Posts Tagged ‘Jana Bieger’

Recent U.S. camp report on L.A. Times

October 22, 2008

Recent U.S. training camp rumors confirmed by Diane Pucin, who covers gymnastics for the L.A. Times:

The assignments that USA Gymnastics announced for upcoming international competitions give some indication as to who is starting to be groomed for 2012 teams in London.

For example Glen Ishino of Santa Ana and Danell Leyva of Miami are being sent to the Pan American Gymnastics Union Individual Event Championships in Rosario, Argentina, Nov. 19-24.

Ishino won the 2008 junior all-around title and is considered a potential star for future U.S. men’s teams. Ishino is a freshman at California. Leyva is young enough to have been on the 14- to 15-year-old national team this year, but good enough to have finished eighth on the high bar at senior nationals

That’s just the beginning. Jana Bieger is apparently sticking around for now, as is Ivana Hong, despite showing at the recent Karolyi camp no longer affiliated with Al Fong and GAGE.

Word is Hong, who lived in California before moving to Missouri to train with the Fongs in 2004, may be heading to All Olympia, where Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro train. Seems like it would be a good fit for Hong, who like Larson and Shapiro is known for her artistry.

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.

U.S. Olympians: Johnson, Liukin

June 23, 2008

To almost nobody’s surprise, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin went 1-2 at the just-concluded U.S. Olympic Trials, securing spots on the team pending a show of readiness at the selection camp later this month.

Also invited to the selection camp: the rebounding with a vengance Chellsie Memmel, Samantha Peszek, Ivana Hong, Bridget Sloan, Shayla Worley, Jana Bieger, Mattie Larson, Chelsea Davis, Corrie Lothrop and Alicia Sacramone.

The way I think it will go down: Memmel, Peszek and Sacramone, pending injury and an absolute meltdown, as gymnastics analyists call them, should make the team. And those are the only five who will be used in event finals — Johnson, Sacramone and Peszek on vault, Liukin, Memmel and (probably) Johnson on bars, Liukin, Johnson and Memmel/Sacramone or possibly Peszek on beam and Johnson, Sacramone and likely Peszek on floor.

The sixth gymnast’s Olympic Games will consist of team prelims.

Who should that leadoff be? Ivana Hong makes a pretty good case for herself. Her B scores are higher than Jana Bieger’s. And she’s not rebounding from injury the way Sloan and Worley are.

Those four will likely make up the last team member and the three alternates.

The one question mark in all of this is 16-year-old Mattie Larson, a new senior who should be favored for very good things in 2009. Larson has the difficulty on vault and the polish and presence on floor to be an alternate — at least. She doesn’t have the international exposure.

Will she be an alternate?

U.S. women’s trials: Cliffsnotes commentary from International Gymnast

June 21, 2008

Again, the quick hits from the premiere gymnastics magazine express sum up in a sentence what entire message boards are dedicated to:

On Shawn Johnson’s beam routine: “Amazing tricks, but where is the elegance?”

On Nastia Liukin’s bars dismount: “Froggie form and poor landing. Should be about 8.5 execution – given 9.00 from generous judges.”

On Samantha Peszek’s vault: “She should upgrade to 2.5 – it looks easy for her.”

On Chellsie Memmel’s beam: “Hit routine but lots of form problems and no grace.”

On Bridget Sloan’s uneven bars: “Very badly flexed feet on releases.”

Bridget Sloan

On Chelsea Davis’s beam dismount: “Weird hurdle into her double pike dismount.”

Chelsea Davis, Jesolo 2008, Balance Beam:

On Alicia Sacramone’s floor: “Tumbling is high but tricks are standard — same as Carly Patterson four years ago.”

On Britney Ranzy’s music: “Terrible music for floor exercise.”

On Jana Bieger in general: “Has all the tricks, but if she doesn’t make this team it will be because she lacks polish and her B-scores reflect that.”

