Jordyn Wieber Lives Naturally High


A great video from Jordyn talking about living in the natural high of working and training hard and the joy of gymnastics. Jordyn seems to be incredibly relaxed in these interviews, and gives more relaxed, natural answers then we often get to see. This is a fun view of Jordyn’s love of the sport, the role models in her life and her influence on others.

When Dreams Must Change: Jordyn Wieber Misses the AA Finals


Jordyn Wieber has been working for one goal her entire life. Every step of the way has been full of blood, sweat, pain and sacrifice. But she has reached each milestone along the way without fail.

She won her first US Jr. National Championship in 2008. She has not lost one since. She won her first American Cup in 2009 at the age of 13 – still a junior competing against seniors. She won her second American Cup in 2011, defeating the current World Champion. She has continued that winning streak, losing only one national or international competition since 2008 right up to the Olympic Trials.

At the Olympic Trials, Gabby Douglas just edged her out. Still, Jordyn had made the Olympic team. Her dreams, her goals, everything she has worked so hard for were coming true. She was going to the Olympics.

She has looked great in training and looked incredible in podium training. After four years of seeing Jordyn do nothing but win, the thought that she would not qualify into the All-Around finals was not on anyone’s radar. And I am sure it was not on Jordyn’s.

Jordyn competed well today in qualifications. She had an small uncharacteristic mistake on vault, and a small mistake on bars (that has become quite characteristic).  However, when you started adding up the scores entering into the third rotation, a few on the gymternet began to wonder if Jordyn might come in third in the US standings. A few small bobbles and unrewarded connections on beams, a step out of  bounds on floor put us all into a reality none of us had conceived of. Jordyn may not even have the chance to fulfill her dream and compete for the All-Around Olympic title.

A hit routine from Aly on the floor sealed Jordyn’s fate. Jordyn was stunned. Aly was stunned. The gymnasts were stunned. The gymternet was stunned. Jordyn would not be moving forward into the All-Around Finals. Despite the fact that she still hit an unbelievably high all-around score. Despite the fact that she currently sits fourth in qualifications. She won’t even get a chance to compete as only two gymnasts per country can qualify into the finals.

And so Jordyn’s dream must change. And they must change quickly. On Tuesday, Jordyn has a critical contribution to make in the Team Finals- where she will most likely compete on every event. She can still dream of being an Olympic gold medalist in the team and possibly even on the floor.

Jordyn is the first to say that her goal is to go out and hit four for four and have fun. She DID do that today. Though there were small areas for improvement, she performed wonderfully. She did her job and can be satisfied with her performance.

Jordyn has an ability to focus like no one else I have ever seen. She has always shown incredible class in all her interactions. I have no doubt that she will set aside her devastating disappointment to focus completely on helping the team win gold.  She will be cheering louder for her best friend Aly and her teammate Gabby than anyone else during All-Around Finals. And that she will handle this loss with as much grace as she has handled being the It Girl.

Who’s Who in 2012: Floor Hopefuls


2008 Floor Medalists (Photo Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Aly Raisman (USA) 15.8/6.5

Aly has the most difficult floor routine in the world. This is due to her incredible tumbling. She has an original and creative routine representing her Jewish roots. Aly’s downfall is that she doesn’t have the balletic style and form that the international judges look for. It is unlikely that she will score a 15.8 at the Olympics (though I saw that routine in person, it was AMAZING! She is so, so high in the air,  it is unbelievable). Last year she qualified first into the floor finals, but finished third. She comes in with an upgraded routine, and her difficulty and sky high tumbling and leaps will help her challenge for the gold.

Jordyn Wieber (USA) 15.6/6.2 or Gabby Douglas (USA) 15.45/6.2

Jordyn Wieber has, in my opinion, one of the most fun to watch floor routines. She brings energy to the floor, performs with her entire being (including her eyes and her smile) and has incredible musicality. She has a lot of difficult tumbling and leaps with a lot of amplitude. However, like Aly she does not have a balletic style. Her toes are pointed, her fingers graceful, but it is not the style international judges appreciate. She too is unlikely to score this high in the Olympics. However, she will definitely be a challenger for the podium – if she makes the finals.

