Thursday, August 18, 2011
What To Watch For: 2011 VISA Championships
Nationals are upon us. Given the state of modern artistic gymnastics, it is bound to be a hot disaster. Sure, there will be new medalists and people will pretend that Alicia Sacramone has a beautiful floor routine (glib people like Anne Phillips), but let's just take a moment to appreciate just how disgusting the sport has become. Revel in it.
1. Jordyn Wieber is going to win the meet. Done. If she doesn't, it is because she either mysteriously bleeds all over the beam again (allegedly) or falls twelve times. Al Trautwig is going to call her a star if she hits more than two routines. Be ready. The girl doesn't have an ounce of charisma or likability, but she does have a check plus gym mom who we need to pray gets her moment on camera. Jordyn looked solid in podium training despite a few misses on vault and bars.
2. Chellsie Memmel is not currently broken and will likely finish near the top. Hopefully Chellsie will embrace her inner testosterone and do a vault that is harder than a Yurchenko Full. On the off chance that Wieber implodes, Chellsie needs to take advantage of the situation. The other alternative is far too unthinkable. Chellsie is likely going to embrace her inner beastiliness and make the World Championship Team. Unfortunately, she has a history of being unable to make it through the selection process and actually survive through a competition. This could be Chellsie's last stand. Should she make it through Worlds, the laws of probability say that her shoulder or ankle should fall off by Olympic Trials. Let's pray that she has a shining moment and kicks a little ass. Chellsie doesn't need all of her skills until camp, so it is understandable if she leaves them out in order to stay healthy. That said, it would be nice if she finally won a National Title...on any event.
3. Aly Raisman represents all that is wrong with gymnastics. I don't wish injury on anyone, but I do get a kick out of seeing her try to pull off an Amanar. In many ways, watching Aly on bars reminds me of a high school senior I tutor who struggles with adding together positive and negative integers. It is amazing how it ever got to that point. Perhaps Aly should be sent to a bars class where they could address multiple learning styles. Maybe she is a visual learner who just doesn't know how to model a proper bar routine after idolizing Alicia during her formative years. I'd even be willing to try a little lecture with her. The girl is going to make Worlds, so we should all take a few shots and enjoy her floor routine for the Jana-like mess it truly is.
4. Alicia Sacramone is on track for another year of hopping on her vaults, missing connections on beam and going out of bounds. The thing is, the girl does it all with such flare. I'm really living for the new religious and philosophical Alicia. Now that she has an agent, I expect we'll be seeing more of her. Her vault strut will continue to entertain us like no other. Man shoulders never looked so good.
5. McKayla Maroney has a lot to prove. She is capable of ripping a nice Amanar, but it remains to be seen how useful she will be elsewhere. Given her '92/AOGC body, one can only assume it will be a matter of time before she is on the injured list. It could come down to Ross vs. Maroney for London, which is an interesting side not given that they used to be training mates. The most entertaining aspect of Maroney will likely be Alicia's face should the young one defeat her in vault finals at Worlds. Maroney is looking sharp in training. Her floor routine is much improved since Classics. Given how Martha and Kathy Kelly operate, she will likely be going to Worlds should she remain in tact.
6. Shawn Johnson needs to put up or shut up. Somewhere, there is an Olympic Champion (groan) underneath those needing-to-be-airbrushed abs and hideous leotards. Should she compete like a veteran, Shawn could have a decent showing. It remains to be seen what events she will do or what skills she'll ever be capable of, as her comeback is eerily reminiscent of Kim Zmeskal's circa '95. Ms. Johnson looked better in training than she did at Classics. Massive embarrassment seems to have gotten her away from the chalk bowl and onto the equipment during training. Shawn looks far more mentally prepared than she did at Classics, where she looked afraid to fail. Shawn even looked like she took off 2-3 pounds since Classics, which is important for a girl who needs to add back a few twisting skills to her routine. Should Shawn be offered a spot on the Pan Ams team, she should take it and get back to competitive form. It remains unlikely that Shawn will be a key member of the Olympic Team, but anything is possible once two or three of these girls break during the next year.
7. Gabby Douglas will likely be brilliant in spots and inconsistent in others. If there is a wild card, it is Gabby. She has proven to be a talented gymnast, but has a history of up and down performances at camp and competition. Gabby has all of the physical talent, but she needs to avoid being a Mattie Larson in the eyes of Martha where 'the mental ability is not at the level of the physical ability.' Should everyone stay healthy, I'd send her to Pan Ams and hope for a successful trip. With a little more experience, this girl could be ready for prime time.
8. Rebecca Bross looks burned out. After being up and down in training since she began doing all events months ago, she just hasn't trained with intention. Rebecca managed to unveil a new floor routine during podium training while still looking like she didn't give a fuck. Should Rebecca take Welbutrin and get it together, she can still be a top gymnast at Worlds. Rebecca Bross is not a fat girl, but there has been a lot of chatter over her loss of form since Worlds. The same commitment and drive isn't apparent anymore. With a little effort, it can turn around. She is definitely a girl who is at a crossroads. Bross needs to win bars here and discover an upward momentum, otherwise she is definitely at risk for being one of the many girls who crashes and burns eight months out from the finish line.
9. The girls of Legacy Elite could constitute half of the Pan Am team. Macko is backo and will likely be taken to the camps, assigned to a team and kept in the running so she defers her sophomore year at the University of Florida. Bridgey is getting it together, yet one never knows just how long that body can last. Anna Li is in contention for the World Team, but her one-event status is a risk. Anna recently spent time in the hospital due to illness and looks like she just needs to sharpen up the entire routine. Her new body has to have Miss Val salivating and seething and one can only surmise that Anna Li is loving that Miss Val is now all about her, after previously being pissed and unsupportive of her comeback when she chose to train at AOGC instead of working with Chris Waller and 'helping recruiting.' Anna has gone from being persona non grata at UCLA to being lauded and raved about more times than any other. Elite may not prove to be as much of a challenge as remaining on scholarship for four years in Westwood. If Anna is going to make a run at elite, her bar routine needs to be precise, sharp and near-perfect every time out. Given her current status, she needs two hit routines here followed by dominant, HBIC routines at camp.
We should all take a moment to applaud Anna's new body after noting how she was a Nastia-experiment gone wrong. With her father's thighs and her mother's breasts, Anna has had more of an uphill battle than most in achieving Black Swan form. Kudos.
10. Nastia Liukin isn't talking to the press after her time at bootcamp. The girl is looking displaying more tone and getting back to her diva ways...which means the comeback is likely for real. If there is anything characteristic of a top Russian in training, it is that they are secretive and calculating. Look for her to avoid any comeback questions like the plague should John R be dumb enough to to bait an off-limits area.
11. Eyes on Kyla Ross' consistency. The girl is consistent, yet slightly dull at the same time. Should she refrain from growing too tall, she is one to watch down the line. Lexie Priessman and Katelyn Ohashi should be at the top near Kyla once again.
12. Bridget Sloan came to train. Martha has been able to keep her on beam in the past by forcing her to actually train numbers. Seven beam routines a day before big meets doesn't sound like a ton, but it is for a natural talent like Bridget Sloan who prefers to pull things out of her ass. It may be too soon for her to make the World Team this year, but a trip to Pan Ams or another alternate position could springboard her to getting her career back on track.
13. Sabrina Vega is there and will earn her alternate status. It is amazing how she went from young adorable prodigy to who cares in under a year and a half.