The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Nastia Liukin

Nicolae Forminte did an interview with Replica.

Nicolae Forminte with Sandra Izbasa

Nicolae Forminte with Sandra Izbasa

In the interview, Forminte talks about the Romanians’ performance in Beijing and their hopes for 2009, and also has some very kind words for Steliana Nistor.

Of the Romanians’ performance in Beijing, Forminte says that Nistor and Ana Maria Tamirjan didn’t really finalize their routines until Beijing, where they did a lot of last-minute training. Moreover, Gabriela Dragoi was suffering from leg pain. This left Forminte with only one team member fully able to contribute: Sandra Izbasa. No wonder she was the only one to win gold.

On the other hand, Forminte is not disappointed in his team’s performance:

I believed in myself and in my colleagues, and I managed to fulfill our objectives. I was tremendously happy that the team remained on the Olympic podium.

Forminte also says that he didn’t really publicize news of Nistor’s back problems before the 2008 Olympics (among other things) because he didn’t want to use it as an excuse for the Romanians’ performance.

You’ll recall that when she first retired, Forminte tried to convince Nistor not to, but he now says that he wasn’t sure she could continue, concluding that, “For me, the gymnastics chapter of Steliana’s life has ended, but we remain in contact.”

Who's more talented?

Nistor and Liukin: Who's more talented?

Because of her injury, Nistor was not able to train at the level of intensity that was necessary to achieve Forminte’s biggest goal for her: to win gold in the all-around. This is disappointing to Forminte especially because, he says, “She was more talented than the American [Nastia] Liukin.”

(That’s a difficult argument to make! But I’ll let people fight it out amongst themselves. Suffice it to say, Liukin does seem to have a lot more medals. … Then again, natural talent and hard work are too different things. Then again, Liukin’s entire DNA is a veritable vault of talent. Aaanyway.)

With Nistor gone, there is certainly an aura of stress surrounding Forminte. He talks about the difficulties the Romanians faced in the last quadrennium, saying that it did not go unnoticed by foreign coaches and others that he kept showing up to competitions with new gymnasts. He says that he has been anxious and unable to rest.

As for the looking to the past and hoping for the future, Forminte attributes the Romanian decline to two things: the Code of Points and the current Romanian system for training children and junior athletes. You’ll recall that Forminte said after the Olympics that under the old CoP, the Romanians would have won: they had the cleanest exercises. But, he acknowledges, it’s important to change with the times and address these issues, even citing a desire to improve on bars. (Thank god.)

For 2009, Forminte is looking at Izbasa, Tamirjan, Dargoi. He hopes to see Dragoi and Andreea Acatrinei back, but both are currently injured. He also mentions Diana Chelaru. Otherwise, he says, he has not yet found a junior with the talent to replace Nistor. (I assume Larisa Iordache doesn’t count because of her age.)

It’s going to be tough for the Romanians. Lots of problems on bars among juniors (more on Romanian juniors here); I hope Forminte’s serious when he says he wants to work on that.

I respect Forminte. As Al Trautwig always used to say about Octavian Belu, the man lives in a one-room house adjacent to the gym compound. It’s a tough life. Also, if Izbasa is any reflection on him, he’s a good coach, I think. She’s been dealing with this ridiculous schedule really well, and dealt with her World Cup Final disappointment exceedingly gracefully. Anyway, as you can tell, I’m glad she’s still around. I really liked Nistor, but Izbasa’s my favorite current Romanian senior. (We’ll have to wait until 2012 (!) to see if Iordache can grab that spot.)

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Inside Gymnastics is conducting a poll about 2008 as a gymnastics year.

Includes everything from obvious ones (favorite male, favorite female gymnasts) to “Most inspiring Olympic moment (non-gold medalist)” to whether you like the new Code of Points. Even has some questions about NCAA gymnastics.

Inside Gymnastics has been really weak lately (actually it’s easy to see the growing obsolescence of print media even with IG — no one probably really gets news from them anymore, though their features can be good), especially in online presence, but this is a nice trick.

I already completed mine, so especially if you’re trying to engage in some vote-canceling, go there now!

Incidentally, I picked none other than Nastia Liukin for “Most stylish American female gymnast” (Vanilla Star designs notwithstanding, ahem). I suppose I shouldn’t divulge the rest … I have a right to a secret ballot here in these United States. Or so I’ve been told.

I don’t remember exactly when it was than I last discussed this shirt of Nastia Liukin’s, but did I mention I dislike it?

Liukin at a Vanilla Star shindig

Liukin at a Vanilla Star shindig

Although she is gorgeous in recently-printed WWD photos, I’ve got to say that her Vanilla Star collection is not to my taste. And apparently Yahoo! doesn’t appreciate it either: she made their OMG! What Were They Thinking? list. I’d like to thank Yahoo! for confirming my judgment of this outfit.

I don’t understand what this shirt is supposed to communicate. Love eating peace? Love eating peace, the bitter taste of which is masked by rose? I don’ t know.

It certainly is in the vein of Shawn Johnson’s peace-obsessed product line for GK, which is literally called “Peace, Love, Shawn Johnson” (see my post here). Ironically, one of Liukin’s t-shirts designed for VS reads “Peace, Love, Us.” We know they’re besties; is this some kind of peace-love conspiracy?

To be clear, I understand that I, a 26-year-old New Yorker, am not exactly the target audience. Still, I reserve the right to comment.

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!):

Rumor has it that after all the drama of the past months, and suggestions of transfers to AOGC and Chow’s, it appears that Ivana Hong has finally made her choice …

… and it is WOGA, training in Valeri Liukin’s group with Nastia Liukin and Rebecca Bross.

Honestly, I’m somewhat disappointed by the choice. Putting family and gymnastics politics aside (I’m sure that will be discussed elsewhere), I think that WOGA doesn’t complement Hong’s current strengths nearly as well as Chow’s, my first choice for Hong.

Ivana Hong

Ivana Hong

Firstly, I think it might have been useful to train in a gym in which elites train in a larger group — Shawn Johnson currently trains will all of the optional-level athletes. Hong is known as the consummate perfectionist, and I think it might have revived her love for the sport and muted the perfectionism a bit to be in a larger group with other gymnasts. There’s nothing like a little perspective.

Second, it is widely known that Johnson trains minimal hours a week for an elite gymnast — only 24 hours, compared to many other gymnasts’ tallies approaching 40. Again, perhaps a more “normal” schedule would have been good.

Thirdly, and most importantly, I think that Chow’s gymnastics style would have suited Hong. She is already known for her grace, elegance and lines. She lacks power and, in some cases, really big skills. Naturally, WOGA will be a great place for Hong to improve her bars routine, which has been a sticking point for her despite the previously mentioned clean lines and good form. But overall I would have liked to see Hong’s assets complemented by the power and difficulty of a Johnson-type style. It would be like taking Johnson and handing her over to WOGA for a bit more focus on flexibility and bars.

Anyway, naturally, we all wish Hong the best at WOGA. I certainly hope it will get her out of the funk she’s been in. You’ll recall that at the 2007 Nationals she was pegged as one of the next big things, and I don’t think that was a totally unrealistic prediction. Her gymnastics is absolutely gorgeous, and she clearly has the work ethic to achieve something big. I hope to see her back in competition at 2009 Nationals!

Unsurprisingly, China has named Cheng Fei, He Kexin, Yang Yilin, Jiang Yuyuan and Li Shanshan to participate in the 2008 World Cup Final in Madrid. (See here.)

This FIG press release also confirms the participation of Sandra Izbasa, Elena Zamolodchikova and Suzanne Harmes. But it also notes the absence of Anna Pavlova and Oksana Chusovitina. I also assume that Ksenia Semenova won’t be present, but can’t confirm that at this point.

Some thoughts:

Vault:

With Chusovitina (who is ranked first) and Pavlova (ranked third) out, Cheng has the vault nearly locked up unless Zamolodchikova has massively improved since her performance at the DTB Cup. Alicia Sacramone is also up there in this ranking, followed by Jade Barbosa — neither will be there. Hong Un Jong may be the only real competition. And if that’s the case, I think Cheng can assume that this one is in the bag.

Uneven bars:

He is ranked only sixth right now on bars, but she’s the front-runner, with Yang second unless Beth Tweddle shows up. Nastia Liukin will obviously not be there, and I’m pretty sure Semenova is out as well. Dariya Zgoba is ranked high (second) but can’t truly compete against the Chinese start values.

Beam:

I think at this point, I might consider calling this for Cheng too. Pavlova, Johnson and Liukin are among the top eight, and won’t be there. Steliana Nistor is also out, and wouldn’t have taken first anyway, in all likelihood. Catalina Ponor, who is currently ranked first, hasn’t shown up in international competition in a while, so I don’t know what kind of shape she is in. Cheng’s biggest competition is likely to come from other Chinese women, and notably Li.

Floor:

This will likely be the most interesting battle, and it will probably play out among Cheng, Izbasa and — to a lesser extent — Jiang. Harmes is ranked tenth on floor, but I don’t think she has a chance at the podium with these players, unless we see a major mistake. Zamolodchikova could also theoretically compete on floor, but only if she’s in much better shape by mid-December.