All posts by balancebeamsituation

It Used to be Gymnastics: Women’s Rings

Chicago, 1941

Vault, bars, beam, and floor.

Not until Helsinki 1952 did the four women’s events we know today became codified as THE EVENTS in Olympic competition. Before that, it was basically a free-for-all, the apparatuses in Olympic competition varying wildly from quadrennium to quadrennium with formats and rules that could at best be described as ambiguous. And at worst as a lawless mayonnaise fire.

In 1928, the women’s gymnastics rules were simply, “each country is entirely free in its choice of exercises, apparatus, and jumps.” (Thank you?)

In 1932, the rules were simply…um nothing because women couldn’t compete in gymnastics in 1932. Great work again, Los Angeles.

At the London Olympics of 1948, the women’s gymnastics program changed drastically again and featured an apparatus that had not been used before and would never be used again: rings.

Continue reading It Used to be Gymnastics: Women’s Rings

Things Are Happening – June 25, 2020

Eh, there’s not that much this week, but here goes…

Athlete A. Out Now

The Netflix documentary on That Guy, and USAG, and the IndyStar investigation, and Maggie, and Rachael, and Jamie is out now.

For those who have followed what’s been happening in detail over the last four years, there’s not going to be a lot of new information there for you, but the documentary does do an impressive job of synthesizing that information and establishing a clear and understandable timeline of events and culpability. That can be really difficult to do with all the moving parts and little wisps of information that have come out here and there—and will be particularly valuable for the general public watching it.

For some reason, USAG decided it needed to make a statement…about the film…today? It didn’t go over awesome. (Guys, you didn’t even have to say anything.)

OK. First of all, you’re not supposed to take this opportunity to pat yourself on the back for some great job you’ve done since they came forward, because…highly debatable and no you haven’t. I do think some things are improving and that the leadership staff is better, but it’s like you want a standing ovation for getting off the couch. Make it to the toilet and then we’ll talk.

Also they didn’t do it for you. USAG taking this documentary and focusing on what it has learned or improved because of Maggie still assumes that she exists to serve USAG or to make the organization better. “Debt of gratitude.” Like she gave you something. You took from her, so much. And now you need to give her something. Such as…everything she and the other survivors are asking for.

Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 25, 2020

Things Are Happening – June 18, 2020

A. Simone’s triple double: beam edition

With the opening salvo of “gymnastics is back” season (?)—at least for a couple months before “oh wait never mind no it’s not” season—Simone posted a video of herself doing a triple double beam dismount into a pit.

On the scale of realism, this is certainly in the “just crashing into the pit because gymnastics is supposed to be fun” category (Morgan Hurd countered with a similar double double of her own), but it’s also Simone, so who knows.

Because the double double was given just an H, Simone ditched it immediately after getting it named for herself at worlds because the potential for deductions essentially makes it not worth the single tenth gained over the full-in, a very comfortable skill for her. But if she flexed and went up to a triple double (which at this point would presumably be I-value—what we thought the double double would be), I’m saying I wouldn’t be mad about it.

“I will use this extra year to invent ONE HUNDRED new Bileseses.”

Meanwhile, we need a better system for awarding values of provisional skills. You shouldn’t have to wait until worlds to discover the official value of the thing you’re planning to do. You know we have the internet now, right?

Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 18, 2020

Things Are Happening – June 11, 2020

A. Kurt Thomas died

Last weekend, we received the news that Kurt Thomas died following a stroke. Really the first US men’s gymnastics star, Thomas won the world floor title in 1978 in Strasbourg and joined Marcia Frederick—who won the bars title at that same meet—in becoming the first Americans to win a gymnastics world title.**

Thomas emerged at the 1976 Olympics (ultimately his only Olympic Games) but had not quite come into his own yet, placing 21st AA and 7th with the US team. His transition into a world force came with that victory in 1978 and continued at 1979 worlds in Fort Worth, where he cleaned up with five medals—including wins on HB and FX and a silver in the all-around—proving himself to be the equal of Dityatin and Tkatchev, as well as an essential innovator with his flares on pommel horse and roll-out on floor.

He would have been on the 1980 Olympic team had the United States sent a delegation, but alas. Of course, he then went on to far more culturally critical work, starring in the greatest action film of all time, Gymkata. Let us never forget. His pro status left him ineligible for competition for much of the 80s, but he did make a comeback attempt in the early 90s, placing 16th AA at nationals in 1992.

**The US had won Olympic gymnastics titles before at the sparsely attended home Olympics in 1904 and 1932, and Frank Kriz won the Olympic vault title in 1924 in Paris, but since vaulting that year involved jumping over a horizontal bar before contacting the horse, I think we can chalk that up to being basically a different sport.

B. Black Lives Matter

In last week’s edition, I ran through a number of the statements from black athletes about their experiences in NCAA gym, and we’ve seen a few more come out since then, most prominently from former Auburn gymnasts like Kennedy Finister and Telah Black.

