Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Russell Neal (www.steliana-nistor.net)

Another great piece of opinion from Justin Caouette in Issue 6 of The Couch Gymnast Magazine- this time about the vault;
I have seen a lot of great things about elite gymnastics fade away since I became a fan fourteen years ago: the six-five-four rule in team competition; the 10.0 scoring system; the possibility of a medals sweep in the All-Around (a la the USSR in the 1989 Worlds).  But do you know what was really cool about gymnastics that I miss more than anything?  An amazingly cool apparatus they used to do called the “vault”.
 It was this giant block at the end of a runway that looked like a horse saddle (last time I saw it), and gymnasts would hurdle over it by jumping from a springboard.  And when they were in the air, they would do incredible aerial tricks.  And we viewers would watch for the stuck landings, and it was all very short and intense, and everyone remembers when Kerri Strug…wait, what?  Oh, they still do vault?  In team competition?!
Justin has a great way with words, and a really interesting idea about how we might be able to  make vaulting special again.

Read the rest of the article HERE


From Russian Gym Federation Website

I was looking at the Russian Gymnastics Federation website the other day, and was reminded of something I read about the history of Russian Gymnastics a while back. The popularity of gymnastics can largely be attributed to a cultural reformer called Pyotr Lesgaft, who the website attributes a truly 'scientific discipline' of gymnastics for children of preschool age.

But as I know it, that is not all Pyotr Lesgaft did that we should be (very) grateful for.  Lesgaft, as I recall, called for gymnastics to be used as a discipline for all member of Russian society, particularly women.  Here, he was something of a social reformer, because he believed the freedom, the expression and the joy found in early gymnastics exercises was a means to liberating women, who were often the most repressed members of society.  He actively encouraged, in his extensive treatises on the subject of adopting German and Swedish style gymnastics for citizens, women to take up the practice of gymnastics in the very early twentieth century.

Artistic gymnastics was a means for women to experience the "freedom and suppleness which has been stolen from them"

 Without Pyotr, perhaps, as gymnastics developed into a competitive sports, we may not have been blessed with this tradition of WAG brilliance from Russia over the decades.And, I think they are well and truly on their way back.

(If you would like to know any more about pre and Soviet gymnasts history, British academic J. Riordan, who  produced books like "Sport in Soviet Society" is your go-to guy.  He was also called upon to talk about gymnastics in a couple of documentaries you may have seen, although he does not research gymnastics particularly.  I remember him saying once, that when the Olga Korbut craze happened in 1972, he had all kinds of people ringing him, going "Who is this girl?"!)


Prosport has reported that Sandra Izbasa has received an official okay to perform in Ghent.  She was being held back until she could perform a satisfactory amount of repetitions in her three events.  And now she has!
Sandra told the reporters, "I want to take things very slow.  There is much work and we are aware of it."
Good on her.  Not many gymnasts or their coaches seem to have a sufficient grasp on what it means to take it slow when recovering.  let's hope she can have a successful, injury-free competition.
This news comes exactly a year since her injury.  I bet Sandra is simply champing at the bit to get out there and compete.  I say Go Tiger!


Monday, August 30, 2010


Raluca Haidu (Pic: Beatrice Ghoerghisor http://gymnasticsnoceiling.blogspot.com/)

I wonder who else will be named to the Romanian team? I think it is all a little up in the air right now, as Raluca Haidu is really not looking like the girl she was last year.  Where is the wry, funny little tank of a kid who bulldozed her way through her gymnastics (but with her toes pointed!) routines?

She seems to have lost her power, her pizzaz, and yes, her confidence.  What is with that?
Although she cam back in the event finals at Euros, she had a rough team competition, and her results at the recent GBR vs Romania were not great.  I know she has been injured, but I wonder if it is psychological?

But who knows?

I do remember a similar thing occurring with Amelia Racea a while back.  She shot out of the junior ranks, all guns blazing a few years back, claiming she wanted to win every prize in sight.  Then, six months to a year down the track, she seemed to lose confidence.  Maybe it was seeing herself among the seniors, maybe it was the gathering pressure of competition after competition, maybe it was the feel of wear and tear, maybe it was slowly learning that not every performance is going to be as great as your best one.  

But then she seemed to pick herself back up again, find her self-confidence and now she looks great and is a key member of the team.  I don't know what happened to lift her again but I hope the same happens for Pitic, I really, really do...



So, as for gymnasts on the move- I am sure you guys know by now that the US team for Pan-Ams has been picked and includes;

Sabrina Vega
Kyla Ross
McKayla Maroney
Brenna Dowell
Sarah Finnegan
Gabrielle Douglas

I have to say I know nothing, nada, zilch about Finnegan and Dowell except they both did some damn fine work at Nationals to take podium places on their strong events.  These girls should probably kick butt down there as always.

Also, the Romanians are getting out and about for a turn around the appAratus before Worlds.  We will see them at Ghent Sep 11-13.  According to FanGymnastics, the team going will be

Diana Chelaru
Sandra Izbasa
Ana Porgras
Amelia Racea

These, I assume, are to be, if all goes well, the core members of the Worlds team.



Russell Neal

One of my favourite stories in the latest Couch Gymnast Magazine is Diana Gallaghers true tale of vaults gone terribly wrong.  It made me laugh out loud.

There is nothing like wiping out on vault. The moment between springboard and table when you cease to do what you had set out to accomplish. The knowledge that there is not a thing you can do to save yourself besides tuck your head and hope the mat treats you kindly.
 I don’t speak of intentional dives. Surely if your coach told you to dive over the table, you would prepare. You would set into the dive. You’d even point your toes.

Be sure to read it..... HERE!



Yes!  Finally I finished the latest issue of The Couch Gymnast Magazine.  This was the hardest yet, but might just be my favorite yet!
So, what's it got, you ask?

Well, firstly, I was lucky enough to send two great writers (and photographers) to the US Nationals this month, and boy, did they come back with the goods!

One of Vanessa Steck's awesome photos.

What I loved most about what Vanessa and Lauren's coverage is that they didn't just bring back the same old stories we always get from a gymnastics meet.  Who did what.  Who scored what.  Who just "went out there and did their best".  Because they are smart, funny people and observant gymnastics fans before they are journalists, they brought back the kinds of stories real gymnastics fans want to hear.

And only with their fresh eyes and lighthearted approach do we get to find out things like which WOGA-ettes think they could 'take' Valeri, or some interesting thoughts from coaches, or even to get some gymnasts to show a little meaningful insight into their sport and not just give a media trained speech about it.  Vanessa even got Rebecca Bross to laugh!

And they took some damn good photos too!

But that's not all folks!

Sadly, earlier this year, Romanian gymnast Anamaria Tamirjan announced her retirement from the sport, a fact that made many fans dissapointed.  Our Romanian writer, Beatrice, interviewed Anamaria this month to find out a little more about that injury-ridden, but wonderful career.

Amelia training at MLC

We have Ten Quick Questions with Amelia McGrath, Australian Junior National team member.  One look at Amelia's answers will show you that this gymnast possesses what every person in gymnastics needs- a darn good sense of humour!

Then we have the Vault Special!

We have an article about the history of that much-maligned and much-transformed apparatus.  We have an opinion piece that offers a radical idea on how to improve the event.  Finally, we have a hilarious and true story of a gymnast's youth of vaulting disasters!  AND this month's quiz is all about, you guessed it- The Vault!

We have an interview with an American coach, Ariel Edesses, who is living and working in a gymnastics centre in Ireland. She tells us a little more about the gymnastics situation in Ireland.

Omelianchik, 1987- by Norbert Smyk

Anticipating the upcoming World Championships, we have an article and a set of beautiful photographs reminiscing about the last time they were held in Rotterdam in 1987 called From Rotterdam to Rotterdam.

We have an opinion piece about floor music, and what it should be doing to make floor better.

And finally, we have a belated, but interesting wrap of the Covergirl Classics.

So enjoy!  I know we did.


Sunday, August 29, 2010


If all goes to plan, it should be out tomorrow!


Saturday, August 28, 2010


Day 1


1. Nabieva 14.455
2. Mustafina 13.963
3. Ana Dementieva  14.463

1. Mustafina 14.775
2. Nabieva 14.750
3. Semenova 14.500

Aliya is back!!!

And I guess there is no bonus for creativity and originality on vault, huh?

Nabs must have hit her bars, but did she do the big trick?
No sign of Afanasyeva,, but she didn't have a great qualifications, so we'll see.
That was very entertaining the comment left on my last Russia Cup post, saying that Russian gym fans are being careful not to release videos from the Cup, and were upset that it was leaked that some Russians were doing Amanars!  Russia is getting all old school and secretive again!?
They are real contenders for Worlds though.  Yes!



I worried about her on the low bar for a moment, but this routine from Huang Qiushuang is pretty damn special!!



Thursday, August 26, 2010


Ksenia Afanasyeva and Yulia Inshina
  Here are the Russian Cup finals results via Gymnastics Results

I have just been told that the judges used some sort of a judging system that gives bonuses for originality and difficulty which explains the mammoth scores.  Uh huh.......serves me right for not reading IG this morning!

1Aliya MustafinaMoscow15.36716.93415.00014.97062.271
2Ksenia AfanasyevaKhimki/Tula15.00014.46714.54014.66758.674
3Ksenia SemyonovaKhimki/Tula14.23413.73414.20014.70056.868
4Yulia InshinaVoronezh13.80013.56714.04013.90055.307
5Anna PavlovaOrekhovo-Zuevo/Khimki14.73413.40014.20012.90055.234
6Tatiana NabiyevaSt. Petersburg14.20015.60012.24013.17055.210
7Daria YelizarovaTula13.30013.36713.94014.24054.847
8Anna DementyevaKhimki/Samara13.56713.30013.67013.90054.437
Aliya Mustafina proved that her somewhat lacklustre performances in Japan a while back may have just been a bit of competition exhaustion, returning to form (we hope) with a ridiculously high 62.271.
Ksenia Afanasyeva, this year's comeback queen recovered from her 5th place finish in qualifying to take second.  Afanasyeva was looking much sharper than Mustafina in Japan, but even with the stellar improvements she has made, there is no way she can catch Mustafina on bars, even with regular scoring by judges who wore their glasses on the day.  She is vaulting and flooring it very well, though.

Ksenia Semonova seems to be making a steadily good show and we may just see the two Ksenias at Worlds.  It looks, from the scores, as though she has returned a bit of that crazy energy back on on the floor, which will be welcome.

It is nice to see Yulia Inshina back after a prolonged foot injury in fourth place.  If you remember she travelled to Melbourne for Pac Rims, but was unable to perform in the end.

Nabieva looked like an iffy performance was saved by her bars score.  It certainly looks like beam got the better of her.

I have already said my goodbyes to Anna Pavlova.  have you?  It seems her sixth place finish at the Russian Cup this week was one of her final performance in elite gymnastics.  According to her mother this year will be her last.  She managed a sixth place inthe qualifying and a fifth in the final rounds of the meet.  Anna looks like she had a great vault, but isn't working to well, or at least with much difficulty on floor.

By the way, I haven't seen any videos yet, but there is bound to be real soon)


The fabulous Bea over at Gymnastics No Ceiling, a predominantly Romanian blog, has posted about an article she discovered recently by a journalist who spent a week at Izvorani observing the girls and talking to them and their coaches.  An interesting look from the eyes of an outsider.  Head over and you can read Bea's intelligent and sensitive analysis and follow a link to read the article, called "Seven Days a Week at Izvornai" if you like....

They both agree that much work is still needed and that the most important thing is that after three months all the girls are healthy, without major medical problems. "None is in plaster or with crutches" exemplifies Bitang."The gymnasts are now starting to hammer in a more intense working style, more rigorous," says Bellu.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010


It seems Belu and Bitang invited all and sundry back to train at the ranch after their return.  Corina came back.  Cata thought about it, and now Prosport just revealed that Steliana Nistor also had a go.  Nistor, who thought she might be able to have another shot- at least on two events, lasted only a week, however, before back pain began to plague her once again.
Since, Steliana has taken herself off on a trip to Norway where she has a one year contract training gymnasts.  I wish her a good time, because the trip back to Izvorani wasn't one.

I have to say, though Steliana was always lacking in the form department, she had absolutely incredible talent.  I am surprised that more don't liken Bross to her (though Bross does have indeed better form).  I have always felt sad that Steli didn't medal individually in Beijing.  She came so close, and she was clearly so devastated.



A proud moment

Now I know some of you long-time Couch Gymnast readers this has been discussed before, but for some of you, this might be quite new.  And it is like World War Two- it is one of those events we need to go back to time and time again in our collective memories.  If for anything, just to ensure such atrocities never occur again.....This is one time where history cannot, should not, repeat itself....

Remember when it was okay that Oksana Chusovitina did floor exercise?  When it didn't hurt the eyes?  Okay, in 1991 her leotards probably hurt the eyes- her own eyes more than anyone, but still.
This routine really wasn't bad.  The Russians were still making nice movers out of non-dancers, she had some amazing landings, and seemed to just casually leaned backwards into her effortless double layout.  One does have to ask, however, if it is so easy to chuck a skill like that, why it was so dang hard for her to keep her legs together (tee!) while doing it....!  We'll blame the neon glare, shall we?
It's not even fair to put these leo into the World's Worst leotard Contest.  They'd win hands down.


But, remember when it really really really WASN'T okay that Oksana Chuovitina did bars?
My all time favorite Oksana Chusovitina performance, aptly entitled by it uploader, "Oksana Chusovitina on Drugs"
Why did they make her dance like a man?  A gay man in the eighties at that?  Why was she wearing that?  Why was.... oh for the love of god, just WHY???!!!!
I know it's hard peeps, but you have to watch it til the end- believe it or not, it gets worse!!



