I don’t have as great of notes for the seniors as I did for the juniors – for both senior sessions, I sat with friends, and didn’t have the time to take detailed notes. The seniors were amazing to watch, mostly due to the sheer excitement of the crowd – it’s rarely that loud even for hockey games. Hundreds of little girls watching their heroines will do that.
Again, I am not the world’s greatest gymnastics writer, but I was there and know just enough about the sport to understand what’s going on. To review the senior competition, I’ll borrow a device from one of my favorite sports writers, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, that I haven’t used in a while: Ten Things I Think I Think.
Ten Things I Think I Think About the 2008 Visa US Championships
1. Shawn Johnson’s floor exercise music has that Olympic quality to it that NBC must adore. That grand, sweeping instrumental, last-person-up, winning-the-gold-medal quality. If you were filming a movie about a gymnast winning the Olympics, that is the music the music supervisor would choose. It was obvious.
2. I wish Nastia Lukin would smile for real. Just once.
3. Only four girls that competed didn’t qualify for the Olympic Trials, and they sat off to the side of the NBC commentators area during the medal ceremony and announcements. I could see them well from my seat high above the arena, and it was depressing to see them. They just sat, cross-legged, as all the other girls got their National Team warmup suits and paraded onto the floor for their presentation. It was just awkward to only have four of them not make it. What was the point of the championships then?
4. One of those four girls was Christa Tranella, who definitely impressed me over both days of the Senior competition. Sure, she wasn’t perfect, but I enjoyed her beam and uneven bars routines. There are gymnasts who finished behind her in the all-around who made it to the Olympic Trials, which has to be horribly frustrating to a young gymnast. I thought she showed a lot of spirit and promise.
5. Juniors have much more interesting floor exercises than seniors. I feel like the gymnasts feel that they can take risks that seniors can not with their music and choreography.
6. The program, which was sold for $15, was useless. No biographical information on anyone competing (which would have been helpful for those gymnastics watching novices), and basic articles on the different genres of gymnastics and “Why Your Child Should Do Gymnastics.” No information on the selection process for the Olympic Team, no information on how the competition would work – just a heck of a lot of ads, and useless information. And the WGYM radio – did anyone use those? Did you need to pack them with the program to jack up the price?
7. There could have been a better explanation of how the vault champion would be selected. You need to do two vaults to qualify for a vault medal. Okay. Why not explain this in a graphic or announcement during the half an hour between the start time listed on my ticket and the actual start of the event? Maybe that was what John McCready, jumping around in his orange shirt, was trying to explain this to me. I was unable to discern that inbetween his bad jokes and fast talking. And if medaling in a event meant you were petitioned onto the Olympic Trials, why weren’t more people trying to medal on vault? There were only two gymnasts who were elgible for vault medals, so there was the bronze up for grabs. I imagine it may have something to do with risking injury, but for some of those girls on the bubble of qualifying, it may have been worth it.
8. Oh, Bela Karoyli. Your introduction of the 1988 US Olympic Team made little to no sense. I think you even forgot one of the poor woman’s names (Chelle Stack). Your three minute preface to their introduction only had a handful of words we could understand: Boston, Olympics, and gym-NASSSS-tics. Those who I was sitting with during this presentation were trying very hard not to laugh. Overall, his speech was painful.
9. A hearty congrats to the Original Scrunchie Girl, Chellsie Memmel for showing up and hitting eight for eight over the two days of competition. She was a rock! She finished third all-around, and finished in the top 4 in every event except vault. After being devastated by injuries for the past two years, it was so good to see her back in fine form. You could tell she was quite proud and relived that she gave such a statement performance at these Championships.
10. Since I started using the Internet thirteen years ago, one of my favorite things to read were recaps and observations from figure skating and gymnastics championships (during my teenage limited internet years, I would devour as many of these in one half-hour of library internet time as a expert in one of those speed-reading infomercials might.) I wished that someday, I, too, would be able to experience a US Championship in either sport so that I could write my observations online. Well, I finally was able to do so, and it is such a cool feeling! Thank you for reading – i wish I could have done more!
Big props again to former BU goalie John Curry for making 33 – yes, 33! – saves to lead Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins to a solid win Saturday night against the Chicago Wolves in the Calder Cup Finals. The Penguins have come back from the brink of elimination to make the series 3-2, with Game 6 on Tuesday evening. And despite his heroics, which were dutifully noted by the AHL in their Three Stars of the Night, the commenters on the leading Penguins blog can’t be bothered to give Curry his due – they are obsessed with their retiring enforcer. Oh well- us BU Hockey fans will continue to cheer him on.
And I broke down and purchased a Boston Celtics shirt today. I figure my purchase of a Beat LA shirt now will only help out my future children twenty some-odd years from now, when, if history repeats itself, the two teams meet again.