(Video-heavy post ahead.)
I forget where I found this questionnaire, but thank goodness I did.
I will say it right out loud: I am a fan of the sport of gymnastics.
However, there is a caveat to my being a fan.
I prefer the “old school” gymnastics, pre-2001. Anything after 2001, I stopped watching. So, you know, I’m not up on today’s gymnastics. I know nothing about the current Code or the coaches or who’s big in the sport or anything like that. I don’t even know who won in the last Olympics, for cryin’ out loud! So.
And I have never really been a fan of college gymnastics, either. Just so you know.
So. That’s the caveat.
Now, on with the questionnaire.
1. Favorite gymnast?
~ Shannon Miller, no question. Followed closely by Tatiana Lysenko. Followed closely by all the others that are my favorites, of which there are many, so they’d all be tied for third. I can’t even give you names at this point. Name a gymnast (at least pre-2001) and they would be a favorite of mine.
This is Shannon’s gold medal winning routine from the 1996 Olympics:
I just want to take one minute to single out Oksana Chusovitina. She is truly a legend of gymnastics. She has competed in 6 Olympics (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012) and, rumor has it, her 7th appearance at an Olympics will be in 2016 in Rio. In the 2008 Olympics, she won the individual silver medal on vault. Her career in the sport has spanned almost 25 years! She is simply incredible, and is an inspiration to many. I think she’s just gotten better with age.
2. Ugliest leotard you’ve seen?
~ It would have to be this one, which Kim Zmeskal was guilty of wearing first back in the early 90s, and then they brought it back recently, I gather. It’s just so damn loud and ugly!:
3. Best leotard you’ve seen?
~ The best leotards are often the simplest ones, of which there are too many to show you. Because they are elegant and unadorned and clean. Out of so many, I only chose two examples to show you. I liked the USA’s 1996 team optionals leotard, as well as the 1992 Unified Team’s leotard.
4. Favorite skill to watch on beam?
~ All of them. Beam intrigues me, simply because of the difficulty and precision involved. I’ve been on a beam before, and can barely walk two steps on it! Watch this routine by Tatiana Gutsu, back from the 1992 Olympics. Her routine at the time was considered the most difficult in the world.
5. Favorite skill to watch on bars?
~ Most of the release moves are spectacular to watch. I can’t name them all, because I don’t really remember what they all are. I know there’s Tkatchev and Gienger; those are two of the more common moves. This is one of my favorite routines I’ve ever seen, courtesy of Amy Chow who won the individual silver medal for this routine.
6. Favorite skill to watch on floor?
~ A double layout, no question. So amazing. Watch Lavinia Milosovici do this skill as her first tumbling pass.
And Kim Zmeskal had a tumbling pass once which consisted of three whipbacks through to a double back. That was always a showstopper. It’s her second pass in this routine.
7. Favorite vault to watch?
~ About all I know is Yurchenkos. I know there are Arabians and Tsukaharas and a whole bunch of others. But, as far as any singular vault, Shannon Miller’s near-perfect-10 vault from the 1992 Olympic all-around competition still gives me chills.
8. Which gymnast shows the most personality?
~ That was Dominique Moceanu, most definitely. To quote a Tumblr user, her “Devil Went Down to Georgia” routine still slays after all these years. (Just, you know, block out the commentators, and watch the performance.)
And also Andreea Raducan. Especially in her reaction from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when she won the all-around (fair and square, if you ask me, but you didn’t).
9. Who’s the diva?
~ The two Svetlanas, Boginskaya and Khorkina.
10. Favorite team to root for?
~ The underdog team, always. No, really, that makes sense.
11. Who’s the most underrated gymnast?
~ Both Dina Kochetkova of Russia and Gina Gogean of Romania. Both of them were strong all-around competitors, meaning they could do almost no wrong on any apparatus, and they are both two of my favorite gymnasts of all time.
Here is a good routine of Dina’s on floor, from the 1994 Worlds.
And here is Gina, in her bronze medal winning beam routine from the 1996 Olympics.
12. Who’s the most overrated gymnast?
~ Can’t say. Because I’m unfamiliar with anyone currently in the sport.
13. Best mount on beam you’ve seen?
~ Wow. Hard to say! Like I said, beam is difficult, so any mount ever is going to be the best I’ve ever seen, at least to a layman like me. Watch the strength involved in this mount from Yang Bo (considered one of the best beam workers ever):
14. A gymnast you just don’t like?
~ Both Kristen Maloney and Nastia Liukin – they both just seemed so snooty and big-headed, and I wish I could figure out why I thought that.
15. A rule you would change about the sport?
~ Bring back the compulsories. That made the sport a sort of level playing field.
16. Dream team of 6 gymnasts?
~ Oooh. Hard! Definitely Shannon Miller and Tatiana Lysenko. And then….I don’t know. I can’t choose! They’ve all been so awesome!
17. The current system or the perfect 10?
~ Go back to the perfect 10. I am not that familiar with the current system, but I know I don’t like it.
18. Favorite floor music that’s been used?
~ I’m biased for any of Shannon Miller’s floor music. But really, most of the floor routines I’ve seen, the music perfectly corresponded with the personality of the individual gymnast. I really can’t choose a favorite. They were all pretty good.
19. Elite or NCAA?
20. When and why did you start watching gymnastics?
~ I started watching gymnastics with one particular summer Olympics, when I was 11 years old. And I really wanted to give the sport a try after that, but I was told I was too old to start. Didn’t stop me from trying. Or pretending. Oh well. C’est la vie.
As closing, I leave you with one of my favorite routines ever, of any gymnast I’ve ever seen. It’s Tatiana Lysenko, from the 1992 Olympic event finals. She won the gold medal for this routine. She just attacks the beam. I love it!
I’ll try to do better next post.