The C Score (2.0)

Archive for the ‘2008 Olympics’ Category

When I posted about the provisional new elements submissions I didn’t realize that in fact the final decisions had already been made!

Contrary to my expectations, Nastia Liukin did not get credit for that pike to scale, which I maintain was not a pike nor a scale anyway, kind of like Coffee Talk from Saturday Night Live. Un Jong Hong did not get her Yurchenko 3/1 because she didn’t compete it. That means no new vaults — what a shock, what with nearly everyone doing one of two vaults (vault has gotten so boring, thank god vault finals still exist to give us some variety).

And the winners are:

  • He Kexin/Yang Yilin for the 1 1/2 in reverse grip on UB
  • Beth Tweddle for the straddle Hecht with 1/2 turn to L-grip (she does definitely own that thing, even if it isn’t always beautiful)
  • Lauren Mitchell for this silly jump to chest stand to chest roll with a 1/2 turn, but good for her anyway (it’s an A skill)
  • Anna Pavlova/Ksenia Afanasyeva for a pirouette with back attitude (I’m a dancer, so I like what the Russians are doing here)
  • Ksenia Semenova/Ksenia Afanasyeva for double pirouette with back attitude!
  • Daiane dos Santos for that Arabian double layout (a G element!)

    I’m a little bummed for Alicia Sacramone, although her request was tenuous. I’m not sure what is going on with that aerial walkover to arabesque, which is everyone’s favorite new skill (10 people did it, 11 if you count Liukin). Despite assuming it would happen, I am relieved to find out that Liukin hasn’t been credited with her skill.

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A whole slew of new elements in the Provisional WAG New Elements document.

I guess the most important thing, since we’ve been discussing it for a while, is that Nastia Liukin could get credit for the Liukin/Nistor front piked to arabesque (Nistor was doing it tucked anyway, and isn’t doing it anymore) … only … she gets credited with a front piked to scale, while the front aerial to arabesque (credited to 10 different gymnasts) is not ever listed as to scale. Does anyone think this thing is a scale? (See approximately 1:26. This one is also tucked, and Liukin herself said it wasn’t as piked as she wanted. On a side note, I think it looks like a cross between a tuck and an aerial, it’s not really salto-ish enough.)

Other provisional new skills of note include:

  • Un Jong Hong’s Yurchenko 3/1, with a difficulty value of 7.2.
  • He Kexin’s 1 1/2 turn before handstand in reverse grip on bars (also credited to Yang Yilin). What happens if He’s medals get taken away?
  • Alicia Sacramone’s split jump with a 2/1 turn on floor — good for her!
  • Daiane Dos Santos’ Arabian double layout
  • Oksana Chusovitina’s double back layout with legs separated in the second salto, although it has the same number as an existing skill. Is this some kind of record for the oldest person to which a skill has been attributed in the CoP? Maybe not, given the average age of gymnasts back in the day.

You can access the new elements document from this page at USA Gymnastics. The full Code is available from the FIG Web site.

Edit: See this post to read about the confirmed skills.

This article from USA Today takes up the same issue I’ve discussed in my last two posts: post-Olympics celebrity.

The reporter seems to argue that Mary Lou Retton has faded from the spotlight, which is generally true, except that she always gets a little airtime during Olympic years. And in any case, this is not to say that she has not been successful (she’s a successful motivational speaker).

Then again, I’m a little skeptical of Retton’s claim that she dropped out of U-Texas because classmates were jealous of her fame. The school I went to has its fair share of celebrities, and I don’t think jealousy is their main concern. In any case, I’m most admiring of people like Shannon Miller, who not only completing her college degree but pursuing a higher degree (in law). (And of course people like Kim Zmeskal-Burdette, who have made their careers coaching.)

By contrast, the article also mentions Carly Patterson, who has been unsuccessful in my opinion. Her biggest audiences are at gymnastics events, and those kids love Patterson for other reasons anyway.

The ultimate conclusion is that you don’t make a name for yourself out of gymnastics. You do gymnastics because you love the sport, and even if you get the big endorsements — Retton had more major ones than Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson combined — you still have to find something to do with the rest of your life. That can be in gymnastics, or not. But as Kristi Yamaguchi says at the end of this article:

“I worked as hard or harder to build a professional reputation. If you want a career post-Olympics, you can’t just rest on laurels.”

Up next in considering how you achieve fame after the Olympics — it’s not just based on gold — is the obvious case: Alicia Sacramone.

After she fell on beam, the first rumblings on the Internet were not positive. (Apparently she got hate e-mails. Unbelievable.) But the campaign to prove that the fall on beam didn’t make the difference in the team-final outcome, and the fact, apparently, that Alicia Sacramone is hot, has made her into the third-hottest commodity from the team. Pretty impressive.

As this article from the San Diego Union-Tribune explains:

You know her as the U.S. gymnast who fell off the balance beam in Beijing with the gold medal on the line in the women’s team competition. As the one who landed on her rear end in the floor exercise. As the one who bit her lower lip and tried to fight back tears as hundreds of millions of people worldwide watched on live television. But the point is, you know her. You know Alicia Sacramone.

She has big endorsement deals with Bank of America and Cover Girl (along with Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson).

I’ve always loved Sacramone as a gymnast. Honestly, I was never really into the “sexy” parts of her floor routine, but otherwise, I love an explosive gymnast, and Sacramone is an amazing example of that.

And in interviews and appearances she is charismatic and upbeat, and overall a great personality. (She’s also been the most candid about whether the Chinese girls were underage — she points out in one interview that one of them was missing baby teeth. I think it’s probably best not to comment, but then we knew she was going to be outspoken.) I know Liukin has some interest in the entertainment industry, but if anyone is going to make it there, it’s Sacramone. Not to mention that she trained at the elite level and did college gymnastics at Brown for a full year (before she had to give up college gymnastics to train for the Olympics).

Best quote ever (from Best Damn Sports Show Period): “Silver’s classier.” (Which is true!)

By the way, she all but confirms in the BDSS interview that she will be retiring.

Two cute post-Olympics interviews:

Some Fox show:

Best Damn Sports Show Period:

This article from a few days ago in the San Diego Union Tribune highlights an interesting phenomenon from this first post-Olympic month.

Shawn Johnson was in town for the filming of “Frosted Pink with a Twist,” a charity event I described in a previous post, and the Union-Tribune spoke to her between appearances at 5 local T.V. stations. Though she didn’t get the Wheaties box, Johnson has major deals with Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and adidas, among others.

As this article notes:

It’s easy to forget that Johnson didn’t win the individual all-around gold medal in Beijing (Liukin did) and that her lone gold came in the balance beam (she won silvers in team, all-around and floor exercise). But Johnson’s magnetic appeal is a lesson in Marketing 101: that what you win is sometimes less important than what you represent, and a freckled kid from America’s heartland with an infectious smile is a hot commodity.

This comes as no surprise. Johnson has an infectious smile and a tremendously upbeat personality. Liukin is graceful and beautiful, obviously, but in an almost forbidding way. Johnson simply looks more like Mary Lou.

Compare Mary Lou’s experience to Carly Patterson’s four years ago. This great article from the Los Angeles Times caught up with Patterson recently. She’s still trying to pursue that singing career, but it isn’t working out so well. As the article notes:

Four years ago, [Carly] Patterson seemed well-placed to become America’s New Sweetheart. As soon as Patterson was in position to win that gold, journalists swarmed [Mary Lou] Retton to ask if this blond-haired Texan would finally push her into the history books. “I hope so,” Retton replied. “It’s time for someone to take my place.” It didn’t happen.

Let’s go back to Liukin and Johnson. Do we think that if Johnson had won that Liukin would be seeing as many appearance requests as Johnson is now? I’m skeptical. Patterson said of herself:

“My nature is not like Mary Lou. … Mary Lou is bubbly. I was never bubbly.”

The same is true of Liukin. She’s pleasant when she’s on talk shows, but she doesn’t draw in all populations in the crowd the same way Johnson does.

So far, this issue may be a little superficial. But then we have to think about what this means for the gymnasts, and, namely, what they can do with their fame. Some athletes, like Michelle Kwan, have become role models (and, in her case, political appointees) while others, especially those who have tried to use their athletic careers to pursue careers in entertainment, have fallen from the spotlight very quickly.

We like capitalism in this country, but, at least in our Olympic athletes (can’t say the same for professional athletes in the NBA, etc.), we want true role models too. So far, I’ve been most impressed with Chellsie Memmel’s decision to start a literacy campaign called There’s More Than One Way to Flip, which supports literacy in the greater Milwaukee area. I hope there’s more to come from the other team members.

The conclusion is best put by Evan Morgenstein, who is a big-time agent for gymnasts (Liukin is one of them … we’ll have to wait and see how he does with her):

“In the Olympics, being America’s next little sweetheart is not just about winning gold. It’s about having a story and a willingness to want to be involved in doing the things you need to do, about having an impact on young kids’ lives and about wanting to give back to your sport. When the cameras turn off you have to be willing to do things that aren’t all about making money.”

And then, there’s the famous smile …

Shawn Johnson

Shawn Johnson


About The C Score

First there was A score and B score, now D score and E score. Where is the C score? Right here. In the form of my random thoughts about women's artistic gymnastics.

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