Category Archives: Meet Recap

2016 Olympic Trials Part 1: The Night of Uber Important Water Cups

The competition may be over, but NBC’s coverage is forever. Chilling. The hard truths.

As I wallowed in the stands in San Jose, painfully cut off from the sage judgment of Trautwig and his merry band of colored shapes, I felt lost, bereft, confused. Entirely powerless to interpret the events unfolding before me. Was that disaster “ginormous” or “of epic proportions”? Is Laurie Hernandez “hot stuff” or “one fun kid”? I JUST DON’T KNOW. I could only sit and imagine what eloquent turns of phrase were being inflicted upon the audience at that very moment.

Now, through the magic of the internet, I am in the dark no longer. Won’t you join me for day 1? Once more, into the flames.

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Christ the Redeemer Statue: 1, Brenna Dowell: 0

As the broadcast begins, Trautwig the Redeemer transforms back into his human form to welcome us to San Jose, the Jan Brady of California, and introduce the only three gymnasts competing for spots on the five-woman Olympic team. LOCKS!

He presents Simone Biles, who is good, Gabby Douglas, who is literal trash, and Aly Raisman, who failed like a rotten failure in the all-around in 2012. Because that’s her defining career moment. Continue reading 2016 Olympic Trials Part 1: The Night of Uber Important Water Cups

Euros 2016: Aliya Hits When Aliya Wants

European Championships – Senior women’s qualification

-In qualification, Great Britain edged Russia by a mere tenth to advance to the team final in 1st place. I have to say I’m a bit surprised it ended up being as close as it was given the various exhumed corpses Russia was forced to prop up with broomsticks, put some lipstick and eyelashes on, and throw onto the apparatuses.At the same time, GB did not have Queen of Varna Ellie Downie competing bars or beam, didn’t get the necessary bars score from Ruby Harrold, and had to count a beam fall from Fragapane on her exact-sphere with a full twist. Is “frightened armadillo ball” one of the acro shapes?

-Team GB will expect to do a bit better on bars and beam in the team final but did dominate floor, outscoring all the other teams by several billion points and not looking like they were about to die with every turn. Fragapane and Harrold showed quite impressive control in tumbling, and Downie scored well enough to get into the floor final in spite of a couple minorly iffy landings and going OOB on her Flying Dos Santos. On floor, pretty much every other team was going, “1 1/3 Y spin, stumble, CREDIT PLEASE????” and the judges were going, “No…”

-Russia also suffered a fall on beam when Tutkhalyan came off on her full, causing Valentina to pull out her wand and blast Seda’s name off the Black family tapestry once and for all. Russia did come back with some untouchable bars routines to close the gap with Great Britain, and in a bit of a surprise there, Mustafina and Melnikova beat Spiridonova, two-perring her out of her bars final and not helping Spiridonova’s Olympic team chances even a little bit.

-Now, let’s talk about Mustafina. In typical Aliya fashion, she appeared at podium training earlier in the week looking like she has been Anastasia Romanov this whole time and just emerged from 100 years spent living in a series of underground tunnels. She definitely had all the plagues and might have been a baby opossum in a leotard. Continue reading Euros 2016: Aliya Hits When Aliya Wants

1996 Team Final: And She Did It On Two Legs

There’s something in the air on this warm Olympic night. Do you feel it?

Well do ya, punk?

What exactly is in the air is left open to the viewer’s interpretation. But I feel like it’s probably swine flu.

Unless doing a voiceover like a sonorous predator who makes everyone want to take 100 showers and become an arsonist is airborne now, because then it’s definitely that.

Really, who wrote this, and how did it get approved…by a person?

“Little girls dancing. DO YOU SEE?”

dancingforgold

Also, hi.

Amanda Borden – 19
Dominique Dawes – 19
Shannon Miller – 19
Amy Chow – 18
Kerri Strug – 18
Jaycie Phelps – 16
Dominique Moceanu – 14

You know that thing where you refer to a bunch of college freshmen as “little girls”? Like how that happens and isn’t just the creepiest thing anyone has ever done?

Nooners

Hello darkness, my old friend.

Highlights of compulsories include Kerri Strug being so Olympics that Martha surpasses neck-pinch and goes straight for the chokehold. Never seen since. #Simonegoals.

And how can we forget innertube patient zero?
domi

“RUSSIA. No longer the specter of evil.” Christ. Who dredged up Cold War McGullicuddy for the broadcast? No oversimplification of complex geopolitical situations through the use of uncomfortable jingoism here…

USA = HEROES, Russia = EVIL RED COMMIE ARMY OF UNGRATEFUL NON-SMILING SKANKS KHORKINA. Got it.

