Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympic Gymnastics: Nastia and Shawn rule!

After all the controversy and bellyaching and disappointment (for the US) that surrounded the women's team competition, my enjoyment of the port was kind of at an unexpected low. Thankfully, the all-around more than made up for it. Not only did the US win gold and silver, there were just a lot of really great gymnastics going on, unlike the men's competition where everyone besides Yang Wei seemed to be falling left and right.

So congratulations to Nastia and Shawn! I do really like Shawn Johnson...she's super cute and just seems like a really great, positive, upbeat kid, but I was actually rooting for Nastia to win. Her win is a little bit of a boost for the artistic in artistic gymnastics, and really, I've never seen her so flawless. Her stuck landings were phenomenal, and her beam and floor routines were just gorgeous. And of course the story with her dad just missing out on the gold twenty years ago made it all pretty perfect.

I was a little miffed over the judging though. I like the new system in that a more difficult routine performed well will score better than an easier one, but with different events being lower-scoring than others, it's kind of hard to tell who's really in the lead. And some of the execution scores are just downright confusing. How can a routine with several visible balance checks get the same execution score as one with none? I think Shawn's beam routine was really underscored, or the other people were overscored or SOMETHING. I was getting extremely annoyed but then it turned out right in the end.

Some other thoughts:
- Bela Karolyi can really suck sometimes but the clip of his watching Nastia's floor routine was just comedy gold. Especially loved Bob Costas' look of bewilderment as Bela practically attacks him out of excitement. Do they have video of him watching the whole competition.
- A lot of people were wondering what was up with Nastia's Barbie-pink leotard, but it was so her. The US team has a bunch of leotards in different colors and apparently Shawn and Nastia decided who was going to wear what together.
- Yang Yilin, who won the bronze, had some seriously crazy hair-clip action going on. I think I counted TWELVE. I totally sympathize though...Asian hair can be extremely slippery. When I did gymnastics as a kid, regular ponytails would fall out so easily, and I wasn't even doing anything that intense.
- Love the camaraderie between Shawn and Nastia and their coaches. They were all hugging and high fiving each other throughout the competition.
- The coverage was a little better this time, but we still didn't really see much outside the top group. I did like those Russian girls...Anna Pavlova's floor routine was pretty great. The NBC Olympics site kind of makes up for the coverage though...they have video of all the routines, and lots of fun extras like video of Nastia as a kid, Shawn Johnson Day in Iowa, and routines and interviews from past Worlds.
- The little feature they did on Shawn Johnson earlier in the broadcast was so cute. I totally cracked up at the scene with Shawn driving and hearing herself talked about on the radio. Her face was priceless.

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