Posts Tagged ‘Samantha Peszek’

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.

Sloan’s chances likely damaged

June 23, 2008

If there was one victim of the Olympic Trials, it was probably Bridget Sloan.

The third-place finisher on the uneven bars at the U.S. Championships had a fall on beam on night two, which apparently shattered her concentration on floor exercise, where she went out of bounds twice and put her hands down on her pike full-in.

Bridget Sloan, 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Finals, Floor Exercise:

Not good. Then again, the injured-but-recovering Shayla Worley didn’t do so hot either, belly-flopping her Hindorff on uneven bars. Worley can at least play the injury card.

It wasn’t really a good night for anybody except the unflappable Shawn Johnson. Even Nastia Liukin wasn’t immune, going out of bounds on floor and royally messing up  her Pak salto on bars.

Nastia Liukin, 2008 Olympic Trials Finals, Uneven Bars:

If Sloan wants to be on the team, she needs to do about three things: 1. Stick her full-twisting double layout dismount on bars. Several times. Preferably right in front of Martha Karolyi. 2. Work the kinks out on with the full turn and punch front on beam. 3. Stand close to Samantha Peszek and/or Alicia Sacramone and see if a little self-confidence doesn’t rub off.

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.

Notes:

— 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)

Weekend update

May 13, 2008

News you can use from publications all over the country:

Deep in the Heart of Texas: Shawn Johnson completes her Amanar with no trouble at Karolyi camp

This again: A New Zealand-based article on how difficult gymnastics is

Canadian Kyle ShewfeltBruised and battered: Canadian Olympic team members

Russia rules: The 2008 Men’s European Championships

Under the radar: A feature on Bridget Sloan

Samantha Peszek drives a luxury vehicle. Guillermo Alvarez does not.

A third of the people who won gold at the European Championships: File under “Not Going to the Olympics”

Yang WeiGetting up there: International Gymnast Magazine with Russian French gymnast Dmitry Karbanenko

New Olympic favorite: With a spectacular Amanar, Jiang Yuyuan captures the Chinese Championships

We suspected it already, but: Yang Wei is the best gymnast in China

More on Memmel: With optimistic comments from Martha

Memmel’s big scoring potential shouldn’t be overlooked

April 22, 2008

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.

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Pressure’s on, Shawn

March 10, 2008

Shawn Johnson appears to be back on track.

After her first senior international defeat at last weekend’s American Cup, the Des Moines, Iowa native bounced back by winning her first all-around title of 2008 as the U.S. defeated Italy, Spain and Poland in a “fun” meet this weekend in Jesolo, Italy, about 20 miles northeast of Venice.

Johnson reportedly did not throw her Amanar vault, which she fell on at the Cup.

Not that she needed to. Her closest competition, 2006 World Champion Vanessa Ferrari, performed only a full-twisting Yurchenko and finished more than one and a half points behind Johnson, who apparently had some kind of stumble on floor exercise (15.0). Up-and-coming American Samantha Peszek, third at the American Cup, was third at this meet as well. Complete results are on International Gymnast Magazine’s website

More thoughts on Johnson’s performance at the American Cup, previously unposted:

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