Around the Gymternet: 92 years old and she never had pesto

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Nina Derwael

In the News

Derwael wins DWTS. Two-time world champion and 2020 Olympic champion Nina Derwael added another win to her collection, putting on one of the best performances I’ve seen from a gymnast on Dancing with the Stars to take home the mirror ball trophy on Belgium’s most recent season. Proficiat, Nina!

Biles wins a husband. She might be taking a break from gymnastics, but Simone Biles is still out there accomplishing major life goals, most recently getting engaged to her now fiancé Jonathan Owens of the Houston Texans! Congrats to the happy couple.

Give Raducan the gold. If you were obsessed with the heartbreaking and horrendous situation at the Beijing Olympics, where Russian figure skater was allowed to compete despite testing positive for serious heart medications to increase performance going into the games, you’ll love this piece in the New York Times comparing this situation to Andreea Raducan’s. You may recall Raducan was stripped of her all-around gold medal in Sydney after testing positive for a cold medicine, but now that the IOC doesn’t seem to care about this, I say GIVE IT BACK.

American Prodigies. This season of the American Prodigies podcast tells the story of how Black girls moved from the margins of gymnastics to the core. With interviews from coaches, mentors, trainers, journalists, academics, and the athletes themselves, the podcast will unpack what it means to be a Black girl in gymnastics. Very excited for this one.

Injury updates. 2020 Olympic medalist Vanessa Ferrari (god, that feels great to say!) had her one billionth surgery this week, where doctors were able to go in and remove part of a bone that was scraping against her tendon. Ouch? She added: “P.S.: The effects of the anesthesia temporarily make everything more beautiful.” Lucky.

Not so lucky is Elze Geurts, who vaulted into everyone’s hearts last year when she made her first worlds team at 26. The powerful Dutch star, who has a huge Yurchenko double and can also nail a front handspring entry, unfortunately suffered an ACL injury while training vault earlier this month. She wants to spend 2022 focusing on recovering and getting back to world-level strength, saying: “I’ve only just begun, and still have so much more to show.”

Parkettes under fire. It’s not the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. Parkettes, which has one of the oldest elite-level WAG programs in the country, is facing new allegations of abuse after 11 former gymnasts have filed complaints accusing the owners and three other coaches of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. Prior to these new claims, coach John Holman was ordered to not coach unsupervised due to allegations of misconduct in 2019, though he is still actively coaching at Parkettes.

Gymnastics NZ’s delayed response. A year after an independent review of the gymnastics culture in New Zealand, the federation is still trying to meet recommendations, with only two of the 50 taken care of thus far. The federation has missed multiple deadlines, and survivors of harm within the sport have said they were “losing hope in the process,” though Gymnastics NZ blames COVID-19 for their “glacial” pace, adding that change is “a marathon, not a sprint.”

Palate cleanser. I think we could all use a little respite from the world right now, so here’s Oksana Omelianchik and Olga Mostepanova holding a wombat, from a 1987 edition of The Australian Gymnast magazine.

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Meet Updates

Serie A. The first Serie A league meet in Italy marked Angela Andreoli’s senior debut, and she didn’t disappoint, with a phenomenal beam set that could very well make her Italy’s first world beam medalist since the 1950s. All of the Olympians also returned with the exception of Vanessa Ferrari, and they looked good, though Alice D’Amato suffered a minor knee injury in training just days later. [Recap & Results]

GAGE and Metroplex Qualifiers. The final two qualifiers prior to the Winter Cup took place over the past two weeks, with four elites initially qualifying at GAGE’s Dragon Invitational, while another seven made it at the Metroplex Challenge. After so few elites were able to meet qualification standards in 2022 compared to previous years, the U.S. women’s program lowered the scores by a full point for both juniors and seniors, allowing another handful of gymnasts to get in. [GAGE Results] [Metroplex Results] [Elite Tracker]

Cottbus World Cup. The first world cup of the quad kicked off with the first day of qualifications this afternoon! The competition serves as a qualifier for this year’s world championships, which will make things even more exciting than usual, especially on the MAG side. Qualifications aren’t streaming, but you can check out start lists and live results on Sportlicht, while event finals will stream on SportDeutschland TV on Saturday and Sunday, at 2 pm local time both days.

Several Ukrainian athletes are competing in Cottbus this weekend, including 2021 world bronze all-around medalist Illia Kovtun. This morning, they woke up to the news that their country was being attacked, and it’s likely that they may not have a way back home. If you’re looking for a way to support the people of Ukraine, follow this thread for organizations and charitable foundations that are doing their best to help.

Winter Cup. Also taking place this weekend is the Winter Cup, which includes competition for senior elite men as well as both senior and junior elite women, in addition to the Elite Team Cup for junior boys, and the Nastia Liukin Cup for Level 10 girls. After parting ways with Flo Gymnastics, USA Gymnastics has launched its own in-house streaming platform called FlipNow, which will show some of the events below.

Here’s the full schedule with streaming links, all times ET. You can find start lists and live results here.

  • Feb. 25 @ 2:30 pm: Nastia Liukin Cup [Olympic Channel]
  • Feb. 25 @ 7:30 pm: Senior Men Day 1 [Olympic Channel]
  • Feb. 26 @ 1 pm: Senior Women [NBC and Peacock]
  • Feb. 26 @ 6:30 pm: Elite Team Cup [FlipNow]
  • Feb. 27 @ 1 pm: Junior Women [FlipNow]
  • Feb. 27 @ 6:30 pm: Senior and Junior Men Day 2 [FlipNow]

British meets. Two national meets will take place in the UK this weekend, with both the Scottish and Welsh Championships beginning this Saturday, February 26. This year’s Commonwealth Games will make both of these very important, and there are some very strong fields expected for both. Here’s the program for Scotland’s meet, and the Welsh field is listed here. I don’t know of streaming info at this point, but GymData has live results listed for both.

NCAA Corner

WGYM rankings. College gym officially switched to NQS rankings this week, and while there are a few teams that don’t yet have the number of meets required to be included, the top 10 looks pretty complete right now. Michigan has yet to hit below a 197.600 this season, currently sitting nearly three tenths ahead of OU, while Michigan State jumps into the top 10 for the first time in…ever? I honestly don’t know. But they’ve been crushing it this season!

1. Michigan 197.920
2. Oklahoma 197.640 (+1)
3. Florida 197.630 (-1)
4. Utah 197.515
5. Auburn 197.375 (+2)
6. LSU 197.360 (+1)
7. Alabama 197.355 (+1)
8. Minnesota 196.865 (-2)
9. Missouri 196.790 (+2)
10. Michigan State 196.720 (+4)

Our first HBCU. It’s finally happening! Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee announced that it will become the first HBCU (historically black college or university) to host an intercollegiate women’s gymnastics program, with its first season commencing in January 2023. Fisk has already begun securing scholarship funding for future student-athletes, and the university plans to host several conferences, clinics, and invitationals in partnership with organizations like Brown Girls Do Gymnastics.

AAI nominees. American Athletic, Inc. announced the 2022 AAI Award nominees this week, which includes a total of 34 senior gymnasts (including three who weren’t featured in the video due to a “technical mishap”) who were nominated by their head coaches. The award is considered “the Heisman Trophy for women’s gymnastics,” with the 2021 honor going to Lexy Ramler of Minnesota.

The Yurchenko half-on. Suni Lee debuted the NCAA’s first-ever Yurchenko half-on layout over the weekend, and while it has some issues, she got it around and earned a 9.925 (god bless NCAA judging). The vault is the first building block on her way to a Cheng, an upgrade she’d like to bring to her elite program by 2024.

MGYM rankings. Stanford just keeps going, and going, and going…the Card earned a season-record 415.350 at its last meet at Cal two weeks ago, increasing its average gap to nearly five points ahead of Oklahoma, and the three-score average introduced in week 6 has them in the lead by about 3.5 points.

1. Stanford 412.583
2. Oklahoma 409.117
3. Nebraska 404.667
4. Michigan 401.933
5. Ohio State 399.083
6. Illinois 398.883
7. Penn State 397.017
8. California 395.150 (+1)
9. Navy 394.067 (-1)
10. Army 384.917

Out at West Point. Army sophomore Brandon Rhode, who competes floor and high bar, wrote a moving piece about being Black and openly gay at West Point, where he was at first afraid to reveal himself fully to his coaches and teammates. But in 2021, he made the decision to stop hiding, and found his teammates to be “some of the most unbothered and accepting individuals” he has ever met. Quick reminder – it’s only been a decade since openly gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals have been permitted to serve in the military. Progress.

Staying Social

Artur Davtyan. Olympic vault bronze medalist Artur Davtyan was utter perfection with this stuck handspring randi (that’s a front two-and-a-half twist!) on vault. Please never retire.

Wei Xiaoyuan. The new beam code is here, and yet again, China’s going to set the curve for originality, artistry, and series-building. In a training video, 2021 world uneven bars champion Wei Xiaoyuan worked on a sideways roll through to neckstand with a half turn, which is just fantastic.

Sekai Wright. UCLA senior Sekai Wright’s DMX-themed floor routine went viral, and for damn good reason – she’s a queen.

Lexy Ramler. Who says super seniors can’t learn new tricks? Lexy Ramler of Minnesota played around with a full-twisting toe-on shaposhnikova connected to a Pak in the gym, something she first tried out in 2016. Named for Elisabeth Seitz in elite, Ramler was the first to compete it in J.O., debuting the skill at nationals in 2017.

Leanne Wong. I could watch this gif of Florida freshman Leanne Wong absolutely destroying a triple full every day of my life until the day I die. Put it on my tombstone.

Katelyn Yanish. The split double layout is back! Katelyn Yanish of Oregon State is competing it this season, and it’s fabulous.

Momoko Iwai. Denver freshman Momoko Iwai, who spent a season competing elite in Japan, showed off an excellent triple flight series on beam, nailing the back handspring layout stepout layout stepout with ease.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

12 thoughts on “Around the Gymternet: 92 years old and she never had pesto

  1. Exactly! The moment I learned of the IOC’s decision on Valieva being allowed to compete, which I saw being announced live, I immediately thought they should finally return Andreea Raducan’s gold medal. It is just fair that way. Hope that does happen.

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      • Two young athletes, two very different outcomes in an Olympic doping scandal.

        She was a teenager, barely old enough to compete at the Olympics, and she did it almost flawlessly. After her last performance, to music from “Riverdance,” she pumped her fist and ran to her coach, who hoisted her onto his shoulders to wave to the crowd. There was no need to wait for her score to know she had won.

        Then, abruptly, the dream was gone: She was stripped of her gold medal after she tested positive for a drug she didn’t know she had taken.

        The athlete, Andreea Raducan — 16 years old when she and two other Romanian gymnasts swept the women’s all-around podium at the 2000 Olympics — became a cautionary tale for young prodigies who conquered their sport by doing everything the adults around them told them to. She had woken up with a cold, and the Romanian team doctor had given her an over-the-counter medication that she took without a thought. It contained pseudoephedrine, a banned substance.

        The contrasts with the treatment of the Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, who has been allowed to compete in Beijing despite having tested positive for a banned heart medication, are stark.

        Valieva, 15, could ultimately receive the same punishment as Raducan. The International Olympic Committee has said that if she reaches the podium on Thursday, it will delay the medal ceremony until the case is resolved. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said that its decision to let her compete was not a final verdict but an acknowledgment that barring her would have consequences that could not be reversed if it ultimately cleared her of wrongdoing.

        But the deference she has received thus far is hard to reconcile with the treatment of Raducan, who was only a year older and whose situation was even more ambiguous.

        The heart medication found in Valieva’s urine sample, trimetazidine, is linked to greater energy and endurance, and the fact that it was accompanied by two additional substances that aren’t banned and that can sometimes be used to help the heart makes it appear less likely that she ingested trimetazidine unintentionally.

        By contrast, few people argued that Raducan had taken pseudoephedrine for performance-enhancing purposes, or even that the substance had enhanced her performance. At the same Olympics, she tested clean for two other events in which she excelled: the team final, in which Romania won gold, and the vault final, in which she won silver. (She kept those medals.)

        But for the purposes of Raducan’s all-around medal, the court concluded that her age and her intentions were irrelevant. It affirmed that the doctor was to blame and that Raducan was not, but it also said the rules were the rules: There was a banned substance in her system, so she couldn’t keep the medal.

        Raducan did not respond to interview requests.

        In an interview on Tuesday, Dominique Moceanu, a gymnast who was 14 when she won gold with the U.S. team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, described what it was like to be a child competing under the watch of adults who expected obedience. She said that she could imagine being given a banned substance without her knowledge and that she wouldn’t have dared refuse if she had known.

        “If they said, ‘Here, this is a vitamin,’ I would have believed them,” said Moceanu, whose coach, Bela Karolyi, churned out Olympic champions through a rigid training program much like that used by Valieva’s coach, Eteri Tutberidze. “What they said is what we did, and if you defied it at all, you would be in big trouble.”

        But Moceanu also said letting Valieva compete was unfair to other athletes.

        “Everybody has to have the same rules,” she said. “This is going to open a whole can of worms for cheating, and it’s really unfortunate because minors are stuck in the middle of it all.”

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        • Thanks for copy-pasting the article here. I could only read the first paragraph because the subscription pop up suddenly blocked my view. So thanks a lot.

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  2. As usual, thank you for around the gymternet and for keeping us updated Lauren. Just one thing about Valieva: technically the IOC did want her out and they did appeal together with WADA and the ISU, I think, to have her her not compete, but CAS ruled against it. It’s complicated and it’s linked to the corruption and toxic culture in figure skating, which is so sad because that sport is so beautiful. Going back to an incorrupt sport like gymnastics is so refreshing. After watching figure skating you tend to appreciate the lack of blatant federation interference in gymnastics that I completely gave for granted.

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  3. I am thrilled for Fisk University for so many reasons. Gym fans here may not know that Fisk has been in a financially precarious situation for years. Some recent good fortune has resulted in this opportunity, among others, coming to campus. The University only runs a handful of sports- BB, soccer, track/cross-country, golf, and volleyball, and the addition of some of those has been recent. (In the early/mid 2000s, I don’t think they had half of that.) To start up a gymnastics team is not the most inexpensive thing for a school to do. It’s a big deal- especially when other schools have been shuttering their programs. This is a strong school with an extraordinary history, and I love that they are building this team. I encourage all gym fans to still support their favorite team… but to add some room for the Lady Bulldogs (I assume the name will carry over) in their hearts.

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