Category Archives: Meet Recap

European Championship – Event Finals Day 2

And thus, the European Championship comes to an end for another year. We’ve grown so much over the past five days. Last week at this time, we were all just little Olegs, tiny egg children gazing up at the world from our too-big pajamas with wide-eyed wonderment, and now we’re full-grown Berkis, all too aware of the unjust cruelty of a cold, cold world.

Just imagine…when we began, we didn’t even know that Kyla Roos had switched her nationality to Toorkey, a giant rabbit child was coming to eat our families, or that “I’m going to record an electronic version of ‘Que Sera Sera,’ and it will be a D+,” is a sentence a human person would say. So young. So naive.

But, before we part, we have several more lessons of the adult world to learn from the remaining five event finals. So, grab your face mask, your wooden stake, your onions, and your emergency contact information, because we start with men’s “vault.”

Men’s Body Chuck

First, by way of a social PSA, we really need to discuss the epidemic that is Artur Dalaloyan.

Young people these days are bombarded with constant images of his perfect TTY and his glorious twisting form, where he sticks landings and ascends directly into the sky to join Mount Olympus as a stream of rainbow-colored sour candies rains out of all his orifices. And yes, his vaulting is gorgeous, but it’s just one type of vaulting, and it’s not realistic for most people. To set him up as though he reflects a common level of vaulting for others to strive to achieve can lead to so many unrealistic expectations and body image problems among preteens and other vaulters.

Dalaloyan opened the Body Chuck final like a vicious tease, tricking us poor hopeful wretches who don’t know any better into believing that the days of watching experimental surgeries from the 1760s masquerading as a gymnastics event were finally behind us. Continue reading European Championship – Event Finals Day 2


European Championship – Event Finals Day 1

The first lesson learned from today’s opening batch of event finals is not to wake up in the middle of the night to watch gymnastics and then try to go back to sleep, because if you do, you will have a dream where Julia Roberts cuts out your tongue.

Don’t worry about it.

But worry about it a little bit.

Anyway, the event finals began as they always do: with you in a groggy haze through the majority of the men’s tumbling and one Japanese handstand final.

Men’s Tumbling and One Japanese Handstand
The most important thing about this final is not to even pretend you understand the execution scores. Today’s scores were brought to you by charitable donations from the John D. and Catherine T. Blind-ass Crackwhore Foundation, Donald and Darlene Alcoholism, the Corporation for Public Da Fuq, and meth heads like you.

Fortunately, a five-year-old’s birthday party named Marian Dragulescu was able to transcend this drug-addled world order by downing his everlasting-youth potion, throwing his walker away, not tumbling like dehydration brought to life, and being Romanian. This allowed him to win his ∞ international floor title and MOMMY I GO VROOM VROOM LIKE AIRPLANE all the way up to the top of the podium.

Other medal contenders were not so lucky. Rayderley Zapata went all “my short landings do not define the beauty of my spirit” across the entirety of the arena, while Dom Cunningham hit a rather composed and precise routine compared to most, and the judges were like, “Thank you for your time, Mona [hiccup].”

Instead, taking silver was Dmitri Lankin, heretofore best known for his head being the shape of an exact cube, like a cartoon cat that got its face stuck in a tin of anchovies.

Anchovy Cat opened his floor routine with a fantastic triple back, followed by CASE DISMISSED YOU’RE FREE TO GO. That meant he could dance around a maypole on his second pass like a common farm girl and it didn’t count even a little bit. As the announcer told us, “He was so high to begin this competition,” getting his notes on Lankin mixed up with Judge # All of Them.

Last but definitely more important than anyone you’ve ever met, the gymternet’s future ex-husband Alex Shatilov decided not to ruin all hope for the future and chose not to throw away our patient love by (TWIST) hitting a whole routine (the whole thing! All the passes!), ensuring that no one had to hurl any radiators through any plate-glass windows, which is just good for the crime rate.

