1996 Team Final Watch-Along

This is going to be nightmarish. But, like, in a fun way. Welcome to the 90s.

The 1996 Olympic Team Final, NBCSN, 8:00pm ET.



  1. Amy Chow
  2. Dominique Dawes
  3. Shannon Miller
  4. Dominique Moceanu
  5. Amanda Borden
  6. Kerri Strug
  7. Jaycie Phelps

You know, just to set the tone for the evening.

At least we’ve graduated to “teenagers” from “little girls”

“Since then, the US has been the best team in the world.” You’ve skipped some parts.


MLT is taking a sun’s out guns out approach to the team final.

The one I identify with most is Kerri’s pit stains.

CHEERING FOR THE US TEAM. I’m sure these KFC lard snouts are already throwing off the Russians how dare they.

Khorkina’s earrings. A moment.

Nadia is THE BUSINESS tonight.

Russia leads the US by a tenth after compulsories, you guys. China didn’t make the final session. You have let down Mo Huilan.

The first rotation will begin with Jaycie Phelps on bars. The US is strong on bars you guys. Soon, they will be bad on it for like 1.75 quads and then we’ll hear about it for the rest of time.

Phelps Jaeger to bail is awesome. She’s one of the classic “you were NEVER this good at any other point” Olympic athletes. You guys she did a double front 1/2 out and didn’t die on it. It’s possible.

9.787 for Phelps and a RUBBER BAND IN HER MOUTH.

Kerri Strug “remember her from the Barcelona Games?” will be a very antiquated sentence in exactly two hours.

Bela doesn’t know a camera is there, you guys. No idea at all. No performing directly to camera.

Khorkina is literally wearing eleventy hundred earrings. She barely wrenched her body to the surface for 9.700 as per usual.

Shannon has chalk in her eye. CHALK. HER EYE.

Moceanu holds onto her DLO 1/1 dismount. Her parents are thrilled! That will be fine! What a happy family!

I don’t miss butt bounces up to high bar.

Some BS score building here. Moceanu’s was the weakest of the first three.

Amy Chow’s Fabrichnova gave birth to you.

Grosheva’s mom’s haircut with a hop forward on her Y1.5.

Some close catches on the releases in this rotation that I have successfully memory holed.

And then everyone sees Nunno and Bela and we dont want to live anymore.

We’re looking at Shannon’s tape and Elfi is RAVENOUS about Roza Galieva’s big fall.

Galieva fell on vault for our sins.

9.787 for Shannon and they’re booing it like a Utah crowd.

I…don’t mind that score for that routine?

“They call her Awesome Dawson.” She had a little arch on her bail and did not stick, which is why her highest score of the rotation was a little…? But also the Dawes Hindorff.

Basically what I’m saying is no scores make any sense, but whatever.

“Yet another face.” Which I guess means Marinescu is on beam.

Romania Hospital Footage! They are competing with ONLY SIX. What a small Olympic team.

Per Wikipedia, Marinescu is currently a DJ. That makes me very happy.

The fact that Romania’s team was entirely made of soup at these Olympics is…sort of relevant.

Marinescu lunged! Romania is over!

Note back in the day, Tim was allowed to say someone non-American was his favorite gymnastics in the competition.

Podkopoayeva successfully adorned in her grandmother’s sofa and it doesn’t matter because Podkopayeva. What I mean is, her leo looks like it smells terrible.


Lilia 9.762 with an OOB.

We’re saying it’s relevant now that being in the lead after one rotation is a historic development? We’re tracking this?

Let’s check back in on Amy Chow’s back nose-spring from Trials.

Borden continuing the trend of the best US routine of the rotation going up first…OK maybe not the BEST one but you know…

Elfi’s like, “Amanda may be SUPER BORING but.”

Except that double tuck is never not terrifying, especially from this angle.

Martha gives her a proto-team coordinator neck pinch.


If Twitter had existed in 1996 it would have torn Phelps’ bhs leg form to pieces.

I love that we only acknowledge Russia’s existence to show falls. Dolgopolova falls on a Def.

But we need an open-ended code to encourage difficulty.

Kerri…not mounting with a punch front after that…previous unpleasantness. (Aka that time when she missed the entire beam.) Strug also showing us her Karolyi legs on her series.

Tim tries to pretend he knows what a logarithm is.

Our first shot of Mama and Papa Strug. Not the last. Icons of the era.

Tesh is SHOCKED by a music problem. THIS IS UNIQUE AND DRAMATIC.

Should be a full point deduction for using “Hooked on America” at a US Olympics. Same deduction for Moceanu.

You guys we almost missed Dawes beam routine to show a foreign, which would have been unacceptable. Three losos and the deed to the Olympics. Some feets, some crooked splits.

Remember when we were watching 2008 a couple days ago and were supposed to pretend to be SHOCKED by a full in dismount on beam?


Elfi using the opportunity of Shannon’s beam routine to praise the national staff for how well they prepared this team.

That dismount should have ensured she didn’t get the score she got, but it’s Shannon beam. Just like it was Dawes beam. But Dawes beam is not as good.

Peggy is SO slicked back. If one strand of hair falls out of place, she will call it fat and stupid.

Moceanu’s 80 series is perfection.


Because we really needed to hear Bela. Because otherwise how would we know whether she won his approval?!?!?

Martha’s butt closeup was a fun part of this routine.

Khorkina pelican-ing all over bars and it’s greatness.

You would hate that straddle on her Shap 1/2 now. I have to admit I don’t.

The US has a half point lead heading into the third event.

Jaycie Phelps was run over by a car on floor. Shame.

I’d take Dominic Zito over these garbage 96 routines any day.

“Named for her parents, Jack and Cheryl” always takes me A WHILE.

Turgulan vaults with a step back and Elfi is writing about it in the Burn Book.

What I’m saying is, these floor routines are not it, but the tumbling is. Mostly.

GROSHEVA almost fell on her mount! It’s PROBABLY THE HAIR.

MLT just shouted “Let’s go Domi” and it def sounded like “let’s go dummy!”

Oh no! They’re worried about the screaming and yelling in America! Those buffalo chunks don’t understand decorum!

Now it’s time for the devil to come down to Georgia.


Meteorologist John Tesh tells us that there’s a 70% chance of Russians falling on beam in this rotation.

The devil went down to Georgia indeed. 9.837 for Moceanu.

Other than the Hills-ing (CLOCKWORK POOP SQUATS FOR THE WIN) Dawes hellllddd onto this routine.

Elfi tells us that we CANNOT QUESTION these scores.

Oh no, Khorkina has to do good anger beam. I wonder if she’ll do it…

Khorkina is unusual, you guys.

The snaps on her own beam salute is a starring moment.

Many say Shannon is the most talented gymnast here. Also this floor routine never causes problems.

That DLO will never not kill me. She also had to wrench around another pass in there. Sigh.

Amanda gives Shannon the “it’s OK we can drop your score” pat. My how the tables have turned.

It was the “first real, physical error.”

So glad we have Nunno on mic complaining that the judges are trying to ruin America. Because that sounds logical.

Elfi appropriately tells us that Shannon’s floor is too high.

And now, Kerri Strug presents “Pee Everywhere, Throw It in the Air” an interpretive dance.


It’s a given! The US would need four falls on vault! It will never come close to that!

Jaycie Phelps does her Tsuk layout 1/2 with lovely form in the air and a lunge forward that, if it had been Russian, would have been disastrous.

“He’s coaching Jaycie” Tesh says of Bela.

Great great.

“By the way, this is the Phelps.” WTC goes HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Amy Chow does the most difficult vault. It’s a Yurchenko with TWO twists.

Chow does a Yurchenko half instead of the DTY for her first vault, potentially because the vaulting horse was a death trap. Just spitballing here.

Hits the DTY second vault with a lunge to the side.

Shannon will now be vaulting and also hits a Y layout 1/2 like it’s that one NCAA season where it was worth more than a full.

I miss Shannon’s 1992 FTY.

She goes for a Y1.5 second vault with the sideward lunge directly into ATTENTION FOR NUNNO.

Awesome Dawson with easily the best 1.5 form we’ve seen.

Now it’s almost impossible for Russia to catch the US!

Moceanu just has to hit! She didn’t!

Elfi makes a word salad about how her fall has nothing to do with Dominique’s injury, but has to do with her lack of training time.

which has to do with her injury…

Moceanu falls for a second time. NBC telling us that the US needs scores in the 9.7s. It turned out…not so much.

Jaycie giving Dominique some good “fuck this shit” face.

Bela giving her “straight to the abattoir!” face.


Kerri so distraught by her fall that she saltued 16000 times.

Bela’s ready to assure her that she can do it, being a medical doctor who had just examined her and all.



“Probably the last thing she should have done is vault again.” Hmmmm.

Did they cut That Guy out of the rebroadcast? Or could you never not really see him?

The best thing to do when someone is injured is to swarm around them!

The Russians are in tears. It’s the screaming Americans fault.

Kerri gets carried out and everyone else on the team is like I’M THE WIN.

Bold choice for Papa Strug to come dressed as Colonel Sanders.

Bela takes a while to be 1.5 percent concerned after Prize Horse won the Prize Horse Award and then waves to the crowd for his victory.

Thrilled that he gets to carry her out.

Let’s all play “guess what her tears are about”

Bela and Martha talking to each other about “the last time.” You teases.

“I’m getting a medal with no pants on.” – Kerri Strug

We didn’t really get a chance to talk about the sister wives who presented the flowers in this medal ceremony.

Kerri MIGHT not know the words. I think she said “rockets red blair” but I cannot be sure of that.

“Don’t forget Kerri!” as they drag club-foot off the podium.

Kim was some “it should have been MEEEEEEEE”

Beth Ruyak shoving a microphone in Kerri’s face to ask, “what’s it like to have the voice of a teeny baby cricket?”

So it’s all fine, and this is why gymnastics is what it is.

57 thoughts on “1996 Team Final Watch-Along”

  1. At least there is no Al Trautwig. Small favors. Young Bob Costas, awww….

  2. I had a VHS of this competition that I watched over and over and over throughout elementary school. Anyone else? 🙂

    1. Yes, so NBC can keep him on the mic and find him. And he can mug for the camera. Along with Nunno.

  3. Um how did Dawes get 9.850 over the superior Chow and Phelps!?

    1. Jackie Fie rigged Dawe’s score to be the highest of the team as she wanted her in the bars final over Miller. She also was responsible for the scoring delay which lowered Miller’s score as she wanted to ensure Miller was out of the finals. Personally I think Dawes had a better chance of medaling in EF than Miller, but it was still done for all the wrong reasons as it was based on pure favoritism and politics instead of performance.

      1. Wow, I had never heard this before! Why did Jackie Fie favor Dawes over Miller? What’s the back story there??

      2. Jackie (and a lot of other people) had a real beef with Steve Nunno pulling Miller out of the 94 team worlds after the compulsories. That, and the fact that she was very good friends with Kelli Hill. Mind you, Miller had really very little chance of winning a medal in the finals as her routine wasn’t as competitive nor as difficult as the top bar workers in 96, but the decision to lower her score was made out of pure spite. She allegedly did the same thing in the AA which is why Miller scored so low and Dawes had the highest bar score of the meet despite the stumble on her dismount.

      3. Spencer and Jessica need to do an episode on the ‘94 Team Worlds. It is 10% gymnastics 90% pure shit show. It has everything. Steve Nunno as the villain who tied the US women to the railroad track and walked away. Slow motion shots of Shannon Miller looking pretty pleased with Steve’s work while navigating through O’Hare with her arms full. Kelli Hill not even trying to hide her contempt for him. Mary Lee playing peacemaker. Kerri asking “Who’s this Shannon person you keep talking about?” Amy Chow falling all over the place like she was drunk. And, fluff pieces? You bet! I’ll commission the episode if need be. It probably will take two episodes. It’s a goldmine of 90’s gymnastics drama that also involves Shannon’s impossible compulsory bars score and the Russian indignation that rightfully followed. The tone in Steve’s voice when he asks the NBC cameraman how the team did in optionals after landing back in the US is priceless.

  4. So we only get to see the Russians when they fall? I remember now why I quit watching gymnastics for a decade.

      1. Kerri’s is worse. Skinner has soft knees but Kerri’s were full on bent.

    1. Chelle Stack taught her everything she knows. Come to think of it, Martha coached both. I see a pattern.

  5. There should be Milo fluff.

    And no, Tesh, her music started after the intro.

  6. I’m thinking that the low chest landing on double backs wasn’t a deduction back then.

  7. Shannon has exactly zero flaws, I will fight people on this. She is a pure angel of grace and perfection and we never deserved her. Her EF beam from these Games is still my favorite beam routine ever.

    Also, I miss Amy Chow with a deep and burning desperation. Bring back interesting low bar work goddammit!!

    1. She was a marvelous gymnast, but she had flaws. That double layout was heinous. She just should not have been doing it. I have no idea why Nunno couldn’t manage to coach a DLO with that much talent at his disposal, but she never had even decent technique on that pass. god effing knows she worked hard enough, so it was HIS problem. And yes, Amy Chow’s bars were gorgeous.

  8. Did Barry Nease do all of the floor music for this team? It seems like it’s all in his catalog. Rest in peace, Barry.

  9. they def cut that guy out of helping kerry off the podium, i watched this semirecently on youtube and he’s clearly there, so yeah, cut him out

    1. I wish someone would edit him out of all meets. Also I can’t help but think that when Kerri (And any US gymnast) got hurt, she is crying because she is in pain, but also because it gives that monster access to her.

      1. Kinda yes, because his current victims shouldn’t have to see him again, but also it feels like revisionism. Even if you edit him out, he WAS there, for years and years, because no one listened to athletes, and people watching shouldn’t get to forget that.

      2. It makes me uneasy for the same reasons. There’s a fine line between protecting survivors and whitewashing.

  10. I am starting to think Spencer is just Nellie Kim, shading herself in some posts as a manner of disguise? It’s always shade about older elements that I personally would love to see again lol. It’s like you think the current CoP is good or something.

  11. They definitely cut That Guy out. I know he was there. I remember being shocked when I rewatched a couple years ago…

  12. “Pee Everywhere, Throw It in the Air“ was some of Geza Pozar’s *best* work ever. He always seemed to create something special for Kerri. Martha’s 1978 routines for the Romania team were special. But Geza’s 88-96 work is second to none.

  13. Is there anything better than Saturday Night Live’s 1996 comedy bit featuring Kerri Strug? :

    “Weekend Update: Kerri Strug and Kippy Strug on Winning Olympic Gold – SNL: Gymnast Kerri Strug and her brother Kippy (Chris Kattan) discuss how they feel about winning an Olympic gold medal. Then, coach Bela Karolyi (Mark McKinney) hoists Kerri to her next interview and Kippy’s foot falls asleep. [Season 22, 1996]”

    Youtube link:


    Strug obviously had/has a great sense of humor! lol

    1. I never liked Kerri Strug until just now watching this piece. She’s a good sport!

  14. The next time you hear someone equating Chinese age conspiracies as racism, remember meets in the 80s and 90s the regularity of smack about and show Russian/Soviet fails. It was ‘okay’ socially during that time which is why we saw it on NBC, just as in the past few years it’s becoming more and more ‘okay’ about China.

    We can never really know what’s in a person’s heart, but I guarantee you that politics (communism, nationalism), athletic rivalry (jealousy) and racism are all likely motivations.

    The immediate finger pointing as just racism says a lot about the mindset of the person calling foul. Honestly, I’ve unfollowed so many gym fans in the past month it’s insane, because they are all so quick to judge and shame. Beyond being experts on identifying racists, they’re also epidemiologists now, quick to embrace authoritarian rule. McCarthy is smiling in his grave.

    1. I don’t think that’s an excuse not to demand that people recognize and avoid racism when talking about the Chinese, and I have no idea how you got there, but it is true that the commentary from the US about Russia and post-Soviet states was really awful, disrespectful and intentionally divisive. Even in 2012, all that nonsense about Mustafina being a “diva” – so unnecessary. I feel like NBC is constantly trying to restart the Cold War so the Olympics will be more profitable for them.

    2. I believe the accusations of racism lie in the fact that age falsification has occurred in many instances. The Chinese and North Koreans have faced consequences (medals stripped, banned from competition), while european nations/ white athletes have not (Romania, USSR).
      To my eye, that is valid.

      1. Oh it is totally valid – the person above is full of nonsense. No one was ever accusing Laura Jurca of being underage, but Shang Chunsong, for whom it would’ve made absolutely no sense to falsify her age, got lots of shade.

        Some people really react strongly to the idea that something could be racist – like if you’re not calling for re-segregating schools in America, then you can’t be A Racist and there’s no racism present. He Kexin could’ve been underage and it’s still racist to insist that her teammates were also underage based on your assessment of their looks or their teeth (especially given that ol’ Linlin’s teeth were still weird four years later). It doesn’t necessarily make you a horrible person who hates Asians and should go to jail, but it is still an accusation rooted in racism. Even when it comes from an otherwise not racist person.

  15. Milo’s floor routine and music was atrocious. No heart in it at all. She was just going through the motions. After all they had been through leading up to the competition she just looked done.

    1. This describes her entire gymnastics career to be honest. Post-Seoul Romanian gymnastics is soooooo boring IMO. Everything people accuse Americans of nowadays (no heart in performance, overly safe and samey routine construction, ugly elements etc) applies so much more to 90s-early 00s Romania than it does to current America.

    2. The Romanians picked “American” themed music for the ‘84 and ‘96 Olympics. Shameless pandering to the American crowds. That is if Americans regularly listened to Gershwin and orchestrated medleys of Yankee Doodle. It sort of worked for Szabo in ‘84. At least better than Huang Qun’s floor routine to the Superman theme song and Tracee Talevera’s to the HBO theme song.

      1. Pandering is a proud Olympic floor music tradition and there’s at least one egregious example in every Olympics. In retrospect it’s kind of shocking there was only one Devil Went Down to Georgia routine in 1996.

  16. Cintra Wilson wrote an amazing writeup of the meet. She titled it, “Women’s Olympic Gymnastics: As wrong as veal. Some amazing lines such as:

    Dominique Dawes, formerly a cat-eyed ball of lightning, now over the hill at 19. Shannon Miller, brimming with negative anti-charisma, her expression ranging from pain to scorn, fear to humiliation, boredom to hatred. Dominique Moceanu, the plague of cuteness, whom every advertiser was circling like vultures around a stumbling ibex — a perky lil’ American tumble bunny all ready-for-shelving at Toys R’ Us, with Big Gulps and Burger King Happy Meals prematurely climaxing at the thought of pressing her into a plastic action pony with long, combable hair. Kerri Strug, homely and afraid, who wasn’t cute enough to be loved by America until she crushed her ankle with the bases loaded in the ninth. And those other Midwestern girls who’ve never had a real life other than bulimia and blood blisters and chest binding and galloping tendonitis, whose growths have been willfully stunted like bonsai trees.

    The gymnastics aesthetic looks like it was created by a bunch of dangerously repressed old Quakers. The unlistenable, frantically upbeat, Germanic orchestral power music, the bad leotards, and the strange choreography (whose roots are nowhere to be found in the world of dance) have devolved into an absurd display of heroic suffering and contortionism and a mockery of teen femininity — something like a neo-Christian peep show, with hardcore ambition being the pornographic element. Before the games “Sixty Minutes” featured a segment on a sad blonde former gymnast who discussed her relationship with her coach. “I grew breasts and he called me a fat cow,” she lamented, her eyes still overbright with thinly contained self-loathing, smiling with her teeth. “I’ve been bulimic ever since.”

    Nothing exists after gymnastics. These poor creatures turn five circles in the air trying to fly closer to the sun, only to be eventually defeated by gravity and puberty, and spend the rest of their lives as travel agents with terrible secrets who don’t work and play well with others.

    Check it out: https://www.salon.com/1996/08/05/cintra_26/

    1. Wooooooooooooow

      Over-the-top and trying way too hard to be clever but… there were some truths in there. Sad that if people could see it in 1996, it took until 2017 for it even to be part of the conversation.

    2. Author in denial of the existence of Amy Chow. “midwestern”, “nothing exists after gymnastics”??

  17. So when, how, and why did Khorkina level up from standard issue prima donna to being full-on loopy weirdo by 2003-2004?

  18. I just watched the 96 Olympic trials. This was one deep group of gymnasts. Some incredible beam routines. How Amy Chow got through her routine after an awful fall early on banging her head hard I don’t know. I’m sure they would have pulled her for concussion now.

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