Posts Tagged ‘Tasha Schwikert’

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:

The oh-so-close NCAA all-around

April 25, 2008

Tasha Schwikert1. Tasha Schwikert 39.600

2. Ashley Postell 39.550

3. Katie Heenan 39.525

3. Tiffany Tolnay 39.525

3. Kristina Baskett 39.525

3. Melanie Sinclair 39.525

Congratulations to Schwikert, who earns her second NCAA all-around title (she was the 2005 champion as well.) For Postell, this has to be a disappointment. In four years at Utah, she’s been third, second, second and second again.

In the team competition, the Utes will likely record the same history.

Georgia had a 197.625 in the evening session. This title is theirs to lose. Unofficially, Utah and Stanford also advance to tomorrow’s Super Six.

2008 USAG Hall of Fame Inductees

March 6, 2008

Carly Patterson helped the U.S. women win the team title at the 2003 World Championships.The golden 2003 U.S. women’s World Championship team headlines the 2008 inductees into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Members of the 2003 World team were Carly Patterson, Hollie Vise, Courtney Kupets, Terin Humphrey, Chellsie Memmel, Annia Hatch, Ashley Postell and Tasha Schwikert.

The 2003 Worlds were the U.S. women’s greatest world championship triumph up to that point, but early on it looked like it might become a disaster. Humphrey and Memmel, the team’s alternates, and were substituted in when Postell became ill and Kupets tore her Achilles in training. Hatch tore her ACL the day before the competition but is still considered a member of the team.

Other Hall of Fame inductees this year include:

Olympians Jessica Davis of San Anselmo, Calif. (rhythmic), Marie Walther Bilski of Tempe, Ariz. (women’s), and Wayne Young of Pleasant Grove, Utah (men’s); synchronized trampoline and double mini-trampoline world champion Stuart Ransom of Southaven, Miss.; two-time NCAA champion Brent Simmons of Columbus, Ind. (men’s); women’s artistic gymnastics coach Mary Lee Tracy of West Chester, Ohio; and contributor Wendy Hilliard of New York City. Kenneth Allen of Oshkosh, Wis., is the 2008 Lifetime Achievement recipient in recognition of his contributions to gymnastics.

Their biographies are listed on the Hall of Fame’s website.


New 2008 floor routines…

January 31, 2008

From Courtney McCool at Georgia…


UCLA beats Stanford, remains undefeated

January 28, 2008

There’s not much difference at the very top.

A week after Georgia defeated rival Florida by 0.025, we have UCLA edging Stanford by the same margin. UCLA won with a 195.05 to Stanford’s 195.025.

The meet came down to the final routine. Bruin senior Tasha Schwikert needed a 9.8 to earn the victory for her team and scored just that to keep UCLA undefeated on the year.

Very interesting.

Postell not focusing on Beijing

January 10, 2008

Ashley Postell is putting her final season at Utah ahead of a possible elite comeback.Utah star Ashley Postell has put her plans to go for Beijing on hold, The Salt Lake Tribune reported this morning.

“It’s my last year, and I’m not really thinking about that right now, so it’s kind of put aside,” she said. “I did a lot of new stuff over the summer, which is good, and even if I don’t do the Olympics, the summer helped me because I came back in better shape and ready to work out.”

Postell has been fairly open about her desire to go to an Olympic Games, noting it as a goal on the Utah gymnastics website. In training videos released by Utah, Postell is performing the most difficult maneuvers of the team, including a Podkopayeva vault, a double Arabian and a triple twist on floor.

Another goal Postell may be chasing is that of NCAA all-around champion, something that’s eluded her for three years as a Ute. Her former U.S. teammate and friend Courtney Kupets has won the past two NCAA titles, and Postell was a close third to Tasha Schwikert and Kristen Maloney in 2005.

She hasn’t been helped by the fact that Utah has often competed in the first of two rounds of team qualification (the same competition that determines the all-around winners) at the NCAA championships. The last NCAA all-around champion from a first session was back in 2001, when Michigan’s Elise Ray tied with UCLA’s Onnie Willis.

While the Olympics are now in the back of Postell’s mind instead of the forefront of her training, Utah coach Greg Marsden feels nothing is impossible.

“She’d have a big uphill battle,” Marsden said. “But she is capable of doing it. She’d have to get through the season and see how her body feels and her head because she’d have to be 100 percent healthy and 100 percent motivated to make a run at it.”

LSU, UCLA win first meets

January 5, 2008

Jubilation in Mexico for Louisiana: The No. 10-ranked LSU gymnastics team posted its highest first-meet score in school history en route to claiming the Cancun Classic in Mexico with a 195.725. Junior Ashleigh Clare-Kearney scored a 39.6 to win vault, bars, beam and the all-around.

In other news, UCLA posted a modest (for them) 194.975 beat Arizona State and Oregon State at the Lady Luck Invitational in Las Vegas. And they did it without Tasha Schwikert, Melissa Chan and Ashley Jenkins, all of whom are injured. Sophomore standout Anna Li won the all-around.

Anna Li, 2007 UCLA vs. Alabama, Uneven Bars:

Li has a gymnastics pedigree as impressive as Nastia Liukin’s — she’s the daughter of 1981 World Floor champion Li Yuejiu and World medalist and 1984 Chinese Olympian Wu Jiani, the first person to perform a Yurchenko loop on the balance beam in world competition. (The skill was named after Natalia Yurchenko because the Chinese didn’t submit tricks to be named after them at that time, Jiani told International Gymnast Magazine last year.)

Wu Jiani, 1981 USA vs. China, Uneven Bars:

Church to compete for UCLA this winter

November 11, 2007

UCLA Gymanstics announced this week that Californian Shavahn Church, a member of the British team at the 2005 World Championships, will compete for UCLA during the upcoming season.

Shavahn Church

As Terin Humphrey did at the University of Alabama in 2004, Church will enroll beginning winter quarter, meaning she’ll have her first classes within days of competing in her first meet — or vice-versa.

Church, who was a U.S. standout as a junior, exercised her dual citizenship rights to become a member of the British National Team. She was injured in 2007 and was not on the British team that competed in Stuttgart in September.

Shavahn Church, 2005 World Championships All-Around, Uneven Bars: (Check out the toe-on Shaposhnikova in the piked position, done in combination with a Pak salto — the skill is named after her.)

Church’s ties to UCLA run deep. She’s spent the past few years training with UCLA assistant coach Chris Waller and apparently has a long history with UCLA Gymnastics doyenne Valorie Kondos Field.

“I have known Shavahn since she was nine years old, and I have always felt that she was the epitome of an artistic gymnast,” said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. “She is as brilliant in her artistry of the sport as she is exciting with her gymnastics skills.”

Church is likely to make an already competitive UCLA squad even more so. The Bruins already boast 2000 Olympic team member Tasha Schwikert, Allison Taylor, Kristina Comforte, Anna Li and former Canadian standout Marci Bernholtz.

One has to wonder if she’s still planning on being a part of the British Olympic team given this decision.

In other NCAA news, 2006 U.S. Championships runner-up Natasha Kelley has announced her intention to compete for the University of Oklahoma next year.

The nefarious full turn with leg held up

October 25, 2007

Amazing how this relatively low-value skill appears to be more difficult for many gymnasts than, say, a back handspring, layout stepout series.

In her commentary for WSCN at the 2007 World Championships, Tasha Schwikert noted that she’s seen so many people do full turns with their leg up on balance beam and either fall or take a major deduction that she’s wondering if it’s even worth the risk.

I agree. Few look truly calm doing this skill, even when they pull it off flawlessly. And that happens a lot less than one would think.

Koko Tsurumi, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Balance Beam:

Yang Yilin, 2007 World Championships Team Qualifying Round, Balance Beam:

Xiao Sha, 2007 Chinese Nationals Event Finals, Balance Beam:

Ekaterina Kramarenko, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Balance Beam:

Vanessa Ferrari, 2006 World Championships Event Finals, Balance Beam:

More sympathy should be given to Li Shanshan, who fell doing a much more difficult variation of this skill during event finals at the World Championships. Ferrari also often takes a small deduction for it, but props to both for doing something truly difficult.

Li Shanshan, 2007 World Championships Event Finals, Balance Beam:

Vanessa Ferrari, 2007 European Championships All-Around, Balance Beam:

One of the most beautiful, albeit slightly overrotated, turns with the leg held way up was done in 2001 at the American Team Cup by China’s Kang Xin. What’s most impressive, I think, is the way she sold it — and the rest of this marvelous routine.

Kang Xin, 2001 American Team Cup, Balance Beam:

The subject of deceptively hard skills on balance beam brings to mind the compulsory beam set from 1992 to 1996. The cartwheels, forward rolls and fouette jumps gave four of the Mag 7 (and numerous others, including Simona Amanar and Kui Yuanyuan) all sorts of problems in Atlanta.

Jaycie Phelps, 1996 Olympic Compulsories, Balance Beam:

Amanda Borden, 1996 Olympic Compulsories, Balance Beam:

Dominique Dawes, 1996 Olympic Compulsories, Balance Beam: