Posts Tagged ‘Shawn Johnson’

Nastia Liukin on Gossip Girl

December 4, 2008

Nastia, of course, is not the only successful Olympic gymnast to land cameos on TV. Shawn Johnson also got hit on by a cute guy on The Secret Life of the American Teenager:

During the 1990s, Shannon Miller had a cameo on an episode of Saved by the Bell, although I couldn’t find a clip of it, and Kerri Strug did a bit on Saturday Night Live with a high-voiced Chris Kattan. Strug also, I’m told by commenters, did a cameo on Beverly Hills 90210.

Trani interviews Kupets

November 25, 2008

Everyone wants a Courtney Kupets update. Here it is, courtesy of Georgia freshman Amber Trani, who calls Kupets her “big sister” on the team.

How is your Achilles doing?
CK– It’s doing very well. I’m still doing a bit of rehab and am just now progressing onto hard surfaces. But slowly so I don’t go too hard and it swells up.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?
CK– I’m very excited for it. There’s still a lot of work to be done. But I’m excited for the new team and to build the new chemistry because until season starts you don’t really know how it’s going to be.

How have practices been going for you as well as the rest of the team?
CK– Practices for me still are either on or off. I guess it’s because of coming back from an injury. I need to be more consistent. Beam has been solid and I’m confident on that. And the team, we’ve started inner-squads. The first ones were pretty much what I expected but now it is picking up and getting to be what we want.

What do you think will be the toughest challenge?
CK– Well already [Courtney] McCool being out has been difficult. But we really need to not get ahead of ourselves. There’s going to be hard times and easy times and fun times. We can’t get over anxious about anything that occurs. That’ll be our toughest challenge.

Other interesting tidbits: Kupets says she couldn’t live without her coffee maker. I’m still amazed that gymnasts drink coffee. On Ellen, Carly Patterson once said she’d been drinking coffee from a pretty young age, and Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson were spotted this summer getting their Starbucks fix. Trani aspires to be a sports reporter. In five years, she hopes to be working for Sports Illustrated or ESPN.

Kupets’s new floor routine (and many others from Georgia) are available on Gymnastike.

Johnson unlikely for 2009

November 8, 2008

Shawn Johnson tells the Des Moines Register she’s unlikely to compete in 2009. Rick wonders if this means she’s retiring for good. Johnson even disclosed that she’s not sure whether she’ll return to her high school in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Like the comeback after a potentially career-ending injury, the comeback after a successful Olympics is long and grueling. How do you go back to four to six hours in a gym after you’ve been the face of McDonalds? It’s a question Johnson and Nastia Liukin are likely to be asking themselves. Despite Johnson’s claim that she’d “give anything” to feel more Olympic magic, she may not realize what four more years is really going to take from her.

Only a handful of female gymnasts in the past decade have come back from successful Olympic experiences, and only two — Shannon Miller and Dominique Dawes — have been American (Tasha Schwikert doesn’t count because you can’t really call 2000 a success for the American women). The others include Lilia Podkopayeva (though her return was so brief it was almost non-existent), Simona Amanar, Andreea Raducan and of course, Svetlana Khorkina, who always looked better the year after an Olympic Games. than she did at the Games themselves.

A scene from Podkopayeva’s short retrurn to international competition in 1997, at the European Masters:

Shawn Johnson — artistic improvement

October 18, 2008

Show gymnastics seems to be helping Shawn Johnson get in touch with her artistic side.

I was very impressed by this video of Johnson performing on beam during the event, which supports women’s cancer awareness. Aside from the fact that Johnson can still stick a punch front with her bangs in her face, there’s a far more balletic quality to a lot of her choreography.

Yes, there are still a few girlish, almost silly poses, but there’s also a lot of fluidity in her movements that wasn’t seen this summer. Bravo!

If Johnson makes a return to serious competition, it will be interesting to see whether the touring experience has enhanced her dance abilities. Given that video, I’m betting yes.

Destiny 2012 — Is it Rebecca Bross’s turn?

October 12, 2008
2007 U.S. Junior Champion Rebecca Bross performs on balance beam.

2007 U.S. Junior Champion Rebecca Bross performs on balance beam.

The pressure on Rebecca Bross is going to be intense during the next four years. She’s the up-and-coming WOGA superstar, already with one U.S. Junior Championship to her name, from a gym that has produced the last two Olympic champions.

Heck, after the performances of Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin at their respective Olympic Games, anything less than the all-around crown is going to be a letdown. What a standard!

International Gymnast editor Dwight Normile gave the briefest of updates on Bross in his latest column.

I see 2007 U.S. junior champion Rebecca Bross, a transplant from Michigan, swinging through routines on the bars. She missed the nationals last summer with three broken bones in her foot, but is looking sharp here. I realize that, for most of the people in the gym at this hour, gymnastics is their life. It is not just an afterschool activity. The pace of practice is unhurried but steady. Few coaching comments are heard. Many of the gymnasts seem to be on autopilot, their workouts comfortably shaped by habit, driven by ambition.

It may be only a matter of time before Bross is anointed as USA Gymanstics’ next great hope. She and current U.S. junior champ Jordyn Wieber may play out the Shawn Johnson/Nastia Liukin rivalry of the next quad.

So what do you think? Does the U.S. have a potential gold in the hole with Bross?

Rebecca Bross, 2007 Pan-American Games Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Gymnasts stand near President!

October 10, 2008
More than 400 athletes were present at the White House, where they were honored by President Bush.

More than 400 athletes were present at the White House, where they were honored by President Bush.

Nastia Liukin, standing to the left of Michael Phelps and his newly grown goatee, seems pleased. Shawn Johnson, who led a Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, looks a bit disapproving.

10 things that should have happened during the Olympics…

October 7, 2008
Nastia Liukin was fabulous in Beijing -- as it should have been.

Nastia Liukin was fabulous in Beijing -- as it should have been.

…and did.

1. Nastia Liukin should have won the women’s all-around. With a highly respectful nod to 2007 World Champion Shawn Johnson, only Nastia combined the balletic artistry that makes gymnastics a truly special sport with the difficulty that makes people say wow. Not only that, she stuck almost all her critical landings during the all-around final — on vault, off beam and on that tricky front-full, front double full first pass on floor.

Liukin’s performance in that all-around final was a throwback to the “perfectionist” gymnastics of old — and hopefully, an inspiration to the perfectionist gymnastics to come.

(more…)

Big tour, big scratch

October 6, 2008

Wondering what Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson and Paul Hamm are making on the Tour of Gymnastics Superstars currently tumbling its way across the United States?

This article from the Colorado Springs Gazette doesn’t divulge an amount, but it gives a ballpark.

Hamm said his pay has “slightly” increased since he participated in the 2004 Rock and Roll Gymnastics tour. He then netted $97,500 for 13 stops, according to the Los Angeles Times.

That’s almost enough to buy a good college education these days. And given what the three have made in terms of other endorsements, they’re set.

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.

Namely…

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 Gymnast.com 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.