Things Are Happening – September 30, 2016

A. The Valeri Era

The Valera?

I was really hoping the ranch would suddenly be plastered with wall-to-wall posters of Nastia. Or that Valeri had gone all “I’m not like a regular Martha, I’m a cool Martha” and they were sitting in a drum circle now.

Also, I think Valeri is shorter than Morgan Hurd.

Anyway, the first national team camp of the new dynasty is underway, with most of the usual-suspect juniors and non-specials invited to the ranch to gossip about what they think is happening on the tour. Or maybe for gymnastics. Kind of. It’s only September, and it’s Valeri’s first day. This camp is just about calling roll, handing out the syllabus, and going over the semester’s major assignments and general expectations.

You know Martha’s there in the back hiding in a scarf like

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United States v. Russia v. China

Following up on my exploration of which skills are the most popular in US elite routines, I decided it would be interesting (to me exclusively) to compare US composition to routine composition in Russia and China to illustrate the very different approaches taken by the three countries and where they can learn from each other.

And by each other, I mean the US. Because, let’s be real, the US won by 8 points.

The US numbers are based on routines from the three major domestic competitions this summer, Russia’s are based on Russian Cup (and occasionally Russian Champs if the gymnast didn’t compete at Russian Cup), and China’s are based on the Chinese Championships. I did not include all of the seniors from Russia and China at those meets because…well, they’re not on Youtube. But also because many gymnasts attend those meets to compete for their region/province but aren’t international elites and don’t have a comparable skill level.**

So, here we go. The “winner” for each skill is highlighted.



  • Russia and China have been much more diligent about getting rid of those trash-shoots that do nothing to boost the D score than the US has, though the toe shoot does remain popular among the bad Chinese bars workers—the non-L-grippy ones who aren’t allowed to be seen in public and have long since been given up for dead because they’re not Fan Yilin. (Yeah, I’m talking about you, Liu Jinru.)
  • The toe-on Shaposh 1/2 is Russia’s compulsory bars skill, while China is more comfortable with Stalder Shaposhes than either the US or Russia. It is interesting to note how few Chinese gymnasts do any variety of Shaposh 1/2 considering how valuable it is and how high their D scores are nonetheless. The toe-on Shaposh 1/2 is absolutely essential to Russia’s high bars Ds.


  • And we thought the lack of transition variety in the US was bad. While the Pak is “compulsory” in the US, it is LITERALLY COMPULSORY in Russia and China. (Which also explains the lack of shoots since the Russians and Chinese never even face that direction on the low bar.) The US is the only nation crass enough to still use outdated and obsolete bail handstands.


  • It’s worth noting not only how few same-bar releases are being done, especially by Russia and China, but also how different each country’s choices are. Every US gymnast does a straddled Jaeger, every Russian does a piked Jaeger (which will suit them very well in the next code), and every Chinese gymnast does a Gienger.

Continue reading United States v. Russia v. China

How To Gymnastics Exhibition, Starring Russia

Step 1:

And we’re off…

…our meds, apparently.

Just to clarify, that’s a big-horned lion (animal?) joining the cast of Stomp to provide a trash-can tribute to the marriage of Leonardo da Vinci and smoke inhalation.

Like you do.


A lion, a fish, and an eagle walk into a sexual nightmare…

But it’s not just about half-naked, strobe-light, fauna-percussion seizures dedicated to the legacy of Alexei Nemov (is it my birthday already?), there’s also this happening.


Continue reading How To Gymnastics Exhibition, Starring Russia

Things Are Happening — September 23, 2016

A. So, this is a thing

Very important. Must watch. Immediately.

It’s literally just a trailer for the Alexei Nemov Russian Acid Trip Safari of Stars, but I’m still going to have to do a full recap of it. I don’t even know if this stuff happened this year, or in a previous year, or in Nikita Khrushchev’s drunken deathbed fever dream, and I care 0%.

If you’re wondering why I was so disappointed by the Sochi opening ceremony in 2014, it’s because I wanted it to be this exactly.

That video thumbnail of a man-eagle handing the Olympic torch to Alexei Nemov in a dragon leotard is only like the 13th-most insane that happens. In the trailer. Camels.


B. Vanessa Ferrari re-un-de-retires kind of

Lesson #324 never to listen to any whispers of retirement you hear in the six months surrounding the Olympics. We were definitely told during the Olympics that Vanessa Ferrari was planning to retire, but she said on instagram recently that her carriera agonistica isn’t over yet. Potentially. We’ll see. Apparently, she wants another shot at finishing fourth in an Olympic floor final. Continue reading Things Are Happening — September 23, 2016