Category Archives: Great Moments in Gymnastics

Vampires and Nadia Comaneci: The Karolyi Story

Now, listen to the audio version of this post.


Here, at the sunset of Martha Karolyi’s career, NBC has bestowed a wondrous gift upon your disgusting peasant life. It’s the 51-minute, totally journalismy, investigative documentary you always wanted, answering every question you ever had about the Karolyis.

As long as those questions include “How awesome are the Karolyis? A lot?” and zero other questions.

It’s an extraordinary addition to the canon, a valuable prequel to recent blockbuster The Ranch. All the big superhero franchises have prequels, and the Karolyis are no different. In this installment, we learn the history of how Bela, Martha, and Howard Stark joined forces to defeat Hydra. (Actually, that would have been a lot better.)

Please note that, contrary to what you may have read, this piece is not called Karolyi. It’s called KAROLYI. It must be shouted. Like the screams that wake Kristie Phillips every full moon. I’m pretty sure that’s also Bela’s signature. KAROLYI.

Why exactly are we starting with Bela and Martha taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the snows of Transylvania while Martha is mummified in 198 layers and praying for the sweet release of death?


Because you needed a new lock screen image and this is preposterous? (JUST WHY)

No. Because this…is a love story.

But is it though? Because I thought it was about gymnastics.

NOPE. LOVE STORY. This is the story of those two legendary star-crossed lovers, Bela and Martha, and how their love saved…scrunchies and capitalism? Or something?

Because when I think romance, I think Bela Karolyi.

Their life is basically You’ve Got Notting Love Actually. Continue reading Vampires and Nadia Comaneci: The Karolyi Story


The Legend of Aliya and the Acro Series

August 11, 2016.

A Thursday.

By all accounts, a perfectly ordinary Thursday.

But for beloved defender of the kingdom Aliya Sparkle-Hair, it was the day she would become a legend. It was the day she would march into the women’s all-around final, gaze up at the glowering, blood-encrusted maw of that notorious villain Actually Doing An Acro Series, and utter those brave, immortal words, “NOT. TODAY.”

Not all heroes have swords, we learned from Aliya, and sometimes the strongest choice a hero can make in the face of a villain is to do nothing at all. (Like literally nothing. She didn’t even come close.)

No, Aliya Mustafina did not perform acrobatic series that day, or even attempt one, but if bravery, integrity, and the quest for justice  were composition requirements, she would receive All. Five. Tenths.

But how did we get here? How did we reach such depths in this epic conflict?

It wasn’t always this way. Like most hero-villain duos, Aliya and Actually Doing An Acro Series were not so different at first. Some might say, even friends.


They laughed and played, frolicking through the lush meadows of the Sparkle-Hair kingdom, blithely ignorant of the fierce battles that would await them in the coming years.

It was not until 2012 that Actually Doing An Acro Series began to reveal her true nature, to expose her jealousy and aggression through her pattern of petty efforts to take down the rightful queen.

But like any proper monarch, Aliya Sparkle-Hair simply smiled, adjusted, and endured.


Sadly, Actually Doing An Acro Series’ schemes only grew more insidious with each passing year, and our hero Aliya was left with few options.


“Whatever,” she said. “Your mom’s face doesn’t display true rebounding action.” Continue reading The Legend of Aliya and the Acro Series

Bronze Is The New Gold: The Bronze Movie Giveaway!


I have them!

And they’re for you!

Today may officially be the start of men’s Olympic podium training, but…come on.


Much more importantly, the gymnastics movie of our time, The Bronze, is out on DVD and Blu-Ray. Now. RIGHT NOW.

BUT WAIT. In honor of the release, the good people at The Bronze have provided me with two gift packages to give to two of you lucky readers, each package including a Blu-Ray copy of the movie, an Olympic Viewing Kit with all kinds of The Bronze-themed swag, and a bunch of special mystery prizes! (Good ones. Wardrobe and props from the movie.)

Here’s what you need to do to win all this cool stuff/my eternal friendship: Leave a comment (one comment) on this post stating your all-time favorite Olympic bronze medal performance.

And that’s it. At the end of women’s qualification day (August 7th, 9:00 ET/6:00 PT), I will pick the two most attractive people, and they’ll be the winners. Just kidding. This isn’t life. It’ll be random.

Also, be sure to include your (non-public) email in the email field when you leave your comment so that I can, you know, contact you about your victory.


