Friday, December 16, 2011

Fifo's Christmas wishlist

Dear Santa,

It's been awhile, old friend. I haven't written you since I was eleven--um, er, uh, eight or nine years old. Yes; eight or nine. Perfectly reasonable Santa-believin' ages. Ahem.


I have to tell you, I've been AWESOME this year. I got good grades, made the Dean's List, and graduated from school. I made and personally delivered an entire person. And I kept my room--and the rest of the house--tidy all summer, until Baby Fifo was born and all hell--um, heck--broke loose.

So I've been thinking, and I feel like I'm well within the bounds of reason to make a few teensy-weensy Christmas requests. Hear me out! I make these requests on behalf of gym fans and fellow bloggers everywhere! I'm being, like, selfless or something.

So here goes:

1.) I'd like, above all else, an injury-free 2012 for gymnasts everywhere. It's an Olympic year, you know, and while I am always in favor of zero-injuries, next year will mean a lot not only to the fans, but to the athletes. Let the landings be soft and steady and the twists be fully rotated.

2.) Let Bruno Grandi get voted out of his post as head of the FIG. It's time for some new blood, someone who actually listens and "gets" it. I nominate Spanny Tampson.

3.) Let all EF and AA medalists succeed without falls. I think this is reasonable. We had some very exciting EFs at Worlds, and I'd love to see that same kind of tension--and then some--at the Olympics.

4.) Let the AA field in London be both worthy and unbroken. Well, okay, let everyone who makes the teams be worthy and unbroken. But what I mean is, let's see those AA medals be hard fought for by gymnasts who are at their very best. It would be awesome to see an AA final where the gold medal could reasonably go to any one of several athletes instead of just an obvious two. And let the results be close.

5.) May coverage of major meets continue to increase in both volume and accessibility. It's definitely better than it was a decade ago, and I'd like to see more and more meets receive real coverage over the next few years. And I'm talking live coverage here. Rewatching it later on NBC is a nice treat, but we want to see the action while it's happening. Ya' got that, fatass?

So rather than get greedy, I'm going to cut it off here. Thanks in advance, and feel free to throw in a few stocking stuffers (I have my eye on a nice return to the three-per-country EF rule) if you're so inclined.

With Warmest Regards,


Okay, so I'm aware that several bloggers have done lists like these. I had this half finished before I realized it, and I did not feel like coming up with something else, so...yeah. But I intentionally didn't read the other posts when I saw their titles because I make it a point not to copy other people's shit, so any similarities are unintentional. I know Blythe did one for Universal Sports, and I think I saw at least one other. I'll link it if I come across it again. Now I'm off to read Blythe's. :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Know a Coach--Vanessa Atler

I know that all of my Know a Coach segments in the past have been about current elite coaches. However, Vanessa was kind enough to take time out of her day to talk to me about her careers both as an athlete and as the team coach at Gymnastics Unlimited, and her thoughts and ideas are so refreshing that I think she's perfect for this. So the format is a little different, but I'd like to hit a few little tid bits of our conversation.

1.) Vanessa believes strongly in putting the mental and physical well-being of her athletes ahead of progression, although she values hard work and focus, too.

2.) She choreographs all of her girls' floor routines herself. Although they are free to bring in their own choreographers, they've all trusted her.

3.) The staff page on Gymnastics Unlimited lists her favorite events as "the Balance Beam and Uneven Bars". With a laugh, she said that that is totally untrue and was just a simple mistake, and her favorites are actually floor and vault. Floor is her favorite to coach.

4.) She got her start coaching just a few years after the 2000 Olympics, leading recreational and Mommy & Me classes.

5.) She gets more nervous at competitions than her girls do. She coaches levels 4-9, and says that, "It's just nerve-wracking for me the entire time. That's all I am is nervous. And it's one of the things I struggle with as a coach, because you know the kids, they really want to see you calm and that's what I wanted to see in my coaches. I get so nervous for them! I don't know what it is. I mean, it can be a level four competition and I'm just like, 'Please do what you do at practice!' That's all I'm thinking. And I just want them to be happy and do well."

6.) She loves coaching athletes with positive attitudes, and believes that coaching plays a huge role in developing an athlete's mental strength and outlook.

7.) If she could claim credit for coaching one current elite, she says she'd choose, "Shawn Johnson, just because she's so, I think, grounded and probably mentally--at least the things she says to kids and media-- very grown-up and very mature, and [she's] just a great role model. And I think besides her gymnastics, which is probably my favorite just by how she tumbles, and just the way that she does her stuff, I love that she looks happy out there."

8.) She likes watching videos and montages of her competitions on Youtube, and has watched even the tougher ones many times.

9.) She has definite opinions on how things are run and who should take over when/if Martha retires.

10.) She has many fond memories of her competitive days, and now has an adult perspective on the hard times at the end of her career. She blames no one, and wants to be remembered as a good person and a gifted athlete who was a National Champion and a Goodwill Games winner; not as the girl who didn't make the Olympics. She no longer sees herself that way, and wants to help make positive changes to the sport.

So that's a very small taste of what we talked about. I'm working on a full-length article, but I thought you might enjoy a sampling of where Vanessa is and what she's up to. She could not have been more gracious or open and honest, and I really enjoyed listening to her tell her story. Once I have the full article written, I'll let you know where you can read it. :)

Merry Christmas, all!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gymnasts do weird things to airline equipment

*stares blankly*

WTF is this? I read the article and I'm still not sure.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I, for one, am flattered.

So like a huge lame ass, I checked my stats today, just to see if anyone reads this garbage when I'm not updating frequently. And two people had linked from one Ms. Vanessa Atler's new blog, From Gymnast to Coach. Naturally I went virtually flying over there to see if she had mentioned my blog or something, and I found that she has it on her blog roll.

Vanessa Atler is aware of my shitty blog.

So I'm thinking--it's about time for a new Know a Coach segment, no? Maybe I keep the recent trend and cover a female coach? I think people are interested in Atler and her post-elite life. 

You don't have to say anything. I know I'm super lamesauce and gymstruck. I own it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Live viewing of the Supergirl Cup

So I'm very tired (hey, I'm making a person here!) and I don't feel like doing my usual lame-ass quick hits, but I might do a few if something tickles my fancy. In case you missed my last blog post and you want to watch the live coverage on Universal Sports, click HERE.

And refresh this page once in awhile. I might decide to amuse you with my charm and with. Or something.

Damn it. I need a snack. The actual meet coverage hasn't yet begun, but I know if I get up, it'll start and I'll miss something cool. Like lame-o commentating.

*sigh*  BRB.

 DAMN IT. I knew I'd miss lame-o commentating.

Tim said it's a big deal for these girls to have seen World Champion Aliya Mustafina on the floor. Wonder if they're as excited about World Champion Kayla Williams?

Are we getting scores here?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shannon Miller takes her story to Fox

At 11:20 a.m. on Friday, March 4, Shannon Miller will deliver "a special message" on Fox News Live online.


I mean, don't get me wrong--I'm guessing it's about her cancer scare, and I think it's great that she's educating women. But does she have to remind me that she's a big 'ole Republican? Can we not just overlook that part of her life?

Yeah, I just got all political on your asses. I detest Fox News. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Know a Coach - Kim Zmeskal Burdette

What is there to say about Kim Zmeskal-Burdette that the average gymnastics enthusiast doesn't already know? She was the leader of the Karolyi Six Pack, the 1991 World All-Around Champion, and the USA's shining hope for AA gold in Barcelona. She was known for her power on floor and her solidity on beam--not to mention that gorgeous mount.

Zmeskal-Burdette isn't tumbling much herself these days--at least, not in the public eye. But as owner of Texas Dreams Gymnastics (along with husband Chris Burdette), who knows what skills she throws around when the athletes have all gone home? I like to think she still has a whipback series in her.

Maybe not. But who knows?

Zmeskal-Burdette was born in Houston, Texas on February 6, 1976. She trained as a gymnast under Bela Karolyi from a young age, in the very same gym as 1984 Olympic Champion and current Trivial Pursuit answer Mary Lou Retton. By the age of thirteen, Zmeskal-Burdette was a rising star, as well as U.S. Junior National Champion. Two years later, she shocked the world by becoming the first American woman to win the World Championship All-Around gold medal.

Most of us know this story, but we can rehash it briefly for those who don't. After a fantastic showing at Olympic Trials in 1992, Zmeskal-Burdette was named to the team and was expected to come home with some major hardware--including a possible All-Around gold medal. But a fall off the beam during compulsories on the first night of competition forced her to fight back hard to even earn a spot in the All Around--which she did. Zmeskal-Burdette helped the American team reach the podium in bronze medal position, but after a mistake during her floor routine in the All-Around, she ended up 10th.

It wasn't the dream, but for godsake, she had two major, uncharacteristic errors and STILL managed to come in tenth. Not. Too. Shabby.

Injuries put the kabosh on later attempts at a return to the Olympics, but at one time, Zmeskal-Burdette was considered a serious potential contender for the 2000 team--eight years after her first Olympics. She wanted to be the old lady on the team before being the old lady was cool.

Her talent and knowledge of the sport would not go to waste, however. In 2000, Kim married Chris Burdette, and together they opened Texas Dreams Gymnastics in Coppell, Texas in 2001. 

As a coach and gym owner, Zmeskal-Burdette has produced several elite-level athletes, including current Senior National Team member and Georgia recruit Chelsea Davis, and Junior National Team member Kennedy Baker. Chelsea Davis was also named to the 2011 World Championships team, although injury during training right before the competition left her off the floor.

The Burdettes are parents to three young children, two boys and one girl. Zmeskal-Burdette has often been mentioned by gymnatics enthusiasts as a possible eventual National Team Coordinator, a position currently held by her former coach's wife, Martha Karolyi.