Utah Gymnastics Notes: Ford says she's ready despite injured finger

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Nicolle Ford rolled her eyes and looked at her taped finger in disgust.

"I'm sick of talking about it," she said. "I don't like to sit out of meets, and something so minor as a finger isn't going to keep me out. I don't want people to think I'm a wimp or something."

And with that, Utah's junior gymnast put an end to anymore talk of the finger, the one she dislocated in Sunday's practice and was feared broken.

Enough of the injury, and bring on top-ranked Georgia. Ford, whose season may have ended if it had been broken, said before Thursday's practice she'll be ready to compete in the all-around. No one is going to tell her otherwise.

"Oh, oh no," was the incredulous response from Utah coach Greg Marsden, when asked if he dared tell his most competitive gymnast she might not be able to compete Monday. "Apparently, the training staff and coaches were the only ones who thought it was a big deal. For her, it's much ado about nothing, but that's Queenie."

Fireworks start early

Marsden and Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan will appear together on KUTV's "Talkin' Sports" on Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. The two are college gymnastics' winningest coaches, with Marsden owning 10 national titles and Yoculan six. Both are known for being as outspoken as they are successful.

Marsden likens their relationship to that of a brother and sister, always sparring, but ultimately there is no one the other enjoys competing against more - even if it's just a sports show.

"It could go anywhere," Marsden said. "Who knows what could happen. I know Suzanne won't hold back, and neither will I."

She'd do it again

Georgia hasn't competed in Salt Lake City in a dual meet since 1991 but did compete in the Huntsman Center during the 1999 NCAA Championships. That event was marked with controversy after Yoculan protested the regional seedings for the qualifying competition to the NCAAs. Georgia was ranked No. 1 and scheduled to go to Corvallis, Ore., in a difficult region. After her protest, Utah was sent instead and Georgia was paired in a weaker region in Logan.

Both teams advanced, but Yoculan was booed by Utah fans at the NCAA Championships. Even so, she said she'd do it again.

"Yeah, that hurt, it would hurt anybody," she said. "But the regional seedings were a new process, and I felt like I had to do what was right for my team, and I didn't think the No. 1 team should have to travel three time zones to compete when no one else had to."

Two champions

Georgia freshman Courtney Kupets is ranked No. 1 in the all-around and on the uneven bars, the event she won a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics. Kupets also won the uneven bars title at the 2002 World Championships, becoming the first U.S. world champion since 1994. A day later, Utah's Ashley Postell won the world championship on the balance beam.

"I was excited to see her win, because I realized I had a chance to win too," Postell said.

Georgia at Utah

MONDAY, 7 p.m., KJZZ