The Michigan Dily-Wednesday, December 12, 1979-Page 23
The Sporting Views
American gymnastics on upswing
By LEE KATTERMAN\
It has been seven years since the young
Soviet gymnast, Olga Korbut, tumbled into
the hearts of television viewers of the 1972
Mlunich Olympics. This girl-woman amazed
us with her daring and warmed us with her
When the Montreal Olympics made its
quadrennial television appearance, many of us
tuned in to learn what toll four years might
have taken on "our" Russian pixie. But this
-ime around, the TV cameras drew our atten-
tion to another youngster, a 14-year-old from
This new star, though, had a startlingly
different disposition. Nadia Comenici per-
formed her routines with military-like
discipline. Her stoic precision left all who
.watched breathless and unbelieving. And she
.lid all this with nary a smile, something Kor-
but had used so deftly to get our interest.
. But Comenici's lack of emotion fit well with
her near mechanical habit of earning per-
fect' 10's for her routines. In all, she collected
seven of these labels of perfection on her way
to three gold medals.
These two athletes did more than prove
their prowess in the gym, though. Of all the
athletes in Munich, and then Monti-eal, these
two teenagers stood out. And with their fame,
the entire sport of gymnastics grew in
With the Moscow games less than a year
away, what are the chances for continued
,American interest in gymnastics?
The recently completed World Gymnastics
Championships, held in Fort Worth, Texas,
may provide some insight.
As was expected, Comenici's progress
there was watched closely. Unfortunately, an,
infection in her hand severely limited her par-
ticipation. But don't think it stopped her.
On the last night of the women's team com-
petition, with her Romanian squad
threatening to unseat the Russians, Nadia
came off the bench - bad hand and all -- and
stepped through a simplified, but exacting,
balance beam routine to score 9.95 and help
her team win its first gold medal in inter-
national competition. Consequently, if the
news carried anything on the World Cham-
pionships, it usually included something on
the Romanian wunderkind.
But the historic activity didn't stop there.
The American men's team finished third
behind the Soviet Union and Japan, the first
medal for an American gym team in inter-
"It's a breakthrough," said Roger Counsil,
coach of America's men's team. "It (the third
place finish) tells the world we're for real and
we're here to stay."
And this couldn't make the rest of the U.S.
gymnastics community happier. The ap-
pearance of top notch performers will give
gym fans in this country something Korbut or
Comenici could never provide: a home team
to cheer for.
Leading candidates for stardom are former
Indiana State gymnast Kurt Thomas and
University of Oklahoma's Bart Conner.
Thomas, ranked second in the world behind
Russia's Aleksandr Ditiatin, captured a gold
medal in both floor exercise and high bar.
Conner, ranked fifth; took another gold on
While the U.S. women's team did not fare as
well (sixth place finish), the name to watch
for in the future is Tracee Talavera. She's
only thirteen, so young that the International
Gymnastics Committee disqualified her from
the Fort Worth meet. But in Moscow she'll be
a year older and will be able to help the
women's team in its bid for an Olympic
But success in one meet will not insure a
continued rise in America's interest in gym-
nastics. Fortunately, there are a few other
elements at work to grab the public.
First, more attention is being paid to fin-
ding and developing world-class talent. Ten
years ago, the NCAA began a series of rule
changes to gradually increase the numbers of
all-arounders on men's teams, for only all-
around gymnasts can participate on the in-
ternational level. This yearcollege teams put
four all-arounders on the floor every meet,
compared with a few to none on teams ten
Much of the success of women's teams is
due to the dedication of a couple of former
gymnasts. Murial Grossfeld, director of the
American Gold School in Connecticut, and
Linda Metheny, of the Eugene, Ore. Academy
of Artistic Gymnastics, have both been
training hand-picked pre-teens and turning
them into champions such as Talavera.
The second, and most promising factor con-
tributing to this sport's popularity, is the up-
swing in media coverage of gymnastics.
In the past year, such widely read
publications as LIFE, TIME and the New
York Times Magazine have carried reports
and features on gymnastics.
Last March, the reincarnated LIFE
displayed Thomas' skills using multiple-
exposure photography. Among the shots were
an impressive sequence of the "Thomas
flair". This trick, a Thomas invention, is a
series of circles on the pommel horse resem-
bling a human helicopter.
Television has the gym bug, too. Those
weekend sportspotpourris, like ABC's Wide
World of Sports, have been broadcasting the
Olympic trials and important international
meets with increasing frequency. And with
that powerful electronic tool, the instant
replay, it's possible for the viewer to follow
the intricacies of each move.
It remains to be seen how the Americans
will do in Moscow next summer, but if recent
trend continues, it's likely that Thomas, Con-
ner and Talavera will become as well known
as Korbut and Comenici.
WOLVERINE FANS GET LOOK AT.NEW JOE LOUIS ARENA
Icers in GLIT,
Princeton, BC next
Titans host hoopsters
-Ad. - - - . 7 _IA9
By GARY LEVY
The Michigan hockey team will
receive a well-deserved vacation from
its Western Collegiate Hockey
Association schedule over the coming
academic. semester break. First, the
icers compete in the Great Lakes In-
vitational Tournament (GLIT) and
then they host epstern schools Boston
College and Princeton.
The first round of the GLIT, to be held
at newly-opened Joe Louis Arena, Dec.
28-29, pits the Wolverines against rival
Michigan State, and Michigan Tech
AND MICHIGAN Coach Dan Farrell
ose defending GLT.champion.
ichigan Tech as the pre-tournament
favorite. "Tech has traditionally won
the, tournament and seems to always
play pretty well over here," said
However, Tech Coach John MacInnes
disagreed with his team's pre-
"I don't think you can consider us as
the favorite based on our performance
this year. Michigan (12-4 overall, 6-4
WCHA) has the best record, so I would
pick them as the favorite."
AND COACH MacInnes said that a
final between the two teams would be
an interesting matchup. "I'm very im-
pressed with their record. I don't think
that they're playing as well defensively
as -we are, but offensively, they're
"But any; of the teams have a good
chance of winning, especially with the
matchups in the first round," added
Both first round games involve teams
that have split series with each other in
league competition. The Wolverines
defeated State (6-10 overall, 5-7 WCHA)
at Yost, 7-2, and MSU evened the series
with a 6-3 victory at Munn Ice Arena.
FOLLOWING THE tournament, the
icers host Boston College Jan. 4 and
Princeton Jan. 5 at Yost. Coach Farrell
said that he didn't know much about
either, except that "both are con-
sidered to be pretty good eastern
Both schools are members of the
Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference
and have just begun their seasons.
Boston College is currently 5-1-1 overall
and 3-0-1 in the ECAC, good for first
place. Princeton is now 4-3 overall and
2-3 in league play.
BLUE LINES - The Michigan-MSU
contest opens the GLIT with faceoff
scheduled for 5:00 p.m. The.Tech-
Wisconsin game immediately
follows . . . Saturday night's con-
solation game starts at 5:00 p.m. with
the championship game to
follow . . . Murray Eaves leads the
nation in scoring with 22 goals, 27
assists for 49 total points and is second
in the WCHA (11-17-28).
in opening wonignt
By DAVE JOHNSON the fifth consecutive game.
re's no letting up. With Toledo The Titans, having won 72 of 86
Marquette astern, the Wolverines games in the last three years, will coun-
through their toilsome pre-season ter with the biggest group of starters
ule, this time against the Univer- the Wolverines have seen to date.
f Detroit in the inaigural of the REPLACING Duerod at guard is 6-5
Joe Louis Arena, beginning at 8 senior Dave Niles, a pinpoint shooter
who averaged in double figures last
it's not gonna be easy. Detroit year (10.2 p.p.g.) without ever starting
is four starters from last season's a game.
quad. Guard Terry Duerod (now Teaming with Niles in the backcourt
the Pistons) was Detroit's lone is Detroit's sparkplug, Wilbert McCor-
ate last spring. mick, (11.4/184 assists). The 6-1 senior
ETROIT'S ALWAYS ready for needs only 95 more assists to surpass
aid Wolverine assistant coach Bill Dennis Boyd (563) as the Titan's career
er. "I don't care if they're only 2- leader in that department.
y're-a good team." Earl Cureton spearheads a most im-
e're gonna have to play even bet- posing front line. The 6-9 forward/cen-
an we did against Marquette to ter, who came on strong toward the end
em." of last season with a 32 point, 23
Wolverines will go into the game rebound outburst against St. Bonaven-
ne change in the starting lineup. ture, was selected in the NBA draft last
Heuerman replaces John Garris summer but turned it down to play in
e pivot while Mike McGee and his senior year.
Garner will continue at the for- Sophomores. Jerry Davis and Joe
spots. Keith Smith and Marty Kopicki team with Cureton on the front
ar will start in the backcourt for line.
End of term PARTY:
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