Thursday, June 18, 2009

Youtube Gems #200048!

The 1994 Goodwill Games team Competition

So, 19972000USgym fan put this tasty little gymnastics treat up in the last week or so.  This is a fantastic contest for many reasons, particularly the calibre of gymnasts competing, that it has some of the last decades best gymnasts at interesting times in their career and because it shows the Ukes and the Russians just after the transition was made to independant states.  This team competition has everything.  Here are some of the things that made it such an interesting gymnastics viewing experience.

The young Svetlana Khorkina was there and she was divine.  That early beam routine she used to do would have to go into my top ten of all time beam routines.  I really loved how the russian used forward rolls on beam back then.  I don't know why, but I like 'em.  I also love her floor routine from that time.  There wasn't quite so much playing up to the camera/crowds/judges but she still had such musicality and originality- in fact perhaps more so than later.  It was great to hear Kathy Johnson say, after Svetlana Khorkina landed a stunning triple twist, "For all you tall gymnasts out there, there is hope.  She is phenomenal and gorgeous!"

In fact, the whole Russian team was a delight.  particularly Fabrichnova who was so, so talented, though her floor music made me giggle a little!  And as ever, I was delighted to see a competition where we actually got to see Dina Kochetkova  show off her unbelievable combination of height and grace.

It was interesting to see Ukraine in this very early transition period, especially in comparison to the Russians.  The Ukes were very tense as usual, but in many ways very much resembled the Soviets of old still, including the red and white leo.  They were beautifully trained and lovely to watch, but you could see that the Russians had moved leaps and bounds in front of them already, particularly in terms of innovation.  Kathy Johnson also repeatedly referred to how relaxed and funloving the Russians had been in training, despite the immense difficulty of their tricks.

The Lilipod was there, and doing my favorite version of her floor routines.  You know, it wasn't simply because she had such great execution and flair that i enjoyed her beam and floor so much, it was also the mere fact that she always went with the unusual leap or interesting jump.  It made her stand out.

On the vaulting front Olga Knizhnik's Cuervo vault left me breathless though she didn't quite hit the landing.  Also, is it just me or did Olga Knizhnik look incredibly sickly?  She was so pale and twiggy looking it made me nervous.  Yelena Piskun had immense power (love that girl) and I just adore watching Shannon Miller vault.  Even when she didn't hit, she made such a lovely swallow shape in the air.  I always think she and Mo Huilan had very similar vaulting form.  A Kazakh gymnast Irina Evodkimova did a great handspring full vault in a fabulously eighties leotard! And it is always strange going back to the old vaulting horse.  I get scared every time someone vaults!

It was an very interesting time for US gymnastics.  Miller as veteran had a patchy beam routine.  The thirteen-year-old (talk about pressure!) Jennie Thomson, Nunno's post-Miller protege was a bundle of nerves and gymnasts I had never really seen before like Soni Meduna weren't too hot either.  Marianna Webster did a nice beam set though.

Speaking of beam, it was funny to watch the Romanians after the Russians.  They looked so clunky and high speed.  They sped up and down the length of the plank kicking and jumping and looking decidedly ungraceful.  I really wasn't impressed even though they were all doing four tumbling elements in a row.

The whole contest was a virtual punch front-o-rama too!  I would be hard-pressed to name gymnasts who didn't use it as a beam mount (the Miller wasn't performing hers- there's one!) and they were all over the floor routines.  What I love about the Russian girls is they often land their punch fronts on floor from exactly where they took off which looks so precise and spectacular.  Most gymnasts move forward, I guess because they are a little under-rotated from the trick they have come out of.  It just looks so much better when the Russians did it.

The other popular move at this meet was the wolf leap, which has clearly had a renaissance this last quad too.  And just like now, many of them were so badly performed.  I don't get it.  They don't look that (comparatively) hard.  What gives?

And Grosheva's tkatchev on bars.  OMG!  


  1. Just wanted to correct you on a little something I noticed. Its actually not Olga Knizhnik, its Oksana Knizhnik. Just wanted to make you aware. ; )

  2. No, that;s fine, thanks for correcting me. I get all Olga and Oksana and Elena and Yelena'ed out sometines! I think i will wing it then i put in the wrong name! Ya!

  3. Shannon Miller has really abd jet lag during this competition. She was throwing up backstage from what I heard. It was amazing how much better she got through the competition. Her EF would have won the AA.

  4. Oh no, 19972000USgym fan's account has been closed! :(