Do you think her husband has seen this?  Will Alisher ever be able to look her in the eye if he sees it?  "Mummy, why are you dancing like one of The Village People?"



My first question about Chinese Nationals Training has to be.... why is it so damn windy?!

Is it a new tactic in the Chinese bid to dominate women's gymnastics?  If they can do there routines in sub-arctic winds or perhaps tropical cyclones, they can win anywhere?
That crazy flapping banner was distracting me from He Kexin swinging bars. It did not, however, distract me from that sad attempt at a dismount. Is she taller again? Or is it just her long swing?


Here's Jiang Yuyuan on floor. Does this music have funny vocals? I see Adriana is still giving her the crazy arms which she is so good at, but her tumbling is still looking laboured. (Huang  Quishuang has also been given crazy arms too)


Yang Yilin training bars. I simply looove her swing form. More than any other gymnast, I think. It is just beautiful.


Sui Lu's floor. Well Sui isn't really tumbling, but her dance through shows that she is still one of the more natural movers of the Chinese girls. This is very Russian kind of floor music isn't it? I wouldn't have picked it for her. It is interesting how Pop, though she works with many nations, has sort of stamped the Chinese with very particular shapes and poses. It probably works for their team effort, but it is hard to remember individual routines.


You can watch many more videos on Komova2012s Youtbe Channel
Can I just say that watching He Kexin on beam, is like watching Tweddle or Zamolodchikova on beam.  It should not be allowed and they know it!
My floor chorey winner is Wu Liufang- a little more understated, and she does it very well.  Kudos.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Yes, it's hard going to Marta's boot camps, but it is even worse trying to train for the World Championships in India right now...The three day training camp to select gymnast for the Worlds teams has had to be called off because the infrastructure and equipment is in such dire straits.

As reported in the Hindustan Times on Aug 23, the gymnasts, who were in Capital, had refused to practice at the venue citing dangerous conditions — including a leaky roof — prevailing inside the stadium, inaugurated on April 10.
Artistic gymnastics coach, Vladimir Chatko, confirmed the departure. “The equipment here is too dangerous for the players. It’s better to go back and practice (in Pune) than be here and risk injuries,” said Chatko.

Apparently there are not even enough mats to train with.  This is, of course, the perfect time to get their pleas for help heard, when India is spending gazillions on hosting a Commonwealth Games while their own sports team don't even have equipment to train on.  The press will make a lunch out of that.  Read the rest of the article HERE.




Ew... according to Libertatea, one of Romania's most esteemed publications (yes, I am being sarcastic) all the gymnasts from the Onesti Municipal sports Club have had to be removed from their residence as they were being bitten by fleas.  That sounds like no fun at all.  I wonder which one of the cheeky devils smuggled a stray indoors?  I bet they're regretting it now!!



Nansy Damianova (Thomas Schreyer)

Utah has lost some of its standout seniors, including  Bijak, DiLuzio and Deetscreek this year.  The whole program is getting a bit of a shake up, which may be just what is needed this coming season, starting with a new assistant coach following Jeff Graba's departure to become Auburn head coach.  Tom Farden will work with college coaching legend, Greg Marsden to shape the Utes line up for the coming college season.  Farden has been a regional coach, and also coached Casey Jo Magee and Jaime Pisani at Arkansas.
Tom Farden

Marsden, while sad to lose Graba, is happy to have a rising talent join his team;

"Tom is someone who I have viewed as one of the best young up-and-coming coaches in the country. His philosophy for developing all aspects of the student-athlete is a perfect match for our program. We are thrilled to have him join our staff as we begin this new chapter for Utah gymnastics."

 The line up will also change significantly.  Utah finished up 6th in last year's national ranking.  For a team accustomed to staying in the top 4 or 5 this must have rankled.  Some fresh blood may be just what the doctor ordered.

They also have a swag of Freshies coming in, including  Olympians Corrie Lothrop and Nansy Damianova, which will give the team a new feel.  It will be interesting to see how these changes work for or against them.  The team at Utah always has such a positive vibe, that I think they would only make it work for them.



Utah has lost some of its standout seniors, including  Bijak, DiLuzio and Deetscreek this year.  The whole program is getting a bit of a shake up, which may be just what is needed this coming season, starting with a new assistant coach following Jeff Graba's departure to become Auburn head coach.  Tom Farden will work with college coaching legend, Greg Marsden to shape the Utes line up for the coming college season.  Farden has been a regional coach, and also coached Casey Jo Magee and Jaime Pisani at Arkansas.
Tom Farden

Marsden, while sad to lose Graba, is happy to have a rising talent join his team;

"Tom is someone who I have viewed as one of the best young up-and-coming coaches in the country. His philosophy for developing all aspects of the student-athlete is a perfect match for our program. We are thrilled to have him join our staff as we begin this new chapter for Utah gymnastics."

