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Monday, November 28, 2011

The bestest movie ever. NADIA!

I'm not sure how many times I've watched this movie. Enough that I can recite the dialog just according to cues from the soundtrack without actually seeing it as I'm typing. Only Nadia could tell you how accurate it is, but as far as I'm concerned, it's perfect.

It's not on DVD and it's not readily available on VHS (not that I still have a VCR). So thanks, handy youtuber, for putting this out there for me. Nadia, NOW! Hurry!



This is where young Teodora shows her floor routine. It's cuter than puppies.



"You can't get the experience unless you take the risk." I defy you to find another made-for-TV movie that could offer such quotable profundities.




You get the idea. Parts 4 through 9 won't be that difficult to find. Do think it's possible for a little girl to fly? :)

Your daily dose of gymnastics

Just a quickie while I try to get back in to the swing of things after a looooong Thanksgiving holiday.

Li Li: the gymnast who brought breakdancing to the balance beam. I used to try this backspin when I had a little down time at practice. On the low beam. Again and again. Never made it past a quarter turn.


I love this whole routine, it's so creative and lovely, and nothing like routines today-- crammed with tricks that are connected by plodding steps. Well, everything is cyclical...the optimist in me says that eventually we'll see increased emphasis on creativity and originality. Thanks, Li Li!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gymnastics evolves

I love how a little thinking outside the box can allow a gymnast to adapt their skills for brilliant stunts. Showing this side of gymnastics is really great for the sport, when a lot of people might have an image of gymnasts as sort of quiet and uptight. Skills like these are so impressive and they appeal to the masses; it's similar to the way Cirque du Soleil has found a way to spin off gymnastics into something very different but completely derivative. Gymnastics has always been the original "extreme" sport.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Germans, gymnastics, and buzzmullets

Behold, Ulrike Klotz:



What first caught my attention was the spectacular buzzmullet.

But as it turns out, the choreography and music are actually quite lovely--very similar to 80's era Soviets. Did she seem a tad...thin? Eek. But, she's looking healthier 3 years later:



At any rate, we should probably take a look at some more glorious German hair of the 80's.

Poor Baerbel Wielgoss, with a name that conjures up barbells and barbers, this is the only haircut that truly fits:



Dorte Thummler sports a rather magnificent wave--how does it stay that way? And how did it get there? Was Baerbel bitterly jealous of the volume and bounce?



Martina Jentsch, surprisingly normal (in that normal-1987 kinda way), this style might be called The Valley Girl:



We've already covered Dagmar Kersten (and her fabulous overalls leotard) but I just have to interrupt this hairstyle bit to ask you to watch this vault. I love the hang time in the post-flight before the flip. I just replayed this like 8 times. Check out the distance! Then go back again and check out the length of the hurdle onto the board, then notice the old school board. I am in love with this vault.



And finally, no team would be complete without the Grandma Perm, as demonstrated by Jana Vogel--with a few nifty little tricks in this beam routine.







Tuesday, November 1, 2011


So Jordyn Wieber is "turning pro." Not that that means much in gymnastics; in football turning pro usually involves a multimillion dollar contract. In gymnastics, winning a prestigious competition like the American Cup means a $16,000 prize. Which sounds like a lot to a 16-year-old, but probably wouldn't be enough incentive for a pro basketball player to show up 10 minutes early to the game.

The problem with NCAA eligibility rules is that in many sports, there is no professional league. Yet all sports are treated the same. The paltry sum a gymnast might receive for placing in a competition could help her afford a flight home, not a closetful of custom Nikes in a McMansion in suburban Atlanta. After college, these gymnastics have no professional league to go on to. They just hope to make a decent living.

This is one of the main reasons gymnasts tend to peak in their teens--there is no promise of a career. For most adult gymnasts, it's simply not feasible to earn a decent living while maintaining elite level. And that's a shame, because adults in general have much better self discipline and time management skills than children--so we're really missing out on the gymnasts-that-could-have-been.

I hate that Jordyn has to make this decision. Sure she looks like a sure thing for the Olympic team, but she'll have to stay injury-free, make the team, compete well, medal, AND interview well in order to make a little dough. A pro football player has only to sign a contract, and even if he plays like crap, he makes his millions. And he's already had his free ride to college!!

An NCAA scholarship would be a prize of at least $100,000 and every Division I school would love to have her--guaranteed. Jordyn may be able to make that kind of money with endorsements, but she better take bubbly lessons from Mary Lou in preparation in order to score the endorsements in the first place. Conveying a sparkly personality is not always easy for a teenager, much less one who spends 40 hours a week in the gym in serious-mode.

Meanwhile her coach John Geddart says:
"I'm supportive of the idea in that Jordyn isn't cut out for college gymnastics. I don't think the 14 weekends in a row doing watered-down gymnastics, that's not what she's all about. When you compete with the best in the world, I don't see her sinking her teeth into that type of situation."

Sure, not every gymnast is cut out for college gymnastics, but consider that NCAA teams now draw plenty of former Olympians and current national team members. That's a pretty insulting statement to the many college gymnasts who are not only maintaining elite level in their early twenties, but are doing it while taking full college course loads and putting in significantly less hours in the gym than most elites....AND drawing bigger crowds than most elite competitions.

Jordyn Wieber's decision to "turn pro" is not necessarily very bad or very good. It's simply a huge gamble-- a gamble that most professional athletes don't have to make.