Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Broadmoor Open

Nathan Chen, my first and only adopted son, nailed his free skate at the Broadmoor Open. Nathan's skating skills, extension and performance ability have even improved since Nationals. This boy is spectacular!

Agnes Zawadzki unveiled her new short program and performed her triple toe+triple toe in competition. She also landed a gorgeous real triple lutz and an ina bauer+double axel for a 58+ (impressive for a club competition.) Our Polish American is showing fantastic consistency and much improved performance ability. Her debut on the Grand Prix looks promising. Agnes needs to address her speed and skating skills, which remains a problem for all Tom Z students. With Ryan Jahnke coaching at the rink (as well as pair and dance coaches), there should be plenty of coaches able to fix this issue. At present time, Agnes is Alexe Gilles with jumps.

Make It Or Break It: Coach of the Year

Mr. Tanner wants Sasha Belov out of the Rock and he's absolutely right. Belov is an awful coach. That is if you can even call him a coach. When is the last time you saw him spotting or teaching a skill? Payson is killing herself on vault, yet she isn't being spotted. Nor is she even vaulting into the pit. See, Sasha is always in his offices lusting after his virgin bride and thinking up new inspirational speeches that the girls will disregard immediately.

Sasha Belov is a doormat. He isn't even worthy of being from Bed, Bath & Beyond. As a coach, he's from the clearance rack at Walmart. Sasha is an Olympian and knows what it takes to make a team, yet he pisses off the National Staff. As a supposed European, one would think he would know that you don't piss off the powerful. He leads the girls in the Johnny Weir school of famewhoring, yet we all saw where that got him in Vancouver.

How many times did the six pack ever disrespect Bela Karolyi? How many of them lived to chalk up in his gym another day? By having no authority, Sasha lacks credibility. In the real world, the girls would have left his sorry ass a long time ago. Mr. Tanner wouldn't wait to find another coach, he'd move his daughter to Denver and be done with it. Kaylie's mother would do the right thing and keep banging Marty.

Even Payson, the insufferable goodie two shoes, is flipping Sasha the bird and petitioning onto the team even though everyone knows she isn't ready. We can only hope the NGO does the right thing and tells her ''you'd make an excellent college gymnast."

There are never any lasting consequences on this show. Payson broke her back, but a miraculous experimental surgery healed it. Unfortunately, she has grown an inch and is devastated. According to her mother, her breasts grew too. Mrs. Keeler left out her growing a third ass.

Emily Kmetko is having financial problems again, but doesn't want her mother taking any of Mr. Tanner's money. Somehow Emily managed to become an elite gymnast from swinging on a playground. She is by far the dumbest of the group and always has lines such as ''Do you think Sasha might not be right?" "What about my scholarship?" Oh girl, you need to look out for yourself a little more and stop focusing on how 'amazing' everything is. The National Staff doesn't even take her seriously, yet they're taking her to France.

Lauren whines about Kaylie being spoiled and having everything handed to her, yet she implored her father to buy her onto the team competing in France. See, some people might have gotten the idea that Lauren is now third at the Rock, but it's only because she hurt her ankle. Oh Lo, third at the Rock doesn't mean shit internationally. Truth is, Lauren cares way more about boys, sex, drama and shopping. Even Carter tells her that she is more competitive off the mats than she is on them.

Oh Carter, he's so dreamy. On what planet are all of the male gymnasts long, lean and toned? Where are the Jonathan Horton's? The gorillas seem to be back where they belong in the cages at the Bronx Zoo. Someone finally picked Lauren over Kaylie, but did he really? Carter subtly gave Lauren the kiss of death when he asked her 'Why do we have to label things?' Ouch! He also slipped and said that they were sleeping together before he mentioned them being in a relationship together. Lauren keeps putting out, yet we know his love lies with Kaylie.

Kaylie looked all glam in her photo shoot, yet her gymnastics is still being performed by the insufferable and fugtastic Ariana Berlin. Her dad didn't know about the girls being suspended from the National Team, yet Kaylie admits he'd go ballistic.

Kaylie is finally going to France being the nation's top ranked gymnast. Yet, it may only be because Kelly Parker is injured and won't be making the trip. Emily is going and Damon is somewhere in Europe touring. Somehow, they'll likely meet up or be in the same place and keep missing each other. Because Europe is really just the size of Boulder.

Maybe the girls will finally win an international meet? It isn't like the French are actually any good.

Catch up on Make It Or Break It on Hulu.

This and That

Jennifer Capriati's roller coaster life continues, as she is in the hospital after suffering an accidental overdose via prescription drugs. Capriati admits to suffering from depression and having suicidal thoughts. Jennifer's ex, Dale DaBone, blames a 'perfect storm' for her downward spiral. He blames her ailing tennis career, sports-related injuries for which prescription meds were prescribed and her hysterical reaction to his decision to return to the porn industry to film Batman XXX: A Porn Parody. Jennifer and Dale dated for six years. He has previously starred in 443 adult films.

Adam Rippon is one of the most buzzed about skaters in the world. With his great all-around skating, beautiful spins, natural line and Rippon Lutz, much has become expected of him. Adam has worked with the best: first Morozov and now Orser/Wilson/Wilson. Last season, his music choices were relatively unique.

Following several buzzed about performances that demonstrated his competitive mettle,(2008 Junior Nationals, 2008 Junior Worlds, 2009 Junior Worlds, 2010 Four Continents, 2010 Worlds), Adam is going the route of using Sasha Cohen-level warhorses for the new season. For his short he'll be skating to Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet and his long will be performed to Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.2. While both are great pieces of music, Adam is opening himself up to a great deal of criticism to performing to such common skating music.

Adam's interest in Piano Concerto No. 2 appears genuine. It is a phenomenal piece and he claims that he listens to it every day. In many ways, Adam's programs could serve as a test of how good a choreographer David Wilson actually is. IJS technical components may limit Wilson's creativity, but this will serve as a test of whether Adam and David can create a truly unique and memorable program.

Adam is vowing to include a Quad Toe in his long program this season. We saw him training it during his monitoring session last summer. It is really imperative for Adam to have a good season and prove himself once again. Adam is known for bringing it at the big international events, but medaling at the Grand Prix is something that he needs to accomplish this year. (Read about his programs.)

Team Orser is doing its best to pace Christina Gao. My adopted daughter will once again skate on the Junior Grand Prix. Already becoming a 'name' skater, Christina will be expected to win her events this year. Skating on the JGP could test and fortify her mental strength. This season, my adopted daughter will be skating to the beloved Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto for her short program and Yellow River Piano Concerto for her long. While I am so over each and every Chinese and/or Chinese-American skater performing to Yellow River, Christina earns brownie points with me for re-watching Michelle Kwan's performances repeatedly on youtube (just like her daddy!) Christina, who I've always felt resembles MK prior to the artistic transformation, is working on achieving MK levels of polish and artistry this season. Both Rippon and Gao work on spins and jumps with specialists and are improving their stroking lessons under the tutelage of Tracy Wilson. Christina will be performing a triple flip-triple toe in both programs and a double axel-triple toe in her long. She plans to unveil at least one program at Skate Detroit. (Read about her upcoming season.)

Obama has once again named Michelle Kwan and Dominique Dawes to his Presidential Council on Fitness. This is definitely a decision that we can all agree with.

Venus Williams is out of Wimbledon after suffering her worst loss in history at the tournament. This definitely puts her career prospects in question. Grass is her best surface and this was the only Slam she really had a chance of winning. Serena is through to the semis and looks on track to repeat as Champion. In a great upset, Serena and Venus are out of the doubles tournament after falling to Vesnina and Zvonareva in three sets. This should only fuel Serena to kick some serious ass tomorrow. Serena responds to upsets like a rabid dog. They had to kill Old Yeller for acting that way. Watch out!

Lauren Mitchell is out of the Aussie Championships with an adductor muscle injury. The injury affects her splits and leaps, but she expects to be fully recovered to participate in this fall's World Championships. It has been a year of injuries for Lauren since last year's Worlds.

Anne Phillips filmed at the Region 3 College Bound Training Camp, which included Rachel Spicer and Mackenzie Brannan as participants. Rachel is working on adding a double layout to her floor routine, while Mackenzie is working on adding all sorts of moves that look out-of-reach for a girl with such a slight frame. Mackenzie remains a red flag for the injury bug/puberty monster. Rachel continues to be one of the top NCAA recruits.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Good Riddance

The ISU has officially declared Evgeny Plushenko ineligible for ISU Competition based on non-sanctioned exhibitions he participated in. While the Russian Federation does have 21 days to appeal this, it is important to remember that Plushenko just came out of retirement for Vancouver, didn't get what he wanted, and was unlikely to ever compete again.

Plushenko is listed for a Grand Prix assignment, but so are several other skaters who won't be making their trips. It is important to note that Plushenko's knee is ailing again and that this is mostly inconsequential. There used to be a greater distinction between professional events and amateur events, but unless Yu-Na Kim's agency is able to create a swarm of new events, professional skating is not a threat to the ISU. Should this bruise Evgeny's ego, it could give pro skating an added jolt.

While he was never expected to compete again, it is nice to have a guarantee. Skating Darth Vader is ineligible. While the Russian Federation would likely be able to pull some string going into Sochi, an ancient Plushenko would never return 'for the joy of participation' with a free skate to Where Have All The Flowers Gone.

Decision # 5 - Decision of the ISU Council on Eligibility of Mr. Evgeny Plushenko (RUS)

Based on evidence presented the Council has concluded that Mr. Evgeny Plushenko breached the ISU eligibility rule 102, paragraph 2, i) of the ISU General Regulations and as a consequence has become ineligible under paragraph 7 a) of that rule. The evidence has proved to the satisfaction of the Council that Mr. E. Plushenko, a skater and member of the Figure Skating Federation of Russia (FSFR), skated in exhibitions held in March and April 2010, in Russia and other countries, without the express prior authorization of the FSFR. Such activity is a breach of the ISU eligibility rules and results in the loss of eligibility.

The present decision communicated to both Mr E. Plushenko and the FSFR may be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Lausanne, Switzerland, within 21 days upon receipt of the decision, in accordance with Article 25, paragraph 2, c) of the ISU Constitution.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

This and That

Ioana, our trusted Vampire Whore, translated a recent Prosport interview with Corina Ungureanu.

How is training coming along?
Could be even better. I still need to fix some skills and I’m working
on UB, FX and VT. I only try one vault, however, so that if need be I
could help the team.

What made you decide to come back?
I missed gymnastics and I made a bet. Last year, my boyfriend Jonathan
said he’d like to see me compete once more. It was a joke bet that
came to life.

Your first step…
In October when I competed for the club where I worked. I did an easy
floor routine and ever since I realized I still have “reserves” to do

Was it hard to adapt?
It is hard and I’m fighting some pain in my tendons. I have tendonitis
that’s really torturing me, but I don’t want to give up now and regret
this later.

What’s training camp like?
I don’t stay in Izovrani. I commute daily to Ploieşti. It takes about
25 minutes and I really like driving. It relaxes me.

Does training with Belu and Bitang feel like déjà-vu?
It’s as if time stood still; everything’s the same. That’s how I left
gymnastics and that’s how I continue thinking about competing.

What is the degree of difficulty of the routines you have?
I only work on separate skills, not entire routines, but I’m hoping to
start linking them soon. On bars, I would have a 5.8 SV and on floor a
5.5. I need to be honest with myself; I don’t have any illusions, only
concrete things that I could get through work.

Is it hard to get ready for the new code?
Every code requires a lot of work. The unevens seem to have gotten
very difficult; it’s very perfection-oriented. The rest remained the
same [shocking to hear a Romanian talk about UB difficulties]

Your first competition…
Romanian Nationals, because that’s how the preparation was thought out.

What are your future goals?
To get a spot on the Worlds team. This is the reason why I train, but
also a test. I said that if in nine months nothing comes together, I no
longer belong here.

and part of her interview with Libertatea

What’s it like training with Belu and Bitang?
For me, it’s as if I never left Deva. It’s like I don’t even feel this
10-year break. With all my heart, I’m glad they are back in the gym as

Which of the current gymnasts do you get along with best?
All of them are dear to me. They’re so small and cute. Sometimes I get
nostalgic and I remember how I was when I trained at Deva. I do have
an added admiration towards Sandra Izbaşa who is an extraordinary girl
and very ambitious. I’m convinced that she has the strength to come
back to the training level that she had before the Olympics


Tamarjan had also announced her retirement plans after she finishes
her high school graduation exams.

Grigoras is trying to tip toes around Tămîrjan’s weight problems.
“It’s normal for Ana to think about retirement because she’s had
injuries that ended in surgeries. The recovery time was fairly long;
she’s matured; everything’s changed; these are problems that all
children her age are facing. We are hoping however that she will find
the strength to overcome them and come back alongside us [the team].”

(I love the children bit…The whole problem here is that she’s no longer
a child but a grown woman –with all the curves that come along with

Evan Lysacek and Joannie Rochette are nominated for ESPY Awards.

Kanako Murakami skated to the Nine soundtrack, because she's so Italian...

International Gymnast interviewed Nelli Kim. Bruno Grandi's right hand is telling us not to criticize the sport because if we don't love gymnastics, no one else will. When the World Silver Medalist goes from Natalia Laschenova to Rebecca Bross in two decades, don't recognize it or admit the issue...because then it will be transparent to everyone.

Make It Or Break It returns tomorrow, June 28th at 10 PM. It has been far too long since we've caught up with Lauren, Kaylie and DJ Tanner. The Lauren and Kaylie cat fight should be Pasha and Maya style!

The Softer Side

Mao Asada and Daisuke Takahashi debuted new exhibition programs at this weekend's Dreams On Ice. Both are skating to much lighter classical musical that allows their skating to breathe and helps bring across their best qualities.

Freed from clutches and choke collars of Tarasova, Mao appears free and is somewhat reminiscent of Kwan post Nagano. How refreshing to see Mao without listening to any banging of piano keys or manic screams by a manic Russian coach.

Daisuke's new exhibition, choreographed by Lambiel.

Friday, June 25, 2010

This and That

Kurt Browning was recently interviewed on as her prepares for season two of Battle of the Blades. He is as charming as ever.

The ISU has released the requirements for the short dance. The 2010/2011 dance is the Golden Waltz, which is only the third time in five years that the ISU is using this dance. How original. Personally, I think a Bollywood short dance is in order.

The five required elements for the short dance this season are:
-2 (1/2) Golden Waltz Patterns
-Twizzle Sequence
-Short Lift
-Midline Non-touching Step Sequence

So we'll be golden waltzing and then we'll be twizzling?! Wouldn't a dance spin be more appropriate for something grand and flowing like a waltz? It is such a shame that Tanith doesn't get to debut this dance. I'm doing my best to keep an open mind and ''trust'' the ISU, but I have serious doubts about this potential hot mess.

Scott Hamilton had surgery to removed a benign tumor from his brain yesterday. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

USAG National Team officials informed Alicia Sacramone that she needs to train floor exercise in order to be viable for teams in the future. It is not entirely unexpected, as her reputation as a beamer is one big cemented 'NO!'

