The holiday season is in full swing, and IG Editor Dwight Normile has compiled a wish list for the gymnastics world. He's just not sure if anything he's requesting can be gift-wrapped.
Kohei Uchimura: Continued health. His style and technique at the 2009 World Championships renewed my faith that beautiful gymnastics can exist under this Code of Points. Now, if the judges will only reward him properly.
Bridget Sloan: The respect she deserves. It's difficult to replace the likes of Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson as the new face of women's gymnastics. But Sloan, who never won a U.S. junior title, is just now coming into her own and is extremely balanced across all four events.
Rebecca Bross: A short memory. The world all-around runner-up has plenty of time -- and talent -- to redeem herself.
Jonathan Horton: An even shorter memory. I hope his London debacle somehow fuels his motivation like never before.
Maxim Devyatovsky: Nothing. He just won the Champions Trophy, which came with a brand new Mercedes, for crying out loud. With a history of quitting, he's a much different gymnast when something tangible (and expensive) is at stake.
Fabian Hambüchen: A patch of good fortune. After struggling at the 2008 Olympics, he missed the 2009 World Championships because of an untimely ankle injury. The ankle forced him to miss the third of four legs of the Champions Trophy (he won the first two), and he ended up one point behind Devyatovsky after the final stage.
Yin Alvarez: His own reality show. His unbridled enthusiasm has the potential to draw widespread interest to men's gymnastics, whose athletes are among the toughest in the world but rarely get the respect they deserve among the general public. "Gym With Yin"?
Jordyn Wieber: Perfect health. I'd like to see what Wieber, the last gymnast to beat Bridget Sloan (2009 American Cup), could do at the 2010 Youth Olympics in August.
Koko Tsurumi: An extra twist in her vault. The 0.80 she conceded on vault (Yurchenko-full) to all-around world champion Bridget Sloan (and runner-up Rebecca Bross) would have made the difference between third place and becoming the first Japanese woman to win the world all-around title. Still, the bronze was a good start for this amazing gymnast.
Ana Porgras: Same as Tsurumi's gift. The slight Romanian was the second highest all-around qualifier at the worlds in London, 0.10 behind Rebecca Bross. With a stronger vault, she will become a much more serious all-around medal contender.
Nicolae Forminte: A healthy Sandra Izbasa. The Romanian women's coach showed up in London with an inexperienced squad, having lost Izbasa, the Olympic floor champion, to an Achilles' tendon injury.
Lauren Mitchell: Better bars. The talented Aussie, who placed fourth all-around in London, is one event away from surpassing compatriot Monette Russo's world all-around bronze in 2005. By the way, Mitchell, Tsurumi and Bross were the only women to win more than one medal in London. They each won two.
FIG Men's Technical Committee: New vault values. Decrease the value of every men's vault to help bring the final scores in line with the other events. Subtracting about 0.50 per vault should do the trick.
FIG Women's Technical Committee: E-scores in the 9.0s again. A good rule of thumb: "If it doesn't detract from the artistry, it shouldn't draw a deduction." Personally, it doesn't bother me if a pirouette is completed more than 10 degrees past vertical, as long as it doesn't interrupt the flow of the routine. A better evaluation tool might be to reward gymnasts who happen to finish a pirouette at vertical. But don't deduct. (That goes for the men, too.)
IG Readers: Satisfaction. Here's hoping all of you get what you want within the pages of IG in 2010.
As usual, I'd like to read your own gift suggestions below...