Twenty years later…

…and Olympic gymnastics is still a matter of power vs. elegance.

Remember this?

Daniela Silivas, 1988 Olympic All-Around, Floor Exercise:

Elena Shushunova, 1988 Olympic All-Around, Floor Exercise:

Daniela SilivasIt is perhaps a trifle unfair to label Silivas, the first woman to throw a double-twisting double back on floor, as the just “the elegant one,” and Shushunova, who had a well-choreographed Olympic floor routine, as just “the powerful one.”

Still, it’s an easy category to slip most standout gymnasts into, because it’s one of the two things that makes said athlete stand out. 2008 is unique because it’s the first time since the Seoul Games that the disparity between the two all-around front-runners has been quite this pronounced. Still, Gutsu vs. Miller. Khorkina vs. Raducan. Patterson vs. Khorkina — in nearly every Olympiad since 1984, it’s been there.

In 1992, it was the trickster Tatiana Gutsu, perhaps the least elegant gymnast to come out of the old Soviet system, who won over fragile-looking American Shannon Miller.

Lilia Podkopayeva, the 1996 Olympic champion, possessed a rare combination of power and grace. There’s never been another quite as good on both fronts as she was, even though Svetlana Khorkina may have in places done more difficult gymnastics.

Andreea Raducan had a poorly choreographed beam routine but was one of the few to really dance on floor. Few would make the mistake of calling Carly Patterson’s choppy style balletic.

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12 Responses to “Twenty years later…”

  1. TCO Says:

    Yeah Nastia could be a pretty ballerina or a rythmic gymnast, but this is artistic gymnastics and an elite who can’t do a double tuck on floor is LAME. Heck in 1984, she would be lame for that! Even 80! And we are 20+ years later, with all kinds of improvements in training methods. So Nastia with flexibility and MISSING tumbling is less of a gymnast to me than Shawn with non-Nastia splits, while having Shushanova capability tricks.

  2. shergymrag Says:

    Nastia does a double tuck in her second pass. Ha!

  3. dave Says:

    if she needed to i’m sure she could do a double pike, full-in or easily just a double tuck in addition to some of her twisting, which would have been plenty for the 80’s.

    a front full punch double full is a very challenging pass, is she as powerful a tumbler as Shawn or others, no, but she is by no means a bad tumbler.

  4. TCO Says:

    That’s a front double. If she can’t do a double back, she should be ashamed.

  5. TCO Says:

    And it’s cowboyed to HELL.

  6. shergymrag Says:

    Double back tuck is a C. Double front tuck is an E. People claim Nastia doesn’t do a double tuck in her routine, completely ignoring the fact that she does do one and it’s worth an E. What’s Lame is acting like E skills don’t count. Another lame thing is pretending that double back tumbling is superior to double front tumbling when it’s not.

  7. mrsolis Says:

    I’m a little bit surprised when I read the article speaking about the two front runners for the AA in BEijing. It isn’t even mentioned the names Nastia or Shawn, but I guess that was it. You really doesn’t even consider other country’s gymnast for the AA? Jiang Yuyuan or Yang Yilin could easily win in a good day, not to mentioned the advantage in SV for Jiang (she has grace and power all together) on the 4 events related to Johnson and Liukin…
    Anyway it’s a pity artistry is not rewarded anymore because I think that even cowboying NAstia’s Fx is beautiful and I would like her to contend for a FX medal and not Johnson who has good thumbling but otherwise graceless routines…

  8. bettycoltrane Says:

    No one’s saying she doesn’t do a double front. People are saying that she does it disgustingly badly, cowboyed to the extreme and even when she manages to land it it looks like a goddamn accident. You wanna see someone who knows how to do a double front do a double front? Watch Ivana Hong.

  9. shergymrag Says:

    “No one’s saying she doesn’t do a double front.” I see post after post talking about Nastia’s lack of a double back. Look at TCOs first post. It’s perfectly understandable to me if somebody says, “her double front is ugly”. But that’s not what they say. They say, “she doesn’t do a double back!”

  10. Marcus Says:

    Okay, I know this is an old post, but the first woman to compete a double double on floor was, to my knowledge, Aleftina Priakhina (can also be spelled a million other ways)

    Bogi did it in 1987, too, just not at worlds

  11. Beth Says:

    Like Szabo beofre them, Silivas and Miller were both the better gymnast in their respective Olympics (very much so in Silivas’ case) and were both undermarked on the vault. If Miller’s 1st vault in the all-around was not a 10, then I haven’t seen a 10. Silivas was the star of Seoul – the thundering Shushonova was uninspiring and thumping. I’m confused by the US system – Nastia and Miller are the exception. They seem to go for flapping-footed Jana Bieger / Bridget Sloan powerhouses and pay no attention to detail. Detail is what made Miller, Silivas and Liukin great. I think Mattie Larson has that kind of grace, incidentally. Johnson is of the powerhouse ilk, but has star quality so it doesn’t matter so much. Dobre is the most similar gymnast to the wonderful Podkapayova, if we’re thinking of grace and power. Finally, Olessia Dudnik seemed to echo that also – she seemed to disappear though?

  12. elitegymgirls Says:

    My take on Olympics 1976-Beijing (minus 1980):
    Nadia over everybody.
    Ecaterina over Mary Lou, but only because I don’t like Mary Lou.
    Elena over Daniela, but just barely.
    Shannon over Tatiana.
    Lilia owned Atlanta.
    Andreea is the rightful AA champ.
    Carly isn’t fit to tie Sveta’s shoes.
    I prefer Shawn over Nastia.


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