A random girl's random gymnastics ramblings.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Realistic Expectations: Nastia Liukin


2012.  The Olympic year.  Everyone's favorite time of life.  People are excited, I get it.  Man, do I get it.  However, I still feel the need to remind the world about having realistic expectations.

Let me start by saying that Nastia Liukin's comeback is/was exciting.  Of course it was exciting.  Not since 1980 has an AA champion even tried to make the following Olympic games.  She will always be legendary to the gymnastics community, and nothing will ever change that.  Even 11th hour comebacks.

When it comes to all of these comebacks, my philosophy has always been "I'll believe it when I see it."  In fact, when it comes to most skills or upgrades at all, I don't count my chickens before they've hatched.  When I see it, then I will consider it.  This goes for Russian Nabievanars, double Y turns on beam, triple twisting yurchenkos, and 7.2 uneven bar routines.

So like, Alicia, Chellsie and Shawn before her, I refused to get too excited about any planned routines from Nastia.  Hope for the best, expect nothing.

Clearly, the internets do not share my same philosophy.  If I had a dime for every time I read a predicted team lineup with Nastia anchoring bars and beam in London, I'd be richer than Miss Prada Backpack herself.  But that's cool, it's fun to predict teams, whether they're feasible or fun or just full of all of the really pretty gymnasts that you want to see do beautiful gymnastics.  It's the Olympic year!  Why not.

After months and months and months of tweeted pictures of grips and rips, we got a tiny snippet of video from training at WOGA.  And she looked great, considering this was the first time we had seen her do anything competitive on bars since 2008.  It was a treat.  Even though we saw selectively edited pieces of her routine complete with heavy Valeri involvement, the tittering began.  Nastia was back!



People began to tentatively place Nastia on uneven bar podiums in London.  It would be hard to top Aliya or Beth, but with Nastia's planned 7.5 routine, she could be right up there.  And at least we know her competitors for gold are sixteen, amirite?

The next big fuss was during podium training for Classics.  I refuse to call it the secret anything.  Those present, and then the rest of the world (thanks to USAG!) were privy to a couple of half routines, even though Nastia wasn't planning on competing the event that weekend.  Who cared, because we got to see Nastia do real life bars, and it looked good!  The internet didn't need to see a full routine to know that Nastia was essentially a lock for the team.  I mean, she will compliment Maroney perfectly, will she not?

As is my style, I kept a lid on any excitement I might have had.  They were half routines, and they were heavily assisted by Valeri.  But I mean, it was just podium training, so whatever.  Spot away, Pops. 

Finally, we reached Nationals.  I refuse to call it Visa anything.  We knew this was showtime, because Nastia was planning to compete beam AND bars!  I could actually sense the salivation from artistry trolls through my computer screen.  Everyone, including myself with my cold, dead heart, was excited for this routine.

Again, thanks to USAG, we were treated to some delicious podium training videos.  So much more than Classics, we got to see almost an ENTIRE ROUTINE.  Releases, connections and everything.  Oh, the squealing!  Nastia Liukin: two time Olympic champion.  Nastia Liukin: two time uneven bars medalist.  The headlines in the papers will read:

Like Stealing Candy from a Baby: Nastia Liukin Avenges Her Lost Gold Medal

As the papers were being sent to the printers, I pondered what I had seen.  No dismount, but GREAT lines.  The tkatchev seemed slightly less butt-scratchy, and her pak looked high and gorgeous, just like old times.  I watched it once, noticed something, so I watched it again. 

Why does Valeri keep touching her?

Like, spot, sure, but this was touching.  Repeatedly.  Every time she went up over the high bar, he boosted her up there.  He pushes her into her gienger, and then catches her on her way down.  He lets her leave the high bar by herself, but her catches her on both sides at the end of her pak.  That's a lot of help for a session that is supposed  to imitate the competition.  

 (enlarge that's what she said tee hee hee ho ho)

The internets were either largely unaware of these facts, or they chose not to care that Nastia still hadn't done a full routine without assistance.  Nastia Liukin was still on her way to Team and Uneven Bars gold!

Then another video came out.  What was this?  SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP

It was the dismount.

Those who watched this glorious event  live could only audibly gasp-

-WHILE THE INTERNET FUCKING EXPLODED.


That dismount, it wasn't good.  It was SO MUCH BETTER than her previous best, which was good enough for a lowly AA Olympic Championship.  

Suddenly, my entire Twitter feed was nothing, literally nothing, but Tweet after Tweet with either thoughts about The Dismount, or a link to the video in question.  

While I was waiting for the word #dismount to trend, I thought to myself "He totally tapped her, right?"  He basically threw her up so that she could get enough height on the #dismount.  Well, with that kind of power, of course she could get the height she needed to not only make the skill, but to stick it cleanly.  #dismount.  

I was not pleased.  I felt as though I had been fooled.  It wasn't so bad though, since apparently the ENTIRE PLANET (see above) was also fooled, they just didn't know it yet. They'd find out the next day.  

That day was Day One of the Summer's Eve Championships.  Those in attendance say that the crowd was electric, and they were all waiting for one thing: Nastia Liukin's new super-routine, in full, complete with #dismount.  A good friend, we'll call her BoBo, noted that Nastia was STILL being assisted by Pops during the ONE TOUCH.  Now is the time to be doing routines on your own, one would think. 

You guys, it's NASTIA.  Remember her?  The Olympic champion with all those years of experience?  Yeah, I think she can manage.  She's a fighter, a competitors.  Watch her rock this routine.  

Epilogue

Nastia did not rock that routine. 

Some believe that Nastia is over, through, off to the glue factory.  Some believe that she will be able to gain such great strength and endurance in two weeks, that she'll be able to not only upgrade her skills, but also perform those upgrades consistently. 

Realistic expectations. 

43 comments:

  1. I had hoped we'd see some greatness from Nastia, but she clearly failed. I think the only way she would be ready to really be a contender at trials is if she f'ed up her routine at nationals on purpose to make it more dramatic. One things for sure, I'm totally beefed that she got an invite to Trials off of performances that showed she was in no way ready for Level 8 states, let alone olympic trials.

    Sorry, level 8s everywhere.

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  2. Barely started reading and saw the part about no AA champion trying for the next OG since 1980...I thought Lilypod tried? Or I guess she didn't have her comeback during 2000...idk...

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  3. Honestly, I never expected her to come back anyway, but most of this reaction (just in general people, not yours) is because 90% of the people haven't watched gymnastics since 2008 and were surely in the same crowd as the Shawn Johnson retirement crybabies...

    Now, whoever made up the term "artistry troll" doesn't even know what troll means if I think I know what they mean by "artistry troll" a la YouTube...probably a scrub off 9fag or something or someone who just thought that troll was just and only just a synonym for another simple term. I must devise some sort of "anti-term" of my own...like "Hyprocritical americanist", perfect! X-P

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  4. I'm so glad that terrible MIOBI show is over so these fantastic Spanny posts are back! I'm one of those overexcited Nastia fans with completely unrealistic expectations about her abilities, LoL. I can't help it. Though I don't think she'll make the team, if she does rock her bars at Trials, she could make alternate. Again, unrealistic expectations?? Who cares! Nastia fan for life!! :)

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  5. I <3 Spanny. :)

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  6. My feed has been full of Nastia vitriol instead of adoration. I can't hate on her because after taking an extended break she was still able to do ANY routine and score pretty well with the others. I'm talking beam, of course. And talking about the classic as well.

    My issue is that she just didn't appear ready to be out there on bars during nationals. Why didn't she have to verify both beam and bars prior to the event? It didn't look good for her or for USAG. And, frankly, it was scary for a bit. Every gym has that one guy who throws all kinds of crazy stuff and you're terrified he's going to die right there in front of you. She was that guy during nationals.

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    1. I've seen pretty much half and half vitriol and adoration myself, and they both mystify me. Why does it have to be one or the other? I think she's a fantastic gymnast who was brave to even attempt this comeback, and I'd be perfectly happy if she succeeds. She isn't, at the moment, succeeding. So what? Saying she looked like crap doesn't diminish any great things she's done before, nor does saying she's a historically great gymnast make her latest performances not crappy. Nastia herself knows and has acknowledged this. Why is it so polarizing among fans?

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  7. I didn't find your joke about the underage scandal very funny. The rest was quite good though.

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    1. Please. Everyone knows that He was underage and everyone has accepted they got away with it. It's not a big secret or even a great debate anymore. It's just the way it is, which means there's nothing left to do but make jokes.

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    2. Everyone? If you mean the sore loser American population then I guess that applies...

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    3. I mean, yeah... the USA is sore losers R US, and that's coming from me, who lives here. But I'll be the first to say that He was the better bar worker that day, and earned her gold. However, the fact that she was clearly not 16 (come on, FIG, how much evidence do you need?!?) and thus not playing by the rules just sucked for Nastia... and the 4 year gymnastics fans.

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    4. Sorry, dude, she was not the better bar worker that day--remember she and Nastia were scored the same and they had to paw through scores from the previous 3 days to come up with a "winner." By the rules He won, and by the rules (since we know she was underage), she lost. In other words, they were both amazing bars workers on that day, they both deserved the gold, and WHAT THE FFFFF IS SO WRONG WITH AWARDING A DOUBLE GOLD? Just throw out the stupid age rules since we know China was cheating anyway. Throw out the rules and find another way to protect the younger athletes, or just ban China altogether. God, I hate FIG and Grandi.

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    5. Everyone who says China cheated bc "they look like babies", I have 2 words for you.

      Mckenzie. Wofford.

      Girl doesn't look a day over 12.

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    6. Any age rule whine! Awesome.
      By this logic, we should throw out all rules, regulations and laws that people don't follow - and why stop with the Olympics?

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    7. Meant "another" age rule whine.

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  8. "Clearly, the internets do not share my same philosophy."


    Ha, like "the internets" is a separate entity. Aren't you one of the ones who had perpetuated such reactionary impulses, and goaded in others as well? Look in the mirror much?

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    1. Yes, but when Spanny issues a reactionary impulse, it's usually accurate and predictive, often sometimes prophetic, and not nonsensical and filled with wishful thinking. With that in mind, mirrors just seem irrelevant.

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  9. Nastia sucks, and the gymnastics world will be a better place when she retires for real and for good.

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    1. Now *that's* mature and well-reasoned. The internets needs more posters just like you.

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  10. Ah, dear ole SpannyTampson-- the seeker of more sycophants with her wily ways. Man, SpannyTampson has it made. Just make the same "Nastia is shit" incendiary bites (veiled as constructive pieces, mind) over and over again and people laugh!

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    1. Why are you bothering to read blogs that you don't like? Is it because no one's reading your blog?

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  11. Why are we even discussing her. She was overrated in her prime. Now she is just an embarrassment.

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  12. How is she brave to train for 2 months and and not even put together a real routine?

    She half shitted this comeback and everyone praising her should get a life.

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  13. Anybody who thinks the 2008 Chinese Gymnastic team had all age-elidgible athletes needs extensive psychiatric evaluation and electroshock therapy. He Kexin was obviously 14. It's even been noted by several international media outlets that she was underage.

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    1. Yes, and those international media outlets are oh-so-reliable. And learn to spell, dumbfuck.

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    2. I'd say they're about as reliable as missing baby teeth, forged passports and revoked bronze medals. And you need to learn that people who point out spelling errors in response to a debate or statement are just trying to cover up the fact that their argument lacks validity, STUPID CUNT.

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  14. And Louis Vuitton wearing media whore Nastia needs to just officially retire and stop stealing the limelight from this quadrenium's talented and hardworking gymnasts. She clearly just can't face the fact that her prowess is gone and her time has past. This feigned shoulder injury is also annoying and I bet when trials are over she will use it as an excuse as to why she wasn't performing well.

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    1. How exactly do you know that her shoulder injury is feigned? Liukin's a gymnast, she's probably been through pain, i.e. when she competed on a fractured ankle in 2007. I know someone is recovering from a shoulder dislocation, which is much more severe than a small tear that doesn't require surgery. That person dislocated it by tripping on a concrete surface, just one bad fall. I don't think I need to remind you that the shoulders are a joint, just like the knee. They're more susceptible to prolonged injury. You also need to remember that Liukin matured a little from 2009 to the present; it's probably a lot harder to swing with a force nine times greater than your weight when you're an inch taller. I'm not saying that's an excuse for her ill-planned comeback or her entrance to trials, but it is possible she has put a great amount of stress on her shoulders throughout the years.

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    2. Is there something wrong with Louis Vuitton? ;)

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    3. I agree. I just felt at times that she was milking every minute for all it's worth, but in the end I can't blame her in a way.

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  15. Oh, how I missed these posts while that lame excuse for a gymnastics show was going on. :D

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  16. Ha, SpannyTampson-- the trolliest of trolls.

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  17. Spanny I know this is unrelated but I think you should invent some kind of gymnastics drinking game i.e. drink every time a Russian gets called a diva, every time a gymnast makes a buttshelf, every time the Chinese have a fall etc.

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    1. Every time we see an Amanar
      Every time Kyla throws her head back on FX
      Every time NBC mentions Octavian Belu
      Every time the Chinese are accused of being underage
      Every time Aly bounces on her "down to the floor" choreography
      Every time Komova is called a crybaby
      Every time people watch the coverage just to see stanky faces by the Russians and point them out
      Every time we see an aerial+bhs+layout or switch split+back tuck on beam
      Every time we see a double pike dismount on FX

      The possibilities are endless!

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  18. I love your blog!! I love your insight and courage to say it how it really is! Please keep them coming :-)

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    1. Such courage coming over the internet.

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  19. You could not be more correct, Nastia WAS a great gymnast. Emphasis on the was, she just frankly is not what she used to be. There are many younger girls out there who are so much better and more consistent than her, she is usless to the USA right now. So therefore she has very minimal chance of making the team.

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  20. My problem with Nastia's comeback is that she doesn't have the face of a champion right now. In 2008 she rebounded from injury as the ice queen - steely gaze, focus, and determination from start to finish. From what I saw at Visas, she looked utterly defeated and almost scared. I truly hope she realizes her abilities and rocks Trials because I believe the US can use her.

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  21. Makes complete sense that she gets to go to trials while Chellsie didn't even get to compete at nationals, right?

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  22. You should totally write about how at trials PT she was spotted like heck AGAIN and surprise! No #dismount!

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  23. I had a dream last night that I was invited to compete in the Olympic trials, complete with an NBC feel-good feature on my underdog story. I could practically hear Al Trautwig saying "deserves has nothing to do with it".

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  24. Love that video! That's awesome. You should make more like that!

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