whatzup with the U.S. Classic / Challenge?

I’m in Houston and everyone is asking each other about the two women’s meets hosted concurrently.

They are in the same venue — Reliant Center — as the VISA Championships, but are independent meets.

U.S. Classic May 23rd
+ Jr. 11:30 AM
+ Sr. 7:30 PM


Caquatto, Mackenzie
Davis, Chelsea
Johnson, Alaina
Lothrop, Corrie
Mohr, Katelyn
Nguyen, Catherine
Ranzy, Britney
Stageberg, Randal
Stott, Ashley
Tanella, Christa
Trani, Amber

full competitors list – USAG

Thanks Kathryn.

I still know nothing about this second meet. Perhaps it never got off the ground: U.S. Challenge May 24-25

podium training – USA Championships Men

Day 1 in Houston, 40+ seniors are on the podium preparing for tomorrow’s preliminaries.


The BIG story of the in-gym press conference is Paul and Morgen Hamm trying out for their 3rd Olympics. Morgan is healthy and ready to compete 4 events — but has not had enough time to do as many routines as he would have liked. Morgan did say that if he hit 4 for 4, he was confident of advancing to Olympic Trials in Philadelphia.

Paul Hamm

Paul was very modest, I thought, and gave a great interview. He spoke much about the family decision in December 2006 for the brothers to make a comeback for Beijing.

Morgan has decided to attend Chiropractic College next year in Chicago. Paul is still weighing his options — but will permanently retire from gymnastics after Beijing.

Jonathan Horton

Horton, 4th at Worlds in 2007, is a strong candidate for the team. He’s well known internationally now and could contribute some big scores. He’s not changing his routines from NCAA championships as goal #1 is consistency.

Justin Spring with past Olympian Steve McCain of Gymnast.com

This year’s Visa Championships mark Spring’s first major competition since tearing his ACL at last year’s Visa Championships in August.


Justin confirmed that he is healthy and will compete 5 events at VISA Championships. He will do the All-around at Olympic Trials should he get through.

No gymnast, not even Paul Hamm, gets an automatic ticket to Trials. Everyone must earn it here in Houston.

Blaine Wilson

Blaine would be 34-years-old if he qualifies to the Olympics. He is the only athlete on the floor who competed FIG “Compulsory” routines long, long ago. Age is weighing heavy on Blaine, but he’s one of the most aggressive gymnasts in history.

One of the gymnasts I’ll be watching most closely.

Without the Women’s National Team here (they compete in Boston, instead) the Men are the headliners. It’s a nice change. And the number of potential team members on the Men’s side is far greater than on the Women’s.

Related post: 2008 Visa Gymnastics Championships Men

can Russia medal at the 2008 Olympics?

Andrew Thornton on Gymnast.com posted a detailed assessment of the chances for the Russian Women’s Gymnastics team for Beijing.

His answer … YES.

… remember that in Athens, the U.S. women entered as the heavy favorite for gold, and then when the Romanians looked better than everyone expected, the focus shifted to a two-way battle between these two teams in the finals. However, I think a lot of people probably don’t realize that at the end of that night, the Russians actually ended up only three and a half tenths behind the U.S., and one point away from the gold medal Romanian team. With the focus this year being on China vs. the U.S., could the Russians again sneak into that battle and surprise everyone?

Right now I’d say their big guns are clearly Semenova (recent European champ on bars and beam), Pavlova, Grebenkova, and Lozehecko.

The last two spots will likely be between several gymnasts, like Zamolodchikova, Pravdina, Kramarenko, Klyukina, Myasnikova, or Afanaseva. Though the Russians placed 2nd to Romania at the recent European Championships, we haven’t seen all their best gymnasts on one team yet. If they can get all their top gymnasts healthy for Beijing, they may be able to do a little more damage than most people realize.

A look at the Russian Women’s Team


Beam (strongest apparatus)
Floor (weakest apparatus)



Ksenia Semenova on Beam at the 2008 European Championships. Gold. A = 6.7 Final = 15.950

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Related post: is Russia the next Russia?

great coach – Howie Liang, Gym-Max

Coached by Howie & Jenny Liang, three girls from Gym-Max Gymnastics, Costa Mesa, California, finished 1-2-3 on vault in a very tough competition. JO Level 10 Nationals.

The judges rewarded the HEIGHT of their vaults, conspicuously better than most of the other excellent competitors in their division.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Everyone appreciates Howie’s enthusiasm. I appreciate how closely he SPOTS vault, even though his athletes almost certainly do not need him there. (Other kids in the same rotation landed badly with no spotter in place.)

results – Level 10 – Junior A

Ivana Hong trained at GymMax for 4 years, by the way. It’s Shantessa Pama’s club.

