extra landing mats on Floor Exercise

Remember the bad old days when these were not allowed?

Double back pike – Chicago Style competition 2008

The only way we were finally allowed to use extra landing mats for tumbling in Canada was by pointing out that they were being used in Russia in National competitions.

Certainly the coach should have flipped the mat over to reduce the risk of getting “caught up” in the carrying handles.

Raj Bhavsar second at Gymnastics Winter Cup

raj-reacts_v.jpgOK, EVERYONE else will be writing about the incredible comeback of Paul Hamm who dominated Winter Cup so far, his first all-around competition in two and a half years.

Just to be different, I’ll congratulate Raj, who finished 2nd on day 1. Right on!

This great gymnast has had more than his share of frustration over the years. I’d love to cheer for him in Beijing.

Things are certainly looking up for the USA.

bio – USA Gymnastics

Day 1 results

… the biggest gymnastics meet in the world

In the Windy City, this is Chicago Style.

Hosted by elite coach Todd Gardiner and the IGI team, over 4000 girls are here to show their stuff on a really, really big stage.

The Navy Pier venue is massive.

first rotation

Six competition floors, it’s not easy to capture in one photo. (This shows less than half competition area.) In fact, it’s a good long walk from one end of the gym to the other.


For the 10th Anniversary edition, IGI has added an NCAA Session featuring Stanford University, UCLA, University of Illinois and University of Washington.

Needless to say, that’s the hottest ticket in town. First come, first served, tickets go on sale 4PM today at Navy Pier. I hope to get in with my “media credential”. Yup, bloggers are media now.

Organizers look surprisingly relaxed. Hosting 4000 athletes is not ten times more difficult than hosting 400 kids.

official website – IGI “Chicago Style” Gymnastics Meet

Note: The venue has no internet access so I’m having to sneak out to Starbucks to post this weekend.

gymnast Podkopayeva to the Hall of Fame

Lilia Podkopayeva (Russian: Лилия Александровна Подкопаева; Ukrainian: Лілія Олександрівна Подкопаєва) was the 1996 Olympic all-around champion. Many consider her the greatest of all time.

Podkoypayeva was often referred to as the “complete package” gymnast, possessing equal qualities of technical skill and artistic expression. Her routines were known for their melding of balletic, expressive choreography, clean execution, impeccable form and extremely difficult skills. In addition, Podkopayeva was known for being strong on all four apparatus, without an obvious weak event. She was the originator of two skills that are still included in the Code of Points: the Podkopayeva vault and a double front half-out salto on the floor exercise.

Lilia Podkopayeva – Wikipedia

Most extraordinary in that era was her front tumbling. Double front half out is still almost never seen 12ys later. Valentin Uzunov (The Gym Press) compares all other Floor routines against this one.

Click PLAY or watch Pod compete it in Floor Finals at the 1996 Olympics on YouTube.

The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame will hold its 12th annual induction ceremony Saturday, Feb. 9. …

The IGHOF Class of 2008 includes Olympic champions Shuji Tsurumi (Japan), Stoyan Deltchev (Bulgaria), Ma Yanhong (China) and Lilia Podkopayeva (Ukraine).

International Gymnast

forward hip circle on bars a waste of time?

Another valuable article from Tulsa World of Gymnastics on the neglected, if not forgotten, forward hip circle on bars.

A waste of time? Or a valuable progression for kip?

fronthip1.gif… Now, the crucial part: timing. To correctly do a front hip circle, you need to keep your body extended as you lean forward until you are about to reach horizontal. Now is the time to put your stomach muscles in action. As quickly as you can, snap your body from the extended position to a pike. (Many beginning gymnasts exaggerate this extended-to-pike snap — and this is okay — but as you become more comfortable with the skill, you can start from a hollow body position and go to the pike.)

Be sure that you think about bringing your chest to your legs, rather than letting your legs drop as you bend your body. Making this mistake will result in a decrease in how much power you get going around the bar. …

See the rest of the article – Tulsa World of Gymnastics


More articles like this in their Gymnastics Tips for Gymnasts and Coaches section.

Personally, I like forward hip circles. They are not super important progressions. (Most boys would do very few.) But it’s a good challenge and supplement for girls learning kip. If you have them in compulsory routines in your region, count yourself lucky.

NCAA champion Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons

ncaa_abdullah_200.jpgOn April 13, 2007 last season, University of Oklahoma’s Abdullah-Simmons became the first black gymnast to win the NCAA all-around national title.

It was an unexpected and great achievement for Taqiy. (I wasn’t even following him for the All-around.)

ESPN’s Jay Weiner posted a feature profile on him. One point of interest was contested by USA’s Ron Galimore:

In gymnastics circles, some say the unspoken bias was that African-American gymnasts weren’t good all-around, that they excelled on the floor exercise or vault, Amin said, but not other events.

Galimore, now a USA Gymnastics vice president and an international judge, disagreed that such a myth exists.

“I would beg to differ,” Galimore said. “Mike Carter. Jair Lynch. Chainey Umphrey would beg to differ. No. No.”

At any rate, the Abdullah-Simmons family didn’t let it stop them.

“I never paid any attention to that,” Taqiy’s father said of the undertones. “I always told our kids to do all six (events). You’ve got to have a six-shooter. You’ve got to be fully loaded.”

“I definitely heard that, that African-American gymnasts were only good in power events, the floor and vault and, occasionally, rings,” Taqiy said. “It makes it a lot better to know that I was able to be considered a good all-around gymnast and not just, you know, status quo.” …

read the entire article – ESPN

World silver medalist on Horizontal Bar in 1987 Curtis Hibbert from Canada would disagree, as well.

best athlete blog – Kyle Shewfelt

I track many personal athlete blogs, rarely linking to them on this site. Many, especially the NCAA gymnast blogs, are little more than rah rah promotional tools.

Only one athlete blog is consistently interesting. Even fascinating.

That’s Kyle Shewfelt, reigning Olympic champion on Floor. (I may be biased since I edit his official website. You need to check for yourself.)

As a sample, here’s Kyle’s feature on his “Guardian Angel”, his physiotherapist, Susan Massitti, someone who has been there for him throughout his recovery from injury at World’s last year:



Guardian Angel – Kyle Shewfelt

Browse down the list of posts from the home page. You’ll see the highs and lows of an elite athlete in “rehab”. Honest and compelling.

Thanks Kyle.

Aussie gymnastics vids available from GymSmarts

by Rick McCharles

Charles Minster is the best editor of gymnastics coaching videos in Australia. He’s a legend Down Under.

GREAT NEWS. His work, previously only easily available only in Australia and the U.K., is now being distributed by GymSmarts, the #1 producer of Gymnastics Educational and Training Videos and DVDs in the world.

The first three video sets — all featuring coaches from the U.K. — are recent releases:


I have all three and can strongly recommend them:

1) Dance for Gymnastics with Daniela Nanova (2 DVDs $75) – my review

2) Gymnastics Skills with Christine Still
(2 DVDs $75)

3) Key Skills in Advanced Gymnastics for girls & boys by Paul Hall (2 DVDs $75)

The three are complimentary. Obviously the first set is specifically for coaches of dance, artistic preparation and choreography.

British coach Christine Still covers basic skills for the beginner and intermediate women’s artistic gymnastics coach.

But the best of the three sets, for me, is Paul Hall from England. This is the best video I saw in 2007. He’s a brilliant and original coach. The drills interesting and unusual. The video content is valuable for Men’s coaches as well as Women’s. (Read my review of this DVD set from last September.)

All three have sample video clips — check those out — linked from the GymSmarts home page.