Posts Tagged ‘Alicia Sacramone’

Bridget Sloan: The new U.S. rock?

January 14, 2009

Bridget Sloan

Bridget Sloan

The aforementioned post from the Los Angeles Times’s Diane Pucin has this sentence regarding 2008 U.S. Olympian Bridget Sloan:

Headlining the women’s competition will be 16-year-old Olympic silver medalist Bridget Sloan. U.S. coaches hope she will be the cornerstone for the national team for the next four years, as Alicia Sacramone was for the 2008 Olympic team.

I wonder which U.S. coaches Pucin talked to who gave her that impression? Martha Karolyi? It’s nothing against Sloan, who did a wonderful job coping with the pressure of being relatively inexperienced and handling the U.S. Championships, Olympic Trials and selection camp, and leading off for the U.S. in team prelims on floor and finals on vault — but it would be nice to have the attribution.

Alicia Sacramone contemplating retirement

October 19, 2008
Alicia Sacramone

Alicia Sacramone

In this interview with USA Gymnastics, the 20-year-old from Boston said she doesn’t believe she’ll return to hard-core training.

Q: After the tour, do you plan to go back to training or what are your gymnastics plans?
A: As of now, I’m thinking I won’t be training anymore after the tour. My body was just too battered after these Games and I don’t think it would hold out much longer.

Too bad. Although given her injuries, not altogether unexpected.

Related: The Evolution of Alicia Sacramone

Meet Jonathan Horton’s fiancee

October 19, 2008
OUs Haley DeProspero is engaged to Jonathan Horton.

OU's Haley DeProspero is engaged to Jonathan Horton.

…otherwise known as Oklahoma standout Haley DeProspero, who will graduate after the coming NCAA season.

Horton, never one to bow to pressure, proposed to her between the 2008 U.S. Championships and the Olympic Trials. It’s a cute story. So’s the one about how they began dating.

The two gymnasts met on her recruiting visit to Oklahoma. Horton was a hot-shot freshman, but DeProspero was none too impressed.

“She actually didn’t like me at all at first,” Horton said.

“But,” DeProspero said, “I gave him my number against my first intuition.”

She smiled.

“I’m glad I did.”

Haley DeProspero, 2008 OU vs. Nebraska, Balance Beam:

She moves a bit like Alicia Sacramone up there, wouldn’t you say?

Who stays, who goes?

September 19, 2008

After the Olympics there’s usually a flurry of discussion and speculation — who will continue, and who’s retiring? This ongoing post will attempt to chronicle that.

Staying. Chellsie Memmel, at least through the 2009 Worlds. Hard to blame her — despite the Olympic team silver, Beijing was hardly her dream competition.

Going. Alicia Sacramone, who has hinted she might try diving.

Staying. The bionic Oksana Chusovitina, who was given $20,000 Euros by Li Ning to help pay for son Alisher’s lieukemia treatment.

Staying. Beth Tweddle, who wants to compete in London at next year’s world championships.

Going. Romanian Marian Dragulescu, the — so close! — two time Olympic vault champ, who announced plans to become a coach.

Going. Morgan Hamm, who told the press that he’s done. M. Hamm plans to marry and attend chiropractic school.

Undecided. Paul Hamm, who apparently is trying to choose between an advanced degree in business administration or further competition. Hey, the MBA will always be an option, Paul — Olympic-caliber gymnastics won’t.

Undecided. Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson, the big winners of the Games. Johnson has professed that she’d “give anything” to do another Olympics, while Liukin has mentioned 2012 in a few interviews but seems more focused on breaking Shannon Miller’s world championship medal count, which could happen in 2009.

Staying. Non-2008 Olympian Yelena Zamolodchikova and Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova, the grand dames of the talented but aging Russian teams.

Going. Aussie Olivia Vivian, to the talented and often under-appreciated Oregon State University.

Staying (likely). Yang Yilin. After her performance in Beijing, do you think the Chinese government is just going to let her retire? She could be even better in 2009.