Why might Jordyn not make the finals? A little problem called the two per country rule. Gabby Douglas has been improving on floor each and every meet. She has the difficulty, the form, the amplitude and the flexibility to score well. However, her nerves often get to her, leading to lots of bounces out of landings. Her groovin’ beats also are not likely to win a lot of points with international judges. But if she scores over Jordyn and makes the finals, she will definitely be in the mix.

Larisa Iordache (ROU) 15.3/6.4

Larisa brings a brand new floor routine to the Olympics that is full of energy and incredible difficulty. She is second only to Aly in that department. She performs with a delightful air of freedom and abandon that brings a smile to your face. She doesn’t have the perfect form or the perfectly stuck landings of her other Romanian teammates, but she will without a doubt challenge for the gold.

Catalina Ponor (ROU) 15.275/6.2 or Sandra Izbasa (ROU) 15.1/6.1

Catalina is a worldwide favorite. She performs with a dynamic and aggressive grace that is all her own. In her new floor routine, she plays to the crowd with a swankiness that only she can pull off. Oh, and did I mention she was the 2004 Floor champion? After taking a number of years off, Catalina has come back with a vengeance and looks better than ever.

Sandra Izbasa is the reigning Olympic floor champion. She also brings a new routine to the Olympics, which I happen to love. She has beautiful form and generally sticks all her landings. It will be interesting to see if she make her way into the finals.

Lauren Mitchell (AUS) 15.25/6.3

Lauren brings a very unique style of dance, music and presentation to the floor. She has a highly difficult routine to boot. Though she does not dance with grace and beauty, the judges and fans alike seem to appreciate her originality. Lauren has a hard time with many of her landing/jump combinations, which can make or break her routine. If she hits, she will be challenging for the gold.

Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) 15.1/6.2

Vanessa won a bronze on floor way back in 2006. All these years later, she continues to bring difficult tumbling and has even upgraded.  If Vanessa stays healthy, it is likely you will see her in the event finals.

Ksenia Afanasyeva (RUS) 15.067/

Ksenia comes in as the 2011 World Champion on Floor. Her floor routine was without a doubt, one of the highlights of the entire championships, and remains as one of my all time favorites. The Russian team has been battling injuries this year and have put in lackluster floor performances. However, that is not likely to be the case at the Olympics. Four of the five gymnasts could easily qualify for finals. Which two will come out on top is anyone’s guess.

Anastasiya Grishina (RUS) 14.933

Anastasiya is the most classical of classical gymnastics. She has perfect form, perfect execution and is mesmerizing to watch as she floats through her floor routine. As I said before, her main barrier to event finals will be her other teammates. So make sure and see her routine in qualifications. You won’t want to miss it!

Victoria Moors (CAN) 14.9/6.1

Victoria currently holds the title for beam dreams all time favorite floor routine. She does one of the best double twisting double tucks there is. She PERFORMS her floor routine as if she is on a stage. And she does it all with beautiful form. She brings an energy to her routine that doesn’t translate through the television, but let me assure you, it is captivating.

 

 

Who’s Who in 2012: Beam Hopefuls


2008 Olympic Beam Medalists (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Beam. The most precarious event in womens gymnastics always makes for an uncertain finals prediction. The top gymnasts could as easily not make the finals with a fall in prelims as win the event. However, there are some delightful beam routines too look forward to and hopefully we will see them all in the finals.

Larisa Iordache (ROU) 15.95/6.8

Larisa has one of the most difficult beam routines in the world, and as such has posted the highest beam score this year. She is a clear favorite and as all is normal on the Romanian front once again, she rarely misses. She will be hard to beat and is very likely to end up on the podium.

