The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘2008 Olympics

Nansy Damianova

Nansy Damianova

Nansy Damianova, one of two gymnasts who represented Canada at the 2008 Olympics, will continue through 2009 and possibly through 2012.

Damianova told IG in a recent interview that her Olympic experience made her realize she wanted to continue in international competition, definitely for the 2009 Worlds, and possibly through the 2012 Olympics. It’s especially nice since Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, Canada’s other Olympic qualifier, is now at UCLA.

Damianova, who trains at Gymnix, says she is aiming for good finishes at Canadian Championships, Worlds and the new Gymnix World Cup.

About her new teammates, including Brittany Rogers, recent champion at Elite Canada, Damianova says:

“I think it will be very exciting to help leading Canada’s new generation of seniors in the new year because I know the girls pretty well. I have competed with a few of them on the same team when I was in my last year as a junior, and we get along very well. It will definitely be a new and different experience, being the oldest and helping the team. Before, I was usually one of the youngest and less experienced on the team. We also have some pretty strong and interesting girls coming up, so we should have an interesting team in the coming years. It will be fun to see the team evolve.”

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Nastia Liukin is still making the most of her win in Beijing four months ago. Here’s some news:

Liukin is pursuing a bit of modeling

Liukin is pursuing a bit of modeling

IG article:

Liukin talked to IG about some of the stuff she’s been up to (see article here) and — this is the big one — confirmed her plans to compete in 2009. As Liukin also mentioned on her Web site, in addition to the Tour of Gymnastics Superstars, the Vanilla Star contract, and all of the TV appearances, she also participated in two exhibitions — one at the Massilia Cup (where she did one of her routines from the Tour) and Alexei Nemov’s (apparently annual) gala. Apparently she will be at the Valeri Liukin Invitational at WOGA this weekend, and will also attend the Cowboys-Giants game.

More importantly (for me, at least), she said of her gymnastics plans:

“As far as my competition plans go, I’m not quite sure. We are taking it one step at a time. I haven’t been home too much, which is the one thing that I wish I could change. I never thought I would say it before, but I miss being in the gym seven hours a day. I am so ready to be back training and getting ready for next year. The Visa (U.S.) Championships are going to be in Dallas in 2009, so I am looking forward to competing in front of a home crowd!”

She goes on to say that she is “creating new goals and dreams” for herself.

Finally, Liukin also had some nice words for Marta Karolyi:

“Also, (U.S. team coordinator) Marta Karolyi — I have so much respect for her and what she does. Without her, I wouldn’t have had a chance to try to accomplish my dreams. She always made me believe in myself, especially when times were tough.”

Nastia Liukin modeling in the pit

Nastia Liukin modeling in the pit

Article in WWD:

Liukin was the subject of this WWD Beauty article.

The article has a good summary of all of Liukin’s endorsement deals, along with the obligatory comments from her agent and others on how the field will eventually dry up. Also of note, Liukin owns equity in several of her projects.

In other news of which I was unaware, Liukin’s central message is promoting healthy lifestyles for women, specifically with respect to obesity. Was this clear? I thought her message was about fashion. Honestly. That would still fit in with her agent’s goal of “put[ting] her in a position where her success isn’t tied to sports.”

Liukin has always had an interest in modeling, and she did some shots for WWD, all of which appear to have been shot in a gym, which is cool. I actually really like them. The one I’ve shown here is my favorite. I find the black-and-white one distinctly less interesting. Andrea at Live.Breath.Love.Gymnastics has the rest.

Note: the title of the article, “Strength Training with Nastia Liukin,” is deceiving. It’s not about strength training at all, at least not in the athletic sense of the term. It appears to be a somewhat reaching reference to her motivation and drive.

Finally, this tidbit: “Prior to the Olympics, Liukin capped off her girlishly loopy autograph with a heart; now she includes the five Olympic rings incorporated into 2008 with the word “Gold” written underneath.” I … have no words. Sorry.

NL UGGs, currently valued at $1,100

NL UGGs, currently valued at $1,100

Hope, faith and UGGs:

All I have to say about UGGs is ugh. I hate them. They’re bulky, people wear them during the summer despite the fact that they are clearly meant for winter, they’re not actually waterproof, and they cost a fortune! Enough said. Anyway, apparently every year UGG Australia does a charity fundraiser in which they ask celebrities to decorate a pair of UGGs for auction. This year both Liukin and Shawn Johnson participated. Johnson went with a pink and green peace-based them (surprise, surprise) and Liukin went for an all-black hope-and-faith thing.

Abigail Breslin put the faces of furry animals on hers. Rachael Ray wrote YUM-O on one of hers, and if you didn’t want to kill her already, that should push it over the edge. Kelly Ripa did a bedazzled number, Christian Siriano of Project Runway covered his in fur, Ashlee Simpson drew some weird stick figures and Whoopi Goldberg did fringe. (My favorite is T.R. Knight’s — he did a kind of cool vine-y drawing.) Interestingly, SJ’s are currently bidding at $2,000 while NL’s are at $1,100. Neither of them can touch Ripa at $2,700 or Ray at $2,235. Basically, these bids are clearly uncorrelated with level of obnoxiousness.

Nastia Liukin continues to rack up the honors. She has been nominated as the United States Sports Academy Athlete of the Year.

If you’d like to vote for Liukin, you can do so here. She’s competing against 11 other female nominees and 12 male nominees. She could win both Female Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Year.

I personally think that she should win for this vault alone (from the Beijing all-around, obviously!):

Ana Maria Tamirjan is recovering from a cracked femur, an injury apparently sustained before the Olympics in Beijing.

