Posts Tagged ‘Terin Humphrey’

Terin Humphrey sidelined, possibly injured

January 24, 2008

Alabama senior Terin HumphreyThe senior 2004 Olympian has not really competed yet for Alabama this season. This morning’s Montgomery Advertiser has a story on why.

It’s almost like going to a prestigious golf tournament and not seeing Tiger Woods.

Alabama’s gymnastics team is ranked third in the country, just behind defending Southeastern Conference champion Florida and three-time defending NCAA champion Georgia.

But the Crimson Tide is doing it with its best performer on the sideline.

And there’s no telling when, or if, Terin Humphrey will be able to return.

Humphrey is the defending NCAA Champion on uneven bars. She won the silver medal on the same event in Athens.

Bama looking to climb back into Super Six

January 11, 2008

Senior Olympian Terin Humphrey leads the Alabama Crimson Tide for the upcoming season.The University of Alabama has their work cut out for them as they try to work their way back into the Super Six.

The Tuscaloosa News reported yesterday that Bama’s schedule is the toughest in the NCAA.

Starting with Friday’s 7:30 p.m. meet at Coleman Coliseum against 23rd-ranked Illinois, Alabama will be facing four teams ranked in the top five and 12 of the nation’s top 25 teams as ranked in the preseason coaches’ poll. An analysis by the collegegymfans.com Web site has the sixth-ranked Tide with the top strength of schedule based on a point system using the coaches’ rankings.

“We will be tested by the bested,” [Alabama coach Sarah] Patterson said with a laugh.

Alabama will face No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Florida, No. 4 UCLA, No. 5 Stanford, No. 7 Nebraska, No. 10 LSU, No. 13 Penn State, No. 14 Arkansas, No. 19 Auburn and No. 24 Kentucky in addition to Illinois. In fact, the only non-ranked team the Tide will compete against is Cal State-Fullerton on March 9 in Los Angeles, and that will be at a four-way meet that also includes UCLA and Arkansas.

Ashley Priess will join Alabama next year.The Crimson Tide, who finished an embarrassing ninth at last year’s NCAA Championships, do have many things going for them this year. Senior Terin Humphrey is the reigning NCAA champion on uneven bars, and sophomore Morgan Dennis won floor exercise at last year’s NCAA Championships as well.

Alabama’s standing shouldn’t decrease in years to come either. The Tide likely won the signing lottery this year, having netted Parkette Julie Cotter as well as 2006 World Team member Ashley Priess, for its class of 2009.

Bama’s last NCAA team title came in 2002.

The montagemaker returns

October 3, 2007

Back in the dark ages of gymnastics montages (read: 2002 or so) few possessed the software or know-how to make them. Among those who did was a young man from Wisconsin who went by the name Lex Trotter, and to me, he was the best there was.

Lex had the ability to take a few clips and weave them into a story montage that showed the essence of the gymnasts he featured. His favorites — Yvonne Tousek, Tabitha Yim, Terin Humphrey, Michelle Conway — weren’t always on the medal stand, but each brought a presence and skills that were completely unique to the sport.

Some of Lex’s art:

Elena Produnova:

The Maverick:

The two sides of Vanessa Atler:

Terin Humphrey No. 3:

His websites, first lexness.com and then nubianpoptart.com, were a gold mine of downloadable videos from competitions like junior national championships that didn’t get NBC airtime.

But after the 2005 Worlds, Lex disappeared.

Suddenly, on August 20, he was back with a brand new page: www.aleksas.com. It has all the elements of Nubianpoptart and Lexness: a funky design, artistic personal pics and a small blog of his thoughts about life and competitions.  The site’s extensive video library has a lot of things that Youtube doesn’t. Want to see Beth Rybacki (nee Kline) at the 1980 U.S. Championships? The 1998 Sagit Cup? 1994 Goodwill Games coverage? It’s all there.

This boy is not afraid of putting it how it is either — check out his summary of the women’s team competition at the 2007 Worlds:

I heard Spain was a mess and the Aussies didn’t deserve their team finals placing. The Romanians didn’t look as absolutely flawless as they usually do on beam, but two girls do this awesome step into front somersault that lands on leg into a scale! Dang! I love the innovation of gymnastics nowadays. You wouldda thought it’d have disappeared with a more strict judging system.

He’s also got a Youtube channel, under the username Islandboyrabian.

And he hasn’t stopped making montages, nor has he lost his touch with them.

Alexsas’ new Catalina Ponor montage:

A wonderful slice of men’s gymnastics:

Shantessa Pama, who has just the personality and splash I imagine Lex loves:

Simply delightful. Let’s hope there’s more to come.

Al Fong’s second chance

September 27, 2007

Someday, Al Fong’s life may become the subject of a made-for-TV movie.

Given this ESPN.com article, it seems like a good candidate. Fong, who grew up in a working class family in Seattle, has seen it how good — and how ugly — this sport can get.

When his protegees Terin Humphrey and Courtney McCool made the 2004 Olympic team, a dream that Fong had carried for 25 years was realized. At the time, people said what lovely athletes and people these girls were, but curiously little about their coaches, particularly Fong. Those who knew the sport, as Rick McCharles points out in an excellent article from his Gymnastics Coaching blog, probably wondered how Al had managed to turn himself and his program around after hitting rock bottom.

A more nurturing Al Fong helped Courtney McCool onto the 2004 U.S. Olympic team.

ESPN puts it this way:

Gymnastics, of course, is notorious for fanatical, overbearing coaches, but the old Fong was the worst. He pushed. He insulted. He started practices at the crack of dawn and late at night. Along the way, his monomania built a group of overachievers who positioned him as the surprise spoiler of the Seoul Olympics.

In 1988, Fong had two Olympic contenders: 15-year-old Julissa Gomez, and Christy Henrich, who made up in dedication whatever she lacked in skill. Both came to personify what was wrong with the sport during the mid 80s and early 90s and will probably always exist to some extent in gymnastics.

Julissa Gomez

Gomez was paralyzed when she crashed into the vaulting horse during the warmup at the 1988 World Sports Fair in Japan. Her shaky technique on her Yurchenko had been noted for some time, but Fong, her personal coach, allowed her to keep training and competing it. Gomez, who suffered brain damage in the accident, never recovered sufficiently to leave her bed. She was cared for by her parents at home until 1991, when she succumbed to infection and died.

Henrich was ninth at the 1988 Olympic Trials, missing the Olympic team by only two places. She appeared to be on the rise at the 1989 U.S. Championships, where she was second in the all-around.

Christy Henrich, 1989 World Championships Event Finals, Uneven Bars (She placed fourth):

But while competing at an international meet sometime after, a judge told her that if she ever wanted to make an Olympic team, she needed to lose weight. This corroborated with what she had been hearing from Fong and her other coaches at Great American Gymnastics Express, so Henrich applied her characteristic dedication to losing weight. The result, to make a long and very painful story short, was her death in 1994 of organ failure brought about by severe anorexia. At the time she died, she weighed less than 50 pounds.

Christy Henrich as a healthy gymnast

Christy Henrich performing during happier times at the 1987 World Sports Fair:

Christy Henrich with her boyfriend during the early 90s, at an event to raise money for her medical costs.

For any coach, this is career-ending stuff, or so one would think. But sometime during what must have been bleak years in the mid-90s, Fong began to turn the situation around. His first success was Amanda Stroud, who placed 12th at the 2000 Olympic Trials but impressed everybody with her excellent form.

Amanda Stroud, 2000 Olympic Trials, Day 2, Floor Exercise:

Much of Fong’s resurgence should probably be credited to his wife, Armine Barutyan Fong, who came to work at GAGE during the mid-90s. Armine Barutyan was one of the standouts on a Soviet team that had the best gymnasts in the world during the 1980s, but was ostracized because of her Armenian heritage. Armine was profiled recently by The Associated Press in an article that ran in The New York Times.

Barutyan recalled when, despite her top performances, she was left off the national team for the biggest trips. Once, after the team returned from an international meet at which Barutyan finished second, the team had an audience in front of a Soviet government official.

“Who finished first?” the official asked.

“Svetlana Boginskaya,” the coach of the gymnastics program responded, speaking of the Russian gymnast, one of Barutyan’s contemporaries, who went on to win four medals at the 1988 Olympics.

“And who finished second?” the official said.

“Not one of us,” the coach responded.

Two years after Stroud’s performance at the Olympic Trials, Terin Humphrey made her debut at the U.S. Nationals to favorable reviews. Humphrey wasn’t perhaps, as naturally talented as someone like Carly Patterson. But she was known as a hard worker and a humble person, a quality that won her an enormous amount of fans before the 2004 Olympic Games.

“We were a little timid about going to Al’s gym at first,” Terin says. “We’d heard the stories. But when we met him, we felt like he was a great person.”

Terin Humphrey’s elegant floor routine was choreographed by Armine.

Terin Humphrey, 2004 Olympic Trials, Day 2, Floor Exercise:

Between Al and Armine, it’s easy to see the similarities to Bela and Martha Karolyi, who despite their Romanian heritage are front and center as the most successful American gymnastics coaches of all time. During the U.S. Championships in San Jose a month ago, one of NBC’s commentators remarked in passing that as a coach, Armine Barutyan-Fong seems like a younger Martha — if a single toe is out of line, her gymnast is repeating the move until she gets it right. Makes one wonder if Armine may be being groomed for the National Team Coordinator spot when Martha, like her husband, someday decides that enough is enough.

And GAGE’s fortunes have risen: Today, all their athletes are known for exquisite form and wonderful choreography. Just take a look at Ivana Hong’s lovely floor set from the U.S. Championships.

Ivana Hong, 2007 U.S. Championships Day 1, Floor Exercise:

As for Fong, although his temper has apparently cooled during the past 15 years, his goals, as he expressed to ESPN, haven’t changed at all.

“I want GAGE to be the epicenter of gymnastics in this country,” Fong declares.

Other GAGE Greats

Courtney McCool, 2004 U.S. Championships Day 1, Balance Beam:

Sarah Shire, 2004 Cottbus, Floor Exercise: