The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Covid Coping: 2012 All-Around Final

Finding the will to continue living can be challenging in a time like this, so I decided to watch the 2012 Olympic All-Around final—I think for the first time since it happened. More specifically, the NBC broadcast where they showed about six routines and were like, “This is gymnastics. Eat it.”

It’s a real doozy.

We are welcomed to the broadcast by the Crown Priestess of All-Around, Nastia Liukin, sounding like an 8-year-old bird for some reason. I’m reminded of the fact that she’s about to kill Elfi and bury her body in the woods 13 seconds after this Olympics ends, and that’s adding a rich drizzle of nuance to this voiceover.

Sure, Mary Lou and Carly may have won before Nastia, but send those footnotes out to pasture because 2008 was better and more important and Nastia.

Alas, now it is the year 2012. Nastia has reigned long enough and is ready to hand her crown over to someone else.

…starting now.

“Tonight, it’s all about Gabby and Aly,” and definitely not Olga and Rhoda or whatever those other goddamn names are.

BUT WAIT. What if you—an honest and true and pure American who works hard and deserves a gold medal because of Good Guys Team—might have it callously snatched away from you? And by a RUSSIAN no less? A Russian who definitely hasn’t worked hard and doesn’t deserve a gold medal, because of Russia and Yucky Poo Poo Team.

That would be gross and bad.

What’s that you say? Why yes, it IS super weird that Nastia had to deliver the quadrennial We Can’t Let Evil Russians Beat The Good Guys Team address.

“Your whole life comes down to this.”


You guys. Did you know that in 2011 TEH BLOGS thought Komova should have won worlds. Many bloggers. So many bloggers. Mean European ones. With blogs.

But we also can’t forget about Aleieiaia Mustafina.

Alaayayaya was the 2010 all-around champion, but now she is a washed-up piece of driftwood who doesn’t even do an Amanar anymore, so forget about that old bag.

But you know who’s not in this final? A “big face” named Jordyn Wieber.

She has to watch from the stands and talk into this toaster.

Al is so pissed that Jordyn looks kind of happy during this shot because she’s supposed to be DEVASTATED TEARS CLOSE-UP about not advancing to the all-around final.


If you’re not sure which American you’re supposed to prefer, Al’s here to help. He explains that Aly is the best one because she grabbed hold of the team and “reined in Gabby Douglas.” (???)

Yeah, otherwise Blitzen over there would have fallen 16 times and not known any gymnastics skills.

Also, I’ve never felt closer to anyone than I do to this lady.

This GIF is a book called Social Interaction in Britain: A History

Now it’s time for Gabby to begin competition, which Al introduces by going, “yeah yeah her family blah blah blah but more importantly THE WHITE PEOPLE WHO HELPED.”

Gabby hits an Amanar and it—gasp—WASN’T PERFECT.

So she should probably quit.

I’m sure no one else is competing right now. These cheers your hear in the background of Gabby and Aly’s regal standing performances are all coincidences.



“It looks like she gave up on it.” Yeah, what a loser. She sure does suck. Good thing she’s RUSSIA BAD GUY.

Can we please spend several hours speaking about the large wheelbarrow of bullshit that is the vault scoring at these Olympics?

Never forget that judge E5 gave Komova a higher score than Douglas, and Douglas the lowest of the three.

Just sit with it for a while.

Just drum your fingers on the table and live in this world.

In unrelated news, a GIF is worth a thousand words.

I really want to write an art history essay about everything that’s happening in this triptych.

Business Nastia is like NO STEVE PENNY FOR ME THANKS.

Now, it’s Deng Linlin’s turn. “Her best gymnastics, we’ll see on uneven bars.”

Good lord, Al’s obsession with crying. “We’ve had a lot of crying in women’s gymnastics, and she’s been part of that.”

Well then just burn her and be done with it I guess.

Aliya almost stuck a DTY but it’s a DTY so ugh, go put on a shame bonnet and sit in a dark bathtub until morning.

No one else is in this meet BYEEEEEEEEE.

Aly is on to bars, and Elfi informs us that Aly can’t change her skills, but what she can change in this very moment is all of her technique and training and execution. You know, just that. Right now. DECIDE TO MAKE IT BETTER. Duh.

Also, this is the second time they’ve referred to a “dismount” on vault.

Komova’s massive amount of hip angle in this bars routine doesn’t fit the narrative, so we’re just going to ignore it. Root dee doo.

The thing about this bars rotation is that Mustafina spent the entire thing punching everyone in the face and should have outscored them all by 16 points.

7.0 D/9.100 E. And what an era it was.

My favorite thing about Aliya’s routine is Tim dying of amazement at the notion of connecting a Pak directly into a Shaposh variation. HOW COULD ONE.

Actually, that’s my second-favorite thing about her routine. My favorite thing is “she’s very talented but has a challenging character.”

Can you imagine appreciating a gymnast who doesn’t have a “challenging character”? Like, what would that even be?

Sounds awful.

Meanwhile, Gabby’s side-saddle catch on her piked tkatchev is still giving me night terrors.

After two events, the all-around final remains exactly four people big.

It’s a bit rich to hear Mary Lou talking about how the entire world sends its best gymnasts to the Olympic all-around final. Olga Mostepanova would like a word or three about 1984.

On to beam, and I’m crediting exactly none of these combinations. 2012, what were you even doing?

Viktoria Komova’s Patterson is one of those things that I know happened, but it’s so very “does not compute” that it’s constantly a surprising revelation to me. In my head, her beam dismount is back surgery.

Tim has a whole open-mic set prepared about Viktoria Komova’s feet being a good vice grip for when you’re doing chores around the house, and it’s like, “Tim that’s not how vacuuming goes.”

Now it’s time for Aliya to fall on beam, which was a given. I mean I’m just impressed she was somehow able to white-knuckle her way through a an actual acro series like she was driving past a bar on her way home from rehab.

Aliya, what fresh nightmare is this?

Now the trio provides us with a lengthy detour conversation about how Aliya always gives up. FUN! Fortunately, her postnatal uterus traveled back in time and shot her 2018 world silver medal at them, so that ended that.

You know what else Aliya is, besides an awful quitter I mean? CHALLENGING.

Very challenging. She sometimes might even have a thought.

Ew. Get that heifer back to the Silence Hut.

To illustrate CHALLENING, we receive an entire closeup CSI analysis about how Aliya felt kind of “ugh” after falling on beam at the Olympics (UH OH THIS LIVESTOCK AIN’T SO DOCILE).

Very significant and important. Much to read into. I don’t do that exact thing 1500 times a day at all.

And then somehow, during the commercial break, that moment transformed into…

“Literally shoved her coach Alexandrov out of the way.”


Tell me when.

Because, once again, this is what happened.


Meanwhile, Gabby Douglas is whistling on through by making no mistakes, Aly grabbed the beam on her front pike, which Elfi hasn’t seen in MONTHS, and some local fetuses are watching things unfold, planning the 2018 NCAA title.

After three events, Al is pissed there’s some China name in between the four gymnasts in this final, so he ignored it.

Honestly, probably for the best.

We’re into the final rotation, and Bob Costas assures us that gymnasts are only babies and this will be the lone Olympics for Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas.


Sweet dear one, what was this supposed to be?

Also, there’s a crap-ton of classical ballet training in Aliya’s floor routine, you guys. So much. Many ballet. I FEEL LIKE I’M AT THE BOLSHOI.

She successfully opened six beer bottles with her knees during the triple full, and you could never.

Did you know that Gabby Douglas went to the BIG CITY FULL OF BIG DREAMS to exhibition-win the American Cup at Madison Square Garden, which is in…get this…New York City????


So, Gabby does her floor routine, and I finally after all this time realized what it reminds me of.

All of it, in one routine.

Yada, yada, yada, Gabby hit and Tim is already giving her the gold medal, which is…you know, wait a second.

Aly follows Gabby by hitting floor, and doesn’t connect out of the double Arabian, and we probably won’t still talk about that 8 years later.

Hard same.



So let us return to fanciful world of Olympic tiebreakers.

The all-around tiebreak procedure of getting to drop your worst routine score is and always will be super stupid, but it came out with the correct medalist. A more reasonable tiebreak procedure, like higher total E-score, would have arrived at the same result.

It’s so weird to watch floor routines in an era pre-Simone. Everything is an E pass in combination and it’s like, “WHERE ARE THE DOUBLE DOUBLES YOU GOOBERS.”

Also, remember when you had to wait to find out the winner of an all-around meet until after the competition started and people had done their routines? So weird.

Komova finishes the all-around final with basically her best-ever floor routine that should have outscored Douglas by more than it did, but not enough to change my mind about this being the correct medal hierarchy.

And then everyone cries or something.


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