 The line up will also change significantly.  Utah finished up 6th in last year's national ranking.  For a team accustomed to staying in the top 4 or 5 this must have rankled.  Some fresh blood may be just what the doctor ordered.

They also have a swag of Freshies coming in, including  Olympians Corrie Lothrop and Nansy Damianova, which will give the team a new feel.  It will be interesting to see how these changes work for or against them.  The team at Utah always has such a positive vibe, that I think they would only make it work for them.



Charlotte Mackie (pic: Jeff Sipsey)

How neglectful of me that I have not yet talked about the Canadian World/Commonwealth Games selection!

Here's the list folks, thanks to the ever informative Gymn.ca;

World Championships
Kristina Vaculik
Dominique Pegg
Jessica Savona
Charlotte Mackie
Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto
Coralie Leblond-Chartrand
Commonwealth Games
Catherine Dion
Kristin Klarenbach
Cynthia Lemieux
Gabrielle May
Emma Willis

It seems Canada is playing it safe, sending entirely different squads to both meets.  Not everyone is doing that, though a few commonwealth nations, like Australia are hedging  their bets/ covering their butts by only sending the bare minimum to India in case of illness etc and the rest on to Rotterdam.

It's great to see Vaculik has managed to make Worlds considering she is headed to Stanford and has to juggle both trainings.  I am glad Stanford agreed to it, because she is invaluable and a delight to watch.  Dom Pegg will also be another invaluable member if she can keep her head together in competition.  She always seems confident and capable in training, but melts a little once on the apparatus.
It's also cool to see the littlest Mackie, Charlotte on the worlds team. She always seems to hover around, but never quite comes out on top.  I haven't seen her compete in some time.

 I must admit I know very little about Savona and Leblond Chartrand, but have come across Dancose-Giambattista in the Word Cup circuit this year. I believe she is quite a decent bars worker.

Kristina Vaculik (pic: Gymnastics Coaching)

As for the Comm Games Team, I know very few here.  I remember Cynthia Lemieux as the gymnast who placed third at the Wild Rose Invitational this year where the Chinese reigned supreme.  I think she is quite good on bars too?

They are, obviously, missing Brittany Rogers, their vaulter, which won't be great for team scores, but it is an interesting team they are fielding.  Sydney Sawa, last year's National Champion is, of course, off to UCLA where she will have to put in a hell of training/performance to break into that line up with the calibre of freshies trooping in.  I wonder if it would have been easier to make it onto a Canadian National Team for one of these International meets at this point in UCLA's history?



Much as we knew, except it is confirmed that it is certainly true, Vazam has RSVPed 'No' and declined to go to the prom.  Amanda Jetter, however, has successfully petitioned her way into the twelve-girl selection camp.  Let the scratching, biting and Marta-fearing begin!!

Rebecca Bross, Plano, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics
Mackenzie Caquatto, Naperville, Ill./Legacy Elite Gymnastics
Chelsea Davis, Lakeway, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics
Kytra Hunter, Frederick, Md./Hill's Gymnastics
Amanda Jetter, Milford, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics
Mattie Larson, Los Angeles, Calif./All Olympia
Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass./Brestyan's American Gymnastics
Alicia Sacramone, Winchester, Mass./Brestyan's American Gymnastics
Samantha Shapiro, Los Angeles, Calif./All Olympia
Bridget Sloan, Pittsboro, Ind./Sharp's Gymnastics Academy
Morgan Smith, Clermont, Fla./Brandy Johnson's Global Gymnastics
Cassandra Whitcomb, Cincinnati, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics 
Now it's time to watch and wait....for leaks....

Monday, August 23, 2010


Well, not all of you.  What I do need though, is someone who can write in Ukrainian or Russian for a little help with A TCG Magazine project next months.  If you do, and have some willing time to spare for a project, TCG would be eternally grateful!  Email me at listaday@gmail.com


Universal Sports has a great Behind the Scenes photo Gallery on its site at the moment from the US Nationals.  The pictures look a lot better than this.  You can see the circus that is media day and other pics.  My favorite is of Mattie Larson and Mack Caquatto sitting around as gossiping.  They remind me of two old ladies waiting at the bus stop.



Little Tess Moonen, who won the bronze on beam at the junior European Championships in Birmingham this year, was expected to have some great results on beam again at YOGs.  Though she came in fifth, this was not possibly what she had hoped for.  Tess has arrived home to the Netherlands, and her parents, who struggled with the Internet in Singapore, gave  a brief update on Tess's experience.  They said she prepared well, despite Tess feeling the nerves, and that the atmosphere was amazing with so many in the stands.  It was hard for Tess to not be able to succeed, and to show what she could do in such a moment.  However, they described her feelings as

the disappointment and anger that befits a true athlete, and why it is so good to participate in these kinds of events, to experience this kind of tension, to learn to handle it.
Ha ha, that all makes sense, but lets not forget what a great performance it was from Tess, that she was in the finals and had no medal expectations before coming here.  She had a fantastic performance in the qualifications and the AA final, and then expected she might be able to get a medal.  Okay, that did not work, but 5th in beam is great.

It is great too.  Knowing she had very little chance of a medal on floor, Tess was able to enjoy that experience more, apparently.  Now, as her parents say, Tess gets to relax a little, and fall back into the rhythm of training and school.

It has, let's not forget, been a busy year for the juniors.  Tess had Euros, then recently, her National Championships, a meet in Hungary in preparation for YOGs, and then the Youth Olympics.  Now they can get some sleep and go back to training!

And that's the restful time!  My busy life feels like a walk in the park in comparison!



Photo: www.gympower.nl

So, the news has it that the reason Vika Komova didn't fare so well in Day two of EFs at the YOGs in Singapore is because she was tired!  According to the All Around Gymnastics News, she was subjected to a prolonged doping control testing, which kept her up later than she would normally have been up.  It.'s probably tiring enough putting in gold-winning performance after gold-winning performance.  And I am not even being that sarcastic!  Follow the AAGN link to read the rest of the article.

According to her coach Gennadi Yelfimov, the errors were due to lack of sleep following a prolonged doping control after the first night of event finals. „We didn't get back to the Olympic Village until 2 am. Because of this Vika slept very little. She had too little time to recuperate.“
I didn't even feel like going to the gym today,“ Komova confided, „and that hardly ever happens, only when I'm very tired.“
I imagine sleeping in would be impossible, not just with training, but with a body clock that is used to waking up in the early morning.  Gymnastics is certainly not something you can or should be doing on so little sleep.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Tan Sixin, or rather her coach, He Hua, seems to have a bee in her bonnet about the results of UB finals.  I did not see them, so I am not quite sure what went on.  She seems to be somewhat miffed about Komova's CV score and the mat-hitting.  The translation, provided by the Youtube user XLHDH seems to say so anyway;

Coach He Hua: I am not familiar with how the judges work. Sixin is not perfect and we should improve it. I am not questioning Sixin's score, but I have a little query on the Russian gymnast's. I can't say that the judges are wrong. But personally I think there are problems. As for the CV part, her D score was 6.5 in previous sessions, at least the Difficulty is not right. Because CV should not be awarded for a failed element. But her CV was awarded. She also has two mistakes which worth 0.5 deduction, you know, the handstands. And putting her feet on the mat obviously should be deducted a full point. I've no idea. We had problems and mistakes, but I really feel sorry for the jury's decision.
 On the other hand, Tan Sixin told the press that she thought her performance was good (Thanks).  What a cutie!  Anyway, here's the video that doth protest.... too much?  I don't know.  I am yet to see the UB EFs and probably wouldn't get it anyway!!!




I have to say I am kind of glad to find out Viktoriya Komova is human!  The little bitty wunderkind can make a mistake!  Phew!  Otherwise we would have to write the history books of the next quad now!

In the wake of some mistakes on Komova's part, Tan Sixin stepped in to take gold on floor and balance beam.  Sixin's beam is quite delightful, especially ending her acro pass with a Korbut.  It give it that extra 'Chinese' flair.
I really quite like her new floor too.  The only bit that doesn't work for me is when she does the Memmel turn, which is a bit forced and foot-flexed and then transitions into that lyrical pose.  The juxtaposition of the two move is too harsh.  But that is more in the the execution than the chorey and can be addressed.  I do, however, love the end pose.  Her whole routine is 'pose-y' as she is clearly not a dancer- but Pop has given her gorgeous poses, so it works.

Here is a little highlights video of the top beam kids from YOG;


Poor old Diana Bulimar, who couldn't seem to cut a break this week was finally rewarded with a silver on floor for her effort- on her birthday too!  Diana is a vibrant and exciting little floor worker, so this was a good place for her to succeed.  Apparently she upgraded her tumbling again, after watering it for the qualifications and all-around (did they perhaps water it down more than they had to?) which helped put her back in the medals.
Here is her Floor exercise. It's not a great video, but if you didn't see it, it is better than nothing;


Carlotta Ferlito, another new favourite of mine, nailed that pretty little set for the silver on beam.

In other happy-making performances, little Australian Angela Donald (you be sure to remember me saying she is going to be 'Australia's next great beam worker', the other day, okay?) took the bronze with a gorgeous, if slightly iffy routine.  Congratulations, Angela!