I don’t want to nestle in his beard like Thumbelina. You want to nestle in his beard like Thumbelina.

Just missing out on the podium was the true hero of these finals, the song choices. The songs were hand-selected for each gymnast after a hearty spin of the Wheel of Stereotypes. That’s how Artem Dolgopyat got “Hava Nagila” because of…name a Jewish thing. Ray Zapata got “Y Viva España” because of authentic Spanish culture, Coline Devillard got the arena announcer saying, “Mime in a beret holding a baguette” over and over again, and Teja Belak got “Happy Birthday” because either it’s her birthday or the event organizers were like, “Eff this, Slovenia doesn’t have a song.”

It’s the only time I’ve wished the US could compete in this meet, because I really needed them to follow a Donnell Whittenburg pommel horse routine with a moody electro-pop version of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Continue reading European Championship – Event Finals Day 1

European Championship – Women’s All-Around

Friday’s medium-anticipated all-around competitions began with an opening act from that new up-and-comer on the performance scene, men’s gymnastics. (You’ll make it one day!)

As expected by exactly all living persons and most dead persons, the gold medal went to the 72% of Oleg Verniaiev that decided to show up today. In a stunning twist, Oleg strategically elected to compete without a left arm, a spleen, or the concept of converting food to energy. A gamble, yes, but it paid off as Verniaiev managed to drag himself to victory nonetheless, while also maintaining some stamina reserves for the two World Cup events and half-marathon he’ll be competing in later tonight.

The remaining places also mimicked qualification as Artur Dalaloyan took second place with only one fall (a “Russian hit”), coming fairly close to catching Verniaiev. We’re being told that Saint Oleg allowed this near-breach of his supremacy because Dalaloyan may be the only one on earth who makes Oleg look normal height. If they gain each other’s trust and work together, they might be able to reach the sink one day.

A particularly thrilling development saw the bronze medal go to Great Britain’s newest star, a picture of your old stoner roommate brought to life by a sorcerer.

But now, let’s turn to the main event, the women’s all-around, where the big question on everyone’s mind entering the competition was, now that Russia and Romania have turned into a pile of old lady bone dust, who gets to win medals? Well, we have our answer, so let me be the first to congratulate our new European all-around champion…Eythora Thorsdottir!

Obviously, no. Eythora fell 62 times and finished 12th. Duh. Keep dreaming, monkeys. Continue reading European Championship – Women’s All-Around

European Championship – Women’s Qualification

Today brought the women’s first opportunity to jump up onto the competition podium and compete to see who could be the most European. (That’s what we’re doing here, right?) There were a lot of compelling nominees. Much Europe. Many techno remixes of R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Enough to make you want to grab some acid-wash jeans, an Oksana Baiul, and a glow stick and head to Germany.

Anyway, once we sift through all the front layout beam dismounts that scored “abandoned shoelace on floor of public bathroom,” some significant developments actually rise to the top. So, let’s emotionally work through what you missed. Or what you saw and just can’t.

We’ll start with the big fat controversy because clearly.

-Here’s how it went down. In the final floor routine of the day, home-nation hero, legend, and part-time aspiring dominatrix Catalina Ponor got up and said, “I’m going to belch the alphabet, leave, and you’re still going to put me through to event finals,” and the judges said, “With this ring, I thee wed…”

So, normal. Nothing to report there. Ponor goes up, hikes her leo up into the center of the earth, and performs her usual floor. Fine. She did have one “the doctors say there’s nothing they can do” double pike landing and the twisting form, but whatever. Nothing too major. She’s into 4th place. Continue reading European Championship – Women’s Qualification

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?”


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?


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?

“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…


More importantly,
Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 11.12.04 AM


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.


“Little girls dancing for gold.”




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!


“Little girls” count: 4

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And now, the most important topic of the day: skirt or massive 1996 shorts? The world may never know.
Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 11.55.00 AM
Either way, STYLE ICON.


“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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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