Saturday, 3 March 2012

USA: The land of the Amanar (and thoughts on AT&T)

Just a quick note on the American Cup podium training videos that are surfacing.....

It can be confirmed that Gabrielle Douglas and Alexandra Raisman both have Amanar vaults. And they arn't half bad....


Who would have expected them both to have such solid looking 2.5 twisters this fast? Maybe some, more astute fans out there, but not me. I have made the foolish mistake recently of not taking Gabrielle Douglas' chance of making the US Olympic team seriously, but with this vault looking as good as this already I think Gabby is now a serious threat: she could be happily put up to vault in a team situation AND be one of the flagship contenders on the Uneven Bars (an apparatus on which she would probably be a world medallist if she had hit in Tokyo EFs). As has recently been the case in women's team finals, your team is only as good as your worst bar worker: therefore a package of high scoring vault and high scoring bars puts Douglas in an extremely enviable position right now.

Douglas' looks good, but Raisman's looks great. Based on this video it seems to be stronger than Jordyn's! What a difference a year makes. Confirmation of this bolsters her chances too: Aly is now super usable on 3 of four events, and will probably be the USA's top floor worker if upgrades go to plan and she can work on her choreo a bit. 

The flipside of this good news is a foreboding outlook for Maroney fans: where does this leave Mckayla's Olympic chances? Her Amanar is mind blowing but in a team situation, the few tenths difference between Douglas' vault and hers will not get Mckayla on a plane to London when other apparatus are considered. Further, the planned second vault is irrelevant in this situation as USA rarely if ever appears to take gymnasts on the basis of EF hopes. What this cries out to Mckayla is this: get better on bars and upgrade floor, and do it now if not sooner. 

The US Olympic race is hotting up, and it is more exciting than ever.

Post Competition thoughts

I can't remember the last time there was such an exciting three days in gymnastics. I think it is a really great time to be a fan of this sport: I don't think we have had the prospect of such a deep and exciting Olympics for at least 12 years, and the start of the competition season is just building that excitement further.

Firstly: the scoring. It is always terrible, and more terrible than ever. None of these scores seem to add up, and Wieber, as much as I love her, was way overscored on at least 3 events. It is hard to imagine how this keeps happening: the American Cup is an FIG event - there is no excuse for these ridiculous score inflations. It is a bit embarassing for everyone concerned really.

But we all know this so I don't want to harp on about it too much. I guess this year, even with fair scoring, an American gymnast would have got the top WAG spot. In other words, I think that the podium was correct, it was the NUMBERS that were wrong. So very wrong. AT least Iordache was justly awarded a monster beam score, but more on that later.


I have bitched and moaned about NBC before (both in a general sense and in a dedicated article, see:

We all hear them. Most of us hate them. I am most definitely in this latter category.

Usually though I try and just shut up and get over it, but I thought today was a particular example of how terrible those three can be. As usual my thoughts are mainly directed at AL and Tim (thats not to say Elfi is any good, but hers is a more general incompetence with fewer standout moments)


I am so sick of the other two having to qualify everything they say through Al's basic understanding. Say what you like about the other two (I certainly will) but at least they have the technical knowledge. Al is still asking questions that would be more symptomatic of a person who started watching gymnastics regularly a month ago.

"what does that mean?" -when Tim said Iordache was improvising)
"So, is that good?"  - When Leyva's vault score came in. etc.

WHY does a man who has been commentating top level gymnastics competitions for twelve years appear to know nothing about the sport he is paid to talk about? Commentators are supposed to make sport more understandable and accessible for the audience at home, it does not bode well if one of them cannot decide for himself whether a double twisting Tsukahara with 9.4+ execution is good. Al seems to be capable of bringing nothing but fluff.

On the note of people at home: I seriously feel for anyone who watches gymnastics for the first time and has to endure these guys. They just simply don't explain what they mean most of the time, it is so exasperating!

Perfect example: right at the beginning of the broadcast, Tim is talking about Jordyn's vault. True, it was great and one of her best. Obviously Al has to ask why its hard (because he probably can't tell the difference between a Yamashita and an Amanar) which would be a perfect opportunity to educate the less experienced members of the audience with some helpful information. So how does he respond?

