Tumblr Tuesday

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Probably one of my favorite tumblr's is Gymnastics Gifs. This site is amazing! They post gifs (essentially animated pictures) of gymnasts from all over, including some NCAA stuff. There's something about a gif that just helps you realize how amazing a skill is or how on point an athlete was for a specific performance. It's updated fairly frequently!

The picture above is of Sarah Finnegan, USA, doing the Mitchell turn, or the can opener as some like to call it. Either way, that is one very pretty can opener! The picture below is of Victoria Moors, Canada, sticking her double twisting double tuck. It's amazing.

The other tumblr I'd like to bring your attention to is Gym Memes run by Bekah of Get A Grip. Go check it out and submit your own to Bekah on twitter @GetAGripGymblog or contact her in the Contact Me section of her website. One of my favorites from that website is below:

Oh, NBC Trio. What will we ever do with you?


Interview with Lexie Priessman

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I had the opportunity to chat with American Junior, Lexie Priessman. Lexie (Alexis) was born on January 23, 1997 and is, therefore, ineligible for the 2012 London Olympics by 23 days. However, she has been in the spotlight recently for her amazing and difficult gymnastics even though she is only a junior. Lexie is probably best known for her floor work where she can have a 6.2 d-score on floor, when everything is awarded, which is competitive with the United States' best seniors.

Amelia Hundley (L) and Lexie Preissman (R)

Lexie popped on to the scene when she won the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup in 2010 and placed 12th at the 2010 US Nationals.  Lexie placed 4th at 2011 US Nationals and will no doubt be looking for a podium finish this year. After Nationals, she and teammate/best friend Amelia Hundley, were able to go to the Junior Japan International meet where Lexie placed 1st in the All-Around Competition. In 2012, she attended Pacific Rim and placed 2nd in the all around and also attended Jesolo where she placed 1st in the all-around. Lexie will be at the Secret Classic. Here's what she had to say.

How long have you been at CGA? Who are your coaches?
12 years, Mary Lee Tracy

Can you give us a sample of your daily schedule?
Mon, tues, thurs, fri, 8:30 to 12:30 & 2-4. Every other day is 8:30 to 1:30.

Are you in a training group with other gymnasts? What level are they?
Only the elites train together - Amelia [Hundley - Jr], Amanda [Jetter - Sr], Brianna [Brown - Sr], Alexis [Beucler - Jr]

What are your goals for the future, as well as 2012?
To make a World team or Olympic team one day

Any upgrades to be expected?
Nope just making my old skills better

Will you be competing all events at the Secret Classic?
Yes all 4

If there was one rule you could change, what would it be?
Not sure

Your floor routine is packed with difficulty that's very competitive, even with the seniors. How did you decide how to put it together?
I have always been powerful so floor came to me pretty easy so I tried a few different passes and these are the 4 that best fit me!

Lexie's floor routine includes a double double (G) and a tucked full in (E). You can watch her routine from 2011 US Nationals Championships below or here.

Who are your role models both in and out of the sport?
In gymnastics Aly Raisman and outside my older brother and parents.

What grade are you in school? Do you homeschool?
9th grade and yes, I am homeschooled.

Do you think you want to compete in college? Any ideas where?
Yes I want to compete in college!

Do you have a favorite quote or motto?
"Reputation takes years to build, but a second to ruin!" And "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure."

Priessman siblings: Leah, Jenna, Nicholas, Lexie
Photo Copyright Lexie Priessman

Blitz round:
siblings - names, ages - [I have a] fraternal twin, her name is Leah. I have an older sister, Jenna, that is 18 and a brother, Nicholas, that is 21
nickname - just lex
favorite event - floor
least favorite event - beam
skill that took you the longest to learn - jaeger on bars!
favorite show - Pretty Little Liars
favorite song of the moment - God Gave Me You or Call Me Maybe [Carly Rae Jepsen]
favorite place you traveled to US and abroad - Japan
favorite movie/last movie you watched - The Blind Side, and the last movie I watched was the Vow
proudest gymnastics moment - Winning the Nastia Cup [in 2010] and going to Japan [in 2011] with my best friend Amelia

Watch her routines from the 2011 Japan International below or here

Thank you, Lexie! And best of luck in 2012 and the future!

Photo Credit gym-style.com/lexie


Media Monday

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Olympian Dominique Dawes with Olympic Hopeful Aly Raisman

The US Olympic Committee had a Media Summit meeting for Team USA. Athletes from all different disciplines around the US were in attendance. The gymnasts were in interviews for over an hour and I imagine we'll start seeing a flurry of articles about the gymnasts that were in attendance. I believe the only male gymnasts in attendance were Jonathan Horton and John Orozco. On the female side, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Sabrina Vega, Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, and Rebecca Bross were all in attendance. We'll also probably be seeing some new montages as the girls had a little video shoot with a green screen. You can find more pictures here and here from Aunt Joyce.

