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2008 Olympic Trials Part 2: The Landmark Case of Bieger v. Sloan

Onward to night two!

The final chance for these poor vagrants and wandering hobos to impress the WATCHFUL EYES OF MARTHA KAROLYI (not Martha, just her disembodied, sentient pair of eyes floating around the arena) before the team is…oh, wait. There’s still a selection camp after this. And then a prep camp. What fun. My legs aren’t bedazzled kindling wrapped in Shayla’s Little Orphan Annie ribbon. What are you talking about?

The fact that those reclaimed bird limbs that Nastia charitably calls her joints stayed intact through this whole process and into the Olympics remains a miracle to me. Praise be to Prod’s shaved eyebrow stripe.



Incomplete sentence. To prove what? To prove a theorem? To prove bread? Never explained. No other words are used. Just “TO PROVE.”

“Earning a spot on the Olympic team is one of the most important things these girls have to accomplish.”

One of? Martha, I’m disappointed in you. We all know it’s the only important thing. That’s how you can tell Martha did not have script approval here. I suppose it is an improvement over the original draft, “If Alicia falls on beam, I will burn her family.”

“If you’re not able to perform under these situations, then you obviously would not be the right player.” PLAYER? Martha. Come on. You’re falling apart around here. You’re not some mouth-breathing NCAA bro-mmentator named Chert who usually does lacrosse games. You know they’re called gymnasts.

We’re treated to the highlights of night one, which include Nastia and Shawn hugging each other and that’s all. You know, the important part.

Much like a TGIF program of the 90s, an opening credit sequence is used reintroduce us to the cast of characters in case our small child brains have forgotten who they are since yesterday.


Shayla wishes she were just flinging that menu down anywhere like Aunt Rachel. This is why no one ever ate at Rachel’s Place.

The “players” are even broken up into helpful categories: On The Cusp, As Expected, and The Comeback. You know, the three categories. Like when political pollsters call and ask you to rate a candidate’s favorability on a scale of On The Cusp to The Comeback.

Shayla, Sam, Bridget, and Ivana are all shown doing various levels of terribly to reinforce that they’re on the cusp because of sucking and being not special like Nastia. After the tenor of night one, I’m kind of surprised Ivana got On The Cusp, instead of being placed in her own YOU SUCK AND WE HATE YOU, IVANA category.


Nastia’s wedgie…AS EXPECTED. “Yep, that’s the one. Use that shot.”

Russian DNA and Cereal Box continue being part of a balanced breakfast, but they’ll also be joined on the team by THE COMEBACK, meaning Alicia and Chellsie.

What exactly is Alicia supposed to be coming back from? Competing at the last three consecutive world championships? WOW, I can’t wait for Simone’s comeback this year, you guys! Alicia is coming back from…falling on beam once four years ago? SUCH A COMEBACK.

I love how the highlight of Chellsie’s vault is just her dad celebrating. Yeah, we definitely want to see a close-up of Andy’s armpits rather than Chellsie sticking a 1.5. That’s what we’re here for.


Now it’s once again time to check in with Bob Costas, rethinking all his life choices as he remains shackled to Bela like Prometheus to the rock. Since night one, Bob has aged 63 years, lost all his hair, begun blinking uncontrollably, grown a Dumbledore beard, and started ripping out his own fingernails, while Bela grows younger by the minute. Make of that what you will.

As we join the action (A ROTATION AND A HALF LATE), Russian DNA has already spoiled everything forever with mistakes on bars. Therefore, she is trash. Disqualified. Cereal Box would never have treated us like this. She would be smiling right now and bouncing into America’s hearts. Wheaties. Iowa. Heartland. Corn.

Bela decides to tell us more about these two amazing egg lids, and the value of internal competition. “I love it. I love pitting gymnasts directly against each other and motivating through jealousy, resentment, fear, insecurity, and shame.” HOORAY GYMNASTICS!

You see, they have to fight with each other and be rivals, or as Bela puts it, “The moldy force beehive is the rivalry. If you don’t feel nothing. If you seal. If you lay back and waiting for something, that’s nothing. That’s no bro-fest in bat phone.”



