Friday, February 25, 2011

Gymnastics Therapy: Part one

Some of you may have heard that my country has been hit by a massive disaster. Everyone I know knows someone from Christchurch, or someone who knows someone who was or is trapped in those buildings. There are over 100 dead already and that number is expected to rise.

My sister lives in Christchurch. Thankfully, she was in the part which was not hit badly. Now, she is back with my parents. The aftershocks were keeping her nerves on edge, so she is glad to be back home. My friend's father was one of the people rescued in this article. I was standing under the cathedral waiting for my sister last year. Now bodies are being recovered from it and its surrounds. Luck, bad or good, determined who died. I have had very good luck. Not everyone has. New Zealand is a small country. Right now, all of us are wondering around thinking that we are in a bad dream.

On one level, thinking about gymnastics seems very silly. People are dead. Gymnastics news does not seem like important news at all.

On another level, I need access to gymnastics videos now more than ever. They take me into another place - a place of beauty and amazing feats.

Now I will share my favourite videos. I planned to do this in another post, but what the hell, now seems like the best moment. I need comfort.

Part two tomorrow.

I will be back to my analystical self soon. I have several posts half completed, but right now, it is hard to write.

I hope that my readers and their people are ok.

To help quake sufferers, you may want to read the media articles I linked, which have places to send donations.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Commentating Cliches

I watch a lot of gymnastics. There are a lot of different commentators with different styles, but there are some quotes that crop up quite a lot. Commentators always want to have something to say, since they are pretty much paid to talk. There seem to be some sayings that they feel that they always need to say.

If I actually drank alcohol, I think I could make a drinking game about for each gymnastics meet.

I list some of these below.

On events...
  • On floor, you can let your personality shine out.
  • Beam is the most difficult event to start on, because the adrenaline means that it is hard to stay on.
  • Vault is a great event to start on, because it lets you get some of your energy out of the way.
  • In bars, it is important to hit all those handstands.
On elite gymnastics
  • Three up and three count. That is a lot of pressure.
  • Yuchenko double. We are going to see a lot of those today.
On college gymnastics
  • In college gymnastics, it is all about the team.
  • When you make a mistake, you know that your team is behind you.
  • Yuchenko full. We are going to see a lot of those today.
Just generally
  • On all events: It is important to stick that landing (you could argue that in elite, sticking the landing is less important than it used to be).
  • Right now, this gymnast is probably mentally visualizing their routine.
  • Both/all the teams in this meet want to win (well, obviously).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Random Mutterings and Music Suggestions

A few months ago, I got very excited. The reason why?

I had a follower. It was Rick Charles, a guy who runs Gymnastics Coaching, one of the web's biggest Gym blogs.

Today, I got even more excited because he mentioned me on his website!

And I now have another follower. And a comment.

I had a look at my stats and realised that Full Twist has also told people about my website. Full Twist, which is also, just randomly, another regularly visited site, was talking about looking for music.

I have always intended to post a blog on music that I think would be perfect for gymnastics. When I watch lots of gymnastics, I always seem to imagine the music I listen to with gymnastics moves. How this would work on a practical level, I am not sure, but these are just a few ideas. Full Twist was talking about looking for music, and since they have kindly told others about my blog, this is my attempt to do a favour in return.

1. Theme and Variations by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lloyd Webber is an amazing composer, and there are plenty of themes to play with here. I have heard the first one used as floor music ( with a change to the beat, which I was not sure about). There are better versions than this one, but this was the only one on Youtube.

2. Precipice is a part of the soundtrack to Battlestar Galactica, which has an intense and awesome theme. I can imagine it being used by a 'power gymnast.' Someone like Becca Bross could do this with intensity and make the intensity seem like part of the choreo.

3. I loved Riverdance when it came out. I still like it quite a lot. Dominique Moceanu (Slip into Spring) used this music in 1999, and Raducan used Reel Around the Sun. There are many other tunes, all composed by Bill Wheelan. Not all of them are Irish. This is one of my favourite tunes. I think that an energetic, happy gymnast could pull this off.

4. Jean Butler and Colin Dunne, who used to star in Riverdance, tried to market this show. It did not quite work out, but some awesome music came out of it. This is an attempt to marry Irish dancing and tango, which some hate and some love. The music is intriguing. Someone like Hollie Vise would do this tune justice.

Just a few ideas. I am not sure how well they will work, but I thought I would put them out there. There will be more of these blogs. I like lots of different types of music.

My Reflections on last year: Part 3



Oh the poise! Oh the elegance! Oh the skills! The Couch Gymnast has detailed why this routine is so awesome. I know I am desperately unoriginal, but this is my absolute favourite routine of 2010.


I love the fact that someone "across the ditch" is having so much international success. I like the original skills, and the mount. I like her tumbling. I know she won the floor, but for me, Mitchell is beam worker, first and foremost.


World's Bar final: Tweddle getting gold. I have posted her routine twice already. I love the complete madness of her routine. Heaps of difficulty! Heaps of releases. This lady, along with Nastia and He, has set a new standard for uneven bars. I don't think the event will ever be the same again.


World's vault final: Sacramone's win, Mustafina's silver and Barbosa getting bronze. Two stories of redemption from tricky times in 2008, and a story of a young lady's potential being realised. See part 1.

Mental Win

I am borrowing this phase from Aunt Joyce, because there is really no better way of saying this concept. I believe it deserves a category of its very own because no matter how hardworking, polished or talented a gymnast is, if they cannot get their game together in the important meets, what they can do means little.

For me, Mustafina showed heaps of mental win. She was not intimidated by the pressure. She hit her routines in team finals when her team mates did not. This was her first senior international competition. With the look in her eyes, you would never have known it. Her face is young, but her eyes look much older.

If I have to pick one person out for competing on an injury, it would have to be Natasha Kelley, who competed most of a college gymnastics season on a torn Achilles Tendon. Of course, I was amazed by Rebecca Bross competing on a strained ankle, which then became a fractured ankle. The amount of work ethic these gymnasts have astounds me.

All Around

Mustafina - who else? What a class act!

Unsung Gymnasts

At the moment, the examiner discussion centres around the most under-rated female gymnast. I have always planned to base the third part of 2011 reflections on a number of gymnasts who I think were under-rated or unsung this year. Only the gymnasts who find their way onto the podium are given glory, but for every gymnast who gets to the podium, there are several hard working gymnasts who lack luck, training, talent, or mental smarts. But this does not take away from the good work that these gymnasts do, or the beauty that they bring to the world through their gymnastics.

Amy Regan (Scotland)

Regan, who is fifteen, is the Scottish all around champion. She just missed the Commonwealth medal stand for her floor routine, behind Cairns, Mitchell and Brennan.

Regan was the only person in the Commonwealths to compete a double layout. It was beautiful. Even through a few of the other skills were not quite 'on,' I really enjoyed watching her routine. It is great to see someone from a non-gymnastics nation attempting difficult skills, doing some of them well, and pleasing the crowd while she was at it.

Her routine was good entertainment. The audience adored it. This girl is tailor-made for NCCA. (Gosh, I have nominated two people for NCCA in two posts!)

Anna Dementyeva(Russia)

If Anna were in a team other than the talent-packed Russian team, more attention would be given to her. As it is now, Mustafina, Nabieva, Komova, and Grishina seem to take up most of the attention when it comes to the Russians.

Dementyeva is as inconsistent as Nabieva, but her execution is much better. Her beam is lovely to watch. I especially like her illusion turn (but then again, I have a general love of illusion turns). I wanted to post her hitting beam (she falls quite a lot) but embedding was disabled.

I also like her floor. Her twisting is beautiful, and her flexibility is evident in her leaps. She actually dances to the music.

Overall, I think Demetyeva has been overshadowed by bigger gymnasts this year, in both personality in skills. But she is still beautiful to watch. I hope that she learns to manage her nerves and keep improving her gymnastics.

Kytra Hunter (USA)

Kytra Hunter has not had the best year, After putting lots of effort into making the Worlds team she did not quite make the cut, and it turned out that she did not have the high school credits to go to Florida either.

Kytra is not a ballerina. Her form is not as good as some gymnasts. But man is she powerfu! Her floor would give Newton a heart attack. Many have said that if Kytra were from another country, she would be a sho-in to their gymnastics team. This is true. She is a victim of being from a strong gymnastics country.

Gymnastics is by and large an individual sport, but whether you make it to a team or not depends on the others around you, and the rules governing the sport. Hollie Vise did not make the Olympics because she was a bar/beam specialist when the team needed a vaulter. Kytra did not make the Worlds because the team needed a bar worker. Despite being a Hills girl, Kytra is not one of those. She is amazing on everything else, but her talents could be covered by other gymnasts.

Hopefully, Kytra will get her high school credits and go to Florida next year. It will be good to see what they do with her.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Reflections on last year: Part 2 - Judging Confusion

Many people have put forward various parts of the Worlds as the greatest judging stuff ups and while I agree with them I think I will highlight some crazy judging that took place in another championship. The vault of the Commonwealth games had some fairly funky judging which changed the results between the end of the competition and the podium ceremony.

Jennifer Khwela is the first South African to win a world cup. She has an amazing story. Being involved in the Commonwealth games must have been a thrill for her. Here are her vaults:

Khwela's landing positions were caught in the pictures below:

According to the judges in that particular meet, both vaults warranted a 0.10 neutral deduction.

The FIG rules, which are from the Gymnastics Coaching website, are shown below:

I would assume from the rules stated above that this meant the Khwela's vaults were deducted for being too close to the corridor.

Imogen Cairns did two rather awesome vaults which are in the video below.

Pictures of the landings are below. The first landing also originally had a 0.10 neutral deduction. The second did not. I do not see why this is the case. The first and second landings are roughly the same distance from the corridor. Cairns pulled her second vault in faster, but the rules say the initial contact is decisive, so if the first was penalised, the second should have been as well.

Gabby May did a great job of her vaults as well, but a number of steps on the second vault probably cost her a higher placing.

Here are the screen shots of May's landings, none of which got a neutral deduction. I think that if any of these vaults deserved a neutral deduction, the one on the right did. In fact, I am pretty sure her toe touches the line in the photo. To me, the judging in this meet was very inconsistent. I am not sure if the judges knew when to take neutral deductions.

Kristin Klarenbach did not get any neutral deductions, and I don't think she should have. Her vaults are in the video below. They are high, with beautiful form and good distance. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them. Unfortunately, her difficulty scores were not as high as the three ladies shown above.

Originally, the scores looked roughly like this:

Name Rank Country Vault D score E score Penalty Total score Overall score
CAIRNS Imogen 1 ENG 1 5.3 8.85 0.1 14.05 13.73

2 4.8 8.6
MAY G. 2 CAN 1 5 8.78
13.78 13.71

2 5.2 8.45
KLARENBACH K. 3 CAN 1 5 8.83
13.83 13.64

2 4.7 8.75
KHWELA J. 4 RSA 1 5 8.7 0.1 13.6 13.64

2 5 8.78 0.1 13.68

Obviously, Khwela and Klarenbach had the same score, but since Klarenbach had a better execution score, I guess the tie went her way.

But Khwela contested the scores, and they were changed. In the end, no-one in the top four had any neutral deductions, which implies that the judges made mistakes with Cairns as well as Khwela in the first instance. Yet Tracie Ang whose first landing was almost the same as Khwela, continued to have a neutral deduction of 0.1. I guess the figured that keeping her neutral deduction would not affect the final outcome, so they kept it.

Name Rank Country Vault D score E score Penalty Total score Overall score
CAIRNS Imogen 1 ENG 1 5.3 8.85
14.15 13.78

2 4.8 8.6
KHWELA J. 2 RSA 1 5 8.7
13.7 13.74

2 5 8.78
MAY G. 3 CAN 1 5 8.78
13.78 13.71

2 5.2 8.45
KLARENBACH K. 4 CAN 1 5 8.83
13.83 13.64

2 4.7 8.75

I cannot help feeling sorry for Klarenbach. She thought she had won a medal, and then suddenly, she was in the dreaded position of 4th place. Klarenbach did not participate in the floor later that day. Was it related to the vault drama? Possibly. I hope that Klarenbach does NCCA. I think any team would be lucky to have her.

Obviously, the confusion around these deductions was an issue at the Commonwealths, and at the Worlds as well. I am not sure that it is fair to blame the judges. They had different interpretations of the rule, but I can see why this confusion exists. I think that it is up to FIG to provide pictures and examples to make sure the judges make the right decisions first time without any of this confusion. Or even change the wording to "on the line" as Rick suggests. This is more fair on the gymnasts, and coaches and the fans.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Reflections on last year: Part 1

This year was much more exciting than last year. A lot of commentators have already put together ____ of the year awards. I am not going to try to compete with these people. They have done a fantastic job. I am just going to try adding to this. This may mean that I neglect the main stories, but many others have written about them. I am going to try doing something slightly different. It will be in three parts.

Some Surprises

She went to the Commonwealths, took out gold medals on floor (over Lauren Mitchell) and vault, and then cliched a world team spot after a team-mate's untimely injury. Then she became vault finalist in the world championships. I have featured her floor above because I really enjoyed it. Apparently, she borrowed the choreo from Miss Val, and she did a great job with it.

After reading about Jade's injury misfortunes, I got the impression that I would not see her again. I am very happy to be wrong. She came into the world vault final "out of nowhere" as Mr. Brestyan said and won a bronze medal. I love a story of a gymnast facing challenges and coming back to fight another day. I love that someone who is not from a major gymnastics nation was able to do this.

'Older' Gymnasts

I get so sick of commentators saying that anyone over sixteen is old and/or the wrong age. Making 20 year olds sound like geriatrics is fairly silly. Physically, a woman has to carry more body fat around to maintain health, which can adversely affect the gymnastics. Mentally, the part of the brain about long term consequences is developed, which can make the older athlete a bit more scared, especially if they have to learn scary new tricks.

Yet when a female athlete knows what it is like when things go massively wrong, they know how not to do things. They know what it is to go through tough times and/or "the worst", so they are less likely to be scared of "the worst". They know that while injury and/or a sub-par performance at a critical moment can be painful, it is survivable. They know how to make things work. Gymnastics is a mental sport, so this must give them advantage.

Both Beth Tweddle and Alicia Sacramone showed that age can be an asset which can improve performance when they beat the other young guns from around the world with excellent performances.

Many other gymnasts seem to improve with age as well. Lauren Mitchell and Imogen Cairns seem to be getting better results as they get older. Vanessa Zamarripa, and Casey-Jo Magee are opting to do elite gymnastics during/after college. This year, we will see more athletes come into gymnastics who do not have the so-called 'perfect age'. They could make a similar or equal impact to the sixteen year olds. This is one thing that I cannot wait to see.

I am back...

Well, it has been an interesting few months with summer holidays, seeing family that I have not seen for ten years and I spent lots of time on the beach. Body surfing involved a number of somersaults and twists. The trick with it is to go with the direction of the surf rather than against, and then you can do skills that would never be possible in reality, at least for me.

But anyway, from now I on, I will attempt to write at least one blog every week.

Now I have a twitter... @Gymadmirer so I can be followed.

A very overdue take on the last year of gymnastics will come soon.