Articles are already starting to emerge from this media summit. I recommend that you follow @GymNewsTics on twitter if you have one as she/he tweets about gymnastics in the media often. Apparently, Nastia will compete at the Secret Classic but only on beam. Sadly, Rebecca Bross has given up the all around and will only be training bars and beam (source). This has made things a lot more interesting. Essentially, we have more bars specialist to choose from than I thought we would and fewer all around gymnasts.


In other news, gymnasts are appearing in magazines all over the place! Aly Raisman is in June's Vogue. Here is another picture she tweeted about it here. I don't know what you think about Aly and her toe point or whatever, but I really like the picture above. I think Tyra would be proud.

McKayla Maroney tweeted that she, Shawn Johnson, and Sabrina Vega can all be found in Glamour magazine this month. It's the magazine on the middle shelf, next to Oprah in the picture above.

There is also a new blog, USA Gymnastics Fansite, that is basically postings tons of pictures of the US gymnasts. Check it out as well!


What We Learned From Euros

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Source: Grace Chiu via Gym Examiner slideshow

Larisa Iordache (ROU) is ready

Larisa placed 1st in the unofficial All-Around with an amazing score of 60.132. Although Komova and Mustafina did not compete the All-Around, Larisa beat 2nd place Anastasia Grishina of Russia by more than 2 points. Iordache was incredibly steady on each apparatus, including bars. We also saw the return of her old floor music along with her new double double. My favorite thing about Larisa is that she is performing in this routine. The fast paced music along with the fast paced dance forces you watch her. Her tumbling is fabulous, as well. She scored a 15.133 with this routine in qualifications.

Iordache fell on beam in the team final but was set to anchor for Romania on floor. Even if a gymnast does not look at the scoreboard, Iordache was set to compete after the score for the Russians had been tallied. I'm sure she could sense the tension in the environment and knew that a fall could cost her country the gold medal. She was still able to come back and perform admirably on floor exercise. This gives me confidence in her ability to be the anchor as well as her ability to handle the pressure whether it be in the team final or all-around in London.

3-up, 3-count can be deadly

Romania beat the Russians in qualifications with a 177.472-172.562. Russia has an almost 4 point lead based on uneven bars with Mustafina's errors (apparently she bent her knees on 2 giants), they lost it quickly on floor exercise where they had to count a fall from each Mustafina, Grishina, and Sidorova. The lead they gained on uneven bars quickly deteriorated. Although 3-up, 3-count makes it more exciting to see who can hit, we get to see so few gymnasts. It also makes it incredibly easy for a team to slip from being on top to maybe slipping out of the top 3. Either way, the 2012 Olympic Games just got a lot more interesting with Romania beating Russia by almost 5 points in qualification.

Vault Event Finals will be very interesting

The gymnasts that placed in the top 3 are all likely contenders for an event finals bearth at the Olympics. Oksana Chusovitna (GER), Sandra Izbasa (ROU), and Giulia Steingruber (SUI) are all known for their vaulting. Russia also surprised by having 2 gymnasts doing 2 vaults. Anastasia Grishina, who made it to the finals here as well as at the Test Event in January, is also an all-around gymnast. It will be interesting to see if the Russians choose to develop her 2nd vault or to work on her other events. We also saw the return of Youna Dufournet of France to the list of vaulters. She might have made Event Finals had she not fallen on her second vault. Let's not forget that Youna Dufournet, who is normally known for her bars work, is also the 2009 Worlds Vault Bronze Medalist. It will be interesting to see who makes the finals with the possibility of an American being a big question mark, perhaps the return of Cheng Fei of China, Jade Barbosa from Brazil, and Yamilet Pena of the Dominican Republic. (I had to add her. What if she really lands the Produnova?)

The Intranational Battles

In 2008, the buzz story was which American gymnast would take the All Around crown. This year, the event finals will have battles within countries. As we saw on uneven bars, Russia has a terrific trio in Mustafina, Grishina, and Komova provided they all hit. Many wondered which 2 gymnasts would make event finals.

On beam and floor, Romania will have a battle going as well. Four gymnasts are pretty much locks for the Romanian team - Catalina Ponor, Larisa Iordache, Sandra Izbasa, and Diana Bulimar. The only thing that might sway things are injuries. I'm not convinced that Izbasa is at 100% and will compete all around at the Olympics. Perhaps, she will choose to focus on floor and maintaining her Olympic Floor Champion title. However, Izbasa has Ponor, the 2004 Floor Olympian on her team, as well as the newcomer, Iordache, with her engaging routine and sky high double double as competition. Bulimar is also a Worlds event finalist on floor and a Bronze Medalist in the Youth Olympic Games. I have no doubt in my mind that one of the Romanians will be on the floor podium. The question is which two will have the opportunity to try?

Vault is Making/Breaking Teams

This isn't necessarily new but it became apparent that vaults are definitely swaying the placement of gymnasts on teams. At an earlier meet, we saw Ellie Black of Canada has 2 vaults that could contend for vault event finals and we also saw her exciting 2.5 twist through to triple twist on floor. Now, Ruby Harrold, who was not originally named to Great Britain's European team, has a double twisting Yurchenko and a very nice bars set. Rebecca Tunney, also of Great Britain, has had a rocky year. She nearly stuck a double twisting Yurchenko in qualifications. We know that Russia is eagerly waiting for the day that one of her athletes can do the Amanar, the 2.5 twisting Yurchenko. This one event, this extra half twist, is making the Olympic Dream come true for some of the girls. Many of these athletes were not on potential Olympic teams until they debuted their vaults. It will be interesting to see how this balances out on the other events and how national coaches and federations choose the athletes to represent them at the Olympics.

D-scores & Connections matter, a lot

There is no doubt in my mind that every athlete and country knows that they need a decently high difficulty score to even be a decent contender for placement at the Olympics. I think D-score will be a huge issue, especially for the country that starts on beam. Although Russia lost to Romania by 0.752, Russia lost 6-tenths in connection value just based on their first 3 routines (down .2 to 5.8 for Grishina, down .4 to 5.6 for Komova). On the same note, Romania lost 2 tenths from each Iordache and Ponor on floor.

Pictures all from Grace Chiu via examiner.com. Link to slideshows below
Junior Podium Training: RUS/ROU
Junior TF
Senior TQ Part 1
Senior TQ Part 2
Junior women AA
Senior women's TF


The Sentimental Pick for Romania: Raluca Haidu

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Raluca Haidu was a member of both the 2010 and 2011 Romanian Worlds Team. She is best known for being one of Romania’s best uneven bars worker in this quad. She is affectionately called Pitic which means dwarf.

Octavian Belu has previously suggested that the Romanian Olympic team will consist of Catalina Ponor, Sandra Izbasa, Larisa Iordache, Diana Bulimar, and Diana Chelaru. The first three are most definitely locks and Bulimar might as well be a lock since she has performed admirably in the past. The one that fans can’t quite understand is Diana Chelaru. She is best known for her floor work but with the other 4 gymnasts, Romania doesn’t need another floor worker. What they need is a gymnast that excels on uneven bars. The two that come to mind are Amelia Racea and Raluca Haidu.

Haidu won bronze on the balance beam at the 2010 European Championships. She had a very shaky performance with a fall in the preliminaries and was only allowed to compete in the finals because Romania’s Ana Porgras had sustained an injury. Since then, she has been known as a bit of a headcase but has always been used in the bars lineup. Here’s her performance in the event finals (or here:

Raluca Haidu was in a documentary called The Secret of Deva where we get an inside look at the training of young gymnasts in Romania. The first video in the series can be found here: The Secret of Deva

However, the part that made me sentimental and made me fall in love with Pitic (along with the rest of her fans) was at the beginning of Part 3. Watch her reaction in the first few minutes, at just 8 years old, when her father says that she might not make it to the Olympics.

I hope her dreams come true. If she is allowed to compete for the team on Thursday at the European Championships, I imagine this will be her last chance to prove that she should be on their Olympic Team. I hope that she does not fall and she proves that she can be the bars specialist for Romania.

Good luck, Pitic!


Tumblr Tuesday - Blossom, Chinese Gymnastics Flowers

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There are quite a few gymnastics tumblr's that I want to point your attention too. Here are two of them.

First is Chalk Bucket Gossip. The owner is Gillian and there are lots of pictures, videos, and funny commentary on different things in the gym world.

He Kexin and Sui Lu

The other one is Blossom, Chinese Gymnastics Flowers (source of picture above). There are some great pics on the Chinese gymnasts, some translations of articles I feel that we never hear about in the states, and lots of insider information. One post specifically that I'd like to bring your attention to is Balance Beam Champions Then and Now. See recent pics of Li Xuan, Mo Huilan, and Yang Bo. They all look so lovely!


Montage Monday - Rebecca Bross

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The montage today is for Rebecca Bross. It was made by youtube user itstay37. The background is the voice of basketball great, Michael Jordan, from his Become Legendary Campaign. The words are pretty powerful and I think it fits Miss Bross very well. Whether you love her or not, you have to acknowledge the tenacity of this young lady.

She is one of those gymnasts cursed with an unfortunate birthday - she turned 16 the year following the Olympics. In 2010, she almost earned the World Championships All Around crown until she fell on her last pass on floor. At 2011 Worlds, she competed with an injury, the same injury that Vika Komova of Russia immediately got surgery for. However, Bross still managed to earn the bronze medal in the All Around. Sadly, Rebecca Bross dislocated her kneecap in 2011 before she had the chance to qualify for the Worlds team. Now, in 2012, she is back and I wish her the best of luck with the upcoming meets.

Rebecca Bross - Look Me In The Eyes
"I have something more important than courage. I have patience."

Here is another one from AshleyakaFlipper too - Rebecca Bross. The Sun Will Rise. Any other favorite Bross montages?


Interview with Elizabeth Price

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The meet in Jesolo, Italy opened our eyes to a crop of new senior international elites from the USA. Elizabeth Price is one of the 1996 ladies that just turned senior this year. She had an excellent showing at Jesolo placing 6th in the All Around. Perhaps her most exciting result was on vault where she debuted her explosive Amanar to earn 2nd place with a 15.7. On floor, Price boasts a 5.9 D-score with some very powerful tumbling including a double double and a double layout. I had the chance to interview this Olympic hopeful after the last USA National Team Training Camp.

How long have you been at Parkettes?
I've been at Parkettes for 12 years. My coaches are Donna Strauss, Bill Strauss, Robin Netwall, Joe Stallone, and John Holman.

Can you give us a sample of your daily schedule?
I wake up around 7:00am to get ready for gym so I can leave for practice around 7:30am. My dad drops me off around 8:00am and I hangout at the gym until 8:30am, which is when practice starts. I practice until 12:30 and take a break for an hour before starting practice again at 1:30pm. I then practice until about 4:00pm. My mom picks me up from practice, and we normally get home around 4:30 where I relax a little before starting my schoolwork at 5:00pm. I do school until about 7:30 or 8:00pm with dinner in between, so I have time to watch TV and chill out before getting ready for bed by 10:00pm.

Are you in a training group with other gymnasts?
I am currently in a training group with four other gymnasts, three of which are jr. elites and one who is training to be elite this year.

How was training the Amanar?
Training the Amanar was a little difficult at first. It was one of the few skills I've trained that took me a while to get the hang of. But after a lot of training on low, soft landings, I started to gradually work on higher surfaces until I was able to complete the vault at regulation landing height for competition. Watch Ebee's Amanar below or on youtube.

Tell us about your floor routine.
My floor music is called Infiltrado by Bajo Fondo. This music was picked out for me rather than me looking for the floor music. My routine was choreographed by the national team dance instructor, Antonia. Watch her floor routine here.

Are you working on any other upgrades?
Right now I'm just working on improving the execution of my skills rather than the difficulty, so I don't have any upgrades right now.

What do you think your next meet will be?
My next meet will be the Secret Classic.

Who are your role models both in and out of the sport?
I don't really have specific role models. I just look up to everyone who's worked hard and to achieve their goals and become successful.

How do you feel as an African American in a sport that doesn’t have many other African American competitors?
I never really think about being one of the few African Americans in gymnastics. It doesn't bother me in any way. I feel it kind of makes me unique because its one way I'm not like all the other gymnasts in the sport.

Do you think you want to compete in college?
I plan on doing college gymnastics when I'm older. I haven't really decided on where I want to go yet, though I have started looking at schools. [Ebee is currently in the 10th grade.]

Do you have a pre-performance routine?
I don't have any special pre-performance rituals that I do before competing. I never do the same thing before a performance.

Do you have a favorite quote or motto?
When I'm having a tough workout or having trouble doing something, I always think, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13

Blitz round – write the first thing that comes to mind.
siblings: I have two younger brothers: Ethan (13), and Elijah (12)
nickname: Ebee
favorite event: Bars or vault
least favorite event: Beam is my least favorite
skill that took you the longest to learn: Weiler kip on bars
favorite show: Pretty Little Liars
favorite song of the moment: Right now my favorite song is either Taylor Swift's "Eyes Open", or Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend".
favorite place you traveled: Rome
last movie you watched: The last movie I saw was "Think Like A Man".
proudest gymnastics moment: Scoring a 10.0 on vault at my home meet earlier this year.

Thank you Ebee and best of luck in 2012!

Edit 5/7: USA Gymnastics has recently been posting videos from camp to youtube. You can find a video of Ebee talking about competing against your friends here. You can also watch a video of her uneven bars routine at camp with a full twisting double layout dismount here or below.