Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Thanks to Gymnastike hosting user vids as well as their own, we can  now see more than Viktoriya Komova's (and all of Komova's -if you haven't seen them you must watch them) routines at the Japan Junior International last week.  We can now see US's Sophina DeJesus on floor, beam wonder Natsumi Sasada on vault and beam and Japanese vault winner Seira Suzuki on vault.

Sophina has what I think is a very cleverly choreographed floor routine. The dance is very dynamic and simple and rather than emphasise her lack of natural grace, it makes the most of the energy, style and sharp movement she obviously achieves through her hip hop dance training. Well played, SCEGA staff for that chorey. I was surprisingly into it right up until that butt shaking and hand-waving mess in the corner before her last pass. It redeemed itself for the final moves though. Watch it (or HERE)

Gymnastics Videos on Gymnastike

Watch Seira Suzuki's 15.225 vault (or HERE). Nice high and dynamic. She stumbled a little at the end but it was powerful in the air.

Gymnastics Videos on Gymnastike

Sasada unfortunately fell on her beam routine, and her rhythm was a little out at the start, but that gorgeous layout twist onto the beam was great and she really shows potential to be an event finalist of the future on beam. Go HERE to watch her AA beam routine.



Did you know that Magpies love to collect bright, shiny things to adorn their nests? I am sure there is some greater biological, evolutionary reason for this, other to make their humble abodes look all glowy and attractive, but that is beside the point.

Did you know the gymnastics world has its very own little magpies? And that magpie comes in the form of the recently retired Yelena Zamolodchikova?

It started with little things......

Neon scrunchees and shimmery eyeshadow....

A bright warm up jacket to offset the dark leg warmers....

and of course....


but then there was the....

the sequinned event final leotard...

which of course led to....

metallic printed leos...

Then her addiction started to get serious, finding its way out of the gym........

to strappy silver accessories...

The glittery blazer....

and the puffy silver jacket......

but her team mates only really started to worry when she pulled out.....

the shiny leather pants!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009


So, the talented Anja Brinker has taken the uneven bars prize at the Qatar world cup. beating out Pauline Morel and Marie-Sophie Hindermann.

Anja has a good routine, with an high opening Tkatchev connected to pak salto to the low bar to open and a  Shaposhnikova to the high bar, which is one of my favorite transitions.  Watch a version of it here, performed at Cottbus earlier this year. (or HERE)

It's fairly good, but it probably won't be competitive in the Worlds field.   She did well to beat out Pauline Morel who has lovely lines, but, I would argue, highly questionable form at times.

Swedish gymnast Ida Jonsson took the vault prize.

The other event finals will be played out today.


I just thought I'd post this video of Sandra Izbasa competing in the Junior International in 2005, performing a floor routine that has choreography so reminiscent of the routine she won the Beijing gold with.
I thought it would be nice to take a look back, considering she is recovering from the state-of-the-art surgery she underwent last week, that there is no chance we will be seeing her perform any time soon, and because the junior international has been the competition of the week.

It's a nice routine, but it never gets better than that beautiful turn at the start.
But did Sandra ever look like a baby? (or watch it HERE )



You would never, ever have known it to look at her during competitions, but a recent interview with Romanian stalwart, Gina Gogean revealed her passion for the sport, saying she still missed it.  She told VIP magazine that if she could, she would do it all over again.

"I've retired eleven years from gymnastics, but I still remember the emotions I felt during competition."

And in other (not quite) news, the newly blonde Steliana Nistor was featured in the Sibiu 100% magazine, talking about how she has decided to keep studying rather than moving to the United States of America to take a coaching job.   Steli is study and training to be a gymnastics instructor, which has included looking for potential gymnasts in nearby villages (pictured).  She seems to be enjoying learning to teach.


(come the IG revolution, there will be NO more sleeveless leos)

What I love most about the International Gymnast Online forum- aside from the fact that a lot of these people who frequent the forum seriously know their @#$%-is how frank and funny they are in giving their opinions.  Here are some of my favorite funny-slash-brutally-honest moments in recent discussions.
(I really hope IG forum users don't mind me using their online names.  After some thought, I thought it would be less respectful not to.  Some, however, I lost, so I do apologise if i quoted you and didn't attribute it to you properly)

On reasons why certain Olympics were 'controversial'

"2000- vault, cough drop, general douchebaggery" Medstudent24

"I think a lot of us were frustrated with Zhang Nan taking bronze over Anna Pavlova.....To me she's the dullest Chinese gymnast of all time.  (smiley face) She's really a Romanian gymnast incognito."
 Senor Nico.

On why Anna pavlova didn't win the bronze in Athens;

"the judges had their heads deep in their collective rectum, possibly swooning of the polyp of evil that's Bruno Grandi" Medstudent 24

But the best place of all to hear these incredible gym afficionados at their most hilarious and vitriolic, is in the post relating to the  gymnastics pet peeves, a subject matter I am sure we could all spend hours on;

(the dreaded side somi goes back as far as Eremia's day)

"Side somis.  They are ugly, people.  Stop doing them!"


"Too many frigging camps and no real trials for anything any more." Gymrat

"If I see another World/Olympic champion with their feet come apart on a cast to handstand or a pirouette I will literally spit nails."  Yellow Red.

"Pornslaps that are considered choreography"  Fishbulb

"when a gymnast doesn't feel her music.  Even in this day and age of crappy choreography, you can still (at least try to) perform, not just go through the motions."

"sleeveless leos.  This ain't a community pool.  Dress accordingly folks."  Medstudent24

Butt shakes that are supposed to be artistic" aestivate

"Sheep jumps and ring leaps done by gymnasts who blatantly don't have sufficient flexibility.  I'm talking to you, Shawn Johnson"

"NBC commentators who regularly demonstrate that they 1. Don't know the name of the gymnast performing 2. don't know the name of the skill she is performing and 3. don't really know anything technical, just random pieces of gossip about her dog's name and her prospective college." Action-Sam

"Andre Joyce" Kitty (hear hear!!)

"The beginning pose on Sloan's floor- what the muthaf@#$ is that?" Numblemon

"The hair.  There are so many examples  I do not like 50 clips.  I do not like Parkette cornrows.  I do not like frizzy perms."  KelcieB

"Romanian recycled choreography"  Kristy


Sunday, September 27, 2009


(Yelena Piskun, tenth)

Youtube wunder-montager Mostepanovafan has been a little quiet of late.  But now she is BACK!
There are two new montages.  One is a continuation of her "Most Successful" gymnast collection, covering the 1993-1996 era (watch HERE ).

The other, which I found most exciting, is based on a little gymnastics element i have bitched about constantly over the last year.  The close-to-beam move.  Remember, back in the day, when the close-to-beam requirement in gymnastics was acted out with something more interesting than Shawn Johnson sitting side-saddle, flapping her arm around in a "here judges, here's my close to beam move" gesture and getting right back up again?

Well, if you don't, you better watch this.  Or if you do, you should watch this just to torture yourself with a longing for the exciting, original, graceful gymnastics of yore!
Watch it here or on Youtube

Continue your gymnastics education.



Play the Which US Gymnast Are You? Quiz.

And this is a very silly quiz, so don't complain if you don't agree with the results!!

There are only four gymnasts you can be because it is hard to construct and four was enough!!

(If the quiz doesn't show up on the page, go HERE to play)



The Romanian paper, Prosport had a lovely article about a man called  Nicolae Constantin Emilian, who has donated a large sum of his money to the Romanian girls gymnastics team.  Nicolae, a sportsman all his life, has always been a fan of the girls, and sponsored many of them at the Nationals in Bazau.  Emilian, as someone commented at the bottom of the article, may have earned a large pension as a colonel in the communist era, meaning he has more expendable income than others.  He is particularly a fan of Izbasa, who made him happy in Beijing, and is sad that he will not get to see her benefit from the money immediately.

He claimed his sport experience has helped him understand just how much hard work the gymnasts go through and he wanted to help make it easier for them to "compete with soul".


GymNiceTic posted that the first Komova video from the Japan Junior International is up.

Watch it HERE

A nice routine, a bit wobbly, but all the skills are in place.  Her front Arabian is terrific.  Such a tight tuck position!  She is looking more elegant than she did a year ago, meaning she is maturing somewhat.
Anyway, enjoy!

A very lengthy search on my part has turned up NOTHING else thus far of any of the performances.



So, inside gymnastics Twitter- rumored that Chelsea Davis has been looking at both UCLA and Georgia for college scholarships.  Chelsea also Tweeted something herself about enjoying seeing Jay- I am assuming- Clarke.  Maybe not.  Maybe they are just rumors.

As most of us now know, Davis has been out with a back injury and unable to take part in the Worlds selection circus.  I did say something the other day about how I wished I could just keep a gymnast like Chelsea safe until college.  I am getting so tired of untimely elite injuries ruining gymnasts careers.

Even though I think she is terrifically talented, and she was possibly the most surprising of the gymnasts to make it among the finals girls for the Beijing selection process, Davis is one of the gymnasts I would like to see for longer, therefore it is college I wish for her!  If those Gymnastike interviews with her proved anything, it is that she has a great personality, a sense of humor, an awesome coach and she would be a gift to any college team.

But which one?

What do you guys think?


Thursday, September 24, 2009


Ma Yanhong and the Chinese Cultural Revolution

(Ma, one of the first to promote the reputation of the ever-elegant Chinese)

Ma Yanhong was a gymnast who not only excelled in her sport, but excelled in a time when there was barely enough to eat, things we consider our rights such as an education were not granted, and when any one who did not obey the country's leader, Mao Zedong's increasingly tough communist strictures was punished by prison or even death.

The Chinese Cultural revolution began when Ma was two years old.  To explain it briefly, for those of you who don't know, the Cultural Revolution was a particularly horrible time in China, when Mao became convinced that the communist country was slipping back toward capitalism.  In response, he decided to destroy absolutely anything and everything that did not represent or respect the communist way.  Ancient art was destroyed, religious shrines set on fire.  Chinese youth, along with many city folk with university educations (who might dispute or influence others to question Maos tough new laws) were forced to out to work in the countryside, making steel or raising crops where they could not cause upheaval.

(Children of the Red Guard obeying Mao's Orders)

Universities were  closed down and an entire generation went uneducated, rather than risk they learn anything they shouldn't.  Governments were "purged" of anyone who didn't have a communist background (ussually in the form of torture or death).  Young people were forced to become 'Red Guards' working for the communist party while loudspeakers were installed all over cities and spaces so people were forced to hear communist propaganda all day and night.  Young people were forced to destroy the four 'olds'; customs, habits, ideas and cultures in their lives and behaviour.

Ma Yanhong happened to be learning one of the few sport that were considered beneficial for young children in this new, more frightening world, and at age 10, she was selected by the army to train as a gymnast for them.  Like in Russia and Romania, gymnastics was a sport that could be centralised and was used to teach discipline and bring success to each army club.

(Ma, on left, in training)

In an article by Wright Thompson, Ma told the writer that the army had it's benefits, as their was plentiful food and a job which was scarce whilst living with her family, though, as she said she "could barely hold the gun" she was given and she was taken from her parents.

Ma remembers seeing Nadia Comaneci perform in Montreal during a video that was shown in the army training centre, though, of course, the Chinese hadn't been able to compete.  She said it made her realise that that kind of perfection and success was all attainable.  Before that, it had been all training.  China rarely competed internationally.  Now, she understood what it was all about.

Ten years after the Cultural Revolution began,  Mao died, and for the first time in a long time, under the new government, the Chinese gymnasts were allowed to perform internationally.  Their first major international competition was in the USA no less, at the Fort Worth gymnastics Championships.  It was here that Ma Yanhong brought the first gymnastics fame to her country by winning a gold medal on, you guessed it, the uneven bars.
Watch her perform, and witness how truly advanced the Chinese gymnasts were, even as far back as this.  And a truly incredible dismount, named the MA for her! (or HERE )

After this, Ma Yanhong's fame in her country was massive, as she gave hope and glory to a people whose lives had been destroyed in the cultural upheaval of the decade before.  Her unexpected blossoming into a champion caused her to be known as the "Fairy Primrose" in China, after a flower known for its sudden and surprising growth.
Ma competed for China right through to 1984, though she was becoming tired and less fit and had hoped to retire in 1983.

