2000 Olympic Trials Part 2: She’s Still Not OK

Anything worth doing is worth doing twice. Especially if it’s horrible. On to day 2 of Little Bela Shop of Horrors. (Don’t you think Bela would actually make a really good Audrey II? Any time he speaks, I already hear “Feed me, Seymour!”) Let’s see who shatters into dust today. Spoiler alert: It’s Shannon. And everybody.

Chapter 1, Minute 0: Paging Dr. Bela
-Remember the first day of competition and how it was a traumatic disaster where everybody had a nervous breakdown into a chalk bucket and then Beckerman just stopped in the middle of her bars routine out of emotional catastrophe? (HOW MANY TIMES ALYSSA?) Child’s play. Brace yourself.

-We haven’t even started yet, and Shannon is already in several pieces on the floor. At least she could have had the common decency to wait until after the intro fluff. Al didn’t even have a chance to butcher any American history this time! (“As Abigail Adams once said, ‘Give me liberty, or give me Bela.'”)

-Oh yes, the WAG blue plate special, an extended closeup of a woman in tears while her coach goes, “You alright?”
-Let me think. Oh right, no. I’m not. That’s why I’m on the ground, weeping.

-Bela’s helping.

-Larry: Let’s maybe be safe and get that thing looked at right now.

-Let’s pretend these closeups of her ex-husband never happened. Move it, creepy.

-“Hey, Shannon, either you can do a vault right now on your glass knee, or you can look after your body and shatter all of your dreams and mine in front of everyone. Your choice. No pressure. Do whatever feels right.”

-Shannon’s knee, you need to cool it. We have an important fluff piece to get to! You’ve seriously cut into our lights-turning-on-in-a-quiet-gym and softly-lit-allusions-to-past-fuck-ups time. You know, gymnastics.
-The title of this piece is Gonna Dress You Up In Beige Drapes (You’re a Disappointment). Note that neither Ray nor Maloney is even mentioned. Their lack of potential drama and disappointment is too disrespectful to the cause. Yet, there was time for a thousand shots of lurking Bela. THE STAR.

-The mascot of 2000 Trials:

-Al mentioning Survivor for no reason other than “the summer of 2000,” because no one during those months spoke sentences that didn’t end with “the tribe has spoken.” Remember when there were TV phenomena that 70 quadrillion people would watch? Me neither. Also, I’m surprised NBC would be like, “Yes, please give a shout out to our biggest rival during the broadcast. Thank you.”

-On night 1, Elfi and Tim were cruelly denied the chance to unleash their withering disdain on Vanessa’s bars routine since she hit, sort of. So rude. Thankfully, her routine doesn’t go great this time, which means they finally get to have their “How many times, Vanessa?” moment and tell us 50 times about how historically awful she is at life. On the spectrum of Atler’s bars errors, though, this is like a child’s medium.
-“You could tell from the leg separation on her mount that the seas would run red with the blood of orphans.”

-“Shannon White.” Sigh.

-Oh look! A little skit about whether or not Shannon should stay in the competition. You know the production went, “Nunno, we’re going to hold you on this event until Atler finishes bars, then you can go. Just jump back three lines, and we’ll cut in. Take it from, ‘If you’re going to be considered.’ And this time with feeling.”

-Also, have you ever looked directly into the face of a shark?

-Now you have. Those are some serious dead eyes. I love how Nunno is trying to pretend like she might still be named to the team, and Shannon is like, “………..” and “………….” and “I just destroyed Tokyo with my eyeball lasers.”
-Now, yes, that’s a nice sentiment from Steve about being respectful to the rest of the meet, but really, what was Shannon going to do? Jump up onto the vaulting horse and perform “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”? (But also, yes please)

-When you attend a sporting event and see that the camera is on you, please start acting like a deranged 6-year-old who just tasted sugar for the first time. You know how that thrills everyone.

-Alternates are “not ranked in any form.” Al, the mighty bringer of foreshadowing.

-Vatler’s second vault. The first word out of Elfi’s mouth is “Ew.”
-You know how, in retrospect, you convince yourself that Atler’s performance at Trials wasn’t that much of a disaster and that they totally blew it out of proportion to keep her off the team? And then you realize it really was that bad.

-Your performance displeases the king. Off with her head! Find me a new jester!

-Yeah, sure, this is a bad sign for Bela. He’s the one we’re concerned about here.

-MEANINGFUL SHOT OF EMPTY BARS. Symbolic of how you feel on the inside while watching this competition. “This is where Shannon Miller would have been, were she alive today.”

-“So much has already happened.” Exactly three routines.

Chapter 2, Minute 12: Mrs. Schwikert, Drug Pusher
-And now, our very first mention of the leaders of the competition. Elise who?

-“Morgan White is liked by Bela Karolyi.”
-Subtext: “Because she’s the thinnest.”
-Actual text: “Because she has the look of a gymnast.” They all have the look of gymnasts. You know why? Because they’re gymnasts. Go away.


-Whoa. Tasha Schwikert is a person. Starting 16 minutes ago.

-Morgan White’s floppity yhalf gets an actual “wow” from Tim.
-Al’s response: “Gurl, why?” In other news, this is the most I’ve ever liked Al.

-“It’s going to be Bela’s team. Yes, there are gymnasts on it too, but like meh.” Emperor Bela rules all. Seven more replays of him clapping please!
-We’re so proud of Morgan White for being tiny and young. Not like those old bags Shannon and Dominique, with their hips and boobs. YUCK BARF ICK.

-Elise Ray continues to strut through the corpse-laden battlefield that is this competition without a care in the world. She’s just gonna shake shake shake shake shake. Elise Ray invented Taylor Swift, is what I’m saying.

-Now introducing a zygote named Tasha Schwikert.

-Oh, my dear. So young. With a whole vista of black leotards still in front of her. The hope of youth.
-“That’s one of the pieces.” Nope. False. Opposite.

-GOD AL. I know there’s a lot of jargon, but some of this is pretty self-explanatory. Everyone knows what “start value” means. Everyone.

-The bouquet that ate Elise Ray. “I was trying to take off my grips, but the entire earth is covered in flowers.”
-Why gymnastics will always struggle to become a mainstream sport: because someone’s job is “getting the centerpieces.”

-“Schwikert’s mom and dad now are dealers in Las Vegas.” Blackjack dealers. You need to say the blackjack part. (You mean like a drug pusher?)

Chapter 3, Minute 20: She Waved. Exterminate Her.
-Attention. Al just said the words, “Everyone was like wow.” Al, getting hip with the youth shizzle.

-“Shannon, on a scale of 10 to 11, how devastated are you right now? If you want to cry, that would be awesome.”
-“Al, she didn’t cry. So, I’m just going to stand right next to her and talk about her in the third person awkwardly. Hope that’s cool.”

-“Boy, Beth. That was weird.”
-Yes, how dare Shannon behave calmly and professionally and say the things she’s supposed to say. Clearly, her lack of devastated monologue means she’s in denial. ADD HER TO THE THERAPY LIST.

-“Dominique Jaws.” I’ll allow it.

-You know who we haven’t talked about in a while? Shannon Miller. Shannon Shannon Shannon Shannon Shannon Shannon Shannon.
-“There are also a lot of loopholes that are intentionally in there to protect them so they can get the best team they think they’ve got.” Yes, what a sinister aim, trying to select the best possible team to go to the Olympics. Evil continues to reign.

-Ah, finally. It’s time for the next stop on the Alyssa Beckerman Is a Goldfish and the Worst world concert tour.
-“She actually turned around and waved to them. She acknowledged her fans when they were calling her name.” WHAT? SHE ACKNOWLEDGED THEM? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? HOW DARE SHE. UNFORGIVABLE. I can’t believe she did what every gymnast does and should do. That kind of simple shred of joy and fan-friendliness must be stamped out immediately. The crown princess must never deign to acknowledge the commoners, lest she be soiled by them. Lifeless automaton, please!

-Seriously, Elfi relayed that MLT comment with a tone as if Alyssa had gone up and punched Tracee Talavera in the esophagus. Welcome to everything that’s wrong.

-Uh oh, you guys, Alyssa is looking to the side before going on beam. SHE IS WEAK GARBAGE.
-“She needs to compete wide open.” Um…….

-I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.

