Not that I can think of.  So, follow everywhere that you are, because we’re probably there as well.  And, with that we want to a great next two weeks.  We’ll miss you guys.

 

JESSICA: Thank you so much for listening.  Make sure to check out our YouTube playlist.  Watch the routines that we’re talkin’ about this week.  And we will see you in two weeks after our breaky-poo.  And, ‘til then, I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.

 

[salsa music]

 

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

 

SPENCER: I’m Spencer from The Balance Beam Situation.

 

JESSICA: See you guys in two weeks!

 

[salsa music to close]

 

JESSICA: The Korea Cup?  Is that what it was?

 

UNCLE TIM: The Korean Cup.  Yeah.  Which was not an FIG event.

 

JESSICA: They just somehow got everybody to show up.

 

[Uncle Tim laughs]

 

UNCLE TIM: So yeah–I don’t really know how that worked.

 

JESSICA: I hope they just, like, uh, uh, gave them filthy amounts of money and that’s how it worked out.  Ah, okay.  Here we go.

 

UNCLE TIM:

 

JESSICA: This week  Llubijan–oh shit.

 

[laughter]

[/expand]

 

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