Forward Thinking

Transfixed by Aly's Roller-Coaster Ride

By Hannah Rubin

  • Print
  • Share Share
getty images

I sort of felt like a schizophrenic, jumping between screens on my 15-inch screen computer, from word document to word document, from news website to low-quality live-streaming of Aly Raisman wobbling on the balance beam.

The video kept freezing. The loading button wouldn’t move from the middle of the screen. The commentary was in French. The screen was barely five inches big. Yet, I stayed glued to it, despite all the other word documents screaming for my attention.

Why was I so entranced? Because it’s the Olympic gymnastics, man!

Sixteen year olds swinging from metal poles. Glittering leotards streaking with shiny distractions. A Polish girl with her country’s flag colors spray-painted onto her cornrows. Almost everyone was wearing some form of purpley-pink skin tight “leotard” (seriously, what material is that?! How does it possibly stick so tightly to those inanely sculpted bodies? Gymnasts give swimmers a run for their money).

And of course, our own little Cold-War-Competition: the four leading gymnasts, all stacked with the possibility of a place on the medal stand hailed from Russia and the United States.

Even more than that, we had a star in the rise, our little-engine-that-could, chugging along with her excitable parents and megawatt smile.

Raisman, the 18-year-old super gymnast from Needham, Mass., who did her floor dance to Hava Nagila and proudly talked to the Yahoo sports channel about drinking chocolate milk after her workouts.

The last compeition had been spoiled for me by time zones and work hours, and I promised myself that this time around, as Aly competed for an individual gold medal, I would be watching it in real time. Anxiety-induced fist clenching and all.

What a ride it was. Starting neck-and-neck with fellow American Gabby Douglas (who went on to win the gold) on the vault, with a mere .06 differential, Aly’s ranking began to slowly decrease as the Russians took to the mat.

Their vaults were beautiful, their landings perfectly stuck. The uneven bars further cemented their lead, and both Aly and Gabby floated lower down the totem pole. Aly, who had been at third, was now trailing in fourth place. Commentators pondered whether she would make it to a medal.

Then, in a twist of events, Russia’s perfectly poised armor began to crack. Viktoria Komova, who was predicted to win gold, given that she had gotten the highest all-around score in last Sunday’s preliminaries, slipped twice on the beam had a wobbly landing. When Aliya Mustafina was up, she actually fell off the beam.

Suddenly Aly’s gold (or at least silver) medal dream seemed like a viable reality.

Unfortunately, Aly was unable to keep her nerves in check. She had to raise her foot up to steady her balance twice during her routine, and didn’t get her landing perfect. The low score shot her back to fifth place, and a Chinese competitor slipped in ahead of her at fourth.

Gearing up to the floor routine, it seemed like all hope was lost.

And then, my little Hava Nagila gymnast, twisted and twirled her way to 15.13, the highest floor exercise score of the day. Her name shot onto the score board. She was tied for third with little Mustafina. She had made her come back! The little engine that could.

And then the dreadful words “Oh, Wait.” Plastered across my screen.

Oh. Wait.

In Olympic gymnastics there can be no ties. So, when two competitors have exactly the same score—down to that last thousandth decimal, the judges turn to the ‘execution score,’ in order to determine who should be kicked down.

After that inscrutable explanation, Mustafina got the bronze. Aly got pushed to fourth. My schizophrenic roller coaster ride was over. The little engine that could … well, this time she couldn’t.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: olympics, nbc, hava nagila, gymnastics, gold, aly raisman, Alexandra raisman

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.