We’ve also seen more articles about Tia Kiaku’s situation at Alabama, including a particularly disturbing story that her mom relates about Dana Duckworth being like, “I think your daughter might be a slut because you’re a single mom.” I mean, that’s not what she said, but that’s also absolutely what she was saying.

These stories continuing to come out—along with their associated “I AM TEH LEARNING” responses—has stoked calls for these coaches to be fired, which…..it may happen, I have no idea. (I was kind of waffling about whether to put this up today in thinking, “You know someone is going to resign the millisecond after I hit publish. You know it.”)

These stories reveal unacceptable behavior so I’m not going to be weeping if someone does get “asked to resign,” though these stories also reveal failures throughout the athletic departments, which means that accountability is always going to have to be on more than just the gymnastics coach who said the bad thing. Because if the athletic departments had acted appropriately after the complaint was made about the coach doing the racist thing, we probably would never have heard the story.

And this is just gymnastics. Imagine the filing cabinets these schools have for coaches’ behavior in those other sports. I guarantee you these aren’t the worst examples. If you start enacting real, warranted accountability, then doesn’t the whole ziggurat have to go? Are they really going to be willing to do that? I kind of think…they’re not.

Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 11, 2020

Things Are Happening – June 4, 2020

A. Black Lives Matter

This week, Alexis Brown joined us on the podcast to talk about her experience kneeling during the national anthem in the 2017 and 2018 NCAA seasons, the reaction from within the gymnastics community (spoiler alert: it was bad!), and her thoughts on the current protests of police brutality. So, I recommend giving a listen to her story.

431: 2003 Team Final Commissioned GymCastic: The Gymnastics Podcast

This episode was commissioned by Club Gym Nerd member Jasmine, who asked for an episode all about the 2003 worlds team final. Hollie's number. "Oh, that's too bad." Warming up on the podium. "So little talent." A truly iconic choice! WATCH HERE Club Gym Nerd members can watch the podcast being recorded (pre-edits with all the flubs and hiccups) and watch the videos of the routines we're discussing right along with us. BUT FIRST A little breaking news nugget: We discuss Shawn Johnson's latest YouTube video about being given Adderall for weight loss, not an approved therapeutic exemption, for this banned substance, and what the potential fallout could be, if any. 2003 TEAM FINAL US injury drama – and more questions about the US team medical care Jessica's behind-the-scenes story about Khorkina interacting with children! The birth of the legend of Chellsie Freaking Memmel A frame-by-frame dissection of Tasha trying to block Martha's head smack "So little talent" and what Shevchenko herself thinks of that comment Interpreting Khorkina's choreography Jessica's tale of spying on a US practice and Carly's crazy bars training Hollie's number: Was the US team given preferential treatment? China's neutral deduction for warming up on the podium "Ooooh, that's too bad" AND MORE! JOIN CLUB GYM NERD Join Club Gym Nerd for access to Behind the Scenes episodes. Buy our awesome clothing and gifts here. We have masks too! RELATED EPISODES 430: Athlete A with Jennifer Sey 429: John Orozco Does Not Hold Back 428: Black Lives Matter This Week Too 427: The Gymnast Who Kneeled During The National Anthem 425: GymCastic Fixes Judging (Commission) 422: Stick It (Commissioned) 368: No-No-Nunnoisms (Commissioned) 365: 1988 Olympics Team Competition (Commissioned) 364: 80s Fight! (Commissioned) 344: Shushunova vs. Silivas 1988 (Commissioned) 308: 2004 Olympic All-Around Final (Commissioned)
  1. 431: 2003 Team Final Commissioned
  2. 430: Athlete A with Jennifer Sey
  3. 429: John Orozco Does Not Hold Back
  4. 428: Black Lives Matter This Week Too
  5. 427: Black Lives Matter with Alexis Brown

Being an icon as usual, Kennedy Baker got the “we’re not going to keep our experiences of gymnastics racism hidden anymore” ball rolling earlier this week when she posted about Florida silencing her when she was on the receiving end of racist comments from her team.

Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 4, 2020

Retirements, Transfers, and Commitments

Despite there being soooo much nothing going on, the gymnastics news hasn’t fully stopped, and a number of gymnasts have let us in on their career decisions made during the apocalypse. A rundown:

New Zealand and Boise State gymnast and overall gem Courtney McGregor announced her retirement this week. As you’ll recall, Courtney set the tone for 2020 when her Achilles exploded in the very first meet of the season, and then the entire world went, “So…same I guess” and we’re all currently working under the theory that she is an oracle.

She did have the option to return for a fifth NCAA season in 2021, but as she explains in her post, given the uncertainty surrounding the season and the fact that she has already completed her academics, returning to BSU for a maybe-season was not the right call for her.

Right now, I’m thinking about that time at worlds last year when I went into the training hall and her coach immediately yelled, “ONLY NICE COMMENTS” at me. As if there would be any other. Happy retirement, Courtney.

Continue reading Retirements, Transfers, and Commitments