Jordyn Wieber (USA) 15.7/6.4 Lauren Mitchell (AUS) 15.7/6,5, Catalina Ponor (ROU) 15.7/6.5

Of the three, Catalina is the most likely to score this high again. Catalina dominates the beam and is unlikely to make a mistake in prelims or the finals. She is one of the most beautiful beam workers, working with an aggressive style that somehow looks like ballet at the same time. She is a definite contender for the gold.

Jordyn Wieber has yet to hit all her connections in her routine. Her execution is phenomenal, however it is likely that her difficulty will be lower at the games. Still, her steady aggressive style is wonderful to watch. She is very steady on the beam, and it is likely that she will make the finals. Whether or not she is able to keep up with others of higher difficulty remains to be seen.

Lauren has a style on beam and floor that is all her own. She stands out for her original elements that make up her very difficult routine. Lauren has been inconsistent in hitting this routine. If she makes the finals, she will definitely challenge for the podium.

Kyla Ross (USA) 15.5/6.2 or Aly Raisman (USA) 15.45/6.4

Kyla has a beautiful, light clean style on beam. Her movement is not balletic, but it is executed perfectly and is beautiful to watch. However, she has only hit this high of a score one time as she doesn’t always hit her combinations. If she doesn’t hit all her connections, Aly Raisman will likely outscore her. Due to the two per country rule, only one of the two can make it in the finals.

Aly Raisman is the USA Rock. She is does a higher difficulty routine with nary a wobble. Aly is likely to hit and to be consistent. However, she may have a hard time beating out some of the others with higher difficulty and execution. But if they fall, Aly will be right there. Waiting to take advantage.

Sui Lu (CHN) Reigning World Champion 15.35 and Ashleigh Brennan (AUS) 15.35

Sui Lui has one of the most elegant, beautiful beam routines with loads of difficulty. She floats through the air as she tumbles across the beam, but sometimes she floats right off.  If she hits she will contend for the podium. If she will hit is anyones guess.

Ashleigh Brennan is another strong Australian beam worker. She is unlikely to contend for the podium but just might make the final.

Viktoria Komova (RUS) 15.325

Viktoria gives you a ballet on the beam. Perfect form, exquisitely pointed toes, everything done with a lightness and air of ease. But there have been few major competitions in the last year where she hasn’t fallen on beam at some point. If she makes her connections and stays on the beam, she could easily challenge for gold.

Yao Jinnan (CHN), Aliya Mustafina (RUS), Ana Grishina (RUS) are also ones that you should not count out of making it into beam finals.

The Christmas Eve of USA Gymnastics


Photo Credit: USA Gymnastics

Today feels like Christmas Eve to me. In my family on Christmas Eve, we always got to open up one present. I’d spend hours that day picking out the perfect present to open, creating lots of anticipation for it.  This evening, the women compete the first night of the Olympic Trials. We get to open up the first present, but still have to wait to open up the rest. But this first present, it will be awesome and worth the anticipation!

What should you be looking for over the next two days of women’s gymnastics? First of all, sit back and enjoy. Even at the Olympics, you will not see such an amazing display of gymnastics. If you love watching gymnastics for the sake of the high flying skills, breath taking flips and soaring leaps, graceful dance and lovely lines, then today will be a feast for the eyes.

Look for fierce competition. And deep friendships. These girls love and support each other like no other USA gymnastics group I have seen. They are truly best friends. But that doesn’t mean that each one of them won’t give it everything they have to make that team. Every single one of them will be putting it all out on the floor.

