The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Covid Coping: 2012 Secret Classic

Today—this very evening—would have been the 2020 US Classic and the unofficial kickoff of the Olympic qualification season.

So, to pretend like I’m OK with that not happening and OK with having nothing to talk about for the next…I don’t know…year, I watched the 2012 Secret Classic as a replacement.


The 2012 edition marked the very first Secret Classic, right after CoverGirl wisely catapulted itself off that sinking ship. (Easy, breezy, the ranch is out of toilet paper. CoverGirl.)

So starting in 2012, it’s now brought to you by deodorant.

Deodorant. For when your coach tells you she’ll slam you against a cement wall if you don’t do a bars routine. Deodorant.

Please keep in mind that the 2012 Classic was still one of those broke Universal Sports broadcasts that looks like it was shot with a 1995 Dodge Neon.


We begin with a closeup of Nastia pulling her leo up to make sure her full ilium is exposed—and then fixing the inevitable wedgie. Fitting.

Good mise en scene.

This is, after all, the Nastia Comeback Meet™. Her first competition since that time she pretended like she was still doing gymnastics in 2009 and then was like HAHA IT’S A TRICK.

Rebecca Bross is also here, returning from that horribly inadvisable DTY in 2011. SHOW IT 13 TIMES PLEASE.

Meanwhile, Chellsie Memmel is here to do beam. Don’t worry, the upcoming circumstances won’t infuriate you for the next 8 years.

So there it is. The Olympic team. Liukin, Bross, Memmel.

Plusgabbydouglasjordynwieberalyraisman. Or whatever.

Please note that this is truly the greatest moment in the history of broadcasting.

“This woman. Martha Karolyi. [Jordyn Wieber. Cut to closeup of butt.]”

Time of death, 10:16.

We check in with Tim and Amanda in their fly-ass polo shirts (Elfi was like, “Eat my butts, I’m not showing up for Classic.”) and learn that this is the beginning of a month-long process where we pretend that Martha hasn’t already scrawled “Jordyn, Aly, Gabby, McKayla, and Kyla Unless Nastia Is Thin Enough To Bars” on the skull of her latest kill.

It’s anyone’s game!!!!

Anyway, we’re in the touch warmup for rotation 1, and Jordyn Wieber is rocking her “Bitch I’m Jordyn Effing Wieber, I don’t have to do the AA at Classic” jacket.

You guys, Gabby Douglas might even have an outside chance for an Olympic all-around medal if everything goes just right. Surely you jest.

We’ll start with Anna “remember when the gymternet loved me in 2012 it will be like this forever” Li and reminisce about that time that Alicia tore her Achilles and flew home and they still didn’t replace her with Anna on the 2011 team.

Hi, you rank below someone who literally cannot walk. Love, USAG.

She falls on her cool-but-ill-advised Rybalko to Jaeger, and well that’s the end of that. Also, I think she may have singlehandedly gotten the Shushunova downgraded from G to E for 2013.

Amanda informs us that it doesn’t matter which event you start on because they’re all hard. Psh. Tell that to Amanda Borden in about 13 seconds who informs us that beam is obviously the hardest event to start on.

Kyla opens the day on beam, but some strange imposter is up there having multiple balance checks. And still getting an 8.700 E score. Bless you, 2012.

Meanwhile, Sabrina Vega vaults a Y1.5 instead of the DTY she was doing in 2011, which means she will surely make the Olympic team.

Tim sees it and vomits out of easy.

Now it’s time for the Chellsie moment on beam.

“She will only do one event today.”

At this point, we learn that Chellsie is the most unlucky gymnast of all time. (?)

Yes, that world all-around championship was just SO UNLUCKY. Don’t you hate when the fates just curse you with seven world and Olympic medals? DRAT.

Chellsie falls on her barani and then a second time on a swingdown, and Martha goes, “Fee Fi Fo Fum, I don’t want this ho at nationals.” and, well, I still think about that most weeks.

File this under comments about Chellsie Memmel that have aged super well: “This is her only chance to continue to be a gymnast. And we both know that when it does end, and once you totally finish, you never get back.”

“She probably should have just petitioned to nationals.”

Amanda Jetter moves to floor to remind us to continue questioning all those CGA triple turns. I mean…why? It’s a C, and you’re falling out of it.

New kid on the block Sarah Finnegan has LINES AND INTERNATIONAL LOOK and has been “getting a lot of chat.” What, is she a Love Island contestant now? Oof. She’ll need to hand out a crap-ton of brooms…

Tim takes us to commercial with “Some nervous moments, but we have much more.”

New USAG slogan?

Next up is Maroney on vault, and this is just an entire broadcast of butt closeups I guess.

Oh her Amanar is good. #analysis

Much love.

Gabrielle Douglas, who might even make the Olympic team, hits a strong bars routine that shines among the pile of curdled Alfredo sauce that is this meet, and everyone’s like, “Yes.”

Also “Shawn is home, still not ready at this point in time.” WE WERE STILL PRETENDING THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?!?!? Oh you sweet naive little piglets.

Rebecca Bross opens her meet on beam, so you know what time it is??? TIME TO SHOW HER KNEE DIE AGAIN. Remember back when the actual injury was the most gruesome part of that clip rather than Nassar wheeling her off?

Because this meet just keeps getting better and better.

Bross shows us a knot-tying demonstration as beam choreography, and for some reason, she’s still competing that horror show of a double Arabian dismount. Her knees shoot out sideways again and kill a couple judges as she sits it down.

A discouraging fall. She is lovingly consoled by her teammate Nastia.

As if to add insult to injury, now Bross has to try to put on those insane child’s XXS straight-jacket pants on camera, and it takes a WHILE.

Meanwhile, Aly deciding late to try to do the split jump out of her double pike and traveling exactly one centimeter off the floor is my crack. Those times when she was just like, “NERPPPP.”

Thankfully, this stream stays live during the commercial breaks, which means we get to follow Nastia’s war-torn bun around the competition floor as she manages to get in another wedgie pick for luck. Nastia’s wedgies have truly been the most prolific athlete of this meet. And of Instagram now.

MANY people think she should have won bars at the Olympics. MANY.

Apparently, it’s weird that she’s nervous.

OK? So weird.

Nastia’s beam is gorgeous except for a fake switch ring, and it’s why I’ll always maintain that if Nastia’s comeback had been even slightly realer, she would have been on the Olympic team instead of Kyla. Although it’s fair to question whether a bars dismount was ever really going to happen for her.

Don’t worry! She’s going to add bars back at nationals and it will go great!

One Nastia beam routine? Well, that must mean it’s time for another commercial.

This time, the hot mic situation gives us Nastia saying, “Well, your red light was on, so I thought we were on.”


As we wait for the next Famous to go, we wonder aloud why everyone is so bad except Nastia (?) while being treated to Maroney writhing on the ground for a while, representing her internal state.

Next up, Wieber starts her competition on bars. You guys—stay with me on this one—but it’s almost like that Shap to clear hip full wasn’t a great idea for her routine.

Oh this is good.

Good good good.

Vega is “not quite crisply cleaning the pirouette” on bars.


Sarah Finnegan does a WOW TRIPLE WOLF TURN that is wobbly, which Armine greets with some light strangling.


…is this like a reverse Schindler’s List situation?

The Phannnnnntom of the opera is therrrrre. Insiiiiydde your mind.

Well, we hope it’s inside her mind because it’s sure not registering on her face.

Oh, elite Kyla.

Because beam is a small diarrhea barge in this competition, Gabby Douglas grabs it on her loso series, which means she’ll never be Olympic champion.

Elizabeth Price exists! Wow. She vaults a “just like we saw from Maloney.”


Mrs. Strauss looks like she just ate a family of starlings, which means it was a good one.

Anna Li hits not-bars, and Nastia has to run out from the green room to tell everyone she’s not vaulting in rotation 3. Girl, we know.

In this commercial break, Tim informs Shannon Miller that Alicia has more medals than her now, and Shannon’s like, “BITCH THAT’S WORLD MEDALS. I AM OLYMPICS.”

They settle on 7-time Olympic medalist as her intro as Tim welcomes our special guest, who goes “The team is Jordyn, Aly, Gabby, McKayla, and Kyla is that all you need bye.”

Intergalactic champion.

Apparently, Aly’s new nickname is “The Rock So Far.”

…Let’s work on it.

This next commercial break’s hot mic moment is just Tim yelling, “Whack me!” a couple times, so that’s fun.

We return to talk some more about how bad everyone except Nastia has been on beam, and Vega is like, “SAME.”

Also, we truly don’t give Sarah Finnegan enough credit for inventing Maria Paseka.

If you haven’t had a matador routine, can you truly be called a GAGE gymnast?

The Olympic team is Nastia Liukin and Sarah Finnegan, bye, no more meets required.

Aly has to do bars and then immediately runs to the bathroom about it. Same.

The 2012 Classic also brings us the Kyla Y2.5 moment, which she kind of gets around and then flies off the mats like she’s on a Spieth floor.

I’m really enjoying the “not as crisp as she can look” analysis of this vault because it’s truly just a miracle that she got it around in the first place. Wisely, they ditched this vault immediately because she was never going to vault at the Olympics anyway, even in qualification, so why kill yourself on this?

Wise decisions with regard to upgrades and what events to train are rare in an Olympic year, but this was one of them.

Once Maroney falls victim to the beam flames as well, Amanda assures us that Martha is planning out how to get everyone hitting beam by the Olympics.

Her plan is just the word MORE written in ox blood.

Amanda has NEVER seen so many mistakes on beam in one competition. Girl doesn’t know what a Russia is then.

Martha and Terin having a chat. Sadly, Ghost of Christmas Future makes no appearances at this meet to tell them some things.

Anna Li opts to do floor for some inexplicable reason and exactly foreshadows Anastasia Grishina in her 1.5 combo attempt. Also I think the end of her music invented the Stranger Things theme song so SHE IS AN ORACLE.


Amanda Jetter has a long wait for bars, and Amanda Borden tells us that the way MLT taught them to handle these moments is by using their “verbal words.” And I’m sure that’s exactly correct.

Jetter can’t cast out of a Ricna and gets the full HOW MANY TIMES ALYSSA about it.

“They just make the magic happen, and I’ll tell you there’s no magic about it.” – Tim, accidentally giving a pitch-perfect description of the ranch.

Wieber does her hate-sandwich on beam—front walkover to back full to back handspring to STOP IT—and Amanda is like, “NOPE.”

Tell that to the judges?

HOLD IT. We have some Gabby vault drama in the commercial break. Is she going to vault? She said she wasn’t going to vault. But now she’s on the podium? Will she vault? BUT WILL SHE?

She does a totally normal Yurchenko timer and Tim is like

Gabby doesn’t vault after all and I still have no idea what was going on with any of that.

Bross returns to the fray to hit bars while Tim is like, “Remember how stupid we were when we were trying to make WOGA three peat happen? Psh.”


Aly goes on beam and it’s so secure that Tim has to start explaining the Olympic team format because there’s nothing to “AND THAT RIGHT THERE” about in it.

Most meets like this end with a whimper, and the 2012 Classic is no exception as we move into the “oh god who are we even going to show now?” portion of the evening.

Probably the most important thing to show is Nastia scratching bars.

And people say she couldn’t hit bars in 2012…

She advances to putting on the XXS straight-jacket pants, and it’s so much smoother than Bross’s. THE SHOWDOWN IS ON.

But as we discuss Nastia and Bross and their ability on bars, Kyla goes

And then…um…there’s…um…Amanda being really nervous that Sarah Finnegan didn’t vault?

Nastia and Chellsie LAUGHING WITH FUN off to the side about when Chellsie won in 2005 and when Nastia advanced to nationals this year?

Also Vega’s floor. But it was pretty good and didn’t fit the meet narrative, so pass.


Let’s talk to Nastia!

Nastia: “It was eh.”

Great talk!

Also there’s Aly Raisman! She won!

Aly: “I…”

Alright enough of that racket byeeeeeee.

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