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.

33 thoughts on “Covid Coping: 2012 Secret Classic”

  1. IIRC, Douglas had already stated she was not doing VT to the meet officials after she fell on every single Amanar attempt during podium training. As a result she was not included on that event on the start list. This was right around the time when USAG stopped making athletes touch an event they weren’t competing and specific athletes were listed per event. Since she was not on the start list, the officials didn’t allow her to vault.

  2. If Nastia had made the team, what would they have done about FX in quals? Maroney does it on broken toe somehow and is still magically able to compete the Amanar in TF? Pull Maroney and put Price in?

    I totally agree that Marta would’ve shoved Nastia on that team over Kyla but it still would’ve been the wrong choice. Nastia’s bars/beam wouldn’t have given the advantage of Maroney‘s vault in TF right?

    1. They would have thrown Maroney out there in quals. Worst case scenario, they would have won by two points instead of five.

      People act like Marta was this master strategist when really she just (post-2010) had such a massive margin for error that she couldn’t lose. Don’t forget this was just one year after she took the massive, insane gamble of not activating her alternate because…she wanted Sac to break Miller’s record? She just really hated Anna Li? Marta did dumb shit for petty reasons all the time and mostly got away with it. She 100% would have put her pet Nastia on the 2012 team, lineup construction be damned, had Nastia given her literally anything to work with.

      1. Or that time in 2006 when Marta left out Priess and Kelley from team finals roster to punish them for their poor prelims performance? Good thing Memmel was a fierce competitor because had she more seriously injured her shoulder Nastia would have been forced to do BB and FX or the US would have counted 0s on the last two events. Memmel was the savior of that team silver.

      2. And the margin wasn’t even that massive before The Biles Buffer™. Recall that the 5 point advantage in TF included a Russian meltdown on floor. In QF it was more like 1.5 point, and with Liukin on the team and Maroney being used on FX and possibly injuring herself further, losing that TF 16.233 could have made the difference against a Russian hit. Martha absolutely risked golds all the time out of pettiness until her Simone-shaped bailout from consequences.

        (Tom Forster also risks golds without the buffer, but out of sheer stupidity instead – see Junior Worlds)

      3. That’s wasn’t worst care scenario lol. You do know that the Russians helped us out with all their mistake. If both teams hit wr would’ve separated by a few tenths only. The Russians could’ve won. We were not unbeatable

      4. Totally agree Martha was the worst and given credit for things she not only didn’t do, but actually actively did the opposite of.

        Forster I‘m fine with given that it’s the Simone era and I think the „Fairness“ justification is fine (also who cares about junior worlds…). Though I do question what the point of him is- if a spreadsheet can pick the team couldn’t we get an NTC that is literate and doesn’t make weird social media gaffes?

      5. Same in 2006. Chellsie had her labrum year and finished the competition because she’s Chellsie freaking Memmel and because Ashley Process was not told to warm up or be on the floor or anything since she didn’t make the tf lineup

      6. @beamscoring, if we look at Russia and saying “what if” we also have to acknowledge that the US underperformed on FX in TQ. Had they hit their sets the margin of win in prelims would have been closer to 2.5. Wieber stepped OOB, Ross stepped OOB and each cost .1 (though Ross’ score was dropped so it doesn’t matter). Douglas had .3 OOB deductions (plus a missed connection stag out of ADF for another missing .1) Just these mistakes alone was .5, not to mention execution deductions.
        Russia would have needed to be perfect and hope for at least two major US mistakes/falls to have a chance.

    2. Should we do the math? OK let’s do the math. In this hypothetical scenario, Raisman replaces the now-injured Maroney on vault in finals, Liukin replaces Ross on bars, and Wieber replaces Ross on beam.

      Assuming Aly and Jordyn matched their prelims performances, each would be about half a point below the routine they replaced (Aly’s 15.8 in place of Maroney’s 16.233 and Wieber’s 14.7 in place of Ross’s 15.133). In other words, Liukin would have a lot of room to screw up bars (Kyla got a 14.9).

      Don’t get me wrong, the US sent the right team and I think taking Liukin would have been a mistake. But I think it likely could have happened if Liukin had been remotely prepared. Nastia was clearly a Marta favorite and it’s clear Penny would have preferred her to Kyla, because rea$on$.

      1. This all makes me excited for the post-Simone era and maaaaybe having a few close TF contests. I don’t really expect the US to lose even without Simone but at least a little pressure from the silver medal team would be a welcome change.

      2. Oh, but as I said, in QF they ended up only 1.5 point above Russia. If the same thing happened in TF, suddenly Liukin only has 0.5 point, give or take, to play with, and that’s assuming Wieber even gets that beam score (it honestly could go lower considering that composition shitshow lol). Sure, it’s all convoluted hypotheticals, but ultimately Russia gave USA the gold in a way that anyone could have been on that team so we just lump 2012 with the Simone years, but it’s not really how it went down live.

        Also,I absolutely think Team USA is in danger of losing the gold without The Biles Buffer™. Other countries are continuously improving and Forster’s team picking managed to wear even the current buffer a bit thinner than usual last year. Also, people might say “who cares about [insert competition that isn’t Worlds/OG]”, but anything can show the power of decision-making. Team USA was supposed to give Russia a hard time for gold and they lost silver to a China team that nobody expected to contend for that, and they didn’t even count a mistake. The team selected just didn’t have good synergy, and that was THREE gymnasts. Forster is absolutely gonna fuck up picking five non-Simones in 2022.

      3. The reason I say “who cares about Junior Worlds” is that I don’t think it’s the right competition to prioritize winning over following some preexisting rules that prioritize fairness. So I’m totally fine with Forster not bringing home a junior worlds gold – I think the important thing is to give juniors experience and reward the ones who are ahead of the pack, so if he already said top 3 at camp then it should be top 3 at camp (or in the future, maybe average scores with nats if that feels more fair).

        I think team competition for seniors at Worlds and the Olympics is the right time for actual strategy and I totally agree that Forster‘s approach needs to be modified for senior comps post Simone or else USA is going to be risking their TF gold. (Which I’m personally fine with bc I don’t care if the US wins, I just want to watch an exciting competition).

        Also agree with you about London 2012 – US would’ve beaten Russia falls or no falls in TF given their excellent performance on the day, but that performance was not guaranteed. Those teams were pretty close in peak potential. A hit Russian final and some shakiness from the US and things could’ve been totally different.

      4. Forster’s in his late 50s-early 60s, right? Has he said definitively that he plans to stick around after Tokyo? I always saw him as more of a transitional figure, given his age and how chaotic USAG was when he took over.

    3. With Nastia in and Maroney injured maybe they would have done thev3up 3count for FX in quals. Russia did it with UB, right? I remember Musty, Komova and Grishina hit and Paseka just touched the bars

  3. I will say this: knowing what we know now about Steve Penny, it is surprising that Nastia’s 2012 “comeback” got a lot more support from the powers that be at USAG than Shawn’s, despite Shawn coming a lot closer to her prior form. After all, by that point Shawn and Nastia had done a full post-Olympic endorsement circuit and Shawn was much more successful as a cash cow despite Nastia’s superior results in Beijing. Looking at this from Penny’s perspective, was there really much money to be made off of Nastia’s hypothetical London bars?

    1. 1) Prominent bars weakness for the USA team meant that the premium specialist was going to be for that event.

      2) Shawn did have promotional support earlier, even made Pan-Ams, but the skiing accident meant that she would have little to no time to make a realistic shot.

      1. Sorry, I should have clarified that Nastia seemed to have more support from USAG in 2012 than Shawn did in 2011.

    2. Yes that is really weird. It was clear that Martha was uninterested in Shawn, but if Penny had the clout that we all sort of think he had, you’d think he would’ve pushed her to give Shawn even a tiny bit of support.

      I can see why Shawn might have seemed to be extraneous on the surface given the Amanar Quad, but I actually think her beam/bars could’ve been a good asset under the 2012 code. Her bars were actually a little underrated imo, due to (a) short and (b) not being able to compete with the the linked-Pirouette-Party that 2008 demanded. Her beam could’ve worked in any quad with some adjustment.

      1. I never thought about how Shawn Johnson might have got the treatment she did because Marta just saw her strengths as largely unnecessary while Liukin was a UB El Dorado since that event was so weak for the US in the Beijing and London quads. Maybe everything would have been different had those two just had different strengths. A barsie Johnson might have even made the 2011 Worlds team (for real and not just in her imagination as it is right now).

    3. Yeah but who had an entire televised meet named after her every year? It’s Nastia

      1. The meet has very little to do with USAG at all. It has everything to do with Nastia getting a sponsorship to design a clothing line for JcPenney using Warner Bros. character Supergirl. Warner Bros was the meet sponsor and was using the meet (and Nastia’s fame) to sell their products. After WB dropped Nastia Liukin in 2012, the meet was sponsored by others, usually the same sponsor as American Cup. USAG allowed the meet to be held the Friday before the American Cup but otherwise had nothing to do with the meet initially. Shawn Johnson could have had the Shawn Johnson Ortega Taco Pop Cup, but I guess Ortega’s publicity team didn’t come up with the idea or were not interested in it?

      2. If I ever win the lottery first thing I do is endow the Shawn Johnson Ortega Taco Pop Cup.

  4. What struck me most rewatching this competition is how much better Amanda Borden (and Shannon Miller) are at broadcasting than Nastia. Nastia’s improved, but she still doesn’t add much to the broadcast.

    1. Borden and Miller have many more years experience in commentating though. Borden started in 1998 at the Goodwill Games and was full time commentating for CBS Sports for 1999 NCAA Gymnastics and ESPN to commentate World Cheerleading events. Miller had been full time commentating since 2003 when CN8 (Comcast) had her hosting and commentating Gymnastics USA with Shannon Miller. Liukin has been doing this since 2013 and I agree she has improved and IMO adds more than Elfi did so that in itself is better than what we had before.

  5. Liukin would have had a useable beam routine in London, but that’s about it. Her bars routine wasn’t really that close to ready. She didn’t have a usable dismount and even her pirouette sequence at the beginning was shaky. In addition, the routine composition was awful after her Gienger, requiring 4 kip cast handstands just to get through the Tkatchev, Pak salto, toe shoot to high bar, and “dismount.” Nastia’s inability to connect anything other than pirouettes really killed her 2012 chances since it forced the routine to be much longer than it should have.

    1. So true! The standalone Tkatchev was an especially bad composition choice. I always wondered why she didn’t connect a pirouette (like a stalder full) to the Pak. 0.1 CV and one less kip.

      I still wonder sometimes what she might have been able to do if she had come back in 2011. A routine with

      Inbar 1/2 + Bi + Lin + Bi 1/2 + Gienger
      Inbar 1/1 + Pak
      Tuck Double Front 1/2 DMT

      for 7.0 SV just seems so within reach and could have made EF.

    2. I wish they’d have had +1 specialist spots in London so I could’ve seen Nastia get beaten by He Kexin again, plus Mustafina and Tweddle and Yao Jinnan and (if she’d hit in my alternative spite-based universe) Komova. Without the 2008 Code, and in the super-deep 2012 UB field, she’s nowhere near as special.

      1. The 2012 code still advantaged Nastia (on both Bars and Beam), they just needed to construct the routines better and she needed a little more training.

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