Nastia Liukin shaky at Visa Championships

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

ST. LOUIS -- In her first bars routine since Beijing, Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin faltered. She stalled on a handstand, had form breaks and opted not to do her dismount. The performance earned her just a 13.050.

But she rebounded with a strong balance beam that earned a 15.1. Every move was steady and her dismount was strong, and scored tied her fourth in the beam.

After the first day of competition at the Visa Championships, one of the events that will decide the Olympic team, Liukin said she still needs to add difficulty to her routine, including a full dismount.

"Do I wish I could be stronger? Do I wish I could be better? Do I wish I could have performed a 16.0 bar routine? Of course," Liukin said.

"It's a stepping stone. That bar routine might not have proven anything, but in my mind, it was to be able to get out there and perform that bar routine."

She admitted that she was always most nervous for the uneven bars. The routine was filled with uncharacteristic mistakes that even confused her father and her coach, Valeri Liukin.

She will have to decide if she will do the full bars routine.

"I haven't done a back-to-back competition in a long time, so we'll see. It's very mental, but also physical. Being 22 is a little different than being 16."

Now, she has to prepare for Sunday, the second day of events.

"Moving ahead, we have a day in-between of training, and hopefully, Sunday will go a little bit better, and then hopefully onto the Olympic Trials."

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