Feb. 23, 2012
UCLA Gymnastics coaches and team members will be answering your questions every Thursday over the course of the season. To submit questions for future Q&As, CLICK HERE.
Dave (Dallas, TX): You mentioned Sam's "academic injury" at the press conference. I just wondered if this is the first of its kind in team history?
Valorie Kondos Field: This is the first "academic injury" we've ever had. It sounds so silly, but it really happened. Sam does have a history of tendonitis in her right wrist, but the cause of this latest flare up was her mid-term. She is still only training on beam and will only compete beam this weekend.
Jane (Seattle, WA): I love the changes to Sam's beam routine, so unique! Is she going to keep doing a hands-free routine or are those changes just temporary?
Valorie Kondos Field: We're deciding on what to keep in her routine. I really like the front aerial, back tuck (which is now a back pike). She's also training a side aerial in her routine in case she ever needs it. And she trains the full twist every day. The plan each meet is if the first 5 hit good routines, then she will compete the full twist. Unfortunately, the last meet was the only meet that we hit 5 solid routines, and she hadn't warmed up the full because we spent the entire warm-up period figuring out the routine she would compete. This new dismount, standing layout step-out into full dismount isn't great yet. She doesn't consistently get enough oomph and rotation to make it fly, but she's working on it. We'll see.
Tricia (Chicago): Miss Val, I love UCLA's floor routines. Year after year they are continually some of my favorites in both NCAA and elite. Anna Li's Requiem for a Dream routine from a 2010 comes to mind. Are there any floor routines that especially stand out to you?
Valorie Kondos Field: I really liked Anna's routine because it was different from what we normally see in college. I think it's hard to pull off a slower, more dramatic routine in college because the atmosphere lends itself to more upbeat exciting music. I really like Monique's routine, and I think she performs it exceptionally well. Her eyes can get so laser-sharp that when she stares you down it can make you feel uncomfortable. I love Aisha's routine, a lot of great pictures throughout the whole thing. Go back and look at Tanya Service Chaplin's tango routine (can't remember the date) she had some really hard dance turns and leaps.... She was an amazing dancer. I could go on and on ...
David (Brooklyn): I've noticed in recent years that floor routines that didn't get much, if any, play were sometimes given to another gymnast the next year (like when Zam did Kristina Comforte's routine). Wondering if you'd consider remounting other routines from the past? I know it would require the right fit, but I'd love to see Kim Hamilton's '89 routine again.
Valorie Kondos Field: Good eye! Coming from the dance world where great ballets are handed down for literally hundreds of years, I've never understood why more great floor routines aren't passed down as well. I loved Kimmy's 1989 routine. Who do you think I should give that to next year?
Ronaldo (Rancho Bernardo): I've only recently started watching gymnastics, so I apologize if this is a silly question, but in college gymnastics, is there such a thing as earning "style points" or some kind of extra credit for routines of exceptional artistic merit? As a dancer, I feel pretty strongly that great choreography, artistic interpretation, and conveying emotions should be rewarded, but it doesn't seem like that is the case. It seems the judges only care about steps on the landing.
Valorie Kondos Field: I tend to agree with you.
Ed (Boston): How do you get your athletes to perform at a meet the way they do in practice and not hold back?
Valorie Kondos Field: Great question, and if I had one solid answer to that I'd be the guru of all athletics. One way I've found that works is to not get upset if they make a mistake going hard. We also make a point to pay close attention that they are staying loose before they salute to compete. Different things work for different athletes. Mizuki Sato told me once that when Kristina Comforte went up to her right before she competed beam and told her "You know you can get a 10", it was the first time she thought that she really could get a 10, and that released her to go big and perform all-out. A great coach figures out how to be as impactful in both a team dynamic and with the individual athlete.
Ramon (Newport Beach, CA): We are excited to pick out our season tickets for next year but were confused by the layout. Is the vault moving to the other side of the arena?
Valorie Kondos Field: Yes, we are moving the vault to the south side when we compete next year in Pauley Pavilion. That is opposite where it was last season but in a similar location to where it currently is at the Wooden Center. The entrance to Pauley will be on the north side (off Bruin Walk). The student section will stay on the northwest side. The alumni band will be on the south side. Sorry if this seems like too much information, but we've already had a lot of interest in season ticket sales for next year. Fans are excited to be able to have the option to purchase a specific seat, so I've been fielding a lot of questions about the gym layout.
Also, we'll be selling season tickets for 2013 at our next two home meets, and for each season ticket you buy, you get a gumball at our giant gumball machine in the lobby. Each gumball has a designated prize assigned to its color. How fun is that?!
Jim (Pasadena): Sam, since you're the reigning beam champion (yea!) can you explain the significance of the arm movements in balance beam? Are there any standards or requirements for them? Can you get a deduction for bad arm movements?
Samantha Peszek: The arm movements or dance in a beam routine is really important. It has many purposes. For example, the dance is part of the routine to really show off and have a chance to stand out and have really great performance quality. Also, it gives us a break in between skills to breathe and think before our next skill. So, no, you can't get a deduction from having certain arm movements instead of others, but you can use it as an advantage. Alternatively, there are picky deductions judges could take from the effect of arm movements to the flow or performance of a routine.