AFTER about the third time her inging cell phone interrupted the questions of reporters, 2009 U.S. champion Bridget Sloan received
a piece of advice from someone who’s been
“Bridget, turn it on silent!” ordered Nastia
Liukin, sitting a few feet from Sloan and surrounded by her own cluster of journalists at the
American Airlines Center in Dallas, Aug. 15.
“Sorry,” replied Sloan in a didn’t-realize-it-bothered-you-so-much tone.
Liukin: “You’ve gotta learn these things.”
Chagrined, Sloan shot back, “Yes, ma’am.”
Sure, the Visa Championships had just ended,
with Sloan (Sharp’s Gymnastics) rallying from a
first-day fall on beam to surpass WOGA gymnasts Rebecca Bross and Ivana Hong for her first
national title. But the brief exchange between
Olympic sisters, while spontaneous and humorous on the surface, was also telling on another
Here was the indisputable queen of the Beijing
games—well below her own competitive standards—adjacent to the new 17-year-old princess
of U.S. gymnastics.
You got the feeling that Liukin, who turns 20
on Oct. 30, would have preferred to sit this one
out, but that probably wasn’t an option. Her
Olympian Bridget Sloan assumed
leadership of a U.S. team in transition