Serena Williams was NOT pleased to be playing on Court 2 at Wimbledon yesterday. She felt that Centre Court or Court 1 was where she belonged. Just to hammer the point home, she drilled her second round match 6-0, 6-1. Serena was so nervous meeting the Queen earlier in the day that she initially forgot to address her as 'Your Majresty' until midway through the Queen's greeting to her. (It should work to Serena's favor if the organizers keep pissing her off. Serena achieved her infamous 'Serena Slam' after a breakup and wanted her ex-boyfriend to see her everywhere being successful.)

The Zaretskys have retired from competition citing a lack of support from the Israeli Federation and intend to pursue coaching careers. This opens up two invitations for Grand Prix events.

Jeremy Abbott is set to debut his new Flamenco short program at All That Skate, this summer's premiere ice show. Someone better remind me to get excited for this program amidst the queening out I'll be doing over Michelle's two new exhibitions.

Ice Network is reporting new music choices for several skaters:

The Shibutanis' new free dance is to the music of 'Smile' and 'Let's Face The Music and Dance.' (Both will be performed by Nat King Cole) Their short dance will tell the story of the musical Carousel.

Dobbs and Jacobsen will be skating a new free skate to Bohemian Rhapsody, which was choreographed by Rene Roca (mastermind behind Jill Trenary's 'The Mermaid.')

Evora and Ladwig will skate to The Mask of Zorro for their new short program.

Zhang and Toth will skate to Claire de Lune for their short program and Miss Saigon for their free skate.

Richard Dornbush's new free skate is to the soundtrack of Sherlock Homes and is choreographed by Cindy Stewart.

Agnes Zawadzki's short program is 'Gopher Mambo,' while her free skate is set to Hungarian Gypsy Music. Agnes has added a triple toe-triple toe to her short program and a double axel-triple toe to her long program. She will debut the short at this weekend's Broadmoor Open.

Fans can check out a live stream of the Broadmoor Open this weekend.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Be Good Johnny Weir: Season Finale

The finale popped up on On Demand and has been uploaded by a very much appreciated bad ass reader.

Olympic Champions: Then And Now

(Click on the photos for larger views.) It looks like Isa finally learned how to bleach her facial hair. The girls are looking lovely. Is it me or do they celebrate Romanian Gymnastics Greatness every year?

The 1984 Olympic Champions (aka...the World Be Non-Boycotted Silver Medalists)

Many thanks to Ioana, our trusted Romanian Correspondent/ Vampire Whore.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shock of all Shocks

Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker have ended their partnership. In US Pairs Skater years, they are ending a union lasting a quarter century. At times, they had even come close to achieving unison on their side-by-side spins.

Keauna will take a year off from competitive skating to focus on school and other interests. We can only hope that she doesn't have test anxiety similar to the inner hell she experiences during competition.

Rockne will begin his search for a new partner. After such a dismal Nationals and Four Continents, the question is why they didn't split sooner. The high profile splits took place moments after Worlds and the best partners have already been snatched.

Male pairs skaters in the US better be on their toes. Ideas are going to form in the minds of overzealous skating parents.

Woodward Video

Sam Peszek and Bridget Sloan are training at Woodward with Marvin Sharp. Both look fit and appear to have a positive training relationship.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Way To Embark On A Pro Career

Being a professional skater is a difficult balance for many. While some like Nancy Kerrigan have the attitude that the hard work is over and act as though they are on an extended summer vacation, that will only get them roles in 'Alice In The Looking Glass On Ice' that they produce themselves. (Was anyone else embarrassed to come across that on television yesterday?)

One skater who knew how to have a pro career was Kristi Yamaguchi, who maintained her technical skills for a decade and continually improved her artistry, skating skills and performance ability.

Sandra Bezic feels that one of the roles of a choreographer is the ability to continually stretch and access areas of a skater's personality that haven't been tapped before. Kristi Yamaguchi broke out of her shell in a big way when she skated to En Vogue's ''Never Gonna Get It'' her first year as a professional. It was a Kristi that no one had seen before or expected. Mountain Mouse was flirty, sassy and even a little sexy (all with some fierce hair). Kristi was NOT a Sasha Cohen who likes to mix up her repertoire by skating to 'Hurt,' 'Imagine,' and 'God Bless America.' For what it is worth, Kristi did skate to Imagine on the '95--96 SOI Tour and it blew Sasha's out of the water.

There is little doubt that Ms. Yamaguchi would've wiped the floor with the skaters at the 1994 Olympic Games. As a professional, she remained the top ladies skater until Michelle Kwan rose to prominence in '95-96.

As a pro, Kristi Yamaguchi reached the Ice Queen status she had always sought. The quietly tenacious competitor from hell was center stage in the spotlight, glitzed out from head to toe, with enough hair spray to cause ozone depleting over Antarctica. Other ladies would join Stars On Ice during her decade on the tour, but none would ever come close to challenging her role as Professional Skating's HRH. Even Ms. Witt bowed down to her.

Oh Yama, how we miss you! Even Carole is continually impressed by how you blow everyone out of the water.

This and That

The ISU has announced the Grand Prix assignments for the fall. Given that so many of these skaters will withdraw and others will be added in their place, it is difficult to make too much of them just yet. I was shocked to see Beverly Smith writing an article about Plushenko having another season in him given the Grand Prix announcement. I'll eat my words if he shows up, but Plushenko has been scheduled to have surgery this summer. What we do know is that Evan Lysacek and Joannie Rochette will definitely not be competing in the Grand Prix.

