Monday, April 23, 2012

contortions, convolutions and miscalculations: fun with gymnastics

reason for absence: view-monia.
live-blogging the washington state gymnastics finals, 2012

we're here at glacier peak high school, home of the grizzlies...and the best cafeteria view i've ever seen.

seriously, these kids have a 30-foot high wall-of-windows view, across a wide verdant valley, of the north cascades mountains. it's ridiculous. if i were teaching here, i'd hold every class in the cafeteria. if i were a student...well, i'd be arrested for impersonating a student. but if i were a student, i'd be late for every class, staring out at this ridiculous view.

we're not in the cafeteria, however, we're in the gym. it's hot in here. unlike every other metro seattle gymnastics meet ever, where you can't wear enough layers to stay warm through three hours of sitting, shifting, sitting some more...suddenly it's uncomfortably warm.

i'm not complaining.

the falcons from seattle pacific university, decked out in their usual purple and lighter purple and silver sparkles, are ready for this meet. they're peaking at the right time, competition-wise, in that they're here and there's a meet going on.

after march-in, in which the gymnasts, um, march into the gym, the host and announcer usually says, "and now everyone please rise for the national anthem." i was literally shifting into a nonsitting position in anticipation of the ritual, when the guy said, "okay, we did the national anthem earlier today, so we're going to get right to the events. gymnasts, let's move out."

i feel strangely unsatisfied and anxious now. apparently i'm a creature of habit.

the first event for the falcons is the vault. in this instance, the vault is a quick run down a blue bowling alley lane, launching off a springboard into a handstand, followed by a flop onto a four-foot-high cushion. it looks like it would be a great place for a nap, if it weren't for the constant stream of gymnasts flying around and raising a ruckus.

avery is good at this flopping. this year she's put up a string of 9+ scores in this event, setting a high standard for springboard flopping. the score is based on the average of two running flopping attempts. our girl ran fast, flopped expertly, and came away with a 9.025.

"great flopping, AG!" her mom and i didn't really yell. it's best not to distract her with that kind of unnecessary embarrassment.

in between events, there's a lot of waiting. this is particularly true at gyms that have no heat in winter and no AC on freakishly warm spring days.

we're sitting, we're sitting, we're waiting. we're sweating...and not with nervousness. must. not. doze...

holy moly, it's time for the bars. i must've dozed. avery's up! get the video rolling! focus! she's launching!

this seems like an opportune time to note that "bars" is a bit of a misnomer here. yes, technically they're competing on the uneven parallel bar apparatus, but at no time do they actually touch the upper bar. it's all-low-bar all the time for the level 4 gymnasts. which is just as well. avery is neither confident nor proficient in this event. every meet, there's some disastrous error/miscalculation/equipment failure that keeps her off the medal stand.

she over-rotates, she under-rotates, she forgets to stick the landing. this despite my excellent, season-long imitation of olympic announcers who thrill tv audiences with, "she sticks the landing!" whenever a gymnast does, in fact, stick the landing.

back to the bars. she's doing pretty well. she's neither under- nor over-rotating. she's yet to hang upside down when she should be right-side-up. all that's left is the landing...

she didn't stick the landing. she did, in fact, fall on her butt. there's gonna be a deduction for that, i'm pretty sure. and the scoreboard says...8.575. that's gonna keep her off the medal stand. barring huge, breakthrough scores on beam and floor.

where there are more events, there is hope.

nothing's happening now. the falcons have moved over to the vicinity of the beam, so we can only assume their next event is beam-related. it just wouldn't make sense to have them warm up on beam if their next event was floor. so, the team moved moved from a seated position under the washington state championships banner to the doors near the beam. then they moved to the wall next to the beam, and resumed sitting. nothing's happening.

we sit. we shift. we note, once again, that it's warm in here.

now seems like a good time to get up and leave the gym. hit the restroom. take some iphone photos of the ridiculous cafeteria view. stand by...

...and we're back. turns out, i missed the event. the falcons had, in fact, warmed up while i wasn't looking. no, i wasn't dozing. so almost immediately after i left, the team raced through their beam routines. i caught the very last one, and it wasn't avery. according to the missus, she wobbled like a weeble but did not fall off. this was not good enough for a breakthrough score. she received an 8.75.

perhaps there's a 10.0 on floor in our future. that might get her on the stand. probably not. we wait. no, i'm not leaving the gym.


it was a solid floor routine, but not a ten. the girl's final score on the final event of the year was a respectable 8.75.

and on the final tumbling pass, with the compulsory back handspring...

she stuck the landing.

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