Archive for November, 2008

confessions of a blogger

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2008 by debster03

I’ve finally decided to come out of hiding.

Okay, so I haven’t exactly been “hiding,” per se. But, I must admit, I’ve been avoiding the depths of the blog-world for the past, oh, say, five days (don’t laugh. When you’re a youngin’ like me, five days are nearly an eternity). Why, you ask? Well, to tell you the truth, there’s quite the list: schoolwork, crazy parents (fine, maybe I’m the crazy one. Hey, give me a break; I’m still a teenager), more schoolwork, having a life (which in my world means going out at night and coming back home so late after curfew that I have to deal with Crazy Parents), and some other personal problems that I don’t care to mention. It’s all quite overwhelming.

Mostly, though, I just don’t know what to write.

The Olympics are over. The quad is practically over. I hate the Code, but that topic’s been done to death. All my loveys (erm, my favorite gymnasts, I mean) are injured. Russia never pulls it together, which is just depressing. I’m not even remotely excited for the World Cup Final. Basically, there’s nothing that’s really sparked my interest lately (not even the recent Karolyi Drama. I mean, seriously, tell me something I don’t know).

Don’t get me wrong though. Gymnastics and writing are my two passions in life (eek, sorry for the Cheese!). I promise to keep up with this blog, but for now, I might need a little help…so if you have any suggestions or would like me to explore whatever topic in the Gymnastics World, feel free to tell me. If it’s interesting enough, I’ll give it a shot.

Thanksgiving à la double salto

Posted in lists with tags on November 23, 2008 by debster03

To my loyal readers out there (whoever they may be), I sincerely apologize for not updating as often as I’d like. I don’t really have an interesting excuse. My life has been busy and stressful and yadda yadda. Is anyone else counting down the days until the holidays? I sure know I am.

Here’s a little something to be thankful for:

the new Code: I don’t think I need to explain myself here. A limit of four tumbling lines on floor!? Oh, let’s praise the powers that be!

new, exciting juniors: from multiple countries. While we all love the longevity of our favorites, it’s nice to see some fresh faces now and then. What’s great is that a number of team are showing fabulous potential. Hopefully, this will result in more competitive team finals (and not a one-way or two-way battle for the gold).

an uncontroversial Olympic all around champion: this is always good. I don’t think anyone is too eager for Sydney or Barcelona flashbacks.

China finally pulling through: regardless of who you were rooting for, it was nice to see China finally put it together in an Olympic all around final and actually win the gold! Some die-hard gymnastics fans (many of them American) had been waiting for this moment for years.

Romania not self-destructing: as the Romanian un-fan that I am, it was still nice for them to be able to maintain their tradition in Beijing. Not only did they manage to win a team bronze and an individual gold medal, but they actually seemed happy (yes, Elfi, we know that they were texting during practice. Oh, the horror!). Maybe they will never return to their previous glory, but at least they are now treated like real live human beings.

Russia: oh, Russia, Russia, Russia. Unlucky as they may be, they actually showed some real gymnastics this year (meaning: elegant, polished, and beautiful), and I think the fans are extremely happy about that.

Cheng Fei’s determination: horrible as the Olympic event finals may have been for her, it’s nice to see that she hasn’t thrown her gym bag away just yet. I thought that she would retire, for sure, as soon as the Olympics were over, but it’s nice to see that she is giving gymnastics another shot.

Shawn getting her gold: personally, I didn’t particularly care whether Shawn won a gold medal at these Olympics or not, but I was scared that the media would rip her apart if she didn’t.

the end of the World Cup Final: this is a ridiculous meet, honestly. The qualifying system is outdated (Catalina Ponor made beam finals? Really?). Perhaps this will be the rebirth of all around competitions, but unfortunately, I doubt it.

Is there anything else you would like to add to the list?

crème de la crème: the best of 2008

Posted in just for fun, lists on November 20, 2008 by debster03

Now that the year is coming to a close (yes, I do realize that the World Cup Final is coming up, but to be perfectly honest, now that my Anna Pavlova is out, this competition is as appealing to me as tofu. No offense to tofu-lovers), let’s reminisce, shall we? Here’s a list of the most memorable (and not so memorable) gymnastics moments of 2008.

the funnest gymnast: Jiang Yuyuan. Not only are her smile and cute facial expressions absolutely contagious, but her floor music makes me want to get up and dance. You know that part where she opens her arms and turns around in circles (it always seems to me like she’s stumbling a little bit, but I find it so endearing that I don’t mind)? Well, it looks like so much fun that I wish I could get on the podium and join her. She’s such a joy to watch!

