Category Archives: Great Moments in Gymnastics

We Need to Talk about Aliya’s Comeback

You guys.

Aliya’s back.

And basically has already been named to the Russian worlds team.

Aliya: [Yawn] [Cough]
Valentina: You’re hired! My footstool is named Varvara Zubova.

Aliya Mustafina gave birth to a human(?) child 30 seconds ago and apparently immediately began using the umbilical cord for resistance training because she’s already back to competition, returning at last weekend’s Russian Championship to finish 4th all-around and join hands with Komova as they joyously dashed the dream of every other Russian who thought she might make another team ever.

Ilyankova: I finished 3rd at Jesolo! I am on the ris—
Aliya: [SMACK] NO. Back in your box.

Mustafina is certainly not yet at full strength or endurance (though this was not altogether dissimilar to a typical Aliya podium training performance), but I was impressed to see how close she already is to being back at international-competition level, and by seeing her go for a DTY and some real floor tumbling like the double arabian. I more expected this to be a UB/BB-focused return to competition with maybe a courtesy layout on the leggier events, but she did much more than a courtesy layout, enough to get a competitive all-around score on the first day.  Continue reading We Need to Talk about Aliya’s Comeback


Simone Biles: Courage To Sour — The Trailer

Last week, we were teased with a trailer for the Simone movie—Courage To Soar. And like a fool, I didn’t even do a shot-by-shot recap of this minute-long wilderness experience. Let this be an opportunity to make amends. I have the courage to sour. I mean soar. Yeah that.

We open with Betty Gossip-Pajamas, who has come to Simone’s room to ask Simone about Simone maybe possibly wanting to go to “the actual Olympics QUESTION MARK?????”

Simone wants to go to the actual Olympics???


She wants to go to the fake Olympics.

Like a fake gymnast.

Pull your ass together.

She’s good enough, too. Because Jocelyn Shoulder-Angle is vaulting a U-shaped something-or-other—cut together with obvious floor tumbling—which will inevitably be whoosh-whooshed into a perfect Amanar.

Immediate 16.300.

Simone’s Whoosh-manar is perfect enough to get her an invite to the prestigious Karolyi Ranch If It Were Nice, where no chalk has ever been.

This is what gyms look like.

Simone sees Kytra Tricase-Raisman perform this *gasp* DOUBLE PIKE and immediately quits gymnastics forever out of intimidation. Continue reading Simone Biles: Courage To Sour — The Trailer

When NCAA Coaches Were Gymnasts

In just two days, the 2018 season will finally begin, but for now, let’s talk about what’s most important: the 80s. A time when all your dearest NCAA coaches were gymnasts.

See, you thought you left those makeup choices back in the first Bush administration. But you didn’t. The magic of the internet.

Some coaches got lucky because archaeologists have not yet discovered any extant video of them in situ, but that doesn’t mean we stop trying.

Jenny (Ester) Rowland – Head Coach, University of Florida

“Still very young but has quite a lot of charm.”


Dana (Dobransky) Duckworth – Head coach, University of Alabama



Megan (McCunniff) Marsden – Head coach, University of Utah

Continue reading When NCAA Coaches Were Gymnasts

The Wolf Turns of Nationals, 2017 Edition

Another year, another batch of wolf turns to find hilarious.

Mastering screwing up a wolf turn is a strange, particular art. The ways the wolf turn can go wrong are unceasingly numerous and intricate, each layer of fiascos more complex than the last. Much like an onion. Because you’re already crying.

And so we begin this year’s countdown of the best wolf turns nationals had to offer.

#10: The “Just a Li’l Bit of Barf”

A triple wolf turn is enough to make even the most experienced sailors hurl off starboard.

Better out than in.

#9: The Texas Dreams “Stand and Deliver”

There’s no need to bow afterward, ma’am.

If I squat at the end, it’s like I was squatting the whole time.

Inching up into in a wall sit and scooting around is for credit!

How many turns was that? Two? Four? When should I stop and stand up…AHH TOO LATE THERE’S NO TIME. Continue reading The Wolf Turns of Nationals, 2017 Edition

All the Produnovas, Ranked


Herein I have ranked all 33 extant Produnova vaults, with points awarded for originally, virtuosity, artistic interpretation, hilarity, and whether or not you’re dead afterward.

1. Elena Produnova, 1999 Universiade

Obviously. The only good one ever done. She really only loses points for the hop forward and the lack of shaved stripes in her eyebrow that she would develop by 2000, but those are both quite minor deductions.

2. Elena Produnova, 1999 Worlds Event Final

A less heralded showing but one worthy of recognition since Produnova basically invented the Butt-a-Prod with this performance. The Butt-a-Prod is an extremely important vault in its own right, as we’ll see.

Produnova, however, has the gall not even to booty-scrape here because of her extreme lower-body power, so it cannot be credited as a true Butt-a-Prod.

3. Dipa Karmakar, 2016 Rio Test Event Qualification

The perfection of the Butt-a-Prod medium is shown in this vault, expertly maintaining the paradox of somehow both falling and sticking at the same time.

Magic. And by magic, I mean immediate knee replacement surgery.

4. Dipa Karmakar, 2015 Worlds Event Finals

Not quite the same perfection of Butt-a-Prod reached here since both the fall phase and the ripping-femur-out-of-socket phase of the vault are slightly more prolonged. She does still manage to attain the “Did I fall? Did I stick? It’s a SECRETTTTTT,” so it nonetheless ranks quite well.

5. Dipa Karmakar, 2015 Asian Championships

In this instance, Karmakar eschewed the Butt-a-Prod for a traditional Produnova, so I guess we’ll allow it. Barely…

Quite significantly, there is no booty-scrape and she did not break any limbs or open a rip in the spacetime continuum with a projectile patella. Continue reading All the Produnovas, Ranked

American Dancing

Today’s dance lesson comes courtesy of guest instructors Kerri and Kristen, who will provide a few easy steps to get even the most anvil-footed beginners moving like champions.

Step 1: Accept death

Step 2: Literally just give up

Step 3: It’s over

Step 4: Pray

“In the name of the Father, the Cornrow, and the Holy Mrs. Strauss.”

Step 5: Warm up those wrists

The American uses all parts of the wrist.

It is sacred in their culture.

Step 6: Know where your foot is, kind of

Continue reading American Dancing

Aliya’s Baby 2036

Breaking news. We have just learned that, earlier this week, Aliya Mustafina gave birth to a daughter.

Well, according to Valentina this happened. So that probably means Valentina cut open the innards of a bat, added some powdered broken dreams, and the arrangement of the goop foretold the birth of an Olympic champion.

Meanwhile, Aliya ate a mango and sneezed and was like, “She said my uterus did what?”

It’s currently unclear whether the baby will be winning Olympic gold in the all-around or just the uneven bars, but the latest training videos indicate that baby Svetlana Mostepanova Omelianchik Zaitseva’s dismount work is coming along quite nicely.

UPDATE (10:21pm Moscow Time): Russian media is now reporting that Mustafina managed to connect the birth out of an Onodi for two tenths, though Nellie Kim still has to rule as to whether that truly fulfills the acro series requirement.

It’s a tough one because, if the baby displays rebounding action, does Aliya get credit by proxy? Or does only the baby get the composition requirement?

Here is Aliya training the Onodi + birth series as long ago as 2014.

UPDATE (12:17am Moscow Time): Valentina just appeared in a cloud of smoke behind a lectern to announce that she has stolen the baby, pointing to a contract signed by Aliya in 2009 while singing a lullaby to a rabbit in a meadow in which Aliya promised all children in perpetuity to Valentina should she make Aliya “the most confident and glorious of all queens.”

Continue reading Aliya’s Baby 2036