Nicole Bobek plead guilty to her role in the crystal meth distribution ring. She will be sentenced on August 5 and can face anywhere from probation to five years in prison.

My adopted daughter, Maddi Desch, finished second behind Va Zam in elite compulsories at the Bieger Elite Qualifier and wound up qualifying all the way through to the National Championships. Grace Williams, who won JOs (Maddi was 4th, 1st on UB at JOs) will have to qualify for Championships at the US Classic.

The ISU officially eliminated the compulsory dance and implemented scores of other changes. Suzanne Bonaly was a US Rep at the council summit. It is unclear to what degree he failed us.

A few things happened while I was away for a few weeks. The major story was that Sale and Pelletier divorced but decided to still skate together. This surprised approximately no one. Oddly enough, articles about their divorce included quotes about how they knew they were meant to be during their '98 tryout. For anyone who witnesses their amateur career, it was obvious that they'd never last each and every time Jamie missed yet another side-by-side jump and David screamed at her. It is likely that a cheap shot during a Love Story snowball fight may have been the last straw.

Mao Asada has chosen music for her new programs. She will be skating to Alfred Schnittke's 'Tango' for her short program and Franz Listz's 'Liebestraum' for her free skate. Mao's new jump coach is Hiroshi Nagakubo. Liebestraum will be heaven on Mao Asada and will help erase the memory of The Bells of Moscow. Tango is a welcome addition to the skating music vault.

Tony Wheeler saw Johnny Weir and others perform on Saturday. Johnny managed to reel off a few triple toes. He is a page out of the Yamaguchi book on a sustainable professional career. Tony was not pleased with famewhore manager Tara Modlin who nastily eschewed autograph seekers in order to bring Johnny to another D List autograph session where autograph seekers were forced to pay. Michelle Kwan never charged for her autograph. Frankly, these sessions are reminiscent of Tonya Harding charging $15 for her autograph. I believe that P.T. Barnum used to charge admission for their freak show ($5 for the elephant man.) A few videos were recorded.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The World Cup

I'll be honest: I'm not really watching the World Cup. I like the pop songs and the hot men and getting it on with my inner Latino self, but I don't the whole soccer part of it. I played soccer through eighth grade, but I just can't get into it. Okay, I should clarify that I was forced into playing soccer through eighth grade because I needed to do one 'masculine' sport. It didn't make a bit of difference.

The thing about soccer is, goals are scored as infrequently as in hockey, without any of the excitement of bashing someone's skull in. I'm all about going to a hockey game and getting down with my beer drinking aggressive self, but soccer is insufferable. Especially on television.
Why must it be so bloody cold in South Africa during the World Cup? I get that soccer is popular around the world, but why haven't they required these men to play shirtless in order to expand the mass appeal?

Annie Leibovitz had the right idea in last month's Vanity Fair. Frankly, I'd never been so aroused by the sport. The World Cup (in most warm climates) is equivalent to four Fleet Weeks in a row!

David Beckham wasn't imported to suddenly make soccer happen here. He knew his job was to take his shirt off after games and have his wife entertain us all with her diva antics. Period.

World Professional Champion

Jeff Buttle is KILLING IT as a professional skater and is currently one of the most sought after skater for shows all around the world. Jeffy is a versatile artistic skater with skills only a Canadian could possess.

The real 2010 Olympic Champion recently performed with Stars On Ice Japan, Canadian Stars On Ice, and at Medalist On Ice in South Korea.

My future husband has never looked better or happier. While not training triple axels may have something to do with it, Jeffy exudes Mirai levels of joy when he performs. A true classy pro skater, he is reminiscent of the Browning/Boitano/Yamaguchi era.

Sympathy for the Devil is fun, energetic and flirty, while the Glenn Gould Selection is classical skating at its best. His sense of flight is outdone only by Michelle Kwan and Janet Lynn.

Oh Jeff, it should've been you atop the podium in Vancouver. Hell, I certainly like to imagine you were.

NCAA Update

The NCAA conferences have been doing some major realigning over the last few days. Nebraska is leaving the Big 12 to join the Big 10 and Utah is finally joining the Pac 10. For gymnastics, this is definitely a boost for both the Big 10 and the Pac 10. While these changes are mostly the result of football, they will impact gymnastics.

The Pac 10 now has 15/29 NCAA Titles in gymnastics and 1/2 of the Super Six. This may end some of the SEC gloating. Utah will be aided by competing in a conference meet against tough opponents, and the rest of the Pac 10 will benefit from the strengthening of the field.

In other news, Steve Shepherd announced that he is resigning as head coach of Penn State after 18 years at the helm. It is about time. Penn State has really struggled over the last decade and has never been able to carry momentum from one season to the next or recruit consistently. This past season, the team had two AA stars in Brandi Personnett and Sharaya Musser and a veteran in Alex Brockway, but they failed to earn a berth in the NCAA Championships yet again. The girls have never been quite fond of Steve, as he is not the sternest of coaches.

For a number of years, Steve has been obsessed with upgrading the team's difficulty on all events. While difficulty does help with the conservative scoring in the Big 10, the team has often put less consistent girls in the lineup year after year after year. Penn State also has ritual where the girls, not the coaches, give their teammates their last pointers prior to competing. While it is oh so heartwarming, one has to wonder if a real motivator like a Suzanne Yoculan would make a difference by getting the athlete into the proper mindset immediately before their routine.

Another Penn State has is that their stadium (Rec Hall) is underwhelming at best and their crowd is quite paltry given the 42,000 students who attend main campus. It would be rather simple to get a real crowd at gymnastics meets. Aside from getting good recruits and results, the organizers could easily tie the meets into THON and make them a fundraiser by charing $1 or $2 for admission. Penn State students are FTK (For The Kids!) and obsessively so. Tying the meets into one of the larger frat THON teams (they raise the most money) would bring out students in droves. Adding a few contests or giveaways to create an atmosphere would also help. Currently, only family members, the university's gymnastics club team, 1-2 local gyms and select gays attend the meets. Crowds draw recruits, who bring results, which bring bigger crowds and better recruits.

Jess Bastardi is the acting head coach. Something went down years ago that will prevent Jess from being the head coach, but she has been the true leader of the team for many years. The female bodybuilder is an imposing beam coach who has been known to spot some rather powerful tumblers on floor exercise. The girls either love Jess obsessively or they don't at all.

Vanessa Zamarippa won the compulsory portion of the latest elite qualifier at Bieger's "World Class" Gymnastics Academy. Va Zam managed to avoid catching the Jana and scored a 9.700 VT, 9.675 UB, 8.175 BB, and 9.250 FX. Her optional scores were enough for her to finish third overall and earned her a trip to this summer's National Championships.

Casey Jo Magee recently attempted to qualify for Nationals at the Arizona State Elite Qualifier. She is only competing on three events due to difficulty adjusting to the FIG bar setting. She has yet to reach the qualifying score.

WOGA Update

The WOGA girls are training in Italy and France this week and being the Plano princesses that they truly are. Queen Nastia is accompanying Lizzy Leduc, Katelyn Ohashi, Grace McLaughlin, Sophia Lee, Briley Casanova, McKenzie Wofford and Madison Kocian on the trip. The WOGA girls are training at one of Laurent Landi's former training sites and are helping to raise money for the opening of a new gym.

Back in Plano, Nastia is in the gym stretching, doing some basic skills and conditioning. She is not training per se and her plans continue to change almost weekly. Nastia is said to be going through her rebellious phase and she and Valeri continue to have arguments over giving 100% or not training at all. Nastia is not currently doing anything on Uneven Bars. Time is running out on her comeback.

Rebecca Bross stayed home from the Italy-France trip to train, but is sporting an air cast when not on the equipment.

Ivana Hong is working on getting her fierce body back, but no significant progress has been made in training at this time. Briley continues to work on getting in tip top shape.

Katelyn Ohashi is back up to speed and is said to be jaw-droppingly amazing on balance beam.

Grace McLaughlin is said to be making slow and steady progress.

Miki Uemura will be spending a year at WOGA observing the Plano coaches. She plans on embarking on a top coaching career in Japan. It is unclear whether she'll be doing any actual training herself.

Valeri is said to be rather cranky with Grace and Lizzy lately, which means that they are doing rather well. Valeri is the toughest on those he believes are making progress and going places. Nastia and Valeri fought constantly and went days without speaking leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games. Being ignored by Valeri is the kiss of death.

Queen Nastia recently appeared at an LA Dodgers game and has been working with JC Penny. The Nastia-Miss Val love affair/asskissfest will continue July 15-18 in Westwood.

Hell Hath Frozen Over

Corina Ungureanu, member of Romanian's gold-medal-winning teams at the 1997 and 1999 World Championships is back and looking hotter than ever. For those who don't remember, Corina Ungureanu was the badass of the rather reserved 1997-2000 squad. While Octavian Belu always picked Corina for major competitions (Euros, Worlds, Goodwill Games), he continually ripped on her in the press and claimed that he didn't think she'd make whatever major event was on the horizon.

Despite Belu's bitching, Corina managed to become the 1998 European Champion on Floor Exercise and was one of the few Romanians to ever dance or be expressive on the apparatus. She is also one of the few Romanians to ever be inconsistent on balance beam.

Corina had enough and retired after the 1999 World Championships due to a back injury. She immediately posed for the January 2000 issue of Romanian Playboy and went on to star in two nude Japanese DVDs with fellow teammates Lavinia Milosovici and Claudia Presecan, posed for Playboy again in 2008, published multiple photo books, wrote an autobiography and is the spokeswoman for a bottled water company.
Belu, who was never her biggest fan, is now calling Corina a 'role model.'

And let's admit it, she looks amazing. After four months, Ungureanu looks far superior to Gabriela Dragoi, who is also on the comeback trail.

Ioana, our trusted Romanian correspondent, has translated the latest news from Dracula's kingdom.

Ungureanu's been training for 4 months and plans to compete again.
She's training 3 events FX , VT and UB and she is the only one of the
gymnasts currently at Deva to have worked with B&B before.