solid as a rock: this is a toss up between Shawn Johnson and Ksenia Semenova, but I think Ksenia might have the edge over Shawn on this one. Why? Even if we ignore Shawn’s botched Amanar at the American Cup, the fact that Ksenia is Russian and incredibly consistent is just astounding. I mean, my lovely Russians never hit when it counts (Sydney team finals, anyone? Actually, make that any team final!).

supermodel: Nastia Liukin, and not only because she’s pretty. She just looks so tall and slender compared to the other pixies out there, it’s kind of hard not to picture her on the runway. Of course, in real life, Nastia is actually quite short!

don’t anger the gymnastics gods: I’ve decided that yelling whatever out before you vault is a gymnastics curse (it probably makes the gymnastics gods’ ears bleed, and they are not afraid to punish you for it!). Remember Khorkina doing this in Sydney? Yup, she fell (granted, the vault was set at the wrong height). Then, eight years later, Cheng Fei comes along and yells in the vault finals, hoping to defy the gods’ wishes. They weren’t too gracious with her, for she also went splaaaaaaaaat.

I believe I can flyyyyyy: I don’t care what age He Kexin is. Hell, she could be five or thirty, for all I care. Her Li Ya combination is fantastic. It’s so dynamic, but at the same time, it’s almost as if she’s suspended in air. Holy Jesus!

music to my ears: I couldn’t miss this superlative. So who has the best floor music this year? Why, Anna Pavlova, of course (I’m sure everybody’s rolling their eyes and going “DOI!”)! Seriously, though, Maksim’s Exodus is gorgeous (as is the original version) and so majestic, just like Miss Anna herself!

no, thanks, I’ve already chewed some bubblegum: the United States has had some hideous leotard choices in the past, but what’s with the bright bright bright pink this year? I know Nastia is a fan, but I’m sure she’ll be all right if they tone it down just a little.

pretty in pink: and speaking of which, I loved to see Nastia victorious in all of her pink glory. Regardless of how BRIGHT that thing-disguised-as-a-leotard was, it seemed quite fitting at the time.

can I get your designer’s number? The other teams could use Russia’s advance on leotard-selection. They are always the most elegant and professional looking team out there (even when their performances aren’t). The leotard they wore in prelims was particularly pretty.

you’re so cute, I can’t help but like you: I am not much of a fan of Shawn Johnson’s gymnastics (although I must admit, some of her skills are insanely cool!). But she shows such great sportsmanship and attitude that I can’t help but be a fan. You go, girl!

you’re so cute, I can’t help but like you, version II: Sandra Izbasa!

stick that landing, dammit! Obviously, this award goes to Nastia Liukin, for the most stuck landings at the Olympic Games. However, there are two honorable mentions: Sandra Izbasa’s floor routine in event finals and Anna Pavlova’s floor in the all around competition. Wow!

funkiest salute: Dasha Joura, of course. But has anyone checked out Deng Linlin’s? It’s so…weird (!), like she can’t raise her arms all the way up. But I like her.

you make me want to poke my eyes out: it’s really frustrating when gymnasts have (mostly) lovely form and then mess it up BIG TIME when it comes to a single element, i.e. Nastia Liukin’s double fronts (ew ew ew) and Bridget Sloan’s Tkatchevs (point those toes, woman!).

whoa, she’s an all arounder? look who’s no longer only a bars and beam specialist: Ksenia Semenova! It’s unbelievable how much some girls can improve in a year.

the best rotation in eight years: the last floor rotation at the Beijing all around finals was seriously my favorite in a long, long time. Consecutive stuck routines (minus Jiang Yuyuan) from JYY, Yang Yilin, Semenova, Pavlova, Johnson, and Liukin? Aah. Heavenly.

so glad you made it! Koko Tsurumi is so cute (and lovely to watch), I was thrilled to see her in the beam final. Unfortunately, she didn’t deliver. I wish she had!

five and (possibly?) counting: Oksana Chusovitina certainly wins the all-time prize for longevity. Too bad she hurt her ankle, but I’m positive that she’ll find a way to keep going. Nothing slows her down! I was glad to finally see her medal in Beijing.

Pavs, you break my heart

Posted in news with tags , , on November 16, 2008 by debster03

It’s official – Anna tore her ACL.

According to nbb on the Gymworld message board, she’d been training on a hurt knee for about seven years now. Recovery time is expected to be between 9 and 12 months. Me thinks this is the last we’ll see of Anna.

If you want to find me, I’ll be dressed in black and mourning. Mmkay?

are you kidding me!?

