I know, I know, most of you are thinking that you don’t need to know anything.
For better or for worse (I would argue “worse”) most Americans only pay attention to gymnastics in an Olympic year. Which kind of sucks for the athletes who are still working their asses off in the years between. The US National Championships were held this weekend (and apparently there was a lack of other sporting events this weekend, since parts of it actually got broadcast on NBC) and I thought, in honor of that, it might be a nice time to check in and give you non-fangirls a rundown of what’s happening. We are at the halfway point in the summer Olympic cycle, which the commentators like to remind you of constantly. While I’m sure it is true that the athletes all have that in the back of their minds, the reality is that what’s going on now tells you very little about what will be going on then. At the 2006 World Championships, for example, the ladies all around podium was: Gold—Vanessa Ferrari (Italy), Silver—Jana Bieger (USA), Bronze—Sandra Izbasa (Romania). If you just asked “who?”, you just proved my point.
If the extent of your gymnastics following has been my twitter feed, you might be interested in an update of the 2008 Olympic team, so in short:
Nastia Liukin: Yes, she has boobs now; no, she hasn’t made a decision about returning to competition; her status as Evan Lysacek’s beard is no more clear than it ever was, but seems to be more or less over.
Shawn Johnson: Officially announced she was coming back after almost two years out of the gym. She had surgery in February for a torn ACL sustained while skiing; by her own admission she’s never had to deal with a major injury before, so we’ll see how this impacts her come back. I suspect if she does make it, she’ll be a different gymnast than she was before.
Chellsie Memmel: After having two Olympics in a row messed up by foot injuries, she is “taking a break”. Basically she isn’t ruling out another come back, but it really sounds like she’s saying “gymnastics, I think we should see other people. But I’d like to keep that big comfy sweatshirt you left over here.”
Alicia Sacramone: ASac is back! I would try to contain my excitement, but if you follow me on twitter you already know. Cliché as it is, I cannot deny my love for ASac or my joy at the success of her comeback. After swearing she was done with gymnastics (the girl had a countdown to her retirement in 2008) she’s back as a beam and vault specialist, and doing quite well at both. Looking better than in 2008 the experts say.
Samantha Peszek: Just started at UCLA where she’ll compete as an NCAA gymnast. Has not ruled out a return to elite, but seems to be having fun with the college life.
Bridget Sloan: Last year’s national and world all around champion. Right now suffering from an ankle injury and a pectoral strain (yes, she strained her boob), she only competed beam at this year’s nationals and was clearly not 100%.
Okay, on to the current competitive scene. Rebecca Bross is our new national champion having finally gotten through a major senior competition without a major nervous error. Second place went to Mattie Larson who is finally not injured. Alexandra Raisman who is perhaps better known as Alicia II for her physical and performance resemblance to ASac came in third.
But the really important things you need to take away from these championships (and perhaps more to the point the broadcast on NBC and Universal Sports online):
Mattie Larson is fabulous. From her smoky eye make up to her exquisitely pointed toes to the divalicious way she tosses her head during her floor exercise choreography. How fabulous is she? Johnny Weir loves her. Yeah. That’s pretty damn fabulous.
Despite my earlier doubts, I think Rebecca Bross does have a personality. And I’m fairly certain she’s just as sick as everyone else of being reminded that the last two Olympic all around champions trained in her gym.
Okay, I’m used to bruises. This past May I got a bruise on my knee so big it left a stretch mark. But Bridget Sloan’s bruise made me cringe. Thing goes down to her elbow. And I remind you that the actual injury is to her chest. Proving what a bad ass she is, she laughs as she shows it to the camera. Love it!
Nastia Liukin is staying in shape by wearing six inch heels. Damn girl!
Apparently Valerie Liukin and Bela Karolyi go hunting together. When Cammy and I produce the Bela Karolyi reality show, this is totally going to happen at least one episode a season. Seriously, just picture tiny Valerie learning to use a rifle from big burly Bela!
In a postgame show Johnny Weir was asked what he would costume Nastia in for her next competition. He began by indicating it would obviously depend on music. When she pointed out they don’t use music for every event he assured her she would be changing for every event. Dear skatenastics gods: I REALLY want to see this happen. Please. I’ve been good!
According to John Rothlisberger, Tim Dagget’s Starbucks order is “swishy”.
I want an alternative commentary feed provided by ASac and Johnny Weir. Keep Tim and Elfi for the humorless out there, but bring the rest of us the funny and fabulousness.
And since I’ve thus far left the men out: Jon Horton has beyond huge muscles, Danell Leyva is prettier to watch (and might be a Santerista), and his father is crazy.