"It's refreshing to see a gymnast her age that wants to compete.
Without work, you cannot do anything and Corina could be an example
for them [the other gymnasts]," explained Bellu. For now, he's
reserved while talking about the current gymnasts. " I cannot make any
appraisals yet; we need to get to know each other better, to see why
each one is here, what she wants to do and if their desire corresponds
with our desire to do our job as well as possible."

Ungureanu on her comeback: "I'm here because I like exercising. I
tried going to the gym, but it wasn't my cup of tea. Gymnastics is my
life and I live through it" [she could also have meant that's how I
earn a living]

Octavian Bellu and Mariana Bitang went back their old coaching habits
quickly, as if the past 5 years when they've been away from the gym
never existed. "You need to think you're better than the others,"
Bellu's words can be heard throughout the gym. The girls are aligned
on the floor, listening intently and without blinking. After a few
quick words, he utters a clear "com,e on, up!" They all jump to their
feet and give a curt greeting "good morning!"

Warmups start. Bellu and Btang are doing rounds and helping out
gymnasts. Bellu helps Claudia Voicu stabilize a turn and shows Sandra
a new exercise for her knee and occasionally gives her a few short
instructions. This is only the beginning.

"I'm alongside the coaches who've worked here. We don't want to
disturb the current order, but bring additional experience instead,"
said Bitang.

"We don't want to rush things, but everything gradually, get to know
each other better and see why each one is here" bellu

In other news, Diana Chelaru, one of the only healthy gymnasts, managed to injure herself by fracturing metacarpal bone in her left hand on an Uneven Bars transition. The Romanians should really just stay off that apparatus.

Belu and Bitang were brought in to help prevent injuries... Anyone who remembers their glorious reign, please refrain from spitting up dinner.

Ana Porgras continues to rehab, as does Pitic.

The ISU's Middle Finger

The ISU Congress is going on this week and they are continuing their continual ''enhancement'' (aka slaughtering) of the sport. By nature, I am a purist. I don't necessarily like change. Bring back compulsories in gymnastics. Hell, bring back figures.

As of right now, the ISU has officially eliminated the Compulsory Dance and the Original Dance. We've known this was coming for a while. I don't love it. I think the compulsories certainly had merit, but they also used them to bury teams. It was interesting to rank the teams against one another, but that doesn't sell tickets or get television ratings. The new combination dance is basically a natural evolution of the continual evolution of the Original Dance/Original Set Pattern. It is what it is and the good teams will continue to make interesting programs.

My big gripe is with the elimination of the spiral sequence for the ladies short program. There are certain elements that are iconic in figure skating and the spiral is one of them. A gorgeous layback is another. These are marketable, stunning, iconic images that separate the good skaters from the great skaters. Is the world supposed to shun spirals because Yu-Na sucks at them? One needs to really wonder why they are eliminating the spiral. Outside of North America, the world has never taken the element all that seriously. As it went on, nations began campaigning for the focus to be on the edge of the spiral and not the position (yes, major eye roll over that bullshit logic). Some even complain that they need to eliminate it because the patterns are all the same under the IJS. If that is the issue, then change the criteria, not the elements.

There comes a time when enough is enough. Who is running this joke of a sport? What exactly is their vision?

Call me old fashioned, but I live for Kwan's smiral, Cohen's perfection proportion between leg and back, and Bobek's hand over her heart.

Apparently, eliminating the footwork sequence was briefly discussed but did not go over well.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Things You Don't Do

Yoshie Onda. There is a reason the Japanese Ladies Skaters are sent to the US to take from American and Russian coaches. Yamada's taste is beyond questionable. When Nancy Kerrigan is calling you an "athletic skater" (code for PE Teacher on ice), you need to be careful about whose music you are using.

If you're not gifted in the artistic area (and Nancy Kerrigan can even call you lacking), you need to be careful about which memories you're conjuring up on behalf of the judges and audience.

The Red Violin may have been the last of Lori Nichol's great masterpieces. Just because Michelle Kwan was living life like a lipstick lesbian at the time does not mean that this music is meant for the butch and dowdy. Skaters should have a list of music choices that are simply playing with fire. You don't see me trying out for any football teams.

Some of these girls just don't seem to get it, so I think we may need to spell it out for them. Miki Ando, you're 'barely' more aesthetically pleasing than Yoshie. Please don't think you can pay homage to Lyra Angelica this year. You can't. One would think that Lori Nichol would be looking out for a skater's best interest, but it is rather clear that she did her artistic work with Kwan and is now whoring herself out for cash. MK was her pure drug and now she's just cutting her creative juices down with baking soda.

I don't want to wish I was watching another skater when you're on the ice. If you're going to channel the Kwan in my brain, you're starting off in treacherous territory with bitches like myself. Frankly, I don't think you have an interesting take on any music within you. Watch your music choices!

And just for the record, Rachael Flatt, if you dare to use Dante's Prayer, there will be repercussions.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What Might've Been...

Talent truly can be the ultimate curse. Nicole Bobek had IT and she had the right team around her to get to the top. Should we blame Carlo for leaving her and going off to Italy? Or shall we blame Jill for wanting him to get the hell out of America?

Oh Nicole, you were so fantastic. That natural spring and charisma warms my old cynical heart.


Get Happy! We need to have more Judy moments on here. Some of you REALLY need it. I know I do!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Natalia Ospiova, Her Majesty

Ms. Natalia Osipova is gracing Lincoln Center with her presence this month and is taking the NYC ballet world by storm with her unmatchable leaps and Russian mysteriousness.

The New York Times reviewed her performance in Don Quixote, the old warhorse ruined in skatenastics by Sarah Hughes and Irina Slutskaya. Natalia Osipova is erasing those memories, turn by turn, leap by leap.

Miki Yamashita brought this Russian beauty to my attention and I cannot thank her enough. The youtube convulsions that took place almost instantaneously have brought meaning and joy back to these wonderful melodies.

Natalia Osipova makes one forget Slutskaya's hunched back and Sarah Hughes' remarkable inability to hit her arm movements on the beat.

For years, we've all been haunted by Don Quixote and the 2000-2001 season. Thankfully, those nightmares have been put to death.

How do the Russians sculpt those beautiful legs? Why isn't that included in any of Mari Winsor's pilates videos? Is there a band we can buy? Why isn't Denise Austin all over that? I'll have whatever she's having.

Breathe. Inhale. and Enjoy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Exceptional Gay Moment

I just have to say that on the day I decide to take a hiatus, Michelle Kwan announces that she, Sasha Cohen and Yu-Na will be performing together in Korea. AND Michelle will be performing new programs. I mean come on universe, I WANTED to take a break and not be seen as some drama queen threatening to stop the blog, but MK+Yu-Na+Sasha+New MK Programs= Magic.

I can't even wonder what the music choices will be. Obviously, they'll be wonderful. I hope one of them is terribly depressing like Winter, Dante's Prayer, Winter Song, etc.

And who will be choreographing this masterpiece? Did we ever find out who did her programs that she performed last year?

Joining the three divas will be Stephane Lambiel, Brian Joubert, John Zimmerman, Min-Jung Kwak, Silvia Fontana, Belgosto, Haejin Kim, Savchenko and Szolkowy and Sale and Pelletier.

The show will take place July 23-25 and is titled 'All That Skate.' (Stop look and watch. Ready yet? Get set. It's ALLLLL THAT....sorry, had to!)

To end this utterly random post, I have to say that I had it out with Alex Forrest the other night for making one of the MEANEST comments possible. Alex Forrest knows that unless I'm bitching about MK leaving Frank, I just won't speak ill of her. Thus, he is always trying to bait me. The little twit actually referred to Michelle Kwan's Salt Lake City exhibition (which admittedly still makes me cry like a good Meryl Streep film), as Fields of Bronze.

If I could've reached through the phone line, I surely would've slapped that bitch across the face. I'm still REELING over it.

Oh Michelle, just when I think I'm leaving, you pull me back in for more!

Temporary Hiatus

So I deleted the blog. I am going to take a brief break in order to get some things taken care of and sorted out, but I will be back. I also made another formspring for those who read that. I won't have the same name anymore. I'm now AuntJoyce on formspring.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Uncle Dick's Favorites

Earlier today, I was a bit startled to see someone write that Bob Paul's comment about Yu-Na Kim's feet (Pretty from the waist up) was "even too snarky for Dick Button." Um, that would be considered a nice comment from Uncle Dick.

Instead of posting all of the times where Dick Button didn't hold back his true feelings, I think we need to discuss Dick Button's skategasms when watching some of his all-time favorite skaters. Over the years, Dick has taught us all what to look for and his taste has become our taste.

Peggy Fleming writes in her memoir that she and Bob Paul tried to infuse her skating with the spirit of ballet. You know someone's skating is brilliant when Dick remains quietly excited. How about the layback? Or her signature spread eagle+double axel+spread eagle?

Frankly, I would like to have a few words with Dick for being so calm about Madame Peggy's skating. Granted, she was much better as a professional.

Dick loves the ethereal pretty girls, but he has been known to like a girl with attitude. After all, the divas of ice dance make it his favorite discipline.

At the 1974 Worlds, Dick Button let the world know that Dorothy Hamill, America's future sweetheart, is a temperamental girl.

Back in the day, Uncle Dick did it all. Frankly, I miss him interviewing skaters immediately after they left the ice. There is nothing like Dick discussing a skater's marks with the actual skater. Again, choreography by Bob Paul.

Have you ever seen it rain teddy bears?

Knowing his love of botany, Michelle Kwan once bought Uncle Dick a bonsai tree. His love for her grew exponentially. Early on, he loved how Miss Lipinski would attack her programs with a knife in her hands. Later on, his love for the Kween truly required Xanax. I worry about his aging heart. Dick even called Terry Gannon from his bed when recovering from a fractured skull to tell him 'Take it to the bank, Michelle Kwan WILL be winning the World Championships."

Dick also loves himself a bad girl. He wanted to smack Nicole Bobek, couldn't get enough of Sasha Cohen's heart shaped mouth, was the first one to acknowledge Marlie's "sexual quality" and thoroughly enjoyed Katarina Witt's attitude (though not her skating.)

Like Michelle Kwan's falling leaves, Uncle Dick's commentary truly is ''the best in the business."

Listen to Dick discuss his commentary, his own competitive programs and the infamous refrigerator comment.

(My apologies if this post is utterly random and incoherent. I am sick and feeling groggy, like Dick must feel after fracturing his skull all the time.