The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1997 U.S. Championships

Welcome to the live blog for the seventh meet watch in our 12 Days of Gymnastics series, featuring the 1997 U.S. championships!

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9:34 pm. That’s it for tonight! I’ll be back tomorrow evening for the 1988 Olympic Games because we LOVE a team final with DRAMAAAAA.

9:31 pm. Vanessa Atler and Kristy Powell share the national title, but Vanessa isn’t eligible for worlds and Kristy is.

They named the worlds team automatically here via the top six all-arounders who were age-eligible, so that includes Powell (1st), Mohini Bhardwaj (3rd), Kristen Maloney (4th), Jennie Thompson (7th), Kendall Beck (8th), and Dominique Moceanu (9th). The other stipulation for making the team was if you were top five on two or more events, but I don’t think anyone not in the top all-around group did that.

The other juniors who ranked here after Atler were Lindsay Wing (5th) and Jamie Dantzscher (6th).

9:29 pm. Kristy Powell’s windbreaker pants (which I’m pretty sure we just called WINDPANTS) and oversized t-shirt ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤  Peak 90s fashion.

Dominique Moceanu BB: A little short on a jump with a full turn near the beginning, but then gets the bhs loso loso pretty easily. She basically does a wolf jump in the run into her punch front, bless. Roundoff layout, solid. Jumps into her Omelianchik, which she walks around another half rotation or so. Switch leap to sheep jump, which was not cute, but she’s killing the game right now so I’m gonna let that slide. Double tuck, cowboyed, small hop.

9:28 pm. “It’s a learning lesson. IT’S WHAT WE LIVE FOR!” Okay Beth she’s literally the senior national champion at 15, please get your priorities straight.

9:26 pm. Vanessa Atler UB: Blind full to Tkachev, solid. Misses the Comaneci right after, by a mile. UGHHHH. Tim’s like “unbelievable” and the color commentary guy is like “can you believe this?!” hahahaha. Now she is about to fall standing on the low bar to jump back to high LOL. Back on for the Pak with some leg sep, toe shoot back up to the high bar, and a low full-twisting double layout with a big step. “OH BOY!” That’s a Timmy-ism for sure.

In slo-mo after her Comaneci fall she looks like she’s walking away from the bars saying “OHHHH SHIIIIIIIIT” like Ralphie in A Christmas Story with the tire in the snow. BLESS HER HEART.

9:25 pm. Omg the creepiest camera view of the cameraman peering through curtains to watch Kristy Powell HAHAHA. Make it stop.

9:24 pm. The Beijing Olympics feel like they were yesterday, but Beijing is closer in time to this meet than it is to the current year of our lord 2020. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

9:23 pm. Kristy Powell BB: Punch front mount to wolf jump. Bhs loso to Rulfova, great. She’s basically been amazing today and is like HINT HINT I want to win that all-around title or maybe share it WINK. Punch front is low into the beat jump. Full turn. She has some nice relevé throughout. Double tuck with a hop back.

MLT is basically crying, she’s like “you’re making me so proud, I CAN’T STAND IT.”

9:21 pm. Mohini Bhardwaj FX: Whip to 2.5 to front tuck, OOB with her foot, but Tim said no flags went up. A bit underrotated on her triple. Maybe a little wild in some of her jumps? Love her wolf jump to front handspring to straddle jump. Can we bring back cool mixed acro/dance series on floor? Not for value even, just for our enjoyment? Hit the double pike to finish.

9:20 pm. It’s still Vanessa Atler, Kristy Powell, and Mohini Bhardwaj in the one-two-three going into the final rotation!

They don’t really care much about showing Kristen Maloney or Lindsay Wing tonight but they’re fourth and fifth.

9:17 pm. Vanessa Atler VT: Handspring front layout, again suuuuuuper powerful, but still very arched. Though she stuck it! Beautiful DTY as well, got a ton of air, but just had a big hop back.

9:16 pm. Dominique Moceanu UB: Pirouettes to Gienger to Pak, very good. Arched over on a handstand in pirouette on the low bar after but fought through it and covered it up. Tkachev went a bit low and long, but she still caught it, and then she comes off MUCH too soon for the full-twisting double layout and again goes low and long, puts her hands down.

