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Posts Tagged ‘Nastia Liukin’

SI’s Best Sports Pictures of 2008

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Paq Man

As we draw closer to the end of another year, it’s time for all of those nifty year-end compilations. Sports Illustrated got a little ahead of the game — these things usually come out after Christmas — when they released their Greatest Shots of 08, a 56-image gallery that captures the year in sports quite effectively. As expected, the Olympics are featured prominently, including that famous swimmer guy who attracts cute psychotics who don’t use AT&T Cingular.

More on SI’s images of the year after the jump >>

No Popping Tacos for Nastia

Nastia Liukin

As athletes reaping the rewards of their Olympic service continues unabated, gold medalist Nastia Liukin has also entered the ring; only she’s not going the way of popping tacos and foreign languages. Instead, Nastia has decided to do something a little more wholesome — pitch jeans and related fashion to teenage girls for Vanilla Star.

One of the key pitches from the company has to do with the way the jeans are marketed; mainly, without the sexuality found in other teen-related ads. From their presser:

“Vanilla Star is proud to embrace an ‘anti-jean’ company philosophy by opposing the trend of exploiting young teens’ bodies in its ads. We always try to find personalities that our core Vanilla Star customer is attracted to and will set a good example for today’s impressionable youth market,” says Vanilla Star’s President, Mark Levy.

Um yeah, about all that.

Now, I’m not one to quibble about things like this, but, using a miniskirt/lots-of-legs-and-smiles isn’t the most conservative way to market said good example. And let’s not get started on the whole body image being portrayed to teenage girls either. Call it what it is — attracting your demographic by partnering with someone they either admire and/or envy.

Because if want to be like Mike, or in this case, Nastia, the only way most of us can do so is by buying a product he or she endorses.

Olympics: Shawn Johnson Is Finally Golden

Shawn Johnson
Getty Images

It took a little while but America’s initial golden girl — Shawn Johnson — finally got that gold medal she was desperately seeking. Johnson’s gold came in the balance beam exercise and she outpointed overall gold medal winner and teammate Nastia Liukin to win. The beam victory salvaged what could have been a disappointing Olympics, because while she’s won three silver medals, her sites were set on a gold rush. Her balance beam exercise was just the thing to end the golden drought.

For Liukin, who finished second to Johnson, the silver medal represents her fifth of these Olympics, tying an American record for gymnasts. However, considering the uneven bars debacle, there has to be a level of disappointment for Liukin to deal with.

Nevertheless, the Johnson/Liukin gold-silver finish culminated a successful Olympics for the women’s gymnastics team who won eight medals, despite their less-than-stellar start in the team competition.

Olympics: Golden Gymnastics (Silver, Too)

Nastia Liukin
Getty Images

Amid announcer claims of bad judgment, the duo of Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson completed the gold/silver finish the two friends dreamed about since they knew they’d be going to Beijing together. It was beautiful mastery of an assortment of flips, twirls, twists and stuck landings that put the teammates on the stand with Liukin taking the gold and Johnson securing the silver.

The bronze was won by China’s Yang Yillin and the three were separated by .675 points as Liukin finished with 63.325 points, Johnson with 62.725 and Yilin with 62.650. Liukin’s gold represents only the third American to win the all-around women’s gymnastics competition, something her father felt she was meant to do, as indicated by his statements after the event was decided:

“It wasn’t easy for Nastia to be second, but I never believed Nastia was No. 2,” Valeri [Liukin] said after the event. “Some judges maybe like Shawn, but Nastia’s level of gymnastics is high. We calculate our course and come to the conclusion she is not second. She just makes mistakes.”

Apparently, Liukin’s father is not too high on his daughter’s competition, including her friend and silver medal winner Johnson. Nevertheless, it was an incredible floor exercise that secured Liukin’s gold. Johnson was the last to perform the floor exercise and she needed a 15.4 and change to pass Yilin and she delivered. Knowing she couldn’t score high enough to pass Liukin took the pressure away from Johnson and she delivered a floor performance worthy of a silver medal.

I’ll close this post with a still of the magnificent Liukin in mid-flip because… well, because it’s more impressive to look than the words used to describe it:

Flip

See what I mean?