And poor old Ana Sofia Gomez of Guatemala, who I have been trying to find out more about, finished up fourth in both event.  A results Anna Pavlova could sympathise with, for sure. Here is a video of her on beam, which I think is from AA, just to get to know her, if you haven't already.  You can see she is very acrobatically gifted, but needs to work on her form, which is a little sloppy.


Now the YOGs are over- for gymnastics anyway- and they went the was we expected until the final night, really.  A Komova sweep, followed by Tan. There were surprises, however. I had expected Bulimar to have a better show, and I didn't expect Ferlito to shine quite so much, so they were certainly nice surprises.  Gomez and Donald are two other very nice prospects for their respective nations too.  There is nothing like an opportunity to get excited about the juniors halfway through a quad!!


Saturday, August 21, 2010


Okay guys, here is the fun news!  You know how I started a Couch Gymnast Facebook account?  Well, it wigged out and now I can't access it (probably because Facebook doesn't like you having dual accounts and I am a dirty big cheater doing so!!!).  It is no longer.

 So, you will see that I have a link now on the side (same place) to another account.  This is under my actual name (so no stalking!!) and will replace the wiggy Couch Gymnast one.  So, even if you think you have friended me, you are going to have to do it again.  See, this is a test... how much do you really wanna be my friend!?

Sorry about this.  But if it annoys you, imagine how much it is annoying me!!!  Be patient, I am no good with this stuff!  See you on the new one I hope!


Friday, August 20, 2010


"What goes where?"

Alright peeps!  I am setting thee a task.  It seems we have a bit of a vaulting theme going on over at The Couch Gymnast Magazine this month.  In honour of that- I want to hear from you guys about your favorite or most memorable vaults of all time.

This can be a favorite vault performance, or favorite style, or favorite crazy vaulting moment.  It's up to you- I want it all!!

However- along with that- you must tell us why it stands out to you.  Please send your answers by email to




Thursday, August 19, 2010


Cataline Ponor (pic: Libertatea)

Catalina Ponor was interviewed by Romanian rag, Libertatea, on her birthday.  Ponor waxed much nostalgic about watching footage of her performances and, from what I can gather was very moved by fan-made montages. 

She talked a little more about her experiences in the US, saying that she was strict with her girls, but demanding only when necessary.  She also pointed out that being closer in age helped her to understand the girls in the gym.

Cata said she hoped to produce a champion gymnast as good, perhaps better than her.  She knows she needs more experience first, though.



She really does. Seriously, I welled up a little when she cried at the end.   What a way to nail floor.  The only real landing deductions were on the last pass.  Hit leaps mostly. The height on the twists!!! A turn you couldn't fault.  I am loving this kid.  I'll say it again, nerves of steel.
Congratulations Italy, you have the kind of team member everyone loves right there.

And wow, that was some television right there.  Ferlito and her coach hugging and smiling, while Sasada covers her face and cries!  Sad.  That's Nistor and Yang Yilin in Beijing all over again.  Poor Natsumi.




Viktoriya Komova on beam.  This kid- what do we do about her?  Is there anyway possible to make sure she lasts?  Tell me, would you put her on the 1989 Soviet Worlds Team?  Is she as good?  Good enough?  Is she better?  Would she fit?  Who would you take out of the team to put her in? The mind boggles!
 The full turn-front aerial-sheep jump connection?  This kid....well.. I can only shake my head.




In crazy news- Gymnastics Coaching  reported that Vazam has opted not to go for worlds, instead focusing on her college career.  That's a great one for team loyalty, but a sad one for those of us who were excited to see how she would show on a world stage.
Miss Val talked about the whole Worlds thing with Marta (she discusses it in this video).  I was surprised Marta was so supportive of the collegiate/elite double up, but apparently she was.
Val also claims that this elite dip was just to "get our feet wet", just to see how Vanessa held up against the big picture of US elite gymnastics.

So, it seems that Marta has told them she wants Vanessa to work on her vaults and get consistent for at least six months.  Who knows, maybe Marta is smarter than we think?  Maybe if Vanessa had landed those two vaults on two days, she might feel differently.  But maybe she is willing to let good things come to those who wait too? Or maybe she just isn't willing to take the risk- and fair enough too.

I get it.  I do. 

And also, maybe Vanessa doesn't just want to be the Cheng' when she makes it to a world team.  It is sad, because on one level, having her there for that one whooping score vault might be better than having some potentially inconsistent multi-event athletes
on the team.  But who is to say she can't try again next year with far greater skills?
It does blow, because the US could do with her vault, and it would be sooo fun to have her there, but...

Maybe we just have to fight our urge to have the fairy tale story we all love too much, the 'in her first season elite she makes the world team' kind of tale we had with Kayla Williams.  Maybe Vazam, Val and even maybe Marta wants this to in a sustained, healthy way. Maybe I do too.

I just pray Vazam doesn't get injured.  please don't let her get injured!!!!!!



Komova (www.gymbox.net)

There will be Youtube videos tomorrow, I am sure.  Same order as qualifications for top three.  What did I tell you about Ferlito.  I like this kid!!  I think Bulimar got top floor score.

Komova 61.25
Tan 58.5
Ferlito 55.35


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The Couch Gymnast got a Facebook account because it was getting confusing separating gymnastics and life contacts, which in my life, are somewhat different worlds!  sO, If you want to be friends, go use that thing over there > that says Facebook in my sidebar!  Otherwise, hunt for it under Couch Gymnast. If you don't wanna be friends, that's okay too!



Carlotta Ferlito (Pic: International Gymnast)

I have to admit I find Carlotta Ferlito a fascinating athlete already.  One look at her and you think you know what you have got, another strong, good on the leg events, sturdy Italian gymnast.  Yep, we have the kind of gymnast who qualifies second on vault.

But is that really all we have?  Well, no- obviously.  Her AA ranking after day 1 proved that.

Sure, she is very Italian- A press beam mount, anyone?  But look at the rest of her beam work.  She doesn't have that gorgeous, slender body line that judges love.  And though she is slight she is certainly no Galante.

But look at that whole mount sequence!  I mean, it's BEAUTIFUL!!.  The way she kicks up into that split handstand and bends the foot down to her head?  The way she fluidly shifts back and raises herself to her feet up on her toes?  That is some gorgeous beam work right there.  There are far more 'beautiful' gymnasts out there doing far less beautiful chorey.  So for one thing, she has a smart coach.  Her Memmel turn is well done and they know it, utilising it on beam and floor.  When she hits all her leaps which she didn't manage to on beam, she will be great.  Besides, her failure to I attribute to her being cautious more than not actually being able to hit them, because she hit her splits were no problem on floor.


Speaking of floor, she can tumble really, really well, nail a few landings and dance without embarrassing herself (tougher for an Italian junior than you might think!!).  She has everything in place there.

 She isn't too bad on bars either, which helps, qualifying fifth or sixth, as I see it.

But what does she seems to have that I think is going to stand her in great stead for the future in the sport?  Nerves of steel.  It was those as much as anything that landed her third place in qualifications when other girls were expected to be there.  I hope she can keep it up.  There may be a Memmel in her somewhere.  And I like to have a Memmel around.

P.S. I wonder if Desiree Baumert can make a comeback after her bad qualis?  She just scraped into the finals if they are doing top 24.  Are they?


Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It was a bit like that- Komova......and others. So, Viktoriya Komova topped the YOG qualifications.  Anyone even faintly surprised?  I think not!  Here we have it, kids, a ridiculously talented child!  I am afraid I did not see her compete, as I had to leave the office early evening, where the internet does work, and go home where it showed me a frozen picture of a Greek gymnast for perhaps, ten minutes before I gave up! 
Anyway, here's Komova's ridiculously high scoring UB routine!


But lets talk about some other gymnasts too.  I did, earlier, see Didi Bulimar vault her front pike- her second vault, I think.  She looks strong, aside from the bandaged knee.  Form errors were an issue, including a huge leg separation mounting the horse.  You can watch her Floor exercise here.  It is very Romanian, but very, very good.

I also saw Desiree Baumert literally attack the balance beam.  The girl was going so hard, throwing herself headlong at it that she fell twice.  In fact, falling isn't the right word, she catapulted herself from it!! 

Here is Tan Sixin's balance beam, from RussianCup who doesn't allow you to embed,where she placed first, and cemented her second place AA. Her air time on her back layout was truly spectacular!!!  Here too, embedded is her floor ex.  There is no sound, but you get the idea.  She makes fabulous shapes and looks sooo energetic, yet fluid on floor for a Chinese gymnast.  You often get one or the other.


Here is Alina Kravchenko, the young Ukrainian gymnast.  She could be a nice bar work when she hits her handstands.  Beautiful stalder work, though.

Angela Donald, Australian Junior Champion.  I truly believe, once she tidies up her legs, she could be a really beautiful beam worker.  She did a great job of staying up there.


Last up, we must also see Carlotta Ferlito, of Italy, who qualfied brilliantly, and is a great leg worker.She should be able to upgrade this Yurchenko. She has great push, though she looks a little tall?


Okay, I am out (to watch some more)!!  Mistysakura is probably a great place to start for a bunch of videos, as is Russiancup2009.