Look for the spots that we need to fill in for the “Big Three”. Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman are locks for the team apart from injury. So the next two spots go to the athletes that can best fill in their weaknesses or contribute a higher-scoring event than one of the “Big Three”. The most glaringly obvious spot is on bars. Raisman is weak on bars. Jordyn can compete on bars as a lead off spot, but we will definitely need another bars star to fill in the third team final spot. But look to see what other events we might need someone on. Both Gabby and Aly have been inconsistent this year on their amanars, sometimes not scoring that much higher than a DTY, the vault most of the rest of the teams will be doing. If we want to take advantage on vault, we need three HIGH scoring vaults. Gabby has also been inconsistent on beam and sometimes floor. We will most likely want to put someone else up on beam. However, if Gabby is inconsistent on floor over the next two days, we might need another floor score as well.

Look for the highest scoring bars specialist. Kyla Ross, Anna Li, Rebecca Bross, Bridget Sloan, Nastia Liukin. This is the score we need most, so start filling in the puzzle with the piece that makes the most difference.

Look for the highest value add after that. Up to this point, it has been McKayla Maroney. She adds .7-.8 over using Aly/Gabby’s vault. Look to see if anyone else can add more than that on one or two events combined. Sarah Finnegan on floor and beam. Alicia Sacramone on vault and beam. Another bars specialist.

Put all that together and we will have a good idea of our Olympic Team.

Look to see the honor that it is to all the girls competing. This is an incredibly tough year of gymnastics in the USA and each girl has accomplished so very much just to make it this far. They have so much to be proud of and we should be so proud of them as well! Revel in the fact that you are seeing some of the best gymnastics in the world!

Look forward to a weekend full of incredible gymnastics, dreams being fulfilled and a team being named!

Coming to Clarity: The Simplicity of Picking the Olympic Team


Through a fun twitter discussion, I realized that I have a formula for picking my Olympic team. It seems very obvious to me, but just in case Martha isn’t aware, I will spell it out.

The Big Three: Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman. Enough said.

The Bar Specialist: Replace Aly Raisman’s bar score. Kyla Ross is the most consistent. Then Rebecca Bross. Then Bridget Sloan. Anna Li currently has the most potential for the highest score. Then there is the wildcard Nastia Liukin. Basically, it will depend on who performs best for podium training and the two days of trials. Right now, Ross has proven herself. Everyone else will have to prove that they can consistently score higher (or much higher) than Ross

The Fifth Spot: If you choose Sloan, Li, or Ross, you need a beamer. This means Finnegan or ASac. If you choose Ross or Liukin then you just need the person who adds the most tenths to ANY area. Maroney on vault. Anna Li on bars.  ASac on vault and beam. Finnegan on beam and floor. In that order. Also weighing in is Douglas’ consistency on floor and beam, and if we will need a score to replace hers. Or maybe a second bars specialist to replace Wieber. It will all come down to the math -averages and highs.

Now that we are all blue in the face with proclaiming our teams, the Olympic Trials need to arrive already so we can sanely go back to our normal lives. But really, who wants to?

Who’s Who in 2012: Feel the Heat of Wieber Fever


Jordyn Wieber at 2012 Pacific Rim. Photo Credit: Steve Mullensky/Quality-of-Light.com

Every gymnast who goes up against her feels the heat of Wieber Fever. Jordyn Wieber is the IT girl going into the Olympics. She is the current All Around World Champion. More impressively, she has won almost every competition she has competed in since her senior debut last year. The glaring exception was the Olympic Trials. Jordyn doesn’t always compete perfectly and doesn’t always have the top difficulty of everyone she is competing against. But her fierce competitive spirit and determined focus always seem to pull her through for the win.

Jordyn is the ultimate combination for a gymnast. She is incredibly strong and fast, launching herself into the air on every event as she turns and twists and flips. She is also fairly flexible for a power gymnast and generally hits all her leaps and jumps. She is fiercely determined. She has incredible focus and work ethic. She is confident, positive and not afraid to to win. One of my favorite attributes is her musicality and performance qualities on floor. If Jordyn stays healthy, she is one of the favorites to win the All Around in London.

Here is one of my favorite montage’s of her by CSaccullo-edits: