The C Score (2.0)

Archive for the ‘USA Gymnastics’ Category

As has been recently noted on a few message boards, the USAG Junior Olympic Committee recently revised the 2009-2013 Junior Olympic Code of Points (see preview of changes here) to reflect the fact that the FIG has recently changed the dance passage requirement on floor in the new CoP from 3 back to 2.

Which leads us to the obvious question: why is the FIG still making changes to the 2009 CoP when 2009 is exactly 22 days away?

Now, given the posting by USAG, it seems that the FIG has in fact made this change, although that is not reflected in the most recent edition of the 2009 CoP available for download from the FIG Web site. (That link may or may not work. It’s temperamental.)

But the real question floating around message boards is whether the FIG has decided to scrap the new eight-element requirement on bars, beam and floor to return to the 10-element requirement of the previous quad. A lot of gymnastics fans heralded this as an attempt by the FIG to reemphasize good choreography and dance. But rumor has it that because MAG didn’t want to change from 10 to 8, the FIG may have decided to keep WAG at 10 for consistency’s sake.

The first passage at hand concerns an A-panel (now D-panel) requirement on floor exercise. In the previous CoP, a dance passage was required that featured “at least two different elements one of them with 180° cross split position. The leaps or hops had to be connected directly or indirectly, without jumps or turns because these are considered stationary. The other requirement was that the first leap or hop had to land on one foot.

In the most recent CoP, the dance passage requirement is worded the same but requires “a dance passage of at least 3 different elements …” (emphasis mine). Now, both the first and second elements must land on one foot. The only other difference is that there is now .5 points specifically awarded for this element as part of the “Composition Requirements” (formerly “Element Group Requirements.”

However, if the J.O. CoP is to be trusted (note that the wording is very similar to the FIG wording), the FIG has reverted to “A dance passage of at least two (2) different leaps or hops.”

Both this and the 8 element requirement were theoretically attempts to incentivize an emphasis on good dance. Is the FIG reneging on its word?

The truth is, I care much less about that than I do about the fact that there is no official CoP despite the fact that January is just around the corner! I know running a World Cup Final is hard and all, or whatever, but come on. I assume coaches and federations have better updates than the rest of us, and it goes without saying that brevet judges definitely do, but still. But inquiring minds want to know!

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USA Gymnastics has announced the election of Peter Vidmar as the chairman of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors, which as decreased in size from 48 to 20. (FYI, USAG, 20 people is still a lot of people to be running anything. It’s why most countries have one-member executives. Anyway.)

Peter Vidmar, new chairman of USAG

Peter Vidmar, new chairman of USAG

I find it a little diasappointing that USAG has chosen another man to replace outgoing chair Ron Froehlich. Generally speaking I’m pretty neutral on the normative superiority of female political representation, but it’d be nice to have someone who comes out of WAG instead of MAG. That is, if it were a WAG coach that would be fine too.

There are also now three new “public-sector members”: Mary Lou Retton, Bitsy Kelly and Jim Morris, who join Frank Marshall. The rest of the board consists of athlete and discipline representatives and some officers.

Who is Bitsy Kelly, you ask? Well, she is the president of both Outrigger Activities and Bitsy Kelley Outdoors, a multi media company. Frank Marshall is the founder of Amblin Entertainment with Steven Spielberg; he’s a movie producer. And Jim Morris is the president of the Pacers.

Peter Vidmar, of course, was a member of the 1984 gold medal-winning Olympic Team, and is also a Famous Mormon. Do you have to wear the underwear while you do gymnastics?

Anyway.

USA Gymnastics Board of Directors

Chairman: Peter Vidmar, Coto De Caza, Calif.
Vice chairman: Paul Parilla, Lake Forest, Calif. (non voting position)
Secretary: Gary Anderson, Hillsboro Beach, Fla. (non-voting position)
Treasurer: Jim Morris, Indianapolis, Ind.

National Membership Directors

Tom Koll, Omaha, Neb., women
Steve Rybacki, Covina, Calif., women
Yoichi Tomita, Tucson, Ariz., men
Russ Fystrom, Minneapolis, Minn., men
Dr. George Drew, Three Rivers, Mich., trampoline and tumbling
Tonya Case, Yucaipa, Calif., acrobatic gymnastics
Brooke Bushnell Toohey, Lake Placid, N.Y., rhythmic gymnastics

Advisory Council Directors

Mike Burns, Minneapolis, Minn.
Ron Ferris, Austintown, Ohio
Mike Lorenzen, Mountain View, Calif.

Athlete Directors

Karl Heger, Rockford, Ill., trampoline and tumbling
Jessica Howard, New York, N.Y., rhythmic gymnastics
Michael Rodrigues, Livermore, Calif., acrobatic gymnastics
John Roethlisberger, Knoxville, Tenn., men
Kim Zmeskal, Lewisville, Texas, women

Public Sector Directors

Bitsy Kelley, Outrigger Activities/Bitsy Kelley Outdoors, Portland, Ore.
Frank Marshall, entertainment producer, Santa Monica, Calif.
Jim Morris, Pacers Sports and Entertainment, Indianapolis, Ind.
Mary Lou Retton, former Olympic champion and motivational speaker, Houston

We’re nearing the end of the year, so here’s some stuff that’s coming up. This includes “breaking” news coming out of the current U.S. national training camp, which ends tomorrow. The official announcement of U.S. assignments can be found here.

Big news:

  • The U.S. PAGU team has been named: Rebecca Bross, Olivia Courtney, Corrie Lothrop, Samantha Shapiro. The inclusion of Shapiro means she must have gotten over her elbow injury.
  • Diana Bulimar and Larisa Iordache of Romania will compete at Top Gym.
  • Nastia Liukin will perform an exhibition at Massilia Cup.
  • Amanda Jetter will be joined at the International Artistic Gymnastics Challenge by Olivia Courtney and Corrie Lothrop. The latter two will be at both PAGU and in Brussels. Cassie Whitcomb, who was originally named for this meet back in October, is now out.

PAGU:

First, the U.S. team for the Pan American Gymnastics Union (PAGU) Individual Event Championships has been chosen: Rebecca Bross, Olivia Courtney, Corrie Lothrop, Samantha Shapiro.

The big news is that Jana Bieger has once again been screwed over by Marta Karolyi. This seems to be a signal that USAG is done with Bieger; they’re moving on to the younger seniors. If this is the case, I hope Karolyi will release Bieger, and then maybe she could go compete for Germany. I think she would have fun with that, and Germany’s got some other good contenders, including Oksana Chusovitina, Kim Bui, Jenny Brunner, Marie-Sophie Hindermann …. Or maybe she’ll just move on to NCAA. (I always forget she can’t do NCAA because she randomly went elite in 2006.) Anyway, it doesn’t look good for her in U.S. elite gymnastics. The other people on the training squad who were not picked are Mackenzie Caquatto, Amanda Jetter, Bridget Sloan, and Cassie Whitcomb. News from Sloan was that she was going to train for the American Cup in 2009 and not bother with international competition before then. The weird thing is that Shapiro was not even on the shortlist, presumably because she was injured, so maybe she has gotten over that injury, bumping the other three new seniors.

Top Gym

Top Gym in Charleroi, Belgium, which will be attended by two strong American juniors — Jordyn Wieber and her Geddert’s teammate Kamerin Moore — adds two great Romanian juniors to its competition list: Diana Bulimar and Larisa Iordache. Bulimar was this year’s Category II champion at Romanian Nationals, with Iordache taking Category III last year, and placing second to Andreea Tufa this year. Presumably the Category I juniors, many of whom just moved to the Olympic squad at Deva, have more important things to do. In her most recent competition, at Blanc-Mesnil in France November 7-8, Bulimar took second in the AA to Ukraine’s Natalia Kononenko.

The other countries that have already released the names of their gymnasts aren’t sending any big names. However, I still haven’t heard about Russia’s gymnasts, and it’s possible it may be Anna Dementieva and Viktoria Komova, who will be in neighboring France for Massilia.

Sweden, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have announced their gymnasts. Italy will send Chiara Gandolfi and Giorgia Campana, and Holland will send Jocelynn Kraan and Yvette Moshage. A second Belgian team is yet to be named, as are the Slovenian, Slovakian, British and, as I mentioned, Russian teams.
Massilia Cup:

Rumor has it that Nastia Liukin will be performing an exhibition at the Massilia Cup in France on November 21-23.

The Massilia Cup consists of the Massilia Open for teams by country or gym, the Massilia Gym Cup by country-team, and the Top Massilia, an individual final for the highest scorers from the previous competitions.

For the Massilia Gym Cup, Australia will be sending Lauren Mitchell, who is doing quite the circuit right now, Ashleigh Brennan, and top junior Emily Little. For China, Jiang Yuyuan will be competing, which is exciting because she performed only on floor at the recent Chinese Nationals. The Chinese are also sending Wei Guo and Mengsi Tan (not familiar with the latter). Russia is sending juniors: the exciting Tatiana Nabieva as well as Anna Dementieva and Viktoria Komova, who throws some amazing skills for her age. Fantastic junior Youna Dufournet will compete on one team for France with two seniors, Angeline Serre and Manon Erre; and there will also be a team of juniors only: Chloé Stanic, Aurélie Malausséna and Eva Maurin. Brazil sends Ana Silva, Khiuna Dias and Bruna Leal.

Beyond this, some exciting competitors for the Open Massilia. There are a number of them, so I’ll highlight the ones I’m happy to see: Ambre Casanova, Marine Brevet and Justin Crosato of France (Saint-Etienne); Sarah Gusmaroli, Marie Gaffino (although rumor has it she has retired?) and Julie Pennachio also of France (Marseille); Britt Greeley, Tain Molendijk (who has been injured) and Tracey Penaluna of Australia; and three (!) WOGA teams: Briley Casanova, Sophia Lee, Rachel Holman, Alyssa Baumann, Hayley Sanders, Dana Ho, Belle MacFalane, Rachel Philipps and Charle Dembo; and a number of Canadian juniors: Caitlyn Keates, Rochelle Hurt, Dominique Pegg, Anysia Unick, Jessica Dowling, Melissa Downing, Madeline Gardiner, Anna Gamelo, Sabrina Gill, Mikaela Gerber, Briannah Tsang and Alysa Samaratunga (apparently there will be a selection after a training week in France). Léa Kemayou of France will also compete with her Toulon team, but I don’t know about the other competitors.

I’ve highlighted a number of these juniors in my Up-and-Coming Juniors series.

International Artistic Gymnastics Challenge

The Challenge, held in Woluwe Saint-Lambert near Brussels, will now feature Corrie Lothrop and Olivia Courtney in addition to Amanda Jetter and Cassie Whitcomb. This means that Lothrop and Courtney will be both at PAGU and at Saint-Lambert.

**Updated 10/12**

The most recent training camp took place at the Karolyi ranch this week, with all of the Olympians absent except for Bridget Sloan (sorry). Here’s the news I’ve gleaned, with some commentary:

Gymnasts present

Chelsea Davis:

Davis is apparently doing a double layout on floor! This is one of my favorite skills, and we didn’t see enough of it last quad. Apparently she also upgraded on bars, adding a Geinger and a Hindorff (for those who are unclear, a Hindorff is a free hip circle to Tkatchev, a pretty rare — and cool — skill). (ETA 10/12: Davis says that she verified the Hindorff only on the pit bar.) This is an important upgrade because she has nice lines and form on bar, but at Jesolo for instance was only competing a Jaeger release. ETA 10/12: Here is a great interview that Anne over at the great Gymnastike did with Davis about this camp.

This is Yulia Kut (USSR) doing a Hindorff (the first release in this routine), 1988:

Ivana Hong:

Hong is rumored to be at the camp but without a coach or gym. It’s hard to say where Hong will go now that she has left GAGE, but reliable guesses have her going to AOGC in California, her home state. If she went there, she would be training with Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro (and Hollie Mossett). Certainly that gym would complement her style well. Honestly, it’s hard to understand why she hasn’t shown up at WOGA, since her family is clearly willing to relocate. I’d like to see her go somewhere where she would be pushed to train tougher, harder skills — she’s got the form down — and I actually think either AOGC or WOGA would be good for that.

