Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The American Cup


This year's American Cup was another year to remember, as Aliya Mustafina brought her brand of brash divaness to Jacksonville, Florida.  Ms. Mustafina was not expecting to take on Jordyn Wieber and let her displeasure at USAG's bullshit shenanigans be known.  The moment USAG wrangled a spot for Wieber as the alternate, it seemed only a matter of time before someone was either sick or paid by USAG to be.  Given that both alternates got the opportunity to compete, it pretty much felt like every other year where two Americans competed in each field.  There were two or three good gymnasts and a whole bunch of hot messes.  This year, those hot messes were just ranked much better at the World Championships.

Even though the American Cup is a competition for both the men and women, the competition is really just about the women.  The men are pleasant distractions while the television viewers await the ladies' scores.  (Given how complicated the new code is, those scores tend to take a while.)  This year, Jake Dalton's gorgeous eyes were a highlight.  His gymnastics is exciting in spots.  Gorilla Midget, Jonathan Horton, won another American Cup title and had told us that he was going to be much cleaner than before.  Just coming back from a broken finger, his gymnastics looked pretty much the same as before.  It was nice of Tim Dagget to discuss how Horton's freakish proportions are the very reason he can't do Pommel Horse.  See, he just can't get those short bulky arms around that hulking chest.  Jonathan had a solid meet, which was an anomaly for this year's event.  His gymnastics always appears a bit chucked at times, but he manages to keep it in control.




Jordyn Wieber is the Ford Taurus of gymnastics.  It is amazing how her form is technically correct and yet she lacks any style whatsoever.  Her gymnastics lacks personality and entertainment value from the inside out, despite quite a formidable skill level.  Her bars have little to do with swing or finesse and the girl definitely makes it look like work on an assembly line.  Weiler Kips are not a very attractive skill, as they tend to cut off flow during the routine, so Ms. Weiber does two of them.  Her uprise full is far from staying in handstand.  Jordyn fell on a tkatchev, but it didn't matter much, as the judges still kept her in contention.  She hit a monstrous beam routine, but the lack of flair kept it from being truly exciting.  Her floor routine remains one of the most overrated routines in the sport.  The fact that her routine is considered above average says a great deal about the state of the sport.  Jordyn flew out of bounds on her double double and had a big cross step on her triple full, but the rest of her tumbling was solid.  The judges miraculously gave her just the very score she needed to win...as always happens at this event.  It is a shame that NBC doesn't give us a fluff piece on this bore.  Her 'classy' mother could certainly add all sorts of levels of interest to this un-emotive acrobat.


Speaking of people with no personalities, Aly Raisman continued her quest to become the new Gina Gogean...only with far worse form.  The flat-footed competitor managed to make it through another competition without any major breaks.  She didn't do her planned Amanar on vault.  It is amazing how her gym always plans vault upgrades that never materialize.  Mihai made up some bullshit story about the Massachusetts' school schedule being the reason his girls can't do bars.  Clearly if they spent more time with him as a bars coach, they'd be looking like Nastia is no time.  There is just nothing that could even fix Aly Raisman on bars at this point.  It is all wrong.  Even her arms are far too wide apart.  The girl is hopeless.  Martha loves her because she isn't a screw up.  God hates us and makes all of the pretty ones head cases or injury prone. He balances it out by trying to at least give a positive attribute to everyone (except Natasha Kelley.)


Raisman lacks such finesse that it is beginning to become apparent that she lacks even a hint of grace or style in any of her exercises.  Perhaps she would be more suited to doing whatever that is Jonathan Horton tries to do on Pommel Horse.  It is simply not attractive.

Jordyn and Aly will go to camp this week and will likely spread their message of boredom to Italy.  Nastia will also be going to camp.  She appeared slightly fitter in her interview during the broadcast, but still wouldn't give a firm commitment about her comeback.  This will be her second appearance at camp this year.


Aliya Mustafina is a curious one.  For someone who has such style, her twisting form is beyond atrocious.  Her personality is stellar.  She has no idols and never has.  The head bitch of Round Lake busted out an Amanar that she wasn't planning on competing.  If you notice, her form tends to get worse the longer a competition goes on.  Her vaults got sloppier with each attempt at Worlds.  She looked like she was competing for the seventh day in a row for much of the American Cup.  Her bar routine was an utter delight.  Her beam routine had a wobble and a missed connection, but it was successful for her first warm-up meet for the European Championships.  What is most amazing about Mustafina is her lack of self awareness when planning upgrades.  Execution deductions have become bastardly in this quad, so one would think that Mustafina would want to eliminate as many twisting elements as possible.  Instead, she has now made her Triple Twist dismount off beam more challenging and is performing a 3 1/2 twist on floor.  The girl is disgustingly talented.  Her body has a fabulous blend of strength and finesse, yet she continues to mar her overall aesthetic with abortions known as twisting passes.  Imagine how much better her beam routine would be if she ended with a double arabian as opposed to the triple full. Her floor could have a double layout and a whip+double arabian, but she continues to serve up more twisting passes.

I admire her for going for her full difficultly, but I would have a hard time crediting her for a two salto pass when it appears that she landed on her hands before her feet on the front 1/2.  Aliya will likely bitch about this meet for a long time coming and has reason to, but she lucked out by being credited for her two-salto pass on floor.  Wieber's floor score was also ridiculous and she shouldn't have even competed, but that is just how things go at the American Cup.  At least her level of drama was greatly appreciated.


As for the other big names...Lauren Mitchell didn't look remotely prepared.  She got it together at the last minute last year, so there is nothing to really worry about, but performing a Yurchenko Full in an elite meet in 2011 is lame...regardless of the circumstance.  Huang Qiushuang 'Chinesed' her beam routine.  Apparently she had a gorgeous bar routine, but NBC didn't show it.  They did show us a cell phone video of Shawn Johnson on bars...because she is clearly the one we'd rather see.

Note that Dominique Dawes was too busy flaunting her bronze medal and appointment on a bullshit Presidential council to be honored with the Magnificent Seven at the American Cup.  She may have been filming some more Yahoo! videos that no one watches.  I'm sure the video was 'quite nice.'

Sad but true: The overly emaciated Jessica Lopez trained at AOGC a few weeks ago and not surprisingly, Galina raved to her gymnasts about just great her body looks.

25 comments:

  1. I saw Haung's bars on the webcast, they'd show some events during commercial breaks (sadly no hilarious off camera comments from the terrible trio. 2009 nationals was a hoot with those three) and she had such issues hitting handstands.

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  2. Another great review. I would love to see an arabian double front off beam from Mustafina, but with her tendency to landed arabian doubles on her butt on floor in training (which is strange because in competition, they are gorgeous), maybe it's just not something they trust as a beam dismount. I wonder if her coaches are aware that the reason why she is able to crank around a 3.5 twist on floor is because her legs are severely crossed. I'm not sure she has the power for a double layout (at least not a great one that won't crunch her ankles from time to time), so more twisting it is. Also, I feel like she's shortchanging herself with that floor "choreography". I forgive her for all her faults when I see that amazing bar routine though.

    So did USAG ask for an alternate spot to be implemented? If it was an FIG decision, then there was no problem with Wieber ending up competing. I can't blame USAG for wanting another American in the event though... It's more appealing for the American audience to have another strong American challenger in there. It's crazy how several top gymnasts in the world were there, yet most of them looked totally not ready.

    I don't love Wieber at all, but her vault was pretty sweet. The rest of her is blah and makes me long for Bross, bad knees and all, but I was happy she got to compete against Aliya.

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  3. But could you imagine this meet without Wieber? Mustafina would have lead the way the whole time, Raisman would have stayed far behind in second the whole time... No excitement at all.

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  4. HQS's bars looked quite laboured and she indeed had some handstand issues. In addition, her execution on vault was much messier than at the worlds imo. The preflight was Mustafina-like.

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  5. Dead on AJ. I saw it the same way. Wieber is great on vault, bars- much improved, but still need work, beam-great but robotic and floor-tumbling is beautiful but the rest is straight velveeta.

    Raisman is a great competitor and valuable to the US, but soooooooo boring.

    Mitchell embarrassed herself.

    Huang Q is still a beautiful headcase

    And Mustafina-clearly not in form, but her bars were great. Her Amanar bordered on offensive, but her beam dismount is outright appalling. She almost never gets it around and it is THE worst twisting form I've ever seen from a world AA champ. She makes Memmel's twisting look clean. I can imagine she can repeat in Japan with that form. And her floor composition is mind boggling. Memo to Alexandrov, get some more double saltos in there b/c twisting is not the way. Just with the 2.5, 3, and 3.5 twists, she's going to be out nearly a full point is execution. Madness or denial on she Alexander's part

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  6. Does anyone know why the American Cup has only 8 athletes? Was it always this way? Seems like a lot of hype for so few routines. Why not invite 2 gymnasts per country, for example? I just don't understand this meet, even if it is about showcasing whichever rising American female....

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  7. The meet was much more exciting with Wieber and Aly. Seems like all the girls are heading to camp today. Wish they had video there to see what's really going on with SJ & Nastia's progress...

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  8. Poor Lauren was beyond exhausted. She never got over the 20 hour time difference (or whatever it was). I got to talk with her and watch some training and she said it felt like she was working out at 2 in the morning. She's also been busy with school and such. I think Australia sent her because she's been so successful lately, but they probably regret it now. She was near tears after each training session.

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  9. Yeah Lauren only did a Yurchenko full but it was a high one with good ditance. Whereas Jessica Lopez freaking fell on a shitty Yfull with zero distance.
    It was unfortunate that Lauren was so tired/not prepared. She had such a wonderful year in 2010. Hoping she bounces back and rocks it out at wolds again

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  10. Did anyone else notice the woman who was coughing throughout Wieber's entire beam routine? My DVD-R picked up on it and actually amplified it. If you watch the Youtube vid, you can hear her coughing away in the background. I don't know why I feel compelled to point it out, but I just thought it was really funny for some reason.

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  11. mustafina's twisting reminds me of atler's

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  12. Oh yeah, it's almost identical to Atler's... at least on floor. At times, Atler had gorgeous twisting form on vault.

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  13. The American Cup is really only important to Americans - the rest of the world uses it as a bit of a training exercise as they don't need to peak until much much later in the year! I did hear a rumour that Lauren Mitchell had the whole of January off training to do university, and only competed because Peggy "suggested" it would be a good way to get back on track with training quicker. Also - how has Aly Raisman not only got to elite to begin with but actually won medals - zero personality, zero flexiblity, zero grace or style, and zero toe point!!!

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  14. Wow. I agree that Weiber doesn't seem to have much personality (yet? she could grown one as her teen years progress), Mustafina sure seemed to do a lot of standing around in that beam routine. I kept waiting for her to do something awesome and all I got were some toe points and arm flutters. Yawn. I'm not a gymnast so maybe I missed something, but it seemed labored. And boring.

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  15. American Cup was a World Cup event this year. FIG made the ruling on alternates for those events.

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  16. C'mon people! There is no deduction for 'boring'. These young ladies are cranking out some high level routines and your comment is that they "lack personality" and "are boring" Oh C'mon!

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  17. Anon 7:32~

    If an athlete can do high level skils -and- show personality at the same time, does it not hint at a higher level of control and command of the skills? Personality conveys confidence, if nothing else. If the girls have truly mastered the skills, then they should work on the presentation. If they can't do that, it makes you wonder how solid their skills are day to day.

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  18. It's a sport, not a pageant. Personality can't be quantitatively measured.

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  19. It's an aesthetic sport, though. These ladies aren't playing football. Geeze. And tell the judges that personality can't be "quantitatively measured".
    Mustafina is only interesting b/c of her bitchy attitude. Her "style" is not that great, and as we've all noticed, her tumbling is lame. Nice bars, rest- form nightmare.

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  20. It's a sport and an art. Women's Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) is it's full official name.

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  21. It's a sport. You wanna sea "personality" (for god's sake, they are children! no 16year old has any "personality" whatsoever in western society's due to no life experience whatsoever), you watch drama, dance, whatever. This is a sport. This young ladies are great athletes. For me that's more than enough. Show some respect for real hard work...

    (and don't tell the ladies on a football team that they don't do something that is aesthetic. it is.)

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  22. The personality discussion is interesting. I do think that despite these girls ages and skill set, presentation counts. I love the steadiness of raisman ( except bars which is awful) but I agree about the boring part. A smile or flash of confidence every now and again may get this gymnast further ahead. Great review aunt Joyce, thx.

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  23. I mean to comment sooner AJ I wonder if Musty's pigheadedness is responsible for some of her skill selection? I agree that Aliya would be more appealing if she swapped some of her twisting skills for flipping (a pavs style DLO would be divine on her) but she's always done a lot of twisting as a junior, it just might be her preference.

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  24. should be obviousMarch 11, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    I loved having Jordyn in there. She is a stone-cold killer. The rest of the Ami-hating pussy world got their rocks of on the Russian resurgeance after Worlds. And it was Musty, Musty, Musty. Head and shoulders above the rest. But waiting in the wings was the pony-tailed Godzilla. And the Russians threw a fit when they knew Musty would have to go against her. And they should squasher her. Even with a fall. God, I love it. Cry, commies cry.

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