This pretty much sums up my feelings about the women's gymnastics team final last night.
I broke my chair.
No. Seriously. I broke my chair.
That was the most incredible set of gymnastics from an American team, ever. They hit every single routine and they didn't just the routines - they slammed them out of the park. Into another ballpark. 407 miles away.
I was so nervous leading into the competition. It began at 4:30 and around 4:15, I started to get waves of nausea. My stomach was doing more flips than Maroney's vault, my arms were tingling, my brain was doing the Macarena.
The first moment that calmed the nausea - Jordyn was the lead-off on vault and, of course, the big question of the night was "is Jordyn going to be able to put the disappointment of not making the all-around behind her?" The second she started running down the runway, I knew she was fine.
She was so focused and determined and when she hit that board, her vault just exploded. Higher and stronger than I think I've ever seen from her. And when her face broke into that huge smile as she landed, well.. omg... I'm getting verklempt just thinking about it. She had put the biggest devastation of her life behind her - something people had been telling her was her destiny since she was 10 - and here she was totally focused on doing her very best for the team. Just wow - what an incredible kid.
But it was THIS. (click it - watch it. love it. come back.)
Maroney's vault - the most amazing piece of gymnastics that I have ever seen. Ever.
That vault is so hard. It's insane that she gets that much height and power in the first place but last night, it was even higher, faster, stronger and better than she's ever done it before. Scratch that - it was better than ANYone has ever done any vault ever before.
The entire room erupted in cheers and my heart about flew out of my chest. The researchers and I were glued to the replays (which they showed about 10 times as they worked on the live show). I think we were all trying to scrape our jaws off the floor. It was that good. Everyone in the room recognized that they had just seen something special.
Russia was on vault next and they had a somewhat decent performance - their last girl had a huge stumble off to the side, giving the US girls a bit of a cushion, scoring wise.
(The teams compete in groups of two countries and who you compete with is decided by the results from the qualifying rounds - so since the U.S. and Russia finished 1-2 in qualifying, they rotated in the same group together. Made for great sporting action as you could watch the U.S. do vault and then immediately compare Russia's vaults)
After training last week, it was clear that it was going to come down to Russia and the U.S. for the team title so I basically didn't even watch anyone but those two teams. (After it was over, I realized, oh crap - I don't know who got the bronze! Turned out it was Romania. Totally forgot they were there by the end of it)
We had all 4 of the big tv's in the room tuned to the gymnastics (sorry other sports) with one of the feeds on the chines/romania rotation, one on the US/russia rotation. And then the other two tvs were on the broadcast feeds - one on the world feed and then the other on the NBC broadcast that they were building for primetime later that day. My eyes were constantly darting from the US, NBC and world tvs - but I think I peeked over at Romania and China maybe 3 times? Once when Romania was on bars (oh, they don't look as terrible as they usually do), once when they were one floor (oh, nice Izbasa!) and once when a Chinese girl was crying ("this ain't no city championship!")
I was also following along on twitter to get the updates from the arena of the stuff that maybe we weren't seeing. So my ADD was in Disneyland.
The teams rotated to bars and I collected myself a bit (I was also working like a beast during this - or trying to anyway, the system we use to build everything kept crashing on me and I was split between having gymnastics heartattacks and having work heartattacks.)
But it was beam that made me nervous. Specifically, Gabby Douglas on beam. The NBC feed kept showing a replay of Aly grabbing Gabby's shoulders after bars (right before they head to beam) and saying, "you're fine, you're fine" obviously trying to calm her down. (awww - Aly - she's turned into an amazing team leader over the past year) Gabby has a checkered past on beam - she can be great. But she also be a bigger mess than Lindsey Lohan. When she lets her nerves get the best of her, it's a disaster (in fact, that will be the key for her during the all-around. If she can hit beam, she should win)
So the team goes to beam and the waves of nausea start coming back. I tucked my feet underneath me in my chair so I could sit a little higher and also so that I could just contain myself a bit. Because, duh, still working here. Can't fall apart now.
So Kyla goes and BANG! Best routine of her life. Amazing.
And now it's Gabby. I don't know if I was breathing. I looked over at Scott and Dave (the researchers) and they could both barely look at the tvs. So gymnastics row was a hot mess.
And then 16 year old Gabby Douglas gets up there and competes with a composure that is almost unimaginable. So calm. So confident. And so patient. She just took her time, let it happen and when she landed her dismount, I think I finally started to breathe for the first time in 5 minutes.
Aly was next and I knew that even if she had a few bobbles, she'd be fine. So I went to untangle myself out of my chair, still pretty hyped up over Gabby's beam, and I got my foot caught in the arm rest. Well, I don't have time for this! So I jerk my foot around a bit and ::CRACK:: broke the arm rest right off.
That's about right.
I barely even flinched at the time. After the event, though, I was like, "awww, dang! my chair!" But at the time, my only thought was, "whoops - oh crap, what if the russians get gifts like that on floor?"
It's cool. I'll just go steal Bob Costas' chair. He'd want me to have it.
When the Russians were up on beam, gymnastics row was still freaking out a bit - the Russians were a bit of a mess but the judges were still giving them insanely high scores. We started to get nervous that the judges were doing everything possible to keep them in contention for the gold. Mustafina stumbled all over the place, only just barely not falling off twice and got almost the same score as Aly, who basically hit. What??!?! Ugh. gymnastics.
We really didn't have to worry because the russians absolutely imploded on floor. I expected them to have some errors but I never, ever expected to see a floor rotation that bad. And poor Grishina - landed a cartwheel on her elbow? At the Olympics? Hope she enjoys Siberia.
The American girls took the floor and it was basically over before it even started. They just needed to land most of their passes on their feet and they would be the winners. They did that and more. By the time Aly went, she only needed a 10 (used to be the golden standard, not it's a score that means you gave it a real quitter's try). She did two passes and Scott yells, "that's it! She can stop now!" With those two passes, she had pretty much scored enough points to win.
Jordyn's floor was electrifying, Gabby's music was almost listenable. And Aly had the entire arena wishing they were Jewish with her Hava-Naglia music.
Watching the girls stand there, holding hands and waiting for the scores to come up - AAAHHH!!! I could barely stand it. But it was Jorydn's face that did me in. She was glowing and so happy. And as Scott tweeted out (which REALLY got me) - "And just like it was always supposed to be, Jordyn Wieber is an Olympic gold medalist."
Tears. Hearts. Love.