Amanda Jetter

Jetter now has a DTY and a Patterson dismount on beam, upgraded from a double back. Vault was Jetter’s lowest-scoring event at 2008 Nationals, so that is good news. And her beam is actually quite lovely, with a nice, clean standing Arabian.

Samantha Shapiro:

Had some kind of surgery, but is there.

Cassie Whitcomb:

Apparently Whitcomb has a very nice Hindorff. What’s with all the Hindorffs? Don’t know much about Whitcomb’s bars otherwise …

Jordyn Wieber:

The big news is that she is throwing an apparently solid Amanar. Now, one might think that the last thing a twelve-year-old junior needs is a giant vault leaps and bounds above the capacity of her competition, especially since it’s taxing and she’ll have to do it for three years before she even reaches senior age eligibility. On the other hand, her DTY was ofter over-rotated, suggesting she had extra power. Not sure what to think. Apparently she’s only training twenty-odd hours a week, so Geddert’s doesn’t seem to be breaking her, but on the other hand they seem to focus too much on skills and too little on form. Time will tell ….

Other people rumored to be at the camp but about which I have no information (besides assignments, below), sadly: Alaina Johnson, Mattie Larson, Randi Lau, Corrie Lothrop, Randy Stageberg, Shayla Worley.

Assignments

Top Gym: Charleroi, BEL November 28-30

Wieber and her Geddert’s teammate Kamerin Moore. Cute that they’re going together.

Pan-American Gymnastics Union (PAGU) Individual Event Championships: Buenos Aires, ARG November 19-23

A training squad of seven girls was picked: Jana Bieger, Rebecca Bross, Mackenzie Caquatto, Olivia Courtney, Jetter, Sloan, Whitcomb. Only four will go to PAGU.

NEW 10/12: Hints About International Competitions

Interestingly, Davis said in a recent interview (see above, or Anne’s comment) that she will not be participating in any international competitions until 2009, because of the new CoP. Not sure if this is a decision made by her coach, Kim Zmeskal-Burdette, or by Marta. If it’s Zmeskal-Burdette’s decision, it might be smart, except to the extent that it would provide Davis with international experience (though she seems confident about her place on the team right now, see the interview I keep referring to). If it’s by Marta, she probably is sending out gymnasts who have pretty set, high-scoring routines under this CoP. Davis is working on a lot of upgrades, so it would make sense that she would save them for use under the new CoP. So I’m expecting gymnasts with fewer upgrade plans to compete in the last few events of the year.

Thoughts

My impulse is to feel terrible for Bieger. It’s clear from her (rumored) request in 2007 to be released to Germany that she has had it up to here with USAG. It’s also clear from recent events that Marta Karolyi’s reaction (um … no) was justified: they keep Bieger around in case they need her after injuries. And that has worked out for Bieger in the past. Unfortunately, she’s clearly not one of Marta’s favorites, and that has worked against her. A lot. Now, if she is still going to camps, maybe there is a bright side: maybe she still wants to be involved. Certainly going to camps and accepting a possible international assignment means she isn’t trying to wait out the two years without international competition so that USAG has no more claim over her. Perhaps Bieger is being forgiving, and is sticking with the sport because she loves it ….

Worley is at camp. Her story eerily mirrors that of Chellsie Memmel in the lead-up to ’04 — will Worley stick around? It’s hard to imagine her doing so, what with all the injuries. At this point it seems like it would be a miracle if she could hang on. I’d like to know specifically what she’s been up to.

It’s National Gymnastics Day and clubs around the country are having free events to get more young people interested in gymnastics!

International Gymnast took the opportunity to publish a great article about Frank Bare, the first president of USA Gymnastics (then the U.S. Gymnastics Federation).

As this article points out, Bare took only seven years to get the fledgling USGF, which was formed in opposition to the AAU, which then controlled gymnastics in the United States, to replace the AAU as the official representative body of U.S. gymnastics to FIG. Pretty impressive.

With the exception of Bela Karolyi, who reformed the way Americans thought about gymnastics training, Bare has arguably had more influence on the way this sport is organized in this country than anyone. (Note that he is still the chairman of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, and was himself inducted in 1999.)

Frank Bare's portrait in the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame

Frank Bare's portrait in the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame