gymnast “statue” – body preserved in plastic

Click on the thumbnail photo of the gymnast on beam for a more educatioinal look.

Originally uploaded by kevinv033â„¢.

On the recommendation of sport scientist Jenni McNeal, we visited the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul for the BODY WORLDS exhibition.

We saw 200 authentic human specimens, including entire bodies, preserved through the process of Plastination, a technique that replaces bodily fluids and fat with plastic.

The purported goal of the exhibit is to “educate the public about the inner workings of the human body”. But it is ghoulish fascination which has been drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to this and 2 other touring shows.

more photos of the Body World exhibits on Flickr

Great West Gymfest, Idaho – Feb. 23-27, 2007

gwgftextlogo.gifI am booked to again attend the GWGF 2007, one of my favourite events of the gymnastics year. This competition has quickly grown to be one of the largest in the USA. It will be nearing 2000 participants, men and women, with the addition of second venue.

Every athlete gets awards. Cash prizes too. Live band. Sound and light show with smoke machine.

It’s close to world class skiing so you can look for me there the day after the meet.

Kids feel important at the GWGF because it is housed in one of the best resorts in the States, the gorgeous Coeur d’Alene Resort.


The Men’s and Women’s meet is hosted by Funtastics Gymnastics, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The meet director is David Adlard. Fly into Spokane airport.

More information can be found on the Funtastics GWGF page.

bars – Shantessa Pama

At Championships USA 2006 there was more talk about Shantessa’s bars routine than any other competitor — including Liukin.

Already famous for competing triple back dismount in the past, this year Shantessa used more unusual skills than anyone else in the meet. Perhaps in the world.

It is refreshing to see an athlete look for a competitive edge by being original. Is it time yet (again) for an originality bonus in the code?

If you have not seen Shantessa’s routine click PLAY or watch the clip on YouTube.

official website – Shantessa Pama

video – Shantessa Pama – skills 2005

There is no end to gymnast training clips on the internet these days.

This one I post because it is well edited with some very interesting effects. Plus Shantessa is an artistic, world class gymnast!

Click PLAY — or watch the clip on YouTube.

includes Stalder hecht to high on bars, 1/1 twist on beam

official website – Shantessa Pama

want to perform for Cirque du Soleil?

Rick McCharles

images.jpg“Artists” who want to be hired by Cirque du Soleil, must apply to attend audition. This means putting together a resumé and video of what you can do.

Cirque is looking for ultra-fit, talented athletes from all acrobatic disciplines.

If you are one of the lucky ones “hired” from audition, you travel to Montreal to train at their state-of-the-art facilities. I’ve been there many times. It’s a fantastic place.

For the first time, however, I stayed at the Cirque apartments directly opposite the campus.


This gave me a glimpse of the lifestyle of the young people training there. It’s a busy day filled with sessions that may include dance, theatre, trampoline, tumbling, circus acts and much, much more.

The residence offers computers, recreation, movie nights, video games and more. Everything you need is close. The vibe is like an international youth hostel.

The first language is French but most things are translated to English, Russian and sometimes Spanish.

I feel it’s a wonderful life experience just to train in Montreal — after which you may or may not get hired for one of the 13 Cirque du Soleil troupes.

Employment opportunities are good. Cirque is adding about one show each year to their line-up.

Coaches who have athletes who might be interested can email Rick McCharles for more information.

Tom Cruise – back flip?

Here is the evidence.

Tom visited back stage some of the Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas. At Ka, performing gymnast Uldi (Zoltán Miklós) Hajdu convinced him it was safe to go for a somersault.

Those action stars really can do their own stunts!

Uldi is one of the stars of the award winning Hungarian film White Palms, currently showing at the Toronto Film Festival.


movie clip of Tom’s flip (.wmv format)

The clip is hosted on the film site for White Palms.

This is the best gymnastics movie that you have never seen. (Unless you live in Hungary.)

Hopefully they will get a distribution deal with this kind of celebrity Film Festival attention.

straight body cast handstand on bars

Rick McCharles

ubar8.gifThis skill frustrates almost every female gymnast. Even at the highest levels of competition many competitors are deducted.

What’s a coach to do?

My philosophy is to compete only straddle-up cast handstand. Some world and Olympic champions have avoided straight body casts. This is the best strategy for the vast majority of competitors.

Every gym has athletes who tell me, “I can’t do straddle cast.” That is nonsense, of course, regardless of flexibility. They simply haven’t done enough of these drills.

up-swing.jpgStraight body cast is normally only appropriate for short, light girls who have terrific “planche” strength. Even those kids will normally show this position on the upswing. (A photo still from the fantastic Gymnastics Revolution database of skills.)

Young gymnasts sometimes pick up the skill easily only to later have trouble, after they grow taller.

If you insist on training straight body cast with girls, my advice is to train a series of kip to straight body casts on a safety straps bar. And work the planche position seriously.

More advice from Skills and Drills, Karen Goeller, and Tulsa World of Gymnastics.

Men’s coaches, no worries. We hardly consider this a skill. It is far easier on the men’s bar.

book – gymnastics – Leonid Arkaev

Coach Mack gives a strong recommendation for How to Create Champions: The Theory and Methodology of Training Top-Class Gymnasts (Hardcover – Oct 2004):

Awesome book. Not for beginners. A background in biomechanics, kinesiology, helpful.

The Russian authors are N. G. Suchilin and L. I. Arkaev. Arkaev is oft called the most successful gymnastics coach in history, many years the Russian and Soviet National coach. He has finally retired — presumably to write this book.

Arkaev in a 1999 interview was asked to name the best ever Soviet athetes. He replied, “Dina Kochetkova and Nikolai Andrianov”.

How to Create Champions: The Theory and Methodology of Training Top-Class Gymnasts

language translation – now on this site

Just added a small widget (bottom of right hand side navigation) which can translate this page into 8 different languages.

Translations between European languages are surprisingly good. But to and from Asian characters is more hilarious than helpful.

Babel Fish is a web-based application developed by AltaVista (now Yahoo!) which machine translates text or web pages from one of several languages into another.

It takes its name from the Babel fish, a fictional animal used for instantaneous language translation in Douglas Adams’ novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. …

Babel Fish (website) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia