Some random thoughts on NBC’s Pacific Rim broadcast yesterday…

-In today’s YouTube-dominated gymnastics world, it was great to see that television coverage is not dead.  I actually got to see several routines that I hadn’t found online, and also was reminded how much better quality NBC-filmed routines are than random ones from YouTube…particularly in high-def!

-Jordyn Wieber looked even better on television than she did online…what an unbelievable talent.  My biggest concern with her is whether she might peak before London in 2012…maintaining that level of health and skill repertoire for two more years is going to be a challenge.  After watching her on TV, I’d say even more confidently that she and Komova are the two best gymnasts in the world.

-Interesting to hear Marta Karolyi’s statement about the 2000 age scandal…and even more interesting to see that Tan Sixin is listed as 15 years old and looks about 10!  Surely China wouldn’t dare cheat again….would they!!??

-I don’t think Elfi should refer to a switch ring leap as “simple…” seeing as it is an E element and extremely difficult (especially when done with the extension that Tan Sixin shows)!  And she’s not exactly the only gymnast to fall on a punch front (a D element)…even the best gymnasts have fallen on punch fronts for years.  Just thought they overstated the simplicity of these two skills a bit…

-I think Huang Qiushuang is a sure bet for the Chinese world team this year…even with her disastrous beam routine.  Wu Liufang is definitely a possibility, as I did think she looked pretty good on beam and bars.  If Jiang Yuyuan, Yang Yilin, Deng Linlin, and Sui Lu are all in good shape, though, I think Wu may be an alternate (with He Kexin and Huang taking the other two spots).

-Still think Bridget Sloan needs to ditch that low bar sequence and add back in a stalder full to Tcatchev at the beginning…or perhaps a stalder full to immediate toe-on Tcatchev – that would be awesome!  I think it was good to get her back out there in competition, as this was probably a good wake-up call for her to get back in top competition shape.

-Trivia question…which women’s team has become notorious for suffering the most injuries AT COMPETITIONS of any team in the world?  If you said the United States, give yourself a point!  I can’t help but notice that in the last decade, it almost never seems to fail that an American girl…or two…or three…gets injured in training at a major competition.  I will never understand why in the world they do as much intense training as they do right up until the very day of competition…including the morning OF COMPETITION.  It makes absolutely no sense.  I don’t know how many injuries it’s going to take for Marta and all the other American coaches to realize that THEY HAVE ALREADY TRAINED MORE THAN ENOUGH in the weeks and months prior to the competition.  Forcing one more vault on a hard surface or one more beam routine while the girls are exhausted isn’t going to do anything except what it has been doing for years…injure our top girls in the last couple of days before the very competition they’ve been training for.  I swear I will never understand it.

-It was great to see Sabrina Vega get some airtime, as she was definitely overshadowed by her teammates at this meet.  I was impressed with her beam routine, and she should be one to watch in the next couple of years.  The switch ring shouldn’t have gotten any credit though…pause it mid-air and you’ll see it looked nothing like it’s supposed to!

-A 6.7 execution score for Tan Sixin’s bars???  I know she took a point off on the dismount, but the rest was pretty awesome.  I have to wonder if they actually may have also took a spotting deduction for her coach grabbing her as she was falling back on the double front?  That was a very pointless move for him to make, and the only way I could see justifying a score that low.

-I think coaches are doing way too much in the spotting department on some skills on bars these days….standing there with their hands out on overshoots to handstands seems more appropriate for a Level 9 than for some of the top gymnasts in the world…and so does reaching out during a simple mount over the low bar.  Look what happened to Youna Dufournet at Europeans…the coach had no reason to grab her at all as she was catching her Def, and it cost her a medal.  I’m all for safety, but I feel like many of them are going overboard and distracting from the performances.

-Is there even a POINT to interviewing these young gymnasts?  It seriously is PAINFUL to watch.  I understand a 13 or 14-year-old girl might feel awkward answering questions on television, but my goodness…please spare us!  If they’re going to interview these girls, the girls need to get some kind of training on how to answer interview questions on camera…whether it’s from the interviewers themselves, their coaches, parents, SOMEBODY!  Does NO ONE help these girls practice for these moments that they are inevitably going to be faced with?

-I was VERY impressed with Kyla Ross’s technique and basics.  I’ve certainly seen it from all the YouTube videos, but she truly did look great on television.  I love the way she lands her tumbling passes on floor…very softly and calmly and with a proper stick position each time.

-When it comes to bars deductions, it seems that “handstands” have pretty much kicked “form” to the back seat.  Rebecca Bross’s feet separations and slight knee bends REALLY stood out to me here, yet she scored a much higher execution score than the cleaner Chinese gymnasts, who I still feel are getting hit too hard for their elgrip handstand positions.

-Bross rushes a bit on beam…sometimes makes me a little nervous to watch.

-Aly Raisman is a ROCK.  At this point I really can’t see her NOT making the world team, considering how solid and reliable she has been.  I do wish she would smile a bit more and show some personality…we already have enough stoicism with Rebecca Bross!

-I think part of the reason Brittany Rogers fell on her Tcatchev was because she seems a bit heavy to be working bare-handed.  The Tcatchev didn’t turn over enough, and being bare-handed didn’t allow her to hold on with the force coming down.  Most gymnasts her size certainly use grips.

-The men’s highlights didn’t even fully capture how great the USA men did overall, as they won tons of medals in the event finals.  Danell Leyva won BOTH p-bars and high bar (and also won both those events during the team competition) and also placed 3rd on rings, so showing him fall on floor and horse wasn’t really indicative of how he did.  Chris Cameron won pommel horse and placed 2nd on floor, and Steven Legendre placed 3rd on floor.

-In the men’s juniors, CJ Maestas won BOTH pommel horse and rings and placed 3rd on p-bars, and John Orozco won high bar and placed 2nd on pommel horse, rings, AND p-bars!  Dylan Akers placed 3rd on vault and high bar.  With this big win over China, tons of medals in the event finals, and a great showing at the Moscow World Cup, the USA men are really proving themselves on the world stage right now.  Great setup for Rotterdam this October!

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