One of her pirouettes that Mohini also had was a front blind full that ends in regular grip/regular swing, which I feel like is something I haven’t seen since the 90s! I see it in the code all the time and am like “no one ever does this.” It’s not the cutest skill, tbh, but hey, it existed once!

9:14 pm. Kristy Powell UB: Shaposh to bail is lovely. Back up to the high bar, short on the handstand before the Tkachev to Gienger, but both skills are great…though she caught the Gienger SOOOOO CLOSE in the replay where we have a better angle, literally don’t know how she swung out of that without getting dead-hangy. Full-out dismount with a baby bounce in place. GORGEOUS routine.

“SO awesome.” – MLT. KZB’s like “I stan you.”

9:12 pm. Mohini Bhardwaj BB: Hit the punch front to wolf jump very well, then a switch to straddle, but the straddle looked low again. Bhs loso loso, leg up, checks with her hips to get straight again. Side somi, puts her hands down. UGH. Bhs to handstand pirouette, also not really there with that skill, I didn’t see how many revolutions she did in the pirouette nor do I know how many she normally was supposed to do, though. Punch front right into the Omelianchik, which is awesome. Hit the dismount. A very hit or miss routine, with some great elements and others that were iffy.

9:11 pm. Jamie Dantzscher VT: Hit her first vault but ran forward about a full mile off the end of the mat on the second, I didn’t see what the first was but the second was a Yurchenko layout half. Her face is like EEEEK hahaha. The Rybackis look pissed af. Calm down, maybe?

9:10 pm. It’s Vanessa Atler in the lead with Kristy Powell right behind her, and then Mohini Bhardwaj is in third.

9:07 pm. Kristy Powell VT: Yurchenko 1.5, hop forward/to the side, but seemed to have a lot of power, and just some ankle form in the air. There’s a giant X on the mat in chalk, so funny? I actually want lines on the mat so we can see distance and stuff, but an X would be cool too. Great on the Yurchenko layout half for the second vault. MLT is like “please be confident all day, okay?”

9:06 pm. Mohini Bhardwaj UB: Pirouette to Gienger, then a front full to straddle back. Short on the handstand before the blind full to Tkachev, feet are a little flexed if you want to be picky, and then she’s almost horizontal on a handstand after that. Great on the full-twisting double layout dismount, stuck it I think!

9:03 pm. Jamie Dantzscher FX: Another one who’s too young to go to worlds but is here anyway because USAG is like what is age eligibility? Crushes her arabian double front. Whip half to Rudi with a big bounce back in the lunge position. BEAUUUUUUTIFUL triple full to finish. WHAT A STAR. I hate literally every human being who destroyed her gymnastics career and tried to ruin her life. May she forever thrive. AWW, and she’s doing sign language to a friend via the camera. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

9:00 pm. Kristen Maloney BB: She fell on her Gienger again on bars, so she’s dipping even lower in the standings. Punch front mount to beat jump. Wolf jump half to wolf jump to Rulfova, a little messy on all of those, just little things and adjustments. Hit a leap after that, and then super solid on the bhs loso loso. Also nails the punch front. Straddle jump to beat jump. Full turn, kicks her leg out into her choreo, then dismounts with a double tuck, chest a little low and a step back.

8:58 pm. Dominique Moceanu VT: Yurchenko layout half with a huge step, basically the same as she did on day one. Tim STILL HATES IT.

Second vault is an FTY, big hop back, but pretty great in the air.

8:57 pm. Vanessa Atler FX: Huge and beautiful double layout. Her choreo is cutesy without being in-your-face about it. Whip half to front double full with a step. Triple full with good rotation and just a step forward. 9.65!

8:56 pm. Vanessa Atler has the lead going into the next rotation.

8:53 pm. Dominique Moceanu FX: She was 12th after day one. Her blush and lip liner here are fab. Whip to 2.5 to punch front, takes a step OOB and Elfi’s like “well THAT won’t help her go to worlds.” Calm down you jerk. The triple has better rotation today, in that it’s like a 2.5 hopped around instead of a 2.25 lol. But hey. Hit the pass that I missed yet again, aka the one that’s either a double full or Rudi to loso because I don’t pay attention to the beginnings of passes. Double pike with a controlled lunge. Honestly, get rid of the triple and this is a great routine.

8:51 pm. Vanessa Atler BB: Super solid punch front to wolf jump! Truly excellent. Nails the bhs bhs layout right after, just slight form things in the layout. Full turn. Pike jump to pike jump? Sticks the barani with a little arm adjustment. She is SLAYING. Switch leap to gainer loso, also fantastic. No wonder she booked that Reese’s commercial. Double tuck with the tiniest step. 9.55

8:50 pm. Kristy Powell FX: Triple spin to open, then goes right into her fabulous double layout, really just some leg separation on the second flip. Front double full with a step forward but nothing too severe. Hop L turn to back handspring to a big split jump with her head thrown back, basically a Yang Bo. Whip half to front full, good. Tuck jump full. Double pike. This was an excellent set!

MLT’s like “that was SUCH a good start, now STAAAAAAAY FOCUSEDDDDDD PLZ”

8:49 pm. Kristy Powell was only a tenth back from the lead after night one so it’s gonna be super close tonight. WINK WINK. VERY close is my guess. WINK.

8:47 pm. So I recently watched the gymnastics movie starring the Pink Power ranger which I believe came out in 1997, and the music playing for this opening montage is VERY similar to all of the music in that movie, in that it’s absolutely terrible. #The90s

8:46 pm. A little fluff here and they’re like here’s a montage of some good skills and some really not so cute skills. We don’t know what we’re doing. What is gymnastics?

8:45 pm. They’re interviewing Vanessa now. Gonna press play on day two at 8:46 pm! The video is here.

Vanessa’s like “luck was on my side because my training was super inconsistent.” She’s so insightful, one of the better interviews considering she’s so young here.

Dominique’s like “I’m not expecting a miracle but hopefully I’ll be better on day two” haha.

8:44 pm. Vanessa Atler leads after day one, followed by Kristy Powell, and then Kristen Maloney, with Mohini Bhardwaj in fourth.

8:41 pm. Kristen Maloney FX: big double layout to start, and then a ring jump series into a turn, cool! Whip to a double pike, with really solid height on the latter. Omg is this “Greased Lightning?” HAHAHAHA YES IT IS. I’m screaming. Legends only. Just remembered this is the lead-up to the 20th anniversary of the movie Grease which I remember because when you saw Titanic in the theater seven times like I did, you got to see the Grease re-release preview each time, which must have been Kristen’s inspiration. Whip to 2.5 to punch front, super arched in the punched front and has a big hop. Triple full super low and buckled on the landing.

8:38 pm. Lindsay Wing FX: Cabaret music so I automatically stan. Also a trendsetter because the Alan Cumming version came to Broadway a year later. Double front with a lunge forward on the landing. 2.5 to punch front for her second and finishes with a triple full, a little underrotated. Not bad, but a lot of her form is noticeably off…though her artistry and performance value is better than most of the U.S. girls. 9.7!!!

8:37 pm. More dramatic black and white Irish jig fluff. This is hilarious. The 90s were so chic and elevated.

8:35 pm. Mohini Bhardwaj BB: Punch front mount to wolf jump, super solid. Switch leap to straddle jump, maybe not fully on for her splits there. Bhs loso loso has a little check at the end. Side somi, low and her leg comes up but stays on. Does a back handspring into a handstand, and pirouettes through it, which is super cool. Punch front is low, but gets it to the beat jump. Omelianchik that she holds for a second before bringing her legs down to straddle the beam. Full turn. Hit the double back well. She’s off to UCLA in the fall!

8:33 pm. Kristy Powell UB: Shaposh to bail, back up to the high bar, huuuuge Tkachev to Gienger! GET IT. BEAUTIFUL full-in dismount. Okay, YES. I stan. She’s 17 here and everyone’s like “wow this old person is here omg.”

8:32 pm. Vanessa Atler VT: Handspring front layout, tremendous power. Her body line gets pretty arched throughout, I actually HATE front layouts off vault for this very reason but damn, that power is super impressive. And then her DTY is INCREDIBLE! Just phenomenal, especially off the old horse.

8:30 pm. Dominique Moceanu UB: Short handstand before some pirouettes which look a bit wonky, into a Gienger. Pak, smacks her legs on the mat. Oof. Tkachev, then dismounts with a rather strong double layout.

8:29 pm. HAHAHAHAHA is there anything more 1997 than a montage of Domi and Bela to Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You?” We just need Jack and Rose crying in the background as they sink into the Atlantic.

I feel like Domi did NOT approve a pro-Bela montage AT ALL. Tim was just like “here’s her new coach, Dominique said it’s the OPPOSITE of Bela” and I’m like yeah that’s pretty telling right there lol.

8:27 pm. Lindsay Wing BB: Loso mount with a big wobble. Switch half with aggressively flexed feet. Full turn and kinda rotates it an extra half. Standing arabian ends up super low and has a big wobble and a fall just as Elfi is screaming “OH, BEAUTIFUL!!!” hahahahahaha. Punch front, low, but still gets a little beat jump out of it. Double tuck with a lunge back. EHHHH.

8:25 pm. Mohini Bhardwaj UB: She was leading after the second rotation actually! Did a full pirouette to Gienger, then a front full pirouette to straddle back. Short on some handstands. Blind full to Tkachev. Full-twisting double layout with a baby step back. Fab!

8:23 pm. Vanessa Atler FX: Double layout is huge, excellent! Whip half to front double full, stumbles it OOB I think, kind of a rough landing there. Chest down on her triple full, but got the rotation around. In the replay they show that huuuuge leap forward on her second pass, but it actually looks like she stays in. 9.4!

8:22 pm. Dominique Moceanu VT: Does both a Yurchenko layout half with a big lunge forward and an FTY with a small hop. Tim doesn’t love either of them and is like “you GOTTA be in the gym training girrrrl.”

8:19 pm. Kristen Maloney BB: Punch front to beat jump, good mount. A little short on her jumps but does them perfectly into a Rulfova, which is awesome. Switch leap. “A lot of athletes CLAIM they have a certain start value but most of their skills are questionable.” TIM HAHA YES. Nailed her flight series, just some form things, then hit a jump with a full turn, straddle maybe, I wasn’t super zoned into that. Punch front is good. L turn, leg ended up way below horizontal (tbh it looked like MY L turns lmao) and she had a big stumble on it. Double back with a struggle on the landing, big step back.

With Tim’s notes about “claiming a start value” this was the first code that really started to separate routines by difficulty in a way older codes hadn’t so everyone’s like what’s happening, will I get credit for this, why is my score so low, blah blah blah. I feel like 1997-2003 were really the transitional years between the old and new systems so we’re still really new in that process here.

8:17 pm. I love that basically everyone from Atlanta had peaced out by this point and so it’s just endless “new faces.” Lindsay Wing is in second after this rotation I think, but we didn’t see anything from her really.

8:16 pm. Mohini Bhardwaj VT: Huuuuge Yurchenko 1.5 with a tiny hop forward. 9.525 and this vault is only out of a 9.8 I think? So that’s huge. Does a tsuk full for her second vault and it’s a bit messy, with a big hop and a step back. 9.2 for that, and that’s out of a 9.6, so that seems a bit high.

8:13 pm. Kristy Powell FX: I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen her compete before tbh. Double layout to open, a bit short with a lunge forward. Front double full. This haircut makes her look like a secretary at a doctor’s office, and the romantic jazz sax isn’t helping. Whip half to front full. Stumbled out of a jump series. Double pike, jumps into a lunge. Maybe a little low.

MLT is her coach and Kim Zmeskal is casually just hanging out with them. I think this is when she was starting her comeback with MLT?

8:09 pm. Dominique Moceanu FX: It’s crazy that this is her “comeback” meet post-Olympic Games, and yet she’s still only 15 years old and in today’s world this would be her first meet as a senior. Whip to 2.5 to punch front to start. Double L turn to tuck jump full to stag jump. Triple full, I think her feet are at like a 2.25, haha, but jumps it around. I missed the beginning of the next pass, something like a double full to loso, or maybe a Rudi to loso. Double pike to finish.

Omg USA Gymnastics has the same rotation shift bells now that they did in 1997 which feels NUTS.

8:07 pm. Vanessa Atler BB: She’s 15 here and competing as a senior but internationally the age just got moved to 16, so she can’t compete at worlds. Leg up on her triple flight series, but fights to get it back. Barani with wild legs and her leg up. Head roll, love it. She’s got a GREAT ponytail. A leap into a loso, slow in the connection. Really good height on the double tuck.

Now time to get yelled at by Beth Rybacki! She’s talking about her arm positions and so they replay her layout in slo-mo and her arms are legit out to the side, it looks nuts!

8:05 pm. Kristen Maloney UB: MALONEY! to Clear hip to toe half to front giant full to front half to Gienger, tried to lay it out but was a little wonky in the air, and she came down to the bar basically in a bizarre body position? Can’t catch and kinda nose-dives down. Back on for an overshoot, then a blind change to double front half-out. Lots of little form things throughout but love what an ambitious routine this was.

8:04 pm. We’re in Denver and now we have commentary. We missed the first rotation, of course, because this was apparently a thing.

Dominique Moceanu fell on beam in the first rotation, currently sitting 20th, while Vanessa Atler is currently in third place.

8:03 pm. This is the longest fluff ever and there’s no voiceover, it’s all text saying like “ONE OF THESE WILL BE NATIONAL CHAMPION!!!!” It’s so good. Now it’s black and white. Epic. This feels like something Tyra Banks would’ve made circa like cycle 16 of ANTM when she got into her artsy video ‘directorial’ stage.

8:02 pm. I have the volume off for a second because I ended up having to jump on a call for work last-minute and it’s just wrapping up but I feel like I’m missing SO MUCH GREATNESS because the fluff looks AMAZING. Lots of standing frozen as cameras move around everyone. Wasn’t this an IG challenge like last year? 1997 so ahead of its time.

Volume is on and it sounded like an Irish jig which I’m super into.

8:00 pm. Pressing play at 8:02!

7:58 pm. I really wanted to get some USSR Championships into this mix, but most of the videos I could find didn’t have names/graphics anywhere so it would’ve been like five million hours of “Idk who this is” but thankfully USA Gymnastics is good for one thing, and that’s uploading relatively decent meet coverage for everyone to enjoy decades later.

Anyway, today is our day to watch the 1997 U.S. Championships, and the links are here:

I hope you can join us! Enjoy!

13 thoughts on “The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1997 U.S. Championships

  1. Moceanu was born in 1981, so under the current rules, 1997 would have been her first senior year not her last junior year. She was 15 in August because her birthday is September 30.

    Also, the start value of a Yurchenko 1.5 was a 9.8 in the 1997-2000 code. All start values just had one decimal place. There would never be a start value that was 9.85.


    • I had a typo and meant 9.8 for vault, not 9.85…but for some reason I thought Domi was born in 82, not 81, so I was off by a year! Still crazy that she’s considered ancient for having a “comeback” here when she’s really just a first-year senior.


      • If Moceanu had been born in 1982, she would have been like Vanessa/Jamie/Lindsey and wouldn’t have been eligible for any of 1995/96/97.


        • Yeah, I know that’s the case, but I wasn’t thinking about worlds age eligibility at the time I guess. My brain was literally like “she’s 15, it’s 1997, she was born in 1982” without really thinking about anything else, lol.


        • Are you okay? lol. I wasn’t asking you to. I was just explaining that I made a mistake because I wasn’t thinking beyond just seeing her age as 15 on the screen and assuming her birth year was 1982. Nowhere in my comment was I mad or freaking out at you? Literally just explaining. Sorry!


    • Thank you! They’re so much fun! I’m gonna try to do them weekly in the future, but it’ll probably end up being monthly when meets are happening again.


  2. Pingback: The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1997 U.S. Championships – SportUpdates

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