The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Shawn Johnson

Well, I have survived the MCAT (score pending) and my dissertation proposal (passed!). And I’m back!

A top ten of things I’ve missed, ’cause I’m not going back to talk about all of it. Looking forward now, folks! (And, no, I do not care that Shannon Miller is preggers.)

Oksana Chusovitina

Oksana Chusovitina

8. Oksana Chusovitina retires: I’ve never been the biggest fan, but she’s pretty amazing. Sad to see her go.

7. Jordyn Wieber wins the American Cup: Honestly, I enjoy her, and I think that her gymnastics is maturing quite well. I thought the most ridiculous thing about the American Cup was listening to Tim Daggett go on and on about Wieber’s toe-on on bars, and how she doesn’t put both feet on at the same time, and how it’s an eyesore. News flash: people used to do this all the time.

6. Shawn Johnson wins DWTS, insults everyone in US Weekly: I was happy with Johnson’s win; I thought she was quite good. And I really do think she is an amazing gymnast. But I am disappointed that she appears to have left gymnastics behind …. And then she said that she was an outcast on the national team, which seems plausible and might explain her less-than-ferocious desire to return to gymnastics. Still, by contrast, it was nice to see that Nastia Liukin (not always my favorite) is, by contrast, sticking with it. UPDATE: Apparently Johnson’s mirrorball is broken.

5. The FIG sucks: A KISS AND CRY CORNER? What a mockery of any sport. On the other hand, the suggested revamping of judging that should have scores coming faster is good.

4. Semenova is a world-class gymnast, remember? Ksenia Semenova and Ksenia Afanasyeva went 1-2 at Europeans. Semenova was 4th in Beijing. She is a stupendous gymnast, and not just on bars. Her floor is much more mature (as is her body.) And Ariella Kaeslin in third!

Youna Dufournet

Youna Dufournet

3. Youna Dufournet scares the crap out of everyone: At SCAM and Europeans, Dufournet totally falls apart on floor, scaring everyone. But then at French nationals this past week, she pulls out an awesome Def (apparently only French women are allowed to do that skill?)! (Interestingly, Dufournet still lost to Marine Petit and Rose Bellemare.)

2. Jade Barbosa wants to compete at Nationals: Somehow, Jade Barbosa, who has necrosis in her hand is training again. There are no words.

1. Nicolae Forminte has cancer: Skin cancer is very treatable, but if it is true that his wife noticed this spot a long time ago, well, that’s not so great. Prosport has the story. I like Forminte. A lot.

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.

As first reported by Andrea at Live.Breath.Love.Gymnastics, Shawn Johnson has posted to her official blog that she is back in the gym training.

Shawn Johnson is back in the gym

Shawn Johnson is back in the gym

In addition to getting back into shape with a personal trainer, Johnson reports that she will be on a new Cheerios box. Apparently she is the first athlete to be featured by Cheerios. Recall that Nastia Liukin was offered the Wheaties box over Johnson when Liukin won the all-around. I actually think it’s been really good for gymnastics that both girls have been embraced by the media; it’s double the coverage for this sport.

I am really happy to hear that Johnson is back in the gym. I think she still has a lot of gymnastics in her, particularly because of the low injury rate she’s had. Moreover, as I’ve previously said, I really appreciate that she keeps a good balance with school and gymnastics. I think that’s helped her in the past and, more importantly, I think it will help her for this next stage.

Weird SJ merchandise

Weird SJ merchandise

While I’m on the topic of her Web site, *what* is up with her store? I can imagine a lot of kids (or their parents) would pony up for Shawn Johnson t-shirts, sweatshirts, whatever, but her store only sells this weird jewelry based on the Beijing Olympic mascots. And it’s expensive! Who is buying the diamond pendants for $750? The cheapest thing is thirty dollars; I suppose that’s not so bad. On the other hand, it’s not really SJ-related, but Olympics-related. Sometimes you gotta wonder. If I were a parent, I’d buy my kid this “Team Johnson” shirt from cafepress.com instead.

"Peace, Love, Shawn Johnson"

Peace, Love, Shawn Johnson

And while we’re on the subject of questionable merchandise, USA Gymnastics announced that GK will be releasing a whole line of SJ leotards featuring her signature and the dreaded peace sign. We know she loves it, but come on. I suppose I’m not the target audience though. The collection, and I am not kidding, is called “Peace, Love, Shawn Johnson.”

Endorsement deals are fine. And honestly, I like the colors of the sample leotard posted here. I suppose it isn’t too egregious when you compare it to a lot of other gymnastics fashion.

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!

A new article from Pro Sport announces more bad news (and brief good news) for Russian gymnastics.

Alexander Kiryashov has said that Liudmila Grebenkova-Ezhova will not compete in the World Cup Final in Madrid in December. Why? Ironically, a knee injury.

Liudmila Grebenkova

Liudmila Grebenkova at the 2008 Olympics

Grebenkova was qualified in 13th place on beam. This leaves the Russians with few people for the WCF — Anna Pavlova (qualified on beam and vault) is out with torn knee ligaments suffered at the DTB Cup earlier this month; and Ksenia Semenova (qualified on bars and beam) has an elbow injury. Elena Zamolodchikova (qualified on vault and floor) is back — she was at the DTB Cup — but not performing at the highest level.

Enter Yulia Lozhecko.

Yulia Lozhecko at last year's World Championships

Yulia Lozhecko at last year's World Championships

According to this same article, Lozhecko has experienced “psychological problems” after not being selected for the Olympic team. But things are going better, according to Kiryashov. She has been training again at Round Lake since November 6th and her chances of attending the WCF are “more realistic” now that Grebenkova cannot attend.

The whole thing is a little ironic given that Lozhecko is actually ranked 12th to Grebenkova’s 13th on beam, but so national gymnastics politics goes. I’d be very happy to see Lozhecko at this year’s WCF, and given her 12th-place ranking, she should have no trouble qualifying. (Pavlova, ranked above her, is out. Nistor is retired, Liukin and Johnson will undoubtedly not attend, etc.)

For the record, Semenova is ranked 23rd on beam, with Ksenia Afanasyeva 26th. Other than Zamolodchikova and Pavlova, the Russians have no one in the top thirty on vault. Irina Isayeva is the only Russian other than Semenova who is in the top thirty on bars. Zamolodchikova is ranked 14th on floor, with Ekaterina Kramarenko tied for 29th.

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:

Inside Gymnastics, an American gymnastics magazine (whose online coverage has been extremely intermittent and generally disappointing lately) will launch a radio program this Thursday, November 20th at 5 p.m. EST.

According to this notice, the program will be hosted by John Roethlisberger and will feature Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin and Shannon Miller.

The first broadcast will stream live on insidegymnastics.com.

I have a great fondness for Shawn Johnson, and I’ve got to say, she’s grown up quite a bit since her first interviews. This is an interview she did with WHO radio in Iowa on November 14th.

Of course, most importantly, with regard to training for 2012:

As of right now, I would love to be there. There’s a lot of training involved, especially since the Tour we’ve taken about two months kind of off, it’s kind of relaxing and having fun. But I don’t know, there’s something in me that still wants to compete, and if I can be there in 2012 I will be.

With respect to 2009, she said that if she is ready for it, she’ll compete. But she also mentioned “other opportunities that arise.” Here’s hoping to see her by Nationals and Worlds.

With regards to school (always a big question for me), she says she will go from January through the summer to catch up. And she’ll be going back to her high school. I love to hear her saying that she loves school and can’t wait to go back.

The DTB Cup Finals were contested today, and Cheng Fei walked away with dominating victories on her three events, vault, beam and floor.

Cheng Fei on floor at the DTB Cup

Cheng Fei on floor at the DTB Cup

Before I go into the details, the news and how this affects world rankings. Results are at the bottom. This event was only televised in China as far as I know, but video of Cheng’s three victory routines is available on youtube from WangXiangu.

News:

  • Anna Pavlova was hurt on beam with torn ligaments in her knee
  • Yang Yilin came back from her problem on bars in qualifications to take third on beam and floor
  • Australia’s Lauren Mitchell performed extremely well, taking silvers on beam and floor
  • Cheng’s floor win moves her into first place in the world rankings

Rankings:

Fei will remain second in the vault rankings, unable to overtake Oksana Chusovitina’s giant lead. However, it looks like Chusovitina will probably not be able to compete in the World Cup Final in Madrid, meaning Fei will go into that event as the highest-ranked vaulter. Pavlova will remain in third. Aasje Van Walleghem will move into the high teens from a rank of 22.

He Ning‘s finish on bars won’t move her into contention for the WCF. Anastasia Koval, currently 15th, will move up, but she’s behind a number of strong contenders and even long-retired Emilie Lepennec.

Fei’s win on beam will move her ahead of Shawn Johnson and into fourth in the world rankings. She would have gone to the WCF on this event anyway. She will not, however, pass Pavlova, currently in third. Mitchell, currently ranked 27th, will move into the high teens in rank, but that probably won’t do much for her. Yang is not currently ranked in the top thirty.

The big news is that Cheng’s win on floor will move her above Sandra Izbasa into the first rank on floor. Neither Yang nor Mitchell are in the top thirty anyway.

Detailed report:

Bars was competed before vault today, but I’m going to do my discussion in Olympic order. By the way, I’m getting all of my information from the DTB ticker, which was incidentally a nice addition to the organization of this meet.

Cheng and Pavlova, given their start values, were the two to beat on this event, and wound up finishing 1-2. Both competed a a DTY and round-off half-ons with layout front half-offs. Fei completed her DTY with a small step for a 15.125 and also performed a solid second vault. Pavlova finished with a substantial enough step on the Yurchenko to finish with a 14.700 and a fall to the knee on the half-on layout front half-off for a 13.400. Aagje Van Walleghem of Belgium competed a Yurchenko 3/2 with a big jump forward on the landing and a well-done half-on piked front half-off to take the bronze. For those not familiar with the name, Van Walleghem has been around for quite some time (she is now 21) and competed at Athens, but missed qualifying to Beijing after a below-par performance at Worlds in 2007. Incidentally, Elena Zamolodchikova competed the same two vaults as Cheng and Pavlova, but with major missteps, including a bent forward landing on the DTY (14.625) and a fall forward on her half-on layout front half-off (13.825). She finished sixth. Despite the highest start value of the day on a laid-out Rudi (6.3), Ariella Käslin finished fourth after falling on the Rudi and competing only a Yurchenko full as her second vault.

Bars was a fairly low-key affair with only He Ningand Koval as legitimate contenders. They both began with 6.9 start values. Kim Bui and Jenny Brunner (6.6 and 6.5 start values) could possibly have competed against them, but had major mistakes and wound up with B-scores in the 7’s. He Ning threw both straddled and piked Jaegers, showed nice el-grip work and finished with a solid double layout dismount. Koval, the fifth-place finisher in Beijing, performed a piked Hindorff, a Stadler full-in to a high Tkatchev and a stuck double front dismount. The Germans, Brunner and Bui, placed third and fifth. Brunner performed a piked Jaeger and a layout front with half-twist dismount. Bui went from fourth in qualifications to fifth in finals after a problem on the low bar despite a nice Shapashnikova and a good Geinger with a Tsukahara dismount. Note that Yang probably would have been in this final if it hadn’t been for a fall on a 1.5 pirouette and a few steps on her dismount in qualifications.

The beam final finished in A-score order, with Cheng on top and Australia’s beam specialist Lauren Mitchell taking silver. Yang, depsite the problems on bars, came back for a third-place finish on beam (and floor, see below). Cheng had no major errors despite a step sideways on her 2.5 twisting dismount dismount, though she had some small steps, notably on her standing pike. Mitchell continues to do the squat double turn, which I hate, and had a problem hafter her layout stepout layout back, but finished solidly after perofrming a good aerial to two feet and a standing front tuck and a flick-flack to double pike. Yang performed an Onodi flip-flop layout step-out combo and had no major errors except a small step on her 2.5 twisting dismount. Yulia Lozhecko was wobbly on her front aerial to scale and side somis and performed only an OK double pike dismount to finish sixth. Most importantly and sadly, Pavlova had some major wobbles during her routine, including on the full turn, and fell on her dismount, injuring her knee.

Maybe the biggest news on the floor final is that Bui tied with Yang for third. Yang went OOB on her 2.5 twist and underrotated her triple twist mount. Apparently her triple turn was very pretty, and was quite nearly a 3.5. Bui performed a Tsukahara with a small step and nailed her 2.5 twist to layout with a half, 1.5 forward twist and double pike dismount. Cheng took first, as noted, with a piked Tsukahara, triple twist, 1.5 twist to full and a 2.5 twisting dismount. Mitchell finished second with a piked Tsukahara (OOB), a double Arabian, a nice double twist and a double pike dismount, all with generally strong landings, but fell out of her triple turn. Daniele Hypolito was a disappointment, finishing wiht a score in the 12’s with a double pike mount and an underroted 2.5 twisting dismount.

Vault

1. Cheng Fei (CHN) 14.900
2. Aagje Van Walleghem (BEL) 14.275
3. Anna Pavlova (RUS) 14.050

Bars

1. He Ning 15.350
2. Anastasia Koval 15.050
3. Jenny Brunner 14.150

Beam

1. Cheng Fei (CHN) 15.425
2. Lauren Mitchell (AUS) 15.150
3. Yang Yilin (CHN) 15.075

Floor

1. Cheng Fei (CHN) 15.250
2. Lauren Mitchell (AUS) 14.675
3. Yang Yilin (CHN)/Kim Bui (GER) 14.075

Full results are available here.


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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