Thursday, December 13, 2012

Question For The Gym Nerds

Early in her elite career, Erica Stokes chose to turn professional as part of an endorsement opportunity for Minute Maid. While this clip includes clips from the 1990 National Championships, it is unclear exactly when it was filmed. Erica talks about wanting to do well at Nationals and qualify for the Goodwill Games, which indicates that she was interviewed prior to Nationals; however, Chelle Stack is seen in the background in the clips, but she did not return until after 1990 Nationals.

The question remains: who is the girl in the pink leggings with the seemingly nice lines? Her legs are not that bulky, which indicates that she couldn't have been training with Bela for that long when this was shot. If Chelle is in the clip, it means that Amanda Uhereck was already out with a broken back and that Amy Scherr was either injured or suffering from mono, or about to be injured. Now, is it Kerri Strug? Was this filmed over several months?  Is this really from 1990 Winter Nationals or is it mislabeled on the youtube channel? Can anyone make sense of this?


  1. From the way she tightens her ponytail I think pink leggings is Kerri (I AM a gym nerd, hehe). She was pretty lean before she turned around 14 or so. Probably the interview and mall stuff was current, but the rest of the footage was likely just other stuff they got hold of.

  2. And, forgot to add that if Kerri were around 13, that would work with 1990 nationals. I think she was 14 at the 92 Games?

  3. um, you really can't say anything about lines based on that clip. Lines and body type are not at all the same thing. Although a specific body type can be necessary to achieve certain extreme lines (eg, Balanchine esthetic in ballet), body type is the least component of nice lines.

  4. Ahh - I was just gearing up to upload this clip to YouTube myself. Someone beat me to it; I guess I need to find a new mission.

    This is a much better, more complete copy than the one I would have "blessed" YouTube with, anyway.

    According to a blog Betty Okino once wrote, Sam Muleman and Kelly Pitzen may have been in the mix during this period, as well - these may be names to keep in mind when playing the ID game. But my impression (now that I can see the background more clearly) is that the girl in question is Kerri Strug. If you freeze it at 0:41 (when Kerri has both arms raised to adjust her hair) - you can perhaps see more of a familiarity in the build.

    Karolyi seemed to be infamous for adding bulk to his gymnasts during this period; he even tanked-out the Balanchine-thin Okino (just compare her 1989 Konica Grand Prix physique to her 1991 or 1992 body).

    A bigger mystery for me is how Karolyi produced a gymnast who executed skills with the lovely form & fluidity that Erica shows at 1:30 - 1:35. Perhaps Erica herself hadn't been training in Karolyi's group for that long at that point; perhaps that is the more the work of some shadowy coach who was coaching the lower levels at Karolyi's. At 1990 Nationals, she didn't seem to look nearly as good as you would have expected based on her 1989 showing; but in 1991 training footage (while she was still at Karolyi's) - she looked to be back on track toward being the true anomaly at Karolyi's. That is - before Karolyi disposed of her; it seems that it was already apparent here that he was giving up on her (listen to the tone - not the words).

  5. I didn't think that Strug came to Bela until 1991...maybe it was late 1990?

    Anyway, things would change for her after this. Didn't she quit the sport in 1991 for a bit, then move to Nunno's and decide to compete again? He got her into the 1991 World Trials...but I think she had to place 4th or better to be on the team since she didn't do Nationals...she was 6th, which would have got her on the team if she did Nationals.

    Claudia Miller said in her book that Nunno wanted Shannon Miller to purposely botch her FX routine to allow Stokes to possibly place above her...thankfully Shannon didn't obey...something Kerri Strug would and did do when Bela told her to.

  6. According to Wikipedia, Strug didnt start with Karolyi until 1991 and since there is a ref in the interview to the 1990 goodwill games it isnt her...

  7. think it may be Hilary Grivich she was with Karolyi in 1990

  8. Not sure if Grivich started with Bela...but she was with him since the mid 80's.

    1. Grivich and Zmeskal were in the original Hopes group.

  9. I see Zmeskal closest to the mirror in the front row, then Okino, then pink tights is Kerri Strug (as mentioned above, the ponytail adjustment is almost a signature Kerri posture), then Erica. Over Erica's shoulder in the second row is Hilary Grivich - they blur her out, but just before that I believe I recognize the roundness of her face and no bangs.