A few thoughts on event finals

September 4, 2008
He Kexins uneven bars win was controversial, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

He Kexin's uneven bars win was controversial, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Belatedly posted due to post-Olympic hangover, I think.

It was an improvement over 2004 (almost anything would be), but in this blogger’s opinion only, the judges still got a few things wrong during the three nights of Olympic event finals.


Women’s Vault: It was blatant partisanship, giving Cheng Fei the bronze after she fell on the vault named after her. Or that’s what I thought at first. One has to remember, however, that the Cheng vault has a much higher start value than Sacramone’s double-twisting Yurchenko; high enough that Cheng can fall and still place higher than Sacramone. Add in the fact that Cheng’s start value on her first vault, which was beautiful, was 0.2 higher than Sacramone’s.

So although I don’t think a gymnast should fall and get a medal, the judges didn’t mess that one up — the code of points is to blame.

Women’s Uneven Bars: Some will say Nastia Liukin should have won it. Some will defend He Kexin’s gold. I say this: Bronze medalist Yang Yilin should have won. It’s gymnastics scoring 101: If all routines are valued as having equal difficulty, the one that has the least visible errors should win. He went over on one of her handstand pirouettes and took a step on her dismount.

Liukin went over on one of her low bar handstands and had the perennial form issues, as always, on her dismount. Yang’s routine, though less spectacular than either Liukin’s or He’s, had none of those errors. Andrew Thornton on agrees.

Balance Beam: This one I agree with. Shawn Johnson was cleanest and performed her tons of difficulty flawlessly, even if Liukin has the artistry and extension. She deserves a gold medal for consistency alone, for having performed that routine virtually flawlessly in every competition since the 2007 American Cup (2007 Worlds event finals notwithstanding.)

Might have been different had not Liukin had the big hop on her dismount. Too bad Li Shanshan had another meltdown — I’d like to see her win a World Championship. When she’s on, she deserves it.

Women’s Floor Exercise:The multitalented Sandra Izbaza, a championship handball player before she dedicated herself to gymnastics, proved that tradition dies hard. So, consequently, did Gabriela Dragoi on balance beam.

The Romanians really need to embrace the artistic component of this code, and perhaps add some more ballet to their training, which was obviously a component of their gymnastics regimens during the 1980s but seemed to disappear during the mid-90s.

Zou Kai displays form that could be improved on floor exercise.

Zou Kai displays form that could be improved on floor exercise.

Men’s High Bar: This one actually made me kind of mad. Seems like overnight Jonathan Horton has turned from an amateur into a professional gymnast — the sort who points his toes at all times, who can deliver in the clutch and whose extension has improved dramatically. In the space of literally one Olympics, he’s matured from the X Games kid to an adult gymnast. From here on out, it could be a whole new world for him.

Which brings me to the point: He should have been the Trent Dimas of Beijing. He had the tricks and he had the form. Nice as his laid-out Jaeger full was, Zou Kai’s extension and swing were a lot poorer than Horton’s, and he wasn’t penalized for it. If a gymnast from France or Italy or the U.S. had done the same routine as Zou, I can’t help feeling that his B score would have been much lower. Horton deserved the gold here.

Karolyi blame game

August 14, 2008

Alicia Sacramone is consoled by U.S. National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi after a disappointing performance during the women's team final in Beijing Tuesday night.

Alicia Sacramone is consoled by U.S. National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi after a disappointing performance during the women's team final in Beijing Tuesday night.

Again, we reiterate: Even if Alicia Sacramone had been perfect on balance beam and floor exercise in team finals, even if Chellsie Memmel could have the 0.2 back for her jam through to her dismount on bars, even if all the out of boundses hadn’t happened on floor, China still would have defeated the U.S. by slightly more than half a point.

There is the school of thought that says that if Sacramone hadn’t fallen on beam and the U.S. had trailed China by tenths, not points, going into the fourth rotation, the Chinese might have crumbled under the pressure, as many expected before the competition.

That’s a big maybe. So it seems a bit unfair of National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi to blame Sacramone’s problems on Chinese officials after the understandably disappointing competition.

BEIJING (AFP) – USA Gymnastics played down suggestions from a team official Wednesday that stadium staff here distracted one of their athletes so much she went on to make mistakes that destroyed their hopes of an Olympic gold medal.

As the gymnast at the centre of the controversy, Alicia Sacramone, admitted nerves got the better of her in the women’s team final against China, USA Gymnastics distanced itself the from remarks made by Martha Karolyi, the team co-ordinator.

Karolyi said immediately after the US loss to China that officials at Beijing’s National Indoor Stadium disrupted Sacramone’s beam routine by delaying her performance for an extended period, breaking her concentration.

“First they called her name up, then they did not even put her name up even though the Chinese had finished … (it was) totally unusual holding,” she said.”She was mentally prepared and then she had a mental break, then after not doing the job, the beam, on the floor exercise her concentration was bothered.”

Long waits happen so often they seem somewhat customary. Sacramone shouldn’t blame herself for the team “loss.” Martha Karolyi shouldn’t either.

Bela Karolyi took a different tack, accusing the Chinese of cheating by putting underage athletes on their team.

Some people may be getting a little sick of this power couple and their excuses, their politics, regardless of the good they’ve done the country. Do they remind you of anyone else?

Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Bill and Hillary Clinton.

(via Gymnastics Coaching)

Women’s team finals: most/least impressive

August 14, 2008

Most Impressive Surprise Routine: Yang Yilin, vault. Despite the NBC commentators harping on the landing, her power and especially her form, were very impressive.

Most Impressive Failure: Alicia Sacramone. Enough said.

Most Impressive Newcomer: Deng Linlin. No China Syndrome among the newcomers, either.

Least Impressive “Great” Routine: Ksenia Semyonova, uneven bars. As Rick at Gymnastics Coahing has said before, she’s really better on beam.

Most Impressive Closer: Cheng Fei, floor. One of the great routines of the Games, whether she wins in event finals or not.

Women’s team final: More China gold

August 13, 2008
Alicia Sacramone fell on balance beam and floor exercise, taking away any chance of the U.S. women's winning team gold.

Alicia Sacramone fell on balance beam and floor exercise, taking away any chance of the U.S. women's winning team gold.

Oh, how sad. What a way to win a silver medal. Like the Japanese men last night, only worse.

Silver is the most bittersweet medal for people used to being the best, or expecting to be the best, and the American women for the past quad have tended to be both.

Given his less than stellar routines in Beijing, particularly his 12.775 pommel horse performance in team finals, some may question whether Kevin Tan should have had a place on the bronze medal-winning U.S. men’s team. (The answer is yes he should have, because his rings score was still so high it offset wherever else he was lackluster, and he should not have been put up on pommels at all in team finals.) But there was never, ever any question that Alicia Sacramone had what it took. She was a talent whose start value on vault couldn’t be replaced, a former World champion on floor and a gymnast whose balance beam routine had stood the test of the U.S. Championships and Olympic Trials.

Sacramone didn’t lose the gold for the U.S. Her performance was bad — particularly on floor exercise, where she opened up a little too early on her Arabian double front while trying to stick the landing. The emotional look on her face throughout the rest of the routine didn’t help matters either.

But even if Sacramone hadn’t fallen on beam and floor and nobody had stepped out of bounds, even if Chellsie Memmel’s jam through to her double front had been credited on uneven bars, China still would have won by more than half a point. The U.S. didn’t hand the gold to anyone. It was China’s to lose all along.

Nevertheless, this whole competition probably hurt the highly-touted U.S. team. A lot. Bela Karolyi’s comments on NBC, blatantly accusing the Chinese of age falsification, may roil some bad feelings as well. Whether or not the Chinese really were all 16, we’ll never know, unless some team members make like Yang Yun and say on TV they were 14. The FIG and the International Olympic Committee have expressed no interest in exploring the issue.

