Monday, May 18, 2009

Youtube Gems #3


I missed Youtube so much while I was away.  So since I have been back, I have been fiendishly watching gymnastics of all sorts.  This week, amongst all my Beijing re-viewing, I have been going back over Steliana Nistor's career and a little of Cheng Fei, but also watching some random events. 
 This week's little Youtube gem, brought to me by 1997200usgymfan, an avid collector of late-nineties U.S. gymnastics coverage, was the 1999 World Championships team finals in Tianjin China. 
This contest was a goody. It was fun to revisit one of the last of the Russia/ Romania gold medal face-offs, and, being the year before the Sydney Olympics, there were a lot of amazing young gymnasts present getting into gear to perform at the big one.  Here's a few reasons why the 1999 worlds is worth watching;

For one thing, this contest takes you back to the days when boy, could Romania vault!  You only get to see maybe three of their vaults, but wow, they were so good.  It is hard to believe that there was not a single Romanian in the vault finals in Beijing.  I forgot how much I loved seeing Amanar do her thing over the horse.  She was amazing.

Also, this was the competition when it seemed like no one else but Romania could vault.  The Chinese were still flailing, their girls not powerful enough yet to get any grunt off the horse.  Svetlana Khorkina was still landing her second vault on her knees more often than on her feet and poor little Olga Roschupkina crunched her ankles on a painful landing, bringing her to tears.  The American girls were pretty good though, and little Miss Zammo was awe-some!

(Little Olga Roschupkina of Ukraine)

This competition harks back to those old, shockingly choreographed floor routines of China's.  This was back before they saw the light and enlisted the help of Adriana Pop to design their routines.  Ling Jie's manic little floor routine is all over the shop, her dance veering wildly between that typical, jerky, quite inelegant early Chinese dance and those freaky, hyper Martha-Karolyi-must-have-been-on-drugs-to-have-choreographed-this numbers from the eighties.  It was frightening.  But though she messed it up, her double spin into stag jump had some almightily good potential.

(Ling Jie on floor)

We Aussie gym fans get to see some a superb bars routine performed by Allanah Slater.  She was such a solid gymnast.  The routine was accompanied by a long diatribe by the commentators about Peggy Liddick's shift to Australia, and how fortunate we are, blah, blah.  Well, they are kind of right.  Under Peggy Liddick, we have thrived.  And our gymnasts are quite often so polished and so elegant.

(Aussie team in Tianjin)

Nice too see some Khorkina action, minus any drama or histrionics on hers or the media's part. Her bars was the one routine before the Sydney upgrade, but it still looked pretty good.  Her vaults were plain scary.  And lordy, i forgot about that old floor routine.  Hell, it was CHEESY!  
Yes, she is generally very elegant, and very graceful, and I can see why everyone compares her floor style to Nastia's.  But the one thing Nastia has got over Khorky, is that her floor work isn't cheesy (within the realm of gymnastics, of course, where all dance is fairly cheesy!)  The routine Khorkina used for Athens was much better.  It had more class than this.

(Maria Olaru in Tianjin)

It was good to see the very, very talented little Ekaterina Labuzniouk before her not-so-happy Sydney experience, doing a solid beam routine.  She still had her long hair back then, and gosh she was cute!  Near the end of her routine, she did that same urgent little sideways glance away from the beam, much like the one I remember oh-so-well during the Sydney team finals.  But this time I think it was just to see how  much times she had left on the clock, rather than to find out just how mad Arkaev is at her for falling off again!

This competition also saw yet another Vanessa Atler meltdown- this time on beam.  It is rather excruciating to watch.  I don't know what I was doing in the late nineties, because every other gymnast in this competition is incredibly familiar.  But I somehow completely missed this era in U.S gymnastics, particularly the famously unstable, yet phenomenally talented Atler's work.  Only now am I seeing her compete alongside the also unfamiliar (to me)work of Maloney and Ray.
I must admit I enjoy Ray's beam work.  I like her in the same way i like Chellsie Memmel.  I don't mind too much if a gymnast is not terribly graceful, as long as she is clean, and Ray and Memmel (and Sacramone on beam) were very, very clean.

(Elise Ray)

A few other little things that interested me in this contest were; 

The russian leotards.  I can't find a pic just yet, but they were very strange.  They really, really looked like they ought to be U.S.A leotards, the way they were designed. I'll keep trying to find an example. 
Amanar's gross overscoring on bars.  I have a very hard time, not having been a gymnast, working out bars scoring.  But to me, and most of the people who comment on this video, that routine looked pretty darn sloppy.  How did she get such a great score?

Seeing the teeny tiny Bai Chunyue perform a beam set.  She fell and was generally not very graceful, but lord she was small!

Seeing Natalya Hordna of Ukraine for the first time, who performed a lovely beam routine.  I wish this girl had gone further.

(By the way, a random question.  Do any readers know where I can get hold of the Athens women's event finals on Youtube- preferably the entire contest, not just routine clips ? I can only find floor.  I really, really want to see vault and beam.  Please let me know if you've seen it around.)



  1. I have not found complete coverage of EF ANYWHERE. which sucks.

    As for Atler, you should see her AA meltdown on floor - though that was also due to reinjuring her ankle.

    Beam finals, but only 4 routines. no full coverage of vt or ub.

  3. This is the floor finals I beleive:

    This is beam:

    This is bars (it's in French):

  4. I still have a pic from raducans FX final in 99 as my wallpaper!!

  5. I have some NBC coverage of Athens prelim/ team/ WAG AA/ WAG & MAG EF on DVD, so very US slanted; as well as some '99 Worlds all around (Eurosport coverage with UK commentator. Yes, Bai Chunyue was extremely tiny!!

  6. These are NBC's coverage of the event finals, which I found on gymmultimedia's site:
    Gymnastics- Event Finals Encore, Night 1 .wmv (88.48 MB)

    Gymnastics- Event Finals, Day 2 .wmv (258.54 MB)

    Gymnastics- Event Finals, Day 3.wmv (195.37 MB)