Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The "It Took a While…But They Grew on Me in the End" List

1. Vanessa Ferrari
When I first saw her, I didn’t like her. I thought her gymnastics was a bit brutish, that she was built like a fire hydrant (and wearing a tank leo- I’m totally with you on that one, Perfect Ten. They are highly unflattering) . And that she was all tricks. Then I watched the Aarhus All-Around again and really, she deserved to win that meet.
Before you say it, I KNOW she had a fall on beam, but I have decided "the whole winning while falling because of the new code of points outrage thing" is as much out of my control as a plane crash so I am just going to take a deep breath and remind myself once again that in the face of the quite uninspired gymnastics that day, she was the best out there even if i don't like the new system.
Besides, if call-that-a-planche- Jana Bieger had won, I would have cried. I hate to jump on the anti-Jana bandwagon, but her gymnastics is Not Pretty and that planche she did was just a momentarily tilted handstand as far as i am concerned.
Also, it had to be Vanessa's because Izbasa, Dikes and Joura were nowhere near ready to win that kinda crown (yet). Nastia had a sore foot and Ashley Priess very sadly flubbed her floor, so they were out for the count.
I didn’t really like Vanessa’s form and if we are going to be petty, her fringe, but I have to admit that her floor routine at the end was amazing and deserving of that title.

2. Maria Olaru
I guess I never really disliked Olaru, but I never really thought about her either. Then I saw her being awarded at the Romanian Gymnastics Federation and thought, she looks kind of cool and interesting these days, which led me to read an interview about what she is doing now, which in turn led me to look back at her gymnastics. I think what I liked most about her as I watched again was her steady all-around ability and, most of all, the tricks she pulled in spite of her height

3. Shannon Miller
The problem with Miller for me was that as an Australian, I was bored of hearing about her before I even saw her. And back then, I have to admit I was still a little anti the rise of the American gymnast. Then, when You Tube began to provide a wealth of old competitions and I went right back through gymcomp history, I had to appreciate her. She was graceful and so light, and yet so powerful. And in spite of what people were saying, she was not a robot succumbing to the pressure of her coaches. You could see it in her face. She wanted to win. Bad.

4. Elena Zamolodchikova
Never liked her gymnastics. Not one little bit. I could admire her vaulting and tumbling, but the rest? Please. Her form was always so sloppy, her beam routines her set at a ridiculously high speed and she had all the grace of an ostrich when she danced. Her floor victory in Sydney was pretty cool and I have to admit I nearly cried for her when neither coach nor Khorky celebrated with her.
Later though, there was something so sad and bittersweet in watching her slow demise occur in the public arena. Everyone always talked nostalgically about Queen Khorky as the last of the Soviet gymnasts, because of her style, but really, it was Zamo. She not just a competitor for her country and her team. She was an employee. If they needed her, she'd do it- and they just kept putting her on that Russian team didn’t they?
I had to admire her total commitment to them in those years they tried to find their way after Russia swift demise in the gymnastics world, even when it was clear that she, individually, was no longer the gymnast she was.

5. Chellsie Memmel
Chellsie arrived in my field of vision in a time when I was still coming to terms with American power gymnastics. I have to admit I had a bit of a distaste for her style at first. Then, over the years I grew not just to admire her, but to really love her work . She is now my all-time favorite U.S gymnast. She had such a wow factor, especially in tumbling and beam. She was powerful, precise, and though her slightly larger size didn’t always show it off, she had fabulous form. Her toes were nearly always pointed and her splits were complete.
I also loved how, while she was competing, she looked fierce and fiery and sometimes downright scary, and then after a comp she’d be interviewed and she was so sweet and smiley and well-spoken.
I also came to love how every time I thought I’d have to count her out, she would come back with a vengeance. Chellsie is the gymnastics equivalent of the gift that keeps on giving!
When I saw her full return at Nationals and trials this time around I was just blown away by the way she picked up where she left off. Then, Tragedy! I was only just recovered from the training camp whiplash scare when I heard she injured her ankle. I was beyond sad for her. She, more than anyone , even A-Sac, deserved to compete on that team. Though now it is over, for the sake of her beleaguered body, I kind of hope she retires. On the other hand, for purely selfish reasons, I wish she’d go on and on and on.

6. Daria Joura
I have to admit that at first I thought she was an insipid little bit with her cutesy smile and kinda cheesy salute. But then as she matured into one of the best gymnasts Australia has ever produced, I grew to love her and her fabulous floor routines. I was so heartbroken for her at Beijing. An injury and a black eye to boot. Poor thing! She had a outside shot at a bronze and she didn’t get to find out if she was worth her mettle. It is fairly safe to assume that she won’t be at London, but you never know, do you?


  1. Today is Steliana Nistor's birthday and we started a new blog for her . If you want to check it - > http://steliananistor.wordpress.com

  2. thank you. I will. Good luck with it! I am having so much fun doing mine.