Thursday, March 31, 2011
The old Shannon Miller was a shy girl. The new cosmetically-enhanced Shannon is such an attention whore that she is showing off her shaved head and conducting countless interviews as she undergoes chemotherapy. Only Shannon would not even wait until after completing chemo in order to make a career out of 'inspiring' women to get checked and promoting cancer research and prevention.
Bridget Sloan is deferring enrollment into the University of Florida until the fall of 2012 in order to make a failed run at the London Olympic Games. With many juniors improving and veterans hoping to come back, Sloan could easily be left off the team.
Ingo Steuer says that Savchenko and Szolkowy have been affected by being stuck in limbo with the World Championships. It is quite possible that many of the athletes will be burnt out or past their peak by the time the event occurs. Aliona and Robin are feeling de-energized.
Day 1 of the Doha World Cup is in the books. It is an event full of athletes who will not take part in the Europeans, so the field is decidedly thin. Canadians scoring in the 12s and 13s even qualified in the top five on some events. Tan Sixin and Yao Jinnan are the stars of the event, going 1-2 on bars, beam and floor. Daniele Hypolito is leading vault even though we all wish she'd just retire.
Daniel Keatings was left off Great Britain's team for the European Champions despite finished second all-around in his return to competition last weekend.
Q+A with Beth Tweddle. Beth has a new bar routine that she's only been training for three weeks. She says now is the time to try with with Worlds and the Olympics fast approaching.
As if we didn't see this coming, the FIG is reevaluating hosting Worlds in Tokyo.
Today is Megan Dowlen's 25th birthday. The former elite and Gym Dog is currently coaching level 7/8/9 at WOGA. She coaches alongside Valeri in his groups and is reportedly an excellent coach and mini-Valeri. Megan can be seen coaching in gymnastike's footage of the Texas Level 9 State Championships. One of Megan's pupils won the AA. Tiffany Tolnay can also be seen coaching at Texas Dreams. She coaches a number of the girls outright and assists Kim Zmeskal with the girls who have elite futures.
Carrie Ann Inaba got engaged on LIVE! TV.
Yu-Na Kim opened her training to the press for 10 minutes after Peter Oppegard joined her in South Korea to prepare for the upcoming World Championships. She vows to train harder than ever to prepare for the event.
Once again, Yu-Na failed to show any jumps in order to keep her level of preparation a bit of a surprise. One can only imagine the level of shit that would echo around the world if she missed a jump in front of the cameras. It is evident that Peter has really worked with her on her overall polish and fluidity.
Peter Oppegard says that they're focusing on stamina and have really worked on her artistry. He says her programs are tremendous and that she has taken her artistry to a new level.
The wonderful Romanians were filmed earlier today as they prepared for the upcoming European Championships. The marvelous Ana Porgras now performs a double layout in her floor routine.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Bridget Sloan verbally agreed to the University of Florida. Bridget recently had shoulder surgery and knows her elite days may well be behind her. She may join the team for next season, as they do have an open scholarship and she graduates from high school in a few months. This is certainly an upset in the recruiting world, as Jay Clark has been gunning for Sloan for some time. He connected with her and his gymnasts certainly wanted her on the team as well. This definitely keeps the talent pouring into Gainesville and continues the power shift in the SEC.
It has also been reported that Ivana Hong has verbally agreed to go to Stanford. Ivana had been between UCLA and Stanford for several years, but Mama Hong is a Stanford alum who wanted the same for her daughter. Ivana may also attend next year, as she too knows that her Olympic dreams may be a stretch at best. Ivana was accepted into Stanford academically.
Alexe Gilles switched coaches to Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen. This is their third high-profile student. Unfortunately, the move may have come about two years too late. Alexe was a talented skater in 08/09, but has racked up two years full of bad performances that have likely eroded her confidence. She was overshadowed in Tom Z's house of negativity. Yuka will likely force her to become even more independent. There are those who have thought Alexe's skating suffered in part due to her twin sisters absence.
Florida practice update. Macko will be back on beam at Regionals. Marissa King continues to sound far more intelligent than the rest of the gymnasts in the NCAA.
Suzanne Yoculan and Kevin Copp preview this weekend's upcoming regional showdown between UGA and UCLA. Suzanne lets it be known that she thinks UCLA should emerge victorious. Both teams have struggled with momentum, which will make it interesting. UCLA has to end on beam, which (as always), is an extremely inconsistent event for them. Part 1 Part 2
Catalina Ponor was given four months to get back into physical shape. She officially rejoins the National Team Training Squad on Friday.
Ask The Bruins
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The Crimson Tide's road trip to Birmingham
Shawn Sawyer has decided to parlay his success at Canadian Nationals into a full cast member stint on the Canadian Stars On Ice Tour, which allows Kevin Reynolds to compete at Worlds in his place. Shawn loves show skating and did say that his focus would be on the audience this season. If only the USFSA would collaborate with IMG and get Ryan Bradley to skip Worlds for SOI...
Amelie Lacoste will also replace an injured Myriane Samson.
Nastia Liukin Interview Note that Blythe doesn't take out any of the 'ums' of those she is interviewing. It is by the book, but it just isn't pleasant to read.
Johnny Weir is ensuring future commercial success in Japan by paying his dues and selling Japan Relief T-Shirts.
Kevin Tan officially retired from competitive gymnastics.
Brainstorm with Cassidy McComb.
Interview with Doug McGavin
Mike Catherwood and Lacey Schwimmer were eliminated on DWTS. Good riddance!
Jeremy Abbott was added to the cast of Proud Nation in Simsbury, CT on April 8. Dorothy Hamill and Michael Buckley will host the event.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Team Romania before the European Championships.
Catalina Ponor is back for the seventeenth time! She may be a fugly twister, but I've always loved her beam work and her diva bitch personality. #Dragqueenshavedreamstoo
Catalina Ponor is back for the seventeenth time! She may be a fugly twister, but I've always loved her beam work and her diva bitch personality. #Dragqueenshavedreamstoo
It was nice of President Obama to realize that his approval rating would plummet even lower if he dared to pre-empt Dancing With The Stars. The music is blaring, Brooke Burke is looking like a pleather whore and the spray tans are out in force!
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The Soviet Sports Machine is back in action. Vladimir Putin felt that paying a visit to Tamara Moskvina and her students was of the utmost importance. Granted, I certainly feel that way as well, but I'm not leading a world power.
NY Times Feature on Alissa Czisny.
A story about Rachael Flatt where the delusional Tom Z proclaims that the judges have told him that Rachael has 'the best short program in the world.'
Gregory and Pethukhov Interview
Texas held the Level 9 and 10 State Championships this weekend. Note that the coaches who left Texas Dreams for Metroplex kicked some Zmeskal Texas Dreams ass like it was Barcelona all over again!
The umpteenth meeting of Stanford, UCLA and Oregon State this season!
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Kirstie Alley is hot for her Dancing With The Stars partner!
Sasha Cohen and Evan Lysacek are applying for college and moving on in life (while simultaneously making comebacks.)
Alissa Czisny's coach has a conflict for Worlds.
Ross Miner appreciates the chance to compete at Worlds (since he and Ryan Bradley sure are lucky as hell to ever get there.)
Kristi Yamaguchi's book is #2 on the New York Times Bestseller Sourcebook List.
Lance Armstrong's Endgame
An article on the injuries of the Florida Gators, including the retirement of Brittney Noble and the struggles of Marissa King.
Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff reflect on their debut:
Yu-Na Kim's management agency confirmed that she will compete at the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow!
There had been some debate by ardent fans that she was too committed to being able to helping South Korea's Olympic bid to be able to do so, but it looks like they've been able to come up with a schedule that works for her. As is, Worlds are one week before All That Skate Spring.
Did he really think they'd win?!
Nice that even Jay was surprised by Noel's high score ;)
Thursday, March 24, 2011
This year's Pac 10 Championships were one of the most intriguing conference championships in years. Typically, Stanford or UCLA will win the title and everyone else is a major waste of the judges' time. This season has given us several previews for the Pac 10 Championships and it has been very clear that the race could be won by Stanford, UCLA or Oregon State. For years, the Oregon State Beavers have had a team capable of challenging Stanford and UCLA. They'll often push the other team at regular season dual meets but then wind up flubbing it just enough to blow their opportunity.
Alabama at the 2011 SEC Gymnastics Championships
Chellsie Memmel Interview
Post about a lovely encounter with the regal Kristi Yamaguchi
The Mastermind that is Marina Zueva
Marlie will not be skating with Stars On Ice this spring. IMG has let them out of their contracts in order to focus on the World Championships.
Kyndal Robarts will not be back this season, but she will likely be granted a 5th year by the NCAA.
The tentative roster for All That Skate Spring includes: Yu-Na Kim, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Ilia Kulik, Alissa Czisny, Jeremy Abbott, Stephane Lambiel, Shen and Zhao and Pechalat and Bourzat. Rumor has it that All The Skate will return to LA this summer. Still no word on when the show will come to the Fort Lee/Old Tappan area.
Ask The Bruins
Adam Rippon, Jeremy Abbott and Khokhlova and Andreev have been added to the cast of Skaters Care in Ontario, CA on April 3rd.
Didier Gailhaguet is kissing some major ISU/JSF ass by giving the 2012 Worlds to Japan ''in good faith.'' Given how Didier is always scheming, it seems like he would be a natural replacement for Ottavio should he ever step down from his post of incompetence and outright corruption.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
This season has been a particular dud for the NCAA. With so many top teams failing, it makes us long for the days when the depth of the field was up and healthy competition was abound.
Back in 2004, numerous teams were gunning for the NCAA Title. Conventional wisdom had that it would be between UGA and UCLA, but Michigan was always making a splash. I was present for this competition and it is one of my favorite competitions that I've ever been to.
While seeing quality gymnastics from the likes of Sierra Sapunar and Elise Ray was something to behold, there was nothing like seeing Chelsa Byrd power through a floor routine that mounted with a double layout and ended with a full in at 22 years of age.
The Gym Dogs were hungry for a title that year and unlike the teams who pretend to be in their own huddle and oblivious to scores, Yoculan's team erupted when the announcer made it known that they had achieved the top qualifying score, ahead of UCLA by a sizable margin. Cory Fritzinger literally bounced from her seat. There's something refreshing about seeing a team not just want to do their best, but absolutely slaughter the competition. It is called excitement.
Note how disinterested Elise Ray is in being interviewed by Shannon Miller after an exhausting meet where she was much better than her teammates yet again.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Wendy dishes on DWTS!
It looks like Mother Russia will host the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships, as the government has offered to cover all of the costs. It is almost as though the Soviet Sports Machine mentality still exists. Six countries have bid, including the US (Colorado Springs and Lake Placid), Canada (Vancouver), Croatia, Finland and Austria. An announcement is expected by Friday. If I was a skater, there is no place I'd rather go than Austria in spring time. I'd be all over that Sound of Music tour like the most obnoxious tourist possible. Even though Graz is Austria's bid city, there is no way I'd leave that country without twirling through the Alps in drapes.
Yu-Na Kim is suing her former agent, IB Sports, over money they failed to pay her for some of her endorsements. The amount owed is some serious change: $793,930.
Interview with Sasha Cohen.
Feature on Joey Hagerty's retirement from competitive gymnastics.
Jay Clark Mic'd Up. (Apparently his missed the memo on positive encouragement in the team huddle?!)
The NCAA announced Regional Assignments for the upcoming NCAA Championships.
Gymnastics Legend Nikolai Andrianov passed away Monday at the age of 58.
The premiere of Dancing With The Stars finally arrived. As usual, the cast was announced and people widely proclaimed that this season would be the downfall of the show. The show premiered and now everyone loves it again. There are dancers with talent and complete hot messes. This season, there aren't any skatenastics-related Olympians or former pop stars (or actresses from dance movies) that have jumped out and clearly won the competition from day one. It is important to remember that the competitive aspect of DWTS is minimal; this show is about entertainment. Donny Osmond was able to win the show due to his personality and charm. Donny's feet never improved enough to deserve any of the scores he received in the finals.
Week one is one of the few times the dancers will be scored with a degree of sanity. By midseason, the scores will be in the 8s and 9s for shitty efforts and Brooke Burke will be talking all about their transformation and 'the ballroom bug.' For the record, the only person who could possibly make me long for the days of Samantha Harris is Brooke Burke---the dumb hooch who currently fills that position.
Derek Hough is not with the cast this season, as he is a Hough and filming a movie. He'll probably be working on an album before long, but people don't tend to enjoy it that much whenever the Houghs or Mark Ballas pretend to be musicians. Derek started out on the show as awkward and uncomfortable, but grew to be such a fan favorite that the producers rigged the show by giving him the best partners over the last two seasons. The opposite could be said for how the producers feel about Lacey Schwimmer given her current partner.
Peter and Karen have done wonders with Yu-Na (as has David Wilson.) Even from just simple practice clips, her overall skating has improved tremendously. The clips say this is her short program, but none of the clips include any music. Yu-Na is supposed to debut her programs at Worlds.
She looks ready to kick some ass at Worlds. Now if only she'll compete. Translations would be great appreciated!
Monday, March 21, 2011
As usual, Penn State put up a great fight and still ended up just shy of the beating Michigan for the conference title.
Sean 'Ginger Jackson' Rabbitt is putting together a show to benefit Japanese Tsunami/Earthquake relief efforts. Everyone's favorite red-headed Jewish boy is putting together Skaters Care on April 3rd in Ontario, CA. Skaters are continually being added to the cast. The current cast includes:
Sean Rabbitt, Derrick Delmore, Lindsay Davis and Themi Leftharis, Courtney Hicks, Elle Kawamura, Vanessa Lam, Bebe Liang and Braden Overett, Parker Pennington, Doug Razzano and Caroline Zhang.
Check out the event website for more details.
Yu-Na Kim returns to Korea (with video.) The question is whether or not she will compete at Worlds now that she has a hefty schedule of professional conflicts. She has a show in Korea in early May. They could always reschedule Festa On Ice, but her true desire to compete could be tested. Korea is also supposed to hold a skating reality show that may or may not involve her.
2011 Worlds Updates:
Worlds location will be announced on Friday.
Worlds will be in North America or Europe.
Ottavio is very concerned with not pissing off Japan, as the country provides much of the TV rights $$$ in the modern era of the sport he has done his best to ruin:
``We cannot do the event in China or Taiwan or (South) Korea,'' Cinquanta said. ``It would be a slap in the face to the Japanese.''
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Aliya Mustafina VT1, VT2
Uneven Bars Finals
Balance Beam Finals
They just keep coming. Posting more in a separate post so that computers will actually be able to load!
For the past several weeks, I've been saying that it looks like the Crimson Tide is peaking. It wound up being their night, even with an alleged boost in scoring for the Tide. They were the only team to score a 49+ on every event and they dominated vault with a 49.500. It was not a perfect meet for the Tide, which means they have room to grow for the National Championships. Momentum is certainly on their side at this point.
Kayla Hoffman had the top score of the night with a 9.950 on vault. She captured SEC Gymnast of the Year honors for her tremendous senior campaign. Hoffman also recorded a 9.875 on bars, but only scored a 9.750 on beam and a 9.775 on floor. At her best, Hoffman is one of the top All Arounders in the country.
Geralen Stack Eaton only recorded a 9.600 on bars, but the junior made up for it with a 9.9 on vault and a pair of 9.925s on beam and floor.
Freshman Sarah DeMeo proved to be a key performer with a 9.8 on vault, 9.850 on bars and a 9.900 on beam. Fellow freshman Kim Jacob went 9.900 on beam and 9.875 on floor.
Sophomore Ashley Sledge was also key with a 9.875 on vault, 9.850 on bars and a 9.9 on floor.
Marissa Gutierrez recorded a 9.900 on vault and a 9.875 on floor, but only tallied a 9.500 for her effort on beam.
Diandra Milliner had a strong 9.875 vault, but was mired in the 9.7-range on the other three events.
One could only imagine how unstoppable this team with be with Ashley Priess and Jordan Moore.
It wasn't Florida's night at the 2011 SEC Championships. It seems that Florida hit their stride about a month ago and have been struggling ever since. Macko rolled her ankle during Monday's conditioning session and was only available on bars (9.875). Ashanee Dickerson was feeling the onset of the flu and didn't have her best meet. Errors on beam really hindered the Gators' quest for another conference title. Beam has been their weakest event this season, thus the errors they made are not all that unexpected. They simply need to execute at a higher level. Marissa's routine has far too many difficult skills for her to be consistent with and Alaina's 9.725 is characteristic of her work at times. Ashanee's bend at the waist was also not unexpected.
As they look forward, having Macko back will certainly held the team garner a few extra tenths. More importantly, they need to rediscover the momentum that they had during the first half of the season. With a month left, it is not too late to turn it around, but they need to have a good Regional meet.
Alaina Johnson did pick up SEC Freshman of the Year honors and Rhonda Faehn was voted SEC Coach of the Year.
The University of Georgia had a mixed bag of a meet once again. Cassidy McComb has been a true leader this season and has even surpassed her freshman year form. The last two years of been a struggle for Cassidy physically and emotionally. After resting her back after her freshman year, Cassidy struggled with her fitness level for two years and her gymnastics suffered. Emotionally, she had to deal with the separation of her parents, which only compounded her struggles in the gym. Cassidy is back performing well, especially on vault and floor. Kat Ding won the bars title for the second year in a row.
Another bright spot for the Gym Dogs was Laura Moffatt who replaced Lindsey Cheek after she rolled her ankle in warmups. Moffatt rocked a much-needed 9.875 on beam.
Hilary Mauro nailed a 9.900 beam set, but only went 9.8 on vault and 9.775 on floor. Her vault just isn't the cleanest thing out there, but she definitely gave a tenth away on floor. Shayla Worley hit a 9.850 on beam, yet fell on bars.
Overall, it was a decent meet for Georgia. Tanella's 9.550 and Box's 9.600 on floor sank the team, but both routines are sluggish at best. The team looks on track to qualify for the NCAA Championships barring a disastrous Regionals.
Florida and Alabama will have a rematch at NCAAs with the national title on the line.
Note: Macko is listed on beam, but Mahlich actually competed.
Florida SEC Update (with highlights)
Georgia SEC Update (with highlights)
Individual Events Winners
All-Around: Cassidy McComb (39.400)
Vault: Kayla Hoffman (9.950)
Uneven Bars: Kat Ding (9.925)
Balance Beam: Geralen Stack-Eaton (9.925)
Floor Exercise: Ashanee Dickerson and Geralen Stack-Eaton (9.925)
Florida at SECs:
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Event Finals Qualifiers
I must admit that I fully support the decision to reduce event finalists from eight gymnasts to four given what horrendous Handspring Pike Front/ Yurchenko Full splat fests the World Cups tend to be.
He Kexin scratched bars after looking brilliant in training. Let the rampant speculation begin!
Videos after the jump!