(After her first major medal)

 She vowed, however, she would compete at the first Olympics China had ever entered and help her country as they asked her.  Ma told the reporter, however, that she kept a calender and ticked off the days until she could stop competing.

As physically and emotionally exhausted as she was, Ma helped the Chinese team to a team bronze.  She personally came sixth in the AA,  highest of any of her team mates, and made it to two event finals, where she won a gold on her event, bars.  The Wikipedia article on her claims that she was suffereing from appendicitis too, at the time of her bars win.  I have found nothing to confirm that, but if it is true, she is even more magnificent than I first thought!
Watch her bars routine then.  (or HERE )

And when the Olympics were finished and Ma was finally allowed to retire, the Chinese system apparently kept the vow it made to her too, and Ma was permitted to go and study and coach overseas, and while in China to engage in business opportunities that would provide her with a good life.  Ma studied both in Britain and USA and coached gymnastics at the LA Gymnastics Club.  She returned to China in the mid-nineties.  Ma was the first Chinese woman to be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

(Older, but not forgotten)

One of the most touching moments I have heard of Ma Yanhong's life story,  is when she finished competing in Los Angeles, she walked back to the Olympic village and asked a team mate to cut off her pony tail, the pony tail the Chinese coach had made each of the girls wear while they were gymnasts.  She was now free.

(Shorn and fancy-free!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I thought Oksana Chusovitina was injured?  It was a tear in the tendon of her bicep?  She couldn't compete at the German World trials and whatnot? But  Qatar's Peninsula paper still claims she is coming to the Doha Cup to compete.  Huh?  So, how injured is she? Maybe she is better?  Seems doubtful.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


(image from Prosport )

The Romanian newspapers are having a field day, unsurprisingly, with Sandra Izbasa's untimely injury.
And now that Nadia Comaneci, dubbed "The Angel of Montreal" has rushed to Sandra's aid, the press is all agog again!

Seriously though, Nadia has been unendingly generous toward Romanian gymnasts even though she calls the States home, and has offered for Izbasa to stay with her, and receive all the medical and physio-related care she should need to recover from her surgery in all the time she needs.

Nadia has proposed that Sandra either stay with her in Oklahoma and see a doctor they know, or go to Las Vegas where she can be treated by Tiger Woods doctor.  She said she has spoken to Sandra about it and now it "all depends on Sandra, is important to recover quickly."



The Patron Saint of Whacky Leotards Needs You!

For those of you who have emailed me entries into the new Best and Worst Leotard Contest for this year, I give you a great big 'thank-you'!  But guys, keep them coming.  Have you seen a leotard so ugly, you flinched, or one so nice, you wanted it for your own?  Well, send me a pic on the email address below and soon the contest will begin, voted by you, the readers!



Yes, the fun and fluffy hair season of USA college gymnastics is nearly upon us, bringing so many questions with it;

Will the college world cope with the new Final Four contest?

Will Jay keep the dawgs on top?

Will McCool get through a season without an injury?

Has Miss Val shaken the nerves out of those talented freshmen-now-sophomores?

Will Cassidy McCombs hair get any weirder?

Will LSU's D-D Breaux clothes get any more AB Fab?

Will the Gators come back from the slight lull in their rise in the ranks?

Will Brittany McCulloch complete her tumbling comeback?

Will Shayla Worley snaffle every bit of attention from the other dawg, leading to a hotbed of resentment and jealousy among those 'love you like a sister' good girls in Athens?

Will Arkansas continue its major improvements made last year?

Seriously, I am not sure what to think about the new final Four change.  I totally get what Greg Marsden says about it making the competition shorter, and easier to understand with only four rotations.  But it does limit the element of surprise.  Teams like Arkansas, who practically snuck into the Super Six, could probably not manage to penetrate a Final Four.

This means that we will probably just see the same teams, year after year, in the finals.  And yes, of course they deserve to be there, but I liked having a surprise new team to admire and encourage.  That's what keep them working even harder for it the next season.



That Gabi Dragoi, despite being the only Romanian to qualify for the beam final,
didn't actually comepte beam for them in the team final in Beijing.

That's all!



Well, we have seen Japan moving quietly back up the ranks in women's gymnastics for a while now.  Beijing gave them fantastic results, with a gymnast in an event final and a stunning fifth place in the team finals.  They are certainly going from strength to strength.  The Japanese have the same advantage as the Chinese, with a predisposition to short, slender statures.  They also seem to have a similar training style as they are often very graceful but have to work hard on strength.  They, like the Chinese several years ago, also need to work on their floor choreography as far as I am concerned.

As I mentioned yesterday, little Natsumi Sasada came second behind Komova in the all-around competition.  Sasada is a talented young gymnast who throws a full twist onto the beam for her mount!  This is a G rated skill in the code and is named for Kelly Garrison. Watch Sasada perform it (or HERE)

Natsumi Sasada comes from a gymnastics family.  Her mother is Yayoi Kano, a gymnast who was on five Japanese World Championship Teams.  Let's hope Sasada's rise among the juniors conitnues.  Beating out US  and Romanina junior gymnasts in an international competition is no small thing, yet she managed it.



Well, for the commenter who thought perhaps Viktoriya Komova may have been overscored at the Japan Junior International, that is, of course, always possible.  There are no videos that I can find yet.  But I think Komova is capable of insanely good scores, though.

Here is her getting a 15.400 at the WOGA Classic, compared to her 14.950 in Japan.  So even with kind judges, we know she has had the potential. (Or HERE)

And here she is getting a 15.300 at the Voronin Cup last year on floor, compared to her 14.300 in Japan (or HERE )

So, you can see Komova HAS the skills for the scores.

The only problem of course, is what we are all aware of. Will these kinds of skills wear her down before she is of age to compete with the big guns? Are they pushing her too hard? Will she make it to senior, or, like so many promising Russians fall by the talented pool wayside?

I sincerely hope not, and I sincerely hope that Ostapenko is (kindly) helping to lift Russian gymnastics back up again through his work with the junior. And I sincerely hope we get to see this little gun compete as a senior.

I really, really think the World Championships should have a junior competition. I think it is necessary. I know it will probably never happen at the Olympics, but I really do think it would help juniors become acclimatised to competition and become as big as the senior competition and maybe even help the Worlds become as important a competition as the Olympics is for our sport, which you know i think is absolutely necessary if you have read my old post  "It's Not The Olympics" .



So, little Russian bucket o' talent Viktoriya Komova has taken out the Japan Junior International with a whoppingly big 59.800!  Her spectacular scores across the board were;

Vault: 15.100  
Bars; 15.450
Beam 14.950
Floor 14.300

This girl is gooood!  No one else even showed a score in the fifiteens. Or even the high fourteens....

In fact, to drive this point home, Komova's lowest score, the 14.300, was only topped three times by any other girl in the entire competition!!!

With this score, (and a greencard) she would have won the US Nationals, be the 2009 European Champion AND won the Russian Cup.  Phew!

To my happy-happiness, little Natsumi Sasada, Japan's bright hope whom I mentioned in my Junior International talk-up came second, beating out the USA'a Briley Cassanova.
Little Romanian Raluca Haidu was there, as predicted, and took 6th place.
Germany's lovely little junior, Desiree Baumert came in 8th.

Australians took 9th, with Emily Little, and 11th with Emma Collister.  I have to say, this is a little bit of a worry, because this is the second time this year that the Japanese have put in a much better showing than Australia, and we used to be about on par, in my opinion util Beijing, when the  (albeit slowly) rising Japanese beat us in the team competition.

Monday, September 21, 2009


It seems it is all about Romania this week.  Well, what with Izbasa's injury, the Nationals, the opportunity to see all those upcoming juniors, and to catch up on the seniors who've not been out there due to injury, it has been quite the week for them.

There is an article in Prosport today, talking about the Nationals, and the girls reactions to Sandra's injury.  Ana maria Tamirjan admitted to the paper that what happened to Sandra, who was in good form, showed her that anything could happen.  Tamirjan, funnily will be the seasoned senior of the World's Team now, which is as strange as thinking of little Miss Bridget Sloan being pack leader for the U.S.
Ana Porgras also said that it was hard to move on after what happened, and Nicolae Forminte claims he sees the psychological effect  of it all in the other girls.

The paper described the Nationals as lucklustre, without the force and presence of Izbasa's personality present and attributed it to the girls' collective shock created by Sandra's accident.

As did Romanian Federation president, Adrian Stoica, who, after noticing that "the girls were a little timid" and that they were falling easily, called in a psychologist to talk to the girls.

I don't really know what a psychologist can say to make them feel better, but I guess that isn't really why they were pulled in.

But Prosport was right, the Romanian Nationals weren't impressive and there were way too many falls, but that can probably be attributed to the trauma of seeing one of their best go down, junior nerves, injury watering-downs and lack of experience.

But Prosport wasn't completely right about everything.  Sure, there was a lack in the gym, without Sandra, but there was still some charisma shining through.

And to me, that was Ana Porgras.  Now the girl is clearly a good gymnastics thing coming our way.  But Ana also possesses that other factor, that alluring, charismatic quality in her movement and demeanor that others don't always have.  It's a have or have-not kind of quality.

Her gymnastics has personality, like Khorkina's, like Yuyuan's, like Semenova's, like Boginskaya's.  While she may not ooze with it like the Svetlana's, it is her does of this appeal that makes her so thoroughly watchable.  She has the ability to connect with those watching her in a way no Romanian, except Izbasa has since, I would argue,  as far back as the early 2000's.

Nistor had personality off the floor, but when she was competing, it was all force all the way with her.  As I said, Izbasa had it, but really only on floor, the easiest place to express oneself, and I think Porgrass may eclipse her on this count, even if she doesn't in the medal count.
Gymnasts like Catalina Ponor, and Sofronie, may have been lovely to look at, and Oana Ban may have been fun and even charming to watch, but they didn't quite posess this innate presence.

(Andreea Munteanu had 'it')

SO...... BELORUS..

So thank you guys, who fed me links to watch those Belorussian girls.  I watched a bunch of routines by Galina Ivanets, Zeitseva, and Alina Sotnikova, mostly at the Stella Zakharova.  Yes, the Belorussians have sure improved lately.
Sotnikova still demnostrates weak tumbling, but her dance is pretty and she looks a lot more mature than she did in Milan.

Galina Ivanets does a reasonably difficult beam routine, and is quite precise.  There is something slightly awkward about her stances as she steps out of tricks, particularly her Onodi.
I have to say, she and Zaytseva, particularly, didn't quite have the post soviet 'look' I imagined they would have on beam.  Not to say that they are ungraceful, but they weren't excessively elegant in the way we still see in the Russians, and some Ukrainians.
One Belorussian, Liliya Huong, has a very shakey but cute little beam routine.  My favorite part is the way she  moves into her full turn with leg at vertical. (Watch it HERE)

 Ivanets only opens with a double pike on floor, but has pleasant choreography that shows off better dance training than her beam work does.  She does a gorgeous assemble (?) jump into a sheep jump at one point.

Zaitseva has some great high tumbling, opening with a double tucked Arabian.  She has great spring and that shows up well in her leaps (or HERE )

Her dance is not as good as the other girls, and can we please discuss the weirdo dance move at 1.07?  What was that?  A train going off the rails?  Her imitation of a Bengal tiger attack?  It was up there with Jordyn Wieber's aborted handstand to side flop!

Anyway, as I said, the Belorussian have sure gotten better.   I am not completely sold by them.  I think they have a way to go, and there is certainly no standout personality on the team, but still, if they keep going they way they are now, they are going to get competitive, at least on a European level.


(and yes, that's baby Semenova!!)

Sunday, September 20, 2009


The lovely Beatrice was as good as her word and sent me some pictures she took at the Romanian Nationals this weekend.

Thank you Beatrice!
Videos are also popping up all over Youtube for those who haven't checked yet.