Apparently Tamirjan took a bit of a break after the Olympics, but Nicolae Forminte told Pro Sport here: “Ana is progressing very well, and she’s very motivated.” She is now training with the American Cup in mind! Apparently she even refused to go on winter vacation!

The Romanian gymnastics team will be in the mountain retreat Poiana Brasov for winter vacation from the 18th to the 19th.

Video is Tamirjan on floor in prelims in Beijing:

It’s no secret, in the Nastia/Shawn rivalry, Shawn Johnson wins for me every time. International Gymnast has a nice retrospective of all of the team competitions at the Olympics here.

Her toes are always pointed.

Some of my favorites:

The Karolyis win again … and it’s not a medal or a title … it’s a … business award? The Karolyis were awarded the “Houston International Executive of the Year” award by the Kiwanis Club, according to this press release by USA Gymnastics.

Probably the most exciting part is that you can buy tickets to the celebratory luncheon (see press release for details). Not a bad lunch break for Houston natives!

According to the press release, this is the 22nd edition of this award:

The International Executive of the Year recognizes an outstanding business person who has demonstrated the global leadership that continues to make Houston a center of international business.

Certainly the Karolyis have a thriving gymnastics empire down there, but are they really contributing to Houston’s renown as an international center of business?

More interesting is that they were awarded this honor *together* despite the fact that Marta took over the reigns from Bela as national team coordinator nearly eight years ago. (Then again, to be fair, the camp makes its money off of the stuff they do for younger gymnasts, a program in which Bela is intimately involved.) Anyway, this got me thinking about how Marta’s been doing since 2000, and whether it was really important for Bela to go.

I am coincidentally rewatching the 2000 Olympic Trials right now. It’s interesting to hear Al et al. go on and on about how much everyone hates the Trials process, when in fact we are using practically the same system now.

The major differences between 2000 and 2008 are:

  • The top two from Trials are “guaranteed” spots on the team
  • There is an Olympic training camp following Trials
  • The selection committee consists of three, not four, people

Otherwise, Marta and company are free to be just as despotic about their decisions as Bela was. The important differences are not institutional, they are cultural. Firstly, it was widely thought that Bela did not implement his plan in a way that bought the affections of gymnasts’ coaches. Second, and I think more importantly (given that Marta is not exactly the most friendly and conciliatory type either), is that coaches have gotten used to the system. Yes, there was an uproar after Sydney because the system failed to deliver, but then the system itself was not replaced, and the architect of said system was replaced by the person most like him! All of this, to me, is evidence that the uproar against Bela was probably unjustified.

Moreover, the data from the resulting Olympic teams of the three quads we have experienced under this system are illuminating. Of any single Trials between 2000 and 2008, the 2000 all-around results are the best at predicting the ultimate Olympic team. Only one person was skipped in the all-around order and that was (truly sadly) Vanessa Atler. In 2004 you have to go down to 11th to find Annia Hatch and in 2008 you have to go down to 15th to find Bridget Sloan. Now, of course, the fact that specialists were much more required by the 6-3-3 format of Athens and Beijing makes the choice of fewer all-arounders more likely.

On the other hand, this does not deny the fact that ultimately the 2000 Trials probably led to a selection that few would have rejected if Sydney had not gone so poorly. A system based entirely on an athlete’s finish at Trials would have given practically the same team, replacing Dominique Dawes with Atler. It’s not clear what, in their move to remove Bela, coaches would have preferred. In any case, the opaqueness of the process may have irked them, but the outcome was probably no different from what would have resulted from the selection process they would have preferred!

Personally, Bela has always seemed like a better motivator to me. But, well, now he’s got his llamas.

Sydney:

1. Elise Ray
2. Amy Chow
3. Kristen Maloney
4. Morgan White
5. Jamie Dantzscher
6. Vanessa Atler
7. Dominique Dawes

Athens:

1. Courtney Kupets
2. Courtney McCool
3. Carly Patterson
4. Tabitha Yim
5. Allyse Ishino
6. Mohini Bhardwaj
7. Terin Humphrey
8. Tasha Schwikert
9. Carly Janiga
10. Liz Tricase
11. Annia Hatch

Beijing:

1. Shawn Johnson
2. Nastia Liukin
3. Chellsie Memmel
4. Samantha Peszek
5. Ivana Hong
6. Jana Bieger
7. Mattie Larson
8. Chelsea Davis
9. Corrie Lothrop
10. Olivia Courtney
11. Randy Stageberg
12. Alaina Johnson
13. Alicia Sacramone
14. Shayla Worley
15. Bridget Sloan

According to this article, Ksenia Semenova, reigning World uneven bars champion and fourth-place finalist in the all-around in Beijing 2008, is currently hurt and unable to train. The article says that she may miss the World Cup Final in Madrid in December.

Apparently Semenova saw a German doctor about this hand/wrist problem, but the recovery time is unclear and she is now taking medication for the pain. The article mentions that they have been working out some new routines, but that they are essentially completely sparing any possible trauma to Semenova’s hand.

Ksenia Semenova

Ksenia Semenova

This really is too bad. When Semenova won over Nastia Liukin at the 2007 Worlds, lots of people seemed bitter because they thought Liukin’s routine was more refined. But Semenova had higher difficulty and prevailed. By the time of the Olympics, Liukin and several others had passed Semenova in difficulty level. But honestly the last laugh was Semenova’s, because she had been dismissed as a bar-and-beam specialist, and then wound up stunning us with a fourth-place finish in the all-around. Her floor was actually quite adorable, if a little immature and with a music selection not to my taste. I seriously want her back in competition!