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.