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.

439: The Curious Case of the Extra Urine GymCastic: The Gymnastics Podcast

WATCH HERE Club Gym Nerd members can watch the podcast being recorded (pre-edits with all the flubs and hiccups) and see video of the routines we discuss. HEADLINES Jessica talks about the Alyssa Beckerman episode Gymnast Alliance: Ellie Downie’s weight-shaming complaint was “not upheld” and multiple gymnasts disclose issues at Cincinnati under MLT. Kensley has some thoughts on MLT’s Bible defense. Gymnastics is Coming Back! Spencer previews what we’re excited for at the upcoming Japanese Championships, Chinese Championships, and Szombathely World Cup. Meanwhile, Anastasia Motak’s beam from Ukrainian Nationals is the new president. Spencer watched the Andreea Raducan documentary Golden Girl and is bursting to tell you everything about it The latest on men’s NCAA gym and its slow march toward death: The Long Brewing Crisis in High Education.  Higher education as hedge fund luxury brands Cutting sports to steal endowments: The myth of football-funded athletics GYMTERNET NEWS The weekly “Chellsie Memmel is our only hope” update Thoughts on USAG’s tentative women’s calendar for 2021 Maggie Haney is…still working with gymnasts? Jordyn Wieber won’t attend the USAG Hall of Fame induction And a new gymnastics docuseries is coming! 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 Best of GymCastic: The FluffCast (Commissioned) Best of GymCastic: Vanessa Atler Interview 438: Agree to Disagree 437: Lineup Racism? 436: 2000 Women’s Team Final (Commissioned)
  1. 439: The Curious Case of the Extra Urine
  2. 258: The Fluff Cast (Commissioned)
  3. Best of GymCastic: Vanessa Atler Interview
  4. 438: Agree to Disagree
  5. 437: Lineup Racism

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

Covid Coping: 2012 Secret Classic

Today—this very evening—would have been the 2020 US Classic and the unofficial kickoff of the Olympic qualification season.

So, to pretend like I’m OK with that not happening and OK with having nothing to talk about for the next…I don’t know…year, I watched the 2012 Secret Classic as a replacement.

Also

The 2012 edition marked the very first Secret Classic, right after CoverGirl wisely catapulted itself off that sinking ship. (Easy, breezy, the ranch is out of toilet paper. CoverGirl.)

So starting in 2012, it’s now brought to you by deodorant.

Deodorant. For when your coach tells you she’ll slam you against a cement wall if you don’t do a bars routine. Deodorant.

Please keep in mind that the 2012 Classic was still one of those broke Universal Sports broadcasts that looks like it was shot with a 1995 Dodge Neon.

ENJOY!

We begin with a closeup of Nastia pulling her leo up to make sure her full ilium is exposed—and then fixing the inevitable wedgie. Fitting.

Good mise en scene.

Continue reading Covid Coping: 2012 Secret Classic