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Yesterday was arguably the best day for the United States in these Olympics so far:

- The US Women's softball team won again, making their record 4-0 in the competition thus far

- US Women took the Gold & Bronze medals in the Fencing competition

- The US Women (little girls, really;-) won the silver medal in the team gymnastics competition

- Amanda Beard (wow, has she grown up;-) won a silver medal in the Women's 200m IM

- The US Men's basketball team finally won a game in international competition;-)

- Andy Roddick saved 3 match points against him to advance to the round of 16 in the tennis competition; Mardy Fish upset one of the three best players in the world to advance as well

- Michael Phelps won another individual gold medal in the 200m butterfly. Then, an hour later led the US Men in an upset over Australia's Ian Thorpe et al in an event they'd owned for past 7 years, the 4x200m freestyle relay. Anyone remember the celebration by Aussie Michael Klem (sp?) in Sydney 2000 when they beat us?

All this combined put the USA atop the total medal count leading into today's competition. Yet, what do I read in the AJC this AM?

Second to One - referring to winning ONLY the silver medal in team gymnastics
&
an article about our local Fencer distraught, disappointed, etc. at winning ONLY the bronze in her competition

UGLY AMERICANS? maybe

I was so excited about watching last night's coverage. I knew in advance what the results were going to be (e.g. in swimming) yet I still had to watch and loved every minute of it. To see the reaction of our men's 4x200m freestyle relay team was awesome.

Lastly, I've got a couple of questions for anyone who knows. I don't follow gymnastics except every 4 years in the Olympics and two things I've noticed:

1. The vault is off some really wierd object these days in lieu of the "horse" it used be. Kind of detracts from tradition, doesn't it?

2. The uneven bars are so far apart now that there is no Nadia-like hip bump and/or spin-off at the waist dismounts anymore. In fact, the routines look a lot like the men's high bar routines with a high & low bar (only occasionally used). I don't like this change either, though I can see why they've done it (health of the hips?). Do y'all like this change?
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1. The vault is off some really wierd object these days in lieu of the "horse" it used be. Kind of detracts from tradition, doesn't it?


The new shape or whatever is called a "vaulting table" now and yes, it is a big difference from the traditional "horse." I've heard it called a tongue too since that is what it looks like. They changed it for international competition first (in 2001) and it is now used at all levels as far as I can tell. The new design is supposedly safer, particularly for gymnasts doing yurchenko vaults. Those are the ones where they do a roundoff (like a cartwheel) onto the board (bouncy thing in front of the horse/vaulting table) and then jump backwards onto the vault aparatus. Several gymnasts have injured themselves seriously doing some of the harder vaults on the old style horse. I heard that they are thinking of another slight redesign because of problems that people are having now, but I don't know if that is just rumor.
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Anyone remember the celebration by Aussie Michael Klem (sp?) in Sydney 2000 when they beat us?

Ooh, yeah. That was an absolutely inspired piece of sledging!

In context though, it happened because that Gary Hall guy from the US had been saying all week prior to the event in Sydney that the Americans were going to "play the Australians like guitars" in the event. Got a lot of press, and more than a few Aussies were a bit cranky about the comments.

So when the Aussies flogged the US, it was probably the most natural thing in the world to do a little "professional air guitar" playing poolside.

Worked for us, anyway!

Primm

PS It's "Klim".
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So when the Aussies flogged the US, it was probably the most natural thing in the world to do a little "professional air guitar" playing poolside.


I ♥ Michael Klim. I thought the Aussie celebration in 2000 was hilarious and completely justified.

It was a great race - just as thrilling as last night's 4x200 - and both teams swam well. The Aussies just outdid the Americans that night.

Gary Hall has a big mouth and, at that point, could usually back it up in the pool. That time, he had to eat crow.

I do remember, after the guitar-playing, the Americans going over to the Aussies and congratulating them on a job good done.
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I do remember, after the guitar-playing, the Americans going over to the Aussies and congratulating them on a job good done.

Yeah. They did, which was very nice.

There has been a huge rivalry between these guys for a while now, but having said that, a friend of mine in the sport says they are all the best of mates after the event. Which is lovely to see, that 8 men can be such fierce rivals, but then such good friends.

Primm
*getting into the Olympic spirit*
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2. The uneven bars are so far apart now that there is no Nadia-like hip bump and/or spin-off at the waist dismounts anymore. In fact, the routines look a lot like the men's high bar routines with a high & low bar (only occasionally used). I don't like this change either, though I can see why they've done it (health of the hips?). Do y'all like this change?

This change has been around for longer. It isn't because of hip health or anything else like that. The thing is that Nadia's routine would be considered absurdly easy nowadays. The harder skills cannot be done with the bars that close together. There wouldn't be enough room to really swing. However, I wouldn't say that the low bar is "only occasionally used" necessarily. There are requirements for the number of skills that must be done on the low bar and also (I think - could be wrong about this one) the number of times the gymnast switches between bars.

But that Nadia-like hip bump, which is called a beat - or at least that is what we called it, doesn't actually hurt. Maybe long term or something, but doing it correctly with the bars set at the right distance it isn't painful. It was in the class III-C routine until 1985ish. (Case in point, in 1985 that move was being done in the compulsory routine at a class III level. At the time class IV was the lowest competitive level, III-C being right above it. So that skill was considered easy enough for beginning gymnasts to do. I did it so I can definitively say that yes, it is easy. I was never anywhere near as good as the elite gymnasts who make it to the Olympics.)

At the lower levels of gymnastics you will see the bars closer together still. Part of that is younger smaller gymnasts, but much of it is that they don't do the skills that need big swings so they can have the bars closer.
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they are all the best of mates after the event. Which is lovely to see, that 8 men can be such fierce rivals, but then such good friends.


*sniffle*

That's just so nice to read.

I ♥ the Olympics!
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an article about our local Fencer distraught, disappointed, etc. at winning ONLY the bronze in her competition

I don't know the publication you are reffering to, however, I know that Sada Jacobson (Fencer) is the top ranked Woman Sabre Fencer in the World and that it was pretty much expected that she would win Gold. To know that not only did you not win the Gold and instead had to settle for Bronze, but that the fact that the fencer who won Gold is a teammate who is ranked lower than you and wasn't even originally supposed to go to the Olympics. That can sting.

=) Megan
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The thing is that Nadia's routine would be considered absurdly easy nowadays.

I was thinking at the start of the gymnastics competition that it might be an interesting piece to have someone that knows gymnastics look at film of some of Nadia's routines and "judge" them using today's criteria. Certainly some allowances would have to be made, for example I suspect most of today's required elements weren't even done back then, but it might be an interesting way to show just how much more advanced gymnastics is today.

Brian
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I was thinking at the start of the gymnastics competition that it might be an interesting piece to have someone that knows gymnastics look at film of some of Nadia's routines and "judge" them using today's criteria. Certainly some allowances would have to be made, for example I suspect most of today's required elements weren't even done back then, but it might be an interesting way to show just how much more advanced gymnastics is today.

That would be cool. I'm sure some judge somewhere has already done it for his or her own amusement at least. However, at the Olypic level there are no absolutely required elements per se. Each routine is required to have a certain number of elements at certain difficulty levels (the easiest level being A and the hardest being E) but you can choose *any* skill within that level. It isn't as if there is one skill that must be in every routine. Although it would be interesting to see a bar routine with no kip of any kind. (The kip is a very basic move on bars that is probably in every single routine.)

I want to clarify that by saying her routine was absurdy easy by today's standards, I didn't mean to insult Nadia in the least. Her routine was wonderful for her time. Since then there have been many changes to the equipment as well as to the way that gymnasts are trained and what they look for on bars. At one point it was considered a good thing to stop and hit a pose on the bars. Now interrupting the swing that way would be a deduction.

I do love that commercial where they show Nadia's routine and another gymnast (Nastia Liukin - on US junior national team, too young to try out for Olympics) on the bars at the same time. I have no idea what the commercial is for, but I actually stop the TiVo and watch that commercial at normal speed.
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1. The vault is off some really wierd object these days in lieu of the "horse" it used be. Kind of detracts from tradition, doesn't it?

Seems really weird, although in looking at it, it does seem that the main area for the vault is unchanged, but there is a lip hanging down in front. Might be a safety thing, or might be styling. Not sure that it really bothers me, but it does look odd. Fits in with the overall look, though; even the Table Tennis tables have a similar look to them.

What does seem odd is that it appears that the men and the women use the same horse (perhaps at different height). The old style had the horse turned differently.

2. The uneven bars are so far apart now that there is no Nadia-like hip bump and/or spin-off at the waist dismounts anymore. In fact, the routines look a lot like the men's high bar routines with a high & low bar (only occasionally used). I don't like this change either, though I can see why they've done it (health of the hips?). Do y'all like this change?

This changed several years ago; it's been quite a while since there were the "hip-bumps". Since the change, this event has lost much of its appeal to me. It used to be my favorite to watch, now it's near the bottom. I'm not sure I had noticed why until seeing some old footage; I really prefer the old way.

David
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I suspect most of today's required elements weren't even done back then

However, at the Olympic level there are no absolutely required elements per se.


Ok, I guess that just goes to show how much I know about gymnastics. :-) Thanks for the information.

Brian
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