perfection is possible

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Archive for January, 2009

Wieber to the American Cup?!

Posted by Rawles on January 11, 2009

According to her website that’s the case!

Saturday, January 10, 2009
American Cup Competitor
Jordyn will be competing in the 2009 American Cup competition which will be held on February 20th-21st in Chicago, IL. Jordyn will be joining 2008 US Olympian, Bridget Sloan. The United States will be naming two additional athletes to their squad and many international athletes are also expected to participate. The finals portion of the competition will be broadcasted LIVE by NBC Sports on February 21st at 3:00 CT.

This is a surprising twist given that the 13-year-old US junior national champion won’t be a senior international elite until 2011. Wieber’s camp has come under a certain amount of criticism and concern in the past from gym fans who worry that Wieber is doing too much difficulty too soon and will burn out if she isn’t paced better. These concerns weren’t alleviated by the fact that she’s been throwing Amanars at training camps for quite some time now.

Wieber at 2008 US Nationals

Wieber at 2008 US Nationals

Have juniors ever competed at the American Cup before?! For the last few years it’s basically been used largely by USAG as the coming out party for the new seniors that were expected to make a splash or a little ball in honor of the current It Girl. (ETA: Apparently various juniors have actually competed at SCAM in the past, though, unfortunately, very few of them ever went on to anything notable once they turned senior!) For this very reason, people, myself included, were very interested in who was going to get the rather plum assignment with all of the big names currently out of competition.

I don’t think anyone guessed that any juniors were in the mix at all. Especially with new, untested, and promising seniors like Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro about. If the announcement on the site is accurate (and not someone in her camp jumping the gun) then this is a huge vote of confidence in Wieber and definitely an investment in her being one of their big stars when the London Olympics are about to roll around.

It also means that Bridget Sloan, many people’s first choice for the headliner of this year’s AmCup (once again, myself included), is definitely getting the assignment that everyone expected her to. It also means that there will be prelims (an issue of much confusion even for people planning to attend) for the competition and two more open spots. Though whether everyone will get to compete in the broadcast final is still unclear. There were four American girls competing at 2008 SCAM though, so it’s a possibility.

Those last two spots, again assuming this update is accurate, will be interesting. I would think that the people really vying would be the aforementioned Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro; along with Chelsea Davis, coached by Kim Zmeskal, and who copped to upgrading at the end of last year in an interview over at the excellent Gymnastike; Corrie Lothrop, who exceeded all expectations (including her own) by becoming an Olympic alternate and got some assignments post-Olympics at which she performed well; perhaps Olivia Courtney who was also sent out a bit at the end of last year; and, of course, the ever dogged Jana Bieger. (Is Sam Pezsek back in shape? How’s her ankle? How is her transition to Sharp’s going? Does anyone know anything about what’s up with her?!)

Hell, since Wieber is, at the very least, in the mix, maybe even maybe Kamerin Moore, Wieber’s adorable bespectacled teammate, who brought home some hardware from Top Gym in late November, will make a run. Apparently this is already Crazyville!

I, for one, am quite interested to see how this situation further develops! Especially when gossip starts leaking from the upcoming National Team training camp.

(FTR, my picks for the last two spots with be Larson and Shapiro.)

Posted in American Cup 2009, Jordyn Wieber | 17 Comments »

The Beamers

Posted by Rawles on January 11, 2009

So, I’ve been mulling over posting for a while now. I hadn’t forgotten this blog or anything, but since it’s the off-season there’s not that much for me to talk about at any given time besides Nastia’s latest photo shoot (super fierce for Max Azria!) or Shawn’s latest charity event (oh bb that dress…NO) or somesuch, which other people do a good job of covering.

As a clarification, particularly since I just got a pretty hilarious comment on my previous post, I have no pretensions of being a gym news blog or offering you up-to-date “coverage” of anything in particular. Places like Triple Full have that well covered. Much like when this was just a tag on my personal LiveJournal, I post whatever I feel like posting about at any given moment. And though I still laugh at aforementioned commenter’s assertion that covering a single Nastia article makes this The Nastia Fanatic Blog…if that was what I wanted it to be, then it would and without shame and you would have my cordial invitation to suck it! <3

At any rate, what I have actually been mulling over posting about for all this time is the (weeks-ago) World Cup Final. Most specifically the beam final, but I’ll get to that.

First I want to note my ambivalence about the discontinuation of the final. I think that in theory it’s a great thing and probably was in the past, but in practice…yeah, not so much. Which I feel was most exemplified by the fact that to get a full roster for various apparatus they had to dip down into the teens and twenties in the rankings. I watched the Universal Sports coverage of the event in full (which I much appreciated) and, honestly, found it very lackluster.

Lots of falls on floor, the disappointing withdrawal of Yang Yilin from bars, and what seemed at the time an abundance of bad Yurchenko 1 1/2s (so many tucked final 1/2s wtf) in the vault final did not give me much to cheer about. Sure, I’m happy for Cheng Fei for a bit of redemption for her ridiculously heartbreaking Olympics (and also for Ariella Kaeslin and Aagje LastnameIcan’tspellorpronounce) along with feeling bad for poor, tired Sandra Izbasa and a disappointing third on floor.

What I did find most of my interest invested in was the beam competition and some genuine, serious surprised joy was evoked by Lauren Mitchell’s win. In my prior LiveJournal posts it’s been mentioned fairly often, though not previously here, but I am very fond of Lauren Mitchell. Particularly, every time she competes, I am always, always wishing for her to do well on beam. So there was EXCITEMENT! EXALTATION! she won a pretty, freaking prestigious beam title! (And had a really cute conversation with Cheng Fei!) Glee.

Such glee, in fact, that I cut her beam from the coverage and sent it to a friend. And when I did that, and as I talked to my friend about it, in essence, I prefaced my commentary with “She’s wobbly, BUT…”

And that got me to thinking. I think that on paper, Lauren’s 2008 beam set is one of my absolute favourites of the quad. I like the combinations she tries and that she does something different on the turn (even though I do not actually like the Humphrey as a rule because it is ugly imo) and there is just a certain quality of movement she has on beam that I like.

But, beam being my long time favourite event, it kills me that I have to caveat showing someone a beam champion’s performance with PLZ IGNORE HER WOBBLING EVERYWHERE. And I’m not picking on Lauren, who, as mentioned, I love, but I feel this is just so endemic to this quad and this code and I don’t know if I feel like there’s a solution.

In theory (in theory!), I actually agree with the goal of the 2006-2008 Code of Points when perfectly applied. I agree that there should be more separation between gymnasts. I think they should lower the number of counting elements (as they are in this year’s code) and there are various quibbles with certain skill and connection values, but the basic premise, to me, is sound. I do believe that someone doing something significantly harder (but still well within their ability!) should be rewarded more than the 10.0 allowed. I do believe that someone executing their exercises significantly better should be rewarded in a way that the open-ended system allows for when applied correctly.

In my ideal world, the code would ensure that someone doing an amazing beam set would not lose it on a single adjustment to someone with a significantly less amazing beam set. But what we actually get seems to be a lot of people contending while wobbling after half their skills.

I remember witnessing one conversation about Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson’s incredible consistency on beam in 2008, where neither of them missed a single beam routine the entire year. Many felt it was worth note (I agree!) and, in response, some people (not specifically talking about Liukin and Johnson) essentially wondered when we started giving people cookies for staying on the beam. Which is pretty valid I have to say.

And I’m no longer sure where I’m going with this, so I’ll just ask a question!

What’s your stance? Do you prefer it being decided by absolute perfection or can you stand a minor adjustment or two in an otherwise great performance taking the prize? Or something else entirely?

If you're wondering, her medal fell off!

If you're wondering, her medal fell off!

Posted in Lauren Mitchell, World Cup Final 2008 | 1 Comment »