US Olympic Team – fill in the gaps


The wide consensus among gymnastics fans and experts is that Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, and Alicia Sacramone are locks for the Olympic Team. Since the main priority is the Team Final where 3 up 3 count, the selection will cater to those 12 routines needed. …

Vault– Sacramone, Jonhson, GAP

Bars– Liukin, GAP, GAP

Beam– Johnson, Liukin, Sacramone

Floor– Jonhson, Sacramone, GAP

read the rest of this post for commentary on who can fill the gaps – Gymnastics and stuff

Or leave a comment below on who should go to Beijing from the USA, assuming everyone is healthy.

The Olympic selection process will name the final Women’s Team of 6 on July 20th.

Am I a liar? – Jen Sey

One of my posts is titled: is ex-gymnast author Jennifer Sey a liar?

It generated a good deal of discussion.

The author answers the question herself on her personal blog: Am I a liar?

(Be aware that Jennifer Sey has deleted a post she’s written on her blog which, I’m assuming, revealed too much. And deleted comments on her blog, including some of my own.)

Thanks Shergymrag.

2008 Visa Gymnastics Championships Men

Just arrived Houston.

2008 Visa Championships and first Olympic Trial for Artistic Men is the headline event. But I’m expecting Rhythmic, Trampoline and Tumbling to be excellent too.


official competition home page

From this competition 14 Men will be selected to fight it out at Olympic Trials on June 19-22 in Philadelphia, Pa.

The Olympic selection process will name the Men’s Team of 6 on July 1st.

JAMD – Sean Golden

USA Today has an inspiring feature on one guy who has a realistic shot at Beijing. Sean Golden has struggled and suffered to get himself into position to make this team. His is a compelling story …

Olympic hopeful Golden leads by example
– USA Today

NCAA women gymnasts draw 500,000 fans

At Chinese National Championships the arena was near empty. Can’t a totalitarian state demand school children fill the bleachers?

Don’t tell me China is preparing those girls for the intense uproar of Olympic Team finals. I see no evidence that Chinese coaches have much understanding of how to prepare gymnasts psychologically for the BIG MEET.

They need to bring in an NCAA coach to help.

85 NCAA women’s gymnastics teams listed on the Troester rankings drew well over a half a million fans for the season; a remarkable 50,000-plus fans attending NCAA women’s gymnastics meets for any week of the regular season. Small wonder that many of us feel that NCAA women’s collegiate team gymnastics is the premier form of the sport, worldwide.

Average Home Meet Attendance


NCAA Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics – the fan’s favorite – GymGemz

The shergymrag commented:

The popularity of NCAA gymnastics has nothing to do with Performance and everything to do with accessibility. NCAA gymnastics outdraws all other forms of gymnastics simply because it’s the most accessible form of gymnastics. Hands down, case closed. NCAA teams have a schedule. They’ll have several home meets per season. Instead of going to a movie some night, a local gymnastics fan can go on down to see their team compete against some other team. When the team has an away meet, they are performing largely in front of the local fans of the host team. You don’t have to be a hardcore traveling fan to enjoy NCAA gymnastics in person several times a year.

Elites have a meet once in awhile, here or there, maybe, maybe not. There is no opportunity to build a local fan base for “home meets” because elites come from all over the place and USAG gymnastics clubs generally do not treat their teams as TEAMS. They are just a bunch of girls who train together at the same gym. Most gyms do not have enough elites to field a full team and there’s no current structure for Elites, level 10s, and level 9s from one club to compete all together as one team on a regular basis against teams from other clubs that are also mixed level. If you want to follow elite gymnastics you either have to do it over the internet or be rich enough to travel all over the place to attend meets held everywhere. Once in a blue moon you can watch it on tv. If you want to follow JO gymnastics – what’s there to follow? The local club is going to have a meet like once a year.

All very good points.

Having just attended JO Nationals where a few of the “performances” were just as good as the NCAA, I must say the meet was far less entertaining. It was incredibly drawn out with 8 rotations / flight.

robotic suit assists weight lifting

Sprinter Oscar Pistorius may or may not be advantaged by his carbon-fibre prosthetics.

I have mixed feelings on that.

But in competitive sport we have to draw the line somewhere. A mechanized ectoskeleton, obviously, is WAY over that line.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

(via Straight to the Bar – Robotic suit amplifies human strength)