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Greetings, friends--time is short and I can't make a full post yet, but this gem cannot wait:

I have yet to find a pic of this leo from yesterday, but really, the actual cuffs on the sleeves complete this crazy tuxedo motif.  Tina Erceg of Croatia,  we salute you. At least you didn't cut half of it off like Adela Sajn (who sadly is not competing and does not have a whacky leo to show us this year).

PS, read Inside Gym's take on it at the daily 9: http://www.insidegymnastics.com/content/show/09WorldChamps.aspx?articleid=651&zoneid=54

2009 Worlds Podium Training

So who else is excited about Worlds? I very much miss living in London right now. Even with so many of my favorite competitors out, I would be there, no doubt.

I've read some of the podium training notes on IG and things seem to be looking good, despite losing Hambuechen on the men's side. I am so unhappy that they aren't streaming video of Qualifications! I'm attending a conference this weekend and won't be able to watch the live stream of the AA or EF. Such a drag--I hope they put up the replay soon. In the meantime, I'll channel my excitement into leotard blogging.

Pretty Leos
I don't usually enjoy sleeveless leotards, but I understand that during Podium, they give you a better opportunity to visualize the shoulders. I hope some of these have long sleeved varieties, though.

1. Aussie ladies at the Beckham training center. Simple, traditional--anybody know why the Aussies have stuck to purple for so long, when their colors are green and gold?

2. Anna Myzdrikova, Russia--the emblem in the middle of the chest detracts from the design, but otherwise this is a simple, elegant leo--and proof that you don't need to be standing next to an exploding rhinestone applicator to look nice.

3. Becky Downie, Great Britain. As far as flag designs go, this one is significantly better than the atrocity of the US flag leos.

4. Elsa Garcia, Mexico. Welcome back, Elsa! There's a lot going on, but its not at all bad for podium.

5. Ksenia Semenova, Russia. Beautiful coordination, attractive embellishments, appropriately patriotic for an international event. I wish the US could steal some of Russia's gorgeous red, white and blues.

6. Fieke Willems, Netherlands. This leo seems popular; I've seen it on a lot of gymnasts in a lot of different color combonations. Like Ksenny's, it hits the right notes.

7. Miki Uemura, Japan. Japan, like the US a few other countries, recycled their old leos for the competition. But this leo was so popular at the Olympics, it would be a shame to leave it off the list.

8. Ivana Hong, USA. The whole USA WAG team wore this 07 Worlds repeat (where Ivana was a member of the team and Bridget was an alternate). They won gold in team finals that year, Shawn Johnson took the All Around, and at least one USA woman was on the podium for every apparatus in event finals. Maybe they're hoping for this leo to bring them some good luck for this competition, the first big World Championships since 2007.

Ugly Leos
1. Ana Porgras, Romania. I don't understand Romania's leotard selection. How are their leos desgned? Do they throw paint on them and see what sticks? Do they fold them in half and cut them with scissors like they were making paper dolls? And is Romania simply so cold they need a little extra coverage along the collar?

2. Anamaria Tamarjin, Romania.  Or do they design them using leftover scraps of construction paper? Yet another recycled leo... this one should be retired.

3. Bruna Leal, Brazil. Brazil has a sense of humor about their leos. They are obsessed with symmetry. Unfortunately, this often means we are treated to two sides of an ugly leo.

4. Deng Linlin, China. The Chinese leo designers love those keyholes at the neck. Can we be done with crushed velvet yet? Or at least burnt ORANGE crushed velvet?

5. Jennifer Senn, Switzerland. I'm going blind from Shiny, the deep v-neck is unflattering, and the design is far too busy. Because it wasn't ugly enough, they stuck a giant Swiss patch on the center of the chest.

6. Pauline Morel, France. I take back what I said about the last leo, this one is so shiny it may be reflecting sunlight back into space. And the red ribbon is outlined in blue. Ew.

7. Sui Lu, China. More orange velvet from the Chinese National Team, plus a weird yellow band on the side. Oh well, at least their gymnastics are good.

Polls are not working correctly--please vote in the comments. (You can do it anonymously, no need to sign up for an LJ account.)

Poll for 2009 US Nationals leos

Poll #1466548 2009 Nationals leos

Who had the prettiest leo?

Alaina Johnson, Day 1
Bridget Sloan, Day 2
Brooke Parker, Day 1
Brooke Parker, Day 2
Cassie Whitcomb, Day 1
Chellsie Memmel, Day 1
Chellsie Memmel, Day 2
Kaitlyn Clark, Day 1
Kytra Hunter, Day 1
Nastia Liukin, Day 1
Rebecca Bross and Ivana Hong, Day 2
Samantha Peszek, Day 1

Who had the ugliest leo?

Georgia Dabritz, Day 2
Kim Jacob, Day 1
Kim Jacob, Day 2
Macko, Day 1
Rebecca Clark, Day 1
Rebecca Clark, Day 2

Split decision! Alaina Johnson Day 2

Pretty ugly

Split decision! Jana Bieger Day 1

Pretty ugly

Split Decision! Kaitlyn Clark Day 2

Pretty ugly

Split decision! Kayla Williams Day 2

Pretty ugly

Split decision! Kytra Hunter Day 2

Pretty ugly

Split decision! Macko Day 2

Pretty ugly
The Karolyi Camps have come and gone and now the World Team has been selected--now that Worlds is finally coming close, I have the motivation to check out Nationals pictures again. Congrats to Bridget, Becca, Ivana and Kayla!

Since I raved about Nationals in my last post, I'll go straight to leos today, featuring:

1. Alaina Johnson (Texas East) Day 1

2. Bridget Sloan (Sharp's) Day 2

3. Brooke Parker (Capital GNTC) Day 1

4. Brooke Parker (Capital GNTC)  Day 2

5. Cassie Whitcomb (Cincinatti) Day 1

6. Chellsie Memmel (M&M) Day 1

7. Chellsie Memmel (M&M) Day 2

8. Kaitlyn Clark (Precision) Day 1

9. Kytra Hunter (Hill's) Day 1

10. Nastia Liukin (WOGA) Day 1

11. Rebecca Bross (WOGA) Day 2

12. Samantha Peszek (Sharp's) Day 1

1. Georgia Dabritz (Ace) Day 2

2. Kim Jacob (Superior) Day 1

3. Kim Jacob (Superior) Day 2

4. Mackenzie Caquatto (Naperville) Day 1

5. Rebecca Clark (GAGE) Day 1

6. Rebecca Clark (GAGE) Day 2

1. Alaina Johnson (Texas East) Day 2 (okay, so I love this one, but it may just be a Texan thing.)

2. Jana Bieger (Bieger) Day 1

3. Kaitlyn Clark (Precision) Day 2

4. Kayla Williams (GymNest)  Day 2

5. Kytra Hunter (Hill's) Day 2

6. Mackenzie Caquatto (Naperville) Day 2

There were some hair trends, too--I present you with:

Braids. Nina Kim braided Nastia's hair for Nationals, and Sam apparently tried braiding her hair to make it shorter--Alicia said it didn't work!

Messy buns. With Alicia Sacramone retired, the sloppy variation of the tight and tidy bun returned to new heads. But really, no one can pull of the messy bun like Bridget.

The bang pouf. Your matching Beijing squad reunites!

Pictures are courtesy of gettyimages, presswire, USAG, RWSphotography, and me.
Anybody know what happens when you drop your laptop? You might kill your hard drive. You may also lose all the pictures you've been collecting for your blog. Whoops.

Temporary setbacks in leotard blogging aside, I was able to take some snaps at the US Championships last month, which I will post soon. This is the best leotard you never saw on TV (Alaina Johnson):

Or it may just be that Texas pride that I will never be able to stamp out entirely, no matter how hard I try.

I was a big fan of Sharp's leos too; Sloan and Peszek reminded me of wild lionesses. Rather fitting for Bridget on Day 2.

This was the first gymnastics competition I had ever been to. I swear, Nastia is made of rubber bands and springs.

I was happy to learn that watching gymnastics in person totally lives up to the hype. My daughter came to one of the sessions with me and was completely mesmerized. This is a 2 year old who can identify Liukin by picture, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Nationals recap post coming soon.

No leotards today, but I am terribly amused and have to use this blog as a mouthpiece:

I am in the process of adopting a golden retriever through a rescue called Gold Ribbon Rescue. I was searching through the recently adopted companions when I found a dog named Nastia. Naturally, I clicked, and found this. it's cute, have a look.


I posted a link to it on the USA Gymnastics fan page on facebook and to the human Nastia. Inside Gymnastics picked it up and posted it on Twitter. Now it's gone around a few of the blogs in the gymosphere.

Nastia, I salute you. And your human counterpart.

Sydney All-Around

I wasn't intending to use this blog for this purpose, but I might as well. I've been thinking about what some of my favorite competitions are to watch. I watched the Sydney women's all around recently,, and it is definitely the craziest competition I've ever seen.

There is so much to say about the Sydney All Around. The entire gymnastics competition was affected by a series of scandals and unexpected events. To begin with, two of the Americans (Elise Ray and Kristin Maloney) were hurt in the prelims, but felt well enough to compete. Then, Yelena Prudonova of Russia had to drop out due to injuries, opening the door for Elena Zamolodchikova, a popular and experienced Russian gymnast. If that were the least of the factors influencing the All Around, it wouldn't have been nearly so interesting.

Controversy #1: The vault was set wrong--five centimeters too low, a huge margin in gymnastics. Without getting your hands in the exact right place on the horse, you can't get the height you need, or in the case of US gymnast Elise Ray, you may miss the horse entirely. Ray crashed in her warm-up vault with a terrifying fall, landing on her neck. It probably didn't help her mindset that two years before, at a competition Ray competed in, a Chinese gymnast became paralyzed after falling on a timing vault. Ray subsequently crashed her first vault, and despite a great uneven bars performance after the rotation, was shaken enough to fall on her usually fantastic beam routine. Svetlana Khorkina, who was projected to win the whole thing, also fell on her knees during the warm up and during her first vault. Knowing that the score would completely knock her out of the competition, she stood up and walked back to the runway in tears, and then stuck her next vault cold. Unfortunately, she fell on her trademark uneven bars in the next rotation. The error wasn't discovered and corrected until the start of the third rotation--the same rotation where both Ray and Khorkina fell--and the gymnasts weren't informed until the competition was nearly over. All of the gymnasts who vaulted in the first and second rotations were told that they could go again, but it was too late for Khorkina and Ray to overcome their subsequent falls. Khorkina didn't even bother re-doing her vault and finished 10th, with two falls. Amazing.

Controversy #2: The equipment sucked. All week gymansts had been complaining that the floor was too hard, and the proof was in the routines. Many of the gymnasts had trouble rebounding and controlling their tumbling--it seemed like every other gymnast stepped (or fell) out of bounds. The beam, it seemed, may have had some issues as well, since gymnasts were sliding off of it like it was coated in oil.

Controversy #3: After Khorkina's fall, two other gymnasts were poised to win: Zamo fell out of bounds on floor on an otherwise great routine, blowing her opportunity. Then, Viktoria Karpenko was in position to win the third All-Around Olympic gold in a row for Ukraine  when she tripped and fell out of bounds.

Controversy #4: Romania swept the All-Around, winning each of the medals. Then, because the competition wasn't dramatic enough with all the upsets, the eventual winner Adreea Raducan is stripped of her gold medal after testing positive for pseudoephedrine--a non-performance enhancing, yet still banned, substance found in a cold medication the team doctor gave her. It has been speculated that the substance only turned up because Raducan weighed a slight 76 pounds; other members of the team had also taken it and didn't have it turn up on their pee tests. It didn't even turn up on another drug test that Raducan took during the event finals after taking the same dosage she had before. To add insult to the situation, pseudoephedrine was removed from the banned substances list shortly after the Games. Raducan took the issue to court to get her gold medal win reinstated, but the court refused to overturn the ruling, and the decision could not be appealed. In the end, the initial silver medalist Amanar returned Raducan's gold to her, and bronze medalist Olaru gave Amanar back her silver. The fourth place Chinese gymnast was awarded the bronze, leaving Olaru without a medal.

Controversy #5: Eight years later, the FIG decides to look into the ages of two Chinese gymnasts, Dong Fangxio and Yang Yun. (hmm... I wonder why they were digging that stuff up after Beijing?). Both gymnasts claimed to be of age, and then mentioned in the Chinese media years later that they were 14 at the time. Oops. One of them worked as a correspondent for Beijing and submitted credentials that indicated she actually was 14 in Beijing. Neither won a medal in the AA, but holy hell, Sydney was just a hot mess.

If nothing else, this competition had some amazing routines--check out the floor routines by Yang, Khorkina, Raducan, Ray, and surprise hometown success Lisa Skinner, as well as Ray's bars. Better yet, just watch the whole thing. Oh, if only Vanessa Atler were in this competition.

Part 1 of 12 parts (the rest can be found from the same user):

To keep this vaguely leotard related, this entry gives me an opportunity to showcase one of my favorite categories: Russia's leos in Sydney, modeled by Khorky:.

Russia's qualifications leo

Russia's team final leo

Khorkina's AA leo

Poll #1423968 Khorkina's Pretty Leos in Sydney

Which is the prettiest leo?

Team Finals
All Around

Worst of Greta Rauer's creepy cuts

Via GymNiceTic (gymnicetic.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/leotards-always-a-question-of-taste/#comments):

Germany's Greta Rauer!

1) 2005: Not so bad, I never had a problem with the sweetheart necklines--but the embellished collar helps this leo make the list.

2. 2005: Checklist of offending features: a collar, cuffs, too much mesh, and an early 90's flower design.

2007: Adela called, she wants her leo back. Beautiful color, pretty design, hope that leo is too tight to slip out of place.

2008: A slightly modified version of the sweetheart above, but with a worse neckline.

2008: Greta forgets half her leo at home. Grr.

Poll #1415871 Greta Rauer

Which is Greta's worst leo?

the sweetheart
blue velvet
red flowers
bustline madness

Pics are courtesy of www.gymfan.de. and gymkaktus.

Couch Gymnast Does Japan

Check out The Couch Gymnast right now over at Blogger--go vote on Japan's prettiest leotards.

I don't want to repost the pictures here, since she undoubtedly spent a lot of time collecting them, but I will say they are certainly interesting. Japan has a style all its own.


ETA, she has also added a Worst Leo heat for Ukraine. Ukraine has a split personality. I adore some of their leos, but some of them... well, her post says it all.


Prettiest Reds

Today's focus is on red leotards--one of my favorite colors on the blue carpet. Red stands out, inspires confidence and makes a statement. So without further ado, here are some gorgeous red leos. I'll let them speak for themselves.

1. Alicia Sacramone (USA), 2003 US Nationals in Milwaukee

2. Cheng Fei (CHN), 2004 Olympics in Athens

3. Courtney Kupets (USA), 2004 Olympics in Athens

4. Alicia Sacramone (USA), 2005 US Nationals in Indianapolis

5. Imogen Cairns (GBR)  2005 World Championships in Melbourne

6. Samantha Peszek (USA), 2006 USA Nationals in St. Paul

7. Dasha Joura (AUS), 2007 DTB Cup in Stuttgart

8. Chellsie Memmel (USA), 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart

9. Sam Peszek (USA), 2008 USA Nationals

10. Shawn Johnson (USA), 2008 Olympics in Beijing

11. Beth Tweddle (GBR), 2008 Olympics in Beijing

12. Cheng Fei (CHN), 2008 DTB Cup

Poll #1398771 Prettiest Reds

Which is the prettiest red leotard?

Sacramone (USA) 2003 US Nationals
Cheng (CHN) 2004 Olympics
Kupets (USA) 2004 Olympics
Sacramone (USA) 2005 US Nationals
Cairns (GBR) 2005 Worlds
Peszek (USA) 2006 US Nationals
Joura (AUS) 2007 DTB
Memmel (USA) 2007 Worlds
Peszek (USA) 2008 US Nationals
Johnson (USA) 2008 Olympics
Tweddle (GBR) 2008 Olympics
Cheng (CHN) 2008 DTB

Adela Sajn: The Best and Worst

I admit that I am confused by Slovenian gymnast Adela Sajn's choices in leotards, which range from downright beautiful to tasteless and tacky (earning her nicknames such as "the patron saint of the hideous leotard" and "Queen Harbinger of Whackerdoo Leotard Choices" from couch-gymnast.blogspot.com/). I know the reputation of my countrymen as prudish Americans, and living in Europe for several years quelled any sense of shock I might feel at seeing exposed skin, but still... in international competitions? Really? So, without further ado, Adela, this is a two-part tribute to you--and please don't kill me, because if I can gauge anything by your gym death stare, you're capable.

Pretty Leos

1. I have to appreciate this lovely blue leotard. Granted, we can only see part of it, but I assume the bottom isn't made out of mesh or covered in strategically placed crystals.

2. Another pretty blue leotard, quite understated.

3. Yet another blue leo. Attractive color pairing, nice design, no freaky collars. Sure it's sleeveless, which I don't usually care for, but overall, it's just a nice, elegant leo.

4. Here, Adela breaks from the Slovenian white and blue, opting for red, the other national color. Once again, this leotard is simple, elegant, and pretty.

Ugly Leotards
1. Allow me to ease you in gently. There are worse leotards in the word, but the combination of polka dots (or is that leo just covered in sequins from top to bottom?), a high, busy collar, and the weirdest implication of cleavage I've ever seen puts this one on the list.

2. I had to leave this one at full size so that you can truly appreciate it. At first glance, this one isn't too bad--it could pass for attractive, even. Nice color, simple design, attractive embellishments. But on closer inspection, there are a few too many things to overlook--for example, the sheer material paired with a revealing cut. Her bra is showing through at the shoulders, and her breast is attempting to escape. The nail in the coffin is the pattern: faux snakeskin. Shudder.

3. Weird pattern and creepy cutouts in the shoulders, chest, armpits, and sides. At least the censors won't be on call.

4. Not so with this one. Where to start. Unfortunate color combination in the details, weird pattern, and oh yeah, her bra is hanging out (check out picture number two, which I added to present you with the full effect--holy moly). At least she color coordinated it. Isn't it an FIG point deduction to have an undergarment showing?

5. Well, at least the mesh part was lined this time (I hope). I might actually like this one if the cut didn't go all the way down to her pelvis and if it was lined with something like a mystique fabric (like the US Hott leotard). The collar would have to go.

6. This one pretty much speaks for itself. I like to call this one "The Tonya Harding".

Poll #1398075 Adela Sajn

Which is Adela's prettiest leotard?

Blue crystals
Blue with white top
Blue sleeveless
Red and black

Which is Adela's worst leotard?

Fake cleavage
Creepy cutaway
Victoria's Secret model
The White Wonder
The Tonya

Until next time.