Posts Tagged ‘Chellsie Memmel’

Little siblings — big potential

November 25, 2008

Family acts are fairly common in gymnastics. Parents tote all their kids, not just one, to the gym to wrench out energy at a young age, stuff like that.

Seems like good gymnastics runs in families too — one need only look to the Hamms (Betsy Hamm, Paul and Morgan’s older sister, was an NCAA Champion for the University of Florida during the late 90s) and the Roethlisbergers (John’s big sis Marie was a contender for the 1984 U.S. Olympic team) and a few others (the Khorkinas, Svetlana and Yulia, the Dantzchers, Jamie, Jalynne and Janelle, the Mackies, Gael and Charlotte, and on and on) for affirmation.

Here are a few new faces with “old” names poised to make a splash during the coming quad (although whether their splash will be as big as those their siblings have made is TBD).

Dasha’s sis Natalia Joura, International Level 10, Floor Exercise:

Chellsie’s sis Skyler Memmel, 2008 PKI Elite Qualifier, Balance Beam:

The incredible Nailia Mustafina, younger sister of up-and-coming Russian junior Aliya Mustafina, 2008 WOGA Classic, Balance Beam:

On the men’s side, there’s Glen Ishino, Allyse’s younger brother.

Glen Ishino practices parallel bars in the Cal Bears gym:

Missed anyone? Drop me a comment.

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.

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)

Memmel — broken bone in ankle

August 14, 2008

American Chellsie Memmel has a broken bone in her right ankle.

American Chellsie Memmel has a broken bone in her right ankle.

Chellsie Memmel competed uneven bars in Beijing with a broken ankle. Given her comments to the press after last night’s team final, she knew it even as she stood on the podium waiting to go.

Memmel said after the U.S. women won the silver medal in team gymnastics Wednesday that she’d been competing with a broken bone in her right ankle. The 2005 world gymnastics champion hurt the ankle during training Aug. 4, but competed on uneven bars in both the preliminaries and the team finals.

“I have mixed emotions,” she said. “I would have loved to compete on four events, but the silver medal for my team is great.”

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.

Memmel injured, Yelizerova out

August 3, 2008

After a relatively quiet week as teams made final preparations and flew out to the Beijing vicinity, news exploded Sunday.

The excellent International Gymnast Magazine has two announcements that potentially alter the Olympic picture: First, that American Chellsie Memmel has sustained an ankle injury and may be limited to competing on uneven bars only. No word as to how she injured the ankle.

Second, there’s the fact that Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova has reportedly replaced Daria Yelizerova on Beijing’s Olympic roster. Again, no real explanations.

So, specualtion ensues. If Memmel’s injury makes her into the Paul Hamm of the women’s team (i.e. she withdraws from the team) which alternate would be tapped to replace her?

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.

Memmel’s whiplash

July 18, 2008

Chellsie Memmel That’s what the Associated Press is calling it. Another news source called it a potential back or neck injury.

Since there are no videos, all anyone seems to know is that Chellsie Memmel landed “wrong” on her third tumbling pass during the first day of the selection camp Friday. Apparently the landing was jarring enough to make her sit out vault and bars, but not beam.

Meanwhile, gymnast Chellsie Memmel made a quick recovery after getting a case of whiplash during her floor exercise routine. Memmel, whose head snapped back when she bounced backward and out of bounds on her second tumbling pass, skipped vault and uneven bars, but rallied to compete on balance beam. Her score of 15.9 was the second-best score of the day; Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson and Alicia Sacramone all scored 16.2s.

As long as her neck/back is OK, this bodes well for Chellsie. Marta and Bela Karolyi do love to see that fighting spirit.

Headlines of the day

July 17, 2008

“American gymnast Memmel still roaring in her twenties” — Story from USA Today. Very clever.

News is Chellsie’s planning to upgrade her vault and floor routine at the Olympic selection camp this weekend.

“She’s looking better,” her father says. “I can’t wait to show them at camp.”

And oh yes, Morgan Hamm will be in Beijing, despite the doping flap and some people’s thoughts that Sasha Artemev or Raj Bhavsar are perhaps more deserving of the team’s sixth spot. USA Gymnastics told USA Today that barring injury, the team that was named is the team that will compete.