Posted in news with tags , , , on November 15, 2008 by debster03

How ironic that I last posted about an injured Russian gymnast. I guess now we can add another to the list! Triple Full reports that my dear Anna Pavlova hurt her right knee badly while performing her beam dismount at the DTB Cup event final. They think she might have torn the cruciate ligaments. I have absolutely no idea what that means, but it doesn’t sound good at all (edit: it’s a torn ACL. Ouchie).

Anyway, I’m devastated. This really does feel like some sort of cruel joke. Hopefully Anna (and Ksenia) will be back in awesome shape by the 2009 World Championships. If not, that just totally sucks. Big time. Get well soon, Anna!

At least my other favorite in the field, Cheng Fei, seemed to have an amazing competition, snatching three golds. Way to go, Baby Cheng!

another one bites the dust

Posted in news with tags , , on November 14, 2008 by debster03

As if we haven’t had enough of post-Olympic injuries! This article reveals (or so I’ve heard, because I do not speak Russian. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten all that I learned from my Ukrainian baby-sitter when I was two or three) that cute-as-a-button Ksenia Semenova is currently unable to train at her full potential due to a wrist injury.

Well, I suppose that if there was ever an ideal time to get injured, it would be now, with the Big O out of the way. Still, this blows, doesn’t it? Ksenia is such a delight, and it really is unfortunate that she won’t be able to compete at the Madrid World Cup Final in December. I would have loved to see her there, because she was honestly one of the few good things about this quad (in my humble opinion).

However, I am glad that Semenova and her coach have decided to take it slow so that she can heal completely (unfortunately, most elite coaches aren’t as forgiving). I hope she’s a hundred percent healthy by the 2009 World Championships in London, because I want her to kick some major non-Russian booty!

Get well soon, Ksenia!

Also in the news: if you haven’t been following the Brazilian gymnastics scandal (part one and part two), you should. It really is quite shocking (unless you’ve already been subjected to abusive coaches and know what it’s all about, like me).

a post about Amanar

Posted in just for fun with tags , , , , , , on November 13, 2008 by debster03

No, I’m not talking about the gymnast.

I believe that vault is the one apparatus which has truly become increasingly more difficult throughout the past twenty years or so (undoubtedly, this exponential development has been enhanced by the safer new vaulting table). While a Yurchenko full was considered world class in the past (for example, Svetlana Boginskaya won the 1988 Olympic vault title by mastering this very skill), it is now below standard at best (to most, it has become more of a level 10 skill than anything else). Today, even the “average” elite gymnasts are vaulting double twisting Yurchenkos. Some can even perform 2.5 twisting Yurchenkos, named after the Romanian gymnast Simona Amanar.

While all this added twisting and turning is fabulous for the sport, I can’t help but think of a time when we actually saw something other than Yurchenko-style vaults in international competition. Vault is certainly the least artistic of the four events (by definition, really), but in years past, at least there was some room for originality. Personally, front handspring and Tsukahara-type vaults are some of my favorites, but we haven’t seen much of either since the 1997-2000 quad (with the odd gymnast performing a Rudi or double twisting Tsuk here and there). Nowadays, it seems that the only way for a gymnast to vault her way to gold is by performing the Amanar.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Some Amanars are fantastic, and certainly very impressive (it is a hard skill). Monica Rosu’s was nothing short of spectacular, and when Cheng Fei is on (translation: when Cheng Fei is naughty and cheats her shockingly cruel fruit-and-water diet), hers is really beautiful (Chinese form plus power equals love).

Still, I never thought I’d see the day when Amanars would bore me. The thing is, this Code of Points hardly encourages originality on the apparatus, because, really, what’s the incentive for a gymnast to throw a Podkopayeva-style vault, for instance, if her A-score will not be nearly as high, anyway? What’s the point of variety if it is not rewarded? It seems that now gymnasts are throwing Amanars left and right because that’s the way to get the big scores (example: while I was thrilled that Pavlova landed her Amanar in the Beijing event final, I can’t help but disagree with the idea that this sloppier vault should receive more points than a clean, well-landed double twisting Yurchenko. Not that it mattered in the end, anyway, because we all know what happened with that infamous second vault).

I’m not saying Amanars (or Yurchenko vaults) should disappear. I just want to see other stuff, too (and by other stuff, I don’t mean “Chengs.” It seems that this quad, Amanar plus Cheng is the perfect formula for a gold medal on vault. Difficult, yes, but boring. Oh so boring. Give me something different!). I’d hate for the Amanar to become the standard.

Remember the days of layout fronts (beautiful, horribly underrated vault), layout halves, layout Podkopayevas, Produnova’s handspring double front, et cetera? Ah, how I miss them.

Courtesy of the lovely Yang Yun from China.