Sunday, January 16, 2011
A Dreary Start to the NCAA Season
With a majority of the teams getting off to a particularly slow start this season, it is a dreary time for gymnastics fans. It has been a sleepy time in gymnastics since 2009. Not only did Suzanne Yoculan retire, but a generation of competitive elite gymnasts had all but retired. Last year, the last few remaining members of the ultra-competitive 2001-2004 quadrennium expensed their eligibility. That group was one of the deepest in USA Gymnastics history. The following crop was never as deep, and the resulting generation is NCAA is noticeably weaker.
The campy theatre of NCAA has dimmed considerably. At yesterday's UGA-Utah meet, both teams kept their backs to one another and the energy in the arena was reflective of the labored gymnastics being performed. It wasn't that long ago that Nicole Ford and Ashley Postell came into Athens ready to trashy talk and get into battle with Kelsey Ericksen, Courtney Kupets and Katie Heenan. Queenie was even known to get into it with Coach Yoculan on occasion.
The entire notice of the 'Bruin Bubble' screams Alyssa Beckerman ADD to me. NCAA gymnastics is all about competition and a fight to the death. Jeana Rice, Ashley Miles, Cory Fritzinger and Marline Stephens fed off of one another and welcomed to boos they received as they marched into their rival's arena. These girls were not shrinking violets, nor did anyone accuse them of being so. How would Christa Tanella respond to boos?
When Suzanne Yoculan, Greg Marsden and Sarah Patterson got into it, there was a great deal on intrigue in the media and it made it much more enthralling for the thousands of fans that would sellout the arenas. Sharp-tongued Val Kondos has even been known to put away her Woodenisms to get a little mouthy when visiting the peach state.
The University of Florida looks ready to dominate this season. They may have a scuffle with Alabama once the tide gets its shit together, but they remain far and away the best team. Stanford may challenge, but they lack the brute force at this time. Wouldn't it be refreshing if Marissa King slyly said that the team fully plans on kicking each and every team's ass during the course of the regular season? They don't just hope to win, they plan on embarrassing each and every team at home?
Overly-good sportsman, politically correct answers and fake smiles are wonderful for beauty pageants, but they have no place in elevating a dying sport like collegiate gymnastics. When is the last time you got really jazzed to see a group of sweet, socially-behind girls act like home schoolers who just hoped to do their best and see what happened?
And goodness, can't the girls diet over the holidays when they know the season is just around the corner? Tourischeva knows we wouldn't see so many injuries.
Posted by OlympicEffect at 5:12 PM
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> How would Christa Tanella respond to boos?ReplyDelete
She would have a third helping of dessert, rather than just her regular two.
Trash sells, is that what you're saying?ReplyDelete
I'm all for upping the levels of performance (and fitness), but if you want trash talking, watch basketball.
I guess I'm in the minority, but I don't find ghetto fabulous.
There is a difference between ghetto and just being ultra confident and owning the fact that you're at a meet to win it.ReplyDelete
Your comment is simply rude and should be removed immediately! There is a difference between trash talk and being competitive vs putting down hard-working collegiate athletes. Do you think you could make it through the Gym Dogs' pre-season training?
"And goodness, can't the girls diet over the holidays when they know the season is just around the corner?"ReplyDelete
haha, not to start somebody on a rant about leaving the heavier girls alone, but- all I have to say, is if it were MY job to be bouncing around in a leotard in front of thousands of people and a set of judges, my ass would SO be skipping dessert. I would also be voluntarily joining the extra cardio group
I could not. That doesn't mean Christa isn't sucking wind after a 30-second bar routine.
I haven't been watching NCAA gym all that long, but I do love me some diva bitches and wish that there were more of them on the college scene. Nastia's spent enough time at both Utah and UCLA to have some bitch-face classes. What a missed opportunity! Forget appearing at strip malls, Nast should just peddle her famous bitch-attitude to NCAA teams, goodness knows they need it!ReplyDelete
Today's teams don't strike me as fierce as teams in the past. I haven't been a season ticket holder over the last 2 seasons and unless these gymnast/coaches pull it together, i don't plan on purchasing any more season tickets. Ms Vals tribe looks a mess thus far, and someone promote McCool to head coach @ UGA, she has more balls than Jay!ReplyDelete
God I miss Ashley Postell, Nicolle Ford, Kristina Baskett! But this article also reminds me of how much I loathed Katie Heenan, Kelsey Erickson, Tiffany Tolnay. I think it was their floor routines that bugged me more than anything. Always soooo corny! Potty, Ford, Baskett wrote the book on bringing sex appeal to Floor Routines. Notice I left out Kupets, how can you not love her, she was always so civil, and humble. :) I think the reason Suzanne pissed me off so much was because that arrogant bitch always delivered! I'm still bitter lol... :)ReplyDelete
With that said, I do enjoy being able to watch the Utah/UGA meet without wanting to kill someone. So in all seriousness I think the new era of civility in gymnastics ushered in by Val and her graciousness in 2010. vs. the in your face bitches mentality of Yoculan is a good thing... :) (Though maybe not for ratings) Oh and when speaking of Super Bitch coaches I think it would be unfair if I forgot to mention Sarah Patterson. I have a love hate relationship with both Yoculan and Patterson.ReplyDelete
It may be all nicey-nice now, but is isn't exciting. It is fun to hate another team.ReplyDelete
Something shifted from 04-08 in terms of how the quad was handled. And you are right there is no spark no fire in any of the teams. The Ashley Priess / Shayla Worley / Olivia Courtney / Corrie Lothrop ( or whatever her name is)/ Sam Peszeck/ Amber Trani / Geralen Stack Eaton / Natasha Kelley and the rest of the 08 hopefuls and leftovers are kind of a yawn. Not to say they arent good technicians, but there is no fire no drive. With the exception of Sam, the entire 08 team is training elite now, thats never happened mid quad. The 2000 quad didnt have a lot of depth, but those olympians went to collegiate gymanstics successfully and there was still the spark and fun in the college teams. I think the 04 quad started to show signs of overtraining overinjury etc and now its worse, so many of the 08 quad members are consistently hurt.ReplyDelete
Why are the elite gymnasts in the US hurt so much more than the elites in Russia and China and Romania. What are they doing thats keeping their athletes healthier than ours?
Injuries in gymnastics are not a US phenomenon. PS interesting how you singled out Corrie Lothrop as (whatever her name is) Biased much?ReplyDelete
"Why are the elite gymnasts in the US hurt so much more than the elites in Russia and China and Romania."ReplyDelete
I'm not sure they are. You just hear more about the US girls.
There were tons of injured girls between 04-08 but now there were just more of them. Many talented girls choose not to go elite now that the rules have changed. Some of the elvel 10s have more power than the elites.ReplyDelete
There is a noticeable dropoff. Utah and UGA are on the descent. They are graduating stronger gymnasts than they are bringing in to replace them. Miss Val may have been "gracious'' last year because it was a foregone conclusion that her team would win, but she has been more vocal and competitive when the legitimacy of her team's scores have been challenged. Back in '03, it was thought that some of the scores out west were becoming embarrassingly absurd. There 7-8 teams capable of making a run at a 198 back in '04. The scoring tightened but so did the competitiveness of the gymnasts. There was a fire and a spirit. Gymnastics has been a dying sport since the passing of Title IX, but it has really dropped off over the last two years.
Rivalries are key to keeping interest and filling stadiums. It may be nice that everyone acts like a good little schoolgirl, but that isn't a competition. Everyone treats winning as an afterthought with their comments about competing in bubbles. There is a reason there is an opponent in gymnasts, track and swimming, where there isn't a defense. It is because the opponent brings out a greater performance. Yes, the teams have been slow and injured at the start, but they are also lacking the fire overall. It is fun to hate another team, because it is what fuels athletes and fans. The new era tends to almost appear to be complacency. That won't sustain fans or winning records.
Corrie Lothrop isn't exactly a memorable gymnast. She was an Olympic alternate almost by accident and isn't someone who inspires or makes people gasp.ReplyDelete
Corrie Lothrop would have been lucky to be the leadoff on the 2006 or 2007 Utah team. Now she is the anchor.ReplyDelete
Corrie Lothrop didn't become an Olympic alternate by accident, she became an Olympic alternate when she nailed her routines at Trials. She doesn't have the Charisma of past Utah greats like Postell, Ford, Baskett, but really who in the NCAA right now does?ReplyDelete
I think some people are over-hyping past gymnasts. While there were some greats, very few of them ever made me gasp, who are you thinking of that made you gasp? Exception of Kupets/Postell, who were both on another level!ReplyDelete
Don't forget - the US was demolished in the 2000 Olympics, they were not successful at all (not commenting on the reasons just mentioning the head space) and I think you'll find a lot of those girls who went from elite to NCAA went there with a whole lot of anger/dissappointment/rage & a wanting-to-kick-so-much-arse-and-prove-myself kind of attitude that it really helped NCAA be way more interesting than it is now & fueled a lot of the rivalry. The girls transitioning from elite to NCAA now seem a lot more content and seem happy to compete their remaining time quietly instead.ReplyDelete
But that's just my opinion :)
I couldnt remember how to spell her name (corrie's that is) thats the only reason for some reason I have a mental block there, I like her gymnastics, her and alania johnson have been rock solid consistent...and really good If Lou Peszeck wasn't so high up with USA Gymnastics I wonder what the 08 team would have looked like.ReplyDelete
It's sad that a post about the boredom infusing NCAA gymn gets as much attention as any of the meets we've seen thus far. So sad.ReplyDelete
At least EFs were good last year. When ACK and Kupets tied for the FX title two years ago, I had a brain hemorrhage.
That is an interesting trend between NCAA and the international scene. Successful Olympics equals down time in the NCAA... I don't think one of the Mag 7 went to the college game and Athens as pretty good and Bejing was pretty darn good.ReplyDelete
If we want good NCAA competition we've got to start bombing out of Olympics!!!
While I agree that many teams have had slow starts, I don't think that makes the season less interesting. My interest has gone up since 2009 because of the end of Georgia's dominance. I used to think "Georgia's going to win, it won't be close, why watch if there's no suspense."ReplyDelete
Now, I think there's more suspense about who will win, so my interest actually is piqued.
NCAA was very competitive and entertaining in the last 90s, even after the Mag 7 won. It just depends on the level of talent and personality in the country. The lack of depth over the last quad was less apparent because the US relied on the same girls: Liukin, Memmel, Sacramone, Johnson to dominate the international ranks and comprise most World and Olympic Teams.ReplyDelete
Let's not forget it's possible to be nice and still show some attitude. I'll never forget Grace Taylor giving Bama fans a piece of her mind when she thought they were being too rude to her team--that was awesome!ReplyDelete
The 3 up / 3 count 6 total gymnasts in 2004 and 2008 and even the 6 total gymnasts 5 up 4 count system in 2000 doesn't count on a team being deep in 96 it was 7 6 up 5 count....totally new math. The A and B scores... you don't need 5 all around gymnasts on a team like you did in 96 or even in 2000, you need the 6 best people that in combination give you the highest total. If you replaced Chellsie Memmel in 08 with Jana Bieger on Bars maybe the US takes bronze or doesn't medal at all if Bieger falls on 3 up 3 count because of her lack of difficulty and score potential as compared to Memmel...gymnasts level 10 to elite are being trained to this new system in a way that even in the 2004 quad they weren't being trained. I think it impacts collegiate gymnastics in that when they get to the NCAA which is on the 10.0 system the difficulty is not important and there is room not to count a score. A yurchenko full versus a 1.5.... executed cleanly yes, but still... you dont get to compete the BIG skills in the NCAA because there is no point advantage / team incentive like there is in the international elite system where you have big skills and lower execution scores. If collegiate gymnasts have a good big skills make those the 10.0 skilled start value...give the coaches some incentive to get the women competing tougher routines and vaults that are more difficult than a yurchenko fullReplyDelete
I think the field in 2004 was much deeper which lead to more NCAA stars. In 2008 fewer gymnasts even pursue elite because of the code and 2/3 of the team went pro.ReplyDelete
I think some of the civility came from Jay Clark's recruiting practices, he wanted nice Christian girls and not hyper competitive bitches. Although Georgia had plenty of covert bitchy moments last year in the slide to mediocrity. (their behavior at Missouri Reigonal was rude as hell)
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