On Johnson’s Amanar vault: “Overrotates it — looks like she can do a triple.”

Shawn Johnson, 2008 U.S. Championships Finals, Vault:

(via International Gymnast Magazine)

The other six…

June 10, 2008

Mattie LarsonEveryone who watched the U.S. Championships last weekend saw Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin and Chellsie Memmel dominate the competition. Samantha Peszek was fourth, Ivana Hong fifth, and Jana Bieger sixth.

Shayla Worley was out. Alicia Sacramone competed her three good events.

Sixteen-year-old Mattie Larson got some camera time. So did Bridget Sloan.

Here’s how the other half fared:

7. Mattie Larson 118.850
8. Corrie Lothrop 117.650
9. Randy Stageberg 116.000
10. Mackenzie Caquatto 114.850
11. Olivia Courtney 114.100
12. Alaina Johnson 113.000
13. Christa Tanella 112.800
14. Britney Ranzy 112.750
15. Ashley Stott 111.850
16. Katelyn Mohr 111.450
17. Kimberly Jacob 110.850  

A few, like Stageberg, are heading off to college, etc. But watch them. They’ll be on your NCAA teams. They’ll be the ones competing for spots on the 2009 World team.

Christa Tanella, 2008 U.S. Classic All-Around, Floor Exercise:

International Gymnast Magazine editor Dwight Normile posted his thoughts on the men’s and women’s U.S. Championships on the magazine’s website. The most interesting point, I thought, was that Liukin bested Johnson during day two of the competition.

Dead heat: Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin could go 1-2 or 2-1 at the Olympics. Their A Scores across four events on Day 2 were 26.20 (Johnson) and 26.10 (Liukin). Liukin actually beat Johnson on the second day, 64.20-64.05, but her fall and out-of-bounds deduction in prelims proved to be the difference in the end. If both hit in Beijing, I honestly couldn’t pick a winner — they’re that close.

Normile’s picks for the women’s Olympic team: Johnson, Liukin, Memmel, Sacramone, Peszek and…either Worley, Sloan, Ivana Hong or Jana Bieger. Dead right. Men: Paul Hamm, Kevin Tan, and, um…

The best of Boston

June 6, 2008

If there was any doubt as to whether Shawn Johnson was still the one to beat, night one of the U.S. Championships in Boston has effectively erased it.

Shawn Johnson, 2008 U.S. Championships Prelims, Balance Beam (partial):

Standings after day one:

1. Shawn Johnson

2. Nastia Liukin

3. Chellsie Memmel

4. Samantha Peszek

5. Jana Bieger

6. Ivana Hong

To this blogger, the biggest surprise was Bieger. Peszek has looked confident in competition since the 2007 World Championships, and Memmel has been a judges’ darling since becoming a senior in 2003.


— Liukin fell on her double front on floor exercise and scored only 14.25. She made up for it with a 17.025 on uneven bars, proving she can be scored as well as the Chinese.

— Johnson was on everywhere, including on her Amanar vault. The only thing mentioned was that she took a big step forward on her beam landing.

Ashley Priess pulled out of the competition completely. She’ll have a good time at Alabama next year.

Shayla Worley’s back problems continue to plague her, and she has chosen to petition to the Olympic Trials.

— On Memmel, from Inside Gymnastics Magazine:

Memmel, who vaulted only a Yurchenko-full on vault, is struggling with a sore quadriceps and contemplated not even competing. (Memmel’s coach-father, Andy, noted that the “powers that be” approved their easier effort on vault to keep them in the competition.)

Alicia Sacramone confirmed to Inside Gymnastics that she’s working on an Amanar vault herself. Ooooh.

Darling Hill had an unfortunate 12-something disaster on beam (just like last year) and didn’t compete uneven bars

— Johnson’s new floor music is called “August Rush”

Bridget Sloan, who competed bars and beam only, unveiled a new full-twisting double layout on bars

Claybabe6, editor of the Live.Breath.Love.Gymnastics blog has some videos on her Youtube page.

(via International Gymnast Online, Inside Gymnastics Magazine)

Return of the shaky balance beam routine

May 14, 2008

Balance beam is a shaky event.For many years, the balance beam has been seen as the hardest event in gymnastics. It’s nerve-wracking, those four inches, four feet off the ground. And gymnasts have to do so much these days.

One of the things that makes Olympic champions like Carly Patterson and Andreea Raducan great is the way they almost never seemed to falter on that most precarious of events.

Seems like these days more gymnasts have major problems on uneven bars. Great all-around prospects who had difficulties hitting bars in competition or getting a start value that didn’t deflate all-around possibilities? The ranks burst with them: Vanessa Atler, Alicia Sacramone, Cheng Fei, Anna Pavlova, Sandra Izbasa, Jana Bieger, Catalina Ponor, Gina Gogean, etc.

So it’s almost refreshing to see a gymnast whose worst event is the old classic balance beam, who makes you bite your nails and get so nervous during the routine that suspense movies hardly compare.


Pacific Rim redux

April 13, 2008

Al TrautwigThanks NBC, for broadcasting the women’s team competiton (and three half-performances from Paul Hamm.)

Many gymnastics fans don’t agree with everything NBC commentators say, particularly color commentator Al Trautwig, a basketball/hockey expert who often comes off as a buffoon in his attempts to translate the sport for the couch-potato watching public.

But they do slip interesting tidbits into their talk when not reminding viewers that the balance beam is only four inches wide (which, to their credit, I don’t believe they did in this broadcast.)


Anja Brinker: 2007 German Sportswoman of the Year

February 22, 2008

German giant Fabian Hambuchen deservedly got a lot of press when he became Germany’s Sportsman of the Year 2007 in December.

Much less fanfare has been made about rising German talent Anja Brinker, a 17-year-old from Herkenrath who was 10th all-around at the 2007 European Championships. Brinker’s specialty, like countrywoman Marie-Sophie Hindermann’s, is the uneven bars.

Anja Brinker, 2007 European Championships Event Finals, Uneven Bars:

Anja Brinker on balance beam.The German women’s team, which also includes Hindermann, former Soviet Oksana Chusovitina, Katja Abel and possibly Utah sophomore Daria Bijak, is formidable. Imagine if they had Jana Bieger as well!

It seems almost certain that the U.S. and China will be the top two women’s teams in Beijing this summer, but with those five, who knows? German gymnastics might even be in a position to upset a Romania or Russia for a bronze. Too bad Bieger resists trying to make the German team…


No comeback for Kupets

December 4, 2007

Difficulty Plus Execution reports via the University of Georgia that 2004 Olympian Courtney Kupets will not be attempting to qualify for the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.

2004 Olympian Courtney Kupets

But she did think about it, according to Gym Dogs coach Suzanne Yoculan.

“Our entire coaching staff supported Courtney during her deliberation concerning making another Olympic run and now respect her final decision not to try. The Georgia team has high expectations this upcoming season and we will look to Courtney for leadership.”

Whether or not Kupets really could have edged out Worley, Sacramone, Bieger, Hong, Sloan, Memmel, Peszek and everyone else who’s on the bubble for making the 2008 Olympic team seems kind of moot now. But one thing is clear: this girl only seems to get better with age.

Although she doesn’t perform all of her old difficulty, since coming to Georgia Kupets has added a toe-on Hindorff on uneven bars and a double layout dismount on that event, as well as a new mount combination of roundoff, layout stepout, back handspring, layout stepout on balance beam.

Few gymnasts seem to focus on learning new, more difficult skills in the NCAA — for many, college seems more about maintaining what you’ve got and watering down to make your routines cleaner.

Courtney Kupets, 2007 NCAA Championships Prelims, Uneven Bars: