Saturday, April 17, 2010


If you haven't already guessed from my recent rumblings, I have been watching the 1989 World Gymnastics Championships again. I just watched the team finals. I picked it up again because various gymnastics related adventures lately have reminded me that it was one of the most amazing competitions EVER.

Gosh, the Soviets were incredible.  So were the Chinese!  And the Romanians, in parts.  I watched the British coverage, which is always delightful.  But here is a list some random observations- the shallow, inane, and sometimes just plain nitpicky observations I am likely to make- about the team comp.

1. This was one of those contests that made me realise why they changed the scoring system (but let me go on record saying I'd take the ten back any day!).
How did it work, exactly?  You give a girl a ten for a perfect single twist Yurchenko, you have to give the girl who does a double twisting one even if it has a dubious landing?  Because it was more difficult?

Look, as far as I am concerned, most of the gymnasts there rock the hell out of any gymnast that has come since.  They were creative, brilliant, beautiful and dynamic. BUT there was definitely some spurious tens awarded at that meet.

Like I said before, it felt like the Soviets just had to pass wind and they got a ten.  I understand the problem- how do you reconcile insane difficulty with simpler routines that had beautiful execution?  But I think the judges were just drunk with the ten-love by the end of it.

2. It's official.  I kinda knew it, but watching it again,  I am now gonna say it out loud.  Olga Strazheva's floor exercise at that comp is my all time favorite floor routine.  Brilliance!  And I have to say, Valorie Kondos Field got a LOT of mileage out of that routine for both Kate Richardson and Heidi Money maker later on.

3. If I had to liken any Soviet gymnast to Rebecca Bross,  It would be Natalia Laschenova.  Now, before you go getting all upset and up in arms, I KNOW Laschenova was a million times more graceful and brilliant and blah blah, but if we had to choose, it would be her.
Like Laschenova, Bross is phenomenally athletically gifted and does thing that make you gasp in spite of yourself.  Laschy blew every gymnast there out of the water for mad skills as far as I am concerned.  Bross also achieves her split positions and executes her leaps, but doesn't look nearly as pretty as some of her team mates doing it, like Laschy.
Though Laschy had the exemplary Soviet training that meant she executed magnificently, she certainly was the least graceful of her team.  I kinda wish she had won the AA, though.

(P.S. This is gonna sound weird, but I have a male, Nepalese friend who looks just like Natalia! Weird huh?!

4. Twinnies!! Olesia Dudnik and baby Lauren Mitchell when she had bangs (Hair twins at least!).

5. I have a bone to pick with Monica Phelps ( British commentator- I think it is her).  MP totally had it in for Cristina Bontas.  She completely wrote off Cristina's brilliant floor routine because she thought she was too young, and said that it didn't compare to Boginskaya.  Sure, no one could pull off the bizarre/brilliant like Bogey, but hell.  this was the year that Bontas's form finally matched her ability to tumble, and you go dismissing her 10 like that, Mon?  Not cool.  Bontas did a magnificent routine and you basically just said Pfft!

 (PS I cannot stand the Romanian leo- all that white at the front- it made their bones all boney, their tummy muscles bulge and their breasts all funny.  No good)

6. Also, Monica slayed me when she said that she would never have thought that Boginskaya would be able to pull off such a 'senuous' routine as her 89 floor ex (the crazy sexy avante garde air guitar la espanol one).  Is she freaking kidding?  Bogey had sensuous in the bag!  That is why I love the gym bad girls like Bogey, Khorky, Schwikert and Asac. They had the SASS factor.

7. Chelle Stack's floor routine?  Some choreographer out there had a serious amphetamine problem.  Had they cut the speed habit, they could have saved time and money by slowing the routine down, and divided all that crazy ass jumping around and dancing into two different routines.

8.  China.  Underscored mostly.  But then their floor work was kind of embarrassing back then.  But they were so achingly beautiful on beam.  Chen Cuiting was so gifted.  How sad she never had a hope against a bunch of judges not ready to pay China their due, and the sheer immensity of the Soviet's talent pool.  But we know, don't we?



  1. I was just rather disappointed they skipped over Brandy Johnson.

    I liked Wendy Bruce and Sandy Woolsey, though.

    BTW Laschenova went AFTER Dudnik.

  2. I agree with most of this but in fairness to Mon, I know she hated everybody, in particular harboured hatred for random Romanians such as Bontas and Olaru, she did say that Bontas' dance had improved.

    Also on the Bogi comment, I can see what she means, her 1988 and especially her 1987 routines don't exactly scream sexy at you

  3. Could you please post the link to the coverage you watched? thanks!

  4. Sure, Here

  5. If it's any consolation, the judges more than made up for the "unfair" tens for Dudnik's DTY by jacking Lysenko out of a ten for her DTY in Indy and giving Zmeskal a higher score for her less than Laschenova quality fty.

  6. I have a bone to pick with Monica Phelps too....was she honestly blind to the fact that her bastard husband was sexually abusing the girls he was coaching or did she just choose to turn a blind eye?