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Written by Amanda Turner    Saturday, 04 January 2014 17:34    PDF Print
Progressive Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular Airs Sunday
(9 votes, average 4.11 out of 5)

Gymnastics and figure skating — the most-watched sports in the Summer and Winter Olympics respectively — collide with live musical guests in Sunday's broadcast of the Progressive Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular, which airs 1 to 3 p.m. EST on NBC.

Nastia Liukin performing at the Progressive Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular

Olympic gymnastics champions Nastia Liukin, Catalina Ponor and Jordyn Wieber headline the gymnastics group, along with U.S. men's stars John Orozco, Steven Legendre, Brandon Wynn and Paul Ruggeri.

The annual show featured a special double performance from British superstar Beth Tweddle, a three-time Olympian. Tweddle, who won the 2013 edition of Dancing on Ice with partner Daniel Whiston, skated with Whiston and performed gymnastics during the show. The three-time world champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist laced up her skates and tumbled despite a torn calf muscle. She is training to try to defend her title in the 2014 Stars on Ice, the popular British reality competition show. Tweddle, who announced her retirement from gymnastics this past summer, will partner with pro Lukasz Rozycki for the upcoming season.

Live musical guests are reigning American Idol champion Candice Glover, plus Disney stars Coco Jones and Lucas Grabeel.

The ice skating lineup features U.S. men's national champions Max Aaron (2013), Ryan Bradley (2011) and 2013 U.S. pairs champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, along with Canadian favorites Elvis StojkoJoannie Rochette and Kurt Browning.

Event hosts are Olympic champions Nadia Comaneci, Kristi Yamaguchi and Bart Conner, along with three-time U.S. champion Michael Weiss. Weiss' father, Greg Weiss, was a member of the U.S. gymnastics team at the 1964 Olympic Games in Rome.

Sunday's broadcast coincides with the beginning of the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston, which also serve as the U.S. trials to the upcoming Olympics. The XXII Olympic Winter Games take place Feb. 6-23 in Sochi, Russia.

The Russian-born Liukin, who is now a student at New York University, will serve as a cultural correspondent for NBC in Sochi.

Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 28 December 2013 18:52    PDF Print
Finland's Kirmes Eager For New Starts in 2014
(7 votes, average 4.71 out of 5)

IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with Icelandic-born Oskar Kirmes, who switched from Swedish to Finnish citizenship this spring. Pictured: Kirmes poses at his gym, Espoon Telinetaiturit, in Finland.

IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with Icelandic-born Oskar Kirmes, who switched from Swedish to Finnish citizenship this spring and earned the Scandinavian men's top all-around ranking at this fall's world championships.

The son of former gymnasts from Estonia and Sweden, Kirmes told IG he is ready for new competitive challenges while representing his adopted country in the new year.

"My goals are to make it to the European championships and world championships and do great there," Kirmes said. "They are both team competitions so I really hope we can do great. Of course, another goal is to make the all-around final at worlds. But I need to work really hard to get stronger, get higher Difficulty-scores and perform clean routines."

Kirmes at 2013 Worlds (Photo: Milla Vahtila)

After injuring his knee early in the year, Kirmes gained momentum – and Finnish citizenship. He represented Sweden through the European championships in Moscow in April, and secured the right to compete for Finland immediately afterward.

"I didn't do very well," Kirmes said of his performance in Moscow, where he placed 39th all-around in qualifications. "Of course my goal was to make the all-around final, but it did not go as planned. I had too many small mistakes and a very bad pommel horse routine, and I wasn't even close to a final. Even though I did a bad competition, I was happy with my floor routine, where I scored a new personal best."

Kirmes's path to Finnish citizenship began in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, where he was born on Dec. 19, 1995. His father and coach, Mati Kirmes, was a gymnast in Estonia when it was part of the Soviet Union, and later met his Swedish wife at a competition in Finland. Mati eventually moved to Sweden, and the couple later moved to Reykjavik for work.

When Oskar was 1, the family moved to Älvsbyn, Sweden, where his maternal grandparents and cousins lived. New job offers relocated the family to Espoo, Finland, when Oskar was approximately 12. Adjusting to life in Finland was not easy, he said, but gradually he gained confidence in and out of the gym.

"We didn't know anyone here in Espoo, so it was very difficult at the beginning," said Kirmes, who trains at the club Espoon Telinetaiturit. "It was very difficult to learn the language, too. After a time I started to like it very much and the trainings were going really well. I decided that I wanted to compete for Finland because I live here, they have a stronger team and they go to more international competitions to get better experience. I have been training with the Finnish national team for many years now and I enjoy it very much."

Immediately after Kirmes received Finnish citizenship this spring, he earned success at home and abroad. In May he won the all-around title at the Finnish championships, where he also took two gold and two bronze medals in the apparatus finals. A week later he placed fourth all-around at the Dityatin Cup in St. Petersburg, where he scored a personal best all-around total.

Kirmes said he was pleased to qualify for the Finnish team that competed at this fall's world championships in Antwerp, where his 32nd-place ranking in qualifications was the best by a Scandinavian male gymnast.

"I had a lot more pressure on myself because it much harder to make it to the Finnish team (than the Swedish team)," said Kirmes, whose younger brother Robert is also a gymnast. "So when I heard that I made it to the world championships representing Finland, I was really happy, and I knew that I had to make a good competition there to prove that I can be a part of the Finnish team. I did a good competition at worlds, with just one stupid fall on rings, and I placed 27th on floor. This was good for me at my first big competition for Finland."

Following Christmas at home with his family, and New Year's Eve in Estonia with his paternal grandparents and cousins, Kirmes plans to turn his attention to new gymnastics ambitions.

"I will get back to the gym to get ready for 2014," he told IG. "I need to get a higher D-score on all the events, but still do clean and nice gymnastics. I have a lot of work to do, together with my teammates and coaches, but we will do our best to achieve our goals."

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Scandinavian gymnasts includes:

"Great Danes" - profile on Rasmus Brandtoft and Kasper Fardan (January 2004)

"Hope in Helsinki" – feature on IG's visit to Voimisteluseura VSH men's club (January 2013) Heikki Savolainen/Hall of Fame induction feature (June/July 2004)
"Fearless Finn" – Tomi Tuuha interview/photo gallery (December 2012)
"10 Questions with Jani Tanskanen" – interview with FIG Athletes' Commission president (October 2010)
"Second Youth" – Jani Tanskanen profile (January/February 2007)
"Flight of Faith" – Annamari Maaranen profile (November 2007)

"Icelandic Warm-up" - feature on IG's visit to Icelandic clubs (November 2012)
"She's Keeping Her Cool" - feature on Sigga Bergthorsdottir (October 2012)

"Scouting Scandinavia" - feature on IG's visit to clubs in Sweden and Norway (March 2011)
"Elder Statesman" - Espen Jansen profile (May 2009)

"Swedish History-maker" - Jonna Adlerteg profile (November 2010)
"Scouting Scandinavia" – feature on IG's visit to clubs in Sweden and Norway (March 2011)
"Swedish Upswing" – women's team feature (November 2010)
"Swedish Achiever" - Ida Gustafsson short profile (June 3013)
"Sweden's Standout" - Mans Stenberg profile (March 2010)
William Thoresson profile/Hall of Fame induction feature (August/September 2001)
"Quick Chat: Veronica Wagner" (November 2008)
"Veronica's Date: 2008" – Veronica Wagner profile (February 2005)
"Swedish Sojourn" – Karolina Bohman profile (February 2003)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 27 December 2013 01:09    PDF Print
Moors Aims For 'More Positive' 2014
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with Canadian Olympian Victoria Moors, who finished 2013 with a pair of winning performances at this month's Toyota Cup in Japan and a new ultra-difficult skill named for her in the International Gymnastics Federation's Code of Points.

In the all-around final at this fall's world championships in Antwerp, Moors became the first woman to successfully completed a double-twisting double layout on floor exercise in FIG competition, and the skill is now named "the Moors." As the full-twisting double layout was already rated as the highest-level "G" skill in the Code of Points, the FIG opened a new difficulty category ("I" value) for the skill. Moors' original "D"-value dismount on uneven bars (toe on, layout-half) also bears her name.

Moors told IG she was especially pleased with that achievement, after she under-rotated the skill in qualifications and fell.

"Floor being the first event I competed (in qualifications), I was really hoping to make all-around (final) after that so I would have another shot to compete it," said Moors, who finished 10th all-around in Antwerp. "It's not an easy skill to do, and I'm very proud of myself that I came back after a fall in qualifications."

Moors, trains at Dynamo Gymnastics in Cambridge, Ont., under two-time Soviet Olympic gold medalist Elvira Saadi, experienced an up-and-down 2013. An injury prevented her from competing all events at the Canadian championships in the spring. However, she finished her competitive year on a bright note by placing first on uneven bars, first on floor exercise and second on balance beam at the Toyota Cup in Japan earlier this month.

As Moors enjoys the holidays with family and friends, she is approaching the new year with an open agenda.

"I really have no goals for 2014," she told IG. "I'm just going to take things day by day and just enjoy the experience. My New Year's resolution is to try and be nicer and more positive toward things!"

International Gymnast magazine's recent features on Canadian gymnasts include:
"Sudden Impact" - Victoria Moors interview (January/February 2013)
Victoria Moors, Madeline Gardiner and Anysia Unick cover photo (March 2011)
"Canadian Diversity" – Ellie Black and Hugh Smith profiles (July/August 2013)
"Black to Business" - Ellie Black interview (November 2012)
"Aiming to Top the Charts" - Maegan Chant interview (October 2013)
"Veteran Presence" – Nathan Gafuik interview (July/August 2010)
"Candid Canadians" – Madeline Gardiner and Jackson Payne interviews (September 2011)
Christine Peng-Peng Lee interview (April 2011)
Gael Mackie profile (July/August 2011)
Scott Morgan profile – December 2013
"Pegg Much More Motivated" – Dominique Pegg profile (March 2010)
"Confident Canadian" - Brittany Rogers interview (May 2012)
"Savona Surges into Recovery" – Jessica Savona short profile (October 2011)
"Catching up with Lori Strong Ballard" (June 2012)
"Stage Flight" - Yvonne Tousek update (November 2010)
"Veteran Presence" - Kristina Vaculik profile (July/August 2010)
Kristina Vaculik cover photo (April 2010)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 24 December 2013 18:47    PDF Print
'2014 is my Year,' Says New Zealand's David Bishop
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this profile on New Zealand's David Bishop, who plans to celebrate a sunny Christmas and New Year's birthday following a bright 2013 competition year.

Bishop, who finished 46th all-around at this summer's World University Games in Kazan and 61st all-around at this fall's World Championships in Antwerp, said he was especially pleased with his performance at the World Cup of Anadia, Portugal, in June. He finished 12th on floor exercise and 13th on high bar in Anadia.

David Bishop (New Zealand)

"I had set a goal before the competition to place in the top 12," Bishop said. "I was very happy that all of my hard work had paid off when I discovered I had placed exactly 12th. I think it was most satisfying because I had injured my ankle one week before, so in the week leading up to the competition I wasn't able to train floor at all. On high bar, 13th place was a good achievement for me. I was so close to achieving two top-12 finishes."

Bishop's World Cup results provided confidence, while the world championships gave him a valuable insight on changes he will need to make for future competitions, he said.

"I didn't hit all of my routines, even though I had been consistent and hitting most of my routines all year," Bishop said of his performance in Antwerp. "I think it was my nerves that let me down, because it was my first world championships and the biggest competition of my life to date. But I try to always learn from my mistakes. Come the world championships next year, I will be more confident and consistent which, I'm planning, will lead to a result I will be proud of."

Born Jan. 1, 1990, in Auckland, Bishop trains at Tri Star Gymnastics in his hometown. His coach is David Phillips, who won the bronze medal on floor exercise at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and competed at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

"(Phillips) is one of only two male gymnasts ever to represent New Zealand at the Olympic Games," Bishop said. "He also used to coach me many years ago, when he was training and I was about 7 years old. I am incredibly grateful to have him as my coach."

To boost his all-around chances, Bishop said he wants to better his scoring potential on rings in particular.

"I think I have quite a lot of potential to increase my Start Value on rings," he said "I am hoping to increase it by at least 0.9 and maybe even 1.3, depending on which dismount I choose, by next year, which is quite significant."

Bishop said his training for 2014 will target summer's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"2014 is my year," he said. "I plan to peak for the Commonwealth Games. Firstly, I want to qualify to the Games. Once I'm there I hope to make finals in the all-around, floor and or high bar. In the finals anything can happen. I just want to nail my routine and see where it gets me."

Following Glasgow, Bishop looks forward to the 2014 Worlds in October in Nanning, China,.

"Of course I also want to compete in Nanning," he said. "My goal for those world championships is just to hit all of my routines cleanly, and contribute to the team as much as possible."

Outside the gym, Bishop will continue his studies at Auckland University, which he hopes to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering at the end of 2015.

Bishop said he plans to spend Christmas with his family in Auckland or at his family's beach house an hour north of Auckland.

"What I really like about a Kiwi Christmas and New Year is that it's summer here," he said. "Our Santa Claus is usually dressed in a singlet (T-shirt), shorts and jandals (flip-flops). So I usually spend most of my time traveling to all of the different beaches with friends and playing sports all day on the beach and in the water."

Even Bishop's holidays in the sun will benefit his gymnastics, he said.

"I'm looking forward to just relaxing and making the most of the good weather and time away from training, so that when I come back to training in the new year, I am refreshed, revived and ready to work harder than ever," told IG.

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 23 December 2013 23:45    PDF Print
Mülhauser Aims to New Heights in 2014
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with Swiss gymnast Nadia Mülhauser, who told IG that her solid performance at this fall's world championships in Antwerp gave her confidence for competitions in the coming year. Pictured: The Swiss team poses with the latest issue of International Gymnast magazine at their recent training camp at All Olympia Gymnastics Center in Los Angeles. Left to right: Laura Schulte, Jessica Diacci, Giulia Steingruber, Nadia Mülhauser, Nicole Hitz, Sara Metzger, Stefanie Siegenthaler and Ilaria Käslin. Back row: assistant coach Fabian Martin and head coach Zoltan Jordanov

IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with Swiss gymnast Nadia Mülhauser, who told IG that her solid performance at this fall's world championships in Antwerp gave her confidence for competitions in the coming year.

"It was my first world championships, and it was an honor for me to compete for Switzerland," Mülhauser, who placed 42nd all-around in qualifications in Antwerp. "This was the moment, the highlight of my year. I was happy to do a clean competition without many mistakes. It's a motivation for the future, because I can see that I can do more."

Nadia Mulhauser (Switzerland) at the 2013 Worlds

Mülhauser said her 2013 results were even more meaningful since she suffered two injuries at the end of 2012.

"On a punch front on beam, I broke my big toe," she said. "After that, I could do only bars, and one time when I was on bars, my hand guard ripped and I broke my thumb. I just never give up, because I know what I want."

Born March 15, 1996, in Düdingen, Mülhauser trains under national team head coach Zoltan Jordanov and assistant coaches Fabien Martin and Sznezsana Jordanova. She finished third all-around at the 2010 and 2012 Swiss Championships, and fourth all-around at the 2013 Swiss Championships.

Mülhauser placed 15th all-around at the 2010 European Junior Championships in Birmingham, and 24th all-around in qualifications at the 2010 Europeans in Brussels, where no all-around final was contested. She won three medals at the 2011 Grand Prix of Szombathely, Hungary, and made the vault final at the 2012 Challenge Cups of Osijek and Ghent.

"I don't have one specialty, and I think I can really do a good all-around and help the team," said Mülhauser, who also won medals on two apparatuses at the 2010, 2012 and 2013 Swiss Championships.

Earlier this month, Mülhauser enjoyed a visit to the U.S., where she and her teammates took part in a training camp with the Mexican team at All Olympia Gymnastics Center in Los Angeles. She was able to work out with Olympic gold medal-winning AOGC gymnast McKayla Maroney, the 2011 and 2013 world vault champion.

"It was really great to watch McKayla train," said Mülhauser, who also spent time experiencing the California lifestyle. "It's just another mentality. It's all so big. It's warm, and it's really good."

Mülhauser plans to spend her holidays with family and friends before she resumes training on Jan. 6. She, two older brothers and their parents will celebrate Christmas in a "little house in the mountains" that they rent for the holidays near their home in Fribourg.

"There's snow, and it's very nice at Christmastime," she said.

In 2014 Mülhauser wants to reach new performance standards.

"I would like to compete with the team at Europeans and worlds," she told IG. "I would like to have more confidence and to be a good all-arounder. Most of all, I want to stay fit, without any injuries."

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of Swiss gymnastics includes:
"No Turning Back" - Claudio Capelli profile (June 2011)
"Swiss Hit" - Ariella Käslin profile (December 2008)
"Swiss Thrill-seeker" - Ariella Käslin short profile (January/February 2007)
"A New Swiss Standout" - Ilaria Käslin profile (December 2013)
"Full Force" – Giulia Steingruber interview (June 2013)
"A New Hit for the Swiss" – Giulia Steingruber profile (December 2009)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.


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