"it has that extra half twist"

As opposed to what? Have you been discussing a DTY? NO. Do you know that your audience knows you are comparing the Amanar to a DTY? NO. Is there indeed any reason to justify explaining why an Amanar is difficult in that manner? NO. They spend zero time explaining skills yet waste entire broadcasts yacking about how the American Cup has a tradition for deciding who wins the Olympics, which gets fluffed up at every given opportunity. Even if that was true (which is clearly isn't - it happens that American's have won at the last two Olympics and the top American ALWAYS wins the American cup anyway), it is self indulgent and an utter waste of time to go on about it that much. Why do they have to wheel out Carly and Nastia to talk about how great the cup is? The people seeing that are already watching it!

As usual their actual coverage itself was biased and lacking. With only a handful of competitors it would be easy to show a lot more routines than they actually do.


I (like everyone else, as far as I can tell) was absolutely blown away by Gabby Douglas. Great performance, she must be so happy. My favourite part of the entire competition.......BOUNCE

Now THAT is how to jump out of a tumble line. Nice to get these reminders of how things that get code-whored all the time can still be fantastic (and the leap out of her double arabian was nice and high too).

Raisman's floor is looking great too. I don't know if it is just me but I think her expression is getting just a little better. And what about that first pass - INSANE. Absolutely love it, so original and difficult and I have never seen that much air on a layout punch.

Jordyn Wieber debuted a new combination on beam: front handspring stepout-standing full-back handspring. Now in theory I think that is fantastic. If it could be combined quickly I think it could be stunning and super original. Sadly though it is likely never to be so. This just continues the ongoing issues of what gets credited as a flight series on beam: the back with a full into back handspring combination was controversial enough amongst fans. It will be interesting to see what judges and spectators do with this new addition.


  1. Sacramone should sit up and take notice as well. The US is incredibly deep on her events. With Maroney, Ross, Douglas, Wieber and Raisman all throwing pretty darn great Amanars, there just might not be a place for her Rudi. As for beam, Weiber, Raisman, Bross and Ross all have fantastic beam sets, and they are also good to solid on bars and good to great on floor. There just isn't much room for a specialist, unless that specialist is AMAZING. And seeing as Alicia hasn't really upgraded in years, it's hard to see how to fit her onto the team.

  2. Totally with you. I love Alicia and a part of me would love to see her there, but I think it was a long shot even without the injury. Although reports say she is recovering well, her "look how much better I am" video just had her doing backhandsprings. There doesn't seem to be time to get back to where she was and more, which is what she would need I think. Perhaps if she was hitting the double twisting handspring vault we saw her try but that is so unlikely now.

    At least Alicia has already had her Olympics though. Sure, they were a sad one, but if Maroney misses London it would be terrible. Because she would SURELY make the vault podium easily (probably gold) and could easily be a victim of the 5-3-3 system.

  3. I completely agree with you! Gabby was completely amazing and surprising at the cup! If she stays healthy until June-ish, I actually think she could come away with first...Ahh! So exciting >.<

  4. "The people seeing that are already watching it!" Oh gosh this sentence is just *perfect*. It's like they know American Cup has a reputation as SCAM, and are trying to hammer home how internationally recognized it is. And gosh the constant whoever win the American Cup wins Olympics is very tiresome. (No mention of the opposing superstition - whoever wins Worlds the year before will not win Olympics).

    I mean, American Cup is one of the few competitions where there is only 1 gymnast competing at a time. I thought that would mean we would see all the routines - so far from it!

    And what lovely, confident Amanars! Russia better steps up her game.

    Yea the whole competition was overscored, the Americans were more over-scored compared to their competitors, but at least the ranking was fair.

  5. haha I am glad you liked it! The whole segment just really confused me....there I was being forced to sit through Mary Lou Retton yacking away about some fluffed up crap at the expense of Gabby's bars and Raisman's vault?! No thanks.

    My thoughts EXCACTLY (regarding coverage). Thats one of the only good things about this competition: you could supposedly see everything AND its a superb test of nerves (as we saw with Rebecca Tunney - naaaawwww). But finding a way to severely limit the range of coverage is like NBC's biggest talent. Show about 10 routines, slam everyone that isn't American and don't explain anything. Thats the NBC manifesto.

    Yeah USA is amanartastic right now. They probably have more in one country than the rest of the world put together. Its INSANE I am so impressed. Not to go out on a limb too soon but barring injury and assuming a clean competition I think the US might already have this team title locked down. the Mag 5! A lot can happen in a few months though.

    I was clenching my fists at the scoring, it is absolutely ridiculous! Wieber matches the golden score from worlds EF on floor with a stumbled triple and a 2.5 to scrappy, barely off the ground split jump? Give me a break.

    Raisman's bars as well...its the stuff of nightmares. That Tcatchev was like something from a horror film. Glad she managed to stay on though and she was great elsewhere.