Posts Tagged ‘Yvonne Tousek’

Aisha Gerber to become a Bruin

May 23, 2008

Aisha GerberAisha Gerber, the expressive Canadian who was third at the 2006 American Cup has signed a letter of intent to compete for UCLA next winter, NCAA.com reports.

In a statement, UCLA coach Valorie Kondos-Field compared Gerber to former Bruin Yvonne Tousek, one of the most expressive and unique gymnasts of her generation.

“Aisha embodies all that we pride ourselves on at UCLA. She is a brilliant and serious student of academics as well as of gymnastics. She also exudes confidence, poise and elegance, much like her fellow Canadian and past Bruin Yvonne Tousek.”

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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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Women’s artistic gymnastics: 12 to watch in ’08

January 3, 2008

Shawn JohnsonFor so long, the Gymnasts to Watch have come from four countries of the world: The United States, China, Russia and Romania. As we move into 2008, it is quickly becoming apparent that the best gymnasts are not exclusively from these four nations.

With the help of coaches who have migrated from South America to New Zealand, Korea, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, Great Britain, etc., international gymnastics is flourishing in ways it never has before.

Some of those who will be contenders for numerous Olympic medals aren’t mentioned on the following list. We know who they are. But sometimes the stories of the underdogs are equally compelling. Oksana Chusovitina’s fifth Olympics? Come on. That’s an achievement even those who snap up most of the gold in Beijing will never accomplish.

Shawn Johnson, USA: The 2007 World Champion will have all eyes on her this season, but she’ll be dealing with maintaining her position at the top of the podium instead of simply claiming it, as she did in every contest she entered last year. Many fans may watch Johnson with apprehension. After all, Johnson’s idol Kim Zmeskal, whose gymnastics greatly resembled Johnson’s own, looked darn unbeatable too going into 1992.

Shawn Johnson, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Floor Exercise:

Beth TweddleBeth Tweddle, Great Britain: The most decorated gymnast in British history (a term I never thought I’d hear again after Shannon Miller retired) Tweddle is going into 2008 with what seems like all of England marching behind. Freak injuries in podium trainings and the like have robbed Tweddle the opportunity to compete her best at so many competitions.

Beth Tweddle, 2006 World Championships Event Finals, Uneven Bars:

Jiang Yuyuan, China: She’s China’s rising star and a potential late-blooming all-around threat. With the Olympics being held in Beijing, it’s hard to imagine that Jiang won’t do well.

Jiang Yuyuan, 2007 World Championships Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Aisha Gerber, Canada: She looked like the next Yvonne Tousek at the 2006 American Cup. After a tumultous 2007, with new coaches Kelly and Sue Manjak cheering her on, a revitalized Gerber wants to compete for Canada in Beijing. In order to do so however, she’ll have to prove she’s more worthy than Kristina Vaculik and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs.

Aisha Gerber, 2006 American Cup, Floor Exercise:

Vanessa Ferrari, Italy: The competitive spirit obviously rages inside this one. The question will be if she can hit all of her events — in the same day.

Vanessa Ferrari, 2006 World Championships All Around, Floor Exercise:

Daria Joura, Australia: She’s been a spunky and well-choreographed presence on the international scene since 2006. If she does everything she’s capable of in Beijing, she could be in the top five on several events.

Daria Joura, 2007 American Cup, Floor Exercise:

Hong Su Jong, Korea: Despite their particular prowess on vault and uneven bars, the Koreans have gone relatively unnoticed internationally. But at the 2007 World Championships, Hong showed the same vaults as Cheng Fei — an Amanar and Cheng’s own signature vault, which some argued Hong did better in Stuttgart. With Brazilian Jade Barbosa also performing the Cheng, it will be a battle to determine who’s going to do what in 2008.

Hong Su Jong, 2007 World Championships Event Finals, Vault:

Anna PavlovaAnna Pavlova, Russia: The gymnast once deemed Svetlana Khorkina’s successor on the Russian team has limped along since Athens, which was the last competition she really looked alive at. The rudderless Russian team has looked thrown for a loop most of the quad as well, despite immense depth and talent from upcoming juniors. The thing is, Pavlova nearly pulled off the upset of the quad in 2004 (many argue she should have had bronze), and there’s a feeling she does have more to give. If she puts the extra effort into her performance in Beijing as she did in Athens, we could see more from her and the Russians this year.

Anna Pavlova, 2004 Olympic Games All Around, Floor Exercise:

Bridget Sloan, USA: One of the USA’s “Bubble Girls,” the 2007 World Championships alternate is getting attention for her clean gymnastics, personality, consistency and self-choreographed floor routine.

Bridget Sloan, 2007 Beijing Test Event All Around, Floor Exercise:

Cerasela Patrascu, Romania: With veteran Catalina Ponor gone for good, this girl could be the top Romanian in Beijing. Her form is good, her skills are difficult and her presentation has a wonderful quality to it. Expect her — and not teammate Steliana Nistor, deserving as she is — to be the one to watch this year.

Cerasela Patrascu, 2007 World Championships Team Prelims, Uneven Bars:

Yulia Lozhechko, Russia: She’s got the long bodyline — if not the sass — of Khorkina, and her quality and steadiness on balance beam is thoroughly impressive. After being unceremoniously thrown off the Russian national team for disobeying her coaches in Stuttgart, one can only hope Lozhechko put her head down and kept training.

Yulia Lozhechko, 2007 European Championships Event Finals, Balance Beam:

Oksana Chusovitina, Germany: It’s taken four Olympiads, three countries and one child for Chusovitina to get to this point. Regardless of how she performs, whether or not she qualifies for vault finals, how could anyone not cheer for this woman?

Oksana Chusovitina, 2006 World Championships Event Finals, Vault:

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:

Canada’s Cambridge Kips is ‘Sports Organization of the Year’

November 6, 2007

Cambridge Kips, the gym that sprung Canadians Yvonne Tousek, Crystal Gilmore and Aisha Gerber onto the international gymnastics scene, has been named Sports Organization of the Year, according to the Cambridge, Ontario Times.

Currently, more than 1,400 female and male athletes are registered in the various recreational and competitive programs, with many participating in classes several times a week. While working to reinvent the club – with new programs and equipment upgrades – numbers continue to climb, making it one of the fastest growing clubs in the country.

Hopefully the Canadian women’s failure to qualify a full team to the Olympics doesn’t dampen its citizens’ enthusiasm for the sport.

Kips’ success is likely largely due to head coach Elvira Saadi, she of the highly original and expressive floor choreography that has graced the routines of several Canadian notables of the past 15 years.

Gerber, the latest Canadian star to train with the Kips, left to train with Sue and Kelly Manjak at the Oakville Gymnastics Club. In 2006, when still training with Saadi, she was extremely impressive at the American Cup, finishing third behind Nastia Liukin and Shayla Worley. She continued her success by performing at the 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships even though she had been quite ill and unable to take penicillin, and later competed at the Ghent World Cup.

Unfortunately, she appeared to have regressed some by this year’s Canadian Championships and was not on the World team.

Aisha Gerber, 2006 American Cup, Floor Exercise:

Aisha Gerber, 2007 Canadian Championships, Partial Floor Exercise:

The montagemaker explains what happened

October 11, 2007

Today I received a wonderful note from Aleksas Trotter, who was kind enough to explain the confusion surrounding his Youtube channels, Islandboyrabian and Lexness27, as well as his Aleksas.com website, which had been housing an exceptional collection of downloadable gymnastics videos.

“The billing for my Aleksas.com website expired, and I chose not to renew it,” the mysterious Mr. Trotter wrote. “It’s all saved, and if I decide to put it back up again (I think I’m going to in the next week), it’ll all be back up again.”

As for the Youtube pages, Islandboyrabian is now off the web because of a potential copyright infringement issue.

“One tiny clip from the TV show “Simple Life” got my account suspended, and now all the videos are gone,” he added. He had begun work on a new channel, Lexness27, but it was hacked earlier today. Aleksas subsequently deleted the account and isn’t sure if he’ll be creating another. His website, however, will hopefully be back soon.

In the meantime, Aleksas’ montages have been preserved by Youtube user WWGym.

Aleksas’ tribute to Canadian Yvonne Tousek:

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.