The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Marta Karolyi

From Blythe, Level-10 Kayla Williams. I don’t usually post about non-elite gymnasts, but this floor routine really took my breath away.

Opening pass is a double layout, followed by a double pike. Plus a triple full as a side pass …. It is rare to see these skills performed so high and landing so upright. I was honestly amazed.

According to the sources, Williams has received an invitation to the Karolyi Ranch and is planning to go elite this summer. But she seems to be expressing interest in college gymnastics.

The floor routine has a bit of a Shawn-Johnsonesque dance component (that is, somewhat choppy and choreographically lacking), but without Johnson’s spunk, or at least the spunk she had with her old floor routine if not as much with the one performed at the Olympics.

Update: In the cited newspaper article, Williams reports that Marta Karolyi said:

“She said she’d like to see improvements on my flexibility and my artistry on floor [exercise]. She wants me to show off a little more on my dance, but other than that she said that I had really big skills and she’s excited to see what would happen if my flexibility gets better. I’m at home in splits [and] I’m [at the gym] in splits. I’m just trying to get more flexible.”

Nadia Comaneci did a new interview with Jurnalul National, complete with ridiculously cute pictures of the DNA-gifted child of theirs.

Honestly, Comaneci bores me these days. Also, like many currently competing gymnasts, she wears too much make-up. The one tidbit I did find interesting: she had Thanksgiving with Geza Poszar (despite the fact that Poszar corroborated Trudi Kollar’s stories of abuse by Bela Karolyi, a dispute that Comaneci clearly wants to stay out of), who knows George Clooney! (Comaneci also mentions that she is still in touch with Bela and Marta.)

Otherwise, the interview is a yawner. They don’t even ask her to comment on the recent Olympics! If I had been doing this interview, I might have started with that, instead of chatting about her friendship with bodybuilder Joe Weider and the 1976 Olympics.

Anyway, what is going on in this picture??? You’ll notice that if you glance at it, it looks like Bart Conner doesn’t have legs.

Whaaaaaaa?

Whaaaaaaa?

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.

Bela Karolyi was in Chicago today to promote the American Cup, which will be held there in March 2009. There is a lot of good information coming out of these articles.

Bela at his ranch

Bela at his ranch

The Chinese age scandal

What, you thought it was going to go away?

Karolyi is still talking about the Chinese age scandal. He thinks the 2000 Olympics inquiry was perfunctory and is not convincing in the slightest:

“I think that’s just a cover-up. They’re trying to hold onto their reputation on this issue, when it’s one of the most blatant things we’ve ever seen.”

Karolyi says that he complained about the age question back in Sydney, saying that he pointed out that one of the girls (I assume Dong Fangxiao, but it could have been Yang Yun) had been a junior the year before and that it was impossible that she could have aged two years in one year. (He makes a good point.)

Interestingly, Karolyi was backed up by Steve Penny of USA Gymnastics more than usual. He said “Bela makes a good point when he says the Chinese kids went out there and did a good job. But there’s a rule that says you’ve got to be 16.”

My favorite part is where he added: “Here’s Rebecca Bross, two months short of being able to compete, sitting, crying in front of her TV, watching kids younger than her compete.” Really? Rebecca Bross was CRYING in front of her television?

It’s official: Marta’s staying

Bela confirms that Marta will be around at least through 2012. Interestingly, Penny says that the Karolyis (both of them) are “USA Gymnastics’ long-term plan.” Everyone loves the program (that Bela created, and that they hated at the time … no, I’m not bitter).

Bela then mentioned Kim Zmeskal as a possible successor!

Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Samantha Peszek continuing

Apparently Liukin was briefly at the trainign camp that just started, and told Bela she would continue competing.

Bela also said that while we lost all of our athletes after the 2004 cycle, at least Liukin, Johnson and Peszek will continue.

A little clue on Bela’s favorites?

When asked who the next big thing was, Bela answered Rebecca Bross and Jordyn Wieber. He called Wieber a “diamond” and compared her to Shawn Johnson (directly, and also by mentioning her ability to stay on the beam!).

And: one last (boring) article.

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