Thursday, October 8, 2009


I swear, you would have been hard-pressed (ha ha) to find an Italian gymnast who doesn't open her balance beam routine with a straddle press through to v-sit or a planche mount in the last quad at some time or another.  Macri, Parolari, Ferrari, Galante, Bennoli, Bergamelli etc.  The list goes on.

Of course there are different variations.  Ferrari did that impressively tough planche move, while Galante did the full turn in a split handstand before lowering down.

Now it seems the newbies are following the tradition.  Emily Armi, whose compact, strong physique is not unlike Ferraris, does a cool stag-handstand planche to open.  Preziosa performs a nice leggy straddle press stand. Lichetta ditto. Ferlito ditto.

You know I wonder if like Marta Karolyi, the Italian coaches don't want the girls to do any risky jumping or tumbling moves onto the beam and risky a fall so early on?  While that is wise, I suppose, the Italians have found a more interesting way around it than the mere hop on the beam Marta favours so much.

I am not the biggest fan of the straddle press to handstand.  Most of the time, when I see a gymnast standing at the side of the beam and I know what is coming, I am all like 'oh, just hurry up', but I see it is a clever way to start because it is comparatively safe and shows off strength and flexibility at the same time.  I have an irrational hatred of Liukin's press mount, though.  Never been sure why.

But I kind of like that all this weight bearing and balancing has become a trademark of the oft-elegant Italians.  They must really have their core strength down!

And today I discovered that the tradition went back further than I thought, Way back in 1989, Giulia Volpi, the Italian gymnast with the fanciest (read largest) bangs in the business, started off her beam routine in a straddle press, half turn to planche! It was pretty impressive, and for that we will forgive her for introducing a side somi to the scene so early in the game. At least she fell off doing it. Karma's a b#$*# like that...

Watch it HERE (or YOUTUBE)



  1. Hahahaha That's true!!!Here in Italy it's almost obligatory have a straddle press mount but i don't know why!!i'm a gymnast and i do it too!Maybe it's more safer and you can show your strenght....
    However i controlled and all the gymnasts of the italian team (seniors and juniors) mount with a straddle press or a planche!

  2. here in Spain most girls mount with round off layout step out XD
    seems that each country have their representative mount

  3. LOL about the side somi.

  4. Great post! I guess Greece is the country of RO-LOSO mount on BB too, just like Spain.
    Not that we have so many elite gymnasts, but still...

  5. All the Russians seem to forward roll on the beam. =)

  6. Yes, my daughter too mount with straddle press handstand (we are italian) and yes the reason the coaches find for this is that's a safe way and help concentration in the beginning of event. They say "hey, remember A-Sac in Beijing?". So, ....