Favorites of 2012

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These are some of my favorite things from 2012. I got into tumblr and used a lot of links from there so make sure to check them out. Also, please don't copy any images and claim them as your own. These images are not my own and the source is posted beneath them. The artists worked very hard so I tried to link to my tumblr or the original poster so you can easily reblog or cite properly. Enjoy!


1. We can start things off with our all-around champion. One of my favorite quotes of the year is from Gabrielle Douglas and is about the crowd gasping on her uneven bar releases.
"I try to make it so high to impress you guys," she said with a giggle. "I hear people (gasp) and I'm like, 'Calm down, I'm going to catch the bar.'"

2. Favorite Floor Choreography: The handstand choreography of Anastasia Grishina's routine. Gif here.

3. Favorite Stag Leaps: Favorites goes to Aliya Mustafina for Arabian to stag and Simone Biles for double layout to stag. Biles' makes my jaw drop every time!

4. Gymnast I Fell in Love with in 2012:


Kyla Ross - I love that Kyla is one of the athletes that you know is capable of sticking her dismount. I love how long her lines are - she has the prettiest bail to handstand on uneven bars and I normally don't enjoy watching that skill. I also love that she connects a lovely switch ring to back tuck on balance beam. Hopefully, she can make the 2013 World team and stay around until Rio.

At Olympic Trials she was the only athlete of the Fierce 5 not to cry but at the Olympics, she was the first one to cry. She even runs to tell Aly after BB to which Aly replies that her goal is to make Kyla cry and Aly laughs when she sees Kyla cry after FX. Other funnies: Kyla cracking up on the podium in Jesolo, and McKayla, Kyla, and Jordyn reacting to something.


Montage Monday: Year in Review Part 2

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Montage Monday: Year in Review Continued
* = tweeted by gymnast
** = a favorite video of mine
@ indicates twitter name

Videos That Took The Gymternet by Storm**
1. HuangQiushuangFan / "Mean Girls" : Gymnastics
Funniest Montage


Montage Monday: Year in Review Part 1

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The first link will take you to their youtube channel so go subscribe :) The last one is a "highly recommended" either a favorite of mine, the video editor's favorite, or the first video I watched. If a video is embedded, the last link is the link to that video. Some users also have vimeo accounts for videos that were blocked on youtube and the "@" indicates a twitter account. I apologize to any accounts I failed to link to this time around. I'll do this again in 6 months for any links I might have missed and will do more awards.Numbers aren't a ranking, it was just to help organize the categories.
* = tweeted by gymnast
** = a favorite video of mine

The Ones Who Got Me Obsessed With Montages
1. AshleyAkaFlipper2 / AshleyAkaFlipper / vimeo / @Ashley_Flipper
Fierce Five Imagine the Fire** gets Montage of the Year Award - I fell in love with this video because of the way Ashley created such build up to McKayla's vault. There's a real sense of suspense in this video analyzing USA v. Russia in Team Finals even though we know what's going to happen. Along with that vault, I also really liked the way she compared the balance beam routines. Routines were similar enough that the comparison was possible - front tuck to front tuck, side aerial to side aerial. Loved it.

Fierce Five Imagine the Fire from AshleyakaFlipper on Vimeo.

2. iLitter / vimeo / @CSaccullo / Viktoria Komova, Aliya Mustafina - Рядом с тобой / BY YOUR SIDE**
Chris gets the Pushing the Envelope Award not just for this video but his videos for the past year and a half. I feel like he really pushes himself as an artist to try something new - like bobbleheads or overlaying the beam on the Brooklyn Bridge. He also pushes me as a viewer to appreciate things that are different, to look beyond the black and white or sepia tone. This video is a perfect example of that.Chris also has an amazing eye for things - I had no clue Aliya and Vika were holding hands before they got on the podium (and he made a picture of Peng Peng Lee as Captain Canada and eventually made a shield for her that she used recently at UCLA!). I loved the Dragon Ball Z effect and my favorite has to be the Viktoria sheep jump orb at 1:05. Great work.


College Gym 101

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The College Gym season is starting next week! I'm participating in the College Fantasy Gymnastics (Big 12) and decided that we can learn about college gymnastics together. I chose a few of my athletes from schools that I didn't know much about. Unfortunately, it is too late to enter the game but hopefully this helps you learn about college gymnastics.

Emily Vidmar Brigham Young
Megan Whitney Washington
Katy Nogaki UC Davis
Nichole Fulton Northern Illinois
Katy Dodds Maryland
Caryn Kadous Auburn
Stephanie McGregor Oregon State
Anna Willette Eastern Michigan
Brooke Evans Ball State

Brigham Young University
Mascot: Cougars
Head Coach: Brad Cattermole, Asst: Dawn Cattermole and Shauna Mertz
Conference: Independent/Salt Lake City Regional
Athletes to Watch: In 2012, Cougars were just shy of making NCAA Regionals as they had a regional qualifying score (RQS) of 194.685 to place 37th when 36 teams qualify. Raquel Willman was selected to compete at regionals along with 2-then seniors. Her favorite event is bars where she boasts a career high 9.875. Look for the return of Megan Bain (VT, BB, FX) and Haylee Rollins who were sidelined due to Achilles and foot injuries, respectively. Watch Raquel Willman compete in the all around (9:33 VT, 29:40 UB, 44:20 BB, 1:22:28 - opens with whip 1/2, punch 1 1/2) here or below. Fun fact: They call her Raq pronounced as Rock.

My Athlete: Emily Vidmar is a freshman is the daughter of 1984 Olympic Champion Peter Vidmar. She last trained at Wildfire Gymnastics - home of Alyssa Pritchett of UCLA and Allyse Inshino of Stanford. Her best event is bars.

Mascot: Huskies
Head Coach: Joanne Moore, Asst: David McCleary, Elise Ray (Ray does choerography for beam and floor and helps with recruiting)
Conference: Pac-12
My Athlete: Megan Whitney, a senior, transferred to University of Washington (#udub) after competing at Utah her freshman year. She appears to be great on vault and beam but Coach Moore says that Whitney has come a long way on bars after recovering from and injury and may be one of the best for the Huskies this year.

UC Davis
Mascot: Aggies
Head Coach: John Lavallee, Asst: Tamara Ross
Conference: Mountain Pacific
Athletes to Watch: The Aggies had a very young team last year so they are returning with an experienced team - they only lost 1 person in their bars lineup. Their goal this season is to make it to NCAA Regionals as a team. Katie Yamamura (AA, senior), Tiana Montell (AA, sophomore), and Anna Shumaker (vault, junior) have all qualified to regionals as individuals.
My Athlete: Katy Nogaki also trained at Wildfire Gymnastics. She seems to be a great all-arounder but I'm not sure where she falls with this team. Video of her sticking a Yurchenko Full can be found here, 2nd bar routine at 30 seconds here. Katy is a freshman at UC Davis.


McKayla Maroney Gets Emotional Thanking Coaches

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McKayla recently tweeted this video. The "Shaytards" are a family that does daily youtube videos and they have 2 girls that are gymnasts at AOGC and performed at their winter showcase. McKayla Maroney was there and had the chance to say thank you to Artur and Galina. "I can't say thank you enough. They've meant the world to me. And I can't wait to get back here and train again because this is my home... I hope I made you guys proud." The showcase starts at 2:47 and it's amusing to watch. They follow their little girls that are in the recreational class and Level 3. It's crazy to think this was how the Fierce Five started or we could be looking at the future Olympic All-Around Champion! McKayla starts speaking at 5:44.


Best Dressed of the Quad

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Winner of Best Dressed of the Quad goes to Russia. They've had a few misses but they've had many hits, and they've managed to stay patriotic as well. Considering their colors are red, white, and blue, quite a few countries could take notice. The source can be found by clicking on the athlete's name.

EDIT 1/1/13 - Post has been reorganized in order of votes - most to least favorite. There was just 1 point separating leotards 1&2, and 1 point separating leotards 3&4!

And the winner is, by just 1 point!
1. 2012 Euros TF

Anastasia Sidorova
I didn't love this leo. It's nice and very elegant and I see why people like it but the mesh ruins it for me. And I think it's the location of the mesh - this very, very deep V-neck. I do see it's appeal since it's simple and classy and the deep purple gives it a more regal feel.

2. 2012 Olympics UB EF

Aliya Mustafina
This was one of my favorite leotards but was definitely my favorite of the Olympic leotards.

3. 2012 Olympics VT EF
Maria Paseka
I flip-flop with this leo. I think it fits everyone really nicely and it's an example of mesh done well. My one problem is that it's a little too dominatrix for me. Something about the way the bust is outlined is a little too much.

4. 2010 Worlds TF

Aliya Mustafina
I really like this leo - the 3/4 length sleeves and the way the design rises to the neck. The only problem is that the mesh makes bra straps visible. Granted, the athletes have other things to worry about, like landing Amanars.

5. 2012 Jesolo

Anna Rodionova
This is one of my favorite leotards of the entire quad. I love that it's patriotic with the red, white, and blue, but I also love the simple, clean lines. There's some asymmetry without it looking tacky. I think this leo inspired the Olympic leotard which is also one of my favorites.

6. 2011 Euros AA
Anna Dementyeva
This leo is from 2011 and Anna Dementyeva has a reason to smile. I like this leo, even the pink version of it. The only problem is that the mesh makes bra straps visible. Granted, the athletes have other things to worry about, like landing Amanars.

Did I leave your favorite Russian leotard of the quad out? Let me know in the comments. Now you get the chance to vote on your favorite leotards. I'll announce the results January 1, 2013.


Merry Christmas Montage Monday Part 2!

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Montage Monday continued! Part 1 can be found here.

Aly Raisman - Hall of Fame
Song: Hall of Fame - the Script ft. will.i.am
Made By: E007y
I've become obsessed with this song by The Script and decided to youtube "gymnastics hall of fame" and this montage was the first to pop up. Aly's the perfect athlete for this song and I really love how it features some Olympic moments as well as some of her earlier days - like when she first launched onto the senior scene in 2010. It also opens with this clip: "This is just a future Olympian shirt. Maybe you'll be there someday." I love the part starting at 1:15 "Break all the records they thought never could be broke (making the AA), do it for your people (mom and dad), do it for your pride (Mihai)." I don't think I could say enough positive things about this montage so go watch it!
Watch here or below:


Merry Christmas Montage Monday Part 1!

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Now that I'm back home from school and free from finals for a little while, here are a few of the montages that have caught my eye. Next week will likely be a top 10 of 2012. I'm leaning towards doing only happy montages and they will likely be Olympics related. Feel free to acknowledge any youtube users that should be linked.

Jordyn Wieber - Feel Again
Song: Feel Again - One Republic
Made By: AlyRaismanFeels/@Fierce5Gymnasts
This montage was tweeted by both Jordyn Wieber and her mom, Rita Wieber. It has mostly clips of Jordyn at the Olympics with a few clips from her younger years. There are sad moments but it definitely highlights the positives.
Watch here or below:

Gymnastics - You Make Me Smile
Song: You Make Me Smile - Uncle Kracker
Made By: SuperGymmie/@SuperGymmie
It's all in the title. This song will make YOU smile. "Olympic feels" as they say on tumblr - happy Olympic moments of athletes smiling and hugging and congratulating each other. Sure to put you in a good mood. I watched it 50 times after my finals!
Watch here or below:


APF Photo Edit Challenge Results!

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The results are in for the first Arabian Punch Front Photo Edit Challenge! Thank you all for the submissions. I decided to make another division so only the Top 2 pics in each division are represented here. Click the photos to enlarge.

Please do not steal the photos. If you put them on tumblr, twitter, etc. please make sure to give credit to the person who made it. The link is above the photo.


Olympic Moments: In Case You Missed It

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Here are youtube videos of the US coverage from the Olympics (so no guarantee it will be available much longer). These are a few key videos below: interview after qualifications with Aly, Gabby, and Jordyn, Uchimura's inquiry, and the "Home" fluff. There are many more videos on Gabriel McDonough's channel. There is also a bonus video that someone took of USA waiting for Aly's score and Aly's reaction afterwards - she goes and congratulates the Russias.

Aly, Gabby, and Jordyn are interviewed by Andrea Joyce and Bela Karolyi discusses the 2-per country rule with Bob Costas.

Men's Team Final inquiry of Kohei Uchimura. It starts with Kristian Thomas' floor routine, GBR realizing they're in 2nd, and Ukraine tentatively waiting as Japan protests Uchimura's score.


Mexico Gala: One Full Routine and Favorites

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The Gala de Estrellas Mexico 2012 has wrapped up and the athletes are returning home. Ciciginastica has made a playlist with many of the routines. You can check out a live tweet of the gala @ArabianPF_blog. Overall, the athletes look to be in great condition. Ana Lago, Elsa Garcia, and Marisela Cantu of Mexico all looked to be in great form. Ana and Elsa even did a few dances together and showed off their lovely lines. As much as we enjoy athletes on the beam rather than dancing around it, Elsa had lovely around-the-beam choreo for her beam routine. Aliya Garayeva, a rhythmic gymnast from Azerbijan, had a lovely ring jump at the start of her routine. The height she got was astonishing.

Maria Paula Vargas of Spain was the only one to do a full routine. Here is her floor exercise - 4 tumbling passes, and she seemed to have full dance requirements too. I really enjoyed it. She was also the only athlete to vault doing a Yurchenko timer and full-twisting Yurchenko. Vaults here.
Watch FX here:

Marian Dragulescu proved to be entertaining with this floor exercise. The music included We Will Rock You, Michael Jackson's Beat It and, of course, Gangnam Style!
Watch here:

Links to Rebecca Bross and Catalina Ponor below.


Montage Monday: Rio 2016 Candidates

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This week's Montage Monday features the future of Chinese, French, and American gymnastics. Take a look at the current juniors and those who are eligible for Rio 2016 in those 3 countries.

This video has gone around featuring Chinese contenders for Rio 2016 by HuangQiushuangFan. I think my absolute favorite from this video is Huang Huidan and Zeng Siqi is growing on me. The other athletes featured are Shang Chunsong, Tan Jiaxin, Lou Nina, and Yi Liting. I'm curious to see who will still be around from the 2012 team for China in 2016. Both Sui Lu and Huang Qiushuang just missed on making the 2008 team so they will be around 24 years old come 2016 as will Deng Linlin. Yao Jinnan will likely want to redeem herself and He Kexin is retiring within the next year. China may have an all new squad come 2016 and these athletes seem to be the ones that China is focusing on developing.
Watch here or below:


Gymnastics Coverage - It Just Ain't Fair

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I was recently thinking how it's unfair that gymnastics gets so little coverage throughout the year. Here in the USA, there are very few competitions that are televised. I'm forever grateful that so many competitions now offer live streaming yet it's still unfortunate that gymnastics gets so little TV time except for the Olympics. I take a moment to compare the coverage of gymnastics, both elite and college, with that of basketball and (American) football. It just ain't fair!

Case 1
College basketball player goes pro: televised production on ESPN in prime time of the player's name being announced, his family's reaction, him taking a picture with the manager of the team and some of his new gear.

Gymnast goes pro: all we get is a tweet


Montage Monday

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There are 3 montages in this week's Montage Monday. Vika & Aliya, Andreea Raducan, and one of Rebecca Bross, Sarah Finnegan, Sabrina Vega, and Elizabeth Price, and the dynamic between the gymnast and the coaches.

This is a fabulous edit by Chris of the friendship between Russia's Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina. He tried a few different effects and I really liked how it turned out. Viktoria's sheep jump looks like it's in an orb that protects all things fragile and beautiful. Aliya has sparks firing from her hands, which goes well with the drama that she normally creates with her performances. Chris also uses a cartoon-esque effect which I really like. Vika has shared the video on her VK :) Congrats Chris!

Viktoria Komova, Aliya Mustafina - BY YOUR SIDE from CSaccullo on Vimeo.


Interview with Amanda Jetter

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Copyright USA Gymnastics

Amanda Jetter first qualified to elite in 2008 and made her first Junior National Team in 2009. In 2010, her first year as a senior, she finished 2nd at the US Classic placing ahead of athletes like Aly Raisman and Mackenzie Caquatto. In 2011, Amanda attended the City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy where she helped USA earn gold but unfortunately injured her ankle on vault. Due to the injury, she was only able to compete bars and beam at the 2011 US National Championships but was able to place 5th on bars.

In 2012, Amanda attended the US Classic where she placed 10th in the all-around and 8th on floor exercise. She qualified to the 2012 US National Championships and competed in the all-around placing 14th in what was likely her last elite meet. After that competition, Amanda announced her retirement from elite gymnastics and her excitement for a future at the University of Alabama.

Throughout the years, Amanda has shown amazing difficulty. She opens her floor exercise with a very high and tightly tucked double Arabian and is able to vault a 1.5 Twisting Yurchenko. On bars, she has a straddled Jaeger, Ricna (stalder+Tkatchev), and a double front dismount. Jetter's beam is full of difficulty with a standing full, standing Arabian (yes, she does BOTH! 2011 Jesolo BB), and a double Arabian/Patterson dismount. She will definitely be an asset to Alabama in the years to come. 


Montage Monday: Viktoria Komova

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This week's Montage Monday features Viktoria Komova. There were so many great montages so I could only embed a few. Hope you enjoy!

Viktoria Komova - Only Human
Song: Thriving Ivory - Flowers for a Ghost
"Who will bring me flowers when it's over?" This montage was made by SuperGymmie and opens with her crying for both of her all around performances at 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics but she is only human, as the title states. Rather than focusing on her errors, it goes on to highlight why she's such an amazing gymnast and that she's a beautiful gymnast on all events which is rare to see these days. This montage made me realize how much she's grown and matured since 2011 Worlds and all we can hope is that she continues to do so and that, someday, the odds may be in her favor.
Watch here or below:

Viktoria Komova ~ Proud
Song: Instrumental + Stop Crying Your Heart Out by Oasis
This montage is great. It feels like there are 2 parts to it with the instrumental at the beginning for Olympic qualifications and team final and the Oasis song for the all around, and Vika's event finals - uneven bars and balance beam - starting at 2:20. Unfortunately, Viktoria did not have the Olympics she was hoping for and this song is very well suited to the situation. 'Cause all of the stars have faded away, Just try not to worry, you'll see them some day." She is already training and has put the Olympics behind her. Hopefully, we see a healthy and confident Viktoria for 2013 Worlds.
Watch here or below:


Aliya Mustafina: Queen of Halloween

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Chris made this fabulous video: Aliya Mustafina - Your Vampire. It's awesome and not to spooky. Now we know why Aliya was whispering to Vika!

Watch here or below:


Story About Bullying As Told to Me by Ana Porgras

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There's been a lot of bullying on the internet lately, and the gymternet is no exception. There have been recent headlines of 2 females, 1 in Canada and 1 in the US, who committed suicide after endless amounts of bullying. Not to mention countless numbers of individuals that have been made so uncomfortable by others that the thought of taking their own life seems like the only solution. October is National Bullying Prevention Month so I figured I'd tackle something that has been on my mind for some time lately.


Romania left the 2011 World Championships without a single medal but they did leave with a prize when Ana Porgras was awarded the 2011 Longines Prize for Elegance. However, fans and the Romanian media were not happy. Soon after Worlds, there were discussions about how Ana was more interested in boys and how this elite gymnast was satisfied with this Prize for Elegance even though she didn't receive any medals. I remember things getting particularly harsh when a Romanian training video was released and Ana wasn't in it. Immediately, the comments ran to things about her interest in boys or makeup when in reality, Ana was competing while that news segment was shot.


Montage Monday: As We Wait for Sandy

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A lot of East Coast gym fans are waiting to see what Hurricane Sandy is capable of doing. I hope everyone's staying safe as we wait her out for the next few days. Here are some montages to tide all of you over that still have power and internet. These videos are not in order of preference. The first 2 you may not have seen while the 3rd has been featured on Gymnastics Coaching and Gymnasts 391. Grab a snack and enjoy!

Gymnastics: Olympics 2012 - Fix You
Song: Fix You by Coldplay

Theme: Disappointing Olympic Moments
This first one is really well done but also breaks your heart. The entire time. There's a moment in the middle where I can't tel if I'm supposed to be happy or sad but then the remainder of the video makes me sad again. Very very sad. It's about all the heartache during the games - McKayla falling on vault, Sandra Izbasa, Ksenia Afansyeva, and Anastasia Grishina on FX, and, of course, lots of Jordyn. There are other athletes that make appearances to like Nataliya Kononenko of Ukraine on the uneven bars. It's very well done and the song fits it very well - Fix You.
Watch here or below:

Gymnastics Fluff: London 2012
Song: Audio from the 2004 Olympics, 2008 Olympic Trials

Theme: 2012 Olympic (Team Final?) Fluff using old audio 


Gymnastics Trailers

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This post is dedicated to the recent videos that have been coming out of gymnastics using trailers to different movies. The 3 I've seen are to Mean Girls, The Hunger Games, and the Black Swan.

This one is to Mean Girls and is hilarious! I still laugh every time I watch it. Cady, the main character played by Lindsay Lohan in the movie, is Shawn Johnson. Nastia Liukin is the head mean girl and Alicia Sacramone is "the greatest person you will ever know." That role suits ASac perfectly.
Watch here or below:


Montage Monday: Jordyn Wieber

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This is the 2nd themed montage monday dedicated to World and Olympic Champion Jordyn Wieber. Just a little orientation: The first 2 videos were made more recently and have a little more Olympic footage to them. The last 3 show more of Jordyn's path to Worlds (Never Say Never and Wild Ones) or the Olympics (I hope you dance). Enjoy!

Jordyn Wieber. 2012 Olympics. Little Wonders.
Song: Little Wonders - Rob Thomas
This is an amazing video of Jordyn Wieber made by carriemydear/@usagymfan2016. It captures the heartbreaking emotions of the All Around final and, at the same time, shows how strong of an athlete Jordyn is, physically and mentally, to perform so well for her team the next day. I didn't realize how beautiful Jordyn's double double is and how she sticks her arm out right as she's ready to land. The mood created throughout really matches with the increasing strength of the music and the strength of Jordyn's performances.
Watch here or below:

Jordyn Wieber - The Unexpected End
Song: So Cold - Nikisha Reyes-Pile 
Another amazing one by fansgymnastic/@fansgymnastic. This song is a bit slower and you have to get through the heartbreaking first half to make it to the 2nd half. Fansgymnastic really highlights the tension throughout the entire all-around qualification, not just the emotion when the results were shown. The emotions by Jordyn and her mother, Rita Wieber, are portrayed. Then, we get to see how much of a class act Jordyn is: cheering throughout the team finals for all her teammates. #classact. One of my favorite moments of the Games is Jordyn reacting first to the USA winning gold.
Watch here or below:

3 more montages below.


Kellogg's Tour: Best Dancer

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McKayla pronounced herself best dancer in a video that NBC did of the 2011 World Champions. Then, she confirmed it when we saw that she could actually Dougie (can be found here). The Kellogg's Tour seems to have brought out the dancer in all of the gymnasts, including the boys.

There's just one issue. Jordyn Wieber has some really good shuffling skillz! Check out this video from the Kellogg's Tour. Kyla also makes an appearance and I imagine this is what the Russians would look like if we also asked them to shuffle - upright posture and pointed toes throughout. Maroney and Aly come into view with Rebecca Bross behind them and Gabby in front of them. It all looks like fun! So, McKayla can Dougie, Jordyn can shuffle...

Watch it here or below:


Montage Monday: More Olympic Montages

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New Announcement for Montage Monday: There have been so many great montages recently that I've had a hard time featuring them all and organizing them. From now on, I'll try to alternate themed Montage Mondays with regular Montage Mondays featuring the best videos for the past two weeks. I am more than happy to receive input from you guys for Montage Monday even if it's your own video, don't be shy. Feel free to email me suggestions at arabianpunchfront@gmail.com.

Next week's Montage Monday, Oct 22, will be Jordyn Wieber. November 5 will be Viktoria Komova.

Olympic Event Finals Montage
kiwigymnast16 has made a montage focusing on event finals to the song Undefeated by Jason Derulo.  There were some falls but, overall, it focuses on the positive of event finals. The montage had me smiling the entire time. There are clips of the gymnasts dancing and Ksenia Afanasyeva's choreography fits particularly well with this song. Clips are also matched well to the lyrics "I can't change the past no matter how hard I try" with McKayla's fall on vault, "this might be my last chance" with Beth Tweddle on bars, and "even gravity can't keep me down" to Gabby's sky-high straddled Tkatchev. Watch it!

Watch here or below:

McKayla Maroney - Round and Round. kiwigymnast16 also gets a mention for an amazing McKayla Maroney video. I like how McKayla's floor routine choreography is put to match the lyrics and beat of the song. It also reminds you that McKayla is a great vaulter but also a decent all arounder. Probably what I liked the most was being reminded how amazing her 2011 Worlds Team Final vault was. I know the judges don't want to see straight up and straight down but McKayla got such amazing height on that vault, it's breathtaking! Keep watching to see how she mixes McKayla's 3 Olympic vaults.


Olympic Wrap Up Part 2: Why The Olympics Made My Summer

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London 2012, overall, was pretty amazing. It was my first major competition as a blogger and it was fun to share it all with you.

Social Media
Social media is a big part of why the Olympics DID feel like the Olympics. Social media was a blessing and a curse all at the same time. It's great because we got to see so much of what goes on in Olympic village, continue our little ice bucket fiasco, and keep a checklist of who the athletes had met. Ryan Lochte (swimmer). Check. Carmelo Anthony (basketball). Check. Usain Bolt (track)... still in progress. We also got to see some pretty amazing tweets. Justin Timberlake tweeted Aly Raisman, Pitbull tweeted Gabby saying thanks for using my music, dale. Missy Elliott, another Virginia native, tweeted Gabby as well. Missy Elliott has a song, We Run This, on the soundtrack for our beloved movie Stick It and Dominique Dawes is featured in the music video as a coach (video here, the recognizable part at 1:12, and some clips from Stick It near the end). Maybe Gabby will be next.

The only reason I say it's a curse is because now we want more. It has only fed our addiction further. If there isn't gymnastics, we search for the instagram photos, wait for Kellogg's boxes to come to our remote parts of the USA, and watch 10 minute long videos in Russian without a translation, and wait.

Team Finals
McKayla had an AMAZING vault. That vault should definitely go down in history as one of the best vaults of all time. I really wish the judges had given her a 10. Maybe the vault didn't seem perfect to you but it seemed pretty darn close to me and many others. I also think it would have done a lot for the sport, and those who hate the open-ended code, to show that the 10 isn't dead. Perfection is possible. Kyla Ross was amazing and did exactly what the US was hoping for. She had a lovely bars set and was her usual solid self on beam. After she dismounted with her double tuck that she went to her coach, Jenny Zhang, and started crying was probably one of my favorite moments.

Canada coming in 5th. I'm not sure there are words for how thrilled I am. I was concerned for Canada with the loss of Peng Peng Lee due to injury but I didn't have to be. Kristina Vaculik did an excellent job leading the team, making her Olympic dream come true. Dominique Pegg was the only Canadian to make the all around finals and placed 15th. Ellie Black and Brittany Rogers both made vault event finals. I think the live coverage showed Victoria Moors on floor in team finals and I was just filled with joy. Her routine was amazing and I wish it could have made event finals. Canada placed the highest in their history as a team in this Olympic Games. What an amazing accomplishment!

The AA was a good battle to the end. It really was neck and neck event after event for 1st and 2nd, then 3rd and 4th. My surprise was Sandra Izbasa. I didn't think she would make top 5 let alone try for the all around given her injuries in the past year. She proved me wrong. Jessica Lopez qualified for the 2008 Olympics and finally qualified to the all-around final this year. Unfortunately, she took out her release move on bars and lost at least .5 in D-score.

One AA finalist that I'm probably the happiest for is Marta Pihan-Kulesza. She also went to the Olympics in 2008 and qualified to the all around final in 2012. She is one that we've seen a lot on the World Cup circuit and she's very steady. She may not have the high difficulty of the Big 4 countries but she's original and pretty clean. You may know her as the girl with the braids and the glitter. Wear all the glitter and braids you want, as long as you keep doing your original gymnastics.

Another one who makes me very happy is Giulia Steingruber. We all know her as a vaulter but when I did the post on athletes competing as individuals, I realized that she's actually a pretty good all arounder. With D-scores of 6.3/5.2 on vault, 5.7 on uneven bars, 5.6 on beam, and 5.5 on floor, she's doing amazing. Her chances for a vault medal were dashed when she fell in qualifying to finish in 9th place, but she finished the all around in 14th place, just behind Great Britain's Rebecca Tunney. I also really enjoy her floor exercise with a big opening double layout and mature choreography to Carmen. Watch her floor from the Test Event here or below:

It's interesting to see the direction that vault will go in given the changes to D score. Perhaps we saw the last of Chusovitna, perhaps we did not. However, I think we saw the new face of German gymnastics or at least German vaulting. Janine Berger had the 2nd highest difficulty after McKayla Maroney with a Rudi and Tsukahara double twist and pretty decent execution. I imagine these 2 vaults will only get better and more precise with time. I hope we see more of the girl who calls Chusovitna her idol and now Olympic teammate. Also, vault is the most diverse event with 6 different countries being represented.

I'm happy for Aliya and I'm happy for Beth Tweddle although that step did scare me for her medal chances. But, to be entirely honest, I am happiest for He Kexin. Her gold in 2008 was questioned because of the tie break and many were even saying that Yang Yilin deserved the gold over both He Kexin and Nastia Liukin. She has struggled a lot since then. She won bars gold at 2009 World Championships. In 2010, she fell during event finals and, therefore, didn't medal. In 2011, she fell during qualifications and wasn't even used in team finals on bars. She has traveled a rough road and overcame a growth spurt and injuries to make the Olympic Team. If you think about, He Kexin went from almost an alternate to Olympic silver medalist. That's pretty amazing to me.

Also, an honorable mention goes to Celine van Gerner of the Netherlands who placed 10th and was in 1st reserve spot. I look forward to seeing more of her and the team from the Netherlands on the international stage.

BB and FX are actually hard for me to write about because of the tie breaks. I will attempt to highlight the positive though.

I'm glad Deng Linlin won. Honestly, I don't see the minutia of differences between Sui Lu and Deng Linlin's routines. It was left in the judges hands and they chose the winner. This is another amazing victory for China and gymnastics. If I had a list of 2008 Olympians to potentially make their countries' team, Deng would not have been on my list or she would have been dead last. She proved me wrong winning Chinese Nationals and leaving the Olympics as a gold medalist.

Although I'm angry that Diana Bulimar did not represent Romania in the balance beam finals, I do have to admire Larisa Iordache for competing through the pain in order to have a shot at a medal and make her country proud.

Fun fact about balance beam: the top fourteen spots after qualifications were taken by the big 4 countries - 2 from China, 4 from each USA, Russia, and Romania.

I'm thrilled for Aly and I think the routine played to her strong suits and to the current code of points. I'm glad Catalina won a medal, especially after what happened on balance beam. Her routine is choreographed so well to an amazing song. Catalina Ponor, at 24 years old (now 25), has such a maturity and air around her that adds to her performance. Aliya was a shocking medalist for me. I thought that she would not make floor finals due to her knee injury. She has proved me wrong.

Fun fact about floor: floor and vault were the only 2 events that did not have to use the 2 per country rule. Honorable mention to Lauren Mitchell of Australia who competed on an injury and still performed well despite it.

So, the Olympics are over and now we wait.

Read Olympic Wrap-up Part 1: Why The Olympics Didn't Feel Like the Olympics


Olympic Wrap-up Part 1: Why The Olympics Didn't Feel Like the Olympics

7:40 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

I wrote this post about a month ago and have been waiting to post it until I had Part 2 ready. Part 2 will may come tomorrow.


A lot of us are sitting, waiting for the next gymnastics competition to come along (which is tomorrow!). We're frantically refreshing blogs, searching for pictures of training, while praying for a new meet and no retirements. After the Olympics ended, I felt empty. That's not to say it wasn't a great Games, something just wasn't quite right afterwards. Something just didn't sit right with me.

The All-Around Battle
The All-Around Battle was probably everything we did not expect. There were main headlines - Jordyn v. Gabby and USA v. Russia - that we didn't quite get. Gabby was supposed to be fighting with Jordyn, not Aly. Viktoria Komova was supposed to prove to the world that she deserved that all-around crown over Jordyn. Unfortunately for this duel, Jordyn wasn't there. We had the return of Aliya Mustafina but who thought that the bronze medalist would, like Yao Jinnan in 2011, again have a fall on beam? Who thought that the bronze medal would be determined by a tie break where only THREE scores count in the all-around? Where did that come from?

Romania's New Kid on The Block
Romania left 2011 Worlds without a single medal. A shocking realization for the country and their fans leaving us wondering where they stood in gymnastics. By 2012 European Championships, they seemed like they had it figured out. Larisa Iordache was to help save Romania!

Yes, that's a bit dramatic but that was the way it seemed. Romania was lacking on bars and Iordache could hold her own. She also had an exciting floor routine that was as electric as her Pikachu leotard. They came into the Games with two amazing beam workers and three amazing floor workers. I was waiting for a duel for the balance beam gold and for a duel between whichever two of the three athletes made floor finals.

Sadly, Iordache's heel was injured. Just before the Games and throughout, Iordache was dealing with plantar fasciitis. She tried her best to compete but it was not enough. After their surge (thanks to Pikachu) at the European Championships, there was talk of Romania fighting for gold at the Olympics. Sadly, it didn't happen.

Team Finals
I am thrilled that the USA won gold but it was not a pretty finals. Much like 2011 Worlds, I was left wanting more just because the competition seemed to end before the meet was over. The USA essentially hit 12-for-12. Aly needed a little more than a 10.0 for the USA to get gold. There were a few missed routines or a few missed moments for USA but no country seemed to capitalize on it as they were making their own mistakes. USA beat Russia by 5.426 points. Remember when we thought it was going to be a tight battle for gold, silver, and bronze? Remember when we didn't know which country would be left out of the medals? It all unraveled rather quickly.


Montage Monday: McKayla, "McKyla," and Gabby

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Another Montage Monday!

McKayla Maroney. Impressed
This one is by AshleyakaFlipper2 and for McKayla Maroney. McKayla's already tweeted this video, that's how good it is. The video starts with McKayla prepping for TF vault, then gives you a little flashback of her childhood, and Olympic Trials - her journey to the Olympics and to that vault. It reminds you how amazing she is at vaulting but also that she is a decent all-arounder. Throughout the video, I was impatiently waiting for McKayla's TF vault and when it came, I had chills. Ashley did an excellent job building the anticipation and using all the different camera angles to build even more tension. It's amazing!

Watch here or below:

McKayla and Kyla. Count on Me.
There's a really cute video of the "McKyla" friendship. I don't usually like videos with pictures in them but this one is so well done with the right mix of pictures and videos. Of course, my favorite clip of Kyla crying after BB and McKayla rushing to hug her is in it. Pulls on your heart a little. :)
Get to it after the jump:


Montage Monday: The Aliya Mustafina Edition

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Aliya Mustafina

Sunday, September 30th was Aliya Mustafina's 18th birthday! Aliya has quite a few titles to her name - most decorated gymnast of the quad, most decorated Russian gymnast at the Olympics, most decorated Russian athlete at the 2012 Olympics, and the list goes on and on. I must admit that I admire Aliya's tenacity. After an ACL tear, she refused to give up and now has an Olympic gold medal, among other medals, to her name. This Montage Monday is dedicated to her :)

Let's start with a pre-London preview. This great video by uswntgymfan (on twitter, youtube, and tumblr) made an Aliya Mustafina London 2012 preview - Will London be her time? It's perfect. It starts with all her nicknames and amazing stats, then goes to a training montage, and highlights her successes at 2012 European Championships.

Watch here or below:

uswntgymfan has made quite a few montages of Aliya. So I strongly recommend that you check out her channel. There's one that she made specifically for her birthday sort of chroniciling her uneven bars victory.

Aliya Mustafina: Golden by uswntgymfan


Readers' Choice: Results of Team USA Leos

9:49 AM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Some surprising results! Thanks for voting! Here was the original post

Three Least Favorite Leos

Third Place with 10 votes - I think it's here because most agree with me - it's nice that it's patriotic but it's not a flattering leo.

Second Place with 23 votes - This was neck and neck with number one for a while. The viewers have spoken: we're done with hot pink!

First Place with 29 points - Surprised this beat out the hot pink! Guess we're not ready for metallic colors yet!

Three Favorite Leos

Third Place - tie with 7 votes!

Second Place with 29 votes - I think we can agree that the leotard looked nicer at the Olympics than on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

First Place with 44 points - Patriotism wins!

All photos property of John Cheng for USA Gym

Thanks for voting! I was planning on doing Team China but it's hard to find pictures. I might do Russia throughout the year/quad next.

Note!I have exams coming up so I likely won't post until mid-October unless something drastic comes up and I can't resist posting (which is entirely possible).



8:01 PM Arabian Punch Front 4 Comments

Vanessa Ferrari

We've seen quite a surge in gymnasts getting tattoos. Full Twist links to pictures of previous medalists and 2012 US Alternate Alex Naddour here but also John Geddert, Kieran Behan, and Jake Dalton here.

Erika Fasana of Italy recently posted a picture of her torn up hands from bars on facebook. What did I notice? The tattoo.


Teammate Carlotta Ferlito also got a tattoo.


Bringing Home the Gold: Aly Raisman

9:08 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Another documentary has been aired on Aly Raisman.

Aly on new celebrity status:
Aly went to a Phillip Philips private concert. It's nice to see her being a teenager, meeting someone, and sharing in the media highlight. Aly also talks about her Poland Spring endorsement, Fashion Police, and the Red Carpet Premiere for Bridesmaids. There's a clip of James Marsden saying he gets nervous around Aly!

Watch here or below:

Aly on 2016?


Russia Update Part 2

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Some more videos were just uploaded of the women training in Mallorca. Anna Dementyeva, who looks to have grown a lot, seems to be training her Onodi to beat jump or another connection. Tatiana Nabieva is looking really strong. We don't see her doing too much in the video but her twisting form has not changed at all.

Watch here or below:

Many have been waiting for video of Vika and Musty. Here, we have video of Viktoria Komova. She seems to be training a full out. This could also just be a drill for her double double dismount on bars. Mustafina is also seen doing some bars.

Watch here or below:

There is also a translated interview with Alexander Alexandrov by Rewriting Russian Gymnastics. He has a lot of insight on the Olympics. Some notable things: he doesn't blame the judges too much for Vika's silver. Rather, he thinks it was her mistakes on vault that caused the problem. Ksenia Afansyeva had only been able to train properly for 1 month before the Olympics due to the ankle injury sustained at Russian National Championships. Also, he blames Grishina's coach for her performance and says that she was not put on beam in team finals because she was losing confidence. It's interesting to see that Russia had already claimed the "troika" - Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova, and Anastasia Grishina. However, time was not on their side with injuries for all 3 and Komova's growth spurt.


A Little Russia Update

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Russia has made available a virtual tour of Round Lake/Lake Krugloye. The pictures are great quality and you get to go through the different parts of the gym. It's amazing! I believe Grishina and Komova are on beam. There's a picture of Ksenia Semenova with Ksenia Afansyeva. There's also a picture of the girls in their classroom, reminding you that these amazing athletes are still just teenagers. Check it out here. When you get to the site, something pops up - the top option is for the women's team and the bottom is for the men.

It's unclear to me if the entire women's team is training in Mallorca (videos of Mustafina and team may be loaded in the coming days) but there is video of the Russian men. Video can be found here.

There is also video of Maria Paseka training a Khorkina II (or Markelov) in to a direct Gienger. 2012 Olympic Uneven Bar Bronze Medalist Beth Tweddle also did this combination. With the new Code of Points valuing connected release moves, I have a feeling we'll see more Tweddle-esque routines in the next 4 years.

Watch here or below:

In case you don't remember Maria Paseka's bar routine during Team Qualifications. Here it is:


She has a beautiful smile and was such a good sport about scratching bars.


Montage Monday

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Three great montages! Two of all of gymnastics (not country specific) and one of McKayla Maroney with an original rap. Make sure to check them out.

Another great Olympic montage for gymnastics! The video is called "The emotions and beauty in gymnastics at the Olympics 2012." This one highlights some lows and highs of the games. At one particular point, the video editor did an excellent job landing the vaults exactly with the music. I also really liked the portions of overlay - Jordyn crying with Aly waiting, Team USA saluting with Vanessa Ferrari on floor. There were also moments that made me smile from ear to ear, like when we see Sandra Izbasa grinning widely with Gabi Dragoi when she finds out she won gold on VT. Watch the montage. It'll make you feel good about the Olympics.

Watch here or below:


Tour of Gymnastics Champions

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Everyday I'm shufflin'

The gymnasts are now on the Tour of Gymnastics Champions. Here are some clips of video! First off, the level of skills that the athletes do is a lot higher than we've seen in previous tours. They're also actually dancing! I haven't watched all of these so forgive me if they're out of order. I haven't decided if I want to go or not. Injury video is last.

First off, Aly did a pretty legit floor routine. Not all of her passes but still, impressive for a tour. here

Then, the guys apparently take their shirts off. here

Then, the Fierce 5 (according to the comments, Nastia is in it too). here


(Epic) Montage Monday

10:47 PM Arabian Punch Front 4 Comments

More montages = Happy Arabian Punch Front :)
There are 4 montages this time - one of Jordyn Wieber, one of the Fierce 5, one of Viktoria Komova, and one of the entire Olympics. Make sure to check them all out!

These first 2 montages probably couldn't be more contrasted. The first one is by EmmsDream and features Jordyn Wieber. It has a slower song and chronicles her career in the last 2 years from 2011 World Champion to 2012 Gold Medalist. It puts everything in perspective. No, Jordyn did not get the 2012 All Around crown but she still has the team gold which was on of her goals and is still just as important. There are also cute clips of her as a child throughout which kinda pulls on your heart strings a bit... or a lot.

Watch here or below:


The Olympics Are Over. Now What?

6:50 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

Now that the Olympics are over, what have the athletes been up to? Most have been doing endless interviews, making endless appearances, throwing out first pitches at baseball games, and enjoying their time in the limelight. Now, many of the US athletes are training for the Kellogg's Tour of Superstars.

You know what else the athletes have been up to?


Here's a collection of tweets from after the Olympic Games.

Actually, let's look at before the Olympic Games started. The Russians showed their voracious appetites in this picture of them eating cheesecake. Each girl even had her own slice. I'm sure they tasted delicious! Ksenia Afansyeva's face tells it all: "Why are you taking my picture with a cake when I can't eat any of it?" To which I say, "Let them eat cake (after the Olympics)!"

Then, after the Games, we had quite a few tweets from the gymnasts about the food they were eating. Tori Moors started us off. I can't believe what she was eating either!


Montage Monday - Fierce Five and Ivana Hong

10:47 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Three videos in this one. They're all just that good :) 1 of the Fierce 5 using Visa footage, one of the Fierce 5 at the games, and one of an elite gymnast now a college sophomore.

First off, I'd like to introduce you guys to GymnastGirl892 on youtube (or on twitter). She's been cranking out the videos and recently made a new one to the song "Sail" by AWOLNATION. I knew I had heard the song before and Sonya Tayeh had used it to choreograph a piece for the introduction show of So You Think You Can Dance. The video can be found here. I believe the 2 dancers are trained in jazz (correct me if I'm wrong!). Don't you wish the SYTYCD choreographers could help the gymnasts out a little bit. Just a thought! Either way, GymnastGirl892 has a montage of the Fierce 5 using performances from Visa Championships. The gymnast moments go well with the rise and fall in the music. Great work!

Watch the video here or below:


Where Have All the Straddle Splits Gone?

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This post was sparked back at the end of last school year. After watching NCAA gymnastics and some of Shawn Johnson and Alicia Sacramone's old routines, I started to wonder where all the straddle splits have gone. The nice thing about NCAA is that there's a pretty wide variety in moves. Not the same can be said for elite gymnastics even at the Olympic level where different countries come together to perform... essentially the same thing. All this data is from the 2012 Olympics Balance Beam Event Finals.

Dismounts were surprisingly more varied that I expected although the same cannot be said for mounts. Three gymnasts performed the jump on mount which is exactly what it sounds like. Sui Lu, Deng Linlin and Aly Raisman all jumped from the spring board onto the beam. It was very exciting! Three gymnasts performed a squat or stoop through to rear support - Larisa Iordache, Gabby Douglas, and Viktoria Komova. The nice thing about this mount is that they all had to stand up and did so in different ways. One point for variety! The other two gymnasts did different mounts. Catalina Ponor did a straddle mount and Ksenia Afanasyeva did a roll on mount. Ponor and Afanasyeva were also the only two athletes to compete an Onodi. For dismounts, Ksenia Afansyeva did a double tuck dismount. Sui, Deng, and Douglas all performed a double pike dismount. Catalina Ponor one upped them with a full-in pike dismount. Raisman and Komova both did Patterson dismounts (double arabian). Iordache wins originality points for doing a triple twist dismount, the only one to twist off the beam.

The current code requires that 2 dance skills are done in combination. Guess what skill every athlete used? A split jump! And they only did it in two different ways. Sui, Ponor, Deng, and Iordache all did wolf jump-split jump. Actually, Iordache decided to be a little interesting and do split jump-wolf jump. The other 4 athletes (Douglas, Komova, Raisman, Afanasyeva) all did split jump-sissones. It's understandable. Why do something difficult when all you need to do is fill a requirement? Do 2 A-level jumps and that's all! I watched the 1996 Balance Beam Event Final to see if this rule was always in place. It might have been but the gymnasts did different things like switch split to wolf jump, switch to straddle, and switch to straddle 1/2. These jumps and leaps are more difficult than the A combination we're seeing now and they used straddle jumps. Also, all athletes competed a switch split.

The dreaded and often overused front handspring - back handspring - layout wasn't used as often as you might think. Only Ponor, Douglas, and Afanasyeva used the skill and Douglas was the only one to do the layout step out. Aly Raisman was the only athlete not to have a front aerial in her routine. Our sport is making some progress! Five athletes competed a side somi with mixed results - some looked pretty, some looked like they were getting ready to sit down. Afanasyeva, who performed an Onodi - side somi, was the only one to connect it.

soruce: monigymnastics

To leave things on a positive note, there was some creativity. Deng Linlin must be acknowledged for her amazing pass back handspring - back handspring to 2 feet - layout to 2 feet - Korbut. It's amazing everytime (above gif)! Catalina Ponor connected a switch split to a Kotchketkova or a full twisting back handspring. Ksenia Afanasyeva was the only athlete to compete a tour jete skill - she performed a tour jete half. I have a soft spot for sheep jumps. Deng, Sui, and Komova all performed sheep jumps while Deng and Komova used it in combination. Deng did a sheep to back tuck and Komova did a front aerial - back tuck - sheep jump.


In the end, I'm still back where I started, confused about the lack of variety on beam. Where have all the straddle splits gone? Sadly, if Diana Bulimar of Romania had been allowed to compete in the event finals, she would've added a little variety with the lone straddle split of event finals. From what I understand of the 2012 Code of Points, the maximum element value for a straddle split variation was a D. There are 2 Johnson skills in the Code of Points. Valued at a C level is "a leap fwd with leg change and 1⁄4 turn (90°) to side split (180°) or straddle pike position". The "D" Johnson adds another half turn onto that. In comparison, a switch leap is worth a C while a switch split 1/2, which Raisman performed, and a sheep jump are both worth D's. The only leap valued at an E was a switch ring.

So, why the preference for front splits when straddle splits have similar values?


Vote on Team USA's Leos!

7:45 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

I've had a hard time deciding which one of the Team USA Olympic leotards is my favorite. I think they're all just average, to be honest. None of them were as bad as I thought they would be based on pictures from camp or Sports Illustrated. Seeing a leotard in motion and seeing a picture are apparently two very different things! My thoughts are below as well as the thoughts of a few tweet buddies and another gymnastics blog. You'll get to vote at the end to let us know what was Team USA's best and worst leotard!

Podium training leo - we all panicked when we saw the pink! It was just podium training though and I think the pink leos with the pink layout of the floor really pumped up the girls. For that reason, and the fact that it was podium training, I'm fine with this leo.


Athlete Superlatives - Coaching Style!

9:41 PM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

The Olympic Games were exciting! There was so much good gymnastics and so much fun on the gymternet :) I decided to do things a little differently with my Olympic recap. Here, I'm pretending that I owned a gym and these are the athletes that I'd want on staff. I realize this gym would probably have to be the size of 3 gyms, have lots of interested young ladies, and have an endless budget. Here's what I came up with for Arabian Punch Front Gym.

National Team Athletes
Vaulting Coach - Maroney
Duh. McKayla Maroney finally stuck her Amanar. What more could you want in a vaulting coach?

Uneven Bars Coach - the podium, Aliya Mustafina, He Kexin, Beth Tweddle
I think I'd want the entire podium in. If I had to pick just one athlete, I think it would be Aliya since she combines what I love about bars. He Kexin has the lovely body line and angles throughout everything and would come with an extensive background in Chinese pirouetting techniques. Beth Tweddle would provide some killer exercises for shoulder strength and flexibility while also teaching the athletes every release known to woman gymnastics-kind. Aliya Mustafina would be the perfect blend of the two and could teach Shaposhnikova's (the low to high bar transition) as well as dismounts where you randomly throw a half twist like no one's watching (am I the only one who gets shocked EVERY time she does that last half turn... then sticks it?!)


Interview with Video Editor Chris Saccullo/iLitter

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Chris Saccullo is an amazing montage maker that has gotten rave reviews from fans and gymnasts alike. Athletes like Nastia Liukin and Jordyn Wieber have contacted him personally because they love his work. Chris does an amazing job of highlighting the careers of gymnasts with the help of the perfect song and the perfect effect. He should be hired for his amazing skills with advertisement. Maybe more people would watch gymnastics throughout the years if he did commercials! Chris has over 145 videos on his account about all different gymnasts and all with a unique style to them. I had the chance to chat with him and here's what I learned.

Tell us about yourself (you can include whatever you want – things like name, age, school/work, sports, hobbies, did you do gymnastics yourself/how far, where you’re from, etc.)

My name is Chris Saccullo and I live in Florida. For work, I'm the owner and operator of a trading card shoppe, licenced in real estate and property management. Hobbies: sneakerhead, bodybuilding, MMA, WWE and basketball fan. I competed gymnastics from 4 till about 12 years of age.

How long have you been making montages?

Since late 2008


Tie Break Heart Break

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The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
The Olympic Creed

As I started to create this post (for the 3rd time), I was looking for something that represented the Olympic spirit. The quote actually challenged everything I wanted to say, but, in the end, I think it still embodies what's going on in gymnastics.

Two other blogs have already spoken about the tie break issue - The Couch Gymnast and Confessions of a Gym Fan. Like Brigid at The Cough Gymnast, the tie break situation made it hard for me to appreciate otherwise stellar performances. Instead of celebrating Hungarian Krisztian Berki's win on pommel horse, I felt awful that the Berki-Louis Smith duel ended this way and that Great Britain was denied their first gold medal in men's artistic gymnastics. Instead of celebrating Gabrielle Douglas' historic gold medal in the all-around, I was feeling for Aly who, once again, was 4th in the world when she wasn't really. Instead of celebrating Aly's gold medal on floor, I was tortured by Vanessa Ferrari's 4th place. Instead of celebrating Aly's opportunity to get bronze on balance beam, I felt horrible for 2004 Olympic Balance Beam Champion Catalina Ponor sitting in 4th.

Looking at the medal tally explains why I am so angered by this tiebreak rule. For women's artistic gymnastics, Beth Tweddle of Great Britain was the only athlete not from a Top 4 country to get a medal. Russia has 6 medals, USA has 5 medals, while China and Romania each have 3 in the women's competition. Yamilet Pena of the Dominican Republic was the only athlete who competed as an individual at the Olympics that advanced to an event final. Vanessa Ferrari could have gone home with Italy's only medal, male or female, for artistic gymnastics.

While athletes should be excited just to be at the Olympics, it's tough for an athlete, like Vanessa Ferrari, to be so close to a medal and have that stripped from you. Gymnastics is a subjective sport, obviously. Our beloved Code of Points is designed to evaluate gymnasts. If two gymnasts are tied, isn't it based on this set of standards? Why is there a need to go further to separate them if the judges already have?

Along with being a subjective sport, reputation matters. As much as we like to pretend that judging isn't biased in any way, judges are humans too. They've seen the scores that athletes score at home or at other international competition. With all the media, I'm sure they're aware of expected form deduction on triple twists or death defying vaults. It's hard for a nation to break into the top when they're expected to be on the bottom. Imagine what a bronze medal on floor could have done for Italy. Do you not think that Beth Tweddle opened the door for Great Britain and for Hannah Whelan? That Hannah Whelan then opened the door for Rebecca Tunney, who placed 13th in the all-around? Judges look at you a little differently when they expect great things from you.

My other issue is more of a plea. These athletes started the quad trying to make their 6-athlete World squad. Then, come the Olympics, one spot is automatically dropped to make a 5 member team. Not only that. Only 2 athletes from the same country are allowed to compete in any final. These athletes are the best of the best, survived the selection process, survived the 2 per country, survived the code, and you STILL find reason for them not to medal? Someone please explain the sense in that! If you've evaluated them to be the same as another athlete, after all the hoops they've jumped through, why is there a reason to differentiate them now? These athletes "fought hard," just as the creed said, so why diminish their achievement by changing their placement?

As a side note, this is the reason I am in support of the 2-per country rule. Balance beam final consisted of 8 athletes - 2 of each from the top 4 countries. In a state of Olympic spirit, unity amongst the world, it would be unfair for certain countries to have an unfair advantage. I would most definitely be a fan of 3 per country with 36 athletes in the all-around or maybe even 3 per country and 12 athletes in the event finals. My reason, again, is that this is a sport of reputation. How is an athlete or a nation supposed to have a chance at achieving greatness if they're never given the chance to compete in a final or if the opportunity for a medal is taken from them?

After losing a spot in the all-around, Jordyn Wieber said, "It is what it is." To some extent, I agree - rules are rules whether it's 5-per country, 2-per country, tiebreaks, etc. These athletes are capable of what seems impossible. All of the top 4 countries have had some dip in medal achievement since the new millennium but were able to come back strong for these Olympic Games. Canada had an amazing 5th place finish in their first ever team final with 2 athletes competing in vault finals and 1 in the all-around final. Brazil has opened the world's eyes to their gymnastics with their now steady veterans in Daiane dos Santos and Daniele Hypolito three Olympic cycles ago. Fabulous gymnasts from Mexico, Greece, Guatemala, and the Netherlands are also forcing us to look in other directions for exciting gymnastics.

All of these athletes and their achievements are teaching me that success takes time but it would be nice to get the recognition when it's earned. I just don't think it's fair for someone's achievement, whether it be gold, silver, or bronze, to be shoved aside on a tie break. Based on the FIG's code, the gymnast earned that placement or earned that medal. Then, let them gymnasts get the placement or the medal they deserve!


What an Exciting End!

4:18 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Aly Raisman hugs coach, Mihai Brestyan

My oh my! The Olympics certainly had its highs and lows but this post will be mostly about the highs. Day 3 proved to be an exciting event finals, especially the second half of events with men's high bar and women's floor exercise. My feed kept freezing for women's BB, so I've chosen not to talk about it in detail here. This post will focus on the last 2 events that concluded our 2012 Olympic Artistic Gymnastics competition.


Uneven Bar Event Finals Wrap-Up

7:46 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Uneven bars are my favorite event. I don't understand all the names of all the pirouette moves nor can I name all of Tweddle's release moves but I thoroughly enjoy watching this event. I'm excited with the way the podium turned out - both who was on the podium and the order.


Explaining Vault - Olympic VT EF

8:19 AM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

In vault event finals, gymnasts are required to do 2 vaults from different families. "Families" refers to the fact that the vaults should have different entries. Here are a few of the different kinds of vaults we'll see in the vault event final.

Front Handspring
From the vault finalists, we'll likely see two kind of front handspring vaults. The first is called a Rudi - front handspring onto the horse with 1.5 twists off. It has a 6.3 SV. Oksana Chusovitna and Janine Berger (GER) and Ellie Black (CAN) plan to compete this vault in event finals.

The other vault we'll see is the Produnova, or front handspring double front, from the Dominican Republic's Yamilet Pena. This vault is the hardest being done by a woman with a 7.1 SV. Pena did not land the vault in qualifications but landed a few in podium training. Watch Yamilet Pena attempt a Produnova HERE. She lands it but has a very deep squat.

The Tsukahara vault (abbreviated as Tsuk) is a 1/4 or 1/2 turn onto the vault. Three gymnasts will do different Tsukahara vaults. Ellie Black does a Tsukahara full with a 5.2 SV. Oksana Chusovitna does a Tsukahara 1.5 with a 5.5 start value. Janine Berger, who could sneak into the medals if she hits, vaults a Tsukahara double twist. This has a 6.0 SV.

Watch Oksana Chusovitna do both a Rudi and Tsukahara 1.5 HERE

Next, and most commonly, we have the Yurchenko vaults. Almost every athlete competing today does a Yurchenko vault. These vaults are a round off onto the springboard with a back handspring onto the horse. The two that we'll see are a double twisting Yurchenko, DTY, (5.8 SV) and a 2.5 twisting Yurchenko (6.5 SV). The 2.5 twist is called an Amanar after Romania's Simona Amanar. McKayla Maroney has the best Amanar in the world. She gets amazing height, is straight throughout, and has enough time for a clean landing. Check out Maroney's stuck Amanar on deadspin HERE with slow mo!

Round off, half on
The last class of vaults that we'll see in event finals have a "round off, half on entry." Like the Yurchenko, the athlete will start with the round off but will do a half turn so that they are facing the horse as they approach it. Again, there are 3 variations of this the athletes can use. The round off, half on, 1/2 twist off is called a Lopez and has a 5.6 SV. Canada's Brittany Rogers uses this vault. A round off, half on, full twist off is not given a name in the Code of Points but is unofficially called a Mustafina. McKayla Maroney (USA) will compete this vault. Lastly, the most difficult in this bunch is called a Cheng after China's great vaulter, Cheng Fei. This is a round off, half on, 1.5 twists off. This vault is out of a 6.5, same as the Amanar. There is training video of Sandra Izbasa doing this vault but it has not yet been seen in competition. We'll have to wait and see what she does!

Watch Maroney do an Amanar and Mustafina HERE.

Things we/judges look for:
Laid out body position - the gymnast should have a tight, straight body position. Legs should not be bent.


Body position while landing - the gymnast should not pike down to early. The judges allow some time to ready for the landing but if it's too early, they can deduct.

Also, the chest should not be low to the ground and the feet should hit the ground first. If any other part hits the ground first, the vault will be given a 0. This has happened to Yamilet Pena when she seemed to land with her backside rather than feet.

It's like when you go in a pool. Feet first! Otherwise, you get a 0

Position on mat while landing - judges will deduct if the gymnast is off center.
Neutral Deductions - the judges will deduct if the gymnast LANDS on the red. If she steps over, it's a deduction but that will be taken from the execution score.

Then the judges also look for good form during twisting (e.g. you will get a deduction if you criss cross your feet)  and keeping your legs together on the entry onto the vault.

Athlete SV 1 Name VT1 SV 2 Name VT2 Total SV
McKayla Maroney 6.5 Amanar 6.1 Mustafina 12.6
Sandra Izbasa 6.1 Mustafina 5.8 DTY 11.9
Maria Paseka 6.5 Amanar 5.6 Lopez 12.1
Oksana Chusovitna 6.3 Rudi 5.5 Tsuk 1.5 11.8
Yamilet Pena 7.1 Produnova 5.8 DTY 12.9
Janine Berger 6.3 Rudi 6.0 Tsuk 2/1 12.3
Brittany Rogers 5.8 DTY 5.6 Lopez 11.4
Ellie Black 6.3 Rudi 5.2 Tsuk 1/1 11.5
*Izbasa may upgrade her Mustafina to a Cheng (6.5).

VT is scheduled for Sunday, August 5th 2pm British Time/9am ET/11am MT. It will likely be sandwiched between Men's Floor and Pommel Horse final.


50th Post! Olympic Highs and Lows

5:43 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

John Cheng for USA Gym


I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who stops by my blog. I recently made it over 10,000 hits and the number is growing a lot faster than I expected. I'll attribute it to Olympic Fever! I also have almost 400 followers on twitter (@ArabianPF_blog). Thanks for stopping by, commenting, tweeting, and just making the gymternet a fun place to be :)

As an anniversary post, I'll just do a few of my highs and lows for the Olympics.

Team Canada! Holy smokes! Team Canada made it to 5th in the team finals. That's an amazing feat considering this was also the FIRST time they've made it to team finals. How amazing?! Lows, however, are Victoria Moors not making FX EF and Kristina Vaculik not making AA finals. I'm mad at the judges for Moors on FX because they scored her .5 better in team finals, a score that would have put her 5th in the event finals. Vaculik had a few errors but I'm just glad she finally made it to the Olympics after injury kept her out of Beijing. Dominique Pegg made it to the AA and hit her events - leaving her 12 for 12 at the Olympics! To end on a high note - 2 Canadians, Brittany Rogers and Ellie Black, will be in vault finals tomorrow!

Team USA - I'm thrilled that we won gold. I'm thrilled Gabby won the all around. I'm not happy that 3 per country kept Jordyn Wieber, defending World Champion, out of the running and that a (stupid) tiebreaker kept Aly Raisman from getting bronze. Aly's been saying, "I've been 4th for the last 2 years in a row. I know I can make it to top 3." She had the chance but she didn't make it. It bothers me that Aly definitely had room for improvement - she left out her punch layout and touched the beam. Both of these cost her at least .7 points and a clear shot at bronze. I hope she comes back in floor finals!

Vault - I'm very sad that Giulia Steingruber didn't make VT EF. She fell in prelims on one of her vaults and finished in 9th place, just outside of the top 8 that make it to finals. In my opinion, she had the best chance of challenging the trio - Maroney, Izbasa, and Chusovitna. On a positive note, Steingruber competed in the all around final. From what I saw, she had a great floor routine in qualifications and I recommend that you all check that out at some point!

Uneven Bars are my favorite event. I'm sad that Youna Dufournet didn't make it. She was my hope for France! However, it looks like it will be a true showdown and I'm excited for that! Just to give you an idea of what we have in store:
Elizabeth Tweddle (7.0) - 2006 and 2010 World Uneven Bar Champion, finished 4th place in Beijing, has an exciting routine with 2 moves named after her
He Kexin (7.1) - 2008 Olympic Uneven Bar Gold Medalist, 2009 World Uneven Bar Champion.
Viktoria Komova (7.0) - 2011 World Uneven Bar Champion
Yao Jinnan (6.8) - 2011 World All Around Bronze Medalist
Aliya Mustafina (7.0) - 2010 European Uneven Bar Champion and 2010 World Uneven Bar Silver Medalist
Gabrielle Douglas (6.6) - finalist at 2011 Worlds
Elizabeth Seitz (6.7) - finalist at 2010 Worlds, competes a Def (full twisting Gienger)
Koko Tsurumi (6.6) - 2009 World Bronze Uneven Bar Medalist

Team Russia - I'm sad for the way they performed in  team finals. They were all in tears and yet they still managed to win silver. I'm glad they rested Komova on floor. Her floor routine in the AA was really the best I've ever seen her do. It's like she saved herself for the AA final. It's also an amazing feat to go 2-3 in the all around. We'll get to see the Russians in every event final starting with Maria Paseka on vault.

Low - very low - would be NBC's coverage. You'd think that it would be better since it's not live but, instead, NBC has interspersed gymnastics with swimming. I love watching swimming but I wouldn't mind watching one sport followed by another. I imagine they do this to keep us tortured fans, I mean viewers, to raise their ratings. At least we get some coverage, right?

Overall, I'm excited for the event finals to come. Vault should be exciting. Beth Tweddle will have room for 4th place redemption on uneven bars. Balance Beam and Floor Exercise also promise to be exciting finals.  Feel free to comment or connect with me on twitter (@ArabianPF_blog). I enjoy my conversations with you all and thanks for visiting my site :)

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