Monday, August 20, 2012

The 1960 Olympics and My Hipster Tastes in Gymnastics

I, Uncle Tim, have the cojones to admit that I was addicted to NBC's coverage of the Olympic Games.

I woke up at the butt crack of dawn to watch the games. I occasionally obsessively glanced at my NBC feed when I should have been working. I scheduled my meals around primetime coverage. I lost sleep thinking about the competitions. I forgot how to deal with folk outside the gymternet.

According to, I was an addict.

I highly recommend using the internet to self-diagnose all your problems.

And since there isn't an expensive, ritzy Olympics Rehab Center filled with the members of the gymternet, I had to kick the addiction on my own. Unfortunately, I ended up substituting NBC's non-stop coverage with something else.

I'm kind of ashamed to admit what that "something else" is... It isn't Dance Moms. It isn't Honey Boo Boo Child. It isn't reruns of Make It or Break It. It's something much more obvious...

It's YouTube and its cache of videos from past Olympics. Yup, I gave up London 2012, only to find myself in Melbourne, Rome, Tokyo, and Mexico City.

Believe it or not, it ain't easy looking for really mid-century footage of the Olympics on YouTube, so...

Members of the Gymternet, I'm asking for your help. Please feed my latest addiction by uploading more videos. xx, Uncle Tim

For now, I'm content wiggin' out over the 1960 Olympics. I must admit that the Games in Rome were pretty bitchin'.

Can you guess why?

Albert Azaryan

Abie Grossfeld

Yuri Titov

Vladimir Portnoy

Miroslav Cerar

Any guesses?

No, it's not because there was a 5-way tie for gold, and all 5 men received a gold medal. (As Samuel L. Jackson would say, "Phuck the tiebreakers!") In fact, none of these men medalled on high bar in Rome.

No, it's not because puke green is my favorite color. (I wasn't alive in 1960, so I have to ask: Did the TV really make gymnasts look like aliens back in the day?)

No, it's not because Albert Azaryan has this photo on Wikipedia. Great guess, though.
I'm going to use this as my LinkedIn profile picture. Do you think anyone will hire me?
No, it's not because Yuri Titov flaps his arms like a birdy while he performs his hecht dismount.
Though, watching his dismount does bring a lot of my joy into my life.

Give up?

It's because...

5 gymnasts did 5 different dismounts.

Granted, none of these dismounts is considered difficult by today's standards. (The hardest is a double back, which is a B.) Nonetheless, I like knowing that there was a time when gymnasts performed a variety of dismounts.

In London, all 8 high bar finalists performed the same dismount: a double-twisting double layout.
Let's count them together...

Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed the high bar final immensely. When I saw Zonderland do a Cassina into a Kovacs into a Kolman, I wanted to give him a big Sam Mikulak hug.
But I have to admit that a little part of me cringed every time I heard Shannon Miller say, "And he dismounts with a double-double."

What stings the most is the fact that I used to love double-twisting double-layouts. They were my favorite...

until everyone started performing them.

That says a lot about me, doesn't it? I like dismounts until they become mainstream. To put it differently...
I, Uncle Tim, the man with a symmetrical haircut...
I, Uncle Tim, the only guy in San Francisco who doesn't own a pair of skinny jeans, a cardigan, or a bicycle...
I, Uncle Tim, the fellow who abhors the taste of PBR and listens to pop music...
I, Uncle Tim, have hipster tastes in gymnastics.

Ironic hipster leos--Just what the world needs.

I never thought I'd say that, but it's true. I like all things innovative and unusual in gymnastics. I get bored watching double-twisting double layout after double-twisting double layout. I get bored watching double pikes off parallel bars. Bring on the triple backs off high bar! Bring on the double fronts off parallel bars!

If you agree with me, crack open a PBR, and say it with me:

"To a new quad full of innovation! Cheers, my fellow gymnastics hipsters!"


  1. I'm with you all the way--bring on the innovation, bring on the variety, and chuck out the skinny jeans (although I don't mind a PBR if the bar is all out of cat piss).

    But how do we make this happen? How can FIG incentivize unique skills? Basically they have to make the bad-ass, uncommon tricks worth more. And they try to sometimes. I heard Steve Butcher, a member of the FIG technical commitee, speak at National Congress, and he did say that one of their priorities when making changes to the code is to de-value over used skills and reward crowd-pleasing unique ones. Specifically, they are making flares into and out of handstands on pommel horse worth a lot, thank god. That'll get the men to spread their legs!

    But that's about it in terms of rewarding variety in the new code. That layout double-double is here to stay, because, let's face it, triple backs are scary and front-flipping dismounts are a little bit retarded. Sorry John Roethlisberger.
    -Coach Dan

    1. Haha, Coach Dan, you have a good sense of humor. I like you.

      Anyway, you raise an important point: How do you encourage gymnasts to do unusual skills? From an senior elite perspective, downgrading certain elements makes sense, but it sucks if you're a junior or lower.

      Imagine that we downgrade the double-twisting double layout to a D. That means that a full-twisting double becomes a C. A double layout becomes a B, which makes a double tuck an A. How fair is that to young gymnast?

      Now, take into account the fact that a front walkover is an A on floor. I don't know about you, but I learned to do a front walkover long before I learned a double tuck flyaway. And I'm pretty sure that I could still do a front walkover on the sidewalk. Don't know if I would chuck a double back flyaway even into a pit. (I don't feel too bad about that. Natalia Kalinina won't do one either, and she was a beast back in the day!)

      One solution would be to create an insane spectrum of skills. Say, A through K, but who would be able to remember all those letters? I'm not saying that judges are dumb, but I'd imagine that there would be a few errors... every now and then...

      I'll have to give it some thought. Right now, I don't have a solution. If I did, I would nominate myself for FIG president. :) That would be a disaster of epic proportions, but at least everyone would have a good time!

  2. I couldn't agree with you more! When I saw Marcel do a full twisting double back of PB in the finals, I was like "ABOUT TIME!!!" In my eyes, he should have won gold for that skill alone just because I'm SO sick of double pikes of PB.

  3. Oh god you're from San Fran too yet I've still never met anyone irl who is into gymnastics my entire life ._.

    And I don't own a bicycle or that other stuff either but that's not important!

    When I saw Jon bring the double double I was hoping he'd bring back the triple he did in Beijing, seeing as his routine even though it's changed throughout the quad was just about the same in construction as it was in Beijing! I could only hope, though.

    A bit to the full twisting double off PB, the only other times other than when it was named I can remember was a Brazilian gymnast in 2003 Worlds (first name escapes me but it's at 1:37 in this video: and Daisuke Nakano in the 2004 Olympic final: ( But the biggest reason I remember them was because I saw both in person (:P). No one since has done it that I can remember apart from Nguyen though (who also at one point had a triple double on FX before he broke his leg).

    If I recall correctly the jam-full to Yamawaki is at least getting devalued...I have no idea what the official name for the first move is called. I'm sure (or hope) there are more overused and other code whore things particularly on HB and FX (that hasn't been taken away already) that are getting nerfed too, so thank goodness!

  4. About that full twisting double back off PB, don't forget about Akash Modi, an American junior from New Jersey. He's got the nicest one I've ever seen. Although Pac Rims is a long way off from the Olympic Finals!
    -Coach Dan

  5. How are you people forgetting about John Orozco's full-twisting double back off Pbars??? Hello! He was 16 when he pulled that thing out!
    Come on guys!
    ~ Coach Alicia ^_^

    1. I didn't forget about John's. Besides Marcel, his was the only other one I've ever seen. Wish he still did it! :)