Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Couch Gymnasts Beam Awards...

Alright, so it looks like beam is winning the events poll (though there is five hours left so it could change). It's funny, though i chose beam myself, I wasn't sure if it would be the most popular event for others.
I wondered if floor might be. Would floor have been the favorite before they put in the new code?
I wonder, if like me, most people think the fun has gone out of floor with the new emphasis on difficulty. It's too heartbreaking to watch the gorgeous routines not even being rewarded for it. But beam still has a little space for those gorgeous lines and graceful moves-as long as they paired with freakishly difficult tricks!
So, even though the poll ain't over yet, and floor could still edge out beam- though i will happily write another entry on floor-here's a list of gymnasts I love for their contribution to making beam such an awesome and beautiful event.

Li Shanshan for everything,. But most of all of the full turn in 180 split and that back layout that just seems to float up and around like it had all the time in the world to get back to the ground.

Henrietta Onodi for.... well.... the Onodi! Like her, it is one of the most beautiful things in gymnastics, and a move I am happy to see used over and over again, unlike the side somi. It's a move that makes all body types look graceful and has just enough daring to still be a little bit spectacular.

Ludmilla Ezhova for incredible longevity in the sport and her general beam briliance. She always looked good on beam despite her pint size. But most of all, I want to thank her (let me see if i have this right, I am sure someone will let me know if i haven't) for her Onodi-to-front-aerial-to-side-somi tumbling row.

The Romanians for always, always, despite the shifts and fluxes in their overall greatness as a team, being solid and often exciting beam workers. Of course there was always the standouts like Ponor and Dobre and Comaneci but even as a general rule, you could always count on them to pull of a beam rotation.

Svetlana Khorkina for her Gainer two-and-a-half (?) off the side of the beam. She always had to be a little bit different didn't she? But here, it worked.

Yang Bo for her stunning, breathtaking, and too often heartbreaking beam work. And for the Yang Bo, one of the prettiest leaps in gymnastics.

Carly Patterson for landing the hardest tricks like she weighed no more than a feather.

Elyse Hopfner-Hibb for her adventurous beam work, including that aerial cartwheel to two layout , her front handspring mount and her illusion turn and for surprising us all with that 2006 World Beam bronze.

Lauren Mitchell for being a new talent in beam that (hopefully) is yet to prove herself. Her unfortunate flub during Beijing took her out of beam finals, but I am hoping she will step up for the London World because that routine is highly difficult with its front aerial to two feet into a back tuck, as well as a standing punch front, and also lovely to watch. it would be fantastic to see an Australian specialist come through in a major final.

I don't ussually do NCAA in this blog (not by choice, I just only get to see what's available on Youtube, but i have to put Grace Taylor in this list for her standout beam work for the Georgia Gym Dogs over the last few years. Her performances are always gracefull, difficult and from what I hear, rarely missed. She has won eight beam titles in her Georgia Career and deservedly so.

Iryna Krasnyanskaya for her very, very beautiful beam work. While she generally excells at beam, and has good difficulty, she also maintains a level of beauty with moves like her handstand full turn in split lower to front pike hold, her switch ring leap and her full turn with leg at 180. She is immensely graceful and it was exciting to see her take that title in 2006 as a triumph for both for beautiful gymnastics and the checquered Ukrainian record books.


  1. Shawn never makes the toughest tricks hard. Also, even on tour she pulls out some crazy moves.

  2. What about kui yuanyuan,awesome layout full.The highest ever

  3. i am so glad you included yezhova! She is one of my favorite gymnasts ever for innovative and creative routines. I always felt she was overlooked (Competing with Ziganshina, Khorkina, Zamolodchikova and Produnova probably isnt easy) but maintained her style.

  4. I would throw in Mo Huilan. Her 1995 Worlds ef routine is widely regarded as one of the all-time greatest beam routines.

  5. oooh what about Hollie Dykes?? When she could stay on of course

  6. Would like to see Betty Okino on this list just for the triple turn alone. And the fact that she regularly did a double turn with no bobbles. Girls today can't do a full turn without wobbling!
    She also had some awesome press handstand mounts and solid tumbling (for the early 1990's)

  7. Johnsons for how her series is so, so, sooooooo...connected. Not like Alicia, calling two tricks in succession with a pause in between, a connection.

  8. bless your heart!
    i love exhova, pavlova reminds me of her too.

    yang bo is, of course, the QUEEN of the beam, save for those mistakes that always prevented her from winning the big titles.

    what about fan ye?

  9. oh and i LOVE onodi!
    i always felt like she was underscored on beam. she attacked it a lot like lysenko.
    bless those hungarians!