Johnson, Wieber win U.S. Championships

Shawn JohnsonThe rivalry between two gymnasts who basically could not be more different played itself out in the junior and senior division of the U.S. Championships, which wrapped today in Boston, and in both cases the smaller, more powerful gymnasts prevailed.

From the Associated Press:

BOSTON (AP) — Shawn Johnson’s music stopped, and a gleaming smile spread across her face.

One more title down, the biggest one still to go.

The reigning world champion took the first round in a rivalry with teammate Nastia Liukin that is sure to captivate all the way through the Beijing Olympics, winning her second straight title at the U.S. gymnastics championships on Saturday. Johnson finished with a score of 127.5, edging Liukin by a mere point.

Comeback kid Chellsie Memmel was third with another impressive performance. The 2005 world champion has missed most of the last two years after blowing out her right shoulder, but she’s showing everyone she wants a spot on that Olympic team. Bad. Samantha Peszek, a member of last year’s team that won the gold medal at the world championships, was fourth.

The top 12 and others chosen by the selection committee now advance to the Olympic trials, June 19-22 in Philadelphia. The top two at trials earn spots in Beijing, with the remaining four members of the team and up to three alternates named after a July 20 selection camp at the Karolyi ranch.

Elsewhere, they’re still working out some kinks.

The look on Alicia Sacramone’s face after her first vault was much like the clip NBC showed of the 16-year-old who was eliminated from the Olympic running after finishing 19th in Nashville. Steady Samantha Peszek had a fall on perhaps the least expected event, and Liukin broke 17 on bars despite a dismount some believed she could have lost as much as eight tenths on.

Liukin did, however, do the first completely clean floor routine since the 2006 American Cup, leaving some to wonder: What if she could put everything together in a competition like the Olympic Games? Could she possibly beat Johnson?

On the brighter side, Ivana Hong looked more mature and improved. If there were two people who could be completely satisfied with their competitions, it’s Johnson and Memmel. Johnson was nearly flawless through two days of competition — the least anyone could say of her performance was that she took a large step on her beam dismount on day one, and steps on her very difficult Amanar vault.

Memmel was the one to pull a little surprise, something extra, just to show everyone she’s as competitive — and exciting — as she was in 2003. Her Yurchenko one and a half vault (she was expected to compete only a Yurchenko full) put a huge smile on my face and undoubtedly made many fans stand up and cheer.

If the Olympic selection were tomorrow, the top three at this competition would almost without question be on the team. Other questions remain.

1. Is this U.S. team — Johnson, Memmel, Liukin — and three others, possibly Peszek, Hong, Shayla Worley, Jana Bieger or Bridget Sloan good enough to beat the somewhat undetermined Chinese team? (Call it Cheng Fei, Jiang Yuyuan, He Kexin and three others, possibly Sui Lu, Deng Linlin, He Ning, Yang Yilin or Xiao Sha)

2. More pressing at the moment: Who’s going to do all-around for the U.S.? Johnson certainly, but Liukin or Memmel?


Footnote: In the junior division, 12-year-old Jordyn Wieber, a sort of Shawn Johnson miniature, defeated 15-year-old Samantha Shapiro, whose elegance is Liukin-like. Wieber, who turns 13 in July, is the youngest U.S. Champion since Dominique Moceanu won the U.S. junior title in 1994. Is this the rivalry of the future?

23 Responses to “Johnson, Wieber win U.S. Championships”

  1. dominique moceanu | Hottags Says:

    […] Johnson, Wieber win US Championships… a sort of Shawn Johnson miniature, defeated 15-year-old Samantha Shapiro, whose elegance is Liukin-like. Wieber, who turns 13 in July, is the youngest US Champion since Dominique Moceanu won the US junior title in 1994. …The Gymblog – […]

  2. Gabrielle Says:

    Until anyone beats Nastia Liukin (other than Shawn), she will be the other all around qualifier. Why don’t people understand that?

  3. Katrina Says:

    Seriously (now this my own opinion) but why are people fawning on Nastia? Her only good event is Beam. Her cast down on bars (and Ivana too) is deplorable! The whole head stuck out like a turtle and then arching the back looks sick… Why people why!

    Anyway go Shawn and Chellsie!

  4. Gabrielle Says:

    Gymnastics is not about being pretty anymore. It’s about start values. It doesn’t matter that Nastia has an ugly cast.. she could have fallen multiple times and still been national champion on bars. The fact that she has a 7.7 A score is enough. This is why no one will overtake her second place standing.

  5. amy Says:

    omg why are people talking shit about nastia..had she not fallen in day one she could have beat Shawn…

  6. TCO Says:

    The methods for getting bonus value on bars are flawed. Next CoP, Nastia won’t get a 7.7 for that routine. In addition, judges are STILL going easy on B score deductions for gymnasts with hard routines (better than before, though). Still, her dismount is messed up BOTH in landing and in cowboying. Plus she does a froggy-legged knee bend on her giants.

  7. TCO Says:

    Please turn off the “snapshots” feature for links. It makes it very difficult to go to other sites, especially when right clicking to open new window/tab (requires tight mouse control). Plus it looks ugly.

  8. david Says:

    “The whole head stuck out like a turtle and then arching the back looks sick… ”

    That’s just so mean, Katrina. but I loved it. LOL

  9. becca Says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Zhang Nan ends up on the Chinese team. A month or so it didn’t look likely, because she really is only their third best beam worker.

    But Li, Xiao, Deng and Sui Lu are very inconsistent. And Zhang Nan is extremely consistent and proven under pressure. The Chinese team leaders would be very foolish at this point if they weren’t at least considering her.

  10. david Says:

    According to the next round coding rules, the A scores of current top 5 bars routines will look like these:

    He Kexin 7.7 –> 7.0
    Beth Tweddle 7.4 –> 6.7
    Yang Yilin 7.7 –> 6.4
    Ksenia Smenova 7.2 –> 6.4
    Nastia Liukin 7.7 –> 6.3

    They just seem more reasonable to me.

  11. Isis Says:


    Where did you get the info about the A-scores with the COP changes?

    Well, I hope you’re right – that seems far more reasonable. It just doesn’t make sense that the A-score of a crazy-difficult bars routine should be more than a point higher than the A-score of a crazy-difficult floor routine, or a crazy-difficult vault.

    The order seems right, too. He Kexin definitely has the most difficult bars routine in the world right now, followed by Beth Tweddle. Nastia… I’m just not a fan of Nastia’s.

  12. Isis Says:

    Becca, I don’t think that Zhang Nan is all that consistent. She did have two falls (BB and UB) in the AA at the Chinese Nationals.

    Also, I think the Chinese would be very wrong to leave Li Shanshan off the team: she’s inconsistent, but she’ll score really high on BB if she hits, and she can score close to 16 even with a fall.

    Now, suppose the Chinese took:

    Cheng Fei
    Jiang Yuyuan
    He Kexin
    Yang Yilin
    Li Shanshan
    Zhang Nan

    That makes them super thin on the UB. If one of the three UB workers (He, Yang, Jiang) gets injured, they are royally screwed: Cheng doesn’t train bars, Zhang is terrible on the event, and Li Shanshan managed to get 11.775 on UB in the quals in Stuttgart.

    I do think it would make sense to have one more experienced team member (in addition to Cheng Fei), but I don’t think Zhang Nan would be such a great pick. Pang Panpan, on the other hand, might do the trick (provided she’s healthy enough). She’s a better pick for UB in TF than Jiang Yuyuan is, plus I read somewhere that her BB A-score is now 6.9 (Zhang Nan’s is, I believe, 6.8). Another option would be He Ning, but I don’t think her A-score on the BB is high enough.

  13. david Says:

    They are just my own estimates.

    For instance, right now, the 10 most difficult elements in Liukin’s routine are:

    Piked stalder 180+L-grip Endo+Bi+Lin+Bi 180+Gienger (D+D+E+E+E+D)
    Piked stalder+Tkatchev (D+D )
    Pak (D)
    Double front tuck 180 (D)

    3E5D= 3.5 (the new codes only take into account the 8 most diffficult elements)
    connection bonus = 0.3 (only Bi 180+Gienger, 0.2, and Piked stalder+Tkatchev, 0.1, can be credited according to the new rules)
    required elements = 2.5
    Therefore, total A score for Liukin = 6.3

  14. Mike S Says:

    Thanks for the info on the new CoP David. I agree with Isis that it seems much more appropriate. I wrote on another blog that I think it would be interesting to look at Nastia’s 7.7 A score and compare that to other apparatuses to see what a 7.7 beam, floor, and vault would be. I’m not familiar enough with the CoP to put that together myself, but it would be interesting to see what types of ridiculous skills would equal what the gymnasts are doing on bars. I think it would point out how ridiculously out of balance the current CoP is.

    I think it’s especially not fair in calculating the AA results. In the 10.0 system, the highest score possible is a 40.0 in the AA, which means that each apparatus is given 25% of the overall score (1/4). In the new scoring, bars specialists have a huge advantage in the AA, which is what keeps Nastia Liukin in the AA picture. With balanced scoring, I would give the edge to Chellsie Memmel — similar to 2005 World Championships.

  15. Isis Says:

    Thanks for the clarification, David. 🙂

  16. bettycoltrane Says:

    Isis: if only we could bring back Li Ya. Oh, if only.

  17. Matt Says:

    Basically, I think what David is saying, is that there has been a RUMOUR that in the next CoP connection value will only be given when it has a release move in it.

    Connections of pirouetting skills will no longer attract bonus – much like dance combinations on floor cant have bonus anymore (unless someone invents a new D rating dance element! lol)

  18. Katrina Says:

    Hehe David Thanks.. I had a really rough day yesterday (me being happy that Big Brown didn’t win the Triple Crown and Nastia didn’t win).

    Amy, Nastia isn’t as great as everybody keeps fawning over her. She’s good on Beam and that’s about it.

  19. TCO Says:

    David, great analysis. How would Memmel and Johnson score in new CoP on UB?

  20. Nik Says:

    I love Nastia but she is gifted on all events. There is no way she should have score a 17.1 on bars on Day 2 and her vault shouldn’t have been scored so highly either. But then again I think Chellsie was also gifted on vault/bars and Alicia on beam (day 2). Shawn’s scores were a bit elevated too but not as much as Nastia. The judges clearly want Nastia to secure her olympic spot, even with a fall.

    Its hard on gymnasts like Ivana and Bieger (who’s gymnastics I cant stand anyways but..) who NEVER get gift scores. Ivana’s beam B score should have been higher for sure and Jana gets what she deserves but it must make her feel terrible to look at everyone else being scored so highly and her being handed realistic scores.

  21. amy Says:

    no nastia is not only good on beam she is amazing on bars and floor. everyone is allowed to do bar routine with a start value of 7.7 but they simple can’t because they can’t peform at such a diffuclt level. Her dance lines are perfect on floor so where she lacks in tumbling she makes up in artistry. Yes vault she is not so good well shawn is not so good at bars that doesnt’ mean she should’t be an AA. I think all gymnasts probably have one event that is weaker than the rest of there events. I do agree that her second day bar routine was overscored!! but i thought shawn’s vaults were overscored for both days too with that huge step. I acutally also think that Nastia was underscored for her first day vault (14.9) with a stuck landing and a (14.9) with a huge steps??? that doesnt’ really make much sense to me. So at the end of the day they are both realllly good and it will all come down to who is having a better day

  22. BG Says:

    I think it’s VERY significant that Nastia beat Shawn on day two. Until now, the only time Nastia had ever beaten Shawn was at the American Cup, where Shawn fell on her vault. This time, Shawn pretty much did everything perfectly, but Nastia was just a tad bit better. I think if Nastia makes a few upgrades to her difficulty and technique (although time is running out) she can beat Shawn outright in the AA in Beijing. And I don’t doubt for a second that she’ll be in it.

  23. TCO Says:

    I think it is completely fukking insane that the Liukin-Johnson difference on bars is considered more than the floor area. Liukin is such, such a code whore. We need to clamp down on that.

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