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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Nastia Liukin Cup: More exciting than the American Cup!

USA Gymnastics: March 1, 2013 - Competition &emdash; March In

I've mentioned before how much I love the way my DVR records everything I need to see since I input the key word "gymnastics." The annoying part is that sometimes it records things I don't want to see, like every episode of American Ninja Warrior, and it also gets my hopes up by telling me it recorded things on channels that I don't subscribe to. Lucky for me, it DID record the American Cup, and unlucky for me, it lied and told me it had recorded the Nastia Liukin Cup, which airs on Universal Sports (a channel that DirecTV cruelly removed from my lineup).

But, great news! You can view the Nastia Liukin Cup in its entirety right here! In many ways I enjoyed watching this meet more than I enjoyed the American Cup. With Seniors in black leotards and Juniors in pink, it was fun to get a glimpse of the next generation of NCAA athletes and the younger hotshots that will soon give those seniors a run for their money. 

The announcers made the biggest deal, and rightfully so, of Sydney Johnson-Scharpf. That's a familiar name in the world of gymnastics--she's the daughter of Brandy Johnson, who my 13-year-old self worshipped as, like, the coolest gymnast ever. Sydney is possessed of a very natural and mature quality of movement, which makes her stand out so much more than so many of the other competitors, even those with more difficulty. It helps that she has choreography to match her exuberance--check out her floor performance here:

Although actually, I really prefer her Level 9 floor routine, shown in this montage:

Well heck, while we're at it, here's Level 8, which is equally fantastic (and contains some of mom's signature moves--gymnastics dorks like me can recognize these things) :

So if the gymnastics thing doesn't work out, looks like Sydney's got a future on Broadway. It's super hard to teach rhythm and movement to young kids; hers is just a natural ability. The choreography is so smart; it's engaging, difficult, intricate, and even comical at times. This should be a challenge to all gymnasts--no, to all COACHES. Performance matters. Choreography matters. Invest the time and effort. 

Clearly, Sydney grew up in the gym--a point I had to repeatedly emphasis to my own third-grader who, when I showed her the video, wavered between delight in seeing a cute young girl do amazing things, and sadness in feeling that there's no hope for a not-yet-pre-team 9-year-old when 12-year-olds are stealing the show at Level 10. I wish I could adequately convey to her how I know exactly how she feels. What motivation is there for all us non-child-prodigies? I guess we just have to get by on love of the sport. But that's another discussion for another day. 

More to come later on the other fine gymnasts at the Nastia Liukin Cup and the American Cup!

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