-As much as we hate all over most US floor routines, with reason, these days they sure are a lot less corny than they used to be. Mostly. The bad ones are bad because there’s no real dance or investment, but not because they’re the dumbest thing you’ll ever see.
-I guess Maloney really wanted to be included in that opening disappointment fluff. She was like, “I’ll show you a catastrophe!”

-“She came in with a sore ankle. We saw her continue to tumble day after day in practice.” Great.

-Remember that time Atler flew off the beam like a champagne cork? Is she going to do it again? IS SHE IS SHE IS SHE????? EEEEEE. I CAN’T WAIT. HERE IT COMES…
-She didn’t. How devastating. We wanted blood! Although I live for Tim and Elfi celebrating way too early on that clearly short dismount. When we write our unauthorized biography of Elfi Schlegel, it will be called No proble…OH MY GOD.

-Coming up next, Valeri huddles in the fetal position in the corner while rocking back and forth muttering, “Nastia’s a senior in five years. Nastia’s a senior in five years. Nastia’s a senior in five years.”

Chapter 4, Minute 33: Call Elfi Now for a Free Tarot Reading
-Whoa! Was that a unicorn on the podium? Oh, no. The NBC commentators just said a US gymnast’s score was too high. I get those two confused.
-“Trying to figure out what’s going on here.” Yes Tim, welcome to our constant lives.

-You know you’ve been watching way too much NCAA when you see someone hit a correct wolf jump position and you’re like, “Ooooooooooh.”
-No, Kelli Hill didn’t win Trials in 1996.

-Who decided that tiptoeing along like a frostbitten WWI soldier with carpal tunnel syndrome = artistic?
-“She’s got to go, she’s the one, but heck, I want to go too.” Yeah, we know. We really know.
-WIFE DEBBIE. “And for Morgan White, wife Debbie thinking about going to Sydney.” COLLAPSED.

-“For Mary Lee Tracy and her prize show horse pupil, Morgan White.” Alyssa, enjoy that knife through the heart.

-Please watch our poor friend steel herself before trying to slide behind Bela.

-When she emerges, she looks like she just returned from mapping the North Pole to glimpse civilization for the first time.

-Al keeps wanting to get Amy Chow in a newspaper. Also, Amy Chow is here? Where? Has she turned invisible? Does she not cry enough?

-The Dantzscher family has graduated from Spanish Inquisition to Roman Colosseum. They just opened the lion pit.

-“There’s confidence in that face. She wants to go to Sydney.” Oh, really? She wants to go to Sydney? Weird. Good thing she’s at Olympic Trials then. Because of her face, which Elfi can read to reveal the truth of a gymnast’s character. She’s Canadian Miss Cleo.
-Jamie comes from a hard-working family, you know. Not like these other lazy piece of shit families.

-That same centerpiece just side-swiped Beth Rybacki. Maybe Audrey II is in the arena after all.
-Yep, Bela did it. He created Jamie Dantzscher from a ball of clay and shame.

Chapter 5, Minute 42: Moceanu’s Sadness Forest
-“This is important because Vanessa Atler is dead to me.”
-Why does part of Dawes’ routine involve her swinging a longsword around and then stabbing herself in the clavicle? Because Hill’s? The noble death of a gladiator that will occur if you disgrace The Kelli?

-“There’s Dominique Moceanu. She’s providing…insight.”

-Oooooh, they were all ready to do a Moceanu fluff and then she went and got injured! So inconvenient. Oh well, make it anyway. We already did a whole forest-themed photo shoot. Can’t waste that gold.
-“The follow-up to Nadia and Mary Lou.” Like they’re Hepatitis shots.
-Why was Bela always rock-polishing her hands?
-I will never forget Bela’s pronunciation of “smooth” during that Moceanu beam routine. SCHMYOUTH. SCHMYOUTH.
-Well, this is sure leaving a lot unsaid.
-The overarching theme of the 2000 season was “Um, I don’t think she’s OK,” but that really culminates with The Moc. She’s like, “Oh, Morgan, you think you’re not OK? Deal with THIS PIECE.”


-Trapped in a forest of emotions. The trees are her family now.
-Reach up, Dominique. Claw. Claw for the warmth that will never come.
-I wish I could have heard the production meeting that led to this epic photographic masterpiece. “I really feel like she should be stroking a pine, you know?” “WITH THE BEIGE DRAPE. SYNERGY!”

-“A debilitating chip of bone.” Bone chip. We just say bone chip.

-Innertubes always symbolize fading dreams. They’re the “leaves falling from an oak” of gymnastics fluff pieces.
-What if there were a waterfall just out of shot right then? No Domi! Slow down, Domi! DOMIIIIII! (Welcome to my brain when watching gymnastics. What if she fell off a waterfall right now?)

-“She’s still planning to squeeze all possible pennies out of the post-Olympics tour.”
-“Jaycie Phelps also or whatever.”

-Fun fact: Amy Chow’s floor routine takes place inside Moceanu’s sadness forest.
-“Kristen Maloney, of all people!” Her full name.

-Shannon update. She’s still sitting there. I REPEAT, she’s still sitting there.

-“Post your own comments in the chat room at NBCOlympics.com.” Sweet heavens, how much would you pay for an archive of that? All the monies. CHAT ROOM.
-But also, a live post-meet web-only after show? Why isn’t that still a thing you do? I’ll host it. We’ll have a ball.

Chapter 6, Minute 51: Tim Gets Funky
-“It doesn’t have anything to do with the standings at all, although it many ways it probably will.”Al Trautwig mindfuck. Listening to Al makes me feel like I’m Helena taking the Castor syllogism test on Orphan Black. ………….Where are these mangoes?

-When your 3/1 on floor looks like a Russian junior’s beam dismount, it’s a no from me.
-And Tim. “Gets funky in the air.”

-Love the “No Vanessas Allowed” disaster caucus around Bela.

-Also, gymnastics is broken now. Call it off. Elise probably acknowledged a fan before that beam routine. The original sin. Or “maybe she’s just pooped.” Thanks, Al. Or maybe this entire meet is a bloody, festering hate sore sent to us from the underworld, consuming even the most golden of swans. Or maybe this is a real problem, and she’s not going to hit beam at the Olympics.

-I think so too.

-“You gotta fill that hole.” Life advice from Tim Daggett.
-And then Amy Chow got attacked by a plague of locusts. We all saw it coming.


-Al’s pause after Jeanette Antolin appeared was very telling. Like, “Um, she isn’t one of the good ones. What am I supposed to do with this?”

-“There never was any hope.” I live for the moments when Elfi accidentally slips in a dagger of honesty. “Dear Jeanette Antolin, life is meaningless. Joy is a joke. The air suffocates with unkindness, and food tastes only of despair.” Speaking of that…

-“Coached by Don Peters, who has been on the gymnastics scene for a long, long time.” UUUUGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

-More “heading to UCLA” foreshadowing. It’ll go fine. I promise you won’t get kicked off the team.

-Jamie’s original recipe ASac moment. See above, re: festering hate sore. It’s almost hard to believe this team didn’t do super well at the Olympics.
-Al is really into his pooped narrative. Tim is really into “she fell twice because she’s finishing on beam.” Which is exactly zero excuse.

-Who would have thought that the one who started the summer’s competitions by winning the emotional-breakdown sweepstakes would end up being the good one?
-And Morgan White definitely doesn’t look like she’s constantly on the verge of shattering into a hundred pieces, so I’m sure it will be fine.

-“D-Day at the Fleet Center.” Let’s play “Which War Hasn’t Al Compared This Competition To?”

Chapter 7, Minute 63: Bottom of the Barrel
-That’s right. You shuffle the crap out of those papers. We’ve moved into the extended dissection of Bela’s every mustache twitch and SCHMYOUTH portion of the evening.

-“I think we need three more verifications. I’m not sure yet.”
-“There’s Tracee in the back.” Yes, she seems really involved in this decision.
-Why do you have just that one laptop that everyone has to keep leaning over? Loosen the wallet, Scrooge McDuck.

-Oh wait, there’s still more meet going on? We were certainly acting like it was over just then.
-That thing where you’re not sure if Beckerman is warming up or if she just stopped in the middle of her floor routine. Because Beckerman.

-Tim, Elfi, you have to stop talking about filling holes.
-“The Russians are looking, the Romanians are looking” is not a reason to put someone on a team.

-“I’m a gold medalist, get out of my way.” I’ll be honest, that’s exactly what I would do every moment if I were Dominique Dawes.

-UH OH. She’s acknowledging. Arrest her.

-WHOA. Dawes pulled out the double-handed tearful Trials wave. And she didn’t even dismount bars with a flyaway!

-Amanda Stroud in the much-renowned “The competition is almost over and there are literally no other routines to show, so we’re showing you, even though we didn’t want to” position. Randy Stageberg owes her so much.

-“At Nationals, her knee came off.” You know that’s what you thought he was going to say. It would only be about 2% surprising.

-Amy, that 3/1 was a little Russian juniory, too. “There were some people who were actually saying she should change the dismount.” You mean because she totally under-rotated it once again in this meet? Those people! Idiots!

-Ooooh, we’re Double Stroud-ing tonight! Rachel Tidd also gets a turn. But aren’t there any closeups of Bela trying to figure out what a computer is that we could be showing right now instead?

-Al is really not keeping up with his “OUT OF BOUNDS” calling in this meet. Uh, falling down on your one job there, boy. Elfi had to do it. ELFI!

-I completely forgot what a disastrous Trials KRISTEN MALONEY OF ALL PEOPLE quietly ended up having. In a normal year, that would have been DEFCON 1000, but at this meet it was more, “Just the two falls in a day? What a rock! She won’t fall in the AA at the Olympics!”

-“She got through.” No. She didn’t. She fell.
-Does “got through” just mean “didn’t die” now? Because that seems to be how gymnastics commentators use it. “Must find positive thing to say. Must find positive thing to say….She remains conscious! Yippee! Hooray!”

-“Once Vanessa Atler started SUCCCCCKKKING.”
-One of the worst things about the Martha camps is the improved consistency across the board for US gymnasts. There’s so much less opportunity for NBC bitchiness.

-PHEW. Al’s back to his OOB duties. The world spins again.

-Bela’s sarcastic standing ovation for this barf-a-thon.

-“OK. That’s it. FINALLY.”

-Ah, the glorious, hallowed March of the Selection Committee. Everyone’s clothes fit great.
-OK. Tim just told us the team. We’re done now, right? No? “Efli, you want to try? Elfi? ELFI?????” Elfi doesn’t live here anymore, apparently.
-What is this, TMZ? We have to shaky-cam follow them into the club to see if they say something racist?

-Really good footage of that closed door. Thanks.
-“The official final computer standings.” Oh, the COMPUTER standings. That changes everything.

-The cattle have been taken to the fenced-in area.

-Elfi’s back. Totally copying Tim’s team.
-This is my favorite possible image of the trio. 1000 words.

Snap, Crackle, and Pop.

-“Billy Karolyi.” He’s starting an Old West train-robbery gang with Shannon White and Dominique Jaws.
-“Handed over” to “fix her.” Note this vocabulary.

-“I said that years ago.” I totally invented knowing Vanessa Atler is talented, you guys. I was into Vanessa Atler’s talent way before it sold out and became mainstream.

-“Elfi, let’s say you were having Vanessa’s problems.” LIFE.
There’s an actual clock to tell us how long this little discussion group has spent shitting all over Vanessa Atler. It’s 7 minutes.

-“6-5-4, what does that mean?” Well Al, numbers are symbols used to represent quantities.

-One more shot of Shannon crying for the road.

-FOUR MINUTES LATE. Al is going to cut someone.
-“You can chat live with Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegel.” YOU MEAN IT?????? “On the world wide web.” YESSSSSSSSSS.

-Door update: still closed. Awesome television.

-MLT. Acting normal.

-The best part of this whole selection, Beth Ruyak lurking around like the ghost of a Victorian child.


-2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate? Bela! Bela! Yaaaaaaaah!


-“Here come the women. They look a little confused.”

-Good thing this was planned.


-“Beth Rybacki is going to get her Olympics.” That’s what you have to say? The coach? Don’t mention the gymnasts themselves or anything.

-Now let’s play “Find who’s crying the most.” Oh look, it’s still Beth Rybacki.

-“It’s about to be party time.” If I were to list the least appropriate summations of this competition, that would be the winner.

-This team announcement didn’t go great. Let’s be sure in four years it’s much more produced. And if we could also make it as fucked up and vicious as possible, that would be great too. Although, the statute of limitations on feeling sorry for Hollie Vise has expired. Alex Naddour’s torso. Conclusion: I don’t feel bad for you.

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