More importantly,
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…WTF?

Like…how is this even a situation? Why are you getting a calf massage from a medieval peasant draped in a rag toga while posing like the damn Cleopatra? What world is this?

As for Romania, all of their families are super dead or whatever, but “the blade of grief keeps them strong.” Phew. I was worried about how Romania would be shoehorned into this definitely-a-war, but Grief Blades. Got it. ALL THE GRIEF BLADES. SLAYYYYY…?

“Always Romania’s shining stars. Their prayers this evening are to keep the legacy of Nadia forever.”

Womp, womp.

I guess the Romanians just don’t have enough GRIEF BLADES these days.

What’s that I hear? “Simple Gifts” is swelling to 11? That can only mean one thing: the arrival of the Good Guys Team, a.k.a. the fresh-faced, happy-American-little-girl, living-parent-having, non-commie, non-background-smokestacks, non-evil TEAM USA PERFECT.

There’s something in the air this warm Olympic night.

Farts?

“Little girls dancing for gold.”

Dawes

Shannon

I SAID LITTLE GIRLS DANCING FOR GOLD! NOW BE A LITTLE GIRL. DANCE LITTLE GIRL. DANCE!

Welcome to the arena, featuring the cheering of a loud, energetic, and engaged crowd! What a wonderful moment for gymnas…I mean, oh, how dare those ignorant KFC-guzzling blue whales viciously steal the Russians’ rightful gold with their American caterwauling that definitely did it. Yeah. That.

“Marching as to war, these seven little girls.”

Oh, was it not clear that we’re making this into a war? Because it’s a war. Did you think it was a sporting event? That wouldn’t be exciting. SHOOT THE BAD RUSSIANS WITH YOUR BOMB-GUNS, DOMI! DO IT FOR MURICA!

domi

“Little girls” count: 4

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@MLTsSleevelessTurtleneck

And now, the most important topic of the day: skirt or massive 1996 shorts? The world may never know.
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Either way, STYLE ICON.

AHHHHH! IT’S TIME TO INTRODUCE TEAM USA YOU GUYS!!!

“Dominique Moceanu. Kerri Strug. Dominique Dawes. Amy Chow. Shannon Miller. EIGHT-HOUR PAUSE. jayciephelpsamandaborden.”

That was telling.

We finally meet Cold War McGullicuddy in the flesh, joined by a prepubescent Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegel. Why are their voices so high? Tim is the only boy in the choir who’s still an alto, and Elfi just sounds like a little sparrow.

Tonight’s guest star is Nadia Comaneci, seen here in the role of the woman who goes back to work at the ad agency after having kids and that’s the plot of the movie because of early 90s.

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Nadia thinks the 1100 broken legs might hurt the Romanians. Well I’ll be.

To the meet! Continue reading 1996 Team Final: And She Did It On Two Legs

2008 Olympic Trials Part 2: The Landmark Case of Bieger v. Sloan

Onward to night two!

The final chance for these poor vagrants and wandering hobos to impress the WATCHFUL EYES OF MARTHA KAROLYI (not Martha, just her disembodied, sentient pair of eyes floating around the arena) before the team is…oh, wait. There’s still a selection camp after this. And then a prep camp. What fun. My legs aren’t bedazzled kindling wrapped in Shayla’s Little Orphan Annie ribbon. What are you talking about?

The fact that those reclaimed bird limbs that Nastia charitably calls her joints stayed intact through this whole process and into the Olympics remains a miracle to me. Praise be to Prod’s shaved eyebrow stripe.

BUT IT’S STILL THE LAST CHANCE.

toprove

Incomplete sentence. To prove what? To prove a theorem? To prove bread? Never explained. No other words are used. Just “TO PROVE.”

“Earning a spot on the Olympic team is one of the most important things these girls have to accomplish.”

One of? Martha, I’m disappointed in you. We all know it’s the only important thing. That’s how you can tell Martha did not have script approval here. I suppose it is an improvement over the original draft, “If Alicia falls on beam, I will burn her family.”

“If you’re not able to perform under these situations, then you obviously would not be the right player.” PLAYER? Martha. Come on. You’re falling apart around here. You’re not some mouth-breathing NCAA bro-mmentator named Chert who usually does lacrosse games. You know they’re called gymnasts.

We’re treated to the highlights of night one, which include Nastia and Shawn hugging each other and that’s all. You know, the important part.

Much like a TGIF program of the 90s, an opening credit sequence is used reintroduce us to the cast of characters in case our small child brains have forgotten who they are since yesterday.

Rachel

Shayla wishes she were just flinging that menu down anywhere like Aunt Rachel. This is why no one ever ate at Rachel’s Place.

The “players” are even broken up into helpful categories: On The Cusp, As Expected, and The Comeback. You know, the three categories. Like when political pollsters call and ask you to rate a candidate’s favorability on a scale of On The Cusp to The Comeback.

Shayla, Sam, Bridget, and Ivana are all shown doing various levels of terribly to reinforce that they’re on the cusp because of sucking and being not special like Nastia. After the tenor of night one, I’m kind of surprised Ivana got On The Cusp, instead of being placed in her own YOU SUCK AND WE HATE YOU, IVANA category.

asexpected

Nastia’s wedgie…AS EXPECTED. “Yep, that’s the one. Use that shot.”

Russian DNA and Cereal Box continue being part of a balanced breakfast, but they’ll also be joined on the team by THE COMEBACK, meaning Alicia and Chellsie.

What exactly is Alicia supposed to be coming back from? Competing at the last three consecutive world championships? WOW, I can’t wait for Simone’s comeback this year, you guys! Alicia is coming back from…falling on beam once four years ago? SUCH A COMEBACK. Continue reading 2008 Olympic Trials Part 2: The Landmark Case of Bieger v. Sloan

2008 Olympic Trials Part 1: THERE IS NO NEXT YEAR, Except Next Year

Remember that time I decided to relive recent US Olympic Trials history and then abruptly stopped after two cycles? Well, I do. Sort of. Now. With the 2016 Trials suddenly just two months away (wait, what???), it’s time to get back to business.

2008!

Youtube’s offerings for NBC’s 2008 Trials broadcast are sporadic and wildly unhelpful, so we already feel right at home. The scene has been set.

You can watch some of the meet following part one here, but for the rest you may simply have to rely on me to walk you through the action with my brilliantly poetic and definitely true-to-life account of the broadcast. That is, unless you remember it minute-for-minute, which is also possible.

Gather ‘round, children, for it’s time to begin. Once upon a time, many iOS updates ago, there was a quadrennium called 2008.

Frigid and starving, we were forced to abandon the homeland we knew and strike off into the new world, leaving behind our various Bhardwajs and McCools and Pattersons and ultimately just agreeing to disagree with Kupets’s floor routine by accepting it as part of life’s varied and colorful experiences.

kupets

Who can sayyyyyyy if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been chaaaaaanged…for gooooood.

What luck, then, to learn that this new world was full of lush beauty, and soon we were introduced to all two of the gymnasts who competed during the year 2008, Iowa’s very own sentient pair of American flag pants, Shawndolyn Johnson, and some frrrreigner who seems like she’s probably a bitch. We truly are home.

Welcoming us to 2008 is the jaded, eternally half-sarcastic whirr of Costasbot 3000, who has been exhumed from his regeneration capsule and de-gooped for the occasion.

Discussion question: What do we think Costas did to get plopped in the dunce corner and saddled with Bela-herding duty for the 2008 Olympics? I can only assume he waterboarded an intern or whipped a pork tenderloin at Ann Curry again because little else would merit such public indignity and corporal punishment.

The first routine of the evening is Shawn Johnson taping her foot. 16.800.

Aww, isn’t she just the wholesomest all-American sweetheart Iowa smile corn-fed Wheaties butter sculpture?

Shawn2008tape

Aaaabove the fruuuuuited plainnnnn. Amerrrrrrrica. Amerrrrrrrica.

Meanwhile, Nastia just resting-bitch-faced the town of Des Moines to dust like some Russian-born Russian from Russiagrad who’s totally Russian and not America’s sweetheart at all. Did we mention she was born in Russia? Ugh. Nastia. Why can’t you be more from Iowa? 14.350. Continue reading 2008 Olympic Trials Part 1: THERE IS NO NEXT YEAR, Except Next Year

Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Fixed It

Sadly, the world championship has come and gone for another year, like a fleeting spurt from a stage-mounted flamethrower that you’re convinced is going to singe Max Whitlock in the everywhere. But it was a good one! From the delectably OTT pomp and circumstance of the event production, to the avalanche of live coverage being injected into our eye sockets all throughout each day (thanks USAG!), to Maurice Lardo, to that thing where that small fishing village won the bars final for some reason, this ranks as the most entertaining world championship in memory. Everyone’s memory. I tapped into all of them, so I know. And, frankly, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

A little wistful? A little wistful. So, now that we’ll never again get to ro-TAINT, ro-TAINT—which is what it sounded like, a bunch of children just yelling TAINT—or wait with bated breath to find out whether Glasgow is ready or not (I didn’t say I’d miss all of it), that means we have just two short months left to prepare with catlike compulsive licking for the upcoming NCAA season and for remembering that a 10 is, like, good and wobbles are, like, a problem. Freshman previews are around the corner, probably.

