Memmel’s big scoring potential shouldn’t be overlooked

It’s easy to underestimate Chellsie Memmel.

Chellsie MemmelFew gymnasts are given less credit for being World Champion. Maybe it’s because she basically tied for the title with Nastia Liukin in 2005 at a time when many thought Liukin was more artistic and easier to watch.

It’s easy to forget that she nearly accomplished the same feat in 2006, leading eventual World Champion Vanessa Ferrari after the qualifying round. Ferrari went on to become the first World all-around champion in memory to count a fall during the all-around finals, something that hasn’t upped her credibility much since Aarhus either.

Memmel pulled a Kerri Strug after falling on her toe-on Hindorff during team finals in Denmark. Only she competed beam and floor. And hit, almost without flinching. Her recovery process took more than a year.

A lot of people don’t like Memmel. She doesn’t quite ooze the talent of Shawn Johnson, and her artistry is a far cry from Liukin’s. Nonetheless, she has almost never failed to hit when it counts in international competition — not in 2003, not in 2005, and not (even when injured) in 2006.

That’s a fact Martha Karolyi and the rest of the U.S. team should take note of. Memmel fills a niche on bars where the likes of bubble girls like Samantha Peszek, Bridget Sloan and Ivana Hong fall short. She’s got good scoring potential on beam and floor and throws a double-twisting Yurchenko vault, even if it’s not one that’s likely to make an event final. Then there’s bars, where she likely would have contended for an Olympic medal — had she been healthy enough to make the team.

When Memmel burst on the scene in 2003, she was lauded for her originality, partiucularly on beam and floor. Afterward, people criticized her form and choreography, especially to the “I Love Rock and Roll” floor routine she debuted at the Good Luck Beijing Invitational in December.

The routine was received so poorly that even Memmel acknowledged it, saying “it didn’t get the kind of reaction that we wanted.” A new routine, albeit similar to the 2005 version, is expected to be unveiled at the U.S. Championships in June.

Chellsie Memmel, 2007 Good Luck Beijing International Invitational All Around, Floor Exercise:

It’s easy to assume she’s playing with a poor hand because she’s sat out for so long. But don’t count on it.

From a recently published article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“I do feel a little bit like an old lady,” Memmel said with a laugh. “I am the second-oldest on the team (to 20-year-old Alicia Sacramone), and I’ve been through a lot.

…Memmel said she is working on a double Yurchenko vault and has returned to a floor exercise routine similar to the one she used in the 2005 World Championships. She has added one release move on her uneven bars routine.

“Vault is on track now, which I’m really excited about,” Memmel said. “Bars definitely took the most patience to come back on, with all the jams that I do.”

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11 Responses to “Memmel’s big scoring potential shouldn’t be overlooked”

  1. Amanda Says:

    I will cry right along with Chellsie if she doesn’t make it. I’ve been watching her improve since she was 5 years old and 04 was heartbreaking. Unfortunately this quad has not treated her very well. Criticism from everyone since World’s 05 and plenty of injuries to keep her in the background for the next couple years. The thing that bothers me the most is the comments that were made (by Nastia) after the 07 Worlds about how the team got along so much better than previous years, meant to be a jab at Chellsie. If you ask me, Nastia is not a good loser (not that I’m asking her to be cheerful and peppy, but she always seems cold to people who beat her). Anyways, I’m rooting for her, she’s a rock.
    Wisconsin loves Chellsie!

  2. TCO Says:

    I hope Chelsie beats Nastia like a drum. Nastia doesn’t even belong on the floor. Chelsie can tumble. Nastia is a disaster out on FX.

    Oh…and Chels looks like a woman.

    Only one thing is I wish she would put back more of the break dancey style forward rolls and stuff that she used to have.

  3. Brooke Says:

    I sincerely hope that Chellsie makes that team! The girl has stuck around forever and endured so much for a shot at this one meet!!! I can’t think of anyone who wants it more than her. Ok, yes, her form may not be the greatest of all time, but would you rather have a few form breaks, or have someone fall off beam or crahs a floor pass? Chellsie is like a rock in competition, and she is definitely someone who can be counted on in a pinch.

    I do think it’s funny how she and Nastia seem to not get along. I think it comes down to more of her dad and Nastia’s dad not seeing eye to eye. Yeah, there probably couldn’t be two more different coaches! It always seems like Chellsie’s dad and Shawn’s coach get along well, as well as Shawn and Chellsie. Oh, it’s just like middle school drama…I love it…..

  4. shergymrag Says:

    “The thing that bothers me the most is the comments that were made (by Nastia) after the 07 Worlds about how the team got along so much better than previous years, meant to be a jab at Chellsie.”

    How do you know that was meant to be a jab at Chellsie? If it was meant as a jab, then how do you know she wasn’t talking about Jana Beiger? 2005 and 2006 world team member, missing from 2007. What about Natasha Kelley and Ashley Priess? 2006 world team members not competing in 2007.

    How do you even know it was a jab at anybody? Lots of people comment on how the teams seem to get along when they aren’t even there and don’t even know the girls. How do you know Nastia wasn’t doing the same thing. Instead of comparing teams she just watched on tv, she might be comparing the ones she watched on tv with the ones she was actually on.

    Hey, it could’ve been a jab at Chellsie or somebody else. I just think there’s plenty of room for it to have been a perfectly innocent comment.

  5. TCO Says:

    Nastia should be excluded from AA and made a 2 event specialist.

  6. MRR Says:

    I want to see Chellsie on the 2008 olympic team!
    Check out my new blog at:

  7. Shana Says:

    Go figure. Most people didn’t like that floor routine, and I actually enjoyed the fact that someone out there had good taste in music. Shameful.

    I really hope to see Chellsie on the Olympic team in August.

    On the other hand, I’d rather not sit here and bash other gymnasts in order to justify my support for her, when it’s really not needed.

  8. shergymrag Says:

    My first impression was that her choreography didn’t go with the music. Her hands seem especially out of place. She needs strong hands for this piece and she has fru-fru wannabe elegant hands. Except for the hands, it doesn’t seem to look so bad now though. I also didn’t like this version of “I love Rock and Roll”. I think with a better version of ILRAR and some more work on the choreography, she could salvage this routine.

  9. Facts Says:

    Those comments by Nastia were meant to be a jab. Nastia had her little gang with her at those worlds. She, Alicia, Shayla, Sam and Ivana are like the snobby girls at school that think they are cooler then you and let you know it with their bad attitudes and dirty looks. Only they are wrong and nobody likes them.

    Nastia has been threatened by Chellsie for years and after Chellsie beat Nastia it got worse. Memmel is just a nice kid. She is not the prima donna Nastia and Alicia think they are.

  10. GoUSA Says:

    “Those comments by Nastia were meant to be a jab. Nastia had her little gang with her at those worlds. She, Alicia, Shayla, Sam and Ivana are like the snobby girls at school that think they are cooler then you and let you know it with their bad attitudes and dirty looks. Only they are wrong and nobody likes them.”

    Well, I like her and so do plenty of other Gymnastics fans I know. I appreciate Nastia’s attention to detail, grace, lines, and artistry. She is one of the few athletes who actually dances (Mattie Larson being another) instead of taking the cop out of flinging her arms around in the corners and calling that “choreography”.

    All that said, Memmel was breathtaking at the trials and arguablly the crowd favorite by the end. I was there, and she got a standing ovation after her floor routine and a long cheer of support. She is not an underdog by any means at this point.

    There is no reason one has to take sides in this thing. Both are fantastic athletes with much to bring to the team, and they both belong on the team. And from where I sat, they seemed happy for each other as well.

  11. ATLK Says:

    agreed, Nastia and Mattie are beautiful dancers… something that needs to be re-focused on in the sport. Watching Nastia is an absolute pleasure, she truly has brought back the art of graceful movements to american gymnastics.

    and Chellsie… well she really is “a good kid.” she’s fantastic, she’s solid, and she’s more deserving at this point than any olympic hopeful I know. I’ve been following her since she was ten… when she won the junior division at the US Classic in Rochester. And Andy never holds back emotions at competitions, which is also wonderful to watch.

    I love Nastia. I love Shawn. I love Alicia. I love Sam. I love Ivana. I love all of them. But most of all I love Chellsie. I also, was at Trials and was a part of that standing ovation. It was a great end to a great weekend. But ..why do we need to create such an assumed rivalry?? Are they not ALL in this together to win American Gold in Bejjiing?

    I agree with GoUSA… lets not take sides. The only side we should take from now on is the side of Team USA!!

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