The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

2008 Team Final Watch-Along

Have I not watched this team final since the night of the competition? Possibly.

Which we were required to watch on tape delay on the west coast, by the way.

Actually, I’m not sure if we HAD to or if I CHOSE to, but I do know I was not watching live and got spoiled as to the result by the gymternet.

These things stay with you.

Anyway, now I’m already cranky. NBCSN, 7:00pm ET.

Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson ARE HOUSEHOLD NAMES.

The US entered “in what was expected to be an extremely tight showing.” Now. We’ve decided.

LOL did they cut out Bela? Excellent.

“China has made a switch. This will be Bridget Sloan.” Already nonsense.

“This is the Martha Karolyi era.” FUNNNN.

Tim just told us China has replaces Jenfg Bluyeyn with Dang Glinfjdn. Cool?

The US strategy at this point was hoping Jiang Yuyuan fell on her Amanar, and then when they pulled her, it was like…

Yang Yilin opens for China with a solid, mostly pretty DTY but not a lot of amplitude. Tim and Elfi V thirsty for deductions.


Cheng Fei “has been taken away from her family.” FUN

Not Cheng’s very best Amanar, landing it a little squatted down, but it’s 2008 and it’s better than the other stuff we’re going to see.

Al is not happy that China and the US are mingling on the floor. HATE EACH OTHER MORE.

Cheng Fei gets a 16.000 and a 9.5 E score and Tim thinks it should have been higher.

DLL basically sticks her DTY and NOW WE ALL THINK IT’S A GREAT IDEA who was questioning it before probably no one.

“You simply must judge for herself whether you think Deng Linlin is 16 years of age.” SOMETHING YOU CAN DEFINITELY TELL BY LOOKING AT HER FACE. You know, how humans are notoriously great at that…

Tim thinks the US will beat China because of TEH EXPERIENCE.

I really don’t like that the numbers on the bibs have 1s that look like capital Is.

Did you know someone who isn’t the US/China exists? Ksenia Semenova, the great victim of transliteration. Was Semyonova so hard?

That orphan stalder 1/2 work in Semyonova’s routine kills me, but her dismount is my crack.

Sac is like “Shawn stop kicking me in those handstands”

“THIS WILL COUNT” says Al. No, we thought this was an intrasquad…

Bridget “they’re picking her for the final spot on the team for bars” Sloan does, vault, her only event in the team final.

Martha is on the floor because LADY. None of the athletes traveled with female coaches.

Shawnmanar follows by hitting with the pee-pee step. Everyone is surprised that she vaults the exact same way every time, but we can’t say it’s because she’s under-rotated because MERICA.

Alicia is the MOM of this team. At least they didn’t call her the great-grandmother of the team or whatever?

The pretty typical rudi for Alicia, good control with a small hop, some chest down, not the most distance but great height. Al asks if her hop was a hop.

Dude, I know there’s a lot of jargon, but some of this is just obvious English words.

I was going to say, I really need some Romania bars in my life right now.

Steliana Knee-Store.

What has happened to Romanian gymnastics. “We have to treat the athletes different.” And this is still being constructed as a bad thing…

You guys, it’s SO HARD to coach gymnasts when you can’t just ruin their livessssss all day. How you make champion?

Romania hasn’t kept up with the trends in gymnastics like “the handstand skills.” Also, the being good at bars…?

“Nasta” is here.

Shawn just happened to be “a great bouncer.” And walked into the gym of a CHINESE.

Flashback to Chellsie falling on a Tkatchev in qualification. WHICH WE WILL OVERCOME. It’s almost like she wasn’t…healthy…in Beijing. Or something.

“This will be the last thing that she does in gymnastics” LOLOLOLOL.


“Shawn is Shawn Johnson.”

Who has to go on bars in TF because…what else we gonna do? Everything at 2008 trials was about finding that third bars routine, but no one really bothered to acknowledge that it didn’t exist.

Dear Jana Bieger, we would rather take an entire team of injured athletes than you the end.

“This is a routine that Valeri has composed after losing the world championship title.” Remember that time Valeri Liukin competed on uneven bars and didn’t win the title?

But WHERE could the E score deductions for Shawn have come from?!?!?!

This routine from Nastia is so beautiful and amazingggggg and artistic and perfect (which is why we ignore the Tkatchev and the dismount and pretend they didn’t exist)

Martha gives it two head slaps and a neck pinch

Tim does acknowledge that Nastia’s dismount is a piece of shit, but you kind of had to with that slow-motion.

Elfi would like you to know that you can’t question Nastia’s start value. Tim is maddddd at this ugly low 9.2 E score can you imagine somthing so harsh.

Ugh, they kept the Bela parts. Why. Guys, you had a chance to

Bela sees a good outcome for the United States.

“Chepdis falling and then Nastia doing that ridiculous.” GREAT ANALYSIS BELA.

It’s definitely not an act from Bela you guys. No act. He’s definitely the way he is on the floor in the gym. Yep yep yep.

Also “Bela’s wife.”

Here’s what happened a few moments ago…Bela introduces like there was a mistake, but Jiang hit a normal routine.

Jang Yuwanwan so gooooodddd

Yang Yilin’s hair clips would have had SO many twitter accounts.

“How would you describe the difference from being a Chinese gymnast to being an American gymnast.” This sounds like a productive line of questioning.

“They are put into a machine.” Ow?

Well that routine was glorious.

Tim contends that this shouldn’t match Nastia’s score for no reason?


“What a difference four inches can make.”

Checking in on Cheng Fei falling on her back full series.

15.150 with a fall. 2008, kids.


Casual best layout ever.

Back to He Kexin’s bars and it’s scary good you guys.

Her layout jaeger is the dream. The Jaeger 1/2 to jaeger gets the most attention, but the nature of connecting out that inbar jaeger makes it low. The layout jaeger is actual perfection.


You guys this format is crazy the US and China are next to each other…

Who’s a Russia? Why’s a Romania?

I don’t think Li Shanshan’s dance elements were every strong enough to put her in the category of the LET’S CONTINUE SHARING THIS BEAM ROUTINE ON TWITTER beamers, but her acro is a delight.

How much time did we spend pretending that a C-value L turn was the easiest skill in these routines…?

Now it’s time for Alicia on beam IT WILL GO FINE.

She’s having to direct the placement of the springboard. THAT’S WHY YOU GUYS.

Tim is nerding out about the judging range and I feel seen.

Elfi soothsaying the mistake.

“Absolute 8 tenths.” ABSOLUTE.

“Not happy” says Elfi. I WONDER WHY.

Don’t worry we wont still be doing replays of this skill. Forever.

All I can think about is the story Alicia told at the NCAAs live show about being in the elevator with Sam and Martha right now…

Meanwhile, I prefer Nastia on beam over bars and I will die on that hill.


“She feels this should be named after her.”

Nellie Kim is like “ha ha cute.”

Remember when we had to pretend it was unfair that Shawn was getting chest position deductions for her tuck full? Sometimes, the passage of time is nice…

If you weren’t part of the gymternet at the time, gymnastics was OVER because someone with leaps as bad as Shawn’s could win an Olympic beam title.

Are we treating this FTDT dismount as though it’s unprecedented?

Martha keeps yelling “DOING GOOD” which means “YOU’RE NOT DOING GOOD.”

“I don’t know where they’re finding deductions.” Give me STRENGTH.

China leads by ONLY A POINT you guys.

Alicia is going to show us how injured she is. I mean, how short a memory she has. Yes. That it.

Do we know why they ditched her double L turn for a triple turn for the Olympics?

Alicia falls on a double arabian and Elfi…stabs herself in the intercostal muscles about it?

It’s just so obviously watching this now that this is an athlete whose legs are NOT OK.

Martha definitely giving Alicia what she needs right then.

“She gets hammered.” No, that’s afterward.

Nastia goes out of bounds. IT’S PROBABLY ALICIA’S FAULT.

I know it was basically impossible to do anything good on floor in the five-pass era, but I’ve always felt like this routine is the poster-child for seeing Russia-looking-gymnast and hearing violins and stamping ARTISTRY on it even though…

The OOB sisters in this team final.

She does a DOUBLE DOUBLE can you believe it.

The part where she writhes on the ground for a second to WII sirens is my favorite.

Bela is telling us what a disappointment Alicia is and probably not because of her injuries or anything.

BUT WHAT IF SHE’S UNDERAGE is going on floor and being probably underage.

It was true in WAG in 2008 and it’s true in MAG now. This random 2/1 side pass isn’t really telling me anything.

“It’s almost like the roar of approval.”

Uh…yeah…it’s called…cheering?

“Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin are in a playoff series.” Nothing like it but go off I guess.

What little kid is doing Jiang Yuyuan’s routine out in the yard?

They’re all smiling except for Alicia. Because I know you wanted the SMILE update. Wouldn’t be a meet without the Smile Police.

It tells you what you need to know that China was not AWESOME in this team final (Cheng beam fall, some ragged floor landings, not going for full difficulty on vault) and still beat the US by 2.4, a.k.a. more than Sac’s falls were worth.

The expectations really should have been different heading in. Which, I mean, they were, unless you listened to NBC.

Cheng’s warrior scream is my hero.

“Newly emerged superpower China” is…a take?

I’m not going to do the AA, but…that’s happening now if’n you want.

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