But there’s still one more day of competition to break down until it weeps for mercy, so let’s get into it.

-The big bad news is that Oleg Stepko did not acquiesce to wearing his I-just-had-sex-with-a-volcano lava-smear singlet from the European Games, but thankfully, he did remind us that just because you cut your hair with half a stolen blender, doesn’t mean you can’t be a star. Check your judgment at the door, you worthless moron.

-Oleg S’s hair and dystopian tattooscape carried him through to a bronze on pbars and a spot in the Olympics among an exceptionally high-quality pbars field that did this weird thing where all the routines were good and impressive, and the result came down to small things like hesitations in handstands and steps on landing. Almost like an event final, or something. Leyva had just a couple breaks in form, which was enough to shove him all the way down to sixth, and Nile Wilson had the gall to be just fine and got basically a 2.

-Speaking of exactly the opposite of that, beam. Let’s face it, that beam final was a steaming landfill covered in mayonnaise on a hot summer day. The people who fell were everybody. I fell during that beam final, and I was in bed. (I’m very talented.) Medals were awarded to the people who successfully completed routines, because of ACCOMPLISHMENT, minus Victoria Komova, who stayed on the beam but went Full Weeble on every acro skill, which was doubly disappointing because it both took her out of the medals and struck a devastating blow to the “Vika has no fight!” narrative because she kind of stayed on. BUT NOW WHAT WILL WE SAY WHEN SHE FALLS???? Oh right. Still that, because we’ll forget about this in 11 seconds and go right back to what we thought before. Yay, ignoring evidence.

-Pauline Schaefer and Sanne Wevers both had a number of wobbles and breaks, which means congratulations, you’re the best. Schaefer hung on for bronze, while Wevers spinderella-ed her way to silver. Meanwhile, the one competitor who hit a real routine without looking as though a ghost was passing through her center of gravity at every moment, one Dr. Biles, hopped to gold by a casual full point. The beam final was basically just The Simone and Nope Show.
Continue reading Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Fixed It

Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Broke the Medal Stand

Obviously, we’re starting with uneven bars. Let’s just get that sarcastic leprechaun’s fever dream out of the way right now. Here’s how it went down.

This morning, Nellie Kim met with all the women’s judges to tell them of her plans for a passage of one-legged, no-look acro elements from side position in releve requirement for beam, because TEH ARTISTRY, at which point the judges robbed a Xanax truck at gunpoint, downed all of it, then hosed themselves into the uneven bars final going, “8.7 EXECUTION PROBABLY. EVERYONE TASTES LIKE WINNERS [coma].”

Everyone tastes like winners, indeed. Except for Gabby Douglas, apparently, since the judges looked at her cleanest-routine-of-the-final and went “Not quite. BOOP.”

But notwithstanding Gabby and Sophie Scheder, who sadly got the rickets in the middle of her dismount and temporarily forgot what walking is, the judges thought it would be funny (not ha-ha funny, more like sylvia-plath funny), if they just gave everyone and everything, all the flora and fauna, the exact same score. Because who the hell cares? Not us! Great. Fun. So once Fan Yilin got a 15.366, they said “Bingo, there’s the one” and conferenced for several short life cycles of a sea turtle about how to get Komova’s score down to 15.366. And with that never-say-die attitude they’re so famous for, they did it! Because of…sure. And…reasons. Komova thought that was some hilarious bullshit. Throughout the whole tie process, from getting her shut-up-nonsense-steroid-conspiracy of a score to being forced to hop up on that sister-wives medal stand with everyone else, she was basically this.

And once they got Komova in the tie, why not get Kocian and Spiridonova into the mix too? I CAN THINK OF NO REASON. This is such a fun game of Electronic Talking Fuck It! You stepped? That’s fine. You missed some handstands in there? That’s fine. 15.366! It’s a party! Four golds! We’re doing our jobs and there’s no problem with this! We definitely won’t run out of medals and won’t have to invite tomorrow’s winners onto the podium to give them a scrap of notebook paper with “Redeemable for one Mother’s Day present” on it.

Continue reading Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Broke the Medal Stand

Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Broke Everything I’ve Ever Loved

Well, there we have it. The annual Kohei has Koheied for another Kohei, and Kohei managed to Kohei through all six Koheis and Kohei the gold Kohei by Kohei points. In case that was unclear, Kohei “I, like, invented Simone” Uchimura did this thing where he pops out of a golden lamp, does all the perfects, and then laughs at all those pathetic sloths with leprosy that can barely even get a 90. Kohei persisted in being so much more un-terrible than everyone else that he physically died from lack of competition in the middle of his rings routine and still sent everyone else to the sadness corner by winning his 84th world championship and becoming sultan of hair and everything.

After this competition, if Kohei doesn’t fill a bathtub with gold medals and then take a picture of himself in it wearing only a captain’s hat while holding a cigar and a snifter of brandy with a parrot on his shoulder, then he and I have officially nothing in common.

[Spot reserved for Kohei Bathtub Pirate. Oh, I can wait……]

Hm. You want to play underwater charades? One word, five syllables? Talk to the hand because my finger is busy? Hi mom, but give me a minute? Hit me blisters, one more time? I just can’t crack your code.

-But memo to the world championship: you need to pick yourself up off of the snooze pile and pull your shit together. For a competition that started out with such promise of life-enforcing ridiculousness (remember when Romania got possessed by all those poltergeists on bars and got 11s? REMEMBER????), it has turned into a stale rehashing of three-year-old storylines these last few days. This isn’t Gossip Girl, you know. We have standards.

-The event finals really better bring out the big drama to make up for all this predictable Kohei/Simone will-they-won’t-they nonsense. At least give us a murder mystery, or a fake pregnancy, or an uneven bars mount, or an amnesiac quintuplet who bursts open the doors of the balance beam final and goes, “I’M THE REAL SANNE WEVERS! THAT’S AN IMPOSTOR!” Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so. But let’s get into the men’s AA.
Continue reading Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Broke Everything I’ve Ever Loved

Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Broke Everyone Else’s Spirit

Was I the only one who didn’t know that Simone Biles is a space scientist? I feel like her PhD in Astronomical Beatdowns should play a bigger part in profile pieces about her. Just a note heading to the Olympics. Today, Dr. Biles went out to conduct some field research into how much bacon grease a preposterous alien space queen can rub on her feet before a meet and still beat all y’all serfs by an obscene margin. The study is ongoing, but the results we obtained today are very encouraging and indicate that the original hypothesis of 20 handfuls might be quite low.

Should any other gymnasts even bother having dreams anymore? That’s not for me to say, but absolutely not.

You see this?

And this?

You’re welcome. Have fun handing me my scepter.

-But the major conundrum confounding the space-science world lately has been just how many times Simone could fall and still win a world championship. Right now, it’s looking like the answer is two instead of the previously prevailing theory of SHUT UP A BILLION QUEEEEEEN [faint], proposed by Nichols, Me, et al. Simone didn’t fall today (there are still a lot of experiments to do be done in this field; we’re just scratching the surface of what we can learn), but her mistakes across three events probably combined to equal a fall, and she still won by a full point, then hugged a thousand pandas, ran into a nest of hipster beards and cured all of them, and eradicated the world of all LinkedIn requests. She’s basically a Marvel hero.
Continue reading Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Broke Everyone Else’s Spirit

Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Broke the Good China

With the US women, Simone the Conqueror, and Kohei Maximus all coming into this competition as ACME-anvil-sized favorites for three of the four major titles, the men’s team final was under a lot of pressure to achieve that elusive goal of being a slightly compelling sporting event, instead of a “Kim Jong Un challenges you to badminton”-style foregone conclusion. Tough task. But boy, it delivered like a raven bringing news of the pox.

We’ll all remember where we were when Kohei Uchimura totally trolled the entire world and only pretended to throw away the gold medal on high bar but then popped out from behind a bush and was like, “HA HA, I’M THE BEST!”

Coming into 2015, China had won the last 1207 consecutive team titles, dating back to the days when the pbars were elephant tusks and the vault was just a pile of scorched witch carcasses. And in spite of Japan being, you know, clearly several times better than China these last couple years (WHAT HOW DARE YOU), China learned in 2014 that they could pretty much just mobility-scooter their way down the vault runway, ask the high bar for a bedtime story, and then hand Bruno Grandi a drawing of a family holding hands and go, “CHAMPIONSHIP PLEASE.” So why would anything different happen this time? Perhaps that’s what lulled China into a false sense of security.
-China was so hooked on championships to start the meet that Xiao Ruoteng suggested everyone jump up for a rousing game of The Pommel Horse Is Lava Now. The rules are as follows: the pommel horse is lava. That’s pretty much it. Sounds fun, right? Nope. Terrible. Two falls later, and coupled with some floor routines suffering from a little bit of “this body ain’t big enough for the both of us” legs, China basically needed Japan to join a hippie commune never to be heard from again mid-vault to have any chance at title #1208.

Continue reading Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Broke the Good China