Posts Tagged ‘Vanessa Atler’

Aleksas Trotter, 1986-2008

April 25, 2008

Aleksas TrotterThis morning came the news that montagemaker, blogger and photographer Aleksas Trotter died unexpectedly in Madison, Wis. on April 19.

He was 21.

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And the award for breakout American Cup performance goes to…

March 4, 2008

Barring something major, we knew Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson and Paul  Hamm would do well at the American Cup.

With a bronze in her pocket from the 2008 American Cup, Samantha Peszek is one American on the rise.It was easy to be less sure of Samantha Peszek, fifth at the 2007 Cup preliminaries, who also overcame a 10th place finish on day one at the 2007 U.S. Championships to make the World team and become the preeminent of the U.S.’s bubble girls for a spot on this summer’s Olympic team.

Peszek helped her Olympic cause a lot this weekend. And no routine punctuated it better than her beam set, a 16.1 effort that earned her a new title as a “beamer” from Marta Karolyi.

Samantha Peszek, 2008 American Cup, Balance Beam:

That title is probably more important than the one Peszek was competing for Saturday. Alicia Sacramone had her breakout beam moment at the 2007 World Championships, when she hit solid routines both days and proved she could be an asset to team USA on more than just vault and floor. Those happen to be Peszek’s best events as well, and she happened to have a similar day Saturday.

As a gymnast, Peszek is a little Sacramone, a little Vanessa Atler, a little Amanda Borden rolled into one. And she’s only getting better. At the Cup, she also showed a new floor routine which much improved music.

Samantha Peszek, 2008 American Cup, Floor Exercise:

Samantha Peszek, 2008 Olympian? Could happen.

The Olympic Effect

January 19, 2008

Vanessa AtlerThe wonderful new blog The Olympic Effect posts detailed analysis on who’s who in the runup to the USA’s selection of its athletes for the 2008 Olympic team.

It also goes way in depth about the potentially harmful media effects on young athletes, spotlighting the stories of Vanessa Atler and Kristie Phillips.

Atler went as far as to refer to uneven bars as ‘the devil’ in her online diary. Atler’s coach, Steve Ryabcki, remained determined to prove that she could complete the skill. His insistence lasted three years and resulted in a nationally-televised explosion at the 1999 Nationals. Even though NBC muted most of Rybaki’s comments, the damage was done.

“Steve cursed me out at the meet and then refused to talk to me for days,” says Atler. “To his credit, it was the only time he ever did anything like that. Unfortunately, I was devastated. I was the perfect student and worked so hard for them for so long, but still got screamed at.”

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Choreography a la Nancy Roach

December 28, 2007

All the talk about Chellsie Memmel getting a (new) new floor routine has made me think of Nancy Roach, the woman responsible for many of the most well-choreographed women’s floor exercises of the past 15 years.

Roach had a great ability to take a gymnast who wasn’t necessarily a ballerina and fit her out with an athletic and artistic routine that showcased the best of her abilities — and the sport.

Perhaps the best example can be found in the classy, elegant routine Vanessa Atler performed in 1998 and 1999.

Vanessa Atler, 1998 U.S. Championships Prelims, Floor Exercise:

Gymnstands provides a great list of former international elites (from the USA and other countries) and who choreographed their floor routines. (Cool fact: Ukranian Alina Kozich’s 2003 and 2004 routines were choreographed by none other than 1985 World co-champion Oksana Omelianchik, who performed one of the best choreographed floor routines of all time herself.)

Roach has also worked her magic on Brittany Koncak, Lindsay Wing, and according to the Camp Flips USA website, Shannon Miller.

Brittany Koncak, 2003 U.S. Classic, Floor Exercise:

Liz Tricase told International Gymnast Magazine back in a 2002 interview that Roach also did her beam choreography.

Liz Tricase, 2004 Olympic Trials Day One, Balance Beam:

Tricase debuted her custom-made Roach floor routine in 2003. It was to a medley of “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago and complimented her jazzy personality wonderfully.

Liz Tricase, 2003 U.S. Championships Prelims, Floor Exercise:

Cheng Xuemin’s front handspring, front pike combination on beam

December 12, 2007

The first time I saw a front pike performed on balance beam was 1998, when Vanessa Atler threw one at the U.S. Championships.

Vanessa Atler, 1998 U.S. Championships Prelims, Balance Beam:

I saw a front handspring, front tuck combination for the first time that year, too, from Russian Anna Kovalyova at the American Cup (although Canadian great Yvonne Tousek had performed it at the 1996 Olympics.) Kovalyova was definitely one of the best beamworkers of that quad and is seldom recognized as such.

Anna Kovalyova, 1998 International Three-on-three Championships, Balance Beam:

Nine years later, here’s China’s Cheng Xuemin performing a front handspring, front pike combination on the same apparatus.

Cheng Xuemin, 2007 Chinese Nationals Prelims, Balance Beam:

The triumphs and frustrations of Kyle Shewfelt

October 23, 2007

Despite breaking both legs before the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, 2004 Olympic floor champ Kyle Shewfelt is determined to be ready for Beijing.

A friend turned me on to Canadian star Kyle Shewfelt’s blog a couple days ago, and I’ve been drinking in his impressions of life as an elite gymnast as well as his detailed perceptions of his recovery from breaking both legs training a laid-out Arabian double front at the 2007 World Championships.

Shewfelt, the 2004 Olympic floor champ and star of the supposedly exceptional gymnastics movie White Palms, writes with a dash and candor few gymnasts have been able to muster. Not since Vanessa Atler has a gymnast’s blog been so honest about his or her delights and frustrations with training and rehabbing from injury.

Shewfelt on being wheelchair-bound and completely dependant on others:

I have been sitting around for almost a month, patiently waiting for my legs to heal, trying to be totally positive and optimistic, but now I am finding myself going a little psycho.

A bit of Shewfelt humor:

First, I must apologize for not posting in the past few weeks. I’m not going to make any excuses…although “I broke both of my legs” could be a really good one!

Shewfelt on his comeback potential:

will be in Beijing. I’m gonna be there!

I kind of feel like I have been in a dream world for the past few weeks, just waiting to wake up and be able to walk and go to the gym. Today I feel more alive…more clear that my mission for the next year is going to be tougher than I thought. I am ready to fight though…I am so ready!

Shewfelt on Canadian Thanksgiving, which apparently happens in October:

I’m gonna pig out on turkey, mashed potatoes and pie and then probably feel sick because I ate too much, but that’s what this day is all about.

The talented Kyle Shewfelt, floor exercise, 2006 World Championships, Event Finals:

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.