Stretching Out: 10 random thoughts on 2009
(13 votes, average 2.92 out of 5)

As the year comes to a close, IG Editor Dwight Normile reflects on the previous year in the world of gymnastics.

1. After polling gymnasts and coaches about the idea of lowering the required skills from 10 to eight for men, I was perplexed that several said it would make the sport more dangerous. Their claim was that gymnasts would then try to do as many hard skills in a row as possible in a shorter routine. Aren't they doing that now?

2. Referring to No.1: After reading the responses to our poll (which appeared in the December issue), I realized a better question for the men would have been, "Should there be a total skill limit for each routine?" That would certainly solve the problem of marathon routines that have 25 skills. What do you think? How many skills, A's included, should be the max for a routine?

3. Security at London's O2 Arena will need to improve in 2012, when the Olympics are in town. At the worlds in October, media went through a security check point every day. I guess the security officers got tired by the end of the week, because one day the lady didn't even ask me to open my laptop bag (which we had to do previously). When I placed it on the table, she pressed down on it with both hands, and then said OK. This was disturbing. The only item that exploded in my bag was a banana I had packed for a snack.

4. Speaking of food and security, I had purchased a jar of Nutella (a chocolate spread) in London to take home for my family. I placed it in my carry-on, which made it onto the plane in London. But after we landed in Newark, N.J., and went through security again, my Nutella was confiscated. "We get Nutella a lot," the security woman told me apologetically, holding up the small jar. Now I know. I also learned that Nutella is available in the U.S.

5. At the worlds, China won six gold medals with six different gymnasts. Tellingly, China did not enter anyone in the men's all-around competition. With team size shrinking from six to five for the next Olympics, I wonder how many of those six gymnasts (four men, two women) Chinese officials can place on the 2012 team and still win the team titles without sacrificing too many apparatus golds.

6. The emergence of Kayla Williams on vault and floor and the planned return of Alicia Sacramone, who is strong on the same events, could make for an interesting subplot at the 2010 U.S. championships. Whom would you select for a world team, if you could only choose one?

7. Danell Leyva's super-emotional coach/stepfather Yin Alvarez has taken some heat for his frenetic fits of frenzy after routines. Some claim it's an act, but I don't believe it is. He must be doing something right, because he has one of the most productive men's clubs around (Universal Gymnastics in Miami).

8. Some IG readers have wondered why we discontinued our "IG Mailbox" page in the magazine. I think the answer is simple: readers tend to voice their opinions on the IG messageboard now. We'd love to hear your viewpoints on current issues in the sport. Just email them to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

9. The U.S. gymnasts were just announced for the 2010 Tyson American Cup, March 6 in Worcester, Mass. Rebecca Bross will be one of the two American women, as world champion Bridget Sloan declined because she needed a break. A third invitation has yet to be offered for the second U.S. woman. Defending champion Jordyn Wieber, who has been slowed by a sore hamstring since last summer, is reportedly not back to full strength yet. The two U.S. men will be Jonathan Horton and Tim McNeill. Six non-U.S. gymnasts will be added later to complete the men's and women's fields.

10. Finally, who do you think will emerge as the men's and women's stars in 2010? Please leave your comments below.