2008 Visa US Championships, Juniors – Day 2

Yep, I’m still working on my thoughts from Seniors Day 1 – the Celtics and the Red Sox distracted me (I had Sox tickets last night, and was distracted by watching the Paul Pierce-drama filled Celtics-Lakers game after Seniors ended on Thursday night, and had work early in the morning on Friday…a timely post on Seniors was just not happening.)

Agganis Arena and the 2008 Visa Championships The Junior Championships just completed, with Jordyn Wieber taking it handily. She really distanced herself from Samantha Shapiro at the end of Rotation 2, with nearly a 3 point lead in the all-around. I game late, and I don’t know what happened to Shapiro in rotation 1 (she was first up on floor exercise), but she was either marked down because she was first, or something went wrong. I walked in as Wieber began her floor, and she was on – it was a statement performance. No one was going to take the title away from her this afternoon. The following are my thoughts on the rest of the session before I head back to see the seniors.

Lingering Question of the Session:

As not the most knowledgeable person about gymnastics, can someone from the blogosphere explain Shapiro’s beam score? I sat in front of the beam and there were a few bobbles and formbreaks. To the naked eye, I don’t think her difficulty was that much harder, if at all, over some of the others – what earned her that 15.550? I’ll look over the Quick Hits on US Gymnastics later to see if I can tell the difference.

My Favorite Performances:

Annette Miele’s (Parkettes) beam routine – she was just fun to watch in general. She took her time on beam, instead of rushing through her elements, and it was nice to see a routine unfrenzied.

Sophia Lee’s (WOGA) floor exercise – She had great choreography along with a fantastic music choice (if I remember correctly, it was a techno piece, but really well edited. I could be remembering wrong – I really should have written a note about her music.) Loved the WOGA girls’ leotards this session – black with a gold lame accent.

Randi Lau (What’s Up Gymnastics – the best gym name ever, as far as I’m concerned.) – She has a split leap to die for. What most of the So You Think You Can Dance contestants would give for her leap – she’s got flexibility and spring to spare. I thought the girl was going to touch the scoreboard.

Samantha Shapiro’s bar routine – First a disclaimer – I hate uneven bars. They were my sister Megan’s favourite event in gymnastics when she trained, but that’s because Megan has the upper body strength of a football player ten times her size and frame without having to work at it, and then when she does work at it, she looks like a freaken American Gladiator – yes, it’s a poorly kept secret that I envy my sister’s athletic ability. However, Shapiro points her toes, and has her legs as straight as pencils throughout the routine, and never breaks this form, even in her release move (which is something most juniors need to work on.) She scored the highest score of the meet with this routine, and it was deserved. And I swear she smiled through the whole thing. Scary good.

Desi Borgese (Airborne) beam mount – Awesome mount – I believe, and I could be totally wrong, that it was a front press (handstand) to a split attitude position (it’s named after a gymnast and I just can’t remember the name.) Shapiro attempted the same in her beam routine, but I swore Borgese held the position longer, and had a better arch. Borgese also gets the leotard of the day award – dark lavender top with a lilac bodice with some glitter, but not an overwhelming amount. (There was like a glitter explosion on the leotard front on Day 2 – the glitter comes out for the finals, I assume.)

Sophina DeJesus’s (Precision) floor – This girl sells every move she does on every event, and her floor routine shined just like it did on Day 1. She uses marching band music (think the movie Drumline) and has great choreography and just a perfect smidge of attitude. Her difficulty isn’t there yet, but gosh, she ought to get bonus points just for having unique music! Please, please, please keep this music for as long as possible.

Random Notes:

My Scrunchie Girl of the Meet – Rebecca Clark (GAGE). She flew under the radar all meet to a sixth place finish. She looks like a senior gymnast in the way she carries herself and the routines she does. I adored her floor routine, as well as her beam routine. She also had a fantastic leotard (red with white diamonds along one side of the bodice.)

The Tough Cookie of the Meet – Lauren Beers (Southern Tier – Hooray for Binghamton!!!). Beers obviously had a right foot/ankle injury, and could only compete bars on Thursday afternoon. She competed all but floor today, and was obviously in pain. Beam was hard for her, but she did respectfully on vault and bars. Great effort for her, and great work Southern Tier for consistently producing the best gymnasts in New York State.

Yep, I Miss Hockey – During rotation 3’s warm-ups, they played two very appropriate songs for the arena they’re in – J.Lo’s Let’s Get Loud (if you’re a BU hockey fan, you’ll understand the reference) and a blechy techno version of Hey, Baby, one of the best known college hockey pep band songs.

Beef of the Day – Also, as a former dancer, I have beef with floor exercise choreography. One of the key lessons I learned as a dancer was not to throw away an arm movement. An arm movement needs to be completed to the tip of the middle finger, not an iota less. I did not learn this till I was a teenager, but once I did, my performing improved ten-fold. Can someone please impart this to gymnasts on floor as well? Maybe not even the gymnasts, just the choreographers. Stop choreographing arms without the time to complete the movement – less frantic, less jumbled, no empty flings or curves of arms. Once you do that, you can work with the gymnast on having that entire arm hit the movement. Frantic arm movements, too many arm movements to the music, are never going to get finished. I know this might get complicated by the points system in gymnastics, but I wish it wasn’t!

Okay, rant over. I know that was painful.

All in all, I must say I definitely enjoy watching the junior women better than the senior women. There are no “stars”- you can root for whomever you want, everyone is rooting for everyone else, and the gymnasts are just so happy to be there. A hearty great job and congratulations to all of the junior women – what a great meet!!!


Before I go back to the arena for the Seniors, two quick notes:

Big props to John Curry, former Boston University goalie and current goalie for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for averting a four game sweep by the Chicago Wolves in the Calder Cup finals last night.  He’s been making amazing saves, very much like he did with BU, and unfortunately, has had no defense in front of him (some would say just like he did at BU).  Imagine what Curry could do with a defense?!  I know the WBS fans still aren’t completely convinced (and I imagine want Ty Conklin back), but you’ve got a great goalie in Dunder-Mifflin land.   Hang on to him.

Jim McKay, announcer of half of the resounding sports events of my childhood, you will be missed.


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Filed under 2008 Olympics, Boston MA, gymnastics, pep bands

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