--- USA Gymnastics reports that Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson have each painted a pair of boots for UGG Australia’s sixth annual Art & Sole Collection, which raises money for a children's research hospital. The boots will be auctioned in a few days and all the money will go to the hospital. While we approve of the idea, we frankly can't see anyone but die-hard Nastia and Shawn fans shelling out any money for these boots. UGGs are ugly enough to begin with, and we're not sure Nastia and Shawn actually improved them with their art work. Still, we appreciate the thought. Nice work, girls!
Steliana Nistor in her final competition, the Olympics (photo: Reuters)
--- More Athlete of the Year news: Sport365 reports that Steliana Nistor was voted the best female athlete of her province, Sibiu. The Romanian champion retired after the Olympics and is now a freshman at the Sibiu College of Physical Education and Sport. Also, according to GymPower, Holland's Sanne Wevers, who will present her spectacular beam routine in Madrid this weekend, has been nominated for best female athlete of her province, Overijssel. She faces some stiff competition from two Olympic gold medalists, so we doubt she'll win.
--- As you probably know, the World Cup Final isn't the only competition that will take place this weekend. Other international competitions will be held in Belarus and Belgium, while Germany's eyes will be focused on the Bundesliga Final, an exciting format in which gymnasts from two teams compete head to head and points are awarded for the margin by which the winner beats his direct opponent. Both the men's and the women's finals look very exciting on paper. The men's final will be a battle between KTV Straubenhardt (represented, among other people, by Fabian Hambuchen, Marian Dragulescu, Robert Gal, and Sergei Kharkov) and Cottbus, whose most famous team members are Philipp Boy and Ukrainian veteran Roman Zozulya. Philipp Boy admits that the Straubenhardt boys are the favorites to win the title: "If they [Straubenhardt] do a good job, we'll barely stand a chance." He hopes the Straubenhardt boys will succumb to the pressure and start making mistakes: "If they make a mistake, we want to make them sweat." He also said he and his teammates are not at all nervous about taking on the almighty Straubenhardt team. "What nerves? We're the underdogs, so we're quite relaxed going into the final. Let the Straubenhardt guys be nervous."
Philipp Boy, looking forward to competing head to head with Hambuchen (photo: Reuters)
--- The Bundesliga's women's final could well be even more exciting than the men's. According to the Bundesliga site, three out of the four teams in the final have the chops to win the title. Unfortunately, some teams will be missing their greatest stars. Cologne will probably be hopeless without injured Oksana Chusovitina. Chemnitz has lost Susann Herbst to injury, and Stuttgart will have to do without Marie-Sophie Hindermann. However, Stuttgart will have Kim Bui, who (like Fabian Hambuchen and Marian Dragulescu) withdrew from the World Cup vault final in order to help her club team win the national title. The fourth club, Hoffnungsthal, will be missing its Belgian star, Aagje Vanwalleghem, who did decide to go to Madrid. However, the club will be able to avail itself of the services of national team member Anja Brinker, who recovered from her injury sooner than expected and proved a force to be reckoned with in the club's last regular match before the final.
Kim Bui will skip the World Cup Final in favor of the Bundesliga Final (photo: AFP/Getty Images)
--- In men's gymnastics, the French, German, Swiss, and British under-16 teams had a friendly in Bristol, England, on Saturday, December 6. The hosts won comfortably, beating Switzerland by 411.750 to 403.500 and proving there's more to British men's junior gymnastics than Louis Smith. Germany placed third (391.950), 1.650 ahead of fourth-place France (390.300). In the individual all-around, the Brits scooped up all the medals. Reiss Beckford won, mostly thanks to an impressive 15.350 vault (84.250 total). Ashley Watson came second (83.550), while Max Whitlock ranked third (82.900). The first non-Brit was Switzerland's Oliver Hegi in fourth place (82.650). The complete results can be downloaded here (click on the link at the bottom of the page).
Team GB's new hope, Reiss Beckford (photo: BBC?)