Sunday, May 20, 2012

This and That (YAS Review)

Daisuke Takahashi exhibition.

Danna Durante is confirmed as UGA's head coach.  They wanted to start over, but did not imagine the difficulty in hiring a new coach.  Those who wanted the position were turned down, while many coaches they wanted were not interested.  One SEC coach was turned down due to personal life issues.  They now have a coach who has only been a head coach for one year, where she was 0-8 in her conference.  Granted, she is being handed a team with much better gymnasts.  Durante is rumored to be excited but nervous, which anyone would in her position.  One doesn't usually make an entry-level candidate a CEO overnight.  Durante has a lot to prove and I hope she has a good pharmacist or liquor store to help her cope when the going gets tough.  I would be sweating bullets in her position.  This is a case where an AD overestimate the desirability of their own program and should've had a better plan for succession in place.

A new article questioning whether skating judging is more corrupt than ever.  It is difficult to prove when all of the judges go ape shit for P Chiddy.  I applaud the Boston Globe for spending time and money on a sport that only dozens of people still watch.

Power Player of the Week: Michelle Kwan

For those who are unaware, Shawn Johnson recently said that she was just too thin in Beijing  I applaud Shawn for taking such a bold step and being so authentic with the media.  She has a very busy training schedule, but she has always made time to promote healthy body image and nutrition with her endorsements of McDonald's, Nestle, Coca Cola, ice cream and Ortega taco shells.  Shawn was too thin in Beijing and gained weight afterwards.  She was hurt by the comments about her weight gain and didn't think society was right, so she decided to lose all the weight she gained and show society.  I personally think Shawn was just far too thin to contend with that Nastia Liukin at the Olympics.

I really appreciate that Audrey Weisiger is promoting choreography with YAS, but this week's ball challenge is about up there with Michael Weiss' Backsteet Boys exhibition for its innuendo and uncomfortable level of hot mess. I really respect all of the entrants for taking a big risk and have amateur work judged by the public every week, but it is clear that they need direction that is more constructive and pointed than anything J Lo is giving on American Idol.  Let's discuss YAS as a family...

Bebe Liang's ''ball challenge'' for YAS.  I respect Bebe for doing this, but my inner Emily Tuttle is giving Bebe the 'bitch please' eye.  Jock Jams.  Dodgeball.  Choreography Competition.  I just cannot.  I get that skaters are so sheltered that some admire crap performed by Scott Hamilton, but this is not going to go over well with any of the judges who studied modern dance.  Since I have yet to kiss the asses of YAS, I will imagine as though I have and begin judging the submissions.  The creativity is a 1.5 out of 5.  To be fair, it looks like the four guys only ran through the program two or three times.  The choreography is worthy of a middle school talent show.  On a positive note, it looks like at least two of the guys may have an Asian fetish.  Bebe is looking happy and fit.  She could be the next Mrs. Zuckerberg.  I imagine the judges will find it hard to mark Bebe harshly, the same way online fans never attacked her skating much because they felt it they squinted hard enough, she could totally pass for Karen Kwan.

I enjoy that Robert Mauti begins his video by having young skaters like 'straight sports' (because so many boys at nationals are brimming with heterosexuality) and he ends it by kissing Audrey's ass.  I do get that the ball challenge is beyond inane and the choreographers don't have much time for a prop challenge, but basketball on ice isn't exactly innovative.  Or is it soccer?  I was never any good at those things.  Rob's piece has much more substance than Bebe's and I imagine the judges will give it in the 3.5-4.0 range unless they are wooed like Michael Jackson would be by this submission.  Having been in Marching Band, getting a group of people to do anything is a bitch.

Garrett Kling's balls are good, but the lack of execution is apparent compared to the other work. Garrett's balls are smaller than the others, but I do like the quirky video game theme. I see much more innovation in this than some of the other submissions.  Garrett does deserve extra credit for his 90210 hair.  The boy would rock some '90s Pert Plus commercials.  This piece would be much better with a month of rehearsals.  It is much cooler than some of the other submissions, but there are moments where it does get a bit sloppy.  The choreography is certainly more interesting than many of the other pieces, with more actual movement and skating going on. The challenge is not exactly worthwhile overall, so I'll give it a 4.0 (I could see it going 3.5-4.5.)

Sean Rabbitt's submission was a step up this week.  With so many fantastic skaters in his area, I find it curious that Sean would select Ricky Dornbush for a choreography competition.  With Grant Hochstein, Caroline Zhang and Karen Kwan (Ms. The Mission) herself, I would choose a skater more known for their performance and artistic capabilities.  Sean embraces his inner nerd in an infectious way.  There is some good choreographic content in this piece, but most of it doesn't actually utilize the prop.  If Emily Tuttle is judging, I see her getting all Carrie Ann Inaba on us and deducting for the lack of utilization of the props and the Brian Joubert music choice.  I'd have Sean in the 3-range.  Definite improvement, but it is clear who has entered the competition before and who has not.

Mark Hanretty's piece is going to be liked by the judges.  There are moments where it looks like the sort of video that could go viral with more time, better effects and frankly, a Swedish accent.  It could definitely use a bit more of a Eurotrash feel.  The song alone warrants a deduction.  Overall, it is the strongest submission of the week.  It should go in the 4.0-4.5 range.

I want to root for Mirielle to come back from using Mark Ballas as her inspiration, but this piece is not making sense to me.  I don't get what she is going for whatsoever.  It feels like we are watching the last year of the Ice Capades (when Dorothy's skeezy husband ran it into the ground.)

Katherine Hill's submission is a bit of a mixed bag.  There is some VERY interesting choreography done, especially with four people.  Given the difficulty of the ball challenge, I do question the choice of using multiple skaters.  That said, there is something fun and effective about it.  The balls are not exactly utilized for any real purpose beyond dodgeball on ice, but the cool moves performed by Garrett Kling and Jason Brown make up for it.

Amy Nunn's submission is certainly a step up from dodgeball-on-ice, but it is still a bit literal for my liking.  You know Anissina would be holding a blue and green ball as though she were Mother Earth saving the planet from the destruction of man.  Amy found a very lovely Sasha Cohen to skate.  The piece is nice enough.  I say it is a solid 3.0.

Dominique Dawes' thoughts on Adult Gymnastics

Dare Maxwell trains a maloney+pak salto combination.  Get this girl to KJ, stat!


  1. Attacking a then 16-year-old girl for her weight? That's low, even for you. I also laugh my ass off because you consistently refer to Shawn as a mediawhore but your gigantic Nastia boner ignores the fact that while Shawn was training and competing last year, all Nastia did was tease the world about her "will she or won't she?" comeback. I don't care for either of these athletes and frankly, don't want either on the London team unless they can actually offer something besides talk. But of course Shawn is a mediawhore and of course Nastia is one because gymnastics is a business for them. How are you reporting about the sport yet NOT acknowledge this? Since 2008 gymnastics has been not just a sport but their source of income and all endorsement deals and media appearances are of course about money. It's actually laughable that you don't realize this.

  2. Whenever Nastia does anything for the media, I label it mediawhore on the side. I'm not attacking Shawn for being fat in Beijing, I'm just saying she did is not someone many of us would ever consider to be underweight by gymnastics standards.

    I realize gymnastics is their source of income. I realize Shawn did come back. What is becoming ridiculous is that Shawn is skipping Nationals due to her book coming out and is saying everything possible about body image, weight, losing in Beijing NOW to keep her name in the press when she won't be competing, yet is pretending to be.

    I was VERY harsh on Nastia in 2009 and 2010.

  3. AJ is always harsh on girls who aren't size zero or less. I mean, he holds up Gabby Douglas as the "fittest" members of the current Team USA hopefuls when it is clear she is an underweight twig who looks the way she does because she hasn't gone through puberty yet, unlike some of the other girls who he attacks for - gasp! - having the nerve to develop breasts.

  4. Gabby has ripped muscles and is doing hindorffs, tumbling like a champ, doing amanars, great leaps,etc. she is certainly fit, quick and agile in a way reminiscent of Dominique Dawes. Just because she doesn't have the biggest bicep is not a lack of fitness. Other girls are quite incredibly fit as well. Gabby's quick twitch muscle really stands out. You don't see me talking about Komova'w fitness because she is a waif. Get a clue and pick a smarter battle.

  5. I will say that AJ has said that Johnny, Meryl and Alissa all need to put on weight in skating. He isn't as thin obsessed as one might think. He has been pretty real about how it negatively affects Johnny's skating when he gets too thin and loses strength and power.