American Horror Story: The Ranch

Now, listen to the audio version of this post.

So, this happened. Don’t pretend it didn’t.

On the first day of women’s nationals, NBC brought us a protracted Bela gargle masquerading as a profile of how the Karolyi ranch has shaped the last nine months of American gymnastics, starring Laurie Hernandez, that picture of Kerri Strug, and some of a camel.

Let’s begin, shall we?

The voice of Kristen Bell greets us to tell us that it has been a year since her best friend, Lilly Kane, was murdered.

Probably at the ranch.

As Kristen explains, there’s a place that’s known all around the world simply as “Martha’s Secret Forest Murder Camp.” Or, I mean, “The Ranch.” Yeah, that’s it. That’s what everyone calls it. Nothing else.

It welcomes dreams, desires, dedication, and like not even that many torn ACLs anymore I swear.

Meanwhile, Bela is busy disposing of the body.

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Unckie Bela is just sort of committing random and unnecessary acts of deforestation—if a tree falls in the forest, does it say, “YOU CAN DO IT”?—while sliding into your nightmares like…


BA-dum. BA-dum, BA-dum.

Apparently, Bela is the star of gymnastics, which is why it’s important to profile him for 98% this piece even though he has nothing to do with the current program or gymnasts and has basically been dead for 10 years. Don’t forget your history, guys. He’s important. “I coached Mary Lou, and Kim, and what-do-you-call-her, and the ugly one.” Thanks, Bela. OH THE MEMORIES.

Also, did Bela just try to name Carly in that list of his champion gymnasts?

Although to be fair, I couldn’t tell if he said “Carly” or “Grlrgly.” Each as likely as the other.

Martha is also here. WHO?

We catch up with Martha Claus as she emerges from her glorious forest palace, clutching a list of who has been naughty and who has been thin.

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This is also our first introduction to Kristen Bell’s fabulous and self-consciously accurate pronunciation of Martha. She hits that t like a BOSS. That’s like how Dominique Moceanu pronounces it, except without the cauldron of roiling magma. Continue reading American Horror Story: The Ranch

When Wolf Turns Go Bad

The fear.

The anger.

No matter where we come from, no matter who we are, all humans are bound together by the irrepressible storm of pain and fury we experience whenever anyone assumes the telltale position.

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The wolf turn.

Man’s greatest predator.

Our fear of it is instinctive, animalistic, coded in our DNA. Like all primates, human beings inherently mistrust the wolf turn as a defense mechanism to ensure eye preservation. It’s just too dangerous. Too unflattering. In all contexts. Always. For everyone. There’s a reason no one looks at the Mona Lisa and says, “This would be nicer if she were squatting.”

But I believe we can be better than this. We can rise above our basest instincts and, through a process of exposure therapy, shrug off our irrational fear of the wolf and embrace it for what it truly is: a hilarious disasterpiece that may be gymnastics’ greatest gift of all.

And with so much material, how could we ever tire of our newest friend?

At Secret Classic alone, it brought us the old Texas two-step…

That was a double. What? Shut up.
Ending pose!

The ingredients are 1.5 cups wolf turn, and half a cup “grandma’s vertigo is getting worse.”

The 1.5 wolf turn can also be connected directly to Surfin’ USA for 0.2 CV.

Got it, got it, got it, got it, STOP CRAP. Continue reading When Wolf Turns Go Bad

Great Moments in Beam Choreography

End of post.

While Catalina’s attempt to explain the schematics of her plan for a space railroad may be the gold standard, Ponor is far from the only member of the “Is this…what is this?” beam hall of fame. The US system has been churning out champions left and right for years and years.

For artistry. We do so much for artistry. And has it ever said thank you? Even once? Pssh.

I mean, who can forget The Legend of Ol’ Flappy?

Fly away home, Nastia. Fly away home.

Like any great artist, she inspired a generation who wanted to be just like her.

Nope. Fallen out of the nest.

We all remember where we were the first time we saw this revelation.

Scholars have hotly debated the author’s intent in this piece since its debut, and they may never stop. Is she advertising an old-people smoothie juicer? Milking a hover-cow? Explaining how many Memmels it takes to screw in a lightbulb? (Four?) Perhaps it’s intentionally ambiguous. For art.

Continue reading Great Moments in Beam Choreography