“Blah, blah, blah, men’s selection, Paul and Morgan Hamm will lead the team in Beijing.”

At long last, it’s time to get the trio into the mix. Al assures us that Cereal Box has a great face. Thanks. Also, the arena is DEAD SILENT because everyone feels the nervous nerves of nervous tension and moment and significance and drama, a comment which is accompanied by a massive cheer. Great start.

Does this mean the gymnastics part is actually starting?

Heavens no. What, you want to see a routine? Like a loser? Pssh. Before that, we need a Trautwig update about where things stand on night two. “Shawn Johnson’s lead was five tenths over Nastia Liukin and then we started things off Shawn Johnson, as the very first competitor on vault, Sam Peszek, just in front of Chellsie Memmel.” I’m going to try to parse this and oh wait the competition is over.

Cereal Box performs her usual vault. Background Bela mimes shaking down a panda for its lunch money, so…that was a good one?

We might have had a competition on our hands if Russian DNA hadn’t folded her back into an origami swan on her Healy and then vag-slammed her pak.


Save the butt shelf for beam, girl. That’s no bro-fest in bat phone.


“Wait, what do humans do when they want to make that face liquid thing? Like this? With the mouth? Is this right? It doesn’t feel right.”

Nastia dies twice during her bars routine, which means she gets 16.950 instead of 17.100.

The malevolent swamp witch that cursed Nastia’s bars didn’t stop there, hitting basically everyone else in the first rotation except Cereal Box. As everyone knows, Wheaties-next-door-All-America-smiles defeat swamp witches.

Chellsie promptly goes Deep Karmakar on vault, performing a yurchenko butt-and-a-half, which means she’s “absolutely getting hammered.” No, that’s you, Al.

While the three-headed Elfwiggett was committed to slashing Ivana through the throat for wobbling on a layout stepout on night one for some reason, it turns out they were just a day early. The Trials script writers accidentally switched the two episodes.

Ivana’s beam routine is such a wobbleburger that Elfi suffers a nervous collapse and starts uncontrollably listing nouns. “Judges. Podium. Audience.” Lasagna. Dolphin. Food processor.

Ivana then attempts to dismount beam with a double pike to back tuck for .2 CV.


“No matter what, you’ll always be a massive disappointment to me.”

Also, COOL BRACELET ARMINE. Quick question, why are you rubbing her ear with a parakeet? Fall punishment?

“Hey guys, Ivana looks like she might cry now. Could we get a closer shot of the individual tears?”


Nailed it.

Al assures us that Martha “SEES EVERYTHING.” You mean she does her job and watches the competition? Weird. She must be a sorceress.

“Now, there is a whole selection committee.” Oh Tim, you card.

Russian DNA goes to beam and wobbles on a switch ring, or as Elfi calls it, “the smallest EWWWWWWWW.”

“When something goes wrong, you have to erase the hard drive.”

…investment fraud?

On to the next fluff piece, which teaches us that everyone has the same dream, even the non-specials!

Shayla: “The feeling that it would be to know that the entire works of my family…”

And that was the take they used.

Bela reminds us that in spite of Nastia having the smallest ewwww and not being bro-fest in bat phone EVEN ONCE today, she’s still going to be on the team. Also, the “court turd-fort” positions are pretty solid. However, the sixth spot, woof, is out for sale, but it could be Sheila Worley or Della Chelsea Davis. Della Chelsea Davis is under fourth place, grey.


But shouldn’t it also be Jana Bieger, who is so STURDY AND SOLID AND STURDY? Oh, the compliments. I love when people describe gymnasts as “sturdy,” because it’s sooooo Gymnastics Lies. You’re not allowed to say anything negative ever because “LITTLE GIRLS FEELINGS FRAGILE,” so everyone resorts to so-called positive words like “sturdy” that we all know actually mean “soporifically uninspiring with the flexibility of a redwood.”


At least they can add Chellsie to the presumptive team, but Tim wants an “explanation” mark next to her name. You mean like an asterisk? Or a compass rose? Or a sic? Sorry Tim, that’s the way her name is spelled, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Apparently, Chellsie has won every type of medal, but those were in the United States. Mmmhmm. Yep. Remember 2005 worlds in Melbourne, Wisconsin?

“From 2003, when she was literally thrown on that world championship team.” No, Elfi. Not literally. That would be dangerous. Maybe that’s what happened to the rest of the team.



I know what that means! THE FLUFF IS HERE! THE FLUFF IS HERE! “Running in a circle at the ranch” is the “lights turning on in a dark gym” of team-based fluffs.

They’re really trying to make the coach-dad thing happen, but there are only two of them. Andy says, “Yep, I’m her dad.” Valeri says, “All I want is for my little girl to crush the skulls of her enemies. Like any father. ” Chow says, “Wait, you know I’m not Shawn’s dad, right?”

Good fluff.

Meanwhile, Ivana is still locked in Armine’s hand-prison of disappointment and shame. It has been ROTATIONS.

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Why is Armine’s coaching style “perpetual middle school dance”? She’s never not having her first boy-girl dance with all her gymnasts. Meanwhile, Ivana looks like me trying to dance with girls in 7th grade. “When do I get to leave? *weep*”

In other news, Tim just had an aneurysm during the word Karolyi. Karurilly.

Also, Guaranteed Olympian Jana Bieger has really helped herself out and is definitely Olympics. “Consistent. Hit. Rock.”

Kreskin, Al? Kreskin? Are you 126 years old? “Hey, I know what to say to be down with the youths! 70s references that no one gets! The NCIS audience is definitely our target demo!”

Next, we get to enjoy Rock Bieger’s floor routine.


“Middle-aged divorcee opening her robe for the delivery boy” theme?

Rock opens with a tucked full-in, pike out, and everyone goes, “…a thing?”

Then she falls out of a turn, and Pissy Elfi finally decides to show up. (We’ve been waiting for you for days!) “It’s not only about the tumbling, PEOPLE.” Yeah, PEOPLE.

It’s not good, but Rock’s performance doesn’t fit the Rock Narrative, so Al can only say, “Her smile looks much more reinforced now.” Irrelevant nonsense.

Oh YEAH. Remember that “the team needs a female coach so Andrea Bieger must be there!” garbage that Tim started even though it wasn’t even close to being a thing? Like you would pick a team member because her coach was a woman. STOP THE MADNESS.

“Hey guys, when we come back from commercial, let’s have a closeup of Alicia’s side-butt. GOOD TELEVISION.”

Oh, Ivana. We’ll always have that double front. And that twisting form.


“The dog ate my spine.”

“That’s ridiculous.” Oh, Al. We’ve had some good times too.

Ivana only gets one Armine middle-school-dance-arm this time, because it was a good one. You’re free, Ivana! You’re free!

Al tries to compare a 15.500 to a 9.200 and Tim is like, “OH GOD NO. What? Why are you like this?”

Next up, Cereal Box moves to beam and Russian DNA moves to floor so that she can Russian DNA it.


Oh, Nastia. Going to scale isn’t going to make that less out of bounds.

And now, introducing my new emergency contact, Valeri’s “girl, what…?” eyes.


Awww, that’s how I watch gymnastics too! TWINSIES!

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Al follows this up by trying to do a Valeri impression, which basically consists of him saying Nastia over and over again like Beetlejuice, but with an “impatient 98-year-old Long Island smoker” accent.

What exactly is Nastia saying here at 2:22?

“I’m last and I’m first?” “I’m blessed in the thirst?” I blast and it hurts?”


“What’s this weird squiggly thing next to my name? A two? What’s a two?”

Nastia goes 15.450. Did she even get deducted for artistrying out of bounds? No? Because it was so artistry?

“The ever-perky Shawn Johnson.”


SO PERKY. The perk just exudes from her intense perkiness.


Uh oh, who had an accident over here in the corner? Does someone need Chalk Depends?

Can we discuss the part in Shawn’s floor routine where there’s just a WWII ambulance for a while? And…why? Is it because there’s been a chalk accident?

All we know is that the sixth member can’t be Bridget Sloan because she fell on floor. IT WILL BE SHAYLA WORLEY.


OR JANA BIEGER. Her Y1.5 with a huge lunge is an asset!

Russian DNA to vault. “All she needs to do is she could fall down.” I think we need to make Simone shirts that say “All she needs to do is she could fall down.”

Nastia lands slightly lock-legged, and we don’t even need Tim to speak at this point anymore because there’s just an implied “Ahhh-owww-oooof. And, well, and, Al, Al, and that-that-that was, frankly, it was…a little scary, is what it was.”

Al is super pissed at Corrie Lothrop for not being better. “This would have been an amazing story…UGH.” Because she was born in China, and as we know, when people are born in China “YOU CAN’T MAKE IT UP IT’S A FAIRY TALE.”

Lothrop is followed in the “fill-fill-fill until we get interviews” spot by Randy Stageberg, who is…also a person. “A lot like…um…the woman we just saw.” Al has already forgotten Corrie Lothrop’s name. BE GONE, NON-SPECIALS.

To the interviews! Andrea bubbles up from a crack in the earth to say “Shawn likes to call herself just an ordinary girl from Iowa.”

Shawn’s mouth-shape says, “endorsements,” but her eyes say, “WTF, Andrea?”

But, like an obedient little cereal box, Shawn goes, “cloud nine, honored, couldn’t have done it without my family, dream come true, unbelievable, there are no words.”

Although I do have to say that she only got two “honored”s in there during the whole interview. Failure. Must try harder.

Nastia, however, is the true winner of the competition for the way she is having exactly none of Andrea at this point.

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Andrea: Nastia, this is the greatest moment of your life. Tell me where it ranks among the great moments of your life. Is it the greatest?

Nastia: NO. I sucked, and it was terrible. Go jump in a swamp and die.

Andrea: Incorrect. Making-Olympic-team-sound-bite PLEASE.

Nastia: Ugh. No. Fine, whatever, it was super incredible, dream, dream, honor, blah blah. Happy?


In other news, we’ll be seeing a lot of Mattie Larson in the future. Well…until she falls in 2010 and is quietly destroyed.

But of course, the final routine belongs to Chellsie Memmel because she sure knows how to cap off an event. That’s right. She was standing there thinking, “I wasn’t planning to stick this double pike, but since I’m last, I guess I could…”

Everyone starts getting all standing ovation-y, and even Martha is peer pressured into it by Kathy Kelly. But she’s definitely up last in a “this isn’t really what we do here, you guys” kind of way.

I feel like there hasn’t been enough controversy at the end of these trials, so we should drum something up. ARE THEY GOING TO NAME ALICIA AND CHELLSIE TO THE TEAM TOO EVEN THOUGH THAT’S NOT WHAT THEY DO BECAUSE THEY’RE ONLY NAMING TWO PEOPLE??????


Controversy over.

Steve Penny makes the announcement that, drumroll please, wait for it, shock, suspense, Cereal Box and Russian DNA are on the Olympic Team. “Also everyone else is a shining star, or whatever, except for most of you…”

Now let’s meet the men’s team.


Kristen Maloney? GOOD ALTERNATE.

But really, we must dispense with this nonsense. We know the real highlight of the second day of competition is the official Kathy Kelly Dank Hallway Scalp Clutch.

You’re going. HEAD GRAB. You’re going. HEAD GRAB. You’re going. HEAD GRAB. Is this really how you’re announcing this? Like one of those claw games at bowling alleys? Why are you treating them like a kindergarten class on a field trip to the natural history museum? Are you going to tie the Olympic team together with a rope so they don’t get lost on the way to China?

“COUNT OFF, AND GIVE YOUR TEAMMATES A HUG THAT ARE NOT GOING.” Ah yes, nothing like a meaningful, mandatory hug. The feelings. Also, nothing like being told to act like a basic human being even though you’re, spoiler alert, not a baby. As if they wouldn’t have expressed human feelings to the eliminated gymnasts unless Kathy Kelly specifically instructed them to do so. Once again, I was unaware these gymnasts were five years old.

Peszek totally screwed up the Kindergarten Count-Off. Alicia and I think it’s hilarious. Don’t make gymnasts count.

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“Elfi, how about you? That’s the toughest question right now.” It sure is.

So, Elfi, who do you think is taking the last spot on the team?

“It’s Jana Bieger. Or maybe Hong. Worley could do it. It will absolutely not be Bridget Sloan.”

Best part of Trials: Bela trying to hug Martha, and Martha being like, “these scores are interesting.”

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Much like that older sister in Home Alone, Kathy has learned that grabbing random people by the scalp while yelling numbers isn’t an effective way of making sure everyone is accounted for.

The cool girls are busy trying to hug each other (and no one else can sit with us) but Kathy runs up and shouts, “KEVIN!”

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And Chellsie Memmel was never seen again.

“There you see Marty Larson, she just got a tap.” And…we’re off the rails now. on MSN? MSN? Once again, what year is this? And why?

From here, everyone who got a scalp clutch and Chellsie Memmel, if she can ever be found, will move on to the selection camp to break their legs and backs.

I didn’t see the scores from the 2008 selection camp readily accessible anywhere on the internet (meaning I did a Google search, they weren’t on the first page of results, so I got bored and went, “MUHHHHHH”). But luckily, I still had a crumbled-up piece of notebook paper in a manila folder with those scores on it (because…hi) that I didn’t know about. So, just in case. Since, you know, we might still need to break down and argue about 8-year-old camp scores. BUT ONLY A LOSER WOULD DO THAT.

2008 Olympic Selection Camp, Day 1

Shawn Johnson 15.950 15.650 16.200 15.800 63.600
Nastia Liukin 14.700 16.600 16.200 15.150 62.650
Chellsie Memmel 15.900 DNF
Alicia Sacramone 15.950 16.200 15.300
Bridget Sloan 15.300 15.200 15.600 15.300 61.400
Sam Peszek 15.200 14.800 15.400 15.300 60.700
Ivana Hong 15.000 15.300 15.300 15.000 60.600
Corrie Lothrop 15.100 14.700 15.300 15.100 60.200
Jana Bieger 14.800 14.800 15.400 15.100 60.100
Chelsea Davis 14.950 15.200 14.600 15.150 59.900
Mattie Larson 14.600 14.700 15.000 15.400 59.700

2008 Olympic Selection Camp, Day 2

Shawn Johnson 15.750 16.300
Nastia Liukin 16.650 15.400
Chellsie Memmel 14.650 15.900
Alicia Sacramone 16.200 15.400
Bridget Sloan 15.100 14.900
Sam Peszek 15.400 15.700
Ivana Hong 14.950 14.850
Corrie Lothrop 15.200 14.850
Jana Bieger 15.000 15.000
Chelsea Davis 15.100 15.200
Mattie Larson

These camp scores lend credence to the argument that all this bars talk was a red herring and that deciding the remaining spot (or two) was never about bars at all. The scores Cereal Box got on bars that summer, whether realistic or not, were better than what Rock Bieger or Little Orphan Shayla were going to get even for hits. The Shawn scores made the decision, then the remaining team spots simply came down to the best AAers who had usable DTYs and could fill in reliably on any event/do AA in qualification as needed. Sloan and Peszek.

2 thoughts on “2008 Olympic Trials Part 2: The Landmark Case of Bieger v. Sloan”

  1. I totally second that!!! Keep making these as you are my new BFF! Seriously, I went to NCAA’s in FW this year thinking “I want to hang with Spencer!”

    Also, Kathy Kelly counting the gymnasts like that has got to be one of the dumbest things ever! I remember thinking…”Really? That’s how official it was?” What if you thought she tapped you on the head, but she really didn’t?!?


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