So MMWO stands for Missy Marlowe’s Wasatch Open. Our coach has sent the travel compulsory girls to this meet for a few years but this is the first time he had the optional girls go.

In case this is your first time reading my posts, USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic program has levels 1-10. At level 1-5, all the girls do EXACTLY the same routines and skills. At level 6-10, the girls have to include a certain number of skills of certain difficulty but there is a decent list from which they get to pick.

Anyway, this was our first trip to Salt Lake City and, given our VERY QUICK trip to Las Vegas, we decided that even though she competed on Friday, we would stay in town Saturday and not drive back home until Sunday. It was a good decision, even though we didn’t really get to see very much of Salt Lake City. But more on that, in a minute.

Last meet I set my camera on 1/200s shutter speed and bumped the over-exposure to +3. The lighting and lack of graininess was good but her hands and feet were still blurry, sometimes. So I bumped up the shutter speed to 1/250s but the lighting was worse. So this time my photos were a LOT grainier that I really wanted. Since I can’t see the graininess on the preview screen of the camera, I’m not really sure how I can prevent this in the future, but I’ll try to think of something.

I tried to get more ‘candid’ photos, but a lot of them were so grainy, I don’t want to share. I have a photo of the whole level 8 team watching the level 10 girls. I also have a photo of them lining up by height at march-in… not by age, by height… the oldest girl is smack dab in the middle, as far as height.

This time they started on floor… which meant beam was very last… which, I think, was good.

So floor.

She did NOT fall on her second tumbling pass, she did, however, take a rather large step on her first tumbling pass. But even with that, she scored much closer to the range that she’s used to, she got a 9.2.

And I actually captured decent video of her routine so I tried to pick photos that were beautiful moments, and not try to pick enough photos to give the reader continuity through the routine. Here’s what I picked for still photos.

And here’s the video, I didn’t even edit to zoom in or anything.

MMWO Floor from Meg White on Vimeo.

Next, she went to vault. Her vaults were better than last week, too. She took a big step on each vault but last week, I think she actually put her hands down on her second vault… This time she pulled a 9.1 out of it. Two 9’s this early in the season is a very good sign of strong performances ahead.

Again, it just seemed like the timing of the shots was a bit off for the still photos. Plus, her coach was standing between us and her, making sure she didn’t fall on her face, but still getting in the way of my photography. Here are the few shots that look cool and not too awkward.

Using my free video editing software, I zoomed in a touch and spliced the two vault runs together into one 30 second video.

MMWO Vault from Meg White on Vimeo.

Bars, of course, was next. (Because the rotation is always vault-bars-beam-floor.) This is where my rookie video skills showed up, again. I was trying to be so careful but I think it’s because the bars were so far away. The first part of the video is blurry but I caught it and I got it in focus as she went to the high bar.

She had a big stumble on the landing. She said she tripped over a wrinkle in the mat as she landed. So she got a little lower than her usual 9s on bars, she got an 8.750. But that step was, at least, a three tenths deduction, so she was on track for another 9.150.

The distance really killed me, I usually get such beautiful shots of her on bars since she is so proficient and graceful there.

And the, not so stellar, video.

MMWO Bars from Meg White on Vimeo.

Finally, her most dreaded event: Beam. But, because it was last, and because she had some good routines on the other events, I think she was a little bit less nervous.

She fell just once this time.

She fell in the middle of her back walkover that is part of her required acrobatic series (meaning there are two skills in a row – series – and one’s in the air – acrobatic). But, she’s allowed to do two back walkovers in her routine (she usually only does one), so because of that, she was able to start the series over and get points for the series and only get docked for the fall. (If she falls on her back handspring, the acrobatic part, she usually doesn’t do it over so I think she usually loses more points than just the fall.)

Oh, she also really fought to stay on the beam on her 3/4 jump turn, and succeeded, but probably still got a few tenths taken off since, obviously, she didn’t nail her landing.

As we were waiting for her score, my mom asked me what I thought she would get. I said, “Because she was able to do the whole series after she fell, she might hold onto an 8…”

The score popped just seconds later… exactly an 8.000.

Still photos from beam are always my best, even though it is her “worst” event. I put quotes around it because when she stays on the beam, she’s gorgeous.

Video is also always great on beam (okay, twice it’s been great).

MMWO Beam from Meg White on Vimeo.

So, with all of this, she ended up with 4 medals and a team trophy. She got 2nd on vault, 3rd on bars, 2nd on floor, and 5th all around, plus the team got fourth place. I have 5 photos but that’s because I’m including two of the team (because one girl left before the salute but somehow I sensed something and I had taken photos of them cramming together behind the 4th place sign). I did not get a photo of her bars medal… 😦

Oh, and Missy Marlowe is in the background of her all-around photo. Em thought it was so cool that Missy was there to give out the awards. Why is Missy Marlowe such a big deal? She is an Olympian, that’s why. She was on the US Olympic gymnastics team in Seoul, Korea, in 1988. The team came in fourth, only .3 points behind East Germany after a .5 deduction on a technicality. She also went on to compete at University of Utah and was an All-American all four years.

So, that was Friday. Remember, I said we decided to stay all weekend to have a better vacation that we had in Vegas? Well, it snowed on Saturday. A lot. And I am so tired of snow. I’m the driver on these trips but I lost all desire to sight-see when it snowed. I think the rest of the family did not really want to wander around outside the temple or other touristy areas in the snow, either.

We did take a cab back to the convention center and watched a few more sessions of Wings girls compete. We saw Em’s gym sister compete… I cannot really believe that Em was that tiny once, but I know she was. And, small world that it is, her gym sister is the daughter of one of my co-workers, so it was nice to talk to his wife and try to help her understand the craziness of gymnastics meets.

I’m glad we stayed, even if we didn’t do anything touristy. Based on Facebook posts of other parents who tried to head home Friday night, the roads were awful, some even gave up and stayed at funky little motels on the road because it wasn’t safe to drive. When we drove home Sunday, there was some winter driving through Snowville, UT, (go figure) but it wasn’t scary bad, just cautious, and once we passed the junction of I-82 and I-84, it was nice weather and a good drive.

Maybe we’ll have a better “vacation” in Phoenix. It’s supposed to be in the 70’s while we’re there; that sounds divine.

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