Monday, October 31, 2011

Comparing Free Dances

There have been two dance competitions held on the Grand Prix and plenty of teams may have competed, but this season is all about the rivalry between Marlie and Voir, the reigning World Champions vs. the reigning Olympic Champions.  USA vs. The Great White North.  While there may have been a great feeling of a North American team over the last few seasons, things are getting more contentious as there is only room for one team at the top.  As skating aficionados, we are lucky to be witnessing one of the sport's great rivalries.  Both teams are brilliant and worthy of winning multiple world titles, but things are heating up like never before.  In the past, there was always the feeling that Voir was the superior team and Marlie had caught up a bit during the 2008-09 season when Tessa was off the ice due to shin surgery.  Last year was Marlie's to win and they did despite having to make tons of revisions to their tango free dance.  Many people, myself included, were not sure about their chemistry suiting the tango, but sticking with it may have been the best thing they ever did for their growth as a team.  With both teams having ample training time over the summer, we are finally able to see both teams at full strength and skating like champions.  The judges are preparing to compare their free dances and are likely watching videos of both teams constantly, so it is about time that we do the same.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Asshole of the Day

"We still need to keep our eye on the prize," Geddert said of the London Games. "I'm supportive of the idea in that Jordyn isn't cut out for college gymnastics. I don't think the 14 weekends in a row doing watered-down gymnastics, that's not what she's all about. When you compete with the best in the world, I don't see her sinking her teeth into that type of situation."

John Geddert on Jordyn Wieber going pro.

Things you don't say...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Favorite Things Friday!: Friends' Edition Part 2

I interjected one of my own favorite things, as I am learning to be a Russian diva on the ice and can't get enough of Tamara Moskvina (nee: Bratus.)

My friends at it...pestering me with their favorites yet again!

Pan Ams

The Pan Am Games have been a bit of a Worlds hangover for the participants.  It was supposed to be a cake walk for Team USA, but these girls have been challenged by Canada a bit more than they presumed entering the meet.  To their credit, Mikaela Gerber, Kristina Vaculik and Peng Peng Lee have performed to the best of their abilities and should have the experience necessary to help Team Canada earn an Olympic berth regardless of the French Canadian quota present at the test event.  Peng Peng looks like she will be quite successful at UCLA; she certainly has experience competing her Yurchenko full.

For the Americans, Martha Karolyi's absence speaks volumes about the amount of belief she has in the members of the squad to become important contributors at the Olympic Games.  When the team was named, it had promise that has seemingly evaporated with the withdrawal of Chellsie Memmel and the woefully sluggish nature of Bridget Sloan.  Shawn Johnson just missed making Worlds and was supposed to make a splash in Guadalajara.  This year's event can only be seen as a partial success for Team USA.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shawn's Big Moment

The event she was expected to win at Pan Ams...

This and That

The Pan Am Games will be broadcast live at 5 PM tonight.  Check USAG's website for details.  Bridget Sloan was supposed to compete all four events, but it relegated to bars and floor due to a foot injury sustained in training.  Sloan is one of the few people who does floor on a foot injury.  Then again, when your feeling for beam is shaky to begin with, a foot injury is deadly.  Baby Girl needs to have a good meet, get her butt into training and hope she is in the best shape of her life for next year.  She cannot take time off after a long season where she only competed at Pan Ams.  Martha is choosing to watch this meet on video, which shows just how much she believes in some of these girls.  Shawn Johnson tweeted a photo of an 'upgrade,' which appears to be the back full she performed at camp but has yet to show in a televised meet.

The USA lineup is:
Caquatto- VT, UB, BB, FX
DeZiel- VT, BB, FX
Jay- VT, UB, BB, FX
Johnson- VT, UB, BB
McLaughlin- VT, UB, BB, FX
Sloan-UB, FX

Jonathan Horton didn't get enough face time at Worlds and is letting us known he'll be back ASAP from his foot surgery.

Mother Russia has raised eyebrows in the boring world of gymnastics for questioning the judging system at Worlds while subtly implying that they deserved higher scores.  I applaud all Russians for their candid nature, even when they look ridiculous.  Many annoying Americans accused Komova of poor sportsmanship for crying on a medal ceremony and looking upset over not winning a title she clearly wanted.  In the world of Mother Russia, that is about a 1.5 on the sportsmanship meter.  I'm used to Slutskaya, Butryskaya and Plushenko storming out of Kiss and Cry areas and Khorkina ripping off medals.  It is refreshing and thoroughly entertaining in a world where Michelle Kwan taught us all to bullshit brilliantly at press conferences.  Let's practice our favorite sayings, such as "It's not the color of the medal, it's the process, "(I'll just stay around for a decade and wear gold dresses at every available moment) and "the ice is my canvas."  To her credit, Komova merely says they have a lot of work to do between now and London.  Our girl Aliya Mustafina would've thrown a few bitches under the bus.

Speaking of Mustafina, Alexandrov says she may be back in competition as early as December.  There are indications she may compete in Acapulco, December 9-10.

For those who can't get enough of awarding the Russian juniors gold medals before they ever set foot at senior ISU events (thinking of a few specific posters), I've added a few videos from a recent domestic event after the jump.  This should take care of your glove fix for the week.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Marlie Mania: The Free Dance

Skate America was all about Marlie this year.  Their free dance is positively stunning.  It is exactly the vehicle they need to win another world title.  One can only imagine what the program will look like by March.  Most importantly, the program is very different from any of their other free dances.  This is what will stretch them and put them in position to become a legendary team.  Marlie's program has genuine charm.  Even though Meryl's fat ass is weighing them down yet again, they look fit for a glorious season.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Skate America: The Short Dance

Like many of you, I sat through some terrible skating last night in anticipation of Marlie's competitive debut for the 2011-2012 season.  After sitting through Tonia Kwiatkowski's commentary, Florent Amodio's glittered ass, Paul and Islam killing my fantasy hopes for the season and Asher and Hill, I was relieved and excited to see Meryl Davis glowing in a melon-colored dress.  After getting through all of that, someone from Ice Network switched the feed off from Marlie to a Universal Sports rugby ad and never fixed their error until they reached the Kiss and Cry.

Note to self: Turn skating off if you are only seventy seconds into the Grand Prix season and Tonia Kwiatkowski is already mentioning her last-minute call to 1998 Worlds.  Tonia takes any opportunity to mention it... A-N-Y.

Arena alert:  Gaysian Attorney met Judy Blumberg (his reason for living.)  I imagine there was a homoriffic squeal.


Short Dance videos after the jump...including Marlie's full program!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Favorite Things Friday!: Friends' Edition

The other day, my friend 'Lautowa' had the nerve to give me his honest skating opinions.  Never one to hold back, he had the nerve to utter filth such as ''Michelle Kwan is boring because she is so consistent," and "I really like Plushenko better than Yagudin."  After instructing him to wash the filth out of his mouth, I thought it would be fun to ask my friends for some of their favorite performances during this Grand Prix season.  I initially was thinking about just doing it for this week, but a number of them sent me about dozen videos a piece.  Apparently people don't understand the request of send their favorite video (singular.)  I have enough to last us through Grand Prix fever.

Perhaps we will all learn to appreciate different tastes...even those who are clearly misguided.  This week, Ioana the Romanian Vampiress, Lautowa, Tarasova's Mink, Gaysian Attorney, Frau Mueller, Romanza, Laura and LuSpinda Ruhthless mesmerize us with their unique viewpoints.

Disgustingly good.
Romanza also sent this SYTYCD goodie, which insufferable bastards won't allow us to embed.

This and That

Marlie discuss their new programs in lovely attire.  Commence Grand Prix fever!  Meryl and Charlie know how to contradict themselves.  They never focus on placement, but let it be known that they intended to win last year and that it was their time.

Johnny Weir knows how to keep his name in the press.  The diva told Time Out New York that he will return to the competitive arena as Carmen.  Definitely worth reading.  When *is* season two going to air?  The show returns as often as Ab Fab.

Savchenko and Szolkowy plan to debut a throw triple axel at Skate America.

How long until Jordyn Wieber goes pro?

Bridget Sloan was named team caption of the Pan Am squad.

Florent Amodio is banking on the quad this season.

Foray Into Adult Skating: ''Too Much New''

I'm back on the ice almost every day and am starting to feel my hamstrings, my thighs, my ass, the cuts on my ankles from my boots and the black and blue marks on my hips.  It has been said that if you stop falling, you stop learning.  I must be learning a ton.

Today, I had my first lesson in almost seven weeks.  It was my seventh time back on the ice and I felt ready, but I am not jumping as of yet.  I believe that part of why I sprained my ankle must be due to my boots being loose, yet I can never seem to find a comfortable setting that I use every time.  It is time to get to work if I have any prayer of testing or performing this year.  I've been working on getting my lobes, crossovers, mohawks and three-turns back.  The owner of the rink near my house commented on my work ethic on the ice, but I still feel tremendously behind and making up for lost time.

Muscle memory is a strange thing.  I couldn't remember all of the different steps I was working on with Natasha before I hurt my ankle.  I remember pieces...but is it an inside turn or an outside turn?  My good side or bad side?  Natasha certainly remembered what he did.  I get confused with which is right inside and outside.  There are times during my lesson where I just focusing on 'doing' and save the 'thinking' part for later.  If I'm yelled at enough, I will do it.  "Thees ees your meestake."  "You make meestake."  I make a lot of them.  I was able to do just about everything we did last time and then some once I was shown it again.  My brain really needs to get with the lingo, as I remember corrections and cues associated with steps more than whatever they are called.  My power three turns register in my head as "beeeg step" because of the part after the turn when one transfer their weight before doing the back crossovers connected to it.  Oh, an "more extension!"  There is never enough extension.  Ever.

Natasha got in touch with my inner diva today when she realized that I learn everything quicker if she gives me those grand Russian arm movements to do with anything.  I was having Johnny Weir moments on the ice.  Where is my glittery onesie?  The skintight under armour just isn't gay enough.  My inner Artur Dmitriev lives for the grand arm movements whenever possible.  I've even been able to get in position for my 'bad side' back crossovers as long as I can do something dramatic with my arms.  If you recall, I have different bad sides.  I am better at right front crossovers than backward right crossovers.  I'm working on forward right crossovers-Mohawk-back right crossovers-recovery.

Waltz-three turns have become my life.  Now I'm doing them with an extra 'recovery' and they are full of arm movements, more extension and bend the knee.  Just remember, there is no such thing as extension.  More extension is like extra strength Tylenol (which I always need a lot of with my ankle)...strength and extension just aren't cutting it.

I've been doing my waltz jumps and just need to cut Schindler's List.  I've been working on the program and doing crossovers during the parts that I'm going to cut out.  I do it three times a session, which is working on getting my sorry ass into shape.  I've worked salchows and have temporarily changed my entrance from a three-turn to a mohawk until my ankle is strong enough to handle checking the three turn.  I haven't been doing many a day, as the force from the takeoff has a way of jarring my ankle.  I also live for the salchow falls...especially when they get all swingy and off balance.  Those always teach you to check a bit harder.

At the end of my lesson, Natasha was ready to teach me some cray-cray looking thing she refers to as the 'drunk step.'  Ay dios mio, my head was spinning already and I asked if we could review everything we worked on.  "Oh, oh..too much new."  Natasha taught at the rink where Natalia Mishkutenok and Navka trained.  Somehow I think my learning curve is a bit slower.  Let's see if I can remember anything tomorrow

Love It or Hate It?


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A TV Moment

Simon claimed to 'make a big mistake' (for TV ratings) last night and ditched the big voice for the cute cherub.

Only to admit it later...

The judges clearly knew the girls were the strongest and found a way to make America root for Melanie in spite of her forgettable personality.

The best take on the night's teledrama.

"Won't someone please get Stacy Francis some waterproof mascara already?!'- Mommy Dearest

Big miss of the night---Paula eliminate 4sure of the night for being a carbon copy of Boys II Men.  We will get to be thoroughly amused by two hoes who only Simon likes.  This will be a good season.

"I'm more excited for them to have me than I am for myself,"-Simon

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This and That

The Shibtanis skating to The Prayer at Evening With Champions.

ESPN has a must-read article on the Shib sibs that confirms just how much of an A+ Asian Skating Mother the two have.  She does indeed tape every practice and review it with the kids.  They also have a ballet room in their house. Kris Jenner could learn a thing or two from Mrs. Shibutani.

IG spoke to Rebecca Bross about her injury.  Rebecca vows to be back in top form, but it is evident that she cannot condition the way she'd like to given the injury.  She has a tough battle ahead of her.  Sadly, she has spent much of the last four years coming back from injuries.  Rebecca's best chance at making the Olympics is doing all four events and hoping she can be considered as a back-up on vault.  It will not be an easy road.

Alissa Czisny told Ice Network about her summer training during her media call.  Alissa will be performing a Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, a solo Triple Lutz, adding a Triple Salchow and performing two Triple Flips in her seven-triple program.  It may be tough for her to be as consistent this season, but she is raising the bar with her technical content.  If Alissa wants to be at the top of the sport, she needs to advance technically.

Richard Dornbush will debut a new short at Skate America.

Belu and Bitang are PISSED and ready to clean house in Romania after the team's medalless performance at Worlds.

Team USA preps for Pan Am dominance.

A chance to listen to Die Fledermaus and imagine Marlie's music edits.  Once you get past the '96 compulsory section, you realize just how wonderful this program can be.  This may be just the vehicle they need to stay on top of the podium this season.

The British Judge: How Did You Call It?

You're the ninth judge in Finland and everyone is looking to you for the tie-breaking vote.  How would your inner Vanessa Riley judge this event?  Be prepared to defend it at the judges' meeting the next morning.

Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Worlds: The Direction of the Sport

There is great debate about who deserved to win the all-around at the 2011 World Gymnastics Championships.  While debate is healthy, it is not a good sign for the sport when the audience feels one gymnast deserves to win and the results say otherwise.  Gymnastics has become exceedingly confusing.  Many of the expert commentators announcing the event felt Viktoria Komova deserved to win the event.  The truth is that Jordyn Wieber and Viktoria Komova both left the door open for the judges to deduct in the competition.  When that happens, politics and the critical eyes of judges come into play.  One's vision of the 'ideal gymnast' also has an impact on their opinion of the decision.

For those who have watched the sport for decades, it is clear that Viktoria Komova's classical gymnastics is obviously superior.  Those who began watching intently during the last decade may appreciate the power of Jordyn Wieber more and feel that gymnastics should be more about skills.  The FIG has given statements that they aren't pleased with the direction of the sport, yet their own policies and open-ended judging system sent the sport on a roller-coaster ride to becoming an obscure sport like aerial skiing and the luge.

This and That

Oksana Baiul put together a strong performance at Evening With Champions.  The Koreans in the audience were amused by Oksana's generic 'Asian program,' but you have to remember that this is a girl whose education was tenuous at best.  You always have to hand it to Baiul...she is full of surprises.  Her spins are particularly beautiful.

Thousands of South Koreans flew to Boston to see their girl Yu-Na Kim perform.  Unfortunately, Yu-Na was a sassy girl who did not want to jump this weekend.  Yu-Na may be a girl who doesn't jump for less than six figures.  Paul Wylie asked her to 'do something else' at one point, and Yu-Na did yet another ina bauer.  Girl, it's not THAT nice. Yu-Na's sassy performance was improved; however, she did not receive the biggest post-program applause from the audience.

Evan Lysacek announced that he will not compete at Skate America after being unable to come to a financial agreement with the USFSA regarding his contract.  Skaters of Evan's stature have been paid handsomely in the past.  Without the USFSA cheesefests, the contracts have become increasingly important.  Evan isn't supposed to tour this year, so this is about more than just the love of the sport.

Marlie announced they will be channeling J Lo during the circular steps and lift in their short dance.  Meryl said being World Champions has not changed their everyday lives, as people only care about skating once every four years now.

Adorable and touching photos of the pediatric cancer patients who get to skate at Evening With Champions.

Working with Takahashi

Richard Dornbush article.

As people have been hinting, Martha Karolyi announces she may not retire after the Olympics.  You know she isn't going anywhere until Valeri is done coaching his athletes...  The Olympic Team will be announced at Trials, but Martha isn't excited about letting those girls have a mental letdown.  Everyone practice saying it... 'the prep-a-ra-tion'

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What I'm Living For...

Drew stole my heart...

Favorite Things Friday!: 1994 Edition

No one moves like our girl!

This and That

Gracie Gold won the short at the JGP Talinn Cup.

Marlie announced that they changed their free dance from La Strada to Die Fledermaus.  I respect them for doing something out of the typical Marlie realm, but I was okay with them not taking a huge risk in the free dance since this since Meryl channeling J Lo has everyone on edge for good reason.  That said, I was really looking for to a gorgeous patented Marlie program to La Strada.  I can't handle Die Fledermaus after wearing out my tape of the 1996 Olympics during my youth.  It is still far too soon.  I couldn't even handle the music when Yu-Na Kim skated to it.

Julianne Hough's Footloose received an 'A-' from Entertainment Weekly.  That is impressive from a magazine that hates almost everything.

Courtney Hicks underwent surgery yesterday and will be out for the season.

Youtube Sensation Starr Andrews competed at SWP Regionals in the Pre-Preliminary category.  I prefer her whipping her hair, but it is awesome to see her skate again.

The Martha Interview


In many ways, Martha Karolyi is the biggest star in the sport.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Foray Into Adult Skating: Sur La Glace

After five and a half weeks of being off the ice with a sprained ankle, I ventured back on the ice yesterday.  I spent a great deal of time on my ankle this weekend and was feeling uncertain, but I had set a date on the calendar to suck it up and try skating again.  Last week, I felt like I probably could skate.  I've decided to hold off on skating until I did at least a week's worth of yoga in order to strengthen the balancing muscles in my ankle.

I've made sure to work out and keep up with my conditioning while off the ice.  Never before have I felt strong from my upper body and core compared to my Polish thighs and dancer calves.  The feeling of gliding has been missing from my life and there were times I was sad about it, but I found myself nervous about the inevitable painful hot mess that skating again would likely be.

The Men's Post

Link to Complete Coverage (For those who can't access Universal Sports)

Did the US deserve silver?  Kohei Uchimura (legend that he is) did not have his best routine, yet received just the score he needed for Japan to finish ahead of the US.  I guess when you're Kohei Uchimura, you've earned the benefit of the doubt every once in a while.


Highlights and Interviews after the jump!

Did He Touch Her?

In his latest blog entry, John Geddert pointed out that his athlete's biggest rival was inadvertently touched by her coach while he was spotting her layout Jaegar.  I watched the meet and didn't notice until it was pointed out.  It is difficult to determine because Komova didn't lose her momentum.  If the coach did touch her, a deduction should've been taken.  The rule exists so coaches aren't pushing their athletes through skills they can't master.  Komova has done the move countless times and it appears to be a true accident.

Was Komova touched?

Should the score be changed?

Is the rule rather pointless as it isn't even her fault?

The outcome of the meet ultimately wouldn't change...but it is certainly food for thought.

Alicia Sacramone's Medal

Like many people, I am thoroughly entertained watching the effusive Alicia Sacramone.  While I never expect her to upgrade her passes, I find her a breath of fresh air compared to the current generation of American robots.  I love that Alicia stuck it out and became a better competitor over many years.

I do take issue with Alicia being considered the most decorated American gymnast in terms of World Championship medals.  The term 'most decorated' is iffy because one really has to consider World and Olympic medals.  The European gymnasts include European and World Cup medals in their overall haul.  One could also consider medals at US Nationals.  Things get a bit murky when some successful gymnasts competed during a time when Worlds were held every other year, while some got to attend a split Worlds in 1994 and can claim being the member of two distinct World Teams.  Some gymnasts have medals from World Champions and Olympic Games in the same year.

Gymnastics is so inconsistent that I don't take much stock in decoration tallies anymore.  It is a useful tagline for agents, but it doesn't mean much.  As an athlete, you never want to win a title with an asterisk.  The title is forever tainted and ultimately becomes a source of embarrassment.  Courtney Kupets earned a gold medal at the 2003 World Championships because she competed in prelims.  It is not the way to win a medal and even that has a feeling of a half medal to many.  I don't doubt that every bench warmer has their role on the team, but there become gray areas. Like many people, I do not consider Alicia Sacramone to be worthy of a medal at Worlds.  Alicia is a wonderful gymnast and personality, but she did not earn a single score at these championships.  She was not even in the country when the team was competing.  I feel the same way awarding Alicia this medal as I do when Courtney McCool mentions her Olympic Silver.  It just feels tainted.

Exceptional Gay Moment: Julianne Returns to DWTS

Judge me as you will, but I love a wonderfully bad dance movie.  I know Julianne may not be the world's greatest actress, but I can't help loving her.  I'm not exactly going to go purchase one of her country albums, but I do have plans for Friday night.

The two best dancers in the show's history are always top notch.  What is truly incredible is that they always live up to and surpass expectations when dancing together.  Is Julianne the better Hough?  Is Derek better because he is still training and improving?  Bottom line, we've missed Julianne dancing in our lives.  I need more of Julianne than just her workout videos.

And the girl even grabbed Len's butt...priceless!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Killer Tango

Ricki Lake continues to improve every week.  While her hold absolutely needs work, an inner dancer is emerging with each captivating performance.  As always, Derek Hough is the top dancer, choreographer and teacher on the show.  They are a formidable team with tons of personality to explore.

The Power of Momentum

Russia failed to defend its world title and much of it could be seen in the demeanor of the team members throughout the competition.  Once the Russians finished vault, it was as though they already knew just how difficult it would be to make up ground.  The Americans started the day on their best event and it was smooth sailing from then on.  It is difficult to come from behind when another team is having the meet of its life.  Unfortunately, being in the same rotation appeared to have gotten to the Russians and the mind games failed them.

After losing Aliya Mustafina at the European Championships, the Russians made the wise decision to keep its team in tact and go for easier double twisting yurchenkos.  This was wise with Olympic Gold the ultimate goal, but they dug themselves into quite the hole and put a lot of pressure on their bar and beam lineups.  Choosing to perform DTYs, the Russians needed to nail them.  While they worked on landings in the warm up, their execution was not where it needed to be.  Ksenia Afanasyeva's vault had a great landing, but her leg form could've been much tidier.  Komova doesn't look ready to compete her Amanar just yet and opted for a strong DTY.  It was the team's best vault.  The biggest faux pax came from Nabieva, whose easier vault had just as poor execution as her Amanar.  This is one case where playing it safe cost them, as she is unlikely to be on the Olympic Team to begin with.  Nabieva's DTY was sloppy and the landing was far from aggressive.  Nabieva looked dejected as she walked off the podium and the entire team responded in kind.  Note that (arguably) the best team in the world struggled on the event Bruno Grandi has been itching to get rid of for years.

Dementyeva is not the world's greatest bar worker.  Having to use her was not the end of the world, but the team needed out-of-this-world routines by Komova and Nabieva.  Komova delivered, but her routine was a bit safe.  We've seen her go for the handstand on the half pirouette (that needs to go) before her dismount, but she looked a tad dubious the entire day.  If there is one place where a lack of training time can catch up to you, it is in three-up, three-count at the World Championships.  The lost few tenths hurt the team, but the conservative nature of the performance was indicative of things to come.  Nabieva needed to redeem herself with a huge bar routine.  The anchor of the Russian team lost a good five tenths for the team and the gold was all but gone by that point.  Russia lost a point on bars along with its competitive advantage.

After the Americans nailed beam, the Russians knew gold was all but impossible.  If they had any hope of pulling off a miracle, it ended with Anna Dementyeva's tentative performance and Komova's fall.  Mother Russia did not go down fighting.  They conceded the title the way Khorkina would after making an error in an All-Around final.  Perhaps blowing team finals is a good omen for Komova, but it likely doesn't erase the sting she's feeling at this very moment.  If all things were even, the Russians should score 15+ on beam across the board given the quality of their work.  This was not their day by any means.

Despite possessing stunning floor routines, the Russians half-assed their way through their final event.  Komova's errors may have stemmed from a lack of training time, but she was able to pull it off in qualifying.  Her mind appeared to let the injury get to her a bit more when the added adrenaline of team gold was no longer present.  Even Afanasyeva gave away landing deductions that just don't bode well for a team that is expected to dominate next year.

For a comparatively experience team, today's team final was an utter disappointment.  They were not able to handle starting off in a deficit and the loss of momentum proved to be their undoing.

Routines after the jump.

The Patriotic Post

There is a key to doing well in three-up, three-count: it's called hitting.

I will post this against my better judgment because people think I need to own my hidden inner patriotism.  These girls had the meet of their lives and Martha can now brag that her training methods work and justify her every decision.

Somewhere, Alicia's comeback just got harder as she realizes that they won without her.  Things will be different and more difficult next year, but Kyla Ross and others will have vaults and floor routines.

Note that Raisman gave her team members a pep talk, yet she is unlikely to tout herself the leader.  Raisman really did prove why the national staff has had faith in her for so long.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hicks Out With Leg Injury

Per Sarah and Drew's twitter (, Courtney Hicks sustained an injury to her leg... possibly her landing leg broken, which would surely sideline her for the rest of the season.

Here's to a speedy recovery as we all wait for more details to emerge.

Anna Li Trains Bars

Note that she was kicked off the team due to not hitting in podium training after days off. The coaches voted not to use her today. Transparency and the digital age are not the friends of old world political systems.

This and That

There is nothing these skaters seem to enjoy doing less than giving a press conference at the end of a long draining competition day.  Note how bored and almost annoyed the skaters all get by the journalists who are obviously huge fans.  Even Alex Shibutani has a bit of Scott Moir in him at the end of a long day.  It must be difficult to put on a happy face for questions you've gotten a thousand times when you're hungry, tired and just want to go out to eat.  Note: Queen Tessa Middleton looks magnificent.

A recap of yesterday's practice session for Team USA.  As always, Martha was the true star.  Anna Li hit her bar routines yesterday and today, but they are not putting her in the lineup.  If team USA loses, this will come back to be a questionable decision.  It doesn't sound like Vega has been hitting, but all is well when your coach is Teodora.  Then again, when Martha and Co. are able to wheel and deal a 14.000 on bars for Raisman, the names of the gymnasts competing and the skills they do may not have very much to do with the outcome.

Women's Team Final Lineups  (Discuss)

The Chinese men finished in third behind Team USA (ouch.)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Finlandia Free Dances

A splendid effort from Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.  It may be one of their more white bread programs, but it is who they are.  It is a great program and they will be extremely competitive all season should they be healthy.  They've decided to use white costumes to remind the judges of their Olympic moment.  Subconscious warfare at its best.

Free Dance Protocol  (First 10 of the year for Voir for this program.)
Results  (Looks like the dance of old by the placements in each segment.)

Scenes From Men's Qualifying

We are all just lucky to be witnessing the master that is Kohei Uchimura.  Years from now, we will still be studying how he trained, how he developed and what he did to stay healthy.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Little Skating In Our Lives

Voir practice their Fred and Audrey Free Dance.

With every choctaw, the Marlie-Voir rivalry intensifies.  Everyone has an opinion.

Overall, the entire skating world is suffering from the lost month of training time due to Worlds being pushed back.

Mother Russia at Worlds

Vika the princessa.

Ksenia Afanasyeva misses floor finals by landing short.  Sadness.

The Russians had a somewhat solid performance despite a shaky day by Anna Dementyeva.  If Anna can redeem herself and Ksenia Afanasyeva can hit floor, the Russians may very well retain their title in team finals.

Sixteen Going on Seventeen

The last two Worlds have been full of rough times for the increasingly-sluggish He Kexin.

Scenes From Qualifying

The lovely Viktoria Komova is first AA where she belongs.

Qualifying Results

Sadly, Beth Tweddle and He Kexin are out of bar finals.

Nastia Liukin Announces Comeback

The full story from Nancy Armour.
The story from IG2.

There is a reason Nastia's been shrinking over the last few months.  Note that USA Gymnastics paid for Nastia to go to boot camp prior to Nationals and found her a gym to train in in Japan on the days she doesn't have to be at the arena to watch the women compete as the FIG Athlete Rep.  She has even been doing some tumbling to keep her options open and return to form.

With Nastia's competitiveness and her father's insane drive, this will be a comeback to remember.  Nastia returns to two-a-day workouts when she returns from Japan.  Once she and her father are giving one another the icy Russian silent treatment in training, we will know just how likely medals are.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thoughts on the Finlandia Short Dance

Skaters and their supporters are a heinously obsessive compulsive bunch.  This season, it is going to bug all of us that the 'rhumba' is nothing like we'd expect in the world of ballroom dance.  That said, it is one of the more engaging compulsory patterns.  We've had to sit through years of golden waltzes, but now we get to enjoy a little fringe and Jef Billings'-like glam.

Voir's debut of their remixed Samba went off smoothly for a 68.74.  It is a tad 'busy' and worked better as a free dance, but their improved condition is evident.  Tessa got another new dress for the program (#4 now) and looks to be far more confident than at the World Championships.  The program is successful and they demonstrate fantastic skating skills, but it far from unbeatable.  Just like when Mao turned a free skate into a short program, condensing the vision just doesn't feel natural.  Judging by his hip action, Scott Moir is awful is bed.


Interviewing a Dance Mom: Aunt Joyce Talks to Christi Lukasiak

This summer, Lifetime’s Dance Moms became the show America is buzzing about.  Stage mothers.  Talent.  Drama.  Competition.  Backbiting.  There is something for everyone to form an opinion about.  For those who have ever competed seriously in a sport, it is par for the course.  For those who haven’t, the series has opened the door to a delicious world of catty behavior. 

Christi Lukasiak and her daughter Chloe are two of the stars of the cult hit.  As they navigate the dance world as perpetual underdogs, they’ve taken us all along on their journey of absurdity and questionable sanity.  Whether we agree or disagree with decisions that are made, we know we’ll keep watching. 

Aunt Joyce recently had the opportunity to interview Christi Lukasiak about life in the Abby Lee Dance Company. When she isn't rolling her eyes, this dance mom has a ton of opinions and isn't shy about sharing them. The more we learn about life at the Abby Lee Dance Company, the more we want to know…

The Leader on Beam

A beautiful routine with one fugly ass dismount.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Favorite Things Friday!

Dreams of Love

Sad News

If the injury to Alicia Sacramone wasn't enough, one of my favorite gymnasts is out of Worlds...

Mariya Livchikova injured her ACL while training vault and is out of the World Championships.

Alicia Poses for The Body Issue

On one of the worst days in her career, Alicia garners attention for a provocative photo shoot.

Trashy or beautiful for the gymnast with the Maxim vibe?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sacramone & Raisman injured

Catty Comments here,

From Gymnastike & Couch Gymnast, both Alicia Sacramone and Clubfoot the Raisman went down with injuries in practice on Thursday, only 2 days before qualifications.

Raisman actually returned to working out on bars, so hopefully she can still compete. Everyone's talking about Sacramone's injury, and she left the workout on crutches. No doubt that Shawn Johnson, the non-traveling alternate, is being yanked out of the grocery store and thrown on a flight to Tokyo as I type.

UPDATE: Clubfoot the Raisman, per AP's Nancy Armour @nrarmour "is NOT hurt or in doubt."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Swinging in the States

Watching podium training at the 2011 World Gymnastics Championships, it is amazing how only the faces change from year to year.  In a Pre-Olympic year, the same storyline exists among elite gymnastics that existed back in 1991: the Americans have powerful girls with a weakness on bars, the Romanians are conditioned within inches of their lives and look solid despite a weakness on bars, the Chinese girls have wonderful flexibility and finesse and are hoping to get through the power events, while the Russians pull off tumbling that their girls don't look capable of merely looking at their bodies.

A country's success in gymnastics comes down to training techniques, conditioning, innovation and ultimately... selection.  The very girls coaches select to focus on and prepare for the elite ranks ultimately determine the country's success eight or nine years later.  Mary Lou Retton, Kim Zmeskal, Carly Patterson, Shawn Johnson and Jordyn Wieber all know what it is like to be at the top of American gymnastics leading into an Olympic Games.  They are also all stereotypically powerful gymnastics hoping to compensate for a natural weakness on the uneven bars compared to their other three events.  The Romanians are known for the bar weakness and much of that is believed to be technique-driven.  If one looks at the girls selected in the US, it becomes apparent that coaches decide to focus on that level 5 or level 6 capable of a double back and capitalize on their natural power.  The girls on the American team tend to look like they were all selected along with Hilary Grivich for the Karolyi's Hopes Team back in the youth.  Note that Shannon Miller and Nastia Liukin, the Americans with the most international success, were both scouted and/or developed by Russians.  Shannon Miller was not a natural powerhouse winning the pull-up competition alongside Jordyn Wieber.  Soviet coaches spotted her innate talent and Steve Nunno just happened to be there paying attention.  None of the girls Steve selected on his own ever amounted to much.  Wieber's muscled routine is exactly the type of routine one would envision the Karolyi six-pack trying to luck out on should they have competed under the current code.

There is even a very literal Romanian quality to the way American coaches train the girls and compose their routines.  It is amazing how the Russians and Chinese all pick girls who lack the noticeably-bulky musculature of Team USA.  It is also amazing how their gymnasts are able to connect skills on bars and beam through skill, technique and success, rather than muscling through bars or powering through a beam routine like Wieber, Sacramone and Raisman.  There is not a single American competing in prelims whom one would say has a gorgeous natural swing.  When one looks at the Chinese and Russians on bars, it is evident their girls spend considerable time on front giants, back giants, eagle giants and circles.  Their girls are able to connect releases, turns and transitions with ease.  Their composition is also considerably better.  Sabrina Vega is often said to have a beautiful body.  Looking at Vega, one would imagine she is a gorgeous bar worker.  It is interesting that her Romanian coaches have taught her a number of releases, yet they can not compose a routine with decent enough difficulty or execution to score well.  The number of kip-cast-handstands in her routine is laughable and begging for deductions.  It is startling that the Americans are not connecting shaposhnikovas, pak saltos, low bar skills and transitions to the high bar in our to earn respectable D-scores.  It is as though we never learn.  The only series of giants practiced in the US appear to be power giants winding up for double-double dismounts.  It is enough to make Kathy Johnson Clarke cry herself to sleep at night.

Viktoria Komova is returning from ankle surgery and is showing her full difficulty for the first time in a year.  It is important to note that Komova is performing all of her tumbling passes despite only competing double tucks and double fulls at the recent Russian Championships.  Their coaches focus on technique and timing rather than the literal skills and pounding of Team USA.  Their focus on timing, technique and feeling for the equipment is also why the team members are able to look disastrous one day and find gold medals draping around their necks the next.  The Russians are six girls with strongly-conditioned cores who are able to use their technique to perform amply on all events.  They may not standout as 'floor champion' the way a powerful American tumbler does, but they are able to execute skills and earn high enough scores to keep themselves in contention.

No matter how much changes in the sport, the teams' strengths and weaknesses remain the same.  When perpetual bridesmaids lose titles year and year one would think they'd do something about it.  Anna Li is relegated to the alternate position due to her injury and inconsistency.  Should the bar judges have their way with the American girls in Ivana Hong-Stuttgart fashion, don't be shocked to see Anna subbed in for finals.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Anna Li injured, named Team USA alternate

Howdy kittens,

Catty Comments with sad news. As suspected, Anna Li strained a lower abdominal muscle in training after arriving in Tokyo. Via IG2, she has been named the alternate for Team USA.

Anna did train on bars during podium training but was off on her Shaposhnikova. Her interview with Gymnastike after podium training is below.

Watch more video of World Gymnastics Championships Tokyo 2011 on

Her absence will really weaken Team USA on bars and put them farther behind both China and Russia with much lower D scores. However, if there is a bars disaster in qualifications, for this FIG event (and not during the Olympics), Anna as the official alternate is still eligible to compete on bars in TFs.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tokyo Worlds updates - Izbasa out, team workouts, videos

Hello all,

Catty Comments here! Official team workouts have started in Tokyo, so let's talk about the ladies.

The biggest news (via The All-Around) is that 2008 FX Olympic champion Sandra Izbasa has withdrawn because of a foot injury that limited her training this summer and to only 2 events at Romanian Nationals. Their Tokyo WAG team is now:

Diana Chelaru
Ana Porgras
Catalina Ponor
Amelia Racea
Raluca Haidu
Daniela Andrei
Alt - Diana Bulimar