I don’t feel like harping on this competition too much, except to say also that the Romanian women should be as thrilled with their bronze as the U.S. men were. Hopefully they will adapt better to the new code next quad. For Russia, another disappointment, and a shame for a country that produces such wonderful gymnastics.

On to the all-around final, which should be a great battle between Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson. Given the way both have performed in this competition, it’s anybody’s guess who’ll take gold, although Liukin seems to have a better shot than many would have expected even a few months ago.

Team prelims: A real show

August 10, 2008
uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise.

Nastia Liukin qualified to three event finals: uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise.

In the end, I cheated a little bit. On the U.S. west coast, we’re lucky to have in our cable packages the Canadian Broadcasting Network, which showed men’s and women’s team prelims basically as they were going on. Hence, whereas NBC is showing women’s team prelims tonight, I saw parts of the competition last night.

And boy, what parts.

Nastia Liukin sitting down her bars dismount. Chellsie Memmel missing her Tkatchev. Samantha Peszek not competing her best events. Alicia Sacramone, a tough but not stoic gymnast, looking focused but at times a little sad. The only person who looked like she was really having fun was the one who had the best day: reigning World champ Shawn Johnson.

The great thing about the Olympics is you can analyze and speculate about what’s going to happen, but you can’t know. Perhaps depressing is that more people seemed to have bad surprises than good ones: British favorite Beth Tweddle banged her foot — hard — on the low bar doing a giant. Italian star Vanessa Ferrari looked deflated and out of shape.

Aussie Dasha Joura, a total package gymnast and the best Oz has ever produced, had the worst meet of her life and didn’t qualify for the all-around or any event final.

It was different for the men. The U.S., rocked by the departures of Paul and Morgan Hamm, looked respectable if perhaps not medal-worthy. They made team finals. Aside from a botched rings routine by Sasha Artemev, who hit a great pommels set to make up for it, everyone “did their job,” as the commentators said. (Except perhaps NBC, whose job it is to show the competition, not a few myriad routines that gave every indication of being a highlight reel instead of real coverage.) It might have been worse.

Bridget Sloan?!

July 20, 2008

Yes, Bridget Sloan.

The 16-year-old from the relatively unknown Sharp’s Gymnastics in Pittsboro, Ind. has made the U.S. Olympic team.

Bridget Sloan

Sloan was probably the biggest surprise of the six-member team, named today, which includes Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Alicia Sacramone, Chellsie Memmel and Samantha Peszek. Johnson and Liukin were technically confirmed for the team after going 1-2 at the Olympic Trials, and it was widely assumed that Memmel, Sacramone and Peszek had locked up their spots as well.

Alternates are Ivana Hong, Jana Bieger and new senior Corrie Lothrop, whose big skill is reportedly an Amanar vault.

Bieger, the all-around silver medalist from the 2006 World Championships, was thought to be putting a stranglehold on the sixth spot after hitting all of her routines at the U.S. Championships, but was eliminated after falling on uneven bars during both days of competition.

Bars will be a critical event for the U.S. during the Games. Liukin and Memmel have world class routines, but a third bars specialist was needed to round out the team.

The spot could (and likely would) have gone to Shayla Worley, had she not fractured her leg during the first day of competition Saturday at the Karolyi ranch in New Waverly, Texas.

That left things wide open for Sloan, a self-described all-around gymnast who can be a tad wobbly on beam but doesn’t have a real weak event. Sloan was third on uneven bars at the U.S. Championships only a few months after having surgery for a torn meniscus.

With her clean lines and nice movements, something commentators refer to as an “international look,” she’ll be a good tablesetter for the team. Certainly better than Bieger, who had big skills but messy form, or Hong, who has good variety and wonderful form but lacks consistency.