Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shawn Article...

I just found this really good article about Chow's flooding and what Shawn was thinking... take a minute to read it.

Flood doesn’t slow Johnson
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Go home and rest, Shawn Johnson’s coaches insisted, there was nothing to worry about. Her gym would be safe from the fast-rising river, and nothing was going to disrupt her training in those last few days before the Olympic trials.

When Johnson woke up in the middle of the night, though, and found that her parents still weren’t home, she knew something was wrong. She drove to the gym, and found water from the Raccoon River lapping at the parking lot and volunteers stacking sandbags around the building.

By the next morning, there was a foot of water inside the gym.

“We definitely haven’t been hit as hard as others. In some cities, houses have completely gone under,” Johnson said Wednesday after her practice at the Olympic gymnastics trials. “(But) it’s hard to see our own gym go under water and to know a lot of equipment was damaged. We’re there every day of our lives, basically, so it’s kind of like seeing your home go under.”

There are all kinds of obstacles athletes encounter on their way to the Olympics: injuries, fatigue, doubt, financial hardship.

Mother Nature, though, isn’t usually on the list.

Johnson and coach Liang Chow’s relatively smooth road to the Beijing Olympics was in disarray late last week after floods ravaged Iowa. Yet for as much as it tested their resolve, it reminded them even more of their strength.

“It’s a real warm feeling, having these kind of people behind you,” Chow said. “It’s a bad flooding, but it was a great effort, a great community effort, a great (reminder) of people’s hearts. It was just tremendous.”

Johnson and teammate Nastia Liukin are considered the favorites for gold in Beijing. They were 1-2 at the national championships two weeks ago, and few are expecting anything different at this week’s trials, where the top two earn automatic bids to the Olympic team. The rest of the six-woman squad will be chosen July 20.

All Johnson had to do was stay her consistent self, and that trip to Beijing was hers.

Then the rain began to fall.

Johnson lives in West Des Moines, and neither her nor Chow’s home was threatened. But the gym, Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute, is in an industrial park only a few blocks from the Raccoon River, and Chow kept one eye on the water and one on Johnson while she trained last Thursday afternoon.

“I dismissed all the classes early,” said Chow, who coaches Johnson with his wife, Li Zhuang. “It’s not life-threatening, it’s not close to that, it’s that water is coming to the parking lot. Li was teaching Shawn on beam and she was trying to squeeze every last minute. I said `Li, we have to finish up class RIGHT NOW.”’

As the water level climbed higher and higher, parents, city officials and people Chow didn’t even know began showing up at the gym. They filled sandbags and piled them outside the building in a makeshift barricade. They wrapped plastic around the outside walls. They hauled mats and balance beams and vaults and uneven bars off the floor, carrying them up to a balcony where the water wouldn’t touch them.

Johnson wanted to help, but Chow and Li shooed her away. They were leaving for the Olympic trials in four days, and she needed to rest.

“I wanted to help so bad,” Johnson said. “My coaches wanted me to be as safe as possible. They didn’t want me wasting energy. I understand that, but it’s really hard to stand back and watch when you’re normally helping and in the activity.”

When a city engineer surveyed the area and assured Chow the water wouldn’t rise beyond the parking lot, the coach breathed a sigh of relief. He left the gymnastics floor intact, moved some mats back down to the ground floor so Johnson would be able to train Friday morning and went home.

“I slept pretty good,” Chow said. “I got there early in the morning (Friday) and oh my gosh, the parking lot is full of water, up to my hips. … I was thinking, `There is no worse timing than this.’ The Olympic trials are coming up and I was thinking about Shawn’s training.”

Said Johnson, “When you think flooded you think, `OK, there’s water on the ground.’ But we went there and it’s waist-deep throughout the whole gym and the parking lot was even deeper. It was crazy. People actually brought out canoes.”

Training was out of the question. Not only was there a foot of water in the building, but the gymnastics floor was ruined.

“I was most worried about where I would train. I felt almost guilty thinking about that, just kind of selfish,” Johnson said. “Being that close to trials and seeing, I don’t know, almost my place slip away, it kind of scared me. … I helped get things cleaned up at first and then Chow just told me not to worry about it, don’t stress out, we’ll have a place and you’ll definitely be ready.”

While Johnson trained Friday and Saturday at Iowa State, about 30 miles north of her hometown, a small army of volunteers—parents, other gymnasts, Johnson’s high school classmates—began the massive clean up. They hauled equipment out to the parking lot to dry in the sun, hosed down mats and scrubbed floors.

They even rebuilt the gymnastics floor—though that led to one more bit of drama. Johnson’s father, Doug, a carpenter, tore his right biceps while he was rebuilding the floor, and will have surgery to repair it next week.

The volunteers worked so quickly Johnson was able to train in her own gym again Sunday.

“It really touches your heart, warms your heart,” Chow said. “You feel like this is my family, this small community of people is just wonderful. … They’re just trying to help us and to help Shawn achieve our goal. I feel like not only our community, but the state of Iowa is behind us.”

And Beijing in front of them.

Good, right? Gotta love her. :)

And with that said...

Who do you think it will be? Shawn or Nastia? Or could someone from behind pull out in front and surprise us all? It's highly unlikely, but ANYTHING can happen. And yours truly will be there to witness it! :D

Which means I probably will not be able to blog until Monday when I get back... I'm leaving in about an hour, so no posts today either. So until Monday...

Go Shawn!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chow's Gymnastics is Flooded...

If you didn't already know, there's been some serious flooding problems over in the mid-west for the past week or so. Well... I was just browsing The Chalk Bucket, and Jamarie there said she was watching the news and they said that Sahwn Johnson's gym is indeed flooded. That truly stinks for her, what with trials starting for her on Friday. I guess she'll be training at Iowa State University until Chow's is functional again. :(

I hope this doesn't mess with her mind. She's worked too hard to let something like this affect her.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

In Other News, the Pope is Catholic!

Shawn (as expected) won the Senior US Nationals last week (yeah, my bad. School's out now, so I should be able to post things when they actually happen. :P). Saint Nastia came in second, followed by Chellsie in 3'd. Yay! Samantha came in 4th, Ivana in 5th.

The rest of the results are as follows:

6. Jana Bieger
7. Mattie Larson
8. Corrie Lothrop
9. Randy Stageberg
10. Mackenzie Caquatto
11. Olivia Courtney
12. Alaina Johnson
13. Christa Tanella
14. Britney Ranzy
15. Ashley Stott

Which means Ashley missed making it to Trials by just two spots. Bummer. :(

Anyways, individual event medalists - A Sac wins vault, as usual. Saint Nastia wins bars in a landslide, as well as beam. Shawn got floor. :)

So there's your '08-'09 national team. All of them are proceeding to trials (oh. em. gee. I leave for that on Thursday! *dies*). So here's your complete list of competitors for next weekend:

*Jana Bieger
*Mackenzie Caquatto
*Olivia Courtney
*Chelsea Davis
*Darling Hill (I still don't like your new name, dahhling!)
*Ivana Hong
*Alaina Johnson
*Shawn Johnson
*Mattie Larson
*Nastia Liukin
*Corrie Lothrop
*Chellsie Memmel
*Samantha Peszek
*Britney Ranzy
*Alicia Sacramone
*Bridget Sloan
*Randy Stageberg
*Amber Trani
*Shayla Worley

Mmkay... I think I'll go die now. Just to warn you, I may update from trials... so if you want to watch it on tv without spoilers, I'd avoid this blog. :P

Friday, June 6, 2008

Part 2


Vault -

Mattie Larson does a DTY with a small step on the landing. 14.900
Corrie Lothrop also does a DTY and steps on the landing. 14.700
Jana Bieger does a Yurchenko 1 1/2 pretty solid. Step on the landing. 14.500

Bars -

Alaina Johnson does a solid routine for a 14.050
Randy Stageberg also does a good routine for a 13.250. Lacking in the difficulty department. She only has a 5.4 start for difficulty.
Britney Ranzy hits her routine, has two steps out of her double-layout dismount. 13.300.
Saint Nastia Liukin becomes the first American gymnast to score a 17... and that was with a step on the landing! She wound up with a 17.050.
Shawn does a great routine, only taking a very small step on her double-twisting double-layout dismount. 15.400.
Christa Tanella takes an extra swing before her overshoot. 13.550.

Beam -

Olivia Courtney does a good routine, but stumbles out of her double-pike dismount. 14.600.
McKenzie Caquatto does a good routine. 14.800.
Chellsie Memmel hits a GREAT routine, and sticks her double pike. Yay! 16.050. Glad to see she's back and still good. :)
Amber Trani also does a decent routine, just a step on the dismount. 14.850.
Ivana Hong hits a strong routine for a 15.250
Kimberly Jacob hits a really nice routine, even sticks her handspring full. Then she went and fell on her double-pike dismount. Boo. 13.850.

Floor -

Darlene "Darling" Hill (what's up with the whole "Darling" thing? Not a fan, personally...) does a nice, solid routine, but is a little short on her double pike. 15.100
Alicia Sacramone also does a good routine, but steps OOB. 15.500, which still got her second place.
Samantha Peszek steps out on her double double, and has a few steps out of her other passes. 15.200.
Ashley Stott has LOADS of OOB's. She stepped out on her apparantly super-high arabian double front, landed out on her 1 1/2 through to 2 1/2 layout, and stepped out on her double-pike. Ouch. 14.150... there was .7 of out of bounds deductions!


Vault -

Darling Hill does a Yurchenko 1 1/2, but takes a BIG step OOB. 14.300
Alicia Sacramone does a good handspring Rudi, just a small hop on the landing. Her second vault was a Yurchenko double, again having just a small hop on the landing. 15.900.
Samantha Peszek also does a Yurchenko double and almost sticks it, but takes a small step. 15.000.
Ashley Stott does a Yurchenko double and had just a tiny hop. 14.600.

Bars -

Mattie Larson falls on her stalder chaposh, and has a step out of her 1/2 in front out dismount. 14.200.
Corrie Lothrop falls on her stalder 1/2, and steps out of her full twisting double-tuck dismount. 14.000.
Jana Bieger does a pretty solid routine for a 15.450.
Katelyn Mohr falls on her tkatchev, which hurts her score in a big way. Her A score is only 5.4... she got a 13.350.

Beam -

Randy Stageberg has a solid routine, but has a large step out of her double-pike dismount. 14.500.
Saint Nastia does a very nice routine and just steps out of her dismount. 16.100.
Shawn Johnson sticks her fantastic handspring handspring layout to two feet, my favorite thing ever. She stepped out of her roundoff full-in dismount. 16.000.
Christa Tanella falls TWICE - once on her side semi, and once on her dismount. Her foot slipped a la Nastia at 05 nationals. 12.350. Ouch.

Floor -

Chellsie Memmel does a really good routine that earns her a 15.100. Oh, she's back (sorry cccam! :P)
Amber Trani steps OOB on her arabian double-front, but the rest of her routine was pretty good. 14.100.
Ivana Hong does an OK routine. She was a bit low on her 1 1/2 to front full, and had a small "shuffle" (thanks USAG, for that wonderful quote... :P) on her double-pike. 15.150.
And to finish out the meet... Olivia Courtney does a pretty decent routine for a 14.450.

So there's your day 1 of nationals. It's going to be broadcast June 7th at 4pm. Set your TiVos!!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Is This Really a Shock?

Jordyn Wieber is definately leading the junior nationals, and Shawn is in the lead for the seniors. Here's some quick hits from USAG...


Vault -

Ivana Hong does a double twisting Yurchenko, steps over the OOB line. 14.500
Chellsie Memmel does a Yurchenko full with a small step on the landing. 13.900
Amber Trani also does a double twisting Yurchenko and steps out. 14.100

Bars -

Sam Peszek does a clean routine, small step on the dismount. 15.150
Ashley Stott does a nice routine up until her full-in layout dismount. Falls. 13.150
Bridget Sloan does a nice routine, hop on the dismount. 15.750 (where'd that come from... and holy cow, could we possibly use her for Beijing if she hits like that?)

Beam -

Corrie Lothrop hits a solid routine for a 14.600.
Jana Bieger scores a 14.950 with a decent routine.
Katelyn Mohr also does a decent routine... but she doesn't have much difficulty in there. 14.150

Floor -

Shawn Johnson hits a good, clean routine for a 16.050. Just a small step on her full-in.
Randy Stageberg has a few steps out of her passes, scores a 14.600.
Britney Ranzy actually does a nice, clean routine for 14.600. Again, lacking in the difficulty department.
Saint Nastia was a bit off... stepped out of her first pass, fell OOB on her double front, and stepped out of her 2 1/2 lay... and still managed a 14.250. Only on American soil, my friends...


Vault -

Britney Ranzy's first vault was a DTY. Small step. Second vault was a Podkopayeva, had a small hop. 15.050.
Saint Nastia Liukin does a Yurchenko 1 1/2 and sticks it. Praise the Lord! 14.900
Shawn Johnson does a Yurchenko 2 1/2 and has a step. Gets a 16.000

Bars -

Kimberly Jacob doesn't start in the best of ways - she falls on her jaeger. Other than that, she had a step on her dismount. 12.850. Ouch.
MacKenzie Caquatto does a good routine, just a step on her full-in dismount. 14.400
Chellsie Memmel does a great routine complete with a stuck double-front dismount. 16.000. Yay, she's back!
Ivana Hong also does a good routine, and she stuck her dismount as well. 14.950.

Beam -

Alicia Sacramone hits a good routine. Small step on her double-pike dismount. 15.700
Bridget Sloan also does a decent routine. Step on her double-pike dismount. 15.200
Samantha Peszek nails her standing back-full to back pike... which is quite possibly one of my favorite skills that anyone out there right now can do. Also steps her double-pike.

Floor -

Jana Bieger goes OOB on her first pass, a double layout full. She hits the rest of her passes for a 15.050.
Mattie Larson has a great routine, including a stuck double-pike. 15.450.
Corrie Lothrop has a good routine as well. She needs a bit more difficulty if she wants to be competitive, though. 14.650.

Expect Rotations 3-4 tomorrow morning. :)

US Women's Nationals Begin Today

The 2008 Visa Championships begin today. The junior women start at 1pm, and the seniors take the floor at 7pm. It looks like everyone who has some sort of name in gymnastics is there. Chellsie is back, Nastia, Shawn, Shayla... and Jana is back as well. Media day was yesterday, and there's a bunch of pictures on USAG's website.

Can't wait! It should be an interesting nationals, especially considering what's at stake. Remember, nationals counts as 20% towards the Olympic team selection.

You can find the main page for nationals HERE

Expect results posted tonight, for juniors at least.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New Layout is Up!

In honor of this month's Olympic Trials (which I happen to be going to! *dies*) and such, I thought I'd make a banner and a layout to support it. Let me know if you have any problems with it, and let me know what you think!