Things Are Happening – June 9, 2017

A. Ladanyi and Landi

The simple joy I get from people with similar last names being in coaching news during the same week, I can barely describe.

Item 1, Utah announced that it has lured Robert Ladanyi away from Denver to fill the assistant coach role vacated by Meredith Paulicivic when she went to Ohio State. This will be Ladanyi’s third team in four years—we know him most of all from his time in Rhonda’s Romanian Retinue at Florida, though his departure did finally help us all learn which one was Robert and which one was Adrian (kind of). A public service.  Robert is one of the star assistant coaches in NCAA gym, so his going to Utah is kind of a big deal.

Item 2, social media also informed us this week that Cecile and Laurent Landi are leaving the protective nest of WOGA to strike out into the wild blue yonder and make it on their own. Aside from Irina Alexeeva, who still seems to be in citizenship limbo, WOGA doesn’t have a crop of top, top elites pushing for major assignments right this second, so there’s perhaps not an urgent rush to see which member of Valeri’s stable of approved coaches becomes the new Captain WOGA.

Plus, I imagine there will be a group eager to follow Laurent wherever he goes. I mean a group of gymnasts. Not just you. That was already implied.

B. German Nationals

Elisabeth Seitz was the big winner at German Nationals last weekend, taking the AA, bars, and (surprisingly) beam titles. Seitz had the smallest D of anyone in the beam final but was by far the most precise. Meanwhile, Pauline Schaefer took floor, and Pauline Tratz won vault.

At first, it appeared that Pauline Tratz was sticking with the Yfull again, but she made me eat my thoughts by subtly tossing out a new “oh didn’t I mention” handspring pike 1/2 as her second vault, one that’s pretty damn good overall. It has an NCAA deduction or two in there (this particular one would likely score 9.850), but good height and distance and also get into the UCLA lineup yesterday.

Even though the beam scores were quite low—and we don’t typically associate Germany with beam except for Schaefer—I was quite impressed by Follinger, Timm, and Voss in that final. Follinger finished fourth AA and is one to keep an eye on for team selection as the quad progresses.

Seitz’s victory helps her argument for doing the AA with Alt at worlds this year (I’m making a leap to assume the team but come on), while Bui would do bars, Schaefer would do beam, and then Bui and Schaefer would fight it out to see who does floor.

C. Flanders International

Like I was going to resist that opportunity. YOU DON’T KNOW ME AT ALL.

This weekend’s primary meet will assemble some of the continent’s finest in Ghent for a two-day meet with qualification on Saturday followed by finals on Sunday. On Saturday, juniors begin at 10am CET/4am ET/1am PT and seniors begin at 4:30pm CET/10:30am ET/7:30am PT. On Sunday, finals begin at 3pm CET/9am ET/6am PT. There will be live scores.

On the senior side, Belgium is sending pretty much a full team (because home) of Derwael, Deriks, Hermans, Meyers, and Brassart. They’re just missing Klinckaert, really, who has only competed bars so far in her injury comeback.

Italy is also sending a pretty high-level squad featuring Elisa Meneghini and Giada Grisetti, while France is sending its borderline team members like Juliette Bossu, Alison Lepin, and the Charpys. I’ll be keeping an eye on that because a good result for any of them here could help upset a presumed French worlds team of MDJDS, Boyer, Devillard, and Vanhille. Ana Perez and many of the top Spanish contenders will also be in attendance. Spain has a fairly legit crop of elites at the moment (15th in the rankings).

[Speaking of those rankings, Hitomi Hatakeda’s scores from Trnava last weekend would put Japan ahead of China and into third for the moment.]

On the junior side, both France and Italy are sending many of their most promising prospects (including Lapp and Serber for France and Iorio and Asia D’Amato for Italy), so we’ll see how many of the seniors they can outscore.

D. National Team Camp

Margzetta Frazier instagrammmied a picture of herself with one of those cereal box gold medals they get for winning things at the ranch that turn into pumpkins once they get home.

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A post shared by Margzetta Frazier (@margzetta) on

So we can assume she did a first place at camp. It’s actually not too, too surprising considering that the intended D scores she showed in her May routines are quite competitive with the top gymnasts at this camp, though keep in mind this was not a competition-surfaces-full-verification-style camp like they have before major competitions or for selecting teams for international meets.


This week’s GymCastic episode is the hotly anticipated Vanessa Atler (or Vatler as no one calls her but me) interview, in which she is a gem and candidly and hilariously answers all of Jessica and Uncle Tim’s questions. (In interviews, even if Uncle Tim isn’t talking, he’s the one writing down smart questions to ask.) Vanessa spills all the stories about what happened with the Rybackis, Valeri, Bela, 1999 championships, 2000 Trials, that Comaneci salto, and a ton more.

Vanessa is such a delight to listen to and super funny about her experiences, even though she would have more than enough excuse to be darkly broken about gymnastics at this point. Anyone who has struggled with anxiety will be nodding along and identifying with the first 45 minutes of this interview every step of the way because her story and worldview will be very familiar. She’s one of us.

Thankfully, Vanessa is extremely open about sharing the many not-so-nice tales from her time in gymnastics regarding being weighed and called fat and experiencing all the wildly unprofessional medical and interpersonal practices firsthand. After listening to Vanessa, it’s not difficult to imagine how awful things can have taken place within USAG all those years because there were no regulations, no standards, no oversight, no rules, no common decency. The stories about the weigh-ins, the cortisone shots, and Muriel Grossfeld are blood-curdling. I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Everything that happened to Vanessa should be a good lesson in terms of “do none of this ever,” and any ignorant dinosaur coaches who still weigh their gymnasts should especially give this a listen to hear exactly what that can do to a person for the rest of her life.

F. Beam routine of the week

It’s Vanessa Atler week, obviously, so let’s take a look back at her bonkers-strong beam routine.

Fantastic acro, of course, with a two-foot layout that might, might even get credit in today’s code. But also, that headspin 1/2 to swing down. We’re not going to ignore that part.

8 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – June 9, 2017”

  1. ❤ Vanessa. I wonder if Valeri still weighs his gymnasts 3x a day, has them run in trash bags and discourages them from drinking water.

  2. To quote Al Trautwig, “How do I get from one direction to another, Oh I’ll just stand on my head!”

    I’m sorry I can’t even stop laughing.

  3. I completely agree that weigh-ins to tell the girls that they need to lose weight is all kinds of wrong.

    There is a flip side, though. I knew a gymnast who was borderline anorexic and her coaches eventually set a *minimum* weight that she had to maintain in order to work out. Eating disorders and trying to be too skinny is common enough in gymnastics, that I think where it is a problem, weighing can be part of a solution. Of course, there are bigger measures that need to be taken to look out for the athlete’s physical and psychological well being.

  4. Vanessa is fabulous. I have only listened to the beginning of the interview, and I find her openness to be refreshing. She also has this way of telling it like it is without sounding like she’s trash talking, even though some of what she said, in a matter-of-fact way, made people (the Rybekis) sound pretty horrible. But you can tell from her tone that she is simply sharing her truth, without malice towards them.

  5. I’ve always loved Vanessa. She was also treated pretty badly by the media. This was a great interview and I wish the best for her.

    I also kind of feel bad for Nastia now… imagine having Valeri as your father and being that weight obsessed. My father was also my coach and he was a lot tougher on me than on other kids.

    1. I mean, Nastia was already so skinny! She couldn’t have gotten any thinner without breaking in two.

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